On Friday, September 16th, I attended an Assistive Technology Fair with Laurie Wilson up in Calgary. With Inclusive Education being a primary focus for school boards, this is an area that is up and coming. There are many physical tools and software to assist the classroom teacher in meeting the needs of all students.
One area that we could all address tomorrow is the Windows 7 software that we are now running within our schools. By pressing the combination of ‘Window Key’ and the ‘U’ key, we can bring up the “Ease of Access Center”.
Within this center, one has the ability to modify the following:
- Narrator – a screen reader which will read text
- Magnifier – up to 16X magnification
- Onscreen Keyboard
- Speech Recognition
- Touch – would require a touch capable screen
- Keyboard shortcuts
- Sticky Keys – avoids multiple repeat of any key
- Mouse Keys
- Filter Keys
- Visual Notification – to replace the sound notifications
- Captions – video captions
In the Mac environment, one would access the “Universal Access” which you would find under Preferences. Within here, one could modify the following:
- Voice over – will describe where the cursor is hovering; 22 languages available
- Zoom capability – up to 40X magnification!
- Keyboard viewer
- Speakable Items – speech recognition
- Touch – multi touch gestures
- Keyboard Shortcuts
- Sticky Keys
These are ‘tools’ that we could be using right away to help those students who may have various sensory impairments. The vendors who supply the various assistive technology tools were on hand. Needless to say there are a lot of tools that can be purchased to help our students and unfortunately it is not very cheap.