Accessing Print on the Fly with Mobile Devices and Apps with OCR and Text to Speech

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Apps with text to speech are nothing new. Many apps with text to speech are available for mobile devices to access print on the fly for individuals with visual, learning or cognitive disabilities as may be required in a academic , home setting or in the community. Among the plethora of apps here are a few apps I frequently recommend  to post secondary students and adults with disabilities that need to access print on the fly due to the accuracy of the OCR, fast processing and simplicity of use. Certainly, OCR accuracy is dependent on many factors (hand steadiness, quality of original print, lighting, mobile device camera) however here are just a couple of favorite apps that can be used to quickly take a picture, process with OCR and listen to access:

knfb-reader-iconKNFB Reader (iOS; $99.00 for iPhone/ iPad, Android ). A rather expensive app, however for individuals with a visual impairment, this app provides some of the best OCR and fast scanning and conversion to audio around. It is forgiving and can OCR, some of the smallest print ( 6 point font or less). Scanning a single page or by batch for multiple page OCR is a fast process and even if you import is sideways it will be recognized. When scanning, auditory feedback for orientation is supplied to the user. Features of the app allow scanned text to be read automatically, allows reading in the background, word highlighting and over 19 different recognition languages and over 20 different text to speech languages. For individuals with visual impairment this is an app I frequently recommend given they own a mobile device. .

claro-scanpen-reader-iconClaro ScanPen Reader app (6.99 for iPhone/iPad, Android) – Claro apps are among my favorite apps for their functionality and reasonable cost. Claro ScanPen Reader app is one of their newer apps which primarily  OCR’s images and provides a simple means of reading using text to speech. Tools are limited, but provides a simple, easy method of touch to start text to speech which highlights the text when read aloud. You can move through the text by touching the lines of text to activate. Text to speech modes include word, line and “all”. Seven text highlighting colors are offered. Add on voices in other languages are available for $1.99/voice. I find the scanning is accurate, simple and easy to complete.  The only controls in the app are a X to close the page and the Setting app for choices of voice, voice rate, selection mode and highlight color as aforementioned.

Accuracy when scanning is dependent on numerous factors as above mentioned. Claro software provides suggestions for using images and scanning text on their website post “Tips for Taking Photos on iPhone and iPad”. Although this article may be geared to the Claro app, the tips apply generally to taking pictures for use with OCR apps.

Apps with OCR and text to speech tools providing on demand access to print are just one of many assistive technology tools that can level the playing field for individuals with disabilities. Many other low tech to high tech tools provide reading supports for individuals with disabilities.

What are your favorite mobile device apps for on demand access of print?

More for your OT eTool Kit.

Carol

 

Posted in Android, App Reviews, Apps for Special Needs, Assistive Technology, Dyslexia, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Learning Disability, Low Vision/ Blindness, Reading, Text to Speech, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

LED Handrails for the Visually Impaired

There are a many exciting  innovations emerging for individuals with low vision and blindness, from environmental supports to sophisticated new wearables. The Assistive Technology Daily shares LED handrails that can guide the traveler in the direction of the walkway or stairs in this case.

LED Handrails Collar Assembly Zoon Designs’ LED handrails are both a clever and surprisingly obvious way to light up a staircase. Named the Blind Handrail they are conceived to replace area lighting and put it where it is needed the most. The concept handrails even can be many colors, making the lowly stair well one…

via LED Handrails for the Visually Impaired  — The Assistive Technology Daily

HT to The Assistive Technology Daily for their share of everything AT!

Carol

Posted in Accessibility, Activities of Daily Living, Low Vision/ Blindness, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

iPhone Case System with Swappable Modules – An Option for AAC Users?

Otterbox cases have been the mobile device case choice for most of our clients mobile device recommendations. Otterbox cases provide a protection, good quality yet remain somewhat slim.  Of course their is never a one size fits all for our clients pending their needs, however we have had success with Otterbox cases.

One of Otterbox’s newer cases is the Universe Case System, offering protection along with swappable modules to the base case for iPhones (i6, i6 Plus). For those clients who are using a mobile device as an AAC device, battery life, volume/speaker output can be a concern depending on phone use, other services utilized and the environment.

The Universe Case System for iPhones (6, 6 Plus, 7) for $38.21 at Amazon provides modular components that can be easily added or removed to the outside case.

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Among the swappable components is a battery charger, speaker and USB storage module that could be easily added as needed. Polar Pro Powerpack Extended Battery module (49.99):

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PolarPro BeatPulsar Compact Speaker module (49.99) can also be added to the case, providing sound amplification is in large or noisy environment.

otterbox-universe-speaker                     otterbox-universe-speaker-2

PolarPro Trial Blase Armband for the Otterbox Universe Case is also a positioning option  for individuals with motor challenges  (29.99).

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Additional modules can be added such as a card wallet, camera lens and armband to the base case. Although the components can add up in cost, the  Otterbox Otterbox Universe Case system is a protective case that can offer functional components for individuals  with disabilities on an as needed basis. I see this case as an strong option for those with AAC needs for the speaker system if working in a noisy area.

I have not yet had the opportunity to trial the Universe case, however am looking forward to working with the next one ordered.

