Dragon Naturally Speaking Is Making a Difference

Dragon Naturally Speaking Is Making a Difference

In the past, individuals with disabilities were dependent upon others to perform a basic work-related task. Today with developments in technology, individuals with disabilities can work independently. Dragon Naturally Speaking is really making me more independent.

dragon naturally speaking

Dragon Naturally Speaking

Individuals with disabilities can achieve independence in their work through the use of adaptive technologies such as Dragon Naturally Speaking and Kurzweil Reader 3000. As most of you know, my disability is Cerebral Palsy – as a result, I am unable to read or write by myself without the use of adaptive technologies. These two programs allow me to read whatever and whenever I want to and write something anytime I want.

An Army of Support in Law School

When I was in law school, I had a staff of 30 readers, who help me study from 8 o’clock in the morning until 10 o’clock at night. When I practiced law, I had a constant need for a staff of readers and typist to help me out.  They imported the work that I dictated because speech and reading technology were not fully developed. It had mistakes in the text so I didn’t want that.

The Need for Help Ended My Law Practice

The constant need for staff was one of the reasons why I was unable to make a profit as an attorney. Just before I close my practice in 2010, I was able to dictate documents and correspondence to Dragon Naturally Speaking. The documents required a lot of editing back then recognition capacity was only about 65%. Now through the use of these technologies, I can function independently.

Speech and Reading Technology

Speech technology has really improved over the years. I am a proponent of Dragon Naturally Speaking 15. The training for this product is much simpler than it was in the past. The user had to read long paragraphs from a book or speech in order to train the software with Dragon 15. You now simply read two simple paragraphs to test and set up your audio input system. Periodically, Dragon prompts you to let your profiles learn from new documents or emails. This is a great way to add new words without having to specifically train them. The only difficult thing that I found with learning from emails was when I forgot the password to one of my accounts.

TTY Disability Awareness

Background Noise and Dragon Naturally Speaking

It can be difficult to use Dragon when there is a great amount of background noise. For example, when I worked at Social Security, we had busier times in the office and the software became impossible to use because of the noise. Another problem that occurred, while I was working at Social Security was the Dragon had a lot of difficulty working in Social Security’s mainframe system. I had to stay in spell mode during applications and speak single letters or spell out each word.

Dragon also allows you to use a digital recorder after dictating a document into the digital recorder. You can simply attach it to the computer and the recorded document will be transcribed into the DragonPad. I have difficulty operating the buttons on my digital recorder so it is an option that I do not use often. The Dragon was voted the #1 dictation software in 2017 by Tech Rader. Individuals with a wide variety of disabilities can now use a personal computer.

Input Can be Whatever

Some people can’t type with their hands – so they use other parts of their body. People like Chris, use their heads to type. One person can tell the screen-reading software to read spreadsheet data aloud to her, while a paralyzed programmer can write code by controlling his computer with the subtle movement of his neck muscles. There are a lot of ways to use a computer.

The key is that the PC is a general computing device that’s adaptable to different forms of input and output. The computer doesn’t care, for instance, that the user is controlling the pointer with her feet or eye movements instead of a traditional mouse and keyboard. Touchscreens can take the place of keyboards and mice as sources of control and input. Screen readers like Jaws can assist visually impaired individuals to navigate on the In the past individuals with disabilities were dependent upon others to perform the basic work-related task. Today technology and disability are working together to make people more independent.

Technology has made life for people with disabilities easier. As the technology advances, it will just help us out even more. If you use a program or a device like Dragon Naturally Speaking that helps you to be more independent, please tell us about it in the comments below.

Alexa: Do You Help People With Disabilities?

Alexa: Do You Help People With Disabilities?

Do you want to increase your quality of life your quality of life? Do you want to create a home with meet your needs in light of your disability? I strongly recommend the use of smart home technologies. Using integrated technology like Amazon Alexa and Google home assistant you can increase your home’s functionality a little bit of the time starting with what you need first. The Internet and modern technology alleviate the need to purchase one expensive device to perform a task.

