Monday, March 31, 2008

AT Blog Carnival Edition #1

Assistive Technology Blog Carnival: Edition #1

Welcome to the first ever Blog Carnival on Assistive Technology!

The first edition deadline sneaked up on us pretty fast, but I would like to share some great posts by folks that are becoming good friends in the AT blog arena. Before I do, as the host, I would like to share a little about myself and how I use Assistive technology.

This Week's Host: Lon Thornburg

Since I have decided to start this blog carnival, I will host it here until someone else wants to guest-host. The idea is that you can be a host and share all the links we get in from your blog so you get all the visitors and they can find out how great your blog is too if they haven't discovered it yet. I envision lots of great blogs and posts and friendships coming out of this as time goes by. I would release this on my home blog, but since this is the carnival home, I will do it here.

I am a teacher, administrator and an assistive technology specialist. I work for the Umatilla Morrow County Education Service District in Pendleton, Oregon. I cover about a third of the state of Oregon as the only AT specialist. I work with OT's, PT's, Autism, Speech, Vision and Hearing and Eary Intervention and Early Childhood specialists. I do a lot of professional development and teach at the occasional State-wide conferences - usually doing lab workshops on interactive applications for software, helping teachers and specialists design and build their own activities.

My wife and I own and run a small retreat center that is a little mountain hotel built in 1897 for the Union Pacific Railroad. We have groups (quilters, scrap-bookers, church groups, planning meetings, teachers groups, etc.) that come stay for many different kinds of meetings and weekend retreats. We have a boy who will start first grade in the fall of 2008.

I LOVE working with AT. I feel like I am really making a difference for children and helping classrooms and families get things together to improve life for their kids. I had a stroke last year that put me in the hospital and I experienced some disabilities that have been subtle but have meant some adaptation on my part. That experience has made me look at AT in a different light. I have put together things so that if something happens again, and I would be permanently disabled I have things ready to go - just in case.

For AT, I personally use Dragon Naturally Speaking, Read Please as a text reader sometimes - and like using Odiogo on my blog. See "My Reading Chair" blog to see how I have used Odiogo there. (I will have to try the application suggested by Larry Ferzallo in his submission below.) I have a Track IR camera eye and a reflective dot on a baseball cap I can use with the free Click-n-type Keyboard from Lakefolks. I use a Virtual Magnifying Glass free software also for looking at certain things and using when doing professional training and workshops where I want people to see close up on the screen with a data projector.

Well, that gives you an introducation to me. Now I would like to share the contributors for our first carnival...

Ricky Buchanan is an amazing user of AT in Australia. We first communicated in January I think, when she sent me a nice email after reading my No Limits to Life blog that is for adults, perspectives on life, disability, etc. She has some wonderful artwork she has done and my son has been inspired to paint her a picture in return sometime. Check it out as the art is on a page that is linked from her personal site space. You can get there from her ATmac blog. I have enjoyed getting to know her and browse her blog. If you have a Mac, you will want to get her blog posts. She shares how she uses AT.

Larry Ferlazzo submitted his post on a new text to speech tool... Read the Words. He has a site dedicated to ELL and language learners and education onEduBlogs. I am just getting to know him and we have exchanged some emails. I am going to spend some more time browsing and reading there for information for the ELL,ESL folks I work with. I will be referring them to him too.

Since our submissions are just starting, I have listed below a few people that are doing work I admire. Their blogs are timely and full of great information:

Dr. Brian Friedlander was one of my college professors in my Masters Program and he has left some nice comments on my blog. He was very encouraging to me when I was starting out and he was gracious enough to announce my blog on his which has increased my visitors. I want to link to him here: Assistivetek Dr.Friedlander has some wonderful posts and up to the minute new release info as things occur. Check him out.

Paul Hamilton has a blog on Free Resources. I have gone there to find some great help and information. When looking at his picture on the "About" page, I was thinking that MAYBE we met at an ASHA conference on Assistive Technology in Seattle, WA a few years ago. He looks familiar and He is from Vancouver, BC. I remember visiting with an AT specialist from Vancouver when I was there. We will have to figure that one out.

Another blog that I go to frequently is Special Education Law Blog By Charles Fox. I wrote a series on parent advocacy and he was gracious enough to comment on it and post a section block quote from it on his blog. We were both online writing our blogs that day and had a great interchange of conversation and introduction. I look forward to future contributions he makes to his blog. His blog is also a great archive of legal information if you need to research something.

