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AbleData – Resource for Assistive Technology for Students

AbleData is a website that provides data for users to find information about a very wide variety of assistive technology.  AbleData is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), which is part of the US Department of Education.

abledata

The Products Page

The Products page is the heart of this site.  Users can search for assistive technology resources that can help students based on a particular need.  This site provides 20 broad categories like daily living, walking, communication, or mobility.  After selecting a major category, sub categories appear with various assistive technology options.  The options are links to learn more information about the assistive technology.  For example, let’s say you have a student who is having difficulty moving around the room.  You can select mobility as the main category and then see a variety of options like carts, manual wheel chairs, scooters, powered wheel chairs, sport wheel chairs, and accessories.  When you select a link, there will be a brief synopsis of the assistive technology device, the approximate cost, and vendors for the specific product.  This information can then be used to make suggestions to the IEP team, administrators, or even the parents.

The Products page also has a classified section where users can post either re-sales of assistive technology or want ads for needed assistive technology.  All of the process is screened through AbleData.

The Resources Page

The Resources page includes information such as information centers, conferences and companies that can help users to learn more about assistive technology.   This information can provide teachers with a wealth of resources for various disabilities, services, technology, professional development, and other resources.  You could use this page to find out information about the largest Assistive Technology Conference (ATIA) that is being held this week in Orlando.

The Library Page

The library contains three sections:  publications, literature and news.  The Publications page includes fact sheets and consumer guides about the various products that they provide information for on their products page.  This page also contains links with recent articles written from the National Institute for Rehabilitation Engineering.  The Literature page includes a search box and list to find recent articles, books, and publications about assistive technology.  I found this information very useful to learn more about the current trends of assistive technology.  The News You Can Use page is very similar to a blog about assistive technology.  Posts are made every few weeks including links to various resources, surveys, conferences, or other hot topics about disabilities and assistive technology.

My AbleData Account

If you create a free AbleData account, you are able to save the assistive technology devices that you would need to access again either to share with school staff members or parents, or for your future review.

AbleData is a great resource for all individuals who are involved in working with individuals with disabilities.  It can help to provide you with the most current assistive technology trends and application information.

Article By Laura Ketcham

Free Teacher Resources | Special Education by MangoMon by MangoMon

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Awesome Talking Library for Students

I came across the Awesome Talking Library when I was searching for information based on previous blog posts and thought this was a great free computer resource I just had to write about!

awesome library

The Awesome Talking Library is a free downloadable software program that was created by Code-it Software Solutions.  This program is a speaking web browser.  You download the program to your computer and install it, and then run it like you would any other web browser. (Note:  In the install directions there was a note that an extra program was needed to run “The Awesome Talking Library” on a Windows XP machine – this extra download was not necessary for me to run the program.)

Talking Web Browser Feature

The most useful feature of the program is that it will read what is on the browser screen back to the student.  The student can choose to have the whole page read aloud or the student can select the text that needs to be read.  When the user selects the “Speak” option, the whole page is read and when the user selects the “Selected” option, then only the selected text is read.  The speaking can be stopped by either using the “Stop” button or the “Quit Speak” option.  Students can just surf the net and then use the speaking options to help with the reading of the pages.  This can help students who struggle to read or who may have vision impairments.  I could even see this program being used in a traditional classroom setting for all students as it would be helpful for younger students who are learning to read and pronounce words.

Awesome Library Homepage

When the program is opened, you are directed to the Awesome Library Homepage, which is a search engine for educational online resources.  On this page, users can select age and topics specific educational and fun online resources.  Search options are included for teachers, kids, teens, college students, parents, and librarians.  The Literature links for kids and teens provide online books that students can use with the program to have them read aloud.

Options

There are many different options that make this program unique and easy for students with special needs to browse the Internet. This program has larger navigation buttons at the top of the screen to move forward and back through searched web pages.  There are also other options available in the program.  Users can change the voice options with speed, pitch, type, and volume level.  They can also choose to have a character on the screen to speak the words.  This would be especially helpful to keep younger students Interested in the program as the pre-loaded options for the program include a Butter Cup (a Powder Puff Girl) and Merlin the Wizard.  Other characters can be loaded into the program as well.  The best feature of the characters is that you can choose to turn on speaking “bubbles” to actively show the student what is being read.

The browser can also be set to different modes including Adult, boy, and girl.  This changes the color of the screen along with the character options without having to make multiple options selections.

