ATFAQ125 – Q1. Handheld Magnifier or Phone App, Q2. Muting and Unmuting Zoom Participants w/ screenreader, Q3. Go to Resources for Apps, Q4. Accessibile websites for COVID-19 information, Q5. Apps simiilar to K3000 for PC, Q6. Wildcard: Things you’d like to continue as things get back to “normal”

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

Q1. Handheld Magnifier or Phone App, Q2. Muting and Unmuting Zoom Participants w/ screenreader, Q3. Go to Resources for Apps, Q4. Accessibile websites for COVID-19 information, Q5. Apps simiilar to K3000 for PC, Q6. Wildcard: Things you’d like to continue as things get back to “normal”

—————— Transcript Starts Here —————–

Brian Norton:
Welcome to ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions with your host, Brian Norton, Director of Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads. This is a show where we address your questions about assistive technology, the hardware, software, tools and gadgets that help people with disabilities lead more independent and fulfilling lives. Have a question you’d like it 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 125. 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 in, I just wanted to take a moment to go around and introduce the folks who are here with me today. We are all joining via Zoom. The first person I’ll introduce is Belva Smith. She is the vision team lead for our clinical assistive technology program. Belva, do you want to say hi to folks?

Belva Smith:
Hi, everybody, and happy Monday, right?

Brian Norton:
Absolutely. Also, the second person I want to introduce to you guys is Tracy Castillo. She’s the INDATA Program Manager. Tracy, do you want to say hi?

Tracy Castillo:
Sure do. Hey, everyone. It’s good to hear your voices again.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Then Josh Anderson is the third person. Josh is the manager of our clinical assistive technology program, and also the popular host of Assistive Technology Update, one of our other podcasts. Josh, you want to say hi to folks?

Josh Anderson:
Welcome back, everybody.

Brian Norton:
Great. Well, so for new listeners, I just want to take a moment talk to people about how our show works. We receive feedback and come across various assistive technology-related questions throughout the week. We’ve got a variety of ways for you to get us your questions. The first one would be our listener line. We’d love to have people leave us messages that we can play directly on air. You can do that through 317-721-7124. Or you can email us at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org, or send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. Three great ways to be able to get your questions and your feedback to us, and we monitor those and basically put our show together from the information that we get from you guys.

Brian Norton:
If you’re looking to tell people about how to find our show, you can do that in a variety of ways. We are just about in every place possible that you can find podcasts. That can be at iTunes, ATFAQ show.com, Stitcher, the Google Play Store, you can go to our website. It’s eastersealstech.com. Just a variety of ways, really anywhere and everywhere, you can find us. One of the new places you’ll find us is in Spotify. Spotify is just a new channel for us. You’ll find Assistive Technology Update, Accessibility Minute there as well. Check us out on Spotify, great way to be able to listen to the show.

Brian Norton:
All right, so we did get a bit of feedback this past week, two bits of feedback. The first one was from Claire. Her message read, “Hope you’re all keeping well and safe. It’s so great listening to your latest podcast. You asked about stories of using the digital magnifiers freeze button.” She mentioned, “I use mine for taking down reference numbers of different items in a list, and then typing them into a database during my summer job.” Claire, I want to thank you for that feedback. That’s a great, great use of the digital magnifiers freeze button. Again yeah, take a picture, stays on the device. You can move that device over to some other place, whether that’s the computer, which Claire’s using, or pen and paper, which other folks might use to be able to write those numbers down. Great. Great. Thank you for that, Claire. Really appreciate it.

Brian Norton:
The second person we heard from was Jane, and she wanted to answer a few questions, or send us a few bits of feedback from our last ATFAQ show. She mentions that there are some adjustable cell phone and iPad stands on Amazon in various price ranges. She said that, “You can search for iPad stand,” or I’m sorry, “adjustable iPad stand, and several will come up.” She also mentioned that Amazon has come out with a smart oven. Instead of just a smart microwave, this is also an air fryer, a convection oven, and a food warmer. She also mentioned that there’s a braille overlay available for it, and that you can use it with your voice or without your voice, and that it comes with a free Echo Dot, it’s only $249.

Brian Norton:
Amazon’s smart oven might be a great way to replace that talking microwave, or just the smart microwave that Amazon has. She says it’s a lot cheaper than the more traditional talking microwave from Magic Chef, which I think a lot of people use. It some $130 cheaper. Jane, I want to thank you for that feedback. Thank you very much for that, and for being a contributor on the show. Appreciate it.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our first question today is, “I have an old Pebble 4.3 inch magnifier that still works okay with rechargeable batteries. But I’ve had it for eight years. Would you recommend I get a new one, like the Pebble HD, or go with a magnifier app on my phone? Thanks for your advice.”

