Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Size, strength of heart's right side differs by age, gender, race/ethnicity

American Heart Association Journal Report:

Size, strength of heart’s right side differs by age, gender, race/ethnicity
Study Highlights:

  • The size and pumping ability of the right side of the heart differs by age, gender and race/ethnicity, according to the first large imaging study of the right ventricle. \
  • Defining the right ventricular norms for different populations could aid in identifying abnormal right ventricle size and function.
  • Abnormal right ventricle function may be a sign of conditions that involve both the heart and lungs.
DALLAS, June 6, 2011 — The size and pumping ability of the right side of the heart differs by age, gender and race/ethnicity, according to the first large imaging study of the right ventricle.

The study, reported in
Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, also suggests that understanding the fundamental differences in the right side of the heart gives doctors and researchers a basis for determining what is abnormal. The researchers think that changes in right ventricle size and function may be a sign of cardiopulmonary disease (conditions that involve both the heart and lungs).

"The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen, so all types of lung diseases — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, and sleep apnea — can affect the right side of the heart," said Steven Kawut, M.D., M.S., study author. "These results show underlying differences in people without clinical heart disease and could explain the variability of the right ventricular response in people with cardiopulmonary disease."

The researchers found that the right ventricle is:

  • smaller but pumps harder in older adults.
  • larger in men than women.
  • smaller in African-Americans and larger in Hispanics, compared with Caucasians.

In most studies on the heart, researchers have focused on the more-easily-imaged left ventricle, the region of the heart affected by systemic high blood pressure and other common conditions. Some of the relationships between gender, age and race/ethnicity found in the new study are different from what‟s known about the left ventricle. For example, the left ventricle increases in mass with age and is larger in African-Americans than Caucasians.

"It‟s not surprising that the relationships are different, since the right and left ventricles differ in their development in the embryo, their shape, and the area of the body they serve," said Kawut,
associate professor of medicine and epidemiology and director of the pulmonary vascular disease program at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

The researchers examined magnetic resonance images of the right ventricles of 4,204 men and women, average age 61.5, participating in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). MESA is a multicenter research project tracking the development of cardiovascular disease in 6,814 Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics and Chinese-Americans who did not have clinically-diagnosed heart disease at the beginning of the study.

Using norms derived from the study, 7.3 percent of the participants would be considered to have right ventricular hypertrophy and 5.9 percent to have dysfunction of the right ventricle.

If validated in future research, the norms can help physicians identify patients with abnormal right ventricle structure or function.

"If right ventricle abnormalities are found, it should heighten suspicion for underlying cardiopulmonary disease," Kawut said.

When the right ventricle loses its pumping ability, blood can back up into other areas of the body, producing congestion (right-sided heart failure). The new findings may help test effectiveness of treatments that could be developed for right ventricle dysfunction.

"This study is a first step, but we need to see how the right ventricle changes over five to 10 years in these „normal‟ people, many of whom have COPD, sleep apnea and other common lung problems," Kawut said.

Co-authors are: João A.C. Lima, M.D.; R. Graham Barr, M.D., Dr.PH.;

Harjit Chahal, M.D., M.P.H.; Aditya Jain, M.D., M.P.H.; Harikrishna Tandri, M.D., Ph.D.;

Amy Praestgaard, M.S.; Emilia Bagiella, Ph.D.; Jorge R. Kizer, M.D., M.Sc.; W. Craig Johnson, M.S.; Richard A. Kronmal, Ph.D. and David A. Bluemke, M.D., Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded the study.

Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association’s policy or position. The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at www.americanheart.org/corporatefunding.


Additional resources:

Downloadable stock footage, animation and our image gallery are located at www.heart.org/news under Multimedia.

Learn how to perform Hands Only CPR

CPR Week

Did you know that you can save lives with your bare hands? That is exactly what millions of Americans are learning to do by training in CPR. The American Heart Association has been training individuals for decades on how to be a vital tool in the event of cardiac arrest. Take some time to check out our 60-second online Hands-Only™ CPR Instructional Video, and you could become a lifesaver.

Social Security Information


The National Academy of Social Insurance has created a primer containing vital information on such questions as:

  • Who receives Social Security? What are typical Social Security benefits? How do benefits compare to earnings for retirees at different wage levels?
  • Who pays for it?
  • How many older Americans receive employer-sponsored pensions?
  • How are Social Security retirement benefits projected to change in the future?
  • What is Social Security disability insurance?
  • Why will Social Security cost more in the future? Can we afford Social Security in the future?
  • How can we strengthen Social Security? What are our options?
  • What do American workers say about Social Security?

