Friday, December 20, 2013

Information at Your Fingertips: Text Messages on Early Childhood and Assistive Technology


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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

3 Great New Accessibility Features in iOS 7

Apple just launched the new iPhones and along with them a major update to the iPhone and iPad operating system called iOS 7. iOS 7 has a brand new look and a slew of new features that is available for the iPad 2 and newer, iPhone 4 and newer, and the 5th generation iPod Touch. (for a full list of supported devices visit http://www.apple.com/ios/whats-new/) As with the last few OS updates Apple has added a handful of new accessibility features and here are our three favorites.

Switch Control

Screen shot of an iPad running iOS 7 with Switch Control turned on.

Since the iPad was first released people have been coming up with creative ways to allow switch users to access them but it’s never worked that well, until now. Built into the iOS is now a robust switch control system that works everywhere on the device. Setting it up takes only a few steps. If you turn on this feature and are having trouble getting around press the home button three times in a row to turn Switch Control off.

Screenshot of the Switch Control menu on the iPad

Setup Your Switches


The iPad supports three types of switches. First you can use the screen as a giant switch, second you can use the front facing camera as a switch that activates when you tilt your head to the side, and third you can use an external switch connected wirelessly via BlueTooth or wired through the Apple Camera Connector kit.

Switch Control supports most of the Bluetooth iPad switches/switch interfaces available on the market (we tried the AbleNet Blue2 Switch, RJ Cooper Bluetooth Switch, and the AirTurn page turning switch and they all worked great)

Wired Switch interfaces are more limited. A handful of USB based switch interfaces plugged into the Apple USB Camera Connector Kit work, just ignore the warning about the device not being supported. WARNING: Of the interfaces we tested only a few worked. The Quizworks USB Switch Interface and the StealthSwitch Interface worked without issues but the Don Johnston Interface Pro 6, and the Hitch Switch Interface did not. Be sure to check with the manufacturer before making any purchases.

Choose What Your Switch Does


After you plugin and add your switches to the switches section you can decide what will happen when that switch is pressed. It can scan through options on the screen, make a selection, press the home button, change the volume, and more.

Adjust Your Scanning Settings


Switch Control allows you to customize how the scanning feature operates on your device. Some of the adjustments you can make include:
  • Choosing between Auto scanning or step scanning
  • Adjusting scanning speed
  • Creating a press and hold activation delay
  • Adding audio feedback
  • Changing the scanning cursor size and color
  • And more…

Dynamic Font


Part of the new look of iOS 7 is the use of a new, very thin font. Although cool and trendy, the new font can be difficult to read, especially if you have a vision impairment. The good news is iOS 7 gives you new ways to adjust the font on your device.

First you have the option of changing the system font to a bold typeface, making the letters thicker and easier to read.

Split image showing regular vs bold typeface


The other new adjustment is called Dynamic Type. Moving the slider in the Larger Type section of Accessibility will increase the size of the font in apps that support Dynamic Type. For example the iOS Calendar, Notes, and Reminders all support Dynamic Type. Increasing the font size of the text in these apps isn’t new but allowing developers to use Dynamic Type in their apps is.

Screen Shot of the Reminders app on an iPad with Dynamic Type set to Extra large

Custom Subtitles


The first version of iOS supported subtitles in videos but they often appeared very small. Later versions of iOS fixed the issue by increasing the size of the captions. But now you have full control of how captions look from font size to color to opacity. You can even create and store multiple styles for easy switching. They even let you preview your subtitles over a light colored background as you create them.


