ATFAQ090 – Q1- Using Google Home to answer phone, Q2 – Talking scales, Q3 – smart switch for muting TV and activating Dragon, Q4 – Accessible Event planning what should I consider, Q5 – Moving from Office 2016 to O365 where did all my controls go, Q6 – App Showdown – Kurzweil 300 and ClaroPDF app, Q7 – Wildcard question: What would type of tech would you buy if you were given $10k this holiday season.


Panel – Brian Norton, Belva Smith, and Wade Wingler – Q1- Using Google Home to answer phone, Q2 – Talking scales, Q3 – smart switch for muting TV and activating Dragon, Q4 – Accessible Event planning what should I consider, Q5 – Moving from Office 2016 to O365 where did all my controls go, Q6 – App Showdown – Kurzweil 300 and ClaroPDF app, Q7 – Wildcard question: What would type of tech would you buy if you were given $10k this holiday season.

————————– 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 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 90.  My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of the show.  We are so happy that you tuned in with us this week.  We have a great lineup of assistive technology questions for you today, but before we jump into the questions, I want to take a moment to go around the room and introduce the folks who are going to be sitting here with me today.  First is Belva, our vision team lead with our clinical team here at Easter Seals Crossroads.  Belva, you want to say hey?

BELVA SMITH:  Hey.  Usually you say, do you want to say hey?

BRIAN NORTON:  Do you want to say hey?


BRIAN NORTON:  Awesome.  It may be a long show, guys.  Hang onto your seats.  Josh is here with us, the manager of our clinical assistive technology program.  So glad that he’s here.  You want to say hey to folks?

JOSH ANDERSON:  Hey everybody.


WADE WINGLER:  Merry Christmas, Brian.

BRIAN NORTON:  Christmas, yes.

WADE WINGLER:  The show should release on Christmas Eve, right?

BRIAN NORTON:  It should.  If I get it edited and posted by then.  Wade is our VP here at Easter Seals Crossroads.  We are so glad that he’s here with us.  This is probably his last official, a regular show, so we all a little bit teary-eyed and have been trying for days.

WADE WINGLER:  You probably just lost your audience.

JOSH ANDERSON:  Or gained anew!

WADE WINGLER:  The twitter fest is going to begin.  He’s gone!

JOSH ANDERSON:  And you are leaving to climb Mount Everest, right?

WADE WINGLER:  Pretty much. No. My job is changing and continues to change.  It’s all good stuff but it means that I don’t have time to be in the studio with you guys like I used to.  I hope to pop by and say hi from every once in a while.  It’s been a wonderful and amazing journey with all the different shows that we do, but this is me signing off at least for the foreseeable future.  It’s been great.

BRIAN NORTON:  This is episode 90.  We been doing this for almost 4 years.  In February, we will have hit for years.

WADE WINGLER:  AT Update is coming up on episode 400 sometime in the next few weeks.  Josh is doing a great job with that.

BRIAN NORTON:  We’ll expect some great answers today from you, Wade.

WADE WINGLER:  I’ve got one foot out the door.

JOSH ANDERSON:  All Wade, all day.

WADE WINGLER:  You did just lose your audience.  The one perfect.  For those who are new listeners to our show, I want to talk a little bit about our show, how it works.  Throughout the week, we receive feedback and come across various assistive technology related questions and we put those all together and put a show together.  We sit around here in a panel and try to answer those questions as best we can, but we also love to solicit your feedback and ask you guys to send us your questions if you do have questions, where feedback, to any of the things we try to answer, maybe try to fill in the gaps that we might leave in our answers.  I would love to hear from you.  We have a couple of ways for you to chime in and participate.  We have a listener line that is 317-721-7124.  We also have an email address that is  Or you can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ.  We will be keeping our eyes off of that over the next few weeks and will look forward to hearing from you.

If you guys want to spread the word about our show, you can also find us in a lot of different places.  You can tell folks to look us up on iTunes.  You can go to our website, that is  You can find us on stitcher, the Google play store, lots of places, basically wherever you can find podcast we are probably there.  Just type in the word assistive technology in the search terms and it should return some of our results.  Let your friends and folks know about that.



[4:39] Listener Feedback – Using Alexa with speech difficulties


The first thing we want to do today is jump into some of the feedback.  We have two instances of feedback today.  The first one is from a Wayne.  Wayne had sent me an email. A couple of weeks ago, we had talked about a wireless button that could activate the Google home – I think we were actually speaking specifically about Amazon Echo devices because they had a person who didn’t have great speech and were having difficult activating.  He was looking for a wireless button that would just turn it on so it would listen.  We weren’t able to come up with a whole lot to it.  A couple of the things that he brought up in his email, one was to be able to record something, whether it’s on your computer or a recorder.

BELVA SMITH:  We did say that.

BRIAN NORTON:  We kind of talked about that as well.  He had actually sent me a .WAV file, or a recorder file, that he had made on one of those devices just with the word “Alexa.” It would open it up and whatever committee wanted to get it.  That’s certainly something you can do to help automate Alexa.

There are also several of the things he mentioned as well, maybe some icons on the home screen, producing a list option or a shortcut itself.  To some of the things.  I think the biggest piece of that was being able to create a .WAV file or some sort of audiophile to be able to then have Alexa listen to a recorded voice for that.  Thank you, Wayne, for chiming in on that.  I.

That good feedback.  Of course we love when we get feedback and appreciate you chiming in with us with that.



[6:19] Listener Feedback



BRIAN NORTON:  Our next little bit was through a phone message.  I’m going to play this.

SPEAKER:  Hi, love your show, love ATFAQ. I’m from Denver Colorado and just wanted to let you know about show number 89 about Be My Eyes.  It was mentioned that you may not want to call at 3 o’clock in the morning, but actually you can, because they have helpers from all over the world that help you.  They link you up to people that talk her language, which works out very well.  Also, it’s nice because they send you emails about tips and tricks and new things that are going on with be my eyes.  I just wanted to mention that.  You guys do a great job.  I love ATFAQ.  Have a good one.

BRIAN NORTON:  Thank you so much for the feedback, really appreciate that.

WADE WINGLER:  Awesome feedback.

