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ATFAQ140 – Q1. Battery Tester for blind or visually impaired, Q2. Apps that provide audio and visual feedback as someone types, Q3. Text-to-Speech on the iPad, Q4. Note-taking apps and tools, Q5. Emergency Preparedness – what items do you have set aside in case of an emergency

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

ATFAQ140 – Q1. Battery Tester for blind or visually impaired, Q2. Apps that provide audio and visual feedback as someone types, Q3. Text-to-Speech on the iPad, Q4. Note-taking apps and tools, Q5. Emergency Preparedness – what items do you have set aside in case of an emergency

——————- Transcript Starts Here ————————-

Brian Norton:
Welcome to ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions with your host Brian Norton, director of Assistive Technology at Easterseals Crossroads. This is a show where we address your questions about assistive technology, the hardware, software, tools, and gadgets that help people with disabilities lead more independent and fulfilling lives. Have a question you’d like to answer it 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, welcome to ATFAQ episode 140. My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of the show. We’re so happy that you’ve taken some time to tune in with us this week. We’ve got a great lineup of assistive technology questions for you today. But before we jump in, just want to take a moment to go around the room and introduce the folks who are here with me. First is Belva. Belva is our vision team lead here with our clinical assistive technology team at Easterseals Crossroads. Belva, do you want to say hi.

Belva Smith:
Hi everybody, and thanks for having me.

Brian Norton:
Excellent, excellent. The next is Tracy. Tracy is the end data program manager here at Easterseals Crossroads. Tracy, you want to say hi?

Tracy Castillo:
Sure do. Hey everyone. Thanks for listen.

Brian Norton:
Excellent, excellent. We also have Josh Anderson. Josh is the popular host of Assistive Technology Update, one of our other podcasts here on the accessibility channel at Easterseals Crossroads. He’s also the manager of clinical assistive technology here. Josh, do you want to say hi?

Josh Anderson:
Hi everybody. Welcome back or to new folks, welcome first.

Brian Norton:
Excellent, excellent. Speaking of new folks just want to take a moment to go over what we do here on our show. We come across various assistive technology questions and feedback. Then we sit around as a group and we try to answer those the best we can. We love your feedback, so as you guys listen today, would love to have you guys chime in. If you guys have any other things you want to contribute, as far as an answer is concerned, please let us know. We have a variety of ways for you, not only to share your questions, but also to share your feedback. You can do that through our listener line. That’s (317) 721-7124 or email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org or through Twitter, which with the hashtag ATFAQ on your comment there. We will put those into our show and share those with our listeners. We want to make sure that we’re providing well-rounded, complete answers to the questions that we get, and so we’d love for you to be a part of that.

Brian Norton:
If you’re looking for our show and want to share it with others, there’s a variety of ways to find it. You can go to iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play. We are on Amazon Music. We are also on Spotify. Just about anywhere you can find a podcast, you can find us. We do have a website set up as well. That’s ATFAQshow.com. Come check us out and let folks know about the show. Love to have them take a listen as well.

Brian Norton:
Without further ado, we’re going to jump into question number one today. Our first question is, “I’m looking for a battery tester for my brother who is blind. Do you know if this exists and where I might find one?”

Belva Smith:
Yes, it does exist. And there are lots of them. I’m not even going to try to pretend that it’s something that I’ve ever used, but I will direct you to the maxiaids.com website, because they have several there to choose from. I think the price ranges starts at $9 and goes on up to, I think the most expensive one I seen as I was researching this was $100. It depends, obviously, on what kind of batteries you’re trying to test and how much information you’re trying to get. The basic one is just going to basically give you some auditorial sound. It’ll change depending upon, the pitch will change depending upon the level of charge within the battery. But again, check out maxiaids.com and that is M-A-X-I-A-I-D-S.com. They have a bunch to choose from there.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. I got this question. This was an email from a couple of weeks ago. I did some searching and like you said, Belva, there are quite a few out there. I did find one at APH. They do a lot of products for folks who are blind or visually impaired. They have something called EZ Test Battery Tester. It provides some audio feedback like you were talking about. It will also do some vibrations, basically indicating the charge on different household batteries. I think it goes across either nine volts all the way through your AA, AAA, those batteries as well. It’s about $62. I’m interested in the ones that are less expensive, because that seems pretty expensive to me. But yeah, you can also check out the one at aph.org. It’s called the EZ Test Battery Tester Audio and Feedback Version.

Brian Norton:
Now this kind of makes me think of, there are lots of needs for different things around the house, battery testers, other types of things that can provide auditory or either vibration feedback, tactile feedback, if you will. Like you mentioned, Belva, MaxiAids is a great place to start. If you’re looking for different types of things, I almost call them a place where you can go to find the, As Seen on TV types of products, things that you wouldn’t even think you would need, but might find interesting and useful to help you be more independent in your home or wherever you find yourself doing different things. They have a lot of different products for a lot of different folks.

Belva Smith:
Also, when I was doing the research, I noticed third down the list from my Google search all the way back from 2013, April of 2013, INDATA had a battery tester for deaf blind. It’s a very small, and I believe it is made by in fact, I’m looking at it now, Brian, it is made by APH. It’s a very small device with two connectors. It looks like it would be pretty easy to use and has both, as you mentioned, the audible and the vibrating sound. It tests several different types of batteries. I’m sorry. That may be something that they could find in our lending library, I’m assuming, since it’s on the website, but of course I know we shouldn’t assume, right? [crosstalk 00:06:52].

Tracy Castillo:
In looking right now …

Belva Smith:
… from 2013, so yeah.

Tracy Castillo:
You know what, I was online, and I did a Google search for the talking battery testers. I found the one from APH. I did not even think to look at my AT ACT, the one that I manage, so yes, I did go in there. Belva I do see ability switch. Oh, that’s a switch tester. But yeah, I do see some things in there on our library. If you want to check out your AT ACT library, you can go to our website at Eastersealstech.com/states. You’ll be brought to another website. We’ll be able to ask a couple of questions such as where, what state you’re in and then it’ll bring up your state’s AT ACT’s contact information. My goodness, I didn’t even think. Oh m.

