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: http://store.ablenetinc.com/press/multimedia.aspx
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.
By Samuel Charles Sennott
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.
By Samuel Charles Sennott
Please listen to the NPR interview with Daniel Habib about the new documentary Including Samuel. See the documentary website.
Every once in a while something really hits you, something really speaks to you. This month marks ten years since I walked through the doors of The Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center. I am so thankful that they accepted me as a volunteer, then staff member. I remember being at the crafts table starting out, helping. I remember the children I held, that I chased after on the playground, the individuals that I helped feed, the terrific outings that we took to the movies, bowling, and more. A most special thing in this world is to feel loved, accepted, and part of a community. The Respite Center is that. When you walk in those doors you feel love. It may be in the form of a question like, “Do you have a car, a dog…?” It may be in the fun and joy the children and adults experience at the center. It may be the feeling the parents have knowing their children are safe, cared for and all together having a terrific time. It may be the joy of service the remarkable staff experience. However it manifests, you feel it.
When I listened to the NPR interview with Daniel Habib this evening, I was deeply moved by it. After a couple listens, I was intrigued by the statement made by the Syracuse Dean saying the most inclusive place was the family. I recognize the power and insight of that statement.
A defining question for an educator is what would you want for your child. It is a question that cuts deep through façade.
The love and acceptance felt at the Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center in Hopkinton is exemplary. It is like having a second family. Hearing in the interview how much Samuel’s family love and accept him is such a message. It is the same message that I heard from two parents as I closed out my time spent at the ASHA Convention this year. It is that they love their children and want the best for them. As I walked out with one of them, it put everything back into perspective. It made me feel in a way like I was back at the Respite Center with the families and their children.
This interview, although short, brings up the defining question in our field, “How do we seek this ‘best’?” First off it is an endless question. We will always be learning how to be better teachers, create better schools, and grow as people. Yet, the question of inclusion is real. It is a question I realize that I will now seek in an even more focused and tangible way. Yet, at the end of the day, it comes down to what Samuel’s mother said in the interview, that she did not want to be his therapist, but just his mother. It is also the same as what I heard from another parent that what good is it to be “smart”… if you don’t have any friends.
So to close this post, not the question, I reflect on this concept of family. You heard about the Respite Center. You heard about Samuel’s family and you heard about a few other caring parents. At ASHA we heard from the teacher in LA who worked in the hood and helped a group of high school students use writing to change themselves. I feel very strongly that we must come to realize that it is quite inappropriate to see this question as them and us. It is a question of we, because of that indiscriminate question, “What would you want for your child?’
Please listen to the NPR interview with Daniel Habib about the new documentary Including Samuel. Check out a twelve-minute clip of the movie here.
Video Podcast of this Entry in Memory of Michael.