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Adaptive Technology Makes a Difference for People with Disabilities!

Adaptive Technology Makes a Difference for People with Disabilities!

Information sources – Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Assistive Technology

Pacer Center –Champions for Children with Disabilities, Simon Technology Center

Alexa Can Help

Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute recently purchased the Amazon Echo. This wireless speaker and voice command device consists of a 9.25-inch (23.5 cm) tall cylinder speaker with a seven-piece microphone array. The device responds to the name Alexa. The device can be operated hands free.

They combined Amazon Echo with Smart Things which provides a total hands free environmental control for under $200. Use it to control on and off features for Z-Ban, Bluetooth and Insteon modules. For example, you can say “lights on,” “lights off,” “appliance on,” and “fan on.”  Smart Things is a free resource that can be used on any cellphone or tablet running Windows, Apple iOS, or Android.

The Latest and Greatest Apps for People with Disabilities

We worked with client who needed constant reminders throughout the day to take medications, follow a schedule and make lists. Time Timer, voice reminders and the standard Apple calendar are three apps to consider. We ended with a good solution which he is progressing on his ability with a little help from an iPhone. He was unable to remember more than 40 seconds prior to implementing assistive technology intervention.

Time Timer is a timer that shows the passage of time through a signature red disk that disappears as time elapses. Its innovative and visual depiction of time remaining is ideal for anyone who wants to measure and manage time more effectively at work, school and home. It provides sounds or a visual description for each event.

Voice Reminders. Aida Reminder lets you create reminders easily and quickly. Set recurring reminders hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly or even by day of the week or month. It also has a wake-up alarm with custom snooze. I particularly found the voice output extremely useful for this non-reader client.
Speak It!  A text-to-speech app, Speak It! can help your learner read or speak. Simply copy and paste selected text and Speak It! reads the words out loud. The app highlights each spoken word so that kids can more easily follow along with the text. This $1.99 app gives a non-verbal child a voice so that he or she can interact with classmates. The ability to save countless phrases adds convenience by eliminating the need to type the same phrases over and over again.

Read2Go.  Read2Go works with Bookshare, a digital library that makes books available to students with reading-related disabilities such as dyslexia and vision challenges. The app costs $19.99 but allows you to access Bookshare’s expansive library featuring more than 170,000 books via iPad or iPhone. While Read2Go requires a Bookshare membership, an award from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs offers free memberships to schools and students who meet certain qualifications.

Dragon Dictation. Students with disabilities who have difficulty writing can benefit from a free Dragon Dictation app. This voice recognition technology enables a student’s iPad or iPhone to capture and document what the child says. There is a similar app created by the popular vendor which is called Dragon Go! which can search the Internet by voice. There are apps for the android as well.

Notability.  People learn differently and this note-taking app embraces this idea. Those who excel through listening will certainly find the $1.99 app’s audio recording component useful.

Talking Calculator. Put your finger on the screen and Talking Calculator tells you what button your finger hovers over. Perform a calculation and the calculator vocalizes the answer. At $1.99, Talking Calculator can change math from a dreaded subject into a fun and enjoyable experience.

Mind Mapping, Brainstorming & Graphic Organizers
There are many AT software programs and apps which can be used for writing support. These include mind mapping and brainstorming to organize thoughts. Popplet, Inspiration, Tools4Students and others allow a person to brainstorm ideas, create an outline, visual templates and study guides to use for writing a paper, creating a project or studying for a test. They can also be used to prepare for a meeting or presentation. Apps are available for tablets, software programs, as well as free apps and Chrome browser extensions (Connected Mind). All of these AT tools support people who experience challenges with executive functioning.

Cortana on Windows 10

To use Cortana with your Windows 10 computer, say the launch phrase, “Hey Cortana,” followed by your command or question (assuming you have a microphone). You can also click the microphone in the search bar.

You can access Cortana on your Windows phone by using one of the following methods:

  1. Press and hold the search button.You will hear an audible tone indicating that Cortana is listening for commands and questions.
  2. Press and release the search button. A search box is displayed allowing you to type in a search query.  You can also hit the microphone button to initiate a verbal command.
  3. Press the Cortana app. This displays the search box.  Depending on how you configured Cortana, you may also see news or weather information displayed.

Here are a few cheap microphone options for using Cortana with your computer:

  • Samson Meteorite USB condenser microphone
  • Samson Go Mic Portable USB condenser microphone
  • Logitech HD Pro webcam
  • Blue Microphones Yeti USB microphone

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