Panel – Brian Norton, Belva Smith, Josh Anderson, Wade Wingler Q1 Accessibility of the new Blackberry phone Q2 Zoomtext vs Magic Q3 Local AT funding Q4 AT for reading student worksheets aloud Q5 JAWS language support Q6 Antivirus Q7 Which laptop for a student
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WADE WINGLER: Welcome to ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions with your host Brian Norton, Director of Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads. This is a show in which we address your questions about assistive technology, the hardware, software, tools and gadgets that help people with disabilities lead more independent and fulfilling lives. Have a question you’d like answered on our show? Send a tweet with the hashtag #ATFAQ, call our listener line at 317-721-7124, or send us an email at email@example.com. The world of assistive technology has questions, and we have answers. And now here’s your host, Brian Norton.
BRIAN NORTON: Hello and welcome to ATFAQ episode 49. My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of this show. Today I’m so happy to be in the studio with a few of my colleagues where we can get into the questions that you sent in. Before we do, I want to go around and introduce folks. Today we have Belva Smith. Belva is the team lead on our vision and sensory team here at Easter Seals crossroads. Belva, you want to say hey?
BELVA SMITH: Hi, everybody. Hi, Brian. Hi, Wade. Hi, Josh.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent. Next we have Josh. Josh is the manager of clinical assistive technology here at Easter Seals crossroads.
JOSH ANDERSON: Welcome everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: And also Wade Wingler. Wade is the VP of IT/AT here at Easter Seals Crossroads but also the host of the popular —
WADE WINGLER: I like when you do it the other way, AT/IT, because then it spells At It.
BRIAN NORTON: Is also the popular host of assistive technology update, one of our other podcast.
WADE WINGLER: Hello everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: Before we jump into questions, I would shout out to the folks that are new listeners here, telling you a little bit about the show works. First of all, we receive feedback and come across various assistive technology related questions throughout the week. We compile all of that stuff and have a show. It’s a question and answer show. If you have questions or feedback—
WADE WINGLER: Or answers.
BRIAN NORTON: Or anything. If you have anything you want to say about the show, you can get a hold of us in a variety of different ways. The first one is the listener line, 317-721-7124. You can also send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. We monitor all of those different methods of getting in touch with us and compile it back into a show.
Also if you want to be able to tell your friend about how to find the show, you can find us in a whole bunch of different places. ITunes, our website which is ATFAQshow.com. You can find us on stitcher, Google play store, many places to find us. Send them to one of those places and they can then also download the show as well.
Before we move on, we did get some feedback this past week from a previous question from our previous show. We’re going to go and play those for you.
SPEAKER: I’m a listener from Jamaica and I’m responding to a query on ATFAQ. You are asking about a product that does OCR and also allows you to fill in information. I would like to suggest that the person could try Office Lens. I have tried it. It’s an app available on iOS as well on Android. It does OCR. I am totally blind so I can’t see in terms of the image or document that it presents, but I’ve heard it does a good job of representing the original document. Eight is a good one to try. It is free from Microsoft.
BRIAN NORTON: I had the opportunity to try out Office Lens, and we just did a tech tip this previous week that will probably be coming out here in the next couple of weeks about it. It does a very nice job of doing OCR and scanning directly into certain apps, so you can send it directly into a PowerPoint slideshow or into a Word document, or one know if you’re capturing as a note. It is a really nice job unless you deal with it within those native applications. Office lens is really simple and easy to use and does a great job much like the ones we were talking about in our previous show.
WADE WINGLER: I think we should have more callers from Jamaica because we love to hear the international flavor. That was great.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next one is feedback about the exact same question and talking about another app.
SPEAKER: This is Mary. I’m an assistive technology consultant for bullet county public school near Louisville Kentucky. This morning I was listening to what I think is your latest ATFAQ program. There was a question from a woman named Carol, she was looking for in app for the iPad that would read to her, do OCR function, and also be editable. You said some of my favorite apps, but I was thinking of another one that might be for her. It’s all App Writer for iPad. Is a full-featured writing app and will do speech to text and text to speech after using the microphone on the keyboard. You also have access to the dyslexic font in that keyboard. We are using it all the time with students who cannot read their worksheets and need something to read the worksheet for them and also allow them to type into it. With app writer, what we do is pull up the OCR function. We snap a picture of the worksheet. That it performs the OCR, starts reading the text to them, and then they can tap wherever they want to edit and when they are all finished they can have their answers read back to them so they can make sure they wrote what they meant to. When they are finished, they can email that back to their teacher. We are using that one a lot. They may not be exactly what Carol was looking for but it was another option I thought of. It’s a little pricey for some people when they are thinking of app cost. I think the last time I checked it was $39.99. Anyway, there’s another thought for you. Thank you for all of the wonderful information. I listen to you every week.
BRIAN NORTON: Thank you for sending us your information. I have not personally used app writer. Anybody else in the studio?
WADE WINGLER: I have not.
SPEAKER: I have not.
