ATFAQ002 – Q1 AT Lemon Law | Q2 Speakerphone on iPhone | Q3 Rotation lock on iPad | Q4 Low vision apps | Q5 Esight glasses | Q6 Apple watch for people with disabilities



Show Notes
Brian Norton, Mark Stewart, Belva Smith, and Wade Wingler
Q1: Is there an AT Lemon Law? |
Q2: Can I set the speaker phone mode to automatically activate on iPhone calls? |
Q3: On my iPad the rotation lock got turned on and I can’t figure out how to turn it off? What do I do? |
Q4: Do you have any suggestions for magnification apps for iOS and/or Android? | | KNFB Reader | ZoomReader | Camera w/ zoom feature
Q5: Have you heard of the esight glasses? What do you know about them? |
Wild card: Apple Watch for people with disabilities |

Send your questions: 317-721-7124 | | Tweet using #ATFAQ


——-transcript follows ——

BRIAN NORTON: Welcome to ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions. I’m your host Brian Norton, manager of clinical 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 or call our listener line at 317-721-7124. The world of assistive technology has questions, and we have answers.

First thing I want to do today, this is show AT FAQ 002, our second show. Hopefully folks have gotten the chance to listen to our first show. I want to go around the room and introduce whoever is in the room hear with us. The first person is Belva Smith. Go ahead and introduce yourself.

BELVA SMITH: I’m Belva. I’m the vision team lead here at Easter Seals crossroads with the clinical team.

BRIAN NORTON: Great. And I’ve got Mark Stewart as well.

MARK STEWART: Hey, Brian, and Mark Stewart. I’m the team lead for the mobility cognition team, movement and learning.

BRIAN NORTON: Great, and then Wade Wingler is over here.

WADE WINGLER: Hey, I’m Wade. I’m the director of the program, but mostly today I’m kind of the audio engineer trying to make the sound sound good.

BRIAN NORTON: Just as last week, with the first show, the format and how it works is essentially this is just questions and answers. Over the past several weeks, folks have been submitting the questions about assistive technology come and with our panel of guests, we’re going to be trying to enter those the best we can.

As far as if you guys have questions, the ways you can submit them, the first thing would be through Twitter. You can send us the #ATFAQ. We also have a listener line set up. That is 317-721-7124. That is a great way to be able to hear your voice on the show. We’ll actually take a recording of your question, stick it in the show right there. You can also send us a question via email at as well. So there’s just several ways to be able to submit your questions. I’d love to take those and put them in the queue and will answer them as quickly as we can get to them.

How to find our show, you can find our show on iTunes. You can also go to, or you can find it on Stitcher or at So there are several ways to find our show as well.

The release and frequency of our show, we release the show every other week, so this week we are recording and next week will be releasing it. So Monday it gets released.

Without further adieu, I just jump into the questions that we have for today. The first question is that we are going to handle is, is there an AT Lemon Law? The first question would be is there? Is there an AT lemon law? Lemon means if you get a piece of technology that doesn’t work, is there legislation other that people can do given a job to be able to work through issues?

MARK STEWART: If you’re talking about frequently asked question reader shows, no, there is not a lemon law.


So there essentially are lemon laws in many states. If you go to, there is a page after the talks about the different lemon laws. Lemon laws are found all over the place. Essentially what happens is when you put a lot of investment into a piece of assistive technology and it doesn’t work, after the manufacturer warranty runs out, what can you do? A lot of times technology can have a pretty high price tag, so over $1000 or more sometimes. After that manufacturer warranty is out, what you do? There are some consumer protection laws in place to kind of help folks retrieve some of their investment or at least get that item replaced.

I think the first state to enact the law was in Louisiana. That was many years ago. What you will find is the lemon laws cover different types of technology depending on the state that you are in. Some states just have protection for some DME equipment like wheel chairs, scooters come and mobility devices, whereas in other states you might find it offers protection really just about any kind of assistive technology out there, whether computers with different software, those kinds of things. Lots of predictions out there.

BELVA SMITH: Brian, is it like if my device is broken more than three times, I can get it replaced? That’s the way the lemon law typically works for a car. It has to be the same type of failure for a certain number of times. Is at the same with the assistive technology lemon law?

BRIAN NORTON: It is. It seems to be that way come and it’s different from state to state. What I find to be able to qualify as a lemon, the assistive technology device often times has to be repaired a certain number of times within the first year. That could be two times or three times or four times depending on the state find yourself in. So yes, that would apply.

WADE WINGLER: Belva, I’m looking at the RESNA site too, and we’ll put a link in the show notes so that people can find out whether their state is one of the 38 states that have one or not in some of the details. I’m looking down through the list, and a lot of them say if the device cost a certain amount, certainly for items over $1000 that’s been repaired four times for the same reason, two times for the same reason. A lot of them seem to be in the three or four times range. At that point it’s declared a lemon and you get a new one or get your money back.

