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AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL

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

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

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

Macworld: What Will It Bring?

by Samuel Sennott

Macworld

I am so excited about the Macworld Expo keynote tomorrow. Out of all the possible new products, I am really hoping for the release of an Apple tablet. It seems unlikely at this time, yet I think it would be so terrific for special education. The research and practice I am doing considering Visual Scene Displays for AAC and literacy applications really is pointing to having touch displays as an option for a wide variety of learners in early childhood. I am excited to share my recent work on the subject at ATIA 2008.

Other bets for tomorrow are the ultra slim laptop release and a wireless hard drive system. Also, there should be some iPhone news too. Looking forward to the developers kit too. ; ) Anyway, it should be interesting to see if they announce any new educational programs. I can hardly wait to tomorrow to read the updates at http://www.macrumors.com and see the keynote at http://www.apple.com.

January 14, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, Literacy, OS X, Special Education, Uncategorized | 2 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

Color Talking Word Wall Template with Apple OS X

by Samuel Sennott

Good news! TextEdit does allow you to color the cells in a Table.

color word wall shot

I provided directions in a section of the updated guide to using the Talking Word Walls. Here is the text from the mixed(visual and text) directions:

Part Two: Working with the Colored Template

1. The colored TextEdit template is a bit different from the standard template because you must use a Table to be able to color the background of each word.
2. Check out the file WW Color Doltch 15 Example. You can see what a finished product looks like. Notice how we now have a Table and that each work has a cell inside the table. The unfortunate thing is that you cannot easily add cells. So our template allows for five words per letter. If you plan on having more, please make the adjustments ahead of time!

3. To create your own, use the template: Word Wall Color Blank Template. Add your words. Note that the template is set up for 22 Point Comic Sans MS Font. Adjust according to your needs and monitor.

4. To change the color in each cell go to: Format: Text: Table.

5. Go to the Cell Background and Select Color Fill. Choose the color bar right next to it and select the color you would like.

Download the Updated Guide: Word Wall Updated Guide Parts 1,2

The Color Template and Example: @ the OTOT site.

To make this better in the future, it would be terrific to find a way to add cells or rows into a Table in TextEdit. Also, future directions are to create guides for creating walls like this into SD Pro powered AAC systems, as well as for use in ICS 3/4, on Series 4 and 5 Devices from Dynavox, PRC Devices, and more importantly, easy use in a Windows Environment.

January 9, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, Literacy, OS X, Special Education, Uncategorized, writing | 8 Comments

Apple Computers Allow Talking Word Wall

by Samuel Sennott

You can utilize the OSX Voice over feature to create a personalized word wall system that has simple text to speech by clicking or arrowing into the letters or words on the word wall.

TTS Word Wall pic

Doing a daily word wall practice as part of a systematic phonics instructional program is a terrific way to provide the exposure, anchoring, and visual memory connections to the high frequency words of the language your learners read and write in.

Download the guide at the OTOT wikispace. Here.

ww tts guide pic

Enclosed is the Dolch list in alphabetic and frequency orders, the template, the guide, and sample word wall with the first fifteen words in Karen Erickson and Gretchen Hanser’s Literacy Through Unity 45 Location systematic phonics instruction program for learners who use augmentative communication.

On the QIAT Listserv, Ruth Fuller brought up the excellent idea of how cool this concept is on an interactive whiteboard. Gosh, Word Wall goes high tech! I bet if we change those voices around to the hysterical or robot, you could have quite the Friday Word Wall Sessions! Anyway, here is a mockup:

smartboard mockup

I think it would be cool if you could have the color coding aspects.  To color the text is not hard, but to do the color blocks behind the words presents a formidable challenge.  It would be terrific if you could color the background of each cell in a table.  Oh, wait.  you can, as I just figured it out.  Look for an update soon.

January 8, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, Literacy, OS X, OTOT, Special Education, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

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

Simple Switch Scanning and Voice Output in MS Word 2004 for OSX

Download the Guide: Simple Switch Scanning in MS Word

Wow, I knew Word was cool, but this one got me.

In the Mac OS X version of Word 2004, open up the Speech toolbar by going to View: Toolbars: Speech.

Now open up a chart, like the one I have attached (This one is a reading overlay).  Click on the first grid. Now position the mouse over the Speak Selection button on the Speech toolbar.  Now you can have one switch set to tab and the other switch set to  click.

Tab, tab, tab, speak!
MS Word Scanning

Kind of cool right?  I wonder how this can be used?  It does not have an auditory preview, but if you could rig the switches so that one switch split and went to both tab and speak, that could hypothetically give you the preview.  Then when you hit the second other switch it would speak it again.  You may have to use two switch interfaces, though. Hmm…what else?

June 12, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Access, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, family, inspiration, Literacy, OS X | 2 Comments

On-Screen Keyboard in OS X

Do you know how to activate the on-screen keyboard in Mac OS X? Here is a pdf of a visual guide to the process. On-Screen Keyboard in OS X

In Leopard, OS 10.5, I had a bug that made the Keyboard Viewer not availabe in the Input Menu.  I looked up a fix for this where you paste a few lines of code into Terminal.  http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1896?viewlocale=en_US

June 8, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Access, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, Literacy, OS X, Uncategorized | 1 Comment