Ballyland App for the iPad: Teaching Finger Gestures For VoiceOver

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Student learning VoiceOver gestures through the Ballyland iPad app.

In a recent Hi-Tech O&M workshop at Governor Morehead School for the Blind (Raleigh, NC), Diane Brauner and Ed Summers presented the Blindsquare app along with some other ideas for including technology into everyday O&M lessons with our students. They emphasized that accessible technology is changing the future for our kiddos with visual impairment in so many ways. Not being a technology guru myself, my first thoughts were “I don’t know if I can do this.” As Ed comically walked the group through the basics of Voice Over in a hands-on activity, the fear and panic began to subside. Diane mentioned an inexpensive app available for the iPad that help students learn the finger gestures needed to move through their iOS devices with Voice Over. Ballyland sounded like the perfect app for my 5th grade student and me to learn together. Though she currently has an iPhone of her own, her older sister helps her navigate the screens or access text and games.

Photos below: Ballyland app teaching drag finger and double tap (locate desired area and open).

Ballyland app teaching drag then double tap (locate and open) gestures.Ballyland app with character on the screen teaching the drag and double tap gestures.

The Ballyland Magic Show is an inexpensive and entertaining app that teaches the finger gestures of dragging, double tapping, and flicking.  It uses the premise of a characters performing in a magic show to introduce these skills. The tutorial guides the student through Scenes 1, 2, 3 and 4 with auditory prompts given by the colorful voices of narrators and characters with pauses between levels to allow for teacher reiteration. The app also allows for hand-over-hand demonstrations and provides feedback for the student to measure correct execution.  Depending on the student and teacher, Ballyland may need to be broken down into separate lessons. It will allow movement readily between scenes or pages so stopping and resuming is easy. The only glitch in the app occurs during Scenes 3 where the student is to perform a three finger flick to the right and left to move between Magic Book pages. It does not seem to move with three fingers but does promptly move with a two finger flick. In an attempt to resolve this issue, the app was exited and the iPad rebooted. Again acknowledging that I am technologically challenged, I tested my three finger flicking skills using just Voice Over on the iPad. I concluded it was the app not my skills. Diane suggested sending an email the Ballyland creators which I plan to do. Overall, this app is a useful tool to prepare students for independently navigating their iOS devices.

Photo below: Ballyland app teaching right flick gesture to move from box to box.

Ballyland app teaching flick right gesture (to flick between characters on the screen)

Prior to beginning the app, the student and I discussed what Voice Over is and how it allows visually impaired people to access their devices without assistance. As a blind student, she has no idea what she has been missing; but, she is eager and excited to learn something new about her iPhone.  And I am just as excited about adding technology into my O&M lessons too. Didn’t think I would ever say that!!!!!