BRIAN NORTON: I did notice, I believe Indiana has an assistive technology lemon law as well, but it is not on the list, so that list may not be complete as well. If you look at the list and you don’t see your state on there, it may be something to look into.

WADE WINGLER: That’s true. In fact, when this question came in, I think I saw it first. I looked and realized we’ve had a lemon law in Indiana for many years but you’re right. The documents that are online are out of date. I made a call over to the folks at RESNA and they’re going to be updating the list sometime real soon. So I think you’ll find that at least one state that is not included, but there will be updates soon.


MARK STEWART: What I wanted to add on was — as I think we’ve mentioned in the last show, nevertheless we all evaluations, then we step away for the purchase piece in our specific practice right now because we are a nonprofit organization in a clinical role. Then we come in for the installation and training. I spent a lot of one-on-one time in the installation and training mode with consumers. Over the years, the situations have come up with mainstream products that that we are using in adaptive kind of ways but they are not actually designated assistive technology products. Sure enough, does break too. Sometimes there’s been a waiting period, or sometimes has gone by and that it the 90 days has passed. I’ve worked with those consumers to get those items fixed even when it seems to me they might not be able to get them fixed otherwise. It’s a little bit of a sticky wicket. Sometimes I can do it, sometimes I can’t. But the process has to do with considering what the disability years, considering the culture, considering whether the person has disclosed the disability yet or not and then consulting with them about an approach that we could take and then seeing if they want to take that approach. It has to do with saying in my experience, these companies aren’t used to working with folks with disabilities. They are very routine about these things. They may very well say no because it’s beyond 90 days. But if you are inclined to play that disability card, quote unquote, as generically as possible, but still play the disability card, then they may very well work with you. That’s for different reasons. If you’re in trouble, the individual on the end actually is a nice human being and spend a little bit extra time or waive some fees and they really help you out. I’ve gone through that routine, and really it works almost all the time. I continue to do it, but I cringe because I hate – somebody shouldn’t have to disclose or even mention the fact that they have a disability, right? But at the same time, if they are about to fail out of school or fill a job because they’re going to have to not be able to use a product or wait another three months to get a product or something, you get in a little bit of a jam. I tried to let the decision be up to them, but I understand that there is some pressure there. Sometimes if it gets to that, I get a release of information. Nevertheless, that’s an approach that I’ve taken in the past that’s allowed for substantial success as far as having companies, manufacturers of mainstream products work really well with you.


WADE WINGLER: That makes sense. The other thing that I might add here is what we are talking about the enforcement of lemon laws, it probably should be mentioned that the state protection and advocacy programs all have an assistive technology designee. So within the state’s protection and advocacy programs, there should be someone who understands the lemon law if it exists in that state and they can help navigate some of that as well.

BRIAN NORTON: I find a lot of the drawback to this stuff is a lot of times folks just aren’t able to put the time, the energy and the effort into really pursuing the legislation, per se. Things go unfixed or unrepaired. It’s just left to the consumer to try to figure those things out. It does take a lot of energy, effort. You’re going to have to sometimes push major retailers and things like that to be able to kind of fix their products and treat people the way they should be, especially when they need the device fixed to be able to do something and be more independent and self-sufficient.

MARK STEWART: And when it’s appropriate and you have the time and with the right consumer, if you can slip the educational piece in the too so you feel like they are a little bit more empowered to do this the next time it happens to know how this works. That can be helpful

WADE WINGLER: Because they don’t always know that there is that option out there.

BRIAN NORTON: Absolutely. So our second question for today is can I set the speakerphone mode to automatically activate on my iPhone calls? There are many situations where folks are unable to, maybe it’s a physical impairments, something like that where they are unable to comfortably hold the phone up to the ear. They may want to have their phone automatically set to get to the speakerphone. Again, can I set the speakerphone mode to automatically activate on my iPhone calls?

BELVA SMITH: I’ll take that one, Brian. Yes, you can. You can also set the phone to go directly to a Bluetooth earpiece and that’s what you’re using. I’ll just run through the step-by-step way to do that real quick. You just go to Settings, and then General, and then Accessibility, and then down on the right side you’re going to look for Call Audio Routing. You will choose speaker there or Bluetooth earpiece. That’s your two options come and then that way when your phone rings, you answer and it will automatically go to those options.

BRIAN NORTON: Great. That’s a great way to turn that on. Again, for the situations where you cannot physically get that phone, that’s a great option to be able to have in your bag of tricks to be able to set up for someone so they can automatically have it go to your speaker. Thank you, Belva.

Second question on an iPad that came in. This was actually a consumer of mine. Basically he has an iPad and he uses it for communication. Somehow, some way, he got the rotation lot turned on on his iPad and his question came in and he was like how do I turn this off? I can’t seem to figure it out. Answers anybody?

BELVA SMITH: I can grab that one too.


BELVA SMITH: Very similar to the iPhone setting. You’re going to go to Settings, General, and then on the right side about midway down you will see an option for the slide switch. You’ve got two options there to set the slide switch to Mute or to Rotate. So if you are holding your iPad with your home button in your right hand, then that slides which will be on the top left corner. When the switch is all the way up, your screen will be locked. When the switch is all the way down, then your screen will be unlocked but if you rotate the iPad, then your screen will switch from landscape to portrait or vice versa. So hopefully when you set your iPad up, that option was set for you. But if not, that’s how you can go and said it yourself.

MARK STEWART: There’s always multiple way to change things. Another option that I came across is now with the control center that you can access from the front screen, you can now swipe up from the very bottom of your screen. That should open up your control center. What you look for is there is a little lock icon with an arrow that goes up and around the lock. That’s your orientation lock, and that’s going to signify whether it’s on or off. If it’s stuck on, you can press that and it will turn itself off as well. I just looked it up real quick come and it really also depends on what version of device you have, because with the iOS software updates, those things can be found in different places. I think the slide switch is kind of your ultimate — you can set that up in many different devices on iOS’s platform. But for some of the newer ones with the control center, I think you can get there to depending on your iOS.

WADE WINGLER: Help me understand here, because I think of you that over the years. That switch on the side of an iOS device is the mute switch or the screen lock switch?

BELVA SMITH: Depends on how you have a chosen under the settings.

WADE WINGLER: Because it was originally the mute switch, right? When the iPad and iPhone first came out. Now can be set so it does either. You can set it to either be the mute or the lock.


WADE WINGLER: But not both?

BELVA SMITH: Not both.

WADE WINGLER: So if you’ve got it set to be unlocked, how do you mute it?

BELVA SMITH: You don’t that I’m aware of.

BRIAN NORTON: That’s a great question, Wade.

BELVA SMITH: I honestly don’t think you can pick that’s an option only on the iPad, not the iPhone.

WADE WINGLER: Interesting.

BELVA SMITH: So maybe we’ve got ourselves a question —

BRIAN NORTON: We’ll have to look into that.

WADE WINGLER: We are stumped. We got stuck in episode 2.

BRIAN NORTON: We’ll have to tackle that question.

MARK STEWART: I wasn’t stumped. I was in the bathroom. Speak you will have to tackle that the next time.

BELVA SMITH: Wait, you would still be able to turn the volume down.

WADE WINGLER: That’s true, you just turn the volume all the way down.

BELVA SMITH: You just turn the volume all the way down with your volume button.

WADE WINGLER: Give Belva a second. She’ll figure it out.


All right. Question 4. Do you have any suggestions for edification apps for iOS and slot or android?

BELVA SMITH: I haven’t used android very much, but it did a little bit of research, and I found two free ones. Free is always good for me. Magnify and Magnify Microscope. Whenever I am looking for any kind of an app, but especially a magnifying app, I asked ourselves two questions: the cost, how easy is it going to be to use, and what kind of features are with it. Sometimes you want something that’s got a whole lot of features and sometimes you just want something that’s going to be simple. So for the iOS, my three favorites have seemed to meet most of the needs. Supervision Plus, which is free and very very simple to use; doesn’t have a whole lot of features, but it will get things modified really quickly for me. Big Magnify which is $.99. That once been around for a long time. Again very simple to use. And then the most expensive one that I like is $19.09, and it’s called See It Magnifier, or See It. It has a whole bunch of different color filtering modes, the most on any of the apps that I’ve seen. It also will work on your iPhone or your iPad. You use the built-in flashlight to add additional light with that app. The supervision plus has a light that can be turned on with it. You are really just using your phone flashlight, but you feel like you are using the future of the app because you are tuning it on in the app. So those are my three favorites. Go back to what we said last week, if you’re looking for in app, a good place to go would be the AppleVis website, or the one that you mentioned Brian.


BELVA SMITH: That’s not the one I was thinking of. AFB Access World is another great place to look.

BRIAN NORTON: Belva, those apps that you just mentioned, were those all iOS apps or are those also for android?

BELVA SMITH: Android was the Magnify and Magnify Microscope. That’s the two android ones I found.

BRIAN NORTON: And the other ones are all iOS?


BRIAN NORTON: I found if you search find a fire in iTunes, many of those will have a free version you can try out and get used to before you buy the full version of it that obviously has added features to it. Sometimes it even been able to get away, just in a pinch for folks, if they just use the camera with the zoom feature.

BELVA SMITH: I do that a lot.

BRIAN NORTON: It’s not nearly as clear and there isn’t the added functionality that you find in some of those apps, but sometimes I will get people by as well.

BELVA SMITH: I use that myself that I’ve got to get the serial number off the back of a computer or something like that. We were just talking this morning about getting older than 40, I’ll take my phone back there and just snap a picture of a quick and bring it out and stretch it so I can see.

BRIAN NORTON: I’m doing that something now. I was the topic of conversation as I turned 41 earlier this month. I now have some really that are throwing me for a loop as far as being able to see print and look up and see someone across the room, I’m not used to it yet. I think is going to take a little while.

WADE WINGLER: You’re getting old, Brian.

MARK STEWART: I’d like to say gets better, but…

WADE WINGLER: Like a wine and cheese, right?


Question 5: have you heard of e-sight glasses, and what do you know about them?

BELVA SMITH: I have. The e-sight glasses remind me of the Jordy glasses that have been discontinued for four or five years now. Essentially what they are is a pair of glasses that uses a video camera and special software and then a computer processor to capture real-time images and allow a person who is visually impaired, legally blind, to gain access to an image of maybe a face or printed text. That’s the short of it. They are kind of big and a very obvious. One of the YouTube videos that I watched on it said something like it’s like wearing a pair of wraparound sunglasses. I think it’s a little bigger and more uncomfortable than a pair of wraparound sunglasses. However, the people that have used them have had remarkable results with them. They are primarily being tested and have been FDA approved in Canada. They’ve done a lot of research, but they’re still compiling all of the information so they haven’t really released that, or at least they hadn’t at the time I was doing the research on it.

Should I talk about the cost?

BRIAN NORTON: Yeah come a certainly.

BELVA SMITH: $15,000 currently.


BELVA SMITH: With that having been said, the companies actually saying they want everyone that will benefit from these to have access to them, so if it’s not something you can afford which is going to be the case almost always, they’ll take your information and try to help you find funding. From what I understand, it’s kind of like they’re going to try a Fund Me page that will tell a little bit about your story and hopefully people will donate to help you get a pair of them. They are portable. I think you did some research on it and said something about somebody possibly trying to drive with them. I’m not sure that’s going to be a good idea.

BRIAN NORTON: Yeah, some of the older technology like the Jordy CCTV back in the day. It obviously had no ability whatsoever. They are not made for that. These devices have a unique feature which at that was kind of interesting where you can actually take the virtual-reality glasses or the LED display that come down in front of you and flip them up where then you can just use your natural vision to be able to navigate. So to be able to walk around, you don’t have these screens in front of you anymore so you can actually just use what vision you have to be able to navigate normally, use public transportation, all of those different things. Which I think is fascinating because before in some of the older technology, you had to have this device on in order to use them. There was no way to kind of momentarily take it off. I think that’s a neat feature of it.

BELVA SMITH: That was actually one of the things about the Jordy that some of the folks that I worked with that use it, they wish that they would’ve been able to just gently flip it up. Instead they would have to push it up. It does also have, or appears to have two stretchable straps that go across the top of your head and across your forehead, similar again to the Jordy. It has a control center, is what I’ll call it. On that control center you can do things like adjust your level of magnification and also adjust your color filters.

BRIAN NORTON: Color and contrast. It has quite a bit of functionality.

BELVA SMITH: But it’s pretty small. It’s no bigger than an iPhone. You could easily drop it in a shirt pocket or a pants pocket.

MARK STEWART: Belva, would you say that the main difference is the form factor, is the mobility of it? The logic of the technology seems to fall in line with the high-end video magnifier or CCTV. What did you see some features on it that are specific to it?

BRIAN NORTON: I think the premise of it is just the mobility that you can take it with you. You can put it on. Those kinds of things.

BELVA SMITH: And you are hands-free. For example, several of the folks that I’ve worked with that have used the Jordy in their job, they need to do things with tooling or machines specifically. Currently without the Jordy, they are looking at having to have a magnifier that is either behind them or attached to the device. This is something they are putting on their head and they can use their hands to make the fine adjustments that they need. I think the fact that it’s like putting it on your head and being hands-free.

BRIAN NORTON: In my opinion, is a really interesting application for low vision magnification system. It’s a bit expensive which may make it prohibitive for people to use it and purchase it. But I think it has application. Obviously the older technology had its place and in amongst the things we did with job accommodation and other stuff. I think it has its place. It’s a little bit cost prohibitive at this point.

BELVA SMITH: Two things I would like to see, obviously, is the price to come way down, and just for it to be smaller, to not be so big and obvious to wear. And just to add a little bit more to what you said, Mark, and this is going out there to the girls. One of the videos that I watched was a mother seeing her baby for the first time. If you think about the bond that developed between a mother and the baby, especially if you are breast-feeding, I don’t want to have to hold my handheld magnifier up there to see my babies face. And I’ve got those glasses on, I can look down and see the baby’s face.

BRIAN NORTON: They had several user videos on the website of people actually using it. What was neat about it is the actual show the vision of what it would be without the glasses, what you see now come and then what they see with the glasses. For folks with central vision loss with it’s kind of like a donut hole in the middle of your vision, and big spot in the picture you are looking at, these glasses would help compensate for that. They could see the whole picture as it is which is really emotional for a lot of the folks in the videos to be able to see those things as they truly are. Quite fascinating device.

