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.

Tuesday

Computerized Math Access


Calculators

  • Accessible Calculators - Need a calculator beyond the everyday calculator? This listing provides links for large key calculators, talking calculators, calculators for visually impaired, software calculators, etc.
  • Algebra 2 is a link to online calculators, including, Graphing, Statistics and Sequences, Scientific and Algebra Tiles. The graphing calculator and the scientific calculator are both Shockwave/Flash based. As you expand the browser window, the calculators get bigger, providing a much larger clickable area.
  • Google Calculator add-on any Google Doc with Calculator Add-on. Now there is no need to switch back and forth between apps or windows.
  • GraphCalc provides on-line graphing calculators.
  • KoalaCalc - free simple and scientific mode
  • MetaCalc - Can be adjusted to make larger
  • MyScript Calculator - allows a person to write in an equation and changes it to editable text
  • On-Line Calculators offers various calculators accessible right on-line so they are quick and easy.
  • TI-SmartView, the TI84 graphing calculator software. Allows students to do EVERYTHING classmates do because they have the same calculator as their peers.

Graph Paper


  • PDF Pad and Print Free Graph Paper allows you to create and print graph paper. Great for students who have a hard time lining up problems, plus numerous other uses!

Electronic Worksheets


  • Design Science has several math programs worth exploring, such as MathType - an interactive tool for Windows and Macintosh that lets you create mathematical notation for word processing. There are 30-day trials to use to see if this program fits your needs before purchasing.
  • Efofex was designed for students using higher level math, with physical disabilities, who find mathematics and science extremely difficult to write. Their products were designed to make mathematics and science teachers' jobs easier, but many students with special needs have found that they also provide the assistance that they need. FX Graph and FX Stat are designed primarily for student use to promote exploration in a powerful mathematical environment. Empower is a great program for high school and college-bound students.  It is a bundle of programs (graphing, algebraic equation, statistics, and draw (for math) and a science program is also available with ChemStruct, Chem, and Equation).  It is free for students with special needs.
  • Equation Editor by Microsoft allows you to type in simple to sophisticated equations. (You may have to install it as an add-on. In office 2003 it was under the insert - object tab. Availability varies between your version of Office.  Equation Editor allows the user to line up equations.
  • FX Equation (Windows and Mac) Provides a way to produce mathematical and scientific equations. To use FX Equation, you just type the equation. FX Equation looks at what you have typed and puts everything in the right place. You never have to touch the mouse. FX Equation’s input method is primarily designed to reduce the number of keystrokes and mouse use needed, but to me, it also requires more thinking. FX products are available free to students with eligible disabilities.
  • g(Math) from Texthelp for Google Docs is an Add-In, is for the creation and implementation of mathematical expressions, equations, graphs and other complex math directly into a Google Doc. (Students can also use your voice to dictate math expressions.)
  • Math Input Panel to write and correct math equations. Math Input Panel uses the math recognizer that's built into Windows 7 to recognize handwritten math expressions. You can then insert the recognized math into a word-processing or computational program. Math Input Panel is designed to be used with a tablet pen on a Tablet PC, but you can use it with any input device, such as a touchscreen, external digitizer, or even a mouse.
  • MathPad and MathPad Plus by IntelliTools is no longer available and greatly missed. They provided electronic worksheets which acted as paper and pencil for students with motoric challenges. MathPad was an alternative and accessible tool used to support basic skill instruction in the areas of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. MathPad Plus: Fractions and Decimals offered the same functionality as MathPad with features that allowed students to do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division using fractions and decimals. (If you see a copy, grab it!)
  • Bill Ziegler has developed digital math grids, MathScreenPad which can be used on for either Mac or Windows. Also, take into consideration using printable math grids. Sometimes that is all a student needs.
  • MathTalk (which requires Dragon speech-to-text software) provides voice input for Scientific Notebook so that you can enter even the most complex mathematics and compute with voice commands. You can use voice input to complement the keyboard and the mouse to speed the entry of text and mathematics, or you can use it to replace the keyboard and the mouse. This program works for developing graphs also. More than a calculator, the math notebook products that are compatible with Dragon Naturally Speaking from Metroplex Voice Computing. Compatible with DNS11 & Scientific Notebook so that you get all the higher order math symbols.
  • MathType is an interactive equation editor for both Windows and Macintosh that lets you create mathematical notation for word processing, web pages, desktop publishing, presentations, e-learning, and for TeX, LaTeX, and MathML documents. You can learn more and download this program from CNET. For algebra and above, you can use MathType with Microsoft Word (Mac or Windows) for typing equations and other horizontal math (it's not well-suited for stacked or vertical math). MathType is the "professional" version of Equation Editor, the equation-creation tool included with Microsoft Word.  The main advantage for students is that you can type equations (in Equation Editor, you select symbols and formats by clicking menus).  You can use MathType to "show your work" from pre-algebra through calculus using only a keyboard.  (You can line up equations in multi-step problems using the "Align at =" function.) It can be useful for young students, yet continue to use it throughout college. You can dictate using speech-to-text, copy/paste digital info and/or enter via the keyboard. It will link with either Word or Pages for multi-step equations (algebra through calculus and beyond).
  • Number Navigator is a program that assists those with fine motor problems to set out columnar arithmetic, without the need for a spreadsheet.
  • Type Mathematical Symbols is a simple typing program for students who need fine motor support to write out the problems. Try writing mathematical equations with this online symbol keyboard (zooming in to enlarge for easier access), then copy/paste into a document.
  • A little costly but Virtual Pencil Algebra by Henter Math is designed for individuals who are pencil impaired (blind, motor impaired, or learning disabled) have a very difficult time writing and manipulating Algebraic equations, since operating a pencil effectively is very difficult if not impossible.
  • Jim Kauppila shares: I came across an option in Excel and used the options with a student in an Algebra 1 class, the student hand handwriting issues. I built a set of worksheets and have posted  how to videos on YouTube:

