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Feb 6, 2009

Assistive Technology for Learning Disabilities Presentation

On 2/6/09 we will be presenting at the Assistive Technology Institute Conference in Orange County on "Assistive Technology to Support Students with Learning Disabilities".

Our presentation handout can be downloaded or you can contact us to have them emailed to you.

Hope to see you at the conference.

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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 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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Oct 22, 2008

Benetech future work on accessible books

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society: President's Update: Summer 2008
Jim Fruchterman, from Benetech of Bookshare.org, hints at future work with Bookshare.org to make it more accessible to students with existing laptops, mp3 players or phones. Back in September, Bookshare.org received a $32 million award from Department of Education, to provide free accessible books to all students with qualifying disabilities. It will be interesting to see what develops for reading from this work and how it will benefit people with disabilities such as dyslexia, blindness/low vision, and fine/gross motor disabilities.

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Apr 29, 2008

KNFB Reader Mobile

KNFB Reader - Home

This was one of the items that got my attention at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference in March. It is a cell phone with the ability to take a picture of a book, magazine, or other printed text, run the picture through the Kurzweil software and speak the words aloud. It is targeted for people who have difficulty reading due to learning disabilities or people that are blind or with low vision.
One thing I especially like about this device is that it is unobtrusive. People do not have to carry an awkward or additional piece of equipment with them.
This was developed as a joint venture between Kurzweil Technologies and the National Federation of the Blind.

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