Monday, October 8, 2018

Virtual Capture: BNSF Metra Train Passing Through Communities

Conducted a random experiment on with an iPhone with Googlemaps: Captured one of my Westbound Metra commutes from Chicago Union Station to the Rte-59/Aurora station by using live Googlemaps.  By using Googlemaps on my iPhone, it was an interesting and fun way to identify landmarks / communities that the express commuter train passes through going ~60 mph.

YouTube Link
** You can pause/forward/rewind the video if you want to study certain areas in depth.

Observations and takeaways from the experiment
  • Captured roughly 37 minutes of Googlemaps usage
  • The train route is approximately 30 miles in length
  • Roughly equal to 730 MB of iPhone video
  • Used iMovie (Mac) to speed up and playback the video to 8X the normal speed to compress it down to roughly 3 minutes long vs the 37 minutes of actual video time (includes the removal/editing out time spent at 2 stops and other screen distractions).  
  • Playing back the video at 20X was just too fast to really grasp/read nearby locations and landmarks.
  • Export of the video in 720p resulted in a file size of 2.15 GB.
  • The Googlemaps ‘My Location’ blue dot roughly shows you the path you are traveling. Per Google, accuracy of the location is dependent on several factors - how far you are from a cellular tower, if there is anything blocking your signals and reception.  Thus the blue location dot can at times appear to veer off track or jumpy.  Either way this still provides a good representation of paths being traveled.

  • While there are other apps and ways to capture your travel routes, this was just an experiment to see what it would look like with Googlemaps.  
  • This could be a good way to track your walk, if you go jogging or biking.  Though I advise against using mobile devices while driving unless you are a passenger.
  • Experimenting with technology and software is a fun way to find out what works, which can give you ideas for future projects for home or work!

For any questions, feedback, or comments feel free to email me at: or leave a comment.

Technology Needs for Deaf in Apartments and Retirement Centers

by Donald Moore, October 2018

This is a shorter version of of a posting I did for the Illinois Association of the Deaf's website, which focuses mainly on the human and technology needs for deaf consumers in apartments and retirement centers.  If you want to read the full version, read “Apartments and Retirement Centers for the Deaf” article on IAD’s website.

In 2017, I had the opportunity to visit “Martha’s Vineyard Place”, which is a Deaf Apartment complex, in Dallas, Texas during a side excursion while on a combined business/personal trip.  The complex is entirely new and is open for residents.  See below flyer and contact the apartment management directly for any residency questions. 

Current and Future Living Arrangements
While many deaf are currently living in apartments, condos/town-homes and single family homes - have not yet considered what type of living arrangements may be desired or needed in the future.  This can be challenging considering the social and communication needs of deaf residents when approaching retirement or requiring senior and assistive care. 

Some places only offer housing for those requiring low-income assistance.  Oftentimes, availability is limited and there can be long waiting lists.  It is a possible that with the large number of “baby boomers” (1946-1964), and the “Rubella Bulge” (1960’s) entering their senior years - that availability will become limited. 

Always check on availability in advance and do not assume there is space immediately ready.

Very few places offer full accommodations for deaf residents.  Some accommodations may be non-existent or minimal.  While everyone’s accommodative needs may be different, the need for social interaction with others is equally important.  The need for on-going human and social interaction is one of the basic needs as identified within Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Thus this is where the value of deaf designed centers is important.  Especially within the Physiological needs as shown in Maslow's Hierarchy of needs chart (see below).  Again there is a very small subset of communities that offer full inclusion for deaf residents.

What is Full Inclusion for Deaf?
Staff that can sign and communicate well with residents, the availability of hearing assistive devices for entry gates/doors, fire and security alert systems.  As well as communication systems such as the availability of video phones/conferencing, and the wide-availability of high-speed Internet and WI-FI access for two-way video (i.e. FaceTime, Skype and VRS/VRI), and email.  Not only that, the residency of other residents with similar communication needs (signing in ASL) allows others to fully participate in conversations, social and gaming activities.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs 

Conduct the appropriate research and follow up will help you determine availability and the match for your needs.

