Monday, November 30, 2009

Assistive Technology, Module 3 - Software

iCommunicator ( looks like a wonderful tool for the deaf or hard of hearing. Having speech not only shown as text but also as video sign language on the computer really makes this tool valuable. Also being able to type something that is then turned into speech also helps the person communicate with someone who does not know sign language.

I was impressed with the video about the Dragon NaturallySpeaking where the software will type what the person says. My son saw a demonstration of a similiar program (not sure which program it was because I was talking with the technician while her assistant showed him the program) when we went to an Assistive Technology Evaluation for my son. Right now my son dictates to me or to an aide. Having a program such as this one would help him to be more independent.

It was interesting reading the stories of people using the Kurzweil 3000 ( I am finding that the most interesting way to learn about assistive technology is by reading about and watching videos of people who are using assistive technology and finding out how their lives have improved because of the assistive technology.

I downloaded the 30 day free trial of Inspiration. This software is a great way to create outlines or diagrams. I was able to quickly make up a simple diagram showing the ways my family can include more fruits and vegetables with their meals.

My 30 day trial of Kurzweil 3000 is still downloading so I will have to take a look at that software later.

I am having trouble seeing the videos of the accessibility features already built into my computer's operating system. Those videos sound like they will be very informative.

InfoEyes looks like a great resource for people with low-vision. They can set up a time to actually talk with a librarian through an internet chat room.

As I am learning more about assistive technology, I am realizing the importance for librarians to be aware of the different types of disabilities and challenges their patrons may have and what is available to assist them to be able to use the resources the library has to offer. I can see it being a challenge to figure out what types of assistive technology to get for the library since we may not know what types of disabilities our patrons are dealing with and we probably cannot ask them in some sort of survey due to privacy issues. If we are working in a school library, then we would have access to student IEP's. It had not occurred to me that the school librarian should also be looking at the IEP's of students until we discussed it during one of our chats for my graduate class. It makes sense that we should know about the challenges our patrons face. Maybe in the public library there would be a way for us to advertise the different assistive technologies that we have in the library and also a way for us to discreetly mention that we can work with you to help you access the library's resources.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Assistive Technology, Module 2, Hardware Solutions

On I found touch screens that would make it easier for patrons to interact with the computer. Having an amplification system available for a patron who is hard of hearing would help that person hear the librarian and hear during a program being presentated at the library. A keyboard designed for one hand would help a patron who only has the use of one hand. Foot switches connected to a computer would be an option for patrons who have limited or no fine motor control with their hands. I had no idea of all the different kinds of assistive technology that exists until I started exploring assistive technology for this class. I found the videos where we saw actual people using assistive technology to be especially helpful in learning about assistive technology. Since computers and the internet are now an integral part of many people's lives today, it is important that there are assistive technology solutions such as large print keyboards, one handed keyboards, and foot switches to enable people with disabilities to access computers and the internet. It was interesting learning about video magnifiers. My son has a card game that he wants me to play. I have to have him read the cards to me because the print is so small. I did try using a magnifying glass one time when I was playing with him. It is is also getting harder for me to read the small print on labels. Fortunately I have no problem reading regular size print. I am gaining a better understanding of what it must be like for patrons with low vision.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Assistive Technology, Module 1 - Job Accommodation Network and National Center for Learning Disabilities

It is interesting learning about the different ways to help people with learning disabilities. I will actually be taking my son for an assistive technology evaluation in a couple of weeks. We will be looking at ways to help him with his writing. Therefore I was curious what these websites had to say about writing. Having a student give answers verbally and have the student dictate answers to someone are two accommondations that my son has used. I found out that it is not that easy to write or type someone's answer when they are dictating their answer to you. Many times I would have to ask my son to repeat what he just said. Hopefully we can find a way to help him with his writing that would also give him more independence. Since I am interested in becoming a children's librarian, I took a look at ways to help students with reading. Having a reading pen available would be helpful for students who have difficulty with reading or with vision. The pen says the word as a person scans the word. Another suggestion was to provide books with larger print for students with vision problems. When we think of large print books we think of the large print books for adults. What about large print books for children? The books for younger children are usually larger print but the chapter books are the smaller print. I can see how important it is for librarians to have a good understanding about different disabilities.

