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ATFAQ146 – Q1. Aug Comm Device and Text messages, Q2. 2nd Hand YouTube Captions, Q3. Headset for hard of hearing, Q4. Xbox Adaptive Game Controller, Q5. Device trials and demos Q6. Wildcard: Driverless Cars as an accommodation

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

Q1. Aug Comm Device and Text messages, Q2. 2nd Hand YouTube Captions, Q3. Headset for hard of hearing, Q4. Xbox Adaptive Game Controller, Q5. Device trials and demos Q6. Wildcard: Driverless Cars as an accommodation

—— 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 answered on our show? Send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ, call our listener line at (317) 721-7124 or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.com. 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 146. My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of the show. And we’re so glad 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, I just want to take a moment to go around the room and introduce the folks who are sitting here with me. We are actually on a Zoom meeting, so they’re sitting here virtually with me. First is Belva, Belva is the vision team lead for our clinical assistive technology team. Belva, you want to say hi?

Belva Smith:
Hey everybody. I’m cool. I hope you are too. We finally got us some nice good warm weather here in Indiana.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Tracy. Tracy is the INDATA program manager. Tracy, do you want to say hi?

Tracy Castillo:
Hey everyone. Thanks for listening.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. And then we also have Josh. Josh is the manager of our clinical assistive technology program and also the popular host of AT Update. Josh, you want to say hi?

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. Hi everybody. Welcome.

Brian Norton:
So let me just take a moment to plug our Accessibility Channel, which is where we have our social media and our podcasts. Mentioned AT Update already. Josh is the host of that show. That is a news and information show, let’s say once a week, every Friday, that show releases and we talk to thought leaders and product manufacturers, people who are actually making the stuff that we talk about here on this show and give you an introduction and let them talk about what they’re doing and the products that they’re making. And so it’s a great, great show. You should check that out. That’s Assistive Technology Update.

Brian Norton:
We also do Accessibility Minute. Accessibility Minute is a one minute podcast typically covering some device, some sort of assistive technology device or a product or service that’s out there. We’ve got a couple of folks who work on that, one’s on the show. The first is Laura Medcalf. Laura Medcalf is a social media content specialist here at the INDATA Project. She’s the brains behind the operation, but the voice currently is Tracy Castillo. And so again, Tracy, thank you for that. Accessibility Minute, check that out. You can go to eastersealstech.com to learn more about all of our podcasts that we have.

Brian Norton:
So just a little bit of information about ATFAQ. ATFAQ stands for Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions and we come across feedback and various assistive technology questions throughout the week. And then we go ahead and try to put those together, sit around as a panel and try to answer those the best we can. And so couple of things there, we do want your questions. So if you guys have any assistive technology questions regarding really whatever, any types of accommodations or those types of things, send those to us, we will take some time every other week to try to answer those as best we can.

Brian Norton:
And then we also want your feedback. We try our best to be able to provide well-rounded answers, but realize that we always probably leave gaps behind and are looking for you guys to fill those things in. And so if you guys have any kind of feedback with regard to any of the questions that we asked today, or try to cover today, please chime in and let us know. We’ve got a couple of ways for you to do both of those things, questions or provide feedback. You can give us a call on our listener line, that’s (317) 721-7124, or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org, or send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ, we monitor all of those channels each and every day, looking for your questions and for your feedback. So if you want to be a part of the show, there’s an opportunity there. And so we will look forward to hearing from you.

Brian Norton:
But also I’d love for you to tell folks about our show, where to find it. You can find us pretty much any place you can find a podcast these days, and that’s lots of different places, iTunes, atfaqshow.com, Stitcher, the Google Play store. Obviously you can go to our website. You can go to Spotify, Amazon Music, all of those different places are great places to be able to find our podcast and subscribe and love to invite other folks to be a part of it.

Brian Norton:
So without further ado, we’re going to jump into some feedback that we had gotten. We got some feedback from Lyndon. And so basically what he was saying I think a couple of weeks ago we had talked about text to speech and he had provided some feedback regarding a particular program. And I think we might’ve talked about Dragon anywhere as an option that we thought he might’ve been talking about, but he was talking about text to speech, which is free Apple app. And as most folks know, iOS offers text to speech as a free option. There’s a couple of ways to get access to that. You can do speak screen or you can speak selection. It works pretty well.

