Panel – Brian Norton, Josh Anderson, and Wade Wingler (We miss you, Belva!) | Q1Encrypted digital recorders and Dragon Q2 Portable, counter-height stools Q3 Custom commands in Dragon Q4 Accessible online MBA programs Q5 Aira glasses Q6 Can’t buy a road map anymore
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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 75. My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of the show. We are so excited that you tuned in this week. Before we get ready to jump into the questions that you sent in, I want to take a moment and go around and introduce the folks who are sitting here in the city with me. I may mention that Belva is still out. She is not here with us. We are looking forward to having her back here soon. But I do have Josh in the room, Josh Anderson is the manager of clinical assistive technology here at Easter Seals crossroads. You want to say hey?
JOSH ANDERSON: Hi everybody.
WADE WINGLER: And I also have Wade Wingler, the popular host of assistive technology update and VP here at crossroads. Wade, you want to say hey?
WADE WINGLER: Hey everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: I don’t know what I do, but I’m here.
WADE WINGLER: We don’t either.
JOSH ANDERSON: Can I be the popular manager of clinical assistive technology?
BRIAN NORTON: I don’t know if you are popular.
WADE WINGLER: That’s a much.
JOSH ANDERSON: Some days it is hit or miss.
BRIAN NORTON: I always give him an adjective.
JOSH ANDERSON: Not just any adjective. Let’s narrow those down.
BRIAN NORTON: We are really happy that you’ve joined us today. I think we had a pretty good show. But for folks who are new listeners, I want to take a moment and kind of talk about the show, let you know what the format is like. And what we could really expect and hope to get from you would be feedback and questions. We spent time every week coming through feedback that we get, also lots of questions that come in related to assistive technology. I think one of our listeners point out that our show is actually assistive the frequently asked questions; however, they really aren’t. They are just assistive technology questions.
WADE WINGLER: We do them once.
BRIAN NORTON: We do them once and that’s about it.
WADE WINGLER: I think the assumption is if you get them to the show, probably a lot of people have had a question.
BRIAN NORTON: Good point.
WADE WINGLER: But maybe not.
BRIAN NORTON: I figured if we kept answering the same question, people would probably stop listening.
JOSH ANDERSON: It would get a little boring.
WADE WINGLER: It would be easier.
JOSH ANDERSON: And we are done.
BRIAN NORTON: We could refine our answers until we get the perfect answer.
WADE WINGLER: And if we’re going to do the same question, we could pick an easy one. What’s three times six? Just do that one over and over again.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s right. Back to explaining how the show works. We had a couple of different ways for you guys to participate in that, to send us any questions, provide feedback. The first would be a listener line, 317-721-7124. We also have an email address that is tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. We also have a twitter handle. Is it called a handle?
WADE WINGLER: It is. We don’t just have a twitter. That’s some sort of twitch thing. We are on Twitter @INDATA Project. At our username. But you can say handle. It’s okay.
BRIAN NORTON: You can send out a tweet with hashtag ATFAQ and we monitor that and get some questions that we as well. As far as the listenership, send us feedback. We are going to handle questions and give it our best shot. But if you guys have something you can contribute as well, we would love to pass that on and play it on our next show as a back and hopefully answer questions in a really well thought out way with lots of good information to be able to pass on to folks.
Also send us your questions. If you guys have questions about a particular device, maybe it’s not working correctly and you want to troubleshoot some things with us, please send us those questions. Or even the products that are out there that you haven’t heard of and want to know more about, we can cover those types of things. I think we have a question like as well. Let us know. We love to hear from you guys.
***[4:56] Feedback: Voiceover training tools
So our first bit of feedback is actually from someone in the United Kingdom. I love that we have more than just the United States. We get national responses. I just love that.
JOSH ANDERSON: We get international.
BRIAN NORTON: What did I say? National?
JOSH ANDERSON: We get those too.
WADE WINGLER: Worldwide.
BRIAN NORTON: This is from the UK. It was an email and says, in response to last shows question about voiceover quick references. I think we tackled a question where folks were looking for some tools to be able to help provide training to their consumers over how to use voiceover. We kind of talked about that there weren’t a whole lot of things out there but the built-in stuff is where we direct folks internally here. This person mentioned that he uses various publications from the national braille press for list of quick references. He said there is one for High Sierra, not very expensive and want to keep by you for voiceover help. I’m not sure about zoom because we talked about zoom platform as well. These are available in various formats. I use hardcopy braille, but it’s easy to put a daisy copy on a Victor Reader Stream or similar device. I hope that is helpful.
Maybe check out the National Braille Press for different keystrokes and access to some different things using voiceover. Maybe that’s another good opportunity for folks to get some training and knowledge with regard to voiceover.
WADE WINGLER: Thanks for the feedback. That’s great.
***[6:41] Question One – Encrypted Digital Recorders
BRIAN NORTON: Our first question today is, I would like to use a digital recorder with my Dragon software, but I deal with sensitive information in my IT department. I’m glancing over at Wade because he is our IT representative.
JOSH ANDERSON: You are also our privacy Officer. Still one security officer, whatever. It doesn’t come with a badge. If that is cool.
BRIAN NORTON: I have seen him walking around with a Segway.
WADE WINGLER: I want a mall cop security officer Segway.
BRIAN NORTON: My bad. I went off a rabbit trail. I do with sensitive information, and my IT department wants the digital recorder to be encrypted. Will this cause an issue with the encrypted voice a file being transcribed using Dragon?
WADE WINGLER: It shouldn’t. It depends on how the encryption works. In general, the reason people often do that — and we do those things here because of HIPAA — is if the device that contains the protected health information, in the case of HIPAA, is encrypted and gets lost or stolen or otherwise released, then the organization is responsible for that. There is anything in the high-tech law called safe harbor that says if you are encrypted, you are basically good and that information, if the device disappears, is okay.
