Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Web 2.o Wednesday! vozMe



Would you like to create mp3 audio files of printed text on your computer? How about making audio files from your email so you could listen to your messages? Do you want a free tool for making audio files to provide text to speech support?





Try vozMe.



This free web based tool allows you to copy / paste any text to convert to an mp3 audio file. You can choose between a male and female voice. Once your text is in the box, simply select the male or female voice and click the CREATE MP3 button. A new window will pop up with your mp3 file. You can either listen to the file directly from the website, or right click your mouse and select "Save File As.." which will allow you to save the file to your computer.

Do you want to here an example of the voice? Click here to listen to this blog post.

Try it out and let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How the Grinch Stole Christmas


Today I was listening to NPR and the topic was Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Giesel. The host was having people call in with their favorite Dr. Seuss book. A parent called in and said that she had two sons, both on the Autism Spectrum. She said that they are typically not interested in reading, but that they loved listening to her read, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. She said that she knew they understood the message of the story because of one of her son's actions. He did something nice for another child in his class. She said the teacher gave her son positive feedback for this action. He replied, "My heart grew three sizes."

It made me think about how it is our job as educators to keep exposing our students to literacy and literacy activities. Even if they appear disinterested, you never know when something touches them and they internalize it.

I thought that story was very sweet, so I wanted to share it.

Web 2.0 Wednesday! Blog Poll

Do you want to create a quick poll that you can post either to your website or blog?
Try Blog Poll.

This free service will let you create a simple poll that you can then place onto your own personal website or blog.

How does it work?

Watch the video here.

Simply register for the site, create your question and the possible answers. The website then generates the code that you can embed in your own site and that's it - you are done!


Have you used this service? Let us know what you think. Leave a comment below.

Monday, December 20, 2010

An Amazing and Free Resource


WatchKnow has indexed over 20,000 educational videos, placing them into a directory of over 3,000 categories. The videos are available without any registration or fees to teachers in the classroom and to students at home whenever they want.

From Schoolhouse Rock classics, like How a Bill Becomes a Law and Conjunction Junction to videos culled from YouTube to clips from the History Channel... It's a treasure trove for certain.

Users can dive into the  innovative directory or search for videos by subject and age level. Video titles, descriptions, age level information, and ratings are all edited for usefulness. Our Web site invites broad participation in a new kind of wiki system, guided by teachers.

The site has plans to index over 50,000 more educational videos in the upcoming year. WatchKnow is a program of the non-profit 501(c)(3) Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, and is directed by Dr. Joe Thomas.

It is the hope of the site's creators that students, parents, teachers, librarians, and everyone interested in the education of children will use and help further build this system.

Check it out.

Friday, December 17, 2010

NJ-based Asperger Syndrome Resource


I learned about a new autism resource today and thought I’d share.  ASPEN (Asperger Syndrom Education Network) provides families and individuals whose lives are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders (Asperger Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-NOS, High Functioning Autism), and Nonverbal Learning Disabilities with education, support and advocacy.

The organization is a  501(c)3 non-profit organization with headquarters in Edison, New Jersey and chapters all around the state.  They’ve also got a group specifically for fathers of children with Asperger Syndrome that is featured in a NorthJersey.com article.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday! Startino


We all make lists...right? To do lists, things to remember, the steps of a process. I know personally I make lists on little slips of paper and stick it in my pocket each day. But what happens if that little slip of paper goes through the laundry. Uh Oh!

Why not try Startino?

This web site offers free on line to do lists that are accessible from any Internet enabled device. According to the company's website:

"Startino is a free web-based to-do list. It is designed to be straight-forward, with a simply interface and layout. Therefore, by design, it doesn’t offer any sophisticated features . However, it is quite sufficient for managing one’s daily personal and/or professional tasks. An advantage of Startino is that it incorporates a Google search box, so that if you set up Startino as your browser’s homepage, you will always have your tasks right in front of you."
Why not check it out for yourself? Leave a comment below and tell us about your experience.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

FREE Dynavox Training! January 12, 2011

The Assistive Technology Services department at Advancing Opportunities is proud to announce a FREE Dynavox training on January 12, 2011 at our Ewing, NJ office.

Series 5 Intermediate Training (V, Vmax, EyeMax)
Date: January 12, 2011
Time: 9:00 AM — 3:00 PM
Click HERE for directions to our office.

This training covers many time saving programming techniques using page editor. Participants will learn how to create and modify visual scenes, incorporate the photo album, import real pictures, import music, videos and transfer pages. The intermediate training is meant to build on skills learned in the beginner class.

Each participant or team must bring a DynaVox Series 5 V, Vmax or EyeMax to participate in the class. USB flash drives are also necessary as we will be transferring files and loading real pictures. If you do not have access to a Series 5 device, you may bring a laptop. Series 5 Software can be downloaded from the DynaVox download center http://www.dynavoxtech.com/downloads/default.aspx or loaded on when you arrive the day of the class.

Do you want to attend? Visit the Dyanvox website to register for this workshop

Monday, December 13, 2010

Podcast: Improving Accessibility in Higher Education


This podcast is from the Educause website and focuses on improving accessibility for students with disabilities in higher education.

The speakers on this podcast are:

  • Kara Zirkle, IT Accessibility Coordinator, George Mason University
  • Terrill Thompson, Technology Accessibility Specialist, University of Washington
  • Cyndi Rowland, Director of WebAIM, Utah State University
Click here for the podcast.

Click here for the transcription of the audio.

Enjoy!

