Thursday, December 8, 2016
Thursday, December 1, 2016
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.
Monday, November 21, 2016
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.
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to visually track and identify a single icon from 5" to 1" in size.
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to visually track and discriminate a single icon from 5" to 1" in size.
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to identify common noun vocabulary.
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to identify common noun vocabulary by stated function.
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to identify common noun vocabulary by category group inclusion.
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to identify a noun by associated feature or function.
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to identify common noun vocabulary by category inclusion.
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.
This activity evaluates the user’s ability to describe basic pictures using a simulated AAC display.
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
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.
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
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.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Sunday, June 26, 2016
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.
Saturday, May 28, 2016
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.
Friday, May 20, 2016
Many folks have a lot of work made in the first program. In order to be able to access it, you will need to save the files as PDF's. This will allow you to still use the boards, however, you won't be able to easily change them. If you have a lot of files that you want to save, plan on this taking awhile. You may want to do it in multiple steps.
But, here are the steps.
Open a Board file and then select "Print".
In the bottom left corner select PDF, and within that pull down menu choose "Save as PDF".
Before you actually click save, in the bottom corner click on "New Folder".
In the box that comes up, create a name.
Now, save your board in this new file. Subsequent boards will just be saved in this board. This process will make it easier to organize or even move to your Google Drive.
If you want to take the next step of moving your PDF's to your Google Drive follow these steps.
It is recommended that you download and proceed with the browser Chrome in order to upload a whole file.
Open your Google Drive and select "New".
Choose "Folder" and create a Boardmaker PDF folder.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
The word prediction function remains good. But what is truly significant is how easy it is to create
unique and custom keyboards with pictures, symbols, individual words, and even whole phrases in a "key". It reminds me in some ways for Cricksoft's Clicker, or Slaterware's Pixwriter, but at a fraction of the cost; $19.99.
Making a custom keyboard is remarkably simple. The control board is intuitive. Pictures can be added from the iPad or from Pixabay. Text can be added, which can then be read out loud by a quality computer voice when "typed" by the end user.
Built into the app are links to several tutorial videos as well as an online instructional book.
Sharing boards is easy using the built in email or DropBox access.
Abilipad is ideal for your emerging writers, or to set up with scanning and switch access as an alternative writing tool.
Features are as listed:
•Set the text style (font, size and color) and background color
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
On top of the significant cost, this change has unplanned ripple effects. Modern laptops seem to all be dropping CD drives. Remember 12+ years ago when Apple got rid of the floppy drive? Then PC's followed suit? We all kicked and screamed 'cause our software wouldn't work. Well, here we go again. Apple started phasing out CD drives a few years ago, and now PC's seem to following along.
Our district has approximately 100 copies of "THE DOMINANT SYMBOL SOFTWARE" (TDSS) out there, which was purchased with Stimulus funding back in 2000. It still works fine, but won't on the new laptops (or not without a major process/headache per each device), especially as we are changing OS platforms at some schools.
Our staff who use TDSS really rely on it. But, upgrading TDSS for the new computers would cost over $12,000 PER YEAR!
Enter Pogo Boards. Pogo Boards is an online, subscription model which is easy to use, and provides access to millions of images through an integrated Google search, thousands of unique, custom symbols with SymbolStix and the PiCS symbol set.
Pogo Boards arguably has the most robust symbol library available in one place.
There is a free 14 day trial to get a feel for PogoBoards, and I encourage users to sign up and use it with a student or classroom in mind, not just to tinker around. This process will facilitate you actually learning how to use it.
As a user, if you are at all familiar with Microsoft Word, the interface will be intuitive. It looks similar.
The bottom line though, is the price is down-right affordable. My subscription for the same group of folks on the TDSS will be roughly $2,500 annually. Thates a significant savings.
Users can make their boards on a Mac at work, then when they get home, feasibly log into a home PC or Linux computer and access the same work. Cross platform is huge.
In addition, boards made online can be downloaded to the free app on your iPad or iPhone.
