DEI – Assistive Technology for Training and Employment

DEI – Assistive Technology for Training and Employment


Carolyn Phillips:
Hello, everybody. Welcome to the Assistive
Technology for Training
and Employment webinar. This is part of our Disability Employment
Initiative webinar series. We’re so glad that you’re
with us today. We are here at Georgia Tech
in the College of Design at the Center for Inclusive
Design and Innovation. This is part of our
collaboration with Tools for Life, and I’m excited that we are
going to be bringing you information that you can use and
hopefully share with other folks within your networks,
including employers, people with disabilities,
and also your peers so that everyone can understand
the importance of assistive technology when it comes to training
and employment. My name is Carolyn Phillips
and I am the director of Tools for Life and I’m also the service
and education director for Center for Inclusive
Design and Innovation. I have been working in this
space of assistive technology and disability and inclusion
for well over 26 years. Almost 30 years. A lot of my work has been
focused specifically on employment and trying to
make sure that we can change the employment numbers
so that can get even more folks with
disabilities employed. Liz, I know you and Danny and I
have been committed to this. I’m excited that the three of us are doing this presentation
today. I’m going to turn it over to you
so you can introduce yourself. Liz Persaud:
Thank you, Carolyn. Hi, everyone.
My name is Liz Persaud. I’m the program and outreach
manager at Tools for Life here at the Center for Inclusive
Design and Innovation at Georgia Tech. Danny Housley:
I am Danny Housley. I am the AT acquisition manager
for Tools for Life. Carolyn Phillips:
All right, excellent. So Liz is going to walk us
through more information when it comes to the webinar, and then we’ll also be giving
you more information when it comes to learning
objectives and all of that. So Liz? Liz Persaud:
Thank you, Carolyn. We’re so glad to have each
of you on today’s webinar. Hopefully you all can see
the PowerPoint. We’ve got a little bit
of a webinar checklist here. We want to let everyone know
that today’s webinar is being recorded and it will be
archived. So it will be available online
for you to access at any point in time. Please also know
that we’re working on a video post-production
to really create some awesome training packages
for all of you. So all of this information
that you’re listening to today, you’ll be able to utilize down
the road as a resource as you’re working with the folks that you’re working with
every day. Today we are really excited,
as Carolyn said, to be talking to all of you about assistive technology
for training and employment. As somebody who is living as a professional
with a disability, I know too well all about
customized employment and the power of assistive
technology. We often say that for a person
without a disability, technology makes life easier, but for a person
with a disability, technology, assistive
technology, if you will, makes life and employment
absolutely possible. Workplace accommodations, including assistive
technologies, supports individuals
with disabilities throughout all areas
of the employment process. Assistive technology devices and
strategies provide independence throughout the application
process, during interviews,
the training phase, and all the way to and beyond
the first day of employment. And we’re excited to be sharing
those resources with all of you today. So by the end of today’s
webinar, all of you will be leaving
with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to assist
in the collective work to build inclusive communities, educational systems, and most
importantly, workplaces. At the end of today’s session,
you’ll be able to identify two low-, middle-, and high-tech
assistive technology solutions to support successful
employment. You’ll also be able to list three assistive technology
strategies to be implemented
in the workplace. And lastly, you’ll be able
to name two local and/or statewide
resources to support successful employment of people with disabilities
in the workplace. And if you know
about Tools for Life, you actually know about one
of those resources already. Carolyn Phillips:
Right on. So some of our guiding
principles. We all have guiding principles. We weave them
throughout this presentation. Our guiding principles
and philosophy, you’ll see, is how pretty much
how we operate. This one, we really appreciate
in particular, because it’s a part of the
Assistive Technology Act as a whole. Yesterday, for example, was Assistive Technology
Act Awareness Day. That was March 27th. That day will float in future
years, but we’re looking forward
to that being an annual thing. Part of why we appreciate
assistive technology so much is because of this statement
right here, which is that disability
is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes
the right of individuals to live independently,
be self-determined, make choices,
and form choices, right? Benefit from education, really
get that job and keep that job and pursue that meaningful
career and be really included. This does not happen
just on its own. It’s absolutely something
that is tied to effective assistive
technology services and also accommodations and knowing what those
strategies and solutions are. So yes, disability is natural, but it goes hand in hand
with assistive technology. Liz Persaud: This is a great
quote from Judith Heumann, a wonderful advocate and just a staple
in the disability community. I absolutely love this. I have known about this quote
for many years. It just absolutely rings true. Judith says… [reading passage] Absolutely, assistive technology
levels the playing field. We absolutely know that’s true
in the workplace. I am somebody that benefits from
using my voice to communicate. Working with Carolyn and Danny,
creating the presentation today, I was using my voice to edit,
modify, upload content to do all of these things
to bring these trainings to you. All of that enables me to get
my work done. So I’m not somebody on the team
that everybody has to constantly be looking out for, saying,
“Oh gosh, we gotta help Liz.” In fact, sometimes I’m the one,
oftentimes, I’m the one reaching out and helping
everybody else because of how efficient I am
