Get Speech Generating Devices Funded through Medical Insurance

ACCI has updated the funding section of our website

to streamline the process in helping you obtain Speech Generating Devices (SGDs) through medical insurance.

 

ACCI’s Funding Services Team can assist with submitting your request for our Speech Generating Devices, (SGD), and accessories, including our Apple-based ACCI Choice CommunicatorsTM. We are committed to keeping our customers informed of the funding process.

 

www.ACCIinc.com

                 

ACCI offers a wide selection of Assistive Technology and Special Needs Products.

 

 

   Augmentative Communication Consultants, Inc.
P. O. Box 731

   Moon Township, PA  15108

   (800) 982-2248
www.acciinc.com

   acci1@earthlink.net

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Autism Glass Project seeks recruits for clinical trial

Scientists at Stanford University, USA are seeking volunteers aged 6-16 with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to trial a device using wearable glasses that aims to help them recognise facial expressions and respond appropriately

According to an article in Wired, the Autism Glass Project developed from the work of Catalin Voss and others at Sension on an app built for Google Glass. This proved so successful it was sold to a Japanese company called GAIA System Solutions and is now being introduced into cars to alert drivers who eyes drift off the road or who appear drowsy.

Voss is now a member of the transdisciplinary team at Stanford behind the new device. Described as ‘a wearable behavioural aid’ it uses the outward facing camera on the glasses to read facial expressions and provides social cues within the child’s natural environment. It also records the amount and type of eye contact, which adds an additional layer for behavioural intervention.

The new devise has already been successfully tested on 40 individuals in a laboratory setting. The 100-person at-home study will consist of 80 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and 20 children who are typically developing. It will take place over a four-month period during which participants will use the device at home, with scheduled, periodic in-lab visits.

In the long-term the team hopes the device will provide an alternative to ‘intensive behavioural interventions that are often expensive, difficult to access and inconsistently administered.’ Volunteers can sign up on the Project site.

Sitecues® speech is now faster

Sitecues® speech is now faster, more multi-lingual, and more reliable. We have improved the text-to-speech engine for our enterprise-class web accessibility service. Sitecues now features nearly instantaneous speech, is delivered in 23 languages on the Amazon cloud, and includes new security measures. This upgrade is another step in our mission to create a more accessible and usable web.

Those of you who use sitecues regularly may have already noticed that speech is now considerably faster to initiate. Response times to the first word have decreased by 10x, and are now to the point where users will perceive no delay in speech initiation. From our usability testing we have also seen improvements in the accuracy and quality of speech. Collectively, these improvements will help users with learning disabilities and language challenges in their usage, comprehension and retention of websites. International audiences will also benefit, both from expanded multi-lingual capability and from faster in-region speech processing.

Some of the key features of sitecues speech cloud 2.0, include:

51 voices and 23 languages from Amazon’s Ivona
Greater speech accuracy and voice quality
Improved platform reliability
Increased scalability
Additional security measures.

Our Chief Architect, Brian Lima, explains key advances with this platform upgrade. “We have implemented a new architecture that allows sitecues text-to-speech services to scale to meet customer demand worldwide. As we ramp usage, clients can be assured that speech will continue to perform at breakneck speed across all geographies.” Another area of investment is security. “We have applied the latest in active and passive security measures in our host systems to further protect the privacy of customer data. These measures exceed the security requirements applied to government defense industry projects.” Finally, we made improvements to service reliability. “To ensure that users can always benefit from sitecues, we upgraded the entire system with several layers of defense in depth programming.”

Introducing Classroom Suite 5

Introducing Classroom Suite 5

Get the latest version of Classroom Suite! For years, Classroom Suite has been an essential learning tool to help students with disabilities, from Pre-K to 5th grade, achieve success in reading, writing, and mathematics in a highly accessible platform.

Classroom Suite provides alternative methods of access to activities, giving every student the opportunity to participate and learn with hundreds of engaging and accessible educational activities.

Educators using Classroom Suite have an amazing set of pre-made, accessible educational activities for practicing essential skills learned in core curriculum. For educators who want to make their own custom activities, there is a powerful set of creativity tools available within the software.

What’s new in Classroom Suite 5?

  • Modernized Experience – all new user interface & thousands of images recreated
  • Improved Stability & Functionality – critical software bug fixes and back-end code refinements
  • Faster Installation – Primary Skill Builders, MathTutor, and ReadingTutor have been integrated into the core Classroom Suite installer

Shop now for Classroom Suite 5 >>

Stickshifts and Safety Belts, By Aimee Sterk

By Aimee Sterk, LMSW, MATP Staff, from Michigan Assistive Technology Program

My relationship with my husband had it roots in cars. Stickshifts and Safetybelts was our dating theme song. We spent a lot of time in our cars–he lived 45 minutes away–and we liked to go on drives together. We very much appreciated his bench-seated (though also stick-shifted) Ford Ranger.

Then, in the last two weeks, we’ve both decided to buy new vehicles. With almost a half a million combined miles, our cars were ready for retirement.

As I sat through the not-always-enjoyable process of negotiating a price on the vehicle I want (and finally at a dealer I liked), I thought about assistive technology (AT) I use in my car and other AT devices for cars.

