Thursday, April 17, 2008

Don Johnston: Classmate Reader and Premier Assistive Toolkit Devices

Classmate Reader By Humanware and sold by Don Johnston Company

The Classmate Reader allows students to listen to audio version of text as well as follow a highlighted version on the screen. This allows multiple sensory input for learning support.The device reads from SD cards that are put in the reader. You can either use a crad reader to transfer files or use the included USB cable to do direct file transfer from a PC. The devcie is available for Windows only. The device has a talking dictionary, allows bookmarking, highlighting and voice recording. These are all helpful study tools for the student with print disabilities that need extra support.

The device has headphones, external speaker and a full-color screen that allows viewing by the studnt where the student sets preferences for font size and color, background colr, letter and line spacing and speed of scrolling text.

Formats it reads includes the NIMAS format, DAISY, txt. files and coming soon with an update...Mp3 files. Depending on the file format, you will see and hear the content or only be able to access one or the other. I like that the reader includes a stylus and a writable digital screen to make text notes as well. the battery lasts 7 hours and recharges in 4. You can read and charge the unit at the same time. Learn more on their website HERE. The price is $439.

Tools by Premier Assistive:

Keys to Access: By Premier Assistive is the "Swiss Army Knife" of text readers and learning support. This USB drive/Mp3 player has 2 GB memory and houses 10 learning software apps by Premier Assistive including: Scan and Read Pro, Talking Word Processor, Premier Predictor Pro, PDF Equalizer, PDF Magic Pro, Text-to-Audio, E-Text Reader, Universal Reader Plus, Ultimate Talking Dictionary and Talking Calculator.

With this device, you just insert the USB drive in any computer and a floating toolbar appears on your screen. You can access any of the AT software tools on the spot form the drive and no software needs to be installed on a computer. The price is $349.95 The Premier to Go is the jump drive without the Mp3 reader. It sells for $299.95

Premier's answer to the Video ipod - the Vpod: For $449.95, this device holds all the 10 software tools above, to use on any computer but in a unit that besides audio files in Mp3, WAV and WMP files (doesn't play itunes/ipod files), plays Mp4 video files that are avi. files.

And just so we are being fair about what is shared - something free too!

EText Reader for Linux and Windows: This free downloadable application allows you to read any of the public domain downloaded e text files in the font size, color and spacing you want. It saves the last reading position and allows for multiple bookmarks. By double-clicking a word, it allows you to access a help document dictionary or online dictionaries of your choosing. It also links to browse through website text files. There is no text to speech with this, but with it's ability to allow the modification of text size and color it could be a nice addition.

Well, I still don't have all the things coveredthat I wanted to, but I hope this gives you some things to explore. Until next time,

All the best to you!



narrator said...

I'm always willing to make trouble. I played with the Classmate Reader at CSUN and liked it... but, it is, once again, a 'school-only' solution. When schools use disability-specific hardware rather than ubiquitous software linked to common-place hardware (a smart phone costs less after all) they are dooming the student to device-specific dependence that will not work for them, five years from now, or often even just two years from now, and will not go with them (successfully) outside of school. It is so much better to teach software. I have now used WYNN for my reading for almost a dozen years, on six different laptops and four different desktops, the software has grown but I have never had to relearn a device.

Also: Has Premier improved their Key to Access? When we tested it with students 18 months ago its constant attempts to write to the systems folders of public computers got our students thrown out of a number of public libraries. Have you seen this Ohio State free USB-drive initiative?

Lon said...

Thanks for this great information. Nothing helps us more than contrib uting reviews based on practical experience. Thank you so much for the contribution. I would never consider it making trouble!