Wouldn’t it be great to have online meetings transcribed in real time?

NCTI has recently profiled the creator of CommuniClique, a simple and efficient communication and collaboration technology support. What’s interesting? Teams can “hold meetings from their desktops face-to-face with audio and video, presenting all the communicative benefits of eye-contact, gestures, and voice intonation in real-time, as well as offering video quality that is robust enough for lip-reading.” OK, but what else?
Well, here’s where it gets interesting: It also offers closed-captioning. How? “The difference is we’ve structured our server farm to treat each person’s voice as a separate channel. So we can actually take each person who is talking, separately and with no noise or overlap, take time stamps of when they say what, and transcribe each person’s voice independently. Then we superimpose them back over each other just like you would see in an instant message transcript…A lot of our solutions aren’t all that technically complex, they’re just these, ‘Why didn’t I think of that’ implementations’. We look for what makes sense, the simplest answer.’ This was the case for the separate voice channel solution, which other companies had overlooked in trying to create transcription capability while attempting to solve logistical challenges with conversational overlap and confusion.”
Click on http://www.nationaltechcenter.org/index.php/2009/07/20/ipro-communiclique/ to read more.

For students with Autism don’t forget the keyboard!

Read an article by Leslie Broun which reminded me of the importance of the computer as a writing instrument for students with Autism who have difficulty writing. Click on the following links to take a look at some online keyboarding sites, reviews and resources.
http://typing-for-kids-software-review.toptenreviews.com
www.kidsdomain.com/brain/computer/type.html
http://allison.com/courses/Touch-Typing-Training
http://www.assistivetechnologies.com/gallery.asp?category=40&CT=Keyboards
Broun, L. (2009) Take the pencil out of the process of teaching. Exceptional Children. 42(1),14-21.

“There’s an App for that!”

There are many apps that are available for reading e-books. Most feature a library of classic books. In addition the apps have the ability to change the size of the font. The Narrator app is the one application that I have found that will also read the text while highlighting. Currently three books are available (Call of the Wild, Anne of Green Gables, and The Tale of Peter Rabbit) with more promised by the creator.
I have also made use of the free Kindle app. This app allows you to purchase books through your Amazon Kindle account and have them available on your iTouch or iPhone. Surprisingly I found that reading a book on the iTouch was pleasurable and did not cause me any eye strain–and I have old eyes. Now I have a book available wherever I am: waiting in the doctor’s office, waiting for my children, or while traveling.

Barrier Free

Often students with disabilities are prevented from participating in many key academic areas, most often Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Many teachers do not know how to provide accommodations in these areas or how to teach students outside the traditional means of instruction. Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access has a grant the National Science Foundation called Barrier Free Education. The goal of the Barrier-Free Education Project is to provide training and resources available to teachers anytime, anywhere. They have charts that include problems and solutions in all of the content areas.
Check it out and get great ideas
http://barrier-free.arch.gatech.edu/index.php

ATMac tells us to do just one thing with MACSpeech Dictate

…and it’s to turn on the “Always show recognition window when dictating” option in the preference pane. Click on http://atmac.org/improve-macspeech-dictate-recognition-with-one-easy-step/ for Ricky Buchanan’s directions…and enjoy better speech recognition starting today! (Isn’t she wonderful? Don’t you wish she was next to you all the time, giving you pointers?)

Free text-to-speech tools for the PC user

If you’re like most of us, finding free resources are important these days. If you’ve missed some of these, consider all the text-to-speech tools below that can be used on a PC computer:
WordTalk
http://www.wordtalk.org/uk
Read Please
http://www.readplease.com/

Natural Reader
http://www.naturalreaders.com

Click,Speak
http://clickspeak.clcworld.net/about.html

Balabolka
http://www.cross-plus-a.com/balabolka.htm

“There’s an App for that!”

Let’s spend a minute and look at some plain old fun applications. I love to play and have found many applications that can satisfy my urge to waste a few minutes playing. Besides it’s a great way to bond with my teenagers. Some of my current favorites: Touch Physics (2.99)–there is also a free version but I had to upgrade to the full version because I liked it so much. I could argue that you have to know simple machines and laws of physics to play this game so it is indirectly educational.
Another challenging game is Bloons ($.99). Try popping the balloons using a limited number of darts. Each level is more challenging. Let me know if you can get past level 35–I’ve been stuck there for weeks.
Of course you can always find the classic games like checkers and connect four for free. Happy gaming!