Easter Seals Child Development Center Incorporates Touch Technology to Enhance Learning

Easter Seals Greater Houston has expanded their technology program, Bridging Apps™, to Easter Seals Rio Grande Valley. Bridging Apps™ is a project of Easter Seals Greater Houston comprised of a community of parents, therapists, doctors and teachers who share information about how they are using touch-based technology to help people with disabilities. In 2010, co-founders Cristen Reat and Sami Rahman launched an app review system focused on skills—not age, diagnosis or development level—to help people with disabilities develop particular skills. Although the founding group was parent-driven, the efforts are naturally collaborative with those who help people with disabilities develop particular skills, such as therapists, doctors, teachers and software developers.

Easter Seals Greater Houston and Bridging Apps™ introduced Insignio, a custom-built tool developed to allow users to target their app search by specific attributes and skills. With over 500,000 apps available, there are options to support the diverse skills of children and adults with disabilities. This program provides a tremendous opportunity to reach more people and help bridge the gap between technology and the end user. Now Easter Seals Greater Houston is partnering with Easter Seals Rio Grande Valley to expand the Bridging Apps™ project in our Valley community.

To launch the project, Easter Seals introduced the use of the iPad to the children in the Child Development Center. Each day the children explore the use of different apps that enhance the skills pertaining to the curriculum. Apps that explore language, vocabulary, body parts, problem solving and creative writing have ignited interest and excitement in learning. Yessenia Rojas, an intern from Texas State University, has been providing some of the training and project development. Ms. Rojas has provided technical training and assistance by introducing the apps and reports that the children were immediately excited about learning a new skill, and after only a few weeks, have expanded their skills. The apps have supported learning for children of all abilities and she has noted one unexpected outcome in social skills. Yessenia reports “While working with the children, I have seen improvement in turn-taking, sharing and teamwork skills.”

Easter Seals will engage the community by hosting meetings and inviting parents and families to come together to learn about and share apps using their own touch devices. Easter Seals will provide guidance and suggestions on apps that address the needs of families. All participants can share their favorite apps and success stories and build a network of support.