ATFAQ119 – Q1. keyboard and mouse access w/ feet, Q2 – Low Vision Password Managers, Q3 – Telecommunication for Persons w/ Speech difficulties, Q4 – Head-pointers for Touchscreens, Q5 – Tech for Dysgraphia, Q6 – Wildcard Question: How are you remaining connected during the COVID-19 crisis

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Panelists: Brian Norton, Josh Anderson, Belva Smith, Tracy Castillo

ATFAQ119 – Q1. keyboard and mouse access w/ feet, Q2 – Low Vision Password Managers, Q3 – Telecommunication for Persons w/ Speech difficulties, Q4 – Head-pointers for Touchscreens, Q5 – Tech for Dysgraphia, Q6 – Wildcard Question: How are you remaining connected during the COVID-19 crisis

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I have a question.

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Huh?

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What?

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I’ve always wondered …

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What about? Do you know?

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I’ve always wondered …

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I have a question.

Brian Norton:
Welcome to AT FAQ, 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.

Brian Norton:
Have a question you’d like to answer it on our show? Send us a tweet with the hashtag AT FAQ. Call our listener line at 317-721-7124 or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. The world of assistive technology has questions and we have answers. Now let’s jump into today’s show.

Brian Norton:
Hello, and welcome to AT FAQ episode 119. 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 have a great lineup of assistive technology questions for you today, but before we jump into the questions, I just want to take a moment to go around the room and introduce the folks who are not sitting directly here with me, but are coming in through Zoom because as we all are experienced with COVID-19 situation that’s going on across the country, we here in Indiana a part of Easterseals and the IN Data Project, we’re social distancing ourselves.

Brian Norton:
I’m in the studio, but the rest of our team is in their homes on their computers coming in through Zoom. Just want to take a moment to introduce those folks. First is Tracy. Tracy is the program manager for the IN Data Project. Tracy, do you want to say hi?

Tracy Castillo:
Hi everyone! I’m so happy to be here.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Also, we have Belva. Belva’s the vision team lead with our clinical assistive technology program. Belva, you want to say hey?

Belva Smith:
Hey everybody.

Brian Norton:
Perfect. Next is Josh. Josh is the manager of our clinical assistive technology program and also the popular host of AT Update. Josh, you want to say hi?

Josh Anderson:
Hey everybody.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. For those who are new listeners, we just want to tell you a little bit about our show and how it works. We receive feedback and come across various assistive technology related questions throughout the week. Then we go ahead and put that together in a show. We sit around here in the studio and we try to answer those as best we can.

Brian Norton:
There’s a variety of ways for you to ask questions. The first way is our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124 or you can send us an email at tech@eastersealscorssroads.org or send us a tweet with the hashtag AT FAQ. It’s a great way for you guys to ask your assistive technology questions and then we can get those lined up in our show and provide what we think are well-rounded answers.

Brian Norton:
We also rely on your feedback as well. We would love you to use those methods to also provide feedback so that maybe you guys have an answer or some more information to be able to add too what we’re talking about with regard to the questions. Give us a call. Send us an email. Send us a tweet with your feedback as we go through the questions that we have today.

Brian Norton:
If you’re looking for the show, different ways to get to the show, you can find those and the show in a variety of places. You can find that on iTunes. You can go to our website. It’s atfaqshow.com. You can also go to Stitcher or the Google Play store. Now we are also on Spotify as well. Take a look. Find us in those different places. Share it with your friends. Love to have them listen to the show as well. Without further ado, we’re going to jump in.

Brian Norton:
I think it’s interesting. This is the first time we’ve ever done this really remotely. Well, I guess I’m not remote, but everybody else is remote. We all find ourselves with more time on our hands just because it seems like the country has shut down. Hopefully we’ll be able to get back to some sort of normalcy, but there’s a great opportunity to be able to do lots of different things including some professional development. I know I’m listening to lots of podcasts and trying to catch up on some of those things that I haven’t been able to get to because I’ve been so busy with other things.

Brian Norton:
Hopefully this is a great opportunity, if you want, to go back and try to capture some of the old episodes of AT FAQ or Assistive Technology Update. That’s something that we’ve been doing. That’s the hallmark of our podcasting lineup. It’s a news and information show that Josh puts out once a week. About a half an hour long. Then we also have Accessibility Minute. Check those out. Love for you to be able to engage with some of those podcasts that we’re doing here. Without further ado, let’s go ahead and jump into the first question that we have today.

Brian Norton:
The first question is, “A friend of mine lost both of his arms in a work accident 10 years ago. Since that time, he has learned to use a standard keyboard and mouse while using his feet. However, this is a rather less than perfect situation as it’s difficult for him to use. I am wondering if there’s products available for him for easier use of the keyboard and mouse. His situation is complicated because he lives overseas where there are very limited and nonexistent resources for someone like him. Any help you could provide or direct me to would be greatly appreciated.”

Brian Norton:
I’ve actually had a client who was in a similar situation and then one of the solutions that we ended up working for him and he seems to be doing really well would be he is using an IntelliKeys keyboard USB. Now they don’t make the IntelliKeys keyboard anymore, but he was using this IntelliKeys keyboard, which is a large format keyboard. It gives you different overlays that you can slide in. One of the overlays that he was using was a standard QWERTY-style overlay, but it also had the mouse piece in there with it. It also had internet keys built into the overlay as well.

