ATFAQ 126 – Q1. Automatic Book Scanners, Q2. AT assessment guidelines, Q3. Rent Assistive Technology, Q4. Accessible Video Conferencing, Q5. Large Bluetooth Keyboards, Q6. Wildcard: ride-sharing here for the long haul?

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Panel: Brian Norton, Josh Anderson, Belva Smith, Tracy Castillo – Q1. Automatic Book Scanners, Q2. AT assessment guidelines, Q3. Rent Assistive Technology, Q4. Accessible Video Conferencing, Q5. Large Bluetooth Keyboards, Q6. Wildcard: ride-sharing here for the long haul?

———– Transcript Starts Here —————
Brian Norton:
Hello and welcome to ATFAQ episode 126. 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, just want to take a moment to go around and introduce the folks who are here on Zoom with me today. The first is we have Belva Smith. She’s the vision team lead for our clinical assistive technology team here at Easterseals Crossroads. Belva, you want to say hey?

Belva Smith:
Hey everybody. Welcome to show 126.

Brian Norton:
Wow. Wow. That’s a lot of shows.

Belva Smith:
Yeah.

Brian Norton:
Also want to introduce Josh Anderson. We’re not going to make him go last. We’ll make him go right in the middle. But Josh is the manager of our clinical assistive technology program, and he is also the popular host of AT Update, one of our other podcasts here at Easterseals Crossroads and a part of the Accessibility Channel. Josh, you want to say hey?

Josh Anderson:
Hi everybody.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. And then last but very not least is Tracy Castillo. Tracy is the INDATA manager, program manager for INDATA. Tracy, do you want to say hey?

Tracy Castillo:
Hey everyone. It’s nice to be back.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Excellent. Again, we are here on Zoom for episode 126. So just glad that you guys are taking some time to tune in with us this week. Want to give folks who are new to our show just an opportunity to learn a little bit about our show and how it works. So we receive feedback and come across various assistive technology related questions throughout the week, and we put those into a show. Want to give you guys a variety of ways if you have questions to send them our way. The first is through our listener line, that’s 317-721-7124 or you can send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org or send us a tweet with the #ATFAQ. Three great ways to be able to get us your questions and your feedback. And we want love to hear from you.

Brian Norton:
Would also love to give you an opportunity to tell folks about our show and to send them to places where they can find it. You can find our show on iTunes, on our website ATFAQshow.com or Eastersealstech.com, or you can go to Stitcher, the Google Play store, and again another place that you can find us is on Spotify. Spotify, we just started to recently within the last six months put our shows up onto Spotify. So you can find it there as well. So just a variety of different places you can find the show. Let folks know we’d love to have them tune in sometime.

Brian Norton:
All right. So the first question for the day is, “I’m blind and I’m looking for an automatic book scanner, something for my home or office. Would one that flips the pages be outrageously expensive? Thanks.” So I don’t know about a book scanner necessarily. So I know there are some more blind, low vision specific devices that do that. I’m thinking Freedom Scientific had one. It was called the Sarah Scanner that it could recognize page flips, and there was a few other ones out there. I’m not sure if the Eye-Pal SOLO does that or if that’s just still one page at a time. But I know there are some blind, low vision specific book scanners that would allow you to do those. And if you’re looking for something that’s blind and low vision specific, those are typically going to be a little expensive and maybe, Belva, you can contribute on some of that stuff. But I just wanted to make sure folks are… They knew about maybe a less expensive way to make things happen for them if they’re looking for a way to scan books.

Brian Norton:
And the first way is you might see about cutting the binding off the book depending how thick it is. I know we have a document services here at Easterseals Crossroads, and they have at times, they have a book binder cutter that’ll just slice the binding right off a book. And once you’ve sliced that binding off, you an send it just through a regular old scanner with an automatic document feeder, and that’s super, super fast and super, super quick for folks to get access to their book and at least get it in a digital format that maybe your scanner can read. I’m sorry, your screen reader can read once it’s on the computer. And those scanners range in price.

Brian Norton:
You can probably get one with an automatic document feeder for a couple hundred bucks, all the way up to $300 or $400 depending on the one that you use. And traditionally the differences between those and the prices are if it’s just a black and white or a color scanner or how many pages can it scan and does it do front and back as it scans, just a couple of options to keep your eyes on. So just a quick way to use just a regular scanner and maybe a less expensive way if you have the other tools you use to be able to do text to speech on your computer.

Belva Smith:
So I think that they said, “Would one that could actually turn the pages be outrageous?” I am not aware of one that can actually physically turn the page. Brian, you mentioned the Sarah, and the Sarah does allow for you to flip the page but you have to physically flip the page. The device itself does not do that. OpenBook also allows for you to flip the page. But I’m not aware of one that can physically flip the page and scan the page, and what I hear you talk about cutting the binding off the book, my skin just quivered because I don’t remember the last time I’ve had a client that had to do that. Years ago that was what we had to. It was our only option. But it does totally destroy your book, but it seems that most people are able, especially like our college students and stuff are able to get their books electronically. So therefore that alleviates the need of happen to try to figure out how to scan that particular book.

