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Archive for General Info

Transition Event

Posted by: | October 31, 2014 | No Comment |

Hello from the 2014 Transition Event!

Today I am using this post as a demonstration some of the tools that I use when writing formally.  My guests are Southern Indiana High School students.  I am talking about “Assistive Technology in Friendly and Formal Communication”.  I will be speaking about many different ways to make creating this communication easier.  One of the ones that I am showing is the website http://www.hemingwayapp.com/  this site is not browser specific (is not a Chrome app).  Text is copied and pasted over the text on the page and is then analyzed for sentence difficulty, number of adverbs, words or phrases that can be simpler and uses of passive voice.  This is something that I send this blog through prior to publishing.

Did you know that Martha Hammond also writes a blog for PATINS?  I would like to send you there – via link to see what she has written about the big things going on at PATINS.  Her blog is the ICAM Dispatch and is a great companion read to the Rapid Fire Blog!  Enjoy!

ICAM Dispatch Link

Just in case you don’t follow the link, remember…

  • Deadline to apply for the AEMing for Achievement Grant is November 7th! https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/aem20142015
  • 2014 PATINS State Conference - “Accessible Learning in Indiana: Materials, Modes, and Measurement” November 18 & 19 Registration Link: http://bit.ly/stateconf14
  • Name our new PATINS robot! Message us via FB or email [email protected] with your name suggestion.

Picture of NAO Robot

under: apps, General Info, Online Resources, PC, Software, TTA Grant, Uncategorized, Web 3.0 Tools

UEB Ready?

Posted by: | October 9, 2014 | No Comment |

Today, PATINS, Project Coordinator Glenda Thompson is my guest writer for the blog!



Presenters:  IERC Staff, PASS Project Staff, & PATINS staff

Trainings will take place in November at each of the PATINS regional sites. The training schedule is below:

November 5, 2014 – Northeast*
November 6, 2014 – Northwest
November 12, 2014 – Southwest
November 13, 2014 – Southeast
November 14, 2014 – Central

An additional training, available to ISBVI staff only, will be offered at ISBVI on October 30.

Check-In 8:30 AM (Eastern Time)
Training: 9:00AM – 3:30 PM 

UEB Ready? Introduction to Unified English Braille will be both informational and experiential. A comparison of English Braille American Edition (EBAE) and UEB will be provided. Teachers and staff will participate in a variety of exercises specific to UEB. This introduction is intended to educate and prepare teachers of students who are blind/low vision and paraprofessionals in order to facilitate a smooth transition to the new code.

For more details and registration information, download the flier.


Please submit all registration forms for UEB Ready? Introductions to Unified English Braille to the PASS Project using one of methods below:

*Please note the change in location for the Northeast Regional Training on November 5, 2014. Rather than the Northeast PATINS Regional Site, the training will take place at Heartland Career Center, 79 South County Road 200 West, Wabash, IN 46992. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Bonnie Bunch.

For more information on UEB here is a 15 minute interview from PATINS TV.

Picture of PATINS Central Regional Coordinator, Jeff Bond on the PATINS TV set.Are you UEB Ready?
Join Host Jeff as he welcomes Leslie Durst, Indiana Educational Resource Center (IERC) and Marcee Wilburn, Promoting Achievement for Students with Sensory Loss (PASS).  They will introduce Unified English Braille and explain an upcoming transition from American Edition Braille to UEB.

under: AT Conferences, General Info, Services

Inspiration and Alt Tags

Posted by: | October 2, 2014 | No Comment |

Sometimes I need to search for ideas.  Either for blog posts or for a specific educator request.  Regardless, I have a few places that never let me down.  Pinterest is one of those.  It allows me to search for what the world is posting on my topic.  When I searched Assistive Technology today, this was the first pin I saw.  They call it a Party Ring Mouse.

