Panel – Brian Norton, Josh Anderson, Belva Smith (she’s back!), and Wade Wingler | Q1 Apps for K-8 students with learning difficulties Q2 Apps for emotional regulation Q3 Sturdy reachers and grabbers Q4 zero-force keyboards Q5 accessible game controllers Q6 Is an iPhone worth $900?
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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 77. My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of the show today. We are happy that you’ve taken some time to tune in with us this week. Before we get ready to jump into the questions that you sent in, I want to take a moment and go around the room and introduce the folks here. Today we are extremely excited to welcome back Belva Smith.
WADE WINGLER: Belva is back.
JOSH ANDERSON: Yay!
BELVA SMITH: I’m back.
BRIAN NORTON: We’ve missed her tremendously over the last couple of weeks. We are going to give her a chance to update everyone on what they go on and where she is at now. I also want to make sure that I will come Josh Anderson, the manager of our clinical program. You want to say hey?
JOSH ANDERSON: Hi everybody. Welcome back Belva.
BELVA SMITH: I was going to say, do I get to say hey?
BRIAN NORTON: Yeah, I’m coming back to you.
WADE WINGLER: You’re going to get special treatment.
BRIAN NORTON: I figured if we let you start out, we might be halfway to the show.
BELVA SMITH: Are you saying I talk a lot?
WADE WINGLER: He doesn’t have any answers today.
BRIAN NORTON: I need you to vamp a little bit. We are light on questions today. Also in the room we have Wade, the host of the assistive technology update. You want to say hey?
WADE WINGLER: Hey everybody. Belva is back!
BRIAN NORTON: And Belva. Belva is back with us after being gone for —
WADE WINGLER: A long time.
JOSH ANDERSON: Too long.
BELVA SMITH: A long time.
BRIAN NORTON: Give folks a rundown on what’s going on.
BELVA SMITH: In late March, I fell and broke my hip and my left arm. I went a really long time in my life without breaking a bone, and I guess I couldn’t just break one, I might as well break two. I spent some time in in-patient rehab which was quite the experience. I’m still actively taking physical therapy twice a week. I had to learn to do a lot of things all over again and started out having to use a lot of different tools. It was interesting because I started out having to do a wheelchair manually with one arm, so that was quite a challenge. But the most important thing was putting the lock on, because the lock happen to be on the left side of the chair, and my left arm is the arm that was broken. I had to be able to reach across myself and the chair to get to that brake handle. I just couldn’t quite make it. Once I got there, I also didn’t have enough strength to get it to actually lock into place. So we ended up, the first thing we did was we tried using a pencil with a little rubber band, and that didn’t work because the pencil broke. Then we tried to — they had kind of a 3-D like what we have, a printer, but it was just a molded plastic. They tried to mold something, and we never could get that quite right. We ended up using — what do you call those things? A cone, a plastic cone that we slid over the top of it. Needless to say, that was totally broken by the time I was done. But that worked. Actually, they use those cones to set up different tracks for folks like myself that are doing physical therapy to begin walking.
I started out with using a side cane, which was quite the challenge. But as I got better with that, I realized that the thing weighed a ton, and I was constantly banging it into doors and my toes. So then I graduated to my single cane which is where I am at now. Hopefully I’ll be done with it and just maybe another month or two. I can walk without it now, but I’m just a little wobbly. But I had to use this big, long shoehorn to get my shoes on. I had to use a pincher, those pincher grabber things to get my socks on and to reach things around the room. They sent me home with those things, but I found that once I got home, I wasn’t using them too much. But in the hospital they were a necessity. And they actually put a bed alarm on the bed because they caught me getting up on a wasn’t supposed to be.
JOSH ANDERSON: Trying to escape.
BRIAN NORTON: You’re one of those patients, huh?
BELVA SMITH: Yeah. But it was cool. They had a half car in the rooms where I had to practice getting in and out of the car, always on the passenger side. I kept asking where we were going to move over to the drivers side. It was interesting and quite the experience.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s different getting in on the drivers side, right? You have a steering wheel to get around.
BELVA SMITH: Absolutely. And it would’ve been easy for me, because then I would’ve been getting in with my right side first rather than my left side.
BRIAN NORTON: I can see that.
BELVA SMITH: Because I couldn’t strive, I think the important thing was I could get in and out of the passenger side okay.
WADE WINGLER: Are you driving now?
BELVA SMITH: Yeah. I’ve been driving since May 9. On May 10, I think I hit every store on the south side. I was telling the folks this morning, one of the things I started doing since this happened is using the Kroger click and pick. It’s amazing. You can sit down at your computer and pick out all of your groceries. Unfortunately, I live in an area where they don’t deliver, but it’s so simple to get it all picked out and paid for. Then anyone can go and pick them up for you, providing that they have the code that you need. You just pull up, call them, tell them who you are, and they come out in three minutes and load your groceries.
BRIAN NORTON: Those are amazing services.
BELVA SMITH: It absolutely is. I’ve pushed those delivery services, PeaPod and stuff like that, to my consumers before, but never really sat down and try them myself. It’s amazing. Even Amazon, you can order your groceries through Amazon and get them that day. I think Amazon and I are on a first name basis now because I did a lot of Amazon shopping.
BRIAN NORTON: Where do they go get their groceries?
BELVA SMITH: Wherever they go.
WADE WINGLER: They have a grocery store. I’ve been in one of our local stores like a fresh market or something like that, and even have a place for Amazon drivers to come in and park.
BRIAN NORTON: Are you serious?
WADE WINGLER: They go in and do your shopping for you.
BRIAN NORTON: I would consider ordering my food from Amazon, but I would think it’s been sitting on a shelf in the warehouse.
BELVA SMITH: It’s kind of like your own personal shopper.
JOSH ANDERSON: They bought whole foods.
WADE WINGLER: My wife has used that service a time or two.
BRIAN NORTON: And it’s inexpensive?
BELVA SMITH: I paid Kroger no more than what I would’ve paid if I had picked up the groceries. Somebody mentioned this morning that they do have a small fee, but so far I haven’t paid a fee. I’ve click and picked probably seven or eight times. So far I haven’t paid anything.
JOSH ANDERSON: I think it’s free for a certain amount of time, and then maybe a flat fee. But I don’t think it’s anything bad.
WADE WINGLER: With Amazon, I don’t think there was a fee, and there wasn’t an up charge, but they were shopping at a store that was a little bit more expensive. You are just paying higher prices because they’re going to a swankier store.
BELVA SMITH: The good thing is I’m not doing all those — what do you call them? Oh, I have to buy that.
JOSH ANDERSON: Impulse buys.
BELVA SMITH: Yeah, the impulse buys, because you are looking for the things that you know you need, and they don’t have the other stuff popping out.
BRIAN NORTON: But a king-size stickers at a checkout is awesome.
BELVA SMITH: I heard that target is not supposed to be doing grocery delivery as well as Walmart, Meijer. I think pretty much everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s kind of the new thing.
BELVA SMITH: So if you can’t get into your shopping, if you have yourself a computer or smart phone, I would definitely recommend looking to see who is in your area and can do some delivery for you. That was very helpful.
BRIAN NORTON: I would wonder, with Peapod — because they actually do the delivery, right? Do they bring the groceries into the house or do they bring it to the door?
BELVA SMITH: Peapod will bring it to the door. Kroger and Walmart — not Kroger. Walmart will actually bring them in and put them in the refrigerator or the cabin if you want them to.
JOSH ANDERSON: Really?
BELVA SMITH: Absolutely. They have a smart key. Amazon is doing that as well. They have a smart key so they can come into your home and put freezer stuff into the freezer if you want. I don’t want to go that far, but —
BRIAN NORTON: I think people with disabilities who can’t get out into that themselves. Put it in the refrigerator.
BELVA SMITH: If I’m in a wheelchair and I can’t get to the grocery store, maybe I can’t put those things into their freezer either.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s amazing.
BELVA SMITH: So that’s my experience. I’m just glad to be back here in the chair. I know you all might not seem like it’s been that long, but for me —
BRIAN NORTON: It’s been forever.
BELVA SMITH: It felt like forever.
BRIAN NORTON: We actually thought several times he might just stop the show because we didn’t have Belva. You bring a lot to the show.
BELVA SMITH: I do want to make sure that I think everyone, all the listeners in my clients, that prayed for me and sent me well wishes. Those were all very much appreciated.
BRIAN NORTON: I will have to say we will have to keep on building a little bit. Although she’s back to work, she does have a weight lifting restriction of five pounds. We weight-tested her purse today. With the gallon’s worth of water she had in her purse, it was definitely over five pounds. Don’t injure yourself please. We enjoyed having you around here.
***[11:20] Feedback – Crypto currency wallets for the blind or visually impaired
BRIAN NORTON: So for new listeners, I just want to make sure that you understand our show and how it works. Throughout the week, we receive feedback and come across various assistive technology related questions, and we provide a few ways for folks to be able to provide those to us. We do have a listener line set up. It’s 317-721-7124. Or we also have an email address at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. Or we have a hashtag set up on Twitter, hashtag ATFAQ. If you guys have questions, please let us know. We do get lots of different questions throughout the week. We kind of go through those, that them as little bit, find one we want to put in the show and try to load those up over the next several weeks to be up to fill our shows. If you have questions or even feedback, feedback is always great. We love to have even more complete answers to the questions that we have. We would love to be able to have that from you.
Without further ado, we’re going to jump in this week and go to our first piece of feedback that we received last week. In fact, it’s not really feedback. It’s really a question I had no answer for. We can talk about it here and didn’t really have a good answer for it. We are going to open it up to you guys and would love to hear back from you guys about this. It was about crypto currency. This was something I hadn’t even heard of other than I’m assuming is it similar to bit coin or something like that?
WADE WINGLER: Bit coin is a kind of crypto currency. It’s all a part of this block chain revolution that’s happening. It’s used to trade money just like the stock market, it goes up and down, the values increase and decrease based on trade values and all that stuff. Crypto currency is kind of an umbrella term for things like that bit coin.
BRIAN NORTON: Cool. It’s a voicemail message that came across, so we’re going to go ahead and play that. Take a listen, and as you listen, if you guys have some experience or have used — I believe it’s a screen reader he’s looking for or a screen reader friendly crypto wallet, if you will, for him to be able to manage crypto currency, let us know. We love to hear from you.
