Thursday, November 28, 2013

Blog Post #15

What Assistive Technologies are Available to You As a Teacher?

"It is a time when expectations and educational options are often made possible by assisitve technology devices that make it easier for all students to participate in classroom activities."

Assistive Technologies for Vision and Hearing Impaired Children
By: Lisa Smith, Briann Smith, Heather Smith, and Amanda Weller

This video gave us a quick look at the benefits of using Assistive technologies in the classroom for children with sensory impairments, and a motivational tool for teachers to use assistive technologies in their classroom. We plan to give all students with sensory impairments the ability to identify, explore, investigate, question, discover, observe, engage, and interact with their environment with assistive technologies. Learning needs to be personal so we plan to incorporate text to speech and speech to text devices, iphones, ipads, ipods, screen magnifiers, and sensory aids into our future classrooms. It’s finally time to take the plunge, step up, and be surprised. Don’t give up on the kids that you can enlighten. It’s their future.

The Mountbatten
By: Lisa Smith, Briann Smith, Heather Smith, and Amanda Weller

This informative video shows how students use the Mountbatten braille writer. Immediate feedback is vital to the struggling learner. Using the Mountbatten braille writer allows for both audio and textile. As the student brailles the machine produces the braille by announcing what is being brailled. This machine is very advanced. It can save files, transfer files and receive files from/to computers. This device is also great for mainstreaming the classroom working with teachers and students that do not know braille. As the student brailles text the memic converts it into print and then displays it onto a screen. This is a feature that will allow for the blind to be included into the curriculum receiving feedback from the teacher and participating in peer group projects.

Teaching Math to the Blind
By: Amanda Weller, Briann Smith, Heather Smith, and Lisa Smith

In this video, Professor Art Karshmer, explains the techniques of teaching math to the blind. Mr. Karshmer attended the University of San Fransisco of Management, which was formerly School of business and Professional Studies. He is a pioneer in the use of technology and computer-based systems to teach mathematics to the blind. For the most part, blind students are effectively barred from the study of all the core or "stem" sciences which rely on math as their root language. Using computers and computer-based devices, Professor Karshmer has created a system which translates the two dimensional realities of mathematical problems into the otherwise single dimensionality of braille to allow a blind student to impress those realities into their visual cortex through touch and electronic feedback. This video is a wonderful source for blind students and so forth. We would definitely recommend this video to parents, teachers, students, and etc..

iPad Usage for the Blind
By: Amanda Weller, Briann Smith, Heather Smith, and Lisa Smith

In this video, Wesley Majerus, shows us how blind people use an iPad. Wesley Majerus is a Access Specialist for the National Federation for the Blind. By watching this video we have learned how actively engaged apple products have become. Its neat to see all of the features that apple products have to offer. Apple provides a voice feedback to show you what is going on and what you're doing. Wesley demonstrates in his video how to use iBooks. The kindle and other sources do not offer the same features that Apple does. The voice activation is very neat and leads you right to what you need. The source is very applicable for blind people. For each individual tap that you click, the voice activation tells you what tab you're on. We found this video to be very neat and a wonderful source!

Teaching Mom What Her Deaf/Blind Child is Learning On the iPad
By: Briann Smith, Heather Smith, Amanda Weller, and Lisa Smith

