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Monday I noticed there was something new in my address bar.  You know, that white box where you type the URL into.  I usually have a couple of Chrome extension shortcuts up there including the green, yellow and white flag for Read&Write for Google from Texthelp.  Now that’s missing and there is a purple puzzle piece with rw on it.

purple puzzle piece with letters r w inside

Using my deductive reasoning skills (and by clicking on it) I discovered that this is the new icon for Read&Write for Google.  Texthelp’s product line has been increasing rapidly while many old friends like Read&Write have been receiving updates!

List of TextHelp products.  Read&Write, Fluency Tutor for Google, BrowseAloud, Lexiflow, SpeechStream

Not only does Read & Write have a new logo, they have had the dictionary and word prediction functions updated!  Users should see increased accuracy across these two functions. Read&Write is also available on iPads and Android Tablets!   Fluency Tutor just debuted in January.  Already some great updates are in the works for the premium features.  Texthelp’s newest product Teach for Google comes from a couple of speakers you may have seen at the PATINS State Conference.  Jason Carroll and Jason Gibson started thinking about how often teachers learn a new skill, only to loose it while trying to find strategies that it can enhance.   To help teachers get the most out of Google Apps for Education they felt they needed to do more than just write lesson plans that utilize the Apps.  The feeling was that this was too narrow a focus.  Instead, they have created courses that utilize standards based, best practices as the vehicle to deliver training on how and when to use Google Apps for Education.  Follow this link to learn more.

App of the Week

SnapType Logo, Link to descriptionFree!

SnapType promises to be able to provide easy to use, worksheet filling/ annotation. Quite a bit.  SnapType app provides tools to take a picture , create text boxes and type. Let me know if you have used this and like it.  There are many teachers out there waiting to discover this!

I hope you have enjoyed, or are still enjoying Spring Break!   Don’t forget to register for the PATINS Tech Expo on April 23rd at the:

Wyndham Indianapolis West

2544 Executive Drive

Indianapolis, IN  46241

9:00 a.m. EST – 3:30 p.m. EST

under: Uncategorized

UEB for you and me!

Posted by: | March 17, 2015 | No Comment |

Unified English Braille – UEB

In November of 2012 the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) decided to adopt the language English Braille to replace the current English Braille American Edition in the United States.  In November of 2013 BANA affirmed January 4, 2016, as the date by which the United States will implement the general use of Unified English Braille (UEB).  With that deadline swiftly approaching, this topic will be one of the concentrations of this year’s Tech Expo!  Scheduled is a ninety minute session with a panel of VI vendors to share their expertise and product capabilities.  It will be moderated by PATINS State Director, Daniel McNulty.  Follow this link to the session descriptions for more information on all of the great presentations at Expo on April 23rd from 9:00 am EST to 3:30 pm EST, at the Wyndham Indianapolis West, 2544 Executive Drive, Indianapolis, IN  46241

iPads, Macs and UEB

UEB is one of the many choices for braille tables installed in OS X and iOS. It’s just a matter of choosing it vs. other options such as US English or UK English.

To find it on a Mac, go to VoiceOver Utility > Braille > Layout and choose “English (Unified)” as your Braille Translation language.

To find it on an iOS device, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Braille > Braille Translation and set this to “English (Unified)”

The people at Apple tell us that they support approximately 30 international braille tables on their devices and UEB is one they’ve had for a while.

Be My Eyes  –  Free

Be My Eyes icon

Be My Eyes is an app that connects blind people with volunteer helpers from around the world via live video chat.  Through the app a person requests assistance.  The helpers with the app receive a notification that someone needs them and a video link is established.  They can then see and describe what the person requesting assistance is pointing the video camera towards on the phone.


under: AT Conferences, Hardware, iPads, Mac, Online Resources, Tech Expo, UEB

Think Spring & Summer!

Posted by: | March 4, 2015 | No Comment |

It’s coming, I promise!  

Single Crocus growing in snow

A sure indicator of Spring!

It’s time to register for the 2015 PATINS Tech Expo!

SAVE THE DATE : April 23, 2015


Wyndham Indianapolis West

2544 Executive Drive

Indianapolis, IN 46241

As in the past…

  • No Registration Fee!
  • Complimentary Lunch
  • Free Parking
  • Vendor Presentations
  • Vendor Exhibit Hall
  • Door Prizes
  • Networking with Colleagues from around the State

FREE Attendee Registration is now open.

