Wednesday, October 1, 2008

BASIC Cell Phones Can Be Assistive Technologies

While we are starting to see cell phones and software being developed specially for the blind and deaf, I wanted to take a few minutes and explore how BASIC cell phones (without the costly software) can be assistive devices for hearing impaired and visually impaired students. I am NOT an expert on assistive technologies, but I have been hearing from more teachers on how their special needs students are benefiting from cell phone technology, so I wanted to share what I have learned.

For the Visually Impaired
A VI teacher in one of my courses (Julie Burger) shared with me that her VI students often are the last to get to experience new technologies because the technologies need to be modified for the visually impaired. For example digital resources often need to be modified for screen readers. However, Julie became very excited about the possibilities of cell phones in learning because she realized that this would be one time that her VI students could be on the forefront of technologies (possibly even being able to introduce their new mobile tool discoveries with their classmates without disabilities). A basic cell phone offers the ability for visually impaired to do the following;
  1. Listen to any webpage
  2. Listen to newscasts and podcasts
  3. Send Speech to Text emails
  4. Send Speech to Text Blog posts
  5. Send Speech to Text Group posts (to places like Yahoo Groups)
  6. Send Speech to Text Calendar appointments and meetings
  7. Receive Voicemail reminders
  8. Listen to text messages
Hearing Impaired Students
While VI students can take advantage of speech to text, and text to speech options in cell phones, HI students can take advantage of these same options on a basic cell phone but in the opposite directions. For examples, HI students can type in text and it can be sent to other students/teachers cell phones as a audio message. A basic cell phone offers the following options for hearing impaired students to better participate in their everyday class activities:

  1. Send text messages that can become audio web-based posts (such as podcasts)
  2. Send text messages that can become audio Voicemail
  3. Receive an audio Voicemail message that can be transcribed into a text message
  4. Read podcasts/audio broadcasts on their cell phone


The following are some free applications that couple with basic cell phones for students with assistive needs. The best part of these resources is that they can be used by any student (Univerisal Design), and they are a great way for teachers to be inclusive when developing assignments, group projects, or even basic class activities.

Free Mobile Resources for VI and HI Learners
Jott (Speech to Text Translation, emails, appointments)
Jott Feeds (Listen to text-based webpages)
Rocketron (Listen to news feeds)
Rminder (Text to Speech reminders)
PingMe (Text Message Reminders for groups and individuals)
Text4deaf (2-way text messaging, keeps tracks of texts, sends to individuals/groups) (Thanks to
Karen Montgomery for showing me this resource!)
ChaCha or Mymiamia for Google Searches (Text Message for HI students)
Dial2do (Speech to Text)
YouMail & GrandCentral (Transcriptions of VoiceMail)
Sendible (Text-Based Evites)
Voki (Text to Speech Avatars)
Hey Cosmos (Text Message to Speech Surveys and Quizzes)
Google Voice (Voicemail with Speech to Text Transcription)
Phonevite (Voice Message surveys, quizzes, and feedback)

I know a few others also are researching and using cell phones as assitive tools, please share your ideas and resources.

1 comment:

Danja said...

I'd love to learn more about people using cellphones as assistive technology! Thank you so much for sharing everything you find.

Disclaimers and Other Information about this blog. The information on the blog may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct or up to date. The opinions expressed on the blog are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of anyone or any institution associated with the author. Links to external sources in the blog posts are provided solely as a courtesy to our blog visitors. All of the links on the sidebar under "recommended links" are links that the author believes to possibly have benefit in K-12 teaching and learning. All other sidebar links are related to cell phones and/or education but not necessary recommended as a K-12 learning resource by the author, some may be sponsor links and/or paid for image/banner ads. The author does not do paid reviews for her blog posts about web resources.Please contact Liz at elizkeren@yahoo.com for any inquires regarding this blog.
Creative Commons License Cell Phones in Learning by Liz Kolb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at cellphoneseinlearning.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cellphonesinlearning.com.