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AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL

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
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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 (http://udleditions.cast.org/ <http://udleditions.cast.org/> ) are classics from world literature in a flexible online interface that supports and engages novice and expert readers alike. CAST Strategy Tutor (http://cst.cast.org/ <http://cst.cast.org/> ) 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 (www.google.com/literacy), a joint nonprofit venture of Google, LitCam, and UNESCO, as part of its World Book Day Innovative Projects page.

The UDL Editions by CAST (http://udleditions.cast.org) 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 (http://cst.cast.org <http://cst.cast.org/> ) 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

Excellent Accessible Book List at TLWMN Blog

by Samuel Sennott

There is an excellent accessible book resource list posted by Kate Ahern at the Teaching Learners with Multiple Needs Blog. As part of my ongoing research regarding the subject, I am searching for accessible ebook lists, so please forward any you find. Here is the list on the TLWMN blog:

Alternate Format Books and Stories

Terrific, right? One to jump right into is Browser Books. It is great for two switch step scanners!

Definitely go onto the TLWMN blog to share your thanks for this generous list.

February 14, 2008 Posted by | AAC, ebooks, Literacy, Special Education, writing | 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 http://www.buildyourwildself.com 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 http://segatech.us/ 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

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  spokentext.net .

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

Reporting on the Low-Cost Multi-point Interactive Whiteboards Using the Wiimote

by Samuel Sennott

You can use your Wii remote, a projector, freely shared software, and some led light pens to create a multi-touch interactive whiteboard. I read about Johnny Chung Lee’s project on terrific Weblogg-ed and echo Will Richardson’s sentiment about how terrific it is to see the free and open source sharing involved in this project.  Check it all out here.

What can you do with this? It looks like pretty much all the basics you can do with a Promethean Board, mainly using a board as a large touch screen display.

I am very much interested in working myself into a position where I can collaborate with individuals in this sort of way. After being able to hack the iPhone into an AAC device and seeing the Tar Heel Typer, I am intrigued with the idea of collaborations between special education and computer science divisions at the university level.

I look forward to the next couple weeks of playing with this set up and seeing if the OS X version is released soon.

January 12, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Access, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, ebooks, inspiration, OS X, Special Education | 3 Comments

AAC: Display Characteristics That Support Aided Symbol Use: Color & Animation at ASHA

By Samuel Charles Sennott

Visual display shot 1visual display shot 2Visual Display shot 3visual display shot 4

This session foreshadows the influence that digital natives will have on the AAC systems and software systems we use in special education. Additionally, the research focus on clearing the unnecessary access challenges with traditional AAC systems is terrific. Seeing the presenter, Lacy Donofrio, speak about authoring her lessons in Flash was a moment I will mark in time. Our method of presentation will certainly change, as we are on the cusp of having very inexpensive displays and computing systems entering into our classrooms. The work of this team seemed to be one part brainstorm and one part research. It was terrific to see. What do you think will happen in special education over the next five years, as many more digital natives are at the helm of classrooms across the country? Here is the abstract from the presentation:

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC):
Display Characteristics That Support Aided Symbol Use: Color & Animation

Download the Handout Here

Presenters:
* Krista Wilkinson
Emerson Coll, Boston, MA
* John McCarthy
Ohio U, Athens, OH
* Lacey Donofrio
Ohio U, Athens, OH
* Janice C. Light
Pennsylvania St U, University Park, PA
* Michael Carlin
U of Massachusetts Med Sch, Waltham, MA
* Vinoth Jagaroo Ph.D.
Emerson Coll, Boston, MA
* Jennifer Thistle
Emerson Coll, Boston, MA

The speakers in this symposium will discuss how various physical characteristics of aided AAC displays might influence responding by children with or without disabilities. The first presentation examines whether PCS symbols that share a color are best arranged together (providing a subset within which to search) or distributed throughout a display (enhancing the salience of each symbol individually). The second presentation describes how animation can be exploited to facilitate scanning as an access method in visual scenes. The final presentation illustrates the utility of FLASH methodology for display construction. Clinical implications will be identified by the presenters and the discussant.
——

To me the most important component in this type of work is the connection to good teaching. Making good teaching and good learning more easy and prevalent is the goal. You could have a gold iPod that changed size to whatever you needed, but unless it has the good instructional concepts and tools, it is worthless. I liked the thought process of this group and definitely will look to see the work that comes from them in the future. : )

November 25, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Access, Assistive Technology, AT, ebooks, Literacy, Special Education, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

OLPC and AAC for the Developing World with Adam Bowker at ASHA 2007

By Samuel Charles Sennott

OLPC ASHA shot

This poster board session at ASHA was authored by Adam Bowker and Dr. Janice Light, both from Penn State. There is one powerful, clear message that was presented here: that you could never hand a child with disabilities something like a Dynavox Series 5 Device in a developing nation. Yet if everyone has XO’s and the learner with a communication disorder accesses it with switches it is no big deal. This is a strong message and chance for universal design. What do you think about that for AAC in the nation or nations that you care about in the world? What do you think about that for AAC in the United States?

