Fair showcases new note-taking programs, gadgets

Meghan Bogardus

Technology to help make students more efficient

The Assistive Technology Fair at Student Accessibility Services yesterday afternoon provided information to help all students, regardless of how they learn.

The fair, which was part of disAbility Awareness Month, was separated into seven stations and began with a quiz that told students whether they were visual, auditory or tactile learners.

While the quiz was comprised of a few simple questions, Mollie Miller, SAS adaptive technology coordinator, said it is often surprising to find out how a person learns.

“It was an eye-opener to me when I first discovered I was an auditory learner,” Miller said.

Since finding this out, Miller said her reading level and understanding have increased, and she hopes this will also happen with the students who attended the fair.

The rest of the stations focused on the software and other technology that can be used by any student to aid in learning.

“All of the new technology is amazing,” freshman architecture major Desireé Fitzgerald said.

The technology demonstrated by SAS graduate assistants and staff included ReadPlease, software that creates an audio version of text on a computer and Kurzweil 3000, a study skills software that can do anything from reading a text document out loud to creating study guides.

SAS accessibility coordinator Julie DiBiasio, who demonstrated a speech recognition software called Dragon NaturallySpeaking, said she uses the program on a daily basis.

DiBiasio showed how much quicker it is to speak into the device to type rather than type by hand. A user can also perform all formatting commands and save document hands free with the software.

DiBiasio said she often uses it to answer e-mails and use the Internet, which makes her day-to-day activities more efficient.

Miller said the most helpful and innovative device shown at the fair was the LiveScribe Smartpen, which came out just last year.

The tool writes like an average ink pen, but when using the special notebook it comes with, it can record an entire lecture through video and audio.

Miller’s son, Kenny, demonstrated the pen and said it takes 70 pictures per second and is able to reproduce a copy of the person’s notes onto a computer.

Also, when the pen is tapped at a certain part of the notebook, it will go to that section of the lecture and play back the audio.

“It was supposed to revolutionize note taking,” Miller said.

Miller herself owns a Smartpen and said she previously took it to a five-day conference where she ran out of ink, which is stored in printer-like cartridges. However, she kept writing by making indentations on the page, and she was able to get a picture of her notes on her computer just as if she had used ink.

All in all, Miller said she wanted to show students what technology is available to help them in whatever way they need.

“I think I want them to walk away with the fact that there are tools out there to help make them more successful,” Miller said.

Contact student affairs reporter Meghan Bogardus at [email protected]