To get this new primer, visit:

For a summary of the Trustees report on Social Security finances, visit:

Great free event in Dallas, Texas

July 7, 2011
Richland College
Dallas, Texas
9-11:30 a.m.
Fannin Performance Hall
Special Event
Fall 2011
Back-to-School Kickoff

When times are bad, or when we're just feeling down, we go to the movies to escape our troubles.

How do the movies, which are generally depression/recession proof, help us shake the blues?
Presented by Larry Ratliff
Film Critic, Film Feature Writer, and Celebrity Interviewer
It's Free!

Includes coffee, muffins, and an overview of our Emeritus fall classes.
R.S.V.P. by July 1. Call 972-238-6972 to reserve your space for this FREE Event.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Free health screening

VNA Nurse
July Health Screening
Total Cholesterol
For seniors 60+ and spouses
Immediate results No Fasting

Please call to confirm dates, times, and locations

TIME: 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Only at these Senior Centers on the dates below

Tuesday, July 5
Garland-Carver Senior Center
222 Carver
Garland, TX 75040

Wednesday, July 6
Desoto Senior Center
204 Lion Street
Desoto, TX 75115

Thursday, July 7
Seagoville Senior Center
304 E. Farmers
Seagoville, TX 75159

Friday, July 8
Garland -Downtown Senior Center
600 W. Avenue A,
Garland, TX 75040

Monday, July 11
Mesquite-Goodbar Senior Center
3000 Concord
Mesquite, TX 75150

Tuesday, July 12
Mesquite-Evans Senior Center
1116 Hillcrest
Mesquite, TX 75149

Wednesday, July 13
Irving-Heritage Senior Center
200 S. Jefferson
Irving, TX 75060

VNA Health Promotion Program 214-689-2230
Sponsored by Dallas Area Agency on Aging, Texas Department on Aging and Disability Services and The Visiting Nurse Association of Texas (VNA)

5 tips - caring for Seniors with Parkinson's

5 Tips - Caring for Seniors with Parkinson's

Advice for families and caregivers

Parkinson's Disease is typically diagnosed in people between the ages of 50-60. Even though the disease normally hits prior to senior age, many of the resources available for general aging can be helpful for seniors dealing with Parkinson's. While there's currently no cure, there are steps you can take to help minimize the symptoms from interrupting their day-to-day lives.

Tip 1: Dealing with Sleep Disturbances

Nighttime tremors associated with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) can keep many seniors with Parkinson's from getting a good night's rest. Medication can also cause disruptions and has been known to cause intense dreams or nightmares that interfere with sleeping. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol prior to bedtime can help, as well as decreasing fluid intake so that it's not necessary to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Exercising and being most active in the morning and earlier in the day will also help to promote better sleep throughout the night.

Tip 2: Helping with the Weight of Depression

Around 40% of Parkinson's Disease patients will experience depression after being diagnosed. To help lift this, having a caregiver or home companion encourage exercise and outside activities can help shift the focus from the disease to more positive topics. Concentrating on the fact that by staying active and being generally healthy, some side effects of Parkinson's can be minimized.

Tip 3: Reducing Hand and Arm Tremors

For starters, limiting caffeine intake can have an effect on reducing tremors. But to help specifically with hand and arm tremors, there's a few tricks for helping stabilize the muscle spasms so that arm movements stay more fluid. Pressing the elbow into the body, as well as using an arm or wrist brace that covers the joints can make a major impact in hand stabilization.

Tip 4: Helping Restore Balance and Coordination

Many Parkinson's patients will begin to experience impaired balance and coordination, which can cause instability in standing and create a greater risk of falling. Installing handrails throughout a home can be beneficial to regaining balance quickly. Also, making sure that chairs and stools all have backs will help maintain balance when sitting. Having a caregiver assist seniors by setting goals while walking, such as lifting feet higher or focusing on an end destination, can help significantly minimize falls.

Tip 5: Ease the Soreness of Stiff Limbs

Aerobic exercise has been able to help alleviate limb stiffness in some Parkinson's sufferers. Additionally, doing resistance training and stretching can also help slow the progression of stiff joints, weakness and lack of mobility that the disease can cause.

Even though Parkinson's undoubtedly creates a barrier to normal everyday activities, there are ways to make life and miscellaneous daily tasks easier. Remember that staying active and healthy are always great ways to combat the negative side effects, both physically and emotionally, of this condition.

A warning from the Texas Department of Public Safety

Texas DPS warns of telephone scams using its name

Scammers have been calling Texans in various parts of the state, demanding that residents immediately pay for overdue red-light tickets.

The most recent incident was reported in Cleveland, Texas, where police say that residents have received calls from someone claiming to represent DPS and demanding payment on a red-light safety camera ticket. The scammers say that an arrest warrant will be issued if the person receiving the call does not provide a credit card number, as well as Social Security numbers and other personal information.

The Texas Department of Public Safety does not collect traffic fines or oversee red-light cameras.

“You should never give out personal information over the phone when someone else initiated the call,” said Steven C. McCraw, director of DPS. “If you receive a call like this, you should write down any contact information from the Caller ID, if available, and then contact your local law enforcement agency.”

DPS also reminds Texans that the department does not call requesting charitable donations.

“The Department of Public Safety will never solicit financial contributions from private citizens. DPS is funded by tax dollars and our employees will never call your home or business to solicit donations,” McCraw said.

DPS advises citizens not to give money to these groups as the funds may not go to the causes that are claimed. Some groups include in their names the terms, “Texas Rangers,” State Troopers,” Texas Highway Patrol,” or “Department of Public Safety.”

While some current or former employees may be members of some of these associations on their own time, these organizations are not affiliated with the DPS nor do they represent the department. Many of these organizations provide only a small percent of their donations for good causes, with the majority of the donations going to administrative and operational purposes.

Some of these organizations suggest that official looking decals resembling official DPS affiliation placed on personal vehicles may somehow keep the individual from receiving a traffic citation from law enforcement. There is also a lack of public accountability and transparency by many of these organizations.

If you are contacted by a group you believe is misrepresenting itself as part of the Texas Department of Public Safety, contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-621-0508.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Helping Families Track Their Seniors' Important Medical Information

Helping Families Track Their Seniors'
Important Medical Information

You know that look. A daughter is sitting in front of you dazed and confused. She's just been through multiple doctors' consults, received garbled or confused input from her mother, and had two stressful conversations with her siblings about Mom's care. You know you need to find out her mother's insurance information, as well as a list of her doctors and conditions, but you seriously doubt you'll get any of that information today.

It should come as no surprise to you that, according to a recent survey conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care® network, less than half (47 percent) of the future family caregivers surveyed said they know their parents' medical histories in case of an emergency. And almost half (49 percent) of the respondents were unable to name any of the medications taken by their parents each day.

That's why the Home Instead Senior Care network has developed the Senior Emergency KitSM information management tool and website to help family caregivers track medications and other important information regarding their senior loved ones' health.

This toolkit includes checklists and worksheets for medications, conditions, allergies, doctors, health advisors and important documents. It provides them with a single place to store their senior loved one's important information so they can easily find it when they (and you) need it most.

If you would like a sample of the toolkit please contact me or visit SeniorEmergencyKit.com to view most of the toolkit materials. We would be delighted to provide this and other resources that can help you help seniors and their loved ones live fuller, healthier lives.

Thank you for all you do.

The Affordable Care Act


Are you familiar with OWL - the Older Women's League? If not, check out their website and plan to attend this important event.

OWL's 2011 Mother’s Day Report:

The Affordable Care Act:
The American Version of Healthcare for All

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

11:30 - 1:00pm

Speakers: Rose Daughety and Lynda Ender

We must protect our mothers and daughters by ensuring that they, and we, have the health care we need. - Margaret Hellie Huyck, Ph.D.

This is an opportunity you don't want to miss!

The Senior Source
3910 Harry Hines Blvd. Dallas, 75219
1 Hour CEU available for Social Workers

Free for members - $5 for non-members

Call 214-823-5700 to reserve your $8 boxed lunch

Monday, June 20, 2011

USC: Active social, spiritual and physical life helps prevent health decline in seniors

USC: Active social, spiritual and physical life helps prevent health decline in seniors

Study shows small day-to-day changes can result in measurable improvements in quality of life

Small, healthy lifestyle changes and involvement in meaningful activities—going beyond just diet and exercise—are critical to healthy aging, according to a new USC study.

Guided by lifestyle advisors, seniors participating in the study made small, sustainable changes in their routines (such as visiting a museum with a friend once a week) that led to measurable gains in quality of life, including lower rates of depression and better reported satisfaction with life.

The study validates the current trend in public health strategies to focus on preventing illness and disability, as opposed to treating issues once they have already begun to negatively impact health, according to lead investigator Florence Clark.

