But first, just what is Google Glass? If you haven't heard, it's basically your smartphone migrating to your head. The display is not yet implanted in your eyeball, but it's making moves to get there. Worn like eyeglasses, Glass enables you to keep your head up while using your device, to access the Internet in new hands-free ways, to share and experience the world ...annotated (check out Google's vision, What It Does). Although this is consumer tech, the wearable platform holds promise to inspire a new volume of apps from independent developers for persons with disabilities, including students. Willkomm--who loves her iPad--wanted to see if this could be AT's next "big thing."
Low-profile wire frame (without lenses) supporting a small, transparent, high-resolution display in the upper right field of vision (Google has plans for integration with prescription eyewear);
Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity (to connect with wireless Internet or your phone's hotspot)
Bone conduction transducer (a speaker that does not go in your ears);
Camera (5 MP for photos, 720p for videos)
12 GB of usable storage (synced with the Google cloud storage)
Touchpad at the temple for simple gestures;
Built-in voice commands to record video, take a picture, send an email, launch a Google Hangout, get directions, and search the internet (more are enabled with the MyGlass Android app or from the Web site);
Head-tilt gesture to wake up the display.
Before purchasing Glass, Professor Willkomm had mounted an iPhone 5 on a bicycle helmet for use with Facetime. Her goal, she explained to Friends of ATIA, was to make possible realtime, virtual, community participation for a woman in a nursing home. With help from a helmet-wearing partner, this nursing home resident could go shopping (and make selections off the shelf) or kayaking (and choose the fork in the river). "The problem" Willkomm says, "was the helmet made the partner feel like a dork." So when Glass was announced, with its sleek design and head-mounted camera, she knew she had to give it a try.
As is often the case with beta technology, Glass is a combination of the best of times and the worst of times. Below is Professor Willkomm's take on the new hardware and apps platform, cast through her own lens as an AT professional (and user).
Although Google's promotional videos seem to emphasize Glass's capacity for realtime video sharing, Willkomm found her original motivation for acquiring the headset quickly sidelined. Realtime virtual travel is not, it turns out, Glass' strong suit. And while a Google Hangout could theoretically take up to ten people on an adventure, the experience is made or broken by the quality of the poorest connection speed in the Hangout. "And virtual travel is no fun when the audio arrives seconds before the video." Another problem is the legality of plans. Bringing her Hangout to Wicked at the Boston Opera House proved impossible. "They made this blanket statement before the curtain went up banning any and all recording devices, like they saw us Glassholes coming!"
What works well, however, is the speed and ease Glass provides for taking and sharing pictures and videos. This benefit quickly overshadows deploying live Hangouts. She found she could share media with everyone in a Google Circle with the swipe of her finger and that everything is automatically backed up to her Google + account. The downside is a risk of accidental sharing. "You have to be very careful with your gestures!"
As a college professor who frequently makes videos for instruction, Willkomm is finding Glass a helpful tool. On the fly she can record instructions for creating one of her low-tech AT solutions and instantly share it with students and colleagues. Or she can record video without connecting to the Internet and Glass will back up her work once it senses a connection (she never has to plug into her computer). The disadvantage is that the camera is not good for distances closer than four feet; also she must maneuver the frame on her nose to center the lens for demos.
Willkomm, however, will offer an ATIA webinar January 21st, 2014 on her experiences with the new Glass technology. So if you see her wearing her Google Glass, ignore her and consider signing up to get all your Glass questions answered!
Thanks to Therese Willkomm for sharing these insights!
An Isreali start-up is marketing glasses ($2,500) that audibly read "text in the wild" as well as interpret objects. The glasses have an unobtrusive design and make use of a logarithm that allows the software to learn as it goes at the direction of users with visual impairments. Check out this article in the New York Times Science section, also the Orcam Web site.
Learn about the new SmartVP videophone and its integration of Android apps and relay.
In a recent Scoop.it!, Diana Petschauer, ATP shouted out the Pererro switch interface device by RSLSteeper that was recently unveiled in the US. The Pererro plugs into iOS devices (except iPad Mini) and provides plug and play universal switch access (with a 3.5 mm mono jack socket). Best of all, Pererro works with almost any VoiceOver-enabled app!
"I was able to try this switch with my own iPad and apps at ATIA, and it is phenomenal!" writes Petschauer. "It works with several apps that my students and clients use, including VoiceDream and AAC! It not only offers access to the iPad through scanning and switch selection, but also to far more apps than any Bluetooth switch!"
Additional features include direct input (so no
Bluetooth battery drain), and the ability to charge your device while Pererro
is connected. Learn more at this RSLSteeper
Web page. And thanks for broadcasting your insights Diana!
Reminder: AT Program News makes no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth in this newsletter or on its Web site. AT Program News has not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device referred to.
Interact-AS, by Auditory Sciences, is software that allows for face-to-face communication using voice recognition technology. Software may be installed on a PC or a pre-configured hardware system may be purchased. Interact-AS provides immediate closed captions for speech, and will speak type-written or handwritten input. With optional language modules, Interact-AS can also instantly translate conversations to and from over 30 languages. The system will provide transcripts and a synched audio recording, and is advertized as faster than CART. It comes in different editions for different needs and price tags.
Interact-AS was purchased for use by an employee who is deaf at the defense firm Rockwell Collins last year (see "Jane Gay's Back Door" above). About her first Interact experiences, the employee reported to Gay "It was great being part of the team meeting and to be able to ask questions," also that "co-workers have started asking to have breaks or meals with me." Her supervisor was equally enthusiastic, "You should have seen her smile and everyone else's faces when Interact spoke for her at that first meeting. This has given her a voice at work that we all can hear loud and clear."
Learn more at www.speechgear.com
Reminder: AT Program News makes no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth in this newsletter or on its Web site. AT Program News has not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device referred to in this newsletter or at www.atprogramnews.com.
Check it out! The EmergingEDTech blog recommends a FREE app at iTunes today. The app is a tool that provides an easy way to search and find apps that may be of benefit to individuals with autism or other special needs. App listings include screenshots for iPhone/iPad, reviews, and an email-to-a-friend funcition. The blog says, "This is a really top notch resource and we highly recommend it."
Learn more at Wegotalk.com
Reminder: AT Program News makes no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth in this newsletter or on its Web site. AT Program News has not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device referred to in this newsletter or at atprogramnews.com.
Google has announced improved keyboard shortcuts and support for screen readers in Google Docs, Google Sites, and Google Calendar. Google Accessibility Technical Lead T.V. Raman reports that Google has been working with advocacy organizations for the blind to improve its products and plans to continue to make enhancements over the coming months.
Learn about Google's accessibility features
Read the announcement at the Official Google Blog
Affordable easels, incline boards, adjustable desks, adaptive classroom chairs, corner sitters (support for sitting on the floor with everyone else), adaptive preschool toys, and more can be found at The Kids' Project, a program of the non-profit Pine Tree Society.
The Kids' Project adaptive equipment is comparable to top of the line adaptive equipment at 40-75% below commercial prices, providing more opportunities for greater success for children with special needs.
Their high-quality adaptive equipment is made by volunteer woodworkers and upholsterers. Find them at the Pine Tree Society Web site.
Reminder: AT Program News makes no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth in this Web site. AT Program News has not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device referred to on this Web site.
From the makers of the Mobi-mat--the portable beach access path--comes the Mobi-chair. Made of corrosion resistant alluminum and steel, the Mobi-chair rolls on sand, floats in the water, and folds for convenient storage and portability.
Try the Mobi-chair for free in Florida! Five Sarasota County beaches have them available at no charge -- Lido Key, Siesta Key, Nokomis, Venice and Manasota Beach.
