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ATU525 – RoutineFactory with Ger Apeldoorn and Pat Opat

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Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

Special Guests:
Pat Opat – US Account Manager
Ger Apeldoorn – Founder
 
iOS 15 Story: https://apple.co/3gkaSqM
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——– Transcript Starts Here ———
Ger Apeldoorn:
Hi, this is Ger, I’m the founder of RoutineFactory.

Pat Opat:
Hi, my name is Pat and I am the US account manager for RoutineFactory, and this is your Assistive Technology Update.

Josh Anderson:
Hello, and welcome to your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist individuals with disabilities and special needs. I’m your host, Josh Anderson with The INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis Indiana. Welcome to episode 525 of Assistive Technology Update, it’s scheduled to be released on June 18th, 2021. On today’s show, we’re very excited to have Pat and Ger on from RoutineFactory. And they’re going to tell us all about the technology and how it can help individuals keep a good routine. We also have a story about some changes coming to iOS 15, some accessibility based and some not, and how they might be able to help folks with and without disabilities. Please, don’t forget if you ever do want to reach out to us, there’s some different ways to do it.

Josh Anderson:
First of all, you can send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org, call our listener line at (317) 721-7124, hit us up on Twitter @INDATAproject, Or you can always leave a comment on the website or wherever you might get your podcasts. Don’t forget that most podcast streaming apps also allow for ratings, so if you could give us a rating on there that always helps us know exactly how we’re doing, but you can also reach out to us with questions, comments, or if he knows someone that would make a really great guest on the show, please drop us a line, we’re always looking for great guests.

Josh Anderson:
And while we do our best to keep our finger on the pulse of Assistive Technology, as you all know, there’s just so much out there, it’s very hard to keep up on everything and your input is completely invaluable. So if perhaps you’ve seen a presentation or there’s a piece of technology that you use every day, that’s very helpful, please reach out, let us know about it, and we’ll work to get someone from there on the show. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to give us a listen. And now let’s go ahead and get on with the show.

Josh Anderson:
If you’re looking for more information on assistive technology, besides just the podcasting part, please check out our website at www.eastersealstech.com, there you can find links to this show and others, as well as weekly tech tips, blog posts, and a bunch of other valuable information about assistive technology hosted by the INDATA Project, you can also search for your local ATech to find loan libraries and other services available. So don’t forget to check out our website at www.eastersealstech.com.

Josh Anderson:
After all these months of lockdown, maybe you’re looking for some new podcast to listen to. Well make sure to check out our sister podcast, Accessibility Minute, and ATFAQ, or Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions. If you’re super busy and don’t have time to listen to a full pop podcast, be sure to check out Accessibility Minute, our one minute long podcast that gives you just a little taste of something assistive technology based, so that you’re able to get your assistive technology fix without taking up the whole day hosted by Tracy Castillo. This show comes out weekly.

Josh Anderson:
Our other show is Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions or ATFAQ, or Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions. Brian Norton leads our panel of experts, including myself, Belva Smith, and our own Tracy Castillo. As we try to answer your assistive technology questions. This show does rely on you so we’re always looking for new questions, comments, or even your answers on assistive technology questions. So remember if you’re looking for more assistive technology podcast to check out, you can check out our sister shows, Accessibility Minute and ATFAQ, wherever you get your podcasts, now including Spotify and Amazon Music.

Josh Anderson:
[inaudible 00:04:16], I thought we start off this week show by looking at some of the new things coming to iOS 15 and how it may be able to help individuals with disabilities and maybe really all of us in some way, shape or form.

Josh Anderson:
As we all know, iOS 15 was announced here lately by apple and will be coming out sometime this fall. But I thought maybe we just touch on some of the things that were announced, now in this, we will only touch on the accessibility features as we’ll dig into that a little bit deeper as time goes on, but I just want to talk about some of the new features being added IOS 15. The first thing they’re doing is they’re making some changes to FaceTime. So FaceTime will now allow for spatial sound so that folks will sound like they’re coming from wherever they’re actually located on your screen. Portrait mode will allow for callers to blur their backgrounds and have the focus on them. And you’ll also be able to use, SharePlay to listen to music and watch programs together over FaceTime, even if you’re thousands of miles away from each other. I’m really excited about something called Focus tool.

