Wednesday, November 4, 2009

STC Staff Top Ten from Closing the Gap

1. Word Talk – is a free text-to-speech plugin for Microsoft Word. It will speak the text of the document and will highlight it as it goes. It contains a talking dictionary to help decide which word spelling is most appropriate

2. WebMath - is a math-help web site that generates answers to specific math questions and problems, as entered by a user, at any particular moment. The math answers are generated and displayed real-time, at the moment a web user types in their math problem and clicks "solve." In addition to the answers, WebMath also shows the student how to arrive at the answer.

3. E-Speaking is a free or shareware program ($15) that enables a user to command and control the computer, dictate emails and letters, and have the program read documents back to you. For individuals with motor impairments that make it difficult or impossible to use a mouse and keyboard, this might be a viable and affordable alternative.

4. iTouch/iPhone Applications can be found at the apple store, on iTunes and on many developers sites. Here are a few of Tara’s favorites from Closing the Gap. iHomework, available for $.99, is a simple application to keep school work and life organized. Visules, available for $4.99, is a visual support created by a father of a child with autism. Visules communicates checklists and prompts using text, images and colors. Visual Scheduler, available for $2.99, is an organizational tool using video, visual and audio prompting. iStudiez Pro (formerly iStudent Pro), available for $2.99, is a multi function homework planner that helps a user take charge of their schedule.

5. What Have We Learned Lately is both a commentary and a compilation of articles on assistive technology research and practice. The work of Dave Edyburn, the list from this and previous years, captures articles that professionals in assistive technology may want to read to stay current with assistive technology research and practice. A takeaway from the session was a visual map of the current articles on research and practice along with a map of the literature from 2008.

6. Free to Read, Write and Communicate was a session done by Barb Wollak from St. Paul Public Schools. Her fast paced session took participants on a journey of FREE resources for electronic text online, technology Web sites that support literacy and communication, and literacy resource examples. Contact Barb for your own list of FREE online resources.

7. The Simon Technology Center did three sessions at Closing the Gap. A Comparison of Software Programs for Creating Visual Supports, Resources for Digital Literature, and Comparing Digital Book Players handouts can be found on the PACER Web site under presentation handouts.

8. Loc-Line is a simple plastice ball and socket system that is flexible but self-supporting. It is also flexible and allows for repositioning. It can be used for holding switches, fiber optics, utensils, for supporting straws and much more. You can get more information by contacting Modular Hose.

9. Dare 2 Dream is the motivational message of Ryan Duncanwood, an inspirational young man we met in the vendor hall. Ryan uses an augmentative communication device to speak and does presentations to groups both large and small. He speaks on the topics of Independent Living Skills, Self-Advocacy, Disability Rights, Assistive Technology and Adaptive Sports.

10. Developing Your Personal Learning Network was a presentation by Paula Walser on providing individuals with learning and access to leaders and experts around the world via Web 2.0 technologies. Her top five list included: 1) Join a professional social network. 2) Pick 5 blogs you find interesting and start reading them. 3) Set up an iGoogle account using your professional email and subscribe to the blogs you selected in Google Reader. 4) Become a part of the conversation and start commenting on the blogs you read. 5) Join the micro social networking phenomena by reading Tweets at Twitter.

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