Brian Norton:
In fact, I use it all the time. I use the speak screen probably more than I do the speak selection. But it’s just a great way to be able to read information that you need help reading through. And so if you have an email, you have a note, you have a document that you’ve pulled up, simply swiping, with the feature turned on you can find that in your accessibility settings under speech settings, you can just take two fingers from the top of your screen, swipe right down to the bottom. And it should bring up a dialogue to allow you to start to speak it.

Brian Norton:
And one of the things I learned recently is there is a new feature where you can actually make that dialogue accessible from anywhere. It’ll actually put an icon on your screen that’ll follow you from the different home screens across your device. The minute you come across texts that you want to read, you just have to click the little icon. It’ll open up that menu and then allow you to start to read that. And so that’s a great, great app.

Brian Norton:
There still is Dragon anywhere that is a speech recognition app. So it’s a little bit different than text to speech. But that’s about $14 per month. It allows you to use the popular program Dragon and their speech recognition on your devices. And so thank you Lyndon for that feedback. I appreciate that. And thank you for always being part of the show and letting us know you have with those particular questions that we ask.

Belva Smith:
Brian, I think We have to mention in combination with his feedback that the iOS devices offer the dictation feature as well. I still have not found a real benefit to having the Dragon anywhere or everywhere versus just using the dictation that’s already included with the device itself for free.

Brian Norton:
I think you’re right because within iOS 14, when they came out with 14.1, somewhere around in there, they came out with that, like you said, the voice dictation, which allows you to not only do the dictation part to be able to speak text onto the screen, but you can also navigate now the entire device. And to be quite honest, I think the recognition is pretty good from what I’ve been able to see, and you can do corrections and things like that. I think you’re right. I don’t know if you need to pay for that anymore. I think the free version does a really, really nice job. That’s a good point.

Brian Norton:
All right. So without further ado, we’re going to jump into our first question today. The first question is, hello all, I’m an assistive technology consultant for a school district. ATFAQ has answered so many questions for me over the years and now I have a couple more, some of our students are using communication devices to interact with smart home products like Alexa. They tap a button that speaks a command they want Alexa to perform. Now, these students are getting older and want to use communication devices to send text messages and participate on social media. Any thoughts on how we could do these things?

Belva Smith:
I don’t know much about the communication devices, but you can send a text message from the Alexa. So you should be able to use that for the text messaging. Now, the social media part, I have no good answer for that.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. And I think to your point there, Belva, I think doing what you do with the Alexa to get it to do different things, the different commands, you could probably set up your device to be able to, like you said, send a text message, right?

Belva Smith:
Yeah.

Brian Norton:
And I think also a lot of augmentative communication devices, they’re based off of windows computers from what I understand. And you can get the windows side of things unlocked if you pay an extra fee, which would then give you access to probably text messages and social media from that side of things as well.

Josh Anderson:
Brian, I believe some devices actually have support for Facebook and text messaging kind of built in as well without even really having to unlock. And one thing Belva very important on Alexa, I believe you do have to have a cell phone number associated with it in order to send text messages, don’t you?

Belva Smith:
I’m not 100% sure. All I know is that I have sent texts, but I’m sure that my cell phone number is probably connected.

Josh Anderson:
Great. Because I know to make calls even device to device, I think there has to be a cell phone number associated with it. So if the individual has that they can always use that the same way that you’re talking about in the same way they’re used to.

Brian Norton:
That’s interesting. I think I may reach out and probably bring this up on our next show because we do have someone on our staff who is well-versed in augmentative communication devices. He spent many years in the aug comm field working for a vendor, or actually a few different vendors from what I understand. And so I’m sure he might be able to provide some more insight into this. I know with the folks we’ve got gathered today, augmentative communication is a little bit outside of our comfort zone, I’m sure there are folks probably listening who probably have more information or a lot more experience in that field than we do.

Brian Norton:
We probably know enough to be dangerous on our side, but with lean into the experts on those, and I’ll find out some more information on this particular question and make sure that we can provide you a really well-rounded answer about text messages and social media and how we might be able to accommodate that using a communication device. But that being said, I would love to open it up to folks who are listening, some of our listeners to see if you guys have any information on this, if you work in the augmentative communication field, maybe you use a communication device and you’ve got some experience in this particular area. We’d love to hear from you. Please let us know. 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:
Our second question is our teacher of students with hearing impairments needs to add captions to educational videos students need to view that are already on YouTube or the internet. Is there a good way to do this? Any help you can give on these questions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.

Tracy Castillo:
Wow. So the YouTube videos don’t have any captions on them. Is that what we’re-

Brian Norton:
Kind of what I’m reading into the question, right.

