ATFAQ033 – Newbie to AT Questions

first_imgWADE WINGLER: Information provided on Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions does not constitute a product endorsement. Our comments are not intended as recommendations, nor is our show evaluative in nature. Assistive Technology FAQ is hosted by Brian Norton; gets editorial support from mark steward and Belva Smith; is produced by me, Wade Wingler; and receives support from Easter Seals Crossroads and the INDATA project. ATFAQ is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more of our shows at As we need them to be because when we are dealing with our folks that are using assistive technology, they are only have so many other barriers that they are trying to overcome. The last thing we want to do is make the computer harder to use rather than easier to use.WADE WINGLER: Just to echo what you said, it takes a lot of research and software development to make these kinds of apps. They are not selling 1 million copies of them due to the nature of the audience and the market they are trying to address. There are fewer people who are going to buy these things as opposed to buying a spreadsheet program that everybody needs. If you take a screen reader that works with braille, because the person uses braille exclusively, which is a very small market that they are trying to sell these things to. They are trying to spread that cost the research and marketing and tech support over a smaller customer base. At the just boils down to basic supply and demand economics.BELVA SMITH: I think they have smaller – what I want to call them? Work groups as well. Microsoft has a bazillion people working on their products. Apple has a bazillion people working on a product. For example, freedom scientific has got a very small group. When I say small, probably less than, I’m going to get 100 people, working on their product. I think that might have a lot to do with it as well.BRIAN NORTON: Let’s say everything you said was good, and to reiterate the tech support part because I’m sure anybody in this room spent at least a good few hours a week on the phone with tech support. We all know how important that part is, not just the research development, not just a small amount of people actually using it, but just how tech savvy the tech support has to be. I know of all the places I’ve called, most of the assistive technology manufacturers do have some of the best tech support. If they don’t know the answer, they usually figure it out very quickly. Usually because they’re actually using the assistive technology themselves.WADE WINGLER: I guess the last thing I want to throw in there, just thinking about it from a marketing and business perspective, I think it remains expensive in some sectors because it can. I think about augmentative communication, I think about wheelchairs and powered mobility. Because we have so much healthcare and government funding supplying that kind of thing, if it were up to individual to buy their own, I think the price would be forced down a little bit. And we are starting to see more of that across the board. We are starting to see lower cost, starting to see people who are consumers of healthcare, people with disabilities being responsible for a larger portion of the cost of the technology. That is starting to impact the cost of things a little bit. I’m looking at you, Mark, because you have a history in the motor industry. I’m guessing that wheelchairs could be made less expensively , because many of them I paid for by Medicare and Medicaid, that probably helps keep those prices up just a little bit.MARK STEWART: There are trade-offs. In the industry, from the marketing perspective, there is the talk of what our new technologies that are picked up by Medicare and Medicaid and the pricing structures and things like that. The conversation argument, pushing back a little bit, is that with those prices up, you can have the tech support, you can have the insistence on quality control on research and development and those sorts of things, and there are going to be more people that can get provision. It’s going to be a bleeding edge. Prices come down, so would quality, there would be a lot of people who don’t get product. There would be a lot of people doing iffy business to put people in things that didn’t fit as well because the government is not overseeing it, and things like that. It’s that whole conversation.BRIAN NORTON: You are starting to see the prices change as things become more based and things like that. What may be used to cost $3000 is maybe a $200 app on a $600 iPad, which can really cut down the prices and change some things.BELVA SMITH: That’s a very good point. As the technology develops and grows, then that does help bring the price down on some of the different devices that we call assistive technology on a daily basis.MARK STEWART: You can pat me on the shoulder if you want to, but with all sincerity, Belva and Josh, both of you guys are so talented at being able to absorb and handle the totality of the options out there and come up with creative, cost-effective, simple solutions on the fly. It’s always impressive to me.BELVA SMITH: That’s part of our job to know about the different technologies, but to make sure that as we are coming up with different solutions, that we are keeping costs in mind and making sure that while we are choosing the right piece of technology, they are also choosing something that isn’t overly priced or extremely high in cost. Unless it’s the only solution. If it’s the only solution, then it’s the only solution.MARK STEWART: Can’t you do it with that free app? We are always talking in those terms.***WADE WINGLER: If our conversation has got you thinking about an assistive technology question, email it to us. You can send an email to [email protected] We might include it in an upcoming show. Again, we are talking today about a tea newbie questions, questions that might be asked by folks who are sort of new to the field. The next one is something that you guys have to do with all the time. How does someone go about getting their AT paid for? Who funds assistive technology and how does that work?MARK STEWART: That’s such an important question. Back to the answer in the beginning of the show, those central resources like the assistive technology act who half of their mission is to help with that broad important question would be the first thing. It is ever-changing.BELVA SMITH: I just want to clarify that, because your assistive technology at isn’t going to necessarily going to pay for the assistive technology; however, they’re going to give you the resource or information of who you might contact to be able to provide it. A lot of them have the ability to set you up with a low-cost loan. I know that we do here at crossroads. We have in data. I’ll let Wade talk deeper about that if we need to. They can set an individual up with a low-cost loan. It’s just like anybody else who gets a loan. But your interest rate is going to be lower and they have a lower qualification to qualify for the loan. So if you’ve got, for