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ATFAQ150 – Q1. Note Taking solutions for students, Q2. Prep and organizing thoughts for writing assignments, Q3. Solutions for low vision in educational environment, Q4. Where to request accommodations in higher ed, Q5. Wildcard: Tips and info for students before heading off to school.

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

ATFAQ150 – Q1. Note Taking solutions for students, Q2. Prep and organizing thoughts for writing assignments, Q3. Solutions for low vision in an educational environment, Q4. Where to request accommodations in higher Ed, Q5. Wildcard: Tips and info for students before heading off to school

 

—– 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.

Brian Norton:
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.

Biran Norton
And now, let’s jump into today’s show.

Brian Norton:
Hello. Welcome to ATFAQ, episode 150. 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 and introduce the folks who are here with me.

Brian Norton:
First is Belva. Belva is the vision team lead for our clinical assistive technology team. Belva, do you want to say hi?

Belva Smith:
Hey, everybody.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. And then next is Tracy. Tracy is the innovative program manager. Tracy, do you want to say hi?

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

Brian Norton:
Excellent. And then the next is Josh. Josh is the manager of our clinical assistive technology team. And so Josh, would you like to say hi?

Josh Anderson:
Hi, everybody.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Excellent. So for new listeners, just want to take a moment and talk about our show, how it works. So we come across feedback and various assistive technology-related questions each week, and then we try to sit around in a panel. We try to answer those the best we can.

Brian Norton:
I mentioned two things. The first thing is we come across the questions. Those are the things that were out there, receiving from you guys. But we’re also getting feedback. And so as we go through the questions that we have today, take notes. And if you have any feedback you would like to provide us that we might be able to get back out to the listeners on our next show, we’d love to be able to share that with them. We realize that we don’t have all the answers, and this is a community effort. So if you’re listening, please chime in and let us know if you’ve got something to contribute to each question.

Brian Norton:
We have a variety of ways for you to provide your feedback and your questions to us. We have a listener line set up. That’s 317-721-7124. We have an email address. It’s Tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. And you can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. Three of the ways that you can get us your information.

Brian Norton:
And if you’re wanting to share our show, just want to give you a couple of opportunities. Pretty much anywhere you can find a podcast, you can find our shows. If you go to iTunes, you go to our website EasterSealsTech.com, this is one of three shows that we put on. We have another one called AT Update, which is a news and information show. We also have Accessibility Minute, which is talking about those tools and devices that help all sorts of folks live more independent. And then we have our, again, the ATFAQ show, which is our question and answer show. I’d love for you to be able to check all of those out.

Brian Norton:
Also, when you’re online in those places that you’re getting your podcasts, leave us a comment, give us a like. Want to be able to share that with other folks, and that just helps us be able to spread the word about the different things that we are doing here at INDATA and with our assistive technology division.

Brian Norton:
All right. So our first question is all related to school. In fact, the rest of our questions today are going to be related to school. And so as many folks know, it’s back to school time, whether you’re a college student, you’re headed back in the next couple of weeks, or you’re a high school student. And some here in Indiana, a lot of our high school students have already started back. But I know in other states, they have later schedules for school.

Brian Norton:
And so we wanted to spend a little bit of time in this episode tackling some really true frequently asked questions that we get all the time on our show. And so we just wanted to go back through some of these. And so again, it’s back to school time. Thought we could focus on questions and topics that students and parents might be thinking as they or their children go back to school.

Brian Norton:
And so the first question we’re going to throw out to the group is about note taking. And so specifically, capturing information, we know that that’s such an important thing to do well in school. And so a question that we get often here on ATFAQ is from people interested in learning about note taking options. So people often find it difficult to listen and write notes at the same time. And I know something that we look at oftentimes with our college students, because that’s primarily who we work with in our clinical program … We have another organization here in Indiana that works in K12. But they always have difficulty with note taking.

Brian Norton:
And so when you guys get that question, what are some different tools that we might have folks look into?

Josh Anderson:
I can start on this one, just so I can jump in before Belva.

Belva Smith:
Oh, that’s so funny, because I was so hoping you were going to be here, because I was like, “This is Josh’s category.”

Josh Anderson:
So yes, this is a huge bubble. And really, there’s a lot of different accommodations that all really focus on that capturing of information, and it’s really on just what works best for you, what you’re comfortable using. What’s nice is almost all of them have some sort of either free trial and/or very inexpensive versions.

Josh Anderson:
So the first one and that’s … AudioNote is a very good one. I want to say AudioNote’s 10 bucks, maybe 12 bucks. Who knows? I haven’t looked in a minute. So for all I know, it’s subscription and costs 10 bucks a month now. But usually, I know there’s at least a free version of it that you can use to start off with.

Josh Anderson:
But what it does is it records everything that’s said in the room. It works on a Windows computer, a Mac, an iPad, an Android phone, an iPhone, all those different kinds of things. It’s going to record everything that’s said, and then you can type notes while you’re working. And it will link whatever you type to that moment in time of your recording.

Josh Anderson:
So if you think back in the old days, and God, I feel old when I say that, you had a little tiny tape recorder. And if you were real fancy, you had a tape recorder where you could mark the tapes. So you could actually go back into it. Otherwise, you’re listening an hour and half lecture to try to get information from it.

Josh Anderson:
With this, you just go back to whatever you typed, click on it, touch it, whatever kind of interface you’re using, and you go to that point in the recording. So if you’re good at it, you really and truthfully just have to make a tick mark, a one, a two, a three, maybe a star or something. Usually, when I’m training folks to use it, I say, “If they say it’s going to be on the test, type the word test so you know to go back to that part and study or just a heading of what it is.”

Josh Anderson:
And it’s great because you can take that hour and a half worth of information and go back and just listen to the important parts whenever you’re studying. Plus, you’re actually paying attention in class. You’re not sitting there focusing on trying to take notes, trying to make sure I get all the important stuff, trying to write down everything.

Josh Anderson:
Another accommodation that’s good is one that’s called Glean. It was called Sonocent Audio Note Taker up until about now. But I don’t remember exactly when the change went. But Glean’s the same kind of concept. It’s just a little bit bigger. It actually gives you a visual representation of the audio. So if you think the audio shows up, let’s say as boxes. So every time there’s a pause, there’s a little break in the box. So you can actually, while you’re listening to the professor, to the teacher, to whomever, you can mark them as important, as review, as … If it’s a concept that you’re just like, “Oh, God. He talked for 30 minutes about that. I have no idea what it is,” you can mark the whole thing as, “Look over it again. Look over it again.”

Josh Anderson:
You can also import your PowerPoints into it. So you can actually have what they’re talking about go with each slide, as well as take notes at the same time and have those linked in just the same way AudioNotes. So it’s a little bit bigger. It’s a little bit more of an all encompassing kind of tool.

