PhET Interactive Simulations

The PhET website offers free teaching Math and Science activities contributed by the PhET team and user community. Teachers, students, parents, and others can sign up at their website to access the free resources and activities. The simulations are written in Java, Flash or HTML5 (Open source) and work in any browser, or you can also download them to use. In addition to the site’s simulations, you can download many lesson plans and available resources. It is great resources for teachers and home schooling parents to implement the same lesson plans or create your own and contribute it to the community.

You can select a subject (Mathematics, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, Physics, and other subjects) with different levels (K-5, MS, HS, UG-Intro, UG-Adv, Grad, and others). Some learning materials are available in different languages. Unfortunately most of the simulations are not accessible to all students with disabilities. So these students will need additional support from instructors and parents.

What is PhET? (from YouTube posted by PhET Simulations)

Here are a few examples of Simulations taken from the site:

Fraction Matchers- This simulation asks to match fractions using numbers and different picture patters. Students can answer independently.

A sample screenshot of the Fraction Matchers Simulations

Fraction Matcher simulation link: click here.

Projectile Motion
Determine how each parameter (initial height, initial angle, initial speed, mass, diameter, and altitude) affects the trajectory of an object, with and without air resistance.

A sample screenshot of Projectile Motion Simulations

Projectile Motion Simulation link: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/projectile-motion

You can find more activities here: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/teaching-resources/browse-activities

Additionally, PhET team are creating prototypes of accessibility activities.
There are prototypes so some activities may not fully accessible to students with various disabilities.

Frictions
You can hear sounds and sees the temperature gauge goes up whenever you try to slide the chemistry book sideways. The faster you move, the temperature goes up faster as well as providing more sound.

A sample screenshot of accessible activities – Frictions simulations

Friction simulation link: https://phet.colorado.edu/sims/html/friction/latest/friction_en.html

Posted in Assistive Technology, Technology in Education, Vocational Services, AT_Math, AT_Apps, AT_Software, Accessibility Features, Games, Assessment, Services, Windows | Leave a comment

Microsoft Math Solver

Students often need resources or tutors to help them with their school work. Mathematics is one of the subjects which you need to understand the steps of solving each problem before you can tackle problems independently. Additionally, parents can certainly benefit by having a way to verify the answers when they help their children.

Microsoft Math Solver will be able to help students and their parents in certain types of Mathematics such as Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Trigonometry, Calculus, and Matrix mathematics. This app can be very useful for students who are learning higher levels of math after elementary school.

Microsoft Math Solver calculator screen

You can use Microsoft Math solver app from the website at: Microsoft Math Solver Website or Microsoft Math solver app which you can download from Apple Store or Google Play store from: Download link

The following is an example of entering equations with “Draw” option on a tablet.
Surprisingly, it recognized these sloppy hand drawn equations, converted them to typed equations, and solved the problem with step-by-step instruction.

An example of “Draw” option to enter a problem
The steps of using substitution to solve the problem

Besides the “draw” option, you can “type”, “scan”, and get answers with step by-step solutions. For example, taking a picture of an equation on your phone or typing an equation from their app works well. Additionally, it gives you similar problems to practice with and offers support videos.

If you are working on a mobile device, you can send the solution link via email so that you can review it on your desktop. Here is what I saw after sending the link of the example problem above via email. https://mathsolver.microsoft.com/en/solve-problem/@f6zutdsh?ref=r

Microsoft Math Solver does not solve word problems. You have to know the order of operations in mathematical equations so that you will get a correct answer. However, Microsoft Math Solver certainly seems to be very helpful to support students.

Here is a YouTube video posted by AccessAbility Services (YouTube 2020)

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NeuroNode3

Persons with conditions such as ALS/MND, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Cerebral Palsy, and Spinal Cord Injury have limited mobility to access computers and devices. As a result, some assistive technology devices such as switches and keyboards may not be fully useful to support their needs. However, NeuroNode3 from Control Bionics can be a solution to control devices and environments better so that the individual can increase his/her independent skills.

NeuroNode3 and Control Bionics devices

NeuroNode – How It Works
(YouTube: Jan 15, 2020)

It is exciting to see different companies working together to combine technology solutions which can help persons who face severe disabilities. Combined with Google AI and NeuroNode’s smart speaker, you can set alarms and reminders, control environments (i.e. lights), alert a caregiver, check the weather, play music, Internet search, etc. NeuroNode3 expands the access options to AAC (Alternative Communication) devices which allows them communicate with others and expand social activities. Control Bionics NeuroNode and Obi Robot can help people with limited mobility eat meals independently.

Obi Robot + Control Bionics NeuroNode!

Obi Robot + Control Bionics NeuroNode!
Obi being operated with the latest technology in communication devices, the NeuroNode.
(YouTube Apr 13, 2021)

Funding
As far as funding, Controlbionics states that their funding options are continuously expanding. It looks like they can offer funding through Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Health Administration, private insurance, and various education systems.