Friday, December 10, 2010

My personal experience living life silently

For the past four days, I have been completely silent - not even a peep. Trust me it is not by choice. I have laryngitis. By the order of the doctor, I am not allowed to talk or strain my voice. This is funny because even if I wanted to, nothing comes out! I am very lucky because unlike the thousands of individuals that end up with laryngitis, I have the tools to help me still communicate with others. With that, you would think that I could carry on with life with little interruption.

My experience has been very humbling and frustrating. As an AT person, I encounter hundreds of people that are not able to communicate using their voice for various reasons. My job is to help them communicate or access communication devices. Now as the person that needs a communication system, I am seeing the world in a completely new way. So many opportunities are lost because one cannot communicate effectively. Trying to find alternative ways to have individuals communicate with you is time consuming.

In the past four days, I have found that alternative communication makes my communication partners uncomfortable. From my side of the conversation, I found that people do not feel you are an equal partner in the communication. The conversations are far shorter. Even when I try to expand on what I am saying, I am told, “don’t worry I get it”. GRRRR, I do not care that you can get it, I was not finished talking. People look down at my device rather than my face. I even programmed one of the buttons to say, “Look at me not my device.” It seems people prefer to look at a computer screen rather than a person’s eyes.

I tried to use my communication device to answer a phone call related to an account issue. I preprogrammed a button explaining that I have no voice and that I am using a communication device as my voice. The representative said they could not talk to me because they were not sure whom they were talking to. I answered all the security questions but they still would not assist me because they were not sure whom they were talking with. I emailed the company to explain the situation their email back to me was: For further assistance with your account, please contact us at 866-XXX-XXXX between Sunday to Thursday 8 a.m. - 11 p.m. ET Friday to Saturday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. ET, so that we may discuss what options are available on your account.” Seriously, I just wrote asking for an alternative way to communicate with you - your solution is having me call to talk to a representative. Did we not just establish that phone communication would not work? Therefore, around and around we go. They want me to give permission to someone else to talk for me. I refuse to do this since I have a way of communicating.

Even at the doctor’s office, I found the staff to be inconsiderate and impatient. The nurse was annoyed that she had to wait for my response. She said that she does not have all day. I was not asking you for the whole day - but a minute to type what I want to say would be nice. Just to annoy her a little more I typed slower. :0)
As a patient, I am paying for your time. I deserve to be treated with respect. I am silent because of a temporary condition, so when I get my voice back I will have a lovely conversation about I felt when I was trying to be an active communication partner. My doctor will get a copy of the communication bill of rights. I may send it to every company that I had the displeasure of working with during these five days.

Being non-verbal in a verbal world is scary and frustrating. I have been in the field of special needs for 24 years. I have been empathetic to my students, consumers and friends’ needs. However, you can never understand what an individual deals with until you walk in their shoes. I can say that I still do not completely understand because I can communicate in ways that others may not. I have access to manual writing; I can play charades, use gestures and facial expressions. I have the ability to sign which for the most part is not functional unless you have a communication partner that understands sign language. I have the ability to text message, write emails and well as instant message with individuals that have the tools. Still with all the ways that I can communicate, I am left feeling like an inconvenience.

The scary part of not being able to communicate verbally is that if something happens I have no way of calling for assistance. The other day my father fell outside. I heard a big bang and ran to check what it was. My father was lying on the ground and there was blood coming out of his hand and head. I could not ask the questions that I needed to know if he was OK. I could not tell him not to stand up. I do not typically panic when there is an injury. However, at that moment I was panicked because I had no way to communicate with him. My father is OK. Just a bad scrape on his head and a minor cut on his hand. Being on blood thinners caused much more blood than a typical. However, if I needed to call for assistance the best I would have been able to do is call 911 – push buttons on the phone – hang up, call back, and hang up again. The police department would have responded to see what is going on. I am honestly not thrilled with that as a solution it causes way too much panic and it is not an appropriate solution.

As I sit here typing this, I know I am blessed. Once I had a chance to calm down and think, I realized I could have texted my cousin who is the Chief of the Fire Department in the town and one of my friends is the police dispatcher so I could have gotten help if I was able to think in that moment of panic. However, when you are used to communicating in one method and you do not have that method you realize that you are vulnerable.

There is humor in me not being able to talk. My family says they have had a vacation from my chatter. However, they are already losing their patience with me. They are tired of reading notes, asking yes/no questions and playing charades. It is interesting to see that my family now thinks they need to talk louder and slower because I cannot speak. Just to confirm I have laryngitis. My hearing is still great. The ear tubes are fine. The vocal pipes are under maintenance.

I am finding that being non-verbal is extremely tiring. You have to plan the conversation out. You have to make sure your partner understands that this will be a slow process and you pray that they don’t deviate from your pre-programmed buttons because otherwise you have to type things out which will take even more time. For example, I wanted a vanilla milk shake. You would think that is easy request. Seriously, it took me 10 minutes to order a milk shake. Do you want that thick like a malt or thinner? Do you want a small, medium, large or extra large size? Do you want a drizzle of this flavoring or coloring. I am all for giving choices but all I want is a milk shake. I felt like I was in a Dr. Seuss book.

So the saga continues. I know I am having a difficult time with being non-verbal. The verbal world does not slow down just because I am slower in my communication method. I am stressed because I cannot complete the things that I should be able to do. I am irritated much quicker when people do not understand what I am saying even when I feel I was very clear in my expression. I feel isolated in ways. My fast wit and dry humor just does not read as well as it would be received verbally.

This experience has left me with many things to consider. It has renewed my passion to make sure that individuals have the right to communicate and are given respect. It has shown me that just because you have a voice output device does not mean communicating with others is less stressful. I actually found it more stressful because of the non-verbal communication or verbal communication given by my communication partner. It has helped me to experience the many ways my friends, consumers and students struggle with when they are trying to communicate with the verbal world. I have learned that language is fleeting. I have learned that although it is fleeting, the emotion is left there hanging.

I thought I had empathy prior to this experience but this experience has shown me that one’s feeling of empathy doesn’t even come close to understanding the frustration, sadness and the loss of self one feels when you cannot verbally communicate the way you used to. I know I will get my voice back once the laryngitis is gone. However, this experience will live with me forever.

TLC Spotlight - Lightwriter SL40


The Lightwriter SL40



The Lightwriter SL40 is a small, powerful communication device for those needing voice output.   The SL40 quickly and clearly converts text to high quality Acapela speech, sends and receives text messages (SMS), stores notes and contacts, acts as a remote control and more, all in a lightweight and durable device.

The Lightwriter has dual display In addition to the user display, there is a high-resolution, large print, forward facing display allows listeners to read messages from the individual typing. The readable display allows communication in noisy environments and when silence is important. 

The Lightwriter SL40 also comes with word prediction,Word prediction makes communication faster and more efficient.

Another great feture is the built in environmental control .  The built in infrared of the Lightwriter® SL40 can be programmed to control appliances, toys and some home control systems.

The keyboard on the SL40 has adaptable keyboard sensitivity. It is equipped with three changeable key guards of different depths, which increases ease of use and typing accuracy. The layout can easily be changed to different QWERTY and ABC formats.


What do you think? Do you want to TRY IT before you BUY IT? Then join our Technology Lending Center. Click here to join today!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

10 Tips for OneNote Organization


Do you use Microsoft OneNote? It is a powerful tool to assist with organization. Never heard of OneNote? According to the Microsoft Website

“Many of us carry a notebook or notepad around to take notes for business, school, or personal projects. But can you easily find — and decipher — the info you need? Is it convenient to share your notes with others? Take control with Microsoft Office OneNote 2007, the easy-to-use note-taking and information-management program where you can capture ideas and information in electronic form. Insert files or Web content in full-color, searchable format or as icons that you can click to access. Watch this demo to see how simple it is to gather, format, organize, and share information. And then say goodbye to your notepad!”

Kathy Jacobs posted a very informative list of 10 tips for OneNote organization to the Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) Award Program Blog. Here is her list of the 10 tips.

1. Create the notebooks you need as well as the ones you think you might need.
2. Create your notebooks where you are most likely to need them.
3. Set your default notebook location in OneNote to the network folder where you store your notebooks.
4. Organize your notes the way you think.
5. Move your note pages to where they belong.
6. Tag your notes intelligently.
7. Organize your tags.
8. Remember that even if you can't find a note, OneNote can.
9. Title your pages for future reference.
10. Link your notes. To each other. To other documents. To the web.

Do you want to read the entire blog post? Check it out here

Do you have some other helpful tips for using OneNote for organization? Leave a comment below and share your expertise.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday! Universal Subtitles

With on line video clips playing such an important role in education, work and home - we need to make the best effort to ensure that our videos are accessible to all users. Not all on-line videos are captioned. Well..try Universal Subtitles and make all your videos accessible!

There is no software to download. Simply type in the URL for the video and then follow the steps to caption / subtitle the clip. Once you are finished, viewers can select to show the captions and even have the ability to see different languages!



Want to see an example? Check out this subtitled version of the video clip for the Dave Matthews Band song "Ants Marching" from the company website.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Place to Read, Write, Connect

Looking for an exciting way to get kids (over 13) interested in books and writing?  The brand spankin’ new website Figment launched this week and it offers young writers and readers a community where they can express themselves, share ideas and discover what’s new on the literary front.

Figment features exclusive excerpts from new books, interviews with authors, contests and blogs (one from the Book Muncher).  The site, which was founded by a staff writer and former managing editor from The New Yorker, has a very youthful feel to it. The FAQ and Guidelines for participation are written in a way most teens would understand.

Check it out. It’s free to join.

Friday, December 03, 2010

TLC Spotlight - Go Talk Boards


You don’t have to spend a fortune for a great communication device.
Go Talks...

The Go talk series by Attainment Company comes in many varieties here are a few... 

GoTalk 20+ features 100-message capacity, GoTalk 9+ includes nine minutes of recording memory with a 45 message capacity, GoTalk 4+ includes a total of 4 1/2 minutes of recording time with a 22-message capacity.  The GoTalk Pocket features six message buttons with built-in key-guard and built-in overlay storage. Includes five recording levels with 10 seconds of recording time on all 30 messages.  


The GoTalk offers multiple levels for recorded messages. This means that you can easily change communication boards. Communication boards can be created for various situations.  Each level can be locked to prevent accidental erasure. Recording and re-recording speech is very simple. The GoTalk is an ideal tool for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). 
 
 

check out the video...



What do you think? Do you want to TRY IT before you BUY IT? Then join our Technology Lending Center. Click here to join today!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday! Diagramo

Do you want an easy way to create and share diagrams via the web? Try Diagramo.

Some of the features described on the website include:

Rich HTML 5 interface (no flash)
Diagramo allows you to easily create, edit and share diagrams providing a similar user experience as regular desktop applications

No software required to view the diagrams
One of the main advatages of our web-based editor is that you can share your works with anyone and they don't need to purchase or install any software

Lifetime availability for your diagrams
You'll have permanent access to all the diagrams and graphs that were created using Diagramo

No browser plugin required
You do not need to install any browser plugin or extension in order to use Diagramo

Wide range of possible uses
You can use Diagramo to create organization charts, diagrams, network architecture diagrams, graphs, landscape designs

Try it out and leave us a comment below.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday! hooeey webprint

We all bookmark pages in our web browser, right? Then we end up with a long list of web page titles that we need to search through for information. Do you want to keep a library of web pages you have visited on your computer along with the ability to search the text on those pages?