Josh Anderson:
For some students, this has been an amazing accommodation. For others, it’s almost too much for them if you think about it. They want something a little simpler and something that’s going to be a little bit easier to use.

Josh Anderson:
Those are the two big ones. There’s other ones out there. There’s Notability. Notability’s only for Apple products, so iPads, MacBooks, iPhones. It’s got some of the same features as AudioNote, as well as a few other cool ones. Also, with AudioNote, I did forget you can take a picture of the board or the overhead or something like that and put that into your notes as well.

Josh Anderson:
Another accommodation that we used a whole lot in the past was the Livescribe Echo Pen. Just in preparation for this, I did look. You can’t find them anywhere. So I don’t 100% know if that’s an accommodation that will even be coming back, which is unfortunate, because for some folks, having that tactile, having that actual thing in their hand, they don’t want to have to have their computer with them or their tablet or their phone out all the time, because sometimes, yeah, it’s really great. Yeah, AudioNote works great. But well, a friend just text me and I just got a notification for this and I just got this. So it turns into more of a distraction and can get you away from things if you’re not disciplined enough to just keep AudioNote or whatever you’re using open and go back.

Josh Anderson:
But, yeah. So all those are good. But yeah, that’s a huge problem for anyone. I can definitely tell you it is for me as well, just because I have notes that are in the notes app on my iPhone that are in one note and that are in random pieces of paper strewn about my entire office that, when you can’t find your notes, don’t remember what you put them in, they’re not good notes either.

Josh Anderson:
So …

Belva Smith:
He’s joshing you guys. Oh, Josh is joshing you. He does not have notes thrown about his office. His office is [crosstalk 00:10:12]. No, it’s very organized. You must have [crosstalk 00:10:15].

Josh Anderson:
You should see the drawer, Belva. There’s a drawer of despair, I call it. It’s where great ideas go to die and hopefully be found eventually.

Belva Smith:
But this is an interesting question, and I promise you, if you put 10 professionals in the same room and ask this question to them, you would probably get a variety of different answers, because I really, truly believe what you choose to use for your note taking really has a whole lot to do with what works for you.

Belva Smith:
I usually start, because I actually did just have this question in an evaluation last week, but I usually start with, “What are you using? Do you have a computer? Do you have an iPad? Do you have a Mac?” And then let’s go with free first. And if free doesn’t meet our needs or is too complicated for whatever reason, then we start looking at doing the purchasing. Actually, the iPad’s notepad … Isn’t that what it’s called, Note [crosstalk 00:11:26].

Josh Anderson:
Just called Notes.

Belva Smith:
That’s actually, if you Google it, that pulls up as one of the number one note taking apps. Same with your Windows environment, OneNote also very, very popular. Now, OneNote used to just be a step above the Sticky Notes [crosstalk 00:11:49].

Tracy Castillo:
Oh yeah.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 4:
Yeah.

Tracy Castillo:
Also one I use, and you can [crosstalk 00:11:53].

Belva Smith:
When I first heard OneNote, I thought, “Oh, that’s Sticky Notes,” because I hadn’t looked at it in so long. But no, it’s really developing.

Tracy Castillo:
Oh, you mean it’s like the old Sticky Notes that you could have the widget on your [crosstalk 00:12:07].

Belva Smith:
Yeah, that’s the way [crosstalk 00:12:08] I remember OneNote to be. But that was a while back. So-

Tracy Castillo:
No, it’s a lot better. That’s the one I use. That’s the one I … Actually, I’m reading from it right now. So it’s a good app.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. Yeah.

Josh Anderson:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And I guess I did forget, if you’re in a college environment, a note taker, another student who takes notes. And that’s not always perfect. They don’t always maybe get the information that you want. But it’s an accommodation that’s been around a long time. It gives jobs to other college students, and it’s somebody there to take your notes for you. So that’s always a great accommodation as well.

Belva Smith:
And I agree with you, Josh. And I also usually recommend a note buddy.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah.

Belva Smith:
If you’ve got somebody that’s in the same class that you’re in and you know that they’re a good student and you’re a good student, just ask once a week or something, “Hey, could I see your notes from Tuesday? Here’s my notes from Tuesday.” And just see what they did compared to what you did.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah.

Belva Smith:
Because again, it’s like putting 10 people in the same room and taking notes. The notes I take are going to be very … Of course, my notes would probably not be helpful for anyone but me. But yeah, just having a note buddy is also a good idea.

Belva Smith:
I think any one application that’s going to allow you different input methods. You don’t want one that’s just going to allow you, for example, to type. You want to be able to capture your information in a variety of methods, because sometimes it might be that you need to just take a quick recording. Sometimes, it might be that you just want to grab your Apple pencil or your stylus or whatever and write something real quick.

Josh Anderson:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Belva Smith:
So having more than one input option, I think, is important.

Josh Anderson:
Well, and Belva, you brought up a good point there. So if you think about math class, trying to type down notes of what happens in math class is almost impossible.

Belva Smith:
Right.

Josh Anderson:
Whereas if you have a stylus or even your finger, you can write four plus four equals eight or something much easier than you can try to find all those icons on your keyboard.

Belva Smith:
Right.

Josh Anderson:
So, yeah. Good point.

Belva Smith:
I also think being able to capture a picture if the instructor’s got something up on the white board, or do they even use those overhead things anymore? I think they do.

Josh Anderson:
The overhead projector?

Belva Smith:
Yeah.

Brian Norton:
Not a lot.

Josh Anderson:
I don’t think so [crosstalk 00:14:25], but I swear they’re still sitting somewhere in the corner of every classroom.

Belva Smith:
I know, right?

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. Yeah.

Belva Smith:
But yeah, having a way to capture a pic of some information also. And again, if you’re using a tablet, a laptop, a phone, you’ve got that. That option’s available no matter what device you’ve got.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. Something just hits me too. Belva, you mentioned it when you said, “What works for you?” I think for me, what I’ve noticed over the course of several years is I’ll start my note taking method, if you will, and I’ll start with something. And then a year later, I’m doing something different. And a year later, I’m doing something different. I think it takes time. Just takes time to figure out what works best.

Brian Norton:
And not every situation is going to lend itself to maybe the way that you’re comfortable with taking notes. I think taking notes is one of those things where it’s all about capturing information. If you can’t capture information, you’re not really taking effective notes.

Brian Norton:
And so Josh, I think you mentioned it. The question also alludes to it. It really is difficult to listen and take notes simultaneously, because what I find is when I’m taking notes, I’m not listening, and when I’m listening, I’m not taking notes. And so I’m not doing a very good job of capturing information.

Brian Norton:
I wanted to throw out just a couple things, just a couple notes. Josh, you mentioned AudioNote. The thing I love about that program is it’s cross-platform. So you can use it anywhere. You can use it on a Mac. You can use it on Windows machine. You can use it on a tablet. You can use it on your phone. It works just about with any application. I love that, that [crosstalk 00:16:04].

