AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL

Closing the Gap in the Star Tribune

by Samuel Sennott

Check out this video made by my uncle, Richard Sennott, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Closing the Gap 2008 Video Link

Closing the Gap 2008 Video Link


October 20, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, Special Education | , | Leave a comment

myWebspiration Public Beta

by Samuel Sennott

mywebspiration logo

mywebspiration logo

Are you participating in the public beta test of myWebspiration. (  From the makers of the graphic organizing softwares Inspiration, Kidspiration, and Inspiredata, comes the web 2.0 version of the software.  In my intial trials of using myWebspiration, my impression is that for the basics it works just like Inspiration, my graphic organizing software of choice.  Yet, gosh do I miss being able to do (contro/ command e).  That resizes your graphic.  There a few other usability features that will also be upgraded, such as undo, super small cell color fill buttons, and other problems related to overriding the browser function keys. Hey, that’s why its a beta right?  I just started a collaborative project using the sharing feature and will report on how it goes.  Overall, I think this software has great potential to give students access to the software at home, which assumes that the company continues its aggressively priced bulk liscensing options for schools.

October 6, 2008 Posted by | Assistive Technology, AT, Special Education | , , , | 6 Comments

Family Center for Technology and Disability News and Notes: AT & High Incidence Disabilities

by Samuel Sennott

Check out the new Family Center for Technology and Disability article featuring the work of Karen Janowski.
Karen Janowski champions universal design and assistive technology.  It is terrific to see her work being recognized.  Check out her blog too.

Here is an excerpt:

AT & High Incidence Disabilities: Independence is Her Goal

An Interview with Karen Janowski, Assistive and Educational Technology Consultant
and Special Education Instructor, Simmons College, Boston, MA

Karen Janowski“In education, there often appeared to be an insufficient level of appreciation for promoting independence among all kids, especially those with high incidence disabilities, and in promoting methods that are successful in that regard,” declares Karen Janowski. “That’s what originally sparked my interest in assistive technology, because AT removes barriers to learning and gives kids additional ways to demonstrate what they know.”

While appreciation for the goal of AT-aided independence has increased in the years since she earned her Masters in AT from Boston’s Simmons College and adopted AT consulting in public schools as a career, there is plenty of room for improvement, she admits.

The independence movement’s ignition button, she recalls, was pinpointed by AT authority Dave Edyburn. “Dave points out that the new language included in the reauthorization of IDEA in 1997, which stipulated that all students on IEPs had to be considered for AT, created four million students who were potential AT users.”     Read more from the article

September 4, 2008 Posted by | AT, Special Education, UDL | , , | 1 Comment

The Tango Tutorial: An Exercise in Not Reduplicating Training

by Samuel Sennott

In the context of an Augmentative and Alternative Communication course, it is often challenging to teach the subject matter framework information, general device knowledge, device programming, as well as all of the intangibles such as Velcro strategies and light tech board hacks and modifications. As more and more information and research comes onto the scene coupled with the ever expanding list of mid-tech to high-tech speech generating devices, we need to start finding ways to compact the information. One clear focus of assistive technology research for the foreseeable future is looking at ways to get massive amounts of framework and technical knowledge to students who are often busy either in full time school programs or both in a combination of school and employment settings.

Personally, I am being called on in an ever greater way in the speech language division I work in to provide training and tutorials to students in the graduate degree program. While it is important to have a personal touch and bring the concepts to life, it has been helpful to find ways to not reduplicate training and efforts.

Here is one resource my friend Amir Shasavari and I created. It is authored in Keynote, but here is the PowerPoint version. The focus is to help train people about the relatively new Tango! AAC device from Blink Twice. Here at Nova Southeastern University, we are finding it a helpful resource for training graduate students in Speech Language Pathology in their diagnostics as well as their AAC course.

The presentation/ tutorial has features that are important for both online learning and for self study:

  • linkable information that goes out to increasingly rich levels of media (video, more directions, downloads)
  • solid navigation tools inside the tutorial
  • a uniform look and feel to the whole user experience

I hope you find this resource useful and consider the importance of this topic.

Download the tango tutorial in MS PowerPoint

Click the image or here to go to the online flash version.

