ATU287 – 2016 Holiday Shopping Episode – Part 1


ATU Logo

Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

287-11-25-16 – Holiday Shopping episode – part 1
Panel: Wade Wingler, Brian Norton, Nikol Prieto, Josh Anderson
Gift ideas:
Comfy gloves used for touch screens –
Amazon Echo –
Ditto –
Real Food Blends –
RoadID –
iPhone 7 –
Bradley Classic Mesh Watch –
Snow Coach –

If you have an AT question, leave us a voice mail at: 317-721-7124 or email
Check out our web site:
Follow us on Twitter: @INDATAproject
Like us on Facebook:


——-transcript follows ——

Happy Holidays from the Assistive Technology Center at Easter Seals Crossroads. This is your Assistance Technology Update.

WADE WINGLER:  That Christmas music in the background can only mean one thing, that it is yet again time for our Assistive Technology Update Annual Holiday Shopping Show, where we set around in the studio here – we break from our regular format of news and apps and interviews, and we talk with our friends about what is going on for the holidays and what kind of assistive technology gifts might be new, interesting, novel or appropriate and cool for folks who have disabilities. We are going to go around the room here and introduce everybody. First I have to give a shout out to my friend Nikol. How are you?

NIKOL PRIETO:  I’m great. How are you?

WADE WINGLER:  Good. We’ve been doing this – this to be our sixth year where you and I have been the common denominator. I am the super Christmas fan and you are the resident Scrooge. How are you feeling as we come up on the holiday season?

NIKOL PRIETO:  It’s a little easier this year because we are recording a little later. We always use to do it in October.

WADE WINGLER:  We’ve done it at Halloween before which was a little bit weird.

NIKOL PRIETO:  Easier to get in the spirit when it’s getting closer. It’s cold and things giving is around the corner. The one while I’ve got you can’t tell everybody about who you are and what you do at Easter Seals crossroads.

NIKOL PRIETO:  My name is Nicole Prieto. I’m the community outreach coordinator for the INDATA Project. The INDATA Project is our grant side of the assistive technology department here. My job is to go out and talk about our program and educate people about what we do here.

WADE WINGLER:  Excellent. To my left we have my friend and colleague Brian Norton who is our Director of assistive technology. This is your second or third holiday show with us?

BRIAN NORTON:  I can’t remember. I think it’s just my second show here. Super excited that it’s Christmas time.

WADE WINGLER:  Brian has been Mister Christmas this morning.

BRIAN NORTON:  We arty have our Christmas decorations up at home. We put that up the day after Halloween. My wife and I were out for dinner, we came home, and our daughters had already decorated the whole outside with lights. We just had to complete that. Super excited. I know it’s not thanks giving yet –

WADE WINGLER:  As we record, that is true. We release the show on black Friday, so the day after things giving. We record this a little bit before Thanksgiving knowing that on the day it releases we will be off and with our families that day.

BRIAN NORTON:  Rest assured I will enjoy Thanksgiving, but I’m really looking forward Christmas.

WADE WINGLER:  Brian, tell everybody a little bit about your role here.

BRIAN NORTON:  I am the director of assistive technology. I’m not sure what I do day today.

WADE WINGLER:  We aren’t either.

BRIAN NORTON:  It seems like a hodgepodge of different things. Really just oversee the day-to-day operations of our clinical assistive technology team and also mostly the INDATA Project which is the federally funded assistive technology act for the state of Indiana.

WADE WINGLER:  How long have you been working here?

BRIAN NORTON:  It’ll be 20 years.


BRIAN NORTON:  February 3 of next year. Almost 20 years.

WADE WINGLER:  Nicole, you been how long?

NIKOL PRIETO:  In this position, since 2010. I’m a boomerang so I used to work here in the employment division.

WADE WINGLER:  You are getting close on that aggregate 10 year mark.

NIKOL PRIETO:  We are getting old.

WADE WINGLER:  Last but certainly not least is our new guy this year who is not a new guy. We have Josh Anderson who is the manager of our clinical assistive technology program. Both Brian and Josh are regulars on ATFAQ which is our other assistive technology show where we answer questions from the community about assistive technology. Josh, how are you?  Are you ready?  Are you geared up for the holiday show today?

JOSH ANDERSON:  I am. I’m pretty excited. Maybe not as excited as Brian.

BRIAN NORTON:  There’s always time to work up to it.

WADE WINGLER:  Josh can’t tell everybody about your job here.

JOSH ANDERSON:  I managed the clinical side of assistive technology. I provide direct services and also work with our funding sources just to make sure we are providing the best services to everyone that we serve in the community all across the state.

WADE WINGLER:  Excellent. We are glad you are here and we promise to take it easy on you today as your inaugural holiday show.

JOSH ANDERSON:  Thank you.

WADE WINGLER:  We are going to come back here in a second and start talking about some of our first assistive technology gift ideas that we have. After that we are going to answer some questions about what everybody’s holiday plans are and some holiday traditions and things like that. Today’s show will sort of be a mix of technology and holiday spirit. We are in a laid-back, festive mode here. We are glad you are with us today and we will come back with some technology.


WADE WINGLER:  We are going to kick off the tech side of the show. We are going to go around the room and each one of us has done a little bit of research on some technology that we think might be a good gift idea, or we also had people send these ideas to us. I guess it’s important that the beginning to say we are not recommending these things necessarily. These are things we learned about, we think might be cool and interesting. Your mileage may vary if you try these products. We are going to do our best to make you aware of them and let you know what these things are.

Brian, we are going to start with you. I know you have something interesting here.

BRIAN NORTON:  I realize we are coming off the warmest year ever hear in the United States. These may or may not be needed for a while because it is still supposed to be 70 in Indianapolis on Friday. Something I always enjoyed – I use my phone a lot in the workplace, and I have a lot of the folks I work with in the community, folks with disabilities, use mobile devices with touchscreens and they need to be able to interact not only to have prompting and queuing for tasks throughout the day but also communication needs where they use a app on a mobile device to produce communication and be able to talk and interpersonal stuff like that. In the winter cut that becomes hard because your hands get cold and it is hard to be able to continue to use that device. Your device gets cold, your hands get cold. It’s a bad situation.

Having Comfy Touch screen gloves, and these have been around for a while. They used to have gloves with the metal dots that used to be in your index finger and other kinds of things for you to be able to interact with your phone. Now they are coming in with this – I don’t know if there is something metallic in the actual fabric itself that is will be in there. I went to a place called, and you can actually get a sixpack of these gloves. I believe they are around $15. In order to be able to continue to use your device and the cold weather, once it arrives, hopefully it will be here soon because who doesn’t want a white Christmas?

WADE WINGLER:  Absolutely.

BRIAN NORTON:  Eventually it will get here. To have gloves like that will be useful so you can still interact in a comfortable way with your mobile technology.

WADE WINGLER:  Excellent. Nicole, I know you have something that is fascinating.

NIKOL PRIETO:  I do. I think people are familiar with it but I want to talk about how cool the Amazon echo is. We have one here in our lab. It is a voice controlled, cloud-based smart speaker. That is really cool for someone who may not have the physical capability to access the music if you want to play your Christmas music. You can do everything with it. You can get on there, it has all hands-free control. You just ask — what’s her name?


NIKOL PRIETO:  I want to make sure.

WADE WINGLER:  People call it Alexa all the time. The product is actually Amazon echo, but people call it Alexa because that is the name used to activate it.

NIKOL PRIETO:  I believe you say hey Alexa?

WADE WINGLER:  I think you just say Alexa.

NIKOL PRIETO:  Just Alexa. Okay. You start the command with saying Alexa and they can link with spotify and all of your music. You can get directions. You can also listen to audiobooks on there. That is a need for someone who needs that hands-free control. It also does environmental controls — is it WeMo?

WADE WINGLER:  We connected to WeMo here in our lab.

NIKOL PRIETO:  You can control your light switches and things like that.

WADE WINGLER:  Brian has a thing set up so he says, turn on the living room, and it turns on a fan and light and this disco ball. Then he dances and it gets weird.

BRIAN NORTON:  Along with that, there is the Amazon echo, but they also came out with a small one this year which is a little less expensive. I think is the dot. Is that right?

JOSH ANDERSON:  You can get a sixpack of them so you can put them in every room in your house.

BRIAN NORTON:  Just a affordable way to add automation to your home.

NIKOL PRIETO:  That’s really cool. You can get it on Amazon right now for $179.

WADE WINGLER:  That is one of the examples of mainstream technology that is helpful as an assistive technology as well. I love to see that because if a product does well in the mainstream, generally it is less expensive. You will have more support and options in those things as opposed to some real specific assistive technology device that is only being used by a handful of people.

BRIAN NORTON:  I was at Lowe’s yesterday, so even in the hardware stores they had Amazon echo, the dot, other technology right alongside that. Who wouldn’t want to benefit from automating their home in some way, shape, or form?

NIKOL PRIETO:  Is the dot very similar to the echo?

BRIAN NORTON:  It is very similar. It’s the same cylindrical tube –

WADE WINGLER:  Like a hockey puck.

BRIAN NORTON:  But is much smaller.

NIKOL PRIETO:  Same capabilities?

BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, same capabilities.


JOSH ANDERSON:  It can do a lot of the same things. It doesn’t have as good of a speaker as echo does in order to play your music, but it can still listen to you. You can even use the echo to do your Christmas shopping. You can have it order things off Amazon just by telling it to.

NIKOL PRIETO:  If people can’t get out, that’s a great idea.

WADE WINGLER:  Cool. Josh, what is on your list?

JOSH ANDERSON:  The first thing I wanted to talk about – Belva Smith, who is our vision and sensory team lead, turned me onto this. It’s called the Ditto. It is a personal notification device. It connects to your iPhone, android device, and you can set up different alerts, and it will vibrate. You can wear it on your wrist, clip it to your shirt, and set up all different kinds of notifications. I know she has used it sometimes with some of the folks she works with who present as deaf/blind, so whenever their phone goes off they can know either who is calling, is it a text message, an email, but it can also work well for folks who have cognitive deficiencies, maybe need cueing so they need to know it’s time to go back from break, time to catch the bus. It only cost $35 as opposed to a lot of wearables, pebble watch, Apple Watch, those things which can get expensive and have features you don’t need. It’s pretty inexpensive and you can get it on Amazon. If you did have the echo, you can order it with the sound of your voice. Like I said, very small, pretty simple to set up. There is an app you put on your phone and you can set up notifications for all different kinds of things, alarms, alerts. It will sit there and vibrate either on your wrist, if you clip it to your shirt, or somewhere else, completely inconspicuous. If you’re trying to be quiet and not let people know you’re sitting there getting phone calls the whole time, you can use that.

WADE WINGLER:  That is cool.

NIKOL PRIETO:  We have a tech tip video on that where Belva did that. If people are interested in seeing that, it is on You can go and look at all of our tech tip videos we do on Mondays. Belva did that so you can see it actually working.


WADE WINGLER:  In fact, if you go to cut it will take you right to the YouTube channel and you will be able to find it there. You said that is Ditto?  Like a ditto machine?


WADE WINGLER:  The thing I wanted to talk about today actually requires a little bit of disclaimer before I jump into it. The thing I want to talk about is a real food blends. The reason it gets a disclaimer is Easter Seals Crossroads does a lot of services for folks with disabilities. We also have sort of a sister organization called Crossroads Industrial Services. This is one of the products that we package and are part of the supply chain for. The disclaimer is we benefit when people buy this kind of thing. We normally don’t talk about those things on a holiday show, but it is a cool thing. It is an option for people who are tube fed, so people who use those G tubes. Typically their Thanksgiving meal is going to be the choice of vanilla or chocolate or strawberry. That food is going to bypass their mouth and go right into the tube. There is a family operated company called Real Food Blends – full disclosure:  we are part of their supply chain. They do cool stuff. They do meals like beef, potatoes, and peas; or orange chicken, carrots, and brown rice; or quinoa, kale, and hemp; or salmon, oats, and squash. The idea is instead of a formula style meal for someone who is on a feeding tube, these are real foods that have been puréed and blended and made the right consistency so they work well with a feeding tube but don’t clog. You can find them at If you’re looking at pricing as I’m glancing across the website, they are generally sold at $50, but those are 12 full meal packs. If you break it down to the per-meal cost to it is a lot more cost-effective than you might think. If you are someone or know someone who uses a feeding tube and is really interested in what their holiday meals might look like, and things like beef and potatoes or orange chicken sound good, check out


WADE WINGLER:  Let’s talk a little bit about our holidays and some of the plans we have. I know some folks do the same sort of thing every year and are steeped in tradition. My family is in a place in our lives where we are reinventing tradition and figuring out what is going to be like. Brian can’t tell us a little bit about what you have going on in terms of holiday plans.

BRIAN NORTON:  We are going to be gone on holiday season, so between Christmas and New Year’s we are gone the whole time. We are going to be going down to spend time with our family and Bowling Green, Kentucky. That’s where my brother lives. My family and my wife’s family are coming down and we are going to spend some time down there together as a big group. But then I’m going further south. We are going to go to Panama City, actually take a vacation someplace warm.

NIKOL PRIETO:  White sand beaches my kind of beach Christmas.

BRIAN NORTON:  We go to this great place down there, off the beaten path cannot right in the middle of Panama City, just beautiful. During the winter, there is no one there. You have the whole beach to yourself. It’s not the warmest but it is warm enough. It’s super fun. We are going to take the week between Christmas and New Year’s and go down there and have a great time resting and relaxing and be back to work on the third.

WADE WINGLER:  Excellent. Nicole?

NIKOL PRIETO:  Nothing is exciting. I’m just trying to get to all the family. Spend a lot of time in the car, eating multiple meals, trying to sleep that often do it again. That’s about it. We go and do the typical things. We make cookies and watch movies and enjoy time with family.

WADE WINGLER:  Absolutely. Josh, big plans?

JOSH ANDERSON:  Right along Nicole, nothing as exciting as going to Panama City. We always spend Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family and go out to manure via and hang out with them and have a good time. On Christmas Day we are always low-key. My mom comes, we cook dinner, and watch Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.

WADE WINGLER:  Love that show.

JOSH ANDERSON:  Great movie. It still holds up. It’s actually still really good. We just hang out and do that. My wife had never seen it and so now she is excited to watch it every year.

NIKOL PRIETO:  I haven’t either and now it’s on my list.

WADE WINGLER:  Made in the early 80s or 80s.

NIKOL PRIETO:  I love the title already.

WADE WINGLER:  For us we don’t know exactly what all of our holiday plans are going to be like. We know we are going to spend some time with my in-laws, and of course we have three kids at our house. We have a 19-year-old who loves Christmas but I don’t have any idea what she wants except for clothes and money – how fun is that, right?  – But then we have a five-year-old and four-year-old who are right in the sweet spot of Christmas and the examiner goes along with that. I have probably mentioned in previous shows. One of the things I do in the holiday seasons is I spend some time in a particularly red suit and a beard and saying a lot of “Ho-ho-ho!” kind of stuff. Over the last few weeks as we record this, my schedule has been filling up with what we call red suit gigs which is where I go out to corporate parties and people’s homes and that kind of stuff and be the old man in the red suit during the holidays. That’s one of my favorite part as well. Like Nicole said, and everybody can’t just time with family, gearing down a little bit and relaxing and soaking up some of the reason for the season and the time to chill out a little bit.


WADE WINGLER:  Let’s go ahead and talk about our next group of assistive technology holiday gift ideas. Brian, we are going to start with you again. I know you’ve got something interesting there.

BRIAN NORTON:  One of the things I came across is from a company called Road ID. It’s, you can go out and check them out on their website. One of the things I found on their site that was interesting is they have an autism wrist ID. Again, it is one of those things if you are in an emergency situation or you are just confused and don’t know exactly what to do, you can come up to someone. It contains your name, address, phone number, important information so people can look up and see exactly who you are, who to contact, if there is medical information that folks need, they can have that on that wristband as well. This one in particular, if you purchase it, it gives back to the National Autism Association. What I find cool about this company is they have lots of different options for folks. This is a particular one that is specifically giving back to the National Autism Association, but there are other cool applications for it. You can get something that goes on your watches, your helmet if you’re a bicyclist, necklaces and other kinds of things. I thought what a great weight, it’s kind of a health and safety think for somebody.

You can actually spice up these things. You can put decals so you can make them look cool. It’s just not a generic ID that you wear. You can make them look pretty cool with different types of decals and things like that. Super interesting.

WADE WINGLER:  Excellent. Nicole, I know you have something lined up coming from the good folks at Apple. What have you got?

NIKOL PRIETO:  I’m going to talk about something my 12-year-old daughter once and is not going to get. I’m going to talk about the iPhone 7. Just talk about some of the features and some of the accessibility stuff. It’s got a new advanced camera, and there are two different screen sizes, a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch display. It’s got apparently the best battery life of any iPhone that has been. The speakers and sound are as immersive, which is the word they are using. The sound quality especially for people who are using it as a communication device if they are using any kind of apps that speak for them, the speakers are going to be a lot better.

WADE WINGLER:  It’s got two speakers for the first time. It only had one before.

NIKOL PRIETO:  Yeah, so that’s cool. I think people are really going to like that. I think people know a lot about the accessibility features in there, but they are continually trying to improve those. They’ve got voiceover which is a screen reader that is built-in for people with vision impairments. They are actually making hearing aids. There is a company they have partnered with doing hearing aids for the iPhone. But also built into that is where you can switch the sound to the right or left side. Even if you are not using the hearing aids, there are some options. You can make TTY phone calls without needing dedicated hardware right from your iPhone. And there are all kinds of features for anyone who has a learning disability. There is speak screen and speak selection and predictive text for people who have trouble figuring out how to spell the word. And there is a lot of switch control already built in, so it is accessible to work with Bluetooth enabled hardware like a sip and puff or button and joysticks kind of switch.

WADE WINGLER:  That is one of our perennial favorite to talk about, what is the new iPhone or the new iPad, because there are always so many options and good accessibility features.

Josh, we are going to talk about a watch?

JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah. As everyone around here knows, I really like watches, clothes, and that kind of stuff.

WADE WINGLER:  You’ve got the coolest watches.

JOSH ANDERSON:  My wife does really good to keep me in them. This was when I showed to her because I would love to have it. It has some nice accessibility features as well. It is called the Bradley Classic Watch. You can find it at Perkins School for the Blind. If you just search for it, it shows up in a couple of different places. It is right around $300 depending on what kind of band you get. It can be a little bit expensive. It just looks really cool. On the face of it, the numbers are raised. They are dashes. The 12 is a triangle; the 3, the 6, the 9 are all bigger so you can feel what the face is. Then it has two ball bearings. One goes around the outside of the device so it tells you what the hour is, and there is a ball bearing in the middle so they can tell you what the minutes are. If you were blind or low vision, you could feel down there and tell exactly what time it was. If you’re not blind or low vision, it looks cool.

WADE WINGLER:  It looks really cool.

JOSH ANDERSON:  It’s an awesome looking watch. When I found it, I started showing my wife, hey, look how neat this is — hint, hint, hint. We’ll see if that works out and hopefully she listens and hears that. Not to call her out on air. It comes in different colors. There is a silver, black, some other colors, different bands they can get. Really one of those things that is built for accessibility to help folks who might have a visual impairment that is really cool and would be nice to have even if you don’t.

WADE WINGLER:  Do you know, was it made specifically for folks who rely on that tactile thing, or is it one of those products that was made to be cool and happens to be accessible?  Either way it’s really cool.

JOSH ANDERSON:  Either way it’s really cool. I don’t know a lot about Bradley, the company or anything like that. I found it through Perkins School for the Blind. I think it might be one of those that was made specifically for an individual with a disability but then when it took a good look at it, they said everybody might like this thing.

WADE WINGLER:  It’s a cool looking watch. The thing I wanted to talk about in this segment was a sled. My kids love to go snow sledding. In central Indiana, the town we live in has a hill in the town park that is famous for snow sledding. When there is a big pile of snow, they will be hundreds of kids sliding down the side of this big hill. As I was think about accessibility related to that, I found a product from Flaghouse called Snow Coach. It’s a little bit pricey, $600 sled, but it is unlike any sled that I’ve seen before. It is designed for adults with disabilities. It is a sled that is big enough that you can put a 250 pound person on it. It’s got a smaller sled behind it so that the rider, presumably the person with the disability, sits up. It has some armored rails and some lateral side supports and a headrest so that the person is fully supported. It’s got some places where you can strap in knees and legs so someone doesn’t fall off. Another adult writer rides behind them standing up. The idea is you get going down the hill and the person standing up behind is pushing. They jump on the back sled that is attached to it and they go down the hill together. Plus it’s got a couple of different independently operating brakes that allow the person in the back to steer the sled or stop the sled before you run into some sort of an obstacle. It’s pricey. I would never imagine myself paying $600 for a sled. But when you look at it and what it offers in terms of accessibility in features and the fact that it would work with somebody with a disability of almost any size, it is a pretty cool thing. It’s sold by Flaghouse who do sports and recreation for folks with special needs. It’s $600, called Snow Coach.

NIKOL PRIETO:  That’s really cool. I think if you are a mom, having a break on that. Your biggest fear is your kid slamming into a tree. That’s neat.

BRIAN NORTON:  It reminds me of the – what is it?  The Iditarod?

WADE WINGLER:  The dog sleds?

BRIAN NORTON:  It looks like that.

WADE WINGLER:  Absolutely. Hopefully we have enough snow this winter to do something like that.


WADE WINGLER:  Thank you for joining us for part one of our sixth annual holiday shopping show for assistive technology ideas. Next week we will be back with the second half of this show. In the meantime, if you want to check out all of the different gift ideas we talked about today, head on over to, navigate to episode number 287 of Assistive Technology Update. We will have links to the items we talked about today.

WADE WINGLER:  Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Looking for a transcript or show notes from today’s show? Head on over to Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more shows like this plus much more over at That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana.

***Transcript provided by TJ Cortopassi.  For transcription requests and inquiries, contact***


Please follow and like us:
submit to reddit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *