By: Muncie Kardos, Ph.D., OTR/L, ATP
ATIA 2012 in Orlando, FL proved to be yet another wonderful experience. In addition to the weather being just what this New Englander had hoped for, there were (as always) dozens of educational sessions, presentations, and product demonstrations. Here is a sampling of just some of the things that were showcased during the conference.
Everything old is new again!
And this year’s winner for best old dog made new again is Crick Software with the debut of Clicker 6. Set to be released within the next few weeks, Clicker 6 offers users a new interface that is fast, friendly, and FUNctional. The addition of Clicker Set wizards enables users to create Clicker activities within minutes. New features include webcam support so that pictures can be taken using a web cam and instantly added to activities (no more saving to folders!) Imagine taking pictures in science class and incorporating them into a lab report immediately. But that’s just the beginning. Clicker 6 now contains word prediction, new edit features that allow students to edit their own work, and last but not least, Clicker Paint has been fully integrated into the new version of the program. For those of you who use Clicker 5, your activities will all continue to work with Clicker 6 and the company is offering a discount incentive for upgrading.
Keeping along with the same theme, Writing with Symbols 2000 has a new look, new features, and a new name. Communicate:Symwriter is the latest version of this symbol-supported word processor that enables students of all abilities to write. The program still offers users the option to write with symbol supported grids making it appropriate for all users.
New Products from great companies!
Inclusive TLC has brought us wonderful switch accessible software for years. This year they have added a new program to their line, Matrix Maker Plus. The program enables users to make symbol and picture resources such as templates for static communication devices, visual schedules, and worksheets. Offering over 25,000 picture symbols, which are automatically updated over the internet, plus the option to add your own pictures either from a file or directly from a webcam makes this program versatile to say the least. The interface is user friendly and creation of activities could not be faster or easier. At the booth conference goers were challenged to make a template in under a minute, there were LOTS of winners from this challenge, including me! Great new tool for 2012.
Also from Inclusive is a new communication aide called Smooth Talker, Blue2 Bluetooth Switch for iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Switch Progression Road Map a fabulous tool for assessing and supporting students who are switch users. Lots to take in from IT!
Unique Learning and Classroom Suite have teamed up to provide ready-made activities to use with Classroom Suite to support engagement and learning with Unique’s wonderful curriculum. Finally, through Unique Learning Systems, there are science and social studies curriculum materials that align to state standards and offer developmentally appropriate hands-on activities to engage students in these areas. An excellent collaboration by the wonderfully talented people at these two companies.
Reading for All
Continuing along with curriculum I had the opportunity to explore two reading programs from Attainment designed to teach literacy to those students who are most at risk for not being offered quality, research-based, literacy instruction. Early Literacy Skills Builder has 7 levels of instruction in vocabulary development, comprehension, phonological awareness, alphabetic principles, and print awareness. For students who are not ready for this level of instruction, there is Pathways to Literacy, a curriculum designed for students with significant developmental disabilities including those who are non-speaking and those with visual impairments. Check out these great resources.
Sneak Peak: Psssst….. I had the opportunity to preview the latest program in development from the genius of switch software at Judy Lynn. Set to be released in the next few months this new program, Turn Taking, may be just what you are looking for. I have found that kids like nothing better than seeing videos of themselves, other family members, and their favorite characters. This ingenious program allows you to drop in your own pictures and videos SO quickly and easily that even an adult can do it. The kids take turns activating the switch to uncover a target picture followed by the video clip that plays as the reward. The game can be used by a single user as well making it a great activity for independent play. Great job!!
Apps for Everyone
No assistive technology conference would be complete without hundreds of new Apps on display here is the short list of newly debuted Apps:
|GoTalk Now||AAC app from Attainment|
|Attainment Switch App||Turn your iPad or iPhone into a switch to run computer software on you PC or Mac from Attainment|
|MyTalk Tools||AAC software with a special version offered to AAC practitioners for no cost from MyTalkTools|
|Visual Impact||Provides step-by-step task instructions with visual support from AbleLink|
|Community Sidekick||Track the location of another via email and Google Maps; great for supporting independence in the community from AbleLink|
|My Health, My Choice, My Responsibility||Helps individuals with developmental and other disabilities track healthcare needs and make informed choices from AbleLink|
|MyVoice||AAC with “Cloud” support from MyVoiceAAC|
|MYO-App||Make your own app from Vizzle|
|Various new Apps||Cause/effect activities from Inclusive Technology|
As always, a good time was had by all at ATIA 2012 Orlando, FL!