I get questions many times about available apps for people who have vision loss. I thought I’d write a brief description of 5 apps that have great features for people who are blind or visually impaired.

  1. LookTel Money Reader – This app uses the camera on the back of the phone/tablet and then says out loud along with large print on the screen what nomination the bill is. This allows easy money identification at home or while out.
  2. Tap Tap See – This app also uses the camera to take a picture of an object the person needs to identify. Using an internet search Tap Tap See will give an audio description of the item.
  3. Be My Eyes – Be My Eyes is similar to Tap Tap See, it uses the camera but you connect to a live person. This person is a volunteer so they do not have any training with working with people with vision loss. The person with the vision loss uses their camera to show what item they need identified or read and the volunteer assists them.
  4. KNFB Reader – While this app is not free like the others it has a purpose most would find priceless. This app converts text to speech and/or Braille for users. It can read documents long and short by taking a picture using the camera on the phone/tablet and using ocular character recognition (OCR) can read the document out loud.
  5. Seeing AI – This is one of my favorite apps. Seeing AI has multiple purposes again using the phone/tablet’s camera. This app can identify text such as KNFB Reader using OCR for short and longer text. And unlike any other OCR it is able to read some handwriting! It can also identify money like the LookTel Money Reader. It has a bar code reader to give product description and read labels. It can also give a description of people and the scene/surroundings indoors.

These apps are not a one size fits all or needed for everyone but a great tool for a person’s tool kit. If you have questions on how to download or anything else please contact Mandy Smith at (785)528-3105.


Assistive Technology Programs Relocated

RCIL served as the Northeast Kansas access site for the Assistive Technology for Kansans (ATK), the Kansas Equipment Exchange (KEE), and more recently the Telecommunications Access Program (TAP) for the past nine years.  These programs are still available, but the staff, equipment, and services have moved to a different agency within Topeka.  The Topeka Independent Living Resource Center is the new host for these programs effective January 1, 2020.

If you are interested in learning more about these programs, or if you were working with an Assistive Technology Specialist, they can now be reached at 785.233.4572.

RCIL serves as the Northeast Kansas access site for the Kansas Equipment Exchange (KEE) program and is holding equipment drives this month!  Can YOU help?  Do you have unneeded equipment taking up space?

Did you know that your lightly used durable medical equipment can help a Kansan with a disability who needs assistive technology, but can’t afford it?  The KEE reuse program accepts donated equipment that can be refurbished to high quality standards and then given, free of charge, to Kansans with disabilities and health conditions who need them.

KEE accepts donations such as:  Manual & Powered wheelchairs, scooters & power operated vehicles, communication devices, home care / hospital beds, patient lifts, shower chairs, standers & gait trainers, bi-pap / c-pap machines, and walkers with seats & handbrakes.

KEE Drive Flyer – Ottawa
Ottawa: The Don Woodward Community Center, 517 E. 3rd St. from 10 am – 3 pm on October 22, 2018

KEE Drive Flyer – Hiawatha
Hiawatha:  The Area Agency on Aging, 1803 Oregon from 10 am – 3 pm on October 30, 2018

KEE Drive Flyer – Osage City
Osage City:  RCIL office, 1137 Laing St. from 8 am – 4 pm on October 31, 2018

KEE Drive Flyer – Topeka
Topeka:  RCIL office, 1507 SW 21st St. Suite 203 from 8 am – 4 pm on October 31, 2018

Call for more information or to arrange pick up:  785-267-1717 or 785-528-3105

Technology, you have to love it!  Below is a link to a YouTube video from Microsoft about their new Seeing AI (artificial intelligence) app and glasses.  I am truly amazed at the information this is able to give those without sight.  The doors it could open are unlimited!

Seeing AI Video

I am starting a series of blogs that will feature low tech assistive technology devices/tools.   Each blog will have a picture of the device, how it works, and how it could be beneficial to individuals with disabilities.  RCIL does NOT sell items nor earn any profit off of any item.  These blogs are simply informational to allow individuals to know what tools are available.

First up is the “Safe Slice”.

Safe Slice1The Safe Slice is a tool you wear on your index finger and thumb to hold an item you are cutting.  The Safe Slice acts as a shield to protect your fingers as you get closer to them with the knife.

Safe Slice2

The Safe Slice could be beneficial to individuals with vision loss (or anyone for that matter) allowing a guard between the person’s fingers and the knife.



The Resource Center for Independent Living Inc. is seeking donations of new or gently used durable medical equipment to be refurbished and given to Kansans with disabilities or health conditions through Kansas Equipment Exchange, a statewide program operated by Assistive Technology for Kansans.

Types of equipment being sought include manual and powered wheelchairs, communication devices, hospital beds, bariatric equipment, gait trainers, chargers for power devices, specialized car seats, feeding pumps, aluminum entry ramps and other items.

