Sunday, April 26, 2009

Go Green In Education, Green Textbooks are here.

Green Textbooks for all school systems

Have any of us ever thought of bringing the technologies which we use on a day to day basis and bringing it to the class room.

Think of opening your textbook on your laptop and coming to this very significant figure in all of biology or medicine his name is “Antonie van Leeuwenhoe”. How would you find out who he is, well Read:OutLoud and Bookshare have created such a platform. A couple of days ago I was reading Darwin’s Black Box and ran across Antonie van Leeuwenhoe and after highlighting the name then clicking on the dictionary icon in the upper right hand corner, then going to Wikipedia I found out he was a Dutch tradesman and scientist from Delft, the Netherlands and the first person to ever see a cell or a living organism. He was also the first to record microscopic observations of muscle fibers, bacteria, spermatozoa and blood flow in capillaries (small blood vessels).

Wow is this combination a way to learn. Let us just take it a bit further, now our professor is teaching about the United Nations and a new Nation has been added to its membership, well the textbook publisher has a link and the section on the United Nations is updated and now the student is up to date.

Why are we so behind on updating education to become a leader in the world for learning? Well it may be the same reason we are so behind in our healthcare system. Did you know Medicare does not know today what it spent last week on healthcare, while we at home know what was spent on our credit card up to the last hour in some cases.

We as a nation need to bring education to the 21st century. It is not because of one institution or another but now it is our obligation to our children to bring it up to date.

Money, what about laptops for all the students the monies are not in the system, they may be available. Well they should be and think of the savings and most of the educational vantages our children will have in understanding and contributing to our hurting nation. The new administration is talking about “green”, we would not have to have the textbooks printed and there is a savings which could be computed in to the request for purchase.

Green education, what a new idea, except it isn’t, it has been brought to the system by the Learning Disabled, through BookShare.org.

Postcards from an LD Veteran

Postcards from an L.D. Veteran

Lingering flashbacks from my elementary years, visit me often. Flashes of visions streak across my mind of just making it under the limbo bar (i.e. a C average) of high school years, then the hobbling along with everyone else in my L.D. class in college, then finally during my last three semesters in college did I ever begin to feel confident. Only then to feel the vast emptiness when I began to look for a job in the business world. My metals of honor were always at home, in the form of my parents who gave me the foundation to step out in Faith, and come home to recharge my confidence. It has and is a tough battle of overcoming the written hurdles of our society, and the limits it creates. As a dyslexic with the gift of multi dimensional thinking or thinking in pictures, we are ahead of our time, and it is discouraging to have to wait for the rest of the world to catch up. In the process we are the minority. Sure we have ADA support, but this and every other label comes at a price of whispers in the back of the class and slighted eye contact when it comes to questioning our option, but at the end of the scholastic mission there is victory.

Each of the above has a defining ring:

Elementary school was tough, although I found my place as a class clown, whenever I got close to the edge of disciplinary correction, my fellow students would ask if I had missed taking my Davis pill. Most of which was overshadowed by my likable silliness. Only one school asked me not to come back.

High-school, I thank the Lord for not being labeled as an SLD or I might have qualified for ESD, but they did not exist, as a matter of fact most teachers were not informed that I was dyslectic until my senior year.

The Scholastic Aptitude Test was my baptism into college, only under an L.D. program was I going to venture into college. The L.D. program weighted my enthusiasm, in spite of my better judgement by the administration. The L.D. program would discourage the type of courses I wanted to take, so I transferred.

The University of the South was a spring board which I desired and learned more about myself and studying than ever before. I was responsible, and I accepted the responsibility by studying very hard. I was not efficient, but I was diligent. What a great gift to be in such an academic environment.

What was to follow were three semesters of a balanced diet of hard work with other students who were there for the academic challenge, and the application of reward by having fun, i.e., kayaking, spelunking, rock climbing, watching football games in a coat and tie, (which is also the uniform to class). There were teachers who would step out of scholastic traditional bounds on my behalf. They took time to read my test to me. They also invited me into their offices and homes for private tutoring, or to get a clearer picture of the “gift of dyslexia” and how to help the knowledge I expressed in class into grades. All under the “honor code” of education.

Feeling the grades and quality points failing, I transferred to the University of South Florida. My acceptance was granted after an oral petition. Into the Special Services for the Handicap program, I was allowed in. What I did not know was that I had been academically suspended from the University of the South. Subsequently, I was academically suspended in a year and a half from the University of South Florida, mainly due to my denial of disability and help from the program of the Special Services.

Into the work force for two years after being offered a good salaried position as a manager of a night club, I decided the life style would not be good for me or a possible future family, I returned to school.

By this time my emotional arms had been strengthened by picking myself up from past failures. The deans of Social Behavioral Science questioned my ability to remain a candidate for a B.A. in Psychology, saying that in order to graduate I would have to maintain a 3.0 average; I went on. There was however, one administrator who was interested in helping me, not my “disability.” I was back at my degree. Three straight semesters later, ending in Dec. 1985, I sat front row and center, averaging a 3.0. I graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from the University of South Florida.

In April of 1986, I was hired by Rhea Chiles, as an intern for the Florida House, Inc. in Washington, D.C. In October that same year I became the Director and worked for the Florida House and the 50 board members for seven years.

In January of 1994, I was hired as the Administrator for my father’s company Manatee Diagnostic Center. In 1995 I was given the Chief Financial Officers title. We had 21employees in 1994 and one full time doctor and one half-time doctor. Today we have 570 employees and four doctors. As an administrator, I am not a parent of 70 children but a child for 70 parents, which can be quite hard at times, but I do not have anything which the Lord did not give me, and what a great gift He gave me.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thank you to Hachette for being a contributing partner to Bookshare.org

Thank you so much for partnering up with Bookshare.org.

Bookshare has opened up a world to me which was almost impassable, the world of the printed word, books, novels and news has been exhausting to tread until I became a member of Bookshare.org. The printed word in today's internet has been a breeze because of ReadPlease which I found on-line in 2001. Most of my published reading was restricted to the Gutenberg Project and whatever book I was really intent on reading I would have to do the following:

1. Scrape the glue off the binder then cut the binder.
2. Scan the book into PaperPort then process the scanned book with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) it into a text rich format, then save in Microsoft Word.
3. Then read with ReadPlease

When it came to reading the Wall Street Journal, which my wife bought for me with expiring air miles, I would scan the paper headlines and then cut out the article and then do the same as the above process for reading a book and read with ReadPlease.

Then a Librarian told me about Bookshare, and in November of 2007 I joined. This technological oriented Company provided new text to speech software, which took my reading capability to a new level. Read:OutLoud Beta and the Victor Readers have given me the ability to read a book at work and then use ReadPlease for proofing letters, email, contracts and other work oriented reading. (Attached are three articles which I wrote, one being a talk I was asked to present at the Florida Council for Exceptional Children, given in Oct. 2008)

For Hachette to come on board as a pro-active publisher, all I can tell you is THANK YOU, I am grateful. It is my hope Textbooks break the iron clad stance and go green, to put education on the cutting edge as you all have at Hachette.

Please thank your team for me, a 49 year old father, and husband with the "gift of dyslexia", who for the first time is on the edge of my reading chair.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thank you to BookShare

Today the successes which have taken place in my life have been from a compassionate ear, a foundation of a solid family, Jesus Christ’s presence in my life and technology.

Bookshare has for the first time in my 50years of life, put me on the edge of a reading chair which was never in my life before. This chair is at work, at home, on vacation, and in my conversations with many.

Today the written word is not a hurdle to me nor should it be in the way of education for any student in the academic environment in the United States of America. By combining technology of text to speech, and gathering the printed word in digital format, Bookshare has overcome the initial hurdle; Bookshare has made a pioneering pathway for an unbridled learning environment.

Never in my life before Bookshare have I ever felt more a part of my community and industry. Bookshare’s partnership with Victor Reader Soft and Read:OutLoud have enabled me to read the Wall Street Journal, The World is Flat, Same Kind of Different as Me, Just As I am and more to be read. In the past, if someone were to come to me and say, “Did you read…,” this would send ripples of memories of failure and frustration which came from hurts from the casualties of dyslexia.

Prior to Bookshare, most of my published reading was restricted to the Gutenberg Project, and whatever book I was really intent on reading I would have to do the following:

1. Scrape the glue off the binder then cut the binder.
2. Scan the book into PaperPort then process the scanned book with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) it into a text rich format, then save in Microsoft Word.
3. Then read with text to speech software.

