ATFAQ102 – Q1- tactile maps for visually impaired, Q2 – livestreaming for blind and visually impaired , Q3 – Livescribe pen feedback, Q4 – Co:Writer alternatives, Q5 – Showdown: Braille Notetaker vs. Laptop w/ screenreader, Q7 Wildcard question: thoughts on bigger tech companies developing their own built-in accessibility.

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Panel – Brian Norton, Belva Smith, and Josh Anderson – Q1- tactile maps for visually impaired, Q2 – live streaming for blind and visually impaired , Q3 – Livescribe pen feedback, Q4 – Co:Writer alternatives, Q5 – Showdown: Braille Notetaker vs. Laptop w/ screenreader, Q7 Wildcard question: thoughts on bigger tech companies developing their own built-in accessibility.

————————–  Transcript Starts Here —————————


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 where 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 us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ, call our listener line at 317-721-7124 or send us an e‑mail at  The world of assistive technology has questions, and we have answers!  And now, let’s jump into today’s show.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Hello, and welcome to ATFAQ episode 102.  Can’t believe we’re on episode 102, but my name is Brian Norton, and I’m the host of the show, and we’re so happy that you’ve tuned in with us this week.  We have a great lineup of assistive technology questions for you today, but before we jump into questions, I want to take a moment to go around the room and introduce the folks who are sitting here with me in the studio.  First is Belva.  Belva is the vision team lead for our Assistive Technology clinical team.  Belva, you want to say hi?

>> BELVA SMITH:  Hi, everybody. 

>> BRIAN NORTON:  And we also have Josh Anderson.  Josh is the manager of Clinical Assistive Technology but also the popular host of AT Update, one of our other podcasts here at Easter Seals Crossroads.  Josh, you want to say hi?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Welcome, everyone.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Excellent! And so, for folks who are new listeners, just want to give you just a brief overview of what our show is all about, and how it kind of works.  We receive feedback and come across various assistive technology related questions throughout the week, and we give folks a variety of ways to send us their questions.  If you guys have questions that you’re thinking about and want answers, hopefully we have some good answers for you.  We have a listener line set up that you can give us a call.  It’s 317‑721‑7124.  Send us an e‑mail at or send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ.  We listen in all those variety of ways.  Also, I want to solicit feedback as well, if you guys are listening to the show and listening to our answers, and you have something to contribute, let us know.  We would love to hear from you through those channels as well, with your feedback.  We value that a lot here and really, really would love to hear from you.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Hey Brian, can we also ask our listeners to let us know if any of the suggestions that we make, they’ve tried and they work?  I was thinking about that over the weekend.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, that’d be great.

>> BELVA SMITH:  We rarely get any feedback that says “Hey, you guys said this was going to be great, and it is great!” and it’s okay to let us know if we said it was going to be great and it’s not so great, as well.



>> BRIAN NORTON: Let us know when we stumble.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah, but we would definitely ‑‑

>> JOSH ANDERSON: We just won’t play those.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Well, that feedback would be great for our listeners, as well.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right, exactly.  So, cool!  That’s a great suggestion, there, Belva, absolutely.  So I also want to let folks know if you have friends or people who — that you’d like to send the show to or have them listen to the show, they can find us in a variety of ways.  You can find us on iTunes, through our website – it’s – or you can go to Stitcher or Google Play Store.  All great ways to be able to download and listen to it on whatever device you have, whether that’s a Victor Reader Stream or through the computer or through your phone.  A variety of ways you can get to our podcast and get that downloaded, so would love to have you listen.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  Alright, so we’re going to go ahead and jump into the first question of the day.  First question is, “I was wondering if anyone has any contacts for organizations or individuals that do tactile maps for the blind or low vision users.”  They are looking to do some small-scale projects for some local organizations, and any options for folks as far as making tactile maps?  I believe we’ve had a question like that before, but it’s been a while.  Any thoughts on that, folks?



>> BELVA SMITH:  Actually, I do know, but I don’t know what they’re calling themselves, and I don’t know how anyone can reach them, so I can’t even mention them, but I do have —


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I don’t think they exist.  It’s a secret.


>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah, but it’s a past consumer who has actually started his own business.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Oh, really?

>> BELVA SMITH:  Doing exactly this, and I know at one point he was going to be ‑‑ or I had suggested that he be interviewed on —

>> BRIAN NORTON:  AT Update?

>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah, but they chose not to because they’re — they’re just doing it locally, so I don’t know if they would be able to help these guys or not but, other than that, the only thing I can think of is ‑‑ and I think you’re the one that suggested, Brian, the Tiger embosser. 

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah. 

>> BELVA SMITH:  And those are very expensive, but the good news is once you have one, you have it.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right, yeah.  Tiger embossers are braille embossers or, really, braille printers that also emboss, and so you can do tactile graphics.  It gives you a little add-in on Microsoft Word, so anything that’s in Microsoft Word, you can have it ‑‑ I guess have tactile braille.  Like, we had the United States and several other pictures.  Went ahead and brailled those, and it just gives you a braille outline of what the United States looks like and those kinds of things.  You know, the other thing I’ll mention with a lot of folks these days is they’re not really even using embossers much for tactile maps and those kinds of things anymore.  They’re using 3D printers, and I know 3D printing is a good option for those, especially when you’re running your finger over maps quite a bit, those lines are going to become undefined after a while, because you’re going to kind of wear them out.  With the 3D printer, because it’s printing in plastic and PLA – which is the material that’s used in those braille embossers – a lot of times those are going to be thicker and harder, and they’re going to last a lot longer, because they’re plastic, really, if you think about it.  I will mention two places that I ran across:  Touch Mapper and then  Those are two websites.  Touch Mapper is touch‑ and then the other one is, again,  Those allow you to just plug in an address, and then they will give you – they will give you kind of a printout of your local area, in either ‑‑ I think one does it in like a 3D print, a 3D printer.  The other one I think uses, I believe, tactile paper or tactile embossing, as their methodology for doing that, but two great places, Touch Mapper and  And then I know LightHouse used to ‑‑ I don’t know if they ever do anything custom. The LightHouse does have tactile braille maps, tactile maps for folks, but I think they are more generic in general.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  They’re kind of like theme parks, aren’t they, and like little things like that?


>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah, I don’t think you get to send them what you want to be mapped.  They just have some available, yeah.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right, they just have some general stuff.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Right. 

>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah.  I found a FamilyConnect blog, FamilyConnect info that has a pretty simple DIY, make your own tactile ‑‑ not map, no.  I’m not sure how big this project is that they’re working on, but I looked through it, and it looked pretty simple and could work.  Pinterest also had some good make-your-own tactile maps that they’ve put out there or have instructions for doing.  So ‑‑

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Using an embosser, or?

