Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Assistive Technologies for Online Learning

For many -- not just those with special needs -- participating in an online course is very difficult without assistive technologies. Augmentive and alternative communication products can help students with disabilities. It is useful, however, to look at some assistive technologies as effective for learners who have specific learning preferences and who may benefit from being able to access content in more than one format.

Take a look at the different assistive technologies that are available. You may be surprised how affordable they are, and how helpful they might be for you, especially with respect to keyboards, touchscreens, screen-readers (and "talking books"), and speech recognition.

BAUM Retec AG: Products and services for the visually impaired (Germany)

Claro Software: speech technology, image technology and touch technology.

Dolphin screen-reader with Braille and speech support:

Provides large cursors

Dolphin Oceanic Ltd.: .Magnifies the screen or allows users to listen with screen readers and experience refreshable Braille. Dolphin software also creates altformat reading materials for people with vision impairments or dyslexia - Braille, large print, DAISY talking books or MP3s.

Enabling Technologies, Inc.: Braille embossers / printers

Extra Corporation (Japanese): Jaws for Windows in Japanese

Freedom Scientific Products

Freedom Scientific Products for Blindness
JAWS® screen reading software
PAC Mate Omni™ accessible Pocket PC
MAGic® screen magnification software
PEARL® portable reading solution
OpenBook® scanning and reading software
SARA™ scanning and reading appliance
PAC Mate™ Portable Braille Displays
Focus Braille Displays
Focus 40 Blue Wireless Bluetooth Braille Display
FSReader DAISY player
StreetTalk™ VIP GPS solution
ScanTalker® talking barcode reader solution
FSTTY deaf-blind telephone communications
FaceToFace™ deaf-blind personal communications

Freedom Scientific Products for Low Vision

TOPAZ® desktop video magnifier
TOPAZ® Connectivity Pack
ONYX® Portable Video Magnifiers
PEARL™ portable reading solution
SAPPHIRE® Handheld Video Magnifier
RUBY® Handheld Video Magnifier
SARA™ scanning and reading appliance
MAGic® screen magnification software

GW Micro: Window-Eyes, Notetakers, DAISY Readers, Braille Displays, Low Vision


Close-captioning software

Speech Recognition and Assistive Writing

Speech recognition is often considered as an assistive writing tool for people with learning disabilities such as:

Dyslexia-- a disability in which a person has trouble reading words, sentences, or paragraphs.

Dysgraphia-- a writing disability in which a person finds it hard to form letters correctly or write within a defined space.

Acapela Group: Text to speech solutions

Dexterity and Mobility

Applied Human Factors: screen keyboard computer access

Madentec Ltd.: New keyboards and joysticks

Origin Instruments: The HeadMouse Extreme replaces the standard computer mouse for people who cannot use or have limited use of their hands.

Tobii Technology: Tobii Technology specializes in eye tracking and eye control. This technology makes it possible for computers to know exactly where users are looking.


Metroplex Voice Computing, Inc.: Speech-recognition mathematics

Browsealoud is designed to improve website accessibility for those who struggle to read content online. It works by reading website content aloud in a high quality, human-sounding voice at no cost to the end user and zero implementation for the web owner.

Language and Communication

ZYGO: The Optimist-MMX is usable like a laptop from the keyboard. It can easily convert to a touch-screen tablet. It's durable, drop and spill resistent, and will withstand the demands of every day use.

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