AXSChat Podcast

#AXSChat Podcast with Gregg Vanderheiden, Professor and Director of Trace R&D Center at the University of Maryland

August 30, 2021 Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh, Neil Milliken talk with Gregg Vanderheiden
AXSChat Podcast
#AXSChat Podcast with Gregg Vanderheiden, Professor and Director of Trace R&D Center at the University of Maryland
Show Notes Transcript

Gregg Vanderheiden is Professor and Director of Trace R&D Center at the University of Maryland. He has been in the field of technology and disability for 50 years, authored the first computer and the first web accessibility guidelines, was an author and chair of the WCAG guidelines working group, and his accessibility techniques and technologies are built into every copy of Windows, macOS, and iOS. His accessibility work is also found in kiosks, voting machines, airline terminals, ticket machines, and automated postal machines across the country.

 

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Debra Ruh: Hello.

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Debra Ruh: Hello everyone, welcome to axschat today I am the only host, which is good, and I have one of my favorite people Dr Greg Vanderheiden, Neil is on holiday and so is Antonio, so I hope they're having a wonderful holiday i've heard legends of holidays Greg I've heard it but.

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Debra Ruh: I haven't done one of those myself lately but um so welcome to the program can we start, I know that we want to talk about morphic and I'm very excited about morphic, and so I really appreciate you coming on the program but.

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Debra Ruh: tell us more about who you are because you have an amazing career I've been a fan of yours for so long, I remember meeting you and just being a little bit of an all of you, I I just have been following your career long time so tell the audience a little bit more about who you are.

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well.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: This is my 50th year in technology and disability it began in October of 1971 when I was tricked into going out to local school to see a young boy who.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Had cerebral palsy severe cerebral palsy and he could not speak or write and he had just been brought to the school he'd been homeschooled up to then he was 11 years old and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: But he had no way of participating because the only thing he had his he had a piece of wood, on which they had would burn the letters of the alphabet and then he would point at about one letter every 123 seconds, so you can figure that out that's like a.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: b.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So, and you can see how that is the other part, is that, even at that speed, if you looked up from the board, it was like putting your hand over his mouse because he.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: You shut him up because he couldn't talk if you weren't staring at the board well this isn't going to work in a classroom nobody had anything so this other student tricked me into going out there and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: I went out there just because I was Problem Solving off the top my head when the problem was described to me, and this other student I was an undergraduate student at the time in electrical engineering.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: and

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: spouting off well, I wanted to try this why don't you try that and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: He kept saying he didn't understand, which is crazy, since he was a senior in biomedical engineering he probably understood anything I was saying, but he.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: But he faked it enough that I fell for it and I went out to the school to show him what I meant, and he knew that when I met the little boy I doubt.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: That i'd fall in love with amy's talked it was forever to get anything out of it in for him to talk, but he was a spunky who had a dry sense of humor, and so I quit my job joined a day or then we started working on a solution for this boy.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And so we created something that could actually watch his very erratic sort of pointing motions.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And we went on a Telethon and then everybody started calling in from from around the state and the neighboring states and wanting to do they had a child, like this to could we do something for them.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And so we just formed a student group, and it was all student volunteers, is not a class or anything like that.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And we started working on solutions for these, and then we ended up getting a grant from the National Science Foundation special permission from the university to to be a principal investigator, while we were still students.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And the trace Center and sort of grew out of that it so it's actually the tray Center is just an undergraduate student volunteer project run a muck.

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haha.

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Debra Ruh: Well, in May and changing people's lives, so what university, are we talking about.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Well, I was at the University of Wisconsin for 48 years and then I have recently moved to the University of Maryland right here in Washington DC.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And where we joined up with a really fantastic group of young researchers and are continuing on.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So the it's really been amazing the first just putting somebody asked me to put together a box, we just bring the other a write up about all the last 50 years but.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The interview it's time for another talk, but the.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: working inside apple in the 80s, I was actually able to invited by apple to come in and help them make their products, accessible and the head of product development Randy but that gave me permission to go anywhere and talk to anybody about anything now.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Think about in today's apple you know.

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Debra Ruh: apple wow.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Well, nobody could do that today.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The, but it was it was, but this is before there were any rules, so this is before there was.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Any laws or anything or regulations or anything about buying things making things accessible right, and so this was really apple stepping out and but, as I went around the only thing I had was just.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The ability to talk to them.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: You know and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And let them know that people with disabilities used it and and point out things that they could do, and we were successful in it was it was great that it's a fantastic group of people, and we were able to get accessibility features built into the shipping versions of.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: All of the operating systems.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Like almost seven eight years before that happened anywhere else, so this was really, really an amazing time and lots and lots of.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Interesting stories that go through all the work, so the first nine of the first act 10 access features that were built into windows also are licensed from the tray Center.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And access DAS was all those access features were licensed by IBM to put into.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: wow version of the dos etc so and then the weekend one and two came out of the Trade Center and stuff so it's been a long.

