ATFAQ 110 – Q1 – text-to-speech programs for young people, Q2 – utensils for hand tremors, Q3 – language translation Apps, Q4 – spanish word prediction apps, Q5 – OCR apps for iOS and Android, Q7 – Wildcard: Most anticipated mainstream tech?

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Panel – Brian Norton, Belva Smith, and Josh Anderson – Q1- text-to-speech programs for young people, Q2 – utensils for hand tremors, Q3 – language translation Apps, Q4 – spanish word prediction apps, Q5 – OCR apps for iOS and Android, Q7 – Wildcard: Most anticipated mainstream tech?

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SPEAKER:  I have a question.


SPEAKER:  Like what?

SPEAKER:  I’ve always wondered…

SPEAKER:  What about do you know?

SPEAKER:  I have a question.  I’ve always wondered…

SPEAKER:  Like, I have a question.

SPEAKER:  I have a question.

SPEAKER:  I have a question.

SPEAKER:  I have a question.

SPEAKER:  I have a question.

BRIAN NORTON:  Welcome to ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions, with your host Brian Norton, Director of Assistive Technology at Easterseals 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 email 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 110.  My name is Brian Norton, and I’m the host of the show and we’re so happy that you’ve taken some time to tune in with us this week.  We’ve got a great lineup of assistive technology questions for you today. 

But before we jump into those questions, I just want to take a moment, go around the room and introduce the folks that are in the studio with me.  So last week Josh was out.  He had another commitment here at work.  And so we had Tracy fill in.  And while Tracy is back with us this week ‑‑

>> TRACY:  Hey!

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Hey, Tracy.  Tracy is the manager of our INDATA Project.  And she takes care of things that are happening in our Reuse Program and our Demo and Loan Program.  And so, Tracy, do you want to say hi to folks?

>> TRACY:  Hey, everyone.  How are you doing today?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Awesome, awesome. 

And then Josh is back with us again.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah!  Hi, everybody.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Excellent.  And then Belva’s out.  So we’re still not the full team.  And so hopefully, hopefully by the next time we record, we’ll have everybody back here with us. 

But, again, we have a great show lined up for you guys this week. 

For those that are new listeners to the show, just want to take a moment and tell you a little bit about how the show works.  So we receive feedback and come across various assistive technology‑related questions each week.  And you can provide those to us in a variety of ways.  We have three different things set up for you.  We have a Listener Line.  That’s (317) 721‑7124.  Or you can send us an email at or you can send us a tweet with the hashtag #ATFAQ.  Those are great ways to get ahold of us. 

And, again, it’s a question and answer show, so we would love your questions.  But we’re also looking for feedback.  And I think that’s an important part of our show.  So we sit around as a panel here in the room.  We try to answer these questions as well as we can.  But we rely on your feedback, as well, so that the answers we give and the folks that are asking those questions get a well‑rounded answer to their questions.  And so be a part of the show in that way, as well.  We’d love to hear from you. 

So without further ado, we’re going to jump ahead and into the first bit of feedback this week.  This actually came from an answer that we had given in Question 108.  It was actually the person that we had gotten the question from. 

Her response was, “Hello, Brian.  Thank you for your answering my question in Episode 108.  I was able to switch banks to the American Express Serve.  They had great service.  And I also asked and joined up with Aira agents, as well, who are trained in blindness.” 

And so I think that was part of the answer that we mentioned on the show is to get connected with Aira because they have folks trained in how to do live audio descriptions for folks and especially for folks who are blind or visually impaired.  And so that answer or that feedback was from Linden.  So thank you, Linden, for giving us a call back and letting us know that you were able to hear that.  And hopefully we’re so glad that that was a good bit of information for you.  So thanks so much. 


All right.  So our first question of the week is:  “I’m looking for a good text‑to‑speech program that my 11‑year‑old with Down Syndrome could use.  He really struggles with writing.  Thanks in advance.” 

And so I think I’ll just start this question off here in the room.  First thing is don’t discount the need for potentially a full‑blown assistive technology evaluation.  Sometimes getting an evaluation, whether that’s through school, as in this case with your 11‑year‑old, they’re probably in the K‑12 environment.  A lot of the school districts will provide assistive technology evaluation; but perhaps if you’re homeschooled, you may have to pay for a private evaluation. 

And what that does is that really helps folks connect with a professional in the field who’s kind of aware and should have a good working knowledge of all of the different speech‑to‑text programs that are out there.  And so don’t discount the need for a full AT evaluation to start with because that may be best. 

Because, again, not only are you looking for the product, but you want the product to work well for the kid in the environment that they’re in.  And so depending on what the different types of things they might use at school, whether they’re using Chromebooks or iPads or computers, different programs, different apps we’ll be able to provide the tools that this particular child is needing.  So think about getting an AT evaluation would certainly be something to think about.

>> TRACY:  And, Brian, can I add that if they get it through their school, that information gets put on their IEP.  So it’ll stick with them.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right, right, yeah.  In the IEP, process, yeah, that gets put into their plan.  And then that means, really, that is kind of is the guiding document as they go through school for the accommodations that they have; right?

>> TRACY:  Exactly.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Perfect.

Now, to talk about a couple of the things that are out there for folks, just kind of open this up to folks.  Different types of software programs, other kinds of things that folks might want to look at?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  So there’s a lot of stuff out there.  I mean, kind of like Brian said starting with an AT evaluation is probably a good thing.  Because a lot of kids, even 11‑year‑olds at school may supply something, a computer, a Chromebook, an iPad.  I know every school’s kind of a little bit different and does a little bit different things.  But depending on what you’re using would probably depend on, you know, what kind of accommodations you might want to put in there. 