Josh Anderson:
So Focus is a new feature that’ll allow you to filter your notifications and apps based on what you want to focus on. You can say your iPhone to create custom focus, which we use built in AI to suggest which people in apps can notify you at a certain time or place. When you set it on one device, it will translate onto all your devices that you have logged into. You can even have your home screen changed to relevant apps for better focus. When it blocks incoming notifications, it will automatically display this to others in messages so that they will know that you will not see their notification at this time. They’re making lots of updates to Apple Maps, including increasing availability to get walking directions using augmented reality.

Josh Anderson:
It’ll also give you prompts of when to disembark when you’re using public transportation, which can be really beneficial to individuals with low vision or who happened to be blind, or really anyone who gets distracted and forgets to get off their stop, which I’m not going to lie, I have done more than once. New updates to Live Text, which we’ll use on-device intelligence to recognize text and handwriting in a photo and allow the user to take different actions related to the text. And this can end up being really cool and really help folks, especially maybe voiceover users or individuals with print disabilities.

Josh Anderson:
As we talked a little bit about the accessibility features, it looks like they’re going to add some features to voiceover for better explanation of the world around you, have new background sounds to help minimize distractions. Switch controls will add sound actions to recognize mouth sounds, tech size and display can be customized on an app by app basis. And you can actually import an audiogram and then it will interpret that information to customize headphone accommodations. So I promise we’ll have a more on these new accessibility features as they become available. And as we get a little bit closer to iOS 15, actually coming out.

Josh Anderson:
I barely touched on these, but I just wanted to make sure we get them out there. Some things to get excited about that might be coming out here from Apple in the future. I will put a link over in the show notes to Apple’s website that we’ll get into a little bit more in depth into all of these features. So be sure to check that out in the show notes, and I promise we’ll have more about this in coming shows.

Josh Anderson:
So most of us thrive on routine. It may become a little mundane and boring from time to time, but it’s helpful to know what we’re supposed to be doing at any given time on a given day. Well, for some individuals with autism and other needs routine can be the difference between a good day and a really terrible one. Our guests today are from RoutineFactory, and they’re here to tell us about their technology and how it can assist individuals with keeping and maintaining their routines. At Ger, welcome to the show.

Pat Opat:
Thanks for having us.

Ger Apeldoorn:
Thank you.

Josh Anderson:
Guys, I’m really excited to talk about this, because I know it’s a huge need, but before we do that, could you tell our listeners a little bit about yourselves?

Pat Opat:
Yeah. So I’m going to let Ger go first.

Ger Apeldoorn:
Okay. Yeah. Well, my name is Ger Apeldoorn which is pretty impossible to pronounce in English. I’m based in the Netherlands and that’s where everything got started.

Pat Opat:
And so my name is Pat, I’m from Kansas. I was looking for a assistive technology for my brother-in-law, who I work for. He has autism and I’ve worked for him for almost five years now, as I’m either going to build a tool myself or I was going to find one and that’s where I met Ger.

Josh Anderson:
Well, that’s perfect. Did you guys met each other and were able to continue getting this going. So Ger, let’s start with you. Could you tell us why you created RoutineFactory?

Ger Apeldoorn:
Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve got three kids with autism and I needed a tool to help them with structure and predictability. At that time that wasn’t around, so I studied IT with my co-founder and we thought, well, a lot of families probably have the same issue, so we decided to build something and that was called AutiPlan and it was a hobby project. But after a while, a lot of care organizations from the Netherlands started to contact us that they needed something like that, but not just for people with autism, but also for people with other learning disabilities and traumatic brain injuries, et cetera.

Ger Apeldoorn:
So that’s when we got started with a RoutineFactory and we always envisioned that we wanted to help people with self-reliance outside of the Netherlands as well. So we build it in English with a Dutch translation on top. We wanted to make RoutineFactory a tool that’s exceptionally close to what people need in their daily lives and work. And so we continuously ask our customers how RoutineFactory can be improved and closer to what they need because, me and my co-founder, we studied IT, and not care, so that’s why that was a very important and the nice thing is that today 95% of RoutineFactory actually came forth out of these suggestions. So it’s really close to what people need in their daily lives.