I mistakenly forgot to take an image of the excellent poster, but here are the top resources for finding out about the OLPC project.

http://www.laptop.org The main project site

http://wiki.laptop.org The wiki site that provides in depth information, specific hardware specs, as well as ways to get involved such as the listservs and wikispace sections.

www.laptopgiving.org The best way to try one of these laptops out. The deal is that you donate one and you get one. $399 with an extended period to December 31rst.

Most importantly in the USA, this movement comes as a challenge to specialized instruction, ese, sped, whatever we name it. My interpretation of this movement is that we, the people who care deeply about the education of people with special needs, need to create and design the one laptop per child in the United States. It is certainly coming and it is up to us to be ahead of the curve in arguably the best chance we have at narrowing the gap.

Just think about the alternative: trying to retro fit what is created and given to us. I have been following part of the developments by monitoring the OLPC Project, the intiatives in the state of Maine, and the Intel Classmate.

The presenter, Adam Bowker, and I spoke about how excited we are for receiving the laptops, which are promised by OLPC before Christmas. The most promising use initially seems to be as a literacy tool for people who use AAC. The Tar Heel Typer can serve as an option for an electronic pencil and it will be great to look at the best way to port electronic books into the system. As soon as the devices are shipped it will be fun to look at this as an inexpensive way for people to connect to the Internet with their AAC devices, most notably Pathfinders, Vantage/Vanguard Devices, various Dynavox Devices, and the Tango.

Overall, this is the technical domain I am most encouraged by out of all the emerging technologies found in AT, The Read/Write Web/ Web2.0, and in Special Education. Additionally, it was terrific to see a well thought out and progressive presentation by the researcher, Adam Bowker. He is a second year doctoral student at Penn State and looks to have some notable and promising research interests.

November 25, 2007 Posted by | AAC, ASHA2007, Assistive Technology, AT, ebooks, inclusion, inspiration, Literacy, OLPC, OTOT, phonics, Special Education, Uncategorized, writing | 1 Comment

Digital Picture Frame with Switch Adapted Remote Control

by Samuel Sennott

Digital Picture Frame Screenshot 1

Have you seen a digital picture frame in a catalog, online, or in a store? This emerging technology will make a terrific book reader, photo browser, partner assisted communication tool, and electronic pencil. The good news is that they are quickly shifting to including a remote control with them. 🙂 That is wonderful, because we now have a wireless device to adapt much more easily than taking the whole unit apart! Truly, there will be units with sound very shortly, but until then, what a terrific way to read your PowerPoint books you made with Flickr, your books from the Accessible Book Collection, or whatever adapted books you can export as folders of JPGs.

How do you do this? Well, you need to have the soldering equipment and the switch jacks, but have no fear. The challenge is on for one of our favorite companies to provide this to us at a reasonable cost. Until then, on the assistive technology Ning site we are going to be working the project with a goal of providing directions, recommendations on the best digital picture frame, and a list of applications for the tool.

So, game on and let’s have some fun with this as we give something cool to the learners we serve! Also, feel free to put some pressure on the usual suspects…i.e.. RJ….Ablenet…Enabling…..Enablemart….

Oh, one last thing, this relates so much to the Visual Scene work and the Visual Storytelling work. Just consider how many different people with aphasia could benefit from having a tool like this to foster sharing, expression, and information transfer. I can’t wait to share the recent success we have been experiencing in this domain! Look for it in an upcoming post!

Digital Picture Frame Adapted Pencil Screenshot

November 10, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Access, art, Assistive Technology, AT, ebooks, family, Literacy, Uncategorized, writing | 4 Comments

50 Web 2.0 Tools to Tell a Story

by Samuel Sennott

alan levine blog ss

I think that I am going to send Alan Levine some sort of thank you gift. Maybe we should start a pool. Seriously, his wikispaces site highlighting 50 Web 2.0 Tools to Tell a Story is just terrific. This is a great way to share the multitude of tools available to that excited teacher. It is a place to simply let undergraduate students in teacher training in various courses explore. As I delve ever increasingly into the read/write web, I realize that it just goes on and on. There are some great literacy tools to explore on this list that who would have imagined in 1987? 1997? Yes, 2007 I expect it, but am still so wowed by the possibilities for our learners to express themselves and to explore what they are passionate about.