Also I see they’re looking for a text‑to‑speech program and that there’s issues with writing?  So probably something that also had the speech‑to‑text or predictive text or something like that.  So maybe something that has a few extra kind of features.  So, I mean, if they’re using an iPad, there’s built‑ins that can either understand what you’re saying or read everything back on the screen to you that can kind of do both with some pretty simple, simple controls.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  If they’re using any sort of tablet device, I know that Android ones have those things, too.  And one of these days I promise I’ll pick up an Android tablet and learn how to use it.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  They offer predictive text, right?


>> BRIAN NORTON:  I know in the iPad, they have deep learning that’s in the background of that particular tool and feature.  And so as you use it, it’s learning and learning and learning and getting better and better at doing that predictive text for you.  So that’s certainly something to look at.

>> TRACY:  Well, if they’re using the Chromebooks, they can always use the Read&Write Gold Chrome extensions.  So I think that’s an idea.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, as far as the Read&Write Gold, yeah, that is a Chrome extension.  In fact, there’s several Chrome extensions out there.  But depending upon that person’s level of articulation, it will take some time and patience.  It’s not like using Dragon or some of these other speech‑to‑text programs.  But it’s pretty good.  It’s not ‑‑ it does a really good job.  But it does take some time and some patience, but it’s definitely usable.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Brian, isn’t dictation built into Google Docs on a Chromebook?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  It is, yeah.  So Microsoft Office and Google Docs offers built‑in speech recognition.  Or voice recognition.  So certainly something to think about. 

In fact, I’ve been pretty impressed.  They don’t necessarily use their own recognition engine back there, like its own ability to do it.  They’re using artificial intelligence at this point.  So it’s sending text out to the Internet or to the cloud and it’s being transcribed out there and sent back to your device.  And so it works pretty well.  And I’m telling you what, artificial intelligence, when it kind of marries into the dictation, I’ve been pretty impressed with how it works.

>> TRACY:  I’ve actually used for myself the Edge program where they have, I think it’s Talk Aloud?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Uh‑huh.

>> TRACY:  And I like that program.  You just open up ‑‑ you can even open up PDFs that are already on your computer through Edge.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Is that the browser?  The Edge browser?

>> TRACY:  Yes.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Oh, really?  I didn’t realize that.

>> TRACY:  I believe it’s called Read Aloud.  You can run it through.  It reads it as fast or slow as you need it.  It’s good for proofreading, as well.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Sure.  And the Edge browser, that’s on?

>> TRACY:  That would be a Microsoft product.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Microsoft 10.  Yep.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Anything Windows 10? 

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yep, yep.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  That’s interesting.  I didn’t realize you could open up a PDF within that and just have it read for you.  That’s great.  Perfect.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  And then the other thing is if they are using a Chromebook, there’s tons of Chrome plug‑ins that you can put in there to have things read to you.  Because there’s all different kinds of voices.  Most of them are usually free or at least offer some sort of free trial or something like that.  So you might want to try those.  As well as some different kind of voice activated ones and speech‑to‑text features, as well.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, Josh, you mentioned the one built into Google.  Google Docs.  It’s called voice typing.  If you click on Tools within Google Docs, you’ll just have kind of a switch to be able to turn that on.  So really, really useful tool.

So those are a few different text‑to‑speech‑‑‑ or, I’m sorry, not text‑to‑speech but speech‑to‑text programs that folks may be able to look into or use. 

I would love to know from our listeners what you guys are using for similar situations to this.  Again, we’re looking for speech‑to‑text programs.  And to be able to help with writing.

I think speech to text has become really kind of an important part of everybody’s lives as far as using mobile devices so that if you’re able to speak to a device, most of the folks that I talk with, as they’re doing text messages or sending emails or doing those things on your mobile devices, they’re just using dictation to make that happen.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I do feel like we kind of skipped over.  Dragon NaturallySpeaking is still a really good one.  I mean, especially if there’s any sort of speech impediment or anything like that.  Dragon’s going to learn how to ignore that or how to work through that by going back and making corrections.  It will take a little more time.  Probably be some more training kind of involved.  That’s why maybe that AT eval might be a good way to go.  But, I mean, just depending upon how the individual speaks and kind of how they talk Dragon might be ‑‑ even though it’s a lot more expensive than all the free stuff we’re talking about ‑‑ it might just end up being more useful and less frustrating in the long run.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, you know, I think we maybe kind of centered in on iPad and Chrome because in the K‑12 environment, they’re so prevalent.  But you’re right.  Dragon NaturallySpeaking has been around for a long time and really kind of leads the market when you think about speech‑to‑text software programs. 

So if you’re doing voice input, if you haven’t tried Dragon, Dragon’s pretty amazing and really kind of pushes the envelope as far as how that technology works.  And it really gives you complete access to the computer.  Definitely take a look at that.

I want to give our listeners just the ways to get ahold of us to learn more about what you guys are using.  The first is our Listener Line.  That’s (317) 721‑7124.  Or an email, mail.  Or send us a tweet with a hashtag #ATFAQ.  We’d love to hear from you.  Thanks. 


All right.  So our next question is:  OT friends, they’re looking for OTs.  And we’ll talk about that here in a second.  “But what utensils would you recommend for someone with hand tremors similar to individuals with Parkinson’s?  Do weighted utensils work?  Has anyone tried Liftware?” 

