Posts Tagged ‘Assistive Technology’

More Intellitools Resources

Here are some training resources for Intellitools Classroom Suite

Intellitools Student Activity Checklist

Intellitools Reading Tutor Scope and Sequence

CS4 Training Resources

Scanning Access for Switch Users

Quick Tips for Early Learning Activities

ICS Activity resource list  (previously posted)

Enjoy creating with Intellitools!



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


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.


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!!


Bookshare & RFB&D Memberships – Free!

Free Resources for Individuals with Print Disabilities! 


Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic

Everyone should know about these free memberships made available through  grants by the US Department of Education – Office of Special Education. I often find people are not aware of Bookshare and Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic, both wonderful, free services for individuals with print disabilities.  Here is a quick lowdown of the services and links to the websites and membership information.

 Booshare – Bookshare provides books and periodicals for indivdiduals with print disabilities. Bookshare is free to all US students with a qualifying disability. Bookshare provides a free membership to K-12 US school districts through a grant from the OSEP. Bookshare provides a searchable data base of books by author, title which are available in different print or formats. It does not provide audio files. Individual memberships and organizational memberships are available. Check the membership qualifications through this link:

Bookshare Membership Options  – Find information on how to become a member, who is eligible through this link.

Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic

Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic  (RFB& – Provides accessible materials to individual with visual and learning disabilities. From trade to text books RFB&D provides access to electronic and audiobooks to individual who qualify as print disabled. Free individual memberships are available to those who qualify, memberships to schools and educators are on a fee basis. RFB&D provides a searchable digital audio catalog to see what books and resources they have available. Samples are available on their website to experience the quality of their product.

RFB&D Membership Information  – Find information on individual, school and educator through this link.

And what is a “Print Disability”?    That is another web blog posting or two! Check on each organization’s website for their qualifications.

If you are interested in what qualifies as a Print Disability more indepth information can be found at Cast’s Accessible Instructional Materials website.

Accessible reading for everyone!!


Favorite iPad/iPod Apps

There are many, many resources for great apps for the iPad and iPod, but sifting through them for individual student needs and trialing them takes time. In the search for apps that are motivating for students but also meet their IEP needs in the area of  early writing development, a few favorites have emerged. Here are a few of my favorite apps:

iWrite Words

iWrite Words

iWrite Words

Focused on phonetic awareness, letter formation, letter  and word recognition, this app has a beautiful interface, is interactive and provide explicit instruction on the sequence of letter formation. Numbers guide the student in the correct motor sequence to form the letter. When the  letter is completely written it generates a floating  letter that isto be flung away at the bottom of the screen before another letter to be worked on is generated. Very interactive!

iWrite Words

It is a favorite of staff for its instructional qualities but more importantly a favorite of students.

Alphabet Tracing

Alphabet Tracing is a free app that also supports letter and number formation using a moving train moving in the direction of correct letter or number production.


Alphabet Tracing


Alphabet Tracing

Early childhood as well as kindergarten students were motivated to create letters using this app on an iPad. The visual sequence provided, along with its interactive – hands on practice helped students  recall the appropriate sequence to form a letter. Providing them auditory cues to the sequence further reinforced appropriate skill development.

ABC Pocket Phonics 


ABC PocketPhonics


Another favorite, ABC Pocket Phonics provides phonics development, letter formation and word games. It is interactive and motivates  students who are learning early literacy skills.

ABC PocketPhonics

Both ABC PocketPhonics and iWriteWords are available in lite versions  meaning they are free,  partial versions of the software allowing trial to determine if they provide the type of intervention needed.

The iPad and iPod provide so many wonderful apps for learning!



Where was PaperRater when I was in college? Could editing your writing be any easier than this? And it’s free?

PaperRater is a free  (yes its true for the time being)  grammar and spell checking tool that also will help you with proof reading and editing your writing. It is recommended for secondary and post secondary level students to help improve their writing. Created by grad students and linguistic professionals, the goal of PaperRater  is to proofreader services  for written composition.

PaperRater is simple to use.

1.  Copy your text and paste it into the PaperRater “Analyze Your Paper” field.



2. Select your educational level and type of paper you are submitting

3. Agree to the terms of services.

4. Click on the Get Report button

5. Proof reading suggestions are provided on  spelling, grammar andthe style of your writing.

PaperRater Analyzer

Although this may make your instructor cringe, for writers needing assistance, whether students, employees or for daily functional computer based tasks, I think this is a fabulous editing tool! Also instructor should know that this tool will detect plagarism.

