Panel – Brian Norton, Josh Anderson, Belva Smith, and Wade Wingler – Q1- Scanning pens Q2- Real-time GPS trackers Q3- Head worn Video Magnification Devices – Q4- Intellikeys alternatives Q5- Wildcard question: What would you have done differently when you were 15yrs old based on where you are now professionally
Transcript starts here…
WADE WINGLER: Welcome to ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions with your host Brian Norton, Director of Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads. This is a show in which we address your questions about assistive technology, the hardware, software, tools and gadgets that help people with disabilities lead more independent and fulfilling lives. Have a question you’d like answered on our show? Send a tweet with the hashtag #ATFAQ, call our listener line at 317-721-7124, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The world of assistive technology has questions, and we have answers. And now here’s your host, Brian Norton.
BRIAN NORTON: Hello and welcome to ATFAQ episode 83. My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of the show. We are so happy you tuned in this week. But before we jump in to the questions that we’ve got, I wanted to take a moment to go around the room and introduce the folks that are with me today. First off is Belva Smith. Belva is the vision team lead with our clinical assistive technology department here at Easter Seals Crossroads. You want to say hi to folks?
BELVA SMITH: Hey everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: We also have Josh Anderson, the manager of clinical assistive technology, also the new AT update producer. Josh, you want to say hi to folks?
JOSH ANDERSON: Hello everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: And we also have Wade Wingler who is —
JOSH ANDERSON: Just here.
WADE WINGLER: Now you want me to talk.
BRIAN NORTON: I’m not even sure what to call them anymore.
WADE WINGLER: Now you want me to talk. In the preshow, it was, be quite Wade so we can get started. Now you want me to talk. I’m being good. I’m being quiet.
BRIAN NORTON: Exactly. Wade is the VP here at Easter Seals Crossroads, also oversees everything that we do here in the AT department. Welcome. You want to say hey?
WADE WINGLER: Hey. Is that all the words I get for now?
BRIAN NORTON: That’s all you get or I’ll mute your microphone. I found out that I have master control over Wade’s voice over here. Excellent.
For new listeners, I want to take a moment to tell you about how our show works. We receive feedback and come across various assistive technology related questions throughout the week, and we put those together into a show and we set around here as a panel. Our panel is usually the same, but it will look a little bit different as we invite guest and at different times to talk about these questions and provide answers. We have a listener line, so if you would like to chime in with feedback or questions, we would love to hear from you. The listener line is 317-721-7124. Or we have an email address, tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. Or we have a twitter feed that is hashtag ATFAQ. We would love to hear from you in any of those ways. We collect that and put that together in our show.
If you have friends and want to tell them about our show, tell them how to find it, you can find us in a variety of different places. You can find us on iTunes. We do have a website set up, ATFAQshow.com. You can also find us on stitcher or the Google play store. Just a variety of different ways for folks to find is if you are interested in telling her friends and coworkers or whoever about the show. We would love to have them listen as well.
Without further ado, we’re going to jump in today. We had lots of feedback based on our last show. The first bit of feedback was about deleting default I was apps. We had a couple of folks chimed in about that. One was the Blind Educator. He sent us an email. He says, ever since iOS 11, one is able to delete the default apps. However, if they want to hide default apps, they are limited to certain default apps. We kind of had this consensus last time that that was a challenging proposition to be able to get some of those default apps often there.
BELVA SMITH: Was at the question about how to hide those?
BRIAN NORTON: It was about how to hide them.
BELVA SMITH: Because heading them is different than deleting them.
BRIAN NORTON: You can delete some of them, not all of them. You mentioned that if you do go into restrictions, you can hide some apps. Again, this is not something I’ve tried or done. You can also restrict apps — and I wanted to mention this because I thought it was interesting. You can restrict apps under projections as well from getting this book access to your photos apps and those kinds of things. I thought that might be interesting for listeners to know about as well. You can just go to settings, general, and able restrictions and locate different — keep different apps from accessing different parts of your phone or device. I thought that was an interesting thing as well.
Did you have something Belva?
BELVA SMITH: I think, more than likely, if you can — and I haven’t investigated whether or not you can delete those default apps — but if you can delete them, my guess is you’re going to be up to get them back at a later date if you want to buy just going to the App Store. You might even end up getting them back with an update. Because if they really want you to have the app when they do the update and realize you don’t have it, it might just throw it back on there.
BRIAN NORTON: We had another feedback just about deleting those apps. TJ Cortopassi, who is the person who does all of our transcription for the show —
WADE WINGLER: Hi, TJ.
BRIAN NORTON: — He give us an email as well. You mentioned that he’s actually working with the beta version of iOS 12, and he says that people can delete default apps and iOS 12. That’s kind of new information for me. You really just delete them in the same way usually other apps —
BELVA SMITH: It’ll just have the “X” on them.
BRIAN NORTON: Yeah, you just have a long press hold on it, an “X” will show up, and you go ahead and delete it from there. Maybe that’s a feature that is coming in iOS 12 so we will kind of hang onto our seats. I think they announced a new line-up of some different phones and devices a little bit ago, so hopefully that’s just around the corner.
BELVA SMITH: They should be coming sometime in September I’m thinking. I think there’s going to be three new phones.
BRIAN NORTON: I’m excited about that.
WADE WINGLER: A less expensive version. I thought they were going to get rid of the iPhone X, but I guess they are going to keep it for at least a little while longer and do a less expensive version as well.
BELVA SMITH: That’s my understanding.
BRIAN NORTON: We also had a couple of other bits of feedback from the blind educator. He had to other bits of feedback here. Referring to the use of the Braille sense U2 with narrator, he mentions that right now, braille displays can only be used with narrator via the USB connection, and that the Bluetooth is not supported at this time. He also mentioned that since Braille sense U2 is a full notetaker, folks may try to put it into the braille terminal mode. You can put your braille note taker into that terminal mode. And I think we talked about that a little bit during the last show as far as making sure that that setting is turned on.
BELVA SMITH: The question came in from someone who was trying to get the braille to work with the narrator and was having issues, correct?
BRIAN NORTON: Correct. They couldn’t get it to work with narrator.
BELVA SMITH: We found that it is still in —
BRIAN NORTON: Kind of beta mode. The other piece of feedback he provided was referring to the discussion we had on seeing AI and envision AI. He says he uses both apps and noticed that envision AI has a better OCR result than seeing AI.
BELVA SMITH: That it must really rock.
BRIAN NORTON: But he also notes that seeing AI seems to do a little bit better when it is recognizing money for him. Even though and envision AI is a paid for app, he uses both of them for different purposes. I thought that was interesting as well. Definitely some good feedback.
