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At this time, there are no accessibility standards in the software industry. Printed captions are a rarity and many programs require hearing in order to use them (voiced instructions, for instance).

If your child's hearing aids have a T-coil, you can use quality stereo headphones to input the computer sound directly into the hearing aids. The T-coil will pick the electro-magnetic field generated by the headphones.

If you see a general ad for Amazon, please refresh this page and the proper book information, including price, should appear.

Chessmaster 9000
CD-Rom, UBI Soft, Windows 95/98/ME/XP

UBI Soft does not currently offer a demo of this program.

No hearing required.

Features:

  • Enjoy and learn from more than 800 classic games, including the best of 2001 and 2002 Grand Master games
  • Study the best opening moves and how to dominate the opponent sitting across from you, and improve your game with the new Blunder Alert feature
  • Experience a new and improved chess engine that allows players to compete against more than 150 different opponents, from beginning to Grandmaster level
  • Includes the new Psychology of Competition chess course taught by International Master Josh Waitzkin
  • Variety of online multiplayer options including rated chess games and chess games just for fun
  • Play with the best graphics ever seen in a chess program, featuring more than 30 beautiful new chess sets and optional, true 3D gameplay

Earobics Step 1
CD-Rom, Cognitive Concepts, Windows 95/98/NT

This program "teaches the critical phonological awareness, auditory processing and introductory phonics skills required for learning to read and spell." There are six different games to play. For ages 4-7.

A demo of this program is available at Earobics.

Earobics Step 2
CD-Rom, Cognitive Concepts, Windows 95/98/NT

"Earobics Step 2 addresses all of the skills targeted in Earobics Step 1, but at more advanced levels. It also teaches language processing skills that are critical for extracting meaning from spoken language and written text." For ages 7-10.

A demo of this program is available at Earobics.


Kid Pix Deluxe 3rd Edition
CD-Rom, Broderbund, Mac OS, Windows 95/98/Me

Children's paint and draw program. Offers animated stamps and drawing tools.

Free download of the first black & white version here (Mac only).

No hearing required.

Amazon.com Editorial Review

With Kid Pix Deluxe Third Edition, your child can use his or her mouse, voice, and wildest imagination to create masterpieces on the computer. They'll go beyond mere virtual painting to smear, gloop, and smudge colors on a canvas that can be smooth, rough, or lizard-skinned. They'll use animated clip art, find psychedelic backgrounds, and even add music or sound effects to their creations. Then you'll send your kid to bed and start playing with Kid Pix yourself. It's that good.

The program can feel a bit incomprehensible at first. After a quick installation, users encounter a screen with the usual icons--paintbrush, paint can, pencil. But there's also a cake mixer, a stick of dynamite, and a bald guy. All of this oddness is explained in the user's guide, but it's better to just jump into the right-brain spirit of this program and start clicking. Exploration reveals that the bald guy erases, while providing a running commentary, the mixer mixes colors, and the dynamite ignites, splutters, and then blows up the whole picture. Every tool here clanks, splooshes, or kerplunks, which makes Kid Pix Deluxe as close to tactile as a computer-painting program is ever going to get.

On the practical side, there are templates for maps, charts, and reports that could be useful for school projects. Kids can also import their own photographs into the program, and tweak them as they see fit. Finished works of art can be put in a "slideshow," where auteurs can mess around with dissolves, fades, and more sound effects to complete their creations.

One of the program's most unique features allows users to "paint" with their voices. Clicking and dragging while whispering and hollering into a microphone (not included) adds an interesting "performance art" element to the onscreen squigglings. Just be careful. We woke up our kids when we decided to see what our shouts looked like. (Ages 4 and older) - Anne Erickson


Kid Pix Studio Deluxe
CD-Rom, Broderbund, Mac OS, Windows 95/98/Me

This is the same software as above, without the box or the manual. My daughter started working with Kid Pix when she was two (I'll admit to having been a bit obsessed with it early on as well). The Whacky Brush and the Stampimator are especially popular around here. I've even used Kid Pix to design background graphics for my web sites. This is an all-around great program for kids.