Summer Camps

I opened up my email this morning and read the Indiana Resource Center for Autism’s, IRCA Reporter E-Newsletter.  In it they share a list of “Summer 2015 Camps and Programs”.  Who doesn’t need to think about summer right about now?  You remember summer, right?  So here is a link to help get you into a happier state of mind!

I have high hopes!

I am a big fan of taking mainstream media (Movies) and using them to help engage students.  Pixar Studios has one coming out June 19th that I have high hopes for.  It is called Inside Out.  I have linked a couple of trailers!  Enjoy!

Inside Out: US Teaser Trailer                         Inside Out Official Puppy Bowl TV Spot


Inside Out - Emotion Poster

under: AT Conferences, General Info, Online Resources, Tech Expo
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Don’t think of a Chromebook as a computer. It is a device whose purpose when you turn it on is to find an Internet connection and run on Google’s Chrome operating system (OS). Most of Chromebook’s documents and apps exist in the cloud. The only native app is the Google Chrome Internet browser. Everything else is composed of Web apps (email, photos, documents), or apps and extensions that run while you’re connected to a network. You can still compose and read emails with Gmail and word process with Google Docs. The offline apps will automatically sync and save when your computer has an Internet connection.

The Chromebook does not have the programming or the ability to link to a program that will unlock a NIMAS file. The file will need to be unlocked preferably using a windows machine and then saved to Google Drive as an epub or a pdf.

Once the file is unlocked, and in Google Drive. Right click on the “doc icon”
You should see “open with” and an arrow pointing right. One of your choices should be Read&Write for Google by Texthelp. It is the best app that I have found for reading epub’s and pdf’s or anything else on a Chromebook.

To download the free version from the Chrome Web Store follow this link: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/readwrite-for-google/inoeonmfapjbbkmdafoankkfajkcphgd?utm_source=chrome-ntp-icon this free version will allow students to have text highlighted as it is read.

Teachers can have a full year free of the premium version. After downloading the free version, go here: http://www.texthelp.com/north-america/readwriteforgoogle/

For more information on the features of Read&Write for Google follow this link: http://www.texthelp.com/north-america/readwriteforgoogle/

Troubleshooting If you right click and do not see Read&Write for Google as an option:

• Check to see that the green and yellow flag is in the address bar. Many times after an app or extension is downloaded it is necessary to shut Chrome down and reboot in order for the extension to load for the first time.

• If the flag is there then follow the instructions in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeV0Km73I7Q to choose Read&Write for Google as one of your default options. (This video also has many good tips and is worth watching.)

under: AEMing for Achievement Grant, Chromebooks, General Info, Online Resources, Parents, Parents and Families, PC

Free Webinar

Posted by: | February 9, 2015 | No Comment |

Free Webinar – Accessible Educational Materials in 2015: The Basics for Families and Educators

Our friends at the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials have put together a free webinar entitled – Accessible Educational Materials in 2015: The Basics for Families and Educators

This webinar will be held on Tuesday February 10, 2015 from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM EST.  Registration Link


 Thoughts on having a child who is autistic.

An interesting article passed on by Jim Lambert regarding one mother’s thoughts on why her child is autistic.



Need more tips & tricks?

Every PATINS Regional Coordinator has a spot on where information, tips and tricks can be found:

Jim Lambert – Northwest PATINS:  Tip of the Week, at the bottom of his webpage

Julie Kuhn – Northeast PATINS: NE PATINS Tips ‘N Tricks Blog

Jeff Bond – Central PATINS:  Did You Know, at the bottom of his webpage

Sandy Stabenfeldt – Southwest PATINS:  Sandy’s Tip of The Week, at the bottom of her webpage

Sandi Mahl – Southeast PATINS:  Want to Lurk? Twitter Feed and “Where’s Sandi Been?” at the bottom of the webpage



under: Uncategorized

On August 28, 2014 the Indiana Department of Education received word from the United States Department of Education that Indiana had received an ESEA Flexibility Waiver from certain aspects of the federal No Child Left Behind law. This gives local schools continued flexibility in how they utilize federal funding and allows more funding decisions to be made at the local level. The waiver is organized into three principles: 1) College-and –Career Ready Standards and Assessments; 2) State-Developed Differentiated Recognition, Accountability, and Support; and 3) Supporting Effective Instruction and Leadership.  The Indiana Department of Education’s Office of Special Education has collaborated to create a webpage to provide more information for families and educators of special populations of students with respect to the waiver:http://www.doe.in.gov/standards/special-populations-students. The actual waiver may be accessed at: http://www.doe.in.gov/esea.

under: funding, General Info, IDOE, Parents, Parents and Families
My subscription to Edublogs was on the blink so I am republishing last weeks post just in case.  