Belva Smith:
Well, I guess I come back to answer that with a question, and my first question would be is, does it still meet your needs? It’s one of those situations where if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. If the old eight year old Pebble is still meeting your needs, then certainly go ahead and use it until it no longer works any longer. However, if you have maybe reached a point where the 4.3 size screen isn’t big enough for you to get enough information, or perhaps the screen just isn’t as vibrant as you want it to be, perhaps, I know with some of the older handheld magnifiers, for example, you don’t get a true black. It’s kind of a washed out grayish sometimes. True black is usually very helpful for people with different impairments.

Belva Smith:
The short answer is if it’s still working, no, don’t replace it, because as we know, those things are very expensive. Of course, if you do have a smartphone, then go ahead and take a look at some of the different, I mean, there are many, many, many different apps available for your smartphone, whether it’s an iPhone or an Android, that can assist as a handheld magnifier. But oftentimes, what I find with my consumers is, though they can use their phone, they don’t really like using their phone, because it’s very stability-sensitive, I want to say. It’s not as forgiving as your handheld magnifier might be with the handle. Holding it steady enough to actually get a good view can be tricky. But then you could also possibly take a look at something that seeing AI, which is free, but only available on the iPhone, that would be able to not only magnify it for you, but read it to you.

Belva Smith:
I would never suggest that a person replace a piece of assistive technology that is still meeting their needs just because something new has come out. Maybe I’ve been kind of brainwashed by our payer sources to believe that that’s the right way to do business. But even myself, if it were me using it, I probably wouldn’t want to replace it, unless I absolutely had to. Josh, what’s your thoughts?

Josh Anderson:
I agree with you then. Yeah, cost is definitely a big thing. If it’s still meeting your needs, if it does what you need it to do, it’s still working good with the rechargeable batteries, I would say probably keep it. If you’re done with it, the newer ones do have, like you said Belva, better screen, you’re going to have a little bit better cameras, so you’re going to get a little crisper picture. But other than that, I think the regular Pebble HD is still like 4.3, isn’t it? Maybe five?

Belva Smith:
No, I think it’s the same size.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. I think it’s the same size, just has a little bit different. Size-wise, you’re not really going to tell much difference. But I would definitely say since you have a cell phone or something, see if it can maybe supplement a little bit. If not, replace that handheld magnifier. But I don’t know, if you have an iPhone, it’s got a magnifier built right in that could be used. It can be a good backup, and it’ll give you a chance to see, “Is that enough to meet my needs?” Because if it is, and then if your Pebble does die, well, maybe you can get by with just the cell phone. Just because Belva didn’t say this, don’t forget about your if you’re in the United States, your tech projects where you can go borrow some different kinds of magnifiers.

Josh Anderson:
You’ve had it eight years. They’ve come a long way really. They’re still built about the same, but different form factors. They come up into about, I think there’s 10 inch, or even 12 inch ones now. If you need more information, some of them have OCR and can read back to you. Definitely, whenever you go to get a new one, I would say, try out your local tech act and see if you can borrow a couple different ones to really see what meets your needs, because you may love the Pebble the whole time you’ve had it, you may say, “Well, I was going to get the same thing.” There might be something else out there that’s around the same cost that’s 10 times better and meet your needs even more. I’d definitely say do your homework, but Belva, I’m in the same boat as you. Just because [inaudible 00:10:30] doesn’t necessarily mean I have to buy it. If it still meet your needs, hey, use it as long as you can.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, and I would agree with-

Belva Smith:
[crosstalk 00:10:37]. That was my coworker in the background.

Brian Norton:
No problem. I was just going to jump in there too. I think there’s a lot to be said. If you already have your smartphone, start using it, see what it can do for you. Is it really what you’re looking for? Does it have the features you’re looking for? You may find out pretty quickly that it’s not, and so then going with one of those more traditional Pebble HD, or Freedom Scientific. What do they have? The Ruby might be an option for you. Yeah, I think that’s a great answer. I’d love to just open it up to folks. Maybe you’ve had the same kind of questions and had some experience going back and forth, and maybe some experience about how you felt about that change going from either a traditional magnifying device to your phone, or vice versa. Let us know what you think. Love to hear from you. Our phone number’s 317-721-7124, or you can send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Thanks so much.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question is, this one is from Danny, this is a question for ATFAQ group. “If you are a blind host for a Zoom call, how would you identify an individual by releasing that individual to ask a question?” Essentially, what he’s looking to do is, if a person has a question to ask, how would you as the host identify them, first off, and then go to them and unmute their microphone, considering that they would all be muted at that time. Of course, this would be using a screen reader, which makes it a little bit more difficult. Basically, are there commands for identifying an individual and allowing them to release their microphones so they can have a conversation?

Belva Smith:
I think as the host if you’re hosting a meeting, the first thing you want to do is let your participants, or make them aware that if they do have a question, probably the best way for them to get that question out is through the chat window. Because there they can type in their question, and the screen reader can identify that Brian Norton has asked this question, and you can choose to answer it at that time, either in the chat window, or just have the question read to you and give the answer verbally. Also, I would highly suggest, if at all possible, that you have a cohost. The reason I would suggest a cohost is because if for some reason, and you as the host lose connection, and this stuff happened, then Zoom would automatically jump to the cohost to take lead of the meeting.

