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

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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.

irasocol 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)