Assistive Technology: What It Is & How to Use It

This webinar with Elizabeth Barry and Tina Hanson from the PACER's Simon Technology center describes the fundamentals of AT, and how to incorporate them into your child's life to enhance learning and creativity.


- Do you do like a whole intro here? All right so I think we're gonna get started. Thank you guys so much for taking the time out of your morning and joining us today. I'm Tina Hanson.

- And I'm Elizabeth Barry.

- And we're going to be talking about assistive technology, what it is and how you guys can use it with your students or your child. We have a lot of material to cover today, so we might whip through this a little fast, but we're trying to cram in a lot into one hour, so we do have a couple of handouts for you guys. One of them is the PowerPoint and the other one is a supplemental handout. So there are a lot of tools listed on that second handout and unfortunately, we just aren't gonna have enough time to get through everything.

But, oops, that's my microphone, sorry. But that's there for you guys to explore on your own. We'll demo a couple of items from each category, and if you guys have questions along the way, please feel free to just stop us and we'll tackle any questions you guys have. A couple of quick tips for a great livestream. The volume is defaulted at 50%, so if you are having trouble hearing us or things are really quiet, try increasing the sound within livestream, and if you're still having difficulties, you might want to try using a headset that might increase the sound quality.

Also too, we have a lovely moderator Bridget who will be there to answer any questions, clarify something, point you to the right direction for handouts as well. So if you guys wanted to chat with Bridget, there is a little chat option down at the bottom and you can post a quick message or ask a quick question. All right, so really quickly, we did want to talk about the PACER Center. We're a non-profit organization and we're modeled on the foundation of parents helping parents. So a lot of parents, people who work here at PACER, actually have children who have disabilities themselves, so they have navigated the K through 12 school system with their own child, which really gives the first-hand experience on guiding parents through how to advocate for their child and get them the supports that they need to be successful in education.

We started out as a really small organization and we have now blossomed into over 30 different programs here at the PACER Center. A couple of the noticeable ones are the National Bullying Prevention Center, where we educate people on the effects of bullying, what you can do if you're being bullied, and handing out information about resources for parents, teachers, and students. We also have our puppet program, which goes into schools, mostly elementary schools, and educates kids on how they can include children who have disabilities and what it means to have a disability as well. The Simon Technology Center is one of those 30 different programs. And we are really dedicated to making technology more accessible to people who have disabilities, as well as showing people how technology can support them in their everyday lives.

So a couple of core services that we do provide are a lending library, so it's kind of like your public library where people can borrow technology from us for a four week period. And it's a really great opportunity to try technology out before you go on to purchase it. We just want to make sure that people are making decisions that are right for their student and hopefully that technology is continuously being used versus just sitting on a shelf collecting dust or in a landfill. Another component to our services too, are our free technology consultations. So with the technology consultations, parents and students can come in and sit down one on one with a specialist here and we walk you through different options of assistive technology that are available to support the student or child.

This does differ from a formal assessment, so we can't formally recommend that someone uses a specific tool or device, but we can at least show you the options that are available. We've also taken over the internet as well. So we do have a Facebook page, we have Pinterest boards that are full of different technology resources, lists of technology tools that you can use, they're all divided into categories as well. We also have a YouTube channel that highlights different individuals with disabilities using assisted technology, we also have some promotional videos too, just in general for PACER. And then if you are interested in what we have to offer and what's available in our technology resource center, MyTurn is where we catalog all of our inventory. So you can go through, browse through it, it's all divided by categories, it's searchable.

So if you are interested in seeing what's available in our inventory, feel free to hop on there and check that out. All right, so we've already tackled the PACER Center and the Simon Technology Center, and the rest of the day, or hour I should say, is really going to be spent on focusing on what is assistive technology, we'll walk you through different categories that are available, and give you guys some quick demos on a few items from each category, and then last but not least, we do want to talk about the consideration process, as that is a pretty important part of this. And then the end, we'll just tackle extra resources that might be available in your area as well.

- All right, so when we think about assistive technology, assistive technology actually has two components, the devices and the tools, or the stuff that you think of when you hear the word technology and things like that, but it also has a service component as well. Legally, assistive technology is defined by IDEA, special education law, as any item, piece of equipment or product that is either purchased commercially, modified, or customized to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a student with a disability. And that can be quite a mouthful, but we like to think of it as anything that can help an individual do something that they couldn't do without it.

And so within the devices, there are wide range of devices, many, many devices, there is, they all fall kind of on a continuum of technology. So they can be no technology, they're very simple, no batteries, things like pencil grips, up to a little more sophisticated but still pretty low sophistication for low tech items. And then medium tech items start to incorporate batteries, like a switch toy here that you press the switch and then the toy activates, and then all the way up to high tech, things like tablets and computers and power wheelchairs, more kind of what you think of when you think of high technology. And so then the service piece is defined legally as anything that helps in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.

