ATU299 – Home delivery services with Laura Medcalf


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Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

Home delivery services with Laura Medcalf |

Global Accessibility Awareness Day: Finding Good Examples – AFB Blog – American Foundation for the Blind
A Prairie HomeKit Companion

App: Cozi Family Calendar |

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——-transcript follows ——

LAURA MEDCALF:  Hi, it’s Laura Medcalf, the social media content specialist at the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana, and this is your Assistance Technology Update.

WADE WINGLER:  Hi, this is Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals crossroads in Indiana with your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

Welcome to episode number 299 of assistive technology update, scheduled to be released on February 17, 2017. 299?  Next week means episode 300. That’s a landmark. Today I’m so excited to have my good friend Laura Medcalf, who is on our staff here and write a lot of our blog, talk about the various home delivery services and how they might be an accessibility tool. Also we’ve got a story from our friends at the AFB about how to find good examples of accessible websites. Interesting information about how to use Apple home kit for home automation. And an app review from our friends over at BridgingApps on the Cozi family calendar.

We hope you’ll check out our website at, give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124, or drop us a note on Twitter at INDATA Project.


Ever thought about using an iPad to read text and make forms more accessible?  Have you ever wondered what drones might mean for people with disabilities who use assistive technology. Those are some of the questions on our most recent episode of ATFAQ, assistive technology frequently asked questions, where we have a panel of experts here twice a month answer your questions about assistive technology. Check out our most recent episode at or wherever you get your podcasts.


Global accessibility awareness day is coming up on May 18 and I’m starting to see a lot of press releases and announcements and things about it. I was thrilled to see a picture and article from a friend of mine, Krista Earl, who is at the American foundation for the blind. Her blog post is entitled, “Global accessibility awareness day:  finding good examples.” She opens the article by saying a question she gets a lot is, what can I send this webmaster to give examples of how to fix a broken site?  She’s talking about from an accessibility perspective. The article talks about different kinds of things that people can do to make their website more accessible. It points to a blog post that talks about accessibility from the perspective of the visually impaired user, things you can do to improve your website, tips and tricks for web developers, how to design accessible web forms, and other resources on web accessibility. You can send a developer right to the W3C guidelines and checklist, this is a nice set of examples that you can send them to that really hit on the screen reader accessibility side of the accessibility equation and it is written and a light and easy to read kind of way. It’s also great to hear from my friend Krista. I’m going to pop a link in the show notes over to the AFB article where you can read her blog post about good examples of web accessibility.


I found an interesting series of blog post about home automation. I get a newsletter called tidbits which is all about Apple news. There is a series called Prairie home kit companion. That’s a reference to an NPR show that I also like. There is a gentleman named Josh centers who is just completed a five of five part series about home kit and getting started with home automation those kinds of things.

In part one – he started last summer with a blog post about Phillips Hue smart light bulbs. He talks about his initial skepticism about those and why they might be important. But then he documents his experience about messing around with Phillips lightbulbs and creating lights in his house. He talks about how to make scenes, choose colors, do the installation and create widgets.

In part two he talks about the home kit core concepts. Home, is apples framework for controlling home automation. You’ll find it in iOS and Apple TV and all over the Apple ecosystem. He talks about home kit from the perspective of security and integration sharing, ease-of-use, interoperability and those things. He talks about how to make plans to use home kit for home automation.

In part three he gets into how to set up accessories in a room so you can have individual devices being controlled by home kit or you can set up entire rooms so you can control things in the grouping so you can turn them on or off or control them with the same commands.

In article four he goes further into accessories and how to control them in different ways, and he gets into some fancy lighting stuff and talks about scenes with multiple devices, then he also talks about how to use Apple watch and Siri to control home kit, which I think is particularly interesting from the perspective of EADL, or home automation for folks who have disabilities or rely on assistive technology.

And the last one, which is called automating your home, sort of pulls it all together. He talks about how to set up automations in your home so that there are certain things that fire off at certain times, things happen based on your location or time of day or if a sensor detects those things.

As I glanced through this series of blog posts, they are pretty good. It’s a great primer on home automation, especially if you’re looking at doing that through the Apple perspective and are a do-it-yourself. I’m going to stick a link in the show notes to the full series of articles and that you take a look at those. There are great pictures and descriptions about how you might use Apple home kit for home automation. Check our show notes.


Each week one of our partners tells us what’s happening in the ever-changing world of apps, so here’s an app worth mentioning.

