Monday, November 23, 2009

Assistive Technology-Module 3

Software Company Price Features
Inspiration Inspiration     Software, Inc. $69.00 for one license,          $895.00 for 20 licenses Concept Maps,    KWL, Charts,        Tree Diagrams
Kurzweil         3000 Kurzweil     Educational    Systems,       Cambium        Learning  Technologies Learn Station    $395,      Professional BW $1095,   Professional     Color $1495, Learning Lab     Pack BW $1995, Learning Lab     Pack Color $2695 The program           will read text             for the student,       rate of reading       and voice can be adjusted, Definitions can be heard for vocabulary,      Scanner   compatability
Windows Demos Microsoft Cost of       purchasing a PC Windows Touch, Magnifier, Accelerators,        Ease of Access Center
InfoEyes Mid-Illinois         Talking Book      Center Free Question and      answer service        for people with         visual       impairments

Software Good Bad
Inspiration Helps students       with learning      through visuals, training resources for teachers Costly to buy  licenses for many computers
Kurzweil 3000 Extra support for students who struggle with reading, writing, and study skills, training for     teachers Specific    Make/Model of scanners        required for    teachers to add    their material
Windows Demos Text read aloud, text enlarged, adjust magnifier, control without a keyboard or      mouse Not available for MacBook
InfoEyes iVocalize Software  is utilized, tips are provided for both the user and the communicator Scheduling is required for use

I can implement assistive technology in my school through various means.  Simple items such as pencil grippers or using a piece of paper to allow students to focus on one question at a time will help learners.  More extensive items can be used with children who have special needs.  An FM System is used by a student that was in my class last year so that she can hear her teachers with special hearing aides.  The  Occupational Therapist at my school uses a special putty for students to build up the strength in their hands.  In the library, magnifiers could be used for students who have visual difficulty.  There are endless ways to implement assistive technology and it is exciting that we live in a world where this technology is available!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Assistive Technology-Module 2

Hardware Selection


The Assistive Technology hardware selected is for students in an elementary school who are hard of hearing.  These students wear hearing aides and have sign language interpreters with them for every class they attend. 


The hardware choice selected is a Personal FM System.  This technology allows a student to wear special hearing aides while the teacher wears a microphone.  The teacher’s voice is transmitted to the hearing aides and amplified so that the student can hear what is being said.  The voice is transmitted at a constant level regardless of the distance between the teacher and student and background noise is diminished.  There is an auxiliary input that allows the FM system to be plugged into any audio source.  The cost is $609.00-$775 depending on the model selected.  It can be purchased through EnableMart at the following link:

The FM transmitter is easy to use and does not require much training.  There is an On/Off switch and there is a mute button for when the teacher wants to speak, but does not want the student to hear what is being said. The transmitter needs to be charged at the end of each school day.  Further, the student should switch from his or her regular hearing aides to the special hearing aides that come with the system.

Needs Assessment

The purpose of this technology is to enhance the teacher’s voice for the hard of hearing student.  It is a sturdy piece of hardware, mobile, and it can be used in a variety of situations within the school setting.  Students can learn both academics and social skills more effectively when they have the ability to hear.  This technology would not take the place of a sign language interpreter, but rather increase the understanding and comprehension of school activities.  A certified audiologist would evaluate and monitor the student as well as help fix the FM System if any technical issues arise.

The Personal FM System would be used during all instructional time during the school day.  The student would put the special hearing aides in as soon as he or she arrives to school and then give the microphone to the classroom teacher.  The FM system would then be used during classroom instruction time.  The teacher would have to be cognizant of when lessons transition from whole group instruction to small group instruction or individual help.  The FM System has a mute button that should be utilized when the instruction is not directed at the hard of hearing student, so that he or she can concentrate on tasks.  This system is extremely sensitive allowing the student to even hear a whisper by the teacher.  The FM System is very portable and would follow the student to all instructional classes such as Library, Music, Art, and Physical Education so that the instruction is amplified.  It would also be taken to Computer class and plugged directly into the computer so that sounds from the computer could be heard.      

The use of this technology would greatly help the hard of hearing student and he or she would feel appreciative that there is this kind of technology available.  Use of the sign language interpreter is important, but the FM System can allow the student to feel more independence in school.  The interpreter is always a little behind from what the teacher is saying and the hard of hearing student can feel behind from the rest of the class.  The FM System allows the student to comprehend what the teacher is saying in real time.  The interpreter and the FM System can work together to make sure that the hard of hearing student has access to all of the instruction occurring in every lesson.


Assistive Technology-Module 2

Assistive Technology Solutions
There are a plethora of solutions for assistive technology and a great number of devices that can help our special needs students.  As I browsed through the products on EnableMart I found several that would be useful accommodations for students at my school.  The Ergonomic Keyboards and Mice would be appropriate for our students who visit our Occupational Therapist for strength and coordination training.  The Desktop Video Magnifiers would be helpful for those students with low vision.  Finally, the Go Talk One message device would be a benefit for our Autistic students as they can hear the names for common objects.

Simple Accommodations in Three Situations
If I had to implement a simple accommodation to assist my students with processing or attention deficits I would provide them with copies of notes for my lessons so that they do not need to take notes, but could focus on what I was saying.  These students need to focus on the speaker, and would not be able to keep up if note taking were required.  For students that have an Occupational or Physical Therapist, a pencil gripper and thicker pencil could be provided.  These students struggle with handwriting, and this would be a simple way to enhance their writing tool.  Finally, for the deaf or hard of hearing students at my school I could make sure to reduce the background noise as much as possible, place these students in the front of the room, and make sure that all videos are closed captioned.  

Helpful Website and Assistive Technology Hardware
Watching the YouTube link about Leigh-Anne Tompkins was very eye opening.  She was born with a lack of oxygen, which led to cerebral palsy, but that disability did not stop her from graduating magna cum laude in Fine Arts.  She uses Assistive Technology to operate her computer and she even started her own company.  A software program provided her voice for the video and a track ball for her foot allowed her to create pictures on the computer.  It was absolutely amazing to see how far this woman had come and what she has already accomplished in her life!

I think that it is wonderful that there are so many Assistive Technology options for people with disabilities.  I know that there are many things I take for granted in my life and I didn't even realize the scope of what is available for people with disabilities.  It is so important for all students to have the same learning opportunities and AT hardware can provide that to them!



Sunday, November 15, 2009

Assistive Technology-Module 1

We have now moved into another area of study--Assistive Technology.  It is so interesting to read about and listen to people with disabilities and how they can overcome their struggles to live their lives everyday. I had a deaf child in my second grade class last year and was face to face with the challenges that arise just from daily living.  She opened my eyes to the possibilities that are out there and the determination that is required to experience life to the fullest.

The National Federation of the Blind's website is filled with programs to learn about Braille.  If I were introducing this to my students, I would love to get the Braille is Beautiful program because it is a hands-on program that teaches students an understanding toward blind people and that Braille can be fun.

I am sure that I would approach having a blind student in my room the same way I approached having a deaf student in my room.  I bought a bunch of books from Amazon about deaf children and books that had deaf children as main characters so that I could share them with my hearing students.  I also taught the rest of my class sign language whenever possible so that they could share in what was happening between the interpreter and the deaf student.  I would want my students to understand what it is like to be blind and to have an appreciation of what life is like with that disability.

I was glad to be introduced to the National Center for Learning Disabilities website and link for teachers.  As a second grade teacher, every year I am faced with a student (if not more) that has a learning disability.  This website will give me wonderful strategies to try out as well as different ways to reach the student.