And I’ll be the first to admit we don’t have an OT on our team here at Easterseals Crossroads.  We do have them in the building and we do consult with them quite a bit.  So we do have a medical division here where we do OT, PT, speech.  Mostly for younger folks.  But we do tap into them.  And I did talk with them a little bit about this particular question just to get their answers out there for us. 

But, again, specifically on our team here, we didn’t have any OTs, so I had to kind of reach out for this question.  And, really, I don’t know if you’ve looked at but Liftware is an option.  There’s two different versions.  There’s Steadiware and Level ware.  And probably in this particular situation you’re probably looking at using Steadiware if that’s what you want to look into because it actually adjusts for tremors.  And so, Josh, more about Steadiware and Level ware?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yes.  Like you said, Steadiware will sit there and actually has almost, I don’t know.  A gyroscope in it?  Is kind of what it looks like.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Kind of what I call it.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  You really think about it just to kind of describe it because I know it’s really hard to so things over a podcast, but as your hand is moving, the spoon itself it’s staying completely level.  Whatever you got on it will stay there.  You can get it up to your mouth and be able to do it without losing everything on the spoon. 

Whereas the Level ware, which if you ever get a chance to play with it is fun.  Because no matter how you move your hand, any way, up, down, left, right, any kind of movement, the spoon stays level.  Like it’s got a little microprocessor in there and magic, maybe, I’m not sure.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  It’s really wild to try to get it to flip itself upside down.

>> TRACY:  It really is.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  It becomes almost a challenge to see if you can spill the spoon.  It’s not an easy task to really kind of pull off. 

And we’ve used them and played with them quite a bit here in kind of a testing out kind of fashion but never really used them on a day‑to‑day kind of basis thing. 

And then, Brian, I know you said that there might be some kind of issues with it or people have had some concerns before?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, I have heard concerns over the cost.  Obviously, they’re going to be a little bit more expensive than just weighted utensils.  But they’re not terribly expensive.  I think $100, couple hundred bucks will purchase the spoon or fork.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  That’s still an expensive spoon, Brian.  I don’t know what you’re eating on at your house.  But that is an expensive spoon.

>> TRACY:  I guess the other one’s silver.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  I’ve heard some concerns over customer service.  And sometimes losing its power after extended use.  Like, it will no longer keep a charge, those kinds of things.  But to be honest, we’ve had ours in our loan library or demo units for a while and we haven’t had any problems with them.  So definitely something to check out.  And maybe even borrow from the loan library. 

And you can do that, you can go to and then be able to request our library and then you can request a demonstration of those.  We don’t actually loan those out to anybody for extended periods of time just because of ‑‑ just dealing with keeping sanitary ‑‑ making sure it’s sanitary.  We don’t want people eating with it and then passing it on to the next person.  So we do keep that in mind with that. 

But you could request a demonstration and we can kind of show you what they look like, get your hands on it, kind of test it out a little bit, see what you think.  So you can do that and so you can set that up through our library, set up a demo to be able to take a look at it.

The other option you have, really, is to try weighted utensils or wrist weights.  And I’ve heard basically essentially they’re just heavier utensils.  And the heavier they are, it kind of puts some force or tension back on that person’s wrist so that you can adjust for some of those tremors that the person experiences. 

And so some of the issues that we’ve heard about with those, though, is, you know, obviously you’re adding weight.  And then that can increase the person’s fatigue.  So depending upon how long that activity is taking, after extended use, you know, you may experience a little fatigue that might set in.

You might also find that some folks kind of ‑‑ especially, I’m kind of jumping back here to the Steadiware utensil, I think it’s safe to say that as you hold that, it does vibrate in your hands.  And some folks with that particular utensil get a little bit freaked out by the vibrations.  And so that can cause some issues.  And so that’s always a consideration, as well.

So a couple of things.  Try the Liftware utensils.  But then also look into weighted utensils.  You can find those at lots of different places, lots of different stores, OT‑related equipment.  Sammons Preston, Allied Health, those kinds of places would probably have those types of devices for you to be able to try out. 

And I know, again, think about calling your local AT Act.  You can, again, find your local AT Act by going to  Then you can plug in the name of your state.  It’s going to bring up the name of your state program.  And then see if they have anything that you can get a demo or potentially borrow from them to be able to give it a try.  Just a couple of things with that.

We’d love to open it up to our listeners.  If anybody has experience with this, maybe something different than Liftware or weighted utensils or wrist weights, let us know.  We’d love to hear from you.  You can give us a call on our listener line.  That’s (317) 721‑7124 or send us an email at  Thanks.


All right.  So our next question is:  “Hello.  I’ve got a bilingual student.  This is English and Portuguese that is currently using Google Translate to communicate at school.  She has a very quiet voice, so the microphone option is not working well in louder areas.  Are there other translation apps I could try?  Is there a microphone I can attach to her iPad so she could use it more effectively?  Any thoughts?  Thanks for any suggestions.”

And so, Josh, I know you have gone to bat or brought up Microsoft Translator before?  Is that an option?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  It is, it is.  And I use it a lot, too.  Now it’s going to be a lot like Google Translate.  That might not help with a really soft voice. 

What I like about it is that you can have two‑way conversation with someone else using a different device.  If she’s using an iPad, as long as she’s connected to the Internet, somebody else can use their iPhone, their Android phone, their Android tablet, their computer, their MacBook, really, whatever they’ve got, they can just open up Translator.  You start a conversation with them, either type in a code or scan a little QR code that you have on your phone and you’re talking back and forth in different languages.  And it will actually speak out the language to you.  So if she’s talking into her phone in Portuguese and it comes up in English on your device, it’ll say the things in English so if you can’t read it very easily, it can kind of get around that, as well.

But as far as with the really soft voice, I would say that would probably be kind of more what you’d have to do because sometimes if you’re really trying for good translation, you may want to use both just depending on ‑‑


>> JOSH ANDERSON: ‑‑ the situation.  Because even folks I used Translator with, they’ve said like most especially AI‑powered translation, it’s very literal.  It doesn’t take the nuances of language into it.  So if you say “hi, how are you doing today”?  It may use the ‑‑ oh, I don’t really know any Portuguese at all, but I assume if it’s anything like Spanish and the other kind of romance languages, it kind of has the friendly version of things and the more kind of proper version of things.  And sometimes it’ll mess those up.

But as far as microphones, there’s all different kinds.  If for her iPad happens to still have the old school ‑‑

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Microphone jack?  Or ear bud jack?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah, headphone jack.  There’s one called an IK multimedia iRig mic Cast voice something.  It’s like iRig Cast is what it says on it.  It’s a little tiny thing.  Plugs right in and does a great job getting sound and they’re like $30.  They don’t cost very much.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.  We’ve recommended those a lot in situations where we’ve got kids taking notes in classes.  And they’re using their iPad to be able to record the audio.  Especially with like the LiveScribe 3 pen or other audio recording devices, those microphones do a really great job of picking up sound.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yep.  Especially with a soft voice.  Because she can hold it closer and still be able to use the device to translate everything.

If she doesn’t, then you can always use that little weird dongle thing that will change the thing and that could still make it work:

There’s a lot of other ones.  There’s Bluetooth ones that you can use that work really well that you can kind of attach to your lapel to get the sound to it.  They just cost a lot more.  I like the iRig one because it’s, like I said, like $30.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Very inexpensive.  It works really well.  It’s plug and play.  You plug it in and, boom, it’s working for you.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  You can find that on Amazon, right?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  On Amazon.  You find it like if you have a Guitar Center or anything like that down the road.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Music stores?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah, music stores and places usually sell them because a lot of people use them for recording music and things on their devices also.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Cool.  You know, I have not tried this particular solution before, but on Android devices, there’s something called Live Transcribe.  And I believe it works very similar to the way Microsoft Translator works and can actually transcribe or do that translation for different languages right on an Android device.  So depending on what you have, you might be able to try that with them.

Then there’s another app that I heard a lot about as I was doing some research on this and I’ve heard it’s pretty good.  It’s called Interact Streamer App.  It’s a captioning and translation app.  Not only does it caption it but probably looks pretty similar to the way Microsoft Translator does because Microsoft Translator is actually writing it out for you and translating it in realtime.  And so don’t know much about it, but I’ve heard it’s a pretty good app, so you might check that one out, as well.

But then I don’t want to disregard or skip over the fact that depending on the situation, it may be the best solution to be able to get an interpreter, someone who can really just be in person in the room providing translation for the person because, again, I think, Josh, you mentioned it, there’s a lot of nuances to the languages and how things are said.  There’s inflection in our voices.  And just getting text printed out doesn’t give you that kind of feedback.

And, you know, if an interpreter’s in the room, they’re picking up things that may be going on around you.  And if you’re in a classroom and you’re listening and trying to ‑‑ a person’s asking a question in the back of the room, you want to be able to know that something was happening there and you can get a little bit probably more feedback from the interpreter in the room than you can just by using an app or something like that.

I would say the apps are good enough nowadays where I think in a pinch they work well.  But you might consider getting an interpreter just to make sure everything is covered.  And that might be a required accommodation by the school district.  Something to think about and talk about during your IEP, Individualized Education Plan, meetings with the school district to think about that as a part of it.

>> TRACY:  Well, I’m going back to the nuances.  As I’m learning Spanish, as many people know, my family is coming from the Dominican Republic and a lot of them do not speak English.  And I am learning Spanish on the fly.  And sometimes I am not very good at it.  Someone wrote to me “yo quero mucho.”

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  You’re very good?

>> TRACY:  No.  Yo quero mucho, which means ”I want you.”  If you read it, it says “I want you.”  But actually just means “I love you.”  So, anyhow, that was one of my ‑‑ it freaked me out at first.


I was like where do you want me to go?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, right, right, right.

>> TRACY:  Anyhow, yeah, so I think what she has is she’s comfortable with the Google Translate.  So I think it might just be getting one of those microphones that Josh was speaking about.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  That might work.  That might work just fine because none of them are going to be perfect.  Like translation.  So, yeah, really just making sure that her voice can be heard.

>> TRACY:  And once you get comfortable with an app, it’s kind of hard to move from it.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right. 

Have any of you guys used the Pilot earbuds?

>> TRACY:  Me?  No.  I want to, though.  I’d like to borrow them.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah, I know we have them.  But I haven’t actually got to use them.  What they do is you speak into them and it will actually translate automatically.

>> TRACY:  Right.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  By AI.  Supposed to be half a second.  Send it to up the cloud and it comes right back down.  If you have one pair of them, you can share them with somebody.  So you give someone one headphone, they put it in their ear; and you take the other one put it in your ear and you talk in your native languages and it just translates right straight into their ear.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Really?  Okay.  That’s cool.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  But my thing only that I wonder is with that soft voice, I don’t know how much it would pick up being all the way in someone else’s ear as far as being able to get that to them.  So that could be a little bit of an issue with that. 

I haven’t been able to play with them, though, so I don’t know.  But if it’s a quiet environment, I bet they would work fine.  Even with a quiet voice but in a loud environment I’m afraid they’d pick up everybody else’s conversation.

