Panel – Brian Norton, Belva Smith, Josh Anderson, Wade Wingler | Q1 Why Todoist Q2 Voice commands on phone Q3 List of AT for college library students Q4 Durable headphones Q5 Intellikeys replacement Q6 Small grips for smart phone Q7 Dragon NaturallySpeaking Medical Q8 Roomba and Internet of things
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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 56. My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of the AT FAQ show. Today I’m in the city with a few of my friends and colleagues where we get into some of the questions you sent to us over the last couple of weeks. Before we do, I want to go around and introduce the folks that are on the panel with me today. We have Belva Smith.
BELVA SMITH: Hi everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: Belva is our vision team lead here at Easter Seals crossroads for our clinical AT program. I also have Josh Anderson, manager of clinical assistance technology.
JOSH ANDERSON: Hello everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: Also Wade Wingler. He’s popular host of Assistive Technology Update, one of our sister shows, and also running the soundboard and a little bit of a jack of all trades and occasionally has some useful information to share.
WADE WINGLER: Hello gadget campers. Brian, tell them about gadget camp.
BRIAN NORTON: Next week we are out of the building. None of us here are going to be here, at least not all week. We get to go ahead and hang out with 15 really cool kids who use augmentative communication devices to help them speak and interact with other folks.
WADE WINGLER: It’s something we do in central Indiana as a quite thing we do. We get to hang out all week learning about these kids who happen to use AugCom devices. We are looking forward to some time away from the office. We are not going to miss any shows here. We will stay on schedule but it will be a fun week.
BRIAN NORTON: What I most excited about, the switch adaptive squirt guns we have now.
BELVA SMITH: You said it’s kind of quiet. I don’t know how quiet camp is. It certainly is exciting.
WADE WINGLER: It’s a lot of fun. I guess we don’t talk loudly about the camp. The camp itself is pretty loud.
BRIAN NORTON: We have a fun time and can’t wait. That’s my favorite week of the whole year.
WADE WINGLER: And go fishing and have squirt gun fights and water balloon fights and flying kites, snow cones every day.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent. That’s a little bit about gadget camp. I want to let those folks who are new to the show to give you a little bit of information about what this show is all about. It’s a question and answer show. We set around in a panel, gather up various questions throughout the week, and we try to answer those as best we can.
We have a few ways for you to ask those questions. The first is a listener line, 317-721-7124. We have an email set up as well, tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. We also have a twitter hashtag, #ATFAQ. I have been beating the bushes the past several weeks looking for traffic on that hashtag.
WADE WINGLER: Look out. Brian has his Twitter stick.
BRIAN NORTON: If you have a question that you think of as you listen to today show, or if you simply may have some input into the questions we handle today, give us a call, send us an email. We cover all of that. We have a really active listener group and love to get the feedback and color in some of the questions and answers we get.
BRIAN NORTON: We do have one piece of feedback this week so we want to cover that first. I got an email from Tom. He mentioned that he enjoyed our show last week. We have three podcasts: assisted technology update, ATFAQ, and also accessibility minute. I’m not sure –
WADE WINGLER: We use the same listener line for all of them.
BRIAN NORTON: Maybe it was about AT update, maybe for us. Here’s his feedback. He says, “I was wondering what made you change to this app” – I think this was in reference to an AT update, the Todoist app that Wade mentioned on his show last week – “and do you know anything about Microsoft’s offering called ‘ToDo’?”‘ I’m not sure if that’s a different app. He was asking how it differs from the one you mentioned. He mentioned that he has an iPhone 7 Plus and is curious what were the bugs you ran into in using the iPhone that might be important for somebody using voiceover.
WADE WINGLER: I’m pretty sure this question is for assistive technology update but I will talk about it because I think it’s interesting. The show that I do, assistive technology update, features interviews and news items related to assistive technology. On episode 316 which was released on June 16, 2017 – you can find it at assistivetechnologyupdate.com – I did a full episode on the Todoist app. I talked a little bit about GTD, getting things done, and my methodology for how I try to wrangle the world of work I try to balance between my work here and things at church and family and home. I have use a number of task management over the years. I’ve not used the one from Microsoft that Tom has talked about, so I can’t speak to that one specifically. I have used one in the past called Workflowy and I’ve used one called Omnifocus. Quite frankly, most of these task management systems all do the same thing: they give you to do items that have different bells and whistles and different in terms of the elegance and interface with which you manage them. They all give you a way to make items to do and put them into categories and prioritize them and put reminders on them.
Workflowy was not robust enough for me. It’s more than just a to do app. I switched from Workflowy a few years ago to Omnifocus which is sort of the one with the most bells and whistles. It happens to be a Mac and iOS only application. I switched away from Omnifocus mostly because it had too many bells and whistles and was too cluttered. I realized I was spending more time playing with the bells and whistles and setting unimportant options as opposed to getting things done. A friend of mine introduced me to Todoist. It’s a “freemium”, so you can do the basic stuff on it for free or you can pay and get some extra features. It works across all platforms, iOS and android and the web and Amazon echo.
