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VoiceOver Playground app: Teaching Tool, part 2

Learn more about the skills, lessons and resources for the Teaching Tool portion of the VoiceOver Playground app.

The first post, VoiceOver Playground: Games that teach VoiceOver post, introduced the exciting new app designed to teach VoiceOver gestures, concepts and basic braille display commands to students ages 3 – 8. In Part 2 of this series, we will take a deeper look into the Teaching Tool. Before playing a game, the gesture and/or concept is first introduced and explained in the Teaching Tool. Teachers can choose the desired gesture or concept and then systematically go through each lesson, learning details including a quick video tutorial before the child begins the interactive associated lesson. It is strongly suggested that the adult read through the Help section to better understand the gesture and concept and how to teach it. With assistance as needed, the child should use the interactive teaching tool lesson(s) before applying the skill to the corresponding game.

What is the Teaching Tool?

The Teaching Tool has seven progressive chapters, and each chapter has a unique list of “skills” and “lessons”. Each skill has a Help document and a quick video tutorial of the lesson for the teacher/parent and an interactive lesson for the student. 

Teaching Tool skills

Skills are the gestures or concepts that are introduced or used in that chapter. 

Teaching Tool Help documents and videos

Each lesson has an associated Help document with detailed information and additional teaching strategies along with a quick video tutorial demonstrating the skill and how to play the associated lesson. The Help documents and videos are designed for teachers/parents. These resources provide information about the gesture or concept and why the gesture or concept is important for screen readers. The Help document also includes warm up activities, strategies on how to teach the gesture to a young blind or low vision child, common issues students may have and suggestions to resolve any issues. Teachers should review these resources and play the associated interactive lesson before introducing the lesson to the child. If unfamiliar with VoiceOver, adults can also use the interactive lessons to personally learn VoiceOver gestures and concepts.

Within the help section, there are simple warm up activities that will set the child up for success with the individual gestures; it is strongly recommended to repeat the warm up activities before each lesson. Warm up activities are very useful because children learning VoiceOver gestures need to practice the gestures repeatedly to build muscle memory before they can proficiently perform the gesture during game play.

Each Help document includes a description of the associated interactive lesson and a description of the lesson’s screen.

Teaching Tool Video 1: Help

When you select a lesson, the video tutorial will automatically begin playing. When the video ends, the interactive lesson will begin. If the video has already been viewed, select the X in the top right corner to exit the video and to start the interactive lesson.

Teaching Tool Video 2: Video Tutorial

Teaching Tool lessons

Each skill has at least one bite-sized lesson – a small, fun interactive lesson that teach the skill using engaging age-appropriate activities. The Teaching Tool’s interactive lessons are specifically designed for young children to learn how to perform the physical gesture or to learn the digital concept. The lessons for each skill are numbered in progressive order, starting with lesson 1. There may be up to 6 lessons for each skill. Lessons may be repeated under multiple gestures or concepts. Example: The drag lesson will be used for both the Drag and Split Tap gesture and the Drag and Drop gesture.

Some gestures will have overlapping lessons, which will provide repetition. The repetition is intentional, as repetition builds muscle memory and strengthens the child’s ability to easily make the physical gesture or retain the concept.

To play a lesson, select a Chapter, select a Skill and then select a Lesson.

Note 1: The Teaching Tool skills are listed in a progressive order. However, the Teaching Tool is designed to be flexible allowing teachers the ability to choose skills in any order to accommodate a student’s unique abilities and needs.

Note 2: You must listen to all the instructions. Any gesture made during the instruction will be ignored!

Teaching Tool Video 3: Lesson

Pause Menu

This is an important feature that you will want to know! While in an interactive lesson, make a 3-finger double tap gesture to open the Pause Menu. This more complex gesture was specifically chosen so that the student does not accidently make the gesture when interacting with the lessons.

The Pause menu has these options: Resume (Resume game), Options (toggle Accessibility on/off), Main Menu (go back to the Teaching Tool’s Main Menu), and Curtains (activates the screen curtain which makes the screen black). The pause menu is often used as a quick way to exit a lesson.

Teaching Tool Video 4: Pause Menu

Accessibility of the Teaching Tool

Since the goal of the VoiceOver Playground app is to introduce VoiceOver, it is assumed that the student (and potentially the educator or parent) does not know VoiceOver gestures; therefore, VoiceOver is off when using the Teaching Tool. However, the app is designed to mimic VoiceOver. When the app is first opened, there is an announcement to turn “Accessibility” on or off with a two-finger swipe right or left along with an announcement stating that Accessibility is currently on or off.

Note: “Accessibility” is not VoiceOver. It is the feature in this app designed to mimic VoiceOver.

Accessibility can also be toggled on or off through the Options button on VoiceOver Playground’s Home screen.

When Accessibility is off, simply tap on a button to select the desired item.

When Accessibility is on, swipe right or left to navigate through items and double tap to select an item. If the teacher or parent is visually impaired, or if the teacher or student wants to practice VoiceOver gestures to navigate and interact with the app, Accessibility should be on. 

Note: Drag and split tap VoiceOver gestures do not work with Accessibility.

Teaching Tool Video 5: Accessibility

Editor’s Note: The videos were made with the CNIB version of the Teaching Tool. The U.S. version will be slightly different.


VoiceOver Playground: Games, part 3

By Diane Brauner

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