So whether it's providing information about devices, where you can buy devices or how you can fund devices, especially the more expensive devices, and then very important part, how you use the device, how can you train individuals who are working with a student what happens if you need technical support, how do you contact people, and things like that. And real quick before we dive into kind of the stuff that we're gonna look at today, we wanted to just highlight some current trends in assistive technology and that things are becoming much more portable, and smaller, and real mainstream, 'cause if you think about tablets and smartphones, they have lots of capabilities built in that can help individuals with a disability, so it's much more easier to acquire in some cases.

But then with all of these trends, the challenge can be that things are so readily available that I can just go to the store and get something, but that doesn't mean that I know how to use it. So if I just go to the Apple Store and buy an iPhone, and I've never used a smartphone before, I might need some help figuring out how I could use it to best meet my needs, and that with all of these different devices there are multiple platforms available, so we need to learn different platforms.

And there are just lots more options, so that consideration piece, which we'll talk about, becomes very important. And so as we mentioned assistive technology is a very broad category, but today we're gonna highlight these categories that are on your slide here. And within each category they fall on the continuum that we talked about earlier, but there's also many, many tools that can fall under each of these categories. And like Tina mentioned, we only have an hour today, so we're gonna demo one or two per category, but please know that there're, we intend this to be a starting point for your exploration, and that can kind of guide your next steps.

- So the first category that we wanted to talk about is daily living aids, and this really can range from a wide variety of different tools that are available, so it really just depends on where an individual is hoping to get more support so that they can be a little bit more independent. So a couple of examples that we have on our slide is tools to help with eating, with dressing, anything executive function-related as well. So I'm actually gonna switch this over really quick.

So the first one that we wanted to show you guys is actually a pretty unique tool. Oh thank you. so this one is called the Liftware spoon. And with this, if I can, ah, oh my gosh, we'll get it. So this one, it actually is used for people who have a tremor. And this is kind of hard to see since it's rotating, but you know I might actually hold this, that being said. So you can kind of see that it bends as you move it. So for people who have a tremor and they have a hard time keeping a spoon or a fork level so that they can actually eat, this kind of compensates for that. So as you're moving, it kind of moves with you and tries to balance out that movement or tremor. So this one again is called the Liftware spoon. And I believe the price on this one is about, a little under $200. They do have two different versions. There's a spoon and then there's, is there a fork one too?

- [Elizabeth] I believe so.

- Yeah, so there's a couple of different options in terms of which one you get. And then another one that we have is called the Time Timer. A lot of people have seen this one. They make a couple of different versions. There is a stand-alone device like this one, and then there's also an app built for an iPad, and I believe there's an Android version for that.

- I believe so and I think you could also get it on a smartphone as well.

- Yeah, so with a Time Timer, it's more of a visual representation of time. So you could say to one of your students, "You have 50 minutes to complete your reading assignment." And as time goes on, this red portion is going to get smaller and smaller and smaller until it gets all the way to zero. And this one is an auditory alarm, so it was probably really hard to hear, but once you hit zero it does have a little beep that lets the student or individual know that time is up and it's time to transition or move on to the next task. So this one is more of a visual representation of time, versus looking at a clock and having to figure out, you know, how many minutes you have to complete a task. This one again is the Time Timer. And I know that was really fast, but we do have a lot that we need to cover today.

- All right, so the next category is mobility and positioning, and these are tools that help individuals be more mobile if they're not able to walk or something like that and also positioning, whether it be in a chair or in a wheelchair, or things like that. So within mobility and positioning, there are wheelchairs, there are gait trainers, which an individual can use to help them walk, as well as a walker, and then a stander to be able to spend some time in that standing positioning. And then there are also positioning aids. So on your slide there, the blue chair is called a Special Tomato Chair, and that can be a way for an individual to have some seating support if they need it.

But there are also some other positioning supports. This is a balance wedge, so this is something that I could put on my chair and then sit on it if I needed some support while I was sitting in the chair, and it also has a bumpy side and then a smooth side as well, so if I wanted some sensory input, if that was helpful for me to pay attention, I could sit on the bumpy side and then I could also kind of like a stability ball or a yoga ball, also wiggle back and forth that way. We have kind of a cool chair here in our library. This is called the Vidget Chair and this is cool. This comes in different sizes, so this is the toddler size, but it comes all the way up to an adult size. But when you sit in it, it's hard to see 'cause I'm holding it up, but you can wiggle back and forth, the chair rocks from side to side. And then within these little, oops sorry about that, hand holds, there are some bumps for sensory input, but then it's modular so I can also turn it into a stool as well.

- Do you need some help?

- If I don't drop it, a table as well. So it can be kind of a nice way to get some positioning supports in the classroom or at home as well. All right, so recreation is another big category that has lots of different parts to it. So some of the pictures that you'll see in the screen is the alternate spinner on the far left there, that can be a way to introduce some games or have some input and participation in that 'cause you can push the switch and the spinner will spin. There are things like adaptive bikes, as well as adaptive art so you can participate and draw pictures and things like that as well as the adaptive paint brushes and other art tools that are on the bottom right there. But then, I'll switch this over here. Also have ways that you can adapt just a regular marker. So this tool that's on this marker is called the EazyHold, and they come in different sizes so that they have different-sized openings that can fit around different things.

