For children from what age is the app recommended?

Recommended for children with vision impairment, aged:

Suitability largely depends on the individual child's skills and conceptual understanding. Effective interaction can only be achieved if the child can demonstrate the ability to combine the correct execution of touch gestures, in combination with good listening and memory skills. Although it is difficult to predict at what age a child who is blind can learn to effectively and efficiently use VoiceOver, technology experts and occupational therapists generally agree that – in preparation - the younger the child gets an opportunity to experience interaction with a mobile touch screen device, the better it is.

What do you mean by simulation of VoiceOver?

The app is self-voicing and provides spoken feedback about the interaction by the child with the touch screen. But because VoiceOver is not turned on, the interaction with the device through touch gestures, though resembling the real VoiceOver interaction, leaves room for mistakes without unwanted results, and offers compartmentalised learning (one gesture at a time). Unexpected outcomes are avoided as much as possible, through temporary de-activation of the screen during speech output, and by blocking unwanted gestures from active interaction. Compare it to learning to fly a plane in a flight simulator.

How long does it take to learn the gestures with the app?

This of course largely depends on the level of skills and conceptual understanding of each individual child. The different levels for each scene enable step-by-step learning. Learning sessions should probably be limited to around 20 minutes each. Proper time should be allowed for the child to reinforce acquired skills through practice. Rushing through the Scenes and occasionally getting it right, will not lead to the child building consistently effective touch gesture skills.

Does each touch gesture always need to be performed in a standard way?

If the child is successful with a movement pattern for a particular touch gesture, it may be best to support the child with that pattern of movement and not overly correct it. There is in fact no right or wrong way of performing touch gestures, as long as they lead to the expected outcome. Note that with VoiceOver the following is essential to get the intended outcome of a touch gesture:

Why is double tap so important in VoiceOver?

When VoiceOver is turned on, the interaction with the screen changes. Without VoiceOver turned on, a sighted person will look at the screen, put a finger on a button and this way activates it. With VoiceOver on, touching a button or an item on the Home screen does not result in activation, but in a speaking of the name of the button or item that you touch. With the button in focus, to open or activate it, you then need to use a one finger double tap anywhere on the screen. With VoiceOver, a slight drag of the finger will move the focus to something else on the screen. And when too much time elapses between two taps, the gesture does not register as a double tap. Training and practice is key to getting the speed right, and this can be done with the Magic app.

Why is the screen black in Scene 1?

The Ballylanders are on stage, behind the scenes. The lights have not been turned on yet, and it is dark. Although for children who have no light perception this will be a more difficult concept to grasp, it is still part of everyday life. The dark stage in the first Scene was chosen to clearly show to sighted people involved with the app that you really don't need any visual feedback to use the "magic" gestures together with the spoken feedback. From Scene 2, the Ballylanders are shown as icons on the screen, supporting children with low vision.

Why choose Magic as the theme for the app?

Magic as a theme for children who are blind is not straightforward. Magic is essentially a visual art: it relies on visual illusions. But Sonokids decided to create 'audio magic' for the Magic App. Storylines spoken by real voices (one male and one female), accompanied by songs and sound effects are used to create an illusion of things changing in surprising (magical) ways.
Sonokids has a vision to create a positive image of VoiceOver for those who support the children in their learning. Magic means that you can do something which other people have trouble understanding how you do it. And although using VoiceOver touch gestures is "different", if you know how to do it, you know something most people don't understand. If you do it quickly, smoothly and confidently, with correct speed and timing, it is a bit like using your hands and fingers for a magic trick. Sonokids hopes that this concept will appeal to all children, regardless of a vision impairment.

How do I explain to a child who is blind what magic is?

Magic means that you can do something that other people have trouble understanding how you do it. Magic creates an illusion, usually a visual illusion. The Ballyland Magic App uses audio magic.

Is interaction data saved?

No. The live interaction in the actual level of play is tracked and displayed. The data is not saved once the child leaves the level or exits the app.

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