No hearing required

Amazon.com Product Description

Kid Pix Studio Deluxe features a kid-friendly interface and a high-spirited approach to creativity with drawing, painting, animation, and multimedia tools designed with kids in mind. Studio Deluxe includes the six art projects from Kid Pix Studio (Kid Pix, Wacky TV, SlideShow, Moopies, Stampimator, and Digital Puppets), with new school-appropriate graphics and backgrounds. Tools include fully editable text, 2,500 rubber stamps, an expanded sound library, and import and export JPEG and GIF images. Get access to all fonts on your system, text-to-speech functionality, and more slide-show control. You'll also find a Teacher's Guide with a curriculum matrix, technical tips, tutorials, and more. Kid Pix Studio Deluxe is expertly designed, with a collection of 30 lesson plans that were created and used by teachers in classrooms across the country.


Pandora's Box
CD-Rom, Microsoft, Windows 98/Me/XP

This puzzle-solving game was designed by the man who created Tetris. You must capture the Tricksters who escaped from Pandora's Box, but first you have to find them. Finding them is the fun part as this game offers 350 stunning visual puzzles. Text is displayed in conjunction with all verbal components of the game. Officially for ages 8 and up, but I know a couple of 6 year olds who love it.

I personally found the game sufficiently entrancing that I played it nearly constantly until I won, despite the onset of a nasty flu and a severe asthma attack (this gave the last day of game play a rather ethereal quality).

Free demo available here (pc only).

No hearing required.


RollerCoaster Tycoon
CD-Rom, Infogrames, Windows 95/98

A complex and interesting sim game. The goal is to build a successful amusement park. This means you have to manage your staff, build rides, and keep an eye on your finances and profitability, as well as guest satisfaction. Children as young as 4 would enjoy just building the rides and watching the people move around. Lots of hidden educational benefits...from the complexities of designing a profitable park to the physics of a working roller coaster (if you don't build it well, the train won't make it through).

Caution: It is possible for people to die in this game. You don't see them die, but it does tell you how many folks died if you have a ride crash (usually a roller coaster).

Nearly two years after bringing this game into our home, I can now say that this is the most popular computer game I've provided for my children. This last Christmas I added Loopy Landscapes to the mix, which provoked even more interest (they weren't bored with it before that).

Each park scenario offers different challenges; some are quite difficult to overcome.

Demo available here.

No hearing required.

Manufacturer Description

Design and build the biggest, best, and scariest rides ever seen in any theme park. Create over 50 designs from the traditional wooden roller coaster to the high-tech Steel Corkscrew and the terrifying Reverse Freefall--all featuring accurately simulated motion dynamics. Fund the research and you will get the greatest rides current technology is capable of. Then charge the top prices to your visitors.

RollerCoaster Tycoon gives you the ups, but also the downs: Why should people come to your park? Are the rides too expensive? Have you built enough food stalls? Do your amazing rides have a habit of breaking down too often? Climb or fall, boom or bust, you are in charge of it all: making sure the rides are safe, finding out what your guests are thinking, and giving them what they want--for the right price.


Loopy Landscapes and Corkscrew Follies (RollerCoaster Tycoon Expansion Pack)
CD-Rom, Infogrames, Windows 95/98

This is not a stand-alone product; it augments Roller Coaster Tycoon. You get more scenarios, more shops and stalls, more decorations and more types of rides. Well worth buying at the same time as Roller Coaster Tycoon as it significantly expands to functionality of the original game.

No hearing required.

Amazon.com Product Description

Roller Coaster Tycoon Expansion Pack: Loopy Landscapes is a double expansion pack that also includes the first expansion pack, Corkscrew Follies. Loopy Landscapes features all-new attractions, such as new types of roller coasters and rides, including the Jet Ski ride, plus new park shops, such as T-shirt stands, donut stands, and a coffee café. There are also six new park themes, among them a winter park and an urban park. Thirty new scenarios, including desert, arctic, and medieval castle themes, challenge players with unique terrain and new scenario objectives. Several real amusement parks from England have also been included to see if players can handle the real thing.


RollerCoaster Tycoon 2
CD-Rom, Infogrames, Windows 98/ME/2000/XP

Amazon.com Editorial Review

Nobody could have predicted the phenomenal success of humble, little Roller Coaster Tycoon. Such simple, addictive games had been tried before; even the whole amusement park idea had been done in Theme Park, but RCT exploded with unmatched success. Legions of gamers enjoyed the colorful graphics, the simple but ever-so-opinionated patrons, the easy-to-master financial model, and the thrill of building, testing, and then watching customers enjoy your own roller coaster--or watching with glee as they got sick after their first ride! Roller Coaster Tycoon had the winning combination of fun and mainstream appeal that catapulted it to the top of the charts and spawned two expansion packs, as well as a horde of imitators. (Just conduct a search here at Amazon.com for games with the word "tycoon" in them.)