Brian Norton:
The nice thing about that particular keyboard is it had the mouse and the keyboard together, but also they were larger keys. They were about one inch by one inch, which allowed him to be able to better and more effectively use his toes to be able to press the keys that he was using on the keyboard.

Brian Norton:
Secondary to that, he also used the Kensington Expert Mouse. That’s a track-ball mouse and it’s got four programmable buttons around the actual track-ball that you move. I always thought of it as if you’ve ever played the game … I’ll show my age here, but the game Centipede from back in the day. It’s basically like a pool table ball in the middle of a device and you’re simply moving that around. The great thing about it is it requires less range of motion to be able to move that around.

Brian Norton:
With him using his foot, he can just put that in the ball of his foot and be able to move that around and then use those big programmable buttons that are around the track-ball itself to be able to press the buttons, whether that be a double-click, a single click, a right click, or to operate the drag feature which is found in the ease of access center if you use the click lock feature that’s found in there. That’s one of the solutions I’ll throw out there. I don’t know if you can still get the IntelliKeys USB keyboard, but there are similar keyboards out there. I think about the Big Keys LX and they’re just bigger keyed keyboards.

Belva Smith:
Brian, I was wondering. I don’t know. They didn’t mention if he’s using Windows or Mac, did they?

Brian Norton:
They did not. Yeah. Nope, not sure.

Belva Smith:
If it’s Windows, there’s a good possibility that they may find some benefit from just trying to use the Windows speech recognition. Depending upon what it is that he’s trying to do. For example, if he’s just doing some emails and Word documents, especially if he’s running Windows 10, that has a speech recognition app that’s built in to the operating system and I have had really good luck with that. Now, would that be his only method? Probably not. It may be that he would still need to use his developed skills for the keyboard/mouse with the foot, but for the majority of things because you can open and close a program. You can surf the web. You can dictate a document. As far as I know, that does not require any kind of an internet connection.

Brian Norton:
That’s correct. It doesn’t. Nope.

Belva Smith:
Okay. It’s a little easier in my opinion. It’s a little easier to learn than dragging naturally speaking, which would be a program that could be added to his current computer. Again, the Windows Speech Recognition, if you just press the Windows key and type in, ‘speech,’ it’ll bring up the speech recognition application. It’s a very short training process that you go through. Like I said, I’ve had pretty good luck with that. So that’s what I would suggest. I think Mac has the same kind of thing, don’t they? You guys all use Mac.

Josh Anderson:
Mac actually has full voice control now. You can control all aspects of the computer just with your voice. You can bring up numbers and say, ‘Click here. Click there,’ and really control pretty much everything just using your voice in the newest version of Mac.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. It’s pretty remarkable the update that came with the latest operating system on Mac as far as not just on the Mac itself, but being able to do voice control also the iPad with voice control as well. Pretty remarkable that you can use those pretty much hands-free now. It’s all built-in. It’s not something that you necessarily requires the internet. You can download it, I believe the full version of it, to the computer. I think initially it starts out as just web-based where you have to be connected to the web. Then you can download it so that you can use it locally as well.

Tracy Castillo:
I just want to talk about the ease of access center. You can open up an on-screen keyboard and you can turn that into a scroll and switch method. You can just hit the space bar and it would scroll the keyboard and be able to select the letters that way.

Belva Smith:
That’s where I was going to go with my last suggestion Tracy. Would be a head mouse, but that’s going to be a more expensive solution. If you can use the built-in speech recognition for either Windows or Mac, that’s going to be no additional cost. Possibly maybe a headset.

Tracy Castillo:
Did speech recognition come on the Windows 7 machines?

Belva Smith:
Yeah, it did.

Josh Anderson:
It’s not as good.

Belva Smith:
It’s not as good. Exactly.

Tracy Castillo:
I knew that the on-screen keyboard was on both of those. That’s why I brought that one up because they said they were in a situation where they weren’t able to get to a lot of technology.

Josh Anderson:
Something that’s really important is if you’re going to use Dragon or a speech recognition or really anything is to get a good microphone. Belva had mentioned that with the headset. I would say probably a desktop may be better just because getting the headset on and off during the day without arms is a bit of a challenge. You’ll need someone’s help and you want to be as independent as possible. Even something to fit right there on the table. I think we all touched on it’s probably going to take a combination of things. Be that speech recognition with switch access or a head mouse. There’s smile mouses. One now where you just dwell somewhere on the screen and smile and it will click and things. There’s lots of different kinds of those.

Josh Anderson:
I know they said they don’t really have the resources to really try this stuff out like we do here with the Tech AC and things, but just to give you some ideas of some different things to research. Like I said, there’s all kinds of different input methods of those that you can use just by using your eyes, your head, and then your voice. You can really do that, but then maybe a switch or you’re still using the track-ball mouse or something with the foot just to be able to do those little things that you have a challenge doing.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, and thank you for mentioning the Tech AC. It’s the technology programs across the country. There are 56 programs here in the United States in all of the territories. Our four territories. You can try equipment out. We have lots of these different things. Josh, you mentioned using a combination of stuff. I think that’s always important. If you’re relying too heavily on voice recognition and you’re not feeling well one day, the recognition accuracy’s going to go down. It’s important to rely on hardware items when you’re not feeling well or your voice just isn’t what it usually is.

Brian Norton:
I always when I’m working with folks in situations like this or anybody using any mobility issue and having difficulty with keyboards or mouse looking for a secondary option. Something that’s more hardware-based, but then supplementing that with the software and vice versa. I think that’s real important. Thinking about the assistive technology programs that are out there, all of them have loan libraries where you can borrow equipment and try some things out.