BELVA SMITH: I think that’s kind of common where you got more than one tool in your toolbox, because your results, especially with those AI apps, your results are going to be different based upon your surroundings, your environment, when you’re trying to use them. Having more than one option, I think, is becoming more and more popular.
BRIAN NORTON: Again, apps are one dollar, two dollars, $10. I know envision AI is a little bit more expensive because you are paying a monthly fee. You can afford to have multiple options out your disposal for the tasks you are doing.
One last bit of feedback is a voicemail that we got regarding voice output in 3-D models. I went ahead and responded to the individual, however, I wanted to play on the show because I didn’t have a good answer for it and I thought maybe folks who are listening may be able to chime in with some feedback on this. I’m going to play that for you. Let us know if you have feedback.
SPEAKER: Hey Wade, I don’t remember the show it’s on. I’m not sure if you did it or not. There is a company out there that makes models, not only tech, but with voice output. I was trying to get some of the information of the company from Edinburgh University which is self me here in Erie, Pennsylvania for the Edinburgh University space Museum. I’m making their models, their 3-D models, which are beautiful, even voice output for their globes and what have you. Can you help me find that company? I’m not sure if it was here in the States or Canada. I think it was in Canada. If you can do that, this is Ron Kolesar, K-O-L-E-S-A-R. I would appreciate the help.
BRIAN NORTON: 3-D modeling and voice output. Wade, you mentioned that you might have something on that?
WADE WINGLER: I’m racking my brain here, but I remember I did a new story on assistive technology update as I’m looking at the notes, it was back in April 2018, episode 359. The interview was with Madhura Mhatre who is an IUPUI grad student here. One of the news stories that I read earlier in that episode was about a startup in Spain called Neuro Digital Technologies. They were making touchable Museum exhibits, but they weren’t 3-D physical models. They were 3-D haptic models. I mentioned that some of the models they do is the head of Nefertiti, the Venus de Milo, and they also do David by Michelangelo. The idea is that these users who are blind or visually impaired are putting out haptic gloves. They are reaching into the air, but they are feeling the sculptures. And there was some more audio about that. It was an exhibit called Touching Masterpieces, and it was in the National Gallery of Prague. One of the collaborators was Barbara Harkova, H-A-R-K-O-V-A. again, the company was called Neuro Digital Technologies and the project was called Touching Masterpieces. We covered it in April of this year.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent. Cool. That may be the answer for that particular piece.
JOSH ANDERSON: The way I found that by the way was I went to EasterSealsTech.com and just search for Venus de Milo in our show notes. We had transcripts of all the shows that we do, so when I mentioned stuff like that and people ask, did that one story that one time — that’s how I find it. I find it through our transcripts which are on our website. They are there for accessibility, but this is one of those universal design principles where it works for everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent.
BELVA SMITH: Wade, I believe you also did an interview with a guy out of Bloomington —
WADE WINGLER: Ray Bloomer.
BELVA SMITH: They were kind of doing that for the parks, right?
WADE WINGLER: Ray Bloomer is at the national Center on accessibility. He is a good friend and one of the nation’s foremost experts in Museum and national Park accessibility. He talked about how, when they did the USS Arizona exhibit in Hawaii, and also the statue of liberty visitor center, they’ve done some pretty cool 3-D tactile modeling that does that as well. None of these seem to be consumer-based — I need, I want to feel my grandchild’s feet — sort of model thing. It’s not something you do at home. They are being made for museums and science projects and stuff like that. They are enterprise scale kinds of things, but those are the two places I looked for for that stuff.
BELVA SMITH: And then on a smaller scale, we’ve got that.
BRIAN NORTON: We’ve got some buttons in our lab, the audio buttons you can record a message on. If one of us is not here and someone was a tour of our lab, they can just go up to each workstation, press the red button, and provide some verbal information about what’s on the workstation, who this type of equipment might help, and how it works. It some brief information folks can take their own tools of our lab if they want to. The Big Mac buttons is what they’re called. We’ve got about eight or 10 of those scattered around our lab that folks can use as they want.
That are feedback for the day. Again, I want to give folks the opportunity. We are going to jump into questions here in just a minute. But if you guys have feedback can’t be listening to the questions, you guys have additional answers or and want to chime in on any of the question of the cover today, we would love to hear from you. But also if you have questions, listen to the type of question we have and it’s a great opportunity to send them our way. We will try to answer them as best we can. The ways you do that is you can give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124. You can send us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. Or you can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ and will be able to get of those things.
***[14:21] Question 1 – Scanning pens
BRIAN NORTON: Without further ado, we’re going to jump into the questions we have for this week. The first one came in an email. The question is, what is the latest and greatest in handheld pen scanners? The person mentioned that they are most familiar with Wizcom, but there seems to be several newer ones out there that they haven’t tried. The user works in a dental office and uses it to read insurance forms with lots of numbers with text to speech output. Any preferences or suggestions would be helpful.
What’s the latest and greatest in handheld pen scanners?
BELVA SMITH: I can remember when the very first one — I don’t know if it was the very first one, but I do remember when the first one I knew about came out. It was awful. Everyone was so excited about it, and yet it was awful. That has since changed tremendously. Actually visited — I’ve seen the one that you had added as possible solutions, but I went to a website that had the top 10 best panda scanners. The one I found is called Pen Scanner 9.7, and had really good reviews and was quite affordable. There are just endless possibilities for pen scanners nowadays.
BRIAN NORTON: Right. I think the old technology, you had to be — it was great in theory but was really hard to put into practice. One of the challenges with the older scanners, those pen scanners, is you had to be very steady and accurate as you moved across the page. You couldn’t go too fast, you could to wiggle or do those kinds of things or you just wouldn’t recognize all that well. I think the new technology when it comes to scanning has allowed that to be a little less — or more tolerable for those types of things for the speed at which you move and for any jitteriness you might have one scanning.
I know we went to ATIA back in January, early February, and they had a place called scanning pens. I believe they sold quite a few different kinds of scanning pens. They really touting the C-Pen. They’ve got a couple of different versions of this. It’s called the C-Pen Reader and the C-Pen Exam Reader. We actually got one for our loan library here at Easter Seals Crossroads. It does a pretty good job with being able to recognize things. It offers several different kinds of languages and can provide that verbal feedback you need. The C-Pen is one that might be able to work well with folks.
JOSH ANDERSON: I’ve used that one quite a few times. I think the only problem I would see – and this may be a problem with all of them — is reading numbers. OCR sometimes reads numbers very odd, even with phone numbers. It try to make it into eight million. Which can make it a little odd. I’ve used the C-Pen with a lot of consumers and it works very well.
