Friday, December 30, 2011

ChromeVis: Free Tool for Chrome Users With Low Vision

ChromeVis is a simple Chrome extension for users with low vision. ChromeVis is simple to use and has many customization options. To use ChromeVis highlight the text you want magnified and then click on the ChromeVis icon in the top right of your Chrome window. To customize the appearance of ChromeVis right click on its icon and select options. To download ChromeVis for free click here.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

TextGrabber: Fast, Cheap, Accurate OCR app for iPhone

TextGrabber is a low cost OCR app for iPhone that quickly and accurately converts printed text into digital text that can be edited or read aloud using text-to-speech. Click here to download TextGrabber. The app is easy to use. Snap a photo of the text you want to read then crop the photo and finally read the text. TextGrabber only takes a few seconds to convert the printed text into a digital format. Once the text has been recognized you can have it read aloud to you using VoiceOver. TextGrabber can also translate captured text into many languages. One negative of TextGrabber is it does not have built in text-to-speech,  or Speak Selection, a new iOS 5 feature, does not work. In day-to-day use I found that TextGrabber and ZoomReader offer similar OCR speed and accuracy. To improve the accuracy turn on the flash while taking the picture. TextGrabber does not feature built in text-to-speech with highlighting while ZoomReader does not offer a cropping tool for removing unwanted text. To read more about ZoomReader click here. Click read more below to see screen shots and examples of TextGrabber in action,including a step- by -step depiction of TextGrabber converting a newspaper article.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Add Quick Text-to-Speech Button to Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word has a hidden text-to-speech button built in. To access add the text-to-speech button to the quick access tool bar click on the down arrow in the top left corner of the screen. Next click on more commands and then click on all commands from the drop down menu. Finally click on speak from the list and then press add. To use the text-to-speech feature select the text you wish to have read and click on the text-to-speech button you just added to the top left corner of the screen. The text will be read allowed instantly. Click the button again to stop the text-to-speech. Watch the video above to learn more. Click read more below for step by step instructions.

Monday, December 26, 2011

iOS 5 Tips: Use Assistive Touch to Replace a Broken Home Button, Lock Button or Volume Button

Assistive Touch is a new feature in iOS 5 that allows people with physical disabilities to better use their iOS device. To learn more about AssistiveTouch click here. To enable Assistive Touch go to Settings>General> Accessibility>Assistive Touch and then turn on Assistive Touch. A small round white button will then appear on your screen. When you touch the white button a list of commands will appear including a software home button, lock button and volume up and down button. You can now use these software buttons to replace your broken home button or any other broken buttons. You can drag the white button to different places on the screen for your convenience. Watch the video below to learn more.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

iOS 5 Tip: Look Up Any Word

A new feature in iOS 5 allows you to get a definition of any word from any app. To get a definition of a word simply select the word by holding down on it for a couple of seconds and then tap define. A dictionary will appear with that word defined. When you are done tap done to return to your app.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

iOS 5 Tips: Reader Eliminates Distractions

A new feature in iOS 5 called Reader makes reading articles on the web much easier. Many articles on the web are hard to read on the iPhone and iPod Touch's small screen. Reader also works on the iPad. To read the articles you must zoom in and deal with distractions such as advertisements. Reader solves this problem by taking out the advertisements and formatting the text perfectly. To activate Reader simply tap the Reader button in the address field. The address field is where you type the website address. After pressing the Reader button the article will appear perfectly formatted for your screen. To change the size of the text simply press the text size button in the top left of the screen then tap on the little A to make the text smaller and the big A to make the text bigger. When you are done reading the article simply tap done to continue to browse the web. Reader can enlarge the font substantially to assist people that have trouble reading small print. Click read more below to see more screen shots.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Google Dictionary Defines Any Word on the Web

Google Dictionary is a free extension available for Google Chrome. To download the extension click here. Once downloaded simply double click on any word on a web page to view its definition or hear the word read aloud. Google Dictionary is perfect for quickly looking up unfamiliar words. To learn about other Chrome extensions click here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Great List of Apps to Support Literacy

