Supporting Research for avail™


Individuals with an intellectual/& Developmental disability often require support in completing daily living activity. Helping individuals to acquire these skills are critical to their success and to live independently at adults.

avail is an educational tool that utilises the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Video Modelling and other prompting approaches. Providing a research based personalised programme at the fingertips of individuals with disabilities, support staff, parents, and educators, across the globe.

avail has been developed from research and professional experience in teaching independent skills. Below are a number of research papers and links that encompass elements featured within the avail™ system.

Applied Behavioural Analysis

Behaviour analysis focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place. As a whole, ABA has the best documented outcome data supporting their approach as compared with other methods”. (Jacobson, J.W.2000).

avail utilises key strategies within the ABA, specifically, task analysis, chaining, prompt-fading and positive reinforcement.


Prompts are often defined as “artificial” stimuli that are presented immediately before or after the stimuli that will eventually cue the learner to display the targeted behaviour at the appropriate time or circumstance.

Prompts can be “instructions, gestures, demonstrations, touch or other things that we arrange or do” to increase the likelihood that individuals will make the right response (McClannahan &Krantz, 1999).

Video Modelling

Video Modelling derives from the work of Albert Bandura and his concept of social learning theory (Bellini & Akullian, 2007 ;Bellini, S., & Akullian, J. (2007). He stated that children learn many skills by watching other people perform the skills and then imitating the behaviours. As early as the 1960s, Bandura suggested that watching televised models was intrinsically motivating and had a strong ability to hold one’s attention. He found that new behaviours could be learned from televised models whether or not extra incentives were provided.

In the past, bulky camcorders, VCRs, and televisions were needed to produce and playback videos. Now with advances in technology this is available using smart devices.

(Sourced from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19411243.2015.1107005?src=recsys&)

Visual support

Picture based supports are often used to create picture schedules to create understanding of a person’s daily events and improving on-task behaviour (Bryan & Gast, 2000; Spriggs, Gast, & Ayers,2007)

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Pictures, can be used as a means of prompting individual’s children to initiate and completes tasks. Such prompting systems, use pictures to depict a step in a chained response task analysis, shows a finished product or the finished location. Using pictures as a reference has been found to aid individuals to complete difficult tasks such as assembling furniture. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/). Picture schedules have been documented as beneficial within a working environment for people with intellectual disabilities (Carson, Gast & Ayres 2008). The use of visual supports can also aid students with ASD to be incorporated in “an inclusion model”. (http://ir.library.louisville.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1170&context=etd)

Audio/ Verbal prompts

A review of 268 Applied Behaviour Analysis journal articles identified that verbal prompts are the most commonly reported auxiliary cues (G.S.MacDuff, 1999). These verbal prompts, can also be delivered through technology. One study noted how students would listen to pre-recorded instructions on tapes and complete steps that corresponding to steps of a task analysis. Two studies noted the audio prompts effectively cued students to continue working and completing employment related tasks (Briggst et al., 1990; Davis, Brady, Williams, & Burta, 1992). This use of audio prompting on a mobile device was further documented as an aid by Davies, Stock, & Wehmeyer (2002).

Fading prompts:

While the above teaching strategies focus on creating prompts, a key element is the process of fading back prompts. When creating a prompting aid, we must envision how we can fade out the prompt or reach a level whereby the individual is using the least amount of prompts possible.

Prompt fading is defined as the systematic reduction of a prompt until it is eliminated or redefined as an integrated part of the task, promotes generalisation and maintenance of skills. Most-to-least prompting is a common prompt fading procedure used to master new skills. This involved the learner receive whatever prompt they need to successfully perform a new skill when instructions begins (Cooper,1987a). Over success teaching, repetition and assessment the amount of assistance is gradually reduced until no prompts are provided.

In order to reduce prompts, an assessment must be completed to note if learning has occurred. Avail™ has a built-in guide, that enables assessments and then assists in reducing prompts using Prompting Hierarchy guidelines.

Image result for prompting hierarchy aba

Use of technology in teaching:

The innovation of iPads and smart devices has provided new opportunities for learning and communication for individuals with disabilities. Smart devices are more accessible than a traditional PC or laptops, and the individuals enjoy its predictable responses and engaging apps.

