Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dynamic Keyboard

Dynamic Keyboard is a free software program that provides a reduced target on-screen keyboard with word prediction. 

The keyboard is difficult to explain in words but it offers a simple interface to enter text using reduced keys on the screen.  Watching a video is a better way to understand how it works, Dynamic Keyboard can be seen below in use by an typist using the (also free) myEye eye gaze tracking program.  Other access methods include Intellikeys, a mouse or mouse emulator, joystick, track ball and head tracking.  I had excellent success using it with the free head tracking program Camera Mouse.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

iPossibilities: Updated

Sorry this presentation has been removed because of an outside request.  You can see many of my slideshows at under the name teechkidz.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Guest Post: iPad AAC Apps Key Guards

Guest Post by Ricky Buchanan of ATMac

The American company Lasered Pics is now making keyguards available for the iPad. Keyguards are available which conform to the shape of the standard iPad keyboard and special-purpose keyguards for Proloquo2Go, TapSpeak Choice and Speak It! are also available. All iPad keyguards are made from 1/8″ (0.3cm) thick clear acrylic and come with optional 1/16″ (0.15cm) bumpers which can raise the keyguard above the screen to prevent accidental touches.

Proloquo2go KeyguardsStandard iPad keyboard guards come in both landscape and portrait orientations and will suit QWERTY, AZERTY and QWERTZ keyboard layouts.

Proloquo2Go keyguards are also available for both portrait and landscape orientations and keyguards can be ordered that suit all current Proloquo2Go options including standard and large toolbar sizes, and optionally “wide” mode. Tap Speak keyguards can be made to suit 2-56 items and also come in portrait and landscape orientations. Speak It doesn’t have any layout options available at the moment. Lasered Pics report they will be designing a keyguard to suit Proloquo2Go’s word prediction mode keyboard, and are also working on keyguards for additional AAC apps.

Lasered Pics keyguards can be used with the standard Apple iPad case, with no case, or with any other case that does not obstruct the front of the iPad. The website advises that the current keyguards will not fit properly when used with the OtterBox iPad case.

Keyguards are smaller than the iPad’s full size so they should fit both the original iPad and iPad 2 with no problems.

Steve from Lasered Pics has advised me that anybody wanting a keyguard for a different iPad application should contact him via the website. He couldn’t give me a price for a custom keyguard as it depends on too many factors, but it can certainly be done.

Standard iPad keyguards cost US$19.95 each, but until 31 March 2011 you can get a 10% discount for ordering 2 or more TapSpeak keyguards – use the promo code TAPSPEAK when checking out!

Guest post by Ricky Buchanan of ATMac

Both Lasered Pics and FRS-Solutions will also make custom key guards!


Talkatoos are cute and sassy talking buttons that are attached to pendants or keychains.  They hold a thiry second voice message and have a record lock to keep messages from being erased.  Talkatoo's are designed for a parent to record a reassuring message for a child or a child to play with and record him or herself.  However they might be a perfect tool for learners with disabilities who have good fine motor skills to have a talking I.D. or use for quick messages. 

Talkatoos retail for about $17.00 and can be found on Amazon, the Talkatoo Website and fine toy stores.  There is a special offer right now at the "deal a day" online line store Zulily that is offering Talkatoo's for 9.99, but you need to move fast!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Éirinn Go Brách

This Catch the Leprechaun Game is a variation of a speech and language game. Nine TOBI (True Object Based Icons) symbols were used to show natural features in a wood - stream, tree, log, flower patch, stump, cave, shrub and rock.  These were attached by velcro to a foam core board.  One student in the group was chosen to help the leprechaun hide from the rest of the group to protect his pot of gold.  That student would then be in charge of answering yes or no question asked by the other students using AAC (some students used a sequential switch others a higher tech AAC devices).  We would eliminate possible hiding places and remove the symbols showing them from the board, i.e. a student using dynamic display might ask, "on top of"? and we would remove the cave, stream and hole (as the leprechaun would be in those), etc.  Finally we would be down to two choices and a student would make a guess using either large symbol cards or the TOBI symbols left on the board.  If correct the winner would get a pot of gold symbol to exchange for a prize.

For the other activities we decorated pre-baked cupcakes with green sprinkles mixed in and we counted out gold Hershey Kisses to place in a bag decorated with this tag.  We finished the party by watching Riverdance and eating cupcakes, marshmallow and cereal squares made from Lucky Charms and juice.

Hope you had a wonderful March 17th as well!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Every state does their version of Alternative Assessment and in our state we do portfolios.  Each student grade 3-8 and grade 10 must submit a portfolio.  In general students submit portfolios in English, Math and Science and Technology.  (Massachusetts is re-writing the history test so we don't have to submit that right now.)  Each portfolio must contain at least (and if you stick to the minimums your score will be lower) two work samples and a data sheet or graph with 8 different dates that data was collected presented on it in three different "strands" within each subject area.  So bare minimum that is 27 work samples and 72 data points.  (I submit three or four work samples and a data sheet or graph with 10 different data points on it.  Thus 36-48 work samples and 90 data points.)  All of this evidence, as they call it, must show that the student is addressing grade level appropriate skills, progressing in his or her learning, participates in making decisions and/or evaluating his or her learning and attempts the skill being learned in multiple environments. 

I could digress right here about what it is we end up doing to align work that is appropriate and meaningful to our students to what the Alternative Assessment scorers want, but I will refrain.  Instead I will tell you that this year I took the only one of four portfolios my students submitted last year to earn top marks from the scorers and I analyzed it cover to cover.  I set about to use the same curriculum areas, strands and goals in this years portfolios and I attempted to make sure I had similar work samples from my students (times two because I want to submit 3-4 samples per strand).  I logged all of this into the MCAS Online App and made matching data sheets.  Once every other week or so I would go over what I had.

Which leads to right now.  We are about a week and a half from the due date and my student's portfolios are coming along.  Phew.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Help Me Read

Update May 2022 - Symbol Support Text has been proven not to prove much, if any, aid to comprehension and to be detrimental to learning to read.  This post is keep up for historical purposes.  Please don't use symbol supported text.

Out of the UK there is a new product for young emerging readers who use symbols.  Help Me Read is a reading scheme to add Widgit Literacy symbols to the Stage 1 level of Oxford Reading Tree books and other materials.  The materials include a manual communication board.

You can create books similar to the Help Me Read series by finding symbols to adapt books you all ready have. 

The NYC Schools and Baltimore City Schools have downloads of Picture Communication Symbols that are pre-made for many books.

If you support PRC device/Unity users the Plano School District as materials to adapt books using Unity Symbols.

You can also symbol adapt your own books.  Be sure to use these 5 Rules for Symbol Support.

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