Busted: Developing Switch Timing Skills


When someone is learning to scan using one switch there are two key skills that they need to practice. The first is the ‘timing’ skill. This involves the student pressing the switch in response to some cue often something popping up on the screen. In the Switch Progression Road Map, it’s described as;

20: Student can press a single switch in response to an on-screen cue.

The most common way to teach this skill has always been with software. You know the thing. A car pops up on the screen and the student hits the switch when they see it. If the student manages to press the switch before the car disappears, they are rewarded with a short animation. Sounds easy and for some of our students it is.


Continue ReadingBusted: Developing Switch Timing Skills

Babies and Bathwater: The social element of cause & effect


So here’s the thing… I’m sat in a quiet classroom with six students all busy using some of the cause and effect apps I’ve been recommending over the last six months. Everyone is busy doing their own thing. The students are touching the iPad screen and generating wonderful patterns and sound effects with the movement of their fingers. They are looking, listening and in some cases responding with smiles and sounds.

So why do I feel so uneasy, after all, I’m sat in a quiet classroom and everyone is busy doing their own thing.


Continue ReadingBabies and Bathwater: The social element of cause & effect

Complex Needs and Switches: It could be you!

I had a lovely day yesterday. I spent it in the company of five colleagues from a special school in the Midlands who had asked me to work with them to develop their use of switches in school. This was a good school where ICT is used in a way which was meaningful and appropriate to the needs of their students and where possible, embedded in their lessons. We spent the morning session talking about processes… how the students used switches, what constituted success at each stage and how we might assess and record progress across the school. In the afternoon we put our work into practice by doing baseline assessments on some of their pupils. (more…)

Continue ReadingComplex Needs and Switches: It could be you!

Press the Switch: Consistent Prompting


You’re probably wondering what these Chinese symbols mean. They are the words ‘press the switch’ written in traditional Chinese. Why am I telling you this?

When I worked at Priory Woods School, I used to take pride in just how inclusive my ICT lessons were.  We worked hard to ensure that our use of technology was matched to the needs of the student and that the teaching materials we used were appropriate and meaningful to the student’s age and cognitive abilities. We went further still. I learned how to say the words ‘press the switch’ in a variety of different languages to ensure that my prompting was meaningful to students at a cause and effect level whose first language wasn’t English. I even made a poster for the wall with phonetic spellings so my colleagues could use them too. OFFSOD loved it!


Continue ReadingPress the Switch: Consistent Prompting

One, two, three… No: Switch Building Skills


Many commercial switch training software programs feature a ‘switch building’ level where the learner is required to press the switch a number of times in order to ‘build’ either a pattern, picture or scene. With each press of the switch, another part of the image is ‘built’ until at the last press in the sequence the complete image is revealed and usually animated as a reward. Sequences often require three, five or more switch presses before the animation sequence is played. Learners moving from cause and effect activities often start switch building at three presses and move on to more as they make progress.


Continue ReadingOne, two, three… No: Switch Building Skills