The True Meaning of Memorial Day

Summer is just around the corner, which means people will be dusting off their grills and preparing their Memorial Day picnics.  As time passes, it seems the true meaning of Memorial Day has started to fade.  While many older generations understand the purpose for the holiday, newer generations sometimes either don’t understand or misinterpret its true meaning.  As we prepare for the upcoming holiday weekend, we thought it would be a respectful gesture to highlight some often overlooked facts about Memorial Day:

  1. Memorial Day was originally known as Declaration Day.
  1. It was founded in the post-Civil War era.
  1. Memorial Day officially became a federal holiday in 1971.
  1. Often confused with Veteran’s Day which honors all who have served in the U.S. armed forces, Memorial Day commemorates all those who have died in service to the United States.
  1. A National Moment of Remembrance is observed at 3:00pm local time each and every Memorial Day. During this time, American’s are asked to pause for one full minute to honor those who have died serving the United States.

ASI honors all of the brave individuals who have died defending the United States.  This Memorial Day, as we take time off to spend the day with our own families, we will also be observing a moment of silence and remembering the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms we all know and enjoy today.

photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Graves_at_Arlington_on_Memorial_Day.JPG

Veterans Administration Launches “Access and Quality in VA Healthcare” Website

If you or someone you love is a veteran, the Veterans Administration (VA) has recently launched a new website you will definitely want to check out:

When you land on the website home page, you will find four areas:

  1. How Quickly Can My VA Facility See Me?

Click on this area to determine how quickly you can be seen at a particular VA clinic and to explore same-day services and other healthcare options. You can then access a map which allows you to input your address/location, radius you are able to travel for care, clinic type (i.e. primary care, women’s health, etc.) and visit type.  You can then conduct a search to see appointment wait times at facilities within your search radius. If you have an urgent need, you can use the Same Day Health Services map to explore options.

  1. How Satisfied Are Veterans with Their Care in My Facility?

This function allows you to search VA facilities within a certain radius to see what other veterans are saying about access to care.

  1. How Does Care in My VA Facility Compare to Other Hospital in the Area?

This section allows you to compare VA facilities with hospitals located within the same general geographical area.

  1. How is the VA System Doing with Access Nationally?

Review the latest statistics on how timely care is within the VA system and how quickly a patient can be seen by a specialist in the VA system.

Accessibility Services, Inc. is proud to work with the VA to provide qualifying veteran’s – both at home and in VA spinal cord injury units – with the autonoME environmental control unit/speech generating device. Robert Oxford is just one of the hundreds of veterans who have benefited from receiving the autonoME through the VA. Watch his story.

Grid 3 Updates

GRID 3Version 3.0.21 Now Available

Version 3.0.22 Available on Early Access

Ongoing updates, features and bug fixes all contribute to making Grid 3 software the industry gold standard.  Just like with a standard computer, tablet or smartphone, we encourage you to update your software on a regular basis to ensure you are able to take advantage of the latest and greatest feature.  It is also important to update for security purposes and bug fixes.

Version 3.0.21 is now available, while Version 3.0.22 is available on Early Access.  Here are some features of both:

New Features in Version 3.0.21 Include:

  • The “Speak While Typing” setting allows you to speak characters, words and sentences as you type them into other programs
  • Enjoy enhanced grammar capability – phrases will now auto-correct when asked as a question – for example, “do he” will become “does he”
  • Alea eye gaze calibrations support
  • Activation order commands support dimming after selection
  • Cursor thickness for use in Grid 3 can now be set in Windows
  • Pointer control visuals are much smoother and extend further

Bug Fixes in Version 3.0.21 Include:

  • Automatic font scaling has been adjusted to no longer affect how quickly cells appear
  • Tools in the word list window are no longer hidden behind the OK/Accept button when resizing the window
  • You can now access inaccessible word list cells imported from The Grid 2.
  • Netflix videos are now recognized as links
  • Speech highlighting problems have been corrected

New Features in Version 3.0.22 Include:

  • Create Smartbox accounts for all users (previously you could just do so for the primary user)
  • Improve calibration option for Alea cameras
  • When browsing for Sounds, m4a audio files are supported
  • Grid set file size is now displayed in the Grid set analysis and now displays the Grid set file size

Bug Fixes in Version 3.0.22 Include:

  • Battery cell now appears on Tobii I-Series devices
  • Alea eye gaze calibration with Intelligaze software (prior to version 4) has been resolved
  • A warning now appears and offers to cancel or delete the orphaned grid when pasting over and deleting the last jump to a grid
  • The cursor in the Document Editor cell no longer moves to the beginning of the first line after entering / exiting editing mode
  • When plugging in an audio device, available devices now refresh
  • The color picker no longer always chooses ‘black’

Whether you are using the autonoME (speech generating device/environmental control unit), Grid Pad Go, Grid Pad Eye, or Grid Pad Pro, updating to the new Grid 3 version will enhance your performance.  As always, ASI has technicians ready to assist if you need technical support. Enjoy!

