Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Glucose Tester for Children

When you are a diabetic, there are specific things you need to do everyday either once a day or many times a day. The one thing diabetics have to do is check their glucose levels this is a task that you know has to be done but you do not look forward it. It does not really hurt but who wants to stick themselves with a needle place it on a little strip and wait for the magic numbers to appear so you know how to proceed with your meal. Not as motivating as one would think after the first 100 sticks. Bayer has come out made testing your blood more “Fun”. Bayer and Nintendo teamed up to design the DIDGET, which connect directly to Nintendo DS and DS lite gaming systems.

The game is designed to encourage individuals (marketed toward kids) to be consistent about testing and meeting their personalized glucose target ranges. The device is not covered by insurance however the testing supplies would be (if your insurance covers them) because the machine uses the same strips as other Bayer devices.

From the press release:

Bayer's DIDGET meter is intended for use by kids ages 4-14 and grows with the child's ability to manage their diabetes, offering two testing levels, Basic and Advanced. It comes with Knock 'Em Downs™: World's Fair that includes a full length adventure game and mini game arcade. The DIDGET meter will connect to Bayer's DIDGET™ World (, a password-protected Web community that is coming soon, where kids can spend points that they earn from consistent monitoring practices and create their own page.

The device can be purchased through and

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Selena Gomez uses AAC on George Lopez Show

by Jeannette Van Houten

How many of us has experienced or know someone that has experienced laryngitis? Selena Gomez, the singer/actress, is experiencing the frustration over not being able to communicate in her typical way. Trying to honor her commitment to appearances, she made a visit to the George Lopez show. I am sure you are wondering how a person with laryngitis is making an appearance on a talk show. Selena used a Dynavox Vmax for communicating with Lopez.

Yes, I am sure you have questions similar to mine. How did Selena Gomez come to get a VMAX for this appearance? According to the DynaVox Speech and Communication Devices Facebook page, George Lopez himself Googled speech devices. He made contact with the company to have a device loaned to Selena for the appearance. George Lopez gave the questions to Selena ahead of time and the device was programmed with full sentence answers, which were placed under individual buttons so she would not have to navigate to different pages.

To clarify her communication, Selena used multiple modes of communication: facial expressions, gestures and a wipe off board. The wipe off board came in handy when Selena was trying to say "hahaha" and the device did not pronounce it correctly. It was great to see multiple methods being used to clarify and have communication exchanges.

After the show, DynaVox donated the machine, in Selena's name, to The Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles.

Check out the clip below

Friday, July 23, 2010

TLC Spotlight - SuperTalker Progressive Communicator

What's new in the TLC...

The SuperTalker Progressive Communicator by ablenet is a new added item to the TLC. From single cell to 8 cell! Configure the SuperTalker in one, two, four and eight grid formats, eliminating the need to learn a new device as his or her needs change and abilities grow. It is easy to use with voice output. Every message location accessible via external switch, SuperTalker is even equipped with a special "Step Ahead" jack allowing a single switch to activate SuperTalker's messages in-order.

  • 16 minutes of recording time with variable message lengths
  • Four different grid formats with matching keyguards
  • Built-in keyguard storage
  • Eight levels
  • Step-ahead jack for single switch sequential message playback
  • Volume control with lockout feature
  • Crystal clear sound
  • Compatible with BoardMaker Overlay software
  • Eight input jacks for single-switch access to any specific location

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, July 21, 2010

REX - The Robotic Exoskeleton

This new device has been developed by REX Bionics in New Zealand to assist wheelchair users. Once the person is secured into the robotic legs, they can stand, walk, move side to side, climb steps and move around on any hard surface! Once the person transfers into REX - they control all the movements with a joystick.

The company was started by two friends, Richard Little and Robert Irving, who have a direct link to people with disabilities (both their mothers are wheelchair users). In addition, Robert was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis seven years ago.

REX is now available in New Zealand and the company hopes to have it approved for sale in Europe and Australia soon. They are also working in FDA approval - so they can sell REX in the United States.

Do you want to see REX in action? Click this link to go directly to the Video and Media page on the REX website.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Echo: The Evolution of the SmartPen

We have already discussed the Livescribe Pulse Pen several times on this blog (see "A look at the Livescribe Pulse Pen"; "Sample Livescribe Notes and Recording: AT for Writing"; and, "MyScript for Livescribe Pen".

Well....get ready for the next generation of SmartPen - the Echo! The Echo has all the features of the Pulse Pen (mainly the ability to record audio information that is synced to written notes on the specialized notebooks) and expands on those features with some exciting new enhancements.

