C-Pen Digital Highlighter

Say goodbye to taking textbook notes the traditional way with your yellow highlighters. Introducing the C-Pen Digital Highlighter that is changing the way we read articles for essays, study and read textbooks for tests and exams. If you are like me you spent countless hours highlighting the key points in your text books or journal articles for essays and then spent more time re-writing/typing your notes. You probably also use different colors for different things you need to study, maybe yellow for definitions, green for important people and so on. While some may argue that having to re-write/type notes is a form of studying, I found this time consuming and exhausting.

With the C-Pen, and individual can highlight the material they need and have it copied directly into their word processor. I feel this is especially beneficial when writing any types of research paper as it will save a person time in having to find that ‘great’ article you have with that ‘awesome’ quote but cannot find in through your stack of thirty articles. Now with the C-pen and your key points written in your word processor you can easily navigate you way to finding that all important quote.

Take a look at this great video on the C-Pen for an example of how it works. 

The Benefits of Trial Software

In an effort to gain a basic understanding of the various assistive software available on the market today and to assist me in writing my reviews I have relied on trial software. Many of these 30 day trials, in my opinion, offer the user just enough time to adequately gain a better understanding of the software and assist the user in determining if a specific software is worth purchasing once the trial is expired.

For educators who may have a student with a disability in their classroom I think trial software can be a very effective way of determining what software is going to be most beneficial. I understand that this may mean putting the software on ones own personal device but I feel this minor inconvenience can go a long way. Parents can also trial software on their home computers allowing their child to use the software to do their homework. With trial software the educator and parents can keep track of the students progress, for example taking not of how the student performed the work before the assistive software was introduces, how they are performing in the middle of the trial and then at the end of the trial. These results can be shared then with parents and with member of you special education team as evidence of if the software was beneficial. I feel in many cases having already has a student trial software gives educators a parents a base for having the software purchased for the students continued use. 

Just in the couple of software trials that I have tried I have gained a better understanding of how each software works.  Now when people ask me about different assistive software I can give them my review.


Recently I have been playing around with Zoomtext to familiarize myself with this software that is used by many people with visual impairments. Before starting to try the software out my sense was that I would not find the software very user friendly, this coming from others I had spoken to about the software. I  was pleased when I started to use the software to discover that many options it has for users and began thinking that this software could be beneficial for not just people with visual impairments but for others as well which I will explain as I continue describing the software and it many uses.

For magnification, zoomtext  can begin at 1X and can go as high a 36X allowing each user to modify the text to their comfort level. The user can also change the view to allow them to see the full normal view which most of us are used to to different views according to the level of vision. For example overlay view opens a separate window that is magnified wherever the cursor is  as in the line view the document is used line by line. I felt this feature would be beneficial for people who may have difficulty with visual tracking that is not part of a visual impairment. I have Cerebral Palsy and sometimes have visual tracking difficulties where I may be reading a document and may skip a line or two as my eyes did not find the right spot, having a feature that would allow me to go line by line would have kept me on track and not constantly loosing my space.

When looking at color schemes on the computer,  the traditional black on white is not ideal for people with visual impairments. Zoomtext allows the user to change the color scheme to be something that is easier on their eyes, one popular color scheme is a black background with yellow print but Zoomtext offers many options

When it comes to cursors, I don't know about you but I can never find my cursor. I end up having to start typing to see where it is and then go back and delete once I've found it. With Zoomtext there is a feature that places a circle or a square around your cursor, never to loose it again. 

As I said before even though zoomtext is a software program for people with visual impairments I see many features that can be used by others. 

Check out tzoomtext and download a free trial and try out all that this program offers.

Assistive Technology Initiative in Niagara


This initiative allows students who use assistive technology the opportunity for training on their own device and allows parents to learn about the software that their children are using to allow parents to assist their children at home. Either in small group or on a one-to-one basis (depending on the students needs).

