ATFAQ064 – Q1 Dragon and auto punctuation Q2 Converting printed Braille to e-text Q3 Help with hearing in meetings Q4 TalkBack gestures on Android Q5 Mounting large smart phones Q6 Notification settings on your smart device
Panel – Brian Norton, Belva Smith, Laura Medcalf, Wade Wingler
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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 64. My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions. I’m happy you tuned in this week as we get ready to jump into the questions you sent in. Before we do, I want to spend a moment going around the room. We have a new face here but not one to you. Josh is off. He is a regular contributor, always on our panel, and is off on vacation this week. We have a pinch hitter superstar stepping into the place: Laura Medcalf. Laura, you want to say hey?
LAURA MEDCALF: Hey folks.
WADE WINGLER: The famous Laura Medcalf.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s right.
LAURA MEDCALF: So excited to be here.
WADE WINGLER: Like you mean it.
BRIAN NORTON: Laura is the famous accessibility minute toast, one of our other podcasts. We are lucky to have her in the room. She brings a lot of happiness. Thanks for coming in and sitting in with us today.
WADE WINGLER: She also writes a blog.
BRIAN NORTON: She does all of our social media content.
WADE WINGLER: Almost all of it. If you have read www.eastersealstech.com, listened to accessibility minute, you already know Laura. Today you will get to know her better.
BRIAN NORTON: Also today we have Belva Smith.
BELVA SMITH: Everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: Belva is our team lead for our vision team. I’m glad she’s here today. Also Wade Wingler.
WADE WINGLER: Hey everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: Wade is the popular host of assistive technology update. Almost as popular as Laura with accessibility minutes. He runs our board and contributes as he always does for the question that we have today.
Without further ado, we are going to tell you about the show and how it works. We receive feedback and come across various assistive technology question throughout the week. We have a variety of ways, if you’re interested in sending questions our way, you can give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124, send us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org, or send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. If you are a regular listener, several weeks ago I was hounding folks for some hashtags to be sent out over twitter. We got some so thank you for contributing in that way.
WADE WINGLER: They really tweet you!
BRIAN NORTON: A variety of ways to do that. The other thing we often do is collect feedback. As we sit around in our corner of the world and our small cause of a room – that’s basically what it is.
WADE WINGLER: You are really talking it up.
BRIAN NORTON: Putting the show together, we realize you are out there on the street doing this stuff as well and might have some great answers are things I fill in the gaps that we leave behind we were doing the show. If you have feedback, send us that feedback in the same way: our listener line, email, or hashtag that we monitor. We would love to hear from you in that way.
To get started, we have three different things you want to throw out as feedback. I’ll play the first one that came in is a phone call.
SPEAKER: My name is Duane and I’m calling on the Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions. Somebody had mentioned a comment about JAWS not starting up. I have a solution. Go to settings in Windows and type power, and when you press enter, and then tab until it says solutions on available. When you click on it, there is a fast start. If that box is checked, uncheck it and that should start the problem. I just thought I would give that comment. Thanks.
BRIAN NORTON: That was Duane. As he mentioned, under your settings menu, going under the power settings, there might be an option for folks to take it manage which I think you mentioned a fast start. Certainly something to take a look at. That was different than the things we talked about last week.
Our next bit of feedback. Last week we talked about upgrading to iOS 11, warning people as they do that that some of the apps, when you upgrade to iOS 11, it requires apps to be a 64-bit app. A lot of accessibility apps that I’ve used, especially for folks who are visually impaired, those are made as 32-bit apps. When I upgraded, it became an issue for me because, as I never do but did this time, I upgraded right before I did a presentation. The next morning I realized that several apps I was going to show folks that day weren’t able to run because it would come up and say the manufacturer needs to update that app. Just a warning for folks to think about before you upgrade.
Really, for your upgrade to anything, any adaptive software, think through a gently what the upgrade is going to do for you and what kind of benefits it will bring to you and maybe wait just a little bit to make sure they get the bugs worked out. IOS is one thing, but some more traditional adaptive software, there are always tweaks. People rush to get their updates out to folks and then realize if you weeks later when people start using it, to get a lot of feedback about fixing certain things. When you jump from version 10 to 11, within about six weeks there is a 11.1 update fixing those things that happen to folks. Just warning about I was 11 and updates. Be mindful of those and think through the update process for you to make sure you’re not going to do the proverbial step in it.
