REFERENCE: Fell, Harriet, J. and Ferrier, Linda, J. (1994). The Baby-Babble-Blanket, Technology for Early Intervention.
The BBB (patent #5260869) is a multiple micro-switch-activated pad serving as input to a Macintosh computer and our software. The software allows digitized output of speech, babbles, words, sentences, music or environmental sounds, to be accessed by the switches. The BBB includes a data collection system that uses a single-case study design to evaluate the responses of infants who are otherwise difficult to test.
FIG. 1. BBB components with a user
Specification of the BBB
The "Baby Babble Blanket," a Macintosh based system (See Fig. 1.) includes the following components:
Single-Case Study Software
Single-case study experimental designs are particularly suited to intervention with severely impaired and multiply handicapped children since they provide the freedom to conduct studies on small groups of heterogeneous subjects. The children we are studying are heterogeneous, since they are diagnosed at different ages, and have different levels of motor and cognitive ability.
A requirement of single-case study experimental design is that the recorded data must consist of observable behavioral events. This frequently presents difficulty with children with motor and cognitive deficits whose responses often appear random or difficult to read. With the use of the BBB, the observable events are switch activations, that can be counted and tabulated by the program. While it may be assumed that some switch activations by infants with motor problems are the result of involuntary muscular activity, we expect that, with repeated exposure to the device, most infants will have sufficient motor control to respond to the sound output with a change in the frequency of switch activations. Through these changes in switch activations across time and in response to different sounds, we can evaluate how responsive the infant is to sound. We can track how quickly s/he learns to activate switches to hear the sounds, and whether s/he prefers one sound to another.
The fact that the software will record the switch activations has many experimental advantages: It eliminates the error of a human recorder; and it can record many data rapidly across many sessions. By examining the patterning of switch activations across time, in multiple sessions and with different reinforcers, we have a clear record of each child's ability to learn. Unlike large group designs that rely on statistical analysis of data, single subject experimental case study designs utilize visualization of data, usually displayed in a line or bar graph format. One advantage is that statistically unsophisticated parents, teachers, or clinicians can determine by the slopes of the data in different phases, baseline versus treatment, whether the child is responding to the system.
Sample recorded data
Design and Data Collection Formats
The program at this point allows data collected in a variety of formats. These include:
The information above is an exerpt from a paper that will be presented at ASSETS'94,
November 1, 1994. We are in the third year of field-testing the Baby-Babble-Blanket. We
are looking for an infant, five months old or younger, with motor problems, reduced
vocalizations but normal cognitive ability to study in the home, in the Boston area.
*Partial support for this work was provided by Department of Education grants: NIDRR # H133c20076 and OSEP, OSERS # H180E20032.
CONTACT(S): Harriet J. Fell, Ph.D., College of Computer Science, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115
Linda J. Ferrier, Ph.D., Dept. of Speech Language Path. & Aud., Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115
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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts. NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013. Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information. If you do so, please cite NCIP. Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government. This site was last updated in September 1998.
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