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ATU555 – Cards that Talk with Cleveland and Susan Huber

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

Special Guests:

Cleveland and Susan Huber – Cards that Talk

www.qrspeak.com

 

Find out more and register for ATIA here: www.atia.org

 

Stories:

Accessibility at Reviewed Story: https://bit.ly/3qatuyn

TextHelp and Don Johnston Story: https://yhoo.it/3n8XVTF

Telepresence Robot Story: https://bit.ly/3r7nUw0

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—– Transcript Starts Here —–

Susan Huber:
Hi, this is Susan Huber.

Cleveland Huber:
And I’m Cleveland Huber, and we’re the owners of QR Speak, creators of Cards That Talk. And this is your Assistive Technology Update.

Josh Anderson:
Hello, and welcome to your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist individuals with disabilities and special needs. I’m your host, Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in beautiful yet frigid, Indianapolis, Indiana. Welcome to episode 555 of Assistive Technology Update. It’s scheduled to be released on January 14th, 2022. On today’s show, we’re super excited to talk to Susan and Cleveland Huber about Cards That Talk. We’ve also got stories about accessibility reviews, a merger, and telepresence robots. Now let’s get on with the show. Maybe you’re looking for some new podcast to listen to. We’ll make sure to check out our sister podcast Accessibility Minute and ATFAQ or Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions.

Josh Anderson:
If you’re super busy and don’t have time to listen to a full podcast, be sure to check out Accessibility Minute, our one minute long podcast that gives you just a little taste of something assistive technology based so that you’re able to get your assistive technology fix without taking up the whole day. Hosted by Tracy Castillo. This show comes out weekly. Our other show is Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions or ATFAQ. On Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions, Brian Norton leads our panel of experts, including myself, Belva Smith, and our own Tracy Castillo as we try to answer your assistive technology questions. This show does rely on you. So we’re always looking for new questions, comments, or even your answers on assistive technology questions. So remember if you’re looking for more assistive technology podcast to check out, you can check out our sister shows Accessibility Minute and ATFAQ, wherever you get your podcast now, including Spotify and Amazon Music.

Josh Anderson:
As I’ve told you before, one of my favorite events of the year is the ATIA annual conference. Every year I look forward to meeting with the global community of folks who use assistive technology to enhance their lives or the lives of their families, friends, students, or clients. And I’m especially excited about ATIA this year, because it’s going to be held back in person in Orlando. That’s right. ATIA is coming back to the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida on January 26th through the 29th of 2022. The team has put some exceptional safety measures in place to ensure that it’s a safe gathering for all. ATIA is all about broadening our AT community of consumers, families, practitioners, and professionals, so that we can collectively increase awareness and build knowledge on how to best implement and access assistive technology. The conferences focus on vision and hearing technologies, communication technologies, technologies to access your world or succeed in educational settings or workplace settings, is sure to offer something for everyone.

Josh Anderson:
This event is for everyone to learn about how technology can impact the lives of others or our own. And if you can’t make it to Orlando in January, which who wouldn’t want to go to Orlando in January, but ATIA has got you covered with their virtual event happening January 27th and 28th with over 100 sessions recorded and available until late April. I will be attending the event virtually this year. And I really hope to see all of you there. You can learn more and register by visiting atia.org. Again, that’s atia.org. I hope to see many of you at ATIA this January.

Josh Anderson:
Folks, will get our show started today with a story from usatoday.com. Some of you may not know that USA Today has kind of a subsidiary or another site that they kind of run called reviewed.com. Now reviewed.com kind of goes over the 20 best things from CES or the 10 best headphones and kind of gives you reviews of these different things. But in the story, which I’ll put a link to over in our show notes, says here that today Reviewed is proud to announce the launch of their dedicated accessibility category. So up until this time there wasn’t a whole lot of places to go and really kind of find reviews or information on different assistive technology, except for of course, listening to this show. But I mean, we’re not always reviews. It says here the accessibility coverage on reviewed is led, edited, and written by people who are actually living with these challenges. So they’re going to have writers with disabilities, aging in place experts, caregivers, seniors, and folks like that actually do these reviews for them.

