The News Chair
  1. Making an Impact with Assistive Technology

    September 4, 2014 by Tiffany Whisner
    Tiffany Whisner

    Tiffany Whisner

    One of the clients I have the privilege of working with is the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads, a program that provides information and access to assistive technology for Hoosiers with disabilities–at no charge.

    Not only have I learned about what amazing services INDATA offers those people in need throughout Indiana, but I have also been able to highlight some wonderfully talented individuals who are truly making an impact in the world, particularly the world of assistive technology.

    Assistive technology is equipment to improve or maintain a person’s independence; provide a better quality of life; and assist a person in becoming more productive in his or her community.

    Laura Medcalf with her dog, WinnieIn July, I talked with Laura Medcalf, the social media content specialist for the INDATA Project. Diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy when she was four and then in a wheelchair, Laura continued to put herself out there to new opportunities and experiences. From camp to college, Laura learned to express herself in a way only she knows how. And now she gets the unique opportunity to combine her love of helping people with her love of writing at INDATA.

    “Assistive technology helps people with disabilities live a more independent life,” she said. “INDATA has so many resources and specialists to guide people throughout the state of Indiana with all different kinds of technology, no matter the disability.” Read more of Laura’s story here. Find out why her favorite quote is: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

    Dr. Therese Willkomm with AT toolsThen, in August, I talked with Dr. Therese Willkomm, Ph.D., ATP. She is called “The MacGyver of Assistive Technology,” and has provided and managed assistive technology services for more than 25 years. Inspired by her dad, Dr. Willkomm is the inventor of more than 1,000 different assistive technology solutions for people with disabilities.

    She was recently at INDATA for a special training where she introduced her latest book, “Assistive Technology Solutions in Minutes II: Ordinary Items, Extraordinary Solutions.” It is filled with hundreds of color photographs of innovative fabrication techniques and step-by-step instructions for fabricating AT solutions for home, school, work and play.

    “Assistive technology helps people with disabilities maintain their health, safety and independence at home and in the community,” she said. “It helps students get their education, go on to higher learning and be successful. It helps create employment opportunities and makes it possible to have a fruitful career. It levels the playing field and helps empower people with disabilities to do and achieve more than they ever thought possible.” Read more of Dr. Willkomm’s story here.

    Would you like to learn more about assistive technology and all the INDATA Project has to offer people with disabilities and their families? Check out the INDATA Project website!

    Their next full-day, FREE training session is next week on Sept. 11 … and it will give attendees the opportunity to learn how to make play accessible for children with special needs. You can register here. For those who’d like to learn more about adaptive toys that help children with disabilities learn and develop, you won’t want to miss this free training!



  2. Useful, Free Apps? No way!

    August 27, 2014 by ttanner

    Teresa Tanner

    Way! I know, you haven’t noticed any new apps since you got hooked on Candy Crush. Personally, I ignore all the Candy Crush invites because I can’t seem to quit Words With Friends. I have five games going with just one person!

    My latest must-read is the daily email from Buzzfeed. Sure, a fair amount of information they compile is silly (fun!) time wasters, but often there will be some useful info or “life hacks.”

    I came across their list of the 25 Free Apps That Are Making The World A Better Place, and thought I would share. I have already downloaded the Paper Karma app, number #22 on the list, and I can’t wait to get home to start scanning all the junk mail I get!

    Check it out, and see if you can find at least one useful app. As the article says, you can “change the world with just one click.”

  3. The Price Paid for the Perfect Photo

    August 18, 2014 by Tiffany Whisner

    Tiffany Whisner

    Tiffany Whisner

    An image can grab your reader’s attention or bring about emotion. It can encourage your customer to make a purchase.

    Check out some statistics from Hubspot’s Amanda Sibley:

    • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. (Sources: 3M and Zabisco)
    • 40% of people respond better to visual information than plain text. (Source: Zabisco)

    The power of visual content

    Kevin Moore

    Kevin Moore

    “Seeing an image gives the user experience of being able to relate that image to a personal memory or emotion, tying you to it,” said Coles Multimedia Designer Kevin Moore.

    With the growth of content marketing and social media, we continue to look for images to get our messages across. It seems easier than ever with countless images available online at the click of a button.

    But it’s essential to take precautions when choosing images to make sure you do it legally.

    Know the rules before you use

    Noelle Federico, the CFO of stock photo site, offers these tips:

    • Get familiar with fair use laws. These laws operate on a case-by-case basis, but there are general guidelines.
    • Investigate the source of an image before you copy it from the Web. Just because you “can” copy an image does NOT mean you have the right to use it.
    • Get permission. It’s best to get images you have authorization to use. You can purchase stock photos or use a free stock image website, such as Stock Free Images.
    • Search smarter. You can search images under the “Creative Commons license,” which allows for images the photographers have released for common use.
    • Cite appropriately. It’s safe to use an image for educational purposes. But when you use a photo this way, cite your source, giving credit to where you copied the picture.

    Do your research or create your own!

    How can you find the photos you want without getting a cease and desist order you don’t want?

    Tim Coulon

    Tim Coulon

    Plus, here are more sources to discover cost-free content!

    And if you can’t find the right photo, you can always create your own! Did you see the article “Six Simple Steps to Better Photos” from Coles VP Creative Tim Coulon? You should!

    A picture may be worth a thousand … dollars

    “Because images are so readily available and people are so used to sharing them through social sites, I think some may not understand the consequences of grabbing an image off the Web and posting it in a blog or e-blast,” Moore said.

    He suggested using TinEye, a reverse image search website. You can find out where an image came from and how it’s being used.

    “An image that may cost just a dollar to purchase can cost you thousands of dollars in a lawsuit if it’s used without permission and the proper citation,” Moore said. “Plus, there’s the embarrassment of being found out. It’s just not worth it.”


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