When it came to reading the Wall Street Journal, which my wife bought for me with expiring air miles, I would scan the paper headlines, then cut out the article, then repeat the above process for reading a book, and then read with text to speech software. Then a librarian told me about Bookshare, and in November of 2007 I joined, and have been reading more than ever before.

Dyslexia is a “gift” to me today, because of the barriers which have been leveled by technology; Bookshare has picked up the baton and made reading for me today a pleasure while allowing me to sharpen my mind and spirit by the printed word.

As for me and my children, the current and future technologies which are here to aid in education make the mountain tops of the creative mind obtainable. We in this country have one thing which surpasses all others, Freedom: freedom to dream, freedom to speak, freedom to learn, and freedom to achieve.

Thank you for your pursuit of making the printed word more accessible, which in turn, allows goals of reading to be set and obtained for the print disabled of our Nation by using today’s technology for tomorrow’s hope.

Thank you for serving the print disabled and our children.

Three programs which have enabled me.

Three programs which have enabled me are www.readplease.com, www.rfbd.org and www.bookshare.org . Bookshare for the student and adult population is an excellent resource, you must qualify with a print disability in order to become a member. Newspapers from all over the country are available and Bookshare provide two text to speech software programs, Victor Soft reader and a Beta for Bookshare made by Read:Outloud.

Being able to read the newspaper is a character builder, I know what is going on in the world because I read it in a newspaper, I had never been able to say this before, I can read my trade journals now, where in the past they ended up in the garbage because I could not face the daunting task of reading them. Now it is a simple clip and paste or have Read:Outloud read it to me via the web. When I read I have to follow along for 90%+ comprehension, but on the other hand I'm working a lot on spreadsheets with numbers and listening does not detour from my number crunching.

Although I can't read and type at the same time if I was able to, I would can it and sell this ability. I'm pretty sure my processing numbers and hearing the paper read to me do not use the same part of the brain.

Readplease enables me to read my letters and emails before they go out and is generally the one I use the most, Readplease should be made available to all populations in schools and libraries. If made available to all then it would not cause the much dreaded stigmatism. Readplease is a Microsoft only program, but in today's environment there are parallel operating systems software, so you can have MAC or Windows running at the same time.

As for public access, again it is us (advocates) pushing with concerted effort in the same direction.

Once I was lost now I am found, once was blind to the written word, now I read.

Tools to build your confidence.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Talking Books article

My name is Davis Graham. I have dyslexia which was diagnosed in 1967 at the University of Miami. I earned my BA degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida, class of 1985.

The road to my degree was not easy. I learned a lot about the battles with pride, how achievements come from hard work, and know today to accept dyslexia as a gift and not as a disability.

Today I am the Executive Director / CFO of Manatee Diagnostic Center, Ltd. and there is a program online which has changed my life. The program is called Readplease which I found on the Internet after receiving a contract which was 30 pages and needed to be read within 24 hours. The contract inspired me to ask the Lord for some guidance and I went to Google.com and typed in Text reading software, number two on the list was readplease.com, and in quotes was “free download”, I had the contract read in 1 hour and have not hesitated to read since.

About one and half years later I bought Readplease 2003 Plus and continue to use Readplease to read the Bible, daily devotions, contracts, reading for pleasure, reading email, trade articles, Smithsonian magazine, and then proof read my letters and e-mail. It literally has changed my life.

After contacting Pat Schubert via e-mail at Talking Books which I used quite often, she gave me a library of electronic books, and for the first time I’m reading Melville’s Moby Dick, next will be Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, then on to Robinson Crusoe. When reading with Readplease, I read between 300 words per minute to close to 500 words per minute. The ability to listen at such a high rate came from my experience in college when I would receive my text books on tape while following along in the text book. I received the text books through the Learning Disability Programs I was enrolled in during college. The books would come from Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic and sometime the school would have them read from students who were studying the same course I was taking. My ability to comprehend has come from the years of listening to books on tape with the variable speed play back records which RFBD and Talking Books so generously provide.

