QR Codes as Assistive Technology

Are you familiar with these funny looking black and white QR  (Quick Response) codes? You see them everywhere,  supplying links and information regarding information and  instructions on products or events. QR codes provide information that can be scanned multi-directionally by a mobile device with a camera.

What do they have to do with AT or OT? Well, depending how creative you are or the type of devices you have available to you, they can be another tool available on your iDevice for individuals with disabilities. With some searching you will find that QR codes are readily used in education and special education for all kinds of things. Here is a link to a slide show with numerous educational uses for QR codes: https://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dhn2vcv5_765hsdw5xcr&revision=_latest&start=0&theme=blank&authkey=COX05IsF&cwj=true

My initial thoughts were to use QR codes for students who need support accessing worksheet information. But with a bit more thought here are a few other ways QR codes can be useful:

  • Do you work with any individuals with significant motor problems that have difficulty writing down URL’s, phone numbers or other event information? Individuals with a phone equipped with a camera can scan the QR codes which can be saved for later retrieval or will directly link them to the information rather than having to enter an entire URL, phone number or address into their smart phone. Easy access!
  • Create visual phone book or address book with pictures and QR codes for quick access to phone numbers using the QR codes
  • QR codes can be used to supplement or summarize class material, text-book pages  when created using the notes or audio gathered by students or teachers and converted to a QR code. This QR code can be put on a work sheet or posted on a website for  students to review information when absent from class
  • Create flash cards with words, vocabulary, letters, objects, math facts, study information and place a QR code on them providing the correct answers or pronunciations
  • QR codes can provide audio information or directions on work sheets to students who can not access print. With a QR code providing information on directions or content, using a QR reader can supply a student with access to the worksheet information. Some QR generators provide only short information and some tools manage more extensive text or media.
  • Do you have handouts or web resources that you supply to parents? If they have a smart phone provide those URL’s via a QR code allowing them greater ease of access to the information by scanning a QR code than dealing with URL’s

Here are a couple of ideas of QR codes in education (gathered from Steven Anderson’s Live Binder QR Codes in Education :  

This is a very cute explanation from a elementary student explaining how they use QR codes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSA3YsBy_pU&feature=related)

There are many QR code readers for android and for iDevices with cameras as well as web-based services or apps to generate QR codes. One of them is a QR reader that provides text to speech to the QR code, providing information spoken aloud called QR Voice.

QR Voice is an online QR code generator. Limited to creating a message of up to 100 characters it will create a short audio message.  You still use standard QR code readers only the information supplied is not a text but an audio message. Here is the process:

Insert up to 100 character into the text box, select the QR code picture and it creates the code on the information you entered. You can choose the size of the code by moving the slider.

The result is the QR code and URL that can be copied and pasted, or printed out,  posted  or applied to worksheets, books, materials or laminated for use. Easy? Yes!

Kawya – A web-based QR code generator providing free code generation for URL’s, text, SMS or phone numbers. Requires free membership for access to the code generator. Easy to use.

There are many free or low-cost QR Readers available for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch. Here are just a couple:

 Qrafter – Pro version creates QR codes  (2.99) and standard version is a reader (free). Many different types of information can be utilized in a QR code including URL’s for YouTube, map info, addresses, phone, email and much more allowing QR code readers to be used to supply information on many types of information. I found the most success with Qrafter app.

 QR Reader – QR code reader (free or $.99 for Premium which removes ads) compatible with iPhone, iPad2, iPod 4th gen.

Although you might not have an immediate use for  the QR reader at present,  I am guessing you will be seeing it used more and more if you work in the school setting and  may spark some ideas on its application to your OT practice. If you are currently using QR readers or code generation in your OT practice or with students or client please share how you are using them!

Another OT tool for your iTool kit!


About Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, ATP, CATIS

OTR/L with more than 35 years experience in pediatrics, school based therapy and adult rehabilitation. Masters of Science in Adaptive Education/Assistive Technology with 20 years experience in AT in education of elementary, middle school, secondary, post secondary students and work environments for adult clients. A RESNA Assistive Technology Practitioner with ACVREP CATIS credentials, AOTA Specialty Certification in Low Vision, USC Davis Executive Certificate in Home Modifications, servicing adults and students with disabilities in employment, education, and home environments. A 2020 graduate of the University of Alabama Birmingham Low Vision Certification Program.
This entry was posted in App Reviews, Apps for OT's, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Occupational Therapy, QR Code Apps, Special education, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to QR Codes as Assistive Technology

  1. Nice post. I wrote some similar ideas in a previous blog post as well – http://yourtherapysource.blogspot.com/2011/01/adapting-lessons-with-qr-codes.html which was not as extensive as your list. I will have to try QR Voice – that is new to me and looks super cool. I think it would be great UDL idea to include a QR code on worksheets, homework assignments, etc with verbal directions. That way students can choose to access it or not.
    I just created a simple QR code hunt for kids to find the winning ticket. I love thinking of ideas that combine the fun of the smartphone with movement. You can print out the the QR codes here – http://www.growingplay.com/freeqrhunt.html . If teachers wanted to make their own treasure hunts you can go to http://classtools.net/QR/ to easily make the QR codes in a snap. (Keep in mind that is a Flash based site). There are also lots of fun activities on the web site well beyond the scope of this post – check it out. Great for interactive whiteboards. But I digress…

    Anyway, have you tested scanning QR codes on the iTouch? We had some problems recently where the QR codes were not able to be read using the iTouch but could be read with the iPhones (and it was using WiFi). Odd to me.

    • What great ideas! I will look forward to checking out your links to more ideas on the use of QR codes!
      As for QR readers on the iPod Touch. I trialed just a couple of them an found ShopSavvy worked and Qrafter worked. I purchased Qrafter as it can also generate codes. I could not get QRReader to work on my iPod (iOS5). You may want to try another QR code reader. Qrafter basic is a free reader you just can’t generate codes.
      Thank you so much for all your great ideas and suggestions!! I really enjoy perusing Your Therapy Source website and all it has to offer!

  2. Pingback: QR Codes – What are they and how can I use them in my classroom? | The Spectronics Blog

  3. Excellent article- thank you for sharing these great applications! I am an MLS student studying School Library Media and Information in Diverse Populations so this is right up my alley. I will be using (and citing) this materials for a presentation on QR Codes as agents of expanding access for underserved patrons/learners/users for my Universal Usability class. I’m sure you’ve probably seen this, but Gwyneth Jones uses QR code scavenger hunts in her middle school library to scaffold learning for ELL students (http://bit.ly/wDIKby). IMHO the best part about this technology is that it’s inclusive, and creates options for differentiated instruction. Thanks again for the post!

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