Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Get to Know Nook Study for PC and Mac

On the journey of researching e book readers and tools for print disabilities, I stumbled across Nook Study, a free download from Barnes and Noble for PC and Mac only - it is not in an app version (yet) for tablets and the iTouch, iPhone and iPad. I downloaded it and put it through the paces this past week. Here is what I came up with:

It is free.
It has a key-stroke shortcut, Ctrl -Alt-S, to activate text to speech. Using the space bar starts and stops the reading of any text you highlight and starts and stops continuous reading.
The voice it used seemed pretty natural and you can speed it up or slow it down by accessing the settings in the Library home page under settings and the accessibility tab.
You can highlight text in various colors and add sticky notes.
Highlight a word and add a tag, note or website link.
Books you purchase can be set up into folder categories, i.e. history, literature, science, etc.
You can set up media stacks for newstand purchases in chronological order.
There are many college and professional trade textbooks in e format.
The Nook Study syncs with other Nook apps; i.e. books I purchased on a Nook App on an iPad show up on the computer on Nook Study.
There are many free classics and public domain books available. (Check out Calibre for formatting pdf's and other documents and managing/adding to your e reader libraries)

Textbooks available in a Nook format are limited. You are not going to find a fourth grade social studies textbook.
Not yet available for portable devices.

I would check out this free download if you are looking for a text to speech accommodation and want some study helps. I am loving it.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

14 Apps for AAC, Part Two

Here is Part 2 on the AC Apps for the iPad. I am going to be getting my hands on all of them and writing reviews of each to kick off 2012 in January/February so check back as those are posted!

8. ICommunicate: $49.99. Low to mid user, single hit communication maximum board is 4 X 10 cells. Board view and schedule view. Can email boards to print them off. Has recordable voice, text to speech and has 10,000 image library included.

9. AutoVerbal Pro: $9.99. Utilizes multiple sliding ribbon/bars to choose and build phrases. More advanced versions available.

10. Tap to Talk: Lite, Free; Full version with access to online library, $99.95 1 year, $179.99 “forever”. Tap to Talk home page:

11. Grace: $37.99. Users can navigate through the categories and click on images they want to use. Users can use each picture isolated or combine a set of pictures to make phrases.

12. Look to Learn: $14.99. “I want” paired with a photo and higher quality voices allow needs and choices to be communicated. For early to mid communicators. Free assessment can be downloaded at App store description:

13. Proloquo2go: $189.99. contains text-to-speech voices, up-to-date symbols, powerful automatic conjugations, a default vocabulary and much more. Builds phrases to speak by selecting folders with categories. App store description:

14. Ablenet Sounding Board: $49.99. Design 1 to 9 button boards. Record your message, use built in library or use pictures off camera. Has ablility to collect data on user as well. Ablenet is developing pre-made boards to purchase and download for this app. Website:


Cases: AMDI makes a durable case with a handle designed for AAC with an iPad. Here is a link to a blogpost on it:
The AMDI website and iAdapter 1 and 2: $198,

Keyguards: Lasered Pics makes iPad Keyguards and can make customized ones for the apps they don’t carry as well. They are currently made for the apps Grace, iClick iTalk, Proloquo2go, Speak it, and TapSpeak Choice. They also make one to fit over the iPad for the iPad keyboard. $19.95

I will be presenting a 3 hour break out session on these apps in Portland, Oregon at the AT Now! Conference March 1 and 2. (The breakout session day is March 2). If you are in the area and might be interested in attending, I know there are 2 other presenters doing sessions on iPads that day so there will be a lot covered. For more information go to the Oregon Technology Access Program website and check the conference page. They don't have the actual conference info up yet, but it should be up in January sometime to register.

All the best!

Monday, November 28, 2011

14 Apps for AAC, Part One

I have been getting requests for information on apps that use the iPad as a speech device. There are so many out there and I have compiled a list of 14 apps from free up to $190 that can be used as AAC. Some produce single hit messages, some are able to be customized boards and some are full-blown choice and phrase, sequenced talkers. The TapSpeak line now includes 4500 basic Boardmaker symbols. Some cost a one-time fee and some have annual subscriptions. I am splitting these up into 7 each post so you aren't blasted with too many at one time. I will also included links and costs to cases and key guard overlays. at the end.