Josh Anderson:
It says before this, individuals in the disability community would have to kind of rely on word of mouth recommendations, maybe do trial and error and some other different kind of things like that. Of course, they could always borrow things from their local loan library if you’re in the United States, but that’s still kind of a bit of trial and error. So to maybe have a little bit more information is always helpful to everyone. Says they’ve already got dozens of articles and reviews ready, and just a kind of a taste of what to expect, kind of different alarm clocks for the deaf, a unique and ergonomic chef’s knife, how smart glasses can help a individual whose blind navigate the world around them and many more. So it does look like there will be quite a few different things coming to review.com about accessibility and assistive technology. So if you’re looking for a new place to maybe get some more information on assistive technology and different devices, this might be a place to go.

Josh Anderson:
I do always recommend check as many places as you can. It’s always great to get reviews from as many sources as possible. And this is not saying that Review does this, but sometimes companies can pay to kind of have their name at the top, or maybe get a little bit better review. Again, I’m not saying that review.com actually does that, but sometimes you do just have to watch where you get your information and if you can get it from more than one place, even better. And also with that, if you are thinking about a piece of assistive technology, try to find a loan library, your local tech act, something like that, where you can really try it out. Also, depending on what it is, there might be a local vendor somewhere in your state, in your area who could bring the item to you, show you how it works, have you try it out before you make that purchase.

Josh Anderson:
Some assistive technology, as we all know is quite expensive. So it’s something you definitely kind of want to make sure is going to meet that need before you go out and spend that money on it. So I’ll put a link to this story over in USA Today in our show notes, you can go check it out on your own, but it is pretty cool that review.com is going to have a new accessibility category, giving you just another tool in that toolbox to go and find the right piece of AT for you. Our next story comes to us from over at Yahoo Finance and it’s titled, Don Johnston Incorporated Joins Texthelp Group. Ed tech giants joined forces to help student across North America and the globe. So this story is about two, just huge assistive technology companies, Texthelp, which is the maker of Read & Write, which used to be known as Read & Write Gold and Don Johnston, who makes some different things such as CO:Writer, Snap&Read, Quizbot and some other ones, but they are actually joining forces.

Josh Anderson:
Now, how much is joining forces and how much is Texthelp buying Don Johnston? It doesn’t really get into, but these are two companies with very similar missions. Both of them are pretty much made to help individuals with reading disabilities, with print disabilities, with these kind of things, be able to learn a whole lot better. It says, there’s read through this is all part of Texthelp’s mission to just kind of grow and be able to become even better. And it says that Texthelp’s goal is to use its assistive technology to help 1 billion people with reading, writing, and numeracy by 2030. So that’s a pretty darn lofty goal, especially considering that here we are in 2022, but one of the ways they’re going about this is by gaining the knowledge and the tools of some of these other kind of companies that for so long, they kind of competed against.

Josh Anderson:
And it’s always so weird in the assistive technology space, because we do have these oh different technologies that do maybe the same kind of thing, but in different ways, competing against each other, whereas really they’re have the same mission. They want to help folks be able to be more productive or do something that they had a big challenge doing. But at the same time, you are competing with these other companies. And for sometimes this becomes a great thing just because you’re taking that knowledge, the tools and everything that you’re getting from that other company, bringing it in so that it can work together and create even better tools as opposed to working against each other. You’re seeing kind of whatever they used to say back where the sausage is made. You’re seeing everything that goes into it and being able to unite and put these things together.