>> BELVA SMITH:  No, just using paper and ‑‑ what do you call those pipe cleaner type things, and some other, like, hard paper –


>> BELVA SMITH:  And looks like some braille stuff is going on on here, too, and basically, what this is is a dad had created a tactile map of his daughter’s classroom for her, and then I guess he put it up on Pinterest, so ‑‑

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Interesting.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah.  That might be something worth looking at.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yep, that made me think of ‑‑ the other option a lot of folks might have with making tactile maps is ‑‑ and probably less expensive.  Obviously not as durable, but I was thinking of the swell form paper.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Mmhmm.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Oh yeah!

>> BRIAN NORTON:  You can just simply print something, or design it on the computer, print it onto the swell form paper, put it through one of the swell form heaters – what I just kind of like to call an industrial hair dryer ‑ slide the paper through it, and it actually raises up on the swell form paper, anything that had print on it.  I’ve used that with pictures before, letters, some words, and it might be an option for folks.  It’s a lot less expensive than buying an embosser many times, I believe.  We here bought ours.  It’s still ‑‑ it’s not cheap, but it is less expensive.  I want to say it was about a thousand bucks.  We bought the ‑‑

>> BELVA SMITH:  Okay, that’s expensive.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  The heater.  The heater.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Well, when compared to a braille embosser, not as much, for sure. 

>> BELVA SMITH:  Right, right, right, right.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  But might be an option and, really, it’s pretty simple and easy.  You print it out on the printer paper.  You can use the printer paper or the swell form paper inside your regular printer, print those things out and just slide it through the swell form graphics heater thing, and then it goes ahead and pops that text up or those lines up for folks to be able to feel and touch and have a better understanding of graphs, maps, all those different things.

>> BELVA SMITH:  So another option might be for them to reach out to a university or college in their area to see if this would be a project that they might have a group of students that would be willing to take on.  For us, here, I know the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, they have one of the 3D — actually, several of the 3D printers, and they would probably love the challenge of taking on something like this, so.


>> BELVA SMITH:  That might be another option.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah.  You know, speaking of those, like with the universities, I also ran across this place called Woodlake Technologies Assistive Solutions.  They do tactile maps for public institutions, so for places like universities and whatnot, or other kinds of landmarks, office suites, floor plans, public spaces.  That might also be another place to look. is their website, and it seems like they do — I’m not sure what their cost structure is for being able to design and do those custom maps that you need, but it looks like they do a lot of general tactile maps but also they even do indoor, like office spaces and stuff like that.  That’s kind of an interesting one that I hadn’t seen before, so.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Well, I had an interview last October with a young lady from a place SEE3D, and it’s is where you can find more, and they do 3D printing for individuals who are blind and visually impaired, so they can, you know, send them, “Hey, I need to know what this looks like” or, you know, pictures or things from a textbook, and they’ll 3D print them and send them to them.  I’m not sure if they do maps, but it might be a way to kind of have something to look into, because they might be able to do that as well.


>> BELVA SMITH:  What was that, Josh?


>> BELVA SMITH:  Mmhmm. Huh.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  That’s pretty cool.  I’ve not heard of that organization.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Well, thanks for not listening to my show, Brian!


>> BELVA SMITH:  He just admitted that he hasn’t listened to your show, Josh.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Not that particular one!

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Oh yeah, because that was back in October.  You were busy. That’s right.  He was busy.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  That was a busy month for me.  No, but that’s cool.  Excellent.  Just to kind of rehash some of those with folks, think about Tiger embossers, 3D printers, swell form papers.  We mentioned Touch Mapper, tactile maps, possibly looking at The LightHouse would be a great place.  Seeing ‑‑


>> BRIAN NORTON:  SEE3D, as an organization.  Woodlake Technologies would be another one to take a look at.  A lot of great opportunities for folks and, really, you know, it might be that it’s not done very often, and so if folks are interested in, you know, maybe a little side job or hobby making those kinds of things, it might be something for folks to be able to investigate a little bit more and be able to offer for folks.  That would be — that would be great.  If you guys have opportunities or know of organizations that have done tactile maps – maybe you’ve had some made for yourself or know of folks who have made those for other folks – would love to hear about those.  Love to be able to pass those on to our person who asked the question.  So let us know.  You can do that in a variety of ways.  The first way is by giving us a call on our listener line.  That’s 317‑721‑7124 or send us an e‑mail at  We’d love to hear from you, and so thank you so much.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  So our next question came through our voicemail, our listener line, so let’s go ahead and take a listen.

>> DAN:  Hello.  My name is Dan, and I’m calling from (Indiscernible.), California.  My question is for ATFAQ program.  Great shows, by the way.  (Indiscernible.)  But my question is about live streaming.  This is concerning visually impaired.  I’m a musician, traveling musician, and my colleagues always, you know, post their thing, you know, their travels on Facebook to increase the fan base, and I would like to do the same thing, but I’m not always find people to help me out, to help me video on the road.  So my question is, is there any way that I can, you know — what is the best way to use my iPhone to either video myself or live streaming so I can, you know, let my friends know about my works and activities and, of course, my travel documentaries and stuff like that, and my music and on the road stuff.  So that is my question, so what is the best way to do that for a blind person?  I know I cannot control how good it looks, but I would like to minimize the weirdness or awkwardness, you know.  Maybe a two‑sided (Indiscernible.), so I don’t know.  So that is my question, and I thank you for the show.  I learn a lot from you guys.  Thank you very much.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Alright. Thanks, Dan, for calling in.  Appreciate the voicemail.  That is a great question.  You know, I’ll just kind of mention, I believe just through the camera app on your phone, if you record a video, once it’s recorded, it saves it to the library, and from the library – if you have Facebook installed as an app on your phone – you should be able to just send it directly from the library to Facebook.  There’s that little ‑‑ I don’t know, it’s a send button, it’s like a box.  The icon looks like a box with an arrow pointing upward.  You might not be able to see that visually, but it will send it directly to Facebook, allow you to include a message with it, and just posts — automatically posts the video to Facebook, which might be something to think about and do, and you mentioned some ‑‑ you know, maybe the weirdness and the awkwardness.  I don’t know if that has to do with being able to hold the phone or have it positioned to be able to record you well to have a real kind of a quality recording.  You know, I think about how to hold and how to position, if you’re playing instruments, obviously you’re not able to hold your phone.  You may not always have someone there who’s able to help you out, but there’s a lot of really nice, flexible tripods or mounts or things like that that you can kind of place in and around your environment to be able to hold that in place while it’s recording you and while you’re recording a show.  So something to think about there.  I don’t have any specific ones.  We have one that’s kind of this ‑‑ it’s a tripod, but it’s got little flexible legs, and you can kind of attach it to poles or mics or other kinds of things ‑‑

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah, it kind of looks like a little octopus, almost, with like three or four kind of legs, yeah.  You can connect it to all different kinds of things.


