The Carroll Center Seeking Cell Phone Testers

In this study of a new cell phone, we are seeking feedback from individuals who are totally blind or functionally blind – meaning that you must rely solely on the non-visual use of a screen reading software such as JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, or TalkBack in order to interact with devices and web content.  Some familiarity with a touch screen device such as a smart phone or tablet is essential, but you must be able to use that device without use of your vision in any way to qualify for participation in this study.

When it’s Happening

We will select a total of 12 qualified individuals for this study.  Each person must be willing to attend a 90-minute testing session scheduled between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. during a 3-day period from March 10 to 13, 2015.  User testing sessions will be held at the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, MA; you are responsible for your own transportation to and from the center.

Compensation

Each selected individual who completes their scheduled 90-minute testing session will receive $120 for their participation in this study.

If You Are Interested

Please send an email to David Kingsbury at david.kingsbury@carroll.org that includes the following information:

  1. Your first and last name
  2. Your telephone number and best time to reach you
  3. Which screen reading software do you currently use for web browsing?
  4. Which smart phone or touch screen device are you familiar with?
  5. Confirm that you do not use any vision to interact with your device

All interested individuals who wish to be considered for this study must respond by email, but you may call David with any questions at 781-974-2001.

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Nationwide Release of the BEP’s U.S. Currency Reader Program to Help the Blind and Visually Impaired

By: Rosie Rios

1/6/2015

The Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is now accepting and processing applications nationwide from blind or visually impaired individuals who wish to receive a currency reader to denominate U.S. currency.  Under the U.S. Currency Reader Program, U.S. citizens or persons legally residing in the U.S. and its territories who are blind or visually impaired can obtain a currency reader device at no cost.  The currency reader, known as the iBill® Talking Banknote Identifier, is compact in size, easy to use, and provides a response within just a few seconds.  A user simply inserts a Federal Reserve note into the device, presses a button on the side, and the reader identifies the denomination.  The device operates on a standard AAA battery and can read U.S. currency in circulation today.  The reader can be set to indicate the note’s denomination by voice, a pattern of tones or series of vibrations.

To apply for a reader, an individual must fill out an application, which is available on the BEP’s website at http://www.bep.gov/uscurrencyreaderform.html.  The application must be signed by a competent authority such as a doctor, therapist or rehabilitation specialist, and then mailed to the BEP at the address listed on the form.  If an applicant has verification of a visual impairment issued by another Federal, State or local agency, a copy of that documentation can be submitted in lieu of certification.

The national rollout of the U.S. Currency Reader Program was preceded by a pilot program conducted in partnership with the Library of Congress’s National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), where NLS patrons were able to pre-order an iBill® Talking Banknote Identifier.  Under the pilot, which ran from September to December 2014, more than 16,000 readers were requested by NLS patrons.

The U.S. Currency Reader Program follows the BEP’s successful development and launch of two free mobile applications that operate through a mobile device’s camera to scan and denominate U.S. currency:  EyeNote®, which operates on the Apple iOS platform can be downloaded for free from the Apple iTunes Store, and the IDEAL Currency Reader, which operates on the Android-based platform, is available on Google Play.  To date these applications have been downloaded more than 20,000 times.  They provide an alternative for those who wish to use their cell phone rather than carry another device.

The U.S. government will continue to research a raised tactile feature for use on the next redesigned Federal Reserve note and will continue to add large, high-contrast numerals and different colors to each redesigned note denomination that it is permitted by law to alter.  The process for redesigning Federal Reserve notes is complex and time intensive.  Notes with any new features are not expected to be in circulation before 2020.

More information about the meaningful access program can be found at the BEP’s website at http://www.bep.gov/uscurrency/meaningfulaccess.html.  For questions about the U.S. Currency Reader Program or assistance with the application process, individuals can call 844-815-9388 toll free or email meaningful.access@bep.gov.

Rosie Rios is the Treasurer of the United States

 

 

 

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MIT’s Open Style Lab Summer Program

Greetings! There are solutions, and there are solutions. A good solution fixes a problem. An awesome solution changes our worldview beyond the problem. At Open Style Lab, we invite you to come up with awesome solutions!

We’re looking for 24 students to be part of our second Open Style Lab summer program at MIT (June 12-Aug 15). Over 10 weeks, we will design, prototype and refine a clothing solution for a client with a disability together. We’ll combine rigorous engineering concepts with strong sense of design and aesthetics.

