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Friday, January 31, 2014

iOS Accessibility: Solutions for Individuals with Learning Disabilities

What is iOS?

iOS is a mobile operating system that was created by Apple.  It was originally released for
the iPhone in 2007 and is now available on iPods, iPads and second-generation Apple TV.  iOS offers a range of free assistive features that can help individuals with learning disabilities.

What Are Some Useful iOS Features that Accommodate Individuals with LDs?

1.    Speak Selection: When Speak Selection is turned on, text can be read aloud by your device using one of numerous voice options.  In addition, the reading speed can be adjusted and a word highlighting option can help readers to follow the words across the text. This can be very useful when editing your emails, texts and more!

·     How to Access: Settings > General > Accessibility.  You can also ask Siri to turn this feature on or off.
·      Demonstrationhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECvd87xfVjA

2.    Dictionary:  Quickly define any written or spoken word. 

·     How to Access:  This feature is built into the device.  You can ask Siri to define a word or hold your finger on a word to reveal the dictionary option.  As an added bonus, you can even ask Siri for a synonym.
 ·     Demonstrationhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBn7WUyJkZc

3.    Dictation: This feature offers speech to text.  Simply tap on the microphone icon, express your thoughts and the needed punctuation, and watch the sentences appear on your screen.

 ·     How to Access: This is automatically available wherever you see the microphone icon on the keyboard (next to the spacebar) – email, texting, documents.
 ·     Demonstration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6z1k0EO0hA

4.    Change Text Size:  It’s easy to change the text size.  Simply pinch your thumb and pointing finger and place it on the screen.  Now drag your fingers apart on the screen to make the words and images larger.  Pull your fingers back together to make it smaller again.  You can also adjust the text sizes permanently in settings.

·      How to Access: Settings > General > Text Size
·      Demonstration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OlZ-nydctg

5.    Speak Auto-text: This feature will enable the device to automatically speak aloud any auto-corrections.

·      How to AccessSettings > General > Accessibility
·      Demonstrationhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kghLq26RMhA 

6.    Voiceover: If you have trouble seeing or reading the screen, voiceover will guide you with words that describe what you are doing.  Once this feature is turned on (see below), all you have to do is, tap once to select an item, tap twice to activate the item, and swipe three fingers to scroll.  Also if you use Maps with Voiceover – it will verbalize your location as well as the directions.

·     How to Access: Settings > General > Accessibility.  Here you can also alter the voice and change the speed.
·     Demonstrationhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sukZIHJrHNc

How Can I Stay Informed?

To stay abreast of apples iOS features, be sure to Bookmark their accessibility page:

Other Cool iOS 7 Features:

·      Demonstration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0i2RRQUZE1E
·      Demonstration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7Ea-72I8QY

I hope you found this helpful. 

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She isalso the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Improving Working Memory

Many people believe that one's Intelligence Quotient or IQ will define an individual's personal and academic achievement.  However, did you know that working memory is a stronger predictor of success than IQ?

What is working memory?
You are using your working memory right now as you read this article and encode the information. Working memory is our ability to comprehend, listen, take notes, and remember a sequence of events or steps in a math problem.  Examples of poor working memory are: 
  • A young student may read a word and forget it a few lines later.
  • An older student may be following a lecture until he is distracted by another student’s question and forgets what he has just heard.
It is important to know if your student (or even a spouse or employee) is ignoring directions/requests or if they have a weak working memory.

The Problem with Repetitive Instruction:
In her book, “Improving Working Memory: Supporting Students’ Learning,” Tracy Packiam Alloway states that in a recent study with students from ages 8-11, who received repetitive instructional support, that the participants were still performing at the bottom of the class two years later.  Drilling academics without improving working memory is like entering a bike race with flat tires.  If we don’t develop working memory skills (blow up the tires), the process of learning academics will be a very uncomfortable and bumpy ride.

How Can We Develop Working Memory?
Working memory can be increased with intensive cognitive training.   Let’s give our students the capacity to learn!  When I work with students, each session offers exercises that help learners understand what processing speed, working memory, and long term memory retrieval really feels like.  The following video begins with a basic processing exercise and then moves to a working memory exercise. Take a minute to watch this.  Improving Working Memory Video  

How did you do?

Some Other Options:
  • Now, take a deck of playing cards or the game Blink and simply see how quickly you can say the cards you see. I encourage you to time yourself on all of these exercises. This is your processing speed.
  • Now, alternate the cards and say the number of the first card, the color of the second card, and the shape (suit) of the third card as demonstrated in the video with the Blink cards. This is your working memory! Did you feel it?
  • Next, remove the face cards (K, J, Q, and A) and say the number you see on the first card (equal), then add +1 to the second card, and then subtract -1 to the third card.
How’d you do?

Keep Practicing:
As adults, most activities are simply routine or automatic. When students are holding two or more directions/steps in their mind and performing a task, they are using their working memory. Practice the exercises at home or at school every day for the next 8 weeks and watch your working memory improve!

By Carol Brown