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Well, I know some musicians and things will want to take, you know, video of the people kind of out in the crowd or the other musicians and stuff and usually use GoPros or things like that, but there’s all kinds of different I guess body-worn mounts you can have.  Ones that will kind of go across your chest and could hold the phone, so if you want to show people, you know, playing your instrument, or kind of what’s going on out there.  There’s head mounted ones, you know, so if you want to just kind of as you look around, all that stuff will be videotaped.  So there’s all kinds of different ways to get different kinds of videos.  Now, I don’t think there’s one that’s worn that kind of just looks right back at you. 

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I’m not sure.  You might have to kind of finagle one of those.  Maybe use some kind of tripod thing that you can put on.  But yeah, there’s a lot of different ways to kind of do that.  It just kind of depends on what you want to show, but you might want some different options just so you can have different kinds of videos and show different things, if you’re really looking at all your travels and stuff.

>> BELVA SMITH:  That’s where I was going to go.  I don’t know.  I know you said live streaming, but I don’t really think you want to try to capture, especially like your music, live streaming, but to capture it live, of course, but then to be able to post it at a later time would probably be best, and I say that because, when you’re streaming, you really can’t control what’s going on in the background, and you might end up capturing some stuff that you really would not want to capture.  But I was thinking of having your own YouTube channel.  And now you’re probably saying to yourself, “Wait a minute, did you hear me say I’m blind?” and yes, I did.  But I actually have worked with an individual who also has his own band, and one of the things that they do to get their ‑‑ to make the public aware of their music and stuff is they do have a YouTube channel.  It’s really pretty simple to create your own YouTube channel, and I will tell you that we did it using voiceover on his Mac.  So what he does is he uses his iPhone, and he just has somebody else in the band, he’ll say “Hey, can you put my phone over there and hit record?” because he has the camera app open for recording.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Mmhmm.

>> BELVA SMITH:  And then, when he’s done, he just pulls it down and then, there’s an ‑‑ and I didn’t know that there was a direct upload to Facebook, either, from the camera app, and there isn’t one for YouTube but, you can then capture, once you’ve got that video captured, you can upload it to YouTube — to your YouTube channel very, very easily and, like I said, we did it using voiceover.  I’m 99.9% sure.  I won’t say 100% sure, but it should be able to be completed with JAWS or NVDA just as easily.  So that’s what I would do.  I would look at ‑‑ actually, I have the website for creating your own YouTube channel, and that’s  Or you can just google “creating your own YouTube channel”

>> BRIAN NORTON:  And that would give your listeners or anybody who’s interested just a place to go to see all of your videos all at once.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Right, and you don’t have to worry about whether they’re your Facebook friends or family or whatever, because YouTube is obviously out there for everybody to watch and see.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right, right.

>> BELVA SMITH:  So that’s what I would think about.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  And you’re right, we do have ‑‑ I know several folks who are visually impaired or blind, and they’re using YouTube as their kind of — they create the videos with their phone or other places —


>> BRIAN NORTON:  And then will upload them to the YouTube channel, and also Facebook, there too.  I looked up that mount that we have. It’s called ACUVAR.  It’s a flexible tripod, and it’s got a little mount for your phone.  You don’t — doesn’t matter if your phone’s in a case or if it’s just by itself.  It’ll sit.  It’s kind of like a sandwich clip that kind of will grab onto your phone, and then it’s got these flexible, like Josh mentioned, like octopus legs that will wrap around it.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  That’s the technical term.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  Fairly technical.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah, and I really like Josh’s suggestion for the GoPro for your travels, because that is — that’s something you can put on a cap and forget, or whatever.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Oh yeah, and they actually have one that’ll hold your iPhone, so you can just kind of put it on your cap, so you don’t have to have a second device.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Right, right.  And I don’t think you need to worry so much, Dan, about whether or not you’re capturing your video perfectly, or whether or not you’re posting a perfect snippet of it.  Your fans are going to know that you’re visually impaired, and I think they’ll appreciate that and be accepting of whatever it is that you get out there.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  You know, I would love ‑‑ I don’t know if you’ve already got some videos posted, but I would love to hear some of your music and would love to be able to take a listen, so if you do, let us know, give us a call, let us know more about that, or if other people – folks who are listening here – have suggestions for Dan about how to capture video and get it uploaded so that it’s either a live stream or being able to be recorded and post it to Facebook or YouTube or other places, let us know.  We’d love to hear from you.  Our phone number is 317-721‑7124.  You can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ or e‑mail us at  All great ways to get us your feedback, and we’d love to be able to send that back out to Dan as some additional information.  So let us know.  Love to hear from you.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  Our next question is from Kristi.  Kristi sent us an e‑mail, and she’s really just looking for some general feedback on the Livescribe pens.  I’m assuming what our thoughts are on those.  Maybe ‑‑ and I know they’ve got many different styles of pens.  Maybe just a little bit of feedback on those as well, and then I was even going to throw in, towards the end of our answer, you know, just a little bit about some of the alternatives, you know, AudioNote, Notability, and things like that, but Livescribe pen, I know, Josh, you got ‑‑ you probably use these quite a bit with some of the folks that you’re working with in our Mobility Cognition team.  Thoughts on that?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah.  Yeah, and it kind of depends on what you’re looking to do with it.  So I know some folks use a Livescribe pen, and they aren’t even really concerned with the recording portion of it.  They just want to digitize their notes, and if you’re kind of looking for that, the Livescribe 3 — or I believe there’s a new one, and I have not used it yet, called the Ageis? Aegis?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Aegir?  I think it’s the Aegir.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Oh, yeah, I completely messed that up!


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  But, anyway, I believe it’s a lot like the Livescribe 3 smart pen.  Now, the Livescribe 3 and the one that Brian just mentioned that I mispronounced, they’re not – they’re going to have to have a tablet, a smartphone or something else to use, because they need that microphone if they actually want to record the information.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, they got rid of the built‑in microphone of the Echo pen, didn’t they?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  On those, they did. 

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, okay.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Now, the one I probably use the most with consumers and with folks is the Echo pen.  So the Echo pen is actually going to record everything on the pen itself, but then it links it to the notes that you’re writing, so if you go back and touch something that you wrote, it will go to that point in the actual recording.  You can upload all that information to the computer, but it makes it really nice.  I mean, especially if you have a boss who talks a lot during meetings.  I don’t know anyone that has those.  Belva, don’t say anything.