So this one I've just put on a regular marker, but then I can take my hand, and if I had a child-sized hand this would work better, but I don't, and then I can grip the marker this way. So if I don't have the fine motor ability to hold a marker like this, I can just grasp it this way and color that way. You can also use EazyHolds to make it easier to hold toys, so this is the baby bottle that I might be using to feed a doll, but again I can just slide my hand in there, and then I can play with the bottle and feed the baby that way.

Another big part of the recreation category is that there are a lot of toys that have been adapted to be activated with a switch so that individuals with disabilities who might not be able to interact with toys by using their hands can then use the switch. So this toy is called Elliot Elephant, and I have him attached to a jelly bean switch here and I'm gonna have Tina push the switch. ♪ Do your ears hang low ♪ ♪ Do they wobble to and fro ♪ ♪ Can you tie them in a knot ♪ ♪ Can you tie them in a bow ♪ And so he sings a song and then, and if she pushes the switch it stops again. So it's also a great way to teach cause and effect, that I do something and something happens, and then I push the switch again and it stops. ♪ Do your ears ♪

- Whoops. I knew that was gonna happen.

- All right, now Tina's gonna talk some about environmental controls.

- So environmental controls is kind of a beast of a topic, but there's a variety of different ways that an individual can interact with their environment. So when we talk about environmental controls, there are things that are directly plugged in such as the Powerlink. Let me take this guy away, oh. Oh, thank you. So the Powerlink is more of a wired environmental control. So essentially what it does is you do have to plug it in to an outlet, but this device has two outlets built in, so you can plug in two different appliances, like a lamp or a fan, something like that.

And essentially what it does is it allows an individual to plug in a switch and then turn on that lamp or fan with a switch. And what's kind of nice is that you get to choose how you're interacting with it too. So if you wanted to be able to press the switch once and just have the light turn on and stay on, you can program it that way, if you wanted to have it just press and hold and then turn the lamp on and once you let go of that switch it would turn the lamp off, you can also set it as a timer too. So you could have your Powerlink programmed and let's say you wanted the lamp to stay on for 30 minutes when you press your switch, so you can program it time wise as well, which is kind of nice.

So this one is called the Powerlink. That one again was an example of a wired environmental control and then there are things that are wireless. So this one is called the Belkin WeMo Switch. So what you do is you plug this into an outlet, just like you would with the Powerlink, but with this one, it has its own smart outlet so you can control this with an app, either on your tablet or your smartphone and you can use the app to turn the device on and off. So if this had a lamp plugged into it, you could use that app on your iPad or smartphone and you can turn that lamp on and off which is kind of nice.

This one does require wireless internet though, so I would say that's the tricky part is kind of getting it all connected, as we all know wireless internet does not always like to cooperate with us, so sometimes the setup on these is a little time-intensive, but once it's up and running and everything is connected, they work really well. Another example of an environmental control which a lot of people have heard of would be something like Alexa or the Amazon Echo.

That's very similar to what we saw with the Belkin Switch except with that you get to control multiple devices, so sometimes people have set up like smart thermostats with them, lamps, lights, smart bulbs, things like that, and all of that is controlled with your voice, so you could say, "Alexa turn on the CC light," or "Turn on the living room light," and it would automatically turn on for you. So it just kind of depends on what type of control you're looking for, and it really depends on the individual, but the whole goal is to be able to interact with your environment with the way that best suits you. So there are a lot of different environmental controls to consider, and these were just a couple of them.

- So the next category that we're gonna take a look at are sensory aids, and so these include some tactile toys and fidgets that can help give some sensory input. So we have a couple here on the slide, with the Koosh ball and then the fidget pack, I believe it's called, I know it's on your handout. But then there are also things that you can use, I'll switch the view here. Like this is called the Yuk-E Ball and it's the transparent version, and so that this one, I can use and I can push the balls around with my fingers and receive some sensory input that way, if that's something that's calming for an individual. And I like this one because it's pretty quiet, it doesn't make a lot of noise so I can pay attention and still get some sensory input that way.

- [Tina] Here I'll help you.

- [Elizabeth] And then the next thing that I'll show you before we switch the view back is, this is called the Puppy Hugs, and I don't believe this one is on your handout, but it's from Grandpa's Garden, it's an online vendor. But the nice thing about this one is this is a weighted item so that I could put it around my shoulders or put it on my lap, and then I could have the input from the weighted part of this can be calming for individuals. And this one is nice 'cause it's a puppy and so that can be attractive to some people.

And if we go back to the PowerPoint, we can look, there's examples there of a weighted vest that an individual can wear and get similar input to the Puppy Hugs. But then there are also tools that can help for auditory sensory input so that the little boy in the picture is wearing noise-canceling headphones so that if the noise in the environment is too much or too stimulating, he can wear those headphones to dampen that. And then the picture of the classroom there, they have covers on the lights so that you can kind of soften the lights in the classroom if it's too bright for some individuals.