And finally, sharing of materials within a school or district is simple.
Change from a preferred tool is often challenging. My hope for our district is that this won't be too painful. I will keep you all posted!
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Hey Tek-Ninjas! I've been wrestling with switch access lately. It is often a source of frustration for me. The promises are big, the reality is often less than!
Of the many switch interfaces I've played with, the one I keep returning to for the most success is the
Swifty, made by Origin. Swifty uses standard USB Human Interface Device (HID) drivers and works with Windows, Macintosh and Linux computers and many AAC devices. The Swifty retails for $79.95.
For accessing iPads, Origin has answers as well. They provide the Tapio for newer iPads using a Lightening charging port. With Tapio and an adaptive switch, a single switch user can have complete access to an iPad, an iPhone or an iPod touch, using Apple's Switch Control. The Tapio
|Just a Few Switch Choices|
user's needs. You may decide to go with a jelly bean switch, toggle, or any of the other dozens of switches, mounting them wherever your user has the best consistent volitional movement. I recommend involving your Occupational Therapist or Physical Therapist in determining these locations if possible.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
The folks at UNC are busy writing code, creating easy, free switch accessible, online software.
For example, they have a terrific site called Accessible Youtube. Accessible Youtube does require that someone can type the initial search. Once the search is typed in, navigating the controls is relatively intuitive
When I stumbled on Accessible Youtube, it was exciting, but not quite what I was searching for. I was looking for the ability to embed Youtube videos into some "magical" interface that would work like the old latch timer, so a student would hit the switch, get some video, and then it would stop, thereby motivating the student to hit the switch again. Yes, we are working on early "Cause & Effect" switch access.
So, I emailed the help link on Accessible Youtube, and very quickly got a response from Gary Bishop. Gary is a Professor of Computer Science here at UNC-Chapel HIll. Gary and his students create software to enable folks with disabilities participate fully in education, literacy, and play. He and his students may be my new heroes.
Gary sent me a link to that "magical" interface I'd been seeking: Tar Heel Gameplay (THG) It was as though the programmer made a project just for me!
|Customizable Switch Prompt|
Please take a look at this site, and be sure to share with your friends!
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Tamika will be blogging about being an Occupational Therapist, a single mom, and a Woman of God. Her blog is called TherapymomMe, and I encourage you to take a look at it.
Monday, March 14, 2016
For a while now I have experimented with advertising. You may have noticed on the right side of the blog, a selection of ads. I've decided that the advertisements detract more than add benefit.
So. No more ads.
In addition, I am embarking in a little shameless self promotion. If you note at the top of my blog at the menu bar I have a new link: Jim's Art. Please take a moment to explore some of my digital as well as oil creations.
As always thanks for looking!
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Do you remember the first time you voted? I remember not really being sure how to do it. It ain't rocket science, but it felt intimidating.
I would like to encourage you parents of 18-19 year olds to offer to take them to the polls. Explain what the process will be like. Even if you don't think they will vote "your way".
Bring them, teach them, then get out of the way!
Friday, March 11, 2016
Let me backtrack for a moment. One of the great frustrations I, and others experience in the world of Special Needs, is how expensive things can be. There is always a argument (possibly legitimate) about the small volume of production or the R & D driving up costs. Regardless, equipment is often really pricey. For example, I have some portable "video magnifiers" which cost over $2,000 which we use with a few of our students with significant vision issues. I chafe at the cost every time I look at the device.
So. Back to Ipevo. They sell a range of document cameras, along with other technologies. They DO NOT bill themselves as selling products for visually impaired students. But, nonetheless, I was curious to compare. Their products are a fraction of the price. My question was, would they do the job?
After sharing my thought process with the very knowledgable and friendly sales rep, Alex, he sent me away with a couple of cameras and an interactive whiteboard system to test.
So far I've been very impressed. As was our Visual Impairment Teacher (VI). She was quite frankly astonished. Refer to Fig. 2 for a side-by-side comparison