Ironically, Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 itself is an imitator of RCT. Perhaps in an effort not to spoil a good thing, or perhaps to guarantee success with low-system-spec mainstream fans, Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 plays almost exactly like the original game--maybe too much like it.

The graphics are still 2-D, and if you didn't know better you'd swear you were looking at the first game. This isn't good considering that the first game came out in 2000 and looked dated even then. But the ability to play the game at a much higher resolution does alleviate some of this disappointment, and a closer look reveals a greater variety of animation, more people, and a smoother overall look. The audio is, again, fantastic. It's that perfect mix of screams, giggles, grumbles, retches, and carnival music that brings the scent of cotton candy to your nose every time.

New structures are available as well as some new rides, but the biggest change is the addition of themes. Want a Haunted Park? They've given you the artwork to create one. You'll also find a Wild West theme, a children's theme, and more. The scenarios are grouped more logically by difficulty, and fans will be delighted with a sand box mode that allows limitless free play. RCT2 has a wide variety of new coaster designs, including a few famous coasters from around the world--mostly from Six Flags theme parks. A welcome addition is the ability to open a separate screen where you can test and build a custom coaster, without worrying about space or money, before buying and placing it in the game. Perhaps the best new addition is the ability to raise and lower ground en masse, removing one of the most annoying features of the first game.

Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 isn't a ground-breaking sequel, but it is an excellent game for fans of the series. We wish they'd done more with the concept, brought it into 3-D, or used higher-resolution artwork, but the gameplay remains the same. And that's a thrill ride on its own. - Andrew S. Bub


Zoombinis Logical Journey
CD-Rom, The Learning Company, Mac OS, Windows 95/98/Me/XP/2000

This program is entirely visually-oriented. A brief explanation of the point of the game (take the Zoombinis to Zoombiniville) may be necessary. The Zoombinis don't speak. The game is a series of increasingly difficult mathematical/logical problems that the Zoombinis must be safely escorted through. The game description says ages 8-12, but children as young as 3 may enjoy this game.

No hearing required.

Amazon.com Editorial Review

"Not too long ago, Zoombinis enjoyed the good life. Though they all looked slightly different--different eyes, noses, hair, feet--such differences meant nothing to the Zoombinis. And so they lived happily on Zoombini Isle, making small, useful products, which were prized the world over." So begins an unsuspectingly addictive CD-ROM, featuring uncommonly fun reasoning games that require serious problem solving and math-thinking work. Yet the perils that face this cheerful society are not as fearsome as the amount of time you'll potentially spend on this pursuit. Beware the chubby, chattering Zoombinis if you don't want to get hooked to your computer for at least 90 minutes a session!

Adored by educators and parents alike, Zoombinis Logical Journey challenges children to employ such basic fundamentals of mathematical thinking as organizing information, reasoning of evidence, finding and making patterns, and systematic testing of hypotheses. The journey follows four puzzle-filled trails, each exploring related mathematical ideas. The fundamental data and variables for all this work are the variations in the Zoombinis' features. Their "feet," for example, can be shoes, skates, whirligigs, or coiled springs (the sound effects for these items are particularly great), while their "eyes" may be heavily lidded, enhanced by eyeglasses, blocked by dark shades, or limited to just a single eyeball. Sorting and arranging these variables in order to solve puzzles requires concentrated effort from the players, and the game rewards them well with inventive scenarios that evolve in fabulously curious ways as skills are gained. This may not sound like much, but when Arno the Pizza-Eating Tree Troll, who has been yammering for the perfectly topped pizza his entire lifetime, suddenly demands a perfectly topped ice cream sundae, too, it is a staggering, giddy surprise.

The product is full of so many little joys, it's hard to demand improvements. Still, it'd be a great thing if version 2 would feature something other than the monotonous, ping-ping-ping soundtrack that's featured here. But that's minor. In the end, the creators' promise that this CD-ROM will "encourage kids to develop a lifetime habit of associating fun with learning" is dead-on. (Ages 9 and older) - Jean Lenihan



Related Resources

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An article about accessibility issues in software for children.

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Games, dictionaries and more...all using American Sign Language.

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TecEds Reviews
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Highlights from a number of scientific studies on the effects of video game play.

Windmill Works Educational Software
Accessible educational software.

Art
A guide to teaching art, art appreciation, art history and artistic techniques for homeschool parents.

Languages
Resources for teaching foreign languages

Reading Lists
Lists of recommended books and magazines.

Toys
My suggestions for toys every home should have.





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