It is my hope somebody is out there who can use my story to inspire them to reconsider reading as an adventure. It is quite the experience to hear the words of Melville roll into an image which paints a picture of life on the sea. My life of reading has been renewed and I hope your view of reading is changed, for it is a gift from our Creator.
Sincerely,
Reading on, Davis Graham

There is more hope than most think.

Link:
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20080316/COLUMNIST76/803160455/-1/newssitemap

See post titled "Talking Books" about a software program which has changed my life. www.readplease.com (a free download) this program I think is so important that, I have since 2001 when I found it, have gone to the school board but with little success. The private schools implemented the software on to their library computers, but I haven't heard much more...



It may be a one size fits all kind of software, the practical use of this software is beyond compare. I use it to read the Wall Street Journal, today 17 pages of articles or last night ("thank the Lord" for www.bookshare.org ) The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House, by Nancy Gibbs.



If I were in school today, with this type of software and text books available in digital format, (if you ask me all text books should be only available in digital format at least for this country "just to be Green") my career future would have been so much more different. Where would I be, well I can't look back (Luke 9:62) because I'm here, but with your article and those who are in the education system or others who respond to your article we can all make a difference one student at a time, and by one institution at a time, we will make it look different for others.



As you hinted to, I agree we (dyslexics) are ahead of their time in education, and ways of learning, and I'm sitting on the edge of this technology reading chair enjoying for the first time my choice of reading the bible, daily devotions, emails coming in and proofing email going out, health care insurance 30 + page contract, an article, a trade journal or a book which I never thought I would be able to read.



My life has changed. From being all that you described in your article even the dark side, because I was reading at 85 words a minute with a lot or frustration, to today not having enough time to read at 300 to 480 words per minute. Attached is an article which I wrote about those trials. (Postcards from an LD Veteran).



Thank you again for your article, and advocacy. This world will one day be turning to us (dyslectics) for the newest way to learn, we are just ahead of our time, for now.



The future has so much more in store, check out our web-site at www.manateediagnostic.com, what if every paper in this country were 'readplease enabled' ? or go to http://www.readplease.com/english/rpenablewebsitecontent.php

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tools to build your confidence.

Three programs which have enabled me are www.readplease.com, www.rfbd.org and www.bookshare.org . Bookshare for the student and adult population is an excellent resource. Newspapers from all over the country are available and Bookshare provide two text to speech software programs, Victor Soft reader and a Beta for Bookshare made by Read:Outloud.

Being able to read the newspaper is a character builder, I know what is going on in the world because I read it in a newspaper, I had never been able to say this before, I can read my trade journals now, where in the past they ended up in the garbage because I could not face the daunting task of reading them. Now it is a simple clip and paste or have Read:Outloud read it to me via the web. When I read I have to follow along for 90%+ comprehension, but on the other hand I'm working a lot on spreadsheets with numbers and listening does not detour from my number crunching.

Although I can't read and type at the same time if I was able to, I would can it and sell this ability. I'm pretty sure my processing numbers and hearing the paper read to me do not use the same part of the brain.

Readplease enables me to read my letters and emails before they go out and is generally the one I use the most, Readplease should be made available to all populations in schools and libraries. If made available to all then it would not cause the much dreaded stigmatism. Readplease is a Microsoft only program, but in today's environment there are parallel operating systems software, so you can have MAC or Windows running at the same time.

As for public access, again it is us (advocates) pushing with concerted effort in the same direction.

My Gift of Dyslexia

Davis Graham's educational history and resources, in his own words
My Early Background
I was born in Fort Benning, Georgia, USA

We left Bradenton when I was four years old and moved to Saudi Arabia for four years, and then returned to Miami where my father went into radiology. When we were in Saudi Arabia my parents became frustrated with my learning and were concerned for me, I was tested in 1967 and was diagnosed with Dyslexia at the University of Miami. I was put on Ridilin and directed to a private school for children with learning disabilities.

My family moved back to Bradenton in 1970. I went to St. Stephens Episcopal School and became the class clown to keep people at bay as to what was going on inside, got into trouble and was asked not to come back. Transferred to St. Joseph Catholic School in 1972 where the Head master had some knowledge of dyslexia. Then off to Manatee High School, class clowned again thru school, used every opportunity to make it thru, did get my pilot license, and graduated from High School in the top 50%. SAT totaled 650, SAT un-timed 800. My guidance counselor discouraged me regarding college by saying, “why would you try for something like a college degree and not be able to finish it.” A college degree was the only thing no one could take away from me. I was accepted to three schools: Emory Riddle, University of Montana and Westminster College. I decided it would be Westminster College.

