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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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Using your iPhone or iPad hands free

Can the iPhone/iPad operate completely hands free?

The short answer is almost.  The long answer follows over the next few blog posts.  iphone6-ios9-ask-siri

There are two ways to operate an iOS device without using hands.  One is with a switch control.  The other way is using Siri as a personal assistant which is what this article is about.  If you are blind or have low vision, have physical impairment or just do lots of things at once, Siri is about to become your new bestie.

What is Siri

So first of all, what is Siri?  Siri is a feature built into iOS devices (and now Mac as well) which is voice operated and which can perform tasks such as:

  • search the internet and read results out loud,
  • make a phone call,
  • send or receive messages,
  • respond to questions about news, weather, and what’s nearby.siri1

Enabling Siri

  • Activate Siri by going to Settings  – Siri. Turn Siri on with the toggle switch.
  • Turn on Access on Lock Screen and Allow “Hey Siri”. Turning on “Hey Siri” allows you to use voice commands only, as long as you have an iPhone 6 or newer or are connected to power with an older phone. When you turn on “Hey Siri”, you will be prompted to speak some phrases so that Siri can learn to recognise your voice.
  • On this settings screen you can also choose which language and accent Siri will use.
  • It’s a good idea to select “Always” under the Voice Feedback setting because this means Siri will always be improving her ability to recognise your voice.
  • Under the My Info setting, select yourself in your contacts list.

Using Siri

When you want to use Siri, press and hold the home button until you hear a chime or say “Hey Siri” and wait for the chime.  Then give your command or question.

Customising Siri

You can teach Siri about how people are related to you if you want to.  If you tell Siri that Mary Smith is your mother, Siri will find Mary in your contacts list and remember the connection.  Then you can say, “Text Mum”.  Even without telling Siri about any relationships you can ask her something like, “Hey Siri…what’s Joe Brown’s email address?” or “Call Joe Brown on his mobile”.

How Siri helps you communicate

You can ask Siri to:

  • redial the last number
  • return that missed call
  • FaceTime Fred
  • Text Tracey
  • Send a message to George
  • Reply to a message
  • Read a message
  • Check my voicemail
  • Play my voicemail
  • Email Jill about the weekend
  • Reply to emails by saying “Reply….”
  • Read my notifications

Next post

More in the next post about using Siri with other apps.