Well then - try hooeey webprint!

Just download the FREE desktop application and, according to the website:

"Every web page you visit is captured in real time as a screenshot and as searchable full text and archived on your own computer. You can easily store, search, tag and share web pages that you have visited. Even if you delete or erase your browsing history, you will not lose these web pages."

Try it out and leave a comment below

Monday, November 22, 2010

Great K-12 Resources- Florida

There are some great resources out there. Florida has 5 regional centers providing support to districts (training, technical assistance, equipment loan), as well as creating print and web resources such as their "ENT" booklet. Here is their description:


"Exploring New Territories" (ENT) is a free resource from the Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources System (FDLRS). The ENT booklet provides a comprehensive overview of technology for students with disabilities, including assistive technology, instructional technology, universal design for learning, accessible instructional materials, and virtual/online learning environments. Teachers and therapist will find a wealth of information, resources, and classroom activities to use."


The digital version is available at http://www.fdlrs.com/docs/ent2010web.pdf



Friday, November 19, 2010

Assistive Technology Consideration

What does the term "AT Consideration" mean? I tell you what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean checking a box on a student's IEP that asks, "Has AT been considered for this student?" when the team has not gone through the Consideration Process.

There are 16 performance areas to be considered in this process. Performance Areas are categories, established through best practices,in which measurable tasks can be identified AND which may require some form of accommodation, modification and/or AT to enable the student to perform at their highest level.

The categories are:
Spelling
Communication
Compose Written Material
Hearing
Mechanics of Writing
Computer Access
Seating, Positioning and Mobility
Listening/Attending
Calculation
Recreation and Leisure
Reading
Activities of Daily Living
Reading
Transition to Adult Life
Student and Organization Skills
Behavior

The Resource Tool for Considering Assistive Technology or RTACT(since everything we do has to have an acronym) is an EXTREMELY useful tool developed by the New Jersey Department of Education Office of Special Education to guide teams through the consideration process.
This tool examines each Performance Area. It details sample tasks that may be difficult for a student. It lists potentional modifications or accomidations that could be implemented to support the student in completing a task that they have difficulty completing. Then it lists potential AT solutions to trial if the previous modifications were unsuccessful.

Take a look at this tool and share it with collegues. For additional information on the AT Consideration Process, please check out the State Parent Advocacy Network's website.

If you have used the RTCAT in the Consideration Process, please leave a comment and tell us how it has supported you and your team. We love comments.....

APP Throwdown! Reminders

Are you looking for the best reminder app for either your DROID or iPhone smartphone? Check out the links below from Gizmodo.

Best Android APPS for Reminders
The winner: MyReminders - $1.00


Best iOS APPS for Reminders

The winner: 2Do, $7.00, APP Store


Have you used these? Do you have a personal favorite? Leave a comment and let us know.

TLC Spotlight - Switch adapted toys

Look who's here, just in time for Thanksgiving. 

Trudie the Turkey!!

Trudie is a switch adapted toy that is so much fun to play with. Press the switch to make Trudie play the "Chicken Dance". Her feet move in and out and she bobs her head in time with the music. Use any standard 3.5mm switch (not included). Pressing her wing also turns her on and off. Height: 25 cm. Have lots of fun with Trudie, Gobble Gobble...



Check out Trudie in action..


Trudy is just one of the special toys we have in the TLC.

What do you think? Do you want to TRY IT before you BUY IT? Then join our Technology Lending Center. Click here to join today!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday! OCRconvert

Are you having a hard time converting electronic documents (pdf, jpg, etc.) into editable text?? Why not try OCRconvert ?

According to the website,"OCRconvert.com is a free online OCR service that allows you to convert PDF to Word, JPEG to Word and scanned images into editable documents. Simply upload your file and our server side program will process your file for any editable text and will send the results back to you, which you can either download the processed text in for of word document or copy & past online."

I tried it out with a pdf file and it worked very well! I was surprised at the accuracy. Give it a try and leave a comment below to let us know how it goes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Podcast: Accessing Web 2.0 Tools with Assistive Technology: Providing Opportunities for All Learners


This is one in a series of podcasts recorded live at the Texas Assistive Technology Network (TATN) Statewide conference this past June. These podcasts feature nationally known speakers talking about a wide range of topics related to assistive technology.

This episode features Dave Hohulin and the title of the podcast is "Accessing Web 2.0 Tools with Assistive Technology: Providing Opportunities for All Learners.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast.

Click HERE for the interview transcription.

Do YOU have an idea for a future podcast? Leave a comment with your suggestion for either a speaker or a topic. We will work to honor those requests in future podcasts.

Happy Listening!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

iPad in the NY Times

This article has been going around and I wanted to post it here. It is a great story about a student with a disability using the iPad. Feel free to forward it if you would like. Oh the possibilities with the iPad. Enjoy.

Web 2.0 Wednesday: You Tube Droid!

Have you found something on You Tube that would be beneficial for your students? Would you like to have just the audio part of the video so students could listen on their mp3 player?

Check out You Tube Droid!


Simply find the video on You Tube that you would like the audio from and copy the URL.

Now go to You Tube Droid and paste the URL into the conversion box. Select the quality of mp3 you would like (Standard Quality or High Quality) and click CONVERT.

The conversion happens right on the webpage and you are provided a link to your file. Simply right click on the file and save to a location on your computer.

