Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hands-free Bluetooth

For many of us, a Bluetooth headset provides additional freedom and hands-free convenience when using a cell phone. However for anyone with an upper extremity motor impairment, it can be difficult or sometimes impossible to access the small button to activate a standard Bluetooth headset.

One product that I recently tried with a client with limited upper extremity function is the NoButtonsHeadset.

The NoButtonsHeadset is a Voice Command Bluetooth headset that is designed to make and receive cell phone calls without having to push buttons. The user activates the headset by tilting their head near a magnet that is mounted on a flexible rod. The flexible rod can be mounted on a wheelchair. The user has to hold the headset near the magnet for a few seconds to activate it. Once it is activated the user will hear voice commands that will prompt them to make a call.

The client I worked with had some challenges with locating the magnet to activate the headset. Since he was not a wheelchair user, finding a functional location to mount the magnet was challenging and affected access to the magnet. Activating the headset also required some practice but after a few attempts the client was able to activate the headset independently.

This client chose to look at other hands-free options since he did not have a permanent location to mount the magnet. However, for consumers who are wheelchair users and are looking for a hands-free cell phone option, the NoButtonsHeadset would be a good product to try. Keep in mind that you should have a good mounting location for the magnet so the user can easily reach it once the headset is on the ear. Also, an individual with limited head/neck control would most likely find it challenging to use this device.

Maria Kelley, OTR/L, Senior Assistive Technology Specialist

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