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Apple’s Proposed New Disability Emojis.

Apple proposed 13 new emojis to the Unicode Consortium in March in an attempt to expand their emoji’s representation of all people. They have presented emojis featuring accessibility-related instruments such as prosthetic limbs and hearing aids. As well as depicting people who suffer from deafness or troubled hearing, low vision or blindness along with disabilities like PTSD, anxiety and autism. 

Unicode is a not-for-profit organisation that reviews emoji proposals. 

In their proposal, Apple wrote, “At Apple, we believe that technology should be accessible to everyone and should provide an experience that serves individual needs.” They continued by saying, “at Apple, we believe that technology should be accessible to everyone and should provide an experience that serves individual needs. Adding emoji emblematic to users’ life experiences helps foster a diverse culture that is inclusive of disability.”

Apple worked with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, the National Association of the Deaf and the American Council of the Blind to develop these emojis that are being proposed to the Unicode Consortium. 

With only one current disability emoji existing on IOS devices; the wheelchair symbol, it is clear to see why there is a need to introduce more inclusive emojis.

These are just some of the emojis which are being proposed by Apple :  

 

If these emojis are approved by Unicode, they will begin appearing in updates on Apple devices in the second-half of 2019. 

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Can I automate my whole house with Apple HomeKit?

It’s certainly preferable to be able to control all of your accessories through one platform or app. Unfortunately, we in Australia are still waiting for some of the accessories which are already available in the US to be adapted to suit Australian electricity plugs and voltages.

Elgato Eve offers lighting and temperature control products. The Thermo and Light Switch products are not available in Australia.

Air conditioners, blinds, gates and garage doors which are themselves wifi enabled to use with a generic app are also are not yet available here. A way around that would be to plug them in to a switch such as the Eve Energy. It will control any electrical device which is plugged into it.

A product such as this blind from Luxaflex has its own app and apparently Luxaflex in the US have promised HomeKit compatibility this year so that may mean it’s not too far behind for Australia .

SwannOne has a great range of cameras but they use their own app, not HomeKit. D-Link has just brought out a HomeKit compatible camera  but there is only the one model at this stage.

We can recommend and supply Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt which is HomeKit compatible which can be locked and unlocked using either the app, a key or a code.

While the number of HomeKit compatible products is growing all the time, it is still not really possible to get everything on one app. If you can’t wait to start automating your home, maybe you could think about planning ahead to be easily able to change over when new products become available.

We are able to assist you with consultancy services to advise on and set up iOS-controlled automation accessories. We are able to supply Elgato Eve, SwannOne, Schlage and D-Link products. Please find attached a list of the Elgato and SwannOne products. These products and services may be able to be purchased using NDIS funding, depending on what is included in your plan.

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Apps for Autism

April is Autism Awareness Month.  

Many people with autism find assistive technology hugely beneficial for all sorts of purposes. Some people use dedicated speech generating devices but many use a mainstream device such as an iPad and install apps which fall broadly into the categories of:

  • communication
  • social skills
  • emotional regulation
  • learning
  • academic and work

There are a couple of really good Australian resources to help parents, carers and therapists to make good choices about apps.  See our earlier post on choosing apps.

Bronwyn Sutton of BEST Autism Therapy has created a very comprehensive guide which she updates constantly.

Craig Smith of Autism Pedagogy has a blog post here with an overview of useful apps.

If you are just starting the iPad journey, you will want to think about:

  • goals for iPad use
  • size and memory capability
  • protection with a good case
  • wifi and cellular or wifi only
  • training for user, carers and therapists
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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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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