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Debra Ruh: not know all that I did not realize that history that's amazing.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Oh yeah no first.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: yeah the first web accessibility guidelines were from the tray Center in 1995 after www worldwide web conference to, and then we created the unified right after that it blossom to likes.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: 36 have to go back and look the exact number different guidelines, and so, then we work to create a unified set of guidelines, bringing them all together.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And version eight of that was the first working document for Wick egg when the w three C got involved, we transferred all of our work over there and then just supported the efforts.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: There for working on and work day to.

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Debra Ruh: Oh that's amazing I know I heard you speak at I triple E years ago and I just I was just amazed at the work you were doing, and you know the impact, you were having you know, on on individuals and humans, it was and you started raising the floor.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: is so raising the floor is a nonprofit group that.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: We started and its.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: First headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and then we have a second one in.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: In Washington DC and then there's one now in Brussels.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: It is.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: A group that's looking at trying to create what we call a global global public inclusive infrastructure, and that is.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: That can we put together the pieces globally, that we need, so that we can actually create so a way for people anywhere in the world to find a device, if it exists anywhere in the world around information communication back a way to make it a lot easier.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: For people who want to develop new tools is there one place, you could go, like you, created the developer space that you can go to to find all of the Open Source components and we actually have there something called the.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: copy comprehensive.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: listing of all of the different accessibility strategies it's called the master list of accessibility strategies.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And we constantly give this to different people in the field and say, can you find any strategy for accessibility that's not on here.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: We actually give you anybody who can find one, we have a $50 reward for anybody who can find one that's not on there to make sure that we get them all.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And even if you just find a paper that talks about one of them, so for each one of them, we actually have.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: A whole page that talks about the strategy, the different disability groups.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: All of the different pieces of software that are free, that use that strategy, and then the research papers and we give a $5 reward for anybody who finds the research paper about any one of the techniques that we don't have listed.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So that we encourage people to say look, if you do research about one of these techniques and you get a bibliography of 100 diet send it to us, you get 500 bucks you know.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The war, make sure that we have a place where people can find all this information because it's really hard and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: All of the of the next generation is based upon how much they know about everything that either worked or the stuff that didn't work before we learned as much from our mistakes, as we do for our successes.

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Debra Ruh: Next to learn more from our mistakes, to tell you the truth, I think I think you're right, so how can do you know.

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Debra Ruh: Did Is this something that raising the floor just offers for free, is there a fee only because, at the same time, you know, this is a nonprofit that has to stay in business, so you also accept donations and things like that to support the work.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: yeah so so the the unified listing is free brings together 12 databases from around the world, you can see them all edge gpi.net.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: GP I I n et.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And you can find the unified listing there you can find the developer space there and the master list and stuff also morphic which we will be talking about a little bit later is also three.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: There are some advanced features that we are going to be.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: doing a subscription to help pay for it, but actually what we've been doing is we've been getting donations and contributions and, as we have we've been lowering and lowering and so now not only all of the individual, but all the institutional.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Basic versions are free and then we'll see a little bit later also we're developing ways of doing at and and things like that, as well, and of course the assistive technology.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: has to be charged for because the money has to go back to the at companies so that they can create new and better at, but we also support, for example, free.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Open Source at and we try to make sure that we try and get some funds back to the Open Source people who do that, so that they can keep those software up as well because it's.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: You know, like nba for examples that is a very powerful.

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Debra Ruh: Also, your screen reader that.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: We need to make sure it stays up and flying so.

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Debra Ruh: I agree, I agree, and that's one thing we want to do with billion strong is make sure that we're showing who's out there, making a difference, which is why.

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Debra Ruh: i've loved what you're doing morphic for a long time, and we really want to make sure the world knows about it, we talked about.

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Debra Ruh: You know who could benefit from it and, of course, I have a special love for refugees with disability so i'd like to see the UN get more engaged to help get it out to the people that need it, but.

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Debra Ruh: It before we leave this topic our corporations supporting what you're doing because I would think as society's expectations change.

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Debra Ruh: From our corporations, we expect you to be good corporations, we don't mind if you make money nothing wrong with that, but we do expect you to be given back to society so.