Kate Ahern has Teaching Learners with Multiple Needs . I recently discovered her blog just as she stopped posting indefinitely because of care for her sister. Her sister passed away from critical complications to a brain injury. Her blog was nominated for an award for top educational blog of 2007. Quite an honor. There is a HUGE list of links to vendors, associations, free tutorials, activities, etc. I hope to visit with her and get to know her one day.

I hope you enjoy this first edition of Assistive Technology Blog Carnival. Next month, the deadline for submissions will be the last Friday of April and the blog will come out on the next Monday. I hope some of you that read will submit.

Thanks for visiting and all the best to you!

Monday, March 24, 2008

AT Blog Carnival Host General Guidelines and Information:

Here are a few notes to guide potential and actual hosts of the Carnival.

1. We always need volunteers to host, so don’t be shy about stepping up. Hosts get great exposure and extra traffic that week - and many new readers will stick around if they like what they find. To qualify, you will need to have submitted 3 posts to the Carnival. When you are on board with that qualification, to volunteer as a host email me at or at
If you have a topic that interests you that you would like to suggest and host that would be great. You might have a topic you would like to see information or support on, or know of a topic that would stimulate some interesting posts. I don't plan to think up all the topics for new carnivals by myself. Your input and ideas are very welcome.

2. At this point, the carnival will be posted on the Monday after the last Friday of the month as a monthly edition. As we grow and more people contribute we will move to bi-monthly and eventually weekly if we have too many contributors. Monthly seems OK for now.

3. We want the Carnival to adopt the character of the host site every week, so we will try to avoid being micro-managers. All we ask is that you feature at least 10 submissions from entries being submitted by other bloggers. If there are not 10 submissions for a carnival, list the sumitted links you have and then share more of your own expertise for everyone else. You may want to link to some other blog posts you have found on the topic or some articles, etc. While this carnival is in the formative stages we will need to be creative and make it worthwhile for people to want to go there and refer it to others. That will be a way that it will grow.

4. Procedure for your Carnival:
Hosts simply obtain the entries links sent to them via the carnival service and then write their Carnival as a post on their own blog. Once I know a topic and host and have the hosts' email and web address, I will post that information as a new edition link to our blog carnival on the carnival service site. As a host, you should receive all referred posts through them. No one will see your email address, it is for the service and I to coordinate with you only. It is up to you to let people know your address.
• Entries should arrive by the deadline of 12.00 pm PST on the last Friday of the month, but we do get late ones too. It would be good if you accommodate them.
• If you get a lot of entries, it’s up to you how you deal with these. It’s nice if you link to them, even better if you link and describe them. But we appreciate that your time is limited and you may be restricted as to how much more work you can do.
• One post in your Carnival should be your “Best Post of the Month”.
• If possible, try to choose and highlight a newcomer to the Carnival.
• Your job as host is to “sell” the reader on visiting individual contributors’ sites, NOT to summarize the entries so that a visit isn’t needed. Therefore, don’t tell the whole story - get the reader to want to read the whole post. You are just posting in one blog entry the name and number of the Carnival, the topic and then list the post links to other blog with a brief "teaser".
• Please finish your post by telling readers where the next Carnival will be held. See this blog's home and calendar for this information.
• You should aim to get the Carnival up and running on your site by Monday of the next week after post submission deadlines.

IMPORTANT: The purpose of this carnival is to provide constructive and positive information on assistive technology and it's use and other RELATED information. A side benefit is that you get to invite others to your blog and increase your traffic. Please do not abuse this opportunity by putting up unrelated links and ads to try and create sales of something. If your blog sidebar has ads or links to information, services or products you sell, that is fine, but keep them out of the actual posts please.

Once the Carnival is up on your site, everyone who has been featured should link to you and send you lots of their traffic. If you notice that someone isn’t playing the game, it’s ok to gently remind them to announce it, but generally people are very good about doing this. However, there are also a couple of other things you can do to get more quality traffic and promote your hosting. We recommend you do these, but it’s your decision:
Use other blogs and social bookmark sites to post links to your blog for the Carnival post. You can repost your Carnival post on forums (as a new topic) but without individual links to the posts BUT do link to your site. The idea on all of these is to give people a flavor of what the Carnival is about that week, but they have to come to your site to get the links to the stories.
You can announce the Carnival is at your site. Something along the lines of:
“Carnival # is Out.
Check out the latest Assistive Technology Blog Carnival , which is at [name of your site] this month. Please pay a visit to read this month’s best writing about AT on the web. Watch out for [write a sentence about a story that will pull people in].”
Finally, don’t forget to email me that the Carnival is up. If you’ve just hosted a Carnival and can think of anything that you’d like to see here that would help future hosts, please let me know.
Good luck. May your traffic counters begin to spin!