Panel – Brian Norton, Belva Smith, Josh Anderson, Wade Wingler | Q1 Hebrew TTS on iPhone and Android Q2 Tactile Graphics of US and/or iOS Q3 Reminder apps to complete ADL’s Q4 Touch Sensitive Keyboards Q5 Translation from Italian to English voice recognition Q6 Higher priced mobile devices
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WADE WINGLER: Welcome to ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions with your host Brian Norton, Director of Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads. This is a show in which we address your questions about assistive technology, the hardware, software, tools and gadgets that help people with disabilities lead more independent and fulfilling lives. Have a question you’d like answered on our show? Send a tweet with the hashtag #ATFAQ, call our listener line at 317-721-7124, or send us an email at email@example.com. The world of assistive technology has questions, and we have answers. And now here’s your host, Brian Norton.
BRIAN NORTON: Hello and welcome to ATFAQ episode 65. My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of ATFAQ. We are so happy that you turned in this week as we get ready to jump into the AT questions you sent in. Before we do, I went to take a minute to introduce the folks that are sitting around the table with me today.
First off is Belva, the team lead for our vision team here at Easter Seals crossroads. You want to say hey?
BELVA SMITH: Hey everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: We also have Josh, the manager of clinical assistance technology.
JOSH ANDERSON: Hey guys. Good to be back.
BRIAN NORTON: And also the regular Wade Wingler is here.
WADE WINGLER: Hey, hey, hey.
BELVA SMITH: Regular Wade?
JOSH ANDERSON: Not the special Wade.
BRIAN NORTON: Most people get him in a couple of podcasts of ours.
WADE WINGLER: They get an overdose. I’m the only one that gets a first and last name. It’s Belva, Josh, and Wade Wingler.
BRIAN NORTON: We don’t want to confuse them.
WADE WINGLER: There are so many Wade’s.
BRIAN NORTON: As we jump into our show, I just want to make sure for new listeners that they get an overview of how the show works. We receive feedback and come across various assistive technology related questions throughout the week. We have a variety of ways people deliver those to us. We have a listener line which is 317-721-7124. We also have an email address that is firstname.lastname@example.org. We also have a hashtag in Twitter #ATFAQ. You can Tweet something that that hashtag and we will get it as well. We monitor that day today.
WADE WINGLER: You monitor it every minute of every day.
JOSH ANDERSON: He has already looked at it three times since we’ve been in here.
BRIAN NORTON: Just a variety of ways for you to get your questions and feedback. The reason I mention feedback as we set around and have some folks who have been in the assistive technology field and accommodations field for a long time. We have a lot of good knowledge that we like to share with folks, but we also know that you live and breathe that stuff as well. We would love to hear from you if you have other feedback that might be helpful for folks that are calling in with questions. We would love to hear from you. You can chime in with your feedback in those ways through our listener line or email or twitter.
Without further ado, we’re going to jump into our feedback today. This was in response to question three in our last episode, episode 64. We will take a listen.
SPEAKER: My name is Tom from Mesa Arizona. I have a hearing problem. I am blind too, but my ears are going bad, so hearing aids at over $2000 on Social Security doesn’t work out well. I’ve tried some apps and have found one that seems to be pretty good. It might help the question about listening at meetings. It’s Fennex. I’m using an iPad. So far it seems to be working good, except for when I talk, it is very close and loud so I might have to move it to the middle of the table at meetings. It does have some options in it that seem to be for theater and things like that. It might prove better than the other one I’m using, which I can’t remember the name of right now. Thank you very much for your podcast. I enjoyed very much and I’ll do the things you do.
WADE WINGLER: I love listener feedback. I really do.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s so nice.
WADE WINGLER: We sit in this room, not very big cat used to be for copy machines, and we answer questions. It’s nice to hear there are people out there that are paying attention.
BELVA SMITH: I think it is worth spelling out for us.
BRIAN NORTON: F-E-N-N-E-X. it’s an augmented hearing app. I took a look at it on iTunes and it looks pretty good. Essentially it turns your iPhone using either the earbuds that are connected or your ear pod — is that what they’re called?
WADE WINGLER: Yes.
BRIAN NORTON: Turns them into a personal amplifier for you. It takes the sound through the iPhone and amplifies it and send it out to your earbuds.
WADE WINGLER: Air Pods.
BELVA SMITH: I thought they were Ear Pods.
BRIAN NORTON: My bad. I do not have a pair of AirPods.
WADE WINGLER: I don’t either. I’m afraid I’m going to lose them.
JOSH ANDERSON: Did not call them Air buds because they’re afraid they’ll get sued?
WADE WINGLER: By the dog movie?
JOSH ANDERSON: Yeah.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s great feedback. Last week we had a question talking about being able to better here in meetings for someone who is hard of hearing. It does a great app, certainly something to try for folks to see if it would work for you. That’s Fennex augmented hearing app.
BELVA SMITH: I want to say that that’s another way we use this podcast. You pointed out that we have a lot of knowledge sitting in the room couple we also get to learn a lot of things from our listeners.
