Tech Resources for Read-Aloud Testing

There is good news for students who must have tests read aloud (and the staff responsible for this time consuming task).  There are a growing number of software supports and apps (iOS and Android) on the market that allow for easy adaptation of tests to offer recorded or digitized speech output.  Some programs allow students to respond via keyboarding, but not all.  Here are just two of my favorites…

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AAC Resources for the Classroom

AAC in the Classroom

I’ve learned a lot about AAC technologies over the last 15 years.  I often say that I don’t know everything, but I can probably tell you how and where to learn more.  Because I provide direct technology support and training to educational teams for many students with impaired language and communication skills, I have gathered a wealth of forms, tip sheets, tutorial resources, assessment materials, etc. for use in the school setting.  I share these with teachers and treating speech therapy clinicians across my service area, as well as anybody looking to learn more.  I hope these resources are helpful to those working (or planning to work) in the school setting with children who need or use AAC supports.  There are SO many more than these, but this is where I’d like to start.

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Chromebooks and Accessibility Supports

Chrome AT Toolbox

As more districts more toward the use of Chromebooks for 1:1 device use, there are always questions about how these devices can provide the accessibility supports needed by our students with physical and/or learning disabilities.  Since Chromebooks don’t allow for installation of software programs (the usual source of specialized reading/writing support), assistive tools must come from apps and extensions that can modify the user interface.  These tools, many of which are free,  are available from the Chrome Web Store and offer accommodations for visual needs, reading, writing, studying, note-taking, web navigation, etc. Be sure to check out user reviews and give a number of options a trial run before deciding which work best for the intended user.

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Google in The Classroom; Tutorial Help

Shake Up Learning Website topics

I love Google and all the great things they’ve brought us to use in the classroom, but it can be overwhelming to find and learn to use what may be appropriate for your needs, especially if you’re just getting started.  I always tell my training audiences, “I can’t know everything on every topic, but I do know where to direct you to find what you need.”  If you need more information for learning to use Google Apps and Google for Education supports, then I would send you  to a great site called ShakeUpLearning.  This incredibly helpful blog is written by Kasey Bell, a Google Certified Innovator and Google Certified Trainer who has taught digital learning workshops at ISTE, FETC, TCEA, and Google Summit events.  Her site offers free digital learning resources, eBook tutorials, guides and cheat sheets for learning to use all things Google,  along with ideas for integrating their use into the classroom.  Check it out today!

AAC in the Classroom for Young Children (part I)

It’s always exciting to see kids with limited speech and language abilities respond to the use of visually supported communication tools and strategies. Images are easy to recognize and recall, making the transference of information universal…no matter what the ‘language’ might be!  It’s easy to understand something visual, even if we can’t read the script or verbalize its name or meaning.

STOP in french

McDonalds in Arabic
You might not know the language, but you know what these sign mean!

I routinely help teachers and speech therapy staff create adaptive communication supports and modify classrooms to create a language immersion environment for young learners. Unfortunately, just talking about augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can scare the life from those unfamiliar with the process!  While the terminology may sound intimidating, it really isn’t that complex for this particular group.  In the next few posts, I’d like to offer some information, ideas, and resources to help those in the school setting alleviate their fears and elevate their enthusiasm for using AAC in the classroom with young students!

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Free Resources for AT, AAC, Modifying the Curriculum

I love great resources and I really love them when they’re FREE! If you’ve never visited the Special Education Needs (SEN) Teacher website, you need to do it now.

SEN Teacher offers a wealth of FREE printables, a page full of links to specialized support sites, as well as free software downloads for addressing the academic, sensory, communication, and assistive technology needs of children with special needs.

Most printable resources can be adapted to suit a variety of individual needs. All SEN Teacher resources are free to use at school and in the home.

Here are a few examples …

 

Quick AAC Photo Cards ⋆SEN Teacher image
Visual Aids Printables: Quick AAC Photo Cards

 

Printables ⋆SEN Teacher image
SEN Teacher Printables

Switch and Tablet Mounting with Loc-Line Hose!

AT Kits Brochure

If you’ve never used a mounting system offered by Loc-Line, you’re in for a treat!! Although designed for use in a range of industrial settings, it didn’t take long until some crafty OT’s recognized the potential for using modular hose to create durable mounting systems.  Don’t we all just LOVE crafty OT’s? (I may be biased just a little…)  I even love that the company gave credit to this group on their brochure featuring their latest mounts.  You can download that here:  Modular Hose AT brochure 2016.

Loc-line materials can be purchased individually for creating or customizing mounts, or you can buy them pre-fabricated in various AT Kits designed to hold tablets and switches. Their newest offering, called Tablet-X is awesome (the brochure even says so!)  Visit their WEBSITE to take a look. They’re lightweight, virtually unbreakable, very flexible, easily cleanable, and just plain fun to work with! 

Switch Mount

 

Summer Camp for Kids with Special Needs

 

Wow! Summer break is almost here and will bring much needed vacations (for staff and students alike!). I know that many of us will be sending our children off to camp somewhere so they can enjoy a few days of fun and adventure outdoors with their friends.  Let’s not forget about our students with physical and learning disabilities who deserve the same opportunities but require special care to meet their diverse needs.  There are a growing number of summer camps designed to accommodate their needs and I am amazed at how well the kids and families respond to participation.

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Resources for Families of Children with Autism

Autism logo

I am an ATP working in the special education setting, but I’ve also been an OT for almost 30 years. Since the goal of OT is to improve functional independence and the goal of AT use is to provide tools that help accommodate for disability, the two are a perfect match.  Although my role is to foster academic engagement and success in the classroom, we all recognize the importance of the child’s family as members of the education team.  Carryover in the home is a key piece to supporting that success!

In this post, I’d like to share some of the resources that I routinely offer to parents to introduce them to the use of visual supports, AAC  tools and strategies, and sensory strategies commonly used within the classroom.

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Using the iPad to Provide Literacy Supports for LD Students District-Wide

 

My colleague, Karen Moffatt, CCC-SLP,  and I presented an educational session on this topic at the 2016 Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) National Conference earlier this month. As expected, there was a large amount of interest in the subject as educators and administrators across the globe try to figure out how to tap the full potential of this device in the classroom.  We feel like everybody should be skilled users, but they’re still relatively new and upgrading all the time.  As Karen put it so clearly during our session, ” iPads have only been with us for about six years, but it feels like forever.”

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