Tracy Castillo:
I really thought that YouTube did auto captions.

Brian Norton:
And YouTube does do auto captions, yes. I don’t know if you had to do that from the studio side or if you can automatically do that just from the user side of things. I do know, so we do a lot of what I referred to here at the INDATA Project as tech tip videos. So they are two or three minute videos where we talk about particular piece of equipment of some sort of assistive technology device. And when we do YouTube videos, we actually use the auto captions that are built into the backend of YouTube, right? So it’ll automatically caption your YouTube videos.

Brian Norton:
However, we do have to go in and we have to edit those, so they’re not perfect. It doesn’t do a lot of capitalization, starting and stopping of sentences. And so we have to fix some of those types of things, but it does. So there is some effort that we put into it. On the backend, once we do the auto captions, that makes that work for us. A couple of places I would send you, another place that we use quite often. One of those places is rev.com, R-E-V.com. Some of those, you can do a couple of different things. You can send them a URL and they will go ahead and caption a video. They’ll send you a caption text.

Brian Norton:
I don’t know if it’ll run side-by-side with those videos, because if you didn’t create the YouTube video, you probably don’t have access to the backend where you can add those caption files in, but you can at least get the caption text or the transcription for that video.

Tracy Castillo:
I did a Google search. And so I just typed in auto captions on YouTube. And if you go to your picture and you can bring up the other settings, turn on auto generated captions, it’s under play back and performance.

Brian Norton:
It sounds like the end user can turn those things on.

Tracy Castillo:
Well, I think that’s if you’re going to make your videos, that’s for making them.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. I mean, from a creator standpoint, it’s important that you add captions, people who are deaf and hard of hearing need access to the captions that are available. And it’s not that difficult to do. I would say a three or four minute video, usually it’s about 15 or 20 minutes of invested time on our part to be able to make those captions, to be able to edit whatever that YouTube creates. And then you’re good to go. So from a creator standpoint, you should be thinking about that beforehand, but on the back end of it as an end user, if you’re looking to get access to those, that would be-

Tracy Castillo:
Well, I think I figured out a workaround. We have a lot of speech to text apps, right? So maybe play the video and run one of those apps on a phone or a device, that’ll pick it up, just a little work around. I mean, it’s an easy way to do it because you would just need the app on your phone and then run your non-captioned video.

Brian Norton:
That is a way to do it. You could do Otter AI or live caption as an option. If you’ve got your app listening to the YouTube video that might work. Otter AI is an app that’s kind of cross-platform, you can have that running side by side in another browser window on your computer, or you can put that on an iPad or on your phone and be able to run those side by side, so that is a possibility.

Tracy Castillo:
It’s a long way around work around, that if you have no access to the backend of the video and you need those captions that’s [inaudible 00:15:46].

Brian Norton:
I mean, I’ve been very happy with rev.com. They do a lot of our podcast transcriptions. So when we get done with the podcast and we get that uploaded to the website, we go ahead and give them our URL and they go ahead and capture it. They do provide us a transcription that we include with our podcasts. And so that’s definitely another option as well. So in addition to some of these sites that will do that for you, looking at the auto caption and the captioning feature that’s within YouTube, or like you said, Tracy, just some of those apps that might be another possibility as well, so other thoughts.

Tracy Castillo:
If the video you’re watching isn’t your own content, that’s what I was thinking. If it’s not your content, you could use one of those.

Brian Norton:
All right. Let me just go ahead and open this up to our listeners, would love to hear from you if you guys have any information regarding captions and YouTube. Again, we’re looking at it from the end user perspective, being able to get some of the videos that are out there that you’re potentially using with students or wanting to watch or listen to, if you have a way to be able to get captions from those, that would be great. 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. Love to hear from you. Thanks so much.

Brian Norton:
All right. So our next question is, I am reaching out to you because my coworker has low frequency hearing loss and is finding it challenging to find a headset that works for her needs. We are off and on the phones for a large majority of the day. So as we all get older, we are finding that constantly bending our necks is more and more bothersome. Are there any headsets that you can think of that we could purchase to help her? So just kind of open that up to folks?

Belva Smith:
Well, I think the first part of the question that would be necessary to give you a good answer would be what type of phone is it that you’re using. Because without answering that question, it’s hard to tell you what headset might work. And it seems like we get some sort of question like this almost every show. And it’s always, to me, one of the most difficult ones to answer. But I can tell you that where I would guide you is to a website called besthearinghealth.com. They actually have a list of the best headphones for persons that are hearing impaired. And that would also allow you then to input some of the information as to what kind of phone it is that you’re using.

Belva Smith:
Also bone-conduction headset sometimes seem to be a good option for those that have some hearing loss. But I feel like it’s really hard to answer that question without getting more information from the individual as to what they can hear and what they can hear and it’s what type of phone they’re using. My best advice is just to check out that website, or Brian the one that you and I mentioned was Harris Communication. That’s a great website. They’re very, very easy to speak with there and willing to help in any way they can to help you identify what might be best.

Brian Norton:
And I think there’s a lot of options out there too. I mean, I think there’s lots of options as well. There’s ones where you can have earphones over your ears, both ears, you can have one over one, you can have Bluetooth, you have lots of different options as to the different types of headsets that you can use. Some will come depending on whether you’re maybe using a more traditional phone, like what you might find in the home that’s amplified, there’s amplified phones, there’s all sorts.

Brian Norton:
And then there’s little stations next to it where you can kind of adjust the volumes or the different tones on that you’re hearing. I mean, there’s a lots of different options for folks as well, you can get wired or wireless. I definitely would think contacting Harris Communications, I’ve not contacted that other site, but Harris Communications has been a place I’ve turned to often when we’re really trying to accommodate or find the right solution, because it is so specific to the phones that we use. And so certainly something that we have to pay a lot of attention to, and sometimes that can be looking for a needle in a haystack to find something that’s going to work for somebody, so good point.

Tracy Castillo:
On that, not the Harris Communication one, but the besthearinghealth.com. They even have reviews on some of their phones, their phones and their headsets have reviews, so that’s a good place to start.

Brian Norton:
That’s neat.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah.

Belva Smith:
They also kind of explain the bone-conduction headphones and how they differ. So if that’s something that you’re not familiar with you can get a little bit more educated on how the bone-conduction headphones work.

Tracy Castillo:
We have some of those bone-conduction ones in our lending library.

Belva Smith:
Well, and I was going to go there too, Tracy. I mean, I don’t know where this listener is listening from, but there’s a good possibility that they have an AT act in their area that may have some different headphones that they could try. I would assume that it would probably be all over the ear type things. I don’t think in the ear ones are readily available for loaning purposes because of hygiene. But over the ear ones, it would certainly be. I mean, I know that we do have some in our library.

Tracy Castillo:
[crosstalk 00:21:56] over the ear ones compared to the other ones.

Belva Smith:
Right.

Tracy Castillo:
The bone-conduction one, they do not go in your ear. They go right in your ear.

Belva Smith:
Right.

Tracy Castillo:
I thought it tickled a little bit. My husband borrowed them and he wore them for a while, he loved them. I tried it, gave me a headache. I’m so glad I tried it before I bought it. I bought it for him. I ended up using the lending library to test drive the headphones and I liked them, so went and purchased a pair for him.

Brian Norton:
Bone-conduction headsets, those use vibrations, is that right? Or how does that work?

Belva Smith:
Yeah. That’s my understanding.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah, they kind of pick up that sound and turn it into vibrations. After a while if you’re not used to it, it kind of tickles a little bit or kind of itches or something.

Brian Norton:
Got you. Interesting. That’s really cool. Well, yeah, I would love to just take a moment and open this up to our listeners. I mean, this is a question that we get often about someone who has a hearing loss and they’re trying to get access to the phone, a couple of those different places. There was Harris Communications, and then Belva, what was it again?

Belva Smith:
Besthearinghealth.com

Brian Norton:
.com. If you have other places that folks could turn to that would be helpful for them as they’re looking for the right type of headset, let us know. And or maybe you use a headset that you find very helpful for your particular situation would love to hear from you on that as well. Give us a call on our listener line, that’s (317) 721-7124, or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Talk to you soon. Thanks. Bye-bye.

Belva Smith:
But nope, not bye, we’re not leaving.

Brian Norton:
Bye-bye, I’m leaving.

Belva Smith:
Listen to this listener too, if you guys do identify something that works great for you, that would be really valuable information to share with us. Because again, this is a question that we get so frequently and nobody can give us more better information than someone who actually is using the technology. So just keep us in mind if you do find something.

Brian Norton:
All right. So our next question is, my son has CP and use of only one hand. He has an Xbox 360 and I’m trying to get the controller modified for his one hand or a controller board with all buttons accessible from the top. He can’t hold it or push all the buttons. Can you help us or guide us to someone that could?