Belva Smith:
As with anything, if you can get the opportunity to hands-on try it out, that always helps me anyway, when it comes to making a decision, even if you’re just spending 10 bucks or definitely if you’re spending hundreds of dollars, but it’s just always easier for me to make a decision if I’ve had the opportunity to try it, because that’s how you know, if it’s going to work for you or not.

Josh Anderson:
Right.

Tracy Castillo:
Exactly. Yeah, because Brian, I think you said $68, but I thought I saw a $78 on that APH website. That’s the kind of money that’s hard for people to come across. I would think that if you can get it from your lending library, it would save you a little bit.

Brian Norton:
I think it’s always important, I don’t know if folks are like me., I’ve spent lots of money over the years on things that I thought were going to be the most amazing things, be really helpful, help me be more productive, more efficient at different types of tasks throughout the day, and I ended up spending, good money on it. Then when I, once I get it into my hands, I use it for a couple of weeks, and then it just doesn’t work for me as well as I would have thought it would have. Then it ends up collecting dust in the closet and those types of things. Yeah, definitely something to think and consider.

Brian Norton:
I want to tell folks just about a couple of other places we mentioned MaxiAids. We’ve also mentioned APH. There’s a couple of other places to look as well that are in similar veins. They have lots of different technologies for folks who are blind or visually impaired, also for folks who are deaf or hard of hearing. Again, these kinds of As Seen on TV, these products that you probably wouldn’t have even thought of that would have been helpful for you, but they do exist. They are really useful for folks. MaxiAids is definitely one of those, APH. Independent Living Aids, if you look them up on the web, they have a pretty good selection of equipment as well. LS&S Products is a great place. Then I’ll also just throw out there, Harris Communications, if you’re deaf or hard of hearing. Harris Communications has a lot of products specifically for those folks. I know this question was about folks who are blind, but if you’re looking for something for folks who are deaf and hard of hearing along those same similar lines, you might find those at Harris Communications. All four of those places are really, really useful sites for folks to look up products that they might think would be helpful for them.

Brian Norton:
I’d like to just open this up to our listeners. If you guys have any feedback. And if you’ve looked at these before, or if you have questions about other products that are similar to auditory or vibrating, tactile feedback for different types of things in and around the home, let us know. Love to hear your feedback on this question. If you’ve got other questions about other products, let us know. You can give us a call on our listener line, that’s (317) 721-7124 or send an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. That’s T-E-C-H eastersealscrossroads.org. Love to hear from you. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question is, “I’m working with a 17-year old young man with autism. He is learning to type his name using an iPad or a computer,” so maybe on both of those devices. “Do you know of an app that would provide audio visual feedback as the user types?”

Josh Anderson:
I’ll go real quick just with the iPad. I mean, you’ve got the visual output just because as you type, you’re going to see everything come up there, but without even getting a different app, you can go to settings, accessibility, spoken content and typing feedback, and you’ll actually hear all those letters as you type them in there.

Brian Norton:
That’s great. What was it again? Go through that.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, go to settings. Just go to your settings, the little gear wheel, accessibility, which is down just a little bit, depending on what size font you have, you may have to scroll down just a little. Then under accessibility, there’s a part called spoken content, and in there there’s something called typing feedback that you can turn on. You can turn that on by character or I believe, by word or both. You’ve can have that I type G-O hit space and it will say the G the O space and then say the word go.

Brian Norton:
Gotcha.

Tracy Castillo:
That’s pretty …

Josh Anderson:
Yep, so we can make it a little bit easier.

Tracy Castillo:
That’s pretty easy.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, and it’s all built in. That’ll work in most of the apps that you’re typing in. I mean, there may be some weird ones that if you’re typing in them, it may not read that back to you, but anything of course, Apple based or pretty much anything that you’re typing on emails, if you’re just using the notes feature to practice that typing and stuff, you can also use it in there.

Tracy Castillo:
You know, when I went over to it, I’m on an iPad over here as well. I opened up my settings. I went to the search bar. You said, it’s the typing feedback. I was just able to type in typing feedback. It brought me exactly where Josh is, so if you don’t get those steps, you can use your search bar.

Tracy Castillo:
But listen to this guys, back in October of 2020, I did a podcast for Laura. She did it on Typatone. Typatone is this website that you can go to on your computer, doesn’t matter if it’s Windows or your iPad or Mac. You go to the website typatone.com. It’s T-Y-P-A-T-O-N-E.com. Go there and you’ll see a little keyboard and you can start typing. What’s really neat is it plays little musical notes, so I thought that was really neat. I went on there on my iPad, and I do have a Bluetooth keyboard on it, so I typed in my name. After I was done, it just kept on playing my name over and over again. I never thought my name sounded that pretty, but okay. I liked it on that website. While I was there, I noticed you can also purchase a $1.99 app. That’s the typatone.com.

Belva Smith:
Josh, I was going down the same path that you went down. Then I, of course, being that most of what I do is with screen readers, I was also going to say, just with voiceover turned on, as you type it does announce what you’re typing. Then when you hit the space bar, it says the whole word. Then going through the laptop, same thing. You could use the, if you’re just using a Windows laptop, you could use the narrator. If you’re using a Mac, which they didn’t really specify which it was, but you could use the voiceover in that as well. Now, that’s going to get a little more complicated trying to use the screen reader, but just for practicing, that’s fine.

Belva Smith:
Also, with the screen reader, you can turn on the keyboard help, which doesn’t really communicate with the computer, but it does announce the letters as you type them. I often use that as a way for my clients to get used to what fingers, where, and which finger needs to be going where it needs to be going. That might be, and it’s a simple insert one, turns it on, and insert one turns it off.

Belva Smith:
As far as a standalone app, I don’t really think that this is a situation where you really need to look outside of what you’ve already got in whatever technology it is that you’re using, because it’s a simple request to just have the information spoken back to you.

