Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Like Us" For All The Right Reasons

10 Reasons To "Like" And Follow The Simon 
Technology Center

1. The friendly and knowledgeable staff.

2. Our fun and playful cover photos.

3.  The useful and timely information we share from great places like the MSPTI!

4.  It's so good you'll tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends and so on.  (Remember the Faberge Organic Shampoo commercials?)

5.  We're only a phone call (952-838-9000), an email (, a tweet (PACERSTC), or a FB (simontechnologycenter) wall away to answer your questions about assistive technology, apps, services and more.

6.  It is a great place to network and share stories with other parents and educators. Our connectedness gives us opportunities; Opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others.

7. We share information about our great projects and resources every day like EX.I.T.E for middle school girls with disabilities coming to a summer near you.

8. Social networking is fun and a great way to stay connected. Check out our assistive technology connections by seeing what organizations "Like" us and what organizations we "Like".  

9.  Pictures tell a story and our albums highlighting different aspects of assistive technology each tell their own story.

10. Technology is fun and student's love it!

Monday, March 26, 2012

App Corner: Cook IT Allergy Free, ICanEat OnTheGo, Is That Gluten Free? & MyFoodFacts

App has been used as a term for “applications” and has become popular to indicate mobile application. App grew even more popular with the opening of Apple's App Store, which can be accessed through iTunes. In the “App Corner” in Tech Notes we will highlight mobile applications that are universally designed or meet an educational need. This month we highlight apps for people who have food allergies.
 Cook IT Allergy Free - by My Allergy Free Recipes, LLC
Cook IT Allergy Free is an app relevant to anyone dealing with food allergies.  If you are allergic to Gluten, Dairy Eggs or Nuts, this app helps make recipes safe for you and your food allergies or sensitivities.  The app features over 200+ Gluten Free Recipes with more being added. Additional features include the ability to customize recipes, share customized recipes, gives tips and tricks for gluten free and allergy free cooking, creates customized grocery lists and more. 
Cook IT Allergy Free iPod - $4.99 (4 out of 5 stars from 69 ratings for current version); iPad - $6.99 (3.5 our of 5 stars from 22 ratings for current version) Information from the Apple iTunes Store viewed on 3/26/12.
ICanEat OnTheGo Gluten & Allergen Free - by AllergyFree Passport
This app allows the user to personalize fast food menus with 9 common food allergens for meal options from 20 chains, with 15 of those chains addressing gluten.  All information is contained within the app.  No internet connection required to view the 2,100 + menu items.  The app allows you to customize to your food concerns so that you view only the food items that you can eat and hiding others.
ICanEat OnTheGo $4.99 - iPod/iPad (2.5 out of 5 stars from 123 ratings for current version); Information from the Apple iTunes Store viewed on 3/26/12.
Is That Gluten Free? - by Midlife Crisis Apps, LLC
Is That Gluten Free is an app that compiles over 23,000 manufacturer verified Gluten-Free products from over 510 brands.  No internet connection is required to search and navigate the database.  Additional features include: the ability to add your own products, categories and brands; rate products; add individual notes, and links to manufacturer web sites for additional information.
Is That Gluten Free? $7.99 - iPod/iPad (4 out of 5 stars from 871 ratings from all versions); Information from the Apple iTunes Store viewed on 3/26/12.
MyFoodFacts - by VISDATEC INC.
Using the iPhone or iPod camera MyFoodFacts will scan the UPC barcode of supermarket foods then search a comprehensive database of products and manufacturers for allergens.  If a food allergen is found then the app immediately alerts you.  You can further personalize the app to search for products that are Gluten Free or search for other names commonly used for milk such as caseinate.
MyFoodFacts $1.99 - iPod/iPad (3 out of 5 stars from 9 ratings from all versions); Information from the Apple iTunes Store viewed on 3/26/12.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Web Spotlight: Punch In

Punch-In is a new self-directed Employment Assistant that is geared for young adults with disabilities seeking to enter the workforce.  Developed by DBTAC Great Lakes ADA Center Punch-in! is designed to help students with disabilities who are in or recently graduated from postsecondary institutions, develop self directed learning, content knowledge and problem solving skills to increase employment, and success in employment. 
Five tabs including discover yourself, get prepared, find a job, know your rights anduse assistive technology give users a chance to independently direct their employment future.  An additional feature of the site, the Success Network, provides a social networking environment.  The Success Network is free but sign up is required. 
Within each section users can  access social networking,  work with specific tips to that section, and  view digital tips and interviews for each topic.  More information about Punch-in is available at

Friday, March 16, 2012

AT Minute Video: Tar Heel Reader Tutorial

Tar Heel Reader is this fabulous free web based resource developed by my literacy heroes in North Carolina to help meet the need of appropriate books for older struggling readers.  If you looked for books to purchase that could fill your library and meet this need you know that they just are not out there.  In this video we walk you through how to use the Tar Heel Reader web site step-by-step. Tar Heel Reader is a free online resource for reading and creating simple accessible books. You can find out more about Tar Heel Reader by visiting their site at  If you want to create your own books or social stories just ask for the invitation code!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Product Spotlight: Time Out Free for Mac & Take a Break for PC