Belva Smith:
But that may not be the case for this person. Maybe these are books that they actually have themselves, and they just want to get them into an electronic format. If you want to do it the fastest, most continuous way, then using a device like Brian mentioned with the automatic document feeder connected with your scanner is your only option. And oftentimes it’s very common now for most scanners to be able to scan and print both sides, but you’re going to have to tear the book apart, load the document, and then flip the pages, and make sure you get them flipped correctly to do it automatically. Otherwise you’re left with doing it manually, which means whether you’re using the Sarah, which is a camera device that you basically lay your book underneath and you would move it back and forth as you flip the pages. Whether you’re scanning the left side or the right side or just use a flatbed scanner where you can lay the page in there, and that’s not always the best option, especially if it is a thick book because getting it to flatten out is next to impossible.

Belva Smith:
So yeah, I don’t know. My question would be is it not possible for you to get the book electronically? Is there a real reason why you would need to physically destroy the book and use a document feeder? If so, then that’s definitely an option. And other than destroying the book, it’s not that expensive because you can get a document or a scanner with a document feeder, again like Brian said, for a couple hundred dollars. Whereas they used to be upwards of $400 or $500, they’ve come way down in price. I think probably because they’re not that popular.

Brian Norton:
Right.

Belva Smith:
So the demand just isn’t what it used to be.

Brian Norton:
Right. And Belva, couple questions for you. So it used to be OpenBook and Kurzweil 1000 that I would recommend all the time for clients. Nowadays with scanners that are available and JAWS ability and really the OCR that comes with those scanners and JAWS ability to be able to read, do you need those as much as you used to?

Belva Smith:
No, Brian, you don’t. It used to be absolutely that you would need to have a scan and read program alongside with your screen reader, but nowadays there are very few situations where I realize, “Oh wow, we really do need OpenBook for this.” There are a couple of things that you can do with OpenBook, and to be honest, I’m going to assume with Kurzweil. I have not used Kurzweil 1000 in years because we ran into the issue of not being able to purchase it, and it just became a big problem to get, not physically but our vendors. And OpenBook is easy to get, and it seems to be OpenBook also is more compatible with a larger variety of scanners, and that’s always been the case.

Belva Smith:
But some of the things you can do with OpenBook that you can’t do without is, for example, save the scan off as an MP3, edit it as an exact physical format. Those are just the two things that come to my mind. But yeah, with your screen readers nowadays have an OCR, you can pretty much to use any scanning program, scan it into a PDF format or a lot of times even into a Word document, and then the scanner will go ahead and read it. The reasons before that we weren’t able to do that with our screen reader is because scanners would always or almost always want to save it as a JPEG or as a picture format rather than a textual format, and now it’s just become more popular to be able to save any scan as a PDF or a text format.

Brian Norton:
Gotcha.

Belva Smith:
PDF does not always mean readable though. It’s important to remember that.

Brian Norton:
That’s for sure. And then another quick question, so I know Learning Ally, Bookshare.org, and some other places that are out there to be able to get your books in text format. Are there other places besides Learning Ally and Bookshare.org that we should be sending folks to that you know of? Those are the main two that I usually send folks to.

Belva Smith:
Well, if it’s a college student, the first thing I send them to is to their accessibility resources there at their campuses to find out, “Hey, is this book already available in an electronic format?” Oftentimes they will find that it is, and if it’s not, then we go to the manufacturer or what do you call them, the producer of the book I guess-

Brian Norton:
Publisher.

Belva Smith:
… to find out, “Hey…” Publisher, yes. Thank you. “Hey, do you have this book in an electronic format?” And oftentimes they will. And then also the National Printing House oftentimes you can go to them if you have a book that is not available in an electronic format, and you can work it out with them so that they will get that book in an electronic format for you. So you may send them the book, and then they will get the scanning done and get it into an electronic format and get it back to you.

Brian Norton:
Gotcha.

Belva Smith:
I’m sorry. Yeah, there are other places that you can go to to get them perhaps in braille if you want or electronic format. But honestly, off the top of my head, I would start with the printing house if I needed to get something done.

Brian Norton:
Right. And I’ll just make a mention for folks who are younger. So if you’re in a K-12 environment, I know specifically here in Indiana, there’s the ICAM Center. So it’s the Indiana Center on Accessible Material, and that’s through PATINS, which is P-A-T-I-N-S.org. So if you have a younger kid or child in a K-12 environment and they’re needed accessible materials, whether that’s an audiobook or some other thing presented to them, some other materials presented to them in a different and alternative format, ICAM here in the state of Indiana is our center for those folks, for the younger generation who are in K-12. So I’m not sure what that looks like in other states, but it’s a great organization. And they’ve got access and the ability to create those accessible materials for folks. So great.

