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…
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!
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!
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.”
It’s hard to find time to get away from the classroom for training, so webinars make it easy to keep up with what’s new. HelpKidzLearn is an excellent resource created by Inclusive Technology and they have some wonderful online sessions coming up this week. Sessions are 60 minutes long, interactive, and (best of all) free! Register even if you can’t attend the live session…you’ll be sent a link to the archives so you can catch it later when you have time.
Beginning Tuesday, April 21, topics include:
- iPad Access for Physical Disabilities
- Creating Personalized Eye Gaze Activities with Chooseit! Maker 3
- Using Technology to Support Reading
- Using Technology to Support Writing.
Life just keeps getting better for teachers looking to make accommodations in their classrooms! The use of ‘traditional’ assistive technologies involving specialized programs or devices continues to give way to mainstream commercial technologies, making classroom modifications easier and easier. Although the advent of the iPad rocked districts (and teachers in general!) across the country for the first few years, even our least tech savvy educators have since learned to master navigation of a tablet. Note: I say ‘navigate’ rather than use because many of the teachers I meet continue to struggle with how to effectively use the device within the curriculum to support Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Device navigation does not equate integration!
The quest to find appropriate educational apps can be daunting and many are unsure how or where to proceed, leaning on random lists and recommendations of others. Since the device is only as effective as the apps installed on it, choosing the right mix is the key to success! While I continually add my favorites under the toolbar on my homepage, I have found a terrific resource that every teacher should have! UDL Playground, one of my favorite education wikispaces, has created a Placemat of Core Apps designed to support UDL integration with the iPad.
To truly use an iPad as an effective teaching and learning tool, I recommend a range of apps for specific purposes, chosen by their function. I advise teachers to install a mix of apps from three categories: EDUCATION APPS are designed to provide interactive learning of specific educational concepts and these are often the only apps teachers know to search for. But, to truly modify the devices to meet the needs of all students, you’ll need more. PRODUCTIVITY APPS and UTILITY APPS are the real tools we need for providing digital text, annotating and editing documents, organizing our thoughts, creating schedules, facilitating communication, offering specific accessibility features, etc.
The Placemat of Core Apps provides three well organized lists of apps for use with students, arranged according to multi-modal tasks: representation of information, engagement and expression. You may download as a pdf to share, yet clicking on the App icons offers a brief description of the function and how you could use this with your students. Adapting the classroom just keeps getting easier!
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.
I’ll say it again…you just can’t beat the accessibility features offered by Apple. I loved the simple touch screen interface offered from the onset and they just keep adding new tools for our students with physical disabilities through every upgrade. Yesterday’s release of iOS7 is like Christmas for our users with special needs…
With more than 200 changes in this upgrade, there is something for everybody who uses an iPad, iPod Touch or an iPhone. It includes a completely redesigned user interface and some exciting new accessibility supports our disabled students will love. Options specifically designed for those with limited abilities include the ability to adjust fonts system-wide, provide customized captioning and set user controls for switch access. This includes the option for gesture-based controls (including actions such as head movements) to operate the devices. Wow! What a difference these features will make for our more severely involved students who have seen iPads in their schools but have never been able to engage with them or use them to their fullest potential. This upgrade also offers expanded functionality for the already awesome accessibility features such as Zoom, VoiceOver, Speak Selection, Assistive Touch and Guided Access.
There is a wonderful ‘how to’ guide available from the folks at MakeUseOf. Ono of my favorite resource sites, they have created a downloadable guide to all the new iOS7 features.
The upgrade is available for iPhone 4 and newer, iPad 2 and newer, and the 5th generation iPod Touch. To download iOS 7 go to Settings > General > Software Update.
Note: You must have sufficient storage memory available or it will not install.