>> TRACY:  I don’t think that would work in a school setting then.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Probably not.  Probably not.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  I did bring them home at one point when we first got them here as part of our demo equipment here with the INDATA Project.  And what I found with it was I had my daughter speak some Spanish to me.

>> TRACY:  Right.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  It did get it, but she had to go slow.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Oh really?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Very slow.  So we had to make sure that we were a little, we went pretty slow when we were doing that, going back and forth with that.  And it did do a pretty good job, but it was very slow.  So you have to take that into account.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I wonder does that do with ‑‑ is it connected to WiFi?  Do you have it connect it to your WiFi?  Or how does that work?

>> TRACY:  How does it get its information?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah, how does it get its information?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  It’s connected to an app on your phone, so their Bluetooth headsets.  And so they’re connected to an app on your phone.  And then on the app, you can basically say one ear bud’s listening in English, the other one is listening in another language.  And then so it goes back and forth that way, but it’s all controlled with an app.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  In that case, then, maybe the voice would be fine.  Maybe you could have it use the phone as the microphone and then maybe voice wouldn’t even be an issue.

Also, I wonder with it using artificial intelligence, I wonder if that gets better as time goes on.  Do you know what I mean?  If it’s kind of slow now, it gets better and smarter.

>> TRACY:  I don’t know.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I don’t know, either.

>> TRACY:  I bring out my Microsoft Translator all the time.  Especially if I’m sitting in the living room and my husband or his mom are speaking to one another.  And I turn it on.  It doesn’t catch much. 

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Too fast?  They’re speaking too fast?

>> TRACY:  Yes, they’re speaking ‑‑ yeah.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah, and that can kind of happen.  I mean, I talk fast, too.  So there’s times that it misses even what I say in English when it’s transcribing or translating.  But I think it’s just the artificial intelligence.  It will get better. 

>> TRACY:  Right.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  But, really, whenever you’re communicating with someone who speaks a different language it’s just kind of common courtesy to maybe just bring it down.  Slow it down just a hair.

>> TRACY:  I wonder, too, if there’s kind of a nervousness about it, as well.  If a person is trying to use a device to communicate and then their voice may just get smaller as they’re getting nervous.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  True, true.

>> TRACY:  You’re not hearing them.  And maybe it could also be that you should slow down while you’re trying to use the device.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right, right.  Yeah.  I think that technology is going to come a long way in the next several years as we use it more.  But right now it’s kind of a little bit in its infancy.  And so speaking slow.  Articulating as much as you can.  It’s going to be an important part of making sure that it accurately transcribes and translates what you’re speaking.  So definitely be thinking about that. 

Would love to hear from other folks, as well.  Just in this particular situation.  If you’ve ever worked with a student who’s speaking a different language and is trying to be able to be active in class, definitely let us know what you guys have used.  Would love to hear from you.  You can do that through our Listener Line.  That’s (317) 721‑7124.  Or through our email,  Love to hear from you.  Take care.


All right.  So our next question is:  “Does anyone have recommendations for a Spanish word prediction app for either Chrome OS or Apple IOS?”  And so, Tracy, you were talking to me earlier just about the iPhone that’s built‑in stuff?

>> TRACY:  Yes.  So I use the built‑in stuff that’s on the iPhone when I’m texting my family.  I just set up another language in my general settings.  Do you want me to tell you how I did it?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah.  Is it a part of the keyboard?  Or is it part of the predictive text or how does that work?

>> TRACY:  Well, you know on your keyboard when you’re texting someone?  There’s like this little globe‑looking thing?


>> TRACY:  So you can push that down and select either the emoji keyboard or English.  On mine, when I push it down.  It says the emoji keyboard, English or Espanol.


>> TRACY:  Sometimes I’ll notice I’ll have it in Spanish rather than English.  So when I’m typing Brian, things in Spanish pop up in my predictive text.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Oh, really?

>> TRACY:  I thought about sending them over, but I wasn’t really sure what they meant.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  You probably should.  I spell his name Brain, like, a third of the time.

>> TRACY:  No, Nikol taught me how not to do that.  Bri‑An.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Does it change the keyboard?  It’s not just, A, B, C, D, E, F, G?

>> TRACY:  It’s going to be your same keyboard.  Like, if you needed the different characters, you would just hold the button down and it will show you the different characters for each letter.  Exactly.  Or like if you’re writing a question, you know, you could put the proper question marks.  Like one of them is actually upside down.  Didn’t understand that, but, you know, okay, cool.  Whatever.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  That’s great.

>> TRACY:  Anyways, I mean, goes back and forth, just English, Spanish or the emoji.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Cool.  And I’m sure there’s other language you could probably do, as well; is that right?

>> TRACY:  Oh, yes, there was a whole list of them.  Of course, they have the ‑‑ when you pick the keyboard you want to use, you can pick like American Spanish or Mexican Spanish or however.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Whatever dialect?

>> TRACY:  Dialect, that’s the word I’m looking for, yeah.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Very cool.

>> TRACY:  I use that on the daily.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Cool.  A couple other ones I want to throw out here that I’ve come across before.  Keedogo Plus from AssistiveWare.  And then there’s also ‑‑ I’m sorry a Keeble keyboard from AssistiveWare, as well.  Those are both iOS keyboards that use predictive text and they come in 10 different languages.  So you could do Spanish, you could do German.  You can also, let’s see what all.  English Spanish, French Dutch, Czech, German, Italian, Norwegian, Polish or Swedish.  So Keedogo Plus or the Keeble keyboard from AssistiveWare.  And those will allow you to do, again, predictive text and some other things for being able to produce language there.  So check those out, as well.  Those are for iOS devices.

