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

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Inauguration: Oh Yes I Can

On Tuesday, January 20th, I joined many fellow Chicagoans who shivered in the falling snow while watching Obama's inauguration speech on the Jumbotron at the Daley Plaza in Chicago. While I could not hear the speech, I watched the closed-captioning (provided with Dragon voice recognition technology, I'm sure)and was struck with the hope that we can get our great country back on track.

Obama's speeches are full of rich vocabulary, full of vision, and full of the love of history. Without a good education, Obama would not be where he is now, guiding us back from the precipice of illiteracy, financial ruin, and overall despair.

So many times, individuals are discouraged from achieving their full potential in learning, whether due to the Pygmalion effect of low expectations for people of color or for people with disabilities. So today, I wrote a little piece to speak to the belief that any and all individuals CAN achieve their full potential.

Oh Yes I Can

Give me a lap to hear the books and I will learn
Oh yes I can!
Give me the excitement of hearing about the world through books and I will learn
Oh yes I can!
Walk me to the library and I will learn
Oh yes I can!
Give me the books to learn and I will learn
Oh yes I can!
Give me a dictionary to learn the words and I will learn
Oh yes I can!
Give me the microscopes and test tubes and computers and I will learn
Oh yes I can!
Give me the tools to learn and I will learn
Oh yes I can!
Mentor me and I will learn
Oh yes I can!
Share your excitement in learning and I will learn
Oh yes I can!
Take down the barriers to learning and I will learn
Oh yes I can!
Try to discourage me from learning, and I will tell you

©Jeanne D. Beckman

Parents everywhere, please join me in taking back the education of our children. Read to them, and if you struggle to read, seek out literacy classes and computer technology at your library to read to you and your family. There is no shame in difficulties in reading unless you refuse to ask for help in learning to read. Turn off your televisions and read, read, read.

Who was it who said, those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it? Obama's speeches certainly reflect that he knows history and is using his understanding of it to bring our country back to greatness. He would not have learned history if he had not read an abundance of books on every subject he could find.

Please join me in asking yourself, "What have I done today to encourage a child to reach for knowledge, understanding, and to walk the path toward community and country contributions?"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sayings to help us all through the long, dark winter

Well, now that we're in the middle of another looong January in Chicago, we find we have to reach deep inside of ourselves to find a way to survive through a few more months of the subzero cold, through the huge drifts of snow and hidden patches of black ice, through the dark stark days of administrative bullying, "scorched earth" divorces, and economic downturns...

I have a few friends who are facing critical health challenges, a few friends who are facing devastating financial difficulties, and wonder whether I am a good enough friend. I wonder whether sharing some of the sayings that I've found and posted above my computer or on my refrigerator can help soothe the soul of a friend or a yet-to-be friend.

I think my favorite writer is Ralph Waldo Emerson, an early Unitarian and Transcendentalist. He stated,

"Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”

Certainly courage is a requirement in overcoming the barriers and obstacles to inclusion and access in many environments for learning, work, and leisure activities. Those who have no choice but to deviate from the beaten path must reach deep inside to constantly overcome the barriers to their needed path. Maybe you can mentor others who face similar challenges. January is national mentor a child month. See

Have you ever faced barriers where schools say that they cannot give you a certain technology because you did not pass a certain level of performance? I believe you should ask whether their barriers make sense. The purpose of accommodations is to allow access to the "regular" environment or curriculum, or at least the closest approximation to the normal environment. If you cannot benefit from the technology, then they must provide an alternate access to the normal environment, such as a human reader or human scribe. Always ask, "Does It Make Sense?"

Reportedly, Albert Einstein stated,
"Not everything that counts can be counted,
and not everything that can be counted counts"

There are laws that can help you get the access you need. You are invited to my website to find out more:

Oh, how about a couple of sayings I wrote a year ago?
Every person of every age and every ability level should have every opportunity to fully access the written word, whether by reading traditional books, computerized text, recorded books, Braille or by human readers (the only acceptable "low tech" manner, in my opinion).

Tear down those walls that blame, shame, and discourage those who seek to find the truths in scientific exploration and human existence.
Read more from my blog:

It is easy, especially during dark times in your personal life or the dark times of winter, to feel like giving up. However, despite personal challenges, despite our country's challenges, it is my belief that, regardless of what others may do and say, regardless of personal and community roadblocks, you and I have a moral obligation to keep our sights on doing the right thing for our community by asking, "Does It Make Sense (DIMS approach)?

What do you say to yourself? Whose sayings keep you going when the challenges threaten to become overwhelming?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pay Your Technology Forward

Nancy, who is a blogger at, made a New Year’s resolution to give away something every day via Freecycle ( in Wilmette, Illinois. One of the items she posted was an Ipaq, and I took it, hoping that I could refit it to serve someone with disabilities. I posted a request for ideas on a technology listserv, and here are the responses I received:

Shelley Lacey-Castelot ( said: You can install Gus AAC software on them, depending upon the version of the OS. For reluctant readers, you can put digital books with TTS on it---or just digital books with dictionary support (digital). Dragon NaturallySpeaking has an applet type program so that you can dictate into the IPAQ and upload the dictation for transcription. For kids with organizational difficulties, using Outlook with reminders of assignments and meetings works well. Hook up a wireless keyboard and it can be useful for notes on the go in the Pocket Word. The digital book reader that installs the easiest is Mobipocket; and you can download a dictionary that allows you to click on the word to get the definition.

Sharon E. said: you could use it as a scheduler. Does it have alarms? Also can it house dictionary stuff

Magi S. said: There are great possibilities for AT (in my mind) for PDAs and Smart Phones. You can get word prediction programs for all of the operating systems (Windows Mobile/PocketPC) and Palm. The iPaq had a decent speaker system, and could play mp3s, so you could use it for audio books. I believe that mine also recorded audio, and I know that my original Palm, and my new Palm Centro does that as well (the T|X I had did not without a special attachment). I love the calendar feature, and both models will sync to Outlook. We were trying to figure out how to sync to Google calendar, but I don't think we ever truly solved that. And Mobipocket is free... You could download podcasts too. There are foreign language dictionaries available that speak that might be useful. The iPaq probably has bluetooth, and the bluetooth keyboards are small enough to carry. I believe there is at least one add-on AAC program (Gus?), and I know that the ChatPCs were based on iPaqs.
There are more & more book download sites. My top three are: Mobipocket itself, BooksOnBoard (they sell audio books as well), and Fictionwise. Fictionwise has "frequent member programs" that give you a discount off the price of the book in the form of a gift certificate to use later. I get lots of free books that way! :)
I've used PocketWord as well, and the older version was really pretty good. Oh, and the color-coding feature in Outlook will transfer to the calendar. I really think that is one of the features I have used most often: I know at a glance that I have something to do, and what its for... And it places the box toward the top of the date for a morning appointment, and the bottom for an evening.

My plan is to get this iPaq ready for an individual who cannot afford regular technology, perhaps for someone who needs a speech device (AAC). Do you have technology you can pay forward? Two weeks ago, someone from Freecycle shared a scanner with me. I will be finding it a home also...