ATFAQ Feature Image Logo

ATFAQ171: Q1. Advice for New AT Providers, Q2. Digital Literacy and Assistive Technology, Q3. Alternative to Intellikeys USB Keyboard, Q4. iOS16 Accessibility, Q5. Wildcard: Who Do I Turn to as Someone New to Disability

Play

ATFAQ Feature Image Logo

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

ATFAQ171: Q1. Advice for New AT Providers, Q2. Digital Literacy and Assistive Technology, Q3. Alternative to Intellikeys USB Keyboard, Q4. iOS16 Accessibility, Q5. Wildcard: Who Do I Turn to as Someone New to Disability

—– Transcript Starts Here —–

Tracy Castillo:
I have a question.

Josh Anderson:
Huh?

Tracy Castillo:
Like what…

Josh Anderson:
I’ve always wondered.

Belva Smith:
What about…

Tracy Castillo:
Do you know?

Josh Anderson:
I have a question. I’ve always wondered…

Tracy Castillo:
I have a question.

Josh Anderson:
I have a question.

Belva Smith:
No, I have a question.

Tracy Castillo:
I have a question?

Belva Smith:
I have a question.

Brian Norton:
Welcome to ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions, with your host Brian Norton, Director of Assistive Technology at Easterseals Crossroads. This is a show where we address your questions about assistive technology, the hardware, software, tools, and gadgets, that help people with disabilities lead more independent and fulfilling lives.

Brian Norton:
Have a question you’d like answered it 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. Now, let’s jump into today’s show.

Brian Norton:
Hello, and welcome to ATFAQ, Episode 171. 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, I just want to take a moment to go around and introduce the folks who are here with me.

Brian Norton:
So, first is Josh. Josh Anderson is the manager of our Clinical Assistive Technology program and the popular host of AT Update, one of our other podcasts here at Easterseals Crossroads. Josh, do you want to say hi?

Josh Anderson:
Hi, everybody. Welcome.

Brian Norton:
Excellent, excellent. Next is Belva. Belva Smith is our Vision team Lead. She’s with our Clinical Assistive Technology program. And Belva, do you want to say hi?

Belva Smith:
Hello, everybody, and welcome to the show.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Then, last but not least, is Tracy. Tracy Castillo is our InData program manager. And Tracy, would you like to say hi?

Tracy Castillo:
Hey, everyone. Thanks for tuning in and listening.

Brian Norton:
Excellent, excellent. Well, hey, for new listeners, I want to take a moment and just talk to you about how the show works. We receive feedback and come across various assistive technology-related questions throughout the week, we put those all together and we put together a show, and then here at Easterseals Crossroads we sit around in a group and we try to answer those as best we can.

Brian Norton:
Couple of things that we need from you is first, we want you to be able to ask your questions, and so we’ve got a few different ways for you to get us your questions. The first is a listener line, that is, (317) 721 7124, where you can send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org, or you can send us a tweet with the hashtag, ATFAQ. If you have a question about assistive technology or an accommodation that you’re trying to put in place or think you would need, let us know. We’d love to be able to get those from you and be able to put those on our show and try to answer those as best we can.

Brian Norton:
We also receive feedback. Feedback is a great way for you to contribute to the show. We know that we don’t have all the answers, and we’re always looking for feedback, maybe to mention things that we don’t mention here or to be able to provide people thoughts about a particular accommodation that maybe we didn’t think of as we were putting our answers together.

Brian Norton:
So, provide your feedback in the same ways, through that listener line, through that email address, or you can send us a tweet. That’s a great way to be able to get just your feedback. Without further ado, we’re going to jump in to some feedback that we got based on a couple of episodes previously, specifically Episode 168.

Brian Norton:
We had done a back-to-school, a couple of shows, focused on back-to-school technology, and so we talked about AT for reading, AT for math, AT for note-taking, those types of things. So, we’ve got a couple of different pieces of feedback from some folks over there. So, the first one, I’m going to go ahead and play this message.

Brian Norton:
So, this message is from Tom. Tom is a listener and has provided feedback before on the show. So, let’s go ahead and hear what Tom had to say. I think this is an update on the Envision app as it relates to AT for reading, and so here we go.

Tom:
Hi. This is Tom from Long Island, New York. The Envision app is now totally free, even for the premium features. Their reasoning behind it is, they came up with the new Envision glasses. They figured if you like the app, you’ll love the glasses, but you might not love the price. It’s $2,500 and a $100-a-year subscription fee starting the third year.

Tom:
One good thing about the glasses though is, you can use Ira now on the glasses, so you can have hands-free usage. You had a person that needed help reading prescriptions, there is an app called Script Talk. It’s by a company called Envision America. They have no connection with Envision AI. You call the company and they will set you up with a participating pharmacist, and the pharmacist will put an RFI tag on your prescription. Now, the app…

Tom:
Or they’ll give you a standalone unit, which is free of charge, and it will give you all the information that’s on your label. Most major pharmacies participate, and even some mom & pop stores. It’s totally free, it’s very helpful. Hope this information helped you. Take care.

Brian Norton:
Excellent, Tom. Thank you for that feedback. That’s great feedback. I did not realize Envision AI had gone to a free version. I know that you used to have to pay a subscription fee for their app for some of those premium features, but that’s good information to have. And I didn’t realize they came out with Envision glasses either, so that’s news to me. Others?

Tracy Castillo:
I just think the Script app, what is that, did he call it Script Talk?

Brian Norton:
Mm-hmm.

Belva Smith:
That’s been around for a while. They used to actually have a standalone device that you could use. I think they still do have it, but they also have the app that’s available too. And the VA uses that a lot for some of the veterans that are visually impaired. And I just want to take a minute to say, hey Tom, we haven’t heard from you.