Have you used the new Universe case by Otterbox?

More for your OT eTool Kit!

Carol

 

 

 

 

Posted in Accessibility, Accessories, Assistive Technology, Augmentative Communication, iPhone, Mobile Device Use, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Holiday Apps for Preschoolers

Here are a few apps that provide some preschool educational or mobile app touch learning with a holiday theme. Certainly there are more, however these are currently free (time line for free is unknown…). Whether for learning shapes, focused attention, language or motivation, these apps might be considered for your eTool Kit if you are working with preschool children.

tiggly-christmas-pictTiggly Christmas app (free; iOS) has a Christmas theme while working on shape recognition. Can be used with or without the Tiggly Shapes.

 

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Bogga Christmas Tree app (free; iOS and .99 for Android ) presents a Christmas tree to decorate suited to young children

 

toca-hair-salon-christmas

  Toca Boca Hair Salon Christmas Gift app (free; iOS) is a fun game for all ages.

 

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Cookie Doodle (.99; iOS ) a classic app for cookie creating and engagement on an iPad for developing touch control and language.

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Make Cookies app (free; Android) A simple cookie making app for android.

 

Do you have seasonal apps you use with young children?

Carol

 

 

Posted in Apps for OT's, Holiday and Special Events, iOS, iPad, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

iPhone 6 Armband for One Handed Access

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A client recently evaluated for his assistive technology needs required access to an AAC app to augment his communication using one hand and arm due to motor impairment of his non-dominant arm. The client has gross movements of their non-dominant hand and arm allowing functional positioning of that arm to his dominant hand and arm for visual and physical access, however a method of stable positioning was needed for use with his dominant hand and arm. An armband/wrist band was sought as a solution for a smartphone identified as the device to support the AAC app selected to support his communication needs. The evaluation was performed by this ATP specialist along with an SLP specializing in ACC due to the clients multiple needs of communication and computer access.

Thanks to the research by the speech and language pathologist, the following Tunebelt arm band, available for iPhone 6 plus and iPhone 6, was identified which manages the iPhone and accommodates a variety of protective cases frequently applied to the iPhone:

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This Tunebelt arm band is available for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus as well as a wide variety of other smartphones and models. As advertised, the arm band also accommodates a variety of cases applied to iPhone 6 or 6 Plus accommodating protective cases often applied to these smart phones (Otterbox, LifeProof, etc.) as seen below.

wrist-band-for-iphone-6-plus

The AB92 model accommodates the iPhone 6 with case ( as well as other smart phone with cases as shown above) and AB89 model accommodates the iPhone 6 and 6S with case (as well as other smart phones with cases) as shown below.

wrist-band-for-iphone-6

Although lanyards and holders can be used for managing small, handheld devices with AAC devices  (such as iPhone, iPods, Android phones) who have use of two hands. For those using one hand and some movement with their non-dominant arm, a wrist band can allow easy access to their communication. An extension strap is also available for the armband that could allow accommodations for coats or those with large builds.

Other solutions previously explored including lanyard options can be found at:

iPhone Lanyards Options for Security

More for your OT eTool Kit.

Carol from OT’s with apps.

 

 

 

Posted in Accessibility, Accessories, Android, Android Management, Assistive Technology, Augmentative Communication, Communicaton, iPhone, iPod, iPod/iPad Accessory, Mobile Device Use, Mobility Impairment, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

15 Easy Ways to Make Your Commute More Productive

It’s easy to think of commuting as a total waste of time. When you’re standing on the train platform or waiting at a traffic light, every minute that ticks by can seem like a minute los…

Source: 15 Easy Ways to Make Your Commute More Productive

Reblogged from Steve Johnson’s website post, 15 Easy Ways to Make Your Commute More Productive , there are productivity apps and tips for everyone, even if you don’t commute. On days when I am evaluating AT needs for clients, I can spend hours in the car. Although I find it takes some organization before the trip to access these resources safely by voice, it can make the time productive while stuck in the car. Steve shares familiar and new apps that can aid with productivity.

Thank you to Steve Johnson for these productivity tips.

Carol

Posted in Accessibility, Android, Assistive Technology, iOS, Organization | Leave a comment

Amazon Echo as an Accessibility Support — The Website of Luis Perez

 Luis Perez describes the features and function of the Amazon Echo and Dot as an accessibility support. Read his post Amazon Echo as an Accessibility Support for a thorough review on features he uses for access on the Amazon Dot and Amazon Echo devices using voice recognition and how he uses the Amazon Dot with Proloquo AAC app with a mobile device.

Amazon describes the Echo as a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa (Amazon’s answer to Siri, Cortana and other voice assistants) to play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms, and more. I had been wanting to try the Echo since its launch, but I was just not willing to pay the $180 for […]

via Amazon Echo as an Accessibility Support — The Website of Luis Perez

The AT community is fortunate for Luis’ website which shares his expertise. Thank you again to Luis for his expertise!

Carol

Posted in Accessibility, Adults, Android, Apps for OT's, Assistive Technology, Environmental Control, iADL's, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Mobile Device Use, Mobility Impairment, Voice Recognition | Leave a comment