CESI Meet 2012

About me

So about me for the CESI people who may not know me I graduated with a Journalism degree from Griffith College in 2009. After this I took up an internship writing for Irishdeafkids.ie

During this time I was introduced to the world of captioning, writing and technology.

I learnt a lot and in 2010 decided to move on and took part in Webactivate. A government funded program aimed at getting Irish businesses online.

This course introduced me to the technologies involved in online media which I had never learnt in my traditional print-based media degree.

After Webactivate I took up a work-placement with City of Cork VEC.

I became part of a small team of six who worked at creating the City of Cork VEC iTunes U learning platform.  While others worked on platform creation and meeting with teachers my duties were in the photography, final cut and graphic design area. I created all the graphics for the site as well as taking all photos later used in the items.

Our platform launched last June just four months after we began working on it. You can find it here.

Luckily for me my work didn’t go un-noticed and after the work-placement ended in September I was employed as a tutor. Since September I have taught a wide range of digital based subjects including photography, digital media technology and the internet. My classes are small and the students are usually part of Back to Education or other social welfare related programs.

As well as this I have kept up my work on iTunes U and we continue to create new content.

CESI 2012

When I was approached to do a presentation on behalf of Irish Deaf Kids at CESI12 I said yes without even thinking.

I had not however realised how interesting and varied the speakers and event would be.

Unfortunately I had to work too late to make the Friday night CESImeet but was lucky to get there bright and early on Saturday morning.

I had been going back and forth all week trying to decide which presentations to attend so in the end brought a friend and we went to different presentations. As a result we got to cover a lot of the workshops and shared thoughts after.

The day started off with a couple of long introductions. To be honest these were great but contained too many statistics and facts that they ended up muddled in my brain. Since this was a tech event I think these speakers should have taken their own advice and done some interactive presentations instead of reading from sheets.

After that we were introduced to Steven Howell who presented on many areas but most interestingly Scratch and the Kinect. All my attempts at turning my other half off buying a connect were lost after this presentation. He was so impressed that on the way home he wanted to stop and buy one (but didn’t)

This was a perfect example of how kids and adults can get into basic coding. The ideal result would be that after the initial introduction kids could move forward and explore more. After the conference I went home and had a good play around with it and am considering having my classes uses it.

After this came a break. There were many breaks which was great as there were plenty of opportunities to meet and great and explore what the various companies on display had to offer.

A few observations on these companies.

I found the range of displays good overall but many could have been improved. For example EDCO have released a number of their publications for iPad yet had nothing to demonstrate this.

Also one representative at on stall (the name which I will keep to myself) turned around to one attendee and told them to not buy an iPad because the iPad 3 will be out in a few months and that it will contain flash. Those in the know as I would have expected her to be would by now know that the iPad 3 will be out next week and also that there is no way it will contain flash. So maybe know a little more about your products or else don’t give this info to the potential customer and try to flog them and iPad 2 while you can.

I also found some of the data packages available at some stalls to take attendance were quite outdated. I have an app for that but that’s just me.

Back to the presentations.

The next presentation I went to was “A brief history of the near future” by J. Heffernan. This would not have interested me but since I was presenting in the same room decided to go. It was a fantastic presentation. I was never very good at history in school and the thought of having augmented reality in the history classroom is fascinating. I also enjoyed how he looked at the past and future developments in technology which was great. The presenter used a lot of videos which I found captured my attention and made it interesting.

My favorite part of this presentation was the result of a question by one attendee who expressed his fears about being allowed to use technology in the classroom. Heffernans response was do it now and explain later. This is exactly how I work so it was nice to see someone else with the same ideas.

After this there was our presentation. As mentioned above I spoke on captioning and was delighted to receive such a positive response. There were many questions and attendees seemed enthusiastic and willing to give it a go. Hopefully they will spread the word.

Download my presentation here.

After lunch we went to the workshop on developing e-learning resources. This was great although I did understand the frustration of some students when their presentations failed. My one bit of advice is if it failed at CESI maybe work a little more on it because if a teacher uses it and it fails they may not try again.

It was however nice to see how students can build such interactive whiteboard programs for the classroom.