I did look on the Google Chrome store and didn’t see anything specifically for it.  But I do know Co:Writer, which is something that we’ve talked about here before on the show.

>> TRACY:  Yeah, I remember that conversation.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Co:Writer is a predictive text type of application.  And you can use that in different languages, as well.  And so as you type, what’s really kind of cool about Co:Writer, Co:Writer not only predicts text, but you can also have context‑sensitive prediction, as well.  So you can choose the dictionary from which it’s going pull information.  So if you’re talking about a particular topic like history or whatever, you can have a specific set of terms that it’s pulling from when it’s trying to do the predictive text.  And so Co:Writer is certainly an option.  Keeble keyboard is certainly an option.  Keedogo Plus.

But then again, like Tracy, you mentioned earlier using the iPhone’s built‑in auto correct and its keyboard, the Spanish keyboard that you can enable, as well.

>> TRACY:  And I use those hand‑in‑hand with Translator, as well.  So if I’m really confused on what the word should be, I’ll look it up in Translator first and then go from there.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  I do want to open this up to the rest of our listeners.  Maybe you guys have come across a different way to do word prediction.  But maybe in different languages.  Love to hear about the different apps that you might use.  We talked about Co:Writer, Keeble, Keedogo, the iPhone, the built‑in stuff.  Would love to hear from you about what you have come across.  Give us a call on our Listener Line, that’s (317) 721‑7124.  Or you can send us a tweet with the hashtag #ATFAQ.  We’d love to hear from you.  So we look forward to that.  Thanks.


All right.  So our next question is:  “Can someone recommend a program like SnapType on an iPad that works with a Chromebook?”

You know, SnapType, just for those folks who aren’t familiar with SnapType, what it allows you to do is to be able to use the camera on your phone or your iPad, any of your mobile devices that have a camera, snap a picture of a document.  It’ll pull it up into the app and then you can simply just take your finger and press anywhere on that document to add in a text field and then fill in answers. 

So in this particular situation, I use it a lot in K‑12 environments.  So if kids are getting worksheets in class and they’re having difficulty being able to write or do something like that, they can use their iPad or mobile device to be able to go ahead and snap a picture of that worksheet, puts it onto the document within the app, on the device within the app.  And then they’re able to then fill out those answers.  And then at the end, you can then send it as a PDF to your teacher.  And so that’s kind of what SnapType does.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  So, Brian, ‑‑


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  So here’s the thing.  So SnapType is available on Android and iOS; right?

>> BRIAN HORTON:  Correct.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Depending on your Chromebook, you should be able to get to the Google Play store and just download SnapType.  I think it has to be newer ones and they might have to be touchscreen.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Is it an extension for the browser?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  No.  It’s just ‑‑

>> TRACY:  It’s an app.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  It’s just an app.

But newer Chromebooks, you can get into the Google Play Store and download Android apps.  Now, I’ve never tried it on a Chromebook, so I’m not positive that it would work.  But it’s a good way to try.  I know it has a free version and a paid version.  So maybe you could download the free version, give it a shot and see if that kind of works.  But if it’s what you’re already used to using and what you’re used to using, maybe that would be a thing to try.  That’s what I would try first.


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I’ve had some luck with some folks.  I had some Chromebooks that won’t even let you get into the Play Store depending on their school.  If it’s a school computer or a school Chromebook, you might not be able to get the Play Store on there.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  My daughter’s iPads ‑‑ or, I’m sorry, their Chromebooks are completely locked down.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  So whenever you try to watch YouTube, it won’t let you?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  But I would assume if you’re looking for it, you could probably bring it to whoever the resource folks are at your school.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I would think so. 

>> BRIAN NORTON: And they should be able to unlock it allow you to get whatever adaptive technology you might need.  And so that’s certainly something to look into.  But I didn’t think about some of newer Chromebooks who may ‑‑ I didn’t realize they let you get to the app store.  But that’s great.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah, because I’ve used quite a few apps on them before, and it’s been helpful.  Because it used to be you had to go to, I can’t remember, like the Chrome app store or something like that they had it called.  But then they just realized, hey, we’ve got all these great Android apps that could work on this.  Like I said, not all of them work really well.  Sometimes especially, you know, since SnapType kind of has the touch feature and everything, you might not be able to use the track pad.  But if it’s a touchscreen and it allows for the Google Play Store, I don’t know why that wouldn’t just let you put it on there and work.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right, yeah, no, that’s a great idea. 

I kind of was thinking just in the extension realm, like any kind of Chromebook or Google extensions that you might be able to get to?  I know Read&Write has something called Snap Vertex.  It’s kind of an add‑on program that lets you be able to take a picture of something.  It performs OCR and loads it up as a document.  And then once that’s in a document form, I believe you could go in and actually edit the document, add in information, maybe answers that they’re looking for. 

Then the other thing is I know Google Docs has built‑in OCR, as well.  So if you’re able to port that up into a Google Doc or upload it to Google Docs, I believe you might be able to do some OCR to be able to get that document in text form and be able to edit and do some things with this.

I heard about a program called KAMI, K‑A‑M‑I.  I don’t know a lot about that one.  But, Josh, do you know that one very well?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I mean, I’ve never actually used it.  I’m just going off kind of looking it up and kind of checking it out.

But everything I see, it’s got tools and everything where you can complete documents, where you can kind of draw on them or type on them really anywhere into the document and annotate, all kinds of different stuff. 