Happy 2nd Semester! 

Last year I noticed that many of my blogs had a Top 10 list.  I felt left out, so I did one too!  Here is the 2nd annual list of 10 things that I learned over the winter break.  

  • I renewed my CPR certificate and found out that if you are assisting someone, they are no longer having a “heart attack” or “cardiac arrest”, we are to just call it a “heart episode”.
  1. The American Heart Association has a 100 beats per minute Spotify Play List on their website to use when doing Hands-Only CPR.  Download it to your playlists and you can have some crazy beats to help you keep time!  “Stayin’ Alive” is not on the list. :-(
  2. The “Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (ABLE Act of 2014)” was signed into effect by President Obama on December 19th.  This law removes a “penalty” that caused people with disabilities who saved more than $2,000 to fail to qualify or risk the loss of their Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and other benefits.  For more information on how this law may effect your students and their families start HERE.
  3. quietube = The BEST YouTube viewing app EVER!  http://quietube.com/  clean, simple and it will give you a tinyurl too!  Quit reading and go try it.  Be sure to watch the Marmoset video in the example!
  4. For my science teaching friends – Matt Miller and his “Ditch That Textbook” blog brings you 11 class activities with sensors you didn’t know your phone had I didn’t know it had all of those!
  5. A fun and informative top 10 list from 21st Century Educational Technology and Learning both informed me and made me laugh.  Dihydrogen monoxide still makes me laugh too! Facts About Dihydrogen Monoxide, dihydrogen monoxide hoax
  6. I also learned how to create a Jeopardy style game in Google spreadsheets!  Thank you Free Technology for Teachers!
  7. HIMS has HUGE price cuts on their demo models (Braille Sense OnHand – $2000.00 off!)
  8. I can go a full day without a computer or a phone, but people check up on me when I do!
  9. There is a new student centered education-based search engine out there called InstaGrok.  Read about it here.
  10. Best Tech device – Firefly Electric Attachable Handcycle for Wheelchair!  – It is currently unavailable, but I bet it wouldn’t be hard to make!

Woman sitting in a non motorized wheelchair with a single wheel and handlebars in front.

under: apps, funding, General Info, Online Resources, Parents and Families, Samples & Examples, Uncategorized

Preparation is Key

Posted by: | December 12, 2014 | 1 Comment |

Last night while on Facebook I saw this posting…

Prepare yourself mentally for sewing.  Think about what you are going to do...  Never approach sewing with a sigh or lackadaisically.  Good results are difficult when indifference predominates.          Never try to sew with t a sink full of dirty dishes or beds unmade.  When there are urgent housekeeping chores, do these first so your mind is free to enjoy your sewing.  When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible.  Put on a clean dress.  Keep a little bag full of french chalk near your sewing machine to dust your fingers at intervals.  Have your hair in order, powder and lipstick put on.  If you are constantly fearful that a visitor will drop in or your husband will come home, and you will not look neatly put together, you will not enjoy your sewing.

At first, I laughed and figured the lack of lipstick and powder were the reason I had never been able to sew.  Then I thought about the message behind the words.  Sometimes you have to be in the right state of mind in order to accomplish your goal.  Put an activity you have been trying to accomplish into the first paragraph and it becomes profound.

What is AEM?

If you are following us on Facebook you have heard about our 8 “AEMing for Achievement Grant” school districts.  But what is this AEM?  AIM, Accessible Instructional Materials, has become AEM, Accessible Educational Materials.  Same pronunciation, just a bit of clarification.  Our 8 grant awardees and their coordinators are:  Carmel Clay Schools (Sandi, Julie), Frankfort Community Schools (Jim, Sandy), Goodwill Excel Center (Jeff, Sandi), Goshen Community Schools (Julie, Jim), Lawrence Township Schools (Jeff, Sandy), Logansport Community Schools, (Julie, Jim), Perry Township Schools (Sandy, Jeff), and Switzerland County School Corporation (Sandi, Sandy).  For more information on AEM and the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials follow this link, http://myemail.constantcontact.com/The-AIM-Center-is-now-the-AEM-Center-.html?soid=1102571641499&aid=kb-05alIy_w#fblike

Free interactive accessible book!