example, a $3000 device that you need and you have no other funding source, then you would maybe be able to apply for the loan. If you approve, then you would be able to get the device on your own. Vocational rehabilitation is also one of the major funding sources we deal with. Veterans, the VA, is another funding source for individuals we deal with. We do have some private pay individuals, but if an individual comes to us and doesn’t already have a funding source, then our first goal with the individual is to try to help them find a good funding source because assistance did not she can be very expensive, and because you can’t just take most of these devices or software out of the box and use them. Almost all of them require training, and good training, because without the training, you are probably going to take the device out, play with it for five minutes and put it down, because you have no idea how to make it do what you need it to do to help yourself.BRIAN NORTON: Touching on some of the things Belva mentioned, some of it depends on what your goals are. If your goal is to have or maintain employment, to go to school, something like that, vocational rehabilitation might be something to look into. But for something for a job you said, there some times some funding that can even come through work and everything like that. It just depends on the job. There are other programs – if you don’t qualify for those, just local ones in the Knights of Columbus, Rotary club, sometimes they might set aside funds to help folks in the community. There are a lot of different places. It’s just hunting them down and finding them that can be difficult.BELVA SMITH: Thanks for pointing that out, because employers do a lot of funding for the type of stuff. If it’s going to help you do your job better, quicker, a lot of times the employer will be the one that will come through. But they may not be aware of the devices or the need , so you want to make sure that you’re talking to the human resource person. The same thing, if you’re in school, you want to make sure your talking to the disability services to make sure you get all of the information that you can in that you are providing them with the information that they need to be able to help accommodate you.MARK STEWART: Wade, this is a challenge question, but you are the one in the room who is very involved with the assistive technology act. If I were a consumer, and I said, Wade is my clinician, thank you, vocational rehabilitation did everything they can. I understand why that stopped where they stopped. But I have to turn over every stone here, and I have some real needs. What are all of my options? How would you answer that question?WADE WINGLER: I guess I’ll do a clarifying thing and tell you the questions I would ask. The first thing is, when you think about the federally funded AT act projects, the INDATA Project in Indiana and all over the place, they are not funding sources. The AT act programs are specifically prohibited from paying for assistive technology. They aren’t allowed to do that. Some of them do have the low interest bank loan programs and can facilitate an individual or family taking out a loan to buy their own assistive technology, but the AT act projects are really designed to help you find those resources and ask some targeted questions to help figure out, let’s point you in the direction where you can find the technology and perhaps the funding and training and things you need to go along with that. So when I’m asked those questions, I usually start with some questions of my own. The first thing is, what kind of technology is it? What are you going to use it for? Where are you going to use it? And tell me about your background? If I can get those questions answered, I’ll find out things like, I’m looking for a wheelchair ramp for my home that I rent because I’m starting a new job and need to be able to get to work. All of a sudden, I’ve learned a whole lot about the nuance of that person’s situation. What kind of technology are we talking about? It’s not AT per se; it’s going to be built by a contractor. I’m not really squarely in the world of AT alone. I’m talking about a contractor. I know it’s a rental, well that’s probably going to change some of the things that would approach that. I know they’re going to work, so perhaps vocational rehabilitation might be involved in helping them to get out of the house to be able to go to work. If the person were to say something like, I have a service-connected traumatic brain injury and I’m unable to speak verbally anymore, and that’s prohibiting me from going to college, all of a sudden I know a lot about that person. They probably are going to be eligible for some VA benefits, and I’m probably going to encourage them to talk to the Veterans Administration because those funding sources tend to flow a little more quickly and a little more easily than some of the other ones. They also said they are going to college, so I might be looking at the University under the ADA to help pay for some accommodations if they are classroom specific. If it’s just about communication, then I might be looking at their health insurance. If they are on Medicaid, I might be looking to Medicaid for some of those things. Those are some specific examples of, if it is school related, I’m looking to school generally to pay for that; if it is job-related, I’m looking to the employer or vocational rehabilitation to pay for that; if it is medically necessary stuff, then I’m looking to the healthcare system, Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance, Medicaid waiver, those kinds of things. Then you get into the special populations. If they are a veteran, I’m probably going to tap into that first. If they are involved in social clubs, Josh mentioned the Rotary or Lions Club or whatever, I might look at those. I might also ask if they are involved in a church because a lot of times faith-based communities will get behind that kind of thing to help somebody who is a part of their group. What are you doing with it? Where are you going to do it? And what kind of groups do you belong to? Those are the questions that really start to check some boxes for different kinds of assistive technology funding to look for. Most of your AT act projects around the country are very familiar with the federal as well as state and local versions of all of those funding sources and can tell you, yeah, in Indiana they pay for this and it’s a new device every so often and here’s how you go about doing that. Those of the questions I might ask. Then you’re really relying on somebody who is skilled and knows the funding options and who qualifies for what based on those criteria. I rambled cup of those of the questions that I would ask to get to the middle of that.BELVA SMITH: Often, I think that’s the case. When we get asked the question, before we can answer that question, we had to ask a question. It’s not always answering the question, it’s what question do I need before I can answer that.