Published 2012-10-22 (Rev. 2013-06-04) -- Review of Panther Technology a company dedicated to combining advancements in design technology user interface and Universal Design by providing technological access for everyone.
Author: Wendy Taormina-Weiss
Quote: "Richard has been a tireless voice for change to the way society perceives and interacts with people with disabilities."
Panther Technology is dedicated to combining advancements in design, technology, user interface and Universal Design with the goal of creating new avenues of technological access for everyone. The applications created by Panther are bringing innovation and excitement to everything from the iPad to keyboards for one-finger typing and development of games everyone can share despite age. Panther is bringing new thought concerning access to a broad range of people.
The company is particularly focused on the provision of opportunities for people with disabilities. Richard Ellenson, who is well known in the world of Assistive Technology, started Panther. The work Richard has accomplished has helped many people with disabilities to reach their potential, as well as assist the world at large to increase its understanding of disabilities by promoting a spirit of inclusion, innovation, and aspiration across a number of diverse environments. Richard states, "In order to achieve one's full potential, you need to have others be able to see it. Too often individuals with disabilities are underestimated because their abilities are not apparent to others. Once people can share experience better, relationships change. That is what we focused on when we created our foundational Apps."
Richard began his career in advertising through creation of high-profile work for clients such as Remy Martin, American Express and HBO. One of his lines, 'It's Not TV. It's HBO.' Is still one of the industry's most enduring ones.
The year 1997 found Richard's son being born with Cerebral Palsy and he started thinking about the issues people with Cerebral Palsy face. By 2004, Richard had founded, 'Blink Twice,' and the company's Speech Generating Device the, 'Tango,' helped to redefine how people without speech could communicate with others. Richard and his son Thomas were honored as 2006 Persons of the Year by ABC World News Tonight for their work, which has also been covered through media sources including CBS and Fox News, as well as CNBC and many different newspapers and magazine publications.
Richard has been a tireless voice for change to the way society perceives and interacts with people with disabilities. His efforts include his son and children with disabilities in the New York City Public School System and was a cover story in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Richard's efforts include service on the Boards of the Center of Disabilities at California State University at Northridge, the United States Society for Alternative and Augmentative Communication, as well as the Assistive Technology Industry Association. At this time, he is serving on the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Health's National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders.
The year 2010 found Richard taking a sabbatical to concentrate on the more immediate needs of improving his son's education within New York's school system. He spent one day each week in class with his son, not only to support him, but to gain a more detailed understanding of the systemic challenges faced by all students and people with disabilities. Panther Technology is the result of the time Richard spent in school with his son, as well as the many incredible contributions of professionals, teachers, friends, associates, and family.
Panther Technology has made note of the fact that the keyboard was designed for people who type with ten fingers on a typewriter at some point during the 1800's. The company thought it might be time for an overhaul of the keyboard and Panther Writer is designed for the typing people do today, on a screen, often with fewer fingers. Panther Writer was especially designed to address the needs of people who experience complex motor issues. Using this product you can discover a half-dozen ways to begin reaching your potential as a writer. Panther Writer includes:
- Powerful word prediction
- Six innovative keyboards
- Save or email documents
- Complete edit capabilities
- Each app can change its skin
- Change type colors for visual issues
- Designed to address motor challenges
- Gorgeous and intuitive user experience
- "Hold Times" allow deep customization
Everyone types differently and the keyboard used today does not necessarily suit us all. Panther asked, 'Why is the Q key that is used so rarely the same size as the E key that is used very often' The company came up with wonderful answers to this question depending upon the person.
Word prediction is a useful thing because not everyone can type as fast as they are able to think. Many keyboard, to include the one on the iPhone, help out by predicting words. What word prediction means is people write and spell faster and better. All of the accessible keyboard layouts by Panther have a word prediction interface designed for the specific keyboard.
Everyone is aware of how important editing is to the process of writing. Panther Technology has made exceptional efforts to create different and appropriate editing layouts for each of their keyboards. The idea is incredibly powerful and can result in everything from increased motivation to improved writing.
