Read and Be Free

A look at libraries, literature, technology and staying sane in an insane world.

Assistive Technology Final Thoughts December 14, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — aimeethompson99 @ 9:09 AM

After spending the last few weeks reading and reviewing many assistive technology websites and articles, I realized just how important web access can be for families dealing with disabilities.  No longer are people shut off from the world around them, most importantly, the world of information.  Of course, getting the wrong or misleading information can definitely be detrimental, but the Web has opened up many options and opportunities for researching about disabilities and finding tools and strategies that can be useful.  Reading blogs written by parents of disabled students brought to light many of the day-to-day living issues that these parents and children face.  The blogs also highlighted some of the success stories of what technology has done to give children greater independence and greater quality of life.

The following websites share some of the tools, resources, and personal stories of the positive impact AT can have:

For schools/individuals using Apple computers and Apple devices, the following website outlines Apple’s AT features

Summary of operating system features for people with disabilities:

Web Resources for AT in the Classroom

Learning Disability Resources

Assistive Technology Blog

No Limits to Learning Blog

This AT project has been an insightful project that touches on a variety of issues in school and public libraries and I think it is critical for librarians to be aware and knowledgeable about the learning, living, and entertainment needs of all patrons, including those with special needs.


AT #5 December 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — aimeethompson99 @ 9:33 AM

AT #5 Curriculum Connections

Responses to AT#5 Reflection Questions:

1.  What did I learn about assistive technology? In doing the hardware and software selections, I realized that there are a number of tools to assist students with disabilities and that technology really has expanded the possibilities for students with disabilities to function and excel in the classroom and in their daily lives.  I also learned several useful tips about low/high cost AT technology devices that are available.  I   was reminded of several strategies and tools that can be useful for “universal design” and inclusion of students with disabilities in the library setting.

What will I do differently? As a high school librarian, many of the students I work with have assistive technology in place by the time they reach grade 9.  I jump on board with whatever accommodations are requested.  I would like to be more involved in offering both hardware and software choices and recommendations that could assist these students. I did learn a lot about text-to-audio devices that can be beneficial to a number of students who have reading/writing disabilities or who read below grade level.  I plan on incorporating these selections into my library budget requests over the next few fiscal years.

2.  Do I recommend this tutorial? Yes, this tutorial in a blog format was easily accessible and helpful, but from time to time, the hyperlinks were not active and should be checked and updated.  I do feel that there is a lot more information out there, but these activities provided a solid overview.  I do wish that there was a tutorial directly related to library services and librarians.

3.  Recommended reading list:  I was happy to see a number of titles on the recommended reading list that I have read.  Some of the titles that I am familiar with that I readily recommend for YA readers include:

A Book of a Thousand Days

Al Capone Does My Shirts

A Child Called It

The Crazy Horse

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Flowers for Algernon

Freak the Mighty

The Giver


So Be It


Whale Talk


Readings Post December 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — aimeethompson99 @ 2:55 PM

Reading Reflection

Shelly Ch. 7

Evaluating Technology

One of the best resources I’ve found for providing useful evaluations of technology is through conferences and workshops.  Having the opportunity to trial technology tools and have colleagues provide personal accounts of the pros and cons if much more helpful than reading FAQs on a website or browsing catalogs.  Practical experience with technology in a classroom or library setting is exceptionally helpful in providing important feedback and perspective.

The listserve, MELIBS, that I subscribe to is also a helpful avenue for asking questions and opinions about technology in libraries.  The Shelly text recommends the EDTECH discussion list, which I haven’t tried before, but plan to.

The Shelly text (Ch. 7) lists several avenues for getting help with evaluating technology:

Professional organizations (state, local, regional, national, international)


Colleague recommendations

Published reviews


The Web

School districts and State departments

The Shelly text also highlights several sample rubrics for evaluation software as well as rubrics and checklists for both students and teachers to use in their lesson plans.  There are so many useful resources in this textbook that I wish we’d had more time to devote to some of these curriculum connections.

Shelly p. 444 also provides an Assistive Technology Tip sheet that is a good starting point for some of the content we’ve covered in the AT blog.


AT #4 Etiquette and Awareness December 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — aimeethompson99 @ 4:50 PM

AT #4 Etiquette and Awareness

Etiquette for working with people with disabilities:  One of the major points I want to remember and incorporate into my psyche is that “language should emphasize the person first, not the disability.”  I think that actual practice or simulations using this type of language would be helpful for educators.

The Etiquette Quiz brought to light quite a few scenarios that I have personally experienced, such as working with Deaf students and how to get their attention, or asking if a Deaf student understood something.

Tip of the day:  Don’t be embarrassed, just ask!

I found a number of useful references at the Maine Cite website, including links to demonstrations, local agencies, and assistive technology that is available for purchase, rental, or even available free in some cases.  One of the resources that was interesting included several articles and links to web accessibility: sites that are accessible, readable, and browse-able for people with disabilities as well as tips for web design that incorporates “universal design” models.

Annotation of Etiquette and Awareness Sites–I found these sites useful and informative:

1.  Teaching Students with Disabilities

Offers a succinct overview of types odisabilities and the types of accommodations a teacher can make to provide an inclusive and productive environment for all students.  Many of the accommodations are simple solutions that can have profound impact on a classroom environment.

2.  Ultimate Guide to Special Needs Teaching: 100+ Resources and Links

This site has a wealth of resources for working with students in a variety of settings.  The way the site is organized by type of disability is exceptionally useful.  There is information and resources on Social Interactions, Appropriate Language in the Classroom, Safety, the Importance of Life Skills, and tips and resources for Inviting Special Needs Students Into a Traditional Classroom.

3.  The Core Rules of Netiquette

This site offers detailed practical advice for a general audience on the core rules of online etiquette.  The concept of “remember the human” is especially important in an online environment.  The tips for using proper grammar and spelling, avoiding vulgar and obscene language, and the use of emoticons is covered in more detail, and examples are provided.  This is an excellent tool for use with students.

4.  RFC 1855: Netiquette Guidelines

This site offers detailed and comprehensive information about Internet etiquette and is a useful resource for Internet-savvy people who want to brush up on their own etiquette, in case they’ve been writing in ALL CAPS for their entire life.  Waiting overnight to reply to an e-mail is also an insightful reminder.

5.  Social Netiquette for Social Networking

This site offers good suggestions for using a variety of social networking tools including Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Ning, and more.  Some of the general rules of Internet etiquette are the same, but there are some rules for social networking that are unique to certain applications:  the “poke,” “friend requests,” “tags,” “twittering,” “shouts,” and more.  A good rule of thumb is to lurk and see what a particular site is doing before jumping in.

As a high school librarian, I need to do more to instruct students in social networking etiquette.  These sites offer some great starting points for ideas for future information literacy lessons.