Donald Moore can be reached at for any questions, feedback or comments.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Virtual Teams - Technologies in the Work Place for Deaf/HOH Professionals

I recently read “A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams", by Yael Zofi.

This book provides insights, tips, and what is expected when working with virtual teams.  Suggested read for anyone who works remotely and/or with split in-office and remote employees.  While virtual team are not entirely new, they have become more commonplace over the past decade. As Forbes magazine pointed out in 2013, today approximately 30 million workers telecommute at least one day a week from their homes (1). 

On the flip side, one thing not often mentioned in business books such as this one: many of the same remote / tele-worker / video conferencing concepts and technologies can also be applied to deaf/hoh workers.  In the past 5 to 7 years, video relay services (like video conferencing), on-line and wireless/mobile technologies (email/instant messaging), and live-captioning have become more widely available for usage in the workplace.  

These are valuable tools that can be used by deaf/hoh professionals to help level the playing field with communication, provide equal access to employment and career advancement opportunities.  Oftentimes, accommodation costs are minimal and employees usually know what works for them.  I encourage managers, human resources / talent officers to reach out and learn about such available tools and services for employees. In many cases, these technologies can be quickly implemented and put to use.

I plan additional blogs on these topics to expand awareness of accessibility tools in the workplace, along with other relevant employment and Economic topics.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Revised Recommendations: Web Contact Form Design for W3C

In 2001 I recommended to the W3C Accessibility Consortium to suggest including additional fields on web contact forms to help facilitate communication with deaf/hoh consumers. This recommendation was eventually published in a book - refer to this link for more information.

Since 2001, new technologies and ways of contacting and interacting with professionals and consumers have greatly changed, thus the original form design recommendation is due for an update.

While the need to update the form has been floating in the background for sometime, I recently received an email from a Web Site Manager from a Government web site in the Washington, D.C. area asking if the recommendations are still relevant and/or should be updated - a sign that the recommendation needs to be updated.

Hence the reason for this blog entry:
I have updated the suggested web contact form design, and would like input on the new form design, which contains updated ways on one can be contacted.

The redesigned form is available for your review and comments at:

The most recent form changes are
  • Removed Pager number and pin fields as numeric based pagers are nearly extinct and not as user friendly,
  • Greater emphasis on wireless / mobile device email addresses,
  • The inclusion of Videophone numbers,
  • Fax and TTY options should remain on the form for those older, or not yet utilizing modern communication mediums such as wireless/mobile devices and VP (video phones) such as the Sorenson VP-200, Purple P3, and ZVRS Z4.

    If you have any comments, feedback and/or other suggestions, feel free to send me an email at mooredlm at

    After I receive a reasonable number of replies and comments, I will update the web form design recommendations, and re-submit to the W3C for their consideration.

    On the flip-side, if you are involved in web development, design, communications or printed media for your organization/company, take a few moments to consider bringing up similar accessibility recommendations for your contact / help desk web forms.

    I look forward to your feedback, suggestions and comments.


    - Donald
    Prosumertech Blog
  • Monday, August 2, 2010

    Is On-Line Graduate School for You?

    Is on-line graduate school for you?

    On-line grad school can be an optimal post-grad education option to consider if you are deaf or hard of hearing.

    Today with the wide-availability of high-speed Internet connections, attending classes remotely (on-line) has become a reality. There are a number of reasons why taking classes on-line may make sense. In fact, online classes provide a number of advantages for deaf/hoh students that helps to break down communication barriers, which are discussed more in detail throughout this blog entry.

    While its true that taking classes on-line removes the physical and non-verbal communications with classmates and professors; on-line classes are often viable for those who work-full time, travel frequently, and/or are in a location that makes getting to / from class difficult. Which is often the case for executives, senior level employees or out of state students.

    This blog entry draws on my current experience as an MBA student enrolled on-line with the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) []. At the present I am pursing a MBA while being employed full-time, and expect to complete the program in March 2011.

    Online Class Enrollment

    After about six months of research, deliberations and meetings with several MBA programs, I considered several programs on-line, downtown Chicago, and within the surrounding suburbs. In the end, I opted for an on-line MBA program which best suits my schedules and flexibility best.