WADE WINGLER: I’ve learned when you need a 64-bit app, installing a 32 twice doesn’t do the trick. You would think because of math, but it doesn’t.
BRIAN NORTON: It doesn’t add up.
BELVA SMITH: I’ll throw out that I think with every iOS update, has been something with braille or one of the apps for the folks who are visually impaired or rely on have been affected. In fact, with this latest update, there were some braille issues and I measure those have been resolved yet. I’ll just say what I said last time we talked about it, unless you consider yourself to be rather techy, it is always a good idea to wait a while before you do your update. If you don’t mind dealing with – because a lot of time they don’t know the issue that will be called from the release of the updates until they actually released them and people start trying to use things.
WADE WINGLER: From an IT security perspective, don’t way forever either. Those updates not only include features and bouts of which is that we like, but they also plug in holes for malware and viruses and those kinds of things. I don’t care what operating system you’re on, those things are out there. Don’t way forever. Wait a little while.
BRIAN NORTON: That is sage advice coming from our IT director and our HIPPA person as well. He doesn’t want preaches.
BELVA SMITH: I was just talking from the folks at VFO. One of the things they were saying about doing your software updates like JAWS and Fusion, because Microsoft is always working extremely hard to fix any of their cracks and leaks, it’s really important to keep that software updated as well because they have to stay on top of that stuff.
BRIAN NORTON: You just made me laugh at myself. This morning I was talking to Belva about different programs trying to get those to work. Instead of VFO, it came out the VFW.
BRIAN NORTON: He’s like, what do they call themselves now? The VFW? No, that’s where they go at the end of the day.
WADE WINGLER: We talked about that on an earlier show. Are you an upgrade right away girl or do you wait to do your update on your iPhone and apps?
LAURA MEDCALF: I usually try to wait a couple of days because of the bugs that can happen.
BRIAN NORTON: Our last bit of feedback today. For a while, we had been talking about the Google home device and also the Amazon echo devices and their ability to make phone calls. Just an episode or two ago, we talked about how Google home is able to do that. We do have an update on Amazon echo.
BELVA SMITH: It can now do that as well and doesn’t require the person to be in your contacts. You’re not required to have a phone number connected to it. You just simply ask her to dial the number. Again, this is all going to be based upon your location. I’ve been trying to get mine to make a phone call ever since about a week after I got Google home to do it. Until last week or most recently, she was telling me that she wasn’t able to do that. I did ask her if she could call the nearest Walmart. She was also not able to do that. Google home is able to do that.
BRIAN NORTON: I tested it out last week. I was talking at a support group, talking about assistive technology. We had talked about personal assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo. I had my Dot and was explaining that and working with that. People were having some fun with it. We did try the phone call and I was able to call someone’s cell phone who was in the support group. It came across as my phone number because that’s what it is registered to. It does work fairly well.
BELVA SMITH: It does land lines as well as a cell phones. I called my landline at home. The only thing I was hoping it would do – I’m thinking that it will eventually – is to be able to call the local Walmart or closest Pizza Hut.
WADE WINGLER: Just to be clear, I see the activation word – we all know her name – and say call 555-1212, and it will dial the phone?
BELVA SMITH: Yes.
WADE WINGLER: And caller ID is coming from whoever the account is registered to?
BELVA SMITH: Correct.
WADE WINGLER: I guess we don’t have long distance anymore.
BELVA SMITH: You do have to put the area code in. The sound quality is good enough to have a conversation.
BRIAN NORTON: No more Voice over IP. You can just use your Amazon echo.
BELVA SMITH: Pretty much any of the assistants now.
BRIAN NORTON: The Apple pod?
BELVA SMITH: It’s not even out yet.
LAURA MEDCALF: I think it’ll come out next month.
BELVA SMITH: I’m thinking it’s going to be right before the holidays.
WADE WINGLER: It’s that time of year. The apple orchard are very busy. It could be ripening up right now. I’m trying to be like Brian.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s the seat.