BELVA SMITH: I think we were both pretty impressed with how well it worked when we saw it at ATIA. I want to say to this individual’s question, I really would recommend that they tried to get their hands on a couple of different ones. I think the biggest difference that you’re going to find is probably going to be the additional features that come along with these scanning pens now and what you can do with them rather than which one is going to do a better job with scanning. I think they all do, like you are just explaining, Brian, I think they all do a pretty good job of getting the information and getting it out there. But it depends, I think, the questions you might want to consider is are using it with Windows or are you using it with Mac. And if you have a local assistive technology act like we do here in Indiana, I would highly recommend reaching out to them.
Also, if you are in school, talk to disability services because that was one of the things that folks were really pushing or making people aware of. A lot of the universities and schools are using the C-Pen Exam Reader. They may be something you can get on loan while you are in school. I don’t remember if this person was in school. No, they’re at work, right?
BRIAN NORTON: They are. There at a dentist office.
JOSH ANDERSON: The other thing I would try out is other OCR devices. It could be that just an app or something that can scan and read might be helpful, or something to scan into the computer and have it read to you.
BRIAN NORTON: Seeing AI. We mentioned seeing AI in other shows as well. Any of those things might work well as well.
JOSH ANDERSON: It just depends. I can see with forms, sometimes you just want one form to read, enter it into the computer. So it depends on the need. Try out some different devices that may work better that can scan the whole page.
WADE WINGLER: I have to put on my downer HIPAA hat for a moment.
BELVA SMITH: I always thought about that.
WADE WINGLER: It says, we are working in a dental office. I needed to read insurance forms with lots of numbers, presumably protected health information. That makes me think, the C-Pen and Wizcom and those kinds of things were standalone devices that didn’t connect to the Internet that based their OCR on an internal dictionary. They weren’t reaching out to the cloud. The PHI would be on the device and tied to that device, which you could either erase or their away or whatever. It didn’t really store that did a long-term. All these OCR things are moving to apps which are on phones which may or may not be secure, probably not, and in the cloud which is certainly not secure. I can’t imagine the seeing AI or any of those cloud providers saying, sure, we will sign a business associate’s agreement so that when we handle your protected health information, we will guarantee its security and those things. My HIPAA security officer had makes be say there is sort of a thing to be reckoned with.
BELVA SMITH: It’s funny you brought that up because that is where I was going. More than likely, you’re going and whatever device you end up using to have an earphone jack so that you can keep that information quiet as you are getting it said back instead of letting others in the office here at around you.
JOSH ANDERSON: I know the C-Pen does, and I think the Wizom reader pen, I know those come with headphones I believe. Can we make a little noise for every time HIPAA downer over here —
BRIAN NORTON: I have two things. We are going to get Wade a Debbie downer name tag. That’s busily what he is.
WADE WINGLER: I’m going to put that on my name tag. VP of down.
BRIAN NORTON: I did want to go back to a Belva said earlier about barring those types of devices. If you are interested in finding your local AT act, if you go to EasterSealsTech.com/states, you’ll be able to find the listing for the local AT act in your state or territory. We are one of 56 projects, and most of them, if not all of them, have a loan library where you might be able to get your hands on something like that to be able to try out for a period of time just to see if it’s going to do what you wanted to do.
BELVA SMITH: I think that’s really important when you are making a decision about anything, especially when it is a decision about something you’re going to rely so heavily on. I know for me personally, I like to touch and feel something before I buy it. That’s why shopping online for me has become such a huge challenge. But I can tell you that many times when I sit down to do an evaluation with an individual — this just happened last week or so ago with a consumer. He started telling me what he wanted because it was something that he had heard about through one of our tech tip videos. He was just sure that that was the device that he wanted. But when he actually got his hands on it, he was like, I don’t know. It doesn’t feel. He got the opportunity to put his hands on two different devices and made his decision. Totally the opposite of what he thought he was going to make a decision based on. If you can really get the opportunity to try something, that always makes a more educated purchase.
BRIAN NORTON: And if you’re going to spend any amount of money on something, why not? If you can, that’s just something I would think a lot of folks would want to do. I did want to throw out two of the things that I had written down. People had mentioned Wizcom already. Wizcom has not only a reading pen but also an exam pen, just like C-Pen does. There is also another one called Scan Marker. I’m not sure if it is similar to what you had mentioned earlier, Belva. Scan Marker doesn’t do any internal scanning. It actually scans it to a computer, and then the computer can read it. Anything that can get it over to the computer would then allow you to be able to read the information.
Just a couple of different options. We talk about C-Pen Reader. We talked about Wizcom. We talked about Scan Marker. Belva, what was the one you mentioned?
BELVA SMITH: It’s called Pen Scanner 9.7.
BRIAN NORTON: Hopefully those are a few suggestions or information you might want to look up a little bit more about. Again, find out if you can get your hands on it or a local assistive technology act. That would be a great opportunity.
Don’t forget. If you have feedback, or maybe you guys is a handheld scanner pen, maybe you have some familiar with those types of technology and will be able to chime in, feel free to do that. You can do so through our listener line that is 317-721-7124. We would love to hear from you.
***[24:02] Question 2 – Real-time GPS trackers
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is through email from Miss Miller. We have a client wanting to increase her independence with bus riding in the community, regarding has safety concerns. Is there a location tracking app that you will recommend over others? This is is a question we’ve gotten several times which lends itself to the Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions. We finally have one. We have one on the hook this is something that a lot of people are interested in, allowing folks to be independent yet have some sort of oversight by other folks. There are many GPS location types of apps out there. One that we have in our loan library — and again something you may want to look at and see in person — is Trax Play. Trax Play is a rectangular type of device that can be attached to your belt. It also has something to attach it to your shoestrings. It allows real-time GPS tracking and location for folks. It will put it on a map on your iPhone or smart device. It costs around $139 and works fairly well. It is 3G, 4G type of technology that will allow real-time GPS tracking.
JOSH ANDERSON: I’m going to go with two free app that you can use. One of them is Glimpse, which is an app you can set up between the two users and you send them a glimpse. It will track them just straight from there GPS.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s a really useful app.
JOSH ANDERSON: It really is, especially with someone being on a bus because it is exactly where the bus is, where they are. And if they got off at the wrong stop, you would know. But also Waze. I use Waze a lot to get to places, traveling all over the state. You can sign your location to someone and it will sit there and track them and give their ETA. It will tell when they should be back see you know want to look at them. I believe it adjusts for public transit as well and can help you find the correct bus. I haven’t tried that so I wouldn’t really jump on their.