BELVA SMITH:  She makes a very good point.  It’s different times in different places, so it may be 3 AM where you are, but 7 AM —

WADE WINGLER:  5 o’clock somewhere.

BRIAN NORTON:  She also mentioned you may have someone who is in your country or knows the language that you are speaking, so of course if you are doing it from one of the European countries or wherever in the world, you might want to in your own language.  If they have a worldwide network of folks, you’re going to get better feedback that way.

BELVA SMITH:  I’ll give some feedback on the question because I had one of my consumers say to me that she has actually used it because she had misplaced a specific bill that she needed to get paid, and she was looking and couldn’t find it and nobody cited was around.  She picked that up, and the person who answered her, helped her locate the bill.  She said, you let people to believe that maybe it wasn’t intended to be used as a location device.  She says, but I think it is because it helped me locate the bill that I had misplaced.  I was like, okay, good point.

WADE WINGLER:  If they could help me find my car keys.


WADE WINGLER:  That’s a different —

BELVA SMITH:  A different product.  You need that Tile.

BRIAN NORTON:  We will be tackling that question in our next show.  Excellent.  Thank you again for you guys who chimed in this week with some feedback.  Ways to do that, we have a listener line that’s 317-721-7124.  Or send us an email at  We love to hear from you, especially as we dig into the questions today to help us fill in any of the gaps that we might leave. Without further ado, we’re going to jump in.



[9:11] Question 1- Using Google Home to answer phone



BRIAN NORTON:  So our first question of the day is, I have a patient who wants to use his Google home to answer his smart phone – he has an Android.  Does anyone know if this is possible? Is there a way to use IFTTT, which is if this than that? I don’t think Google home is made to do that.

WADE WINGLER:  I don’t think so.

BRIAN NORTON:  You can make calls.

JOSH ANDERSON:  You can make calls and import your contacts from an Android phone.  My question would be, since you can make the calls through the device, couldn’t you just use it? Unless they are wanting to actually answer their physical phone —

BELVA SMITH:  I’m under the impression that they want to physically be able to answer the incoming calls.  I think they — and you can’t even — you can’t get an incoming call from your Google home, right? You can only place a call? That’s my understanding, is that it will only do outgoing calls.

BRIAN NORTON:  Probably.  What happens? I know the Amazon Echo devices, they can call device to device.

BELVA SMITH:  Correct.

BRIAN NORTON:  Does Google home do that?

BELVA SMITH:  Does Google home called device to device?

JOSH ANDERSON:  I don’t know.  I’m not sure.

BELVA SMITH:  I think, no. It will only call a number.  It doesn’t have to be in your contacts, but you have to be able to give it a physical number to dial.


JOSH ANDERSON:  Or a business.

BELVA SMITH:  That’s what I’m saying.  If you want to call Walmart, you can say, call Walmart and it will say I found a Walmart four miles away.  Is that the one you want to call? And you can say yes.  But you can’t say, call Wade if Wade isn’t in your contacts because it will come back and say I don’t see Wade in your contacts.

BRIAN NORTON:  Interesting.

BELVA SMITH:  But what I did find in looking into this is on the Android phones, there is supposed to be a shake to answer app that you can get.  It will receive calls as well as disconnect calls.  Currently with most Android phones, to answer it, you have to kind of slide up on.  I’m not sure if it is up down or left or right.  But you have to slide a button on the screen to answer the call.  But with this shake call — with that, you can just shake the phone and it will answer the phone and end the call.

BRIAN NORTON:  Interesting.  I need that when I’m frustrated so I can just [grunts] It’s that person again! I’m kidding.  Interesting.

BELVA SMITH:  It’s free, in the play store.

BRIAN NORTON:  Shake to answer?

WADE WINGLER:  Shake call, all one word.

BRIAN NORTON:  The other thing people can look into as well, I think also and Android phones, is you have something called voice access.  I want to say on Android 5 or newer, that became something.  If you don’t have it on your phone, or maybe you have a newer version or you don’t have a download it, you can go to Google play and find it as well.  I believe through voice access you may have the option to answer your phone just by talking to it.  That might also be an option for folks.  So instead of using Google home, just use the voice access that is on your phone to make that happen as well.

WADE WINGLER:  There are some Bluetooth headsets that have the ability, like the VXI blue parrot B450 XT — I know, it’s a big long model number.  But it’s one of those headsets I see a lot of truck drivers wearing.  If you want to know about mobile headsets, talk to truck drivers.  They really work that stuff.  That one has the ability to answer calls with voice commands and other voice commands and control.  It’s $100 but a high quality headset.

BELVA SMITH:  And it has very good reviews and ratings.

BRIAN NORTON:  I don’t know if it comes in different models.  The one I’ve seen is an over the headband, it has one ear piece.  That earpiece is really thick and big, but it’s super quality.

WADE WINGLER:  Exactly.  It’s more of a pro level sort of deal.

BRIAN NORTON:  You can find my truck stations.

WADE WINGLER:  You can get them at Best Buy.

BRIAN NORTON:  Some of the best places to find good assistive technology is a truckstop.  You’ll find some great stuff.

BELVA SMITH:  Something else that this person might look into – and I don’t know – but maybe if you had a Google voice number. No.

BRIAN NORTON:  You changed your mind?

BELVA SMITH:  Yeah.  I just don’t think there is any command or ability for you to have the incoming calls —

BRIAN NORTON:  Come through your Google home.  Right.  I would love to know, because I think we have a question on whether it’s possible or not, but for Google home devices to call one another or to be able to connect device to device.  If folks have experience with that, we would love to hear from you.  It looks like in this particular situation where we are wanting Google home to be able to answer the person cell phone, in this particular case an Android phone, I’m not sure there is a great way to do that other than using a wireless headset like Wade mentioned, or using the voice access that’s on the phone.  That something you can download through Google play.  If you go to, you can look up accessibility.  There is some stuff about voice access as well.  Definitely some things to look into.



[14:13] Question 2 – Talking scales



BRIAN NORTON:  Our next question is, talking scales for persons who are blind and/or hard of hearing but this is a voice message I’ll play that for us.

