ATFAQ122 – Q1. online safety, Q2. Alexa for Brain Injury needs, Q3. Advantages of iPhone 11, Q4. Wildcard: How has COVID-19 negatively impacted you

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Panel: Brian Norton, Josh Anderson, Belva Smith, Tracy Castillo Q1. online safety, Q2. Alexa for Brain Injury needs, Q3. Advantages of iPhone 11, Q4. Wildcard: How has COVID-19 negatively impacted you

——–Transcript Starts Here————————————

Intro:
I have a question. Huh? Like what? I’ve always wondered… Do you know? I have a question. I’ve always wondered…I have a question. I have a question. Oh, I have a question. I have a question. I have a question.

Brian Norton:
Welcome to ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions with your host Brian Norton, director of Assistive Technology [Easterseals 00:00:26] 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 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 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 ATFAQ Episode 122. 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 line up of assistive technology questions. But before we jump in, I just want to take a moment to go around the room and introduce the folks who are sitting online with me today because we’re recording this through Zoom again today because of the COVID-19 situation that’s going on around all of us.

Brian Norton:
So, again, we’re joining you from Zoom and in our Zoom room, we have Belva. Belva is our [inaudible 00:01:32] lead with the clinical assistive technology program. Belva, you want to say hey to folks?

Belva Smith:
Hey, everybody. Welcome to my Zoom spot.

Brian Norton:
We also have Tracy Castillo. Tracy is the program manager for the Indata Project which is Indiana’s state AT program. Tracy, you want to say hi?

Tracy Castillo:
Sure do. Hey, everyone. How you doing today?

Brian Norton:
Great, and then we also have Josh. Josh is the manager of our clinical assistive technology program. He also is the popular host of AT Update and so glad to have Josh here with us. Josh, you want to say hi?

Josh Anderson:
Hi, everybody. Welcome back.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. So, just to take a moment for new listeners, just want to tell folks about our show. The first thing is the way our show works and the format that we follow, so we receive feedback and various assistive technology related questions throughout the week and then we sit down as a group and we try to answer those as best we can.

Brian Norton:
We’ve got a variety of ways for you to be able to ask those questions. The first would be our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124 or through email, tech@eastersealscrossroads.org or you can send us a tweet with the hashtag #ATFAQ. Love to hear from you. Again, looking for questions. If you leave one on our voicemail, that’s really the great place to put it because then we can play it live on the show.

Brian Norton:
Then also always looking for that feedback. We want to be able to provide really well-rounded answers to the folks who call in and send us their questions and so, we value your input and would love to hear from you. Please, please do that.

Brian Norton:
You can also find our show in a variety of places if you want to share that with other folks. Pretty much everywhere that you can download a podcast, you’re going to be able to find us. Things like iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Store. We do have a website set up. It’s ATFAQ.show.com. You can find us on Spotify. Again, pretty much everywhere that you can find traditional podcasts, you’re going to be able to look us up. That’s ATFAQ.

Brian Norton:
We did get a little bit of feedback this past week from our last episode or I guess it’s two episodes ago. For ATFAQ 119, we had a conversation about web accessibility tools and Ben Key, who is with Vispero, sent us some information about some of the things that they have through the Paciello Group which now owned by Vispero which is the parent company of Freedom Scientific.

Brian Norton:
They offer several accessibility tools that are included through them and I think maybe we may have mentioned that a little bit. The Arc Toolkit is a Chrome extension that they offer. They also offer a color contrast analyzer, so if you’re looking to look at the different colors and make sure that they’re visually pleasing and there’s enough contrast for folks who have low vision, you can kind of tease that out with their color contrast analyzer.

Brian Norton:
They also have an accessibility viewer and Jaws Inspect. Several tools, these are all free and I guess three of those are free, the top three. The Arc Toolkit, the accessibility viewer, and the color contrast analyzer are all free. Jaws Inspect is a little bit more sophisticated and it’s designed to give you details on what Jaws would actually speak for a website and that one isn’t free. But some great tools.

Brian Norton:
Ben, I want to thank you for that information. Definitely would want our listeners to know about that and so, again, thank you. Those are really four great tools. I did take a look at those and I played with the color contrast analyzer before and that does a really good job of giving you kind of that contrast view. But thank you for sharing that. I really appreciate it.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, and let’s say thanks for listening too.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, thanks for being a listener and chiming in on that. We really, really appreciate it. All right, so our first question is I’ve noticed a huge increase in the amount of spam email since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Any suggestions for how to stay safe online or red flags I should be looking for?

Belva Smith:
Well, I think that’s kind of true and I’m sure that it has gotten worse since all the pandemic. But for me, that’s something that I’m always a little bit leery of. How do I know if the information that I’m looking into is real or if it’s fake? For me, I try to stick with only getting online information related to COVID from trusted websites.

Belva Smith:
For me, I have two. I go to the CDC.gov. I’m hoping and praying that the faith that I have in their information to be true and reliable and then also, depending upon what state you’re in, I’m pretty sure that every state has a government website.

Belva Smith:
For example, here in Indiana, if you go to www.coronavirus, all one word, dot IN.gov, that’s our main website where you can pretty much get all the up-to-date and current information. Really those are the only two places that I will go online. There’s a lot of, what do you call them, rabbit holes that you can find yourself in if you do a Google search. Oh my lanta, the results that you’ll come up with can be very overwhelming.

Belva Smith:
So, that’s my advice is to try to stick mainly with just trusted websites, trusted news reporters and stuff like that.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, that’s a good point. You can get into, like you said, rabbit trails to all of these weird, wacky places. I would just stay, like you said, with the main websites. That’s really good, good thing to think about.

