Saturday, December 7, 2013

CDesk by Adaptive Voice

Last week I had a great opportunity to learn more about the CDesksoftware, developed by Adaptive Voice.  Luke Scrivens, Assistive Technology Specialist at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, spent some time, remotely, with me and facilitated an interactive tutorial on the technological capabilities of  CDesk Software for adults and senior citizens with visual impairments. 

Below is the interface for the CDesk Software:

AdaptiveVoice markets CDesk as being an easier software choice for users with low vision and additional intellectual and cognitive impairments.  It was also created for individuals with little to no computer  knowledge.  The interface is organized into 8 subsections: Word, Contact, Phone, Office, Email, Internet, Read/Scan and Media/Book.  The high contrast coloring and the simple text made navigating through the 8 menu items easy to access for a first time user with no physical or cognitive impairments.  One of the best features of this app is the speech recognition feature which is accessible in every application within CDesk.  Within the software, the speech recognition feature is referred to as"Peggy" and can be turned on and off as the user sees fit.  This is a great accessibility option for people with limited mobility who cannot easily access a typical QWERTY keyboard.  The user can easily access their e-mail, browse the internet and write a word document under the appropriately titled applications within the main menu.  The screen reader can also be accessed within these three applications of the software.  The most interactive and innovative highlights to CDesk is within the Media/Book application, which allows a user to search the Library of Congress  for Blind and Physically Handicapped's database of books in braille and audio recordings also  download the book directly from the Library of Congress database to their computer via CDesk.  The user can access their MP3 music files with in this application of the software as well.  Another key interactive feature is the user's ability to access SKYPE voice call and video conferencing simply through the CDesk interface  and CCTV/Camera.

Other features within the software:
Document Scanning
Internet Radio
Voice Recorder
MP3 Player
Book Scanning

My two cents:
Upon first hearing about CDesk, I wanted to know what made it different from JAWS, ZoomText, Dragon and all the other products similar.  After reviewing its features with Luke and using the trial version, I can honestly say that what sets this piece of software apart from its predecessors is its intuitiveness and interactivity.  CDesk makes it easier for a person with low vision to access their favorite activities from a single interface, thus increasing the user's ability to read e-mails from friends, read best selling novels, surf the internet, chat with friends through social media, listen to music, balance their checkbook etc. CDesk is a piece of software that has the potential to greatly increase the quality of a user's life (e.g., the who purpose of assistive technology).  My only accessibility concern is wondering if a person who relies on switch access could use this piece of software.

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