Family Friendly Tech and Advocacy: Tech Psychologist's Guide by Dr. Jeanne Beckman

Family Friendly Tech and Advocacy: Tech Psychologist's Guide   by Dr. Jeanne Beckman
Finally, a book to help families find the right technology to accommodate reading disorders (dyslexia) and other disabilties! ISBN 978-1-60264-089-4

How to purchase my book

To purchase through Virtual Bookworm (my publisher) you can click Virtual Bookworm Publisher: Tech Psychologist's Guide or
Amazon no longer allows Illinois professionals to get credit for referrals to Amazon due to a sales tax dispute. I will be referring to Powell's in the near future.

What is that TinyURL notation that you see in my blog? For those who use a screen reader, the link that is hidden behind words like Tech Psychologist Guide remains hidden. However, screen readers can read aloud the website address, or URL, if it was produced by Also, sometimes these addresses are so long that they wrap around several lines or overlap into colored areas of a website that obscure the actual address. Intrigued? You can create your own tinyurl's at

Monday, December 31, 2007

Students cannot be denied participating in accellerated classes or denied accommodations in those classes

Students and their families have reported that they are not allowed to be in accelerated and/or AP classes in school if they have disabilities. Some also report that they must forgo their accommodations if they wish to be in such classes. The federal government has written a letter indicating that the school must provide accommodations in the advanced classes if a student's section 504 plan or IDEA IEP indicates such accommodations are necessary in order for a student to benefit from school curriculula.

If you are having difficulty obtaining appropriate accommodations or you suspect that you may have a disability, please contact me via my website at or email me at

Here is the text of the letter:

OCR: Office for Civil Rights

Dear Colleague Letter: Access by Students with Disabilities to Accelerated Programs


DEC 26, 2007

Dear Colleague:

I am writing to advise you of an issue involving students with disabilities seeking enrollment in challenging academic programs, such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes or programs (accelerated programs). Specifically, it has been reported that some schools and school districts have refused to allow qualified students with disabilities to participate in such programs. Similarly, we are informed of schools and school districts that, as a condition of participation in such programs, have required qualified students with disabilities to give up the services that have been designed to meet their individual needs. These practices are inconsistent with Federal law, and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education will continue to act promptly to remedy such violations where they occur.

As you know, OCR is responsible for enforcing two Federal laws that protect qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination. OCR enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and its implementing regulations at 34 CFR Part 104, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance. OCR is also responsible, in the education context, for enforcing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II) and its implementing regulations at 28 CFR Part 35, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability by entities of State and local government. Although this letter discusses aspects of the Section 504 regulation, Title II provides no lesser protections than does Section 504. Also relevant are the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is administered by the Department's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). The IDEA provides funds to States and school districts in order to assist them in providing special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities. The IDEA's implementing regulations are located at 34 CFR Part 300. OCR consulted with OSEP in drafting this letter.1

As an initial matter, I want to commend the efforts so many of you have made to ensure that placement decisions for all students are based on each student's individual academic abilities regardless of the presence, nature, or severity of a disability. I want to ensure that all of you are aware of the Federal civil rights requirements discussed below.
Prohibition Against Disability-Based Discrimination in Accelerated Programs

The practice of denying, on the basis of disability, a qualified student with a disability the opportunity to participate in an accelerated program violates both Section 504 and Title II. Discrimination prohibited by these laws includes, on the basis of disability, denying a qualified individual with a disability the opportunity to participate in or benefit from the recipient's aids, benefits, or services, and affording a qualified individual with a disability with an opportunity to participate in or benefit from the aid, benefit or service in a manner that is not equal to that offered to individuals without disabilities. 34 CFR 104.4(a), (b)(1)(i), (b)(1)(ii); 28 CFR 35.130(a), (b)(1)(i), (b)(1)(ii).

Under Section 504 and Title II, a recipient may not utilize criteria or methods of administration that have the effect of subjecting qualified individuals with disabilities to discrimination on the basis of disability. 34 CFR 104.4(b)(4) and 28 CFR 35.130(b)(3). A public entity also may not impose or apply eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out an individual with a disability or any class of individuals with disabilities from fully and equally enjoying any service, program, or activity, unless such criteria can be shown to be necessary for the provision of the service, program, or activity being offered. 28 CFR 35.130(b)(8). Public school students with disabilities who require special education and/or related services receive them either through implementation of an individualized education program (IEP) developed in accordance with Part B of the IDEA or a plan developed under Section 504. 34 CFR 104.33. It is unlawful to deny a student with a disability admission to an accelerated class or program solely because of that student's need for special education or related aids and services2, or because that student has an IEP or a plan under Section 504. The practice of conditioning participation in an accelerated class or program by a qualified student with a disability on the forfeiture of special education or of related aids and services to which the student is legally entitled also violates the Section 504 and Title II requirements stated above.

Please note that nothing in Section 504 or Title II requires schools to admit into accelerated classes or programs students with disabilities who would not otherwise be qualified for these classes or programs. Generally, under Section 504, an elementary or secondary school student with a disability is a qualified individual with a disability if the student is of compulsory school age. However, schools may employ appropriate eligibility requirements or criteria in determining whether to admit students, including students with disabilities, into accelerated programs or classes. Section 504 and Title II require that qualified students with disabilities be given the same opportunities to compete for and benefit from accelerated programs and classes as are given to students without disabilities. 34 CFR 104.4(b)(1)(ii) and 28 CFR 35.130(b)(1)(ii).

Furthermore, a recipient's provision of necessary special education and related aids and services to qualified students with disabilities in accelerated classes or programs must be consistent with the Section 504 and Title II requirements regarding free appropriate public education (FAPE).
Free Appropriate Public Education

In general, conditioning participation in accelerated classes or programs by qualified students with disabilities on the forfeiture of necessary special education or related aids and services amounts to a denial of FAPE under both Part B of the IDEA and Section 504.