This assistive technology browser also includes standard browser options like being able to save and print web pages, allowing or denying pop ups, and the ability to add bookmarks and load bookmarks from Internet Explorer.   There are also standard forward and back buttons to navigate back and forth through pages.

The “Surfn’ Notes” option is great for students.  They can load this option and small screen loads where students can take notes while surfing online.  They can save their notes and then load them later.  These notes can also be copied and pasted into a Word Processing Program for them to use in a paper or an outline.

The “Helpster” option is the help section for the browser to help users get started.   It provides an interactive and spoken process to help a student to learn how to use the program.  It might be a good place to have students begin the program.

This is a great free program that both teachers and parents should download to help their students and children when surfing the net.

Article By Laura Ketcham

Free Teacher Resources | Special Education by MangoMon by MangoMon

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Interactive eBooks with TumbleBooks | Exceptional Students

tumblebook ebooks

 

TumbleBooks, an interactive eBook website for students in grades K-12.  I stumbled upon this site while browsing the Miami-Dade Public Library website.  With a library card, residents of Miami-Dade County have access to this fee-based site for FREE.  Upon further research, I also learned that licenses are also available for schools and other libraries.  The rates for the service are very reasonable, especially for such a high-quality resource.  Trial subscriptions are also available and give you full-access to the site for 30 days.

TumbleBooks Features

The TumbleBook Library has a collection of animated eBooks and unabridged audiobooks.  The animation is simplistic, yet very appealing and the audio features of both types of books provide energetic readings with appropriate inflections.  They have many children’s books including those from the top children’s book publishers available in their eLibrary.  Students can even email their favorite stories to family and friends or even narrate and record their own TumbleBook.

The eBook can be read in two different ways.  In automatic mode, the eBook is read to student and the pages turn automatically.  In manual mode, the student reads at his or her own pace and turns pages on their own.  A pause button for students or teachers is available to pause the book.  This would be a great tool for whole class instruction.  This site is easy to navigate and easy to use, even for younger students.

In the Classroom

TumbleBooks can be used in a variety of different ways in the classroom.  It can be used for skill building with whole-class, small group, individual instruction, or as an enrichment activity.  Many of the books also correlate with cross-curriculum subjects.  The eBooks can then be integrated as one part of a larger unit.

If a school subscription is purchased, students at the school have unlimited access to TumbleBooks, including having accessibility at home. School subscriptions also include the ability to assign post-reading quizzes, which contain multiple choice questions about the eBooks the student just read.  Another great feature is that after reading a book, students have the ability to create book reports, right within TumbleBook.  They just fill out the book report online and then print!

ESL Features

TumbleBooks are available in three different languages: English, French, and Spanish.  The different eBooks can then be viewed in any of those languages.  Students can read the eBook in their primary language and then read the eBook again in English.  The student can then scaffold the words that they learned to understand the concepts and vocabulary from the story.

Special Education Features

TumbleBooks is a great learning resource for special education teachers and students.  One accessibility feature available in TumbleBooks is the ability to change the font size.  Students can make the font size larger or smaller depending on their sight impairment.  Another feature is that the books can be read aloud to the students.  As the book is being read aloud, the text is highlighted.  This makes is easier for students to follow along.   Even students with limited vision would find TumbleBooks engaging.  The stories are read with more expression than traditional audiobooks, which makes them appealing for students.  For students who are independent readers, they can set TumbleBooks to allow them to read the book at their own pace.  Books can also be replayed easily for further re-teaching or reviewing by the student or teacher.

TumbleBooks Teacher Guide & Features

TumbleBooks also provides a Teacher’s Guide.  This guide contains themes, activities, templates, creative classroom ideas for the different eBooks.  There are also lesson plans, worksheets, puzzles, and games to use in conjunction with the eBooks.  The guided activities and worksheets also have modifications for students of different reading levels: emerging, developing, and accomplished.

Another cool teacher feature is that the teacher can view usage of the site to see how long your students have been using the site.  Teachers can also pre-load books to their favorites area of the site so that story time can be more efficient.  The site also provides a very easy to use search options by title, author, language, or newly added.

TumbleBooks is definitely a reading resource you should look into for ALL of your different learners.

Article by Laura Ketcham

Free Teacher Resources | Special Education by MangoMon by MangoMon

 

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