using assistive technology to be independent
in the workplace. Carolyn Phillips:
That is absolutely true. I was talking to Judith Heumann
not long ago about this quote in particular. She absolutely ties it
to advocacy. So Danny, do you mind talking
to us more about self-advocacy and advocating in general? Danny Housley: Yeah. Advocacy is vital to being
included, to being part of the community
that you want to be. When we look at advocacy, there’s a couple of different
levels of it, a couple of different types. Self-advocacy is speaking up
for the things you want to accomplish, the goals
you want to accomplish, the needs you may have, or the things that you want to
see changed on a personal level. So that’s things
that are impacting you and your immediate surroundings. We also look at systems advocacy so making change
on a larger level. So that’s when you start getting
involved with elected officials and people on your city council and if you’re looking at the
realm of employment, you know, working with your HR team
or the employer that you’re working with to enact change
on a broader level. That impacts you but also could potentially
impact other individuals. A lot of this advocacy comes from the social model
of disability. We’ve talked about that
in a previous webinar. Kind of changing the way
we think about disability, changing the way we speak up
for ourselves. When you’re self-advocating or
advocating on a systems level, it’s really about telling your
story and using that story to change the way
things are done. A lot of that advocacy
has been used in legislation. You can see it reflected
in the Tech Act, the ADA, the Workforce Innovations
and Opportunity Act. A lot of things that are
impacting the disability community,
those legislations really take into account
the lived experiences of the individuals that this
legislation is going to impact. So it’s great to see that. It’s great to have a voice
when it comes to things that are impacting our lives. We definitely have that “nothing
about us without us” philosophy, and it’s great to see that
reflected in a lot of different areas when it comes
to service provision and just the lives of
the disability community. There is an image on the right that is a black hand
raised in solidarity. It says “Advocacy, inclusion,
evolution.” Carolyn Phillips:
That’s such a great image. As we’re talking about this, and
when we’re talking specifically about employment, it would be
very important to mention and also to discuss
customized employment. I remember the first time
that I heard that, it was years ago, and it stuck
with me. The cool thing is this is
something that continues to grow and we’re raising awareness
about it. We’re also making sure
that people understand that this is part of the toolkit
that you can have in your back pocket when you’re working with folks
with disabilities. Liz and Danny and I were
educating some HR folks recently about the importance of
customized employment and person-centered planning and making sure that you’re
creating a work environment where everybody can be
successful. Absolutely, customized
employment, it’s focused on existing skills
and skill development. It’s looking at what does
the person bring and having that person
at the center of the discussion. It’s about growing
and figuring out what are those transferrable
skills? What are the essential job
functions? A lot of times, what we will
see, and we still see it, is that so-and-so needs
to drive. Well, does everybody
have to drive? That conversation is changing
quite a bit. I don’t know that that’s an
essential job function anymore. Also, I saw recently in a job
announcement that the individual needed to be
able to carry 25 pounds. I’m like, why? Because they’re a telephone
operator. Why do they need to do that? And what they were doing,
actually, in the role of telephone
operator, which that job has evolved
tremendously, is they were doing
Spanish translation. And I’m like, are you standing
there carrying something? What are you doing
that’s 25 pounds when you’re translating
Spanish? So thinking about what really is
essential and making sure that we’re being smart
about that. We absolutely come
from the space of assuming that somebody is competent. We assume that we’ve got
to think about reasonable accommodations. We assume that we’ve got to
think about assistive technology and what supports are necessary. There’s an image over here
where you have the job seeker in the middle. That’s person-centered, right? Then you go through a discovery
process with the individual and you figure out what are
the skills and abilities that you actually have? The vocational profile, you can
trust some of the information, and some of it you cannot trust. I still have, in recent memory,
people being classified as “unemployable.” That is not OK. We have got to assume,
once again, competence, that everybody has something
to contribute. Nobody is here by mistake. And then, what you can also
start focusing on is that customized planning
and figuring out, what is it that the person
wants to do? What are the jobs
that are out there? What pieces of a job
could be out there? What’s that portfolio and that
visual résumé look like? I have really enjoyed working
on these before with folks, where you did more of a video
or you do… I’m looking at Raminta,
who is incredibly talented when it comes to visual arts
and videography. So this is one of the pieces
that is key to this person-centered
and customized employment, is people being able to put
their best foot forward and have a different type
of résumé. Job development and really
that negotiation. Going in and figuring out,
how can we create a situation where everybody is successful,
where the employer wins, where the individual wins,
where everybody is winning? So win-win-win. It goes back to Stephen Covey’s
philosophies around that. And then, thinking about those
accommodations and what does that look like
when the person is on board? What is that post-employment? What’s that support? And how do we make sure
that we can create successful, for everybody, successful
environments for everybody. So the next piece to this is really looking
at integrated settings. We spend a lot of our talents
and time and efforts here, at the Center for Inclusive
Design and at Tools for Life, working on built environment and virtual environment
