Articles: Assistive Tech for Students with Dyslexia

Student using iPad to readTwo articles appeared recently on Edutopia, a free on-line education resource supported by the George Lucas Foundation. 

In The Benefits of Ear-Reading bDana Blackaby, a dyslexia specialist discusses the assistive technologies she uses to help students with dyslexia make gains in reading. In the article, Blackaby discusses her observations of several of her students with dyslexia using a technique she called “ear reading.” She describes this as, “a key strategy…having (the students) read along with audiobooks, which is beneficial in tying their emotional belief system directly to their academic performance.”

Blackaby goes on to note, “These students have made marked improvements in their reading skills and social behavior as a result of our structured literacy curriculum, my high expectations for their achievement, and their use of supplemental assistive technology resources. Through the structured literacy curriculum, I teach students to decode words in an explicit and systematic manner that focuses on phonology, sound-symbol association, syllable types, and syntax. In addition, this instruction is delivered in a multisensory way that is proven to build pathways to improve phonological memory.”

As a benefit she notes the following results:

After using these resources with fidelity, my students performed higher on state testing and demonstrated large strides in self-confidence. In our state assessments, 97 percent of my students who utilized audiobooks and text-to-speech software met the STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) reading standard.

Read the full article The Benefits of Ear-Reading on Edutopia…

The second Edutopia article Accommodating Students With Dyslexia, Jessica Hamman describes “five easy-to-implement accommodations can make class less stressful and more manageable for students with dyslexia.” The five accommodations include access to audio books, note-taking apps, as well as encouragement for students to utilize text-to-speech technologies.

Read the full article: Accommodating Students With Dyslexia on Edutopia…

 

Described and Captioned Media Program

Blind boy using Braille embosserThe Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) provides premium media designed for students with disabilities and leads as a resource for families and teachers, supported by the Department of Education.

DCMP’s mission is to promote and provide equal access to communication and learning through described and captioned educational media.

The ultimate goal of the DCMP is for accessible media to be an integral tool in the teaching and learning process for all stakeholders in the educational community, including students, educators and other school personnel, parents, service providers, businesses, and agencies.

The DCMP supports the U.S. Department of Education Strategic Plan for 2014-2018 by committing to the following goals:

  • Ensuring that students (early learners through Grade 12) who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind have the opportunity to achieve the standards of academic excellence.
  • Advocating for equal access to educational media as well as the establishment and maintenance of quality standards for captioning and description by service providers.
  • Providing a collection of free-loan described and captioned educational media.
  • Furnishing information and research about accessible media.
  • Acting as a gateway to Internet resources related to accessibility.
  • Adapting and developing new media and technologies that assist students in obtaining and using available information.

The Described and Captioned Media Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the National Association of the Deaf.

Please visit DCMP for more information…

Resources to Support Adaption of Assistive and Instructional Technology

The Center on Technology and Disabilities (CTD) recently published a newsletter highlighting some of their publications related to education. Among those resources:

Implement Assistive Technology and Instructional Technology

EducationFuture Ready Assistive Technology: Fostering State Supports for Students with Disabilities – This report provides insights into the current state and future of assistive technology as well as resources to support your work.

AT and IT: Where are we headed? – This new infographic outlines the technology landscape, and what it means for state and district leaders, and teachers.

Technology Implementation Strategies that Work! – Watch this video series to learn more about the critical processes necessary to effectively support technology implementation in your district or school.

Understanding Assistive Technology: Policy and Implications for State Leaders – Assistive technology (AT) is an essential part of your overall technology plan. Watch this webinar to learn more about the legal requirements for AT, different types of AT supports, and the role of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Contact the CTD Technical Assistance Lead for SEA/LEA support, Kristin Ruedel – KRuedel@air.org.

For more information, visit CTD on the web!

New Website Accessibility Technical Assistance Initiative from US-DOE

Website - construction sceneMAY 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today announced it is launching a new technical assistance initiative to assist schools, districts, state education agencies, libraries, colleges and universities in making their websites and online programs accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Through webinars, OCR will provide information technology professionals with vital information on website accessibility, including tips for making their online programs accessible. The initiative announced today, on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, builds on OCR’s history of providing technical assistance on this issue to hundreds of stakeholders.

“As more educational opportunities are delivered online, we need to ensure those programs, services and activities are accessible to everyone,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, “OCR’s technical assistance will help us continue to forge important partnerships with schools for the benefit of students and parents with disabilities.”

OCR will offer the first three webinars on the following dates:

Webinar I: May 29, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT
Webinar II: June 5, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT
Webinar III: June 12, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT

If you are interested in participating in any of these webinars, please send your request to OCRWebAccessTA@ed.gov; include your name, preferred webinar and contact information. You are encouraged to invite your vendors to attend these webinars.

