ELR Software produces a range of computer programs designed by speech pathologists for speech, language & literacy intervention. Our programs may be used interactively within therapy sessions, to increase efficiency in service delivery, and to improve access to the Internet for people with special needs. We are also available as consultants to clinicians and research projects in the fields of literacy and accessibility issues associated with the Internet.
The aim of this newsletter is to inform you of developments and changes to our major products eLr (Extra Language Resources), Rude Readers, Word Meanings and EIA (Enhancing Internet Access). We welcome the opportunity for feedback and questions, and will be pleased to consider including reader contributions and announcements.
This Newsletter (and previous editions) is available online at www.elr.com.au/news and an email version is sent monthly to members of our mailing list (See Subscribing/Unsubscribing).
In this issue -
Forty-eight new tasks have been added to "Sentence Processing - Single Clause Active Sentences - Using Descriptive Phrases". We are continuing to develop the Sentence Processing section. The new tasks are word based tasks using the Typing with words, and Typing with phrases models. These models are an excellent way to develop the client's ability to use sentences flexibly.
The Typing with phrases model involves rearranging whole phrases to make a sentence. This allows you to highlight the different types of phrases - those which describe features of items or those which describe "where" or "how" things are done (ie describe the verb). Rearranging the phrases in different ways can lead to discussions about how the meaning is affected by the position of the phrase in the sentence.
Typing with words provides practice at rearranging each word to make a sentence. For some clients it may be useful to rearrange the phrases first (using Typing with phrases), and then do the matching task using the corresponding Typing with words task. It is also useful and a challenge to try to make as many different sentences as you can from the same set of words. As the sentences become longer, this is more feasible.
The tasks vary in lengthy and complexity, and the task name highlights the level of difficultly. For example, there are tasks where:
We will be continuing to develop the Sentence Processing Section over the next few months.
eLr is more like a large computer "program" than a conventional web site, and it presents many of the compatibility challenges found in other software. The activities may be accessed directly from the web and also from non-web connected computers via the compiled "CD" versions eLr-Offline and eLr-Guest. Unfortunately we've not found technology that will let us produce anything but Windows versions of eLr-Offline and eLr-Guest, although Windows emulation software for Macintosh (such as Virtual PC) does allow these programs to run.
The website should be accessible with any Mac or Windows browsers - right? Well, yes and no!. Presently you must be using MS Internet Explorer (MSIE) and if you're using browsers such as Safari (and Firefox on Windows), which are not fully MSIE compatible, then you can browse most of the website, but you won't be able to access the actual eLr tasks!
We have always had support for Macs using MSIE to browse the website. However, over the course of several Microsoft updates to MSIE, to say nothing of the dramatic changes in the underlying structure of the Mac operating system, we've been increasingly aware that Mac users have had a variety of issues when trying to use eLr from the website. We've now installed a "mini-mac" on which we can test and resolve these problems. Being a new system, it has the Max OS/X operating system and MSIE version 5.2 installed on it. So from now on that is the minimum Mac standard we can be sure of supporting, and considerable effort has gone into eLr this month to try to achieve maximum compatibility for website access.
Most features and activities now seem fully operational, except for the dreaded "coloured digits where icons should be" problem in tasks such as the drag and drop activities. We made these "icon" sets (such as animals, dinosaurs etc) ourselves and they are prepared as small "embedded fonts" which are temporarily downloaded (and "embedded" in the page) by MSIE as required. This mechanism also worked on Macs prior to OS/X, but doesn't and won't work on OS/X as far as we can tell from the Microsoft and Mac documentation.
Our solution to this will be to make available the icon sets as standard fonts which users will be able to download and install free from our website. What's more, by moving to this mechanism we'll be able to support the Mac Safari browser, and other Windows browser such as Firefox. Not quite there yet - but, to all the Mac users out there, please don't despair, we've not forgotten you, and any feedback about problems using eLr from the website with Mac OS/X and MSIE will be much appreciated.
Be warned, Far Fart (Volume 5) also has poo and wee! If you forget to use the consonant at the end of a CVC word, you'll say a CV word and it might just be a rude one. Far Fart contrasts CV and CVC words in a sentence, with two or three unrelated sentences per page. The drawings work overtime to help the child because there are many words - at least 70 nouns- in this Rude Reader. Each sentence makes sense, almost. eg "We did wees on the weak weed."; "Far from the farm I did a fart."; "The moose went moo at the moon."; "Someone did a poo in the pool."; "The gnome has no nose." etc Syntax is mainly LARSP IV with an occasional complex sentence.
The conference in Canberra was enjoyable in many respects. It was great to meet clinicians who had not seen eLr or our other software products. Most of these people had apparently heard of eLr (which is satisfying), and took the opportunity to come and meet us and have a look through the program. This helped them gain an understanding of the flexible nature of the tasks and how it might complement their other resources. It was also terrific to meet our current subscribers again, and to get your valuable feedback. We have received lots of positive comments about how eLr saves time and is motivating for clients. We have also taken on board suggestions for new tasks and ways to improve both the materials and the access methods.
So thank you very much to all those who have given us feedback.
ELR has a number of free or evaluation files available for downloading directly from our website. Please see www.elr.com.au/downloads.htm for specific details. For other supporting materials and documents available for free download, please see www.elr.com.au/support.htm.
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