June 30, 2008 Posted by | AAC, AT, Special Education | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Downloading YouTube Videos for Education

by Samuel Sennott

YouTube is very likely blocked at your school. No the debate on viral video will not ensue. Instead we focus on application of YouTube in general and special education, specifically as a way for teachers of AAC users to help build background knowledge and to provide writing motivation. Let’s discuss both why we want to use YouTube videos in writing and how to download those videos in YouTube is in fact blocked where you are.

Students will be successful if they have a good accessible writing setup, writing strategy instruction, and the motivation to express themselves. YouTube videos can be a powerful way to engage students. Creating that feeling of “I just have to say something” may be elicited by the very funny videos of Gizmo Flushes or Eating Insects. Yet, others may be amazed by the Painting Elephant. Yet, others may be interested in sharing about the National Geographic Video Stream or the Discovery Channel’s. Maybe your more sophisticated students might like to email a friend about the Museum of Modern Art’s YouTube Video Stream. The goal of all of this is to provide fuel for the writer, inspiring them to pick up their pencil, click away at the keyboard, or use their alternative pencil.

So, check out some videos we have screened the old fashioned way, by watching them.

Here are the directions (with screenshots) for how to download YouTube Videos for free:

Download the PDF:downloading-youtube-videos

Goal: To create a library of downloaded videos that can be used to build background knowledge or be written about.

GECO Your Way to Downloading and Using YouTube Videos in Education

o Ex…

  • Enter the URL of the video you want to convert
  • Convert the video to your preferred movie format using

o We like .mpg for use with PowerPoint!

o Modify the template with a title, etc.
o Insert your video in the right spot. Resize as necessary.
o Make sure to cite the URL on the back page.

Here is a PowerPoint template that you can use for student to write about the videos you download.

Download the PowerPoint Video Connection Template: videoconnectiontemplate52908

So have fun and get motivated this summer with YouTube, even if it is blocked at your school!

Installation of Richard Serra’s sculptures at MoMA

June 4, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, Literacy, Special Education, video, YouTube | 2 Comments

Ablenet How-To Videos: Step by Step with Levels

by Samuel Sennott

I have had creating a video guide to using a step switch on one of my someday/maybe task lists for a few weeks now. I meant to do this in response to how much trouble people have with using this device, especially when they are learning about both the old and new styles. I was very pleased to stumble upon a set of how-to-videos that highlight a number of Ablenet products. I think this is a terrific resource for AAC or AT labs in SLP, Special Education, AT, OT, and any other teacher training programs that benefit from clear and easily shared training resources. Thanks Ablenet! Click the link or image to play the video.

Step-By-Step with Levels Video

Here is the link to the How-to-Videos page on the Ablenet site:

“How-To” Videos

All-Turn-It Spinner spacer
Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Battery Device Adapter with Jelly Beamer spacer
Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
BIG & LITTLE Step-By-Step communicator spacer
Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
BIG & LITTLEmack communicator Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
BookWorm literacy tool Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
CRUISE adapted trackpad Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
FL4SH scanning communicator Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
iTalk2 communicator Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Jelly Beamer wireless switch Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Mounting systems Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
PowerLink 3 control unit Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
ROCK adapted joystick spacer
Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Battery-Operated Scissors with Jelly Bean switch spacer
Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Sensitrac pad with Adjustable Arm spacer
Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Switch Latch and Timers (SLATs) Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Step-By-Step with Levels Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
SuperTalker progressive communicator Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Talking Symbols notepads Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
WAVE adapted trackball Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon

FL4SH – In-Use Videos

The Out-of-the-Box Experience spacer
Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
FL4SH – A Scanning Communicator spacer
Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Automatic Overlay Detection spacer
Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Building Language Libraries Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
FL4SH’s Adjustable Viewing Angle Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Frame Lighting – SEE What You’re Saying Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
FL4SH’s External Messages Jack Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Flexible Communication Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Ease of Use Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
The Benefits of FL4SH Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
An Unexpected Benefit Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon

Flip – In-Use Videos

Easy to Use spacer
Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Easy to Set Up spacer
Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Quiet and Convenient spacer
Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Accessibility Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Flexibility Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon
Shipping Details Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon

Personal Story Videos

Josh’s Story Quicktime Movie Quicktime Icon

June 2, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, inclusion, inspiration, Literacy, Special Education, teacher training, video | , , , , | 1 Comment

Ablenet Product Image Bank

by Samuel Sennott

Have you ever took a picture of a Step-by-Step Switch by Ablenet? How about a Jelly Bean Switch or a All-Turn It Spinner. You may search for these things with Google Images. I just stumbled upon the image bank that Ablenet offers. It is great to see companies starting to anticipate both teacher and distributor needs in this way. Click on the the link to check it out.

June 2, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Ablenet, Assistive Technology, AT, Special Education | Leave a comment

2nd Generation OLPC Laptop has Dual Touchscreens

by Samuel Sennott

The new dual touchscreen XO

Things are changing. The second generation OLPC laptop will have dual touchscreens and will be designed to function like a book. What does this mean for early childhood education, special education, and augmentative and alternative communication? Over the course of this summer, we will be exploring this with the goal of being ready for these new technologies. Also, the goal is to be able to play a part in the universal design for learning of this powerful new initiative. For now, enjoy the pictures of this upcoming device.

New XO in typing mode

This opens up amazing possibilities for customized keyboards for all kinds of learners!

Friends playing New XO

Let’s Chat!

Overall, this is probably the best news we could have heard. As many of us have been holding the OLPC touchscreen vigil, the time is here. Much thanks to Pixel Qi for pushing the hardware design to new levels. AAC stakeholders may be interested in their new motto: The future of portable computing is all about the screen.

Additionally, many will be interested to note that Windows XP will be available on the XO.

I originally read about the update to the OLPC at: Xcomony.

This picture is inspirational when considering the accessible books project we are working on!

Here is a portion of the presentation announcing the update.

Other Related Articles

  1. PC World
  2. OLPC News

May 21, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Access, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, CAST, ebooks, inspiration, Literacy, OLPC, One to One Computing, OTOT, Special Education, writing, xo | Leave a comment

UDL Editions from CAST and Google

Sent for submission by CAST

CAST Joins Google and Partners to Celebrate World Book Day

Releases innovative literacy tools to support reading and learning from books, websites

In partnership with Google, CAST today celebrated World Book Day, April 23, 2008, by introducing two new online literacy tools that provide robust, embedded learning supports for readers at all levels. UDL Editions by CAST ( <> ) are classics from world literature in a flexible online interface that supports and engages novice and expert readers alike. CAST Strategy Tutor ( <> ) offers adolescent readers customizable mentoring and support as they conduct Internet research and read websites.

Both UDL Editions and Strategy Tutor draw on CAST’s two decades of research and development of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), an approach to creating inclusive educational environments that lower barriers to learning and while supporting learners’ individual skills, abilities, and interests. Carnegie Corporation of New York provided funding, and both projects are featured presentations of the Google Literacy Project (, a joint nonprofit venture of Google, LitCam, and UNESCO, as part of its World Book Day Innovative Projects page.

The UDL Editions by CAST ( render classic texts from world literature in a flexible online interface that provides just-in-time, individualized supports for struggling readers, and added-value features that engage novice and expert readers alike. Texts include English language works by Jack London, Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, and Edgar Allen Poe, as well as the Spanish-language classic, The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes. Learning features include:

* Leveled supports to build reading strategies and help readers understand the elements of the author’s craft;
* Texthelp® Toolbar for text-to-speech, highlighting and collecting highlights, dictionary and encyclopedia links, and translation between English and Spanish;
* Embedded coaches guide learners in strategic thinking and planning;
* Context-specific multimedia glossaries and enrichment activities;
* Multimedia background resources, including story links to Google Maps.

The toolbar created by Texthelp Systems, Inc., a leading developer of literacy support software solutions with offices in the U.K. and United States, expands access for all individuals, including Spanish language text-to-speech and other features for Lazarillo.

CAST Strategy Tutor ( <> ) is an online multimedia program that provides diverse adolescent learners with customizable mentoring and support as they conduct Internet research, and teachers with supports for using Web-based resources more effectively in the classroom. Strategy Tutor helps students read, research, collect and understand information better and more efficiently.

Students can store all notes in a personal, sortable electronic worklog that can be viewed from any computer. Teachers can access professional development resources, such as a database of teacher-created lessons, and create their own strategy-supported lessons. Get help from embedded coaches there to guide both students and teachers.

May 21, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, CAST, ebooks, Google, inclusion, inspiration, Literacy, Special Education, writing | 2 Comments

Photo Ball for Story Telling

by Samuel Sennott

Check out the Talking Photo Ball by Brookstones for creating a simple four location story telling voice output device.

