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ATFAQ152 – Q1 – Difference between Zoomtext Speech and a Screen Reader, Q2. Adjustable Desk safety, Q3. Discreet voice amplifier, Q4. Equipment Lending Libraries, Q5. Wildcard: What is in your junk drawer?

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

ATFAQ152 – Q1 – Difference between ZoomText Speech and a Screen Reader, Q2. Adjustable Desk safety, Q3. Discreet voice amplifier, Q4. Equipment Lending Libraries, Q5. Wildcard: What is in your junk drawer?

—— Transcript Starts Here —–

Brian Norton:
I have a question. Welcome to ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions with your host Brian Norton, Director of Assistive Technology at Easterseals Crossroads. This is a show where we address your questions about assistive technology, the hardware, software, tools and gadgets that help people with disabilities lead more independent and fulfilling lives. Have a question you’d like to answer it on our show? Send us a Tweet with the #ATFAQ, call our listener line at 317-721-7124 or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. The world of assistive technology has questions and we have answers. And now, let’s jump into today’s show.

Brian Norton:
Hello and welcome to ATFAQ episode 152. 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 have a great lineup of assistive technology questions for you today, but before we jump in, let me just take a moment to go around our virtual Zoom room and introduce the folks who are sitting here with me who will be here to answer your questions. First is Belva. Belva is our Vision Team Lead with our Clinical Assistive Technology team. Belva, do you want to say hi?

Belva Smith:
Hello everybody.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. And the next is Tracy. Tracy Castillo is the INDATA Program Manager. Tracy, do you want to say hi?

Tracy Castillo:
Hey, everyone. Thanks for listening.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. We’ve got Josh. Josh is the Manager of our Clinical Assistive Technology Program and also the popular host of our flagship podcast, AT Update here at Easterseals Crossroads and with the INDATA Project. Josh, would you like to say hi?

Josh Anderson:
Hi everybody.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Excellent. So want to just take a moment before we jump into the questions and just talk to folks a little bit about how the show works. So for those that are new or are fairly new to the show, we come across feedback and various assistive technology related questions throughout the week. We have a variety of ways for you to provide feedback and those questions. To get those to us, you can call us on our listener line, that’s 317-721-7124. Email us at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org or send us a tweet with the #ATFFAQ. Those are three ways for you to be able to get us that feedback, get us your questions. Always looking for questions. So if you have one, send it to us. The feedback comes in that as we go through our questions today, we hope you’re paying close attention to those.

Brian Norton:
And if we miss anything and maybe you’ve got some experience in a particular area that you think would be helpful or beneficial in answering a question for one of those folks who’ve called in and provided those to us, please let us know. Provide that feedback again on that listener line through the email and through Twitter. That’s great ways to be able to help us provide well-rounded answers to the folks who do have those questions that they’re sending in. If you’re looking to find our show or would like to share it with other folks, you can go to a couple of different places. Pretty much anywhere you can find a podcast, you can typically find our show. We’re on iTunes, we’re on Stitcher. You can go to the Google Play Store. You can find us on Spotify. We’ve got a website set up if you want to look specifically at the website and visit all the different shows that we’ve done over the years. That’s atfaqshow.com.

Brian Norton:
If you do go to places like iTunes, Stitcher or the Google Play Store, we would love, if you’re really liking our show give us a like, put a comment down. That helps us with our status within those particular platforms. And so we’d love to be able to continue to kind of grow our audience as we produce the show. All right. Without further ado, let’s go ahead and jump into our first question for today. And it’s what is the difference between ZoomText magnifier reader options and the information that is spoken by the ZoomText and that of which is provided by a screen reader? And so I’ll just kind of open this up to folks.

Belva Smith:
So ZoomText obviously assumes that the user is visually accessing information from the screen. The screen reader assumes that the user is not visually accessing information. So the screen reader that’s provided with the magnifying option is going to have less verbiage. It’s just not going to give as in-depth information as the screen reader is going to give. To ask the question of what is it that ZoomText screen reader is going to say versus what the JAWS screen reader or the NVDA screen reader is going to say? Well, that’s a huge question. But in short, you’re just going to get more verbosity is what they call it in the screen reader. So reading capabilities, for example, for long webpages or documents or whatever is going to be more… Oh, what’s the word I want to look for? It’s robust. I do like the new feature of ZoomText where it’s got speech on demand.

Belva Smith:
So, because a lot of folks who use ZoomText don’t really want it to read for example, the menu or the dialog box, but when they get into an email or something, they do want it to be able to read. So with one quick key command, you can turn it on so that it will do speech just when you want it. But I think the biggest thing is to think about the screen reader assumes that you can’t see the icons, the text, the buttons. So it’s going to give you all of that information. And the magnifier assumes that you are looking and can see that information. Honestly, I know like with Fusion, the reader that they’re using in Fusion is the JAWS screen reader. So all of the background of it is exactly the same. It’s just allowing you to use it with the magnification. Years ago, if an individual had some vision but needed a screen reader, then we would put ZoomText and JAWS on their computer together.