- All right, so the next category we want to talk about is vision and hearing. There are a variety of different tools to help support someone who may have low vision. So the first one is the Pebble. Let's make this bigger so you guys can see it. So the Pebble is a high definition magnifier. And this might not show up the best on your guys's screen, but what I really like about it is that it does have a built in stand, so if you had an older adult that might need help reading pill bottles, you could actually set the pill bottle right in here, have it lay flat, and then use the magnifier to be able to read the pill bottle.

People have also used this for grooming as well, so like if you were clipping your nails, you could set your magnifier up on the stand and then position it so that you could be able to see your nails as you're clipping them. So there's a variety of different ways that you can use this of course you can use it for reading. And you can also change the magnification. So if I hit this plus sign, it's going to get, oh that's as big as it gets, so if I hit the minus sign, should get smaller for me. You can also change the contrast as well with this button on the left. So I believe you can also take pictures with this, so if you wanted to take a quick picture of your document

- [Mechanical Voice] 11:49 am, Monday, February 27th.

- [Tina] Wrong button, but now we know what time it is. And that's actually the wrong time.

- [Elizabeth] And the wrong date.

- So we need to reprogram that. But you should be able to take pictures as well, and then zoom in and out to better see the text that you're reading. So this one again is called the Pebble HD, and it's sold by Enhanced Vision. Can I give that one to you? Awesome. So not only do we have vision aids, but we also have hearing aids. And this one is called the Wear locket. I'll take this paper off so you guys can see this a little bit better. So the Wear locket has a magnet, and it actually just clips to your shirt or you can clip it to your pants, but what's really nice about it is that it's super small, but it's really powerful.

So it amplifies sound and I think it has a range of like 10 to 15 feet, so you can plug in these headphones which are pretty discreet as well, which is also a nice feature about the Wear locket. And so when you plug the headphones in the device turns on. You put the headphones in and then you're able to hear amplification of sound around you. So with this one, it is a little bit more discreet than some of the other personal amplifiers that are available. The Wear locket is about $175, so it's a little bit more expensive, but when you're looking at like vision aids and hearing aids, you can really start to get some expensive technology, so this one is fairly affordable compared to other devices around.

So we'll switch back to our PowerPoint really quick. There are things like captioning. So there are a variety of different devices that will allow for captioning, where it's going to transcribe what's being said, which is great for students in a classroom who may have hearing impairments. And then you also have refreshable Braille displays. Unfortunately we don't have any of those devices in our technology center, but a really great resource to learn more about refreshable Braille displays would be state services for the blind. And then we're going to talk about alternative access next. So a lot of times we need to figure out a different computer set up for people who have disabilities if they aren't able to use a traditional mouse or a keyboard, and that's where alternative access comes in.

Now that a lot of people are using tablets as well, we're finding that alternative access also applies to smartphones and tablets. So there are a variety of different types of tools that are available to help support individuals who may not be able to type on a traditional keyboard or need a different type of mouse to be able to navigate a computer, as well as different types of tools that will help with accessing a tablet and a smartphone. So the first one that I wanted to show you guys is this joystick mouse called the Enabler, and it's got a nice big joystick to help navigate or move the mouse around. And then your right and your left click buttons are right up here, and what's really nice about this is that they're indented so it's really hard to accidentally press them.

A lot of times people who need an alternative mouse have a really hard time with the clicking aspect of it as well, so this just prevents accidental mouse clicks that might happen when you're using a mouse. This one also has a really nice large base, so it takes away the need for having to move your hand around the desk, instead it's all stationary, and you just move the joystick. It does have a little bit of a curve to it too, so that can kind of help position the wrist as well, or give it more support since your whole hand is kind of resting right on that base. So this one is called the Enabler joystick. Thank you. This one, I'm actually going to switch to my iPad. So another part of alternative access is switch access, and this switch is called the Blue2.

It actually has two switches built into it, so you have the white and the orange one, or right and left, and you also have the ability to plug in two external switches. So if you have an individual who is using a proximity switch or a head switch and it's positioned somewhere where you couldn't position this Blue2 switch, you could plug those in and then this Blue2 just acts as a switch interface and it allows your switch to talk to your tablet. This one is made by Ablenet, it's Bluetooth, so it's all wireless which is really nice. I would say the downfall of Bluetooth switches is that they sometimes tend to drop their connectivity so keep that in mind as well as you're exploring Bluetooth switches.

But they do make wireless, or not wireless, wired switch interfaces as well that are sometimes a little bit more reliable. There is another device on your PowerPoint that I do want to mention before we move on to the next section, and that's the Tobii Eye Gaze, or any eye gaze device. So that again provides alternative access by tracking eye movement instead of physically having to type on a keyboard or having to move a mouse on the screen with your hand. Instead, these eye gaze devices actually track your eye movements so you could do email, Facebook, social media. It's just a different way of interacting with your computer.