Panther's Math Paper HD
The idea you want to express is as simple as putting a pencil on paper with Panther's Math Paper HD. The company integrated the principle of Universal Design with a stylish interface to allow data entry that is both quick and simple into an organized piece of digital paper. Math Paper HD offers people the foundations to learn everything from simple arithmetic to the ability to perform complicated equations. It is a practical solution that gives people the ability to cultivate the fundamentals of learning as they use the potential of the iPad. Using this incredible product you can do math without having to hold a pencil. For people who experience challenges related to motor control, Panther has solved the hardest math problem of them all.
Math Paper HD lets people do math equations as simple as 1+1=2. It also has incredibly intuitive tools that allow people to do carry functions for any operation, do long division, or create fractions. For people with motor control disabilities, Math Paper HD lets you move the cursor from the bottom of the iPad. What this means to everyone is, 'math is < difficult that it was before.'
Unlike other applications, Math Paper HD does not simply present people with problems. Instead, it gives you a way to approach the problems you want to do, like the one's in textbooks. The interface has been completely thought through, is efficient, and is an intuitive way to work with fractions. It has an interface that is accessible and intuitive.
Using this program you have everything you need to do high-level algebra. Whether you move a finger around a page or want the support of the program's baseline access - the grid system allows amazing organization. Math Paper HD even has an Advanced Math folder you can use to achieve your personal learning goals.
With this program you can get to the, 'root,' of your program as well. Math Paper HD has a variety of function and symbol keys that give you the ability to diagram even the most advanced calculations. The program's, 'sum,' button underlines the problem you are working with and its, 'square root,' button encircles radicals.
When you are working you can keep track of the work you have accomplished. The program has an easy-to-maneuver file management system that gives it the capability to file each piece of, 'paper,' or rapidly convert the work you have done to a PDF file. You can also send out your work as an email.
Math Paper HD was built for access, designed especially to help people who experience forms of motor disabilities to do math. What this means is you will find all kinds of innovative supports built into it such as hold times that help to avoid accidental hits, or folders that place alternative navigation controls at the bottom of the screen. The interface itself is absolutely gorgeous.
The Panther Reader has great stories that are written to be entertaining to both children and adults while providing a foundation for literacy. The stories are written by noted Literacy Specialist Dr. Caroline Musselwhite. Every story also has a, 'fill in the blank,' comprehension exercise that is based on Universal Design. Even children who do not have strong motor coordination or the ability to vocalize can demonstrate what they know using this application. At the end of each of the stories, the readers have the option to see the text with key words dropped out, and then touch buttons to fill the words in. What this means is a clear picture of reader comprehension.
The Panther Inclusion Toolkit
The path to true inclusion in the classroom is often times filled with frustration. How can a child do math if they do not have the ability to hold a pencil, for example? How can they demonstrate their reading comprehension if they experience a speech or processing disorder? The applications through Panther Technology are created with the goal of helping people to work together to reach a better place. All of the company's applications are built around the principles of Universal Design to foster inclusion in education via access instead of adaptation. What this means is more time teaching instead of adapting. Most of all, it means more independence for students themselves.
The applications through Panther Technology are based upon Universal Design for Learning with a focus on people who experience motor challenges. Each of the applications features major innovations related to access. A broad variety of people can take advantage of the advances available through the applications and the materials available to them through classrooms.
Panther applications are based on the premise that when it takes too much time for a person to learn something, adoption is at risk. Each of the interfaces the company has created is intuitive. What this means is students will have the ability to figure out how to use them. Teachers will understand how to integrate the applications and other staff members will know how to support them.
The applications are made for sharing and integrate easily into classrooms. Students have the ability to accomplish all of their work right on their iPad and save it in intuitively designed folders. What this means is true ownership of their work. The applications also give students and teachers the ability to email documents back and forth to each other, either as working documents, or as PDF files.
The, 'tone,' of a student's learning environment many times sets the scene for everything else that is to come. Panther has created applications with the ability to change their skins. Students can choose everything from the seriously high-tech look of graphite to the energy of electric blue, or even the youthfulness of pink bubble gum color skins.
Panther and People Autism
The Universal Design Principles in every Panther product provides a wonderful framework for working with people with Autism. All of Panther's applications have controls that are easily understood, easy to access, and structured with consistency. What this means is there will be familiarity for not only people with Autism, but for everyone who provides support for them as well such as parents, teachers, or therapists. The innovative customizations in Panther products add still another level to the experience.
