Panel – Brian Norton, Josh Anderson, and Wade Wingler (We miss you, Belva!) | Q1 Max Zoom with Magnification Q2 AT Act Services Q3 Low vision scanning Q4 Website and Document Accessibility Q5 Text-to-speech options on windows computer Q6 Ring doorbells
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. The world of assistive technology has questions, and we have answers. And now here’s your host, Brian Norton.
BRIAN NORTON: Hello and welcome to ATFAQ episode 76. My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of ATFAQ. We are so happy that you’ve taken some time this week to tune in with us. But before we get ready to jump into the questions that you sent in, I wanted to take a moment to go around the room and introduce the folks who are sitting in here with me. First off — I usually say, hey Belva, how are you doing — but Belva once again isn’t here with us. But we are so excited that she will on our next show.
WADE WINGLER: Yay.
JOSH ANDERSON: Yay.
BRIAN NORTON: In the meantime, Josh is here, the manager of clinical assistive technology. You want to say hey?
JOSH ANDERSON: Hi everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: We also have Wade, the popular host of Assistive Technology Update, and vice president here at Easter Seals Crossroads. How are you doing today?
WADE WINGLER: I’m doing okay but it’s kind of a letdown, because we miss Belva so much. Belva will be back, but in the meantime you get these jokers.
JOSH ANDERSON: I noticed that.
WADE WINGLER: Come back Belva. Hey everybody, glad to be here.
BRIAN NORTON: Of course I’m here, Brian Norton. I’m the director of assistive technology here at Easter Seals crossroads. We are so thankful that you guys are here with us. For folks who are new to our show, I just want to let you know a little bit about how it works, what the format of our show is. We collect feedback and look across various assistive technology platforms for AT related questions throughout the week. A couple of the ways you guys can contribute to the show. We have a listener line, which is 317-721-7124. You can also email us at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. Or you can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. We monitor that. Those are ways to collect questions you sent in. Feel free to do that. We love your questions. In fact, without your questions, we don’t have a show. We would love to hear from you.
Without further ado, we’re going to jump in today. The first thing that we want to do is go over some feedback from last week. We had a caller call in. I think we were tackling a question about a talking multimeter, and he had a couple of things to say about that.
SPEAKER: Howdy, this is David leaving a message for AT frequently asked questions. There was a recent episode — and I didn’t get a chance to find the number. A recent episode where a questioner was asking about a multimeter for electronics that was talking. I think it was implied that he had some sort of vision problem. Anyway, I was listening to another podcast, blind bargains. One of their hosts, JJ Meadows, had mentioned there was an arduino project that’s being conducted, making it into a speaking multimeter. He talked about it on his website a little bit in the month of May. He has an article talking about the program. I don’t know if they make ones that are already ready to go or if it is just you turn the arduino into a talking multimeter. But it’s blindbargains.com. If you go to that site and keyword talking multimeter or whatever, it should pop up. It was in one of the many blog posts.
Additionally, while I was looking at the site, over the last couple of years he has mentioned a company out of Florida, MPJA.com, it stands for Marlon P Jones and Associates. They are an electronics store out of Florida. Once again, it’s MPJA.com. They’ve been selling a talking multimeter for several years now, and it’s about $39.99, something like that. I hope that helps your listeners. It was insightful for me. Thanks you guys for the great job you do. Talk to you later.
BRIAN NORTON: Thank you, Dan. This is exactly why I love this show, you we get folks calling in and can provide our listeners with extra information. That was great information about a talking multimeter and how folks can learn more about that. Thank you for that.
WADE WINGLER: I thought you liked us.
BRIAN NORTON: I do like you, but I think I’m liking Dan more. The one I’ll tell you what, this chair is warm but only 40 minutes. You can come and sit in my chair. How far are you from Indianapolis? It’s a good time to be here in May. We have racing and stuff.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent.
***[5:37] Question 1 – Max Zoom with Magnification
BRIAN NORTON: Our first question for the day is from Claire. This was an email she had sent in. She says, hi ATFAQshow. I’d like to know your thoughts on when someone should switch to using a screen reader rather than screen magnification. She mentions I use ZoomText with a seven times at work. She’s having trouble scrolling the screen, looking for different elements and menus and find it frustrating and further causes eyestrain and headaches throughout the day and at the end of the day. I think she’s about had it\with it.
That’s a really great question. We get that question a lot.
WADE WINGLER: She’s right there on the bubble.
JOSH ANDERSON: Usually I go in anything over six. Once you get up to that, you are missing information. Is taking up a lot of space. You are going to have a lot of eyestrain. Still one I was at five or six times, especially if your condition is degenerative, if we know it’s getting worse. If you are at five or six and we have pinhole vision or something that’s fairly stable and you are comfortable with it, but by five and six times, I’m usually starting to look towards speech or at least a plan towards that, or braille or whatever.
BRIAN NORTON: I think that’s key for me. It’s the plan. It’s all about personal preference. I have folks who — I just met with someone earlier in the week. They were using 30 times, which is way too large. I talked to them about moving over to a screen reader full-time. Again, personal preference. He wants to use what vision he has and will continue to use that until he doesn’t have that vision. Personal preference rules the day. As you said, having a plan for that, especially if you’re vision is degenerative, is really important. I start talking to folks as soon as they get to four times, five times magnification. They really need to start thinking about a transition plan, especially if it is degenerative in nature. We start talking about what that looks like, start talking to the funding source that this may be something that happens and needs to happen down the road, that they can go ahead and get the software now and start working toward that and in a couple of years when maybe they need to make that move, they are ready for it and not surprised and unable to be productive at work or wherever they find themselves once that happens.
WADE WINGLER: Your use case figures a lot into that. If you are at four times but only look at the most twice a day or spot reading, that’s a big deal. But if you are all the time on your computer, then that matters. There are so many variables.
JOSH ANDERSON: It definitely does. My guess would be that if Claire is having eyestrain, headaches, she is probably using the computer quite a bit. Also, using that kind of magnification, using a computer that much, they can actually speed up the degeneration of your vision as well, which can really make it a lot worse.
Claire says that she uses ZoomText. A good transition piece the ZoomText fusion, which is a mixture of ZoomText magnification, JAWS, and they put them together into fusion. You can use one, the other, or put them together. That might actually help her out a little bit.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s been my experience with fusion. It’s not great. It’s a memory hog.
JOSH ANDERSON: It is.
BRIAN NORTON: It’ll bog down your computer. You need quite a bit of memory.
WADE WINGLER: There goes any hope of them sponsoring this show. You just killed that.
BRIAN NORTON: I think it’s a great product in a good transitional product, but you will need to be prepared to have a lot of RAM on a computer to make sure that it runs smoothly. I think they are still trying to work out some bugs. I think they would admit to that.
JOSH ANDERSON: For sure. One thing that she could do, she says she uses ZoomText with seven times zoom. If she’s just using ZoomText magnifier, just upgrading to Mag Reader might be enough for right now. If she stable, she is not going to need more. That’s going to get you to most of the things she says she needs.
BRIAN NORTON: Maybe a dock reader, app reader alongside that with certain applications.
JOSH ANDERSON: Most definitely. As long as the different elements and menus are accessible, you can still use a tab keystroke to get to the different ones and things like that. You wouldn’t actually need a full on screen reader. If it’s going to continue to degenerate and get to where you need a lot more, then you might need to move on to a full screen reader. With ZoomText fusion, it does take up a lot of room. If I’m using just the mag reader or just JAWS, it doesn’t seem as bad, it doesn’t seem to take as much RAM. But when you have fusion running those programs simultaneously, yes, it does —
BRIAN NORTON: Slow it down.
JOSH ANDERSON: Yeah. It needs a lot of processing speed and a lot of RAM.
BRIAN NORTON: Just under the thing you might look at with ZoomText would be reading zones, being able to set up reading zones which will eliminate some of that scrolling. Reading zones will essentially highlight certain areas of the screen and allow you to then be able to see those things and never have them go out a focus for you. Or scripting. I believe you can script within ZoomText as well to make it read things and go to places with a keystroke instead of having to navigate with a mouse, which can be a little challenging and make people seasick, especially at higher levels of magnification. You might want to check out reading zones and some of the things as well within ZoomText to see if that would make it a little bit easier for you as well.