SPEAKER:  Outstanding show.  I’m Ronald Bird and it is my pleasure to receive such quality information and great research done by you folks.  I appreciate the panel, all of you, and I have a question.  I have a friend who is hard of hearing.  This friend needs a scale.  The friend cannot hear the voice that comes from the current scale.  Is there a scale available that has, in my mind, a pole that will go head high, and the person is able to hear the scale through a speaker system that is on the pole or even with headphones.  What do we do for a person who is hard of hearing, totally blind, and wants to hear the scale. Outstanding work, keep up the good work. I’m Dr. Ronald Gerome Bird. Thank you.

BRIAN NORTON:  Thank you for the question, Ronald.  It’s really great.  I was just thinking about what you are talking about.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a scale that has a poll that goes had high that would let you get the audio from a talking scale up to a person who is also hard of hearing.  But my suggestion would be to look at app and able to scales.  There are a lot of smart scales that will report information to a smart phone.  So as you take your weight, it’ll record it to an app.  And in that app, you’ll be able to use voiceover on the phone to be able to read to the information.  And with the phone up against your ear or through a headset, be able to get the information to somebody.  There are lots of app enabled ones, hundreds these days.  Just something to think about with regard to that is maybe it doesn’t have to have a direct connection or an old school corded headset to somebody or a way to get that set up there.  You might be able to do it through an app on your phone.

WADE WINGLER:  Another thing to think about — and you are right.  If you look at AppleVis, they’ve done some stories in the past on the scales that have apps and whether or not they are accessible or not.  But a lot of the bathroom scales talk directly to Apple health.  If you have an iPhone and you use the Apple health app to track your weight and heart rate and of the things, you can just and on the scale and it will show up in Apple health and will know exactly what it said.  That might be a bit of an easier thing.  My concern with the apps are they may not be very accessible.  A lot of the apps I’ve seen aren’t the most top-quality apps.  Most of them will talk to Apple health, and I think that’s a pretty good access method to get that information.

BELVA SMITH:  That’s where I would go, is something that will communicate through your tablet or your phone and hopefully it is going to be accessible.  They are going to be a bit more expensive, and you might want – this is where we get to throw in that plug for looking for your local assistive technology act to find out if they have one that you could test or borrow.  I’m seeing from just a quick search that they have them for both Apple and Android.

BRIAN NORTON:  Do you know if Android phones have something like Apple health? Is there an app or health section?

BELVA SMITH:  I’m sure they do.

WADE WINGLER:  One is named after an Apple and the others are named after candy bars.  I’m just going to guess, probably not such a health thing, right? I don’t know.

JOSH ANDERSON:  That’s a really good point.

BRIAN NORTON:  Android is named after a bunch of candy, right? The last one I remember is nougat.

WADE WINGLER:  All named after suites.

BRIAN NORTON:  I like that theory.

WADE WINGLER:  It’s what I’m thinking.

BRIAN NORTON:  I can’t wait for Snickers to come out.  I don’t know if any of our listeners have run across this issue, or maybe you guys use a scale that is an app enabled scale and provide you the information you need, can track it and maybe is voiceover compatible.  We would love to hear about that, pass that on to Ronald.  Thank you, Ronald, for chiming in and asking a question.  Let us know if you have any questions.  We would love to hear from you and others as well.  Great ways to do that would be to send us a tweet with hashtag ATFAQ if you’re on twitter.  Or you can send us a voicemail, our line is 317-721-7124.



[18:38] Question 3 – smart switch for muting TV and activating Dragon



BRIAN NORTON:  Our next question is, I am starting Dragon training with an employee who, due to MS, is losing him control.  She has always work with a television on in her office, claiming the background noise helps her focus.  I explained that Dragon performance takes a hit when there are background noises, which is very true.  She’s open to muting the TV when she needs to dictate.  However, they are looking for a single switch to simultaneously toggle the microphone on and then mute to the TV all at once.  The idea is that if she presses the switch a second time, the microphone will go off and the TV will unmute.  She’s looking to see if that’s a possibility.  I can’t imagine that that’s a lot of possibility in the current state, if you are having a separate TV that probably has an infrared remote control with it, and then the computer is completely separate.  I would think that you would need to have them somehow control together.  There are possibilities with that.  At home, I use Hulu. If you are running Hulu, there is Chromecast, Apple TV, Sling TV, USB tuners are also something that is out there as well.  The potential to have both of those things, Dragon and whatever you are using on your computer on one screen and your TV connected to a dual monitor on the other side, maybe you can make that a little more automated.  I would imagine that’s going be pretty difficult.

JOSH ANDERSON:  There are a couple of other things you could do.  You could listen to the TV through headphones.  Then you would ever need to use it and it wouldn’t affect Dragon.  If you’re used to having that as a background noise.

BRIAN NORTON:  That’s true.

JOSH ANDERSON:  Depending on the age of the TV and things like that, a lot of them have a I built in and have voice commands built in and things like that.  I believe you can turn it to just wait for keywords, instead of having to push a button.  So you could just say mute TV or whatever the keyword is.

BRIAN NORTON:  That’s not a bad idea.

BELVA SMITH:  That’s where I was going.  With my Echo and TiVo, I can do that.  I can say mute the TV and it would say and I can say unmute it.  I can even say volume up or down.  Change the channel, whatever.  But I would also suggest just trying a good noise canceling headset.  I don’t know what version of Dragon you are using, but Dragon has gotten — it’s gone pretty forgiving.

BRIAN NORTON:  Some of the Mac of those are pretty good.

BELVA SMITH:  So if you have a pretty good microphone and the TV reasonably low in the background, I think you are probably going to be okay with that.

BRIAN NORTON:  Steer clear of things like Maury Povich.

WADE WINGLER:  Jerry Springer.

BRIAN NORTON:  Where there is lots of yelling.  That’s a good idea.  Noise canceling microphones have gotten a lot better these days.  Unidirectional microphones might also be helpful if they are directly in front of your mouth and pointing directly at your mouth.  You’re going to a lot of what is it around you.  That’s not bad idea.  There is a microphone that looks like Darth Vader mascot you can lean into.  It completely cut out all background noise.  Have a guessing that one?

BELVA SMITH:  I haven’t.

