Thursday, March 10, 2011

ATIA Florida 2011: STC Top Ten List


The Assistive Technology Industry Association
("ATIA")
is a not-for-profit membership organization of manufacturers,  sellers and providers of technology-based assistive devices and/or services. In January 2011 ATIA held their annual January assistive technology conference.  Megan Kunz, Coordinator of the Simon Technology Center, attended the conference and shares with readers in this article a top ten list of new and innovative technology discovered during conference sessions or in the vendor hall.

1.   AAC App: Predictable
Predictable is a new communication app by UK assistive technology developer Therapy Box Limited.  Users can type a message more efficiently by using a sophisticated word prediction engine and speak the message using a range of voices.  Four key features of Predictable include: the ability to scan, switch access, word prediction and voice output.

Cost $199.00
2.  Read and Write Gold 10
Read&Write GOLD is a literacy software solution that allows struggling readers and writers to access any curriculum and complete reading, writing, and research assignments as well as take tests independently. Read&Write Gold 10 for Windows is the latest release.  In addition to standard features such as text to speech and word prediction, version 10 includes new features such as:  picture dictionary, verb checker, vocabulary list builder, paragraph translation and confusable words.  A free 30 day trial is available for product review.


Cost: $598.00

3. iPad Bluetooth Switch Interface
Plug in almost any switch into this wireless bluetooth switch adapter and use for cause/effect, switch timing, AAC auto-scan, and step-scan.  The device uses bluetooth technology (Bluetooth 2.1) and pairs with the bluetooth enabled iPad.  It can be used with any app that has been programmed for switch access.  Check app specifications or call the developer regarding switch access.  ( Can be used with AAC apps such as Predictable and Proloquo2Go. )
      

Cost $99.00

4.  Exploring New Territories - FDLRS
Exploring New Territories is a resource rich document brought to you by The Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources System.  Additional tech handouts from FDLRS are available at http://www.paec.org/fdlrstech/handouts.htm

Cost: FREE

5.  iAdapter - iPad Case
The iAdapter is a durable case with rubberized cornewrs that fits over the iPad.  Designed by assistive technology developers AMDI the case is designed to answer questions raised when considering the iPad as a communication device.  The case is aslo equipeed with dual amplificqtion speakers to provide users with the volume needed in a variety of communication settings.  Additional features include:  built in handle, shoulder strap, table top stand, sliding protective cover for home screen button.


Cost: $198.000

6.  Audio Notetaker by Sonocent
Audio Notetaker is a software program for taking and synchronizing notes.  Use the original recording itself to take notes, get rid of the sentences you don't need, format, highlight and combine with text and images to create your own customized notes.  You can import your audio from a digital dvice, from the internet or record directly into Audio Notetaker.

Cost: $149.00

7.  Read2Go App
Read2Go App is the DAISY reader for Bookshare on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.  Read2Go is an accessible e-book reader developed by Benetech.  The app is a full-featured, accessible DAISY reader for Apple devices that connects directly to Bookshare for immediate access to books.  From within the app, individual users and schools supporting students can search, downlod, and read Bookshare books and periodicals.  Read2Go reads DAISY 2.02 and 3.0 materials from other sources.  Read2Go is not yet available but is scheduled to be available in the iTunes App store soon.

Cost: $19.99
8.  Pictello App by AssistiveWare
Pictello is a visual story telling app.  It has a simple easy to use
interface that allows users to create stories, talking books and social scripts.  Each page can contain a picture, up to five lines of text, a recorded sound/voice or text to speech using high-quality voices.
 
Cost: $14.99

9.  SoundPOD Wearable AAC System
The SoundPOD Wearable AAC System for the iPod is a full featured, handheld AAC system  that includes an iPod Touch, wearable wireless speaker, lanyard, and TouchChat Communication App.  Pricing varies but starts at $1,495.00

10.  Blue2 Bluetooth Switch by AbleNet
The new Blue2 dual switch provides access to compatible iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch applications via Bluetooth wireless technology. Simply sync the switch with your favorite Apple® device and activate the application’s switch scanning mode to begin using the app hands-free. Blue2 supports both single and dual switch access through direct access using the two built in switches, or plug in your favorite switches into the available ports to fit your individual needs. Also appropriate for computer access, Blue2 also ships with a USB Bluetooth dongle. For maximum software accessibility, Blue2 supports five modes of keyboard/mouse commands.

Cost: $149.99

Did you Know?: Field Trip to the Apple Store

Hey Teachers! Looking for a fun, tech filled event for your students? If you are located close to one of the 230 Apple stores in the U.S., then a great opportunity is right under your nose. Teachers can sign their classes up for an official Field Trip to the Apple Store.

Every spring, Apple opens up a program in which teachers can sign up to bring their classes into the Apple store for a special event. The field trip can be to highlight a project that the class has created (like the unveiling of a class film or a digital science fair) or allow students to create something new using the variety of computers and tools available at the Apple store.  Every student will receive a Field Trip to the Apple Store t-shirt.

Registration will be available this spring at www.apple.com/retail/fieldtrip.  If you visit now you can leave your email and be notified when registration becomes available.  Register early because time slots fill up fast.  The Apple store has additional youth programs like their Youth Workshops and Apple Camp.  To find out more visit  www.apple.com/retail/youth/.

Early Childhood Corner: TNT Resource Briefs

Tots-n-Tech has a new assistive technology resource brief available! These briefs are designed to assist states and agencies to enhance their resources that support AT use in early intervention.  The briefs include practical information focused on a variety of assistive technology topics. The newest brief includes information on assistive technology reuse, tips for starting your own reuse program, and a lot of helpful reuse resources. Other TNT assistive technology briefs can be accessed on the
Tots-n-Tech website at http://tnt.asu.edu/practical-resources/briefs.