accessibility. It’s not just, you know,
what does that look like when you get the environment
to be accessible? When we’re talking
about integrated settings, what we’re really talking about is, does this workplace
look like the rest of society? Does it look like the rest
of the community? What I mean by that is—if you
were to actually come visit us, you could say yes, actually,
our team looks very much like if you were to walk outside
our door, what the people you would
meet in Atlanta. Atlanta, part of what I love
about living here is it’s incredibly diverse
on so many levels. In my county, there’s over
136 primary languages spoken. That is awesome. We have created an environment
where you can roll in, walk in, you can navigate
however you need to. So thinking about that and then also, do you have
real wages? Or do you have people working
that have disabilities that are either not making
any money at all or they’re making sub-wage? That’s not OK. We are not OK with that. I believe in real wages
and making sure that people not just have a real wage
but a living wage and that we have
real expectations. That we don’t do the, kind of
whisper and say, “Well, they have a disability,”
or what-have-you. That’s no longer OK. So making sure that everybody
can succeed. We also make sure
that we negotiate, that folks have the support
that they need, whether it’s job coaching. We bring in folks,
circle of support, people who can help,
independent living specialists, all of those folks, and figure out, how can we
actually help this applicant, this individual be successful? Employment first has got to be at the top of our list
of priorities. I’m thrilled that in Georgia,
that it’s not just a phrase, that it’s actually a reality and something that we’re working
towards collectively. If we move through the next
slide… Danny Housley:
I just want to throw out that the negotiation piece
for that is so important, because just like
in the previous image, it puts that person at
the center of the process. They’re in charge. Again, that is showing
that moving away from that medical model
to the social approach. So that person really has a say
in the employment they’re going to get
and supports that they need. Carolyn Phillips:
Right on. Right on. So when we’re talking about some
of these characteristics of a customized employment
situation, it’s voluntary negotiation
with the employer. That is important, right? That we’re not saying, oh,
you have to go do this job or you have to go
to that employer. Frequent use of job developers
to assist. There are times that I call upon
job developers to help us figure out, what is the best way
to structure this job so that somebody
can be successful? We focus on the contribution,
rather than other aspects. So what can this person bring
to the team? It’s not necessarily
about competition. It is about contribution. We also understand
that the applicant will submit a proposal
for negotiation. So here’s what I can bring. That comes in various forms. It could be something where
we’re proactively looking at what are the accommodations. You know, here at Georgia Tech
we have an ADA process, so what do we need to think
about proactively when it comes to negotiation? Disability is a disclosed
in good faith. What we mean by that is that
it’s not gonna be something that is held against a person,
if you will. We still see that,
where people are like, oh, so-and-so has a cognitive
disability so we can’t have them do this or we can’t have so-and-so
represent us in this setting. It should be disclosed
in good faith, not that it will be a barrier
to employment or that it’ll be a barrier once
the person is in the workplace. Having that template strategy
where— there are some really good
templates out there where you can look at the—
it does contributions and what are the needs and you
kind of match that up. That can be a very helpful tool
for figuring some of that out. Also, thinking about the other
relationships that are out there and where we can get
additional support, whether it’s through
Vocational Rehabilitation… Obviously, the good folks
that are on this webinar who are doing this work
on a daily basis who can help, and figuring out who else
can help? Is it somebody that can help
when it comes to figuring out deeper levels of accommodations? Do you need a speech language
pathologist? Do you need to have
a rehab engineer? Do you need to have your assistive technology
practitioners or rehab counselors? So really making sure who all
should be at that team and then understanding, once
again, that it should be a living wage and that the pay
is determined by what the wage really should be
in the mainstream market. Living wages, real wages:
That’s what we believe in. The next slide shows this great
Ed Roberts quote. I’m going to turn this to Danny, because I really like the way
you explain things. Danny Housley:
This is the from Ed Roberts, who is kind of the father
of independent living. The quote says… [reading passage] So that really goes back
to that negotiation. The individual should be in
charge of who is supporting them with this customized employment. It’s about having their voice
heard. It goes back to advocacy. It goes back to living the life
you want and being in charge of how things are done. I came across this and I love it
because it’s absolutely true. The moment that you give up
your voice, you give up your power
and it’s out of your control at that point. So we just want to make sure
that people are speaking up and they’re making their voices
heard. Carolyn Phillips:
Yes! So one of the things
that you gotta think of at the very beginning is how do
you get your foot in the door? And how can assistive technology
help with that process? What we find is that often
this is where the failure is. Our team, thankfully,
is high profile, known on a national and in some
ways international level. We had Microsoft, a great
partner of ours, come and visit and we were
talking specifically about the issues when it comes
to assistive technology supports and applicants. One of the other things that’s
important to think about here is how many people are being
overlooked through the application process because of artificial
intelligence. There was an interesting
article—and I appreciated that Google disclosed this—but
they realized, when they ran— and this has been several years
going—when they ran analytics behind the scenes,