JOSH ANDERSON:  I can’t remember the name of it.  It’s made for if you are in an office setting and you don’t want people hearing what you’re saying to Dragon.  It will actually sit there on your face —

BRIAN NORTON:  It has a privacy mask around it.  It’s a good microphone because it would completely disregard the TV in the background and the noise wouldn’t make a lot of difference.

JOSH ANDERSON:  If you’re using one of those unidirectional microphones, make sure it is pointing at your face and hopefully you are staring at the TV.  Than the sound is coming from behind it.  It’s not coming up as much.  It’s just going to pick up was coming right out of your mouth.

BELVA SMITH:  I looked on Nuance website and they have a good noise canceling headset that they recommend.  It’s only $40.  That’s probably where I would start.

BRIAN NORTON:  I get where they are coming from.  I have music on in my office all the time.

JOSH ANDERSON:  Yes he does.

BRIAN NORTON:  I feel like it helps me be more effective.  I don’t know of other people think it does, but it really helps me personally.

WADE WINGLER:  There are a couple of things I think about.  One of the question is, is she going to be switching this off and on a lot, several times an hour, or is it a situation where she says I’m going to dictate for an hour or two and I want to a mute the TV, and then unmute it later.  If it’s not something that need to be rapidly switched, we have the Logitech Harmony remote control at our house that’s compatible with Alexa.  You could have an Amazon echo dot for $30, the Harmony remote for $100, and then you could say Alexa, mute the tv, it would meet the TV.  Then you could tell Dragon to wake up and do your thing.  You can tell Dragon to go to sleep, and then you could say Alexa, unmute the TV.  You can do that entirely with voice commands and $150 worth of hardware.  If it’s something where she needs to hit a key or give a command that switches back and forth all the time, then I would probably do something similar, but I would load the Windows software on the computer and either get an X-keys keyboard or do some macro work.  You could write a macro that goes into the Logitech software on Windows, mute the TV, and then going to Dragon and I’m you Dragon.  You could either use a software macro program to do that or get the X-keys little keyboards that allow you to program buttons with macros on it.  You just have a button that says mute the TV and on you Dragon, and then hit it again and have a different button to unmute the TV and you Dragon.  You can do that with a couple of things controlling it on the computer.  The Logitech Harmony smart remote is the trick in either one of those situations.

BELVA SMITH:  I think some of the newer TVs, like Josh was saying, depending on what TV you have, I’m almost positive you can control the volume just by voice.

JOSH ANDERSON:  You can.  LG has AI built into it for something like that. Some new Toshiba TVs are actually really cheap, have fire TV and Alexa built into them as well.

BELVA SMITH:  This is the time of year to be looking.  Especially if you’re looking for a smaller office TV.  You may be able to buy a TV that has that feature built into it for a couple hundred dollars.

BRIAN NORTON:  Missed out on cyber Monday.  Cyber Monday, they had the new Echo Dot for $19.99.

JOSH ANDERSON:  They have them for that again.

BRIAN NORTON:  Do they really?

JOSH ANDERSON:  Probably not by the time this comes out.  It’s the day before Christmas.  They are probably $10.

BELVA SMITH:  We have the Google home many for $20.

BRIAN NORTON:  That’s great.  I’m looking at – have you guys seen the Google home hubs, or whatever they’re called? Those are kind of cool.  I like that.

JOSH ANDERSON:  I don’t want Google looking at my house all the time.


JOSH ANDERSON:  It creeps me out.  I even unplugged my Echo.  It creeps me out.

BRIAN NORTON:  Great question.  I don’t know if folks have had some expensive microphones or similar situations with background noise and things like that using Dragon, we would love to hear from you if you have a maybe some tricks you guys have used to be able to help in the situations.  You can give us a call on our listener line that is or one 772-1712 four.  Or send us an email at  Thank you so much.



[25:43] Question 4 – Accessible Event planning what should I consider



BRIAN NORTON:  Our next question is, I am planning an event and I’m wondering what type of accommodations do I need to be thinking about for persons with disabilities? I’m thinking be on handouts, PowerPoint slides, but also what should I consider when picking a venue.  Any thoughts?

I’ll jump in on this one.  I think for a lot of folks, I think the first thing we start to think about is once they are at the meeting, what do we do for them, whether they are blind or visually impaired, maybe they have a mobility impairment, what we need to do to make sure that our venue and those kinds of things are accessible.  I even think you need to start thinking ahead of time about registering people for your events, if you are using Web registration, making sure that your website is accessible.  There are great tools out there to help make sure that your website is accessible.  There are different types of accessibility checkers like the wave toolbar which you can go in and look at your website, look for things that may not be labeled appropriately or are missing certain things with regard to accessibility.  For instance, if a person who is visually impaired is using a screen reader to be able to get access to her website and register for your event, they may not be able to navigate or explore that registration page very well.  Certainly thinking about things before, making sure that any documentation or publicity that you put together is accessible as well.  Think about that stuff before the event.

Obviously there is a whole lot to think about when you are at the event.  Thinking about the types of materials that you guys have, are they available in large print, braille, making sure things that can be are made electronic format.  A lot of times, if you can make electronic, people can use their own assistive technology tools to get access to those.  Whether it is a screen magnifier, a screen reader, some other type of software, they can use the computer or the device to be able to navigate and get access to those materials.  Be thinking about those types of things as well.

Think about folks who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Each disability category, if you will, has their own challenges with how you want to make sure things are accessible.  We here at the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads, the Indian assistive technology act, to about five full day trainings a year.  Some of the things we think about for anybody who is deaf or hard of hearing, we had in person interpreters.  We have some interpreters come and be able to interpret for folks, making sure that they have access not only to materials, which they can read, but are also able to better understand the content that we are putting out there as the speaker speaks.  Those things are being interpreted for folks.  In addition to that, we provide live captions.  We have a captionist who is an hour session actually typing it up on a screen, everything that goes on.  Speakers are being captioned, questions that are being asked are being repeated and captioned as well.  Which, at the end of the conference or at the end of our full day trainings, we have a transcript of everything that went on and can provide that for folks as well.  Interpreting and captioning can be a pretty important thing.

