ATFAQ078 – Panel – Brian Norton, Josh Anderson, Belva Smith, and Wade Wingler – Q1 Zero force keyboards for neuropathy Q2 App to demonstrate making change Q3 Pulling up pants with one hand Q4 Buzz clip or Sunu band Q5 Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive controller Q6 If everything is now wireless, why are there so many wires and connectors in my backpack
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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.
***Transcript provided by TJ Cortopassi. For requests and inquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org***
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 78. My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of ATFAQ. We are happy that you tuned in with us this week. But before we jump into questions that you sent in, I wanted to take a moment and go around and introduce the folks who are sitting in the studio with me. Belva? Smith back everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: Belva is back. Better than ever.
WADE WINGLER: Woohoo! Coming on strong.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent. We also have Josh, the manager of clinical assistive technology.
JOSH ANDERSON: Hi everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: I didn’t mention, but Belva is our vision team lead at Easter Seals Crossroads. Thank you. Wade Wingler, who is the popular host of AT update. Want to say hey?
WADE WINGLER: Hello Brian. What are you doing?
BRIAN NORTON: I think it’s probably something we can preface this show with. For the past 45 minutes, we’ve been sitting in the studio and have not record one iota of our show. We were just hamming it up of it.
WADE WINGLER: Just talking.
JOSH ANDERSON: We were technically recording. I just don’t think we are going to use it.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s very true. For our new listeners, I did want to take a moment and welcome you guys to the show and tell you a little bit about how our show works. Throughout the week, we receive feedback and come across various assistive technology related questions. We do that in a variety of ways. We have a couple of ways are set up for you to get us your questions. The first is our listener line, 317-721-7124. Or you can send us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. Or if you are in the twitter universe, you can send us a tweet with hashtag ATFAQ. We look for that throughout the week. That’s a great way for you to provide your questions. We also look for feedback, so as you listen to our show today and you hear the different questions that are asked and we are going to answer, if you have a comment or answer you’d like to send our way, we’d love to hear from you as well so we can provide of folks that called in with good information and hopefully a complete answer and get the information they are looking for. We would love to hear from you guys. We love the feedback, love the questions you sent in. We are going to go ahead and jump into the show.
BRIAN NORTON: So we are going to jump into the feedback that we got this past week. The first one was some feedback for apps for emotional issues. We had a question we tackled last week about that. You’re going to go ahead and play the first one.
SPEAKER: Hi, this is Jules from North Carolina. I had some feedback for ATFAQ show. I was listening to the June 11 show — welcome back, Belva, by the way — and I noticed the question about emotional regulation apps. I have an app called Pocket CBT that I use because I have some emotional issues myself. It’s a really cool app. It’s meant for people with depression, anxiety, personality disorders, things like that. It’s really meant for the adult or the children as you type things, and it walks you through the CBT methods until your down to zero, ten being the worst, zero being the best. That’s about it. It has the different methods of calm you down, assessing the situation. You just go to the steps and enjoy. Talk you later.
BRIAN NORTON: Thanks Jules. That was excellent feedback. We are definitely going to share that with the listeners.
BELVA SMITH: Thanks for the welcome back.
BRIAN NORTON: We are all happy that Belva is back.
BELVA SMITH: So is Belva.
BRIAN NORTON: I think we can all agree on that.
WADE WINGLER: It’s true.
BRIAN NORTON: Perfect. We had one more bit of — not necessarily feedback. I wanted to solicit some feedback again for a message we had last time. It was on crypto currency wallets. We didn’t hear from anybody. I wanted to throw that back out our listeners and play one more time and see if they had anything to chime in between now and our next show. We are going to play the voicemail message and the question the person had about crypto currency wallets and hopefully we can get some feedback to this person
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 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 hearing from you. Have a great day.
BRIAN NORTON: I just wanted to play that back for folks. We didn’t get feedback with regard to crypto currency, so if anybody has some information, we certainly want to be able to pass that on to him. We will look forward to hearing from folks over the next few weeks before the next show.
BELVA SMITH: Was his question about the hardware wallets?
WADE WINGLER: A hardware wallets.
BELVA SMITH: What would be a hardware wallet?
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s like a thumb drive. You have a thumb drive think and you keep all your crypto currency on it. You can open it without the password. As opposed to just being software.
BRIAN NORTON: Looking specifically for one that is accessible.
