AT—Helping to Connect People with People and Words, in Two Languages

September 2012

Ms. Prioli demonstrates device.
Ms. Prioli provides hand-over-hand guidance to Rafael Rivera to explore the mechanics of the PEARL device.

Jamie A. Prioli and Karen Latimer, assistive technology (AT) specialists with Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology, a program of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, recently demonstrated a variety of devices to a several members of a life skills class from the Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ASB).

The demonstration featured assistive devices for people with vision impairment to aid in reading, computer access and telecommunications. Several members of the class at ASB, based in Center City Philadelphia, made the entire morning a learning experience, working on travel, orientation and mobility. The four students are learning English as a second language and were joined by their teacher, who also acted as their interpreter. The entire group navigated the public transportation system to travel to the Institute offices, located on the main campus of Temple University.

Ms. Prioli began the demonstration with the Pocket Plextalk (Shinano Kenshi Co., Ltd.), a digital book reading device and voice recorder. Student Janet Gonzalez, loved how useful, and portable, it was! She said that it fit her lifestyle so well that she is definitely thinking about purchasing it. Ms. Prioli said that she was ready to take home the demonstration model!

Devices that aided reading in Spanish, were of particular interest to the group. Ms. Prioli demonstrated the PEARL Portable Reading Solution with OpenBook software (Freedom Scientific). Using the PEARL camera connected to a laptop with OpenBook software, students snapped pictures of printed reading material. The pictures were then converted into audio format for accessible reading within seconds. Initially, the Spanish sounded more like phonic English, but after some adjustment, the voicing had a more authentic traditional Spanish pronunciation.

Ms. Latimer demonstrates phone.
Ms. Latimer demonstrates Geemarc BDP400 amplified telephone

On the telecommunication side, Ms. Latimer demonstrated Geemarc BDP400 amplified telephone with tactile buttons, high contrast and talking features. The telecommunication devices, and how they would help daily living, had a great impact on the group. Two of the four participants have already completed an application to receive the telephone through the Institute's Telecommunication Device Distribution Program, absolutely free.

These, and the other assistive technology devices demonstrated, are certain to improve the lives of these individuals.

The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, College of Education, is Pennsylvania's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disability Research, Education and Service, one of 67 in the country. The Institute—through its more than 20 active programs which encompass training, information and assistance, and service to, for and with people with disabilities and their families—work to create a society where all people are valued and where all people have the knowledge and opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of others.

The Institute's website is:

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