So what it looks like is you snap a picture of something and then you can manipulate it with text, with drawing and things like that.  Then save it and either print it or send it off, which is exactly what SnapType does.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right, right, yeah.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  So it kind of looks like it might be pretty darn useful.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  So check out KAMI, K‑A‑M‑I, would be an option there. 

Another one to try would be Claro read Cloud OCR?  We use ClaroRead products here.  And we have had some pretty good success with them.  I don’t think they get kind of the merit they deserve as next to Kurzweil and some of the other programs that are out there.  But they do a really good job. 

And so ClaroRead Cloud OCR is another way to take a document, do OCR on it.  Get it into a text document to be able to manipulate those documents.  Add your answers in.  Annotate those as you might need.

And then you know the other one is OneNote.  I wasn’t sure if OneNote does that or not or allows you to do that.  Thoughts on that?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  So, I know you can snap a picture with Office Lens, import that into OneNote and have everything read back to you with Immersive Reader.  But I don’t know if it’s ‑‑ if you can manipulate it.  I’ve never tried it.  I’ve never really tried it before.  It would be great if you could do that. 

But also I don’t know if OneNote’s limited on a Chromebook?  You know, I don’t know that.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  I don’t know.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I don’t know if all features are kind of available. 

>> BRIAN NORTON:  That’s a good question.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I would think so?  Probably especially if you’re doing it through the browser.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Through the cloud, yeah.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I would kind of think that you would probably have all those different kinds of features.  But I’ve never tried to manipulate it once after snapping a picture and kind of put it in there.  I’m trying to see how many times I can say manipulate.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Manipulate.

>> TRACY:  I’ve snapped pictures with Office Lens, and it added them to my notebooks in the different sections.  You know, it just puts it on own set ‑‑ each group of pictures is on its own separate page.  And there’s no editing afterwards.  You can crop the picture.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Does it save it as a JPEG or a PDF?

>> TRACY:  It’s going to be saved as a PDF.


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  It can read it.  It can usually pull up the text and read it.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Don’t if you can go in and edit it or manipulate it.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Manipulate it.  I know in some of these ‑‑ and I don’t even know if it’s the ones you named ‑‑ but sometimes I’ve had issues where you import especially a worksheet or something and then you try to go back and maybe, you know, type in the information because you’re using voice to text.  You can’t physically, you know, write them in because of your needs.  And it doesn’t get you to the right spot.  You know, if it’s just a simple question with a line after it, question with a line after it, it’s pretty easy.  But if it’s something like, you know, I think of like anatomy class where it’s got a picture of a skull with all these lines coming out of each little part of it.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Actually trying to get the right answer on the right line could be a bit of a nightmare. 

I know SnapType does really well.  You just touch right where you want it to write, you type it in and you’re all good.  But I know even like Word Documents can sometimes be a pain if you’re trying to do those kind of things. 

But it’s one of those no matter what you kind of try out on ‑‑ hopefully there’s a free version you can try first or maybe something you can borrow from the loan library on a Chromebook to kind of give it a shot first just to make sure that it allows you to actually access what you’re trying to get to.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Right, right. 

You know, I would love to open this up to our listeners.  Perhaps you’ve used OneNote.  Maybe you guys have had some experience with doing what ‑‑ kind of what we’re talking about, being able to kind of upload a document and then be able to make annotations, add answers in, those kinds of things, maybe some of the tools that we’ve talked about here, Read&Write with Snap Vertex add‑on.  Kami, what the program is, ClaroRead Cloud OCR, those kinds of things, let us what you guys have used to make some of that happen.  We’d love to be able to hear from you on that.  Our phone number is (317) 721‑7124.  Or you can give us a call on our Listener Line.  That’s (317) 721‑7124.  Or send us an email at  We’d love to hear from you.  Thanks so much.


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  And now it’s time for the wildcard question. 

>> BRIAN NORTON:  All right.  So our next question is the wildcard question.  And because Belva’s not here today, I’ve passed the baton to Josh.  So, Josh, what kind of wildcard do you have for us today?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  This is the kind of a wildcard wildcard question because I didn’t even prepare the wildcard question for the question you haven’t prepared for.


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  But I do actually have a question.

>> TRACY:  Can I have a diagram?  I need a diagram.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Hang on.  We’ll get a flowchart going here in just a minute.

No, so, I know you guys kind of talked about iOS 13 and all these new accessibility features.


>> JOSH ANDERSON:  If you really think about it, the iPhone’s a consumer good.  It’s not made to be assistive technology.  It just happens to kind of help along with those things. 

So technology is coming a long ways, and there’s a lot of new things in the works or kind of coming out.  What are you most looking forward to coming out that’s going to really help folks with disabilities but maybe isn’t made for them?  I’ll give you three seconds.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, you know, I’ll go ahead and jump in with that.  You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about the upgrades that have come with iOS 13 on the iPad.  I mean voice control, mouse access.  You got a speech controller to be able to speak any of the text on there.  Voiceover is a piece of it.  It’s a magnifier.  It really is what I like to refer to as Batman’s Tool Belt for assistive technology.

The challenge I have, though, is we’ve been doing assistive technology here at Easterseals Crossroads since 1979.  And technology has been around for a long time.  And as we go out and we meet with folks, they’re still using computers.  They’re still using Windows computers, Mac computers.  And so, really, moving someone towards something that ‑‑ a device like an iPad or an Android advice that has similar technology built into it, similar accessibility built into it, it’s a hard sell to move someone to a new platform.  That may, and really does have a lot of accessibility built right into it. 

And I think ‑‑ I don’t know when I’ll see that shift from traditional computer systems into more mobile devices?  I think I’ve started to see some shift, especially now that schools have started to uses iPads more and tablets more within the K‑1 environment. 