Tracy Castillo:
I know. Hi, Tom. Thank you for calling. Yeah. Okay. So, the tag is in the script, or I’m assuming you have a camera read the tag? Can you explain that a bit?

Belva Smith:
The Script Talk?

Tracy Castillo:
Yeah.

Belva Smith:
Well, with the Script Talk device you would simply put the bottle on top of the device and it would read it. Now, with the app, I think you just hold the bottle in front of it. And it’s called Script Talk Mobile. And it is both iOS and Android compatible, and it’s totally free to use. So, you basically just put the pill bottle in front of it and then it just gets that information and reads it. Actually, I used to have the app on my phone and I had taken it off, but I’m going to go ahead and put it on again just to see what it’s like because I haven’t used it in a long time.

Tracy Castillo:
Do your bottles have to have something special on them?

Belva Smith:
No. But a lot of the pharmacies do have prescription labels that are printed larger and made easier for people with vision impairment, if you just talk to your pharmacy.

Brian Norton:
I also find the pill packs that come out are pretty helpful as well because they’ll have the date and time and then also just how to use the medicine, and those kinds of things, just on individual packages for different days of the week and different times of the day. So, those are all very cool. Thank you, Tom, again, for chiming in and for that feedback. I’m glad we get to share that with our folks, and so really appreciate it.

Brian Norton:
Had a second bit of feedback. This is from Rosie. We had talked about math apps on Episode 168. And during that episode we talked about Photomath, Microsoft Math, several other programs as well, but she mentioned another app that I wasn’t familiar with called Splash! City. Splash! City looks like a pretty great app. There’s actually two programs. One is for primary students and then one is for secondary students.

Brian Norton:
So, what it looks like is, it looks like a pretty powerful tool for those folks that need to use a mathematical program as a graphics tool. And it looks pretty simple to use, it looks pretty self-explanatory, but it’s a graphical mathematical program or app for your tablet or device. So, I wanted to thank Rosie for mentioning Splash! City. There are Splash! City Primary and Splash! City Secondary.

Brian Norton:
Now, I think it’s made by a company out of the UK because they call their students “pupils”. I think that’s how I’m discerning that here. But it looks like a really good app and would recommend that folks check that out. Again, Splash! City Math, and so definitely do that. The other person that chimed in, this is a third bit of feedback, this is from Eric, he’s an AT specialist at the University of Idaho, and he mentioned a couple different things.

Brian Norton:
He mentioned Microsoft Immersive Reader as we think about tools for reading. He mentioned that that particular program or that tool or feature that Microsoft put out a while ago is also available in Edge. It’s the Microsoft Browser these days, and then also in OneNote. He mentions that Edge also has a built-in read-aloud feature.

Brian Norton:
So, if someone just wants text-to-speech and not the full immersive reader, that works with most PDFs, as long as they’ve been OCR-ed. And they can edit the PDFs, including adding different colored highlights just directly within that program. So, that’s a great one. And he also mentioned Equatio, I-O, which is basically a STEM tool. I think we may have mentioned that on the show briefly, but-

Belva Smith:
Josh mentioned that one.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, it’s a great app from Texthelp, which I believe that’s Texthelp, and so check that one out as well. Then, he also mentioned, for note-taking, that OneNote basically allows you to record audio into your notes. So, you can record audio while you’re taking notes. So, a lot like what we’ve mentioned maybe with Notability or AudioNote, which is a way to do that as well. OneNote does have that feature as well. And it’s a free Microsoft Office app, and so to definitely check that out as well.

Brian Norton:
So, a few different things. Thank you, Eric, for jumping in and providing some feedback. There were some other things that he mentioned and we’ll continue to put those into our shows as we go along. But Eric, thank you for the great email and for giving us some additional feedback on some other apps that maybe we didn’t get out there or fully explain or even mention, and so I appreciate that a lot.

Belva Smith:
Hey, Brian, I’ve got to jump in and correct myself. So, I did just put the Script Talk app on my phone, and yes, Tracy, the labels are special RFID labels, and so there are only certain pharmacies that can produce those labels. But if you download the app, as soon as you open it, it gives you an 800 number to call to find a list of pharmacies in your area, using your zip code, that can actually produce those labels.

Belva Smith:
I guess I didn’t remember or just didn’t realize that they were special labels. This has been around for more than a decade, they said. So, to me, that says it’s pretty good for something to last that long.

Brian Norton:
Absolutely.

Tracy Castillo:
Thanks, Belva.

Brian Norton:
Well, without further ado, we’re going to jump into the questions that we have for today. So, our first question is, what advice do you have for someone who is new to the field of assistive technology? And recently we just hired two people here with our program, and so, as you’re bringing someone in, what advice do you have for them as they get started?

Belva Smith:
That’s a really tough question. I know when I got hired I thought some of the things that I was bringing in was going to be helpful, but I remember asking, after I’d been there for a while, if some of my different certifications really helped. And though they may have played a small role, they weren’t the most important thing.

Belva Smith:
So, I think if you really have it in your heart and soul to do this type of work, your certifications and your experience is going to come as you do the job, but once you are in the field, it’s important to just always remember that you’re learning, you’re learning every day. And I always say, if I didn’t learn something today, that probably means I didn’t do something right.

Belva Smith:
One of my biggest go-to tools is the webinars. Most of them are free, some of them do have a small charge with them. But the webinars from the manufacturers are always a great way to learn about the different devices. And it’s important to learn about them all, even the ones that you may think that you might not ever have any need for, because you don’t really know.

Belva Smith:
I think getting your hands on the devices is also very helpful, and maybe building a relationship with your local vendor so that whenever something new is going to be released or is released, you’ll be one of the first people that they want to reach out to. But it’s important to know your technology, your adaptive technology.

