Category Archives: Assistive Technology

Reviews and ideas for using technology to meet the needs of students with all levels of abilities.

iPad Integration: Audio Recording Ideas

Voice Record Pro is an app I recently added to my own iPad to compare it to iRig Recorder, the app I had previously been recommending to teachers that who were interested in an app for simple voice recording.   Here are some screenshots from inside the app:
When you first open app you’ll see a list of your saved recordings and on the upper right the recording controls:


When you first choose the red “Record” button,  screen looks like this:


You can “Check Level” to make sure you’re getting a clean recording, then tap “Start” to actually begin recording and the screen shows a moving needle indicating recording:


Once you’re done and click “Stop”, you’re presented with a screen like this one where you can change the default file name from the date and time to whatever you’d like the file to be called:


iPad Training Video Tutorials: Basic Gestures

USD 113 is considering a large-scale deployment of iPads for teachers and students in the future.  No decisions are firm yet, but I’m starting to plan for the associated professional development that might be necessary for the project.  I’ve made a few screen cast and document camera videos that I hope might be useful.  I’m experimenting with both iTunes University for course development and Edmodo for something with a little more interaction.  I think it is important to give teachers lots of options for how they can get their professional development.  So I’m going to include in this blog post a few of my videos that I’ve put together…most definitely not professional, but rather just an attempt to share the little knowledge that I have.  I’ll do a few videos in this post and add others as I develop them later on.

This first video is shot under a simple document camera so that the user can see my fingers as I touch the screen.  This is a basic video for anyone who is just using an iPad for the first time, but it also has a few tips that my more experienced users have told me that they did not know until they viewed it!

This next video demonstrates the basics of grouping apps together sort of like the concept of files and folders on a traditional computer.  This can help keep your iPad organized and makes it easier to find the app you’re looking for.

This next video is shot a little differently.  Still I used Screencast-o-matic to capture and store the video, but I’m also making use of  a piece of software called Reflector which is allowing the iPad to “mirror” onto my PC computer as I capture its screen.  The topic is “Enabling and Using Guided Access.”  This feature on iPads with iOs6 or later allows an adult to “lock” a child into a specific app and put a passcode on so they cannot exit the app without the code.  Pretty handy if you want to allow your toddler to do something on your iPad or if you work with defiant students who automatically exit the app you want them to work on to play their favorite “reward” app instead.

This final video in today’s post is a screencast demo showing how to limit your Google search results to just apps when you’re looking for a way to find specific resources! I think this will be a pretty useful time-saver as our teachers start to review apps they may want to recommend for purchase.




Reviewing the WizCom ReadingPen: Assistive Technology for Students Needing Read Aloud Support

Wizcom Reading PenWizCom Reading Pen

Step One: Scan the word or line of text you'd like to hear read aloud.

I recently had the opportunity to “borrow” a ReadingPen from WizCom to see how it might be helpful to students in our district who need read aloud support.  I’ve only had it for a little over 12 hours, but I’m excited to think about the ways it could offer some students a higher level of independence!  This post has a series of three photos showing the basic functions of the way the pen works.

The concept is a simple one:  the pen is a hand-held scanner with built in text to speech capabilities and a built-in dictionary and thesaurus.  In this first picture you see the pen being used to scan a line of text out of a book.  The pen can be used to scan a single word or a complete line of text.  Settings make it able to be used by both left and right-handed users.  It can scan left to right or right to left.  (Don’t ask me how this works, but I tried it and I was impressed.  I scanned a whole line from right to left and the pen read it back to me right to left!)

Reading Pen Displaying a Single Word

Any single word from the scanned text can be selected so that it can be looked up in the built-in dictionary.

After a short “processing” time of a few seconds, the pen will begin to read aloud to the user the word or entire line that it scanned.  The text to speech quality, while not perfect, is comparable to most computer-generated voices.  The pronunciations are generally accurate, though the inflections of words for reading of whole lines of text is sometimes not accurate.  This would mean that the tool is probably NOT going to be useful to help demonstrate fluency to readers who need this emphasis.  The user can go further into the tool if the word is not a familiar one, by selecting the dictionary definition of the word to display on screen and having it read aloud as well.

Reading Pen Dictionary

The on-screen dictionary displays the definition of the selected word and can read it aloud!

The pen also is equipped with ports to receive earbuds or headphones if the user wants the text to speech to come through only for the user instead of out loud through its built-in speaker.  This would be important because it would mean a user could use the ReadingPen right in the classroom with the rest of their classmates if read-aloud support is the only accomodation that the student requires.  No more being taken from the classroom to have a test read aloud, no more being singled out to sit with a para at a separate table in the back of the room.  I see great potential for confidence and independence growth for many students because of this tool!

OK…a few details about the product:  Manufactured by the WizCom company.  You can see their website here.  The product I reviewed was the ReadingPen 2 which sells for a base price of about $230, but is on sale on their website now for about $184.  The company was good to work with to send me a trial pen to see how it might meet the needs of our kids, too.