BRIAN NORTON: Is kind of a get out of jail free card?
WADE WINGLER: It’s kind of is. You guys know we’ve been working a long time here to make sure that all of the things we have in our organization are encrypted. It’s for that reason. But to deal with encryption, on that digital recorder is a hard drive, and that’s they are trying to encrypt. The data, even though it is encrypted on the hard drive, however it gets out to Dragon, it should be decrypted as it comes out. It shouldn’t change the way that that data is used by Dragon. Or if you listen to it or whatever, it’s just one that did is at rest on the hard drive just sitting there, it’s encrypted and there is some sort of unlock code or key that decrypts it as it is being used. It shouldn’t make a difference in terms of how Dragon handles that. It is a good idea to encrypt your stuff because it does a really slow things down anymore and does at an extra layer of protection.
BRIAN NORTON: I think you go to Dragon website, which is nuance.com, they have a list of recorders that are compatible with Dragon. Sometimes I find that really useful because I know you can pretty much use a lot of different recorders for it, sound quality and those things really do play a part in how Dragon transcribes information. Take a look at their website and look for compatible recorders. I think it’s a good place to start. I do think Olympus and Philips recorders that have some level of encryption built into their devices. Look for that piece as well as you are looking at the manufacturer websites for those particular devices to see if that’s something that comes with those types of recorders.
The other thing I’ll throw out is I was also thinking, you can also use — and this is something I didn’t know was out there — but there seems to be a Dragon recorder app. Are you guys familiar with that?
WADE WINGLER: I’m not sure.
JOSH ANDERSON: I believe it’s free and works as almost a voice memo app. I believe you just bring it over to your Dragon software. I’ve never actually used it though. I never really had a need for it.
BRIAN NORTON: I knew there was a Dragon app that use to do transcribing on your phone and you could copy into different apps with text. I didn’t realize there was a specific Dragon recorder app. I was thinking maybe you could use your encrypted cell phone and use that Dragon recorder app to protect that data and email it to yourself. I haven’t use that for. There is a YouTube video that explains more about that. It’s called Dragon recorder app. Take a look at that as well. Maybe you can use your encrypted cell phone as a possibility to do that.
WADE WINGLER: But something to think about what that, most of the time, when I have seen voice activation be done in a cell phone where you are dictating and it is turning get into text or just recording, the processing happens in the cloud. Again, I am putting my HIPAA — this is what I deal with a lot during the day. Data that is being handled needs to be encrypted in transit and at rest. If the data that the voice file sitting on your phone, and your phone is encrypted, then that is a good thing. You are come from that perspective. By the way, you can know your phone is encrypted, and an iPhone for example, is if you have a passcode, it is encrypted. You just know that if you have to put in for six digit to unlock your iPhone, then your phone is encrypted and you could do similar things on Android. You are good there if the data is encrypted and is on your phone. But if it goes into the cloud to be processed or to be stored or whatever, then you have to know that the app is encrypted while the data is in transit. You’ll see a lot of apps said things like HIPAA compliant or HIPAA secure or uses AES 128-bit encryption or whatever so that you know that when the data is moving, it is encrypted as well.
Then you have to worry about — I know I am getting HIPAA nerdy. Brian is giving me the look.
BRIAN NORTON: [snoring sound]
WADE WINGLER: And if the data lands on somebody else’s server, you need to put a business associate agreement in place with them because they have custody of your data. There are lots of boxes that need to be checked here. This is all from my HIPAA perspective. A digital recorder that is encrypted that is not talking to the cloud probably is going to be okay. Your phone gets trickier.
BRIAN NORTON: Like a Wade says, we have the conversations a lot. Most of the time I find myself beating my head against the wall because I can never get over the wall of HIPAA. I want to do so many things, but that is like that does go out to the cloud. It gets transcribed elsewhere and send back to me. We have no insurance of what they’re doing with that data once they have it. Do they keep it? Do they get rid of it? I’m assuming they get rid of it. I thought Facebook got rid of my stuff too.
WADE WINGLER: Exactly.
JOSH ANDERSON: Did you really?
BRIAN NORTON: I don’t know. What a mess. It’s hard.
WADE WINGLER: It’s supposed to be. IT and security is supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to be, vacated and inconvenient. That’s what keeps the bad guys out.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s like when I try to fill out a state travel form, and they make it just hard enough that it’s like, do I really want to go there? Is it really all that important? Do I want to travel there? By the time I’m halfway to the form, I’m like, no. I think I’m okay.
WADE WINGLER: So many hoops. You don’t get to do that with HIPAA. You have to jump through the hoops.
BRIAN NORTON: I have to go through the hoops. Darn. I would ask and encourage folks who are listening, if you’ve used a particular recorder and have run into that similar situation, let us know. We would love to know what you are actually using, if it is a specific manufacturer recorder or model of a recorder, we would love to hear from you on that. I would also say, if you use HIPAA and you put your head against the wall as well, let me know because I want to know that I am a part of a group.
WADE WINGLER: A very happy, supportive, encouraging group.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s right. Maybe that’s another podcast we can have, just talking about HIPAA.
JOSH ANDERSON: On the thing if you do find one that is encrypted, talk to your IT department just to make sure it is compliant with what they say is compliant. Trust me. I ask Wade all the time even if I think I may be right. I still prefer to make sure.
BRIAN NORTON: Eventually, if I screw up
JOSH ANDERSON: You can say they said it was okay.
BRIAN NORTON: I’m not going to get the get out of jail free card.
WADE WINGLER: Speaking of Facebook, there is a very funny HIPAA Facebook group where the people post these cartoons of absurd HIPAA things all the time. You might get a giggle out of it because people talk about silly HIPAA stuff. Didn’t know I would be talking HIPAA.
