LessonPix: An Online Program for Creating With Visual Supports

 

LessonPix  logo

A speech therapist friend recently introduced me to this amazing new resource and I have been smitten! I love my traditional picture-library programs as much as the next therapist, but it is frustrating when I can’t create needed supports because the software CDs are back in the office. This site eliminates the need to carry software and install on multiple systems and makes it easy to create instantly from any location!  This is especially helpful when I visit a classroom and want to provide ideas and examples of curriculum or communication supports for specific activities right then!

LessonPix is an easy-to-use online resource that allows users to create customized learning materials using a database of more than 25,000 visual symbols on their site.  They provide access anytime, anywhere and offer outstanding articles with ideas for integrating visual supports.  Creations are stored online in your account for future use and a Sharing Center allows users to share their creations or find new inspiration from materials made by others, arranged by topic and subject!  The site requires a subscription of $36/year and is worth every penny!

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Curriculum Supports for Students with Autism

Most teachers and clinicians will tell you that, while they understand the ‘what and why’ for teaching students with Autism, they have very little time (if any!) and are often at a loss for the ‘how’ ideas.  Let me introduce you to an amazing resource … The Autism Helper!

This site is operated by Sasha Halligan, a dynamic, skilled teacher with extensive experience in curriculum modification for students on the Autism Spectrum.  She routinely offers freebie materials  and Sasha’s TeachersPayTeachers site is full of other resources on myriad topics, all aligned to core standards.  Just reading her daily posts and seeing her creative ideas for teaching and supporting picture-based communication is fun.  I love TAH and so will you!

TAHelper logo

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Bookshare Web Reader Update

I love Bookshare, but I will admit that it takes a little work to learn how to use it.  That said, it is WELL worth the effort and will make you wonder how your students ever read without it! I was happy to learn today that they now offer an option for web reading without an individual membership and wanted to share this link with you for learning more.  Previously, students needed an individual subscription and password to log in outside of the school’s account.  Now the teacher can assign a specific log in for them, download books for the student, and assign them to a shared reading list to allow student access from the internet anywhere.  Wow.  It just keeps getting easier!

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PIE Conference 2014 Bookshare: Providing Digital Books for Students with Special Needs

Bookshare

Bookshare has always been one of my favorite resources for accessing digital content and I loved it even more after OSEP funding allowed them to offer the service for FREE to our students with disabilities.  If you’re unfamiliar with the program, feel free to look over this tutorial from my session Bookshare: Providing Digital Books for Students with Special Needs.  This is from an educational session I will be offering at the Partners in Education Conference sponsored by the TN Department of Education in Nashville next month.  If you’ll visit their site and click on the ‘Getting Started’ tab, there are terrific links and resources there to answer most all of your questions, as well as a YouTube channel full of quick video tutorials.  So, sign up and get those kids the materials they want in the format they need with Bookshare!

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Preparing for PARCC Testing

The shift toward computer delivered assessments bring a mix of emotions as we’re both excited about its potential, yet overwhelmed by the demands it places on us as educators.  With this in mind, we have begun introducing our teachers to comparable tools that they can use in the classroom now to prepare students for those we will see integrated into the tests next year.  Here is the Preparing for PARCC Testing ppt  Powerpoint I used for teachers in Blount County this week.  It contains information about the PARCC guidelines, as well as links to some terrific freebie Web 2.0 resources, tech tutorial sites, and software supports for consideration.  The TN Department of Education has also provided us with additional resources offering greater detail.  This PARCC Accessibility Manual for Field Testing includes additional information related to test questions with accessibility supports.

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Switch Access Basics

Children who present with complex physical disabilities need alternative access to allow engagement with toys and/or communication systems.  Switches are not new to the world of assistive technology, but their use may be new to many teachers!  In this post, I am going to offer links to a range of printable resources that will help educators and clinicians kick-start their use of switches. The University at Buffalo – The State University of New York has developed a web resource, Assistive Technology Training Online (ATTO) program that has some valuable resources.  One example is the ‘Switch Features List’, a simple guide for evaluating the features of different switches.  Another program offered by the University at Buffalo is designed to support early intervention efforts using assistive technologies.  The Let’s Play Project offers a resource guide for using switches with children 0 – 2 years old called Playing With Switches. Although the guide is a few years old and does not include many of the new toys available, the information is timeless. Inclusive technology has created a comprehensive teaching and assessment tool called the Switch Progression Roadmap. I love the ideas and the literal guide to progressively introducing and expanding switch use.  These are just a few resources for finding the help you need to get started.