Josh Anderson:
It’s also pretty easy to master. Really, the hardest thing is, if you have a ton of notes saved, figuring out which ones are which if you don’t label them. That’s the hardest thing. Other than that, it’s a pretty simple interface and it’s pretty easy to get the hang of. And really, it’s not something else you have think of.

Brian Norton:
Right.

Josh Anderson:
You try it a few times, you probably got it.

Brian Norton:
Right. And Belva, I love when you said where do you start, start with free. Oftentimes, I think, especially in assistive technology world, I know our team works really hard not to automatically just jump to a piece of technology, because you don’t always have to do that. You can start with free, a pen and paper. Some people are just going to be more comfortable with a regular ballpoint pen and piece of paper. They’re going to learn more. In fact, studies show by using a pen and paper, you’re learning that kinesthetic way of being able to write and is really helping someone retain information better than maybe typing on a keyboard and other ways.

Brian Norton:
And so maybe a ballpoint pen and a piece of paper is the way to start. And always looking at what’s familiar, I love that comment as well.

Brian Norton:
The other thing I would throw out to this particular question and for folks that struggle with this is talk to your office of disability services at the university. They may already have supports available, and they could start plugging you in. Maybe they also have technology available to you that you can borrow from them. A lot of them will offer you scribes. It’s not the most independent way and there’s a lot of issues with having someone scribe your notes. Most importantly, what they think is important may not be the things that you think were important when you were listening. And so you may not have as complete of notes as what you thought you might get. But it’s an option and it’s something to maybe take advantage of, in addition to having some of these tools that Josh mentioned, Belva mentioned, Tracy mentioned as well.

Brian Norton:
Another one I’ll throw out there that I find really helpful too, in the vein of Sonocent or that Glean software that Josh mentioned, but ClaroPDF is also a really good … ClaroPDF Pro. Let me say that. There’s a pro version. It’s about $10 or $11. It works on tablet. You can also put it on your smartphone. It’s a pretty good app, gives you lots of different tools, allows you to be able to record video and implement that or put that directly onto your note as well as pictures, as well as handwriting, as well as text notes. Just another solution to be able to look at.

Brian Norton:
And then with all of these things, I think it’s important not to just start downloading a bunch of apps. Maybe you want to borrow something. We have iPads in our loan library. I know a lot of the AT Act programs across the country have loan libraries as well. So being able to identify who your local library is, you can go to EasterSealsTech.com/states to be able to figure out who your local project is or local program is. Contact them. See if you can borrow something. Check it out for a little bit.

Brian Norton:
A lot of these will also give you, I don’t know, 30-day demos. You can download software and then try it out for a period of time. Don’t just automatically jump in and start buying and downloading the pay for apps or the add-in … the additional money that you pay for the app add-ins if you want.

Brian Norton:
And so just something to consider, some of those questions there as well.

Belva Smith:
I think this is a good time to mention this. As far as I know, if you purchase an app from the app store and then decide 48 hours later that you really don’t like that app, you can’t return that app. You don’t get your money back. Is that true?

Brian Norton:
True. Yeah.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. I’m [crosstalk 00:19:53] pretty sure.

Belva Smith:
Now, I think with the Android platform, at least a couple of years ago, I think you did have a small window there that you could return or get a refund on an app. But I’m not sure that that’s true anymore. So that might be a good reason, as Brian mentioned, to not just start downloading. So definitely don’t just start purchasing apps, because even though it’s only four dollars or whatever, you do that three or four times, that’s a pretty good amount of money. So it is best if you can get a hold of your local technology library and see if you can borrow, or talk to a friend that’s got it so you can feel how it’s going to work for you before you make that investment.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Well, hey, I’d just love to open this up to our listeners. If you have feedback, maybe you have a different note taking tool or methodology that you use, there’s a lot of different ways that folks go about capturing information and taking notes, love to hear from you. If you want to send us those, you can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124. Or send us an email at Tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. Certainly would love to hear from you. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
All right. So our next question or second question related to school, we receive questions about helping students organize their thoughts in preparation for some writing assignments. This could mean helping them make an outline or a mind map or simply helping someone just get their thoughts down on paper quickly. So looking for apps or software suggestions for people who struggle with, again, organizing their thoughts in preparation for assignments.

Josh Anderson:
So I can go for a couple of different ones here in all the different things you’re talking about. Excuse me. For mind mapping or outlining, just search mind mapping. There’s tons of different ones. Depending on your user interface that you use and how much you actually want to use it, there’s free ones available online. I don’t remember the names of all of them. Coogle, I think, is one, C-O-O-G-L-E. I don’t even know if that one’s still around.

Josh Anderson:
I use one on my iPad called Inspiration Maps. It’s nice. I think it’s 10 bucks. I use the free version, because I just make one and then delete it, and then make a new one and then delete it. And [crosstalk 00:22:24].

Tracy Castillo:
Wow. Not anymore.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, I know. Yeah. Well-

Tracy Castillo:
Thanks.

Josh Anderson:
… it annoys you about 25 times to pay the 9.99. So I’d almost pay it just to not have the thing pop up all the time. But what I like about it and what a lot of them can do this as well is that you make your mind map, and your mind map has your central idea, your little branch that comes out, and idea off that branches that come off it. You touch a button and it turns that right into an outline that you can then print off and look at as you’re actually trying to make what you’re trying to do.

Josh Anderson:
If mind mapping is something that really helps you or that you do a lot, there’s a program called MindView from Matchware. It’s much more robust. You can put pictures in it. You can put information. You can put the things … your cited references in it. And then you can actually basically press a button and have it turn into a PowerPoint presentation. You can press a button and have it put all your information into Word documents. So really, you’re writing your whole paper in an outline/mind map kind of form.

Josh Anderson:
It’s a little bit more expensive. I think it’s on a yearly basis now. But it is something that may be offered by the school depending. So as Brian said earlier, definitely talk with disability services in case that’s available.

Josh Anderson:
Another thing that’s really nice about the Matchware MindView is that its interface looks just like Microsoft Word. So you’re already used to using it if you’ve ever used Word or anything like that. So it makes it a little bit easier.

Josh Anderson:
And there’s tons of these. I’m not anywhere touching on all of them. And for some folks, just writing out the outline on paper works really well. There’s other ones that are pretty easy to do that, even just a Word document. As far as getting your thoughts out on paper, I recommend dictation is the best way, whether that’s a Dragon. If you’re already a Dragon user, it’s a great way to do. Just dictating to your phone, your computer, your tablet, whatever it is that you’re using, turn on dictation and just get those ideas out of your head. You can talk faster than you can write, faster than you can type maybe. I’ve seen some people type pretty fast. Maybe not.