Learn more: visit www.mobi-chair.com
Also, for a discussion of additional beach mobility products, check out this Everyone Outdoors blog post. It's by the coordinator of the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation's Universal Access Program in Massachusetts State Parks.
Reminder: AT Program News makes no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth on this Web site. AT Program News has not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device referred to on this site.
ErgoQuest is a Michigan-based company that makes recliner and over-bed workstations. Complete workstations range from $1,500 to $10,000 and may be motorized or non-motorized. The company also sells "zero-gravity" recliners and workstation accessories.
Check out the ErgoQuest Web site.
Reminder: AT Program News makes no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth in this newsletter. AT Program News has not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device referred to in this newsletter.
Worthy of Any Assistive Technology Program's AT for Employment Toolkit!
Heads up, this is a good read! The Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology and Devices showed me that we still need people writing books like this, even with the Internet. We need people like Suzanne Robitaille who can cast their net over a sea of material, interpret it, put it into historical context, spin it through their own life experience, and hand it over to the willing and grateful reader.
You might not expect that's what you'll find in The Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology and Devices. The cover is tiled with icons that look downright clickable. And so my first unconscious reaction was, why even put it to paper? Isn't there just an app for that?
Then I started reading.
This book is for anyone who wants to see the AT forest for the trees. Of course it doesn't cover everything and everyone, but it is a proper orientation on AT for adults, articulated in a strong voice by a writer who knows how to say it simple. Robitaille is a former AT columnist for Businessweek Online and the founder of abledbody.com. I suspect she's never written a federal grant in her life; it takes a special talent to be able to write just three and a half pages on the history of AT.
I'm not saying it's perfect. The introduction too closely suggests the AT Act programs are funded to buy devices for people all over the United States. And is it the Eye Pal SOLO that can also magnify text to a computer screen or the Eye Pal SOLO LV? We are nerds for noticing. Robitaille does what few can do: paint the complete landscape with a few deft strokes.
The Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology and Devices: Tools and Gadgets for Living Independently was published by Demos Medical in 2009.
The U-Step Walker is designed for stability and will move only when either hand break is squeezed. The U-Step stops rolling the moment the hand break is released. The walker is easy to use when standing up from a chair because the unit will not roll forward. Walking speed is regulated by adjusting wheel tension. An optional laser-projected red line provides a visual cue for prompting steps. The U-Step Walker is made by In-Step Mobility Products, Inc.
Learn more at UStep.com.
Did you know that those NIMAS, DAISY and Bookshare digital text files don't work on iPad, Nook, Sony Reader or Android devices? Yet these are the devices many students depend on. Recently Don Johnston, Inc. has released a text converter solution to this dilemma. DAISYtoEPUB converts NIMAS, DAISY, and Bookshare files to ePub, the format most used by mainstream ebook readers (and Kindle 2 users can use a Kindle converter with the ePub format).
As of this writing, Don Johnson is offering this converter to individuals (for a single hard drive installation) for $99.00, and marketing it to school districts for between $999 and $6,999 (depending on the number of sites).
Learn more at donjohnston.com
Read Brian Friedlander's review at this AssistiveTek post.
Disclaimer: AT Program News makes no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth in this newsletter. AT Program News has not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device referred to in this electronic newsletter or at atprogramnews.com.
Proloquo2Go is the well-known, affordable, full-featured, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) solution for individuals with autism ($189.00).
Below are some lesser-known iPod apps to check out as well. They range in price from $.99 to $35.99
1. Story Builder
Educational app for children. Helps: 1) Improve paragraph formation; 2) Improve integration of ideas; and 3) Improve higher level abstractions by inference. Extensive use of audio clips promotes improved auditory processing.
2. Off We Go--Going to the Dentist
One in a series. This Off We Go! book will help prepare your child for going to the dentist in a fun and practical way. Your child will not only see what is likely to happen, but will also hear some of the typical sounds from the dentist’s surgery.