For more information:

https://sayhello.controlbionics.com/funding-usa

Control Bionics Products

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SENSEE

Visually impaired often do not have the opportunity to enjoy reading the same materials (i.e. braille format books) with sighted individuals in a family setting together. SENSEE offers products that both the sighted and the visually impaired can enjoy reading together because their books have braille and normal characters plus pictures on the same page.

Sighted individual and visually impaired enjoy reading the same book

SENSEE braille conversion and special printer produces books both braille and letters. Drawing books and Tactile books can create a learning environment where the visually impaired can touch the shapes of objects and feel the shapes, objects, and pictures so that they can also learn how to draw. Additionally it appears SENSEE can customize learning materials.

Braille, letter, and pictures in the same book
Tactile Drawing

Cost and Time saving between SENSEE products and existing options on the market are shown below.

DescriptionExisting SolutionsSENSEE
Period6 months – 1 year1-5 days
Price$100-$200$10-50
QualityLow Only BrailleHigh Braille with text and images
Cost comparison Information taken from http://www.sensee.world/eng/tech/technology.php

It looks like the company, SENSEE is located in South Korea. However, if you are considering to create educational materials and would like to know more information about the cost, you may contact them via email. Their email is listed at the website: http://www.sensee.world/eng/contact.php.

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Dot Watch

Dot Watch is a smartwatch which can be used with or without connecting to mobile devices.  The significant difference between the Dot Watch and other smartwatches is that the device offers a braille display made up of 24 small pins for visually impaired users. As a standalone use, the Dot Watch shows time, timer, stopwatch, and battery level in Braille. You can use the watch that can tell you the time down to the second.

If you use a Dot watch with your smartphone, it vibrates and tells you who is calling you, read memo, and provide you with other additional features. Dot Watch reads messages and personal information through Brail output without a sound. This is helpful when users are in the environment they prefer not to use audio output.  Additionally, you can use it to learn Braille with your Smartphone. For example, if you type on your phone, it will display the letter on the Dot Watch in Braille. One of the useful features is that you can find your smartphone or Dot Watch by using their app. For example, when you misplace your smartphone, by pressing twice the Dot Watch, your phone will ring, vice versa, you can use an app on your smartphone and locate the Dot Watch because it vibrates.

Dot Watch

Supported Languages: Korean, English, Spanish, German, French, Russian, Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), and Vietnamese.
Compatible with iPhone (iOS 9 or above) and most Android smartphones (Android 4.4.4 or above).

Dot Watch uses the settings of smartphones (i.e., notifications from texting, news, calendars, reminders, etc.) and stores up to 50 notifications. You may need to turn off some notifications on your phone so that you can limit sending extra notifications to the Dot Watch. Most users indicated that they like the Dot Watch, but some pointed out a need for additional enhancements such as battery life and automatic time update when the watch is not synced to your phone, user manual enhancement, and support.

The company (DOT Incorporation) is located in Seoul, Korea. They specialize in developing technology to help persons with daily challenges. Amazon shows the Dot Watch is not currently not available for purchase, but the price on their Website shows as $299.00 – $333.00. However, you will need to be aware that the total cost is subjected to import duties and taxes. Additionally it is recommended that you find out what the warranty and repair costs are before you purchase. You can find out more information via email address at: support@dotincorp.com or dot@dotincorp.com. You can find more information at: http://www.dotincorp.com

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Scribe by Pneuma Solutions

Pneuma Solutions has developed a transcription tool (and service) called ‘Scribe’ to help persons who are blind or low vision and those who support them. Pneuma Solutions was founded by two accessibility developers Mike Calvo and Matt Campbell.

Too often we do not realize that formats and documentations on online are not accessible to blind or low vision persons. According to the article, March 2021 AccessWorld, AFB (American Foundation for the Blind), written by Deborah Kendrick , Scribe can convert inaccessible online documents to accessible information. It offers a 96- percent accuracy rate documents with different languages and file formats, including braille, large print, rtf, mp3, epub, pdf, plus a few others.

Scribe makes content shared onscreen to accessible to persons with Low vision or blind participants in real time during the meeting. Additionally you can forward the meeting notes to the participants with accessible file formats after the meeting. The cost is 99 cents per page for their digital remediation’s service.

If you are an educator and work with print disability students, you may want to contact Pneuma Solutions directly. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is offering Scribe for Education free of charge to qualified teachers.

Below are more information about Scribe from Pneuma Solutions.

Pneuma Solutions contact: https://pneumasolutions.com/contact/
Digital document remediation: https://pneumasolutions.com/products/scribe/
Scribe for Meetings (BETA): https://scribeformeetings.com/
Scribe for Education: https: //pneumasolutions.com/scribe-for-education/
or email to: education@pneumasolutions.com

The article about Scribe and Pneuma Solutions by Deborah Kendrick – Click here.

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Livescribe Symphony – Smartpen

Livescribe Symphony is a smart pen which can transcribe your notes from a micro-dot-enabled notebook and Livescibe+ app.

According to the manufacturer, Livescribe smartpens only work with Livescribe micro-dot-enabled paper. You can store up to 1200 A4 pages (A4 paper is slightly shorter and slightly wider than letter size) on your pen. It supports 27+ languages and has a 90 day standby battery life.

