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Saturday, December 21, 2013

iEvaluate: Choosing the right app for the job

In the world of assistive technology its easy to get caught up with the tools. Recent innovations have excited professionals and parents alike - and rightly so - but central to the process of identifying a tool to match a need is feature matching.

Feature matching is the systematic process by which a person’s strengths, abilities and needs are matched to available tools and strategies (Shane & Costello, 1994).

Selecting an app as assistive technology is no different than selecting any other AT tool. The skills and needs of the individual must be identified first, and then the features necessary to meet the need are arrived at, and finally a tool with those features can be sought.  So many times the discussion of this or that tool is begun with discussion of the neat things the tool can do, rather than starting with the need. When the tool in mind is a consumer product, such as an app for a tablet, it seems to be even more common to start with the app rather than the student's need.

Jeannette VanHouten thought of all the tough feature matching questions to ask when looking for an app to meet a specific curricular need. She opens her multiple choice iEvaluate table with the question "What goal from the student's IEP/504 does this app need to support?" (perfect!) 
LINK to download the form
On AAC apps: [excerpt from Katie Lyon via the Spectronics' blog] 
"Carole Zangari from PrAACtical AAC This is an external link(which is a fabulous resource in itself!) has written a great Blog Post on the topic of app selection resources This is an external link and has listed those apps which come in a FREE or LITE version, which can be a handy way to try the app with your client to ensure it is the correct choice before going ahead. Carol has also developed a Rubric for Evaluating the Language of Apps for AAC (RELAAAC) This is an external linkwhich is a really useful tool for scoring the capacity of the language and communication functions of the app you are considering in more detail. I also really like her 5 things to do before you choose an AAC app: Take A GULP This is an external link."

Happy feature matching!

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