Wednesday, August 5, 2020

UATP Accessible Times Podcast, episode 2: Tactile learning part 1, See3D

portrait
Caroline Karbowski, founder, See3D

In this episode, we meet Caroline Karbowski, founder of See3D, an organization that manages the printing and distribution of 3D models for the Blind. She's a student at Ohio State University who is building a network of volunteer printers.


We also meet several people who have used the service, who raise some fascinating questions about tactile learning. Lindsay Yazzolino, a Boston-area tactile designer, challenges the notion that "blind" means "sensory-impoverished." Tactile learning is a rich experience, she said.


We will explore tactile learning more in September's episode, in an interview with Sheri Wells-Jensen of Bowling Green State University.


1:00 - Caroline Karbowski tells how she started 
See3D, which began as a way to create models from unused 3D printer filament. It is now an official nonprofit.

4:40 - Caroline talks about the number of models the network has printed (more than 800 at the time of this recording).

5:12 - The Ohio Braille Challenge, a braille reading contest, is a big requester of models. The latest one was space-themed, with a lot of constellations.

5:45 - Caroline describes who does the printing, including her, her friends, educators and volunteers. 

7:18 - She is hoping to 
expand her network. Files are being shared on Thingiverse.

11:25 - Heiley Thurston talks about her experience with tactile learning. She used a model to better understand a fly.

12:09 - Bugs are popular requests.

12:33 -Lindsay Yazzolino, a tactile designer from the Boston area, talks about making hand-catching experiences--including a giant model of the human brain (done through a project outside of See3D).

14:36 - Rachel Hage, a certified assistive technology instruction specialist, used a 3D printed model of an eye to help her in her studies

16:25 - 3D models are a serious way to learn.

18:20 - 3D models of mummies allow people to explore a mummy without damaging it.

19:00 - Rachel used a 3D printed iPhone to help students understand how to use one.

24:55 - Caroline would love to connect with more people and inspire more creators. Maybe people who have to do a model for homework can do an assignment that would help people better understand the things around them.

26:05 - Lindsay argues against the notion that being blind means being deprived of sensory experience. 

27:05 - The next episode will explore the concept of tactile learning in more depth, featuring an interview with Sheri Wells-Jensen. Watch for it on September 2!




 

Monday, July 6, 2020

UATP'S "Accessible Times" podcast launches now!

Accessible tech from Microsoft: Don't forget the packaging!


Solomon Romney and Valeria Rodriguez of Microsoft

The first episode of Accessible Times: The UATP Podcast is now live! You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher—and it’s coming soon to many more services. You can also listen from the podcast website.

In this episode, we sat down with Solomon Romney, project manager for the Inclusive Tech Lab at Microsoft,  and Valeria Rodriguez, community development specialist for the City Creek Microsoft Store in Salt Lake City.

Together, they discuss the "why" of accessible technology. 

Resources from Solomon:

Microsoft Accessibility Features: "The single largest, most comprehensive list of Microsoft's accessibility features in the world. It has a step-by-step how-to guides, instructional videos, and download links organized by need group. It is updated regularly by our Disability Answer Desk Team."

Disability Answer Desk:(Microsoft) "This is a dedicated support team to assist people with using accessible technology. Many of them are people with disabilities who use the products they support, so their help is more knowledgable and empathetic than what you would find in a general support line."

Show notes:

0:30 - Game controllers used to be designed with certain assumptions. (Strength to hold it, motor skill to use it, ten fingers.)

4:00 - It's about reducing barriers, and they run the gamut. Low or no vision, low or no hearing, it runs across the spectrum. 

5:20 - It's not just about work, it's about entertainment.

6:40 - Examples of what you can do now that you couldn't do before.

8:00 - Learning tools for education that allow students to learn at their own pace, while teachers can customize to individual needs.

8:55 - Live captioning in PowerPoint allows everyone to be included, easily. "If it's hard, it's really not accessible," says Valeria.

14:00 - Solomon starts cataloging all the accessible features available at Microsoft.