BRIAN NORTON: It seems like an interesting app. It is $39.99. I just checked the price again to make sure it stayed the same. Prices fluctuate a little bit specifically with the assistive technology apps that are out there. It is $39.99. It looks like it gives you quite a few writing tools and to text tools, things like word prediction and some other nice tools to be able to complete some writing assignments. Very good suggestion and information and certainly glad we can pass that along to the folks who are listening.
JOSH ANDERSON: It looks like on their website you can also request a 30 day trial. If it is something you would be interested in, that will be nice to try out.
BRIAN NORTON: Absolutely. You download it as a free version to your iPad?
JOSH ANDERSON: That which is looking for it online so I don’t know if that’s for the computer version or not. Yet to fill out some information about name, email address, organization, and request a 30 day trial. It doesn’t give a lot more information on it there. It might be something to try out especially if it would help out a lot of consumers.
BRIAN NORTON: Absolutely. I’ll take it upon myself to take a deeper look at that between now and our next show. Maybe I can give you an update on what I learned.
WADE WINGLER: That was some awesome feedback. I like that. How do we get more people to do that?
BRIAN NORTON: We need all of our listeners to chime in and talk to us. You can do that in a variety of ways, by calling our listener line at 317-721-7124. You can give us an email email@example.com, or send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. That gives our listeners a well-rounded answer for information about the questions they have. I love when people chime in because we can talk less.
BELVA SMITH: Especially when they chime in about something that have experienced and know works. You can’t get any better information than that.
BRIAN NORTON: To be honest, we sat on the learning side of the table most often as well. We are learning about things and need to know more as well. Anything that you add in, that so helpful for us as well. Thank you so much.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is a voicemail that came in. Talking about the new blackberry phone and when it will be available, and will it feature a screen reader, and will it be accessible.
SPEAKER: My first question is if you have an idea of when the new blackberry phone will be available in the United States. Also will it have an earphone jack. I also want to know if it has talk over, if it is completely accessible. Thank you.
BRIAN NORTON: Blackberry did come out with a few new phones. I think in 2017 or 2016, it sounded like they were going to be releasing a few phones. I think the one she is referring to is the Blackberry Key One. It’s designated the last smartphone designed by blackberry. It runs android 7.1. I think the question centered on some of the accessibility features that will be available, it will have a screen reader like talkback or one of the other screen reading options. It’s running android 7.1 which I believe is Nougat. We don’t have the phones we haven’t been able to test anything out and don’t know specifically if it will work. Because it’s based on android, my assumption is that the android apps like talkback and some of the other built-in screen reading features will work because it’s based off of that platform. My gut feeling is the features will be in the phone.
BELVA SMITH: As far as when it will be available, I don’t think anybody really knows yet. I would say keep your eye out at Amazon. When it does become available, it will probably be one of the first folks that will have it. Best Buy will probably also be a local brick-and-mortar place that will carry it because they carry a lot of the blackberries. I’ve heard both that it will not have the earphone jack. I’m hearing that a lot of the phone folks are following Apple’s footsteps and getting rid of that.
BRIAN NORTON: Can we hit that just a second? I have the new iPhone and I’m not comfortable with a Bluetooth headset all the time. I don’t like it.
BELVA SMITH: Everybody is saying that. I’ve not heard one person go I’m so happy that I don’t have an earphone jack anymore.
WADE WINGLER: I’ve had the new iPhone for a while and I don’t care anymore. I got a pretty decent Bluetooth headset I use in the car for phone calls and things like that. About the Streambot Mini that plug into my auxiliary jack so I just turn it on when I get in the car and a Bluetooth connect to it. I’ve gotten the gaps filled for me so it doesn’t matter so much anymore.
BELVA SMITH: Does it ship with the adapter you need? You don’t have to go and buy something?
JOSH ANDERSON: And headset that will plug into the lightning cable as well. I just use that most of the time and can’t tell a difference except it doesn’t fall out as much as the regular headphone jack used too.
WADE WINGLER: The big challenge is if you’re plugging in those headphones, you can’t also charge your phone.
JOSH ANDERSON: But how often are you walking around with a pair of headphones on and charging your phone at the same time?
WADE WINGLER: Is that when I’m walking around, it’s when I’m in the car and trying to get my phone to play a podcast or audiobook and charge at the same time.
JOSH ANDERSON: I can see that.
WADE WINGLER: That’s where the stream bot mini. It was $12-$50, worked out for me. It does a pretty good job.
BELVA SMITH: When I’m in the car, that’s when I’m playing the podcast and also am charging. I have to make sure that I’ve got juice when I get to ever and going. Because I’m playing it to the car, it wouldn’t matter to me whether I got the earphone jack car right?
WADE WINGLER: You can only plug one thing into it so your either plugging the earphone jack or the charger. Or did I miss your question?
BELVA SMITH: I’m not plugging in anything because I listen to it. It’s connecting Bluetooth to the speakers in the car so it would not make a difference for me.
JOSH ANDERSON: A lot of cars have USB ports on them where you can charge and listen to it. It will make that much of a difference. Back to the blackberry phone, most of what I found says it will have a headphone jack. Until it comes out you won’t know. Some of the accessibility features might be different just given the way the keyboard is set up. Everything I have read, you can set up shortcut keys and things like that. If you hold down “B”, it will open up your browser. There might be some other accessibility features that might be different, more helpful. It may just have a big learning curve if you are you use to using androids talkback system.