Belva Smith:
And the two did not always play well together. They seem to be resource hogs so they would cause conflicts with using them. But now, they have come together nicely and seem to play well together. But there really is no more need to have ZoomText and JAWS on the same computer. You’re either going to have ZoomText magnifier reader or you’re going to have Fusion, which is going to have all three of them on there together. In fact, that’s what I recommend for schools and businesses is just buy Fusion, because with that program, you’ve got the magnifier, you’ve got the magnifier reader and you’ve got JAWS. So you could pretty much accommodate every visual need at that point. And for Claire, I would suggest if you are in a decision-making position where you’re trying to figure out which way you want to go, if you go to the freedom scientific download page, you can download a demo of each one of the programs and give them a try to see yourself, which one feels like the right program for you. Also…

Belva Smith:
I’m sorry Josh, but one last thing. Also consider is your vision loss progressive or is it stable? Because if you’re stable and you can’t see, then probably the magnifier reader is going to be good enough. But if you may, at some point, now that you’ve got to buy a new version almost every year, I don’t know that it really matters as much as it used to, but if you are progressively losing your vision, then you might want to consider the screen reader.

Brian Norton:
And Belva, do they still have where you can buy it yearly as opposed to buying the whole program or do they [inaudible 00:08:52]

Belva Smith:
No, no. They do. They still have that. It’s like for a personal user and I think it’s $99 a year. And a lot of people have started using it since they’ve switched to that. Basically it’s a subscription.

Brian Norton:
Sure. Sure.

Josh Anderson:
And do they still offer a… I thought at one point, they were offering some like COVID-19 pricing or discounts. Was that the case or am I just making that up?

Belva Smith:
I feel like in the very-

Brian Norton:
There was some time around that they waived that fee or made it a whole lot less especially for folks who maybe had JAWS or ZoomText on a work computer, but now had to work from home and maybe didn’t have it available. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I do not believe that’s still available.

Belva Smith:
Right. I feel like in the very beginning of COVID, they did do some sort of a special offering and I think it was both for students and folks who were being forced to work from home, but I’m like Josh. I don’t think that standing any longer.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. And another option I will throw out there for folks, you mentioned just going to the download page at Freedom Scientific and downloading those to try them out. At the Assistive Technology Act, here in Indiana, we have a loan library, you can borrow a computer with that software loaded. And I don’t know quite how long the demonstration versions. I think they go forever. Right? They’re just 40 minute modes. Is that right? So.

Belva Smith:
That is correct.

Josh Anderson:
So you can use the software for 40 minutes. It’s going to time out then you don’t have to restart your computer to start that timer over again.

Belva Smith:
I know, and that’s the way that I actually learned to use JAWS and I know that it’s very, very frustrating because it never fails. You’re just about to complete something when the 40 minutes runs out and it just kicks off and it used to crash the computer, but I don’t think it’s crashing the computer anymore, but maybe. But that is not absolutely a good way to try it out.

Josh Anderson:
And so, yeah. I mean, I encourage you to download it or check out the loan library in your state. You can go to eastersealstech.com/states and connect with your local assistive technology act program. And perhaps they might have a computer you can borrow. For a longer period of time where you can get a licensed version for 30 days. It’s a 30 day loan. It’s typically what you’ll find. It does vary from state to state as well. But here in Indiana, we do 30 day loans. And so you can borrow it for 30 days just to kind of try it out. I did like what you had mentioned, Belva, just about JAWS is going to be more robust. It’s going to talk a little bit more, it’s going to explain a little bit more about where you are, what type of control you’re on, what you can do to activate that control.

Josh Anderson:
Whereas because you’re typically low vision, you sometimes have some vision to be able to see what you’re on. There may be not need to be as verbose or the verbosity isn’t quite as much as what you might get with JAWS when you’re using ZoomText magnifier reader. I think that’s something to kind of note for folks. However, I do know you can adjust that on all those programs so you can adjust the verbosity level. So even on JAWS, you can kind of not dumb it down, but limit what it says because if you’re an advanced user, you don’t want it to talk as much as it typically would for a beginner user. So always know that you can adjust those things up or down depending on your skill level in either of those programs.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. Speaking of the skill level, Brian, that brings to mind, for example, with the screen reader, if you press the Alt key to go up to the menu, it’s going to probably say something like menu bar, Alt + F. So it’s giving you that information for the next time to remember that you can do Alt + F to go up to the file menu. But the speech in the magnifier reader is not going to give you that. Now, a lot of that does depend on how you have your verbosity setting set, because yes, in the screen reader, you can turn that feature up. And a lot of folks do turn it up as they become more experienced. And then one more thing I wanted to throw in on this topic, I recently was with someone who was in a work situation and she’s been a JAWS user for a long time, but not a registered user at this time and so I suggested that we use NVDA while we wait on her JAWS to come in.

