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The CDC estimates that 61 million adults in the United States live with disabilities, which has pushed Google and rivals Apple and Microsoft to make products and services more accessible to them.

Google’s latest features bring quick actions and navigation to people whose expressions are their primary means of interacting with their smartphones.

Advances in the Android operating system allow machine learning and front-facing cameras on to detect face and eye movements in order to trigger commands and actions. Users can scan their phone screen and select a task by:

Project Activate App and Camera Switches Functionality

Several  of the facial recognition features can be accessed by using the Project Activate App, and other facial recognition controls are built into the OS as a feature called Camera Switches, which records commands and assigns them to predetermined functions.   Note that both of these applications can't be used simultaneously, as they use the front-facing camera, which can only be used by one application at a time.

With your facial expressions, you can:

• Play a text-to-speech phrase
• Play audio to express yourself or control a smart speaker
• Send a text message
• Make a phone call

The new features rely on the smartphone’s front-facing camera, which can watch the user’s face in real time for one of six expressions: a smile, raised eyebrows, opened mouth and looking left, right or up.

All three of the tech giants: Apple, Google, and Microsoft, have consistently rolled out innovations that make  technology more accessible to people with disabilities or who find that age has made some tasks, such as reading, more difficult.  This competition is great for users.

Get in Touch with an Expert at Northwest Ergonomics & Assistive Technology

Northwest Ergonomics and Assistive Technology is here to help with your assistive technology needs. Our trained  experts will consult with you to understand your specific needs and provide solutions that really work. We help people of all ages who have experienced any kind of disability.

It is important to our caring specialists that you really get the benefit of these wonderful advancements in technology. For that reason we specialize in training and follow-up to make sure that everything is working as effectively as possible for you.

To contact us, use the form on our contact page, or call 206-707-8830

August 21st is National Senior Citizens Day.  Along with the disabled, seniors are the group reaping tons of benefits of assistive technology in recent years.

As we age, we will inevitably experience the negative effects like loss of sight and mobility. These symptoms of aging can reduce someone's quality of life, especially if they are unable to work or if they live away from close friends and family members.

The good news is that there is a growing arsenal of assistive devices and technologies that can make a huge difference for older people. 'Assistive technology' is a large category that include everything from hearing aids and grab bars to wheelchair lifts and dictation software.  Due to improved safety and monitoring option, these devices are allowing seniors to stay at home and live independently much longer than they used to.

Here are some exciting recent developments:

Fall Detection

The Walabot HOME device (pictured) can be mounted on the wall of the bathroom (where 80% of falls take place) and can detect if someone falls, and the user doesn't have to wear any device. Once detected, the Walabot automatically alerts the emergency contact through the two-way voice, text message. The alarm can be disabled simply by standing up.

Medication Help and Safety

Simple devices like the Med-E-Lert Premium Locking Automatic Pill Dispenser will start flashing and make an audio alert when it is time to take your medication. Additionally, it will lock future doses to prevent overdosing.

More Elaborate devices like the MedMinder Medication Dispenser (pictured, right) will not only notify the patient when to take their meds, it will also also notify caretakers if the regimen is not being followed.  The device can connect directly to the caretaker or emergency contact so they can communicate with the user.

Mobile Apps to Monitor Health

The Kardia Mobile app (pictured, by AliveCor) allows anyone who has it to put their fingers on a sensor and within 30 seconds get a hospital quality EKG at any time.  The device is very automatic once installed, saves the results and can share with caretakers and/or medical team. It can help detect symptoms like atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, tachycardia or abnormal heart rhythm

The Omron Evolve Blood Pressure Monitor can keep on top of the users blood pressure in order to prevent heart attacks. The user need only slide their arm into the arm cuffand press a button and their blood pressure will be measured, the results stored, and the caretaker or medical team can be alerted as well.

Magnifiers for Reading and More

There are tons of devices to help those with limited vision enjoy a better quality of life.RUBY 7 HD (pictured, from Freedom Scientific) magnifies written materials to help with reading.It can also help with writing, distance viewing, and even a mirror-image self-view.