Greg O'Connor has put together a great list of apps for literacy support on To view the list click here. The list is broken into categories reading support, OCR, writing and notetaking support, mind mapping, organizational and study support and reference. Check out the list here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

iBooks Update Adds Useful New Features

Apple recently updated its iBooks app to add more add more features and make reading easier. One of features adds a night time reading theme to make reading in the dark easier on you eyes. The new update also add several new fonts and makes highlighting and taking notes easier. Yet another new feature allows you to read your book in full screen mode. iBooks is available here for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

iOS 5 Camera Accessibility

iOS 5 introduced many new accessibility features including Assistive Touch, Siri and Speak Selection. One hidden feature gives blind and visually impaired the ability to take pictures with VoiceOver and the built in camera on the iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone. Your iOS device will tell you how many people are in your picture and if the people are in the center of the screen so you can get the best shot. This is just on feature in a growing list of iOS accessibility features.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Android Becomes More Accessible With 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has improved the accessibility of Android. Ice Cream Sandwich is not available on all Android devices but will become more widespread through out the coming months. Google has added a feature to Android called Explore-By-Touch. The new built in screen reader allows users to navigate on screen items without seeing the screen. The new addition will enable disabled users to use the many thousands of Android devices. While Google is attempting to compete with Apple's iOS software in accessibility the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch still offer more accessibility options for disabled users. To learn more about VoiceOver click here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dragon NaturallySpeaking

Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a speak recognition program that allows you to control your computer and dictate with your voice. Dragon NaturallySpeaking includes a headset with a microphone for uses with the program. Dragon NaturallySpeaking has excellent speak recognition accuracy at fast speeds. Dragon allows users to browse the web, write emails and compose and edit Microsoft Office documents with your voice. In addition Dragon can transcribe audio files into text after it was recorded. For example, if you are on the go you can record your voice with an audio recorder and then uses Dragon to make a text document from the audio file. Dragon has numerous commands that you can use to control your computer. You can say, "search the web for..." or "correct that" or "strike that" or 'scroll down" along with many other commands. Because their are so many commands there is a learning curve for new Dragon users. Luckily once you learn the commands that you will use most Dragon can improve the time it take you to perform common tasks. Dragon's speech recognition accuracy is very good out-of-the-box but you can train Dragon by reading text aloud to help improve the accuracy. Creating text documents with Dragon is also quicker and easier with voice. Using Dragon it is easier to get your ideas down on paper and using voice is much quicker than typing. If you have an iOS device you can use it as a remote microphone using the Dragon Remote Microphone available here. To learn more about other Dragon products from Nuance click here, here and here. This product was provided complementary to the reviewer.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Notability Promo Code Giveaway

Below is a promo code for Notability. To learn more about Notability click here. To win the app enter the code into iTunes. The first person to enter the code will win the Notability app for iPad. Once one person enters the code it will no longer work. If you do not win check back later for another code. Good Luck!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Notability Promo Code Giveaway

Below is a promo code for Notability. To learn more about Notability click here. To win the app enter the code into iTunes. The first person to enter the code will win the Notability app for iPad. Once one person enters the code it will no longer work. If you do not win check back later for another code. Good Luck!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Notability Promo Code Giveaway

Below is a promo code for Notability. To learn more about Notability click here. To win the app enter the code into iTunes. The first person to enter the code will win the Notability app for iPad. Once one person enters the code it will no longer work. If you do not win check back later for another code. Good Luck!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dragon Express: Control Your Mac by Voice

Today, Nuance released Dragon Express for the Mac. Dragon Express allows users to preform key functions solely with the sound of their voice. The app is available here on the Mac app store for $49. Dragon Express can send emails, search with spotlight, post Twitter and Facebook updates, search the web and more. Dragon Express is an introductory product designed for people who are new to voice recognition. Dragon Express lacks many key features of the more expensive Dragon Dictate. See the comparison chart below to see the difference between Dragon Express and Dragon Dictate.

Dragon Express uses Nuance's great speech recognition technology to accurately turn your voice into text. Nuance claims that using Dragon is three times faster than typing. To learn about Dragon apps for iOS click here. Stay tuned for more about Dragon Naturally Speaking. Click read more below to view screen shots of Dragon Express and read the press release.

