2006 Conference General Sessions

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Presenter #1
David Niemeijer
Van Speijkstraat 73-d
Amsterdam Noord Holland 1057 GN
Day Phone: +31-20-6127473
Fax: +31-20-6128266
Email: d.niemeijer@assistiveware.com

Presenter #2
Mel Dashner
Origin Instruments Corporation
854 Greenview Drive
Grand Prairie Texas 75050
Day Phone: 972-606-8740
Fax: 972-606-8741
Email: mdashner@orin.com

Get hands-on experience with AssistiveWare Suite for Mac OS X (on-screen keyboards, word prediction, low vision and AAC software) with the lead developer.

In this lab, participants will be able to get hands-on experience with AssistiveWare Suite, a groundbreaking collection of assistive technology software programs for Mac OS X that can be combined or used and purchased separately, depending on the needs of the user. AssistiveWare Suite consists of 4 programs: (1) KeyStrokes, an onscreen keyboard with word prediction and system-wide dwelling; (2) SwitchXS, a scanning-based switch access solution that provides full access to Mac OS X through keyboard and mouse emulation; (3) Proloquo, an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and speech feedback solution; (4) LayoutKitchen, a keyboard and speech panel editor that can be used to further adapt and customize the other solutions.

Hands-on experience will be useful for any conference participant interested in accessibility and communication on Mac OS X as the components of the AssistiveWare suite are judged by leading experts to be the best of their kind, not only on Mac OS X, but on any platform. The objective of the session is that participants learn how to use both basic and some of the more advanced features of the software and get an understanding of how the software can be put to use most effectively for people with different abilities.

This session is intended as a more in-depth follow-up to the also submitted introductory session and also intended for conference participants already using one or more of the programs and wanting to make more effective use of the software or explore some of the new features.

The session will offer a unique occasion to learn from and exchange ideas with, David Niemeijer, the lead developer of the software. The session will cover both introductory and some more advanced topics. The session will begin with a brief introduction of the AssistiveWare Suite applications. Next, some topics for in depth exploration will be proposed and a quick inventory will be made to see whether participants have any other topics they would like to see covered.  These topics will then be covered in a step-by-step fashion guiding the participants through basic and advanced features. During this hands-on questions are welcomed. Towards the end of the session there will be some time for individual exploration (with the presenters walking around to give personal guidance). The session will be concluded with a short Q&A.

Newcomers will benefit from hands-on experience of the basic features. Advanced users will appreciate learning how to design custom keyboards and speech panels, how to adapt the software for people with visual or speech impairments, how to optimize word prediction for specific disabilities and much more. Where appropriate, the session will also cover the built-in accessibility features of Mac OS X or direct people to solutions developed by other companies. The focus of the workshop will be on how to make effective use of the software and will be adapted where possible to the specific interests of the participants.

The session will be organized jointly by AssistiveWare and Origin Instruments Corporation. AssistiveWare has developed the software covered by the session and Origin Instruments Corporation, a long-time CSUN exhibitor, is the North American distributor of the software and also the maker of the HeadMouse Extreme.

Internet access would be useful but not required for the session.

Below a brief description of the discussed software is given:

KeyStrokes is an on-screen keyboard intended for Mac OS X users who cannot use a physical keyboard, but are able to use a mouse, trackball or head pointer. It allows these users to do virtually anything a hardware keyboard can do, type into any application, use keyboard shortcuts and key-click combinations. In addition, it offers PolyPredix(TM), an advanced, self-learning multilingual word prediction system that reduces typing efforts by a factor 2 to 3, through word prediction. KeyStrokes also offers system-wide dwelling allowing a user to click, drag and type by just holding the cursor motionless for a programmable period of time. It provides SmartTransparency(TM) technology to make the keyboard partially transparent or completely disappear when not in use, yet instantly available when needed for typing. There are many other features and customization options to meet the needs of a wide variety of physically impaired users. By allowing a person with a disability to type dire!
ctly into any application and fully control their computer KeyStrokes opens up the world for people, facilitating communication, enabling them to have regular jobs, write books, in other words, participate fully in society.

SwitchXS is also an on-screen keyboard for Mac OS X, but optimized for switch users. It allows someone who cannot use a physical keyboard and mouse to have full access to Mac OS X using one or more switches. It emulates both mouse and keyboard and allows the user to type into any application, use keyboard shortcuts and key-click combinations and also click, drag and perform other mouse actions. SwitchXS also provides SmartTransparency(TM) to keep the scan panel out of the way when not needed or keep it semi-transparent be able to see what is beneath it. SwitchXS has audio and voice cueing and can even be used for speech synthesis. SwitchXS has many time and effort saving customizable features. Like KeyStrokes, SwitchXS opens up the world to people, giving them access to productivity and creative applications so that users can write, make art, make music and play games. It enables them to communicate through email and chat and participate fully in society.

Proloquo is a multilingual speech solution that works with Apple's build-in voices, but also with the high quality Acapela Multimedia voices (these currently include UK & US English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Polish, Russian and other languages). Proloquo is a multi-purpose, multilingual speech solution for Mac OS X that provides: (1) a full-fledged communication system (AAC) for people who cannot speak; (2) improves accessibility of Mac OS X for people with visual impairments; (3) provides speech feedback in any application while typing for children and people with learning disabilities; (4) can serve as a talking word processor; (5) provides text to speech for people who prefer listening to reading; (6) can be used as a tool to learn the pronunciation of foreign languages; (7) provides an advanced, multilingual speech engine for KeyStrokes and SwitchXS.

LayoutKitchen is an editor for SwitchXS scan panels, KeyStrokes keyboards and Proloquo speech panels. SwitchXS and KeyStrokes users can use LayoutKitchen to create their own scan panels or keyboards with just those keys, controls and functions they need, thereby greatly enhancing the power and versatility of SwitchXS and KeyStrokes. Proloquo users can use LayoutKitchen to create their own speech panels for easy access of commonly used phrases or, when images are used on the buttons, to build communication panels for people who cannot read or write. LayoutKitchen provides many advanced features to create highly customized panels with colored background, labels and buttons, with all kinds of images, and with a variety of powerful functions.

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