***[10:59] Question 2 – AT Act Services
BRIAN NORTON: If anybody has an information on that to share with Claire, we would love to hear from you. You can do that in a variety of ways. You can give us a call on our listener line. At 317-721-7124. Or send us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. Or a tweet with hashtag ATFAQ. We would love to hear from you on that if you guys have had some personal experience from magnification to a screen reader or if maybe you are a person, a professional who works with folks and have some of the thoughts on that. We would love to hear from you as well.
Our next question is, can you tell me more about your loan library and other services you provide as part of the assistive technology act? I think we got this question because we reference our loan library quite a bit on the show. We talk about it. We are Indiana’s assistive technology act. It’s a great way for folks to get their hands on technology for making purchasing decisions, providing short-term accommodations, or to help people have a loaner while their device goes in for repair. We talked about a quite a bit. An interesting question.
So AT Act. Wade, you’ve been doing this for a long time and are pretty familiar with the laws and when they were developed and passed. I think it was 1988, is that right?
WADE WINGLER: Many years ago, back in the day. The original AT act, I believe, was passed in 1988 or 89.
BRIAN NORTON: It is 1988. I did look.
WADE WINGLER: I’m pretending I know the answer when you actually know the answer.
BRIAN NORTON: I do know the answer. It was there to help with increasing access, awareness, and acquisition of assistive technology. But then they reauthorized the original bill back in 2004 to include certain types of activities. They labeled them state-level activities and state leadership activities. What those are, as far as state-level activities, those would include things like alternative financing programs where we provide low interest, extended term bank loans to individuals who want to purchase their own types of assistive technology. Also a demo program, demonstration, a to-your-door throughout the state of Indiana or whatever the state AT act is in where you can get to-your-door demonstrations, test drives of technology to get your hands on it. The loan library, which is what our question is specifically about where folks can borrow equipment for those three purposes, making decisions, providing accommodations, serving as a short-term loaner while something is in for repair. And also reuse where they take an old stuff. For whatever reason, folks don’t need technology anymore, maybe they’ve gotten better, perhaps they might have gotten worse, or maybe they are no longer with us, and families are stuck with technology that they don’t understand and don’t know how to use. They can donate that back to the AT act. We clean those up and give them away to folks with disabilities who have a specific need for that type of equipment.
With all that said, there are 56 programs. You can find a program in your state at EasterSealsTech.com/states. There are 56, and that means every state and territory has a project just like ours, the INDATA Project.
WADE WINGLER: There are 56, and I think all of them have a lending library’s, if not all, almost all. They may vary in terms of how long they loan items, whether it’s 30 days or 60 days or whatever. I think some may charge a small fee. The kind of equipment you’re going to find a lending library’s is going to vary a little bit based on program to program. It’s a resource, and like you said, Brian, if you go to EasterSealsTech.com/states, you can find the program nearest you and find out is there a lending library there and what are some of the policies, how you borrow things, and how long, those kinds of things.
BRIAN NORTON: I was always under the impression that every state has to provide those state-level activities. Is that right?
WADE WINGLER: Not to get too “inside baseball” with the AT act, but they have to provide services in that category. There is technically a way for them to opt out of a particular activity, called comparability — what’s the other one? Flexibility and comparability are the two legal terms that allow that to happen. Most of them are going to do the lending library. If people are going to opt out of those more or less required services, that’s usually not the one they’re going to opt out of. Some of the programs use partners or subcontractors to make that happen, so it could be that a lending library isn’t centralized in a state and just operated by one organization, the AT act. It could be operated by some partners. There is some variation. If you go to that website, you can find out who is your local program and how they roll.
BRIAN NORTON: Back to this specific question, tell us about our loan library, we have a loan library, about 2500 items. They include a variety of different AT, including computers with adaptive software, video magnifiers, things like keyboards or mice or pointing options for the computer. Computer access stuff is in there. Ramps for your home, aids for daily living, seating and positioning, environmental controls, lots of different categories are encompassed in that 2500 items.
The way I explained it to folks, is if you think about it, if you go to the library and check out a book, it’s the very same thing with a loan library. It may vary from state to state with what they require folks to do to be able to borrow from themselves, but here in Indiana, for folks in Indiana who have a documented disability, they can give us a call. It’s just like going to the library to check out a book. All of our items are listed online. You can check those out before hand, kind of bookmark the things you might want to borrow and try out for a period of time. Then let us know and we will go ahead and sign those out to you can’t get those to you by shipping it or having you come and pick those things up. Then you keep it for 30 days, give it a try. I don’t know about you, but I’ve purchased lots of things online thinking they are going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. I never put my hands on it, and when I get it out of the package, I realize it’s not quite what I thought it was going to be, and it collects dust. I spent a lot of money — because I like technology and like playing with things — on things I never use anymore.
It’s a great way to try some things out before you buy it.
WADE WINGLER: Plus it’s awesome. There’s that.
***[18:00] Question 3 – Low vision scanning
BRIAN NORTON: Don’t forget, if you guys have an assistive technology question, just let us know. You can send a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ and we will pick that up.
As far as our next question, this was an email. I have a client with macular degeneration who will be taking part in a work experience at a local museum. Her job will be scanning passes and checking IDs as the customers come in. Once the passes are scanned, the past ID will be entered into a computer kiosk. The situation is her vision is very limited, and she will likely have to rely on a text-to-speech software program to be able to read the passes. Any suggestions for tech that might help her with this?
We get these kinds of questions a lot. I think almost always our suggestion would, first and foremost, be that you need to have a full assessment or at least a consult when you are talking about a work experience. Perhaps the funding source isn’t wanting to pay for a full evaluation because it’s just a work experience. It may not turn into a full-time job for the person. But at least a consult because a lot goes into finding the right tool to allow the person to do the job the best I can do it. There are a lot of specific to understand about the workspace, is a big, small, how much space do we have, and the tasks that need to be completed. When you think about scanning a barcode or IDs and those kinds of things, does it automatically do it? Do you have to read it and transfer it? There are a lot of things that going to that. Looking at having an assessment or a consult would be the way to go.
WADE WINGLER: Plus with a museum, there could be lighting issues, noise and sound issues when talking about text-to-speech. And then software compatibility is going to be huge in that environment.
JOSH ANDERSON: Brian, you brought up a lot of good points. My question is if you are scanning all these things, and it has to be entered into a computer, is that popping up on a screen on the scanner, and I have to manually put those digits in? Do I need to plug it into a USB and it automatically bring of information over? There are a lot of questions. It sounds like they have some idea of what they need saying text-to-speech software. It sounds like the person, a larger screen monitor is probably not going to be an option.
BRIAN NORTON: I did have some email back and forth with this particular situation. It sounds like you’re at a kiosk. The person’s vision is where reading information isn’t going to be a viable solution. They don’t have enough space for a full-size CCTV with OCR built in or anything like that. Perhaps the better solution for them might be a mobile device with an app. There are some pretty reliable apps out there these days. Seeing AI comes to mind. Claro Scan pen is under the one. KNFB would be fast, efficient scanning, almost instantaneous reading back of the text in front of you.
The other part was once they hear the ID, they need to take that ID and put it into the computer and verify who the person is. The other piece to that would be having ZoomText or some other magnification program like Magic or ZoomText, or maybe the built-in zoom in Windows on the computer so that she can find the edit field and type information in. Possibly had text-to-speech on the computer reading it back to them might be a big thing to consider.
JOSH ANDERSON: Kind of like you said, the built-in might work since you are not doing that much on the computer. Some sort of device or something like the OrCam might be really helpful, especially because just by touching their finger to that, it’s going to read back whatever it says on the ID. They can read the computer screen for them as well. They don’t have to pull something out. They don’t have to have a scanner and their phone or tablet and have both hands full. They can easily have it sitting on the glasses and be able to use that to read to them.
BRIAN NORTON: The one thing we talked a little bit about what this particular question was these IDs and passes are going to be very consistent. Information is always going to be in the same place. Perhaps having a document stand for your mobile device, whether that the tablet or your phone, but then also having a guide down beneath the document stand where you can simply place the card in a specific spot and always know that it’s going to be the proper distance from the camera on your mobile device and always in the same location so that you can see exactly where the ideas. That’ll make that a very efficient process for the person to be able to take someone’s IT from their hands, stick it on a specific spot on the desk or kiosk, and it will show up consistently on the mobile device in front of them.
We also do a lot of jigs and different things for folks to be able — if it is going to be consistent, stick it in one spot so that they can consistently read that.
JOSH ANDERSON: You had inside information.
BRIAN NORTON: I did.
WADE WINGLER: Not so hypothetical after all.
