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ATFAQ141 – Q1: Voice or one handed phone use, Q2: Time management apps, Q3: Barcode Readers, Q4. Audio described exercise apps, Q5: Dragon and Magnifier Software, Q6: Wildcard: What have you learned through COVID?

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

Q1: Voice or one handed phone use, Q2: Time management apps, Q3: Barcode Readers, Q4. Audio described exercise apps, Q5: Dragon and Magnifier Software, Q6: Wildcard: What have you learned through COVID?

———Transcription 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 answered on our show, send us a tweet with the #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. And now let’s jump into today’s show.

Brian Norton:
Hello, and welcome to ATFAQ Episode 141. My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of the show and we’re so happy that you’ve taken some time to tune in with us this week. We’ve got a great lineup of assistive technology questions for you today, but before we jump into the questions, I want to take a moment to go round and introduce the folks who are sitting here with me. First is Belva. Belva is the Vision Team Lead for our Clinical Assistive Technology team here at Easterseals Crossroads. Belva, do you want to say hi?

Belva Smith:
Hey, everybody. And as always, I’m excited to be here.

Brian Norton:
Next we have Tracy. Tracy is the End Data Program Manager here at Easterseals Crossroads. Tracy, do you want to say hi?

Tracy Castillo:
Sure do. Hey, everyone. Thanks for tuning in.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. And then last but not least, we have Josh. Josh is the Manager of Clinical Assistive Technology here at Easterseals Crossroads. He’s also the popular host of AT Update, which is one of our other podcasts here on the Accessibility Channel at Easterseals Crossroads. But Josh, you want to say hi?

Josh Anderson:
Hi there, everybody.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. So, for new listeners, we just want to take a moment to say thank you for joining in our show today, for taking a listen to our show. Thankful that you guys are here with us. I want to let you just kind of know a little bit about how the show works. So, we come across various assistive technology questions throughout the week, we also receive feedback to those questions, and we have a variety of ways for you to be able to send information to us. The first is with our listener line, that’s 317-721-7124, or through email, that’s tech@eastersealscrossroads.org, or through Twitter, you can send us a tweet with the #ATFAQ.

Brian Norton:
Love to be able to, not only get your questions, because without your questions, we don’t really have a show, but we also are looking for your feedback because we want to provide well-rounded answers to the questions that we have. And so, if perhaps you have some information that you would like to share and that we can pass on to someone who… one of the questions we try to answer today, please do, again, that listener line, through email, through sending us a tweet with the #ATFAQ. You can get those to us and we’ll be able to share those on our next show.

Brian Norton:
We also want to provide you the opportunity to spread the word about our show. You can find our podcast in a variety of different places, really anywhere that you can find a podcast, you can find us. You can find us on iTunes, and through Stitcher, Google Play, we have a website set up, ATFAQshow.com. We’ve also now, we are on Spotify, but also on Amazon Music, so different ways to be able to find our podcasts and make sure that you can share that with other folks. We’d love to continue to spread the word about the show and make sure that folks know that it’s out there as a resource to them. So, please do that for us.

Brian Norton:
So, without further ado, we’re going to jump into the first question that we have today, and this is from a person who has a family member that has multiple sclerosis, which has resulted in limited use of an arm and a hand. So, they’ve only got use of one arm and one hand. And basically, what they want to do is they want to answer the phone without using their hands, and so they want to make phone calls and answer the phone without their use of their hands. They want to basically know if there’s any neat tools out there or devices to accommodate this, and if so, what those are. So, kind of just open this up to the group.

Belva Smith:
So, I’m going to try to be Josh, because I know we’re probably going to be barking down the same path here. So, I remember way back in the day, trying to make accommodations for a young man who had no use of his hands or his arms and using his cell phone was of utmost importance to him, and it was a very complicated situation that we had to come up with. Smartphones weren’t around, we had flip phones then. But now using the phone without the use of your hands is as simple thing. It’s just through your Smart Home assistant, whether it’s your lady A or your Google, you can simply say, “Lady A call Josh.” And as long as Josh is in your phone book, it’s going to call Josh. And if you’ve got three Joshes, it’s going to say, “Do you want to call Josh Anderson or Josh Norton,” whoever. And if they’re not in your contacts, then it’s a simple thing to get them added to your contacts. And then folks can also call you.

Belva Smith:
Now, the good news about using one of these assistants to get your phone calls is you won’t get any random junk phone calls, because only people who really know you are going to call you, because you too have to be in their list. So, you’re not going to get all those crazy phone calls. You never have to touch the device. It’s just voice command. I’ve also done some very complicated accommodations with voice-activated phone dialing, which again, it can be a nightmare.

Belva Smith:
And while these personal assistants aren’t 100% perfect, with the voice activation, they’re really the best I’ve ever seen. I mean, I’ve seen like my granddaughter, who’s now five, she’s been talking to mine since she was like two, so it’s pretty forgiving when your pronunciation isn’t exactly perfect. So, that’s my recommendation for this individual family or… yeah, they said it’s a family member. You simply get yourself a couple of Dots for under 100 bucks, if you don’t already have them, set up the account, add the people, the important people.

Belva Smith:
Now, another great thing, and Todd and I have done this for his mother and his mother-in-law, they now both have a device in their home so that if they fall, they can just speak, “Hey, call Todd.” And the good news is, if you put it in the center of the house, you pretty much could be in any room of the house and it’s going to hear you. So yeah, that’s what I would recommend. It’s under 100 bucks. You get one, they get one and you’re all set to go.

Josh Anderson:
Man, you are fast, Belva. You jumped in there before I could even get a word in.

Belva Smith:
I knew that’s where you were going to go, Josh.

Josh Anderson:
That was going to be my answer, now I have to find more. So yeah, and really and truthfully cost effectively, that’s probably the best one. I mean, as long as you have WiFi, boom, you’re there. Yeah, those Dots cost next to nothing, and actually, the newer versions I think have better speakers on them, so you’re going to be able to hear it a lot better than those original kind of the hockey puck kind of size ones.

