Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Simon Technology Center

The Simon Technology Center (STC) is dedicated to making the benefits of technology more accessible to children and adults with disabilities. Through a collaborated effort involving parents, professionals, and consumers, the STC can provide numerous services for your family, as well as resources and informative answers to your questions. Since 1987, the Simon Technology Center has helped many children and adults, with a variety of disabilities, use assistive technology to enhance learning, work and independence.

Come check out our core services including:  information and referral (phone or email), assistive technology consultations, a 3,000 item AT lending library, plus much more.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Charting the C's 2010: Staff Picks

1. Meghan's Conference Discovery - Xtranormal Text-To-Movie

Xtranormal is a Web-based tool for creating your own Web-based movies. Xtranormal provides the setting and the actors for your movie. you pick your setting from a variety of Showpaks, choose your characters, provide the dialogue and, presto, you have a movie. This program is great for making an animated social story or bringing your writing to life.

2. Bridget's Conference Discovery - String Trio

Imagine having an interest in playing music but not having the fine motor skills or ability to play an instrument. check out iPod Touch/Phone App String Trio or "Air Violin", as the developers call it. Using the motions of tilt, swing and glide, the user controls the tempo, speed and strength of the bow (your iPod) as it crosses imaginary strings on a violin, viola or cello. The program costs $0.99 and come sloaded with over 40 classical and folk music selections.

3. Jonathan's Conference Discovery - Idea Sketch

Idea Sketch is a free iPod Touch/Phone mind mapping program that easily lets you draw a mind map, concept map, or flow chart. A click of a button converts the map to text or the text back to a concept map. Use Idea Sketch to brainstorm new ideas, make a list, organize a report and much more. The program is free and no drawing skills are required.

4. Tara's Conference Discovery - iPod Phone/Touch Accessibility Features

Apple continues to demonstrate its commitment to the disability community by providing built in accessibility features in their products. These features come standard with every Mac, iPod Phone/Touch and iPad and are worth exploring. Accessibility features include screen magnification, screen-reading technology called VoiceOver, an interface for exploring accessibility features, and mouse control solutions such as Mouse Keys, Slow Keys and Sticky Keys. There are several great resources to learn more about Mac accessibility features including:

Apple Accessibility

AT Mac

Staff Pick: Attainment's Social Story Readers

Attainment's Social Story Readers is part of a series of eReader books on CD that presents a collection of 16 read-along stories that depict a variety of social stories and situations suited to middle and high school students with various needs and abilities. The program features several levels of adjustable support including voice narration, text highlighting, word glossary and comprehension testing at the end of each story. this program is also switch accessible. the illustrations accompanying the stories are comic book style and appealing to teens and young adults. Teachers or parents can customize user settings through a management menu that is password protected. the social stories included in this collection cover topic areas such as anger management, dealing with change, and appropriate behavior on the job and at school.

Other selections of the Read to Learn Library include Self-Determination Readers, Connections in the Work Place, Life Skill Reader, Safety Skills Reader, and Do the Right Thing. All of these programs are available in the PACER Simon Technology Center loan library.

Product Spotlight: Peanut Butter PC by Peanut Butter Software

Peanut Butter PC works to protect electronic files, photographs and work, by creating a fun and friendly desktop environment for kids. This desktop environment provides access only to the programs and Web sites that you choose. The desktop user can't break out of their desktop and does not have access to the information stored on the computer. When you want to take control back, just enter a special key combination, and you are back in a Windows environment with your files as you left them - untouched by the desktop user.

Using simple point and click, children can easily navigate the desktop and launch the programs and Web sites that you have preapproved for them. No reading is required so children as young as 3 can learn to use a computer. Each desktop is personalized for each user. You can add childrens pictures or their favorite image to represent their desktop.

For more information or to download a free trial, visit http://www.peanutbuttersoftware.com

Early Childhood Corner: NEW! AT Booklet for Infants and Toddlers

Discover How Assistive Technology Can Help Your Infant or Toddler Learn and Grow explains how parents and professionals can utilize AT in the home and through early intervention services. this helpful booklet was produced through a partnership between PACER Center and Tots-n-Tech - a federally funded research institute that is conduciting a series of national policy studies regarding AT with infants and toddlers.

To receive this free booklet, contact PACER Center at 952-838-9000 or pacer@pacer.org. For more information about Tots-n-Tech, visit http://tnt.asu.edu/

Web Spotlight: Vocabulary Ahead

Vocabulary Ahead is a Web-based tool that helps students learn new vocabulary. Featuring a distraction free Study Room, learners see the word and hear the definition of the word. A unique feature of the site is the Vocabulary Video. A narrator reads the definition, elaborates on the word, and uses the word in context - all supported with a visual image of the vocabulary word. Over 1,000 difficult words are explained in this way. Learners are also able to submit their own vocabulary video definitions. check it out at http://www.vocabahead.com.