First, the Echo comes in a a 4GB and 8GB model. The 4 GB model will sell for $169.95 and the 8GB model will sell for $199.95. The 2GB Pulse Pen will still be available and the price will drop to $129.95
Some of the new features of the Echo pen include:
  • Elimination of the specialized docking cradle. The Echo comes with a mini USB port to connect directly into a computer for transfer of files.
  • Standard size headphone jack (3.5mm)
  • New & improved shape. Less round than the Pulse Pen (not as likely to roll away!) and more contoured to fit hand.
The company has also announced some upcoming software updates (expected to be available in the fall), which include:
  • Paper Tablet - This feature enables the pen to be used as a digitizer when connected to a computer.
  • Ability to share recorded notes with others as a PDF document.
  • The ability to share pencasts with others via iPhone and iPad.
Finally, check out this resource document that lists 45 educational uses for the Pulse Pen! The document is broken up under the headings of: Student Use, Teacher Use, Parental Use, and Administrative Use.

Do you have other uses for the Pulse Pen? Leave a comment below and share your experience.

Friday, July 16, 2010

TLC Spotlight - Smart Cat Touchpad

We showed you the Mouseless The Invisible Mouse, now we want to show you the Smart Cat...

No mouse can do all this! Active on touch alone - No contact pressure required sensitivity adjustable with driver. Intelligent software you can personalize, one-touch scroll and zoom in most applications, distinctive sounds for each operation, and more make the Cirque Smart Cat the most precise, easy-to-use pointing device in its class.

The Cirque Smart Cat® adds comfort plus performance to computer control with an extra-large touch surface, intelligent software, one-touch scroll and zoom, and distinctive sounds for each operation. Basic mouse functions are a snap. Simply access right-clicks by tapping a finger in the touchpad’s upper right corner, and quickly activate vertical/horizontal scrolling as well as magnification tools by gliding a finger along the touchpad edges.

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, July 13, 2010

Mouseless - The Invisible Mouse!

Do you have trouble controlling the mouse for your computer? Maybe Mouseless is for you!

This invisible mouse was developed by researchers at MIT. The devices consists of an Infrared laser and camera that recognizes the location of your hand on any flat surface and translates those movements to cursor control on the monitor. According to the website, a fully functional prototype was built using only $20 in materials!

Check the video on the website to see the Mouseless in action. This is the type of device that can enhance the computer access abilities of many consumers with disabilities. Keep checking back here for any updates on this exciting tool.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Web Resource That's Off the Charts

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is chart or diagram worth? If it can explain a concept, clarify an idea or convey a message, I'd have to say priceless. I found this post: Visualize Everything, 32 Free Tools to Create Different Diagrams, on I was looking for something else and got so totally sidetracked I couldn't even tell you what I originally went there for.

Many of the tools are for web designers, but some have applications that might be useful in the classroom. is a free, web application for brainstorming online. Several sites feature ways to create killer flow charts or diagrams. Most are free but require registration. Some offer free trials.

The OnlineChart Tool is free and lets you create and add graphs and charts to your webpages, blogs and social networking sites. It's free and pretty easy to use. That's where the lovely graph illustrating this post came from.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Summer Reading: Ways to Getting’ it done

It is summer in NJ if you could not tell it by the calendar you can surely tell it by the heat and humidity. Many of us enjoy a nice lazy summer lounging at the pool or beach with a good book. On the other hand, our children often are required to read an hour a day or do a book report for their summer reading. I am not sure who the schools are punishing the children or the parents that have to fight with the children to read a book when all they want to do is have fun in the sun. To decrease the fighting in my home here are a few strategies that I have used:

The one page read: I scan the book onto a standard piece of paper and place it in a top loader. It becomes their placemat for breakfast. I have even been known to staple it to the back of the cereal box. (Since two pages fit on one standard page – I get 2 for 1).

Shared silly reading: When we are doing this, we have cards we made up and the person picks how they will read. There are times it is a silly voice, standing on one leg, ringing of bells when we get to a specific word.

Audio books: Yes, I know Audio books are not considered reading. However, you can work a deal you read one chapter you can listen to one chapter. Often what will happen is the student will follow along in the book.

Reward reading material of choice: If my niece or nephew finishes their assigned reading for the week typically, 1-2 chapters they are given a reward of more material to read. This can range from a comic book, graphic novel, magazines or a game.

Roll the dice: A game of chance depending on how you roll the dice you may end up with as little as 2 pages or 2 minutes or up to 12 pages or 12 minutes of reading. The way we play is you have a choice before you roll the dice are you going for pages or minutes. If we do this method we, play at least 3 times a day.

Give a purpose to reading: When my niece and nephew have a book for summer reading, I read the book before they do. I set a purpose for each chapter. I might have them look for idioms, comparisons, something that reminds them of somewhere they have gone, or a hunt for a hidden message that I created using little dots over words that spell out a special treat.

If all else fails bribery always works. I give a penny for every page read. Since most of the books my niece and nephew are reading are between 300-400 pages, they make $3-$4 dollars. If they complete the task earlier then their established deadline, they can double their money. If they complete the writing assignment that typically goes with their summer reading, they can triple their money.

If you have a creative way to help your children or students get through their unwanted summer reading, please share. I am always looking for new ways to motivate more reading in my family.