Contact Us for Help

Contact Northwest Ergonomics & Wellness if you are experiencing a loss of movement, hearing, sight, or any other disability that technology may be able to assuage. You won't know what is possible until you contact the experts. We have a dedicated team of assistive technology specialists who really care about our clients and go the extra mile to find them solutions to keep them productive and happy. You can fill out a form on the contact page, or call us at 206-707-8380.

 

Technology has afforded us so many advantages, and those with disabilities have received many upgrades in quality of life as a result. The visually impaired  have been the recipients of some great improvements in their ability to compute and function more independently.

Amazon Echo Frames

Amazon Echo Frames

Assistive Technology for the Visually Impaired via Augmented Reality (AR) Glasses

Visual impairments are very common, and there also side effects of many injuries and diseases. We have written about screen readers and ‘on screen text’ magnifiers in the past.  There are also special monitors to help those with light sensitivity (or photophobia) use a computer.

Now, for all users, including the visually impaired, there are more sophisticated tools being released that will augment their ability to navigate daily life. For instance, the Amazon Echo Frames Glasses, which are 'smart glasses.' These glasses will communicate with an Amazon Echo Dot and allow the wearer to ask questions about where they are and what they are looking at.  When away from home, the Amazon Echo Frames Glasses will be able to communicate with the Echo Dot via Bluetooth in the wearer's Android or iPhone device.  For more about the Amazon Echo Dot, see our article about smart home devices here.

The recently released Envision Glasses are also great for the visually impaired, as they audibly read back text that is in the wearer's line of sight. There is a great website called Everyday Sight that is a wonderful resource about technologies and products that the sight-impaired can utilize, along with great software designed just for this audience.

Apple AR Glasses

Apple has been developing augmented reality (AR) Glasses that will synchronize with the user's iPhone to bring info like texts and emails in to the wearer's field of vision.  With Apple's strong history of accessibility features, there is little doubt that these will also benefit those who are visually impaired, and the elderly as well.

Brain Power "Empowered Brain" Glasses System for Autism

Brain Power Glasses

Brain Power Glasses

Brain Power has developed a form of  glasses and software that helps students with autism, ADHD, and other social-emotional challenges learn the life skills crucial for happy self-sufficiency.  Their Empowered Brain™ is designed to teach 'social-emotional learning (SEL),' and help wearers achieve new levels of independence.

Windows Eye Control Integration

We have written about the benefits of "eye trackers", which allow you to control your mouse and computer with your eyes.  These are great for those with movement disabilities.  There is a new development in that Windows computers are increasingly compatible with these devices. The feature is in a beta/testing phase in Windows 10 and will be more fully realized in Windows 11. You can visit the Microsoft website to read about this integration.

WOW Computers  For the Elderly

WOW Computers for the Elderly

My WOW Computers for the Elderly

Assistive technology for the elderly is an area that is going to explode with new developments in the coming years. One such product is the My WOW Computer - designed for the elderly.

Not only does the My WOW Computer have a large screen that is easy to see, it also has touch capabilities so that seniors who are suffering with arthritis and might have a difficulty using a mouse or keyboard can easily select options that are on the screen and browse the web, send emails, etc.

Get in Touch with an Expert at Northwest Ergonomics & Assistive Technology

Northwest Ergonomics and Assistive Technology is here to help with your assistive technology needs. Our trained  experts will consult with you to understand your specific needs and provide solutions that really work. We help people of all ages who have experienced an injury or other disability.

It is important to our caring specialists that you really get the benefit of these wonderful advancements in technology. For that reason we specialize in training and follow-up to make sure that everything is working as effectively as possible for you.

To contact us, use the form on our contact page, or call 206-707-8830

For a variety of reasons, many people suffer from photophobia, or light sensitivity.

Photophobia is a name for hyper-sensitivity to light, and those who suffer from it will experience discomfort when they are exposed to sunlight, fluorescent light, and LED lights. Photophobic individuals will need to squint or close their eyes when exposed to these light sources. Photophobic individuals often wear dimming glasses, and may experience frequent headaches.

