Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.
Show Notes: Guests on today’s show: David Frye ATP, CEAS: Assistive Technology Specialist Anna Leung ATP, MS: Assistive Technology Specialist Jim Rinehart ATP, MA: Assistive Technology Specialist Lisa Becker: Assistive Technology Technician Find out more about the Clinical Team: www.eastersealstech.com/staff
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DAVID FRYE: Hi, my name is David Frye, and I’m an assistive technology specialist here at Easter Seals Crossroads.
ANNA LEUNG: This is Anna Leung. I’m an assistive technology specialist from Easter Seals Crossroads.
JIM RINEHART: Hi, this is Jim Rinehart. I’m an assistive technology specialist at Easter Seals Crossroads.
LISA BECKER: Hi, this is Lisa Becker, and I’m the assistive technology technician at Easter Seals Crossroads, and this —
DAVID FRYE: — is your —
ANNA LEUNG: — Assitive Technology —
DAVID FRYE: — Update.
JOSH ANDERSON: Hello and welcome to your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist individuals with disabilities and special needs. I’m your host, Josh Anderson, with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. Welcome to episode 417 of Assistive Technology Update. It’s scheduled to be released on May 24, 2019.
On last week show, we were proud to have our team leads on to talk about the different apps that they use, either on a daily basis or to help out their consumers. Today we’ve got the rest of our clinical team. We have David, Anna, Jim, and Lisa on to talk about some apps that they used in their daily lives and also ones that they used to about the consumers. You might notice you here a few apps mentioned more than once, and that’s probably good ringing endorsement that those folks do use those quite often with their consumers.
Don’t forget, if you ever have a question about our show or maybe a suggestion for someone we should have as a guest, you could always email us at email@example.com. You can call our listener line at 317-721-7124. Or drop us a line on Twitter @INDATAproject.
JOSH ANDERSON: Our first guest today is David Frye from our mobility and cognition team. David, welcome to the show.
DAVID FRYE: Thank you, Josh.
JOSH ANDERSON: Good to have you. What is an app that you like to use with your consumers?
DAVID FRYE: Many of my consumers are college students, so notetaking is very important obviously. A lot of them are used to either being in an insulated environment like a high school, where everyone pitches in to take care of them and they have no takers and everything else. In college, specifically, I try to encourage them to be independent and not necessarily rely on a note taker to translate what was going on in class. They may have memory issues, attention issues, so an app that I like which is available on Windows, iOS, android, what it is, is Audionote, and it ranges from about $10, maybe less – it fluctuates – up to $20 for Windows.
What Audionote does essentially is it allows you to pay attention in class because the majority of communication is nonverbal. If you can pay attention, you will absorb more than just trying to write down things. You can’t really multitask. You can pay attention to what is going on or you’re going to be stuck in your head where you are trying to figure out how to spell a word and you look up, and the topic has changed, and you now have a fragment of an idea. You go home and memorize that, and then don’t do as well as you should on tests. What Audionote does is it allows you to pay attention in class and then go home and listen to that lecture again.
There was a statistic that I heard a long time ago that you are supposed to spend two or three hours outside of class for every hour that you are in class. Not everyone has to do that, but that’s still the standard. If you are dealing with some kind of a learning difference, then you may need to actually go over that material three or four times which can be three or four hours. Because you really need to understand what was going on. I always compare it to a movie. The first time you watch a movie, everything is new and overwhelming. The second time you watch it, you know what’s expected. And the third time you watch it, you can almost quote it. Whenever taking notes, whether or not you have a physical disability, like if you have difficulty typing or difficulty spelling, there are other programs out there that can type for you like a Dragon NaturallySpeaking to where you would have the lecturer – and even if it is just an A, B, or C, every time the topic changes, you can click on the “A” and it would jump to that point in the lecture. If you don’t know exactly what’s going on, you can put a question mark and then just relax and take in the material. Then, when you get home, you can research that word that may have pieced together the entire lecture or that context. So if you have attention problems where you cannot space out, and you come back in the topic has changed, you can go back and listen to that again.