Each of the four sides has a switch that can hold a recorded message. This could be a helpful tool for sharing short co-planned sequenced social scripts for direct selectors. Theoretically you could switch adapt each of the four switches. For the reasonable $15 price tag, I might get out the soldering iron myself and give it a try.

One drawback is that the switch tops are removable and could be a constant temptation to pull off. Definitely check this out next time you are in a mall, as sky is the limit with ideas for this tool. Here are six:

  1. Use it to send home a story from the day. Print out four pictures and co-construct the script.
  2. Write four line poems and put the text from each of the lines on each of the four sides.
  3. Buy 7 of them for $105 and you can put one letter of the alphabet on the sides. Countless games can be made up with this from taking all the caps off and matching them back on, to using it in a game with alphabet key words.
  4. Try putting the weeks word wall words and chants on them and use them during your word wall instructional time.
  5. Use it for providing key lesson instructions that student may want to hear repeated.
  6. Use it during the memorization or reminder phases of writing strategy instruction.

Feel free to leave more ideas in the comments section.

May 19, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, Co-Planned Sequenced Social Scripts, Literacy, Special Education, writing | Leave a comment

Back to Basics with the SETT Framework

by Samuel Sennott

As we begin to consider closing the gap in teacher training regarding assistive technology curriculum, it is important to focus on the basics and work outward from a firm foundation. To me that involves reading and working the SETT Framework by Joy Zabala. Whether you are working from a case study or your classroom, the simple and effective way of thinking about assistive technology is invaluable for novice and experienced practitioners alike.

In the SETT Framework you:

Consider the Student, their needs, abilities, and who they are.

The Environments they work in and all that must be considered surrounding that.

What Tasks will the student accomplish?

What Tools can help with those tasks? Which are best to try first?

Go to Joy Zabala’s Website:

Download the SETT Framework:

May 1, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, Special Education | 1 Comment

SETT Framework Templates

by Samuel Sennott

The SETT Framework, by Joy Zabala, a popular consideration framework in the field of assistive technology, a subset of special education, has made a significant impact since its inception in 1995. It has also made a significant impact on me personally as a practitioner. SETT stands for Student, Environment, Task(s), Tools and is meant to help in the assistive technology consideration process.

Here are some simple Templates that I have created and find especially useful to provide to teams helping gather information previous to an assistive technology evaluation.

Letter Size

the-sett-framework Template Letter Size

3 by 5 Card Size

3 by 5 Index Card Size: sett-notecard-1

3 by 5 Card Size (Four Cards)


Direct Download of the SETT Framework Paper:

small apple with leaf 2002 Update of the SETT Framework

April 10, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Access, Accessibility, AT | , | Leave a comment

IconSpeak for the XO

by Samuel Sennott

Update New Site:

Current Article:

IconSpeak is the first attempts at a dynamic display augmentative communication software for the XO laptop. Recently, I posted about Speak, which IconSpeak is built on. Check out the main screen, as of Thursday 4/3/08:

IconSpeak Main Screenshot

You can see that there are sign language based icons, mixed with English words. Most of the cells, or buttons, link to additional pages. Check out the “eat” page.

IconSpeak Eat Page Screenshot

You can move the cursor to the cell, click it, and the word that corresponds with the icon moves to the message window at the top. You can then activate the play icon for the message window to speak.

Presently,  it does automatically clear the message window when you speak a message with the play button. Yet, if you make a mistake by entering a wrong icon, you will need to backspace on the keyboard to clear the display.  For those not familiar with the most popular AAC softwares, check out theseProxy-Connection: keep-alive
Cache-Control: max-age=0

hots from Speaking Dynamically Pro, Dynavox, PRC’s Unity software, and the newest Tango software respectively:

pwp shot

SDPro running the Picture Word Power Set (above) Video Demo

dv series screenshot

Dynavox Series 5 Software (above)

vantage core

PRC Unity 45 Location Overlay (above)

tango category screenshot

Blink-Twice’s Tango Software (above)

So it is very clear to see that compared to the much refined commercial softwares, the initial prototype for IconSpeak still needs some work. Also, two switch step scanning needs to be considered for this software. Using tab or the arrow keys helps you navigate, but enter, the logical key command for entry does not work. There may be another key command I did not try that works, but nonetheless switch scanning would be a welcome addition to future builds. Features like switch scanning are representative of much more for this software to be fully valuable to a broad range of users.

