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Assistive Technology

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starBridges4kids Featured Resource: Books Aloudstar

Books Aloud is an independent nonprofit organization located in San Jose, CA. Books Aloud tapes can be mailed anywhere within the United States. There is no charge for our services. We provide free audio book library services (via U.S. mail) for people who are unable to read printed books on their own, due to a physical, visual, or a learning disability. We try to make sure that we have "required reading" (core curriculum) books. Through our growing Sight & Sound program, we can often -- but, not always -- lend the printed book along with the audio book. Blind, visually impaired, learning or physically disabled individuals who are unable to read conventional print, hold a book, or turn the pages are eligible.


Michigan Alliance for Families has teamed up with Michigan Integrated Technology Supports to produce a parent/educator friendly AT guide.


Computer and Software Accessibility for the Disabled


Next Generation Wheelchair Lets Users Stand Up - Developed in Turkey, the Tek device allows paraplegics - those without the use of their legs - to perform everyday tasks from shopping in the supermarket to ironing with ease.


Creature Comforts: Assistance Animals Now Come in All Shapes and Species - What’s most striking about Ann Edie and her miniature guide horse, Panda, is that after the initial shock of seeing a horse walk into a cafe, or ride in a car, watching them work together makes the idea of guide miniature horses seem utterly logical. Even normal. So normal, in fact, that people often find it hard to believe that the United States government is considering a proposal that would force Edie and many others like her to stop using their service animals.


Software That Opens Worlds to the Disabled - One computer program would allow vision-impaired shoppers to point their cellphones at supermarket shelves and hear descriptions of products and prices. Another would allow a physically disabled person to guide a computer mouse using brain waves and eye movements.


Assistive Technology Fact Sheets - New fact sheets from the Family Center on Technology and Disability, include an AT Glossary, Assistive Technology 101, Assistive Technology and the IEP, and Assistive Technology Laws.


Rental Robotic Suit Helps Disabled Walk - A robotic suit that reads brain signals and helps people with mobility problems became available this week to rent in Japan for 220,000 ($2,100 U.S.) a month — an invention that may have far-reaching benefits for the disabled and elderly.

AAC TechConnect - "Simplifying augmentative communication evaluations with one-of-a-kind toolkits, online resources, and workshops." Free product search and information available on site.


People w/Disabilities Gaining Independence Through Video Games - Today’s video games serve a multitude of functions ranging from entertainment to exercise and even education. Now, three graduates from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Class of 2008 have created a game with an even more important purpose—to foster independence among disabled individuals.


Microsoft Improves Word for the Blind - Microsoft has joined with Sonata Software Ltd. and the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) Consortium to launch an initiative to make Word documents more accessible to blind and print-disabled users. - "As parents, we are motivated to provide our children with the best opportunities for play and learning. As a parent of a child with multiple disabilities, I have selected products for my child that allow her to fit in with her peers at school and around the neighborhood. We feature those same products on our website."


Iowa School District Pioneers iPods for Special-Ed Testing - Sandwiched between two of Iowa's more rural counties, the Louisa-Muscatine Community School District and its centralized campus, nuzzling Highway 61 and currently barren crop fields, may not seem like the type of educational facility that would gain international notice for technological advances. Looks, however, can be deceiving.


Undergraduates Invent Braille Writing Tool - A group of U.S. undergraduate students has created a lightweight, portable Braille writing tool for the blind that requires no electronic components. The invention was born in a Johns Hopkins University class called the Engineering Design Project. Four mechanical engineering undergraduates were asked to produce an instrument that would cost less than $50 a copy.


Robots Help Sick Kids Stay In School - Lying in his hospital room on a mattress designed to protect his fragile skin, 13-year-old Achim Nurse poked his bandaged fingers at an orange button on what looked like a souped-up video game console. Half a second later, in a social studies class discussing the Erie Canal, a 5-foot-tall, steel-blue robot raised its hand. "You have a question, Achim?" said the teacher. Achim is using a pair of robots — one, called "Mr. Spike," at his bedside, and its mate, "Mrs. Candy," in the classroom — to keep up with his schoolwork and his friends during the months he will be bedridden at Blythedale Children's Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y., just north of New York City.

Axistive - Assistive Technology News Portal


Thinkronize Introduces netTrekker d.i. with Innovative Text-to-Speech Support - netTrekker d.i., and internet search engine, takes differentiated instruction to the next level with new Read Aloud feature to support special needs learners.

Device Brings High-tech to Disabled Students - Britt Allen is an ace when it comes to zapping aliens - with his eyes. He may not have laser-beam sight like Superman, but just one glance sends the intruders to oblivion. On Monday, the 24-year-old - whose cerebral palsy has him in a wheelchair and inhibits his speech - shot down video-game aliens with perfection as he demonstrated a new eye-based technology to faculty at Oakridge School.


MI Assistive Technology Contacts by Region in Michigan


Wheelchair Bike is Star of Show - A new British-made motorcycle for wheelchair users was the start of this year's Mobility Roadshow in the UK.


