Spring is finally here, and it’s time to start fresh and ditch that paper and create a better Universally Designed (new window) learning or working environment! These 5 mainstream assistive technology solutions are easily available, environmentally friendly, and will save you paper AND minimize clutter in no time!
1. Make friends with your Virtual Assistant
There are many virtual assistants available right on your cell phone, tablet or computer that you use everyday. Whether you use SIRI, Cortana (new window), Google Now (new window) or S Voice (new window), or one of the many others available on the market right now, these assistants will give your fingers a break and let you use your voice to add a reminder task to your to do list, add an appointment to your calendar, become a substitute for your hard copy dictionary, and even replace your calculator.
2. Digify your notes
Accessing information digitally allows everybody a great deal of freedom in how they are able manipulate information. Consider an app such as OneNote (new window) or notability (new window). These apps let you write your notes however you want, whether they are typed, handwritten, or dictated. You can even take pictures, videos or record audio to be able to review later. This is a great strategy for memory, allowing the note taker to participate fully in their environment instead of simply focusing on capturing what is being said. This also means no more lost notes.
3. Get organized
Now that you are now taking electronic notes, find the platform that works best for you depending on your devices. If you use many different types of devices and need help with your organization skills, try OneNote. Available cross platform, OneNote is a great place to take notes anywhere, have them saved by notebook, and even colour coded by tab and further organized by page. If you have an Android device, take advantage of OneNote Badge that that allows you easily take notes or pictures and save to OneNote even when using a different app. With these organizational features, you should always be able to capture all the information you need and find it again easily.
4. Take pictures
These days most people carry cameras with them in their cell phones, tablets or computers. Whether it’s a notice on the wall, a memo or a diagram on a white board, taking a picture is a great way to capture this information. Converting printed documents into electronic versions is a simple task with apps such as Prizmo (new window) for iOS or Office lens on your cell phone. Apps like these turns your device’s camera into a scanner, allowing you to easily save and store documents on the fly, so instead of asking for another copy, you can simply take a photo of a document, business card, poster, diagram, etc. and it will be instantly converted into text. Once it’s been converted, you can share, store, and even have documents read out loud, which is key to maintaining an accessible work or school environment.
5. Correspond electronically
Electronic correspondence is the most accessible and environmentally-friendly means of communication available. It allows users to manipulate the written information however they see fit, whether it is magnifying the text, having it read aloud or changing the font, size or colour. In many cases, devices already include built in accessibility features for magnification, text and speech, dictation as well as colour contrast and font manipulation in order to make text and therefore email more universally accessible regardless of disability.