Belva Smith:
Then you wouldn’t have to worry that somebody crazy might get lead of your meeting. That cohost can also help keep track of any questions that are coming in. I do know that Hartgen’s, I don’t think I’m saying it right, but it’s H-A-R-T-G-E-N Consulting, they have two sets of JAWS scripts that are available for Zoom. One of them is a free version, and it just gives you a few additional key commands that can be used if you’re using Zoom and JAWS together. But then they also have a professional version, which is not free, and I’m not exactly sure of the price, but I’m thinking it’s like 42.99. It’s under $45, and they’re calling it the professional version because it’s really focused on being a presenter with Zoom, rather than just a participant.

Belva Smith:
If you actually go to their website, which is www.H-A-R-T-G-E-N.org/resume, you can get all of the information about the differences between these two sets of scripts. They lay it out, or bullet point it as to what you get with the free one and what you get for the paid version. Then also, my last bit of information for this one is Freedom Scientific does have in their archived list of trainings, they do have a very, very good training session in there that’s about 45 minutes on using Zoom with JAWS.

Josh Anderson:
A couple of things you can do is one thing if you’re the presenter or the host, you can check a box when you start that meeting to allow the users to unmute themselves, which can be a really great way, especially if you’re planning on having a question period. As the presenter or the, I don’t know what do they call it, the Zoom Master. You’re hosting the meeting. I’m not sure what the word is.

Brian Norton:
Host. Host.

Josh Anderson:
Host? I like Zoom Master. I’m going to try to-

Tracy Castillo:
[crosstalk 00:15:47] Master. Thank you.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. We’re going to [inaudible 00:15:50] Zoom Master in there, but if you are the host, the Zoom Master, whatever, if you press Alt M, that will mute or unmute everyone but you. It can be something where if you plan on having a question period, you can easily just do that when the questions open it up for questions and people can do it. But probably the best way if you’re trying to do a person by person is to allow them to unmute themselves. You’re going to run into the problem of maybe people interrupting while you’re in the middle of something, or that person that is out on a windy day, so you get all that background noise and everything, but that’s probably the best way because I looked and I cannot really find an easy way at all to go person by person, and really know if they’re there.

Josh Anderson:
Now, I haven’t used it a whole lot with a screen reader, at least not for that kind of use, so I know that you can allow folks to raise their hand, but I’m not sure if with a screen reader if you get any kind of information. If it says that someone has their hand raised, or even if you bring up the participants panel, if it would tell you whose hand was raised so you know to be able to go and be able to unmute them each way. But just for speed and quickness, I would say yeah, Alt M is great because you can mute or unmute everyone, as opposed to Alt A, which will mute or unmute the person, or you, I guess.

Belva Smith:
I’ve been in those, I’ve attended some meetings where the host did not choose to have everyone come in muted. It’s kind of nightmarish when you’ve got 20 or 30 people in a room and microphones that are not muted. People were begging, “Please mute your microphone in the chat window.” Unmuting everybody is risky, so Josh, I do 100% agree. If they’re going to be unmuted, they should do it themselves.

Brian Norton:
That’s really a great point. I would also direct people if you’re wanting a list of keystrokes, again, now if you’re going to get what Belva mentioned with professional script files, or those types of things, the keystrokes may change for some of the things that they would allow you to do, or maybe get added to. I know we as a group sat down and put together a list of keystrokes for both Windows and Mac, as well as a helpful how-to guide on our website. If you go to our website, it’s eastersealstech.com, you can go to the resources menu option. If you go down to PDF downloads, underneath there, you’re going to find zoom meetings with JAWS, and underneath that heading, you’ll find three documents. One’s the overview, and then the other ones are two keystroke documents, one for Mac and one for Windows.

Brian Norton:
That’ll get you quickly started with some helpful keystrokes with how to navigate the Zoom meeting whether you’re using a Mac or a Windows computer, doesn’t matter, you can navigate that particular user interface pretty well with just the keystrokes that are there. But great, great suggestions. I’d just open it up to folks who are listening. If you’ve had any experience of being the host and trying to handle questions, love to hear from you. You can give us a call on our listener line, it’s 317-721-7124, or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. We’d love to hear from you. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question is, “I have a hard time looking for apps that will fit my needs. Are there sites you would suggest where I could learn more about apps that fit my needs?” As I read this question, it’s pretty generic. I’m not exactly sure what needs they’re looking to fit. What disability, or is it cognitive, is it physical? What are they actually trying to do with the device? But I think we can answer this question, because I have a couple of places, or a few places that I go to for apps when I’m looking for certain things, for certain folks, and they get me to different places.

Brian Norton:
The first one I’ll mention is bridgingapps.org. Bridgingapps.org is at an Easter Seals affiliate in basically, Houston, Texas, and they’ve got a really great search tool. When you go there, you can look things up by category, you can look apps up by age, by price, by skill, whether it’s accessing information, is it expressive skills, talking about nutrition, I mean, so many different things you can sort through the different apps with so you can look at by skills, by common core if you’re in education. Is it English, language arts, math, or science? You can also look up by TEKS, English language, arts, or math, grade level, the type of mobile device you use. It’s a really robust search tool for folks to be able to use to find the apps that would work well for them.

Brian Norton:
The other thing I really love about this site is the fact that it is not manufacturers who leave, basically, reviews on the different apps. If you go to the Apple Store, you’re probably going to get 10 reviews right away from the manufacturer themselves talking about how great their product is. Whereas here, you’ve got real therapists, you’ve got families, moms, who use these apps with their kids doing the reviews themselves. It’s just a really great, great tool. Bridgingapps.org is where I would send you to check out their tool. It’s a really great app, a really great resource, and it’s one that we have tapped into many, many times over the years. I think it’s kind of a regular contributor on our AT Update podcast. Is that right, Josh?

Josh Anderson:
Yes. Yes, Brian, they are. Sorry, I was muted and had too many things open. Not only that, but actually, the director there, Christian Reid was the guest on Assistive Technology Update number 470, which came out at the end of May. If you want to learn a whole lot more about him, go back and check that out.

Brian Norton:
Great.

Tracy Castillo:
I’m over here on their website right now. I think it’s awesome. You can even say what age group you want to have.

Brian Norton:
Yeah.

Tracy Castillo:
I’m looking at ones for my six year old, Science apps. That’s pretty neat.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, it’s a really, really great tool, really great resource. Definitely check them out when you’re looking for apps, because we used to keep an app list, and we just found that there were other places that did it better than we did. We said, “Why don’t we just point them to the folks who really have this down and do a really great job of helping people find what they’re looking for?”

Brian Norton:
Another tool I’ll tell people about is Tools for Life, which is the Georgia State AT program. It’s at Georgia Tech University. If you look up Tools for Life, really great search tool that they have as well to be able to sort through some different apps. You’ve got some different ways to slice and dice the types of apps that are going to get returned to you as you look for them. Tools for life would be another really great one. Then AppleVis is another one as well. They are a little bit different in that they’re mostly Apple, although they do talk about Android a lot. But they are also very targeted toward, I believe, the visually impaired, or folks who are blind and talk about it from a blind, low vision perspective. But they have a lot of forums that you can post questions in, and people will get back to you and answer those questions, but really focused on Apple and some Android, but very, very blind and low vision-focused.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, Brian, I agree. I think all of those that you mentioned are great. But also, let’s not forget your App Store search. Now, I got to say, I haven’t done this with an Android device, because again, we are primarily Apple. But just for fun, I went to the search on the Apple App Store and put in apps for the blind. I wish it gave me a number for the results, but it didn’t. But I can tell you that the list just literally went on and on and on and on and on and on. It’s way less targeted than some of the places that Brian mentioned. But again, you’re going to get a huge result. I always suggest when you’re looking for specific apps, start out with the free ones, because if the free one meets your needs, then you don’t have to buy it. If you get it and you decide that it doesn’t meet your needs, it’s real simple to just go ahead and delete it and remove it.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, I think all of those were good suggestions. I have used AppleVis. I’ve looked at BridgingApps, but I noticed that they don’t have a whole lot of apps for the visually impaired. I typically go to AppleVis for that, or just to the App Store.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. I’ll throw in there too, on the App Store, if you scroll down to the bottom, they have a menu option for apps for accessibility. If you go there, they break things up into categories like vision-related apps, learning and literacy types of apps. You get some different headings when you go there. Look for apps for accessibility, and there’s some really great resources there as well. You’re right, not to steer people away from your traditional Google Play Store, or the App Store for iTunes, but again, I think probably the main difference with these other tools is they’re vetted a little bit differently from … so you’re not really getting it clouded by manufacturers doing their own reviews, you’re getting real life people doing those types of things. But the app stores, they do a really good job of helping you find apps for different types of disabilities or needs that you might have. That’s a great point.

Tracy Castillo:
I have something I wanted to say.

Brian Norton:
Sure.

Tracy Castillo:
On Belva, you went and said … Josh is shaking his head. No. Belva, you said you were at the Play Store. You typed in apps for blind?

Belva Smith:
No, I wasn’t at the Play Store. I was at the App Store.

Tracy Castillo:
At the App Store. I was on the app store as well, but I’ve put vision apps.

Belva Smith:
Yeah.

Tracy Castillo:
I came out with a handful. I guess another thing to bring up is if you’re not getting the results you want, change what you’re asking for [crosstalk 00:27:00].

