Introduction

LetMeType is a word prediction program which can support learners with literacy difficulties. It can also be used to support learning with Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) and as a tool to support English as an additional language. LetMeType can be luanched from the ‘Writing’ section of MyStudyBar Version 2. To download MyStudyBar Version 2 select this link.

LetMyType can be launched from the Writing section of MyStudyBar

LetMyType can be launched from the Writing section of MyStudyBar

One of the main strengths of LetMeType is that every time you type a letter/character, it predicts or comes up with a list of the most likely words which fit your letters. For example, if you type the letter ‘t’ then depending which words are in the lexicon, LetMeType will predict words such as ‘today’, tomorrow’ etc, similar to the illustration below.

Example of word prediction using LetMeType

Example of word prediction using LetMeType

Custom Lexicons

LetMeType allows you to create custom lexicons. So if you have a learner who is studying biology and finds that writing complex words and phrases associated with this subject difficult, LetMeType can be set up to predict subject specific words.

Lexicons in other languages

Another feature of LetMeType is that it can also be set up to predict in other languages, for example, French, German, Polish, in fact any language that is available within Windows – which is a lot!

LetMyType can predict in many languages

Setting up an external alternative language keyboard

So, the first thing you need to do is to set up an additional language keyboard from within Windows. This allows you to connect an external keyboard, for example a keyboard which has a French, German or other language layout. To do this you need to go to ‘Start’, ‘Settings’ and open the ‘Control Panel’. In the ‘Control Panel’ seclect the ‘Regional and Languages Options’ icon. When the ‘Regional and Languages Options panel opens select the ‘Keyboards and Languages’ tab. The next stage is to select the ‘Change Keyboards’ button.

Setting up an alternative keyboard in Windows

Setting up an alternative keyboard in Windows

You should now see the ‘Text Services and Input Languages’ panel. Finally select the ‘Add’ button and a list of all the available languages will appear – select your preferred language. You should also see the ‘Language Bar’ icon appear in the bottom right-hand side of the System Tray. If you can’t see the ‘Language Bar’ then select the ‘Language Bar’ tab on the ‘Text Services and Input Languages’ panel.

LetMyType can be used in combination with an onsreen keyboard

If you have an alternative language keyboard, you should now be able to attach it to your computer and start typing. If you don’t have an external keyboard then you can use the ‘on-screen’ keyboard by going to ‘Start’, ‘Programs’, ‘Accessories’, ‘Ease of Access’ (for Windows Vista and 7) and finally ‘On-screen Keyboard.’

Setting up LetMyType

The next stage is to set up LetMyType. To get started I’d recommend the LetMyType online tutorial. I used a French national newspaper to create the French lexicon.

Import text into LetMeType's lexicon

You can also view the LetMeType online video tutorial to find out how to create a new lexicon.

If you want to experiment you can download the same French lexicon here. Paste the lexicon into LetMeType and start typing using the same words in the lexicon. Remember you can also customise LetMyType to predict single words as well as phrases.

Sam Anderson, college lecturer and course tutor at Borders College has been running adult returner vocational classes for students who experience visual difficulties for a number of years. Sam has tended to use the screen reading program JAWS to support his students but many of his students, particularly those who are new to computing, have found it difficult to learn new keystrokes as well as learning a new program such as Word or finding out how to surf the Internet.

Sam set about looking for a program that would provide his students with all the features they needed to help with their studies, and ensure they were included in all aspects of their learning.

Find out how Guide software has enabled his students to access the curriculum - an excellent example of how assistive technology can be used to promote inclusive e-learning.

Sam talks about how Guide is helping his students

Download Sam’s text transcript

Jason’s story

Jason, a vision impaired student at Borders College, explains how Guide software has transformed his learning - an excellent video clip!

Download Jason’s text transcript

Karen’s story

Karen, who is registered blind, talks about how Guide software has helped her to surf the internet, send and receive emails and boost her skills and confidence.

Download Karen’s text transcript

Olive’s story

In this poignant video Olive talks about how Guide software has helped her to surf the internet, send emails and much more.

Download Olive’s text transcript

An example of the iPhone keyboard using the Zoom option

An example of the iPhone keyboard using the Zoom option

As mobile phones are increasingly becoming a feature of e-learning, I’ll be exploring the accessibility features available in popular phones, such as the iPhone 3GS and the Nokia N97.

My colleague Martin has already done an excellent job on his MASHe blog highlighting the range of accessibility options on Android phones, such as the HTC Hero.

In this post I’ll be looking at Apple’s new flagship iPhone, the 3GS. Among the many features of the 3 GS, accessibility is integrated throughout the phone.

For  example, the Zoom option will magnify text up to 5 times the normal size. The ‘White on Black’ changes the interface into high contrast making items such as the onscreen keyboard sharper to see.

An example of the iPhone using the combined options of White on Black and Zoom.

Combine these options and you have an extremely flexible interface which will benefit a range of users with additional support needs.

In addition, the iPhone also makes use of the adapted Mac screen reader, VoiceOver . VoiceOver will speak or announce screen items or elements when they are touched. For example, if you’re browsing a web page, when you touch the upper-left hand corner of the screen you’ll hear what it is. This feature extends to other items on the screen such as the battery level etc. With VoiceOver enabled it will also read characters as you type, such as an email message or a note. You can also have VoiceOver speak each completed word as it is typed.

One thing to bear in mind though is that VoiceOver and Zoom won’t work in combination with each other. The voice can also be adjusted to suit your personal preferences, such volume as well as support for up to 21 languages.

I’ve put together a couple of short video clips demonstrating the White on Black and Zoom features which you can view on the RSC Scotland North & East YouTube Channel (or watch them here below:

Iphone and Zoom features

iPhone and White on Black features

This is one of a series of posts about mobile phones and how they can be used as inclusive tools for learning. Why not keep up-to-date and receive regular updates via the RSS feed on the left hand menu bar.

I was so impressed with Sally’s (CALL Scotland) demonstration of Proloquo2Go that I thought I’d create something similar, bearing in mind I don’t have an iPhone or the Prologuo2Go software.

I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t one of the best examples of mobile learning but on the other hand it only took about 10 minutes to create the content and transfer it to my mobile phone. The video isn’t particularly good quality either but hopefully it will give you the general idea (and GIFF only has one ‘F’ not two! ‘GIF’).

The first thing I did was to create the slides in PowerPoint. I’ve used the Widgit symbol set in Communicate InPrint to write the symbols but you could use any content.

It is possible to save your presenation in GIF format

It is possible to save your presenation in GIF format

Once you’re happy with your slides you need to create a folder on your desktop and save the slides in GIF format to create your animation. PowerPoint provides an option to save each individual slide as a GIF or a series of GIFs.

PowerPoint offers the choice between saving one slide or all the slides

PowerPoint offers the choice between saving one slide or all the slides

The next stage is to import (or drag and drop) the GIF images (your PowerPoint slides) into UnFREEz, the open source GIF animator. You can download it from the EduApps site.

Remember to set the Frame Delay to a suitable time, for example 100 cs will be quite fast whereas 600 cs will run a bit slower. If you want to run the learning object in a loop check the Loop animation box.

GIFs can be imported or drag and dropped into the pane. UnFREEz is open source software.

GIFs can be imported or drag and dropped into the pane. UnFREEz is open source software.

Select the Make Animated GIF button and export it to a location of your choice, e.g., desktop, documents etc.

Finally, locate you saved GIF and copy to your mobile phone. Because it is an image it should play on most phones although it will look particularly good on an iPhone.

Alternatively, if you have a phone which runs Windows Mobile, you could export the PowerPoint to your mobile phone and run it as a presentation - although you’ll need to save the presenation as a ‘package’ or ‘exe’ so it will play on a range of devices.

To watch the video of the learning content on a mobile phone select this link

One thing I forgot to mention at last week’s ICT and Inclusion 2009 event, was something which Sally Millar of CALL Scotland demonstrated to me over a cup of coffee. I’ve never been a keen fan of the iPhone or iPod but I was quickly converted!

Traditional voice output communication aids (VOCAs) have tended to be very expensive  and bulky devices. Although many vary in portability, with some devices being smaller, lighter and less expensive than others, none compare to the latest VOCA, or should I say iPhone!

When I’ve worked with students in the past are VOCA users they are sometimes reluctant to use them out of embarrassment or because they are too bulky. But I think all that is about to change! is a cool application that many VOCA users would feel comfotatble using - I even thought about getting one myself to try out!

Proloquo2go

Proloquo2Go is an iPhone and iPod touch app which features a symbol based communication system. Proloquo2Go provides an inexpensive yet ‘cool’ VOCA system for people of all ages. Sally had her one secured in a pink case with an amplifer so sound can be projected in noisy environments.

Thanks to Sally for the impromptu demo.  

To find out more visit the Proloquo2Go site

To watch the introductory Proloquo2Go video clips select this link

If you’d like to catch up with the latest assistive technologies and how they can benefit learners with additional support needs then visit the Technology section of this Blog to watch a selection of video tutorials.

The latest videos feature Rachel Bagust from Dolphin Computer Access who demonstrates the tools in EasyConverter. EasyConverter provides a quick and easy method to convert text to a variety of alternative formats, including MP3, Braille and large print.
The videos are subtitled and can be downloaded in a number of formats, eg, Quicktime, Windows Media Player and audio.

To view the videos select this link

Alternatively, you can visit the RSC’s YouTube channel to view up to 30 videos on assistive technologies, web access and alternative formats. You can also view the videos with our accessible video player.