As an Assistive Technology Specialist and Teacher of the Visually Impaired, I am regularly perusing apps geared towards students that are 3-7 years old developmentally. In order to ensure that I am using apps that are helping my young students with low vision increase the use of their functional vision skills, I have started rating each app using my own rating scale based on the functional vision skills all individuals with low vision need according to Low Vision Online.
According to Low Vision Online, these skills include:
- Awareness of attention
- Control of Eye Movements (tracking)
- Control of Eye Movements (scanning)
- Discrimination of Objects
- Discrimination of details to identify actions and match objects.
- Discrimination of details in picture
- Identification and perception of patterns, numbers and words
Based on the above criteria, I have been evaluating the app “ A Busy Day for Elmo".
The app is appropriate for kids as developmentally young as 3 and kids as old as 8. The main page presents animated images of Elmo's living room with a variety of objects displayed. Elmo gives the user directions on which objects to identify and select (Example: "Tap the Books" and "Tap the Musical Instruments). Once the user has visually locate and selected an object, Elmo appears with a fun and inspiring video message about how he used the selected objects during his day.
Here is how I have rated A Busy Day for Elmo based on Lowvision.com’s visual skills:
Rating Scale: 5= Thoroughly integrates visual skills 4: Somewhat integrates visual skills 3: A few visual skills are present
2: Very few vision skills are present 1: no vision skills are present
Awareness of attention
3: While the main page is visually busy and low in contrast, the developers of the app have done a good job making the objects that Elmo ask the users to find to be easier to find with either movement reinforcers or auditory reinforcers.
Control of Eye Movements (tracking)
2: There is no single moving object for a student with low vision to follow.
Control of Eye Movements (scanning)
4: For a child with low vision who can identify drawn objects, the creators of this app have placed the objects that the child must find throughout the entire picture. This makes it a great app for students to use to practice tracking to locate a specific object, especially learning to use their finger to track and locate.
Discrimination of Objects
4: The objects that elmo asks the user to identify in the main menu range from 1-2" in size, are brightly colored and familiar objects to a child in an early childhood education setting that can visually discriminate illustrated drawings.
This would be a great app for a student to learn to identify objects using a handheld magnifier or Zoom/Magnifier feature within the iPad Accessibility feature.
Discrimination of details to identify actions and match objects
There are no features in this app that directly apply to this skill.
Identification and perception of patterns, numbers and words
Not applicable in app.
Discrimination of details in picture
4: Since there so many familiar objects of varying sizes, this would be a great app for a student to learn to track and scan to find details in pictures using assistive low vision devices (hand held magnifier) or the Zoom/Magnifier featuring within the iPad Accessibility feature.
My two cents
Overall this is a great app for a developmentally younger child ages 3-8 who can identify drawn images of familiar objects. It would be great app on training to use hand held low vision devices and the Magnifier and Zoom Accessibility features on the iPad.