Belva Smith:
You’re right, you’re right. The words that you use for your search mean everything as far as your results go. Yeah,

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. I think there should be a whole course on searching for things on Google, searching for things in the App Store, and the different places you go, because you’re right, you’ll get different results based on the words you use, and you got to become a little bit skilled at honing in on what those keywords are going to be that are going to get you the app that you’re really looking for. That’s a great point. I just want to open this up to our other listeners. If you have a resource that you use for apps, let us know, let our listeners know as well. You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124, or you can send us an email at tech@eastersealcrossroads.org. Love to hear from you. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question is, “I’m looking for accessible COVID-19 information, things like testing results, statistics, et cetera, on the web. Are there places you would suggest that we would be able to find that would be accessible with the screen reader?” Belva, you mentioned you had a couple.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. Accessliving.org, they have a great COVID-19 resource page, we’ll call it, for the disability community, and then also www.ohsu.edu. They also have a really good COVID-19 section. It’s specifically for the visual impairments. I’m assuming that must mean that if you’re using a screen magnifier or a screen reader, you should be able. I think too that it’s safe to say that both of those would give you reliable information because I think Where to get it is important, but it’s also can you trust where you’re getting it? There’s so much misinformation, and the information seems to be changing, even now, from day to day to day to day. Yeah, but I found both of those to be full of good information, and what I would consider to be reliable as well as accessible.

Brian Norton:
I’ll also throw out-

Belva Smith:
[crosstalk 00:29:31].

Brian Norton:
Oh, yeah.

Belva Smith:
Go ahead now.

Brian Norton:
No.

Belva Smith:
I think you found the other one.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. The other one that I’ve heard a lot about is this, it’s called cvstats.net. Again, I don’t know exactly if you can just put that in your web browser address bar and get there, but it’s https://cvstats.net. This was specifically put together. I think early on, we all noticed that a lot of the statistics that were out there were put in graphical format, which weren’t being able to be read by screen readers, and so it was impossible for folks who are blind and visually impaired, who use a screen reader to access the web, to be able to understand or use the information that was out there. They took it on themselves to create this site, and it’s really, really great. You can break things down either globally, by country, or by states here in the United States.

Brian Norton:
It gives you lots of really great information about the number of cases, the number of active cases, how many were reported today, how many deaths there are, how many overall deaths, even broken down from state to state, the number of tests that have been given, and the number of tests per 1 million of individuals. Lots of really great information. They put it into a table format, which is easier read by a screen reader, which I thought was just really great. Cvstats.net would be another one.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, Brian, you just put that in your web browser, and it takes you directly to the website. There’s a few links at the top of that page, then a lot of textual information, and a few more links at the bottom of the page. But to just look at the page, it looks beautiful. If all web pages could look as clean and neat, that would be awesome. Yeah.

Tracy Castillo:
Could you spell that, because I’m having a hard time finding it?

Brian Norton:
Yeah.

Tracy Castillo:
Is it CV? I don’t know if that-

Brian Norton:
CV, so C, as in Charlie, V is in Victor, stats.net. Real simple, easy to use, little website with … They call it the Accessible COVID-19 Statistics Tracker. A great, great resource for folks. I know this is kind of a short answer, but three really great sites to look at. If folks have other sites that they’re using, we’d love to hear from you on those. You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124, or just send us an email with the website. Love to be able to check it out and provide it as a resource to the folks who are listening. Thank you so much.

Brian Norton:
All right, so my next question is, “I use Kurzweil 3000 to assist me with my textbooks at school, and I’m looking for an app that would offer me similar tools and features on my tablet device.” They mentioned they have an iOS device. “Do you have any recommendations?”

Josh Anderson:
I think to break this one down a little bit, because Kurzweil 3000’s a very, very robust program. It’s got a lot of features in there. Of course, it does do the scan read, so it can take text and turn it into speech so that you can always have that. If they’re just using it for that kind of feature, then there’s a lot of different apps that can help. But Kurzweil also lets you pull that information out and put it into notes. It lets you do mind mapping. You can build those and make outlines and things. You’re going to highlight text, pull it out, have it moved to other nodes, and put an outline format, depending on what color importance you set it.

Josh Anderson:
Kurzweil 3000 does a lot of stuff. It depends. Is there one app out there that can do all those things? No, I don’t think so, or if there is I’m not completely aware of it. But if you’re just needing it maybe to read to you, then there’s a lot of different ones. There’s K-NFB Reader that can do it. Depending on if you need to save it, or how much you need to do, you can use Seeing AI on your iOS device for free. Just have texts and worksheets and things read to you. They’re not going to give you all those features about pulling out text, about highlighting, about doing all that kind of stuff, but if you just need that reading component, they could do that.

Josh Anderson:
If you need the mind mapping part and then that kind of information, I use Inspiration Maps quite a bit. Depending on how much you need it, you can probably get by with the free version. I just like it because it does have the feature where if you make a big mind map, you can just touch the screen, it’ll switch it over to an outline for you. If you need that feature, there’s different, and that’s not the only one. There’s lots of mind mapping apps out there. It just depends on what you need. But really, it’s I think finding the features of Kurzweil 3000, you use the most in order to find the right app that’s going to be able to do it for you. I know Brian, you use a couple of apps that do have some of those same features. Maybe not all, but at least some of them.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, they-

Belva Smith:
Doesn’t Kurzweil 3000 still have the iPad app, or did they do away with that?

