XMind iOS

XMind is one my most used programs for notetaking and organization.  I have used it on the Windows and Linux platforms.  They have now come out with a version for iOS, so you can now use XMind on your iPad or iPhone.


It is available as a free download from the App store for a limited time. There is no indication of how long the free download offer will last.

October US Disability Employment and Unemployment

Bureau of Labor Statistic Logo

Data are NOT Seasonally Adjusted

October 2017

3.7% Unemployment No Disability

7.6% Disability Unemployment

31.7% Not in Labor Force – No Disability

79% Not in Labor Force – With Disability

13.4% Teenage Unemployment Rate


October 2016

4.5% Unemployment No Disability

9.9% Disability Unemployment

31.4% Not in Labor Force – No Disability

80% Not in Labor Force – With Disability

15.1% Teenage Unemployment Rate

Tables A-1 and A-6 Bureau of Labor Statistics (Not Seasonally Adjusted)


15-20% Persons with Learning Disability

Up to 50% of the Prison Population has a Learning Disability

Next Release Date December 8, 2017, at 08:30 AM EST.

September 2017 US Disability Unemployment Rates

Bureau of Labor Statistic Logo

September 2017


3.9% Unemployment No Disability

7.5% Disability Unemployment

31.3% Not in Labor Force – No Disability

78..8% Not in Labor Force – With Disability

12.8% Teenage Unemployment Rate


September 2016


4.6% = Unemployment No Disability

8.7% Disability Unemployment

31.3% Not in Labor Force – No Disability

78.8% Not in Labor Force – With Disability

15.8% Teenage Unemployment Rate


Tables A-1 and A-6 Bureau of Labor Statistics (Not Seasonally Adjusted)


15-20% Persons with Learning Disability

Up to 50% of the Prison Population has a Learning Disability

Next Release Date November 3, 2017 at 08:30 AM EDT.

Word Macros – The Next Step for Automation Part 1

Previous posts looked at automating Word by using the AutoCorrect option.  Typing a character string and having it replaced by strings of text and then adding a button to the Quick Access Toolbar to simplify the process.

Macros will be the next step to automate Word.

In its simplest form, a macro is simply a series of actions that are recorded, then with a single command execute the recorded steps

One thing a student might do repeatedly is to highlight information in a Word document, either for reference or later editing. It would be helpful to be able to quickly identify the highlighted sections. If it is a short document, a quick inspection can identify the highlights. A multi-page document will require more time and the possibility of missed sections.

By using the Advanced Find feature, all of the highlighted sections can be identified, selected, copied and then made available for pasting.

We’ll break this into two pieces. One, to walk through the steps to select the highlights, copy them and paste them into a new document.

The second part will be to add the Developer tab to the toolbar and then record the macro.

To begin open your document with the highlighting you want to extract. The document we’ll use is Taming of the Shrew downloaded from Gutenberg.org with selected passages highlighted.

The first step is to click the Find button in the upper right of the Ribbon on the Home Tab.

The Navigation pane will then appear. Click the down arrow next to the Search box and select Advanced Find from the dropdown list.



The Find and Replace Dialog box will come up.

Click the Button labeled More to get all the options.

Click the Format button in the lower left corner and select Highlight.  The word Highlight will then appear under the Find What text box next to Formatting:

Click the Find In: button and select Main Document.

Close the dialog box and all of the highlighted sections will be selected.

Press Ctrl+C, then Ctrl+N to open a new Word document and finally Ctrl+V to paste the selections in the new document.

The new document is created with just the highlighted text that was selected.

The video below will also show the steps.

The second part will be creating a macro to do the same thing but with either a keyboard shortcut or a button.

Word and Text to Speech

There have always been third-party programs to have text read aloud in Microsoft Word (Text to Speech or TTS).  Word Talk, a free program from Call Scotland is one.  Read &Write Gold is a commercial product which not has text to speech but also comes with its own voices. These are all programs which are added to the Word toolbar rather than opening a document in its own window.

In the latest versions of Word, you have two options for TTS, Speak and Read Aloud. Both can be added to the Quick Access Toolbar as shown in the screenshot below.   Speak and Read Aloud are underlined.


Both can use the installed system voices.  The major difference is Read Aloud has a Control Panel and will highlight words that are being spoken. Reading in Read Aloud starts from the cursor position.  Speak will not highlight words as they are spoken and will only read selected text.

Read Aloud can also be used in the Read View under Tools.  Using it in Read View will allow access to a control panel with the standard controls plus the ability to change voices.

The video below will show both Speak and Read Aloud being added and in use.

Adding the AutoCorrect button to the Ribbon for Word 2016

When Microsoft created the Ribbon for Word, it was based on the concept of placing more options in the front of the user. Most of the options are now more readily available with only one click.

Unfortunately, the AutoCorrect option was buried fairly deep into the menus, requiring several clicks to bring up the Dialog box.

What we’d like to do is add a shortcut to the Quick Access Toolbar so AutoCorrect is quickly available with one click.

Start by going to the Quick Access Toolbar, clicking so the menu appears. On the menu, select More Commands.

