Yes, it’s a word processor. But is much, much more. With this year’s theme for World Autism Awareness Day focusing on assistive technology, it is worth looking at Clicker 7, from Cricksoft. Previously, we have covered AT solutions for individuals with dyslexia, such as Read & Write, the Livescribe 3 Smartpen, and Dragon NaturallySpeaking. The word processor of Clicker 7 was designed not only for students with dyslexia, but those on the autism spectrum as well. The program works at all levels, from those just learning – and struggling – to read all the way through upper elementary school.
Communication Challenges. For students with autism who have communication challenges, Clicker enables the teacher and students alike to use picture symbols to convey words and ideas. Clicker then places the proper word above each and reads them aloud. As with the early-literacy section, when the writer types a period, Clicker reads the entire sentence aloud
Small-Motor Control. For those students with autism who struggle with writing, Clicker’s word processor enables students to sort thoughts out first, before committing them in writing. And Clicker’s child-friendly Sassoon font replicates natural handwriting, with its long ascenders and descenders.
Visual Learning. Many students on the autism spectrum are visual learners. As such, Clicker provides these students with a writing and reading experience greatly enriched by graphics and colors. The program includes a handy graphic organizer tool, enabling students to assemble and sort their thoughts.
For student users with a variety of disabilities, Clicker is extremely versatile, allowing students to save preferred colors and picture sets; these items can also be enlarged and otherwise modified. Cricksoft claims that “enhanced accessibility features include switch access, touch-screen, and eye-gaze compatibility.” The manufacturer touts its SuperKeys feature. For those with fine-motor skill challenges, SuperKeys breaks the large keyboard down to six clusters; these can be accessed through multiple input methods.
Through tools such as Clicker, students with autism and a host of other disabilities have access to learning and the independence that comes with it.