Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Let your voice be heard! Survey about Job Accommodations

Please share this information with anyone interested in the topic of job accommodations.

Dear Colleague

Research finds that people with and without disabilities request and benefit from workplace accommodations.

What do you think the Return On Investment is for your company’s flexibility? Do you need data to support your workplace flexibility? How do you ensure support for policies and programs that support workers during tough economic times?

Companies need to see data to support their workplace flexibility. The Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University is conducting a study of workplace accommodation policies and practices, the long-term effectiveness of workplace accommodations, and the costs and benefits of accommodations over the long-term.

The benefit of this research is that you will be helping us to assess the costs, benefits, and utility of workplace accommodations and understand what organizational policies, practices, and cultures lead to successful use of accommodations.

If you are a person who has ever asked for an accommodation or for flexibility in your schedule or work situation, we want to hear about your experiences and the costs and benefits of your accommodations!

If you implemented accommodations for your employees – we want to hear from you! We’re compiling data to better estimate the total costs and benefits of workplace flexibility.

Please click on the link below to learn more about the research and participate in the survey.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Back to School Technology: The Best FREE Apps for your Laptop!

We have already set you up with suggestions for a new back to school laptop (see, "Back to School Technology: Laptop Computers" ) and a backpack to put it in (see, "Back to School Technology: Laptop Backpacks "). Well now, we focus on the top FREE applications that should be on that new laptop.

This list of the top 12 must have free applications comes from C/NET.

Happy downloading!

Friday, August 27, 2010

TLC Spotlight - String Switch

TLC Spotlight - String Switch

Activated with just a tug!

This durable switch is designed by Ablenet. It requires less than half an ounce of tension to activate! The switch comes with four strong suction cups for convenient attachment to most surfaces.

This switch is ideal for anyone with limited finger and or hand mobility and those with minimal strength. Takes only a slight pull to activate.

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!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back to School Technology: Laptop Backpacks

OK...last time we spoke about the best laptop computers for back to school (see post, Back to School Technology: Laptop Computers)

This time, thanks to the people at the C/NET Crave Blog, we look at the best Laptop Backpacks out there.


Monday, August 23, 2010

FREE Audio books!

Are you looking for audio books but don't want to spend any money? If so, check out Books Should Be Free

This website has many books available in a variety of genres, including: childrens, fantasy, historical fiction, and even teen/young adult.

Once you find the book you are interested in, follow the link to the book page. There you will find a short summary of the book, an embedded audio player so you can listen to a sample of the book, and the link to either download the book directly into iTunes or download the mp3 files.

Download a book today and try it out! Once you do - leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Technology and New Literacy

With the school year almost upon us - it seemed like a good time to revisit this article from Wired.com, "Clive Thompson on the New Literacy", that talks about a study from Stanford University that focuses on students and their writing abilities. The study analyzed over 14, 000 writing samples from college students. These samples were anything from essays to blog posts to emails.

According to Andrea Lunsford, who organized the study:

"I think we're in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven't seen since Greek civilization."

She feels that technology is hurting the writing ability of students - but instead it is having the opposite effect.

To check out the findings of the study, visit the Stanford Study of Writing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sign Language using a cell phone!

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed MobileASL to enable video of American Sign Language to be sent between cell phones. While this videoconferencing feature is available on some phones now, like the iPhone 4 using FaceTime, it requires LOTS of bandwidth.

This tool will provide video compression to allow the images to be transferred via any wireless carrier, while reducing the need for bandwidth. This is very important as more and more wireless carriers drop their unlimited data plans, instead charging customers for the amount of information they download. The researchers are hoping to be able to implement this tool into any cell phone that has a camera on the same side as the screen.

Check out the video below to see the system in action.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Apple Apps - Bulk Purchases

With all the talk about the iPad and iPod Touch in education we have all become familiar with Apps! It is the Apps that give these devices their true power for our students. Now, Apple is making it easier for schools to implement these tools.

Apple recently launched their Apple App Store Volume Purchase Program. With this program, educational institutions can purchase multiple copies of an App at once. In order to use this program, the school must identify a contact person, called a "Program Facilitator". The school would also purchase Volume Vouchers in denominations of $100, $500, $1000, $5000, $10,000.

Want to know more: Check out the program Frequently Asked Questions here.

I already know the question on most minds - Will there be volume discounts for apps?

According to the web site, volume discounts will be decided on by the App developers, not Apple.