***WADE WINGLER: If you want to connect with us and some questions for the show – quite frankly, if you don’t submit questions, we don’t have a show – head on over to our website. It’s are focusing on newbie questions today, questions that people who are new to the industry might have. Here is an interesting one: why is there not more enforcement for website’s ability? Section 508 has the Web content accessibility guidelines. There are a lot of folks who have websites, but we are still missing the enforcement of website accessibility. Why is that?BELVA SMITH: I think the Internet itself is just really hard to police. I don’t even know how that could even happen. Do you just have one person who does nothing but – obviously it couldn’t be just one person.WADE WINGLER: Superman.BELVA SMITH: I don’t know.WADE WINGLER: One of the things I struggle with is that this is a US law. Section 508 is really a US law. The ADA is US law. Websites are, by nature, worldwide. It has to be a US website we’re talking about before you can even police it.BRIAN NORTON: Who pleases it is next question. Who is responsible for that?WADE WINGLER: The World Wide Web Consortium who makes the rule for how the web works and creates the guidelines for accessibility is a worldwide group. They have representation from all over, so they all agree that each country thinks these accessibility guidelines are a good thing. But enforcement is a different kettle of fish.BELVA SMITH: I think even just the definition of an accessible page. It can change. What is accessible for one person is not necessarily what is accessible for another person. How do we define accessible?MARK STEWART: Let’s not forget the people with disabilities have been considered to have a lesser voice and be a minority group. They may just need to advocate and make sure they are heard and get what they deserve by law.WADE WINGLER: How does enforcement happen? When it does happen, how does that happen? It’s lawsuits. Target is a retailer that was famous in the news a few years ago because national Federation of the blind filed a lawsuit against them because their website wasn’t made accessible. I want to say it was from MIT, but a major university not long ago was sued because their websites went accessible to students, who I believe were taking advantage of online learning kind of stuff. Website accessibility is enforced much like the ADA. There is no police that come around and say, the ramps aren’t ADA compatible. You might have a city person enforcing a city ordinance that echoes the ADA, but these are complaint based legislation. Although there are guidelines for ramps and there are guidelines for setting up accessibility of websites, it’s all based on somebody filing a lawsuit, and then there being a penalty coming out of the court to make that happen.BELVA SMITH: Josh, you are currently working with a consumer that I worked with a couple of years ago. One of the things that we were trying to do was access to a bank website that was fully not accessible. We make that phone call to the bank to say, did you realize that your website is not accessible? They of course that they were going to pass it on the way. But we kind of stopped at that point, because it’s like, what do you do at that point? Do just keep calling the bank every week to say I still can’t access the website because of the accessible?BRIAN NORTON: There are actually instructions on the website on how to use it with screen readers and things like that? Which don’t completely work.BELVA SMITH: But that’s a step forward. So maybe that phone call did help.BRIAN NORTON: Your phone call just might have done it. But at least they are aware and at least addressing — whether they actually get it to complete the work as a whole another story – but at least they are trying. I’m sure there are some challenges with banks and things that that with security and everything else to try to make sure that information is embedded behind there as well. That presents some different challenges that are well above my head.MARK STEWART: I’m thinking about Wade getting to it saying how lawsuits work. I agree, but I guess in a wishful thinking kind of way. I was kind of hoping from a cultural standpoint, people in the IT field – information technology, and now we are talking about assistive technology and the whole history of revenge of the nerds phenomenon and how people that work with computers and things like that are not these perfect comic book figures anyway, nor do they want to be, and are proud not to be. They know what oppression can be like in being a minority can be like. So they are more aware and keep an eye out in our brilliant people, so they are ready to help groups like this more from a universal design standpoint. Isn’t that somewhat true, Wade? If they are not someone who is lawsuit directed who is trying to make the web more accessible to more people?WADE WINGLER: I think that you can get things like website accessibility to happen in a couple different ways. We talked about carrots and sticks. You can dangle a carrot and get somebody to do something because a bank is going to get more customers. You say, the US population is aging, they are dealing with vision and hearing and memory problems. If you make your stuff more accessible, as the baby boomers lose their vision and the ability to navigate your online banking system, you are going to retain customers or maybe get customers. Maybe that’s even a business differentiator that a business could do. We are going to drop some money on making our website more accessible to people who are aging to get more customers. That would be a carrot model. But people have traditionally responded to the stick model more. If you don’t make it accessible, then we are going to sue you and it’s going to cost you money in fines. There is psychology research that people will spend a lot more energy avoiding pain than they will seeking pleasure. I think that works in this context as well. The problem is there aren’t web accessibility cops. It takes somebody who is aware and filed a lawsuit on behalf of a person with a disability, or they are a person with a disability who uses assistive technology and says Mister company, I can’t use your website because you didn’t build in accessibility, and that is discriminatory. The ADA or Section 508 says that your website, just like your brick-and-mortar store, has to be accessible to me. In the end, I think it’s a combination of carrots and sticks. I think you try to educate people and say you’re going to get more customers and people are going to have a better experience and like you better and spend more money with your business if you make it accessible. If you don’t, you could be sued.MARK STEWART: I was hoping there could be more –WADE WINGLER: You’re looking for the altruistic, Kum Ba Yah, make your website accessible?BRIAN NORTON: So carrot sticks is the answer? Okay.MARK STEWART: Excessively brilliant IT person with a cousin who has a disability who says, I’m just going to make my website at this bank accessible?WADE WINGLER: But when you’re fighting against the deadlines against all the stuff you have to get