Hidden Keyboard Enhancement Built Into iOS 5

A newly discovered feature in iOS 5 adds an auto correction bar above the keyboard. The feature has not been enabled in iOS 5, but may be coming in the near future.This feature is currently available on other mobile operating systems such as Android and Blackberry. Currently it is possible to enable this feature but it is not recommended and could effect your device. When or if this feature is released it will improve typing speed and assist poor spellers. If the feature ever becomes available it will add to the accessibility of iOS. To learn more about assistive technology to help poor spellers click here. To learn about iOS 5 and iPhone 4s accessibility click here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Oregon Using the iPad to Assist Disabled Voters

Oregon is testing the iPad to assist disabled voters and allow them to vote privately. Some Oregon voters that are unable to vote using paper ballets will be able to vote using the iPad in tomorrow's election as part of a pilot program. Voters with visual impairments, physical disabilities, dyslexia and other disabilities that make voting with paper ballets difficult will be able to vote using a custom iPad app. The app will have the ability to enlarge font size, improve contrast and read text aloud to assist disabled voters. The app also works with VoiceOver for improved accessibility. Blind voters will be able to connect their Braille displays to the iPad via Bluetooth in order to read the ballets. Users that use Bluetooth accessories will be able to connect them to the iPad in order to vote.  The app will allow disabled voters to make their selections privately without election officials knowing which candidates the voter selected. Election officials made the following comments about voter privacy. 
"Some people want to vote independently, and they're the ones that we're talking to." 
Laws require people with disabilities to have equal access and privacy while voting.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ginger Contextual Spelling and Grammar

Ginger is a spelling and grammar checker that uses the context to correct errors that standard spell checking software cannot. Ginger works very quickly and accurately and is compatible with many text editing programs like Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and Firefox. To activate Ginger simply press F2 while editing a document. Immediately Ginger will pop up and begin checking for errors. When an error is found Ginger will display the original sentence on the top and the corrected sentence on the bottom. Ginger allows users to listen to the original and corrected sentence to insure accuracy. Once you are satisfied with the changes Ginger has made you can click approve to accept the changes. One downside is that when your not connected to the internet, Ginger cannot correct your mistakes. Watch the video above to see Ginger in action. Below are examples of sentences Ginger can correct.

I lick to reed books. → I like to read books.
I lick to reed my bike → I like to ride my bike.
He's laughing on me! → He's laughing at me!
Aren't she go home? → Isn't she going home?
He didn't suggested it. → He didn't suggest it.

Ginger is a great tool for people with Dyslexia, English language learners and students of all ages. Ginger is not perfect, but very good, and does not always correct each sentence accurately. When using Ginger it is important to make sure the corrections are appropriate to reduce mistakes. To learn more about Ginger click here. To save 10% on Ginger products use the code ginger10. Click read more below to learn more about Ginger.

Monday, October 31, 2011

SoundAmp Giveaway

Below is a promo code for SoundAmp. To learn more about SoundAmp click here. To win the app enter the code into iTunes. The first person to enter the code will win the SoundAmp app. Once one person enters the code it will no longer work. If you do not win check back latter for another code. Good Luck.


Friday, October 28, 2011

SoundAmp Giveaway

Below is a promo code for SoundAmp. To learn more about SoundAmp click here. To win the app enter the code into iTunes. The first person to enter the code will win the SoundAmp app. Once one person enters the code it will no longer work. If you do not win check back latter for another code. Good Luck.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

JotNot Scanner App (Giveaway)

JotNot Scanner is an app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. To download JotNot click here. JotNot requires a camera in order to capture the documents. JotNot allows you to take a picture of a document and then save it as a perfectly centered PDF file. The resulting document looks as if it was scanned with a flat bed scanner. JotNot even allows users to fax the document from your iOS device. JotNot is $0.99 in the App Store. If you would like to try out JotNot you can download the lite version here.

The assistive technology blog will be giving away free copies of JotNot over the next week. Check back frequently to improve your chances of winning.

Monday, October 24, 2011

SoundAmp Giveaway

SoundAmp is a hearing aid App for iOS devices. To learn more about SoundAmp click here. Check back here later for the chance to win promo codes for SoundAmp. If you do not win the code check back later for more codes.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Apps for Autism (60 Minutes)

60 Minutes featured communication Apps for iPad this week. Above is the full episode. Click here to read the full story. 60 Minutes describes the episode as follows,
"Autistic people whose condition prevents them from speaking are making breakthroughs with the help of tablet computers and special applications that allow them to communicate, some for the first time. Lesley Stahl reports."