With Dragon, you can go to “A,” play the audio note file, and then get a basic synopsis about what’s going on and pause it and tell Dragon, okay, what was going on as the professor was talking about this or that. That’s another level of you including that information, because it’s not from a very complicated professor talking about a topic, and the translating that into layman’s terms for your quick absorption.
Like I said, it’s about $7 to about $20, available on every platform. What it looks like is a notepad. In Windows, you can change the color, change it to a grid, change the actual paper type. On the mobile version, which is sometimes more practical – if someone has trouble carrying their entire laptop in, they can just have their phone on the desk or in their pocket. They can have their iPad or android out.
JOSH ANDERSON: If you are dealing with memory issues, I know trying to remember a computer can be difficult, but your phone is probably with you.
DAVID FRYE: Yeah. If there is a surprise, like if you go on a field trip with your class or something like that and you don’t really think about taking notes, just do the recording anyway, and if you don’t need it, then delete it. It’s very versatile. On the iOS version, for instance, it has a folder in the upper left-hand corner that is where you can store them locally, meaning that you can store them on the actual device. Or you can use a cloud service. You can use Dropbox and the Apple iCloud. You do the recordings and you can jump 10 seconds back or forward, and it’s got a timeline that shows you when you first started, and if you jumped to a different topic, and then you can go to the “T” for typing, and you can physically do it or you could input that was Dragon. You can also use the built-in speech to text feature of the actual device. Then there are the pen and highlighter or camera options. The pen and highlighter are obviously useful. For instance, if you are in a math class, you can use the pen for an equation, but you can also just take a picture of the board, which is a lot faster than you trying to get everything down before the slide changes, especially if you do have a physical disability and you don’t want to raise your hand and say can you go back. That’s awkward for anyone. Like I was saying about notetakers in high school, if you have one in college, let them have a job. That’s great. But we also want to make sure that the information that we are studying is what we believe it is and not translated by someone else. Anyway, you can either take a picture with your phone and add to it later, or you can take a picture right now and go and add it directly. That’s all up to you and how comfortable you are about actually building those notes.
Also, one of the things I always tell people – which people don’t always realize – is that if you have, say, a study group. Let’s say you’re going to be a nurse and you have a nursing program, so you have like a cohort. If you can stagger that to where you and someone else take opposite classes and then trade notes at the end of the semester, then you are going in with all of the information already. For instance, if you have notes from their class last semester, you can actually get started over summer or Christmas break.
JOSH ANDERSON: I think you just taught them how to cheat.
DAVID FRYE: That’s right.
JOSH ANDERSON: I still think that’s fine. There is a free version available? Is that right?
DAVID FRYE: There is a lite version, which is basically a trial. The way used to be is the lite version would only let you record for five minutes and then it would turn off. That’s just a good way to test it.
JOSH ANDERSON: Just to see if it will meet your needs and anything else?
DAVID FRYE: Yes.
JOSH ANDERSON: And what’s nice is it something that will follow you after school for meetings and things that you will have in the professional world as well.
DAVID FRYE: Of course. Taking minutes in a meeting. Same thing as anything else. Should you write everything down? Maybe, maybe not. But going back with audio note, you can always add to it later.
JOSH ANDERSON: Thank you so much for coming on the show today and telling us about audio note.
DAVID FRYE: Thank you.
JOSH ANDERSON: Our next guests is Anna from our vision team. She’s an assistive technology specialist here with us, and she’s going to talk about some of the apps that she uses. Welcome to the show.
ANNA LEUNG: Thank you.
JOSH ANDERSON: What’s the first app would like to talk about today?
ANNA LEUNG: The first app I like and use the most is the Podcasts app. You can find it in the Apple App Store, it’s an iOS app. You should also find it in the android Google play store. I like it a lot because I drive a lot for my job, and I need someone to tell me stories. Some of my favorite podcasts include Assistive Technology Update and also Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions. That one is always fun to listen to, and you can hear all kinds of jokes. They are all about assistive technology equipment and devices. Everyone should listen to it and benefit from it.
