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ATFAQ148 – Q1. Extendable/Retractable Stylus, Q2. MindMapping software for O365, Q3. Health Maintenance Apps, Q4. Elopement Devices, Q5. Time management apps, Q6. Wildcard: Resources for making technology purchases

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

ATFAQ148 – Q1. Extendable/Retractable Stylus, Q2. MindMapping software for O365, Q3. Health Maintenance Apps, Q4. Elopement Devices, Q5. Time management apps, Q6. Wildcard: Resources for making technology purchases

—- Transcript Starts Here —-

Brian Norton:
Welcome to ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions with your host, Brian Norton, Director of Assistive Technology at Easter Seals 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.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 148. 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 in, just want to take a moment to go around the virtual room that we have here and introduce the folks that are on our panel today. We’ve got Belva. Belva is the vision team lead with our clinical assistive technology team. Belva, do you want to say hi?

Belva Smith:
Hey, everybody. On my screen we’re like a little tripod because there’s only three of us today.

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

Josh Anderson:
Trifecta, we prefer [crosstalk 00:01:29].

Brian Norton:
That’s right. Next is Josh. Josh is the manager of our clinical assistive technology program and host of AT Update. Josh, you want to say hi?

Josh Anderson:
Hi, everybody. Welcome back, or if it’s your first time, welcome.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. And then a fourth person who’s typically on our panel is Tracy. Tracy is out today. So she will be back with us during our next show, but just want to recognize her before we jump in. And again, before we jump in completely just want to take a moment for new listeners to give them just a bit of information about our show, how it works. So the way things work around here with ATFAQ is we come across various feedback and assistive technology related questions and then we as a group, through INDATA and our clinical AT program. We sit around as a group and we try to answer those as best as we can. We’ve got a variety of ways for you to be able to get us your questions and your feedback. That’s through our listener line, that’s 317-721-7124, or through our email that’s tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Or you can send us a tweet with the hashtag #ATFAQ. All great way ways to be able to get us your information. We monitor those three channels to be able to gather up people’s feedback and their questions and then we put that show together.

Brian Norton:
If you’d like to share our show with other folks, you can find us just about any place you’d find a podcast these days. iTunes, we have a website atfaqshow.com. You can go to Stitcher, Google Play, Amazon Music, Spotify. Again, really anywhere you can find podcasts you’re probably going to find us. If you do notice a place that you go to frequently to look for your podcast and you don’t find us there let us know. We can probably add our podcast to that channel so look for that feedback as well.

Brian Norton:
So, without further ado, we’re going to jump in. We did get one bit of feedback this was about a question a couple of weeks ago, maybe last month even. We were talking about the Victor Reader Trek, and so I’m just going to read through this feedback because I think it’s good. There’s a good information about the differences between Victor Reader Stream, Victor Reader Trek, and using what a lot of folks use the GPS in a person’s iPhone and this reads, hello, I’m a blind Victor Reader Trek user who also has a first and second generation Victor Reader Stream and also use an iPhone 6S+, which I’ve been hanging on to since its first release. The iPhone does have a GPS and some very good apps for the visually impaired, but none of them have the capability of the trek or the ease of use the trek has.

Brian Norton:
I don’t have a clue about vocational rehabilitation requirements, but from a user experience the trek wins hands down as a mobility aid. For book reading, again, you can read books on an iPhone but the constant interaction required with the touchscreen and voiceover makes any scholarly reading and research very cumbersome on the phone. The tactile interface on the Victor Reader Stream device is in his opinion, so much easier to use and the thoughtful bookmarking and note taking options on the Victor Reader Stream devices make for an exponential increase in productivity and ease of retention. Also, just to note on cost effectiveness, my original Victor Stream from 2008 still works fine. And the anticipation that the victor Reader Trek, too, will last many years makes them very cost effective in the long run, while most iPhone users can’t keep them working as long as I have managed with my old phone. Regards, Greg.

Brian Norton:
And so, I thought that’s an interesting take. A lot of good information about the use and potentially the ease of use of the Victor Reader over being able to interact with your voiceover and the touchscreen on an iPhone.

Belva Smith:
Well, and I just want to say that is the reason that our show is so awesome. Because when we do get feedback from a user like that, nobody’s going to tell the story better than a person who’s using.

Brian Norton:
That’s right.

Belva Smith:
And the fact that he identified that he actually has all three devices. He does this with that, and that with this, although he can do more with it than he does. Having a dedicated device that’s easier and more accurate at doing something makes sense. But in our situations, because most of the… I’m going to say 97.5% of the time that we are making any a recommendation it’s VR related. So we have to stay within their requirements for being able to get equipment, but for the individuals that can have other funding sources or possibly be able to purchase the things themselves, then yeah, absolutely. It makes sense to be able to get what works best for you. And I will agree any of the Victor products, they’re made very well. And they do tend to have a very long life as long as you keep them updated and stuff. So, I love that feedback. So thanks, Greg, for listening, and thanks for sharing.