Showing Word Document Quick Access Toolbar
Quick Access Toolbar on Ribbon

When the customize Ribbon dialog box appears, Click the Show Commands From box and select Commands Not in the Ribbon.

AutoCorrect Dialog Selection Box
AutoCorrect Dialog Selection Box


This will show all the command that are NOT on the Ribbon alphabetically in the left box and the command in the Quick Access Toolbar in the right box.
Scroll down to find the AutoCorrect Option – It will be the one with Lighting Bolt icon.

Click the Add button to place the AutoCorrect command in the Quick Access Toolbar. Then click OK.

AutoCorrect adding to Quick Access Toolbar List
Adding AutoCorrect Button to the Quick Access Toolbar

The AutoCorrect button with icon has been added to the Quick Access Toolbar


AutoCorrect is now only a click away.  You can see the steps in the video below.

Automating MS Word

I will confess that I am a lazy person.  I really should say that I’m always looking for an easier or faster way to accomplish tasks.  When I have a repetitive task that may be complex, I eventually begin investigating ways to avoid the task.  Enter Word automation or Word Macros.

Working with students, either with special needs or non-special needs, they have identified many of the tasks that they might automate.  A few simple skills can go a long way to improving a students’ writing experience. Reducing the number of keystrokes or mouse clicks can simplify life.


A simple form of automating Word is the Autocorrect feature to replace frequently used words or phrases. To simplify the number of keystrokes ( and errors) needed to enter phrases, titles and long strings of repeated text, Autocorrect is a simple solution.

In earlier versions of Office, Autocorrect was fairly easy to access under the Classic Menu.  It was located on the Tools drop-down list.

Starting with the Ribbon, accessing Autocorrect has become a multi-click process.  First in Word 2016, click the File Tab on the Menu bar (or Press the ALT key then F)

The menu tab with lots of choices will appear.  Select Options at the bottom of the list or if you’re selecting using the keyboard, press T.

A dialog box will appear showing the Word Options.  Select Proofing.

Select Proofing and AutoCorrect Options will be at the top of the choices.

Select AutoCorrect Options in the Window and the AutoCorrect Dialog box will appear.

Now we simply use the Replace With fields to substitute one character string for another.

In this case, if I’m writing a long piece on folk singer/songwriters who had an impact in the 60’s and 70’s.  I writing about Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. (Leaving On A Jet Plane) and at some point will misspell his name.  So I will choose a few letters to type and have it replaced with his full name.  In this case, I’ll use hjd in the Replace field and Henry John Deutschendorf Jr.in the With field.

The video below shows the entire sequence including how it works in Word.

One of the keys to using this is to choose a Replace string with characters that are not normally used.

If you plan to use AutoCorrect frequently, you might consider adding it as a button to the Ribbon.  That will be the next topic.

DSpeech – A Free Text to Speech Program

DSpeech from Dimio is a FREE Text to Speech (TTS) program for Windows.  It is one of two free programs I’ve found that can convert text to a digital audio file without having to upgrade to a paid option.

It utilizes the Speech Application Program Interface (SAPI) in Windows with the voices in the Operating System.  The voices you can access will vary by your version of Windows.  Additional voices can be added. There are several free voices which can be installed for use in the program.


The program does not need installation which means it does not need administrative rights.  It can also be made “portable,”

There are also  several simple methods to have multiple voices in the same text.  Both are demonstrated in the video below.  One is to go to the options on the menu bar, click Customize Voice in Quoted Text and complete the dialog box: checking the box for Use Different Box for Quoted Text and choose the voice.  Alternatively, the voice can be changed by using the tag #VOICE [Voice Name].  Using this option allows the use more than two voices.

Click here to go to Dimio’s website for the download


Disaster and Communication

With Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, there are thousands of people having to move into temporary shelters.

A number of these people will be unable to communicate with shelter staff because of a disability or language barrier.

For the deaf, oral interpreters will not be available and because of loss of phone lines and cell towers, the backup systems using translation services will probably fail as well.

A simple laptop or computer with a keyboard will do in a pinch, but a more dedicated solution such as an Ubiduo would be better.

CAVEAT: I have not used these.  The programs came from a variety of resources.

 For Translations Offline:

Google Translate allows downloading languages onto your device.

Bing Translator also allows downloading languages onto your device.

Amazon Kindle Fire Translator (offline)

Tourist language learn & speak (Android only)

Lonely Planet Offline Translator(iOS)

Portable Text and Speech Translator – QTranslate (Windows but does not require administrative rights).


Reading Level Gaps  – California Students with disabilities

Based on the English portion of the 2016 Smarter Balanced exam given in California, only 13% of students with a disability either met or exceeded grade standards for reading.

For those students without a disability, 57% of the females and 57% of the males met or exceeded grade standards for reading

The thrust of the data summaries is that male students of all ages and ethnicities score lower than comparable female students. Data for disabilities is also included.  The male/female gap is not as pronounced as it is in those without disabilities.

The summary data table (Excel Worksheet) can be found here:

Summary Data Tables