Your suggestions and additions are welcome!

The following list of Apps converts the iTouch/Phone or iPad into an Augmentative device:

1. My Talk Mobile and Workspace. $39.95 with one year upgrade. Works with My Workspace to design and sync boards. $9 a month, $75 a year or $175 3-year. (My Workspace free to SLP’s with ASHA number) Has Lite version free.

My Talk:

You Tube:

2. First Then Visual Schedule, $9.99 from iTunes App Store. Has 1, 2 and 4 image screen modes and record your own sound and choose your own picture/symbol.

3. My Choice Board, $9.99 iTunes App Store. Prepare and save boards with up to 6 choices and ability to expand if needed. Board has a phrase “I want” and then images as choices with optional checklist. Images available from camera, Internet search or photo albums.

4. TapSpeak Sequence Standard, $29.99, iTunes App Store. Has re-sizeable and moveable visual targets, unlimited number of sequences, use your own images and drawings, un.imited phrase recording length and sequence length.

5. TapSpeak Sequence Plus, $49.99. Plus version includes 4500 image Mayer Johnson Boardmaker library for building sequences.

6. TapSpeak Button Standard or Plus, $14.99 or $49.99. Uses image of Big Mack or Big red button/jelly bean button on screen and overlays an image on it and recordable message activates when tapped. Standard uses your images, Plus uses Boardmaker library.


7. TapSpeak Choice, $149.99. Builds boards using Boardmaker symbols with speech window at the top to build phrases. Low to mid users.


Note: The TapSpeak apps can use the RJ Cooper/Ablenet Blue tooth wireless switches.

All the best!


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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Free Online Typing Resources

I have been asked about keyboarding and typing programs and our schools always are looking for free resources. I have used tuxtyping for kids for a long time. I thought I would add a few others below. If you have some resources that you like please comment and add your ideas and links! - this one is free but you have to register to keep scores and track progress. a directory list of free and pay typing programs online


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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

iPad USB Camera Adaptor Works for other Accessories

We bought a mini EZ See Keyboard for an ipad through RJ Cooper this summer for a student and found that we needed an adaptor. The Apple camera adaptor (USB) will support headsets and keyboards, so if you are looking for a way to get a particular keyboard, a headset/mic, etc this should do it.
Read the full article for details from zdnet.
All the best!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back to School: AT Integration Projects using Wii, Language Arts, Open Source Tools and AAC Curricular Designs

Summer is drawing to a close. Classrooms are being set up for students to return and so it is time for me to return as well. I have purposely turned my attention to family and summer chores on our mountain in Oregon over the past 2 months. Although AT is a passion and something I live, eat, breathe and sleep during the school year, I have let it sit on the back burner over the summer. I don't know about you, but I have needed the break to let my batteries restore and recharge for new inspiration and a new year.
This week I have started getting calls and emails, "We need a training before teachers return. Contact me." So I guess the time is approaching to kick into gear and drive off the mountain and get working on new projects, pick up old ones and get back to the students who have been home doing things with family over the summer like showing bunnies at the fair, swimming, speech camp, etc, I guess it will be a transition for them too!

My Back to School Integration List for Assistive Technology and Learning:

Wii therapy/XBox Kinect - continuing our pilot and working with some new schools to trial as well support schools that purchased systems for start up this year. We use these to enhance OT goals and also to enhance peer play and social/communication goals. We have an autism specialist that we turned loose with a Kinect and XBox this summer to develop some strategies for autism social and communication goals - can't wait to see what she has come up with.

Common Core Language Arts Standards alignment with strategies using AT, E-Readers and iPad apps, etc. I taught a summer class (OK I wasn't off all summer) on cross-referencing Core Standards in ELA with open source computer apps that will assist in student succcess for that standard. I want to develop it more this year.

TBI and AT: Technology that supports learning for students after Traumatic Brain Injury.