SPEAKER: Hello, this is for ATFAQ. My name is Mark from Los Angeles, California. I have been dipping my toes into the crypto currency arena, and I have noticed that with many of the software wallets, voiceover and such will of read everything beautifully with a few minor exceptions. My question is, do you guys know of any crypto hardware wallets that might be used by the blind or visually impaired communities? Thank you very much. I look forward to hear from you. Have a great day.
BRIAN NORTON: First of all, thank you, Mark, for the question. Again, I don’t have any experience with hardware wallets for crypto currency, hardly any experience with crypto currency myself. Again, I want to open up to our listeners and see if anybody has had some experience with that. You can give us a call at the listener line. The number is 317-721-7124. Or send us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. If you have any information that we can pass on to Mark. Thank you for that.
Belva is waving her hand widely in the corner. What’s up?
BELVA SMITH: I want to suggest that Mark might try to look at the cool blind tech podcast. Back in November, they did an interview with a cinnamon who was making the first a bit coin wallet for the blind. Go to cool blind check and do a search for bit coin wallet, and you might find some information.
BRIAN NORTON: Perfect. Thank you Belva. You are our first caller. Excellent.
***[15:58] Question 1 – Apps for K-8 students with learning difficulties
BRIAN NORTON: So we are going to come down to our next question. This question is, hello all, I don’t work with iPads much and am currently looking for apps for students who are in K through 8 and have learning disabilities or attention concerns. Looking for apps for students who have learning disabilities and/or attention concerns.
I did a little digging in on some of these things. Obviously there are lots of apps out there these days, millions upon millions, and there are a lot of really good apps for folks who have learning difficulties. A couple of places I would start in general research, I think it’s really important to figure out exactly what you’re looking for. It obviously depends when you think about the app what you’re trying to achieve with the students. A couple of places I would start your search because they have really good search tools is BridgingApps.org. They have a dashboard where you can actually break things down into different areas of learning, different age groups, whether you are looking for an app for an Apple device or an Android device. You can really break it down and hone your search and it will bring back some apps that match up with what you’re looking for. When I really love about that site is all of the apps that you find on that site have actually been looked at by either a professional or a parent. You go to a lot of — just the iTunes or Google play store, you get a lot of reviews, but they are from the manufacturer, and of course they think their stuff is great.
JOSH ANDERSON: Bias.
BRIAN NORTON: A little bit of bias. But this place, they have folks who have nonbiased opinions. Fill rate things all over the map based on what they think and the benefits it might be able to bring for folks. You get some real life feedback from folks when you look at that. BridgingApps.org is a great place.
There is AppleVis. AppleVis is more for vision related stuff, but they do have more information about other disabilities, if you will, many for vision related stuff. Maybe not the best place to go. I would really use BridgingApps as your home base for that stuff.
WADE WINGLER: One of the services I use specifically for learning disabilities and these things as tools for life at Georgia Tech. Were you going to say that one?
BRIAN NORTON: Yeah.
WADE WINGLER: Their website is kind of tricky. It’s gatfl.gatech.edu/search.php. But if you search for tools for life — nobody’s going to get that. If you search for tools for life and apps, then you’ll find the website. They tend to focus heavily on learning disabilities. That’s got my go to for that.
BRIAN NORTON: If you search for tools for life Georgia Tech, you’re going to find it. It’s easy. But they also do a really good job of breaking it down by app, by platform, and other kinds of things for you as well.
A couple of specific apps I think could be helpful for students with attention concerns, there is an app called cowriter. Cowriter is a word prediction app. It is context-sensitive help, so based on the topic he maybe navigating with the student, it is going to bring up word prediction that fit within the context that you are talking. That’s a really good at. Snap Type is great for being able to complete homework. Essentially what you end up doing is you snap a picture with your mobile device of the document you need to fill out, whether it is a worksheet you’ve handed them in class or something out of a book that they need to be able to fill out, they can step a picture of it. Then you simply tap around the screen into the blanks and can type into that, or speaking to it as well using the microphone button on the on board keyboard on whatever device you are using. It will allow students to be able to complete homework really quickly. You can simply email it back to your teacher and it makes that a really simple process.
BELVA SMITH: I think it’s worth mentioning that the iPad — just over the weekend, I was working with my grandson, and he came to me and said, I don’t know how to spell something. It was ninja or something. I showed him the microphone and said, if you don’t know how to spell it, then you can touch here and speak it and can see how it is spelled. So I think it’s important to point out that you might just use the features that are part of the iPad for some of the students in some situations like Speak It, where you highlight it and it reads it to you, or the fact that you can dictate what it is you’re trying to say. And if you’re trying to figure out how to spell a specific word – I use that myself if I don’t know how to spell something. I’ll say it, and that’s how it’s spelled.
JOSH ANDERSON: Especially with the attention concerns, you are probably going to want to turn on guided access. If you have kids who are going to have a hard time and want to click on every app and get to everything, with a guided access, you can really control what folks can get to. It can help them stay on task and be able to do things. I’ve used that with a lot of folks just because it simplifies it. It takes a lot of the big things out. You don’t have to worry about getting into settings and missing a lot things up if you just turn off access to those things.
