Friday, May 7, 2010


BOOKSHARE Bookshare is a site that provides people with access to printed materials that have specific disabilities that adversely affect their ability to read printed materials. These materials include copyrighted textbooks, teacher recommended literature, and much, much more. Bookshare also shares links to various types of assistive technology. The Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) provides funding for Bookshare. Bookshare has over 70,000 copies of print material including widespread literature books used in the classroom as well as textbooks. Quite often, materials that are available to students without print-disabilities are not available to students with various print disabilities. Bookshare bridges this gap by providing access to print via electronic texts that can be downloaded onto a computer. In addition, once these texts are downloaded, teachers, parents, and students can manipulate the texts as needed. Written materials make their way into the Bookshare library thanks to volunteers and colleges who donate their time to scan and materials donated by publishers and authors. Text-to-speech programs are available through Bookshare by downloading the software, READ: OutLoud (Don Johnston) and Victor Reader (Humanware). Bookshare also has book embossment options. Individuals who have disabilities which adversely affect their ability to read written material qualify for a free membership of Bookshare. This may include individuals who are blind/legally blind, as well as individuals with dyslexia. Others who qualify for Bookshare include those who may have a physical disability that hinders them from being able to open a book or turn pages. An example of this may include students with cerebral palsy. Before qualifying for Bookshare services, students must be deemed as having a print disability by professionals who are certified such as a family doctor or optometrist. Special educators are also certified to make this decision. Teachers, volunteers, educational organizations, and parents have access to Bookshare memberships so they can advocate for individuals with qualifying disabilities. When students do not have access to required texts because of reading difficulties, academic success becomes an overwhelming challenge. However, the advent of Bookshare enables students to embrace the literary and expository texts presented in the school curriculum. This technology levels the playing field so that all can enjoy the benefits that a good education can bring. For example, teachers can use Bookshare in their classrooms to manipulate text so that students with dyslexia, blindness, learning disabilities, or cerebral palsy can learn at the same pace as their peers. Electronic texts can be manipulated by highlighting key words, contrasting backgrounds and texts with various colors, changing fonts of headings, adding icons, increasing the size of the text, and so on. Content in books may also be communicated verbally through text-to-speech programs. This works well for those who are visually impaired/blind. Text-to-speech is also useful because some students can read along with the text as it is being read aloud. Bookshare has two text-reader software programs (Read:OutLoud and Victor) available which provide access to, navigation and manipulation of texts. For example, the file format, DAISY, has a feature that allows students to enlarge or highlight fonts as well as a feature that allows students to hear texts. Bookshare supplies a host of benefits (listed above). It provides students with equal access to an education from elementary school through college. I observed students with visual impairments as well as dyslexia use text-to-speech software obtained through Bookshare. These programs have allowed these students to learn and even excel across content areas. Bookshare is flooded with materials that can enhance the education and lives of those use it.


Read:OutLoud is a text-to-speech program that provides access to essential curriculum at a relatively low cost to schools. Read:OutLoud is beneficial to students with dyslexia, print disabilities, and to students who are below basic reading level fluency or who have difficulty with reading comprehension. For more information on text-to-speech programs, visit the Don Johnston website.

Digital Recorders

Digital Recorders are an ideal device for students who have difficutly taking notes at a pace consistent with the lecture. Digital recorders are also useful for students who have visual disabilities. Check out the Don Johnston website for more information on digital recorders and how they benefit students.

Slant Boards

Slant Boards: Very useful low-tech device that assists students in improving handwriting skills. The slant board sits like a table easel that is inclined at a level that makes writing comfortable.

Dry Erase Boards

Individual dry erase boards are a common tool used in my classroom. Some of my students are reluctant to use paper and pencil either becuase of tactile issues (sensory issue with pencil to paper) or perhaps because OCD---Students may feel overwhelmed when work is too permanent. An additonal benefit with the whiteboards is that students can use a writing surface parallel to that of the teacher's making it fun to follow along during a class lesson.

Color Filters

Much like highlighter tape, color filters have proven to be a useful tool in helping many students with reading disabilities. Helen Irlen of the Irlen Institute has nine different shades of color filters which can be matched to the student to best accommodate their needs. For more information on color filters check out the link for this post.

Highlighter Tape

For students who have perceptual based reading disabilities, highlighter tape can be an extremely useful tool for helping students access important information. Highlighter tape is a good way to separate/organize information. For more info on available assistive technology, follow the link for this post.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Pencil Grips are a type of low-tech assistive device that provide students with an opportunity to use writing implements that are ergonomically sensitive. This type of assistive technology could be useful in my junior high resource setting. A few my students currently have trouble with tasks that rely heavily on fine motor skills. In addition to pencil grips being ergonomically correct, they are also economically correct and a good addition to any classroom.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Talking powerpoints are an effective tool that can greatly enhance classroom instruction. When selecting images to add to the powerpoint, you can use either scan a book, locate images from various sites, or add your own images. Note: Always be mindful of copywrighted laws and be sure to properly cite your sources. The following is a set of directions on how to create a talking powerpoint. I created and used a talking powerpoint for my junior high students as a precursor to a lesson on poems for two voices. It turned out to be quite a success and the students can't wait to make thier own. Under CONTENTS on my blog homepage, you will see another link for "Talking Powerpoint". Click on this link to watch my powerpoint. Thanks! INSTRUCTIONS FOR CREATING A TALKING POWERPOINT

FIRST: Select topic and purpose.

On the first slide: Name of book, Author and then write "adapted by (your name)"

Next, -Click on the "INSERT" tab -Select "PICTURE" icon -Upload picture from file (If scanning pictures from a book, scan each page and save them to “My Pictures”, then upload each page for each slide) -Once all pictures/pages are uploaded: -Go back to first slide and click on the INSERT tab -Find the SOUND icon, and select the down arrow -Select Record Sound -When ready to record, click the Red record button -When done recording for that slide, select the Blue stop button, and then press OK to save the recording -Follow this recording procedure for EACH slide. After recording each slide, go back to the first slide again: -Select Animations, and then look for the Advance Slide Option -Unclick “On Mouse Click” -CLICK “Automatically After” -Select how many seconds you want the slide to last for (based on length of recording for that particular slide) -Do this for Each slide Save your powerpoint and ENJOY!!!