Section 504 requires a recipient that operates a public elementary or secondary education program or activity to provide FAPE to each qualified person with a disability who is in the recipient's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the person's disability. 34 CFR 104.33(a). Under Section 504, the provision of an appropriate education is the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services that satisfy certain procedural requirements and that are designed to meet the individual education needs of persons with disabilities as adequately as the needs of persons without disabilities are met. 34 CFR 104.33(b)(1)(i). School districts may create a plan or other document to provide students with disabilities with FAPE pursuant to Section 504. The Section 504 FAPE requirement may also be met through the implementation of an IEP developed in accordance with Part B of the IDEA. 34 CFR 104.33(b)(2).
Part B of the IDEA requires that FAPE be made available to eligible students with disabilities in certain age ranges. The IDEA defines FAPE as special education and related services that: are provided free of charge; meet State standards; include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education; and are provided in conformity with a properly developed IEP. 20 USC § 1401(a)(9); 34 CFR 300.17.3

Participation by a student with a disability in an accelerated class or program generally would be considered part of the regular education or the regular classes referenced in the Section 504 and the IDEA regulations. Thus, if a qualified student with a disability requires related aids and services to participate in a regular education class or program, then a school cannot deny that student the needed related aids and services in an accelerated class or program. For example, if a student's IEP or plan under Section 504 provides for Braille materials in order to participate in the regular education program and she enrolls in an accelerated or advanced history class, then she also must receive Braille materials for that class. The same would be true for other needed related aids and services such as extended time on tests or the use of a computer to take notes.

Conditioning enrollment in an advanced class or program on the forfeiture of needed special education or related aids and services is also inconsistent with the principle of individualized determinations, which is a key procedural aspect of the IDEA, Section 504 and Title II. As noted above, under Section 504, the provision of FAPE is based on the student's individual education needs as determined through specific procedures--generally, an evaluation in accordance with Section 504 requirements. 34 CFR 104.35. An individualized determination may result in a decision that a qualified student with a disability requires related aids and services for some or all of his regular education classes or his program. Likewise, the IDEA contains specific procedures for evaluations and for the development of IEPs that require individualized determinations. See 34 CFR 300.301 through 300.328. The requirement for individualized determinations is violated when schools ignore the student's individual needs and automatically deny a qualified student with a disability needed related aids and services in an accelerated class or program.

I urge you to use the information provided in this letter to continue to evaluate whether your school district is in compliance with these anti-discrimination requirements. OCR remains willing to continue supporting you in these efforts. We provide technical assistance to entities that request assistance in voluntarily complying with the civil rights laws that OCR enforces. If you need additional information or assistance on these or other matters, please do not hesitate to contact the OCR enforcement office that serves your state or territory. The contact information for each office is available online at: I thank you in advance for your cooperation and assistance in this important matter.
Sincerely yours,

Stephanie Monroe
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

copied from

If you are having difficulty obtaining appropriate accommodations or you suspect that you may have a disability, please contact me via my website at or email me at

Friday, December 28, 2007

Okay football fans: Check out this coach!

While we have politicians, school officials, and others telling our students what they cannot possibly do, here's one coach who shatters these myths of diminished expectations:

International Herald Tribune
Disabled Hawaii graduate assistant Brian Kajiyama to travel with team for the first time

The Associated Press
Monday, December 24, 2007

HONOLULU: He spends hours on the football field, but his feet never touch the turf. His specialty is dissecting offenses, but he's never played a down.

Meet Brian Kajiyama, a first-year graduate assistant for Hawaii who was born with cerebral palsy, scoots around in a motorized wheelchair and communicates by typing into a small computer that speaks in a robotic voice.

As a member of the coach June Jones' staff, Kajiyama is responsible for breaking down game film and preparing scouting reports for the defense.

Ask Hawaii's players and coaches and they'll tell you Kajiyama has contributed greatly to the best football season the school has ever had. The Warriors are Western Athletic Conference champions, the only unbeaten team in major college football and on their way to their first Bowl Championship Series appearance and a matchup against No. 4 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.

"Everybody talks about the greatness of this 12-0 team and how we have a tremendous quarterback. That is so true," said Jeff Reinebold, Hawaii's defensive line coach. "(But) is there anybody who has made the impact that guy in the chair is making in terms of changing lives? I don't know."

Reinebold called Kajiyama's role at Hawaii "groundbreaking."

"Brian, to my knowledge, is the first wheelchair-bound, non-speaking coach in college football," Reinebold said.

Kajiyama attends every practice. He zips around the field and is generous with his high-fives and smiles. A Warriors logo is proudly displayed on the back of his wheelchair. Above that, there's a sticker that reads, "No Fear."

As long as he can remember, he always wanted to be part of a team, in the action, on the field.

"It's been a great ride that I never, ever dreamed of, even in my wildest dreams," Kajiyama said.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why Dyslexics Make Great Entrepreneurs

In the past few weeks, there has been tremendous buzz about research that found that more than one third of all U.S. entrepreneurs have dyslexia (difficulties with reading). In an article from Business Week, Gabrielle Coppola tells why these individuals are so successful.

Why Dyslexics Make Great Entrepreneurs

The ability to grasp the big picture, persistence, and creativity are a few of the entrepreneurial traits of many dyslexics. Just ask Charles Schwab

When Alan Meckler, the CEO of IT and online imagery hub Jupitermedia (JUPM), was accepted to Columbia University in 1965, the dean's office told him he had some of the lowest college boards of any student ever admitted. "I got a 405 or 410 in English," he recalls. "In those days you got a 400 just for putting your name down! Yet I was on the dean's list every year I was there, and I won a prize for having the best essay in American history my senior year."

It wasn't until years later, at age 58, that Meckler learned he was dyslexic. He struggles with walking and driving directions, and interpreting charts and graphs. He prefers to listen to someone explain a problem to him, rather than sit down and read 20 pages describing it. As a youth, Meckler discovered a unique strength—baseball—and cultivated it religiously to compensate for weakness in other areas.

Asset or Handicap?

All of these things, according to Dr. Sally Shaywitz, a professor of learning development at Yale University, are classic signs of dyslexia. Shaywitz has long argued that dyslexia should be evaluated as an asset, not just a handicap. She recently co-founded the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, dedicated to studying the link between the two. "I want people to wish they were dyslexic," she says. "There are many positive attributes that can't be taught that people are generally not aware of. We always write about how we're losing human capital—dyslexics are not able to achieve their potential because they've had to go around the system."