"What is critical is that, as we age, we continue to be engaged in life through a sustainable mix of productive, social, physical and spiritual activities. This goal of prevention and wellness is really a key to health care reform, and results in cost savings to society," said Clark, professor and associate dean of the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, and president of the American Occupational Therapy Association.

"The emphasis now is prevention," she said. "There are non-pharmacologic interventions that work."
The Well Elderly 2 trial was performed between 2004 and 2009, with the write-up appearing in the June 2 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

During six-month periods, licensed occupational therapists assisted more than 200 individuals aged 60 and older to develop sustainably healthy lifestyles and see if they improved the participants' overall quality of life.

"The key to the individualized plans was to make them sustainable," Clark said.

For example, some people like going to the gym to stay physically healthy, but others find the thought of slaving away in a room indoors for three times a week utterly abhorrent—so much so that, no matter what good intentions they have, they will not wind up going. For such individuals, a more effective and longer-lasting strategy to improve physical health may be to instead walk for an hour around their neighborhood in the evenings.

The occupational therapists also provided guidance for using public transportation, getting the participants off of the couch and out into the world.

"You're able to go to a museum, you're able to go to a park… it can open up a whole world of opportunities," Clark said. In one instance, the therapists helped a woman who had taken a nasty fall while boarding a bus to work up enough confidence to ride again. Eventually, she was able to take the bus to go do volunteer work—a fulfilling pastime that she had sorely missed, Clark said.

"Being engaged in a social life has a positive effect on health," she said, "but the public is not sufficiently aware of how key this is to successful aging."

The older adult participants were described as "well" because they were living in the community, not in a skilled nursing facility or other institutional setting.

To determine the results of the trial, quality of life was measured using a variety of indicators, including physical health, mental health, social well-being and life satisfaction. The program participants were compared to a control group that did not receive the intervention.

Though the two groups started out roughly equivalent, the intervention group showed significant improvement in lessening bodily pain and depression while improving vitality, social function, mental health and overall life satisfaction.

Lesser, though still measurable, gains were made in general health and physical abilities.

At the end of the first phase of the trial, the control group was provided with the same treatment that had been given to the intervention group—and made identical progress.

The study findings replicate the outcomes of the influential Well Elderly 1 trial, but extend them to a more ethnically diverse population living in a wide range of community settings, demonstrating the lifestyle program's value for the general public.

The results of the Well Elderly 1 trial, conducted in 1997, were used by the London-and-Manchester-based National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to develop recommendations for British public health policies.

"Although people are living longer, it is important that they also live better. This intervention results in improved quality of life and provides a vehicle for maintaining health as we age," Clark said.

The Well Elderly 2 trial demonstrated that, compared with other interventions, this lifestyle intervention was cost-effective. For every dollar spent, there was a significant enough gain in health outcomes to justify the expenditure, according to Clark.

"The American public needs to know about this," she said. "Making positive changes in how we live each day, and sustaining those changes over the long term, is critical for maintaining independence and healthy aging."

USC: Active social, spiritual and physical life helps prevent health decline in seniors

Free caregiver conference this Friday, June 24

This is a wonderful resource for all caregivers, especially those in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

The Informed & Empowered Caregiver:

Caregiving and Aging Conference of Collin, Dallas and Denton Counties

6th Annual Conference

This conference will provide resources and education for older adults, family members, friends, and others who help them.  

Friday, June 24, 2011

8:00 a.m. Registration & Exhibits

1:45 p.m. Conference ends

Free conference and free CEUs

Complimentary continental breakfast and boxed lunch will be provided

Conference Location:
Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Urban Solutions Center - Pavilion
17360 Coit Road
Dallas, TX
on the border of Dallas and Plano

To register, call 1-800-272-3921, or email caregiver@flash.net

If you need someone to stay with the person you care for, call 1-800-272-3921 and ask about free respite care.

Someone of your choice may be able to stay with your care receiver while you attend the conference.

Breakfast/lunch sponsored by United Healthcare Advantage Plans, Alert Response, and Medic Alert 911.
4 hours/.4 CEUs – social workers, licensed professional counselors.

Family Caregiver Education and Support
PO Box 822551
6051 Davis Boulevard
North Richland Hills, TX 76180-6385

Escape from the hospital bed

June 8, 2011, 10:56 am

Escape From the Hospital Bed


Among the many reasons hospitals can be dangerous to your health, if you’re an old person: all that time spent in bed.

