AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL

Bookshelves Please Handout

by Samuel Sennott

Saturday’s workshop was outright terrific.  The participants excitement about the curriculum project, Bookshelves Please was tangible.  I look forward to sharing about the prototyping and more about the project.  For now, a few participants did not recieve the handout.  Here it is:  bookshelves-please-handout


October 20, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disney Interest Bookshelf

by Samuel Sennott

My friend and co-worker authored these Disney Interest books.

You can access the bookshelf here

September 8, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dalton Sherman, Dallas Schools, Enough Said, Watch the Video

by Samuel Sennott

The only things that need to be said are that Karen Janowski is my hero for always linking things like this and that the point of convergence going on in my life is way too much.

August 27, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Schuyler’s Monster

by Samuel Sennott

I highly recommend this book, Schuyler’s Monster, by Robert Rummel-Hudson. (Pronounced -Sky as in blue and -ler as in ler)

schuylers-monster book cover

Schuylers Monster book cover

Reading Schuyler’s Monster made me feel the same way I felt four years ago when I just happened to pick up the New York Times and read Is There a Place in Class for Thomas in the Sunday Magazine.  It made me feel the way I felt when I saw Including Samuel in Montreal at ISAAC three weeks ago.  It made me feel similar to how I felt the first time I heard Linda Burkhart speak at Closing the Gap.  It made me feel the way I felt when I heard Karen Erickson and David Koppenhaver at their summer Literacy in AAC seminar.

It made me cry.  It made me laugh.  It made me believe that what I am doing is right.  So if you are a parent, a friend, a speech pathologist, a student in speech or education, a director of “fill in the blank”, please consider reading this book.  It goes there.  Yet, sometimes, whether it is a gutsy move at a dinner with some friends, (multiple meanings), or leaving it all to live your dream, you just might have to go there.  So if you can’t get to this link at Amazon,  or you can’t hit up your local Barnes and Noble or Borders, check out the blog.

August 27, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , | 1 Comment

Accessible Books Launcher

by Samuel Sennott

Do you have enough books?  Would you like some more?  How about links out to over a thousand books?  Here is a books launcher that was presented as part of the ISAAC 2008 pre-conference presentation I collaborated on with Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite titled, Writing Books for Beginning Readers . . . and Using Them to Support Real Reading.

Download the accessible-books-launcher in PDF Format

Link to a Two Switch Step Scan Capable Online Version

If you enjoy this resource and have other book websites, please email them to me at

As I am writing this post, I am at ISAAC at a presentation by Carole Goossens and it is so confirming to see her presenting on this same concept of using the launcher.  There really is something to using this framework.  While this particular launcher is meant as a teacher tool, look for big releases for this school year that are focused on independent student use.

August 7, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Gati Dicono (Italiano), Cats Say (English), (Arabic) القطة تقول

By Samuel Sennott

There is a great deal to share here in the coming months regarding the Books Please Project and its recent transformations.  That being said, this project is not just about the US and English, but about individuals from all around the world.  Check out the Italian, English, and Arabic Versions.

I Gati Dicono Meow

Cats Say Meow

Cats Say in Arabic

August 1, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Love the Wii and Adapting it Too

by Samuel Sennott

We have been playing the Nintendo Wii with children with special needs and have been having an amazing time.  Both for recreation and as a connection to the curriculum, it really is an amazing tool.  Seeing the virtual game worlds up on the big projector is pretty cool.  Our best integration is seen in a previous post about golf. There is much to share about the process we use, but for right now, one tip is to use tape or velcro to adapt the buttons.  Yes, if you have the $300 for the adapted controller, definitely check it out, but look for more posts on our adaptations.  We do some pretty wild stuff like swat at the controller, drop it, and use eye gaze to coridinate assistance.  Also, good luck getting one.  I was up very early at Best Buy on the Sunday morning we snagged ours!

July 22, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fablevision Books

by Samuel Sennott

Check out the Fablevision collection of books to read online.  You can find them at: .  There is some two switch accessibility with tab and enter.  Other than that you must use a mouse click.  There are some decent conventional texts here to explore.