BRIAN NORTON: Thanks, Wade, for all your HIPAA knowledge. Thanks for divulging that and spelling it out for us.
WADE WINGLER: No problem.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent.
***[14:56] Question Two – Portable, counter-height stools
BRIAN NORTON: Don’t forget, if you guys have a question or feedback, take some time and let us know. A couple of different ways to do that, you can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124. Or send us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org.
Our next mission is, I am looking for a counter height, portable stool or office chair. Any suggestions?
WADE WINGLER: Like a barstool?
BRIAN NORTON: Like a barstool but it has to be portable. You can pick it up and take it with you.
WADE WINGLER: Like a pub crawl stool. A barstool that you can take with you.
JOSH ANDERSON: Maybe that’s what it’s for. You never know.
BRIAN NORTON: I think it is vocationally related. It could serve a couple of different purposes.
JOSH ANDERSON: It depends on your vocation.
BRIAN NORTON: I get a work computer and I use it for everything else too.
WADE WINGLER: We just talked about HIPAA in the last segment.
BRIAN NORTON: Oh, no I do not. Never. I don’t know. As we talk about portable counter height stools — what else did I call it?
JOSH ANDERSON: Office chair.
BRIAN NORTON: Office chair type of thing, there are lots of options out there. I think you have to get specific with how high you want it, how durable you want it, how portable you want it. Josh, you are mentioning wheels. Does it need to have wheels to move it around? Is it in a building or am I taking it from building to building? Am I moving across the town?
JOSH ANDERSON: It depends on the need. Yeah, they make ones that fold. There are all kinds of them. But they are a fixed height. You’re not going to be adjusting them up and down. If we are talking about somebody who is shorter stature and needs just to be able to come up to most tables, then maybe something like that would be okay. It’s going to be lighter weights. Usually anything that will go up and down usually has some sort of hydraulic system, so you will have a little bit of weight to it.
BRIAN NORTON: Right. You mentioned barstool or those. There is a foldable barstool with backrest. It’s about $89. The website that I found one at is eventstable.com.
JOSH ANDERSON: So they are folding party chairs kind of thing?
BRIAN NORTON: It has a foot rest for folks. One of the challenges is when you are on a counter had stool or chair, you have to have something to put your feet on so you keep yourself seated.
JOSH ANDERSON: If you sit there too long, your feet fall asleep.
WADE WINGLER: They dangle.
BRIAN NORTON: This one was a folding one. I thought it looked interesting. There is a video you can play once you are there to see how it. And those types of thing. It looks durable. I would think it is made by Atlas. They make lots of different types of equipment and chairs and tables and other types of stuff. I think it has some durability with it. It does fold and is a folding barstool. Something to consider.
JOSH ANDERSON: If you don’t need something quite that portable, like we said something with wheels would work, maybe you are just moving it from a few different offices, it might not be a bad idea to reach out to your local tech act. They might have ones with different kinds of ways of sitting, things like that, saddle chairs, all kinds of different ones. You can try them out and see which one is more comfortable for you and borrow it and see if it will work out to your office. Some of those can get more pricey, anywhere from about $150-$600 depending on what kind of features and things you need. If you need one you have to be able to carry around, you are probably going to need something fixed height that is portable.
BRIAN NORTON: And then all the bells and whistles. As far as assistive technology acts, we are INDATA, Indiana’s assistive technology act. Every state and territory has one here in the United States. For international listeners, I’m not sure if you have comparable agencies or places like ours like the AT act here in the United States. If you are in the United States and are looking for your local AT act in your state or territory, you can find the information at EasterSealsTech.com/states. They will give you the directory. Probably the person to call — usually they break it out by category or by service. Look under demo and alone and look for the contact person and give them a call. They would be able to give you some good information about what they have available.
Like you said, Josh, here at hours we have probably 10 or 12 different types of chairs. Some are very ergonomic, have lots of bells and whistles to get things adjusted for somebody. But then we also have some standard bar height and other types of chairs, task chairs the folks in use and try out. One of the chairs I love a lot — again, depending on the height of the counter you’re looking for. I know counters are taller. But depending on how high, one of the chairs I really like is called the Sally saddle chair. That is one that, instead of sitting more on a flat seat pan, you have more of a saddle look to it. It is supposed to be able to keep your spine aligned as you sit in it and provide some improved posture while sitting. A lot of them have this a bar, kind of an armrest, that’s things out in front or is fixed in front of you to keep you in it. Again, if you’re working on a task and are a high, it gives you a little bit of a lending post to lean forward on something as you work on a particular task you are working on at that moment. Something to consider for sure called Sally saddle chair. Or I believe Jobri has one, J-O-B-R-I.
JOSH ANDERSON: I think there are about two or three companies that make a version of the saddle chair. If I’m not mistaken, I think they are about the same price.
BRIAN NORTON: Right. The other options I would mention for seating is often times you run across — they are not a real chair. For lack of a better term, they are a leaning post, if you will.
JOSH ANDERSON: Stick on a ball. It’s kind of what they look like.
BRIAN NORTON: They hold you fully upright, but you are not sitting. You are kind of just leaning back on it to be able to provide some support. That reminds me, it reminds me of something I’m sitting on Facebook recently.
JOSH ANDERSON: Be careful.
BRIAN NORTON: Not anybody’s personal information. Have you seen on Facebook, they are almost like an exoskeleton for your legs? You are able to practically sit down, and you are just sitting on the exoskeleton? Have you seen the ad that comes across for those?
WADE WINGLER: I’ve seen some exoskeleton stuff on Facebook, but I think I’m thinking of something different.
