I’ll add to and update information on this page as soon as I know of any useful links. If you see something that I’ve missed – let me know.
Delighted to be updating this post today after returning to Claro in the first time for a couple of months. On a visit to a local secondary school today we were discussing tools for predictive text and I checked this over before referencing it. I was quite critical of the prediction offering in my original post- it simply didn’t work!! – but it does now.
If you’re needing to offer your students simple, free text to speech to support their reading of web pages or PDFs – or any other digital text for that matter – ClaroRead is a really good tool. It’s unobtrusive, and, once it’s set up for your student, it doesn’t require much attention.
You can download the extension from the Chrome Web Store and once installed this icon will show at the top of your screen.
Clicking it will open the discreet Control Panel which allow you to configure the tool to suit yourself or your student.
e.g. If you tick the settings like this your student can simply highlight text to hear it read aloud.
Experiment with the settings to suit your user – e.g. switching on Click and play will change the control panel accordingly. Watch a demo video here.
Using ClaroRead text to speech to support writing.
e.g. Students can also hear what they’re writing as they type.
As mentioned above the prediction window is now functioning well. It’s not a full-feature predictor but it’s good for core vocabulary in everyday, general writing.
You can switch on Prediction from here….
There’s also a full Help Guide to making use of the extension here.
| Today plasq announced the official release of Comic Life 3 for Chromebook! The app is now available in the form of a compatible Android app.|
Comic Life 3 for Chromebook has all the favourite features you have come to love from the other versions. To find out more, please check out the dedicated Comic Life 3 for Chromebook site.
Comic Life 3 is available from the Google Play store and requires a relatively recent Chromebook to function. (If you’ve installed Android apps on your Chromebook you’re ready for Comic Life).
Comic Life 3 on Chromebooks is US$2.49 and can be purchased and downloaded from the Google Play Store here.
WordQ for Chrome from Quillsoft is a great tool for helping struggling writers. This app (deliberately not an extension) is robust, works offline, and integrates well with Google Drive. It’s the best low-cost solution we’ve come across during our extensive sweep of available tools.
Good prediction software allows the user to augment the core lexicon with personal and/or topic vocabulary.
The WordQ text editor is clean, and easy to use without over-complicating matters for users.
Features and facilities are all useful and easy to access.
Highland schools can contact the Assistive Technology Support Service (ATSS) for a demonstration or a trial of the software.
Here’s another option on another platform in the AAC market.
Despite iPads being touchscreen devices and having switch access built in, they remain inaccessible to many for a wide range of reasons.
The new Sidekick device from Ablenet promises access via mouse/joystick devices which should bring usage within the scope of many more users.
Webpages can be very messy places to read from: broken or wandering text – often split at odd paces to accommodate a picture or advert, font sizes that are too small and shapes not really considerate to those with reading difficulties.
The Safari browser for Mac/iPad/iPhone has had Reader View built in for quite some time allowing users to strip the extraneous stuff out of the page leaving clean, plain text which can also be sized and have its font and background settings changed.
There’s an extension for Google Chrome that does, virtually, the same thing – it’s called Reader View and you can download it/install it to your Chrome browser here.
The extension looks like this when your browser is on most front/home pages that are links rather than text-based articles.
The extension icon changes when Reader View is available (text-based articles).
When the icon is clicked the page will change from a standard page to a clear, stripped down Reader View with font size, shape, and background colour/themes available down the right-hand side of the page.
This is the type of extension that should be made available for all pupils who have dyslexia, visual impairments, or any difficulty with reading that might be helped by seeing cleaner, clearer, more appropriately sized text. Using text-to-speech support software is also often easier to utilise with text that is spaced out in this way.
Our friends at CALL Scotland, Sally Millar and Gillian McNeill in particular, have produced another fantastically well-considered and well-designed app wheel: this time for apps that support the development of, or the full-blown use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).
The BBC have created an easy-to-use configuration tool that allows you to view all of its web content in a format that suits you.
MyDisplay offers a number of preset page themes suited to a wide range of potential users via an easy to use menu page. The ability to create your own custom theme is also available.
Although this is only a trial at the moment, I believe that this tool will become a fixture that will help many people gain better access to the web.
This level of accessibility raises the bar for other web developers – particularly those that espouse inclusion. I would like to see Glow Futures incorporate this level of support for the learners in our schools.
I dabbled with Geocaching when it started to become popular a few years ago but time, the arrival of the children, and a variety of other intervening factors meant I never really ‘got into it’. However, when I bought a GPS enabled phone (iPhone 3G) last year I decided to revisit the sport/activity/game. I’m always out jogging or cycling with the kids, walking in the woods and hills that surround where we live so it seemed an obvious additional facet to our trips out.
I was directed to a blog today via Ollie Bray that detailed how Clackmannan Primary School embedded the use of GPS into an Eco Project they were involved in and I thought it was about time I put something up here to try to stimulate some local participation in this fun, inclusive activity.
So – what is it and what do you need to get started? Watch the 2 minute video to get an overview.
I can envisage geocaching being an excellent opportunity for teachers and pupils to take part in a healthy, outdoor pursuit while engaging in cross-curricular activities that would give rise, quite naturally, to team work, problem solving, and creativity. Pupils could, for example, learn more about their local environment through geocaching and go on to develop a deeper knowledge to enable them to plan, prepare, describe, and lay their own caches. Success is not all tied up in an ability to read and write so it offers wonderful opportunities for those who have differing learning styles.
GPS devices start around £60 Have a look here and here (thanks Iain Hallihan) although for a bit more (if you hunt around) you can get something a bit better in terms of facilities and robustness. Remember, though, there’s a good chance your phone has GPS facilities that are more than enough to get started.