Michele Seybert of United Cerebral Palsy Michigan, did a great, extensive, webinar for us on vehicle modifications, but I’m thinking more of  easy-to-install modifications for people that need AT to help them drive and get in and out of the car. Michele briefly covered some of these items in her webinar as well.

The Handybar is a sturdy handle with a downward pointing beak that extends about 4 inches. It fits snuggly into the U shaped metal piece in the car door frame that the lock engages with. When the door is opened, the device wedges into this closed U shape metal piece, providing a stable, strong handle from which to push yourself to a standing position.a man getting out of the car using the handybar.

three images of an elderly gentleman using the handy bar as leverage to get out of a seated position in his car

close up of the handy bar that shows where it latches in on the door frame for leverageI frequently demonstrate the swivel seat which is a round cushion on a lazy susan bearing that helps people swing their feet in and out of the car (sometimes a plastic grocery bag can do the trick for this too).

round grey cushion swivel seat

At a recent presentation, a woman said she keeps long kitchen tongs in her car so she can reach things on the other side of the car or things she has dropped.

picture of average kitchen tongs grey with silcon gripsI use a Bucky in my car to help support my lower back which helps my chronic upper back pain. It is a buckwheat filled lumbar pillow.

a man sitting behind the wheel of a car with a Bucky pillow peaking out from behind his backOne of our demonstrations sites, Disability Network West Michigan, in Muskegon, recently worked with a person that needed an extended seat belt so she could fit her seatbelt around her body safely and comfortably. Karen, the AT person at Disability Network, was told that extended seatbelts are illegal. They did some checking with the local police and this is not the case. She also learned that you don’t have to purchase the extenders made by the car manufacturer. There are other options online that are much more affordable.

extended seat belt

Several years ago, my friend Carolyn shared with me that some vehicle manufacturers were selling people expensive key turning aids. People with hand-strength disabilities, especially arthritis, have a hard time with the pinching and turning motion required to turn on some cars (some cars now turn on with a button). There are far more affordable alternatives to the vehicle manufacturer devices called key turners. They give a bigger handle to grip and provide leverage.a key turner with two keys in it. One is folded back toward the grip for storage, the other is extended for use.

large red plastic oblong key holder with 2 keys on it

My new car, a Toyota RAV4, will have Bluetooth capacity to allow me to use my phone hands-free. This will help my upper back pain as well as provide better safety while driving. The RAV4 is also easier to get into and out of than my old car, a Honda Civic–I’m really looking forward to my new ride!

What devices help you to drive or ride in a car? What works well for you? What has not worked?

Write your ideas in the comment section below – also, if you want to try out the Handy Bar or other assistive technology devices and you live in CA, check out the  AT EXCHANGE.

Assistive Technology for All

The following article appeared in the Media Planet Assistive Technology supplement, distributed through USA Today in select markets on September 25, 2015.

Twenty-five years since the Americans with Disabilities Act, those of us in the disability and technology communities find ourselves on the forefront of a new frontier.

Assistive technology professionals that work in the field, including rehabilitation engineers, therapists and others, have noticed a growing number of people who do not consider themselves as having a disability using technologies that could be considered “assistive.”

Think of curb cuts, now in practically every American community. Curb cuts were designed with wheelchair users in mind but are also used by parents pushing baby strollers, kids on scooters, and travelers with roller suitcases. Go to any gym and you’ll see almost every TV is using closed captioning. Then there’s voice activation technologies, now on every smartphone, which started as a technology for people with disabilities who needed another way to access their devices, and is proving to have value to people without disabilities as well.

There’s considerable interest in technologies that allow aging parents to stay in their homes, help employees with a temporary disability continue to work, and make daily tasks easier for people with chronic conditions. Because technology is now a part of everyday life, there’s rising consumer demand for “accessible” technology – i.e., technology that anyone can use – in phones, laptops, tablets, and other tools.

What’s now and what’s next? Most immediately, look for eye-gaze technologies, more wearables such as Smartwatches, exoskeletons, and 3D printed products, as well as an emphasis on universal design and accessibility in everything, from physical buildings to web apps to kitchen appliances.

We will need to continue to fight to ensure that everyone, regardless of income, has access to assistive technology.  Assistive technology professionals will need to continue to promote best practices, including user-centered design and research findings that “bridge the gap” between off-the-shelf technologies and actual, everyday use.

We can be certain of two things: technology will evolve and change, and what’s coming holds great promise for a more inclusive society that values everyone’s abilities.

Michael J. Brogioli, Executive Director, RESNA

Disability.gov News & Events Update: National Disability Employment Awareness Month — Celebrating 70 Years!

National Disability Employment Awareness Month — Celebrating 70 Years!

Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a time to celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for this year — which marks 70 years since the first observance — is “My Disability is One Part of Who I Am.” This year’s NDEAM theme comes from the Campaign for Disability Employment’s Who I Am” PSA, which features nine people with disabilities sharing the many ways they describe themselves, including their occupations. Check out the blog post NDEAM 2015: My Disability Is One Part of Who I Am by Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy.