The Many Faces of Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional

I have written extensively about the new features in Adobe Acrobat 9 over the past several months and continue to be very excited with all of the possibilities. In fact recently I have done several presentations with a focus on using Adobe Acrobat 9 for digital asset distribution. As a faculty member, I have found the ability to create PDF Portfolio's indispensable for the work that I do. Now that I am able to embed videos, SWF files, Word documents and deliver it as one unified PDF file it has made my life that much easier for posting materials onto BlackBoard.

As much as Adobe Acrobat 9Professional has helped me, I have found Acrobat to be extremely important in the work that I do with students with motor impairments. For the past several years I have relied on Adobe Acrobat to allow me to create accessible worksheets and documents for students that have difficulty using pencil and paper. Whether, if I am converting a worksheet that was created from Microsoft Word or scanning a worksheet into Acroba,t having the rich feature set in Acrobat has allowed the students that I work with to complete the worksheets on the computer as their peers would. With Acrobat's Form Recognition feature I am able to quickly set up the worksheet without too much touching up. The Form Recognition feature automatically looks for underlines and will place field boxes so that the student can type into the worksheet. This feature alone has saved teachers an incredible amount of time as they set up the worksheet. Teachers can also manually add form fields as well as create dropdown boxes, radio buttons and checkbox buttons for students to respond with. Using the tabbing function the student can move from one field to another quite easily. And lets not forget that Acrobat 9 also supports text to speech which can be enabled within the document which can be turned on from the View menu. Adobe Acrobat 9 also makes it easy for students to zoom into an area without any degradation in the clarity of the fonts. Likewise, students can use the various annotation features built into Adobe Acrobat to markup the document. I have had students use the arrows to complete worksheets that have involved telling time as well as some who have used the stamp feature to respond on the worksheet. All told Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional can provide students with a way to access a worksheet or page on the computer that can be filled out. With the release of Adobe Acrobat 9 it is now possible to have the teacher set up the document and email it home so that the student can access it with the Adobe Acrobat Reader 9. It is important to note that if the teacher wants the student to have access to the annotation features, then when the PDF file is created you must select Extend Features in Adobe Reader.. from the Advanced menu.

While I'm sure the folks at Adobe did not intend to develop an assistive technology tool- Adobe Acrobat 9 has proven to be an incredible tool to provide students with a way to make worksheets accessible on the computer. To view a quick Jing screencast on using the Form Recognition feature in Adobe Acrobat click here.

Mindjet Connections February Newsletter Available

I want to thank Gaelen from Mindjet for the fantastic interview that she did with me as part of her Customer Focus series in the Mindjet Connections Newsletter. You can read the entire interview and how I am using MindManager 8 in the professional work that I do. Also check out my video tutorial on how to use the "To Do" List in MindManager 8.

Join Joan Green for an Exciting Webinar

I have known Joan Green for a long time and have always been impressed with her knowledge, passion, and innovation in the way she utilizes assistive technology with the clients she works with. Joan is now presenting this information through her webinar series making it easier than ever to find out about new and exciting practices that can make a big difference for individuals with disabilities. See below information about the webinar that Joan will be hosting this week.

Joan and I have also teamed up and will be releasing later this month an innovative ebook on writing supports for individuals with disabilities. The book title, Technology Supports for Writing not only includes a rich source of information about various software and hardware tools but includes over a dozen videos showing you how the features and how these tools can be used. During the webinar Joan will give you a sneak peak of some of the videos in the book and whet your appetite. Joan is a rich source of information and if you have the time please sign up for the webinar. Look for a webinar coming soon on technology supports for writing that Joan and I will be doing shortly.

Information about the webinar

ITTS Webinar #5-
Reading, writing, studying and organizing help for students

Thursday, February 26th, 2009 12:30-2:00 PM EST and
Sunday, March 1, 2009 10:00-11:30 AM EST

Presented by Joan Green, M.A. CCC-SLP
To learn more about Joan and how she helps people with communication, cognitive, learning and literacy challenges as well as the families and education and rehabilitation professionals who help them, go to

Register now at $50.00
This fee is due for each professional viewing this webinar or up to 3 members in the same family.

