Panel – Brian Norton, Belva Smith, Josh Anderson, and Wade Wingler | Q1Amazon Echo reading Kindle books Q2 English to German dictionary Q3 Transcript of church sermons Q4 Mandarin Speech to Text Q5 Hubs for Macs Q6 Themes in Windows 10 Q7 Kids these days
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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 70. My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of ATFAQ. We are so happy you tuned in this week. Before we get ready to jump into the questions that you sent in and the feedback is as well, I want to take a moment to go around the room and introduce our panel to you. Belva Smith is our — what are you Belva? I don’t even know anymore.
JOSH ANDERSON: Master of everything else.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s right.
WADE WINGLER: She is a guru.
BELVA SMITH: That’s right. You named me guru last time.
BRIAN NORTON: I’ll let you introduce yourself.
BELVA SMITH: Hi, I’m Belva Smith.
WADE WINGLER: High Belva.
BELVA SMITH: The vision team lead here at Easter Seals Crossroads.
WADE WINGLER: How long have you worked here?
BELVA SMITH: I don’t even know.
BRIAN NORTON: A long time.
BELVA SMITH: I know it was August, I believe August 26, but I don’t remember what year. I think it was 2003, 2004, something like that.
BRIAN NORTON: Was at 10 a few years ago?
WADE WINGLER: more like 15.
BELVA SMITH: More than 10. It’s been a while.
WADE WINGLER: Still new basically.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next panelist is Josh Anderson. You want to introduce yourself?
JOSH ANDERSON: Hi everybody. I’m Josh Anderson and I manage our clinical AT services here at crossroads.
BELVA SMITH: And how long have you been here?
JOSH ANDERSON: I also started in August, on a warm day. It’ll be seven years this year.
BELVA SMITH: See, he knows exactly how many years.
JOSH ANDERSON: Now I just need to figure out what year I start forgetting.
WADE WINGLER: Anytime now.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s when you’ve been like as long as Wade. Do you want to introduce yourself?
WADE WINGLER: I’m Wade. I’m the Vice President of anything that needs to be done at the moment. That just is a moving target. I also started in August. It seems like all the cool people start in August.
BRIAN NORTON: Wait a minute.
JOSH ANDERSON: He’s at all the cool people.
WADE WINGLER: This summer will be 25 years.
BRIAN NORTON: Wow.
WADE WINGLER: I was going to work here for a year until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.
JOSH ANDERSON: Have you figured that out yet?
BELVA SMITH: That’s a short year isn’t it?
WADE WINGLER: Dog years or something.
BRIAN NORTON: I figured it out.
WADE WINGLER: What?
BRIAN NORTON: You guys took the traditional route through school and graduated in June or May. I went an extra semester because I was not very — I didn’t apply myself very well in school. I spent a lot of time playing sports and other things. I started here in February 3, 1997. 21 years ago just a few days ago.
BELVA SMITH: You can have a drink that water now.
BRIAN NORTON: I need the water to keep myself hydrated. For new listeners to our show —
WADE WINGLER: They’ve already turned out.
BRIAN NORTON: So glad you joined us. Have a great week.
JOSH ANDERSON: Fast-forward.
BRIAN NORTON: For new listeners, if you are still with us, we pray you are, this is just a little bit about how our show works. We receive feedback and come across various assistive technology questions throughout the week. We give people an opportunity to call into our show, email us, and sent us a tweet. The way to do that, we have a listener line set up for you. At 317-721-7124. We also have an email address, tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. Our Twitter hashtag is ATFAQ. Those are the ways that you guys can get a hold of us, send us your questions, provide feedback. Always looking for feedback so we have some great questions from our listeners. We try to give our opinions in our thoughts.
WADE WINGLER: Our witty remarks.
BRIAN NORTON: There you go. Hopefully they come across well. We are also looking for you guys, as you do with assistive technology day in and day out, a lot of you do, so we look forward to hear from you with regard to the questions. If you’re wanting to tell your friends about this show, you can find us in a variety of different places as well, including iTunes, ATFAQshow.com, stitcher, Google play store, anyplace that you can find podcasts, you can to we find us.
Without any further ado, banter, or comical comments, they are going to start the show with feedback we got last week. The first part was an email I got in regards to some questions we had last week regarding Android training and talk back. Here’s how it goes. It says hey guys, thanks for reading my question about the Android training. I wanted to update that with the latest software update that made it easier to navigate the galaxy tablets I have. I think it was some software issues, and the update gave it a boost. Last week, we had a question regarding that kind of stuff, and it looks like a more recent update solve the issue that the person was having. Yay for that.
WADE WINGLER: Chalk one up for the updates.
BRIAN NORTON: Very go. The other one was an answer to a talkback question we also had. The person mentioned, I’m using the text-to-speech function on it like a regular screen reader. I’ve also looked into Hadley and other resources. We were talking about where they can go to receive training on that stuff. We mentioned the Hadley school, that they have a lot of great online training resources for folks. This person is going to go ahead and take a look and see about taking a course and just wanted to say thanks.
BELVA SMITH: This would probably be a good time for me to throw out that if you are listening, you are probably podcast listeners. You guys might also check out the blind abilities podcast. They sometimes do Android podcast on the un-boxing of the new phones and the tablets and stuff like that. So you can look through some of their older podcast and see if they can find something related to your Android question.