Belva Smith:
It’s also important to be really good at Windows and Mac because now, especially, both of them are doing so much accessibility features in their operating systems that it’s really vital that you know all those things and who they might be able to help. So, I think that’s probably my biggest advice is just try to check out the webinars.

Belva Smith:
Podcasts are also a great tool. I do rely heavily on my podcasts, especially to learn about new things like Freedom Scientific. Their monthly podcast has almost always got some new feature that they’re going to talk about that I may have not known exist. And though I may not listen to the whole podcast, I can usually pick up what I want to know or what I need to know, and maybe just 10 or 15 minutes worth of listening, and then later go into the program itself and learning about it.

Brian Norton:
So, Velva, I think you brought up lots of good ones. Sorry Tracy, I didn’t mean to-

Tracy Castillo:
I know.

Brian Norton:
… I saw you raise your eager hand as I started to talk, sorry.

Tracy Castillo:
I’m [inaudible 00:16:03] on you.

Josh Anderson:
No, it’s fine. I was going to just really echo what Belva said. Yeah, listening to podcasts, getting that from the other experts. But you said probably the most important thing was, you’re never an expert on this. Even if you know everything there is to know about assistive technology, you don’t know everything there is to know about the individual you’re working with, what they need to know, what they want to know, and everything like that.

Josh Anderson:
And I know, I’ve worked with folks, it’s been a minute, but with Jaws and things like that, I’ve had questions, “Am I gonna be as good with Jaws as you are?” And I’m, “Oh, God, I hope you’re better cause you’re gonna use this every day to do stuff.” I know how to use it, yes, and I can, but as far as effectiveness, I hope you’re better than be by the time we get done with this because you’re going to be using it on a daily basis.

Josh Anderson:
So, I think, really, just continue to learn. I don’t know if there’s a great starting point besides just jumping in with both feet and just starting to learn and just continuing to learn from each person that you work with, from each piece of technology. And eventually you’ll get to the point where you’ll see pieces of technology and go, “Ah, that could’ve helped so and so,” or, “Oh, I gotta get a hold of so and so cause that’s gonna be able to help them,” or, “This would be great for this individual.”

Josh Anderson:
And you start putting those things together. But it’s just remembering that there’s always going to be more to learn. Something that was your favorite piece of technology might not be there next year, so make sure you know what the alternatives are. Then, I’m not going to steal Tracy, so I won’t say the next thing I was going to say because I know what she’s going to say next.

Tracy Castillo:
I will go down to-

Josh Anderson:
So, I’m going to stop. But yes, and listen to podcasts. And we have other podcasts you can listen to as well. So, you can always listen to AT Updater, or if you just want a little snippet, you can listen to Accessibility Minute and just learn a bit about assistive technology. But sometimes, actually, just finding out about technology could be the hard part. A simple Google search for assistive technology gives you some pretty weird results that aren’t always the most useful thing. Never mind. Tracy will tell you the rest. I’ll be quiet.

Tracy Castillo:
Oh, thank you, Josh, I really appreciate that. I want to echo what both of you said, but I’m going to phrase it like this. Be easy on yourself. Try everything. Try everything twice. Check things out from your state’s lending library. Schedule yourself a technology demo. If you don’t understand how the technology works, ask somebody, “Hey, can you show me this, how this works?”

Tracy Castillo:
If you think it’s really cool and neat, you want to really try it before you recommend it to a customer, because what I’ve noticed is, some of these devices don’t always provide what they say they’re going to provide. You guys said “podcast” twice. I do have podcast on here, but also, read your blogs, listen to podcasts. Did you know that we have a really great website loaded with all types of assistive technology information?

Tracy Castillo:
And you can reach our website no matter where you are. It’s eastersealstech.com. And on our website you’ll be connected with blogs, podcasts, trainings, and so much more, including our lending library. And if you want to get to your state’s lending library, go to eastersealstech.com/states, put in your state’s information, and you’ll be directed to their websites. So, that’s what I had. And I-

Belva Smith:
I’ve got one more little piece of advice too. Learn to be a good listener because each and every person you sit down with is going to have a different story, they’re going to have different needs, they’re going to have different experiences. And it’s from their information that you will be able to determine what’s going to be appropriate for their needs at that particular time. So, learn to be a good listener.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, I think you said it best there, Belva. Yeah, just listen because people are going to tell you most of what they need, where their barriers are and things like that. Then, as AT professional, it’s your job to help them find what those things are that can really help them out.

Brian Norton:
Yeah, I would agree with all that. I think the other thing too is, don’t get frustrated too quickly. I think it’s easy for folks who start a new job, they want to get good at that particular job and they want to do it quickly, but to your point, I think you guys all mentioned, it just takes time. Here at our place, it takes about a year before we’re letting anybody do anything, really, on their own. We’ll let them do some trainings and some installs based on what they know, but it takes a long time before you’re really ready to just launch into, really, anything and everything.

Brian Norton:
So, don’t get frustrated too quickly. I love the listening part. I always say, one size doesn’t fit all. If you’re working with one person who has cerebral palsy or any of the other disabilities that are out there, you’re just working with one person. So, listen,. All those kinds of things are all really good feedback.

Brian Norton:
I’d love to open this up to our listeners just to hear from them about what they think or what other advice they might have for folks who are new to the field of assistive technology. If you can give us a call on our listener line, provide some feedback, let us know those things, and we’ll make sure to get that out to folks. Our listener line is (317) 721-7124, or email us at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Love to hear from you. Thanks so much.

Brian Norton:
All right. So, our next question is, there is a significant push surrounding digital literacy among persons with disabilities these days. In fact, WIOA, which is federal legislation. If you’re not familiar with it, look it up. It’s good. It’s meant to provide better employment opportunities for folks with disabilities or to help spur that on.

Brian Norton:
Basically, in that legislation it says that digital literacy is a significant factor in the employability of persons with disabilities, and how do you see digital literacy and assistive technology services coinciding with one another. So, I’ll just open that up to the group.

Tracy Castillo:
I think I’ll start. Let me start. Can I start? Gosh, this one is, I feel so connected to this one because I’ve been working on this, Brian, and you know I have too. So, any document that you pass out must be accessible. I’m going to answer the question the way I think it should be answered, but if I miss something, please help me out. But any document that you pass out must be accessible to everyone. People should not need a helper to use a form.

Tracy Castillo:
Also, I was feeling this a bit, so I’m going to skip over what I wrote and then I’ll come back to it. But I had a few documents, and I was using them, and I thought that I learned something. And I learned that there’s a difference between a fillable PDF and an accessible PDF. And it’s very important in that, if you want to be the leader, to have all of those aspects. You want it to be fillable and you also want it to be accessible.

Tracy Castillo:
I took a couple weeks on one document, and I really believed in my heart of hearts that it was accessible. However, when I had someone go over it, issues popped up, and I started thinking to myself, I’ve gotten a little down, “Oh, my gosh, I didn’t figure it out.” But how can you or anybody say they’re going to be a disability service leader if their documents are fundamentally flawed or they have an employment application, however, many adults are not able to fill out that application because you can’t read it with a screen reader or have it read back to you.

Tracy Castillo:
Anyhow. I think it’s really important that people start looking at that. As we move more and more towards electronic formats and leaving the paper formats, we should really start making sure that, we might have a ramp in the door to help a person out, but we should also have a form that they can fill out. Anyways, that was my little soapbox. I’m going to step back off of it before I fall down.

Brian Norton:
Awesome, awesome.

Belva Smith:
Accessibility rides right along with usability, especially if you’re going to be publishing something online. If you’re going to be publishing a form online that you want folks to be able to access and use, it’s important that it’s usable, not just readable. I don’t feel I personally have a whole lot of experience with the accessible portions of the web, but I can remember, maybe 15 years ago, if you did a search for accessible website, you would usually find the tool called Bobby. And Bobby might be the only one you would find.

Belva Smith:
Now, if you go to Google and put in “accessible website”, there’re pages of them, which is good. People are waking up and realizing that accessibility, usability is key to success for a lot of different businesses. Think about it, all of the mom & pop type web businesses that popped up, especially over the pandemic, where they want you to go to their website and be able to shop their product and place your order, well, if I’m an individual that needs assistance to be able to do that, if I can’t do it independently, I’m probably just going to close the page and forget about it.

Belva Smith:
But hey, if I can independently place an order for some special cookies or special balloons, then I’m going to be all excited about it, I’m going to tell everybody, “Hey, I went to this website and I was able to order this by myself.” So, using those tools, and there are some that are free, there are some that you pay for, there are companies out there that will help you make sure that not only do you get your page accessible, but it remains accessible.

Belva Smith:
Because oftentimes that information on your website is going to change on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, and you’ve got to make sure that that new content falls into the accessible portion too. I know Brian and Josh have a lot more experience with this, so, I think I’m going to step back and let you guys educate.

Brian Norton:
Well, let me just throw out here too, let me go back to the question a bit. So, I think there’s some terminology things that get a little mixed up here a bit. So, there’s digital accessibility, which I think is what we’re talking about right now. That’s the web and document accessibility. Then, there’s another term out there that’s getting some popularity as well.

Brian Norton:
It’s “digital literacy”, and that’s basically how do you use those tools, how do you use the internet, how do you use a word processor, how do you use your smartphone and the apps on your smartphone to be able to not only find information, but how do you use the device itself, and those types of things. So, in this particular question, we’re focusing on digital literacy, but I think it all runs together.

Brian Norton:
And when we talk about how it coincides with the assistive of technology, I think some of what we’ve already talked about does come to light and is a big part of that because when you think about digital literacy in assistive of technology, if you’re using a piece of assistive technology, if you’re using a screen reader, if you’re using a voice-input system, I think there’s a lot to your ability to be able to be able to use the tools and use them to be able to find information.

Brian Norton:
So, I think they live together. I think it’s all wrapped up. In my mind, I’ve got it wrapped up in a nice burrito, if you will. I know, maybe I just need Mexican food for lunch or something like that. I’m hungry. Anyways. No, I’m just thinking, it all wraps up, because again, I often comment, when we’re doing Jaws training, we’ll just use screen readers, because I think, in many situations, if you can make something screen reader accessible, you’ve probably hit the highest bar there is for most things.

Brian Norton:
So, if you can make it screen reader accessible, it’s probably going to work with pretty much most every other assistive technology tool out there. And I’m sure there’s going to be people who are going to call and say, “Hey, that’s not quite the fact,” but I think it is a really high bar. And if you can hit that bar, you’re doing pretty well.

Brian Norton:
But with that being said, if you’re using a screen reader, your access or your ability to use different types of platforms, whether that’s a smartphone, a tablet, a computer, other types of things, a website, an accessible document, well, you have a different bar to be able to hit with your ability to be able to use those tools and to be able to access those tools, be able to find the information you’re looking for.

Brian Norton:
So, I think there’s a lot to be said about… In this particular question it mentioned WIOA, saying that digital literacy was a significant factor in the employability of persons with disabilities. I think that’s absolutely true. If you think about applications these days, you don’t fill out a paper application and turn it in at the front desk anymore. You basically go online and you fill something out. And to your point, accessible websites, accessible documents are what the people are going to be using.