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  But, you know, you can kind of just take a few little notes. You don’t have to worry about writing everything down.  You can really pay attention, and then you can go back and just touch those portions of the notes and get the information that you need.  I find it really helpful.  A lot of my consumers really find it helpful, and what’s nice is, besides learning a few tiny commands, which is really just remembering to touch record at the bottom of the paper, you really don’t have to learn much, because you’re just writing like you normally would, and a lot of folks that I’ve worked with, as they go along, they take less and less actual written notes, or if their handwriting’s bad or anything like that, it doesn’t matter, because you’re not ‑‑

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I mean, I guess you’re kind of looking back at your notes, but really you’re looking for those little cues that “Oh, I need to go back and listen to this part again.  I need to listen to this part again.”  Works really well for folks who doodle in class, just because you can go back and touch your doodle, and it will sit there and actually tell you exactly what they’re saying during that part.  So, I mean, really, really helpful.  Like I said, with the Livescribe 3 and the other new one, I don’t use those as much, but I have used them for folks who weren’t as concerned with the recording part but wanted to digitize their notes, so they want to take notes but then have that show up on an actual digital screen, and you can change most of your writing into —

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Print.  Mmhmm.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Into print.  Unless you have really, really bad handwriting, in which case it won’t quite pick it up.  It’s kind of like, you know, voice recognition.  It’s not perfect, but it is pretty good.  But I’ve had some folks find that really helpful, and then the recording’s kind of a secondary part for them.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right, and I’ve been thinking about, you know, I would still recommend the Echo pen, because I’m a big proponent of — when they took the microphone out of some of the later editions of the pen, it became, now you’re carrying around two devices, and I understand the premise of why they wanted to put the microphone, or use the microphone from the phone or a tablet or some other device, and that is because I believe you can put it closer to the speaker and be able to get better audio instead of just having it at your desk and you’re, you know, sometimes 10, 15, 20, 30 feet away from the person that you’re trying to record, and then the audio is a little degraded at that point, but I always found it really nice to have everything together, because then you just have to remember to bring one thing.  You bring the pen, you’ve got your audio, you’ve got your picture, you’ve got your hand written notes, all those kinds of things all together, and so I was never really a big fan of the ones that had the microphone that you had to use with a different device.  Now, I will say I would love to try the Aegir pen, the new pen that they have, because it is more pen-like.  Smaller, it looks like a regular ballpoint pen.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah, yeah.  It’s not as big or anything like that.  And I will say the ones that do need a tablet or device, they do pair very easily ‑‑


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  They don’t jump off like some devices do, but yeah, I’m — I’m with you.  For a lot of folks, just all in one.  I’ve got it all right here.  I don’t even have to bring my computer, my tablet, anything else with me.  Especially for some folks in like a classroom setting.  Some teachers don’t want you to record them, even if you talk to disability services.  Unless you tell them, you just look like you’re using a fat pen.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right, right, oh, and the cool thing is ‑‑

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Not that we condone lying to your teachers or doing anything like that.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right, exactly.

>> BELVA SMITH:  And we’re not discriminating against fat pens.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Fat pens.


>> BELVA SMITH:  That could actually be helpful at times.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.

>> BELVA SMITH:  So the one thing that we haven’t mentioned so far about the Livescribe pens, and I have ‑‑ I have really done very little with these, but I do remember many years ago, when ‑‑ I think it was like the first version was out, we had these folks come in and do a full day training with us, so that we understood the, you know, the ins and the outs of the product, and I was so impressed with it that I immediately went home, logged onto Amazon and bought myself one.  You know what I’ve done with it?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing!  I had great ideas of what I was going to do with it.  I just never did it.  But you have to have special paper with these pens, and we have not mentioned that.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yes, you do.

>> BELVA SMITH:  So I want to make sure that we mention that.  It’s not expensive, and ‑‑

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Mmhmm.

>> BELVA SMITH:  And the beauty of the pen is you don’t have to take as many notes.


>> BELVA SMITH:  And for the few folks that I have been able to use, because my consumers are usually at least low vision if not totally blind, so this is not an option, not a good option for a person who’s totally blind, because there are certain, what do you ‑‑

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Small little kind of control buttons that they would have to use.

>> BELVA SMITH:  That you have — yeah.  Controls that you have to touch on the paper, and the information that’s displayed on the screen of the pen, though it is a fat pen, is very small.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.    

>> BELVA SMITH:  And there is no auditorial feedback for any of that, so it’s just not a good option for folks that are low vision or blind.  But I do think, for the folks that I have recommended it for that have had enough vision to be successful with it, that the main thing that I express to them is, instead of feeling like you have to just be write, write, writing everything you’re hearing, just pick out keywords, because you do then, later, whether you upload it to another device or not, you do then, later, get to come back and just touch different areas of the paper and hear whatever was being spoken at the time that you wrote whatever it was you wrote, whether it’s that you drew a star, but the teacher was talking about when your math test was going to be due.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Mmhmm.  Yeah, you know, and I always approach that a lot with folks.  The real great thing about Livescribe pens and other note-taking devices like it are the fact that, when you are taking notes, you’re doing two things simultaneously, right?  You’re trying to listen to the instructor, and then you’re also trying to write notes.  Well, no one can really – unless you’re really talented ‑-

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Nobody can do two things well at once.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  Can do two things at once.  When you’re writing your notes, you’re not necessarily really listening to the instructor, and you may miss something.  If you’re listening to the instructor, and you’re not taking notes, well, you’re going to not remember something later on, and so that’s a real challenge.  I’ll mention a couple of things about the products that you mentioned earlier, Belva.  The paper, they call those dot paper products.  They’re real specialized paper.  Each piece of paper and a notebook and all of the different forms that it comes in, and it comes in a lot of forms.  It comes in, you know, spiral‑bound notebooks that are college bound, college paper sized.


>> BELVA SMITH:  Notepads.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Notepads.  It comes in little sticky notes, like you do with your things that you stick up around the walls.  What are those called?  Post-it notes.

>> BELVA SMITH & JOSH ANDERSON:  Post-it notes.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Post-it notes, those kinds of things.  They come in lots of different forms, but that is special paper.  It’s not all that expensive, or less expensive than you might think.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah, yeah.  And the other thing is you can actually print it out.  You can print it on your printer if you do want to.

