Dot Watch

Dot Watch is a smartwatch which can be used with or without connecting to mobile devices.  The significant difference between the Dot Watch and other smartwatches is that the device offers a braille display made up of 24 small pins for visually impaired users. As a standalone use, the Dot Watch shows time, timer, stopwatch, and battery level in Braille. You can use the watch that can tell you the time down to the second.

If you use a Dot watch with your smartphone, it vibrates and tells you who is calling you, read memo, and provide you with other additional features. Dot Watch reads messages and personal information through Brail output without a sound. This is helpful when users are in the environment they prefer not to use audio output.  Additionally, you can use it to learn Braille with your Smartphone. For example, if you type on your phone, it will display the letter on the Dot Watch in Braille. One of the useful features is that you can find your smartphone or Dot Watch by using their app. For example, when you misplace your smartphone, by pressing twice the Dot Watch, your phone will ring, vice versa, you can use an app on your smartphone and locate the Dot Watch because it vibrates.

Dot Watch

Supported Languages: Korean, English, Spanish, German, French, Russian, Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), and Vietnamese.
Compatible with iPhone (iOS 9 or above) and most Android smartphones (Android 4.4.4 or above).

Dot Watch uses the settings of smartphones (i.e., notifications from texting, news, calendars, reminders, etc.) and stores up to 50 notifications. You may need to turn off some notifications on your phone so that you can limit sending extra notifications to the Dot Watch. Most users indicated that they like the Dot Watch, but some pointed out a need for additional enhancements such as battery life and automatic time update when the watch is not synced to your phone, user manual enhancement, and support.

The company (DOT Incorporation) is located in Seoul, Korea. They specialize in developing technology to help persons with daily challenges. Amazon shows the Dot Watch is not currently not available for purchase, but the price on their Website shows as $299.00 – $333.00. However, you will need to be aware that the total cost is subjected to import duties and taxes. Additionally it is recommended that you find out what the warranty and repair costs are before you purchase. You can find out more information via email address at: support@dotincorp.com or dot@dotincorp.com. You can find more information at: http://www.dotincorp.com

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Scribe by Pneuma Solutions

Pneuma Solutions has developed a transcription tool (and service) called ‘Scribe’ to help persons who are blind or low vision and those who support them. Pneuma Solutions was founded by two accessibility developers Mike Calvo and Matt Campbell.

Too often we do not realize that formats and documentations on online are not accessible to blind or low vision persons. According to the article, March 2021 AccessWorld, AFB (American Foundation for the Blind), written by Deborah Kendrick , Scribe can convert inaccessible online documents to accessible information. It offers a 96- percent accuracy rate documents with different languages and file formats, including braille, large print, rtf, mp3, epub, pdf, plus a few others.

Scribe makes content shared onscreen to accessible to persons with Low vision or blind participants in real time during the meeting. Additionally you can forward the meeting notes to the participants with accessible file formats after the meeting. The cost is 99 cents per page for their digital remediation’s service.

If you are an educator and work with print disability students, you may want to contact Pneuma Solutions directly. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is offering Scribe for Education free of charge to qualified teachers.

Below are more information about Scribe from Pneuma Solutions.

Pneuma Solutions contact: https://pneumasolutions.com/contact/
Digital document remediation: https://pneumasolutions.com/products/scribe/
Scribe for Meetings (BETA): https://scribeformeetings.com/
Scribe for Education: https: //pneumasolutions.com/scribe-for-education/
or email to: education@pneumasolutions.com

The article about Scribe and Pneuma Solutions by Deborah Kendrick – Click here.

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Livescribe Symphony – Smartpen

Livescribe Symphony is a smart pen which can transcribe your notes from a micro-dot-enabled notebook and Livescibe+ app.

According to the manufacturer, Livescribe smartpens only work with Livescribe micro-dot-enabled paper. You can store up to 1200 A4 pages (A4 paper is slightly shorter and slightly wider than letter size) on your pen. It supports 27+ languages and has a 90 day standby battery life.

Livescribe Symphony pen uses Livescribe+ app, which has expanded the use of this spartpen. You can sync the dot-paper notebook via Bluetooth to Android, Apple, and Windows devices (i.e. tablet & phone).