The final presentation we went to was ‘Creating a mobile app for your school’ by Simon Lewis. I was really looking forward to this one having created mobile apps previously but had that feeling that maybe it was not all it seemed. My feelings were proven right when Simon right out admitted he had brought us there under false pretences. He showed us appmakr which is admitedly a great way to make apps with little experience. There are however draw backs in that you need a website to begin with. I think this is great for beginners who have little experience in coding, web-design or app development from experience I have learnt of different resources including ways to do it as part of a wordpress. One of my classes made app versions of their websites (which is what I would consider appmakr to do) by using wordpress plugins. Before September they had limited computer experience and have managed to created websites and apps in under two months so there are equally easy ways out there.

Overall the day was great. I was introduced to new faces and got to meet a few familiar ones. I learnt of some new things to try in my classroom. Overall I think it was more geared towards primary teachers than further ed but it was nice to see the direction the country is heading and see that there are some teachers out there that are interested in ditching the whiteboard for computers.




E-book creator

Home Design 3d

Rory’s Story-Cubes


Universal Subtitles

City of Cork VEC on iTunes U

CESI presentation IDK


Advocating For Your Child’s Service Provision

As a parent, fighting for services for your child can lead you into loops and delays. Times when you don’t have an essential letter with you for example, or a report on your child that needs forwarding after appointments. To avoid delays in service provision, you can do a few things to stay in the game.

  1. Buy yourself a notebook or diary to track all appointments, contact details and progress. You will always have these notes as a back-up if you need someone’s name or the date of a past appointment. Whether you are noting audiology sessions, school visits or even phone calls, all dates are important and it takes just seconds to write them up.
  2. Save copies of all correspondence you receive and send. File all the originals in a folder. Make multiple copies to share as needed. Bring one folder with copies of all letters to every appointment. This way, you will always have referral letters with you. Follow up all phone-calls and correspondence. If someone says they will call you and they don’t, call them. At times like this, having names and dates is essential.
  3. Prepare for all meetings in advance. If you are meeting an audiologist or a visiting teacher, think ahead and list your questions. Sometimes you may have questions for a meeting, but only remember these afterward which can be too late. If there are services you want for your child, ask for straight-out answers rather than ‘maybe’s’ or ‘if’s’.
  4. Join social networks like IDK’s Facebook group. Getting advice from other parents can help. If you are stuck ‘in the system’, they may have a contact you need, or advise you on what to do next. The experiences of parents who have been there, can be a lifeline for ‘new’ parents.

Advocating for your child, making contacts, getting information and services from organizations can be very challenging. However, if you keep records, your job (and quality of life) as a parent or carer will improve markedly.

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

Further Reading

Parents’ Pack: When Deafness Is Newly Confirmed

Hearing-Aids + Learning = Education

Early Language Teaching At Home

Baby Books & Flash Cards For Language Teaching

Introducing Babies & Toddlers To Books & Reading

Captions In The Classroom Boost Literacy Skills

New educational technologies give teachers an immediate advantage in making their lessons relevant and interesting to students of all ages.

With interactive white boards, DVDs, laptops and smart devices, classrooms become exciting places to learn instead of simply reading from a book.

Teachers can boost their students’ literacy by using captioned material when teaching, regardless of the childrens’ hearing ability. Younger children will enjoy watching a captioned DVD in which they can see and hear the words.  For older kids who can read,  maybe switch off the sound so they follow by reading the words; then ask questions to check their understanding.

Some benefits of captions:

  • Children identify and consolidate words via word-association.
  • Children learn to link written words with spoken words.
  • Reading captions motivates kids to read outside of the classroom.
  • Captions support deaf and hard of hearing children in a classroom.
  • Any ESL students in a class, benefit from aural & visual word links.
  • Children with reading and literacy issues practice comprehension.
  • Children who are new to reading, build their skills and learn words.

Watching a DVD with subtitles is similar to reading a story from a book. Children will learn to pick up the words in the same way, and to remember them for the next time. It is also a different approach to teaching new words instead of children having their heads stuck in a book for a full school day.

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

Further Reading:

Technology For Inclusive Teaching

Australia’s Deaf Kids Get Captions In Classrooms

Digital Readers (eReaders) Improve Child Literacy

Young Readers Learn From DVDs & Touch-Phones

Teacher Question: What ISL Software Is Available?