done, and this list of stuff –MARK STEWART: I’m not saying I’m right.WADE WINGLER: It’s tough. It really is.BRIAN NORTON: Belva has probably run into this just working with people with screen readers and things like that. Things like Facebook might work really great at one point, then it updates and changes its whole look, changes the whole the way it works, and suddenly it doesn’t work with that screen reader. Or it works completely different with that screen reader, so it’s almost like you have to retrain yourself to even have it accessible. While they may be trying to make it accessible, they may not know enough about the software that is helping that individual in order to make it as visible as it needs to be.BELVA SMITH: Again, when the website or the web developers do make certain changes that they feel, okay, great, now we are fully accessible, it’s again targeted may be to just that one software. I hate to say it’s, but Wade mentioned target. Target may work great with a screen reader right now, but if you try to use it with a screen magnifier, not so good.BRIAN NORTON: Or even a text-to-speech program that’s not a screen reader.BELVA SMITH: Exactly. Again, what is that definition of an accessible website?WADE WINGLER: I think you had to go to the standards. You have to look at the WCAG standards because those are the ones that the international group has agreed upon. In the absence of making it perfect for everybody, you have to go for the standards. Mark, one of the things I want to loop back on, you are looking for the IT nerd who is altruistic and has a cousin with a disability and want to do it because it’s the right thing to do. The closest thing I know that gets to that is a group called the IAAP. It’s newly formed. It’s the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. ATIA from our industry has been very involved with it. I interviewed the CEO on assistive technology update not long ago. Their idea is that the best way, or one of the ways to make the World Wide Web more accessible is to educate the programmers on accessibility. It’s usually not “I don’t care; I don’t want to”. It’s usually “I don’t even know what you’re talking about, Mr. Screen Reader User”. How do we make that happen? The IAAP is doing a couple of things. They are establishing training program so that if you are a web developer or application developer, you can go and get some training on how to make it accessible based on the WCAG standards. The next thing they are doing is trying to publicize the importance of web accessibility and application accessibility and usability so that people understand more about it. But the thing they did I thought was pretty brilliant as they are working with major technology employers to include this as part of the job postings that are out there. For example, they are working with — I think Microsoft is one of them. When Microsoft post a job position available for a web programmer, they might say “Web accessibility strongly preferred” as one of the qualifications of somebody who is going to go there. So they are trying to get the employers to include that as a strongly preferred or even required. They are also working on a certification, so if you are a programmer, you could be a programmer who is certified and website accessibility. So they are doing a good job of working on those issues. It’s not that nobody is doing it. It’s in its infancy and it’s been in the last year, year and a half since this initiative happened.BELVA SMITH: Wade, what is the name of the – was it Bobby, the tool you could use to find out if your website was accessible, just if you have a website and you are curious how accessible it is?WADE WINGLER: Bobby I think is an old one that has gone out of style now. There are a number of automated tools that are out there. The ones that use the most these days is Wave from WebAim. It’s a website that you can go to, I think, or it’s a downloadable Firefox toolbar that you can plug into your web browser and it will run the WCAG standards across the website and give you some feedback. It’s not the litmus test as to whether or not your website is a simple but gives you some pretty good information on that.MARK STEWART: It’s probably going to vary, but there are probably some good arguments about the universal design is better for all. For example, the homepage for Google is very simple. I’m thinking about it is very clear and non-messy and I can help a number of people with disabilities. But is it nice for everybody?WADE WINGLER: That’s why I started using Google years ago before it was popular.BELVA SMITH: I think that’s why we all start using it.WADE WINGLER: It just wasn’t cluttered. It was easy.BELVA SMITH: It loads quick because there is not a bunch of stuff that’s going to load with it.***WADE WINGLER: And now it’s time for the wildcard question.So seriously, we love to hear from you. We like to hear your voice on our show in addition to our voices, and that’s how we get our questions. Give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124. This is the wildcard question, my favorite part of the show because it’s where I get to surprise everybody and say here is a question you didn’t expect and see if they can answer it. It’s a lot of fun. I think this is a softball. As AT professionals, people who deal with assistive technology, trying to manage all this information, I tried to managers the people you provide services to that take the form of appointments and billing and reports and documentation and communication and all this kind of stuff, how does a new AT person keep track of all the stuff? What kind of tools, not AT tools, what kind of tools do you guys use to keep track of all of this busyness that have to do with being a professional in the field of AT? Is it email, calendars? You guys know that I am a GTD junkie. I like getting things done in the methodology that David Allen does. That’s kind of what I use. Think about this from the perspective of someone who is new. Maybe they are a fresh graduate out of college, this is their first professional job, and they are in the field of AT. How do you keep track of all this stuff?BELVA SMITH: For me, it’s my iPhone. That’s where all my contact information is, that’s for all of my appointments are, that’s where I can go back and see what it was I did last week because I was so busy this week that I forgot what I did last week.WADE WINGLER: Which is why you tried to break your iPhone as we hit the record button.BELVA SMITH: Exactly. Seriously, if my day started and I didn’t have my phone in hand, I would be lost. I need my computer to do my reporting and billing and that kind of thing , to get through my day, to get through my work week, I really need my phone.WADE WINGLER: What on your phone? Because it’s not just the phone itself. You are using some apps, right?BELVA SMITH: I’m using the standard mail app and calendar app. I’m not really using the Outlook. I tried that. I like it. I’ve tried a couple of different things and I keep coming back to the standard calendar and mail apps. Calendar, mail, in my phone.WADE