The culmination of the school year includes a whole range of activities and events for our clients and their peers. Often these are a celebration of the end of the year or an event to mark the achievements of those involved. It feels like a perfect opportunity for users of AT to share their progress and ensure they are very much involved in the festivities. 

First up is a fairly simple set up to allow a young man to take control of photography duties on his end of year school trip. He is a powered wheelchair user and has worked incredibly hard on his joystick driving. Whilst he was able to join in with a number of the practical activities, for those that were not possible, he made use of an iPad mounted to his chair and an iSwitch to capture the action! With the camera open on any iOS device, the volume buttons on the side can be used to take the picture (imagine holding your phone sideways and pressing the button on the top like a camera). One of the inbuilt settings on the Pretorian iSwitch allows a switch press to replicate the pressing of the volume button. Hey presto!

Next up are two solutions for a client to join in with their end of year sports day. You may have seen our switch adapted dog-ball thrower a couple of years ago – this allowed a client to launch a tennis ball for his dog to chase using an adaptive switch. We sought to find a solution that replicated this action but keeping the ball within reasonable catching distance!

Introducing the Feed Buddy cricket bowling machine. This is designed to automatically throw small balls a couple of metres forwards in a looping motion – perfect for playing catch or, as we found, throwing a Velcro ball onto a target at sports day! When used without adaptation, the device will continuously throw balls by lowering then quickly releasing a spring loaded paddle until it runs out of balls. Our very clever technicians have added switch adaptation to this, meaning that the user can press and hold their switch to cause this action rather than it being automatic.

This has become a very popular solution for a number of our clients, although some find it difficult to maintain the press and hold action. To overcome this, we paired their switch with the Pretorian Control Pro which, amongst other things, allows a single switch press to be latched and timed for a given number of seconds. In the case of the Feed Buddy, the 8 second option is almost perfect for a single ball throw although the cumulative additional time for each press does eventually mean you get two balls for one press every so often! We are working hard to include an in-built timed press to the internal switch adaptation for those who require it – watch this space.

When not participating in the activities, one of the joys of sports day as I remember it was shouting and cheering for your friends in their races or events. This particular client is an AAC user, utilising Grid on both their iPad and Gridpad.

We equipped them with some great royalty free crowd sounds, ensuring they could join in with everyone else when making as much noise as possible was the order of the day. After finding and downloading the sound files, they were added with a simple ‘Play sound’ command on Grid.

In doing so, we also discovered that Grid has it’s own collection of sound effects that can be used for the same purpose. Some great pantomime potential later in the year!