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The iPad Is Accessible to People with Disabilities By John M. Williams
What is the essence of Apple’s iPad? I believe this unique tablet is a new way to view media.The iPad results from high-end hardware, superior designing ingenuity and the power of touch screen technology. Recently, I had an opportunity to test the iPad for three days. A visually-impaired friend of mine loaned it to me. He wanted my opinion of it. I love this upgraded version of Apple’s iPod. The iPad is accessible to people with disabilities. I applaud Apple for being aware of implementing accessibility features. These features include support for playback of closed-captioned content, a voice over screen reader, full-screen zoom magnification, white on black display and audio. Therefore the iPad is accessible to people who are blind, visually-impaired, deaf, hard-of-hearing, and cognitively challenged. I see a market for seniors, also. The iPad is extremely easy to use and very, very sensitive to touch. Users with disabilities can view whole pages in portrait or landscape on the Multi-Touch screen with vibrant color and sharp text at a size that’s actually readable. When you rotate iPad to landscape, the page you are viewing rotates, too, and then expands to fit the display. Quadriplegics can let your fingers do the surfing. The iPad has a touch screen keyboard built right in. If you feel more comfortable using an external keyboard, you can buy an external one. There’s a flaw in using the built-in keyboard for text input. Although the Pages app is a powerful word processor app, the virtual keyboard, though spacious, doesn’t suit touch typists. For a lot of typing, you’ll need a separate keyboard. Most convenient are the plentiful Bluetooth keyboards which connect wirelessly. When I saw my first iPad, I was impressed by its smallness, and thinness... People with disabilities should be too. The screen is 9.7 inches measured diagonally. Weighing 1.5 pounds and 0.5 inch thin, you can use it anywhere. And a slight curve to the back makes it easy to pick up and comfortable to hold. I am fascinated by how sensitive to touch the iPad is. With just a slight fingertip touch, I was reading an off the shelf book, typing, checking email, looking at photos, playing music, browsing the web. The tasks seem endless and so quick. You can use iPad for up to 10 hours while surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching videos, or listening to music. While surfing the web on a 3G data network, you can get up to 9 hours of battery life. I forgot to charge the battery after nearly 10 hours, and it died. After a two hour charge, I was using it. The dock connector port on the bottom of iPad allows you to dock and charge it. It also lets you connect to accessories like the iPad Camera Connection Kit and the iPad Keyboard Dock. You’ll find many accessories designed to be compatible with the dock connector port. The iPad also comes with a headphone jack and a built-in microphone. The iPad supports English, French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, simplified Chinese and Russian. All iPad models come with built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi. If you want to extend your network coverage further, choose iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G and sign up for access to 3G data service.The IPad will also be available in a 3G model with superfast data speeds up to 7.2 Mbps. The iPad Case acts as a stand that holds the iPad at an angle for watching videos and slideshows or for typing on the onscreen keyboard. The iPad has other flaws. It is difficult to use outside when the sun is bright.I had to shade the screen with my hat. You can’t use it for multi-tasking. It does not have a built-in camera. Future versions should have multi-tasking capabilities and a built-in camera. The iPad price starts at $499 and rises to more than $800. These are fair prices. I would label the iPad as an assistive technology product. John M. Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Media and the Health Care Coverage By John M. Williams The press’s coverage of the health care battle has been so devoid of thoughtful questions when it comes to politicians that I wonder whether reporters and moderators are thinking or whether they are afraid to ask tough questions. Making healthcare affordable, portable and universal are absolutely necessary goals to containing escalating medical costs and strengthening our economy. And raising our standard of living. Most of the press recognizes these dire conditions challenging the country. For months and months, I have heard Republican politicians tear down the health care systems in Canada, Britain and Germany. The medical systems in these countries have been crucified by Republicans for rationing healthcare. And yet, I have never heard a reporter or moderator ask a politician: “Senator or Congressman, have you had any experience or have you ever received any medical care from any of these countries?” If the answer is yes then you have to ask, “What was your experience? What was it a good experience? Was it unpleasant?” I am guessing they will say, “I have never had any experience with medical care in those countries?” If they have not had any experience then how can they call it awful? They are making negative comments on an area they do not know anything about. They should be questioned about their knowledge of the healthcare delivery systems in these countries. A follow up question to the politician is, “Would you say that the Canadians, English and Germans love freedom and Democracy and despise tyranny?” If the answer is the Canadians, English and Germans love freedom and Democracy and oppose tyranny, “Then why aren’t they uprising against their socialized medicine programs?” Why aren’t they upset because a government bureaucrat is working with them and their doctor?Where is the proof from politicians that the private sector offers better medical services than the public sector? I know people from Canada, England, Germany, Italy and Germany and they do not want the American style healthcare system in their countries. In their countries, people aren’t denied healthcare based on a pre-existing condition. In their countries, people do not have to make a choice between medicine and other life essentials. In their countries, the price of medical care is not capped.In their countries, while you have to wait to see a specialist, we have to wait here to see a specialist. While medical services in their countries may be