Brian Norton:
Obviously, with this person being across the seas, not necessarily a resource that they would be able to access, but if the person in the call or the email is in the states, they might be able to try some of these things out and see about whether or not they think it’s a useful thing because they know their friend well and then maybe can suggest them purchasing and maybe making a better informed decision about what they’re using. Something to definitely think about there.

Brian Norton:
We’d love to open it up to our listeners. If you have other suggestions, things that you’ve tried. We’ve talked about head mice, some different types of keyboards or mouse options, voice input obviously, but if you have other suggestions for a person in this particular situation, 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 tech@eastersealscrossraods.org. Love to hear from you.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question is, “Hello. My name is John and I’m 39 years old and I have a degenerative eye condition which I’ve been dealing with all my life, but for the greater extent as I’ve gotten older. I am not new to my eye condition. However, I am new to proactively trying to deal with it. I was raised just to make due, which is fine when you’re younger, but as I lose more and more vision, I cannot just make due anymore. I have recently discovered your podcast and I suspect I have a lot of questions as time goes on.”

Brian Norton:
We would encourage that, John. Please do let us know what questions you have. “The first question I have is related to passwords and how to keep track of them as a visually impaired person. We have a lot of passwords for different programs which are all required to be different. Do you have any advice on how to keep track of passwords?”

Brian Norton:
Currently he’s advised to write them down and keep them locked up in a safe place. However, he’s finding that it’s more and more difficult reading what he wrote and having to reference them. He does mention he’s not proficient in braille and that’s one of the things on his many lists of things that he’d like to accomplish in the future, but at this time he’s not able to read braille and to keep track of them in that way.

Brian Norton:
I’ll just open that up. Belva, I’m sure you have some things to contribute.

Belva Smith:
I’m dying to jump in there. Let me first say, John, keeping track of our passwords is complicated, sighted or not sighted. It’s a very important thing to do and it’s a thorn in everyone’s side. At least I know that’s been my experience. Recently I actually bought a book, WTF Is My Password.

Brian Norton:
That makes me laugh.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. Just so I can keep a list of certain passwords written down. However, I also have, for quite some time now, been using a password manager and that has worked out really well for me. The only real problem with that is I never really know my password because my password manager makes up the password for me and I may or may not know it. I do know one password, which is the one that will get me into the password manager that I’m using.

Brian Norton:
Can I ask you Belva, which manager you’re using?

Belva Smith:
Yes. I use … I wrote it down here, but now I’m not finding it.

Josh Anderson:
I love that you had to write down the name of the password manager.

Brian Norton:
Yes.

Tracy Castillo:
That’s good. That’s real good.

Josh Anderson:
Last Pass. I use Last Pass as well and it’s a really good password manager.

Belva Smith:
I would say too that of course the easiest thing to do is to use Monkey123 over and over and over for different places, but that’s just simply not safe. For us at work, I do believe that he was referring primarily to his work environment, I do not use my password manager for my work passwords. That’s just my personal thing. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve forgotten my passwords for different programs at work and I’ve had to contact IT and get it reset. You don’t want to just write those down and lay them around because if IT knows you’re doing that, they’re going to not be very happy with you.

Tracy Castillo:
What if you hide them?

Belva Smith:
Huh?

Tracy Castillo:
What if you write it down and hide it?

Belva Smith:
Well, my suggestion is, and I do understand that John you were saying that you were finding it more and more difficult to read what you have actually written down and I totally get that as well. What I would suggest is if you perhaps have a smartphone or some sort of a note taker, do go ahead and create yourself a document with each program/website and the password.

Belva Smith:
However, what I always recommend if you are going to write them down or keep a list, leave at least one character off of each and every password. For example, if for my Outlook I want my password to be Monkey123, I might make the m capitalized but not right the m in there or I might leave the 3 off. Just something that only I will know.

Belva Smith:
That way if someone does find my list and they try to use the password it’s still not going to work for them. Lastly I wanted to encourage and congratulate you John for knowing and realizing that learning braille is key. I wish you well with that. I think that is so important for your literacy as you move forward with your vision loss. Good luck with that and hopefully something that we said or I said will help you with that. Again, as I said, passwords are a pain in everybody’s side.

Brian Norton:
That’s so true.

Josh Anderson:
They really are and actually we were running into this issue this morning with having to change a password. If you’re using a Mac it does a pretty good job of saving them all in there, which is nice, but since he’s been advised to write them down and lock them somewhere, what about just a little personal recorder? He can just record them.

Belva Smith:
Absolutely.

Josh Anderson:
The drawer or wherever is the safe place that his employer says and then you can easily delete them and have all your different ones there. Then you don’t have to worry about reading it at all. Making it in braille is a great way just because I have consumers who do that. They have a sheet in their top drawer with all their passwords on it, but unless you know braille, you’re going to have no idea what they are. That makes for a really great way to be able to hide your passwords from spying eyes so to speak. If they’re okay with him having his passwords somewhere and under lock and key, then just a little voice recorder. You can get them from, heck, anywhere from what? $20 to $100 depending on how cool you need them.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. The little Wilson digital recorder is very simple to use. It’s got three buttons. Very simple to use. Very small to fit in a pocket. The only issue with using the digital recorder, which is kind of going to be the issue even if you’re creating an electronic document, is just sorting through to find the one that you need. You don’t want to listen to 15 to get to the one you want.