Brian Norton:
I’ll just throw out, there’s some just tips that I’ve been sharing for years about how to avoid scams. I think first and foremost, I think with a lot of emails, look at the from field and make sure it’s with a real email address. A lot of scammers will…

Brian Norton:
When you look at the from field initially, it says it’s from Bank One or from a trusted medical site or something like that because I think nowadays within this COVID-19 situation, we find ourselves… People are trying to sell these cheap, generic masks and other kinds of things that aren’t real or approved or those kinds of things.

Brian Norton:
Look at the from field and instead of just seeing what’s there, move your mouse up and over the email address and it’s going to expand it out to what the real email address is behind whatever name appears there. You can see that it may or may not be a real trusted email, so look for misspellings, look for if it says Bank One and it’s a Gmail address, it’s not real. Those kinds of things. So, look at that from field.

Brian Norton:
I think if you go to a website, always look and make sure that there’s an S on the end of the HTTP that you’ll find in the URL. Up in the address bar, move your mouse up there, look and see if there’s an S. That means it’s a secure website, so just keep in mind, make sure you’re going to secure websites.

Brian Norton:
Because what they’re phishing for, they’re phishing for usernames, passwords, and other personal information. That’s what they’re going to eventually try to get to. So, just be aware of that. I think the other tip that I always… This is just kind of basic but never give out your passwords. I don’t care who it is, make sure you keep your password safe.

Brian Norton:
Always if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, so use your best judgment and common sense. Again, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Then always be careful when opening attachments. If you don’t think you should be getting something from somebody, don’t open it. They’ll send it again if they really want you to get it or email them and say, “Hey, did you send me something?”

Brian Norton:
Because you just don’t want to be caught. Those attachments are what typically include viruses and allow people to gain access to your computer. Just be careful and be wary of any attachments that you see. I see a lot of spam coming my way these days that have purchase order, “Here, open this purchase order,” or something like that. It’s like, “I never ordered anything from anybody from that particular place,” and so I’m not going to open it.

Brian Norton:
Again, sounds too good to be true or whatever, so I’m not even going to follow up with them but I’m just not going to open that attachment. Just a couple of things that come to mind for me.

Belva Smith:
[inaudible 00:10:54], you guys. Don’t click links in your email. I know that’s really hard right now especially because I know I’m getting a lot of emails about different webinars and stuff and they have links within them and it’s very inviting to just click that link and follow it but the safest way to actually get to wherever that link is trying to take you is to copy the link and then paste it into your browser.

Belva Smith:
There’s something about clicking it that makes it more dangerous, we’ll say. So, beware of those links and just again, if you don’t know who the sender is and you weren’t expecting an attachment… They’re probably going to trick you. We get these phishing emails where it says, “This is from Brian, Belva. He needs you to go buy these gift cards” or whatever. Just get rid of them. Don’t even try to figure it out. Just get rid of them.

Josh Anderson:
Belva, another thing you can kind of do besides just copying and pasting it in the browser is go to whatever that website is and find the registration links right there because then you know you’re actually there and you know it’s not phishing and those kind of things.

Josh Anderson:
Brian, what you were talking about with the make sure you’re on secure websites, a lot of browsers nowadays will actually come up and say “not secure” at the top if it doesn’t have that S. You don’t even really have to go up and look. It’ll automatically just tell you so you can decide whether you want to stay there.

Josh Anderson:
I know a few that I’ve been getting a lot lately is I get ones from… Well, it says it’s from UPS-

Belva Smith:
[inaudible 00:12:26]

Josh Anderson:
Well, UPS or FedEx and it says, “Hey, your package is going to be delivered. Here’s your invoice,” and it’s got an attachment on there. UPS and FedEx don’t usually send you anything like that and if you have a tracking number or something that you’re looking for, just go straight to their website and look for it that way. At least on the ones that are always completely and totally spam.

Brian Norton:
Right.

Josh Anderson:
Then the other one that’s really big right now besides the baby talking in the back is work from home scams are a big one and they always have been. Working with individuals with disabilities, working from home is a great accommodation so a lot of folks look for those jobs.

Josh Anderson:
Unfortunately, a lot of them have been scams and still kind of are. A lot of times, they’ll do things like it’ll look like a real job and everything but then they get all your personal information. Sometimes they’ll even send you a check to go out and buy equipment or something to work from home. You’ll go do it and then that check will bounce, so you’re out the money, plus they have all your information and stuff for the job.

Josh Anderson:
Especially if you get an email talking about a work from home job, I definitely wouldn’t trust that at all because even some of them that you find through reputable sources end up not being real too.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah, I just want to echo that. I kind of have this stranger danger kind of feel about things. If I don’t know you and you’re asking to send me money, I’m not going to trust it. Also, you have to be leery of people calling you wanting to fix your computer. That’s really the big one that I see a lot.

Tracy Castillo:
Even at work one day, I had some guy call me from Microsoft and tell me that there was something wrong with my computer. I put him on speakerphone, I brought it to all the volunteers and I said, “Okay, guys. This man says there’s something wrong with our computer.” We had fun with the call for a little bit, but just knowing that no one’s going to call you and offer your money, especially a stranger.

Tracy Castillo:
No one’s going to call you and ask to fix your computer. You have to be leery of all those different kinds of scams out there.

Brian Norton:
Yep, absolutely.

Belva Smith:
Hey, Brian. Before we leave this question, here’s a little bit of trivia. Who knows what the HTTP stands for?

Brian Norton:
Oh, I do not.

Belva Smith:
Hop to this point, and when it has an S, it’s hop to this point securely.

