Friday, March 26, 2010

AT Expo

I have had the wonderful experience of being able to be involved with the planning of the 7th annual Assistive Technology Expo in Fargo, ND. The Expo was started by a group of people who wanted to get the word out to North Dakota, Minnesota, and South Dakota residents that there is, in fact, Assistive Technology available in our area. They have experienced great success with over 500 people attending last year.

There will be approximately 60 vendors, all showing assistive technology that is available in our area. There will educational sessions in the morning, a luncheon with the Metro Area Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities Awards Banquet, vendor booths, and support groups meeting in the afternoon. There will also be a concurrent self advocacy workshop.

The exhibit booths are free and open to the public. They will be open from 11am-6pm. The morning educational sessions qualify for Continuing Education Units. There is also a free orthopedic screening from the Shriner's.

I must also mention that there is a pre-conference workshop. This workshop however, has filled up! Mark Coppin of the Anne Carlsen Center is presenting on the iPod Touch as an Assistive Technology Tool. You can see why this is in popular demand!

The expo is held on April 15th, 2010 at the Ramada Plaza Suites in Fargo, ND. You can find out more information at: I look forward to seeing you there!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

LiveScribe Pulse Smart Pens

Have you heard the buzz about the new LiveScribe pens? They record audio while taking notes. The pen has an infrared camera that reads a special dot pattern on the paper. The pen matches the audio recording to the notes that are being taken. When the lecture/meeting/presentation is over, tap the notes to hear it again! Tap anywhere on the notes, and the pen remembers the audio from the spot. Check out the video at you have to see it to believe it!

These pens are a great assistive technology tool. Not only are they readily available (sold at Target and Best Buy), but they are reasonable priced. The 2GB model starts at about $150. The 2GB model holds 200 hours of recording time, and the 4GB model holds 400 hours of recording time. The notebooks cost about $7 each. The pen does require the specialized paper to work, however, the paper can be downloaded and printed from the website.

Besides the obvious use of eliminating a scribe for students, we are using these pens for students who need the accommodation of having tests read to them. Simply tear out a sheet of notebook paper, and run it through the printer to print the test on it. Before the scheduled test, use the pen to record the test for the student. The student sits in class with the pen and the headphones plugged in. The test is read to the student with out having to leave the class. The student can even increase or decrease the playback speed, so the question is read at a speed that he or she can easily follow. How wonderful is that?!

I have also seen examples of the pen being used for students as a communication device. Boardmaker symbols are printed onto the paper, and a teacher records the messages. The student uses the pen to tap the picture, and it is spoken.

I want to know, where were these pens when I was in college? Disability services at some colleges are switching from carbon copy notebooks to these pens, eliminating note takers for students! Hooray for independence!