WADE WINGLER: I have a couple questions. First of all, Mark, did you just drop your football a couple of seconds ago?



WADE WINGLER: Mark has this new tradition is he brings toys to the studio when we record this show. We didn’t say it last week, but he had these huge Incredible Hulk fists that he was wearing while we were recording the show. Today I came in and there was a bowling alley set up. Now you just got your football.

MARK STEWART: And then the radio show starts and I get really serious.

WADE WINGLER: And then a serious question. What happened to Jordy? Obviously we can’t speak on behalf of Enhanced Vision, the manufacturers, but it just sort of went away. At something that I hear routinely that people miss that technology.

BELVA SMITH: The people that relied on the Jordy really relied on the Jordy. What I was told because I had a consumer who needed to have a pair repaired, so I contacted them and was told that they were no longer producing them because one little teeny tiny piece that they needed they could no longer get manufactured. I don’t know if that’s the real story, but that’s what I was told.

BRIAN NORTON: That’s what I was told as well. Again, I’m not sure if that’s accurate or not. But they don’t produce that anymore. There’s a gap.

WADE WINGLER: There’s definitely a gap there.

BRIAN NORTON: That had its application for the folks that we met with.

BELVA SMITH: But I’m not sure. I think the Jordy was around $4 or $5000 if I’m not mistaken. Maybe a little less than that. But I’m just not sure that at $15,000 we can testify that even if it is going to help a person do their job.

WADE WINGLER: It has to come down.

BELVA SMITH: Right, it has to come down.

MARK STEWART: Those are kind of beta prototype prices.

WADE WINGLER: Well, the benefit is clearly there. We see a lot of technology – and have learned this new term recently, face space. Things like Google Glass and Holo Lens, this technology that is on your face that is used for augmented reality. And we are going to get some economies of scale with that stuff. As those devices become more prevalent in the mainstream, I think we’re going to see some benefit in terms of cost to the assistive technology world.

BELVA SMITH: And when you think about the Google glass and how small it was come and then you look at these, it’s like why do these had to be so large? I can understand them being a little oversized. They look pretty big. I wore the Jordy for 15 or 20 minutes one day just think what it felt like. It does get very heavy on your head after a while.

MARK STEWART: A lot of people developed headaches for quite a while until they get used to it. It was a drawback for sure.

BRIAN NORTON: Question number 6: will digital accessible books and proofreading for students with dyslexia? Just a couple of comments on that, it’s a pretty broad question.

WADE WINGLER: No, it won’t.

BRIAN NORTON: Maybe it will. It really kind of depends on who you’re working with, if an accessible book would work for them. I guess the question, in our experience, has digital accessible books improved reading for students with dyslexia or other learning disabilities?

MARK STEWART: The answer certainly is a yes, but sometimes it’s a maybe. The deeper answer is sometimes it’s now. I kind of defined dyslexia as an issue with the processing of two-dimensional symbolic information specifically. That still leaves a pretty broad topic. But if you look at multiple intelligences theory, if you just bring it out to be 3-D, now they may not have as much of an issue. If you bring in other ways of learning like auditory learning, that might be a method of processing that really compensates or is a pathway that either there is no problem or might be a strength for them. That’s kind of the premise it plays off of, that if there is this issue of gathering information from the traditional page, the two-dimensional symbolic information that so prevalent still in school and today, and you simply use under the processing channel, then that can be a wonderful thing because now the information comes in and the channel where there was an issue is bypassed at least for the most part and you’re off to the races and are learning. So multimodal approaches to learning.

But if you really look at it, everybody is an individual. The term dyslexia is kind of an umbrella term. What if the person has an auditory processing disorder? What they have an issue with that other channel that would be used for bringing in the audiobooks? Again, often there arguments out there and theories out there about dyslexic syndrome and things like that and how it’s often the case that, neurologically, one or more channels are dampened or there is a little bit of an issue. And then that individual or other channels are actually heightened. We see that a lot, as we all know and are all nodding right now. But you said the absolutely — Wade is shaking his head no — but to say that the channels that process two-dimensional symbolic information, when those are dampened, the auditory processing channels are always a strength that always are a great way to compensate for traditional reading, that’s not the case.

BRIAN NORTON: Right. As far as accessible materials, obviously they have the folks that do require them. I think they are useful and should always be looked at as an option for folks that may have dyslexia or just that print disability being able to take that two-dimensional processing information. As far as those accessible materials are, where can you guys get those? I know in the K-12 environment they have something called accessible instructional materials, especially here in Indiana, it’s AIM. There’s also the NIMAC, which is the National Instructional Materials Access Center. Those are good places for kids in K-12 environments to be up to get readily accessible materials in different formats.

