2001 Conference Proceedings

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I've got the Whole World in my Palm

Jorge Maldonado, Management Analyst
Midwest Center for Postsecondary Outreach
St. Paul Technical College
235 Marshall Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55102
651.221.1337 Voice/TTY
651.221.1339 FAX


With the advent of global communications and the global market, being able to stay in touch while traveling has become increasingly important to today's business travelers. While there have been tremendous strides made in development of telecommunications devices such as pagers, cellular phones, and notebook computers, there continues to be a void in access for individuals with communication and/or physical limitation disabilities. This presentation introduces hand held technology on the cutting edge; its current and future applications. The use of this technology can narrow the communication gaps between people with disabilities and those who are not disabled. The Palm Pilot VII family (Palm VII and Palm VIIx) is lightweight and portable, easily used by people with physical mobility and dexterity disabilities, as well as those who have hearing or speech impairments.

Introducing the Palm Pilot VII Family

The Palm Pilot VIIx is brand-new to the market. It is the seventh generation of Palm Pilot, created by Palm Computing, Inc., a 3Com company. The Palm Pilot VII and VIIx are referred to as a connected organizer and is the first handheld device that supports "out-of-the-box" wireless Internet access. 

The Palm Pilot VII fits in a shirt-pocket and features fast data access, long battery life, wireless Internet connectivity, paging and e-mail access. Unlike the RIM pagers with built-in keyboards that are dependent on digital reception from towers, the Palm Pilot VII offers this as well as modem access via telephone lines to access messages, pages, and the Internet. Thus, the traveler is not limited to accessing information via digital towers. Communication options are greatly expanded. 

The Palm Pilot VII weighs 6.7 ounces, measures 5.25" x 3.25" x 0.75", and comes with an operating system, Palm OS version 3.2, that can be easily upgraded through software via Internet download. Its storage capacity is based on memory. Built in 2 MB RAM allows the user to archive approximately 6,000 addresses, about 5 years of appointments, 1,500 to-do items, 1,500 memos, 400 iMessenger messages. The display feature of the PALM PILOT VII integrates new enhanced LCD technology, which makes it easier to see at all angles, in dim light or even in bright sunlight. The Palm Pilot VII is Internet ready with TCP/IP software to support Internet-based applications and e-mail. An Infrared Port is also built into the Palm VII allowing this unit to beam data to other IR-enabled Palm organizers or to interface with different platform devices such as wireless printers, IR notebooks or IR computer ports, and the new IR-enabled phones. The Palm VII connected organizer ships with desktop organizer software for either an IBM compatible or Macintosh computer, a HotSync® cradle that allows the Palm Pilot VII to interface with the desktop organizer, a protective carrying case, a handbook and a subscription to a Palm.net digital wireless network. Wireless service with Palm.net starts at just $9.99/month. It runs on two AAA batteries which last an average of 4 weeks, depending on usage.

Applications for Individuals With Disabilities

The range of applications for the Palm Pilot VII is vast. For example, it can be used in the following ways:

  1. As a Pager for wireless communication
  2. As an Email editor for text messaging with any standard SMTP and POP3 email software. 
  3. For Web clipping for fast Internet navigation instead of Web browsing.
  4. For Web queries for extracting information from Web-base databases. 
  5. As Online Yellow pages for free listings from the Internet.
  6. For portable application programs ranging from desktop applications to financial information to games
  7. As a custom Information compiler, where Individuals can build compilations such as manuals, phone numbers, books, etc.
  8. As a Resource Book for Important documents such as medical records, emergency information, and working files that can be stored and easily accessed.
  9. As a Personal Business Presentation, where Business cards can be scanned, beamed and stored in the Palm Pilot VII.
  10. As a Wireless node for Wireless networks for local LAN communication.
  11. In place of, or in addition to, the Franklin Covey time organizer.
  12. In lieu of pad and pencil that some deaf individuals carry with them to communicate with non-signing individuals, the Palm Pilot VII could meet the same need and save the information for future reference.
  13. To carry out written conversations between deaf and hearing individuals, late-deafened individuals, or persons with speech disabilities. The infrared ports can be activated, thus allowing for written communication between the two units, eliminating communication barriers between the individuals.
  14. To store class notes. The notetaker can take notes on a notebook computer and then transfer the information to the student's Palm Pilot VII via the infrared system.
  15. To facilitate document exchange using the infrared technology. Professors who have Palm Pilot VIIs can view drafts or outlines of papers that student share with them via the Palm Pilot wireless system. Once reviewed, the professor can beam suggestions to the student's Palm Pilot VII. 

The Palm Pilot VII can enhance an individual's life by offering privacy, independence, and flexibility. It is lightweight and portable, unlike a personal computer. While it is not meant to replace a personal computer, it is easier to use and can be connected to a personal computer at a later time for data transfer. Likewise, information created on the personal computer can be transferred to the Palm Pilot VII via wireless connections.

The benefits of the Palm Pilot VII are wide. At $499, the Palm Pilot VIIx is cheaper to purchase than a personal computer. It is also cheaper to purchase and maintain than some of the personal emergency response systems some individuals currently wear. And whereas the personal emergency response system is good only for emergencies to summon emergency personnel, the Palm Pilot VII is good for sending emergency pages as well as all of the other above-mentioned uses. 

Persons with various disabilities can also benefit from the Palm Pilot VII. For example, individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing are severely limited in their access to telephones when they are traveling. By simply pulling up the activation antennae, they can access email, the Internet, and pages, thus eliminating the need to use a telephone receiver. Or, when out of range for wireless digital signal, the Palm modem add-on can be used to gain access to online information by connecting the Palm Pilot VII to a standard phone line.

Individuals with limited mobility and dexterity can also use the Palm Pilot VII. Data can be entered into the Palm Pilot VII in three ways: 

  1. By writing on the screen using a special stylus; 
  2. By bringing up the screen keyboard and touching each letter individually with the stylus or an individual's prosthesis; or 
  3. By Wirelessly transferring data from one wireless device to the Palm Pilot VII. 

Experiential Comments

The author currently is employed with the Midwest Center for Postsecondary Outreach, assisting colleges, universities, and community-based rehabilitation centers in achieving access for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. The author has in-depth experience with Palm Pilot devices over several years. He has stored hundreds of pieces of information related to computer systems, postsecondary education of deaf and hard of hearing students, songs/music, personal telephone and e-mail directories, personal finance, and so forth. 
He has also created an application for Palm VII, especially for use by individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.


The Palm Pilot VII family offers individuals with disabilities readily achievable access to telecommunications and electronic information. Designed with the traveling executive in mind, the Palm Pilot VII is lightweight, small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, and easy to operate, making it an attractive alternative for individuals with disabilities. The Palm Pilot VII offers ready access to paging, e-mail, the Internet, and emergency services not previously accessible to the travelers with disabilities or the person with limited mobility and dexterity. The Palm Pilot VII is on the forefront of technology in this area and most certainly will continue to be enhanced as new uses are discovered.

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