***[7:36] Question One – Zero force keyboards for neuropathy
BRIAN NORTON: Our first question of the day, a new question of the day, is from an email I received. It says I have a client who has developed a neuropathy in her fingers, causing tingling and swelling which makes even small amounts of typing too much. She is currently working, and typing is required, so I’m looking for some suggestions on zero force keyboards. We did try Dragon, but most of her applications I work are not compatible with Dragon. That’s not an option. Again, looking for zero force keyboards. That’s where you don’t even have to press a button. It’s almost like there’s just no force required to press a button. Or even the depth of pressing. You don’t have to press very far to get it to actuate we are looking for. That’s what we are looking for with regards to zero force keyboards.
BELVA SMITH: Wouldn’t that — with a zero force keyboards, would you still be required to use your fingers? I’m thinking that she’s not going to be able to tell if her finger is on the T or the Q. That’s what I’m thinking. It is not correct. What I was thinking was one of those typing aids that would go over her hands, so really the fingers are there to hold that aid, but then she could still use her hand to move around the keyboard. I think you can adjust on some keyboards the sensitivity. Right?
BRIAN NORTON: Right. When I think about zero force keyboards, I think of the old Intellikeys keyboard. It doesn’t have actual keys. It’s just an overlay, and you have very little force required to be able to press a key. I think you’re right. I think typing aids, if you seen those that will wrap around her fingers and they have an extension that comes off the strap that is around your fingers to be able to then consistently press the buttons. That might be an option for her to give her something to grab onto and press those keys. Obviously the Intellikeys isn’t made anymore, so that’s kind of out. It’s not supported. I think you can probably still get those, but it’s a bigger keyboard, not like a traditional keyboard. It’s a bigger keyboard. They have one inch key regions on some of the smaller overlay that you require.
I was looking around, and I know it was mentioned that Dragon wasn’t compatible with a lot of those applications. However, there are some things to make people aware of, some add-ons to Dragon that make the computer more accessible. There are a couple of companies, one called voice computer, and another one called PC by voice. Voice computer uses something called Intag. Basically what it does is it allows you to use a command. It’ll put numbers on all of the object to make things accessible. When you say a particular command, numbers will go over every buttons, every control that’s available within that window, sort of if you are in Windows speech recognition software and you say show numbers. It puts numbers on anything and everything you can click on in the window. That makes things a little bit more accessible for folks, especially in some of those programs that aren’t very compatible.
The other one is PC By Voice. There is an application called Speech Start. I think that does something very similar to Voice Computer and the Intag software where it allows things to be more accessible as well. In addition, there is Dragon scripting available as well. If you have the professional version, you can get Dragon to do quite a few things through scripting, either by creating macros or recording mouse movements and keystrokes on your computer. There is a whole bunch of possibilities with that as well.
I did hear about another possible solution as well. There is something called Mobile Mouse, which allows you to turn your iPad into a remote control app for PC or Mac. I’ve not played with that, but I’m wondering if you were able to use that app, could you use the keyboard on the iPad, which is, again, similar to the effect you get with Intellikeys on PC. There is zero force. You were just using the touchscreen keyboard to be able to then type on the computer. That’s called Mobile Mouse.
BELVA SMITH: Hear something that just came to mind. A couple of years ago, several years ago, we had a keyboard that had a light, and it shined, projected onto your desktop.
JOSH ANDERSON: You really didn’t have to put any force behind it.
BELVA SMITH: No force. You are just pushing a light.
BRIAN NORTON: I forget what that once called. It was a laser —
WADE WINGLER: It’s a laser projection keyboard. They sold it under a bunch of different names.
JOSH ANDERSON: I think they run from $30-$150, depending on what brand name they are under.
WADE WINGLER: If you just put laser keyboard, you will find a bunch of them out there. I’m also seeing some technology — and I’ve seen a few different devices that do this. The one I’m going to talk about is called the Tap wearable keyboard. You can find it at Tap With Us. Basically it’s a glove, and there are a few different tools that do this, is like a glove, and you put over your hand. It has an accelerometer in gyroscope in it. It can tell when your typing and lifting a finger. The idea is you put this glove — in this case more of a band. It doesn’t have fingers or a palm, but it’s a plastic ring around each one of your fingers, and they are all connected together by a strip of plastic. You can type on any surface. You can type letters, do commands, control the mouse or keyboard. It’s a Bluetooth device that you can you to type text or control the mouse or do commands on your computer. I haven’t used it, and I don’t know if it requires only the movement to start tapping, or you actually had to impact something and how adjustable it is. But it’s $180 and looks like it might be worth a try. If you go to Tapwithus.com, you’ll see the tap strap, and there are a ton of videos and explanations about how you can use it. It works with Windows and Bluetooth, so it’s probably going to work with your iOS device and those things as well. There are a number of these glove like devices that are being designed to replace keyboards. It’s not for any accessibility reason. It’s mostly for if you are sitting on a subway or in public and don’t want a few full computer keyboard, you can have these things that go on your head and you can type out a text message about having both hands available. You can be standing on the train with her hand down to your side, tapping along on your jeans, typing out in message through Bluetooth on your phone. It’s worth a look.
BELVA SMITH: If you just put typing aid in Google, Maxi Aids will come up with a typing aid that I was talking about. I think it’s about $14. Amazon also has a different version of it for $20. That would be a good, cheap alternative to try. Or check with your local —
BRIAN NORTON: AT act. Is that the word you are searching for?
BELVA SMITH: That’s where I was going. I was looking at Brian trying to pull it out of his brain. See if you can borrow one and try it.
BRIAN NORTON: To be able to find your local AT act, that’s a EasterSealsTech.com/states. I’ll also mention one other thing that came to mind as well with regards to this question. If typing repeatedly throughout your day is required, a lot of times what I end up recommended for folks is some sort of abbreviation expansion program. We use a couple of those around here quite a bit. I use one called text expander because I use a Mac all the time. It allows me to do some pretty cool macros where I type a couple of keystrokes and it pops up a whole bunch of text for me on my screen. It’s really helpful when you have redundant emails or redundant information that you continue to type over again. It helps you to not have to think through each time you want to write something. If you are doing lots of email or responding to similar questions throughout the day for folks, or even writing letters or whatever, anything that is redundant in nature, this will help you type those things faster with less keystrokes and help you be a little bit more productive and efficient when doing those types of tasks.
I mentioned Text Expander. That’s a Mac application. If you are looking something similar with Windows, that’s called Phrase Expander. They allow you to create these macros. For instance, I received lots of referrals from folks. I have a typical response I’ll send to folks with regard to those referrals, so if I type dot- or period-R-E-F, a macro will jump up on my screen and I’ll be able to fill in the person’s name who emailed me, and a couple of other data points that I want to include an email back. Once I had my enter key, it goes right into the application I was typing into and allows me to send it. It’s a pretty quick and efficient way to be able to limit typing and replace some of those redundant things that you type over and over again.
***[17:25] Question Two – App to demonstrate making change
BRIAN NORTON: Our second question for the day came in an email form. It’s as one of my employment consultants was asking if anyone knew of an app or device that, when you type in an amount of change, it shows you a picture of the most common ways to make that change. For example, type in $.76, and it shows a picture of three quarters and a penny. We toss that around through our clinical team and were looking for some suggestions. We came up with an answer for this one that I think it’s is pretty close, if not solving the problem. There is an app called to get your changes by Daniel Wolf. It’s a free iOS app and allows you to be able to type in a dollar amount or change amount, and it’s going to give you a picture and information about what needs to be returned. Is that accurate, Josh? I know you have it pulled up on your phone.
JOSH ANDERSON: Yeah. It gives you a picture. If you type in $6.50, it shows a five dollar bill with a “1” next to it, and a one [dollar bill] with a “1” next to it, and a picture of a quarter with “2.” So you need one five, A1, and two quarters. It’ll do the all the way up to $999.99. It does actually have the picture of the bill, so if you don’t know exactly which one, what it looks like, it will show you that. It doesn’t show you three different pictures of quarters, but as long as the person can understand the numbers of how many the person needs, then it should be pretty helpful and what they’re looking for. It works quickly. You just type in the number and it’s there.
BRIAN NORTON: I’d imagine that that might be a popular after people knew it was out there. For folks who are in retail stores, I see a lot of people struggling as they get in the cash drawer going to figure out how to make the change. That could be something pretty interesting. I think it gets you pretty close to what you are looking for with that, especially if they can understand numbers and things like that. One more time, it’s called Get Your Change by Daniel Wolf. Do we know if it is Android compatible?
BELVA SMITH: It’s is iOS and also says it’s free. It’s definitely worth trying since it’s free. I would assume if they are not using iOS, then there is probably something in the Android world that is similar to it.
BRIAN NORTON: Probably could you part of the way at least. Excellent.