Josh Anderson:
The only downside that I ever see to this kind of thing is what happens if now there’s just the one solution to do this. The one thing. We’re going to combine these two tools into one tool, and that is the tool. Well, that tool might work for, let’s say 90% of students with dyslexia, but then what about that other 10%? What if they need something else? And there’s plenty of other companies that make these things out there. So really I’m just kind of playing devil’s advocate here for a moment, but all in all this will probably be a pretty good thing. It does say that all the folks that work for Don Johnston are now just employees of Texthelp, so. You always hope in this kind of merger or acquisition that you don’t have anyone lose jobs, because that’s always a big thing, especially these folks that have poured their heart and soul into this kind of technology. You definitely want to see them continue to be able to be there.

Josh Anderson:
So couple quotes down here, kind of from the story to go along with what I just kind of said, Martin McKay the CEO and founder of Texthelp said that Texthelp and Don Johnston Inc share a common vision of a world where every student can feel what it is like to learn and succeed. Says these combined teams and expanded portfolio of products will allow us to give millions more students in the US and across the globe the best possible start in life and help them fulfill their full potential. And Don Johnston, the CEO of Don Johnston Incorporated said, fundamentally, we’re both unified by a mission to help as many students as possible learn and succeed. I believe that together we can achieve more and I’m excited to see what the future holds.

Josh Anderson:
So it, again, very, very cool that these two are kind of joining forces. And I do not know, it doesn’t really say in here, if any of the products are going to go away, if they’re going to be combined, or what exactly that’ll look like. And of course that’ll probably take some time to hash out. We’ll do all we can to maybe try to get somebody on the show to talk about this a little bit more in depth sometime. But all in all, hopefully it’s even better tools that folks can access even easier to be able to help more folks. What’s nice is sometimes you do have to make money. As a business, you got employees to pay, sometimes shareholders, board members, all these folks that you kind of have to keep going.

Josh Anderson:
But as a mission based company, the real goal isn’t that bottom line. You need that bottom line to kind of keep the doors open, but the real goal is helping the largest amount of people get to where they need to be. So again, we will see how this all kind of turns out, but just so that you all know, it looks like Texthelp and Don Johnston Inc are now the same company. We’ll put a link to this story down in our show notes. So our final story today, before we get into our interview comes to us from reflector.com, its written by Kim Grizzard and its titled, Pitt County school introduces VGo robot to create presence for students who cannot go to school. So this is actually a pretty timely story, because I don’t know about where you are today, but here in Indiana, the COVID numbers seem to just keep going up and up. And every day on the news it’s are the school going to stay open? Are they going to go virtual or what exactly is going to happen next?

Josh Anderson:
And truthfully from the time that I record this until the time it actually comes out, who knows, it might be a whole heck of a lot different. But this story talks about the VGo robot. Now, have you’ve ever seen this, it’s a telepresence robot, has a screen on it. You control it usually with a tablet and it’s got some wheels on it and kind of move around the class. And the story without really getting into it too awful much and we’ll just kind of talk about it a little bit, talks about students actually using this. So students with maybe some pretty severe medical conditions, so things where COVID or really any kind of infection is going to cause really, really bad things to happen. Sometimes it’s better for them to be able to learn from home. And this was a problem and something that had to be done way, way, way before this pandemic actually hit.

Josh Anderson:
And so these telepresence robots, what makes them a little bit different is that instead of being on a Zoom meeting, the students face usually appears on the screen on the robot, which is usually at, oh about the height of a student sitting at a desk. So if all the other students are sitting at the desk, this little device can be there somewhere in the room and it can move around. They can actually drive it. So if there is group projects or something like that, they could drive this right up to the group. If a student’s talking instead of the teacher, they can turn it to look at and hear that student. If they’re addressing a student, they can move it to where they’re looking at the student and address them. So it makes it a little bit more personal, I suppose, than just being on a Zoom meeting.

Josh Anderson:
Especially if you’re the student who’s on the Zoom meeting and everyone else is in class, that can cause an even bigger issue because the teacher may or may not actually even be paying attention to what’s going on on Zoom if the other people are in person. So I won’t tell you everything about this whole story, but it does say that these things had really been hard to get because they cost about $5,000 each. Now I don’t know if all telepresence robots cost that or the prices are probably different by different ones, but these run for about $5,000, which is a huge expense. But it says the school district was able to buy these through funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act. So really great use of those CARES funds really be able to help out students.