18:00 - What problems are people trying to solve with assistive technology? "What I tell teachers is, you don't know. You don't know who's going to walk into your classroom on that first day of school," Valeria said. "That's why it's important to keep it broadly accessible."

21:20 - The harder conversation is the culture shift toward a design that includes everybody.

22:40 - Microsoft's Hackathon has produced some game-changing innovation in the accessibility field. "We get to work on whatever we want. ... You get to pull from people from all over the world to work on whatever matters to you," Solomon said.

25:31 - Solomon tells the story of Microsoft's packaging for its accessible Xbox adaptive controller. "I said, 'If I can't open this package with my left hand (which has no fingers)... then we have failed.'" 

 

 

Thursday, July 2, 2020

UATP, area agencies on aging and independent living centers team up to fight isolation

an older man uses an iPad
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels


In the wake of the pandemic, Area Agencies on Aging and two Centers for Independent Living in Utah will renew their focus on technology that fights isolation. They are bringing in more devices and collaborating with the Utah Assistive Technology Program to loan them to those who need it. 

 

It’s part of a federal program to ease isolation and address the need for food and transportation that arose due to COVID-19. The pandemic closed many senior centers and required staff members to offer services from home. Not surprisingly, one of the most-felt needs is for technology to help seniors and people with disabilities to connect virtually with friends, family, and medical providers. The CARES act has made funds available to the Utah Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) to support Area Agencies on Aging, senior centers, two Centers for Independent Living and UATP to help alleviate all those needs.

 

UATP’s loan bank—and the loan banks of Roads to Independence and Ability 1st independent living centers—will include iPads, stocked with communications apps that can help seniors connect. 

 

“As people are spending more time at home and less time with caregivers or other people, we are wanting them to turn to us to live that more independent life,” said Logan UATP coordinator Dan O’Crowley. 

 

Whether he’s working with an individual, a family or a professional looking to help a senior borrow a device, his advice is the same: Find out what the user’s end goal is. If they are looking to borrow an iPad, how do they need to communicate? Would they benefit from subtitles? UATP has compiled lists of communication apps for at-home use as well as resources for learning and working at home.

 

Once the needs are identified, O’Crowley said he makes sure the iPad has the needed technology while also ensuring it is as simple to use as possible.


Independence-giving devices include a lot more than iPads, and UATP is ready to connect people with the high- or low-tech items they need, including aids to daily living and mobility devices. Contact Dan O’Crowley in Logan and Cameron Cressall in the Uintah Basin. Due to the pandemic they will provide services by appointment only. Some demonstrations can be offered virtually.

 

UATP’s Salt Lake City facility is not open to new clients at this time.

 

In addition, independent living centers and UATP are all finding ways to continue helping their clients while safeguarding their health. Schedules and practices have changed due to the pandemic, so it is important to call before you come. (You can find your local independent living center on the Utah State Independent Living Council website.) 

 

Utah’s senior centers will also help address food and transportation needs. 

 

For more information on how the pandemic affects UATP’s services, read this post.

 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

UATP joins effort to make face shields for individual needs

Dan points to a snap on the headband of the face shield
The face shield can be modified to be shorter 
or narrower, depending on what works
for the wearer.


Cathie Chansamone's daughter, Diana, needs to wear personal protective equipment. She has developmental delays, has had pneumonia, and is at high risk for complications or death from COVID-19. 

Diana also has sensory issues, she didn’t like wearing a traditional face mask, and she did not keep them on. So Cathie worked with Dan O’Crowley, Logan coordinator of the Utah Assistive Technology Program, to create an alternative that would keep Diana safe.

 

The result: a visor with a shield that snaps onto the headband. The design keeps the shield farther away from Diana’s face than other designs, and that made the shield easier to tolerate. “She likes it,” Cathie said. “We tried it for the first time today at the doctor’s office, and she wore it.” 

 

“A face mask can be too claustrophobic,” O’Crowley said. “So a face shield is a good second option.”


Related link: Student creates transparent masks for the Deaf and hard of hearing community.