Brian Norton:
Well, hey. I would love to hear from other folks, what they might know. Maybe they have a favorite scanner or program or whatever that they use. Again, we’re looking for something that’s not outrageously expensive and something that would be able to meet this person’s needs. So let us know if you have anything or would like to send us any feedback. Love to hear from you. Our listener line is 317-721-7124 or you can send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Would love to hear from you. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
All right. So our next question is, “I recently had someone ask me what an AT assessment should contain. Any thoughts on that or guidelines that should be followed?”

Brian Norton:
As I read this question, I think depending on your funding, there’s a couple things that have to go into it. So depending on your funding source, whatever’s required of an AT assessment might look a little bit different. So whether you’re in maybe a K-12 environment. Maybe you’re through vocational rehabilitation or the VA. VA Prosthetics is a place that we work with here in Indiana. So lots of different funding sources are going to require different things from you. The reports might look a little bit different or the information they’re going to want is going to look a little bit different. They probably have a list of dos and don’ts with regard to those assessments. So I think you’re going to have some variation in assessments across the different disciplines if you will or funding sources that you tap into. So that’s just something to keep in mind.

Brian Norton:
But just in general, AT assessments, any thoughts on that or guidelines that folks should follow?

Josh Anderson:
Sure, Brian. So-

Belva Smith:
I was going to say, Josh, you should probably start off with this since you’re the leader of our department.

Josh Anderson:
Oh. I screw this up I’m in deep trouble.

Josh Anderson:
So no. So really and truly an AT assessment, if you want to break it down to seriously the bare bones, it’s what does the individual need to do, what are their barriers to doing that, and what can we put in place for them to be successful doing that task. And I think a lot of that’s the SETT framework, S-E-T-T, the student environment task and tools. The important part to always remember about that SETT is tools are the last one. The most important part’s the student, the individual, the disability, whoever you’re working with, what environment they’re going to be working in, and what are those tasks they have to do. And then last but not least is what’s the AT that will be put in place to be able to do it.

Josh Anderson:
In our reports, because most of the time we’re working for or with vocational rehabilitation. So in the supports that we’re going to put in place, we do write up justification for it just because I can’t just say that Timmy has problems with note taking, so he needs a Livescribe pen. Why does he need the Livescribe pen and not something like Audio Note, not something else? In my justification, hopefully that gives the funding source, the vocational rehabilitation counselor the chance to look at it and say, “Oh, okay. This is why they’re going with this as opposed to something else.” Like I said, that’s the bare bones breaking it down because there’s so much that really goes into it because you have to look at the person, how much do they like technology. Do they enjoy using technology? Because if they really don’t, then you need to try to make sure maybe those supports are low tech if you can or just all on one device so they don’t have 10 devices they’re trying to use because they probably won’t use it.

Josh Anderson:
And then the other really important part about an AT assessment, really any AT services is if you’re providing this kind of service, you’re not working for someone. You’re working with them. So it’s very important to keep them involved in the entire process of the assessment, of the evaluation. Just so that they can have that input. I mean, the real goal of an AT evaluation, no matter what it’s for, school or anything, is just more independence. And Belva can attest to them, we’ve had some consumers that we probably for a really long time just because they need us that long. But our real goal as AT professionals is to get in, train the person on how to use the technology, and unless something changes with their disability, their job, their goals, they never need us again. And that’s the hope because they want them to have that independence.

Josh Anderson:
Again, of course some folks do come back because their goal changed, their disability changes, things like that. But you really I’d say an AT assessment, it’s a roadmap of how that person’s going to overcome their barriers to accomplish the tasks they need to be successful.

Josh Anderson:
I did not just read that offline anywhere either.

Belva Smith:
It sounded like it. [inaudible 00:19:40].

Brian Norton:
Nice.

Tracy Castillo:
That was very articulate. Have you been doing this very long?

Josh Anderson:
I just ate a banana, and it really helped me wake up. And now I think I’m ready.

Brian Norton:
You stayed at a Holiday Inn last night, didn’t you?

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, yeah. I did.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. Hey, Josh, you mentioned the SETT framework. Another one I’ll throw out there to folks to look up is the HAAT framework as well or the HAAT model. And so that’s the human, the activity, the assistive technology, and the context. So when you bring those things together, like the SETT like you were talking about, that’s something really important to keep in mind looking at holistically. Something that we also look at internally is not just the here and now. I think it’s really important to consider what’s happened in the past with that person. Not from just a disability perspective but also from what their current role is. If it’s vocational related, talk to me about what you’re doing right now, talk to me about what you’ve used in the past and done in the past. But also looking at the future as well, disability is oftentimes degenerative in nature. Instead of just thinking right here, now, this is what you need; thinking down the road what might happen and trying to take some of that stuff into consideration when you will or when you can. So something to think about there.