Josh Anderson:
But also, it depends on what they’re using too. If they’re already using an iPhone, enable Hey, Siri, and you can do that. You can say, “Hey, Siri, call Belva.” Oh, good. Mine’s turned off. It almost did it. But you’re going to say that, you going to say, “Hey, Siri, answer the call. Hey, Siri, reject that call.” And do that really easily with just kind of using your voice. So, same kind of concept. Now, an iPhone is much more expensive than an Echo Dot, so that’s really only if you already have one.

Josh Anderson:
Now, if for some reason, you don’t have WiFi but you have a home phone line, they do make home phones that are fully voice activated. And I found one. What’s funny is it does not have a name for it, but it’s at Assistive Technology Services, which is kind of like a MaxiAids kind of place. They sell different stuff. But they actually do have an all-in-one voice dialer phone, where you do not even have to push a button. Much like an Echo or something like that, it’s always listening, and you just have to tell it, “Call,” and you can even just tell it the numbers, it’ll call over a regular phone line, and then talk to you through a speaker, and then you can actually tell it to hang up and everything. But I mean, this phone by itself is between 250 and $319.

Josh Anderson:
So again, if you have internet, it’s probably much cheaper to go the way of the Echo or the Google Home assistant, whatever it’s called now. Or like I said, if you already have an iPhone, you can do Hey, Siri, and I believe on an Android, you can enable voice control and do it as well, but I’m not positive you have to say “Okay, Google,” to get it to do it, or if it’s another kind of setting in that voice control kind of part.

Belva Smith:
I think Bixby. Is it Bixby or assistant in Samsung?

Josh Anderson:
In Samsung. Yeah.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, Bixby can do that for you. And I want to correct myself. I said as long as they’re in your contacts. That’s old school. It used to be that they had to be in your contacts, but they don’t have to be in your contacts. You can simply say, “Hey, A Lady, dial 317-444-444,” and it will. Or you can say, “Hey, call the nearest Walmart,” or “Call the nearest Walgreens.” So, I do stand corrected there. They do not have to be in your contacts. But if you want to say, “Call Josh,” then Josh needs to be in your contacts.

Josh Anderson:
Because there’s a lot of Joshes out there, there’s a lot of us.

Belva Smith:
Yeah.

Brian Norton:
Exactly, exactly. I was going to throw in there too, we’ve been working on a project, and I believe also, in addition to the Echo devices, if you have an Alexa… I’m sorry, an Alexa. Huh, that is the Echo devices. Sorry, I just set off everybody’s Alexa device in their house, and I did it again, so I got to start referring to her as the A Lady. If you have a Fire tablet, this is something that we had heard as well that you can turn that kind of into an Alexa device and do the exact same thing. And Fire tablets aren’t all that expensive. They’re actually relatively inexpensive compared to a lot of devices, and so something to think about there.

Brian Norton:
The other thing I was going to throw out there, so if you’re looking for something that’s maybe not necessarily voice-activated but you still need access all the same, your iPhone, your iPad, those devices can be switch activated as well, and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to pick up your phone, or use your phone using the switch access that’s built-in through the accessibility panel.

Brian Norton:
So, if you go into settings, you can go to accessibility, and you can look up the switch access stuff and turn that on. There’s a variety of different… there’s a scanner version. It’s a step-by-step scanner, which will start with larger regions of whatever’s on your screen and kind of narrow down to whatever specific key or function you want to press. And so, there’s some different settings there that you’ll have to maybe play with. But it’ll provide switch access, so you just need to be able to blink your eye, wiggle your big toe, and there’s different switches that you can use to make that happen. And with the switch settings turned on, you might be able to just do it using a switch, use your phone, answer and hang up the phone using a switch. And so, something to consider there as well.

Brian Norton:
When you think about switch access, there will be some peripheral things we talked about. You actually have to have a switch that you can use, and then there’s some adapters, either an adapter where you can plug the physical switch into the phone directly, or there’s Bluetooth adapters out there as well. And so, there’s some extra components. I know years ago, when I was probably… I don’t know, five years into this job, I worked with an individual, they used to have this phone called an RC-200 phone that you wore kind of a medallion on and you could switch activate using that medallion to be able to do that. But I have looked for that phone and that’s not really all that available, I can’t find it anywhere at this point, so it’s not readily available anymore. But things have come a long, long way, and a lot of these mainstream devices, as we’ve been talking about, there’s some pretty good access and some pretty good ability to be able to use the phone without ever having to touch it, to be quite honest.

Brian Norton:
And Belva, you mentioned voice… I think you were talking about being able to activate the phone, just a regular phone. There is something called Voice dialer, and I think that’s maybe what we’ve used in the past. And again, my success rate with that was a little so-so, and so I would definitely steer you toward the devices that have it built-in that Josh and Belva and others have talked about, because I think if it’s built-in, you’re going to get a little bit more reliability out of it when you’re trying to make that phone call.

Belva Smith:
The last one of those Voice Dialers that I used Brian was, I’m going to say maybe four years ago, for an 80 plus lady that was living in an assisted living. And she ended up giving it back. She didn’t even want it, because after a year of trying to use it and just so much frustration, she just gave it up.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, that was my experience too just a little bit. It was so-so. For some people, it worked okay, for other people… and there was no rhyme or reason to it, it just didn’t work very well. So, a little inconsistent to say the best about it.

Brian Norton:
So, I’d love to just open this up to our listeners. If you guys have any experience using the phone without touching it, let us know how you’ve been able to accomplish that. Love to have you guys chime in. 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, do you have any recommendations for students who struggle with time management? Any good apps out there? Tracy, you were mentioning an app to us earlier about time management.

Tracy Castillo:
Was I? I did, Brian, and it was because of you. And right now, my favorite app is called the Multi Timer, and I found it on the App Store. It was free… I believe it was free. And that’s one of my favorite parts about it, when I was able to just download it to my phone and not have to worry about payment. But it’s also very simple to use. That’s the bonus on it. It already came with some preset timers, and I’ve had like six of them. I just kind of changed the names of them and eventually adjusted the time on them. But I found that they’re pretty amazing at organizing my day.

Tracy Castillo:
Now, I do do these in conjunction with my Alexa reminders. So, I’ll tell Alexa to remind me to do something. For instance, before this recording, at lunch, I was making lasagna, and I had to take the lasagna out in 30 minutes and remove the foil and then cook it for another 30 minutes. So, sitting right there, I told Alexa, “In 30 minutes, remind me to take the foil off the lasagna, and in an hour, remind me to take the lasagna out of the oven.” So, that was pretty neat.

Tracy Castillo:
And then I was doing that during my lunch break, so I turned off my timer for work, and then when I was finished, I just kind of turned my timer back on for work and just go on with it. I also have a timer for 30 minutes, which is really neat. So, if I’ve been working on something that I don’t really want to work on, I can just hit it. The timer is called, You Can Do It.

Tracy Castillo:
So, all these ones I have inside the Multi Timer, and I’ve just adjusted them to my day. Of course, I’ve got my school stuff, I have a timer set for that for how much time I should actually spend on my schoolwork during the week, and I’ll just turn it off and on. I did just make one a moment ago, a timer for exercise, so it’ll be interesting to know if I actually use that little timer. But anyways, it’s been really great. I’ve been able to organize my day. And I’ve noticed something in myself, I don’t feel as rushed because I have something in the background to remind me or to keep me on track on things, and not feeling like I have to remember everything at the same time has kind of made my mind feel a little bit more relaxed. So yeah, I would recommend setting out with that Multi Timer first.

Brian Norton:
That’s great. Hey, when we get a chance, Tracy, let’s talk about that hour-long lunch you have.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah, I know, right? I don’t know. I tacked it on to the end of my day. I did, because during the middle of it, I just stopped my ESC Timer.

Brian Norton:
Just kidding. No, those are great options.

Belva Smith:
So, was it with iOS, Tracy, or is it Android? I mean, is it Windows? What platform can I use it on?

Tracy Castillo:
I’m not sure. I don’t know how to test to know if it’s a Google app, but I can look it up really fast.

Belva Smith:
You got it from the App Store, though, so you’re using it on an iOS device?

Tracy Castillo:
Yes, ma’am.

Brian Norton:
Very cool. I use a couple of different apps. The first is the Flip Clock or the Flip Timer. Those are just kind of… you can pay for them to remove ads. I don’t remove the ads because I don’t really look at them anyways. But when I’m doing presentations or other types of things, I’m certainly looking at that just to make sure that I’m on time and I’m on track. I know when I’m doing PowerPoint, it’s got a timer built into it, which is helpful, and it’s also got the clock right there, but I seem to kind of gravitate toward something that’s a little bit bigger so that it’s always constantly flicking to the side of my monitor just keeping my eye on it as I’m doing presentations and other types of things, those two apps seem to really work well for me. Those are the Flip Timer and Flip Clock.

Brian Norton:
We also got a new device in our lab, which I thought and feel like is a really good application for this. So, a lot of times visual timers are really, really helpful. And we have a new Alexa enabled clock in there that’ll let you set timers, and it’s got little LEDs by every minute along the hour. And so you can set an alarm or set a timer for 30 minutes and it will count down and visually show you, minute by minute, how much time is left within that particular timer, which is always really, really helpful for me. Again, most of the what I’m doing is just counting down time. I’ll set aside a certain amount of time to work on a particular project before I got to move on to the next one, and doing some of those types of things really helps.

Brian Norton:
Another app that I’ve had some luck with, and Josh, this is one that you brought up, I don’t know, probably a couple of years ago, but I still use quite a bit, it’s called the Forest Timer. And that’s a really kind of a neat app, and the fact that… I don’t know. Again, something visual to look at. It’s basically plant a tree, and I think if you leave the app or whatever, you kill the tree. Is that right, Josh?

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, if you leave that app and open up anything else, if you go check your email, or open Facebook or something like that, there’s a little warning, it’ll come up and says, “Go back to your tree or it’ll die,” and you get like two or three seconds. If you don’t go back to the Forest app, your tree just dies and your time is essentially up.

Tracy Castillo:
That’s sad. That’s really sad.

Josh Anderson:
It is, but it’s a great way to… because no one realizes this until they really do it, but yeah, I set aside an hour and I’m just doing this one thing, but then an email came up on my phone, and I got a text message, and I got an alert about something else, and I did that. Really, you did about nine things and you didn’t focus at all on the one thing you were going to focus on for that hour. So, sometimes it’s really helpful to do that. And that’s where I usually fall short, is that I do a great job at starting 25 things, and okay job at finishing 20 of them. So, it is nice that it kind of keeps your phone in that one app so you’re not going to kind of other things. Now, of course, you can still get on your computer and do whatever you want, so it doesn’t always help as much. But it is kind of nice to just keep your mind on one thing and block out some of those different interruptions.

Brian Norton:
There’s another one that I ran across the other day that I think is kind of helpful. Tracy, you kind of were joking about the exercise one that you have. There’s actually a Google extension, so that a lot of times I find myself working within Google Chrome, either on an app or something like that, and so something that I have, it’s an extension called Move It.

Brian Norton:
And basically, throughout your day, it’ll prompt you to stop what you’re doing, get up and do something, and it’s fun, get up in stretch. It’ll actually give you something fun to do for five minutes, and give you suggestions about things you might be able to do in your office space or whatnot. And so it’s just a free Google extension. It’s called Move It. Check that one out, if you’re interested. It’s not good for us just to sit idly in front of our desks like we have been recording this podcast for the past two hours, it’s really important for us to get up and move throughout our day. Our bodies were made to move, and so this extension is called move it, and so check that out. So, definitely something to think about.

Tracy Castillo:
And Josh has just walked off camera again.

