Dear Sonokids team,
Greetings from HEAD Nepal team including the children!
We would like to thank you so much for providing us the Ballyland software which is very useful for the children with visual impairment in having fun and learning English and also improving in computer keyboarding skills!
HEAD Nepal team and Chhitup Lama
Himalayan Education And Development (HEAD Nepal)
My student who is now in grade 1 this year loves this program and has been developing some great keyboard skills. She is also teaching some of her sighted peers how to use the program and to learn the keyboard.
Deborah Davidson, Visiting Teacher (Vision), VIC, Australia
10-15 minutes “Ballyland” – My first grade student enjoys this time so much and I am thrilled, as I know she is learning the keyboard in a quick and fun way.
Specialist Teacher VI Kristie Smith in her blogpost “Teaching a Dual Learner through Ballyland and Other Fun Activities” on Paths to Literacy
Thank you so much for your prompt and patient assistance.
So wonderful to have an Australian program that is so beneficial!
K. Tieman, Advisory Visiting Teacher-VI
I have been working with a little girl of 8 yrs of age, who has a global developmental delay, a reduced attention span, along with communication and some behavioural issues, for the past 3 years. She is a very determined little girl, who knows what she likes and what she wants! I was first introduced last year to the software programme, Ballyland, by my Principal to trial it and see whether it would suits the needs of this pupil. On my first time of using the trial version, before it was installed fully, I thought that both the visual and sound effects were great and would certainly engage this pupil. I even found myself singing the ‘Ballyland’ tune at times and not realising I was! I thought that a great option on the software was that you could choose ‘Any key goes’ therefore making the program independent for children to work on their own. The little girl that I work with would happily sit for a period of time working away on the program. Lengthening her engagement with any activity is certainly important. There are many sounds and pictures which she would enjoy and she would hit the correct button each time to make a favourite repeat. This is something that I personally wouldn’t have been able to do - remembering what key results in a particular sound. From the very first time that I introduced the program to her it was something which she loved to use as part of her daily routine. Her verbal communication is limited but she would communicate with me that she wanted the program by singing the tune. I would definitely recommend Ballyland to others and not just for the use of children in Special Education.
Special Needs Assistant
St Josephs School for Children with Visual Impairment.
All students, even teenagers, enthusiastically responded to Ballyland.
The sound effects and the spoken language associated with various keys were met with laughter and cries of joy!
It was a delight to see one young boy (7), who is totally blind, seep in everything he tried, remembering the keys and never having enough. He was learning the English words and phrases at the same time.
Sonokids’ software is designed for introducing basic computer skills to young totally blind learners, but also has a possible application as a language learning tool.
Prof. Boguslaw Marek Ph.D. OBE, The John Paul Catholic University of Lublin, Poland, (creator of "Hungry Fingers" tactile learning resources), about his introduction of Ballyland in schools for the blind in Nepal and India
I am using Ballyland with a little boy who is blind in our VisionEd preschool. He LOVES the stories and songs (lots of dancing involved) on the numbers and it is really helping him to get both hands on the computer to explore, rather than just one. Interestingly he uses a Large Print keyboard in the preschool but a regular QWERTY at home. He is able to move between the two, finding the keys he is interested in.
Access Technology Consultant
Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children
I've had a play around with Ballyland and absolutely love it. The sounds are all so authentic.
I had on headphones when playing and during the Tinkleball Opens Doors game almost felt like there were flies in my ears!
I played around with all of the shift key combinations and found no problems with anything. It was all very seamless
Karen Gilligan, e-Learning Facilitator , Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ (BLENNZ)
“Ballyland is very easy to use and designed for very young kids or kids who are just learning how to use a computer… Everything that happens on the screen is either narrated or there are sound cues, so the game can be played entirely without vision too. There are eight games packed into Ballyland and they increase in complexity as you move down the menu."
WonderBaby.org (funded by Perkins School for the Blind) is a website dedicated to helping parents of young children with visual impairments as well as children with multiple disabilities.
"To get a better idea of how Ballyland works, check out this video:”
Ballyland is a useful game. I use it with children with hearing impairment. A 5 year old girl could certainly understand the instructions and she spoke back to the computer in English. I used the Arrow Key game to do the following: first I explained that depending on where we are, we speak loud or soft. Then I used examples: How do we speak in the playground? And the child moves the key to loud, and also answers LOUD. How do we speak in class? The child moves the key to soft and says soft. We had already worked on volume in other games so it was easy. As a speech therapist I can imagine many other games; I can play the xylophone and ask the child to move the key to loud or soft depending on the volume they hear (imitation). I can also turn it around: let the child move the arrow and then I will imitate the volume of the game with the musical instrument.
Ballyland also works on the level of more basic auditory training, such as recognizing sound vs silence. With hearing impaired children, the difference between sound and silence is always one of the first steps.
I have also used Ballyland with a 4 year old boy with no language at all. He has no hearing problem, but severe auditory processing problems. I drew the pictures of ‘Any key goes’ on some sheets of paper. Then I let him hear the sounds, and asked him to point to the correct picture.
Finally, the game is so simple and clear that it will also work as a first introduction of any young child to the new technologies.
V. Llobet, speech therapist, Spain (working with English speaking children)
One of my students is a four year old girl who is blind. I introduced her to Ballyland and she loved playing with it. Then I started to introduce her to the keys that are used with Jaws (screen reader) and she was quickly able to find them on the keyboard, remembering the sounds these keys make in Ballyland. The program certainly proved to support the transition to the use of assistive technology.
Had blind and VI students play for fun, they are about to use the keyboard. Children liked finding a particular sound over and over! One mother asked about 'mapping', "what is next to the cow?" etc Spacebar activity was great, children can find the Spacebar easily. Once the children knew the sounds, they loved visiting and revisiting, could stay on task for over 20 mins
I have a 4-year old boy who is completely blind. He's always loved toys that have different buttons that make noises/music when you press them, so this game is perfect for him.
The Any Key Goes option is great, as it means that the child can be left to work independently. The inclusive design helps young children with general learning disabilities also interact more effectively with the computer. The child that I use the programme with loved certain visuals and would repeatedly look for it to be played.
I am a teacher of the visually impaired. I work with young children birth to age 3 who are blind or visually impaired. I played the Ballicopter game several times with some of my students who had low vision. They enjoyed the game. I took it to a playgroup I did and had it as one of the centers for the day. All the children spent time on the computer playing the sound and Ballicopter game. One child with a short attention span spent longer time at that activity than nearly any other I had seen him do with good focus. I also tried the sound game with one of my students who is completely blind. She enjoyed the sounds and could identify many. The 'touch your nose' was a good practice for her.
The visual effects with the Ballyland characters are very colourful and the sound effects that they make are very good.. Would use this programme at least once a day, and the child that I work with loves music and has recently started to sing the Ballyland song as soon as I show it to her on her visual schedule...
Played several times with an older teenage student with mild visual impairment, but who also has moderate intellectual impairment. He really enjoyed the games and is looking forward to more.
My daughter is only 2. She has CVI. Although she wasn't able to use the keys on the computer like the game said she should, she still explored the keys and when I did the actions for her on the computer she was engaged in the sounds and the colors.
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