When I come to San Francisco I like to stay across the Bay in Marin county. I particularly like Tiburon, a smart but sleepy town with a view of the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate bridge … and a ferry!
What a superb way to begin an evening! A small boat heading for the high rise of America’s best city. Then the historic, hysterical cable car ride to Market Street via the Powell-Hyde line. And finally the fantastic old world interior of the Palace Hotel!
Even better was unexpectedly coming across my old friend, the CEO of Texthelp, Mark McCusker who was up for the same CODiE. In January we had beaten Mark into second place at the London BETT Awards and I was looking forward to doing it again.
The needs of students with severe and complex special needs and not always understood. People often “just don’t get it”. These students don’t need “education lite” – what everyone else gets but watered down. These students each face a unique set of challenges – they need learning material personal to them and tailored to their needs. They need cool stuff too.
The Codie Award judges clearly do get it. We appreciated their insightful comments and are delighted to receive recognition for the leap forward in special needs resources that is “ChooseIt! Maker 3”.
A business guru once told me that you needed to totally reinvent your business every ten years. Spot the future trends; plan how to meet them; accumulate some cash; stop doing what people want today and start developing what they will need tomorrow.
At Inclusive Technology we did none of those things! We have always developed accessible software – easy to use with the greatest variety of input methods accepted, particularly switch access. Five years ago we put a few games and routines up on the web so people could try them out with their students. We called it HelpKidzLearn. Word spread and soon we had 500,000 unique users!
These users were from every country. We got them to register we found that most were from special schools. When you are producing special resources for low incidence groups you need the widest market to fund development and keep the street price down. Unwittingly we had created a World network of Special Schools hungry for a solution designed for them.
ChooseIt! Maker 3 is that solution. The activities teachers can make with CM3 are accessible by switch, two switches, eye gaze etc. as well as touch screen, keyboard and mouse. The resources can be personal to the student and tailored to their individual needs with a library of 30,000 pictures and symbols plus anything you can find on the web or capture with a camera.
The whole thing is so cool! Children can download the activities their teachers and therapists have made as Apps for their iPad and tablets and play them off line, at home, anywhere.
The CODiE judges spotted all of this and we thank them for it.