Digital Readers (eReaders) Improve Child Literacy

Until now, eReaders (digital book-reading devices) were used exclusively by adults, but the release of vTech’s eReader models for children and Apple’s iPad means it is time to explore the benefits of eReaders for kids.

One year ago, IDK noted how web technologies make story-telling inclusivefor deaf and hearing children who may be in the same classroom. When e-books merge audio, text and animation options, child literacy improves, as demonstrated in the UK’s Signed Stories project to support social inclusion.

Some obvious benefits of digital readers and e-books for children:

  • A wide range of books are available for kids with different needs
  • Accessible, picture-based e-books develop a child’s imagination.
  • Interactive books engage children and make learning fun.
  • First ABCs and words can be taught as a family is on the move.
  • Sign language may be easier to link to print letters in an e-book.
  • E-books hold many books on one device and are lighter than paper.
  • Younger children learn new words and extend their vocabulary.
  • Older children learn to construct sentences and stories by reading.

Several different types of e-readers are available with uses. Here are some top-selling e-books that are available for most popular eReaders.

  1. Dora the Explorer. These e-books read a story while highlighting the text being said. This supports word association for children, who can colour in characters, between chapters to consolidate learning.
  2. The Happy Prince and Other Tales. Today’s kids enjoy these stories. The ebook has favorites by Oscar Wilde, like The Selfish Giant.
  3. The Harry Potter books. These are for older children and words can be highlighted. The e-book allows children to choose where the story should go by giving them different places to go or spells to cast.

Digital readers and e-books are the future for education and many countries are phasing in digital media to national education systems. In June 2009, the state of California proposed a plan to increase digital media use in education, starting with maths and science subjects. In the last college year Hackney City Academy in the UK also offered digital textbooks to students.

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

Further Reading:

Literacy For Deaf Children

Reading & Language Development in Deaf Children

Early-Education To Be Revolutionised By SmartPhone Devices

Young Readers Learn From DVDs & Touch-Phones

Using Software Tools To Teach Deaf Children

RFID Technology Teaches Deaf Children Language

Australia’s Deaf Kids Get Captions In Classrooms

For the first time deaf kids in Australia can gain equal access in classrooms, with  a pilot schools-captioning idea from access solutions firm, Ai Media.

Ai Media was formed in 2003 and has since dedicated itself to providing generic captioning services. In Australia about 85% of deaf children attend mainstream schools and last year AI Media began captioning in schools.

Teachers are already seeing results. Students with captioning are more engaged in class, have better concentration and are included in all lessons. They are part of the class and not isolated in a corner with an interpreter.

Support teacher Sally Pape talks about one of her year 9 students, “She did all her homework, all her assignments, and she went from the bottom of the class to coming first in the yearly exam. It was a huge change”.

For the first time, a teacher knows a student is fully understanding the topic in progress and can get feedback and communicate with the students.

This solution is not just for schools: It supports life-long learning and can be used in colleges and workplaces so the long-term social benefits are clear.

Parents anticipate a different, better future for their children. Parent Alex Jones says, “[with this captioning] there will be roads, avenues and doors opened for my son, not only for his future, but for the future of his friends who are deaf also. They will all have value and benefit.”

Similarly, Tony Abrahams, CEO at AI Media says, “It’s a solution that is tested, is reliable and is scalable. And it means that going forward, no deaf kid needs to be left behind and no-one needs to be out of work just because they can’t hear. And that’s really what Ai-Live means, and it’s exciting.”

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

Further Reading

Video of Ai-Live captioning solution

Visit the Ai-Media website

Australia’s First Model Classroom For Deaf Pupils

Tutorial Captioning Benefits Deaf Students’ Access

Real-Time Captioning At School Via Mobile Phone

Young Readers Learn From DVDs & Touch-Phones

With young readers now having the latest screen-based reading options like e-books, touch-phones, DVDs and more, we are firmly in the digital age.

In the US, a new DVD to teach children sign language is now on release. It is based on “Goodnight Moon” and other bedtime stories, adapted from the 1947 storybook by Margaret Wise Brown.

Each DVD in this set has three best-selling stories with vocal and ASL (American sign language) narration. To develop the reader’s early literacy skills, ASL vocabulary lessons and reading comprehension questions are included. These add-ons show technology is strongly influencing education.

iPhone applications are undeniably one of the best known ways to sell products. Applications are no longer games that you play on the bus, and developers recognize this.

iStorytime, the iPhone app developer for Dreamworks’ “How to Train your Dragon“, is to make the award-winning children’s picture book “Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy” into a children’s book iPhone app with an ASL option.

Danny The Dragon Meets Jimmy” is available as a book or DVD (with ASL). The app is due to be available by August. This will be the first application of its kind and ideally will inspire other application developers to follow suit.

Other iPhone apps available, include:

  1. The Grace App (€29.99) allows user/s to communicate with pictures, based on the PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). You can use the camera on your phone/iPod to add pictures to the app.
  2. Baby Sign ASL (free/€3.99 for full version) Aimed at kids, this app gives pictures with corresponding signs. Animals, places, and numbers are the signs available at present.
  3. iASL (€2.39) This app allows you to type in a sentence and using its video database it will translate this sentence into the relevant signs.

VAT can be reclaimed on iTouch, iPhone and iPad products that are used for educational purposes. Just download & complete VAT form 61A & post to Revenue with a copy of your child’s medical records to validate your claim.

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

Connect School Project Enables Inclusive Teaching

Universities in Ireland have used the Moodle interactive teaching system for years, while schools are just “getting it”. In this piece, we show how the universal design of the Moodle-based Connect School system enables seamless inclusion in class for all pupils.

Connect School is a joint initiative of South Dublin County Council and St. Aidan’s School, in Dublin 24. All students can access the school’s Moodle system on receiving their personal log-in details. Videos, class notes and case studies reside on the system for the students’ use, as wished.

Moodle is a more interactive form of learning for students. Since 2006 at St. Aidan’s School, the first years in each year have had their own laptops. The project is now in its final year with all school students having a laptop.

Instead of sitting back in class and listening to teachers, the students proactively participate in research projects by viewing videos and/or pictures online and sourcing more information on a given subject.

Frank Moran, principal at St. Aidan’s, says Moodle “has a positive impact on the whole school, not just on student learning but on student engagement, student attendance and student participation”.

While the project is yet to be used with deaf students, the potential benefits are clear. Deaf children can see class notes on their own laptop during class. This supports their learning and clues them into topics discussed in class.  The teacher simply has to prepare the notes for all students before class.

The project in St Aidan’s has been a big success. Benefits include:

  • Higher school attendance rates
  • Improved participation levels in class
  • Better educational outcomes for students
  • New teaching methodologies developed
  • Increased awareness and application of ICT in class
  • Wider range of technologies available to the school
  • Awareness of the project’s benefit within the Irish education sector

With such clear benefits, more schools should consider this way of learning.

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

Connect Project Weblinks:
Connect School Virtual Learning Environment
Connect School Website
Connect School Blog

Further Reading:

Interactive Whiteboards Promote Pupils’ IT Literacy

Australia’s First Model Classroom For Deaf Pupils

Inclusive Education Is ‘All-Encompassing’ Learning

iPhone Subtitle App Puts Captions In Users’ Hands

The first-ever iPhone subtitle application promises to give movie buffs the chance to receive subtitles directly to their phone for the movie/DVD of their choice. It’s a great solution until more cinemas provide subtitled movies and as the app develops, cinemas may use it as a low-budget captioning option.

This application is currently available for free through the Irish iTunes app store and can be downloaded onto any iPhone, iTouch or iPad.

When you first open the application you will see a search screen. On typing in your movie of choice – for example, the latest Shrek – you will have the choice of viewing the subtitles in several languages. This is great for all cinema-goers, but IDK is most interested in the English-language subtitles.

Once you open the subtitles, they will synchronise with the movie, or you can scroll through them at your own pace. Inside the cinema, the light settings on your phone can be adjusted to improve visibility.

A few things to remember if you are using this app in the cinema.
1 . Download the subtitles before seeing the movie as 3G/wifi is usually blocked from inside the cinema.
2 . Ask one of the cinema managers if it is ok to use the app. Just explain what it is, why you want to use it and if needed, show them how it works. IDK has only checked with one Dublin cinema and policies may vary.
3 . Sit in a good position in the cinema. One manager advised users to sit near the back of the cinema or in aisle seats. The subtitles are on a black background with grey font to cut glare and avoid distracting people nearby.