Brian Norton:
Oh, I like that. Huh. Interesting. Do you guys remember what TWAIN is? Technology without an interesting name. Yeah. There’s all these little fun acronyms for these technical terms that computer folks use. I was going to also just throw in just a couple of general things as well.

Tracy Castillo:
Wait, wait.

Brian Norton:
Go ahead.

Tracy Castillo:
It’s not hop to this point, and I knew that because I have my [inaudible 00:15:13].

Belva Smith:
What is it? It’s hop to this point in my head.

Tracy Castillo:
It’s hypertext transfer protocol secure and if it doesn’t have the S-

Belva Smith:
That’s too technical.

Tracy Castillo:
Okay, [crosstalk 00:15:27].

Josh Anderson:
I like Belva’s. We’re sticking with that.

Brian Norton:
Very nice. This is why we have Tracy. She’s COMPTIA certified, so she keeps us up to date with all the technical terms for things. That’s awesome.

Josh Anderson:
Boring.

Tracy Castillo:
That was a hard test.

Belva Smith:
Yes, it is.

Brian Norton:
That’s great. I was just going to throw out a couple other tips and maybe a resource for people to look at. Google has a road show, it’s called An Online Safety Roadshow. If you go to YouTube, they’ve got five or six little videos and they just give you some tips and things to think about to be able to be safe and secure while online. The tips that I kind of read earlier and talked about earlier are part of their overall presentation but there’s five separate videos and each video kind of covers a particular tip that they put out there.

Brian Norton:
The first tip is to think before you share, so not necessarily with emails and spam but think before you share. Thinking about social media, Facebook, Twitter, all those different things. Once you share something, it’s out in the world and it’s free for everybody to get to. Think about what you’re sharing and to think about you are what you share as well.

Brian Norton:
What you put out there influences what other people think about you and so, ask some questions before you share anything on social media. Things like, “Who might be reading this? Could someone misinterpret what I’m saying? Am I showing a bad side of myself? Am I posting in anger? Am I going to disrespect somebody?” Think about those things before you post and that’s just something to keep in mind.

Brian Norton:
I would say also their second tip is protect yourself. That’s talking about your passwords and to create strong passwords. They recommend that passwords shouldn’t be any less than eight characters long and that you shouldn’t use the same password for multiple sites. We’ve talked about this before with several other questions in the past about ways to help manage your passwords because once you start creating and logging into all these different websites, you have 100 different passwords and it’s hard to remember them all.

Brian Norton:
They talk about some different tools to be able to help capture those, but to stay away from personal information like birthdays, names because those are things that people can easily figure out by just simply trying a couple different combinations. They may be able to guess your password. So, they talk about making it diverse, combing upper case and lower case letters, including numbers and characters.

Brian Norton:
Then they always mention periodically change those passwords. Don’t keep it the same for forever. Every six months, once a year, go in there and change those passwords. Tip number two is protect yourself or protect your stuff.

Brian Norton:
Tip number three is to know your settings. A lot of different tools. Facebook was on Capitol Hill a couple years ago talking about their settings and they had gotten hacked and user information was exposed. There was a lot of questions about what happens with that information or are you really explaining to people how their information is being used.

Brian Norton:
Know your settings. I know we all kind of gloss over the things that come up as we use different tools. Just make sure that you pay attention to what those different platforms are doing with your information. Make sure that the security settings are set up correctly in those applications. You should get into the background and figure those things out as well.

Brian Norton:
Then the last thing is just be positive. A little positivity can go a long way. You never know what other people are going through. If you see something that’s mean, report it. Those types of things. So, just some other ways to stay safe but if you’re looking for a really good resource, something that I’ve used before, Google has a really great online roadshow talking about tips for staying safe and secure online, so take a look at that.

Belva Smith:
Brian, I’ve got one last tip that I want to share with everybody. I share this with all my consumers. When you go to a website that you know was trusted and legit but there’s a form that you may need to fill out and I know a lot of people are filling forms out online right now. One of the things that I always suggest is that you navigate through that entire form before you start entering your information because you may reach…

Belva Smith:
For me example, I will not under any circumstance put my social security number in any form online. But I want to know before I give them my name, my phone number, my email and my birth date and all that stuff that oh wow, they’re going to ask for my social security number because if I hit that box, I’m not filling it in.

Belva Smith:
Then at that point, once I see that they’re going to be requesting information that I don’t want to provide, then I start looking for a phone number to be able to call and make contact and possibly do whatever it is I’m trying to do. Just navigate through any kind of form to see what kind of information it’s asking for and if you’re going to be willing to share that. You’ll save yourself some time and trouble.

Brian Norton:
Good point, good point. Well, we would love to hear from other folks as well. If you have any feedback on this particular question, how to stay safe online, we’d love to hear from you. You can do that in a variety of ways. You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721,7124 or you can send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Please let us know. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
Our next question is, “Hello, I have a brain injury and I recently bought an Amazon Alexa smart speaker. Would like to know what Alexa features a person with brain injury would benefit from most with this product.”

Belva Smith:
Well, just the ability to get your daily news and weather and listen to books and listen to music. Also, if you have some of the smart devices within your home or the smart plugs which are typically pretty cheap… I have several of them throughout the house, so I can, for example, turn lights on, turn lights off, adjust the thermostat, just different little things like that that you can control throughout the home just by asking for it to be done.

Belva Smith:
But then I also found an app called Intellicare Brain Coach and that has… It’s free and it has over 100 different audio and video lessons to help individuals with brain injuries. The reason you may be saying to yourself, “Well, I bought an Alexa. Why would I need the video?” Because the Echo, isn’t it? It has the ability to also have the video.