Notability Note Taking App for iPad

Notability is a note taking app for iPad. The app is available for $0.99 in the App Store. To download the app click here. Notability allows users to take and edit notes with multimedia including audio and visual. Notability allows users to input text with a keyboard or using their finger to write each letter. Notability also allows users to draw diagrams and highlight. The following from Notability's website,
Discover happiness in capturing your ideas and pursuing your dreams. Notability, the first truly integrated note-taking app on iPad, allows you to do just that. Audio recording, advanced word processing, full-featured handwriting, PDF annotation, and auto syncing flow together seamlessly, allowing you to create comprehensive, beautiful notes, quickly and simply. Even customize the look and feel to fit you."
One of Notability's killer features is audio recording. Notability describes the audio recording feature as follows,
"Standing on a framework that automatically links notes with audio recordings, this tool is perfect for recording lectures, meetings, and interviews. A simple tap to start and your ready to record your speech, presentation, or discussion. Recording even continues when your using other apps. These recordings enhance the review process beyond words. Simply tap on a line and listen to exactly what was said when you were typing. The unique sound amplification features will make sure every word is audible wherever you are. When you finished reviewing, keep the recording for a later date, or delete it. Its your choice."
Another great new feature is the ability to edit and modify PDF files. PDF annotation is described as follows on Notability's website.
"Import lectures, presentations, and forms, straight into Notability from email attachments, the web, or you favorite cloud service. You choose the tools that best help you capture information on a PDF. Write, draw, highlight, type, in an array of colors, or add images. Take notes in text or use a writing block to create a movable canvas. All these features work together to ensure you can create notes that fit your life."
Notability is a great, low cost app for taking notes. To download Notability click here. Click read more below to learn more about Notability.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wolfram Alpha is a Knowledge Engine

Wolfram Alpha is an internet based Knowledge Engine. It does more than a search engine because it can do complex math and science equation, generate bar codes, graph equations, display nutritional information and much more. You can try Wolfram Alpha free by clicking here. Wolfram Alpha gives you direct answers instead of links like Bing and Google. Wolfram Alpha can even answer trivia questions like the distance to mars or the width of a football field. The results of the search are displayed in a clear and organized manner that is easy to read.

Wolfram Alpha also has dozens mobile apps for iOS and Android. To learn more about the apps click here. The Wolfram Alpha app is a mobile portal into the Wolfram Alpha knowledge base. Other apps made by Wolfram Alpha include course assistance apps to help you pass your classes and specialized reference apps.

Siri, the iPhone 4S assistant feature also uses Wolfram Alpha to answer your question. To learn more about Siri click here.

Click read more below watch a video about Wolfram Alpha.

Monday, October 17, 2011

DocScanner Promo Code

Below is a promo code for DocScanner. To learn more about DocScanner click here. To win the app enter the code into iTunes. The first person to enter the code will win the $4.99 DocScanner app. Once one person enters the code it will no longer work.If you do not win check back tomorrow for another code. Good Luck.


Friday, October 14, 2011

DocScanner Promo Code Giveaway

Below is a promo code for DocScanner. To learn more about DocScanner click here. To win the app enter the code into iTunes. The first person to enter the code will win the $4.99 DocScanner app. Once one person enters the code it will no longer work. If you do not win check back latter for another code. Good Luck.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Looktel Money Reader Promo Code (Giveaway)

Below is the Looktel Money reader promo code. To learn more about the Looktel Money Reader click here. To win the app enter the code into iTunes. The first person to enter the code will win the $9.99 Looktel Money Reader app. Once one person enters the code it will no longer work. If you do not win, click here to download the app.