WINGLER: For us, that means you using Microsoft exchange. You are using Outlook and using your phone to access that stuff.MARK STEWART: For me, I’m heavy on Outlook for organization. I’ve also got some lists and other references within my Outlook calendar that can move along with me. But then I also have some things on the side like information about certain types of technology and what have you. I think intentionally, it’s kind of a cross referenced approach so that I kind of try to have a meshwork of research approaches to stay current so there aren’t that many holes in it. But then that can be a challenge to kind of manage. There is a thoroughness to it. Certainly I try to have some silos. I find certain things that really help in a significant way, a certain type of technology that helps certain types of things, and then I just want to make sure I’m current with the technology. Again, I want to be careful not to be too siloed because, as we all know, it’s amazing not just investments within certain silos of technology but just absolutely brand-new approaches come up all the time. So there is that fresh, current research on the web. Belva, one of the things you are talking about, I think referring to your phone, with that you can go online right away. You can watch YouTube videos, do anything on the spot to double check yourself, to stay current as of almost literally that minute or hour as far as what’s going on with certain options to help somebody.BELVA SMITH: Mark, I made the one of the question at you. How do you prioritize your phone and your computer? Which is number one? I think I know the answer. I just want to see if I’m right.MARK STEWART: As far as usage? It’s email.BELVA SMITH: No, which device is more important to you? Your computer or your phone?MARK STEWART: My phone. We were talking about this some months ago and I’m not sure what my answer was.WADE WINGLER: It was a wildcard question not long ago.BELVA SMITH: I thought it was going to be your computer. I really thought it was going to be your computer.MARK STEWART: It’s my phone now.BRIAN NORTON: I use a little bit of the same things. Kind of an organized chaos of a lot of different stuff. Kind of like Belva, I use the calendar but I use it on my computer as much is on my phone. I used to use a lot of the tools in Outlook a lot more , definitely went back to the paper and then. I having a book in a keep lists of consumers I need to contact, new consumers, reports I need to write, authorizations I need and keep all these in different columns and even take little notes by it. Once that gets too full, I tear it out and say what’s needed and keep it on the next page.WADE WINGLER: Tell me, why have you regressed?BRIAN NORTON: It’s easy. I can pull it out at a glance. It never goes dead. I don’t have to worry about charging it ever. Kind of along with getting things done, I can look and see what can be done really quickly. When I get a few extra spare minutes, when I show up to meeting five minutes early and can make a phone call or can put something in billing or do something like that, I can do it very quickly without waiting for that to load somewhere and then having to get into something else. It’s a measure of everything.WADE WINGLER: You are known here for being more stylish than many people. Does this involve moleskin notebooks for you?BRIAN NORTON: Actually, it’s one I got from one of my wife’s conferences, so it has a different organization’s name on it that I continually get in trouble for.WADE WINGLER: Excellent. It’s clear that anybody who is new to the field is going to have these newbie questions, is going to have to keep track of their information and their appointments and all that kind of stuff. Thanks for the hints and pointers about keeping track of all that.That’s going to be a rep for this week show. We got through a lot of information, a lot of newbie stuff. Brian Norton, please get back here because we are used to having you in the studio on the show and miss you when you are gone. Josh, thank you for stepping in and being part of our panel today.BRIAN NORTON: Thank you. It was awesome.WADE WINGLER: Mark, thanks for being with us.MARK STEWART: You bet. Thank you. Thanks, Josh, for coming in.WADE WINGLER: Belva, thank you.BELVA SMITH: Thanks everybody, it was great. Send us your comments too, not just your questions.WADE WINGLER: The ways to do that is to hit up on our listener line at 317-721-7124. Send us an email over at [email protected] Or send us a tweet into the twitter sphere at hashtag ATFAQ. We would love to have your questions as well as feedback. As we said before, without your questions, we don’t really have a show. Thanks.WADE WINGLER: Information provided on Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions does not constitute a product endorsement. Our comments are not intended as recommendations, nor is our show evaluative in nature. Assistive Technology FAQ is hosted by Brian Norton; gets editorial support from Mark Stewart and Belva Smith; is produced by me, Wade Wingler; and receives support from Easter Seals Crossroads and the INDATA project. ATFAQ is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more of our shows at this…TwitterFacebookPinterestLinkedInEmailPrint RelatedATU300 – Episode 300! – Tobii Dynavox with Kelsey ReynoldsFebruary 24, 2017In “Assistive Technology Update”What’s That You Hear? Podcasting with INDATASeptember 28, 2016In “Communication”ATU200 – Wade Wingler is interviewed by Danny Wayne in This Special Celebration of 200 Episodes of Assistive Technology UpdateMarch 27, 2015In “Assistive Technology Update” Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadATFAQ033-07-04-16 – Newby to AT QuestionsShow notes:Panel: Brian Norton (on Vacation), Mark Stewart, Belva Smith, Wade Wingler, and Josh AndersonQ1 What are the best resources for someone who is new to the AT field (websites, videos, etc.)?Q2 What are good ways to stay updated about the newest advancements in AT such as research or products? Are there any scientific journals to follow that focus on AT?Q3 Why are certain assistive technologies so expensive? Examples are screenreader, video magnifiers, etc.Q4 How does someone go about getting their assistive technology paid for?Q5 Why is there not more enforcement for the compliance to section 508 and website accessibility?Q6 What is the learning curve? The field of AT is so big how does someone start wrapping their mind around it all?Q7 Wildcard – How do you keep track of it all? What tools and techniques do you use to keep track of communication, appointments, and tasks?