It's not clear whether dyslexics develop their special talents by learning to negotiate their disability or whether such skills are the genetic inheritance of being dyslexic. It's a question Shaywitz plans to explore, along with trying to change the way dyslexia is viewed in the educational system and the business world. One project at the center will be an education series to train executives to recognize outside-the-box thinkers who don't perform well on standardized tests.



Makes you wonder what we are doing to our dyslexic students when schools relegate them to segregated classrooms and force them to use watered-down literature, science, math, and other general education curricula that are "geared to their independent reading level" instead of to their ability level. Does It Make Sense?

I invite readers to tell me their stories, either here or email me at

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Do I have to have a diagnosed learning disability to benefit from text-to-speech?

Many adults and children have asked whether someone could benefit from text-to-speech, such as" Kurzweil," if they've never been diagnosed as having a learning disability such as dyslexia. The answer is a resounding "YES!" Slow readers, delayed learners, those who do not speak, those with autism, those who have difficulty remembering what they read, those who have trouble paying attention to what they read, those who tire easily as they read, those who have difficulty holding a book or turning pages,... the list goes on and on. There are many ways to personalize the software to meet your particular needs.

Personally, I use Kurzweil 3000 to read while I'm on my treadmill so that I don't have to hold a book (no bouncing pages) and can see the words while I hear them. How do you like to read?

Here's a YouTube video of a demonstration of Kurzweil 3000:

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

There are many ways to express your art

Here's a young woman, born with cerebral palsy, who draws holding a pen between her toes, and does web design with a foot controlled mouse and a head stylus to type on the keyboard. Here computer speaks for her in a natural sounding voice. Think of the possibilities if we could bring out the artist in all people. How do you express your creative side?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hands Free Music

Well, it seems that this week I am sharing all kinds of technology that facilitates adaptive music performance (technology for performing music). For those who know me, I love playing musical instruments and have a hard time imagining life without any opportunity to experiment and/or master some sort of musical instrument. This group has found ways for those with mobility impairments to make music.

Here's a video:

Here's a link at

On January 1, 2007 DLI received received funding in the amount of $20,000 from the Malcolm S. Morse Foundation for a new project: Adaptive Use Musical Instruments for the Physically Challenged (AUMIPC). The Academy for Electronic Media (AEM) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Don Millard, director is contributing design and programming, the Arts Dept. of RPI, Kathy High, head is providing a student designer/programmer compensated by the Undergraduate Research Program as support to the project.

Some objectives of the AUMIPC project are to create new flexible interfaces, digital controls, computer programs, inputs and outputs to musical instruments for use by children with very little mobility or other varieties of impairments. The intended result is to enable the physically challenged to create and perform electronic sounds in ensembles and to improvise and compose their own music.

The initial work of the Adaptive Use Musical Instruments for the Physically Challenged (AUMIPC) is hosted at Rehab Programs Inc. School (RPIS) in Poughkeepsie NY (Robert Kelleher, director.)

The AUMIPC team includes:

Composer/performer/educator and President of DLI Pauline Oliveros director and coordinator of the project.

Musican/educator/occupational therapist at RPIS Leaf Miller, liaison with the RPIS, coordinator of site visits and conferences with the other therapists and three severely physically challenged children. Miller is a principle contributor of ideas for the designers and programmers.

Electrical Engineer and director of the AEM at RPI – Don Millard is directing design, construction of devices and programming

Music educator, improviser and trombonist David Dove, director of Nameless Sound, Houston TX consultant to the project, teaches physically challenged and autistic children in his educational program and provides musical scores and suggestions for improvisation involving the children.

DLI Intern, composer and programmer Zevin Polzin researches, designs and implements controllers and programs for the children.

RPI Arts Department graduating senior, musician and programmer Zane Van Duzen is designing and implementing programs for controlling electronic musical instruments.

As director of AUMIPC Oliveros asked to work with three of the children with the least physical motion. The intent and objectives are to maximize the feedback, possible expression and learning for the children, open up more creative inputs for them and to minimize programming time for the therapists. If a switch can be activated by a child then the therapist should be able to easily program a customized session for any child that is mutually satisfying in terms of expressive output and intelligent learning situations.

During the initial session at RPIS, organized with therapists and children by Miller, the AUMIPC team quickly understood that hardware and programming could be quickly and greatly improved affording therapists a more efficient and friendly interface for programming more and better choices, creative activities and feed back to the child in order to broaden the children's expressive options and to accelerate their learning.

The team noted that different modes of input from the child might be utilized and trained such as voice using visual feedback with spectrograms, microphone input and temperature, magnetic field, and other forms of motion capture with camera input and using a variety of sensors.

The AEM under the direction of Don Millard will program a laptop purchased for the project to supplement or replace the Dynavox currently used at RPIS. Therapists will be able to program for the children with ease and flexibility so that valuable therapy time is available for the child rather than struggling with awkward computer interfaces. Audio and visual output will be available and perhaps haptic feedback to the child as well.

How do you make music?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Braille music instruction

While in Washington DC for the National Center for Technology Innovation conference, I met Bill McCann, founder and president of Dancing Dots, who designed software that assists visually impaired individuals learn piano and transcribe music into Braille.

Dancing Dots serves blind musicians and their educators through technology and training.

"Where Music Meets Technology for the Blind"

Any sighted musician can scan and edit print notation and convert it to the equivalent braille notation with our GOODFEEL Braille Music Translator. These sighted copyists need not necessarily know braille.

Blind musicians can independently create sound recordings and printed scores with CakeTalking for SONAR and Sibelius Speaking for Sibelius. You can now order our Dancing Dots Accessible Audio and Notation Workstation. We can train you to use any of our technology, more mainstream applications or to learn to read braille music. Here's our reference guide that describes a situation and suggests specific products and resources.

We offer a variety of products including braille music courses, and assistive technology such as JAWS and Duxbury Braille Translator. Dancing Dots can consult with you and supply your needs. We represent the leading manufacturers of assistive technology and music supplies. Find a sound card, MIDI controller or a MIDI interface for your PC. If you can't find what you're looking for just ask and we'll help. If the information above makes little sense to you or you'd just like to see a brief list of our products listed by need, they will assist you with the entire process.

Blind 9-year old musician performs for Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder at international conference

There's no denying music is a large part of Rachel Flowers' life. The 9-year-old from San Bernardino, California is a rhythmic and melodic magnet. Every catchy tune or harmonic sound she encounters gets absorbed through her ears, processed in her mind and translated through her fingertips.

Music might even be in her DNA given that her parents, Jeanie and Daniel, and both sets of grandparents are musically inclined. From the time when she was 2, Rachel has been playing the piano and keyboards.

What separates Rachel from other young inspiring musicians is not that she prefers classical and jazz versus bubblegum bands and American Idols, but the method in which she reads, writes and produces music. Blinded by retinopathy of prematurity as a result of being born 15 weeks early, Rachel relies on assistive technology called CakeTalking for SONAR.

CakeTalking for SONAR contains scripts for JAWS® for Windows and is available solely through Freedom Scientific dealer Dancing Dots. Those who are familiar with JAWS can learn music through customized scripts that allow musicians to perform in conjunction with many mainstream music applications. They can navigate graphical views of musical information and turn their PCs into music studios.

Rachel has been using the program for three years.

"She hears a piece, and her mind is already going," her mother said proudly. "Once she was introduced to computer sequencing, music was a real explosion. She jumped in with both feet. It was amazing to see."

While Rachel has performed in many venues including school talent shows, perhaps her biggest concert came at the 18th Annual CSUN International Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities this spring in Los Angeles. She demonstrated SONAR to more than 300 people, sequencing Ray Charles' version of "America the Beautiful" because the famous singer was in attendance along with Stevie Wonder.

Rachel also sang as she played and Jeanie joined in on the microphone for a verse.

"I saw Stevie and thought, 'oh my gosh, I'm singing in front of Stevie Wonder,' " Jeanie said. "But it was Rachel's night."

Rachel was familiar with Ray Charles not only because of "America the Beautiful," but also because of the children's book called "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom," an alphabet book he read on audio cassette. Rachel talked briefly with Ray at CSUN. She also got a chance to tell Stevie Wonder she had a version of his song "As" sequenced, so he sang a verse of it in to her tape recorder.

Rachel's recent brush with greatness was nothing new. When she was 4, Jeanie and Daniel performed at coffee houses and she was usually in the audience. One night, Rachel sat at the piano and started playing Beethoven's "Fur Elise." The store owner was so amazed, he contacted one of his television friends and soon after, Rachel was on the local news - a celebrity in her own right.

Music always has been a part of Rachel's life, whether it was listening to her parents play guitar or hearing a rock 'n' roll song on the radio. She even has an ear for gamelan music, which is a traditional Indonesian instrumental ensemble comprising mainly percussion instruments.

Music also figures to be a part of Rachel's future. Listening to it. Loving it. And thanks to CakeTalking for SONAR and JAWS, learning it and playing it.

"I think that's her life," Jeanie said. "It's what she lives for."

Read her story and more at
or go to the dancingdots website at

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Study Links Drop in Test Scores to a Decline in Time Spent Reading

Without strong essential reading comprehension skills, our children will have great difficulty participating in civic, political, and work activities. Here's an article about a new study to help us understand what is going on...

New York Times: Arts
Study Links Drop in Test Scores to a Decline in Time Spent Reading
Published: November 19, 2007

Americans appear to be reading less for fun, and as that happens, their reading test scores are declining, according to a new report by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Harry Potter, James Patterson and Oprah Winfrey's book club aside, Americans — particularly young Americans — appear to be reading less for fun, and as that happens, their reading test scores are declining. At the same time, performance in other academic disciplines like math and science is dipping for students whose access to books is limited, and employers are rating workers deficient in basic writing skills.
Skip to next paragraph
Publications From the National Endowment for the Arts

That is the message of a new report being released today by the National Endowment for the Arts, based on an analysis of data from about two dozen studies from the federal Education and Labor Departments and the Census Bureau as well as other academic, foundation and business surveys. After its 2004 report, "Reading at Risk," which found that fewer than half of Americans over 18 read novels, short stories, plays or poetry, the endowment sought to collect more comprehensive data to build a picture of the role of all reading, including nonfiction.


Monday, November 19, 2007

National Center for Technology Innovation Conference

Wow! Last week, I was at the National Center for Technology Innovation Conference ( I learned so much and met so many people, that I don't know where to begin in sharing the collective brain of it. So, while I synthesize my thoughts, I'm passing on the YouTube video I learned about called "Shift Happens."

Please leave a comment here to let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Voice Recognition for GPS: Now that's Universal Design that's finally listening to me!

Consumer Report's blog reviews a portable GPS unit that can listen to users with voice recognition.

SEMA - TomTom 920 portable GPS
As competition in the GPS market continues to heat up, TomTom showed its first voice-command activated navigation system at SEMA. (We recently tested the Magellan Maestro 4050, considered the first portable unit with voice recognition.) The 920 allows users to enter a street address by speaking it to the unit rather than using a keyboard, which the manufacturer says makes it the first portable unit with this capability. Other recently introduced voice-command units can only take voice commands for pre-programmed addresses or items from their point-of-interest menu. The 920 also can continue to provide guidance when it temporarily loses its signal, such as when going through a tunnel. Another new feature enables users to press one button for their current location in an emergency, or to note where they’ve parked their car to help find it later. Called “Help Me,” this also enables users with a Bluetooth-enabled phone to summon police or a wrecker with one button, akin to a core feature of OnStar. Priced at $599.95, the 920 is in stores now. The 920 adds a traffic receiver for $100 if purchased with the unit including a one year subscription, or $129.95 if purchased later. Annual renewals cost $60 for the service.
Voice-recognition programming is a big safety benefit for any GPS system. Without a helpful passenger, a driver trying to program a system by hand while driving is a big no-no because of the distraction from driving. While the best factory voice-recognition systems work well and are comprehensive in capability, we found the Maestro’s abilities were limited. Hopefully, the TomTom works better.
No word on whether the 920 could talk to itself with a downloaded celebrity voice...
—Jim Travers
Read this and other Consumer Report reviews at

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Text Aloud: Text to Speech for everyone, including multitaskers

One inexpensive text-to-speech software that I use regularly for proofreading is TextAloud. Here's a press release from, regarding their product:

Denver Professional Hears Books, Recipes and More with TextAloud and

CLEMMONS, NC and Denver, CO - Julie M. of Denver, Colorado is an accomplished musician, performer and social worker who loves to read, cook, podcast and surf the Internet - and whose blindness doesn't slow her down for even a moment. Thanks to tools like NextUp's Text to Speech software program TextAloud, and in conjunction with resources like, Julie can quickly and easily listen to everything from the latest bestsellers to online recipes.