Picture of a child's adjustable ring glued onto a computer mouse It was re-pinned by SOS Inc. Resources.  When I clicked on the picture it took me to the original pinner’s site http://www.theoatc.org/resources/PartyRngMouse.asp  posted by the Oklahoma Assistive Technology Center.  If you have ever visited Pinterest, you know that you can spend hours just looking at pins of things you are interested in and following them to their resources.  The biggest problem with Pinterest is that it’s content is not accessible to people who are blind.  If you were to use a screen reader on this blog page, when you got to the actual picture you would hear a description of the picture.  ”Picture of a child’s adjustable ring glued onto a computer mouse.”  That is something that I have to embed into the picture.  It is called an “alt tag”.  It sounds hard, but it isn’t.  Unfortunately, this is not available for Pinterest unless the original image is tagged.  Then the tag will move with the picture, I’m told.  For more information on Pinterest and accessibility try this post http://drumbeatconsulting.com/blog/2012/01/30/would-the-blind-be-pinterested-the-disability-markets-perspective/  Also, if you’re interested in learning a bit more about alt tags,  http://ohksocial.com/alt-tags-image-titles-file-names/ 


The Party Ring Mouse is fairly low tech.  For high tech, check this out this design concept of a device that will translate sign language into speech and speech into text.  http://www.red-dot.sg/en/online-exhibition/concept/?code=1033&y=2013&c=16&a=0  They really need to busy and make this!

Some things to be aware of:

October is Learning Disabilities Awareness MonthFollow this link to the “31 Days of LD Calendar” presented by the Learning Disabilities Association of America The calendar features links to free live and archived webinars, as well as links to apps, videos and other information.

Kelli is on PTV! – Tuesday, October 7th, the newest PATINS Coordinator, Kelli Suding will be joining Jeff Bond at 11:40 am EST to discuss social media options and how PATINS is involved.

Head to the Homepage! – Drop by the PATINS homepage www.patinsproject.com to check out the “Top 10 Reasons to Attend the 2014 PATINS Conference”

PATINS has a Pinterest Page – Search “patinsproject”


under: 21st Century Skills, AT Conferences, General Info, Online Resources
Tags: ,

For the last year I have been teaching educators how to use the Guided Access feature + Timer on the iPad.  Guided access is a wonderful tool for keeping students in the app you would like them to use.  As an added help, the timer feature, located in the clock app on all iPads/phones, will allow the user to place a time limit on the usage of the device.  Together you have an iPad that is locked into an appropriate app for the student and will turn off and be locked when their time is up!  With iOS 8 these functions have been combined into Guided Access.  Now when you triple click the home button to begin Guided Access on the bottom right-hand side of the screen you will see “Time Limit” and “Options”.  Pressing the Options button under Time Limit allows you to set the amount of time you wish the user to be working in that app.  So far, this is my favorite update!

under: apps, General Info, iPads, Uncategorized

Goodbye, PowerPoint!

Posted by: | August 19, 2014 | 1 Comment |

A recent article in Education Week Teacher starts with the title “Goodbye, PowerPoint” and then follows with, “How Education Conferences are Branching Out”.  It’s a good article I’ll let you read it yourself, but the title sent me in a different direction.  This summer I helped present in a two day training for technology leadership.  In it we asked the attendees to introduce themselves digitally without using PowerPoint.  They succeeded quite impressively.  We then went on to show them some of the problems that students with special needs might have when trying to see, hear or understand their information.  This was our way of helping them understand that delivering information in just one way was not going to work for everyone.  As educators, we need to be aware that as we distribute the opportunities to learn not all will be able to grab it in the same manner.  The key is to distribute the information in many different ways.  Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principals state that we need to be creating flexible learning environments that accommodate the individual learning styles of our students.  This means we need to find multiple ways to excite them about learning.  Give them multiple ways to acquire information and give them multiple ways to express what they have learned.

This brings up a favorite quote of mine:

"If you assign a project and get back 30 of the exact same thing, that's not a project, that's a recipe."  Chris Lehmann

So, while the level of comprehension may differ at the end of the day, how a student demonstrates what they have learned should reflect how they understand it.  So I say, let’s keep PowerPoint around as an option, but not make it the rule.

Website of the Week!

While researching the Chris Lehmann quote I discovered a great site (FREE) for students to demonstrate understanding by using quotes.  It is called Quozio.com and is so simple to use!  Here is one more quote courtesy of Quozio!

