Utah Assistive Technology Teams

March Newsletter 2016

Who Are We?

Utah Assistive Technology Teams support school LEAs and IEP teams to evaluate, acquire and manage assistive technology for students with disabilities.

The State of Utah is divided into 28 regional areas with one UATT team serving each region. In some cases the team will serve multiple school districts, and in other cases the school district may be large enough to have more then one team. Teams consist of, but are not limited to, speech pathologists, teachers, psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, administrators, computer specialists, audiologists, and vision specialists.

Currently Charter Schools are supported by UATT Central. If you would like an evaluation for a student, please contact Kent Remund (801-887-9533) or Julia Pearce (801-887-9534)

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March Tech Tip

Speech to Text

If you grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, you dreamt of the possibilities of controlling things through voice. From the Jetsons, to Star Trek and Knight Rider, I imagined how cool it would be to be able to speak some commands for powerful actions taken place For the most part, those days are among us. Speech recognition for computers has been around for the past 10-15 years but it has made significant progress in the past couple years through smartphones and even the ability to talk to your car!

Speech recognition enables an individual to turn their speech into text to operate their phone, tablet and computer using voice commands, e.g., create documents, send email, text message and control applications.

For students who struggle with the writing process because of physical limitations, vision impairments or specific learning difficulties, this software has proven to be a successful assistive technology solution.

There are typically 4 different methods in which evaluate and assist individuals to use voice to text. These include Windows Speech Recognition, Dictation for Mac, Dragon Naturally Speaking. These three programs work best using a USB microphone which allows for a “cleaner” audio input for the computer to process. The fourth that we will discuss will be using tablets or smart phones. Let’s look at each in more detail.

Windows Speech Recognition: Microsoft began including speech recognition in their operating system (OS) beginning with Vista and has continued to do so through their OS. This recognition works quite well for speech to text but really excels in providing variety operations using a windows computer through voice for those with limited mobility and limited mouse/keyboard use. Windows speech recognition can be launched through the accessibility/ease of access features. Once a short microphone compatibility test is done, windows speech recognition works well. We typically see upwards of 80 – 85% accuracy for the average individual with a strong, consistent voice. Microsoft provides good usability and best of all, FREE with all windows computers.

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Dictation for Mac: Speech recognition has come a long way over the past couple years from Apple. Yosemite operating system made a huge jump with dictation that comes with every mac computer. There are many computer commands built in and has the ability to create new dictation commands yourself. Accuracy levels are typically above 90% with most individuals and are easy to launch by pressing the left function (fn) key twice. Apple provides great usability and best of all FREE with every new Apple computer.

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Dragon Naturally Speaking: Dragon was one of the first voice recognitions created in 1997 and has been the leader in voice recognition through the years. Dragon comes as a full software install on a computer and once an individual trains their voice with dragon, it is extremely accurate approaching 99% accuracy. Dragon will continue to learn and grow with the user and their voice commands. Dragon for PC and Mac starts as low as $99.00 and is an excellent choice for someone that uses voice commands on a daily basis.

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Tablets and Smart Phones: Many individuals are simply using their tablets and smart phones for speech to text and other voice activation commands. Android, Apple and Microsoft added a microphone button to the keyboard when it is present on the screen. Simply press this microphone and dictate into an email, text, notes or any area that you would normally enter text. Many other commands are available such as asking the weather conditions, checking stocks and hundreds of other commands through Siri, Ok Google or Cortana. The drawback to using this technology is that the user must be connected to the internet or a data plan for their speech to be converted to text. There is also a limit in how much can be spoken into the devices at one time. Typically this is a short paragraph before needing to press the microphone button once again.

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Overall, there are many variables in how accurate each of these systems converts speech to text for each individual. This is just one of the alternate solutions for students to complete coursework that seems to work well for many with learning disabilities and other writing challenges.

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Student Success Story

Speech to Text in Action

Granite School District Assistive Technology Team has been following a young lady with muscular dystrophy that uses a wheelchair. In 2011 she was a seventh grader on a 504. She reported that she had pain in her arms with long writing assignments and changes in the weather. Even keyboarding hurt her arms, but she could operate a trackpad and a mouse without difficulty. The pain in her arms affected her ability to complete her school work although she was a very bright student. Upon evaluation, the team recommended providing her with a laptop with Dragon Naturally Speaking. Dragon Naturally Speaking is a speech to text software, and it can also be used to control functions on the computer. The team gathered evidence that the software was helping her with her academics to support their policy that Granite District will purchase equipment for a student’s use until they graduate from high school if the equipment has been proven to be successful. When the team made a follow-up visit, Melissa presented the team with a 20-page research paper as evidence that the software was being used and that was successful.

This student is now in 12th grade. She still uses her dedicated equipment and copy of Dragon Naturally Speaking. She is also participating as a part of the school community. She had a part in the school play this year and has her sights on going to college to further her education.

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Upcoming Events

Gayl Bowser Training

Tuesday, April 12th, 9am

See Locations below


Training for Northern Utah will be held on April 12, 2016

7905 South Redwood Rd

ASB Auditorium room A109 Enter from 7800 South. Parking will be available at the north side of the building, West Jordan, UT 84088

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Training for Southern Utah will be held on April 14, 2016

Sevier School District

180 East 600 North, Richfield, UT

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The Changing Role of AT Teams:

Are you concerned about the viability of your school district’s AT Team? Are you looking for new ways to improve AT services in the coming years? If you are part of a team that provides AT services in public school settings, then this intensive one-day training is right for you. Working with your team or in small groups of similar teams, you will have the chance to envision AT services in the context of a Universal Design for Learning model for professionals and to modify your service model to meet the changing role of AT teams. Interactive activities will give you an opportunity to analyze your current service model, focus on improving service delivery, building agency-wide capacity, and planning effective outreach. You will identify areas of need, rethink the vision for your AT services, and begin work on a multi-faceted 3-year plan.

AT specialists are encouraged to attend in teams, develop team objectives, and discover practical ways to ensure the viability of your team. Whether you are an individual AT practitioner or part of a local or regional school-based AT team, you will leave with a clear, detailed plan to move into the next decade of AT services.