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The Brand New Trabasack Media Mount

The team at Trabasack have been busy working away for the last few months on a brand new product. The Media Mount has been under wraps for some time but it’s due its nationwide launch very soon and is an exciting new addition to the Trabasack family. In particular, this product is something we think will work fantastically with a range of communication aids we have discussed via this blog.

A Closer Look at the Media Mount

Use your Media Mount to support your iPadOn first looking at the Media Mount, you may wonder what exactly it is. Flexible and extremely easy to manipulate, the Media Mount is a brand new multifunctional mounting device, which allows items to be held in specific positions on the Trabasack Connect tray surface. Whether it’s your iPad or your bottle of juice, the Media Mount is designed to ensure your item of choice stays strictly in its specified place. Maleable and easy to manage, the Media Mount is also fitted with two large grab handles to make shaping extremely straightforward. The Mount can be twisted and bent in any shape to accommodate your item and is an addition to the Trabasack range which significantly enhances and furthers its usability.

The Media Mount is made from soft hook and look receptive material with a Velcro strip attached to one side, making it extremely straightforward to attach to your Mount to the Connect surface of your Trabasack and therefore secure your item in place.

The Media Mount and Communication Aids

As already mentioned, we believe that the Trabasack Media Mount is a product which can be used effectively in conjunction with many communication aid devices to make use even more straightforward and simple. For example, a Media Mount could ensure your Lightwriter Swift or iTalk2 is perfectly secured to your Trabasack surface, in the right position to ensure you can use it with ease and without having to stress or strain.

Trabasack Curve & Media Mount Feat. iPad Communication App ProLoquo2Go

We have talked many times about how useful iPads are for communication and the Media Mount was designed with iPad and tablet technology in mind and can be perfect for positioning your iPad exactly where you need it to access your apps comfortably and add a further ease of use to your communication needs.  What’s more if you’re thinking of undertaking a feat of innovative genius and creating your own Frankenkindle, the Media Mount could come in use once again. The many uses of the Media Mount should not be discounted and it can make your Trabasack even more versatile and essential to every day life.

Currently, the Media Mount is available via the Trabasack website but will soon be launched via Amazon and other platforms.

 

Introducing the new Lightwriter Swift

Introducing the new Lightwriter Swift

A closer look at the new Lightwriter Swift

Toby Churchill Ltd, the innovative creators of the original Lightwriter, have launched an updated model this year and we’d like to give it a full introduction. The Lightwriter Swift is a brand newly designed and portable AAC device, the smallest device of its type in the world. Achieving text-to-speech communication from this small portable device could not be easier and to show off its quality, give consumers a chance to give it a test drive and so its manufacturers can answer your questions, the Lightwriter Swift is going on tour in January 2012.

In January, consumers will have the chance to try out the new Lightwriter Swift in four locations across the UK and it also gives you the chance to pose any questions to representatives of Toby Churchill Ltd including any feedback you may have about the new product. As well as touring the UK, the Lightwriter Swift will also be at ATIA 2012 in Orlando, giving the US market a chance to see the quality of this new innovative design.

During each UK tour stop, a designated Swift Café will be open from 10am until 8pm giving you plenty of time to put across any questions you may have and get a good feel for this new piece of kit. During the day Toby Churchill Ltd will also schedule three designated Lightwriter Swift Launch seminars giving you the chance to see it in action from the perspective of someone who knows the product inside out. To register for one of these Lightwriter Swift seminars you can do it online.

A Trabasack Mini acts as a level surface for your Lightwriter

The Lightwriter Swift is going to make communication on the go even simpler and remember, the Trabasack Mini is perfectly designed to hold and protect your Lightwriter device when not in use and acts as a great level platform when you’re chatting or asking a question. Toby Churchill Ltd stocks our Trabasack Mini model and testify that it is a great choice for protecting and using your Lightwriter.

Honduran Electronics Whizz Creates Homemade EyeTracker Computer Interface

Honduran Electronics-Whizz Creates Homemade Eye-Tracking Computer Interface

Cruz demonstrating his Eyeboard System

Honduran teenager Luis Cruz has used his electronics and programming know-how to create a new homemade eyeball tracker. The device allows users with motor disabilities to enter text into their computer with eye movements as opposed to keystrokes. The device, known as the Eyeboard system, is not a new concept but Cruz has taken things a step further, he’s managed to create a pair of spectacles including his technology for an affordable price (less than £200). The hope is that this homemade eyetracker will mean easier communication will become affordable in developing countries and areas where those with such needs may have no means of communication currently.

A hands-free eye-tracking controlled computer can truly revolutionise the lives of people with specific motor disabilities. It can be the easiest and most effective aid to communication for these individuals and Cruz’ technology is further widening the access to communication aids. Up until this point, eyeball tracking computer interfaces have been too expensive for most, retailing at over £6,000. If Cruz’ can get this new development made as cheaply for others it is really going to help people who need eye-tracking equipment around the world.