BELVA SMITH: Has anybody seen an image of what it’s going to look like?
WADE WINGLER: No.
BELVA SMITH: I’m thinking they should shape it like an apple. It would be awesome, wouldn’t it? I think they are coming to the game kind of late so they had better be bringing something pretty powerful. Can’t you ask Siri to dial a number?
BRIAN NORTON: If you are on your phone.
WADE WINGLER: We are looking at this picture and it looks like a big speaker. I guess that makes sense.
BRIAN NORTON: Which isn’t any different than the other two.
BELVA SMITH: I did get my Amazon show, haven’t set it up yet. I’m just looking at it in the box. I’m excited to get it set up at home.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s probably not going to do much for you in the box.
LAURA MEDCALF: I didn’t want to say anything. You have to take it out of the box.
WADE WINGLER: It’s the show.
BRIAN NORTON: Where is it?
WADE WINGLER: In the box.
BELVA SMITH: Exactly.
BRIAN NORTON: Don’t forget, as we go through the questions today, don’t forget if you have a question or have feedback, there are a variety of ways to send that to us. You can give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124, or send us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org, or send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ.
Our first question of the day came through email. Sometimes when I dictate a sentence, I’m not done and it will just insert a period and capitalize the following word. Any reason Dragon might be doing that?
BELVA SMITH: I just say that Natural Punctuation can be inserted anytime there is a pause when you’re using Dragon. Even though in your mind you will have not completed the sentence, if you have pause for any amount of time, it will assume I should put some punctuation in. Natural Punctuation can be turned on and off by simply saying “natural punctuation on” or “natural punctuation off.”
BRIAN NORTON: It is a setting. You can either go through your options menu or just say turn it on or off and it will turn those things on. The other thing I was wondering, I’ve been using Dragon or providing Dragon training for a long time. Sometimes what I realize is if someone is speaking – now it has gotten much better in recent versions of Dragon – sometimes when you are speaking, and your lips smack or there is a pause or there is some natural tendency for folks to be able to do something at the end of a sentence, sometimes it does pick up on that and will try to translate it. It’s hearing something that is part of your natural speech, it’s something you have to be mindful of and careful not to do and maybe change the way you pronounce or end your sentences. One way you can go about fixing that, if you go back into the training modules, as you train within that closed environment, contain environment, as you dictate sentences, Dragon will recognize that that is part of your natural speech but doesn’t match anything within that training module, so it will start to disregard it. I’ve seen a lot of the folks have worked with over the years have some success as they trained, if it is part of that how you speak or pronounce and it is part of your mouth movements.
WADE WINGLER: One of my default is to turn off automatic capitalization, automatic punctuation. I haven’t had it on for the last couple of versions of Dragon. Is it getting better about figuring out what is a comment and period and a semicolon? Have you had experience with that or did you shut it off too?
BELVA SMITH: I shut it off also just because, like I said with the pauses, it’s pretty much always incorrect so I just turn it off and train people to put their own punctuation in.
BRIAN NORTON: For commas and periods, it does an okay job. I don’t know if it does the other punctuation marks. It doesn’t do those things.
Just to recap, the first thing is to check auto punctuation. Turn it off if it is on. If it is part of your speech, go ahead and do some training in that module and see if that might fix it for you.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question came in through voicemail so we are going to go ahead and play there for you and jump into some answers after that.
SPEAKER: Name is Ronald and I listen to the Wade Wingler tech update show. I’ve been quite informed and blessed by it. I am totally blind. I have written a book in braille. I would like to translate from braille to print. Is there software I could get that works for somebody with average skills with a computer to convert the braille to print? I like to dictate my braille material and have a machine or computer to type it, whichever way you recommend. Please give me some good advice for an average operator. Thank you.
BELVA SMITH: It sounds like what you might be looking for a optical braille recognition software or OBR. I did see that EnableMart has some listed on their website; however, it says it has been discontinued. I would assume that if it has been discontinued there, it is going to be difficult to find anywhere. It was for around $1500. How easy it was I’m not exactly sure.