BRIAN NORTON: Great place to look for sure. Our next bit of feedback is a message format. Someone left us a voicemail so we will play that.
SPEAKER: Hi, this is Dr. Joe Todd. I have a graduate degree in vision rehabilitation therapy. I wanted to address the last issue for ATFAQ. I think it’s interesting that we were saying that some professors owned allow you to record in a classroom. Normally in the Americans with disabilities act and the rehabilitation act of 1973, a reasonable accommodation should be accounted for. I would suggest that students who are denied that right actually go to the student disability office and advocate for that so that they can do their lectures and stuff. One other thing I wanted to give you is there is a site for Android that is the same as AppleVis. That is Inclusive Android. It deals with adaptive apps and so on and so forth. The suggestions for the lady who was looking for material for the office suite, you might look at the national braille press organization. Beside braille books, they also do audio recording, work docs and so on and so forth, so if you are not a braille reader, there is certainly information about different resources. One other thing, at the Chromebooks especially you had. If you use chrome vox, that is there text-to-speech engine, and also it has magnification features and contrast features. Maybe a good site to look for that is what Belva suggested, go to YouTube. If you look under the chrome OS, you will see accessibility. Thank you, love your show, have a good day.
BRIAN NORTON: Great. Back to that comment about recording in classrooms, that’s a lot of what we tell our students. First and foremost, go to your disability office and let them know, and they will advocate on your part to be able to record in the classroom, especially if the teacher is not wanting to let that happen. They can then step in and had the advocacy for you to make that a part of your accommodations.
WADE WINGLER: My experiences it’s usually an issue of ignorance on the behalf of the instructor. They don’t really know or don’t think about it as being an accommodation. My experiences it’s usually an easy push to get that taken care of. Sometimes you have to be a self advocate and say let me explain here what I’m trying to do. That usually takes care of it.
BRIAN NORTON: Great feedback. Thank you very much for that.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is from Debbie. This is a voicemail so we will play the voicemail. But this is a unique one, because Debbie asks the question, and if you minutes later we have another message, and she answered the question. We are going to play both the question and the answer.
WADE WINGLER: Bless your heart, Debbie.
BRIAN NORTON: Thank you so much.
WADE WINGLER: More people like Debbie.
BRIAN NORTON: Going to play this one.
SPEAKER: Hi, this is Debbie Morgan in Lafayette Indiana. I listen to the assistive technology update podcast. I listen to the recent one about Amazon Echo. I have an Echo, and I have been told that you can read Kindle books, then I’ve been told you can’t. I was told you can’t the other night by FEMA from Amazon. She didn’t know a lot of things she was talking about. Anyway, I want to know if you can or you can’t. I’m wanting to get Amazon prime, and I’m wanting to read some various books that I think are available on Kindle. I would appreciate knowing for real if you can read Kindle books with Echo or not. Thank you very much. I love listening to your show.
Hi, this is Debbie Morgan. I called earlier with a question about reading Kindle books with Echo. I found out the information I needed. I emailed blindrehab.com. The echo show will read the Kindle books, but they are working on the other Amazon Echo devices. Thank you. Have a great day.
BRIAN NORTON: That is the best kind of question ever, to get not only the question and the answer but all in one shot.
BELVA SMITH: That’s an interesting answer. The echo show will read the Kindle but the cylinder won’t? Why?
WADE WINGLER: Probably because they are developing on the new technology first. My guess is hardware or they haven’t developed it yet.
JOSH ANDERSON: You also have to think Amazon owns audible. Odds are they try to push you towards that as much as possible.
BRIAN NORTON: I think the echo show has a screen. I think words appear. I know when ask it to play a song, the words appear and I follow along. It’s like playing a karaoke machine. I think that technology will then read books if you’re trying to get that text in front of you.
BELVA SMITH: I noticed that she also included Google home and the HomePod. This is probably a good time to take a second to talk about the new HomePod.
WADE WINGLER: You have one?
BELVA SMITH: No.
WADE WINGLER: I just ordered one.
BELVA SMITH: Why?
BRIAN NORTON: Brian said to order one.
BELVA SMITH: I don’t think we should have unless we need a really good Bluetooth speaker.
BRIAN NORTON: I’m in charge of the program, so when I say by something —
BELVA SMITH: But Brian, I showed you like $5000 worth of stuff I need to today. From what I’m understanding, the HomePod is really just a great music speaker, but it is not really smart yet. It’s using Siri, a very limited version of Siri, so it is a music speaker first and an assistant second.
WADE WINGLER: It sounds like a pretty traditional Apple maneuver where they released the hardware with some basic technology and add onto it. My first iPhone, I didn’t really get a lot of use out of, and the Apple watch — I love my Apple watch. I wouldn’t go away from having one now.
BELVA SMITH: Me too.
WADE WINGLER: It took a year or two before I sort of paid attention to it.
JOSH ANDERSON: The only thing is you have to think the iPhone came out before a lot of the other smart phones, or as most people who have a personal assistant at home probably already have one. Are they going to shell out the money for one with a better speaker?
BRIAN NORTON: It’s all about status with your Apple products.