TextAloud is an easy and affordable software program from NextUp Technologies ( that converts text into spoken audio files for listening on a PC or portable device. The program has become increasingly popular with users like Julie M., as well as blind and visually disabled users worldwide, thanks to its natural and human-sounding voices, a welcome alternative to the more traditional or robotic-sounding readers.

For individuals like Julie, is the perfect complement to TextAloud. Bookshare is an online community that dramatically increases access to books for individuals who are visually impaired and otherwise print-disabled, enabling the legitimate and legal sharing of book scans contributed by Bookshare members as well as directly from publishers. TextAloud Text to Speech software works seamlessly with this resource, as it enables Bookshare members to then export those books to audio files that can be played on anything from computers to iPods® and other portables. The text read aloud via TextAloud offers high-quality, realistic and human-sounding voices which are a far cry from the less naturalistic, more 'robotic-sounding' voices of decades past.

"I love to read, and with, for only $50 a year, I can download all the books I want," Julie comments. "And by using TextAloud to read them aloud to me, I get voices that are better and much more interesting than those for other screen readers." Julie's favorite voices with TextAloud include such premium voice choices as 'Heather' from Acapela®, 'Ray' from AT&T Natural Voices™, and 'Paul' from NeoSpeech®.

"TextAloud also captures the Clipboard," says Julie, "which is handy when doing internet research." TextAloud also easily saves files to MP3 and WMA formats, which is especially useful for Julie's busy schedule not only as a social worker, but as a musician and performer as well. "It's perfect for commuters and others on the go," she adds. Julie is also an avid podcaster, so when she does research for her show, she listens to web and e-mail content via TextAloud, and also uses the program to save the content for later use and review as well.

But TextAloud isn't just for books. As an avid cook, Julie also cleverly uses TextAloud to read her recipes aloud from the Internet or her other favorite resources. She then easily plays back the files while cooking in the kitchen on her MP3 player or via a dub she has made to cassette tape, to remind herself of the ingredients and directions.

Lisa Friendly, Manager of for Benetech, is delighted to see that Bookshare subscribers like Julie are pioneering the ways in which TextAloud can be used to optimize their reading experience by tailoring it to their individual preferences. "What a great idea to have the recipe read to you while you're cooking, or to be able to continue reading your book while you're folding the laundry. With a naturalistic sounding voice, the experience doesn't diminish from one reading method to the next." ...Highly useful for students wanting to maximize study time or listen on the go -- and perfect for Back to School season -- TextAloud has been featured in The New York Times, PC Magazine, Writer's Digest, on CNN, and more. Hailed by critics and users alike, TextAloud is priced at just $29.95, and is compatible with systems using Windows (R) 98, NT, 2000, XP and VISTA. The program is available for fast, safe and secure purchase via

Read more:

In addition to those with visual disabilities, those with learning disabilities, cognitive challenges, and anyone who struggles to read unaccommodated text, can benefit from using TextAloud.

With its great price and multitude of uses, this product certainly points to universal design, a concept that serves a broad spectrum of society, not just those with disabilities (curb cuts are a great example of universal design, as they not only accommodate wheelchairs, but they also help those with strollers and rolling luggage. Here are some ways I've used TextAloud:
1. Reviewing text notes (converted to mp3) before a big presentation while taking a shower or cooking
2. Proofing a letter, book, or essay (hearing the words while seeing them helps me to catch errors)
3. Listening to a digital book while running on my treadmill, either while viewing the book on my laptop, or by listening to the TextAloud's mp3 conversion of the book.

How many ways can you think of to use this software?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Does AAC inhibit language acquisition?

Does it make sense?

There are still teachers and other professionals who tell parents that children with delayed or absent speech should learn to speak "the regular way" instead of using AAC (Alternate and Augmentive Communication)devices. Years ago, they pushed this same theory for the deaf, not allowing them to use sign language in school. In reality, by not allowing individuals to have an effective method to communicate with others, they are destined to experience long-lasting social isolation, decreased skills and knowledge acquisition, and mental health symptoms.

Others who can benefit from AAC include adults who have suffered a stroke, ALS, surgery affecting vocal output, EVERY individual, even those with developmental delays (slow learning) and autism spectrum disorders, have a right to be able to express their needs, thoughts, and desires. If institutional decision-makers claim that disabled individuals "don't need" an AAC device that includes voice output, they are in essence forcing these individuals to a segregated, isolated life where they cannot communicate with "regular" individuals.
Here is an article that debunks the myths associated with AAC:

Does AAC impede natural speech?—and other fears
Even when a child's communication impairments are interfering with his or her cognitive, social and emotional development, some parents and practitioners are reluctant to introduce AAC. This is very understandable since AAC-based communication is frequently viewed as the solution of last resort, condemning a child to a lifetime of abnormal and limited communication. It is considered the end of all hope of natural speech, to be used only after years of failed speech therapy. (Berry, 1987; Mirenda & Schuler, 1988).

Nor does it mean the end of any hope of speech development. Children are frequently provided with communication programs in which speech is a major component. (See Multimodal communication.) In fact, since natural speech is the ideal mode of communication in many circumstances, it behooves a young child to continue with speech therapy along with AAC in order to develop his or her speaking ability to its fullest potential. In fact, numerous studies have found that the introduction of AAC frequently has a positive affect on speech; children who are given AAC often develop speech faster than they would have otherwise (Bodine & Beukelman, 1991; Van Tatenhove, 1987).