Try it out and let us know what you think. Leave a comment below.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

FREE Clicker Presentation! November 16, 2010

FREE Training session – Clicker from Crick Software


When: Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Where: Advancing Opportunities, 1005 Whitehead Rd Ext, Ewing, NJ 08638 (For directions, visit our website)
Time: 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Presenter: Deborah Yergeau

SPACE IS LIMITED – email today to reserve your spot.
mmarotta@advopps.org


The use of technology can encourage even the most reluctant readers and writers in your classroom, but some students need more than encouragement to achieve literacy success. This session will focus on how Clicker creates more independent and engaged readers and writers.

Participants will explore Clicker’s multimedia features, which enable teachers and students to create and use interactive teaching and learning materials such as animated sentence building activities, electronic books, and ‘hot spot’ environments. These resources can include text, images, sounds, and video, and the use of pop-up grids allows all users to add their own recorded sounds and narrations. Students can build sentences through word sequencing, or use more complex writing frames to scaffold extended writing. At all levels, students are supported by realistic speech, enabling them not only to hear what they have written, but also to listen to words before they select them.

As well as the highly detailed educational picture collection that comes with Clicker, teachers and students can use their own pictures or other ready-made picture libraries. Words can also be brought to life with the Clicker Animations library. The animated pictures greatly enhance reading comprehension activities for struggling students and English language learners.

From basic word order and sentence structure to extended writing, session participants will discover how Clicker addresses Universal Design for Learning principles to provide reading and writing support for all students. Clicker activities support a variety of learning styles, particularly benefiting audio/visual learners, and are also highly motivating for students with a range of differing educational needs. This session will demonstrate how easy it is to create activities that develop strong literacy skills across the curriculum for the diverse learners in today’s inclusive classrooms.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Podcast: It’s All About Independent Functioning! Using Technology to Develop Critical Life-Skills for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder


This is one in a series of podcasts recorded live at the Texas Assistive Technology Network (TATN) Statewide conference this past June. These podcasts feature nationally known speakers talking about a wide range of topics related to assistive technology.

This episode features Susan Stokes and the title of the podcast is "It’s All About Independent Functioning! Using Technology to Develop Critical Life-Skills for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder".

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast.

Click HERE for the interview transcription.

Do YOU have an idea for a future podcast? Leave a comment with your suggestion for either a speaker or a topic. We will work to honor those requests in future podcasts.

Happy Listening!

Friday, November 05, 2010

TLC Spotlight - Helloset Amplifier w/ ultralight single headset


Helloset Amplifier w/ ultralight single headset
With both hands free, now you can take notes, check files, even access your computer while you’re on the phone -– without getting neck and shoulder cramps from scrunching your handset between your ear and shoulder. Because your HelloSet simply replaces your handset, not the entire phone, you’ll continue to place and receive calls using your telephone without the need for you to lift the handset. Simply press a button to start and end your calls, or to answer them.
HelloSet is compatible with over 99% of all telephones.

What do you think? Do you want to TRY IT before you BUY IT? Then join our Technology Lending Center. Click here to join today!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday: PDFUnlock!

Have you ever gotten a PDF file from someone and when you opened it, you realized it was locked and you were unable to manipulate any of the information?

Well.. check out PDFUnlock!

According to the website:

PDF files can have restrictions that prevent you from for example copying text from them or editing, printing or merging them. PDFUnlock! can remove these restrictions (a.k.a "owner password").

Simply visit their website and select the BROWSE button to locate the file on your system.

The website will analyze your file and unlock any restrictions. The maximum file size is 10MB.

Try it and let us know what you think - leave a comment below.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Podcast: Be a Mr. Wizard: Assistive Technology Supports in Science


This is one in a series of podcasts recorded live at the Texas Assistive Technology Network (TATN) Statewide conference this past June. These podcasts feature nationally known speakers talking about a wide range of topics related to assistive technology.

This episode features Kelly Fonner and the title of the podcast is "Be a Mr. Wizard: Assistive Technology Supports in Science".

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast.

Click HERE for the interview transcription.

Do YOU have an idea for a future podcast? Leave a comment with your suggestion for either a speaker or a topic. We will work to honor those requests in future podcasts.

Happy Listening!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Super Sensitive Switch in Action

Deedee is three years old and, like most children her age, she likes to play.  Deedee has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, an illness that has robbed her of muscle control and the ability to move her arms and legs or hold up her head. But she still likes to play.

Deedee is able to move her eyebrows and her eyes and she can move her fingers and toes a little bit.  And a little bit is all it takes to control some switches.  Deedee started out using the MicroLight very successfully. But after a hospital stay last February, Deedee’s strength was quite diminished.  Now she uses a Sensor switch, which responds to the lightest of touches.  With it, Deedee can activate her Buzz Lightyear Bubblemaker and play computer games.  The Sensor switch allows Deedee to be in control and to play on her own.

Deedee’s family has been able to borrow a wide variety of switches and equipment from Advancing Opportunities’ Technology Lending Center.  They can test and try switches to be sure Deedee will be able to use them.

Deedee’s mom, Vivian, says, “Through the TLC, Deedee has been able to test diverse items and see which are fit for her needs and which are not viable. Right now we cannot afford to actually buy equipment, so we are very grateful for the TLC’s excellent services. Our family sees a very caring staff that goes through great lengths to help our kids. Thanks for all you do, TLC!”

To see a video of Deedee in action, visit her blog here.

TLC Spotlight - Watchminder2

Did I take my medication today?   Need a reminder?

The WatchMinder2 is a programmable vibrating reminder watch that looks like a standard sports wristwatch - the watch vibrates and a reminder message discreetly appears!