rationed, we ration medical care hourly here. Research has shown that 45,000 people die annually in this country because they lack health insurance. If this callousness is not rationing, cruel and murder then what is? Reporters and moderators should be grilling CEOs of health insurance on why they allow people to die because of lack of insurance while they have theirs? Governments should be investigating whether harmful decisions not to insure people who die because of lack of medical treatment constitute murder. If I knowingly hit someone while driving my car and drive away and that person dies, I can be charged with causing that person’s death. On the other hand, if I work for an insurance company and I refuse to cover the medical treatment of a person, or persons, whose life depends on it and the person dies, my company and I profit, and I am not culpable. I am rewarded. Why? Republicans are excellent at following the party line. They say they do not want socialized medicine, and so I am waiting to hear a reporter ask, “Then why not do away with Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA healthcare?” A follow up question is, “What would you replace these programs with?” When I hear politicians say a government bureaucrat should not get between a patient and his doctor, I am waiting to hear this question, “A private sector bureaucrat gets between a doctor and his patient now, and the bureaucrat is concerned not with the health of the patient but with saving money. Why do you want to perpetuate a system of rationing that often denies people medical care and maybe even kills them? A government bureaucrat would probably be more concerned about care then money. Therefore, who is providing the better service?” When reporters and moderators fail to probe for answers they are not doing their jobs. They are not serving their communities. Rather, they are serving the politicians who are serving the private sector whose only goal is to make all the money they can, even when their policies maim, disabled and kill people.
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I have so many observations starting with CSUN which is where my son teaches art history and archaeology. We have had discussions on introducing people with disabilities to archaeology using virtual assistive technologies to enhance the experience of being at my sons dig site in Turkey on the Black Sea [see the may 2001 front page article in National Geographic featuring my son]. I have proposed the concept of enhanced experiences through an Internet interactive video conference hook-up to my son Owen IV [same name]. This past year, he taught a summer class to students at CSUN from his dig site in Sinope Turkey using Elluminate, an Internet interactive video conference and teaching tool. I observed his class and thought to myself, so all things are possible. All it takes is inertia and vision.
With respect to your personal experience with MS, I drew a parallel to my disability experience with stroke survival where most all the same disabling events happened to me, but much faster. My experience with rehabilitation therapy was eye opening as to what I viewed as misdirected competency stirred together with a total failure and lack in competency to address the real world issues of patients, especially those focused on returning to work. As an example, one would think that occupational therapy would prepare one for fine tuning through vocational rehabilitation. To my shock, the OT's taught toiletry, kitchen and dining skills. I quickly let them know that this is not all that I needed to be rehabilitated. What I wanted was for them to redirect and adapt my lost work skills using assistive technology to accommodate the plan that I was formulating to restructure my consulting firm. I was forming a game plan to bring my 30 year old consulting firm back to life using an Internet based a virtual business paradigm. My plan was met with blank stares from professionals who had no concept of what I was talking about. Imagine if O.T's were taught to be skilled in Assistive Technology that focused on issues beyond the basic survival skills. With skill prepared consumers, Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellors could focus on consumer return to work plans beginning on day one rather than causing consumers to wait months and in some instances years before returning to work. Using this paradigm, the health care industry would be required to fairly share in the cost of vocational rehabilitation.
In my 12 year hiatus with life changing disability [I have a birth disability, dyslexia that I adjusted to as a child.] As an adult, I noticed a serious disconnect between disability communities in communicating the capabilities of Assistive Technology [AT] to other disability communities. I found myself searching the various disability community web sites for AT equipment and software that would bring my skills up to a competitive level. The VR system was of little help in that process, so I became a AT do it yourselfer. Also I noted a lack of collegiality and concern for the issues of other disability communities. There was an ingrained fear of sharing due to the lack of resources that the government parcelled out to each group.
For years, I have pitched in to help and advocated for the coming together in common cause of our currently diverse disability communities. It was my thought that what could be better than coming together as an extended family. In that way we will enable ourselves to acquire a thunderous political voice for the fair sharing of government resources, independent living facilities and vocational opportunities. The logic of a common cause 54 million voter strong voice opening windows everywhere throughout America and yelling "I'm mad as heck and I am going to do something about it" [exerpted from the movie Broadcast News] is so simple in concept to visualize. Imagine if we all, in unison, chose to row the boat of change in the same direction. Imagine still, everyone pulling within their ability, what we could realize and fulfill for the entire disability community. Wouldn't that be something to would give politicians, government agencies and service providers pause. Because, as I see it, we are currently settling for thoroughly picked bones with nary an ort of meat in sight. We don't even qualify for table scraps. Thus in closing I simply ask, can we get together, all of us in coalition without private agendas or is the dream of work, fare wage, good services and a voice in our lives beyond the scope of realization?