On the other hand, while it may be appropriate to continue to focus on speech, it is unfair to leave a child with little or no means of communicating effectively while undergoing years of speech therapy. A child who is unable to communicate effectively is unable to participate meaningfully in many activities, and is at great risk for delays in cognitive, social and emotional development. (See When does a child need AAC?) Thus, it is crucial that he or she be provided with at least some ability to communicate that offers some immediate control over people and the environment, and can be expanded or modified as necessary to meet the needs of the future.
The following table shows the most common fears and myths regarding the use of AAC, as well as research that refutes such concerns, and practical solutions that directly address these issues. Read more at:

If you have questions about how whether someone you know needs or might benefit from technology, please visit Dr. Beckman's website at, call her at 847-446-1251 (USA, or email her at

Thursday, November 1, 2007

School Bullies? What about when the teacher does the bullying?

A new website is packed full of information about bullying, including children being bullied by their teachers. A stop bullying website states,

It is important to remember that not only do children bully each other, but adults can bully children, too. For example, a study of urban elementary school teachers in the U.S. (Twemlow et al., 2006) found that 40% admitted that they had bullied a student, and 3% said they did so "frequently." A Norwegian study of 2,400 students in grades 6-9 found that 2% of students had been victims of teacher bullying (Olweus, 2005). Adults must not only be watchful for signs of bullying among the children and youth that they work with, but they should also be sensitive to possible bullying of children by adults, as well.

Find out more about this and other bullying topics at

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Intriguing Handwriting Tool for Palm Pilots

Many know how difficult it is to use the graffiti for Palm Pilots, opting instead to use the tiny on-screen keyboard. Here's a little program that offers a handwriting option.

Here's what they say:

Using MobileWrite, it is easy to enter text and data, in to your favorite Palm OS applications, by simply writing on the screen of your handheld, instead of using the keyboard. It is an improvement over the Graffiti 1 and Graffiti 2 handwriting recognition software found on many Palm OS PDAs and Smartphones.

Mobile Write PalmOS

MobileWrite gives you an option to use standard printed letters or Graffiti letters. Using the standard letters, capitals and lowercase letters can be written as you normally would on paper. With its standard set of characters, and the ability to write complete words across the entire width of the screen, letter writing or data entry can be done with less effort. Using the Graffiti letters option, data can be entered faster and with increased accuracy thanks to the efficient 1 stroke letters.

MobileWrite supports multiple ways of writing the same character. For example, capital "A", may be written in 4 different ways, and lowercase "a", may be written in 2 different ways. All the supported character styles can be viewed by downloading this software and pressing the "Show" button.

I hope to try this program myself as well as getting feedback from another Palm Pilot user. For more information, go to

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Demystifying People with Disabilities

Have you ever wondered how to interact with those who have disabilities? Here's an article that provides a good place to start:

From the Fred's Head Database...

Monday, October 29, 2007
How Do You Do That? Demystifying People With Disabilities


Nearly all employers and human resource professionals are aware of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Yet, how often do you, your colleagues, or the average individual have contact with someone who is visually impaired/blind, using a wheel chair, or profoundly deaf? When you do, how do you react? Interact? Ignore? Assist? Marvel at their ability to move through their environment living full and productive lives?

What can you do to put yourself and the person with a disability at ease? Well, this is our purpose here. It is not to attempt to answer all your questions. Rather, to discuss appropriate methods for interacting with individuals who are disabled while squelching many myths and misconceptions. You'll learn what to do and not do, techniques and technologies used for employment as well as in daily living.

How many times have you heard the preferred or proper method for interacting with someone with a disability? Probably never, if at all. In fact, the average individual rarely has any contact with someone who is blind, deaf, or mobility impaired. Therefore, you will be exposed to common courtesy rules governing your interactions with these individuals.

How does someone who cannot see a computer monitor or manipulate the keyboard use this most valuable technological tool of the coming century? Techniques of daily living such as setting the alarm clock, cooking on the grill, and the simple task of matching your wardrobe are tasks most of us take for granted. Yet, how would you perform these simple jobs from a wheelchair, without your eyesight, or hearing? You'll learn about specialized tools, adaptive electronic equipment, and techniques used to live a full and productive life.
Communicating ? Putting one another at ease

When you meet or come in contact with an individual who has a disability, be at ease. If you are uncertain how to assist or interact, always speak directly to the individual. After all, they are the experts! You can never go wrong by asking. The experience will be more pleasant for all by remembering and following some simple points of courtesy.

For more, please go to:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

High School football season may have ended in the playoffs, but enjoying sports has no season

For those with disabilities, often they face challenges in changing attitudes about what they "ought" to do as well as facing practical challenges to enjoying sports. Here's a fun video that shows alternate ways to enjoy skiing, racketball, scuba diving, and other sports.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Making a difference

Do you have something to share? Is there a way you can share a talent, skill, something you enjoy, with others? I am always amazed at how some small act, some act of faith in humankind, can make a lasting difference in a person's life.

Today, Mike Leonard, author of The Ride of our Lives, spoke to a group at the Winnetka (Illinois) Womans Club. He shared several stories of people he had met who had done favors or who provided breaks that had lasting effects on his own life.

What can you do? Our local Rotary club is beginning a literacy project where we are providing text-to-speech (scanning) software to our local library so that the Internet and any book or magazine can be accessible to those with vision (including age-related visual difficulties) or other print disabilities such as learning disabilities. In my practice, I have donated funds as well as a new scanner to this project. Local volunteers, including Rotarians, parents, and students, will scan books (it is almost as easy as pressing a button on a copy machine) and provide accessible CDs to circulate with the actual library books. After the project is developed, we are going to "Pay it Forward" to three other Rotary clubs to bring accessibility software/hardware to their local public libraries. Each of those clubs will pay it forward to three others, and so on. Local libraries can then become the hub of learning for everyone of all levels of ability, creating more educated citizens who can then actively participate in giving back in their own ways.