Brian Norton:
He just ran away for a minute there.

Tracy Castillo:
He just ran away.

Josh Anderson:
You told me to move it.

Brian Norton:
[crosstalk 00:22:48] move it.

Josh Anderson:
[crosstalk 00:22:48] sit here so I decided to [crosstalk 00:22:51] myself.

Brian Norton:
That’s right. That’s right.

Tracy Castillo:
Actually, I did move it. I had a notification come up that said, “Take your lasagna out of the oven.” So, I went.

Josh Anderson:
And bring some to your co-hosts.

Tracy Castillo:
It smells amazing.

Brian Norton:
We’ll all be in on Thursday and ready to have lunch together.

Tracy Castillo:
Fantastic. It’ll be an hour long.

Brian Norton:
Well, hey, I would love to just open this up to our listeners. If you have any apps that you know of that would be helpful for time management, please 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. Love to hear from you, love to share those apps. Thanks so much.

Brian Norton:
All right. So, our next question is, I need to read barcodes at my job in a grocery store. Do you have any recommendations? And I’m thinking this is something that we have a lot of recommendations for. Belva, I’m kind of looking at you.

Belva Smith:
Well, I have the Digit Eyes, and then Seeing AI. We have to wonder, Seeing AI is a free app for your iPhone. It does only work in iOS, but it does have a barcode scanner in it. I’ve never used the Digit Eyes but I have heard good things about it. I think Josh has used it or has recommended it anyway. And then there’s the… What was it called? I.d Mate, yeah, was the I.d Mate.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, the i.d Mate has been discontinued.

Belva Smith:
Right.

Brian Norton:
Are you serious?

Belva Smith:
Yeah, I know.

Josh Anderson:
It’s going away.

Belva Smith:
That was its sole purpose. I mean, it was actually developed for reading barcodes, and had the ability to do other things as well, but its main purpose was reading barcodes, and also you could create your own barcodes and label them. And I had a situation where I had a blind individual in southern Indiana who worked in a warehouse, and they happened to use barcodes within the warehouse, but because he was blind, he wasn’t able to see them visually like the other folks were. So, we actually used that device and made… Gosh, I don’t even know. It was hundreds of barcodes that he needed to be able to do the packing at his job. And I’m blown away that En-Vision America decided that they didn’t need that device anymore.

Belva Smith:
I was concerned that it was going to go that way when I talked to one of the local vendors about getting one, and he was like, “I don’t even keep those things in stock anymore. Everybody’s using their iPhone, or their tablet.” And I was like, “Yeah, I get that, but there are situations where the tablet or the iPhone are not the perfect solution.” I mean, because you do have to have WiFi to get either one of those devices to work, you do have to have proper lighting to get either one of those to work, and if you’re in a metal building, it’s even more complicated. So, those were the situations where the i.d Mate was perfect, and it worked. It didn’t matter. So, I don’t know what their plans are, and if they think they might… Because they changed it. Gosh, I’m going to say it probably had at least five different versions.

Josh Anderson:
And the newest one just came out a couple years ago.

Belva Smith:
Yeah.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. And it was an expensive device, I’ll give it that, but you really only needed one button. I mean, it had other buttons, it could do more stuff, but really, you had to turn it on and push one button if it went to sleep, and that was all you ever had to do to use it. It was super easy. Most of the stuff was in there. And Belva, you brought up good points about the other ones. If it’s on your phone, you have to be on WiFi. It’s probably not going to have as many…

Josh Anderson:
Not that this is in this person’s question, but something that there’s a huge misunderstanding about that I almost always get with folks is, it’s only going to tell you the item, it’ll never ever tell you the price. And I only say that because I’ve had folks ask me that many, many times. “Hey, this is great. I can read it in the grocery store and know how much stuff costs.” No, you will not know how much stuff costs. Reading the barcode does not tell you that. The only bar code readers that tell you that is the one at the front register, and you’re not going to be able to carry that around with you.

Belva Smith:
And that thing had like 10,000 items already in the database, and you could record more. So, for example, if you needed to know something specific about the product that was maybe in your cabinet, then you could add additional information to that. But it depends on what was included in the barcode, but you could get like the nutritional information, the cooking directions and that kind of stuff, with that. With Seeing AI, you don’t get that. I don’t know… Go ahead.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. With Seeing AI, you get like “Seven ounce box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese,” and that’s about all you’ll get, kind of thing. And I really like, like you said, the barcodes that you could program, because yeah, if you worked in a warehouse, it was great, because nothing’s going to read those because they’re so proprietary, but also, yeah, you could make one and put it on there, and it can be grandma’s recipe for cornbread, and you stick it to a thing at Jiffy Mix, and it really made it super duper easy because yeah, you could do a lot more than just read those barcodes on things.

Belva Smith:
So, for this individual, I would say, hopefully… And I’m sure that there’s an Android… I think is Digit Eyes both Android and iOS?

Josh Anderson:
Google Look.

Belva Smith:
Google Look. That’s it. Yep.

Josh Anderson:
Google Look, yeah, will do it.

Belva Smith:
So, yeah. I would say to this individual, if you’ve got a smartphone in hand, that’s probably going to be your best for right now. But there are lots of different ways that you can do that, or get the barcode information. My concern would be with the job. Oftentimes, having your phone out or tablet out at your job might be a little complicated. But I have used an iPad for reading barcode at a job, so I mean, it can be done.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, certainly working with your employer about the accommodations that you need and being able to explain those well to them, is something that we do here often through our clinical program, working with employers to kind of understand their accommodations and what’s needed to be able to do tasks like this. But yeah, I think both of those… I mean, those were the two that I probably would have steered folks to. I didn’t realize the i.d Mate isn’t being made anymore. That’s sad to hear.

Belva Smith:
Gone.

