Whether you’re a football fan or just in it for the beer and Buffalo wings, you’ve probably taken note of the eagerly awaited TV commercials that air during the Super Bowl. Advertisers spend millions of dollars to reserve coveted spots during the game when they know they can capture the attention of millions of American consumers. Though media outlets such as The New York Times claimed Super Bowl 2019 “played it safe” with its advertisements this year, one Microsoft commercial called “We All Win” was a standout.
The commercial features a group of children with physical disabilities who describe how Xbox’s adaptive controllers make it possible for them to play video games, just like their friends. Depending on the user’s abilities, the controller can be used with the user’s hands, feet, head or mouth. Or as one boy in the ad puts it: “No matter how your body is, or how fast you are, you can play.”
Although ads featuring people with disabilities are still few and far between, we are seeing them more frequently than in the past. In fact, this isn’t the first Super Bowl ad that portrayed people with special needs using Microsoft products. In 2014, the company aired a commercial starring Steve Gleason, a retired NFL player with Lou Gehrig’s disease, who used a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet with eye tracking technology in order to communicate. A year later, the company created another Super Bowl commercial that demonstrated how Microsoft’s technology helped a young boy with prostheses participate in athletics.
At Enabling Devices, we spend our days creating and adapting toys and other products so that people with disabilities can get in the game. Whether it’s switch-adapted toys, augmentative & alternative communication devices, assistive technology, sensory or training products, Enabling Devices is working to make all aspects of life more accessible to people with disabilities.
Kudos Microsoft! We’re glad to see that companies like yours are doing their part to raise awareness about the needs of all people and to encourage inclusive play and universal access. In the future, we hope that other companies will follow their lead.
Imagine knowing what you would like to say, but not being able to say it? Thanks to augmentative and alternative (AAC) devices, many children and adults with communication disorders are finding their voices.
POSM (patient operated selector mechanism), a “sip-and-puff typewriter controller” in 1960 and the “Comhandi, an electronic letter board” a few years later, twenty-first century technology has taken AAC to an entirely new level. Today, individuals who are non-verbal or unable to speak clearly due to autism, deafness, developmental disabilities, cerebral palsy, strokes, vocal and swallowing disorders have many options for self-expression.
When choosing a communication device, it’s essential to take the user’s individual needs into account. Not every communicator is appropriate for every person. If you’re unsure what kind of device to purchase, consult with a therapist, special educator or reach out to the folks at . We’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.
For the beginner
Is basic communication what you’re after? These one and two message communicators are easy to use. Record songs, jokes and greetings. Use them at home, work, to start a conversation, or to order at a restaurant. Learn to activate one or two messages, then move up to three, four or six!
This basic communicator records one 20-second message. Big Talks come in five colors and also act as a switch that can activate another device.
Talkable II #2400
This basic communicator records two messages of 20 seconds each. Includes built-in holder to display a word, picture or icon. Also available as Talkable III (records three messages) and Talkable IV (records four messages) and Talkable IV with 12 levels. Each level has room for four 6-second messages.
For the visually impaired
Bright lights and colors, high contrast, and easy to recognize textures make our communicators for the visually impaired easy to use.
Talkable II for VI # 2600
Our Talkable II for the visually impaired is purposely designed with two different colored switches, each outlined in black, to make finding and activating the device’s switch easy to locate. The Talkable II features 20 seconds total recording time. Users can record one or two messages. This communicator is also a good choice for users who have difficulty with fine motor control.
Cheap Talk 6 for VI #6056
This communicator’s bright red and yellow switches make it easy for visually impaired users to find and select their pre-recorded messages. With six levels, the Cheap Talk 6 provides up to 225 seconds of recording time.
Totally Tactile Communicator #2046Y and #2046
This communicator is a great choice for those new to communication devices or who prefer using touch to select the device’s pre-recorded messages. The Totally Tactile Communicator offers six levels and 300 seconds of recording time.
For those on the go
Wearable tech is all the rage, so why be weighed down by a large or bulky device?
Wrist Talker #3037 and #3037B
This single-message communicator looks like a wristwatch and allows the user to record a 10 second greeting.
Hip Talk Plus #5020
This totally portable communicator, worn around the waist includes 300 seconds of recording time, auditory cueing and fantastic sound quality. Enabling Devices also sells two similar devices: the Hip Talk 12 with levels #5013, which enables the user to record 60 five-second messages and the Hip Talk #5004, which allows the user to record 4 five-second messages.
Small Talk with built-in icon holder #4201
A more portable version of our popular Big Talk, the small talk includes a special holder that displays an icon, word or photo.