What I did pick up on his question is that he said he would not mind dictating his braille book or braille information into the computer. What I would suggest is that you just get a Windows PC – I know you said before you didn’t. Get yourself a Windows PC or even a Mac and use the included speech recognition software. What that means is you are going to need to turn off your screen reader. Get yourself into a word processing program – we will say for this example that you’re going to use Microsoft Word. To get Microsoft Word opened up and turn off your screen reader and activate the speech recognition software which is built into Windows. Then speak your braille information into the computer. Once you’re done with that input method, you’re going to need to turn back on your screen reader so that you can do proofreading. Obviously the speech recognition is going to make some heirs and you will need to go back and fix those manually once you have your screen reader turned back on.
Also, I just want to throw this out to anyone else who might be listening. If you don’t already have a computer, there are plenty of ways and places that you can get a computer, some for free and some at no cost. There is the CFTB, or Computer For The Blind, or your local assistive technology act. For us in Indiana, that would be INDATA project. Part of what they do is refurbish Windows computers and get them out to individual that had the other funding source but have a disability. Unfortunately, those computers don’t always include the mainstream adaptive software like JAWS or ZoomText but there are low or no cost alternatives that you can get for those computers.
Ronald, if you haven’t already got yourself a computer, that might be a way.
WADE WINGLER: The OBR, optical braille recognition, is something I haven’t seen in a wild. A little bit of research tells me it’s something made by a company in the Czech Republic. They are headquartered in Prague and are called Neo Vision. They show distributors all over the world in Canada and East Africa and France. It makes me wonder if they have just lost their US distributorship, or has the product gone away. It might be worth reaching out to them. The website of the people who originally made the software is Neovision.cz. As I recall, you put braille on a scanner and it would scan it in visually and rely on the bumps to make shadows and a change in the color of the paper and would translate printed braille back into computer rendered text.
That’s the thing you want. It has existed and I just don’t know if it is available anymore.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s interesting to me. I must have been living under a rock or something like that because I just not heard of that before.
BELVA SMITH: It’s not something that has ever been very popular, but it is something that is available.
WADE WINGLER: Let us know when you figure it out. I want to read your book.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is, I’m looking for a device that will help me understand meetings better. I attend medical meetings almost daily and have difficulty following the content in these meetings due to my profound hearing loss. I currently wear two bilateral behind-the-ear hearing aides with a t-switch. I have tried using the Ava app, but the captioning is only 60 percent correct.
The first thing I would say is some clarifying question I would have. I know there are many types of hearing aid manufacturers. I am familiar with Phonak and Semens. Those hearing aid manufacturers, specifically ones that make Bluetooth hearing aids, have devices that can pair with the Bluetooth for specific situations like this when you are in meetings. I believe Phonak has the Roger Pen. That’s a pen-like device that you can set on the table and point around the room to be able to point out folks as they talk, and it will pick them up and feed the audio directly into your hearing aids. That’s what you want because the hearing aids are specifically calibrated to your hearing.
I would take a look at your hearing aids and figure out what type you have. Maybe talk to your audiologist about it. Then bring that up with your audiologist as well, saying, I’m having difficulty in these settings and this is what I’m trying to do with it. Maybe there are some options they might be able to throw your way with different manufacturers and types of technology that can be added on to the hearing aid to you currently use to be able to better here in those situations.
You mentioned the Ava app. That is a great app. For folks that don’t know what Ava does, when you are in a meeting, all the participants can have the app on their phone. What I refer to it as, it puts an individual microphone in front of everybody. They have their phone in front of them, and their phones are listening. The Ava app allows multiple folks to be able to have a complete messaging system happen real-time as it captions each voice. It knows which voice it came from and it will show up in a bubble associated with that person. You get live captioning in and amongst multiple folks.
Another app I’ve had success with is live caption. Live caption may not be for a larger group. I would save you five or so folks around a table where you can be close enough to one phone. It will give you a dictation of everything it hears in a row. There is no separation. It is not going to parse it out by individual. It does give you a running live caption of what’s being said and that type of meeting.
Those would be the things I would throw out there initially.
WADE WINGLER: I encourage you to hang on to the accuracy is going to get better and better as time goes by with this technology. The fact that something like Ava even exist now and can do transcription live. Again, we want accuracy as much as we can get it but it is going to get better. Don’t give up on that technology and stay on top of it because we have more and more audio content all the time in our world.