BRIAN NORTON: One of the challenges I run across, personally and with clients, when you think about attention in the classroom and stuff like that, is reading assignments. Things like Learning Ally. Scan and read types of apps like Claro PDF, there are many out there that’ll help you be able to have text read aloud. If you have any E text on those devices, you simply can upload it into the programs and have those things read. Learning Ally is a website where you can download books, and it has a book player that will then play those books for you. With Learning Ally, you do have to have a document a learning disability. You don’t simply download it and use it. you have to have documentation that you submit to them, and they give you access to their software.
BELVA SMITH: I believe there is a membership fee, a yearly membership fee if I’m not mistaken.
BRIAN NORTON: There is.
BELVA SMITH: Like $119 or something like that.
BRIAN NORTON: I would also encourage folks, every state — here in Indiana, if you are in Indiana, there is a program called PATINS. They run the ICAM, which is the Indiana Center on Accessible Materials. If you are a student and K-12, anywhere in Indiana, you can call and talk to them about getting access to that. That’s where they provide you with access to learning ally and many other tools that can help people get access to the books and other things. There should be organizations or similar parties like that in other states as well. Every state, I believe, has a center on accessible materials.
WADE WINGLER: They do. That’s all part of NIMAC, which is the National International Materials Access Center. There are federal laws that say those things shall exist. If you are an educator, what you want to do is go into your school system, and it’s either going to be in the IT department or in the special ed program most of the time. Ask this question. Who is our digital rights manager? Every school either has or knows what a digital rights manager is, and they are your local point of contact to then get access to your state’s instructional materials access Center and can help you do that. That’s the keyword you want, who is my digital rights manager? Each school will be able to point you to a person who has that role and will walk you through your local step to do that here in the US.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent.
JOSH ANDERSON: I feel like we focused a lot on reading and stuff like that, but it depends on what you’re looking for. There are a lot of math apps that can help quite a bit, photo math, Y homework. A lot of these are free or low-cost or have a free version. It’s really important, because if you have a classroom of 20 get that can all benefit from it, what works for one isn’t going to work for the next one. If they don’t like it, they won’t use it at all. Really, the best thing to do would be to try out as many as you can. The kid will end up picking up on one and really liking it and using it. There are ones out there like you said, for reading, for writing, for math. They don’t just give you the answer either. They’ll actually walk you through the steps of the problem and can be really helpful.
BRIAN NORTON: I know you’ve been talking a little bit about this in some other areas, but Microsoft products now, is it immersive reader? How does that all go?
JOSH ANDERSON: The only thing is right now I don’t know if it works on the app, on the actual iPad. But on the computer, you can download. I think it’s immersive reader under learning tools. You can download it for free to one note, which is a free program. Kids can keep all of their information in there. You can use an app called office lens on your phone or tablet, take a picture, upload it to one note, and had the immersive reader read it all to you. It’ll put spaces between the words, highlight text if you need. I think it can separate your syllables. All those different things. It will help you find part of speech. So if you’re trying to figure out what the verbs are and focus on that, it’ll highlight just the verbs or just the nouns or just the adjectives. It’s pretty neat. Like you said, it’s completely free. I know that One Note works on the iPad, but I’m not positive it works with Immersive Reader. I believe it works in Word as well. You can import pretty much anything and one note, and they can read it all back to you.
BRIAN NORTON: Two other ones I want to throw out, they are not apps but our websites. Josh, you mentioned photo math and Y homework. Another great website for math is Math Way. The purpose behind all of them is it allows you to put a math equation — that encompasses all of math. It can go up from very K-8 math which we are talking about now, all the way up to college-level math as well. It helps folks saw the questions. But for folks who really struggle with math, it breaks it down step by step. Once it solves it, it does show you the answer but breaks it down step by step in helps folks better understand how to work and equation. I think that can be really helpful for folks as they learn the principles behind math. Instead of just getting thrown to the wolves and trying to figure those things out, this can really help folks grab onto the principles about step-by-step, this is how you get through a complicated math equation.
JOSH ANDERSON: It especially helps, if you think about you might understand everything the teacher is telling you, but then you get home to do your homework and can’t remember what the first step is on the problem. It cannot only make you sad and bring it down but makes it really hard to do your homework. If you can see how one is done, a lot of times that will help jog your memory of what you were taught earlier in the day.
BRIAN NORTON: Kahn Academy is another great place to go. They have some really interesting videos. Sometimes videos can be more engaging than maybe in class and those kinds of things.
The other website that I love is an interesting one. It’s called Rewardify. I don’t know if you guys have heard of that. Rewardify let you take language — you take a paragraph from any book. It may have some complicated words and words folks to understand or have a good comprehension of what it really means. It’ll plug that into a box, and you can say Rewardify it for me. It takes out all those difficult words and simplifies the language so someone can better understand what that was. The classic examples are you take Shakespeare and throw it in there, it’ll break down Shakespeare and give you more of a layman’s terms version of what that really meant. It’s pretty cool. It’s Rewardify.com, a great website.
JOSH ANDERSON: That’s a free one?
BRIAN NORTON: That’s a free one.
JOSH ANDERSON: Nice.
BRIAN NORTON: Check those things out. That’s a lot of different apps. BridgingApps.org, tools for life would be great place to look. Definitely check in with your public school system through the NIMAC and centers on accessible materials in your state. What was the name of those folks?
WADE WINGLER: Ask for your digital rights manager. Or if you go to NIMAC.us, I get you what you need as well.