Josh Anderson:
And this can help out a lot of students, not just individuals with maybe the severe kind of ailments that really make them kind of stay away from other students, but other kids. I mean we’re in the middle of another COVID outbreak, which maybe we’re just going to start calling January’s as opposed to COVID outbreaks. And some of those students may have to stay home, quarantine for a little while. If you’ve got more of these, they can still be an active participant. You can’t do everything on Zoom that you can do in person. And we all kind of know that and probably learn that over the course of the last couple years. But basically what this does is it really just allows them to be present without being present.

Josh Anderson:
So I suppose that’s why they call them telepresence robots. But anyway, we’ll put a link to this story over in our show notes so that you can go and check it out for yourself a little bit more in depth, but still a very neat use of those CARES funds to ensure that everyone can try to get a good education and feel present even when they can’t be there in person. Listeners playing cards has always been a tradition in my family, euchre, poker and other games were always played around the dinner table after meals, at family get togethers and other things. Truthfully playing poker with my friends online via Zoom has been a Friday tradition that’s really helped all of us make it through quarantine and the other COVID restrictions. And is a tradition that we were really been continuing since April of 2020. Well, our guests today are Cleveland and Susan Huber, and they’re here to talk about Cards That Talk and how this amazing accommodation can help all individuals enjoy this past time a little bit more. Cleveland, Susan, welcome to the show.

Susan Huber:
Thanks for having us.

Cleveland Huber:
Thanks.

Josh Anderson:
I’m really excited to get into talking about this technology. Like I said, I’ve always really enjoyed playing cards and everything, but it is something that isn’t always accessible to everyone. But before we get into talking about the technology, could you tell us a little bit about yourselves?

Susan Huber:
So my name is Susan and I have a background in nursing and I’m a stay at home mom of one and I take care of family stuff and whatever else needs to be taken care of.

Cleveland Huber:
And I’m Cleveland Huber and I work in technology. I work for a company called Nice and been in the technology sector for many years now. And I’m always looking for ways to use technology in new ways. And we created Cards That Talk. My wife’s uncle lost his vision many years ago and then regained it again and then lost it again. And he couldn’t play cards any longer because he couldn’t use braille. So we created something new for him to be able to use. And it’s been very helpful.

Josh Anderson:
Well, Cleveland you led me right into my next question. What is Cards That Talk?

Cleveland Huber:
So Cards That Talk is a deck of smooth playing cards that we created and is an associated app that I wrote for the Apple app store. Our custom deck of cards is a standard sized deck of playing cards and has a two inch square code on the back of the card. It’s centered in the back of the card and it blends in with the design of the card. So that way you can’t really recognize what card values are out there. If someone one’s looking across at the cards it’s sighted, they can’t really decipher which card you have.

Cleveland Huber:
These cards are marked, so they wouldn’t work in any casino, but they’re not marked to the naked eye where most people can recognize what the card values are. And you use the cards with our associated app called Cards That Talk, and that app is available on Apple devices exclusively at this point in time. So it works on iPads, and iPhones, and iPods. And with that app, you can scan the back of the cards with the camera and you don’t have to touch the phone or anything to have that work and the value of the card will play back on the phone or if you’re using a Bluetooth headset, it’ll play back through the headset as well.

Josh Anderson:
Nice. Now can it tell me my odds of winning the hand? I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding. Of course, that probably wouldn’t.

Cleveland Huber:
Only on Tuesdays.

Josh Anderson:
Only on Tuesdays. All right. Well good, good, good. Well, it’s excellent. And kind of talking, the back of the cards, the front of the cards, are they just kind of your standard 52 card deck? So they kind of just show the king, the clubs, all that kind of stuff so that sighted individuals can play as well.

