Therese Willkomm of Assistive Technology in New Hampshire (ATinNH), has published Assistive Technology Solutions In Minutes, Book II: Ordinary Items, Extraordinary Solutions, her second collection of ingenious, do-it-yourself adaptations to make adaptive products more accessible to students with disabilities.
All the solutions are low-cost, can be made with simple, everyday tools (e.g. utility knife, pliers, scissors), and require no electricity or power tools -- one of Willkomm's development principles.
Many Willkomm creations make assistive technology products easier to access, hold, or manipulate with display stands, switches, or
This 236-page full-color text contains over 750 photographs with step-by-step instructions and a DVD featuring 115 video clips, printable PDFs, and an accessible copy of the book with picture descriptions for persons with visual impairments.
Assistive Technology Solutions In Minutes - Book II costs $50.00 and is available from the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability. Proceeds from book will used to purchase assistive technology for ATinNH's Device Loan and Demonstration Program.
Earl is a voice-controlled, text-to-speech app for iOS devices that enables persons who are blind to listen to stories from over 300 newspapers, magazines, and websites.
The app is not only accessible to blind users, it's completely non-visual, i.e. it displays no text or controls, voice commands execute all functions, and a Quick Guide teaches you how to use Earl the first time you open it.
Earl comes with three newspapers: the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. Users can add others to their preferred list for easy reading access.
The app is free and lets you play 3 articles a day. To hear more or to add papers, you have to subscribe for $9.99 per month or $99 per year.
If access to the Brisbane Times, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and the Jerusalem Post makes you more efficient at work or rounds out your pleasure reading, then no -- The app's convenience and ease of use justify the cost.
For most readers, however, the granularity isn't there yet, i.e. access to one's local, state, and regional paper and enough specialty magazines to create a reading list worth paying for.
Earl does offer many great publications, including: the Atlantic, Baltimore Sun, Pravda, Rolling Stone, the Times of India, the Utne Reader, and Wired.
One hopes its network grows to offer a selection worthy of a Netflix-type fee.
Bookshare is the world's largest online library with over 195,000 titles. Students with qualifying print disabilities can download books to their computer or mobile device and play the DAISY files using a screen reader or book player such as the Victor Reader Stream.
To participate, a student must do three things:
- Create a list of the books you want to read
- Read as many of your selected books as possible before July 1st
- Tell Bookshare (prior to July) which book was your favorite and why.
Winners receive a tablet computer of their choice (a $350 value); second-place finishers receive gift cards (a $50 value); third-place finishers receive Read2Go iOS app licenses (a $20 value).
Parents and teachers must make sure their students or children have active individual memberships. Visit Bookshare for more information.
Texthelp's Read&Write Gold 11 for PC is a customizable toolbar that sits atop Windows applications and provides literacy support features (including text-to-speech and dual-color highlighting) to help students with print disabilities read, research, and write more effectively.
The program also enables students, teachers, and staff members to convert text into alternative formats to make educational content more accessible.
This new iteration expands voice options and extends toolbar support to the popular web browsers, Chrome and Firefox.
For me, Texthelp's Read&Write product line reflects what the digital age has done for and to assistive technology: all the tools -- once created and sold separately by specialty manufacturers -- are now merely building blocks developers can add to any application. Most are available as free apps.
So pulling many tools together and enabling access to them in any application is now the gold standard.
The iPad Tactile Screenshot Quick Reference iOS 6, by Tom Dekker and Tactile Vision Inc., is a 24-page book of tactile screenshot diagrams designed to orient blind iPad users about what's on their device and where.
The print images large print text appear on the left; the raised line drawings and braille on the right.
This new book can help readers can become more adept at finding and using iPad icons and elements. It's designed for multimodal exploration: one hand on the tactile diagram, the other on the iPad.
It's a great addition to NBP's growing list of braille iOS guides.
Michael Yudin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education visited Perkins School for the Blind's 8th annual science fair on May 3rd to encourage students and teachers to focus on science and mathematics.
Yudin observed Perkins education programs in a local public school and toured the Watertown campus, including the Lower School and Grousbeck Center for Students & Technology, which uses state-of-the-art technology to make learning accessible and relevant.
"The president has said that STEM - science, technology, engineering and math - are so critical to our country," Yudin told the a gathering of about 100 students and staff, including more than two dozen students who submitted to the science fair. "It's critical for our ability to compete in the global economy. That we need more scientists."
It has a 24" HD color monitor, intuitive controls, and an ergonomic design. It integrates text-to-speech and optical character recognition and enables users to save documents and images onto an SD card or USB drive.
The ClearView+ Speech has restored some of the standalone video magnifier's relevance, but there's a too little--too late (and way too expensive) feel greeting its arrival.
I think incorporating assistive technologies a touchscreen is great, but if I had $3,895 to spend on a reading and magnification solution, I'd get a laptop, HD monitor, scanner, iPad, and a Pebble Mini and still have over $2,000 to deploy into software, peripherals, and services.
The last, best hope for the CCTV is making the lap- or desktop PC or Mac easier by building on its superior camera, image clarity, and touchscreen navigation.
Were someone to gift me with a ClearView+ Speech, I'd be grateful and use it often. But justifying a purchase is something few low-vision individuals can do.
Stream users who have accessed Audible content in the past can download a free software update from the HumanWare website. The authorization process is unchanged.
New Stream users can go to Audible.com > Device Center > Audible Manager PC software > HumanWare Devices to download and install the new software.
The Victor Reader Stream plays Audible.com's library in its highest quality formats: Format 4 and Audible Enhanced Audio.
Software release notes, the Stream user guide, an FAQ, and other resources are available in the support section of HumanWare's website.
Creating an alternative text station is among the fastest and easiest ways schools can ensure that all educational materials -- such as books, worksheets, and handouts -- are accessible to all students.
And, as the saying goes, it's not just a good idea, it's the law.
A dedicated, web-enabled laptop, scanner, OCR, and literacy software will solve almost any text accessibility issue a student, teacher, or school will face.
All tolled, we're talking less than $1,000 -- and probably much less, as grants make programs such as Read&Write GOLD available for free in some state programs.
As assistive technology expands in education, healthcare, and publishing, certification through RESNA -- the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America -- has become a crucial requirement for aspiring and established AT professionals.
Certification helps ensure persons with disabilities receive a consistently high level of service whenever the evaluation, procurement, and implementation of technology can enhance independence and quality of life.
RESNA-certified Assistive Technology Professionals (ATP) help students at all education levels, working adults with disabilities, and seniors seeking to increase mobility, communication, and social interaction.
The main obstacle en route to becoming an ATP is the certification exam -- 200 multiple choice questions on all aspects of technology assessment and implementation -- one takes after meeting specific education and work experience standards.
Anyone in this field should strongly consider applying for certification, before technology's rapid evolution adds more interconnected complexity to what one must know.