The Livescribe+ app screen includes PAGE, FEED, and PENCAST view. From FEED view, you can convert your handwritten notes to text characters. During the trial, I found that if you write in print (or or legible), the app will convert your handwriting notes to text characters better than cursive (script) handwriting. It seems extra spacing seems to help the conversion. Then you can send your notes or video (recorded voice & notes) from the Livescribe+ app via email, text, and Cloud services (i.e. Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, OneNote). You can stop the voice recording and restart again by the pausing button. You can take a picture within their app so you can include the pictures associated with the notes you just created. These features are very helpful to review your notes later.

Livescribe Symphony can be purchased around $109 and the mico-dot enabled notebook can be found $24-34 for 4 or $8.95 for a single subject notebook. A smartpen can benefit not only students in classroom or online but also helpful in field survey for professionals or use it as daily reminder notes.

Smartpen: Livescribe Symphony Tutorial
YouTube video posted by UIdaho CDAR Oct. 2020

Posted in Transition, Assistive Technology, Employment, Technology in Education, AT_Apps, AT_Device, iOS app | Leave a comment

Mod Math – iPad app

Mod Math is an iPad app developed to help children with dysgraphia.
Children with dysgraphia can understand math concepts, but they can’t write clearly enough to keep number columns and solve Math facts (i.e. add, subtract, multiply, or divide multi-digit equations). Mod Math app is designed to help students solve equations step by step on an iPad. Students can reduce trouble of writing down and erasing the equations with pencil and paper over and over again while solving Math questions. Additionally, children with dyslexia, ADHD, autism, dyspraxia and other disabilities can benefit from using this Mod Math app.

Mod Math Screen

There is a free version and a paid version which comes with additional math symbols like pi, infinity, sigma, etc. Additionally, you can print out the work pages and send it via email or text, or upload it to Drop Box. The company (http://www.modmath.com/) is a not-for-profit organization so they rely on donations from the app development. They are hoping to add even more features to meet requests and demands such as support for Android devices and Chrome book. They also want to offer a full alphabet keyboard, adjustable font size, and the ability to input complete worksheets, graphing function, etc.

YouTube – ModMath Tutorial (posted by SETC Special Education Technology Center 2017)

Mod Math Tutorial (YouTube link)
https://youtu.be/izzvKlUyKDo

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Socially Assistive Robots

Socially assistive robots have been developed to assist the elderly through social interaction and designed to help with the caregiving of the aging population. Robots could ask questions like a nurse, exchange conversation, and help to improve the mood of individuals. Robotic assistants numbers will likely grow extensively because there will be a shortage of nearly 450,000 caregivers by 2025.

Assist robots range from small sizes, such as Mabu (a 15-inch yellow robot), to human size. Another type looks more like a small, modular lamp than a robot. A typical conversation may include how a person feels. Modern robots can ask questions, both verbal and text on a screen and can expand into other areas, such as examining or screening for anxiety and depression. Then the information can be analyzed by sending data to the user’s health care providers. Additionally, assist robots can enable strong relationships between people and offer social support to help elderly live independent lives. However, many people may develop a Luddite complex with all the advances that are currently being made in the robotics field. The issues of privacy and interaction with robots that report their analyses of the health of their patient may cause their owners to be very apprehensive of using these robots to their fullest potential. .

Berka,CEO/Co-Founder of Advanced Brain Monitoring states “We foresee the potential for the robot intervention to be used alone or in combination with other treatments for dementia.” https://www.advancedbrainmonitoring.com/news/can-a-robot-help-to-prevent-cognitive-decline-in-alzheimers-and-other-dementias

Hanson and his team, based in Hong Kong, have created human-like A.I. robots (Sophia) which has more sophisticated intelligence, advanced abilities such as reading faces, communicating with variety face expressions with emotions, and understanding the nuances of language. We may see more sophisticated assistive robots helping people in the future.

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Online Education Tips

Many schools shut down due to the COVID-19 all across the world. Education has changed dramatically and has been forced to teach students remotely on digital platforms.There are many challenges in delivering education remotely. Without a computer equipment, technology, and reliable Internet access availability, a student cannot participate in digital learning. The gap is large between the income brackets. Students with disadvantaged backgrounds and students with disabilities are struggling to access the education and keep up with their school work in today’s virtual learning environment.

