Category Archives: iPad

Hey Santa, how about one of these?


By Aimee Sterk, LMSW, MATP Staff

I’m not so sure I was on my A-game of gift wishing last week (my husband reminded me I have a yogurt maker but I loaned it to a friend, though the aromatherapy device still appeals)—so I’m stepping it up a bit this week. After finishing up the Hanukkah shopping and gifting for others, I think I have some better ideas for AT that’s on my Christmas list this year. Good thing my family celebrates Hanukkah and Christmas!

First up, Santa, could I have the Peeramid Bookrest with the cute owl cover? I am an avid reader, but my arms fall asleep and my chronic upper back pain can be triggered by holding books for a long time. I often just use a pillow to prop the books on my stomach, but why not have the added benefit of a specifically designed pillow with a built in tray, pocket, and bookmark? I saw these while browsing my local book shop this weekend. If Santa is on a budget, there are navy Peeramid bookrests too for $10 less.

a pyramid shaped firm pillow with a long tassel coming out of the top to use as a bookmark and a lip around all four sides to hold the book

And look at this Santa, I’m still thinking of others, while looking at the bookrest options, I also saw this item for my friends that are iPad lovers—I have an iPad and enjoy it but don’t use it for reading as the backlight hurts my eyes. So—as a service for you iPad/tablet users out there—you may want to ask Santa for this IPEVO PadPillow Pillow Stand. I like that it folds up for tabletop or closer use and unfolds to put the tablet at a distance that might be more comfortable ergonomically or for your eyes.

the IPEVO folded up as a stand with a tablet on it. the prism is folded closer to the pillow base and theres a plastic guard to hold the iPad in place--a small piece like a tab in front of the screen

a woman reclining on a couch with the IPEVO in extended mode--the the prism-shaped bolster is near her knees with her iPad on it and the pillow pad is unfolded and extends toward her chest








Next up—a great stocking stuffer idea Santa—the reCAP, it’s only $7.99. OK, yes, I already have some of these but they are in boring silver. I use them everyday and could use a backup in a pleasant color. I have been on a long quest for the best, safest, most watertight, economical, environmentally friendly water bottle for quite some time. For now, the reCAP is the winner. The reCAP takes any mason jar and makes it into a water bottle. It has a gasket (unlike some other jar transformer systems) and a larger opening to drink out of. I am on several meds that result in dry mouth and feel better overall when I’m well hydrated. The mason jar conversion means there’s no BP of any sort—A, B, or otherwise, and the mason jars are affordable and very easy to clean. I use the wide mouth 24 and 32 oz. versions as they are even easier to clean. My only beef with the recap system, now that I have a car with larger cupholders, is that Mason jars aren’t insulated so they sweat, so if Santa wants to bring me some coasters to keep around the house and office, that would be great too–hint, hint, I like rainbows.

two mason jars one with a smoothie in it and the other filled with blueberries with recaps on the top

the recap in its packaging, basically a lid with a spout with a hinged cover for the spout









Finally, how about a Tile? I first heard of these from Carrie Baugher, a colleague at The Disability Network in Flint. These are small tiles that you can attach to things you frequently lose, then use your iPhone to find them—having the tile ring to find your attached item, or using the map function of the app that goes with tile to figure out the last location and time seen of the item. This all sounded good to me at the time, but the item my husband Joe and I most often lose is our iPhones. So, I thought, “Well great if I can find my iPhone I can find my keys, but what about when I can’t find my phone?” If one or the other of us has our phone we call each other’s phone to help find it—assuming the phones aren’t on silent, then we are in real trouble. Enter second generation Tile to the rescue! With the second generation, you just find an item of yours that has a tile, and use it to ring your iPhone, even if the phone is on silent. Hooray! Problem solved. So, Santa, in hopes of increasing the odds of finding either our phones or a device with the tile attached, Joe and I would like to share a 4-pack of tiles. I’m not sure I can claim this “losing devices” thing as a part of any of my disabilities, but the resulting anxiety definitely exacerbates my real, underlying anxiety disability, so I guess this is a preventive device.

the tile next to a cell phone the tile is 1.3 inches square and has a hole in the top corner to feed onto a key ring

There—a much better wishlist for Santa of AT that will help me every day. And really Santa, I know you know after the year Joe and I’ve had, what I really want, and its not technically something that can be bought, so for now, I’ll just send out positive energy and hope for good things for the New Year, and wish for these things to have a little fun.

Thanks Santa!

Wishing you and yours peace, joy, and love this holiday season and always,





By MATP Staff Member M. Catherine McAdam

This blog is supposed to be about AT, and you will find some AT info sprinkled in and you’ll be reading about baseball; it’s not a blog about baseball. It’s really a blog about attitudes, perceptions and biases.

Even before learning about adaptive technology I’ve been a big baseball fan.  ATbat app logoI’ll start by telling you that the AtBat app is very accessible for those of us who love the game of baseball! Also, Toronto actually carries sports that are often video described, an interest for the American team play offs!

So what’s this about bias? Have you heard of Jessica Mendosa? I was thrilled to hear thishead shot of Jessica woman announcer broadcasting one of the wild card games on TV: ESPN. Using my accessible twitter program, the qube accessible twitter, I found this article about Jessica Mendoza.

I first heard Suzyn Waldman, on a radio broadcast of a Yankee’s game, but hearing women announcers for baseball is indeed a rare occurrence.