It has been identified that individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and ASD can not only achieve significant skill acquisition when taught using mobile technologies, but may also rather instruction delivered through a mobile device (Shane & Albert, 2008).

This was also supported by Gentry, Wallace, Kvarfodt, and Lynch (2010), they suggested that students demonstrated statistically significant improvement and increased satisfaction in performing daily skills when using the iPods. They also found that students with ASD were easily able to learn using these devices.


Comparison to live Modelling (adult directed/1:1 Modelling):

Adult directed live modelling is a commonly used teaching approach to show an individual how to complete a task or behaviour, where the adult would demonstrate the desired behaviour and allow the child to repeat.


Charlop-Christy, Le, and Freeman (2000) found that video modelling resulted in quicker rates of skill acquisition and increased generalization as compared to live modelling. Video modelling also appears to be a more efficient method for teaching skills as it requires less time and training to implement (Graetz, Mastropiera & Scruggs, 2006).

Creating independence:

The avail™ revolutionary software allows support staff, parents, and educators to monitor from a distance by receiving notifications when tasks are viewed. This empowers the individual to confidently self-manage their daily events independently, while the parent can security monitor from a distance. A key element of avail™ i.e. video modelling, has been found to successfully teach independence via community skills such as purchasing among a group of students: Alcantra, P.R. (1994), Haring, T.G., Kennedy, C.H., Adams, M. J., & Pitts-Conway, V. (1987).

Independence has been observed to be achieved through the use of a video-prompting procedure on an iPod to help instruct a young man with developmental disabilities to complete vocational tasks in a competitive work setting (Van Laarhoven et al, 2009). It is important to keep in mind the various areas in an individual’s life that may benefit from such achievements.

Furthermore, a combination of prompts such as pictorial, auditory and video prompts has been identified as achieving success in relation to increasing independent skills such as cooking among students with ASD (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10803-009-0761-0). This is extremely relative to avail™ as it provides the ability to use a single method or combination of prompts to adapt to the individual’s ability or desires whilst learning an independent goal.

While the above research supports the strategies used in avail™, it is necessary to conduct research on the effectiveness of avail™ as a prompting system, that achieved and measures learning. The Irish Research Council is currently exploring this, and we welcome any other studies who wish to conduct similar research.

Kind Regards,

Lisa Marie Clinton

Founder and CEO of avail

M: +353 874333131

E: lisamarie@avail.oxfordagency.co.uk




Alcantra, P. R. (1994). Effects of videotape instructional package on purchasing skills of children with autism. Exceptional Children, 61, 40-55.

Bryan, L. C., & Gast, D. L. (2000). Teaching on-task and on-schedule behaviours to high-functioning children with autism via picture activity schedules. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders30(6), 553–567. doi:10.1023/A:1005687310346[CrossRef][PubMed][Web of Science ®][CSA]

Carson, K. D., Gast, D. L., & Ayres, K. M. (2008). Effects of a photo activity schedule book on independent task changes by students with intellectual disabilities in community job sites. European Journal of Special Needs23, 269–279.

Charlop-Christy, M.H., Le, L., & Freeman, K.A. (2000). A comparison of video modelling with in video modelling for teaching children with autism. Journal of Autism and

Cooper,J.O.(1987a). Stimulus control.In J.O.Cooper, T.E.Heron,& W.L. Heward (Eds),Applied behaviour analysis (pp.299-326). Columbus, OH: Merrill.

Davies, D. K., Stock, S. E., & Wehmeyer, M. L. (2002). Enhancing independent task performance for individuals with mental retardation through use of a handheld self-directed visual and audio prompting system. Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities37, 209–218.

Gentry, T., Wallace, J., Kvarfordt, C., & Lynch, K. B. (2010). Personal digital assistants as cognitive aids for high school students with autism: Results of a community-based trial. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation32, 101–107.

Graetz, J. E., Matropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T. E. (2006). Show time: Using video self-modeling to decrease inappropriate behaviour. Teaching Exceptional Children, 38, 43-48.