Product Spotlight: Intel Reader

The Intel Reader, developed by Intel Corporation, is a portable device that will display, read and convert print to electronic text. This portable device, sized at 6.5in. x 5.35in. x 1.3in. and weighing less than 2 lbs., provides nearly instant access to print materials. This device will capture an image of printed text and immediately convert it into electronic text. The electronic text can be viewed on the LCD display screen and read aloud by the device’s synthetic speech. Text size can be modified and is highlighted as it is read aloud. EBooks and text files can be stored on the device to read aloud while on the go or away from the computer. Earphones can be plugged into the device for private listening. This device can increase the independence readers experience in their interactions with text and printed materials in various environments.

This device is generally priced at $1,500 and sold by such retailers as Humanware, Don Johnston, Second Vision LLC, and more.

For further information on this and other items available in the STC library please visit www.pacer.org/stc/library. For information on becoming a member of the library and checking out this item, contact library staff at 952-838-9000 or stclibrary@pacer.org.

App Corner: The New Mac App Store

The main success of the iOS (mobile operating system) on every iPhone, iPod Touch, and the iPd can be drawn back to the App store where you can find countless low cost appliations to run on your mobile device.  In early January 2011, Apple launched the App Store for the Mac creating a one stop spot for Apple users to buy and download their favorite Mac programs.  Developers for the iOS are also releasing desktop versions of their popular mobile apps.  So now you can have your favorite app as a software application on your Mac desktop.

In order to access the new Mac App Store you need to be running OS 10.6 Snow Leopard, the latest version of the Mac operating system.  The good news if your computer meets the minimum system requirements the upgrade from 10.5 to 10.6 only costs $29.  To find out more and to check the system requirements visit: http://tinyurl.com/10-6upgrade.

If you have Snow Leopard installed on your computer but don't see the App Store on your dock, just click on the Apple in the top left corner of your screen and choose "Software Update." Once you update to the latest version of Snow Leopard the Mac App Store will automatically appear in your dock at the bottom of your screen.

Prices and availability sometimes change daily so check back often for sales.  The Mac App Store is filled with apps but here is a quick highlight of a few that are relevant to assistive technology:
Speak it!
Speak it! is a simple text to speech application for the iOS that is now available on the Mac.  It allows you to type or copy and paste text into the program and have it read out loud by 4 high quality computerized voices that come with the program.  ($9.99 currently on sale for $4.99; 3 out of 5 stars from a total of 8 reviews from Mac App Store 2/1/11)
Read4Me
Read4Me is also a simple text to speech program.  It uses the built in computerized voices that come with the Mac to read text that is typed or copied into it.  Text can also be exported to an audio file.  ($3.99; 5 out of 5 stars from a total of 2 reviews from Mac App Store 2/1/11)
iProcrastinate
iProcrastinate has been on the Mac for a while but the latest version is available exclusively from the App Store.  iProcrastinate is designed to be a simple, easy to use task management program for students.  It allows the user to create a project with multiple steps that helps break a large project into smaller more manageable pieces.  The Mac app wirelessly syncs with the iOS app. (Free for a limited time; for more information about iProcrastinate check out http://www.iprocrastinateapp.com)
MindNode
MindNode for Mac is a simple mind mapping program that allows the user to visually organize their thoughts. This can be a great tool for outlining a project or report.  (Free; 4.5 out of 5 stars from a total of 485 reviews from Mac App Store 2/1/11.  MindNode Pro a more robust mind mapping tool is available for $19.95)
Typ-O
Typ-O is an inexpensive word prediction program.  It gives on screen suggestions as you type based on a prediction engine and possible spelling errors.  It also integrates text to speech so you can hear the suggestions read out loud.  ($9.99; 5 out of 5 stars from a total of 1 review from Mac App store 2/1/11)
AudioNote - Notepad and Voice Recorder
AudioNote is a notepad and voice recorder that allows you to record audio through your computer's microphone while you take notes.  You can later click on your notes to hear the audio that was recorded while you were typing.  it works similar to the Livescribe SmartPen, but with your keyboard.  You can even use the drawing tool to doodle notes as well. ($9.99; 3.5 out of 5 stars from a total of 12 reviews from Mac App Store 2/1/11)

Did You Know?: Using Dragon Naturally Speaking to Take Notes

Dragon Naturally Speaking by Nuance is a software program that wehn used in conjunction with a USB high quality microphone helps users dictate their speech to the computer and have teh computer convert their speech to text.  This is the traditional use of Dragon.  But did you know that it can also be used as a note taker?

Speech recognition is becoming more accurate with each version released.  the training time required has decreased while the accuracy has incrased.  One ingenious educator is taking advantage of these improvements.  She wears the microphone while she is teaching the class while the student in need of text support uses the text provided by the software as the basis for note taking.  The accuracy level is likely to vary depending on a variety of factors including room acoustics and quality of the microphone, however it generally produces enough accurate information to ber a supplement for the student that needs it.  The text can also provide the context for instruction in editing, grammar, and spelling.

Early Childhood Corner: Poddy Training - Using iPod Touches in the Kindergarten Classroom


Poddy Training is a web site that chronicles the classroom experiences of St. Mary's Episocopal School, an independent school for girls in Tennessee, as they embark on a journey using mobile technology with early learners.

The idea grew from teacher use of the iPod and students practicing letter formation in the palm of their hands.  The site contains information about
research and resources, early learning best practice and a blog that shares their daily experiences of planning, training, teaching, apps, and classroom and
equipment management.