AT Tip of Week Archives

These tips will cover a variety of areas, devices and tools. Most of the tips will focus on low or no cost AT. We hope these will be helpful for you or others you work with in your schools, districts, at home or in your workplace. Please feel free to send us any tips that you feel would be helpful for others.

Brought to you by:
Carolann Cormier and Nicole Natale
TABS- Special Services Support Team
Capitol Region Education Council


Week of 5/2/2019

We came across this website on the list serve.

This site gives you open source (read: free!) materials for 3-printing your own customizable keyguards for your students. Keyguards provide easier motor access to devices for students with motoric issues since they physically separate regions of tablets, etc. Most high schools (and some middle schools) have 3-d printers nowadays. Check out this site and design your own customized keyguard for very little money. If you don’t have access to a 3-d printer (check out a local Maker Space too and some town libraries have them as well), you can send out your customized design to the company and they will print them for you – still at a fraction of the cost of typical customized keyguards.

Week of 3/4/2019

Don Johnston has added new features to Co:Writer. There is a new test mode for students who use writing accommodations on the state assessment. Allowable testing accommodations can be set for some or all of your students.

  • Automatically adjusts settings to comply with assessments in every state
  • No need to manage how educators adjust features to comply with testing
  • No additional installation or student users required
  • No text is sent to the cloud—eliminating any risk of compromising test security
  • Students retain all of the settings they’re accustomed to (fonts, colors, etc.). “Test Mode” only changes features disallowed by each test
Co:Writer has also added word by word translation. Get word-by-word translation in 25+ languages. Write in your first language, and Co:Writer will translate in real time—right in the sentence. You can also hit the microphone button and speak the words. Co:Writer will translate automatically.

Check out the new features on the Don Johnston website by following this link:

Week of 02/11/2019

As you all may know, given the ever-changing nature of technology, it is now more important than ever to ensure that the tools we use with students comply with CT’s data privacy laws, especially for students who have IEPs and 504 plans. For more information about CT’s general statutes regarding data privacy, click here.

There was a change to CT’s laws through Public Act 18-125 that allows school districts to apply a narrow exception to the requirements for students with special needs (I.e., IEP and 504 plans)? The responsibility for determining what technology should be used with students with IEPs and 504 plans should lie within the planning and placement team, NOT technology directors.

The following information was put forth as guidance from the state of CT (Doug Casey) to all school districts. As advocates for your students’ technology use, we strongly encourage you to work with your school districts to ensure that you’re meeting compliance with the state law and the reporting requirements listed below. Click here for a sample parent sign off for exceptions provided by the SDE.

Reporting Requirements:

“Beginning in the 2018 – 19 school year, all local or regional boards of education must, by the end of the school year, submit a report to the Commission for Educational Technology (CET) concerning their use of online software used under the new exemption in PA 18-125. That is, districts must report on whether or not they use software for IEPs and 504s under this exemption. In cases where they do exercise this option, they must provide details of the software used and attest to the following assurances:

  • Software terms comply with FERPA
  • District has attempted to enter into a compliant contract with operator
  • Cannot find a an equivalent, compliant Internet web site, online service or mobile application
  • Operator complies with Section 10-234cc
  • Student’s parent or legal guardian and a member of the planning and placement team sign an agreement that acknowledges the above and authorizes use of the software”

Week of 1/21/2019

As part of G Suite Accessibility you are now able to turn on Closed Captioning within Google Slides, and what you say will be transcribed in real time. When you begin the presentation, click the “CC” button in the navigation box (or use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + c in Chrome OS / Windows or ⌘ + Shift + c in Mac) to turn on Closed Captioning. The first time you do this, it will ask for permission to access your microphone. You can find directions on how to use closed captioning here
Two individuals, on the team responsible for this feature, wrote a Blog post about their motivation behind building these features into G Suite.
At present, the transcribed speech is not saved into your Slides presentation. However, you could use something like Screencastify (a free screen recorder for Chrome) to record your presentation with the closed captioning being recorded.
Having real-time closed captioning can be wonderful for many individuals that are viewing the slides, including those with hearing impairments, reading disabilities (to reinforce the text/speech relationship), learning English, attention issues and a method of presenting information in a multimodality manner. Google is hoping to expand this service to additional languages (presently it is only available in English) and devices in the future.
Enjoy using this feature and let us know if you find other ways to use it.

Week of 12/3/2018

We hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving holiday. Our latest tip shows you how to use a Rocketbook notebook and OCR recognition in Google Drive to convert handwritten notes from your notebook into editable text in Google Docs. The Rocketbook notebook is one of our favorite new tools and we’re very excited to find new ways to use it with Google Drive. This tip comes from Assistive Technology for Education on Facebook. Watch the video on how this works.

Also, please join us for our next AT consortium meeting on 12/10/18. We also have a workshop on Assistive Technology for Students with Dyslexia at CREC on 12/5/18. We hope to see you soon and wish you a smooth return to school from your holiday break.

Week of 5/31/2018

With summer just around the corner, we thought it may be helpful to share a resource with you that we use for ongoing Professional Development on the fly: Book Camp PD is actually a Twitter hashtag (#BookcampPD). It meets every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. and a new educational book is discussed. You can also start your own professional learning communities with this hashtag as well. There are some great discussions to be read and had.

Other hashtags we follow:

Not on Twitter? Say what you will about the social media site – but it’s a wealth of information for professional learning. Here’s a beginner’s guide, should you need one (note that the character limit has been doubled to 280!)

Also, don’t forget to follow CREC’s AT Services on Twitter too: @CREC_ATech!

Week of 4/23/2018

AutoDraw is a tool that uses artificial intelligence to guess what you’re trying to draw. You start with a blank screen, begin sketching something, and AutoDraw gives you a strip of professionally illustrated images to choose from, based on what the tool thinks you’re trying to draw.

Every time you add more detail to your own sketch, AutoDraw’s guesses change. When you see an image that matches what you’re going for, you can choose it, then add color, resize it, or basically manipulate it however you want. If you choose to, you can turn OFF the automatic feature and just sketch without any assistance. You can automatically download your creations as a PNG file, share it on Twitter or Facebook, or grab a unique URL and share it that way. If you want students to add doodles to their notes, and they get frustrated with their own drawing skills, this tool can help. If you like to add icons or illustrations to your classroom materials, but you don’t have the time to create your own or look all over the Internet for pre-made ones, this tool can help. I am a terrible artist but I love adding visuals to my presentations and other teaching materials.

Check out my drawing using

Week of 3/26/2018

New Snap & Read Universal and Co:Writer Universal Chrome Extension Features
Have you seen the new features in Snap & Read and Co:Writer? New features have been released this week. Snap and Read added a PDF editor to its options. Users can type on a PDF and save or print the annotations. Co:Writer has added a more powerful word prediction which allows writers to access more accurate word choices without the need to create a topic dictionary. This new word prediction can also easily switch between topics. For more information, click here to check out the new website!

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