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Archive for General Info

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
Tags: , , ,

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

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

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…

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:

  • Scan and email the registration to: Bonnie.Bunch@indstate.edu
  • Fax the registration form to: 812-237-8089
  • Mail the registration to:
    The PASS Project
    Indiana State University
    Bayh College of Education, Blumberg Center
    401 North 7th Street
    Terre Haute, IN 47809

*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
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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
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