Brian Norton:
And then I would always encourage people, and that’s something that we really pride ourselves here with our program is when you work with folks who when you evaluate folks, it’s really important to incorporate technology into the evaluation. So we try as hard as we can and when we can not to just make recommendations. I want to see them using Dragon. I want to make sure that their voice in Dragon can recognize their voice and it works well before making that recommendation. I think using technology, putting the tools and the software in their hands and letting them actually get some experience with it during the evaluation process or even over an extended period of time if we can really helps people know and really believe in the technology before they get it. And it allows us as evaluators to really understand the impact. Is it going to work? We don’t want to recommend something that’s not going to work longterm for them. So something to really think about and consider with that. So keep that in mind too. Use equipment during your evaluations when you can.

Belva Smith:
So as I read this question, the two lines of information that stick out to me is what should it contain and are there guidelines that should be followed. Absolutely there are guidelines that should be followed, but what are those guidelines? Well, they’re going to vary because again it’s going to depend on the individual, the task at hand, and the funder. And I didn’t say thunder, I said funder. So funding source. So for example, I do work with a couple of different funding sources in our department, and with one of those I have to stay focused specifically on distance communication. No matter what the individuals outside or other needs might be for this particular assessment, I have to stay focused on just distance communication. And with other ones, my scope is wide open pretty much. If an individual wants a camera to take pictures, we can even make that happen. But with VR, we have to stay focused either on educational or school.

Belva Smith:
So what those guidelines are are going to be different. Again, depending upon your funding source, but also the individual, the individuals needs, and what they’re doing this for. And what should it contain? Well, you hope that you have an assessor or an evaluator that is listening to what you’re saying, and sometimes hearing what you’re saying in between the lines. Oftentimes it’s hard to express exactly what has or hasn’t worked for you in the past or hard to express exactly what your barrier is because if you’ve never really been able to complete the task, you may not even know what the barrier is. So for example, oftentimes I will say to a person, “Well, can you just show me? Show me what it is that we’re trying to do.” In me watching, I’m able to see, “Okay, there’s our problem. That’s where we’ve got to… That’s the first bump we need to get over.”

Belva Smith:
So you hope that your person is listening to you very sincerely, and then also you hope that maybe you got more than one person involved and that’s the great thing about us in our department. Because though I maybe the only person sitting down with you to do the assessment or the evaluation, I know I’ve got a team of folks behind me that can answer questions that I might not even know that I need to be asking. But if I can’t figure out something, I can certainly go back to them and say, “Here’s the situation I was in, and I’m not sure what I need to try to do.” And one of them will come up with the answer. Oftentimes even we’ll send another person out because maybe that other person’s got a different set of skills than what I do, and they can address things differently than I would. So you hope that you have more than one person.

Belva Smith:
You also hope that the individual that is working with you knows a lot about a lot of technology. So you’re hoping that they’re not a person who’s perhaps selling equipment from a specific manufacturer or vendor because then that’s all they’re going to talk to you about. But you’re hoping that the person who’s sitting down with you is willing to tell you about maybe two or three different things. You don’t want to get overwhelmed, so you don’t want to hear about everything that could be a possibility. But you do want to hear about more than one. Anytime you can have the opportunity to try it and especially if you can try it in the environment. A lot of times we’ll go do the evaluation and leave equipment with the individual for them to use at work or at school for a week or two and then I’ll say to them, “Let me know this either works for you or it doesn’t work for you.” Because it might be that it looks like it’s going to work, but until they actually get it into the environment and try it, they don’t know that it’s not going to work.

Belva Smith:
So I think we’ve given a good answer, a good grounded answer to this question, and also I guess I’ll end by just saying that you want someone who’s going to be there. So if you have questions after the fact, you know who to contact and how to contact them because sometimes we get so deep into a specific barrier that we might’ve not even discussed another one that you didn’t think about until after you leave. So you want to make sure that you have a way to contact that person and stay in touch with them as the process is happening.

Josh Anderson:
I’ll just add one more thing, and what you said is great, especially with those guidelines because it’s so different by funding source on what exactly is allowed, what exactly you’re trying to do. I don’t remember who taught me this or anything, but when you’re working with somebody doing an assessment, you might be the expert on technology. You might be the expert on a lot of other things. But that the person having the assessment’s the expert on themselves, on their barriers, on how it’s effected them. And we get this question a lot where someone will call and just say, “Hey, I got the mother/brother/son/cousin/client/something with autism. What is there to help them?” It’s like (A) autism effects everyone quite differently. (B) Help them do, what? What do they need to accomplish and things like that? So really if you’re sitting down, you’re having a good AT assessment, then those are the things discussed. What needs to be done? What are the barriers in there? And how does that affect you? And then trying to find the solutions from that. So I think we said the same things there, which is good. That’s good that we’re on the same page.