Belva Smith:
Oh, she was not going to have any piece of that because she said NVDA just makes her crazy. It makes her crazy. So I just want to say to everyone who’s listening, NVDA used to make me crazy too, but it’s come such a long way that I honestly feel like you could probably put JAWS on one computer, NVDA on another computer and you probably wouldn’t know the difference unless someone told you. I don’t think they have the exact same voices, so that would probably give it away. But NVDA has really come a long way. If you haven’t tried it recently and you are a JAWS user, give it a try. Because you may find that you can do some things with NVDA that you can’t do with JAWS. I have a lot of clients that use two or three screen readers because they like the way JAWS will perform one task versus the way NVDA will. So I think I’m losing my voice too, so [crosstalk 00:14:35]

Brian Norton:
Oh, that’s all right.

Josh Anderson:
Nice try Belva, but you keep hanging around.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, I think that’s a-

Tracy Castillo:
You’re still meaningful.

Brian Norton:
I would agree with you Belva. I think a lot of times, nowadays with… I think it goes back to skill level or maybe not skill level, but maybe what you’re using the program for. If you’re a basic user, you’re using word processing and you’re trying to search the web and you’re using email and those are the three things you’re trying to do with the computer, why not use NVDA? It’s gotten good enough and it’s going to be fine. It’s going to do really well in those particular activities. Whereas if you’re at an employment site and they’ve got these third-party programs and all these different things that you need to get access to, well, JAWS is probably going to be your best bet at that in those situations, because you can customize it a little bit. It’s got a little bit more functionality and it can kind of really work in some of those more difficult programs and maybe not so much out of the box programs that you typically would run across. And so great, great point about NVDA as well, so.

Brian Norton:
Just want to open this up to our listeners. If you have any feedback between ZoomText magnifier reader and the spoken information that comes from it versus what comes on a screen reader, I’d love to hear from you. Maybe you’re a person who’s transitioned from a screen magnifier to a screen reader, have feedback we’d love to hear from you as well. 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. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
All right. So our next question is from Lisa. Lisa says I have a consumer who has an adjustable desk at work. She is in a wheelchair and has someone, usually a student helper, sit beside her working together. She has told me that there have been several times when that person helping her bumps and inadvertently pushes the button causing the desk to lower. She fears it could crush her legs pretty easily. And after further review from Lisa, she agrees that that could be a real safety issue for this particular client. She mentioned the controls are on the bottom edge of the desk and from the documentation, it does not appear that it can be locked down so that you can’t push those buttons. Is it possible to fabricate some sort of box, much like the box someone puts over a thermostat, and if so, how should she go about doing that? Or if there are other solutions we might have.

Brian Norton:
So just a couple of real quick, just quick, quick ideas. First one is move the student to the other side. That’s just the first one. I don’t know if that’s even possible or it might not work because with the wheelchair and where that box is, that might not actually be possible. The other thing completely depends on what kinds of buttons they are. Are they raised? Are they kind of big? I know a lot of them have kind of, not so much like a touch control, but the buttons that are just barely raised. They’re kind of small there. They’re not a lot to them. If that’s it, it could be as easy as a piece of cardboard, a piece of tape and just putting it over there. So if you bump it, you’re bumping the cardboard, but you’re not necessarily hitting any of the buttons.

Brian Norton:
If the buttons are bigger and raised, then it can get a little bit more tricky. I wouldn’t want to go with a full on lockbox style thing, just because then you’re having to unlock it, you’re having to get into it. You’re having to do that. Plus if they’re already bumping it, putting out something that’s bigger, it’s just going to keep bumping it even more to the point where it may end up damaging it, pulling it off, especially if it cannot be moved in the different spot. It’s a hard one without actually seeing it. You almost need to see what those buttons look like, kind of where they are. Oh, with it not being able to be moved, usually those things just screw into the bottom of the table, but there’s so many different kinds out there nowadays that… I mean, it could be anything. It could be where it…

Brian Norton:
It could be as easy as maybe removing some screws, finding an extendable cord and moving it to the other side or a different spot, putting it on top or something else. But really it makes it hard because you do have to make sure it’s still fully accessible for the person who really needs to use it, but at the same time, not a health and kind of safety risk. So it’s one of those that it’s hard to think outside the box when you can’t think of what the box has to look like for it, I guess.

Belva Smith:
[crosstalk 00:18:56] the box, right?

Brian Norton:
I can’t see the box, how do I know?