I chose that one because it was more simple, didn’t have all the bells and whistles, but the bells and whistles it didn’t have aren’t the ones I needed. At the beginning of that show, I did a disclaimer because Todoist, although I love it for lots of things and it works well for people who have all kinds of disabilities, it’s not great for screen reader users. I tested it on the web version, the Mac OS version, and iOS. Whenever I ran voiceover or a screen reader across it, the basic navigation was there, but the elements weren’t labeled very well. This is a made-up example. When I would navigate to the inbox, it would say some code or gobbledygook instead of saying inbox. As I would try to navigate the different elements on the screen, they are not labeled well behind the screen so that a screen reader user would have access to it. I think if they fixed that, I think it would be something I would recommend for a screen reader user. It’s pretty good.
I also use an iPhone 7 Plus, but this app, while it is great for lots of things, doesn’t work well with any screen reader that I threw at it.
BELVA SMITH: The good news is Microsoft To Do list is free. You can get it and try it and find out. I did see that it does work with Siri and Google Assistant.
BRIAN NORTON: Is it an app for Windows 10 and devices only? I don’t know if you can find it in iTunes.
BELVA SMITH: You can find it in iTunes. That’s where I went and looked at it, at the app store. It looks like it’s for Apple, android, Windows. I like free, especially when you are exploring.
BRIAN NORTON: Certainly something we will look at to familiarize ourselves with it.
WADE WINGLER: If you want to hear all the stuff I have to say about to do list – it’s a tool I use, and Brian, I think you are using it nowadays for your task management – go ahead check out episode number 316 of Assistive Technology Update.
BRIAN NORTON: Our first question is from Jennifer. She emailed us a question. She says, “I am just now switching to a smart phone and I’m having a hard time finding an app that can help with the touchscreen by allowing me to use voice commands. I’m wondering if you could recommend something that is easy to use. I have tried Google but it was hard to navigate. I also tried Dragon but it drains my battery too quick. If you could help, I would greatly appreciate it.”
BELVA SMITH: I would like to know if Jennifer is using an iPhone or if she’s using an Android.
BRIAN NORTON: I followed up with her. She bought an LG phone. There are certain models that come with Voice Mate, which is S Voice for Samsung and Siri for iPhone, it’s a comparable program to those from what I’ve heard and what I’ve read. The unfortunate part, it doesn’t come on all models of LG phones. It only comes on a certain model and the more expensive models. I talked to her about how to turn it on. You can find it. It turned out her phone didn’t have it. I turned her onto S Voice, and I think Samsung phones are a little bit less expensive than the iPhone would be through a lot of the cell phone providers. I have used S Voice. I had some success with it. It’s a good program. It does certainly allow you to do voice commands to make calls, answer calls can’t do different things on the phone. I’m not sure if it’s as comprehensive as what Siri is or what Google is, but it was pretty good.
BELVA SMITH: That’s probably her only option then.
BRIAN NORTON: I believe she ended up purchasing a Galaxy S5, which has that software on it. We are trying it out right now. I’m crossing my fingers that it will work for her. I would mention to folks, on the other thing that Jennifer was looking for was not that expensive. I think LG phones and Samsung phones, you can get subsidized by a lot of cell phone providers so the cost is lower. I also know they sell older versions of the iPhone. Siri has been on the iPhone for a long time. You can purchase an older version of an iPhone.
BELVA SMITH: You can get a free version of the iPhone from a lot of the service providers. You just need to check with them. If you sign a two-year contract, they will give you a free iPhone.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s usually about one back. If you wanted one right now, you could get the 6, maybe the 6S. as long as you don’t care who the carrier is, shop around a bit and you can find ones that have pretty good deals.
BELVA SMITH: I believe at one time Walmart was even offering the free, but it might have been the 5S. Shop around.
BRIAN NORTON: The one thing I don’t have a lot of experience with is the new Google phone. I don’t know how Google Assistant.
BELVA SMITH: Amazing, is what I’m hearing.
BRIAN NORTON: How that works on those phones, if you are able to make calendar appointments, save contacts, do the things that Siri does.
JOSH ANDERSON: If you could do contacts, that would be great. Siri doesn’t do contacts. It’s the one thing you cannot do.
BELVA SMITH: I’m hearing all good things about the Google phone. It’s pretty expensive.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s up there.
BELVA SMITH: I think it’s comparable to the iPhone.
JOSH ANDERSON: The last one that came out, I had a friend that had one that really liked it. Out of all the people I know, he was the one person who had one. Just wasn’t as popular.
BRIAN NORTON: What we are most familiar with here in our shop is the iPhone. We all have iPhones. We use Siri and are very familiar with what it can do. Some of these other things we’ve had experience with clients. I don’t have a whole lot of experience with the Google phones. I would encourage you, if you are listening and maybe have one, if you have any feedback for us on what you think of the voice commands options in the personal assistant that is on there, let us know if you have had success with that. It’s the one leave us a voicemail. We love to put our listener voices on the show.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s 317-721-7124.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is from Ron. This also came in through email. He’s been asked to compile a list of portable devices that students with disabilities can request and use in a university library system. All the current desktop computers will have JAWS, Kurzweil 3000, and ZoomText installed. He also put a list together of a lot of other technology that will be available such as potable handheld magnifiers, the Orcam reader, a talking graphing calculator, noise canceling headphones, alternative mice, different types of keyboards, you the recorders, and a lot more.
