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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

 

Doug Lear, MS, CRC - Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor & Assistive Technology Specialist

Doug Lear brings a lot of personal experience and passion to his role as a Assistive Technology Specialist. One of the reasons is that he has had to rely on Assistive Technology (A.T.) himself.

Recovering from a Carpal Tunnel Injury

Twenty years ago, Doug was diagnosed with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, and this injury caused him to become reliant on Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

Doug was fortunate enough to have a full recovery, but he realized that he was more productive using the dictation software, and never went back to traditional keyboarding.

Doug then realized he could combine his two passions of helping people and technology. His work as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and an Assistive Technology Specialist has been very fulfilling as he has been able to enable individuals, with and without disabilities, to be more productive through the use of Assistive Technology.

A Thorough Process for Successful Outcomes

Doug's work with our clients is 'solution focused' to ensure a successful outcome. There is always a thorough "Matching Person to the Technology" (MPT) assessment before solutions are proposed. This evaluation will consider the client's:

This allows Doug to provide specific recommendations to ensure successful implementation of the Assistive Technology.

Then, once the equipment is installed, Doug begins thoroughly training the client so that they will adopt and feel comfortable with the technology. This is the most important part the process and Doug facilitates training in a fun and interactive fashion tailored to the individual's specific goals and learning style. The training and are typically provided remotely using screen sharing programs, but sometimes are done in person as well.

Additionally, training materials are provided to aid the client in becoming proficient with assistive technology.

A Wide Array of Expertise

Training can also be provided for using Livescribe Smart Pens and voice recorders, which can be used to dictate notes, record lectures, and write reports while away from the computer. These recordings can later be transcribed using Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

Doug personally vets audio input devices himself to make the best recommendation possible to the user so they can successfully integrate the best audio device possible based on their needs.

Doug also has experience with the integration of screen readers and other devices for those with visual impairments. Doug is also skilled in training clients to use eye gazer, head-tracking devices, and other alternative pointing devices.

Doug has experience working with individuals with learning disabilities such as:

Doug also has experience training ESL clients to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking as efficiently as native English speakers. Doug has successfully trained users that need to incorporate a telephone/VOIP in conjunction with using Dragon NaturallySpeaking using a technique of "echo dictation."

Furthermore, Doug is skilled in providing recommendations and training for individuals with traumatic brain injuries to offset thecognitive load that may be present when using a computer.

More About Doug's Training and Background

Doug was honorably discharged from the Army in 1993,  and began his studies in Social Work at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU). Upon graduating from PLU in 1996 with a Degree in Social Work, Doug entered the vocational rehabilitation field to provide services to injured workers.

Doug went on to obtain his master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling in 2005 from San Diego State University, focusing his studies on Assistive Technology. While studying at SDSU, Doug was fortunate enough to study under Marcia J. Scherer, Ph.D., who is a leading expert/researcher in the field of Assistive Technology. Doug maintains contact with Dr. Scherer and utilizes the assessment protocols her group developed in his practice, MPT (matching person to technology), assessment techniques developed by Dr. Schere ensure the technology will fit the user.

Doug is a certified Dragon NaturallySpeaking, KnowBrainer, and Tobii Dynomax trainer.  Additionally, Doug has taken RESNA and other Assistive Technology classes to further his assessment and training skills.  Doug completed the Assistive Technology certificate program at the University of Washington, studying under some of the A.T. field's best professors.  Doug is involved in several social media groups related to Assistive Technology to ensure his skills are up to date, providing resources for others, and staying on top of the latest technology trends.

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

Doug and the entire team at Northwest Ergonomics is here to help with your vocational needs. 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.

 

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