BELVA SMITH: I think you are right, Wade, because it does have the same processes that my 6S phone has. It definitely has the ability.
WADE WINGLER: They are ruling it out slowly?
BRIAN NORTON: One of the things, especially in our role as a tech act project or assistive technology act project, is to make sure that we have devices across all categories. If we are going to have a Google home, we are going to have a echo show, we are going to have an Echo Dot, and Amazon Echo, and all those Echo devices. We have to have the Apple HomePod just to show what the each do. Again, I do think they are going to add some features.
WADE WINGLER: There must’ve been a staff meeting this morning. You can tell Brian is in a mood.
BRIAN NORTON: I own it.
BELVA SMITH: You own your mood?
BRIAN NORTON: It’s brand-new. I don’t think anybody fully knows exactly what is there unless you have one. We had to put out of the box, try it out, and see what is there.
BELVA SMITH: I’ve listened to the podcast. I know what is there. Was at $350?
WADE WINGLER: Right around there.
BRIAN NORTON: I just tell people to buy it. I didn’t buy it. Smith like I think is $329.
WADE WINGLER: I’ll look and see.
JOSH ANDERSON: Going back to the books, which I think is what the question was about before we all started hitting Apple — completely unexpected — but I wonder if HomePod would do iBooks and those kinds of things.
BELVA SMITH: HomePod will do iBooks, but it won’t do, unlike the Amazon devices, it won’t do anything that is not Apple.
JOSH ANDERSON: Really?
BELVA SMITH: Yeah.
JOSH ANDERSON: On my Echo, I can listen to any podcast anywhere. All I have to do is tell it what I want to listen to. Would you only be able to listen to ones that are on Apple podcast?
BELVA SMITH: I don’t know. I think you can listen to any podcast but you can listen to on your phone. Really, it is coming from your phone because you have to have a phone or tablet connected to your HomePod.
WADE WINGLER: I didn’t know that. That’s Apple tradition as well.
BELVA SMITH: It is.
WADE WINGLER: We pay $329. We get a discount on lots of apple stuff, but not that thing.
BELVA SMITH: It has two have a tablet or phone connect to it, something to complain on your phone or tablet will play through the HomePod.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent. You are mentioning other devices that read audio books. Google home now offers, you can read audiobooks through those through the Google play store. You can now stream books as well. That’s a future that has recently been added to it as well.
WADE WINGLER: We got a Google home for Christmas when they were running the specials. We haven’t set up a don’t use it.
BELVA SMITH: I use it just for fun. I can get them to sing happy for the at the same time. You start her name and then say okay Google and sing happy birthday, and they will both sing happy birthday at the same time totally differently. I have them both sitting in the living room so I can ask one the question and asked the other just to get the different answers. Google is smarter, there is no doubt about it.
WADE WINGLER: We homeschool our kids, and we have Google home and homeschool room. I find for academic questions, at least for — they are five and six of their little and want to hear animal sounds or basic history stuff. They can get that pretty well from Google. We do use it for that. They use it more than I do. I haven’t connected it to all of our smart appliances.
BELVA SMITH: I haven’t connected it to anything. I’m just using it strictly for a resource.
WADE WINGLER: We had Echo connected to everything, our thermostat and all that stuff.
BRIAN NORTON: We moved away from the echo, and now that’s all we have, is a Google home in the house. It works really well.
WADE WINGLER: What did you do with your Echo?
BRIAN NORTON: It is now sitting on my dresser. It’s not plugged in. It’s just a dot.
BELVA SMITH: That’s all you need, is the dot.
WADE WINGLER: Again, speaker is the real difference.
BRIAN NORTON: This is our next question. This is from Jewel. It’s a voicemail message but her question deals with looking for an English to German dictionary. She needed to be software and not an app and needs it to be able to speak the words and allow her to navigate through the words to make sure she understands them. Looking for a computer application that does English to German translation for you.
SPEAKER: Hi, this is a question for ATFAQ. This is a Jewel. I am a student [Inaudible] at the University. I’m looking for an English to German dictionary. It’s a typing device, not an app. Because I can’t use my phone during the exam, but I can use an English to German dictionary. I needed to speak [Inaudible] allow me to navigate to make sure I understand the spelling of the word. If you could suggest an English to German dictionary, that would be great. Thank you so much.
BRIAN NORTON: I think to jump in on this question, there are apps out there. I know you want to steer away from apps. What I did is I found lots of different webpages that would do some translation. If you’re using a screen reader of some sort to be able to access the computer, you may be able to use Google translate as a webpage. It seems to do a pretty good job and seem to be accessible. Bing translator also had a webpage that will let you translate from one language to another. Then there is also world lingo and Babel fish. I didn’t test those out with my screen reader, but those are two of the webpages that might offer some ability for you to be able to do that. I know you’re not allowed to use a phone when you are doing testing or those kinds of things, but there are some really good apps. We learn about one of them more recently at ATIA. It’s called Microsoft translator.
JOSH ANDERSON: You can use that on the computer. But you need to probably talk to it. I would assume you could probably type them in and it would give you the actual word, but it would read it right back to.
WADE WINGLER: And it’s an app and you can do it on the computer. Is it a webpage?
JOSH ANDERSON: I believe it’s a webpage that you can use.