“There’s a growing body of evidence over the past decade of the hazards of prolonged immobility during hospitalization,” Steve Fisher, a rehabilitation specialist at the University of Texas Medical Branch, told me in an interview.

Immobility causes deconditioning, sapping muscle strength and aerobic capacity, in younger patients, too. But they have greater “physiologic reserve,” in doctor-speak, and can rebound more quickly.

With older people, by contrast, “we know that 30 to 60 percent have a decline in activities of daily living while hospitalized,” Dr. Fisher said. Translation: A person develops problems bathing or dressing himself, or walking across a small room, or performing some other function he could before entering the hospital — even if the problem he came in for is successfully treated.

Further translation: The procedure went fine, but the patient can’t walk.

Getting people up and moving can be a crucial part of their recovery. Though hospital workers and families often see this dynamic in action, researchers lacked a way to quantify it, Dr. Fisher said. But his team has recently published work that shows how much difference “ambulation” (more doctor-speak — do these folks have some aversion to words like “walking”?) can make.

The Texas team made use of a newish device called a step activity monitor, a lightweight, waterproof accelerometer. Compared with a conventional pedometer, the accelerometer — which takes measurements at one-minute intervals around the clock — provides much more information on activity, including steps taken.

In the early ambulation study, published recently in The Archives of Internal Medicine, Dr. Fisher and his colleagues strapped accelerometers to the ankles of 162 older patients (average age 77) admitted with acute illnesses, from pneumonia and infections to neurological problems. Their average hospital stay was six days.

Those who increased their walking by 600 steps from the first day to the second had significantly shorter hospital stays, the data showed. They were discharged two days earlier than the others, on average, even after adjusting for how sick they were and how mobile they’d been before hospitalization.

Dr. Fisher pointed out that 600 steps equals only about 12 minutes of slow walking over the course of a day. He cautioned that his sample size was modest, and that despite the study’s controlling for previous health and mobility, the early walkers might have recovered more quickly, rather than the reverse. More research is required, he said (they always say that), but “it’s encouraging to think that small changes can be of broad benefit.”

The way physicians phrased their orders also made a difference. The patients who walked more and went home earlier were more likely to have orders that said “ambulate with assist.” When orders called for “bed rest” or ambulation “as tolerated,” patients were less likely to walk.

A few years back I noticed how quickly an older person can lose physical strength in a hospital — and if you have too, I hope you’ll comment here — a few years back when my father had gallbladder surgery. He was sore the next day but fine. Yet I noticed, as the day passed, that he was starting to wheeze and cough a bit as he lay in bed, and discolored patches were appearing on his elbows, apparently caused by his pushing himself up onto the pillows. The prospect of pneumonia or bedsores — both associated with extended time in bed — started to worry me. The sign on his door advised the staff to help him “ambulate,” but the nurses and aides had so much else to do.

I asked if I could help him ambulate, and the nurses said sure. So we formed a small procession — my father, his walker, his IV pole and me — and patrolled slowly up and down the halls several times a day, trying to go a few doors further each time.

Dr. Fisher, it turns out, recommends that family members take the initiative and ask physicians about getting a physical therapist involved early on and about whether the family is permitted to help the patient walk. They should also be sure, if a patient uses a cane or walker, to bring that device along to the hospital. I don’t know if Dad and I took 600 steps, or whether my anxieties were overblown, but I do know that he went home breathing normally and without pressure ulcers.

One obstacle to a more aggressive approach to mobility: falls. Not only are they a valid concern for hospitalized elders, but since 2008 they are grounds for Medicare to refuse to reimburse a hospital for a patient’s care. That provision has sparked medical debate — not every fall is preventable, after all — but it might lead a nurse or physician to be overly cautious about families helping elderly patients walk.

Dr. Fisher’s next step, he said, was to look into ways to encourage safe ambulation and to test them, perhaps one way to reassure nervous administrators and bookkeepers. In his view, falls can indeed be dangerous for old people, but the consequences of prolonged immobility may be worse.

Paula Span is the author of “When the Time Comes: Families With Aging Parents Share Their Struggles and Solutions.”

Friday, June 17, 2011

Removing limits through technology

When dealing with sensory losses, it can be difficult to find services to help. This group provides help through technology.
Features of the “Removing Limits Through Technology”
Assistive Technology Lab
Ability Connection Texas

Ability Connection Texas has been providing vital care and support to people with disabilities for over 58 years. Today, one in five people have a disability - which is why our services are so important. Whether advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, teaching the letters of the alphabet to a child with autism, or training an adult with a head injury to re-enter the workforce with the use of adaptive technology, ACT is the preeminent organization leading the way for people of all ages with any type of physical or intellectual disability.