BRIAN NORTON: You kind of lean back like you are going to sit, and this exoskeleton hold you up in the seated position. I thought it was interesting. Back to the question at hand, you may take a look at some of the leaning post that are out there. Uplift has a couple of them and there are a couple of other companies as well.
JOSH ANDERSON: They are usually pretty lightweight aren’t they?
BRIAN NORTON: They are really lightweight.
JOSH ANDERSON: Kind of a rubberized plastic. That might not be a bad way either.
BRIAN NORTON: With that rubberized plastic, they are very durable and are going to hold up over time. They don’t offer a whole lot of cushion. If you’re going to do something for eight hours, maybe not the best solution because you’re not getting a lot of padding when you are sitting in those. It may be another option for you as well.
I’ll kind of open it up to our listeners as well for feedback on that. We all probably sit in something all day we are working or whatever. If you have come across a bar height portable stool or seat, a chair, let us know. We would love to hear from you. To do that — I love to get tweets.
WADE WINGLER: He sure does. He love to have the twitter.
BRIAN NORTON: We are going to get to one later. You can send us a tweet with hashtag ATFAQ. We actually got one this week. I’m excited to get to that question in a minute. Let us know if you found something, hashtag ATFAQ. Or call us on our listener line. We love to give was most as well. That’s 317-721-7124.
***[23:37] Question Three – Custom commands in Dragon
BRIAN NORTON: All right, so our next question is about Dragon software. It is, I work with several third-party applications at my workplace and use the Dragon software for accessing my computer. Within many of these applications, the standard Dragon commands don’t work, so I’d like to make some custom commands and they want to know how to go about doing that.
For those that have used Dragon for a while, depending on the version of Dragon — I guess that’s the place to start. Depending on your version of Dragon, you have a couple of different things available to you. Back when there was premium edition of Dragon — I think they still have premium. Is that right?
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s professional and individual now, isn’t it?
BRIAN NORTON: They don’t have a premium version?
JOSH ANDERSON: I really want to say there is one version now. Wade, you may have to look. With 15, I’ve only seen Dragon 15 professional and individual. I may be completely wrong and what that is called. It may be premium and individual.
BRIAN NORTON: Let me just to break it down like this. In the less expensive versions of Dragon, there used to be something that would allow you to do text macros. So no matter where your cursor was, you could say things like my address, and it would put in 1234 Maple Dr.
JOSH ANDERSON: Hey, that’s my real address.
WADE WINGLER: HIPAA.
BRIAN NORTON: You can do text macros. So by saying a one word or two word or three wood phrase, it would put in a whole bunch of words for you, which made it really simple for folks who were challenge with input, being able to speed up. If you said things that were redundant throughout your day, you could the speed that up by giving a custom text macro command. That’s option one.
WADE WINGLER: I’m looking at the website. They have four versions of Dragon now, Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home, Dragon NaturallySpeaking premium, Dragon professional individual, and Dragon professional individual for Mac. But none of them talk about macros, at least on their side-by-side comparison sheet where they talk about the features.
JOSH ANDERSON: Looking at that, not counting the Mac one, are all of those version 15? Or is the home and first when you said version 13?
WADE WINGLER: It doesn’t say.
JOSH ANDERSON: Okay.
BRIAN NORTON: If you are premium or home, I’m assuming you only have text macros and that’s just being able to speed up the text input. If you have professional version — and I think professional, the individual professional version that is out now is about $300. Not a whole lot expensive, less expensive than it used to be to get a professional version of Dragon. With that version of Dragon, you have some pretty cool tools. You can do custom macros with that. There are a couple of different options for you. The first thing you can do with that would be step-by-step macros. That basically allows you to add a new command where you can name the macro and essentially you have a drop-down box with some different things, like if you wanted to open up an application, you can say open application, go search your computer for the application you want to open up. Let’s say we wanted to go in and open up Facebook through Internet Explorer. You can say open application, have it open Internet Explorer, and then what I would do is I would say would be keystrokes, and in the keystrokes I would put command A to go to the address bar. Once I am there, I would then say keystrokes again, or maybe even say type text. I would say type in www.Facebook.com. Once it is done doing that, I would say keystrokes, maybe have it hit the enter key, and would fire off all the series of commands that you did step-by-step to be able to load the program. So when I would say go to my Facebook page, it would open up Internet Explorer, put the cursor in the address bar, type in Facebook.com, and then it would go hit the enter key and bring up Facebook for me. It’s a way to do step-by-step commands where you can really get things hammered out one step at a time.
The other thing you can do is another thing called macro recorder. Macro recorder is really interesting. It will allow you to go through and hit the record button, a little tape recorder looking window will pop up. It will simply follow the cursor wherever you go, where vehicle with a mouse, wherever you go with keystrokes, it’ll record all of those things in sequence and then create a command that is attached to a simple recorder. It is by far the easiest version of these custom commands that are out there, but it works really well. If I wanted to open up Facebook, I would simply hit record, move my mouse over to the start menu button in the bottom left-hand part of my screen, do a left click, move up to Internet Explorer which is in my shortcut menu on my Windows start menu. I would click it, and then once that window opens up, I would go up to the address bar, click it, then I type in my text Facebook.com and hit the enter key. It has recorded all of that. When I hit stop, it’ll say that as a command. Now I just have to say go to Facebook.com, and you actually see. It’s a little creepy, to be honest with you. You’ll see your mouse move across the screen to your start menu, do a click, go up to Internet Explorer which is in your Windows start menu, click on it. You just simply watch it almost like someone is remotely controlling your computer by watching your mouse move around the screen, click, and type keystrokes at your computer. It’s a really simple way to make those commands go for you.
JOSH ANDERSON: Could you go over how to get to those again?
BRIAN NORTON: Great, Josh. Are you trying to stump me? Go to your DragonBar, and I believe it is tools. Then you go to tools and I believe there is an option called my commands or add a new command. From there it will open up a dialog box where you can type in the custom name you want to give the command. Down below it, you can say command type. That’s where you’ll find step-by-step, macro recorder, and I think there is another one. Then there is a big edit box where you can start putting in your custom stuff.
JOSH ANDERSON: I promise I wasn’t doing that to be a jerk. It is super cool feature.
BRIAN NORTON: If you could see me sweating when he asked that question.
WADE WINGLER: Brian, could you show me how to make an omelette with sun-dried tomatoes and blue cheese and fresh spinach?
JOSH ANDERSON: How do I make my own sun-dried tomatoes?
WADE WINGLER: Get some tomatoes and let them dry.
JOSH ANDERSON: Only on a dry day, right?
BRIAN NORTON: Is that really what you do?
WADE WINGLER: Yeah.
BRIAN NORTON: There is not some sort of chemical process you put them through?
JOSH ANDERSON: Is that when they are called sun-dried?
WADE WINGLER: They are sun-dried tomatoes.
JOSH ANDERSON: Not chemically dried tomatoes.
WADE WINGLER: In today’s world, you might assume there is some sort of formaldehyde involve or something. I’m pretty sure you put tomatoes out, let it dry.
JOSH ANDERSON: We went a little off subject there.
BRIAN NORTON: Step-by-step. You have a macro recorder. That I believe Visual Basic is the scripting which behind all of Dragon. I believe you can use some basic scripting as well. I’m not a Visual Basic scriptor. I’ve only looked at it and seen it.
WADE WINGLER: That’s the visual part.
JOSH ANDERSON: Know if I could just get to the basic.
WADE WINGLER: It’s pretty basic and I look at it.
JOSH ANDERSON: So I guess I got it.
BRIAN NORTON: I did cover that stuff done. I wish I could learn Visual Basic. I think a lot of things run off that nowadays. That’s another way to do custom commands. Again, I might have misspoken about how to get there because Josh through the out of left field.
JOSH ANDERSON: Do you want to go through that again?
WADE WINGLER: Let this segment end please.
BRIAN NORTON: Let us know if you have any experience with those. I think that all worked fairly well and are easy to use.
WADE WINGLER: Or if you have any good omelette recipes with sun-dried tomatoes. capers are good.
***[32:39] Question Four – Accessible online MBA programs
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question was an email from Jay. Jay is a regular participant or person that calls in and leaves us questions. I guess that would be a caller or emailer —
WADE WINGLER: But not a Twitter-er.
BRIAN NORTON: He is. He did it me a shout out on Twitter. Let me read what he sent. He says, hi, longtime listener of ATFAQ pod. Keep up the good work. I’m toying with the idea of earning my MBA using an online university. Can you advise me as a visually impaired person which online education programs are the highest rated for accessibility, both for technical and educational perspective? Specifically, are you aware of which online programs are solid with the use of screen readers, magnification, and voiceover? And the use of a screen reader will tell you there is never any consistency of which browser works best, and incompatible program or update that came out of left field to bring daily activities to a halt. I couldn’t have even dreamed of attempting this milestone five, 10, or 25 years ago. I got through college 26 years ago with Kurzweil. My concern is not the school work. It’s making an investment only to realize are not have the technical back and support to accomplish the tasks that I need to accomplish. Any thoughts? This is where it gets good. PS, Brian, happy to show you some twitter love with the hashtag ATFAQ shout out. You haven’t mentioned twitter in a while.
Back to MBA programs and stuff like that with accessibility built in and I kind of stuff.
WADE WINGLER: You guys are looking at me because I have an MBA in a teach online, right?
BRIAN NORTON: Kind of looking at you.
WADE WINGLER: I’ll do that. Jay, thank you for the question, and also thank you for showing Brian the twitter love. He really enjoys with people tweet him. He might actually get on Twitter at some point if you do that.
BRIAN NORTON: Me and Kanye West, we are competing for twitter followers.
WADE WINGLER: Every story you tell these days starts with me and Kanye, me and Kanye this and that. Oh boy. Jay, I can’t answer your question directly with is there a list of programs that are online MBA programs that do well with screen readers and related technology. But I can tell you the things that I think you should be looking out for. In terms of your MBA program, I think an online MBA is a great option. I think that’s one of the programs you can do well with that way. I would look for one that is accredited. There are a few different accrediting bodies. The AACSB. I don’t know what it stands for, but that is kind of the gold standard accreditation for an MBA program, whether it is online or not. You want to look up the program academically from an accreditation standpoint, and AACSB is when you might look toward.
From the accessibility piece, this guess a little bit tricky because you have a couple of layers, actually several layers of accessibility you need to be thinking about. One is the LMS, or learning management system you’re using, built to be used with assistive technology. Most of them are. We have talked to the post over at Blackboard. Blackboard is, at least in my experience, one of the most popularly used are most commonly used learning management systems. Blackboard has done a lot to make sure that their system is accessible. In fact, if you head on over to blackboard.com/accessibility, you’re going to see a whole bunch of stuff that blackboard does to make sure that their learning management system works well with screen readers and other assistive technologies. If you haven’t experienced online education, and LMS or learning management system is basically the operating system for college. It is where you go to find your emails, your assignments, discuss and interact with other students. You might find chat rooms. You might find all different kinds of online tools that help you with just the educational process.
