Sunday, March 31, 2013

littleBits - Ways we can adapt toys and other materials!

Adaptive tools and toys can be very expensive to purchase for our students. Many times we do not find exactly what we want or we need to have something impromptu. The switches many of our students use with physical accessibility needs are nothing more than simple circuits encapsulated in a variety of shells which allow people to activate them in different ways. Would it not be nice to do this ourselves in a way that was accessible to us regardless of our engineering background! Would it not be nice to be able to do this in the morning before teaching a lesson for something you came up with the night before? There may be a way to make this happen. Take a look at littleBits.

This is an open source tool from the MIT Media Lab. There are a lot of possibilities here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Portable Eye-Gaze Access Technology

Tobii eye tracking integration has made some major advances in the portability of their technology. They have developed an eye-gaze device which can be plugged into a laptop or desktop computer using a USB port to make it accessible. This offers amazing potential for so many eye-gaze users and allows the individual to engage across many more venues. The Tobii PCEye Go & PCEye Pro are peripheral eye-tracking devices which do extend control over all computer functions. Tobii presented their latest technology at a gaming conference. The application of these new portable devices is only just beginning! This is an example of how it can be used for gaming. The current version is actually even better!

Monday, March 18, 2013

ECHOES Research Project - Virtual Technology

The ECHOES research project originating out of the United Kingdom has had some substantial results in supporting the development of social skills for students with Autism. They us a device which appears to be a TAP-it to engage the students. The TAP-it functions similarly to the smartboards but allows for many other positional modifications making it much more accessible to a variety of students. Here is an article on the ECHOES program: Technology use in the classroom. There are a variety of social skills apps (one example) and programs which have been proven effective for some students. The ECHOES research looks very promising and should be publishing if they have not already the first part of their research soon. Andy is the virtual boy who assists in teaching social skills.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Blind Art & Photography

People who are visually impaired or blind have found creative talents in the area of art and photography. There are many ways to make art accessible to all people. Art as any of the other "Arts" should be explored without boundaries or barriers. Here are some incredible examples of how it can be created:

Art Beyond Sight has many resources you can access for art education. There are no limitations unless we place them there. This is an incredible outlet and a way for those with visual impairments or blindness to develop their creative niche and express themselves in truly original ways. Some may find a career in this area. Blind Art displays a variety of pieces of work. Please take a look to appreciate the gifts and talents of these artists and to get some ideas to support your students. Here are some resources for lesson plans:

Alliance for Equality for Blind Canadians

Blind Art Gallery

Art Education Daily

Sunday, March 10, 2013

People with Disabilities as Business Owners

Small business ownership should be a consideration when we look at how we can better support the dreams, skills and interests of people with disAbilities. This young man owns his own restaurant, Tim Harris .

There are a number of grants available for people with disabilities who want to start their own business. The US Small Business Administration also provides resources and help. Here are some additional resources from Finally, the Office of Disability Employment provides more centralized information for a variety of topics related to employment and self-employment.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Notice of Public Comment Annual State Application for (IDEA) Part B funds

For those of you who live in Massachusetts (this does apply to other states as well), the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has issued notice of public comment on their application for IDEA Part B Funds. Please read through the materials and consider formally commenting.  Please share this with families and colleagues. here is some additional information from the Federal Department of Education.

More Wheelchair Art

One of my colleagues at work shared another example of wheelchair art. Something we need to consider exploring in schools and day habilitation programs. Tommy Hollenstein creates amazing art through the use of his wheelchair. Please take a look at the clip. Last summer some wheelchair art toured through New England. Wheelchair Art has Wings This is very cool! We really should consider using the unique artwork our students are able to create through their wonderful abilities to decorate the schools, programs and public facilitates much more. You do see this in some places. We just need to be more consistent. Think about all of the extra parts we acquire from equipment which cannot be used again. Why are we not creating art with it? There is so much we can do which will also educate others and embrace all as each of use are differently abled.