***[19:55] Question Three – Pulling up pants with one hand
BRIAN NORTON: Our third question also came into an email. This is a question about a client needing something to help with going to the bathroom. I’m going to read through this thing. I have a new client who I need an idea for. He is a stroke survivor. His left side is a definitely affected. He’s got some minimal gross movement and use of his left hand. His right hand has normal grip strength and dexterity. Legs, minimal movement with left leg and good movement with the right leg. You can walk a good distance with a walker, can stand well with a walker, but is a little unsteady without. Can stand and transfer with the help of grab bars. He does have some reduced field of vision. His speech is good, and cognition seemed well intact. He’s well oriented with time and space and seems to understand instructions. But here’s the problem. He reports that he would like to be able to go to the restroom independently. Presently he needs help basically getting his pants pulled back up once he is finished. I know it seems like a little thing, but he and his employment services rep have a pretty good lead on a job, and he reports that he would like to be able to use the restroom without help and to the independently. Don’t know if any of you have encountered anything like this and how you solve this. He reports that if he can get his pants from the floor to about his knees, he would be able to finish with his right hand. They are looking for something like a grabber to grab the pants but wondering if anyone else has a better idea to be of the help them with that particular task.
BELVA SMITH: I can say, having just experienced this exact situation because my left arm is the arm that was broken, and going to the restroom privately is a huge deal, it’s not a minor deal, for me, I was able to do a lot of it with my right arm, but not enough. Again, for me the problem wasn’t getting it from the floor to money as much as it was getting it to the right position on the left side. My right arm could only go so far. For this particular situation, I would recommend some sort of a suspender that would keep the pants at the knee level so that they didn’t have to go all the way to the four. Getting them from the floor up is going to be a real challenge. You don’t want to be packing a grabber every time you go anywhere, but if you can get a suspender — and I believe that we found something on Amazon that looked pretty reasonable and affordable.
BRIAN NORTON: Yeah, there was a Rolyn, R-O-L-Y-N pressed pant clip. With that basically does is you can put the clip in your shirt pocket, and as you stand back up, it will raise the pants as you stand up. It’s called Rolyn pressed pant clip. It’s pretty inexpensive. It looks like it’s $21.99. You can get that from Amazon. Pant clip is what it says on the description on Amazon. They will allow you to clip your pants up to your shirt, and as you stand up, that clip then pull your pants up as you stand up. May be a really simple way to do that particular thing. We also talked about the grabber idea to be able to grab those things, but again that’s going to take some dexterity and fine motor movement and the ability to do it finger strength to make it happen?
BELVA SMITH: Right. And for me, the grabber, I did use a couple of times. I’m not going to lie, I had to. But the grabber only did so much, which was get them from the floor. It didn’t help me get them situated, get the wrinkles out and all that stuff. That’s where I was restricted with my right arm only being able to go so far and do so much. Again, that’s why having something like that we just described would probably be more beneficial than just having the grabber.
JOSH ANDERSON: I found one very close to what I found which was called the clip and pull dressing aid. It has the two clips on it just like a pair of suspenders would. They go to the front of the pants, and one handle, so with one hand you can pull them up, especially if you can get them with the right hand up to his knees. That might be something that work pretty well. It’s a pretty small device, could easily be attached to his walker when he’s not using it.
BRIAN NORTON: A couple of things out there out with this question. Always with these types of questions, we are pretty great around here with computer access and other types of things.
BELVA SMITH: But we are not an OT.
BRIAN NORTON: We are not an OT by any stretch of the imagination. These are the types of situations where an OT in particular would be really helpful in looking at the problem not just from a device standpoint but also being able to work with the individual to help them with strength and endurance and other types of things that are going to be necessary to perform that particular task. I would always say check with an OT before you go out and start buying things. Work with them. You may also reach out to independent living centers. There are independent living centers all over the country. Depending on where you live, look for the independent living center in your area. They might have some things where you can actually go in and try something. Again, this isn’t maybe an area of expertise. Obviously have some suggestions and information to be able to provide, but definitely check with an OT. Also reach out to an independent living center.
WADE WINGLER: I’m just thinking about this as I go. Many of the devices you are thinking about like a reacher have such a rigid component. They are not discrete, you have to carry them with you.
BELVA SMITH: That’s what I’m saying.
WADE WINGLER: I’m just brainstorming in my head wondering why could you not get a dog leash, a small, short, lightweight dog leash, put it in your front pocket, and when you take your pants off, put the dog leash around your wrist and clip it to a belt loop, drop your pants, and when you are done, use that dog leash to pull it back up because it is around your wrist. And then put it back in your pocket. You could even leave it clip to your belt loop the whole time if you wanted and have it in one of your front pants pockets. Then it is just there. Put it around your wrist and move on. They make dog leashes that are pretty lightweight, soft, that are shorter. You can get them every length, every strength that you want.