    Just because a class is on-line, it does not mean its easier. Be prepared to spend some time on-line interacting with the instructor and classmates via email, within the on-line classroom using instant messaging, chat, discussion threads and private folders (tools may depend on the web portal offered), as well as conducting research online. You may need to work with virtual teams by using online tools. With virtual teams, you need to take into account everyones strengths, interests, background, skills, and even time-zones when working on class assignments and team projects. When not working with teams, you have individual assignments and papers to complete and submit online.
    Every online program has a different format for online assignments - review the program requirements, class interaction and teaching methods.

    On occasion, there may be times when you need to participate in audio conference: the professor or a guest speaker may give a presentation on-line. If you are deaf/hoh, you can participate by using video relay services. Read an earlier blog entry that describes how you can incorporate the use of relay and videophones to watch presentations on-line:

    At times, you may have to work with your professor/school to ensure that they are able to get transcripts for any audio / mp3 files and videos used in the course. This can be a learning experience for the professor and yourself. It is equally important to ask in advance before enrolling to find out if the school/program will assist with such requests. At times, getting transcripts of past conferences, podcasts or MP3 files was one of my pain points. Some instructors are able to respond quickly by getting the transcripts from their sources (they usually ask the course material provider or vendor). At other times, the school may have to contract out to get transcription services - this is something you should not have to pay for.

    Undergraduate Programs

    For some, enrolling online with undergrad programs may meet their needs. Yet, living on campus offers a whole different set of experiences by interacting and being around people you know every day. The decision to attend classes in person or on-line largely depends on your needs and interests.

    Juggling School Part-time and Working Full-time
    Juggling work and school can be challenging if you have family of your own and travel at times. One thing I’ve found is that it helps to do a little course work each day (often 7 days a week), and read during my train commutes. By reading during my commutes, I can conduct emails/chat, writing, and web research when I get home. Again, by doing a little work each day, it all adds up in the end without being in a rush. On a couple of occasions, I took the day off from work to focus on school work with out the distractions of the office. Also by working full-time, you can apply what you have learned to help make improvements and changes for your organization.

    Be advised that in most cases you may need to have the full MS-Office suite for your course work. If you are a student, sometimes your school is able to offer significant discounts for the required software. If not, once enrolled, you can visit, and obtain MS-Office for a good discount. It is important to check in advance for software requirements for your school/program. Having a laptop for coursework is also beneficial, which give you the ability to be mobile, go to quiet places to do your work - or even work during your commutes.

    Yes, graduate school is expensive, and can cost as much as a new BMW or more. If your employer offers tuition assistance, be sure to apply/inquire about it in advance - even if they only pay up to a certain amount.

    One possible employer rule to watch out for is that if your employer pays for the tuition, once you complete a program, you may have to wait a year before you work elsewhere, or you will have to reimburse them for the entire program. If they/you transfer within the organization, it shouldn't be a problem. Check with your organization on their tuition reimbursement rules, and the tax-ability of your tuition assistance. If no employer assistance is offered, be sure to check out financing / payment options with the institution before enrolling.

    While this topic may sound trivial, its also important to have regular access to high-speed Internet DSL / broadband services. Also be prepared to work at other locations away from home to accommodate your travel needs, class/teammate schedules (and time zones). You may want to identify in advance of alternate locations where wi-fi services are available in areas you frequent or travel to. Places such as public libraries, McDonald's, Starbucks, and Panera Bread offer free Internet access. Also be prepared write/reply to respond to timely emails on your smartphone (Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, Android, Palm etc). Be sure to keep your addresses up to date in both your laptop and smartphone address books.

    Future Career Opportunities
    Many working professionals choose to enroll into graduate school to seek career changes, get into management, learn how to harness new business ideas and technologies. It is often said that you will always be learning during your life time. Given the time and expense, enrolling into graduate school requires serious considerations and commitments.

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    ABC News Story about Video Phones in the Workplace

    ABC News story about the use of video phones at work, which I give a brief demo. The web link has been posted [Link].