So share this list. We can work on baking Alan Levine a cake or something and let us see how these tools will be practically implemented with our learners. I leave you with this thought. In some ways, a list like this is dangerous. So many directions, options, and opportunities. What tool will we use, how long does it take to use it fluently, etc.? I say live dangerously and jump in, but jump in with the tool of the SETT framework and stay focused on good teaching and learning. Again, thanks goes out to authors like this, sharing resources we are all thinking and talking about.  The URL is: http://cogdogroo.wikispaces.com/StoryTools

November 8, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Access, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, ebooks, GoogleDocs, Literacy, writing | 2 Comments

Dogs by Samuel Sennott

dogs title page

As part of the initial preparations for an accessible books project called Books Please, check out this PowerPoint based book: Dogs, created using images from Flickr and the principles displayed in the Beginning Literacy Framework by Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite, Dr. Karen Erickson, and Ruth Ziolkowski.

Also, for those interested, this week, the excellent poetry contributions will be posted using the same format, as well as being available for download from the new One to One Thousand Wikispace.

Dogs by Samuel Sennott
http://docs.google.com/Present?docid=dfg8ptwg_16f26gv5&fs=true

Note the power of using the publishing feature of Google Docs. It will be terrific to see how this tool can help in both the book creation, but also in the publishing/distribution process.

download the powerpoint dogs powerpoint

download the pdf   Dogs by SCS

October 14, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, ebooks, GoogleDocs, Literacy, OTOT, Special Education | Leave a comment

iJailBreak for iPod Touch

by Samuel Sennott

iJailBreak is the automated tool that unlocks and enables your iPod Touch to use installer.app., the third party application installer. It has become very clear that the iPhone and iPod touch can be used as both an AAC device component inside of a holistic AAC system and as a terrific flexible learning tool. The rationale is this: Apple makes superior hardware and it is accessible in that many people already have it and if they don’t it is easy to obtain, i.e. The Apple Store, Best Buy, etc… Using this hardware with excellent software has great potential. What are the applications? Here is just one: when the iPhone and Touch connect to the new slim Apple Bluetooth keyboard, you will have a terrific way for students to type their papers for under $400. Not bad, considering you can also surf the web on your OSX powered mini-computer. Just think about what else you could do…

Do you appreciate the potential seen in the terrific program installer for the iPhone and iPod Touch? Installer.app has changed the way I see my work with children and adults with special needs. Seeing how the community of developers surrounding the iPhone and iPod hacking works has definitely made an impact on me in this way: seeing these folks work so hard on these open source projects for everyone to enjoy shows me ever more the power in working together.

iPhone 4 Blocks

October 14, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Access, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, ebooks, inspiration, Literacy, OS X, Special Education, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Using the iPhone for Digitizing Books

by Samuel Sennott

We started a E-Book project today that we are correlating with the Building Blocks kindergarten literacy framework. It is very exciting and I can’t wait to share more about it in the future.

So…have you ever come upon a flatbed scanner that seems to be a decendent of a tortoise? Well in our electronic book making project today, we sure did. It was a terrific first thing in the morning laugh. As we did not have anything else to use, I remembered someone posted on QIAT that Judith Sweeney of Onion Mountain Tech had been teaching using digital cameras for your turning books into electronic books. I have tried experimenting with this as well at times, but today it really clicked with me.

iphone

So we tried using the iPhone for taking pictures of the pages. It worked well:

  • Having good lighting was important.
  • Natural light worked better than the florescent.
  • Be still!
  • Downloading from the iPhone was easy. Just plug in USB, drag and drop.
  • The images were good enough quality for our use in PowerPoint and ICS based books, where we rewrite the text into a text box.
  • You could also use another comparable digital camera.

The result was a quick way to produce a decent accessible version of the book, without the labor intense file naming, page aligning, and mouse clicking often involved in scanning. What else have people experienced using cameras for digitizing books? What have you found to be the best resolutions and picture quality settings? We are constructing a guide and would love vicarious input!

Listen to This Blog Entry

September 18, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Access, Accessibility, AT, ebooks, family, OS X, photography, Special Education, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

5 PowerPoint Books

Check Out these PowerPoint books I created. They are inspired from the work we did at the Literacy in AAC Seminar with David Koppenhaver and Karen Erickson in June at University of Florida.
http://samuel.sennott.googlepages.com/
5 Books

August 13, 2007 Posted by | AAC, ebooks, Uncategorized | Leave a comment