Westminster College accepted me under their L.D. Program, I was held back on taking some classes. At Westminster I received some great tools, RFBD books on tape, dictating papers and group therapy.

I Transferred to University of The South, Sewanee, Tenn.
Great academic environment; I learned more about studying and wanting to learn than in any other environment. I discovered frustration with professors not understanding my gift of dyslexia but felt accepted. There were several times I felt as if I did not want to go on in life, but my faith saved me.

I Transferred to the University of South Florida
At USF I was accepted in under the Special Services for the Handicap program. For a year and a half I did not take all the help which was given and was academically suspended in 1983. There was a time I wanted to end my life during the end of this time in college, but I reached out to Sally Jesse Rafael, who had her own radio talk show at the time, and was then again renewed in hope.

When I received the letter of Academic Suspension, I was very depressed, however, my strong faith in God and a lot of friends and family got me through a very tough time.

Interesting Experiences
I worked for a night club for 2 years and was in the Movie “Cocoon” in the break-dance scene. Was given an opportunity to be promoted, then decided to go back to school.

I applied and was accepted back at USF. In order to get a psychology degree the Dean of Social Behavioral Sciences told me that I would be required to make a 3.0. So be it.

After registering for classes, I met Chris Martin; she was the administrator for the Special Services for the Handicapped. She asked me how my “gift” affected me; it was also the first time I was ever willing to talk about my gift. I was asked “Well then what do you need?” My answer was I need a note taker, my books on tape, my test given orally and tutoring whenever needed. 3 semesters later I graduated with “a 3.0” no more, no less. My degree was earned by grace, faith, and an ear for my compassion and persistence.


First Job as a Graduate
Director of the Florida House: In 1986 I was offered a job as an intern at Florida House, Inc. in Washington, D.C. The Florida House was started by Rhea Chiles, Senator Chiles wife in 1972. It is an Embassy of sorts for Floridians who are visiting our Nation’s Capital. In October 1986 I was offered the Director’s position, and worked for 7 years for Mrs. Chiles. Highlights were many, broadcasting with Willard Scott weather show on the Today Show was one, working with the full Florida Congressional Delegation closely for 7 years, the Clarence Thomas hearings, Iran-Contra hearings, working with the Reagan and Bush administrations on special needs children, Walt Disney programs, dissidents coming from the Eastern Block countries trying to get family members to the USA, the “Iron Curtain” falling and then Desert Storm.

After 7 wonderful years it was time to move on. I joined Manatee Diagnostic Center, Ltd. in 1993 after taking 6 months off and touring/camping/being a cowboy and writing a book titled “In Search of the Risen Son”.

Manatee Diagnostic Center, Ltd. is a family business; I work with my father and two other administrative personnel. We have 70 folks who I work for and with and we together serve close to 80,000 patients a year.

Today I’m married to my wife Trish going on our 7th year in July; we are have four children. Our oldest son is Davis Woodward (5), Mary Grace (4), Andrew James (2) and Sarah Abigail born October 2008.

Enter Readplease
I found in 2001, while needing to read a 30+ page contract, while reading 170 words a minute with 50% comprehension, I needed to read this contract with 98% or higher comprehension. The internet had come into fruition, so I Googled “Text reading Software” and second in line was Readplease, with “free-download” now called “freeware”. Downloaded the software, it was so similar to my recorder controls it became a part of my life, like an old shoe. The contract was read in about an hour and a half, and I have not stopped reading since.

My spelling has improved by 60 to 70 percent, I read between 300 to 480 words per minute with 90%+ comprehension; fear of the written word is no longer present. There is nothing in my way except for motivation. When I get ready to read a document such a 59 page lease, I have to gear up and focus, and then I’m living the word as I read.

This opportunity to present to you today is to inspire those who still look at the written word as a threat. Today I’m here to say this threat should no longer exist. Reaching goals which once seemed out of reach because of the written word is no longer out of reach; it is available to read and comprehend. Readplease as well as other text reading software are here to give you and your students a “New read on Life”.

And what a glorious life it is.