Belva Smith:
No, I would suggest even though the documentation might not give you the information you’re looking for, I would probably, if it’s possible, try to reach out to the manufacturer and explain the situation to them and see if they have any suggestions. I do like the idea of the thermostat box, but Josh, you made a very good point. It’s just going to be big and bulky. I actually thought of the box that I have over my outside outlets. It’s very similar to them… And maybe not screwing it into the table, but using some really good tape. I got this massive tape two-sided so that you could tape tape it up there. And the reason I thought of the outside outlet is because that-

Brian Norton:
It’s like a little window.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. It opens up. And I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sure there’s probably different thermostat boxes, but most of the thermostat boxes do have a lock. I don’t think you would want to do anything with a lock. The other thing, which is not a good suggestion, but unplug it. I mean, when the student is there, unplug it and then when the student’s gone, have them plug it back in.

Brian Norton:
That’s true. As long as it’s accessible to be able to get to and things like that, but I mean, you could always move it to a power strip on top of the desk.

Belva Smith:
Right. Right.

Brian Norton:
And yeah, just unplug it or turn off that power strip. That be the only thing plugged into it. It could be a great way, but the Belva that’s a great idea because yeah, I know what you’re talking about with those outside boxes, but anything that has that kind of little, not leverage, not the word I’m looking at, but window kind of thing that you can just open up so you could open it up real quickly and easily push the button when you needed to, but then have it covered the rest of the time. So yeah, that’s an excellent idea.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. I was going to agree. I think the two suggestions you guys had that… I mean, talk about low-tech. Move the student to the other side or unplug it. Unplug it. Those are great, great suggestions and may very well be a real simple solution for this particular problem.

Belva Smith:
And that’s why we’re the AT specialist. Right?

Josh Anderson:
Right. Right.

Brian Norton:
It took me about, well, and I still do it, but let’s see. I’ve been in the agency 10 years, but during this like seven, it took me at least six to quit thinking myself. You just sit there and come up with this giant, giant grandiose idea and you’re like oh wait, if I just move this three feet. Oh, cool. We’re done. Nice. Okay. Thank you.

Belva Smith:
And the good thing too about reaching out to the manufacturers, even if they don’t have a good suggestion, at least you’re bringing to their attention a situation that they may not even be aware of so that they can rethink that for future models or whatever.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. Absolutely.

Brian Norton:
And if nothing else, so a lot of them, and again, [inaudible 00:21:57] but usually you can put it on the right hand or left hand side, depending on if you’re right-handed or left-handed or if it’s an adjustable desk, a lot of those do really help people with disabilities, you might not have use of the right or the left side. So being able to move, it’s very important. So I wonder if there’s a-

Belva Smith:
The one that I’m thinking of, it’s right in the middle. Or I don’t know if that’s just because that’s where we put it. But like the big kind of L-shape one.

Josh Anderson:
L station. Yeah, yeah.

Brian Norton:
Oh yeah.

Belva Smith:
They are kind of in the middle.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, they are kind of in the middle, so.

Brian Norton:
I’ll just throw this out for folks too. Another thing that I do in these types of situations beyond the simple ones, move to the other side or unplug, I go to… I often find myself in a hardware store, Lowe’s, Home Depot, whatever your local hardware store is. You can probably walk through the aisles, just walk up and down the aisles. You’ll probably see five or six things that might be able to address your issue. One of the situations like this and I’ve used this type of accommodation before for other needs, again, we don’t know exactly what the table is or how the controls are mounted or what the controls look like, but even corner, the stuff for corners and buildings and things like that, it’s made out of plastic. They’re L-shaped, there’s different sizes, different degrees for which that corner is going to be mounted. Those already come preloaded with tape. They’ve got tape on them and maybe you can simply cover the controls with that type of an accommodation.

Brian Norton:
I use a lot of times PVC pipe and other kinds of things to create. You can saw that stuff from half. A plexiglass. You can create all sorts of things with that. And again, it doesn’t always have to be… I think what I love about our team here at Easterseals Crossroads, our clinical team, the INDATA team here is we’re not always just trying to throw technology at something. Simply, it could just be move it, reposition it, change it. Sometimes it’s just a real low tech accommodation that’s going to cost us a couple of bucks and it’s going to be just as effective as maybe putting a piece of technology or something a little bit more complex in nature in place. And so just a few thoughts with regard to that particular combination.

Belva Smith:
Well, my one thing I had was kind of goes back to what you said, Brian, is it brings back to mind when there was a button on the wall and I had a student that was always running to that button to touch it. I put a little styrofoam bowl around the button so it no longer was accessible. So yeah, that’s covered up. That’s my suggestion.

Brian Norton:
Absolutely. Excellent. Hey, I want to open this up to our listeners. If you have maybe a solution, have run across a particular issue like this in the past or you have suggestions for low tech accommodations things. How do you get creative in situations like this where there might not be a ready-made solution? You’ve got to create something that that needs to be made for a specific situation. We’d love to hear from you. Give us a call on our listener line. It’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 an email from Deanna. This question is I’m hoping you can help me with a random question. My uncle has a very minimal voice following chemotherapy and radiation. We are looking for an adaptive technology option similar to the chatter box. He would prefer a small discreet speaker and a lapel type microphone to help him with amplifying his voice. Does something like this exist or do you know of a way of modifying something to meet his needs? And so I know we, Tracy, we have-

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah. That sounds fine.

Brian Norton:
… been involved in answering this question and I know you threw out a couple of answers of things that we have in our library. Do you want to mention those?

Tracy Castillo:
I forgot the name of them. So what I did was I went over to our library, our INDATA library and I was able to find a small speaker like box. That was the amplifier. I don’t know the exact name of it. But the chatter box is if you don’t know what that is, it is a rectangular device that… It’s not as big as a loaf of bread, but it’s pretty big. But what I found was this little speaker amplifier in our library and it was… And jokingly at that time, I said, well, it’s no bigger than a CD Walkman. So if you think of the size of a CD player, if you’re there, you can understand-

Josh Anderson:
A what?

Tracy Castillo:
A CD Walkman. Those are the ones that would play your CDs when you were walking. You wouldn’t want to jog or step heavily because it would skip.

Josh Anderson:
You’re talking to a different generation now.

Tracy Castillo:
Exactly. So, no larger than a box that would encompass a CD. They do know what CDs are, right?

Josh Anderson:
Probably. Probably.

Tracy Castillo:
Okay. The scratch. So however, I did find a little amplifier in our lending library and the cool thing about it was it did have this headset microphone on it, but it had just the standard jack that any make 3.5 jack would fit into. And I did end up also finding a little lapel microphone. And I will say, I did also notice after I plugged in set microphone to set amp that it was a loud screech because as you’ll get to notice that these lapel microphones are extremely strong so they’re going to pick up all the sounds that are around and amplify those out loud for somebody.

Brian Norton:
Absolutely. Yeah. I think the two that you, just to throw out the names of the things that you had kind of provided and a quick email response to this particular person, the first was a mini voice amplifier. And again, it’s lightweight, it’s portable, it’s got that over the ear kind of microphone. I always kind of picture these types of things. If you go to a trade show and the person is trying to sell you knives, it’s the kind of microphone that person is using. And so he’s talking loud and he’s trying to sell you stuff, pots and pans, just cooking carrots in a pan or something like that.

Tracy Castillo:
You take me back to the blue light specials at Kmart now.

Brian Norton:
There you go. There you go. So the mini voice amplifier, it’s about $325. toby-churchill.com. So toby-churchill.com is where you can find that. But again, it does have a 3.5 millimeter jack and you can purchase really any microphones. And to Tracy’s point the difficulty you get with a lapel microphone is they’re super sensitive. And so if they scratch up against your clothes, you’re going to get feedback. You’re going to get it too close to the microphone, too close to the speaker, you’re going to get feedback and a screech. So you got to be real careful with how those are positioned and how they’re wearing those types of things and where you’re putting the speaker in relation to the microphone. So think through some of those things.

Brian Norton:
Another one is a portable PA system. This is also something that we have in our library. I don’t think it’s specifically for anything real AT related, if you will. It’s more for folks who just have a low voice and they want to be a little bit louder. Maybe it’s in the classroom, maybe they’re an instructor in a fitness class or those types of things, tout guide, a teacher, those types of situations. It’s just a speaker with a headset. And again, most of those are going to come with a 3.5 millimeter jack. And you’re going to be able to then just crank up your voice as much as you want, down or up, depending on how you’re feeling that day and how that day and how loud you’re being able to project that day to be able to provide a good, steady, strong, consistent voice to folks as you instruct them and as you’re talking and communicating with them.

Brian Norton:
Another one is a transdermal. Let me see if I can get this right. Transdermal microphone for speech difficulties. It’s a little bit of a different situation. So we mentioned the sensitivity that you get with a lapel mic. And so maybe a different option for someone is one of these transdermal microphones. And so what this does is it’s basically… You wear it around your neck and it kind of has two little what look like small earphones, but they’re pressed up against your throat. They’re usually typically connected to 3.5 millimeter jack that you can plug into those devices. And basically what it’s doing is it’s listening for your voice from your throat instead of up by your mouth. And so sometimes it’s a little bit more directional in the way it works. And so it’s picking up your device directly from your throat. It’s not open air. It’s not picking up everything that’s around you. And so a lot of times you can produce a better voice or not maybe a better voice, but better voice volume with a microphone that looks maybe something like that.

Brian Norton:
If you go to amazon.com you can find them for, oh, I don’t know. 15 bucks, 20 bucks, those types of things. And if you look up, if you’re looking for a specific type of one, transdermal microphone for speech difficulties that are compatible with a voice amplifier. So you can find that Amazon.com as an option. But again, as far as these types of devices, there’s a ton of them out there. If you go to amazon.com, you can put in voice amplifier and you can put in the type of microphone you’re looking for and you’ll find many options come back. That’ll give you lots of different choices for that type of a situation and a solution for someone who may find themselves in a very similar situation. So just want to open this up. I will mention before I just opened it up, these items, the mini voice amp and the portable PA system, we’ve mentioned it a couple times on our show already today but we have those available on our loan library. If you’d like to borrow one, try it out, see what’s going to work for you.