Belva Smith:
Yeah.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s so much to what you guys had said. Belva, I particularly love the fact that you were talking about the skill of the person, the interviewer as the evaluator. Interviewing skills, I think that’s an under sold piece of a good assessment. I related to when I go to the doctor and I sit on the table, and they’re asking me questions. How good am I at really expressing what my needs are and what’s been bothering me? I put the people that I do evaluations with in that same category. So it takes a bit of digging. It takes a lot of listening for keywords or inflection in people’s voices, and I think that’s not something that is maybe talked about enough. You have to be a good listener. You have to be a good question asker to be able to get to the bottom of some of the real issues that maybe there so that you don’t leave stones unturned during that evaluation process. So that’s a really good point. Excellent.

Brian Norton:
Well, I’m sure we have lots of other people who are listeners here who do AT assessments. Would love to hear from you what you guys would consider as guidelines or things that an AT assessment should contain. Please let us know. You can contribute by sending us a voicemail, which would be at 317-721-7124 or you can send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Just two great ways to get in touch with us and let us know your thoughts. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
All right. So our next question is, “Is there a place on the web where you can rent assistive technology?”

Brian Norton:
I was listening-

Belva Smith:
Www.belva.-

Brian Norton:
Exactly. Isn’t that right?

Tracy Castillo:
I’ve heard of something.

Brian Norton:
I think if you’re talking about specific assistive technology, obviously we talk a lot about the state AT program, the sponsor for these podcasts, INDATA. All state AT programs have a lending library. So you don’t rent it. It’s absolutely free to sign up and to be able to receive technology. Most of those programs only operate within their specific state. So if you’re trying to borrow stuff from us here at the INDATA Project and you live in some of our surrounding states like Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, you wouldn’t be able to borrow it from us because we are only able to loan to folks who are within our state. But again in all states, in all territories, there’s a state AT program, and they all offer lending library. Now we won’t all have the same technology. We don’t all have the same types of devices available for loan. But it’s a good place to start if you’re looking to borrow something to be able to try it out for a period of time. So state AT programs would be probably the first place I would look, and you can find out more information about your local state AT program by going to Eastersealstech.com/states.

Brian Norton:
And I think the other option for folks would be vendors. I know a lot of times vendors will allow you to borrow something or trial a device. Obviously they’re trying to make the sale. So sometimes they will let you borrow a device for a period of time just to see if it works. You may have to sign some sort of an agreement. They don’t obviously want anybody to steal their equipment or break their equipment. So you might have to sign some sort of an agreement. But I know places like Smyle Mouse would be one of them. They will actually rent you their technology for a period of time to let you have an opportunity to try it. So you may check with vendors, specific manufacturers and vendors of different types of equipment. They’ve all got local or regional sales folks for their companies. They’ll probably put you in touch with them, and if there’s an opportunity for that would be another great place to be able to get your hands on the piece of technology to try it out for a period of time.

Brian Norton:
So I’d love to hear from other folks, listeners, if you know of a place where you can rent assistive technology, let us or know, or borrow assistive technology, let us know beyond the ones that we just mentioned with vendors or state AT programs. You can give us a call, let us know. 317-721-7124 or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Love to hear from you. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
All right. So our next question is, “What is the most accessible video conferencing platform for users who have low vision and difficulty hearing, one that will allow the user to host the meeting as well as participate in the meeting without difficulty?”

Brian Norton:
So I’m looking at Belva or Josh. I mean, I have my own suspensions. I know Zoom and Teams is out there. But thoughts on that, guys or Tracy?

Belva Smith:
I’m sorry, go ahead, Josh.

Josh Anderson:
It’s fine. I was going to say it’s hard to say most accessible just because they all have goods and bads. And the other thing is without difficulty because even if you don’t know how to use it, if you don’t have a disability, it’s still they can be pretty difficult and overwhelming to use. I’ve had the best luck with Zoom probably. The keystrokes are intuitive. They don’t seem to mess with any of the other keystrokes if you’re using some kind of screen reader. Really if you use any kind of magnification, it can probably get weird just because of people’s pictures and things on there. But you can always take that part off if you want to.

Josh Anderson:
The hearing part’s a little bit more of a challenge because I think it depends on difficulty hearing. Are you wearing hearing aids, any certain kind of hearing aids? Because then it might be a little bit easier to use one just through your phone if you can connect your phone to your hearing aids via Bluetooth to get the sound up there a little bit easier. But then you’re going to sacrifice the vision because you’re going to have a much smaller device screen to use it on.

Josh Anderson:
So I know Zoom and Teams just because Brian and I had to do a lot of this information, finding out accessibility about them. Zoom and Teams both have a lot of keyboard shortcuts. A lot of those things built in. Zoom seems a little bit easier to use solely because it’s smaller. Teams is very robust, has a lot other things it does besides video conferencing, which I think can make it easier. And then in Zoom, you can also have captions. Now I don’t know all the rules behind getting captions on Zoom. I know you can during webinars, but usually you have to assign someone as a captioner. I know if you have a certain kind of Otter.ai account, you can use it as an artificial intelligence captioner. But again I don’t know if that’s available in just regular little video conferences or if you have to be on the large webinar footprint. Brian might know a little bit more about that.

Josh Anderson:
But the nice thing is if you can find the keystrokes, which I believe Brian may have said maybe in last show, but I’m sure he can give you that again where you go find those. The basic Zoom and I think the basic Teams, you can access for free. I believe. I could be wrong on the Teams one. I don’t know if you have to have an O365 account to do it. So I would try them both out with somebody you trust, a colleague, a friend, a family member, something, and really just see which one might work better for you because again it’s one of those what’s the most accessible. It depends on your skill level, what exactly you need, how you need it to function and things. But either one of them you should be able to host as well as participate with minimal difficulty, just depending on how you’re actually going to be using it.

Belva Smith:
And I think we’re going to all agree that Zoom probably seems to be one of the easier platforms, and Zoom does have the caption ability. I’ve also heard of the Streamer Zoom, which is something that allows you to do the realtime captioning, but it’s not free. You do have to pay to have that feature. Well, wait a minute, it says it’s completely free for the first four weeks, and then after that, you have to pay $9.99 a month or $99 a year or $399 for a never ending subscription, which everything always ends. So I don’t recommend the $399. I’ve bought plenty of lifetime warranties that have ended because the device died.

Belva Smith:
But the fact that you can try it for free for the first four weeks is a good idea, and there’s a great video on how to use it that was put together by Sofia Ramirez, and I know I’m butchering her last name. But she’s a teacher that actually is using it. So she put together a short video on how to use it. I found that at mailchi.mp. M-A-I-L-C-H-I.M-P is where I found the information on that. And again, it’s called Streamer Zoom.

Brian Norton:
There’s another thing that someone can try. So Otter.ai is one of the these artificial intelligence engines that does speech to text, and so you can sign up for an account. I think you get the first 600 minutes for free per month, and so if you are listening to a Zoom meeting or participating in a Zoom meeting, you can open up Otter.ai on the web. It’ll do realtime transcription for you using that artificial intelligence engine, and you’ll be able to follow along in meetings and other types of things. Accuracy, I’ve found it to be pretty accurate. I’m guessing that would depend on who’s speaking and if they have an accent or other information. But the meetings I’ve been in, I feel like it’s been pretty accurate. But something to think about too. You can look up Otter, O-T-T-E-R, the small little, fun animal in the water .ai would be your web address to be able to look that up. Really good little program.

Brian Norton:
But I would just love to open it up to folks who are listening as well. If you have anything that you’ve used or experience with what you think is the most accessible video conferencing platform, we’d love to hear from you, specifically for folks with low vision and/or who have difficulty hearing. Love to hear from you. Give us a call on our listener line. That would be 317-721-7124 or you can send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. And thank you.

Brian Norton:
All right. So our next question is, “Can anyone suggest a good Bluetooth keyboard with large buttons that can be used on an iPad?”

Brian Norton:
So we have a few that we have in our loan library. I was checking this out earlier. One would be the BigBlu Vision Board. You can find that at ablenetinc.com. And so it’s got big key regions. It doesn’t look like a traditional keyboard in the sense that it is a QWERTY keyboard, but the keys are so big, it’s not laid out like that. And they can’t fit all the keys that are on a traditional keyboard onto it. So it looks a little bit different, but look up the BigBlu Vision Board at ablenetinc.com.

Brian Norton:
And then another one that we have in the library is the BigKeys Keyboard. It looks a little bit, pretty similar to the BigBlu Vision Board. The key regions are very, very large so that you can make sure that you’re pressing the right keystrokes. So if you have what I refer to as targeting issues where you might on the smaller keys press two keys instead of the single key that you wanted, the bigger key regions will be helpful. The nice thing about BigKeys Keyboard, and I’m not sure if the BigBlu Vision Board comes with one. I’m sure you can make one. But the BigKeys Keyboard actually you can get overlays for them or key guards for them so that if you, not only in addition to having targeting issues, but you have trouble keeping your hand off of the keyboard or while you’re pressing keys, accidentally pressing keys as you run your hand across the keyboard. A key guard could be really helpful for you.

Brian Norton:
So those would be two, the BigBlu Vision Board and the BigKeys Keyboard would be two to look at.