Josh Anderson:
True. True.

Belva Smith:
You can. Again, the Wilson digital recorder is very easy to jump forward. If you know that you’re looking for the one for Outlook, you can jump, jump, jump until you hear it say Outlook. I’m not exactly sure what the price on that thing is, but it’s under $50 I think.

Brian Norton:
Right. Make sure when you use a digital recorder to get an earbud so that you’re not playing out loud your passwords where you find yourself. That can make that a little more discreet. Belva, you mentioned Last Pass. That’s a program I use. It comes as Chrome plugin or pretty much you can get a plugin for most of the popular web browsers that are out there. It also is an app. You can get it as an app on your phone or your tablet. I use that all the time.

Brian Norton:
Belva, you mentioned not using it for work. I do use it for work. I use it a lot for both work and personal. I have most of my stuff saved there. What I do love too is it just doesn’t operate only within the web browser. As an app I save some of my work passwords that aren’t related to the internet at all. We use a program called Rain Tree for our electronic records system here at Easterseals Crossroads.

Brian Norton:
Although it’s not connected to Rain Tree at all, I’d save my password in there because I can’t even tell you how frustrating it is. Every time I go in there I can’t remember it all. I have the opportunity just to go in there and add a password in all by myself and be able to put in my username, my password, what program it refers to. Then I can just search it by keyword or I can just go through what they’ve referred to as the vault, which is all of my different programs and all of the different passwords. I use that a whole lot.

Belva Smith:
Now Brian, are you using the free version or do you pay for yours because I’m using the free version?

Brian Norton:
Free version. I use the free version too. Yup. Then the other one I’ve heard of and I’ve heard some good reviews. I have not used it myself, but it’s called One Password.

Belva Smith:
I was actually going to bring that one up next too Brian because that one is the one that a lot of my clients who are using screen readers, they say it is more accessible.

Brian Norton:
Good. Okay. Great.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. That’s definitely one to look at. There are lots of them available now and almost all of them will give you a free trial so you can find out of it’s going to be fully accessible or if it’s going to meet your needs.

Brian Norton:
Go ahead.

Tracy Castillo:
I’ve been patient. I’ve been really patient. When I was at ATIA for that smart home session, the lady showed us, because you know with smart home technology they have passwords for everything, the lady showed us this bracelet and this bracelet was Bluetooth enabled. What it could do was hold all the passwords into the bracelet so when it got near the device it would unlock it or add the password in. I went through the notes though and I cannot find the exact name of hers. I did find one called Everykey and it’s at www.everykey.com. It’s just a little Bluetooth device that replaces your keys and passwords using military-grade security. It can unlock your tablet, your phone, your house door. Anything that is smart, you would be able to use it to lock things.

Belva Smith:
Would it know what program it was trying to put the password? How would it know that I was looking for the password for Outlook versus the password for Rain Tree?

Tracy Castillo:
I did not go that far. All I heard was Bluetooth enabled and it works..

Belva Smith:
Yeah. That sounds amazing.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah. I guess it would have an interface for it so that you can store all those passwords into it. If something were to happen and you lost the bracelet, you could actually freeze it so it no longer works.

Josh Anderson:
My Apple watch, it actually unlocked my computer, my Mac, just by getting near it. You can set that up through settings. If you have an Apple watch and you have a Mac, you can just come near your computer and it’s going to go ahead and unlock it because it recognizes that it’s me and I’m close tot my computer. Kind of similar to that basically.

Tracy Castillo:
I’m sorry.

Brian Norton:
No, go ahead. Yeah.

Tracy Castillo:
I thought that maybe that would be the same technology as this bracelet.

Brian Norton:
That’s cool. That’s really cool. Well hey, I would love to open this up to our listeners. If you use a password manager, or have another unique way for you to remember passwords, we all know how difficult that can be, please let us know. We’d love to be able to provide that to John. You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124 or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org or if you really want to spice it up a little bit you can send us a tweet with the hashtag AT FAQ. All right.

Brian Norton:
All right. Our next question is, “I read an article on communications for people with speech difficulties, but was unable to find an option that I could use. I have a cellphone and a Windows laptop so the apps listed do not help me. Can you direct me to someone who knows what’s available and might be able to help me communicate by phone?”

Brian Norton:
I think there’s a couple of things available for folks. A couple of places that I would direct people when they’re looking for apps. We used to keep an app list on our website, but we found that there were a couple of other resources that were doing such a good job we just now simply direct people to them. The first is bridgingapps.org. Brindingapps.org is from an Easterseals affiliate. I think they used to be a pretty regular contributor to AT Update. Are they still doing that, Josh? The app of the week or something?

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. It’s been a little while, but they are still involved.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, they do a great job. They have a really nice search tool and they also have a pretty great team of evaluators. What’s nice about this particular place is they actually have folks on staff who are OTS, or PTs, or speech therapists, but also parents and they have people review those apps so that when you go and look for apps, not only can you get real specific with your search, but you also can look at reviews from people who are actually using the apps and not just relying on what the manufacturer is telling you is so great about their app. It’s a great place to look. Bridgingapps.org. They have a really nice search tool. It’s pretty sophisticated. You can look things up by issue, by platform, whether that’s Windows, Mac, IOS, or Android. Lots of different options to be able to drill down to the particular type of app you’re looking for and the platform that you need to use it on. May want to look at that. Again that’s Bridgingapps.org.

Brian Norton:
Another place would be Tools 4 Life. Tools 4 Life is the assistive technology program in Georgia. They are located in Georgia at Georgia Tech University. They have a pretty nice little search tool as well. Probably not as robust as bridgingapps, but does a very nice job of helping you search and see what’s out there. I do believe you can do a pretty good job of narrowing down to the specific platform or type of app you’re looking for. It does a nice job. Again, Tools 4 Life. Four is the number four. Tools 4 Life.

Brian Norton:
The other one, which wouldn’t necessarily be useful for folks with communication issues or speech difficulties, but Apple Viz is another place we send a lot of folks to who have visual impairments and they’re looking for specific apps or have specific needs with regard to vision-related issues using mobile devices, tablets and the like. They have a whole team of folks. Apple Viz is Apple V-I-S. You can look them up. They do a pretty good job of helping you sort through all that’s out there with regard to vision-related apps as well.

Belva Smith:
Brian, my thought is I see that they say that they have a Windows computer and they also have a cellphone. My thought is what’s the thoughts on just being able to use texting or emailing? I know it’s not the same as a live, “Hey, how are you?” Type call, but at least you can make sure that you’re actually able to say what it is that you’re trying to say. If the individual that you may be trying to communicate with don’t have the ability to accept a text but they have email, you can basically use email like a texting app depending upon who the provider is for the individual that you’re trying to reach. I get that if you’re trying to call the light company for example, that’s probably not going to be a very good option because they probably aren’t going to be able to take a text. I personally don’t know of any phone app that’s going to help with these speech difficulties.

Brian Norton:
You know, as we’re talking about this, it reminded me that another place to inquire wherever you find yourself, whatever state you’re in, at least here in the United States there are lots of different relay services. Here in Indiana, that would be InTRACK, which is Indiana telephone relay services here.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, I thought about them too Brian, but they’re going to have to be able to understand you to be able to relay the call.

Brian Norton:
Right. They actually have a program that we’ve been, we at Easterseals and through the clinical department, someone on our mobility/cognition team has been working that project. They actually have a specific program for folks with speech difficulties where they can provide an app. I’m sorry. They provide a tablet to them, an iPad, with some specific apps. It’s not voiceover relay. It’s another service and it’s escaping my mind right now what that service is, but it basically allows you to text back and have whatever you text voice back out to somebody. Again, I can’t remember what it is, but we’ve been working with that program …

Belva Smith:
Can you put that in the show notes?

Brian Norton:
Yeah, I can. I’ll definitely take a look and see what I can find.

Belva Smith:
That may be just what they’re looking for.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. Gosh, it’s been a little while since I’ve been involved with that. In fact, I was just having a conversation with our team member who’s working that project and was having them reach back out to InTRAC to talk more about that to see where that program stood. They have a specific program that works with folks who have speech difficulties, so that might be a great resource for sure.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. Sounds like it.

Brian Norton:
All right. What I would love to do is just open that up to anybody. If you have maybe some additional information. Maybe you know of other services. Maybe particular apps or places that people can go who are having difficulties with communication and want to use their phone to be able to do that or their computer, I’d love to hear from you. Please let us know what you think. You can give us a call on our lister line. That’s 317-721-7124 or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Love to hear from you.

Brian Norton:
All right. Our next question is, “I think one of my students …” Oh, this must be a teacher, “would benefit from using a head-pointer stylus to access a touchscreen computer. I want a trial before I have the school purchase a $150 stylus. Any hacks for a DIY, do it yourself, head pointer or where to go to get a trial tool?”

Brian Norton:
Tracy, I was going to throw this out to you. I know you’re our local #D whiz. You’ve been the most active with our #D printer and playing around with that, so that’s on that.

Tracy Castillo:
It’s nice. I use a website called Thingiverse. It’s a free website. I think you can even just go to the website and search an item and you can receive a free file. I think I don’t even have to sign in. I did, when I was on there, find a nice print file for a head pointer. It was a headband and it had a little [inaudible 00:35:24] for a stylus. You could download that file and then print it. I did notice in some of the items I do find on Thingiverse, they require more materials. You might need a screw. You may need a type of banding or other items like that. That’s just something you need to be mindful of when you’re using Thingiverse because a lot of these items are really cool and you want to print them out but then you realize, “Oh, I don’t have a 6 millimeter screw or whatever it needs. Also I wanted to talk about the AT Act. You could go into your state’s AT Act and go to see if they have one available.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. So through that loan library. Absolutely. Borrow one. Try it out. See if it works. I did go to Thingiverse and I plugged in head pointer and there are several versions of it. Take a look. Definitely if you don’t have a 3D printer, Google. Google local resources for 3D printers. I think there’s lots of opportunities these days where universities and other places have 3D printers and there’s the potential to be able to use those types of resources where you find yourself. Check those things out.

Brian Norton:
I was really surprised to see the number of 3D printed headsets that you could go and find on Thingiverse or some of the other sites that are out there that just have basically shareware 3D guides for folks where you can just simply download them, plug them into a 3D printer, and have those things printed out. Really the great thing about 3D printing is it’s very low cost. There’s hardly any cost. Just the cost of the PLA or whatever type of filament you’re using to be able to make that device. Usually that’s pretty low cost when you consider what you’re being able to make for an individual. Something to definitely think about. I know here with our AT program we have probably two or three different types of head pointers.

Brian Norton:
One thing that I would recommend you look at is, depending on the type of device you use, screens on those devices. An iPad screen has a different interface than an Android screen. Some are sensitive to pressure. Some are sensitive to the electricity that you’ll find in someone’s finger. You may have to get a different tip to those head pointers to be able to make them operate different tablets. Keep that in mind as you look. There’ll be specific information about the type of screen that those things will work with. Make sure to review that or call the manufacturer, or make sure that you’ve got the proper type of head pointer to be able to operate whatever device that you have. That’ll be important for folks to keep in mind as they look for one.

Brian Norton:
I just want to open this up to folks who are listening. Potentially if you know of anybody who’s using a head pointer stylus and have any preferences with regard to the type of stylus or what’s necessary to operate a particular type of device we’d love to hear from you. Maybe you’ve tried a 3D one and you’ve found it to be successful for you. Let us know that as well. You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124. You can send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org or you can send us a tweet with the hashtag AT FAQ. We’d love to hear from you.

Brian Norton:
All right. So our next question is, “Looking for suggestions of technology to assist a seven year-old with dysgraphia.” That’s really the question in and of itself. I thought I might talk a little bit about dysgraphia because that might be a term that folks aren’t familiar with. Dysgraphia is really the inability to write text. Even though the person has the necessary motor skills, being able to take what’s up in your head and what you want to write doesn’t communicate down and it’s really hard to be able to write down your thoughts and those kinds of things. That’s what encompasses dysgraphia.

Brian Norton:
There are lots of tools for folks to be able to use who have issues in this particular area. We mentioned a couple of those earlier in an earlier question. Speech to text. The voice input software. Whether that’s the built-in stuff that Belva mentioned earlier in the show or you can do a paid for version. You can do Dragon, Naturally Speaking, or Dragon Premium now. I think they got rid of Naturally Speaking. That’s the software that leads the market and pushes the envelope with what you can do with voice input software. Something to consider there. Speech to text.

Brian Norton:
What’s nice about that in particular with dysgraphia is you basically just start talking and it’ll dictate or put the text into your computer. It’s very quickly a way to get your thoughts down on paper. Then once your thoughts are on paper, then you can go back to whatever you’ve spoken or had typed out onto the paper and do the editing. Putting it into sentences, and paragraphs, and complete thoughts, and those kinds of things. I think the most important thing there is just getting your thoughts down on paper really quickly. Speech to text software is certainly a piece of that.

Brian Norton:
Other options would be word processing software. A lot of word processing software has auto predict features to it. There are also talking word processors. Lots of different ways to be able to hopefully get text down on paper more quickly. So think about word processing types of things. There are also things for letter tracing apps. Just for people to help with.

Brian Norton:
I mentioned not necessarily, but the person still has the motor skills to be able to write, but sometimes maybe letter tracing or typing tools might be helpful. Spelling and grammar software is often helpful. Being able to spell things phonetically or being able to have it auto correct back to what the correct spelling is. I’m awful with spelling, so I rely on that heavily within Microsoft Word. It’s something to think about there.

Josh Anderson:
Another one. If you’re using Windows there’s a program called Light Key IO.

Brian Norton:
Oh.

Josh Anderson:
It’s a predictive text software and it actually uses artificial intelligence. It learns from what you type and everything. It does have a free version, but I think it only lasts for a little while. You’d have to pay for it, but it does a pretty good job with predictive text. Especially if you’re doing the same thing often. It can guess the next word or sometimes even the rest of the sentence and it does a pretty good job. That might be a little bit helpful. Maybe with some of the other tools.

Brian Norton:
Oh, that’s great. What’s it called? Light Key IO?

Josh Anderson:
If you look up Light Key I-O. Their website is actually lightkey.io.

Brian Norton:
Perfect. Excellent. Thank you for that. That’s awesome. Yeah. I think there’s a lot out there for folks with dysgraphia. Whether that’s the physical task of actually writing something down or being able to just put your thoughts down on paper with that voice input, I think that’s something to be able to be considered and would be helpful for folks. Again, there’s also other kinds of things. Graphic organizers, math software, lots of different things for individuals.

Brian Norton:
I think one of the challenges, now I mentioned this with speech software. It mentions in the question that it’s a seven year-old. Usually for me speech voice input software, I’ve always said to folks it takes a little bit of … Oh, what’s the word I’m looking for? You have to be a little bit more mature to be able to use some of that because it will make mistakes and you have to be mature enough to let it make the mistakes and not get mad, or upset, or make fun of it.

Belva Smith:
You also have to be able to determine when it has made that mistake.

Brian Norton:
Sure.

Belva Smith:
I’ve taught my grandson to use dictation to be able to text me and his texts will come through saying whatever he feels like saying and he doesn’t have any clue. I get a lot of laughs out of that.

Brian Norton:
Right. The challenge with that is that it hears the laughs and it puts more text into the computer and you have to go ahead and go back and edit. Again, that level of maturity to let it make its mistakes. Not get overly angry or overly excited or laughing at something that it makes a mistake on. Just letting it go by and then going back and editing those things. There’s a level of maturity that goes with that as well. I was mentioning the word processing software. Using that software just makes it easier to edit and correct text. You don’t have to copy everything over and over again.

Brian Norton:
We mentioned letter tracing. Showing where the letter starts. This can be based on age, and need, and what specifically is happening, but for younger kids helping them form letter shapes it can be very helpful with dysgraphia. We mentioned the different typing tools. Basically help people express themselves easier. It’s easier to put your thoughts into words through keyboarding when you’re challenged with putting pen to paper. Just lots of different things like that are available for folks.