Josh Anderson:
Belva, you brought up the Mac. Those settings for iPad are the exact same for a Mac, so you just go to, well system preferences as opposed to settings, but then accessibility, spoken content, and there’s a speak typing feedback button that you can press right there. Again, you can choose whether you want it to say just the characters, the characters and the word, or however you might want it to do that.

Brian Norton:
I think we also tackled this similar, not, I guess not really the same question, but I thought maybe we talked about a couple of products in our last show that might have some impact on this. We had a question come through about basically a typing software, a typing teacher software, how to teach people who are blind or visually impaired how to type. We were talking about some of the different products that are out there to help with teaching typing. Belva, I do love the fact that you guys are, and Josh, you as well, and Tracy, just about the stuff that’s already there, because you don’t have to spend money if it’s got a built into the spoken content on your iPad or your Mac, using the screen reader that’s already there in the Mac, narrator which is already over there in the Windows computer. Maybe you don’t even need to look at these things.

Brian Norton:
I think, maybe, there’s some application for it. When we talk about typingclub.com being able to provide some auditory feedback as you type if you’re learning the keyboard. TypeAbility is another one. Talking Typer is another basically way to teach people who are blind or visually impaired how to type if they’re not really familiar with the keyboard. I’m not sure if there’s a real maybe application in this particular point. It sounds like you’re just teaching him how to do his name. But again, if he’s trying to learn how to type brand new, maybe even a Talking Typer type of an application would be helpful for them.

Brian Norton:
I’d love to open this up to our listeners. If you guys have any experience with this, if you know of different apps or programs beyond what we’ve already talked about today, we’d love to hear from you. Maybe it’s something that you’ve used personally or you’ve used with somebody else that you’re working with. Give us a call on our listener line, that’s (317) 721-7124 or send us an email at tech at eastersealscrossroads.org. We’d love to hear from you. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question is from a woman who has a daughter that has an intellectual developmental disability. They’re currently working on getting her diploma on the high school track. Student, the daughter has difficulty with reading and comprehension in school. They mentioned that she comprehends much better when things are read to her. The school uses an iPad. They are wondering if there’s technology, they should be taking advantage of already in the iPad to have text read to her. I’ll just open this up to the group.

Belva Smith:
The iPad does have a couple of different options for having the content read. Again you’re going to go into settings and down about four or five under general, you’re going to see accessibility. In accessibility, you’ll see spoken content. The very first option there is speak selection. Then the second one is speak screen. Now this is not voiceover, so this isn’t going to cause it to read everything on the screen. However, the speak selection will read just what you have highlighted. The speak screen is a two finger swipe from the top of the iPad down to the bottom. I don’t really recommend that one in this case, primarily because there’s not a whole lot of control with it. Once you started reading, it’s just going to read. You can pause it, but you can’t back it up. You can control how fast or slow it’s reading, which is helpful.

Belva Smith:
But the speak selection might be a better option, because then you can just highlight a paragraph at a time or two paragraphs at a time. Then you can have it read and think about it for a minute if you need to, discuss it, if you want to or possibly just have it re-read again. Those are two features built right in to the iPad that would both, I think, fit the needs for this particular individual. Then also I wanted to make sure I’m going to bring up something that I don’t know the name of, but I know you guys are all going to jump on it and know it. For anyone who has reading barriers, whether it’s visual or comprehension, you can do the, it’s not Talking Books, but what’s the other one? Or is it Talking Books? Do you have to be blind to use Talking Books?

Brian Norton:
Are you talking about Learning Ally?

Belva Smith:
Learning Ally, that’s what I was thinking of Brian, yes. Go ahead, talk about it.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. Learning Ally is a website for students, I think it’s primarily for students who need access to different types of printed materials. They have lots of different books that can come in an audio format. They will send those to you. Then your student will have access to those. They can just listen to those in audio format. Definitely something to look at.

Brian Norton:
I know here in Indiana, there’s an agency called Patents. Patents is very similar to the INDATA project, but they work very specifically with K-12, so schools. They have something that’s called the ICAM, which is the Indiana Center on Accessible Materials. If your student has difficulty with needing some sort of an alternative format to books so that they can get access to that, whether that’s to read it or just be able to use it, you can contact them, give them your information and then have them send you those materials and work with you or the school to be able to get you the materials that you need.

Brian Norton:
That’s going to be different in every state. A great place to start, Tracy, you mentioned this earlier in the show in one of our earlier questions is to go to eastersealstech.com/states, and look up your Assistive Technology Act. If they don’t know who the, if you’re looking for your state’s Center on Accessible Materials, they will probably know who that is. They can direct you to them if they aren’t the provider themselves. Definitely look into that. As a student, they should be able to help you, not only with getting those accessible materials, but also with access as well, kind of what we’re talking about with the iPad and having it read to you and [crosstalk 00:22:01].

Belva Smith:
They actually have an app for the iPad, Brian, or at least Learning Ally.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, they do. They do.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, they have an app for the iPad. Don’t get misled, because as you’re looking for it, it’s going to say free, free, free. The app itself is free. However, you do have to have a membership with them, and I do believe that in all cases you have to pay a membership fee. Now, I could be wrong about that because there could be circumstances that might allow you to, especially with everything that’s gone on over this last year with COVID where you may be able to access certain materials for free.

Brian Norton:
Right, I think if you’re in a K-12 environment, I think they will cover the cost of that. But I think for anybody, once you’re outside of K-12, kindergarten through 12th grade, then it becomes that subscription fee that you have to pay for those services. Yeah, but it’s a great service. Don’t get us wrong on that. It’s got a lot of great materials. They do a great job making stuff available for folks. I think, there are lots of other programs in there too, that you can get apps. There’s lots of different apps that are available for folks, be able to have text read to you, even apps that you can snap a picture of and have texts read to you. Tracy, you were going to mention maybe one.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah, before I forget about it, I’m so sorry. I ran over you like that, but the C-Pen, I want to talk about an oldie, but goodie. We have, in our Lending Library, you mentioned the lending library for the software, but you could also look into the Lending Library for scanning pens. We have one called the C-Pen. We got it a couple of years back. When we got it, everybody loved it. It was very hard to keep in the library. What you can do with it is you can use it like a highlighter and run over the text, the written text, so this would be out of a textbook or a worksheet. It will have it read back to through a little speaker or headphones.

Tracy Castillo:
What’s really neat is there’s a testing version that has a few less features, but I think one of the last features is that when you have just the regular pen, you can highlight a word that you don’t know the definition for and have that given to you, so I really wanted to talk about that. Carry on, Brian.

Brian Norton:
Absolutely. No, that’s a great, great device. There’s no shortage of devices to have texts read to you. Obviously, the C-Pen is one of those. The OrCam read device is one. Lots of different devices that can help people get access to printed materials.

Brian Norton:
Thinking about apps just a little bit more, I mentioned ones that you can actually, just on from the iPad, you can download an app and have it scan and read something. Things like Seeing AI, which is a free one from Microsoft that uses artificial intelligence, so that when you take a picture of not even texts, you can also take a picture of handwriting, it’ll try to interpret that for you and basically read it back to you. Then there’ things like ClaroPDF. I mean, there’s a whole plethora of those. If you just look up text to speech in the Google Play store or the app store, you’ll find a lot of different apps that can provide some access to folks. I’d love for folks to be able to check out some of those.

Brian Norton:
But again, I think Belva, you hit the nail on the head right off the bat with what the specific question of what’s already here in my iPad that I can take advantage of, and really it’s under that spoken content feature on the iPad and under accessibility where you can either read what’s been highlighted or you can read from the top of the screen. I forget the name of that particular feature, but …

Tracy Castillo:
It speaks screen or the highlighted. I just want to say to this listener, don’t feel bad once you find this, don’t feel bad that you didn’t know it was there. Oftentimes, when I show some of my consumers something like this, how easy it is to get to and how easy it is to use, then they feel bad, because they’re like, “I’ve been using this iPad for a year. I had no idea.” But it’s just one of those situations that you don’t know what you don’t know. Once you realize it, then you’re like, “Oh my gosh. What took me so long to get here.” Yeah.

Brian Norton:
We need more evangelists out there to be able to talk about these things, make people aware of them.

Tracy Castillo:
Right.

Brian Norton:
And the more people that know, the more it’ll get out there. There are some pretty great accessibility tools built directly into the iPad. There’s quite a few really useful tools in that accessibility settings area for folks. I’d love to just open this up to folks. If you have other suggestions or other apps that you want to make mention of and make sure that folks know about, let us know. Love to be able to share those, or even products, love to be able to share those with 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.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question is “I have a Logic Tech wireless keyboard. I have minor tremors,” which causes some spasticity in the person’s hands. “That makes me double strike letters or hit two keys at once. Do you have a product that would assist me or a source for such a product?”

Belva Smith:
Well, I’m going to assume that this particular person is using a Windows keyboard, only because I know how to guide you to the settings for the Windows keyboard, but I don’t for the Mac. However, I’m sure that the exact same options are going to be available in the Mac. Yeah, you can go, actually the simple way to get there is to press your Windows key, the one that looks like a little window, and the U. That will open up your Ease of Access Center. In there you can adjust how much timing it or how much pressure it takes for a key to actually register. It’s the filter keys that you want to go make the adjustment to. You can adjust it to where it takes not just a touch, but a hold. You might have to hold it for two or three seconds before it actually registers.

Belva Smith:
I’ve actually had to use this with some of my older consumers, because especially the men, the older men seem to have really fat fingers, and so it’s real easy to get two keys at once. With a minor adjustment there again, and that’s under the Ease of Access settings, the Windows key, U and then your Ease of Access and go down to the filter keys. You’re going to see a couple of different options that can be configured there. That’s one of the ways that you can do it.

Josh Anderson:
Belva, just going with what you just said, there is about the same thing on Mac. It’s under accessibility, which is under the system preferences. It’s called slow keys.

Belva Smith:
There you go.

Josh Anderson:
Actually, you have to push a key and really hold onto it. You can adjust how long you have to hold it, but so you actually, it will not register that key until you press it and hold it for a certain amount of time. That could also be useful if you don’t want to put hardware on there, see if maybe that’s something that could work just right off the bat that’s already built in.

Brian Norton:
A couple of other things that I’ve used in the past as well to help with this, two things. The first is key guards. Key guards are a great way to be able to create a physical separation between the keys, so that when someone rests their hands on the keyboard, they’re not automatically just starting to press keys. They have something to lean against, and then when they get to the key that they want to press, they have to put their finger physically down inside a hole that’s over top of the key that they want to be able to press those keys.

Brian Norton:
There’s several different places that actually make key guards. One place that I’ve been using quite a bit is keyguardat.com. They will actually, they have a lot of pre-made ones, things that they’ve already made for certain types of keyboards, but you can also send them any keyboard, and they’ll make one for it.cCustom key guards start around $80 from them. But that’s just for the first prototype that they make. Then they get less expensive, the more that you get. It’s a great way to be able to, again, if you’ve got those unintentional tremors or just really any type of hand tremor, making sure that you don’t double strike or if you’re not able to get your finger off a key in time and it puts multiple keystrokes into your document or into your edit field, that can be a real pain. Key guards can help a lot with that.

Brian Norton:
The other thing that I’ll mention too is I used to is these things called typing aids. I don’t use them anymore.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, I just thought of those, Brian.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, yeah. Typing aids are really cool, because they offer, you slip your hand into them, and so that you’re not using your fingers necessarily to press the keys. It’s something that you slip your hand in. It gives you a nice, solid, consistent extension of your fingers, so just one, you can only press one key at a time, but you can wear two of them, but one over each hand. It just allows you to be able to a little bit more accurate sometimes is what I found, a little bit more accurate and a little bit more consistent with the keys that you’re pressing, and so look up typing aids. You can go to a lot of different OT stores, so Sammons Prestons, AliMed, those types of places and look up typing aids and you’ll find them. They’re pretty obvious. They’re usually made out of brown plastic. They’ve got a little Velcro strap that goes around your hand. Again, just providing you something a little bit more consistent for you to be able to when you want to hit those keys, you can just go ahead and try to hit the key that you want and can eliminate some of that double striking or difficulty with pressing a key for too long and putting multiple keystrokes in there, so something else to think about with regard to that.