JOSH ANDERSON: Brian gets to cheat. It’s his show.
BRIAN NORTON: Another way we come across questions each week as I have people stop by, and they have these specific situations.
WADE WINGLER: Literally ask you a question.
BRIAN NORTON: They literally ask me a question. I’m like, that’s a pretty good question. I’m going to go ahead and put it in the show.
WADE WINGLER: Grab them and bring them into the studio and say, say that into the microphone.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s a great idea. I should.
JOSH ANDERSON: Do you actually answer their question, or do you say you have to listen to this show to your question answered?
BRIAN NORTON: I have some conversation back and forth with people.
JOSH ANDERSON: But if they really want an answer, they had to listen?
BRIAN NORTON: Yeah. I probably gave her some of this information.
JOSH ANDERSON: Now she is not listening.
BRIAN NORTON: I do ask permission to use the question.
WADE WINGLER: You’re too nice.
BRIAN NORTON: I like people. Excellent. I would say, if there are folks who are listening who have had a similar job situation, a similar work experience that they’ve been doing, or maybe you’re a service provider and have come across the situations in the past and have some other product information, AT information, maybe a combination information. We talked about different apps, mobile devices like CCTV’s with OCR, reading appliances, creating jigs to be able to put paper in specific spot on the desk —
WADE WINGLER: Every time Brian says “jigs,” we all do a dance. A little insider information.
BRIAN NORTON: Which causes Brian to hesitate and laugh inside and have to go on with his sentence. If you guys have any information, we would love to hear from you guys on that. Give us a call at 317-721-7124 or send us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. We would love to hear from you.
***[25:16] Question 4 – Website and Document Accessibility
BRIAN NORTON: So our next question was an email as well. In the email, the person referenced, I’ve been hearing a lot about website and document accessibility over the last couple of years. Is there a reason for this? And where can I find more information and learn more about the subject?
WADE WINGLER: People are finally paying attention. Sorry.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent.
WADE WINGLER: Web accessibility and document accessibility has been an ongoing, snowballing topic for 20 years or something like that. I’m finally seeing it more and more in the mainstream. I don’t know why this particular person is hearing more about it, but it is becoming more of a topic. I teach for a couple of schools, and we are being asked to put this kind of content into courses that aren’t disability courses. They are computer software development courses, and someone puts the asterisk out there that this is a bigger deal. One of the reason I knows this is an issue is because it’s starting to be built at the contracts. If you are the federal government, or a lot of organizations put it into their contract that says if you are going to build web content or other online content, it shall be accessible. Developers are now figuring out how to make that happen. It’s getting easier, becoming more a part of business, kind of like with the ADA and ramps and automatic doors did years ago. It starting to catch traction in the mainstream.
A couple of really good places to go to learn about this thing would be web aim, one of the first ones I would talk about. It’s WebAIM.org. It’s all about accessible instructional materials but talks a ton about accessible web content and document accessibility. One of my favorite things you’ll find at web aim is the wave tool that allows you to either install a plug-in into your browser or just go to the wave.webaim.org site, plug in a website that you want to see, whether or not it is accessible, and hits go and it will basically reload your website and put icons all over your screen that are read or yellow or green and indicate whether or not you have a problem or something that needs to be manually checked, or you’ve done something good for accessibility.
If you want to get to some of the bigger picture stuff, you can go to the WCAG site. WCAG is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. It was established by the World Wide Web Consortium many years ago. If you go to W3C.org/WAI, it sort of takes you to the landing page for all of the WCAG stuff. That gives you the rules and the process that created the rules, as well as a list of checklists and even code level examples that says here’s how you do an alt tag with accessible text, or here’s how you handle form controls in a way that are complied with the WCAG standards. The federal government in the US requires that websites that are developed using federal money are WCAG level II compliant. Basically there is a set of rules to play by that everybody has try to do that, which ensures the highest level of accessibility. So going to the W3C.org/WAI website will get you there, and you can learn a ton about that.
Brian, we did a training not long ago that sort of hit on this, a free webinar?
BRIAN NORTON: Yes. Every year we do a free webinar specifically about website and web accessibility, but it’s designed for developers. As folks develop websites, you can check it out in May every year. We do archive. We just archiving our most recent archived video from our training up on our website. If you go to EasterSealsTech.com/A11Y, you’ll find the archived video. You also see our PowerPoint slides from this year. Will have access to most of the training and can kind of follow along. It’s really good. We invite Dennis Lembry, who is kind of well known, well established web accessibility person.
