Product Review: PowerChord Keyboard, TTT & SAL2
I am fortunate to have a K-6 Resource Room and I usually have between 7 and 11 braille students at a time. With a range from beginning to advanced braille readers, It would be a challenge to find a tool more useful in my class than the TTT and the accompanying SAL Programs. It is a great way to give students time for independent practice and improve their braille skills. Touch Graphics was extremely helpful in providing support when I needed it. They even replaced some of the sheets like the Snakes and Ladders game because the kids wore it out!
I also think the Power Chord Keyboard is a must for any TVI. The USB braille keyboard quickly plugs in to a PC and does not require the installation of any drivers. It just works.
We use the Power Chord for six key entry in Duxbury and Braille 2000. It is getting more challenging to find keyboards that allow you to use the fds and jkl for six key entry. But the Power Chord Keyboard is much more comfortable and efficient. In my classroom, students use it with Math Flash from APH to practice their math facts. Our school uses the Rocket Math program and all of the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems are set as drills. Students pick the appropriate drill and Math Flash prompts them with all the problems. Students respond by typing their answer on the Power Chord Keyboard using Nemeth. A great way to practice the Nemeth code and the kids like the feedback from the computer that Math Flash provides.
We also use it with Type Ability from YesAccessible to practice writing the braille code. Another tremendous program with the Power Chord Keyboard and/or a standard keyboard.
The Power Chord Keyboard can be used with a word processor as a braille entry device. Load a screen reader such as NVDA and speech output is now available. Students write in braille and the word processor presents it as text on the screen. That is very helpful for getting instant feedback from sighted help. Students need to write in uncontracted braille (computer braille). I thought this would be a problem but the kids didn’t care. They like using it. If it was possible to use the Power Chord Keyboard to write in a standard word processor in contracted braille, that would make it truly amazing.
I think the Power Chord Keyboard with a laptop is also an excellent combination for itinerant teachers. It is very portable, perfect for teaching braille input, and assists new braille students in developing the necessary skills for using an electronic braille notetaker.
Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired