Teens and Texting
Most teenagers I know love texting their friends and always have their phone within arm’s reach. I want the same for my son, Liam (age 14, deafblind). Liam uses a refreshable braille display (Focus 40 or 14) paired with an iPad or iPhone as his way of to text his friends and family. One of my goals for him is for Liam to see the value in texting. I want him to “buy in” to the fact that texting gives you the power to communicate, helps you discover information, helps you get answers to questions, gives you the ability to stay in contact with family far away, and it is just fun! Texting is an important telecommunication skill that is especially important to someone who is deafblind as he cannot Facetime or call on the phone independently.
Technology Skills Needed
I always recommend teaching refreshable braille and technology skills early on and in “small chunks”. Technology lessons should be brief and taught just a few skills at a time in a logical order. Some examples of starting skills: knowing the names of the parts of braille display and what they do, practicing typing using a refreshable braille display, moving the cursor using the refreshable braille display, reading display prompts and app names, etc.
Liam began using technology during his elementary years and has a good solid foundation to start on before we really began hitting the ‘texting’ hard. See some past posts below about Liam learning how to use refreshable braille technology those earlier years!
Snowman Texting Scavenger Hunt
Sometimes getting students to be engaged in a technology lesson, especially when what they are learning is difficult, can be a challenge. It is important to teach them a lesson using something that is motivating to them. What is motivating can change from student to student. Liam happens to enjoy finding things. He likes scavenger hunts. He also likes crafts. I created a lesson that would be motivating to him that included his friends, a scavenger hunt, a snowman craft and of course texting!
Ahead of time, I gave everyone from our team (staff and students included) a piece of a felt snowman. I got the snowman from dollar tree and added Velcro to the pieces. You could easily make a snowman out of construction paper. Each person hid a piece of the snowman in our work room. Also beforehand, I had a list instructions for each person so they knew what to do when Liam texted them.
Instructions to Staff and Friends
Hide your snowman piece in the work room where Liam could find it with simple directions. He will text you and ask where you hid the piece. After you tell him and he finds it, he will then ask you who has the next item on the list. This is a fun way for Liam to practice his texting skills. Thanks for your help!!
- Nose – Angie
- Hat – Serenity
- Two eyes – Jenna
- Smile – Sophia
- Buttons – Kati
- Snowflake – Mom
- Two arms – Joan
Instructions to Liam in Braille
Snowman texting activity
The snowman is missing all his pieces! Text your friends and teachers to find the missing pieces and to complete the snowman.
Find the following pieces:
- Two eyes
- Three buttons
- Two arms
- Start with Angie. Text Angie and ask her where to find the snowman’s nose!
- Once you find the nose, Velcro it on the snowman’s body.
- Then text Angie and ask her who has the next item on the list.
- Text that person and ask them where to find the item. Ask that person who has the next item and then text that person.
- Continue until all the pieces are found!
Liam absolutely loved this activity! I have never seen him text so quickly and efficiently! Fun was had by all. He had multiple times to practice his skills, texting fluency, and problem solve when texting/technology problems arrived. He discovered that texting was a great way to get answers to something he cared about; finding pieces to his snowman!