Students whose learning styles do not integrate easily into the traditional approaches used in schools are at a disadvantage. Technology is rapidly transforming this situation and making full participation a reality for individuals with diverse conditions such as dyslexia, autism, learning disabilities and sensory and motor challenges.
The MITS Freedom Stick is a technology tool that opens up reading, writing, spelling, calculating and much more to students with many types of disabilities.
This free downloadable software allows students to turn almost any computer into a device that can access information in a manner that fits the student’s learning style. Some of the most useful capabilities allow students to hear any digital book read word-by-word while it is highlighted, to speak their ideas and have them typed by the program, to perform mathematical calculations in a variety of ways, to draw, create and edit visual and audio presentations, to organize their lives, and to gain skill in choosing and mastering technology.
The MITS Freedom Stick is a collection of free, open-source programs designed to support diverse learning styles and needs. It is supported by a full set of how-to videos and presentations. The Freedom Stick can be downloaded and installed on a home computer or a 4gb Flash Drive. Students can plug the system into school computers or public library computers, wherever any version of Microsoft Windows is installed.
Some of the programs included in MITS Freedom Stick are:
- Full version of Open Office which is equivalent to and integrates with Microsoft Office
- Variety of calculators: online, talking, scientific graphing, chemistry and physics
- Web browsers: fully accessible versions of Firefox, Opera, and Chrome with Text-To-Speech options
- Calendar and email systems
- Balabolka, a Text-To-Speech system which converts entire digital books to audio files, reads anything with word-by-word highlighting, and allows students to hear their own writing read back to them
- X-mind, a mind mapping program similar to Inspiration
- Screen magnifiers
- PowerTalk Portable, which reads aloud PowerPoint presentations
- Audacity, an audio recorder and player
For more information:
Download the MITS Freedom Stick (LearnApps), get updates, and additional information: http://mits.cenmi.org/Resources/MITSFreedomStick.aspx
Information about trainings on the MITS Freedom Stick: http://mits.cenmi.org/Events.aspx
Video tutorials: http://mits.cenmi.org/Resources/MITSFreedomStick/VideoTutorials.aspx
Dr. Kari Miller is a certified educational therapist and director of Miller Educational Excellence. She mentors special needs students to believe in their own success, achieve in school, and change their lives. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website to learn more about her 5-Step SUCCESS Program for tutoring special needs children.