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iPad Curriculum for Students with Visual Impairments

Robert Miller of the Oklahoma School for the Blind Assistive Technology Lab has written an in-depth curriculum for using the iPad with VoiceOver, Zoom and Refreshable Braille Displays. The curriculum will guide you and your student step by step through setting the accessibility features up to teaching specific gestures and commands needed to use the iPad with VoiceOver and Zoom.  As with any shared curriculum, please give credit to the author or authors when distributing the curriculum.  Robert asks for any feedback to help him improve his curriculum. Three versions of the curriculum can be found on the Oklahoma School for the Blind website.  
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446 Places for Free Books Online

From the ever interesting Gizmo website comes a link to this list. It looks amazing and might be something you can share with fellow teachers and students. Gizmo's Freeware
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Saving Internet Pages as EPUB Files

This is a wonderful resource, which allows your student to save a webpage as an individual EPUB file. What is an EPUB?  ".epub" is an electronic book format that has become the industry standard, allowing eBooks that use this format to be read on a wide variety of eReaders, from dedicated hardware to desktop software to online based readers. EPUB files can be read in most portable ebook readers, such as Sony, Ipad, Kobo, etc. For the purposes of this post I will describe how to open your EPUB files in iBooks on the iPad. First, some information from the dotEPUB website: "dotEPUB is software in the cloud that allows you to convert any webpage into an ebook. For content consumers (readers), we have developed a bookmarklet (or favlet) for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari or Opera. And, if you are a Google Chrome user, you can install the dotEPUB extension in your browser." On the dotEPUB website I located and activated the...
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Free Braille Books

From the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults website: In 1997 the AAF (American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults) started this program to provide blind children a free Braille book every month from a popular children's reading series. The books are for the children to keep and collect for as long as they want them. The titles published every month are the same titles that are available in bookstores and public libraries everywhere. In the past ten years over one hundred seventy titles from popular children’s reading series were distributed to thousands of blind children. As we send the 2012 titles out each month, the corresponding BRF files will be available here. You will be able to download your free Braille books electronically by right clicking on the file or using the applications key to choose "Save Target As" in Internet Explorer or "Save Link As" in Mozilla Firefox.
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Tutorials on iAppleTalker Youtube Channel

The information presented on the iAppleTalker Youtube channel consist of technology videos, mainly centered around Apple & Apple products. The tutorials are centered around using the Apple products with VoiceOver the built-in screen reading software. A good resource for learning how to use technology from someone with a visual impairment.
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Standard Keyboard Shortcuts for Various Applications

ShortcutWorld is an open, wiki-style reference database for keyboard shortcuts. created and edited by users like You. Using Keyboard Shortcuts on a daily basis is the epitome of all productivity techniques. With this project, we are building an open Hotkey Reference Database with the goal to cover as many Applications on as many Platforms and in as many Languages as possible. 
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Using Audacity with JAWS

Audacity is a free, easy-to-use and multilingual audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. You can use Audacity to: Record live audio. Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs. Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files. Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together. Change the speed or pitch of a recording. Many teachers are using Audacity to create audio files for students to use in the classroom yet there are very few students creating audio files themselves. The students can now create their own audio files using a website with detailed instructions on how to create audio files using Audacity with JAWS. The instructions were written by David Bailes and can be found on the  Jaws Guides page of the VIP Software Guides website.
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Word 2010 with Windows 7

Tactile graphic production using MS Word presents several speed bumps along the way since Word 2000.  The latest one involves Windows 7 and Word 2010.  Here’s the scoop.  In Word 2010, the Select tool in the Edit category on the Home tab is used to select several objects for grouping by dragging with the tool across the objects to group.  This feature tool works just fine using Word 2010 with Windows XP. Now try using Word 2010 with Windows 7, the same process produces different results.  The select arrow does nothing.  After pulling hair out for a couple of days and reading several listings from groups, the solution finally appeared. When using Word 2010 with Windows 7, you first save the document as a .doc NOT .docx, which is the default save and the default document type before saving. By doing this the process described above produces the expected results. What a...
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Learning Ally Audiobook Manager

For everyone, myself included, who has tried and failed to download and transfer books from Learning Ally there are now tutorials on their website to help. The tutorials cover online bookshelf, audiobook manager and legacy audiobook manager. The tutorials are in audio podcast and text format. Learning Ally. Have a look and finally figure out how to load that book on your device or computer. Sharon Nichols Outreach Assistive Technology Consultant
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iPad for children with MIVI

The following iPad apps were chosen for a workshop with DARS Center for Learning Management. DARS is an acronym for Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. The iPad accessibility features were demonstrated as well. The workshop covered working with children who have multiple disabilities, so the apps reflect their needs. For apps specific to visually impaired users, please reference these two websites: AppleVis (www.applevis.com) and Apps for the Visually Impaired (http://appadvice.com/applists/show/apps-for-the-visually-impaired). The websites and apps listed are not the only websites or apps to explore, they are just the ones chosen for the specific workshop. Apps List I Love Fireworks and Fireworks Arcade - You can touch the screen to trigger the fireworks to go off, you can drag your finger on the screen to have the firework trail up into the sky in whatever pattern you'd like, and the longer you hold your finger on the touch screen, the bigger the firework....
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Braille Production with MacOS

Many school districts are switching to MacOS for various reasons, particularly around the issue of virus protection.  The problem for us in the field of visual impairments is that much of the accessibility software is PC (Windows OS) based, especially when it comes to embossing and braille production.  There is an emulation software called VMware Fusion which is now in its 4th edition so it can work with MacOS 10.7 (Lion). Emulating software (according to Wikipedia)  duplicates (or emulates) the functions of a first computer system in a different second computer system, so that the behavior of the second system closely resembles the behavior of the first system.  In this case, the MacOS can now run Windows XP or 7  as a separate application.  Windows-based applications are now able to almost run in the same way as they do on a PC computer.  The emphasis is on “almost”.  There are some...
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OATS (Open Source Assistive Technology Software)