MI Michigan Laptop Program Shows Early Success - Supporters of Michigan's one-to-one computing project are citing marked improvements in standardized test scores in reading, writing, science, and math as reasons to restore funding to the program. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, had eliminated most of the program's funding from the budget she proposed to state law makers.


Computer Aids for Special Needs Children - Because computers today are made to be “user friendly”, kids generally master the skills necessary to use them quite easily. Children with learning differences, hearing or visual impairments, developmental delays or physical challenges might have some difficulties---but they can be overcome by using a few adaptive aids.


Skills for Access: Resources on Accessible Multimedia - "The aim of the project is simple - to create an online resource providing informed, practical and pragmatic advice and information on multimedia, accessibility and learning. This is supported by a series of general articles by experts in the field and case studies documenting real life experiences in creating multimedia to enhance the accessibility of e-learning."


Americans With Disabilities Dealt Blow by President's Budget - Millions of Americans with Disabilities were dealt a huge blow yesterday with the release of the President’s FY 2006 Budget. The blow was especially painful because it was just last October when the disability community was celebrating Bush’s signing into law the Assistive Technology Act of 2004.


Interesting Innovation: iAbida - iAbida is a company specializing in individual communication management, was founded in 2004 by a team of software veterans and the parents of an autistic son. They have developed a web-based service that lets parents, caregivers, teachers, and medical/service professionals, communicate with each other regarding a child’s care and needs. The service costs $9.95 per month. For a demonstration of how it works, visit


Assistive Technology Bill Headed to President for Signature - The full U.S. House of Representatives passed the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 on October 8, 2004, sending it to President Bush for his signature. The Assistive Technology Act primarily funds state programs that provide assistive technology (AT) devices and services to individuals with disabilities.


AZ Special-ed Pupils Learn Via High-tech Inspiration - Severely learning disabled children at Desert Mirage Elementary School in Glendale, Arizona are using technology this school year and making great educational gains beyond what teachers and parents predicted, even hoped.


Camp: Disabled Youths Learn to Use Devices That Help Them Speak With Others - For 12-year-old Zachary Bryant of Hampstead, attending summer camp is about more than having fun. He is learning to master a device that helps him do something most children take for granted: communicate.


He’s Driven to Help Others - As a child growing up in Michigan, Gary Talbot used to sit on the curb in front of his house and, without looking, try to guess the models of passing cars by the sounds of their exhausts. Talbot’s childhood dream was to open a car dealership, and he eventually became a Honda specialist in the mountains of Colorado.

Family Center on Technology and Disability

The Center serves as a resource for organizations and programs that work with families of children and youth with disabilities. We offer a range of information and services on the subject of assistive technology (AT).  For more information, contact:
Academy for Educational Development
Family Center on Technology and Disability
1825 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Phone: 202-884-8068


Web Opens Up for Learning Disabled - New software that will make websites accessible to people with learning difficulties will go on sale later this year.


MI Students, Teachers, Give Laptop Program High Marks - As state officials prepared to sift through applications for the 2004 Freedom to Learn grants, House Speaker Rick Johnson, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Watkins and Michigan Virtual University President David Spencer announced that those involved with the pilot of the program would push for its continuation.


Designing Your Project to Be Accessible to All Participants - Free tool for creating access to programs for you and your members. DO-IT's new publication, Equal Access: Designing Your Project to Be Accessible to All Participants, is designed to help projects make their information resources and activities accessible to everyone, including individuals with disabilities.

BLIND VISION Technology Update
BLIND VISION and POBC of Michigan, January 09, 2004
Since the year 2000, the American Foundation for the Blind has published "Accessworld," a publication designed to provide latest assistive technology news and reviews related to blind and visually impaired individuals. Until now, however, "Accessworld" has been a bimonthly, subscription-based magazine. Starting with the January 2004 issue (Vol 5. No. 1), "accessworld" is available free of charge on AFB's web site at The easiest web address to use to get to the initial Access World "home" page is which lets you also access back issues. The January issue presents an extensive section on DAISY books and the current efforts to bring DAISY into the mainstream disability community in the United States. The table of contents for the issue can be found at


What is Facilitated communication (FC)? A technique used to help some persons with limited or no speech to communicate by typing or pointing. A facilitator provides both physical and emotional support. The physical support functions as an accommodation for neuro-motor problems that may interfere with independent pointing, which, over time, is usually faded. Some users eventually communicate without any physical contact with their facilitator. (University of Maine, U.A.P., 1995)

Facilitated Communication Institute - Facilitated communication is an alternative means of expression for people who cannot speak, or whose speech is highly limited (e.g. echoed, limited to one or a few word utterances), and who cannot point reliably. The method has been used as a means to communicate for individuals with severe disabilities, including persons with labels of mental retardation, autism, Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. Established at Syracuse University in 1992, the Facilitated Communication Institute conducts research, public education, training and scholarly seminars. It was created as a way of bringing together the research community, people with disabilities, their families, and practicing professionals to examine, learn about, and share information on facilitated communication.