Belva Smith:
You may… Okay, my Google just spoke to me on that one. She said, “Hmm, I’m not sure about that.” Because I have them all over the house, so I’ve got somebody listening everywhere I go. But yeah, what you can do once you get it is you can look at the skills list. That’s what they call it in the Amazon world and just look at the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of different…

Belva Smith:
You can actually search, so you could do a search for particular apps that you’re looking for but I love getting my weather and my news. When I say my news, you actually can set it up so that you’ll get the top news stories from the resources that you choose to get it from, which I find to be very helpful.

Belva Smith:
I personally am using mine everyday to get the updated Indiana numbers for the coronavirus. I just simply ask her, “How many people have been diagnosed?”, and she tells me the diagnosis for Indiana for that day as well as the deaths and I can get more information if I choose to.

Belva Smith:
I would say that you’ve made a good purchase and I think you’re going to find this to be very beneficial in all kinds of ways. Entertainment, and just you can ask it any kind of question too. If you want to know how tall does a full grown giraffe get, you can ask it that and you’ll get that information as well.

Josh Anderson:
Well, Belva, first of all, now I want to know how tall a full grown giraffe gets.

Belva Smith:
Do you really want to know? Because I can ask and find out.

Josh Anderson:
I figure you probably should, otherwise it’s going to be a question on next week’s show.

Belva Smith:
All right, here we go. Okay, Google. How tall does a full grown giraffe get?

Alexa:
A northern giraffe that is adult and male is between 457.2 and 609.6 centimeters tall.

Josh Anderson:
Well, that doesn’t help me at all because I can’t think in centimeters.

Belva Smith:
Okay, Google. How many feet is 610 centimeters?

Alexa:
610 centimeters is 20 feet 0.157 inches.

Belva Smith:
There we go.

Josh Anderson:
[crosstalk 00:25:07]. That’s super helpful. First of all, I’m very worried that that device is going to replace our show.

Belva Smith:
No, no, no.

Josh Anderson:
I really feel like you could just kind of ask it questions. But kind of getting back, I would say probably the most useful is the alerts, the reminders, those kind of things because it’s real simple. I don’t have to really pull out a device, I don’t have to sit there and open up an app, I don’t have to really input anything.

Josh Anderson:
I just say, “Hey, remind me to go to work tomorrow. Remind me to get up, set an alarm for this time every weekday.” Just think it out loud really and it’ll do all the hard work for you. Or, “Hey, remind me that April 16th is mom’s birthday.” All those different things that you can have all those reminders and really cueing and reminding is… Especially traumatic brain injury affects everybody very differently but that’s something that seems to affect a lot of individuals that experience some sort of traumatic brain injury, is just being able to remember those simple things.

Josh Anderson:
Things that maybe some of us take for granted like to brush your teeth everyday, to do this task or that task. Did you remember to feed the dog? Your device will just [inaudible 00:26:21] this morning and, “Oh no, I forgot,” or, “Yeah, I did it.” It just gives you that little bit of cueing, that little bit of extra.

Josh Anderson:
The other thing that’s really nice and especially on the ones that have the video is you can kind of drop in on folks, which sounds really creepy if you put it that way. You’re not really spying on them. You just do a video call and it comes right up there on that device which can be really, really helpful, especially if you have a loved one that maybe has a brain injury and lives independently. You can just check on them, see how they’re doing and kind of get in right then if they don’t have their phone close to them or anything. Their device will actually alert them and you can sit there and talk to them just as if you’re talking on the phone.

Tracy Castillo:
I’ve also found it handy that with the Dot, I can actually call somebody without actually having my phone. So, if I’ve lost my phone… Oh, that’s another one. If I’ve lost my phone, I can have her find it for me and then I could also call my father if I needed to.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, absolutely. This will be a shameless plug for me. About a year, maybe a little over a year, we’ve been running an online support group called BITES, brain injury technology and educational supports. It’s a Facebook group. If you look up BITES on Facebook, you’ll be able to find that. It’s BITES, which is brain injury technology and educational supports.

Brian Norton:
Really these Amazon Echos, Google Homes, the Echo Shows, those have been kind of a topic of discussion amongst us. We’ve got probably about 140 members, lots of folks with brain injuries, providers, other folks. So, it’s been a real topic of discussion about what we could do with some of those and we’ve started a collaborative document just talking about what kind of voice assistance skills are there for persons with brain injury.

Brian Norton:
Just to hit a few of them, I think some of these have been mentioned by others but alarms. Being able to just set an alarm for a particular time so you’re reminded to go to an appointment. You just say, “A Lady, set an alarm for a particular time of day,” and it goes ahead and does that and at that particular time, it’s going to give you an auditory alarm.

Brian Norton:
Timers are another great thing. Maybe you need to be able to focus in on a particular task for a period of time, you can set a timer just by asking it to set a timer for a particular 10 minutes, 15 minutes, those types of things helps keep prompting and cueing you to either start or stop tasks.

Brian Norton:
Josh, you mentioned reminders, setting reminders. You can also create lists, so shopping lists. You can create to-do lists by using the A Lady or Google. I believe Google does that. Belva, does Google do that?

Belva Smith:
Yep.

Brian Norton:
Okay. You can also add calendar appointments directly to whatever calendar app you use. That’s a great feature as well to be able to keep your appointments straight. You can tell Alexa to remember this. I forget when it was.

Brian Norton:
It was earlier this year, there was an awesome commercial that was playing on TV where with the show devices, because it has a screen, there was an older gentleman who was trying to remember his wife and the really cool things and features about his wife. What her favorite song was, what their movie was, and you were able to kind of save those types of things so that it was easy to remember over time what those things were.

Brian Norton:
There was kind of this remember this feature as well. Tracy, you mentioned phone calls. There’s also a lot of stress management skills that you can get for Echo devices. There’s one called deep brief… I’m sorry. Deep brief. Deep breath. There’s another, stop, breathe, and think skill. Guided meditation. One minute of mindfulness. There’s sleep and relaxation sounds that can be played.

Brian Norton:
You can set a sleep timer if you want, if you need to be able to get to bed and then there’s a whole bunch of cognitive exercise skills too. There’s a train my brain skill, a super brain skill, memory training skills, all sorts of things. There’s really similar features for Google Home as well. A lot of those same types of skills exist I believe in what they refer to as actions in Google, but you can get a lot of those things as well.

Brian Norton:
But I would just encourage folks if you’re interested in learning some more about that stuff and you’d like to kind of see some things and you have a Facebook account, check out BITES. It’s a great group and we’ve been talking about that for a little while, what people are using it for and how we can support. We’ve got a collaborative upload to it that we’re just kind of continuing to put skills in and information into. Just something to think about.

Belva Smith:
Two things, Brian. Another thing that the device can be really helpful for is directions or instructions for how to complete a certain task. For example, if you need to prepare your own lunch, maybe somebody else is there to prepare your dinner but you need to prepare lunch. You can actually put in step by step direction for how to prepare something or how to complete a specific task.

Belva Smith:
Then you mentioned BITES, but did you tell us how to find BITES? Because I would think B-I-T-E-S, but that’s not right, right?

Brian Norton:
Yeah, you just have to go to Facebook and if you look up under groups, you can search for the search term BITES but brain injury technology and educational support, so it’s BITES but then it has in parentheses brain injury technology and educational supports. Yeah, just go to Facebook and search for it. You should be able to pull it up or just put brain injury and then the word BITES and you should be able to find it pretty easily.

Brian Norton:
The other place you could do to get directly linked to it, and I guess I probably should’ve mentioned this right off the bat because it’s probably easier to find but if you go to eastersealstech.com/BITES, it’ll bring you to a landing page and there’s a link right there to be able to directly connect to the group and to join. Check that out there.

Brian Norton:
If there’s anybody listening who works either with folks who have brain injury or possibly you have a brain injury and you have an Echo device or Google Home device, we’d love to hear how you use it. Please let us know. You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124 or you can send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Love to hear from you. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question is: can you tell me if there are any advantages of iPhone 11 over iPhone 7 for someone with no vision? Thank you.

Belva Smith:
No. No! [inaudible 00:33:34] The biggest advantage, I would say, is the fact that after 2021, your iPhone 7 will no longer be able to do updates. So, if you currently are an iPhone 7 user and your phone is meeting all of your needs, the battery life is still good, then at this particular time, there probably would be no reason to make that very expensive upgrade.

Belva Smith:
But I would also say that if you just want to make the upgrade to go from the seven to the 11, the 11 does have a little more power. It does have better cameras. The battery life is much improved. I went from a 6S to my 11. My 6S was at the point where I pretty much had to just leave it connected to the charger all the time.

Belva Smith:
I’m quite shocked when at the end of the day, I look for my battery life and see that I still have lots of battery life left even at the end of the day.

Belva Smith:
But as far as being totally blind and making the switch, you’re going to miss your home button but that’s an adjustment that you’re going to have to at some point make and I will say that I have plenty of clients and friends who are totally blind that have made the switch and were at first very terrified about the facial recognition but it does work fairly well without a mask.

Belva Smith:
I have discovered that when you have a mask on, facial recognition does not work. Period, done. But I’ve also heard individuals who are totally blind and maybe using their phone with a Braille device. They really miss the ability to be able to just put their hand in their pocket, not pull their phone out, but unlock it and then be able to go ahead and use it.

Belva Smith:
With the 11, you’re not going to be able to do that and of course, there is no headphone jack or earphone jack but there’s plenty of Bluetooth devices available to make the adjustment or the change to that.

Belva Smith:
Again, if your phone is meeting your needs, I would go ahead and get as much out of it as you can but just know that after 2021, it won’t accept updates anymore. The folks that I know who have the six or the 6S have had to make that change and go up, but a lot of them have chosen to go with the eight, rather than the 11.

Belva Smith:
The reason being is because you can still get the home button on the eight and I… Does anybody know? Does the new lower cost iPhone 11 have the home button? I don’t think it does.

Tracy Castillo:
They got rid of the home button altogether.

Belva Smith:
Okay.

Josh Anderson:
Now, I thought the new one, the smaller one, the SE or whatever, the $300 one, I think it actually has the home button back.

Brian Norton:
It does.

Belva Smith:
Okay, I thought it did too. Yeah, I thought it did too. If you had to go with an 11 and you absolutely wanted to stick with the home button, then good news. You can buy the $400 phone instead of the $1100 phone because it does still have the same processor and it has fewer cameras. Everybody thought the fact that you were going to have two or three cameras was going to make a big difference in the ability to capture and read printed text, but it really hasn’t made that big of a difference.

Belva Smith:
The bottom line is the OCR is as good as it gets at this point. It’s going to work as well on the six as it does on the 11. Or at least that’s my experience.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, I’d say one… Oh, go ahead, Brian.

Brian Norton:
Well, I was just going to say the new iPhone SE that does come with the home button is 4.7 inch screen, so I don’t know if screen size would matter a lot to folks but-

Belva Smith:
If you’re blind, no.

Brian Norton:
Right, so I mean if you’re low vision, it probably would and it’s a smaller phone so you may consider that because it does look considerably smaller than the iPhone 11.