Belva Smith:
Something that I’ve done in place of the typing aid, basically during evaluations before, when I didn’t necessarily have a typing aid with me, but noticed the individual having a little bit of difficulty with the keyboard, you can take a pencil and turn it upside down with the eraser and hold that. I don’t know what it is exactly about holding that device, but I have found that to be very beneficial for folks that are doing the double tapping, especially with the touch screens. Perhaps they can’t do a double tap with their finger, but the minute you put that object in their hand and ask them to do the double tap, they’ve got it. That might just be something easy that you probably got laying around the house that you could try. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a pencil, but you do want to, the reason I set a pencils cause of the eraser being rubber, because you do want it to be something that’s got that rubber tip so that it’s not going to slide across the key on you.

Brian Norton:
Sometimes you might want to look for, I know with the iPad, they have those, I forget the name of the type of screen that they use, but it’s got to have that little electricity current going through your fingers to be able to activate. There’s a lot of different styluses now that are a little bit more like a pencil. Even the Apple pencil is one of them. It gives you that same feel in your fingers, in your hand, as you use the iPad or another device. Definitely something to think about there.

Josh Anderson:
Also, if the double striking letters is a big problem, those large keyboards, and Belva, you probably might be able to think of one off the top of your head, but they just have the really big keys.

Belva Smith:
Keys-U-See.

Josh Anderson:
Keys-U-See, yeah. Yeah, but I mean, the keys are about, what, probably a size and a half of what a normal keyboard or what that the Logitech wireless keyboard would probably have, so it’s a whole lot easier with targeting having those larger keys to get to.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, I’m more tactile keyboard. Now, I don’t know, off the top of my head, I’m not picturing the Logitech wireless keyboard, so I don’t know, but if they’re more of a flat key, that may be part of your problem right there. Just having something that’s got a more, a key that is more projected with a little bit more space in between them can be very helpful. Again, like I said, it depends on the size of your fingers too. Most, I don’t know why it is, but it just seems that a lot of the older men that I work with, they just have really fat fingers, and it’s hard to keep it on, especially a laptop keyboard.

Brian Norton:
For all old men, Belva, [inaudible 00:34:45] you. Also, before Tracy gets a chance, this would be a good thing to try your tech ACT out for, because they probably have some different keyboards, maybe even some with key guards and you can go in there and try those out and maybe even borrow them, see if one of those might be something that works best for you.

Tracy Castillo:
Yep.

Brian Norton:
You have mentioning those bigger keys, keyboards, the BigKeys XL and Westchester has another one, I think it’s called the Vision Board, but they’re bigger keys. Something that I will always hold a grudge against the AT world is when they got rid of my Intellakeys keyboard. I used to love that keyboard for this particular need. It had overlays you could slip in and out for whatever type of task you were working on. It had one inch key reasons, and so your chance of hitting two keys at the same time, it was nothing. I mean, they were such big keys. It really helped a lot of folks out. I truly do miss that keyboard. I know there’s some movement to resurrect that particular keyboard or to continue to support that keyboard, but it was really a sad day when they got rid of that particular keyboard as something that was being manufactured and readily available for folks.

Brian Norton:
I would love just to open this up to our listeners. If you guys have any feedback on this, different ways to be able to get access to the keyboard, if you have tremors or have difficulty with double striking letters or hitting two keys at once, let us know, want to pass that information on our voicemail number is (317) 721-7124 or send us an email at eastersealstech.com. Love to hear from you. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question is about note taking apps. “Can you please list your favorite note-taking apps or tools and list different pros and cons if possible for those. I think we all take notes or at least we should as best we can. What are your favorite tools for making that happen if you use an app, what are those apps? Love to hear from you guys.”

Josh Anderson:
I’m terrible at taking notes that’s just evident by the countless amounts of paper that are on my desk that eventually get gone through and put in a little pile that says shred, which is what I was doing before this show. But as far as my favorites and probably the ones I recommend or see recommended the most are the Livescribe pen, just because it’s all-in-one. Some folks prefer to write their notes. It’s a great way to write your notes and record everything that’s going on around you. It’s been around a while. It can connect to a computer. You can download that stuff. It’s one of those that’s been around for quite a while, but yet still has some really great uses for those folks who want to actually hand write their notes.

Josh Anderson:
The cons, sometimes it’s really hard to get. They don’t make enough of them. They just make it really almost impossible to order sometimes. Also, it can get expensive, because you have to use their paper. Now you can print it out, but you’re going to use a lot of printer ink, which can get expensive too. There’s more pros and more cons, but I’ll try to go through them quick, so I’m not taking up the entire time.

Josh Anderson:
As far as if you’re looking more for computer program or apps, Sonocent is a really good one. It will record everything that’s said. You can upload or download a PowerPoint into the notes, so that you can put your recordings with each slide, as well as add your own notes into that as well, so it’s got some really great features. Cons, it’s robust. It’s really big, so unless you really need that big of a note taking accommodation, I’d say it might not be for you. It’s expensive. A one time fee, if you purchased the whole thing, it’s over $300, I think. You can also do a yearly subscription, but I think if you’re using it for four years of college, it’s going to be around that $300 phase anyway. Some colleges, I think, do offer it through their disability services, so definitely if you’re a college student, I would check that out for sure. Again, the pros are, it can do darn near everything. The cons are it, it does darn near everything, so sometimes it can be a little overwhelming for folks.