Just remember, a single kind act creates a ripple effect, spreading ever widening circles of change in our world.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Patrick Henry Hughes: a young man who took the "dis" out of disability

See how rich a family's life can be when they work to nurture the abilities in all of their children:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Free Writing tool

This tool has been described as a free version of the "Inspiration" software program, a visual mapping software for helping to organize writing. The site, uses a version of the mapping software to indicate how it can be downloaded and used. The site uses the following description:

The IHMC CmapTools program empowers users to construct, navigate, share and criticize knowledge models represented as concept maps. It allows users to, among many other features, construct their Cmaps in their personal computer, share them on servers (CmapServers) anywhere on the Internet, link their Cmaps to other Cmaps on servers, automatically create web pages of their concept maps on servers, edit their maps synchronously (at the same time) with other users on the Internet, and search the web for information relevant to a concept map.

The IHMC CmapTools client is free for educational institutions, federal employees working for the US Government, and for individual use (non commercial). In particular, schools and universities are encouraged to download it and install it in as many computers as desired, and students and teachers may make copies of it and install it at home.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Voice Recognition for those with dyslexia

See Rhodri, a 16 year old, explain how he has used Dragon since he was 9 years old for dyslexia and dyspraxia. He explains how he uses it as well as discussing the myths surrounding its use:

Saturday, October 20, 2007

College student with cerebral palsy, demonstrating her use of assistive technology

From Youtube:
"Ellen uses Assistive Technology to go about her day to day life - both at home and in college. Ellen has Cerebral Palsy and has difficulty controlling her body - she is able to access her Assistive Technology using two head switches. Through these head switches, Ellen is able to drive her powered chair, communicate with people, access the computer and internet and control her TV and household equipment."

Technology brings access

From Teacher Tube: "Joe Barnick was born with spinal muscular atrophy and cannot use a keyboard or mouse, yet thanks to assistive technology he can use his computer to do all those things he cannot do in real life. He explains how he uses his computer to design and edit the AssistiveWare Newsletter with Adobe InDesign, write college papers in Word, chat with family and friends with iChat, and buys exotic ingredients and Japanese anime figures on the internet. "
see Joe explain how he uses his computer at or see video below

Friday, October 19, 2007

An open letter to the families of those with autism

Families of the disabled everywhere breathed a sigh of relief when of 18 year old hiker Jacob Allen was found alive. (see You see, Jacob is a young man with autism who is nonverbal and reportedly has difficulties demonstrating an understanding of complex concepts.

Many outsiders do not understand what it is like to meet the complicated needs of those with severe disabilities while also having regular family experiences like hiking. Everything can be going along fine one minute, then the next minute, panic hits when you realize that your son or daughter has disappeared. In other situations, families may realize that their schools failed to tell them that there was technology which might help nonverbal individuals communicate, might help cognitively challenged to read mainstream books and emails, and service animals that might help them to remain safe.

AAC is the term for the communication devices that can include voice output such as that used by physicist Stephen Hawking. You do not have to be a famous physicist to benefit from these devices, as there are many who have autism who have benefited from them. Here is a video of a young boy with autism who uses a Dynavox communicator:

For those who are flight risks and/or exhibit problem behaviors, individuals can use service animals, what I call "warm and fuzzy technology" that can provide tethering, as well as prompting for the individual to begin or stop a behavior. Since dogs are people magnets, they can also provide opportunities for social interactions that might otherwise be limited or nonexistent. Here is a video of a mom with a boy with autism and is nonverbal:

Exit Exam and Disability: Does It Make Sense?

Everywhere, I see articles about governments passing laws requiring students to pass an "exit exam" in order to receive a high school diploma. Those who do not pass the exam, including those with disabilities, receive a certificate to indicate they have completed school but did not receive a diploma. So what's wrong with this picture?

Schools are obligated by law to provide an appropriate education. According to, education is defined as

  • "the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life."
It only makes sense that if students "fail" their curriculum, it is because the school has failed to provide an education that has meaningful benefit for the student. For those with disabilities, the law is clear that the education must be "appropriate," yet every day schools provide watered down curricula in segregated settings that have no resemblance to the opportunities to learn in "regular" settings. A big difference between poor communities and well-to-do communities that is rarely mentioned is that parents in well-to-do communities pay tens of thousands of dollars per year for private tutoring so that their children are adequately prepared for post-high school academic and work settings. Politicians ignore parents' testimony at hearings about what children need, instead listening to administrators who have a vested interest in keeping the focus on blaming the students for the administration's failure.

If someone hires a plumber to install a new sink, and find that the pipes leak, we would not blame the sink for the leaking pipes, instead we would not pay the plumber until the sink was fully functional and the pipes did not leak. If we took our child to a physician for a broken arm, and the physician told us to put the arm in a sling and told us that performing arm curl exercises would heal the arm, we would not accept that it was our child's fault that the arm did not heal. We would sue the physician for malpractice and take our child to a physician who utilized known medical practice to properly set and cast the arm.

What if the teachers had to pass standardized practical exams to demonstrate that they are capable of administering appropriate educational interventions and understand the importance of following standardized protocol? What would happen if school administrators' salaries were tied to yearly, documented performance scores of their teachers in proper, standardized administration of research-validated reading programs? Physicians, psychologists, plumbers, and electricians have to pass exams to prove that they have a command of the essential techniques of their profession before they are allowed to practice independently. Why not teachers and administrators?

High stakes testing for "student failure?" It doesn't make sense to me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Virtual Magnifying Glass

Virtual Magnifying Glass 3.3 is a free, open source magnifying glass for Windows and Linux. Finally, a quick magnifier when you want to read one of those tiny icons or Windows notifications, but don't need a screen reader with the magnifier. Try it, it's also fun!

Increasing size of text (font) on web browsers and email

Today I found this website that gives instructions for increasing the size of the text (font) in various web browsers. For those with vision difficulties, a bigger text sometimes helps.

Here's what the site says:

This site is designed with you in mind.
You can control the size of the text on every page.

Here's how:

Choose whether you wish to enlarge fonts throughout your computer system or only for this and other web sites.

Please select the type of browser you use —
Internet Explorer

Firefox (Saltmeadow’s pick for best browser)

Netscape 6 or newer (or Mozilla/Beonex)


Other (including AOL)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Introducing Tech Psychologist's Guide™ to Technology and Access Tools

It's Here!

Finally, a book to help families find the right technology to accommodate reading disorders (dyslexia) and other disabilties!

This book is available at my publisher

Also available at Powell's and other online retailers

To see more information about this book, please visit my website at

Can a pencil grip be viewed as assistive technology? Can a book about accessing technology be viewed as assistive technology? Can a research approach and methodology be made accessible to individuals and families? Tech Psychologist’s Guide™ to Technology and Access Tools integrates technology information geared to individuals and parents as well as teachers. It explores the traditional special education system and goes beyond, to guide families raising children as motivated, knowledgeable, and contributing members of society. This book asks whether what we’re asking the student to do is developmentally appropriate, that is, does the student have the same opportunities to learn as his peers in a manner to allow dignity and future growth? This guide is the first book to bring technology tools and strategies to students and their parents as well as educators. Since accessing and acquiring knowledge in school is a major barrier for those with disabilities, this book features technology strategies for curricula and an approach to making learning accessible for students with a wide range of disabilities. Beckman’s emphasis on using practical tools combined with the DIMS Approach™ helps families bring about educational changes by asking the question, Does It Make Sense?

To receive notification when this book is available, please visit my website at

Sunday, October 14, 2007

IBIDA Conference

Sunday, October 14

At the Illinois Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (IBIDA) conference last week, I presented information about how students of all ages (from preschool through the senior years) can benefit from technology to access the Internet, textbooks, and any aspect of mainstream classrooms. While there, I met an amazing group of dedicated teachers, parents, and professionals who were excited to see how technology allows individuals to be appropriately accommodated so that they can become active members and contributors of their mainstream learning and living community rather than being peripheral onlookers and segregated in self-contained classrooms.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Camera Mouse Program

Control of a mouse by moving your head!

Camera Mouse is a program that allows you to control the mouse pointer on a Windows computer just by moving your head.

The program was developed to help people with disabilities use the computer. The main audience for this program is people who do not have reliable control of a hand but who can move their head. People with Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, various neurological disorders use this program and its predecessors to run all types of computer software.

Camera Mouse works as a mouse replacement system for Windows computers so it should work with just about any application program. For example people use Camera Mouse with entertainment programs, education programs, communication programs, web browsers, and so on.

For more information, including information about on screen keyboarding that you can use with this camera mouse, please go to

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Extended Time Denied for Nursing Mom

Does It Make Sense?
An article from the Associated Press highlighted the arbitrary decision-making that is made regarding accommodations. A woman who is completing an MD-Ph.D. program at Harvard University while giving birth to two children in the past two years requested a 60 minute period to nurse her 4 month old baby. According to the Associated Press, The National Board of Medical Examiners "won't give Currier the extra time she says she needs," indicating that other women can complete nursing in 45 minutes. Dr. Lawrence, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, indicated that the Medical Examiner Board decision is too rigid, stating "You would hope that everyone in the medical profession had an appreciation for the tremendous importance of breast-feeding one's infant." (See for full article.)

Clearly this woman has demonstrated that she is a hard-working, achievement oriented individual who will become an outstanding doctor. She has overcome hurdles presented by disabilities of dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to complete medical school as well as a PhD. program and will complete a residency at Massachusetts General Hospital if she passes the exam. To deny her an accommodation of 15 additional minutes of break time to complete nursing a 4 month old infant "because it's not fair to others" reflects a concrete misunderstanding of the abstract concept of fairness. According to Rick Lavoie, "Being fair doesn't mean giving everyone the same thing, being fair is giving everyone what he or she needs."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Introducing the DIMS Approach™: A strategy for success


The DIMS Approach™ is a key focus in my book, Tech Psychologist's Guide to Technology and Access Tools. Here, as in my book, you'll find solutions, tips, and news items related to finding assistive technology, which I call access tools. I welcome your feedback and invite you to share your technology tips and ideas.

Dr. Jeanne Beckman

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Self-contained versus resource classes

When is it resource support, and when is it segregation?

While most parents and some schools understand that students with special education needs should receive remedial help, or remediation, the question of how these services should be provided often creates a rift between school and home.

If the class specifically targets an individual's area of weakness, such as reading decoding or fluency, with a research-validated intervention, and the student participates in the mainstream class, then it is resource remediation. However, if the student is in a self-contained language arts classroom in lieu of the mainstream language arts classroom, then it is segregation. According to the 1954 Supreme Court Ruling, Brown v Board of Education, "separate but equal" is not equal and is against the law of the land.

Students should be supported in their mainstream classes with appropriate accommodations in order to have full access to their regular curriculum.

Do your child's educational services and supports provide an equal opportunity to learn and grow with his or her peers?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Technology for those with ALS

Most people have become familiar with computers, with email, and cell phones. However, for the disabled community, technology is their lifeline. Speaking when one's voice is silent, staying connected via email with others when fingers cannot type on the keyboard, remaining independent with tasks such as electronic grocery shopping, and remaining in charge of their medical decision-making by online researching of medical practices are just a few of the ways in which those with ALS can remain connected and functional. Here's a video of Marie-France who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS):

Does it make sense?
Some schools still persist in the belief that students with disabilities should learn the regular way first, denying students their legal rights to access to their mainstream curricula. Instead of denying access to accommodations and access tools, schools should be asking what they can do to support every student's strengths in independent learning.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Reducing exercise, reducing memory?

Does it make sense?

In the era of NCLB (No Child Left Behind) requiring continual testing of our children in school, children have little time left for recess and other physical activity. Homework quantities have increased to the point of eliminating any free time to run and play outside once children arrive home after school. The New York Times reported that an increasing body of research points to the dangers of lost opportunities to exercise: those who exercise "... can improve the performance of the brain by boosting memory and cognitive processing speed." Read the full article at

Pay It Forward

Today The Chicago Tribune magazine published a list of people who are making a difference in small but significant ways. "The Power of One," August 19, 2007

..... a common theme in my book is the spirit of Hyde's book, Pay it Forward, where a single kind act creates a ripple effect, spreading ever widening circles of change in our world.

Today, I'm pleased to see her concept is listed as #8 in the Tribune's Top 20 list of ways to build a brighter tomorrow.

The story includes a link to Hyde's web site:

Are you paying it forward to help a child access his/her education?