And More


There are even more changes to the accessibility settings in iOS 7 that you should explore. They even moved the Accessibility menu to the top section of Settings > General making for quicker navigation. Here are a few more things worth checking out:
  • New enhanced quality voices for VoiceOver and Speak Selection
  • Increase contrast on some backgrounds for better legibility
  • Visual Labels for On/Off buttons
  • Turn off the motion of the parallax effect (that is the 3D effect you see when tilting your device back and forth in the main menu)

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Dog Ate Your Homework....Project Report? Developing Organization Skills


By Tara Bruss, Assistive Technology Specialist, PACER’s Simon Technology Center
Ethan is an intelligent adult who is capable of living independently and maintaining employment. His biggest complaint is that he has a difficult time keeping track of his important papers, notes and making it to his appointments on time. A typical day for Ethan begins in a rush to make it to work on time. He feels that something almost always seems to come up or go wrong and delays him.
At work, Ethan stares at the mound of paperwork on his desk and tries to identify where to begin. He spends some time digging through to find the notes he thought he wrote to himself the other day. Not succeeding, he proceeds by selecting the first item on the pile to work on. A few hours later a co-worker comes by and asks how his latest project is going. Ethan panics as he remembers his project deadline later that afternoon. He changes his focus to this project as he again begins digging through the pile.
Ethan works furiously and finishes a few minutes past deadline and makes a mad dash to the location where he must present his project. He arrives late and appears a little scattered. He composes himself and delivers a great presentation of his project, but with much stress leading up to the event and a poor first impression.
If this sounds like someone you know, you realize how essential organization skills are for daily living. Yet many people who have a full toolbox of these skills are at a loss as how to help them-selves or someone else develop a successful organization plan. Skills and abilities closely connected to organization, such as memory and the ability to maintain focus, are also crucial to a person’s ability to be effective and efficient in daily living and to accomplish long-term goals. While organization is a skill that can be difficult to teach and to learn, there are tools and strategies that can help individuals create habits and a system that works for them.
Some individuals with particular disabilities generally have a difficult time with organization skills. For example, individuals with attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) may have a hard time focusing their attention and may benefit from a reminder or an interval alarm system. Someone who has traumatic brain injury (TBI) may need an electronic agenda or planner with alarms and notifications. When developing an organization strategy or system of tools, the most important factors to consider are the individual’s needs, strengths, environments, goals, and preferences.
Start Small
As with most skills, the learning process begins when individuals realize their need for new skills and how those new skills can help them reach their goals and build on their strengths.
To get started, individuals can first define:
  • their organization goal
  • the environment(s) in which the strategy will take place
  • the time at which the strategy will take place
  • which tools to use
  • how the tools will be used to help implement the strategy
Starting small with simple strategies is the first step. It’s also important to establish patterns and routines for any organization strategy, practice it consistently, and monitor the progress to see if the strategy is helping to reach his or her organization goals. Rewarding (by ones-self or someone else) an individual for practicing a new strategy can be an effective motivation. As individuals begin to practice an organization strategy, they may need reminders. At first it may be acceptable for reminders to come from a person, but only for a very limited time. If individuals need recurring reminders, they will want to use a tool, or memory aid, to gain independence and ownership over their skills.
The next step is to gain independence in remembering or using memory aids, and initiating the strategy. As an individual continues to practice a particular organization strategy, it will become a habit, lessening the cognitive load of planning, remembering, and processing through the strategy.
To develop a skill, it’s important to schedule appointed time(s) within each day to work on it. For example, an individual may want to schedule a 15-minute time slot in the morning, mid-day and again in the later afternoon to review the day’s schedule and tasks. During this time, individuals can also note any changes that need to be made. Creating templates specific to an individual’s needs may also be helpful. Some examples include: checklists of all materials needed for an activity, task lists for a transition time such as what to do when first entering or leaving a specified room, and checklists for recurring tasks.
Six Life Categories to Consider
The following categories help define different elements of a person’s life that are affected by organization skills:
  • Environmental/spatial: the positioning of physical surroundings; the location and placement of objects.
  • Task planning/executing: planning and executing steps to accomplish clearly defined goals (examples: doing laundry, cleaning the bedroom, completing projects).
  • Event planning/executing: planning and executing an event held on a set date and time involving coordination of people, places, and things.
  • Time management: planning and executing a schedule, appointments and maintaining timeliness.
  • Information: storing and saving information in locations where it is easy and relevant to retrieve.
  • Writing composition: arranging thoughts and research into sequential, coherent written communication.
Of course, these categories can and often do affect one another. Effective organization of one category may also require effective organization of an additional category. If you were coordinating an event, for example, you would also need to be mindful of time management. Helpful tools, such as an audio notetaker, a calendar app, bins and tubs, or a Smartpen, may also be appropriate for more than one category.
Related Resources:
Stay tuned for parts two and three, which will offer practical strategies and tools for each organization category.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cool Tools for Back to School

This post is a copy of the handout created for the Cool Tools for Back to School Presentation on July 30, 2013.