JOSH ANDERSON: That was a great commercial you threw in there. I appreciate that.
ANNA LEUNG: And the app is free. Other than that, I have some other favorite podcasts that I try to expand my knowledge horizons, such as cooking shows and science shows and all that.
JOSH ANDERSON: I would have a hard time listening to cooking once while driving. I think that would make me too hungry. It’s important to note that the podcasts app does work pretty well with voiceover. I’ve had some folks usable for and usually they have a pretty easy time finding stuff as well.
ANNA LEUNG: Yes. Definitely. It’s an accessible app.
JOSH ANDERSON: What other ones do you use?
ANNA LEUNG: The other one I use often is the voice memos app. It’s an iOS app. You can find it in the iOS App Store. I use it a lot to keep track of some of the reminders and also instructions. Especially when they are more than five steps, I tend to jot them down in the notes app or I record them in the voice memos app. And I also show my consumers how to use this app because they want to jot down those notes, but they may not be capable of using touchscreens a lot to type on a small keyboard, so they just like to voice their steps or whatever they want to remind themselves, so they use the voice memos app and they find it very useful.
JOSH ANDERSON: Very nice. What about other ones you use with your consumers? Is there one that you use the most? I know most of the folks you work with are blind or visually impaired, but is there one app use with most of them?
ANNA LEUNG: I tend to use a couple of different apps, especially for people who are low vision or people who have no vision. One of them is the Seeing AI app. This app will help one to read out text aloud and immediately on any printed text. It also has a channel called documents so you can use your mobile device to protect a document to the screen, and it will read the document out loud. There is also a channel for reading handwriting. If you write legibly, then you can however over the handwritten note, take a picture, and it will read out the handwriting.
Another app that I also use a lot for people who have low vision is the Brighter Bigger app. That is more like a magnifying app, but it’s very easy to use because you can pinch the screen in order to make it big. Some other magnifying apps, you have to tap a button quite a few times. If you have some dexterity problems with your fingers, it’s not going to be working out well. This Brighter Bigger also has some dials that you can move up and down, left and right to change color contrast and brightness so you can adjust the image the way you want based on your needs. That’s also a free app. It’s available in both the iOS App Store and also the Google play store.
JOSH ANDERSON: I think seeing AI is supposed to be coming out for Andrew pretty soon, but I still have not seen it.
ANNA LEUNG: We are all looking for to it.
JOSH ANDERSON: We are all hoping that comes out soon. Thanks for coming on the show today and talking about some of the app you use for yourself and with your consumers.
ANNA LEUNG: Thank you.
JOSH ANDERSON: Our next guest is Jim Rinehart. Jim is a member of our vision team, and he’s actually one of our remote employees and the latest member of our ATP club. First of all, congratulations on getting the ATP.
JIM RINEHART: Thank you, Josh. I appreciate it.
JOSH ANDERSON: You want to talk about that much. I know it was a lot of stress, but it’s over now and all we have to do is keep up the certification.
JIM RINEHART: That’s right.
JOSH ANDERSON: What’s a couple of apps you wanted to talk about today?
JIM RINEHART: I’ll tell you what. Outside of work, one of the things I do is I play trumpet and a couple of bands, and I also have some hearing loss. One of the things I use is an app called Pano Tuner. It comes up on your iPhone, iDevice, looks very much like buying a standalone tuner. You set it on your stand, and as you’re standing, if you have difficulty hearing other instruments or voices around you, you can kind of watch as you are playing and it tells you where you’re at as far as being on pitch or not on pitch.
What I do with this is I’ll pull up the app on my phone, and I’ll set it on my music stared. As I play, I’ll give it a glance from time to time to see where I’m at as far as information.
JOSH ANDERSON: Very good. I could see how that could help, especially with a little bit of hearing loss. Is that free?
