Friday, November 27, 2009

Module 3- Software evaluation

Four types of assistive technology software packages were evaluated.  The evaluation follows as well as a brief review of each.

Software name: Inspiration®,
Company: Inspiration
Price: $39.95-$895.00
Purpose of program: To promote visual learning and thinking and encourage multiple modes of learning.
Special needs addressed in the program: All learning needs especially those of visual learners
Features: Inspiration is used to plan class projects, activities, lessons and units- offers visual tools, graphic organizers to aid teachers in planning and teaching.  Gives students many ways to investigate, analyze, and represent data and information, applies visual learning methodologies
Positive aspects: Easy to use and navigate
Negative aspects: Pictures are a little difficult to search through and small
Ease of use, directions clear: Help screen is clearly organized
Overall review: I think that this could be a useful tool, though cost should be weighed with need in the school environment and other tools available
Software name: Kurzweil 3000TM
Company: Kurzweil Educational Systems
Price: $395.00-$2695.00
Purpose of program: To improve students' ability to read.  Comprehensive reading, writing and learning software.
Special needs addressed in the program: Any struggling reader, including individuals with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or those who are English Language Learners.
Features: Curriculum access, highlighting, text circle tools, annotations, Bookmarks, Voice Notes and Extract in order to create outlines, study guides, or word lists.  Reads the words aloud to the student in clear, humanlike, synthetic speech.
Positive aspects: Research seems to be on their side, increases reading fluency, decoding support, and has writing and self editing tools
Negative aspects: Download did not work, so I am not sure
Ease of use, directions clear: Not sure- download was not successful
Overall review: This software seems like a great tool for many types of struggling readers and the research seems to support the fact that it works. 

Software name: infoeyes
Company: ivocalize
Price: $30 to $3,000 a month
Purpose of program: The goal of this project is to create a model for a collaborative, multi-state, accessible information community to the visually impaired.
Special needs addressed in the program: Visual impairment
Features: Question and answer service for people with a visual impairment or other print limitation.
Positive aspects: Seems like a great tool for the visually impaired and it gives them access to information that they may not have normally been able to access.
Negative aspects: Have to schedule an appointment, not too many libraries involved
Ease of use, directions clear: With some searching, they are clear and it seems easy to use
Overall review: This company has fabulous tools, though they may not be as useful as the other tools in a school environment

Software name: Windows Vista
Company: Microsoft
Price: Free
Purpose of program: Operating system that offers accessibility options
Special needs addressed in the program: All needs seem to be addressed in one way o another
Features: Narrator, Audio description, Keyboard shortcuts and tools, Text Magnifier, Mouse options, Speech to text
Positive aspects: Free- already built into the system
Negative aspects: Narrator wasn’t always right on, features may not address specific learning needs
Ease of use, directions clear: Windows offers a huge amount of support and help
Overall review: These tools are fabulous and free and can be used to accommodate a variety of learners.  I honestly never knew some of the tools were available.  A great resource.

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