AMY BARRY:  This is Amy Barry with BridgingApps, and this is an app worth mentioning. Today I am sharing an app called Cozi family organizer. Cozi is a family-friendly planning app that allows families or individuals to easily organize the calendar, lists, recipes, and more, all in one place. Cozi is a great assistive technology app for helping manage busy families. We trialed the app with the family with a child with special needs and found it to be very useful in keeping up with therapy and doctor’s appointments. Cozi is free to download; however, there is an option to upgrade to the gold version of the app which offers users more features such as a monthly calendar view, birthday tractor, contacts, and more. The gold version is also ad free, and the cost is $19.99 per year. The central feature of the app is the calendar. With a free version of the app, the user is able to see the calendar in a weekly view. Users and family members can add events to the calendar. Calendars are color-coded, and each family member can also have their own individual calendar. Users can also create shopping lists and to do lists within the app. Our favorite feature of the lists is the ability to share them with users by text message. This makes it easy to share lists with family members on the go. Another one of the highlights of the app is the meal section. This is great for families with picky members. Users can search for recipes and add them to the family recipe box. They can also add their own recipes from scratch or from a URL. Recipes can then be added to the family calendar as a meal for the day. Cozi is available to download for free at the iTunes and Google play stores, and the app is available both with iOS and android devices. For more information on this app and others like it, visit


WADE WINGLER:  I don’t know about you guys, but I’m all about convenience. Any time I can get something to happen automatically, I think it’s pretty much a good thing. In a lot of parts of the world, is not just about pizzas being delivered anymore. I’m planning services that will deliver anything anywhere these days, at least that’s my perspective. Those services seem to be growing. For me it’s about convenience, but I know that for a lot of folks with disabilities, these convenient services all of a sudden become all about independence and may be the difference between being independence and relying on someone for the most basic stuff in life. I want to explore that conversation with one of my good friends Laura Medcalf and studio who is our social media content specialist. She is also the person who writes the vast majority of our block content, so if you have read anything at, it’s very likely that you have read Laura’s work and are probably a fan. She is also what the lovely host of one of our other podcast, accessibility minute. I let her talk about that as well. The reason I have her in studio and I’m not letting her talk yet is she recently did a blog post about grocery delivery services. I wanted to talk about that blog post a little bit and expand some conversation about that topic. First and foremost, Laura, how are you?

LAURA MEDCALF:  I’m doing well. How are you?

WADE WINGLER:  I think I’m okay. I’m excited to have you in the studio. I know that we have fun when we get together and chat about things, so I’m excited about our conversation today. Before we talk about delivery services and groceries and some of the conveniences that come along with that, tell folks about you, your background, how you got here, what you do before you came here, and what your job is like.

LAURA MEDCALF:  I studied creative writing at Ball State University. After graduation I was looking for a position where I would be able to write. I also wanted to work with disabilities. When I heard about the INDATA Project and their internship, I applied instantly and was granted the position. Then you guys offered me the official position as the social media content specialist for the INDATA Project. For my job I’m able to get out a lot of advice and different technologies to help individuals obtain their independence as much as possible and to teach them about technologies that never heard of and I’ve never heard of. It’s very exciting every day, looking at things.

WADE WINGLER:  How long have you been writing for us and doing podcasting?  It’s been three years or so?  Nothing like that?

LAURA MEDCALF:  three and a half.

WADE WINGLER:  No longer an intern. Formal, grown-up job, the whole deal, media content specialist. Of course I love being here. You sit at one of the places in the world where assistive technology is language. It’s what people are talking about all day long, every day, and different kinds of assistive technology. I think that’s cool because for you as someone who is a writer, you get access to the new stuff that’s happening and it gives you a chance to share that with others, which is basically what he said in your introduction. That’s exciting and I think it’s a unique and pretty cool job.

LAURA MEDCALF:  Is a dream job for sure. I’m very blessed.

WADE WINGLER:  An example of one of the things you’ve written about recently:  on January 18, 2017, just a few weeks before we are recording this show right now, you did a blog post that was about four delivery services for groceries. I want to talk about that blog post a little bit and talk about those services. Before we do that, tell me why you think delivery services are important, especially with a disability spin, and how has the availability of those services changed recently.

LAURA MEDCALF:  As you said we are all about convenience nowadays. I think now a lot of people and businesses are starting to acknowledge the convenience of delivery services. A lot of them are starting to utilize – like the taxi service Uber, they are trying to implement that into their businesses and make delivery more affordable and possible. In terms of what it means for individuals with disabilities, that’s the difference between living independently or not. For instance, getting groceries is something I’m not able to do independently. Even though I have the ability to drive, going to the store by myself is not an option, as I’ll need help. I always have to schedule someone to go with me or have somebody go get the goods for me.