Livescribe Symphony pen uses Livescribe+ app, which has expanded the use of this spartpen. You can sync the dot-paper notebook via Bluetooth to Android, Apple, and Windows devices (i.e. tablet & phone).

The Livescribe+ app screen includes PAGE, FEED, and PENCAST view. From FEED view, you can convert your handwritten notes to text characters. During the trial, I found that if you write in print (or or legible), the app will convert your handwriting notes to text characters better than cursive (script) handwriting. It seems extra spacing seems to help the conversion. Then you can send your notes or video (recorded voice & notes) from the Livescribe+ app via email, text, and Cloud services (i.e. Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, OneNote). You can stop the voice recording and restart again by the pausing button. You can take a picture within their app so you can include the pictures associated with the notes you just created. These features are very helpful to review your notes later.

Livescribe Symphony can be purchased around $109 and the mico-dot enabled notebook can be found $24-34 for 4 or $8.95 for a single subject notebook. A smartpen can benefit not only students in classroom or online but also helpful in field survey for professionals or use it as daily reminder notes.

Smartpen: Livescribe Symphony Tutorial
YouTube video posted by UIdaho CDAR Oct. 2020

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Mod Math – iPad app

Mod Math is an iPad app developed to help children with dysgraphia.
Children with dysgraphia can understand math concepts, but they can’t write clearly enough to keep number columns and solve Math facts (i.e. add, subtract, multiply, or divide multi-digit equations). Mod Math app is designed to help students solve equations step by step on an iPad. Students can reduce trouble of writing down and erasing the equations with pencil and paper over and over again while solving Math questions. Additionally, children with dyslexia, ADHD, autism, dyspraxia and other disabilities can benefit from using this Mod Math app.

Mod Math Screen

There is a free version and a paid version which comes with additional math symbols like pi, infinity, sigma, etc. Additionally, you can print out the work pages and send it via email or text, or upload it to Drop Box. The company (http://www.modmath.com/) is a not-for-profit organization so they rely on donations from the app development. They are hoping to add even more features to meet requests and demands such as support for Android devices and Chrome book. They also want to offer a full alphabet keyboard, adjustable font size, and the ability to input complete worksheets, graphing function, etc.

YouTube – ModMath Tutorial (posted by SETC Special Education Technology Center 2017)

Mod Math Tutorial (YouTube link)
https://youtu.be/izzvKlUyKDo

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Socially Assistive Robots

Socially assistive robots have been developed to assist the elderly through social interaction and designed to help with the caregiving of the aging population. Robots could ask questions like a nurse, exchange conversation, and help to improve the mood of individuals. Robotic assistants numbers will likely grow extensively because there will be a shortage of nearly 450,000 caregivers by 2025.

Assist robots range from small sizes, such as Mabu (a 15-inch yellow robot), to human size. Another type looks more like a small, modular lamp than a robot. A typical conversation may include how a person feels. Modern robots can ask questions, both verbal and text on a screen and can expand into other areas, such as examining or screening for anxiety and depression. Then the information can be analyzed by sending data to the user’s health care providers. Additionally, assist robots can enable strong relationships between people and offer social support to help elderly live independent lives. However, many people may develop a Luddite complex with all the advances that are currently being made in the robotics field. The issues of privacy and interaction with robots that report their analyses of the health of their patient may cause their owners to be very apprehensive of using these robots to their fullest potential. .

Berka,CEO/Co-Founder of Advanced Brain Monitoring states “We foresee the potential for the robot intervention to be used alone or in combination with other treatments for dementia.” https://www.advancedbrainmonitoring.com/news/can-a-robot-help-to-prevent-cognitive-decline-in-alzheimers-and-other-dementias

Hanson and his team, based in Hong Kong, have created human-like A.I. robots (Sophia) which has more sophisticated intelligence, advanced abilities such as reading faces, communicating with variety face expressions with emotions, and understanding the nuances of language. We may see more sophisticated assistive robots helping people in the future.

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Online Education Tips

Many schools shut down due to the COVID-19 all across the world. Education has changed dramatically and has been forced to teach students remotely on digital platforms.There are many challenges in delivering education remotely. Without a computer equipment, technology, and reliable Internet access availability, a student cannot participate in digital learning. The gap is large between the income brackets. Students with disadvantaged backgrounds and students with disabilities are struggling to access the education and keep up with their school work in today’s virtual learning environment.

However, some students who can access to the education through online have found it effective because they can access more learning materials and faster. Another advantage is they can learn at their own pace and review materials repeatedly to understand the concepts.

If you are planning to design learning materials, some advice from educators are:

  1. One important teaching principle is to focus on the topic and concepts, not on technology products that can actually distract from the core curriculum.
  2. Try to make the course asynchronous (time independent) so that the student can learn as his/her pace vs having to keep pace with other students. This can be a big benefit of online programs.

    One of the most important tasks is to design and make courses inclusive of all students (Universal Design in Education).

20 Tips for Teaching an Accessible Online Course

http://www.washington.edu/doit/videos/index.php?vid=79

20_Tips_Desigining_Courses_5_7_20.pdf

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