The specific questions he thought of and ask citizens on would be, they will have some Mac laptops available with Kurzweil 3000 for Mac and the built-in accessibility features. But he’s open to suggestions for what other software will be helpful on Mac OS. He also mentions that they will have some tablets, both android and iOS, with accessibility features enabled and with AT apps that is KNFB Reader, Kurzweil Firefly, Voice Dream reader and writer, and is open to other suggestions that folks might have about what else they might put on those tablets and the Mac computers.
BELVA SMITH: Looking his list over, the one thing I noticed, he started the list with a portable handheld CCTV. I always call them handheld portable magnifiers. To me a CCTV will have a bigger screen. I don’t see anywhere on his list a larger screen.
BRIAN NORTON: The stuff?
BELVA SMITH: Maybe not necessarily a desktop, but something like that. The one Humanware has that folds up?
JOSH ANDERSON: I forget the name of it. It’s like the Topaz PHD. It’s still portable but is a little bit larger than your handheld magnifiers.
BELVA SMITH: They are marketing that towards the students because it is so portable yet has a good size screen. In thinking about the kids that might need some larger print, I see the KNFB reader, and that’s great, but not necessarily perfect for the individual that needs a little bit larger of a screen. Maybe if they connect one of the tablets to a larger monitor, because you can read something that’s been captured with the KNFB visually as well. I would look at possibly getting some sort of a portable, 10 to 12 inch screen device.
BRIAN NORTON: I would also say along the lines of video magnifiers, ones that in include distance viewing since you are in the classroom environment.
BELVA SMITH: This one I am thinking of does.
JOSH ANDERSON: I just can’t remember the name. I can see it in my head right now but that’s not helping the folks on the podcast.
BELVA SMITH: We have one, Brian. You know which one I’m talking about?
BRIAN NORTON: Prodigy Connect 12?
BELVA SMITH: Yes, that’s it. It is distance and is collapsible so very easy to take with you.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s a mobile device. It’s a 12 inch, not an iPad, and android tablet. You get some of the functionality that the android tablet will provide as well. Great device.
What do you guys think about the apps for the Mac environment? App for tablets, android, iOS beyond what they mentioned?
JOSH ANDERSON: For the Mac environment, especially for a loader –
WADE WINGLER: The fact that it’s in a university library, a public workstation, changes it a little bit. I want to recommend text expander. That’s one of my favorite adaptive apps. It’s tied to an individual user. In the library, it’s not going to work.
JOSH ANDERSON: And it Dragon works great – the one on the Mac laptop is just fine. You have to train a user so much. If someone borrows it for a week and brings it back, the next person will have a hard time using it as well.
BELVA SMITH: Is this for borrowing or just in library?
WADE WINGLER: It sounds like a accessible workstation in the library.
JOSH ANDERSON: It says they can request to use it. With it saying portable, I can always think they can check it out maybe. One thing I see a lot of university doing – hopefully all will do soon – is not only do they have the stuff available, but they have a large user license. Maybe the first hundred people that request to have JAWS on their own laptop can have it for while they are enrolled in school. It’s a huge help for kids going to college.
WADE WINGLER: I’ve seen in university libraries before where, let’s say you are a CCTV user but yours is at home or you want to try a different one. You can go in, check it out, use it in the library for a while, check it out like a book and then turn it back in. Or maybe borrow it and take it back to your dorm. I’m not sure.
JOSH ANDERSON: And with tablets and different ones for it, they have some pretty good ones.
WADE WINGLER: The list is actually pretty good.
JOSH ANDERSON: Whatever university this is, they have a pretty good disability services office to have this much stuff there. Some of the other things I know I use a lot on tablets, iStudies, things to keep your lists, know where all your classes are. Again, those are going to be so specific to the person that I don’t know it’s going to be something you need. Note taking, audio note, those kinds of things. Again, those are for each end-user.
BELVA SMITH: Apps are developed so quickly and change so frequently that the best thing you can do is try to keep your apps updated, be open to adding new ones. Your users are probably going to be the ones that know which ones they like to use or work well for them. Check AppleVis and see what they are recommending. I would say with the apps, you’re going to keep those updated as they become available.
BRIAN NORTON: We’ve done a lot of public access workstations around here and different types of environments, libraries, WorkOne, the unemployment offices here in Indiana. We’ve always got at it with the will of 20 percent of the technology to meet 80 percent of the needs. You really can’t meet everybody’s specific need. Folks are going to come in with experience with a certain type of software that you might have available. Like a competing product to JAWS would be Window Eyes or NVDA.
WADE WINGLER: Not anymore.
BRIAN NORTON: JAWS is what you offer. It’s really hard to meet everybody’s needs. What I’ve also found, I think in public access workstations, the built in stuff, specifically voice input software, the magnifier options that are available for folks with visual impairments, they are not the greatest but are certainly good enough for basic accessibility. Especially if you’re operating system is up-to-date to Windows 10, you’re going to get a level of accessibility that is probably for general public okay, not the best, but probably okay for public access. Best way we’ve approached it at this point with a lot of our folks. The challenge with public access workstations and having specific software like JAWS, ZoomText, Kurzweil, is you’re going to have to continually update those to keep those working on the system. Usually there is money to purchase the stuff and no money to keep it going and keep updating and keep it current.