WADE WINGLER:  I know you pretty well. Have we talked about your and some of the assistive technology used. Did we set that up at all?

LAURA MEDCALF:  No. I have spinal muscular atrophy, which is a form of muscular dystrophy. I was able to walk barely up until three or four, and then eventually was bound to a wheelchair. In sixth grade I began using the power wheelchair which has granted me the upmost independence. Of course now I’m able to drive with different equipment. The iPhone provides me with a lot more independence than I had before.

WADE WINGLER:  Your chair, your band, your phone. That’s like the trifecta. Let’s talk a little bit about the services you talk about in your blog post. The ones I have here on this list are Instacart, Peapod, Green Bean, Amazon Prime Now. I have some questions about some others as well. Let’s run down through those and recap some of the stuff you talk about in your blog post. Let’s start with Peapod.

LAURA MEDCALF: Peapod is a grocery service that has been around for 28 years and counting. They started as a small family business and Illinois and have grown to become the leading Internet grocery delivery service nationwide. When you subscribe to the service, you’re able to obtain groceries to your door as well as other goods. That would vary depending on your area.

WADE WINGLER:  How does it work?  You go to, sign up for an account, give them your credit card number, and start ordering stuff?  Is it that simple?  That’s why I would hope it would be.

LAURA MEDCALF:  Exactly. It is that simple. That’s what’s amazing about it.

WADE WINGLER:  I assume they offer a can of soup or some fresh fruit or vegetables, those kinds of things. You said more than food, right?

LAURA MEDCALF:  You can get produce, meat, your groceries, and even things for your pet, health and beauty products. Anything you could possibly need.

WADE WINGLER:  Anything you would find at a grocery store you can get delivered. That’s interesting. What is the pricing?  Is it more expensive, less expensive, the same?

LAURA MEDCALF:  I believe it’s a subscription service. For each delivery, I think you have to have a minimum of $60 of purchases, which is pretty average for your weekly groceries.

WADE WINGLER:  Unless you are a family of five where we eat lots more than that. That makes sense. The next service you had was Instacart. Tell me about that and maybe compare, contrast with Peapod

LAURA MEDCALF: Instacart is one of the more recent groceries delivery services. I covered the service in May on accessibility minute. Even since May it has expanded a lot. It’s my understanding that with Instacart, you are paired with a personal shopper. That person is someone in your area who will go to a store, whichever one you select, and get your goods. I think they can get it to you as soon as an hour. You can schedule up to six days in advance. Depending on your area, when I selected Indianapolis, there are whole foods available, Costco, and Petco. The goods are very obviously.

WADE WINGLER:  With Instacart, they are going to go to whatever stores are in your area. They are to the store, just doing the courier service only, right?


WADE WINGLER:  Do they charge by the hour, by the trip. Is that a substitution as well?

LAURA MEDCALF:  I know it’s a minimum $10 order. With Instacart it’s $100 per year for the membership, and delivery fees vary depending on the times and availability.

WADE WINGLER:  They are six dollars or so for the delivery fee?

LAURA MEDCALF:  They range from there.

WADE WINGLER:  Green Bean, was going on with that?

LAURA MEDCALF: Green Bean is a grocery delivery service available only in the Midwestern states such as Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. They work solely with local suppliers and farmers, so the inventory and supplies are available to whatever they are able to produce. I love their products include fresh, organic produce and whatever is in season with the local supplier.

WADE WINGLER:  Is that a subscription as well or do you pay by the order?

LAURA MEDCALF:  I think they have two different subscription options. I think there are $35 and $50. It depends on how frequently you want them delivered and how much you purchased at the time.

WADE WINGLER:  It’s a way to get fresh veggies so you aren’t dealing with shelf macaroni and cheese boxes and that kind of stuff. You had Amazon Prime Now. I know about Amazon prime because I have that in order stuff, TV connectors and we are things I need from Amazon. I don’t know about Amazon Prime Now. Tell me about that.

LAURA MEDCALF:  With Amazon Prime you get several benefits like two day shipping. I think Amazon Prime Now is a more recent launch. It allows individuals to get their goods in as little as an hour to two hours. At most it’s two hours. The one hour option is not available in all service areas. They are quickly expanding that option. If you do the one hour, that it be eight dollars extra whereas the two hour is free with Amazon prime membership. That’s my understanding.

WADE WINGLER:  It depends on how close you live to one of their distribution centers and whether the item is in stock.

LAURA MEDCALF:  A lot of major cities have it. I think I counted over 26 cities, Indianapolis included. One of my friends forgot their headphones, and they really needed them for work that day, so they got him to their work in an hour or so. It was very convenient.