they saw that, oh my goodness, we actually have been
discriminating against female applicants
based on résumés because of our artificial
intelligence formula, AI, formula, and algorithm
and predictive analytics. We think—I think a lot of us
believe this— that those analytics are biased
against folks with disabilities all the time. They look at résumés of folks
with disabilities. If you enter it into any of
the mainstream résumé and employment tools that are
out there, and automatically, questions
about what’s the gap here in employment and why did you
choose that? And why did it take so long
for you to graduate, or what have you? All those things, you get
weeded out. So understanding that, not just
do we need to think about assistive technology
supports, but also we need to think
about the application process. So when we’re talking about assistive technology
specifically, it’s important that
your application process is accessible and that
everybody—whether you have vision-related disabilities or
cognitive-related disabilities or if you use a screen reader, another type of assistive
technology—that if somebody is showing up to fill out
an application, that they can actually
gain access to that. I—as a person with dyslexia,
dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and auditory processing—could
not show up at a—years ago, I couldn’t show up at one
of the employment centers and be able to log in
and fill out an application. Now I can do that when I go
to the one-stops because of the good work
you’re doing when it comes to making sure that we have
public access points and that those points are,
those computers are accessible. I use Texthelp, so that is how I need to fill
out the application, is making sure that it works
with my text-to-speech and my screen reader, being able to use my voice to
enter information, all of that. Danny, do you want to talk
a little bit more about some of the print-related
and some of these specifics? Danny Housley: Yeah, so a lot
of different people use screen readers. It’s not just people
with visual disabilities. When we say print-related
disability—I think we’ve covered this previously, but just
to reinforce, a print-related disability is
just anything that impacts a person’s ability
to access print. That could be visual, it could
be a learning disability. If it’s physical material, it
could be a physical disability. But we want people to know
what the options are for that application process. One of the first programs people
may recognize for screen reading is JAWS. That’s a proprietary software. For individuals, it can be
financially prohibitive, for an individual to get that. Since so many applications
are online now, you really do have to have
an access method for that. So with this, we were going
to be looking at some of the one-stop shops. We’re going to be looking
at directing people to their local library. I was just at a library
conference and a lot of different libraries
have various screen readers. Some of them have JAWS. Some of them have VoiceOver. So VoiceOver is for the Mac
and iOS devices. It’s the built-in screen reader. It’s a very robust, very
customizable screen reader. You don’t have to pay anything
extra to get it. You just have to have access
to an Apple device. A really good-consumer friendly
option is NVDA. That’s Non-Visual Desktop
Access, and it’s free. It’s free or you can make
a small donation. But you can get that at little
to no cost. You can put it on a flash drive
so that way, if you’re going to a job site
or you’re going to the library or you’re going to a friend’s
house to use their computer, you can plug that USB drive in and you have your screen reader
with you. It’s great
because it’s so portable. You can take it with you
anywhere. Windows Narrator is built
into Windows devices. It has gotten so much better
over the years. It’s actually a really good,
functional screen reader now. You can navigate webpages
with it pretty easily. You can read documents. It’s a great option. A lot of these, with both
Windows Narrator and VoiceOver, a lot of these mobile devices, like your tablets and your
smartphones, they have built-in
screen readers in them. It’s always good to explore
what’s built in before you invest
in other options. Some other modifications
for print to keep in mind are things like if you have
printed materials, having color overlays. I do say here that’s virtual
and physical. So you can have a color overlay
on a computer. It’s a software thing where you
choose the tint that you want to use and it puts
that over there. It makes the contrast easier
for a lot of folks. Or it can be a physical thing. The picture on the right here, just various
translucent color overlays. So you pick a color that works
well for you and you put that over the white paper
and black text, and sometimes it makes it
much easier to access. Things like text highlighting
with software, that can be vital
for individuals. So sometimes you need to both
see and hear the text, but also having that text
highlighted as it reads out can be a huge benefit
for an individual. Line guides, both virtual
and physical. So you can have a line guide
on your screen that just helps you focus
on one line at a time. This could also be something
like a bar magnifier or just a piece of material that
allows you to read one line at a time. That helps with focus. That helps if somebody has,
like myself, if they have nystagmus,
if they have something where their eye tends to move
around, that can help them with maintaining that focus
and reading things. And then finally, magnification. Again, virtual and physical. Magnification can be achieved
by a hand magnifier. It can also be achieved
with software, something like MAGic or Fusion,
the built-in Zoom on your computer,
Windows Magnifier. There’s lots of options
out there. And again, just like
with screen reading, magnification is often included
as a basic accessibility feature in most devices now,
which is fantastic. All right, and we have
another quote here. This is from Steve Krug,
and it says… [reading passage] So that just goes back
to showing how important accessibility is. It’s not just something you’re
doing for one individual. It’s gonna benefit that person, but it’s gonna benefit everybody
at the job site. Everybody that comes in,
by giving people access, you’re giving them
opportunities. So keeping that in mind and
keeping that conversation going about the importance
of accessibility, whether it’s through assistive
technology or just changing the way things are done. Carolyn Phillips:
Right on. When we’re talking about
assistive technology supports for employees, one of the things that we
absolutely have to talk about is ergonomics. We’ll move to the next slide. When we’re talking
about ergonomics, this is actually a real image. When I’m going to offices,
I’m often taking photos of things like this. This image is a person who’s
sitting on a box of a chair. The chair is in the box. They’re sitting at their desk. I don’t know if the chair
is actually still in there. It looks like it would be. But I think a lot of times we
don’t think about ergonomics. We don’t think about all the
other aspects that we need to. So we encourage you to think
about this. This absolutely needs people who have expertise
in this area. It requires a professional to do
these evaluations. You’ve got to think about the
environment and not adjusting, like in this photo, the
individual to the environment but actually the environment
to the individual. So that’s what we encourage
people to think about. A lot of people literally will
sit down at their desk and sit down at their chair
and they’re like, OK, this is set up by somebody
for me and they don’t even think, oh,
maybe I should adjust the chair, maybe I should adjust
the workspace a little bit. You know, lighting, considering
that and also thinking about what equipment
do they need? You have to also think
about what are the tasks that need to be accomplished? When we’re talking
about ergonomics, that’s what we’re talking about,
and success. It’s all tied together. The next slides, we’re going
to be talking about specifically
thinking about seating. There are all kinds of seating
solutions out there. What CDC actually said—this was
in 2008 and then they did it again
in 2012. They were talking about that
seating is the new smoking. Sitting all the time, not
getting up and moving around, not taking those breaks. So we one, encourage people
to move around if you can. Get up and stretch
and all of that. Two, actually look at what’s
the chair that you’re sitting in and is it working for your body? If you are sitting in this chair
for three and four hours at a time, has it been adapted
to you? There’s an example on the left. There’s a highly customizable
chair here where you can adjust
where your legs should be. Are you able to touch the floor? Your arms, all of us have
different lengths of our body, where our hips are, all of that. It gives lower back and upper
back support and head support. It’s highly adjustable. So thinking about that and thinking, what is it you
really need? The next one is focused on
making sure that the person can have some support, if you
will, to strengthen their core. We use these a lot, actually,
in educational environments. We have some of these
actually here at the office. It’s been helpful to be able
to have that type of option for folks. A lot of people do choose
to use that. It’s basically a ball. These balls, by the way, come
in different sizes and they are customized, once
again, for different weights and heights and all of that. This one, actually, is
positioned so that it can be in a more stabilized situation. You could take the ball out and you could sit on the ball
directly. The next one is actually
a kneeling seating situation. It doesn’t have
the back support, lower back, upper back,
and then trunk support or anything like that. What it does do is it,
for some people, allows for them to be organically, naturally
positioned in a way that helps their body
be more comfortable. So just know that there are
multiple options out there. This is one of those things that you definitely want
to talk about with folks. The other things that you want
to think about is— don’t get too tied to the
measurements in this image— but you want to think about,
once again, the tasks. How far away is your keyboard? How high up is your keyboard? Are your feet touching
the ground? Are your knees aligned or slowly
lower than your hips? That’s what we would recommend. Where is the monitor? Are you looking up?
Are you looking down? Are you looking to the left?
Are you looking to the right? What you want to do is promote
good health by actually having
everything adjusted to you. So making sure that you’re
supporting your body, that your body is then
supporting you, and that it’s all working
together. You should be changing your
position every 30 to 50 minutes. Take a stretch break. Get up and move around. That’s what I do. Within my office,
my actual space, I have about three different
spaces that I alternate where I work, where I sit. Often, I’m even standing and
doing dictation in my office. That’s important. So making sure, once again, that
the environment works for you. The other thing that we want
to make sure that is happening is that you consider the whole
sit-to-stand, that you actually have monitors
that are adjustable. That you have multiple ways
of being able to move throughout the day. As I said, CDC says that sitting
is this new smoking. It’s not healthy to sit
all the time. So what we encourage you
to do is get up and move. Over to the far left, there is
an accommodation that you would actually put
onto a desk, as opposed to having
the desk move itself. There’s the keyboard
that’s adjustable, that space. There’s also the monitor and this has two different
monitors, which is great. Within our workspace
here at Georgia Tech, the vast majority of the folks
have multiple monitors, multiple ways of adjusting
those monitors. Most of the people here also
have adjustable workstations where they can do sit to stand
or sit to squat or sit to whatever they want,
which is great. Once again, consider
these options, especially when you’re looking
at employment and what do we need to think
about with all of that. We also strongly encourage
people to consider the various access issues that
individuals do have or can have and know that we can find
solutions around these. There’s images up here
of various keyboards and even some oldies but goodies
that are still out there and then different access
methods, if you will. On the top left,
we have a laser keyboard. I remember when it first
came out and people just didn’t believe
