Blogging with Becky
You don’t have to be a teenager to catch the Apple product fever. I had long been a PC and Blackberry user. My initial interest in Apple had to do with wanting to organize and play my favorite music. So my first Apple product was an iPod Shuffle. This tiny little device was only 1.62 x 1.07 inches. The model I bought held up to 500 songs (newer ones can hold up to 1,000 songs). It was very simple to go to Apple’s program called iTunes to buy and download my song choices. That little device was the beginning of my Apple obsession. Since then I have bought an iPod Touch, changed my work computer to an iMac and replaced my laptop with a MacBook. Soon I plan to get the iPhone. What really made me switch over to Apple products are the great accessibility features.
If someone has a visual disability, there are many features including a built-in screen reader, voice commands, screen magnification, high-contrast settings, and other technologies. For people who have difficulty hearing, there are computer speech, sounds, and alerts features. For individuals with physical disabilities, there are built-in technologies that can help navigate a computer even if someone has difficulties using the keyboard, mouse, and trackpad. I especially like the Automator. If someone has trouble using a mouse or trackpad, they can have Automator perform complex, routine tasks for them. Using its “Watch me do” feature, you can quickly and easily record what you do on your Mac, save it as a “workflow,” and run the workflow whenever you want to perform the same series of steps. Not to mention a wide variety of literacy and learning features to boot.
While some PC’s have a few of these features (but not all), what really sets Apple apart are some of the software packages and applications written specifically made to run on Apple products. I had to the pleasure of hearing the two developers of an application called Prologuo2go at a workshop today. Until now, individuals who are non-verbal or have difficulty speaking did not have effective, low cost solutions. The main remedy was to buy a large and expensive device referred to as an Augmentative and Alternative Communication Device (AAC device for short).
A year and a half ago, David Niemeijer (CEO of AssistiveWare in Amsterdam, Netherlands), and Samuel Sennott (Ph.D. Candidate at The Pennsylvania State University), met each other at a conference. They had an idea of creating an application for the iPhone and iPod Touch that would change the world of AAC devices. A year in development and released just six month ago, it has taken the technology world by storm. The program, Proloquo2Go, brings natural sounding text-to-speech voices, up-to-date symbols, powerful automatic conjugations, a default vocabulary of over 7000 items, full expandability and extreme ease of use to the iPhone and iPod touch. While it does take a certain level of dexterity to use, it may be a good solution for many farmers who have had a stroke or family members that may be non-verbal due to autism or other disabilities. Here is a quick overview that was featured on ieee.tv about the program:
Another program I really like is iPrompts. This program uses picture-based prompts (no audio prompts or voice output) to aide individuals to stay on task, transition between activities, and communicate their needs. It can be an effective aide for someone who may have difficulty to remember a sequence of tasks and timing. For farmers who have had a stroke or brain injury, this tool can be used to enter a sequence of events, such as feeding animals or how to order supplies. Here is a video of a panel of parents who use the program.
We will soon offer interactive workshops on how to use these two programs. So watch our home page to stay informed of the dates and times.