Light-sensitive people sometimes are bothered only by bright light. In extreme cases, almost any light can be irritating.

What Causes Photophobia?

Photophobia a name for a group of symptoms that are caused by a variety of conditions, including traumatic brain injury, infection, or inflammation.  Light sensitivity also can be a symptom of underlying diseases that don't directly affect the eyes, such as virus-caused illnesses or migraine headaches.

People with a lighter eye color also may experience more light sensitivity in environments such as bright sunlight, because darker-colored eyes contain more pigment to protect against harsh lighting.

Some other common causes of photophobia include corneal abrasion, uveitis or a central nervous system disorder such as meningitis. Light sensitivity also is associated with a detached retina, contact lens irritations, sunburn and refractive surgery.

Computer and Workplace Solutions for Photophobia

E-Ink Technology

The best display technology for those suffering from photophobia who want to use a computer is “E-Ink” technology. This technology creates words and images with liquid so that there is minimal light that will flicker and irritate the eyes of photophobic persons.

How Does E-Ink Work?

In displays that use E-Ink technology, tiny microcapsules are suspended in a liquid that is encased within a film layer.  The microcapsules, which are roughly the width of a human hair, contain positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles.

If you’ve seen an Amazon Kindle device you may have noticed that while it may not be “bright,” it is still quite clear and readable. The Amazon Kindle uses E-Ink technology for the comfort of its users' eyes - so that they would be able to read for a long time with little eye strain.

Dasung E-Ink “Paperlike” Monitors

The "gold standard" in E-Ink Monitors are the Dasung "Paperlike" Monitors. (pictured, right). These monitors are very 'low-strain', and the lack of flickering and blue light are a dream come true for sufferers of  photophobia.

New 25.5" Monitor Shipping in August 2021

Up until now, there's only been a 13.5-inch available but recently Dasung announced that a 25.5-inch monitor will ship in August.

Asus Eye Care Monitors

Another popular alternative to 'regular' monitors are the Asus Eye Care Monitors.  Unlike the Dasung monitors, these still use the more traditional components (lighting) to illuminate the screen. But, this line from Asus have several enhancements to reduce eye strain:

Get in Touch with an Ergonomics and Assistive Technology Specialist

Light-sensitive users need support and to learn how to benefit from the variety of technology available.  The skilled training that our specialists provide greatly enhance the effectiveness of these aids, and we can make sure you are aware of the world of other assistive technology devices and software that are available to you.

When you contact Northwest Ergonomics and Assistive Technology, our specialists will consult with you to understand your specific needs and provide solutions that really work. It is important to our caring consultants that you really get the maximum benefit of these wonderful advancements in technology.  For that reason, we specialize in training and follow-up to make sure that everything is working as effectively as possible for you. We help people of all ages who have experienced an injury or other disability.

To contact us, use the form on our contact page, or call 206-707-8830

 

It's an exciting time to be working in the field of Assistive Technology as scientific and technological advancements have allowed us to continually find new and better solutions for those who are challenged by a disability. One area that we've been increasingly helping our clients with is augmented communication.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Devices

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices are tools to help people who struggle with speech. These may be simple letter or picture boards or sophisticated computer-based systems. Assistive AAC technology helps someone to communicate as effectively as possible, in as many situations as possible. Some reasons that people might struggle with speech include:

There are many devices and apps for phone and face-to-face communication that are designed for individuals who do not speak at all or who find speaking very challenging.  There is a great article on the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) website about the breadth of augmented and alternative communication devices.

Some Frequently Installed Devices

Tobii Dynavox I-SeriesTobii I Series User AT AAC

Our team has helped some speech-challenged individuals better communicate with the Tobii Dynavox I-Series.

The I-Series is an eye gaze-enabled speech generating device that allows users to choose messaging with their eyes that the device then vocalizes to others.  The I-Series is devices designed for people with conditions such as cerebral palsy, ALS or spinal cord injury.

The MegaBee Assisted Communication and Writing Tablet

The MegaBee tablet from LoganTech allows users who lack muscle control to communicate using just their eyes.

This AAC device is designed specifically for users are unable to use most of their body’s voluntary muscles.