Amazon Alexa

The Alexa application can be used to control the lights, the TV, and other applications as well as set alarms. It can also be used to read headlines from new sources such as CNN Reuters and Fox. The technology has opened up a whole new world for an individual who could not read books or newspapers by themselves.  The Amazon echo can also be used to perform Internet searches without using one’s hands. When I performed my initial research for this post I did so use my Alexa for fire TV. The device can also be used for shopping and setting reminders.

Amazon Alexa

My Setup With Amazon Alexa and Google Home Assistant

The lights in the house can be controlled with simple devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home Assistant. The technology isn’t perfect but it represents a great start and will provide benefits and comfort to individuals with disabilities. I have the good fortune to live in a home in southern New Jersey that is wheelchair accessible. It has a flat entranceway in the front of the house. My back porch as a wooden ramp which permits me to exit off the back porch from double doors leading out of the house. It has wider doorways so my motorized wheelchair can drive through. The doorway to my bedroom is 36 inches. My bathroom contains a roll in shower and accessible sink.

There is one thing I would change about my house I cannot open and close the front door by myself, unfortunately, I am very dependent upon others to get in and out of the house. I would prefer to have a door with an electronic time in a combination lock. At this time the items are beyond my budget.

Ideal World

In my ideal world, my home would function as a part of my care as crazy as it sounds Jensen’s cartoons where technology showers George dresses him and brushes his teeth. The August Smart Lock can be used to grant equal access to your home at certain times of the day such as home health aide. An individual smartphone can be used as a key. If you don’t want the person coming over anymore you can simply remove their access. The device also keeps track of who arrives and when. It provides more safety than a keypad with a combination.

If you have a falling out with a former home health aide you can restrict your access simply by removing them. This is a cost-effective item because it sells on Amazon for $181.24. This item is definitely cost-effective and could be purchased with the proceeds from my Social Security disability check.

Other Devices

Other wonderful devices include the ring doorbell which allows you to see the person at the door through the smartphone application. You can decide whether or not to answer the door. There also smart thermostats which allow you to control the temperature of your house.

One drawback I see with respect to these devices is that they are all Internet-based. If your Internet connection is unreliable, the devices will not function. I frequently had to reset my router to ensure that my Internet-based devices actually work. Fortunately, this is usually a simple process of restarting the router which I do by simply unplugging it or by calling my Internet provider on the phone. I do not presently possess a smart door lock a ring doorbell or a smart thermostat. My mother has to help me with resetting the thermostat or to see who is actually at the door. I believe that these devices would greatly enhance our personal freedom.

While my Jetsons fantasy of devices that provide me with attendant care is still far-fetched smart home devices are not and can provide a great deal of personal independence. I strongly urge you to try them because many of them are more cost-effective than I thought at first. If you know other technologies that work for you, please leave it as a comment below.

Is Living Independently Achievable?

Is Living Independently Achievable?

The quest for living independently and functioning autonomously. The aspirations of disabled people are the same as everyone else’s to live work and function as independently as possible. Everyone whether disabled or not wants to have a good job, a good home, and be surrounded by family friends and loved ones.

Factors Preventing Living Independently

There are key factors in determining whether a disabled person is able to live independently. I believe that supportive parents are very essential to fostering independence in their disabled children. It is important for parents to have realistic expectations of what their children can do and can’t do. It is important for parents to convey a positive attitude. I was always taught that I could do whatever I put my mind to if I wanted to bad enough. This proved to be a good attitude to have when it came to academic achievement. It also had some negative consequences during the times that I was unable to achieve what I expected myself to in the economy. I find myself setting expectations too high it points.

Flawed System

One problem is that the social safety net fosters dependence rather than independence. For example, if I were to take a job earning $1180 per month, I would lose my Social Security benefit because I’ve already had two nine-month trial work periods. Therefore I believe that the Social Security system discourages multiple attempts at being able to work. The system reaches individuals when they are only an extreme crisis and not beforehand. Societies low expectations of what a disabled person can achieve can have a negative impact upon them. It is essential for disabled people to take control of their own decisions.

The US vs Europe

Many of the states within the United States have attendant care programs which pay for the disabled person to be cared for in their homes. These programs are not necessarily designed to foster independence their design more to help the state save money in nursing home care. European countries have signed on the compacts giving disabled people the right to live independently. Many counties in England are trying to limit their attendant care cost to fixed amounts which would require disabled people go without care or limit the amount that they need. This is tantamount to saying that people must be institutionalized. Is living independently a right?


