TV Accessibility features

It is not easy to engage in digital content for persons with disabilities such as finding out what is on TV or navigating the TV. Some TV broadcasting companies are trying to offer accessibility features so that these individuals can enjoy watching TV independently.

For example, Spectrum Broadcasting offers accessibility options such as an audible TV guide and downloadable video app for customers with visual impairments. A Spectrum Receiver with Spectrum Guide Narration includes full text-to-speech support of the Spectrum Guide so that persons with visual impairment can explore many TV shows and movies. Spectrum also offers closed captioning options which include Text Color, Text Size, Text Transparency, Font, Background color, etc. for the deaf.

Optimum Broadcasting offers services in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Long Island. Optimum offers accessibility features such as closed captioning, chat, caller ID, visual voicemail, Text/Email Alerts for Deaf and voice guidance, talking guide, and voice commands for persons with limited mobility (more info).

Persons with limited mobility or physical disabilities may have additional challenges such as speech impediment. As a result, they are not able to change channels, navigate the X1 programming guide, and set up recordings by voice. Comcast is planning to include eye gaze control to its X1 cable platform in addition to existing accessibility features (i.e. voice control). The eye control feature will help individuals with physical disabilities navigate TV channels independently. It looks like it will support most eye gaze hardware and software on the market such as Tobii. Hopefully more TV broadcasting companies will include and expand accessibility features to accommodate persons with disabilities.

Meet Jimmy | See How Our Technology Is Enabling Him to Be More Independent
(Youtube video by Comcast June 2019)

Posted in Accessibility Features, Assistive Technology, AT_Apps, AT_Software, Blind, Elderly, Hearing, Home Automation, Mobility, Services, Smart Home, Transition | Tagged | Leave a comment

Microsoft Translator

Microsoft Translator is a translator app that you can run on your mobile devices or on your computer. You can exchange conversations one-on-one or work with large group interactions and perform real-time translations. To include other participant(s) you share the code assigned to the conversation so that they can also participate in the conversation. This app can translate more than 60 languages via text or voice so you can include anyone regardless of the language they speak.

Where to get Microsoft Translator app

How to Use Microsoft Translator (YouTube)

How to Use Microsoft Translator
(Posted by Richard Byrne, 2018)

You can use this app not only for translation to another language, but you can also use this app to interact with d/Deaf and hard of hearing persons. For example, the speech to text feature allows d/Deaf and hard of hearing persons to read what you said on their mobile device. So it is useful in a real-time daily conversation. Additionally you can install Presentation Translator in the MS Power Point and use it in the classroom/lectures setting to accommodate these individuals with special needs. I hope that more teachers use technology like this app/software and devices to increase inclusion of d/Deaf and hard of hearing students or ESL students into general education classroom.

Get Started with Presentation Translator for Power Point (YouTube)

Get Started with Presentation Translator for Power Point
Microsoft Research (Published – 2017)

Presentation Translator in Action (YouTube)

Presentation Translator in Action
Microsoft Research (Published – 2017)
Posted in Accessibility Features, Android, Assistive Technology, AT_Apps, AT_Software, Hearing, iOS app, Wearable Computing | Leave a comment

Tap (one-handed keyboard)

Tap is an alternative one-handed wearable keyboard, which allows you to control your smartphone and other Bluetooth devices by tapping your fingers on any surface including your own body. You may find this alternative one-handed keyboard suitable for individuals with low vision or limited mobility. Tap supports Apple’s VoiceOver capabilities so that VoiceOver users may find this useful when they need to text, navigate, and control their mobile phones and computers. OS Compatibility: IOS 9+, ANDROID 5+, OS X YOSEMITE+, WINDOWS 8.1+, LINUX UBUNTU.

Learning to Tap with TapGenius Learning System
(YouTube video – published by Tap 2018)

Tap can also be used with iOS’ built in Switch Control so that users with limited mobility can navigate and control apps easier by mapping any switch control to any simple finger tap. You can customized and personalize any input, hotkey and combination of keys into single finger taps.

Using Switch Control to Navigate your iPhone or iPad with the Tap Strap
(YouTube video – published by Tap 2019)

Additionally, by using Web-based utility called TapMapper allows you to create custom layouts to play games and Garageband (music creation studio for macOS and iOS devices).

TapMapping for Garage Band (YouTube video -Published by Tap 2018)

According to the company, you can lean the Tap Alphabet™ in one to two hours by using their training game. It may be difficult for users who have tremor or learning disabilities. However, some individual may find Tap as an alternative keyboard allowing them access tablets or phone in a more comfortable way (i.e. any position such as laying on a bed or a wheelchair without holding a keyboard).
The price of Tap costs $199 which is more than most other keyboards on the market. Hopefully the price will be more affordable in the future for anyone who needs this special one-handed keyboard.