 

portrait
Diana wears her mask
The design can be modified so that the shield is shorter or narrower, to fit the needs of the individual. It is easy to clean with a bleach solution or disinfectant wipes.

“It’s just life-saving,” Cathie said. “I knew we wouldn’t be able to go out without it.”

 

Do you have a need for customized personal protection equipment? Contact Dan O'Crowley in Logan and Cameron Cressall in the Uintah Basin.




 

 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

UATP seeks new SLC coordinator

Update: UATP is still seeking applicants for this position.

a UATP volunteer smiles from his wheelchair at UATP in SLC
The Utah Assistive Technology Program is hiring in Salt Lake City!  
We help people like Isamael receive refurbished,  
affordable mobility equipment.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Ways to see Mom (virtually) on Mother's Day

Woman with this caption: Uh, it's actually been pretty nice lately. It warmed up. We've gotten up to close to high 60s, maybe 70 or 72....
Here's a screen shot from a Skype
conversation with captioning.
By JoLynne Lyon

My family is one of many that is trying to keep the communication lines open during the quarantine. Mom lives in a community for seniors that has closed its doors to visitors, and it doesn't look like the rules will change before Mother's Day.

If you're in the same situation, here are some ways to see your loved one long-distance.

1. Skype. This is available to Microsoft users. Its biggest advantage over other video chat apps is that it provides auto-captioning and you can have up to 50 people on a call. My daughter and I have tested it a couple of times, and while there is a time lag, the captioning is decent. Microsoft account holders can download it to their desktop or find it in their mobile device's App Store.

2. Zoom. (Available via computer desktop or app.) While it's touted as a business meeting app, anybody can create a free account and set up a meeting for up to 100 of your closest friends and relatives. An advantage Zoom has over other group video chat options: you can mute your mic. I've been on Facebook Messenger video chats with background noise that was overwhelming. You'll have to keep the call to under 40 minutes on the free plan, though.

3. Whereby and Cisco Webex. These, like Zoom, have free versions. I have not tried them personally, but Webex has upgraded its free plan to allow up to 100 people to meet as long as they want. Whereby allows up to 4 participants in secure calls with easy to read links.

4. Facebook Messenger. This app is built into Facebook website. The app is free, and you can include up to 50 people on a call.

5. Facetime. The app is free to Apple users, and it allows up to 50 people.

You can find more hints on ways to learn, work and communicate accessibly in this blog post.

I'm sure there are more options out there, so if you have a suggestion, leave us a comment!



Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Plans for an affordable, therapeutic PVC trike now available


portrait
The White family poses with a PVC trike made from the plans
that are now available on Instructables.
Warmer weather is coming! A bike ride is a great way to pass the quarantine. And this year, UATP volunteer Mike Stokes has found a way help young children who are working on their walking skills to join in the fun.

A therapeutic trike can cost thousands of dollars. For those families who are not able to use insurance to purchase one, 
plans for a PVC therapeutic trike are available on Instructables, an open source website. They include directions for cutting and assembling the PVC, plus links to sites that sell the needed materials. They also include Solidworks files for parts that require fabrication.

The PVC trikes are rated for children up to 50 pounds, and they can be built for around $400.

The trikes help children work on skills like walking and crawling in a way that doesn’t feel like work. Graham White is still working on his walking skills, and he loves to use a trike. “We’re trying to train his brain as well as muscle memory, and the bike is the best way to do that,” said his mother, Brandy.

Interested in building a therapeutic trike? Here are your options.


In Utah:

Purchase the items listed in the Instructibles directions. Feel free to reach out to UATP in Logan (Dan O'Crowley) or the Uintah Basin (Cameron Cressall) for assistance in putting it together.  

Outside of Utah:

You can download the instructionsIf you need help with the parts that are more difficult to fabricate, your state assistive technology program may be able to help. There’s a directory of state AT programs on the AT3 website.


UATP thanks volunteer Mike Stokes for helping develop this project, and the JR Stokes Foundation for supporting its development.