that this thing really existed. It’s a beam of light. It can be shown on any surface. It’s pretty inexpensive. It’s a mainstream piece of
equipment that you can buy at Office Depot or what have you
or any number of other stores. Down below that is a keyboard
that has been customized. The thing that you’ll notice
about this is actually all the vowels
are in one color. Consonants are in another color. The keys are really big. The layout has big targets but
also is very easy to understand. There’s an image in the middle
and it’s on the top. What you have there
is a key guard. We used to make these
all the time. Back in the day when we were
doing fabrication on a constant basis when it came
to computer access, we actually would have
a microwave and get plastic and warm up these pieces
of plastic and then cut out these little holes and all that. It was fascinating. Thankfully, now we don’t
have to do that as much, because we have over 600 other
options when it comes to keyboards and input. Down below, you see that there’s
actually a camera. We’re seeing more and more
cameras on monitors and computers and things
like that that allow for folks who maybe
need more of a visual. They could maybe need to use
sign language or what have you. Then they can access. And then over to the lower
right, we have an image of a person who is using a
really cool type of technology where they’re using their mouth. It’s called—how do you say it? GlassOuse? Thank you, I always mess
that up. GlassOuse. And so but, it’s a very cool way
that the person is able to control the computer just
by using their mouth and their tongue
and all of that. So multiple ways to access. We encourage you not to be
limited by what is just sitting in the office right now. Think outside of that and know
that we can help. When we’re talking
about environment, I mentioned light. What I mean by that, there’s
more and more research that’s showing that light
absolutely affects our mood. Right now, there are light bulbs
that are out there that have anywhere
between 1.4 million, 1.6 million different types
of shades of light. The Philips Hue, which I’m sure
Liz is going to tell you about in a few minutes. You can adjust the sound level. Sound is a big deal,
and making sure that you can actually
adjust that is important. Positioning where the windows
are or what have you. There’s a whole group of folks
that work here that didn’t have access to a window and they
really wanted that. I was like, let’s get you
next to a window and it really did seem to help. Also, the décor overall. Pay attention to those things and how that can really
help make folks happy and more productive. Danny Housley:
I just wanna point out, the image that’s up here
is of an office. And some people would look
at this image and think, oh, that’s wonderful. Look at all that natural light
coming in. Look at those open floor plans. I looked at this and for me, or for somebody
with a visual disability, being that close to light
isn’t great. Also, if you look, there’s two
computers and you can see the front monitor and you see
all of that light reflecting, the window reflecting
off of the computer. So those are things to consider,
just that kind of positioning. This looks very nice. It looks like a very clean work
environment, but for some people, that would
be not an ideal work situation. Carolyn Phillips:
So all kinds of images of environmental alterations. There’s a headset up here. There’s also a noise-canceling
device where it could give you
that background sound. There’s screen shades
that you can pull down, what have you, ways that you can
actually change the colors. If you don’t have one of those
fancy light bulbs, that you could actually
put transparency or some type of screen above and
then other types of lighting. All kinds of solutions so
don’t be limited. Liz Persaud:
When it comes to environmental controls,
there are so many options available out there. We are actually at the point where it’s not just thinking
about your home setup, what you can do in your living
room or your family room or your bedroom,
even in your bathroom. You can definitely position
environmental controls to be successful
in the workplace. Environmental control unit,
or ECU, as it’s often called, is an electronic AT,
assistive technology, that allows a person
with a disability to access equipment
in their environment. This could be anything
from lights, to doors, to door locks,
you know, controlling your safety,
the thermostat, the temperature,
even your television, other modes of entertainment. They can be activated
several different ways. Three different ways to think
about is switch access, voice access,
or even both. A switch is actually a physical
device that activates the ECU. Somebody would actually use
their finger or their hand or actually their knee,
their foot, their head, any body part that is working
well that isn’t causing too much repetitive motion, they can actually use a switch
to control that device. You can use your voice just by
giving a verbal command that triggers a function. Throughout this series that
we’ve been presenting to y’all over the past week, I’ve spoken
about being able to use my voice to control everything
from lights, to door locks, to thermostat,
my entertainment and even just communication. Very easy ways to go about doing
that. Then, of course, you can do it
both ways, using the switch and voice. The ability to use either
of the above, depending on the need
and the circumstance, is so important to consider. Oftentimes, I am using a switch
because the environment I’m in doesn’t allow me to use
my voice. Other times, I don’t want to use
my voice because maybe I feel fatigued. But then there are times
that maybe it’s difficult for me to reach that switch or
I just don’t have that energy but my voice is doing well. So being able to have
the options of using either/or increases that independence. So it’s really important
to always look for ways to customize your options. So Danny and I will go back
and forth and we’ll talk a little bit about smart
speakers and digital assistants. We’re living in just
an incredible time where all of these smart
speakers that people are often buying just to really
listen to music or to say, you know, hey Alexa, or hey
Google, what’s the weather or what’s my commute to work? With these smart speakers
and digital assistants, you can do some really cool