Tracy Castillo:
Yep. Me too.

Brian Norton:
Please do. Please do. You can find our library, a link to our library at our website. It’s eastersealstech.com. Or if you’re in a different state or territory, you can go to eastersealstech.com/states, and connect with your local assistive technology act program. So just want to open that up to our listeners. Also, if you have any solutions, if you’ve dealt with a particular situation and have found a useful combination for a solution such as this, let us know. 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. Thanks so much.

Brian Norton:
All right. So our next question is do you know where I might borrow a laptop that will run NVDA and Word so I can finish my school assignments? And so this is a very common question we get and so I’ll just open this up to folks.

Tracy Castillo:
Wow. Yeah. So this brings into mind, at least two programs at INDATA that we have. One, we have a very unique, and it’s my favorite program, because it’s where I started my assistive technology journey and is the INDATA reuse program. So INDATA data has a tech. So if you’re at Indiana and you need a computer and this is your question, go to our website eastersealstech.com and check out our reuse program. We have an amount of laptops and desktop computers that are donated to us from around the state of Indiana. And there is a group of gentlemen and girls that put these computers together, throw Windows on and throw Office on them and then give those away for free to individuals living in Indiana with disabilities. So that’s my first go to pro answer to this one.

Tracy Castillo:
The second one is if you are just needing a computer right away, you can check out your state’s AT act. Ours as at eastersealstech.com. And if you don’t live in Indiana, you can go /states and check out your state’s lending library. And within the lending library, you’re going to find those computers that you could have NVDA put on. I think if you… There’s another one. If you’re blind, there is the computers for the blind and they offer low cost computers with, I believe, a subscription to JAWS for one year. So that’s an awesome program I’ve heard about just a few months ago. And then I think another program I know about if you don’t meet any of the criteria that I just spoke about, there’s also PCs for people and you can apply for their program and they can get you a low cost computer, laptop or desktop and they are the computers for the blind and PCs for people are both nationwide. So.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. Computers for the blind actually has an application online that you can fill out, which is interesting because if your computer’s not working, you probably don’t have access to get online. But their prices for their computers are as high as 300, almost 400 but as cheap as depending upon what you need, 200 bucks. And I believe that it sounded to me like this individual need got some work done, right here, right now. So she or he may not be trying to look for a long term answer. So one of the things that you can do is you can go to any public library, they have computers. They hopefully will have a computer with a screen reader. If however they don’t, you can go up to any Windows PC and put in SA to Go. That is a free screen reader that doesn’t really have to go through a big installation process or whatever. It will just start working for you. Also, Windows does include the narrator. So you can… What’s the key stroke? Anybody remember the keystroke to make it start?

Tracy Castillo:
I don’t know. I would hit the Windows key to get the search bar.

Belva Smith:
That’s what I would do. I would hit the Windows key and type NA and then press enter because that’s going to bring it up and turn it on. Now using it is going to be a little different from using screen read… Or using JAWS or NVDA, but again, not something that you would have to install, so the computer’s not or the library’s not going to get upset with you for what to put it on there.

Tracy Castillo:
Hey Belva.

Belva Smith:
Yeah.

Tracy Castillo:
I’m sorry to interrupt. What was the name of that one again? You said CA?

Belva Smith:
SA to Go.

Tracy Castillo:
To go. Thank you.

Belva Smith:
Now it’s important to know that SA to Go really is like a screen reader for the web, but I feel like it will let you do Word document as well. But more than anything you’ve got the built in screen reader in any Windows computer or Mac computer. So the library or your school somewhere, somebody or your friend has got a computer, then they may say, no, you’re not putting that screen reader on my computer. Then you can just say, okay, that’s fine. I just need to finish this paper. Let me email it to you and we’ll open it up and I’ll turn on the Windows narrator and go to work that way.

Tracy Castillo:
That’s nice. I was looking at, you said $300. The PC support people, they have a computer as low as $50. So.

Brian Norton:
That’s nice.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah. It has four gigs of RAM and a smaller hard drive, only 160 gigabytes, but still if you’re needing something right away, I think that’s a great option.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. And the computer that… Computers for the blind has got listed on their website for 400 bucks. I mean, it says it’s a large screen laptop with 16 gigabyte of RAM and one terabyte SSD hard drive. So that’s a really good computer for that price.

Tracy Castillo:
Sure is. It’s got a lot of space.

Belva Smith:
Right.