BRIAN NORTON: Microsoft translate, the app is free.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s free to use on the computer as well.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s pretty much made for transcription, so when you’re talking to someone who speaks another language, you can talk to English, it will translate it to German, and then they can speak in German and it will translate it back to you in English.
JOSH ANDERSON: Right. And you can have it talk to you and say those words as well.
BRIAN NORTON: We’ve played around with it since seeing it at ATIA this past January, the assistive technology industry Association conference in Orlando Florida. We were there and saw some new technologies. We’ve been able to play with it, and it seems to be a pretty reliable app to do that translation.
WADE WINGLER: Our earlier conversation about what tools are locked to be used under the ADA, so maybe you’re not allowed to use the app, but this may be one of those situations where you talked to the folks who are administering the test and say, hey, due to my disability I need to have this tool, and this is what is available. There may be some useful conversation to be had. I don’t know enough about the situation.
BRIAN NORTON: Translation, the website are always a little challenging and I think they are hard to navigate. I’ve used Google translate before and Bing translate. You can navigate those fairly well.
JOSH ANDERSON: And depending on what you are saying, they are not always perfect. If it is something easy like how are you that is pretty universal, you are fine. But English is backward from some of the languages, and things like that. I don’t know one thing about German except for “nein” means “no.”
WADE WINGLER: “Einstein” is “one beer.”
JOSH ANDERSON: Nice.
WADE WINGLER: Not really.
JOSH ANDERSON: I know a lot of time sentence structure and things like that don’t translate over correctly. I only know that from trying to take Spanish class and using Google translate. Still want it didn’t work out too well?
JOSH ANDERSON: It’ll get you by long enough to go to the science track inside of the foreign language track. It look at you by cannot lower the GPA too much. But if you are going for word to word, not bad, but sentence structure and things like that, if falls a little short.
BELVA SMITH: I was being quite because I was looking at Amazon. I was trying to remember I had bought a device similar to this. There is that Franklin —
BRIAN NORTON: Link the master?
BELVA SMITH: The Franklin five language electronic translator. $89.99. That gives you the spelling on the screen, and I believe you can also get the definition of it or whatever.
JOSH ANDERSON: And there is a little speaker button or something and it will sit there and talk to you. I number that.
BELVA SMITH: I can make sure you pronounce it correctly.
BRIAN NORTON: I’m pretty sure we have — I don’t know if this person is in Indiana, but I think as part of our loan library, we actually have the device available for folks to borrow through the INDATA project. That is a good one because it has a keyboard you can type in, and the words you want to translate, and it will do that for you.
WADE WINGLER: And if she is in another state, there are also lending libraries elsewhere, so they may or may not have one. If you want to find that list of libraries, it’s EasterSealsTech.com/states, and that will take you to a list of all the AT act projects.
BRIAN NORTON: I would extend to other folks who may be listening, if you guys are dealing with translation software and maybe have some experience with different types of translators while using a screen reader, let us know and we would love to be able to pass that on to Jewel. You can provide us feedback to our listener line at 317-721-7124. Or just send us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. We would love to hear from you.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is an email from Russell. This is his email he sent to us, he says I enjoy ATFAQ, AT update, and Accessibility minute podcast but have a question for ATFAQ. The church we attend post audio recordings of its sermons on its website. We would like to make electronic transcripts of the sermons freely available as well. Do you know of any good free software or service available to create such transcripts? I realize that with audio captioning, quality may be an issue, but I hope to find something that could at least produce a good first draft of the transcript which could then be edited.
WADE WINGLER: That something we do here couple we don’t use an app. I get that question a lot. What app do you use to do your transcription? The app’s name is TJ.
BRIAN NORTON: He’s good.
WADE WINGLER: TJ is great. Name is TJ Cortopassi. I know he’s listening right now because he’s the person transcribing this show. But it’s not an app. Really, there are a couple of different ways that this can be done. You can have somebody sit and listen and press play, pause, play, pause and type out a transcript of the show or a summer whatever. You can also have somebody who uses a court stenographer you mentioned they can go rapidly. We use that for life captioning of events and things like that so it’s much more real time. There is another group of folks who are doing — I don’t know. They are using programs like Dragon NaturallySpeaking where they listen to the show in one ear and just repeat what they hear into Dragon to get a first draft of the as well. If you had some time and wanted to do it for free, I would probably start with that, we can listen to the show, listen to the sermon while you’re running something like Windows speech or one of the free speech recognition systems, and you just repeat and it takes some cognitive skill. You have to be able to listen and repeat, and then you’ll end up with a rough transcript. Or if you want to hire TJ to do this — and we always like to send businesses Wade — just go to any one of our shows where there is a transcript. Everything but accessibility minutes. We actually do Accessibility minute in-house because it is so short. Scroll all the way to the bottom, and TJ has his contact information listed so anybody can find him and reach out. I don’t have an app to do it.
JOSH ANDERSON: Nothing is going to work as well as a human being doing exactly what you said. Brian, are they going to send those to you and you will do those for them?
WADE WINGLER: In your free time?
BRIAN NORTON: No. That’s why I’m pulling other people.
