[Athen] Replacing Assistive Tech Products

Wink Harner foreigntype at gmail.com
Mon Apr 13 12:27:22 PDT 2020

Consider also setting up SOME of your institutional software on servers
accessible through open portal logins. Many software (read & write,
Kurzweil, and others can be accessed through the portal. Check to see which
programs you use can be accessed successfully through an open portal login
and work with IT.

Find out how robust a program your students need and work on some free/open
source software options (for example, NVDA is a good substitute for JAWS;
Alternatively you college's licenses for JAWS can be downloaded to flash
drives and your BVI students can use it from anywhere.

Dragon NS is designed to be user/computer-specific and works best on an
individual computer linked to a specific speaker's profile. Might be best
to see if you can negotiate a volume discount through Nuance. There are
other dictation options to consider, but first and foremost, consider what
the student is using it for and why. Most of the other dictation programs
(free or low cost) do not offer robust vocabulary or voice editing, and
students cannot compose research papers with other available software, or
use it to control the computer. None of the other dictation programs offer
corrections by voice and many do not automatically save & update a voice
profile, making the program improve with use. With a volume discount on DNS
licenses, remember these can be reused in the future. In the case of
students off-site, purchase the licenses with download links rather than
cd/dvd copies. You can send the download links to the students. You should
cover the cost of noise-canceling headset mics (and don't expect them back
at the end of the term --they're expendable!). The software licenses can be
reused in the future. Dictation with math works well for lower-level math
using Equatio, but not (yet) with the higher level maths. Your best bet
there is to either purchase DNS download links and add download links for
MathTalk and Scientific Notebook or a download link for DNS and talk to
Nancilu McClellan at Metroplex Voice Computing to see if MathTalk and
Scientific Notebook will operate OK if loaded on the college server and the
student with DNS loaded on their home computer can log in through an open
portal to use SN & MT. She's knowledgeable and helpful and will work with
your IT folks to find the best solution. Equatio for some; MathTalk +
Scientific Notebook with Dragon Naturally Speaking for others.

Others have already added some valuable options. My advice is to weigh what
the students need first and present a list of what can be loaded onto a
server & accessed through an open portal login, what needs to be provided
to individual students for individual use off-site, and what would be OK to
substitute with free or open source software. Stay away from multiple
individual purchases or software requiring monthly/annual subscriptions as
these end up costing much more in the long run and we can't ask students to
either purchase the software on their own or pay for the subscriptions.

Asking the students to switch software without advance notice or without
training/support or practice, especially if it happens with a deadline for
a paper or assignment, or if there's a test involved is not recommended.
Maybe putting together a list of 3-4 different options for students and
letting them choose (in advance of deadlines or tests) with some training
guidelines and support would be helpful.

My thoughts. Hope these are useful for the general good.
Wink Harner
Accessibility Consultant/Alternative Text Production
The Foreign Type

Portland OR
foreigntype at gmail.com

This email was dictated using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Please forgive
quirks, misrecognitions, or errata .

On Mon, Apr 13, 2020 at 8:43 AM Robert Spangler <rspangler1 at udayton.edu>

> Hello everyone:


> Unfortunately, as a result of recent events, our leadership at UD is

> asking which AT products are we able to cancel for the 2020-21 academic

> year. I am writing here to seek suggestions for free or lower-cost

> alternatives. These products include:

> Read and Write - I know that there are free text-to-speech alternatives

> available. Can anyone recommend some for me to try? What would I lose

> from Read and Write if I decided to opt for a free or low-cost solution?


> Dragon - This one I feel will be harder to replace, but I'm looking for

> opinions. I've already begun teaching my Mac students how to use the

> built-in Mac Dictation, which is pretty good. Also, Nuance no longer

> supports MacOS. Windows is a problem, however. Last time I checked,

> Windows dictation didn't even come close to being as accurate as Dragon.

> So again, any thoughts on this are welcome.


> Thanks,

> Robert



> --

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> • For instructions and current OLR updates, visit go.udayton.edu/learning



> Robert Spangler

> Disability Services Technical Support Specialist

> rspangler1 at udayton.edu

> Office of Learning Resources (OLR) - RL 023

> Ryan C. Harris Learning & Teaching Center (LTC)

> University of Dayton | 300 College Park | Dayton, Ohio 45469-1302

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