Cool Tools for Back to School

Device Accessories

Cases

Gumdrop | iOS, Android, Windows| $35-$60
- www.gumdropcases.com
Poetic Tablet Case | iOS, Android, Windows | $20-$50
- www.yourpoetic.com
OtterBox | iOS, Android, Kindle | $25-$120
- www.otterbox.com
LifeProof | iOS | $60-$130
- www.lifeproof.com

Keyboard Cases

ChesterKeys&Case for iPad | iOS | $90-$100
- www.chestercreek.com/iPadCases.html
Clamcase | iOS | $150
- www.clamcase.com

Styluses

Bamboo Stylus Solo | $30
- www.wacom.com
Cosmonaut | $25
- www.studioneat.com/products/cosmonaut
Boxwave iPad Stylus | $15
- www.boxwave.com/stylus/bwcd/z/
XStylus Plus | $40
- www.amazon.com/XStylus-Capacitive-Stylus-Magnetic-Holder/dp/B006P9HWJ2
iFaraday SALT | $20
- www.ifaraday.com
Adjustable Touch Screen - Stylus Enabling Devices | $80
- tinyurl.com/adjustablestylus

Mounts

Mount’n Mover System | iOS, Android, Windows | Price Varies
- www.mountnmover.com
Beyond Adaptive Mount | iOS, Android, Windows | $190-$500
- www.beyondadaptive.com
Ram Mount Suction Cup Mount | iOS, Android, Windows | $55-$60
- www.rammount.com
Breffo Spider Podium | iOS, Android, Windows | $20
- usa.breffo.com

Other Accessories

WeMo | iOS | $50-$80
- www.belkin.com/us/wemo
Lightning to USB Camera Adapter/Camera Connection Kit | iOS | $29
- store.apple.com/
USB Adapter Kit | Android, Windows | $5
- tinyurl.com/lyq2egx

Cool Tablet Tricks

iOS

  • Siri knows math, history, holidays, geography, and even how many calories are in that bagel.
    • Remind you to take out the trash when you get home
  • Speak Selection in Settings - General - Accessibility reads selected text

Android

  • Android can load alternative keyboards like:
    • Grammar & Spelling Keyboard by Ginger | tinyurl.com/kbvbbq2
    • Swype Keyboard | tinyurl.com/a9bxazl
  • Android can use dictation without an internet connection with slightly lower recognition quality

Organization

Google Calendar & Tasks | Windows, Mac, Android and iOS | Free
www.google.com/calendar/
CalenGoo; by Dominique Andr Gunia | Android | $5.99
CalenGoo; by Dominique Andr Gunia | iOS | $6.99
myHomework | Windows, Mac, Android and iOS | Free
- myhomeworkapp.com/
Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM) | Windows and Mac | Free
- Research Project Calculator
- rpc.elm4you.org/

