Phone skills are an important component of social interaction. Many individuals, even those who are fairly comfortable in social situations, have discomfort or anxiety when using the phone. For individuals with vision impairments who are working to develop social skills, practicing interactions over the phone can be a good way to learn about back-and-forth conversation patterns, phone etiquette, and general courtesies.
In this activity, students use the phone to order a pizza from a local pizza place. This activity encourages social skill development along with many other skills, and leads to a fun, delicious reward!
- Access to menu and contact info for a pizza shop
- Telephone with speaker capability
- Writing/reading tools
- Audio recording device
- Together with the student, choose a local pizza place or other takeout restaurant and consult a menu to choose what kind of pizza to buy. Some students may benefit from being given 2-3 options to choose from (i.e. would you like cheese pizza or pepperoni pizza?) Students with strong assistive technology skills should locate a menu independently.
- Look up and write down the phone number for the pizza place.
- Together with the student, develop a script to use when calling the restaurant. The script can be written in the format that is most accessible for the student, so that she can use it in preparation for and during the phone call. Many students may benefit from reviewing the script or role playing the scenario several times.
- Using the script as a guide if needed, student should call the restaurant to order the pizza. Use a speaker phone so that the instructor can hear and assist if needed.
- If possible, use a voice recorder to record the call. When the call is complete, the student can listen back to the recording to evaluate how she did.
Ask student to consider the following questions:
- Did I use a polite greeting?
- Did I provide all of the information needed?
- Did I speak clearly?
- Did I pay attention to what the person on the other line was asking or telling me?
- How did this interaction feel? Was it easy or difficult? Did I feel comfortable or anxious?
- What did I do well? What should I work on?
There are a number of pieces at play in this activity Instructors can adapt or modify the activity based on a student’s specific needs and abilities. Examples of specific skills to address include:
- Making choices
- Conferring with others, what kind of pizza can the group agree on?
- Dialing a telephone
- Greetings and closings
- Listening skills
- Planning skills—what size pizza do I want? What questions will I have to answer on the phone?
- To work on additional social skills during this activity, include several other individuals so that there is a small group ordering the pizza. In this scenario, the student will need to negotiate with other members of the group to make a decision about what to buy.