What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology is any kind of technology and/or tool that can be used to enhance the functional independence of a person with a disability. Often, for people with disabilities, accomplishing daily tasks such as communicating with others, going to school or work, or participating in activities can be a challenge. Assistive Technology (AT) devices are tools to help overcome those challenges and enable people living with disabilities to enhance and have access to a quality of life, that may otherwise not be known, and lead more independent lives.

The mission of this blog is to serve as a voice of a constant researcher in the field of educational and assistive technologies so that the best products, strategies and services may be located easily, in hopes that they will then be delivered, taught and used to better the lives of people with disabilities.


Talking PowerPoint Books

Use PowerPoint as a way to provide information or as a method for demonstrating knowledge, either way, it can be a very powerful program.

Using PowerPoint to develop accessible books is a wonderful approach that is perfect on any teacher's budget!! Buy a mic and make it into a talking PowerPoint! For younger students this is a great method for providing information, for older students it is a great way to have them demonstrate their knowledge. It is an ageless approach in any educational setting.

For students with severe disabilities, teachers can design presentation books for supporting the concept of cause and effect using switch access while accessing the core curriculum. You can use PowerPoint Stories to reinforce concepts being learned or for presenting social stories. Use
PowerPoint to read books to students to reinforce the reading process or have students develop their own talking PowerPoint presentations as a report format or to make storybooks for younger students.

PowerPoint is available on most computers, is familiar to many people, and is easier to learn than some of the specialized software for special education. However, to create ‘talking’ materials required recording time—and a quiet space in which to record! But now we can use PowerTalk. PowerTalk is a free download for Windows that speaks the text of any PowerPoint presentation. Once the program is downloaded, simply right click on the PowerPoint file you would like to run and choose “Narrate with PowerTalk.” For more information and to download, visit the PowerTalkWeb site.  

Developing PowerPoint Books is a form of making accessible books. Accessible Books are children’s picture books in accessible formats.
  • Books are scanned and images added to accessible software.
  • Text is recorded using digitized (human reader) or synthesized (computer speech) speech.
  • The graphics, text and narration are then available for reading on computer or touch devices.
  • The student may use assistive technology to access the books.
Books for the collection are chosen based on the following criteria:

  • Comprehension enhanced through pictures.
  • Recommended children’s literature.
  • Curriculum content at early reading levels.
  • Locally relevant content for any age group.
So, how do you do this in PowerPoint? Create the slides as you always do and just add sound. When viewed, the slides become pages in a book with the added special feature of sound. Creating the Talking Books can be an individual or group project in or for your class. Any age level can write a book centered on curriculum material and shared with other groups.

Talking Books combine text and speech to help develop reading skills. They have application with young learners, remedial reading and students with severe disabilities or learning disabilities. The basic idea is to create some text on a PowerPoint slide and them attach recorded sounds to the text. As the user clicks on the text (or moves the cursor over it) the words are read aloud. To view talking books created with PowerPoint, you either need to have PowerPoint software installed on your computer or PowerPoint Viewer (which is FREE!) in Windows and Mac versions.

SET-BC has provided these videos:
There are some talking stories on-line that you may wish to explore as examples. You may also wish to use these with your students. (Some of the following are using Flash instead of PowerPoint but the same type of presentations may be designed in PowerPoint.)
There are several on-line step-by-step guides for developing Talking PowerPoint. Find the one that you feel is the easiest to follow and begin your adventure!
Resources for digital images:
Other Resources and Ideas:
Graphics and Multi-Media Websites:
HIAT has a great lists of resources of graphics and multi-media websites that may be used freely. Always remember copyright laws when using graphics. It is not legal to use just any picture you find on the Internet without breaking these laws.

PowerPoint it! It is a great way to produce for students and to have students produce for others. It is a program we greatly under use!

Have fun. It is amazing what one can do with the small price of a computer microphone. 

All of the books in the poster above, are available to download as accessible PowerPoint files from the Books For All Scotland Database. Login to the Call Scotland Database to download it straight to your computer.