Pre-recorded and record-your-own sounds.
4. First-Then Visual Schedule
First-Then visual schedule application is designed for caregivers to provide positive behavior support for those with communication needs.
a visual teaching app for helping children learn to communicate by providing an affordable, custom built and easy to use communication system using pictures and words – both written and spoken.
6. iCommunicate for iPad
Create pictures, flashcards, storyboards, routines, and visual schedules. Record custom audio in any language. Converts any words with Text to Speech that do not have custom audio recorded.
7. AutoVerbal Talking Soundboard Pro
Now with Male & Female voices & 3 ways to speak: 1) 100's of built-in phrases in over a dozen categories, 2) Program several buttons to speak your CUSTOM messages such as your name, address, family, etc., 3) Type ANY message and have it spoken using TEXT-TO-SPEECH.
This app is designed to encourage people with autism to recognizes and express their emotions through its fun and easy to use interface.
9. iDress for Weather
With only a single swipe to the left, a closet opens and displays clothing and accessories corresponding to the climate conditions for that day.
Stories2Learn (S2L) offers parents and educators the ability to create personalized stories using photos, text, and audio messages.
The iPad is a great new [assistive technology] device that people with finger/hand/arm control can operate with ease. However, up until now, any type of pointer operation was impossible. Why? Because the iPad is not pressure-sensitive. It is responsive to small amounts of electricity that your body produces. That's why long fingernails don't work with the iPad.
After some experimentation, I've found a way to make your pointer iPad-compatible. And it's near-zero cost!
Read the rest at this rjcooper.com web page.
Created by the Technology and Media Division of the Council for Exceptional Children (TAM). TAM reports that more than 100,000 copies of this tool have been distributed nationwide.
Cost is $7.95 plus shipping. Find it at this Exceptional Innovations webpage.
By Ricky Buchanan • August 17, 2010
Individuals with cognitive and/or behavioral disabilities often need help preventing behaviors which challenge their safety living at home. If you or someone you know is caring for someone with this type of disability--such as a child with autism or an adult with Alzheimer's--the Massachusetts AT Act Program (MassMATCH) has created a web page to make you aware of the growing range of assistive technology (AT) products that exists to help.
Some of the AT solutions are sophisticated, like GPS or cellular tracking systems, but many are simple and inexpensive, like door knob guards or refrigerator latches. Not every solution can work for every individual or situation, but common problems such as kitchen safety, getting up unassisted and wandering are addressed by a variety of options.
The page organizes behavioral safety device-types by category (bathroom, bed, car, chair and wheelchair, doors and exits, electrical, kitchen, self-protection, telephone access, and wandering) and provides referral resources for further ideas, advice, support, and funding. Below are a few device examples:
Learn more at this MassMATCH web page for behavioral safety.
Reminder: MassMATCH and the U.S. Department of Education make no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth on this website. Neither MassMATCH nor the U.S. Department of Education has examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device contained on the MassMATCH or AT Program News website.
ClickAndGo Wayfinding Maps aims to be the MapQuest for people who are blind or deaf/blind. Developed by In Touch Graphics, the service is providing "mobility-friendly" walking directions for both indoor and outdoor environments. These are auditory and tactile maps (MP3 files and text files for download) available from their accessible website or over a cell or standard phone, and they are free to blind and deaf/blind users.
The maps provide:
In Touch Graphics is marketing the service to institutions, organizations, and businesses ("sponsors") to make their facilities more fully accessible. Sample maps on the website include the Massachusetts State House, ATIA 2010 Orlando, and the University of Minnesota. A search box is provided for finding point to point or point of interest directions.
The FreeWheel is made in Boise and sells for $499. Dougherty would like to mass produce it someday to lower the price. Testimonials and more photos are available at www.gofreewheel.com.
Disclaimer: AT Program News makes no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth in this newsletter. AT Program News has not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device referred to in this electronic newsletter or at www.atprogramnews.com.