MARK STEWART: Also,, are two other resources that are pay — is an annual subscription?

WADE WINGLER: I think so, yeah.

MARK STEWART: It subsidized, but you also subscribe. I know Learning Ally is. I think Learning Ally is $150 a year. The nature of those sites are they have volunteers or professionals who read textbooks and other popular books in an audio format for the person to listen to.

BELVA SMITH: I think you’re going to find more of your educational material at the Learning Ally versus Book Share. That’s been my experience anyway. Mark, is it often just a common misconception that if someone says my son has dyslexia, he needs his books to be audible, is that — for me, I know people immediately say when someone is visually impaired, oh, we just need to make everything bigger which is a common misconception. Is that kind of the case with dyslexia?

MARK STEWART: I don’t mean to say this out loud, but I quickly am really glad you asked the question because I was wanting to expand a little bit and clarify. That allows me to do that. It’s not a misconception because of the commonly the case. Also, if you’re going to take a shotgun approach to helping somebody with a specific learning issue, if you just simply — I don’t say this in a sloppy kind of the way – if you throw the multimodal approach to learning at them and to let them learn through different channels and different trade of ways, it often helps a lot. But you guys agree? That shotgun approach, at least you’re hitting the target better than you were. Usually in such a way that is just not sloppy, it just helps to mix it up and learn creatively. But specifically, it really is true. The point to be made and the clarification should be there that what really is going on, the specific question is does learning by listening help somebody who is dyslexic? It very often will, but in certain individuals and not just a negligible amount of individuals come it would really be the best answer. You might have somebody who is very visual-spatial and highlighting certain colors help a ton. But the auditory piece just doesn’t help. Actually a kind of distracts them, and they don’t like it. The dyslexia isn’t the most severe version of dyslexia and then they also have an auditory processing disorder that’s undiagnosed. So now if you push books on them because someone heard that that’s what’s really supposed to help, you may be missing the mark and you may be causing more of a problem. That really can happen. I see that in my practice.

BRIAN NORTON: Are there common tools that you guys use for those folks? Assistive technologies?

MARK STEWART: One of the great things about the and Learning Ally is that it is a human voice. Of course, a naturally sounding voice is a positive. The Kurzweil Win from Freedom Scientific, Read and Write Gold, Claro Read, these programs that are suites of software, digitized software that play off of the multisensory approach to learning, one of the key features in them is using optical character recognition software to use of the highest forces to read things back. Again, as we know, even though if you really think about it, the synthesized voices are a heck of a lot better than — I’m dating myself here — Max Headroom. They are pretty impressive, but they are not human yet, right? But when we are out there looking with the kids, we don’t get a lot of complaints because it just coming to the auditory channel. They are like, that they voiced, I’ll use it. Thank goodness it’s just flowing now. I’m learning now. So those programs that take the digital text, use optical character recognition software to convert it into synthesized speech, and then another benefit of that is it’s very controllable. They can repeat it, add highlighting with it, adding layers of technology that helps.

BELVA SMITH: And have it spelled out too, most often.

BRIAN NORTON: Absolutely. And I’ve just found, just in recent years, the availability of e-text. So even through universities, it is through your disability resource Center or the adaptive education services, they all call those departments different things at different universities, but most universities have a department specifically dedicated to folks with disabilities to be able to set them up with the academic support that they need. If you go to them and say I need access to digital textbooks, they are able to convert those and find those for you. And then using those assistive technologies, that text is just so readily available nowadays. It’s made the technology, audible books, such a possibility for folks.

WADE WINGLER: I’ve got something I’ll add in there. In the higher education level, sometimes is readily available, sometimes bit of a challenge. I still hear a lot of students who struggle with getting materials. It’s not necessarily about getting them, but it’s about getting the right book at the right time, before the semester and before finals and stuff like that. I think a piece of advice would be if you are in college and you know you’re going to get accessible materials, start that process as early as possible. Work with your instructors to figure out what most experts are going to be. The other thing I’ll add on in the K-12 environment, there is the NIMAC, but I didn’t understand originally that you can’t just access the NIMAC if you’re a student or a parent. You really can’t even directly access the state center for that. What you need to do is go to your digital rights manager. Every school or every school system should have someone on staff who has been designated as the digital rights manager. That’s kind of their job to bridge between the individual student and the state resource center and then eventually get information out of the NIMAC which is that federally supported and maintained database of all the materials. If you’re in college, go to the DSS office or the disabled student disability office. If you are an K-12, look for the digital rights manager.

BELVA SMITH: That’s exactly what I was going to say. For folks who are visually impaired or blind, often what I will here is the semester is halfway over and I still don’t have my book. So the sooner you can get the information to the DSS office, the sooner you’re going to be able to get your materials.