TLC Spotlight - Humanscale Switch Mouse

The Humanscale Switch Mouse is unique to its design. It can be used left or right-handed! Is that where the name came from? The Switch Mouse can be used by both left and right handed individuals, making it a true ambidextrous device. A mousing solution that boosts comfort and reduces the risk of Repetitive Stress. No one should ever underestimate the value of ergonomics. More and more people these days are suffering from carpel tunnel or repeated wrist syndrome every day.

This ergonomic mouse places your wrist and forearm into a more comfortable mousing position, and it offers unique scrolling and clicking features as well. Additionally, the Humanscale Switch Mouse easily adjusts to the size of your palm. Adjustable length ensures proper fit for most users. This feature was carried over from the previous model, the Humanscale Whale Mouse.

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, July 07, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday! Comeeko

Since it's summer - today's Web 2.0 Wednesday will focus on something fun!

Check out Comeeko and create comic strips from your own pictures! Simply create your FREE login and start uploading your pictures. Once your pictures are uploaded - just organize them into a story. Add speech bubbles and effects to really draw in the readers. After your comic strips are created, they are stored on the website and each strip has an html code which allows you to insert the strip into other pages. If you want to create a hard copy of the student's work - the comic strips can be printed out.

For students who struggle with writing tasks, completing a writing assignment is difficult. This method may provide a different level of engagement with the activity - and may produce winning results.

The comic below is something I created to celebrate the US Mens Soccer Team victory in the World Cup. I admit that there isn't much writing going on here - but I was engaged in the activity!

a comic strip!

Try it out and leave a comment below. Even better - create a comic strip and share is with us!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Bookshare Video Tutorials

Bookshare is an online accessible digital library for individuals with print disabilities. In 2007, Bookshare received a grant from the US Government's Office of Special Education for make the service available for free to all students with a documented print disability in the US. Eligibility requirements are listed on the here on the website.

Bookshare is not a very difficult service to use, but like using anything else, it helps to have some guidance. The National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials has straightforward video tutorials on how to use Bookshare.

These videos can be used as instructional material on how to teach someone to use Bookshare or as a reference for students and families.

10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Summer

OK - the school year is behind you! Now is the time to check out this new resource from the Edutopia website

Summer Rejuvenation Guide: 10 Tips to Help You Relax, Reflect, and Recharge for the Coming School Year.

The Guide includes the following information:
1. Grow Your Network
2. Party with the Stars
3. Do-It-Yourself Professional Development
4. Tell the Story of Your Life
5. Try Something New
6. Curate Classroom Artifacts
7. Give a Little, Get a Lot
8. Get Moving
9. Crack the Books
10. Plan Ahead for Next Summer

Enjoy the summer!

Friday, July 02, 2010

TLC Spotlight - TrackerPro

Tracker Pro by Madentec is a mouse replacement device that enables people with little or no hand movement to perform all mouse functions by moving their head.

How Does It Work?

Plug & Play: No software is required. Just plug TrackerPro into the USB port of your computer and you're done.

Plug Tracker Pro into the mouse/USB port (instead of a mouse) and mount it on top of a LCD computer screen, laptop, or augmentative communication device. Tracker Pro’s high-resolution intelligent camera is in a solid aluminum enclosure. You need a tiny round reflective dot that you wear on your forehead or glasses. When you move your head, Tracker Pro elegantly converts that into computer mouse movement, and you move your mouse cursor. Clicking can be accomplished by using ability switches, or dwell click software such as MagicCursor2000 or WISP. Dwell technology, built into many AAC devices also works to let you click.

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, July 01, 2010

Some pictures from the Inclusion Conference

Here are some pictures from the demos at the Inclusion Conference. Our team in action!!!

Graphic Novels

Sticking with the theme of reading, I also attended a workshop presented by Christina Estlow from Ocean County Public Library. She talked about graphic novels as a medium for struggling readers to engage in reading. Looking at the varitey of books she brought with her, as well as perusing the library's online catalogue, graphic novels are becoming extremely popular with kids, and publishers are catching on. I never thought I would be able to read a graphic novel about the Salem Witch Trials or The Diary of Anne Frank. One of Christina's cautions was for the teacher or parent to read the novel first to be sure that it was appropriate for their student.

To link graphic novels to the writing process, she showed us a *free* website for students to write their own graphic novels called Make Beliefs Comics. This is a very easy to use, and very fun. I won't tell you that I spent a couple hours playing with this website and shared a few of my stories with my family. I won't tell you that.......

Never underestimate the power of Low Tech

Yesterday at the NJCIE Inclusion Conference, I attended a great workshop presented by Paula Kluth. The focus was on literacy and the importance of including all students in the process of reading, regardless of their abilities. Dr. Kluth discussed 2o Ways to Adapt the Read Aloud for students. All of her ideas are low tech. Often when teachers or other school staff members think about supports for reading, they think about high tech tools first. While many high tech supports have many features that are appropriate for some students, I think it is important not to forget about low tech options that may support a student in the area of reading.