Brian Norton:
Again, if you’re looking to try something, we have a lot of these different tools in our library. The place to go is eastersealstech.com. Then under services. If you’re here in Indiana, you can go to eastersealstech.com, go to services, and look up lending library. Under the lending library you’ll be able to get access to that. Then if you’re looking at being in another state or territory here in the US, you can go to eastersealstech.com/states to be able to find your local resource for the lending library.

Brian Norton:
I keep that in mind that, again, I think one of the big challenges with assistive technology just in general is people’s ability to go out and find these tools, right? We want to be able to try something before we buy it. We all don’t have limited resources to be able to purchase something on our own all the time. The lending libraries are just great resources for folks to be able to tap into to be able to try it before they buy it, provide a short term accommodation, or sometimes just a way for folks to borrow something while they wait for something to get repaired or they’re waiting for funding to come in to be able to purchase something for them. Keep that in mind. It’s a great tool for folks to keep in their toolbox as they navigate the world of assistive technology.

Brian Norton:
We’d love to open this up to folks. Again, the question was about dysgraphia and tools and tips for being able to help folks be successful in getting their thoughts down on paper. Be able to overcome that challenge. Let us know what you guys have used. I’d love to hear from you about that. Our phone number’s 317-721-7124 or you can send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Would love to hear from you. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
Now it’s time for the wild card question. All right, so our next question is the wild card question. That’s where I typically throw the microphone at Belva, but since she is not here, I’m going to go ahead and ask that question myself. Belva, I’m going to steal it away from you this week, but I would love to know how people are dealing with the current situation. COVID-19 or the coronavirus. I think many states are finding themselves in this stay at home orders by local governments. Hopefully to be able to flatten the curve as far as the number of cases that are out there so that healthcare doesn’t get overwhelmed, but that creates a lot of challenges.

Brian Norton:
Social isolation. People who are working and trying to remain productive at work to keep things moving. I would love to hear from folks how they’re remaining connected with each other through this time. Whether that’s just in your neighborhood, with friends, family, but also at work. How you’re staying connected and how you’re staying productive during this time. I’ll just open that up.

Josh Anderson:
I guess I’ll go first. One thing I’ve had to do is really adjust my schedule. Just because my wife’s working from home. My daughter’s here and occasionally my stepson, so I’ve got about four and get about three, four, sometimes five good hours of work in before she wakes up, which is great because the rest of the day is get work in as I can and work really hard during naptime. Zoom makes it really easy. Brian, I think you said at the beginning of the show that we all have extra time. I don’t know how you’re getting that because somehow I’m busier and getting volunteered for different things. It’s beginning to pile up that if we went back to work on Monday I would be two months behind.

Brian Norton:
I meant other people. Not me.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, yeah. As we’ve been doing this for the hour I’ve been invited to three different meetings. One of which I had to cancel because it was during the time of one of the other meetings. Anyway, I set up a work station really right in the center of my house just so I can continuously get to it and I can convert it from sitting to standing. I’m really just using a little lap table that I got my wife that I can make really tall with a shoebox. I have a box of diapers as a footrest for whenever I’m sitting down.

Josh Anderson:
Really just using what I have. Communication-wise really we already had most of the tools. Zoom’s a great way to be able to still see folks. Plus cell phones, text message, emails, teams instant messaging, and all that stuff. It’s all there. It’s just being able to use it in a different way to be able to stay in touch with folks and still be able to be productive.

Tracy Castillo:
I wanted to explain what I’m doing. I’ve got my station set up. I have my work station where I have my computer and everything. I also have another station off to the side where I have a set of laptops. What I love to do is rebuild those computers and get them ready for people. To keep the normalcy going, I want to have that going on and in the background always updating the computers and having several computers running. I’ve been installing software on them. One of our benefits is our building is still open to us. So we have a short period of time that we can go back to our building and collect items. I like to go over there to just go back to that normal stuff.

Belva Smith:
You’re muted.

Tracy Castillo:
Oh. Anyhow, yeah, I have my little work station. It’s offset next to the dogs. It’s nice to bring my pets to work.

Belva Smith:
I’ll second that Tracy. It seems like my dog is by my side pretty much all day. Right now the whole time we’ve been recording because I’m sitting on a bar stool and he can’t get up next to me, he’s just been sitting here beside me looking at me like, “Come on. We should be in a chair together somewhere.” Pretty much I would just say what Josh had said. We pretty much are using the same kind of tools that we’ve always used. I rely heavily on my phone for communications and stuff like that. I’m using my computer at home more now just because I typically don’t use my computer at home to do work unless something has to be done. Obviously now it does. I used a new acronym the other day [inaudible 00:52:42] news and Brian was like, “What?” The WFH. Did anybody hear that? We keep working from home. It’s the new normal.

Josh Anderson:
That makes sense.

Belva Smith:
Working from home. The new norm.

Tracy Castillo:
Yup. I think we’ll have to be careful. [inaudible 00:53:06] to work.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, that’s a hard one. Something else we’ve done just as a clinical team, because usually we’re out in the community meeting with folks, doing evaluations, doing training, occasionally we can still do that. I mean, we’re doing our best to stay social distance but if it absolutely has to be done, we can still meet folks in person. Of course we’re taking precautions, but we’re doing a lot more training evaluations and that kind of thing remotely where allowed. Using Zoom. Using other things. We all have cameras in our pocket with cell phones. People can take pictures of their work stations, send it to us so we can see what’s going on. It’s a little bit of a shift. We did some remote training, but we’re really digging into that. Folks can still get the services and the help that they need without having to worry about having someone in their home and violating any orders or being able to stay as social distanced as possible.