DocScanner OCR iPhone App (Giveaway)

DocScanner is an OCR app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. DocScanner allows you to take a picture of a document and save it as a PDF or JPEG file. To download DocScanner click here. DocScanner also positions the document so it fills the entire screen. Another DocScanner feature converts the text of the document into electronic text that can be read aloud using VoiceOver. This process is called OCR. To learn more about OCR click here. If you would like to test out DocScanner's OCR capabilities download SayText which uses the same OCR engine as DocScanner.  DocScanner allows users to scan many different types of documents including business cards, recipes, articles and even whiteboards. Once your document has been scanned you can save it to a server, Evernote or Dropbox. Norfello Oy describes the apps scanning capabilities as follows.
"DocScanner has industry leading image processing algorithms which automatically turn the picture to look like you have scanned the document with a flatbed scanner."
DocScanner is a competitor to ZoomReader which is another OCR app in the App Store. ZoomReader costs $19.99 while DocScanner costs $4.99. DocScanner has more features including Evernote and Dropbox compatibility and the option to save documents as PDF or JPEG. DocScanner also allows users to scan multiple pages into one documents while ZoomReader only allows you to scan one. ZoomReaders OCR engine does work faster and more accurately in my tests.


The Assistive Technology Blog will be giving away six copies of the DocScanner app over the next week. Promo codes will be posted to the blog over the next week. The first person to enter the code into iTunes will win the app. Once one person enters the code it will no longer work. DocScanner is a $4.99 value in the App Store.

Click read more below to see more pictures of DocScanner.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

iOS 5 Released with Many New Accessibility Features

Today, Apple released iOS 5 to the public. The update is available free though iTunes. iOS 5 includes over 200 new features along with numerous accessibility improvements. To learn more about iOS 5 accessibility click here. To read more about iPhone 4S accessibility click here. iOS 5 is compatible with iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPad 2, iPod Touch 4th generation and iPod Touch 3rd generation. Some lesser known accessiblity features include a system-wide dictionary, the option to speak a selected body of text, a reader mode which filters out all distractions on the web and only leaves important content. The new update includes features to help people with visual impairments, hearing impairments, physical disabilities and learning disabilities. Below is Apple's take on iOS 5 accessiblity.
"iOS 5 comes with innovative new features that make it easier for people with mobility, hearing, vision, and cognitive disabilities to get the most from their iOS devices. iOS 5 works with specialized hardware accessories. The LED flash and custom vibration settings let you see and feel when someone’s calling. And improvements to VoiceOver include custom element labeling. These are just a few of the ways iOS 5 continues making advances in the field of accessibility."
Click read more below to see more pictures and videos of iOS 5.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Looktel Money Reader App Updated (Giveaway)

Today the Looktel Money Reader was updated to version 2.1. The new update includes bug fixes and makes the app available in Europe. Version 2.0 added support for the Euro, Pound, Australian dollar and Canadian dollar. The Looktel Money Reader can recognize any supported bill when it is in front of the camera The Money Reader will audibly say the denomination of the bill. The Looktel Money Reader is available in the App Store for $9.99. Click here to download the Looktel Money Reader. The Money Reader is can help visually impaired people quick identify the denomination of money anywhere. To learn more about the inaccessibility of paper money click here. To learn more about the Looktel Money Reader click here.


The makers of Looktel provide promotional codes to use as give aways on this blog. Sometime in the next 48 hours one promotional code will be posted on the Assistive Technology Blog. The first reader to redeem the code wins the app. Once one person uses the code it will no longer work. If you do not win the app is availabe by purchase.  You can find it by clicking here.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

SoundAMP Turns Your iOS Devices Into a Hearing Aid

SoundAMP is a app for your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch that turns your device into a hearing aid. The full version of the app costs $4.99 and the lite version is $0.99. Click here to download the full version. Click here to download the $0.99 lite version. The app uses your devices built in microphone the capture the sound and then amplifies the sound through your head phones. SoundAMP can also record the sound and play it back to you later. There are numerous uses for this app including lectures, plays, movies, watching TV and much more. Click read more below to see screen shots of the app in action.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Is U.S. Money Accessible?

Above is a great video about the struggles that blind people face when dealing with money. Because U.S. currency is a uniform size and texture people with visual impairments can not tell the difference between a 5 dollar bill and a twenty dollar bill. When in a retail environment, the visually impaired customer must trust the cashier to give them the correct amount of change. Luckily there are solutions. An iOS app call the Looktel money reader can quickly and accurately determine the denomination of money  by using the device's camera. To read more about the Looktel money reader app click here.     

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

iPhone 4S Accessibility Features

Today, Apple announced the iPhone 4S. The new iPhone will be available to buy in stores on October 14th. Along with the new iPhone, Apple announced that iOS 5 will be released as a free update on October 12th. iOS 5 includes many accessibility features that will help people with disabilities. To read about iOS 5's accessibility features click here. The iPhone 4s includes a couple of exclusive features that will benefit people with disabilities.