Brian Norton:
Yeah. And I’ll just throw out there too. I mean just if you are NVDA free, so there isn’t any cost for it. If you have a friend that has a laptop that you may need to be able to finish your classes, if you anybody in your family that would let you borrow one, it can’t be a Chrome, can’t be a Chromebook, can’t be Mac. It’s got to be a Windows computer, but NVDA is free. And you can-

Belva Smith:
But all three of those that you just mentioned, Brian, all include a screen reader in them.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah. That’s what I was going to say.

Brian Norton:
Right.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah.

Belva Smith:
So, I mean, you could get your paper done. You just got to get yourself a computer.

Brian Norton:
Correct. Correct. And it could be just as simple as asking a friend or someone if you can borrow something for a little bit of time. So something to think and consider there. Want to open this up to our listeners. If you guys have other solutions or other other solutions for folks who are looking to borrow a computer, specifically ones with either a blind or low vision software. This particular question was about NVDA. We’d love to hear from you. Give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7-1-2-4 or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
And now it’s time for the wild card question. All right. So the next question is the wild card question. And this actually came from episode 117. This is one of our favorite ones from the past year. We had a little bit of technical difficulties and so we’ve had to jump back into the past and pick one that we thought was really, really good. And so here you go.

Tracy Castillo:
So my question to you all is what’s in your drawers?

Belva Smith:
Okay. Hold on for a sec.

Brian Norton:
I’m a little concerned. Is there further explanation to that question?

Belva Smith:
Which drawers are we speaking now?

Tracy Castillo:
Those drawers that we all have.

Brian Norton:
Junk drawers?

Tracy Castillo:
Where we have purchased something that we was going to be great or maybe it was great.

Belva Smith:
I’ve got a Kindle in a drawer.

Tracy Castillo:
There you go. That’s what I’m talking about.

Brian Norton:
You know what I have? I have actually have a paper white, a Kindle paper white. I also have Sirius XM.

Belva Smith:
That’s what I have too Brian.

Brian Norton:
I have every stinking accessory-

Belva Smith:
Part of it? Me too. Me too.

Brian Norton:
… that you can think of me too to my Sirius XM little because I used to travel a lot. Right? And you guys still do travel quite a bit and I wanted just radio. I wanted all time radio get all the different shows I wanted and I paid the subscription, but I’ve got every little gadget like ever-

Belva Smith:
And a 100 foot of wire that it took to connect it to the car.

Brian Norton:
Yes. Yes.

Belva Smith:
Yes. That’s one of the things in my drawers too.

Tracy Castillo:
Wow. You know nowadays they have a app for that?

Brian Norton:
Yeah. Exactly. Yep. But back in the day, that was the deal. Right?

Belva Smith:
That was the deal.

Josh Anderson:
[crosstalk 00:42:07] a little device and.

Belva Smith:
Because if you were traveling, your radio station would go out. I’m sorry Josh.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah absolutely. Absolutely. So yeah, that’s one of the things I have. But what’s something else that you have that you bought because at the time it was the most cool thing and now it’s like?

Josh Anderson:
You know another one of that? I’ve got a Garmin GPS. I don’t use the GPS anymore. Standalone GPS. I always use my phone. That’s all I ever use.

Brian Norton:
I used to have one of those, but I don’t know where the heck it is. Now I do have in my garage this bag of cords that occasionally is useful, but-

Belva Smith:
Every man has that bag of cords.

Brian Norton:
But I think I’m finally to the point where I’ve taking everything useful out of it and it’s nothing, but maybe a few pieces are ripped up coax and then the three prong AV chords that don’t go to anything anymore. And phone wires, which I have no phones at all in my house or anything that connects to it, so.

Tracy Castillo:
I have this cool little thing it’s blue. It has a headphone jack. It’s the iPod.

Brian Norton:
I remember that.

Belva Smith:
That’s another one of the things in my drawers.

Tracy Castillo:
I think it’s still loaded with music. Yeah. And that was really the thing when they first were new. The iPod. Oh my gosh. You could carry your music everywhere you went. Or books. That’s what I put on mine, was books.

Belva Smith:
The same year my daughter received an iPhone from one grandma, her other grandma gave her an iPod Shuffle.

Brian Norton:
Oh, nice.

Belva Smith:
You can imagine what happened.

Brian Norton:
Oh, for sure. For sure. No, I do keep… I think I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 that I just connect to WiFi, download music to it and I use it as a music player. So I don’t always have to use my phone and I can actually have stuff offline on there without using up all the memory on my phone. So it doesn’t get used real often so it mostly just kind of sits in that drawer.

Tracy Castillo:
So another thing that I have is a WDTV and I was surprised. In preparing for this show, I actually went to Amazon to look it up. They do still sell the WDTV.

Belva Smith:
I’m not sure what you’re speaking of.

