Friday, October 9, 2009

Assistive Technology Re-Use: Reduce - Reuse-Recycle

What do I do with assistive technology when I don't need it anymore? How do I recycle technology equipment with electronic components? How do I find people that may want what I have to sell or give away? These questions and more are answered by the growing AT reuse movement.

Hundreds of organizations around the country are involved in some sort of assistive technology reuse. The goal of AT reuse is to work together to get still useful AT into the hand of those who need it. The following links will provide more information about the national AT reuse movement:

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
This site provides information about the what, who, why and how of the national AT reuse movement. A link to the phamplet Recycle Your AT can be found at this site.

Pass It On Center
The Pass It On Center is a national AT reuse technical assistance resource funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration. Find a local reuse program, attend an information Webinar on AT reuse or get information about the national AT reuse conference at the Pass It On Center Website.

A few Minnesota agencies that provide AT reuse services:
Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota's Medical Equipment Loan Program
This loan program collects, cleans and repairs used medical equipment for short-term loan. Loan Sites: St. Paul, Rochester, St. Cloud and Willmar.

Minnesota Computers for Schools
The MCFS is a nonprofit organization that focuses on re-purposing technology as well as helping schools recycle older technology. MCFS places high quality refurbished computer systems across the state of Minnesota. Their Special Kids Program is designed to help students with frequent absencess or special needs get an affordable high quality computer. Applications are accepted during the school year.

Minnesota Multiple Sclerosis Society Equipment Exchange & Loan Pool Program
the program is available on the MS Website and allows people to donate, sell or trade medical equipment. It also allows users to search for equipment.

PACER SUPER Service (Still Useful Product and Equipment Referral)
The PACER SUPER Service connects people seeking to buy used assistive technology with sellers. Buyers contact sellers of used equipment directly. PACER does not provide technical support for products. PACER requests all items for sale are clean and in working condition, but can not in any way guarantee the quality of the product.
PCs for People
PCs for People is a MN nonprofit organization that refurbishes donated computes and gets them into the hands of people with limited access to technology.

STARTE (Minnesota STAR Technology Exchange)
STAR Tecnology Exchange (STARTE) is an online classified ads, service that promotes the reuse of assistive technology. the goal is to get technology that is not being used into the hands of people who will benefit from the technology.

United Cerebral Palsy of Central Minnesota - Computers Go Round
Computers Go Round is a program of UCP of Central Minnesota that distributes quality recycled computers to children and adults with any disability for a nominal fee.

Produce Spotlight: KNFB Reader Mobile

KNFB Reader Mobile, developed by KNFB Reading Technologies Inc., is an application compatible with the Nokia N82 cell phone. the cell phone does not need to be activated by a service provider to operate this application. KNFB Reader Mobile provides portable reading accessibility on the go. Using the camera on the phone, pictures taken of printed text are converted to electronic text using optical character recognition (OCR) technology. The electronic text can be read aloud by the application with text displayed in sync with the spoken words. Multiple pages of text may be captured and saved in a single document within the phone's memory. Electronic documents and books may be transferred to and from a computer. the KNFB Reader Mobile application software is available for $1,000.00 and packages including the Nokia N82 cell phone can be found for around $1,500, $2,000.00.

Web Spotlight: Mrs. Riley's Page Builder

Mrs. Riley is a new Web-based program for building and creating visual supports. Teachers, parents and professionals can collaboratively create and share materials. Because it is Web-based, materials are available anywhere you have access to the internet and a printer. It works on both Mac and PC and in all standard Web browsers. High speed internet and current operating systems are recommended. Mrs. Riley includes features such as: the ability to upload your own pictures, search for pictures on the Web, browse their library of 3,000+ symbols and sharing of materials with others. You can try Mrs. Riley Page Builder for free (24 hours). Pricing starts at just $5.00 for one month, $15.00 for four months or $45 for twelve months (all for one user). Group pricing is also available. Check out more about Mrs. Riley at

Early Childhood Corner: CELL Preschooler Practice Guide - Alpha Fun

The CELL Practice Guide for October, Alpha Fun, focuses on how parents can help their preschooler recognize and identify letters. By interacting with your child while playing with letter blocks, magnetic letters, and alphabet puzzles, you will make letter learning fun and exciting. Alphabet toys also help preschoolers begin to form words without the added pressure of writing. As your child lines up magnetic letters on the refrigerator door, stacks alphabet blocks, or strings alphabet beads, talk with your child about what he/she is doing and encourage his/her interest and curiosity about letter sounds.

Tech Tips: Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts for both Windows PC and Mac computers are a great way speed up work, cut down on excessive mouse movement, and make programs on the computer more accessible. Keyboard shortcuts make the computer more accessible because it can cut down on how much the mouse needs to be used.

Keyboard shortcuts are when you use a combination of keys on the keyboard to perform a certain action, such as copy, paste, print and more.

To perform a keyboard shortcut hold down one or more of the command keys and then, while keeping the command keys held down, press an additional key on the keyboard. (Ctrl, Alt, the Windows key, and shift key).

On the Mac operating system keyboard shortcuts are almost the same except the Mac has a key called the Command key on both sides of the space bar. The most commonly used key on Windows is Ctrl; on Mac it’s Command. You may already be familiar with shortcuts such as copy (Ctrl + C) and paste (Ctrl + V) but there are many, many more.

To discover new keyboard shortcuts, explore your program’s menu bar and help menu. The menu bar is the bar across the top of a program that contains the file, edit, and other menus. When you click on a menu such as “file”, you will see a list of commands i.e. New, Save, Print. To the right of the commands you will see their keyboard shortcut. You can also open a program’s help menu and search “keyboard shortcuts.”

Did You Know? WinZoom has Gone Mobile!

Did you know WinZoom USB, a computer screen magnification tool, was just released on USB (universal serial bus) for Windows compatible computers? The makers of WinZoom have taken a computer software program that once required an installation process and turned it into a portable, USB technology that can be used at home, work, school, and in the community.

This USB technology allows users to take their technology with them and benefit from its screen enhancement tools such 1.5X to 35X magnification, font smoothing, screen reading capabilities, and color, mouse, and locator enhancements anywhere they go. This plug and play device does not require installation or computer administration rights.

For more information about WinZoom visit: For more information about screen magnification tools like this, or to receive a demonstration of this software in the Simon Technology Center, please contact us at 952-838-9000 or Check back for our comparison of available USB programs and learn more about what “going mobile” means.