The WatchMinder2 uses a vibration system (similar to that of the common pager) that is easy to feel and privately alerts the person to do a particular task. The watch also has a beeping alert.  The watch is easy to program, the screen is large and easy to read by persons of all ages, and all of the 60 messages have been pre-programmed in the memory of the watch. The WatchMinder2 can be programmed with personalized messages.  The WatchMinder2 has two modes, the reminder mode and the training mode. Both modes can be operational at the same time. The watch has 30 daily alarms. Reminders can repeat daily or can be scheduled for the future dates and times.

What do you think? Do you want to TRY IT before you BUY IT? Then join our Technology Lending Center. Click here to join today!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Best note taking app for your smartphone??



Your smartphone is with you all the time, right? Why not take notes directly onto your phone. But which one is best for the iPhone? how about DROID?

Check out this link from Gizmodo. This "APPBATTLE" looks at the top three note taking apps for each smartphone operating system.

Do you use one of these? Do you have a different app you use? Leave a comment below and share.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday! List Maker

Do you need a simple way to be reminded of tasks? Try List Maker.


This free web based service will allow you to create lists of reminders and group those under various headings. In addition, you can color code your tasks for visual cues. Check the box when you are done with a task and it moves to the "done" group. The website also provides real time status reports on the number of tasks that need attention.

Try it out and leave us a comment to share your experience.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Podcast: Using Assessment to Guide Intervention: The AAC Profile – A Continuum of Learning


This is one in a series of podcasts recorded live at the Texas Assistive Technology Network (TATN) Statewide conference this past June. These podcasts feature nationally known speakers talking about a wide range of topics related to assistive technology.

This episode features Tracy Kovach and the title of the podcast is "Using Assessment to Guide Intervention: The AAC Profile – A Continuum of Learning."

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast.

Click HERE for the interview transcription.

Do YOU have an idea for a future podcast? Leave a comment with your suggestion for either a speaker or a topic. We will work to honor those requests in future podcasts.

Happy Listening!

Friday, October 22, 2010

TLC Spotlight -Tobii S32 Scan

The Tobii32 is an Augmentative Communication (AAC) device that plays pre-recorded messages.

The Tobii S32 is available in two different models, Touch and Scan.   The Tobii S32 Touch is targeted specifically towards individuals who have the use of their hands.  The Tobii S32 Scan is a switch/scan model, made for individuals who have difficulty using their hands, who instead use switches to make their choice in the grids or scenes.  

A recording time of over 60 hours, on 192 levels, in full quality.  It is built for an active lifestyle; the S32 is lightweight and durable, designed to withstand the sometimes rough treatment children can give a device.   Fully integrated with Tobii SymbolMate.
See the Tobii S32 in action.
 



What do you think? Do you want to TRY IT before you BUY IT? Then join our Technology Lending Center. Click here to join today!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday! Internet Favorites

Do you want a simple solution for saving internet favorites? Do you want to access these stored favorites from any computer? Check out Internet Favorites.

This free service allows you to store favorite websites with just one click. A button is added to your browser that lets you save websites quickly and easily. Your favorites are stored on a website that you can access from any computer. This service also has a built in search engine that will allow you to search through all your stored favorites to find the one you want in seconds.

Try it out and let us know what you think. Post a comment and tell us about your experience.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Podcast: AT and AI: Supporting Speech, Language, and Communication

This is one in a series of podcasts recorded live at the Texas Assistive Technology Network (TATN) Statewide conference this past June. These podcasts feature nationally known speakers talking about a wide range of topics related to assistive technology.

This episode features Jim Durkel and the title of the podcast is: AT and AI: Supporting Speech, Language, and Communication.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast.

Click HERE for the interview transcription.

Do YOU have an idea for a future podcast? Leave a comment with your suggestion for either a speaker or a topic. We will work to honor those requests in future podcasts.

Happy Listening!

Friday, October 15, 2010

TLC Spotlight - Mongo the Gorilla Switch Adapted Toy

He dropped in just in time for some Halloween fun,  Mongo the Gorilla.  


Mongo the gorilla is a switch adapted toy specially adapted to the needs of young children who use switches to play with their toys.  He is so soft and cuddley too. 
Pressing a switch makes Mongo sing "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands". His mouth moves and he claps his hands in time with the music. Any standard (3.5mm) switch can be connected. Pressing the switch in his foot also turns him on and off.  You can have lots of fun with Mongo check out the video. 


What do you think? Do you want to TRY IT before you BUY IT? Then join our Technology Lending Center. Click here to join today!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

First Presidential Appointee with Autism


Ari Ne'eman was recently appointed to the President's National Council on Disability. He is the first White House appointee with Autism. His first interview was conducted with Wired magazine.

Click HERE to read the interview.

Ari is part of the President's National Council on Disability (NCD), a panel that advises the President and Congress on ways of reforming health care, schools, support services and employment policy to make society more equitable for people with all forms of disability.

Very inspiring young man. Too bad the article - or the comments after the article - didn't promote "people first" language when speaking about an individual with a disability. For more information about people first language, check out this 4 page PDF file from Kathie Snow at www.disabilityisnatural.com



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday! Tagxedo

We all know about Wordle and it's ability to create word clouds out of your text.

Now comes the "next generation" of word clouds. Check out Tagxedo!

According to the website, "Tagxedo turns words -- famous speeches, news articles, slogans and themes, even your love letters -- into a visually stunning tag cloud, words individually sized appropriately to highlight the frequencies of occurrence within the body of text."
Your text can come from anywhere - your personal writing, web sites, your Delicious links, an RSS feed. This word cloud can then be presented in a picture shape. The website also give choices on how to save the word cloud (jpg) and size (thumbnail size to much larger).

Do you want some more ideas about how to use this in the classroom? Click HERE for a slide presentation on 101 Ways to Use Tagxedo.