BELVA SMITH: Brian, as you said that, I also realize that there is no OCR program for Mac or Windows PC. They might want to consider adding Open Book —
JOSH ANDERSON: They do have Kurzweil 1000 on the laptop.
BELVA SMITH: I thought it said 3000. It does say 1000?
JOSH ANDERSON: On Mac, one I’ve used a lot and a lot less expensive is ABBYY FineReader.
BELVA SMITH: ABBYY FineReader is becoming very popular.
JOSH ANDERSON: It works great.
BELVA SMITH: Both Windows and Mac and is $199.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s a lot less expensive. Very easy to use, keystrokes to do everything. You can write straight from there, convert it straight to a Word document, and have it read to you, manipulate it.
BRIAN NORTON: Does ABBYY FineReader read it to you?
BELVA SMITH: Yes.
JOSH ANDERSON: Voiceover is usually what I’m using it with, but I’m pretty sure it’s the FineReader that’s doing the reading.
BELVA SMITH: I just did an evaluation for a young paralegal who is just getting started. He absolutely refused to even talk about Open Book or Kurzweil 1000 because he’s been using ABBYY FineReader. That’s what he wanted.
The one other thing I want to mention is, especially for the public access workstations like we are talking about, perhaps consider getting Fusion rather than JAWS and Zoom text.
BRIAN NORTON: The newest version.
BELVA SMITH: Correct, the newest version.
JOSH ANDERSON: Not the older version.
BELVA SMITH: That one program gives you full access to JAWS and ZoomText. You get to icons with that one program and you can choose to run JAWS or ZoomText. That’s something they might consider, unless they’ve already purchased. Maybe next time. In the long run, it’ll be cheaper.
BRIAN NORTON: What is the newest version?
BELVA SMITH: Eleven.
JOSH ANDERSON: ZoomText Fusion 11.
BRIAN NORTON: Don’t go back and get 10.1?
BELVA SMITH: Know.
BRIAN NORTON: What do you guys think of ZoomText for Mac?
BELVA SMITH: I’m not impressed with it.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s a little bit better than the built in Zoom that is a little bit better. I don’t think it adds a whole lot of features.
BRIAN NORTON: I’ve not played with it at all.
BELVA SMITH: Most Mac users I’ve worked with our perfectly happy with the built-in features versus adding. I think the trade-off that you get for adding ZoomText, because it does tend to slow things down a bit, is not worth it.
JOSH ANDERSON: Zoom on Mac works pretty well when you get to the larger sizes. It is a bit grainy. When you get that large, I think it’s probably time to start looking at using a screen reader anyway. You are only getting a few letters on the screen at a time.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s been pretty impressive to me over the few recent years, Windows 10 came out, Mac has been updating their software. For dictation on Mac, you get a window now for Mac commands to be able to navigate and do things. It’s context-sensitive from what I can tell. That used to not be there. Used to be a great tool to get quick dictation inside a document and you have to manipulate with the mouse and keyboard to get out and do other things. I’m pretty impressed with where the built-in accessibility is going. When you are thinking of general public, the ability to supported long-term, what really quantifies public access, what’s good enough, what’s reasonable for general public access. A lot of that built-in stuff has gone pretty good.
BELVA SMITH: I’m pretty curious, the question for Tom, on this list of University devices and software, I don’t see any Google chrome books. Because they come so fully accessible —
WADE WINGLER: That’s a good point. I’m seeing them everywhere.
JOSH ANDERSON: I’m seeing them mostly in high schools, not so much in the college environment. In fact, I think if you look at some school sites, they do recommend you get one. What should I get, a Mac, a laptop? They say you might not want to get a chrome book just for the amount of stuff you’re going to have to do.
WADE WINGLER: That’s interesting.
BELVA SMITH: They are not limited to the storage that they have. They are fully accessible and very secure.
JOSH ANDERSON: I don’t know if they don’t like Google Docs or what exactly the difference is. I’ve seen some of them recommend a Windows laptop with XYZ things.
WADE WINGLER: That’s interesting. I’m seeing more and more college using them, even in graduate courses I’m teaching. People are using chrome books as their primary computer. I had an assignment where I said use your Windows or Mac on screen keyboard and type a message to see what that’s like. They were like, I’m on a chrome book, what about that. Well, you can do it there too. Had people push back and say, no, we are using chrome books.
BELVA SMITH: And they are cheap.
BRIAN NORTON: Other than Mac, you can get a Windows laptop pretty cheap these days. That stuff has come way down.
Hopefully that gave you some suggestions. If there is other feedback, folks listening in who might have some suggestions, let us know. We would love to include those in our next show. You can send those to us over email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. Or through twitter and the hashtag ATFAQ.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is from Deanna. She sent us an email, she says, I have a veteran who has severe MS. He uses regular talk book machine, and someone helps them turn the machine on and get the book going. He has tremors in his hands and uses headphones as he is in a facility and has a roommate. When he takes the headphones off, he breaks them due to his tremors. Any thoughts or suggestions for this veteran with limited hand use and talking book headphones?