Posted in Accessibility Features, Assistive Technology, AT_Device, Blind, Employment, Games, Mobility, Technology in Education, Transition, Wearable Computing, Wearable devices, Windows | Leave a comment

Smart Home devices/Hubs with Amazon Alexa or Google Home

Home Automation allows you to program and schedule events for the devices in your home. By using a home automation hub or smart devices, you can control lights, appliances, security, monitor and control energy usage, etc. When I posted a blog about Insteon and SmartThings smart home options in 2015, I was hoping that technology companies would develop devices or systems with voice command to control devices that would benefit everyone, especially persons with limited mobility.

Amazon Alexa and Google Home have become popular and offer smart home products on the market. Voice command features on Alexa Echo and Google Home have expanded the smart home environment. Today many companies are trying to develop products to integrate their products with Amazon Alexa and/or Google Home.

You may already have a home automation hub or are considering to purchase a hub or smart devices that work with Alexa or Google Home. If so, you may find the following articles helpful.

Everything that works with Amazon Echo and Alexa:

Samsung SmartThings and Alexa Working Together
posted by Automate Your Life 2018 (YouTube video)

The best Google Home-compatible smart home devices:

Google Home Hub Setup & Home View Walkthrough
posted by Tech With Brett 2018 (YouTube video)

How to use Amazon Alexa and Google Home together at home

Ultimate Home Automation System with Google Home & Alexa. Smart Home Tour Setup Ideas Devices
posted by Rick Buck 2018 (YouTube video)

It looks like some devices have limitation to integrate with Alexa or Google Home. Especially front door lock may not be integrated because of security reasons. It is recommended that you make sure to check the compatibility. Local hardware stores have started carrying some smart home products so we will be seeing more smart devices and expanded features near future.

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Closed Captioning / Transcription Tool

Videos are entertaining and very effective in helping visual learners if they have difficulty understanding in a traditional learning environment. In addition, many students can engage in active learning by using videos, which makes learning more fun and interactive.  

However, video/Audio without captions are difficult for the deaf or hard of hearing persons to understand. Adding captions to video contents helps creators to deliver the message better to many audiences.

It is not easy to create transcriptions, however, if you want to help deaf or hard of hearing persons and include them in learning and social environments, it is recommended that you use a closed captioning (transcription) tool or service to provide text when you use videos or audio materials. Here are a few of examples you may want to try. Some software provide transcription only (speech to text) and others offer additional features (i.e. sync text to a video).

Temi (Transcription tool)

One transcript trial is free. Then 10 cents per min. No subscriptions. No minimum.
Turn around: Transcripts back in minutes /shorter files delivered faster.

Voice Typing in Google Docs

This is a Voice Typing (Speech to text) tool and it will not sync to your video, but it allows you to create your own transcription.

Amara (Closed captioning – online)

Amara Subtitles Online Subtitle tool
Published on Oct 10, 2014

Aegisubs (Download required)

UscreenPublished on Feb 28, 2018 (AEGISUB How to add Subtitles using AFQISUB)

Free.  Download the software.

You can create and modifying subtitles on your computer.
More flexible to place the captions in the video.
a built-in real-time video preview.

Youtube – Add your own subtitles and closed captions


VisualSubSync (Download required)

Create and place a caption with a certain timestamp position.

Jubler Subtitle Editor (Download required)

Offer OS version for Mac

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Kitchen Robotic

Home automation for the elderly and disabled focuses on helping them to become more independent and be more comfortable at home. You may already know of some home automation/robotics products that perform or help in household chores such as a robot which can vacuum floors, or another that controls lights and temperature remotely.

Cooking is difficult for many disabled or elderly. A company called Moley Robotics ( introduced an intelligent cooking robot a few years ago and is planning to start selling in 2019. However, the price will be very high and the product is not easy to purchase for those on a middle-income. Developing Kitchen Robotic face challenges such as making available with low cost to all disabled persons, making the system user-friendly so that they can operate easily, and customizing to each individual’s needs, capabilities, and their environments.

Kitchen Robotic

YouTube Video: Moley Robotic

An automated kitchen idea is adapted not only for disabled persons, but also it may also help to serve meals faster and more reasonable. Spyce Kitchen ( founded by MIT mechanical engineering graduates in Boston opened a restaurant where meals are prepared in a fully automated, robotic-powered kitchen. Each meal can be cooked in 3 minutes and costs only $7.50. We hope that Kitchen Robotics developed for home will be offered to public like this at an affordable price in the future so that elderly and disabled persons can enjoy meals at home.