Josh Anderson:
So one thing that’s available is Xbox does make an adaptive controller and while it may not be actually what your son might need, it does allow for all different kinds of switch access. So you can actually attach any kind of different switches to it. If he’s used to kind of different buttons or joysticks or whatever he might kind of need. And then you can program those to do all the different buttons of the Xbox controller. So essentially instead of having, if you think of the handheld where you really need to hold it in both hands, you have kind of buttons for each finger. You could just have an array of switches and buttons and other things sitting on a board, on a table or something, and have each one of those attached to some button control, directional control or other controls. And that’s the Xbox adaptive controller, I think you can get it in most gaming stores or at Microsoft.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. Josh, you can you can purchase that for microsoft.com and also I’ve found YouTube has got lots of really detailed videos on exactly how that controller works specifically and the things that it can do and the things that it can’t do. So that would probably be a great place to go and just get a little bit more information about that particular controller.

Tracy Castillo:
Hey Brian, do you remember when we had that full day training in 2019? Yeah, no? That was when we were still having in-person trainings. There was a guy. What was his name? Was it Ben? I think it was Ben. Ben, and he came over to our location. He brought a bunch of different items to use with Xboxes and how to make the Xbox more accessible. We have a whole video on our full day trainings for that. But what was really cool is that he showed us this 3D printed item that you can attach to the Xbox controller, and guess who found that file? I did. I went on to Thingiverse and I was able to find that file and print it out. I printed out two of them because the first one I printed out for a PlayStation remote and we don’t have a PlayStation yet. So I think that’s cool.

Tracy Castillo:
I’m not sure how long it took me to print it out, but it was one of these device things that took probably about an hour each time. And then I had to add screws to it, to actually get the handles to work on both sides of the controller. But it’s really neat, you should check out our full day archives and you’ll see the video and you’ll see a lot of other items that we have that may be interesting for you to use.

Belva Smith:
And Tracy in the lending library, don’t we also have that Microsoft Xbox adaptive controller?

Tracy Castillo:
We do, we actually have two of them, so if you are in Indiana. I think, are those loanable? I believe they are. If not, we can just show it to you.

Belva Smith:
I was going to say they could at least get a demo of it.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah, they could.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, we do have that one and they are loanable. I think we’ve got a couple, maybe two or three in our library as well. We also have several of the other, you mentioned Ben, when he came, we did a whole, a full day on innovative assistive technology and one of the segments was on adaptive gaming and he did do a full kind of rundown on different types of adaptive controllers. A couple of the things that he mentioned, one was the Xbox One Elite wireless controller. It’s got a couple of different options for folks, the Xbox adaptive controller, that’s when you mentioned Josh.

Brian Norton:
With that adaptive controller from Xbox, the one from Microsoft there, Logitech has come out with a bunch of different switches for folks. And so Logitech has some switches that you can plug into those, they’re very inexpensive. And they allow you to do a lot of different things and be able to control all of the different features of those Xbox controllers. You can get, I don’t know, there’s probably 20 or 30 switches for about a hundred bucks, and the adaptive controller itself is going to cost you around a hundred as well.

Brian Norton:
There’s also lots of other features, what you mentioned, Tracy. Really, if you’re looking for some places to turn to, a couple of places that I’ve turned folks towards before, AbleGamers is a great organization. They’re a nonprofit that basically help not only gamers, but also manufacturers, the folks that are designing the games to think about accessibility and then really helping those folks who are trying to be gamers to use those games. And so they have a couple of controllers themselves or are connected with the industry and can kind of help turn you towards those places where you might be able to find a controller that fits you, ablegamers.net, I believe, let me make sure of that.

Tracy Castillo:
Actually it’s ablegamers.org

Brian Norton:
.org. Great. And so again checkout AbleGamers. Another one is Evil Controllers. Evil Controllers is a great place as well. They have lots of different ways for you to be able to get access. They have their own adaptive controller, I think it works with a couple of different gaming platform, so Xbox or PlayStation I believe were the two that those things can work with and probably others as well. But you might also take a look at Evil Controllers. That’s a great website as well, and it has lots of different options for folks, that’s evilcontrollers.com. And so check those places out as well.