Homemade Eyetracker

Over the last twelve months Cruz has been refining and perfecting the Eyeboard system. His system uses some very specific scientific and electronics formulae to result in the basic eye-ball tracking computer interface. Cruz’ system is extremely basic, hence its cheap cost but it allows for letters to be input via eye movement rather than typed in which is a big achievement for a very affordable software system. Cruz developed both the hardware device and the software system needed to turn the eye movements into letters and therefore communication.

Open Source Eye Gaze Technology

The Eyeboard system is a very new development and not yet widely available. Despite this, Cruz is confident he can produce the hardware cheaply, with his prototype spectacles costing under £200. He’s also decided to release his software as open source to speed up development of tools to further speed up users’ communication. Cruz’ development is groundbreaking and is something that can hopefully be rolled out to significantly improve the communication and daily lives of people across the world.

This video further explains Cruz’ homemade eyetracker device and how beneficial it can be for the future of communication:

Voting by iPad

News from the USA: Voting by iPad

An ipad presented with symbols to allow a voter to choose a candidate

An iPad can use symbols to present a range of voting options to a voter

A new way of voting using an iPad has been trialed in the USA. In an interesting way of making voting more accessible they are using iPad for people with disabilities to make it easier for them to vote.

In Oregon, USA they’re thinking innovatively for their up and coming election as reports show that they’re planning to pilot an iPod voting program.

This new program will allow residents of the state who have disabilities and mobility problems the chance to vote via an iPad.  The hope is that by providing an iPad to vote, this will alleviate the problems for people who have previously had issues marking their ballot papers. The new program will allow for a ballot to be pulled up on the iPad screen and the user can simply tap the screen to vote for their chosen candidate. They could also use a ‘sip and puff device’ if they could not use their fingers. The ballot paper can then be printed, it’s as simple as that. The ballot can then be posted by mail just like any other postal vote.

A range of devices were tested by the US state before they opted for the iPad as their chosen voting tablet. Officials explained that it was the simplest and most user friendly device tested. Oregon have been gifted five iPads by Apple and the software was developed by the state IT workers. There are also plans to allow voters to connect the iPad, using Bluetooth, to their own joysticks, paddles and other preferred assistive technology devices using Bluetooth technology. They can also adjust font sizes and screen display options to give even better accessibility.

Accessible voting by iPad in the UK?

This new innovation is being piloted in Oregon but we think that if it is successful then it could be considered for people in the UK. Postal votes were introduced here to enable people to vote who find it difficult to visit a Polling Station. However, Postal votes rely on someone to be able to open an envelope and use fine motor skills to write on ballot papers and return them. For people with significant disabilities this is still an issue and there is also the issue of ensuring that the vote is cast as they wish, even when it is done by a carer or relative. There has also been many cases where postal votes have been used in postal vote fraud. In the last General Election 2010 more than 30 allegations of postal vote irregularities at different boroughs were reported to the police. So the current system has been tarnished by abuse and corruption.

 The use of an iPad for voting could be hugely beneficial by allowing for more independence and privacy in voting for those with significant disabilities who may have needed support to vote or indeed have not voted at all before. A vote could be cast using an iPad or other communication device, with appropriate checks made to ensure the authenticity of the user.

Hopefully, the iPad voting pilot in Oregon will be success and will contribute to  other governments efforts to increase the options and ease of voting for people with communication difficulties or significant disabilities.

Drake Music Needs You

Drake Music Needs You.

How accessible is formal music education in the UK?

The original Skoog

The folks over at Drake Music are conducting a very important and well needed consultation into the accessibility of formal music education and we can all take part. Drake Music is asking everybody to complete on their questionnaires to discover more about the state of formal music education.  Even better,  you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win a new limited edition black Skoog: the accessible and fun musical instrument.

The consultation is taking place on 2nd November and is aiming to help Drake Music identify the disabling barriers blocking access to formal music education. There are two different questionnaires: one directed at disabled young people and musicians, the other for schools and music education professionals. The results of the consultation should be available by the end of 2011 and the ultimate aim is to come up with some solutions / procedures which can improve the accessibility of music education and then this research can be shared with schools, colleges and educational establishments across the country.

We at Trabasack are strong supporters of social inclusion and the accessibility of education to all, be it music or otherwise and therefore we urge you to get involved and have your voice heard by taking part in Drake Music’s consultation.

The limited edition Black Skoog!