My understanding is he just shakes them and they break. You know sometimes the over the ear ones, they disconnect from the overall headset. That’s become a big problem for them.
Starting to answer this question, I think there are a lot of qualifiers that need to be made, like what type of headset: over the ear, mono-aural, binaural. There are lots of different types of headsets. Whatever that person might be comfortable with may dictate what type of headset would be useful for them specifically with the need to make them extremely durable.
WADE WINGLER: She’s talking about a talking book player. Does that have a regular eight inch auxiliary output?
JOSH ANDERSON: Yes.
WADE WINGLER: Something else they might want to consider is – I have one of these in my car – for $15 you can get an auxiliary to Bluetooth adapter. Mine is the Streambot Mini. It’s about the size of a book of matches and has a headphone jack sticking out of the side of it. Used to get in the auxiliary port and paired to any Bluetooth speaker so you can turn that auxiliary port into a wireless Bluetooth connection. You could pop one of those into the talking book player, connect it to any Bluetooth headphones, and get some pretty robust, strong wireless Bluetooth headphones or speaker. Once he made the bridge to Bluetooth, you can add whatever device you want. That may not be a bad solution to consider.
BRIAN NORTON: I’ve been impressed with the small and ear Bluetooth headsets. Have you seen those?
BELVA SMITH: That’s probably not going to be an option for him because he will be able to get it in the ear.
JOSH ANDERSON: Getting them out, holding them, and not breaking them still might be a challenge.
WADE WINGLER: Am I the only one thinking surgical implant Bluetooth?
JOSH ANDERSON: You always go back to that.
BELVA SMITH: I’m wondering, he’s probably not wearing hearing aids, but is he? If so, may be some sort of a Bluetooth connection might be a good option. Then I’m also trying to think, you know how we made the microphone on the snake thing – I’m trying to think if there is some way you could do that for a headset. Probably not because it has to open and close. Like you said Brian, this is one of those situations where you probably will only need to sit down with the individual and try a couple of different headset with them. Probably some bigger, durable headsets.
JOSH ANDERSON: A lot of the over the ear headphones have rubberized – I’m thinking of the ones we have here – rubberized tops. Even with the tremors, they would be able to hold up better. I’m picturing the old-school one that came with the Walkman back in the day with one piece of metal over it and are barely held on.
BELVA SMITH: And it’s all plastic.
BRIAN NORTON: I think of kids with autism who have those headsets that cut out ambient noise and background noise. Their sensitivity often causes them to be rough with equipment. There has to be some pretty durable headsets out there. I did find one. It’s the O’Neill Crash Virtually Indestructible Over-Ear Headphones.
BELVA SMITH: There you go.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s a Phillips head one. It’s chunky, a big headset, but perhaps in this situation it’s what he needs.
BELVA SMITH: How offensive was it?
JOSH ANDERSON: It was a little over $150. I’m betting one of the Skullcandy brand you might be able to find that could be durable enough.
WADE WINGLER: Another place to look for that is a website called School Outfitters, but it’s one of many websites that sell AV and computer lab equipment to schools like K-12. There is one here called the titanium series washable headphones that have a 3.5 millimeter action on it. These you can throw in the washing machine and they will survive. I would say if you look at the folks who were selling supplies to school computer labs, they will have some durable, indestructible headphones.
JOSH ANDERSON: On the other part of her Russian, what are your ideas for him to be able to turn on and off the machine himself. It seemed like it was asking that as well.
BRIAN NORTON: He currently has someone who is helping him do that. I’m not sure with those machines, is there an off on button?
BELVA SMITH: It’s a button on the side of the machine, if I recall. I know this might sound crazy, but perhaps a stylist. I find, especially using smartphones and tablets for folks that have just mild tremors now, for some reason when you put a stylist in their hand they seem to have better control than when they use their own fingers.
JOSH ANDERSON: Better targeting and things like that. I was going to say, I know the buttons on it are kind of big and clunky, but if you have tremors you might be trying to press it once and then not pushing it three times and turning it back off.
BRIAN NORTON: There is something we covered on the show a long time ago, the Microbot Push. It’s this little Bluetooth enabled button pusher that you can put on a device.
WADE WINGLER: I thought that was you, Brian. You are a Bluetooth enabled button pusher.
BELVA SMITH: You have to remember this device is not Bluetooth.
JOSH ANDERSON: And he has more than one button.
BRIAN NORTON: You would probably have to get multiple ones. If he’s just trying to turn it on and off and get it going, maybe two or three would work. You can use that in conjunction with another device, connecting it to another device to be able to – if it’s an iPhone or whatever, you can use a Bluetooth switch to interact with the other Bluetooth device.
BELVA SMITH: Another option with exploring would be an iPod touch with the NLS app. I know we have someone with tremors, why are we putting an iPod touch in their hand? But that might be easier for him to try to operate. He could use voice command to open the app, and then perhaps using the stylus it might be easier for him to touch those, or even an iPad mini if we need to go bigger.