BELVA SMITH: Something that is attached to you or in your pocket is going to be way better than having to carry one of those grabbers around.
JOSH ANDERSON: Oh yeah.
BELVA SMITH: Because you are going to have it when you need it. It’s not would happen.
WADE WINGLER: You can make one of the lightweight cat leashes that I’ve seen that are really flexible. You can stick it in your pocket and hardly recognize it most of the time.
BELVA SMITH: I’m kind of surprised talking about the OT, I’m kind of surprised he got out of the hospital without this being addressed. The OT was working with me to address the situation within the first four five days. Once it was clear that I couldn’t use my left arm at all, that was one of the first things we started to address.
BRIAN NORTON: I wonder, it may have been a task that was completed, but he may be looking for an easier way to do it. I don’t know.
WADE WINGLER: Definitely an OT.
BRIAN NORTON: Definitely something that would be involved with in that. I will throw it out to other folks. Maybe we have an OT listening to the show or anybody who might have some suggestions. Maybe you’ve had similar situations. We would love to hear from you guys. You can give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124. We would love to hear from you regarding that question or any others we’ve had today.
***[28:24] Question Four – Buzz clip or Sunu band
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is a voicemail. We are going to play the voicemail for you.
SPEAKER: My name is ability, and I’m calling for ATFAQ. I’m considering buying either the Buzz Clip or the Sunu Band, and I was wondering which one would be the most effective for getting from one place to another as well as setting alarms for various times I need to have notified. Thank you.
BRIAN NORTON: The question was the consideration of purchasing either the Buzz Clip or the Sunu Band. For our listeners’sake, I’m going to describe what those are. The Buzz Clip or the Sunu Band are some newer devices. I’m not sure how long the buzz clip has been around, but the Sunu band is fairly recent. For folks were blind or visually impaired and use a cane for orientation and mobility purposes, they are positioned — the Sunu band is a wrist, so it’s on your wrist. The buzz clip is something that is actually clipped to the person’s sure or whatever. It helps folks identify things that are not on the ground. As you use your cane, you are feeling for things are out in front of you. It’ll bump into something and let you know that you need to move around something. These are looking for objects that are up higher, that maybe your cane won’t hit or get to, helping you be a little bit more aware of your surroundings and being able to get around things or easily.
The thing I’ll mention foremost with those things is if you are looking for the buzz clip and Sunu band, one of the place we mentioned before on the show, one of the place to be able to experience it a little bit, you may reach out to your local assistive technology act. You can find at EasterSealsTech.com/states. They oftentimes will have a demo and loan program you might be able to get a demonstration of that particular device and be able to borrow it for 30 days or longer to be able to get an idea of does it really work and how does it work for you. I want to throw that out as we talk about those things.
Something I haven’t had a lot of first-hand experience with how well it works, I think it’s definitely something you want to use in combination with something. It’s not something you want to rely on solely. We deftly want to use it in combination with your cane and not just on its own, so you can not only feel things are a pipe but also down low. Any thoughts to the differences between those and preferences? I don’t know if we would necessarily recommend one product over the other.
BELVA SMITH: I think they are both expensive enough that, if it were me, I would definitely be the assistive technology act to be able to borrow one. I think one of them is $199 and another one is $250. I’ve not used either one. I’ve not personally work with anyone who has used either one. But Josh did. It’s kind of funny that this question came up because this morning, Josh and I were in the lab, and I looked at our — what do you call that guy?
JOSH ANDERSON: Manny.
BELVA SMITH: I said what’s this thing on his arm that he’s wearing? Josh was tell me about it. It’s actually the Sunu band. I guess I’ll pull it off and have somebody try it and see what it’s like. I guess have questions about how reliable they could be I happen to have a very close, personal person who is blind, visually impaired, so I’ll have him try it out and come back to that question in a week or two.
JOSH ANDERSON: I’d love to hear what a mobility and orientation specialist would say about it or what kind of experience they’ve had. I do know a lot of folks I work with have set you up the dog with a cane, they fit their head on low branches or things like that, stuff that the dog is not looking for, that the cane is not going to hit. One thing I will say that I like is the way both of these are marketed. They are both marketed as complements to the dog.
BELVA SMITH: A companion.