Tracy Castillo:
I’d also like to say that if you do a Google search for a large print keyboard, you’re going to bring up several different options. I found one here off of Officesupply.com that’s running $19.18. So those are always an option too.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. I think the benefit of those large print keyboards are just your ability to be able to see the symbols and the characters and the letters more easily. Another one that I’ve seen before is the SimplyWorks Keyboard. It’s a pretty rugged wireless keyboard that basically has a little bit bigger… It looks more like a traditional QWERTY keyboard. The buttons I think are a little bit bigger than what you’re going to find on a traditional keyboard, but they are color coded and they’re bigger. So it might be something to consider with folks too, and you can find that at a place called pretorian. So P-R-E-T-O-R-I-A-N UK.com. SimpleWorks Keyboard would be an option for folks. So take a look at those.

Brian Norton:
And really, I’d love to hear from other folks. As you work with folks, if you have a larger button, Bluetooth, wireless keyboard, love to hear from you on that. Let us know. You can contribute to the show and let us know your feedback either through our listener line at 317-721-7124 or through our email address. It’s tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Thanks so much.

Josh Anderson:
And now it’s time for the Wild Card Question.

Brian Norton:
All right. So our next question is the Wild Card Question, and this is where Belva has a question for us. So Belva, what do you got today?

Belva Smith:
So I just did a quick little bit of digging on Uber and Lyft or ridesharing. So I’m curious, when we’re all excited with the idea of the self driving cars and the Lyft president made a statement early this year who said self driving cars will be part of their fleet by 2021. And he believes that personal car ownership will be dead by 2025. Well, if you’ve also looked… I know, right? If you’ve also looked at Uber’s financial situation, they personally lost or as a company lost $8.5 billion in 2019. But their president says, “Hey, we believe we’re going to be profitable by the end of 2020.” Well, here we are halfway through 2020. We’ve been smacked with this epidemic, and we all know that every industry, including the shared riding has taken a huge hit. So my question is to y’all, do you think that the share riding took enough of a hit from this pandemic that it’s possibly going to go away, or do you think that they’ll still have us in self driving cars in another year or two?

Josh Anderson:
Belva, I’ll start-

Tracy Castillo:
I’d like to start.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, no. You go.

Belva Smith:
All right. Everybody’s ready.

Tracy Castillo:
I’m ready.

Josh Anderson:
All right, go for it, Tracy.

Tracy Castillo:
Belva, you said 2025.

Belva Smith:
Yeah.

Tracy Castillo:
Okay. Well, my loan goes out past that, so I don’t think that’s going to happen. Number two is I can afford an Uber. I cannot afford a self driving car. In this area out here, we’re not like New York or bigger states out there. When you want to go somewhere and you’re able to drive for one reason or another, out here it’s more reliable to call an Uber than it is to call a taxi. One time I wanted to take a train to Chicago, so I called up the Yellow Cab. That’s the big cab company around here. So I had to be picked up by 5:30. And they never came. They never came. Every time I called them, they said they were sending someone out. They never came. And then they told me if I wanted to leave at that time, I should’ve made that mentioned when I reserved the taxi. I almost argued with them longer, but I was too busy tipping my Uber guy. Yeah, they came and got me and dropped me off at the train station.

Tracy Castillo:
But in towns like us, I think ridesharing is here for a while. I mean, it’s just the thing.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, and I think so too. They’ve lost money, but they were publicly traded and tons of people bought stock in a company that’s never shown a profit. And they’ve lost money every year. So I don’t know how much that really has to do with it. But with the self driving push, I think Uber and Lyft will try to push that as fast as possible because-

Tracy Castillo:
I wonder if they lost money… I’m sorry, Josh. But I wonder if they lost money because they started out at $42. Sorry, I was calling my Uber. And I don’t think they’re even back up to what they came out at.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. It’s one of those things where you buy the stock because you think in a few years it’s going to make money, which Amazon lost money for the first five years it was created back when it was a book sharing company. Imagine if you would’ve bought it back then. So I think it’s what they did. But as far as the self driving part, I think Uber and Lyft are going to push 10 times harder for that because their number one cost is their employees. If they can cut them out and just buy a car that they never have to pay again, I mean, that’s where you get your profit from. Unfortunately all those people that do that work won’t be needed anymore.

Josh Anderson:
But in the age of social distancing, in the age of trying to stay six feet away from people, and I know a lot of people that aren’t using Uber right now because they don’t want to sit that close to a person. Even though they’re in the backseat, they don’t want to be that close to someone they don’t know. If the car just drove itself, it’s probably not going to give you COVID-19. Now the person who got out of the car right before you might. So there’s always got to be those kind of things that’ll have to probably be thought about.

Josh Anderson:
But yeah, I would say Uber and Lyft will push for that self driving thing farther and faster. Personally, I still drive a stick shift. There’s no way. I don’t even want my car to shift for me. So I sure as heck don’t want it to drive for me.