What do you think? Would you use this program? Have you used this program? Post a comment and share your experiences.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Accessible Books for the iPad

With the iPad becoming more embedded into the technology landscape, we are starting to see applications for people with disabilities.

The latest example of an accessible book on the iPad is the "Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy" narrated story book. While the book may meet the needs of some readers simply with the narration, this book also has a sign language interpreter on the screen for individuals who are deaf.

Check out the video below.

The book is available through the iTunes store and the cost is $2.99

Friday, August 13, 2010

TLC Spotlight - Fusion

The Fusion is unlike any portable keyboard you've seen - it's the only portable word processor in it's class that has both Text to Speech and Word Prediction.

The fusion offers: Text to Speech, Word Prediction, Student Organization, Split Screen Spelling/Vocabulary program, Writing prompts, Formatted printouts, Automactic writing checklists,Score Key, Thesaurus, Math 101, and Keyboard Instruction.

Although the Fusion offers dozens of programs and options, you'll find it incredibly easy to use. Functions that students use most frequently like the thesaurus, font size adjustment, and word prediction all have dedicated keys for one-button access. All other options, like cut and paste, disabling spell check or adjusting the word prediction options are easily found in the menu.

What to see the fusion in action? Check out this 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, August 12, 2010

Back to School Technology: Laptop computers

You know when the summer is almost over....advertisements about "Back to School"!

Well...in that tradition, we offer the following link to you:

How much laptop can you get for $799.00?

This post, from C/NET Crave Blog, highlights a group of mid-range laptop computer systems - not bargain basement and not speed demons. These would represent good, solid systems for students returning to school.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Keyboards

QWERTY who? No. It’s not the name of the man who invented the keyboard. That would be Christopher Sholes, Wisconsin senator and newspaper editor. If you’ve ever wondered how the standard keyboard came to be configured the way it is, this article on BBC’s website is for you. And if you’ve ever wondered if the layout of keys is likely to change, it answers that question too.
And if you wanted even more information about keyboards, the first offering in the Related Articles section following the QWERTY piece says research suggests that some keyboards harbor more germs and bacteria that a toilet seat. Ewwwwwww. It also features a few tips for good techno-hygiene.

Monday, August 09, 2010

No Button Bluetooth Headset

Last week, I spent a good chunk of time researching accessible phones for a new consumer I will be working with. I came across a “No Buttons Bluetooth Headset”. Typically, when using a bluetooth headset, the user is required to push a small button on the headset itself to answer or make calls. This can be a very challenging task for someone with limited sensation in their fingers, someone who can not reach the button on the headset, or someone who lacks the strength or dexterity to push the button. With the “No Buttons Headset”, this hurdle is eliminated. There is NO button to press.

So, how does it work? The user tilts his or her head toward a magnet that is on the end of a flexible rod. This comes with the bluetooth headset and can be attached to a wheelchair. It also comes with some small magnets that can be attached to a wrist splint or a pillow. This tilting action activates the headset, and will bring up your phones voice commands.

I haven't actually tried this headset out, but this web page will be bookmarked for the next time it is needed. I'd love to have feedback from anyone who has used this product.

Friday, August 06, 2010

TLC Spotlight - ChatterVox

ChatterVox Portable Voice Amplifier

ChatterVox is a portable voice amplifier, that can boost your volume by as much as 18 decibels.

The amplifier consists of two parts, the base unit which includes the speaker, and the microphone. It works great for someone who speaks with a whisper, the ChatterVox allows that person to speak confidently. Also Any person who makes frequent presentations can benefit from a voice amplifier. There is less strain on the vocal cords and it easier for the speaker to be heard. Teachers, ministers, sales people, coaches and those with impaired voices may all benefit from the voice amplifier.
The Chattervox Deluxe Headset Microphone is very comfortable, light weight, behind the head design with a premium quality microphone for outstanding performance. It is comfortably worn at the front of the waist much like a "fanny pack", with a wovennylon belt that adjusts up to 44" Anover night charge enables the built-inrechargeable power system to provide up to 14 hours of continuous use.

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!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

AIM - National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials

Are you familiar with AIM? If not, then make sure you visit their website. AIM is a resource to state and district level educators, parents, publishers, conversion houses, accessible media producers and others interested in learning more about and implementing AIM and NIMAS (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard) part of IDEA 2004.

This website is an extremely comprehensive resource for information regarding accessible materials, as well as many other things. They even have information specific to each state in the US.

They hold webinars frequently. Missed a webinar? You can look in the archive.

So check it out, and be prepared to learn a lot.