Occasionally I like to highlight new devices that I believe could make an impact on many of our students. I recently had the opportunity to acquire the new Writer Fusion and am very impressed with what I’ve seen. Let me explain…
Many times I am asked to come in and evaluate a student for assistive technology. More times than I can count on both hands, parents or staff members believed the best solution for the student was to have his or her own laptop. Don’t get me wrong, computers a great and laptops are sometimes even better because of their portability, but they are not always the best answer.
When you really start looking at what the student needs, many times a simple portable word processor will do the job. You’ve seen them before… Neo (Alphasmarts), Dana or Dana Wireless, Writer, etc.. They offer many of the advantages of laptops without the disadvantages. For example, many of the students I met who were being considered for a laptop simply had writing issues that caused them to fall behind when the assignment required taking notes, journal writing, story writing, etc… Portable word processors offer many of the supports writers need without the extra (and expensive) stuff they can do without. Not to mention their battery life is much better!
Having said the above, my personal favorite portable word processor is the new Fusion from Advanced Keyboard Technologies. Not only does it offer your typical word processing supports, but it also includes word prediction and text-to-speech. Features that are not always available in similar devices. In addition, you can purchase a memory card for the Fusion that will allow you to transfer text to and from the device. This is great when teachers want to type up tests or reading assignments ahead of time and transfer them to the device where the student can have them read out loud using a headset. In the limited number of times I’ve used this with students, all enjoyed the device and I’ve yet to run into any trouble with it. Although I’m not sure if available yet, I just saw the newest version, which includes a speaker so a headset isn’t required, at a state conference last month.
Feel free to make a comment and let me know your experience with the Fusion or similar device.