Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest 2 Released

Independence Science integrates text-to-speech assistive technology with Vernier Software & Technology's data-collection interface

Independence Science recently launched the Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest 2 to help blind and low-vision students independently complete data-collection investigations during STEM labs. By integrating text-to-speech assistive technology with Vernier Software & Technology's LabQuest 2 hardware device, the Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest 2 speaks real-time data results to students.

Students can use the Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest 2 to collect data from more than 70 Vernier sensors. In addition to speaking the data-collection results, as well as displaying the results on the screen, the device can vocalize to students more than 20 characteristics of each element on the Periodic Table of Elements. The Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest 2 additionally features faster computing, wireless data sharing, and five built-in sensors (GPS, 3-axis accelerometer, ambient temperature, light, and microphone) making it easy and intuitive for students to collect, analyze, and share data from experiments.

Each Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest 2 is sold as a kit that includes a Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest 2, a USB keyboard, and three Vernier sensors (the Vernier Stainless Steel Temperature Probe, Differential Voltage Probe, and Current Probe).

Visit the independence Science website to learn more about the Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest 2.

Blackboard Receives 2017 WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) Award Recognizing Innovative Accessibility Solution

Blackboard Inc. has won a 2017 WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) Outstanding Work (WOW) award for its revolutionary accessibility solution, Blackboard Ally, which makes digital course content more accessible for all learners.

Since 2004, WCET has presented the WOW award to colleges, universities, and organizations that implement exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to contemporary challenges in higher education. The WOW award helps WCET meet its mission of promoting innovative and effective practice by providing exemplary programs as models for the higher education community to adapt for their own students and faculty. WOW award recipients have all implemented solutions in areas shown to have impact on student success.

Blackboard Ally integrates with an institution's existing learning management system (LMS) and automatically runs course materials through an accessibility checklist that looks for common accessibility issues. The solution generates a range of more accessible alternatives for the instructor's original content including Semantic HTML, audio, ePub, and electronic Braille. It provides educators with guidance for improving the accessibility of their course materials, while also supplying comprehensive reporting on the current state of content accessibility at both the course and institutional level.

The solution is currently available in the latest release of Blackboard Learn with the Original experience, Moodlerooms, and Canvas. It will be made available for Moodle 3.2 in October 2017, as well as additional platforms in the future.

"Each and every year, the WOW Awards committee has a challenging task to review outstanding proposals from across the country to select our final award recipients," said Kara Monroe, Vice President for Academic Innovation and Support at Ivy Tech Community College, and chair of the WOW Awards committee. "This year's four award recipients represent the entire 2017 class of proposals as an outstanding reflection of the innovation, quality, leadership and vision needed to help students, faculty, and institutions succeed in higher education today."

The WOW awardees will be recognized by WCET's national community of higher education innovators during the WCET 29th Annual Meeting in Denver, CO, October 25–27th, 2017.

"We're honored to be the first educational technology company to receive a WOW award in the history of the program," said Phill Miller, Vice President of Teaching and Learning at Blackboard. "Blackboard is committed to partnering with institutions worldwide to increase awareness of course content accessibility and to provide support for teaching students of all learning styles and abilities."

More information about Blackboard Ally can be found here.

Apple Releases iOS 11 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch

Apple has released version 11 of their iOS operating system for iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices. New features include a Files app which allows for the viewing and accessing of files from various apps in one place, the ability to record what is occurring on the device, and support for augmented reality. The site AppleVis has published several articles relating to iOS 11 including "Apple Releases iOS 11; Bringing a Range of Enhancements and New Features" and "What's New in iOS 11 Accessibility for Blind, LowVision and Deaf-Blind Users". A post detailing the bugs introduced for assistive technology users in iOS 11 is also available.

Some educational resources for using this new operating system are already available including Jonathan Mosen's book "iOS 11 Without the Eye" and the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired's updated iFocus series of tutorials for using iOS with accessibility features

Amazon Adds Braille Support to VoiceView for Fire Tablets and Magnification to Fire TV

Amazon has added support for braille displays through the VoiceView screen reader included on Fire tablets. Users can both input and read text using English contracted and uncontracted braille, Unified English braille, and computer braille codes. VoiceView supports braille chord commands, including commands to navigate by character, word, control, HTML Link, HTML Section, HTML list item, and HTML form control, as well as jump to key parts of the Fire tablet user interface such as Home, Back, App Switcher, and the Notification/Quick Actions Shade. There are also chords to quickly bring up the VoiceView settings pane and invoke the braille Find command.

At the time of writing, supported braille displays include BAUM, Humanware, and the new Orbit Reader 20. Braille support is being delivered throughout the month of September to fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh generation Fire tablets as a free, over-the-air update. You can learn more about braille support on Fire tablets here.

Amazon is also adding magnification to Amazon Fire TV. Users will now be able to magnify their Fire TV user interface up to 10x. The magnified view will automatically follow the part of the screen you are interacting with, or you can manually pan around the screen. Fire TV magnification also works in concert with the VoiceView screen reader, so you can use both at the same time.

Magnification is being delivered as a free, over-the-air update throughout the month of September to all existing Fire TV users, and users who have a Fire TV Edition Smart TV. You can find information on magnification for Fire TV here.

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