I think also physical access, when you think about getting access to the facility, certainly if it is an off-site or a venue that you are not familiar with, make sure you visit.  Make sure you go there and understand the layout and where folks are going to have to go.  Think about parking.  Do they have accessible parking for folks? Think about the distance from the parking lot to where you are actually going to host a conference.  I know one year we did ours at the convention center.  We want to make sure that as people got dropped off, how far would they have to walk if they didn’t have assistance or a motorized wheelchair, specifically for those folks who had difficulty traversing long distance.  We wanted to make sure it was not too far for them.  Certainly look at the restrooms.  Consider your food options.  A lot of folks have food allergies and other types of things.  Making sure that there is a variety of things that can be provided for folks.  Just a whole lot with the physical access.

I know we even looked at a lot of the folks that were coming to our conference back in the day, a lot of those folks who were blind or visually impaired, they had guide dogs.  We wanted to be able to provide a venue for them outside so that they could go to the bathroom.  We were downtown Indianapolis at the convention center, and there is no easily accessible grassy areas for them to be able to take their pets out to relieve themselves.  We wanted to provide that and were able to hire a company to come in.  They designed a fenced off area that has some turf and it and dogs can go to the bathroom.

WADE WINGLER:  It was actually a local pit bull rescue group who put that together for us.


WADE WINGLER:  We allowed them to put their sign.  They needed a volunteer activity, so they purchased some sod, some landscaping timbers, some plastic, and they came in and built this dark part for docs to go.  It was all because they care about people’s and wanted to put their sign there.

BRIAN NORTON:  We did a lot of cool things during that event.  We got golf carts.  Thinking about distance, from getting in the door to where the venue was, we had golf carts that folks could hop on if they needed assistance to get back there, if it was going to be difficult for them to do that.  These golf carts had unique wheels that didn’t mark up the carpet or do something —

WADE WINGLER:  They had white rubber wheels so they wouldn’t mark up the inside of the place, because black tires leave skid marks on things but the white ones don’t.

BRIAN NORTON:  They still had the same get up and go that regular golf carts had.

WADE WINGLER:  They did.  We might have written them around quickly.

BELVA SMITH:  We got people where they needed to be.

BRIAN NORTON:  We did.  Absolutely.  Also think about caregivers.  We talked about service animals, but think about the caregivers as well and figure out what they need to eat for lunch.  Are they going to be a part of the lunch ticket? Those kinds of things.  What things might they need, though service animals as well? Maybe also thinking about power stations.  If people are in wheelchairs, thinking about where they can charge their wheelchair if they are going to be there all day long, possibly needing to part of during breaks.  That might be an option.  Nowadays, everybody uses their computer smart phones and other kinds of things.  Just having a power bar for that stuff would be helpful and be good to have.  I think there is a whole lot to think about.

There is a manual, if you will, that seems to be pretty good.  When I’ve gone out and presented on this — I know, Wade, you’ve done this several times, much more than I have, putting on an accessible meeting. I think at the

WADE WINGLER:  The Bar Association has a pretty good set of materials.

BELVA SMITH:  So does, the got a really good electronic guide.

BRIAN NORTON:  There is just a whole lot to thing about beyond just once I’m in the meeting or in the training, those kinds of things.  Obviously the before the origination piece, there is the stuff while you are there which is a big portion of it.  But even once you’re done, think about how people are going to provide feedback to you.  Getting their feedback is huge, understanding maybe you did everything you could in your power this time, but you always want to adapt and get better at what you’re doing.  Ask folks how did things go, what would you suggest, what could we have done better.  But then making sure that when you do that, it’s successful for them and you’re going to be able to give them the opportunity to provide feedback.  Because if you’re doing that over the web, survey monkey, the types of things, you want to make sure that the questions and the format that you use to be able to solicit that feedback is accessible for folks.  Think about that as well.  I think we all want to adapt and learn and make sure that we improve the next time.

Those of the things that are floating through my mind when I think about making accessible events.

BELVA SMITH:  Good job.  You named everything.

BRIAN NORTON:  We do that here quite a bit throughout the year.  I started this job as the director about three years ago and didn’t think about have these things but now it’s like, yeah, you’re right.  We do need to do that.  We do need to have interpreters.  We probably ought to do life captioning.

BELVA SMITH:  I think it’s important to not only know your area but also know your audience and be prepared for their service animals and the people that they may bring with them, if that’s your audience.  Maybe it’s not.

BRIAN NORTON:  Sure.  One thing we’ve done recently, I think we’re getting better at, is the streaming piece of what we do.  When we do a full day training here, we stream it online.  I think that’s actually helpful for folks who aren’t able to make it here.  Maybe they have a disability and aren’t able to get up and how.  We do offer CEU’s for folks who come in person Anybody can come online.  We can cover them CEU’s because our accrediting organization doesn’t allow for that.  You have to be in person for it.  It is great to be able to offer everything that we do online, being able to not only get captions but also be able to view and listen and hear and see the screens and all that kind of stuff as we push things out on my as well.



[34:25] Question 5 – Moving from Office 2016 to Office 365, Where did all my controls go



BRIAN NORTON:  The next question is, my work is moving to office 365 in the next month or so.  I’m concerned about where to find all the tools that I normally use day today and the new software environment.  Is there a place I can go to figure out where things might’ve gone if I can’t find them? Also, are there any issues with Dragon in the office 365 environment? I have spina bifida and I use Dragon to access the computer.  Any help is appreciated.  I’ll throw that out to you guys.  I’ve heard rumblings today that there are lots of issues with office 365 and accessibility tools.

JOSH ANDERSON:  We run into this a decent amount on my team just because a lot of schools are going to office 365.  If you are using the online 365 environment, which is basically using word and all those things that are in a browser, a lot of times — just touching on the Dragon part – a lot of the features aren’t going to work.  If you’re using it to actually control the computer, what you really want to do – and hopefully your work will let you do this — is actually download those programs.  It’ll work the same as any of the Microsoft programs you’ve been using.  Anything that’s missing probably just moved a little bit, but it’ll be a lot like when it goes from Word 2002 to Word 2006 to Word — I guess we are way ahead of that now.  You can usually find them that way.  If you have it downloaded onto the computer, the full version, then you’re not going to notice a lot of a difference.