The Adventures of Sticky Burr by John Lechner A comic adventure for all ages, featuring Sticky Burr, a little forest burr with a mind of his own. The adventure continues each week, so stay tuned!
The Blue Shoe by Peter H. Reynolds The classic story that inspired the award-winning film. It’s about one shoe’s quest for a sole mate and the choices made regarding personal relationships.
The Clever Stick by John Lechner
A fable about expressing oneself, and overcoming obstacles. It’s a story about life and art, featuring a very clever stick.
Living Forever by Peter H, Reynolds
A charming illustrative tale revolving around inspiration and creativity, dedicated to everybody who has contributed something to the world and to those who benefited by those contributions.
The North Star by Peter H. Reynolds
A touching tale of following one’s path. Peter uses whimsical metaphors and allegories to express the choices one makes in the journey of life. This story and philosophy is so big it’s got its own website!
Playing From The Heart by Peter H. Reynolds
Sometimes the promise of a skill doesn’t always mean a total life-calling. Things do have a way of working themselves out, though. Peter’s short story of a talented lad and his encouraging dad best describes that situation.

The Blue Shoe
by Peter H. Reynolds

Deep Spring
by Peter H. Reynolds

The Eyebrow Story
by Peter H. Reynolds

Benjamin’s Bowtie
by Noah Z. Jones

Download Classic Mac Version (ben.sit – 328k)
Download Windows Version ( – 312k)

Tess’s Tree
by Jess Brallier

by Delores Esposito

July 22, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Pogo Stylus for the iPhone

by Samuel Sennott

The Pogo iPhone Stylus

Stylus held in hand

The folks at Ten One Design were nice enough to send me a Pogo Stylus to do some testing it as an adaptive tool for using the iPhone. The reason why you need a special stylus is that the iPhone only works with your finger.  As Wikipedia eloquently states it, “Because the screen is a capacitive touchscreen, bare skin is required; a stylus or a normal glove prevents the necessary electrical conductivity.[34][35][36][37]

When we corresponded, they connected me with a user who had physical disabilities who was testing it for them.  During my own testing, I found this stylus to work terrifically when I used it holding it with my hands. Yet, know that you cannot extend the stylus, as it depends on the alloy for conductivity.  When I mounted it on varying head sticks, it did not work.  That could be corrected by using a longer stylus if they become available in the future.

Overall I give this product a recommendation.  For people with physical impairments, this may be a great way to help them access the iPhone and iPod Touch.  For people without physical impairments, this also may be a great way to access these devices in a more exacting way.

Images from the site:

Click to Enlarge.

Pogo Stylus Tip
iPhone with Stylus Clipped onto iPhone Stylus on the edge

July 19, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

You Can Golf

by Samuel Sennott

So your summer camp is winding down, or maybe you are stuck inside in an extended year program.  Maybe your home with your children during a few weeks they have off from camp.  Why not take a golf break?  Make a day of it:  Do guided reading with the book about Tiger Woods.  Check out the videos from YouTube.  Talk about it.  Write about it.  Spell some words at the level the student is at.  Then break out the Nintendo Wii if you can get one and play 3 or 9 holes.  Take some pictures while your doing it and do some more writing later that day or another.  Enjoy!


Tiger Woods Cover From Book, Tiger Head shot, looking, and swinging
Tiger Woods Cover From Book, Tiger Head shot, looking, and swinging

Transitional Text





  • Use a graphic organizer to brainstorm what you want to write about.

Screenshot of Basic Web Graphic Organizer
Screenshot of Basic Web Graphic Organizer

Working With Words

Motivation Connection

  • Play Nintendo Wii Sports Golf.

external image 1859304076_b6cea6a05a.jpg?v=0
photo credit:

July 17, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ebook List Posted on ACOLUG