Brian Norton:
They have an iPad app, but it’s not Kurzweil for the iPad. It’s a eBook reader. I forget the name of it, but it’s not something that gives you all the features that Kurzweil provides on a computer.

Belva Smith:
Okay, because yeah, if you look in the App Store, Kurzweil 3000 is there, but I was assuming that it must be limited as to the features that it can offer. It does say that it is only available for the iPad, and also, the reviews are not very good because it says it’s extremely slow. But I’m assuming again, like you were saying, Josh, it’s going to be important to know what it is you’re using Kurzweil for.

Josh Anderson:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brian Norton:
Yeah. I was going to mention just a few here. The first one is ClaroPDF. ClaroPDF is the closest I’ve ever seen an app get to what Kurzweil 3000 provides on a computer. I really love the app. It’s one that I demonstrate for lots of folks as I meet with them if I’m going to schools or universities to demonstrate different types of devices to folks. I’m usually bringing ClaroPDF because it has such great features. The first thing it does is you can take a picture of a document. It will convert it to a text PDF, and then allows you to be able to have it spoken with highlighting, so as it reads it. That’s really what Kurzweil 3000 does for folks. It’s a document, scan and read system. That’s the first and foremost thing that it provides folks. ClaroPDF does that, much like voiceover, the things you mentioned, Josh, earlier.

Brian Norton:
The other things that it does though, is it does quite a bit with annotations, notes and comments. You can do highlights, you can do underscoring, strikeouts, notes, you can put free text directly into the PDF, you can draw lines, or circles, or shapes. A lot of the annotation features that Kurzweil 3000 provides, ClaroPDF also provide you. You can also do recording. Let’s say you’re sitting in class, and the teacher sent you a PowerPoint beforehand, you can sit there and record what the teacher is reviewing as they go through the PowerPoints and advance through your document. You’re not only getting recording, but you can also do video as well. It’ll access your mobile devices video camera to allow you to capture a video of the professor, if it’s allowable in your classroom. Something to consider there.

Brian Norton:
It’s just such a really good tool. You can get some high quality voices, so not just your standard ones that come on most devices, you can download some high quality voices to the program. Definitely check out ClaroPDF. It’s a really nice app and does quite a bit for folks. Then the other one I wanted to make sure I mentioned, because I’ve used this quite a bit in the past as well, it’s called Voice Dream. Really, they really talk about it. It’s basically reading with your ears. It’s basically a text reader or a document reader. You can upload documents directly to it, and then basically, have that spoken to you. You’ve got some annotation features, not nearly the amount that ClaroPDF provides, but you can identify things as you hear what you’re listening to, and mark, basically, the tape, or where that particular important information is in the document, and follow along, or get back to it later on, if you need to as well.

Brian Norton:
Voice Dream and ClaroPDF are the ones that I’ve used the most, and seem to get you, at least some of the, obviously, the text to speech piece of it that Kurzweil 3000 provides. But it will also give you the annotation features that Kurzweil 3000 provides. Two apps I would keep in mind as you’re looking for tools like that.

Belva Smith:
How much are they, Brian?

Brian Norton:
ClaroPDF’s under 10 bucks, and I believe Voice Dream’s about that range as well. I’d have to go into the App Store to check it out, but I believe they’re both under $10.

Belva Smith:
Okay, so very inexpensive as well.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. Yeah. In fact, I’m looking them up now. ClaroPDF-

Josh Anderson:
[crosstalk 00:39:34]. I do Brian, you can do a free version, I think, or maybe a trial, or something with those, if I remember correctly. You could always try them out definitely before you go off and buy them.

Brian Norton:
Right. Yeah. Yeah, definitely, you can do that. See, now I’ve already purchased them, so it’s not giving me the price when I go to the App Store, but-

Belva Smith:
Yeah, that’s what happens with the App Store.

Brian Norton:
Yeah.

Belva Smith:
This would be a good place though to throw in your local AT Act, because hopefully, most of them are going to have situations like we do where we have tablets that already have a whole bunch of different apps on them. Perhaps you could contact them and say, “Hey, I need to borrow an iPad that’s got Voice Dream or other apps that would be comparable.” Then that way you could try it out definitely for free without having to purchase it. How would they contact our local AT Act, or their local AT Act?

Brian Norton:
Yeah. Well, to figure out who your local AT Act is, you can go to eastersealstech.com/states, be able to look that up there, and you’ll have the contact information for their different program areas, or the director at that program. You can reach out, you can find their contact information at eastersealstech.com/states. I’d just love to open it up to folks. If you needed a tool like Kurzweil 3000 or know someone who did, and you were able to find an app, maybe one that we haven’t mentioned here, let us know what you found. Love to be able to share it with folks. Again, looking for something that’s Kurzweil 3000-esque to be able to give to folks. You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124, or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Love to hear from you. Thanks.

Speaker 4:
And now, it’s time for the wildcard question.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question is the wildcard question, and this is where Belva has a question for us. I haven’t talked to her about it, but hopefully, she’s got one for us. Belva, what do you have for us today?