Time Management

Speaking Timer; by Johnny Sundblom | Android | $1.54
Time Announcer; by Johnny Sundblom | Android | $1.60
Interval Timer; by atsfky | Android | Free
Morning Routine; by Agens AS | Android | Free
UltraChron Stopwatch; by TheSpinningHead | Android | (Free - $0.99)
Activity Timer – Productivity; LiteDroid Studios | Android | $1.99
Time Timer; by Time Timer LLC | Android and iOS | $1.99-$2.99-$4.99
Timewinder; by Widget Revolt LLC | iOS | $2.99
30/30; by Binary Hammer | iOS | Free
Talking Clock; by Mobo Studio | iOS | $0.99-$1.99
Timer TalkTime; by Hugo IT Services Ltd. | iOS | $2.99
Demonstrate free Chef Timer for example
QR Alarm; by AppsWith.us LTD | iOS | $2.99
Toodledo | Windows, Mac, Android and iOS | Free-$14.95/yr.-$29.95/yr.
- www.toodledo.com/
DGT GTD & To-do List [ALPHA]; by dgtale | Android | Free
Toodledo; by Toodledo | iOS | $2.99
Wunderlist | Windows, Mac, Android and iOS | Free
- www.wunderlist.com
Wunderlist - To-do & Task List; by 6 Wunderkinder GmbH | Android | Free
- tinyurl.com/6pfglkj
Wunderlist – To-Do & Task List; by 6 Wunderkinder | iOS | Free
- appstore.com/wunderlist

Reading

Bookshare.org | Windows, Mac, Android, iOS | Free
- www.bookshare.org
Learning Ally | Windows, Mac and iOS | $49/quarterly -OR- $119/annually
- www.learningally.org
Calibre | Window and Mac | Free
- calibre-ebook.com/
Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM) | Windows and Mac | Free
-Britannica -eBook Collection
- www.elm4you.org
Read:OutLoud | Windows and Mac | Free -$299 www.donjohnston.com
Nook Study Software | Windows and Mac | Free
- www.barnesandnoble.com/nookstudy/index.asp
Voice Dream Reader | iOS | $9.99
- appstore.com/voicedreamreader
Moon+ Reader Pro | Android| $4.99
- tinyurl.com/pzj3c8j
ezPDF Reader | Android and iOS | $3.99
- tinyurl.com/mjaqxcf - appstore.com/ezPDFReader
Readability | Windows, Mac, Chrome, Android and iOS | Free
- www.readability.com
Clearly; by Evernote | Windows, Mac and Chrome | Free - $5/mo. or $45/yr.
- evernote.com/clearly/
SpeakIt! extension | Windows, Mac and Chrome | Free
- tinyurl.com/luftmh2
Select and Speak | Windows, Mac and Chrome | Free
- tinyurl.com/m3obpul
ChromeVis extension | Windows, Mac and Chrome | Free
- tinyurl.com/m2g8xxo
Open-Dyslexic extension | Windows, Mac and Chrome | Free
- tinyurl.com/kd5kc4u
ClipRead; by Live Ink | Windows and Mac | Subscription: $3.95/mo OR $24.95/yr
- www.liveink.com
Natural Reader | Windows, Mac and Chrome | Free-$50+
- www.naturalreaders.com
Snap & Read | Windows and Mac | $130 - www.donjohnston.com
Safari | Mac and iOS | Free - www.apple.com/safari/
@Voice Aloud Reader-Read Aloud; by Hyperionics Technology LLC | Android | Free
- tinyurl.com/l94dw3m
Google Drive | Windows, Mac, Chrome, Android and iOS | Free
- drive.google.com/
Read&Write For Google Docs extension; by Texthelp | Windows, Mac and Chrome | Free
- tinyurl.com/kt3nczv
Read & Write(Gold or For Mac) | Windows or Mac | $645
- www.texthelp.com
Kurzweil 3000 | Windows or Mac | $1,395
- www.kurzweiledu.com/kurzweil–3000-v13-windows.html
Intel Reader | NA | $599
- www.humanware.com
Prizmo; by Creaceed | iOS | $9.99
- appstore.com/prizmo
Readiris; by I.R.I.S. s.a. | iOS | $37.99
- appstore.com/readiris
ABBYY TextGrabber + Translator; by ABBYY Software House | Android and iOS | $5.99
- www.abbyy.com/textgrabber/
Document Scanner | Android | $3.98
- tinyurl.com/mwfaebx
Google Goggles | Android | Free
- tinyurl.com/mnmvsvb
DyslexicReader extension | Windows, Mac and Chrome | Free
- tinyurl.com/l3t7nyk
Perfect OCR; by Tania Sulimov | iOS | $3.99
- tinyurl.com/kz5kozv
Snap2PDF; by Penpower Technology Ltd. | iOS | $2.99
- tinyurl.com/76skfhl
Scanthing OCR; by scanthing | Android | $5.12
Mobile112; by Mobile112 | Android | $2.78–29.95
- tinyurl.com/l8hnrv9
Pocket | Windows, Mac, Chrome, Android and iOS | Free
- www.getpocket.com