BRIAN NORTON: I hope those are helpful in jumping through some different apps. Maybe you guys, listeners, if you have an app that you use with students with attention concerns, let us know. We would love to be up to hear about those as well and provide information to folks. You can do that through our email system, tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. We would love to hear from you.
***[29:27] Question 2 – Apps for emotional regulation
BRIAN NORTON: So our next question is, do you have any figures for apps that help with emotional regulation? I’m going to go ahead and toss that over to the other folks in the room.
JOSH ANDERSON: What are you trying to say?
BRIAN NORTON: I think each and every one of you uses apps for emotional regulation.
WADE WINGLER: I think he’s just tired of answering his own questions.
JOSH ANDERSON: That could definitely be.
BRIAN NORTON: I’m all talked out today. Any suggestions on that?
BELVA SMITH: I found a website that has the top eight recommended apps for this. It’s called TheTechAdvocate.org.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s correct.
BELVA SMITH: Okay. I went to that website and found the first two I was reading about to be pretty interesting. I would recommend going there and taking a look at what they have. Like Brian was saying earlier about BridgingApps, they’ve actually tested these and found them to be quite successful. Then I’m also going to say BridgingApps would be — anytime I’m looking for a nap, I always suggest starting with BridgingApps and see what they a recommending, because as you said, they are apps that people have actually tried and tested.
JOSH ANDERSON: One that I know a lot of folks that use it is called the Calm App. I know a lot of times problems with emotional regulation, we call anxiety, depression, different things like that. Even attention deficit disorder can cause problems with regulating your emotions. I know a lot of folks really like the Calm app. It’s very simple. I believe it’s free. It’s all kinds of meditation things.
BELVA SMITH: I actually use that app myself. It is a whole lot of meditation. It’ll remind you, if you think you’re going to skip it, it will remind you that you haven’t checked in today.
JOSH ANDERSON: I know for some folks, if I get anxious, I just open it up. I think it has a timer, the Pomodoro technique. It’s like 15 minutes, and that has some soothing sounds and things like that, just tell you to breathe and thinking about something else. They said it really helps them calm down. Belva, you’ve used it, and I know a lot of other folks have used it and found it pretty helpful.
WADE WINGLER: It’s listed on a blog post I found that long ago. This is interesting. It’s from the AT3 Center, which is sort of the technical assistance Center for projects like the INDATA Project. There are 56 of those around the world, and they have a place to go to to get information. If you go to AT3Centerblog.com, and go to the May 23 blog entry, there is a great thing written by Eliza Anderson called AT for managing anxiety. A lot of this fit to do that. They talk about some physical devices. They call it the soothe your space devices like sound therapy machines and fans and bubble tubes and pressure positioning aids, things like that. They have a whole section on wearables for winding down. They talk about everything from to beads to compression clothing, weighted blankets, weighted compression vests. They also talk about fidgety stuff, putty and fidget spinners and chew noodles, all kinds of things where you can use these physical devices. But then getting to the point, there is a section on apps. They have probably 25 or 30 apps listed. Calm is among them. Buddhify is in there as well. The stop, breathe, and think app is in there. There is even a Zen Coy game which is all about fishes and trying to get the fishes to do different things. I like it because the blog post talks about whether each app is iOS, Android, or both, and it gives you a link directly to their listing and iTunes or the App Store, to the manufacturer’s website, so you can check them all out. It’s a pretty good comprehensive list that Eliza has put together. I would encourage you to check it out. It’s AT3Centerblog.com, and it’s the May 23 entry called AT for managing anxiety.
BRIAN NORTON: I was looking over that list. It’s got quite a few things on there. I was going to mention one other one. I just had a recent meeting with someone about an app called My Emotional Compass. Have you heard of that one?
JOSH ANDERSON: No.
WADE WINGLER: Sure
BRIAN NORTON: My emotional Compass allows folks — again, I hope I can do it justice. It’s all about labeling, making people aware that if I am feeling a certain way, putting a label on its. You can label your emotions. It puts you in a better position to be able to control or communicate them to others. What happens is if you are feeling a certain way, you start answering a series of questions where it will help you get down to actually really labeling how you feel. The more times you label it and start calling those things out, and set it as you are feeling something, I’m not sure what I’m feeling, it’ll help you figure out exactly how you’re feeling through a series of questions. And by labeling it, you will be able to better control those and understand the triggers and the things that are around you to be able to really help you better control and communicate those things as you are working with them and being around other folks. Really interesting app. It’s available on iTunes. I don’t know if it’s available on Android. It’s an interesting app.
If you guys have tools that you use for emotional regulation, let us know. We would love to be able to hear from you on that as well.
***[35:43] Question 3 – Sturdy reachers and grabbers
BRIAN NORTON: our next question is, I have been unable to bend for three months and need a recommendation for a good, sturdy reacher/grabber. Looking for one about three feet long and has a magnetic tip. Any recommendations?
JOSH ANDERSON: I did find one. I’ve never used before. On Amazon, there is a Unger Professional Nifty Nabber. Unger is the name of the brand. I’m sure if you just look up Nifty Nabber, that’s what you’ll get. That’s exactly 3 feet long. It has a very easy to use handle. It’s as they can pick up medium to heavy items, and the clock is magnetic. It can pick up keys, anything metal by getting close to it.
WADE WINGLER: Did that question come from Joe at NiftyNabber.com?
