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.
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 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 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
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
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:
- Brain Damage
- Paralysis and Motor-loss
- Multiple Sclerosis/ALS/Motor Neuron Disease
- Cerebral Palsy
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-Series
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