But, back to this blog...I visited Enable Mart and was amazed at all of the hardware and software available for those with disabilities. The keyboards with large keys, with altered shapes, and with voice recognition are amazing. I enjoyed the YouTube video called We can because we think we can. Absolutely amazing! I also think that the adaptive tools including adaptive mice, Roller Joy, Magic Touch, and others, for moving around the screen, are very cool. Beth Ann Luciana's - a DynaVox Success Story about a woman with Cerebral Palsy who gets a voice with her DynaVox. I got a bit teary eyed, such a great story.
I thought about students at my school that might benefit from AT. Having voice recognition would be helpful to those who have motor skill disabilities. We had a student with vision disabilities. How nice it would have been to have had Portable Magnifiers for her. Her aid was constantly enlarging with the copier but it wasn't always easy to read. I know we have a student with a hearing disability. The teacher and student use an amplification system. I know when I substituted I was in several classes where those were used. Such an easy solution and so useful! I know that many classes have microphones. Such a wonderful thing for students and their teacher's voices. I'm thinking that there are quite a few students who could use the Voice Cue devices to remind them when to move on to a new task, or when time is up. Just setting a timer would be a less techie way to achieve that, but it might be more noticeable to other students.
For my AT Hardware plan I choice to find technology that would help my Kindergarten students who are struggling with letter recognition and sounds. I will be teaching 3 beginning after Thanksgiving, who so far this year only recognize 1 or 2 letters and their sounds, unaided. Granted that one day those students may have IEP's but they do not at this point. So, in funding AT equipment I would need to look to our Parent Teacher Organization, and/or the district, or federal funds from Title 1. Currently I use many items with them that I'd call low or "nontechie". We use play dough, magnetic letters, puppets, picture cards, puzzles, poems, and many other tools to help them with their sounds. I believe that if they were motivated or stimulated my even more means it might "click". If monies were available I would ask for :
Leap Desk Workstation. This multisensory tool is for Pre K-1st grade for phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. I'd love to have 3 or 4 of them over a period of time but could make do with one that they could be taught to use independently while I worked with the other students. (One workstation is $345, 4 stations would be $1, 380.00) This workstation is also a tool for assessment as what they have done is recorded. If the funds were not available we do have access to computers that just need head phones, software and I'd add wireless mice. This software is Leap Into Phonics for 5 stations, I found 5 Caliphone headphones with boom microphones, and 5 Microsoft wireless Mice on sale. (for 5 stations hardware and software would be $266.95) I believe either of these would be a positive addition to my current teaching tools. Practice and motivation are powerful tools.
I have really enjoyed this week's tasks. There are so many wonderful tools to assist those with disabilities. I hope that as I continue to grow as a teacher, and someday a librarian, that I will be able to offer technological tools and work with students with disabilities to help them achieve their dreams. What a wonderful educational experience!