Why not use a cellphone for everything?

You know it might seem kind of obvious, but I hadn’t really thought about it, cellphones can’t be used on worksites! Duh! How many times have you seen a person pause from their work to get on their cellphone—and think “Geez, texting a friend when they are supposed to be working? Tsk Tsk.” Think about what the rules and restraints employers might have against cellphones and if all of the employees supports were stored on the smartphone? It might require a conversation with the employer or you might have to consider another device. This is where Android Tablets, iTouches, and iPads might be of assistance. Just when we thought we had all of our technology covered in one device, employment situations challenge it. That’s why we need to remember that assistive technology may not work for an individual in every situation and we have to be thoughtful when we are considering tools to allow for the most flexibility meeting the most needs. Just thought I would share!

Friday Research Spotlight: An investigation of the inclusion model of instruction with assistive technology

A recent study by a graduate student “was designed to determine whether the inclusion model of instruction with the use of assistive technology was more effective in delivering instruction to regular education students and special needs students in the same classroom in comparison to the regular education with pull-out model of instruction.” In addition to examining service delivery model, the grad student looked at teacher training related to implementing AT.
In the words of the researcher, “The study used dialogue with an action research team, comprised of selected school personnel, and classroom observations to explore this topic. The most important findings were that teachers needed professional development to be more knowledgeable and supportive of students with disabilities for the inclusion model of instruction to be successful in the classroom.”
Want to read more? Search Dissertation Abstracts for:
Morton, J.L. (2010). An investigation of the inclusion model of instruction with assistive technology and the regular education with pull-out model of instruction. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, CA.

The app academy

Can you believe that the iPad has only been around for three years? Since its introduction, the field of applications that have been made available has grown to the point that it is hard to keep up. Many applications have been designed for individuals with autism or are identified for use with individuals with autism. But in the midst of the thousands of applications how can you be sure that an application is based on evidence based practice?
The Research and Empowerment in Multimedia Learning Environments (R.E.M.L.E.) Project has developed The App Academy website to provide training on apps that have been evaluated and have the ability to be individualized based on evidence-based criteria which has shown positive outcomes for families of individuals with autism spectrum disorder in past research studies.
Training videos of apps are available in the areas of behavioral, communication, instruction, positive reinforcement, reference tools, and social. Each app presented has been evaluated according to a set of criteria.
The App Academy
Want more information on iPads?
Check out our delicious bookmark page:
http://tinyurl.com/ipad-ttac

Are you getting enough sleep?

Okay now I’ve heard it all. The iPhone can know use the accelerometer and the Sleep Cycle App to measure your movement during your sleep and determine which phase of sleep you are in and when. It will also graph it for you. I was at a training last week and the presenter said he has been monitoring his sleep pattern and using the alarm clock feature of the app to improve his sleep. Apparently we are more rested if we are awakened during a light sleep phase than during deep sleep, where you might wake up exhausted like a “truck just hit me”. I was thinking about how this App might come in handy with individuals with disabilities who don’t sleep well, and measuring their sleep patterns using this App might provide some information that could lead to solutions. Sleep studies cost a lot of money and are often done in unfamiliar environments, but this way you can sleep in your own bed and put the iPhone under you pillow to measure movement and sleep cycles. Kind of interesting. These phones can do everything it seems!

Friday Research Spotlight: A STUDY OF AT USE BY STUDENTS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS IN SINGAPORE