The other thing about — because it does say that you are dragging user — do make sure that you are using the newest version of Dragon, which is Dragon 15.  They are going to stop doing updates for Windows 10 and anything before Dragon 15. Here eventually, Dragon 13 just won’t work anymore.  It already really doesn’t work with office 365.  If you’re using the online version, you may have to use the dictation pad or other things like that in order for it to work.  But if you’re just using it for dictation, you are probably okay with the online once.  You might want to talk to your work and see if they let you put that full version on the computer.  Then you shouldn’t have too many issues.

BELVA SMITH:  Right.  I think that’s the thing people have to understand about office 365.  When you purchase office 365 for your personal use, you have the option to use the online version so that you can access your stuff anywhere, and a computer, anytime.  Or you have the opportunity to install the app directly on your computer just like if you’re using the older versions of office.  With any of the adaptive software, you’re going to get a better response if you can use the app, the program, whatever you want to call it, directly from your computer rather than trying to use it to the browser.

Recently I was doing a Dragon 15 with Windows 10 office 365 training for a gal that was getting ready to go take the Microsoft exam.  Really, pretty much everything is still where you thought it would be, if not somewhere nearby.  There are a couple of new many options, but there are some good videos out there to talk about those new menu options.  When you are in an office environment and you are upgrading to office 365, it’s a little different because – and I’ll let Wade hit on this a little bit deeper — it’s about the licensing that your agency or company has depends on whether or not you can have the apps, programs directly on your computer.

WADE WINGLER:  When you get into the office 365 for business, there are different license types.  This an E1, E3, and some other options.  Some of them and give you the online only options and some of them give you the ability to download the apps.  It boils down to the one that’s online only is the cheapest — or if you work for a nonprofit that’s qualified, it’s free to get the online only.  Then when you move into the others, it can cost you $8 a month or $15 a month or whatever, depending of the bells and whistles that you get.  So the ability to download the apps is going to be in those higher prices.  With the home stuff, I think it includes the apps.

BELVA SMITH:  It does.

BRIAN NORTON:  In addition to this email coming in, I also got a question directly from a consumer of mine who her company is now working on upgrading to office 365.  She uses Dragon and is really concerned and was trying to explain to her IT department what they should go out and purchase. I said, well, it depends on what version they have access to.  You really want it to be that downloadable version that’s an app on your computer, not just simply online.

BELVA SMITH:  But office 2016 is still available.  It might even be more cost-effective for the employer to consider having a license for office 2016 for those purposes.

JOSH ANDERSON:  My only thought with that – and Wade, you know about this more than I do for those kinds of things — if they are already doing 365 and that they dollars a month to be able to have them download the app, then whenever office update and becomes new, they’ll still be able to purchase that new version.  It’ll be the same price every month.

WADE WINGLER:  Right.  If you’re paying the monthly fee with that, then you are paying for those upgrades as they happen.

JOSH ANDERSON:  So then they’ll always be up-to-date and you won’t have to worry.  I hear where you’re coming from.  Belva, I did the same.  I held on, no, give me that card, give me that number. I want the real thing.  I don’t want three six five.  It just seems like everything is getting away from that.

BELVA SMITH:  I agree with you, Josh.  Everything is getting away from being a real program on your computer.  They want everything to be online.  We’ve got no choice but to move forward with that.  But I still want the accessibility.  Unfortunately, Microsoft, I’m shocked, but they’ve kind of dropped the ball on making this office 365 accessible, not just the screen readers but pretty much any adaptive software.

JOSH ANDERSON:  I think that’s an online thing because Google Docs, there are some issues and things that come up. Any document programs in an online environment seem to have a lot of kinks and issues.  When they do get fixed, something else comes up.  They are just hard to fix.  I’m not sure why.

BRIAN NORTON:  That’s interesting.

BELVA SMITH:  The Internet has always been an issue for adaptive stuff, right?


BELVA SMITH:  It hasn’t changed.

BRIAN NORTON:  I just want to open up to our listeners, if you guys have any feedback regarding this question, both where to find information about tools that you may not know where they are anymore but also issues with Dragon and the 365 environment, let us know.  We would love to hear from you, things that you guys of experience.  Maybe also fixes that you guys have found.  We would love to hear from you guys on that.  You can give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124.  Or you can send us an email at



[41:00] App Showdown – Kurzweil 3000 and ClaroPDF app



BRIAN NORTON:  Our next question is the app showdown.  We are going to talk about Kurzweil 3000 and Claro PDF and what the differences are, cost, futures, options, things like that.  I’ll open it up to everyone.  Kurzweil 3000 or Claro PDF? What’s the differences?

JOSH ANDERSON:  Completely depends on what you need.  For one thing, Kurzweil 3000 is on the computer and Claro is an app.  If you’re using a computer, there is Claro software that you can use on the computer that is pretty cool and works well.  But for the sake of this, the app is going to be on an iPad, iPhone, one of the tablet, something like that, whereas Kurzweil is going to be on the computer.  And then it’s just in what you need.  Kurzweil is giant.  You can do a ton of stuff.

BRIAN NORTON:  It’s got everything.

JOSH ANDERSON:  It’s got everything you could possibly need.  It can read entire books to you. You can import your PowerPoint, your PDFs, any kind of file, have it read to you, market up, note, extract text. You can turn a whole book into an MP3, put it on your iPod or your phone or something and listen to it while you are on the bus.  There is tons of stuff he can do.  For that, you’ll pay about $1500.  Or I think they want you more to do the subscription service now, which is – I don’t remember – but I want to say it’s like $400-$500 a year.  It’s a very pricey.  With that, we still recommend it for some folks because it is the best one.  It’s got the most features, very easy to use.  The ribbon at the top is very close to a Microsoft, so it’s very easy to find things.

BELVA SMITH:  And customizable, right Josh?

JOSH ANDERSON:  It is.  You can really move stuff around.  You can do a lot of things like that.  All these things we talk about, I think both of these we talk about today have a free trial.  So if you are in between the two and want to try them out, definitely find them.  I can’t say one is better than the other just because of the differences in them.  Claro PDF, as far as the apps, I believe the iOS version is free for the basic one.  Is that right?

