12/18/2009: Happy Thanksgiving? THANK YOU from PATINS, Open Source Screen Reader NVDA, Remember YOU HAVE Text To Speech Already, and more.

I know I’ve been really bad about updating this blog the last few Fridays in a row!  Things have been quite busy and I apologize.  I hope everyone returned to their classrooms and offices well fed and rested after the Thanksgiving Holiday and are now ready to rest for a few more days before tackling the second semester!    Among MANY other things, I am thankful for all of the educators I work with, talk with, email with and collaborate with who continue to demonstrate daily, their belief that all children can learn and if they are not, it’s because we haven’t provided them access or been creative enough, determined enough or skillful enough with their instruction.

On that note, I think it’s especially important during the upcoming second semester that we all do our best to remain positive, creative and enthusiastic about our instruction and the access we provide our students to it.  Here are a few tools I’ve learned about recently that might be worth checking into while you have a little downtime over the Holiday Break!

NVDA: “a free and open source screen reader for the Microsoft Windows operating system. Providing feedback via synthetic speech and Braille, it enables blind or vision impaired people to access computers running Windows for no more cost than a sighted person. Major features include support for over 20 languages and the ability to run entirely from a USB drive with no installation.”

I met an assistive technology expert on the PATINS Second Life Island one evening from out east somewhere and he shared this tool with me.  He was just searching Second Life for assistive tech related islands and PATINS is where he ended up.  So, we talked for a while and he complimented us on the island build and our efforts in Indiana to think outside the box in order to provide quality technical training and PD online via Second Life.  He continued, telling me how his significant other was blind and felt very strongly that this open source screen reader was just as good as the one she’d paid $1200 for.  Not being a true user of this technology myself, I’m not sure I’m qualified to provided a detailed comparison, but many of you ARE!   Please give it a try and post your comments and feedback here when you can so that others can benefit as well.   http://www.nvda-project.org/

THANK YOU sincerely to all of you who sent letters to Vicki’s office in support of the PATINS Project.  We are doing everything we can to continue providing free services to Indiana K-12 public schools to improve access, participation and progress in the general curriculum by ALL students.  WE APPRECIATE YOUR SUPPORT.

No Cost Text to Speech


Read:OutLoud Image Logo


Even though I’ve been blogging about this for 15 months now and it has been sent directly to all my contacts and straight to administration, etc., I am still running into school staff almost daily who are unaware of the opportunity Indiana has provided them with regard to the Don Johnston Read:Outloud Text To Speech Software.  In addition to simple and easy to use Text To Speech, Read:Outloud opens NIMAS textbooks like a dream and offers many more learning and teaching tools like a talking dictionary, talking bibliographer, notes, digital bookmarking, and more.  AND, PATINS staff is available to provide training for your staff on this software as well as free trainings from Don Johnston and also self-paced training online.  …even an option for you to get 3 CRUs just for learning to use the software.

Dragon Dictate Image

FREE Dragon Dictate on iPhone: If you use an iPhone, you really must check into this.  I’m using it daily myself.  www.dragonmobileapps.com

Interesting Thoughts: Here on NOT requiring our students to “power down” when they come to school:

ICT: Once again, my good friend Chris from Mississinewa has shared with me a cool resource.  Especially check out some of these tools/resource materials for use with students in their early years: http://ictearlyyears.e2bn.org/resources.html

ISTE Connects: A really nice resource to check out when you have time.  ISTE is the International Society for Technology in Education and does a lot of really great things for teachers and learners.  ISTE has had an island in Second Life dedicated to helping teachers grow for quite some time now.  www.isteconnects.org

PATINS-Project Staff in Second Life Image
PATINS-Project Staff in Second Life Image

Second Life PATINS Island: A little time over break might be perfect for becoming a little more familiar with our PATINS Island for the purpose of technical training, professional development and online meetings.  If you would like me to meet you on our island on break I will be happy to do so.  I will be in SL quite a bit over break anyway, building the University of Indianapolis’s Island, which they plan to start teaching in by January!  Here’s a bunch of resources to get you started in SL:

Region 8 ESC On Facebook:

Have a great Holiday Break everyone and I look forward to working with you again soon!

Have A Great Holiday

10/16/2009:PATINS SL Open House TUESDAY!!! NEW Read:OutLoud Version 6 FREE FOR ALL YOUR COMPUTERS!! RFB&D Book Opportunity, Free Online Sketch Pad, Caption You Tube Videos.

PATINS-Project Second Life OPEN HOUSE this coming TUESDAY!!!

PATINS-Project Staff in Second Life Image

PATINS-Project Staff in Second Life Image

Here’s your chance to see what the PATINS Project is doing in Second Life.
We are hosting an open house on our Second Life Island and you are invited to join us to see what it is all about.
When:    Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Time:     9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and then again 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. EST
Where:  Go to: http://slurl.com/secondlife/PATINS%20Project%20Island/114/98/26

Various PATINS staff will be available during these hours and activities will include island tours, formal address and discussion of potential future events and training/meeting topics.  You must already have your avatar created prior to this event in order to participate. Attached, you will find how to “GET STARTED” on Second Life or visit the PATINS Website http://patinsproject.com/videos.html for 5 video tutorials that walk you through getting your avatar created.  You can always contact us ahead of time for additional help.

Give it a try… and give us feedback on how you like it, and what you would like to see us provide you on our island.

  1. Do you have an Avatar created? See here: www.patinsproject.com/htm/TrainingVideos/SecondLife/SecondLifeIntro1/Second%20Life%20Introduction%20Tutorial%201.html
  2. Do you have the software downloaded and installed? See here: http://secondlife.com/support/downloads/?lang=en-US
  3. Have you checked to make sure you can access Second Life and that your computer meets the minimum system requirements? See here: http://secondlife.com/support/system-requirements
  4. Do you have the address or slurl for the PATINS Island? Here: http://slurl.com/secondlife/PATINS%20Project%20Island/114/102/26
  5. Need The One Page Getting Started Hand Out? Second Life Getting Started Informational Sheet

Free Online Sketch Pad: I’ve recently been playing around with the potential use of a pen/tablet type of device in place of a traditional mouse.  During this experimentation I’ve been fascinated by the ability of many of these devices to respond to pressure (pressure sensitive) and have been looking for a free way of utilizing this technology.  Check out this Free Online Sketch Pad. www.onlinesketchpad.com

RFB&D Books! The ICAM is pleased to announce a recent agreement made with Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic to provide audio digital format to certified students with a print disability textbooks and trade books (novels). The Agreement allows at no cost to the school district to place request for materials and download materials through your ICAM registered Digital Rights Manager. To learn more on training and how to access RFB&D See the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic tab on the Tools & Downloads page.

Read:OutLoud Image Logo

Read:OutLoud Image Logo

Read: OutLoud: NEW VERSION FREE!!!!   FOR ALL YOUR COMPUTERS!!!!  Version 6 has many GREAT improvements!

More info and perform download here: www.icam.k12.in.us/downloads.php

Caption YouTube Videos: Just sign in with your Google Account and quickly caption YouTube Videos to make them accessible.  Easy and Free: http://captiontube.appspot.com/