Brian Norton:
So, when using a screen reader, when using a voice-input tool, you want to make sure that those things are accessible, and that the person has the right types of tools. If they don’t have the right tool, they aren’t going to be able to use whatever they’re trying to get access to. Again, smartphone, tablet, computer, other types of technology.

Brian Norton:
So, I think there is a significant relationship between digital literacy and assistive technology and digital accessibility, for sure. I think that all lives in the same space. So, I think there’s a lot to be said about that stuff. So, I would love to open this up to our listeners. If you have any feedback on digital literacy, digital accessibility as it relates to assistive technology services and those types of things, let us know. You can give us a call on our listener line, that’s (317) 721-7124, or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Would love to hear from you. Thanks.

Brian Norton:
All right. So, our next question is, I am looking for an alternative to the now unsupported IntelliKeys USB keyboard. My client has targeting issues and needs a larger keyboard with larger keys to use the computer. Any suggestions? And let me just chime in there. That is one of the things, over the years there’s been a few different types of assistive technology devices that have gone by the roadside that have really impacted me personally because I personally loved the IntelliKeys USB keyboard.

Brian Norton:
I used it a lot for some of the individuals that I would say had targeting issues where, and when I say “targeting issues”, is when you’re using a regular-sized keyboard and they’re trying to hit a particular button and they accidentally hit the wrong one or they hit two keys at the same time, those types of things. So, that IntelliKeys keyboard was awesome because each key had a one by one, it was an inch by inch, so they were very large.

Brian Norton:
Then, you can also do some different settings with it so that you had to press a button for a particular amount of time before it actually put it in the computer. It was a really good keyboard. We still have quite a few of them around our Assistive Technology program, but only for nostalgia, if you will, because we don’t recommend them because again, they’re not supported very well and they’re hard to find and those types of things. So, any other suggestions you guys would have as far as large key keyboards for folks?

Belva Smith:
So, there is a big keys plus color corded keyboard, nowhere near the size of the other keyboard, but much larger than a standard corded keyboard. And the arrow keys are often a little diamond-shaped. But for some reason, I’m looking here, and they’re saying that that keyboard is $477 at two different places and I’m really not sure why, because I don’t think that that programmable.

Belva Smith:
The next cheapest one that I see is from a company that we use a lot when we’re looking for special devices, called LSNS. They have a keyboard called Big Keys. It comes with black keys or white keys, and very similar to the other one, at 477, but this one is only 205 only. 205, still very expensive. But perhaps looking into one of those with a key guard might be helpful to help make their target a little more narrowed, and then also maybe trying to use one of the stylists or the, what are those keyboard tapper things?

Brian Norton:
Your typing aids that go over your hands?

Belva Smith:
Yeah, the typing aids.

Josh Anderson:
Typing aids.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. I think using one of those with a key guard might be helpful. I don’t know if this particular listener is in our area or not, but I do know that in our lending library we would have those devices. I don’t think we have the $477 keyboard, but we do have one of the Big Keys keyboards, and I’m pretty sure we have key guards for it as well, and the typing aids. So, that would be something that you could certainly try. Again, it’s not going to replace the IntelliKey, unfortunately, but it could be a good second best.

Tracy Castillo:
I saw the Big Key ones.

Brian Norton:
I-

Tracy Castillo:
Oh. Yeah, I saw the Big Key ones. Those were really nice. And I was going to mention too, a key guard, that will help with the targeting. And when I looked at the IntelliKeys, was that the one that was flat that you had the overlays on it?

Brian Norton:
Mm-hmm.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah.

Tracy Castillo:
Oh. So, there was no buttons on it.

Brian Norton:
No. It was almost touching… I always compared it to a calculator where you have just a slight touch to it. But no, there are no real physical buttons to it.

Belva Smith:
No. And I will say too, with that Big Keys keyboard, I have had clients that use that. I don’t like the spring, the push on that.

Tracy Castillo:
The mechanicalness of it?

Belva Smith:
Yeah. That’s why I would definitely look at the typing aid with it because you’ve got to put some force to it. Don’t let me scare you away from it, because it’s not enough to scare you away.

Tracy Castillo:
When I first read the question though, I was thinking of a mechanical keyboard, and I saw this TikTok where someone had purchased this huge keyboard that was twice the size of a normal keyboard, and the buttons on it were extremely large. Then, I went to Amazon and I looked at one. Like I said, it’s still a mechanical one, but it’s super big, 61 keys, and it’s going to be 60% larger than a regular one, and that’s running about $150.

Belva Smith:
And keep in mind, for this person, too, if you’re especially in the Windows environment, there are some settings in the keyboard settings that you can adjust how long you have to press a key or whether you want to use sticky keys. So, look in the settings at the keyboard settings and see if making some changes there might also be helpful for the individual.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. And they haven’t ever made anything to replace the IntelliKeys, especially all the different overlays you could put on, you could use it as an accessible mouse, and there were so many different things that you could do with it. I did find, if you go to AT Makers, look that up, they have drivers and things, so that if you do have an old one, you may still be able to get it to work even with Windows 10.

Josh Anderson:
So, if you do have an older one, there’s a slim chance that maybe you can get it to work. And I’d say probably ride that thing about as long as you can because it doesn’t seem like there’re any plans to make anything like it completely again. Then, everybody brought up really good points. And if you’re looking for just a bigger keyboard just because of targeting, there’s like the KinderBoard, the Vision board. They run close to about a 100 bucks, and then they just have much larger keys.