Here’s the problem. If you look at something like Windows or the Mac operating systems, those things are pretty inherently accessible, but people create content. As human beings, we are treating content to put on those platforms. If they put in accessible content on an accessible platform, you are still in accessible. Here are some of the things I’ve seen happen. I’ve seen blackboard, as one of the learning management systems that is accessible, but then I will see people scan in a chapter out of a textbook, leave it as an image or an image inside of a PDF, and upload that to the class and say read this handout. They’ve put some in accessible content up. Or, look at this image, look at this video, and they haven’t labeled the video or the image or haven’t put captions or things like that. You want to find an accredited program. You also want to make sure that they are using a commonly used learning management system. Blackboard is a popular one. Canvas is one I’m using more that seems to be pretty good in terms of accessibility.
But then you want to ask them to show you some samples of courses, if at all possible, so that you can get in and dig with your screen reader. Or ask to talk to other students they might have had who use assistive technology who have used the platform to get a feeling for, okay, you’ve selected an accessible tool, but do your faculty then take advantage of those accessibility features? Or somebody auditing the class to make sure that the faculty members are putting things up that are accessible. If you think you’ve got an accessible course, ask them how long they update them. As a faculty member, I had to update my classes every once in a while. If I forget to do the accessible parts of the updates, then I might have had a class that was successful but is less so now because I didn’t update the accessibility when I updated the course.
One of the things blackboard is working on is a accessibility checker, like spellcheck. I think it is called the blackboard accessibility checker or something like that. We did a podcast with the creators of that and number of years ago, and it was assistive technology update number 321. It released on July 21 of 2017. I interviewed Nicholas Mathis who was with Blackboard Ally, a program that helps faculty better use blackboard so that they are uploading and making the content accessible inside the learning management system.
I kind of rambled on. I think it is a great idea to look into it. Find something that is accredited, probably AACSB. Find some program that is using an element that can be made accessible. And then have a conversation with them about how they make sure their faculty know how to create accessible content and tag things and how did a monitor that so that they can be sure that the content is actually accessible. You get the chance here to help educate and ask some really good question so that people have raised awareness overall. That’s what I got about that. I’m not sure the list of programs that check all those boxes.
JOSH ANDERSON: Just to add to what Wade said, I’ve used canvas a lot. I’ve used blackboard some. The problem that he said are the big ones. A lot of folks put things in PowerPoint but don’t put in alt text behind the pictures and everything. One big workaround if you have the professor who scans in page after page of PDF and doesn’t make them accessible, if you’re willing to take the time, you can always print them out and you some sort of scanner software to read it. It’s a little bit of a workaround, but if you have that one who is not willing to take the time to do it, doesn’t know how, doesn’t want to be educated — and you will get a professor like that. I’m not saying Wade is that way, but I’m sure that somebody has probably had a professor like that. It is a workaround that I’ve had to use with students before just to get to that person’s class. Hopefully everyone else will do it the right way.
BRIAN NORTON: Wade, I guess I don’t know the answer to this question because it is a Masters program. Would your disability office or adaptive ed office —
WADE WINGLER: Still there.
BRIAN NORTON: They would be able to support you in advocating for changes to those classes or making certain things and getting certain accommodations for you within the class? That still happens right?
WADE WINGLER: The fact that it is grad school versus undergrad doesn’t matter. That stuff still applies. The fact that it is an online extension of a physical campus in most cases shouldn’t to make a difference either, but what I find is the class volumes tend to be higher in those situations. They tend to use more adjunct faculty like myself who may or may not — that is not there full-time thing, so they may not be up on accessibility. There is a lot more going on in an online graduate program, a lot more people who are generally less involved full-time, so there is a lot to keep track of from the program management standpoint. But the disability offices or the accessibility office, whatever it is called in each particular campus, is still in play. You can reach out to them and say I’m an online student, having issues with accessibility’s. How can you help? Hopefully that turns into a positive experience that turns on resources for the online program and they can work to make it better.
BRIAN NORTON: Here’s a little plug for our website. For those in you know listeners, we have a list of all the disability offices for most universities and colleges. I want to say we have the majority on our website, EasterSealsTech.com/highereducation. It’s a list of all of the colleges and universities here in the state. It’s a link to the adaptive ed office or disability office. Check that out if you are listener in Indiana and want more information on that.
WADE WINGLER: It’s EasterSealsTech.com/college.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent.
***[43:01] Question Five – Aira glasses
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is, I am interested in the Aira glasses but have several questions. One, what is the cost? Two, how do they work? Three, who are the agents? Are they trained? Do I have a dedicated agent? Is this a 24 hour service? Lastly, are there other products that offer what the Aira glasses offer?
First, I guess we ought to tackle what Aira is. I guess I can throw out on that a little bit. They are a pair of glasses that have a camera, and you are connected to a live agent. They are used by folks who are blind or visually impaired for orientation and mobility, being able to have a sighted guide with you at all times —
JOSH ANDERSON: A sighted assistant. I don’t think I would use the word guide because they make sure to tell you that that person is not going to tell you it’s safe to cross the street, those kinds of things. Guide might not be the right word just to make sure folks know it doesn’t replace a dog or something else you might need for that kind of guidance.
BRIAN NORTON: What I think makes it a really unique product is because you have a live person, and they have the ability to have the web, have Google at their fingertips, when you call into this service, and let’s say you are in downtown Indianapolis. You were going to ask them is a bank around. If they are not able to see it to the glasses as you may scan where you are, they can pull up on the web and say there is one at the corner of tenth and Illinois, or whatever. They can then walk and guide you there. They have the Internet at their disposal to be able to help you get places, look at menus and other types of things, and really give you more help than may be a dedicated device that is simply doing scan and read and whatnot.
JOSH ANDERSON: For sure. From my understanding, not only that, but they are also more immersive, can tell you things. Not only there is a sushi restaurant on your left, but there is a sushi restaurant with a green roof and 10 people standing out the door so it looks like they are pretty busy. Or there is nobody here so it’s not the best place or they are not open yet, things like that. They can tell you. One of the questions was who are the agents and are they trained? From my understanding, they go through pretty extensive training because they are going to be looking at what you see to the glasses. As Brian said, they are also going to be online, looking at Google, looking at maps, menus of places. Where can I get a good meatball sub? They will sit there and find all the different places, find the yelp reviews, tell you which ones are the best ones and which are closer and get you there.
