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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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GPS trackers

New tracker called Magpie

We recently contributed to the Kickstarter campaign for a tracking device called Magpie.

A new GPS tracking device

Lots of people ask about a good tracking device for children with autism or elderly people with dementia that can be connected to a carer’s smartphone.  There are plenty of products on the market but some of the reported problems with them are:

  • Bulky and obvious – wearer may take it off
  • Some can be “locked” on but this may be too intrusive to the wearer from a sensory or comfort point of view
  • The range is small – no good for out and about in a public place
  • The lag between the wearer leaving the prescribed area and the alert arriving on the carer’s phone is too long
  • The battery life or the life of the device itself is too short
  • The device is expensive
  • It requires a data plan which is expensive

What’s so good about Magpie?

The Magpie designers claim to have solved all those problems.  Fingers crossed! Here’s what they say:

Magpie is the most affordable, truly global tracker. Others out there are either Bluetooth-powered with short reach, or expensive and theoretical. We’re also set up with a subscription-based service, so there is no cost for the device and the cost of the GPS service is significantly less.

Magpie’s battery is rechargeable, so you’ll never run out of juice.

On a single charge Magpie will last anywhere from 1 day to 3 months depending on the tracking frequency you’ve put in place; by the minute, by the hour, by the day.

Magpie is waterproof, dustproof and designed to withstand anything daily life throws at it.

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Can I buy an iPad with NDIS funding?

Can I buy an iPad with NDIS funding?

Will the NDIS fund an iPad?

Like many things to do with the NDIS, the answer is not necessarily a simple yes or no. A recent update from the NDIS seemed to say outright that iPads are generally not approved because they are considered mainstream devices. People who have already been through the process of applying for NDIS have had mixed experiences – some have had iPads approved and some haven’t.

How do you get assistive technology under the NDIS?

An NDIS plan might have the following category of funding for assistive technology:

Support Purpose Outcomes Framework Domain Support Category
Capital Daily Living Assistive Technology

 

The Assistive Technology Support Category is designed for larger ticket items like wheelchairs, hoists and speech generating devices and also mainstream devices such as iPads where the NDIA planner determines it to be a reasonable and necessary support.

 

The first step is to arrange for an OT to complete and assistive technology assessment.  The templates can be found at the following link https://ndis.gov.au/providers/at/assessing-at.html#template

Once the assistive technology assessment is submitted, if the planner approves the device for the participant,  funding will be made available in the Assistive Technology budget to purchase the piece of equipment.

Read more about AT under the NDIS here.

A standard size 5th generation iPad ranges in price from $469 to $799, depending on the features.

The entry level iPad 5 costs $469

Samsung tablets start from as little as $199 for a 7 inch 8GB WiFi model to $849 for a 9.7 inch 64GB WiFi and 4G model.

If your occupational therapist, physiotherapist, speech pathologist or other adviser thinks that an iPad or tablet, smart phone or smart watch would be useful for you, then you can start the process of finding a provider and asking them to put in a request via the NDIS portal.  Ask your allied health professional to write the recommendation in an official report and keep that report in case you are audited by the NDIS in the future.

NDIS funding has also been used by participants to purchase extended warranty on their device, protective cases and iTunes vouchers for purchasing relevant apps.

What if I’m not sure how to use an iPad to support me achieve my goals?

There are people and organisations who can help you with how to use your new device.  Some OTs are very proficient with assistive technology as are some support workers.  Our staff can also help you. Email us on accessibility@macandpcdoctors.com.au or ring us on 07 3892 2227.

What should I make sure is on my NDIS plan?

For a tablet, smartphone or smartwatch, make sure you have funding for Assistive Technology under Capital.

For support and training, apply for funding for Innovative Community Participation under Capacity Building.

An iPad can support a person with a disability in many ways
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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