More Intellitools Resources

Text to Speech Software for Home Use

Text to Speech Software for Home Use

The question of software that supports students with learning disabilities often arises. Standard choices of text to speech or scan and read software applications for purchase include (but not limited to):

Kurzweil 3000

Read & Write

ClaroRead

Each of these applications have slightly different tools available within the software, provide different interfaces as well as have different costs. Follow the links of the software for more information for more information on the differences of each of the programs.

Free or Inexpensive Text to Speech Software for Home Use:

Other text to speech software application choices  that  are free or low cost include:

MyStudyBar –   This software can be down loaded to a jump drive for portable use. Text to speech, talking dictionary, word prediction are a few of the tools available in this free software.

Natural Reader – Provides text to speech and can convert text to MP3 files to listen to audio stories.

A low cost text to speech option is:

Text Aloud 3 – A text to speech application that will work with documents, Internet and email. It also supports converting text to MP3.

Many choices are available to allow individual access to print when reading is a barrier. You will find additional text to speech choices by searching the Internet for “Text to Speech” programs.

Carol

Tots ‘n Tech Website

While checking out online resources I stumbled upon Tots ‘n Tech website geared to AT for EC. This outstanding website is visually appealing, user friendly and oh so many resources! Tots ‘n Tech provices the following wonderful low tech AT resources to support the EC classroom or other students or classrooms with emergent learners:

Tots ‘n Tech Helpdesk  (TNT Helpdesk – This resource found under the Practices menu is chocked full of  resources organized in each subtopic area (see below) providing information on Resource Type (listing of how to’s, make-it directions, handout materials), Focus (target groups such as info for parents, teachers, therapists, etc.), Media (available media by video, web, handout) and Activity and Routine (where you need suggestions- morning, mealtime, chores, bedtime, etc.)  in the following areas:

  • Communication & Socialization – Each of these subtopic areas provides more resources (Media, Resource Types, Focus and Activities and Routine) about communicationa socialization for EC students. Great resources for low tech ideas and activities are provided.  This topic area hosts  a list that provides  links to a number of online communication symbols resources available (free) on the Internet! This link is great for speech and language pathologists, parents and teachers of EC.
  • Getting Around – Provides listing of mobility tools and resources to make seating and access adaptations. Many activities are provided in the area of mobility. A great resource for teachers, parents, PT and OT’s.
  • Arms & Hands – Provides activities, ideas, resources and how to on fine motor activities. Great for OT’s as well as EC teachers with a plethora of fine motor activities, resources and activities!
  • Problem Solving – Provides activities, ideas and resources for thinking skills for EC. Great for parents, EC teachers, parents.

Other resources for professionals and parents are provided under the Practice and Resource tabs on the website, providing information on best practices, research, newsletters and other AT resources.

As and OT and AT, this website is a great go to for low tech adaptations, finding materials and handouts for make and take sessions, or inexpensive home activities. Nicely presented and easy to navigate, this is a great go to resource for EC teachers, parents, OT, PT, SPL personnel!

What a great find! Check it out!!

Carol

Sound Stamp App for the Echo Pen

Echo Pen

The Echo or Pulse Pen is wonderful note taking tool for students to take notes and simultaneously record lectures (audio record) using special Livescribe notebook paper and the electronic Echo or Pulse Pen (Echo is their newest pen and Pulse the first generation of the Livescribe Pens) .  The beauty of this pen is that you can write or draw as much or as little as you want to while note taking. The recording tool records what is spoken at the same time as you write and is able to be played back (out loud) from the pen using menu tools provided on the paper.

I have recommended this pen for students in K-12 education as well as college students and business people who have difficulty with spelling, reading, recall, comprehension when required to gather information from lectures, meetings or interviews as a few examples. It’s appearance does not suggest a special need, just looks like another electronic gadget -which it is!

Valuable tool? Yes! –  and for more than just note taking!

We have been using the Pulse Pen at our school for about the last two years for note taking but also as a medium tech tool for adapting worksheets for students who have difficulty accessing print. Rather than scanning worksheets into a computer,  one of our awesome paraprofessionals has been recording information on sticky labels printed with Livescribe paper (this can be done on sticky/adhesive labels with laser printers from the Livescribe Desktop).  Using the sticky or adhesive labels with printed Livescribe paper, the labels are placed on assignment worksheets, recorded on with worksheet information or directions for the assignment. This provides an auditory means of accessing the worksheet text using the labels and pen and also a way for him to record his answers using the labels provided. Worksheets, study guides and vocabulary are a few of the uses for this modification using the Pulse Pen.