"The Cheese stands alone."  Farmer in the Dell

under: General Info, Online Resources, Services, Software, UDL
Tags: , ,

Gettysburg Address

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

The Address


Tuesday, April 15, at 9:00 pm on PBS (check local listings) a documentary by Ken Burns will air.  PBS describes it like this,  ”The film tells the story of a tiny school in Putney Vermont, the Greenwood School, where each year the students are encouraged to practice, memorize, and recite the Gettysburg Address.http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/the-address/home/   ”In its exploration of the Greenwood School, the film also unlocks the history, context and importance of President Lincoln’s most powerful address.” but there is more to the story.  It has to do with the Greenwood School.  In the linked article, the National Center for Learning Disabilities describes Greenwood as “a middle and high school for boys with learning disabilities and other challenges. Since the school’s founding in 1978, Greenwood students have recited Lincoln’s speech in front of peers and families as a way to learn American history, build confidence and raise their own expectations about what they can accomplish.NCLD – Kids with LD Gain Confidence  On page 2 of the article helpful strategies are listed for memorization tasks.  There is also a challenge to have everyone memorize this iconic speech. http://www.learntheaddress.org/

Screenshot 2014-04-14 10.10.57




While at the expo be sure to find your regional coordinator.  We will be wearing black PATINS shirts and will have our own booth #28!  Here is a link to the Exhibit Hall map and List of Vendors

Not sure who your Regional Coordinator is?  Here’s some help!


NW – Jim Lambert

NE – Julie Kuhn

Central – Jeff Bond

SW – Sandy Stabenfeldt

SE – Sandi Mahl

 See you there!

under: AT Conferences, General Info
Tags: ,

I apologize for the lack of information lately.  This person who I will refer to as “February Sandi” has been in charge for approximately 24 days.  Nobody likes February Sandi.  She is totally preoccupied with griping about weather and a general lack of color in her outside world.  Apparently, she isn’t a very good blogger during that month either.  Fortunately, regular PATINS Sandi has managed to ditch her for a few minutes so that a new Rapid Fire Blog can be published!

Here are some of the interesting things that have come through my space recently!

From Marcee Wilburn  via many sources

“Register today for these upcoming training opportunities!

March 20-21, 2014 – EARLY BIRD RATE ONLY $25

Karen Blankenship, Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University, Program for Visual Disabilities, will present Effective Instructional Continuum for the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC). This two-day session is intended for teachers of students who are blind/low vision, teachers of students who are deaf/hard of hearing, special education teachers, general education teachers, and parents. This presentation will provide background knowledge and theory of the effective instructional continuum for the ECC. In addition, participants will have hands-on application with various resources and materials.

July 17-18, 2014 – EARLY BIRD RATE ONLY $40

Ed Summers, a software engineer and accessibility specialist, and Diane Brauner, a TVI and certified O&M specialist, will present iPad Accessibility Bootcamp for Teachers of the Visually Impaired.  This two-day hands-on workshop introduces educators of the visually impaired to iPad accessibility features that help totally blind and low vision students succeed in the classroom and the 21st century knowledge economy. 

Attached are the conference brochures with registration information.  Information regarding each of these professional development opportunities can be accessed online at http://www.indstate.edu/blumberg/pass/blv-conferences.htm. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.  We look forward to seeing you at these upcoming trainings!

Marcee Wilburn
Promoting Achievement for Students with Sensory Loss (PASS)
Project Coordinator, Blumberg Center
Bayh College of Education, University Hall 009
Indiana State University
401 North 7th Street
Terre Haute, IN 47809
Office:  812.237.8115  |  Toll Free:  800.622.3035  |  Fax:  812.237.8089
Email: [email protected]   |  Web:  http://www.indstate.edu/blumberg

From Jim Lambert, NE PATINS Regional Coordinator: a link to the proposed new standards for elementary level http://www.doe.in.gov/achievement/standards/public-comment-identified-k-12-content-standards-college-and-career-readiness



App of the Week:  Via QIAT Listserve and Diane Brauner

 Math Melodies App Logo

Math Melodies is a free ACCESSIBLE math app created for all children but specifically designed for students with visual impairments. The game has fun stories, math activities and lots of motivating sounds. This is a great example of how math concepts can be reinforced on the iPad. The developers, who are Italian, are open to suggestions and are already incorporating ideas on how to modify the app to better meet the needs of students with visual impairments in the US.

