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Monday, July 14, 2014

Assistive Tech Innovations: 14 New Apps and Other Tools

From NCLD.org
The National Center for Learning Disabilities

By Annie Krut
July 12, 2014

I’m all for innovation in the classroom. I love how technology has catapulted differentiation to a higher level. Instead of incorporating a few learning styles, technology is allowing teachers to reach all types of learners. It’s exciting!

I participated in a combined #LDchat/#ATchat hosted by The National Center for Learning Disabilities on Twitter recently where education apps were the main focus. As I rapidly scribbled down the recommendations, it was clear that this list had to be shared. Here’s the roundup that came from the discussion:

Dragon Dictation: Speech-to-text for a variety of mobile applications (think: messaging, emailing, blog writing).

ModMath: Designed for individuals with dyslexia and dysgraphia for whom the mechanics of writing math problems causes a barrier. ModMath takes care of the construction of, for example, the long division problem. After that, solving that problem is up to you.

VoiceDream: Text-to-speech to aid in reading. This app also allows for screen, font and text size customization and highlighting. It has a built-in dictionary and works with text from lots of sources (PDF, ebooks, email). If you’ve looked into text-to-speech apps, you’ll agree that the power of VoiceDream does sound dreamy in comparison.

Notability: Takes “handwritten” notes on documents to allow for adding sketches to PDF or graphics or editing student work (!!). Notability also has an audio recording feature for auditory learners, photo capability and it coordinates with sharing platforms like Google Drive and Dropbox. This will be my next download.

StoryVisualizer: Creates storybooks for students using their words and images. From Lego Education.

UsTyme: Allows two people to remotely read a story together by coupling FaceTime-like software with reading. Would be great for traveling parents or faraway relatives. I’m thinking about using this as a formative assessment to check-in with students who are using iPads for reading either in the classroom or for homework.

DyslexiaQuest: A series of games designed to “assess working memory, phonological awareness, processing speed, visual memory, auditory memory and sequencing skills.” Gamers are encouraged to keep practicing to master skills.

Read2Go (iOS) or Go Read (Android): Makes books accessible to people with print disabilities. Developed by Bookshare.

Co:Writer: Word prediction software aids writing in real-time or later when editing. Text-to-speech feature reads letters, words, sentences, documents, which is great because not many have this thorough level of read-aloud. Produced by Don Johnston, and features the grammar-smart word prediction that his company is famous for.

Opt for the SOLO Suite, and get Co:Writer, Read:Outloud, Write:Outloud and Draft:Builder.

General Productivity Apps

Corkulous: For everything you’d tack on a corkboard or jot on a sticky note (phone numbers, reminders, dates, etc.). Sounds like a more practical Pinterest.

Voxer: Voice messaging somewhere between walkie-talkie and phone conversation. Allows users to skip the ringing and the voice mail message and cut straight to leaving a message/“vox”. Quick & practical.

The Little Memory: If Twitter had a journal feature, it’d be The Little Memory. Write short memories or accounts of your day. I’m thinking this could digitize the exit ticket to save trees and time.

Haiku Deck: Prettier, more powerful slide presentations. At a glance, it seems like a Prezi contender. (Prezi is awesome!).

Finally, Graphite is a site for educators to find and review tech to use in class, including apps, sites and games. Go there for more. What are your favorite educational apps?


Annie Krut is a special education teacher with more than 10 years experience working with children and their families. She offers her Eight Hugs lesson plans and classroom resources at http://eighthugs.com. Find her on Twitter @eighthugs.

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