The other thing I’ll do is a shameless plug. Let us know if you rely on the transcript of this show as well. One of the things we are part of here at Easter Seals Crossroads is we have transcripts of our podcasts go up usually the day of or a day or two after our podcasts are released, depending on the show. We hope that that is a useful service and would like to hear from more folks who rely on that.
BELVA SMITH: I’ll just bounce off of the same thing that Brian said. Definitely you want to speak to your audiologist about this and let them know the type of environment that you are in and the troubles you are experiencing. I know I’ve had several clients that have been able to get the Bluetooth companions to go along with their hearing aids, and has been able to make a big difference for them.
BRIAN NORTON: The hearing aids are equipped with Bluetooth, and there is a lanyard that goes around your neck. All of the audio gets transmitted from whatever device you were using to your headset hearing aids and allows you to hear that audio in the best representation for you.
Definitely check with them. You may also look at others. Harris communications is another great place to go. A lot of times they have some great things for folks who are deaf or hard of hearing in those types of environments. Starting with the hearing aids. I always ask folks to have the conversation with your audiologist because they are going to be able to know what your history is, know what your specific hearing issues are, and hopefully match up the technology for you. A lot of that hearing aid technology has to be recommended through an audiologist in order for it to get funded. Those Bluetooth FM systems do work well. Definitely check that out.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next message is from Mary.
BELVA SMITH: We haven’t heard from Mary in a while.
BRIAN NORTON: She is what we would refer to as it regular caller.
BELVA SMITH: Maybe she has been on vacation.
WADE WINGLER: Welcome back.
BRIAN NORTON: This is a voicemail so we will play that for you.
SPEAKER: This is Mary. I’m an assistive technology consultant in Kentucky. I had a question for ATFAQ. I’m constantly showing students who have reading disabilities and have iPhones how to use voiceover to read pretty much anything and also speech selection and speak screen. I need to be able to find those things on android because so many of my students have android phones. When I’m showing them voiceover because they are sighted, I boil it down to four or five basic gestures that help them control it without voiceover controlling them and driving them crazy. I know how to turn talkback on on Android, but I can’t seem to figure out if you gestures that help me figure out how to quickly turn it on, pause, resume, and get it back to where you want it. Do you have any information on that?
Also, are there features on android phones similar to speak screen and speech selection. I know it’s tricky because there are so many companies that make android phones. Anyway, if you have information on that, that would be great.
BRIAN NORTON: Great questions. Thank you for giving us a call. I want to throw it over to Belva. I think she has some answers.
BELVA SMITH: I hope I do.
WADE WINGLER: There is a lot going on in that question.
BELVA SMITH: That’s how I was reading it. There are lots of questions in one question, I guess. I think primarily you are looking for a way to quickly turn on and off the talkback feature as well as a way to have speak selection be read on android. It’s difficult to answer any of these android questions because it depends on not only what operating system you are using, but what android device are you using, which is again why Apple is nice because they are within their own little box.
What I did come up with for you, Mary, I don’t know if you have gone into device settings and accessibility shortcut. At the top of accessibility, you will be able to turn on the shortcut. If you hold down the volume keys for three seconds, that will supposedly bring up the accessibility shortcut menu, where you can turn on talkback or choose for it to speak selection. So if you have a screen that you want to have read, you will first highlight it and then hold down your volume keys for three seconds and it will begin to speak the screen. At least that’s what I was able to come up with, that’s also for android 5.1 or higher. If you’re using something that is older than that, then that might not be the best solution. It did say that if you don’t see the option, you can go to the Google Play Store and download a later version of your talkback. I hope that helps.
BRIAN NORTON: Suffice to say, here at Easter Seals crossroads we primarily work with Apple devices so we have iPads and Apple phones. It’s a little out of our box but not completely. We are starting to see — and I’ve been noticing even over the recent years – all of that great accessibility that has been inside iOS, you are starting to see it being developed in the android environment as well. They are a lot more similar than you might think. As they continue to develop, I’m sure more accessibility is going to be built in and available for folks. I’ve seen it firsthand, not only for built-in stuff, but the apps that are out there for folks on android.
