Exciting New Assistive Technology Alternatives

Exciting developments in the field of Assistive Technology include lower cost or free alternatives, and the ability to use mainstream products in place of expensive devices designed specifically for people with disabilities.

Here are two examples of free or lower cost alternatives to expensive assistive technology products:

1) Microsoft has developed the Office Lens Reader, a free app that can be used in place of the KNFB Reader. The Office Lens Reader is an app that uses your mobile phone’s camera to scan printed material and then read it aloud. For now, the Office Lens Reader is only available on IOS devices. For more information about the Office Lens Reader, click on this link: http://www.rsbc.org.uk/blogs/microsoft-office-lens-review-an-accessible-way-to-read-printed-documents/

2) Braille printers can be very expensive. Samsung has developed a Touchable Ink cartridge that will allow any commercial laser printer to create Braille. Although the Touchable Ink cartridge costs more than regular ink cartridges, most laser printers cost considerably less than a Braille printer: thousands of dollars for a Braille printer versus around one hundred dollars for a laser printer. For more information about the Touchable Ink cartridge, click here: https://www.geek.com/tech/samsungs-touchable-ink-prints-braille-using-any-laser-printer-1673209/

AI Squared ends sales of Window Eyes

The popular screen reader Window Eyes will no longer be sold in the United States and Canada, effective immediately. AI Squared will be offering JAWS 18 as a replacement for Window Eyes.

For more information about the migration process from Window Eyes to JAWS, please click here: www.gwmicro.com/window-eyes/migrate/

Note, the free Window-Eyes Offer for Users of Microsoft Office version is not part of the conversion program.

2017 NDEAM Poster Art Competition: Deadline 5/31/17

Each year the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities features an art competition for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The poster is distributed free to the public and businesses. The artwork must be an original composition created by a Texan with a disability.

For more information about this competition, including the entry form and submission guidelines, please click here: http://gov.texas.gov/disabilities/ndeam/ndeam_poster/

The deadline for submissions is May 31, 2017. The winner will be announced on June 21, 2017. The winner will also be a special guest at the annual Lex Frieden Employment Awards ceremony in October.

There is no fee to enter this competition.

IBUG offers Android training May 31, 2017

IBUG, a Houston-based group that provides free iPhone training, is now branching out to include Android training. Raul Gallegos, an assistive technology trainer, will conduct the first conference call about Android devices and the Google operating system.

What: Android device training
When: Wednesday, May 31, 2017, at 7:30 pm Central Time
Where: conference call
Conference dial-in number: (712) 432-0111
Participant access code: 787800#
NOTE: This is NOT a toll-free call.
While on the call, please use *6 to toggle mute/unmute on your phone.

For more information, contact Raul Gallegos at 832-554-7285 or send an e-mail to raul@raulgallegos.com

For information about IBUG, visit the web site at www.ibugtoday.com

Presentation about Non 24 in Dallas

Non 24 is a sleep disorder that affects some people who are totally blind. The condition can make you feel sleepy during the day and can make it difficult for you to sleep through the night. The AFB Center on Vision Loss is offering a 45 minute presentation about Non 24. The seminar is free, and lunch is included. Attendees will also have the option for a private consultation.

Here are the details:
What: Non 24 presentation
When: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.
Where: American Foundation for the Blind Center on Vision Loss, 11030 Ables Lane, Dallas
RSVP to: Neva Fairchild: e-mail neva@afb.net or call 214-438-5316
Cost: free


GoGoGrandparent is a transportation service available throughout the United States and Canada that works with existing Transportation Network Companies (TNC’s) such as Uber and Lyft to provide transportation options for seniors.

One difference with GoGoGrandparent, besides the fact that it is specifically for seniors, is that you don’t use a smartphone app like most companies. Once you sign up for the service, you call 855-464-6872 or 855-GOGO-USA when you need a ride. Rides may be scheduled a day in advance, but the preference is to call about 15 minutes before you want to be picked up from a location. Prices can be higher during peak travel times.

The vehicles used are four door sedans and individuals must be able to transfer independently from folding wheelchairs or with the use of walkers. Payment is made by a credit card kept on file, so no money is exchanged with the driver. Seniors may go wherever they wish and up to 100 miles away; they are not limited only to doctor appointments or shopping. In addition, seniors may take people with them; there is a limit of four passengers per vehicle.

For more information, visit https://gogograndparent.com/
An FAQ is available at: https://gogograndparent.com/faq

NOTE: Gogograndparent is not available in all areas. The web site allows you to put in your zip code to determine if you have access to the service.

State Independent Living Council Virtual Conversations

The Texas State Independent Living Council (SILC) will be hosting a series of virtual conversations on various topics related to independent living.

The first webinar will be on Friday, May 5th, from 2 – 3 pm Central time, and will feature a discussion about emergency preparedness. The presenters for this webinar will be Ron Lucey, Executive Director of the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, and Danielle Hesse with the Texas Disability Task Force on Emergency Management.

This virtual discussion is free and open to the public. To register, please click on the following link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3309752482715138307

Topics for future virtual conversations in this series have not yet been announced.

Upcoming Events: AFB Center on Vision Loss

Here are three upcoming events sponsored by the AFB Center on Vision Loss in Dallas:

1) The seminar entitled: Balance: Getting Back to Basics has been re-scheduled.
New date: Thursday, April 20th
Time: noon – 3 pm
Location: AFB Center on Vision Loss, 11030 Ables Lane in Dallas
RSVP to: Neva Fairchild at neva@afb.net or call 214-438-5316
Lunch will be provided.

2) The Balance Intervention Study has also been re-scheduled
New dates: Thursday, April 20th, or Friday, April 21st, by appointment, for pre-test assessments
Location: AFB Center on Vision Loss, 11030 Ables Lane in Dallas
Contact: Neva Fairchild at neva@afb.net or 214-438-5316
This study consists of a 12 week training program designed for individuals who are 55 years or older and have vision loss. Study participants will have access to balance equipment and Tai Chi classes. Pre and post tests will be conducted.

3) Free self-defense class for the visually-impaired community
Date: Friday, April 28th
Time: 10 am
Location: Grand Room, Sedona Village Senior Living, 2800 Sedona Ranch Drive in Fort Worth
RSVP to: Terry at 940-206-6829
This specialized class is specifically for individuals who use white canes.

Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Mentor Program

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation offers a Peer & Family Support Program for individuals who have paralysis and their families or caregivers. The foundation matches persons who have been newly paralyzed, or are having difficulty copying with their condition, with individuals who can act as peer mentors.

The organization strives to match people who live close to each other and are similar in traits such as age, gender, ethnicity, cause of paralysis, and level of injury. If no one can be found that lives nearby, the mentor may communicate with an individual by phone, e-mail, or Skype.

To get started, contact the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation at 800-539-7309, or use the form available at: https://www.christopherreeve.org/get-support/get-a-peer-mentor

AGE of Central Texas Services

AGE, which stands for Austin Groups for the Elderly, provides a variety of free and fee-based services for elderly individuals and their families / caregivers in Central Texas.

Fee-based service:
AGE operates two adult day care centers, one in Austin and one in Round Rock

Free services:
Health Equipment Lending Program
AGE library / online resources
Quarterly ENGAGE newsletter
Personal consultations
Computer classes for seniors
Monthly caregiver support groups in Austin and Round Rock
Annual caregiver conferences in Austin and Round Rock
Caregiver U classes, for caregivers and seniors, in Bastrop, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties
Caregiver seminars and workshops, which are usually held four or five times per year

For more information on this beneficial resource, please contact AGE: