[blindkid] Technology question

Richard Holloway rholloway at gopbc.org
Tue May 1 03:55:01 UTC 2012

On the laptop (or for a desktop unit as well) you need to decide PC or Mac, and most PC users will tell you to go PC, while most Mac users will say to go Mac. Try to look at both and see what is the best fit. Much depends on the work to be done and the other machines in use that need to interact, as well as the proficiency of people who will help with the laptop.

If you go Mac, you'll have VoiceOver for free. If you go PC i believe you can get NVDA for free. Of you want JAWS, it will cost about $1000 but in some cases, schools can install a licensed copy for you for free (the same registered user can have multiple installs) PLUS you can try a fully working DEMO copy for free in any case. That works for something like 40 minutes (I can never remember for certain) and then can work again and again for the same interval after a restart. If you already have a PC of your own, you can download a demo right now and have it running in no time, totally free as well. To make it work as a non demo, you enter your software key, no need to reinstall. 

I'm an avid Mac and i-product user (typically sighted) but my daughter (no light perception) is a PC with JAWS user herself. She inputs with qwerty on the PC as well as a Braille keyboard and uses JAWS to listen to her PC as well as reads on a Braille display. More options are good. Always listening is not ideal, but fingers get tired as well. 

With all of that said, her most important piece of gear is her BrailleNote Apex from HumanWare. She does the bulk of her schoolwork on that. So far we have had limited success with the Apex on-line, but we also have concerns about excessive, unmonitored web access, so for us (at age 9) we find a more familiar (to the adults) PC a safer web interface for her. Over time she can decide the best fit for her. 

We use a Braille keyboard unit with a large display (32 cell?). Some prefer a qwerty keyboard. Both are available.

If you go with a PAC Mate, you should get a JAWS license for a PC as well (no extra cost) that can be used typically, but only when authorized by the PAC Mate being plugged into the PC. (by USB) Your school may well provide a notetaker or you can buy one yourself. If the provide, they will most likely buy to their own specs. 

Some units include displays. Some cannot have a display (less common). Still others have add-on, scalable display solutions. There is no single correct answer but here are probably the best two strategies for right now (keeping in mind you may have to accept or work/spend around what the school system may offer.)

1) I believe Future Reflections may have more than one technology article included in an upcoming issue, so look for that soon, and 

2) if you go to Dallas for the National NFB Convention this summer, you can see demos of pretty much anything you would want to think of buying live and in person. Better still, turn your son loose in the technology exhibit and let him tell you what works for him. Do be prepared to spend a fair amount of money if this will be self-funded and you want a comprehensive solution. (you didn't REALLY want to keep that money for retirement did you??)

Good luck!

Sent from my iPad

On Apr 30, 2012, at 11:30 AM, Rosina Solano <colemangirly at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Okay, I have a tech question for you older kids or parents out there.  We are tech deficient and stupid so hoping for input for you more experienced users.
> What do you use your tech for?  For example do you find that you use your notetakers for writting assignments and such?  Do you use it for internet or do you use your laptop more for internet?  For those with smart phones, what do you use them for other than phones?  
> My son has a notetaker and uses it a little for school work, but it will get used lots more this coming year.  He is interested in getting his own email and maybe FB to stay in contact with his friends and some of his mentors.  I am thinking of getting him his own laptop, but JAWS is so expensive, does anyone use any cheaper programs?  What do you use them for?  He wants to keep in touch with his friends far away, and to play online games and look stuff up himself.  I am tech ignorant so don't even know what way to go.  I know all of the items can do this, but realistically what do you use for what applications.
> I hope that I am not rambling;
> Thanks;
> Rosina, Missouri
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