In this entertaining video, a teacher gives a student’s mom a lesson in voiceover on the iPad. The parent’s child is deaf and blind and she learns the things that her child does while using the iPad.The teacher explains to the parent what a voice over is. She gives the mom a step by step tutorial of how to use voice over. As we can see from the video iPads can be very useful to teachers and their students who may be deaf or blind. The iPad has a great feature integrated Voiceover software(“Apple iPad, iPod, iPhone”). The software allows the information shown on the display to be read aloud to help students. The gestures that are used on the integrated touch screens were designed to allow a blind person to navigate the screen or select menu items and write text(“Apple iPad, iPod, iPhone”). The iPad has several useful apps for deaf and blind students. A great app is Verbal Victor. This communication app allows people to communicate with their students or children who are developing their language skills or who have language impairments(Hooda). Another great app is iASL. iASL stands for i American Sign Language. This app will translate sentences up to five words into the American Sign Language(“Apps for the deaf and hearing impaired”). This is a great app because it allows for the teacher and peers to communicate effectively with the student. Since it is a app it can be on the classroom iPads and the student can communicate with everyone and not feel left out or misunderstood.
   A valuable tool for teachers and students is the Braille Lite. This tool is a note taker and it allows students to type their notes in class using a specialized keyboard(“Out of Sight”). On the front there is a Braille display that allows the students to check what they have typed. It also has an optional speech function that reads the text aloud(‘Out of Sight”). The Braille Lite can also be connected to a PC to print notes on a standard printer in a large font, or on an embosser in Braille(“Out of Sight”). The teacher can also use this tool to translate handouts and other papers into Braille.This assistive technology tool is great for teachers and students. Technology has become such a major element in our schools today. It is great that the technology is made useful to all students. The assistive technology tools are especially wonderful and useful to teachers that have students who may be deaf or blind. These tools and the tools that were mentioned above allow the students and teachers to communicate effectively. They also provide independence for the student, because the student can use these assistive technologies for things that they might had to rely on the teacher for in the past. The use of technology in the classroom is empowering and it provides a great way for all students to learn and excel!

50 Must-See Blogs for Special Education Teachers
By: Heather Smith, Briann Smith, Amanda Weller, and Lisa Smith

In Free Resources from the Net for Every Learner, a Blog by Paul Hami, there are many assistive technologies and resources listed for not only educators, but parents and children as well. We had a couple of favorites that we felt would help us in our Elementary Classrooms in the future, such as MyScript Calculator- a free app for both Android and iOS devices from VisionObjects. It offers a “handwriting calculator”. Another assistive technology we felt will benefit us is SlideTalk. This is a service where you upload either sets of images, or complete PowerPoint presentations.
Once uploaded, SlideTalk adds narration via high quality text to speech that can be customized for pronunciation, reading rate, voice timbre and more. There are at least 17 languages available, and multiple voices are available for most languages. You can even change voices or languages within a presentation. Once a video is produced, it is automatically published to Youtube.

The Assistive Technology Blog gives so many assistive technologies that will be useful to all of us as educators. It is too difficult to list them all, so to name a few: Adobe Presenter 9, IPEVO Interactive Whiteboard System, Co:Writer App for IOS from Don Johnston, Inc, Adobe Connect, MimioTeach Interactive Whiteboard, Windows Surface RT, Belkin Tablet Stage, iReadWrite, and Evernote. All of these assistive technologies are geared toward different uses, but are equally beneficial in the classroom. The following is a brief explanation of a few of our favorites we found on the Assistive Technology Blog:

The IPEVO Interactive
Whiteboard System is a cost effective way to turn any whiteboard or flat surface into an interactive whiteboard. The IPEVO Interactive Whiteboard System works with both Windows and Macintosh computers and the system is comprised of a small camera, stylus and supplied Annotator software. Teacher will need to also have access to a LCD projector for the classroom to use this solution.
Co:Writer for IOS comes complete with a large library of built-in Topic Dictionaries. You can customize Co:Writer for IOS by determining the base number of words that Co:Writer should access which would depend on the students vocabulary and grade level. You can also set the Text to Speech feature to read letters, words, or sentences
and set the rate of the speech. You currently can utilize five different fonts and change the size of the text and utilize a high contrast feature, black background white text. While Co:Writer makes it easy to get your ideas down on the iPad-it also gives you lots of options when it comes time for sharing your ideas. You can send the text to iMessage, Facebook, Twitter or Email. Better yet you can save it to your Dropbox or Google Drive account for easy access at home or in school. You can also copy. paste and print the text directly from the app.
iReadWrite is a well designed app that works as advertised. It provides students with text-to-speech , word prediction and vocabulary
support. iReadWrite does not require an internet connection to utilize the program which is ideal for students who may be in schools with poor web connectivity.
Belkin wanted to extend the reach of capabilities and help
teachers get the most out of their iPad investment. With this in mind Belkin has just released the Belkin Tablet Stage which turns your iPad into a document camera and presentation system.

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