Whatever the drawbacks, this software shows what is possible. This software release clearly demonstrates the potential for an open source AAC software running in Python on OSX and Windows. : ) The ability to quickly add your own images, ideally from the XO’s digital camera, would make it a potentially useful AAC tool very quickly. There is much more to be discussed about this software, but as they state on the wiki page that it will be updated rapidly, so we look forward to that and following the progress. So we watch, wait, and see if we can co-participate, knowing that the most important step is the successful release of a touch screen modification for the XO. It happened for the EEE PC.

verbs IconSpeak shot

April 3, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, OLPC, One to One Computing, Special Education, writing, xo | 4 Comments

iPhone SDK First Looks

by Samuel Sennott

iphone sdk icon

The iPhone SDK has been released! Why is this important? Because it could become a key platform for learning and communication tools for people with special needs. From a 9 location pragmatically organized communication set up for an elderly individual, right down to utilizing digital images and visual scene displays with our youngest learners, the iPhone/Touch may prove to be a more easily accessed avenue to the use of AAC and AT. Truly there are limitations at this time, but there are significant rumors about larger form factors and even the seemingly destined tablet. Some of the features are very exciting, like the ability to capture pictures and also the amazing multi-touch potential. One key feature of the SDK that could prove interesting is the iPhone emulator. While on one hand this is helpful for giving designers a chance to test their applications, on the other it is helpful because it gives a platform for running an application created for the iPhone for users to take advantage of.

See a picture gallery of the simulator here:

iphone simulator

Additionally, I see this tool and genre of tools being a key piece in the implementation of a one to one computing initiative. I look forward to dialogging with friends about this.

Watch the Presentation held on Thursday March 6th, 2008

jobs iphone sdk

Go to the Development Website:

March 7, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Accessibility, AT, iPhone, Special Education | Leave a comment

XO Keyboard Shortcuts

by Samuel Sennott

As I am preparing for a flurry of XO based posts, I just have to get some of it out. The one to one concept is exciting me as a teacher more and more. It is important for us to learn the operational commands for the tools we use. Check out some of the commands for the OLPC XO computer. Go here for the full page, which includes the combination keystrokes.

Keyboard Shortcuts


Jump to: navigation, search

This page is maintained by the OLPC team.

This page provides a listing of the agreed upon shortcuts for the system at large and for various controls within the activities, which should be referenced for consistency across them. For a high-level philosophical on the usage of various modifier keys, please refer to the HIG.

Please see cheat codes for a list of boot options.

For the general public

[edit] Special keys

  • the Ctrl key has a solid diamond on it (♦);
  • the Alt key has an open diamond on it (♢);
  • the Esc key has a white × inside a black circle (Esc.png);
  • the Tab key has double arrows on it (↹);
  • the Tilde key has a tilde on it (~);
  • the Frame key has an open rectangle on it (□);
  • the F1 key is the same as the Neighborhood view key (Mesh key f1 small.png);
  • the F2 key is the same as the Group view key (Friends key f2 small.png);
  • the F3 key is the same as the Home view key (Home key f3 small.png);
  • the F4 key is the same as the Activity view key (Activity key f4 small.png);
  • the Delete key is the same as Fn-Erase.
  • the Page Up key is the same as Fn-up-arrow (↑).
  • the Page Down key is the same as Fn-down-arrow (↓).
  • the Home key is the same as Fn-left-arrow (←).
  • the End key is the same as Fn-right-arrow (→).

March 5, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, OLPC, Special Education, xo | 1 Comment

Microsoft Word and Slater Software’s Free Online Symbol Resource-Video Podcast

An Podcast by Samuel Sennott.

Slater Software, creators of the excellent literacy and communication software, Picture It, generously offer a free online symbol resource search tool. Click here to to it:

slater logo

This assistive technology podcast demonstrates how to create a nine location augmentative communication board utilizing Microsoft Word and this free Literacy Support Picture Search Tool. First we create a button, or cell. Then that cell is changed from the default blue color, and the text is enabled and formatted to be centered. We then are free to add text, search for symbols at, and drag those symbols back into MS Word.
The advantage of using this resource is many people’s comfort level with Microsoft Word. A significant drawback of this resource for extensive use is the limited symbol searching capabilities. Slater Software’s Picture It software is a terrific resource to look at if you ready to take the next steps.