Cleveland Huber:
Absolutely. They’re standard deck of playing cards. And they’re also notched on one corner so that you can actually associate the back from the front. So if the notch is in the upper left or the lower right, you’ll know that the back of the card is faced up and that would be ready for scanning. And then the face of the card would be face down. So you’d have the privacy of not letting anyone else know what card you had.

Josh Anderson:
That was going to be one of my next questions, is how do I know which side is up? Because it could definitely present some challenges. Now if I’m sitting here playing cards with my friends and I’m kind of using these, sometimes it’s kind of hard to get my cards maybe lined up and be able to hold my phone. Do you guys have any solutions for maybe something to kind of hold the phone or the tablet for me so that I’m not trying to maneuver too many things at once?

Cleveland Huber:
Absolutely. We sell stands on our website and the stands, we have two different stands on our website. One stand is specifically for an iPhone or iPod and it elevates it about 11 inches off the table so that the device can be ready to go. The good news about the app is once you start it up, you don’t have to touch the device any longer. You just are ready to scan the cards underneath the stand there. And then we also have another one that fits like iPads, and it’s a little bit of a shorter stand, but that could be adjusted in a position where you could scan the cards as well.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, excellent. So I just pull my cards close to me. I can bring them right under there, know exactly what I’m holding without ever having to kind of maneuver the phone or tablet. So that’s really good. Cleveland, Susan, you said that you actually made this kind of for a family member. Who all could the Cards That Talk assist?

Susan Huber:
So my uncle Dave lost his vision in 1971 in a car accident. And through medical advances and time, he got it back in 1987. And then again, he was a massage therapist for all of those years. He learned how to do that in the St Louis school for the blind. And then in 2015, he ran into problems within his eye again and lost his vision again. And this time he was in complete darkness and he loved to play cards. And so it was this big, how do we get him playing cards again discussion. And so Cleve looked everywhere trying to find something for him to be able to play cards again. And there was nothing out there. And so that’s why we created Cards That Talk, to get my uncle playing cards again.

Cleveland Huber:
It was something that they did every week. So every week the family would get together and play cards with Dave. And when they couldn’t do that anymore, they were like, you got to find something out there on the internet that can help us. And there was nothing there to find. So that’s when I started at that.

Susan Huber:
So it really can be for anybody. We created it for my uncle. He lost his vision for a second time in his life. And he had carpal tunnel syndrome the second time. And so he couldn’t feel the braille. So even though he could read it, he knew how to read it. He couldn’t feel it anymore. But really it’s good for anyone who has vision loss or anything like that, whether they can read braille or not. The nice thing about the cards is that they don’t have the braille bumps on them. So it makes it easier to hold them and to shuffle them and things like that. And even someone who is starting to lose their vision that maybe have gone to like bigger cards so that they can see them better. Sometimes it’s easier to get into like our cards or something like that, so that they can still see it and know what they’re going to be doing whenever they do lose their vision so that it’s not quite such a big jump unless they do lose their vision.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, for sure. And I know his story is not kind of all that unique just because a lot of folks may lose their vision and they don’t know braille. And it’s not the easiest thing to learn, especially, kind of in older age. So that’s good that they can still kind of access it. Yeah. I always get worried about the large print ones just because I really feel like, if you just got that one shady family member, they’re going to be peeking over your shoulder and see and see what got over there when you have the giant K or the giant nine or something. They’re going to be able to see what you’ve got. Well guys, I know you said that the stands and things are available on the website and then the cards, are they available there as well?

Susan Huber:
Yes. You can buy them on our website. They’re 16.95 on our website.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. And that’s a standard deck, jokers and all that stuff included?

Susan Huber:
Yep. Jokers and 52 cards.

Josh Anderson:
So I’ve got to ask, I know you kind of told me about your uncle, but I’m sure you guys have been doing this a little bit and probably heard from some folks that have been able to use these. Can you tell me a story about somebody who’s used these cards and how it’s kind of made a little bit of a difference in their life?

