Panel: Brian Norton, Mark Stewart, Belva Smith, and Wade Wingler
Q1. Are there any AT books I should read?
Q2. Can I use a bluetooth switch with a YouTube video?
Q3. Can I save a YouTube Video to my home screen on iOS like I can with a website?
Q4. Is there a good calendar/reminder app that works on multiple platforms (Android and Apple)?
Q5. What computer access options are there for a person with CP and a speech impediment?
Q6. If you can only use one device, phone, laptop, etc. What would it be?
Send your questions: 317-721-7124 | email@example.com | Tweet using #ATFAQ
——-transcript follows ——
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 22. I want to welcome our panel today. I have the guru of everything visually impaired and sensory over there in the corner. She’s giving me the ice, but that is Belva Smith. Belva, welcome.
BELVA SMITH: Hi guys.
BRIAN NORTON: Also I have Mark here as well. Mark is the guru of everything ability and cognition here at Easter Seals crossroads. Mark?
MARK STEWART: Hey again.
BRIAN NORTON: And also Wade. Wade is — we don’t know quite what weight is.
WADE WINGLER: What am I the guru of?
BELVA SMITH: Everything.
BRIAN NORTON: Wade Wingler, host of the popular show AT update. Welcome.
WADE WINGLER: Hey everybody. Happy to be here.
BRIAN NORTON: I want to give a shout out to new listeners here and mention ways to submit questions. That’s our whole show. Our show is about assisted technology questions and answers. If you have questions, please send those to us. We do love to get your questions. One of the best way to send it to us is by giving us a call on our listener line. That line is 317-721-7124. Or you can reach out to us through email at email@example.com. Or if you like to tweet, you can send us a hashtag #ATFAQ and we will collect your questions. We put them into future shows.
BRIAN NORTON: Without further ado we will jump into our questions. Our first question is from a listener who is asking some questions about assistive technology books. She says, I am fairly new to working in assistive technology. Are there any books I should read, and particularly useful websites I should check out?
WADE WINGLER: Nope.
BRIAN NORTON: I guess the answer is no.
WADE WINGLER: Don’t read. Why would you want to read?
BRIAN NORTON: Absolutely there are.
MARK STEWART: Yes. But there are lots of books and websites we will send you to. Absolutely there are books.
WADE WINGLER: But don’t start with Cook and Hussey, right?
BELVA SMITH: Don’t start with that one.
WADE WINGLER: Go ahead Mark. Come on you big nerd.
MARK STEWART: Why not go right to the source? Be as objective as possible. Principles and practice, which is kind of the Bible of assistive technology, if you will. It’s the authoritative book. It is used a lot in classes.
WADE WINGLER: It’s a graduate level textbook.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s deep. It’s thick. It takes a while to read through. It’s got lots of big words, lots of explanation, but it really does get a flavor of assistive technology through everything, PT, OT, speech, into electronics, behind it into the laws, all that stuff. It’s a very deep book. It takes a while to get through.
WADE WINGLER: It’s big enough that Brian and I teach a couple of classes online at Vincennes University. That book is big enough that we actually break that textbook out between two classes so you use half the text perform class and the other half of the textbook for the other class. It’s got so much stuff. It really is a big impressive tome.
MARK STEWART: In all seriousness, you want to match up with her background. One person might start with that one, one person might start with something else. I think Cook and Hussey, in their first chapter talk about their target audience being allied health professionals of the graduate level, PT, OT, speech, and then the takeoff that kind of language. They do speak to other folks, but they admit that that’s their target audience. Could and Hussey because of that and being formal about that have another book that plays right off of the book we are talking about. The second book is called the essentials of assistive technologies, which is really Cook and Hussey written for — it’s not just this, but the example would be where the core – the first book, the main textbook, the core audience might be a Masters level occupational therapy student. Essentials book is written for a coda certified occupational therapist assistants.
WADE WINGLER: Kind of those paraprofessionals, right?
BRIAN NORTON: Right.
WADE WINGLER: It’s like Cook and Hussey lite.
MARK STEWART: It’s like Cook and Hussey lite. The fact of the matter is certain educational levels bring in certain semantics and wordings is up like that. It’s appropriate to use certain types of language. One of the ways you can look at it is to say the essentials of assistive technology is going to be an easier read but still right on target.
BRIAN NORTON: Still hit the main point all the way across the bigger book. A couple of other books on assistive technology that I have found useful in the past. There’s one called assistive technology in the workplace, and that also assistive technology in the classroom. Those are two books that, as Wade mentioned before, we teach a couple of classes at local universities about assistive technology. I have looked at those as potential books for my classes. They are actually really good. They are obviously focusing one on the workplace and the other on the classroom. You also mentioned wanting to know about websites.
