MonTECH: AT for Back to School; Community Inclusion with  MAEP Equipment; Respite Care at Great Falls’ Peace Place
MonTECH is a federally funded program, free to any Montanan with a disability.  MonTECH loans assistive technology and adaptive equipment, shipping to recipients throughout the great state of Montana. To learn more, write
Three-year-old smiles while sitting doll on a plate with a rubber egg on it.
Nora serves a baby doll breakfast, rubber-egg over easy, at Peace Place.  Peace Place provides respite care for children 0-5.

Peace Place: A Vision for Respite Realized

Peace Place is buzzing with the energy of six industrious little children and one bright-eyed infant observing the action from an exersaucer.  Three-year-old Nora sashays past in high heels, carrying three purses. “Are you going shopping for groceries, Nora?” I ask.  “No!” she says sternly.  “I’m going to buy a phone!”  As Nora moves on, I see one little boy has climbed inside an empty toy trunk and is playing peek-a-boo with 22-month-old Beatrix. Another is trying to wrench my camera out of my hands; failing that, he settles for twisting the lens.

Peace Place looks like other day cares. The room is cheerful.  There are bright rugs, tiny chairs, toys, and of course, the dress-up box from which Nora has selected her collection of handbags. Two details set Peace Place apart:  each child receiving care has some kind of disability, and the care these children are receiving is free to their parents.   Read more about Peace Place

Peace Place Director Elaine Hundley.
LIttle boy pushes plastic animal out of Fisher Price castle window.
Little blond toddler presses a switch to activate a stuffed dinosaur.
Top:  Peace Place director Elaine Hundley.  Above left: Alistair sends plastic animals tumbling off the castle balcony. Above right:  Twenty-two-month-old Beatrix and dad, Dexter, play with MonTECH’s switch-activated dino.

Firefly GoTo Seat
Wenzelite Seat2Go.
MAEP Clinical Coordinator Claire Adam purchased two new items with community inclusion and portability in mind. The Firefly GoTo Seat (left) is portable and lightweight, so it’s easy to take along to a restaurant or to visit grandma. It can attach to most chairs and has a weight capacity of 33 pounds. The Wenzelite Seat2Go (right) is a padded positioning seat that can be used on the floor or attached to most chairs.  MAEP has two sizes available with weight capacities of 50 and 75 pounds.  If you are interested in borrowing these items, please contact Claire at
Back to School written in color crayon.

Students Gain with Assistive Tech

It’s time to re-acclimate the kids to the concept of ‘early to bed, early to rise,’ shop back-to-school sales in the vain hope of saving some bucks, and stock up on pens, pencils, and USBs doomed to be lost by Day 2 of the new school year.  For many parents, considering a child’s assistive technology (AT) needs should also be on the school-preparedness checklist.If your child has an IEP, and the IEP team determines that AT is necessary to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), the school must provide AT.  If your child does not have an IEP, it’s likely he could still benefit academically from utilizing technology.  In this case, a program like MonTECH is extremely beneficial, allowing families to try tools to ensure they will be of use before purchasing something.

AT ranges from a simple pencil grip to complicated eye-gaze computer access.  The many options available can be overwhelming.  MonTECH’s Julie Doerner advises parents focus on the needs of the child rather than on a specific technology.  Put another way, don’t purchase an iPad for your child because you’ve heard iPads are the answer; your child only needs an iPad for school if the features of an iPad will help your child overcome particular challenges.  Identify your child’s needs, then search for a device with features that meet those needs.

Below is a list of AT that can be very helpful for students.  If you would like to comment about any of these tools, or share a new one, please write  Your suggestions and experiences are welcome and appreciated!

ModMath App (iOS only, free): Allows students to type, rather than write, math problems. In-app purchases available for more complex math.  Useful for students with dyslexia and/or dysgraphia. 

Voice Dream Reader and KNFB Reader: These apps read text aloud.  Voice Dream Reader reads electronic documents ($4.99 for Android, $14.99 for iOS).  KNFB Reader allows you to take a photo of a printed document or object (label, sign, menu, article) which is then read aloud. KNFB reader can also read PDFs and JPEG files. (Currently a free download for Android, $99.99 for iOS).    Useful for students with ADHD, dyslexia/print disabilities, low vision/blind, or those who are auditory learners.

Livescribe: The MonTECH team has discovered that many schools in Montana haveLivescribe Smartpens gathering dust in cabinets.  This is unfortunate, because the Livescribe can be a valuable note-taking tool minus the distraction of using a tablet or phone to record notes.  The pen records audio while the student takes minimal notes in a microdot notebook.  Tapping on a written note starts playback of the audio recorded at the time the note was written.  The audio recording and a visual of the notebook page can be saved to a computer via USB cable. Students need to be taught to write key words at regular intervals in order to make good use of this tool.  Useful for students with ADHD, handwriting issues, dyslexia, or processing issues. Available for loan through MonTECH’s MATP program.

Time Timer: This app is a visual timer. A red circle silently disappears as time winds down. You can purchase it in multiple formats [a standing timer, $35-$50; a watch, $84.95; or as an app ($2.99  for both Android and iOS)].  Useful for students with behavior issues, difficulty with time management, and difficulty staying focused on a task. Standing timer and watch available for free loan through MonTECH’s MATP program.

Bookshare: This online library provides access to books in a variety of formats, such as digital file (which can be used with screen readers), Braille, and audio only. Bookshare has over 500,000 titles. The service is free to U.S. students who have a print disability that “prevents you from reading traditional print materials.”  Print disability must be confirmed by a teacher, psychologist, or doctor.  The books can be read on tablets, phones, and computers, and features include highlighting and text to speech.  Useful for students with dyslexia/print disabilities, learning disabilities, and vision impairment.

AudioNote (Mac, $14.99; iOS, $9.99; and Android, $5.99):  This app is inexpensive and allows students to combine audio, photos, drawing, and written/text notes into one document. Your document can then be shared with iCloud, Dropbox, iTunes, or email.  If your student is not too easily distracted by having his phone or tablet in class, this app is a great note-taking option.  Useful for students who have difficulty with handwriting, processing, or multi-tasking.  (Pass on the free or lite version.)

Sonocent Audio Notetaker: This software allows a student to record a lecture and color code the audio. He can import slides and pictures, as well as type notes.  The result is a multi-media note that can be printed, saved, or exported. A subscription to Sonocent includes a free companion app (for Android and iOS), useful when a laptop isn’t readily available. A 6-month subscription costs $10.00 per month.  A 12-month subscription costs $8.25 a month.  A “perpetual license” is $250.00. Site licenses are also available.  Sonocent offers a free 30-day download, so you can give it a try without obligation. Useful for a variety of learning styles since it provides auditory as well as visual note-taking capability. Could be a valuable tool for anyone who has difficulty taking quality, comprehensive notes.

If you know of a person, program, or piece of assistive technology we should highlight in this newsletter, please write