BRIAN NORTON: It comes down to, I think a lot of the training is spent on working on how to educate people on how to provide audio description. That’s really what they are doing. There is a level of understanding and being able to verbally tell someone, as a look at someone, not just what they are wearing but what does their face look like, what is their demeanor. It requires a lot of information to be able to describe something in a way that provides them the whole picture and not just a partial understanding of what is in front of you. There is a lot of training that goes into those folks.
There’s another question about cost. That’s interesting. You don’t just buy this product out right and have access to trained agents 24/7. It’s a little bit like buying a cell phone package. You pay monthly subscription costs for the service. You don’t even have to buy the glasses. The glasses come with the subscription. For 100 minutes a month, it’s $89. For 200 minutes a month, it’s $129. For 400 minutes, it’s $199. Unlimited minutes is $329 a month. That’s expensive, but you are getting the product with it. Know if you stop the subscription, I believe you have to send the glasses back.
JOSH ANDERSON: I’m not 100 percent sure how it works. Are they still doing it where they send you the two glasses? The one glasses with a camera in the middle and the others that are like a Google glass sort of thing?
BRIAN NORTON: I don’t know.
JOSH ANDERSON: I know for a while they were sending both. It also comes with a AT&T MiFi receiver so that you are not using up your data on your cell phone plan, which is kind of a nice feature. If you only have so much data, if you think about pain that monthly service fee and then also using up all the data on your phone, they can get even more expensive. I believe at that price you also get training sessions and insurance for hardware as well.
WADE WINGLER: You do.
JOSH ANDERSON: So it’s covered in case something would happen to it, which is kind of nice.
BRIAN NORTON: To talk about the agents more, you don’t have a dedicated agent. When you call in, you’ll get assigned to one that is open at that moment. It would be kind of cool to have a dedicated one, but that’s hard to do based on when you might need the service. You don’t have a dedicated agent, and it’s not a 24 hour service. I believe it is available to folks between 7 AM and 1 AM Eastern time. Be careful with that. If you are stranded in the middle of the night someplace, they are not going to be there to help you out.
To be honest with you, the other question I was asked with this one, are there other products that offer with the Aira glasses offer. There really aren’t. There isn’t another cited assistant type of product out there.
JOSH ANDERSON: The only thing I can think of on a much smaller scale is that be my eyes app. That’s on a much, much smaller — you open up the app. When you first set it up, you set it up as either a sighted individual or someone with a visual disability. Whenever you first set it, you open it up, and if you are someone who is low vision or blind, it will ring one of the agents who is a sighted person. Usually you asked them a quick question, like what’s the date on this milk or something like that. It’s much smaller scale but is the only thing I can think of that you do have a real person on the other side of the line.
BRIAN NORTON: Not a trained person.
JOSH ANDERSON: Not a trained person. Just someone that signed up. They say I’m not going to be vulgar, not going to do bad things.
WADE WINGLER: Promise.
JOSH ANDERSON: And then cross their fingers behind their back in a really Vogler when you get to them. That’s the only thing I can think of that does even anything like that even though it is not comparable. It’s a one-of-a-kind idea. I do see more and more people with it. Whatever they have a low vision Expo downtown, I’ve never seen anyone there with it. I believe last time, which was last September, I know I saw at least two, maybe three people using the service and going around and finding their way to each booth using the service, which was cool.
BRIAN NORTON: It works really well from the demonstrations that have been provided to me. It’s a very interesting product. We are seeing a lot of head worn wearable devices, glasses devices that help with OCR and scanning. Again, not necessarily with sighted assistance other than the be my eyes app which gets you a sliver of what Aira offers.
JOSH ANDERSON: Exactly.
WADE WINGLER: If you want more about I wrote, I’m plucking assistive to bunch up to a lot today, but back in December 2017 we interviewed Tiffany Minoch who is with Aira. She’s what they call an Explorer, someone who wears we all day and she explains all of what it is like and how it works and go through some of that stuff as well. If you want to hear about a half hour discussion with Tiffany, who was a very successful user of it, that’s episode 341 of assistive technology update.
***[51:24] Wildcard Question
WADE WINGLER: And now it’s time for the wildcard question.
BRIAN NORTON: So our next question is from Wade. It’s the wildcard question. This is where I throw the mic — I don’t ever throw the mic.
WADE WINGLER: You always say you are throwing stuff.
BRIAN NORTON: I like to throw things. Beat my head against the wall about hippo and throw things. We throw the mic to Wade and he asks a question we are not prepared for. What have you got today?
WADE WINGLER: Last weekend, my family and I went on a thing called the great race, which is a local road trip a scavenger hunt kind of thing. A bunch of people in their cars showed up at a Park, and the guy who was leading the thing gives is an envelope. That on La Paz clues and cues and we go to the next place and get more cues. Throughout the day we keep getting these envelopes. We did all kinds of fun stuff. We hiked and the historical monuments and spend a lot of great time with my kids in the car. It was a great family day. We love to do that kind of stuff. It was interesting because they said in preparation for this, you need to bring a few things like a basketball and a bedfellow in different stuff. One of the things I was supposed to bring was a roadmap of the state of Indiana. My wife said have a get a roadmap? I said, no, I don’t. I’ll just run into the gas station and grab one. That we will have one. I figure 2 or three dollars and we are done. I went to the gas station a few blocks away and said, hey, where do you keep your roadmaps? They looked at me like there was something wrong with me. They said we don’t have those. I said okay, so I went to the next gas station. I walked in and said where do you guys keep your roadmaps? And they looked at me like something was wrong again. They said we use to have those on the magazine rack back when we had magazines. But nobody uses the stuff anymore. I went to seven stores in the little town where I live, and never found a roadmap of the state of Indiana. I finally did find one at Walmart the next day and paid $10 for a laminated one. The clerk said something to me that really struck me. He said we used to have them on the magazine rack, when we had magazines. It’s all digital now.