BRIAN NORTON: It’ll be interesting to see them back in the game. They were the original. Everybody wanted a blackberry back in the day, and then we went to touch screens. Now they are coming back. I believe it’s a touch screen but it also has the keyboard for input which will be a nice option for folks who prefer that tactile feedback when you are actually pressing keys to do input on the phone.
BELVA SMITH: I think the big thing on the blackberry is the security. Aren’t they supposed to be more secure than any of the others?
WADE WINGLER: Back in the day, they were. There was enterprise-level security built right into the phone.
JOSH ANDERSON: From what I’ve read about the new one, it will run android but have that on top of it. It’ll have the blackberry stuff on top of the android operating system.
WADE WINGLER: Very interesting.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent.
BRIAN NORTON: Talking about that blackberry phone, if you guys have other information, maybe have something that we didn’t mention about that, feel free to give us a call and chime in. Our listener line is 317-721-7124. We are going to play another voicemail that we received.
SPEAKER: My name is Sherry. I’m calling with a question for the assistive technology people. I am a user of Zoom Text at home and at work I use Magic, both with screen reading capability. At home I’ve been considering purchasing a new computer and switching over to Magic at home. In anticipation of potentially moving to JAWS one day, I started considering all of my possibilities. One of them was maybe moving to a Mac. I was hoping that you would be willing to give the pros and cons for both the PC or Mac in regard to accessibility. Thank you and I appreciate the show.
BRIAN NORTON: The pros and cons when using accessibility, specifically for her, it is magnification and screen reading. Between PC and Mac.
JOSH ANDERSON: I would say the first question is, considering one is for work. Is her work going to switch over to Mac?
BELVA SMITH: Her consideration is for her personal use at home. My only concern with that is—because I am this person. I use Windows at work and I do a Mac with my personal stuff. I tried doing the Mac at work and I went back to Windows. My only concern is the you feel like you are going to be capable of going back and forth from Windows to Mac? If you feel like you are okay with doing that – and I am. I’ve gotten so used to it now, it really doesn’t make any difference to me. I think either one is a perfectly good solution or good option. Especially for your personal use at home, you don’t have to worry about being able to access specific third-party databases or applications or anything like that. I guess the first question I would say for you is to ask yourself what kind of things are you doing with your computer at home, in your personal time. Would all of those things be accessible completely for you using a Mac? Chances are they will be. Especially if you are currently doing them on a Windows PC using Zoom text, is what she using at home and magic at work.
One of the other things you didn’t mention in your message was the possibility of Fusion. I think currently maybe it’s not a good option, but in the very near future I expect major changes to come to that. Since you are in a situation where you’re using some magnification and some screen reading, that might be a good option to look at in the very near future.
Help me cut pros and cons of Windows and Mac.
BRIAN NORTON: Here’s where I might start with that. I think you need to understand the companies by nature. Microsoft is primarily a software company. They rely on hardware places to be able to develop the technology that their software runs on. They develop Windows, Microsoft Office, and that relies on all of these other entities to be able to create their computer, HP and Lenovo and these other computer manufacturers to be able to have that. Apple develops the software and hardware as well. You have two different types of companies. I think when using Windows, you have a lot more options in terms of hardware and software, so depending on what you’re doing with the computer. You mentioned it primarily for home use so maybe you’re just doing some basic stuff like email and Internet search and basic things. Know that with Windows you will have more choices. You’ll be able to choose from different types of RAM and processing speed and all that other stuff that you have, screen sizes and whatnot. With Apple you are pretty much limited to what Apple provides you. We only have certain types of builds that they give out in their computers.
You’re going to find that cost-wise and Apple Computer is much more expensive than a Windows computer. But then that argument gets muddy when you start doing comparison costs when talking about assistive technology, because you’re paying $2000 for a Mac but you are getting the accessibility software built in. It’s got voiceover built in. You won’t have to then do upgrades over the lifetime of the computer because it’ll get updated as the operating system gets updated. With Windows you are getting a less expensive computer but then you are having to pay for the actual accessibility software. I argue that the total cost of ownership averages out over time when he starting about repairs and configuration and software and assistive technology and all that kind of stuff.
BELVA SMITH: I would agree with you on that. Though the Mac is going to up front cost more, by the time you at a screen reader to Windows PC, you’re getting close to the same price. Unless you are buying a low-end computer. But then I think it’s important to point out that the key commands that you are probably already starting to use and learn to use will be very different on Mac than on Windows. That again is something you have to ask yourself. Do you want to be using two different sets of keystrokes, or do you want to use the same ones whether you are at home or at work.
JOSH ANDERSON: The way voiceover compares the computer compared to JAWS is very different. Both work very well. I’ve had folks be very successful with either one. With the voiceover, you have to do maybe a few more steps to be able to interact with things.
BELVA SMITH: I don’t think voiceover is as intuitive as Jaws. Maybe that’s because that’s what I’ve been doing for so long.