WADE WINGLER:  These for delivery services—we live in the Indianapolis area. How many of them are available here?

LAURA MEDCALF:  All of the services are available in Indianapolis.

WADE WINGLER:  We are not a huge city. We are not Chicago, LA. We are sort of a second-tier city so that’s impressive. What other kinds of service delivery options are available and helpful to folks with disabilities?  We talked with these for grocery services, but I know this is catching on and becoming a thing in more markets. I think drugstores and stuff might do that. What other kinds of delivery services are out there?

LAURA MEDCALF:  As I said earlier, a lot of businesses are able to utilize Uber drivers to deliver products to customers. With that addition, I think the sky is the limit. I know Walmart has recently paired with Uber. In select markets you are able to get a lot of goods delivered.

WADE WINGLER:  You call Uber, and Uber driver goes to Walmart?  That’s amazing. I know there are also some curbside pickup services. My wife has been experimenting with one from Kroger called click list. Tell me about those and how they work.

LAURA MEDCALF:  The first one I read about was CVS Express, which is a free service that allows you to get and store products delivered directly to your door. You’ll simply go to the app or order online, pull up, and they’ll loaded up for you in your car. The Kroger click list launched shortly after. It allows you to order online and they deliver the groceries to her vehicle as well. Before Kroger, I think you had to give a couple days notice. Now they are offering same day delivery which is very helpful.

WADE WINGLER:  Have you used any of those services?

LAURA MEDCALF:  I haven’t but a couple of my friends in a similar situation have definitely used click list and love it. I think they use it weekly now.

WADE WINGLER:  That’s awesome. My wife used it a couple of times but I don’t think she settled into a pattern with it yet. Here’s my question. I’m a child of the 70s, so I was born many moons ago. Is this really new?  I remember the Schwan man. My granddad was the Schwan man junkie. He wanted ice cream and frozen pizzas delivered. I remember that happening in the 70s and 80s. There is always the classic metaphor of the milkman breaking milk every few days to your house. I even remember my granddad having these yellow cans of potato chips showing up on his porch every once in a while. They were called Charles chips. People collect the tins they came in and are a big deal. Is this new?  If not, why is this taking off again?  What’s going on?

LAURA MEDCALF:  I’m not really sure. I remember my dad always using the Schwan delivery service when I was growing up because he was a single parent running his own business. He would have them delivered to his business. The commune is an idea of it has been around. I think since we always look for instant results now. Everything is starting to grow from that.

WADE WINGLER:  I have to assume that technology is a piece of that as well because the ordering on an app or website and using your smartphone, have instant access to communicate what you want to buy and send your credit card number, has to be a part of that as well. If you were to think about delivery services, whether they bring it to you or you pick it up at the corner store or whatever, what kind of product do you wish were available for delivery?  What’s in your wish list?

LAURA MEDCALF:  I really love going to hardware stores. I love their items. Living in a house, you need a lot of maintenance supplies. Receiving those supplies quickly and easily without having to go out. That would be a life changer.

WADE WINGLER:  Wouldn’t it be great if you could take a picture of the broken thing in your house and say I need one of those.

LAURA MEDCALF:  Also a big thing for me is food, not just groceries but having prepared food. Sometimes I get home and I’m not even—I don’t have the energy to cook. I’ve noticed a lot of restaurants are starting to implement delivery services. I know Panera recently launched a delivery service in certain areas. I really hope to see the growth of those delivery services because I think that would really help a lot of individuals like myself.

WADE WINGLER:  I think the convergence of technology and the fact that our business models are changing a little bit, I think we are going to see more of the stuff. We will count on you to update us to your blog from time to time, let us know other services you know about and how the world is changing in this way. For people who haven’t become a Laura Medcalf junkie and read your blog post yet, how would folks reach out to you?  How would they find your blog?  And if they want to listen to accessibility minute, how would they find that?

LAURA MEDCALF:  The best way to reach me is to visit, and the accessibility minute podcast is available on iTunes and Google play.

WADE WINGLER:  And stitcher and tune in. We’ve been putting it on all kinds of places. Pretty much anywhere you find a podcast.

LAURA MEDCALF:  We’re so fancy.

WADE WINGLER:  You have to go to the audience. Laura Medcalf is our social media content specialist, dear friend of mine, and someone who has been exploring the idea of food and other kinds of delivery services. Thank you for making the long journey from your desk just a few steps away over here in the studio.

LAURA MEDCALF:  You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.

WADE WINGLER:  Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Looking for a transcript or show notes from today’s show? Head on over to Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more shows like this plus much more over at That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana.

***Transcript provided by TJ Cortopassi.  For transcription requests and inquiries, contact***