Gifted School Activities With DropTalk, Parent-Teacher Notebook, and SmileNote for Students With Disabilities

Gifted School Activities With DropTalk, Parent-Teacher Notebook, and SmileNote for Students With Disabilities

Takamitsu Aoki (National Institute of Special Needs Education, Japan), Noriko Nakagawa (Kyoto University of Education Attached Special Support School, Japan), Ryoichi Ishitobi (School for the Mentally Challenged at Otsuka, University of Tsukuba, Japan), Susumu Nakamura (School for the Mentally Challenged at Otsuka, University of Tsukuba, Japan), Shoko Inoue (Ito Elementary School, Matue, Japan), Makoto Kinoshita (HMDT Co., Ltd., Japan), Masayuki Yamashita (UNI-TY Inc., Japan) and Shigeru Ikuta (Otsuma Women's University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1400-9.ch011


Three programs, DropTalk, Parent-Teacher Notebook, and SmileNote, were developed by teachers at schools for special needs education to help students with various disabilities, in collaboration with businesses supportive of students with disabilities. DropTalk was developed to help students with nonverbal communication by using Pictogram and text overlaid with voice/sound. A digital-based Parent-Teacher Notebook was developed to share the valuable data on each student between their home and school. The shared data are effectively used to build up individual support plans. SmileNote was developed to help students with nonverbal communication disabilities present their wills, hopes, and desires to the classmates and others. In this chapter, the aims and valuable functions in three software applications are described in detail, and self-made contents created with the software and gifted school activities conducted at several schools for special needs education are depicted.
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Teachers – especially at schools for special needs education – face the fact that the software and tools do not fit the needs of all of their students. Then, the teachers always have to update their knowledge to solve new faced problems. Even if teachers could discover new, effective software and tools that might solve these problems, they may not buy them because they may be expensive. Although many school teachers might abandon the attempt to solve these problems, some may try to develop new software and tools themselves.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Individual Support Plan: Software, teaching materials, and tools that had been effective for one student are sometimes not suitable for use with other students. An individual support plan, therefore, should be prepared for each individual to participate in school lessons and activities.

Parent-Teacher Notebook: The Parent-Teacher Notebook created to develop collaborative supporting works among school, teacher, and parents. This digital tool helps students with disabilities become independent of their parents and smoothly integrate into society. The tool promotes collaborative activities to support the student and produce their transfiguration.

Assistive Technology: Assistive technology (AT) increases, maintains, or improves the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of life, including at school, at work, at home and in the community. Assistive technology ranges from low-tech to high-tech devices or equipment.

Software: If teachers cannot find a suitable software application that can help students with disabilities upgrade their learning in class and life in society, then the teachers may be encouraged to develop an original self-made software in collaboration with local businesses.

Nonverbal Communication: Some students with disabilities have nonverbal communication disabilities. They may not speak any words or phrases, and some students can say only utterances. Some of the assistive technology tools and software may help them tell their hopes, wills, and desires to others.

Special Needs Education: In Japan, there are still more than 1,100 (separated) schools for special needs education. More than 140,000 students enroll in these schools. Most of the public schools have classes for special needs education. More than 180,000 students with disabilities (including learning disabilities) enroll at elementary schools and more than 70,000 students enroll in junior high schools.

DropTalk: The newest version of DropTalk 5 is one of the VOCA applications. More than 700 symbols are built in in advance. A familiar illustration and Japanese voice are added to each symbol. These are based on the picture symbol library “Drops” developed by Droplet Project.

School Activity: School activities at special needs schools may be improved through the use of original and individual self-made teaching materials and aids tailored to each student with disabilities.

Pictogram: Pictogram is an ideogram that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object. In the Shigeru Ikuta’s research project, each pictogram is, for example, overlaid with multimedia-enabled dot codes that can link a maximum of four audio and multimedia mediums, such as movies.

SmileNote: SmileNote specializes in usability, especially for students with an intellectual disability and ASD. It helps students present their feelings, wills, and desires to others. The user interface is very simple to understand, and suitable templates are prepared.

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