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Greetings from Georgia Tech’s Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA), working with Georgia’s AT project, Tools for Life. 

Hand on computer mouse rolls over paper saying "Survey" Red check mark in Very Satisfied box.When you are at work, how does the way you get around the workplace or take part in meetings affect whether or not you feel like “part of the team?”  How do workplace design and coworker actions help you participate in the workplace?

 

We are studying how the work environment affects an employee’s ability to take part in work activities and his or her sense of inclusion.  Our findings will suggest actions that employers can take to make their workplaces more accessible and welcoming.

 

We are currently seeking full-time employees with disabilities to participate in the study.  We would like the employee’s supervisor to also agree to answer a short survey, but that is not a requirement for participation.  Employee responses will not be shared with the supervisor.

 

In order to take part in this study, you must:

  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Have a disability, including vision, hearing, mobility, manipulation, speech, and/or a cognitive disability.
  • Currently be employed for at least 20 hours per week in a physical work setting (for example, an office or retail store).
  • Have been employed in your current job for more than 1 year.
  • Work with at least one other employee.
  • Have disclosed your disability to employer.
  • Work in the United States
  • Be fluent in English

 

If you are selected for this study you will complete three online surveys, which will take approximately 60 minutes.  If you are unable or prefer not to use a computer, we can administer the surveys during a telephone interview.  You will receive $100 as compensation for your time.

 

If you are interested, please contact Frances Harris or Karen Milchus at the Georgia Institute of Technology at:

frances.harris@design.gatech.edu

karen.milchus@design.gatech.edu

(404) 894-4960

MDTAP had to say good bye to Erin Swann, our wonderful AT Specialist.  Erin is off to do great things on a new adventure and we wish her the best.  But that’s good news for you–if you’re looking for a position with the best AT team around!  

MDTAP is hiring a new Assistive Technology Specialist.  This position coordinates our efforts to get technology out to Marylanders who need it.  The AT Specialist manages the loan library, meets with individuals and groups to demonstrate equipment and promotes assistive technology use for people with disabilities.  The position also conducts trainings on devices, either in person or via other meeting tools, and contributes content for this blog, our website and other social media outlets.  

If you have four years of AT experience and want to work to help others, this is the position for you!  Apply online by September 5th.  We can’t wait to meet you!

Link to job posting:

https://www.jobapscloud.com/MD/sup/bulpreview.asp?R1=18&R2=002586&R3=0054

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Contributed by Erin Swann, ATP

Joan Green is a speech-language pathologist based out of Montgomery County, Maryland who founded the organization, Innovative Speech Therapy, to provide services to those with communication and learning disabilities.

Recently, Joan is focusing on educating people about the assistive technology resources that they may already own on their computer, phones, or tablets that they may not be aware of.  Accessibility features, which are built into the operating system, can assist those who are not able to speak or who have trouble reading, writing, or seeing.

Joan currently has two free courses available.  Click on the two following links to read more information about each free course and determine if enrolling would benefit you or someone you are working with.

5 Free Ways to Make Reading Easier

Downloadable Communication Boards for Adults in Health Care Settings

Check back to Joan’s course website over time as she plans to add additional courses designed to help people with disabilities with assistive technology.

Another free resource that Joan provides is educational assistive technology webinars.  Visit the following link to sign up to be notified when her next webinar is scheduled: Webinar Interest Signup

If you are a parent or professional looking to learn even more in-depth information about assistive technology for special education settings, Joan has released the 3rd edition of her highly-rated book, Assistive Technology in Special Education: Resources to Support Literacy, Communication, and Learning Differences.

We are lucky to have such a great local AAC resource helping Marylanders as well as those across the United States.  Follow Innovative Speech Therapy on Facebook for even more content including helpful videos, articles, and updates relating to assistive technology for those with a variety of types of disabilities.

 

Contributed by Erin Swann, ATP

For those with low vision who have been interested in trying a wearable video magnifier, we recently added the NuEyes smart glasses to our loan library.

NuEyes are wireless smart glasses that allow the user to increase and decrease magnification while viewing objects and text in the environment.  Other features include different color/contrast options, voice commands, and OCR (optical character recognition).  OCR technology allows printed text to be read out loud to the user.

Sam from The Blind Life reviews technology for those with low vision and gives his honest opinion about the NuEyes device in the two videos below.

If you or someone you know is interested in a demo or loan of NuEyes, contact MDTAP at mdtap@mdtap.org to schedule an appointment!

 

Contributed by Erin Swann, ATP

One of the newest editions to our MDTAP loan library is an updated Eyegaze Edge.  We previously had an older version of the Eyegaze Edge, however, the new device has a thinner tablet, updated camera design, and updated software features.

the eyegaze edge pieces including a tablet, keyboard, and table mount

Using the Eyegaze Edge, someone is able to move the mouse cursor and click using eye movement.  The software on the Eyegaze Edge allows the device to be used as a communication device for someone who is unable to speak.  The user can also use their eye movement to send email, access the Internet, and have complete control of the Windows-based tablet.

the assembled eyegaze edge. a tablet is mounted on a table with a keyboard beneath it. The eyegaze camera is mounted below the tablet.

The eye gaze camera is connected to the bottom of the tablet and focuses on one of the user’s eyes.  During calibration, the camera takes measurements of the user’s eyes while looking at a dot that moves to different locations around the screen.  That data is used to determine where the user is looking when he or she is clicking on buttons or typing using eye movement.  The dwell clicking feature allows someone to click by holding their gaze in one location for a specified amount of time.

four screenshots on the eyegaze edge showing internet shortcuts, a keyboard for typing, the kindle app for reading, and an alert page for sending an emergency message

The software on the Eyegaze Edge is designed to be as easy to use as possible with the eyes by having large, easy to select, buttons.  There are shortcuts for commonly used features including a Kindle app for reading and turning pages with eye gaze.  There is also an alert shortcut button giving access to a loud alarm sound or the ability to send a text message to a caregiver in case of emergency.

There is even a page where you can store phrases to be spoken to an Amazon Echo.  The Amazon Echo is able to respond to spoken instructions from a device in the same way it responds to human speech.  Using eye gaze, someone could click on a button that would cause the device to say, “Alexa, turn on the light.”

Visitors to MDTAP can see a demo of the Eyegaze Edge and try all of the features in person.  Send us a message at mdtap@mdtap.org if you’d like to see our updated Eyegaze Edge!

 

Are you thinking of purchasing an electric wheelchair? Electric wheelchairs are powered by batteries and have some advantages (and disadvantages) over manual chairs. There are three major factors to consider when deciding between manual and electric wheelchairs-your budget, your physical condition and your needs.

If you are considering purchasing an electric wheelchair, make sure you match your needs to the features available. There are so many optional features to consider from style of chair (folding, all-terrain, etc) to wheel drive (front, mid or back). Each of these has a cost associated with them and you only want to pay for features you need or want. Here is a link to a resource guide that provides lots of good information and compares styles: Consumer Wheelchair Guide

Let us know in the comments if you have any advice for someone considering an electric wheelchair.

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