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Nov 26, 2008

2009 Assistive Technology Institute

On February 7, 2009, the Assistive Technology Exchange Center (ATEC), a division of Goodwill of Orange County, the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE), and the Team of Advocates for Special Kids (TASK), will host the 5th Annual Assistive Technology Institute at OCDE in Costa Mesa.

This conference is a nice opportunity for teachers, parents, professionals and caregivers in the Southern California area (Orange County, Los Angeles, etc.) to learn and explore assistive technology.

We will likely be presenting a session again on assistive technology for learning disabilities.

More information about the conference can be found at http://ati.atec-oc.org/

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Nov 25, 2008

The Fusion vs. AlphaSmart and Word Prediction

I previously posted about a training with did at a school on the AlphaSmart Neo - Believe Ability Blog: AlphaSmart Neo School Training and included a handout.

Another tool similar to the AlphaSmart Neo is the Fusion by The Writer Learning Systems. One of the obvious differences is the look. The Fusion has a sleek pseudo-iMac style, which some students may find appealing. The Fusion does seem more delicate and heavier than the AlphaSmart Neo. In our experience, the Fusion also has a more limited battery life requiring frequent recharges.

The Fusion does offer two significant features:

  • text to speech - i.e. it will read aloud (through headphones) the text in a synthesized voice
  • flexible/phonetic word prediction - while typing, a list of possible words is displayed - while the AlphaSmart Neo does offer the Co:Writer applet, it does not provide word prediction based on phonetically misspelled words
In our experience, the Fusion's word prediction could handle simple phonetic spelling errors, such as "durt" for "dirt". However it could not correctly predict more complex phonetical spelling errors such as "oshun" for "ocean" or letter order reversals such as "trun" for "turn". Unfortunately, many of the people we see with learning disabilities have these more complex spelling difficulties.

Co:Writer from Don Johnston Inc. is a software program that requires a Mac or Windows PC or notebook and does have the ability to handle these more complex spelling difficulties. Unfortunately, this level of support for significant spelling difficulties does not appear to be available on a light-weight writing device like the AlphaSmart or Fusion. And, as we have discussed previously, a laptop or notebook computer is usually not a good solution in school settings.

If you are interested in more information on assistive technology for writing or our services, please contact us.

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Nov 18, 2008

Member of the Alliance for Technology Access

Believe Ability Inc. is a proud sponsor of the Alliance for Technology Access. This nation-wide organization is one of the first to focus on technology for people with disabilities. Their community-based approach is unique and provides opportunities for people with disabilities and their support team to explore assistive technology. We are happy to be supporting the ATA in the Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego areas.

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Nov 17, 2008

Richard Devylder's use of Assistive Technology for Independent Living

This video of "A Day In the Life: Richard Devylder" is a real life look at someone with no arms and no legs using assistive technology to live their life independently. What is unique about this video is it looks at everyday tasks that Richard is able to do independently with some adaptations. Richard is the former California Department of Rehabilitation Deputy Director. He is now the Special Advisor, Office on Access and Functional Needs, at the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

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Nov 4, 2008

AlphaSmart Neo School Training

We recently did a training for a few teachers at a school district on the basic of the AlphaSmart Neo from Renaissance Learning. For those unfamiliar with this device, it is a writing device similar to a computer but more durable, lighter, longer battery life, and focused on just writing. It is an assistive technology device we often recommend for students with learning disabilities or have difficulty with legible handwriting. It is a superior option to a laptop for school environments and most writing difficulties.

Here is the handout we provided as a simple quick reference guide.

We are able to provide in-service trainings or student trainings throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. Contact us for more information.

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