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.
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.
I am always excited when our trusted special education software manufacturers make a program available in app format. I am REALLY excited this week, as Don Johnston just released an app version of Co:Writer®!!
This is a word prediction tool that reduces the number of keystrokes required to type and that makes it a great tool for students with physical disabilities or just poor typing abilities. Since it provides support for spelling and grammar with writing tasks, it’s an amazing tool for our LD students who know what they want to say but can’t seem to think of the right word or struggle with spelling. As the first letters are typed, Co:Writer predicts the intended word and presents a selection of word choices. The program uses ‘inventive’ spelling to predict words, even if the student misspells the word or omits vowels.
Word suggestions can be read aloud with a swipe; selecting the intended word places it into the document. Built-in text to speech will read letters, words, sentences, and the entire document using the Heather voice. Control settings allow for adjustingt the font, text size and color contrast for improved readability.
Co:Writer has access to a main prediction dictionary (that includes core words) and an endless range of Topic Dictionaries (that includes topic specific words). Available today on iTunes, it will be the best $17.99 you’ve spent in a while!
I already have it and absolutely LOVE it.