Living Independently is right


Traditionally, independence was defined as having a good job and living on your own. A more modern definition would include independent decision-making and responsibility for your own choices. Oftentimes when a person with a disability lives with their family, who has their best interests at heart. They may lose control of their own choices. It can be hard for people with disabilities to move away from family if they do not have enough resources to sustain themselves. Like it or not a lot of independence comes down to having enough money to pay the bills click here for more info about your financing.


Caregivers are paid individuals and are essential to the quality of life of many people with disabilities.  However, the constant need to have them around may inhibit social interaction. I remember back during my undergraduate days at Edinboro University – all of the students with disabilities stayed together and socialized. I do not remember there being much interaction outside the disabled services program. I limited myself due to shyness and awkwardness. A study by Passmore and Packer indicated that people with disabilities may have to go through long periods of inactivity before they are permitted to participate in social activities. Mainstreaming with disabilities into the school system tends to help all people in the act in a better fashion with their disabled peers and their nondisabled peers to interact with them.


It takes a strong outgoing personality to develop friendships with people who are not disabled. Society itself may also limit our opportunities. No matter how much education I received. I often feel like society still reminded me that I was disabled. Even in law practice, I do not believe that I was viewed with the same respect as other attorneys had. It could be that the severity of my disability and the slowness of my speech pattern affected people’s perceptions of me.

My advice to parents of children with disabilities would be to help your children set realistic expectations and allow them to function as independently as they can. I would also advise getting a good education without going into too much debt for it and trying to find a job which does not your child in light of their disability.  Living independently is a right so people with disabilities should have the opportunity to live on their own.

Living With a Disability What Community is Best for You

Living With a Disability What Community is Best for You

The purpose of this article is to find the most disability-friendly cities in the United States. My evaluation criteria consist of the following items:

  1. Cost-of-living
  2. Affordable reliable attendant care
  3. Accessible affordable transportation close to home with proximity to work, school, doctors, and entertainment.

According to the Social Security Administration, one in every 5 people has a disability today. Sadly, this is not a sufficient amount of money to cover our living monthly expenses. The average Social Security check pays $1165 a month barely enough to keep a person above poverty.

This information was found in a report by wallet hub. It is clear in life as well as business cost control is the key, especially when many disabled people are living on a fixed income such as Social Security disability or SSI.

One pervasive problem that may still exist in many areas is the lack of affordable accessible public housing. I presently live in southern New Jersey. The Burlington County Housing Authority does not have any disability accessible units at this time. Applications are not in them being accepted at this time. This information is based upon a phone call I had with the Housing Authority in February 2017.
Attendant care New Jersey.

disability-friendly cities pca

Attendant Care Options

New Jersey has 2 attendant care options one is a Medicaid waiver program in which the state pays for the attendant care of disabled persons after a required annual assessment. Under this program, there is a recapture provision which means that the state is able to recover the amounts expended on the disabled person’s care from his estate. The recapture takes effect at the decedent’s death.

The 2nd program allows family members of disabled persons to be paid. Under this program, the disabled person is either required to work and pay a co-pay based upon his income or to perform 20 hours of volunteering per month. Under this program, there is no estate recapture.

disability-friendly cities accessible bus


Portland, Oregon has a wonderful transportation system. Portland Oregon. The transportation system is entirely accessible including bosses and trolley cars. In Portland Oregon a disabled person can take a car or minibus provided by the tri-med transportation system the city even has accessible trails that can be enjoyed by persons with disabilities a significant benefit of this city is its moderate climate historically.

The city of Berkeley, California is known as the base for the independent living movement the state of California pays for attendant care and the city of Berkeley has been known to provide backup attendance in the event that yours is absent on a given day. A system like this would’ve been useful when I was choosing my law school. I was accepted by Temple University but I would’ve had to rely upon my attendance to come in and get me out of bed every day which does not always happen. Berkeley, CA might be one of the disability-friendly cities.