But I think we’re missing out a lot on some of these accessibility tools that are free, they’re built into the device.  And they’re really game changers, especially with this new release.  I really do believe that some of the things that are in the new device, the new iOS system, are really game changers for folks with disabilities because it really does let you get access to the device in a unique way, through voice, through the mouse. 

But, again, I don’t know when that switch will be flipped to where people really look at it as their productive computer, their ‑‑ the thing that they use all the time in the workplace, at school and other kinds of places.  But I don’t know. 

I’m really excited about that.  But I’m looking forward to the day when people really start looking and using those devices as:  This is their productivity tool.  This is what I use day in and day out.

So, that’s kind of me. 

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Okay.  I’ll go ahead and go next.  So I’m going to go with self‑driving cars.  Just because I know for a lot of folks I’ve worked with, especially coming from employment, transportation is one of the biggest barriers that there is out there.  And, I mean, we’ve seen things like food delivery, grocery delivery, stuff like that’s been able to help out a little bit.  But, I mean, especially if you get out of the main, you know, city area, the main hub, transportation options just kind of go down and down and down.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  It’s a barrier, big time.

>> TRACY:  Yes.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I do even live that ‑‑ well, I do live pretty far out of the city and kind of in the country a little bit.  But, I mean, if you open an Uber app, there’s nothing, nothing for miles.  You can’t even get one.

>> TRACY:  Oh, I would be so nervous.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I know.  It drives folks ‑‑ I stay home a lot.  No, I’m just kidding.  But like nothing delivers out there. 

But for people with disabilities, transportation can be such a challenge that I can see self‑driving cars really opening up the door for a lot of individuals, that they could even have a vehicle that could drive itself.  They could just tell it where they need to go and, boom, it just kind of takes them there. 

Me personally?  I still drive a stick shift and will never give that up and don’t want a car that drives itself.  It kind of freaks me out. 

But as far as technology that’s coming down the pipeline, I think that’s something that could really open up some doors and open up a whole new world for individuals with disabilities.

>> TRACY:  Okay, well, I hate to follow this up with this answer, but I’m more techie.  I don’t get out there in the field and deal with people with disabilities.  We usually just refurbish things.  But my thing is I want a touchscreen that works when your hands are wet, that’s all.   

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  That’s a really good idea.  She likes to use the computer in the shower a lot.  That’s how devoted Tracy is to her job.


>> TRACY:  I find it very frustrating in the kitchen cooking with my phone, I use my phone for the recipe, of course.  But my hands are wet.  And my phone goes to sleep.  And I try to tap on my phone and go back to the app I’m using and it doesn’t work because my hands are wet.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  So I think Brian answered your question.

>> TRACY:  Did he?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Voice control for iPhone and iPad.

>> TRACY:  Voice control.  Tell me about that.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Then you don’t have to use your hands.

>> TRACY:  A little bit.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Yeah, voice control, you don’t have to use your hands anymore to be able to access it.  You can swipe left, swipe right, ‑‑

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  You can wake it up if it goes to sleep.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Swipe up, swipe down, scroll up, scroll down.  You can just have numbers show up on the device.  You can just say the number of the app that’s got a little tag next to it.

>> TRACY:  So would it wake it up if it’s in lock screen?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  It does.  You can say wake up or go to sleep.  Yeah.  It’s really remarkable what they’ve done with it.  So try that.

>> TRACY:  I will.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Now, it still isn’t a touchscreen.  It’s voice access.

>> TRACY:  I just need it to open back up when my hands are wet and there’s chicken waiting for the next part of the instructions. 

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  And we just answered a frequently asked question during a question.  Do you see that?

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Nice question.  Perfect.  That’s awesome, Josh.  Hey, thank you for that wildcard.  That was a really good wildcard that you came up on the spur of the moment.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah, I sure did.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Nice job.

Hey, if you guys want to send us your questions, I just want to throw this out here at the end of the show, give us a call on our Listener Line.  That’s (317) 721‑7124.  Send us a tweet at the hashtag #ATFAQ or email us at  We’d love to hear from you.  In fact without your questions or your feedback, we really don’t have a show.  So be a part of it.  I want to thank you.  I want to say thank you to Josh and to Tracy for being a part of the show. 

Josh, do you want to say goodbye to our folks?

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Bye, everybody.  Thanks for coming.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  And Tracy?

>> TRACY:  Goodbye, everyone.  Talk to you later.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Tracy, thank you for being a part.

>> TRACY:  Thanks.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  We will look forward to seeing everybody in a couple of weeks.  Take care.  Have a good one and we’ll talk to you then.

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  Bye‑bye.

>> TRACY:  Bye.

* * * * *

>> BRIAN NORTON:  And it seems every week we have at least one blooper.  So here you go…

>> JOSH ANDERSON:  I have a lot of questions about question one.  Oh. 

(Making sounds.)

>> BRIAN NORTON:  Okay, guys.  Okay.

>> TRACY:  Hello.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  See where your microphone is right there?

>> TRACY:  Yeah.

>> BRIAN NORTON:  You want to be like, (Dropped voice very low and sexy:)  Hello. 

Man, man, it’s going to be a long day.  Glad we started early.  Help me.  Okay.  Good gracious.  Okay.  Are we ready to start?


>> TRACY:  Out.

*  *  *  * 

>> 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 with editorial help with Josh Anderson and Belva Smith and receive support from Easterseals Crossroads and the INDATA Project.

ATFAQ is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel.  Find more of our shows at


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