BRIAN NORTON:  There is a basic one that’ll give you – I want to say it’s a certain number of uses.  I don’t know if it is perpetually free with just limited features.  Maybe it is.  Before you are right.  I want to say it’s a photo to PDF is 5000 pages that you can convert.  Which is a pretty decent amount.  But if you think, you’re trying to do your whole textbook — A, you’re going to be holding your top of the textbook. But really, the main thing they do is that text-to-speech.  They both have different voices, both have different ways you can do that.  If you’re doing it in a work environment or just need quick access to that, I would say the Claro app would probably do everything you need.  You can still annotate things, highlight information, do all that, plus have the auditory feedback and everything. If you are a college student, then maybe a Kurzweil or one of those computer programs is better because you can get your books in digital format and it’s easier to put them on a computer and have access to those things.  But that’s a very quick overview.

BRIAN NORTON:  For me, I’ve been doing this for a long time, 20 plus years.  Kurzweil has been around for a long time.

JOSH ANDERSON:  I think it’s a version 16 now.

BRIAN NORTON:  You are going to find that most places.  Here in Indiana, you go to most universities and I have licenses for Kurzweil.  A lot of K-12 environments have versus of Kurzweil available for their students.  Again, it’s like what you mentioned, Josh, it’s got lots of features.  Depending on what your need is, you’re going to usually find a feature match with what you might need for that particular software program and what you might need from it.  It’s really expensive.  It’s gone up.  It used to be $1000.  It’s not up to $1500 in recent years.  Really expensive.  A lot of times, I find a lot of folks don’t need a lot of the bells and whistles it offers.  They need the simple text to speech.  That’s when you get that $10.99 — there is Claro PDF Pro.  That’ll give you as many documents and reads as you want.  I believe it’s $5 for a certain number of pages.  I think it’s a pretty good amount of pages that will convert with OCR.

JOSH ANDERSON:  5000 with the paid version.  50 with the free version.

BRIAN NORTON:  That’s a big difference.

JOSH ANDERSON:  I really jumped the gun.

BRIAN NORTON:  5000 pages.  You can then continue to pay five dollars a month if you need to up that with the Pro version of Claro PDF. Claro PDF, the app, is one of the most Kurzweil-esque apps that I’ve seen.

BELVA SMITH:  Does offer the magnification and the bookmarks that Kurzweil offers?

BRIAN NORTON:  I don’t know.  I would have to look at that.  But I believe it does do bookmarks.  You can do lots of annotations.  You have the pen, you have markers, you can record video directly into the document.  You can take pictures of what’s been written on the board in front of you and it inserts into your notes.  You can connect it to dropbox or and import files from those particular on my storage areas.  So if you have an electronic version of the document, you can import it directly into it.  Then you can do OCR with regard to that.  You can next to your camera so you can snap a picture of your document and have it converted.

BELVA SMITH:  Does it have talking word prediction?

BRIAN NORTON:  Probably not.  Those are questions – I don’t know.  It has a lot of features.

BELVA SMITH:  The only reason I’m asking those questions is because those are some of the things that Kurzweil is really boasting.  Look, we have this, we have this.  I’ve always found was Kurzweil, it is way more than any one person needs.  But what I’ve appreciated about the program is the fact that it is customizable, so you can make the menu to be what they’re trying to do.  And they can grow with them.  Maybe —

BRIAN NORTON:  Maybe they don’t need something right now, but maybe they will need it later.

BELVA SMITH:  Absolutely.

BRIAN NORTON:  It would be worth your effort to go look at Claro PDF.  Download that free version and play with it a little bit just because of the portability.  You don’t need your computer.  You can have it on your smart device, have it on your phone, tablet, and be able to use it and see if it’s something that’s in a pinch is helpful for you.  But also it may turn into a really useful tool all the time.

BELVA SMITH:  I always say, I like to say maybe you need both.  Maybe you want one of them in your computer for your big sit down to-do’s, test prep or whatever. But maybe you want one on your tablet for mobile purposes as well.  What happened to the Kurzweil firefly?

JOSH ANDERSON:  That’s the monthly service or pay by the year kind of thing.

BELVA SMITH:  That can be used on the tablet, right?

BRIAN NORTON:  It’s different.  It’s like an audio book reader.  It’s not exactly Kurzweil for your iPad.


BRIAN NORTON:  It’s a little bit different.  Before I know it is two apps in, one app leaves, but just to throw some more in and muddy it.  Claro does have Claro Read software on the computer which is a lot like Kurzweil.  Not as many bells and whistles, but quite a few.  I’ve used it before.  It’s a very simple overlay user interface.  If you think of the play and a few other buttons, you could do the same thing, take out the things you don’t need.  It’s not as big an amazing is Kurzweil, it doesn’t do as much, but in my experience – I’m with you, Belva, no one can really use all that.  I think I’ve only known one person that really continuously used everything.

BELVA SMITH:  I’m starting to question, what is the future for Kurzweil 3000? What is the future for JAWS? Are they going to eventually not be necessary and go away?

BRIAN NORTON:  I don’t know.

BELVA SMITH:  I don’t either.

BRIAN NORTON:  That remains to be seen.  I don’t know what the future is for software.  It seems like lots of software is going to subscription.  I think that’s a way for them to continually push their new product out to folks, which is what they tell.  You get the updates as they come out.  But I also think it’s revenue producer.

BELVA SMITH:  It’s a revenue thing.  For those of you who are users of the freedom scientific products, they have announced that they will no longer be shipping disks. That’s done and over with. Download only.

BRIAN NORTON:  Lots of places are going down those these days.  In fact, you usually don’t get a physical gift card much anymore.  You get an email where you have to register the online.  I don’t know where that all goes.  I want to mention with this app show done, we talk about Kurzweil versus Claro PDF, which is an app on your smart device.  But there are lots of other programs out there too. I don’t want to take away from any of the other products that are out there.  I just chose Claro PDF and Kurzweil.  There is Read and Write Gold. There are probably half a dozen really good programs that do the same kind of thing and just provide the content in a little bit different way.  Just an interesting look at a couple of different software programs, Claro PDF and Kurzweil 3000.



[49:52] Question 7 – Wildcard question: What would type of tech would you buy if you were given $10k this holiday season.



WADE WINGLER:  And now it’s time for the wildcard question.