JOSH ANDERSON: There are a few different things that may work. We talked about Microsoft translate earlier. You can actually do Realtime captioning. It does it through AI, so it’s not going to be perfect, 100 percent. I don’t know if they can do it with a recording which might be different. Something else I’ve used with college student is a program called Sonocent, which is a notetaking program. You can record everything the professor says and all that. You can integrate it with Dragon. I think it has to be Dragon 13 professional or better. It can take those audio recordings and transcribe them. It does a pretty decent job. I can’t remember, there is a yearly cost or license cost. You are probably looking at $400. If I had to guesstimate for those two programs together. It can take recordings and transcribe them. It’s going to work about as well as Dragon NaturallySpeaking will as dictation software. That something that would be a one time cost. It’s not going to be as good as having a human being listen to it and type of things out, but it might be an option if that isn’t an option for you.
BELVA SMITH: My only suggestion would be to look at the local college and see if you can find somebody that might be interested in doing it just as practice.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s something you can do. A lot of student workers are looking for ways to practice their trade. It would be a great student worker application for folks. Especially if you are in a college town or close to one.
JOSH ANDERSON: The other thing is, being in church, tap your resources there. There might be somebody at the church whereas the time and can do those kinds of things.
BRIAN NORTON: Wade, I was going to wonder. YouTube? I know they do that you captioning and I know it’s not great. Can upload an audio file?
WADE WINGLER: There are a lot of people who will take an audio file and create a video out of it, but the video is nothing but power points or images or something that is just some generic video content to let that happen so that it can be found in YouTube. People usually get that just to get wider distribution of their content. But you can use the automatic YouTube captioning. That’s a decent option. The accuracy is not great, but it’s better than nothing. That’s a possibility.
BELVA SMITH: I agree with Josh. I don’t think anything is going to work as well as a person.
WADE WINGLER: Especially a good one like TJ.
BRIAN NORTON: Can we have his phone number?
WADE WINGLER: Scroll down.
JOSH ANDERSON: See how many times he can say his own name.
WADE WINGLER: He’s smiling now. Okay guys, this is funny. Thanks. Move on.
BRIAN NORTON: So if there are other ways that you guys have used to create transcript of any of your information, videos, audio recording is, those kinds of things, let us know. We would love to hear what you guys are using for that. You can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ or give us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. We would love to hear from you as well.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is from Holly. This one is looking for a Mandarin voice to text software. That means speech recognition software that would recognize a Mandarin voice and turn it into text.
WADE WINGLER: Do ask Anna? She speaks Mandarin.
BRIAN NORTON: I didn’t ask Anna. I did do a whole lot of research and found that there are a whole lot of your traditional speech to text programs that do anything with mandarin at this point. Dragon doesn’t do it. Any of the built-in software. Really the only one that I think supports that is a Siri at this point. I think Siri does recognize mandarin if you are using your iPhone, those kinds of things. But there is really no true speech to text software that does that.
JOSH ANDERSON: So Siri does but dictation does not?
BRIAN NORTON: Correct. That’s my understanding.
JOSH ANDERSON: I think you are right. I was just making sure.
BRIAN NORTON: I will say, some of the other programs to a lot of other languages. I know Dragon, you can get a Spanish version, six or seven different languages you can use with that to be able to get it to recognize. I think the same is true for all of the other built-in ones. They can do some different language the things like that, but Mandarin is one of those that it doesn’t cover.
BELVA SMITH: Best when I had to buy the Franklin talking dictionary for — it wasn’t? What was it? You remember because he worked in a together.
JOSH ANDERSON: Yeah I don’t remember what it was for. Burmese.
BELVA SMITH: Yeah, you’re right.
JOSH ANDERSON: It was for a very small dialect of Burmese that I had never heard of before in my life.
BELVA SMITH: That’s a tough one.
BRIAN NORTON: I wanted to put the question in their even though we don’t have a lot of great answers for it. We can speech to the knowledge we have of speech recognition. As listeners, if you have any feedback, maybe you know something that we don’t that would you mandarin, voice to text, we would love to hear about that to fill in the blanks for Holly as far as what her question was. That would be great. To do that, you can reach out to us at our listener line at 317-721-7124. We would love to hear from you.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is from Jane Sue. She has several questions for us. The first one is, what do you recommend for a good hub for the Mac that will bring back some of the ports that are missing in the new Macs? I use a Macbook Pro 2012 which is all of the ports, but I ran into a friend’s Macbook Air which has only one USB and HDMI, a headphone jack and charging port. It does not include an SD card slot and other USB ports. You’re right; they’re getting rid of ports left and right on the MacBooks.
WADE WINGLER: The MacBook air is an outlier because it only had one USB port. I had a MacBook air for a long time. You are looking at getting a USB hub and the doing all that through dongle’s and adopters. I just recently moved to a MacBook Pro, and I think, Josh, you and Brian did as well. It is all USB C, so it has two USB C ports on the side, which is weirder yet. You recommended these adapters for us that we got for the MacBook Pros. It’s really good. It plugs into both USB C ports and opens up all kinds. It has an HDMI and a couple of USB and an SD card. It doesn’t have you connect, but all kinds of those. Do you remember what that was?
BRIAN NORTON: Let me look it up really quick. Before I jump into that one and look at this one, Henge Docks are really great. They do quite a bit for you in the arena as well.