Josh Anderson:
But anyway, then you’ve at least got them out. You can go back and figure out which ones were good ideas and which ones were not. I do that all the time. So I get lots od ideas of things we should do as a department, as a team, as other things. Most of them are junk, but some of them are actually pretty much diamonds in the rough. So it’s great to actually get those out, put them in whatever. Open up a notes app, open up something, and just talk through those ideas. Get them out, and then they’re there.

Josh Anderson:
And then from there, you can make outlines and mind maps and stuff. But as far as just getting your ideas out, it’s great if you can write them down. But you don’t always have pen and paper. You’re like me, you don’t know where you put that paper after you wrote that great idea down on it. If it’s in your phone or on your tablet, on your computer, you know where those are. So just open up something, turn on dictation, and get those ideas out as quick as they come.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. I would agree with you. I use an online tool called Bubbl, so B-U-B-B-L.us at times. I also have a program on my computer. I’m a Mac user. So I use something called SimpleMind Pro. It’s a mind mapping.

Brian Norton:
But to be honest with you, one of the things I do with all of this getting my thoughts down on paper as I prepare for assignments … I’m doing a lot of that recently, grant applications and other types of things. I’ve learned that I don’t view things in a mind map … I don’t use mind maps the way … Well, they don’t really work for me very well. I’m a much better linear, A, B, C, D, E, F, G bullet pointed list kind of person. And then once I get things down on a bullet pointed list, I start moving things around, categorizing things, just more so in a list.

Brian Norton:
And I think with that being said, I just think for folks who struggle with this, writing can be really challenging. There’s a lot to it. It takes time. It takes practice. It’s not always going to be easy. I’ve been doing it for a while. And I still struggle at times, where to start, what to do.

Brian Norton:
And so I think oftentimes just throwing things down on paper, whatever it is, thoughts, just start throwing it down on paper. Once you get a brain dump, if you will, onto paper, then start moving things around and figuring out what works for you, I think, really works well.

Brian Norton:
And a great way to do that is what Josh mentioned, is dictation, whether that’s a pay for program like Dragon. But most computers have dictation already built into it. Windows 10 does, as I’m sure Windows 11. We all love that topic these days. Windows 11 will. Mac has that built in. Your tablet has that built in. Your phone has that stuff built in. Just get things down on paper, and then deal with them later once you’ve had this opportunity to do a brain dump.

Brian Norton:
I think a lot of times folks struggle just starting that process of letting everything just flow out. What are you thinking about? What are some thoughts? Doesn’t matter how eloquent those thoughts are. Just get them down on paper, and you can expand upon those or expound upon those once it’s down on paper. So-

Tracy Castillo:
Right. Well, I don’t use paper. You know what I use? I use a white board. So I bought myself a whole lot of different color dry erase markers. And I’m in school, so I relate to this a little bit. I’m taking notes. So I make my notes, and then if I like the way it looks and I tweak it in the way I want, and it’s real easy, because it’s dry erase. It’s not magic marker. It wouldn’t be easy if it was magic marker. But it’s dry erase. So I can make it look however I want it to look. And then when I’m done, I snap a picture of it. And there you go. And then I erase it and I go on to my next section.

Tracy Castillo:
But those are … My recordings are like … My classwork is all off of recordings, so I can stop and pause and take my notes as I need, and then I can rewind if I need to, because I’m in a remote classroom. Sometimes, you are in a remote classroom and you have a little time to do a little bit of decorating on your notes.

Tracy Castillo:
But I’ve tried to use the mind mapping, and I think I’m like you, Brian. I almost called you Alvin. I don’t like them. I get the you write a word down and you circle it and you make a line to something else, and you circle it. Well, every … Yeah. It doesn’t work for me. I like my stuff to be more linear.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. I think folks have to choose stuff that works for them, that puts them in the best possible situation. And what’s right for one person is maybe not right for the next person. And so it’s all going to be individualized at that point.

Brian Norton:
So I do think one of things, for folks who aren’t familiar with mind mapping, it is that bubbles. There’s a central point, and then there are bubbles that reach out in and around it to give it more … There’s more information around that central point, what do you want to talk about with regard to that central point.

Tracy Castillo:
Exactly.

Brian Norton:
A lot of the software, Josh, you mentioned Inspiration. That software allows you put pictures and other kinds of things next to or in or make the bubble a picture of an animal or those types of things. I think that can be really important for some folks, depending on what their disability is. If they have difficulty just with standard text on the screen, you can color code the bubbles. You can actually make them images or pictures that help bring about some more information about a specific point or topic that you want to talk about in and around whatever the central topic of your paper’s going to be.

Brian Norton:
And so there’s a lot to mind mapping. And it does work really well for folks. It’s just you got to do what’s good for you. So …

Tracy Castillo:
So that was some high tech and low tech answers to getting your thoughts on paper.

Brian Norton:
That’s right. That’s right. Well, hey, I’d love to open this up to our listeners if you guys have any feedback or solutions that you guys use. Maybe it’s a particular program. Maybe it’s a preference towards one or the other, more of an outline form or a mind mapping. Let us know what your thoughts are on being able to get your thoughts down on paper in preparation for writing assignments.

Brian Norton:
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 third question is about solutions for students who have low vision and helping them fully participate in class and complete assignments. Some common issues would be viewing and reading documents or handouts in class, also seeing what the teacher is doing up in front of class, whether that’s using a white board, what they’re talking about, if they’re holding something up, what are they holding up. Perhaps moving around from class to class, that’s certainly something that you’ll have to do in higher ed. But I know a lot of high schools and junior high schools are moving to block schedules where you go from class to class. Sometimes, moving equipment around is difficult.

Brian Norton:
Any solutions for common issues or other things like this that might impact students with low vision.

Belva Smith:
Okay. Who’s going to go first? Well, I’d recommend glasses [crosstalk 00:32:16].

Tracy Castillo:
I know. I have an idea. Your assistive technology app may have this. We have it in our library, is the OrCam Read, which is a pen that you can scan your paper and have it read to you. And I believe it’s hooked up with your headphones or however. Belva’s shaking her head. She knows what I’m talking about. Yeah. Have you [crosstalk 00:32:43]?

Belva Smith:
… I know what you’re talking about. I think this is a big question, too. And again, I want to say look in your backpack and see what do you already have that might be able to accommodate, because again, most college students are going to have a tablet or a computer already. And of course, with a tablet or even a smartphone, there are some fantabulous apps that are available that are free, some that have a low cost with them.

Belva Smith:
I say to all of my clients who are visually impaired or blind, first question is, “Do you have a smartphone in your pocket? Because if you do, you’ve got the tool that you need to get access to any of those printed handouts or some even handwritten handouts that are handed to you last minute.”

Belva Smith:
Prior to some of these fantabulous apps, that could be a real block for an individual, because a handout is of no importance to them. But Seeing AI is a great one. Josh, I know you know the one that’s comparable that’s for the Android environment. Those would be low cost, probably already in your backpack or your pocket options. There are some more expensive options, like some of the head worn google things that are available, glasses, whichever you choose to call it.

