Welcome to the third and final part of this series, dedicated to sharing instructional and professional development resources that focus on teaching assistive technology.
In the first installment, we looked at various resources offered by Perkins Trainings and Access Technology Institute. In the second installment, we checked out AppleVis and Mac for the Blind. This final installment will feature two final resources as well as a bonus resource list.
TrainingWare is an unique training model offers a great deal to someone looking for curriculum with a learning measurement system so student progress can be tracked.
What’s unique about TrainingWare is that access to its materials and curriculum is done via the Nexus, an online portal of sorts that allows instructors and students the ability to log in and access content from anywhere. There is a demonstration page for those interested in trying the Nexus. It should be noted that the Nexus is a completely accessible environment.
As for content, TrainingWare offers courses in using Windows 10, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Outlook with both JAWS and ZoomText. It also offers Google Drive, Hangouts, Calendar, and Gmail with NVDA. Each course is divided into several lessons and each lesson is divided into between four and six modules, each focusing on a specific skill. At the end of each lesson is an assessment component.
As a side note, the AFB did a very nice writeup on how TrainingWare was founded. You can view the article here if you are interested.
Who Can Benefit?
This particular resource is very well suited to teachers who have students who are independent workers or work with a paraprofessional to assist them. The fact that the lessons are organized into a curriculum of sorts is very helpful and can be used to justify the expense of the subscription to a school district or agency. Teachers can log in and check on student progress as often as needed and even base IEP goals on material included in the lessons.
TrainingWare is also beneficial for teachers who do not feel comfortable with assistive technology. It’s easy to learn along with a student or even stay one or two lessons ahead of him or her.
TrainingWare is a subscription based service that can be renewed on an annual basis. For that full year, you have access to all of the trainings within the Nexus. To obtain a quote for the exact cost of the subscription, you may contact Mark Nelson via the contact page on the TrainingWare site.
American Foundation for the Blind
American Foundation for the Blind:The final featured resource in this series is probably already familiar to many of you. The American Foundation of the Blind (AFB) is a leader in the blindness field and offers a varied pool of resources including technology resources for vision professionals.
Probably the most useful resource that AFB offers is AccessWorld, their free monthly publication that provides current technology resources and strategies. Access to back issues of the magazine can be helpful if you are interested in browsing recent issues or even exploring the very first volumes from the year 2000. The AccessWorld App is also available for those who wish to access information on the go.
Who Can Benefit?
Almost anyone can benefit from the resources available form AFB. The main audience seems to be for vision professionals, who would in turn share the resources with clients/students as appropriate.
There are also downloadable resources for purchase such as iOS in the Classroom.
But wait, there’s more!
There are TONS of quality resources out there for technology access that were not featured in this series and that are worth mentioning. Here are a few of those, along with a short introductory blurb.
Flying Blind is an excellent resource that offers a little bit of everything. From refurbished technology to a great weekly newsletter featuring new and noteworthy news in the blindness arena, this resource is certainly bookmark-worthy.
Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired a staple in the blindness feed since its founding in 1920. Their iFocus series found on YouTube is a great way of learning or teaching iOS, Apple Watch, Mac, and low vision accessibility. Obviously, Hadley also offers distance technology classes as well.
Founded in 2013, Mystic Access offers quite a range of audio training resources. It has some free downloadable resources as well as a podcast feed. Obviously there are resources available for purchase as well, including pre-recorded audio tutorials or tutorials that are personalized for your needs.
National Braille Press (NBP)
NBP has a variety of downloadable technology publications that range from using Android devices to command reference sheets for Excel, Mac, and the various screen readers. Prices range from under $10 to $25, which is honestly quite a bargain. Obviously, these resources are also available in braille…
Podcasts and Blogs
Finally, let’s not forget the many podcasts and newsletters out there! If you are on the go, podcasts are a great way to keep up with technology news and trends.
Cool Blind Tech
Cool Blind Tech: This podcast features interviews with some of assistive technology’s main players such as CEOs and developers of the products we use and love. There are also many topics covered in these podcasts including everything from Android devices to home assistants such as Google Home and Alexa.
AppleVis: Yes, we did feature AppleVis in a previous posts, but their podcasts are certainly worth mentioning again!
The Tech Doctor Blog and Podcast
The Tech Doctor Blog and Podcast: This blog and podcast combo page is an excellent resource featuring hardware and software reviews, resource recommendations, and other interesting topics. It is not as frequently released as some others, but it is certainly a quality resource worth keeping an eye on.