Haring, T.G., Kennedy, C.H., Adams, M. J., & Pitts-Conway, V. (1987). Teaching generalisation of purchasing skills across community settings to autistic youth using videodisc Modelling. Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis, 20, 89-96.

Jacobson, J. W. (2000). Converting to a behaviour analysis format for autism services: Decision-making for educational administrators, principals, and consultants. The Behaviour Analyst Today, 1 (3), 6-16).

MacDuff, G. S., Krantz, P. J., McClannahan, L. E. (2001). Prompts and prompt-fading procedures for people with autism. (In C., Maurice,G., Green,R. M. Foxx, (Eds.), Making a difference: Behavioral intervention for autism (pp. 183-194). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed

McClannahan,L.E., & Krantz,P.J. (1999).Activity schedules for children with Autism:Teaching independent behavior.Bethesda,MD:Westview

Shane, H. C., & Albert, P. D. (2008). Electronic screen media for persons with autism

spectrum disorders: Results of a survey. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders38, 1499–1508.

Spriggs, A. D., Gast, D. L., & Ayers, K. M. (2007). Using picture activity schedule books to increase on-schedule and on-task behaviors. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities42(2), 209–223.[Web of Science ®]).

Van Laarhoven, T., Johnson, J. W., Van Laarhoven-Myers, Grider, K. L., & Grider, K. M.(2009). The effectiveness of using a video iPod as a prompting device in employment settings. Journal of Behavioral Education18 (2), 119–141


avail Autism Support set to launch in America

by Lisa Marie Clinton, Founder of avail

Exciting times ahead at avail HQ! I was fortunate enough to be invited to the beautiful city of Philadelphia for some exploratory meetings with leading service providers in the area of Autism, Down Syndrome and various other disabilities.  We were fortunate enough to be invited by the SmartInvest Ventures team, who had facilitated introductions to a number of US companies.  Not only was it a fantastic opportunity, but it was a great way to learn from some of the global leaders in services that ranged from education  to day services, right through to employment services and independent living. Because at avail we use elements of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) that originated in the US, I believed that they would indeed see the merit in the research and data analysis management tools that is incorporated into our solution.

Preparing to meet a large organisation that serves as many as 12,000 people can certainly be a daunting experience! So many questions ran through my mind – would their needs be the same and would those with disabilities face the same challenges as at home in Ireland?  Did service providers assess and provide support in the same way?  I’m happy to report the answer was YES and with our data and research into interventions and programmes, services could see that avail enhanced and facilitated service delivery and the outcomes they wanted to achieve. Not only was this applicable to organisations but it was also highly relevant on a government level – the Personnel Improvement Center creates support based on the level of an individuals’ ability, and confirmed that our levels of service where adequate for their needs.  

On the whole, feedback was extremely positive. It was great to see avail autism support get the recognition as a cost effective way to help in the transition from full time personnel providing prompts to a gradual fading into a more discrete way of assisting an adult to be successful at work and in life. At the end of our meetings the only question remaining: How do we move forward together?


avail on the St Patrick's Day busSo how did avail autism support end up in Philadephia’s annual St Patrick’s Day parade? At a business event, I was introduced to the Irish American Business Chamber Network (IABCN) through Kevin Kent. He invited me to join the IABCN and walk with their group in the parade which takes place the Sunday before March 17th. I jumped at the chance, and was honoured to represent Ireland and of course, avail.  
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avail is different from other platforms that teach visually. We go beyond being simply an app and offer a complete educational platform that continually assesses learning and creates a library of content for the end user. That’s really what sets us apart– we often think of tech as serving the organisation first and the individual secondly, but we have created a learning platform that is tailored to and ultimately controlled by the user and that is definitely a first!  I was honoured to present our story, mission and impact to the disabilities services in Philadelphia, and excited to be creating a lifetime of independence for many more individuals and their families. We are proud to report that avail team are currently working with 2 service providers to complete trials during the summer who will hopefully roll out the avail autism support programme within their organisations.

We will keep you updated on these exciting developments, if you would like to know more or want to talk to a member of our team feel free to contact us HERE.