WADE WINGLER: More than you know.
BRIAN NORTON: We just love to hear that there are people out there listening to the show. A lot of times what they provide back to us is great information and we get to learn a lot as well.
BRIAN NORTON: Our first question came through email. The question is I am looking for a recommendation for Hebrew text to speech for both android and iOS. They were looking for any suggestions for that. I don’t know. I have a little experience with voiceover. Josh and Belva, I know you have more than me. My understanding is voiceover, you can turn on a Hebrew voice, right?
BELVA SMITH: I don’t know how many languages there are, but voiceover is available and a lot of different languages. I’m currently working with an individual who turns on Spanish, and I also just learned that Siri will also speak to him in Spanish and require him to speak to her in Spanish. I’m sure that is an option.
BRIAN NORTON: I was doing some digging into it, and I believe Hebrew has been one of those languages that it can turn on since iOS 8. I would assume that whatever it was in iOS 8, it’s better in whatever iOS they have now. We were just a sitting around before the show talking about the troubles of upgrading and that stuff. I think we mentioned it in the past couple of shows being careful as you do.
WADE WINGLER: It supports over 30 languages now.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s great. The other thing I was going to mention because the person that you mold us also want to hear about android. There is a text-to-speech for android, and I’m going to mess up the first name of it. It’s Aharon, text-to-speech for android. That is supposed to give you Hebrew text to speech for your android devices. I don’t think it’s a full-fledged screen reader. I think it is just text-to-speech. Think about as you select something and say speak it on your iPhone, I think that is more in line of what this will do for you. Is not a voice within talkback. I couldn’t find information on talkback and if it had a Hebrew version of that. Talkback is a screen reader for android devices more similar to what was over does for the iOS. Anyone have knowledge on that?
BELVA SMITH: I don’t, but I am wondering what his end goal is with this. What about Google translate?
WADE WINGLER: This is one of the things that comes up with these questions. We are talking about text-to-speech. It is not translating. I get that question a lot. Can you have your iPhone read in Spanish to me? It is only going to read in Spanish if your iPhone is working in Spanish mode. These text-to-speech engines that work with different languages are more about pronunciation and sounding appropriate. If you turn on voiceover on your iPhone, and you are running your phone in English mode like I do all the time, because you turn on the Spanish version of voiceover, it is not going to convert it to Spanish. It is going to pronounce whatever is on the screen with a Spanish accent. That’s something I run into with this question all the time. The technologies don’t translate languages. It is all about whether the voice is pronouncing it correctly or not.
BRIAN NORTON: It puts it in almost a foreign accent as it tries to read English.
WADE WINGLER: Exactly. Let’s pick the word lame. If you had your iPhone pronounce the word “lame” in English, it would say “lame.” If you had the Spanish version of voiceover, it would say “la may.” It would convert the word “lame” into the Spanish word. It would just pronounce it differently. I believe that is true with all these language kits. It’s just about the pronunciation. It doesn’t translate. That’s a near miss from what you are suggesting.
BELVA SMITH: About Chromevox? Is that available in Spanish? That would be the voiceover version, right?
BRIAN NORTON: For android?
JOSH ANDERSON: I don’t think talkback is available in a lot of different languages. I’ve never tried to use it before.
BRIAN NORTON: As far as our listeners are concerned, if you use talkback or have had this question for android, we would love to know the answer you have as well. I’m thinking Chromevox will work within the chrome browser.
BELVA SMITH: That’s why I said I wonder what it is he’s trying to do. Is he trying to use Google docs or read webpages or what?
WADE WINGLER: We don’t know because we don’t have that from the question. I have to assume when this question comes that they have, in this case, Hebrew language text on his phone that he is looking to have read out loud. The same would be true for other languages as well. I have to assume that you have the desired language on your screen and it is about the pronunciation.
BELVA SMITH: Hopefully he has an iPad or iPhone because he set.
BRIAN NORTON: Don’t forget, if you have feedback about that question about Hebrew text to speech or a different text-to-speech engine that might do better than some of the things we might have suggested, let us know pure we would love to pass that on, or as a listener listens to a future show, be able to provide that as some additional feedback with regard to that question.
WADE WINGLER: As a reminder can we can only deal with feedback in English because we are limited here. We really do love the foreign accents we get. Please speak in English.
BRIAN NORTON: Referred from folks from Jamaica and lots of unique places. It’s a lot of fun.
Without further ado, we are going to jump in to question number two. That rhymed.
Question number two is from Chris in Utah, a previous caller and listener. We will play his question over voicemail.
SPEAKER: This is Chris in Roy, Utah. I haven’t called in for a while but I do want you to know that my Victor reader and I have perfect attendance in both the frequently asked questions and the AT update podcasts. My comments today are for the frequently asked questions. I have two total at the title because it seems to me from this and that each question is only submitted much, not too frequently. Maybe you would want to consider updating your name and call it questions that might be more frequently asked if we weren’t all paranoid about appearing as dummies. Just a joke.