WADE WINGLER: Rock star.
BRIAN NORTON: Knows everything and really does a good job. If you are interested in signing up for next years, they will be in May again. I can’t say enough. It’s a really good training, good content. He’s a great presenter, does a good job in that webinar platform.
WADE WINGLER: Brian, you mentioned EasterSealsTech.com/A11Y. I want to pause on A11Y for a second. That’s Internet shorthand for the topic of accessibility. For example, if you search twitter for A, number one, number one, Y — that’s just the word accessibility. It’s “A,” 11 letters missing, “Y.” that’s what that means and why they came up with A11Y, because it’s shorthand for the word accessibility. If you search on Twitter or elsewhere online for hashtag #A11Y, you’ll find a lot of conversations. Another good resource, if you like that grassroots, community driven stuff, if you go to A11Yproject.com, that’s a community online resource where you can learn all about what’s happening in the world of accessibility. They had checklists and all kinds of resources. They thought about events in all kinds of stuff. A11Yproject.com
BRIAN NORTON: I’m also going to throw out one more resource. AT3 Tech Center is the technical assistance project for AT acts across the country. They actually have put together and ICT accessibility resource Roundup webpage that has many links to different option for folks who are interested in web accessibility and also document accessibility, how to create documents, a really good guide, a lot of great links to different places that you can learn a whole lot about this newer initiative the folks are hearing a lot about. And I think the impetus behind this is we are seeing whole companies start to develop surrounding the topic. There are companies who are specifically working with agencies and other types of places, helping them become compliant, helping them with their accessibility as it regard to documents and webpages and other places like that. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the information.
***[31:56] Question 5 – Text-to-speech options on windows computer
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is, I was wondering if you knew of software, perhaps that even already on a computer, or resources to convert text to audio and have the computer read to you? I know there are apps, but this would be on a laptop computer. I’m specifically asking about learning disabilities versus a visual impairment if that helps. It would be for the Internet, Word documents, PDFs, etc.
JOSH ANDERSON: There are a lot of different options for that. Since you did say a laptop computer, I’m going to assume it’s a Windows computer.
BRIAN NORTON: Yeah, I’m pretty sure.
JOSH ANDERSON: So we will go with that. Yes, there are different things: Internet, Word documents, PDFs. Word in itself has an OCR program built-in. It’s not super easy to get to. If you go up to the top where you have the quick access toolbar, that has saved which is the floppy disk that probably no one using a computer has ever used before in their life.
WADE WINGLER: What’s that?
JOSH ANDERSON: What the floppy disk? But somehow we still no it means to save. Usually it has that, and undo, redo, and some others. At the end towards the right-hand side of that is a drop-down. You click on that and can customize your quick access toolbar. Once you open that, click on more commands. It’ll have a choose commands from lists, and you need to change that to all commands. When you do that and scroll down, you should be able to find a command called speak. You at that, and it will show up on your quick access toolbar. After that, you can put your cursor anywhere, hit speak, and it will start reading to you. That’s available on office, anything other 2007. I do not think it shows up on office for Mac, and I’m not sure about 365 you are using that. But if you have it installed on a Windows computer, it should be there. That will read any of your Word documents to you.
BRIAN NORTON: I’m looking at my Mac, it’s not there.
JOSH ANDERSON: That’s why I said is not on the Mac version. So that’s an easy way to read Word documents. There are some other ways around it. That should work in Excel and Outlook as well if you need it to read those kinds of things.
