In my previous position as a TVI, I had the pleasure of working with a delightful young man named Caleb, who has cortical visual impairment and multiple disabilities as a result of prematurity. Due to his cerebral palsy, Caleb has joint contractures and great difficulty with fine motor skills, so although he interacted with an iPad in a limited way, it was difficult for him to use finger gestures on the screen. After much experimentation we did find some apps that allowed Caleb to make choices, begin to use the technology for communication, and participate in iPad-based stories. I also really wanted Caleb to be able to just have fun on the iPad like other children his age, but it was a huge challenge trying to find a game that he could operate independently or semi-independently.
Kudos to Caleb’s mom for finding the free app “More Trucks HD” by Duck Duck Moose LLC! This was a great game for Caleb, not just because he was eventually able to operate the game with just a little physical support, but also because despite his developmental challenges Caleb is all boy, and he has always loved the sounds of cars, trucks, lawn mowers, and power tools. More Trucks HD provides several different games, but Caleb had the most success with the monster truck game.
Picture 1 shows the main screen, which includes a graphic of the truck on a hilly course, four buttons (one for jumping the truck, one for honking the horn, one to move in reverse, and one to move forward). The most important of these buttons is the one to move forward, and it is placed in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. In order to make the truck move forward, the player must continually press the forward button. Caleb does not have enough vision or motor control to independently operate all four buttons, but the placement of the button in a lower corner of the screen was an advantageous one for him. Given appropriate placement of the iPad, support for his wrist, and assistance to place a finger or his thumb on the button, Caleb was then able to independently maintain pressure on the button through all of one round of the game. Periodically--just for fun--the person working with him could assist him to lift his hand and operate the horn or jump the truck, then return to the forward button to continue playing. Another nice feature of this game is that a specific finger gesture is not required--the button is fairly sensitive, and we found that it can be operated with any part of the hand, including the heel. Also, although the reverse and forward buttons are close together, there is no visual clutter around the buttons, and there are no more than two buttons together. Finally, the game has lots of fun sounds to reinforce the player, like the sounds of the motor and horn, a “boing” sound when the truck is jumped, and a sound that rewards the player when the truck encounters sets of coins, which earns extra points for the player.
I have used “More Trucks HD” with a number of different students of varying ages and functioning levels, and it has also been a great game for students who have milder fine motor disabilities but struggle with the control necessary for many iPad-based games. They are able to be successful with the game in a very short time, and it allows them to participate in an age-appropriate activity (playing video games) with very little frustration. These students are often able to play the other games in the app, such as driving a fire truck to put out fires, loading junk cars on a flatbed truck to take to the junkyard, and using a crane to move boxes. The last game provides an opportunity to use a bit of knowledge of physics and eye-hand coordination to place the blocks in the appropriate place.
In summary, “More Trucks HD” is that rare app that is free, accessible, and fun. I am always in search of more apps like that!
The last picture is a screenshot of the “More Trucks HD” app on the Apple App Store. Unfortunately, the app is not available for other operating systems at this time.