Assistive Technology, Module 1 - National Federation of the Blind

If I were going to be teaching a blind student, I would want to introduce Braille to the whole class by labeling things in Braille and by having books written in Braille available for anyone in the class to look at. It might be interesting to have a lesson on both Braille and sign language at the same time in order to point out different ways people have of communicating with each other. In fact I could even include a different language such as Spanish. I could have people visit the class or library who are knowledgeable about the different languages.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week 9, Thing #23 Reflections

I have enjoyed this adventure of learning about new technology these last 9 weeks. Creating an avatar was a lot of fun. I discovered an interesting blog written by an artist who also shared some of her artwork on the blog. Finding out all the different ways of using YouTube was a great week. It was neat finding out that my father uses YouTube to watch the lectures of other university physics professors. With YouTube I was able to watch videos about therapy dogs coming to the library to listen to children read. I love the video I found with pictures of therapy dogs and children reading to them. Since I graduated from college years before the internet, my knowledge of new technology was very limited before this class. Working on a few things each week was a great way to learn about a lot of technology without being overwhelmed. I would describe this course as a fun and exciting way to learn about new technology. I would definitely consider taking another course in the future.

Week 9, Thing #22 ebooks and Audio ebooks

On Project Gutenburg's website I found an ebook about parenting written in 1871. It was interesting reading about parenting advice from so long ago. On LibriVox it looks like anyone can volunteer to read chapters of books for the ebooks. That might be something fun to do. I did discover that my local library does have audio ebooks. I easily found the books from a link on the library's website. The virtual library has a tutorial that explains about audio ebooks and how to check them out from your library.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Week 9, Thing #21 Podcasts

I found many podcasts of childrens' stories being read. One podcast was of children reading stories. The podcast I added to my Bloglines account was a podcast about the benefits of sleep. I am always looking for information about being healthy and this podcast sounded interesting. I am wondering how much time people spend each week listening to podcasts. We have so many choices now for how to get information. Do we want to listen to a podcast, watch a video, or read a blog? I am curious as to which of these ways is the most popular. My first thought is that I would not be listening to podcasts very often. I may be thinking that way because right now I am very busy with taking care of my family and working on my graduate classes. Maybe I also feel this way because podcasts are new to me. I do like the fact that I can put the podcasts in my Bloglines account.

Week 9, Thing #20 YouTube

This week I have discovered some great uses for YouTube. My son (who is a 7th grader) is studying microscopes. Looking on YouTube I found some videos including two which demonstated the right way (and wrong way!) to use a microscope. These videos were actually created by a 7th grade teacher for use in her science classes. My son thought the video about the wrong way to use a microscope was funny. My father is a physics professor at a university. The other night my parents were visiting and I happened to mention learning about YouTube this week. My father shared with me that he will watch videos on YouTube of lectures by professors from other universities. He explained that he wants to see the different approaches to teaching a particular subject, how the professor introduces the subject, what does the professor emphasize, and what does the professor have on the blackboard or whiteboard. Sometimes the professors will do demonstrations. I did ask my dad if he had ever videotaped any of his lectures and he said no. Later I did take a look at some of the physics lectures on YouTube. Then my discovery of uses of YouTube continued as I took my 11th grade daughter to a college for an open house. During the overview of the music department, the college had a video of one of their choir performances projected on the screen at the front of the room. When they closed out the video I saw that it was a video from YouTube! Tonight my daughter was going to a dance. Her boyfriend asked me if I knew how to tie a tie. I am not sure if I have ever tied a tie before. Anyways I decided to search YouTube for a video. I found a video that showed how to tie a tie step by step. While my daughter's boyfriend ended up not watching the video, it was interesting to discover yet another use for YouTube. While searching the videos on YouTube, I discovered I could watch clips of Broadway musicals. I also looked at some videos on storytimes at the library. Just like how my father watches other professors' lectures to inspire him, I realized I can watch other librarians' storytimes to inspire me since I am interested in being a children's librarian. I also decided to look at videos about therapy dogs that visit libraries to listen to kids read.

Here is a YouTube video I found with some great pictures of children reading to therapy dogs:

I chose this video because having therapy dogs come to the library sounds like a great idea to me. I was curious to see actual videos and pictures of therapy dogs in the library. This particular video is a cute way to showcase therapy dogs in the library. A video such as this video would be a great addition to a library website. Taking videos of actual activities that happen in your library, putting them on YouTube, and then having the videos on your library website would give patrons an actual feel for what the different activities look like. Other options for YouTube videos on your library website might be for booktalks or for a video tour of the library.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Week 8, Thing #19 LibraryThing

Here are my books on LibraryThing.
LibraryThing looks like a great website for someone who loves books (like me!). For the 5 books I chose the number of other people having the same book in their libraries was 18 people, 84 people, 10 people, 5 people, and 2 people. It was very easy to add books to my library once I knew the title of the book. I may decide to create a list of books I want to read. That way when I hear about or read about a book that sounds interesting, I can put the book in my library of books to read.