- All right, the next category we want to take a look at is communication. And this is, like all the rest of the categories, a very broad category and full of lots of technology. But you have things such as the picture symbols which you can use to communicate, you can tell someone what you want. There are also single message devices like the BIGmack here that I can program and record my voice so that when I push the button

- [Electronic Voice] More.

- I can say my message. So I programmed this one to say, "More," and then just put the picture of more on here as well. And then there are also some more medium tech voice output devices, such as the picture of the Super Talker on the top right there. And this device, I still record my messages, but it allows me to have, change the grid size, so I can have either one message, two messages, four messages, or eight messages, and so that when I push the picture of the button that I want, I will have recorded the auditory message that I want to communicate. And then there are also many high tech voice output apps and devices, and so app screenshots on your PowerPoint is the app LAMP Words for Life, but I'm actually going to show you a high tech device here that I'm gonna switch to the camera. So this is the Accent 1000 by Prentke Romich Company and there are various device manufacturer companies as well as page sets within each device. So there's lots of variation that you can do. But with this high tech device I have, I can press a word, like like here.

- [Electronic Voice] Like.

- And then it will speak my message. So it gives me ability to have a voice and to have, be in that conversation and something that I don't have to program like the BIGmack that I showed you or the Super Talker, the auditory piece is done by the tablet and the app.

- Do you want me to start off academics? Okay, so academics, in and of itself, could be a whole workshop.

- [Elizabeth] Any of these categories could be.

- Yeah, that's true, yeah. So when we talk about academics, we're mostly talking about reading, writing, and math. And there are just a variety of different supports to help students, and that can really range from low tech devices to high tech devices. So some of the low tech devices that are included could be something like Brightlines paper, which is that yellow and white paper that you see on the slide, and that helps kids differentiate between the top of the line and the bottom of the line so that they're correctly forming and placing their letters as they're writing. They also make something called raised line paper as well. So all of the lines on the paper actually have raised lines which gives a tactile element to the paper, and also helps students, guide them as they're doing their writing. We do have a variety of different apps as well that also help with reading and writing. Just wanna make sure that you guys can see this okay. So the first app that I wanted to show you guys is called Co:Writer and Co:Writer provides word prediction as students are writing.

- [Electronic Voice] I la. So as I type, I get words that populate for me, and you can't really see that either, there we go. So as I keep typing, these words might change, and what's nice is when you see the word that you want

- [Electronic Voice] This.

- You just tap on it.

- [Electronic Voice] This.

- And you can continue your writing. So this helps with a couple of different things, it's providing word prediction, which really helps kids with spelling. Bless you.

- Sorry.

- So if they have a hard time with spelling, this can really help support them so that they're not so frustrated when completing their writing, or when they're getting stuck on the spelling aspect of it. So it helps with that piece. But you also have text to speech with it as well. And with text to speech, it just provides an auditory support, so as students are writing they can hear what their written work is sounding like. So if you hit the speaker button right up here.

- [Electronic Voice] I like the Saint Louis Blues. This is pretty.

- It will read everything out loud to you. So that also really helps with that editing piece of writing so instead of relying on somebody else to read their work, or struggling through reading this on their own to make sure that it sounds okay, they have that auditory support with text to speech so that they can do that independently. Another aspect of Co:Writer too is topic dictionaries, and I believe there is a new version of Co:Writer that is, I think they call it Co:Writer Neuron that kind of takes away the need for topic dictionaries. This one in our Co:Writer, it's still showing us topic dictionaries, but essentially what topic dictionaries do is they allow you to tailor that word prediction specifically to the topic that a student is writing on.

So if they had to do a paper on George Washington, they could turn on that topic dictionary, and then the words will be predicted that are specific to George Washington, so it might have, I don't know, U.S. Constitution in there, and different words that have to do with it. With Co:Writer Neuron, supposedly it takes away for the need to turn those topic dictionaries on, so it's actually being one step smarter and looking at the content of your writing and saying, oh, you're writing on George Washington, so here are some words that it thinks you might use in your writing. I haven't played with Co:Writer Neuron yet, so if any of you have, drop us a note and let us know what you think, 'cause I think that's actually pretty cool that it's staying one step ahead of you and trying to look at your writing and guess what you're writing about.

- And one more thing that I really like about Co:Writer is that, if we go back to our writing here, that these, not only does it give you word prediction, but if you were writing and you weren't sure what, how to spell the word that you came up with, but you knew it started with the word T, then you can also swipe across these words.

- [Electronic Voice] Buh-tee. But.

- And it will give you text to speech of each word before you even put it in, so that if I go across this one.

- [Electronic Voice] And.

- Oh, that's the word that I want and I can tap it again and it will put it in.

- Yeah, okay, so that one was Co:Writer, another app.

- [Elizabeth] It's really dark.

- Is it? Oh yeah, it is dark. Let's see if we can make this brighter for you guys. I think that's a lot better. Okay, the next app is called Voice Dream Reader. And Voice Dream Reader is an app that supports students with their reading. So there's a couple of different ways that you can use this. You can actually connect it to your Bookshare account, and you can download your Bookshare books into Voice Dream Reader and then have Voice Dream Reader read it out lout for you. You can also get text from your web browser, so if you were doing research for a paper or a project, you could import a website or a webpage and have it read out loud to you as well. But there are some really nice features in Voice Dream Reader that I particularly like. So one of them is text to speech, and the text to speech on this one sounds pretty good. So here's a sample.