WADE WINGLER: You guys are assistive technology all day in and out. I’m guessing you’re not grabbing a textbook off of your show for any day-to-day assistive technology information, at least on a regular basis. You are looking somewhere else.
MARK STEWART: Correct.
BRIAN NORTON: Right.
WADE WINGLER: That would be where?
BRIAN NORTON: It’s one of those days where we stand around and look at each other.
MARK STEWART: It’s a different kind of day. We have a lot of answers but we are looking around at other people to answer the question.
BELVA SMITH: I’m going to jump in and say that when I got started, if I would’ve picked up the Cook and Hussey book, I would have put it down and said assistive technology is not for me. Here I am some 15 years later realizing I guess it really is. It’s one of those situations where my career really found me rather than my finding it. I found it to be really helpful. I don’t know what area of assistive technology this particular person is starting in, but I found it particularly helpful for me to explore the companies or makers of assistive technology that I was going to be working with. Since my area is visual, I started looking at all of the manufacturers of the adaptive software and their websites and their training materials to try to come up with my materials. Even if it’s not vision, I’m sure that starting with the manufacturers of the technology is a good place to get started.
BRIAN NORTON: Absolutely. To go along those lines, a couple of other really good websites. The first one I would throw out there that I go to, even now, just trying to get an understanding of disability and accommodation in the workplace because that is where we work, we’re looking at a lot of vocational outcomes. The job accommodation network. I don’t know if you guys have been there. That’s www.askjan.org. They have several useful tools which really look at breaking on accommodations for different types of disabilities. Really good information. They will even let you give them a call and ask them questions or submit questions to them. Oftentimes they will get back to you with information and resources to look into. I would also say the WATI, the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative. INDATA is the tech act project here in Indiana. That is the counterpart in Wisconsin. They have put together a really great resource for manual for folks. It’s really focused in on K-12 education. They talk about students and it is pretty much does all the way through the entire book. You can replace that with employee or anything and it really does give you quite a bit of good information about the assessment process and looking at different things and things to consider.
MARK STEWART: This is interesting. This person is new to assistive technology. They don’t necessarily speak to assistive technology professionals. But to address this person’s question, we want to make sure that they know that the certification that matches up best with assistive technology is the ATP which is through RESNA.org. One of the reasons we are talking about Cook and Hussey in their books is because that’s commonly used as study material for getting your assistant to get your professional certification. There is ATP exam’s secrets, which is a Cliff Notes, and there’s also ATP exam flash card study system as another one. Even if you’re not going to get your ATP right away, they would be a lot of good information in there. What about the EnableMart?
BRIAN NORTON: Different manufacturers websites, EnableMart, kind of the wholesalers of assistive technology. There are several of them out there. EnableMart is probably one of the biggest ones. EnableMart.com. There is also Info Grip as another big wholesaler of assistive technology.
WADE WINGLER: I’m not sure I would classify them as wholesalers because they are retailers, but they are sort of just being online vendors who have a larger variety of different kinds of assistive technology.
BRIAN NORTON: MaxiAids.com, LS&S Products.
MARK STEWART: Stores that specialize in assistive technology from a very wide perspective.
BELVA SMITH: I think the fact that they are listening to our podcast is important too because there are lots of different podcasts that a person can find online about assistive technology.
WADE WINGLER: We need to plug hours. I think you might have mentioned it, Brian. If you head on over to our website, www.eastersealstech.com. We have new stuff every day. We have YouTube videos and blog post and the podcast and all that stuff.
MARK STEWART: And I guess your local tech act project. We don’t know that this person works for —
WADE WINGLER: If you’re looking for the assistive technology act project in your state, we list that on our website, www.eastersealstech.com/states, and that will give you a listing of all the different programs around the country.
BELVA SMITH: And check your area for different shows, like the expo for assistive technology.
BRIAN NORTON: Many times you will find there are those assistive technology – I don’t want to call them fares – the Expos.
MARK STEWART: ATIA.
BRIAN NORTON: A collection of defenders and providers for assistive technology.
BELVA SMITH: And look for your users and get as much experience and knowledge from them as you can.
BRIAN NORTON: Don’t forget if you have a question you would like to send us, give us a call on our listener line. We would love to hear you. That’s 317-721-7124.
Our next question is from Carol. My name is Carol and I’m a teacher of the blind and visually impaired in New Mexico. I would like to know if there is a way to use a Bluetooth switch —
WADE WINGLER: Brian, you skipped part of that message. She says and I have been listening to your podcast since late last year and a much enjoy them.
BRIAN NORTON: True.
WADE WINGLER: You’re being humble.