Free Open Source Tools on all our school computers for student accommodation - now a reality but in need of a lot of training and reinforcement. Tools include DSpeech, XMind, Hott Notes, and tools like Vubar, Sonar Cursor Ring and Orato. You can see a list of links and descriptions at the Access Apps Site.

AAC devices with boards/pages designed for curriculum and in-class learning not just communication. I have helped our SLP's develop some exciting boards for science as well as life skills and community topics. These have been on Dynavox and PRC devices.

iPad/iPod Touch apps searches for AAC, AT and student accommodation and learning - there is always something new.

I am excited to see what we come up with this year. I am always striving to learn new things and develop cutting edge strategies in my service to students and staff . If you are returning to a school district or regional service organization after a summer break, I wish you a great fall full of great opportunities to make a difference in a child's life.

All the best!

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Exoskeleton Assists Graduation Walk

The exoskeleton is begninning to find its way into the mainstream media. I found this video clip and news item on a college senior who was able to walk through to get his diploma using the help of an exoskeleton in Berkley, CA.

Although still under development, the cost was said to be around $20k once it is ready to market.

If you want to find out more about the exoskeleton, check out my recent interview with Dr. Gene Emmer on the development of the exoskeleton and links to his information.

All the best to you!

Monday, May 16, 2011

iPad Growth Continues in Support of Special Education

The iPad continues to become more and more popular for supporting students with special needs. I have shared my favorite apps in the past and came across the video clip and article below on how the iPad is being used at a technology resource center in Marin County, California. Thousands of iPads are now beginning to be purchased for special education students. I am thankful for the support we have in Oregon from United Cerebral Palsy in helping fund iPads with Proloquo2go and other apps they might need. We have been able to provide them to several students.

ABC Local Affiliate iPads for Special Education

This is well worth watching. I especially enjoyed seeing two students hold a conversation between them, one with a Dynavox VMax and the other with an iPad with Proloquo2go.

All the best!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Exoskeleton Interview with Dr. Gene Emmer on No Limits to Learning Live

Blog Talk Radio Show "No Limits to Learning Live" interview with Dr. Gene Emmer is now on archive.

Exoskeleton: Can "Ironman" Help with Physical Disabilities?
You can also listen on the right sidebar Blog Talk Radio player.

We had a fascinating interview on the exoskeleton and where it is headed. Did you know there are 3 types being released to limited regions for institutional use now? Find out about the 4 main exoskeletons that can replace wheelchairs, specific target areas for upper and lower body strength, varieties of motion sensing vs. driving and gait issues.
Dr. Emmer shared his concerns about the future of the exoskeleton. He believes a lot of the availability, affordability and marketing while moving from institutions to the home market will be determined by the public demand through awareness, requesting through hospitals, doctors, therapists and generally putting out the call for need.
You can access his website: exoskeleton-suit and news blog: wheelchairpride.


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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blog Talk Radio - Exoskeletons: Can Iron Man Support Physical Disabilities?

Blog Talk Radio Interview with Dr. Gene Emmer on the Exoskeleton Monday April 4 at 8:30 am Pacific. The exoskeleton is an outer suit that could take the place of a wheelchair. There are many models, prototypes and neurological extensions being developed. Dr. Gene Emmer has been investigating the research and development of the exoskeleton and has conducted interviews with some leaders in the field. His website is: Reading his research, I have discovered that there are external suits and also "bionic" prosthetics that connect to a brain implant that controls by actual neuropathway synapses. Folks with issues between the brain and body/arms and legs have special challenges in getting neuropathways connected to allow triggers to move prosthetics. There have been great discussions on therapy and use of the exoskeleton for people with disabilities. Below is "Rex", an example of an exterior system that supports the legs. Check out an example with "Rex" shown below and YouTube video: Dr. Emmer and I began to email several years ago when he shared a wheelchair under-carriage LED light system. I posted that on my blog and since then we have kept in contact. Dr. Emmer and I have been working on a Blog Talk Radio interview for some time now and I am excited to share that we will be on for you to listen or call in and chat on Monday, April 4th at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time. The archive will be available on my sidebar to listen and download as well after the show. The call in number is: 310 982-4116 if you want to ask a question or contribute to the discussion. Hope to see you there! Here is the link to the show: No Limits 2 Learning Live- Blog Talk Radio All the best! Lon Digg! Bookmark this on Delicious

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wii Therapy: Mats, Standards and Loads of Fun!

