April 2011 archive

Switch accessible music

Last week we had the opportunity to participate in the Special Effects Roadshow event organised by staff at the William Merritt Centre, Leeds.

We took lots of equipment with us including a switch accessible music set-up based on the iPod, a Bose SoundDock II and a switch adapted Domino infra-red controller that I’d programmed with the main iPod commands.

IMHO the iPod / Bose SoundDock combination works extremely well together (check the reviews on Amazon etc.) and when paired with a Domino infra-red controller, it opens up the possibility for assistive technology users to access music on and iPod or iPhone.

Although, lots of people still like the simple CD Boombox systems it is becoming more difficult to find them with IR remotes. These days more people access their music through their phones, or iPads. What’s needed is a system that gives switch access to a music library loaded to an iOS device. The iSwitch and APPlicator do that and much more. Get in touch to discuss how these could help you solve your music access issues.

Switch accessible sailing – Project Natasha

Switch accessible sailing seemed like a big challenge when we first got involved in helping Natasha learn to sail a model yacht. But, it all worked out well. So well that we received an invitation from Sailability, the group at the Royal Yachting Association who focus on sailing for the disabled, to present the work we did to enable Natasha to sail a radio controlled Micro Magic model yacht.

Keith Coxon from the Model Yachting Association presented ‘Switch accessible sailing – Project Natasha’ at the RYA Sailability annual conference in February.

This is what the project was about:

Natasha is a 13 year old young lady with a cerebral palsy condition. Her dad, Gary, wanted to introduce her to sailing and thought a radio controlled yacht would be a good starting point. But, Natasha needed an adapted transmitter she could control with two Sipp/Puff switches. Unfortunately nothing like this exists as a commercial product.

So, Gary contacted Mike Weston at RC Yachts, he contacted Charles Fox at Traxsys Ltd to ask about their assistive technology joysticks. Charles directed them to me at Excitim Ltd and I agreed we would figure something out.

We needed to devise a system which allowed Natasha to control the rudder and sail using her two Sipp/Puff switches. A month or so later we had a “black box” and we send it off for trials. It worked very well and now she’s thinking about sailing a full size yacht. Why not indeed!

If you would like to know more about this switch accessible sailing project I’ve posted a short presentation on Slideshare showing what we did to make it possible.