Brian Norton:
Excellent, excellent. Yes, again, thank you, Greg. Appreciate that. Keep the feedback coming. And for others if you’re listening, as Belva mentioned, this is why we think our show really, really works and is a great resource for folks because we’re getting that feedback in and love to receive that.

Brian Norton:
So, without further ado, we’re going to jump into our first question of the day. And this came to me through email, and it reads, our school district has purchased box light interactive panels for all of our classrooms. And we know there might be issues for students/faculty with mobility impairments with reference to the mounted heights of the panels. Do you know of any extended stylist models that might work like a wand so that students/faculty can reach parts of the panels that otherwise might be inaccessible?

Brian Norton:
I often find this. We have a couple of solutions here. We have whiteboards throughout our building. And for folks in wheelchairs getting to the top left and top right hand corner of those 80 inch screens, big panels are a lot of… It’s very difficult for them. And so, there’s a couple of options that I have found. You can find retractable, extendable teaching pointer sticks, if you will. If you go to Amazon, you can look up telescoping teacher’s pointer. You’re going to find all sorts of different ones. And what’s nice about them is they are extendable and retractable. So, they aren’t any bigger than maybe a pen to start with, maybe just a little bit bigger than that. But then they extend out. One extends out to 47 inches long. And so, being able to sit in a wheelchair to be able to reach those farther reaches of those whiteboards shouldn’t be a problem with that, but they are designed for being used on an interactive display like you’re describing there.

Brian Norton:
And so, a couple of the ones that I had found. One is a telescoping teacher’s pointer from BonyTek B-O-N-Y-T-E-K, and it’s a retractable classroom, electronic whiteboard presentation pointer. And then another one that I found is a telescopic teacher pointer. And so, I’m not exactly sure. Ginean is the company for this one G-I-N-E-A-N. And to be honest with you, they’re not all that expensive. The second one I mentioned is only about $8, and the other one that I mentioned is currently unavailable, but I believe it was $9 or $10, when I first recommended that back to the person who sent us this email. And so, they’re pretty inexpensive, but what you’re going to look for and search for is telescoping or retractable teachers pointers. Any other feedback [crosstalk 00:09:11]?

Belva Smith:
I don’t have any information for that. But again, we’re going to have to start a new segment of the show, Belva’s rant. I’m a little disappointed that the manufacturers of this boxlight to make their product more accessible can’t just include. I mean, Brian, I think you just said both either one of those retractable pens that you just found it’s under $20. How much do you think it would cost for them to throw one of those in, or even two of them, or whatever? I mean, they obviously didn’t take any of the accessibility as far as mobility needs into consideration when they started designing this for the classroom, which that’s frustrating.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, and another option I’ll throw out there for folks, especially if you’re in an educational setting, and you’re using the traditional interactive panels that people hang on. Either the whiteboards or the boards that are up in the classroom already is you may also consider using a… It’s called TAPit, I believe. We’ve got one in our library. And I believe it’s actually on display in our AT Lab actually. But the TAPit is a very adjustable touchscreen computer. So, it connects to a computer, but it’s a very large touchscreen. It is a whiteboard, if you will, but it’s adjustable. Not only in height, but also you can bevel it out so that a person in a wheelchair can pull up underneath it like they’re sitting at a table.

Brian Norton:
And so, the TAPit is what it’s called, but it’s a really great, very adjustable, easy to use, easy to adjust whiteboard for folks with mobility needs. And so, in addition to maybe what you already have, on the walls, or in the classrooms at the school, currently, you may also consider for those folks maybe purchasing a couple of those and having those available throughout the school should something like that be needed, but TAPit is a really great device and very adjustable for folks.

Josh Anderson:
You may also want to call the manufacturer and see what kind of accommodations they might have available because Belva you kind of brought that up. But I’m looking forward to the Belva’s rant one, but I feel like we’re going to have a whole new podcast for that, or we’re never going to get too many questions. And so, the only reason I say that is that I’m looking through their whole website, and there’s nothing about accessibility whatsoever. So, I mean, I don’t know, there’s a lot of other options out there that do have accessibility things. So, I’m sure that there probably are some here. And we only asked about mobility.

Josh Anderson:
My other question is also consider your students with visual impairments, hearing impairments, all of those different kinds of things. I know that it’s the wave of the future, and it’s been coming for a long time of the touchscreen, the big huge screens, you can touch. And Brian, like you said, we have quite a few of them around here. How often do we use those touchscreens and actually touch them?

Brian Norton:
Not very often.

Josh Anderson:
And well, granted it was COVID, so we don’t do anything here. So, I guess that’s a really stupid thing to say. But I mean, really it’s almost and it’s funny to watch people come in and try to use them and they just touch all over the screen and can’t find the play button. I don’t know, it’s just funny. But it’s one of those things you have to think about before you make that kind of a gigantic investment is to make sure that it’s accessible to your students, and they can actually use those kinds of things. And just looking through, but I would definitely give them a call and ask, “What do I do for my students?” They may have a solution available. They may have something they can enable. Or I mean, they’re the manufacturer, let them know. They can’t fix a problem they don’t know exists.

