Friday, January 21, 2011

Microsoft Partners in Learning Accessibility in Education

Microsoft produced a new video, Microsoft Partners in Learning Accessibility in Education, exploring their Ease of Access center and its application in education. Expert testimonial was given by Curt Johnson MS, CRC, ATP of the University of Washington’s Rehabilitation Medicine Department and Assistive Technology Specialist with WATAP. Built-in accessibility features give students in the classroom and people with disability better computer usability without having to purchase additional software.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Accessible Gaming

Stress relieving apps should never be taken for granted particularly in today’s hectic world. Angry Birds was suggested as a favorite app for stress relief and if virtually throwing angry birds at smug pigs is calming to you, this might serve you well. Although Angry Birds is a fun and simple game it does require visual acuity and fine motor skills to play. If you are blind, low vision or just seeking an audio game you can try Papa Sangre. This app is available in the Apple iTunes Apps Store for $6.99. It’s a must have if you play adventure games. The iPhone is noted for supporting audio gaming, and this is top of the line.
You must work your way to the palace of Papa Sangre. Along the way you’ll meet evil hogs who will eat you, a maiden in distress, items to collect and bring along, and a host of adventures. You’ll travel on snow and ice, rough surfaces, over water and others. Oh and you’ll do it in the dark. But you’ll have a wealth of voice coaching and illustrative sounds to assist you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

i.d. mate Summit

Image of i.d. mate Summit, with neck strap

The i.d. mate Summit is a talking bar code reader from En-Vision America. Users can scan an item with the Summit and it will provide audio information about that item. The device is light enough to hold in one hand and move the item in question with the other hand until you’ve located the bar code. The Summit knows when it’s found the bar code and will automatically start reading out loud. It only has five buttons and an on/off button, easily distinguished by touch.

I recently had the opportunity to try it out and as I pulled the Summit out of its box for the first time, I was a little apprehensive. At first I could not locate the on/off switch, but after a few minutes of fumbling around and referring to the provided CD audio manual, I was able to locate the switch, turn it on, and then I was off and running around like a kid in a candy shop! I immediately started scanning everything with a barcode I could get my hands on, including food items and cleaning supplies. The Summit was able to identify almost every item I grabbed. The Summit will even read ingredients, instructions, product slogans, and more if they are pre-programmed with the barcode. After playing with it for about an hour, I felt like a pro bar code scanner.

To me, one of the best parts about the device is that if the product isn’t found, the i.d. mate Summit provides you the opportunity to record your own label. For example, I tried the Summit out on a tub of ice cream. The device told me that the item wasn’t found and to push the record button if I wanted to record my own label. I recorded a very simple message including the flavor but since ice cream doesn’t last forever, I thought my label was lost when I threw out the container. However, when I picked up a new one at the grocery store my recorded label was waiting for me. As long as the ice cream’s bar code doesn’t change, my label won’t either. The device even comes with blank bar codes for you to use on things in your own homes, like clothing.

The Summit is simple and useful and provides an individual with vision loss the independence to shop, make dinner, organize laundry and do it all knowing exactly what’s in hand. If you are interested in trying out the i.d. mate Summit, it is available for short term loan in our AT Lending Library.