According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), an effective reading instruction program or tool should focus on the following five areas: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Guided Oral Reading, Vocabulary Comprehension and Text Comprehension. Applying this concept to my search for effective AT tools in reading, I came upon the following website:
Assistive Technology for Reading – This site discusses tools and techniques from “lo-tech” (ie. highliters, sticky notes) to “hi-tech” tools including software and hardware adaptive devices.
Capitlearning.com – While at CUE, and waiting in line to win a virtual reality headset from NearPod, I noticed a rubiks cube at the booth for CapitLearning. Peaking my curiosity, I inquired as to the purpose of the cube. What followed was an at length discussion about the recognition of patterns and using those patterns to make sense of any data source. He showed me a jumbled cube and then, by pointing out the patterns in the colors, showed me how to solved it. Applying the same logic to reading, he showed me an iPad app that used a series of pitchers and sounds applied to letters that fostered a quite entertaining manner of learning to read. Formative accessments were built into each exercise as well as encouragement and praise. Since I have a 4 year old at home that is learning to read, I thought this was worth the look.
Ron McCallum – This is an amazing TedTalk. His premature birth left him blind from the time he was an infant. He tells of reaching out to touch the pages and feel the words of the books his mother used to read to he and his siblings. The advent of technology and specifically AT tools has allowed him to do just that. It’s amazing how many tools and techniques that originally cost thousands of dollars are now available for free as an “Accessibility” feature of most computers and smartphones.