Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Few Apps for Cognitive and Language Development

Kindergarten.Com offers their ABA series which includes multiple apps which range in price from free to $0.99. The apps ask a question such as "Which one do you wear?" And the user touches the photograph of the correct answer from a field of three. It is possible to use this App with partnet assisted scanning with indivudals who do not have to motor skills to access the iPad or iTouch.

The App iTouch, iLearn Words offers mutiple games to teach vocabulary and sight words. This includes animations which label words and content in text, a "memory" like matching game with the levels, a game requiring matching a sight word to a picture with a text prompt and more. This App is $0.99 but occassionally goes on sale.

Sorting by Toddler Teasers works on visual discrimination of letters, numbers and shapes and/or categories (i.e. Letter or number?). Students need to drag and drop the answers into the correct treasure chest. A triple tap of the screen reveal a menu for the adult to change some settings.

E-Touch and E-Touch Lite are interesting apps that use visual scene displays to teach vocabulary. A scene is displayed and the name of items are said aloud when tapped. There are also options to play question, answers, examples or random play. Examples is a nice feature which add the function to the word, i.e. "Aquarium. We keep goldfish an an aquarium." This App could even be used as AAC with some adaptations, for example if you added a low tech picture strip to the top, bottom or side of your iPad or device case and that strip had "yes", "no", "I want", "I dont want", and so on, it would be an even more complete system. (Actually adding a low tech communication strip or even a "Flip Talk" to an iPad case for indivuals who are non-speaking, whether or not you use this App, proloquo2go or no AAC App at all is a great idea.).

Links to be added soon.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Summer St,Haverhill,United States

Sunday, August 8, 2010

iPad Case Options for Significant Special Needs

Easy to carry cases with screen access for ambulatory individuals:
  • Simplism Leather Shoulder Case includes leather case with invisible shock absorption plates and shoulder strap, $50.00.
  • Crystal GABAN Case is a clear polycarbonate case with attachment point to use a carabiner clip to add a should strap, $35.00
  • Modulr Case and Accessory System is a heavy duty impact resistant case, water resistant case with option for interchangeable wall and car mounting, a kick stand and a shoulder strap, $99
Heavy Duty Tough Cases
  • Otterbox three layer, scratch resistant, water resistant and drop resistant (I personally swear by Otterbox cases and have them on my Blackberry, iPhone and iPad), $90.00
  • Modulr Case and Accessory System is a heavy duty impact resistant case, water resistant case with option for interchangeable wall and car mounting, a kick stand and a shoulder strap, $99 
Because he is adorable, here is my friend Little Dude using an iPad in an Otter Box case:

    Water Resistant/Water Proof Cases:
    • Otterbox three layer, scratch resistant, water resistant and drop resistant (I personally swear by Otterbox cases and have them on my Blackberry, iPhone and iPad), $90.00
    • Leisure Jacket for iPad is a water proof, dust proof case in many colors, $45.00
    • Aquapac is a water proof, submersible case with a should strap, $45.00
    • Modulr Case and Accessory System is a heavy duty impact resistant case, water resistant case with option for interchangeable wall and car mounting, a kick stand and a shoulder strap, $99
    • Stabile is a nice looking and sturdy table mount that work in horizontal or vertical arrangement, $60

    Wheelchair Mounts
    • Third Hand Mounts are from Broadened Horizons and off a mean to mount light weight devices such as iPads to wheelchairs, call them and they will work with you on mounting $119-$250.00
    • RAM Mounts is designed to mount an iPad in a car, but works with a wheelchair
    • Note that most switch mount will work with the iPad provided you find a way to attach the iPad, likely in a case, to the mount top
    Other Options
    • The Trabasack Curve is a soft sided lap tray with velcro receptive fabric for a cover, it can be used as a lap tray with velcro to hold an iPad in a case in place and also act as an iPad carry bag, $40
    • I will be adding more to all categories. Keep a look out.

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Typ-O HD TTS Word Prediction App

    I am trying out a new iPad App called Typ-o HD It is a word prediction App for those with dyslexia As a dyslexic I have found spelling on the iDevices to be the most frustrating thing I can think of. The automatic word replacement nearly always does not use the word I meant. It is crazy making to have a text you worked hard on read like a Mad Lib. Additionally I often times touch a misspelled word only to have the pop up show that there is no word that is close enough to what I spelled for it to make suggestions.

    The best spelling correction program I have ever used is that which is built into the web browser Firefox. It works for me because it underlines misspelled words and then gives me a list of possible words when I right click on the underlined word; infrequently I have spelled something so incorrectly that this method doesn't work for me, but then I can usually get pretty close to what I meant with a few attempts at sounding out the word (phonetic encoding). I have used word prediction programs in the past, usually Write:Outloud by Don Johnston, but I often times do not find word prediction to be that useful. Luckily I can usually pick the word I want from a list of potential words. So I am capable of using word prediction. Typeo is nice because you can click the "play" icon next to any word and hear it said to be able to find out if it is the word you meant Thus far typeo seems to be working OK for me except it is hard to get used to looking at the word prediction for words I might misspell.

