January 2008

Newsletter of ELR Software Pty Ltd

ABN 67 090 738 702

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) as well as a "print-ready" PDF version of the current edition is available online at www.elr.com.au/news. An email version is also sent monthly to members of our mailing list (See Subscribing/Unsubscribing).

Season's Greetings, and we wish you all a safe and happy new year. And special thanks to all to have provided us feedback - always helpful!

In this issue -

  1. Looking back on 2007
  2. New and Revised eLr Materials
  3. Using eLr on the Dynavox V Devices
  4. Using the Firefox Browser with eLr
  5. eLr in the United Kingdom
  6. Other Independent Developers
  7. Free Downloads
  8. ELR 2008 Calendar

  1. Looking back on 2007

    Here is a brief reflection on 2007 and on the past 10 years since the concept of eLr was hatched. In 1997, on a long walk around the beautiful inlet at Mallacoota (Victoria, Australia), Rob and I started discussing the possibilities of the Internet in the provision of speech pathology resources. Back then, the Internet was an emerging technology, but our vision was to provide a broad range of materials, that could be used within interactive sessions, for clients who had speech, language and literacy needs. The three of us (Anna Breakell, Rob and Toni Seiler) then spent two years with frequent sessions over the white board, talking about speech pathologists' needs, and how we could make the computer 'work with us'. That was an interesting period, where the language of the speech pathologist and computer programmer had to merge, so that we could quickly exchange ideas about the development of eLr. We feel we have achieved a great deal.

    The basic design goals for eLr remain the same. Subscribing clinicians, teachers and schools, are able to access the materials from wherever they are, using the web, or the eLr-Offline version installed on their computers, flash drives, or the CD. Families are able to access specific tasks free from the web site, under the guidance of their clinician or teacher. The feedback we get is that clients are motivated to do the tasks, and therefore to complete homework. And we continue to add new materials each month.

    eLr now contains 9,280 activities - when it was launched in Feb 2000, there were about 1,600. We receive frequent feedback from clinicians and teachers and this guides the development of new sections and activities.

    eLr overseas in 2007

    In 2007 we began more targeted overseas marketing. During April and May we visited Canada, the US and UK, and held a number of Introductory workshops. We received very positive feedback about eLr. We also met with the staff at Mayer-Johnson LLC. ELR Software has had an royalty arrangement with Mayer Johnson since about 1998, as the PCS pictographs are used in many eLr activities. Since our meeting in April, we have finalized a marketing arrangement with Mayer-Johnson which culminated in the launch of eLr at the ASHA National Convention in Boston. We were part of the Dynavox/Mayer-Johnson stand, and spent an exhausting 3 days, talking to many of the 14,000 or so speech pathologists who attended the convention. Mayer-Johnson now has exclusive rights of distribution in the US and we look forward to working closely with the Dynavox/Mayer-Johnson team in the years to come.

    During the November trip, we also held introductory workshops in New York City, Johnson City (New York state), Columbus and Hamilton (Ohio), Chicago, Phoenix and San Jose. We met so many wonderful clinicians, teachers and special education workers. As part of the launch in the US, all participants of the workshops and those we met at ASHA were given a free 3 month trial. We are conducting a survey to provide information about ways to modify eLr so that it better suits the needs of North American clinicians. Any of those clinicians who return a survey will be offered free use of eLr until December 2008. So we hope to receive a good number of surveys!

  2. New and Revised eLr Materials

    One hundred new tasks have been added to eLr, in "Reading and Spelling - Short Vowel Sounds". The tasks all use the MemoryWords model. This is one of the 5 models that work very well in the consolidation of literacy skills. For those unfamiliar with the 5 models, we have found that the models LookThenCover and WorkSearch are great for introducing sets of words. MemoryWords and ConnectWords then work well to practice decoding and sight recognition, and finally, SmileyMan encourages recall of spelling patterns. Word sound buttons is another useful model which provides practice at breaking words into sounds.

    We have made a subtle change to the Session Planner which is used to print lists of tasks for home practice. The change is that each task now has the full task description. This enables your clients to clearly see the relationship between tasks. For example, in literacy, you may have given your client activities that focus on a particular spelling pattern. Your client will now be able to see the different models that have matching sets of words, so they can practice the same set of words using a variety of models.

    During our workshops in the US, we had a request to modify some of the games so that more than 2 people could play. This month the SpinWord and SpinPic models have been changed to enable up to 6 clients to play the game making it more useful for small group sessions. We also found that, as in Australia and the UK, many schools are using Smart Boards (interactive white boards). eLr works exceptionally well with this technology, as it allows you to use it within whole class activities.

  3. Using eLr on the Dynavox V Devices

    eLr is fully functional on the Dynavox V and V Max. While we were at the ASHA convention we met many of the Dynavox staff and explored these new Augmentative Communication Devices. We installed eLr on the devices and had discussions with the speech pathologists about the implications of this. It enables the person using the device to participate in eLr activities within group situations, and provides clinicians with the full range of language and literacy activities, right on the client's communication device.

  4. Using the Firefox browser with eLr

    The eLr web site still requires Microsoft Internet Explorer for full function, but we have recently been made aware that there is an option for Windows Firefox users to fairly simply make that browser work as well. What's needed is to add the IE Tab extension which is available free from http://ietab.mozdev.org. Once this extension is added, the eLr homepage http://www.elr.com.au/elr.htm can be opened in IE Tab, and preferably added to the IE Tab Options - Site filter so that it always opens this way. If anyone needs more information about using this option, please contact us.

  5. eLr in the United Kingdom

    We plan to be in the UK between February 25th and March 20th 2008. We will participate in the ASLTIP conference (Association of Speech Language Therapists in Independent Practice) on Saturday March 8th. We are also providing a series of free introductory workshops which are mostly still in the planning stages (see below). We invite interested people to contact us if you would like to attend, or if you would like to host a workshop at your workplace. Our offer is that we will provide a free 2 hour introductory workshop, if a venue is provided and if you are able to use your existing networks to publicize the event.

  6. Other Independent Developers

    As an occasional feature of this Newsletter, we include simple, unpaid announcements of products developed by other small, independent developers, who, like ourselves, are practising clinicians who have put their ideas and experience into resource materials for general distribution. Links and brief information about these sites may be found at www.elr.com.au/links/developers.htm. To date we have listed -

    If you would like your materials listed on this page (at no charge), please contact us.

  7. Free Downloads

    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.

  8. ELR 2008 Calendar

Subscribing/Unsubscribing to this Newsletter

You are receiving ELR-News because you are an eLr subscriber, or have expressed an interest in either eLr, Rude Readers, Word Meanings or EIA. To subscribe or unsubscribe, send an e-mail with details to news@elr.com.au

Copyright ©2007 ELR Software Pty Ltd

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VIC 3875, Australia
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