Josh Anderson:
Then here, I think that’s a great thing because so many times folks, especially whenever they create something new, come in as they’re the expert and they’re the smart one and they’re making this, but really taking all that feedback and making it, actually, you can make a usable tool for folks as opposed to like I said, thinking, “well, I know how to do this and I’m going to do it my way”, so that’s great. Well guys, tell me about RoutineFactory. What is it?

Ger Apeldoorn:
Yeah. Perhaps I can continue a little bit with the story and then I can smoothly, give it over to Pat. Would that be helpful?

Josh Anderson:
That sounds great.

Ger Apeldoorn:
Yeah. So we started with an app for individual guidance that helps with self-reliance or predictability. And we got a lot of positive feedback from people that were using it. As I mentioned, we continuously ask for feedback and one of the feedback was, “well, we need something, not for the individual, but for the entire group”. And when we edit the information boards, which are mostly used in assisted living facilities and assisted workplaces, then we knew that we really had something that was a game changer for these organizations. So remember all of this is taking place in the Netherlands, but at one day we got an email from a guy from Kansas that found RoutineFactory through Google and because he was using it for his brother-in-law and he was really excited about it. So we got to talk and one thing led to another and that’s a makeshift that Pat now has the challenge to make RoutineFactory known throughout the US.

Pat Opat:
Which is easy. It’s been easy.

Ger Apeldoorn:
It’s totally easy.

Pat Opat:
No, but so to expand on that, Josh, so RoutineFactory is broken down into two parts. So we have an app that is used by the individual. So this is a… Think of it as a daily living prompting tool, a bunch of the tools packed into an app to support the individual. And then we have, and then everything is managed remotely in an online environment. So generally by a house manager, residential manager, someone like that, that just wants to keep an eye on things. But since our tools are really built around independence and self-reliance, it’s really just a way to keep an eye on things from afar and create customized checklist step-by-step guides and those types of things that they’re already using, but just really in a digital, more personal format. And then the information board is a visual schedule that is digital and fully interactive. So everyone uses visual supports to some degree as to this just really brings it into 2021 by making it digital and more interactive.

Ger Apeldoorn:
I think with the infoboard is that basically create a custom setup for every location that starts using it. And so that it’s very fine tuned on what these edit, the residents and the staff actually needs for their interactive screen.

Josh Anderson:
Can you tell me a little bit more about the infoboard?

Pat Opat:
Yeah, sure. So the information boards, so what it is, it’s actually a website, so it comes to RoutineFactory.com, so it works on any device that could power a website. Generally it’s used on a touch screen monitor that has speakers since that’s a text to speech enabled, but generally mountain on tool wall and a main living area or main space in sight of wherever it may be inside of the organization or the person’s home. So really what it is, is the visual schedule for that person, but all created and customized to what they need and what they need to either know, so whether that be, what chores they’re doing that day, who’s working, who’s going to be working later, what the weather’s like outside, those types of things that we commonly have access to and we take for granted that they may not have access to.

Pat Opat:
And being able to see specifically who is working, what are they going to be doing? What’s going to be going on next, next activities. Those really important questions can all be answered independently instead of having to rely on a staff or someone else to answer that question for them. So we also hear from the organizations that support individuals who are unable to read or have a visual impairment that the text to speech feature really is a game changer. So being able to, for them to approach the information board tampon and have that read out loud to them as a great way to support those individuals with special needs as well.

Josh Anderson:
What other kinds of settings can RoutineFactory help in?

Pat Opat:
So primarily, residential, so group homes community living as well as day services and assisted workplaces. So anywhere really where there’s a group of individuals with disabilities. So even talking to a few camps, but really our main target, really our main target and best match has been in those group home, group settings, just because, there’s already a meal schedule on the wall in one corner and there’s already a chore list on a wall in another corner. And instead, just putting that all in one place.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent and when reading about this, I saw something about a reward system. What’s that?