Brian Norton:
All right. So the one thing I would ask you to do, you can reach out to your local assistive technology act. As Belva mentioned, Tracy mentioned as well, we have a loan library, you can check out lots of different types of controllers. We have a variety of those. We have more than just the Xbox controller, the one from Microsoft. We have a bunch of these other ones as well. You go to eastersealstech.com, under services you’ll find our lending library. You can get access to that library and look at signing up for an account and checking one of those things out. It’s always great to be able to try these things out before purchasing one, just to make sure that it works and is going to do what you think it’s going to do.

Brian Norton:
So without further ado, I’m just going to open this up to our listeners. If you’re a gamer and you’re using a controller of any kind that’s a one hand controller, would love to be able 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. Looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks so much.

Brian Norton:
Our next question is, I’m a behavior specialist, I’m looking to assist an individual in furthering her independence. She has a TBI causing short-term memory and is visually impaired. Is there any way to set up a time for her to come in and try out devices that could be helpful, in particular looking for scheduling and calendar tools? So I’ll just open this up to the group.

Belva Smith:
I’ll let Tracy go into more detail about being able to come in and try out some of the different devices that we might have available there in the lab. And if we are open for people to come in and do those kinds of demos, I think that we have resumed that, but it would certainly be something that would need to be scheduled. But again, I’ll let Tracy talk about that. As a evaluator, I just want to say that this is a situation where perhaps having a full-blown evaluation where you could be more personalized with what this individual might be needing, what their current skills are and what might be appropriate to help accommodate the barriers that they’re facing. And what do they already have.

Belva Smith:
They may already have, for example, so many of us are walking around with smartphones in our pocket and don’t realize that they can be used for much more than placing calls and receiving calls. So it may be that this individual already has something that could be used for those simple task. And I say simple tasks, but scheduling is something that we all need to do. I guess that’s what I refer to when I say simple is just a common I guess is a better word to use, a common activity, so that maybe that they already have something and they could just be shown how to use what they already have.

Belva Smith:
With the TBI and the visual impairment together, you’re obviously going to want something that is going to be verbally guidance or going to give verbal guidance as well as the ability to just be auditorial with all of the EQs that would be necessary for creating a calendar or a schedule, that type of thing. So that’s what I got. Tracy, we can’t hear you there.

Tracy Castillo:
I was looking for the mute button, I was. That’s cool, you want to come down to our location for a demonstration, I love that. And since the pandemic, we haven’t really had very many in-house demonstrations. So if you want to give us a call, you can call us at the Easterseals locations, it’s 317-466-1000. You can ask for me, Tracy Castillo or Brian Norton, and we will set that up for you.

Tracy Castillo:
And what will happen is I’m so excited that you want to come to the location. I can’t get over that part. But what we can do is pull out some items from our lending library that we think might help. And we can also show you some stuff that we’ve got set up in the lab that could help. Gosh, I’m so excited about having people come back to the building. Thanks Brian. Thank you Brian for putting that question in there. But yeah, we have a couple of professional staff members and they will show you the basic features and stuff for some of these devices we have. But for scheduling, I usually use my Alexa for everything. So now I just have to remind her to tell me to do something at a certain time. And that’s very handy because I do, like you said, Belva, I have my phone on me. And if I tell Alexa it sends that little reminder to all the devices.

Tracy Castillo:
So no matter where I’m at, I get that device or get that message to help myself schedule or pick up my son. It’s really embarrassing when you’re late to pick up your kid because you got focused on something, but Alexa tells me when to leave the house now.

Belva Smith:
So you set a reminder on your Alexa, will that communicate with an Android phone or just an iOS?

Tracy Castillo:
So I have the Alexa app on my phone.

Belva Smith:
[crosstalk 00:35:45] both Android and iOS?

Josh Anderson:
Yes.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah.

Belva Smith:
Okay.

Brian Norton:
And Belva you mentioned getting a full blown evaluation. I would also recommend that depending on this person’s situation, you mentioned furthering her independence. This has anything to do with vocational work. Looking at vocational rehabilitation as a potential funding source, not only would they be able to pay for the evaluation, but they might also be able to pay for the equipment to go along with that evaluation. And so depending on what you’re doing with this person, I know it says independence, but if that involves anything vocational, you might reach out to vocational rehabilitation and see if you can become eligible for their services. So there’s an application process and we are under order of selection here in Indiana. And so if you live here in Indiana, it depends whether you’ll be eligible or not, but it’s worth the try because it is a good service and they do a lot of great things for folks.

