If Adam is still at a pre-intentional stage at this time – the continual linking of the two ‘choices’ with the drink given will, it is hoped, over a period of time, help Adam to realise that the Orange symbol is associated with the Orange Drink and the Blackcurrant symbol with the blackcurrant.
When we move beyond two or three switches, we begin to use the Intellikeyboard from IntelliTools ( ). This hardware and software system allows learners to choose from a range of options (from 1 to over 100) and can provide voice output feedback as well as other auditory stimulation. The Intellikeyboard can also be operated with one of two switches for learners experiencing greater physical difficulties. A further piece of software from the IntelliTools range, Intellipics (and now Intellipics Studio), provides a means to set up training activities for such things as symbol recognition. Furthermore, this program works in conjunction with Overlay Maker to create the overlay for the Intellikeyboard.
For some multi-switches may not be an option and the individual may need to use single or dual switch scanning. It is not the intention of this paper to explore this area of development other than to suggest that, if you are unsure about which is the best route to follow for an individual then you should follow both until it becomes clear which is the best solution.
The Intellikeyboard overlay eventually can be removed, laminated and given to the learner as a simple communication board. The learner no longer needs the feedback from the computer system provided that staff encourage, pick up on, and respond to, the use of the board.
It is possible with consistent effort to help an individual experiencing Profound and Multiple (Complex) Learning Difficulties to succeed with switches. Success is measured ipsatively, that is, measuring from a baseline (present position) to point along a line drawn as directly as possible to a future (SMART) goal. For some such work can take weeks for others it may take years of effort. We do not wish to lead anyone into believing that such progress happens overnight.
We wish you every success. Liberator can provide In-Service Training into your place of work in this area (See our website )