I have a couple of things. First I want to make a comment to remind her listeners as they are getting ready to update to iOS 11 about 32-bit platform apps not being supported any longer. If they go into their settings under general and down to the about section, they can open that up and see what apps they have on their iPhone. When they open up, it will also show them which ones are not being updated. So if they want to get rid of them and look at replacements before they make the upgrade, that might be a big help. I had 217 apps on my iPhone. There were only six that aren’t being updated. Probably one of the ones I use the most, iNote from the Bureau of engraving and printing isn’t being updated. I understand there are others.
The main reason for my call today is on November 4, I will be celebrating the ninth anniversary of me losing my eyesight. I’ve adapted pretty well. Through podcast and peoples help, I’ve made some real progress and have adapted quite well. I’m noticing as time goes on – and this would be a low-tech situation – that I’m forgetting a lot of things I used to know and be able to experience. One concern I have right now is the fact that I’m kind of losing a sense of where things are geographically as far as state, city, county, countries, also curious that astronomy has advanced so much that I would like to know more about a space.
My question is, is there a good source, hopefully a reasonable source cost-wise, where I obtained some tactile images of United States maps, world maps, solar system? When I was with Utah services for the blind and visually impaired, they had some maps that NASA had invited. Somebody had picked them up down at one of their offices in the southeast United States, really interesting to get size comparison.
BRIAN NORTON: Thank you for giving us a call. I love your suggestion for a new name for the show. I think we’re going to go ahead and stick with what we have copper thank you for that. Thank you also for the tip about the iOS 11 upgrade. I think we may have mentioned that as well on the show. That has been an issue. I think I mentioned the story how the day before a presentation, to 40 or 50 people, it came up on my iPhone that you have an upgrade available and I made it. The show just so happen to be to a lot of folks who are blind or visually impaired, and a lot of my six or seven of the apps I was going to show ended up not being compatible with iOS 11. I got a little stuck that morning until Belva sat down with me and help me find some replacements. Definitely be careful as the upgrade. It’s important to make sure when you do upgrade that things will work for you the way you thought they would.
As far as tactile maps, that is a challenge. I think most of them would agree that over time that stuff probably does start to fade and become harder to figure out geographically and how to find things. I did some digging on where you can find some things. What I found was there is not a lot available. I know LS & S products, MaxiAids, APH, sell some basic stuff like a map of the United States which gives you the outline of states. Nothing on outer space. I couldn’t find anything on outer space that you are asking for. With LS & S products, MaxiAids, APH, they have some pretty basic stuff that covers states and countries and world maps but nothing too detailed, which I’m sure is where you are headed with what you’re asking.
The other place I would look at, lighthouse for the blind and visually impaired. They will create some tactile maps. They actually have an email address where you can inquire to get more information on that. It’s called the email@example.com, is the email address where you can go to say here’s what I am looking for, can you offer it to me. I’m sure it’s something that would be a paid service but I’m not really sure. Certainly something to check out.
JOSH ANDERSON: Depending on how much detail you are looking to get cat you could also use a swell paper. If you do have a computer and printer at home, you can print it out with that and heat it up and it raises up off the paper. If you want something where you can feel the mountains and valleys and everything else, it won’t be able to do that, but if you are just looking for borders to get an idea of sizes – you mentioned sizes and helping things are and stuff like that. With space, maybe you could kind of print that, at least consolations where the stars are and stuff like that. It’s not super cheap. I think swell paper is about one dollar per page, maybe more than that. You want to make sure that you are printing out something pretty good before you use it. Something like that could work. What about contacting NASA? If they’ve gotten them before, maybe they have more available.
BELVA SMITH: That’s what I was going to say. I also found TGIL, the tactile graphics image library. It’s free to search for all the different tactile graphics that you have available. I did not find anything about outer space, but I did find several different maps. I think the issue with that is those are tactile images that are available, but then you have to produce them.
BRIAN NORTON: So you have to have a printer and embosser?
BELVA SMITH: That’s my understanding. I would definitely check that out a little deeper. Also, the Texas school for the blind or visually impaired, they have a large available graphics library out as well, but I think it is something you have to be able to produce.
BRIAN NORTON: If you’re wanting to print, as far as an embosser, if you are able to get the graphics and have to then create them yourself, I know the Tiger embosser is a popular one because that will not only print the map on the paper but will also emboss around the print as well see you can feel and, if you are low vision, see what is there as well. The Tiger embosser is great for that.
BELVA SMITH: I currently have a consumer I worked with a wild back. He and a buddy of his are working to develop 3-D braille maps of businesses, organizations, hospitals, that kind of thing.
BRIAN NORTON: Using 3-D printing?
BELVA SMITH: Yeah.