Tracy Castillo:
I’m going to say, Josh, have you watched Upload?

Josh Anderson:
Uh-uh (negative).

Tracy Castillo:
It’s a series on Prime Video, and the main character was killed in a self driving car accident.

Josh Anderson:
See, there you go. That would be the other thing, depend on how many people die in self driving car accidents on how fast they pick up. But out here where I live though, we don’t have Uber or Lyft or anything. You can pull it up on your phone, nothing.

Belva Smith:
Brian.

Brian Norton:
I think autonomous vehicles are still… I still remember being a kid and we talked about how we’d be flying places in our own personal vehicles. I just wonder how much longer it’s going to take for really autonomous vehicles to gain the support, to get past the health and safety barriers that are related to that, legislation to be written, rules of the road to be put in place for those to really be a viable mainstream vehicle outside of special circumstances that we have today. And I know there are places in the states where they’ve done some of that work. I think Nevada is one of those places where you can get a license or you can purchase an autonomous vehicle and get a license plate for it or something to that effect. I just wonder how long it’s going to take for those vehicles to really become commonplace because I’m still waiting for my flying vehicle.

Belva Smith:
So I think Uber and Lyft are probably not going to go away just anytime soon, but I do think that they’ve got a very, very huge battle in front of them not just from the riders but their drivers. Their drivers are also concerned about picking up people from all different places with all different possibilities of passing the COVID to them. But I think the whole idea, and I’m not even sure what they’re thinking when they’re thinking they’re going to go autonomous because that’s going to be a much more expensive venture for them because think about it, right now they pay their drivers very, very low wages. Their drivers provide the cars, their drivers provide all the maintenance to those cars, their drivers provide their own insurance, the car insurance, their personal insurance. Once they try to put together a fleet of self driving cars, that expense all becomes theirs. And if they can’t make a profit in the status that they’re in right now, I don’t see how they’re going to be profitable with self driving cars.

Belva Smith:
I don’t think self driving cars are going to be anything in our very near future. I definitely don’t believe personal car ownership will go away by 2025. In fact, the reports that I’m hearing, more people are out buying cars now than before COVID because they’re afraid of ridesharing right now. So they’ve decided they just need to own a car. And public transit is even more I guess dangerous so to speak.

Belva Smith:
So I just thought that was interesting because I know when we first started talking about the self driving cars, we thought about how wonderful that was going to be for our consumers. And Uber and Lyft have been major improvements for transportation for our consumers. I know a lot, a lot of my clients who are unable to drive because they’re either blind or low vision to the point that they can’t drive who depend on Uber and Lyft to get them anywhere and everywhere they want to go, and they love it. Because like Tracy said, it’s very affordable. It’s very dependable. So yeah. I think they’re not going to go away, but I think they’ve got a long hard battle in front of them to get things back where they were, which wasn’t profitable. So time will tell.

Brian Norton:
Right, right. Absolutely. Great question, Belva. Love it.

Brian Norton:
Well, hey. Want to just make sure that our listeners know how to get ahold of us. You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124. Send us a tweet with the #ATFAQ or email us at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. That’s our show for today. But definitely would love to hear from you if you have any feedback or questions that have come up as you’ve listened to our show today. Let us know. We’d love to be able to answer those here on ATFAQ. In fact, without your questions and feedback, we don’t really have a show. So be a part of it.

Brian Norton:
Before we leave, I want to make sure I give the folks here on the call just a chance to say goodbye. So I’m going to go in reverse order that I typically go to, and I just want to give Josh Anderson again an opportunity to say goodbye.

Josh Anderson:
Bye everybody. Can’t wait until next time.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. And then Tracy.

Tracy Castillo:
Bye everyone.

Brian Norton:
All right.

Tracy Castillo:
Send us your questions.

Brian Norton:
Definitely send us your questions, yeah. And then Belva.

Belva Smith:
Everybody stay safe and be well, and we’ll see you again soon.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Thanks everyone. Looking forward to talking with you soon. Take care. Bye bye.

Brian Norton:
Sounds good. 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. So Belva, I’ll let you go first.

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

Brian Norton:
Excellent, and then Tracy.

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

Brian Norton:
And then Josh.

Josh Anderson:
See you next time, folks.

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 #ATFAQ or an email to tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Would love to hear from you. Have a great one. We’ll talk to you later.

Brian Norton:
And it seems like every week we have at least one blooper. So here you go.

Brian Norton:
Wow. I take that back. I do know what happened. I happened, and I started to mess up our recording.

Brian Norton:
Josh, you ready on this one?

Josh Anderson:
What?

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 helped by Josh Anderson and Belva Smith, and receives support from Easterseals Crossroads and the INDATA Project. ATFAQ is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more of our shows at www.accessibilitychannel.com