Brian Norton:
That’s really sad. I feel like almost in the last year, we’re hearing almost every month or every other month, kind of one of these products that we’ve used for years in the disability field is kind of changing… maybe not going away completely, but changing their focus or pricing structure, which makes it more difficult for folks with disabilities to be able to get their hands on, and so that’s sad to hear that the i.d Mate is going away. We’ve got a few of those in our loan library that folks can try out or borrow. We also have lots of iPads and mobile devices, Android, and mobile devices that folks can use.

Brian Norton:
I was wondering, does Envision AI, does that do barcodes as well? Basically, the Google equivalent to Seeing AI?

Josh Anderson:
Brian, actually, I’m not sure, because I know the Envision AI has a cost associated.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, it’s not free.

Josh Anderson:
I think there’s a free version.

Brian Norton:
There’s a subscription fee, yeah.

Josh Anderson:
But Google… and again, it’s Google Look, Google Look Up, Google Lookout, I can never remember the name of it is-

Belva Smith:
I think it’s Google Look.

Brian Norton:
Google Look, yes.

Josh Anderson:
Okay. That’s Google’s version of Seeing AI, and it does do barcodes. And much like Seeing AI, they continuously update it, they’re continuously adding new ones. In a grocery store, you’re probably going to be okay. It’s probably going to get most of the items, unless you get into maybe the… I don’t know, the food aisle that has everything from Britain and stuff like that, you might get some weird stuff that it can’t quite figure out, but it’s probably going to get most of those items. I know, at least some grocery stores, are just giant concrete buildings, so you might not get very good WiFi signal, so it might be a little bit rough for it to really be able to pick up and find things for you.

Belva Smith:
Right. And might I say that, if you’re in the grocery store and you’re using your phone, because you’re going to use Digit Eyes or Seeing AI, there’s probably a better option than reading the barcode. I mean, it might make more sense to read the shelf tag, because there, you are going to know the product, and you are going to hear the price, or to read the packaging to know exactly, is this the cheddar or the cream. So, reading the barcode at the grocery store might not be as important as perhaps their job might be.

Brian Norton:
And with apps like Seeing AI, you’re able to read anything.

Belva Smith:
Absolutely.

Brian Norton:
You might even be able to hold up the product itself and just have it read what’s on the product label.

Belva Smith:
Well, let me back up there, though. You can’t read anything because it’s got to be true print.

Brian Norton:
Okay, that’s true.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, it’s got to be true print. Because I just did a job evaluation where the lady has to stock the product on the meat shelves, and some of that information on the packaging, it looks like print when we look at it, but it’s not true print, so we can’t pick it up using nothing, not even the Seeing AI, not even the OrCam glasses. So, we had to kind of look around that label and find something that would help us identify it. So, for example, the dates that they recommend sell by or whatever, those look like print but they’re not true print. So, I don’t know.

Brian Norton:
Got you. Yeah, no, that’s good.

Josh Anderson:
Because they’re just little dots, aren’t they?

Belva Smith:
Yeah. There’s some kind of like computer language or something, I don’t know.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, no, you’re right. You’re right. Because it’s a little dot.

Brian Norton:
Huh. That’s good. That’s good. That’s a really good point. Thank you for reminding us of that too. Absolutely.

Brian Norton:
Well, hey, I’d love to open this up to our listeners. If you guys have experience reading barcodes at grocery stores or on the job, whatever that job might be, let us know. We’d love to hear from you. You can give us a call on our listener line, that’s 317-721-7124, or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Thanks so much.

Brian Norton:
Does anyone know of any free blind audio described workout apps? Thank you.

Belva Smith:
Tracy is jumping up and down.

Tracy Castillo:
I am jumping up and down. I am jumping up and down for fitness, and I want to start my timer right now. Hey, guys, I did know of one. So, what I did is ran to where we get most of our workout videos at, and they are called on YouTube. So, I went into YouTube and I did a little search for audio described workout videos. First one is a yoga one, and there are several of them. The channels I picked up on first were the NW Association For Blind Athletes. Their latest video was posted four days ago. So, this stuff is pretty new, it’s accurate… pretty new I don’t know if it’s accurate. I didn’t start it. But there’s also another channel called Eyes Free Fitness, and they are audio only 30 minute videos. So, I did find those on YouTube.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. The Eyes Free Fitness, I’ve actually listened to the lady that developed that website on a podcast, and I’ve actually listened to a couple of her lessons, and they’re pretty good. I also found metroblindsport.org. And I think this one may have popped up during the COVID. And I watched a couple of his as well, and they seemed to be pretty good. They were like five to seven minutes, so it’s not a 30-minute work you to death or sweat to death or whatever. But I think Tracy, you brought up a good point there, because I had not ever really had any reason to look for these things, but I simply went to YouTube and did a search for it and found pretty good, reliable-

Tracy Castillo:
There’s about a few of them.

Belva Smith:
… yeah, pretty good reliable information. So, I think like anything else, you’re just going to have to try that. And these were all free. Not all of them are free, though, because I also believe that COVID also made a lot of instructors realize that they can do this stuff from home and make money, so a lot of them, you do have to become a member to watch their videos and stuff.

Tracy Castillo:
Well, this one only has 49 views. They should not be charging for that.

Belva Smith:
And that’s the thing. Like everything else, there are some free ones and there are some that you’re going to pay for. But I would highly encourage you to take a look at the Eyes Free Fitness and the metroblindsport.org. Both, very good.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. I don’t have much to contribute in this area. I wasn’t able to find a whole lot of that. I did not go to YouTube. I probably should have, since both of you guys did. But would love to open this up to our listeners. If you guys have fitness workouts or any kind of fitness type of program that’s for the blind or visually impaired and comes with audio descriptions, let us know. We’d love to be able to share those out to our listeners. You can give us a call on our listener line, that’s 317-721-7124, or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Thank you so much.

Brian Norton:
So, our next question is, I’m working with someone who has both a visual disability and some dexterity disabilities and is looking for advice on how well Dragon will work with ZoomText, either just the reader or fusion, or even possibly NVDA. They’re basically hoping to avoid using J-Say. Any and all feedback is deeply appreciated.