Already users are giving great reviews. One user said, “Thanks for this app! Now I can enjoy going to the movies again! I haven’t been to the cinema since X-Men 2.”

The app is still developing so there will be updates and improvements in time. While the app is currently available for the Apple products mentioned above, future versions may be available for Android & Blackberry products.

View the official website for this app (with link to the iTunes store for app)

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

Further Reading:

Real-Time Captioning At School Via Mobile Phone

Child With Deafness & Autism To Use iPhone App

Educational Revolution With Smartphone Devices

Literacy Skills In Children Aged Three to Five Years

This piece follows on from IDK’s earlier post, Infant Literacy Skills: Newborn To Three Years, and complements other IDK posts on early-years literacy. The bottom line is that children learn about literacy from birth, regardless of their hearing ability.

While early introduction to literacy is essential in babies and toddlers, the process needs to be consistent. By pre-school stage, kids should be familiar with the alphabet and numbers. At this stage you can give them pictures and keep a simple picture diary with them, or let them make their own stories.

This will benefit their overall creativity. Also be sure to have an endless supply of paper and crayons. Children enjoy drawing and learning how to hold a crayon will give them the basic skills needed to write at a later stage.

Early-years learning works best when it’s child-centred.  Many fun activities are available at this stage and familiarity with the alphabet, colours and numbers will help in devising new games and building vocabulary.

I-Spy is a great game for pre-schoolers as it helps them to explore the area around them and connect letters with objects. It also challenges them to discover what objects you are talking about when for example you say ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with C”. Could it be the cat outside? or the car? or a cap?

This will help them develop vocabulary and letter association.

A library trip can be an exciting outing for a young child in giving them a chance to explore books and subtitled DVDs outside of their own collection.

‘Experience’ trips also hold endless opportunities. A trip on the bus is a great chance for you to point out signs along the way. Teach your children the names of shops and how to recognize the names. Take them to the cinema where they will see objects that they are familiar with, in a story.

Take them grocery shopping where they can be introduced to new foods. They will see items from their books in real-life and be encouraged to ask what other items are. They may never have seen a melon before, but you can show them and they will know for the next time.

Taking the time to help your child with early literacy will benefit them when they start school as they will have built up vocabulary while developing communication and attention skills.

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

Further Reading

Deaf Children – Early Language Teaching At Home

Communication Development – Linking Items To Words

Early Reading Skills For Lifelong Literacy

Introducing Babies & Toddlers To Books And Reading

Visual Learning In The Preschool & Primary Years (pdf file)

Including Deaf Children At Preschool – Part One (plus links)

IBM’s KidSmart PC Supports Language Learning (plus brochure)

Early learning goals, as defined in the UK

IBM’s KidSmart Application Deadline: July 8, 2010

With IBM’s 2010 KidSmart PCs application deadline approaching on July 8th, 2010 for primary schools in Dublin city & county, IDK asked one school in Cork, how their pupils like the PC unit.

Pupils at St Columba’s GNS with facility for deaf children in Douglas, Cork have used the school’s KidSmart PC unit since September 2009. It is located in the junior school and is available to kids from junior infants to first class.

Once a school qualifies for and receives the KidSmart PC unit, it is their choice as what they do with it, and how they use it. They can stick to the preinstalled software, or make their own changes. This school opted for additional software and connected their KidSmart unit to the internet.

Apart from the educational benefits of the KidSmart unit, Colleen Forsythe, ICT Coordinator for the school, talks about how much the kids enjoy using the PC unit. She says, “it is great for them to have some time out”.

When asked if she would recommend other schools to apply for a KidSmart unit, she said the school would definitely recommend them as they have seen the benefits to pupils. She says it is great to have and the best thing is that they are totally free. She added, “you would be a fool not to take it”.

July 8th is IBM’s 2010 deadline for primary schools in Dublin city/county to apply for KidSmart PCs. For more information contact Deirdre Kennedy, kennedyd<at>ie.ibm.com

(compiled by Miriam Walsh)

Further Reading:

KidSmart Case Studies (pdf file)

KidSmart Information for parents and teachers

IBM’s KidSmart PC Supports Language Teaching