——-transcript follows ——WADE WINGLER: Welcome to ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions with your host Brian Norton, Director of Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads. This is a show in which we address your questions about assistive technology, the hardware, software, tools and gadgets that help people with disabilities lead more independent and fulfilling lives. Have a question you’d like answered on our show? Send a tweet with the hashtag #ATFAQ, call our listener line at 317-721-7124, or send us an email at [email protected] The world of assistive technology has questions, and we have answers. And now here’s your host, Brian Norton.WADE WINGLER: Hey, everybody, and welcome to episode number 33 of ATFAQ, assistive technology frequently asked questions. No, the intro line I am not Brian Norton. I’m Wade Wingler. I’ve been here at Easter Seals crossroads for a long time and host assistive technology update. Brian is gone. He’s on vacation at with his family this week and enjoying some time away from the office, and said Wade, why don’t you fill in for me while I’m out. Go ahead and record the show. I said sure. I wasn’t thinking. I thought that’s no big deal. Then I got in here and realized I actually have to use something. So we are changing our format – not our format, but we are changing our cat a little bit today for the show. We’re going to take a little bit of an interesting angle on the show. Before we do that, I should introduce who is on our panel today. Belva Smith who is all about the vision impairment related technology and all things blindness. Belva, how are you today?BELVA SMITH: I’m good, Wade. How are you?WADE WINGLER: I think I’m going to be okay. Mark Stewart who knows a lot about everything and can tell you about it has to do with it learning disabilities or mobility challenges or even things like kinesiology. That’s right up Mike’s alley. He gave me this look like why are you droning on about that. Mark, just say hi so I’ll stop.MARK STEWART: Why are you telling lies? Hi everybody.WADE WINGLER: Here in Brian’s chair keeping it warm, making me nervous, is Josh Anderson who is the coordinator of clinical assistive technology and one of the most recent ATP certified people in the nation. Josh, how are you?BRIAN NORTON: Doing great. Thanks.WADE WINGLER: Congratulations by the way. Study time is over. You can relax a little bit.BRIAN NORTON: Thank goodness.WADE WINGLER: You are in that limbo right now where you’ve gotten the unofficial word that your ATP credential but you are were waiting on a certificate in the mail or something, right?BRIAN NORTON: Yep. Talk about deserving. That would be good for the profession.WADE WINGLER: Exactly. And you are actually one of three folks on our staff who have reach that milestone in the last couple of weeks. It’s been all ATP prep all the time for the past months around here.BRIAN NORTON: Finally get back to work.WADE WINGLER: There you go. No kidding. We were beginning to wonder when that might happen. We are excited to have you guys here. For people who are new to the show, please don’t make the show the one that you hold up as the gold standard for how we do things, because Brian Norton is typically our host and is a much smoother job than I do. He’s much more focused about actually getting questions answered. But that’s kind of how our show works. We get questions from all over about assistive technology. We get them through tweets and through our listener line and we have people email us. Even today, you guys don’t know this, we had somebody stop in the lobby with a question and I went on with a recorder and snap it. Will drop it into a future episode. But we rely on a feedback and questions from our audience so you have something to talk about. If you would like to be part of the show, there are a couple of ways to do that. The first and maybe best wanted to call our listener line. It’s a voicemail box to call in the voicemail. That number is 317-721-7124. It has an outgoing message, says beep just like every other voicemail, and the leader question and we can then drop that into the studio here and answer it. Another way to do that if the voicemail listener line doesn’t work well for you is to send an email. That email addresses [email protected] Send us an email. We will read your question. Another one is to use twitter. Our twitter handle is at INDATA Project, but you can Tweet anytime and just use the hashtag ATFAQ. We monitor for that so we are going to get your questions. We need to have those questions because frankly if you don’t ask questions, we don’t have a show. So you’re only listening but if you want to know other ways to listen to our show, you can find us on iTunes, you can find us on, you can also find us on stitcher radio or Easter Seals There’s a lot of different ways to listen to our show and we encourage you to do that. Also share it with her clients if you think others who you know might benefit from this question and answer format show. Tell them about it. Help us girl the audience.Okay, guys, there is enough of an intro. Because Brian is gone this week, he gathered up some questions for us and he called them the newbie questions. We have a number of people who work here at Easter Seals crossroads and people who are new to the field of assistive technology all the time. We wanted to address some of the questions that might be common among people who are new to the industry. Frankly, I think he was trying to destroy softball question or maybe the harder than we think and he tricking us by thinking that we have easy questions to answer, but maybe they’re not. Anyway, these questions are all about new questions that people who are new to assistive technology might ask.***WADE WINGLER: Our first question for the show is what are the best resources for somebody who is new to the field of assistive technology? Are there websites, videos? Where do people go to learn about assistive technology? Will have to do the obligatory plug-fest where we talk about our own stuff. Seriously, where should somebody who is new go to learn about assistive technology?MARK STEWART: I’ll take it off. A little bit challenged and amazed kind of way how we had a worldwide audience. Obviously we are here in the United States, that’s what I can speak to the best. We have the INDATA Project, the assistive technology act project, here at Easter Seals side-by-side with the clinical project and clinical team. I’m on the clinical team. Maybe I’m a little biased, but I have to say that each state assistive technology act project, I think with each year, is growing as a premier resource for all these topics. Even if it’s not going to be ultimately the way you go, that really is their mission. There are local as well as federal funding resources, and the mission all has to do with assistive technology outreach and of course, Wade, you have and do oversee the project specifically. I just want to mention that from my perspective because I’m not specifically on that team. Wade can certainly talk about it more technically. I just become more convinced that this is a great resource. Another thing is, I think, as each month goes by, we have to just simply refer people to the Internet and YouTube videos and keyword searches like assistive technology. We can’t hold that all within ourselves. The information is out there.WADE WINGLER: It really is. A quick follow-up on your comment about the AT act projects. Those are people who are paid with federal dollars to stay on top of the AT interested in what’s happening. A lot of them happen to be housed in