OWEN DOONAN III Chairman of the Board THE-Group [The Handi-CAPABLE Executive Group]
Dear Mr. Williams,
Thank you so much for your "call to action" on the increasing needs for assistive technology by our returning veterans. It's so frustrating to see all the stories of injured vets and know there are services and technologies available to help them and they aren't being given the information to access them.
I wanted to make one comment/suggestion for when you receive these calls. Sometimes it is helpful to let people know that they should receive a competent evaluation for the most appropriate device or technology for them. I know in the work we do with wheelchairs, communication technology, and adapted computer technology that there are many devices on the market and they all meet different, yet similar, needs. Going to a clinic or center where one can look at several different options (preferably one that doesn't actually sell the devices themselves) and try them out helps get a more objective view of what's out there that might work for someone and often also provides the customization and training on the devices that the manufacturers can't always provide. I'm really not trying to promote our rehab center specifically (although we do stand ready to assist adults and adolescents with disabilities needing assistive technology), but to help people get the right technology. I can't tell you how many times people come to our center with technology that doesn't quite fully meet their needs, and once they have received an evaluation from AT specialists they comment that they wish someone had told them about evaluation services before they got their devices. There are centers around the country that serve both children and adults, private citizens as well as veterans - and who can provide the objective evaluations that would be helpful.
I was quite interested to read also that you are the person we should thank for the term "assistive technology"! You introduced that term right about the time I was getting involved in AT for people with complex communication needs - for some reason I thought the term was always out there!! Thank you! All the best,
Linda A. Meyer, Ph.D., CCC-SLP Director, Communication Services Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center Fishersville, VA 22939-1500 Phone: 540.332.7086 or 800.345.9972, ext. 7086 Email: L.A.Meyer@wwrc.virginia.gov FAX: 540.332.7288 Web: http://wwrc.virginia.gov/
Hi, I worked with children with blindness and other visual problems and taught teachers to work with them. The Kurzweil machine is very, very helpful. Many thanks for your excellent report.
I just came across your article on tech news. I was 62 and retired when I got my speecheasy. I was a severe stutterer and it completely changed my life. I became 99 percent fluent, what a thrill it was to order food at a drive up.
Bill & Teresa
I have been following your writings and wonderful advocacy for Assistive Technology for years. This issue of ATechNews, however, got my blood boiling - I just can't help but complain about something regarding the article, "Political News: Barack Obama." Shame, shame! Your political bias is showing! Where are similar articles for Hillary and for John McCain? Please - Be fair! Thank you.
Sincerely, Carol A. Sheredos, PT, MA
I bring your stuff into my class, Disability in Society, where we discuss the issues of the day. Be assured that my students will see this piece and any others that add value to the course as (we) explore issues concerning advocacy.
Joseph A. Panza, Ed.D. Associate Professor Department of Recreation & Leisure Services Undergraduate Program Coordinator Southern CT State University, School of Health & Human Services
Your columns have always been one of the first emails I have read back since back when you wrote for Business Week.
I am a disabled Vietnam Veteran and have been hard of hearing for 40 years. I have a masters degree in deaf education and have worked in outreach and training for people with hearing loss for most of that time. For the last 10 years I have worked as the outreach training coordinator at the Arizona Technology Access Program.
When people from Arizona contact you with questions regarding assistive technology for hearing loss, and for all disabilities for that matter, feel free to refer them to me. As a tech act program and as part of Northern Arizona University our services are free. We have a growing AT lab here in Phoenix and on campus in Flagstaff.
As you mentioned in a recent column many Iraq war vets are returning home with sensory impairments. It has been my experience, and you alluded to it in your column, that most counselors and rehab specialists don't know much if anything about sensory AT, especially hearing assistance technology. I can't tell you why but it seems many of these same professionals aren't getting the training and information that they know they don't have.
For late deafened adults and oral deaf a product I very much like is the UbiDuo from SComm. I saw it a year ago at a Deaf Expo in Salt Lake City. It was brand new. We bought one for our program. It works well for people who don't sign. Vocational Rehabilitation in Arizona has 10 of them. I have tried to get the VA Hearing Clinic here to purchase the device but I have been unsuccessful. I was also unsuccessful at getting them to allow me to leave fliers for the Federal CapTel telephone program for which all vets were eligible. (That free CapTel distribution program has sadly ended.)
I'd be happy to respond to any questions or comments that you might have now or in the future. I prefer email.
Keep telling it like it is. Your voice is critically important to all of us who have a disability and to those who will have one in the future.
Sincerely, Randy Collins S. Randall Collins Outreach/Training Coordinator Arizona Technology Access Program Northern Arizona University