Brian Norton:
And I guess when they talk about visual and dexterity, it’s really a physical need, so they’re having maybe difficulty getting access to the keyboard or the mouse. And so we’ve used J-Say a lot in the past, or maybe not even all that much, because it’s a very specific case that would require something like that to be needed, but it’s been a while on that. And I know there’s some different tools out there for folks to be able to kind of get those things to work well. But again, feedback on how well they actually work is kind of what they’re looking at.

Belva Smith:
So, I’ve never seen ZoomText and Dragon work together. Okay? There may be some instances where people have figured out a way to get it to somewhat work together, but it has always been my experience that the two programs do not work together. And if you do a Google search on using the two together, the most current information you’re going to find is from like 2010. I think it’s because everybody figured out, “Hey, these two don’t work together so let’s just stop trying.” And it’s unfortunate, it truly is unfortunate. But if you think about what each program’s responsibility is, it makes sense as to why they can’t work together.

Belva Smith:
J-Say is very complicated to learn, but once you learn it, it does work pretty good. We have we a consumer that I would say is probably no more than two years into having hers updated and she’s been using it for about five years, six years, golly, I’m going to say at least seven or eight years. So, when she first started using it, it wasn’t so good, but she has no other options, so she stuck with it and grown with it. And as she’s grown, and it’s grown and improved, now they get along pretty well and it works out pretty good.

Belva Smith:
Are there other options besides J-Say, well, possibly. And Josh is shaking his head… and possibly. And hopefully for your situation, there are other options. But I guess I would want to know what is it exactly that you’re trying to do, because even with J-Say, you’re very limited to what you can do. You can’t just go out there and do anything you want to do with J-Say. You can do things like a simple word document, or an email, or some very simple web surfing, and that’s pretty much it. So, what is it that the individual is trying to do and what foundation are they trying to do it with? Is it windows or is it Mac? Because once I know that information, then we can start looking at how we might be able to approach without using Dragon or maybe even without using ZoomText. I don’t know. But that’s where I would start. I’m going to let Josh jump in and share what he’s saying some of the other options might be.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah, I’m interested in those other options too for our lending library.

Josh Anderson:
So yeah, there’s a couple of options that you could definitely use. So one, depending on how much you’re really looking to do, ZoomText has a voice assistant built into it now, so does JAWS. Now, it’s not going to control your entire computer, but it will do those key commands that you need to do for JAWS and ZoomText, you can do those via voice now. So, that part’s kind of built-in.

Josh Anderson:
As far as mixing a voice… not a voice assistant, but a voice programs such as Dragon width ZoomText, Belva, I’m with you. I don’t think there’s anything that can actually do that. With Fusion, maybe, but only if you’re just using the JAWS part. If you’re just using the JAWS part, I guess you could use J-Say, or there’s another one called Dictation Bridge. Now, I know Jim that’s on our team has used Dictation Bridge with some success. Again, it’s a little bit wonky. You’re gonna have some kind of weird things. But the thing about Dictation Bridge is it works with either Dragon or Windows Speech Recognition, and it works with either JAWS or NVDA, and it’s free. So, if you’re really looking to see if it’ll work, use Windows Speech Recognition, Dictation Bridge, and NVDA, and if it doesn’t work, you’re not out of any money because it cost you $0 to do it.

Belva Smith:
But that’s also just like using J-Say.

Josh Anderson:
Exactly.

Belva Smith:
The Dictation Bridge id replacing the J-Say.

Josh Anderson:
Yes, it is.

Belva Smith:
So, it’s the same kind of thing. It’s not Dragon and ZoomText working side by side like we would like for them to.

Josh Anderson:
No, yeah, you’re still going to have that work in between, you’re still going to have that kind of work around. But at the same time, you’re saving… if you look at the price of JAWS, plus Dragon, plus J-Say, that’s what? $3,000, 2,500 bucks at least?

Brian Norton:
Pretty close.

Belva Smith:
Yeah.

Josh Anderson:
So, you’re looking at free, free, and free. So I mean, give it a shot, see if it works. It’s going to be tricky, it’s going to be very tricky. And I can tell you what I’ve seen more people have success with is using voiceover and Siri. If you’re really and truly have to and you cannot get any of these things to work, use voiceover and Siri on an iPad, and you can get most of what you need done.

Belva Smith:
Also, you might be able to use Cortana, and the Zoom that’s built-in into Windows now. Because Cortana can open and close and do some Window control. So, it might be that that is an option that will work together.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah.

Brian Norton:
And really, even on the Mac, it’s that voice dictation piece. So, even beyond just the Siri component, it’s that voice dictation, which gives you complete access to the computer, to your Mac.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. And I haven’t tried to use that with voiceover much. Now, the voice control on the computer is great. I can do almost everything, but personally, I’m doing a lot of it visually. I’m looking around and going, “Oh, click that, and click this, and do that, and do that.” So, if I couldn’t see the screen, I feel like there’d be a lot of challenges on that. But I haven’t tried it with voiceover. It could very well be that I can say, “Scan, tab,” stuff like that, get to it and say, “Double click,” or things. I haven’t really had a chance to play with that much. Brian, you should do that this evening.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, I’m going to hop on and give that a try, give it a whirl and see where we end up. It’s, yeah, definitely something would be intre- I mean, like you said, it’s $3,000 to buy Dragon Professional, JAWS Professional, and J-Say to make all that stuff work.

Belva Smith:
But I get the feeling that this individual isn’t necessarily looking for the screen reader piece. They want to be able to use whatever vision they’ve got, which is why they’re asking about the ZoomText.

Brian Norton:
Right, ZoomText.

Belva Smith:
And I’ll just tell you, the problem that I have experienced time and time and time again when I have been connected with someone who was recommended, “Oh, you need ZoomText and you need JAWS,” or “I’m sorry, you need ZoomText and you need Dragon,” and then they walk away because guess what, that doesn’t work. So, then it becomes our job to try to figure out how to get them to work. And the problem is, as you’re dictating for the computer to do this or to do that, with the Zoom level up, the computer doesn’t move, the screen doesn’t move with that voice dictation, and because of that, you don’t see what’s on the screen, so you really have no clue where you are on the screen. And that’s very, very frustrating, especially if you’re trying to do text editing.