university settings. We are not here in Indiana, but a lot of them are, so a lot of times you will find that there are resources who are either house next door to the AT act project or maybe employees of the AT act project during primary research on assistive technology. So if you take kind of the aggregate of all those groups and throw them together, you got a really powerful source of information. And to your point, when you talk about the Internet, Google searches, YouTube sausage, interest even, LinkedIn groups about assistive technology, Facebook groups about assistive technology. It’s really hard to hit any of the social media platforms with some keywords about disability and technology and not find good stuff. I think you have to be more discerning than you might have years ago because anybody can put up information whether or not it’s valid or vetted, but there is just so much good stuff out there.BRIAN NORTON: RESNA also. You can look them up. There’s a lot of good information, journals, not just because I just passed the ATP. I don’t want to drop their name but they are also a pretty good resource.WADE WINGLER: That’s a great point. There are professional associations. Resin is one of them. ATIA is another one. As you think about, even with in other disciplines within the physical therapy and occupational therapy and speech therapy associations, they have special interest groups related to assistive technology. The special education groups have special interest groups about assistive technology. They have conferences also. Years ago, we use to hit one of the major AT conferences every year, either closing the gap or RESNA or ATIA or cease on out of California State University. I don’t find is doing that as often, one because travel is inspected, and to I think we can find information a lot of different ways. Those are great places I think for a newbie to get started.MARK STEWART: I think we’re going to have a couple questions along these lines. Let’s keep that universal design theme in there. We are always trying to pull that along as the years pass. Assistive technology, we are simply talking about technology annotations and creative approaches to help people with disabilities compete and or get ahead. That could be regular stuff or it could be specialized stuff. Don’t forget to just search for answers to the problem. It may not actually be a keyword search specifically, assistive technology, it might be computer science, it might be computers. The one I want to twist this question a little bit. Belva, did I interrupt you?BELVA SMITH: No.WADE WINGLER: I want to twist this question a little bit. I want each of us to say how long you’ve been working in the field of assistive technology and how did you learn differently back then. Because I think for many of us it was a Google search. I’ve been in the field for 22 years. Josh, you are your than that.BRIAN NORTON: About 2 1/2 years.WADE WINGLER: But have been in the disability world longer than that?BRIAN NORTON: About five years.WADE WINGLER: Mark?MARK STEWART: Eight years and assistive technology disability world.WADE WINGLER: Belva?BELVA SMITH: About 15.WADE WINGLER: When you guys were learning about assistive technology, you can just Google it probably. How did you learn?BELVA SMITH: I did user groups and the manufacturers of the different devices and software.WADE WINGLER: User groups like online user groups or face to face at the library user groups?BELVA SMITH: Online user groups.WADE WINGLER: On CompuServe or America Online? Bulletin boards?MARK STEWART: Belva, I hope I’m not putting you on the spot. I’ve always been interested in your story about getting into the field. You had a friend who had a substantial disability and you started working really deeply in the trenches with them.BELVA SMITH: I have a friend, actually several now, who are blind. She was always asking me questions about how to do certain things. I was just like, how do you do anything with the computer? Yes, it was through her that my interest was developed and grown with screen readers.MARK STEWART: For me, I would put the twist on sort of the academic textbook and informal trainings. I think to Wade’s question, back in the day kind of all I had access to. You have to wait until some in-house training was there and then you learn some new information.1 Josh?BRIAN NORTON: This is Josh. I started learning about it when I was actually in employment with some of my consumers. They used it and I started learning about it. When I first started here in assistive technology, my number one resource was Brian cell phone. Pretty much called him called him constantly, texted him, emailed him. But also the loan library through in data. I borrowed a ton of stuff, took it home, played with it, learned how to actually use it and really how it was useful in different ways. That was basically the way.WADE WINGLER: For me, it was a lot of one-on-one learning and vendors, having vendors talk to us about their products. A lot of it for me was, okay, here’s the piece of technology that you’re going to be helping somebody with training or setting up or whatever, go. Here’s a manual, go. A lot of times sitting there with the book and the technology sort of in a self discovery process of taking it out and doing it well enough to go out and teach it. I would say that back then, we did rely more on those conferences. When we would go to a conference, you would spend a lot of time in those one-hour sessions learning about how to use a product as opposed to spending more time just with the what’s new side of assistive technology.***WADE WINGLER: Don’t forget, if you have a assistive technology question, we would love to include you in the show. My favorite way for that to happen is to call our listener line. Just pick up the phone and dial 317-721-7124. Leave your message and you can hear your own voice right here on the show.Our next question is sort of related to the other one that we had. What are good ways to stay updated about the new advancements in AT such as research or products? Are there journals that you can follow that focus on AT? How do you learn about product-specific kind of developments in the field of assistive technology?BELVA SMITH: The best way is to stay up-to-date with the manufacturers of whatever the product is. Visit their websites frequently. Speak to the distributors about any new releases that might be coming out. Again, I think it goes back to the same thing we said in question one, the Internet, making sure that you are staying involved with the websites of the manufacturers.WADE WINGLER: Belva, you work in the world of vision impairment most of the time, so you have a handful of vendors that you do with on a regular basis, right?BELVA SMITH: Mhm.WADE WINGLER: And they come here. I just saw one of those guys wondering around here less than an hour ago dropping off some equipment.BELVA SMITH: And we discussed some equipment and new devices that are going to be coming out.WADE WINGLER: Are there other segments of the AT industry where that exists? Where you have a rep you know who