For more information and to find a link to the questionnaire, visit the Drake Music website. Drake Music are the only organisation in England who specialise in assistive music technology to break down barriers to participation and at Trabasack, we are more than happy to support their cause!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 November 2011 Update

 The winner of the DM Education Skoog prize draw is announced by a BTEC music student using Clicker 5 software! The prize draw was open to anyone completing a consultation questionnaire into ‘disabling barriers to formal music education’ by 9th Nov 2011. The consultation findings will be published early in 2012. Drake Music will use the findings to draw up a short list of ‘benchmark procedures’ which will be shared with schools, colleges, exam boards and others throughout music education, to try and make formal music education more accessible for SEN/Disabled people.

And the winner is:

Trabasack at Talk Shop 2011

Trabasack at Talk Shop 2011

This Friday, September 30th, Trabasack will be at Talk Shop’s National Speech & Language and Occupational Therapy fair. 2011 is the national year of communication which aims to help highlight the importance of communication, speech and language. We are very pleased to be part of an event embracing this.

 

Talk Shop communtication fair

The Communication Champion, Jean Gross will be speaking at the event and we are very much looking to hear about her work as a champion of the needs of children with communication difficulties.

This one-day event will the be attended by Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists and their assistants and students . There will be a trade area where we will have a stand alongside some of our old friends such as Guy from Disabled Gear. There will also be a resource sharing area, workshops and discussion groups running throughout the day.

 

The event is being held between 9am and 4.30pm in Derby’s Yew Lodge Best Western Hotel in Kegworth, East Midlands. So it is a venue very near to us. The conference facilities will give the professionals in both speech and language and occupational therapy a chance to communicate, share ideas, products and developments.
As one of the many exhibitors at the event, Trabasack we will be taking the opportunity to demonstrate trabasack and its uses to the many professional attendees. We are hoping that they in turn will be able to pass on information about the quality of our product and its uses as a communication aid mount or for speech therapy tools and educational toys.
As well as the other exhibitors showing off their products and services, a number of workshops are available. From Working Effectively in an Inclusive Classroom for professionals who work in an mainstream educational capacity to Sound Foundations – The Power of Music & Sound, the range of workshops is really diverse and bound to interest a range of different delegates.

If you do decide to attend please say hello, we will be the ones making notes on at the workshops on a Trabasack!

 

While doing some research for the conference I found this very interesting new video for the Hello campaign:

Earlier this year, Wendy Lee, Professional Director at The Communication Trust, interviewed 7 children with speech, language and communication needs about their life, their experiences at school and what it’s like to have a communication difficulty.  The Way We Talk is a new film from the Hello campaign showing how speech, language and communication needs can appear in some children through the words of Oliver (aged 8), Attiyyah (15), Luke (4), Jamie (15), Barnaby (6), Aiden (7) and Alex (6).

hello.org.uk

[flowplayer src=’http://www.hello.org.uk/media/5752/8children.flv’ width=512 height=288 autoplay=false]

Making modern gadgetry accessible: The Frankenkindle, a more accessible Kindle

Making an accessible Kindle: The Frankenkindle

The Amazon Kindle is one of the many pieces of kit in the market which are fantastically popular and have revolutionised one of the world’s most popular past times: reading. However, using this eBook reader can be particularly difficult if you have ataxia, a movement disorder or perhaps difficulties with your fine motor skills. So there are lots of people interested in looking for ways of making a more accessible kindle. This was the case for engineer Glenn’s sister who has cerebral palsy but as this picture shows, having an engineer for a brother can be a great asset as he created this fantastic device so she can use her Kindle easily and christened it, the “Frankenkindle”.

Hacking a Kindle

The modified accessible Frankenkindle

As this picture shows, the Frankenkindle is a modified Kindle which allows Glenn’s sister to easily use her Kindle without being affected by the difficulties caused by her cerebral palsy. The tiny buttons in particular were extremely difficult to use but as the video at the bottom of the page from Glenn’s blog shows, it was an extremely technical process on his part to create the accessible eBook reader.

Cleverly, Glenn used the large controls from a children’s eBook reader (produced by VTech) as he realised the controls on this reader were much easier to use but the reader itself only held children’s books. Using his engineering prowess Glenn was able to both mount the Kindle and hack its content so as to reroute the controls to the VTech controller pad making it accessible for his sister.

As it stands, Glenn has yet to trial the Frankenkindle with his sister and it is purely in prototype stage but it will be great to see exactly where it goes next!

On another point, did you know Trabasack are currently developing a new product which will allow you to mount your Kindle or eReader to their lap tray bag? The new ‘Monti’ will be a flexibe low cost mount that will hold a Kindle or iPad in place. For more info contact Duncan{@}trabasack.co.uk or watch this space for updates!

 

The video of the making of the hacked accessible Kindle can be seen below:

 

If you have had a go at hacking a Kindle to make it easier for you to use or have any ideas for making an ‘ accessible kindle ‘ please leave a comment.

Trabasack is available from these Communication Aid companies (to add your company to the list, please email duncan{at}trabasack.co.uk)