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…
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.
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!
I love my iPad as much as any tech specialist, but there’s also much to love about Chrome and the supports found in Google Classroom! It hasn’t been that long since districts were forced to choose between using Windows or Apple operating systems, but not today. Many of my schools employ both platforms for different programs or projects, making Google tools even more useful. In this post, I just want to share some links and resources for learning more about this incredible classroom support.
In her popular blog TeacherTech, Alice Keeler provides handy tutorials, guides, and tip sheets for teachers wanting to learn how to use Google tools. Her resources are designed to support the not-so-tech-savvy teacher, as well as the more skilled user. Better yet, she offers practical ideas and examples for incorporating them into the curriculum.
The Google Apps Classroom Team has created their own lists, one of which I found especially helpful when getting started. It’s called 32 Ways to Use Google Apps and downloads (appropriately enough!) in a Google Doc format.
I have just fallen in love with another web 2.0 support to add to our technology toolkits! The Mada Assistive Technology Center in Qatar has created an amazing array of web 2.0 supports packaged in a single toolbar for improving web accessibility. The “ATbar” contains tools for font magnification, text-to-speech, word prediction, background and font color changes, pop-up dictionary, spell checker and readability adjustments (to reduce visual clutter).
There are three versions of the ATbar:
- The download version stays available when you move between web pages and is made up of the standard functions.
- The lite version acts in a similar way to a bookmark or favorite and has to selected each time you visit a new web page – it also has the standard functions.
- The marketplace version allows you to build your own ATbar, by choosing the plug-ins to suit your needs then save the custom made bar as a bookmark.
- Other software is available on a USB flash drive with an accessible menu system as a Portable Accessibility Toolkit and there is a desktop version of the ATbar on the download page.
These supports are available for download onto any PC for personal use or directly onto your own website or WordPress blog as a plug-in for those who visit your site.
And…best of all…they’re FREE!!
For more information, visit their site https://www.atbar.org