Brian Norton:
The other thing I would mention too, as far as this is concerned, there are organizations that are out there that support people who have brain injuries. So here in Indiana there’s a couple RHI, they do and provide resource facilitation for folks with brain injury, helping them get connected to different services whether that’s vocational rehabilitation or other types of services that would help them, again with their independence. And so you might reach out to RHI and their resource facilitators for TBI. The other place, I would also here in Indiana have you reach out to is the BIAI, that’s the Brain Injury Association of Indiana. I sit on their board and they’re a great organization. They can connect you to support groups and talking to other persons with traumatic brain injury, other providers, caregivers, those folks might also be able to provide you lots of different solutions as well.

Brian Norton:
And so definitely look into those different organizations, the BIAI Indiana, that’s a great, great resource and then RHI, the resource facilitation is another place to be able to connect with as well. So I would definitely do that. We’ll open this up to our listeners. If you have any information to assist this particular caller, looking to find a different calendar and scheduling tools for somebody who has short-term memory issues, but also has visual impairment, let them know or let us know and we’ll be able to provide that on our next show. 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.

Belva Smith:
And I just want to finish off too by saying this is a prime opportunity to take advantage of the lending library, because you can sit down with someone and they can demonstrate how easy this might be or how this works. And it looks like, oh yeah, that we could do that, but the minute you get it and you’re on your own, it becomes so much more complicated. So being able to borrow it and take it into your own environment and actually try using it can help you make and determine a better educated decision before you actually go out and make a purchase, if you’re going to be the one purchasing it and even if you’re not. I mean, even if you do have a funding source, it still is better to know if what you’re purchasing is going to do what you want it to do the way you want it to do it.

Tracy Castillo:
Exactly. And no one likes to make a return. [crosstalk 00:39:29].

Belva Smith:
Sometimes you can’t return. I mean, sometimes the return data, the return time is so 14 days or whatever and you haven’t even had the assistance to get it set up before that time period might be up or who knows what. I mean, if you do have a good return policy and can take advantage of that, then that’s great. But then you’ve already set a device up and maybe given it some of your personal information. And do you feel comfortable returning it? I don’t know, I just think it’s a great product.

Belva Smith:
I like to touch before I buy which has been one of my biggest problems with the whole pandemic. Because I now I’m no longer a person who is able to touch before I buy. So I do find myself, no pun intended, but kind of blindly buying things and then finding out when I get them home, oh, this is way bigger than I thought it was. Or, oh, this doesn’t do what I thought it would do, and so I’m then returning it. I don’t know, just a suggestion to make sure that if you have the opportunity to try it in your environment, I would certainly encourage you to take advantage of that.

Brian Norton:
Now, that’s great advice. Thanks, Belva.

Speaker 8:
And now it’s time for the wild card question.

Brian Norton:
All right. So our next question is the wild card question. And this is where Belva has a question for us that we haven’t had a chance to prepare for. So Belva, what do you have for us?

Belva Smith:
So wrapping our minds around driverless cars, you know we’ve talked about them a little bit in the past. And I don’t know if or when they’ll ever really come to market. I know that there’s lots of money and great minds going into trying to make it a possibility. But in the beginning, when I first heard about it, I thought, oh, this would be perfect for all the individuals that are blind who can’t drive, then they just get in and push a couple buttons and they’ll find themselves rolling up through the drive-through at McDonald’s, whether or not that’s a reality, I don’t know.

Belva Smith:
But my question is, if that is a reality and an individual with the inability to normally control a vehicle can get in and just shut the door and push a couple buttons and land at the drive-thru at McDonald’s or get themselves to work, will that then be something that would be considered a necessary employment device that VR might end up having to purchase for an individual.

Josh Anderson:
Belva, I’m going to say no. And the reason I’m going to say no is if I have a different disability. So let’s say I have a physical impairment, but I can operate a vehicle, I just can’t afford one, so I can’t get to work, VR is not going to buy it. I think it would fall under that same thing. And I’ve had a couple people on the other show AT Update, and really the way the self-driving thing is going is mostly towards ride-share kind of thing.

Josh Anderson:
Right now I know originally Lyft and Uber were putting tons of money into it until they realized that it would be more expensive to buy self-driving cars than to pay people to drive their own cars. So it’ll probably be competition for them. There’s places in Arizona where if you get a ride-share, no one’s in that car when it comes to pick you up. So it could be ride passes, kind of like they do provide bus passes to folks sometimes and things like that. I just don’t think they’re going to go the full on purchasing the self-driving car for a person. I got to guess that it’s not going to fall under that reasonable part of the reasonable accommodation.

Belva Smith:
So we won’t have to be justifying them in our reports.