This app is currently geared for 1st – 3rd grade students. The app has been funded through crowd sourcing; currently the team is crowd sourcing in order to raise the necessary funds to add 4th and 5th grade level math activities. If you have suggestions about the current app or suggestions about math activities for 4th and 5th graders, especially math activities that are challenging for students with visual impairments, please contact me or Math Melodies directly.

Do you like Math Melodies? If so, please go to the App store and give a review. Again, this will support these developers and might even encourage other developers to include accessibility features in their apps!

Please share this post and support the efforts of app developers who strive to create accessible apps!

A big thanks to EveryWare Technologies for developing Math Melodies!

[email protected]


under: AT Conferences, General Info, iPads, Online Resources, Samples & Examples
Tags: , , , ,

Participation Opportunity

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

Recently, it was pointed out to me that this post would benefit from a few clarifications, these are now included in blue.  Some lines originally posted have been deleted, not because they are inaccurate, but because their positioning within the post contributed to topical confusion. 

The following information comes from postings on The Learning Connection:

Indiana teachers and students will have an opportunity to participate in the NCSC alternate assessment item tryout this spring through pilot testing.

The registration window for the NCSC Phase 1 Pilot has been extended until February 7, 2014. 

The items will be presented to students online through the NCSC comprehensive assessment system, and test examiners will work one-on-one with students to administer the assessment based on individual student needs. It is important to note that the NCSC AA-AAS is a student-response assessment.

The NCSC pilot tests, as well as the operational assessment, are designed to be administered in approximately 11⁄2 to 2 hours. The Mathematics and English Language Arts pilot tests will occur this spring—Mathematics in March, and English Language Arts in April. Participation in the pilot testing provides a unique opportunity for both teachers and students to become familiar with alternate assessment based on college- and career-ready standards. More importantly, teachers can observe the level of student engagement and the nature of student responses during the pilot test. (Note: The number of teacher and student participants is locally determined.)

As NCSC will utilize matrix sampling during the pilot administration, each student will participate in only a portion of the pilot items, and individual student score reports will not be available. High-level, skill-based data will be shared following the pilot.

Indicating Interest:  Administrators, if any of your teachers are interested in participating in the NCSC alternate assessment pilot test this spring, please complete the survey at:


Your input is very important!

You and your students can help make this a better assessment by being a part of the pilot testing.  Only students currently taking the ISTAR test will be qualify to participate in the NCSC Phase 1 Pilot.  Students currently tested through the IMAST test would not qualify.


App of the Week!

Weather Underground App Weather Undergound app (for ipad/phone & android) FREE

With the weather the way it has been this year, we all need an accurate meteorologist in our pocket!  This is the app!  The current condition map can be modified to show fronts and weather stations.  Really beneficial for teaching weather and visualizing conditions!






under: apps, General Info, NCSC

AT for LD

Posted by: | January 27, 2014 | 2 Comments |

I think they forgot to mention us!

I read a lot of articles and blogs on the web.  The National Center for Learning Disabilities is a wonderful resource for all things LD.  This is a handy tip list of ways to help your child (or student).  I really appreciate #1, “If you’re just starting to investigate assistive technology, make sure you understand the basics—what AT can and cannot do.”  I think they should have put something about talking to your PATINS Coordinator after that!As educators we all know that we spend time teaching students how to use a textbook.  We do not expect them to know what bolded words mean, what can be found in the appendix, or even how to read the chapter.  We seem to forget that we need to teach students the ins and outs of using technology.  Not just how to use it, but when it is replacing or modifying something they have been using up to this point.  The student may just need validation that they are indeed using the device at the right time and correctly.  It is as awkward for them as it is for you.  PATINS is always ready to help you become the expert.  Here is the link to the rest of the article.