Donations can be dropped off next week between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at Resource Center for Independent Living Inc., 1507 S.W. 21st St., suite 203.

If unable to bring the equipment to the office, individuals can contact the Kansas Equipment Exchange at (800) 526-3648 and arrange for pick-up. Likewise, those in need of equipment to stay in their home or for health reasons can contact the same number to request assistance



Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy will be hosting its annual fundraising garage sale/bake sale on May 30th.  The fundraiser Garage Sale/Bake Sale will be from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm in the KYEA parking lot (517 SW 37th St., Topeka).

RCIL will also be holding a Kansas Equipment Exchange (KEE) equipment drive that day. KEE is designed to move medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, scooters, hospital beds, etc., that is not being used, to Kansans who need the devices. The program accepts donated equipment, cleans and repairs it if necessary, and then places that equipment with individuals who need it.

How can you help? You can donate items for the garage sale including: decorative items, kitchen ware, used DVDs & CDs, small pieces of furniture, small working appliances, books, blankets, sheets, toys in working condition, etc. please no clothing or shoes. These items need to be delivered to KYEA by Friday May 22nd.  No garage sale items you say?  That’s okay, bake something! KYEA will be excepting baked items on May 28th and 29th.  Remember all funds raised benefit Kansas Youth with disabilities! 

So remember, May 30th bring your durable medical equipment to donate to other Kansans in need and buy some items at KYEA’s garage sale to help empower Kansas youth with disabilities!

ATK Expo

Please keep September 12-14 open to join the Assistive Technology (AT) Expo at the Topeka Expo Center.  More than 20 AT sessions will be given ranging from independent living, community, employment, education and recreation.  There will also be around 200 booths set up in the Expo hall.  The AT Expo is free to the public!  The AT Expo is put on by Assistive Technology for Kansans (ATK)

Below is a link for more information on the AT Expo.


Assistive Technology for Kansans, RCIL and Freedom Scientific are hosting Vision Awareness Days where individuals can learn more about living with vision loss.  The event will be held on February 6th from 10:00am-4:00pm at the Topeka Public Library Aud. 101 B. This event will include free learning sessions, free lunch and hands-on demonstrations.  The learning sessions will talk about different solutions to help individuals regain their independence while living with a vision loss.

All participants will also be entered into a drawing for a free Ruby handheld video magnifier.  Those who should attend include: persons with vision loss, family members, occupational therapists, instructors and trainers, seniors and senior center staff and vision support groups.

Space is limited so please register at (800) 336-5658 or by email at seminars@freedomscientific.com




I am so pleased to be here at the Kansas Infinitec Coalition Outstanding Student Technology Awards luncheon. This award luncheon is to honor students who are using assistive technology to better their learning experiences. This luncheon is a “Celebration to the power of technology that these students are using” Paul Dulle, President and CEO UCPGC/Infinite said.

The students who are receiving awards include:

Sydney Axelson, Stockton USD 271 who uses the iPad, iPhone, communication devices, board maker, news to use, and Microsoft Office.  Sydney is active with Special Olympics and can give her dog voice commands with her communication device.

Roy Blosser, Goessel USD 411 who uses a Braille writer, white cane, and many talking devices.  His “favorite piece of technology is my old fashion record player.” Roy is a major Elvis Presley fan.

Kassidy Kent, El Dorado USD 490 who uses the iPad with many apps including a hear loss simulator app along with a video phone. Kassidy enjoys sports and cheer leading.

Dalton Morris, Burlingame USD 454 who uses the iPad with Dragon, digital whiteboard, Cloud. Dalton has become a role model to students and teacher on how to use technology. Dalton enjoys the outdoors including hunting and four-wheelers.

Darby Reimer, Garden City USD 457 who uses a white cane, Braille writer, electronic note taker, and tactual books. Darby loves her stuff animals and her family.

Garrett Turner, Oskloosa USD 341 who uses a white cane, Braille writer, Apex note taker, computer, Braille embossed, screen reader, abacus, Trekker Breeze – talking GPS. Garrett loves technology and playing with his sister, friends and pets.

Patrick Twiss, Garden City USD 457 who uses a live scribe pen, lap top, iPad and mobility devices. Patrick likes to work out at the YMCA and wants to attend a 4-year university to get a degree in web design.

Shawn Voss, Stockton USD 271 who uses iPod, video modeling, board maker, Microsoft Excel.  Shawn loves sports and 80s music.  Shawn used his iPod to play his thank you speech.

Jennifer Barnhart, Director of Special Education for USD 501 was also honored as the annual Outstanding Professional.

These students with the use of assistive technology are not only able to be in the classroom with their peers but also learn so much more.  A special thank you to their teachers, assistive technology specialists, para-educators, and parents of these fabulous students with disabilities.