Look to Learn – The Quickest, Easiest Way to Learn Eye Gaze

The autonoME is equipped with the ability to use various input methods for operation.  One very popular input method is eye gaze.  Since the autonoME is both an environmental control unit (ECU) and speech generating device (SGD), eye gaze can be used for communication and tasks such as turning on lights, controlling the bed, calling a nurse/caregiver, surfing the web, etc. The eye gaze does take some getting used to, and one of the best (and fun) ways to get proficient in using it is by installing Look to Learn.  This software – created specifically for eye gaze – features 40 activities to help you get started:

Sensory

Teaches cause and effect and includes the following activities: “Custard Pies”, “Magic Mouse”, “Egg”, “Cannon”, “Reveal Shapes”, “Reveal Blocks”, “Farmyard” and “Music Squares”.

Explore

Helps with learning how to engage the entire screen and includes the following activities: “Bottles”, “Magic Squares”, “Graffiti”, “Fart Clouds”, “Face Splat”, “Scratch Card”, “Park Life” and “Classroom, “Video wall x2, x4 and x6”, “Fruit Punch” and “Snowflake”.

Target

Improves the accuracy of eye gaze and includes the following activities: “Hose”, “Bubbles” and “Shoot”.

Choose

Helps develop and enhance choice making skills and includes the following activities: “Dinnertime”, “Javelin”, “Snowman”, “Tyres”, “Drummer”, “Opinions”, “Monster Factory” and “Paper, Scissors, Stone”.

Control

Helps fine tune eye gaze access and drag and drop skills and includes the following activities:

“Darts”, “Wizard’s Potion”, “Penalty”, “Jungle”, “Dinosaurs”, “Bugs”, “Underwater” and “Woodland”.

Contact us for more information, or, if you would like to get started right now with Look to Learn, download it from our website.

Employment Opportunities for Quadriplegics

Getting back into the job market after a debilitating injury or disease can be challenging, but it is certainly not impossible.  Accessibility Service, Inc. specializes in helping quadriplegics achieve independence in their everyday lives.  The autonoME is an environmental control unit (ECU) and speech generating device (SGD) all in one package.  Its accessibility options feature different inputs including sip and puff, eye gaze and the head tracker.  Virtually anyone with any type of disability can achieve a comfortable level of independence with the autonoME.  Let’s take a look at some career options a quadriplegic might consider:

Teacher/Instructor

The autonoME is an augmentative and assistive communications (AAC) device, allowing the user to effectively communicate.  Many quadriplegics who are teachers and/or instructors have learned how to adapt to their trade using assistive technology.

Greeter

Retail establishments, municipal office buildings and model home centers are just a few of the many establishments that hire friendly faces to greet their customers.

Professional Writer

Former Orlando, Florida action reporter Ellen MacFarlane was struck with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in the prime of her life.  Although she had a progressive form of the disease, she did not let it stop her from writing books about her life and illness.  In fact, MacFarlane, who lost all movement from the neck down, wrote the majority of her books with the help of an early assistive technology device.  Today, the autonoME offers writers the ability to compose books, blogs, short stories, scripts and anything else they choose to write.

Motivational Speaker

Actor Christopher Reeve is one of the most well-known quadriplegics who used his story to motivate others.  However, you don’t have to be as famous as Christopher Reeve to make an impact.  Companies, organizations, and associations are always looking for interesting and motivating stories.  These types of gigs allow you to travel, meet people and have fun…all while getting paid.

There is a whole world of exciting opportunities available for quadriplegics. You may remember Manny Galan, the young man who plans to use his autonoME to attend college and eventually become a nuclear engineer. He has a bright future ahead of him!

Contact us today to find out how we can customize the autonoME to help you meet your career goals and objectives.

Maintaining Your autonoME

It is highly recommended that you conduct regular maintenance on your autonoME and its accessories.  The beauty of your environmental control unit (ECU) / speech generating device (SGD) is that it is fairly simple to clean and maintain.  The microphone, microphone widescreen, sip and puff filter and straw should be cleaned and/or replaced as needed or at a minimum of every three months:

  1. Remove the microphone sponge windscreen and clean the microphone tip with alcohol.
    Note: When used in a hospital or long term care setting, a new windscreen should be attached each time a new person uses the microphone.
  1. Replace the sip and puff filter and straw.
    Note: When used in a hospital or long term care setting, the sip and puff filter and straw must be replaced with each new patient or per hospital infection control policy.

Note: When used in a hospital or long term care setting, the sip and puff filter and straw must be replaced with each new patient or per hospital infection control policy.

Maintaining Your autonoMEWhile you may wipe down your autonoME and accessories with a cloth moistened with any hospital grade disinfectant, please be sure to not submerge or spray the tablet computer, wall mounted box, PDI articulating arm and flexible bed mounted microphone or sip and puff arm with any liquid. The autonoME tablet comes equipped with a protective screen cover to shield the unit from harsh chemicals and scratches. If the protective screen cover is removed, only isopropyl alcohol should be used to clean the screen.

If you have any questions on how to maintain your autonoME, please do not hesitate to contact us.  Your safety and health is one of our top priorities!

New Breakthrough Offers Hope to Those with Autoimmune Diseases

New Breakthrough Offers Hope to Those with Autoimmune DiseasesAutoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) can cause paralysis in its most progressive form.  We understand the devastating effects of MS all too well.  We have several clients who have MS and use the autonoME environmental control unit/speech generating device to help them achieve independence.

Earlier this month, some promising research was released.  The research involves a more targeted and specific immunotherapy approach. A research team at the University of Maryland is targeting lymph nodes to create specific immune responses.  People with MS have T cells which attack the myelin sheath. This causes damage, which can ultimately lead to paralysis. The new study involves reprogramming the tissues of the lymph nodes to generate immune cells.  These cells then make their way to the brain to stop the attack on the myelin sheath. Early lab testing indicates that this has the potential to reverse paralysis. If this research proves successful, it could benefit individuals with other autoimmune diseases as well, including Type 1 diabetes.

We would like nothing more than for a cure to be discovered for diseases like MS! Learn more about this groundbreaking research.

Have You Updated Your Grid 3 Software?

Grid 3

Grid 3 version 3.0.20 was released earlier this month.  If you have not yet updated your software, here are some features you can look forward to in the latest version:

Updated Web Browser

The updated browser is more compatible with sites such as Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp.

Creating Activities

The latest Grid 3 version features updated Activation order and Single activation commands for creating activities.

Enhanced e-Mail Commands

The e-mail grids feature new commands, including “Forward”, “Reply to Sender” and “Reply to All”.

Battery Meter

Monitor your batteries with the new live cell, which supports multiple batteries and displays your battery percentage in real time.

New Z-Wave Option

You can now use Z-wave with a family hub thanks to the Receive configuration option.

Sleep Screen

The enhanced sleep setting allows you to turn the screen off manually, dim the screen, and turn it off when not being used.

The latest Grid 3 version also addresses a few bug fixes.  Have you downloaded it, yet?  If so, let us know. We would love to hear your feedback!

Amazon Echo Grid Set Now Available

Amazon Echo Grid Set Now Available

Photo credit: Courtesy of Amazon

The Amazon Echo now has its own grid set! The Amazon Echo took the world by storm back in December, making it one of the hottest holiday gifts. Now, users can operate the echo using their Grid Pad. You need to make sure you are using the latest Grid 3 software. Once the grid set is enabled, you can communicate with Alexa using word lists, which you can edit to suit your preferences.

The grid set makes it easy to access popular Amazon Echo functions, including music and radio, entertainment, smart home devices, alarms, timers and more. You will need to complete the initial set-up of your Amazon Echo first, which includes connecting it to your Wi-Fi and setting your defaults. You can enable skills on the Echo using your grid set. You can even create custom commands for each skill. Amazon Echo skills include games, jokes, news feeds, education and reference and more. It even has a March Madness skill!

If you have used or plan to use the Amazon Echo grid set, let us know how you like it. We would love to hear your feedback.

Download the Amazon Echo grid set here:

Grid Pad Go – Now in Two Sizes!

New in 2017, the Grid Pad Go now comes in your choice of two sizes.  The Grid Pad Go 8 still has an 8” capacitive touch screen.  The latest addition – the Grid Pad Go 10 – features a 10” capacitive touch screen.  Both models boast the powerful Grid 3 software, complemented by the Windows 10 operating system.  And, with 4GB of memory, a 54 GB hard drive, and an Intel® HD Graphics Intel video card, either system can perform even the most advanced tasks. An integrated ruggedized casing, short hand strap and longer body strap makes this lightweight device perfect to take on the “go”.

Assistive technology becoming more and more important to individuals with spinal cord injuries and debilitating diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  We are living in a society driven by electronics, which means environmental control units (ECU) and speech generating devices (SGD) give quadriplegics more access to the world than ever before. Assistive technology such as the Grid Pad Go can be used to check e-mail, chat with other on the Internet, make purchases online, connect through Social Media, stream movies and television shows, and much, much more.

Check out our new online store where you can easily compare different products and explore software options. Complete the Request Quote form and one of ASI’s representatives will contact you.  It is important to make sure you are purchasing the best unit/package for your needs.  We spend the time it takes to help you understand the different options and customize each product specifically for you.