- [Electronic Voice] Mr. Bennett was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humor, reserve, and caprice.

- You do have the ability to change some of these settings as well, so if you go up to this little sound button, you can slow down or speed up the rate of speech. You can also change the voices, so they do have quite a few voices that are built into this app, but if you want to get really fancy with it, you can purchase more voices, and there's just tons of voices that you can choose from. I think it's kind of funny when kids do the chipmunk voice, don't know why you would want to listen to a or a book in chipmunk voice, but it's just kind of silly. But what's kind of nice too about these voices is that you can play a sample of them before you go on to purchase it, so that way you know if it's a good voice or if you like the voice before you purchase it. There are a couple more visual features too that you can change, so with this, you can change the font. And a couple of noticeable fonts that I do want to point out is the Dyslexie font, and the OpenDyslexic font. And with these ones, it's a little hard to see, kind of beef this up a little bit, but both of them are weighted so they're thicker on the bottom and then thinner on top to help with letter reversal. So when you're playing around with some of these visual settings, the goal is really to make the text stick out a little bit more from the background, making it easier to read. And there are a couple of different settings that you can change with this.

- And one thing I'll mention about both of those fonts are open source fonts, and so you can Google them and you can download them so you can use them in other things besides Voice Dream Reader as well.

- Yeah, that's great. So you can also change the spacing of this as well. So when you're changing the spacing, you can increase or decrease the line spacing, you can increase and decrease the margins, or how much spacing is in between each of those letters as well, so all of these settings are very individual preference. I would say play around with it to see, you know, what works best for the student or child that you're working with, but again, the whole goal is to make the text easier to read. You can change the color of the text as well. You can get really funky with this, so you could do like a blue background, right, and then you could go back and change the text maybe to yellow. You can have magenta text, you can have magenta background, lime green, so again, it's just finding what works best for the individual.

A couple of other things that I really like about this app is if you tap and hold on a word, you do get a couple of additional options, so you can highlight text, maybe the teacher said, "Mr. Humphrey was a really important character "in this book so make sure you remember him." You could highlight certain parts of the text that have to do with Mr. Humphrey, you can get a definition, you can write notes to yourself within the text as well. And when you do any of those, they all collect and appear down here at the bottom, it's the symbol with the three dots and then the lines. So over here, you get a collection of all of your highlights and any bookmarks that you create, and I believe your notes will appear right within the text. So if I had a note right there, I would get, oops I didn't save it, but it should have like a little box that pops up and tells you you have a note here. So there are a lot of nice features within Voice Dream Reader that I think help support students. Do we have time for one more?

- [Elizabeth] I think so.

- Okay.

- Maybe quick.

- Yeah, do you have a favorite app that you like to show?

- [Elizabeth] Not off the top of my head.

- Okay,let's do a math one since we did reading and writing. We'll go to Mystery Math. This is one of my favorite math apps.

- [Elizabeth] This is called Mystery Math Museum, and there's also Mystery Math Town as well. I believe the app developer is ARTIG, A-R-T-I-G Studio.

- Mm-hmm, yeah, so this one is really fun for students. I think with this, sorry, navigating, you can choose what skills you're working on. So depending on the student that you're working with, maybe they need more support in addition or subtraction, you can kind of narrow down what that student is specifically working on, and the number sets as well. So if they really need to work on subtraction, 11 through 20 you could turn on just that one. If you really want to get tricky too, and help with their critical thinking, you can include dice and tally marks, so when you're collecting numbers, it would have the actual numerical value, or it could have a dice or a tally mark, and that just makes them think a little bit more about some of the number sequences that they're doing. So the whole goal of this app is there are fireflies scattered all throughout the museum and these different buildings, and you need to solve math problems in order to move through the different rooms and the houses, and then the goal is to rescue the fireflies that are scattered throughout this town.

I'll just give you a quick sample of this. So what you'll want to do is collect all of these numbers and if you tap on a door or a window, it's going to ask you a math problem. And then I move through the next one, and I'll collect all of these. So from here I can move up the stairs or, it's kind of cut off, but there is a door over here, so I think the stairs sound pretty good. So this is just a really fun app for kids, some of it too, like if you tap on some of the objects, they'll do a little sound or jiggle, so it's very interactive and it's putting math in more of a game-like format, so that way students kinda forget that they are actually doing and learning math. So it becomes a little bit more fun and engaging for students. All right, so back to the PowerPoint, we've kind of wrapped up all of our tech demos, so the last part that we wanted to talk about with you guys is really the consideration process for assistive technology.