The device is actually held by the listener who looks through the opening in the center of the device to view the direction of the user’s eye movements. A series of colored buttons allows the listener to push them as the user moves his or her eyes, first at one of six colored blocks, and then at a specific color (representing a letter) within that block. The goal is to spell out what the user wants to say onto the LCD screen.

The device also features a shorthand option, so the user and listener can come up with a personal set of abbreviations for their most commonly used terms. For those with low cognitive or literacy skills, the MegaBee also operates in a picture mode.

GoTalk Express 32 Communicator

The GoTalk Express 32 from Attainment Company is similar to the I-Series tablet except that users push buttons to trigger audible words in order to better communicate. The GoTalk Express 32 Communicator is rugged, attractive and has great sound quality. It features surround-message LEDs for visual prompts, an option to add a one-and-half second auditory cue to any message and the remarkable ability to seamlessly play multiple messages in sequence.

Get in Touch with an Augmented Communication Expert at Northwest Ergonomics & Assistive Technology

AAC users need support and to learn how to use communication aids. Carers and professionals need training to be able to provide this support. Don't make the mistake of trying to "self-install" and "learn" how to use these tools.

The skilled training that our specialists provide greatly enhance the effectiveness of the device, and greatly increase the enjoyment of all users.

Our specialists will consult with you to understand your specific needs and provide solutions that really work. It is important to our caring specialists that you really get the benefit of these wonderful advancements in technology.  For that reason we specialize in training and follow-up to make sure that everything is working as effectively as possible for you. We help people of all ages who have experienced an injury or other disability.

To contact us, use the form on our contact page, or call 206-707-8830

 

Microsoft and Nuance (makers of Dragon dictation software) have announced that Microsoft will acquire Nuance for $19.7 billion, Microsoft's second-largest acquisition ever.

Dictation for Healthcare and Governments

Nuance of course is primarily known for its flagship dictation program Dragon NaturallySpeaking.  Microsoft has prioritized healthcare/medical solutions and recently collaborated with Nuance to take advantage of Nuance's sophisticated AI to transcribe and dictate online conversations that medical providers were creating.

There is an increasing amount of recording going on in the healthcare space, but finding use of the recordings is difficult without indexable transcriptions.  Enter Nuance/Dragon which is very intuitive and accurate in its dictations. Microsoft has been collaborating with Nuance for some time to provide this searchable transcription solution, and the project gained momentum last year due to the  increased remote communications caused by the the COVID-19 pandemic.

The same types of communications solutions will figure prominently into the operations of other types of businesses, and governments.  Of course, our team at Northwest Ergonomics and Assistive Technology have been installing Dragon software for many years to help disabled and injured people continue pursuing their professional and creative goals.

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) Wars

Microsoft's AI program Cortana competes with Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa but has been much less successful. Nuance has long been the leader in parsing and understanding verbal intent, including providing technology that is the backbone of Apple's Siri's voice recognition capabilities. This acquisition is seen as Microsoft's acknowledgment of the importance of AI and a renewed commitment to developing their AI by acquiring one of the key players in the space.

The Cloud is Key

In its announcement, Microsoft said Nuance’s technology will be used to augment Microsoft’s cloud products for healthcare.  This acquisition comes as Nuance transitions it’s Dragon software product to a cloud-based/subscription model, so internet access (and speed) is going to be paramount for users to succeed with the software.

Contact the Dragon Experts at Northwest Ergonomics

The team at Northwest Ergonomics is here to help with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Our highly trained assistive technology experts will consult with you to understand your specific needs and provide solutions that really work. We help people of all ages including adults in the workplace who have experienced an injury or other disability.

It is important to our caring specialists that you really get the benefit of these wonderful advancements in technology. For that reason we specialize in training and follow-up to make sure that everything is working as effectively as possible for you.

To contact us, use the form on our contact page, or call 206-707-8830.

 

Northwest Ergonomics and Assistive Technology are the premiere providers of Dragon NaturallySpeaking support in the Pacific Northwest.