YouTube video: Spyce Kitchen

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JABTalk Android App

If you are looking for a free Android Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) app to communicate with child who needs assistance with verbal communication, you may want to try this free app called JABtalk.

You can create/customize your personal communication sets by taking pictures or using the existing photos on your phone or tablet. For example, you can record words or sentences with your voice and associate to the image. It is recommend that you plan ahead and decide what categories you need in your daily conversation with the child so that you can organize words and sentences into user-defined categories to make it easier to use.

JABtalk can be beneficial not only for expanding communication skills for child at home, but it is also suitable for learning in a classroom setting. It offers one-click navigation with physical feedback (vibration). It is easy to rearrange and resize pictures, and supports text-to-speech. If you are creating audio recording on a computer, you can use an audio program such as Audacity. It can run on a Kindle-Fire tablet in addition to Android device. Listed below are a few tutorial videos on their website. More information, go to:

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A stairlift (or chair lift) is a motor-powered chair that moves along a track on a straight or curved staircase. Indoor and outdoor models are available on the market. Persons with limited mobility can sit on the lift chair and travel up or down the stairs. In most cases, a person can operate a button or a switch that is located near or on the armrest of the chair. It is battery operated so you can use during a power outage. It is usually installed to the treads of the stairs and not the wall. You can fold up the stairlift’s arms, seat, and footrest when it is not in use.

Unfortunately Medicare does not cover stairlifts. It is recommend that you ask yourself some questions before you select a stairlift that is right for you such as:
Temporary or permanent, what size (weight), type of stairs you have, a door close to your stairs, swivel seats, safety belts, battery backup, foot rest, folding rails, etc. You may have an option of trying different stairlifts in a showroom or rent one for a while, depending on the manufactures.

Some companies offer products to install by yourself ($1500 – $3000). According to Home Adviser, the national average of stairlift installation by a professional costs between $2400 and $6000.


A few Stair Lift Companies’ list: Click here

Posted in Accessibility Features, Assistive Technology, Elderly, Home Automation, House Automation, Mobility, Smart Home | Leave a comment

Wearable Camera

Holiday season is just around corner. For the many upcoming occasions, you may find the following wearable camera or a camera with accessories (i.e. vest) may allow a person, who has difficulty holding a camera, take pictures more easily. The following are some examples of wearable cameras.

About Product:

About Product:

Snap Inc. Wearable Spectacles
About Product:

iON SnapCam Lite Wearable Camera
About Product:

FrontRow FR Wearable lifestyle Camera
About Product:

Mofily YoCam
About Product:

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Power attachment for Manual Wheelchair

Pushrim-propelled wheelchairs are light and easy to use indoors because of their good indoor maneuverability but are not as easy to get around outdoors.  Electric Attachable Handcycle for Wheelchair may benefit manual wheelchair users who like to go outdoors often or need to travel an extended distance daily. Electric Attachable Handcyle converts a manual wheelchair into a motorized wheelchair capable of speeds up to 12 mph.

Some users stated that electric handcycle wheelchair can help them steer their wheelchairs easily outdoors, travel faster, and handle bumpy terrain better. Although the speed slows down on steep hills, and the performance is poor on grass surface, users enjoy more independence and freedom. Feedback about its disadvantages are: these electric handcycle wheelchair attachments are expensive, assembling mechanism may be difficult for some users, insurance companies may not cover the cost, and repairs may be a challenge if it breaks down, and accidents (i.e. falling) may occur more often due to its increased speed. It may require assistance to connect and disconnect the handcyle attachment from your wheelchair. However, it may be an effective solution for the active wheelchair users to get around outdoors.

There are a few manufactures make electric handcycle wheelchairs attachment for wheelchairs.  Example:  Freedom-Cycle DXM-36        Firefly Fully Electric attachment

It is recommended that you find out if they offer a loaner for a trial period before you purchase and what type of maintenance and support are available after the purchase. Some product information through online may not be updated frequently, and the customer services and support may vary (i.e. imported products).

A much more costly option, but you may find that adding a device called the SmartDrive electric power system onto your manual wheelchair may also fit to your daily activities. Here is a comparison between SmartDrive MX2 vs Rio Mobility Firefly.

A YouTube video by the CIL

Posted in Accessibility Features, Assistive Technology, AT_Device, Mobility, Transportation for wheelchair users, Transportations | Tagged , | Leave a comment