Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Using Stimulus Dollars to Build Your Essential Assistive Technology Toolbox

What Essentials are in Your Toolbox?

I was asked to recommend some tools that I consider "staples of the trade" to put in a tollbox for special ed classrooms. I was asked to keep it "reasonable" in cost and equip with the essentials. I might be sticking my neck out here, but I thought I would throw my list out to you and get your feedback. What am I missing? What would be better? Give us your ideas... remember, in this scenario there is money to spend!

My Toolbox List:
Boardmaker software $399 (Mayer Johnson)
Super Talker Progressive Communicator - $339 (Ablenet)
2 Jelly Bean switches - $45 each (Ablenet)

1 Switch Interface Pro USB 5.0 - $99 (Don Johnston)

1 Big Mack Communicator - $109 (Ablenet)

1 Big Red Switch - $45 (Ablenet)

I Universal Mount - $80 (Ablenet)

1 Powerlink 3 - $189 ( I would get a cheap radio to use with it) (Ablenet)

2 Battery Interrupters (AA and C/D sizes) - $12 each (Enabling Devices)

1 Touchscreen (13"-15") - $179 (Don Johnston)

1 Canon Canoscan LiDE 200 flatbed scanner with OmniPage SE OCR software- $99

1 Mp3/voice recorder/audiobook flash drive player - $39.95 (RCA Pearl)

Don Johnston SOLO Literacy Suite with Talking Word Processor, Graphic Organizer, Text Reader, Word Prediction. - $749 (Don Johnston)

(A free suite of tools with some lower-end tools like on SOLO comes in Access Apps as a download to put on a 2GB flashdrive) A low cost alternative I recently discovered is Confident Reader. It will not read DAISY files, but you can get one that does free online from Bookshare.org if you have an account, They also have a free version of a Don Johnston Reader.

There are so many great software tools like Classroom Suite, Clicker 5, Kurzweil 3000, etc. but with the tools above I could do alot - I think I could survive fairly well actually. I also know there are lots of different kinds of switches, but we have our equipment center to trial varities of switches so I would check them out and get them as needed. There are low-end ideas like pencil grips, see-through color strips, etc. What are your resources? (things you would want to be on your list?)

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!


Karen Janowski said...

Great list - I would include ICS 4 and Clicker 5 and would add Inspiration v. 8 and a Flip video camera.
And of course, please encourage the districts to add the cost of professional development to ensure they know what to do with the tools! Availability of hardware and software alone is just the beginning.

Lon said...

Thank you for your input. Excellent suggestions! Without follow through, implementation and training it all means nothing!