The iPhone 4S has a faster processor which allows it to preform tasks more quickly then the iPhone 4. The iPhone 4S also has an improved camera that will work much better with OCR apps as well as object recognition apps such as Looktel's money reader and VizWiz. As a result of the faster processor the iPhone 4S is also able to preform advanced speech recognition.

The speech recognition feature dubbed Siri is like a personal assistant built right into the phone. It works solely off the sound of the users voice. Apple describes Siri as,
"Now you can use your voice to use your iPhone. Just talk to Siri as you would to a person: “Do I need an umbrella?” or “Any great burgers around here?” or “Where’s the closest ATM?” Siri not only understands what you say, it knows what you mean.1 It figures out the right apps to use to find the right answer. Then, just like a personal assistant, it answers you. Siri makes phone calls, sends messages, schedules meetings, sets reminders, and more. How much more? Just ask, and Siri tells you that, too."
To learn more about Siri watch the video below. Another exclusive feature to the iPhone 4S is dictation. Dictation allows users to input any text using the sound of their voice. To activate dictation simply tap on the microphone in the bottom left of the keyboard and speak your text. Dictation is a great for users that cannot see the keyboard, people who struggle to spell or people with physical disabilities. Below is Apple's description about dictation,
"Here’s another amazing way to get things done: just use your voice. Instead of typing, tap the microphone icon on the keyboard. Then say what you want to say and iPhone listens. Tap Done, and iPhone converts your words into text. Use dictation to write messages, take notes, search the web, and more. Dictation also works with third-party apps, so you can update your Facebook status, tweet, or write and send Instagrams." 
Click read more to see more pictures, watch videos and read a press release about the iPhone 4S.

Todays "Let's Talk iPhone" Event Accessibility Implications

Today Apple is set to announce the next version of the iPhone along with iOS 5. The announcement will have major effects on iOS users with disabilities. iOS 5, the next version of iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch operating system, will include many major accessibility enhancements. To learn more about iOS 5 accessibility click here. The hardware announced tomorrow will also effect the assistive technology world. Click here to learn more about the next iPhone's impact on accessibility. What ever Apple announces tomorrow check back on the assistive technology blog for the accessibility angle of the new products.      

Monday, October 3, 2011

Braille Gift Cards

Plastic credit cards and gift cards feel identical to one another making them indistinguishable to blind and visually impaired users. Starbucks and other retailers have a solution, credit cards or gift cards with braille. Gift cards and credit cards like the one pictured above have braille labels that makes them easy to tell apart. Now there is no need to guess if you are giving the cashier your metro card, credit card or Starbucks gift card. Starbucks description of the braille gift card,
"Our Fall 2011 card is all about the brilliant colors of autumn’s changing leaves. But given that October is also National Disability Awareness Month, we thought we’d take this opportunity to release our first Starbucks Card with Braille lettering so that all can share."
To order the braille gift card click here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Accessible Combination Locks

Many combination locks are hard to use for people who are blind or have cognitive challenges. Master Lock has a few locks that are more accessible then conventional combination locks.

The first is the 1500iD lock which can be opened without looking at the lock. Conventional combination locks use a number dial that makes it impossible for blind users to open the lock. The 1500iD also only requires one hand to open so people with physical disabilities can more easily open the lock.

The 1525EZRC lock is designed for people with cognitive disabilities. The 1525EZRC lock features easy to remember combinations. The 1525EZRC lock looks identical to other locks so your valuables will be kept safe.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What does iPhone 5 and iOS 5 Mean for Assistive Technology?

Mock up of possible iPhone 5 design

Apple's next iPhone is rumored to be announced in a couple of weeks. What will the new iPhone mean for assistive technology? The iPhone is a powerful tool for people with a variety of disabilities. It has built in text-to-speech, support for braille displays and much more. How will Apple's announcement effect you? Read on to find out.