Tracy Castillo:
It’s a little box about the size of an Apple TV and you plug any USB drive into it that’s got movies on it and you can watch your movies from anywhere, anytime, but they got to be on that USB drive. So what we did is we recorded a whole bunch of TV shows and put them on a USB drive. Older TV shows so that we could watch them whenever we wanted. Of course, this was before we had, what do we have on our TV now that records everything for us?

Brian and Belva:
DVRs. DVRs.

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So that’s about 10 years old. I still have it. It still works.

Belva Smith:
I still have blank DVDs in my drawer as well.

Brian Norton:
I have some of those too.

Josh Anderson:
Nice. Nice.

Brian Norton:
I actually have this old scan discs. Do you remember what those were called? The bigger 250 megabyte discs that used to put in there.

Tracy Castillo:
The zip file ones?

Brian Norton:
Yeah. They were big old discs that you-

Tracy Castillo:
Oh, the floppies?

Brian Norton:
Not the floppies. I need to think about what those were called, but. Zip drives, zip drives.

Belva Smith:
Zip drives. That’s what I was thinking of, the zip drives. Yeah.

Brian Norton:
I’ve got those big discs. The other one I found the other day I was going through some old stuff is back when iPods were kind of still leading the market, I decided to buy a Microsoft Zune.

Belva Smith:
Oh my gosh.

Josh Anderson:
Zune.

Belva Smith:
Todd had a Zune when I met him and I was like dude, you got to get an iPod because getting music on that was hard. It was hard.

Josh Anderson:
Oh yeah. And I still have a video cam recorder that takes little DVDs instead of you putting things on SD cards. I had the DVDs that I had to put in there.

Brian Norton:
Really?

Josh Anderson:
Rewriteable DVDs. I got that. That’s probably 13 years ago.

Belva Smith:
So I still have my VCR recorder or VHS recorder that’s like the size of a house.

Brian Norton:
The big, huge heavy one?

Belva Smith:
That you put up on your shoulder and you put the full size VHS tape in it to record.

Josh Anderson:
They look so cool though. That’s thing.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. I was really rocking that thing when we got it. And I can’t get rid of it because if I ever want to watch any of those VHS, I got to have-

Brian Norton:
Right. You have to have that.

Belva Smith:
Yes. Yes.

Tracy Castillo:
Now that I have someone donate some VHSs or some, what are they called? I’m so sorry.

Belva Smith:
The VHS?

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah. I have a couple of them just donated. You can come and get them.

Brian Norton:
Absolutely.

Tracy Castillo:
So it’s just interesting how technology changes over the years and how when we get our little devices, we feel like it’s the greatest. And sometimes it is and sometimes it’s not. Because we’ve all bought those things that we thought were going to be much better than they turned out to be. Most recently, I purchased the knockoff pen friend. I can’t think of what it’s called. We actually have one in the library and I bought it because it was $89 versus the pen friend which is like $150. Should have spent the $150.

Brian Norton:
Did it stop working?

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah. Three times. It’s pretty frustrating, but yeah. So that’s one of those situations where I think you kind at what you pay for sometimes, but anyway.

Belva Smith:
That’s why I love the lending library.

Tracy Castillo:
Yes. Yes.

Belva Smith:
Because you could request an item. We can have it. You can try it if it works great. And if it doesn’t, you didn’t waste your money on it.

Tracy Castillo:
Exactly. Exactly.

Josh Anderson:
Good question, Bella. That was excellent.

Belva Smith:
So yeah. Keep your drawers clean. We’ll probably have that question again.

Tracy Castillo:
You might get hit by a bus.

Brian Norton:
Keep your drawers clean. If there’s one thing we’re asking our listeners to do is keep your drawers clean. No, hey, so excellent. I want to thank the folks here in the room that are with me today and give them an opportunity to say goodbye, but Tracy?

Tracy Castillo:
I never want to say goodbye. I’m so sorry about this.

Brian Norton:
You just want us to live here in the studio.

Tracy Castillo:
Exactly. I don’t have to do dishes in here. Okay. Bye.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. And Belva?

Belva Smith:
I’ll just say till next time.

Brian Norton:
Cool. And then Josh?

Belva Smith:
So long.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Yeah. And also just to let you guys know, if you guys have questions or feedback from today’s show, let us know. You can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124. Or send us a tweet with a #ATFAQ or email us at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Would love to hear from you, love to get your questions or your feedback. Be a part of the show. Thanks so much. And it seems like every week we have at least one blooper. So here you go.

Brian Norton:
That’s how I start everything is have you tried unplugging? Is it plugged in? Do whatever you want to do.

Tracy Castillo:
Go Josh. You got it. Whatever you want.

Josh Anderson:
Finally.

Belva Smith:
I didn’t realize Tracy’s on it.

Tracy Castillo:
I’m gone. I am totally leaving that.

Brian Norton:
Sorry.

Belva Smith:
Or you need be a listener Nicole.

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 Easterseals Crossroads in 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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