Belva Smith:
But when I say more expensive, I think probably you’re looking no less than probably three grand to get one of the head worn devices. IrisVision is a pretty popular one. And these aren’t something that you’re going … You’re not going to be able to put it on and walk down the hallway with it, but you can put it on and sit in your lecture hall or classroom or whatever. NuEyes Pro is also another pretty popular one.

Belva Smith:
And then I just … In preparing for this answer, I just got shocked when I’d seen the cost of eSight now. eSight is another head worn device. And [crosstalk 00:35:15].

Tracy Castillo:
It was pretty pricey before. Did it go up?

Belva Smith:
Yeah. Well, no. It was like 10 grand when it first came out.

Tracy Castillo:
Right.

Belva Smith:
And now, it’s down to six [crosstalk 00:35:23].

Brian Norton:
Oh, hey.

Tracy Castillo:
Discounts.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. They’ve gone way down on their cost. But now, these are not something that you can say, “Oh, yeah. My friend was telling me about the eSight and it works great for them and they love. And so that’s what I need.” That’s not necessarily true. These are very … It’s like wearing a pair of glasses. They’re very personalized, very individualized.

Tracy Castillo:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Belva Smith:
So it’s definitely something where you want to make sure that you’re being able to demonstrate it. Demonstrate it? Demo it [crosstalk 00:35:58].

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah. But they can do some really neat stuff.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. But you want to make sure. I remember when we first got the eSight or first heard about it. I was so excited about it. Brought it home and was so excited to share with Todd, “Hey, look at this cool new piece of …” And you know he could see with it? Nada.

Brian Norton:
Nothing.

Tracy Castillo:
Oh.

Belva Smith:
Nothing. That’s disappointing. So don’t ever get your hopes up on those things until you’ve had the opportunity to try them out. And those are most expensive options.

Tracy Castillo:
Right.

Belva Smith:
It probably would be a little complicated to get VR to approve it for most situations, because there are cheaper alternatives that can do the same thing.

Tracy Castillo:
Right.

Belva Smith:
But apps and some sort of ability to be able to read your printed documents, but also really important to be able to read handwriting, because that’s a really … Even though they’re not teaching it in school anymore, it still is a way that we do communicate. And having access to be able to read if the teacher’s written a note on your paper or anything like that is important.

Tracy Castillo:
Right.

Josh Anderson:
I think you bring up a good point there, Belva, because I remember even [inaudible 00:37:25] doing this eight years ago or whenever the heck I moved to our department. If you were going to be in class, you needed a wheeled cart to bring your CCTV with you so that you could possibly see the board or see anything on your desk. And now, really your phone or your iPad can do a lot of that.

Josh Anderson:
And in fact, I see people who aren’t visually impaired taking pictures of a presentation and blowing it up so they can see it better in front of them on their iPad and not because of even a visual impairment. It’s just easier to get that information, and they’ve got a picture of it to go back to later.

Josh Anderson:
And I think you also have to look at it, I think we’ve always done this, especially in clinical, is do I want to wear a pair of VR glasses in class? Because then people might look. Some people are jerks. Let’s not lie. They’re in college. They’re in work. I don’t think there’s any on this show right now, but I definitely won’t say while Tracy’s here. I’m just kidding, Tracy [crosstalk 00:38:20]. I was kidding. You were just looking around. But I mean [crosstalk 00:38:22].

Tracy Castillo:
I know. I’m always afraid you’re going to point me out.

Belva Smith:
And let’s just face the fact.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah.

Belva Smith:
A lot of those virtual glasses or googles [crosstalk 00:38:33].

Tracy Castillo:
Cool.

Belva Smith:
They’re hot.

Brian Norton:
Yeah.

Belva Smith:
They get hot on your head.

Tracy Castillo:
Oh. That’s [crosstalk 00:38:37].

Brian Norton:
Yeah. They get hot. They only last a few hours at a time. And you’re only going to need them for really seeing the board. And how much information’s being put on that board? And really, with a lot of those apps now, even if it’s handwritten on there, you can snap a picture of it and have it read back to you.

Tracy Castillo:
Right.

Brian Norton:
Plus, if you talk to disability services beforehand, some professors will give you their notes prior. So you can just have those [crosstalk 00:39:03].

Belva Smith:
That’s what I [crosstalk 00:39:04]. That’s what I [crosstalk 00:39:04] my folks to do.

Brian Norton:
… as well. So there’s other things there. And it’s really … it’s getting the maximum benefit and the minimal amount of stuff, because you don’t want to have to carry … And I had a conversation on ATFA with a gentleman that, yeah, had moved over here from another country and 25 years ago was going to college. And he’s like, “I’m amazed I can walk because I had so much stuff in my backpack to try to be able to do anything.” He’s like, “My phone does 10 times more than any of that stuff.” I [crosstalk 00:39:33].

Tracy Castillo:
… crazy.

Belva Smith:
I remember years ago when I was first doing this, too. I did. I did have a college student who literally had a utility cart that we had the CCTV. Every room that that person went into, they not only had to take that cart with them, but they also had to be next to an outlet, because it wasn’t battery. It had to be plugged in.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah.

Belva Smith:
That was a pain and also quite embarrassing.

Brian Norton:
Sure.

Belva Smith:
That’s something that just wouldn’t have to happen nowadays.

Tracy Castillo:
No.

Brian Norton:
And in talking about that, one of the things I’ll just throw out is a nice stand if you’re going to be scanning in documents and stuff, and the ScanJig Pro is a great one. It’s plastic. It’s very, very lightweight. It fits in a backpack pretty easily. In fact, you can pack it up with papers and stuff, just because it’s hollow on the inside. But it’s great especially … In fact, Belva’s got one in her hands right now. It’s [crosstalk 00:40:33].

Belva Smith:
I bought myself one.

Brian Norton:
Yeah.

Belva Smith:
I bought this.

Brian Norton:
Oh, it’s great. And they weight, what? All of about, I don’t know, six, eight ounces. They’re [crosstalk 00:40:42].

Belva Smith:
Yeah, hardly nothing.

Brian Norton:
It doesn’t weigh hardly anything. And you can stand it right up there on a desk, put your phone or tablet in it, put a document behind it, and just scan away.

Belva Smith:
Yeah.

Brian Norton:
Instead of just trying to hold it over and get a good shot, you just slide the papers behind and it just … It can really work great, but it’s, again, a lightweight, an easy, pretty inexpensive accommodation that can really help with that scanning in all those documents and paperwork.

Tracy Castillo:
And you both brought up a good point. Some of these devices that I think are super cool, yeah, they have their limitations. But you don’t know if it’s going to work for you. It could work. You don’t know. You don’t want to spend the money on it. So you should check into your local state AT Act, and then we could loan you one. You can check it out and see if it works for you. And then you can go ahead and make those decisions of whether or not you want to buy ones for yourself.