Sadly, I was shocked at the bias against woman announcers while others, especially the women noted in this article, understood the ground breaking stance they took and proudly moved forward.

Doc Andrews, “a little person”, said he broke into sports announcing on the radio where he wasn’t “seen” then, after a long radio career, he was able to move on to TV. In Jessica’s case, bias rose up from what was heard, or maybe not heard, as her words were blocked out by bias.

If we can’t even have a woman accepted as the capable commentator she is, how do we breach the disability biases still prevalent today? Doc Andrews and Jesica might say, one person at a time!

So maybe my take away is that all the best assistive technology only starts a process. We must be open to see and hear beyond gender disabilities and so many other differences, weather using assistive technology or not.

So, sports fans, what do you think?


Getting to Know Alexa: Amazon Echo


Amazon EchoI ordered the Amazon Echo months ago, having received an invitation to buy, but didn’t get it till just a few weeks ago. It is now available to anyone and will start shipping July 14th.  I am getting to know “Alexa” the Echo’s voice assistant.

So what is the Amazon Echo? It’s an awesome wireless speaker and also a digital assistant. It has many applications as potential assistive technology too, though it was not designed specifically with that in mind.

The voice recognition is good, and it learns your voice the more you use it. I set up an account for my husband on the Echo, he speaks with a Cerebral Palsy (CP) accent, and he was amazed that Alexa understood him on the first try.  I find myself adding please and thank you to the commands as it seems to directive to just say things like “Alexa!” “Stop!”, though it does give me a sense of power (grin).

People who have cognitive issues, like memory problems,  can ask Alexa the day, the time, the weather, have her read your news flash (you set this up on the web or app interface).  I use the integration with Google Calendar to ask her what my schedule is for the day when I first get up in the morning.  You can also ask questions about cooking, the weather, traffic, sports, shopping and more.  You can set up a common travel route and then ask how the traffic is on that route for example.

The Echo also has a built-in to do list and shopping list. If you also have the app on your smart phone, the shopping list is handy at the store. I chronically leave my hand printed shopping list at home, so this is handy for me!

the WeMo SwitchThere are also several smart home device integrations, the Belkin WeMo and Philips Hue connected devices, though I haven’t tested these yet. I had a Belkin Switch, but dropped it hard and it stopped working. I haven’t replaced it yet.  Here’s an article from CNET about the Echo and connected devices.

I am just beginning to explore the recipes in “If this then that (IFTTT)” for Amazon Echo.  Some use (hack) the to do list and the shopping list to accomplish other things. For example there is a recipe that will send a short SMS via voice to anyone through Echo’s To Do list. When you use this, the recipient will receive a text with the content of all items you add to your To Do List.  So if you want to text “I’m Running Late”, for example, simply say “Alexa – add ‘I am running late’ to my To Do List”.  Of course, once you hack your To Do List this way, you would not use it for a To Do list anymore.

If I wanted to add a quick event to the Google Calendar, there’s a hack to do this via voice command to Alexia using the To Do list.

You can also be very annoying using this recipe which connects the Echo and Gmail and will send a clapping animated image to everyone once you complete an item on your to do list. Of course, you can also create your own recipes on IFTTT.

So is the Amazon Echo “Assistive Technology (AT)”? Of course it depends on the person and how it is used. I’d say it is AT for me!  Right now, I am using it for listening to music, which is relaxing after a morning of computer problems. When the phone rings, I can just say “Alexa!” (The blue light comes on on the top rim of the Echo) “Off please!”.  I think the reminders and voice commands will certainly be AT for many people.

Have you used the Amazon Echo as AT? Are you considering getting one? Please share!



Can you see it now?


When a small child I had only 2% vision in one eye. No matter how you measure that, by field of vision, acuity, or with a generic “low vision” description, that was so little, that I constantly was asked what I could see.

So what is low vision or legal blindness?

  • Most A magnifing glass over a paper says "Low Vision"eye care professionals prefer to use the term “low vision” to describe permanently reduced vision that cannot be corrected with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery.
  • Legal blindness/low vision
  • Criteria for BSBP

It is the low vision definition that functionally describes the need for assistive technology, and there is an incredible array of magnification options.  Hardware like a close circuit TV, or standalone magnification system for reading, software for a computer system, and options for our mobile tablets and devices.

  • Magnification devices and software
  • Android magnification
  • Apple Accessibility Page

First, what issues should be considered? Beware of glare and the size of a monitor or screen, color contrast options, or reverse white on black, field of view, and lighting. If using an Apple or Android device check the built-in magnification first. Apps may be a good supplement to the built-in options.

This is clearly not a one size fits all but there is help!  MDRC has 4 low vision demonstrations kits available across the state to help explore some options. You can also seek assistance from the state’s Bureau of Services for Blind Persons if you are legally blind. Some vendors have showrooms, and many low vision specialist have products to display.

  • low vision specialists
  • low vision products

We strongly discourage buying a magnification product for someone without their ability to try it first. It is also important to get an assessment to determine if your vision is stable, if treatment options can help, and get appropriate referrals for school work or home maker assistance.
Low vision covers a very wide range of complexities, and the truth is it is very difficult to tell someone “what you can see” in comparison to their full range of vision.

Do you use low vision tools? How did you make your decision on what to use?