WADE WINGLER: If you’re going to get to a device like that, you can connect a Bluetooth keyboard to it as well. A lot of the time the spacebar will pause and play and gives some bigger buttons, and easier way to access the controls on the app.
BRIAN NORTON: Those are some pretty good suggestions for that. I think turning it on and off is definitely probably harder than finding a durable headset. That’s a great question.
BRIAN NORTON: Again, don’t forget if you have any suggestions that we didn’t come up with here on the show for that last question about a durable headset or a way to turn on and off devices, specifically if you have difficulty pushing items with tremors or any other types of issues, let us know. We would love to hear from you. You can also send us a voicemail at 317-721-7124.
Our next was is from Lindsay. Her question is, are you aware of any iPhone accessories that make the grip smaller for someone who has either trouble gripping or physically small hands?
I put this question very specifically for your answers simply because I know you use a special case that allows you to hold onto that, no matter if you have small hands, big hands. You have a big iPhone 7 Plus.
WADE WINGLER: I do. I have been a big fan of the Loopy case for two or three years now. It’s like any other iPhone case and that you pop the phone in, but on the back it has this rubber loop. Everybody likes to wear these rubber bracelets to support their favorite charity. They started with the yellow Lance Armstrong bracelets. It’s made out of a very similar material as that. The nice thing is you put the phone in your hand and stick your finger or thumb or whatever finger you want through the loop on the back of the case. It makes it a lot harder to drop it. I got in my hand right now and I’m holding my phone. I even flipped the phone to the back of my hand. Because my fingers through that loop it doesn’t fall down. The case doesn’t protect the phone like an Otterbox or Lifeproof case or one of those things, but what it does is add that loop so it makes it a lot less likely that you will drop it.
BELVA SMITH: I found some things called the Pop Sockets.
BRIAN NORTON: Those are interesting. I see a lot of kids with those on their phones these days.
BELVA SMITH: They are pretty inexpensive. You can get them at target. It might be something you can go and try out. Bed Bath and Beyond has something that might be similar to what you have, Wade. It’s $7.99. It’s the Ghost Wrap. Basically it’s the same type of idea. You are just putting her finger in the back of it. I think if it were me, I would want the pop sockets. I think that’s going to give you – you can grip it. With a Wade, it slide around on your finger a little bit. With pop sockets, even with a small hand, you can still grip it and use your other hand to go ahead and dial and stuff like that.
BRIAN NORTON: Added the big difference is on Wade, you stick one finger through. On the pop sockets, you hold it like how you say hello in Vulcan. You stick your fingers around it which gives you the extra feel of grabbing onto something.
JOSH ANDERSON: What I’ve used with a few people, and you’ve probably seen them in a store, where they look like a three legged octopus. You hook it up to your phone and – it’s more for a tripod for taking pictures and stuff, but they are super flexible so you can move it and hold onto one or all three, wrap it around your hand if you need to. It gives you more stability. If you need to put it in your pocket, it’s going to be a pain because it makes it a lot larger. It is pretty easy to get your phone in an out of the device if you need one of those things. I’ve started using one of those tripods. One of those is the Grip Tight Gorilla Stand. I’ve started using those as holders for all kinds of different stuff. They run about $10-$25 depending on which kind you get. They are really useful for a lot of different things.
WADE WINGLER: I keep those in my briefcase for face time or Skype calls or zoom meetings and things like that, just so when I’m doing a video call on my phone, I put it in front of me and have my hands free.
BELVA SMITH: I think it’s important, the pop socket folds flat. It’s like a suction thing. You can pop it on and off. You can leave it on there, fold it flat, and keep it in your pocket or purse.
BRIAN NORTON: I think if you’re looking for a variety of those, if you look on the web iPhone holder or phone holder forehand, you will see lots of options for things that just help you better grip the phone.
BELVA SMITH: There’s also the strap that you can use. I’ve got those for the iPads. You can get those for the iPhone so you wear it around your neck like a necklace and you can pick it up and prop it up against your body and do your dialing or gestures.
BRIAN NORTON: I’ll do a plug for Assistive Technology Act Projects. We have lots of cases for different types of devices, maybe not necessarily for the phone but for iPad mini and iPads. We have lots of cases folks can try out for a variety of different reasons why they might need those. Your local Assistive Technology Act might have a loan library where those are available, free to try out and get a smattering of what all is out there and try those things out.
BRIAN NORTON: I got another question through email. I have a client who has been using the Intellikeys is for many years. It is finally kaput — I just love the word kaput — so we are looking for a substitute/replacement. I’m open to ideas. The client has cerebral palsy and uses a key guard. My first thought to go with a keyboard with a key guard. I’m going to get one to trial but I’m wondering if there is anything out there that more closely replicates Intellikeys that she has been using for so long.
WADE WINGLER: No.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s exactly right. There isn’t anything that matches exactly with what Intellikeys does.
WADE WINGLER: I’m looking at Ablenet’s website and they say it’s no longer available, been discontinued. There are no alternative customizable keyboard options. Some big keyboards they recommend are the Big Keys, Chester Creek, My Board, and Kinderboard, but there’s nothing that’s the same as Intellikeys.
BELVA SMITH: It’s my understanding – and I could be wrong – they discontinued it because they could never get it to work with Windows 10. If you’re not using Windows 10, you might be able to look around on eBay and find one. If you’re using Windows 10, it’s not going to work.
JOSH ANDERSON: I wonder if theirs went kaput. I’m wondering if they upgraded.
BRIAN NORTON: They are not manufacturing it anymore.
BELVA SMITH: Exactly. You’re going to be buying a used one if you can find it.
BRIAN NORTON: Other keyboard you might try, Big Keys LX. There are lots of big key keyboards. The Big Blue Keyboard might be another option. They are similar to the Big Keys.
BELVA SMITH: You have to wonder which layout of the keys was he using.
JOSH ANDERSON: That makes a huge difference.
BELVA SMITH: That’s what makes it so different.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s going to be a challenge to replace. That’s one of my favorite keyboards of all time. I also love the overlays, are you can switch that weekly. I don’t know of any keyboard that does that. If you know of places to find Intellikeys keyboards, if you know a magical fix for getting it to work with Windows 10, perhaps someone to give us a call because we would love to fix that. That’s a staple of assistive technology loan libraries and assistive technology labs for many years. It’s sad to see that go by the wayside.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is, we have some folks who use the regular and medical versions of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. It’s not always compatible with every program. We were wondering if you know of any way to help with that or if anyone was available to provide a demo sometime. Do you know of a particular product or similar product that works better with medical programs? I’ll open that up.
BELVA SMITH: I know of no program that will work better with a medical program than Dragon. A demo, I’m not sure that’s really what they need. Someone needs to sit down with them with their software, their programs, and try to help them figure out workarounds. It may be one of those situations where you may be copying and pasting from DragonPad into a database. It may be something where you are using a tab key, which I made fun of you for. It definitely is one of those situations where we would need to sit down with them, not necessarily do a demo.
BRIAN NORTON: There is a medical version of Dragon. What that version does is gives you a language module that is specifically for medical terminology. It’s going to be able to spell hypodermic correctly. That’s the only thing I could come up with.
WADE WINGLER: That’s better than boo-boo.
BRIAN NORTON: The other thing I’ve done in the past is a Dragon professional. It doesn’t have the language module built in, but if you are looking for a way to interact with a particular program, Dragon professional is completely customizable. You can set up voice commands not only for dictation shortcuts – so when I say my address, it’ll put that on the screen. But you can also set up computer macros and be able to customize it to say – I had one working for someone here. He was wanting to go to Facebook. I could say go to Facebook. He could be on the desktop. It would press the start menu, wait 10 seconds, select Internet Explorer, wait 10 seconds, go to the address bar, type in www.Facebook.com, wait 10 seconds while it loaded and go down and put himself into the messages. It’s completely customizable so you can get access and navigate those programs.
BELVA SMITH: You can’t do macros in the medical version?
JOSH ANDERSON: You should be able to because the medical version is the professional version, just with that extra component. I’m not positive but I know because I was looking at prices of other versions. Isn’t the newest version of the medical $1600?
BRIAN NORTON: It’s a lot more expensive than it used to be.
JOSH ANDERSON: I know the newest version does have nice features built into it and does seem to be more compatible. The only thing I would say is, they ask if there is anything similar or works better. Maybe the newer version is the one I say. If you have special database programs, using DragonPad for dictating and moving everything over usually seems to be the easiest, and less like we do here and use a remote desktop program in which case you can’t do that at all.
BELVA SMITH: They may have a version that allows them to do macros but they aren’t aware of it. I would definitely look at that.
BRIAN NORTON: I talk to this person and mentioned that. You can do programming and make it work better. There are things that might make it work better, but that would be a on-site visit, looking at the application itself and what Dragon can and can’t do. I will say Dragon pushes the envelope with what speech recognition can do for you on a computer. There is probably no comparable product that I know of that’s going to do as well.
BELVA SMITH: There may be an alternative for the individuals using it. It could be one of those things where there using Dragon 90 percent of the time, but there is 10 percent of the time where they switch and don’t use Dragon but maybe use another input method. Sitting down with the individual would help us figure that out.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s true. If you have any information on that, let me know, let us know. We would love to hear from you. You can send us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org.
WADE WINGLER: And now it’s time for the wildcard question.
BRIAN NORTON: We are going to go on to our wildcard question of the week. This is where Wade gets to ask us a question.
WADE WINGLER: It’s your favorite part of the show. Recently I’ve been involved in some conversations that have to do with accessibility and the Internet of things. By the Internet of things can we are not exactly sure what we mean. We mean things that are connected to the Internet. I’ve heard fit bits referred to as that, smart plugs, Amazon echo and all that stuff. That’s what I wanted to get to today. Are you guys using an Internet of things in your home? Belva Kyle we know you have a new Internet of things addition to your family and I want to hear about that. What’s the accessibility implications of those things? We will start with you, Belva, because you have a new pet.