However, some students who can access to the education through online have found it effective because they can access more learning materials and faster. Another advantage is they can learn at their own pace and review materials repeatedly to understand the concepts.

If you are planning to design learning materials, some advice from educators are:

  1. One important teaching principle is to focus on the topic and concepts, not on technology products that can actually distract from the core curriculum.
  2. Try to make the course asynchronous (time independent) so that the student can learn as his/her pace vs having to keep pace with other students. This can be a big benefit of online programs.

    One of the most important tasks is to design and make courses inclusive of all students (Universal Design in Education).

20 Tips for Teaching an Accessible Online Course

http://www.washington.edu/doit/videos/index.php?vid=79

20_Tips_Desigining_Courses_5_7_20.pdf

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Talking Calculator

You may find calculators be very useful when you need to work on basic or repetitive mathematical calculations. However, it may be difficult for persons with low vision or learning disability to use calculators independently.
If you are looking for a calculator with additional arithmetic features for persons with low vision and learning disability, this Double Check Talking Financial calculator can be helpful.

Double check Talking Financial Calculator

The features include: calculate percentages, extract square roots, raise a number to a given power or identify the reciprocal calculations. It also offers conversion features and use different preset factors in calculating volumes, length, weight, temperature or currencies.

The Double Check financial calculator has a reminder feature and alarms. It has big and clearly arranged keys with 10-digit-display and clear and natural speech output. The results can be announced by either be as a total number or digit by digit. Earphone jack is available so that you can use a headset. The price ($99) is expensive compared to a basic talking calculator, but it is far less than other advanced calculators.

If you have a student with low vision in classroom and need to have a calculator with scientific, statistical, and trigonometric functions, Low Vision Talking Scientific Calculator and TI Orion TI-34 may be helpful, but these advanced scientific talking calculators cost $459 – $650.

Low Vision Talking Scientific Calculator

If you do not need special features and only need a talking calculator on basic calculations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, you can find these basic calculators around $10 – $20.

Some of the basic calculators are:


Basic Talking Calculators

LS&S Talking Calculator, Reizen 12-Digit Jumbo Talking Calculator, Desk-Top Talking Calculator

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Exoskeleton – wearable mobile machines

According to the data from Brain Injury Association of America, every 9 seconds, someone in the US endures a brain injury and one of every 60 people in the U.S. lives with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) -related disability. Additionally, factory workers suffer injuries caused by slip and falls, use of repetitive heavy machinery, falling objects, etc.

Powered exoskeleton may be an option to help patients stand and walk during rehabilitation. Powered exoskeleton also prevent injury from heavy lifting or repetitive use of machinery because it supports human body (i.e. shoulders, legs, hips), reduce errors from fatigue, and assists movement when workers need to lift and hold heavy items.

Exoskeleton (also known as power armor, powered armor, powered suit, etc.) is a wearable mobile machine that is powered by a system of electric motors, pneumatics, levers, hydraulics, or a combination of technologies that allow for limb movement with increased strength and endurance (from Wikipedia).

Most of the challenges in designs are in the areas of weight, power supply, cost, joint actuators, power control, human size variations, and Joint flexibility. Poor design of Mobility aids leads to frequently abandoned or discarded systems due to lack of usability and safety concerns. However, we hope that continue growth and application of engineering development will lead to better designs and affordability.

These exoskeletons can help prevent worker injury
(YouTube from the Verge Dec 5, 2017)


Robotic Exoskeleton Helps Paralyzed Man Race Marathons
(YouTube Premiered Aug 7, 2019): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBtXHGEezJA

Additional information exoskeleton:

eksobionics: https://eksobionics.com/eksohealth/
Rewalk Robotics: https://rewalk.com/
Parker: https://investors.parker.com/news-releases/news-release-details/parker-releases-new-indego-therapy-exoskeleton
Indigo: http://www.indego.com/indego/us/en/home
Suitx: https://www.suitx.com/


Posted in Assistive Technology, Mobility, Sensors, Transportation for wheelchair users, Wearable Computing, Wearable devices | Leave a comment

Challenges in remote education

School districts have need to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities. However, during this Covid-19 pandemic, educators face great challenges to deliver education to their now remote students including those with disabilities.