by Samuel Sennott

Russel Cross recently posted a great list of accessible books on the ACOLUG (Augmentative Communication Online Users Group) Listserv.  Check it out: – project gutenburg – html, text (FREE) – ebooks – Microsoft reader, Mobipocket, Adobe – University of Adelaide – html, txt (FREE) – ereader – ereader format (use with Palm, Mob, Mac, PC) – has best DRM I have seen IMHO – can copy as much as you like but must enter name and credit card number every time. – Microsoft reader, Mobipocket, Adobe, Palm reader, fiction wise reader? – Adobe, Microsoft reader – Microsoft, Palm – (FREE) – eReader, PDF, Plucker, iSilo, Doc, or zTXT (FREE) – Formats, so many it insane (FREE) – Memoware bookstore – many formats – Adobe (FREE) – huge list of pay sites using Adobe – romance & sci-fi – HTML, PDF,Rocket, REB, Microsoft Reader,Pocket PC PDA, Mobipocket, EBookman, Hiebook…p?CurrentPage=1 – PDFs (FREE) – Microsoft, Adobe, Palm – Rocket-eBook, Hiebook, Adobe PDF, MS-Reader, Mobipocket, iSilo, Franklin eBookMan, and Palm Doc. – Microsoft, Adobe, Palm – Microsoft, Rocket, Softbook – Microsoft PC Reader, Mobipocket – PDF, RTF, HTML (Free?)…oks/index.shtml – HTML (FREE but only Dr Who books?)…/en/Default.htm – Adobe, Microsoft, Mobipocket – html (FREE)

July 13, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WebAnywhere: A Screen Reader on the Go

by Samuel Sennott

Things are surely getting interesting with the release of WebAnywhere, the screen reader on the go. This just may be a sign of things shifting to the power of open source/ freeware and the University connection aspect of the AT work.  I look forward to speaking with some friends who are blind about this.  I was on and using this screen reader in less than one minute.  Check it out.

Pulled from various parts of their website, found at:

WebAnywhere:  A Screen reader on the go

Launch it: Try the WebAnywhere Alpha Release

A 2008 presentation by a team member on the project:

WebAnywhere: A Screen Reader On-the-Go, 2008

Presented by Jeffrey P. Bigham on 10/15/2007. Link: WebAnywhere PPT.

The cheat sheet:

You interact with WebAnywhere using the keyboard. A selection of keyboard commands that are currently supported is listed below. Pressing SHIFT in combination with them reverses the direction of the search, searching backward from the current cursor position instead of forward from it.

  • CTRL-L – move the cursor to the location box where you can type a URL to visit.
  • Arrow Down – read the next element on the page.
  • Arrow Up – read the previous element on the page.
  • CTRL-H – skip to the next heading.
  • CTRL-I – skip to the next input element.
  • CTRL-R – skip to the next row by cell when in a table.
  • CTRL-D – skip to the next column by cell when in a table.
  • Page Down – read continuously from the current position.
  • Home – read continuously, starting over from the beginning of the page.
  • CTRL – silence WebAnywhere and pause the system.

July 9, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Need for a Bookshelf/ Launcher

by Samuel Sennott

I envision a bookshelf/ launcher that is powerful, flexible, open and user friendly across multiple platforms.  It is so needed right now, but as we explode into the Bookshare age it will become vital. I have some pretty cool workups to share over the coming weeks, but see the one created for the Accessible Book Collection for a proof of concept:

July 8, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , | 2 Comments

Video Writing Setups

by Samuel Sennott

Check out the videos we have collected during our AAC writers camp. Below is pulled from the wikispace demo created as a part of the framework being developed.

To reiterate:

  1. You can so powerfully build background knowledge in the Guided Reading and Self Selected Reading Domains.
  2. Videos are a powerful motivator in the writing process, especially for beginning writers

Writing Setups

Under Construction, Check Back Frequently for Updates: 5.29.08
More Videos and Directions Have Been Added (Thanks Team) 6.4.08
You are at Writing Setups—————– Alternative Pencil Directions ————–Get Lesson Directions

Chart Writing









July 8, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , | Leave a comment

One to 180

by Samuel Sennott

One to One Thousand is a concept that I believe will powerfully help the field of special education. The basic premise is that if a thousand people each work for an hour on a project with agreed upon standards, then they can create something that one person working for a thousand hours, could never create. It gets pretty in-depth from there, but I am excited to share how the theory is shaping up in some upcoming presentations, papers, and webcasts.

That being said, it is fun watching the theory unfold over on the terrific collaboration between UNC’s Center for Literacy and Disability Studies and the Computer Science Department, the Tar Heel Reader. Look at how quickly an open source library of books is growing, by checking out a snip from a post on the site’s homepage:

“The graph below shows the amazing growth of the collection thanks to the contributions of many authors.

Total 4 14 20 66 164 180
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6

We’ve had 66111 page views from 1470 different computers worldwide.”