WADE WINGLER: I was going to suggest we look at that as well. Although it is not a product I point out right now, I am seeing more 3-D printing being done for tactile representation for those kinds of things. The other thing is, on assistance to go to update, the interview show I do, I had a chance to interview in the summertime a doctoral student at Purdue University here in Indiana. Her name was Ting Xian. She’s creating a new haptic interface. It gives you a joystick attached to your computer, but when you move the joystick around, it floats in 3-D space so it is on this arm thing that allows it to float. You can hold on to the joystick and move it around and explore 3-D models of environments. Josh, when you talk about consolations – or the example she used was how do you describe what a red blood vessel looks like to somebody who is a tactile learner. This device allows you to hang onto the joystick and move it around in 3-D space, and it vibrates in such a way that it allows you to feel the outside of that model. 3-D printing and this haptic interface aren’t available products, but I think they are sort of the trends we are seeing and I think we will see more of that in the future.
BRIAN NORTON: I was also going to throw out there, if you are looking for a low-tech option for folks, and you have Rand McNally maps, you can take tactile puff paint if you have someone who can outline some of those things for you. That may be a really low-tech option for you to be able to use the puff paint to be of the outline states and roads and other kinds of things for folks.
BRIAN NORTON: Don’t forget you can give us a call on our listener line – 317-721-7124 – to provide us any questions that you guys might have at this point in our show, or if you have feedback we would love to hear that as well.
Our next question is, I am looking for in app to assist with recall and reminders to complete various aids for daily living or activities for daily living. This client is impulsive and needs to have the Internet and phone access disabled and restricted on whatever device he’s looking for. We would like to get him some sort of phone or tablet with an app for reminders and ideally the app would do a couple of things: it would allow for a snooze to occur, so if they are not quite ready for a task that pops up they can hit snooze; second thing would be able to give him space to type in while he may not have completed something on time; the third thing would be to provide a caregiver with a daily/weekly roll up of just to say how many times he completed the task, what’s that percentage, those kinds of things; fourth, to be able to be programmed from on the computer so they can cut it there are additional things the person needs to complete, they can do that from another computer and have it show up on their device.
We had a really good partner here in Indiana. He has presented with us at a couple of our full day trainings through the in data project, which is the in data assistive technology act. His company is Createability Concepts. They have an app called Me Minder. When I started reading this question, me minder kind of immediately popped up into my mind as far as an option for folks because it is a couple of things for you. The first thing is it talked about the ability to – and that data they wanted to collect, the ability to be programmed from another computer. Me minder is the app, and android app at this point, not iOS quite yet. I think they’re working on that. There is a dashboard, web-based dashboard people can go to to be able to program and at particular tasks, durations for those tasks. It will give whatever their caregiver or caretaker or manager, whatever, the ability to go in and edit the tasks that the person has and be able to see what’s been completed and what hasn’t been completed. In my mind, that got pretty close to what they were looking for as far as the backbone or dashboard that they were looking for.
JOSH ANDERSON: Don’t they have to be connected to the Internet for it to work?
BRIAN NORTON: It does.
JOSH ANDERSON: That was one of the things. Depending on the service provider, you can actually get into the modem quite a bit and actually change with a person can use, what hours it is available. You can restrict access to most things. They might be able to do that so they can still have the Internet to use it but not have to –
BELVA SMITH: That’s one of the things he is saying, the Internet on the phone will be restricted.
BRIAN NORTON: I think with a lot of those devices, android and iOS, there is guided access. I’m sure there’s something like that for android as well where you can restrict them to one app and restrict them from the rest of the phone or tablet all in one. Me minder is one. I heard something about touch stream. I don’t know anything about that one. That may be another option for folks. Simple, easy to use, to do list for folks to be able to help them with activities that they might have to do day in and day out. Either that they wake up routine or a nighttime routine, or they have job related tasks to be able to complete ABC at their job and make sure they have to do those things. Me minder and possibly touch stream might be an option for folks as well.
WADE WINGLER: On the android device, you’re going to find a feature like a guided access on iOS called either screen pinning or an app called touch lock that allows you to block someone in to just one app.
BRIAN NORTON: For listeners who haven’t played with a guided access at this point, an expiration on how that work with folks. Wade, do you know? I’ve heard Wade to give the explanation out loud before and I thought that was a good way to put it.
WADE WINGLER: Plus you noticed I was nodding off anyone to wake me up. I’ll do by way of example. I have a little boy who loves to play a game on the iPad. I forget what it’s called, but he calls at the bird game. It has a picture of a bird in the forest, and he can touch places in the forest like a tree or leave for birdhouse and the bird will fly around. When he was a littler, we would go on a drive and give him the iPad and the bird game, and he will be playing very happily until you accidentally hit the home button. All of a sudden the bird game was gone, and he wanted to only play the bird game. We needed to lock him into that game. Guided access is a tool built in to iOS that allows you to do that. You go into your settings and general and accessibility, turn on guided access. The first time you use it, it has you set a passcode to whatever you want. In the case of my son, you turn on the game you want him to be in, triple click the home button, and it will allow you to turn on guided access. It guides his access only into that particular app which is a nice way of saying it locks them in. If you accidentally hit the home button, it doesn’t do anything except say you are in guided access, triple click to get out. If you did triple click, they would ask him for the passcode. Of course I haven’t given him the passcode so he is stuck in the app at that point.
Believe me can we at Easter Seals are all about independence of every kind, but there are times when it does make sense to help someone to stay in an app for a period of time. Let’s say you’re a student on math drills and you are doing flash card for the next 20 minutes. It probably makes sense to be locked into your math flashcards as opposed to playing the bird game that my son would be. In that case, you would use guided access, triple click, lock into it and they wouldn’t be able to get out of there. When that time is over, you triple click, put in the passcode, and it makes the iPad go back to work the way it did before.
BELVA SMITH: So when he would accidentally hit the home button, did it stop the bird game?
WADE WINGLER: It just goes back to the home screen and I’m trying to drive in help him get the game going again.
BELVA SMITH: But with guided access? Did it stay in the bird game?
WADE WINGLER: It’s like you hadn’t done anything.
BELVA SMITH: So you couldn’t get out of the bird game without putting in a passcode?
WADE WINGLER: Exactly. You have to triple click and put in the passcode.
BELVA SMITH: So if you have a student supposed to be doing their homework, and they need to access a website but think mom’s in the other room on the phone…
WADE WINGLER: The other thing it allows you to do is draw areas of the screen that are blocked out. Let’s say that you had somebody on a website but you didn’t want them to be able to change the website. You can use guided access to lock them into chrome or Safari or whatever your web browser is, and then you can use other features of guided access to draw a square around the address bar and the back button and the start button so that those areas of the screen would just be dead. They wouldn’t work. You can touch those areas of the screen, but nothing is going to happen because you have locked those with guided access. Which is really nice, especially if you have a game that has a banner ad that comes across the bottom and someone is always hitting the ad accidentally. You can use guided access to draw a block area over that banner and nothing that appears on the area of the screen would work.
JOSH ANDERSON: Nice.
BRIAN NORTON: In that situation, you can lock them into the task list they are supposed to be operating and they can only go there. They can’t get out to surf the web or use any of the apps. They can’t get out unless they know the passcode. Interesting.
Me minder, touch stream would be a couple of apps to throw out there to be able to meet this need. Certainly take a look and see what they offer is what you are looking for. If for folks who are listening you have other suggestions, things you have used for similar stuff, let us know. We would love to be able to pass that on. You can do that through our email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is from Art from California. He said, hey, hope all is well with you guys. I have this typical client with a little condition who has sensitive fingers that tire easily and require minimal keyboard and mouse activation forces. Even when using one of those rubberized foldable keyboards – and I think he is talking about the indestructible keyboard which doesn’t require too much pressure – in this situation, it does require too much pressure. He says she is currently using a glass keyboard and a mouse touchpad with embedded keys, but the keyboard doesn’t give her tactile feedback, forcing her to view the keys all the time, thus contributing to poor posture. If anybody has good suggestions about very sensitive keyboard that could give feedback, it would be you guys.
This is an interesting one. One of my go to keyboards for a long time that I loved was the Intellikeys keyboard. That was just discontinued not too long ago.
BELVA SMITH: It’s been a while.
BRIAN NORTON: That just makes me upset. I love that keyboard. I thought it had options – in this situation, I know it’s a different type of keyboard, and if you are a fast hyper you are not putting her hand on the home row, the keyboard overlays are different. It gave you sound as far as tactile feedback Castle as you press you heard sounds see you get feedback that you are pressing particular keys.
The others I found may be the keyboard they are currently using, the bastron b6 glass touch screen keyboard. I’m not sure – this is not a keyboard I’ve used in the past. It’s a glass keyboard. You simply touch a screen interface in a traditional keyboard setting. It allows you to input that way. I thought that might be an option.
One of the ones I know we’ve used here – and I think may be an option – is the Logitech K750 wireless solar keyboard. That is a very thin keyboard that does have tactile keys on it. I don’t think it’s quite to the point that the indestructible keyboard would be where it requires you to push the key down. I believe you still have to push the key but it is less of a motion for somebody. Possibly the Logitech K750 wireless solar keyboard.
WADE WINGLER: It’s interesting. There are very few places in the world where people talk about how the keyboard feels. People have some pretty strong feelings about that. When you change someone’s keyboard, they will respond to it either positively or negatively. PC Magazine did a pretty good review on the best keyboards of 2017. It came out on their website on September 26. One of the things it talked about that I thought was interesting was mechanical versus scissor type keyboards. The mechanical keyboards are more old and traditional. There is a higher key and it has a post and a spring under it so the whole key moves up and down. If you look at some of the things you find on a Mac, you will find chiclet style keyboard where they are fatter and more crisp. About a year or two ago, Apple came out with the updated MacBook that had the first scissor style keyboard. It felt like a chiclet but had much less traveled. I think in the situation, if you are looking for a keyboard that is very sensitive and takes very little up and down pressure to make it work but still have that tactile click, you might want to look at these keyboards that have this scissor style keyboard. You kind of get the best of both worlds. It is almost totally flat but still has a pretty good click and tactile response. Apple makes some of those and this article in PC Magazine talks about some other places to get those styles as well. Look at the scissor switch stabilizer on your keyboard.
BRIAN NORTON: You make me laugh every time you say chiclet. Aren’t those the gums use to get?
WADE WINGLER: That’s why they call them that because they look like those Chiclets.
BELVA SMITH: I’m also thinking what about possibly trying one of those typing aids that we use to use? He’s talking about how her fingers tire. That’s what it was called, a typing aid. Just slip it on and it has the one pointer so her fingers could basically be relaxed and it would be the movement of her hand. Also, another thing I thought of as possibly adding some sort of a screen reader so that she gets the auditory feedback of the keys as she is pressing them instead of visually watching the keyboard.
BRIAN NORTON: I think part of what he was saying is the movement is one thing on the keyboard, but because she doesn’t know what she is pressing, she is looking at the keys all the time, causing neck strain. She’s looking down when she could be looking at. A screen reader would give them the auditory feedback they are looking for just to confirm that when you press the letter “A”, you pressed it. That might not be a bad idea.
BELVA SMITH: If you are using Windows, you have narrator which would be free. If you are using Mac, you have voiceover which would be free and would be suitable. You would probably need to go into settings and make sure you set it up so that it is going to announce each key as it is pressed. Also you can set it up so that you can turn it on and off so she doesn’t have to have the screen reader speaking to her as she is doing other tasks but maybe just using it when she is typing.
BRIAN NORTON: Narrator would be a good option. Voiceover, I would be a little leery because it changes your interaction with the computer. Certainly Narrator, which is probably what she’s using in the Windows environment.
JOSH ANDERSON: What about speech to text? Dictation.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s another good option.
BELVA SMITH: That’s another option that is available both in the Mac and Windows PC without adding a third party software for just basic dictation. It doesn’t sound like she is necessarily – that’s what I was thinking with a screen reader. It doesn’t sound like she is necessarily trying to control the computer, just some basic feedback.
BRIAN NORTON: That sounds great. Hopefully that gives you some options to try it, different types of keyboards. The scissor style?
WADE WINGLER: Scissor switch keyboard, chiclet style.
BRIAN NORTON: May be some screen reading, speech feedback. Speech and put as well might be another option.
BELVA SMITH: And the typing aid. That’s cheap.
BRIAN NORTON: You can get two of them for $11 from any kind of Occupational Therapy store.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is from Ron from New York. He says that he is looking for recommendations for someone who recently had a stroke. Here is the situation. The family is struggling to understand her when she speaks or writes on paper. Her native language is Italian. She will need to be able to translate her language to English. She is blind in one eye, her fingers are large and arthritic, and she uses a wheelchair to move from one location to another. Ron’s suggestion was Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Italian. You can get speech and put software and Italian and perhaps maybe ZoomText or a phone or tablet with Google translate. What about an augmentative communication device like a communication board. The question was, how does she get started on the process?
WADE WINGLER: There is a whole lot going on.
BRIAN NORTON: Tackling the first question, being able to translate Italian into English, they are obviously some things that were suggested. Google translate is what popped into my mind as far as that is concerned. I think the speech input option to be able to speak Italian and type that onto your screen if you have Dragon NaturallySpeaking Italian version, you can probably make that happen fairly well.
BELVA SMITH: But it is going to type it in Italian, not translate it to English.
BRIAN NORTON: But once it is on paper, then you can put into Google translate and have it translate it to English. The only challenge with that is how good is her voice. It mentioned she had a stroke. Sometimes there is some slurred speech with strokes. Making sure she can enunciate things well enough in Italian for it to be able to recognize and get it out there correctly would be a challenge.
WADE WINGLER: I’m laughing at “Pronunciate.” It’s just “pronounce.”
BRIAN NORTON: Anyway. Keep an eye on that stuff. That would be a challenge.
WADE WINGLER: I kind of want to put my augmentative communication goggles when I think about this. The fact that we are going from a time to English is a specific challenge but not unlike individuals who have literacy issues or are still developing their language in general. It makes me wonder – and this would probably involve a speech biologist – should they look at some sort of picture communication system like PECS, picture exchange communication system, where in Italian she is looking at pictures and symbols and showing them to the people in English and still putting language together that way. If the picture of the Apple means hungry or food, it doesn’t matter if it is Italian or English. I wonder if there is any merit in doing the whole thing based on symbols as opposed to worrying about whether or not you can get it accurately from spoken Italian to read in Italian and translate to English with accuracy. There are a lot of jumps when I think they can just simplify the whole thing and moved to one of the apps that uses pictures and symbols and communicating that way. It might be worth taking a look at and bypass that whole translation thing and do it with symbols.
BELVA SMITH: I agree with that. But when you look at the part two of the question, how does she get started with that. Where do they begin to get her some sort of communication device or evaluation to see if that is the appropriate tool?
WADE WINGLER: My guess is that if she has had a stroke, she probably has a speech therapist associated with her doctor or healthcare team. I would start there with them and asked the speech therapist, what about augmentative communication, what about symbolic communication systems. Start that way on the medical side. See the thing is you can reach out to your local AT act project – assuming we are in the US. If you go to our website www.eastersealstech.com/states, it gives you a list of all the AT act projects through all of the United States and territories. Although not all the AT act projects would do an evaluation, they certainly know who the providers are who do I augmentative and alternative communication.
It’s going to take some rooting around to create some creativity. But between the speech pathologist and your local AT act, you ought to be able to find people who can at least investigate this whole concept.
BELVA SMITH: And they may have a device that you can at least try out and see if it’s going to feel like it is appropriate. I would to make the decision based upon trying it out without having an expert get involved, but certainly it is a good start.
WADE WINGLER: For sure.
BRIAN NORTON: For me, first off, I want to get some of those augmentative communication glasses that Wade has because those are pretty cool.
WADE WINGLER: What did I say?
BRIAN NORTON: You said you were going to put on your glasses.
WADE WINGLER: Oh, my AugCom spectacles?
BRIAN NORTON: I thought, Hmm, that’s cool. I want a pair of those. That’s great advice.
WADE WINGLER: And now it’s time for the wildcard question.
BRIAN NORTON: So our next question is the wildcard question. This is where Wade gets to ask a question and we get to try to answer it. This is something we haven’t prepared for at all. Wade?
WADE WINGLER: Here’s the question. We were talking on this show about versions of iPhones and iOS devices. We were recording at a time when the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 10 were about to come out. Here is what I wondered. My wife is looking for a new phone. I know that she is starting to give me those “I need a new phone” signals, talking about what’s not working on it and the battery and those kinds of things.
JOSH ANDERSON: Dropping it in the shower.
WADE WINGLER: All those things that tell me we are going to have to look at a new phone. With the holidays coming up, who knows what that’s going to look like. The new iPhone 10 top out at around $1400.
BELVA SMITH: I think they start at $1100.
WADE WINGLER: Yeah, it’s a $1000 plus phone depending on bells and whistles. I was looking at iPads as well and we have iPads and iPad Pro. We certainly have these higher echelon levels of mobile devices that are starting to come out that are a lot more expensive than sort of the run-of-the-mill iPhone and iPad. In fact, as I was putting together this question, I jumped on Apple.com. You can buy an iPhone SE, which is the stripped-down basic iPhone, for $350. It’s an iPhone that runs a regular software. Why are we having these iPhones that you can buy for $350 or an iPhone that you can buy for nearly 5 times that amount? Are these high-end options worth it and why or why not? Would you guys consider some of those high in things? Have you had experience with those? Why do we have these high-end versions of phones? Do you think they are worth it?
BRIAN NORTON: I don’t think in all cases they are worth it. It depends on what you are using your phone for. I think for folks were blind or visually impaired, a lot of the newer technology is going to have better cameras. The camera is very important for folks to be able to snap a picture of something and have it read text. The better the camera, the better your results are going to be. However, I think the cameras have topped out a few verses back were that becomes a determinant.
BELVA SMITH: The camera in the SE is going to do just as well. Maybe is not going to be just as good, but it is more than suitable.
BRIAN NORTON: Good enough.
JOSH ANDERSON: Size. If I’m visually impaired, having a Plus, which is going to cost a little bit more. Or having the iPad Pro coming in at a larger size. That might be able to help a little bit.
BRIAN NORTON: I think mostly it is a status symbol.
BELVA SMITH: That’s exactly what I was going to say.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s a vanity.
BELVA SMITH: Do you have the generic or do you have the real thing? I do think, especially with the release of the iPhone 10, the price has just gone – what? And another year, two tops, there will be another new phone. I feel like I’m sitting here with the 6S Plus, and I love that phone. I don’t see the need to upgrade. I know that there were people in line and online a week ago had been night trying to get their 8 ordered. What is the 8 offering that I really have to have?
BRIAN NORTON: More power?
BELVA SMITH: I don’t have to have the more power because my phone does what I needed to do in a reasonable amount of time. If my phone were messing up, that would be different. I guess the sales for the 8 weren’t quite what they were expecting because people were waiting on the 10. If you did by the 8, it was less than 80 days that the 10 was released.
BRIAN NORTON: I’m not sure of my family listens to the show or not.
BELVA SMITH: Turn the volume down.
BRIAN NORTON: If you are listening, turn the volume 8. We got my wife and my two girls iPhone 8’s. It was a buy one get one free deal through AT&T. We got one for free. Even then, I’m thinking this will be my daughters the first phone. She just turns 13 and the next couple months. I’m thinking, I don’t even want to give her an iPhone eight because the likelihood of her living it someplace and the cost of what it would really cost for that.
BELVA SMITH: The SE would be perfect for her.
BRIAN NORTON: I’m thinking, as all dads do, I’m going to get her iPhone 8, open the box, and stick my Sim card and her iPhone 8 and take her sim card and stick it in my iPhone 7 and give her my old stuff. Isn’t that what all dads do?
WADE WINGLER: Uh…
BRIAN NORTON: I don’t want to give her something so expensive because I feel like – I trust her. She is very responsibility. She needs to prove it a little bit.
JOSH ANDERSON: The iPhone 10 cost as much as my first car, which I did have to carry insurance on and pay off over the course of time.
BELVA SMITH: I think you also have to think about the possibility – yeah, she is a teenager and she probably will lose it or break it at some point. What if someone takes it? She has to take it to school and lay it down, go wherever. What if someone takes it? My sons were 16 when they got there for cell phone. My oldest son, by the time he got out of college, had gone through for cell phones from losing them, not breaking them. This being her first experience, will she know that that thing has to be glued to her?
BRIAN NORTON: We are gluing it to her.
JOSH ANDERSON: That’s good.
WADE WINGLER: A cable tie or something.
BELVA SMITH: That’s what is cool about the watch. You put it on your wrist and forget that it is on your wrist and don’t have to worry about making sure that it is with you because it is always with you.
JOSH ANDERSON: But you have to go with the three to get the cellular connection.
BELVA SMITH: But he can do that because he’s getting the 8.
BRIAN NORTON: Can you make calls from the watch?
BELVA SMITH: Absolutely.
WADE WINGLER: On the newest one.
BELVA SMITH: For $10 a month. You do not have to have a phone.
BRIAN NORTON: I don’t know.
WADE WINGLER: You sure did steal my wildcard question.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s a counseling session for Brian.
WADE WINGLER: With the iPhone 10, there are some features that people are interested in like facial recognition. I think that has some potential for folks with disabilities because you can use it to unlock your phone and use it for Apple pay and stuff like that. I think in some situations there is a particular feature that get somebody to move to the next level. My wife loves photography and cameras, and I see her Nikon sitting at home a lot and her grabbing my iPhone 7 Plus out of my hands to take good pictures when we are out and about. I think there are some features that make people want to jump to that. In general, I just wonder is it worth it for the high echelon version of the products.
JOSH ANDERSON: Like anything, consumer driven after a year, if you get a new phone the next year, if you get the iPhone 10 next year, it’s probably going to be a couple hundred dollars less, or those features will be an iPhone 2018.
BELVA SMITH: I think the iPhone 10 will stay expensive because it is an anniversary phone. I think it will always stay expensive.
JOSH ANDERSON: It could be limited release.
BELVA SMITH: That may very well be what they do.
WADE WINGLER: Brian, I know you have an iPad Pro. Is the Pro part worth it for your iPad?
BRIAN NORTON: Yes. I like being able to use the Apple pencil. I like the camera features. It’s much more powerful.
BELVA SMITH: I am currently working with an individual that we got an iPad Pro four. It truly is like having a touchscreen laptop in your hand. It is so powerful. Having access to everything, to me is worth it. It’s not that much more expensive, is it?
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s about double the price if not a little more.
WADE WINGLER: The smaller one is $650 at 10.5 inches. The 12.9 inch is $799. I didn’t even know they had a 10.5 inch one.
BELVA SMITH: That’s what I’m working on right now. It’s not that much more expensive.
BRIAN NORTON: They are in line with each other?
JOSH ANDERSON: For some of the folks we work with, I have someone using the larger one that uses it like a laptop, uses Pages and Numbers on it and things to create documents and stuff and being able to reverse pinch and make everything bigger. She uses the built-in magnifying features as well. If you think about the price of a handheld magnifier, especially one possibly that big, the camera is not as good as what you get from that, but it really cuts down the price when you start thinking about the things I do.
WADE WINGLER: It is doubled. The iPad is down to $329 now.
BELVA SMITH: I have recommended it in at least two cases where our option was to go with a computer or iPad Pro, and we went with the iPad Pro for a lot of different reasons.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s our show for this week. I want to thank you guys here in the studio. Belva, thank you for being here.
BELVA SMITH: By everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: Josh?
JOSH ANDERSON: By everybody. See you next time.
BRIAN NORTON: And Wade.
WADE WINGLER: Take care everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: Don’t forget, you can send us question, call our listener line at 317-721-7124. Send us a tour with the hashtag ATFAQ. Or email us at email@example.com. These really want your questions and love your feedback. In fact, without those things, we really don’t have a show. Take care and have a good one and we will see you in a couple of weeks.
WADE WINGLER: Information provided on Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions does not constitute a product endorsement. Our comments are not intended as recommendations, nor is our show evaluative in nature. Assistive Technology FAQ is hosted by Brian Norton; gets editorial support from Mark Stewart and Belva Smith; is produced by me, Wade Wingler; and receives support from Easter Seals Crossroads and the INDATA project. ATFAQ is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more of our shows at www.accessibilitychannel.com.
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