Writing

Dictionaries

Dictionary.com | Web, iOS, Android, Windows 8 | Free
- www.dictionary.com
Merriam-Webster Dictionary | Web, iOS, Android | Free
- www.merriam-webster.com
AbleNet’s Action Dictionary | iOS iBooks Store | $4.99
- www.ablenetinc.com/Curriculum/Action-Dictionary
Google | Web based | Free
- www.google.com

Contextual Spellcheckers and Grammar checkers

Ginger Software | PC, Android | $40 (Premium $89)
- www.gingersoftware.com
Ghotit | Mac, PC | $149 or Monthly $29
- www.ghotit.com
WhiteSmoke | PC | $199 Lifetime/$100 Yearly
- www.whitesmoke.com

Word Prediction

Co: Writer | Mac, PC | $290
- www.donjohnston.com
WordQ | PC, Mac | $149–199
- iWordQ US for iPad $24.99
- www.wordq.com
Typ-O | Mac, iOS | $9.99
- www.typ-o.com

Word Prediction Apps

iReadWrite | iOS | $19.99
- appstore.com/ireadwrite
Zen Tap Pro | iOS | $2.99
- appstore.com/zentappro
AppWriter US | iOS | $19.99
- appstore.com/appwriterus
iMean | iOS | $4.99
- appstore.com/imean
A.I.type Keyboard Plus | Android | $3.99
- tinyurl.com/qaz7gz9
TouchPal keyboard | Android | Free
- tinyurl.com/cx7jqfq

Speech Recognition

Dragon NaturallySpeaking | Mac, PC, iOS | $100-$599
- www.nuance.com
Windows OS Speech Recognition | Windows Vista & Newer | Free
- Found in Control Panel – Ease of Access
Mac OS Speech Recognition | Mountain Lion (10.8) | Free
- Found in System Preferences
iOS Speech Recognition | iPad version 3 & higher, iPhone 4s & higher | Free - Built in Keyboard

Mind Mapping Software

Inspiration by Inspiration | Mac, PC, iOS | $9-$59
- www.inspiration.com
Draft:Builder | PC, Mac | $150
- www.donjohnston.com
Bubbl | Web based | Free
- www.bubbl.us
FreeMind | Web based | Free
- freemind.sourceforge.net
SimpleMind+ | iOS, Android | free-$3.99
- www.simpleapps.eu/simplemind/
Mind Meister | iOS, Android | $4.99 Monthly
- www.mindmeister.com
iThoughts HD | iOS | $10.99
- tinyurl.com/bvjchd8
Mindjet | Mac, PC, iOS, Android | Yearly subscription
- www.mindjet.com
Mindomo | Mac, PC, iOS, Android | monthly subscription
- www.mindomo.com

Scanning & Form Filling Software

Googe Drive OCR | Mac, PC | Free
- drive.google.com
Foxit Reader | PC, Android | Free-$2.99
- www.foxitsoftware.com
Nuance PDF Reader | PC | Free
- www.nuance.com
OmniPage | PC | $150–500
- www.nuance.com
Adobe Reader | PC, Mac, Android, iOS | Free
- get.adobe.com/reader/
Neu.Annotate+ PDF | iOS | $1.99
- AppStore.com/neuannotatePDF
GoodNote | iOS | Free-$3.99
- AppStore.com/goodnote
PDFpen | Mac, iOS | $14.99
- www.smilesoftware.com/PDFpen
ezPDF Reader PDF Annotate Form | Android | $3.99
- tinyurl.com/b2e7grq