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How to use the iPad as an Assistive Technology device

Recently our accessibility team was approached by the Queensland-Government-funded Community Care Smart AT Collaborative with a request to present some webinars on assistive technology use with Apple devices.

Check out the Community Care Smart AT Collaborative’s portal which is designed as a place for training, information-sharing and collaboration on smart assistive technology and is open for anyone interested to register and use.

Please find below the two webinars presented so far.

The iPad: A Powerful Smart Assistive Technology

 

The iPad: How this Device can Assist Individuals with Vision Impairment

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Eye gaze on Mac or iPad?

What is eye gaze?iris_-_left_eye_of_a_girl

Eye gaze technology is a method of communication which uses tracking of eye movements.  It is typically used by people whose other physical motor skills are not reliable, i.e. they’re unable to speak intelligibly or use hand or switch control to operate a communication device. It can also be called gaze interaction, gaze-based assistive technology or eye control

How does it work?

The user learns skills such as using their eyes to scan through options on the screen and dwell on a chosen word or symbol.  A special camera tracks these movements and moves or selects accordingly.

The two common ways an eye gaze system is set up are:

What does it cost?

Prices vary.  An eye tracking camera and software paired with a mainstream tablet or computer could cost around $5000 whereas one of the dedicated SGDs with added camera and software may be more in the $20 000 range. Both of the set ups have pros and cons.

Can eye gaze technology run on a Mac?

Yes

A user with a Mac running Parallels or Boot Camp can access Windows programs but only the Windows progams.

No

At this point in time, none of the eye gaze software programs are compatible with MacOS.

Maybe

The latest version of Mac’s operating system, MacOS Sierra, includes the option of enabling Dwell Control.  When the Mac is paired with eye gaze hardware, the user can perform mouse actions such as right click and left click, drag and drop and scroll.

A promising new product is the Eye Tribe Tracker which claims to be compatible with MacOS Sierra. Watch this space for updates.

Can eye gaze technology run on an iPad?

Not at this point in time but we can hope.

How can we help?

If you are looking for an eye gaze system, do some research, decide what’s going to work the best for you and get in touch.

We can offer consultancy, set up and installation and after sales service on your device.  We can also source devices for you.

Useful links:

Information from Apple on Dwell Control

https://support.apple.com/kb/PH25153?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s helpful guide to eye gaze

https://www.cerebralpalsy.org.au/about-cerebral-palsy/interventions-and-therapies/eye-gaze-technology-for-children-and-adults-with-cerebral-palsy/#1473737854053-0ad0e066-5c07

Zyteq – Melbourne based eye gaze technology specialist

www.zyteq.com.au

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What does an accessibility consultant do?

Thinking of requesting a consultation? Here are some things that might help you to know what to expect.

people-woman-coffee-meeting

  1. Our consultants’ goal is to assist you in finding some solutions involving assistive technology to help you do the things you want to do in your life, whether that’s communicate with others, live independently, thrive at school or at work, travel, play sport etc. etc.
  2. Our consultants are available to travel to your home, school and/or workplace in the south east Queensland area.
  3. All our consultants have done training through Apple and other providers about technology and accessibility.
  4. All our consultants hold Blue Cards and have undergone criminal checks.
  5. We have male and female consultants available because some people have a preference about who they feel comfortable sharing details of their lives with.
  6. Our consultants do not operate on a commission, so there is no financial advantage for them in trying to sell products to you.
  7. A consultancy session normally takes about 45 minutes to an hour.  There is a base charge of $110 and then $1.75/minute or $104/hour.
  8. The consultant will run through an assessment process with you and a carer/loved one if you would like someone else to be present, gathering information on your goals, strengths and challenges and the contexts in which you want to use your devices.
  9. The consultant will make some initial suggestions, show you some images and explain some of the technologies which may be appropriate.
  10. After the session, the consultant will email his/her recommendations with full costing, including costing for installation, set up and ongoing support. There is no obligation for you to proceed with this quote.
  11. All our consultants are friendly and understanding!

Please email accessibility@macandpcdoctors.com.au or call 07 3892 2227 to arrange a consultation or make any other accessibility inquiries.

 

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How to find good apps

Questions about finding apps

  1. Is a free app any good? There are some great free apps in the App Store so if you come across one that sounds good, go ahead and install it. If it turns out that you don’t like it, you haven’t lost anything.3952984450_953c33c096_m
  2. Is it worth paying for apps? Often to get something of good quality, you do need to pay for it. App developers make a living by selling their creations and when they are a sole operator or small company they need to charge in order to cover their costs.  If an app is targeted at a niche market, then fewer people are likely to buy it and the developer will not recoup money quickly.  As a general rule, this is why popular apps are cheap and less commonly used apps are expensive.
  3. How can I find things in the App Store? I don’t know what to search for! If you search for something like “spelling”, you will get thousands of results. Some of these apps will not be anything like what you want.  The good ones will be hidden among the thousands and it will be like looking for a needle in a haystack! There are two ways to get better results.

Ways to find good apps

  • Do an internet search, making it as specific as you can, e.g. “best spelling apps for 7 year olds”. Refine the results in the search engine’s filter so you get recent results.  Browse through a few of the results and find some apps which other people have reviewed favourably and that sound like they fit your criteria. Remember that many apps are made for an American audience so think about whether they will suit your context.
  • Go to the App Store, scroll down to Categories, choose the category you are interested in and look at the featured apps. These categories have been curated by Apple which means that someone looks at new apps and decides whether they are worth recommending.
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    Scroll down from the top of the page until you                            find the categories.

    Photo credit: Helga Weber via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/helga/3952984450

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What can Siri do?

Can Siri answer the phone for me?

This is a question that many people ask.  Unfortunately Siri cannot answer incoming calls.  Maybe in future idevice releases or future iOS upgrades it will be possible.  For the meantime, one workaround is to let the call go to voicemail, then ask Siri to play the message to you or return the missed call.3

More things Siri can do for you

Siri can:

  • Read your notifications
  • Tell you where family member or friends are, provided you all have “Find Friends” turned on. This raises privacy and security concerns so think carefully about whether you turn it on.  If you want to you’ll find it under Privacy – Location Services.

There is a huge list of Siri commands at this website.  The article was written before the release of iOS 10 so some information is no longer applicable but the list of commands is still worth reading.

Using Siri with Apple apps

In Calendar, you can ask Siri to schedule or reschedule meetings or events, give you details of already scheduled events.

In Reminders, you can ask Siri to remind you to go to the supermarket, call my spouse at 8pm, text Mum when I get home.

In Notes, you can ask Siri to create and find notes.

In Clock, you can ask Siri what the time and/or date is where you are or somewhere else, to set or turn off an alarm (one off or repeating), set a timer.

In Maps, you can ask Siri for directions.3134331944_f86a0ace8d_z

Using Siri with the internet

  • Ask Siri for restaurant reviews, nearby hardware stores, petrol stations or hospitals and then get directions.
  • Ask Siri maths and conversion questions or how to say something in another language.

New app connections in iOS 10

Some third-party apps can now be controlled by Siri.  Some of the popular ones are WhatsApp, Pinterest and LinkedIn.  The list will increase over time.

Don’t like Siri? Try Alex

While Siri does her best to sound natural, sometimes her speech does still sound computer-generated (which of course it is).  Alex is a more natural sounding and powerful voice which, for those who use Siri as their voice, can be very empowering.  Install Alex under Settings – Accessibility – Voices.  Note that you will need quite a  bit of storage available.

Photo credit: Peat Bakke via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/mistermoss/3134331944