Mind Control Over Motorized Wheelchairs - A neural system that "reads" minds may some day let severely disabled people use their thoughts to steer a motorized wheelchair. Unlike previous devices of this sort, this system does not require surgical implants. It utilizes a skullcap fitted with electrodes that monitor the electrical activity of a person's brain, says a recent story in New Scientist.


Computing With Kids: Top Edutainment Titles Combine Learning, Fun - After testing hundreds of new titles this year, here's our "Best Picks for the Holidays" in the category of children's "edutainment" titles. Edutainment software combines entertainment and learning.


Michigan's Assistive Technology Project - Provides information on the Grass Root Education and Empowerment Network, Assistive Technology News, Local Projects & Coalitions, Assistive Technology and Cognitive Disabilities, Resources, and  more.  Our mission is "To create greater access to assistive technology by building the capacity of local communities to create genuine systems change. By supporting the local efforts of persons with disabilities, their families, and friends, Michigan's AT Project seeks to support local organizations capable of advocating for the use of technology as a tool for advocacy and inclusion of all people with disabilities in all aspects of community life."


WGBH's Media Access Group Launches Spanish Web Site for Individuals with Hearing and Visual Disabilities - Media Access Group Also Providing Spanish Captioning for 60 Minutes and 60 Minutes II. (10-03)


Why Computers Have Not Saved the Classroom - What impact has computer technology had on public education in the US? That's the question journalist Todd Oppenheimer sets out to answer. His conclusion: Putting computers in classrooms has been almost entirely wasteful, and the rush to keep schools up-to-date with the latest technology has been largely pointless.

Closed Captioning (CC) FAQ - What are closed captions? How does captioning work? Who watches closed captions? Who pays for captioning?  This informative FAQ contains answers to these questions and more.


Tech Spotlight: Global Positioning System (GPS) Locator For Children
Children have a natural urge to explore. Parents have a natural desire to know their children are safe.  Wherify created the world's first Personal Locator to help you determine your child's location in minutes. Wherify's GPS Locator helps keep loved ones safe by combining patented technology with the U.S. Department of Defense's multi-billion dollar Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites plus the largest 100% digital, nationwide PCS wireless network.  Now you can have peace of mind 24 hours a day. 


Technology transmits sense of touch over Web - Breakthrough by UB engineers could lead to technology that teaches users how surgeons use a scalpel.


Featured Website: Makoa disABILITY Information and Resources - "Makoa" is a Hawaiian word that means courageous.  This website provides a listing of disability information resources and information compiled and maintained by Jim Lubin, a C2 quadriplegic, completely paralyzed from the neck down and dependent on a ventilator to breathe, using an keyboard/mouse emulator with a sip and puff switch to type morse codes. He has an extensive listing of adaptive and assistive technology resources.


Ultimate Talking Dictionary - A true "talking dictionary" for everyone.  It has a comprehensive dictionary and thesaurus combined that contains over 250,000 words, as well as historical people, places, technical jargon and slang....virtually any word that you would see in standard reading.  The Ultimate Talking Dictionary works with any program (i.e. email, word processing, Internet).  Just highlight a word, press a button and the UTD looks up the word and reads the definition back to you!


Assistive Technology: Listen to, Magnify and Record Internet Web Pages - Opening up the web for many that have low vision and other reading challenges.

EASI: Equal Access to Software and Information Banner


Resource Website: Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI) is the Premiere Provider of Online Training on Accessible Information Technology for Persons with Disabilities


CAST: A not-for-profit organization that uses technology to expand opportunities for all people, especially those with disabilities.


Before You Consider Adaptive Technology: Options for One Hand Typing and Keyboarding - Those of us in rehabilitation therapy help children and adults with disabilities enhance their lives, increase their independence and productivity. Teaching keyboarding is one of the most basic, and useful skills needed to succeed in the workplace and in school. In addition, practicing the keyboard can help people regain or improve motor skills in their hands.


Read the article "Internet Means Possibilities, Frustration for Blind Surfers"

Computer Mouse Designed for Little Hands - Savvy woman sees a need & designs a better computer tool for children's little hands & limited motor skills.


Access Ingenuity - - Access Ingenuity is a leader in the development of effective access solutions for people with disabilities. It is dedicated to developing solutions and products to help people with disabilities maintain their independence. Access Ingenuity carries a wide variety of assistive
technology devices, backed by a highly experienced staff with over 20 years experience in the assistive technology field. Our goal is develop an on-going relationship to ensure that efforts to provide universal access are successful. Access Ingenuity offers a cost-effective "access solutions" service. It also supplies a full range of Access Products, which meet the needs of specific disabilities.


MI Gongwer 11-19-02 State Announces Locations for Wireless Classrooms


MD Step-climbing wheelchair clears panel - Stairs soon may no longer be insurmountable obstacles for some of the nation's 2 million wheelchair users.


MI Technology helps boost writing skills - Computer programs increase test scores, student interest.


Read the ERIC Digest: Assistive Technology (AT) for Students with Mild Disabilities


U.S. Telephone Access for People with Speech Disabilities


Communities of Power - Assistive Technology Project


Michigan Assistive Technology Clearinghouse


Michigan's Assistive Technology Resource


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