JIM RINEHART: It is a free app. There are paid version, and you can upgrade to a paid version. But for me, the free version seems to do everything that I need it to do. You can set what “A” is. The standard is A440, but sometimes, like marching bands and drummer bugle Corps kind of groups, they will actually move up just a little bit. They’ll play a little bit sharper, mostly A442. It makes everything sharper. You can adjust the tuning to where you need it. The standard is the A440, and that’s where we play.
JOSH ANDERSON: I know with a lot of your consumers, you’ve done some work with them on some shopping apps and stuff.
JIM RINEHART: I have.
JOSH ANDERSON: What are those like?
JIM RINEHART: It’s kind of interesting. A lot of the big box stores and bigger chains have them. Kroger has one, Meijer has one, and Walmart has one. They all work relatively similar in that when you go into the app, you can do lots of things and it now but one of the things that a lot of my folks like is being able to find where products are in the store. Most of them you identify the store that you normally frequent. With that, in the search part of it, you can put an item that you are looking for. If it’s a box of frosted flakes, you can type in frosted flakes, and it’ll generally tell you what aisle it’s in. Which is kind of handy because sometimes grocery stores will move things around on us, it’s kind of difficult to find it. Certainly some of our folks with disabilities have trouble seeing signs to read them. At least this will be able to identify what aisle it is and try to find those.
Interestingly enough, when I first learned about these, I went to one of the big box stores to learn more about it because I hadn’t heard about it. I was talking to a team leader, and she told me, yeah, I use it all the time here at work because when you get that cart full of stuff, things that people have decided they don’t want to buy the checkout, so they put it in the cart, and they had to be re-shelved. She says, “I use it all the time” in the store that she works in to re-shove them. Again, they move stuff around frequently. Knowing where it is that was good.
That is something that some of my folks have been very pleased with when asked about it.
JOSH ANDERSON: I could see how that could help. I know I spend most of my time in the store trying to find that one item.
JIM RINEHART: Exactly.
JOSH ANDERSON: That I don’t get all the time. Go backs is what those things are called, the stuff in the cards. I used to work at a grocery store, and that was the worst part of job. All the stuff that no one wants and puts in there.
JIM RINEHART: Or you think you want until you get to the checkout.
JOSH ANDERSON: You think you want it until you get to the checkout, you see the price, will you say I don’t need that. Those are go back’s. Those can be a royal pain. While we have a little bit of time, tell me about one more app, would you use or one you use with your consumers a lot.
JIM RINEHART: Working on the vision team, I use Seeing AI a lot. It’s free, easy to use. The piece that a lot of my folks like is the short text where you open the app and it usually defaults to there, and you just hold the camera over the text and that automatically starts reading. It easy, breezy, and you don’t have to do much more as long as you can target the camera a little bit to get some text.
I’ve also had some experience with the document text. That works well with a lot of folks with getting them to focus the camera properly. I have some folks using the barcode scanner. They like it pretty well. And the currency are the main ones at that I have people that enjoy using. [Seeing AI] is truly awesome for a lot of folks, especially with visual impairments. Again, the price is right.
JOSH ANDERSON: I know whenever I work with someone with a visual impairment, if they have an iPhone, when I leave, they are going to have seeing AI on the phone. They kind of have to. Thank you so much for coming on the show today.
JIM RINEHART: You are more than welcome.
JOSH ANDERSON: Closing out the show today, we have Lisa Becker, who was our assistive technology technician up in northern Indiana. How are you doing today?
LISA BECKER: Good morning. I’m doing great. How are you?
JOSH ANDERSON: Doing great. What are some of the apps you use all the time?
LISA BECKER: I think probably a couple that I use most often are Wunderlist and MultiTimer. A lot of the consumers I work with have traumatic brain injuries or other cognitive deficits, so these two programs help them to remember and stay on task with a lot of things they need to remember to do.
JOSH ANDERSON: Tell us about Wunderlist.
LISA BECKER: Wunderlist is a powerful app. It is across all platforms. It will let you start very basic in creating a to do list of things that you need to get done, but it’s also very powerful tool if you want to take the time to learn how to use it. What we usually do is start off really basic and just get in and create a to do list of tasks that somebody needs to get done. Then you can go back in later and add those, add due dates, reminders. It’s kind of a really good project manager as well. You can add subtasks to your major to do lists. Once the list are set up, the things that I like about it, it’s got some really cool features. With students, a lot of times they have a very brief period of time here and there through the day where they need to be able to work on something, but in order to organize their thoughts, it takes them all the time that they had to figure out what it is they want to work on. Wunderlist allows you to really quickly look at the lists that you’ve created and say, I got 30 minutes, show me all my very important things that I need to get done this week. You can quickly look at all of your lists, look at those very important items, and say I can do this one right now. Then you can also search all of your lists. If you are working with a particular program or a particular class and you want to see everything that’s in all of your list that has to do with the class, you could do a search on the name of the class, and it will find every to do list item that you have, having to do with the program or the class you are working in. It’s a really powerful tool.
JOSH ANDERSON: Very nice. I love the way that you can keep it all together. Like you said, when you have that 30 idle minutes, just to be able to look at say I can do this, it only takes a few minutes to do, instead of getting caught up with what am I possibly going to do during this time. I could probably use that pretty well.
LISA BECKER: It’s fantastic. When you set due dates for everything, you can say, okay, I’ve got half an hour right now. Show me everything that’s due today. You can look through all of her classes or all of your projects that you are working on and see everything that’s due today so you can check those off. Then you can say show me everything that’s due this week and check those off. It’s a really powerful and very easy to use tool.
JOSH ANDERSON: How much does that cost squeeze go to that’s the best part. Wunderlist is free for all the platforms. There is a paid version, $4.99 a month. However, most of the features that I use, the free version handles everything.
JOSH ANDERSON: I love it whenever that happens. What about MultiTimer?
LISA BECKER: MultiTimer is another great program. Again, for the consumers that I work with, we need to stay on task. If we are going to work on a project, we need to set up and organize our time and say, okay, I got five task to do and I think each task is going to take me maybe 20 minutes. Maybe this other task will take longer. We can set up MultiTimer to set up each task with a label for that task and set aside time for each of those, and it’s like a timer for each one. When I’m ready to do a particular task, I start the timer, and you either tick down or up, I can change that. You can change anything about the layout. You can change the colors of they are not comfortable for you. You can change the timer if you don’t like the way it looks. Basically it ticks down the amount of time that you’ve set for that task. When it is done, then I always tell people to go on to the next task, even if you didn’t quite get finished so that you can come back to this one at the end of the day or at the end of the time you have available. You can also schedule in breaks for yourself. The cool thing is each one of these timers is set up on the screen, and you can do them in an order you want. If you originally set it up to do your classes in a certain order and now you feel like you want to do science next, you can just skip to that timer, and once it’s done, you can go back and do the other ones in any order that you want.
JOSH ANDERSON: I’ve used that one before with individuals on a job, especially with certain mental health issues, especially obsessive compulsive disorder and things like that. If I need to clean the bathroom, if I spent two and half hours scrubbing the sink, it’s really not going to get done so I need to spend 15 minutes on the sink and 10 minutes on them years and take five minutes to go get my chemicals. It’s very helpful. Like you said, it’s very easy to set up and use. Is that one free also?
LISA BECKER: Yes. You can also expand it and get a journaling feature and some other features if you pay $5.99. For the most part, we use just the free version and it does everything we want it to do. The journaling feature would be nice if you’re trying to show a supervisor what you did or a teacher or a tutor, but for the most part it’s a great tool.
JOSH ANDERSON: Very nice. Thank you so much for coming on the show talking about those apps with our listeners.
LISA BECKER: Thanks a lot.
JOSH ANDERSON: Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? If you do, call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Are you looking for a transcript or show notes? Head on over to our website at www.EasterSealsTech.com. Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. For more shows like this, plus so much more, head over to AccessibilityChannel.com. The views expressed by our guests are not necessarily that of this host or the INDATA Project. This has been your Assistive Technology Update. I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana. Thank you for listening, and we’ll see you next time.
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