Talk 4 with Levels #2500
This powerful communication device gives users access to 12 recording levels and 300 seconds of recording time. The Talk 4 offers single jack automatic scanning with LED illumination and three scanning speeds. Weighing less than one pound and equipped with an adjustable carrying strap, this communicator is both functional and portable!
For fun and learning
These communicators will help children to express themselves while they play.
Lego Communicators #1049D and #1049L Who doesn’t love Lego? This one message communicator will motivate children to learn language while inspiring creativity.
Talking Bubble with Lights and Vibration #2230 This four-message recorder/player helps its user to communicate while also providing visual and tactile sensory experiences.
Hot off the press, our new Language Facilitator #5310 promotes functional communication. Mirror, mirror … This two switch communicator helps users learn to speak by recording and playing back their utterances. At the same time, the Language Facilitator’s attached mirror provides users with an opportunity to see how their mouths move when making particular sounds.
iPads for communicating
When considering AAC devices, don’t overlook the communication opportunities afforded by iPad technology. According to Andrew Leibs, writing for About Tech,
“Apps on portable devices such as the iPad, can help non-verbal children to communicate basic needs. Intuitive apps that employ colorful images and sounds can also hold a child’s attention long enough to learn and offer effective tools to build vocabulary and reinforce word knowledge.”
Enabling Devices’ iPad Wireless Switches #1164 and #1167 provide access to hundreds of compatible apps available on your Bluetooth-equipped iPad, iPhone or Android device. Both switches have internal interfaces, so there’s no need for wires.
Enabling Devices offers a Tabletop system #1589, which includes a mounting platform, designed for easy access to all of the iPad’s electronic ports and a removable tabletop base to hold your iPad at just the right angle.
The Mounting System #1556 includes a mounting platform, an expandable light duty arm and a clamp with which you can mount the system to a wheelchair or tabletop. The iPad Mounting Platform #1566 can also be purchased separately.
A free chart of switch accessible apps can be found on our website.
March is not only the first month of spring, it’s also National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. While raising awareness about disabilities and the obstacles facing individuals with disabilities is an ongoing effort, in recent years, advances in technology have gone a long way toward making the obstacles they face, more surmountable.
“Mobile devices have become incredibly popular for their ability to weave modern conveniences such as Internet access and social networking into the fabric of daily life,” writes Larry Greenemeier for Scientific American. “For people with disabilities, however, these devices have the potential to unlock unprecedented new possibilities for communication, navigation and independence.”
With the introduction of Apple’s iPad in 2010, people with all sorts of disabilities could gain access to hundreds of apps by just activating a switch. For those new to switch technology, switches come in a variety of shapes, colors, sizes and types. The choice of which switch to use depends upon users’ abilities as well as how they plan to interact with the technology. Enabling Devicesoffers switches and switch-related accessories to make iPad use accessible to everyone. Check out these products:
To use your own switches with your iPad, you’ll need switch interface. Just plug in the switch of your choice and gain access to hundreds of switch accessible apps on your Bluetooth-equipped iPad or tablet! Our new model features six modes that provide additional functions. To see a demonstration of how to operate the iPad wireless switch device, click here….
The one switch is the simplest type of switch. A great tool for teaching kids about cause and effect and making choices, one switch devices are also appropriate for beginning users and those with significant cognitive or physical impairment,” says Enabling Devices tech guru, Vinny Livoti! To see a demonstration of how to operate the iPad wireless switch, click here.
The two switch is somewhat more complex than the one switch and gives users more navigation options. Those who are physically and cognitively able and/or more experienced with switch technology, may prefer two switch interface because it is faster, and doesn’t have the same timing requirements as the one switch, Livoti explains. Setting up two switch scanning is easy, says Livoti. To see a demonstration of how to operate the iPad wireless switch, click here.
“The first switch moves the cursor around the screen and the second switch makes the user’s selection.” Be sure to turn off auto scanning!
As Apple.com explains: “Switch Control allows you to navigate sequentially through onscreen items and perform specific actions using a variety of Bluetooth-enabled switch hardware. Switch Control is customizable for both beginners and advanced users — you can simplify existing actions or create your own.”
Once you’ve decided what kind of switch suits you best, it’s time to explore apps! You can find an extensive of switch accessible apps for the iPad hereand apps specifically for individuals on the autism spectrum, here.
If you have thoughts about technological accessibility you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you. Talk to us on Facebook or Twitter.
Interested in learning more about Enabling Devices? Visit our website at enablingdevices.com or read our blog.