For individuals with hearing impairment or who are deaf:

  •  UbiDuo-Real time face-to-face communication for the deaf and hearing.
  • Pocketalker PRO by Williams Sound – sound amplification device
  • AT-216 Digitally Synthesized Wireless Auditory Assistance Kit by Comtek – wireless sound amplification device
  • Leah Gardner, Director of the RLTT program has American Sign Language skills

For individuals with visual impairment:
  • Various hand held magnification devices of varying magnification levels
  • SenseView P430 Portable Magnifier
  • CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) allows magnification up to 50 times of photo and text.
  • MAGic (software program with speech) computer magnification program up to 16 times with screen reader speech output.
  • JAWS (Job Accommodations With Speech) for Windows, screen reader for computer users who have no vision.
  • Dolphin Supervona – portable screen magnification and screen reading software
  • WinZoom – portable screen magnification and screen reading software
  • Keys U See large print keyboard
  • Intel Reader – Transforms printed text to the spoken word (temporary loan until 5/26/11)

For individuals with limited mobility:

  • Adaptive Switch Labs Mouse Emulator evaluation pack – allows user computer access and mouse movement through proximity switches
  • Various switches which can be mounted to accessed by hand, finger, elbow, knee, foot, head, chin, etc. to be used to access computer, AAC device, and/or environmental controls.
  • Bookshare – subscription reading service for individuals who are print impaired. Includes over 60,000 titles including best sellers and textbooks.
  • SofType – on screen keyboard with work prediction and can be used with a switch or hands free access system.
  • Tracker – hands free access system uses a camera on the monitor and a Teflon dot on the user to guide the pointer on screen.
  • HeadMouse – hands free access system uses a camera mounted on the monitor and a Teflon dot on the user to guide the pointer on the screen.
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking – continuous speech recognition program allows the user to speak into a microphone to dictate and navigate the computer hands free.
  • Mac Speech – continuous speech recognition program allows the user of an Apple Mac computer to speak into a microphone to dictate and navigate the computer.
  • Word Q & Speak Q – software for reading, writing, and learning with speech recognition.
  • Cyberlink hardware and Brainfingers software – uses facial movements and brainwaves for a person to access a computer totally hands free.
  • Evoluent Vertical Mouse – ergonomic mouse
  • MagicTouch touch screen monitor – allows the user to use their finger, instead of a mouse, to access the computer.
  • Joystick Roller II – mouse alternative similar to the joystick used to control a power wheelchair. Can change to T-bar or tennis ball for someone with contractures.
  • Kensington Programmable Trackball – stationary mouse alternative for persons with limited mobility.
  • REACH On-Screen Keyboard with word prediction and speech output
  • Scan Buddy – allows the user to perform computer operation using switch scanning

For individuals with literacy limitations or cognitive limitations:
  • Discovery Desktop – Customizable Windows desktop
  • WYNN – Literacy Support program
  • Intellikeys keyboard – alternative keyboard which meets needs of individuals with physical, visual, and cognitive challenges
  • Intellitools Classroom Suite – Pre-authored overlays and curriculum to help a wide range of learners using Intellikeys keyboard
  • MagicTouch touch screed computer monitor – allows the user to use direct select (finger) instead of a mouse to access the computer.
  • Reading Pen – scan words the reader is unfamiliar with to hear the word, get definition, and translations.

For individuals who are non-verbal – Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Devices:
  • iPad with Proloquo2go
  • iPad with Sat It Sam
  • Conversa from Words + (temporary loan through 5/26/11)
  • Prentke Romich products
  • Vanguard
  • Springboard
  • Dynavox Products
  • DV4
  • Minimo
  • Dynawrite
  • Dynwrite V Max
  • Dynavox V Max w/Eye Max
  • MT4
  • Erica 2
  • Tango
  • Assistive Technology, Inc.
  • Link
  • Enabling Devices
  • Cheap Talk 4 Communicator

Ability Connection Texas is a provider for DARS. Texas Workforce Commission has provided Ability Connection Texas with a waiver for training. Please call for information regarding training for individuals with ALL types of disabilities.


Call to schedule a FREE hands-on demonstration!
Leah Gardner
Director of ELTT Program
Ability Connection Texas, 8802 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, TX 75235
Phone # 214-247-4539