Friday, April 26, 2013

New Communication APP for Children & Adults with Deafblindness

HIMS Chat is a free Apple application which facilitates communication between a person who is deafblind and a sighted individual using the iPad. It has Bluetooth capabilities and can be connected to other accessible devices. Many people do not realize how accessible Apple technology can be for a variety of users. Here is some detailed information on the app by AppleVis. There are so many built-in accessibility features on top of the creative apps now on the market. Take a look at a great app for a young child with visual impairment or blindness.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Supporting Children & Adults with Special Needs During Traumatic Events

This has been a horrific week for the people of Massachusetts. Terrorism as so many others know across the country and the world, is a senseless act of violence directed upon the innocent. It is very important to tend to the emotional needs of everyone, including yourselves in all of this. Recovery is slow and set backs often occur at the most unexpected times. For children with or without special needs, it is particularly difficult to manage all of the emotions associated with these events. It is essential that we make sure supports are available. Keeping a routine, providing items which typically provide comfort and being very sensitive to changes in behavior and emotions will be critical. Consider carefully how you speak about events and do not have adult conversations within earshot. Manage the media across all modes (internet, television, print, radio etc..). Never assume that the lack of an obvious reaction means someone is managing. Provide creative activities for exploration of feelings including movement, art, music and dance. Healing takes time. I have included some resources which may be helpful. Take it moment by moment.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

American Foundation for the Blind Announces 2013 Access Award Winners

American Foundation for the Blind Announces 2013 Access Award Winners! Please take a look at the companies who one and the innovations they have provided. Here is one of the new apps put out by AT&T:

Exploratorium: Hands on Exploration & Collaboration

The Exploratorium has opened today in San Francisco, CA. This is an incredible interactive museum of science with the latest technology and approach to learning. We can learn a lot from how they have constructed this museum and the philosophy behind it. There are direct implications to how we approach learning in our classrooms and schools. We can create our own (smaller version) of the Exploratorium right inside our classes, schools and communities. The approach looks at creating "explorers" who are active participants in inquiry and knowledge construction. This is the exact approach needed for many students with disabilities. Here is the link to explore what they currently have designed and offer. It is also a net-zero building:

Friday, April 5, 2013

High Impact Low Tech

Many times we end up focusing on the higher technology available because of the greater impact it can have for some individuals with significant access needs. We should not lose sight of the wonderful low tech options we can create using simple materials. Therese Willkomm provides incredible useful workshops on how to use simple materials to create sturdy assistive technology tools at a low cost. Please take a look at all of this information at the University of New Hampshire. There are videos included to demonstrate how to make these things. Modular Horse provides materials associated with these projects but you do not have to purchase them through their site. hardware stores, electronics stores etc. have these parts available. Making some of these low tech devices with your students as a learning activity or vocational activity will involve them in designing their own accommodations. We can also have our students assess and give feedback on what is created and how effective it is. Here are some pictures of an adapted iPad stand and stylus.