Belva Smith:
The last individual that I was working with, that was our biggest goal, was text editing, and it was impossible, and it was heartbreaking, because you’re sitting there wanting them to be able to do what they want to do, and they’re not trying to create rockets or anything, they just want to edit some text. But it can be done easier with some of these other things that are already there in the device, so I would take that as my first approach.

Josh Anderson:
And Belva, you brought up some good points there. Because yeah, the new Windows magnifier is much better. Is it as smooth as ZoomText? Not completely. But the fact that I can make the cursors and the mouse pointers bigger, the fact that I can hover over stuff and have it read to me, those are just amazing features they’re putting in there. And then it depends on, I guess, what you need Dragon to do, because a lot of people say they need dragon, and really, they’re just looking for dictation. Well, I mean, if you’re using Word, it’s got a pretty good dictation built into it now. Windows speech recognition isn’t Dragon, but it can do some of those things.

Josh Anderson:
And then when I think about the dexterity kind of issues, is there something else that can help with that part? And would that be even a different kind of mouse, a different kind of input method or something? Because there’s been a lot of times where we’ve had to do stuff, maybe where the person does have to magnify the screen a little bit, and like you said, Dragon’s not going to move around it, so you may not even see what you’re trying to talk about, or the screen can’t, or they just don’t work well. So, if you could use a different input method maybe to overcome the pointing and clicking part or something like that, a joystick, a switch, something else, is it going to take a third component to really get them to where they need to be? And that’s where probably going and maybe borrowing equipment from a tech guy might be the best way to try out some of that different stuff.

Belva Smith:
And if it’s just opening and closing programs, then there’s a good possibility that Siri and Cortana can do that for you.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah.

Brian Norton:
Absolutely. Well, hey, let me open this up to our listeners. This is just a great opportunity for our listeners to contribute to this question. If you guys have had experience with that and you’ve gotten something to work well or have had issues like the ones that we’ve been talking about here, chime in. We’d love to be able to share that with our listener and be able to provide a well-rounded answer to their question. Give us a call on our listener line, that’s 317-721-7124, or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Would love to hear from you. Thanks.

Intro:
And now it’s time for the wildcard question.

Brian Norton:
Right. So, our next question is the wildcard question, and this is a question that Belva has had time to come up with, however, we haven’t had any time to prepare for, and so Belva, what do you got for us today?

Belva Smith:
Real simple. What’s something that we’ve learned from COVID, whether it’s personally, professionally, something that we just didn’t realize that…? There we go. Tracy’s on it.

Tracy Castillo:
Oh, yeah. Personally, you have to cover your mouth and nose with your mask. I just had to say it. [crosstalk 00:48:59] told me so many times. I had to say that. No. COVID has reminded me to go with the flow and just be flexible. A lot of people are dealing with things a lot different ways than they are used to doing them, and as we know, when we try to do something new, it can be rough, and everybody has their own types of stressors and things and how they respond to that stress. So, COVID has taught me to be more patient with people, to be more understanding. And it’s okay to giggle and laugh, because maybe that’ll give you a second to put things back in the right order. See how I did that? I’m giggling and laughing and putting things back in the right order. But yes, that, and also, if you don’t want to get bugged at the supermarket and at the doctor’s office, cover your mouth and nose when you have your… Yeah, use your mask to cover your mouth and nose. There you go. However it is.

Brian Norton:
That’s great.

Josh Anderson:
So, after that answer, Belva, I don’t even remember what your question was.

Tracy Castillo:
It was how wonderful do you think Tracy is? That was the question. That was a great answer, Tracy.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, I was going to say two things, I’ve learned two things. The first is, there are a lot of things we take for granted, things I wouldn’t have even thought of, being able to have conversations where you can actually see people’s facial expressions. Wearing masks takes a lot of that interpersonal communication away from folks, and just knowing how vital it is for folks who are deaf and hard of hearing, and just even for myself. I’m not deaf or hard of hearing, but man, it’s really hard to fully engage in conversation when you can’t see facial expressions. I use those a lot to be able to tell what my audience is thinking, if they think I’m boring and long-winded or if I’m on track, and they’re listening, and they’re interested, what do I need to talk about? And so, I think there’s just a lot of things we take for granted day in and day out.

Brian Norton:
And then I think the second thing I’ve learned is, it’s not just about me, there’s a lot of people with a lot of needs, and I can never just assume, or should never assume that it’s just always about what I want, and what I need, and those types of things. And so, those are just a couple of the things I’ve learned over the last year.

Josh Anderson:
I guess, I mean, I can think of a whole heck of a lot of things. As I said when this thing whole started, our child was… Oh, I don’t remember. What was he a year ago? A little over a year old.

Belva Smith:
A little over a year old.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, so we’ve been on social lockdown for what? A little over a year already anyway, so it didn’t feel that different. It was just it was at the point where we could finally start taking her places and doing stuff when all this happened. I mean, I learned a few things with masks, I learned don’t go eat tacos and then burp into a mask. It’s not a good thing. Maybe that’s not the most useful knowledge. I also learned that I miss presenting in front of people, which is not something I ever thought I would say a year ago, but having to be on Zoom and present, much like Brian said, I can’t tell, especially when all their camera are off, if they’re sleeping, if they’re surfing the internet-

Tracy Castillo:
Or if they’re in the room.