is a salesperson selling that stuff? Are there areas where that doesn’t exist in AT?BELVA SMITH: I think there are areas where it doesn’t exist, because a lot of times we have folks that are making things that we use as assistive technology that they don’t even – if not identified necessarily as assistive technology. Mark does a lot with that kind of stuff.WADE WINGLER: So are you talking about ergonomic kind of stuff and marks world? Are there other areas where there is not an assistive technology dealer?BELVA SMITH: I was thinking more like Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I was thinking of pulse pen. Those are things that are just created or developed and marketed as technology devices, not necessarily as assistive technology.MARK STEWART: Mainstream use.WADE WINGLER: I think we run into that with the world of apps. So much assistive technology is an app, but there aren’t that many big app developers where they have a sales channel. There is not summary from Assistiveware who makes Proloquo, coming out and visiting our staff meeting in presenting on the latest version of their app. So I think in a lot of situations, there isn’t a rep who can come around and provide education and training and support like that.BELVA SMITH: I find doing research on apps to be more difficult than doing research on devices or software. I don’t know if I’m going about it backwards or what, but for me, the best research that I could do with the apps is just to speak to people that have used it. Because if I try to Google it and find out is this a good app and what it does and doesn’t do, I don’t always like the results that come up with.BRIAN NORTON: You don’t always get good feedback. I use AppleVis sometimes, but that’s mostly just for vision apps. With the learning apps and things like that, you have to either download the free version, try it out and see how it works, or try to talk to someone who has actually used it.WADE WINGLER: I find myself relying on the reviews a whole lot so that you can get feedback from people who have supposedly at least use it. I know that there are a lot of people who write their own reviews or have friends write reviews for them, but if you get more than a handful of reviews on a particular app, I feel like you get a pretty good handle on whether it’s decent or not.MARK STEWART: I’m going to take a stab at answering this question with regards to research, with a capital R as it were. I think there is a pretty strong culture in assistive technology that kind of follows along IT type trends over the last couple decades as well, which is a little bit more unhampered, unrestricted, unshackled, albeit a little bit wild West. Let’s be fast, let’s make changes, let’s go, go, go. If we fall back a little bit, and we can handle it. Let’s move forward. Assistive technology, as I was saying or considering, kind of has followed suit with that, especially in computer access technology, because of the high tech connection to that world. We say, wow, yeah, we need advancements really fast to help people with disabilities. We are going to fly as well. It’s interesting though, because we are talking about people with disabilities and there is of course the whole continuum of safety issues and those things related to it. There is that need for that foundational, very accurate, very careful, albeit – what’s the word? Prodding, plodding along, objective research to justify all of this and ultimately to help stabilize funding and things like that. I think a nice balance would be wonderful. I would hate to slow everything down so much that it all becomes about university-based research. But when you talk about, okay, what kind of university or professional journal articles are out there that you can refer to, or what research studies can you refer to to prove how a lot of the stuff works. But still quite lacking.WADE WINGLER: I think the field of assistive technology has always been responsive to the field of information technology, because so much of what we do is computer-based, and that in general is speeding up. It’s all about how fast can you repay your venture capital investments and how fast can you make your stuff work with social media and these other platforms that are changing so rapidly. I think you are right. There is this weird situation where the product it move very quickly and keep up with mainstream IT, but so much of the research available in the field of assistive technology is university and federally funded that requires grants and things that move much more slowly. I think it’s an interesting time in the history of assistive technology. I remember when you didn’t get new versions of assistive technology every six months or every year or more quickly than that. You might not get a new version of a screen reader for three or four years. When windows happened, the pace picked up a little bit because he got a new version of Windows every couple of years or so. Now that things are so web-based, it has to change all the time. You find your web-based apps updating every night or overnight, and you are starting to see your assistance technology do that stuff also.MARK STEWART: Isn’t it wonderful that research doesn’t mean just research with a R as it were. The academic, you are not allowed to research unless you have – no, it means that people who are talented, intelligent, and passionate can be part of the picture and research and Google and financer themselves and use their intelligence to help the person down the street. That’s needed as well.WADE WINGLER: I think in the past you had to be responsive to — did your research numbers pan out the way you expected? Now you have to be responsive to the market. Do people buy your stuff? Does it work and do people buy your stuff and can you stay in business? More so than did your research number and your P-value sure of the way you wanted it.***WADE WINGLER: Just a reminder that if you want to ask a question, one of the easy ways to do that is to tweet. Use the hashtag ATFAQ anywhere on twitter. We look catch it and put your question on the show. Our next question is a little more tactical, I think. Why are certain assistive technologies so expensive? Why do screen readers and video magnifiers and maybe traditional augmentative communication devices, why do those things have to cost so much?BELVA SMITH: Because of research and tech support and also because they are not made for every computer. They’re made for a small audience or group of users, I should say. So a good example would be why does a screen reader cost so much when Microsoft office is like a third of the cost. Nine out of 10 computers are going to have a version of Microsoft office whether it’s Windows or Mac. Same 10 computers, you may only have two that have the screen reader, one or two. Josh told me smaller so I went to one. That’s one reason. Just the amount of research that has to go into the products. We hope and cross our fingers that our vendors are doing good research and releasing products that are as reliablelast_img

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