In the last couple of months, I added a Samsung Galaxy tab to my kit. I’ve been playing around with a few apps and have been very impressed with it as far as accessibility is concerned.
I also want to throw out to our listeners, folks who may be more familiar with android, if you have other suggestions or additional knowledge that you can throw Mary’s way with regard to getting text to speech available on android, we would love to hear from you and be able to pass that along to Mary and one of our upcoming shows. Let us know. We would love to be able to fill in the gaps with that question. Thank you very much.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is an email that came through. They are looking for suggestions for a wheelchair mount for a larger iPhone or iPad device. The question becomes are there different mounts for iPads or for iPhones for wheelchairs.
WADE WINGLER: I’m all about the RAM mounts. We’ve been using those here for a long time and we really like them. They were originally designed to mount laptops in cop cars. If you think about an environment that needs to be durable and reliable, the fact that they are doing that is amazing. That’s what I use in my car right now for my phone, a Ram mount stuck to a suction cup. They can mount to down the tubes on wheelchairs, bicycles. I think it’s ironic that the mounts that are meant for motorcycle handlebars work nicely on a lot of wheelchair mounts as well. They even have some that can fit in the cup holder of cars and hold up something fairly substantial. Brian, I know you have experience with the RAM mounts as well.
BRIAN NORTON: I love them. They are very user-friendly, easy to use, easy to connect. They come with a variety of clamps that you can use to get it clamped on pretty much anywhere on your wheelchair. RAM mounts are great and I use them quite a bit.
WADE WINGLER: They are modular so you can mix and match and get whatever you want. Around $50 or so will get you into one of the more universal RAM mounts set ups for the iPhone.
BELVA SMITH: I know I recently had to come up with a mount for an iPad for a wheelchair. That was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a long time. Trying to find the right mount for that chair. It is all very chair specific. I looked at so many mounts and so many different ways to configure them, but there are so many different styles a wheelchair. I took pictures of that wheelchair every which way I could. I’m so glad that’s not something I have to do every day. I hope I got it figured out. The parts haven’t come in yet.
WADE WINGLER: You should lean on our mobility team.
BELVA SMITH: I did, trust me. Every day I was saying hey, guys, what do you think of this?
BRIAN NORTON: There are specific companies that make specific mounts for chairs. Blue sky designed to make the modern mover; Daisy does that as well. What’s nice about those days they are designed for wheelchair so they take advantage of discrete places on the wheelchair. A lot of wheelchairs of these days have a chair rail which is on the seat. They also have one’s in the armrest of the chair where, if you’re going to move the armrest out of the way, the mount will go with it.
BELVA SMITH: My arm was going to be moving so she could transfer in and out of the chair. That brings a whole another obstacle to overcome.
LAURA MEDCALF: Another recommendation I have is if you are in the process of receiving a new wheelchair, a lot of new wheelchairs will come with specific amounts.
BRIAN NORTON: Really?
WADE WINGLER: So when you get your chair, you can say iPhone or something like that?
LAURA MEDCALF: You can add on different accessories. I added on a cup holder, USB charger. That’s all I need to personally but there are hundreds of options.
BELVA SMITH: You can get a USB charger?
WADE WINGLER: That’s right. Under my left arm rest. I plug my phone in anywhere.
BELVA SMITH: That’s awesome.
BRIAN NORTON: Is that covered through the process or is that something you then have to pay for?
LAURA MEDCALF: It was covered under my insurance.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s so great. I had not known that.
WADE WINGLER: If I had known that, I probably would have bummed some USB off of you during the show. That’s probably an inappropriate question. Can I charge my phone on your chair?
LAURA MEDCALF: It’s fine. I’m used to it now.
BRIAN NORTON: As folks are getting fitted for new chairs, or they are having to have something fix on their old chair, can they talk to their seating and positioning specialist to talk about what might be needed?
LAURA MEDCALF: And see what accessories might be available.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s great.
BELVA SMITH: Could I have told the person I was working with, hey, you need to talk to her seating and mobility specialist and see if she or he can find the mount we need. That would’ve saved me a lot of headache.
