Big Bang Patterns: App Review

The Big Bang Patterns app by HelpKidzLearn is a simple cause and effect app designed to encourage students to visually attend and follow slow moving designs around the iPad. Each design is paired with music. Big Bang Patterns has been thoughtfully created for students with complex needs - including students with CVI. The app focuses on the most basic visual skills - looking at a target graphic and then following that target as it slowly moves. Students are able to easily process the visual information as the graphics use high contrast colors and bold lines, and the movement is slow. One graphic appears on the screen at a time, accompanied by a tone to draw the student's attention. Tap the screen and the image begins to slowly move. The movement and music assists the student to maintain his focus.

This app can also be used to help provide information about the child's functional vision - where he is looking, the position of his head/eyes, and where he is/is not able to track the movements. Sit in front of the student to see where and what the student is visually attending to. Does he turn his head or eyes? Does he track the movement consistently? Does he track the movement in all quadrants of the iPad? Does he notice a new line/image moving across the iPad? Does his eyes jump from one line/area to another? If he has nystagmus (rapidly moving eye motion), is there a null point or position/area in which the nystagmus decreases? Does the student prefer a specific color combination? Try to discover patterns to determine the student's visual strengths and weakness including the best positioning, potential field loss or gaps in his vision, etc.

Try placing the iPad in different positions - use a stand to hold the iPad up; move the iPad to the left or right side of the student. Note: Most CVI students are initially not able to see items in the lower peripheral. If you place the iPad flat on a table, it places the iPad in that lower field of vision! For students with physical disabilities, careful placement of the iPad will enable the student to focus on visual skills and not on balance/muscle skills.

Types of Design Patterns

There are four categories of image patterns. Each category contains 12 designs.

  • Hard Hitting - Patterns may rotate, move up/down, diagonally, spiral, or pulsate.
  • Curtains - Movement is up, down, left or right; encourages student to track vertically and/or horizontally.
  • Flying Shapes - A variety of shapes move in different directions at the same time (often diagonal movements).
  • Changing Shapes - Images morph from one shape to another (Example: A butterfly transitions into a heart and back to a butterfly.)

Screenshot of Big Bang Patterns: Black background with Green bars moving horizontally to the top of the screen

Settings

Customize the app to meet your student's current needs. Change the settings as your student's visual skills progress or to focus on a different goal.

  • Color - There are 9 pattern color options for the patterns and 8 color background options.
  • Action - Choose how long each animation lasts and choose a visual prompt (no prompt or picture prompt).
  • Switch Access - Enable the switch access and choose between 1 or 2 switches.
  • Patterns - Choose which of the pattern options to include in the game.

Screenshot of Big Bang Patterns with multiple red circles moving at random diagonals across the screen.

Accessibility

  • Low Vision: This app has been carefully crafted to develop visual skills for students with visual impairments and/or complex visual needs. The images and customization options are ideal for students with CVI and/or special needs. The app provides various high contrast color combinations, is uncluttered,   has slow movements and includes motivating music to assist the student's visual focus.
  • Blind: This app is not intended for students who are blind and is not accessible with VoiceOver.
  • Switch Access: This app is compatible with one or two switch devices.

Conclusion

Big Bang Patterns strongly supports building visual skills for students with CVI and/or complex needs. This app was carefully crafted to ensure a clutter-free background, choice of high contrast colors, simple movements and motivating sound effects. The student is actively engaged with the app as he taps to initiate the animation. Students thoroughly enjoy looking at the moving patterns and the sound effects/music assists the student by anchoring his attention to the app. While the student works on improving his visual skills, the teacher of the visually impaired can glean critical information about the student's functional vision and appropriate placement of items to maximize the student's vision. This is a 'must have app' for students with CVI and/or complex needs!

See Big Bang Pictures post for a similar but slightly more advanced app.

Collage of Big Bang Patterns

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