Another resource comes from Don Johnston, it is a literacy curriculum selector chart.  It is a part of the extras and support for their reading programs, but it highlights different skills and shows what materials target those skills.  Not just their products, but others as well.  Very handy!



Follow us on Twitter!  #patinsicam

Sandy = @patinsproject

Sandi = @smahlstuff

Julie = @nepatins

Jeff = @cepatins

App of the WEEK!

Screenshot 2014-01-27 09.35.26CLAPMERA  - FREE!

Clapmera allows you to take video, photo bursts, and single pictures by clapping your hands.



under: 21st Century Skills, apps, AT Conferences, General Info, Online Resources, Parents, Parents and Families, Uncategorized

Window Eyes and Tech Expo!

Posted by: | January 20, 2014 | No Comment |

So many things to write about…

I’m going to to just spit them out!  This first is a wonderful step for accessibility.  Straight from the press release:

For those of you who have not seen it, Window Eyes has partnered with Microsoft to offer FREE Window Eyes Screen reading software if you have a MS Office 2010 License (or later). A HUGE game changer! Here is the press release with link!



Fort Wayne, Indiana (January 14, 2014) – GW Micro, Inc., www.gwmicro.com, is proud to make a revolutionary announcement. GW Micro and Microsoft Corp. have partnered to make Window-Eyes available to users of Microsoft Office at no cost. Window-Eyes is a screen reader that enables people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled to have full access to Windows PCs and makes the computer accessible via speech and/or Braille. To better deliver Window-Eyes to the people who need it most, GW Micro and Microsoft have collaborated on this global initiative, available in over 15 languages, to enable anyone using Microsoft Office 2010 or later to also use Window-Eyes for free. Access to technology is critical to people who are blind or visually impaired in order to have the same opportunity to compete in the workplace. As such, this initiative between GW Micro and Microsoft has the potential to reduce barriers for millions of people who are blind or visually impaired around the world.

As the population ages, technologies like Window-Eyes will become more and more important as the number of people with age-related macular degeneration and other retinal degenerative diseases increases. “This significant change in the way we are doing business reflects the changing perception of accessibility and also technology in general. Rather than wait for the world to change, Microsoft and GW Micro are leading the way,” said Dan Weirich, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for GW Micro. Weirich believes this technology can help millions of people gain access to their PC, and that providing it free of charge will open a whole new world of assistive technology to many people.

In light of the rapidly changing face of technology and specifically, the changing face of assistive technology, the combined efforts of GW Micro and Microsoft have the goal of providing accessibility to people who are blind and visually impaired for the long term.

Microsoft continues to take accessibility seriously. “By partnering with GW Micro in this endeavor we are demonstrating Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to provide all of our customers with the technology and tools to help each person be productive in both their work and personal lives.” said Rob Sinclair, Chief Accessibility Officer for Microsoft.

Eligible customers, using Microsoft Office 2010 or higher, will be able to download a full version of Window-Eyes starting today at www.WindowEyesForOffice.com www.windoweyesforoffice.com/. The website provides download instructions as well as additional details about this offer.

GW Micro, Inc. (www.gwmicro.com) has been a trusted pioneer in the adaptive technology industry since 1990, and continues to lead with innovative, customer driven solutions.


Dan Weirich, VP of Sales and Marketing
[email protected]

PATINS 2014 Tech Expo!

Time to start planning for the PATINS Tech Expo 2014.

Thursday, April 17

The Fountains

502 East Carmel Drive

Carmel, IN  46032

As in the past 12 years…No Registration Fee!

Exhibit Hall Hours 9 am – 3:30 pm EST

  • New this year:  Extended time in Exhibit Hall to visit with Vendors
  • Ongoing presentations in various breakout rooms throughout the day
  • New this year:  Numerous Door Prize Drawings throughout the day for attendees 

Click below to register:


Vendor Presentation Schedule will be posted on www.patinsproject.com by March 1.


More announcements to come!

I’ve got High Hopes!  - Sandi

under: General Info, Online Resources, Parents, Parents and Families, PC, Services, Uncategorized

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