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Archive for the ‘Skills’ Category

The TechDis voices are young English voices which are free to use for all post 16 students and staff. You can find more information on how to register here.

Once you have registered there are some things you need to be aware of so you can either install the voices yourself or ask your IT department. All the information is in this short video.

Installing The Voice – What You Need to Know from JISC TechDis on Vimeo.

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One of the sections of toolbox is focussed on planning. However, like all the resource son toolbox they can also be found via the ‘Different Needs’ section.  For example under the Memory and Concentration section you will find lots of ideas to help to keep you on track of your work or to jog your memory when you need to remember to do a certain task.    Using sticky notes which are part of the Windows 7 operating system is a good way to keep  a reminder on your screen – until you’ve got the chance to actually do your task.

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Common Craft are a small company comprised of Lee and Sachii LeFever who produce some short, succinct and brilliant explanatory videos from their base in Seattle on the West Coast of the United States.  I’ve been a fan since the first one hit YouTube in 2007.  RSS in plain English does exactly what the title says – it explains RSS feeds in a simple and easy to understand way.  I’m still astonished that there are many technology aware adults who still do not use RSS feeds – they will save you so much time!!

Since 2007 they’ve grown and expanded and now have a subscription model for use of their work.  We’re delighted here at TechDis to be account holders and there are a number of Common Craft videos on the Toolbox site.

So for those who still don’t understand RSS Feeds – here is the first ground breaking video from Common Craft.

http://www.commoncraft.com/video/rss

To coin a phrase used in the UK – it does exactly what it says on the tin!

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Last week I was fortunate to attend the International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs (ICCHP) at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria.  We (Techdis) ran a special thematic session with the focus on putting the disabled student in charge.  After some welcoming speeches to both the conference and the region (Upper Austria) we kicked off with two excellent keynotes from both Gerhard Widmer and Kevin Carey.  The first was on using computers to understand access and interact with music.  He showed the ‘performance worm’ which gave a visual representation of a piece of music and you could compare the same piece played by different performers.  Kevin Carey is the Chair of the RNIB and he gave an impassioned speech on the need for author engineered public domain documents. All the keynote sessions and our track sessions had simultaneous sign and text translations for the audience.

Unfortunately the session overran which had a knock on effect for the rest of the day.  I chaired the next two sessions and we had some brilliant papers from all over the world.  Highlights for me included practical solutions for teaching and research with deaf or hard of hearing students,  a project for teaching blind children music from Brazil and two examples of localised installations of Robobraille, one for Danish schools and one at Stanford University.

There were two papers from Poorna Kushalnagar who discussed community based participatory approach in research with practical examples from within the deaf and hard of hearing community, and on research using eye gaze technology to inform those who are delivering to users who need either signed or text interpretation.  Both papers had concrete and practical solutions to making a difference for users and teaching/lecture staff.

Dolores Tomé  gave a great introduction to the use of braille for teaching blind children music in Brazil.  She spoke in Portuguese while José Borges did a simultaneous translation into English – this was also translated to signs and text – a first for  me at least!   José Borges then explained how they use the musibraille software to teach music to blind children.  They concluded their session with an invitation to the 2016 Paralympic games in Rio de Janeiro.

Sean Keegan from Stanford University in the USA explained how they had built a Robobraille installation for the staff and students at Stanford.  This freed up the specialist staff so they could concentrate on creating alternative formats for the less straight forward documentation.  The Danish government have also implemented a Robobraille installation for their schools across the country as explained by Lars Christienson which has supported the integration of visually impaired students into mainstream education.

We had two papers to deliver on the first day.  One was from my colleague Alistair McNaught suggesting an alternative approach to alternative formats.  In this he emphasises the myth of responsibility with librarians being ideally placed to offer alternative formats from publishers – with a good plug for our publisher look up site.  The other paper was highlighting the work done at National Star College in the development of InStep a video assessment tool based on InFolio.

On Thursday morning I discussed the work we have done on the TechDis Toolbox and demonstrated both TechDis Jess and TechDis Jack.  I was slightly astonished to discover that despite this being a Universal Learning Design track no delegate there was aware of how to use reflow and autoscroll in Adobe reader.

The conference dinner on Thursday evening was well attended and accompanied by one of the keynotes – Bruno Bechburger who is not only a Professor of Mathematics but also an excellent clarinetist.

As with many conferences the discussion and networking during the coffee breaks was as useful as the more formal proceedings and I made many very useful contacts from both home and abroad.  The next ICCHP will be in Paris in 2014 but I am looking towards the next ULD conference at the University of Masaryk in Brno – in February next year.

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The TechDis Toolbox has a range of resources which show how you can enhance your experience of browsing the web.  Internet Explorer has some paid for resources – such as CleanPage which reduces the clutter on the page making it easier to read.  It can be downloaded and trialled for free for 30 days.

iespell is free to use and will enable you to check any spelling of any text on a web page.

 

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The TechDis Toolbox has information on plug ins for the most popular types of browser.  Mozilla Firefox has a number of accessibility extensions that you can download to make browsing easier.  These include Reader for Firefox, which removed all the clutter from the page which could cause distractions.

Text to Voice is another plug in which does exactly that – turns text on the screen into audio that you can listen to. It also has a video download plug in which means you can download content you have found and view it again on a mobile device or offline.

Examples of these can be seen in the video below.

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One of the main sections in the TechDis Toolbox is on organisation and planning.  This deals with managing your messages, information and time.  There are some real gems in here but one of the finest is a short video on ‘getting things done’ – simple tips to help you make a start on those difficult jobs you’re reluctant to even look at!

For those who haven’t realised ‘A Round Tuit’ is something that you need before to start to do a job as in – I’ll begin that report when I get ‘around to it’.

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