Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Gift of Water

Hey Tek-Ninjas! Here is a cause worthy of our attention! Water is often taken for granted here in the U.S. But in other parts of the world, it is more precious than gold. People organize their days and weeks around procuring water for drinking and cooking. Think about giving the gift of water this year.

Blood:Water is a non-profit agency based in Nashville, TN, that partners with African grassroots organizations to address the HIV/AIDS and water crises. They do this by identifying Africa’s hidden heroes and coming alongside their vision for change. Through technical, financial, and organizational support, they work to expand the reach and effectiveness of African civil society organizations and the communities they serve.

Since their launch in 2004, Blood:Water has raised over $28 million through the creative efforts of tens of thousands of individuals, and with more than a dozen African organizations brought clean water and HIV/AIDS support to 1 million people in 11 countries.

Videography by my immensely talented nephew, Jeremiah J. Warren.


Monday, November 21, 2016

AAC Genie Evaluation: eliminating the guess work!

Hey Tel-Ninjas! I have been working with a remarkable app for the past yeaer+, and I want to share it with you.  If you are new to AAC evaluations, or a veteran, this app may really help you understand and document your student's needs.

The AAC Evaluation Genie app is designed for your iPad, and IMHO is more expository than diagnostic. The app won't tell you which device to use/buy, but it will guide you in making an optimum setup for whatever intervention you go with.

The AAC Evaluation Genie sells for $11.99.

There are 14 subtests which can be administered with multiple settings to get to the information you need.

Visual Identification
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to visually track and identify a single icon from 5" to 1" in size.

Visual Discrimination
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to visually track and discriminate a single icon from 5" to 1" in size.

Noun Vocabulary
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to identify common noun vocabulary.

Function Vocabulary
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to identify common noun vocabulary by stated function.

Verb Vocabulary
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to identify common verb (action word) vocabulary.

Category Recognition
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to identify common noun vocabulary by category group inclusion.

Word Association
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to identify a noun by associated feature or function.

Category Inclusion
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to identify common noun vocabulary by category inclusion.

Category Exclusion
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to identify common noun vocabulary by category exclusion.

Pixon Core Vocabulary
This activity evaluates the recognition and identification of common core vocabulary words not easily represented with pictures using Pixon® symbols.

Unity Core Vocabulary
This activity evaluates the identification of common core vocabulary words not easily represented with pictures using Minspeak Unity® symbols.

Unity Icon Patterns
This activity evaluates the identification of vocabulary organized by Minspeak Unity® semantic / linguistic patterns.

Picture Description
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to describe basic pictures using a simulated AAC display.

Word Prediction
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to read text and select a target word from a list of four choices.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Symbols Software...again.

Hey Tek-Ninjas! A while back I wrote with great enthusiasm about a shared platform called Pogo Boards. Over the summer I was working to get our school district signed up, but alas I could not get a hold of the folks at the company. That should have been a red flag, but, admittedly my summers are my own, and I don't work much.

In August I finally got a phone call from one of the company owners who regretfully informed me that they were closing their doors due to a host of unfortunate issues. I was so glad that I'd not actually sent them money, as they may not have been in a position to refund!

So, I spent several days frantically looking for a viable replacement option.

I needed access to symbol software which works across platforms (Chrome, Windows, and Mac), it needed to be intuitive, robust, and affordable. Boardmaker nails the first two criteria, but for our district, the price was higher than my director would support.

Enter Symbol Stix Prime from the good folks at News2You.

SymbolStix PRIME is a web-based symbol search engine and materials creation platform.  It is designed and developed by n2y, SymbolStix PRIME includes depictions of people, events, and activities with personally relevant stick figures appropriate for all ages.

The shared platform allows users to create symbol-based language and learning materials for printing or speaking aloud online.  There are over 30,000 symbols in the library and 500 new symbols added each month!

I have been very pleased with Symbol Stix Prime. You can give it a test run with a free 30 day trial.  Individual pricing is $79 annually. With higher numbers, you can earn a discount. Users can log into their account on any computer platform from any location. If you are looking for symbol support, I recommend you take a close look at this offering from News 2 You!


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Image to text reader

Greetings Tek-Ninjas! Hope you are surviving the election well enough.

I wanted to share with you all a Google extension which I stumbled upon recently. The extension is called Project Naptha. Project Naptha is a screen reader, which works in your Chrome Browser, regardless of computer platform. It is unique for two reasons.
1. It's free.
2. It is designed to convert any text image into digital text with an OCR converter, thus allowing your native screen reader to read the text to you.

I've found it to be immensely useful, however, the quality of the image does have a direct impact on how well the image inverts to text.

Happy therapy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Shameless Self Promotion

Hey Tek-Ninjas! I'm sharing my latest endeavor in the arts. It is a collection of some of my digital art. It can be viewed for free, here on my site, or by going straight to issuu. Thanks for looking. I'll be blogging again, soon!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Modern Heroes in North Carolina

More than 100 North Carolina teachers, school employees, and parents made a 20 mile March to the Capitol in order to present to Governor Pat McCrory on June 14 and 15. Struggling under a decade of budget cuts and a general lack of resources, the marchers have had enough.

The group, planned to address a few points with McCrory, and requested a meeting in advance. They were intending to ask that he expand Medicaid, spend the budget surplus on students, and repeal HB2. 

Alas, the Capitol building shut down early and McCrory refused to meet with the group. The group, insisting that they be heard, took to the streets. With the arrival of the police and impending arrest, 14 teachers joined arms creating a line across the road. They were all arrested.

Each protester has different but compelling reasons for their Civil Disobedience. I'm impressed by them all. Meanwhile, rather than meet with teachers who are on the frontline, McCrory and his compatriots are discussing farming out poor performing schools to private Charter School businesses. I don't have a beef wth Charter schools necessarily, some are great in fact. But we have people who care and want to make a difference in place right now.  

Let's stand up for our students where we can.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Getting to know you...

Hey Tek-Ninjas! Yesterday, at the Carolina HealthTEC Live Conference in Asheville, I learned about a really terrific app. While exploring it, and chatting with a rep, I realized I know the app creator. Pretty cool!

The app is called Know Me. Per the app developers: 
"Know Me is an integrated set of tools to help you express who you are to the people in your life. The main feature is Profile, a way of visually displaying important information about you. Profile is supported by Gallery, a place for longer documents linked to your profile, as well as Team Talk, a place where conversations between you and your team are kept."
Here is what I can tell you. I downloaded the app for free onto my iPad. Then within a few minutes, I'd created my own profile using the very intuitive interface, incorporating pictures from my photo gallery, as well as one I took on the spot. Downloading the app onto my iPhone (still for free), and logging in, the app populated immediately with my profile. On the phone, the profile is not editable, which is good to prevent accidental change.

With this app, an individual with limited communication skills can met a new person, and easily share with them who they are. 

At the bottom of the app is an emergency tab where you can enter your caregiver's name and contact info.

The app is elegant, and incredibly intuitive. Take a look at it!