Manipulatives


  • National Library of Math Manipulatives is an excellent resource that is well designed and has a clean layout. Don't get thrown off by your first look. This site is very powerful.
  • Virtual Manipulatives by Glenco, offers this nice little interactive site that can be set by grade level, and manipulatives desired.

 Math Access Apps
  • Panther Technology has developed Math Paper for people with motoric challenges which allows them to work independently on "digital paper". Math Paper offers the foundations to learn simple arithmetic, and the power to do complicated equations. Panther Math Paper will only go up through algebra so that rules out higher level math notation.  
  • Math Sheet Calculator - is an app which simulates a sheet of paper.
  • ModMath is a FREE app, that provides you with graph paper and a calculator-like user interface geared toward typical users with dyslexia and dysgraphia rather than users with more complex motor issues. You can shade alternating columns or rows for better visual discrimination, as well as highlight a single row or column.  It will do fractions, carrying, borrowing, and cancels, but not roots, exponents, and simple algebra (as does Panther's Math Paper above). ModMath 2.0 is under development — version 2 will do algebra.
  • With MyScript Calculator app you can perform mathematical operations using your handwriting. Write the mathematical expression on the screen, then let MyScript technology perform its magic converting symbols and numbers to digital text and delivering the result in real time. The same experience as writing on paper with the advantages of a digital device (Scratch-outs, results in real time, ...).
  • MathMagic Lite for iOS (free, but there is no non-Lite version).  

Calculator Apps
  • Jumbo Calculator for iPad - A calculator with big buttons to make it easier to tap the buttons.
  • Math Resources - Oklahoma Assistive Technology Center has a list of resources and handouts worth exploring.
  • MyScript Calculator for iPhone (and Android) uses your own handwriting, and not only recognizes the equations you write but works them out for you. You are presented with a blank sheet of graph paper, start writing equations and it will start auto converting what you're writing into typed text to make it cleaner. For example, if you draw a division sign underneath a block of numbers you've already written, the content will be moved upwards so you can continue working. If you make a mistake, just scribble a number out and it will disappear. What's more, MyScript will automatically start calculating for you.
  • Talkulator - A talking calculator that is compatible with VoiceOver and has large buttons for those with low vision. More information.
  • TalkCalc - says the number as it supposed to be read (78 is read seventy-eight), can sub-words on keys for numbers (1=one)
The Livescribe pen also has a built in calculator. The calculator located on the inside covers of your Livescribe Dot Paper performs basic math functions, as well as many useful scientific functions. There is also a card version of the calculator you can purchase separately from the Livescribe Online Store and Livescribe retailers. To use the calculator, tap on the printed keys with the tip of the smartpen.

For beginning math/number sense- check out the apps listed on Best Math Apps.

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