JOSH ANDERSON: So there are a couple of different kinds. Mine is different than Brian’s, a different brand but is essentially the same thing. Mine has four USB’s, two more USB C’s, HDMI. You can get them with ethernet, SD, whatever it is you need. You can even get two of them, stick one on each side and have tons of ports. It’s always great when you spend that much on a nice MacBook and it doesn’t work with anything at all.
BRIAN NORTON: The one that we have for our Mac is called hyperdrive USB C hub. It comes with an HDMI port. It takes two USB plugs but is formatted to slip into one side of your MacBook Pro. It does give you an SD card reader, two USB’s and two USB C ports. The two that you end up taking up with the adapter gives you two more the back end of it to plug more things in. I think the manufacturer is called Sanho, S-A-N-H-O. They run about $90. You can find them on Amazon. I found them to be pretty good. I use them for everything in my office at this point.
WADE WINGLER: Me too.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s kind of a 7-in-2 USB C hub.
JOSH ANDERSON: Going back, they were talking about their friend had and Air, so maybe that’s what they are getting. You can get a lot less-expensive — you know what I mean. The hubs, if you look at Amazon, even the Amazon model of the USB hubs can have all kinds of connections for what you need.
WADE WINGLER: It’s just another USB adapter at that point.
JOSH ANDERSON: So if you have one USB, you are already ahead of the game as far as cost.
WADE WINGLER: You mentioned the Amazon brand, that’s Amazon basics, right?
JOSH ANDERSON: Yeah.
WADE WINGLER: I’m using the stuff and I’m pretty happy.
JOSH ANDERSON: I’m using it for everything from my dog cage at home to the USB hub I have in my audience. It’s all Amazon basics and it works great.
BRIAN NORTON: Pretty inexpensive.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s as well as if not better made than some of the name brand things I’ve bought lately. It seems to work well. I’ve not had any trouble with it, but what effort is if you do, their customer service is pretty great.
WADE WINGLER: Now that Ryan bashed Amazon earlier, we can at least say something nice about those products.
BRIAN NORTON: We are going to have to fix that. Repair those relationships. Belva through Apple under the bus, and I threw Amazon under the bus.
BELVA SMITH: I didn’t throw Apple under the bus. I just said —
WADE WINGLER: I love everybody, just for the record. I love all y’all. Especially anybody who wants to sponsor the show.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s really a lovefest over here.
BELVA SMITH: I set the HomePod was a great music speaker. That’s what I said.
BRIAN NORTON: Okay. I mentioned Henge Docks. I don’t know if anybody has experience with those cup of those are actually a traditional docking station. You put your MacBook down on top of it, and it will actually connect you to lots of different ports. I know I had one for my old MacBook. I’m not sure as far as MacBook air if they have a Henge Dock for it. It seems to work pretty well. It’s more traditional with your other laptop docking stations where you pop it down on top of something and push the extra ports onto it.
WADE WINGLER: They have some docking stations that stand up vertically and some that are horizontal. It looks at for the MacBook air, they only make the vertical Henge Dock. It looks like it takes a very little dust base and will give you lots of ports. It’s not terribly expensive, only $65. That’s not too bad.
BRIAN NORTON: The next question Jane had is, is there a way on business cards to make the braille stand out or to make the dots more crisp? At the cards are offended, the dots are faded and or not readable. If they are to fix, the braille has a hard time getting onto the card. I always wonder how they make braille signs on doors. Wade, maybe you know where we got them. I know what we have. We have some stamps that we put on our business cards that give us nice, consistent braille and that stuff.
WADE WINGLER: You don’t want to use the cheapest, thinnest business card in the world, but you don’t want one super thick. You have to pick a business card stock that is in the medium. I can’t tell you what pound weight that is. That’s not my area of expertise. We have always used a thing from the American printing house for the blind called the Impressor, I-M-P-R-E-S-S-O-R. it will allow you to email them or call them and tell them the three lines by maybe 25 cells that you want to have — maybe it’s more like 10 or 15. Three lines of braille you want on your card. Quite frankly, you take each card and stick it and squish it. If anybody has been a Notary Public where you are using that sort of notary seal, it’s sort of like that. Depending on how hard you squeeze, the more crisp the braille you get. If I remember right, those things are around $100.
BRIAN NORTON: $179.
WADE WINGLER: And you can reuse them. We’ve had situation where we’ve had staff turnover and just change the plates so that we kept the actual Impressor device but had them print new braille place that you can pop on very easily. If you put new plates on, it’s less offensive. That’s what we do here. But we are not doing high volume either.
BELVA SMITH: Like you said, Wade, most importantly it depends on the card stock that you’re using. But if you want really professional braille cards, the national braille press, they will print in braille your cards. There are not too terribly priced and do it pretty quickly. ACB also has a list of different companies that will braille your business cards for you as well. They do all the proofreading to make sure that everything is appropriate. ACB.org, or NBP.org are two places to look if you want them to be professionally done.
WADE WINGLER: It looks like braille works does them too. There are some services out there that will do that for you.
BELVA SMITH: Turnaround is usually two weeks, which isn’t too bad.