Reach for the Stars - Interactive Accessible Book, Hubble telescope view of the Tarantula Nebula displayed on an iPad

Reach for the Stars: Touch, Look, Listen, Learn is a FREE interactive, fully accessible iBook available on the iPad.  This astronomy book is geared for all 4 – 7th grade students and was specifically created for students with visual impairments.  This book showcases accessible multi-touch images with imbedded sonification (sounds).  Example:  The Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, a scatter plot, uses pitch to help indicate the brightness relative to the sun – the pitch increases from the bottom to the top of the Y axis; the X axis uses left to right stereo sound to help demonstrate the temperature.  Sounds heard in the left speaker are hotter than sounds heard in the right speaker.

To view the Reach for the Stars promotional video, go to:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uJVX4i1haU&feature=youtu.be

To download Reach for the Stars: Touch, Look, Listen, Learn, (remember, this is an iBook available in the iBook store – it is not an app) go to:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reach-for-stars-touch-look/id763516126?mt=11?

Students explore the fundamentals of astronomy, the latest scientific advances, the tools that make those advances possible, and careers in science. They’ll discover how the universe began, how different kinds of stars are born, and how those stars change over the course of their lives. And they’ll take a closer look at the Tarantula Nebula, the largest and most intense region of star formation in the Local Group of galaxies. Reach for the Stars is the perfect resource to expose all students—including those with visual impairments and other print disabilities—to critical STEM content.

Special Features
• Voice-over screen reader on iPad compatibility • Refreshable Braille display compatibility • Sonification of data visualizations • Read-aloud functionality • Captioning • Tactile overlays for interactive images available from National Braille Press


under: AEMing for Achievement Grant, General Info, Online Resources, Services, TTA Grant

I Love You Guys!

Posted by: | November 14, 2014 | No Comment |

To anyone who knows me it is no secret that I love what I am doing. Everyday I get to spend my time interacting with educators who are excited about finding a way to help students access the material they are required to learn.  The best times are when we are all together at a conference or a presentation.  The vast knowledge base, curiosity and willingness to learn that permeates these gatherings is a positive force for good!  The atmosphere is filled with laughter one minute and thoughtful silence the next as participants and presenters come together to share options and create possibilities.  The 2014 PATINS State Conference is next week, November 18 & 19.  The speakers are set and they are an impressive group.  The venue is wired and ready.  Plenty of bandwidth for the internet is in place.  Are you coming?  Registration is now closed, but if you would like to attend, please contact Glenda Thompson, PATINS Project Coordinator – gthompson@ciesc.k12.in.us or (317) 333-7278.  Tell her Sandi sent you.  I would hate for you to miss this.

App of the Week!

TinyTap app Logo.  Light blue with the words Tiny Tap insideFREE! https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tinytap-make-play-educational/id493868874?mt=8  “Be a maker! Teach and learn by making personalized learning apps and playing others created daily by superstar educators, experts, and publishers worldwide!”


under: Uncategorized

LDA of Indiana

Posted by: | November 3, 2014 | No Comment |

40th Annual LD & ADHD Conference

Road to Success

This year I will again be speaking at the LDA of Indiana Conference.  It will be held on November 7th, 2014 at the Ritz Charles Conference Center in Carmel Indiana.

I will be presenting 3 breakout sessions:

  1. Chrome Apps and Extensions to Increase Reading Accessibility and Comprehension
  2. iPad Tips, Tricks and Apps Everyone Should Know
  3. Assistive Technology as a Response to Intervention (RTI)

Last year was my first time to attend this conference and I was impressed with the variety of sessions presented.  I was also concerned by the people I didn’t see.  Every classroom has students that can benefit from the sessions presented at this conference.  To register:  www.ldaofindiana.net

PATINS Project State Conference

On that same note…

Are you looking to make a big impact on someone by sending them to the PATINS State Conference (in 15 days!)?  Send a general education teacher with your group!  All general educators have students with IEP’s in their rooms.  PATINS can help them too.  With funds and staff stretched among so many students, the general educators are often the front line in facilitating these student’s needs.  I speak with many general educators when visiting schools, they are excited and thrilled to find there is a group that they can utilize to help them with their students.  Empower these educators by sending them with your special educators to the PATINS State Conference. To Register:  http://bit.ly/stateconf14


Tech Tip!

New on the SE PATINS webpage!

Do you want to know how to use Guided Access and the Timer function on your iPad?  Follow this link to the SE PATINS web page and under important links there is a link to video tutorials that will show you step by step how to set this function up for your IOS 7 or IOS 8 iPad!  Enjoy!


under: Uncategorized

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