Eligibility:

  1. Current enrolled in college degree program, or not more than 2 years post-graduation
  2. Design, Engineering or Occupational/Physical Therapy backgrounds

Applications open from now till March 2! Questions? Visit our website or contact Lea Yoon at lea@openstylelab.org.

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Be Prepared- If It Can Break-It Will

How many of you recognize the slogan “Be Prepared”? If you were a Boy or Girl Scout when you were young or have children in scouting you will recognize it.  But be prepared for what?  If you are a person who uses durable medical equipment you should be prepared that it will eventually need repair.

What if you or a loved one are losing mobility due to age or illness? You may need DME options to make you more mobile and safer from falls. Get the device in anticipation of the need.

What do you use when your device is no longer working or when insurance won’t pay for a new device?

The REquipment program is one way to get gently used refurbished equipment for free. Go to the website, www.dmerequipment.org, to see the items now available. It includes over 60 manual wheelchairs, 25 power wheelchairs and other items such as bath benches, sling lifts, standers, adapted strollers and more. Don’t wait until your wheelchair is no longer in service. Do you have a loved one who is becoming more frail and needs a rollator or transport wheelchair? We have them!

Check out the inventory and put your request in online or call 1 866 244 6156 to talk with a staff person about what you need. A small delivery fee may be requested for certain items.

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Better Living for those with Multiple Sclerosis through Use of Technology

HackMS is happening next week!

Bring your tech community together by drumming up support for a hackathon with a meaningful goal. Kicking off February 6 through 8 at District Hall in Boston, Hack MS will bring developers, designers and health students together to help those living with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Teams will compete for $40,000 in prizes by creating tech-based solutions that may help people living with MS better manage their stress.

Because your views on solving problems through science and technology align closely with ours, we believe your followers would greatly benefit from learning more about this event. View Official Rules and Event Details for additional information.

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Triloc GPS Watch

The Triloc GPS watch offers reliability and comfort for those worried about wandering loved ones. Triloc is an innovative and award winning GPS personal locator, incorporating leading edge technology.

Features include:

*2G/3G/4G cellular and GPS technology

*4.0 Bluetooth wireless connectivity

*water resistent to 3 feet

*two-way voice

*SOS/check in button

*lockable strap with tamper alert

*fall detection alert

*airplane mode

*battery life up to 48 hours and more.

How Can I Find the Location of the Person Wearing The Watch?

Using either a computer, tablet or smart phone you can track the location of the watch. Apps for tablets and smart phones are available in the Apple App Store and Android Google Play Store.

What Will It Cost and Will Insurance Pay? It costs $249.95 plus Monthly Voice and Data Plan.  Product cost may be covered by insurance under HCPCS 55162 and ICD-9/10 diagnostic codes for U.S. citizens.

For more information go to: http://www.iloctech.com

 

 

 

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Saftey in the Kitchen

Have you or someone in your family left the stove on and caused or almost caused a fire? CookStop will help prevent unattended cooking fires allowing people to stay longer and safer in their homes. CookStop addresses common situations as well as specific needs.

Cook Stop continously checks for movement in the kitchen.

If the person leaves the room or falls asleep while cooking, CookStop shuts the stove off.

The system is functional upon installation, immediately reducing the chances of a fire.

CookStop is great for: those in senior living, campus housing, multi-family living, busy families and individuals with disabilities.

CookStop can be programmed to lock out cooking during certain hours or put on hold if the item needs to be cooked for a long period of time.

What does it cost?   $359.00

For more information go to http://cookstop.com.

 

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REUSE WORKS!

Some of you may know that a new durable medical reuse program was piloted in the greater Boston area this past year.  You can find it onlne at www.dmerequipment.org. We are celebrating our one year anniversary this month and happy to report that we collected over 100 items and have reassigned over 70 items.

Little did I know when we started to develop this program that I would benefit from it myself. Last May, I had an unexpected surgery which required many months of recovery. Upon coming home from the hospital I found I could only walk short distances, couldn’t climb stairs and felt unsafe standing in the shower. I contacted the program and a manual wheelchair and shower chair were delivered to my home free of charge. They made it possible to get around my home and feel safe from falls.

I have now fully recovered and plan to donate the equipment back to the program so that someone else can utilize it. I know the staff will do a good job to sanitize and refurbish the equipment for the next person. Reuse works!

