Thursday, November 19, 2015

TheraTogs Wunzi System by TheraTogs

The TheraTogs Wunzi System is a new washable body hugging onesie for little ones aged birth to 24 months that provides postural support and sensory input.  It can improve trunk alignment for children who have low muscle tone or difficulty holding their body symmetrically or steady.  The Wunzi, which fits like a typical onesie, can be worn over a diaper and is designed to fit children weighing 7 to 26 pounds.  The Wunzi costs $204-$446, depending on size.  Consult your therapist prior to trying.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Using Sound As Assistive Technology

Most people find a gentle melody to be calming, while some people need background sounds to concentrate.  White and pink noise are colors of the noise spectrum that have different audio signals that sound different to yoru ears.  White or pink noise generators are inexpensive and easy to find for iPhones, Androids and on the web.  Another use of sound for calming or aiding with focus is binaural beats, which are paired frequency tones that are slightly different in each ear.  This produces a frequency "Beat" that is perceived by the brain and may induce a neural frequency that occurs in the states of sleep, rest, or alertness.  Two resources for white noise and binaural beats are White & Pink Noise (iOS, Android, web) and Binaural Beats (iOS, Android, web).

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Amazon's Take on Home Automation

The Amazon Echo is an exciting new product with the potential to provide greater independence to individuals with disabilities in their home.  It's functions as a home's central command center, allowing someone to turn on lights on or off, check the weather, add items to their grocery list and more. all by using their voice from rooms far away, and will speak aloud any answers to your questions or commands.  It can also connect to other devices and online services (such as your Google calendar), and has a companions smartphone app that helps you control and customize the device.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Seating Options for Early Childhood

Kids like to move around and sometimes have difficulty sitting still.  The Vidget, a new product available for pre-order from Viggi Kids, allows kids to fidget in a side-to-side motion while seated.  The lightweight chair can help improve focus and attention as well as provide sensory stimulation for children ages three to six.  Its modular cube design allows for the Vidget to also become a desk or stool by turning it on its side.

Another seating option is the Safco Runtz Ball Chair to help learners stay engaged and focused in a classroom or other environment.  Movement helps the entire brain engage and work together.  Sitting on an exercise ball activates and strengthens the core or abdominal muscles, which support both fine and gross motor development.  The Safco Runtz Ball Chair provides the movement and engagement of an exercise ball with the addition of a base for stability and control.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A New Wheelchair Accessible Car

The Chairiot solo is an accessible car that came on the market last spring to give people who use wheelchairs more independence when it comes to transportation.  This small, electric car travels up to 50 miles when fully charged, with speeds up to 25 miles an hour.  It's designed more for local use such as going to the grocery store, going to work or seeing a movie.  The Chairiot solo opens up from the back and provides roomf or only one person, the driver.  The starting price of the Chairiot solo is less than $20,000.  Check out their website for a video on how the car works!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Reading with Snap&Read Universal

Do you, your child, or your student understand text content when it is read aloud or modified into simpler language, but have difficulty reading independently?  Snap&Read Universal is one of the many options available that can read aloud, or in other words provide text-to-speech for, digital reading content.  In addition, Snap&Read Universal provides the ability to adjust the complexity of the digital reading content.  Sometimes what appears as digital text is instead an image of text that is not readable by a text-to-speech program; Snap&Read Universal has the ability to capture a screenshot of that text image and convert it to readable text.  Snap&Read Universal is available for windows, Mac and Google Chrome.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Wearable Technology Meets Home Automation

Ever wish you could turn your lights on just by waving your hand?  The Reemo Watch is designed to enable wearers to control their environment by using only gestures.  It works in conjunction with an app on your smartphone and "smart home" devices.  When you set a gesture for household appliances, you can do anything from turning lights on to opening your garage door.  The Reemo Watch was created and manufactured right here in Minneapolis.  Although it can be used by anyone, it was created with the inventor's father in mind right after he suffered a stroke.  Reemo should be available by October, 2015.  Check out this awesome video that shows you how it works!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Online Tools for Students Struggling with Algebra

Algebra can be a touchy subject for any student to master and since each concept builds on the next, it can be easy to fall behind.  Luckily, there are a lot of free resources available online to help.  With these resources, a student could:
  • catch up with classmates before they fall behind
  • work on a concept they didn't quite master in class
  • do some pre-learning before a new concept is introduce
  • try learning difficult concepts in a new way
  • or even move ahead if they aren't feeling challenged enough
There are a lot of great math learning resources out there but here are three free ones that we really like!

Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a website that contains thousands of videos on math and other topics.  These videos walk you step-by-step through math concepts as basic as arithmetic to as advanced as calculus.  Most concepts are introduced in a visual manner as you view a digital white board that the instructor writes on.

You can also use their Knowledge Map to see which math concepts yu need to practice by taking short quizzes.  If you are having any difficulties with a particular math concept, the visual Knowledge Map will show you the skills you need to master in order to learn that concept.

Progress on the site is tracked and users can earn badges for reaching certain goals.  You can even assign the student a coach who can view their progress and see where they are struggling.  Khan Academy is a popular tool for schools and has also branched out to other topics like science, economics and computer programming.

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
This website offers visual tools for both learning and working on math skills by solving them visually.  Developed by Utah State University, these interactive web based tools are broken down by math topic and grade level.  In addition to giving instructions with some of the tools, you can enter a math problem and the student solves them visually.

Although these are great tools, they have not been updated since 2010 and might look a little dated.  We also found that with some browsers, you may have to adjust your security settings for Java, which your browser should alert you about.

HippoCampus
HippoCampus is a website filled with lessons and exercises on math and other topics like biology, chemistry, and more.  Here you can watch instructional videos from various creators and organizations.  This can give a student the opportunity to see a difficult concept taught in different ways.

The NROC project provides an entire video course in algebra on HippoCampus that a student can follow along with.  Each section of the course includes a warm up, an interactive practice section, a presentation, an interactive review and work examples.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fitness Bracelets: UP by Jawbone

Are you looking for a fun, innovative way to set up a new fitness plan but not sure where to start?  Feeling overwhelmed by the idea of jumping into new something new?  It can all begin with just a few steps, a fitness band and an app!

Check out the UP system by Jawbone.  At $129.99, this sleek wrist band made of water resistant hypoallergenic rubber offers unique features to help individuals reach their wellness goals.  Using a precision motion sensor and actigraphy, it is able to track steps, distance, calories burned, as well as one’s sleep patterns and REM cycles.  It also has several alarms. It will gently vibrate to wake you at an exact time or at the optimal time within a desired range based upon the user’s unique REM cycle.  The idle alert notices when you’ve spent too much time sitting still and vibrates to encourage you to get up and move around.  

The UP band must be used with its corresponding app, available for both Android and iOS platforms, and also has the capability to integrate with many popular fitness apps. The app adds features such as logging food and drink intake and also mood. The app can track calorie intake and other nutritional information.  The app also serves as a coach to provide tips, suggest goals based on your data and to encourage along the way. The fitness band connects via the headphone port of your device and uploads your data into the application where it provides feedback about your sleep and activity.  For an extra $20, users could also choose the UP 24 which connects wirelessly and gives real time data via Bluetooth, but is currently only available to work with iOS.  Nike and FitBit make similar products that cater to slightly different user goals. Check them out today!