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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.

 

Last fall, MDOD’s Director of Emergency Preparedness Policy collaborated with the MD Technology Assistance Program to secure a grant for creating assistive technology kits to be used during disasters. A disaster or evacuation shelter provides life- saving mass care to survivors in their community so they can begin the recovery process. To ensure that Maryland meets the needs of the whole community, survivors need equal access to mass care, disaster assistance, and other recovery services. This means equal access to buildings, programs, communication, and information. Response and recovery services must be compliant with the ADA.

During the recent flash floods, the kits were deployed to shelters and disaster assistance centers in Howard and Baltimore Counties, and Baltimore City. MDOD works closely with Maryland Department of Human Services to ensure that the assistive technologies are available when mass care, repatriation, or recovery centers are open. The assistive technology kits are strategically located throughout the state to ensure they are operationally ready to support a disaster 24/7.

Hey Google!

Contributed by Erin Swann, MSE, ATP

“Hey Google, who won the hockey game last night?”

“Hey Google, turn on the living room light.”

“Hey Google, play my morning music playlist.”

Google Home and other smart home devices allow us to control many things in our environment simply by using our voice.

For some people with disabilities, having control over the lights, thermostat, doors, locks and many other things by using voice commands can be very powerful.

Google Home can also provide entertainment by playing music, audio books, or even TV shows and movies with the use of Chromecast on a TV.

And for those who could use some assistance with keeping organized, Google Home can keep track of your calendar, reminders, and even place phone calls for you.

We recently added the Google Home and Google Home Mini to our Assistive Technology Loan Library. Send us a message at mdtap@mdtap.org if you’d like to give Google Home a try!

We also have the Amazon Echo if you’d like to give that a try as well!

 

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