I have been out and about setting up some new Wii systems we were able to purchase from a hospital grant that funds therapy tools for OT/PT in the schools. I went to 2 new schools with new loan systems this week that included:

Wii game module and Wii Sports/Sports Resort
Active Life Outdoor Challenge Game and mat
Wii Fit Board and Fit plus game CD
Wii play game CD

Alternative PE Time and Therapy Rolled into One!
We visited during Alternative PE and showed the Wii Games on a projector/screen. We started by using the mat with Outdoor Challenge to play several games with students in a standard rolled over the mat and locked in place. These games are great for stretching legs, foot movement, eye-foot coordination and motor planning.
1. Timber Trail - player runs in place and then jumps to go over log obstacles. There is a blue circle target to time the jump.
2. Pipe Slider - we seat the student on the center of the mat with upper body support then physically assist if necessary the hand movements to steer down a water slide and pat the mat to move faster.
3. Mountain Boarder - Again in a standard, the player stands with left foot in the center and right slightly back on a back button. Jump to go up ramps and move a foot to center left or right for tricks.
4. Mole Whacker - Based on the "Whack-a-Mole" game, the player in the standard is rolled and positioned over the mat to try and tap the corresponding target on the mat with foot to the spot where the mole pops up on the screen.

Collecting Data:
We are choosing either a physical - fine/gross motor goal, a cognitive problem solving goal or a social/communication goal. We write down the games that were played, the level of verbal and physical assist, and any notes or observations on set up, progress towards goal, etc.

Note on Outdoor Challenge Game: This game came out in 2009 and is not for sale new anymore. We had no problem buying used ones through Amazon or other searches for about $50-60. They are out there and well worth it!

All the best to you!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Using Learning Styles to Increase Effectiveness of AT

How do your students learn? Have you taken the time to analyze whether a student you are evaluating for AT is kinesthetic, auditory, tactile, visual, etc?
I was observing a student this week that has a cleft palette. He is a primary student learning phonics and sounding out words. As I watched the class drill sight words flashing on a screen, all reading out loud, this student had delayed response, listening to the class then trying to say the word. It didn't take long before he gave up and was looking around the room completely off task. Now I had sat with him all afternoon and saw that he was a hard worker and was able to focus and do good work - so he didn't have attention deficits. What I did see was a style of expressing mastery of a skill that was actually not his forte. In fact it was his main disability - pronunciation and expressive language. No wonder he gave up!
This prompted me to think about how I watched him learn skills and look at his learning style. After class I asked the teacher how he learns best, what his style of learning is. We discussed it and I challenged her to think of multiple modalities to express mastery and drill and practice. How will this student be able to be successful? If he can't say the word, is he missing a step in finalizing the process neurologically to build those neural pathways and connections? How can he " finalize the learning" in another modality so it seals the deal?
I would challenge you to look at learning styles, differentiated instruction, strategies for multiple intelligences, multi-sensory learning and apply AT that supports finalizing the learning so the concept becomes second nature.
Some resources can be explored at the CAST website where you can explore several self-paced modules that will help you think in this way.

All the best to you!

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

There's An App for That Series: Apps for Students with Learning Disabilities

I have been digging into apps for TBI and for our assistive technology equipment center. We have 3 iTouches and 1 iPad to check out for trials. I came across a terrific series:
There's an App for That - has 5 parts, here is a link to Part One on Organizational Skills for Students with Learning Disabilities. Check out this and the other 4 articles in the series. Excellent work.
All the best,

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tools, Apps and Resources for TBI

There are so many tools and places to go online for help with traumatic brain injury. Below is a collection of websites, tools and apps to help support the TBI student.

Check out Papershow, which puts what you write on the screen AS you write. Very cool and according to Brian Friedlander's blog post about it was a BIG hit at MACWorld 2011 in SanFransisco.