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Guidance for Comments to Medicare on Speech Generating Devices–due Dec 6th

ACT NOW: Comments to CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) due December 6, 2014

Medicare (CMS) currently is reconsidering its National Coverage Decision (NCD) for Speech Generating Devices (SGDs). As part of that process, CMS will allow interested members of the public to submit comments about future Medicare SGD coverage until December 6, 2014. Please add your voice. Visit the CMS website for more information about Speech Generating Devices.

Please go to www.patientprovidercommunication.org for information that will help you craft cogent and meaningful comments to CMS regarding the National Coverage Determination (NCD) on Speech Generating Devices (SGDs).

The information you will find was prepared by the Medicare Implementation Team, an ad hoc group of AAC clinicians, researchers, advocates, educators, manufacturers, etc., many of whom worked on the 2001 NCD. The group has been meeting weekly since February 2014 in an ongoing effort to address Medicare policy and regulation changes that have so negatively affected access to SGDs for many of the people who need them to communicate.

The Patient Provider Communication link provides 5 steps to help you submit your comments to CMS. As part of the steps, the Patient Provider Communication also provides 8 COMMENTS that are critical to include in a revised NCD for SGDs.
We ask that you copy, cut and paste these comments. Please add additional, personal information and experiences.

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Medicare is Taking Comments on Coverage for Speech Generating Devices until Dec 6th

2014 has been a critical year for how Medicare handles its coverage of SGDs (Speech Generating Devices), and the result has been significant impact on individuals with complex communication needs. Currently the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking comments on a National Coverage Determination (NCD) for SGDs and so the situation remains dynamic. Read Amy Goldman’s explanation of the issues and the history that has led to this policy moment in the latest AT Program News. CMS needs to hear from as many knowledgeable people as possible before December 6th about their experiences and the SGD functions that individuals need. Submit a comment to CMS

Below is a comment from Lauren Bowman submitted on 12/03/14:

Until a few years ago, I had no idea what a Speech Generating Device was. I suppose when I saw images of renowned Physicist, Stephen Hawking, I never considered his computer tablet mounted on his chair enabled him to not only speak to people in his presence, but was the conduit for him to challenge the world of science.

Now that my life has been profoundly affected by far too many people with ALS, I am more than aware of the need for Speech Generating Devices and for them to be available with their full technological abilities. I won’t address the rules “reminder” points (capped rental, eye gaze, locked devices, etc), but instead simply want to point out that this rule sets up a number of barriers that prohibit the patient for what the former Secretary of HHS outlined as “Person Centered Planning”. Not only are these rules barriers, but they also create an unsafe environment and prevent the patient in many cases from managing their own care. While it’s not pertinent to these comments specifically, the rule, if enforced likely costs much more over time than if the patient had full technological access with the SGD and could manage their own care and environment vs having another human complete those tasks. We strongly believe the efforts toward Person Centered Planning (PCP) is most appropriate for a person living with ALS or any other physically restrictive condition where the patient’s cognitive abilities have not changed. In ALS, most often the patient’s cognition is even sharper than before diagnosis. What was written: “PCP must be implemented in a manner that supports the person, makes him or her central to the process, and recognizes the person as the expert on goals and needs. In order for this to occur there are certain process elements, consistent with statutory or regulatory provisions.”

A patient who has the full ability of their SGD can better manage their care, contact and connect with CMS, speak to their physician or care services representative and function as their own, The device would expand their abilities beyond the bedside, making them the central focus on every level in their care plan.

Additionally, their are safety issues when locking the devices. We’ve already seen a few people who needed emergency assistance outside of earshot and their locked devices could not connect with 911 or a caregiver for help.

Finally, I want to add that these devices are not just computers to those who use them. They are an extension of the person. The device allows them to communicate in the same ways we all do in the 21st century. Sit in a single chair for a week, take away your phone and keyboard and you will learn on a basic level what it is like for someone living with ALS and using a locked device. The SGD for many is as important as any medicine. With ALS, there is no treatment, but in most cases, the SGD acts as a medicine or even a prosthetic, allowing them to continue living with purpose, dignity and in centered on their own care.

People like Stephen Hawking are changing and challenging the world with their minds through their SGD’s. CMS is in a unique situation to review old standards and move toward more innovative solutions for patients utilizing current technology, while also leaving the door open for new advances. Let’s not miss another Stephen Hawking in the thousands of people who use or will use these devices.

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