Today’s focus is “A study of assistive technology use by students with visual impairments in Singapore” by Cohen, Wong, and Tan in the INTED2011 Proceedings. What’s that? It’s the 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference that took place in March 2011 in Spain.
The focus areas of the study were:
1. In what ways do students with visual difficulties respond to an on-going intervention regarding the use of assistive technology?
2. What are the enablers and barriers to the use of assistive technology by students with visual impairments?
In the words of the authors, “This study describes the introduction and implementation of assistive technologies in a special school for primary-age students with visual difficulties. The observation framework is grounded in the research literature of design ethnography (Barab, Thomas, Dodge, Squire, & Newell, 2004; Barab & Roth, 2006). Despite research-based evidence on the benefits of using assistive technology by students with visual difficulties, a special school in Singapore had not used assistive technologies until 2009 when researchers introduced assistive technology to students and teachers. A series of training sessions in using assistive technology were conducted for students with visual difficulties and their teachers. Observations were conducted to understand how students use assistive technologies during and after the training sessions. Observations were coded and reviewed by three researchers. The video records were supplemented by field notes of the same lessons taken by researchers as in situ observers.
The results revealed that the majority of students and their teachers were not using nor had much knowledge of assistive technologies. Although Singapore is a country in which technologies are pervasive and intensively utilized by most of the population, students and their teachers lack access to training and relevant technologies, particularly technologies that support teaching, learning, and employment. On-going trainings of teachers demonstrated that assistive technologies can be incrementally integrated into the school curricula. Implications for interventions and potential changes in policies and practices are discussed. The results of this study are a unique contribution to the research literature on assistive technology use in Southeast Asia.”
Are you a Virginia educator who wants to read the entire piece? Email us (link above) and we will get it in your hands?

The future is now

Ablenet just announced the freehand computer interface. This remarkable glove can be programmed to access a computer. By just touching two fingers together you can click, type, or tab through programs. It even works with switch enabled apps on the iPad, whiteboard screens and wheelchair controls. Check it out. Let us know what you think.
Freehand by Ablenet
freehand.png

Everyday Skills in Visual Format

Visual supports are essential for some individuals to be successful in school and in the community. Everyday Skills App provides self-directed learning sessions for 40 important skills necessary for living independently and accessing the community based on proven content developed by the Attainment Company. Three skill areas are addressed, Community, Personal Skills and Transition and Transportation Skills. This app cost a bit more $39.99, but it’s better than spending all of your time making 40 of your own visual supports. It has received mixed reviews. Let us know what you think.

Friday Research Spotlight: Make it cool!

Kristen Shinohara at the University of Washington is targeting “awkward and clunky designs [that] often draw unwanted attention to the user. In this way, assistive technologies are not always designed with social situations in mind, and may contribute to issues of in-access, particularly in social situations.”
Shinohara champions “Design for Social Acceptance” as a way to make assistive technologies “more socially acceptable.” She is currently researching “how people with disabilities feel about using their technologies in social and professional contexts to gain an understanding of the socio-technical relations arising around assistive technologies.”
Read more here: http://tinyurl.com/makeitcool
Shinohara, K. (2012). A new approach for the design of assistive technologies: design for social acceptance. SIGACCESS Access. Comput., 102. Available through http://dl.acm.org/ or http://tinyurl.com/makeitcool. Also see http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=1978942.1979044

Portable App: Virtual Dub

VirtualDub (http://www.virtualdub.org/) is a free screen recording app that can be installed on a Windows computer or run off a USB drive. The creator “started VirtualDub in college to do some quick capture-and-encoding that I wanted done; from there it’s basically grown into a more general utility that can trim and clean up video before exporting to tape or processing with another program. I released it on the web and others found it useful, so I’ve been tinkering around with its code ever since. If you have the time, please download and enjoy.”
Don’t know anything about screen recording software? Look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_screencasting_software.
VirtualDub is one of the applications available on the EduApps site as a portable app. Visit http://eduapps.org/?page_id=180 to create a portable apps USB drive of your own and http://ttactechtuesday.pbworks.com/w/page/50207551/Portable%20Apps to visit our training site about portable apps.

Going Places App

For many children who might have difficulty following a routine in the community (haircut; grocery shopping; restaurant) might benefit from visual supports. A free App like Model Me Going Places might be something to try. Each scenario demonstrates children exhibiting appropriate behaviors in each environment through a photo slide show. This app is based on the DVD series Model Me Going Places. Let us know what you think.