20 or 30 years ago, we would’ve been crazy about how awesome it would be if all of these things were digital because we would have GPS and digital magazines and stuff like that. Now you can’t buy a roadmap, and I’m having a hard time finding magazines in print format. The question is do you know where to buy a roadmap? Is this a good thing or a bad thing for accessibility? Is this just the end of an era? You can’t get roadmaps anymore, that we all rely on GPS. Is this good or bad?
JOSH ANDERSON: That’s major-league two questions. No, I don’t know where to buy a roadmap. I do still have an atlas in my car, but it is at least 15 years old so it’s probably not very up to date and get you lost a few times. Is it a good thing? I don’t know. But you asked is it a good thing for accessibility? I would have to say yes.
BRIAN NORTON: Absolutely.
JOSH ANDERSON: If I have a visual impairment, looking at a map isn’t going to be the easiest thing in the world, whereas my phone can’t tell me turn by turn exactly how to get places.
BRIAN NORTON: Go beyond that. If I have a physical disability, holding a map and folding it out to the four by 10 pages.
JOSH ANDERSON: I don’t even have a physical disability. I can’t refold a map to save my life.
BRIAN NORTON: Maps are a little bit like math. It’s not a linear type of stuff. There is context to it. You can think of the word I’m looking for but there is a little bit more to it. When you try to read a math equation, you can’t do it if it is a paper form. You can scan or read it. Having something that is digital and you can zoom in, and it does it for you. When it gives you the step-by-step or road by road direction to stuff, I think it is helpful and inherently useful for folks with disabilities. A lot of things on your phone with voiceover are going to read those things to you as you come to the turn by turn. I got my watch that buses me when I get close to a particular turn and it is tell me that stuff. I think with accessibility, it is much more accessible.
JOSH ANDERSON: To take that a different way, whenever we just think of access. You can buy a whole lot of maps and magazines for the price of a cell phone. Your cell phone per month cost about 25 to 30 magazine subscriptions and two maps?
WADE WINGLER: Probably.
JOSH ANDERSON: If you look at access financially, if I don’t have any money, I’m not going to be able to afford a cell phone iPad to even access this stuff. How do I access those? That’s playing devils advocate.
BRIAN NORTON: Or I’ll play devils advocate to your devils advocate.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s getting hot in here.
BRIAN NORTON: As they at a new subdivision, as they add roads, you’re going to buy a whole new set of maps. You are going to make your cost back.
JOSH ANDERSON: But if I’m getting a $30 atlas every year, or paying $100 cell phone bill on a $600 iPhone, that’s a lot of maps. I could insulate my house with those maps that are not using and still come out ahead. At the same time, like you said, with the physical impairment, sensory impairment, things like that, it does open up a whole world of access to get to those. At the same time, cost -wise, it’s a big difference.
BRIAN NORTON: Is there a reason you needed a real map?
WADE WINGLER: Turns out we didn’t.
BRIAN NORTON: You just needed your GPS?
WADE WINGLER: We didn’t really use the map.
BRIAN NORTON: Did you go back to Walgreens and turn it back in?
WADE WINGLER: My wife said she was going to take it back. I don’t know if she actually did it or not. She thought it would be helpful to keep it and have it in the house. What if the GPS satellites disappear or there is no power? Is not a bad idea to have a physical backup map.
BRIAN NORTON: We have an atlas in my car. We used it with the girls. You should use it with your kids. As you travel, it keeps them occupied because they keep looking for the next town and the next town and the next town. I think it’s an important skill to read a map because they are not always going to have a GPS. I feel like I’ve lost something that I used to have when I would try to find the place. I could go there once I get there every last time because I was paying attention to the landmarks around me. Nowadays, I can’t do that because I listen to the stupid lady in my device. She’s just telling me in 500 feet, turn left. I’m not even looking around and noticing what’s around me. I’m just waiting for the lady to tell me turn now.
WADE WINGLER: You are part of the problem.
JOSH ANDERSON: Recalculating.
BRIAN NORTON: There’s that.
WADE WINGLER: It’s tricky. I thought it would be no big deal to go out and buy a roadmap. I figured they would still have them at the gas stations, but they didn’t. I think it’s the end of an era.
JOSH ANDERSON: Before that, when was the last time you bought a roadmap?
WADE WINGLER: I have no idea.
JOSH ANDERSON: I can think of it besides a 15-year-old atlas.
BRIAN NORTON: I’m chuckling in my head because if Belva were here, she still uses MapQuest.
JOSH ANDERSON: She finally stopped using MapQuest. She finally gave it up. Her daughter-in-law was my wife and my realtor, and she went to the wrong town. Right address, around town, by using MapQuest. I wasn’t mad because I could make fun of her and Belva for using MapQuest. I believe Belva has finally got away from MapQuest.
WADE WINGLER: We miss you, Belva. Come back.
BRIAN NORTON: Please do. Please don’t forget, if you have a question or any feedback for the questions that we asked or try to answer today, let us know. We would love to hear from you. Have a listener line set up, 317-721-7124. You can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. Or send us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. We would love to hear from you. We certainly want your questions and feedback. In fact, without those, we really don’t have a show. That’s it. Thank you guys and have a great one. We will talk to you guys in a couple 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 Josh Anderson 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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