Download the 9 Location Microsoft Word Template Here: 9 Location Get Started

9 Location Get Started screenshot

Here is an example of a greetings and chatting board created using the method outlined in the podcast.

9 greeting ss

February 27, 2008 Posted by | AAC, AT, Literacy, writing | 3 Comments

Kicking off With Linda Burkhart’s Stepping Stones

by Samuel Sennott

Download the Coordinating Handout for the Workshop:

Two Switches for Success: Access for Children with Severe Physical and/or Multiple Challenges

Linda Burkhart’s Terrific Website:

Generous Offering of Handouts

LBurkhart ATIA 2008

Linda Burkhart starts the hour with redefining “errorless learning”, a term she has used often. She speaks about how for her it means a forum for learning filled with strategic and meaningful feedback where the child can problem solve during their efforts, focusing on active learning and experimentation. She speaks about a flooding into the field of a skewed look at the concept that speaks about just, “not letting the learner mess up.” For me, her teaching on this concept is forever tied with her classic story of the lady with the yellow umbrella. (not told this session) She shows this concept of active learning, so clearly during a later software demonstration showing informative feedback for an emerging two switch scanner stacking virtual blocks.

“How long do I teach cause and effect? Well, about ten minutes…for the year.” , says Linda. She tells us that children can get this concept very quickly, if we do the hard work of setting the environment so that the learner can, “get it.” We see some excellent video examples of children using the movements that they already have to “get it” and quickly move on to more cognitively engaging activities.

Some Clips from the Hour Session:

Stepping Stone One: Cause and Effect

Getting What the Movement it is: Cause and Effect: learning for yourself

Couple Software Pics:

Judy Lynne Software: Boombox

Marblesoft: Everybody has Feet by Bill Lynn

Getting it in Several Locations: a lot of things you can do and have fun doing it.

Goal: Practicing: Thousands of times with intent, purpose, and motivation

Two Switches Two Functions

Two Switch Step Scanning

Software Pics: Inclusive TLC: Switchit Wildlife

Stealth Switch: An affordable $70 (here at ATIA) switch interface that allows you to reprogram the switch inputs like the intelliswitch. Sold by Technology for Education Look for direct link asap.

Stealth Switch pic

Stealth Switch software interface.

stealth screenshot

January 31, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, ATIA2008 | 2 Comments

AAC Authors with Caroline Musselwhite

by Samuel Sennott

Thursday Morning ATIA 2008 9:45

AAC users as authors is a terrific concept that is incredibly exciting in this age of near instant publishing and really simple syndication. This workshop looks to be a terrific sampling of potent ideas to help us be better teachers of the writing process for our learners who use AAC.

Vocabulary Brainstorming & Rehearsal

Dr. Caroline Musselwhite is teaching us how to help students brainstorm a wide range of vocabulary. She tells about how she learned the technique from Dr. Karen Erickson. She show how creating a web of possible vocabulary is so helpful to fuel the authoring process.

Eye Gaze and Partner Assisted Writing Templates

Use the eye gaze frames and auditory scanning templates loaded with writing set ups that provide tons of vocabulary to use during drafting. This connects with the pragmatically organized communication displays that Linda Burkhart just showed, made by Gayle Porter.

Book Pick

Children with Disabilities: Reading and Writing the Four Blocks Way by Karen Erickson and David Koppenhaver

4 blocks book sn

10:04 AM

Caroline tells about the portion of the Learning Magic website that helps with the connecting of  the Raps stories into your literacy curriculum.

 Performing Your Works

Seeing the pictures of the young children looking up at the AAC authors presenting their creative writing really drove home the point.   What an empowering process this is!

I am super inspired by this workshop and look forward to the writing camp we are hosting at Nova this summer!

Final video of an AAC author presenting on stage!

10:15 close

January 31, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, ATIA2008, inspiration, Literacy, OTOT, Special Education, writing | Leave a comment

MacSpeech Dictate: Pogue’s Take

by Samuel Sennott

With MacSpeech Dictate set to come out next month, there is quite the excitement. New York Times Technology columnist David Pogue has a simple review that may be helpful for sending to that special educator or Apple enthusiast that could benefit from learning about the upcoming software release. Also, it could be useful to send to that special education director to explain the widespread benefit of easy to configure and highly accurate speech recognition.