What others have said about this series of webinars:

"I find your webinars useful because there is just an explosion of technology/software programs to address all sort of problems. I am very interested in using more technology in my work but I don't have your level of expertise so I appreciate learning from you which ones are worth having and which ones to pass on. " Maureen F. Shea, C.A.G.S.
NCSP/LPC/Diplomate in School Neuropsychology

"Thank you, Joan. Your webinars are great - organized and practical!. It really is the future. I may be using your TWIST at a Distance this year. My professional goal for 2009 is to expand my delivery of technology-based services. Lots of plans - very fun!"
Kathy Shuler- Speech-language pathologist

"I think the webinars are extremely worthwhile. I found each of the ones I've attended very valuable. I think OTs would benefit from them as well. "
Emilia M. Bozzo- Speech-language pathologist

" What a wealth of information and a huge time-saver!"
Gina Griffiths- Clinical Supervisor for Graduate SLP Program

It is a challenging time for professional development and parents are often frustrated that their children don't qualify for more individualized help in school. So many funds are being cut that everyone is looking for ways to save. Sign up now for this webinar to maximize your learning of how to help students improve literacy and learning while saving valuable time and financial resources.

This session was designed with proactive parents, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, special educators, clinical supervisors, graduate students and professors in mind. We will discuss how technology can be used to improve reading and writing, top picks for software, and other tools and devices offering visual and auditory based assistance.

Learn in the comfort of your home or office. No prior computer experience is needed. All that is required is high speed Internet access, a computer and speakers. If you do not already have JAVA on your computer, a free download will be provided. To listen to the webinar, participants can choose to dial a phone number or listen through their computer by enabling a voice feature. Mac users will need to download a small patch for the Voice Over IP (VOIP.) Interaction is encouraged by text chatting.
Joan L. Green, M.A. CCC-SLP
301-602-2899/ 1-800-IST-2550
Author of "Technology for Communication and Cognitive Treatment: The Clinician's Guide"

Please sign up for my e-newsletter at

Wallace Tait Interviews Brian S Friedlander

Listen to what we hope will be the first of many podcasts on the topic of visual mapping. This past weekend Wallace and I over Skype had a chance to sit down and talk about visual mapping, the Visual Mapping Body of Knowledge (VMBOK) and my upcoming presentation at the VizThink 2009 North American Conference. Listen to our banter and enjoy. Look for more podcasts coming soon that will be posted here at the AssistiveTek Blog. Enjoy!

MoFuse for Mobile Learners

With all of us on the go it is nice to be able to read our favorite blogs on our smartphones-but sometimes this presents a problem when the blog has been formatted for a desktop or laptop computer. This is where Mofuse comes to the rescue and helps you deliver your blog by reformatting your content for your smartphone. Within seconds I was able to register my blog with Mofuse and have my blog ready for a mobile phone experience. To see what the Assistive Tek Blog looks like on your smartphone click here. If you have a blog that you would like to reformat just go to Mofuse.

Poll Everywhere Adds Macintosh Support for Keynote and Powerpoint

PollEverywhere today announced that it will now support live data polling within Keynote and PowerPoint Mac.

Here’s how to download the Deskbar: when viewing your poll as either a “Live Chart” or “Live Text Wall”, click “Download Slide” and then “Keynote and PPT Mac”.

Papershow in Action

Today I had the good fortune of working with teachers from the East Brunswick Public Schools as part of their Professional Development In-service Program. Well over 100 teachers spent a full day with me as we explored a range of new tools and strategies to help address the needs of all learners in their classrooms. It was very exciting for me to see the lights go off as I introduced them to Web 2.0 technologies as as free tools that they could start using tomorrow in their classroom. A lot has changed since I entered the field of assistive technology and it is really incredible how much can be done and accomplished with some of the new Web 2.0 technologies to help address reading, writing, and math. During my presentation I introduced the teachers to Google Doc's, NaturalReader, MyWebspiration, as well as technologies that could take text and convert them to MP3 files. You could see the wheels were turning as the teachers reflected on their students.

During the presentation I brought along Papershow, to demonstrate for the teachers. I quickly realized just how powerful a tool this could be when doing presentations. With Papershow I could quickly write down a website or any other information that I wanted to share and have it viewed through my data projector. Throughout the day, I used Papershow and it worked flawlessly- I just have to remember to bring along a spare AAA battery for the pen. I was impressed that the software did alert me that the battery was low. In any case having Papershow, was like having a portable interactive whiteboard that I could write on and share my ideas. To read more about my experiences with Papershow click here.

You can take a look at the ground that I covered today in the workshop by viewing my Google Presentation. If you or your school are interested in having me come out and do a workshop or presentation on this topic please feel free to email me.

OoVoo 2.0 Released for Windows

Today I learned that OoVoo 2.0 has been released for Windows with some really exciting new features. It is now possible with OoVoo 2.0 to have a video chat with someone who doesn't have an OoVoo account and to initiate the call is really easy. Here is a breakdown of the new features

Here's what's new in ooVoo 2.0.