Tracy Castillo:
Unfortunately I think we’ve paused the lending library. I am seeing people ask for items. I’m really excited to see that stuff start back up. One of the things that we’ve noticed that we may have to pause it. Also giving away computers is not working well right now. As we think of new ways to help the community, I think one of the problems we may have is getting that information back out. Brian and I were talking about Telehealth. Do you want to talk about that, Brian?

Brian Norton:
Yeah, and I’ll just say this. Although we’re distancing and stuff like that, I’ve been trying to approach this whole situation as really an opportunity. I think this whole Telehealth, like Tracy you just mentioned and indirectly you Belva and Josh mentioned as well, Telehealth is a viable option in certain situations and for certain people.

Brian Norton:
It’s really giving us an opportunity to get good at that right now. Not just with the work with clients, but as we try to connect with our team at work, we’re using the tools that are out there. Whether that’s a website called doxy.me, or there’s Zoom, or there’s Go To Meeting, or there’s all different sorts of different collaborative tools where people can work together online. Share the screen. Remote control other people’s computers. Those kinds of things.

Brian Norton:
There are opportunities for us to really broaden our knowledge in that area so that we can better serve clients moving forward. I think probably the most advantageous part of Telehealth is the immediacy of it. Being able to connect with people and not having to rearrange our schedule or find ways where we can get to somebody. We can connect with them remotely and I think we’ve all been put up to the challenge of trying to really get good at using those tools and to see what we can do to maximize what those tools can provide to us and how we serve our clients. I’m excited about that.

Brian Norton:
We were actually here at INdata. We’re contacted by our state leaders about how we can be a resource for folks who are using Telehealth. Obviously Telehealth, there are lots of people who still need therapy. They still need physical therapy. They still need occupational therapy, speech therapy. We’re finding that medical services like those and many of these other services that are available to persons with disabilities. The elderly, people who have needs in those areas, they’re moving to Telehealth as a way to continue to provide services in this arena. Maybe not arena, but in the situation that we find ourselves with trying to social distance. With that being said, a lot of people don’t have the necessary tools so there’s three things that are needed.

Brian Norton:
Essentially you need internet access. You need some sort of computer technology. Whether that’s a laptop, a desktop with a camera and a microphone, or a tablet, or a smartphone to be able to provide and to be able to connect through Telehealth. Through our lending library, whether that be iPads, through computers, with laptop computers that we have, through our reuse program, or through our lending library, it’s affording opportunities for folks to continue to be involved in the services that they need and are really essential for them to continue with during this time.

Brian Norton:
As far as making those things available and being able to give those to folks, while we’re suspended activities in our lending library. We did here in Indiana suspend the activities of our lending library and our reuse program through April 6th to help not spread anything and to be able to help keep our consumers safe and our staff save during this time, we’re reassessing what we’re going to be doing after April 6th, which is when this’ll release. We’re just working hard to figure that stuff out, and what’s appropriate, and how we should move forward with things. In that is making sure that we have resources for folks to continue with Telehealth services as this situation seemingly gets prolonged, it continues to extend out, making sure people can get those services they need.

Tracy Castillo:
Thank you, Brian.

Brian Norton:
Was that good? Was that what you were looking for?

Tracy Castillo:
That was awesome.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. All right. Yeah, thank you guys for that. Really appreciate those. I think it is going to be an interesting time for us all as we see how long this lasts. What we continue to do with our time and how we stay connected with friends and family but also with coworkers and the work that we have to do. I do want to let you guys know, our listeners, that we do value your information. We love to hear from you if you have questions or feedback. Definitely let us know.

Brian Norton:
You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124. You can send us a tweet with the hashtag AT FAQ or email us at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. We would love your questions.we absolutely love your feedback on anything that we can add to the answers we’ve given today. Definitely want to share those. Definitely be a part of it. Without you, we don’t have a show, so definitely be a part of that. I want to thank our panel today. I want to thank them and give them an opportunity to say goodbye today. Tracy? Want to say …?

Tracy Castillo:
You know I never want to say bye.

Brian Norton:
You’ve got to say some last few words to folks.

Tracy Castillo:
Okay. See you next time, guys. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
Awesome. Belva?

Belva Smith:
See you guys in two weeks and everybody keep your distance.

Josh Anderson:
Hang in there and we’ll see you next time.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Thank you guys. Have a great couple weeks and we will be back and talking to you then. Take care. Bye bye. It seems like every week we have at least one blooper, so here you go.

Belva Smith:
Am I on mic?

Brian Norton:
You are on mic.

Josh Anderson:
Get in there. Get closer.

Brian Norton:
It’s hard. I can’t see you guys.

Josh Anderson:
By the way, I hate to tell you, but it looks like you’re thinning in the back a little bit.

Brian Norton:
I’m thinning.

Belva Smith:
Oh my gosh, Josh. You didn’t need to do that.

Josh Anderson:
I’m just kidding. I meant your hair, Brian, not your waist.

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 Easterseals Crossroads and the INdata Project. AT FAQ is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more of our shows at www. accessibilitychannel.com.