Tag Archives: assistive technology

iCanConnect

iCanConnectLogoHave you heard of iCanConnect?

iCanConnect is The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program.  This Federal program ensures individuals who have combined hearing and vision loss access to telephone, advanced communications and information services (like the internet).

The FCC set aside funding to support one program per state plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  iCanConnect provides communications technology free of charge to low-income people of all ages who have combined vision and hearing loss.  Equipment provided can range from hardware or software applications to the varying technology needs of specialized equipment, like screen readers or braille displays.

How do you know if this program is for you?  You may be eligible for this program if you are a person who has combined vision and hearing loss and you cannot afford communication technology that enable you to use telephone, send email or access the internet.  A qualified program specialist will help you identify your equipment needs and train you on how to use it as well.

You can learn more about iCanConnect and watch a wonderful video introduction on the program by visiting their website at www.iCanConnect.org or by calling 1-800-825-4595.

To apply, contact your state’s program. For more information visit: www.fcc.gov/NDBEDP

We’re in AMORE with our Italian Distributors

Today, we’re making a stop-over in Italy. Our map will soon be all criss-crossed with dotted lines. Chester Creek has two main distributors in Italy. While I will include links to their websites, everything is in Italian, so you’ll likely need to settle for my CliffsNotes version.

Helpicare is one of our two Italian distributors. They feature a wide spread of services and offer their products and services across several EU countries. Beyond just tools, training, and resources, Helpicare also focuses on partnerships with other organizations to foster accessibility environmental control, and home automation. Founded in 2001, Helpicare has managed to become one of the largest assistive-technology companies in Italy.

Our other Italian distributor, Albamatic, focuses more on the products themselves.  Their selection ranges from simple switches to home automation to educational software.  Both of these companies carry some really cool products, like computer accessories that allow the severely disabled to use their gaze alone to navigate.

Distributors in the Land Down Under

Last week, I introduced you to some of our Canadian Distributors.  This week ,we’re going to take our imaginary jet plane all the way to the other side of the globe: Australia.  In a land often portrayed as home to rugged cowboy-types, crocodiles, adventurers, and lost but likable fish, keep in mind that there are real people with real lives just like those of us in the US.  Over half of Australians use the internet at work or school.  About 70% have access to the internet in their home.  That’s a lot of Aussies surfing the web.  And with roughly half of seniors using the internet at home, there is certainly a need to assistive technologies in computer use.  That’s where Chester Creek and our resellers come into the picture.  (Stats from wikipedia)

Effective Ergonomics started out with one person, Natalie, a director and occupational therapist.  Occupational therapists work with organizations and individuals to help people do what they need to do.  They work on ergonomics and rehabilitation to get their clients back to work or to help them continue to work.  Effective Ergonomics supplies everything an Occupational Therapist might need for his/her clients, but also offers products to individuals or companies that are looking to make their workplace more usable.

Spectronics, on the other end of the spectrum (haha) from Effective Ergonomics, is Australia and New Zealand’s largest supplier of assistive technology and software.  It was founded in 1985, much like Effective Ergonomics – by an OT who had a hard time finding the products he needed.  To solve this issue, he slipped into the role of a supplier, founding Spectronics. Their staff encompasses a wide array of professions and they work closesly with assistive-tech and special-ed professionals to offer a great selection of products.  

NovitaTech works to help individuals and organizations find solutions to the challenges that differently-abled individuals face, both at work and at home.   Like Spectronics, they maintain a staff with a wide variety of skills and work with professionals to continually adapt their product line for the consumer.  The staff work closely with customers to get them the perfect fit in assistive technology.  NovitaTech’s products range from computer accessories to wheelchairs and back again, with an easy to navigate website.

Tablets

As Apple rolls out its new iPad 2, competition waits anxiously.  While the first iPad faced virtually no competition in the tablet market, its predecessor is diving into churning waters.  The new device boasts two cameras, a slimmer build, video streaming to AppleTVs, and many of the features the iPhone4 included.

However, in order to be successful, this tablet will have to not only convince new buyers of its superiority, but also sway current iPad users to upgrade.

Competition includes the Motorola Xoom, Galaxy Tab, LG Slate, Acer Iconia, Dell Streak, HTC Flyer, BlackBerry PlayBook, and Playstation tablet, all of which bring something different to the table.  And what’s more, many of these have been on the market for a while.  Certainly Android, the competing operating system, has a leg up with so many devices running its software.

What do you think?  Do you have a preferred OS, hardware manufacturer, or specific tablet?

Do you think these devices had a place in schools?  How about for assistive tech?