BELVA SMITH: I love the question of what’s the accessibility. I was asking Alexa to start my Roomba over the weekend, I thought, how many people have I worked with that cannot physically pull the vacuum out of the closet, plug it in, turn it on and push it back and forth? How cool would it be to be able to just voice activate the sweeper? Granted, when it gets full you do have to physically empty it. I was talking with someone the other day about all the different things that they have in the house that’s connected to the Wi-Fi. 50 different things. I got to thinking, how many things? I have the ring doorbell, now the sweeper. I wonder how many iPads, four iPads. I have a house full of things connected, nowhere near 50, quite a few. It would probably scare me if I knew how many.
WADE WINGLER: That’s an interesting question, something to ponder. Back up and tell people who might not know about the Roomba. How does it work and how are you using it?
BELVA SMITH: Amazon took preorders on June 11 for the Roomba 650 Wi-Fi. The 600 is still out there; it just doesn’t have the Wi-Fi. That’s the one that’s comparable to mine, which is the cheaper model. The most expensive model is $900. The 650 was preorder for $350, and I received it on the 18th. Out of the box, very simple set up, literally had it connected to my Wi-Fi probably under 10 minutes, docked and charging. From my smartphone, I’m able to control her sitting here right now. I could decide it’s time for her to clean the kitchen and she would do that. Also control her with voice.
WADE WINGLER: You say “her.” Does she have a name?
BELVA SMITH: She does have a name. Her name is Rosie from the Jetsons. Anyone that is my age or thereabouts might know that. The dog is learning to deal with her. Usually when I am vacuuming, he will jump out of the way. When she comes along, he just start looking at her. You will see his head turned in. He knows she’s coming at him, but he won’t get up. She’ll bump him and go the other way. The first couple of times he did jump out of the way, but then he figured out you can’t hurt him so he’s not coming out of the way.
WADE WINGLER: Are there other things you are using in your house that are internet of things that have accessibility implications?
JOSH ANDERSON: I’m bad at this. No. I get freaked out when things listen to be in my house. It creeps me out. I keep my cell phone away from me most of the time.
BRIAN NORTON: When your kids listen to you?
JOSH ANDERSON: They don’t listen anyway. Unless I can connect them to Wi-Fi and get them to listen.
BELVA SMITH: Do you have the ring doorbell?
WADE WINGLER: I don’t. We have Nest Cams and a Nest thermostat. We have Amazon echo and those kinds of things. We don’t have a doorbell. I’m a curmudgeon like Josh. I don’t want to answer the door anyway. I just need a button that says go away.
BRIAN NORTON: I have the nest cam. I use that a lot. I have my Apple Watch that I wear. Is that on me today. It’s at home charging.
BELVA SMITH: That’s one of my disappointments. My watch will tell me when someone is ringing my doorbell, but it won’t show me who. I have to run to my phone.
BRIAN NORTON: The same thing with nest cam. It won’t show you the video. It lets you know and you have to go to your phone to see the app and look at the video. Those are the only two things I have. I’m still leery about security, hearing the other day that folks can hack into your Smart TV and use the cameras built into them. You mentioned you have 50 things connected to the Wi-Fi?
BELVA SMITH: Not me, but one of my friends.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s a lot that someone can hack into.
WADE WINGLER: I had more than 20 car the kids devices, phones, cameras, TVs. I bet I have maybe 30 devices.
BELVA SMITH: You are hearing more on the news about crimes, break-ins especially, are being solved by people’s cameras. My neighbor would be nervous to know this, but by doorbell can go all the way across the street and get his front door. If someone kicked his front door in, he would know that I had that on video for him. Otherwise he might not like the idea so I don’t have a resume that far out. I do have is owned in so it doesn’t necessarily pick it up very clearly.
JOSH ANDERSON: So you are not peaking on who is coming and going?
BELVA SMITH: I’m more worried about someone kicking in the front door then I am breaking into my Wi-Fi.
BRIAN NORTON: I think you mentioned disability implications. I think there are huge things for that car being able to track people’s health better, do things around the house.
JOSH ANDERSON: So many things are voice or proximity controlled now. That can make huge differences. People can live on their own that wouldn’t have been able to without.
BELVA SMITH: I think of many of my clients that would benefit from having Amazon echo in their home.
BRIAN NORTON: Like me. I need one.
WADE WINGLER: You don’t have one yet? Smith like I thought you were going to get the Google Home.
JOSH ANDERSON: Isn’t there an apple one?
WADE WINGLER: It’s not the same thing. It’s more of a speaker, not a personal assistant.
BELVA SMITH: If you took that Google Home, home and tried it out for the weekend, you would probably be shopping the first thing Monday morning to get one.
BRIAN NORTON: We have one right?
WADE WINGLER: Check it out.
BRIAN NORTON: Thank you for the show. I want to make sure you know that we do have that listener line, 317-721-7124. You can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. Or email us at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. We certainly would love to hear from you if you have questions or feedback. I want to say thank you to Belva.
BELVA SMITH: Thanks everybody. Great questions.
BRIAN NORTON: And Josh.
JOSH ANDERSON: Thanks again everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: And Wade.
WADE WINGLER: Take care everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: Have a great week and we will see you in a couple.
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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