So one of the biggest factors with this is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act which was signed into law in 1975, and it's essentially the federal special education law that outlines the types of services or supports that students with disabilities are entitled to. A big component of that is the fact that schools do have to consider assistive technology and how that can support an individual. And all of this ties back to making sure that students with disabilities are being able to access a free and affordable public education. So the only thing with this is that when we say, "You have to consider assistive technology," the consideration part is not defined by law, so generally we're hoping that IEP teams have a conversation about assistive technology and what types of supports that student could really benefit from. Generally this is just a brief process during that annual IEP or IFSP meeting.

So what is an IEP? We do have two parts of this, so one of them is the IFSP, and one is the IEP. The IFSP is the Individual Family Service Plan, which is for kiddos birth to two years old. And then an IEP or an Indidivualized Education Plan, is for kiddos three to 21. So essentially an IEP outlines the type of special education services or related services that the student needs in order to be supported in their education. And all of this is really based on information that has been gathered, either through assessments or evaluations, and we're kind of looking at the current level of the student, and setting goals for where we would like them to be throughout the year.

So this is reviewed annually, and it's a written record of those types of services and the decisions that this IEP team has made based on this child. So another component of this is that when we're thinking of the consideration process, we never start with selecting the tool, we always look at the student and their needs first. So a lot of times we actually see parents coming in and they say, "We've purchased in iPad, "how can we use this with our student or our child?" And this is sort of a backwards approach. So what we are actually going to do is use what's called the SETT Framework. And this looks at the student, the environment, the tasks, and the tools.

Oh and we do have a question coming in. So our question is what are the names of the last two apps you showed in the academic category. So the last two, the math app was called Mystery Math Museum and then the one before that was called Voice Dream Reader. So going back to the SETT Framework, what we're going to do is first look at the student. So what are their preferences? Who are they? What do they like? And then we're gonna look at their environment. So where would they be using this tool? Would it be used at school, home, work? Is it gonna go with them to all three places? And then we look at the tasks that that student is trying to complete. Do they need help with reading? Are they struggling with spelling and need more support in that area? Are they looking for recreational items to help with play? And then we're going to look at the tools after we've looked at the first three, which is student, environment, and tasks. So again, we never start with the tool, we look at the student and that individual first, and then look at the tools that are there to best fit their needs.

- All right, and for the SETT Framework, there are some resources at the end of the PowerPoint as well that can serve as a guide or help you through that consideration process. And through our Tikes Project here at the PACER Simon Technology Center, which was a federally-funded grant that focused on increasing the use of assistive technology in early childhood, we developed a Child-Centered AT Plan. And although we developed this for an early-childhood audience, it can definitely be used throughout the K through 21 system as well. It can, has three parts, it has a consideration flow chart, which is really a visual planning guide. And so the links, let me go back for a second.

All of these documents that are going to be on the next slides can be found at the link that's on this slide, and then there's also a slide at the end of your PowerPoint where you can find the same documents that have been created for a K through 21 audience as well. So the visual planning guide walks you through the process of consideration and asks some questions, and then based on how you answer those questions, leads to a possible outcome, and then how you could document that decision. And then if you're going, the second document is called the Child-Centered AT Plan, and it's really that documentation guide.

So you've gone through the flow chart, and you've come up with an outcome, and then it gives you an idea of how you could document that decision in either the IFSP or the IEP. So there are two versions of this, one for the IFSP and one for the IEP. They are very similar, they mostly just differ in language and where you might document, depending on which IFSP or IEP you're using, 'cause they are different. So this guide allows you to really document the decision that the team made so that you're all on the same page. And then gives you a guide to where you could document that. And so this is just the back page of the Child-Centered AT Plan, it's just a two page document. And then the Expanded Child-Centered AT Plan, one for the IFSP and one for the IEP, is the third document we created.

This is really more of an in-depth consideration and documentation guide if your team is new to considering assistive technology and you want more of a step-by-step guide through the process, or if you have a child who has complex needs and you really want to dive in and have some in-depth discussions about their needs, this can be helpful. So it really goes through their current AT use and areas of need, what AT you're going to trial with the student, how you're going to train both the student and any individuals who work with the student how to use the device or the tool, who's going to set up and maintain the device, and a back-up plan is really important because if you're using a high-tech communication device like the Accent that I showed you a little bit ago, what happens if the battery dies, or it gets thrown across the room and the screen cracks, or it's just not working, that can be a student's voice, so how, what are you going to do if it's not available, so thinking through your back-up plan and what is plan B is really important.

And then it goes through assigning roles so everyone knows what they're doing and then also documenting those decisions. So that was a really quick run through, but if you go to the link on the slide, you'll go to our Tikes website and we have some resources there that will go more in-depth to all of those forms. And we have a question that are the forms free. Yes, the forms are free to download and they're all on the website as well, so you can download and print them out and use them. All right and we've kind of alluded to this, but we like to really be specific and point it out that considering AT is everyone's responsibility. So sometimes if a student needs a communication device, everyone thinks, oh that's the speech language pathologist's responsibility, but really everyone on the team is an important piece of the puzzle and they have something important to contribute, and so it's everyone's responsibility because that student who's using a communication device doesn't just interact with the speech language pathologist, they interact with everyone in their environment, their parents, their teacher, other therapists, other related service providers. So everyone should be able to use and interact with the device as well.