Information regarding the scheduling and registration for additional webinars is available on the Department’s website…


Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by medithIT

New Choice in Braille Transcription Software

This new product was recently announced by American Printing House for the Blind…

Person reading BrailleBrailleBlaster™ is a braille transcription program developed by the American Printing House for the Blind to help transcribers provide blind students with braille textbooks on the first day of class.

BrailleBlaster takes advantage of the rich markup contained in NIMAS (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard) files to automate basic formatting and gives you tools to make advanced tasks quicker and easier. Designed primarily for editing textbooks that meet the specifications published by the Braille Authority of North America, the purpose of BrailleBlaster is to help braille producers ensure that every student has their hard-copy braille textbooks on the first day of class.

BrailleBlaster relies on Liblouis, a well-known open-source braille translator, for translating text and mathematics to braille.

Features include:

  • Translate braille accurately in UEB or EBAE
  • Format braille
  • Automate line numbered poetry and prose
  • Split books into volumes
  • Add transcriber notes
  • Describe images
  • Automate braille table of contents, glossaries, preliminary pages and special symbols pages
  • Automate a variety of table styles
  • Translate and edit single line math

The development of BrailleBlaster and modifications to Liblouis are part of the REAL Plan (Resources with Enhanced Accessibility for Learning). The REAL Plan is an ongoing initiative of the American Printing House for the Blind to improve the conversion and delivery of braille and other accessible formats to students who are blind.

Learn more about Braille Blaster…

14 Million Digital Books Available To Print Disabled Users

electronic books on various devicesMore than 14 million digital books will soon be made available to blind and print-disabled users, thanks to a new collaboration involving the National Federation of the Blind and the HathiTrust Digital Library, a digital repository hosted at the University of Michigan.

When launched, the program will dramatically increase the availability of books for users who are blind or print-disabled. According to the NFB, currently less than 5 percent of all published works are estimated to be available to the blind, most of which are popular titles.

Over the coming year, NFB and HathiTrust will collaborate to plan and implement these services. User eligibility will be determined by criteria used by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and similar services authorized under U.S. law.

According to Furlough, HathiTrust currently provides a similar service to qualified print-disabled students at its member schools. The new program will expand this service to allow similarly qualified users not affiliated with HathiTrust schools access to full-text works in the HathiTrust collection.

NFB and HathiTrust, like the federally operated National Library Service, will lawfully and securely make books available to qualified people in the U.S. who have print disabilities.

Read the entire press release to learn more about this announcement…

Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide

Man walking through mall with a guide dogThe American Foundation for the Blind CareerConnect® program is proud to announce a new guide to help professionals implement the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) and improve employment outcomes for teens and young adults who are blind or visually impaired.

The Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide includes 19 free lesson plans and assignments designed to facilitate workplace readiness and work-based learning experiences for youth. Activities include researching and applying for jobs; filling out job applications; preparing an elevator speech and a marketing message; handling on the job assignments; a work performance appraisal; and other related activities.

The guide is available online on the CareerConnect website. Each activity has a corresponding electronic braille file in the Unified English Braille Code ready to be downloaded and embossed.

The Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide in tandem with the CareerConnect Job Seeker’s Toolkit and the Maintaining Employment and Advancing Your Career course is the ultimate resource to enhance a student’s employability skills.

To access the materials or for additional information, visit CareerConnect or e-mail Katy Lewis at klewis@afb.net.


Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by Cobaka

Robbie Foundation Grants Available

Robbie Foundation: Help a child - change a lifeThe Robbie Foundation, a not-for-profit organization in Maine, was founded on behalf of a boy living with cerebral palsy.  The mission of the Robbie Foundation is to bring awareness about the disabled population as well as helping to provide for children who are in need of adaptive equipment, toys or any item that would help improve their well-being and quality of life.

Here are two of their funding programs:

THE ROBBIE FOUNDTATION ACADEMIC SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

This program is open to children with special needs who are pursuing a post-secondary education. Understanding how difficult it is for a family to afford all that is required in the life of a child with special needs, the Robbie Foundation will award a grant of $2,000 – $5,000 to one family each year (if funding is available). This money will be applied to tuition and disbursed directly to the college or university. Application deadline is April 15th of the given academic year

Use this link for more information and to download application materials…

ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT / ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY / THERAPY TREATMENT PROGRAM (AAT PROGRAM)

This program is open to children with special needs who would benefit from adaptive equipment, assistive technology, therapy treatment and/or any other compulsory (or essential) item not cover by insurance or any additional funding resource. An application detailing information about the child in need of assistance and the reason for the need is required. Funding will be given for items and services that help maximize growth and development, as well as create an easier and more enjoyable learning and/or living environment for the child.

Use this link for more information and to download application materials…

 

Original Pub Date:

01/14/2016