things that can really help someone be
independent in the workplace. So something like
device automation. Device automation allows
your device to carry out several functions
with a single command. It basically follows recipes,
if you will. So for example, you could set
something up, a device automation that says,
when I arrive home, unlock the door, activate
welcome home lights, and set the temperature
to 72 degrees. There are so many things that
you can do just by pulling into the driveway and the GPS
location says, OK, Liz is home, I’m gonna set reminders, I’m gonna set the lights
a certain way, temperature a certain way,
maybe unlock the back door so that way when Liz gets in,
she can just pull the lever and let the dog out
in the back yard. So all sorts of ways that you
can go about making your environment and your
systems automated. You can do that through iOS
with Siri Shortcuts or through an extra component
called Tasker for Android. So within Amazon Echo, Alexa features are something
called “skills.” So basically, within skills,
you can link multiple actions to a single command. So for example, you can actually
have it set up in your Amazon Echo so that
before 11:00 AM, when you say, “Turn on the kitchen,” it opens
the shades and it turns on the coffee pot. It just automatically does
all of these things for you through one command. After 5:00 PM, you could say,
“Turn on the kitchen,” or even, “Turn off the kitchen”
and it closes the shades and it turns on the lights. Again, this is all available through the Amazon Echo
products, Alexa skills, including the Echo Button
support as well. Danny Housley:
Some more Alexa features: You’ve got things like routines. Again, those are schedules
that you set up. You can do broadcast,
so you can have it to where if you have
multiple Echos throughout your home,
which a lot of people do, they can play music on every
speaker or they can do drop-in
to check on someone. You can make an announcement. You can use your Echo setup
like an intercom. Again, we talked about skills. There’s lots of different
skills. There are skills for information
access, for literature access. There’s skills that you can set
up to do those automations, you can play Audible books
on it. Then, again, you can order
and track Amazon purchases so you can see, you know, when
is that bleach getting here? When are my sponges
going to arrive? Apparently, I have a thing for
cleaning products right now. But just kind of knowing,
being able to track that without having to whip out the
computer or a phone or a tablet. You can just kind of quickly
access that. Liz Persaud: Before Danny goes
into some of the routines and details of Google Assistant
features, I just want to bring everyone’s
attention to the series of Google Home products. They are expanding, so we
encourage you to take a look and to research all of these
products. Google Home products,
they’re smart speakers. You’ve got the traditional
Google Home. If you see the image over here
to the right-hand side, within that one image
on the left upper corner is the Google Home. The Google Home Mini
is in the bottom right. That’s that circle speaker,
if you will. The Google Home Max,
that’s that big daddy in the upper-right corner. It’s pretty big and it
definitely emits that sound. Music, if you’re an audiophile,
this is great for you because you could definitely
broadcast that music, even broadcast, as Danny
was speaking about that a minute ago, just broadcasting
in general. Using it as an intercom feature
is really great. And then a smart display,
the Google Home Hub is actually really cool. That’s at the bottom left. So that gives you that visual,
so when you say, “What’s my commute this morning
into work?” it will actually pull up the map for you
and give you some visuals. When you ask for weather,
it pulls up the temperature and gives some visuals. Maybe it’s the sun or partly
cloudy. So definitely encourage you all
to check out the Google Home product series. Danny Housley:
The great thing about all of these smart speakers is,
from an acquisition standpoint, a lot of them are really
affordable. The Google Home Mini,
the Echo Dot, those are things where you can buy several
of them and incorporate them throughout your home. Carolyn Phillips:
And throughout the workplace. It’s so funny, with the Google
Home name, is that a lot of times people
do focus on that home, but you’re right on:
We have things like this throughout our workplace
and it’s awesome. Danny Housley: Absolutely. With Google Assistant, you see
a lot of features similar to what you can do
with the Echo. If you go to the Google Home
app, you open up Account Settings
and Assistant Routines, you can set up those things
to where you can give one verbal command and it’s going to execute
multiple things. By just saying, “Welcome home,”
it’s going to open the blinds and adjust the lights
and change the temperature and all that good stuff. It’s really good because that
helps wear down on fatigue. Again, if you’re coming
into the office, you can come into the office
and say, “Good morning,” and it’s going to adjust your
lights the way you need them, it’s going to activate whatever
devices you have attached to it, to alter your environment. Pretty great stuff that you
can do with that. Again, with routines, if you
open up Account Settings, Assistant, and Routines, you can
add custom commands. You can say one thing and
Google Home will carry out more than one. Multiple phrases for a single
command can also be put in there. Keeping that in mind. Another thing is—when we look
at wearables, a lot of things are changing now
with wearable technology. You’re seeing this incorporated
more and more in the workplace, sometimes high-tech and
sometimes low-tech. The upper left-hand corner,
those are called Cyber Eyez. It does optical character
recognition. If you’re reading documents,
it’s gonna scan that page and read it out to you. It also has Seeing AI built
into it so that if you—again, if you’re doing that OCR, if you
need to identity something, if can’t quite make out
what that device is, it can help with that. In the middle center, you have
the NuEyes device. That’s a head-based video
magnifier, so that’s great for reading
documents. It’s great for if you’re in a
presentation and you’re needing to see the screen or the thing
that’s being written. It’s good for distance.