Get New ooVoo

Download ooVoo 2.0

Web Video Call: Friends who don’t have ooVoo can video call you right from their Web browser!

Video Chat Rooms: A simple way to embed a video chat in any website, blog or social network.

Better Friend Search: Looking for people to video call? It’s easier than ever to find them.

Excellent Audio Quality: You’ve got to hear it to believe it!

OoVoo continues to make some really significant developments with their platform and if you have not checked it out go to their website and download your copy of OoVoo and get started with video chatting and conferencing.

Papershow Coming Real Soon!

First, I would like to thank Molly from Bell Pottinger USA for sending me a sample Papershow Kit. For some reason I have been attracted to digital pen technology for the past 6 years or so and have tried a lot of the solutions that are now available that take advantage of Anoto functionality. Just last week I was fortunate enough to be able to try Papershow which is a new digital pen solution from Canson a European paper company who will release this solution the end of the week. In the kit I received a digital pen, a Bluetooth USB key, and two pads of interactive paper. The current solution only runs on Windows at this time and when you plug in the Bluetooth USB key the setup software launches and downloads the latest version of the Papershow software application to the Bluetooth USB key which also serves as Flash drive. Once the installation was complete I was took the cap of the digital pen off and it paired with the Bluetooth receiver. Now I was ready to go. I took out a piece of the A4 interactive paper and started to write on it and instantaneously whatever I write came up on the computer screen. I have recently done several demonstrations in my graduate cl assess of this technology and all of my students whom are teachers themselves said they wanted one. On the right side panel of the A4 interactive paper you have controls to change the width of the pen stroke, change the colors and draw basic lines, arrows, circles and squares. You can also fill the circles and squares with a color and highlight text with the highlighting tool. You can even erase your writing and objects on the computer with the eraser tool. To add another page simply click on the add page icon and you are presented with a clean slate. Having the Papershow pen and interactive paper gives you the freedom to walk around the class with a very light weight interactive tool. I was able to move throughout my classroom without a hitch. The digital pen and Bluetooth USB key worked flawlessly-recording all of my pen strokes. My graduate students were very excited with what they saw and all wished they could have one in their class to engage their students and I had with mine.

I passed the interactive paper and pen to each of my students so that they could have a try at using some of the features. They all found the interface very easy to use and within seconds they were able to use all of the features. For one of their class projects they need to create a video tutorial of them teaching a user how to use a piece of software. I demonstrated how they might use Jing and Papershow to model how to a specific type of math problem which they could then post to a web site. Using Papershow the students were able to create a screencast demonstrating how to do a simple multiplication process. With the Papershow application on the screen we started up Jing and my student recorded the process of a simple multiplication problem. Working with digital pen makes doing this type of task very easy to do. You will see in the screencast just how easy it was for my student to create the screencast.

While I found and education use for this program I could see this tool being very effectively used in a business meeting to capture ideas and share them immediately after the meeting. The Papershow software allows one to save the session as well as Export to a PDF, which makes it very easy to share the session after the meeting has adjourned. I have not had a chance to try it just yet, but in the Papershow Kit you will find 8 1/2 x 11 interactive paper to print your PowerPoint slides on which can then be marked up and annotated with the digital pen. There are lots of creative ways to use this technology and I for one, will begin to explore more of these avenues in the future. As I shared with Molly, I think that there is a real place for this type of technology in K-12 and higher education. I especially think that integrating this technology into distance learning classes could be a real winning solution. So if you have the chance take a look at Papershow Kit which will be sold at The Showpaper Kit will be sold for $198.00 dollars and will give you everything you need to get started. Paper Pricing is as follows

o $19.98 for 200 sheets of printer paper

o $19.98 for large, conference-room sized brainstorming pad (size A3)

o $12.98 for small brainstorming pad (size A4)

Check it out you will be glad you did- Brian

Kindle 2 to be Released February 24th

I'm sure many of you have been following the Kindle, since its release by Well on February 24th Amazon is about to release the Kindle 2.0 which will include a number of enhancements and features that I though you might be interested in hearing about. I am excited to see that the Kindle 2.0 will include text to speech which will allow anyone to have the Kindle read the text to them. What a great feature for students with reading disabilities. With a library of over 23o, 000 books this will be a welcome addition to the world of assistive technology. The Kindle 2.0 looks incredible thin and with its new capabilities it may even be something that I will decide to purchase. With built in 3G wireless you can download books from just about anywhere. The Kindle 2.0 can hold over 1500 titles which is quite awesome. The Kindle 2 will cost $359 dollars. Here is a link for more information.
Here are some of the new features:
Slim: Just over 1/3 of an inch, as thin as most magazines