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

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

Tar Heel Reader: An Open Source Library of Talking Books

by Samuel Sennott

Children, teenagers, and adults need books to be able to learn to read and getting accessible books to them is the goal of the Tar Heel Reader. This open source library of books that are switch accessible, talking, internet accessible, and downloadable will grow exponentially due to the terrific job Gary Bishop, a computer scientist from UNC Chapel Hill, has done designing the Worpress powered interface. This combination of efforts between computer science and education is phenomenal. He presently teaches a course in Computer Science focused on accessible software and hardware. Karen Erickson, Gretchen Hanser and Gary Bishop have been meeting and collaborating for quite some time. It is inspiring to me to see as an example as I emerge into the research phase of my teaching practice. From earlier efforts from this team of computer scientists, The Tar Heel Typer and Dance Dance Revolution mods, to the present and into the future, they surely serve as a powerful example of what we can do as educators to team up with computer science programs. Karen Erickson and David Koppenhaver have worked tirelessly on the concept of creating accessible texts that are age appropriate, rich in quality, and powerful in the literacy instructional process. See the Beginning Literacy Framework by Karen Erickson, Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite, and Ruth Ziolkowski to understand types of texts helpful to early readers. This project has the potential to make texts available to people in a way only possible with the advent of the internet and the concepts behind the Read/Write web and Web 2.0.

I believe in this project and concept with all my heart and am more than happy to be now seeing it come into the world. As I step forward from teacher to both teacher and researcher, I have seen a very powerful lesson: combine your dreams, visions, gifts and technical skills with others who have other dreams, visions, gifts, and technical skills and you can create and help more than ever imagined.

So start getting these books to your students and start authoring. Remember if one thousand people each work for one hour on a project with agreed upon standards you can create…

Go to the Tar Heel Reader

Let’s See the Books and How it Works!

Here is how you choose a book.

Here is a page from a book:

You have multiple options for accessing the books:

  • on the web
  • download the PowerPoint File
  • Open Office Impress File
  • Flash File

Speech can be enabled or disabled.

Switch Scanning

Switch Scanners can access the books with various keystrokes, including most of they keys on the keyboard. (soon to be optimized to go forward and back)

The power of this project is in the exponential amount of material to be available for all types of individuals learning to read. I have been working on this concept quite a bit and I believe that this is a One to One Thousand scenario. One key concept is the availability of age appropriate texts on an unprecedented level.

Here is how the book building process works:

  • You use images from the Creative Commons section of Yahoo’s Flickr.

  • The images are automatically cited. See how it works here.
  • You add your text to each page you create.

  • Add some keyword tags, such as words about the content, if it is an enrichment, transitional, or conventional text, or anything else you would like.
  • Click to post your book. A talking book that is switch accessible and and able to be downloaded offline is created.
  • It is that simple. No more PP notes citations, large file problems, conversion nightmares! Hallelujah.

Let us rally behind this amazing project in a way never before seen! Let’s go! We can do it all together!

Go to the Tar Heel Reader

June 19, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Skateboarders Ride Transitional Book

by Samuel Sennott

As there is much big news to report on the accessible books front, I will be cleaning out the closet of all the drafted posts of this type. Check out this engaging book. Direct selectors can use the navigational arrows, and switch scanners can use the arrow keys to navigate.

Download the Book


Download the Talking Book


Build Background Knowledge and Writing Motivation with Videos

Skateboarding Bulldog Tyson
Skateboarding Tricks
2. (Super Slow Motion!)
3. Best Tricks Ever 2

June 19, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Bookshelf for the Accessibile Book Collections ICS Formatted Books

by Samuel Sennott

In the writing camp I have designed and am leading for AAC users, we have been utilizing the terrific Accessible Book Collection.  Many of you may know that Linda Bastiani Wilson, Darlene Brodbeck, and Patti Weismer have been leading a project to bring the picture books in the Accessible Book Collection into both Intellitools Classroom Suite and Clicker 5 formats.  This terrific project was presented at Closing the Gap in 2007.  Here is a bookshelf prototype I have designed that may prove to be useful to you if you have a membership to the collection.

Download the Directions and the Bookshelf:

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , | 3 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
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FL4SH – A Scanning Communicator spacer
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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
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Easy to Set Up spacer
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Quiet and Convenient spacer
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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