Here is the link to the video podcast.

pogue dictate shot

January 29, 2008 Posted by | Access, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, Literacy, MacSpeech Dictate, OS X, Special Education, writing | Leave a comment

Widgets: Alltogether Widgets

by Samuel Sennott

Widgets are small applications that are helpful. In this series of posts, we will describe how they are helpful in three categories of ways. We will look at: widgets for personal productivity, widgets for many different student applications from book readers to digital turntables, and we will also look at how Widgets may affect the way we interact with the web, such as in social networking and iGoogle.

You may have first heard about Widgets when Apple incorporated them into the Dashboard component of OS X 10.4, Tiger. They were quite the buzz. Since then, things have really blown up. Between Facebook, Myspace, and Google alone, Widgets are big business.

Why should we be interested in Widgets? On one level, they can increase our productivity. Just consider how useful iGoogle can be. I remember reading about it on the CoolCat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis and instantly realized how many microseconds I save, not opening up GMAIL, my reader, going to the news, this or that blog, opening up Google Scholar, my university’s library link, etc. Now I simply set up iGoogle as my home page and everything I formerly went to regularly on the web comes to me. Not just my RSS feeds come to me, but nearly everything I do, step by step, I add as a Widget. For me this is very similar to the launchers and visual scene displays we create for our students. : ) Again, much thanks for AT not only helping my students, but helping me in my life and my work helping students.!

Here is a look at my iGoogle page. Note the Zero inbox! : )

igoogle look

Check out iGoogle and note how you can take advantage of the Tabs to create separate, manageable spaces.

Here are two useful widgets to stay current with this blog. Special thanks to Mark Coppin for the Creation of the cool Apple Dashboard Widget.

alltogether.wordpress iGoogle Widget Click on the icon.

Add to Google

alltogether.wordpress Apple Dashboard Widget Click to Download.

alltogether.wordpress Apple Dashboard Widget

Look for the next installment of the Widget Series: Digital Instruments and Widgets. For a sneak peak, check out the turntable set up here.

January 27, 2008 Posted by | Access, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, iGoogle, productivity, Special Education, widgets | 3 Comments

Get in Touch with Your Wild Self and Write!

by Samuel Sennott

So its Friday afternoon and your students are getting a little wild. Go with it! In fact, go right to and have them create their wild selves. Here is my wildself that I made.
sam wild self

What a terrific fuel for creating a story. With countless options for a character and a number of good backgrounds, you really do have a neat creative tool. Thanks to Flash, there is decent two switch step scanning built-in. The click, clack sound designed in by the programmers is appreciated as well.

Nice literary connection with Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak .

So now that you have your main character, how about describing them with some of your vocabulary you are practicing on your AAC device. Wait, how about making a few more characters for your story. Too much scanning effort, try the Go Random Feature to create other characters with one press.

An additional feature is the multimodal aspects of this web application: there are many sound effects. The character I randomly generated now is surrounded by laughter samples that are actually making me laugh! The next one I just did created an ambient underwater sound.

So in closing what a great multi-level and simple tool to share with your students or other teachers. Children of all ages will enjoy this and even some teenagers might get into it as an abstraction tool. I read about this on the site and first heard about that site from the Tech Savvy Educator blog.

So go wild!

January 25, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Access, Accessibility, art, Assistive Technology, AT, ebooks, family, Literacy, Special Education, writing | Leave a comment

AAC Intervention Tip of the Month

by Samuel Sennott

Have you ever checked out the excellent resources at the AAC Intervention website by Dr. Caroline Musselwhite and Julie Maro? The tip of the month feature is terrific. I have found fabulous and very useful resources there, including literacy support materials, simple accessibility ideas, AAC resources, AT resources, and more.

The archives go back to 1999, so definitely go digging!

Here is the 2007 archive.