The initiative encourages teachers (both classroom and resource) to learn more about the software their students are using.  This allows teachers to familiarize themselves with the software that the students may be using as part of their accommodations in the classroom. Workshops are available to all teacher and will focus on many of the software programs and apps being used in the classroom today to assist students with disabilities.

The initiative encourages parents to learn more about the software their children are using.  This allows parents to familiarize themselves with the software that the children may be using as part of their accommodations in the classroom so they are able to more effectively assist their children with work that is send home. Workshops are available to all parents and will focus on many of the software programs and apps being used  to assist students with disabilities.

This initiative also allows community members to come and learn about assistive technology in their perspective agencies. Workshops are available to all community agencies who may have clients who can benefit for assistive technology. For agencies, I am willing and able to come to your agency for training.


As the AT coordinator I can provide product reviews on assistive technology. I refer you to look at earlier blogs where I talked about Dragon Naturally Speaking and different types of mouse devices that I fund useful as a individual with a physical disability and a speech impediment.

I can also provide product feedback on assistive technology. If you have a product that you think may be beneficial for individuals with disabilities and would like some feedback please feel free to contact me and see how I can help you. Contact Krystine .

As an individual with a disability believe I have expertise and practical experience in using technology. I would like to share my knowledge with not only those who use assistive technology but those who support individuals who use Assistive Technology.

Please feel free to forward this blog and any of my other blogs to those who would benefit from my experience.

Using an AAC device for communication

What is AAC? AAC is a set of tools and strategies that an individual uses to solve everyday communicative challenges. Communication can take many forms such as: speech, a shared glance, text, gestures, facial expressions, touch, sign language, symbols, pictures, speech-generating devices, etc. Everyone uses multiple forms of communication, based upon the context and our communication partner. Effective communication occurs when the intent and meaning of one individual is understood by another person. The form is less important than the successful understanding of the message.

As part of my Cerebral Palsy I was unable to speak until I was 4 years old. Until that time I used a picture board. Mine was different but this gives you the basic idea of a picture board. I think mine probably had things like mom, dad, sister, brother, toilet, hungry, thirsty and other words that a young child would need to communicate.

Once I learned to speak through the help of a speech pathologist I no longer needed my picture board. It wasn't until I moved away from home and no longer had my parents to speak for me if people didn't understand that I started asking what devices were available to help me. For me I use my AAC device in situations where my speech may not be understood (such as going to a new doctor or a social services agency) or in situations where I know I may not be heard because of noise levels as in situations where I need to speak louder my speech becomes more distorted.

My first device was a Dynavox. This is a great AAC device but I found for a person such as myself who has an unsteady gait, the portability of the device was not what I was looking for as I found it quite heavy. It did however have all of the options I wanted such as the alphabet board for spontaneous conversation and also allowed me to program messages for use in places I may need to use the device.

 My second device it was a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) with AAC software that had the same capabilities that the dynavox had but was alot more portable. I could place this, like a phone, in my bag or purse and take it out when needed.


 A few years after I got my PDA I purchased a Samsung tablet. Originally I purchased the tablet just like a lot others to replace my laptop to have something more portable to have when I went away on trips. I decided it was time to combine the two devices and started searching for AAC software to use on the tablet. I asked for some ideas from my AAC clinic and they recommended I use a software program called "Predictable', it had all of the features that I needed and has been my chosen AAC software for about the last year and a half.

 As I know a number of educators read my blog I thought I would relate this back to how having a speech impediments and/or having an AAC device can be effectively use in the classroom. For those students who have a difficult time getting their words out or who's speech may be unclear the best thing an educator can do is to give the student time to formulate their answers. If you know ahead of time what questions you will be asking, perhaps give the question to the student who may have difficulty speaking or using an AAC device time to form their answers.

Please feel free to ask me questions about any of my blogs.

For more information of people with communication disabilities please visit the 'Communication Disabilities Access Canada'.