Sunday, May 3, 2009

Adaptive and Assistive Technology

I ran into a teacher the other day who was singing the praises of a new type of software that would be terrific for some reluctant readers in his class. He told me the software could read out texts is a spoken form. He saw a demonstration of it but was flawed by the cost. I agreed with him that the price was outrageous and being a bower bird, I would try and find him a free version. I found a couple of programs and having a play with them, I realised that Text To Speech (TTS) software has got so many other applications. I haven't paid much attention to this kind of software before, and regretably to Adaptive and Assistive Technology in general, but it got me thinking that I should do some more foraging for some free alternatives. I expanded my list a little and tried to find other types of free Adaptive and Assistive Technology and it made me remember when I first asked some of my students in china to use their mobile phones to create a 2 minute film. Some of these students had very little English but were able to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the visual form with stunning clarity. The same is possibly true with students will special learning needs. So let them lose with something like Photostory 3 or the powerful and simple to use Linux alternative, Smile or with their mobile phones and see what they come back with. Most of what I listed is for Windows or Mac but I am sure you would be able to find lots of Linux alternatives. And if you can't find it, contact the The Ubuntu Accessibility Team, who volunteer there time to improve the accessibility support on the Ubuntu platform and the software that runs on it, as I am sure they would enjoy the challenge of creating something for you.