Friday, February 27, 2009

Free Web-based CalcuType Adds Scanning to Math Functions

We are always looking for math interfaces for assistive technology. CalcuType is a simple browser-based switch-accessible writing tool with word prediction that also does mathmatical equations and writes out your work.

Dr. Gary Bishop, Progessor of Computer Science at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill has co-developed and is sharing their program and asking for input. He let me know that although there are other programs out there that do what theirs does, they have added a couple of special features he shared:

"First, the word prediction also does arithmetic. If you type 3+5*2 the suggested completion will be =13. It handles complicated expressions and enables the student to show their work by including text and equations along with their solutions. We think all the vendors of word prediction systems should integrate mathematics into their software. Additionally it allows the student to write on a worksheet represented as an HTML form... It still needs work but we'd love to get feedback from users who would benefit from it."

Calcutype uses an on-screen keyboard with a math window interface. You can configure the setiings you want and open a URL window with it ready to go or use a regular keyboard. You use it to write a document, fill in a form, do math homework, etc. On their web page they share that this is a web-based application that works within the browser and has an embedded calculator. I got the best results using the Firefox web browser. I would highly recommend using the CalcuType with Firefox. I had some problems with IE and Google Chrome, although that might be a problem with our security and firewall at work and not in the program. I love thta it is customizable and works off of the web - so there is nothing to install.
I used a switch interface USB and 2 jelly bean switches for scanning access and it worked great. The developers would really like your input too. They were great to respond and work with me to answer questions. Check them out below.

CalcuType link

It could be interesting to add text to speech and play with a text reader toolbar with it to see what it does. There are several. The click speak embeds in the Firefox browser and Natural Reader is a floating toolbar anywhere on your screen.

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!


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