Sound Stamp App for Echo Pen

Livescribe Echo/Pulse pens have a number of additional apps for purchase providing different tools that can be loaded onto your pen. One new tools is called the Sound Sticker which records messages on small stickers that can be re-recorded on using the app software on your pen.

A similar concept as what we had done with creating labels, the Sound Sticker audio can be erased and re recorded, possible but not as simple of a process as having a delete button on the menu when removing a record audio using the Sound Sticker app.

For more information on Sound Sticker App, or the Livescribe Echo or Pulse Pen in K-12 education visit their website for videos describing many ways it can be used.. There are videos of creative ways it has been used to support education, and of course only limited by your imagination and needs.

For information on the Livescribe pens with different memory capacity,  more apps (dictionary, spelling apps and more) and accessories (different size and types of notebooks, cases, etc.), visit the Livescribe store. You will also find refurbished pens available at a discounted price!

Explore the Echo/Pulse Pen and be creative in ways it can help support your students! If you have questions on how to print on sticky labels feel free ask in the comments.

Carol

Managing Your iDevice for the Young Learner – 101

Children love using the iPod or iPad and with a single touch can explore games and stories and lots of things, sometimes much more than you want them to! The iDevices ease of use can be a two edged sword with children/students easily getting to places you don’t want them to go.

I have heard repeatedly from fellow OT’s ” I wish I could hide the home button”. As a OT who frequently thinks about adapting things a number of things go through my mind, none which has come to fruition yet and chances are may not end up being esthetically pleasing. Good news, now there is something inexpensive and esthetically pleasing out there to help with hiding the home button and keeping the kids from escaping the app or activity you intend for them to complete.

BubCaps are home button covers for the iDevices that deter young fingers from pressing the home button. Available with different amounts of rigidity, BubCaps come in Regular, Ultra and Max depending on the age or strength of the user. Inexpensive, they come in 4-packs of a mixture or 4 of one kind for $5. BubCaps are available at their website (see link above) or through Amazon.com.

The making of BubCaps seems to come from experience (necessity is the mother of invention, right?). The company’s blog features a great overview of how to prepare your iDevice for toddlers. Check our their recommendations on protecting your iDevice on PaperClip Robot’s blog. It is worth it if you are new to using an iDevice and work with users with busy hands!

Another review of the BubCaps is on the great resources of I Education App Review .

Anyone else have any methods of protecting the home button or management tips for young users?

Happy Apping

Carol

Splashtop App and Splashtop Remote

Thanks to Suzanne Feit and the QIAT listserv, I was introduced to Splashtop app that can remote into your computer to operate Win based or Mac based software on your computer. Suzanne’s example of accessing software as Intellitools Classroom Suite sparked my interest in how this might work.

Splash App installs on your iPod Touch or iPad and makes connection to your computer when complimentary software is installed on your computer. Using WIFI you can connect from your iDevice to your computer to operate software installed on your computer as remote desktop access.

Although I have only used it on my iPod Touch (which due to size of the device is somewhat limiting to access), found it easy to install on my computer and iPod Touch and after turning off my firewall easily connected to my computer displaying my desktop. I was able to type into Word, open a Blio book to read and navigate on my computer remotely. The software has great supports in its set up to get you connect with your IP address and ports easily.

I am excited about the possibilities of using our bread and butter Windows software available on our desktop or laptop extended to the highly portable, accessible and “cool” (kids love cool, we love our special needs kids to be cool like all other kids!) iDevices for learning opportunities for our students.

Splashtop is available for iDevices and Android and supports WIN and MAC OS.

Check out a video on You Tube about Splashtop with Classroom Suite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxHDgjrd3xo

Amazing! Have you tried it?

Carol

RFB & D Acquires a New Name: Learning Ally

For those of you who have known and used RFB&D for many years it now has a new name and logo:

Learning Ally logo

Learning Ally  (formerly RFB&D) provides the  same services it has for the past 63 years, supplying accessible audio books for individuals with blindness, low vision or dyslexia.   Free individual membership is available for those that qualify from an OSEP grant.   Learning Ally also provides fee based  subscription memberships to schools for students that qualify.

One new tool they have developed is a mobile app for iPod, iPhone or iPad called  RFB&D Audio ($19.99 on iTunes) extending the availability of the audio files to iDevices. RFB&D App picture

Learning Ally remains a wonderful resource of human recorded digital audio books for qualifying individuals. Check out a familiar service with a new name!

Carol