NCTI Conference Shows How Educational Futures Can Be Powered by Technology

By John M. Williams

Washington, DC — The National Center for Technology 9th annual conference thoroughly achieved its goal of showing how the educational futures for students with disabilities can be powered and supercharged by a variety of assistive technologies. During a Tech Expo attendees participated in hands-on demonstrations of emerging and cutting edge technologies and research designed to support the diverse learning needs of students.

Among the many technologies demonstrated were:

1. Brain Actuated Technologies demonstrated how Neural Impulse Actuator (NIA) by OCZ Technology facilitates communication and computer access by people with physical disabilities. The NIA is a brain-computer interface that detects brain signal correlates that can be mapped to different computer functions.

2. Browse Aloud demonstrated talking web sites or people with literacy difficulties, learning challenges, visual impairments and individuals for whom English is a second language.

3. displayed the Immerse Drawing Board and the Digital Collage Stamp. Both tools addressed the difficulties disabled artists face in pursuit of creative expression.

4. Serotek Corporation described how distance learning for students who are blind and those with low vision can be offered from anywhere and can bring more training to more students cost effectively.

5. Pearson showed how universal design can inform the development of innovative, authentic computer-based assessments that test students at greater depths of knowledge.

6. Vcom3D, Inc showed how easy it is to use Signing Avatar technology to integrate sign language resources that help deaf and hard-of-hearing children with their science, technology, engineering and literacy development.

7. VTree LLC showed a game that schools can use to teach confidence and other life skills.

8. Therenow LLC displayed the IRIS: The Classroom Observation & Feedback System. The IRIS system has two parts: a portable, remote site-based, video/audio device and a web application. IRIS enables remote observation, video recording, and feedback using text notes, video, and audio. IRIS is a secure, unobtrusive, and scalable tool that facilitates a wide range of observational tasks in schools.

9. Jigsaw Learning featured TeachTown: Basics, a computer-assisted intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other special needs. The exhibit showed how TeachTown: Basics can enhance child motivation, improve skill acquisition, reduce paperwork for teachers, and provide comprehensive reporting.

10. Space Mission showed technology giving people with disabilities access to information technologies and entertainment. Attendees saw how Space Mission works, how sensors are adapted to the wheelchair, how electronic parts connect to the Xbox 360 and how the video game works.

Institutions of Learning had Their Spotlight.

The Eugene Research Institute put on a show revealing innovations in self-management software for students with cognitive disabilities.

Southeastern Louisiana University revealed a Radio Frequency Identification technology that introduces American Sign Language vocabulary to deaf children.

And Southgate Community Schools displayed the experiences of a 4th grade classroom in which iPod Touches and Studywiz Spark enhance and individualize the language arts curriculum. The application uses affordable, mobile technology with an on-line teacher-managed learning space.

Kareem Dale, special assistant to President Barack Obama to Disability Policy, was a keynote luncheon speaker. The blind Dale spoke of the importance assistance technology plays in his work and of the president’s commitment to ensuring that students with disabilities have access to the assistive technology products they need to be educated.

Hundreds of people attended the dynamic conference. They included federal employees, teachers, foundations, colleges and universities, media, inventors and assistive technology manufacturers

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