The Livescribe Pens have been around since about 2010 offering a ink pen that scans what you write and records audio. It uses Livescribe’s specialized dot matrix note paper to synchronize the audio recorded with the handwriting notes you are writing. Nine years later this pen has undergone some model changes but essentially is the same pen and paper as from it’s inception. It is also still one of those handheld technologies that amazes student and parents often with comments “I wish I had that when I was in school”. The Livescribe Echo Pen continues to be a frequently chosen assistive tech tool to support note taking for students with disabilities who may have mobility, learning or cognitive challenges due to its typical handwriting method used by most students I meet.
The Livescribe Echo Pen has a variety of type of paper and accessories. While the accessories have been around for quite some time (and some have come and gone, e.g. dictionary app), I haven’t taken the opportunity to utilize one of the accessories such as the Sound Stickers. I am not sure why, since I have had some leftover stickers supplied to me several months ago. Recently an online classmate inquired about the Sound Stickers and their potential use for individuals with low vision. It was time to check out the stickers to see how well they worked and consider application to the variety of clients services as well as individuals with low vision.
Livescribe Sound Sticker Trial
The asynchronous online class I am enrolled in uses video presentations within the assigned modules. Power Point slides of the video content is provided which I print out on hard copy paper due to my preference for handwriting notes when reviewing the videos. Applying the Sound Stickers (3/4” circle stickers) to the PPT slide handouts was a simple process as well as starting the audio recording requiring tapping the pen on a paper based recording icon then tapping the sound sticker to record for an individual with vision. Taping the sound sticker a second time stopped the audio recording on the sticker. I then could immediately tap the sound sticker to listen to audio message recorded. Visual information on the Echo Pen’s LCD screen provided guidance to using the Sound Stickers. The process to complete the recording and viewing the stickers and icons require vision, at least with initial use due to the low contrast stickers and recording icon and small print LCD screen.
As a functional application for identification of objects I used the sound stickers on products around the house (different types of hair spray bottles, other hygiene and grooming items, canned goods, etc. ) to identify similar items or products using audio labels. While I could feel the stickers with careful tactile scanning and consistent placement, identification of these sticker by feel they would require adaptation for individuals with visual impairment using puffy paint or other tactile marking for ease of locating the stickers. Use of the recording icon would also need to be adapted with a tactile or high contrast marking to aid identification. Over all when locating the sticker and tapping with the pen, I was able to easily hear the recorded information identifying the object.
The Livescribe Sound Stickers comes in a pack of 1000 for approximately $20-25 and can be re-recorded. They are a great accessory if you own a pen, allowing recording of information when taking notes on standard paper such as handouts, study cards or even talking books. Multiple stickers can be placed on a paper/handout allowing recording or marking separate topics on a handout. The sound stickers also worked well to record information on real objects to aid identification, however if used by individuals with low vision, tactile markers and training on its use would aid locating the stickers, recording icon and sequence to record and play.
Alternatives to the Sound Stickers are Livescribe Sticky Notes offering small sticker notes that can be applied and recorded on.
If using this with individuals with low vision providing high contrast or tactile marking to them would be important. Although this pen would work for identifying objects (with tactile or high contrast adaptation), purchasing this pen for the sole purpose, might not be the most accessible tool as you need an additional icon to start the recording and the need to charge it using a micro USB, difficult to plug in for individuals with visual impairment.
Other tools for labeling are available for individual with low vision which provide tactile buttons for operations (recording, sound, etc.), are battery operated, have stickers with tactile qualities and may be less expensive. A few of the talking label tools to consider might include:
Reizen Talking Label Wand – Voice Labeling System ($88.74) A handheld device with tactile buttons/controls that are also high contrast. Labels which also are washable are included with the purchase of the device. The device stores 2 GB of recorded information.Additional labels are available for the Reizen wand
PenFriend2 Voice Labeling System (149.75). A handheld device with tactile buttons/controls. Simple on/off system of recording is easy to use. Labels are provided with purchase of the pen. The device stores 4 GB of recorded information.
Additional labels for the Penfriend2 can be purchased separately.
The Livescribe Echo Pen and Sound Stickers can be good tools for recording audio on paper handouts, create talking labels for books and objects or used for non-writers to record answers on worksheets or handouts. The Sound Stickers were found to be best suited to individuals with normal or near normal vision due to the low contrast stickers and recording icons, limited tactile quality and small, LCD screen providing instructions. With adaptations and training, the Echo Pen, Notebook and Sound Stick could be used by individuals with visual impairment however, other talking label devices are available that offer better accessibility to individuals with visual impairments such as the Reizen Talking Wand or PenFriend2 Voice Labeling System or PenFriend2 Voice Labeling System
Have you used Livescribe Sound Sticker for other than note taking?
More for your OT / AT Tool Kit!
Carol, OT’s with Apps and Technology