BRIAN NORTON: With those two apps, it is volitional on the person’s part to be able to say hey, I want to share my location with you. Maybe if intellectually and cognitively, they have the ability to say, when I get on the bus, I need to send a glimpse, I need to send something to my friend or my mom or somebody else to let them know where I’m going. Those are great apps.
JOSH ANDERSON: With anything we say, depends on the user’s needs, abilities, and things like that. Also good word, Brian.
BRIAN NORTON: What’s that?
WADE WINGLER: Volitional.
BRIAN NORTON: I use that a lot these days.
JOSH ANDERSON: I like that.
BELVA SMITH: I’m going to follow along with Josh and go with things that are just free. Of course, depending on the device that you are losing. With the iDevices, you have the family sharing which allows you to also —
BRIAN NORTON: Find my friends.
BELVA SMITH: Which allows you to track an individual location. Also, a feature that I personally have found to be helpful is that Uber — I know they said they were using a bus, but I consider Uber also public transit. They now have a feature that allows you to share your location, so as you are traveling along, you can have a family member or friend tracking what your location is, which I thought was kind of interesting or helpful. A
BRIAN NORTON: I use find my friends with my daughters and my wife. We are all connected. In fact, I think you are still on it from years ago.
WADE WINGLER: I am.
BRIAN NORTON: Are you?
WADE WINGLER: I am. I can look and see where is Brian. Why is he not in the studio editing this podcast?
BRIAN NORTON: It’s not instantaneous, not real-time GPS tracking. It does take a second free to cycle through and give you an updated location for somebody. But it’s great. I use it a lot just to figure out has my daughter made it home from school yet if I’m the home already.
WADE WINGLER: We use find my friends all the time. It’s super helpful. Although I have to tell you my 21-year-old is no longer my friend on the app. She has decided that it’s none of your business, dad, where I am. She’s moved out, a grown-up and stuff. She’s like, you just don’t need to know.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s hilarious.
WADE WINGLER: Another thing I’ll throw and said I’m being the HIPAA downer guy today —
BELVA SMITH: Oh no.
JOSH ANDERSON: Womp Womp.
BRIAN NORTON: Wait a minute guys. I have a mute button. I’m going to mute Wade for a second.
WADE WINGLER: Location information can be protected health information. I see we were talking about Angel Sense a little bit. That when I’m fighting to become super popular with children with autism or the parents of children with autism. It has an interesting feature that has part of a question I don’t know how to answer recently. It offers a listen in feature. The idea is if you are a parent and you have a child with autism, or any child, and you send them off to school or to their ABA Center for the day, it has the ability to allow the parent to say I wonder what is happening in the classroom right now. Hit a button and listen in to the audio in terms of what’s happening in the classroom. The question that came to me was, if you have six children with disabilities in a classroom, one or two of them are wearing those devices where their parents have the ability to listen in, they are going to hear stuff that is related to other children. What do you do about that? It really falls back in some cases on state wiretapping laws and whether or not you are allowed to record phone conversation and stuff like that. It gets a little bit tricky. I’ve spoken with the folks at Angel sense, and they do something to allow that to be turned on or off or to notify the school so that they are aware. I haven’t found a way to fully make that so that parents don’t have the ability to do that unless I’m misunderstanding the typical side of it. It’s kind of a new question in privacy. With all these trackable’s, what does that mean for broader privacy?
Another one I heard recently that’s not a disability scenario is in the military, we have bases all over the world. And military bases, you have people who are generally pretty athletic. They have to stay in shape and be fairly healthy. How do soldiers stay in shape when they are at a base? They go on runs. What we do on runs? We turn on our fitness trackers. That data is starting to be used in such a way that if you see at 5 o’clock in the morning 15 people all doing a two mile run where there shouldn’t be 15 people, others are starting to figure out based on fitness tracker data that there must be a military installation there because all of these people are starting to run the regular amount at a certain time of the day. They are starting to ban the use of fitness trackers for a lot of military personnel for that reason. Some of those unintended consequences of these wearables and personal devices that give us independence in a lot of ways but also create these privacy issues.
I swear I’m not a conspiracy theory can a person. I don’t enjoy those kinds of conversations so much. Those are some things that you have to think about and plan for.
BELVA SMITH: If you think about where cameras are nowadays, it’s really hard to go anywhere and not be on a camera somewhere.
JOSH ANDERSON: Every single person here has one facing them because Wade and Brian both have their MacBooks open and above and I have our phones open.
BRIAN NORTON: I have mine open because I take Sophie’s.
BELVA SMITH: And look, I’m “naked” today.
WADE WINGLER: This is audio. You can tell everyone you’re naked today.
BELVA SMITH: I left home without my watch.
JOSH ANDERSON: Oh, wow.
WADE WINGLER: You don’t have your Apple watch on.
JOSH ANDERSON: I was really wondering where that was going for a second.
BRIAN NORTON: I don’t go anywhere without —
BELVA SMITH: I was turning the corner to pull in and I went, oh my gosh, I don’t have my watch. I can turn around and go back 20 minutes to get it.
WADE WINGLER: If it were your phone, you would’ve.
BELVA SMITH: Absolutely.
WADE WINGLER: Isn’t that interesting? 20 years ago, you wouldn’t have turned around for your phone.
BELVA SMITH: I can’t believe — it’s very rare I get out of house without it. We met so are you upset because you aren’t going to get your fitness rings closed, or are you upset because of the notifications?
BELVA SMITH: Both.
WADE WINGLER: You need to close your rings. That’s what you are worried about. I get that. Me too.
BRIAN NORTON: We did a full day training here as part of the INDATA Project of the day, on Friday. Josh and I did a lot of the speaking that day.
WADE WINGLER: It was fabulous.
JOSH ANDERSON: Thank you.
BRIAN NORTON: Talking about the Internet of things, which a lot of these fitness trackers are a piece of that. At one point, we talk about these devices, there are more devices connected to the Internet than there are humans in the building — in the world. All these devices produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of information each day, every day. What fascinated me is if you take 2.5 quintillion pennies, you would cover the earth five times with the amount of data that’s being produced every day. It’s just that, we use it to make better decisions, to help ourselves with learning patterns and things like that, to be able to help inform our decisions. There is a whole lot.
I want to go back to Angel sense. Does it allow you to record what you hear, or is it just lie listening?
WADE WINGLER: I don’t remember. I think it is lives.
BRIAN NORTON: That would be another step in the other direction, if you are able to record what you hear.
WADE WINGLER: I think it might help you record so that the idea is if there is a sentinel event, if there is something that happens, you can rewind and listen to the audio. I don’t know. I need to look.
BRIAN NORTON: A couple of the ones out there out as well, Philip mobile app is available for Apple or Android. That’s something I’ve heard is a pretty good one. Pocket finder is out there. It’s $159. AT&T is the cellular carrier for that one.
BELVA SMITH: That means you have to have AT&T to use that one?
BRIAN NORTON: Yes. If you’re looking for these things, the way I find a lot of these great apps or devices when talking about wanting to track somebody, Elopement GPS trackers is what I look for, or GPS devices and apps for autism another popular search to be able to find some of those things. There are many devices that will do that. Again, Angel Sense, Trax Play, Find My Friends, are some of the ones we use here.
BELVA SMITH: This may be going totally down the left side, but that Trackr that I was using on my cane is an app on my phone. If I put my came down somewhere, I can open the app on my phone and say where is my cane. It tells me the exact location of my cane.
BRIAN NORTON: And address, right?
BELVA SMITH: It draws a map and says here is where your cane is located. If I had one of those devices on my jacket and somebody wanted to track me, what they not be able to do that as well?
BRIAN NORTON: Sure, why not?
WADE WINGLER: It’s a LoJack.
BELVA SMITH: That’s a really cheap solution as long as someone has a smart device. The individual then doesn’t have to do anything.
BRIAN NORTON: Do you know what you have connected to your cane?
BELVA SMITH: It’s a Tracker.
WADE WINGLER: T-R-A-C-K-R.
BRIAN NORTON: I know the tile tracker —
WADE WINGLER: It’s a competing thing for the Tile.
BELVA SMITH: It’s Tracr, T-R-A-C-R.
BRIAN NORTON: Those devices are, I think, a little different. I could be wrong and you can correct me if I am.
JOSH ANDERSON: We will.
BRIAN NORTON: Those particular trackers are connected to her phone. What it does is it records the last time that your phone and the GPS tracker work in medication with each other. It shows you the location of when they were last in communication with each other. If someone is in a GPS —
WADE WINGLER: Somebody steals your cane, you’re out of luck because it’s not new your phone and can’t tell. Your phone has to tell.
BRIAN NORTON: Or the other person’s phone has to have been in communication when they left, because the last time that phone was in medication was somebody else’s. Is it making sense?
WADE WINGLER: The Tracr can’t talk — your Tracr can only talk to the phone, and then the phone has to talk to the Internet to tell it where it is. So the phone and the tracker get separated, it’s only going to know where it was the last time it was connected your phone.
BELVA SMITH: But it also uses crowdsourcing as well.
BRIAN NORTON: It does.
WADE WINGLER: Somebody finds your cane, they can report it.
BRIAN NORTON: If somebody else has the app on their phone, it will pick up on the thing.
BELVA SMITH: This tells me that my cane was last located July 9 by a crowd located user at 8:13 AM at Walmart.
WADE WINGLER: The good news is you are not using your cane anymore.
BELVA SMITH: That’s right. But I can still track that baby.
BRIAN NORTON: If you guys have any experience with these GPS tracking devices, and information you would like to share on that, please do. We would love to hear from you. You can send us a note at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. We would love to hear about those.
***[37:10] Question 3 – Head worn Video Magnification Devices
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is I have low vision and I work at a laundromat which requires me to move around a lot throughout my day, so I’m looking for a headmounted CCTV that I can use around my workplace to see everything from clothing tags to the computer. Any suggestions?
BELVA SMITH: Yes. You need a job site evaluation. That’s my first suggestion.
BRIAN NORTON: Right.
BELVA SMITH: But if you want to try to do this on your own, I would highly recommend trying these things because no one is going to be able to tell you this is what you need to go and purchase. Some of these things are truly expensive. One of the famous head worn CCTV’s from the past was the Jordy. That device went away for probably five or six years. But it has made a comeback. It looks very different from what it did before but operates pretty much the same way. It is a head worn device. I’m sure if you can Google it, you can pull up teachers and information about it. This device is — if you just get the head worn device, it is $3700. It does have the option of coming with an XY. Holder so that it can then be your desktop CCTV. Then it is $4600. Very expensive. But the idea is you kind of look like a miner when you wear it.
BRIAN NORTON: It looks like a headlamp.
BELVA SMITH: It puts the camera in the center of your head, and you can do things like magnify, change contrast, and I think it also has the finder feature, so if you’re looking for something specific —
JOSH ANDERSON: It does. And it can connect to a computer as well.
BELVA SMITH: So it has a lot of features. It will also magnify up to 30 times. If you look up the features, they will say that it is very lightweight. I totally disagree with that because we recently had a vendor in that brought one in for us to explore. I thought it was kind of heavy and comfortable. Again, I don’t think it is a device you would want to put on when you clock in and take off when you clock out. I think it is the device you want to have handy.
I also want to mention for this particular user, this is going ahead from the head worn — and I know there are others you guys are going to want to talk about as well. Aira is a subscription service you can subscribe and download the app to your smart phone and then you can also get a free starter kit. What this is, is it connects the user to a sighted person who can give you information. For example, if you were trying to find a particular office in an office building, you would connect is your life person and say I’m at Easter Seals Crossroads, I’m trying to find the assistive technology lab. Could you help direct me where I can find that. The sighted person has access to a visual map and can see what you are seeing in real-time to give you those directions. People are using this more and more at work to get access to the different things they need. As far as cost goes with that, it changes all the time.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s a subscription, right?
BELVA SMITH: It’s a subscription and I don’t even want to try to quote. I do know they have recently come down and cost and have added different plans. It’s basically a monthly service plan that you are paying for. I think to use the app is free, but to use the live assistant, it counts as a minute or data or whatever. What I would recommend is it that is something you would be interested in checking out — and I would highly recommend checking out — if you go to A-I-R-A dot I-O, Aira.io, that’s their website where you can get more information. Or if you just want to give them a call, the numbers 800-835-1934. I thought that would be worth mentioning, even though it is not necessarily a head worn magnifying device. When you get the kit, it is just a pair of glasses with the camera that you are going to wear. I guess it is still head worn.
BRIAN NORTON: I think so.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s still wearable technology.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s really popular.
BELVA SMITH: It’s getting really popular, especially for folks at work. I think they have — I don’t even want to try to misspeak this — but I think they have something special going on for people who are using it for work. Definitely worth looking into.
BRIAN NORTON: I think with that type of technology, not only are you getting assistance with reading tags, but they can tell you the colors, which would be helpful in a laundromat.
JOSH ANDERSON: In anything. They can give you any information you would possibly need.
BELVA SMITH: I had a client wants that worked in a laundromat. She had to be able to read the digital screens. These big commercial washers and dryers now all have computers and digital screens. They aren’t large, so we are talking a four inch screen. She had to be able to get the information. We had a hard time finding the appropriate magnifying device that would allow her to do that. The Aira service would allow the access with no problem.