Lightweight: At 10.2 ounces, lighter than a typical paperback

Wireless: 3G wireless lets you download books right from your Kindle, anytime, anywhere; no monthly fees, service plans, or hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots

Books in Under 60 Seconds: Get books delivered in less than 60 seconds; no PC required

Improved Display: Reads like real paper; now boasts 16 shades of gray for clear text and even crisper images

Longer Battery Life: 25% longer battery life; read for days without recharging

More Storage: Take your library with you; holds over 1,500 books

Faster Page Turns: 20% faster page turns

Read-to-Me: With the new Text-to-Speech feature, Kindle can read every book, blog, magazine, and newspaper out loud to you

Large Selection: Over 230,000 books plus U.S. and international newspapers, magazines, and blogs available

Low Book Prices: New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases $9.99, unless marked otherwise

Google Latitude Released

After reading abut the release of Google Latitude, a location based service which runs on smartphones (ie. iPhone, Blackberries, etc) I decided to install it on my Blackberry Curve and give it a whirl. The installation went very smoothly and with a reboot of my Blackberry Curve I was able to launch Google Maps and invite my contacts from my Google account to give me permission to see their location. Within minutes I received a reply from Ira Socol and I was able to see his location in Michigan- very cool. Location based services are maturing and moving forward we will be inundated with these types of services on our smartphones. For those who travel it is a great application to be able to see where your frinds and colleagues are in real time and connect with them. Google does allow you to change the Privacy settings within Google Latitude should you decide that you want to block your location. I found Google Latitude easy to use and by today I had three of my friends that I was following.

Webspiration Updated

One of the first visual mapping tools that I worked with many years ago was Inspiration and the first time I encountered it, it was a real epiphany for me. I could not believe how you could go from the diagram view to the outline view with a simple click of the mouse. But more importantly Inspiration always allowed me the capability to brainstorm and get my ideas down in a way that was more consistent with my learning style and I have been using visual mapping tools ever since. To this day, Inspiration remains one of my favorite tools for brainstorming and concept mapping and now with the introduction of Webspiration it has expanded the utility of the tool for me.

Just this morning I learned that Webspiration will now allow you to publish your visual maps to a public area on the web with a click of the mouse and give you the embedded code to place your maps on your blog. When you log onto your account you will now be taken to the Document Manager which enables you to quickly view your documents. Here is a screen shot to the left of how to publish your visual maps.

Here is the embeded visual map from my Webspiration account:

just click on the map to zoom in and move around.

Skype 4.0 Released Today

I have been a long time user of Skype and was glad to learn that Skype 4.0 was released to day. With nearly 15 million users Skype has become an indispensable communication tool for both educators and professionals to connect with one another for free. I was just on Skype yesterday with John England from Mindsystems,who hails from Australia and had a great conversation about Mindsystems Amode, a new information management software application that is under development. The Skype connection was crystal clear and we spoke for about forty minutes for free- which is incredible. With Skype you are able to reach out and touch folks across the globe and interact and meet people that would not be otherwise possible. Whether you are doing a video conference call or Instant Messaging as I'm doing now with Henry Lewkowicz from Context Discovery you will find Skype to be and incredible tool.

I did learn today that Skype has released version 4 of their software with an emphasis on video conferencing, improvements in voice quality, and interface enhancements. Here are some more information that was gleamed from the Skype blog:

  • Improved video calling – With the changes we’ve made, video calling in Skype 4.0 for Windows is the next best thing to being there. A new built-in bandwidth manager ensures that you have the very best video calling experience possible, even on a low bandwidth connection. If you have a fast enough connection (recommended 400 Kb/s or higher) and a high quality webcam, Skype delivers up to 30-frames-per-second High Quality Video at full screen.
  • Calls and instant messages are easier to manage – video and voice calls, as well as instant messaging, are all easy to reach in a single window. The new Conversations tab makes it easy to hold multiple conversations at once, and to switch quickly between video and voice calls, instant messages and SMS. This is particularly beneficial for the power users among you.
  • Call quality is substantially improved thanks to a number of under-the-hood changes. Calls sound richer and clearer than ever thanks to support for Super Wideband Audio with compatible hardware. The bandwidth manager should ensure that you have crystal clear calls even when bandwidth is low.
Enjoy and download the new version and try it out!