Time Out Free for Mac is a freeware program that helps computer users break up time spent working at the computer.  It is very easy to develop bad habits when using the computer for hours at a time.  These bad habits can be bad for your body.   Time Out helps remind computer users to take a break.
Time Out promotes "normal" and "micro" breaks.  The normal breaks typically occur after 50 minutes of work.  When it is time to take a break the computer screen grays out and a reminder pops up prompting you to take your break from the computer.  Micro breaks typically occur every 10 minutes and give you the opportunity to take a 10-15 second movement or stretching break before resuming your work.
While on your break a progress bar shows how long until the break is over.  Users have the ability to postpone or skip a break, change the frequency and duration of the breaks, play a sound and use automated workflows.  You can find more information about Time Out Free in the Mac Store or at their web site:
A similar program for PC users is Take A Break 2.0 by Molecular Software.  This free program runs in the background and counts down how many minutes until it is time to take a break.  Users can set the time interval on the slider from 5 minutes to one hour.

NOTE:  I personally use Time Out to remind me to take movement breaks and to stretch.  Hours of sitting and a long commute have developed into back problems.  Time Out has been invaluable as a prompting tool.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Early Childhood Corner: EZ AT 2

Looking for simple easy ideas to help infants and toddlers with disabilities be more successful?  Look no further! EZ AT 2: Simple Assistive Technology Ideas for Children Ages Birth to Three is a guide for increasing young children’s participation in daily activities and routines using assistive technology. This fantastic publication is a follow-up to PACER’s popular EZ AT: Assistive Technology Activities for Children Ages 3 to 8. Funded by and created in collaboration with Tots-n -Tech, this publication is available for purchase for $5.00 from PACER Center or available as a free download. For more information about EZ AT 1 for children ages 3 - 8 and EZ AT 2 visit For more information about Tots-n-Tech, visit

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tech Tip: Locking Down Your Computer

Sometimes you need to step away from you computer for a moment but you want your computer to be locked down, so for example, your kids can’t access it. One way to do this is to logout of your user profile, but that requires closing the programs you have open and it can take a while to open up again. Luckily there is a way you can lock the computer down quickly and instantly.
In a Windows environment, simply hold down the Windows key on the keyboard then press the “L” key to lock the screen. The screen will switch to the login screen and will require you to enter your password to unlock the screen. If you don’t have a password set for your computer user you will have to go into the control panels and set one in the User Accounts section. Remember to set a hint to use if you forget your password.

On a Mac, first go to your System Preferences by clicking on the apple icon in the top left corner of the screen and choosing System Preferences. In System Preferences click on the options for Security. In the Security menu check the checkbox marked Require password immediately after sleep or screen saver begins.” Now click on Show All in the top left corner of the System Preferences. Then, click on the Desktop & Screen Saver options. If needed, click on the tap at the top for Screen Saver. In the bottom left corner of the window click the button named “Hot Corners.” Click on the corner you want to use and choose “Put Display to Sleep” under the options. Now whenever you want to lockout your screen just move your cursor to that very corner. If you don’t have a password setup go back to the System Preferences and set one up under the Users options.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Quality Indicators of Assistive Technology - Post Secondary

The QIAT Consortium is a nationwide grassroots group that provides input into identifying, disseminating, and implementing widely applicable Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology Services in School Settings that can be used as a tool to support quality assistive technology work in the schools.  Did you know that a new work group of AT professionals has been drafting quality indicators specific to post secondary education?
The Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology in Post Secondary (QIAT-PS) offers tools and resources on quality implementation of assistive technology in the Post Secondary environment. QIAT-PS is a collaborative effort of hundreds of professionals from a variety of higher education and K-12 schools and based on the successful implementations of assistive technology indicators in K-12 public schools.
The QIAT-PS was developed as a tool for both students and college personnel. The QIAT-PS Student Guidelines are intended as a tool for students and families as they consider the transition from public school to the college environment.  The QIAT-PS College Guidelines are intended as a tool for college personnel as they consider their accessibility and accommodations for the entry of students with disabilities.
Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology in Post Secondary Education is sponsored by DBTAC: Great Lakes ADA Center and DBTAC: Southwest ADA Center. The QIAT-PS web site will be updated by the end of the summer.  If you are interested in a final copy of the indicators contact Janet Peters at

Monday, March 5, 2012

AT Minute Video: Using Photos on the iPad

AT Minute Videos, a product of PACER Center's Simon Technology Center, are short videos highlighting a variety of assistive technology tools, tips, how tos and more.  There are many apps that allow you to incorporate pictures from your personal photo collection. In this video we go over a few different ways to get photos onto your iPad and then how to edit them. In addition to the methods mentioned in this video you can also email yourself photos or use the new Messages feature.