JOSH ANDERSON: The one is going to try to tell you it’s able — that’s usually a pretty good sign. One of them uses ultrasound. One of them uses sonar. I guess I would be interested to see the difference, what one picks up and maybe the other doesn’t. I do like the way it is all haptic feedback. It makes me think of some of the blind and deaf folks we work with, to be able to help them out as well.
BELVA SMITH: I’m noticing that the buzz clip says you can’t get it wet. It snaps onto your clothing rather than on your wrist, so washing your hands wouldn’t be an issue.
JOSH ANDERSON: It says water resistant, so at least it would be okay out in the rain. Just a big downpour or diving in the pool would be bad.
BELVA SMITH: I think this would be a good question to throw out to our listeners. If you have used one of these or are using one of them, let us know how well it works and what your thoughts on its. The feedback on both of them seem to be fairly good, but I’m not sure —
JOSH ANDERSON: If they pick their feedback?
BELVA SMITH: Exactly.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s always hard to tell on that kind of stuff. I to be interested. It is a good idea. Like I said, lots of folks I’ve talked to have had issues with that problem before. It could be very helpful.
BRIAN NORTON: I would be very interested in that. Maybe you’ve had some experience with this particular device, you can get a hold of us and let us know and we will play that feedback in an upcoming show just to let folks know what we find out. You can do that through our listener line, 317-721-7124. Or you can send us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. We would love to hear from you. This is the buzz clip and Sunu band. They are echolocation or sonar based complements to the white cane or dog for helping with orientation and mobility. Definitely we would love to hear from you on that.
***[35:11] Question Five – Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive controller
BRIAN NORTON: So our next question is an email from Ron. He had several questions that came in. One was to describe what the new Microsoft Xbox adaptive controller looks like because is unable to see some pictures of it. He had a particular question about a flight controller simulator type of software that he is working on and if the Xbox controller would allow for two types of navigation, one to be able to handle the pitch of the airplane and some other controls with the airplane. I’m looking into that, but I did think we could take the opportunity to at least describe to folks what the Xbox adaptive controller looks like.
In its basic form, just picture a rectangular type of controller. It has two large buttons, circular bonds to the right. It does have a directional, up, left, down, right arrow key on the bottom left hand side. It does have some funds above it as well, some smaller bonds. All along the back, and what makes this such a unique controller, I believe it has 19 different switch ports that are built into it. Those allow you to control every button and movement that the particular controller, typical Xbox controller would allow you to control. With those switch inputs, you would be able to them plug in all sorts of switches for devices to be able to control those different movements are buttons.
BELVA SMITH: Those are 3M connectors on the back, right?
JOSH ANDERSON: Three point five millimeters jacks?
BELVA SMITH: Yeah.
BRIAN NORTON: I believe so. Imagine you can have one is switch activating the “Y” button, one switch activating the “X” button, up, down, left, right, all these different options for folks.
JOSH ANDERSON: I think you can connect mounts to the back of it.
BELVA SMITH: It has mounts you can get for it. You can connect different switches to it as well. They are sold separately, but that is part of the purpose of those jacks in the back.
JOSH ANDERSON: Even USBs for joysticks and pedal controls. Really anything you think of you may be able to connect to it.
BELVA SMITH: I didn’t find anywhere it gives the dimension of the controller. To me, it reminds me very much of the Nintendo, the original Nintendo controller. It looks to be about that size. The cross pad you described, Brian, in the bottom left-hand corner looks just like that cross pad with the two buttons about it.
WADE WINGLER: We are so American here because it is in metric. It’s 292 millimeters long, 130 millimeters wide, and 23 millimeters high.
BELVA SMITH: It’s all gibberish.
JOSH ANDERSON: Is that the size of a car? The size of my Mini Cooper?
WADE WINGLER: To me, the disc switches, the biggest things, are about the size of a CD or DVD side-by-side. That makes the cross pad probably about the size — your thumb is going to cover it. It’s about the size of your thumb or so. The smaller bonds are just smaller than that. They are like TV buttons on a TV remote control is what I’m thinking about.
BRIAN NORTON: They do have a side-by-side picture of the adaptive controller with a traditional Xbox controller. Think about it as about twice the size in length of a traditional Xbox controller. I don’t know if that did it any justice whatsoever.
WADE WINGLER: White plastic. Buttons are black. The cross is black. The rest of the buttons are white.
BELVA SMITH: I think it’s important to point out that it is USB charging. USB-C.
WADE WINGLER: Compact USB. That’s what my Mac runs on.
BELVA SMITH: That’s what I’m thinking. The Mac runs on that, but I guess Windows also has the USB-C?
WADE WINGLER: It’s a hardware standard, so everything is going to that. While you were out, the whole world went to USB C.
JOSH ANDERSON: Totally skipped over USB-B.
BRIAN NORTON: Quit living in the past.
BELVA SMITH: All right.
BRIAN NORTON: The other thing I’ll mention is RAM mounts. I don’t know if you guys have had any experience with RAM amounts.
WADE WINGLER: I love ramp mounts.
BRIAN NORTON: There pretty cool. What I love the most about them is they connect to just about everything, including your wheelchairs. They will connect to the sidebar, the round to being, fit on the chair rail piece that is underneath a lot of seats. It will allow you to be able to connect those directly to your wheelchair or anywhere you want to, a desk, whatever. RAM amounts, I believe it mentions that they partnered directly with Microsoft to create specific mounting solutions for that Xbox adaptive controller. It looks like some really interesting way to be able to get that amount into places that folks typically would like to use that type of device.
WADE WINGLER: They have specific adaptive kits that run anywhere from $30-$150. They have wheelchair mounts that will go exactly. And arm amount, a seat amount, and there also compatible — they partner with the other traditional ramp mounts, like their universal fall mounts that will allow you to hook arms on it and all kinds of stuff. It is very RAM mount compatible. Very cool.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent. I hope that did some justice to giving and audio description of what the adaptive Xbox controller looks like and it’s features.
The other question I want to get to as well is — there are lots of questions Ron had about this particular controller. I’m wondering maybe in a future show if we will work our way into getting someone from Microsoft to give us a little bit of assistance in trying to answer this question and sing about giving simple answers to all the different questions that Ron had. I think specifically it was about some particular games that he was interested in playing. I think you’ll reach out later on to be able to get some more information for Ron on that.
BELVA SMITH: I would suggest to Ron — and you may have already done this — reaching out to Microsoft’s accessibility team directly himself, especially if he is working on developing.
BRIAN NORTON: That would be a good idea. I think they are oftentimes willing to help in those situations.
BELVA SMITH: I will say that just today, I had to use the Microsoft accessibility support team. I was very impressed at how helpful they were and how quick it was. It wasn’t one of those situations where you call support and wait for 45 minute before you get to talk to someone. It was a very nice experience. I would definitely recommend reaching out to them if he’s got these types of questions. I’m sure they could give him some valuable information. From excellent.
***[43:03] Wildcard Question
WADE WINGLER: And now it’s time for the wildcard question.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is wildcard question. This is where Wade throws us a question that is off-the-wall and when we haven’t had a chance to prepare for. What have you got for us today?
WADE WINGLER: This morning, I went out to speak to a local high school football team. Local people will know Center Grove is kind of a rock star high school football program. They are doing some volunteering with one of our camps. It’s really great. Our football team, the Center Grove football team is going to be taking some of our young people who are in wheelchairs out for a field day. It’s a really cool thing. The reason I talk about that was I wanted to show a YouTube video to them. As I was going through my backpack to try to figure out how to connect my new MacBook Pro with the USB C into their VGA projector, but also they had an HDMI adapter, and then a three point five millimeter jack — or 3M, as you called it Belva. I’ve never heard it called it before but I like it — 3M jack this morning to just play a YouTube video. Then I got out my Bluetooth speaker and connected it to my Mac because I needed some audio in the room. Guys, I thought we were in a world that was going wireless. We have wireless connections, wireless charging, wireless everything. A wide why have so many wires and adapters in my backpack to be able to get through my life? My real question is for you guys, what do you have to carry in your briefcase or backpack in this quote-unquote wireless world to survive? I probably carry more than the average bear, and so does Brian. I was away this weekend and I had to have some cords and cables with me to charge my phone, and my watch requires a wire now. Why are we not really wireless when everything says it is wireless? That’s the first thing. Two, which wires do you have to have in your life to get through the day? Let’s say you’re going on a trip or something. Just to get your workday.
BELVA SMITH: I can’t get through the day without my phone charging cord. That’s for sure. My watch, I can get through the day fine, today’s really, but my phone has got to have its core wherever I go. It’s funny that this is our question because I was just the other day thinking about ATIA. Nicole was trying to get all that video captured, and she was having to drag along this big camera and all this stuff with her. What I want to know is why couldn’t you have used your phone with just a special microphone? You were wanting to show —
WADE WINGLER: I was giving a presentation and needed to hook it up to a projector in their meeting room.
BELVA SMITH: I don’t know.
WADE WINGLER: But we are supposed to be wireless now.
