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The Autism Network for Deaf/Hard of Hearing
and Blind/Visually Impaired

 Autism Research Institute
4182 Adams Avenue
San Diego, California 92116 USA


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Welcome to the summer issue of our e-newsletter dedicated to those on the autism spectrum who are deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired.


Our meeting with parents and professionals at the Autism Research Institute's Newark conference this last April was very productive. We shared concerns about those on the autism spectrum who are dealing with deafness/hard of hearing and/or blindness/visual impairment. Based on the feedback of those present, we made some revisions, and are exploring more opportunities to connect with other groups.


Please contact us if you have any suggestions or comments about this network. Our email address is: [email protected]


The Network's mission is to raise awareness of communication and education needs as well as to promote advocacy and research for those who have autism and are deaf/hard of hearing and/or blind/visually impaired. 


Margaret Creedon, Ph.D., ABPP

     and Steve Edelson, Ph.D.

Revised Network Sign-Up on ARI's Website
ARI's website is restructured, so that access to the Deaf/HOH & Blind/Visually Impaired Network is located in a different area on the homepage of www.autism.com.   At the top of the homepage there is a link titled "Advocacy and Resources."  Click on this link to view another link titled "Resources for Deaf/HOH & Blind/Visually Impaired w/ASD."  On this page, you can register to join ARI's Deaf/HOH & Blind/Visually Impaired Network. 
This new network includes individuals, family members, teachers, and other professionals, all on a team dedicated to advancing educational and social options for our members.  The network provides us a more direct way to keep in contact with the community, and to let people know when research and other interesting and helpful topics are available.  You can be assured that your name and contact information will not be released to any person or organization without your direct authorization.  
Autism Society Conference and Annual Meeting of
the Network


The Autism Society continues its support of this Network as a special-interest group. This year's conference will be held in San Diego on July 25-28, 2012. We will host a meeting on Friday, July 27th from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm, to include updates on relevant issues along with a special presentation titled "Vision: the Unseen Disability in Autism." Dr. Kauser Sharieff, a neuro-developmental optometrist, will talk about functional visual skills, and Dr. Margaret Creedon will discuss practical options for home and school settings. All people with ASD including deafness/hard of hearing and those with syndromes related to vision will benefit from this joint presentation.


We look forward to meeting you in San Diego. For more information go to www.autism-society.org.

Apple and Android Tablets as Communication and Learning Tools for Deaf/HOH
and Blind/VI 


There are a growing number of applications for iPad and Android that can be valuable tools for those on the autism spectrum, and those with sensory-based needs. These tablet devices are revolutionizing how many people on the spectrum learn as well as how they communicate with others.


Some of the built-in features on these devices, especially the iPad, include: open captions, closed captions, and subtitling; headphone jack and bluetooth audio; mono audio (integrates the stereo channel for those with hearing loss in one ear); adjustable visual display for better contrast; and visual alerts for Mail and many other apps. Users can also integrate their own photos into many apps directly from the camera feature, and there are many apps that include voice recognition as well as voice output.


A college student in Virginia who is blind and has a moderate-to-severe hearing loss in both ears wrote to us recently to praise the usefulness of VoiceOver, an app that comes standard on iPads. He wrote: "VoiceOver works by sliding your finger around the screen; it identifies the element under your finger, and says aloud to 'double tap to open.' You then tap your finger twice on the screen to open an application."


An Internet search, such as on Google or Yahoo, using keywords such as "autism apps," "hard of hearing apps," "visually impaired apps," and so on will provide a listing. Here are just a few examples:


FaceTime, Skype - quality, fast-rate video to communicate with sign language and/or lip reading


SpeakIt - reads aloud emails, documents, web pages, etc.


SoundAmp - adjusts sound in one's surrounding with an equalizer, adjusts background sound levels, and replays the last 30 seconds


On the horizon:


Computer scientists at Technabling Ltd. in Scotland are developing a translator program for the deaf called the "Portable Sign Language Translator." It uses a camera to facilitate communication with the non-signing community. For example, an individual 'signs' to a camera, and the sign is then converted into text or voice output. The users can customize the app in order to interpret sign language jargon and even personalize their own signs. The developers plan to apply this technology to various sign language systems.


Muriel Saunders of the University of Kansas' Life Span Institute has been conducting research with children with cortical visual impairment (CVI). These children do not usually look directly at people and objects, but they do look at light. Thus, interacting with screen items might be helpful to individuals with CVI to develop a better sense of control, and make possible the needed practice to improve their vision. As a result, they will begin to interpret and understand images.


Given the importance of tablet technology, we expect the development of many more powerful apps to improve communication and learning for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as those who are blind or visually impaired. Please let us know whenever you find other useful apps so we can share them with our Network member readers.

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