Thursday, February 27, 2014

AT for College Students

You’ve done it! You’re done with high school and on to the next step in your educational career… college! 

College can be a big leap from high school and sometimes there is a transitional period for students to adjust. From getting accustomed to your new schedule and campus to learning good study methods, assistive technology can often help students succeed in their pursuit of a degree.

When it comes to
assistive technology (AT) in college, students don't always know what AT is available that can help them with studying or learning in the classroom. AT can come in many forms. Some popular examples include: the Livescribe Smartpen, JAWS Screen Reading Software, and Dragon Dictation.

picture of pen, ipad and notes and a women using them to study.  Written out on the page it says notes and audio
Livescribe Sky Wifi Smartpen
The Livescribe Sky Wifi Smartpen has become extremely useful AT that helps students in various ways. When you use this pen combined with the Livescribe’s Dot Paper, not only is the audio of the lecture captured, but the strokes and movements of your pen are recorded too and both the audio and writing are synced up together.  So, for instance, if you were to go back in your lecture notes and press down with the pen on something you wrote down earlier, it will play the audio from that point on that was recorded. This is a great way to catch everything that you may have missed while taking notes in a lecture! 

Another really cool feature is that if you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network, your notes and audio recordings will automatically be uploaded to your very own free online Evernote account with a “Sync Now” button. So with only one push of a button, all of your notes will be uploaded online!The Livescribe pen ranges in price from $149.95 for a 2GB of memory which holds 200 hours of audio, $199.95 for a 4GB version that holds 400 hours of audio and a 8GB version that holds 800 hours of audio for $249.95.

As colleges become more and more technologically advanced, they are starting to support online syllabuses, projects and assignments, and more teachers are starting to utilize online classroom resources. With tasks like these, software like JAWS Screen Reading can make the online experience of classes easier. JAWS was developed for people with low vision but can be used by many individuals with a variety of different disabilits. When you receive emails
picture of a young man in front of a computer with JAWs program on it typing
JAWS screen reading program
or homework assignments that are posted online, JAWS will read aloud word for word what is on your screen. JAWS also provides tools for navigating and accessing web pages as well as ways to look up definitions or terms. Or, if you’re taking a break from studying, you can even check out the score of your local sports team's game! Prices for JAWS very. If you were to get the professional JAWS program it will be about $1,095 but this allows you to use JAWS with almost all operating systems such as Windows XP, 95, 98, 2000, ME, and more. The standard JAWS program is $895 and allows you to work with Windows 9x and Windows XP home addition.

The last bit of AT that I want to mention is Dragon Naturally Speaking which is the best voice command and dictation out there. If you need any assistance with typing, Dragon may be the program for you! It translates your voice to text very accurately and with incredible speed. Furthermore, the more that you use the program the smarter it will become as it learns your personal words and can predict their context. Dragon comes with a tutorial that helps you learn the
picture of a young woman with a headset on and a laptop on her lap
Student using Dragon -
program right after installing it. Are you expecting emails from your professor, too? You can also use Dragon to navigate and type out emails in Gmail and Hotmail, so that way you can stay in constant contact with your professors, your family and friends. The prices of Dragon Naturally Speaking range from $75.00 - $150 for a home package all the way up to $800 for the professional version.   

These are just a few examples of some AT that can be available to help ease students into their academic life at college. In the comments section below we’d love to hear what AT you use in school or what has assisted you in succeeding in your classes. Good luck with spring semester everyone - it will fly by!

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