A Voice for Everyone at P.G. Chambers School
At P.G. Chambers School, staying up to date with current technology is a priority. In order to enhance the students’ educations as much as possible, technology is integrated into every classroom. By using these devices and systems, the students are not only learning in an easier and more effective manner, but are becoming versed in these technologies that they will continue to use after graduation and later in life. While the state-of-the-art technology benefits all of the students, it is particularly beneficial to students with difficulties with verbal communication. Through the use of switches, SMART Boards, and Dynavox communication devices, P.G. Chambers makes it easier for “nonverbal” students to communicate and learn.
The most basic communication devices used at the school are called switches. These consist of buttons that have changeable recorded responses. For example, a teacher can use two switches to record “yes” and “no.” Then, he or she can give these switches to a student who can press the buttons and use them to answer questions. Without these switches, the student would not be able to participate in class. Also, the correct association of the words and repetition of hearing the words eventually can lead to the student learning how to form words. While these switches are not the “cutting edge” of today’s technology, they are an effective tool in helping nonverbal students communicate with their teachers, therapists, and peers.
At P.G. Chambers School, every classroom has a SMART Board. These are interactive white boards that allow you to project a computer screen onto a whiteboard, which can then be used as a touch screen. The touch screen feature allows students to make choices on the SMART board without verbal communication. In this way, students can prove to their teachers that they understand lessons, even if they can’t physically tell them. The SMART boards can also be hooked up to switches, allowing students make selections from their chairs. This interactive technology gets students engaged in the lesson and allows them to understand the curriculum more easily.
Several nonverbal students who are also in wheelchairs at P.G. Chambers School use Dynavox communication devices. These touchscreen devices are mounted to the students’ wheelchairs so they can easily access them. When these students want to communicate, they can navigate through categories on the touch screen to find the words or phrases they want to use. When they touch the word or phrase they are looking, a voice from the Dynavox’s speaker verbalizes that word or phrase. While there is a definite learning curve to these devices, they are incredibly beneficial in the long run. Once the student learns how to use the device, he or she can answer questions in class and communicate their wants or needs in a simple fashion. These devices allow the students who need them to grasp the curriculum much easier than they could otherwise.
While these are all separate technologies, they are used in conjunction with each other to maximize effectiveness. Often at P.G. Chambers School, you will see a student with both switches and a Dynavox communication device. The student will use his or her Dynavox to speak, and use switches to either change screens on the Dynavox or to access the SMART Board. The technology at P.G. Chambers School is one of the things that make the school so great, and its help to students with verbal difficulties is immeasurable.