Belva Smith:
And that may very well be it, Josh. I mean, it’s hard to imagine that a developer for a device such as this, that they know is going into the world of education wouldn’t have considered accessibility, but it happens. So, yeah.

Josh Anderson:
It definitely happens, and Belva we see it all the time.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, and you’re probably right. They just weren’t aware of it. So somebody needs to point it out, and they’ll take the steps that need to be taken.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, yeah. And they might… I mean, we see it all the time, too, where somebody is like, “Hey, I need this really great thing.” And you’re like, “Cool, that’s not really an issue.” You know what I mean? Or that’s not really a big problem, and that can be fixed with a box or a stick or something. That’s a very bad example. But yeah, you got to realize a lot of these things sometimes they’re made by developers, sometimes they’re made by educators. And you get a totally different device depending on which one it’s made of and the considerations that they make. So, I’d say definitely reach out to them as well. Because again, they might either A, be like, “Oh, yeah, we’ve had that issue. Here’s what worked great.” Or B, “Oh, we never thought about that. Let’s make sure that from now on we build something in so that it can help. Because usually companies want to sell more things, and to more people. So if you let them know about issues, if they can fix it and do more, then it’s good for everybody.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, that’s a good point. I would love to open this up to our listeners. If you have any feedback, maybe suggestions, or recommendations, or other accommodations that might work for this particular individual needing to get access to classroom whiteboards for folks with mobility needs, please let us know. We’d love to be able to provide that feedback to them. 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.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question is, do you have a good recommendation for a mind mapping software that integrates nicely with Office 365 and SharePoint, and can be centralized on the desktop and/or mobile devices? Thank you. And I thought maybe as we start answering this question, it might be helpful for folks who aren’t familiar with mind mapping to talk a little bit about what mind mapping is, and then we can talk maybe about some of the products that might be helpful for folks in this area. And so, I think the way I think about mind mapping is it’s just a little bit differently. So, you have your traditional note taking way, which is very linear. If you think outline form, it’s one, two, 2A, 2B, 2C, three, and it goes down the list. Mind mapping is a little bit differently where you just start putting thoughts down on paper.

Brian Norton:
And if you see a mind map, the way it traditionally looks for folks is there’s little thought bubbles all over the place. And then you can connect those thought bubbles, and it makes this little diagram on your paper, and helps get your just thoughts out very, very quickly. You just start putting things down and these little thought bubbles and then later on go back and try to connect them and make sense of them. And so, it’s a really useful tool. Things that you can use it for. Note taking is certainly something, brainstorming, writing, problem solving. If you’re reading a book, making summaries for those books, all sorts of things that you can do with mind mapping.

Brian Norton:
I think it all goes back to what that person’s preference is. For me, I like my notes more linear, more of an outline form. But I do know other folks, my boss is one of them. Josh and I both have a boss who prefers putting things out in these little thought processes and linking and connecting and putting just a bunch of stuff down on paper to give you a more visual look at what’s going on. And so, mind mapping is certainly a useful tool, and is used by a lot of folks. Back to the question just a little bit for folks, something that integrates into Office 365 and SharePoint, thoughts?

Josh Anderson:
So, really, the one that just popped into my head would be MindView by Matchware. It not only does… It actually has the ribbon on there, so it looks a lot like a Microsoft kind of program, which makes it easy. It integrates pretty seamlessly from the way I’ve used it into O365, into PowerPoint is the big one I think of, but into Word, I think even into Excel, and I’m not sure. I’ve never tried to actually use it with Excel, but even with PowerPoint to where my branches of my brainstorm of my thought tree, whatever the heck they call that thing can just become different slides. All my information, if I’ve got sources, it automatically sources them and does that.

Josh Anderson:
Also, I believe you can have a bunch of people working on at the same time. So, if you look, it’s like a project management tool. It can be used that way as well. I do know in the question they said, let me see, and mobile devices. Now, that’s where it gets a little bit more tricky with MindView by Matchware. There is an online version of it, but I don’t believe it has quite as many tools or integrates quite as easily with everything else as the desktop version. But I do know that it works well with SharePoint, with OneDrive, I think you can even have cloud integration with Google Drive. I’ve used it before, it’s huge. I mean, it’s a big program with a ton of tools. But since it looks like Office, it’s a little bit easier to learn.

Josh Anderson:
The other thing is if you have the desktop tool, it can integrate with Dragon. So if you’re using speech to text and also integrates with screen readers. So, JAWS is able to read the stuff and the keystrokes are very similar, if not exactly like the ones you’re already using in office. So, if you are using other assistive technology to go around with it, it does work with that. It’s expensive. I’m not going to lie. I think there’s a yearly price. And I think you can actually buy the whole program maybe still, although it may have went to full on subscription, I’m not sure. But it does have a free trial, like a 30 day free trial you can put on there.

Josh Anderson:
If you’re looking for something maybe a little bit… Really, if you’re going to try to integrate to Office 365, you almost have to go that way. I really do think. I haven’t found other ones that do a great job of really integrating, maybe some copy and pasting at best. But there are tons of free or very low cost ones out there. If you’re willing to do the mind map in one place, and then maybe put your data into Office 365 at another time, you could really save some money, but just because you’re talking about the Office 365 and SharePoint integration, I think you have to go with that one just because… I mean, it’s built, and again, it looks just like it, it feels just like it, and the integration part is… I mean, you could make your outline of a presentation basically in a mind map, click a button, and it’s in PowerPoint, and ready to go. And maybe do some touch up, but you’re not doing anything else.

Josh Anderson:
You’re not transposing all that information over. You’re not bringing all that. You’re not bringing over your references, pictures, everything you put in that mind map pops over, and it’s pretty seamless, and pretty simple to use. But again, you’re going to pay for that kind of feature and that coolness, and it’s really just on a computer. I believe it’s Windows and Mac and like I said there is an online version. But your online version isn’t going to give you, don’t think gives you as much especially on a mobile device.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, to find that information about that product. That’s the one I was going to mention that I know integrates well. Matchware.com is where you can go find that and you can find all sorts of testimonials. You can figure out a little bit more information about some of those features that are available for folks. And so, definitely MindView is where I would steer folks as well. A couple other ones that I’ve used in the past, they’re more Mac based. And they may be available for Windows as well, I’m not quite sure, but I’ve used those in different situations, SimpleMind Pro, and another one called MindNode. I believe SimpleMind Pro you can purchase outright. MindNode is a subscription based one. I think they do a monthly or yearly subscription for it.

Brian Norton:
But I’m not exactly to be honest with you sure about the integration. I don’t know if it integrates with Office 365 or SharePoint at all. I do know they’re good programs, and maybe the way it does integrate is you have to copy and paste like Josh mentioned with a lot of these other programs that are out there. But then again, you’ve got a lot of formatting to do after the fact. And so, that doesn’t necessarily help all that much. But I would, if you’re interested in different mind mapping solutions, those two are also pretty good from just the mind mapping features that it offers and being able to link things and get thoughts out of your mind and onto paper very quickly. But, again, the integration piece is so important and that MindView is a really great app.

Josh Anderson:
Another one that I’ve used quite a bit and used for a long time as Inspiration Maps. It does a pretty good job. I think I still use the free version. I think you get the full thing for 10 bucks by I just keep clicking no, but it’s very easy on a tablet to just move things around. So, if you’re looking for one more on the mobile space, it’s not going to integrate. But one thing I like is you can make that full mind map. With one touch of the screen, it flips it over to your normal outline. Part A, part B, and I’m going down that kind of tree, which I find very, very, very easy. You can attach pictures, you can do all this other stuff, put more information. Super simple and a great starting place if you’re new to mind mapping. And then if you find out that mind mapping is something that’s super helpful, then maybe move on to the little bit bigger the Matchware products for full on integration into that Office 365.

Belva Smith:
I just noticed that the Microsoft Store has Mind Maps Pro for 19.99. But I’m looking at it and it says for the next five days, you can get it for free. I would only assume, it also says that it’s very easy to learn how to use, but I would only assume that if it’s in the Microsoft Store, it would probably integrate with Office. However, I’m looking through the description and it does not ever specifically say that it does integrate with Office but it’s worth checking out. Mind Maps Pro productivity in the Microsoft Store.

Brian Norton:
Interesting. Great catch there. What’s it called, again, Belva?

Belva Smith:
Mind Maps Pro.

Brian Norton:
Mind Maps Pro, I’m going to write that one down just so I can go look at it some at some point. I would love to open this up to our listeners. If you’re familiar with mind mapping and have a program that you love and that integrates into Office 365 and/or SharePoint that would be great to know about 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. Thanks so much.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question is do you have a list of apps for mental health maintenance? Thanks, Nancy. A couple notes as I was thinking about this question. There’s lots of apps out there that deal with mental health. Depending on the specific situation, you’ll find one app might work more effectively for one person than it does the other. It really depends on what’s going on. I know Josh, you and I have presented on some of these things throughout COVID-19 as we’ve talked about work from home and ways to be able to relax and make sure that you’re keeping your anxiety and the stress and what’s happening in life. And some of the apps we’ve talked a little bit about in some of our presentations have been Happify. There’s another one called Talkspace. Another one called Anxiety Reliever and Reflectly are a couple of apps that we’ve listed out before, but I know with health maintenance apps, those types of things when you’re trying to… Depending on what you’re dealing with. Is it anxiety? Is it depression? What are you specifically dealing with? You’ll probably find those apps will address different needs.

Josh Anderson:
I approach this from a different angle, which is probably wrong, but that’s fine. We can [crosstalk 00:24:45]. I look at this more from a provider standpoint. So, I don’t know if this is a person asking how do I help myself or maybe how do I help those people I serve. So, we’ve had Steve Sutter on the other show AT Update a couple times. He runs Createability here in Indiana and they got a couple of products. One of them’s called Evaluate Now. So, it’s standardized web-based assessments and interventions that can monitor your client’s health and wellbeing between visits. So, it’s avatar based, very easy, simple questions, but all their stuff comes to a dashboard for you. But the apps there on their phone or tablet, whatever device they’re using, and can really give you… If you think that kind of to the minute, how are you doing health wise? How are you doing mental health wise? Or if you have a crisis or something you can open that, and instead of having to call and talk to a human being, you have that, and then that information goes back to the provider.

Josh Anderson:
I think we have another one called Either Talk, which is the same kind of things. You can text these questions with answers to folks, just how you doing today? How’s whatever was bugging you, kind of thing. And there’s a couple of other things available, but those are more of you’re serving more people. They’re much more from a provider kind of sense, just because it didn’t really say if this person was looking for something for themselves, or maybe for those they serve, but there are some different ones out there to really help with that. But Brian, yeah, the ones you talked about, I will say, and I can’t remember which one it is because when we’re doing that presentation, I got all of them and signed up for all of them, and set up free accounts.

Josh Anderson:
One of them emails me every single day, which causes much more anxiety than it gets rid of. So whatever that one was, get rid of that one, because that one’s just silly. Because I don’t need emails every day to tell me I need to think about things. I don’t know. Just [inaudible 00:26:30] enough emails, that just seems like a silly one. But yeah, there’s so many out there. And the other nice thing is I think all the ones you mentioned, Brian, have a free trial or a free version. So try them out, see what works best and see what might be able to help you. But yeah, with mental health, I mean, that is such a spectrum of needs and of things that it’s really hard to have one, so you got to try out each one.

Josh Anderson:
Another thing that can really help that I know we’ve worked with in the past is sometimes games like the brain games, the ones that get your brain moving. And that can be anything from word finds to, I don’t know, Craig uses Cut the Rope a lot just because it gives you the kind of skill thing. Sometimes those can really help as well, just because you’re actually putting your mind on something else. You’re focusing on something else. So maybe what’s bothering you and what’s got you going or maybe causing a little bit of that mental health crisis or need can get a little bit, I don’t know, easier, or just easier to deal with because you’re taking your mind and putting it on something else. It should be definitely noted that none of us are psychiatrists or a psychologist, so please just take these suggestions, and not as any sort of prescriptions and/or diagnoses. Just throwing that out there.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, we definitely need a disclaimer on that for sure.

Josh Anderson:
We probably need a disclaimer at the beginning of the show on everything.

Brian Norton:
Right. Exactly, exactly.

Belva Smith:
Right. And when I was trying to get an answer for this, I found a place called verywellmind.com, and it looks like a great website worth checking out. But they also have the eight best mental health apps according to them. I think probably if you put five people in a room and ask for their eight best, you’re going to probably get a whole bunch of different ones. But what I did appreciate as I was researching, they have a broke down. So the best for learning coping skills. They recommend MoodMission. The best for therapy is Talkspace. So, they have them broken down. But again, that was verywellmind, all one word, .com. So, that might be [crosstalk 00:28:50].

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Well, I’d love to open this up to our listeners. If you use an app for meditation or mental health or to be able to help address depression or other types of anxiety issues for good mental health maintenance, let us know. We’d love to be able to share that with folks. You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124 or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org, love to hear from you. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question came to us through email. It says, in the past, you have provided me with names of a couple of tracking devices that families can use. Do you know if there are any new devices out there? Or are you familiar with any very simple phones that have GPS? Thanks, Wendy. I’ll just throw out there. I don’t know. There seems to be new devices all the time that come out. As far as the things that I would still… I still think some of the things that we’ve shared in the past through our show still hit a chord with this particular need. When you think about tracking devices, a lot of times they’re used for folks who have elopement issues where they run away, and you want to do a couple of things. First off, you want to be able to know where they are. But also you need, you’re looking for potentially a warning that when they leave a particular area you get some sort of notification to say, “Hey, they’ve left this particular general area,” and then you can start tracking them and find them.

Brian Norton:
And so, a couple of those issues, elopement, and then being able to get a geo fencing type of thing set up so that if they leave a particular area, you can find them. A few things that I know I’ve used in the past, and have found a lot of luck with. And really, you just need a simple smartphone, you can really use these on any phone. Life360 is an app that works on Android or Apple. Life360 provides real time GPS locations for the folks that have signed up. A lot of families use this for parents to be able to track kids or for kids to know where their parents are, and you just keep track of each other. It’s a pretty nice app.

Brian Norton:
If you have an Apple phone doesn’t have to be a new one, it can be an old one, Find My Friends is always a part of that. What I don’t love about Find My Friends, but it does seem to be effective in a lot of situations is it doesn’t provide real time. It simply updates every minute or two about where that person is located. So you don’t have real time GPS tracking. You’ve got a refresh that happens every couple of minutes for it to be able to keep track of things. But if you are looking for tracking devices, real-time GPS enabled, where you don’t even have to have a phone.

Brian Norton:
A couple of things I would steer you toward is there’s one called Trax Play. Trax Play is a little device. We have a demonstration model of it here in the INDATA project where it’s just a little rectangular cube about half as thick as it is in length. Basically, you can attach that to your shoe strings, it comes with a belt clip, you can throw it in your pocket or in the person’s backpack if they’re able to keep that on and would have that with them all the time. Anyways, but it provides real-time GPS. You need a data plan a lot of times with these devices, so you have to be connected to a cell phone company or through the company that you’re purchasing the device will go ahead and set you up with a data plan because you are using data as you track people.

Brian Norton:
Another one that I’ve heard a lot of folks use and have had great success with is Angel Sense. There’s another one that’s pretty new I think. I had not heard of it before, but as I was coming across this question again, I have had folks recommend it. There’s Verizon offers something called a Gizmo watch. And so, it’s like a kid watch that provides, again, this whole tracking. But I think it even goes beyond that. It offers folks some simple… I think you can place a phone call through it. But anyways, check out Verizon Gizmo watch. And again, there’s lots of other kinds of things as well.

Belva Smith:
A problem that I think most people run into with those type of tracker things is the same thing that I’m experiencing or have experienced a lot with the elderly population that I work with. They get those help, I’ve fallen and can’t get up devices that are supposed to be worn. And guess what, they never have them on when they need them, and they’ll tell you. They’ll straight up tell you, “I’m not going to wear that thing. I don’t know where it’s at. Last time I seen it, it was hanging on the bedroom door.” So, any advice that you want an individual to wear, whether it’s a child or an elderly person, I think that’s where it gets really tricky. And also with their phone. Who knows? Depending upon the situation, if they’re going to get up and walk out the door, they may or may not take their phone with them. Under normal circumstances they might, but they don’t know.

Belva Smith:
So, I’ve always been a fan of, and I’ve never used it. I don’t know anyone that has, but I’ve always been a fan of the device that I learned about from another podcast that it goes into the soul of the shoe. Most people aren’t going to leave home without their shoes. So this little device fits right underneath the sole of the shoe, and it has really good ratings, but it is expensive. I’m looking at their website here, and it’s normally 299, but on sale for 279. But it does come with… It’s called the Smart Sole, S-O-L-E, by the way. But it does come with an app for both Android and iOS, so that you would be able to track them.

Belva Smith:
Now, my concern too with it, I just read that the battery has to be recharged after two or three days. I mean, hopefully, if the individual you’re trying to track gets out of your sight, they’re not missing for that long of a period. I think it’s only using the battery when it’s actually on the foot. So, the shoes could sit in the closet for a week, and the battery’s not going to go dead. But when you put your foot in the shoe is when I think it actually triggers it to come on. So, that’s really… And that’s something, it’s been around for a while because I think it’s been at least a couple of years since I first heard about it, and it is still around. So, that’s the only thing I got.

Brian Norton:
That’s interesting. We’ve got in our AT lab, we’ve got these GPS enabled insoles, but they’re more for navigation so that you can use an app that connects to your shoe. And if you get to the corner where you need to take a right your right shoe will start to vibrate. I forget the names of those, but they’re just on the tip of my tongue and I can’t pull it out. But anyways-

Josh Anderson:
I can’t remember the name either. But I know what you’re talking about.

Brian Norton:
It’s another… Lechal, L-E-C-H-A-L is what… Lechal insoles I think is what those are called. Interesting, yeah, so what I would love to do is just open this question up to our listeners. If you guys are familiar with apps, or simple phones, cheap, inexpensive phones or other devices that will help with elopement or tracking, real-time GPS tracking that families can use to be able to track folks who might need that, that would be great. I’d love to hear from you. Give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124 or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Look forward to hearing you. Thank you.

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? I think the first thought that I have on this question is time management can mean a whole lot of different things. Just how do you organize things? How do you keep track of whatever you have to do? How do you capture information and make sure that those things get done? I know a lot of the times when I’m working with folks, and the bend that I’ll take towards this answer is a lot of times the folks that I’m working with and students who struggle, a lot of times, they typically need help with prompting and queuing to either start or stop different tasks, or just a little bit more sophisticated way of being able to set alarms for themselves and reminders for themselves to be able to get certain things done.

Brian Norton:
And so, I’ve got a couple of different apps that I just want to throw out to folks. The first one is… I never say this word right and people correct me all the times, but Aida. It’s A-I-D-A Reminders. I know I’m not saying it right because people correct me all the time on that one. But this is an app, A-I-D-A Reminders. It’s an app that provides prompting and queuing for folks who need help starting or stopping tasks. It can provide you different things like voice reminders, or a calendar/list view that can help people easily navigate the app. And so, it’s also easy to set up. There’s another one that’s very similar to the Aida apps, or reminder apps, it’s called Alarmed. I probably ought to just say that word with conviction and just run with it.

Belva Smith:
Brian, my screen reader pronounces it as Aida.

Brian Norton:
Aida. Okay, that sounds better than what I’m saying. So, another one is Alarmed. Alarmed is very close to Aida Reminders. And so, it offers a lot of those same types of things. You can attach pictures to the reminders so that folks can connect and see visually what they’re supposed to be doing. Another one that I’ve also used is Cozy Calendar. They provide you… It’s just kind of like every other calendar. Gmail could be used. Cozy Calendars, what I love about it, it’s a calendar, it’s a shared calendar that will allow let’s say a parent, a guardian, a peer to basically add or edit and assist with the maintenance of adding appointments or reminders. That can be very useful depending on that person’s skill or their time management skills when they’re given information. Having someone else help you manage your calendar, manage your schedule can sometimes be very useful.

Brian Norton:
A lot of times folks will have a home health aide or someone there at school to be able to help them. Again, a peer or guardian there at school to be able to help them, to be able to add information to their calendar. Again, with setting all sorts of different types of reminders. Maybe it’s a couple of weeks before and then a couple of days before and then 24 hours before. Getting multiple reminders to be able to make sure you’re getting things done.

Brian Norton:
Another one I know Josh has talked about before, I think he brought it to the group, but it’s Forest. Forest is a simple visual timer app. And basically, you don’t want to kill the trees. So, Forest is a simple app. You can stay focused on a particular task until it’s done, and it helps you with that focus and attention that you’re giving to whatever project you’re working on. And then another one is MultiTimer. This is one that I find really, really useful, especially if you’re dealing with routines, like a morning routine, or a bedtime routine. Or maybe there’s something that you have to do that has multiple steps or multiple tasks. And it basically allows you to create a series of tasks and set timers for each of those tasks. So you get a visual timer. Not only is it counting down in front of you, but you can also color those timers and you get a colored countdown as well. So, very helpful for prompting and queuing as you work through a series of tasks that need to be done.

Brian Norton:
And the other thing I’ll just throw in here at the end is there’s a lot of things like this. And it’s really all dependent upon the student, what their needs are, what they’re really struggling with. And so, oftentimes, in a lot of these situations, probably every situation that we’ve talked about today, you might consider an evaluation for that particular person so that someone who’s familiar with these devices and tools can sit down with the student to really take into account everything that’s there, help them sort through those things and make an appropriate recommendation so that you’re maybe not spinning your wheels or choosing the wrong product and spending time with it, where you could probably get a better recommendation right off the bat and run with it for those types of things. And so, you might always consider an evaluation for something like that. [crosstalk 00:41:52].

Belva Smith:
I ditto everything you just said. The thing I think is important to keep in mind as you look at these and most of the ones I think that you mentioned, Brian were free, or have a very low cost involved, but it’s simple, simplicity. Because I know I myself don’t like to do those kinds of things because I just find it to be another thing I have to do. Because of course you have to put all that information in there. And then you have to respond to the reminder to do those things. So just keep simplicity in mind as you’re exploring which one might be the best. I personally, I do set reminders, but it’s very simple. Just use the reminder apps on my phone or my watch, or my assistant here at home, but that’s me. And I understand that kids are totally different and may not have access to some of the same technology that I do.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, I like how you mentioned the watch as well. I say this often in my presentations and stuff like that, it’s like I’ve learned to ignore my phone in my pocket. I don’t really pay attention to it as much anymore. But when my watch is buzzing me and nagging me on my wrist, I’m going to pay attention, and I’m going to do… I’m going to at least take a look and see what it’s saying to me and address it. And so, that’s a good piece of time management, too. If you maybe not always look at maybe a companion device, like a watch or something else that would help notify the person that something’s going on.

Belva Smith:
And I’m very much the same way, Brian. If my phone gives me any kind of a notification and it’s across the room I may not get up and go to it right away. But when my watch gives me a vibration or makes a ting, I do think, “Oh, what’s it trying to tell me?” And I don’t know if it’s because I’m not used to being notified by my watch as frequently as I am my phone and I know my phone can wait. But there’s something about that watch and that notification on my wrist that makes me think I better look and see what that is.

Brian Norton:
Yep, absolutely. Well, I’d love to open this up to our listeners. If you have any suggestions for time management apps or devices or tools, let us know. Love to be able to share that with this particular person who’s asked this question. You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124 or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Love to hear from you. Thanks.

Speaker 14:
And now it’s time for the wildcard question.

Brian Norton:
All right, so our next question is the wildcard question. This is a question that Belva has had time to prepare or put together for us, but we’ve had no time to prepare for it. So, Belva, what do you have for us today?

Belva Smith:
Well, my memory is crazy. I think in our previous show, we were asked the question what would we purchase if we had $10,000 to start a new library of technology? So my question today for this wildcard is how do you make the best choices whenever you’re trying to purchase any kind of technology? What kind of research, and how do you go about getting the information to make the decision to buy the best available?

Brian Norton:
Great question. Great question. I know for me, I look at the reviews a lot. I don’t start at the top. I click on the one star or two star reviews, and start reading through those first. A lot of times some of those are just things I’ll just discount and say, “Maybe that’s a one off.” But if there’s any consistency with those types of reviews, then I start to really pay attention to it. But I spent a lot of time with reviews, trying to figure out who’s used it.

Brian Norton:
And then I’ll also consult with you guys, the team, especially when I’m talking about adaptive technology. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by 16 folks on our team who have a lot of experience with this stuff. And so, it’s not anything to be able to throw a question out on our team’s channel or in conversation or through email to say, “Hey, anybody got any suggestions for this type of thing?” And then a shameless plug here. I mean, that’s the whole purpose of our show. If you have questions about certain types of technology, let us know we want we want to try to hopefully provide you guys feedback on that too. But those are just a couple of the ways that I deal with it or start with when I’m looking at considering what to buy.

Belva Smith:
I do… Go ahead, Josh.

Josh Anderson:
I was going to say I do about the same thing. I look at the Google Search 10 best, whatever I’m looking for, and then try to look through five, six different sites, realizing that they could easily…. You can pay those sites, usually, to get yourself up a little bit higher, depending on the site, but usually just try to… But at least they usually give you some good pros and cons, especially if you’re in between two or three different ones trying to figure out exactly what you want.

Josh Anderson:
But Brian, yeah, I read so many reviews. And I tell you, it makes it so hard to make a decision because my wife says I’m a Libra and Libras can’t make decisions anyway. But then when I have to read reviews, and it’s like, “I don’t know what to do.” I mean, not that it’s technology, but I’ve been trying to buy a new grill for almost a year. And I still can’t figure out what the heck I want because I keep reading reviews, and it almost gets you at an impasse. But yeah, that kind of thing. And then, yeah, asking other folks, what experience have you had? That kind of stuff.

Belva Smith:
I like to try to read reviews, but I find myself caught in that rabbit hole. And I usually will just end up, “Oh, gosh, too much information or not enough for what I’m looking for.” So, I give up on the reviews. That’s the written reviews. I will look at YouTube and see if I can find someone who’s doing a live demo of whatever it is that I’m considering. And then like you, Brian, I will also reach out to my co-workers, but I also try to reach out to my clients because the chances of what I’m looking for being a product that maybe one of them have used or have known someone who has used it just to get their insight on it.

Belva Smith:
I know every user’s experience is going to be a little bit different. But then I will also perhaps call the manufacturer and ask questions, make sure that you clarify exactly why you’re buying or you’re looking at buying whatever it is that you’re looking to buy. So, an example, an individual walked into the Apple Store and wanted to buy the, what’s it called? The Apple Pod, the iPod?

Brian Norton:
HomePod.

Belva Smith:
HomePod, and ask the salesperson is this going to play my podcast? Well, of course, his answer was yes, so the guy buys it. And he gets it home and he takes it to his metal warehouse and he connects it to his wifi and he tries to get it to play his podcast. And guess what? It’s not playing his podcast. It’ll play it, it’ll cut out, it’ll play it, it’ll cut out. So the important part of his question that he didn’t ask the gentlemen at Apple was, is this going to work very well in a metal warehouse with the wifi? Because that answer would have been totally different than it’s good to play your podcast. So just ask as many questions as you can possibly think of and make sure that you’re very descriptive with what it is that you want to do with whatever it is.

Belva Smith:
I know we don’t know what we don’t know. So we may not know the right questions to ask but that’s why asking others that may have had the opportunity to use it. And Brian earlier in the last show when we were talking about, again, if you weren’t given that money to start the library you suggested, call on some of the folks around you and find out what it is that is frequently used. So, that’s my best advice. Don’t ever just have someone say to you, oh, yeah, that seems so cool. I’m going to get one. It works great for such and such. Because what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Just try to do your best to get as much information as you can before you make that investment. Sometimes the stuff’s returnable, sometimes it’s not so.

Brian Norton:
Right, right. Great question. Great question. Thanks, Belva for that one. I’d love to open this up to our listeners. If you guys have any feedback or additional information for where you turn when you’re deciding to purchase a product, for finding out more about it, or if it’s going to do what you think it’s going to do. Let us know. I’d love to be able to provide that back 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. I want to give Josh and Belva just the opportunity to say goodbye before we go ahead and end the show today. So, Belva, you won’t say goodbye to everybody?

Belva Smith:
Bye-bye.

Brian Norton:
And also, Josh.

Josh Anderson:
Until next time, everybody.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Thank you guys for listening to our show. Definitely, if you guys have questions, send those our way. Or also, if you have throughout any of the questions that we answered any type of feedback, information, you want to provide. I’d love to be able to provide well-rounded answers to the folks that asked questions. And so, please provide that. We’ll get that into our next few shows. So thank you so much. Have a great week, and we’ll talk to you later. Bye. And it seems like every week we have at least one blooper, so here you go.

Belva Smith:
Yeah, your [inaudible 00:51:59] there were freaking me out.

Brian Norton:
I’m trying to remember what I just said.

Josh Anderson:
Let me see.

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 from Josh Anderson, Belva Smith, and Tracy Castillo. Receives support from Easter Seals Crossroads and the INDATA Project. The show transcript is sponsored by InTRAC, the Indiana Telephone Relay Access Corporation. To learn more about InTRAC go to indianarelay.com. Assistive Technology FAQ is also a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. To find more of our shows go to accessibilitychannel.com.

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