Tracy Castillo:
So you can go to EasterSealsTech.com/states to read your state’s AT Act.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. Just thinking back to when I first started this. There was … And Belva, you’ve already touched on some of these old things, and I know you did, Josh, as well. But I just remembered that I used to say, “Here’s all the different types of video magnifiers you can get if you’re low vision. So you can get the desktop versions. Obviously, when you’re moving from class to class, those aren’t good. Those are typically on carts, difficult to travel with. You also can get the near and distance ones,” the ones that had the cameras that flipped up. I don’t even know. Do those make those anymore? I don’t [crosstalk 00:42:18].

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah. Acrobat’s still out there.

Brian Norton:
The Acrobat’s still out there [crosstalk 00:42:21]?

Josh Anderson:
The Merlin. Merlin? DaVinci. The DaVinci’s still out there, isn’t it [crosstalk 00:42:27]?

Belva Smith:
The DaVinci?

Tracy Castillo:
I know about the Acrobat. That one’s really cool. We had a few in our reuse program.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. I [crosstalk 00:42:33].

Belva Smith:
Yeah. There’s a couple of distance viewing ones still out there.

Brian Norton:
Those are really valuable, although it’s still big and little bulky. They’re a flat panel monitor. They’ve got a camera that has an arm that goes above the monitor that you either shoot down at your desk or shoot up at the front of the classroom to be able to see what’s going on. I like those. That used to be a go to for students back in the day. You can get a carrying case.

Brian Norton:
But again, they’re still bulky, heavy, difficult to transport in reality, every day, from class to class all the time. But now, I think you’re right. I think a lot of things are maybe right in your toolkit, whatever you got in your bag. So if you’ve got a tablet with a stand, you just shoot that up at the front of the class and be able to zoom in, zoom out with the built in camera. A lot of those have the magnifier app. Although not as effective as some more traditional video magnifiers, it still offers you high levels of contrast, changing the colors, those types of things. A lot is built in [crosstalk 00:43:34].

Josh Anderson:
And Brian, you made a good point, because it might be important when you get back to have a video magnifier, something with a better camera in the dorm room, the home, whatever it is that you’re living.

Belva Smith:
Absolutely.

Josh Anderson:
But as far as … And don’t think that we’re talking bad about any of these devices, because for some folks it is the accommodation, it is the way to go. We’re just talking about portability, about ease, about things I can take in my six classes I have today all over campus without having to, like Belva said, drag an entire cart behind me or an entourage.

Belva Smith:
Right. And there is absolutely a difference in the need for your work station versus your on-the-go.

Josh Anderson:
For sure.

Belva Smith:
Because yeah, in the classroom, you don’t necessarily maybe have to have all the tools that you would have at your at-home work station. But those tools that are on-the-go can get the job done for you right then. But then when you get ready to sit down and actually dig in and really work on something, having a full size CCTV is definitely probably a better option.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. And I love … When I go out and give talks these days, I often talk about five years ago you used to have to have Batman’s tool belt. You’d have to have something for this and something for that, and then you need a couple other things for this other … You had so many tools that you had to carry around and transport. Well, that’s just not the case these days.

Brian Norton:
You mentioned Seeing AI already as a part of this question. It’s an amazing app. It’s absolutely free. Microsoft made this app. And it’s one of my favorites because it combines things that used to cost quite a bit of money individually. Now, it’s a free app. And it may not be, again, the perfect solution for all the situations. It may not offer all the things that you want it to offer as far as contrast and colors and other kinds of things. But shoot, it does a really good job.

Brian Norton:
And for 80% of the way there while you’re out and about, and you come home and you use the more traditional stuff that’s going to give you a better option, a better access when you get back to the room, absolutely. Maybe having a combination of those types of things is going to be useful.

Brian Norton:
Well, I’d love to just open this up to our listeners. If you have any feedback about traditional common issues that folks with low vision might experience in higher ed or in high school or K through 12, let us know. Love to be able to talk about those things. If you have solutions to some of those issues, love to hear from you on those. 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 … This, again, this is school related. So this is another common question we get here on ATFAQ. And this is for students who are transitioning from high school to some form of higher ed. Often, folks are asking us who they need to be talking to to be able to set up appropriate supports in the higher ed environment.

Brian Norton:
Thoughts and suggestions?

Josh Anderson:
I’ll take first is disability services. Every school has got them. Varying degrees of usefulness, but every school does have them. Sometimes, they have some of the things we’ve talked about today available to students. All you have to do is ask. Sometimes, they’re on first come, first serve basis. So make sure you get in there early.

Josh Anderson:
But also, if you do need a scribe, if you do need a note taker, if you do need extra time on tests or a different testing environment, anything for class, those all have to usually go through that disability services.

Josh Anderson:
And I’ll tell you what. If you’re between a few schools, check out the disability services for the different ones. That might be the deciding factor on them.

Josh Anderson:
And then another way to go is vocational rehabilitation. Really isn’t probably bad to talk about if you need to talk to them. They [crosstalk 00:47:25].

Belva Smith:
Do it early. Don’t wait too long. You want to do it as quickly as you can. The same thing with VR. Do you guys know, does the VR offices still go out to the high schools and talk to the kids while they’re still in high school to introduce themselves and let them know that they are there and how they can be contacted? Because again, contacting disability services for the campus wherever you’re going to be going and VR is something that you would really want to do probably as soon as high school’s over.

Tracy Castillo:
Yes. When you’re filing your FAFSA.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. Because this stuff can take a minute, in all reality. And it pains me every time I have to say this, but unfortunately, due to COVID, some things are taking a little longer than normal. So if you haven’t talked to disability services by now, you’re going to really be behind.

Belva Smith:
And I, believe it or not, did an evaluation just two weeks, and they still have not spoken to disability services at their campus. And I was like, “Oh, you need to do that yesterday. So here’s the phone number.” I Googled it and looked it up. “Here’s the phone number. As soon as I leave, you need to call them.” So-

Brian Norton:
Yes. I’ll just throw a little bit of a warning out there to folks. When you go to your university, depending on its size, again, disability services are what you’re going to find most often. They have a certain office specifically for folks with disabilities where they’re helping folks with accommodations. Depending on the size of the university, college, if you’re going to a private school, you may find assistance in a place called a learning center or something like that. Really, all you should really have to do is talk to your admissions counselor, whoever’s helping you through the admissions process. Talk to them. Say, “Hey, where do I reach out with regard to my disability?” They will put you in touch with the right folks.

Brian Norton:
And I think it’s really super important for students to start early. I can’t stress that enough. If you wait until the last minute to start thinking about where you’re going to go, it can be really challenging, because high school is very different than the way things portray themselves or come across once you get to college. When you’re in high school, you’ve got a system set up around you, the IEP process where there’s regular meetings, the teachers. The school’s looking for folks with disabilities in high school.

Brian Norton:
That is not the case when you get to college. It’s all about self advocacy. You have to be prepared and ready to go out. You’re going to have to self identify a lot of times. You’re going to have to arrange for a meeting or actually have conversations with these folks, either at disability services or with your admissions persons. When you’re with professors, they’re usually pretty helpful. But they’re going to wait for you to initiate that contact. They’re not going to be looking for students who are struggling and asking how they can help most of the time. They’re going to try to be helpful, but that’s not what their main focus is. Their main focus is going to be on educating and teaching content from the course.

Brian Norton:
But if you need assistance, initiate that contact and super, super important. Couple of things I’ll just mention as far as preparation is concerned is know your needs. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. Make sure that you’ve got current documentation from your high school career. You might want to upload those or have those available. Create a file, things like disability documentation, high school records, a copy of your IEP. If you’ve got a 504 plan, make sure you have that. If you have copies of your SAT, ACT, or other evaluation records, those things can be really, really helpful when you’re talking to places like disability services, about what they might be able to do to be able to support you. Having any kind of justification or documentation with regard to those is going to be super important as well.

Brian Norton:
The other thing is I would also … When you’re making decisions, I wouldn’t always just lean into … I think, Josh, you alluded to this. Don’t just choose a school simply because of the number of services they offer. Pick a school you want to go to.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, sure. And I try to just say if you’re between two and they’re the same, [crosstalk 00:51:51].

Tracy Castillo:
Wait a minute. I should have picked the one I wanted to go to?

Brian Norton:
Yeah. You want to be able [crosstalk 00:51:57] to study what you want to study and learn what you want to learn. And don’t just gravitate to one that maybe has more services.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah.

Brian Norton:
Pick one that you really want to go to that has the area of study that you want and most interests you. So to be able to think through those things as well.

Brian Norton:
There are also … I think it’s important to recognize some universities have programs built around disability. So a program here in Indiana is … The University of Indianapolis here in Indiana offers something called the Build Program. And so there are programs and there are support services within the university system.

Brian Norton:
And so if you find a school that has a program, those programs are going to offer a lot more services than what a support service is. Most of the time, disability offices offer support services. But if you have a program, they’re going to provide some more in depth services and accommodations. You’re going to find that not all of the colleges offer these types of things. A lot of times, they’re going to have some additional costs in addition to your tuition. But they could provide things like one-on-one tutoring, sessions with a learning disability specialist or someone who’s going to be able to specifically help you with whatever your need is within the class. And so think about those two. Recognize that there are programs built around disability, that there are also support services as well, depending on the university that you choose.

Tracy Castillo:
Hey [crosstalk 00:53:24]. You want to go? You can go. You can go first [crosstalk 00:53:27].

Josh Anderson:
Go ahead, Tracy. go ahead.

Tracy Castillo:
Okay. Yeah. So Brian, I just want to also mention, you said it once, you said it twice, but I want to say it one more time. You need to know that you should self advocate when you are at these schools to say something, even if it’s just to the teacher.

Tracy Castillo:
I know of a chick, me. I was in these algebra classes and the tests, the words, they were too close together. The spacing on the paper was too close together, and then … So I just asked the teacher, “Hey, everything’s kind of blending together. Can you expand the test?” And she did. And it made it a lot easier. Now, all I did was ask the teacher.

Tracy Castillo:
But [crosstalk 00:54:06].

Josh Anderson:
And Tracy, I’m glad you actually said that, because that’s what I was going to say, too, about talking to disability services. At school, let’s say you got an extra time and half on tests. If you talk to disability services, then disability service will help make sure that you get that. If you just tell your professor, “I need time and half on tests,” they have absolutely no obligation to tell you yes.

Tracy Castillo:
Oh.

Josh Anderson:
They can say, “No, you take it in the same amount of time as everyone else.”

Tracy Castillo:
Oh. Yeah.

Josh Anderson:
So you have to have that as an accommodation, because otherwise every student’s going to walk up there and ask for time and half on tests.

Tracy Castillo:
That makes sense.

Josh Anderson:
Because if they gave it to you, they got to give it to everybody. So if you don’t have that as an accommodation, so do make sure. Don’t just assume that you’re going to get that. So make sure that you do talk to disability services early.

Josh Anderson:
But Tracy, you’re right. If it’s something like that where it’s the formatting, something of that sort, talk to them. A lot of professors are going to be … because that’s a mouse click. You know what I mean?

Tracy Castillo:
Exactly.

Josh Anderson:
They change something on it and can easily fix that for you. So, but just make sure. Try to have those accommodations, especially for those harder ones, in place, because otherwise, the teacher might just say, “It’s too bad, so sad.”

Brian Norton:
I’m going to go back and just reiterate one more time. Start early. You can’t start early enough with this stuff. If you’re contacting disability services in July before you start in August, most likely they’re not going to have time to be able to set up the supports that you need before school starts at the end of August.

Brian Norton:
And so start early. Be thinking about higher ed. Be thinking about college, university settings before it’s too late, because it’s really hard. We’re all about assistive technology here at Easter Seals Crossroads. We talk a lot, obviously, assistive technology frequently asked questions. It’s really hard for students to start college, to be able to get used to a new environment, a new housing environment, whether they’re living at home or maybe they’re a resident at the school. They’re learning a whole new pattern and a whole new schedule. They’re getting lots of school work. It’s hard to learn all of that and be able to handle all of that as well as learn your technology at the same time.

Brian Norton:
And so not only with the technology piece, but also with any supports that the school can offer you, you want to make sure that they have time to be able to set things up, for you to be able to ask the right questions, for them to be able to provide you the right answers, and all of these things.

Brian Norton:
And so be as early as you can. But that’s my last piece of advice there. And so I’ll just open this up to our listeners. If you have any feedback, if you’re a parent and you’ve transitioned a student, maybe your student has a disability and they’re going to college, tell us what your experience is, the question of, “What do you know now that you wish you had known then?” Please let us know what those are. We’d love to hear from you on that.

Brian Norton:
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.

Speaker 14:
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 a question that Belva’s had time to think of, that we have had no time to really do any research on. So Belva, what do you got for us today?

Belva Smith:
So in line with all of the questions that we’ve had today, I just wanted to … because I know Tracy just told us. And Brian, I know you, too, are in a situation where you’re getting ready to have that drop-off day. Now, I had my drop-off day 20 years ago. So it’s been a while. But I do still remember what it was like.

Belva Smith:
So the question that I have for you, as a parent, what are some of the things that you do want to make sure that you discuss with your college bound young adult before you take them and drop them off and know that you probably aren’t going to see them for a couple of months?

Tracy Castillo:
Give it your best effort, and that’s all you can give it.

Brian Norton:
So here’s a couple of things from my … that we’ve been helping Addie. So I have a daughter. Her name’s Addie. She’s going to school. We drop her off. Well, by the time this airs, which will be Monday the … I don’t even know what … What’s today? The 16th. So Monday the 23rd, we will drop her off on the 21st. So we will have just dropped her off.

Brian Norton:
Some of the things that we started early with her, really preparing her for, is opening up a checking account, helping her understand how to keep a bank account, how to prepare for those types of things. As far as the college experience, she is so ready to leave and to be an adult. We’ve just tried to give her opportunities to be an adult, to make her own decisions, to not require her to be with us all the time. She gets to set her own schedule.

Brian Norton:
I know in certain situations, that might be a little dangerous, depending on who your child is. But we felt like we could do that with Addie, my oldest. And so just giving them an opportunity to be an adult, realizing that they can make some poor choices or they can make wise choices when they get there. And so just coaching her up on what those wise choices would be. Doesn’t matter where you go, you can find bad choices or good choices no matter where you find yourself. And so just making sure she was prepared for that stuff.

Brian Norton:
And then really, from our perspective, it was also just what’s the university experience. We wanted to get to know the university just as well as she does. And so we spent time in the admissions process talking to teachers, talking to counselors, talking to … so that we know those resources just as much as she does. And so if there are questions or there are struggles that come up, we can point her in the right direction just as much as the school could point her in the right direction.

Brian Norton:
So I don’t know. That’s a great question.

Belva Smith:
Those were some good topics too, Brian, because I do think it’s important to make sure, again, you’re sending off a young adult who maybe they’ve had a little bit of experience with their own finances, but not to the extent that they’re going to have when it’s really them. And also being able to have open conversations about making good choices, because you’re 100% right. Does not matter what college you choose. You’re going to be faced with … Just like life, you’re going to be faced with those situations where making the right choice for you and yourself and your safety. I think safety is huge. And just encouraging them to think about things before they act on them, I guess.

Belva Smith:
So, yeah. Good thoughts. And I think, too, as a parent, it’s important to remember they will be back, though it might not feel like it at the moment. They will be back.

Tracy Castillo:
Stop.

Belva Smith:
But I … Well, I know what you’re [crosstalk 01:01:22]. Call mom, right?

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah. Call me.

Belva Smith:
Call mom.

Tracy Castillo:
Call me. Call me. Don’t wait. Yes. And my son, he doesn’t like me mentioning him on Facebook, so I’m not even going to mention his name here. But he wants to succeed. He wants to always do well and always … But there are going to be setbacks. Sometimes, you make poor choices on tests. Just be okay with it. You gave it your best effort.

Tracy Castillo:
So, although I do want them to succeed and … But still, not to beat yourself up. And if you need to, you can always just call mom.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. It’s funny. My daughter is … I have a younger … I have a junior in high school as well. And they will often tell me, “Why in high school do we need to learn calculus when we haven’t had any experience balancing a checkbook or keeping a bank account or doing any kind of thing like that?” They’re like, “What ever happened to home economics, where you learn that kind of stuff?”

Brian Norton:
I took a class in high school and we not only learned how to cook on our own. Why can’t we teach our kids how to cook? It’s not a frozen meal coming out of the freezer and into the microwave. How to cook, how to clean, how to sew, how to keep a bank account, those types of things, I think those are skills that we’ve totally gotten away from and kids lack a lot of times, unless they’re creative, unless they have a knack for some of those things. But none of them have had any kind of experience with that kind of stuff before.

Brian Norton:
And so they’re always asking that question. It’s like, “Why do I have to do this calculus homework? When am I ever going to use calculus, unless I’m an engineer or I’m some sort of a … doing something with my future education? Why couldn’t we have learned how to cook and clean and do all these other kinds of things?”

Brian Norton:
And so-

Belva Smith:
I think it’s also important to help them as they’re packing to remember the necessities. They really aren’t leaving home to go to their own apartment. They’re going into a dorm that most of the time they’re sharing with someone else. So it’s important to not overpack, but to also remember the necessities. And especially if they have medications that they got to take, make sure that they know how to take those medications and how to get them if they need them. Make sure they’ve got their insurance information in case they have an emergency and have to take themselves into the emergency room or something like that.

Belva Smith:
And no matter how long of a list you try to create, there will be that forgotten thing. And as you said, Tracy, just to remind them that it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay. No matter what, you’ll figure it out. And while being safe, remember they’re there to learn and to experience life.

Belva Smith:
So how many tears have you cried, Tracy? You’re muted.

Tracy Castillo:
I haven’t cried any yet. You almost made me cry. I stopped it.

Belva Smith:
Well, I promise you, you will. But again, remind yourself, because it’s a big change for the parents as it is for the student. But just remind yourself it is only for a short time. I will tell you I dropped off a teenager, and I really feel like when I went back to pick him up … And I think we went back four weeks. It was either four or six weeks to pick him up to take him out to dinner. And he was out of money, so we had to take him some money.

Belva Smith:
But I remember walking in and realized that it was no longer my teenage kid that I was with. He was really a young man. It was amazing to me how much he had changed in just that little bit of time. It’s a grow time, but it’s a good time.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Excellent. Well, hey, I would love to open this up to our listeners. If you have any feedback on our wild card question today, maybe you’re in a similar situation where you’ve launched your student to college. And just wanted to hear from you guys. If you can give us a call on our listener line, that’s 317-721-7124. Or you can send us an email at Tech@EasterSealsCrossroads.org. Love to hear from you guys.

Brian Norton:
Want to take just a moment before we end our show today just to thank Belva, Tracy, and Josh for contributing today. Belva, I want to give you an opportunity to say goodbye to folks. So-

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

Brian Norton:
Excellent. And Tracy?

Tracy Castillo:
Thanks for tuning in, guys. See you later.

Brian Norton:
Excellent [crosstalk 01:05:41].

Belva Smith:
… to Tracy, because her kid will be gone to college.

Brian Norton:
And then Josh.

Josh Anderson:
Bye, everybody. Happy 150th episode.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Excellent. Have a great one, everybody. Take care, and we’ll talk to you in a couple weeks. Bye.

Speaker 14:
And it seems like every week, we have at least one blooper. So here you go.

Brian Norton:
I think I’m going to go ahead and jump in.

Josh Anderson:
That’s fine. I can go around at the beginning if you want.

Brian Norton:
Okay. Okay.

Josh Anderson:
Thanks, Belva. That was perfectly inappropriate.

Belva Smith:
We’re all blushing now.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, I was really trying to get through that and try to talk nice.

Tracy Castillo:
Thanks, Belva.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah.

Belva Smith:
Okay. Maybe I should have stopped the video.

Speaker 14:
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 INDATA Project.

Speaker 14:
The show transcript is sponsored by INTRAC, the Indiana Telephone Relay Access Corporation. To learn more about INTRAC, go to IndianaRelay.com.

Speaker 14:
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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