BRIAN NORTON: I would agree with that. I think the difference is, what you’ll find with JAWS on a Windows machine, you are moving around and JAWS is able to figure out where it is and where it needs to go next. On Mac you’re going to a particular control. You don’t just start interacting with something. You have to tell the computer every time you land on something, do you want to play with it or not or move on.
BELVA SMITH: Edit box is a good example. When you get an edit box with JAWS, it knows and will tell you that you are in an edit box. If you want to edit, you may need to go into forms mode or whatever. Most of the time it’ll do it on its own. On a Mac when you get into an edit box cut you get totally different feedback and a different way of interacting. I think that’s where you are going, Josh. I would say definitely don’t make the jump into a Mac without giving it a try. If you don’t have a friend that might have one that you can borrow or something, look for your local agency that has the assistive technology act so that hopefully they have one that you can borrow. For us here it would be in data, and we certainly do have MacBooks that can be borrowed so you can have an opportunity to try voiceover.
BRIAN NORTON: One thing I do love about apple is when you need that support and expertise, if you live close enough to a metropolitan area, there is typically an Apple store near you. To be able to walk through a door and sit down with someone who is a real person – not that the folks on the phone aren’t real—but you can sit down with someone and explain your issue and have them help you fix that issue for free. I don’t believe it costs anything anymore if you do that. You just have to schedule an appointment with someone and can’t show up at that particular time, and they will sit you down at the Genius Bar and talk about the issue and help you through those problems that you might have.
Whereas oftentimes because Microsoft is a software company, and all of the other hardware is done by other companies, tech support can be difficult to hash through because there are different folks involved in that process.
BELVA SMITH: I’m going to throw this at you.
BRIAN NORTON: Don’t throw it at me.
BELVA SMITH: When my mouse on my Mac at home quit working, and I called tech support, the guy was totally thrown for a loop. “I don’t know. Without the mouse, you can’t click on anything. I’m not sure.” While he was gone trying to figure it out, I finally figured out the right commands to do what I needed to do without being able to use the mouse. When he came back, he was coming back to tell me that he still hadn’t got the answers. It was okay because I had figured it out. If I had been using a Windows PC and having the same issue, I would’ve been able to call freedom scientific to get tech support for the screen reader. They would’ve been able to immediately tell me what I needed to do with the keyboard to do what I was trying to do. Though I think Apple’s tech support is amazing—in fact, our school for the blind here takes their kids to the Apple Store for voiceover training. If you’re close to an Apple store and schedule an appointment and go in, they will work with you one-on-one and help you become a better user with the program. I think the tech support is there either way.
WADE WINGLER: I think one thing important to remember in the situation is figure out what your friends and neighbors and local support looks like. If you really want a Mac but have five best friends were all using Windows and that’s who you’re going to be hanging out with, it’s worth thinking about who the people around you are who are using technology. That’s where you get a lot of your support, is from the casual conversation with people. Figure out what your friends are using because that counts.
BELVA SMITH: Ask yourself if you want to know two sets of keystrokes or do you want to know one. I think that’s the important question.
BRIAN NORTON: I will throw into our show notes as we go on to our next question, there was a great blog about the pros and cons of Mac accessibility and the perspectives that folks have from the company AppleVis. They had a really nice blog that walks you down through the pros and cons with regard to Mac. I’ll throw that link to that blog post in our show notes so you can check that out.
BELVA SMITH: I’ll throw this in. I guess this depends on what stuff you’re doing with your PC at home. You might want to also check out a chrome book. It too will come with the built in Google voice. It’s fully accessible, very reasonably priced, and pretty safe when it comes to computing as far as worrying about viruses and stuff like that. That might also be another option.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent.
BRIAN NORTON: Don’t forget, if you have a question that you would like to send in. We’ve had a sampling of a few questions today. If you have a few that you wanted her out to us not you’ve had a few that we have answered. You can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our next question came through us to email. Where can I find local resources in my area for home modifications and other assistive technology services and funding? I think this is a quick answer for me. Depending on where I am, if I’m in the United States or any one of the territories of the United States, there is an easy place to go. You can come to our website. We have a link set up to a resource where it list every state assistive technology act. The web address is www.eastersealstech.com/states. You will find the assistive technology act information for every state and territory. It’s always a great place to start because they should be tuned in to all of the assistive technology resources in your location. Here in the United States and our territories, there is a great place to start. They should be able to help direct you to the folks and services you need within that realm.
As far as internationally, I don’t know where other folks might go. Does anybody have information on that?
BELVA SMITH: We all look at Wade.
WADE WINGLER: Here in the United States we do have the AT act projects. It is their job to know what is happening in the world of assistive technology in each of the states and territories. Once you get outside of that, I don’t think there is an equivalent. I guess I would look at ATIA, the assistive technology industry Association. There are lots of international developers of AT who belong to that. You are then looking at product lines for the distributors of certain kinds of assistive technology in that area. I don’t have a great answer to that.
BRIAN NORTON: As I was looking at our state resources and being able to direct folks to our website for that particular question, I wasn’t quite sure for what to do for our international listening audience.
BELVA SMITH: Can’t they Google that?
WADE WINGLER: Of course they can Google it. That might be a good question for folks in our international audience. We attract listeners from 160 countries on the show. Trouble he somewhere knows the answer to that. If someone is smart in the area of the world and knows how to find assistive technology resources other than googling it, let us know. Call our listener line or shoot us an email and let us know if you are aware of some resources.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question was also the email. The question is what are the best, easiest, and cheapest ways to get hard copy of the worksheet onto a computer and have it read to a student. I did a little digging on that. There are a couple right out of the gate. Depending on the platform you use, I broke it up into—I know you mentioned getting it on to the computer. Is on the computer to the web, through chrome, Google Docs. It is simply on the computer itself, maybe in Word or another software program. I also wanted to take a look at apps as well because I know apps are pretty useful. A lot of times when you get it on a mobile device, you can send it to your computer in some way, shape, or form. I broke it up into those three areas.\
The first thing, for chrome extensions, to easy ones. Snapverter and Snap and Read are two Chrome extensions that you can download within your browser that allow you to capture text and have it read to you right there. Snapverter is a Text Help product and Snap and Read as a Don Johnston product. I know both had pretty good reviews from what I’ve read as far as being able to do that as an extension in your browser.
JOSH ANDERSON: Would those work if you open up a PDF on the web browser?
BRIAN NORTON: Yes.
JOSH ANDERSON: Just with him saying hard copy and getting it on to the computer, it makes me think I have a physical worksheet and the need to get it.
BRIAN NORTON: With software, I believe there are several options as well. It mentions the best, easiest, and cheapest. Sometimes the cheapest is in the best or easiest. Some of the programs we use that are more expensive, Kurzweil is obviously one of the ones I think is an industry leader. Kurzweil 3000 specifically. Text Help’s version of Read and Writer Gold is less extensive than Kurzweil but is a pretty good job of taking documents and scanning them into the computer. Probably the least expensive one I’ve had exposure to, the first thing is you need a scanner that will scan a document. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can simply scan a document with the built-in software for a scanner. Once it’s on the computer, you can use natural reader which is a free download. Then you can have the text read with it. I believe they have a paid version of natural reader for $100 that will integrate into the scanner and connect that together. You don’t have to. You can use the free version for a computer program that would detect speech want to get the document onto the computer.
BELVA SMITH: If you got access to a scanner, hopefully you have the option to scan into the computer into a text format. If you do, then you could use a free screen reader like Essay to Go as well as read the information they enter into it. You could also you NVDA. Both of those are free. That would be a free option for reading it. Those are only going to work if you can scan it into the computer in a text format. If it scanning it as a JPEG, it will not be able to. Also, I think people tend to forget about the PDF read aloud that’s built into Adobe. I think people tend to forget about that being in there because—
BRIAN NORTON: That’s very useful. Stuff that is very useful and often overlooked. It’s built right into that software program and will read what they put in.
BRIAN NORTON: Most scanners will scan to PDF.
BELVA SMITH: Exactly.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s definitely useful. I’ve had some clients use that particular option because it was free and easy and simple to use. It was built in. You don’t have to do anything special to make that work. I’ll throw out a couple of apps in addition to the software and exigent I threw out. A couple of apps would be Claro Scan Pen, is an interesting one, and Lecteo. They both acted very similar to each other where you simply snap a picture of a document and can simply tap on a word or highlight a sentence and it will start reading that instantly for you. It is a very fast, instant OCR for you to be able to then start reading information. Claro PDF is, in my opinion, one of the most Kurzweil-esque or Read and Write Godl-esque programs they might be able to get for an iPad or mobile device where it will allow you to access cloud storage sites like dropbox or box.net or you are one drive or iCloud and allow you to download to the device PDF files and have those things not only read to you but also annotate those documents as well. It’s super easy and fairly inexpensive. It’s about $10 for Claro PDF. Claro Scan Pen is about the same. I’m not sure what the price of Lecteo is.
WADE WINGLER: It’s $5 to $10.
BRIAN NORTON: The other one would be Snap Type if you are having kids needing to fill out forms. Snap Type is really useful as well. That allows you to take a picture of reform and you can instantly start typing on to that form and filling in blanks and putting interest on that forms.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question was also through email. This question is, what speech language is does John support? I’ll throw that out there.
JOSH ANDERSON: Quite a few.
BELVA SMITH: There are 30 different ones. There is one I know for sure that it doesn’t. Burmese?
BRIAN NORTON: There are a bunch of dialects within Burmese. There is Burmese but also many dialects.
BELVA SMITH: Didn’t I bring you in any situation where I was trying to get a screen reader that would do that?
JOSH ANDERSON: Yes, you did. I can’t remember because it wasn’t Burmese. It was a dialect out of there and I cannot remember.
BELVA SMITH: I can’t remember either. There are 30 or more languages that it will support.
JOSH ANDERSON: I think they are continually adding. You can download more and different speech engines.
