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More on computer accessibility: let your uvula do the browsing

The notice of the Vocal Joystick for accessibility comes from

Opera browser uses voice commands. Now I’ll have to actually test it to see how well it works. The Vocal Joystick would work on all software that uses a mouse device. I thought something like Dragon Naturally Speaking can command more than the voice recognition software? Somewhere in the back of my mind is a little piece of software I’ve seen that also does voice commands ➡ not a mouse substitute but nevertheless slick and free (for Firefox) (originally noted at Paul Hamilton’s FREE online resources and downloadable programs for learners and their teachers.

University of Washington researchers are developing a new “Vocal Joystick” interface to make software more accessible for people who don’t have use of their hands or arms. The software converts simple vowel sounds and other intonations into cursor movement. The louder the sound, the faster the cursor moves. Saying “K-Ch” represents a mouse click and release….

“A lot of people ask: ‘Why don’t you just use speech recognition?'” (electrical engineering professor Jeffrey) Bilmes said. “It would be very slow to move a cursor using discrete commands like ‘move right’ or ‘go faster.’ The voice, however, is able to do continuous commands quickly and easily.” Early tests suggest that an experienced user of Vocal Joystick would have as much control as someone using a handheld device…

“The tool’s latest developments will be presented this month in Tempe, Ariz. at the Assets Conference on Computers and Accessibility.

Vocal Joystick detects sounds 100 times a second and instantaneously turns that sound into movement on the screen….

Versions of Vocal Joystick exist for browsing the Web, drawing on a screen, controlling a cursor and playing a video game. A version also exists for operating a robotic arm, and Bilmes believes the technology could be used to control an electronic wheelchair.” […] http://uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=37134

Video demonstrations and publications are available on the group’s Web site,


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Senior Center Self-Assessment

The Joint Committee on Senior Centers is comprised of members of the Pennsylvania Association of Senior Centers, the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. They have a number of other resources, Learn about items of Special Interest

The following checklist has been designed to help you think about your Center from the “first impression” perspective. These are some of the things you could be looking at in your Center to prepare to make a positive, lasting impression on those who come to your Center.

If you are answering “no” to questions, you may want to look at modifying or improving that item. For best results, have a person who is unfamiliar with the Center complete the survey. Problems that we see on a daily basis can sometimes become “invisible” to our eyes.

This checklist can help prepare your Center to be in the best position possible for welcoming the new seniors who respond to the Senior Center Marketing Initiative of June 2002. Prepared by the Joint Committee on Senior Centers, February 2002.

The checklist is available as a pdf file here,

Compare this checklist with the one for the Bethel senior center, When you visit the senior center https://theelderlies.wordpress.com/2005/08/06/when-you-visit-the-senior-center/ and try it out, Grabbing public toilets https://theelderlies.wordpress.com/2006/10/24/grabbing-public-toilets/ or Visit Bethel Alaska’s Eddie Hoffman Senior Center

1 OUTSIDE AREAS

1. Is there clear signage identifying the location of the Center from the road?
2. Is a sign posted next to or above the entrance door to the Center so participants can easily find it upon approach to the Center?
3. Is the building exterior free from peeling paint or other repairs?
4. Is the parking lot free from debris and weeds?
5. Is the walkway and parking lot adequately lighted?
6. Are the shrubs, outside plants and lawn well maintained?
7. Are outside walkways free of hazardous objects, including debris, weeds and uneven or broken steps?
8. Is outdoor furniture clean and in good shape?
9. Is there easy access for individuals with disabilities?
10. Are rails leading to the doors secure and well maintained?
11. Are curbs painted to signify distinction of levels?
12. Is the outside of the Center attractive and inviting?