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s the least expensive one that I found. It was only $20 with free Prime shipping.
BRIAN NORTON: Reachers and grabbers are about a dime a dozen. There are lots of different options out there. Depending on what your need is, there are some specific ones for specific folks. Quad tools if you are a quadriplegic and need something. If you have lost some of that dexterity, fine motor control in your fingers to be able to use the clips or triggers that are in typical reachers and grabbers, quad tools has some interesting ones that don’t require the same kind of dexterity and fine motor control to operate. You might want to check those out. I had a really hard time finding something that was three feet long. I think most of them come in 32 inch sizes. It was difficult to find one for three feet, so I’m glad you found one, Josh.
BELVA SMITH: Is it three feet, or does it expand?
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s just three feet, 36 inches long. They actually have one is over that. I think it’s 42 or 48 inches. So if you need is something to get off the top shelf, or if my wife wanted to reach things in the cabinet because she’s kind of shorter.
BELVA SMITH: It’s no fun being short.
JOSH ANDERSON: She tells me all the time.
WADE WINGLER: I’m looking at a website for the nifty nabber. There’s is in centimeters, but you can get a 52 centimeter, 97 centimeter, 130 centimeter, or 250 centimeter long nifty nabber.
JOSH ANDERSON: Everyone listening to us from outside the United States knows what that means.
WADE WINGLER: They know that means and we don’t, because we are so American centric here. It’s interesting. I would suggest this one is a heavy-duty one as well because it’s made for the trash pickup industry more so than the rehab industry. It’s about taking some up on the ditch or golf course. A maybe heavier than the ones we see in rehab, but it looks like it’s probably durable.
JOSH ANDERSON: If they are asking for something sturdy, that may be close to what they need.
BRIAN NORTON: I did find one. It’s not a grabber. It is a reacher. There is one called the Tele-stick Reacher. It just has a magnetic disk on the end of it, so it telescopes out, and then you can move it around to catch something that is metal. It’s not really a grabber, but it does do the magnetic stuff.
JOSH ANDERSON: I have one of those in my garage. Screws and things that fall behind the cabinet, or if you are working outside and drop one, you just put it down in the fire bit and it will pick up the screws.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s great.
WADE WINGLER: That longest nifty nabber translated into feet is 8.1. It’s eight feet long.
BELVA SMITH: How could you control that thing?
WADE WINGLER: I don’t know. But if you want to pick up something that is really nasty and far away from you, that’s the one you want. 8.16 feet.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent. If folks have used a reacher or grabber before or maybe have some experience and needed something similar to what was being asked for, something that was three feet and has a magnetic tip, let us know. We would love to hear but any of the ones. That he never seems like an interesting one. Some of these other ones from quad tools for specific situations might be helpful. Definitely let us know. Maybe it’s a situational piece, or you have a product you want to throw out there as an option, we would love to hear from you guys on that.
***[40:08] Question 4 – accessible game controllers
BRIAN NORTON: So our next question is, I recently saw that Microsoft will be coming out with an accessible game controller for the Xbox later this year. Are there other accessible game controller companies? I’m looking for an accessible controller for my PlayStation.
This is an area where we’ve seen an explosion over the years, probably the last 8 to 10 years as videogames have become more prevalent and the use of video games has become more prevalent, lots of folks who have disabilities — maybe they became injured and are trying to play the same games that they used to play are having a more difficult time doing that. As was mentioned in the question, Microsoft came out with an accessible game controller. It’s not available yet. I don’t think it’s going to be available until later this year. Just to give folks an idea of what that is, it’s a rectangular controller. It has a couple of really large buttons, and those are your A and B buttons. It’s also got some embossed symbols so that folks with vision impairments or need any kind of tactile feel to be able to know what they are hitting can feel those. But it also has 19 inputs on the backside of the controller that mimic the number of inputs on a standard controller. Imagine having a physical disability, and you are not able to do the fine motor movements to press all the buttons are hold the controller that comes with the Xbox, this allows you to mount 19 different switches so that everybody and every directional on a typical or standard Xbox controller becomes readily available to you through a switch that you can activate with anything.
There are thousands of different types of switches. Eye blink switches. If you can move your head side to side, wiggle your big toe, all those different things, you can mount switches all over the place to be able to do those inputs to control the game you’re playing. Xbox is really great.
I want to steer people to a resource. AbleGamers.org — is that correct?
BELVA SMITH: Yep.
BRIAN NORTON: AbleGamers.org has been around for a wild, and they’ve pioneered this industry about making accessible games for folks. My understanding of the way they work as they have an online assessment tool, and in the online assessment tool, you can tell them and that they what you are looking for. Then they offered grants so that folks can have these particular controllers made for them. AbleGamers.org, you can check them out there. That’s a great place to look.
But I also look for a resource where you can find lots of listings about different things. Craig Hospital is well known for spinal cord injuries. They have an adaptive gaming resource area. You can check them out as well. They actually have a huge listing of different companies and other kinds of places, different types of controllers that give folks the ability to be able to control those games more accessibly. Belva, I think you had a resource as well, right?
BELVA SMITH: I found a website called LP Accessible Technology. It was founded by a man who became a quadriplegic in 2007. He was involved in a ruler of accident, and I guess he was quite the gamer beforehand, so it became a goal of his to make the different controllers accessible for people with different injuries and disabilities. That website is LPaccessibletechnologies.com. There they have some samples of the things they have. They have an FAQ section and their contact information. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, then you you can contact them, and hopefully they’ll help you with what they can do.