    I do like the spell check on Typ-o HD though. So far it is able to find the word I want for even my worst misspellings. It makes me happy for the dyslexic kids who are out there right now that perhaps they will not suffer some of the embarrassments I did when, for example, my seventh grade English teacher made our spelling lists for the week based on mistakes we made in our writing. My list was horribly long and humiliating when she paired us up to help each other study. Not to mention that I loved learning vocabulary words like obsequious or loquacious but never used them in my writing because I knew I could not spell them even well enough to look them up in the dictionary (remember those?). Typ-o HD also allows you to use text to speech to hear any selection of your text or your entire text read to you. Also you can export to e-mail or to the clipboard to paste into another program (in this case into BlogPress to post this entry).

    I know that, for me Typ-O HD is the best app I have found for typing on the iPad. I have moved it to my dock and don't intend to compose text without it now that I have it.

    My wishes for Typ-o HD would be better voices for the text to speech and a grammar check feature. Also what is up with the letter "I" not automatically being capitalized? I wouldn't mind automatic apostrophes in contraction either. Or at least a way to turn such features on and off.

    If Typ-o HD were to upgrade to better voices the app would be an excellent AAC app. I can see individuals using it to communicate very easily by typing, with word prediction help, what they wish to say and then pressing speak. I would gladly pay five to ten times the cost of Typ-o HD for a version with the best of the best text to speech voices. Perhaps called Typ-o AAC?

    Typ-o HD is for iPad and is $1.99. Typ-o is for iPhone or iTouch and is $.99.

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Learning the iPad

    This afternoon I had a chance to spend some time with my good friend and former student, Colleen. Colleen is now 22 and I have know her since she was my student from 2001-2006 and we have been good friends ever since. Colleen is a wonderful young lady with a great sense of humor who likes working hard. She is a power chair user and communicates through alternative methods of communication.

    I brought along my iPad to our visit and she tried it out. First we spent sometime with Colleen learning to slide her finger across the screen. We used Cat in a Rainbow and Picture Pusher for this.

    Cat in a Rainbow is essentially a cause and effect program which rewards sliding a flower across a stripe of rainbow with a pop-up photograph and sound effect. It is a good learning how to target and slide/scroll app and a fun cause and effect app for those who can manage the fine motor skills. Colleen thought Cat in a Rainbow was ok, but she loved Picture Pusher.

    In Picture Pusher a number of photos or images appear on the screen and user slides them into a box. The app is very customizable. Colleen loved sliding pictures of herself, her friends and family into the box and quickly came to understand dragging and dropping on the iPad. Next we moved onto ACT Spelling which is a program that shows one to five large, high contrast buttons on the screen and asks the user to find letters, spell CVC words or spell words from the first three Dolch lists. This app is also very customizable, especially for vision issues. Colleen loved this app, although it took her a minute to move from sliding to tapping (at first she wanted to slide the letters to the top of the screen, but she soon understood to tap the letters.

    After she did all three Dolch lists twice I convinced her to try out Proloquo2Go. Colleen has a love/hate relationship with communication devices. She has all the skills she needs to access a device (she understands thousands of picture symbols, reads on a late grade two level and spells on a grade one level; she can access a touch screen and although she is legally blind a small to medium size screen in the right field of vision is something she sees perfectly) yet she has severe problems with making communicative selections. She will hover her finger over the button she wishes to choose, waiting for a cue to activate it. (Yes, it is a cue dependency/desire to please/learned helplessness issues - I have known her for nine years and still we haven't successfully broken through with this. We have seen some success using a mouse set to dwell in breaking through but that leads to all sorts of issues with finding a device that has dwell for mouse or joystick and not just for eye or head tracking. Someday someone will invent the right device for my friend; I hope.) Thus I started small when showed her Proloquo2Go, just having her spell words on the Keyboard Page like she had been doing in the ACT Spelling App. Eventually we will try out communicating with Proloquo2Go, but we are going to move slowly.

    Overall I was impressed with the simplicity and how much Colleen liked the apps we tried out in practicing iPad skills, especially Picture Pusher and ACT Spelling. Cat in a Rainbow and Picture Pusher are both excellent apps for teaching the fine motor mechanics of using the iPad. ACT Spelling is nice app to teacher spelling to students who know how to tap the screen or targeting/tapping to a student who has some letter and/or spelling knowledge.

    (I will add links to the apps mentioned tomorrow, as well as add them to the iPossibilities Round-Up blog entry. It is just to hard to do that kind of editing on the iPad.)

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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