TCI Tech Review Blog

TCI teachers, speech therapists and staff provide feedback and reviews of Assistive Technology and iPod, iPad, & iPhone Apps that are used to support students with autism.  The application and technology reviews listed here are personal statements made by individuals and may or may not reflect the official position of the school and/or administration. You can subscribe to an RSS feed of this page (see RSS icon at bottom of page) or follow our Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/tcischool. For more information and resources about mobile apps supporting students with special needs, visit Mr. Palmer's page.

  • Toontastic (Launchpad Toys)

    Posted by Krista Curley at 4/14/2014
    Toontastic Toontastic is a cartoon building app that allows students to create their own cartoons. It is a great way to foster creativity, as well as visually teach students about story elements (characters, setting, conflict, resolution, etc.). Toontastic is extremely user friendly and gives auditory and visual cues to help the user choose settings and characters and then animate, and tell their stories. The free app is limited in some background and character choices; however the user may draw their own backgrounds and characters to use in current and future projects. Many of my students enjoy this app so much, that they “earn” to create their own cartoons.
     
    Toontastic is marketed by Launchpad Toys and is available free on the iTunes App Store (in-app purchases are available for addtional content).  Toontastic: All Access is available on the iTunes App Store for $9.99 and includes all available Toontastic options.
     
    Comments (-1)
  • Verbally (Intuary)

    Posted by Randall Palmer at 4/7/2014
    verbally In the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), there are lots of choices. Verbally is the first application I have found that focuses only on a keyboard for interaction and communication. The keyboard mode of interaction is much more appropriate for higher functioning individuals and provides them with a consistent AAC platform.  A key feature of Verbally is the fact that it does not include any "cute" icons, stick figures, or language that might be stigmatizing to more mature students.  The keyboard appearance on the iPad screen is clean and professional.
     
    Verbally is opening new avenues for communication among people with autism and is well deserving of recognition. The fact that Verbally continues to be available free of charge is a great service to the special education population in general and Intuary should be recognized and honored for their service.

    Verbally was developed by Intuary, Inc. and is available on the iTunes App Store for free.
    Verbally Premium is available on the iTunes App Store for $99.

    Comments (-1)
  • Rainbow Sentences (by Mobile Education Store)

    Posted by Carol White at 3/31/2014 8:00:00 AM
    Rainbow Whenever one activity provides the opportunity to work on multiple goals, I am thrilled. Therefore, as a speech-language pathologist working to address a wide variety of goals with my students, I was delighted to have found the Rainbow Sentences App. The developer’s site states that this app “is designed to help students improve their ability to construct grammatically correct sentences by using color coded visual cues”. But it does so much more. It uses interesting pictures that students enjoy describing and discussing. It reinforces the importance of all those little niceties of language like using articles, conjunctions, prepositions and verb tenses. It provides opportunities to work on “WH” questions. The settings feature provides so many ways to customize support to individual students. My favorite aspect of this app is the “record” feature. Hearing their own verbal production of the sentence is fun for the student and one of the most meaningful ways to point out what they did well and what could have been done better.
     
    Rainbow Sentences was developed the Mobile Education Store and is available on the iTunes App Store for $9.99.

     
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  • Sosh (by Drs. Mark & Kelly Bowers)

    Posted by Randall Palmer at 3/24/2014 8:00:00 AM
    Sosh The Sosh application is filled with activities and tools that help children and adults that have difficulty with social skills.  The application is divided into five sections including Relate (connect with others), Relax (reduce stress), Regulate (manage behaviors), Reason (think it through), and Recognize (understand feelings).  This app provides many of the tools used in cognitive and behavioral therapy and provides students with an opportunity to work independently to resolve their challenges.  Some examples of tools available on the Sosh application include "The Shredder," that allows individuals to symbolically shred negative thoughts.  The "Deep Breathing," tool on the Sosh app leads individuals in a guided session of deep breathing.
     
    At $39, Sosh is more expensive than most apps, but the developers offer a full-featured 7-day trial of the application called Sosh Lite. For more information, visit http://www.mysosh.com

     
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  • Question Builder (Mobile Education Store)

    Posted by Noelle DiGiacomo at 3/10/2014
    Question Builder Question Builder is an app that helps students answer comprehension questions. The questions provided range from basic picture comprehension to more advanced questions, which requires the student to tap into their background knowledge and reasoning skills. The app allows the user to adjust the settings to meet the needs of the individual. There are three levels of difficulty, and can be adjusted to focus on one type of question, such as why, where, how, or what, or the question types asked can be randomized. There is an audio feature, where the question can be read to the user, and the question is also displayed.
     
    The app also collects data, showing the number of attempts it took for the student to answer the question correctly at each level and for each question type. Every student can have their own profile, so it is easy to track student progress, and also identify what types of questions students may need further reinforcement.
     
    I use this app with many of my students in the Reading Lab and they love it! I recommend this app for any student who may need to strengthen their comprehension skills.
     
    Question Builder is marketed by the Mobile Education Store and is available in the iTunes App Store for $5.99.
     
    Comments (-1)
  • NJECC Conference Handout- Literacy Instruction in Special Education- Integrating Technology with the iPad

    Posted by Noelle DiGiacomo at 3/3/2014
    NJECC TCI Reading Instructors Kate Honig, Noelle DiGacomo, and Erin Perkins are presenting at the New Jersey Educational Computing Cooperative (NJECC) Annual Conference on Tuesday March 11, 2014.
     