Josh Anderson:
You can try.

Brian Norton:
I would agree with Josh. I would also say they’re looking for something that’s least cost, right. And so there’s always going to be paratransit, public transportation, other kinds of means for folks to get to work. And so although what a great accommodation that could be for somebody, they’re going to go for, can you get there by … Here in Indianapolis, our paratransit is IndyGo. They’re going to look and say, “Hey, can you take IndyGo?” Or that’s I think what they’ll opt for because it’s least cost, right. So that’s kind of where I’m at on that. I would love to see them purchase some things. And I think in some situations it would make a whole lot of sense for some individuals. But yeah, that’s an expensive proposition.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. And the reason that I thought of that question is because I did a couple of years back have an individual who wanted a driverless or whatever, no operations lawnmower, because he was blind and he had a totally fenced yard, and he was like, “I can’t mow my own yard, but with that lawnmower, I could control it with my phone and it would cut my grass for me.” And I’m like, “Yeah, but how is that work related?” Well, it’s really not work-related, but it does improve my independence. Well, yeah, it does, but how does that become VR’s responsibility?

Belva Smith:
I was thinking about that, it was a flashback that I had the other day and I thought just curious, will there be a day and a time when VR might find themselves in a situation where they have to actually, I mean, because that’s going to be an enormous expense. I mean, think about how few people they would actually be able to assist if they find themselves buying. I mean, I don’t even think that I would be able to afford one just to have it, and I work. I mean, I don’t think the average working person is going to be able, it’s kind of like having a Tesla, right. The average person doesn’t get to own one.

Brian Norton:
Right. Yeah. Especially for the short term, those things are going to be super expensive and until they become like your TV where flat panel TVs used to cost a whole lot of money, now they’re a lot less expensive and a lot more affordable. It’s going to take a while for cars to become more affordable, especially the self-driving cars for sure.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. And I think there’s been a lot of major, like even Apple has made some investment in this. But I think some of the companies have kind of taken this step backwards now because they’re finding that it’s not going to be as safe I think is what it’s really coming down to. I mean, I don’t think that the safety is something that’s just able to be placed at this time.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, I think they’re all worrying about the liability behind. If you get in an accident, who’s fault is it? Is it the drivers or is it the cars? And there’s going to be a lot of pointing fingers back and forth. And so I think the liability issues behind all that is a significant barrier to be letting those vehicles become more readily available to the general public for sure.

Belva Smith:
Right.

Tracy Castillo:
I think this is really cool. And I saw a couple of videos on YouTube and where people were using the self-driving cars and got a Lyft. It was pretty interesting. And then what I learned is that if the car gets pulled over, the car is not going to get pulled over. But if it did, who’s liable for that? And so the gentleman that was in the self-driving car hits a button to speak to it, a representative said, “Oh, no, you’ll just sit there and we’ll talk to the police officer if we ever got pulled over.” They’re pretty confident that they’re not going to get pulled over.

Brian Norton:
Interesting. Well, excellent. Well, hey, thank you Belva. That’s an excellent question. Want to just open it up to our listeners, if you guys have any feedback, what your thoughts are on self-driving autonomous cars. And if that becomes an accommodation for someone who has a disability, who’s looking for employment, give us your thoughts, what you’re thinking about that as well. 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. Also want to just to, before we break today, just give the folks here on our team an opportunity to say goodbye to everybody. And so I’ll start with Belva. Belva, you want to say goodbye?

Belva Smith:
Bye everybody. See you in a couple of weeks.

Brian Norton:
And then I’ll jump to Tracy. Tracy, do you want to say goodbye?

Tracy Castillo:
Bye everyone, keep sending us your questions.

Brian Norton:
Absolutely. And then Josh.

Josh Anderson:
Till next time, can’t wait to see you again.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. And to Tracy’s point, yeah, without your questions, we don’t have a show, so please do send your questions. Also if you’ve listened today and you have any feedback on the questions we answered today. So please let us know, love to hear from you. You can give us a call again on that listener line. That’s (317) 721-7124, or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org, or send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ, love to hear from you, take care everyone. And it seems like every week we have at least one blooper. So here you go. And then we’ll just go as long as people can bear.

Belva Smith:
Woo-hoo. I’m done. [crosstalk 00:49:23].

Brian Norton:
Oh no, so all I’ve done today is start fires. I don’t [inaudible 00:49:27] putting out fires. I think I’ve started a few more than I wanted to. 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 receive 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. (silence).

 

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