New assistive technology research focuses on iPad, communication skills

3. “Interactive Storybooks for Deaf Kindergarteners.” Researchers Becky Sue Parton and Robert Hancock of Southeast Louisiana University, and Dan Hoffman and Curt Radford of Lamar University, have partnered with Burton Vision to study how storybook sharing can serve as a bridge between American Sign Language (ASL) and the language of English print books for deaf children. Conceptually, the project aims to use a real book in combination with a mobile computer so that deaf children and their parents can have story time in a more natural way while developing both languages and tracking progress.

For young deaf children who receive information primarily through ASL and are learning to read and write in English proficiently, a system similar to Accelerated Reader does not exist, according to the project’s abstract. To address this issue, the researchers have designed a project called MBA Bound. (“MBA” stands for “Multimedia Books & Assessment.”)

The system includes a hard-copy book with embedded radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, an RFID reader, a netbook, modified LAMBERT software designed to launch video clips of the story in ASL, and specialized Burton Vision software for students and teachers to use in assessing book comprehension. Team members will partner with six schools for the deaf to test the MBA Bound project for its feasibility and its effect, if any, on storybook comprehension.

4. “Seeing the Possibilities with Videophone Technology.” Researchers Judith Emerson, John Bishop, and Linda McDowell of the University of Southern Mississippi, and Toni Hollingsworth of the Mississippi Deaf-Blind Project, have partnered with Sorenson Communications to implement a face-to-face social networking program for students with deaf-blindness who often lack opportunities to develop meaningful relationships because of the challenges that combined hearing and vision loss create for connecting with other people and accessing information.

The term “deaf-blind” brings to mind a person such as Helen Keller, but in reality, deaf-blindness has many forms and affects learning differently for each person, the project’s abstract states. Deaf-blindness does not refer to a total inability to see or hear, and many individuals with dual sensory impairment have some residual vision and/or hearing. The project aims to provide evidence that, with the use of Sorenson Videophone Technology, students who are deaf-blind are capable of benefiting from available technological innovations.

To read about the projects in more detail, click here.

“As you can see from the winners that were chosen, most of the project proposals we received dealt with communication skills,” said Tracy Gray, NCTI’s director. “We believe that being able to communicate with peers and with others, not only in a classroom, but on a much larger scale, is becoming increasingly important to students and younger generations—and the technology and interest in the field is reflecting this.”

The winning teams will be highlighted in upcoming NCTI case studies and will share preliminary findings from their research at the 2010 Technology Innovators Conference in Washington, D.C., Nov. 15-16.

“We know that too few children with disabilities are learning with technology that could help them achieve greater academic success, as well as independence,” said Gray. “This [affects] their academic future, as well as [their] quality of life. The competition is a major vehicle we use to bring awareness to the educational community about the value of AT for learning.”



Tech in the Works 2010

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the Communication and Collaboration for More Effective School Management resource center. The ability to work together on group projects is seen as an increasingly important skill for the 21st-century workplace, and a growing number of schools are rewriting their curriculum to include opportunities for students to communicate and collaborate as a result.
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Communication and Collaboration for More Effective School Management

Meris Stansbury

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