2 INSIDE AREAS

1. Is there adequate lighting in rooms, corridors, elevators and stairways?
2. Are guests acknowledged promptly when they enter your Center?
3. Would the atmosphere be characterized as pleasant?
4. Is there a pleasant smell when entering the Center?
5. Is the Center clean enough to meet your personal standards?
6. Is the area inside clutter free, not only on the floor, but also in the space surrounding it?
7. Is the furniture attractive and easy to get in and out of?
8. Is the furniture arranged to promote interaction and conversation?
9. Are magazines, books or other materials for activities neatly stacked and out of the path of travel?
10. Are curtains and window treatments clean and in good condition?
11. Is there an easy to find and easy to read bulletin board with activities, meal schedules and other current information?
12. Is the activity board or other written materials hanging at a readable level for elderly persons of different heights?
13. Are certificates and licenses posted, if required?
14. Is the lighting adequate for older persons?
15. Is the dining area attractive and inviting?
16. Are participants able to sit where they want during meal times without being assigned?
17. Is the kitchen clean and inviting?
18. Is the meal contribution policy, sign-in sheet, and contribution box easy to locate?
19. Does the noise level allow for conversations and quiet activities?

3 SAFETY

1. Are changes in floor levels or coverings distinct enough to prevent tripping?
2. Are carpets free from wear and frayed ends?
3. Are small rugs and runners slip-resistant and non-moving?
4. Are lamp, extension and telephone cords placed out of the flow of traffic?
5. Are chairs sturdy and not easily tipped?
6. Are there handrails in hallways and grab bars in bathrooms?
7. Are written emergency evacuation plans with center floor plans posted throughout the Center?
8. Is a fire extinguisher easy to find and do participants know how to use one?
9. Are emergency numbers posted near the phone?
10. Are smoke detectors properly located and in working condition?
11. Are hallways, passageways between rooms, and other heavy traffic areas equally well lit?
12. Are exits and passageways free from clutter?
13. In the kitchen area, are towels, curtains, and other things that might catch fire located away from the range?
14. Are all extension cords and appliance cords located away from the sink or range areas?
15. Are emergency exits clearly marked?
16. Is emergency lighting functional and adequate?

4 PROGRAM AND SERVICES

1. Are the Center hours and days of operation posted for participants?
2. Can Center hours be changed or altered if requested?
3. Is access to computers and the internet available?
4. Does the Center offer a wide variety of activities for different interests?
5. Are fitness activities offered regularly?
6. Are participants involved with planning activities?
7. Are costs for activities known to individuals?
8. Are other community groups or non-profits involved with Center activities?
9. Are you conducting marketing/advertising activities in your local area?
10. Are you making use of internet technology for advertising?
11. Are newsletters listing activities and menus given or sent to participants on a regular basis?
12. Is there a posted calendar of activities or a newsletter available for people who enter the Center?
13. Are new participants given an orientation to the Center?
14. Is there a welcoming committee made up of current participants to help make newcomers feel comfortable?


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On-line history making

How to organize photos and text across time and space (collaboration amongst multiple people, known and unknown, the quick, the will be, and those who came before)?

The Al-Can and Aleutians WWII special project has been interesting for finding the limitations of the the existing “cyberspace” and “virtual communities” of “Web 2.0” that are all the buzz. [Running into the barriers came from day one; inadvertent trouble-shooting is a specialty skill of mine.]

While Flickr and blogs (MySpace, LiveJournal, and the new one for the middle-ageing, eons.com), are by definition solipsist and therefore especially useful for exhibitionism and voyeurism; they aren’t yet easy for creating and retrieving information.

from an E_lder-mailer, RE: On 8/15/06, A social networking Web site for Americans aged 50-plus went live on Monday — complete with an online obituary database that sends out alerts when someone you may know dies and that plans to set up a do-it-yourself funeral service.

http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/08/15/ new-social-networking-site-for-age-50-plus-americans/


Indeed precisely what I was looking for. The automatic obituary and the self funeral! All these while the new definition of planet assigns 53 to our solar system. School books re-writers will be in demand [i.e., hire the over-50].

There are speciality websites for recording genealogy and family history. The more extensive ones require an annual fee. Many of the data sites are free, such as the Latter Day Saints archive. The web log might be an ideal venue for people to record anecdotes– one can record brief remembrances or notes as they occur; each post is dated; the text can be archived (a little more difficult, currently); and the postings can be collected into a more polished history or biography later. WordPress.com now allows for private posts. However, as I hope becomes clear, the interaction with others is needed.

Family histories can be done without the Internet, of course— The archival quality rag bond notepaper and Noodler’s permanent ink with “copperplate” script writing, recorded in great detail everyday by great great so-and-so, a nosy Parker with nothing better to do and who didn’t mind answering even the “cheeky” hygiene questions of the great great grandrelations to be — is exciting to look at (unless the fourth cousin thrice removed that one has never heard of lost it in a move or for gambling debts).

Life is interactive (see Erving Goffman’s work on social interaction). It is difficult for most people to conceive of what may be interesting of their lives to others. Strangers tell me they want to read about my “interesting life” but from this side it’s just ordinary and gets overlooked (fish in water, etc. I wouldn’t wish to undo an interesting life, but I’m too thoughtful to wish one on anyone else).

    What’s needed is a personal ethnographer or oral historian. Someone to ask questions.

Charlie King’s son points this out very well in a recent E-mail.

Spent virtually the whole morning reading some of the interviews from 341st ? guys. I copied out a bit that described the difficulty of creating the corduroy roads.

Too bad I never recorded any of Dad’s memories of the experience. He wasn’t one to elaborate greatly but could if he was pressed and I’d bet his would have been as detailed and well spoken as this guy who advanced from private to Master Sargent while up there indicating him to have been a uniquely talented guy:

http://www.livinglandscapes.bc.ca/prnr/alaska/wallace.htm

In this one example, you can see some of the strengths of using the Internet, especially the world-wide web and E-mail. But also look at the Dawson project description,

http://www.livinglandscapes.bc.ca/prnr/alaska/history.htm

The project was done with face-to-face (F2F) collaboration and tangible artifacts (photos) and only then assembled for later on-line use. Other projects come in “jukebox” format, CD-ROM or DVD and/or on-line.

Project Jukebox is the digital branch of the Oral History Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Project Jukebox was originally developed using hypercard in 1988, with initial support from Apple Computer’s Apple Library of Tomorrow program, and is a way to integrate oral history recordings with associated photographs, maps, and text.

http://uaf-db.uaf.edu/Jukebox/PJWeb/pjhome.htm

None of this has solved the problem of linking pictures at Flickr or elsewhere with comments and annotations from others (moderated) and downloadable with metadata intact (unless one has money for a personal website and server). The work-around here doesn’t work — photo index CKing — even if one had highest speed internet, multiple monitors, touch-toe typing, Dragon Naturally Speaking transciption, multi-feed document scanner/fax, a cat that won’t walk the keyboard, ….

Oh, and even with the bestest of tech help 😉


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Elder Wisdom Circle

http://elderwisdomcircle.org/

The orginal news story comes from “Have a problem? These seniors are online to help
Thursday, March 9, 2006, By LESLIE BRODY

The Circle of Elders is a Nationwide Network comprised of volunteer Seniors aged 60-97. Elders participate individually from their home computers or collectively at a senior community. Our Elders represent a richly diverse patchwork of life experience and wisdom.

ABOUT US: A FREE service providing practical advice and guidance from empathetic volunteer seniors. Please think of us as grandparents to the cyber-world….

Need personalized advice on most any topic? You may request personal advice on any issue, however the circle is unable to offer medical, tax, investment or legal advice….

Elder Wisdom Circle is organized as a IRS 501(c)3 non-profit association comprised of the Elders (volunteer seniors) who offer advice and our support staff. We are based in the San Francisco Bay Area with Elders all over North America. We are one of the largest providers of personal advice anywhere. The mission of our association is to promote and share elder know-how and accumulated wisdom. We also have a goal of elevating the perceived value and worth of our senior community.
FREE Advice: Our Elders can help with most any problem providing a personalized reply to each request. Our service is totally confidential and easy to use. …

To become an Elder one must be at least 60 years of age, complete an application and screening process. Elders participate individually from their home computers or as part of a collective group at locations such as an assisted living community….

http://elderwisdomcircle.org/


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