Josh Anderson:
But as everybody else said, they are mechanical. So, if it’s a bit more than just targeting, that could be an issue. And I think that they have the key guards for those already available as well. So, if you do need just some extra help with targeting or where you’re not mashing a bunch of buttons at the same time, something like that might be able to help. But really, and I don’t even remember if anybody said this, and if you did Tracy, I’m sorry to do it, but try your local loan library, definitely, for sure.

Josh Anderson:
Not really to even try to steal their IntelliKeys keyboard, don’t do that, but maybe borrow some of these things that are like it and just test them out, see how the targeting goes, try some of the little… Oh, I just forgot the name of them too, Belva, the key helpers, the pokey things. That’s not what they’re called.

Brian Norton:
Typing aids, there you go.

Josh Anderson:
Typing aids.

Belva Smith:
Typing aids, yeah.

Josh Anderson:
Which is what they do. You’d think that’d be an easy one to remember, but that one escapes me every single time. But maybe even try that in conjunction with some other things. And you might be able to find something that… Again, it is not going to be the same. It’s probably maybe not even going to be as accessible or as usable, but I think if you try out a couple different things, maybe mix and match some things together, you might be able to find something that’s still usable and can still get you to where you might need to be.

Brian Norton:
I agree with all that. Especially the sentiment on, nothing’s really come out to replace, really, that IntelliKeys keyboard. It was a pretty special keyboard that did a whole lot more than just having big keys, and so definitely disappointing that it’s gone away. But there are some other options out there. I would love to open this up to our listener line, that’s (317) 721-7124, or through our email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org.

Brian Norton:
If you have any feedback, if you have other types of keyboards or you found something that is maybe similar in nature, if you have, I’d love to know about it because I really do wish we still had access to that IntelliKeys keyboard, but if there are some alternatives out there, let us know what you guys are using in situations like this. We’d love to hear from you. Thanks so much.

Brian Norton:
All right. So, our next question is, iOS 16 is here. What new accessibility features are there and what have you been impressed with so far?

Belva Smith:
So, I did put iOS 16 on my phone this morning only because I’m expecting my new watch tomorrow, and I’ve been told that I need to have iOS 16 for it to work. So, I’ve not had a whole lot of time to really take a deep dive into any of the new features/accessibility features. But if you go to that AppleVis website, I think they talk about 16 different new accessibility features in iOS 16.

Belva Smith:
But the one that gets me excited is, Siri can now, this is huge for some of my consumers, can now end a phone call, and it can now turn the phone off, both very big because I have a lot of consumers, whether it’s visual impairment or just dexterity, whatever, usually more than one thing that prevents them from getting to that red end-call button. Also, the slide to turn off, though it’s easy for most, it can be very complicated for some.

Belva Smith:
So, the ability to ask Siri to end a call and turn the phone off is absolutely great, and I can’t wait to give that a try. And to look for that, in case anybody is already running the 16 update, you’re going to find that not where you would think, because you might think that you would find it under the “Siri” in the settings, but it’s actually under “accessibility” and then “Siri”.

Belva Smith:
And you can also control how Siri listens to you. So, you can adjust whether she’s listening at a longer amount of time or a slower amount of time. So, if you have someone that maybe has a bit of pause in their speech as they’re speaking to Siri, you can now adjust that. They only do have three features or three options, but hey, that’s better than what we had before.

Belva Smith:
The other thing that I thought was going to be exciting is the door detection, which is available under the magnifier. But I’ve got to tell you all, I did try to go take a look at that and I couldn’t find it. It says that it’s in the bottom right-hand corner of the magnifier app and I did not see it.

Belva Smith:
But those are the three things that really caught my attention. One thing I have noticed is, when my phone is in locked screen, my clock is huge, and I didn’t do anything to make it like that. It’s just, that’s the way it’s displayed now. So, I think some folks will really enjoy that. Has anybody else took the dive and updated?

Brian Norton:
I did update. Couple things that I found really helpful, dictation’s changed a bit or a lot, depending on how much you used it in the past. I found what I like is, I do like the auto punctuation. It’s not as accurate as I think it should be, but it does now automatically add punctuation, commas, and periods. I’ve found it about 80% accurate. Sometimes it doesn’t put it out there at all, so that’s a little confusing. So, I’d always say go back and look and see, make sure what it put down is what you wanted.

Brian Norton:
But it does do punctuation, which in a lot of instances really does speed things up for you. I also noticed that they also have Eloquence now as a synthesizer option, and I think that’s something that a lot of people prefer. It’s a bit more natural sounding. So, when you’re using voiceover or other types of text-to-speech applications, you have a lot more natural-sounding voice options. So, that was pretty impressive as well.

Brian Norton:
Then, I think a lot of the text-to-speech options are now also able to be spoken in many different languages. I think there’s actually 20 additional languages, and so you can take a look at those as well. So, I don’t know, I feel it’s been a good update. I’m excited to get it on my iPad. We’ve got a couple of presentations, unfortunately, this week where we’re using our iPad, and it’s coming out this week, from what I hear.

Brian Norton:
IPad OS 16 is coming out this week, and so I’m a little nervous to go ahead and update because I’m afraid it’s not going to work on some of my apps, it won’t work for the presentations I have, but there are some things I’d love to be able to try out and-

Belva Smith:
Never update before a presentation, Brian.

Josh Anderson:
No. No, no, no, no.

Brian Norton:
I know, I know. But… Yes?

Belva Smith:
Is this just my hopeful wishing or have you noticed any speed improvements in your phone since you’ve done it, because I feel mine’s a little quicker opening and closing.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, it seems to be. And mine, when I was at 15.7 or whatever the one before it was, it had some issues with charging. It seemed to drain my battery a little quicker, and that seems to have been fixed. I don’t know if that’s anything, but what we’re talking about the accessibility ones, what about live captions? Have you guys played with that at all? I’m sorry, Tracy. Tracy just looked at me and was mad. I’m sorry.

Tracy Castillo:
Oh, my goodness. Are you reading my notes?

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, I am.

Tracy Castillo:
What’s it called?

Josh Anderson:
It’s called “live captions”. So, it’s settings, accessibility, live captions. So, this you can have captions on your FaceTime calls, and also pretty much system-wide velva. This is also supposed to connect to a braille display.

Tracy Castillo:
Oh, wow.

Josh Anderson:
So, if you really think that would mean that you may be able to have a conversation with somebody using a braille display who can read braille without an interpreter, it’s beta, it’s AI, I wouldn’t 100% trust it, but in a pinch, it may very well work, because it’s supposed to actually connect those captions to a braille display. Now, again, it’s got the little quotes, “beta”, around it, which means it’s being built. But if you remember, Siri was beta when it first was released to the public too, and it just learned and got smarter and better.

Josh Anderson:
So, while live captions may or may not be the best thing in iOS 16, I guarantee in 17, 18, 20, wherever it goes from here, it’ll probably be wonderful. I have not really played with it a whole heck of a lot, but it lets you change the size of the text, where it is, the color of the background, how opaque, yeah, it’s opacity, I’ll get that word one of these days.

Josh Anderson:
But it offers you some pretty good things that could be really helpful for folks, especially if you think about FaceTime calls, which have been great for accessibility because you can have an interpreter on there or other tools, but now you can actually have captions. So, for folks that are hard of hearing or just maybe any auditory processing disorder, that can maybe read a bit easier having that kind of feedback.

Josh Anderson:
And like I said, if that can connect to a braille display as well, that opens up a whole new world of conversation. Now, if you weren’t able to communicate verbally, I don’t know how you’d communicate back in a FaceTime call, but it could just give you an extra tool in the toolbox maybe to help with communication with folks. And I’m sure you’ll think of all kinds of creative ways to play around with that too.

Brian Norton:
It makes me want to jump on my iPad right now and see that in action, or my iPhone-

Josh Anderson:
Well, Id say, Brian, it’s not going to work on your iPad because you’re just going to snap and get frustrated looking for that key. But…

Tracy Castillo:
Do you guys know when you use the iPad and how you can have that little button and you can touch it and you can have touch-screen where you want to talk? I forget what that’s called. So, if you wanted to read a paragraph, you-

Josh Anderson:
Oh, yeah, yeah. About the speak screen or speak selection, those things?

Tracy Castillo:
Yes.

Belva Smith:
Speak screen, yeah.

Tracy Castillo:
So, the live captions has a little button on it that you can touch and it’ll open up and it gives you a text-box size of information. Then, there’s a pause, there’s a microphone, so if you want to start transcribing, you would hit the microphone and it starts transcribing, and you can make the letters as big or as little as you need them to be.

Tracy Castillo:
I was really looking forward to this update, because on my son’s phone, he’s got an Android, so it was already built in. There was a caption button underneath the volume button for the telephone calls. I don’t know what’s going on… But some FaceTime calls are better than others. Sorry about that. Some FaceTime calls are better than others, some phone calls are better than others. You can sometimes hear somebody, and then sometimes you just don’t really know what they’re saying, it’s a little jarbled.

Tracy Castillo:
So, I’m looking forward to trying out this one with the FaceTime call. So, I’ll call someone FaceTime to see if I can actually understand what they’re saying when maybe the data’s not so great. Anyways. The little “live caption” button is right there and you can turn it on, and it can just live on your screen until you need to use it.

Brian Norton:
Love it, love it. There’s a lot to iOS 16, and I would love to open this up to our listeners. If you’ve had a chance to download the iOS 16 onto your device, let us know what you think of the accessibility features or what your favorite accessibility feature is or improvement. You Give us a call on our listener line, that’s (317) 721-7124, or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. We’d love to hear from you. Thanks so much.

Josh Anderson:
Now, it’s time for the wild card question.

Brian Norton:
Without further ado, we’re going to jump into our wild card question today. And this is a question that Belva’s has had time to think about, and we haven’t had any time to prepare for it. So, Belva, what do you got for us today?

Belva Smith:
Well, this is going to go back to our first question, and I have this question because I got a phone call earlier today with this question. Young lady called me and said, “I’ve recently lost my vision, and I’m totally blind, can’t work anymore. I’m afraid to go out in public. What do I do, who do I call?” So, my question to you all is, because this happens every day to somebody, where do you start if you wake up and your life has changed because of some physical disability that you maybe didn’t have yesterday?

Brian Norton:
I think that’s a really good question because I think there aren’t really good answers for that, because I find myself, I remember we’ve been doing the Assistive Technology Act program, and that’s what we’re all about, we’re all about providing information, making people aware of the great things that are out there. But I talk till I’m blue in the face, I’ve been to many different conferences, small groups, all these kinds of things, and it’s just hard for people to get in front of everybody.

Brian Norton:
So, I walk in and people are always, “Man, I’ve never heard of you guys. This is amazing what you do,” those types of things. So, I think it’s really hard to get people… There’s no information czar when it comes to disability and the things that impact people in the world of disability, and so I think that’s super hard.

Brian Norton:
I would say, probably the place I would send folks is the Assistive Technology Act. We here at the InData program and where there’s 56 other programs, so if you’re in the United States, you live in any of the states or territories, there’s a program, and one of the things that we offer is information and referral. Not just referral to the things that we do, the services we provide, but also to other folks who have other services.