JOSH ANDERSON: I’m assuming the magnification is one of the main things needed here because they did say the CCTV. There is anyone called Iris vision. It’s a Samsung galaxy 7 phone connected to Samsung we are here. You just where the whole thing. It runs about $2500. It does something different with the magnification. It brings up a bubble, which is trippy and weird.
BRIAN NORTON: A little psychedelic.
JOSH ANDERSON: It really is. That you just bring up the one feature you really need. Some things that are good about it is it just a [Virtual Reality] headset, so it looks a little bit more mainstream. More people may be used to it. I have to reiterate what Belva said about you have to try these things out. Depending on what your visual disability is, some of these may work great, some of them might not work at all. With the cost of them, you sure as heck don’t want to buy the wrong one and be stuck with it. There are other ones I go all the way up to $10,000.
BELVA SMITH: That would be the ESight, right?
JOSH ANDERSON: Yeah.
BRIAN NORTON: With that, like Belva mentioned earlier in the show, having an evaluation is going to be really important. Josh and Belva are both part of our clinical assistive technology team. That’s what they do day in and day out. They are meeting with folks one on one. They had a funding source, typically vocational rehab. I’m not sure if this person is a Voc Rehab client. Whether it is here in Indiana or other places, a lot of times voc rehab will pay for evaluation so that folks can get not only their hands on some of the equipment but also someone who is knowledgeable and has some level of expertise with the different types of equipment that is out there. They can help them make some informed decisions about what kind of equipment is going to work best. We do that here in Indiana through our clinical department. Depending on where you are at, all states have [Vocational Rehabilitation] and might be able to provide some assistance at the workplace as well.
BELVA SMITH: I think all states have a lending library such as we do, don’t they?
BRIAN NORTON: Yes.
BELVA SMITH: Because of the expense of some of these devices, you may find that they simply don’t have the particular — for example, the Aira. We don’t have that in our lending library because it requires the monthly subscription. Of course, we can’t do anything like that. Also, in our state — and I don’t know other states may be different. Our vocational rehabilitation also will not purchase this device for an individual because, again, of the monthly subscription that is required. But the good news is the equipment is free. You pay nothing for the equipment and can actually download on a smart phone the app and begin using the device. And then they will ship you the hardware that’s required to use it you just have to sign up for the service.
BRIAN NORTON: Absolutely. I just want to recap for folks. We talk a little bit about Jordy. We talk about Iris Vision. We talked about Aira. A couple of other things that are out there: New Eyes is one, ESight you probably hear a lot of different commercials on that. That might be something to look at. Revo sight is kind of a new one that I haven’t had a lot of experience with, but it goes in that vein of a wearable headgear that has some magnification available to you.
Also, in and around that laundromat in may be worth taking a look at the apps we mentioned before, seeing AI or envision AI for certain things, looking at tags on laundry or other things. If they are legible can it might do a good job of being able to decipher some of the information.
Lots of different tools out there. Back in the day, it used to be just the Jordy. That was the only thing out there. These days, we have wearable VR gear that people are tapping into but obviously the technology has gone a lot less-expensive, and the size has changed quite a bit where they are able to put small, high definition screens in front of people on had worn gear to be able to help them see things. We are seeing a lot more in that particular market of had worn video magnifying technology.
BELVA SMITH: I want to say that the eSight has dropped dramatically in price from when it was first made available.
BRIAN NORTON: I think when they first stopped here, it was $16,000. They went down to 10. Is it less than that?
BELVA SMITH: I believe it is less than $10,000 currently. I also want to say that as far as being comfortable to wear, I will have to say of the ones I have had on and try it, the eSight is the most countable, aside from Aira of course. As far as they had worn my navigation device, the eSight is very comfortable. It’s like wearing a really cool pair of sunglasses. May be a little bit thicker. It is not heavy or comfortable. The of the good part of the eSight is when you become a user of this device, you really join a community of users. By doing that, you have support from other individuals that are using this device for a lifetime. As long as you are a user of the device, you can count on those folks to be there to train and support you.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent. If you guys have any experience with head-worn video magnifying devices like the ones we’ve been talking about, we would love to hear from you. Any feedback that you might be able to offer or any other questions you have related to video magnification devices, we would love to hear those as well. You can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ or give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124.
***[48:24] Question 4 – Intellikeys alternatives
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is, I have used and Intellikeys keyboard for several years now but recently it has stopped working. Since it is no longer available, I’m looking for a large key keyboard to replace it with. Any suggestions?
JOSH ANDERSON: Fix it.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s really a problem. I will say, the Intellikeys USB keyboard was my favorite keyboard of all time and did a lot for individuals. It had large key regions so if you had spasticity or tremors, you could negate some of the issues you have using the keyboard. It also allowed you to put certain overlays that included a mouse and keyboard in front of an individual so that it was all on one overlay. You didn’t have to have two separate devices which took a larger range of motions to be able to activate. You could create custom overlays as well based on the applications you are using. So if a user was using a weird third-party application, you could really do something to be able to help them get better access, more efficient access and be more proficient with it.
Talking about what to do not that it has stopped working, there aren’t really any equivalents anymore. Because of the type of technology that was used in the Intellikeys keyboard where you weren’t physically pressing a button down to be able to activate a keystroke, there aren’t a lot of equivalents that I’ve seen come up. There are a big keys keyboards available, which kind of could do the trick for you if you are looking for something like that. A couple of options I’ve seen, the vision board or the Big Blue vision board which is just a Bluetooth version of the vision board would be an option. There is a big keys LX keyboard that is out there. Really, I was so sad to see them discontinue that USB Intellikeys keyboard because it really did offer some different types of access for individuals.
You can still find them around on eBay and other places, but they discontinued those and aren’t readily available.
WADE WINGLER: And they don’t work with Windows 10, right?
BRIAN NORTON: I don’t think they do.
WADE WINGLER: Even if you could find them, you can’t get software.
BELVA SMITH: And they are totally different. If you look at them, they are all tactile keys.
JOSH ANDERSON: All the new ones?
BELVA SMITH: All the new ones.
BRIAN NORTON: Where the Intellikeys was a touchpad.
BELVA SMITH: Exactly. That could make all the difference in the user being able to use it. The customization is gone as well as the flat surface so to speak.
JOSH ANDERSON: I think also key guards might be an important thing, depending on what the person’s needs are. If they would need a key guard so they are not pressing to me about that once or anything like that, you can use those. I don’t know. I would try out some different things but there is nothing that really replaces.