Panther Connect is the ultimate, customized interface for accessing your computer. You can switch between five different and innovative trackpad modes that are specifically designed for diverse individuals who have difficulties using common track-pads, trackballs, or computer mice. Each mode has powerful commands to use for navigating websites, switching between documents, and improving editing.
Everyone has individual abilities. Panther has created different modes for accessing a computer. People have the ability to explore dozens of exciting new ways to accomplish everything from moving a mouse cursor to navigating menus to editing text. For example, it may be difficult for a person to edit text when they do not have the ability to move a mouse cursor. Panther's innovative 2-axis mode compensates for complex motor patterns by restricting cursor movements to the things it knows a person wants, making it a better way to work.
Panther Connect offers people comprehensive controls that allow those with motor access issues the ability to navigate menus efficiently. With a single touch people can use combinations of closely grouped arrows and commands. In fact - Panther Connect provides people with the ability to use all major mouse controls, making them accessible with simple taps on the screen.
Panther Pad turns your iPad into a powerful trackpad to use with your computer. It has five innovative modes you can use to access your computer in ways that were not previously possible. Each of the modes includes powerful commands to use for navigating websites, launching and switching between programs and documents, and improving text editing. For people with disabilities, Panther Pad helps to truly unleash a computer. With Panther Pad you can:
- Open any document
- Change the cursor speed
- Connect to any computer
- Use five innovative modes
- Change the skin of each app
- Control how the cursor moves
- Open worlds of computing power
- Address complex motor challenges
- Have a gorgeous and intuitive user experience
Panther Pad has five different modes to meet your specific needs. The modes include Basic Mode, 2-Axis, Mini Track, Split Speed, and Launch any Application Mode. What follows are descriptions of these modes.
Basic Mode: The Basic Mode of Panther Connect provides a full surface that allows people to navigate their computer from their iPad. It also provides a diverse number of setting to increase a person's access, from ways to avoid accidental hits with hold times, to one button access to launch applications and edit text.
2-Axis Mode: Using 2-Axis Mode you can control a computer even if you experience limited motor control. By restricting mouse movement to only verticals or horizontals it take a bit longer to get somewhere. A person can accurately get to exactly where they want to. Panther's 4-Axis Mode provides even greater refinement by adding two more diagonal planes.
Mini Track Mode: Mini Track Mode provides a small trackpad surface for people who experience difficulties with navigating larger areas of Panther Connect. Even with minimal movement, people still achieve maximum access. The mode also moves buttons closer to the control area for fast access to Panther Connect's powerful features.
Split Speed Mode: Panther's incredibly innovative Split Screen Mode is perfect for those who have trouble with transitioning between fast and fine cursor movements - the mode does it for them. A person can move the cursor quickly by starting movement on the, 'quick,' side of their trackpad. After the cursor gets close to where the person wants it to be, they can achieve slower and finer speed by starting a movement on the right side.
Launch any Application Mode: Panther Connect offers ways for people to navigate menus, tab between fields, isolate specific parts of their computer screen, or perform complex mouse clicks. What this means is that even if a particular application or web site is not accessible, Panther Connect will most likely give a person the ability to do it anyway. For people who experience motor disabilities, the Panther Pad unleashes the Internet experience.
Panther's Accessible Calculator
Panther Technology noticed that while there are dozens of calculator applications available, none of them have been thought through Universal Design. The Panther calculator puts all the numbers and operands at the bottom of the calculator so a person can reach them more easily. The buttons are also easier to understand because they are in the order numbers usually go in.
The calculator offers something very new and unique. It displays math problems the way you think them. It also puts them front and center on the screen. The calculator is wonderful for simple math, and even better when you get into larger and longer equations.
People with motor disabilities often have difficulties with keystroke combinations, The Panther calculator lets people copy their results simply by touching an icon. What this means is a person can perform the calculations they want to and then export their answers into any other text-based problem. The calculator was designed specifically to support people with motor challenges. It has hold times that can help to avoid accidental hits. The font color can be soft blue or white, and the sounds can be turned off entirely.
All of Panther Technology's applications are designed to be a part of a comprehensive approach to accomplishment, success, and to unleash a person's potential. Each of the company's applications is created with the goal of maximizing a specific ability. Panther has relentlessly pursued an intuitive and consistent interface that allows a person to also make the most of using the applications together. There are a number of customizations you can use throughout Panther's applications to make them work the best for you specifically.