Check the picture below for an example of a Tagxedo word cloud (in the shape of an apple!) of the text from this blog post.
Have you used this tool? Leave a comment and share your insight.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Presentation: Reaching the Digital Immigrants

This morning I presented at the NJAET conference (The New Jersey Association for Education Technology)

Great conference - great sessions! Go to this LINK to view a PDF file of all the session descriptions. The helpful thing about this PDF is that each presenter's email address is listed next to the session title. I am sure they would be happy to email you a copy of their information.

I presented a session titled "Reaching the Digital Immigrants" which was an expanded version of a presentation I delivered at ATIA Orlando this past January with Kirk Behnke (from ESC4 in Houston TX). Thanks to everyone in the session for all your great ideas.

Do you want the handout? Check out the WIKI HERE.

I would strongly encourage everyone to attend this conference next year if you are interested in Educational Technology.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Podcast: Web 2.0 in the Classroom - Ways to Excite and Engage Your Students

This is one in a series of podcasts recorded live at the Texas Assistive Technology Network (TATN) Statewide conference this past June. These podcasts feature nationally known speakers talking about a wide range of topics related to assistive technology.

This episode features Dave Hohulin and the title of the podcast is: Web 2.0 in the Classroom - Ways to Excite and Engage Your Students.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast.

Click HERE for the interview transcription.

Do YOU have an idea for a future podcast? Leave a comment with your suggestion for either a speaker or a topic. We will work to honor those requests in future podcasts.

Happy Listening!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday! Bender Converter

We have highlighted some other on line video converters before - but here is one more!

Bender Converter - http://benderconverter.com

This site will convert any online video from the following sources: youtube.com, dailymotion.com, megavideo.com, vimeo.com, twitvid.com, veoh.com, video.google.com, blip.tv, break.com, kontraband.com, facebook.com, livevideo.com (liveshows not supported), liveleak.com, stagevu.com.

Output files can be anything from .mp3 to .avi, .mov, .mp4 or a whole host of choices.

The nice feature of this site is that the conversion happens right there on the website. Once the conversion is finished - a download button appears to allow you to save the file immediately to your computer. No email address or registration required. Also, unlike some other sites, there is no mention of a daily limit for downloads (some of the other sites limit you to 100MB per day/per email)

Check it out and start saving some of those videos for off-line viewing. Have you tried this? Do you have another resource? Leave a comment.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

How to project to an external monitor from your iPad

The iPad is a powerful device that is virtually unlimited in its application. There's an APP for that - never has a statement been so true!

But what about the other aspect of this tool for presenters - using this tool for professional development activities. Out of the box, the iPad does not connect to an external monitor and project all APPS. There are some APPS that can be sent through the Dock Connector to VGA Adapter (available separately for $29.00) to project onto an external projector - such as Keynote.

That's fine if you want to show a presentation. But what if you want to display your iPad's screen to show the steps of using an APP. Out of the box - there is not way to do that. The only solution for this is to jailbreak your iPad.

Now I know some of you started to panic at the mention of Jailbreaking your device! Don't panic - it is an easy process that does not negatively impact your iPad. Even better - one of the first steps of the process is to back up all your data to iTunes. That way if it all goes wrong - or you need to restore your device to the factory settings - you can simply connect it to iTunes and select Restore.

Check out this video from C/NET which does a great job of walking you through the steps of this process. The external monitor APP isn't free (it costs $2.99) but very reasonably priced.




Pretty straightforward - right? I followed this process with our iPad and it worked perfectly. Now I am able to incorporate my iPad into my presentations and show my screen to an audience.

Have you Jail-broken your iPad? Do you have another strategy for using your iPad for professional development? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Podcast: Challenging Behaviors Communicate! Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder to be Functional Communicators Through Technology

This is one in a series of podcasts recorded live at the Texas Assistive Technology Network (TATN) Statewide conference this past June. These podcasts feature nationally known speakers talking about a wide range of topics related to assistive technology.

This episode features Susan Stokes and the title of the podcast is: Challenging Behaviors Communicate! Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder to be Functional Communicators Through Technology.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast.

Click HERE for the interview transcription.

Do YOU have an idea for a future podcast? Leave a comment with your suggestion for either a speaker or a topic. We will work to honor those requests in future podcasts.

Happy Listening!

Friday, October 01, 2010

TLC Spotlight - SAM Joystick

SAM-Joystick
SAM stands for, Switch-Adapted Mouse device.
The SAM joystick is a simple mouse alternative. This joystick allows the user to control a computer cursor.

SAM Switch Adapted Mouse Joystick has a click, double click, and drag switch inputs.  Switch inputs to perform the button actions by switches.  When you push the stick, the cursor does not go flying, no matter what the user does.

What do you think? Do you want to TRY IT before you BUY IT? Then join our Technology Lending Center. Click here to join today!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday: Typing Web

Visit this website for free on line typing tutorials. Great for any age and ability level.

Typing Web

For educators, the site also has a Teacher Portal.

According to the website:

TypingWeb's proven typing curriculum, combined with the ability to manage, grade, and report on your students.

  • Absolutely, 100%, FREE
  • Grade and track progress and improvement.
  • Create & manage your student roster.
  • TypingWeb's full, engaging typing curriculum.
  • Save your school tons of money!
  • Perfect for schools, companies, & parents.
Have you used this site? Leave a comment and tell us about your experience.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Digital Book Report

Here is an exciting way to encourage students to read a book and interpret it: Alan Sitimer’s Digital Book Report Contest.

Have your students pick their favorite book or a book from your lesson plan and create a song, performance, or debate. Tell them to crack open their creativity and use music, props, and costumes! But make sure that it covers the core standards.
Entries must be in by October 28.

