Monthly Archives: August 2014

Back to School with Assistive Technology


By MATP Staff Member Laura Hall

Living and working near a college town, it is exciting to see the city come to life and take on new energy as students return to campus for the start of a new school year. As I watch the hustle and bustle around me, it seems appropriate to explore the topic of assistive technology for students.

First, the issue of resources and access to assistive technology: typically the best place to start is with your school’s disability services office. Colleges and universities have obligations to provide access to accommodations and assistive technology to ensure equal opportunity in the classroom, and this is often coordinated through the disability services office. For more information, check out our webinar on “AT and Secondary Education”

Professionals working with students with disabilities may want check out the Michigan Association on Higher Education and Disability (MI-AHEAD), and non-profit organization that provides professional development for service providers to enhance opportunities and ensure full inclusion of students with disabilities.

Now, some assistive technology apps and devices that have proved to be useful among students:
Screenshot of the Livescribe Pen and dot paper1. Livescribe Pen – a ballpoint pen with an embedded computer and digital audio recorder. When used with special dot paper , it records what it writes for later uploading to a computer, and synchronizes those notes with any audio it has recorded. This allows users to replay portions of a recording by tapping on the notes they were taking at the time the recording was made. The Livescribe pen can be especially helpful to people who have difficulties writing and taking notes, as a small mark be used to “bookmark” what is being said at that time.

Screenshot of the Watchminder LED watchface with the time and message "pay attention"2. Watchminder – College is all about schedules and deadlines. For people who need reminders, or perhaps even intermittent reminders to pay attention, the Watchminder is a discrete wrist watch that can be programmed to provide  reminders and even display messages across the screen. This wearable technology may be preferable to people who need sensory input (i.e. vibration).

3. Reminders, Scheduling, and To-Do List Apps – There are a wide variety of apps to keep you on time and on track with assignments and other tasks. They all are slightly different and it’s important to find one that best meets your needs. A few examples of apps we’ve used at the Michigan Assistive Technology Program include:

Wunderlist – Is available as an app for Apple or Android or can be used online. It allows you to easily create to do lists and check them off. Lists can even be shared among several people, which could be handy for working on a group project.

Any.Do – Another very simplistic to do list app that can also be accessed online.  Available for Apple or Android.

Picture Scheduler – For people who are neurodiverse or have print disabilities, Scheduler allows you to take pictures, video, or record audio of your task. Can’t find that building where your class is held? Take a picture (and perhaps some audio directions) to help locate it!  Available in iTunes only.

Screen shot of the bug me app with several stickies on the corkboardBug Me! – Creates a virtual corkboard with “stickies” to keep all your reminders in one place.  Available for Apple and Android.

VoCal – Allows you to use your voice to schedule reminders and will alert you with your voice or a variety of other sounds.  Available in iTunes only.

Are you starting a new school year?  What assistive technology do you use?


Excuse Me, Can You Answer This Question?


By MATP Staff Member M. Cathy McAdam

Have you had the experience of being in a crowd and trying to catch someone’s attention to ask a question?

When running a focus group on communication needs one of the participants noted she liked one of our communication devices and would be showing it to her daughter who is Deaf.  I was puzzled initially because this low cost device had a ten second ability to record a verbal message and a spot for a photo.  I generally thought of it as a simple augmentative communication device. The device was Attainments single message communicator, the Go Talk One.

She rectangular device with image at top and button below in someone's handexplained that when her daughter tried giving a written note to someone to ask a question, she often had trouble catching their attention. In some cases, even though the note stated she was Deaf, they would just try speaking to her louder and then were frustrated that it didn’t work!  She thought passing a brief message with audio/voice along with the written message in the photo section might prove more effective.

I didn’t hear back if this was successful so thought I’d pass it on and get feedback from you – Have you used any AT to catch someone’s attention? How did it work for you?

This entry was posted in Communication AT/AAC, Hearing, Traveling with a disability on by .

Flying Friendlier Skies with Mobility AT


By Aimee Sterk, MATP Staff

I recently attended the RESNA (Rehab Engineering Society of North America) annual conference in Indianapolis. There I met representatives from Scootaround who told me about a program I hadn’t heard of—Total Mobility Management for Airlines—they help An airplane flying into the sunsetpeople whose wheelchairs and powerchairs are damaged by airlines. Scootaround gets the devices repaired or replaced and supplies loaner chairs to use in the meantime.

Scootaround staff informed me that they have a nationwide network and work with all of the airlines to provide full service repair of scooters, wheelchairs and powerchairs. I had never heard about this service. While I don’t use a mobility device myself, I have many friends that do and have heard horror stories about airline experiences. In fact, several of my friends travel exclusively by car/train because of damage done to their powerchairs by airlines.

These stories made were in the back of my mind as I excitedly asked about how the program works. It looks like they get paid by the airlines to process these claims and provide this service. They have claims staff available 24 hours a day, every day. They work with local vendors with good track records at the arrival and/or departure location to service the devices. They also offer training and support to airline personnel on handling assistive devices.

Scootaround Logo

Have you tried Scootaround’s airline service? What was your experience?

It looks like they also provide scooter rentals all around North America and help companies/events planners too by providing devices for conferences. Have you tried them for these services? What was your experience?

We are always looking to expand our knowledge of resources available.  Please share your knowledge and stories. Happy Traveling!

This entry was posted in AT, Mobility, Traveling with a disability, Uncategorized and tagged disability, powerchair, scootaround, travel, Wheelchair on by .

Turn it Down!


woman standing in livingroomDo you have family members who disagree with the level of volume of the T.V.? Maybe a neighbor who complains about the T.V. or music being too loud? Hearing loss can certainly create communication barriers and it can also increase stress by creating conflicts with others over sound levels.

MATP’s demonstration program in the Upper Peninsula, through the Superior Alliance for Independent Living (SAIL) Phone on a deskhas helped one woman to resolve a conflict with a neighbor though the provision of a device demonstration. Read about Margaret Hudson and her restored peaceful independence! No more banging of broom handles on the walls! 

MATP has had a great relationship and subcontracts for device demonstrations of hearing assistive technology for many years with the Hearing Loss Association of Michigan. Our relationship is changing now. They will continue to have the Hearing Technology Resource Specialists (HTRS) program, but will not be providing device demonstrations directly through MATP. Instead, they will be helping us to provide demonstrations through our other subcontracted organizations like SAIL. We are so thankful that they continue to share their great expertise and knowledge with our program.

This entry was posted in Hearing and tagged community living, noise, phone on by .