New Technology

This past week saw technology buffs and professionals from around the world gathered in Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show.  The CES hosts nearly 150,000 visitors yearly, and is often the event of choice for tech companies to unveil new products and partnerships.  This year’s CES featured many new technologies and surprising developments.

Big developments include Microsoft’s venture into ARM-chip technology, which has producer Nvidia poised to threated leader’s like Intel and AMD; Intel’s deal with major studios to stream movies as soon as they are released to DVD/Bluray; the Motorola Atrix smartphone, which docs to run as what is essentially a fully functional netbook; IoSafe’s nearly indestructible hard drive; a robotic suit designed to aid in heavy lifting, physical therapy, and mobility for disabled individuals; a plethora of hot new tablets; wireless charging for mobile devices in GM vehicles; and some huge announcements for Vizio, a smaller, lower-end TV manufacturer.

These are just a few of the hundreds of new products and announcements showcased at this year’s CES.

Although CCT did not attend the show, we’d also like to take the chance to tell you about some of our new products.

     TextSpeak is a perfect on-the-go AAC (AlternativeAugmentative Communication) solution.  This intelligent text generating speaker and keyboard combo creates speech anywhere, right at your fingertips, and paired with many of our Chester Creek keyboards, including our large-print and large-key keyboards, allows individuals with speech impairment to be heard.  Great for students who need unlimited vocabulary, TextSpeak works right out of the box, can be programmed to male or female voices, and has 30 programmable phrases.  Small, light, and portable, TextSpeak is also an item users can throw in a backpack or purse for use as needed in social or work situations, and works from both battery and AC power sources.  


Chester Creek is now offering a wireless keyboard.  Our Wireless VisionBoard offers greater mobility, flexibility, and convenience while decreasing the clutter of cords on and behind your desk.  We also offer the option of purchasing this new wireless keyboard with a matching mouse, also wireless.


        Children often struggle learning all the correct buttons needed for computer use.  For those still learning and those who prefer a mouse without it, we have eliminated the scroll wheel in our new LittleMouse.  With two buttons, the left “green for go” and the right “red for stop,” teaching use of a mouse is easier than ever.  Like the Chester and TinyMouse, this model is also child-sized.


        Another new learning tool being offered this year is the LessonBoard Pro.  With the same color-coding and layout as the original LessonBoard, the Pro is for more advanced students and lacks letter and number labels.  Perfect for the classroom, the Pro continues to teach students correct finger placement and also encourages memorization of letter and number placement.


        Additional new products include transparent braille stickers for our large-key keyboards and educational software bundles for preschool and early elementary students. 
      

Introducing TextSpeak!

“As technology has come to play an increasingly important role in the lives of all persons in the United States, in the conduct of business, in the functioning of government, in the fostering of communication, in the conduct of commerce, and in the provision of education, its impact upon the lives of the more than 50,000,000 individuals with disabilities in the United States has been comparable to its impact upon the remainder of the citizens of the United States. Any development in mainstream technology would have profound implications for individuals with disabilities in the United States.”

(Findings and Purposes, Assistive Technology Act of 1998, Finding 3)

We are so happy to be introducing our newest assistive technology product to you today!  This is a collaborative effort that we have been working on for a while, to bring you TextSpeak through Chester Creek.


TextSpeak is a perfect on-the-go AAC (AlternativeAugmentative Communication) solution.  This intelligent text generating speaker and keyboard combo creates speech anywhere, right at your fingertips, and paired with any of our Chester Creek keyboards, including our large-print and large-key keyboards, allows individuals with speech impairment to be heard.  Great for students who need unlimited vocabulary, TextSpeak works right out of the box, can be programmed to male or female voices, and has 30 programmable phrases.  Small, light, and portable, TextSpeak is also an item you can throw in a backpack or purse for use as needed in social or work situations, and works from both battery and AC power sources.

A perfect on-the-go AAC (AlternativeAugmentative Communication) solution.
Instant on, no setup, low cost and simple to use
Light and portable. AC and battery powered
Available with Male and Female voices
Unlimited vocabulary
Talks as you type
No PC required
Speech generating using DSP based Text to Speech
Works right out of the box
30 programmable phrases


Use with your choice of Chester Creek keyboards to better suit your needs.
• VisionBoard Black (pictured)
• Wireless VB’s
• MyBoard-lc
• MyBoard-UC
• LearningBoard (Black or white)
• LessonBoard
• ReaderBoard
Specifications:
• Size: 5.3” L x 4” W x 1.5” H
• 9 volt AC Adapter
• Battery, 9V Alkaline
• Battery life (est.) 100+ hours based on 10 minutes/hour use
• Instruction manual
• Text Speak one (1) year warranty
• VisionBoard six (6) year warranty

As always,