- So we have another question coming in, and the question is is Voice Dream Reader only iOS. There is an Android version of Voice Dream Reader as well, so you can get it on both platforms. Sorry, did I cut you off?

- No, you're good.

- Okay. Okay, so another bigger piece to this too is assistive technology assessments. So an assessment is a formal evaluation that looks at that student and bases recommendations for technology based on the needs of the student and the areas that they need more support in. And an assessment is needed at any time. So a parent can request that evaluation be done through the school or if the student is over 18, that student can also request for an AT evaluation. If the team can't find any devices or strategies to meet the needs or goals of the student, they can also do an AT evaluation, or if they've done previous AT trials and they haven't been, resulted I guess, in something that is a definite tool that they can use, they can also go through an AT assessment and start that process as well. With AT assessments there are a variety of different organizations that do provide assistive technology assessments. One of them is the school, that's usually the number one go-to for AT assessments. There are other organizations like Gillette, Courage, Learning Disability Association of Minnesota also does.

- So those are organizations here in Minnesota, but you can, there are definitely organizations in your area too that you can find too.

- Yeah, that's a great addition. Sorry I wasn't specific on that. We also provide free consultations here at the Simon Technology Center, but keep in mind that those consultations are not a formal assessment, so we can't formally recommend that a student uses a device but we can at least give you the options and do an informal exploration of assistive technology. Yeah, I think that actually goes on to the next slide. That's okay. As another component of this too is loan programs. So after you've gone through that assessment, and you've figured out what tool is right for a student, usually there's a trial that the team does with that student to make sure that that device is a good fit for them. And there's a variety of different ways that you can get assistive technology in order to do that trial. In Minnesota we have the Minnesota Star Program, so that's Minnesota's state assistive technology program. And in every state there should be a state assistive technology program. We do have, we have our listing. Do we have that on our handout at all?

- I don't believe it's on the handout, but I believe if you, I think it's, it's the assistive technology ACT program's website. There you can, there's a drop down menu and you can put in your state and it should give you the name of the program in your state.

- Yeah, and just to reiterize too that is available in every state, so you can use that website to find the state assistive technology program in your area. And that's a really great way to figure out what assistive technology, or to do those trials, to make sure that it's a good fit for that student. Another component of this too is that we do have an AT reuse page. We do have a buy and sell Facebook group, and we're connecting people who are seeking assistive technology to people who are looking to get rid of pieces that they either no longer use or their child has outgrown. So again we're just hoping that all of this assistive technology is continuously getting recycled and being put into hands of people who are in need of it. So it is a closed group, so when you do find the Facebook page, you do have to ask to be invited into the group, and once you're invited and accepted, you can post assistive technology or respond to people who are also giving away assistive technology.

- And this group is mostly Minnesota-specific, but there are other resources in other states for AT reuse as well, so if you're not local here, there are other resources as well.

- And one more question came in too. This question is how does Voice Dream Reader compare to Google Read Write, Co:Writer, or Solo Swedes. So with Voice Dream Reader, this is an iPad, well an iPad and an Android app, so it's not something that you can get on your computer. Some of the features cross, so with Voice Dream Reader it's mostly text to speech and changing those visual settings on the app. Read and Write for Google is very similar, it does provide text to speech. With Read and Write for Google you can read documents in Google Drive and websites. Voice Dream Reader does not have any component to help with writing, so it doesn't do word prediction at all. It more specifically does text to speech.

- And I kind of think of it as voice, if you took Voice Dream Reader and Co:Writer together, that would give you some of the similar features of Google Read and Write.

- Mm-hmm, yeah, okay.

- All right, and then to wrap up we just wanna talk about presuming competence and that really having high expectations for all of these students, and that we're going to presume that they can do things and so that we just need to find the tool that can help them show their ability, so that they can have access to their education, their community, and really opportunity, and experience everything that they can, and so that they have limitless possibilities. Because if we presume competence, then that perception drives expectation, and so that if we kind of follow that deficit model of oh they can't do this, then that also drives our expectations of what they can do. So having those high expectations, we're giving them more opportunity and giving them the opportunity to achieve all that they can, and then again drive that perception that they are competent and that we have high expectations for them.

- So the last few slides that we have in our PowerPoint are more resources, and I know we're a couple of minutes over, so I think we'll let you guys explore some of these resources for SETT on your own. We do have more information about the Child-Centered AT Plan as well. And then also a couple of Pinterest links in case you wanted to follow us on Pinterest or see what kinds of boards we've created for assistive technology. So with that, I think we'll leave it open to questions in the last couple of minutes. And before you guys log out, please make sure that you fill out an evaluation. We will give you a certificate of attendance with that as well. So with that, thank you so much for joining us and we hope you enjoy the rest of your day.

- Thank you. All right, and if there aren't any questions, we will sign off, and if you have any questions afterwards, please feel free to email us at, or one of our personal emails, and we'll be happy to answer your question.

- Thank you.