BRIAN NORTON: It depends on your synthesizer, what you’re actually using for your synthesizer, to figure out exactly what is available for you. There are lots, 30 languages or so. I think the default one minute have all 30. Does it?
JOSH ANDERSON: I think it only has 12 or 13. I thought you had to download the other ones. I could be wrong.
BELVA SMITH: You might have to. You do with open book.
BRIAN NORTON: I did go to freedom scientific and got a link for the language is that it does support. We’ll put that in the show notes as well. You’re going to get a variety of different languages. If you’re looking for a very specific dialect or a sub language underneath, American English, British English, Castilian Spanish, all that stuff, you may have to work to find that a little bit. There are lots of options available for you.
BRIAN NORTON: The next question was also through email. A gentleman had called and asked for a recommendation on an antivirus program that he should use for his computer. I wanted to see if we could chime in. What do we use on our own computers, or what have you had experience with? It’s also something I want to ask our listeners to chime in. If you guys have experience with other antivirus programs, let us know what you use because I would be a good resource for folks to know about and be able to access. What do you use for antivirus?
BELVA SMITH: I’ve got a Mac at home so I run nothing.
BRIAN NORTON: Is that wise anymore?
BELVA SMITH: I don’t think it is but I haven’t made a decision. I’m doing nothing still. What I typically recommend to my consumers is the Microsoft Internet securities, simply because it is part of Windows now, it’s free, they do a pretty good job of keeping it up-to-date. But I think along with that, it’s really important to just say to everyone there is no antivirus program that can protect you 100 percent. You have to be a wise user and you have to be very cautious about clicking on things. I see this a lot with individuals that are using screen magnification. They don’t take the time to read the pop-up window in front of them and they just click the “okay” or “yes” or hit the enter button.
BRIAN NORTON: You’re supposed to read those?
BELVA SMITH: Yes.
BRIAN NORTON: Okay, just checking.
BELVA SMITH: If you don’t want to be hijacked, it’s a good idea to read those things. I also think it’s important to use some sort of a malwarebytes along with your antivirus program.
BRIAN NORTON: What does that do?
BELVA SMITH: It helps keep malware off. It helps keep phishing. A used to be the all you had to do was not open email attachments and not click on links. Now it’s everything that is out there and you have to be careful. Just know that the IRS nor Microsoft is never going to call you and ask you to pay money because your computer is spitting out errors or whatever. That’s a big thing that’s going around for years now. People are still getting zapped by it. I had a family friend two weeks ago was telling me about how Microsoft had called her and told her that her computer was having problems, and they could fix it. I was listening to her thinking, please tell me you didn’t. But she did. She paid him $500. She knows they fixed it because she could see that they came in and took control of her computer. She saw this big window pop up with these errors. Luckily she paid it with a card and was able to get the money back. However, that computer has been attacked now. I don’t know that I would ever feel safe fixing it. Without going any deeper into my rant about antivirus, just don’t think that having antivirus means you won’t get viruses.
BRIAN NORTON: When I think about assistive technology in particular, you have to be careful. I know on a lot of new computers, you get McAfee preinstalled or Norton antivirus.
BELVA SMITH: Remove them immediately.
BRIAN NORTON: I’m always hesitant when I’m using adaptive software to have one of these invasive antivirus software packages running that you can never quite get rid of. It’s always so integrated into the system that even when you think you deleted it and are going to put something different like Microsoft security essentials which seems to be a lighter version.
BELVA SMITH: Is not going to slow your computer down like those others. Norton antivirus, I can’t tell you how many people complain to me about, “My computer is running so slow. I can’t get it to do anything.” What that’s always circle back to most of the time? It’s that antivirus program. Just because the program cost a lot of money doesn’t mean that it’s any better than the free ones.
BRIAN NORTON: I have heard a lot of good things about Malwarebytes. I think that’s a great program that does a good job. From what I’ve heard, it deep cleans. It goes down to the root directories.
JOSH ANDERSON: It does a good job of getting in and finding it. There is a paid version that will run background scans and do everything on its own so you don’t have to manually do it. I’ve never known anyone to do that.
BELVA SMITH: For my screen reader users out there, the Microsoft Internet securities does work well with a screen reader. Often you will get some of the antivirus programs, the interface of that is not compatible with the screen reader.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s popping up Java windows at the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.
BELVA SMITH: Which are useless because you can’t see them.
BRIAN NORTON: That becomes a big challenge for folks. I think for myself, I do tend to use Microsoft security essentials. I use a Mac most of the time so I don’t have anything on there. I also try not to do anything that are going to put me at risk on my computer as well. I tried to keep clean that way.
JOSH ANDERSON: I use a Mac for work and I use the built in – I don’t know. Hopefully there is something that protects it.
WADE WINGLER: Security by obscurity.
BELVA SMITH: There is nothing.
JOSH ANDERSON: Who wants to take over a Mac? On my home computer, I do use aftermarket antivirus software. Esetnod 32.
BELVA SMITH: I really great things about that.
JOSH ANDERSON: It does a great job. You don’t even know it’s there. You have no idea it is running. If it does block something, it doesn’t really tell you until you open it up and say it did block something. It’s about $30 per year. I think I pay for it every two years and it ends up being about $60. A few years ago my laptop that I had used for classes at the time got ransomware castle basically pay us money or you’re never getting in again. I did everything I could to outsmart them and eventually got it off my computer by frying my hard drive to shreds. When I was finally able to save my data and put a new hard drive, I decided it was worth paying $30 per year. I’ve had no problems. Belva, you talked about McAfee, Norton does seem to slow everything down. As I said, besides it may be saying it might need updated here or there or you need to do this, it never bugs me. I never even know it’s there.
BELVA SMITH: I will say that “Nod 32” is very accessible with screen readers. GW micro used to swear by that one for the folks that were using window eyes. I used to love AVG, but they went crazy.
JOSH ANDERSON: It did. A used to be a good free software, but now it’s the same thing. It’s almost its own virus.
BRIAN NORTON: Antivirus is one of those things that if you never have a problem, you hate the fact that you pay for it every month or every year, but the minute you have something happen to you, it’s one of those things where Italy pays for itself and all that you paid for it because you will save so much time and energy and frustration. Interesting.
JOSH ANDERSON: I think it’s important to talk about, because we talked about it earlier in a meeting, installing Dragon with McAfee and [McAfee] blocks [Dragon] and doesn’t let some components of it even be installed. Especially with assistive technology, you have to watch what the antivirus software, because it might keep out key components that you don’t know get installed until something doesn’t work right.
BELVA SMITH: I think that you to be a bigger problem, or maybe it’s because of what was being used at the time. I do think that some of the antivirus programs used to find certain files that were associated with the assistive technology to be viruses and would want to remove them. But I haven’t seen that in a really long time. I don’t know if they’ve gotten better at recognizing it or what.
WADE WINGLER: I have a Mac and also run antivirus software. Belva, you talk about malware versus antivirus. Malware is a bigger term that describes Trojans and ransomware and all that stuff. Virus fits into that category of malware. Malware just means “bad software.” They do different things. And antivirus program would be very specific about targeting those malicious programs that self replicate and screw up your hard drive and those kinds of things. Malware is broader and does different things. I use Mac at work and at home. I am pretty much Mac all the time. I access some federal databases that require you to document that you have an antivirus software running on your computer, even if you’re using a Mac. Years ago I downloaded Avast security, and I’ve been using it ever since. I really like it. It does a good job. The thing that keeps me using it, in addition to the fact that I have to, to access some of these federal databases, is that you find stuff on my Mac. A couple times a month I will get an alert that an email attachment that came in and some website is trying to do some bad thing to me. Avast is free and does malware and specific antivirus stuff. I’ve been happy.
BELVA SMITH: I’m going home to put that on my Mac.
WADE WINGLER: I paid for the Avast VPN software, because like you guys I spend a lot of time connected to Wi-Fi networks in the world, coffee shops and restaurants. Since becoming the security officer cut that part of my job to be more paranoid about those things. I run the Avast VPN that cost a few dollars a year. What it does is put a layer of security between me and the Wi-Fi whenever I’m using it. It works pretty well so I’ve been pretty happy with Avast VPN.
BRIAN NORTON: I’ve been using a Mac for so long. I’ve not had any security. I may look at that.
WADE WINGLER: It doesn’t get in the way. I’ve been very happy with it.
BRIAN NORTON: Don’t forget, if you guys have a question, please let us know. You can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ or give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124.
Our next question is the wildcard question. That’s where we throw the microphone over to Wade and he asks us a question we haven’t had any time to prepare for.
WADE WINGLER: And now it’s time for the wildcard question.
The wildcard question today is interesting because I didn’t realize we would have a question earlier in the lineup that sounds like the question that I had in mind. This is an specifically and assistive technology question, but I’m going to put a little bit of an assistive technology’s been on it. I had a very dear friend text me in the last couple of days and said my wife is going to college and we need to invest in a computer for her. We need to keep the cost down because we don’t have a ton of money but also want to make sure that when we make this investment, we are making one that will make her through college. And we are not going to buy junk. We want to get the best bang for our buck. He said we’re looking at the following computers: a MacBook air, a MacBook Pro, or a Surface Pro 4. He wanted to know what my recommendation would be for his wife who doesn’t use assistive technology per se but is going to be a college student. The wildcard is, between a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or Surface Pro 4, what would you recommend for a college student? With that change if you knew that they had some assistive technology needs?
JOSH ANDERSON: I would start and say it depends on where they are going to schools. Some systems don’t work as well with a Mac. Some programs you have to have a Mac. I would say that the very first thing to look at, would be to make sure you are going to be completely compatible with the online systems, blackboard, canvas, the other ones schools use these days.
WADE WINGLER: That’s the piece of advice I gave them. The thing I struggled with is how do you find out. Who do you call to figure out what should they get for compatibility reasons.