Pat Opat:
Yeah. So the reward system is built into the app, so essentially you can create customized rewards that, so if that person completes a… Let’s say they take out the trash successfully and that you can associate at a amount of rewards with that task. And once that is complete, that then gets tracked into their own personal profile in the online environment so then they can quote unquote, spend those rewards within the app. So, if that’s going out on an outing or if that’s getting alone time or whatever it may be, that can all be set up inside of the app. So goes back to that custom ability, and whatever’s best for that individual and to keep them motivated, to becoming more independent.

Ger Apeldoorn:
While we’re on the app. Another thing that’s really, can be really helpful is the assistance. When you can have step-by-step guides in the app as well about with the assistance, you can provide these step by step guide whenever they’re needed. So for instance, you can put a QR code on the washing machine and the clients can easily scan that code and can step by step guides to do that laundry, thus enabling them to do a lot more for themselves, which helps them with their confidence levels and helps them with creating their own schedule, basically because you don’t have to wait until a caregiver is available for you. So that’s also a really helpful aspect there.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, definitely. And on those step-by-step guides, are they all just print or can they be video? Can you make that different depending on the individual’s needs and abilities?

Ger Apeldoorn:
Yeah, absolutely. Yep.

Pat Opat:
So that’s the fun part about, Ger and Wouter being the IT guys as they’ve… You can really, one, it’s very user-friendly and I know I’m the one saying that, but that’s something we hear as being user-friendly, but as well as you can even put links to YouTube videos inside of the app, and those could be prompted for them as well. So we have a behavior list and other professions that like video and notice that their clients and the persons they support like video too. So they’ll just create a YouTube video and unlisted on YouTube and then they can put that into the app. So they actually can even get that really more visual hand holding approach, but still just, they’re on their phone or on their device, so where that person doesn’t have to actually be there helping them through it either.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, that’s excellent. And while we’re talking about the app besides the step-by-step, the QR codes, what other kinds of information is available to the user on there?

Pat Opat:
Well, there’s, timers, reminders, interest instructions since this can also be used in the workplace as well. So really I try to say your creativity is the limit because there is so much functionality in there, a ton of different tools built into it that I could just fit a specific use case. So being able to really just… The functionality is really all around what that person would need to complete a task completely on their own. So if that is just for men, remembering that they need to do this or that they’re going to be ready to do this, or if they’re going to be packing their bag before they leave or making dinner, those checklists and all that can really come into play.

Ger Apeldoorn:
Yeah. In addition to that, we also have emotional thermometers as we call it. So people can inform the staff about their mood and you can do that regularly so that you have that in a weekly overview as a staff member. And so there are many other options. You should really look at RoutineFactory as a toolbox, and nobody uses every feature that you really gets the different things that is a great fit for your client or for your group. But you wouldn’t use everything. So it’s also hard to describe everything…

Josh Anderson:
Oh sure, sure.

Ger Apeldoorn:
Because it’s just too much.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, definitely. But I like the way you can use as much, or as little as you need so many times in assistive technology, we try to use your words, throw the whole toolbox at folks and it ends up being overwhelming and maybe more of a barrier than an actual assistive device. So I like that that can be completely adjusted. You also said something back there that I wanted to touch on. I liked that you said it’s very user-friendly and easy to use just because so many times the caregiver or the staff or those folks might not be very tech savvy. So it’s important to have something that they can actually use easily in order to be able to help their folks.

Pat Opat:
Yeah.

Ger Apeldoorn:
Yeah. Lots of clients as well, that’s [inaudible 00:20:13] update their own schedule, et cetera. So we want to keep it at that level.

Pat Opat:
Yeah. That’s exactly what I was going to say too, was we even have those clients or those persons served, they get to even build their own schedule and get access to their own online environment. So, once they get to a point where they are more independent than they get to really have a hands-on with creating their own, be it, their own grocery lists or if it’s or whatever it may be.

Josh Anderson:
That’s good. So they become more independent in using the tool that helps them become more independent. So that’s great. That’s great.

Ger Apeldoorn:
Absolutely.

Josh Anderson:
Well guys, tell me a story about someone that’s been assisted by RoutineFactory.

Pat Opat:
Ooh, that’s a good one. I have one but Ger, I really… You have a lot of the hands-on like [inaudible 00:20:59] in the group home over there. So I’m going to kick that one to you.

