Access Assistant: a new KPR project funded by NIDILRR

Koester Performance Research is a partner in the newly-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (the RERC on AAC). KPR’s projects focus on ensuring effective and efficient physical access to AAC for people with severe motor impairments.

Photo of a man using a switch to access a computer. Text says Access Assistant: a new project funded by NIDILRR

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How to do a remote assistive technology assessment

Because of Covid-19, there’s a greater need for assistive technology practitioners to conduct remote assessments. This post presents a method used by occupational therapist Charlie Danger to assess for eyegaze access remotely.

How to do remote assistive technology assessments. Photo of Charlie Danger in front of two computer monitors: one showing a client's face and one showing the client's on-screen keyboard.
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Assistive technology for Rett syndrome: a systematic review

Have you seen the 2019 systematic review covering assistive technology as an intervention for individuals with Rett syndrome? If not, read on for a summary of the research on assistive technology for Rett syndrome.

Assistive technology for Rett syndrome: a systematic review. Photo shows a young girl using a computer-based AAC system. An adult is alongside her, holding her hand.
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A problem with two-switch scanning in iOS 13 and how to fix it

After upgrading my iPad to iOS 13, my setup for two-switch scanning in Switch Control stopped working. Here’s what happened, and how I fixed it.

Picture of an iPad with two switches connected via a Tapio interface.  Caption rades A problem with 2-switch scanning in iOS 13 and how to fix it.

Overview

I recently ran into an unexpected problem getting my external switches to work when using two-switch scanning with iPad Switch Control. After wrestling with the problem and eventually fixing it (or at least finding a workaround), I thought I’d share what I learned in case it can save somebody else some time.

Here’s a quick bottom-line synopsis: If you are using a Tapio interface for two-switch input with an iPad, set your Tapio to generate 1 and 2 for outputs, rather than the Space and Enter default outputs.

Read on for more details on the problem and exactly how to implement this solution.

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How to measure performance when typing with Morse code

Morse code is an intriguing access option for people who use switches. Here’s how to measure performance when typing with Morse, to see how well it’s working for you and how it compares to other access methods.

How to measure performance when typing with Morse code. Screenshot shows inset of iPad Morse keyboard and the Word test from Compass software.

Morse code can be an effective way to type using only one or two switches. For some people who need switch-based access due to physical impairments, Morse might work as well or better than methods such as switch scanning. Reports of typing speed with Morse in the literature are encouraging but sparse. And in the end, what matters most is how well it works for a given individual. To address that, we need to measure typing performance with Morse.

How do we do that, in a way that’s accurate, straightforward, and time-efficient? We’re going to use KPR’s Compass software for access assessment to measure our Morse typing speed and accuracy. This post describes how to do this and shows you how it went the first time I used Morse code.

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Learn Morse code with the Morse Typing Trainer

The Morse Typing Trainer is a website that helps you learn Morse code. It helped me learn the letter codes in about 30 minutes. This post shows you how to use the Morse Typing Trainer and gives you an idea of what it does and does not do.

Learn Morse code with the Morse Typing Trainer. Screenshot showing the code for E: a dash used as a pupil in an Eyeball.

The introduction of Morse code text entry for iOS and Android has lowered the barrier for trying Morse code as an access method for people who use switches. In earlier posts, I’ve described how to set up Morse code on the iPad and reviewed the typing speeds that have been reported for experienced Morse users. But what’s a good way to learn Morse code in the first place? And how long does it take? The Morse Typing Trainer is a new resource to make this fairly easy and fun.

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AT-node: explore the data on typing with assistive technology

How fast can people with physical disabilities type when using different assistive technologies? Find out with our free AT-node for access website. Use the evidence to enhance your understanding.

I’ve mentioned our free AT-node website in other posts (like this one with a neat infographic), without really demonstrating what it is, so in this post, I want to give you a quick introduction to using the AT-node website.
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Better typing with keyboard assistive technology

Here’s another great example of how a simple change to a user’s computer setup can make a big difference, in this case using keyboard assistive technology. Read on for a summary of this 2018 case study from the University of Bordeaux.

Better typing with keyboard assistive technology. Photo on the left shows original keyboard, with user typing with left hand. Hand is partially curled up, with index and middle fingers extended. Photo on the right shows keyboard with assistive technology to enhance typing: keyguard, angled stand, and forearm rest.
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