Susan Huber:
So we had a customer, his name was Jerry and he would buy card from us like once every month, every other month. And he ran a blind poker tourney out of his house. And he was just fun to talk to and things like that too. But with our cards, he was able to do that. He wasn’t able to do that before, so.

Cleveland Huber:
He was an avid poker play before he’d lost his vision. And he always wanted to have his card game to start back up again. And then he found us and he was able to start up the game again. And how we got to know all this is he would order several decks of cards. I mean three or four decks of cards at a time. And that wasn’t very common for people to do.

Cleveland Huber:
And so we’re like, what’s going on here? Why are you ordering so many decks of cards? And he says, well, I have a poker game in my house every Monday night and he had done it for years. And so, yeah, it’s a pretty interesting story, but that gave him the freedom to do that again. And it was very exciting for us to hear those stories. And we hear lots of those stories along the way, different people that have been able to restart their vision. We had people from Australia call us and get cards from us all the way out there. And it’s been fun for sure. Great journey.

Josh Anderson:
I love that and I love how you have them accessible to individuals who are visually impaired, but also on the other side, it’s just a normal deck of playing cards so that you can have individuals who are visually impaired as well as individuals who are sighted, all be able to still play together using the exact same deck of cards. You’re not making anything different, anything to kind of single them out. Yeah. They’re accessing them a little bit differently, but they’re still playing with the exact same deck as everybody else.

Cleveland Huber:
That’s correct. Speaking of that, we actually made the app do a couple more things that the regular cards can’t do where our cards are magical. So our cards can actually turn into other games that are out there in the world. So the same deck of cards that you would happen to have that you purchased from us using our app, they can actually transform themselves into a game like UNO and a game like Skip-Bo.

Josh Anderson:
Nice.

Cleveland Huber:
So the card values change, but the front of the cards don’t. So when we’re playing back the value of the cards, we just change the value of them. And so you can play multiple games with the same deck of cards.

Josh Anderson:
Well, you’ve already answered my next question was going to be where there other kind of card games or different decks, but that’s awesome. So you just do it with the exact same deck. So you buy the one deck, download the app, and then you’ve got everything kind of working. You mentioned the price of the cards. How much does the app cost to get?

Cleveland Huber:
Oh, that’s the great part. It’s free. We’ve never charged for our app. The only reason why we charge for the cards is because we have costs in that. The development costs that I’ve done with the app and any future updates, will continue to be free. And we don’t plan on changing that at all.

Josh Anderson:
Well, that is excellent. Well, if our listeners want to find out more or kind of order their own deck of cards or stands or anything, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Susan Huber:
You can go to our website, it’s qrspeak.com, Q-R-S-P-E-A- K.com.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. We will put a link for that down in the show notes. Well, Cleveland, Susan, thank you so much for coming on today, talking about cards that can talk, all the cool things they can do. And I got to admit, I actually was lucky enough to kind of get to meet Cleveland at the Vision Expo here in Indiana. And I still learned more talking to you guys today, so that is awesome. Thank you so much.

Cleveland Huber:
Thank you.

Susan Huber:
Thank you for having us.

Josh Anderson:
Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on an Assistive Technology Update? If so, call our listener line at (317) 721-7124. Send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org, or shoot us an note on Twitter @indataproject. Our captions and transcripts for the show are sponsored by the Indiana Telephone Relay Access Corporation or InTRAC. You can find out more about InTRAC at relayindiana.com. A special thanks to Nicole Preto for scheduling our amazing guests and making a mess of my schedule. Today’s show was produced, edited, hosted, and fraught over by yours truly. The opinions expressed by our guest are their own and may or may not reflect those of the INDATA Project, Easter Seals Crossroads, are supporting partners, or this host. This was your Assistive Technology Update and I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. We look forward to seeing you next time. Bye-bye.

 

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