>> BELVA SMITH:  So, I have heard people say that, but then what about those controls at the bottom?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  They just print on the paper.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Really?  Interesting.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yep, and then the pen, magically ‑ I think it’s magic ‑ knows that they’re there.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Interesting.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  And, you know, I haven’t done this much, and it’s been ‑‑ even though I’ve used the pen, it’s something I almost never train folks on.  I think you can draw the controls.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  You can.  You can draw the navigation piece to be able to navigate ‑‑

>> BELVA SMITH:  Oh, yes, you can.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  To be able to navigate through different things, yeah.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Yes, because when we did the training, whenever we drew the piano, and then we played the piano.


>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah. Yep.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  So there’s a lot of great things.  I will say there are a couple of accessories that, if you are getting the pen that has the microphone built in, one thing I would recommend that you purchase with the pen are 3D recording headsets, because you’re further, or usually further away from the speaker, and the microphone’s on the pen.  You’re going to pick up background noise.  Maybe your pen’s scratching on the paper, or things happening in and around the room.  With the 3D recording headset, it removes the microphone from the pen itself, and it puts it on your earbuds, and it then gives you this ‑‑ they call it 3D because you’re listening all around you, so it actually picks up information pretty well.

>> BELVA SMITH:  And you got a clearer recording, right?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.  The quality of your audio is going to be a lot better with those, and so think about the 3D recording headset as an option if you’re going to do the one ‑‑ the Echo pen, which has the microphone built into the pen.  So hopefully that is a little bit of feedback on the Livescribe pens.  I do want to mention just a couple of things about other options.  If you really like the Livescribe pen, you may also look at AudioNote or Notability, which are apps for iPad or for Android devices.  So AudioNote is available on all platforms.  You can do that in Windows, you can do that in Mac, you can do it on an Android device, an iPad or your phone, and Notability is specifically for Mac or iOS, but they take it one step further.  What I like about AudioNote and Notability is, with a stylus, I can still write on my iPad and take notes with a pen.  It allows you to record the audio in the room and will link it to whatever you write or you type – and I think that’s where it really distinguishes itself – Notability and AudioNote allow you to also type on those devices, because most of those devices either include a keyboard or will allow you to connect a Bluetooth keyboard, and I don’t know about you guys, but I type a lot faster than I write.  For some folks that’s not going to be the same, but I can just type faster, and it will actually link anything it records to either my typewritten text or my handwritten text, and so it gives me a good option with that, and then will also then allow me to save it to an online ‑‑ I can save it to Dropbox,, those kinds of places to be able to then categorize or store them for later on.  But think about AudioNote or Notability, as well, because it does give you a couple more options and allows you to type, and then, you know, really, the other piece of it, too, is you can snap pictures, because you’re on an iPad that has a camera.  At the end of the day, you walk up to the front of the room, you snap a picture of the whiteboard or the smart board.  It will import it directly into your notes, and so you get that feedback or those notes, as well, directly into your notes.  So it’s something else to think about there, as you think about Livescribe pens.  I know you didn’t specifically ask for alternatives, but I wanted to kind of throw that out for you, as well.  So, any other things on that, guys?

>> BELVA SMITH:  I think that’s some good feedback.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Mmhmm. And the difference I always go to, because talking about AudioNote and Notability, whenever I’m working with an individual and note taking is an issue, we’re talking about Livescribe pens, and those — it’s kind of like you brought up, Brian, it’s just, are you quicker at typing, do you prefer writing?  Some folks prefer that tactile kind of writing.  Some folks prefer typing.  So it’s just whatever works better for you.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, excellent.  Perfect.  Well, and I would open it up to our listeners, too, if you have other things to say about the Livescribe pen.  I know it’s a really popular, well used, adaptive type of device that a lot of folks are using.  Love to hear from you, love to know what you guys have as far as feedback on that as well.  So you can do that in a variety of ways.  You can give us a call on our listener line.  That’s 317‑721‑7124, or you can send us an e‑mail at  Would love to hear from you.  Have a great one! 


>> BRIAN NORTON:  Alright, so our next question is are there any non‑subscription based apps similar to Co:Writer?  And, you know, for those that don’t know what Co:Writer is, Co:Writer is kind of a word prediction software, but it does — it goes a little bit beyond word prediction.  It allows you to do context-sensitive work prediction.  So, for instance, if you’re taking a geography quiz, it’s going to give you geography terminology, if you will.  So the things that it comes up, as you start to type a word, it’s trying to predict what you’re saying, but it’s going to give you — the things that it’s trying to predict are going to be related to geography in some way, and not every other word that’s out there that starts with or begins with those letters, and so I think that’s what I love and what is pretty cool and unique about Co:Writer is it gives you that context, the sensitive work prediction.  And really, to get started with the question, it would really kind of depend on what platform you’re using, whether that’s Chrome or iPad, Windows or Mac.  You know, knowing what kind of platform folks are using kind of would steer you in certain directions, because a lot of apps are a lot of times only available on a particular type of platform, and so knowing that would be helpful, but it also, really then, also would depend on what the person’s going to be using it for.  Is it in school?  Is it for work?  Could you make certain vocabularies or prediction lists based on what the person’s doing?  Those kinds of things, and so it also depends on the platform and what they would be using it for, but there are a few out there.  I don’t know if you guys have used any of these, but WordQ is a pretty good app.  You can also get a standalone version of Co:Writer without a subscription, so it costs a little bit more money upfront, but again, then you don’t have the ongoing cost of subscriptions there.  I’ve not played with this one, but I do understand Keeble, would be another option for somebody.  Also Read&Write for the iPad, and Read&Write for Chrome.  Chrome has a Chrome extension as well, and then there’s a Chromebook option called ClaroRead extension.  I know we’ve done some stuff with Claro products and had some pretty good success with those as well, but all of those are different versions or different types of software that have word prediction kind of as an option that you can tap into if you need those and, again, it kind of really drills back to platform.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  Let us know what the platform is, and then what the specific use case would be for it, and we can probably steer you or direct you in a certain direction with one of those software packages.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Well, and there’s one I’ve used quite a few times called Lightkey, and it’s ‑‑