Josh Anderson:
Then along those same lines, AudioNote is a great one. Notability is a lot like it, but AudioNote’s just across platforms and can be used on a lot of different stuff. It does the same thing as the other two. It records and then links whatever you type along with those recordings, so that you can easily go back and listen to it. You can attach pictures, a lot of other things into those notes as you need. It really does a pretty darn good job. It’ll work across platforms. I can use it on my phone, my computer, my tablet, whatever I might want to use it on and link all those together. It’s relatively inexpensive. I want to say it’s around $10 to $20 per device, just depending on what device you’re putting it on, iOS, Android, or Windows or that kind of stuff. It’s very useful. It’s really great that you can actually record the stuff along with taking the notes. It helps you pay a lot more attention. A lot of folks try to write down everything that’s said, if you do that, you’re not really retaining information. You’re not getting much from it. All these let you record.

Josh Anderson:
But really, I guess I do take notes now that I’m sitting here lying to you. I just use the Notes app on my iPhone and on my Mac computer. They link up. I really just use that, but it’s more just for, but I realize as I’m reading this question off my Notes app, that I guess I do use my Notes app. I use a combination of it and paper. They kind of work for me, but at least it makes it to where I do have those things. As far as accommodation wise, those three that I mentioned, the Livescribe pen, Sonocent, and AudioNote are probably the three that I see recommended the most that meet the need of probably 90% of the folks that we serve in some way, shape or form.

Brian Norton:
I was just going to mention real quickly, just the Livescribe pen is one of those devices that, because of supply chain issues recently with everybody buying up technology to help kids in school and all those types of things, there’s a real supply chain issue problem with the Livescribe pen right now. I don’t even think it’s available until at least April. If you go to the livescribe.com website, they say they’re out of stock. I don’t believe, I think they’ve given the date of March or April before it will be in. I think it’s towards the latter part of that. Anyways, they’re hard to find, and when you do find one, people just, it’s a sign of the times, they’ve jacked the price up really, really high at this point for the device.

Josh Anderson:
Brian actually, so Livescribe also makes a Symphony pen, which is their new one. It actually connects to a tablet or phone. It’s sold out and gone too, so technically Livescribe doesn’t have anything right now.

Brian Norton:
Right, right. Lots of it. Well, and I think a couple of things …

Josh Anderson:
They’re all gone.

Brian Norton:
… with regard to that, I think, you can tell it’s a pretty popular product when they can’t keep anything in stock, right?

Josh Anderson:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brian Norton:
It’s really popular. It’s really good at what it does. The other thing is it’s just hard to get, and so you’ve got to jump on it when you see it. Certainly something there. Josh, I’ll go with you. I use the Notes app a lot for my notes. I have a really, I don’t know, I probably got 500 different notes in my notes app organized in the sub folders and folders, but what I’ve been loving recently are some of the added features that they’ve been adding to the Notes on your Mac, so I use a Mac here at work. In the Notes app, they’ve given you ways to make checklists. You can now insert pictures. You can draw. You can hand write all sorts of things in tandem with the Livescribe pen and if you’re using an iPad to be able to make that note really anything you want it to be. And so it’s really opened up a lot of options for folks, depending on what your preference is, whether you want to type your notes or you want to use a pencil to be able to write …

Belva Smith:
Or dictate.

Brian Norton:
… write your notes, or you can dictate directly, right. There’s lots of different options now for that. I have tried several of the other ones. I’ll agree with you, Josh, that a lot of those things are really great. Livescribe, sorry, AudioNotes and Notability, and some of the other apps are really great too, but ‘m with you. I use mostly either pen and paper, regular old pen and paper, or my Notes app within the Mac back book. [crosstalk 00:43:10]?

Tracy Castillo:
Hey, I don’t use the Notes app on my computer or on my phone anymore. You know what I use? Windows One Note, have you tried that one? No. Okay. Well, I use that one.

Brian Norton:
I have tried it. I’ll be honest. I’ve tried it. I like it.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah, you do?

Brian Norton:
Yeah.

Tracy Castillo:
I started using that. I do the little notes, like my hand notes when I’m walking around, because you don’t want to spring out your computer and start typing while someone’s giving you notes. I use my handwritten notes for my data dump, kind of like what Josh is saying. You write a lot of little notes. Then I can put those in my big notes, which is my One Note. I have a lot of different folders, like meetings. What I’ve was able to do during one meeting was record, so you are able to record in the One Note app that’s from Microsoft, but what it does, it gives you a little file. It attaches just a little file icon to that page. It’s nothing fancy other than that, you can open it up and listen to what you recorded. Yeah, that’s my favorite one. Some of the downsides on that is I think you have to have a subscription. My school gave me a subscription. I was able to use it until I’m no longer in school, but who needs it after that?

Brian Norton:
I’ve tried One Note and I probably to be honest, probably need to give it a little bit longer of a test period with it just to be able to test it out a little bit more. One thing that I found a little bit easier to do with the Notes app is to be able to insert pictures. If I’m writing my handwritten notes and I’m trying to capture as much information as possible, I know I can, on my iPad, just snap a picture of that document and put it directly in there. I know that’s possible on One Note, but it really depends on what I’m taking my notes on. If I’m on my computer, I don’t have that camera readily available, and so I think …

Brian Norton:
I think probably the other thing about one note for me is it’s got so many features, sometimes get a little lost on what I should do and how I should use it. That’s maybe just me not giving it again enough time to be able to get used to those types of things and to figure out all it can do. It probably would blow my mind with everything that it could do if I gave it a long enough trial period to be able to really capture it.

Brian Norton:
I do go to a lot of AT conferences. That’s what they talk about a lot. They talk about not only a One Note, but they also talk about Google Keep as another really good note taking and a way to capture information. Again, those are just, there seems to be so many features. I just don’t even know where to start sometimes with some of those things and how to capture information, but certainly something I probably need to look into a little bit more, a little bit longer. Yeah. Thanks for sharing that, Tracy.

Belva Smith:
I am I’m a very simple person. I say, keep it simple all the time. I too, when Josh, you first said, you don’t take notes, I’m sitting here shaking my head yes, but my phone is full of notes, but it’s all in my Notes app. I’ve looked at many, because I know y’all have mentioned some of these others. I’ve looked at them. Though they look really neat, they’re just so robust that it’s just more than I need. It’s almost overwhelming. Then also because my consumers are mostly using screen readers or whatever, nine times out of 10, a lot of that fancy stuff isn’t even accessible. Again, I just liked the cut down versions. Now, I agree that Notes is it’s growing and they’re getting adding the pictures and that kind of stuff. That’s all fine and dandy as long as it stays simple and out of my way, and I can still use the program the way or the app, the way that I’m used to using it.