BRIAN NORTON:  Our next question is the wildcard question.  This is where Wade has spent days, weeks, maybe a couple of years thinking about —

WADE WINGLER:  Or a minute.

JOSH ANDERSON:  90 episode to think of this question.

BRIAN NORTON:  What have you got for us today?

WADE WINGLER:  It’s my last wildcard.

BRIAN NORTON:  Are you sad?

WADE WINGLER:  A little bit.

BRIAN NORTON:  He’s a little teary-eyed.

WADE WINGLER:  It sort of a moment.  I’m having a moment.

BRIAN NORTON:  Don’t worry about it.  After today, I’m just going to have you produce the show.

WADE WINGLER:  Is that it?

BRIAN NORTON:  I’ll have to do all the editing and producing.

WADE WINGLER:  That could go badly.  Civil wildcard question but maybe a little tricky to answer.  Hypothetically speaking, because this show releases on Christmas eve, let’s say that tomorrow on Christmas morning – or any day, it doesn’t matter – you got a $10,000 technology shopping spree to any store of your choice. Where would you go and what would you buy?

BELVA SMITH:  I want that Sprocket, and it’s only $99 so I got lots of money to spend.

BRIAN NORTON: What’s a Sprocket?

BELVA SMITH:  It’s a camera and a printer.  Like you can take a picture and —

WADE WINGLER:  It’s a Polaroid Instamatic. My daughter wants one of those.  In the pictures are super expensive because of the cartridges.

BELVA SMITH:  The cartridges and the paper, because you have to — the only print little pictures.

WADE WINGLER:  Like Post-it notes.  You’ve got $9,900 left.

BELVA SMITH:  I’ll buy an iPhone.

BRIAN NORTON:  That would cover you.  I don’t know.  I don’t think I need much more technology at home.  $10,000?

WADE WINGLER:  $10,000.  But that a lot of dollars.

WADE WINGLER:  Not enough to buy a car but enough to do —

BRIAN NORTON:  Not enough to buy an iPhone X.

BELVA SMITH:  Oh, I would buy that Owl security system for my car. Have you seen that? It’s a camera forward and reverse camera that sits in your car with a security system.  So if someone walks by and the bumps your car, it immediately sends a notice.  It’s recording of thing that’s going on.  So if you are in an accident, you can tell if it was your fault or not your fault.

JOSH ANDERSON:  Doesn’t record while you drive? Because I’ve seen you drive, Belva.  You might not want that.

BELVA SMITH:  But you can turn that one off.  You can say don’t record inside the car.

BRIAN NORTON:  Thinking about this, I think what I would’ve to do is a lot with the IoT kind of thing. I would probably outfit my house with smart plugs, turn on my life, maybe even —

BELVA SMITH:  You don’t already have that?

BRIAN NORTON:  I have Google home at home and I can mess around – I like to ask the questions, but I don’t have anything hooked up with smart plugs or anything like that.

WADE WINGLER:  Oh really?

BELVA SMITH:  You would love to go to Derek’s house.  He can lower his lights, change the lights — it’s crazy.

BRIAN NORTON:  Maybe that would be where I would spend quite a chunk of money.

WADE WINGLER:  For not that much, we have it set up so that you walk into my bedroom and you say, Alexa, turn on Cozy. And all the lights go damn.  Or you can say turn on goodnight, and the charts of all the lights but turned on the fan that Jenny likes.  Or you can say good morning, and it turns on a couple of lights, one light bright, two dim, shuts off the fan, all that stuff.

BRIAN NORTON:  I don’t ever have the time to just sit down and take about that stuff.  Or maybe I don’t make the time.

BELVA SMITH:  You would need the $10,000 to make it really cool.  You very much have to buy everything from scratch.

BRIAN NORTON:  I want my curtains to open with a command.

WADE WINGLER:  Garage door opener.

BRIAN NORTON:  Oh yeah.  That’s what I would do.  I would outfit my house with smart stuff.

JOSH ANDERSON:  That’s not that.

BELVA SMITH:  Josh wouldn’t do that because he doesn’t want it spying on him.

JOSH ANDERSON:  I unplugged my Alexa because we were watching scary movies and it just started talking.  I unplugged it right after that and have implanted them.  When you say technology, how technical are we getting?

WADE WINGLER:  My question, your answer.

JOSH ANDERSON:  I would get a backhoe so I can go work in my yard.

BELVA SMITH:  I was thinking you will go for a new furnace.  That’s technology, right? Smart furnace.

JOSH ANDERSON:  Furnace still works fine, all that stuff works fine.  I need a roof and windows but I can’t call that technology.  I do need to work on my backyard. It would be a lot easier with a tractor a backhoe.  That’s my tech.

BRIAN NORTON:  What about you, Wade?

WADE WINGLER:  I would probably round out a bit of my IoT stuff, my home automation stuff, because we don’t have a smart doorbell.  I would probably do that.  I would add several more lights and switches and stuff like that, definitely the garage door opener and around us to file.  I would probably invest in one of those multi room, higher and smart stereo systems like Sonos. We listen to music — I love music.  I listen to music in my office, in my car, in our home.  We have music playing all the time.  I would probably invest in one of those so that we could have the music sounding really good everywhere we wanted it and a much more smooth experience.

JOSH ANDERSON:  Those are amazing.

BELVA SMITH:  I have a consumer that had a new house built, and she’s got all that stuff.

JOSH ANDERSON:  $10,000 will get you two speakers?

WADE WINGLER:  I don’t know.  I don’t know the price.

BRIAN NORTON:  Sonos aren’t that expensive.

JOSH ANDERSON:  $600-$1000 per speaker, I think.

BELVA SMITH:  Sonos is very expensive.

JOSH ANDERSON:  But they sound great.

BELVA SMITH:  They make both seem cheap.

WADE WINGLER:  I would come steal your backhoe, sell it, and then buy some more speakers.

BRIAN NORTON:  That’s our show for the day.  I want to make sure that you guys know, if you have questions or any feedback for what we cover today, we would love to hear from you.  You can give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124.  Send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ.  Or email us at  Without your questions, we really don’t have a show.  I want to thank the folks on our panel today.  Belva?

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

***Transcript provided by TJ Cortopassi.  For requests and inquiries, contact***

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