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Oh, yeah.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  It’s only on Windows, so, I mean, really it’s just if you’re trying to do it in a Windows environment — it’s, I think.  I don’t think you can use it on Mac, although I could be wrong, maybe you can.  But at least on Windows, there’s a completely free version, and if you’re just looking for word prediction, it’ll work on there, and it does use a artificial intelligence, so especially if you type in the same thing all the time, it will kind of figure that out and give you the right kind of things, and it’ll even, you know, do kind of the sentence prediction and other things that I know Co:Writer would do also.  Then there are professional versions and kind of for business versions that do have a monthly fee.  I think they’re like four bucks.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  So, I mean, it’s not — not too awful expensive if you do want to do a subscription, but you can do the free version, and I think if you want to try more features in the big version, then you can pay that four, or you can do 15 days for free or something.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  The only thing that’s kind of weird, or that I’ve always thought was weird about it is, if you’re using the free version, you kind of use like a Lightkey pad, so you’re not actually typing in Word, you’re typing it in kind of its native kind of software thing, and then you just have to copy and paste it over, whereas if you pay the actual money for the prediction software, then you can use it in Word and Outlook and PowerPoint, and all those kind of things.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, you know, one thing I love about this software, and you kind of mentioned it, Josh, is just the self learning that happens.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  If you have a person who really has trouble with writing in general or just needs to be able to be a little bit faster as they write, word prediction is a good option for folks.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  And what I love about it is there is self learning to it, so if you use the same word all the time, that word will start working its way up the list and will get up higher on the list and become ‑‑ it’ll be a lot faster, so instead of having to type four or five letters to get that word to show up, it’s going to be, you know, over time, it’ll start being the second — as you type the second letter or the third letter, it’ll start popping up in the list.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  And with Lightkey, I haven’t used it enough to be sure, but I know with Co:Writer, you can spell the word miserably wrong, and it will still word predict the correct word.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  In Lightkey, it may have to learn that a little bit kind of more.  Like, I spell the word accommodation wrong every single time I write it, and I use that word 25 times a day.  One day I’ll get it right, but even my version of Word is smart enough to automatically fix that for me now, so.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right, yeah.  It’s – and so I would look into some of those options.  You know, again, Lightkey.  What was the other one you mentioned, Josh?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Did I mention another one?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  I don’t know.  WordQ, standalone — the Co:Writer version, the standalone version of Co:Writer would be an option that’s not subscription based.  Keeble, Read&Write for iPad, Chromebook would be either Read&Write for Chrome, for the Chrome browser, or ClaroRead extension, which is also available.  Try some of those and would love to have feedback if you do try one and you think “Oh, this does work pretty well!” let us know.  We’d love to hear from you on that.  If other folks who are listening in maybe have tried word prediction with folks and have found a good utility or tool or add-in or extension to — whether it’s a browser or an app for an iPad or Android, we’d love to hear from you as well.  You can send us an e‑mail at or send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ or a voicemail.  Let us know.  317‑721‑7124.  Would love to hear from you.  Thanks.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  Alright, so our next question is really the showdown question, and this is where we kind of look at two kind of products that are similar in nature and kind of discuss what the options are with those and differences would be, and this time we’re taking a little bit of a different bend on this.  We’re going to talk about braille notetakers, which are pretty popular these days.  Maybe less popular than they used to be, but also laptops with screen readers, and we’re going to talk about, again, the pros, cons and comparisons with some of those things, and so braille notetakers versus laptops with screen readers.

>> BELVA SMITH:  So, you said laptop with screen reader.  Well, is that laptop with a screen reader also going to have a braille display?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Maybe not, I don’t know.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Okay.  So let’s say that it does.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  To make it ‑‑ to really make them comparable, yes, let’s say it does.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Yes.  Yes.  Then, the biggest right-out-of-the-gate difference is, do you want one device or two?  Because if you’re using a laptop with a screen reader and a braille display, then you’ve got your laptop and your braille display – two devices that you will have to have a relationship between those two devices, and hopefully it’s a good one to where they stay connected as you need them to, and that you’re not continually falling out with your Bluetooth connectivity so that you’re waiting on the braille display or reconnecting the braille display.  So that’s, right out of the bat, the biggest difference, because for those that aren’t familiar, a braille notetaker I used to describe as a laptop for a person who was blind without a screen.  Because a braille notetaker essentially does the same kinds of things that a laptop will do, other than display it on a screen.  I mean, you can access the Internet, you can create text documents, you can send e‑mails, you can get contacts and all the same kinds of things but on a — usually, a device that is smaller than a laptop because A) you don’t have the screen and B) you don’t have the keyboard.  You typically will have a 32 braille cell display, but that’s kind of changed, because now the more current braille notetakers, they’re all tablet based.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Mmhmm.  They’re all, like, Android based, aren’t they?

>> BELVA SMITH:  Yes.  Well, yeah.  Except, except – and that is one of my big differences – is if you’re using a braille notetaker, more than likely you’re using an Android environment.  I would say 99% of the people are using an Android environment.  The exception would be the ElBraille, made by Freedom Scientific, because it is running off of a Windows tablet.  So if you happen to be using that particular notetaker, then you are still in your Windows environment.  So, to me, the biggest difference is ‑‑ I won’t say the biggest difference, but one of the differences is, do you want one device or two devices, and do you want to be in an Android environment, or do you want to be in a Windows environment, because prior to the ElBraille, if you wanted to be in a Windows environment, you had no choice but to use a laptop, and what I have found over the years is the individuals that start out young using a notetaker, they don’t want to let go of it, no matter what.  I mean, even once they have a job where they are required to use Windows, they still want that notetaker, because they’ve just gotten so used to being able to take their notes and read their notes from that notetaker.  They may perform their job using a Windows computer, but they still want that notetaker to be their notetaking device, but often times I find that breaking that relationship between the individual ‑ and sometimes it has to be broken.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Mmhmm.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Because a notetaker, though it’s a very powerful tool, it’s probably not going to get you through college.  It may have been a great device to get you through, you know, grade school, middle school, but once you hit college level, once you hit the employment area, a notetaker is not going to be the tool that you’re going to rely on, and so oftentimes, you have to kind of break the relationship there, and I’ve just recently worked with an individual who had never, ever, never used a computer but was very, very good with her notetaker, but when she got her job, guess what her notetaker did for her?  Nothing. 

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Mmhmm.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Because everything she had to do was on a computer using Windows, Word, Outlook, that kind of stuff.  Stuff that she had never, ever used before.  She quickly adapted, and her notetaker has since broken, and she’s okay.  She said, you know, “I think I’m going to get a laptop instead of a notetaker.”  Now, we’ll also say that, before we decided that we were adding the braille display to this showdown —

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Mmhmm.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Obviously, the laptop is going to be much cheaper, but when you throw that braille display in there, that ‑‑

>> JOSH ANDERSON: (Indiscernible.)

>> BELVA SMITH:  That changes the whole thing.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  That’s a little bit more even.


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  When they’ve got JAWS, you know – (Indiscernible.)

>> BELVA SMITH:  Well, yeah ‑‑

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  (Indiscernible.) screen reader, then it can kind of get up there too.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah, but I mean, even if you do the NVDA, which is, you know, a free screen reader, if you buy a decent laptop, you’re going to spend, you know, we’ll say right out $1000.  Well, your braille display is going to be $2500‑$2900.  So, you throw the screen reader in there, and yes, your price is going to be very close to the same.  If you don’t throw the screen reader in there, you’re still going to come in slightly under.  So that’s my thing, you know?  The question — or, to me, the comparison is, do you want an Android environment or do you want a Windows environment, and if you want a Windows environment, you only have the one option for the notetaker, which is the ElBraille, and do you want, you know, one compact device, or do you want two separate devices?  Also, how much connectivity for other peripherals do you need, because you’re going to have more limits with your ports and stuff on the notetaker than you are with a laptop computer, I believe.


>> BELVA SMITH:  Power.  The laptop computer, you’re going to get a longer battery life out of that than you are your braille notetaker.  A braille notetaker — I don’t know, it depends, of course, on the daily usage, but I think your laptop is going to have a better battery life, and I will say, too, that the fear that I have with these notetakers is, if you happen to be a person who ignores “There’s a software update.  You need to update your software,” you will find yourself with a notetaker that’s a brick, because it will eventually quit working.  That’s probably not going to happen in a laptop situation, so that’s something else to consider when you are trying to make the decision with which way to go, and I will say, too, math is – according to the braille notetaker producers – math is impossible to do if you’re not using one of their braille notetakers.  I don’t think that’s totally true, although they have made it easier, so.

>> BRIAN NORTON: Mmhmm. (Indiscernible.) 

>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah. 

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Well, and I know ‑‑ and I was kind of, you know, going to talk about some of the differences until Brian threw in that you would have a braille display with a laptop, because some braille displays now, you can take notes on when it’s not connected, right?

>> BELVA SMITH:  Absolutely.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  There’s a little word processing program on there.  Because I know I’ve worked with some folks that work in kind of, you know, administrative assistant kind of things.  They have to go to meetings, but they can just take their braille display with them, take their notes and then upload it to their computer when they reconnect.  Is that correct?

>> BELVA SMITH:  The — yes, that’s correct. The Focus 40 5th Generation has the option to, without being connected to the computer, so that means you just hit the power button, your braille cells pop up, and you can open the Notes app, and you can type your notes all day long, and then, when you get connected to your computer, you can upload those notes to, you know, your documents file and do editing or whatever needs to be done with them.  They also — it also has a clock, and I am hearing that a calculator is in the future.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Okay, cool.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  That’s great.  Yeah.  You know, I’ll also kind of throw in, too, you know, with some of those notetakers, I find a lot of those notetakers have a lot of kind of bells and whistles, if you will.  You can get the AM/FM radio.  You can do – on some of them, I believe – you can, there’s like a couple of switches.  I’m thinking of the ‑‑

>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah, you’re thinking of the older ones, because the new ones —

>> BRIAN NORTON: (Indiscernible.) not anymore?

>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah, the new ones are all tablets, so that’s kind of ‑‑ but yes, yes.  Yeah.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Oh, Okay.  Okay.  Well, I’m old.


>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Maybe I’ve just dated my age.


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Brian outdated himself.  Brian hasn’t been out in the field in quite a while!


>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah, exactly.  Yeah!


>> BRIAN NORTON: Good golly!  Love when I do that.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  So, well, maybe I’ll just jump into the end of the question.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  You know, I don’t know what you guys or what our listeners are using.  Whether you’re using a braille notetaker.  You know, it’s one of those things where I think if you use a notetaker, you’re in a notetaker camp, and you love it, and you’re going to use it and stand by it for the test of time.  If you’re using a laptop with a screen reader, maybe you have reasons to be able to do that.  I’d love to hear from you guys, what your perspectives are on the differences, and if you do have any feedback, love to hear from you.  You can provide that in a variety of ways.  First is, you can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ if you’re on Twitter, or you can send us a voicemail at 317‑721‑7124, or send us an e‑mail at  Would love to hear from you.  Thanks.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  And now it’s time for the wildcard question!

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Alright, so our next question is the wildcard question, and that’s where I’ve come up with a question that hopefully hasn’t been asked before.  I’ve done that before.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  But it’s something that Belva and Josh haven’t had a chance to prepare for, and really, you know, this question, it deals with big tech companies, so with all the big tech companies, and the companies I’m thinking of would be Windows, Apple, Amazon, places like that, as they develop more accessibility into their products, what are your thoughts on all of that?  Sometimes, you know, I get a little leery about the opportunity for choices when bigger companies start building stuff in.  I wonder about choices for folks with disabilities with their adaptive technology – are those choices going to be there?  But then, also, I start to dream a little bit about what that might mean for folks with disabilities, with the technology that they use, and so thoughts on any of that?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  So, I’m going to go the opposite way that you went.  I think we’re going to have more choices.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Okay, okay.  Tell me more.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Because, well, because it used to be, you know, I mean – and I really hope nobody is listening from any of those places – but, you know, Apple used to be probably the most accessible of just built‑ins.


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Kind of thing, so especially if I can’t afford aftermarket things.  If I can’t afford anything else to put on there, then I had to buy Apple, or I’m not accessing ‑‑ I’m not getting into the program.  I’m not getting into the device.  I can’t use it.  It’s inaccessible to me.  Whereas when other places start building those things in, in kind of opens up that access.  And then, as places make things more accessible, you know, as Amazon makes their website and their shopping platform more accessible to folks who use maybe even the built‑in kind of things ‑‑

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  That opens up a whole new world.  I mean, they can buy all the useless junk that I buy constantly on Amazon ‑‑


>> BRIAN NORTON: Right, right.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  And I am not the only person who can get it.  So I would say it almost opens up more doors.  You know, if you think of the accessibility features built into Windows, as those become better and more useful, well, then, I can ‑‑ you know, especially if I’m somebody who ‑‑ maybe I lost my sight later in life, and I don’t have a whole lot of extra money sitting around, but I know how to use a computer somewhat.  I need it for a few little things.  Well, I don’t want to buy, you know, a thousand-dollar screen reader or magnification software, if I can just access a few things in there, then it can really open up my access, and Brian was dreaming about things ‑‑ yes, I mean, I know that the new version of the Mac operating system is going to ‑‑ the voice controls are going to be much closer to Dragon, where I can control the entire computer with my voice.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, I’m excited about that.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  So some of those things I’m very excited ‑‑ but I’m just excited that the companies ‑‑ it’s a consideration, and it’s a consideration being built in there, kind of at the beginning, as opposed to something at the end, that they’re just trying to kind of add on, and I think, as — my hope is that, as they all think about this and build those in, that then websites, web developers, all these places and things will think about that, too.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  And just make sure that, not only do I have this accessibility means on there, but everything I’m trying to access was made to be accessible at the same time.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.  You know, I find it kind of fascinating.  They have to — bigger tech companies are going to have to think about accessibility, because baby boomers are getting older.  There’s age-related disability.  They have to, at this moment, think about those things, and so I do ‑‑ I just think about years ago, when I first got into this field ‑‑

