PowerPoint as Assistive Technology—REALLY!

Next week I have a delightful honor. Our Northwest Augmentative Communication Society, NWACS, is allowing me to present ways to use PowerPoint to meet assistive technology needs (you can catch the details here if you are in the Seattle area). Pretty cool, huh?

I wish anyone here at the blog who wanted to attend the evening seminar could come. But geographically, that just doesn’t seem possible. We’ve got visitors here from every continent in the world, Antarctica aside. Those penguins probably don’t get very good Internet service anyway. And with gas running around $4.00 (US) per gallon, only the most local of our American friends could afford to come.
So, since it is likely that the seminar is too far for you to attend, I thought it might be fun to share the content and materials over the next few weeks. Is that something you would like?
After all, Microsoft’s PowerPoint is an amazing program that can be used to do all kinds of things. Folks (including yours truly) have been using it to adapt books for computer access for years. But it can do much more if you know some advanced tricks. It can be used to make interactive choice-making activities, self-directed review activities, and even to augment communication. There are tricks to make PowerPoint interactive and accessible for kids who use a touch screen or switches or who need activities to function without any input at all.

Sure, there are some great assistive technology programs that can do these things elegantly and quickly. But those programs are expensive. In this day of economic belt-tightening, PowerPoint is a reasonable way to achieve some of the same goals with a program you are likely to already have access to. And versions shouldn’t matter much—PowerPoint is wonderfully compatible between old and new versions. What I show you in PowerPoint 2007 translates to earlier versions. What is created in earlier versions can be opened in newer ones. How many assistive tech programs can claim that?

While I don't have an iPad, lots of you do. And the friendly salesman at the computer store showed me that yes, iPads CAN run PowerPoint, making all of these activities highly portable for your children.
If I walked you through the process of creating these activities, showing you some of the neat advanced tricks in PowerPoint along the way, would you be interested? NWACS will host the materials and files I share at the seminar so you could access them too. I love (love, love!) to give things away and would like you to have the templates and resources too.
Please let me know in the comment box if this topic interests you. I’m happy to share but don’t want to waste folks’ time if this isn’t something you care to learn about.
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You might want to take a look at Adapting Books for Computer Access, which is a PowerPoint lesson.


Donna Genzlinger said...

Yes please!
Donna G

Rose-Marie said...

You got it, Donna! We'll start in with the "meat" of it on April 20th. I am glad you will be joining in!

Illinois Yankee said...

yes, I'm very interested in learning if I might use powerpoint to help differentiate math lessons for my 3rd grade Asperger's son.

Rose-Marie said...

Jennifer, I am so glad you are interested because, yes, PowerPoint might be useful for creating math activities for your son. There is a reply to your comment on the Ap. 19th post (PowerPoint as AT, Anyone?) that might help. We must have crossed wires in cyberspace...sorry about that! It happens to me all the time.

I made a couple of pages of a math template to send to you if you want to email me offline. The contact link is in the sidebar. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sana said...

Rose-Marie, hi! i love this! i was just discussing with our SLP today how we need something lowtech that we can do with Aaizah on our hightech touchscreen Samsung galaxy tab (android, something like ipad i believe), and powerpoint sounds promising...icant wait to begin...thanks so much! sana, aaizah's mom

Rose-Marie said...

Sana, I'm so pleased you have PowerPoint and Galaxy available to you...and really excited that you are joining us here! I think you and the SLP will find that PPT can be perfect for those early activities for Aaizah. If you haven't checked out the first "lesson" from yesterday (4/20), it has a link for an activity planning sheet to help you figure out what features will best capture her attention and interest. There are some simple cause-effect activities we'll be making early on...although Aaizah is already so in tune with touching screens she might already be past that! :0)