Week 8, Thing #18 Online Productivity Tools

The previous post is from a document I created in Zoho Writer. It was very easy to sign up for Zoho Writer, create a document, and post it to my blog. I also noticed that you could post the document to your blog as a draft if you wanted to.

Cyndy - test document

Wow, Zoho Writer sounds like a great tool.  cool  Being able to access your document from any computer would be a plus.  Also being able to work on a document with someone else is a valuable feature of Zoho. 

Week 7, Thing #17 Sandbox Wiki

Taking a look at the California Curriculum Connections wiki, I found some interesting websites that were suggested by others. I definitely want to spend more time with where you can create a talking avatar. has fun games about geography. Also is a website where people can create travel blogs about the places they visit. It might be an interesting way to learn about a country or city. has crossword puzzles about a variety of subjects. I thought it was interesting that you had the option of printing the crossword puzzles or of doing the crossword puzzle online. Doing a crossword puzzle is a different and fun way of studying about a subject. From looking at the California Curriculum Connections wiki I have found some interesting websites. Wikis are a great way for people to share information with each other. Not only is an informative website about webtools, but the wiki also is an example of what can be done with the design of a wiki. The first page looks like a scrapbook page with pictures and even a video among the pictures. Since I like scrapbooking, I found this page to be very interesting and eye-catching. To answer the question of how might I use wikis, I have decided to think of ideas for a children's librarian in a public library since I am interested in someday being a children's librarian. One idea that I have is to create a wiki for the parents of the children who visit the library. The parents could put pictures on the wiki of them reading to their children or of their children reading. Parents could contribute ideas about reading at home with their children. The librarian could also offer suggestions about reading to children. The wiki could include book suggestions and reviews by librarians and by parents. I am just mentioning parents editing the wiki as opposed to parents and children editing the wiki because I am thinking about younger children such as preschool age. For older children, I could have a wiki where they could tell about their favorite books. I also may want to include a section for parents on ideas to keep their children reading even as they get older.

Week 7, Thing #16 Wikis

It was very helpful to see examples of how schools and libraries are using wikis. Considering that the first time I worked on a wiki was for a class project in one of my graduate classes last year, I am not that familiar with wikis. The wiki did help with the collaboration between classmates. On other class projects I have had to send emails back and forth. We would have to be aware of which document was the current document we were adding information to. It was much easier to just go to the wiki and add information to the wiki. Then we always knew we were working with the current document. I asked my daughter if she is using wikis in her class. For her 11th grade English class they are using a wiki. Taking a look at the wiki, each student has their own page where they can work on their own assignment. It sounds like my daughter's teacher is using the page to make it easier for the students to hand in their papers and to also give students the chance to see other students' work. I did not see any collaboration between students for that particular class. Looking at other school wikis I discovered that wikis can be a place for teachers to include information about homework, information about assignments, and links to other resources in addition to being a place for students' to post their work. It was also interesting exploring the different possibilities of wikis for libraries. Wikis sound like a great place to put documents such as reader's advisories, pathfinders, and book reviews. Even if the document is something that will be updated only by library staff, a wiki would make it easier for people to find and update the current document. Having a wiki that patrons could also edit such as book reviews would help to include patrons' ideas about books. I enjoyed seeing the example of a wiki for a summer reading club for adults where patrons could add their reviews of the books they were reading. This site was also an example of how things kept changing due to technology. The next year instead of using a wiki for the book reviews, the patrons were able to add their reviews to the library catalog. I am thinking a library might still want to have a wiki for book reviews for a summer reading club even if the patrons can add the reviews to the library catalog if the purpose is to build a community among the adults in the summer reading club. With the different kinds of technology, I think a librarian must first decide on the purpose for using the technology in order to determine whether or not the technology would be the best way to meet that purpose. Once a librarian decides upon a purpose that a wiki may fulfill, then it would be easier to determine who is allowed to edit the wiki and how to market the wiki so that the potential users know about the wiki.