Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shout out!

To start with I would like to say “Congratulations, and great work!” to Sam Sennott and David Niemeijer at www.assistiveware.com for creating Proloquo2go which takes advantage of many of the iPhone and iPod touch’s advanced features, it totally rocks.

However, I would also like to give a huge SHOUT OUT to RJ Cooper who has been making Pocket PCs accessible for years and whose Point-to-Pictures Mobile software works on PDA devices running Windows Mobile 2003 or newer. He has an arrangement with the folks at Mayer-Johnson and has been able to license some of the most used symbols. His Mini-Auggie is also switch accessible. Half the time when you call for support RJ himself answers the phone. So if you have an old Pocket PC (not a Palm Pilot as he kept reminding me) hanging around, check out www.rjcooper.com . He has some great stuff for kids with a wide range of needs, but in particular for kids with low incidence disabilities.

How cool is it that we live in a day when we have so many potential options? I remember programming the WOLF and thinking it was the greatest thing going!

(image from hawaii.gov)

Monday, June 29, 2009

office supplies

I was doing some shopping the other day, shocking! I know! And came across these cool iPod Touch holders in the office supply store. They are actually a business card holder, desk organizer, and picture frame, but with a little imagination, and possibly some non-slip material, weights, and/or Velcro, make a nice stand for the Touch or other tools. All under $8. App shown is, of course, Proloquo2go which can be purchased at the iTunes app store.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Text to Speech

There are many Text-to-Speech tools on the market. A while back I was looking for one that had some very specific features. I was programming a Springboard Lite (www.prentrom.com) and I wanted to use synthesized speech rather than digitized so I needed to be able to generate a .wav file from the text, as well as create a child's voice. On top of that, it needed to be, if possible, my favorite price, FREE! After a good deal of searching I found Balabolka, http://www.cross-plus-a.com/balabolka.htm. Not only does this fully featured TTS program read text remarkably well, but it highlights, exports to a variety of audio formats, has a variety of skins that can be used to increase visual readability, and has a magnifying tool! There is also a stand alone version that can be used on a USB without installing! The author distributes Balabolka for free, but encourages you to purchase his other products in order to keep it free. I am not sure about the safety of Share-IT, but as soon as I am I think I will purchase his other product, as I am sure to do many Balabolka installs this year!
Check it out, play around with manipuating the voices. I programed a button on one student's device just recently, with a scary sounding whisper for his job at a park with a location called "Death Hollow!"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ta Da!

Okay, I have vanished for a little while for the 5 of you that might follow my blog. Rest assured, V A C A T I O N, is now upon us and I will be blogging like a mad woman, as my pasty pale skin has a tendency toward melanoma. So, in exploring Apps for the iPod touch this afternoon, I came across Type Drawing and its original web site, http://www.storyabout.net/typedrawing/typedrawing.php?requestedID= It's a very neat tool that takes a couple minutes to learn, but might be really motivating for some kids! Much like Wordle.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Kickin' AT Old Skool!

While doing retail therapy the other day, I came across these gadgets in the tools aisle at MicroCenter. (The geek version of Macys.) I thought "Wow, low tech AT, packaged, ready to go, and reasonably priced." I picked them up, walked around with them for a while, and then since, I didn't really have anyone that needed a mouth stick or head pointer right now, I put them back a took a picture with my phone, so I could look them up on the web. Whoa! Low tech BONANAZA!
Check out the "Lite Bite" for less than $3, on one site. I'm sure with a little putty these could hold just about anything.

Next up, the Headband, looks like it would be great for kids learning eye-gaze, or as a selection tool on its own. My son participates in ART (Artistic Realization Technologies http://www.artrealization.org/index.html), and they use a tool similar to this to guide their painting. Use a laser pointer and your student or child could entertain the cat for hours!

I used to buy something very similar to these from the Danmar catalog (https://danmarproducts.c7.ixwebhosting.com/index.cfm). The neoprene sleeve might not allow a lot of flexibility in what you can put in it, but I'll bet whatever you put stays in these cool tools!
(A quick word about Danmar, they also sell a really neat clear chest support for people who use wheel chairs, my son, (Polo) has one, and it never messes up his rock star outfits!)

They do not sell direct on their site, but provide links to sites that do, also check out their lighted products like balls and Frisbees. Way cool!


Monday, June 1, 2009

I love this sign. Every spring they appear on Rt. 40 in Westford/Groton. I just think, "Is there any other kind of turtle crossing?"