There is a website called OATS which stands for Open Source Assistive Technology Software.  The address: Oats Software (http://www.oatsoft.org/Software/browse/Repository/Function) will take you directly to their software repository.  This page contains a list of open source software categories that are all related to assistive technology applications.  There are a few applications geared towards persons with visual impairments.  Although these applications were extensively tested, be sure to run a virus protection scan as they are open-source software. Pat Van Geem Assistive Technology Consultant TSBVI Outreach Department
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Two Useful Assistive Technology Websites

Found some websites that might be of interest to all of us in the field of visual impairment using assistive technology.  Thought I might share them.   Google Products Accessibility Features Google has an accessibility web page that explains some of their products’ accessibility features for users with visual impairments.  Some of the Google applications are: Chrome, Android, Gmail, Docs, Calendar, eBooks and Google Voice.   The accessibility features these applications offer are: low vision settings, shortcut key commands, syncing with Outlook, and screen reading.  Included also are accessibility features for users with hearing impairments. Google Accessibility (http://www.google.com/accessibility/products/#blind-low-vision)   Tech Vision Blog There is a blog called Tech Vision by a Denise Robinson, Ph.D., TVI, that contains a wide range of assistive technology information.  It is a remarkable source for all type topics ranging from Duxbury to IPads.  Please take a gander at the listed (according to months and years) on the left sidebar. ...
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Federal Communication Commission Launches Accessibility Clearinghouse

The Federal Communications Commission has launched its accessibility clearinghouse in an effort to connect more consumers (including children and young adults) to accessible telecommunication options. Accessible Clearinghouse Also quickly, this is a great site that is linked on the FCC’s page for helping consumers and their families find accessible wireless options. Accesswireless website As all children and young adults use mobile technologies as a part of their daily lives, it is critical that our students with visual impairments and deafblindness have options. So glad that the FCC is taking a strong leadership role in helping people with disabilities have access. Please share! Amy T. Parker, Ed.D., C.I. & COMS Research Assistant Professor Virginia Murray Sowell Center 806-742-1997 X 248 office
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Free Digital Textbooks on Windows 7 using JAWS or WindowEyes

Access Technology Institute are offering two free digital textbooks.  Both books are tutorials on Windows 7 using either JAWS or WindowEyes.  The books are downloadable as .zip files.  When extracting the files, five file formats are available: Word 2007(.docx), plain text (.txt), DAISY, .html, and individual MP3 files.  These are rich resources for students or TVIs who now can access these files using various software and/or devices, such as DAISY playback devices/applications, braille notetakers, or computers.   Cathy Ann Murtha, author of the textbooks, structures her tutorials in a way that makes it easy and pleasant to learn. The same structure could be used to teach students access software applications.  Please take advantage of this free offering.  The website address is:  blindtraining.com.   Pat Van Geem Assistive Technology Consultant
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Technology Decision Making Tool - AIM Navigator

The AIM Navigator is an accessible, web-based tool designed to help local educational teams think through decisions about accessible instructional materials for students.   It has sections to address assessing student need, determining appropriate instructional formats, decisions on purchase/acquisition of appropriate formats, and related training/supports to support student progress.  There are many helpful sections with in depth information available to help with each step in the process, and the Navigator generates a student summary that can follow a student across their years of schooling as well as a To Do list documenting next steps for the team.  This FREE tool is found on the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials website at AIM Navigator. Outreach Director Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
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Braille Institute IPhone/IPad App for Vision Simulations

At the recent SWOMA Conference a teacher shared a great app from the Braille Institute that show vision simulations.  Vision simulations are nothing new, but this one let you point your camera on your phone or IPad and see a vision simulation of a real-time scene.  Using touch-screen controls, the user can select one of the four simulators to replicate the symptoms of that particular disease. The application uses the device camera to allow the user to see the world through digital filters simulating the symptoms and experience of the disease. Using sliding touch-screen controls, the user can manipulate the severity of the symptoms. The real-time still images can be saved by the camera and stored for later review in the image gallery, or to be shared. Check out this free app at the Braille Institute. Kate Hurst Statewide Staff Development Coordinator Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
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Voiceover How-To Resources

While this website has more than VoiceOver screen reader for the Mac and iOS, tutorials it also contains other computer information. I just wanted to point it out as an excellent resource with tutorials for VoiceOver. The site's name is Tech-Ease. Another good site for VoiceOver with iOS is AXS Lab maintained by Daniel Göransson.
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Resource for Working on Listening Skills

This website is actually designed for ESL students, but can be used with a variety of students working on listening skills. Often students are listed as auditory learners but have not worked on developing their listening skills, so this website might offer one resource.  http://www.esl-lab.com/
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The Accessibility of Four Types of Electronic Documents

Accessibility of electronic files as supplements for online courses or lessons is an important issue for students with disabilities.  General education teachers, who actually do most of the electronic production for students, do not seem to understand the accessibility issues of these documents.  If a document is not made accessible, the user with disabilities can experience difficulties in: document navigation, clarity of content, searching for specific information, and user fatigue due to the complex document layout.  There are four major types of electronic files that are used for online or off line lessons. The Four Types of Electronic Documents Electronic documents are used for various reasons, such as: activities, reference material, supplemental information, worksheets, and other assignments.  Students get the documents through email, by downloading them from learning management systems or through a file sharing system. Depending on the author, accessibility of these files can vary greatly.  The electronic documents...
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