Brian Norton:
Good point.

Belva Smith:
So I think we would all agree that Notes is going to be probably up there in the top.

Brian Norton:
Yeah.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah.

Josh Anderson:
Yep.

Tracy Castillo:
I opened up my Notes app and there’s quite a few notes in my Notes app. Yep, can’t say I don’t use that one now.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, I think what I find again, when I’m looking for something and I think this might be something for folks to consider is look for something that you can use on multiple platforms, because you don’t know what you’re going to walk into the room with. You might walk in with just your phone on you. You might walk in with your iPad. You might walk in with your computer, but you want to be able to, when you want to take notes, you want to take notes. You’ve got to make sure that you have access to hopefully one location or one app that you’re going to use to be able to capture it all, so you don’t have it spread across multiple programs on multiple devices and things can get lost in that if you’re doing it that way.

Josh Anderson:
That’s One thing I do like about the Notes app, and we can even close on this, but something that I would make sure no matter what kind of app or thing you use is the search feature.

Belva Smith:
Searchable.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, because you might be like Brian and have 25 different folders and stuff, but what happens when you put it in the wrong folder or it crosses across three different things and “Oh, which folder did I put it in.” Or if you’re like me and you don’t use folders at all, you just have 900 notes sitting there. It’s like, whatever it’s involved with, you can just type into that search bar, brings up every note containing that information, so whatever you use, if it has that on it, it can make it, oh, just a whole lot easier and save you so much time from trying to look through,” Where did I put that phone number, that information, that little piece that I needed to get when you can find that so much easier. Yeah.

Brian Norton:
Excellent, excellent. One other thing I’ll throw out there and we can end on this one is if you belong to an organization like ours, we are Easterseals Crossroads. We’re disability services organization. We’re a HIPAA compliant organization as well. One of the challenges that I know myself and all of our staff are challenged with is making sure that we are being very protective of patient health information and some of these notes apps in different programs store things to the cloud, and not all cloud locations are HIPAA compliance. It’s just really important that we make sure that we’re being really stewards of the information that we have, and so I know for my Notes apps, I don’t really put, I don’t think I have any private health information or patient information in my Notes app. However, just to make sure I don’t have any of that stuff, I just make sure I’m not backing it up to iCloud, because iCloud is not a HIPAA compliant system. Just something to think about there.

Josh Anderson:
Brian, you can do that really easily by just putting them on your Mac and using that feature on there. Now, it does make it bad, because it’s not going to be linked if you’re trying to do it on your phone and your Mac or update those kinds of things. But like you said, if it’s for work and it has to be, there’s also other ways you can use just initials, just an initial or little ways like that. But yeah, to be on the safe side, it’s better just to keep those on the device as much as possible.

Brian Norton:
Right. Absolutely, absolutely. Well hey, I want to open this up to our listeners. If you guys have a favorite note taking app or a tool that you use, let us know. Love to be able to share that with our listeners. List out some of the pros and the cons, if you can. 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 12:
Now, it’s time for the wildcard question.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question is the wildcard question. This is where Belva came up with a question that we haven’t had any time to prepare for, so Belva, what do you got for us today?

Belva Smith:
With the recent happenings in Texas, it really got me thinking about something that when I was growing up. I think the adults around me probably were more prepared than what I consider myself to be. I have no kind of an emergency box or pack or whatever, but this weekend I started thinking that’s really probably something that I should put together if I haven’t learned anything in this last year. If I relied solely on technology, of course, technology would have to be a part of that. But I guess my question is to all of you, what five things would you put in your emergency pack if you don’t already have one? If you do have one, what do you have in it?

Tracy Castillo:
I’ll be right back on and go get mine. I’ve got some really neat things in mine. I have flint. I have a lighter. I know how to use it, the flint. It’s one thing to have these things and the next thing to know how to use them. Josh is laughing off screen about me, but I sat there, I almost cut my finger off trying to use this flint, but now I know how to do it. In an emergency, you don’t have any power or anything, you need a light something, I’ve got flint. There’s plenty of dryer lint in my dryer that I could use to start a little fire if I need it to make warmth inside my house. That’s one thing, so I have fire.

Tracy Castillo:
I have my kit for medical reasons. There’s patches. There’s gauze. There’s a cigarette in case things get real bad. I don’t know why, but it came with the kit. We also have little medicines. Just always keeping our medical kit put all together and on my, I have a little cooler that I keep all this in. It’s red and white. My sons played all these different shooter games, so on the side of, it has the little symbol, it says “First Aid,” but it also says “Medikit.” It’s just a little throwback. Yeah, if you guys want to hang out a little bit, I’ll show you. It’s really neat. I think I got everything in there I need.

Belva Smith:
Well, I got something from you, Tracy. I didn’t think about fire, but having a way to get fire. That’s really important.

Brian Norton:
I don’t even think I have a survival kit. I’m trying to think. I mean, we’ve got a medical kit, but not our survival kit. We probably have enough canned vegetables and food in our pantry to be able to last us a little bit of time. I do know you mentioned something just about technology and for folks with disabilities, that’s a huge concern. All the flooding that happened as a result of no heat and pipes freezing down in Texas, I know nationally, the assistive technology, ATAP is the name of our membership organization for our Assistive Technology Act Program and data here in Indiana, so all AT Acts, most of us belong to this membership organization called ATAP.

Brian Norton:
One of our sister programs in Georgia, in Georgia, they have this thing called the Pass it on Center. They are a national group that looks to, if you have a need, if there’s a natural disaster somewhere in America and you have folks who are losing wheelchairs, canes, crutches, walkers, all these adaptive devices and things, communication devices, maybe they would have lost it in maybe a fire or an earthquake or a flood or those types of things, it’s a place for them to be able to apply for those and get replacement devices for free or at least something to use in the meantime while they try to get that replaced through their traditional funding sources.