Belva Smith:
Yes.

Brian Norton:
But it kind of goes back to that old format of a 4.7 inch screen which could be a little bit different.

Belva Smith:
For a person with low vision, this question can be answered totally different because yes, having the larger screen does make all the difference for a person who may still be visually using the phone. But again if you’re using voiceover, the screen size doesn’t matter and actually, most people prefer to have the smaller one just because it fits in a pant pocket way better than the big one.

Josh Anderson:
Another maybe possible advantage I guess in the 11, probably not for the cost but it does have the wireless charging. If for some reason, you’re totally blind and also have any kind of mobility challenges, plugging the charger in can be a little bit of a pain sometimes and having to do it. Whereas the iPhone 11, you just set it on top of the charger and it’ll do all the work for you. That could be a little bit… If that’s something to consider, that can also be a bit of an advantage.

Belva Smith:
That feature is also available with the eight. The eight also has-

Josh Anderson:
That’s when they started doing it was the eight. That’s right.

Brian Norton:
It’s kind of interesting. I’m looking at the tech specs online and the differences between the two. There aren’t a lot. There’s really not a lot of difference. The cameras are the same on the back. The front facing camera’s a little bit different. I think on the iPhone 7, the camera is a little bit less. The front facing camera’s only a seven megapixel camera and on the 11, it’s a 12 megapixel camera, the front facing camera.

Brian Norton:
But the rear facing camera’s exactly the same, so you’re going to get the same kind of quality to it.

Josh Anderson:
Hey Brian, they are actually a little bit different. If you’re shooting video or something like that, which you’re probably not going to be using, it does have different lenses on it, I believe. They’re not completely the same. Megapixel wise, they are but it has some different features and things for capturing video and kind of some pictures in weird lighting and stuff like that. But again, probably not a consideration or something if you’re not going to be using those kind of features.

Belva Smith:
And it’s one camera versus two or three cameras with the 11. But again, as far as using it for OCR and using it for the kinds of apps that a blind user would be using, such as identifying objects or getting directions or that kind of thing, you’re not going to notice any difference. Your bank account will. The base of the 11 is extremely expensive.

Brian Norton:
Right, right.

Tracy Castillo:
I’m sorry.

Brian Norton:
No, go ahead.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah, so what I’ve just noticed is that SE one, I hadn’t heard of it until Belva brought it up but it has the same chip in it as the 11, so that one’s still going to get all that power you’re looking for.

Belva Smith:
Yep.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, it’s funny to me… Well, I guess not funny to me but just interesting to me just how reliant we have become on our phones. I still remember back in the day when I got my first flip phone. I used to have the Nokia Tonka Truck one that you could basically run over with your car and it wouldn’t break it and then I got this little flip phone and I thought, “Oh, how cool, how small, and how convenient this will be.”

Brian Norton:
Now it’s like, now I’ve got a huge phone. I’ve got one of the larger ones because I can hardly see the screen myself unless I wear my glasses with the smaller size. But man, I use it for everything these days and I think we’ve talked about it on the show before that if you had to ask someone, it would be interesting to hear what folks use and what their most important device is to them if they’re blind or visually impaired.

Brian Norton:
For the most part, the folks that I ask, it’s their phone. That’s what they use the most.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, I can say, Todd… Most of our regular listeners know that my boyfriend is blind or visually impaired. He has within the last year pretty much graduated totally from his computer to either his phone or his iPad because he can do everything with either one of those devices that he could do on the computer and he’s not tethered to his desk. That’s one of his big reasons for appreciating the fact that he can do it.

Belva Smith:
Then a funny story about the flip phone, Brian. One of the first phones that I was issued when I first came to Crossroads was a little bitty Nokia flip phone and I, like you, thought that phone was so cool because it was so small. But you may not remember, but I remember I had had a car accident in my car and I was getting ready to open my phone so that I could start calling people to say, “Hey, I’ve been in a car accident,” and I went to flip the phone open.

Belva Smith:
The phone flipped out of my hand, couple of somersaults in the air and landed in a pond. I was able to get it out of the pond, but…

Brian Norton:
I think that was the day after she had asked me for a new phone anyway. Conveniently ended up in a pond the next day.

Belva Smith:
[inaudible 00:43:26] somersault through the air and go splash.

Brian Norton:
My wife did the same thing. We were in the garage. We had been talking the week before about getting her a new phone and we just happened to be in the garage and she was getting out of the car too quickly and she had her phone in her hand and it got caught up in the seatbelt and flew across the garage floor and cracked and the whole screen kind of did a spiral crack all over the place. It was like, “Nice, you’re going to get your new phone now.” Awesome.

Brian Norton:
Well, hey, maybe folks have some experiences with the iPhone, some of the newer ones versus some of the older ones. This in particular is an 11 versus the iPhone 7. Let us know what your thoughts are on this question. Would love to hear from you. You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124 or you can send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Love to hear from you. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
And now, it’s time for the wildcard question. All right, so our next question is the wildcard question and this is an opportunity for Belva to ask a question that she has had time to think about but none of us other folks have. So, Belva, what have you got for us today?

Belva Smith:
Well, today I was going to ask, because at the beginning of this meeting, we kind of all agreed that we’re kind of over this stay at home thing now. But I was going to ask everybody to tell at least one or two really bad experiences that you’ve had from the stay at home and then also to end it, we’re going to ask for one or two good things that have come out of the stay at home. Brian, we can start with you. What’s one or two bad things that have happened for you since you’ve been home?

