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.


Pulse Smartpen by Livescribe

This is a perfect example of when a product purchased off the shelf can become assistive technology! The LiveScribe Pulse Pen records and links audio to what you write so you don't miss a single word of what you want to capture. Do you know someone who struggles keeping up with taking notes or do you find that you do better remembering material if you listen as writing is too cumbersome and only gets in the way of being able to absorb the information? If so, you may want to investigate this little device. If you are an auditory learner, high school just got easier!

The Pulse smartpen is a computer within a pen that captures handwriting and simultaneously records audio and synchronizes it to the writing. To get it going tap on your notes to replay what was recorded from the exact moment they were writing. With pre-printed controls at the bottom of the dot paper notebooks, they can fast forward, rewind, jump ahead, pause or even speed up or slow down the audio recordings to easily access information. All of this information, including the audio, can then be uploaded into your computer to save, search for keywords or share with friends, colleagues and classmates. Pretty amazing, huh?

As reported by Business Wire: "LiveScribe has developed a new low-cost mobile computing platform that enhances productivity, learning, communication and self expression for anyone that uses pen and paper. The Pulse smartpen revolutionizes the act of writing by recording and linking audio to handwriting, so users never miss a word. Livescribe was founded by Jim Marggraff, the inventor of paper-based computing."

The Pulse smartpen is available in two models. Under $200 for both models which come in either the 2GB model, which provides storage for over 100 hours of recorded audio or the 4GB model doubles the storage capacity and provides more flexibility for downloading future applications. Accessories for the Pulse smartpen are available including a leather case or two-pack of journals available in black or red and a charger station

Pulse is available in the electronics section at Target stores nationwide, Costco wholesale stores nationwide (best price and bundle available is on-line), as well as Amazon, LiveScribe and major campus bookstores. 
This was originally made for Windows (XP and Vista) but is now available in a Mac version.

To explore this tool further, visit their site at www.livescribe.com

More information can be found about ideas for using the Pulse Pen as Assistive Technology on
Tim Fahlberg's site. He has some great ideas to share with how to use the pen in an educational setting.

Enjoy these Ideas for use in the Classroom to Support Special Needs:

  • Taking notes in class as opposed to trying to keep up with handwritten notes. Record through the Pulse Pen while just outlining the lecture on the LiveScribe composition books (and then upload to the website). Talking notes.
  • Recording and listening to notes before a test so to become familiar with the vocabulary needed/required.
  • Write part/Record part of assignments when challenged with writing.
  • Talking Labels- use to create flashcards (question on one side/answer on the other or a visual i.e. word, math fact, etc. on a single side, with the answer only available as speech i.e. touch the answer dot), site words, or put on objects around a room to make them talk for VI and/or ELL students.
  • Record steps in new daily activities such as directions for doctors, directions for meds, task analyze a new task and record step-by-step how to perform the task. (taping the square of LiveScribe paper right onto his prescription bottles), etc.
  • AAC - make "talking icons" using the recording dots for non-verbal students (especially those with autism may find this an exciting alternative.)
  • AAC- make a talking scene, grid or core word board. An alphabet page could even be integrated.
  • Have teachers record their tests for students to hear the questions without needing an adult reader.
  • Talking picture books can be made by printing pulse paper on labels and stick the labels on the pages. 
  • Make a Talking Word Wall in the classroom.
  • Design talking recipe cards.  
  • Make a talking photo album.
Oh, and so much more. This is a rich tool!
The SmartPen Blog offers further ideas worth exploring.  
Be sure to check out this listing of Educational Uses. This is a nicely organized listing!

For the visual/auditory learners, view this: