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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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!

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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
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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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TAAT 2015 Conference

The call for papers is open until October 1st to present a session for TAAT 2015.  For more information visit:  www.taat.org/conference/.  And remember…  Conference Presenters attend the rest of the conference for FREE!!!  Click on the link below to view the Session Proposal Form:

Session proposal form button

 

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All Things Google…

Google Apps iconI 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.

Our friends at Te@chThought have created a terrific list of ideas for using Google tools in the classroom:  60 Smarter Ways to Use Google Classroom. 

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.

 

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Teaching ‘Visually Supported’ Communication to Visually Impaired Students

Mo Buti and our session attendees have been sharing some amazing suggestions for teaching communication skills to non-verbal students who also have visual impairments. Here are a few of those ideas and resources!

Tactile Connections Kit

TACTILE CONNECTIONS KIT: SYMBOLS FOR COMMUNICATION   This kit helps teachers create a tactile card system that is individualized for visually impaired and blind learners who have additional disabilities and/or lack a formal means of communication or literacy. The tactile symbols are created when part of an object is mounted on a hand-sized card representing core vocabulary categories (e.g. people, places, actions, objects, etc.). This kit provides some of the essential components that assist in a system’s construction and application.

The PERKINS site offers some great resources for teaching communication to visually impaired students.

Tactile books are used to teach literacy, so why not pair them with separate cards containing the same key words, characters, etc. found in the books to reinforce language learning? Pinterest (everybody’s favorite collecting site) offers a wealth of ideas for CREATING TACTILE BOOKS that can be paired with tactile communication supports. Here is another link to MORE TACTILE BOOKS FOR LANGUAGE AND LITERACY.

 

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Special World Magazine by Inclusive Technology

Special World

I love Inclusive Technology!  This outstanding company creates some of the best software, apps, and accessibility products for children with special needs.  Although based in Great Britain, all materials are available through their US partner, Inclusive TLC.  Now they’ve gone even further toward offering support to teachers and therapists using assistive technologies in the school setting.

In September, 2014, they launched a quarterly online magazine called Special World and they’ve just released the 3rd edition.  The articles and information are well written and informative, offering practical application ideas for supporting the use of AT in the educational process.  There are very few resources out there that specifically address the use of AT with children, making this an invaluable resource. All editions are archived, so download a copy today!

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Free Webinars

HelpKidzLearn logo

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.
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