As far as the Internet, it kind of depends on what browser you are using. If you’re using Google Chrome, there are a lot of free plug-ins you can use. I think it’s Claro read chrome. It’s free. You click on it, it has a plan stop on, and that can read any Internet page, PDFs. And if you are using Google Docs, they can read those as well. There is another one I use called read aloud. It does the same thing, but read aloud will actually pull your text into another box and follow along and highlight — [Audio edit contains repeat information]
— will help you read the word document and everything. But if you need to read the Internet and everything, it depends in the browser. A lot of folks use Google Chrome. It’s free, pretty easy to use. But there are some free chrome that you can use that can help you reading the Internet and PDFs and things. One of them is Claro read chrome. This one does have a paid version as well. The paid version gives you a few extra features. You can screen capture into if you of the things, but really if you just need to read the information and PDFs, the free version will work for you. It’s very simple to use, has a play button, a stop button. That’s essentially all he gives you. They can be websites, PDFs, Google Docs, anything inside of chrome. It can be very helpful. There is also read aloud, which is another chrome plug-in. It can read the Internet, can read most PDFs. With some I’ve had issue with it being able to do it, but something that it will do is bring all the text, pulls it out of the website, puts it in a box and will highlight as it reads. They can be a little more helpful of helping someone read along. If you are looking for chrome plug-ins, if you just look them up, there are quite a few different ones that can do these features. Some are free, some cost. Try out some of the free ones, or if some give you so many uses for free, try them out and find one that works for the individual.
On a thing you can use as One Note. This will work on Windows computers. I do not believe it works on Mac. One Note is kind of a notetaking program. You can import image-editing to it. There is an ad into One Note called immersive reader. Since you said this is for someone with a learning disability, immersive reader will not only read to the person, but it can separate words by syllable, can change the spacing between them, can change the color contrast. They can highlight one line at a time.
Some of those other things we don’t really think about with folks who have print disabilities and learning disabilities is sometimes it’s just the way that the information is presented, not so much being able to read it. Sometimes just breaking it up by syllable or only having one line show up at a time can really help that person with comprehension and understanding. One Note is a free program. It is part of office, but you do not have to pay for it. You can import anything, copy and paste from the Internet, but were documents and there. There’s also an app for phone call the office lens. You can snap pictures of things, have it imported into one know and have them read to you in that way. Immersive reader, if you get one note, is not in there automatically. You just look it up and at the free download to throw in.
There is also paid programs. There are lots of kinds. A huge one is probably Kurzweil 3000. It can be a little bit on the pricey side, but it does have a whole lot of features. If the person needs help with notes, with creating good study materials and things like that, it can really help. But since you’re just talking about the Internet, Word documents, PDFs, they may not be something that robust. Kurzweil 3000 is robust if you need to read whole books for college and things like that and make study materials out of it. It may just be a lot more than the person needs. There is also Read and Write Gold. Claro Read has their own software, not just the chrome plug-ins. There are a whole lot of them out there, but they are kind of becoming more mainstream. More and more folks — I think we have audible to thank for that, of folks wanting to have the read to them and realizing it helps a lot of us with comprehension. A lot of times I have might report read back to me because I can read my same report 10 times, I’m not going to find my mistakes. But as soon as I have it read back to me, I realize I put “the” three times in a row, even though my eyes will play tricks and not show those to me. There are a lot of different ones. I really started using those chrome plug-ins a lot. They are be helpful.
BRIAN NORTON: There are a lot of free, low-cost option now when it comes to text-to-speech. They are not robotic sounding or computer sounding.
JOSH ANDERSON: They are much better than they used to be. That everything has the Stephen Hawking voice anymore, if you will.
BRIAN NORTON: I’ve been doing this for 21 years, and it used to be that way. I think over the last three or four years, it’s been changing quite a bit. Text to speech has become a lot more understandable and reliable. Thank you for all those resources.
***[39:23] Question 6 – Wildcard Question – Ring doorbells
WADE WINGLER: And now it’s time for the wildcard question.
BRIAN NORTON: All right, so this next question is our wildcard question. This is where I throw the mic at Wade and he asks us a question that we haven’t had a chance to prepare for whatsoever. What have you got?
WADE WINGLER: One or two Saturdays ago, I was sitting with a friend of mine who is a former neighbor. His name is Elliot and he’s in his seventies. As we were sitting there having our coffee, chatting about life, he said look at this, look at this. He picked up his iPhone and said watch this. Here’s Barbie. Elliott’s wife’s name is Barbara, a lovely woman. He was logged into his ring the doorbell because his wife had gone out on the front porch water the flowers. He goes she hates it when I do this. She hates it when I’m looking at her from the doorbell but it’s a great thing. It made me think, it really is spying on Barbie because of his ring doorbell, it means it’s mainstream. It means that automated, interactive video audio doorbell have, in my book anyway, hit the mainstream if my elderly former neighbor is all about that.