Some students without reliable internet access and/or technology will struggle to participate in this new digital learning environment. Often Blind students’ learning materials from the digital learning environment are not compatible with screen readers. As a result, these students will have difficulty to navigate course materials or identify images. Most likely there is no feature options to transcribe them to Braille.

Students who have a learning disability (i.e. dyslexic or autism spectrum) require features such as text to speech, voice recognition, or additional writing tools when they participate in the online learning environment.

Students who are deaf have challenges to participate in online discussions or listen to the recorded materials if any supplemental materials or options are not provided.
Students with physical disabilities often face computer access challenges. These individuals most likely have limited hand mobility and require a special keyboard and mouse.

Here are some of the resources which you may find helpful (Please note that some information or interactive sites may not be accessible to all).

Accessible Education Resources
https://www.afb.org/blog/entry/accessible-education-resources

Special education and accessibility resources for remote learning
https://education.microsoft.com/en-us/resource/0c6e9c42

8 must-have interactive learning sites for the digital classroom
https://livetilesglobal.com/8-interactive-learning-sites-digital-classroom/

eLearning Resources
https://www.setda.org/main-coalitions/elearning/accessibility/

Home Learning Resources
https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/covid/covid-19_-_at_home_learning_resources_april_7.pdf

Mental Health
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/education-awareness/shareable-resources-on-coping-with-covid-19.shtml

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Narrator (Ease of Access feature – Windows)

Text-to-speech technology can help people with vision impairment and learning disabilities. Third-party applications include advanced features such as converting speech into MP3 files or converting text into Braille (Jaws), but if you are not looking for the advanced features, the built-in Narrator feature on Windows computers can read aloud the text and elements on your screen.

For example, converting text into audible words using Narrator can help persons with learning disabilities comprehend words on a computer screen better. Narrator can help them read a paragraph, document or articles in a web browser window. Narrator can also read pop-up windows that contain messages.

How to start Narrator in Windows 10.

Option 1:
Press Windows logo key + Ctrl + Enter together to start Narrator.
Press these keys again to stop Narrator. If you would like to change the voice of narrator, you can change it from Add more voices.
After you start Narrator, you will see the following pop-up Window.

The pop-up windows read as below.

Heads up Narrator keyboard changes.
We’ve updated the Narrator keyboard layout so it more closely matches the experience you may have had with other screen readers.
If you want Narrator to tell you what commands are associated with the keys you’re pressing, you can turn on input learning by pressing Caps lock + 1. To turn it off, press Caps lock + 1 twice. To learn more, press Ctrl + Windows logo key + N to open your Narrator settings and access the online user guide.

If you do not want to see this pop-up window next time, you can stop this pop-up windows by clicking the check box, “Don’t show again.”

Option 2:
Press Windows logo key + Ctrl + N to open Narrator settings, and then turn on the toggle under Use Narrator.

Narrator Turn on/off and start-up options

If you would like to turn on Narrator to start before or after sign-in, check the selection boxes, “Start Narrator after sign-in for me” and/or “Start Narrator before sign-in for everyone”.

Settings: you can change the narrator settings such as a narrator voice, voice speed, pitch, volumes, etc.

Quick References:

A Web page, document or file:
Move your cursor to the section of text you want Narrator to start reading
Press Caps Lock + R keys will start reading. Press Ctrl key to stop.

Narrator + Ctrl + Plus sign (+) or Narrator + Ctrl + Add (numeric keypad) to increase volume
Narrator + Ctrl + Minus sign (-) or Narrator + Ctrl + Subtract (numeric keypad) to decrease volume

Complete Guide to Narrator:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/22798/windows-10-complete-guide-to-narrator

Get started with Narrator screen reader in Windows 10 | Microsoft
(YouTube by Microsoft May 22, 2018)

If you use a Windows 8 or 8.1 system, you may find the following resources to be helpful.

Narrator on Windows 8: https://www.isunshare.com/windows-8/turn-on-and-turn-off-narrator-on-windows-8-or-8.1-computer.html

Posted in Accessibility Features, Assistive Technology, Blind, Technology in Education, Windows | Leave a comment