Brian Norton:
You know, to be honest with you, the first few weeks were really challenging. Really had a hard time adjusting to being out of the office. I would’ve guessed when I was working in the office all the time that I would’ve said most of my job needs to be done from here and I think what I’ve learned since working from home the last six or seven weeks, and really I kind of felt like that was true the first two or three weeks…

Brian Norton:
But now that I’ve been here and I’ve kind of figured some things out, I think I could probably honestly do about 60% of my job, 70% of my job from home. But really those first few weeks were really challenging. We just were kind of all…

Brian Norton:
My whole family. I’ve got two daughters. One’s a junior, one’s a freshman in high school and then I have my wife, she works full time. She owns a business and so she’s working all the time too. We had a hard time trying to kind of find our own space and try to work together. I think now we’ve been home together for a little bit of time, it’s seemingly worked well.

Brian Norton:
I think the other challenging thing too is everyday, it’s exhausting. They call this Zoom fatigue and so, you have to be really intentional about the conversations you have and it feels like to be able to have those conversations, you have to spend more time… It’s no more passing someone in the hall and having a passing conversation when you’re all just together all the time.

Brian Norton:
You have to be really intentional with those conversations and I think that has done… That’s a little more challenging, obviously but it’s done some good things too. I feel like department meetings and the meetings that we’re having as a group, people are more focused, they’re more attentive. We’re not as easily distracted with other things.

Brian Norton:
So, I think there’s some good that came out of it, but it’s been challenging. It’s been real hard to kind of figure out and make time to be able to connect with everybody that you feel like you need to connect with.

Belva Smith:
Yep. Okay, Josh, how about you?

Josh Anderson:
So, bad things. I mean, going off of what Brian said, challenging. This will probably actually end up being a good thing too but since my daughter’s been out of daycare and she’s about 17 months old, it can make for some challenges for sure, just because she wants to play at other times. I don’t want to feel like I’m neglecting her because she doesn’t understand and it is a chance to be able to be home with her, so I’ve kind of adjusted my schedule.

Josh Anderson:
I get up at about 4:00 and start working and then work until about 4:00, but just take breaks in between and kind of do that kind of stuff so I can still get her down for a nap and be able to kind of play with her and keep her entertained and feed her and all that kind of stuff.

Josh Anderson:
So, I’d also say that’s probably a good thing. I do get to spend a whole lot more time with her. That’s a blessing in disguise and kind of great. She goes back next week, so that’ll be a little bit different.

Josh Anderson:
That could also be one of the bad things. Our daycare is right next to the office, which is 45 minutes from my house so as opposed to lately, I haven’t been commuting at all because I just work from home, now my commute will actually be double what it was when we were open because I’ll be taking her there, dropping her off, coming back home, then going and picking her up and going back home.

Josh Anderson:
That’s a little bit of a challenge too. The only other thing is, and kind of more of a worry is I’m always worried that some people just aren’t getting the services they need because maybe they need an evaluation but it needs to be at a job site that we can’t go to.

Josh Anderson:
Or anything like that and safety and health of our team as well as the people that we serve is utmost importance and that’s why we have all these stay-at-home things. That’s always just a little bit of a concern that somebody’s not getting what they need because it can’t really be done remotely and physically, there’s just no way to kind of get to them.

Josh Anderson:
Good things. I think my diet’s better just because most of my office is set up in the kitchen so I have the fridge right next to me which is really awesome. But I mean, I try to eat carrot sticks and stuff like that. I try not to eat the entire bag which happens some days just sitting there.

Josh Anderson:
That’s kind of nice and Tracy’s showing a picture of her Symphony bar that she’s munching on right now. I will say that eating during Zoom meetings, the rule’s supposed to be if you didn’t bring enough for everybody…

Tracy Castillo:
[inaudible 00:49:49] when I eat it.

Josh Anderson:
But I will say and kind of going along with what Brian said, I feel like a lot of our meetings, especially group meetings are actually more productive over Zoom than they used to be. We have a few team members who are remote employees, so this has really not changed anything at all for them. Usually, they would Zoom in and the rest of us would be kind of there in a meeting but they kind of miss out a lot because they’re not there in person.

Josh Anderson:
Whereas when we’re all on Zoom, everybody seems to pay a little bit more attention, seems to be a little bit more productive, and that’s something we may kind of keep and keep implementing. Brian’s saying that he had to be in the office to do a lot of his job. I kind of had that same feeling but after this, I can do probably 90% of my job straight from home.

Josh Anderson:
Even when we kind of go back, I think we’ll see that in a lot of industries, probably not just our own, where a lot of people, they’ll realize that, “Hey, a lot of this stuff can be done from home so maybe we don’t need to rent as much space. Maybe we don’t need to have all this stuff and we can just have people do their stuff from home.” I think that’ll be a good thing.

Josh Anderson:
I don’t know. It’s one of those things that it’s becoming a groove and I’m kind of getting into it. The only other really bad thing is that I swear I don’t know what day it is most days. Thank goodness for calendars that actually mark where you are, because today’s Wednesday. I know that [inaudible 00:51:09] about an hour after I woke up because I thought it was Tuesday, I thought it was Thursday. I knew it wasn’t Friday. That was all I knew.

Belva Smith:
Tracy?

Tracy Castillo:
Yes, so challenges. I decided to make some huge life changes. I decided to move but I didn’t know coronavirus was going to knock us all out of the office at the same time. That was a huge challenge in itself. All those life changes, especially when you’re going through them, can be very stressful. Then you add on the stress of learning a new routine, such as working from home, schoolwork from home, and just trying to be patient with everybody who’s trying to figure out this all together.