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Back before computers.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  That is kind of funny, though.  On my desk back then, it was 12‑inch monochrome monitor connected to a database.  It was not a real computer.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  Or it is — I guess it was a real computer, but it wasn’t a real, it wasn’t a Windows computer, if you will, but back then, you know, Microsoft left people alone.  They didn’t want to have anything to do with the adaptive technologies.  You know, they let little mom and pop shops ‑ places like Freedom Scientific, other companies ‑ develop software and just left them alone, and now you just start seeing some of their stuff becoming really usable and starting to kind of incorporate some of the features that made those other software programs, those third party software programs, unique and useful for folks, and so it’s just interesting to see how some of those things are starting to go away, and it’s starting to be more incorporated into the operating system.  I believe half the folks that used to work at Window-Eyes now work at Microsoft, you know.


>> BELVA SMITH:  So here’s my thought on that.  I think that, years ago, they all felt like they were building their hardware for productivity purposes for businesses.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Mmhmm.

>> BELVA SMITH:  They weren’t really thinking, “Hey, we’re going to build this so kids can get through school, and we’re going to build this so people sitting at home can order their dinner to be delivered,” or whatever.  They really, I believe that computers were at that — many years ago, at that time, being created for business purposes, and then they suddenly realized, “Oh my gosh!  Kids are using these things to go to school.  Look how much better we can make learning if they’re using one of our computers.  And look, grandma and grandpa are visiting with their grandkids that are thousands of miles away using a computer.”  So, with that, I think they realized, “Now we’ve got to make it accessible to everybody.  It’s not just the shirt and tie guy at his office that needs to access this.”  And, Brian, you said something a few shows back, that years ago, they just — Microsoft and Apple just kind of took a step back and said “Oh, okay, you guys go ahead and develop all that accessibility software, and good luck making it work with our stuff, because we’re going to do our stuff, and you do your stuff and, you know, good luck.”  But all the while, they did include ‑‑ I mean, because I believe that there’s been accessible features ‑‑

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, there’s always been accessible features.

>> BELVA SMITH:  They’ve always been there.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.

>> BELVA SMITH:  They just haven’t been talked about, because they weren’t very good.  Now they’ve gotten good, and so now my fear — my fear isn’t for the user.  It’s what’s going to happen to JAWS.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.

>> BELVA SMITH:  You know.  That’s my fear.  Because I still believe, even though all of the other options that are out there are very, very good options, I still believe that JAWS is the best, the most robust, the most stable screen reader out there, so I’m scared.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah, and I think it will stay that way, and that makes me wonder if that’s why you have like a – Vis — Vispero.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Vispero?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah.  Vispero.


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  You know, where all different assistive technology companies are kind of merging under one.  Maybe that’s to combat the ‑‑

>> BELVA SMITH:  Mmhmm.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  So that they can kind of consolidate all their best ideas into a product to make sure that it — that it kind of stays around.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Well, and is that why all the folks from Window-Eyes are now working at Microsoft?  I don’t know.  I don’t know.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Not all of them, but —


>> BELVA SMITH:  But there’s a handful of them.


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  A couple.  Well, and I think — I think that is because, you know, the big push for accessibility at Microsoft isn’t like a newer thing, but it’s a big thing to them now.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Yeah.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I mean, it is something that they really want to make sure that they do.


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  And Belva, you’ll be happy to know that the giant cursor, the giant pointer?

>> BELVA SMITH:  Mmhmm.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Is now available in Windows.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Oh, good, because I just looked for it the other day.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yep.  If you upgraded the newest — the newest update, or whatever, it should be in there.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Awesome.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  So you can get the giant green pointer.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  It’s on the Windows magnifier?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  No, it’s ‑‑

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Or it’s just under cursor options?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Under cursor options, I think, or I think you can go to the Ease of Access.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Ease of Access is where you’re going to find it.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yep, and you can find it in there, but it’s got, instead of ‑‑ because, you know, it used to be you could make it a little bigger, but it wasn’t that big.  It could be black or white.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Right, and it could only be black or white.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yep.  Now it can be any color that they have, and it can be up to, you know, gigantic, and so.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Awesome.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Cool!  Well, excellent.  I would open it up to the folks who are listening.  If you guys have some feedback on that question as well.  What you guys are thinking about with regards to that, we’d love to hear from you.  Again, you can ask us your questions or provide feedback to any of the questions we talked about today by giving us a call on our listener line.  That’s 317‑721‑7124.  You can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ or e‑mail us at  Definitely would love your questions and feedback.  In fact, without those, we really don’t have a show, so be a part of it!  I want to thank Belva and Josh for being in the studio with me.  Belva, thank you for being here.

>> BELVA SMITH:  See everybody in a couple of weeks, I guess.  Thanks!

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yep, and Josh.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Thanks for coming, everybody!

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Perfect.  And thank you guys again for listening, and we look forward to talking with you guys in a couple of weeks.  Take care.  Bye bye.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  And every week we have at least one blooper.  Here we go.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Hello.  Hello.  Hello.  I don’t hear anything either.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Try it again.

>> BELVA SMITH:  Hello.  Hello.  I hear nothing.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  I can kind of hear Belva now, but I can’t hear me.  Can you hear ‑‑ can you hear me?

>> BELVA SMITH:  I can’t hear.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Can you hear it now?  Can you hear it now?  Can you hear it now?  Can you hear it now?  Sorry about that!

>> BRIAN NORTON:  All of our questions just popped off my screen.



>> BRIAN NORTON:  Weren’t there anymore.  I’m like, “Our first question…” —


>> BELVA SMITH:  And you got a little panicked, right? 

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Well, looks like the show is short today.

>> BELVA SMITH:  All these lovely sounds.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Eardrum ninjas.

>> BELVA SMITH:  That’s what we need, is just a sound blooper.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Beep beep beep.


>> BRIAN NORTON:  It’s like Morse code.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Alright, so our next question is the wildcard question ‑‑


>> BRIAN NORTON:  I’m sorry.  Why did I say that?



>> JOSH ANDERSON:  April fools!  No wildcard question.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  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 and produced by Brian Norton, gets editorial help by Josh Anderson and Belva Smith 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 

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