It’s good for up close. With it, you can change
the contrast. You can do a lot of different
things with it. When we talk about low-tech,
in the lower left-hand corner, some very subtle product
placement. Something as simple as a hat. Something with a brim on it can
make a work environment more comfortable. If you have fluorescent lights
directly above you, having a brim cuts down on
the glare that you’re gonna be getting when you’re reading
a computer monitor or when you’re reading
a document. It really does make
a big difference. The next time you’re
under a light source, if you just take your hands
and make a brim, you’re gonna notice
a difference. So keeping those low-tech
solutions in mind. They’re just as important
as the high. On the right-hand side
at the top and bottom, you’ve got two different
wearable devices. The top is the Apple Watch
and the lower is a FitBit. Those are great for staying
on task, monitoring your steps, monitoring your health
and wellbeing. But also, you can have your
calendar alerts put in there so that you know, oh, I’ve got
a meeting, I’ve gotta move. In the lower middle, you’ve got
the Lumo lift, which is a device for posture,
monitoring your posture to make sure that you’re
sitting up straight and that you’re being aware
of how you sit. Liz Persaud: I just want to let
everybody know that as soon as Danny talked about
that, everyone in the room sat up straight. Happens all the time. Some other awesome technology
that we want you all to consider when it comes to successful
employment is the idea of telepresence robots,
or as we often say, “being in two places at once.” This is just one example. There are many different
products out there. There’s Beam.
There’s Double Robotics. This is called VGo. It’s a telepresence robot. Basically, a telepresence robot
enables a person to “replicate” themselves
in a distant location and have the freedom
to move around as if they were physically
there. In these images to the right,
you can actually see me being broadcast through the VGo. I was working from my home
office that day and that image at the top is me at the office in our conference
room. At the bottom, I’m actually
talking to my team member, Doug Neal. Again, I was offsite, but
the robot is onsite and I’m able to control that through my
computer or another method just by driving around,
speaking to people, and actually just being able
to communicate. This could really benefit
somebody who deals with low energy, fatigue, maybe
has—as Carolyn was talking about earlier, not everybody
has to drive. There are different options
to attend work. As an employer, the benefit
could be that it reduces travel costs, as well, too. So it’s really, again, just
that win-win-win situation, as well, so we encourage you all
to definitely research more telepresence robots
out there. Another is a Kubi. This is just a smaller version
of a telepresence robot. This actually sits
on the tabletop. The image is there to the left. You can see different tablets
that it’s holding. You can dock your tablet for
remote pan and tilt controls. You can interact
with individuals during a conference call. The great thing about this is
you can use any video client, Skype, FaceTime,
Google Hangouts, you name it. Again, with Kubi, you’re not
able to drive it around like the VGo and other robots,
but again, this one can sit on a table and it’s a great way
for communication, working with your team,
providing presentations, and just being present
in the workplace. Danny Housley:
So some mobile device options for accessibility. Things for organization,
that’s vital. Something like Wunderlist
is a good option. It syncs across all your
devices. You can make to-do lists,
you can have your tasks, you can color-code things. It’s really good for tracking
all of the things that you need to do. Reminders on your phone. Every phone is gonna have
a Reminders app, every smartphone. So you can use that as a good
feature. There’s an app called Things. It’s not just a word up there
for fun. Things is an actual app. I use it. Again, it’s great for making
lists. It’s great for doing step
by step with certain tasks. So you can have one broad
category with multiple steps within it, and then within those
steps, you can have, OK, here’s what I have to do,
here’s when I have to do it. You can prioritize things. It’s very good. And then notetaking apps. Rather than carrying around
paper and pencil, if you have a tablet device
or a smartphone, you could use apps
like GoodNotes, Notes, or Live Annotations where
you can actually take a webpage and just draw on it so that you
have your notes and all of that in one place. Don’t forget about our
App Finder Database. We mentioned this before, but we
always like to reinforce that. If you go to our website,
www.gatfl.gatech.edu, on the right-hand side you’re
gonna see our App Finder Database. That has a lot of options
that are curated by our staff. We’ve gone through
these apps. We’ve tested them out
and curated kind of the best of the best that we’ve
come across. Carolyn Phillips:
As we conclude, we really want you to think
about and know that folks with disabilities can thrive
in the workplace. There’s no doubt about it. Sometimes it’s just us removing
the barrier, whether that’s a physical,
attitudinal, environmental, electronic, the list goes on
and on. We can do that. And truly, assistive technology,
it supports and it creates that environment for success. So know you’ve gotta think
outside the box. We’re happy to think
outside the box. We live outside the box. We can do that so that we can
make an environment that’s welcoming for all. Liz Persaud:
Here’s our contact information. Again, we’re with
Tools for Life, Georgia’s Assistive Technology
Act program.

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