CogLink E-Mail for People with Intellectual Disabilities: A Review

Coglink is e-mail software designed for use by people with intellectual disabilities.  This is a review of it.

Costs

I purchased CogLink for $49.   At the time of this writing, this is a one-time cost. There are no continuing subscription fees.  This is surprising given that a great feature of this product is toll-free, live technical support from 9 AM – 5 PM (PST).  My understanding from a conversation I had with a CogLink staff member is that the project is currently grant-funded.  This helps explain why the live technical support does not have to be funded by subscription costs.

Management

Coglink is intended to be managed by a “Helper” who installs it and provides at least some initial help through its training and use.  Helpers may log-in to a Web site to enable and to disable CogLink’s advanced features, and to set up the people, called “Buddies”, with whom its user will communicate by e-mail.  Statistics are presented on the last time the e-mail software was used and the last time an e-mail message was sent.  There is an option to receive monthly usage reports.

Interface

Coglink’s interface is clean and simple.  A text instruction always appears at the top and a list of “buddies” is always on the left.  Contextually-relevant buttons are located at the bottom. The opening screen instructs the user to “Click a name to read and send mail”.

CogLink paneled interface. List of buddies on left, instructions at top.

A click presents the user with the same simple interface, but with a message text composition box on the right.

CogLink paneled screen. Buddies listed on left, text-compose box on right.

As the user types a word, a menu box of possible words appears.  The user can choose one, which is then entered into the message.  This word-prediction feature can be disabled.  A button at the bottom will speak aloud the message text at any point.  When done, the user can simply click the “Send” button or the “Cancel” button.

Conclusion

I believe CogLink is easy to use by its intended customer base.  It has many customizable-, accessibility- and safety features.

Other Versions

CogLink has “Pack”, a portable version contained on a USB drive. It also has a version called “TeenMail” with social-connection features for teens with intellectual disabilities.

Funding

Development of these products is “…supported by a National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research SBIR grant, Why Go It Alone?: The Use of Public Resources to Enhance Computer Accessibility for Individuals with Cognitive Disabilities, grant number H133S070096.” Retrieved from http://www.lifetechnologiesllc.com/products.html

Notes

For a review of the training that accompanied the Coglink e-mail software, see my blog post entitled “CogLink E-Mail for People with ID: Review of Its Training“. No endorsement is intended or implied for CogLink.

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