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.

Sunday

Reading Websites for Young Readers

Learning to read starts with being exposed to great books. Reading should be fun and intimate. The Internet has become such a rich resource that software is rarely needed any longer and I guess this could be the only exposure a child has to books, but I sure hope not! Part of learning to read is the intimacy that comes from sharing a good book. Not just reading it but discussing it, talking about the pictures, relating it to your life. Books on the computer should be in addition to sitting and sharing a good book together, not a replacement. If you are looking for sites to support reading, here are some of my favorites:
  • Andersen’s Fairy Tales has links to Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, games about the tales and information about the author. 
  • Between the Lions is based on the PBS show Between the Lions.  It has great stories, with the words underneath.  for students to watch.  There are also games based on these stories. 
  • Bitesize is a UK website that offers reading games and lessons on a variety of topics.  The KeyStage 1 site has lessons on phonics, spelling, alphabetical order, and rhyming words.  The KeyStage 2 site has lessons on deductions, poetry, dictionary and finding information. 
  • Elementary Place has many topics that interest kids and for each topic, there is a story where kids get to make the decisions. There are also activities and a list of books about each topic. 
  • Literactive provides reading material for pre-school, kindergarten and grade 1 students available online. The program is comprised of carefully leveled guided readers, comprehensive phonic activities and a wealth of supplemental reading material which gradually develop a child's reading skills in a sequential and enjoyable manner.
  • MightyBook helps kids discover the joy of reading with hundreds of animated, read-aloud story books and songs that are as entertaining as they are educational.  This is a great way to expose students to quality audio books and is perfect for ESL students.
  • There are sites like Night Light Stories that offers Podcasts (recordings) with tons of great original stories, and all are great for audio comprehension.  The Night Light Stories offers comprehension/thinking questions and vocabulary words on the blog accompanying the story. 
  • One More Story is an online library of the best of children's illustrated books set to music and read aloud to you or you may chose to read them yourself. Original music and sound effects for each book are produced by the former Sesame Street Music Director. The One More Story team selects and produces books for their library with the goal of offering a digital and interactive point of entry for young children to experience literature before they can read on their own.
  • Oxford Owl is a collection of free children’s ebooks for kids ages 3-11.  Each ebook has accompanying audio so that students can choose to read along, or read independently.  The books also have activities that focus on reading comprehension and story recall.  There are several options for filtering the ebooks so that students can find just the right story including by age, by book type, and by series.  In addition to the ebooks on the site, you can find fun activities and recommendations for each age group, games to print and play, and online games with characters from the books and site. 
  • Read To Me is a nonprofit site for online read alouds, and book lesson plans with discussion questions. Many of the titles on this site are different from titles available on the other read aloud sites. Children storybooks are read aloud by celebrities and storytellers. You can watch books and download lesson plans for learning.
  • Reading Champion is an iPad app, by TextHelp, designed to help young, struggling readers improve their reading skills. It can be used to boost a child’s reading ability in school or at home, independently or alongside an adult. The App not only encourages children to practice and improve their reading, but also increases their reading enjoyment. 
  • Reading Planet  has several sections to it. One to really explore is the Book Zone where you can  watch and listen to animated stories and songs. Also the Author & Illustrator Q&As which allows you to read all about your favorite authors and illustrators, ask them questions, and find out how to send them fan mail.
  • Starfall is designed for teaching beginning readers, starting with letter recognition and moving all the way to reading simple books with support. This site is a favorite of teachers. Available via an iPad app also.
  • StoryBot has you put your child in the story by inserting their picture. Your child then stars in videos, songs and stories.

  • StoryLineOnLine offers books read by actors in support of the Screen Actors' Guild. You will see the pages and the print of each book as it is read. This is a great way to expose children to audio books and hear rich reading while following along. The books rotate so be sure to check back often. 
  • Story Place offers interactive digital stories and activities, available in English and in Spanish!!) StoryPlace came about to provide children with the virtual experience of going to the library and participating in the same types of activities the library offers. StoryPlace currently consists of two libraries, the Preschool Library and Elementary Library
  • Tar Heel Reader a collection of free, easy-to-read, and accessible books on a wide range of topics. Each book can be speech enabled and accessed using multiple interfaces, including touch screens, the IntelliKeys with custom overlays, and 1 to 3 switches. You may write your own books using pictures from the huge collection at Flickr or pictures you upload. Now available to use on the iPad also.  
  • Time for Kids provides kids with reading about today’s current events.  There are real life articles on topics that will interest children.
  • UTellStory is a multimedia storytelling and sharing community that let people from different age and background to easily tell stories and share topics with photo, video, voice, music and words.
  • We Give Books is "dedicated to delivering award-winning books so you can read and share beautiful stories with the children in your life. By giving you great books for young readers, our goal is to create memories that will last a lifetime. Books are the heart of We Give Books — books for reading and books for giving" Editor's Picks are free for anyone to read, anytime, anywhere, and on any device - without login. 
Have an iPad? Check out:

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Do you have a struggling reader? Oxford Owl is a site that discusses how to provide support for your child plus offers books, ideas for reading games, plus apps to share reading via an electronic book away from the computer.