“Find what works for you” is my motto for working with people regarding assistive technology (AT). Personally, I’m biased when it comes to technology, I’m Apple fan through and through, mostly because it works for me. Whether it’s the iPhone, iPad or MacBook, I know that I will be able to have access to features that make the device usable, whether is’t VoiceOver reading the screen, Zoom making things larger for or Dictation allowing me to write a letter or text without using the keyboard.
Thanks to Tools for Life, I have been able to try some different devices and experiment with their accessibility and usability, so I can better demonstrate to our consumers. I was pleasantly surprised by the Microsoft Surface, the Narrator (screen reader) works fairly well with the apps that come installed, but has issues with 3rd party installations, the Magnifier tends to get in the way and doesn’t work the way I’m used to/prefer. It’s a neat experience, and I can definitely see a lot of potential, the fact that you can install full programs on it is very handy and I know a lot of people would like a laptop feel in a tablet.
I’ve also been using the Google Nexus, a tablet that has a great zooming feature, but a less that spectacular screen reader. Getting to learn more about these devices and trying them out first hand has really helped me see the differences of these products. Still, I can say that the iPad still has the most robust and fleshed out accessibility of any tablet I’ve used. Assistive touch and voice commands make the device great for people with mobility/dexterity disabilities. Plus there are built in switch controls that can be used with a keyboard or separate switch controller, the fact that iOS devices can also interact with your hearing aids and there are subtitle/caption options for videos.
If you want more hands on experience with some of these devices you can always make an appointment to come in, or feel free to attend our 2014 Tablet Showdown on Tuesday, December 16th from 1-3pm in our office. There will be a brief presentation and then we will have 2 iPads, 2 iPad Minis, 2 Microsoft Surfaces and 2 Google Nexus tablets for hands on demonstration. Hope to see you then!