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Free Vision Support Toolbar

 

MyVisBar

I love the free accessibility tools offered by EduApps!  Although vision support options are included in the popular MyStudyBar tool, they have gone one step further and created a standalone application called MyVisBar for users with low vision.

MyVisBar can be downloaded to the computer (or a USB drive for added portability) for use with any PC or Android device.  It offers excellent magnification with additional built-in supports for learners with visual difficulties. Features include options for changing text contrast (yellow on black), a visible ring to help track the cursor, a nice screen reader, high contrast text editing, color masking for text, and the ability to change the desktop resolution.  Similar supports are available for student use within the online PARCC tests. These tools are quite helpful for students with low vision as well as those who need text accommodations to support independent reading.

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Free, Portable Web 2.0 Reading & Writing Supports

eduapps.org

Gone are the days when we had to purchase expensive technology supports and install from a CD to every computer a student might use.  With the growing number of Web 2.0 tools, there are now many free resources available to provide students the accessibility and support features they need, whenever they need them and wherever they are. EduApps is one of my favorite resources and offers some outstanding web 2.0 tools for students who need added support for reading, studying, writing, or using the internet.

EduApps creates accessibility software and offers them as free downloads for the desktop computer and/or Android market.  They can be saved to a USB drive as well, allowing students to take the support they need home with them. The popular MyStudyBar (one of my favorites) is a floating toolbar equipped with a range of reading, writing, and organizing tools.  Many of the features found on this tool are allowable accommodations on the new PARCC online tests.  Use of this tool in the classroom would benefit students who need these supports throughout the year and for participation with online evaluations.

mystudybar

 

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TN Assistive Technology Conference 2013: Preparing Students for PARCC Testing

Conference 2013

The Tennessee Association for Assistive Technology has announced an amazing lineup of scheduled sessions for their 2013 conference. Held yearly in Murfreesboro, TN, this is an outstanding event for those who want to learn more about the use of AT in the special education setting.  Many of the sessions offered this year are designed to address the use of augmentative communication tools and strategies with language impaired students, while others will focus on using Assistive Technologies to adapt instruction for the new Common Core State Standards.  Even better, there are a large number of sessions designed to provide guidance in preparing students with special needs for the PARCC and NCSC related online assessments.  PARCC recently released its list of approved assistive technologies that will be integrated into their testing formats and teachers are rushing to find ways to teach students to use these supports.  If you’re looking for help with this daunting task, then the TAAT Conference 2013 is the place to be!  Session Time Ordered List.

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Redeem Gift Cards Now Using the Device Camera

Exploring some of the (200+) new features and functions available in Apple’s newest system upgrade has proven to be a lot like piecing together a puzzle and finding little surprises you did not expect to see in the big picture.  While all of the user interface changes were designed to simplify tasks for the masses, many will prove to be especially helpful for users with disabilities.

My iOS7 Tip-Of-The-Day:

We no longer have to type in those ridiculously long redemption codes from the back of the iTunes gift cards!  One of the new functions in iOS7 allows you to take a photo with the device’s camera (front or rear) to input this information. To redeem the gift card, just go to the iTunes store, make your purchase (app, book or music) and choose the option to “redeem the card with the camera”.  Use the camera to take a picture of the back of the gift card and the code is automatically entered for you.  This new feature will certainly be helpful for users with low vision or fine motor problems!

Apple offers these tips:

  • If the room isn’t lit well enough, your gift card may not be readable.
  • Completely peel off the coating that is hiding the gift code to improve readability.
  • If you receive this message, you can type in your iTunes Gift Card code manually.

camera code error

 

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