BRIAN NORTON: Great. So if you guys have a question, we would love to hear from you. You can give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124. Or send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. Again, we would love to hear your questions or feedback.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is about hacking the Windows display theme. The question related to since the release of Windows 95, I have been able to edit the Windows display themes to make screen information more legible. This is one of the first thing that I do when working with clients who have minor reading difficulties. Apparently Microsoft no longer supports this degree of customization and Windows 10. I’m curious to know how others are dealing with this lack of customization individual themes in Windows 10. Are there third-party products or are there registry hacks? I’ll just throw that out to folks.
I can feel his pain a little bit because I know, in the past, and Windows 95, some of those early Windows versions, you can go in and change the font sizes for the words, the actual sizes of the icons on your desktop to make things more visually, bigger for folks to see them better. Windows 10, I’m not so sure that is available.
BELVA SMITH: There are some things that can still be done in display settings. I’m over the whole drop-down list of all the things that could be changed. I don’t think they are allowing so much for that anymore. I try to shy away from a lot of that because those are things that, if you do them and then something happened to the computer six months or —
BRIAN NORTON: You have to go back out and do them.
BELVA SMITH: And nobody knows what you did to get them there. I just stick with trying to do the things that can be done under the display settings. I go to ease of access and make any of the changes I can make their, and that’s it.
BRIAN NORTON: High Contrast display settings. As an added piece to the question, I think he had use some of those things, but the ability to train some colors that the ability has some difficulty seeing a particular color, you only had the options and the choices that Windows provide you. You can’t change any of that stuff.
JOSH ANDERSON: I think you’re right. I think you have to go with this theme or that theme.
BELVA SMITH: Right.
BRIAN NORTON: That is curious. As they get further along and keep changing the way Windows looks and how it acts and all that stuff, I would assume that some of that stuff is going to go by the wayside. I some of the day when nuance got rid of DragonDictate. I was so sad because in DragonDictate, it was so simple to go in and change a word if a person couldn’t say scratch that, I could say the race that, or instead of choose one, I could say pick one for folks who had difficulty with speech. I had to adjust what I did with folks to be able to address that. It looks like that’s the same thing with Windows display themes.
BELVA SMITH: I would look at the Microsoft accessibility website and search for whatever it is specifically you’re trying to do. Microsoft is trying really hard, in my opinion, to work on the accessibility features. If it is something that a lot of users are trying to change, for example, maybe the font size on the start menu. I know that was one of the things that you use to be able to change. You could make it so big that your programs would only show you four letters, and then it would be dot-dot-dot, because it was so big you couldn’t see it. You don’t have that option anymore. Because if you think about it, how helpful is that?
BRIAN NORTON: What is that? Absolutely. I just wonder from our listeners, if you guys have run into that. I don’t know of any third-party applications. I know you can do some things within ZoomText and other software things. That’s going to cost you a pretty penny to make those changes. In ZoomText, you can say ignore yellow and make it blue on your screen. That’s an interesting question. I’m wondering if any folks who are listening have anything to fill in on that particular question and how they are dealing with that, the customization, basic customization within Windows display themes to make it more appealing and readable for folks with visual impairments. That would be interesting to know from other folks.
BELVA SMITH: I will say Narrator has really improved. If you are looking for some speech —
BRIAN NORTON: That got a serious update.
BELVA SMITH: It really did. It’s come a long way.
WADE WINGLER: And now it’s time for the wildcard question.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is the wildcard question. Wade, I will throw it over to you.
WADE WINGLER: Yippee ki-yay. It’s a good day when you can get Brian to do a bullwhip sound effect. Thank you Brian. So we’re going to play a new game today. It’s called who set this quote. I will tell you now that it’s a trick, but I think it’s interesting anyway. Here’s the quote and then you can tell me who set it. The children now love technology and money. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and love Instagram and Twitter in place of exercise. Who said that? Smith might I don’t know, but that’s true. Isn’t it?
BRIAN NORTON: Who said that? Say it again.
WADE WINGLER: The children now love technology and money. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and love Instagram and Twitter in place of exercise.
JOSH ANDERSON: Abraham Lincoln?
WADE WINGLER: No.
BRIAN NORTON: Big bird?
WADE WINGLER: No.
BELVA SMITH: I’m going to say Oprah.
WADE WINGLER: Know. I tend to just a little bit. I substituted the word luxury, and in its place I put technology and money, and I took out the word chatter and put in Instagram and Twitter. It originally read like this. The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. It was had by Socrates and 400 BC.
JOSH ANDERSON: I was closest.
BRIAN NORTON: I was going to say the Pope, but Big Bird came out first.
BELVA SMITH: All I could come up with was Oprah.
BRIAN NORTON: The first thing that came to mind was Captain Underpants.
WADE WINGLER: He’s not ever appearing on the show. The reason I bring that up his I’ve been in a lot of situations lately where there are younger folks who are looking at their phones and not paying a whole lot of attention. I hear, “Kids these days!” But Socrates was saying 25 years ago the children now love technology and money. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, show disrespect for elders, and love chatter, or Instagram and Twitter, in place of exercise. How old are we, and is there some relevant application today to say yeah, this problem we see with young people looking at their phones and smart devices and not talking to each other and getting out in nature, is this just the same old forever?
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s always been something. It was TV. It was video games. If I say when I was growing up, something was different, then I sound old. Nevermind. I’ll let you guys do that.
WADE WINGLER: Says the youngest guy in the room.
BELVA SMITH: Just Sunday, I said to Todd, it doesn’t even sound like there are any kids in this house. We had two kids there. It was just silent. I walk into the sunroom, in his because he is in that chair with his iPad doing what he is doing and she is over here on the couch with her iPad doing what she’s doing. But you leave the room and you don’t hear it. If they didn’t have the iPad in their hand, I can guarantee there is no other toy in the house that would’ve had them being that quiet. I remember when I was growing up, we read a lot. The whole living room wall was full of books, children’s books and encyclopedias. We did read a lot. That’s probably when we were at our quietest.
BRIAN NORTON: When I was growing up, I didn’t read a lot —
WADE WINGLER: Because the pterodactyls kept attacking your cave?
JOSH ANDERSON: There was no light.
BRIAN NORTON: I would rather go play football or play outside. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid drink from a hose for 30 years.
BELVA SMITH: It’s not healthy. It’s not organic.
BRIAN NORTON: I’m still here kicking. I think it’s important. We put time limits on devices. Maybe I’ve mentioned it on the show before. We use a thing in our house called Circle. Circle allow you to control the content coming into your house but also allows you to put limits on devices. It also allows you to set bedtimes and with a flick of the bun through an app on your phone, you can turn the Internet on or off. We also don’t let our kids go to bed with their phones. They come to our room to be able to be charged. It’s just getting them away from that. I think you are right. I find folks are socially unaware, not really paying attention, in meetings doing different things. Things are passing them by and they need to be engaged and present. We always talk about it around here, be present. When you are in a meeting, be present. I think that lacks today.
JOSH ANDERSON: Belva, you talk about the kids being super quite. We had over one of my wife’s friends, and her son came over and played with my stepson. One of them was on the Xbox playing mine craft. The other one was on their tablet playing mine craft. But they talk the entire time. In fact, the other one had their tablet out playing Michael Jackson music. Maybe not the best example because it’s a bit of a throwback.
BELVA SMITH: They were overacting while they were playing with the technology.
JOSH ANDERSON: Yeah. They were interacting. I guess it comes down to the problem people have with video games and that stuff. It all comes down to communicating and being able to talk to kids about that stuff and, like Brian said, making it where you are not completely dependent upon that technology for interaction.
BELVA SMITH: I think it’s okay, like you are saying Brian, with a limit. It’s obviously not something that you want them doing all day long. I think it’s okay here and there. A tough question or debate that I’m having is should kids be allowed to have their phones with them in school? I’m seeing instances where kids are not paying attention at all because they are on Facebook and texting and whatever.
WADE WINGLER: How many calls on the show today where somebody needed their assistive technology in school and it was going to be on their phone?
JOSH ANDERSON: Exactly. But I think it’s a big difference if it is for safety or for the technology or if you are just sitting there. It goes back to the one stepson just talking, I had a stepdaughter who cried her eyes out because somebody was mean to her on Instagram. Well, we had about 40 people in our house so she could of been out interacting with real human beings but was more worried about what was happening with fake human beings.
BELVA SMITH: That’s very true.
JOSH ANDERSON: There is my old man, shaking my cane and get off my lawn. As long as you can teach them the importance that what is on the Internet isn’t real. You can be anything you want when you can hide behind a keyboard and a screen.
WADE WINGLER: Or microphone like a podcast.
JOSH ANDERSON: We are not even in the same room.
WADE WINGLER: We aren’t real.
BRIAN NORTON: As far as school is concerned, at my daughter’s school, it’s a safety thing for me to know where they are at all times. I’m pretty sure the school has limits on when you can and cannot be using those things. From Circle —
BELVA SMITH: You can control that while they are at school?
BRIAN NORTON: No. But I can set time periods.
WADE WINGLER: But they think you can.
BELVA SMITH: As long as they’re not listening.
JOSH ANDERSON: Just in case they find that tile in their backpack, you can still use find my iPhone.
BRIAN NORTON: I want to say it’s called secure limits through AT&T, which is our provider, where you can then set periods of the day when you cannot use your phone. You cut the data off, cut that stuff off.
BELVA SMITH: But that isn’t going to help then if there is a dire emergency and they need to get a hold of you because their data has been cut off.
JOSH ANDERSON: But they can call.
BRIAN NORTON: They can still use cellular. They can’t do data.
JOSH ANDERSON: I forgot what the question was.
WADE WINGLER: Is this new? Socrates was talking about kids doing the exact same thing. Is it a period of history has changed, or is it as people mature, they become more frustrated than how they were? It seems like this is something that has happened since time immemorial.
BELVA SMITH: Both.
WADE WINGLER: That’s probably true.
BELVA SMITH: You heard Josh saying this is the old man in me.
JOSH ANDERSON: This is not what I said. I said I will let you go.
BRIAN NORTON: He said this is at the really old man and me. I want to thank everybody for their questions and feedback this week. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have other things, the questions that come to mind or feedback to the question that we answer today. You can give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124. You can send us a tweet with hashtag ATFAQ. Or email us at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. We would definitely love your questions. In fact, without your questions, we really don’t have a show.
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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