Las Vegas, Nevada

All of the major attractions on the strip are accessible and elevators are abundant. Even the sidewalks are wide in the streets are flat. The buses kneel to allow wheelchair access. All forms of public transportation are accessible including trolleys. If you don’t mind me saying I think I found my next vacation spot, which might be one of the most disability-friendly cities. The information contained in this article was based upon the general needs of disabled persons and my own needs it is important to know your needs and requirements prior to choosing a location in which you are to live. I hope the information contained in this article proved helpful.

The Quest for Affordable Accessible Housing

The Quest for Affordable Accessible Housing

If you’re like me a physically disabled individual with very limited resources such as Social Security disability being your only source of income it can be very difficult if not impossible to find affordable accessible housing when you are disabled.

 2 Affordable Accessible Housing Programs

Generally, there are 2 types of housing programs that I am aware of 1 of which is section 8 housing which provides vouchers for rent and subsidizes the rent payment under section 8 housing which is a federal program rent is approximately one-third of monthly income.

The second type of housing is public housing both are federal programs administered by County housing authorities. These programs have income and assets requirements that you must meet in order to be eligible generally to be eligible for public housing your income level must be 80% of federal poverty. To be eligible for section 8 housing your income level must be 50 to 80% of federal poverty. Income and asset requirements vary by jurisdiction. The information contained in this article is intended strictly as guidance you should check with your County Housing Authority to determine purpose besides income and asset requirements.

I am originally from Bucks County Pennsylvania. When I last applied for public housing the income limits the eligible was $15,000 a year. Also, assets affected eligibility for example if you owned a house the value of that house would count against you and prevent you from being eligible. There is also a 3 to 5 year period related to asset transfers. Individuals would frequently try to transfer assets to children in order to render themselves eligible for public housing. I would strongly advise honesty in the reporting of income and assets to avoid misrepresentation fraud and ineligibility for a substantial period of time.

accessible housing section 8 housing

Waiting Lists

Many housing authorities also have waiting lists. In which the application was received. It is also important to note that many local housing authorities have stopped receiving applications. In many housing authorities, there are no disability accessible units such as Burlington County New Jersey. When you apply, you are placed on the back of the housing list as dwellings become available people move up on the list based upon the time applying for section 8 housing may make it possible to obtain an apartment more quickly.

When Accepted

Once you are accepted into public housing you will be required to put down a 1st and last month security deposit. When you are in public housing, it is important to pay your rent on time and keep your other bills current. Also, you must comply with all federal state and local regulations with regard to occupancy in the past I’ve heard stories of many individuals who have lost their federal lease due to having more individuals in the apartment and were listed on the lease. Also, many individuals have lost their lease and access to federal housing because of drug use or other illegal activity.


Providers of the accessible housing may not discriminate on the basis of disability under the fair housing act a disability is defined as an impairment which affects a major life activity just like the ADA the definition under the federal fair housing act also covers people perceived as having a disability or having a record of such impairment. Your landlord cannot discriminate simply because he or she is uncomfortable with your disability. I would advise the following steps in summation:

(1) contact your county Housing Authority to determine eligibility requirements

(2) gather all of your available financial information.

(3) gather information related to your disability most times a simple letter stating the nature of your disability and limitations will suffice.

(4) apply for both section 8 subsidized housing and public housing.

(5) once you have obtained a rental voucher look for an apartment taking into account its location so that you are close to public transportation so you can get to your doctor appointments and your job.

(6) once you have found an appropriate apartment and been accepted make a written request for reasonable accommodation.

(7) if the possible fight to save up money to pay for the necessary accommodations.

If this is not possible in light of your circumstances look for grants that help disabled people pay for modifications. I wish you all success in your quest for independent living and accessible housing.  Discrimination in housing is not permitted. Public areas must be made accessible under title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act. There are many rights in housing for people with disabilities.


Under the fair housing act landlord’s must permit the modification to allow the disabled person full use and enjoyment of the property the cost of the modifications are the responsibility of the tenant examples of reasonable accommodations include lowering of entranceways installing a ramp widening doorways on the inside of the premises. A ramp may be built on the outside of the premises to render a public area more accessible. Another necessary reasonable accommodation is a reserved handicap parking spot in front of your apartment even if no other parking spots are reserved.