Ger Apeldoorn:
Okay, cool. Yeah. So we have quite a lot of stories. Actually. One of our customers also did extensive research on them, which can be found on our website. That’s things you hear over and over again on the side of the app is that people got a lot more self-reliance and self-confidence because they don’t have to be told what to do all the time. And it can also reduce a lot of friction between the client and the caregiver. And because if you are living somewhere and all day long, everybody is telling you what to do, and that can give some friction there. And yeah, it’s really good in removing that because they already know what to do and how to do it because the step by step guides. On the infoboard, we hear a lot of stories of edits clients find it’s a lot of fun to use because it’s interactive, it’s touch screen so that they can look at who, which staff, which will be available, [inaudible 00:22:14], what’s for dinner, things like that.

Ger Apeldoorn:
And also that’s currently, already being done on a whiteboard in written form, but that might not be accessible for everyone, for instance. And now we have a lot of group homes that have information on paper, on the wall and that’s changes regularly. And then the people that cannot read for them, it’s not accessible and they have to continuously ask staff members to read it out loud for them. With the infoboard, they can just walk up to it and touch on the texts and it will read it out loud. So edit can be really helpful in providing them with the right information.

Ger Apeldoorn:
Last week, I heard a story about someone, it was sunny outside, but it was really cold. And so this client saw it was sunny and she went out in the t-shirt, but it was freezing. And one thing that we have is weather updates, but it also has clothing advice so that when they cannot make that judgment right, they can see on the infoboard that they needs a warm coat and a need to bring an umbrella, for instance, stuff like that. Yeah. Do you want me to continue? Because I can go on for the entire day probably.

Josh Anderson:
Well, we don’t have all day, but yes. But yeah, we definitely still have some time so if you want to go on for a minute. And Pat, I think you said you had a story too, so we can even try to work those both in there if you want.

Ger Apeldoorn:
So, it’s also used to add to make the client relax a little bit, take a little break. So there are a couple of games on that, but you can also use a YouTube channel as showed that there are videos of some music or informational videos about the location, things like that. And that can be really helpful as well.

Pat Opat:
Yeah, So, and the one that came to my mind is we’re working with an organization in New York and they really found a lot of benefit in the information boards specifically because they were needing something in their day service, that was really just a way for those individuals to visually see what was going to be going on. Because that was a main stressor, was making sure that everyone knew what was going on and when it was going to happen and the best way that they really found the best use case for that was using the information board. They actually ended up projecting it onto a wall, which was a little bit different than what we normally see, but it worked for them and it worked for their clients and it was a really great success story then that led us into a group homes and other parts of their organization.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. So Pat, do you guys have a webinar coming up as well? Tell me about that.

Pat Opat:
Yes. Yeah. So we have a webinar on July 14th. It’s going to be at noon central standard time. So I really just a way for a relaxed demo that is going to be very short and highlighted. So, you won’t be there for a full hour, but just a way to show you the app and the online environment, which is really geared toward supporting the individual and helping them with independence and then the information board, which is really geared toward the group. So yeah, just really a highlighted tour of RoutineFactory and what we can do.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. Guys, if our listeners want to find out more or maybe be able to sign up for that webinar, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Pat Opat:
Best way to do that is go to RoutineFactory.com or go to… We’ll have a link in the show notes where you can go there and it’ll be just a link to sign up and yeah, just sign up. You can join us there live, or we’ll send you a recording of the demo afterwards, if you’re unable to make it.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. And as Pat just said, we’ll make sure to put those down in the show notes. Well Pat, Ger, thank you both so much for coming on here and telling us all about RoutineFactory. I can’t wait to try it out and I can see how that can help a lot of individuals with a lot of different needs.

Pat Opat:
Yes. No thank you for having us.

Ger Apeldoorn:
Yeah. Thank you.

Josh Anderson:
Do you a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology update? If you do call our listener line at (317) 721-7124. Shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAproject, or check us out on Facebook. Are you looking for a transcript or show notes? Head on over to our website at www.eastersealstech.com.

Josh Anderson:
Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel for more shows like this, plus so much more head over to accessibilitychannel.com.

Josh Anderson:
The views expressed by our guests are not necessarily that of this host or the INDATA Project. This has been your Assistive Technology update. I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in Indianapolis, Indiana. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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