This incredible software has done wonders for people with injuries and disabilities to utilize their computers and mobile devices to communicate, work, and have fun.

Dragon Performance Gradually Degrades

It seems that over time, Dragon slows down to become less accurate as data is accumulated and stored in your user profile. Some people reinstall the software to get a 'fresh start', but our Specialist Doug Lear has outlined a simpler fix that only takes a few minutes, and preserves all of your custom vocabulary and commands.

Creating a New User Profile in Dragon

Doug has found that periodically creating a new user profile 'resets' Dragon, improving speed and accuracy.  It's not hard to do, it can be done in less than five minutes with a little practice. Doug actually does this on his own system about once a month. Here are the steps:

1. Export Your Vocabulary

Use the Vocabulary drop down to export your custom words that you've programmed into Dragon.

2. Export Your Custom Commands

Use the Tools Menu to navigate to the command browser.

 

Then, select User Defined, highlight your custom commands, and right click>"export."

 

3. Create a New User Profile

Go to the "Users" menu and pick "Manage Users"

Then, select "New" to create a new user

 

4. Import Your Vocabulary and Commands to New User

Once you are logged in as a new Dragon user, use the same menus to import the vocabulary:

 

Then use the Tools menu to get back to your "User Defined" commands in the Command Browser and right click> "Import"

 

You should notice an immediate improvement in accuracy and speed.

Follow Up: Optimizing Dragon's Storage and Behavior

In his almost twenty years of using Dragon, Doug has picked up another couple of tricks that may help.

1. Turning off "Automatically Add words to Vocabulary"

Go to Tools > Options:

 

And 'un check' Automatically add words to the active vocabulary.

2. Follow Up: Run Language Optimizer/Accuracy Tuner One Time

Any user of Dragon will be familiar with the periodic accuracy improvement dialogue. Doug recommends that you run this the first time it appears and then not again after the first appearance:

 

4. (After First Accuracy Tuning) Check "Conserve Disk Space"

Then, from that same Tools>Options menu, go to the data section on the left and check "conserve disk space."

 

5. Turn off "Save Recordings"

Then, in that same dialog,  set "Save recorded dictation with document" To "Never"

After this, you should notice improved performance!

Contact the Dragon Experts at Northwest Ergonomics

Doug Lear and the team at Northwest Ergonomics is here to help with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Our highly trained assistive technology experts will consult with you to understand your specific needs and provide solutions that really work. We help people of all ages including adults in the workplace who have experienced an injury or other disability.

It is important to our caring specialists that you really get the benefit of these wonderful advancements in technology. For that reason we specialize in training and follow-up to make sure that everything is working as effectively as possible for you.

To contact us, use the form on our contact page, or call 206-707-8830.

 

What is a Smart Home Device?

Smart Home devices are those that can respond to stimulus, like commands given to an Amazon Echo device.  Smart Home devices allow those with movement problems to control their home appliances and do a variety of things with their voice, like:

  • Making phone calls
  • Setting timers
  • Setting alarms
  • Managing lists
  • Listening to music
  • Checking news and the weather
  • Ordering online essentials for the home

Amazon Echo and Alexa

Amazon has led the way in Smart Home connectivity, with their Echo listening device and 'Alexa', their artificial intelligence (AI) powered voice assistant.   The Echo device relays the user's command to the smart home appliances, allowing users to activate appliances, turn on/off lights, and even turn on their computers.

Tecla Enhances Alexa for Quadriplegic Users

Where Amazon's Smart Home functionality includes activating computing devices, the tecla-E  from tecla is a software app that allows the user to  operate software on the computer and on mobile devices.

The tecla-e allows user to use their voice to access their mobile devices, computers, and tablets.  It is designed for easily switching between and controlling the computers, tablets, and mobile phones.

Add-Ons for Speech Impaired Users

With an eye towards serving even more disabled and/or injured people (or when the user wants to stay silent and not disturb someone else), the tecla-e also works with devices that allow simple movements or even blowing air to operate computers and mobile devices, like:

Hive Active Smart Plug

The Hive Smart Plug is an adapter to that goes into a wall socket in order to plug your other devices into, and whatever is plugged into the Hive Smart Plug can be controlled via voice. You do have to invest in a hub that you communicate with to control various Hive smart plugs in your home, but The Hive app is very intuitive to use.

