17 March 2008

CSUN 2008/Free Universal Design

Adobe Acrobat Reader with Speech (v. 8.x): If this is not installed, get it installed. It allows most Acrobat docs to be read at loud with variable speed and pitch. FREE

Microsoft Reader with Text-To-Speech engine and Read in Microsoft Reader
(RMR) add-ons: This is a slightly complicated install – must be done through Internet Explorer – requires three or four (with the dictionary) steps. But it reads to your students, allows them to highlight and take notes, and even has dictionaries – and can handle English, Spanish, French, and more). FREE
http://www.microsoft.com/reader/downloads/pc.asp (laptop/desktop PC)
http://www.microsoft.com/reader/downloads/tablet.asp (tablet PC, with "write notes in the margins!")
http://www.microsoft.com/reader/developers/downloads/tts.asp (Text-To-Speech)
http://www.microsoft.com/reader/developers/downloads/rmr.asp (RMR, creates one-click conversions from Microsoft Word)http://www.microsoft.com/reader/downloads/dictionaries.asp (Dictionaries)

NaturalReader Free Version:
A simple, highly-effective screen-reader (it reads selected text in most programs). Best used via the "Miniboard" option which puts a tiny control panel on your desktop. FREE

Firefox Browser v2 with CLiCk, Speak Text-To-Speech (Dyslexia)
: Firefox is the far more accessible web browser, and when linked to the CLiCk-Speak text-to-speech add-on, it reads to you via a simple three-button set-up in your toolbar. You can also install one-click dictionaries, and right-click translations. FREE
Install Firefox
Install CLiCk, Speak
Install gTranslate
Dictionary Installs

and or
Firefox Browser v2 with FireVox Text-To-Speech (Blind/Low-Vision): Firefox is the far more accessible web browser, and when linked to the FireVox TTS engine, it reads to you. You can also install dictionaries, and right-click translations. FREE
Install Firefox
Install FireVox
Install gTranslate
Dictionary Installs

Ghotit – the dyslexic’s spellcheck: A website with a context-based spellcheck system that (a) does not require you to “be close” to suggest the correct spelling, and (b) gives you definitions of the alternative words suggested. A brilliant step forward for those who often get little or no help from the spellcheck in Microsoft products. FREE

SpokenText - free online text to mp3 converter: Make it a sound file! And now that information is completely portable - via computer, iPod, phone, CD. FREE

Google Notebook: The simplest of research tools, allows students to grab online data, organize it, and share it – from Google Labs. FREE
http://labs.google.com/ (the install is down in the left column)

Google Docs and Spreadsheets: Sharable (within the room or worldwide), free, word-processing and spreadsheets. This changes everything. FREE
http://www.google.com/google-d-s/tour1.html (a tour with get started links)

Google Calendar: Share calendars with your students and keep them on task. This sophisticated system can even send reminder text-messages to the student's mobile phone (if your school is smart enough to allow mobile phone use). FREE

Google Earth: If you are not using this tool you are missing a key tool for almost every subject, from Geography to Math to Creative Writing. FREE

Graph-Calc – the on-screen graphing calculator: Even allows you to paste equations into notes in a word processing program. FREE

Click-N-Type – the on-screen, programmable keyboard: That even shows upper and lower case letter to struggling writers and runs in dozens of languages. FREE

SENSwitcher – the simplest switch program: With great support for high-needs students. FREE http://www.northerngrid.org/sen/Menu-L.htm

Google Maps: In whatever language you please… (a simpler, no need to install anything, global place finder). FREE

http://maps.google.com/ (US) http://maps.google.co.uk/ (Britain/Ireland)

http://maps.google.de/ (German) http://maps.google.fr/ (French)

http://maps.google.es/ (Spanish) http://maps.google.co.jp/ (Japanese)

Wayfaring – map-making software: Let students build simple geography and history projects with this wonderful "map mash up" software. FREE
(My "Naming the World" map, as an example)

IBM Lotus Symphony – stop paying for Microsoft Office: Save that IT budget for the things that can’t be duplicated for free. Lotus Symphony is an easier-to-use version of Open Office, downloadable from IBM, and entirely free. And it is far, far easier to use than Word2007, but completely compatible. The suite includes a Word Processor, a Spreadsheet (like Excel), and presentation software (like PowerPoint) FREE.

- Ira Socol

The Drool Room by Ira David Socol, a novel in stories that has - as at least one focus - life within "Special Education in America" - is now available from the River Foyle Press through lulu.com

US $16.00 on Amazon

US $16.00 direct via lulu.com

Look Inside This Book


Paul Hamilton said...

Hello again Ira. Another great post with links to some of the best free resources to support learning for all! You and I are clearly on the same page because these are exactly the kinds of tools that I try to promote.

In my comment on your previous post, I don't think I made clear exactly what WordTalk does. It does not create mp3 files. It does turn Microsoft Word into a talking word processor. It will read aloud any document open in Word, and it provides auditory feedback to anyone writing with Word. Perhaps best of all, it includes a talking spell checker.

Please take WordTalk for a test drive. I'm convinced that it is one of the best available free tools to help all learners, especially those who face challenges in reading and/or writing. I only wish it were also available on the Mac platform.

narrator said...

Thanks again Paul. And yes, I will take WordTalk for a test drive. Anything that gets media choice easily available is something we need to use. (and I wish many things worked on Macs - beautiful computers - not always the most accessible - which should effect school purchase decisions more than it does)