Thursday, September 25, 2008

Accommodations for Students: Roll Up Your Sleeves and Do it!

I am hearing: "We should be using this for ALL our students!" and "What about our students with learning difficulties that aren't on an IEP? Shouldn't we be helping them use this too?"
These are the comments I am hearing more and more as I travel around our districts and share great tools like Intellitools/Cambium Learning's new Version 4 of Classroom Suite, Premiere Literacy's Accessibility Suite, text to speech tools that are free online and methods to use the cheap Jump drive Mp3 players you can get at the big name chain stores for $29.95.
As I demonstrate AT tools for learning, the common element that always comes up is the concern for the kids that need these tools but don't qualify for an IEP. I sat in a sped teacher's office yesterday morning and we discussed a whole lot of tools like the ones mentioned above. We discussed how the school needs to implement these tools and train the teachers so everyone can benefit. The problem is, "We discussed". I am tired of "cussing and discussing" as one of my elders used to say.
I have begun implementation. I am training teachers. I am writing about it on my blog. I am challenging administrators. As I said in a monthly special ed teachers meeting for another ESD where I spoke and demonstrated print disability tools this month, "Lets stop talking about it and roll up our sleeves and do it."

Here are some ideas to get your ball rolling:
1. Experiment with a scanner. Try scanning a page as a text file instead of an image file. Clean up the text file, i.e. delete misspells and numbers, lines, dashes, etc. Get it readable ready.

2. Try a free text reader like Natural Reader. Download it to your computer and then open the window and copy/paste in your text from the scanned page - hear it read. You have made one quantum leap!

3. Try using Firefox as a browser and use some of the add-on tools that are free like Click-speak and the Google Gadget Merriam Webster Dictionary support.

4. Play with Mp3's. Try experimenting with odiogo on a blog you set up for free somewhere like Blogger just to convert text to Mp3 files.This is just the beginning, but it gives you a start.

We will have to talk about how to start implementing this with students in an up coming post.

All the best to you!

Lon Thornburg is an assistive technology specialist and professional development trainer who lives in Oregon and serves 12 districts in 7 counties. He hosts the No Limits 2 Learning Blog and The No Limits 2 Learning Live Talk Show on Blog Talk Radio. He is sharing as a contributing writer on LD LIVE!

1 comment:

Ron Starc said...

The current best text to speech software is Text Speaker. It has customizable pronunciation, reads anything on your screen, and it even has talking reminders. The bundled voices are well priced and sound very human. Voices are available in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and more. Easily converts blogs, email, e-books, and more to MP3 or for listening instantly.