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Additional Supports that Come in Handy
EVERY college student should have a system for keeping track of deadlines, due dates and appointments. Your system needs several components:
- a planner or calendar you can carry everywhere: the calendar you'll receive from Ringling College at Orientation, your phone, your notebook computer with an online calendar like Google or something else that you WILL use
- a calendar or reminder board for a prominent wall at home and a time each day when you will move information from the planner to the reminder board: We have some of these at the ARC; stop by and pick one with pictures you like.
- a priority reminder--like another board by the front door or the bathroom mirror (if you have your own!). This is where you post upcoming deadlines, test dates and mandatory appointments like registration
Speech to Text Software
Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS) and Mac Speech Dictate: These programs, designed for Windows or Macintosh systems respectively, allow users to talk their compositions rather than handwriting or typing. Some students may qualify for these programs as disabilities accommodations, but many students may find them helpful. Doctors and lawyers as well as journalists often use dictation software for their notes (you can imagine how handy this is for physicians with their notoriously bad handwriting). Users have to train the system to recognize their voices. That takes about half an hour, with some corrections to be expected from time to time. Our software support staff can help you learn about DNS. Watch the Ringling announcements for some scheduled demonstrations. Or contact us for a private introduction.
If you have a disability that makes typing, spelling or other aspects of writing difficult, you should try out this kind of software in preparation for your professional life.
Sources for Alternative Text Formats and Text to Speech Software
Like any college, Ringling College provides texts in alternate formats for students with documented print disabilities. Some of these texts come from national organizations devoted to collecting electronic texts, some come from publishers, and some articles we scan ourselves. Students who use this service should begin learning about sources such as Learning Ally (formerly RFB & D) and Bookshare, which they can join as individuals. Texts come in a variety of formats now: CDs, MP3s and others. There are also some very good, inexpensive reading programs (sometimes called text-to-speech software) such as Read Please and Easy Reader that can "voice" any digital text. Some are even available free! In fact, your Mac notebook computer has built in text to speech features that will work with textual content (sometimes not PDFs).
Kurzweil 3000 is a powerful text to speech application that students may try out and use in the ARC.
Your Mac Notebook has some "read aloud" capabilities, too. Some text books can be acquired in MP3 formats and will work on the Mac.
Other Nifty Tools and Resources
Note-taking pens: Livescribe (tm) pens offer amazing digital capabilities for note taking. They are fairly inexpensive and worth checking out. We have one now that we'll be happy to demonstrate
Other Specialized software: Sonocent's Audio Notetaker is new software from Microcomputer Science Centre, Inc. They also market a remarkable spelling corrector called Ginger that goes way beyond the spell check capabilities of word processors.
ADDitude: a monthly magazine for students and their families. Every issue offers up to date tips about organizing, meeting deadlines, getting along, and even medications. We subscribe in the ARC; come by and check it out.
Virginia DeMers will be happy to discuss the options with students who are interested. Preparation for the world beyond college will include learning about these resources and acquiring the tools to read and write more independently.