The iPad and Communication Transitions for Young Adults

Tuesday, December 13, 2011
9:00-10:00 Pacific Standard Time

As children who use communication devices become young adults, their environments, needs, and interests are likely to change quickly and dramatically. This webinar will take a look at how the vocabulary and equipment that they have previously used can change accordingly. 

Archived Webinar Description: As children who use communication devices become young adults, their environments, needs, and interests are likely to change quickly and dramatically. The vocabulary and equipment that they have previously used will need to change accordingly.

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Writing Tools for People with Learning Disabilities

Some people with learning disabilities experience problems with writing (dysgraphia); this may include problems with specific words (e.g., spelling) or with generating ideas. Some writing tools are specifically designed for people with learning disabilities; others are built into mainstream products. They provide assistance with a wide range of needs, including optimizing on-screen and print formats, idea generation and organization, choosing the right word, and spelling, homophone, and grammar checking.

This article covers some of the mainstream and AT solutions to these writing problems.

Try It Yourself

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Creating Captioned Video

Adding captions to video is easier than it seems, and it's getting easier all the time.  The process consists of 2 or 3 elements:

  • The text of the captions, which should be an accurate transcript of what is said in the video, plus sound effects
  • Timing information, so the right caption shows up at the right time
  • Optional formatting information about where the captions appear on the screen, font, color, etc. 

This article covers the basic steps of adding captions to a video you are creating. In some cases the steps will depend on the video production system you are using.

Why Add Captions?

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Staying Connected: Meet the Accessible Technology Coalition

Thursday, January 27, 2011
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PST

You are invited to join this introduction to the Accessible Technology Coalition—a new model of information and training delivery to better serve the end-users of assistive technology. Funded in part by the California Emerging Technology Fund, ATC is a project of the Center for Accessible Technology (CforAT) in Berkeley, California. The vision of the Accessible Technology Coalition is to broaden the focus of assistive technology to include not only computer access, but all information and communication technologies.

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Captions on DVDs

Viewers of DVDs and Blu-ray disks usually have the option of viewing captions.

DVDs that have closed captions or subtitles may indicate that on the cover.  To turn captions on, go to the 'menu' on the DVD and look for the 'languages' category.  Either 'closed captions' (CC) or 'subtitles for deaf and hard of hearing' (SDH) will show up.  Select the option and proceed to play the DVD.

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Free and Cheap Screen Readers

Screen reader software converts text on a computer screen into synthetic speech and/or braille. The software also allows the keyboard to replace the mouse in controlling the computer, and provides other help in navigating. Although the most popular screen readers cost about $1000, this article covers some that are free or at low cost. They work relatively well with the basic popular software applications and general Internet tools, but do not have the "power user" features found on the more sophisticated programs.


NVDA (non-visual desktop access) is an open-source screen reader for Windows. It works with common programs such as Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer.

Thunder is another free Windows screen reader offered by a group in the United Kingdom.

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E-books and E-reading Software

Electronic books (e-books) are an alternative to print, and may be useful to people who have difficulty reading because of vision or cognition disabilities, or who have difficulty holding a book or turning pages.  However, not all e-books are automatically accessible to blind users.  Libraries and schools should carefully consider their choices when making e-book decisions.

This article covers some of the most popular current choices.

E-book content may be available in different computer formats. Some books and magazines are available as standard text files or Microsoft Word documents. These are easily accessed by the use of screen reading software.

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Braille and Braille Publishing

Braille is a system for publishing text for blind readers.  It uses patterns of raised dots to represent letters, which are read by touch.

This article covers the major sources of printed braille in the US.

Although not all print materials are converted into braille, there is a wide variety made available.  There are 3 major sources of Braille publications in the U.S.

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Simple Language Makes Reading Easier

Clearly written information benefits any website visitor. However, it is particularly important to the many people who generally have trouble understanding written text. This includes:

•    people with cognitive disabilities
•    new readers (children and adults)
•    beginning English students

This article discusses a common method of measuring website readability, via several free tools. It also provides suggestions for improving your site's score.

Flesch Reading Ease

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Software and Hardware Media Players

Audio and video files can be played on hardware devices (such as an iPod or portable DVD player), or via software on a computer (such as Windows Media Player or Apple QuickTime). This article discusses what to consider when determining options for making these files available for use by individuals with various types of disabilities.

Hardware media players

Controls: Controls should require minimal hand movement and activation pressure for the benefit of people with dexterity disabilities. Make sure that they are not too easy to activate or too close together.  Multiple controls with different shapes allow blind users to distinguish among them by touch.

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