Assistive Technology Webinars

 

webinar graphic

Are you looking for free expert training and advice is assistive technology?

Then consider signing up for a webinar.  There are lots of webinars available within various areas of assistive technology.  Some have a charge, but there are many freely available for anyone to take part in.

A webinar is a live meeting that takes place over the web.  The meeting can be a presentation, discussion, demonstration, or an instructional session.  Participants can view documents and applications via their computers, while join in the discussion by audio or via a live Q&A text area.

Many assistive technology suppliers and organisations are using webinars as a way to share information.  Below are a list of a few online webinars that you can register on or listen to archived sessions.

Inclusive technology

http://www.inclusive.co.uk/events/webinars

The Great Lakes ADA Center’s

http://www.ada-audio.org/Webinar/AccessibleTechnology/Schedule/#fy2015Session6

ATIA Online Professional Development

http://www.atia.org/i4a/member_directory/feResultsListing.cfm?directory_id=8&viewAll=1

Don Johnston Incorporated

http://donjohnston.com/webinars/#.VecAe_lViko

AbleNet University Live Webinars

https://www.ablenetinc.com/resources/live_webinars/

Iowa Assistive Technology Professional Development Network

https://www.education.uiowa.edu/centers/icater/webinars

Flipmouse – Open Source computer input device

The Flipmouse (pictured above and below) is one of the outcomes of the AsteRICS project. AsTeRICS (Assistive Technology Rapid Integration & Construction Set) – (asterics.eu) – was an EU funded project that ran from 2010 to 2013 whose goal was to create a free and Open-Source construction set for assistive technologies (AT).  We will look at the AsTeRICS software in more detail in a later post, this post is concerned with an innovative open source alternative computer input device called the Flipmouse whose complete build instructions will soon be available on the related AsTeRICS Academy site
(asterics-academy.net/).
Flipmouse showing 1)Reset switch (for software updates) 2)Internal switch (Button1) Man using Flipmouse to control a computer

The FLipMouse – alternative computer input device is a combined Joystick, Spi&puff and Switch interface. By combining three established input methods in one device this innovative computer access solution could offer efficient computer access to a range of people with significant physical disabilities.

Labeled photo of Flipmouse: “Hygienic Stick”, can be used with fingers or as a mouthpiece. 3 indicator LEDs (red, yellow, green) 3.5mm jack plug connectors for external switches (Button2 and Button3)

The hardware features of the FLipMouse include (taken from Flipmouse User Manual) :

  • “Zero-way”-joystick (requires very little force to operate) / mouthpiece:
    • very low forces are sufficient to create up/down/left/right movement.
    • can be used with fingers or toes etc.
    • can also be used as a mouthpiece (actuated by lips / mouth movements).
    • If desired, sip / puff activities into the mouthpiece can trigger additional functions.
  • One function selection switch, to change the active configuration of function.
  • Two 3.5mm jack plug sockets for attaching external switches to trigger additional functions.
  • 3 Indicator Leds for showing the active configuration, calibration procedure etc.
  • Additional upgrade modules for future extensions (e.g. universal infrared remote control).
  • Firmware upgrade via Arduino IDE (the reset button is only needed for this purpose).

Users can interact with the FLipMouse in several ways:

  • by touching the mouthpiece with the lips or fingers and applying small forces in vertical or horizontal direction.
  • by increasing or reducing pressure in the mouthpiece (puffing or sipping).
  • by actuating (up to) 3 momentary switches.
  • if desired, a longer plastic tube can be attached to the pressure sensor so that the joystick can be used with a finger and a separate mouthpiece allows sip/puff control.
  • With the FlipMouse GUI application, the functional mappings of the user interactions to desired mouse- or keyboard activities can be defined and stored in the FLipMouse’s memory. The settings stay saved also when the power supply / USB cable is removed. When the FLipMouse is plugged in the next time, the settings will be available – also if you use another computer or operating system.

The FLipMouse offers multiple internal memory slots to store different functional mappings that can be used with different applications or tasks.

Detailed build instructions should be available soon from the following URL however the software and user manual can be downloaded now.  asterics-academy.net/tools/flip

Switch Assessment Webinar

webinarComing up tomorrow is a free online webinar hosted by AbleNet University. These webinars are free and provide good practical information on a range of Assistive Technology topics.

Date 10th February 2015 at 11:00am CST (or 17:00 hrs. GMT) – 60 minutes.
Title: Switch Assessment, Part 1: Determining the best switch type and location for clients with muscle weakness
This Webinar will present assessment strategies to determine the optimal switch location and switch type to provide access for clients with muscle weakness.

If you can’t make this one, you can keep an eye on AbleNet University’s Upcoming Live Webinars.

Also on switch assessment which is worth having a look at, is the ACE Centre (North)’s publication on Switch Assessment and Planning Framework for Individuals with Physical Disabilities

Android Switch Access

Android Switch AccessSwitch access is now available in the new version of Android Lollipop version 5. This feature is design for people with limited access to the touch screen. Using externally connected switches a user can navigate around the home screen of the tablet, open apps, and navigate between clickable objects on the screen.  Within the accessibility settings you can choose options to use a single switch with auto scanning or two switches with step scanning.   There are also new features to improve the contrast of text and options to assist people who are colour blind.

A number of blue tooth switches and keyboards that can be used such as the Blue2 switch from AbleNet. Keys or switches can be assigned to actions such as start auto scan, click, long click, home, back etc. To get switch access started you need to first pair a bluetooth switch or keyboard and also enable Switch Access under accessibility.

A useful guide for setting up your new Android tablet is available from AbleNet.