Here is a website that has some great tools for families. There are some great videos on how to work through issues in IEP's and school meetings.
Brain Injury Partners: Navigating the School System

Print Disability Tools:

I have found a lot of great helps at CAST and through the AIM/NIMAS links below:
CAST has a new video UDL at a Glance, that explains Universal Design for Learning.

AIM Navigator will help you determine need, what electronic formats are needed, identify textbooks that are needed. There are great summary topics about accessible insttructional tools, what quesations to ask, etc. This is a good tool to use with a staff to line out what is needed, develop a materials list and a to do list for what comes next.

CAST UDL Book Builder is a free book designer program that utilizes Text Help and UDL elements. You can read books that have been built by others or create your own. It allows students to go in and read, take notes online and then save notes to the computer at the end.

CAST Strategy Tutor is a free download that goes on your internet browser toolbar. It gives tips and strategies on how to study at your fingertips when you are studying, doing research, etc.

The CAST Learning Tools area has other teacher support tools.

iPad/iTouch Apps:

I found a YouTube video from Michigan Engineering on a texting tool for the iPad that does auto scanning for texting and email using the on-screen keyboard. It is not available anywhere at this time but keep your eye out for it!

Shapewriter is a touch keyboard that allows you to slide your finger dot-to-dot style without having to lift your finger. I tried to download it and it said it was not available in the U.S. It didn't show up on the app store search either. Two friends have it so if you know how to get it let us know.

App list: You can google these or type them into the app search on iPad/Pod and find them most are free (F)=free - a few I paid for.

Talking Tom (F)
Speak it!
Tap to Talk (F)

Dictate, by Dragon Naturally Speaking (F)
Search, by Dragon Naturally Speaking (F)
Dictionary! Auto fills words in list as you type to help spell. (F)
WordWeb Dictionary and Thesaurus, speaks words to help with spelling
iPlanin - visual scheduler (F)
Time Timer -
Class Organizer - has recording tool that syncs with notes and drawing pad, etextbook access and class scheduler homework to-do, etc. (under $10)
Text Expander - create abbreviations to auto fill with keyboard.
Mind Mapping - iThoughtsHD (9.99 and 7.99 versions)

Talkulator (talking calculator) (F)
Arithmetick (F)
Hot Potato: Algebra (F)
Balance - money tracker accounting app (F)
Dot to Dot Number Whiz lite (F)
Flash to Pass Math

AIM/ Talking Books:
Storykit (F)
Treasure Island by Flying Word
Speak it! - copy in text to read - great voices
iReader - copy in notes to read (F)

Brain/speed drills:
BrainReactor (F)
Buzzwire (F)
3D Brain (F) lights up, describes and shows sections of brain and turns 3D style

Dropbox, free account for file space and storage (F)
Elements, for word processing documents - linked to Dropbox
Zen Tap, word predict tool (F)
Plain Text, free word processing tool (F)

Hope these give you some ideas!

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Are Textbook Publishers Bringing iPad Apps and E Textbooks to the Classroom?

an Inkling iPad Textbook

Are iPad textbooks and apps by publishers around the corner? Actually they are already here and being developed. Publishers are discovering that there are new ways to represent and explore concepts and information through the app. Read the recent article link here in the Boston Globe about a pilot study in the State of Virginia, using iPads in a fourth grade classroom for curriculum access rather than textbooks. The article also shares the publishers viewpoint about the future of using the iPad and other tablets coming out as a new format platform for marketing their curriculum.
What are the implications for Accessible Instructional Materials? Incredible!

This article from AppleInsider, although a year ago, taps Scrollmotion as a designer of textbook apps that could incorporate, lecture recording, video, interactive models, etc.
The New York Times article by Nick Bilton, "Replacing a Pile of textbooks with an iPad" says:
"Now there’s an iPad application that could further lighten the load. A new company called Inkling hopes to break the standard textbook model and help textbooks enter the interactive age by letting students share and comment on the texts and interact with fellow students."
Inkling says the iPad is the textbook of the future here.

I am looking forward to what we see develop in the next year or so. It will be amazing.

All the best to you,


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