Brian Norton:
So, we’re constantly learning about other organizations, other agencies that do amazing things, and we are able to pull information and resources together. So, if you have an accommodation question, our answer for folks, if you have an accommodation question, call us. We’re going to talk with you. We might be able to provide a service to you, but we might also be able to direct you to someone who is in your local area, within our state, whatever state that you’re in, to be able to help provide some assistance to you for whatever your particular need is.

Brian Norton:
I just think it’s hard to find and to know everything. And I’m been doing this for 25 years and I’m constantly learning new things and saying, “Oh, I didn’t realize that resource was out there.” So, I’m in the boat with everybody else. I’m constantly learning and trying to gather information and recording that information so I can provide it to other folks.

Tracy Castillo:
Belva, that was a really deep question. That was so super deep. What do you do? I don’t know. I’ve not been in that position. I would try to start my day out, always, and just look for the good, even if it’s just one bit of good. The dog didn’t poop on the carpet today, wonderful. But to reach out, get into some support, find people that are going through what you are going through, look for those support groups.

Tracy Castillo:
I know that we do offer a Facebook page for people for TBI. Brian’s been posting in that page. So, if you find yourself with a TBI, you can reach out to our Facebook page and communicate with those individuals and find you some support. That would probably be my first thing is to surround myself with things that are going to help me internally and put me back at my baseline, and then start working on accommodating.

Josh Anderson:
So, I think Brian said it well, every state in the United States has an AT Act, and while assistive technology isn’t going to probably be the first thing that you need, they do have that information and referral. So, while they might not provide all the services that may be needed, they will probably be able to push you in the right direction.

Josh Anderson:
And since those are all grant-funded, you know they’re going to be a pretty unbiased resource, biased in the way of, these people aren’t very helpful. These are, but not biased in the way of trying to sell you something or anything on that side, which can be a bit helpful. Also, just… I’m trying to think because there’s a lot of government programs that can help, but a lot of them are based depending on need.

Josh Anderson:
Vocational Rehabilitation’s an amazing resource if you’re trying to work, if you have a vocation. What’s the other one? BDDS, the Bureau of Developmental Disability Services, is helpful if you need to go on waiver, if you have a disability that puts you in line for that. But they may or may not know about everything that the other one does or everything that other ones can do for you out there, whereas, I feel your ATX are going to have that information referral person that can at least steer you in the right direction.

Josh Anderson:
If it’s not something that they or their organization helps with, they’ll know which ones do, and be able to get you in touch with them, and probably tell you who to call. And my guess is, Belva, that’s why this person called you.

Belva Smith:
Yeah. She had actually been referred to call me because somehow she had heard about the I Can Connect program, and as you mentioned, Josh, most of these programs, there’s a scope that you’ve got to fall into, and though she didn’t fall into that one, they were hoping that I might be able to give her some good advice for what might be beneficial to her.

Belva Smith:
I’m grateful that we get these calls, but I want to say, I don’t like them because I don’t feel I have a good answer. No matter what, there’s just not a good answer because it’s not like I can say, “Oh, call 1-800 and fix it,” and they’ll get it all taken care of for you, because there’s no one organization or group that’s going to be able to help this individual.

Belva Smith:
Now, they truly need a village of people to work with them and support them and help guide them through all of the changes that life is about to dish out. And I would love to say, and Brian, your first answer was my first answer, contact InData. They can then begin to tell you about some of the different technologies that are available and that might be helpful for you, but then it becomes, how do you get it, because she’s not working.

Belva Smith:
Then, you have to figure out, “Oh. Well, I found this device that’s going to be wonderful, but I don’t know how am I going to get it.” And I think support groups are so important. She didn’t live in the city, but I did advise her to try to find some local support groups because I do think that they’re key to her success.

Belva Smith:
And I’m sorry my dog wants to put his two cents in. But I think just, where do you get started if you need the technology, it goes back to if you’re just getting started in the field, where do you start, what do you want to know? A village. You need a village to work with you and support you.

Brian Norton:
Yep. I totally agree. It does take a village, and you need to find organizations that can find the support and maybe starting with your AT Act will actually turn you onto another organization who can then help you further. But there is no one-stop shop a lot of times, but we’re going to try to be as helpful as we can to be able to get you the information that you need.

Brian Norton:
Hey, I’d love to open this up for folks. If you have a good answer for the question today, where do you turn when you’re looking for information? Would love to hear from you. Would love to be able to get that back out to our listeners. You can do that through our listener line, that’s (317) 721-7124, or through an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Please, let us know if you have any suggestions in those areas.

Brian Norton:
Also, we’re going to wrap up the show. I want to give our panel a chance to say goodbye today. Thank you, guys, for chiming in. Appreciate it always. Josh, I’ll start with you, do you want to say, bye?

Josh Anderson:
Bye, everybody. Thanks for hanging out with us today.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Then, Tracy?

Tracy Castillo:
Bye, everyone.

Brian Norton:
Excellent. Then, Belva.

Belva Smith:
There we go. Thanks everybody for the great questions and for joining us this week, and we’ll see you on the next show.

Brian Norton:
Excellent, excellent. Thanks, everybody. Appreciate you. Give us a call. Without your questions we don’t have a show at all, without your feedback. We may be leaving some things off the plate or off the answer board for the folks that are giving us a call and sending in their questions. So, let us know those as well. Thanks so much. Have a great couple weeks and we will see you later.

Josh Anderson:
And it seems like every week we have at least one blooper, so here you go.

Brian Norton:
Diet Coke is my friend. Answer things quickly. One-word answers are fine, [inaudible 01:01:10] answers are not. I don’t know-

Josh Anderson:
I’ll just mute myself and that’ll cut out some time. Donuts…

Brian Norton:
I like it. Donuts.

Josh Anderson:
Donut nuts.

Brian Norton:
All right. 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.

Brian Norton:
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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.