BRIAN NORTON: Thank you for that. I mentioned Craig Hospital in the information to have. I’ll run through some of those. They have a whole section on gaming controllers. They also have information on organizations that actually review games and talk about that. Then they also have different games that they use to be able to provide treatment and therapy. They have things like plants versus zombies. They actually give you game suggestions. I’m going to have Wade plug in the web address for that into our show notes so you’ll be able to see those, as they give you a good rundown on a lot of things.
If any of our listeners have any information regarding accessible game controllers, we would love to hear from you as well. You can give us a call at 317-721-7124. Or email us at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. Please let us know if you do.
***[45:51] Wildcard Question
WADE WINGLER: And now it’s time for the wildcard question.
BRIAN NORTON: So our next question is the wildcard question. This is where Wade sends us a question that we haven’t prepared for. What have you got today?
WADE WINGLER: As we are recording — we record this show before it goes out — Apple is in the process of doing their annual keynote address at WWDC, Worldwide Developer’s Conference. This is where traditionally they announced the new products they are coming out in a little while another stuff. I’ve been watching the live blog, and looks like we are looking at some new Apple watch stuff, a new version of iOS Perhaps a new version of the Mac operating systems. Here’s my question. The rumor said before the announcement — I haven’t seen it yet — that there are going to be three new tiers of iPhone prices. One is going to be priced in the $900-$1000 range. One is going to be priced in the $700-$800 range. And what is going to be priced in the $600-$700 range to buy an iPhone.
The reason this comes up as a wildcard is Brian and I had a few tense text messages last week because I was on vacation in the woods on my iPhone.
BRIAN NORTON: And he wanted a new one.
WADE WINGLER: I was on a camping trip, and my iPhone died. It did this weird thing where I plugged it in to charge it, and it kept flipping back and forth between saying charging, not charging, charging, not charging, superfast. It got too hot to handle. When I unplugged it, the connectors were brown. That iPhone was literally melting down, and then it wouldn’t hold a charge. It’s just going all weird and funky.
I went to the closest store and paid way too much money for a replacement iPhone to make that happen. It was a moment in my life when I said, why am I a person who can’t get through a camping trip without having my smart phone? For me, there is some medical stuff that I have to keep an eye on so I can to be out of touch. You are keeping track of some things here happening at work that were important and time sensitive. I left my camping trip to go by technology to get back into the woods so that I could maintain this digital lifestyle.
First of all, you guys can tease me about that.
JOSH ANDERSON: Shame.
WADE WINGLER: And why we are in a world like that. Why is $1000 for a phone a reasonable price? And the lowest model in terms of cost is looking at 6 or $700? Is it worth it for us to have the smart phones that cost between $600-$1000 we people don’t blink an eye at paying that much for this technology. In fact, they do. They roll it into the cost of monthly fees and stuff like that. $1000 phones is our reality. Is it worth it?
BRIAN NORTON: Let me start answering the question by saying yes, but. Yes they are worth it because I believe everybody in this room would say that the number one tool they use day in and day out is their phone. But they [expletive] well better last more than six years. Why do they have to go out after a little period of time? Then you feel like, oh, they just came up with a new upgrading. Why do they keep upgrading them every six months? It’s because we are in a consumer society. That makes me crazy. I think they are totally worth $1000, but I wish they would last a whole lot longer than the last. I think everybody runs into those issues. I know people on our staff still have iPhone 5’s, and they are making do.
JOSH ANDERSON: Todd is still using an iPhone 4s.
BRIAN NORTON: I would say that’s money well spent, the $600 that was spent. Now if you have an iPhone 7 that goes out after a year, it’s like really? Really? That’s the problem in my opinion. I think they are totally worth the money because I would say everybody that uses one, that’s their number one tool to be able to keep in touch with folks. If only they lasted a while.
BELVA SMITH: I think there was a lot of money, but $1000? I can’t imagine a day — the entire time I was in the hospital, everyone kept saying, do you want an iPad? Do you want your computer? I was like, no, I have my phone. My phone let me do everything I could’ve wanted to do from where I was. But $1000?
JOSH ANDERSON: I have a really nice computer for $1000.
BELVA SMITH: But you can’t make a phone call.
JOSH ANDERSON: But I can find a way.
BELVA SMITH: But you can’t carry it in your pocket.
BRIAN NORTON: Let’s just call it out. $1000. You are not paying $1000 for an Android phone or those kinds of things. Those are subsidized within the AT&T stores and other places you go. It’s an Apple. It’s the Apple phenomenon where people pay for having Apple.
BELVA SMITH: That’s what it is. That’s what we are paying $1000 for, the apple on the back. You can go get an Android phone that will do virtually the same stuff for way less.
JOSH ANDERSON: I wonder where that price point is that they hit. A lot of androids have a better camera. They take better movies. They have almost all the same apps. They are starting to get up there with the accessibility built in. When there is a $700 difference in the price of a phone, when is that Apple on the back not worth $700. I didn’t realize those were their three-tier price points. That’s not really three tiers. Three tiers would be a $200 phone, $500 phone, a $1,000 phone. I have a lot of friends that said they were just tired of having to upgrade of the time, so they switched over to Android and never looked back. I know people who have iPhones will work, and they turn it off when they leave work and use their Android.
