Cheri Swalls sort of beat me to the punch with this week’s assignment when she gave you information about Help Read software that is a free text/web reader in her comment on the blog during Week 4. You can find information and a free download of Help Read (at http://www.ldpride.net/helpread.htm). There are other free text reading software programs on the Internet such as ReadPlease (at http://www.readplease.com/) and Natural Reader (at http://www.naturalreaders.com/) which have voices and options that are a bit better than Help Read. Both have a basic free version as well as a very inexpensive better version. Check them out!
Because the Internet is such a wealth of resource information I want all of you to do some exploring. I would like each of you to get on the Internet and search for an interesting web site that deals with some aspect of assistive technology. (Please find one we have not already discussed in conjunction with this course.) It can be a site that deals with AT (assistive technology) in general or be more specific and deal with AT in relation to communication, mobility, hearing, vision, autism, curriculum access or whatever is of interest or value to you and your students. Please post what you find on the blog as a comment and give a couple of sentences telling all of us what we should look for at “your” web site.
Although no comments are required this week, if you have something to say about the CDs, I would enjoy hearing what you think about them. I hope they are a good way to take a look, with some virtual hands-on activities, at several items that might help students access the curriculum and become more independent.
Throughout these three chapters in Computer Resources for People with Disabilities examples of people needing and benefiting from assistive technology are given. I’d like each of you to share some similar information. Tell us, briefly, about one person (student, peer, parent, grandparent, family member, etc.) who is using or has used some sort of assistive technology (it can be low tech, medium/elementary tech or high tech) to be successful at some things that they could not do otherwise. How did the AT improve their functional abilities, achievement and/or personal independence? Are there still problems that AT has not solved?
Read what everyone is telling us and share additional solutions and suggestions. This is a chance to brainstorm together and learn from each other.
The article, Special Education Assistive Technology Policies: Myth or Reality?, deals with medically necessary vs. educationally necessary assistive technology, among other things. Have any of you had problems with this in your schools? If so, how did you resolve the issue?
The second article, Assistive Technology for Young Children in Special Education, discusses “appropriate” education. How much mainstreaming or inclusion is going on in your schools, and how is it working for you and your students?
Please share hints (especially low tech ideas) that you have incorporated to make mainstreaming or inclusion work a little better or to make life easier for your students and staff.
This is also a good time to share some problems that you may be having with mainstreaming or inclusion. We can all pitch in to help brainstorm some possible solutions.
This week let’s discuss how you consider assistive technology (AT) at your school and/or in case conference committee meetings. Did the PATINS Case Conference Committee Consideration article or the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Intiative (WATI) Resource Guide I recommended in the email I sent out (This is listed on the Blogroll at the right or can be found online at http://www.wati.org/Products/pdf/resource%20guide%20-%20general.pdf) or the SETT framework (on page 7 of your workbook) give you any good ideas for “considering” assistive technology with your students?
I would like everyone to think about what Jackie Brand said in the video. “It’s a terribly frustrating thing to look at something that you know would change your life so enormously and be so powerful for you and to know it’s not to be because you don’t have the resources and the society has not decided that it’s important enough for you to have.” She is talking about knowing that there is technology out there that can help many students/people, but due to many different reasons, those students/people do not get that technology.
How does your school or district or cooperative deal with providing assistive technology for students and/or school personnel? What are some ways that are working and what are some ways that things could be improved? Remember that assistive technology can be expensive, so how would you, if you were an administrator, deal with those costs?
Let’s talk about what you think based upon what you learned from the video.
If you have any questions about the course work or assistive technology in general, please post them here in the questions category. Everyone can help to answer the questions that are posted.
Hi Everyone —
I am Tina Jones, and I will be the moderator of the discussion for the online Overview of Assistive Technology course. I have worked as the Southeast PATINS site coordinator for 12 years and every day has been different. There are always new things to learn, new problems to brainstorm for solutions, and new things to do with assistive technology. I am looking forward to hearing about each of you so please leave a comment with a brief introduction of yourself.