Making Your SMART Board More Accessible
Post in News by Skyla Lilly on 6th September 2019
SMART Boards are a wonderful resource to make your classroom more interactive. You can be creative with your visuals and have students come up to the board to increase engagement in your lessons. When you have disabled students in your class, however, you have to take their abilities into consideration when planning out your interactive lessons. Below are some ways to make your SMART Board more accessible, so you can reach every student in your classroom.
Pushing out to devices
SMART’s online platform for delivering lessons is a great option for sending content and activities to students who are unable to come up to the board. Any lesson that you plan using SMART Notebook, PowerPoint, or even a PDF can be imported into SMART Learning Suite Online by logging in and creating a lesson. Once your lesson is created, you can click “start” and begin sharing with students. Once the lesson is shared, your students can interact with games and activities just like they would have on the board, but without having to leave their desk!
Reaching the SMART Board
While pushing out lessons to student devices is a great option, sometimes you just can’t replace the excitement of coming up to the front of the room to answer a question or play a game. If you still want students coming up to the board to be an option, the first thing you have to consider is the physical space around the board. Check that there’s no furniture around your board, and be sure to create pathways that are accessible for all of your students.
Interacting with the SMART Board
Now that you’ve made sure your students can get up to the board, they need to be able to reach the screen to interact. There are a variety of pointers and reachers available on the market, but you can also make your own for your students to use. (If you make enough, all of your students can use these and you can avoid getting smudges all over your board!)
To make a reacher for interacting with objects on the board, all you need is a wooden rod or small PVC pipe and tennis balls in several different sizes. Once you’ve gathered your materials, cut a hole in the tennis ball, slide the rod into the hole, and glue around the edges so that they stay together. Different sized tennis balls will allow for different levels of interactivity depending on the objects in your lesson. If you have students who have trouble grasping the rod, you can also add another tennis ball on the opposite side so that they have a larger object to grab onto. This reacher is only able to move objects on the page, but if you cut another hole on the opposite side of the tennis ball big enough to fit a pen, you can make another assistive reacher. Once the pen is snugly fitted into the tennis ball, your students will be able to write on the board as well as move objects on the screen.
Assistive touch for the visually impaired
Since the SMART Board is such a visually focused medium, it can be difficult to find ways to use it in a classroom with blind or visually impaired students. The benefit of a SMART Board over a classic white board, however, is its ability to use sound. In SMART Notebook, you can link sound to any object in your presentation.
By right-clicking on a picture or object, you can access the sound menu. You can pick a sound file to play from your computer, or you can record one yourself. This is especially useful if you want to give instructions for an activity or if you simply want your students to have a familiar voice giving them information. Once your SMART Notebook file is completed, you’ll want to make it so that your students can interact with what is on the screen.
Leveraging SMART Notebook features for the visually impaired
The SMART IFPs are capable of eight to ten touches, which means that you can stick things on the board without losing the ability to interact. If you’ve prepared ahead of time, you can have braille print-outs that you stick to the board as labels, but in a pinch you can even use post-its with paperclips or erasers to create a placemaker. Just place the label or the placemaker under your object with sound and bring the students up to the board. They can feel for the placemaker or braille on the screen and touch the screen just above to hear the sound that you attached. Be sure to keep the location you put your placemakers consistent every time you do it and after a few practice runs, your students will be able to come up and interact on the board on their own.
The interactivity of SMART Boards is such a great way to get your students engaged in learning. Trying out the methods discussed here can increase engagement in your classroom regardless of your students’ abilities. We hope these ideas for making your SMART Board more accessible can help you better leverage your SMART Board in the classroom.