Belva Smith:
We’re going back to the second to the last question I was going to talk about COVID. What is something that you have discovered since COVID that you are going to incorporate into your new norm? Because we’ve all had to learn how to do so many things, pretty much everything differently. I know for myself, I have two things that I incorporated because of COVID, and I plan to continue. One of them is so simple. But at home in your bathroom, you have hand towels, or if you’re like me, you have hand towels. I found it to be disgusting to be using, because I don’t wash the hand towel every day. If I’m lucky, it gets thrown in the wash once a week. How many times have I dried my hands on that same dirty towel? I don’t know. Sometimes I even wipe my mouth after brushing my teeth. I did away with the hand towels and brought paper towels into the bathroom. Now I have a roll of paper towels in both bathrooms and make sure they’re the selected size so that we’re not wasting a whole paper towel. But that’s something that I know I’m going to continue to do from here on forward.

Belva Smith:
Another thing that I found, and I’m surprised that I’ve never really done this before, but almost we have a lot of restaurants by us because we’re right here by the highway, and so we have a lot of good restaurants by us. But I found that because of COVID and doing the carry out only, it’s so convenient to get online and order your food for pickup. We went to one of the local restaurants and waited in line like 35 minutes to get through the drive-through because the line was so long. But I kept seeing all these people going around, as in pulling in and pulling right back out, pulling in and pulling right back out. It’s because they had ordered online and were just driving in to pick up their food. I’m going to continue to do that, and I hope that they continue to do the pickup as easy as it is, because literally, by the time I place the order and drive to the restaurant, all I have to do is step out of the car, step in the door, and they have the food sitting right there bagged up with my name on it, and you’ve already paid for it, so you just pick it up and go. It’s just so quick and so easy. I’m going to continue to do that. Hopefully, the restaurants will continue to pick up process.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, I’ll jump in.

Belva Smith:
What have you guys found?

Brian Norton:
I’ll jump in. A couple things with me. I’ve found I do agree with you about the restaurant stuff. That’s been a little eye-opening to me and how easy and simple it is. And some of the deals you can get with the restaurant types of things. We ordered from bonefish, and we got enough food for two meals on some deals that they were running. I think that’s a really, really great thing, and a tool I just had never used. We would go to the restaurant all the time. We never ordered, and could just run in and get takeout for home, and so really interested in that.

Brian Norton:
But I really think for me, it’s a couple things. Being the director of our program, I like two things that we’ve done recently. The first is online meetings. We always did online meetings. We’ve got a couple of remote employees, and we’ve always allowed them to Zoom in. I think we’re going to do more of that. A couple of benefits I’ve found with online meetings is I find people paying more attention. They’re more attentive, and I don’t know if that’s because you can tell as the host, or as other people in the meeting if people are turning away or doing something different, but it seems like people are just more attentive in the online space.

Brian Norton:
But then also it’s just working from home, I’ve always been someone who just felt like my workplace is I go into work, I go into work, 8:00 to 5:00, I go into work, those kinds of things. I found that I could really do more than I ever thought I could do from home. Just incorporating some flexibility with staff and with folks to say, “If you don’t need to be here, don’t need to come, kind of thing.” Now, obviously, we all have certain things that have to be done at work, but I was really surprised at the number of things that I could do here that I wouldn’t have thought that I could do 70, 75% of my job from here, from my home.

Belva Smith:
That’s a very big one, Brian. I noticed like Twitter, most of their employees are going to continue to work from home. They’re not going to be returning to the office. Before, they didn’t know they could do it, and now, they know they can do it.

Brian Norton:
Right.

Tracy Castillo:
I see more deductions [inaudible 00:47:05]. My favorite thing is just because we’ve been at home, is cooking from home. I’ve been doing a lot more cooking. One thing I’ve incorporated into my life, into my kitchen is Gordon Ramsay YouTube videos. I found a way to make it more ideas on what to cook. Yeah. By the way, I think he has a very strong stove, because I’ve put my stove on high heat. I’ve had the video running and my meat does not cook as fast as his. He’s got a very powerful gas stove. Yeah, so that’s one of the things, just more cooking and healthier eating. One of my favorite restaurants is Taco Bell, and I hadn’t had Taco Bell in two months, and then after I did, it was gross. I’m sorry, Taco Bell.

Belva Smith:
Oh, no, no, no, Taco Bell’s still delicious.

Tracy Castillo:
I don’t know. Maybe it was a hand sanitizer wrapped in the lettuce. I don’t know. It was kind of gross. I didn’t really enjoy it. I was real anxious to eat it. I was like, “Yay, I got a taco from Taco Bell,” and did not work out. Yeah, and I like the online meetings as well. [inaudible 00:48:36], or something I’d like for it to stick around.

Josh Anderson:
I agree. I do like the online meetings. Brian, I’m with you. I do like working from home, somewhat. It’s nice to go to the office every once in a while, but I can get most of my stuff done from here. It’s just getting used to it. Now that I actually have a set up space, it’s much easier than trying to just move around from countertop to countertop.

