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When Your Sensorimotor Dream Comes True

A teacher provides elbow support as a learner uses a measuring cup to pour his snack into a pan

If you’re reading this, you probably know that APH created the Sensory Learning Kit (SLK) to meet the needs of those learners with visual impairment and severe multiple disabilities. If you don’t know anything about product development, I’ll tell you it requires focus groups, expert reviews, field testing, and sometimes dancing two steps forward and one step back repeatedly for several years.

It’s rare that APH has the luxury to field test a product for an entire academic school year. When APH field-tested the SLK, it was for three months. Author Millie Smith and I wish we had longer, but the vision field was desperate for a new product to replace the outdated Sensory Stimulation Kit. Educators welcomed the SLK with great enthusiasm in 2005 and it continues to be a top seller for APH today. However, deep down, something was missing. Millie and I often discussed how great it would be if a university researcher would conduct a study using the SLK to help validate the methodologies presented in the SLK Guidebook and Assessment Forms.

After creating videos showing learners playing SAM games, a component of the SLK’s sister product, SAM Symbols and Meaning, Millie and I decided to start filming SLK routines. We first filmed at Frisco ISD in Texas and then in Alamogordo, New Mexico. A couple of years later, Coppell ISD (TX) approached Millie to consult with TVI Stacey Chambers and her team of special educators and classroom teachers. With APH’s blessing and letter of support, the Coppell ISD Board of Directors agreed to support a study to establish a baseline (December) of four learners and following them and their teams through the remainder of the school year (May). The video-documented study saw the learners, who functioned at the sensorimotor stage of cognitive development, successfully achieve their goals through SLK routine-based instruction. The Journal of Visual Impairments and Blindness and the online journal of Closing the Gap, Solutions have published results of three of the four case studies. APH produced videos of the four case studies. Watch Freddy, Aarna, Adam, and Isaiah on the APH YouTube channel.

What does this mean for APH? It means the Sensory Learning Kit achieved validation beyond typical product development field-testing. APH is thankful to Coppell ISD, Millie Smith, and the Sensorimotor Spotlight Team for making this dream come true.


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