BRIAN NORTON: Right. And I’ve heard estimates from students and from DSS offices about we need their textbooks six weeks before they start class because some places send them off to be digitally scanned, and then they edit them, and then they return them to the student. Sometimes there is a tremendous wait period. A lot of students wait till 4 to 6 weeks before classes start to even decide what they are doing the semester. There is a huge lead time. Going back to the K-12 environment, the person that’s in the school, the digital rights manager within the school, sometimes I’ve been to school, and the person’s been identified but only on paper and they are not really sure how to get access back over as well. That can be quite a challenge. Definitely advocate in those areas and work to be able to get access to those materials you might need.

Last question. It’s a wildcard question.

WADE WINGLER: Guys, this is something I decided to throw on you. I’m the only person in the room who knows what the wildcard question is going to be. I thought this might be a fun thing to try. I don’t know if we will do this again. You guys get the questions a few days in advance and kind of know what we are going to talk about so you have some ability to prepare and maybe not sound totally uninformed.

MARK STEWART: Belva and Brian get the questions in advance?


WADE WINGLER: But I wanted to upset the apple cart a little bit figuratively and literally today with a wildcard question. What about this Apple Watch that is all about the media these days? Obviously shortly after the release of the show come Apple is going to start taking preorders on a watch that will cost as little as $350 for the cheapskate model and upwards of $10,000 for the super Apple-created gold version. They are talking about the fact that it’s going to be an amazing way to do timekeeping. It’s going to help you connect in new ways. It’s going to be the wrist version of what’s on your iPhone. It’s going to incorporate things like Apple Pay. They are even going to be special apps made for it. I got an email from Evernote last week saying hey, we are doing Evernote for Apple Watch, and it will be a way that on your wrist you can capture notes and capture information and have it go straight to your Evernote account. From the perspective of assistive technology and for people with disabilities, what you guys think? What will we see with Apple Watch that is a big deal?

BRIAN NORTON: I was just going to say I’m super excited about it.


BRIAN NORTON: I think in assistive technology, wearable technology is kind of the new horizon. We have dedicated devices for magnification, for communication and all these different things. We have iPhones and iPads and others mobile devices, but those are all things you have to pull out of your pocket or out of your backpack or purse to interact with. Having a wearable piece of technology that you can interact with day in and day out is just going to be really helpful, specifically for a lot of folks that I work with that have cognition issues where maybe it’s the executive functioning kind of things, being able to start and stop tasks, being able to know when I need to do something and where to go from there. I’m just really excited about the technology.

MARK STEWART: Not losing it, not dropping it.

BRIAN NORTON: Right. And then of course the hands-free. We are kind of covering the benefits of the hands-free when you are talking about the glasses earlier. To have your device right there, lightweight —

BELVA SMITH: I quit wearing a watch years ago, but I am so going to start wearing a watch again.

WADE WINGLER: Wait a minute. Which of you guys are going to spend minimum $380 on a watch? Brian, I know you are a cheapskate. You are not going to spend $10,000 for a watch.

BRIAN NORTON: I’m sure hoping my employer pays for it.

WADE WINGLER: Hold your breath.

BELVA SMITH: Mine’s going to be on my Christmas list.

BRIAN NORTON: If you want me to stay productive.

BELVA SMITH: Here’s a question that I have because I find both ways. It’s my understanding that for my watch to work, I still have to have my iPhone in my pocket.

WADE WINGLER: Yep. And is either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connected so sucked on battery life.

BELVA SMITH: So I’m going to pay for two data packages?

WADE WINGLER: I don’t think so. There is still a lot coming out that we don’t know about this yet. But I think the watch is going to be an add-on to your iPhone so you’re going to have your iPhone and your watch — because the watch doesn’t work on its own. They won’t collect without the benefit of the phone.

BELVA SMITH: And the latest iOS update was to make the phone be compatible with the watch, is my understanding.

WADE WINGLER: And to put an icon on your desktop to sell you the watch which was interesting.

MARK STEWART: That sounds like a smart idea. I haven’t been way under the hood with it, but it’s not trying to be a phone in an extremely crunched down space, and maybe it’s not as powerful, it’s partnering with the phone.

BELVA SMITH: It’s primarily to answer your phone. I don’t think you’re going to be able to push a button and make a phone call from the watch —

WADE WINGLER: That’s not true. It’s got a touch interface on it and you’ll be able to use voice activation to speed dial somebody in your contacts. It’s going to have the ability to run apps specifically on your watch. It still got to be tied to the phone in the background, but the thing I got from Evernote made me believe that you can reach down, touch or watch, dictate a note and it will show up in text in Evernote. It’s good to have some health apps that are specifically right there on that app. I think you’re going to get a text message, you’re going to look down and see it on your watch. I think you might dictate a response. I think you may enter the phone like Dick Tracy, the call comes in, touch it and answer it or place a call that way.

BELVA SMITH: I did hear that you would still have to use your phone to make the call. However, it does make sense that the two are marrying together, that I wouldn’t have to pay a second data plan.

BRIAN NORTON: Again, I go back to, maybe not for me personally in my work environment, I’m easily able to get my phone in and out of my pocket to interact with it. However, for folks that I work with the need that executive functioning, that prompting and queuing, I think it’s got a huge application for them in the workplace to be able to keep them on track and keep them on cue with what they’re supposed to be doing at different times of the day to make sure that they’ve checked it all off when they put their timecard in the time clock.

WADE WINGLER: I think there is a bit of a double edge sword there because I think about my daughter. She’s going to turn 18 this week. She’s always looking at her phone and she is texting and responding and all that kind of stuff. I think about people her age with learning disabilities or not only using it for a social outlet but who are relying on that phone as a cognitive support to get throughout the day. You may look at the kid and say why is your face buried in the phone all day when you don’t realize that they are using it as a cognitive prosthetic. In this case, they might just glance at their watch. That might be a less dogmatic sort of situation.

MARK STEWART: It’s almost so obvious we didn’t say it out loud, but folks with physical challenges.

BELVA SMITH: And it’s going to look cute. It’s going to be nice to look at. It’s not going to be big and gaudy and make you feel like you’re standing out. People are going to go, oh, wow, look, Brian has that amazing watch on his arm.

BRIAN NORTON: I kind of feel like it will be like when people originally started carrying around iPads. That was in expensive accessory for folks who really could afford an iPad. I think initially that might be my reaction. Oh, they’ve got the money to purchase and Apple Watch. But I think as time goes on, I think we will see everybody’s got something like that.

BELVA SMITH: But there are expenses watch is already, right? There are $7, $8,000 watches that the wealthy are wearing anyway.

MARK STEWART: You get those mixed diagnoses of physical and cognitive and you have those organizational needs that you were speaking to, Brian, but you just don’t quite recommend an iPad to help a student, for example, get around campus because of the form factor problem, the potential to drop it, even the weight of an iPad. This could really turn the corner on those things.

BRIAN NORTON: I’m a little afraid in my house with my daughters, I got two daughters. Just the distraction. It’s another way to distract them from things. So they’ve already got iPhones, but they are not actual phones. They don’t have a plan with them at all so they connect to Wi-Fi and do different things on that. But I see them on those devices all the time, and we try to take them away and keep them put away for certain periods of time so we can have real interaction. Let’s go outside and play. Just one more electrical device in front of someone is going to distract them.

WADE WINGLER: Ah, dad, come on.

BRIAN NORTON: I know. That’s just me as a dad.

WADE WINGLER: Party pooper.

BELVA SMITH: I’ve actually seen something. I don’t know what it was called and I don’t know much about it, but I’m going to go ahead and mention it because I was thinking of it as I was sitting here looking over it. There’s actually a company that’s trying to develop a circular cell phone. Apps are actually being traded specifically for that circular screen. Talk about drop factor. I can’t imagine holding onto a circular —

MARK STEWART: Talk about rolling down the hill.

BELVA SMITH: Exactly. You drop it and it rose away from you.

WADE WINGLER: It’s like carrying a hockey puck in your pocket.

BRIAN NORTON: Interesting.

WADE WINGLER: Here’s one thing as a move on from this. Guys in the listening audience, send me what you want to have as the wildcard questions. If you send those in through the regular channels, I’ll catch those before everybody else sees them. If you guys want to try to stump the panel, send in your wildcard questions and we’ll throw them in.

BRIAN NORTON: Here’s how you can find our show. Search assistive technology questions on iTunes. You can look for us on twitter or visit us at Also please call in chime in. We’d love to hear your questions. In fact, without your questions, we really don’t have a show. Be a part of our show. Listener line is 317-721-7124. That’s a great way to get your voice on the show. You can also send us a tweet @ATFAQ, #ATFAQ. You can also email us at

BELVA SMITH: We didn’t get to say our goodbyes.

MARK STEWART: We didn’t get to say goodbye.

BELVA SMITH: We can’t just be dropped.

MARK STEWART: We never get to say goodbye.

BELVA SMITH: The same way we say hello, we have to say goodbye.

BRIAN NORTON: Pretty soon they’re going to want to tofu, the green room, I’m going to have to get a certain type of chair for Mark. For Belva I’ll have to get a certain type of water.

BELVA SMITH: And to turn my chair this way next time.

BRIAN NORTON: It’s that Figi water I have to get Belva.

WADE WINGLER: Brian, are you going to say goodbye to these people so they won’t complain?

BRIAN NORTON: Yes, I will. Goodbye.


I just want to thank Belva, Mark, and Wade for being a part of our show today. I appreciate it. Have a great week.

BELVA SMITH: I want to thank all of you guys for sending in your questions because it gives us a chance to answer your questions and ask our own questions as well.

MARK STEWART: Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everybody.

WADE WINGLER: I’d like to thank the Academy…

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 steward 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

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