JOSH ANDERSON: Wireless is expensive. When you have $185 worth of tiny connectors, that makes them more money. It’s more like three or $400 worth when I think about it.
BELVA SMITH: Getting all those cables is expensive.
WADE WINGLER: And they don’t last forever. They wear out.
BELVA SMITH: No matter how prepared you are, there is going to be something that you can’t do is not going to fit.
JOSH ANDERSON: I even found some projectors aren’t Mac compatible matter what you connect into them. I’ve run into that before. The phone charger is definitely a must, need to be in the car, one with me probably at all times. I have a universal adapter for my MacBook that plugs into both the USB C’s and has HDMI, USB, and some of the connections. That makes it work for most of things. I think I have an HDMI to VGA so I can daisychain three connections together in order to get it to work on some things. Then a Bluetooth speaker if I’m going to do a presentation, because I don’t know if there will be sound. What’s really funny is a — and Brian can probably attest to this — other people have used my Bluetooth speaker more than I have. I’ll get emails or something, hey, you just presented and the sound of all the work for me. Can I use your Bluetooth speaker?
WADE WINGLER: Let me ask a question. You have a Bluetooth speaker. Do you also have a wired adapter to go with it?
JOSH ANDERSON: I do have a connector, a 3M connector, as Belva would call it. That doesn’t connect to my phone anymore because my phone no longer has that Jack. It’s pretty well useless if I want to use it with a phone.
BELVA SMITH: I don’t have any cables from a Bluetooth speaker. It has to do it or I don’t use it.
JOSH ANDERSON: I do have that, and I don’t know that I’ve ever used it. But I know some of the folks who borrowed it have used it with their computer and things. My only guess is wireless is less expensive. You can’t charge for every little piece.
WADE WINGLER: It’s like razors and blades.
JOSH ANDERSON: Most definitely. As Belva said, USB C, why does it have that? I’ve noticed more and more cell phones are starting to have those. That will only be the norm and so the next thing comes along.
BELVA SMITH: Let’s face it, with a wired, it’s going to work. With wireless, it may or may not work.
BRIAN NORTON: I have a couple of comments, as I always do. First, I did you get it to work this morning?
WADE WINGLER: Yes. I did. Then they came back and said someone can unlock this laptop and you can use our laptop, and it was fine.
BRIAN NORTON: Second thing is, I think the challenge for wireless is if you buy your own technology and you want it to be wireless, you can totally make it wireless. But that’s only on your own stuff. When you go out to different places, we are all using different things. Some of it is older technology, of it is newer. Reasonably I can’t just assume that when I go someplace, we are going to be wireless. I’m going to have to have these cords and cables to be able to hook myself up wherever I go. Wade, you mentioned earlier you and I, we carry every cable. I do that because I want to be the person in the room who has a cable. I want to be the person who says look, when so-and-so gets here they don’t have something, I can pull it out of my bag and be the savior for the day, which makes me feel really good about myself. I think it’s hard to just assume or expect — what we want is a wireless world, but we all have different types of technologies and we have to get them to work together. Belva, you mentioned it’s going to work, wired technology works. That’s probably the best way to go if you can make that happen.
BELVA SMITH: I said to my consumers all the time who have a wireless computer and want to use it wirelessly, that’s fine, but let’s go ahead and hardwire it as well. Even in my own home, sometimes I can get to the wireless printer and sometimes I can’t.
BRIAN NORTON: Oh for the day when there aren’t any cords.
WADE WINGLER: Maybe someday.
BELVA SMITH: No cords, no paper. Right?
BRIAN NORTON: I don’t believe in that.
WADE WINGLER: Get off my lawn. Your music is too loud.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s a copyright. Excellent. That’s our show for the day. We are going to wrap it with that. I want to say thank you to the folks that are here in the room. Belva, it’s always good to have you back. You want to say something to our folks?
BELVA SMITH: Something. That was great. We will see you all in a couple of weeks.
BRIAN NORTON: Josh?
JOSH ANDERSON: Bye everybody. Can’t wait to see you again.
BRIAN NORTON: Wade?
WADE WINGLER: See you later crocodile.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent. One last thing, if you guys have questions — I mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again as we and the show. If you guys have questions or any type of feedback for the question we answer today, give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124. Or send us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. Or send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. We would love to hear from you. We definitely want your questions. In fact, without your questions and the folks here in the room, we wouldn’t have a show. Definitely be a part of it. Thanks so much. Have a great couple of weeks and we will talk to you guys later.