Josh Anderson:
If they’re even in the room. And really, it gets to the point where I’m sitting in a room talking to myself, is what it really feels like. And I’ve had folks during those presentations say, “Could you repeat what you just said?” And “No, I have absolutely no idea what I just said. I’m just in a room talking to myself right now.” So, that really makes it hard. I also miss seeing you guys, not going to lie. Seeing people in person, seeing people in the studio. Brian, you’re right. It’s very hard to tell… Jokes really get taken poorly when you’re wearing a mask and no one can see that you’re actually smiling and they think you’re serious. Plus, people got a little uptight during COVID, and I get it to a point, but at the same time, people… I think Tracy you said, being able to treat people with grace and stuff like that, and I think not everyone jumped on that bandwagon quite so quick.

Tracy Castillo:
No. That’s [crosstalk 00:53:10] the ones that did have to give a little bit extra grace.

Josh Anderson:
That’s true. That’s very true. But, Belva, I don’t know about all the things that I can possibly think I learned during this. But yeah, definitely you miss things maybe you didn’t think you were going to and those things that you knew you would miss seem even… I don’t know, even further away. So, what about you?

Belva Smith:
So, I went down a different path a little, I think.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, and concerts. I really, really, really, really miss freaking concerts. Sorry. I forget that one because I forget what they are. It’s been so long.

Belva Smith:
I think before COVID, I was a person who did most of my financial transactions using debit card, credit card, auto deposit, auto pay, all that kind of stuff, and I think after COVID, I’ve used even less cash. Cash just is something that I don’t ever have in my hand, don’t really want it in my hand, because if you think about it, cash is nasty.

Tracy Castillo:
You can give it to me.

Belva Smith:
Yeah?

Josh Anderson:
I’m fine with it.

Belva Smith:
I also think that the internet should be a utility.

Tracy Castillo:
Oh, yes.

Belva Smith:
We should all have access to the internet just like we all have access to water, because I feel, with the kids who maybe did… well, not maybe, but for the kids who didn’t get to go to school, that’s one thing, but for the kids who had absolutely no technology and absolutely no internet, and believe me, our city was full of them.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah, our whole… Yeah, I remember-

Belva Smith:
I shouldn’t even say city. You’re right, Tracy, I shouldn’t even say city. It’s the rural folks just as much. But yes, there were plenty of our kids, as if they weren’t having a bad enough experience, they just did not have the right tools. So, I don’t know how we go about it, but I do think that technology should, at some part, be available to everyone, and the internet needs to be a utility someway, somehow.

Belva Smith:
So, for me, I think that’s the two things that I learned, is that I take for granted some of the things that I use on a daily basis and I almost forget that there are folks, maybe in my neighborhood even, that don’t have those same things. I just assume because I have high speed internet, everyone around me does, when they don’t. And I mean, yeah, Josh, I’m like you, I could write a book. We could all write a book about all the things that we miss and the blues that the lockdown brought to us all, but I think it’s interesting, and I wonder too, does that have something to do with the i.d Mate being gone right now? Was that final decision made based upon the fact that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, nobody’s buying this, we weren’t selling it before, it’s gone? Because it happened.

Josh Anderson:
Well, it could have been like… I guess it’s back now, but what the Jordy originally went away because there was one component that they couldn’t get, right?

Belva Smith:
Right. And the Jordy’s back, but the Jordy’s never been the same. They brought it back but they shouldn’t even call it the Jordy because it’s not the same.

Josh Anderson:
Yep. Bt I know I saw on the news that they’re going to run out of Ford trucks because there’s a chip that goes into the computer system of it that they can’t get because of the pandemic, so they are just going to stop making them for a while. So, I mean, it could be that way.

Tracy Castillo:
And I’m going to mention one thing, things I am going to miss and you guys probably haven’t noticed. We work near Broad Ripple in Indiana, and a lot of the businesses that we used to go to eat are gone. The lady that knew what spice to put in my pad thai, her restaurant is closed and it’s there.

Brian Norton:
You mean the McDonald’s is gone too?

Tracy Castillo:
No, McDonald’s is okay. I’m talking about JS Garden. But yeah.

Josh Anderson:
I know. JS Garden is gone. I went there for lunch the other day and it wasn’t there.

Tracy Castillo:
It’s gone. I’m like, “Where’s Tina? Where’s Tina?” That’s her name.

Belva Smith:
I heard 110 restaurants from downtown are gone. That’s a large amount of businesses.

Brian Norton:
Sure.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. Actually, downtown’s gone, Belva. If you’ve been to downtown Indianapolis, it’s not-

Tracy Castillo:
Downtown is pretty scary now and it’s gone.

Belva Smith:
Yeah.

Brian Norton:
Well, hey, I’d just like to open this up to our listeners. If you have any feedback to this question, I’d love to hear from you. You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124, or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Definitely, if you’ve learned, had any life lessons, things that you’ve learned over this time this past year, as we’ve been dealing with COVID, we’d love to hear from you.

Brian Norton:
I want to also just make sure that it gives the folks here on the call just an opportunity to say goodbye. First is Belva. Belva, do you want to say goodbye to folks?

Belva Smith:
Yeah. Thanks, everybody, for listening, and send us some feedback. We had absolutely no feedback this show, so give us some for the next show.

Brian Norton:
And then also, Tracy. Tracy, you want to say goodbye to folks?

Tracy Castillo:
I’m stuck with what Belva said. We didn’t have any feedback. Send us some feedback, people, we want to hear from you. Bye.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. And then Josh.

Josh Anderson:
Hey, thanks for coming, everybody. We’ll see you next time.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Excellent. Yeah. And don’t forget, if you have questions, we’d love to hear from you, if you have feedback, we’d love to hear from you. Again, that listener line is 317-721-7124, or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Take care. Have a great week, and we’ll be back with you soon. Take care.

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

Brian Norton:
Thank you Josh, Belva, Craig.

Belva Smith:
Craig?

Tracy Castillo:
Lord of mercy.

Josh Anderson:
Craig, I don’t know what to do with your hair.

Brian Norton:
I’m trying to co-ordinate.

Belva Smith:
[crosstalk 00:59:13] Brian can do it.

Josh Anderson:
Tracy’s really pissed, Brian?

Brian Norton:
I know. It’s just like you when I call you Justin all the time.

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

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