    Download the handout see the Apps for Reading and Literature that they are demonstrating. Please note that the first column includes hyperlinks to view/download the apps from the iTunes App Store!
    Comments (-1)
  • Touch 'N Slide Calculator (Math is a Sport! LLC)

    Posted by Laura Hartjen at 1/13/2014

    Touch N Slide The Touch ‘N Slide Calculator iPad application is a great tool that assists students with visualizing the way numbers increase and decrease in computation problems. Upon opening the app, the student is presented with a number line consisting of 3 bars. The student is then able to drag the top bar to the first addend on the number line (up to the number 20). Then, the student then drags the second bar until he/she reaches the number to be added to the first addend (+2, +3, +4, etc.). The third bar moves automatically to show the total sum by visually combining the first and second bars on the number line. The app also includes the computation problem on top of the number line so students can see the numeric representation of the problem as well. The mode can easily be switched from addition to subtraction by simply pressing the +/- button on the bottom of the screen. The subtraction mode works similarly to the addition number line but now the student is able to move the second bar to the left to demonstrate how the number is decreasing in value and size. The use of color (blue for addition and red for subtraction) give students visual color cues to prompt them to think about what kind of computation they are doing. The Touch ‘N Slide calculator is a great visual tool for students who need assistance in grasping why/ how numbers change with addition and subtraction problems. The triple bars on the number line give concrete meaning to how numbers increase and decrease in value due to addition or subtraction. The Touch ‘N Slide calculator is free to download and other features including the use of negative numbers and multiplication/division can be purchased within the app. 

     
    Touch 'N Slide Calculator is marketed by "Math is a Sport! LLC" and is available in the iTunes App store for FREE.
     
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  • Sharing Timer (HandHoldAdaptive)

    Posted by Randall Palmer at 1/6/2014

    Sharing Timer Learning to share and take turns can be challenging for all children. The Sharing Timer app provides a simple interface to keep track of whose turn it is an how much longer they have. When you start the Sharing Timer, users have the option to select the number of players (designated by colored icons), the activity being played, and the time for each turn. Once started, the time provides a visual and numeric representation of the time remaining in the turn. When time expires, the app prompts users to share.


    One major limitation to the sharing timer is the fact that it does not keep running in the background. This means that it cannot be used when other apps are being used. This can be worked around by running the Sharing Timer on a dedicated device.


    The Sharing Timer is marketed by HandHold Adaptive and is available in the iTunes App Store for $0.99.

     
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  • iReadWrite (Texthelp Ltd.)

    Posted by Randall Palmer at 12/9/2013

    iReadWrite In the field of assistive word processing applications, iReadWrite stands out by providing a comprehensive suite of assistive tools with an easy to use interface. Word prediction has become widely implemented on cell phones to assist users who are sending text messages. iReadWrite, however, provides word predictions based on the context of the words already written. As a result, the recommendations are quite accurate. A further enhancement iReadWrite is the inclusion of a phonetic spell checker that will offer correct spellings of words that are entered phonetically.

    To support auditory learners, iReadWrite includes a text-to-speech engine that can read aloud the words being typed.  This is helpful during the writing process, and also to review the final written product. Users can select from a number of male or female voices, and can also set the reading speech.

    Like most assistive word processors, iReadWrite provides the ability to change the foreground and background color as well as enlarging the font if necessary. One of the most important features of iReadWrite is the fact that it supports the use of Apple’s SIRI speech recognition on compatible devices. Apple has made great strides in the field of speech recognition and iReadWrite easily allows this functionality.

    iReadWrite is marketed by TextHelp Ltd. and is available in the iTunes App store for $19.99.




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  • Voice Dream

    Posted by Randall Palmer at 12/2/2013
    Voice Dream Voice Dream is a text reader that converts written text to auditory speech. One of the key features of Voice Dream is the ability to integrate with Bookshare.org accounts. Bookshare.org provides electronic copies of books and periodicals for students with print disabilities. The books are downloaded in an electronic form that can be easily modified to meet the needs of readers with diverse disabilities. This can mean altering font, size, color, and even using text-to-speech technology to provide read-aloud capability. Bookshare is currently available free of charge for US students with qualifying disabilities thanks to a grant by the US Department of Education.
     
    So what does all this have to do with Voice Dream? Voice Dream is an assistive technology book reader that uses text-to-speech technology to read-aloud books. Voice Dream's integration with Bookshare and makes locating and downloading electronic textbooks easy, provided you have a qualifying Bookshare account. In addition to Bookshare, Voice Dream can also read aloud documents found in a linked Dropbox, Google Drive, or Evernote account. As selected documents are read, Voice Dream highlights each sentence and word being read. Students who don't need the auditory support of a read-aloud text can turn off the sound and just use the highlighting feature to help them focus as they read the page independently. 

    Voice Dream includes one pre-loaded voice, but others can be downloaded for an additional fee. Some educators complain about the robotic sound of the text-to-speech engine in Voice Dream, but research shows that students on the autism spectrum, however, may dislike the sound of a human voice and instead prefer a computerized voice because it is predictable and steady.

    Voice Dream is available in the iTunes App Store for $9.99.
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Last Modified on Tuesday at 10:50 AM