Apple computers has a few built in features to help support students who have special needs. For example, students who have a native language that is something other than English, students that find reading comprehension challenging, and for those who are visually impaired.
  • Using the application Text Edit (small word processing app similar to Windows Word Pad) - check out the Services menu.
  • Paste source text from a website, online book, or other text into a Text Edit document. Under the Text Edit > Services > Speech > Start Speaking Text. Let the computer read the text. Check out this screencast.
  • Take that idea one step further. If your students needs to listen to an article at a later time, create a podcast of a section of a book or an article. Take a look at this article about how it can be done.
  • The Text Edit program can summarize a large source text. After a set of text is pasted, highlight it, and then under the Text Edit > Services > Summarize. You can control how short the summary will be. High light a couple hundred words and the computer will summarize it into a sentence. Pretty amazing! Use this strategy to help students with reading comprehension. Perhaps it may also be a way to analyze their own writing. Use the summarize feature to check the message of an essay. Take a look at this screencast.
  • Both these features also work with Safari. Safari can read the text of a website as well as summarize a section of text.
  • Press and hold Apple+Control+D over any word in the Safari application and up pops a handy dandy Dictionary/Thesaurus.
  • Check out the Zoom in Feature. Under system preferences > Universal Access > turn on Zoom. You can also turn it on automatically by holding down option/command/8. This makes the screen zoomable by holding down option/command/+. This feature is a great way to present content, but for visually impaired students the zoom feature is essential. In addition, students can adjust the display colors and contrast of the screen to make it easier to see. It’s amazing how many of these kind of features are built right into the Mac.
  • There is an amazing capability to give your computer verbal commands. I haven’t figured out how to do it yet, but watch Brandon, one of Carol’s students explain it.
This document will provide more information about meeting the needs of diverse learners.

For English Language Learners

Use Google Translate Tool to translate a website or text into another language. In addition, click on the Translated Search tab to search for pages written in English and translate them automatically to another language.

Mobile Learning

Using a digital camera and Garage Band, read questions to a test or create a multimedia study guide to load into an ipod for students to use.
AudioBooks
iTunes U