Last week at the VSTE annual conference, we were impressed by several of the sessions on assistive technology and universal design for learning (udl) by our friends in the Loudoun County Public School System. I especially like the presentations on UDL which both shared the foundational concepts and modeled digital applications. To explore, visit http://tinyurl.com/lcpsatvste09
Got a press release for WordLogic (http://www.wordlogic.com/products/wordlogic_predictive_keyboard_desktop_features.asp) and think it might be of interest! Take a gander at this (huge) quote from the website:
Universality: WordLogic can be used in any application where you enter text. Unlike many other programs of the kind, it does not require you to type in a dedicated window. Type as you usually do, and use WordLogic only when you need it.
Ease of access: WordLogic Predictive Keyboard is designed not to interfere at all with the way you usually work on your computer. But simply hold any key down, and WordLogic will open up a whole new world of possibilities for you.
Adaptability: WordLogic adapts to your writing style, learning what words and phrases you use frequently and adjusts accordingly. You can also add an unlimited amount of custom words, phrases, names and any text strings to your Personal Dictionary, making your WordLogic Predictive Keyboard as unique as you are.
Flexibility: WordLogic Predictive Keyboard is fully customizable. Choose between: three display modes, six screen sizes, three sets of keys to browse the predictions and Keyboard functions to optimize your WordLogic experience.
Portability: WordLogic Predictive Keyboard on the USB flash drive makes your language travel with you everywhere. This stand-alone version requires no installation – just find a desktop or a tablet with the USB port, plug it in, and all your words and phrases will be right at your fingertips.
Quality prediction: WordLogic offers 5 predictions at a time, based on a quality dictionary with over 90,000 entries. It will help you navigate through the most challenging vocabulary with ease and type complex and long words and phrases quicker than ever.
Smart Web-Searching: Built-in WordLogic Portal feature is your smart Internet research assistant. Select a piece of text in any application, and perform a quick search in designated web-engines without opening extra windows and retyping your query. With WordLogic, every word you see on your computer screen becomes a potential link to your favourite web-searches. By default, WordLogic Portal is configured to work with the following resources: Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com, Encyclopaedia.com, Google.com
Calculator: WordLogic enables you to perform calculations (including algebraic and trigonometric functions, and even custom formulas) while typing. You can either look up the result or insert it into your document.
Spell-Checking Alert: WordLogic warns you with a sound alert and a graphic icon every time you enter any unrecognized word. You can then either make a correction, or add the new word to your Personal Dictionary.
Full Mouse Support: WordLogic Predictive Keyboard will allow you to type anything using just the mouse. The software thus becomes a great Assistive Technology solution for people who have trouble using the hardware keyboard.
Multiple Dictionary Support: WordLogic develops dictionaries covering a wide spectrum of languages (English, German, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese) and professional areas (journalism, legal, medical). Let us know if you want a dictionary designed for you!
We love the idea of applications that live on USB drives, especially for folks who swap computers or borrow computer time from others. Installation is an impossibility for them. This one seems to be about $99.00, which sounds good to me. Has anyone used this? What did you think?
Center for Implementing Technology in Education’s article Using Technology to Support Writng may give you some ideas to put the creative spark back into the writng process for your students.
Check out the article:
Send them to the “Going to College” website: http://www.going-to-college.org/myplace/index.html.
This new website is an accessible, interactive, multi-media resource for students–and includes much more than just discussion of assistive technology! The “My Place” portion of the website includes:
My learning style – Find out how you learn best. This knowledge will be very helpful when you are picking out your college classes, learning new information and studying for your tests.
Knowing my strengths – Figure out your strengths. Everyone has strengths, but sometimes it can be hard to discover them. Knowing what your strengths are will help you choose the classes that are right for you and help you find a major and career in which you can excel.
Exploring my interests – Investigate your interests. Determine what you like to do, what holds your attention and areas in which you have a passion. These interests will play a role in choosing a major, your college experience and eventual satisfaction with your job.
Accepting my disability – Learn more about disability, how to make sense of your documentation and to accept differences in yourself and others. Read about famous people with disabilities and find out how they use their strengths in their careers.
Setting my goals – Make a plan to accomplish your goals. Sometimes large goals can seem overwhelming. Learn how to take a goal, break it into smaller steps and achieve your objectives.
My advocacy plan – Learn how to speak up for what you want in an effective way. This skill is important to have in college because you are ultimately in charge of your education and will need to communicate with faculty, advisers and college personnel.
Check it out!
A resource worth exploring on a range of topics that inform all the content at http://www.ideapartnership.org/
According to Ed Week, “Technology experts are advising school officials to look closely at the new federal economic-stimulus package for indirect as well as direct sources of aid for technology projects.” Click on http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/02/25/22stimtech.h28.html?tmp=1056580300 to read the article.
The cell phone is becoming so advanced we can now make phone calls, send emails and surf the internet. Soon you may not have to carry your wallet either! Visa is running trials now to see if it’s possible!
Check out Nokia 6212 Classic and Visa
I just attended a presentation at VSTE on AT clubs by Joan Wingfield and Toni Sheets of Augusta County–they felt that students with high-incidence disabilities were getting “missed” by AT services because the kids with more significant disabilities were getting all the attention.
[If you missed them at Closing the Gap and TechKnowledgy and (now) at VSTE, you really missed a lot. Here’s their presentation in a nutshell.]
All of their middle and high schools have a “club day” that occurs just about every 6 weeks. They decided to create a “Dana Club” to increase leadership skills as well as a place to go on club day! Students decided to present to each other with PowerPoints and other materials to address the concerns of kids with disabilities.
In the 2006-07 school year, there were only about 4 students in one school, but now there are 5-12 students and groups in 5 schools. They did not feel that they were doing a good job on teaching the kids how to use their AT (Danas, etc.) and this club is part of their solution! Now, in fact, there are students who don’t even use word processing tools—but meet and discuss other AT tools. Some of them are also friends on Facebook—with each other and the coordinators!
They have started with Danas and moved to read aloud software; then they let the kids dictate: Moviemaker, Photo Story, flip cams/USB cams, interactive whiteboards, etc. based on student wants and needs.
Some of this year’s and last year’s lessons:
1. intro to word processors
2. read aloud options
3. word prediction
4. graphic organizers (inspiration)
5. interactive white boards
6. Tar heel reader (the group makes books for the teachers!)
7. iPods with accessible books and digital recording
8. MS accessibility
9. voice recognition software
Want to take a look at the people I’m talking about? Click on http://www.augusta.k12.va.us/668710034104543/site/default.asp.
If you want to help in setting up your own club, here’s what they suggest:
- identify potential club members (you need a techie kid to draw the rest in);
- meet with ITRT;
- set meeting dates and location for the year (big stumbling block—although they seem set in stone, the meeting dates get changed); and
- choose lesson plans and teachers for meetings
Joan and Toni will send their PowerPoint soon and we’ll post it!
Our blog friend, teachinglearnerswithmultipleneeds.blogspot.com, has posted some info about a new eye-gaze system that you may want to check out: Click on http://teachinglearnerswithmultipleneeds.blogspot.com/2009/01/prc-introduces-new-ecopoint-euegaze.html to read the info. (You can also click here: http://speech-language-pathology-audiology.advanceweb.com/Editorial/Content/Editorial.aspx?CC=192967) What do you think of it?
Attainment’s AT Video Series is a training tool for administrators, teachers and parents. You’ll find help in assessing a students’ AT needs; considering both low tech and high tech devices. You’ll see how an IEP team uses a decision making process to make effective decisions about AT.