Throughout summer 2016, we encouraged families to get to know some of the many technology applications (apps) available to support the academic, behavioral and social needs of children and youth with disabilities and their formed families.
The full line up of “Apps of the Week” are presented here. Share your favorites, these or others, with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Week of 6/5: Assistive Technology (AT) Consideration Guide app for iPad. Free.
Description: IDEA (1997) added the requirement that each IEP team consider the need for assistive technology as part of the Consideration of Special Factors. IEP Teams must also document their consideration of assistive technology in the IEP. The consideration guide can assist school divisions in developing a process for consideration of AT in the IEP process. This free app was developed in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).
Week of 6/12: Sight Words by Photo Touch app for iPad and iPhone. Free.
Description: This App uses sound, visuals and touch to teach and reinforce sight word recognition by early readers. Customizable features include recording of parent, caregiver or child’s own voice, presentation format, available rewards, and addition of a child or family’s own items.
Description: FOCUS on Foster Families is a mobile app designed to help support foster youth and their caregivers as they navigate common challenges. The app includes an extensive library of video interviews with foster youth and caregivers sharing what has been helpful for them, and experts providing guidance on how best to navigate the legal, school, and child welfare systems. This app also offers interactive games and links to specialized services and resources.
Week of 6/26: Social Stories Creator and Library for Preschool, Autism and Special Needs app for iPad and iPhone. Free.
Description: Social stories can be an important tool in the direct instruction of social skills, particularly for young children and those with disabilities that impact social communication, such as autism and language-based learning disabilities. Social stories provide visual supports for instruction and reinforcement of social skills and this app offers some options for creation and sharing of social stories.
Description: This holiday week, we have chosen a fun app that can keep kids and adults busy while waiting for the fireworks to start. Pop some virtual Bubble Wrap! This app offers several bubble wrap images to choose from as well as some free popping games. The quick popping actions may be helpful to children and youth who struggle with sensory needs and sustained attention.
Week of 7/10: Pillboxie app for iPad and iPhone. $1.99
Description: This app supports medication management with visual reminder and scheduling tools. Visuals are clear and simple; the app is recommended by BridgingApps for its user interface, medication images, and push notifications. Also features “how-to” videos.
Description: This app from ICF International and supported by the Child Welfare Information Gateway provides users access to thousands of agencies, organizations, and experts in the child welfare field across the country. Searchable by location or type of services, such as support groups, child-placing agencies, and state agency contacts. And don’t forget Formed Families Forward’s own northern Virginia Resource Directory is available anytime HERE.
Week of 7/24: Step by Step Sequencing for Kids and Adults app for iPad. Freemium version includes four sequences. Additional sequences available for in-app purchase.
Description: StepByStep is an app designed to evaluate and facilitate sequencing skills with a focus on activities of daily living. Select the category (adult or kid) and the select the sequence. Options include washing hands, grocery shopping, and making a cake. Users arrange the sequences in order from left to right. Once finished, the user touches the continue button to see how many steps were completed correctly. The user then has a choice to try again or to see the results. Data on results include name, date, sequence, accuracy and time to complete.
Description: Cognoa offers a mobile child development screening tool for children age 18 months to 7 years. A profile helps parents and caregivers determine if a child’s development is on track, quickly and easily. The app also includes recommended activities for a child to meet developmental milestones and instructional videos. Options for downloading video recording of a child’s behavior and requesting additional feedback from Cognoa’s staff experts are available to members.
Description: Many parents, caregivers and professionals in No Va have had the opportunity to take a Mental Health First Aid training. Even if you have not been trained, this app provides a great overview of ALGEE, practical steps for offering response to those in need of mental health support. The app provides some basic guidance on what to do for those concerned and wanting to offer help, and offers tools for creating a MHFA Action Plan.
Description: This app is used to determine if a student is eligible to receive and use accessible instructional materials created by AIM-Virginia. Children and youth with visual, physical and “organic dysfunction of sufficient severity to prevent reading printed materials in a normal manner” may be eligible for free AIM. Once eligible, the AIM-VA Navigator app helps guide the work of a collaborative team as it makes decisions about need, selection, acquisition and use of AIM.
Description: As families and educators prepare for back-to-school, we feature an app that is a teacher favorite, ClassDojo. A tool for teachers to offer student feedback and positively manage individuals and groups, the app is growing in popularity in northern Virginia. Teacher reinforcement and feedback, and student sharing through the app often compliment efforts to strengthen school climate, such as Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Responsive Classroom, and other initiatives to recognize appropriate behavior and encourage social skills. The app can also be an effective and convenient home/school communication tool.
Week of 8/28: Parent’s Guide to Special Education Dispute Resolution app for iPad, iPhone and Android. Free.
For this final week of our summer Apps feature, we share TWO apps that may help equip parents and caregivers to be better special education advocates. The Parent’s Guide to Special Education Dispute Resolution from the GMU Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities is specific to Virginia policy and procedures. It includes specifics on mediation, formal State Complaints, and due process complaints under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Relevant sections of Virginia Department of Education regulations are linked.
The iAdvocate app from Syracuse University offers resources to understand special education rights and responsibilities, brief descriptions of strategies to advocate for more inclusive settings, and a set of responses to possible situations that parents may find themselves in when faced with educational personnel.
Best wishes for a great school year. Your feedback on these apps and other resources you have found helpful is welcome. Email us anytime at email@example.com.