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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?

There are two areas in an NDIS plan where there might be funding for assistive technology:

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

 

The Assistive Technology Support Category is designed for big ticket items like wheelchairs, hoists and speech generating devices. Read more about AT under the NDIS here.

There is funding available for cheaper, “low-risk” items under the Consumables Support Category. This could include all sorts of things like nonslip bathmats, vibrating alarms, desktop magnification and, as long as there is enough funding available in a participant’s plan, an iPad.

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

The entry level iPad 5 costs $469

“Low cost and low risk items (Level 1) do not need a form to be sent into the NDIS. Participants with AT funded supports in their plan can seek advice (from an Independent Living Centre, AT assessor) and buy it themselves.” (from the NDIS document linked to above).

If your OT or other adviser thinks that an iPad would be useful for you, there’s no reason you can’t buy one with your NDIS funds.

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 Level 1 assistive technology under Core Supports.

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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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