Tracy Castillo:
That’s been the huge challenge and I’m finally in my groove, because the first week of the coronavirus, I had taken that week off to help myself move and now after I’ve moved, my house flooded and I had to have my house repaired and that was crazy. Then recently, I just had my car stolen and I got it back. It’s just been one thing after another.

Tracy Castillo:
In these bad times, you learn how good you really have it. I had a car that got stolen, but I had a car and I have a house that got flooded, but I have a house. Those are some things to look at on the brighter side of things. I am missing my volunteers at work. I really want to get back to work with them and have that day-to-day interaction with them.

Tracy Castillo:
I don’t feel like people are getting the services that they need right now, especially my volunteers because we put a lot of time and effort into these guys and helping them learn new job skills. Right now, everybody’s on an extended spring break or summer break and if you know anything about schoolwork, when you come back after this kind of a break, people are going to lose that training, so that’s really scary for me on having to retrain people.

Tracy Castillo:
The best thing about this has been reconnecting with my family. Surprising enough, we have not been on each other’s nerves as much as I thought we would. We kind of really are appreciating one another a lot more and it’s been really good. I’ve been cooking more and less Taco Bell but yeah. I’m okay with it. I’m ready to go back to the office and I do know now that I can do some of my work at home, but I’d rather be at the office.

Belva Smith:
I think that whenever our state gets to open back up and we find ourselves back in our office routine, I’m not even going to say norm because I don’t think we’re ever… It’s never going to be like it was before March 15th, but I think we’re all going to find that we’re continually making adjustments because I think there’s going to be a big adjustment to when we do get to reopen.

Belva Smith:
But for me, I feel a little bit guilty. You guys all kind of focused on work. My biggest concern with this whole thing is my oldest granddaughter is nine and I have not seen her since March the 6th. We’ve been able to do FaceTime and Zoom and stuff, but that is just not the same.

Belva Smith:
It’s the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing my granddaughters. My youngest one is four and we did have a door meeting. They actually brought her over and she stayed on the front porch and we sat in the entryway and visited. But it’s just not the same.

Belva Smith:
We’re doing family Zoom dinners and stuff like that, but it’s just not the same. I want to hug them and tickle them and all that stuff and I have not been able to do that. Hi, baby.

Belva Smith:
The next big bad thing I know I am facing like millions of other women in the world today. My nails! I have faithfully gone to see my same nail lady for 25 plus years every two, if no more than three weeks. I finally last Saturday had to sit down and spend five and a half hours to soak my layers off, trim my nails, and try to paint them and I hate it. They look terrible, so I cannot wait to get back to the salon.

Belva Smith:
That’s my two bad things. My good thing is I think I couldn’t be quarantined with anyone better than Todd. I mean, we truly are each other’s best friend and being able to spend all this extra time together has been very, very valuable. I guess are we quarantined or are we just on stay at home? I’m not sure.

Belva Smith:
But anyway, I couldn’t have been with a better person and I have been able to get things done, work related things done that I would not have gotten done had I still been on my same busy schedule. It has been very helpful in that way. I’ve sorted documents and emails and stuff that I just haven’t even looked at in awhile. Been able to do a lot of online learning, so a lot of good things as far as that goes.

Belva Smith:
But I am over it. I’m ready to get back out in the world. I haven’t been in a store in forever. Really kind of looking forward to being able to go shopping again and feel okay about it. We’ve got Mother’s Day coming up. I really want to shout out to all the moms who are cooking more and trying to teach and all that stuff.

Belva Smith:
I find myself cooking more too, Tracy. We used to eat out four out of seven nights and I’m cooking almost everyday once if not twice. That’s been kind of enjoyable, but not so much.

Tracy Castillo:
Belva, my problem was I ran out of ideas.

Belva Smith:
I know, I know. Trying to do the grocery list and make sure that you’ve got all the ingredients that you need to do what you want to do, that’s also very challenging. But the good news is it’s going to all end soon and then we’ll be faced with new challenges as the world reopens. You’ll find me at the nail salon. I’m just saying.

Tracy Castillo:
Very good.

Brian Norton:
That’s great, that’s great. Thanks for the question, Belva. We would love to hear from our listeners if you guys have any responses to that. Challenges or issues that you’ve seen come up throughout this COVID-19 situation. Love to hear from you. Give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124 or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org.

Brian Norton:
Want to thank the folks here on Zoom with me. Want to thank these folks and give them an opportunity to say goodbye to you guys. So, Belva.

Belva Smith:
Oh, I was looking at Josh’s mute and I was going to unmute myself. Take care, everybody. See you soon

Brian Norton:
And Tracy?

Tracy Castillo:
Bye, everyone. See you soon.

Brian Norton:
And Josh.

Josh Anderson:
Bye, everybody. See you next time.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Take an opportunity, listeners, if you have questions. You can send them our way. Would love to hear from you. In fact, without your questions, we don’t have a show, so be a part of it and we will see you guys in a couple weeks. Take care.

Brian Norton:
It seems like every week, we have at least one blooper, so here you go.

Belva Smith:
Josh, you’ve got hair.

Josh Anderson:
I got tons of hair. Ridiculous. If I work from home more, I think I might just go The Big Lebowski look, wear a robe and jelly slippers around all the time.

Josh Anderson:
I’m learning about dinosaurs on Bubble Guppies right now, so take your time. Anyway, we should probably stop answering the question and just let Belva ramble here. I think it’s more the champagne in it, Brian. It’s really good.

Tracy Castillo:
I’m starting to pick up on that too.

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 in the Indata Project.

Brian Norton:
ATFAQ is a proud member of the accessibility channel. Find more of our shows at www.accessibilitychannel.com.