Last week Hello folks gathered for our Fall Professional Development event to learn about the latest tricks of the trade in Assistive Technology. Gina Ossanna MS, CCC-SLP shared tools used to support students with learning challenges in the general education classroom, and Lucinda Bowman MS, CCC-SLP shared her expertise and reviews of speech generated devices.
Let’s be honest – Assistive Technology is one of the lesser understood parts of special education. As specialists we know that it exists, but rarely see it being used to its full potential. With the increased use of technology in the classroom, however, it is becoming easier for students to access the curriculum with a variety of tools.
Here are some of the highlights of what was shared last week:
3 AT tools you should try (and maybe already have)!
– Text to speech (reads text out loud) – audio books, built in features on Safari and Chrome browsers
– Speech to text (Dictation) – Dragon, Siri on iPad
– Writing supports (word prediction, flexible spelling, topic dictionaries) – Co:Writer, Read and Write, built-in supports on iPad/smart phones
A variety of free and low-cost apps were also shared. Perhaps the most popular app was Snaptype (Pro – $3.99, Lite -free, ), an app that allows student to take a picture of a worksheet and then type in answers. Kidspiration ($9.99, Lite – free) is also an app with a variety of graphic organizers to support students with writing.
For the second half of our evening, Lucinda shared her expertise on the ever-changing world of speech generating devices (SGD’s). She outlined how to trial SGD’s with students, and how to determine what is the most appropriate voice output device for each client. Lucinda also reviewed the SGD’s that are currently on the market, and the pro’s and con’s of each device.
Lucinda’s favorite SGD right now is the Avaz Pro app for iPad (AvazInc. $199.99). It has 35 languages, access to Core & quick words at all times, a keyboard, mini games to teach skills, tracks use & progress, and is easy to program. Specialists can obtain a Free evaluator copy of AVAZ for AAC trials here.
It is amazing to see how the development of voice output devices is changing given the availability of iPads and other tablets. Each device clearly has its own advantages – it will be interesting to see how the field of AAC/AT changes over the next 10 years.