BELVA SMITH: I agree with you, Brian. I think at that point, it’s kind of like our cars. It needs to last us. We need to feel like, okay, five years, six years, I’m done. I’m ready to get a new phone. But in a year or two years? No. Come on. Even if you are paying for it over time, in your plan, you probably don’t have it paid for. In fact, it doesn’t one of the carriers offer —
BRIAN NORTON: It’s AT&T Next.
JOSH ANDERSON: You just continually paid.
BELVA SMITH: Yes. You continually pay, and you can get a new phone when they come out.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s a challenge. I think people are just willing to pay for the Apple. I wish they would last a lot longer, but then you have people who aren’t content. One the new things that comes out and has the latest bobble, they have to have it.
BELVA SMITH: I think it’s interesting how seven years ago, eight years ago, not everybody carried a cell phone. Nowadays, pretty much everybody has some sort of a smart phone in her hand.
BRIAN NORTON: I look at it from the disability perspective. I’m wondering, if you think about $1000 for a phone, as far as an iPhone is concerned, accessibility is not an issue.
BELVA SMITH: And it replaces thousands of dollars of devices you would’ve had before.
BRIAN NORTON: Which definitely speaks towards is it worth it? Yeah. Longevity and durability and making sure it is going to last a while, I think, is questionable to me. I’ve seen a lot of them go out after a little bit. Okay.
WADE WINGLER: It’s interesting. There is planned obsolescence. I’m glancing over to the live blog post right now, and the event is not quite over so we don’t know what else they are going to say. They always do a one more thing. But they are announcing the iOS 12 is going to be coming out and all the great things it does. It will support the iPhone 5s and up.
BELVA SMITH: So Todd’s phone is going to be done anyway.
WADE WINGLER: It’s not going to work anymore. That’s required obsolescence at that point. If you are going to use the new security features and bells and whistles, you can’t do it on an older phone.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s the other thing. Moving from an iPhone 4 or 5 to an iPhone 8? Worth the $1000 to me. Moving from an iPhone 7 to an iPhone 8? No way.
BELVA SMITH: That’s why I’m still on my 6s. I don’t have any desire to move out. I like this phone and want to use this phone tell it doesn’t work anymore.
BRIAN NORTON: How fast can you blink an eye? I’ve tried it, and I don’t think I get any faster. If you are in the studio with me, I’m blinking my eyes.
JOSH ANDERSON: He’s actually winking.
WADE WINGLER: He has this weird twitch thing going on. I usually like to upgrade every three years. Every three versions is when I see a decrease in the functionality of the old one because of the battery, or it breaks, or some new thing. I think upgrade more often than that because I do.
BELVA SMITH: Talking about the watch, I haven’t upgraded my watch. I want to but I haven’t, because why do I want to? I don’t really know. Like you were just saying about the blinking, I don’t know how much faster I need my watch to be for me.
BRIAN NORTON: Years under the thing out there out there. Wade, I know you. You are a power user of your phone. Everything goes through your phone. You are on your phone all the time.
WADE WINGLER: All day long.
BRIAN NORTON: You’re going to have carpal tunnel when you are older because you are on your phone so much.
JOSH ANDERSON: Just in the thumbs.
BRIAN NORTON: I know other people in my team, they make phone calls. That’s it.
BELVA SMITH: Right.
BRIAN NORTON: They use a computer for everything else. I would say in Wade’s case as a power user, and he’s using it all the time, maybe it is worth the $1000 to get it done because it is his tool.
BELVA SMITH: That’s maybe why it was smoking. He uses it all the time.
WADE WINGLER: It missed me, and I was camping. I was in on it very much.
JOSH ANDERSON: You were camping. Did you have your try to plug into the fire? I think that may have been where the problem came from.
WADE WINGLER: Nope. I caught some squirrels, put them on a flywheel and had squirrels running around, charging my iPhone.
JOSH ANDERSON: You got too fast of squirrels. That’s what it was.
WADE WINGLER: That’s exactly right.
BRIAN NORTON: That was a good question. Thank you.
WADE WINGLER: First time ever.
BRIAN NORTON: I want to wrap the show up for today. I want to ask you if you guys have been listening and have any answers or feedback that you want to throw out there regarding the question that we talked about today, we would love to hear from you. If you have questions that you’ve been thinking about throughout the show, give us a call as well. We would love to hear from you. Our listener line is 317-721-7124. Or you can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. Or email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. We would love to hear from you. In fact, without your questions, we don’t have a show. Be a part of it.
I want to thank the folks in the studio. Belva, it is so good to have you back.
BELVA SMITH: It’s so good to be back.
BRIAN NORTON: Thank you for today. Josh, I want to say thank you to you. Have anything you want to share? Or say goodbye?
JOSH ANDERSON: Welcome back Belva.
BELVA SMITH: Think everybody. And Wade? Thank you.
WADE WINGLER: I’m still looking at the live blog. They are doing a thing called Siri shortcuts which look to be macros for Siri, which might have some assistive technology implications. We’ll have to spend more time on in the future. Belva, it is so good to see you back.
BELVA SMITH: It is so amazing to be back.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent. Thank you guys. Have a great one and 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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