Winners will receive a portion of $20,000 in prizes and, of course, bragging rights.

Alan Sitomer, creator of BookJam, was named California’s 2007 Teacher of the Year. He is also the author of many books that engage young adult readers.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Podcast: A Universal Design for Learning Approach to RtI

This is one in a series of podcasts recorded live at the Texas Assistive Technology Network (TATN) Statewide conference this past June. These podcasts feature nationally known speakers talking about a wide range of topics related to assistive technology.

This episode features Kelly Fonner and the title of the podcast is: A Universal Design for Learning Approach to RtI.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast.

Click HERE for the interview transcription.

Do YOU have an idea for a future podcast? Leave a comment with your suggestion for either a speaker or a topic. We will work to honor those requests in future podcasts.

Happy Listening!

Friday, September 24, 2010

TLC Spotlight - LapDawg Pug

Whats new in the TLC...




The LapDawg Pug - The LapDawg Pug is designed to hold your laptop just like a mini-table for your bed, chair, or couch. Features: Built in silent USB powered cooling fan, right and left felted mouse pad areas, adjustable laptop viewing angles up to 40 degres and 3 adjustable height levels. The LapDawg Pug, protects your body from the heat of your laptop, promotes healthier ergonomic postures, removes the wait of your laptop from your lap, reduces neck and lower back stress. Check out the video.

What do you think? Do you want to TRY IT before you BUY IT? Then join our Technology Lending Center. Click here to join today!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Do you want to organize your paper and digital files?

How many of us wish we could be more organized? OK...put your hands down and check this new USB thumb drive from Verbatim.



Called the Clip It USB drive - this memory drive is available in either 2GB or 4GB memory. The design feature that makes this USB drive so unique is that it is not only a USB drive but it is a paper clip too!

Even with the increase in digital files - we all still have paper files to keep track of. This type of support will allow anyone with organizational issues to keep paper files and digital files in the same place. No more searching for the digital file that corresponds to a piece of paper or vice versa. The available color coding could be an additional support for remembering where information is.

What do you think? Will this device help people with organizational issues? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Video: The Case Against AT

Here is a great video that is worth sharing.





Please feel free to share with others.

Web 2.0 Wednesday: Busy Teacher

For this week's web resource, we will highlight a website that offers teachers free, printable worksheets.

Check out Busy Teacher!

There are thousands of free worksheets available at the site, sorted into the following categories:
  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Writing
  • Pronunciation
  • Teaching Ideas
Visit the website and look around. Did you find something useful? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Podcast: “First Steps” for Families Implementing AAC Systems -A Model Program


This is one in a series of podcasts recorded live at the Texas Assistive Technology Network (TATN) Statewide conference this past June. These podcasts feature nationally known speakers talking about a wide range of topics related to assistive technology.

This episode features Tracy Kovach and the title of the podcast is “First Steps” for Families Implementing AAC Systems: A Model Program.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast.

Click HERE for the interview transcription.

Do YOU have an idea for a future podcast? Leave a comment with your suggestion for either a speaker or a topic. We will work to honor those requests in future podcasts.

Happy Listening!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Voki in the Classroom


Get a Voki now!

TLC Spotlight - iPazzPort Handheld Keyboard

What's New in the TLC...

iPazzPort Bluetooth handheld keyboard and Mouse Touchpad.

This portable Hand Held Keyboard comes with a tiny QWERTY keypad allowing you to transmit keystrokes to your computer from up to 30-feet away via a 2.4GHz radio frequency. You can even use this in the dark, it has a built in back light feature! This is great for someone in need of a compact keyboard with high expectations. The 2.8-inch wireless touch pad can control your computer cursor from across the room. Now you can have your Keyboard with you at all times.



This Keyboard with built in Touch pad is great for one handed typist who need all the keys close and easy to use, now with the built in touch pad it gives you everything at your fingertip in a very small area. Don't struggle to type on a Mini Keyboard or even a one handed Keyboard. This Keyboard has everything you need in a Wireless Hand held devices that can be taken anywhere.



Features: Wireless remote control of your PC - Enhances Internet TVviewing with Remote Control ”just like your TV remote control” - Adds a professional lecturing and teaching tool to presentations - Convenient sizee. Plug and play. Backlit keyboard for convenient operation in darkened room - large PAD for handwrite.


What do you think? Do you want to TRY IT before you BUY IT? Then join our Technology Lending Center. Click here to join today!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday: Simplenote!

Are you looking for a way to organize your notes? Do you want to have your notes available to you everywhere you go? Then check out Simplenote!

From the website, here are 10 reasons to use Simplenote:

  1. Access your notes anywhere:Your notes synchronize with your mobile device, your computer, and any modern web browser. It's automatic and secure.
  2. Sharing and Publishing: Keep a shared grocery list with your family or housemates. Or publish some notes from your class or meeting.
  3. Go Back in Time: You can access multiple backups of your notes. Just drag the version slider to go back in time.
  4. Organize Using Tags and Pins: Apply tags to your notes so you can browse them as folders, or pin important notes to the top of your list.
  5. Instantly Search Your Notes: Type whatever you're looking for, and your list updates instantly. You'll never misplace an important thought again.
  6. Enjoy Plenty of Space: There's lots of free storage for your notes.
  7. Use a Growing Variety of Extras: Simplenote is an open platform. People are building lots of cool things you can use to extend your experience.
  8. Excellent Ads: We've partnered with the amazing Fusion Network to bring you minimal, relevant ads..... Premium subscribers have the option to disable them.
  9. Secure Transfers: Your notes are encrypted when they synchronize. Don't settle for anything less.
  10. It's FREE: Completely!
Visit the website and check it out. Have you used this tool already? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

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