Brian Norton:
And so something to think about and look up, Pass it on Center, certainly something to know about so that if you are in one of these natural disaster areas and you’re dealing with assistive technology, there is a resource out there, it’s called again, that Pass it on Center. It’s based out of Georgia, but they are in communication with all of the AT Act Programs. We all really help each other out when there are natural disasters to make sure that the resources are there as far as adaptive equipment, software devices, durable medical equipment, those types of things are available for folks.

Belva Smith:
Good information.

Josh Anderson:
Bela, you kind of brought that up. We don’t have a kit, but we do have, I have flashlights strewn across the house, so that pretty much if the power went out, you could find one in just about any room. Really the biggest thing that we have is I have a giant cast iron stove in my living room, so I have wood for that. I can use that to heat the house, boil water, do just about anything we need. I don’t have any flint. I do know how to use it, but I don’t have any. But I do have lighters strewn about as well. Those could probably do it too, at least keep warm and stuff like that. Unfortunately, I don’t have things like a weather radio or a backup charging thing for the phone, so those things would go pretty quick. I’m pretty sure that, especially if if my 12 year old stepson staying with us, if we went without wifi for more than a day or two, I’m not sure if he’d make it anyway. I don’t know if even that battery backup would be enough.

Brian Norton:
That’s funny.

Tracy Castillo:
Adding another radio to my list.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, they’re little emergency …

Belva Smith:
I do have one of the crank up weather. It’s funny, Todd asked for that for Christmas 10 years ago.

Tracy Castillo:
Did you get it?

Belva Smith:
Yeah, so we do have that. Then we also have this little device, I don’t know exactly what it’s called, but Halo makes it. It’s about the size of a brick, but you can plug anything into it. It’ll jump a car. It’ll charge a phone. It’ll run. I mean, just all kinds of stuff that it’ll do. It holds its charge once it’s fully charged for a really long time. We have the radio. We have the Halo. Then for me, I got to have peanut butter.

Tracy Castillo:
Peanut butter?

Belva Smith:
I mean, got to have peanut butter and water. Now, we did talk about, in the beginning of the lockdown for us here, Todd kept saying, “What food do you absolutely have to have?” I said, “Peanut butter.” If I’ve got peanut butter, I can survive. Then there is one more thing that I would have in mine, but I don’t know if I should say it, so I probably won’t.

Tracy Castillo:
Well, could it be like mine?

Josh Anderson:
Go ahead.

Tracy Castillo:
Let me try this again. It could be like my other thing I have that I haven’t mentioned, because it’s not in my kit, it’s in my window. It’s a solar powered flashlight, so it’s constantly sitting in my window sill. It’s in the same spot all the time, collecting sunlight, ready for me when I need it. That might be used to find the peanut butter in the back of the cabinet.

Belva Smith:
Mine is, we’ll just say it’s protection.

Tracy Castillo:
Oh, protection.

Belva Smith:
Let’s just say it’s protection.

Brian Norton:
She got her gun.

Belva Smith:
Yep.

Tracy Castillo:
I’ve got a brick.

Josh Anderson:
Oh thank God, it was a gun. I thought it was going to totally different way there. [crosstalk 00:58:13] appropriate, Belva.

Tracy Castillo:
My goodness.

Brian Norton:
Oh my gosh.

Tracy Castillo:
[crosstalk 00:58:18] samurai swords.

Josh Anderson:
[crosstalk 00:58:18], Brian. I’m in a mask.

Brian Norton:
Good golly.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, I think it’s just something to think about it. If you don’t have one, it’s probably worth putting one together, because you just never know. Crazy, crazy things have happened over the last 12 months. We are almost one full year into this mess. Oh, we are, I guess in some. For me, it was March the 13th, because that’s when everything’s shut down. But we’re getting very close. It obviously, made us think about a lot of different things that we hadn’t been forced to think about. A lot of times with my consumers, I think about what they would do, how they get their information if everything just goes off.

Tracy Castillo:
Hey Belva, I really liked this question.

Belva Smith:
Good.

Tracy Castillo:
And as much fun was we had about talking about what we have in our survival kit, I’m sure a lot of people do have these items. They’re just in different spots. I think the cigarette got put in ours just as like, “If things are getting bad, real bad, last zombie at our door, here you go.” But yeah, just thinking about those and putting things together in a little creative kit like mine or someone else’s thing, it’s just fun to do, I guess.

Brian Norton:
That’s so great. Yeah. I would love to open this up to our listeners. If you are a survivalist and have a pack together, let us know what you guys are keeping in yours and maybe share that with our group, making sure that we’re all prepared, because again, you’re right, Belva, we don’t know when one of these things would happen. Definitely let us know. You can give us a call on our listener line, that’s (317) 721-7124 or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. We’d love to hear from you.

Brian Norton:
That’s our show for today. I just want to make sure I give the folks who are here with me just the opportunity to say goodbye to you. Belva, do you want to say goodbye to folks?

Belva Smith:
See you guys soon. Take care.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Tracy?

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah, see you guys later.

Brian Norton:
And Josh?

Josh Anderson:
Let’s hope you don’t need those emergency kits till next time.

Brian Norton:
Excellent, excellent. Yeah, and just one last note we’d love to hear from you guys. Love your feedback to the questions that we answered today. We’ll also love any questions that you do have. Send us those questions or send us your feedback. Send those to our listener line at (317) 721-7124 or send it to our email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Take care.

Speaker 12:
It seems like every week we have at least one blooper, so here you go.

Belva Smith:
Fancy, I just turned the computer on and talk and it worked.

Josh Anderson:
Hold down with two fingers, hope for the best.

Tracy Castillo:
No.

Brian Norton:
Information provided on Assistive Technology FAQ does not constitute a product endorsement. Our comments are not intended as recommendations nor is our show evaluative in nature. Assistive Technology FAQ is hosted and produced by Brian Norton, gets editorial help by Josh Anderson and Belva Smith and received 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.

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