My question for you guys is what experience do we have with these various doorbells that have audio and video? Are we using them? And what do they mean for people who have disabilities? There are some pretty obvious use cases What kinds of experience is how we had with those?
BRIAN NORTON: We have several Ring doorbells here as part of our equipment demonstration equipment. They are not available necessarily for loan, and that’s primarily because you require a password and account with those particular devices. We do have them for demo for folks to be able to learn more about.
I don’t use a ring doorbell at home, but I do have a camera. It’s a nest camera. I believe ring doorbell was purchased by nest.
WADE WINGLER: I believe so.
BRIAN NORTON: I have a nest camera pointed at my front door, so whenever someone steps in front of the door or comes up to the door, I get an alert on my phone to let me know someone is there. It’s not necessarily letting them ring the doorbell. I have a regular doorbell, but I do have a camera facing my front door that lets me know folks are there.
I think some use cases for folks with disabilities, I think folks with disabilities are often times in a vulnerable position when they can get to the front door. I think of home healthcare attendance that come in the morning to help people get out of bed and get ready for the day. Or any other situation, handyman, whatever come to the door to help with fixing appliances or different air conditioners, furnaces, those kinds of things. As they invite those folks in, there is a lot of trust that you’re going to come at a specific time and I’ll leave the key or I’ll leave the door unlocked. These allow you to be sure that you are letting in the right people.
I think there are a lot of use cases, safety and security, whether you are at home or not at home, would be a big deal for folks. I think it’s mainstream. It’s helpful for everyone. But specifically for folks with disabilities who are often times in a vulnerable spot when it comes to you adding people in and out of their homes.
JOSH ANDERSON: You brought up a good point. Especially think about what the cost used to be to be able to have video monitoring on your front porch. You would have to wire it, power it, everything else. That could cost thousands of dollars and require a contractor. Now your brother-in-law can come over and cut in half an hour, you have a camera with adorable set up in your house see who’s at the door every time.
BRIAN NORTON: We’ve used these technologies in some pretty interesting ways as far as job accommodations are concerned. Josh, you are involved in one where we were pointing it at a drive-through in a restaurant. A camera, every time a car would come around the corner or trigger the camera, it would let the person who was deaf or hard of hearing know, hey, someone is coming to the drive-through. There are a lot of interesting ways to make that, the matter what your disability is, if you have a physical disability and just want to make sure that safety and security, letting people in and out of your home, if you are deaf or hard of hearing, same thing, sending a text message, not only that someone is that your door but also the fire alarm is going off, all these other Wi-Fi enabled, Internet of things appliances that you find in your home. I think there are some real applications for folks who have disabilities.
JOSH ANDERSON: Wade, you kind of asked are these things becoming completely mainstream? Yeah, you can get them at the hardware store. If you walk around Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menard’s, or your local hardware store, they have a whole area for these things. They are not hidden in the back. You don’t have to go to Best Buy or Amazon to find these things. You can just go to the local hardware store, look at a doorbell, and go look at that thing.
WADE WINGLER: Speaking of Amazon, aren’t they getting ready to come out with the one that allows you — at has a doorlock and doorbell where you can get let your Amazon person in to deliver stuff based on a code?
BRIAN NORTON: I don’t know. Is that true?
JOSH ANDERSON: I have a friend who bought their cloud cam and loves it. It’s about the same price as a nest cam but uploads evident to the cloud and you have two days of recording. It does the same thing, setting you alerts whenever it detects movement.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s pretty cool. Thank you guys for being a part of our show today. Thank you for the questions and feedback that you guys sent in. We have a variety of ways for you to send those things and. I’m always looking for good questions, good feedback to be able to put on the show. You can send those to us in a variety of ways. It’s a listener line at 317-721-7124. You can send a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. For email us at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. We certainly want your questions. Without your questions, you wouldn’t have a show. A part of it. We would love to hear from you guys. I would you think Wade and Josh for being a part of our show. Josh, you want to say goodbye to folks?
JOSH ANDERSON: Bye everybody. Can’t wait to see you next time.
BRIAN NORTON: And Wade?
WADE WINGLER: See you next time. Belva will be back.
BRIAN NORTON: Belva will be back next time we record so we are super excited about that and can’t wait to have her back in the seat, keeping us in line and helping us with our good answers.
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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