At the event Apple will most likely unveil at least one iPhone with a faster processor, more RAM and a better camera. Apple may surprise us with more features as well, but we'll focus on those three. A faster processor means that apps will run faster enabling apps such as Read2Go and ZoomReader to work better and faster. The faster processor will also open the door to exiciting new assistive technology apps. A better camera will benefit people using OCR apps, magnification apps, money reader apps and much more. The new camera will be able to recognize text more accurately and magnify printed text with higher resolution. The new iPhone will run iOS 5 which includes many new accessibility features.

iOS is the most accessible mobile operating system to date and with iOS 5 it will get even better. iOS 5 will run on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Apple has said that iOS 5 will available in the fall. iOS 5 will include many new accessibility features to help make the device easier to use. Hearing aid compatibility will be built into the iPhone allowing people to hear the iPhone better. Another new feature allows users to select text and then have it read back to you using a built in text-to-speech voice. Another rumored feature will convert a users voice into text for easier text input. iOS 5 will also be able to use the iPhone flash as an indicator light which will be helpful to deaf users. Custom vibrations will allow users to set their own vibration patterns to quick identify who is calling. Yet another cool feature called assistive touch will help users with low motor still access their iOS device. To learn more about assistive touch click here. There are even more accessibility features coming in iOS 5. iOS 5 will include a feature for every type of user and will be a free upgrade. To learn more about iOS click here, here and here.

Apple's announcement will be many new exciting bring new assitive technology features to users. Click read more below to see a video about iOS 5. Stay tuned for more information about iOS 5 and the new iPhone.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Signed Stories Helps Deaf Children

Signed Stories is free service that provides sign and read aloud books. The books are signed for the deaf child and read aloud simultaneously for the non deaf parent or vice verse. There are many stories available for young kids. The stories can help parents who do not know sign language to read with their child who is deaf, or for deaf parents to have a book read aloud to their hearing child. Signed Stories are also helpful for kids learning sign language.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WikiSummarizer Gets New Features

WikiSummarizer is a free website that summarizes Wikipeadia articles. WikiSummarizer can summarize any Wikipeadia article in seconds. Recently WikiSummarizer was updated to allow users to view the summarized article in a visual tree view in addition to the old bulleted list visit. The new view makes it easier to gather key information from the summarized articles. To try WikiSumarizer click here. To learn about summarizing  iOS apps click here. To learn about Microsoft Word Summarizer click here. To watch a video of WikiSummarizer in action click read more below.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Many Google Services Become More Accessible

This week Google announced a number of accessibility upgrades for various services. Among the services that were upgraded were Google+, Google Docs and Google Calendar. 

The Google Docs and Google Calendar update improves their compatibility with screen readers. Now it is easier to use these services with VocieOver, Jaws and ChromeVox. Google Docs and Google Calender now have more keyboard shortcuts for easier navigation. To learn more about the upgrades click here and here. Google Docs and Google Calendar are free for anyone with a Google account.

Another Google service that received accessibly upgrades is Google+. Google+ is an invitation only social network. One of Google+'s standout features is hangouts. Hangouts is a group video chat feature that supports multiple friends. When chatting, Google+ recognizes who is talking and brings their video to the front of everyone else's screen. People that use sign language were previously unable to get the floor of a group chat. Because people who sign language do not make noise Google+ was unable to recognize that they were talking. The update in Google+ gives deaf users the option to press shift+s during a chat to get them self recognized.

To watch a video about Google+'s hangout feature click read more below.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Read2Go App Gets Updated

Bookshare's Read2Go app was recently updated with more features and better performance. If you are unfamiliar with Bookshare click here. The Read2Go app allows Bookshare members to download books directly their iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Once books are downloaded you can read them using built in text-to-speech. For more on Read2Go click here and here. One new feature in the update enables the app to handle larger books including text books. Another useful feature allows the audio to keep reading even if your device is locked or Read2Go is in the background. Yet another feature enables schools to transfer books to Read2Go via  iTunes. Read2Go is available in  the App Store for $19.99. Read2Go is a must have app for Bookshare members who wanted a portable way to read their books. To read the release notes click read more below.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Voice Recording in Office 2010 & 2007

A feature in OneNote 2010 and 2007 allows users to take audio or video content while taking notes. The feature allows a student to make an audio recording of a lecture while still taking notes. The audio or video notes are then available for playback from within the notebook. The audio and video notes are time coded and allow you to hear what  the teacher was saying when you wrote a particular sentence. The functionality is similar to the function of Word for Mac 2011 and the Livescribe pen. OneNote is included in  Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 and 2010. Watch the videos above to learn more.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

List of Free Assistive Technology

The National Center on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has a compiled a list of free assistive technology devices and services. To see the list click here. The list includes information about free text-to-speech, voice recognition, audio books, writing tools and much more. The list is perfect for parents, students and teachers looking for free assistive technology. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

ZoomReader Giveaway!

ZoomReader is an fantastic OCR and magnifier app for iPhone 4. To read all about ZoomReader click here. Two promo codes will be posted to the blog within the next 24 hours. Keep checking back for the code because the first person to enter the code into iTunes will win. If you do not win the first code check back for the last code latter. ZoomReader is a $19.99 in the app store. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

App Store List of Special Education Apps

A new category added to the iTunes store shows off special education apps for many differnet learners. The apps are sorted by categories including communication, hearing, vision, literacy and more. The list can help teachers and students find applications to fit their needs easily. To find the list go to the app store and then click on education apps, finally click on the special education image seen above. The apps included in the list are only the tip of the iceberg for special education apps in the app store. If you do not find an app to fit your needs keep looking. Click here for another list of assistive technology apps for iOS. For more assistive technology apps click read more below.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Intel Reader Vs. ZoomReader

The Intel Reader and ZoomReader can both help people read. Both OCR printed text and then read the text aloud. The ZoomReader has more features then the Intel Reader. In my test the ZoomReader app recognized and read the text faster then the Intel Reader. To download the ZoomReader app click here. Watch the video above for more information.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Long Division and Long Multiplication Apps Help Math Students (Giveaway)

The Long Division and Long Multiplication apps for iOS walk students through math concepts step by step. The apps help students master new concepts and improve on old skills.  Both apps are $1.99 in the iTunes App store. Long Division iTunes link. Long Multiplication iTunes link.  These apps are only two in a series of 18 math help apps. The other apps can be found here. If you or someone you know needs help learning a math concept these apps are a great resource.

Check back on this blog within the 24 hours for promo codes for free copies of Long Multiplication and Long Division. The reader who enters the codes into iTunes first will win a free copy. The are three promo codes for each app so if you miss the first one check back latter for another chance.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ZoomReader Review (Giveaway)

ZoomReader is a combination of a text-to-speech reader, OCR (optical character recognition) reader and zoom magnifier. The app is compatible with the iPhone 4. ZoomReader can help people with many disabilities and challenges including low vision, blindness and dyslexia. The app uses the iPhone 4's camera to magnify printed text up to four times its original size to allow people with low vision to better see the text. ZoomReader can also change the contrast when the iPhone is held over the text to make it easier to read. ZoomReader also includes a lighting fast OCR feature that converts printed text into electronic text that can be read aloud. If you are unfamiliar with OCR click here. Once the text is converted to a digital format it can be read aloud by an included text-to-speech voice.

One tip for improving the OCR quality is to turn on the camera flash. You can also add new text-to-speech voices for $2.99. The app has many customization options that allow you to change the appearance of the reading experience. Another killer feature is the voice activation powered by Nuance. To turn on speech activation touch the microphone in the top left. The voice activation feature allows you to take pictures and zoom in on text with the sound of your voice. For example you can say "take picture" to snap a picture of a document. To learn more about Nuance's accurate speech-to-text engine click here. The ZoomReader app is perfect for people with low vision, dyslexia or blindness. The app is $19.99 in the iTunes app store.

Two lucky winners can win this app for free by checking back on this site for giveaway information and promo codes. Watch my video review above for a demonstration. Click read more below to see screen shots and how to videos. Do not forget to check the Assistive Technology Blog in the next few days for giveaway details.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vibrating Alarm Clocks Help the Hearing Impaired

Alarms are very important to wake people up. People with hearing impairments can not hear when the alarm goes off. Luckily there are vibrating alarm clocks to wake hearing up people with hearing impairments. There are many models of vibrating alarm clocks at a variety of prices. One option is the Shake-N-Wake vibrating alarm clock which is worn on the wrist. The clock and vibrator are all small enough to wear on your wrist. The Shake-N-Wake alarm clock is $19.99. There are many other options for people who need vibrating alarm clocks. To shop for more click here.