Saturday, November 21, 2009

Needs Assessment - Hardware

Metzgar Elementary School
Assistive Technology Plan - Hardware

I. Targeted Population

Students with mobility disorders (MD) such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injuries, spine injuries, cerebral palsy and congenital abnormalities may have difficulties accessing computers and/or completing classroom tasks. Providing assistive technology in Metzgar Elementary School for this population would allow them the same opportunities that their peers have to succeed in school.

II. Why do you want to use technology

The proposed technology will bring more independence to students with mobility disorders. Technology would also decrease the time it takes for them to complete a task.

III. For what activities will you be using technology?

Technology will be used to assist students when they are using the computers in the library lab.

IV. How are you completing these activities now?

Currently, library aids are assisting the students. Complications have occurred when aids were not available.

V. When and how often would you use technology throughout a typical day?

This technology would be used during library instruction and any free library time. That constitutes about 2-3 hours daily.

VI. What goals do you plan on achieving by using technology?

By utilizing this technology, our goals are to bring more independence, confidence and competence to our MD students.

VII. Are these environments accessible for technology?

The library computer lab is highly accessible for all of the proposed technology.

XIII. Hardware

Logitech – Webcam Pro 9000 – $79.00

Justification: A webcam that is hooked up to a computer can be used to track a user’s head motion that will in turn move the mouse thus making this task hands-free. Our MD students with limited hand movement will not have to wear uncomfortable headgear or manipulate a foot mouse thereby making this option more discrete and attractive to hesitant students. There are many types of head/eye control software that will work with a common webcam. Webcams can also be used for many other tasks thereby making it an economic and practical piece of hardware. Also important, it does not require a complicated setup process.

Cyber Acoustics Speech Recognition Stereo Headset - $44.99

Justification: This piece of hardware, when used with any number of speech recognition software will allow the user to dictate documents and manipulate the keyboard with voice commands. It cancels out background noise which is always a concern in a busy library. The user will not have to raise his or her voice above a normal speaking level. No elaborate setup is required.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AT MODULE 2

I must say that www.enablemart.com is a really extensive site for assistive technology. I found so many devices that used technology that I didn’t even know was developed and available yet. While looking through the site I was reminded of a girl I went to elementary school with. She had mobility problems and was in a wheelchair. Her movements could be very spastic at times. I found three devices that I think would be very helpful for students with these same mobility problems. First, I would invest in the Clearview Head Pointer. This is a great device that lets students with mobility issues independently type. Another device that I would recommend using with the Clearview Head Pointer is a Waterloo Adjustable Keyboard tray. This would allow the keyboard to be tilted toward the user and therefore make it easier for them to use the Head Pointer to type. Another device that could be successfully used with the Head Pointer is the SofType 4.2 On-Screen Keyboard. With this software, one could make a customized word list. The librarian could construct a word list containing commonly used words and post the key-combination on the side of the computer for all users. Also, with SofType you can change the keyboard layout, color and size. Making the keys larger would help with accuracy when using the Head Pointer. In fact, SofType would benefit all types of learners thereby making it an economically pleasing choice for all school budgets.

As I stated above, EnableMart is a one-stop wonder store for all things that fall under the assistive technology category. They should advertised more and make themselves known. Many teachers, parents and business owners could benefit from all the software and hardware available on this website.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

AT MODULE 1

In my Google Reader, I subscribe to a blog named Library Stuff. I thought it was very interesting that I read this post right before I started to explore The National Federation of the Blind’s website. The following article is about a school that will not invest in Kindle until it develops a way that visually impaired students can easily turn the “read aloud” function on.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_TEC_KINDLE_BLIND?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

After reading the article I thought, wow, here I figured that Kindle would be the greatest new invention for the visually impaired. I never thought of how they would turn it on. I guess that goes to show how much I take my vision for granted. I would have thought that the designers of Kindle would have consulted a visually impaired person to make sure it was fully functional for them.

I found an awesome website called http://www.mathsisfun.com/braille-translation.html. It translates texts and numbers into Braille. You can then print it out. The site suggests putting little drops of glue on the dots so they can be felt. I think that I would get some of those raised dot candies. I think this is a great alternative to buying a brailler (which is like $970.00 for an electric one) because it is free. Of course, when I am a librarian, I will try and convince the powers that be that this would be a good investment. I am not a teacher; however, I would think one of the best ways to teach your students Braille would be to bring in a blind person or ask a blind student to show them how it is done.

The “link for teachers” at the National Center for Learning Disabilities had a lot of information. I didn’t see specific lesson plans the address the different issues that students with LD have. That would be nice. I am not a teacher, but I do know many people that have learning disabilities (my brother for one). My neighbors are Mexican and their youngest son has trouble with the English language (not speaking it, but learning the grammar rules). If I were a teacher, I would keep these types of learners in mind and try and modify my lessons to include and benefit them as well. As they said on the website (and this is important to remember) many people with learning disabilities are very intelligent, they just process information differently.