Josh Anderson:
One thing that I hope stays is I’ve been able to get together my friends every Friday night and play poker. We hadn’t been able to do that like three years, where we could get everyone together. Being able to do it online is so much easier, and just no one has to drive anywhere, you don’t have to wait on people to get there. It’s just you log in, and boom, you’re right there doing stuff. So that’s kind of cool. I was talking to my wife yesterday though, and with the exception of the outside world, we had a baby a year and a half ago, so we’ve been on social isolation for 18 months when this started. It didn’t feel that different because when you have a newborn, you’re not staying out past 8:00 PM, you’re not really going out and doing a whole heck of a lot. You try to do your grocery shopping as quick as you can and as few times as possible, so I don’t know, and I do think the work from home thing, you will see, I think it was just frowned upon for a long time, but everything I’ve seen, most people are more productive when they work from home.

Josh Anderson:
I know there, for at least the first month, I was overly productive because I didn’t know when to stop, when to start. It was like, “Well, I’m awake, I should be working. Well, time to go to bed, I should probably stop.” But now that I can actually set limits, I do feel like I get about as much done here as I do the office, especially right now, just because we haven’t seen each other in a long time, so when you do run into somebody in the office, the next 45 minutes is spent talking to them 10 feet away, and not as much seems to get done.

Belva Smith:
I think working from home and online meetings are probably two of the most popular things that people thought before all of this, they couldn’t do, wouldn’t do. And after having been forced to do it, are realizing, “Huh, I can do that, and hey, in a lot of ways, it’s better.” I think that there’s going to be a lot of people who are now going to be … It’s so funny because, I mean, our clients especially, they’re always saying they want a work from home job, and I used to be like, “Oh, that’s almost impossible to find.” Well, that’s not going to be the case maybe in the future. Right?

Tracy Castillo:
Right. I have a very personal experience with that as well. I was working with one of my volunteers who was trying to get a work from home position, and that was very difficult for them. Eventually, they found something amazing. But it was really difficult for them to find something, and now, everyone’s working from home.

Belva Smith:
[crosstalk 00:51:28].

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah, but when you work from home, and what I learned in this case, they’re not even the same state.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, that’s true.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, thank you guys. That was a great show, and that’s a wrap. No, I appreciate it. Great question, Belva. That’s something to think about and ponder, because I think our world is going to change for sure. Hey, just want to let our listeners know that again, if you have questions, or any feedback from the questions we answered in today’s show, let us know. We’d love to hear from you. You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124, or you can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ, or email us at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. We’d love to hear from you. Love your questions, love your feedback. In fact, without those, we don’t really have a show. But before we go, I want to make sure I give folks just an opportunity to say goodbye to everybody. Just go around the room. Belva, want to say something to our listeners?

Belva Smith:
Bye, everybody.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. And then, Tracy.

Tracy Castillo:
Bye, everyone. Don’t forget to send us your questions. We enjoy answering them.

Brian Norton:
Exactly, exactly. And then, Josh.

Josh Anderson:
Bye, everyone. We’ll see you next time.

Brian Norton:
All righty, guys. Well, hey, have a good one, and we will talk to you guys later. Sounds good. Well, hey, I want to thank everybody here. I want to thank you guys for being here with us to help answer these questions. I want to give you guys an opportunity to say goodbye to our listeners. And so Belva, I’ll let you go first.

Belva Smith:
Thanks for listening, everybody. See you in a couple of weeks.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. And then Tracy.

Tracy Castillo:
Goodbye, everyone. See you, or hope you get to hear me next time.

Brian Norton:
And then Josh.

Josh Anderson:
Going to see you next time.

Belva Smith:
Wash your hands, everybody.

Brian Norton:
That’s right, that’s right. Also, send us your questions if you guys have questions, or your feedback, if you have feedback, 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 send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ, or an email to tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. We’d love to hear from you. Have a great one. We’ll talk to you later. Bye-bye.

Speaker 4:
It seems like every week we have at least one blooper, so here you go.

Tracy Castillo:
He said mine was fine, but Belva’s was low.

Belva Smith:
Well, that’s the first time I’ve ever been accused of being low.

Tracy Castillo:
That’s what I’m thinking. Right.

Belva Smith:
But I just realized I had my sweater on wrong side out.

Brian Norton:
Lovely.

Belva Smith:
What’s the first question?

Brian Norton:
It’s about-

Belva Smith:
Yeah, yeah, I got it. But-

Josh Anderson:
Lose your background for when you have technical difficulties.

Speaker 4:
Information provided on Assistive Technology FAQ does not constitute a product endorsement. Our comments are not intended as recommendations, nor is our show evaluative in nature. Assistive Technology FAQ is hosted and produced by Brian Norton, gets editorial help by Josh Anderson and Belva Smith, and receives support from Easter Seals Crossroads and the INDATA Project. ATFAQ is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more of our shows at www.accessibilitychannel.com.