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Debra Ruh: I think, supporting raising the floor and the unified, you know document you talked about in morphic is a really good way for these corporations to show us they care about this Community.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Yes, then we we got a long history of of support from corporations have and in one case, the person said, you know that the better.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: better use of our funds is if we can provide the funds to somebody external who's really good at something.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: That would cost less than for us to try and hire someone in to do the exact sort of same thing, so a lot of things can only be done inside a corporation and that's good.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And the ones that do research within their organization that's also really good, because that leaks into the rest of the company in ways that.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: that's very different than outside there's also a pride of ownership, the the when you go to a place and they talk about the things that they've done.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And you reinforce it i'll tell you a story once, though, that one of the early when Microsoft was just getting into the accessibility area around blindness and things that of course blindness access is hard in the beginning.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: They were making progress, but of course they were making they weren't complete so they showed up at a seaside conference and they gave this presentation and they got grilled hard.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Because it had been years and Microsoft in previous years had not done something had basically even made comments, unfortunately, some people in the company had made comments on the order of.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Oh well, people with disabilities that's a specialty market that's not our market and which horrified other people that were in the room, but they weren't allowed to talk at the time.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: it's very, very different there now if you go to Microsoft and you.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: talk to them, I mean all the way from the President.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: On down, you know Microsoft talks about accessibility and same thing, an apple it's completely different world but back then they showed up at see sun.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And they were trying to show their stuff and so these were the people who are trying their hardest to do the accessibility and they got grilled.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: and afterwards.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: I walked up to thank them for what they were doing and the guy just said.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: i'm just i'm not gonna do this anymore i'm.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: I don't need to take this you know.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: We spent all this time trying to do this and we come here, and all we did is get yelled at and so.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: They were really discouraged, and so we I went and I got a number of people to go try and talk to them, while they were there to get them to understand that.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Well, it was kind of like you know my Dell that person that we've talked about so we have a whole bunch of volunteers, students and they had worked on this accessibility.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: This communication aid for him and they finally got it done and made a portable version of code travels with him.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And he came in and he sat down at it and he started to spell something out and they everybody's crowded around and we're expecting to say you know, thank you and you'd already wrote.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: What took you so long.

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haha.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And, and the entire.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: team was just crushed, you know they were just oh God, you know they felt terrible do this, you know all that they had done and stuff and then afterwards I reminded them and I said well.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: You know, we told him that he would have this you know, like months ago, you know and and we've been working on this thing, and it was hard to do but.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: A month ago, when you were out on a date he couldn't communicate and then, when you were out drinking last week, you know he couldn't communicate and so.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: You know, we were living our lives and he was unable to have this means of communication.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And so, even though we did this amazing wonderful thing as volunteer undergrad students that people hadn't done before all this no wonder, you guys are just beautiful.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: At the same time, look at it from his point of view he's sitting there wondering, and in unless you design or build something you have no idea how hard it is.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: not the slightest idea, you know why does it take 40,000 engineers, or something to maintain windows, or something like that it's just like we're it's crazy or fourth or whatever it is.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: it's like.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So they don't realize how hard it is so the this was one of the things that we need to remember when we talk to companies okay that.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Yes.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Who was it that was really good I mean a couple people, I know that come to mind that were really good and Taylor was one.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And she said she said, and now she's at Microsoft and she said she doesn't say anything there she says what you do is you praise them and then you hold their feet, to the fire.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: They and then this is really this is really correct, you need to.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: always give them lots of credit for what they do, but don't if, but if you stop there, by the way, if people sit back Okay, he said, but then you need to also.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: You know, tell them what's that what what isn't happening.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And that's the same model that the that we've been using and that we find really is effective, but if you forget the first one, if you just always come at the companies with what they're doing wrong what they haven't yet done.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: It really can be discouraging and you remember that a lot of the people who do accessibility sit in the middle, on one side are the.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The people inside that are trying to ship a product and they're saying you know don't tell me one more thing to do, you know, then it's not don't tell me about accessibility it's like.

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Debra Ruh: don't.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: want anything from an accessibility is one more thing between them and shipping and they're being screamed at to ship right now, on the other side you've got the consumers are saying it doesn't do any good to shepherd if we can't use it.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And so the people in the companies who do the accessibility are between a rock and hard place, if you will, and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So it's really important to remember that again it doesn't mean you don't hold their feet, to the fire, but it does mean that you make sure that you give them credit for everything they are and recognize that they are your allies, they are not your enemy.

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Debra Ruh: I agree, I agree.

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Debra Ruh: And just being a little kinder I see.

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Debra Ruh: Corporations trying to help and not if they you know they don't know how to always help and then just.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: They do.

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Debra Ruh: come down, I mean and it's like and it didn't like you said it really does discourage them and it's like well we can't make these people happy so we're going to go over here there's a danger to our Community, by showing you know scaring them away so they don't help.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Well, we had one that worked with the local.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: blindness organization to put in.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: chirping lights, you know, and that was in there and the article that came out on the front page of the Sunday paper for the state's journal ever.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: came out and said, you know the you know the trend Department of Transportation you know, obviously didn't talk to any blind people, this is degrading this is.

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demeaning.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: You know, and today it's actually part of accessibility, but they just the only the Department of Transportation went out on a limb, to try to do this they work with the local blindness groups.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And the article was just about how this was a terrible demeaning thing they shouldn't have done it and all the rest of that kind of stuff and I was like.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: that's not going to help people to feel brave enough to step forward in the future, so we have to be careful that some.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: People sometimes they do mistake, sometimes people.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Really stupid things.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: i've done really stupid things.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: My career.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: blindness and and i'll say at one place, I got.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: yelled at by some people who are blind and then afterwards it was it was the day they came up and said.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: But we know you mean well and it was just it wasn't all the people said that but somebody and they said it, and then they told me what I did wrong, and it was I just used a wrong word.

