• Write a review on the software packages
—all 3 had excellent informative websites with Kurzweil 3000 being the most informative and user friendly.
1. INSPIRATION http://www.inspiration.com/Inspiration/Detail
Company: Founded in 1982, Inspiration Software’s focus has been developing innovative technology to support visual thinking and learning.
Software: Minimum Windows 98/2000, all other versions compatible, 50 MB fully installed, Recommended Internet & Quicktime. Price ranges with options including single user to license.
Program: According to Inspiration systems website (2009), the program is an essential visual thinking and learning tool where students can plan, research and complete projects successfully. With the integrated Diagram and Outline Views, learners create graphic organizers and expand topics into writing. With multiple learning modes, students gain and retain a better understanding of concepts and demonstrate knowledge, improving their performance across the curriculum. Winner of the “Technology & Learning” Award, 2006.
Features: Concepts maps, webs, idea maps in order to visually plan, organize, research, comprehend and communicate more effectively,
2. ICOMMUNICATOR http://www.myicommunicator.com/?action=home
Company/System: Interactive Solutions, Inc. (ISI), a subsidiary of Teltronics, Inc. since 1999. Must have working knowledge of Windows 2000 to properly use software. Expensive.
Program: iCommunicator is a software program that converts speech to text in real-time to provide persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or have hearing loss to have effective communication in authentic environments.
Features: iCommunicator promotes independent communication for persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and encourages increased literacy by “translating” English in real time in a number of ways: Speech to Text, Speech/Text to Video Sign-Language, Speech/Text to Computer Generated Voice.
Also adjusts to meet the needs of each user by speed changes, adjustable voice & pitch, changeable background colors, easy navigation, autosave, adjust typeface, formulate questions and statements for immediate response in class, during meetings, or personal conversations, hot keys allow 21 prepared sentences to be spoken with computer-generated voice, and microphone control.
3. KURZWEIL 3000 http://kurzweiledu.com/kurz3000.aspx
Company/System: Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc., a Cambium Learning Technology Company, was founded in 1996, but the roots of the company extend back to 1976 and the introduction of the world's first reading system, the Kurzweil Reading Machine.
Software: Various editions to fulfill a range of needs—Options include portable USB (no software installation—highly mobile), lab pack (1 main/5 learner stations), network (any network computer can access), license (no software stored on school network but rather through a web approach, more access for students including at home). Moderate price.
Program: According to the website (2006), Kurzweil 3000 is the comprehensive reading, writing and learning software solution for any struggling reader, including individuals with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or those who are English Language Learners.
Features: The system can be used in a variety of ways for various students. It provides visual & auditory feedback, highlighting text, annotations, editing, and voice notes.
• How can you implement assistive technology at your school or library?
There are many ways to implement assistive technology within a classroom or library. With just a little research and awareness, it can be done with relative ease.
First, by examining the accessibility features and utilities built right into Microsoft® Windows XP (Professional and Home versions), the computer can be made easier and more comfortable to use. http://www.microsoft.com/enable/products/windowsxp/default.aspx, For example, accessibility features and utilities such as captions, magnifiers, text to speech, alternative keyboard layout, narrator, and even an on screen keyboard to name a few can all be made available by simply just changing the default settings. Each classroom computer can be made more assistive by changing the settings (or at least being aware of them in order to be prepared—I personally was unaware of these accessibility features).
Second, through available software, teaching techniques can be modified to offer alternative means of learning. For example, by using more visuals and graphic organizer material can be presented in an alternative form. Furthermore, software that allows for practice as well as organization of the reading material will benefit ALL students.
Finally, the library should have adaptive equipment that an individual classroom would be unable to manage. Adaptive equipment that should be available would include larger keyboards, magnified screen, icommunicator, a Braille converter/ Braille embosser, stylus and participation in InfoEyes. Along with making adaptive equipment available within the library, there should be an effort to make various assistive technologies available for loan such as Braille and cassette books, playback equipment, and access to ebooks/audiobooks.