BRIAN NORTON: It probably would’ve made the process a little longer for the individual themselves because that is a process to see your seating and positioning specialist, get things approved, and all that stuff.
LAURA MEDCALF: It depends on the specialist, how knowledgeable they are of a specific brand of wheelchair. Every brand is different.
BELVA SMITH: I found that out too.
LAURA MEDCALF: The chair I’m currently in is completely different from my other chair. You can’t mount certain things on this one like you cut the other one and vice versa.
BRIAN NORTON: It is a sweet chair.
LAURA MEDCALF: It is the Cadillac of wheelchairs.
BELVA SMITH: Because of that, I find myself looking at chairs differently now because I’m like, oh, you don’t have that –
LAURA MEDCALF: I see you checking this out.
BELVA SMITH: I was sitting here thinking, that one is really nice.
BRIAN NORTON: To wrap that up, there are commercially available mounts like RAM mounts and other kinds of things. There are manufacturers like a daisy and modern mover. But then also mounts that are specifically designed for a specific chair through a seating and positioning specialist that you might be working with. Asking and inquiring with them about what might be appropriate is certainly an option as well.
WADE WINGLER: And now it’s time for the wildcard question.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is wildcard question. This is where we throw the mic at Wade.
WADE WINGLER: Not necessarily an assistive technology question, but in the end I think it probably is. We have lots of communication tools and have talk about those from time to time on the show. My question this week isn’t so much about communication tools but about notification settings. We have emails, text, Slack, Facebook messenger, all these different tools at our disposal to communicate with one another throughout the day and evening and the night and 24/7/365 it seems like.
My question is, in general, how do you set your notification settings? Does a change from your computer to your mobile device? What is your philosophy behind the vacations? Are you buzzing all the time, or just shut them all off and check them when you get to them? Some things you set to buzz or being throughout the day? How do you deal with notifications on your device and computers?
BRIAN NORTON: I’ll jump in. I set mine to be almost the maximum amount of notifications. I’ve been accused in the past, don’t text Brian because he won’t answer you.
WADE WINGLER: I’ve experienced that.
BRIAN NORTON: I use an iPhone. I have my computer. I have an Apple Watch. I actually rely more on my Apple Watch than anything else. Everything is connected to it. I talked to people all the time when I’m doing speaking engagements. The phone, I’ve learned to ignore it. I don’t even feel the vibration. I don’t want it to make an auditory sound because if I’m speaking –
WADE WINGLER: Or recording for example.
BRIAN NORTON: – I don’t want it to go off. I don’t want it to be an auditory sound so I put it on the vibration. I don’t feel the vibration in my pocket anymore. Having something on my wrist is really more important to me. I crank it all up and connect it to my watch and rely on that to help me to know what’s coming up and what is not.
WADE WINGLER: Do you get phantom vibrations?
BRIAN NORTON: I do.
WADE WINGLER: I used too. I don’t get much anymore.
BELVA SMITH: I use the Apple Watch and rely on it heavily to keep me updated with my notifications. When I am writing in the car, which is where I spent a large portion of my day, I may have my phone connected via Bluetooth to the stereo system so I’m listening to a podcast or something, and when I get a notification of a text or something like that, it doesn’t always make a sound when it is connected and playing a podcast. Having that little vibration on my arm – in fact, I have recently turned on the maps notification, so when I’m driving, rather than having to listen to turn right in one mile, I just feel the vibration on my arm to know when I’m going to need to turn. I do rely heavily on my watch for that stuff.
I guess I’m still in a state of trying to figure out what is enough and what is too much and what’s not enough. I had my doorbell at home which also give me notifications. Then I have applications that we use here at work that give me updates and notifications. And of course regular text and stuff like that. I don’t want to drive for two hours or be working on a report or something and not pay any intention and not be aware that somebody may have needed something like right now, but at the same time, if I’m sitting in a meeting, I really do get frustrated with [makes buzzing sound]. In fact, that happened to me just this morning. I was sitting in a meeting and I got five right in a row. I haven’t figured out what’s the right amount yet.
WADE WINGLER: Do you change them from app to app? Do you have everything set to alert like your email and text messages and instant messaging and those kinds of things? Or do you turn some apps on more than others?