The Hive goes beyond simply turning devices on and off and can also communicates with other assistive technology inventions like "smart" bulbs that can be brightened or dimmed with verbal commands. The Hive can also raise or lower the temperature on the thermostat.

Google Smart Home is Powerful Assistive Technology

While Amazon is still the leader in smart home technology, don't count out Google Home which offers many of the same features and is being embraced by disabled and  injured people. An example is the Google Nest Thermostat, which is a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat that is by far the most popular thermostat being installed for the last few years.

The Google Nest Audio receptor allows people to use their voices to control many of the same appliances that the Amazon Echo and Alexa control.  For instance, a Google Home device can connect to smart  light bulbs, turning them on and off via voice command.

Not surprisingly the Google device also can also allows users to access the Internet to gather useful information when they need it most. You can ask your smart speaker where the nearest wheelchair-accessible pharmacy is, or whether or not your local restaurant is open, and even call the place an order (or do it online).Google's Audio "smart speaker" will help you call for help or contact a loved one when you need assistance urgently, without having to use your smartphone.

Get in Touch with a Specialist to Set Up Smart Home Devices

All of these assistive technologies and many other solutions will work wonders for an injured or disabled person, but it is not recommended that you set them up yourself. An Assistive Technology Specialist can  install the device correctly and optimize it to work with your voice while ensuring you know how to make it work for you.

To speak with one of our team members, contact us by calling the number above or filling out a form to the right.   Our team assists with ergonomics and assistive technology of all kinds to improve people's lives and we look forward to improving yours.

 

Individuals who suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) will have a unique set of symptoms due to a variety of factors like:

However, impairments in motor functioning, language processing, and cognitive status are quite common for traumatic brain injury survivors.

In many cases, persons with TBI will find themselves unable to perform some of the everyday cognitive functions they used to. Our firm is frequently called upon to provide solutions for those who are struggling with physical or cognitive issues related to a brain injury.

Our solutions are known as 'assistive technology' and Dragon dictation software is very helpful for many of our  clients.

Using Dragon Software to Overcome Movement Difficulties

Motor dysfunction is a common long-term symptom of TBI that causes predictable difficulties in computing, learning, and thus, academic (and professional) progress.  Children and adults with motor dysfunction have benefitted greatly from Dragon's speech-recognition software.

Dragon software allows you to use verbal commands to overcome your movement difficulties. Dragon allows users to:

The results of many studies indicates that students and adults with TBI benefit greatly from Dragon's speech to text technology. There was a research paper written about this by Melissa Ann Noakes of Duquesne University.

One great thing about Dragon is that it is customizable for the person's specific voice and needs. When properly installed and optimized by a professional, the software becomes a partner that helps you compute, read, produce work and surf the web.

The typical process for installing Dragon is that one of our technicians will provide an assessment of your situation and physical capabilities, then propose a solution that includes software and hardware (usually, a high quality microphone - but there are many other assistive tools to help people with movement difficulties).

Then, our technician will install and train you on how to get the most out of the software. They will walk you through the process of opening programs, dictating words, making corrections, and sending your creations.

Having Text Read to You by a Screen Reader

Screen reader software like JAWS can also be helpful by reading out out loud what is on your screen. This is great for those with impaired

vision (as we've written about here), but it's also great for people with TBI, as it can reduce the cognitive load of reading and allows them to hear the words.  This software is also great for those with learning disabilities like dyslexia.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

There are services that help your computer 'read' what is contained in documents (like .pdfs) that web browsers and word processing programs can't 'parse.'  A couple examples are SimpleOCR and AbbyFineReader PDF.  This technology is often referred to as "Optical Character Recognition" or OCR.

Microsoft Office Lens Helps You "Read" PDFs and Whiteboards

The Microsoft app called "Lens" facilitates taking pictures of documents and whiteboards, and opening them in your computer. It helps you read and store information from documents like pdfs as well. This app is popular with our team because it's free and easy to use.