Why not use a tool that will help you be a better writer?? Check it out yourself the next time you are sending an email, writing a proposal or a research paper!


E-Book Reader Reviews

Kindle, Nook, BeBook, Kobo, Sony Reader, Astak, iPod/iTouch… 

and the list of e-book readers goes on and on!

ebook readers
Ebook Readers

It’s the season for gifting. If I were to judge by the number of questions asked about e-book readers it appears this is a hot item on givers lists this year! With so many devices to choose from, how do you sift through the choices to get a device that mets your needs?

With all the E-book readers flooding the market it is difficult to decide on electronic book device purchase. As an assistive technology quester I am always on the hunt for devices to support our special needs clients and exploring methods of delivering accessible print for them.  Although I do not yet own a specific e-book reader,  a number of them are on my radar that seem to have features that support access to print for individuals with special needs. I have been working with ebook reader apps for the iPad as well as the PC  such as vBookz, Blio and Kindle for PC but continue to explore dedicated ebook reader device features for  students and clients I service. This post provides a few  web based reviews/resources I found helpful to help sift through devices and their features. Also listed are questions that will guide (using Joy Zabala’s SETT Framework) you in thinking about what features you need to look for if you are making a ebook reader purchase for individuals with special needs.

First here are questions to consider what the readers needs are:

  • Student/User – Who is the user, what skills or learning mode allows them the best access to content? Does the user  need to pictures and text, do they need books read out loud (text to speech) to access print? Do they have any motor concerns for access to the device? Is the print size and clarity easy to access  for the individual ? Does the user need larger print for visual access?
  • Environment(s) – Where will it be used, how long will the device be used, what kind of battery life do you want it to have?
  • Task(s)  – What is it going to be used for? What kind of content do you want on it? Curriculum materials,  reading books already in print, reading articles,  news, magazines? Are the books or materials you want to use on the device available in electronic format? If not, what kind of file formats can be uploaded or converted to the device? What  file formats can the device manage? 

I have been researching  information on e-book reader devices for a while. Here are a few web resources I found that provides extensive current information on features, specifications and reviews of e-book reading devices to help sort through device selection:

eBook – Reader 2011 Comparison

Top Ten Reviews website provides reviews of 16 different e-book readers including specifications, cost, features, ranking  on a 1-5  scale (poor to excellent),  user review and formating information in an easily viewable chart. The Top Ten Reviews website also provides suggestions for what to look for in an e-book reader such as  design, content management, cost, memory and battery life, as well as additional features.  Pictures and links to videos and vendor information is also help with understanding device features.

The chart or table produced by Top Ten Review was ideal to quickly weed through important features and specifications when considering an e-book reader for special needs, especially if considered for use if managing curriculum based materials in a school system (see article indicating the Feds Require Accessibility to EReaders) . Listed on this review included 4 of the 16 that had text to speech capabilities, important information for accessibility requirements in schools if applying their use in general education (see above article).

The Ebook Reader Wiki 

 The Mobile Reader Wiki provides an extensive matrix of comparisons of ebook readers according to size (5″, 6″ and larger), features, content, formating compatibility design, cost as well as additional features. The matrix information is presented in a chart allowing ease of  reviewing  extensive information at a glance. A source of device  specifications and feature information but it does not rate or provide reviews of the devices. Still well worth perusing to gather extensive device feature information.


Another website reviewing over 30 e-book readers. The website provides information on not only dedicated e-book readers but also devices such as iPad, Galaxy Tab and enTourage Edge which are mobile tablet PC’s that can be used as an e-book reader. Review and rating categories of overall, usability, design and value for the money are provided. Discussion of the features, ratings and user reviews are provided along with cost of the device. Updated information is provided, helpful with the frequent changes  and upgrades made with electronic devices and operating systems.  Another website worth the visit to gather information on devices.

The website eBook Reader Reviews is dedicated in entirety to the discussion of eBook Readers for more informed decision-making. 

There are many sources of information on e-book readers on the Internet of which the reviews for mentioned are only a few. I hope they are helpful. If you have a great resource please share in the comments!

Look for more information coming in future posts on managing document  or PDF file conversion for use in e-book readers!

AT Quester