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Debra Ruh: You know that I was considering the whole message was last because I used for.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: My more like spend a lot of time teaching people who are just some words you don't use.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And and and it was one that they said it's OK, to use that word for any other disability, but ours, you know.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: It was like it just.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: There are different philosophies about things so.

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Debra Ruh: I guess different triggers to so I remember.

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Debra Ruh: hearing that touch that screens could never be made touchscreen we just it's just not possible.

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Debra Ruh: And then, of course I sat back and watched apple do it and it's like Oh well, I guess, it is possible, so I.

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Debra Ruh: I agree, I think we need to encourage the innovations and creativeness but let's talk more about morphic because I want to know about morphic.

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Debra Ruh: And, but at the same time Greg I wanted people to understand who they're dealing with because you have an amazing career behind you an amazing career, I I know i'm.

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Debra Ruh: You know, a fan and stuff, but I just am so impressed with your work, always have been, and so i've always been a fan because.

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Debra Ruh: You aren't just talking about it you're actually really, really positively impacting the world, so you invited me and some other leaders.

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Debra Ruh: gosh about the time is so weird For me, these days, but maybe a year ago to re familiarize ourselves with morphic and I remember one of the leader said.

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Debra Ruh: Is this even needed anymore, because you know, we have all these digital natives.

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Debra Ruh: And I thought it was interesting what you had said at one point because i'd never thought about it.

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Debra Ruh: And you said, well, but the reality is the digital natives they know how to use tablets, and they know how to use your mobile phones their cell phones but.

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Debra Ruh: They are not familiar with computers and laptops and Microsoft Office and things that you use inside the workforce that is still new.

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Debra Ruh: To them, it which I just thought was such an interesting point and another reason why I believe morphic is so important, so I don't know if you want to just tell us a little bit about morphic first or.

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Debra Ruh: talk a little about that point, I mean why.

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Debra Ruh: First of all, is more is more fixed so important, because I believe it is yeah.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Well morphic does several different things, and one of them is for people who have what we call low digital affinity and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Digital affinity is is like a talent, some people can sing some people can't some people can draw some people can some people can use technology, some people can't.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And if you if you look at the young people who quote are digital natives.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: You will find that they can do certain things really fast like they'll grab their phone and they can type out a text message so fast that you just sort of look at them and you go that's not possible they're not actually really typing something.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: But then, if you ask them well Okay, if I send this to you in email, can you open this up and in in word and Edit it and they just look at you like.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: If you send me a text, I can text you back if you go on this, I can do that if you share it this one way I can edit it, but if you send it to me in an email.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Or if I send it to you an email, you can get it, but I can't get it up, you know it's there are people who can make their technology sing and dance like you wouldn't believe okay.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: But there are also young people who can't figure out how to use their technology or they use it when I call superstitious Lee.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: that's like people who use their light switch every day to turn the lights on and you say, well, why does turn the light switch cause the lights, which caused the lights to go on and they go because it's a light switch you say.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: How does it work and And what if it doesn't Come on, you see what changed the light bulb I said what if it still doesn't Come on, and then it's like I don't know did I blow a fuse.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And you'd say nope it's something else, and then they have absolutely no idea what it is, because they don't actually understand it, they just have used it and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: But on computers it's not so simple they're not like flip a switch and it turns on there's so many complicated things we have even people who are.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And I get these stories all the time, people in computer science where somebody will say, well, you have to show them how to do X, because they know how to do this part of computer science, but they don't know how to do that part of of operating a computer operating system and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The end It just seems inconceivable, but you have to remember that there's different types of of technology and talents and of course we all celebrate when the technology will gets up and can't get his his laptop to show up on the projector right.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: yeah and they sit up there, and five people huddled around and you get three engineers.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: They all can get to project.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: and the rest of everybody sits back and goes ah and that's because computers are so easy right.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: No it's not.

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Debra Ruh: it's not my.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So, and then of course we have people, and so we have people of all ages that have low digital affinity and it's what they may be brilliant at doing other things that they need to have the computer for okay.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And then we have people who have disabilities, who also need to use the computer but it's out of their reach.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: right and it can be out of the reach for for a number of reasons, so when we started out morphic was all about.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Being able to if you use an assistive technology sit down at any computer and it would get the it was on there, it would set it up to be like yours alright so that's where it started.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: But then we found that that didn't work, because when you went to a computer most of the time you're he isn't going to be on that computer.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Right, so you go to the library and you want to take this course in the basement in.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: In their teaching lab.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And you say, well, do you have any accessible computers and they say yo yes and the resource room on the third floor between the hours of nine and five, we have some computers that have Oh, I think two pieces of at maybe three.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And I don't know if the one you need is on there, but in the person saying well you know I can't take the class.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Because it's up there.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So the next thing that we did with morphic is that we built in the ability to.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Have it so that assistive technologies can show up so we now have what we call installation on demand, where you can sit down to a computer.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And the at that you need will show up on that computer it brings it in installs it configured it just like yours and then, when you get off it goes away.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So you're at sort of magically shows up on the computer and then, when you get up it it goes away so that now, you can for the first time have digital equity.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Having a machine say well.

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Debra Ruh: it's just amazing because so many times, you know we send the students with disabilities home and they don't have access to the computer or the assistive technology or.

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Debra Ruh: I mean it's so to me it is the way the world should work when I go to go on my device.

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Debra Ruh: It should work, the same whether i'm using my own computer or i'm going to another computer and sometimes you know I remember legends of US traveling sorry I mean.

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Debra Ruh: it's a good idea, but also also Greg The one thing that I think is a huge issue is that when we age into a disability so it's like a lot of times.

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Debra Ruh: You know that your adult children that are trying to help the the person that agent to a disability they don't have any idea where to begin, and I remember it it happened with us, for example, my my father in law.

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Debra Ruh: He lost his hearing he became completely deaf and we just uh but he didn't live in the same state that we all did, and so we just we didn't know what to do and i'm in the business, so we.

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Debra Ruh: wound up coming up with a plan, but the answer was not to teach my father in law, who was 91 at the time, sign language, for example, it just was not a good fit.

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Debra Ruh: And so, and he still wanted to be on the computer and he was a very smart man, he was a medical doctor, but it and I want to make one more comment and then go back to morphic I remember, working with.

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Debra Ruh: The United States marines years ago and on an accessibility project and they said that.

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Debra Ruh: They had made some assumptions about digital natives and so these young men and women that were coming into our our military.

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Debra Ruh: You know they're digital natives but a were shocked to really understand that a lot of these individually vigils because, in the United States.

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Debra Ruh: Some people join quite a few join our military services, so they can get access to education.

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Debra Ruh: And so they were really in a lot of them are you know it from a lower economic class because you know, the way things are.

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Debra Ruh: And so, a lot of these individuals they did not have access to the gaming systems and the you know cell phones and stuff like that this is like five years ago, but.

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Debra Ruh: They they realized that they a lot of the assumptions they had made about these younger individuals were absolutely incorrect.

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Debra Ruh: And so that once again just continues to validate why morphic as needed and morphic, in my opinion.

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Debra Ruh: should be in all museums, it should be on all libraries, it should be in a refugee camps, it should be everywhere, I think corporation should be using it, because.

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Debra Ruh: You know what we really want to make our user experience very valuable, but at the same time as an employer you want me to be as productive as possible, so if i'm always down because you know, whatever you know it it's a big deal so most you know, I just want to ground that a little.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: know you made a really excellent point and then it's people of all.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Levels of social, economic and intelligence, we have all these professors who, when the pandemic came along couldn't figure out how to use zoom and couldn't figure out how to get on there.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: They could use their computers had been using their computers forever to do the things they did on their computers, but when you said Okay, we want you to do something new, on your computer.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: You know, some of them, it was like Oh, this is easy, you know and for other ones, it was like deer in the headlight.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The number of students who said, you know we were talking about doing something to help students get through their classrooms and stuff like that, and they said, can you give one to our Professor he doesn't seem to assign it every week.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Because every week it's something different, you know if you know, last week, you figured it out, but then this week, things were a little different than it didn't work.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And this is the superstitious behavior I did what I did last week and it didn't work out take us how many times have you gone to launch a zoom meeting or something else, and you all the time, and today it doesn't work and you just go, I have no idea what to do and.

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Debra Ruh: Sometimes works 30 minutes ago but yeah.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: i'm gonna work, and you have no idea why it's because we don't know how or why things we just sort of know if we do this, and that will happen.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And, but so we find people who have struggle with technology, who are have IQ I know people that are blazingly brighter than I am, that that but it's it's you know when they can't use technology, and I can it's like oh that's my constellation.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So that.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: We need to recognize the technology is like being tall or short.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Okay, and some people are technology tall, and most of us the computers are designed for people that are technology average and taller, but there are going to be some people who are just very low digital affinity and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And then the interfaces that we create our are above them and we know that, because we know that we who are in the middle, to the top of the technology have trouble with it.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: can't get our TVs to work, you know it's like where was that I know I found that program yesterday, and then they keep changing the interface every day.

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Debra Ruh: So yeah.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The So the first thing that we started with morphic, as I said, was worrying about this, the the tpm and then, but when we went out and started working with what we found out there was a much bigger problem, and it was this digital affinity that we talked about.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And so we started working on figuring out how to make morphic easier and one of the things we found is that a lot of people had trouble using the computer but they couldn't even see the screen they didn't know about the stuff that was built in so i'm going to share my screen.