BRIAN NORTON: I wanted to get to the heart of the question. She asked I would like to know if there is a way to use a Bluetooth switch with an iPad while interacting with YouTube videos. We have a mobility impaired student who is highly motivated to move for videos, especially the powwow dancers. There must be a particular videos on YouTube. He has profound mobility issues so we need something highly motivating to increase movement. I did do a little research on this. There is actually a website which makes YouTube videos accessible through switch. You can turn them on, activate them with a switch, and deactivate them with a switch and play and pause. There is a website called specialbites.com. You will go there and be able to walk through a process of making that YouTube video visible for you. On the left-hand side, you will find video switch access. You can click on switch access any video and that will take you to a website where it will actually walk you through how to make that work. There is a PC and Mac version as well as a iPad version. I found that is a pretty easy way. I tried it out and it does work pretty well.
WADE WINGLER: That’s a pretty cool website that does that on its own. I love the fact that you can basically make it work with any YouTube video. I guess if someone has switch access already on their iOS device or on their computer, and they load up a YouTube video, you can activate the space bar with switch access and simulate the space bar . That usually plays and pauses YouTube videos while you watch them. The solution may already be there and it is just about is there a more convenient, easier way which it sound like special bites is a one and done solution for that. If switch access is already worked out, then you have got that. If you haven’t done switch access or you don’t have that whole process worked out, obviously any regulation is going to be good. I’ve been impressed with iOS and iPhones and iPads and how you can do some basic switch access just using the device. It’s pretty cool stuff.
MARK STEWART: Let me try this. We only have so much information in these questions. She speaks to USB connection to a PC. I just started thinking about, one of the things she’s asking about is the Bluetooth, the wireless aspect to it because he’s going to be moving around so much and she doesn’t want him tethered. Check out gettecla.com. It is a Bluetooth switch activated device.
BRIAN NORTON: That is a good thing to throw out there, different Bluetooth switch is that you can find. There is also the Blue 2 from AbleNet.com. That is a pretty good switch as well. Also RJ Cooper has a couple of Bluetooth adapted switches.
WADE WINGLER: RJ has been doing it for a long time. He’d been doing it for a while when I started it 20 years ago. He is one of the fathers of the industry.
BELVA SMITH: I think you can go to him with “How can I?” And he figures out how to, right?
BRIAN NORTON: Yeah, he does.
MARK STEWART: And if this consumer is in a power chair, check with the vendor of that power chair because there may be some switching of modes capable so they can use their joystick for the device as well.
BRIAN NORTON: If you haven’t done so already, take some time and send us a tweet. If you’re on Twitter and you’re by your computer, send us a tweet with the hashtag #ATFAQ with your questions. We would love to add those to future shows. The next question we have is has anyone developed a Bluetooth keyboard designed for use with iOS, which includes a refreshable braille display?
BELVA SMITH: No.
WADE WINGLER: Really?
BELVA SMITH: Not that I am aware of. I read this question several times. I assume they are looking to have a QWERTY keyboard and a braille display all in one device. The only way that I am aware that you can do that is by using one of the notetakers that have a QWERTY keyboard such as a Braille Sense U2 or the Apex. It’s a very expensive answer to this.
BRIAN NORTON: There are less expenses, but braille, keyboard inputs, right?
BELVA SMITH: Yes, but they are wanting both. There have been, in some of the forums for the last couple of years, several folks have suggested that Apple may be developed QWERTY keyboard with a braille display all in one type thing. I don’t think Apple is ever going to do that. Unfortunately no, there is not one device on it in one of the expensive notetakers that are around $5000. The only solution that I am aware of – and I have plenty of folks that are doing this – they will use the Bluetooth iOS keyboard or the Logitech and then one of the 14 braille displays like the smart beetle or focus 14. You are talking less than $1800 to have both of those inputs.
BRIAN NORTON: I would almost guess the form factor relates a little bit to that, if you’re trying to use a mobile device or an iOS device as what she mentions, just form factor would be a little bit with a QWERTY keyboard. You have so many keys and it makes it a little bit bigger, a little bit more bulky. With a braille keyboard, you’ve got probably eight, nine keys on top of their. You can fit it into a smaller, more compact device. It probably keeps them from designing the QWERTY style for mobility purposes. I’m not the manufacturer. I don’t get into design and stuff like that. I would think that would probably have impact on why there isn’t something like that at this point.
BELVA SMITH: I think the biggest reason is that there is so much that changes. Each time the iOS gets updated, or oftentimes, the input method or the combination of cords and things you use changes so much that I think Apple just doesn’t want to be responsible for that. The fact that I was devices are compatible with over 50 different braille displays – if you’re using the smart beetle and one of the small QWERTY keyboards, it doesn’t take that much room to throw in them both into your backpack. Maybe don’t need them both in your backpack. In fact, I have a client right now, she uses her braille display 90 percent of the time. 10 percent of the time, when she wants to type a letter or something like that, then she will grab her QWERTY, only because she is not as fast with her Perkins style keyboard as she is with a QWERTY. But I’ve seen plenty of folks that are just as fast if not more with their Perkins style keyboard.
WADE WINGLER: Plus there are a ton of cases for your iPad that have a keyboard built in as well. If you’re talking about the extra size and space, if it is just built into your case, then that is not a lot bigger anyway.
MARK STEWART: Right.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is I have a friend who is looking for a good and not to expect the calendar app that will work both from her iOS, her iPhone, and from an android phone. They would like the app to allow both of them to access the changing of calendars, setting alarms, etc., allowing them to set multiple alarms. In addition, it would be helpful if there is a way that an alarm could get off at a set time in the morning with a list of everything on the schedule for that day. Looking for a pretty sophisticated and a sharing calendar.
BELVA SMITH: I was going to say free sound like a good price to me. I think they are asking for some features that we might not necessarily find in the free. The reminder in the morning of everything that has to be done in the day, I don’t know. Does Cozi do that or is it just a reminder for a particular appointment or meeting?
BRIAN NORTON: One of the calendar apps I use a lot for folks, especially folks that may have some issues with cognition, executive function, profiting and queuing or whatever – we need to be able to share that amongst folks, whether it’s a college student and we want mom or dad to be able to be actively involved and help manage their calendar and where they’re going each day. I used a Cozi calendar a lot. It is a web-based platform, so you can access it from an android phone or iOS phone or a computer. It allows you to be able to add and see multiple calendars at once. Then you can set up who can add and take away and manage that particular calendar and add those alarms and settings and whatnot. It is a great calendar app. I believe every time you go to it, you can get the full day layout of what is happening and you can see everybody’s calendar all at once. They are color-coded so you can tell who is doing what each day.
BELVA SMITH: So Cozi isn’t just one family shared? I thought it was a family shared calendar. It is one calendar with all of the family appointments?
BRIAN NORTON: It is one calendar but you set up multiple users. I have one for my family, so my daughter can go in and add her own appointments. But they are going to show up in the whole family calendar. We see it all together at once.
WADE WINGLER: Cozi is C-O-Z-I. why wouldn’t something like just a Google calendar with your regular stock reminders work? I am a Siri guy, and I’m always telling Siri – I use Siri to do things like remind me to take out the trash Tuesday morning at 5 AM. It will remind me to do that and I can set up a repeated reminder. We have a family calendar as well with sort of a similar situation, but we are using a free Google calendar and you can have your appointments trigger a reminder 15 minutes before. It’s not as sophisticated as something that is a dedicated reminder app, and I know that you use Aida Reminder a lot and there are some others that you have had pretty good success with because they are more sophisticated reminders apps. In this situation, I think is a Google calendar because that will come across all of the different devices, will work on your laptop, your PC, will work on your android phone or iOS phone.
BELVA SMITH: I think to address the specific question about is there a way that, in the morning, a reminder can come up and tell me about everything for that day, you can just create that good morning reminder, I guess, with a list for the day.
BRIAN NORTON: Sure. You could just look at your Google calendar. My wife works for a company that has 15 employees. Everybody shares and you can go in and see everyone’s calendar at once. You just pick and choose who you want to see at any given time. They all come up. It’s a great way to do that. The only question I would have is permissions. I don’t know how Google calendar works with permissions. Although I can see your calendar, can I go in and edit your calendar? Maybe that is something in the background settings you can change.
WADE WINGLER: I think you can set it up so you can decide who has permission to change it and edit it and set them up. I think that is there. It’s not a simplified interface. Google calendar take a certain level of cognition and understanding to make it work. I guess another one I would look at, have you guys messed with choice works calendar? It’s an app that is available on iOS. I don’t think it’s available on android. It is a calendar that has picture schedules, allows you to set up reminders. It is a little more kid friendly, although as a look at the interface and I’ve messed with it a little bit, it’s age-appropriate for pretty much anybody. It is not so kid-ified that an adult wouldn’t want to use it, but it is simplified. It allows a caregiver or family member to help manage the calendar behind the scenes. That might be an option. They have choice works calendar and then just the choice works app available. Choice works is more like your to do list or your work sequence or your task list in your calendar includes the ability to schedule. It’s about a five dollar app. It’s available on iPad.
MARK STEWART: iPad only.
BELVA SMITH: She is definitely asking for something that can be both android and iPhone.
BRIAN NORTON: There are several reminders apps. Wade mentioned them briefly as he was talking and jumping about the Google stuff. A couple of really sophisticated reminders apps that I’ve used for particular clients. I’m not going to say the name right. I never say it right. Aida reminders, or there is also the Reminders app. Those are what they are called in iOS. I believe the Reminders app has an android version of it. Both of those are really sophisticated where you can set up multiple alarms and it also gives the user the ability to snooze an alarm if they are not – maybe they are involved in something and are trying to finish something before moving on. They just want to snooze it for five minutes. It’s like your alarm clock in the morning. They will also not only set up a list view of the upcoming tasks or appointments or whatever you have, the reminders you have for the particular day, but they will also throw it into a calendar view as well. I’ve used those.
BELVA SMITH: Is that one free?
BRIAN NORTON: Both of them, I do believe, cost a little bit, but they are fairly inexpensive. I would say probably five dollars or less.
BELVA SMITH: That might be a home run for them because I know that they are asking for the ability to have multiple alarms.
BRIAN NORTON: That will let you set up as many alarms in a row. You can have it go off two hours, an hour and a half before, an hour before, a half-hour before, 50 minutes to four, five minutes before and so on. It will make sure you are ready for whatever is coming down the pike.
Just to rep that question up before we jump into our next question, we mentioned several things. The Cozi calendar; we talked about Google calendar; we talked about Aida reminders; and the Reminders app. Lots of different options there. Definitely check those things out as you look at a good, inexpensive calendar up for yourselves.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is, I have a student with CP and a speech impediment, and he needs a program that can help them to type more efficiently in classes. He has tried a laser headset with an on-screen keyboard before, but would prefer something else. What other options might I consider? I’ll throw that out to folks.
WADE WINGLER: You need an evaluation. We always default back to that. There are so many variables.
BELVA SMITH: There are a lot of different options here. I don’t think we want to immediately jump out and say voice input because I don’t think they are looking for that. They really want him to do the physical input. There are lots of different keyboards and things that we can do. Mark does amazing things for individuals with keyboard access.
WADE WINGLER: I guess if I were going to rephrase the question, if you guys, as seasoned assistive technology people, were going to be packing up to do an evaluation and all you knew was that it was a student with CP who had some challenges in their speech, what would you pack up for the evaluation? What would you take with you in terms of the list of stuff you might consider? Does that make it easier or make it worse?
MARK STEWART: I was working really hard to answer the original question and was just about ready and you rephrase that. I’m not sure. I’m in between. Voice recognition technology, head navigation technology, eye gaze technology, switch access technology, different types of joysticks. To go back to the question as written, yeah, I initially hesitated because this is one of those things where actual eyes on and an assessment would be so necessary. Let’s create some conversation here. The fact that they are saying that there is a speech impediment and they tried voice recognition, so of course that’s respected, but I frequently have not, in reading the question, ruled out that I might be able to get voice-recognition to work better than they’ve done it to work in the past.
WADE WINGLER: Just to clarify, it doesn’t say they tried voice. They tried a laser and it didn’t work well. Voice isn’t totally ruled out.
MARK STEWART: I’m sorry. They say speech impediment. They never tried –
WADE WINGLER: We don’t know. Speech is impaired but it still may be viable.
MARK STEWART: Sorry about that. I haven’t ruled out that voice-recognition technology might work. We do a lot of work, and as you guys know I do a lot of work with folks who have a relative degree of speech impediment, and we still get voice-recognition technology to work. What I want to throw out there for conversation and for the listener to consider is that the reason that we might still work pretty hard to get somebody with degrees of speech impediment to use of voice recognition technology is because of how functional it can be compared to other input methods if we get a degree of function. While we never want to push the person too hard, we want them to be comfortable with it, we want it to be fun for them and easy for them. Usually function is really fun. If physically their voice is okay and their endurance is okay and maybe we use some tips and tricks on how to manipulate their voice or manipulate the software, we may very well be able to get better results with voice remission, even in a stripped-down – a lot of times, a stripped-down, modified use of voice recognition technology is still more functional than input by hand.
WADE WINGLER: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said if you met someone with CP and tried voice input with them and you think there is no way that’s ever going to work with somebody whose speech is that, I’ll say but we do some amazing work here. I’ve been totally floored when you guys have been working with folks who have CP. The person with CP thought there was no way I’m going to use voice input. In the end, a combination of doing things a little bit different, tweaking it up, they become very functional with it.
MARK STEWART: Exactly. The fact of the matter is we really pride ourselves in doing consumer centered work. But it just happens all the time for us here that we meet someone and they say I’ve tried was a condition technology already. By the time they are done, there like oh, no, this is totally different. Now it is working.
BELVA SMITH: I’m actually that person. The very first time that I saw Dragon and actually bought it and try to use it, I was like, this is just garbage. It doesn’t work and I’m going to get rid of it. Then five or six years later when I saw it, I was like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. As Wade said, when I’ve seen some of the things we’ve been able to get folks to be able to do, it’s like oh, yes, this is definitely amazing technology. Mark, even if we can get the voice-recognition software to work accurately and they like it, they would probably still need, or at least I would suggest that they have a second input method because the situations where they may be get a cold. There are a ton of different shapes and sizes of keyboards and supports that can be used immediately. When I think of someone with CP, I think of the many keyboards just so that they have a smaller area that they have to be up to motivate. Sometimes something as simple as holding a pencil rather than using their fingers. That’s not going to be a very fast input method, but certainly an option for a second.
MARK STEWART: One of the things you are touching on, if we are talking PC and Dragon NaturallySpeaking, Dragon NaturallySpeaking works seamlessly in tandem with physical input. Why not do both? I don’t quite know how to answer the point about what degree of speech impediment and things like that. I do have assessment tools and questions, but it’s pretty involved and you need to meet the person. It would take a long time just to spell it all out over the radio. Moving on to physical access, which we want to do both together, one of the main concepts for conversation is where do they have points of volitional control. We don’t know what this person’s background is. Maybe they are an occupational therapist. You want to consult with your team and find those points where they can voluntarily move and control something with hopefully fine motor control and endurance so that we can access a switch or to stick or access a mouse or even use the keyboard. If we don’t have anything in the hands, maybe we have something in the feet or the head or the shoulders. Where are there points of volitional control? Then you come in with the tools and try to get as much function as possible. But we’ve got virtual on board keyboards and we can do scanning, reverse scanning’s and those sorts of things. There are key cards which are really interesting to go over the top of keys, joystick input, switch input.
BRIAN NORTON: There are a lot.
MARK STEWART: We are going over everything with regards to physical input.
BRIAN NORTON: I will jump in there. I’ll run through some things that run through my mind. The voice input stuff, I think you are spot on with that. I think for a lot of users, they just need to be patient and the process. We all rushed to say I want to see it work out of the box. If it doesn’t necessarily work out of the box, then we put it onto a shelf. Patients, especially with today’s Dragon and other voice input software —
BELVA SMITH: And good training.
BRIAN NORTON: — It’s gotten good enough. If you are hooked up with a local expert in assistive technology and a traitor who is versed in the Dragon much like Mark is, you can get it to do some pretty amazing stuff. The keyboard stuff, I always look for ways to simplify thing for people. Abbreviation expansion software, word prediction software is going to help them get more input and more quickly on the computer if they have to use a keyboard. One of my favorite keyboards for folks who have spasticity or tremors is the Intellikeys keyboard. I really like that. It’s got large key regions so if you have targeting issues, trouble trying to target a particular letter and you often hit two letters at the same time or even if you target well but you can’t get your finger back off the key in time and you end up putting multiple inputs into the computer at once, so multiple L’s or multiple S’s because you couldn’t get your finger off that. The Intellikeys can address that.
BELVA SMITH: That what I like because it has multiple keyboard layouts.
BRIAN NORTON: Different layouts, also puts the mouse and keyboard directly in front of the user. Another thing to think about is mounting. Mark mentioned where can they consistently asks us things. By moving a keyboard in a particular location or maybe not always out there in front of someone but off to the left or off to the right, you’re going to find there are different places where people, if you met them in a particular location, they will be able to get access to that much easier. Mark mentioned switch access or the skinning capability. And then Eye Gaze is also something that is on the forefront. It’s coming along and getting less expensive. That will make it more of a game changer for some folks down the road.
MARK STEWART: Eye Gaze is really coming on. I think I was just talking with a colleague before this. To put you on one side, he recommended LC technologies. I think it’s eyegaze.com. You can look into Eye Gaze. If you haven’t tried it in a while, try that as well. There may very well be some reasons – if we are talking about the diagnosis of CP – why the laser pointer and on-screen keyboard didn’t work well. It’s interesting how somebody might have a C2 very high-level spinal cord injury, but they have enough neck control or head control. The way they control their neck allows that device to work better and more reliably and with less frustration than somebody with CP. But frankly, if I was going to come in and assess, I would respectfully revisit the question as well to see what product they use and how they used it, how it was calibrated. The Smart Nav 4 is a device at naturalpoint.com. It’s a device we’ve had a lot of success with.
WADE WINGLER: Like I said, you need an assessment.
BELVA SMITH: I was going to say. That’s exactly what I was going to say. We’ve given a lot of good information here, but honestly this person should really have an assessment.
BRIAN NORTON: If you’re looking for someone to do an assessment, you should reach out to your local tech act project. Wade mentioned it earlier in the show, go to www.eastersealstech.com/states and be able to find your local tech act project. If they don’t do it themselves, they would probably be able to refer you to someone who can provide that type of in-depth assessment to find out the right tools for the particular situation.
MARK STEWART: I don’t know how you guys are going to put this in, but I have to bring something up. Position, position, position. Somebody mentioned in there, but tone, all those sorts of things just change dramatically depending on how the person’s position. Always remember that. We met yet. What works in one position may not in the other and vice versa.
WADE WINGLER: And now it’s time for the wildcard question.
BRIAN NORTON: If you haven’t done so already, go ahead and give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124. Send us your questions. We would love to hear from you. We always love when people give us a call on our listener line because then we can do you on the show live. We will tell your voice out there on the show and ask your question.
WADE WINGLER: Very gently.
BRIAN NORTON: We won’t throw you very hard. The next question we have is our wildcard question of the week. This is when I turn it over to Wade and he asked us an off-the-wall question.
WADE WINGLER: It’s already that time. You always say off-the-wall. I guess it is off-the-wall.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s because we just don’t know what it’s going to be.
WADE WINGLER: I was thinking twice this week, I was in a meeting or in a situation where I needed technology to either take notes or to do research or to have technology with me. One situation I have my phone, and iPhone, and I said I don’t need nothing else besides this phone to go into this meeting and be totally productive and get my job done. In fact, I thought that day I could probably do a whole job with just my iPhone. If I didn’t have any other piece of technology, I could probably use my phone was nothing else. Then I made the found myself in a meeting where I needed to type a bunch and I thought, man, if it wasn’t – what I really need is my laptop. I really need my laptop and I could do my whole job without a phone if I just had my laptop with Skype or FaceTime or whatever. It boiled down to I think we are getting to the point where you can almost do all of your technology with just one device, maybe an exception here or there. The question is if you could only use one device and you had to get by without any other technology, what would it be? Would be at a notebook computer or a tablet like an iPad or a phone? If you could only have one device to get your job done, what would it be?
BELVA SMITH: Do you want me to go first?
BRIAN NORTON: Sure, go ahead.
BELVA SMITH: It would be my phone, because though I can use Skype or some other method of making a phone or placing a phone call, is not as easy as I can with my phone. My day relies heavily on my being able to receive in place phone calls along with everything else. Typing is very cumbersome with the small on-screen keyboard, so I’ll just have to get used to that if I can slide in a Bluetooth keyboard. But I think it would be my phone because my phone is a tool that will allow me to do so many different things that I do on a daily basis and make my phone calls and receive them easily.
WADE WINGLER: I suppose if I said you could have a Bluetooth keyboard, then that’s cincher for you, right?
BELVA SMITH: Absolutely.
MARK STEWART: It’s the smartphone. It’s a really interesting question in the sense that three years ago, it would have been my laptop. I miss my laptop right now, but if you took my laptop away, I would be forced to adapt to use the smartphone more. I think I could get it done now if you had asked that question three years ago, I would be sweating about whether I could even get it done. The question about the keyboard that Belva brought up, I’m thinking of voice, using my voice so much more. As you are asking that and take my laptop away, one of the first things was how can I handle – wait a second, I’m really starting to write paragraphs by voice onto my phone anyway so I would start to anyways. It’s processing power. When we get to that point, example, for example when laptops really became laptop replacements at a reasonable cost. Now we are waiting for and going to see where smartphones kind of are doing what those additional desktop placements computers could do. I would say that’s not quite there yet but in a couple of years smartphones are going to have the processing power.
BELVA SMITH: They call it a smartphone for a reason.
BRIAN NORTON: For myself, if I had a smartphone, I would say probably the smartphone, but then I think to myself if I didn’t have a smartphone, people couldn’t call me. It would be harder to reach me. My day would probably go a lot better. The other thing I would have to do if I did just have a smartphone is I would have to get one of those bigger phones itself. I am now 40 and I can’t see as well as I used too. Seeing on a tiny screen, I have an iPhone six, wishing that I had the 6+ because it’s hard for me to even see the iPhone 6 now. I would have to get a bigger screen or an adapter for my iPhone to be up to send it off to a monitor.
BELVA SMITH: You only get one device. It’s funny because as soon as you said that, I was thinking you don’t need to see it. You can listen to it. Mark says I want to see is my voice input — It’s hard to do corrections with that. But that’s funny that you immediately went for voice input and I immediately went for voice over.
MARK STEWART: I’m going to try to track something and see how much it blows up on me. Your wildcard question in a recent episode had to do with form factor as well. This is it’s a question, but there is a little bit of that going on. Try this on for size. The question with regards to new technologies, the conversation is very new. It’s a burgeoning conversation about processing power compared to how big it is in your hand. People are guessing around, like I will carry my iPad around today. Wait a second, that’s not what I wanted. I wanted my phone. Everyone is trying it out and stuff like that and they don’t really have a language for it. Try this on for size. Guns, having nothing to do with your view on guns overall, but guns have been around for hundreds of years more, and I think if you go into those circles, there is a whole language and environment as far as this one fits my hand just right and I don’t like this one because it’s weighted wrong compared to the caliber. It’s just a much richer conversation than it is with regards to do you want an iPad mini or an iPhone six.
WADE WINGLER: That is an interesting parallel. We are in Indiana so we talk about fire lumps a little more around here. I think that parallel also exists in the area of hand tools. This cordless drill versus this right angle drill. I think there are a number of tools where the form factor in size and preference and all that stuff sort of figures into it. What does it feel like and how powerful is it and does it to the right job? Could you get by with this particular one even though really the other one is going to do a better job.
MARK STEWART: Just a couple of weeks ago I was talking to a contractor try to talk drill a little bit. He said I use this 12 volt, and I said I’ve got an 18 volt. And he goes, yeah, but my guys are doing it all day long and they get tired. The 12 volt way so much less and it has enough power.
BELVA SMITH: Let me ask you got a wildcard. Imagine your day without your phone. Really, what you said, if I took her phone away from you tomorrow would you be able to do your job all day?
BRIAN NORTON: Know, but I would have a slice of heaven.
WADE WINGLER: You would like it better. I think I could for the simple reason that I still have the phone icon in the dock of my iPhone, but I’m going to move it. I use my phone so little that it doesn’t even need to be one of the main icons anymore. We have our voicemail set up here so that it goes to email. I’m in a position where I get to delegate phone call sometimes, so there are times when I get a voicemail and I say Brian this one is for you.
BELVA SMITH: But don’t to use her phone? You don’t travel like we do, but don’t you use your phone for GPS?
WADE WINGLER: I do.
BELVA SMITH: Immediately for me I can remember back in the day when I used to have to print that my big 10 page MapQuest directions to try to get somewhere, where now I am putting in the address and getting there. For me immediately I think no one would be able to reach me and I would be able to get anywhere. I would be lost without my phone.
MARK STEWART: I used to buy spiral-bound atlases and have tabs.
WADE WINGLER: I am in the position where I do a lot of research and writing of big, long, ugly documents, big proposals and grant applications. I’m thinking I couldn’t get by with just a small screen for a big 35-page Microsoft Word document with two appendices. I can’t swing it with just my phone. But I could get pretty close, especially if I did it in Google doc or something.
BELVA SMITH: I remember, it doesn’t seem like that long ago that we put an iPhone in my hand for the first time and I was thinking I don’t need this. I just need my phone to ring when someone is calling. Wow did that change quickly.
BRIAN NORTON: We’ve become very dependent.
WADE WINGLER: One of the things that I have heard here and I think is true for me is I can do either. I can get by with one or the other. They would be some pain points and some things I can do quite as well, but I think I could live with just a laptop or I could live with just a smartphone. I think I could pull it off, which is very different than it was even five years ago.
BELVA SMITH: But they removed all the payphones, so how am I going to return the phone call if I don’t have my phone?
WADE WINGLER: Face time.
BELVA SMITH: Yeah, but you can’t face time or Skype everyone.
WADE WINGLER: You can Skype a phone number. I do it on the show all the time. It costs $30 per year but you can set up a Skype account so that I can dial landline phones.
BRIAN NORTON: Enough people have cell phones now. One of the things we did with my 13-year-old daughter, we didn’t want to get her a phone until she was 13. Although it would’ve been much easier for her to have a phone at certain point when we can find her or she was at school and we needed to get information to her, we just kept telling her you don’t need one. All of your friends have one, just borrow theirs.
BELVA SMITH: But you probably told her do not allow your friends to use your phone.[Overlapping Speakers]
BRIAN NORTON: That got us a few extra months out of that not getting her a cell phone. We decide borrow your friends. They have one.
BELVA SMITH: I put phones and my boys’s hands, and they’re in their 30’s now. I put phones in their hands when they started driving, and I told him these are for emergencies only. But I think now if I were raising a child, it would be very different. I think I would want him or her to have a phone well before driving.
BRIAN NORTON: There is a safety thing there now.
BELVA SMITH: Absolutely.
BRIAN NORTON: Thanks everyone, thanks callers and e-mailers that sent us your questions. Thank you panel. I appreciate you guys. Belva, thanks for being on the show.
BELVA SMITH: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
BRIAN NORTON: Mark as well and Wade.
MARK STEWART: Thank you. Have a good week.
WADE WINGLER: Always a good time. Thanks for having us.
BRIAN NORTON: Great. Again, if you are looking for our show, you can find it by searching assisted technology questions on iTunes, or you can look for us on stitcher. Or visit ATFAQshow.com. Also send us your questions. You can do that by calling our listener line at 317-721-7124, send us a tweet at hashtag #ATFAQ, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We definitely want your questions. In fact, without your questions we really don’t have a show. So be part of it.
MARK STEWART: If I may, if you have comments, send them in, call in. We really have fun with that. We are having a good time with that.
BRIAN NORTON: Any questions you have or answers or what to add to answers, we also play those on the show. We want to make sure that we have this community going.c
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 www.accessibilitychannel.com.