January 2007 Barrier Communication Games for AAC Users July 2007Matching Activities to Standards
February 2007Wiley and Durrell List – On Steroids! August 2007Tech Tips and Social Scripts
March 2007Conversation Parts September 2007 Songboards as Visual Supports
April 2007WAV * AIFF * MP3 * MP4 * WMA * M4A – Managing Sound Files October 2007Honey, Not Vinegar
May 2007iTunes for Us

Ten Terrific Reasons to Use iTunes

November 2007Talk of the Town
June 2007Rhyme, Rhythm, Repetition December 2007


January 2006 – AAC Device Tracking July 2006Songboard Websites
February 2006Moving and Grooving and Talking! August 2006Initial Letter Cueing
March 2006Talking Everywhere September 2006Fire House Stories
April 2006Story Scripts October 2006Halloween Wheels
May 2006Collections November 2006330 Top Sight Words
June 2006Mealtime Placemat December 2006Regional Geography

January 21, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, inspiration, Literacy, Special Education, writing | Leave a comment

Listening to Research as MP3 Files on Your iWhatever

by Samuel Sennott

I have been listening to PDF research articles converted to MP3 files on my iPhone on my early morning walk, in the car, and in the evening working out. As teachers of many kinds, we work hard serving our students. We work tirelessly preparing, teaching, caring, and assessing. Many of us are working on degrees at night and on the weekends(Ya Simmons AT). Do you ever resent that professional journal that comes in the mail? I really love sitting down and reading research in my interest area when I have the time and space. Yet, as my teaching interests call me deeper into my academic pursuits, I find myself facing a crunch. Leveraging knowledge of assistive learning technologies to benefit ourselves is very helpful.

There are many different software solutions for this task including:

  1. Kurzweil 3000
  2. Texthelp’s Read and Write Gold
  3. TextAloud
  4. iSpeak It
  5. iThomas (That’s when you get your friend to read it to you as your falling asleep)

I have been digging around for few weeks and finally found a free resource that is working quite nicely. Thank you very much .

spoken text diagram

This free resource has a decent sounding voice and is sent to you in your email in a timely manner. There is much to speak about this terrific Read/Write Web application. From busy parents receiving the newsletter as an MP3 attachment to a cool way to help kids access articles on the web to graduate students being able to read and incorporate those stereotypical five research articles for their review, this technology can help. What other applications do you use for this? Ideas for use?

January 17, 2008 Posted by | Access, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, ebooks, family, GoogleDocs, Special Education | 13 Comments

Dragon Naturally Speaking for Mac

by Samuel Sennott

What terrific news!  The best voice recognition software comes to OS X.

Blue curtains

ITWire reports that Dragon Naturally Speaking will be released for OS X by Macspeech, replacing iListen.  ilistenSignificant discounts will be given to licensed iListen users.  So start digging into those AT Team boxes and scour the attic, basement, or wherever your old software lurks.  Early rumors are that the voice training may be easier than ever.  February is given as a release date.  Maybe it will be at ATIA.

January 16, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Access, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, inspiration, Literacy, Special Education, writing | 5 Comments

Apple Announcements

By Samuel Sennott

Were you hoping for the Apple PDA/Tablet with a 1.5 times form factor as the iPhone? I sure was and my hopes were dashed. I was also dreaming a bit, hoping for the Macbook tablet. Yet, based on the evidence described today, I think it is on the way. The new Macbook Air, the last of the big keynote announcements today, incorporates multi-touch technology in the trackpad. Touch technologies of this kind are not only hardware based, but software as well. The fact that Apple has the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and now increasing touch capabilities in the laptops gives hope for this.

Nonetheless, it was exciting hearing the Macworld updates today.

Watch the Keynote

I like the Time Capsule the best! It is a 500GB or 1 TB wireless hard drive/ airport extreme device that both backs up your Mac, as well as provides an innovative storage solution. No more slepping SDPro Boards or Audacity tweaked language banked samples around on flash memory every few minutes! Just kidding.

Yet, did you see the MacBook Air? macbook air

Can you really believe how thin it is? Check out the Macrumors article with some great enlargable images. Anyway, the solid state hard drive is the feature of the biggest interest to me. That means it is flash memory and not the spinning drives, we are used to. Much more durable for AAC devices and laptops for children.

The Apple movie rental system could be cool for many individuals with special needs. The integration between the OS and the many portable options is very nice.

Yet, the big one for assistive technology is the February release date of the developers kit. On your mark get set… Seriously, the newest Apple technologies give us hope, because of the literacy connections and the AAC connections similar to those described in the recent study: Children’s ideas for the design of AAC assistive technologies for young children with complex communication needs.

What do you think of the updates?

January 15, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, conference, Literacy, OLPC, One to One Computing, OS X, OTOT, Special Education, Uncategorized | 5 Comments