BELVA SMITH: There is. Tablets are the reason the Intellikeys isn’t relevant anymore. If you think about it, the Intellikeys was a touchscreen and it was physical, but all they did was map a whole bunch of keys over a touch interface that felt different. I’m just thinking out of the box. Why did Intellikeys die? Because he could do a tablet with a touchscreen and get that direct feedback right on the screen without that disconnect between my hands are down near the desk and I’m looking at a computer screen on the wall. What would it look like if you got a cheap tablet and mapped a keyboard onto it in the way the Intellikeys did and then use that tablet as a USB keyboard into your computer if you need to be on a computer? I’m just thinking, that’s why it went away, right? Because tablets are everywhere. You don’t need that sort of physical separate interface anymore.
BRIAN NORTON: I think it uses the same type of — it’s the same preface as the Intellikeys keyboard. I think the Intellikeys keyboard, much bigger than tablet, larger key regions, allowed you to do things like the ability to tell the keyboard how long a button needs to be pressed before it would actually put a letter in.
WADE WINGLER: You can do all that with the tablet. We need to make an Intellikeys app that works on Android and iPad.
BRIAN NORTON: I don’t think you can do that with the tablet.
BELVA SMITH: I don’t know that you can. Number one, you can’t USB the tablet into a computer.
WADE WINGLER: You can Bluetooth it. No big deal.
BELVA SMITH: And you have your Bluetooth and delay.
BRIAN NORTON: It would be the same thing as the delay between the other one and then your overlays could be different things you can open.
BELVA SMITH: The site is going to matter in this case, because I think of individual that I was working with years ago that was using this device. I don’t think it tablet would, in any way, replace his keyboard.
BRIAN NORTON: You need bigger key regions. The bigger key regions was a big deal.
WADE WINGLER: You can get some pretty big galaxy tablets.
BELVA SMITH: Being able to wipe it off as needed was important.
WADE WINGLER: You mean for drooling? You can do that with tablets. They are pretty resilient. I’m just looking at that from a business case. Why would Intellikeys or AbleNet stop making it? Because it’s expensive.
BELVA SMITH: Here’s what my thinking is. When Jordy went away, the people who rely on the Jordy was devastated. It went away because of a four dollar piece that they had to have made that the company who was making it for them went out of business, and they cannot find anyone else that could make it. Many years later, here comes back new and improved. That’s what I expect is going to happen with the Intellikeys keyboard. I believe it will come back new and approved, but who knows how long that’s going to take.
WADE WINGLER: It might. Multiple injectable plastics are expensive. All of those pieces that make the physical Intellikeys are expensive. You have to have I’m to make the cost happen. I’m looking at the tablet as a replacement.
JOSH ANDERSON: With cheap tablet and 3-D printing, I feel like you could build the case for it, make a stand for it, and every thing else.
BRIAN NORTON: Wade and I are going to arm wrestle with their tablet and Intellikeys are comparable.
JOSH ANDERSON: Do it.
WADE WINGLER: Okay. Good. I have really long thumbs.
BRIAN NORTON: We could have a thumb war.
WADE WINGLER: I would love to hear from the audience what you think about that. That’s an interesting philosophical argument.
BRIAN NORTON: I miss it. I’m an old softy for the Intellikeys USB keyboard. I love it.
WADE WINGLER: You miss your speak and spell.
JOSH ANDERSON: You are just an old softy.
BELVA SMITH: I have to say, having that mouse feature included was really important.
BRIAN NORTON: Take one device instead of two devices.
WADE WINGLER: Do that with the tablet. You can map a tablet to do anything.
BRIAN NORTON: You can map it tablet, but in and the user isn’t going to know how to map a tablet.
WADE WINGLER: But you make an app. That’s why you make an Intellikeys app or something like that, especially if you’re doing it on Android which is open source where you can just say, okay, draw squares, build them however you want. Intellikeys did that. It had all those mapping tools that allowed you to create your own keyboard. You just have some presets.
BRIAN NORTON: Unless you are an app designer, no one has done that.
WADE WINGLER: You make your app with presets. You have some common overlays, which is what Intellikeys did. It came with about a dozen common overlays. Most people use of those. You can do all that with the tablet.
BRIAN NORTON: Unfortunately at this point, no one has made an app. For this individual, this person who needs one right now, they can’t do that. In five years, when they come out with an app that does that, you might be able to —
BELVA SMITH: If I’m not mistaken, the reason that the Intellikeys went away was because of a driver issue, right?
WADE WINGLER: Probably.
BELVA SMITH: They can get a driver to work.
JOSH ANDERSON: Windows 10 or Windows 7?
BELVA SMITH: Windows 8.
JOSH ANDERSON: Nobody used Windows 8.
BRIAN NORTON: I would take Wade’s suggestion. If folks have any information on apps or tablets or feedback on this particular question, we would love to hear from you. We may be at an impasse with our conversation about tablets and things like that. It’s an interesting discussion because for a lot of people, that Intellikeys keyboard did do a lot for them. However, it to go away and it’s not being made anymore. We do have a lot of folks were struggling, trying to find, what do I do when it goes out?
WADE WINGLER: You see an impasse. I see a business opportunity. I think there is somebody in our audience right now whose lightbulb could just go on and say I’m going to build an app that does all that.
BELVA SMITH: We hope so.
BRIAN NORTON: I would love that.
WADE WINGLER: I want a royalty.
JOSH ANDERSON: Can people place bets on your arm wrestling match? Can we take those calls?
BRIAN NORTON: Thumb wrestling.
JOSH ANDERSON: Whatever.
BRIAN NORTON: What’s that? I declare a thumb war?
WADE WINGLER: 1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a thumb war.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent.
***[56:47] Question 5 – 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 comes in and throws us a question that we are not prepared for. What have you got for us?
WADE WINGLER: You actually are prepared for today’s question. You might be because there is no wrong answer.
JOSH ANDERSON: About time.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s never been true for me.
JOSH ANDERSON: Somehow Brian is a going to get it wrong.
BRIAN NORTON: I got it wrong again.
WADE WINGLER: This is a bit more of a hypothetical question, a little less technical. I want each of you guys here to just stop and think about the 15-year-old version of you. Take just a minute and go back into your memory and think about where you were and what you might be doing on a Tuesday morning — we are recording on a Tuesday morning today – 15 years ago. What you thought your life was going to be like and what was important and what you wanted to be when you were an adult and grown up. If that 15 — not 15 today, 15 whenever your 15 in the seventies or eighties or for Brian, it was the 40’s.
BELVA SMITH: Not 15 years ago, but age 15.
WADE WINGLER: When you are 15 years old, at whatever point in history that was, if you had gone the idea that you wanted to change the world for people with disabilities by using technology, what would you have done differently to end up in the kind of position that you are now? Would you have done things a funny with your school, with your job, with geography, with your life decisions, with the kinds of people you spent time with? If at 15 you got the idea, I know something about people with disabilities, I really am interested in technology, what would you have done differently in your past to get to where you are today?