CO:Writer Software Helps You Write with Predictive Text

Using a speech recognition system is great, and so is having text read to you. But there are even tools to help you "find the next word you need", to make writing as easy as possible.  CO:Writer is just such a product.  Developed by Don Johnston Human Learning Tools, CO:Writer installs  on your computer or mobile device and uses its Neuron Predictive Engine to suggest the next word or phrase that you are looking for.

This software is great for those recovering from a traumatic brain injury, as it reduces the cognitive load of having to search for just the right word. This software is great for overcoming bad grammar and spelling as well.

Get in Touch with a Specialist to Set Up Dragon and Other Programs

Dragon dictation software and all of these other solutions will work wonders for a TBI recovering person, but it is not recommended that you set them up yourself. A Dragon Specialist can check your hardware to make sure it has adequate resources to support Dragon and then install the software correctly.

Then, they will help you configure your speech devices and most importantly, provide some basic training to get you up to speed with the various commands. Once installed, a Dragon specialist can show you how to "teach" Dragon how to interpret your unique voice more accurately.  The software can be customized to perform basic operations on your computer, and more quickly and easily recognize your frequently used terms, names, and phrases (and emails etc.).

Doug Lear is an Assistive Technology Specialist on our team who specializes in implementing Dragon software for professionals and students in all fields. Doug has a special affinity for helping people with Dragon after he used it himself to overcome a work-related injury.  Read more about Doug and the other members of our team on our staff 'bios' page.

To speak with one of our team members, contact us by calling the number above or filling out a form to the right.   Our team assists with ergonomics and assistive technology of all kinds to improve people's lives and we look forward to improving yours.

 

What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology describes any device that helps “assist” people with injuries or disabilities. Most typically, this label is applied to software that enhances one’s ability to use a computer. There are some wonderful tools available so that people who are visually impaired, or even blind, can take advantage of computers and technology.

Assistive Technology for the Blind and Visually Impaired

In the case of blind people and those who have “low vision” (or are visually impaired) it’s very common that they will take advantage of

JAWS® Screen Reader

JAWS® ,developed by Freedom Scientific, is the world’s most popular screen reader. JAWS® stands for Job Access With Speech. This software is voice activated in reads the screen out (on Windows devices) out loud to computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse.

JAWS provides speech and Braille output for the most popular computer applications on your PC. You will be able to navigate the Internet, write a document, read an e-mail, and create presentations from your office, remote desktop, or from home.

ZoomText and Fusion Professional

The company called ZoomText has developed its namesake software to magnify ‘on-screen’ text for those who have visual impairment (or “low vision” individuals).

A related product is “Fusion”, named such because it combines both the ZoomText, functionality with the JAWS® product discussed above. So users can get the magnified text as well as the screen reading functionality.

Accessible Feature Mobile Phones for People with Visual Impairments

At the time of this guide's publication, three feature phones stood out for their accessibility.

The Kyocera Kona and Kyocera Verve

Offered by Sprint/T-Mobile, the Kona is flip phone that includes a feature set that helps make it accessible to visually impaired individuals. The Verve is a candy-bar style phone is also available either with or without a contract. The Verve offers a slide out keyboard for those who wish to text frequently with accessibility. Read reviews for both the Verve and the Kona from AFB AccessWorld.

The Odin VI

The Odin VI

The Odin VI from Odin Mobile, a third-party cell provider that specializes in serving those with visual impairments, is a candy-bar style phone with a slide-out keypad. Read a review of the Odin VI in AFB AccessWorld.

Get in Touch with an Expert at Northwest Ergonomics & Assistive Technology

Northwest Ergonomics and Assistive Technology is here to help with your assistive technology needs. Our trained  experts will consult with you to understand your specific needs and provide solutions that really work. We help people of all ages who have experienced any kind of disability.

It is important to our caring specialists that you really get the benefit of these wonderful advancements in technology. For that reason we specialize in training and follow-up to make sure that everything is working as effectively as possible for you.

To contact us, use the form on our contact page, or call 206-707-8830

 

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