JOSH ANDERSON: A lot of times they have IT departments. They might call it their technology department, but usually you can find that. Another thing I would look at is to see what is available for free. A lot of places you can get Microsoft Office for free, but can you get office for Mac for free as well? Just double checking and making sure those are available as well. After that it would be what kind of features do you want. Their service has the touchscreen. Do you need the touchscreen? Are you ever going to use the touchscreen? If not then you are paying a lot of money for something that would ever get used. And in connections. I know with a Mac that is one thing I had to get used too. Luckily I still have a Pro so it has tons of ports and connectors. Whenever you get into a MacBook air, you can pretty much plug it in. Can you do anything else with it? Yet have a different dongle to connect it to anything else. Yet look at all those things.
BRIAN NORTON: I would gauge her experience with both. Does she have any kind of Mac experience? Does she have Windows? What has she been using most recently? There is a learning curve that’s going to have to be put in place if she’s going to move to Mac and has never used one before. It’s a learning curve. I’ve fallen in love with my Mac. I love everything about it. I love many of the product of the things I can use. It’s very intuitive for me to use now. I would say there were about six months when I had a huge problem of remembering the right keystrokes and navigating and getting comfortable. You don’t want to jump in to school and not only do well in classes but also learn a whole new computing system.
WADE WINGLER: I remember when you made that change. You are grouchy.
BRIAN NORTON: I was. It’s just not the way it was supposed to be.
JOSH ANDERSON: What is a command key?
BRIAN NORTON: Every once in a while I had to go back to a Windows computer, and I struggle going back to Windows. I sit and hit the same keystroke six times. It’s because it’s the wrong one.
BELVA SMITH: That’s what I was saying to the caller earlier about do you really want to know two sets of keystrokes. I guess my answer to your question would be, number one, if they were going to be using adaptive technology, I would probably go the Windows route just because of the availability of the adaptive technology that is available for the PC versus Mac. The next thing would be where is her experience. She a more experienced Windows user or Mac user. And then when you sign up for your classes, doesn’t it tell you if you need to have Mac access or Windows access? I have had students that have signed up for classes that have gotten a Windows PC and they have to have a Mac.
WADE WINGLER: Based on Josh’s response earlier about call the IT department, I think you had to dig deeper. Within the program at certain universities, maybe the graphic design program for the education school uses Mac only while the rest of the college is using Windows. Sometimes when you’re setting up for a class and are two semesters in, and that individual classes you have to use a particular program— when I was in business school, there is a program that required you to use a certain project management program that was only available on Windows. It was for that one class and you had to figure it out at that time.
BELVA SMITH: In that case you need to look for your lending library. That’s a tough question but I think that’s what I would do, is start first with the experience and second what are the classes and she had to have.
JOSH ANDERSON: Once you are sure that everything will work, go to Best Buy or something where they have anything set up so you can sit there and spend a couple of hours and play with them. Which one is more comfortable. Which one can be more easily carry around. Then you can start looking at weight and portability and those factors for what you will get the most use out of.
BELVA SMITH: They didn’t mention Google Chrome books at all, but I know a lot of schools are starting to use those. Because the cost or expense to own one is so little, security is so well, that may be another option to consider. Even if you do have to replace it in two years, you still probably haven’t spent what you would have spent on one MacBook.
WADE WINGLER: Another thing that came to mind as we were talking about the compatibility part of that response is if you buy a Mac and need to run Windows software, you can emulate. You can dual boot or put parallels. It doesn’t work the other way. You can’t get Windows to behave and run Mac software. If you are concerned about those compatibility issues, that might be something to think about.
JOSH ANDERSON: Unless they are set on the Surface, there are a lot of Windows laptop that you can get for less that will have a lot of the same features, maybe more RAM, more memory, more space on them. If you don’t need that touchscreen component, there might be some different ones you can look at.
BELVA SMITH: I do think it is important to remember the jacks. Ask yourself, what are you possibly going to need to connect and will you be able to?
JOSH ANDERSON: A lot of times you will need that thumb drive to put your presentation on. That’s another thing to think about, compatibility. If you are doing a presentation for a class, you might have to do it on the professor’s Windows computer. Make sure you’re not doing it in keynote on your Mac that doesn’t translate over, so you lose points because your formatting gets messed up when you change it over.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s excellent. I think that’s a wrap for today. Don’t forget, if you have any questions you want to send in or any information you want to send in response to some of the questions that we’ve gone today, there are a variety of ways to do that. You can call our listener line at 317-721-7124. You can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. Or email us at email@example.com. We certainly want your questions. In fact, without those we really don’t have a show. Be a part of it. We would love to hear from you. I want to thank everybody here in the studio. Belva, thanks for being here.
BELVA SMITH: Thanks.
BRIAN NORTON: Josh, thanks for being here too.
JOSH ANDERSON: Thanks everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: And Wade.
WADE WINGLER: Everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: Take care and we will talk to you in a couple of weeks.
WADE WINGLER: Information provided on Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions does not constitute a product endorsement. Our comments are not intended as recommendations, nor is our show evaluative in nature. Assistive Technology FAQ is hosted by Brian Norton; gets editorial support from Mark Stewart and Belva Smith; is produced by me, Wade Wingler; and receives support from Easter Seals Crossroads and the INDATA project. ATFAQ is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more of our shows at www.accessibilitychannel.com.
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