BRIAN NORTON: That’s a really hard question because technology was really different when I was 15.
BELVA SMITH: What was technology when I was 15?
BRIAN NORTON: The one piece of technology I remember when I was 15, I worked at my church. We had a program called God Made Me. It was for folks with development of disabilities. One of our participants had a liberator, which is an old augmentative litigation device. That was the only piece of technology I had ever saw anybody use at that point. Computers, Internet, it would’ve been, for me, 1989. The Internet was in the Internet we know today.
WADE WINGLER: How to get into the patient you are now, and what would you have done differently if you would’ve realized early on that you wanted to do this?
BRIAN NORTON: I would’ve just done more of what I did. I would’ve been doing a whole lot more of the programs at my church and other kinds of things, getting run folks with disabilities. That really set me up on my career, was back when I was 15 I started doing that. A hard day, working at my dad’s company in the warehouse, concrete floors, steel toed shoes, I was tired and grumpy. But every time I would go to that group, I had such a fun time. I just knew this is something I wanted to do long-term. I would find more opportunities to be with people, to do things with people, social activities.
WADE WINGLER: Funny you didn’t say more technology stuff.
BRIAN NORTON: No. Just hanging out. I just think even today, with the technology piece I do, it’s more about being with the people, less about the technology. The technology is getting them to do something they want to do, but I just want to be — they are more interested in, I think a lot of times, the relationship they develop with me as the technology provider than necessarily more so the technology and what you can do for them. I think a lot of times that’s the situation.
JOSH ANDERSON: I had to do with Brian on that. It’s more the problem-solving as much as the technology. Whenever I think back to 15, which I was just a little after Brian, we had a computer lab but it was the first year for them. There was not much more than a gigantic word processor. What would I have done differently? I probably would’ve studied a few different things in college. Maybe went right after high school. I met of spent some things up. I think back then there weren’t cell phones at all, so I didn’t even know that piece of technology was going to be available. There may have been the bricks —
WADE WINGLER: The bag phones?
JOSH ANDERSON: Yeah, the bag phones. Those big a giant the brakes. A
BRIAN NORTON: I had a friend with a bag phone.
JOSH ANDERSON: Those words that accessible. I guess it made where you could make phone calls from the car, but that was about it. I don’t know. It would be really cool to have study some sort of mobile technology back then. I don’t even know if that was offered, but just to be in on the ground floor of those things so that accessibility could be built in, which it is. But maybe from the very beginning that they were thinking about that kind of stuff. I to thank God there weren’t camera phones when I was 15. Or YouTube or anything like that.
BELVA SMITH: When I was 15, I thought I was going to be an auto mechanic. That was my goal.
WADE WINGLER: Was that before or after you were a racecar driver?
BELVA SMITH: That was before. To be a driver, you really do have to be a mechanic.
BRIAN NORTON: I would’ve loved to be in the stands one time when you’re doing figure 8 racing.
BELVA SMITH: That was where my head was that, was I was going to be a mechanic. I’m so glad that didn’t happen. I can’t imagine myself dirty and greasy all day. And then there weren’t computers on cars. It would be totally different. It is totally different. Whenever I look under the hood of a car nowadays, I’m like what’s that? Because nothing looks like it did back in the day. As I am aware of when I was 15, there were absolutely no computers, no cell phones. We still had folks that were using party lines. Some folks, a lot of folks didn’t even have phones.
JOSH ANDERSON: A lot of people just googled party lines and got something totally different.
BELVA SMITH: I totally stumbled into this job just by having friends that were visually impaired. But if I would’ve known at 15 that this was what I was going to be doing, I don’t know. I wouldn’t have believed it because there is a lot of people skills that have to going to this job that I really didn’t realize I had. Sometimes I don’t know if I do. Apparently I do.
WADE WINGLER: You do.
BRIAN NORTON: We are so glad you fell into that job, into our laps for sure.
BELVA SMITH: I’ve always been one that likes to troubleshoot and problem solve. I think that’s a very important element in doing this job. In fact, just last week I was with a consumer who had a little bit of a burp going on in his computer, and I was trying to figure it out and so close and it wasn’t — he was like, you know what, I can just live with it like that. I was like, no, no. Just give me two more minutes. Two more minutes and I will get this figured out. I did finally get it figured out. That’s part of the job that I really truly enjoy. I don’t think that’s something you get through school or education. I think that something that is a core part of you that you either have or don’t have. And practice develops it.
BRIAN NORTON: We do that a lot with the folks we hire here. We have found that in the assistive technology world, we can teach people assistive technology. You can teach people the technology components that make up the job we do. But you can’t teach people, people skills. They either have it or they don’t. To get people who have disabilities to talk with you, to depend on you, and to really relate with you —
BELVA SMITH: Trust you.
BRIAN NORTON: Yeah, trust you. You have to be able to communicate well with them and be someone that they want to hang out with.
BELVA SMITH: I really didn’t even start using a computer at all until my thirties. It’s funny that you said I don’t think there were cell phones. I know there were no cell phones.
BRIAN NORTON: I have two members on that. I got dragged kicking and screaming into this job. Wade and I talk about the story quite often. Wade basically had to convince me to take this job from the employment — I was working in the employment division here at Easter Seals Crossroads. I said, Wade, I need to know first off how long is your learning curve, because I don’t even know where a keyboard or mouse plugs into the computer.
BELVA SMITH: Isn’t that funny?
BRIAN NORTON: Had never done that before. That was 21 years ago. Now I think I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out that stuff.
WADE WINGLER: I also think it’s really important that you can always remember what it was like to not know that. We work with people that are there. They never touched a computer. They have no clue.
BRIAN NORTON: How do I turn on my modem?
BELVA SMITH: If we forget what it was like to be that green, then it’s hard to relate and hard to move them forward.
BRIAN NORTON: Good question. That is our show for today. If you guys would love to be a part of the show, we would love to have that happen. We love your feedback and questions. The way that you can send us those would be our listener line, 317-721-7124. You can send us an email at tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. Or a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. We certainly want your questions. In fact, without your questions, we really don’t have a show. So be part of it. Thanks everybody.
I want to give folks in the room the opportunity to say goodbye as well. Belva, you want to say goodbye?
BELVA SMITH: Did by everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: Josh?
JOSH ANDERSON: Talk to you next time.
BRIAN NORTON: And Wade?
WADE WINGLER: See you later alligator.
BRIAN NORTON: Take care guys. Have a great week.
WADE WINGLER: Information provided on Assistive Technology FAQ 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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