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Ebenezer School Apps for CVI - By Laura Garcia and Dr Bronwen Scott

There are so many apps out there today to help you do EVERYTHING…I have just discovered one that can help you tune your guitar which has been handy as Eva has started Guitar lessons.

A child plays with an ipad - apps can be used in all phases of CVI

With the frequency of app releases, it is easy to get overwhelmed with what will and will not be engaging. I do believe, however, I hit the jackpot early on with one organization who develop apps for those who are vision impaired.

Ebenezer School and Home for the Visually Impaired has developed some simple but impressively effective apps for those who have been diagnosed with CVI. I stumbled across the apps whilst searching through the iTunes app store very early into our diagnosis, I would say about 4 months post-diagnosis. Take a look at the apps we have been using for many years, and Eva still does not tire of them.

One thing I must mention…. they are all free! Yippee! But please note, so far these are only available on Apple devices. We have contacted the developers to ask when this will be available for Android, so stay tuned!

Eye Movement Training

Eye Movement Training is a visual tracking app which we found to be perfect for Eva to increase her stamina in visual attention and continuously follow an object. The user can choose different objects to track, speeds, direction of movement and size. Eva found it fun to choose to follow the green turtle, blue car, and yellow ball. When we started using this app, Eva could only track the object for about 10 seconds before losing it visually, but she can now track it quite easily without suffering visual fatigue or losing sight of the object. Ideal for those in Phase I.

Find The Same

Find The Same app is a favourite with Eva and her 5-year-old brother who has no vision deficiencies. The purpose of the game is to match the objects with the card dealt – this app aims to increase the ability distinguish objects and hand-eye coordination. We started with the coloured shapes and have progressed onto the coloured fruit with some success; the tough ones for us are the black and white images. Perfect for those in high Phase II and Phase III.

Dot to Dot

Dot to Dot is the most challenging app of them all for us to work with. We are struggling to find letter writing apps that are fun, but it may very well be that Eva is just not at the stage of holding much interest in ‘learning’ to write – I put the word ‘learning’ in quotation marks as Eva loves to write with a marker, she tries her very hardest but most of the time it is not legible. She wants to know how to write but I do not believe she has the visual attentiveness to do it effectively. The Dot to Dot app uses large numbered dots to guide the user how to write letters and numbers, with the red dot showing where to start and how to continue. A great free tool for those in Phase III.

The Ebenezer apps are a great free tool to use for working on some aspects of the CVI Assessment range, especially the Eye Movement Training which we have found to be greatly beneficial. As I mentioned above, there are so many apps out there to try, I do believe the three above are a great place to start in each phase of the CVI range, before proceeding to any paid apps.

As always, would love to hear your thoughts on these apps, and any others you have come across which you think our community would benefit from.

A word from Dr Bronwen Scott

Apps are great! As Laura says, there are so many apps out there that sometimes it’s hard to find what you are looking for. I had not seen these apps before, so will be adding them to my CVI App toolbox!

Eye Movement Training: This app uses simple visual targets which are brightly coloured and with the properties of movement - really important to attract visual attention. You can adjust the size and speed, as well as the background. This is great for working on building consistent visual behaviours in Phase 1, and you can adjust the speed and size of the target as functional vision improves. Unlike other apps you may be familiar with like Tap-n-See Now, this app doesn’t have any interactive features so if your child is used to something happening when they touch the screen, they may be disappointed! However, it’s good to have a few different apps to mix things up a bit!

Find the Same: As children move into late Phase 2 and Phase 3, it becomes important for them to start recognising 2D pictures of 3D objects. Matching games are great for this! I love how this app has some very simple images, as well as more complex pictures. This is a fun way to start assessing for complexity (generally children with CVI will find it difficult to interpret complex and abstract images), and teaching children about salient features.

Dot to dot: I haven’t used this app but again this looks like a great way to start working on the salient features of letters and numbers. As Laura notes, this is definitely an app to try in Phase 3.

We would love to hear from you about any other apps that have helped you. 

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