BELVA SMITH: I guess I turn some up more than others. I have priority for some of the apps.
WADE WINGLER: For me, I don’t let email announce anything. I don’t want to be bothered by any email. I get hundreds of emails a day. They aren’t usually time sensitive. Text messages I do let buzz throughout the day. Other things I am sort of selective about. We use Slack as our instant messenger here. Some channels I have turned on and some off. It’s getting more granular these days about how you can tell those things to notify you. I have some channels that only notify me during the day but after hours they shut off. I find that it is a work in progress for me.
LAURA MEDCALF: I use as few notifications as possible because I noticed everybody is trying to get a hold of me, so it stresses me out and hides my anxiety. I use the “I’ll get to it when I’m able.” I do have my text messages sent via notification banner on my phone, because usually people know if they need be immediately, that is the way to reach me. That’s about the only thing I let forward onto an alert.[Inaudible]
LAURA MEDCALF: I still have a red bubble that haunts me if I don’t answer an email. I will not open anymore that I can’t answer it. I’m very forgetful so that’s why I leave the hunting red dot.
WADE WINGLER: Then they make you mad.
LAURA MEDCALF: Then I had to actually make time to respond. I don’t get hundreds.
BELVA SMITH: That is frustrating to me as well. If I open an email and having got the time to respond to it, but it required I respond to it, to have to go back and mark it as unread is very frustrating so I would rather just open it until I have time to open it.
LAURA MEDCALF: Exactly.
WADE WINGLER: I am an inbox zero kind of guy. I have been for years and still do that. I don’t have anything in my inbox at the end of the day pick it does when I bump things over into a task management system where I can prioritize it and give them color codes or different things and let me know what I need to do.
LAURA MEDCALF: We’re not that fancy. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
WADE WINGLER: I have to be.
BELVA SMITH: I will say we have a coworker that used to send a text that should’ve been email. I think we finally broke them of that now. Text should just be short so I can look at it and be done with it and respond to it.
BRIAN NORTON: I think in today’s day and age, all of this Internet of things, there are some of the things that can alert you. I got nest cameras at home. When the dog barks or it thinks it sees a person, it notifies me. If I really think about it, some things I just don’t have alert me at all. I guess I do prioritize which ones do and I do probably set certain limits on things so I know they are not bothering me when it’s not as important.
WADE WINGLER: It’s interesting, one of the new alert in our lives is the Amazon echo letting us know when an Amazon packet shows up. I have two little kids in my house, a six-year-old and soon to be five-year-old. They don’t have email or text messages or anything that are notifications in their lives. They are little kids. Except when that yellow ring goes off on the Amazon echo, they get so excited. My little boy will run over there and say the activation word and “notifications” because he really wants to know what is that. I can see the endorphin rush happen in this little guy because there is a notification. He heard the doorbell ring 13 seconds before, so he knows that either the neighbor kid or UPS driver has left something on the front porch. He loves when those Amazon notifications come across which tells me there is something super psychological going on that even my six-year-old has to know right away what that notification is. And it’s always the same notification: your package was just delivered. But he loves it.
BELVA SMITH: Or it is on its way.
WADE WINGLER: Right.
BELVA SMITH: I’ve been using my Amazon device for personal reminders. We have an upcoming baby shower. I don’t like putting those personal things on my work calendar which is my primary calendar, so I just started using her for my personal reminders. I’m liking that even though it is another buzz on the wrist because even when I’m not home, if I have set a reminder, it will come across on my watch to let me know you were supposed to stop at the store before you get home.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s our show for today. Don’t forget to send us your questions. Or if you have been listening to the things we’ve been covering today and have some additional feedback, send those our way. We would love to hear from you. You can give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124, or send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ, or email us at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. Recently what your questions and feedback. In fact, without it, we really wouldn’t have a show. Be a part of it.
I want to thank the folks in the room as well. Belva?
BELVA SMITH: Thanks everybody. We look forward to your questions. Laura, it was always excited to have you in the room.
LAURA MEDCALF: Thanks for having me.
BRIAN NORTON: We love having Laura here. She makes us all happier people.
LAURA MEDCALF: I keep you in line.
WADE WINGLER: Somebody needs to. Thanks everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: Take care.
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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