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Debra Ruh: yeah we'd love for you to do a demonstration and show you.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So, so this is morphic you see the little chameleon here and it pops up So the first thing we did is we created a what will think of as being a basic bar and this one is free, and anybody can can can get it that works on the MAC and it also works on the PC, as you can see here.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And it just brings a number of the very simple things down here, for example, if you have things on the screen or too small, you can just click on this, and it will make everything on the screen larger don't okay.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: If you have something that you have trouble with it just small you can just use the magnifier and so you can come over and and and magnify and, of course, the mouse still works here, so you can see, I can, if I want to I can click on things here like this.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: For people who have trouble reading, you could have something, for example, that we have read selected which lets you just select any text you want to, and then you just click read.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Our blind redirects here for color blindness and other species see color visual visitor for other uses see color blind disambiguate color blindness other names, was it started now this on the MAC on the PC we also have one and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: That doesn't have the same controls is on the MAC since that's built a built in feature now, these are things that are built into the operating system and the same things are over here, you see built in on the on the PC.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: tech size and again, you can see, all of the things on screen and if I just click on here, you can see that everything just got larger.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And I can make it get larger and larger and larger and larger.

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Debra Ruh: Greg.

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Debra Ruh: I agree, all this stuff is built in the operating systems, but sometimes you just can't find them.

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Debra Ruh: I find I wanted to make my mouse bigger and I I use a MAC book air, and I know that it's in the set I know where it is, and I couldn't find it I couldn't find it yesterday so.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: here's what you do.

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Debra Ruh: him around.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The horrific click on here and it says more settings to make it easier and there's.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: All your size right.

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Debra Ruh: wow wow you click on this.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And what it does, is it dropped you right into the exact place in the control panel, where you need to be.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So you can see my you can see my mouse pointer getting bigger and smaller as I move back and forth.

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So.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The so that's what we do is is this first level is to just make all the stuff that's there available again a lot of people, they want to take a picture of something to put it in a in a in a.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Report or something, and they have to figure out how to do it.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: You know, with morphic you can just click on snip and it'll automatically give you the thing you just clip it and then I could paste that into any email or program that I wanted.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: same thing for color contrast people who have colorblindness you may get charts diagrams and they say well it's you know it's in red or green or whatever, and you can't tell the difference.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Right, so we have here is a color blindness and you can see that just by clicking on this, it can change the color shifts and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Again, if you right click you can go to settings and it'll open up right into the particular control panel that lets you pick the kind of colorblindness.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: That you have and and, as you can see the the screen will filter differently for different kinds of colorblindness.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And again, this is on the MAC and on the PC we can do the same thing, where I can come into here and again right click go to settings and then here's all my color blindness filters here so that all of this stuff is available now once you set it to your particular kind of colorblindness.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Then you can just turn it on off anytime you want to just by clicking on the button.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And you got dark mode night mode and, as I said before, there's a lot of other things here for making it pointer size much keyboard settings brightness and all the accessibility and so it brings them all to the front, where you can use them now.

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Another thing.

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Debra Ruh: Is it's so important in Greg.

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Debra Ruh: Because I, and I hope that when people are looking at this they're not thinking yeah but that's already an opera.

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Debra Ruh: It is so confusing and the operating systems are always changing and putting them in different places, this is huge for people that are aging into disabilities people that are traumatized in.

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Debra Ruh: refugee camps for just day, every day, people like us that have so much content coming at us so much we need to remember, I just think it's brilliant and so needed, I really do.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Well, two other things about this, one of them is that the features are built in, but many people have no idea, they are in their.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: own right, the every time we show this and it's interesting how many have to show to people who do computer accommodation.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: At at places now obviously they're not super expert, but they are the ones who are doing it and, and they also say like oh I work with the people who have disappeared and I didn't know all that stuff was built in there.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: But here's another important one, there are a lot of people who.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Who were this the text on the screen is too small, but they don't have low vision, the text is just too small.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Right and they're not going to go use things for people with disabilities, because they don't have a disability.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: We have a lot, a lot of that's of all ages, but it happens, a lot, and people are older, where the guy says, I don't have low vision, I just have old eyes.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And we'd say okay fine, so what this does not these things are on here and they will use these but they would never go into a disability access feature number one.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: If they could find it but almost always so we're finding that in the places where we have this.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: These features which are in every machine are used, you know, like I don't know how many 10,000 hundred thousand times as much because nobody can remember them being used at all before kind of thing.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The so it's it's really a issue of of making it so that it's easy to find an easy to use, I actually find that this is so convenient now.

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Debra Ruh: That I know.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: That I use it myself.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: and

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: My team my staff, I hear people all the time that are on our team and others now who said I got this for somebody else but you know I use these things, all the time.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And this was kind of Nice to read selected they even say i'll just turn it on click read selected and go get a cup of coffee and listen to my mail on getting my coffee.

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Debra Ruh: That it's so important.

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Debra Ruh: and the next one is.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: That we had so many people who just plain can't use the computer at all, so we created the ability to have custom orthotic bars so.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: here's, for example, a bar that might be created for somebody who is older and they can't use a computer at all all right you're at a program you tend to launch a program and close the program and they say what's a program and you go.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: it's a bunch of instructions and he says, like a shopping list, and you go well yeah shopping list is a bunch of instructions, a program is it no it's.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: A you know there's nothing like a computer program in these people's past so.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: They get a bar.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And i'll show you how easy is to make and they click and there's the photos of the grandkids.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: that's so cool about the weather there's the weather.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: that's a family zoom call they can never get on.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: There and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: It not only does it well i'm in a call right now, so I can't.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Remember, it not only launched it doesn't just launched zoo and then they have to figure out how to use it, it literally drops them into the meeting so they're supposed to call they click.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Now, I have three people that I know, all of whom have grandparents, who were very, very bright one of them was a physics professor and they have a family call every week and every single week, and this has been true for the whole pandemic.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: He has to call his father was a physics, Professor.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: 20 minutes before the family call and slowly talk him through the process of getting on to zoom and then, when he's on there he's animate he can tell stories, you can tell jokes.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: You know he's got all of his past mind and memories, but he does not have any ability to learn something new, or to remember new things, or to figure them out.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: He just clicks on this and Bingo he's in click on this again it doesn't open up Skype and then you have to find the name and then you have to go up here and click on the right and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: When you click and it drops you here you figure out if you want your camera on or not, and you click start in your into Skype call.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: You want to see the Sunday service click and now you're in the Sunday service when I see the grandkids you want to see the whether you want to see your mail.

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Debra Ruh: that's.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: What you want to read something you want something larger you want to magnify around because you want to be able to see something you can you know, can do that.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: kind of a thing so it's all just right there now, and this, you can easily make by just making one up yourself so i'm just going to show you here quickly how this works.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So here is the the thing, where I have a subscription i'm going to actually make this other larger so that it's a little easier for the people to see there you go.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And so here's Sally and i'm going to create a bar for Sally so yeah continue.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: In so let me create a new bar for her since I already have one going so here's a new bar i'm going to create for Sally and here are all the buttons so.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: She really likes to get on Amazon, so I just dropped that up, so I just click on this and Bingo there's an Amazon button she she really loves digging around on YouTube and let's see we want to be able to get her email so let's.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Make sure we find a good email site let's see she's using gmail so put that on there and then she has this knitting thing, where she really likes to go to so she can just click on this one, and you can make up a new one, so I just paste in so knitters spell it wrong right.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: I don't know what the name of a say, new news world.com and see if there is such a thing in there.

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Debra Ruh: And then it'll tell you, so you know the.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: But it'll tell you if you got it wrong.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: There is a knitters world.com, how do you like that, so I just.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So, then, I just put your knitting.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And I don't need to have that image on there i'll just put new thing and i'll make it red, which is your favorite color and save and now she clicks on this and it'll open up for meetings world.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: website, and of course you can do this for all of them, and you can leave the icons on there if you say Oh, they don't need the icon you can get rid of it, making for another button.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Then, when you're done you just push save.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And this will show up.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And then later if she says Oh, you know I really need this other one for this conference call we do.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The slightest zoom call, so you say Okay, so we click on zoom you paste in the meeting web you put you know families.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: I don't need that icon and.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: it's you know soon.com slash something I don't know.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And then you just save.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And yep I know it's it's got run and now they just push safe and Bingo that shows up on her bar on her computer, even though i'm in California and she's in in Wisconsin Okay, so that she can now have an.

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Debra Ruh: Income your I think of children with disabilities, that your parents set it up and going because a lot of times that did teachers, they don't know how to do this, but.

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Debra Ruh: Right right, I know that we are almost at it we're out of time, but will you talk a little bit about assistive technology how this works, because I love that.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Sure, I just want to show one more thing you mentioned.

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Debra Ruh: Company cool.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So here's a strip for company That just shows all of the things that a person company would need to do.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: To make it so people will be confused and so you can make ones.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: custom for any application so for somebody who has an assistive technology what they would do is it, they installed on their on their home computer and then again they can.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Just sort of click on here, and then they go up to save current setup okay.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And when they click on this, it will then go and it'll find all the settings on their computer all right.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And then, what it'll do is it'll give them a list of all of the things that it found on their computer the assistive technology and the the settings.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The accessibility settings and then there's just a list, and you pick off the ones you want to save and then you pick on the ones you want to have automatically launch.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And then you just click save and now you can go to any other computer.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And you just click and you come up to apply a save setup or just even just sign into the machine, you can have it, that when you sign in it'll automatically do all of that bring your assistive technologies down and set them up for you.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So we're actually even working.

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Debra Ruh: With the larger place now to.

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Debra Ruh: i'm sorry I interrupted you go ahead.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: we're also working with.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: tech testing sites also.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: So that.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The goal would be that the testing site has a clean computer a sterile computer that you can come in and bring not you're at, but a copy.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: A clean copy of the same at you use and then it'll set up exactly like you're at but we're also working on making it sort of turn off any particular feature in the at sometimes you're taking a spelling test, and you have a spell checker built into your at.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And so they say, well, you can't use the at so we can say, well, no, we can turn it on, but we can turn off the spell checker for you, so that.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: It can take the test they get everything, just like everybody else.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And it's not some piece of at like giving somebody else your glasses, to take a.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: talent.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: You know, you want to have it set up the way you need to be.

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Debra Ruh: But it's so amazing because one problem that we see a lot is that you know it just looking at a student a student will go to school and they'll have everything set up the way they want.

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Debra Ruh: But then when they go home they don't have access to that.

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Debra Ruh: And you see that happening all the time, I know that there was a big arguments in the States about.

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Debra Ruh: Who does that belong to that assistive technology, the schools, but does that belong to the individual or to the school and then the child was moving between you know elementary and middle and and it wasn't following or they're even going home and they couldn't use it, so I think.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: They go to the tutors.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: or they go to another.

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Great.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: thing is that who get taken care of and gets shifted around and they're supposed to do their homework where they're at grandma's House well does grandma have a computer, that is, is there at from their school on grandma's computer.

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Debra Ruh: setup right is it all set up for their needs, because it's complicated.

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Debra Ruh: yeah so all right, I know that we have gone long, but I love what you're doing I think there's so many applications, so I would.

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Debra Ruh: ask a couple of questions and then I will let you go I know i've kept you long but.

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Debra Ruh: First of all, the question I would want to know how do people find you and how do they find morphic and also, I would really want you to tell us Greg.

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Debra Ruh: How can society help you with this, what do you need do you need corporation supporting you I mean what can we do, do you because I want to get you into the United Nations, so they can see what you're doing because.

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Debra Ruh: You know, computers are complicated technology is complicated, but this is a way to make sure that humans don't matter which computers, they go to can use can be successful at it so.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The well, the first thing is, if you just go to morphic.org.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: You will find.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: All about it.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: The if you go to the basic features and the the plus features on those pages you'll find right here two minute video it's really quick it gives you a demonstration, you can click here, you can get morphic it's free, and the reason it's free is because of contributions.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: And so, one of the ways that you can help for people.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Especially people who can't have wouldn't be able to afford it if we had to charge, for it is, is to contribute.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: We also have the plus version, which is the part where you can customize them, you know, and right now, between now and the end of September.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Because we're just still under grant funding, you can get more effect, plus subscription free for life, and if we get enough subscriptions will be able to make it free for life for for everybody else as well.

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Debra Ruh: What if I wanted to donate where do I go to donate how do I do it here on this this screen, I know that we also are going to do a crowdfunding more for morphic because we want morphic all over the world, but where where would somebody go to donate to you.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: Well, you can write [email protected] and that'll get us to, as you can always go to the faq page and down at the bottom, it says, you know how can I help with word funding, and this will always give you the latest information on how to do it.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: already knows you about how to make a donation or stuff, but if you have any questions about it really go to the faq it's really.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: It doesn't look like it's very long, but it turns out, each one of these expands into many more questions so that you can always easily find the question you want.

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Gregg C Vanderheiden: answered private cost anything else about it.

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Debra Ruh: And if you're a corporation watching this the benefit to your employees, you know if you're a university think about the benefits.

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Debra Ruh: I mean this is so powerful and you know it's becoming more and more confusing to use a computer it just is, we have more and more data coming at us, but.

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Debra Ruh: All right, so morphic.org Dr Greg Vander hide and we're going to talk more about this on Twitter on Tuesday, but let me also thank our sponsors Barclays Access, Microlink, My Cleat Text. we love you.

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Debra Ruh: My clear text which makes sure we're fully accessible and micro link, or we just so much appreciate your support and I will also say do look for crowdfunding we're going to do a crowdfunding because.

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Debra Ruh: And also billion strong we are getting behind morphic because we think this is something that will change.

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Debra Ruh: You know our Community, in a very, very powerful way so you're going to see a lot about morphic on billion, strong and Dr Gregg Vanderheiden  has been kind enough to be one of our our advisors, but.

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Debra Ruh: I I love this and I just think it and you know people might say, well i'm so smart I don't need.

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Debra Ruh: yeah whatever if you are good for you, but people like me and so many other people, we need morphic and we need to support what Dr binder heightens doing so.

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Debra Ruh: Thank you so much for being on the show today, thank you and I hope, Neil and Antonio have a wonderful holiday and we will see on Twitter bye everyone.