Accessible Insights rolls out AT Work job board

We’re all doing our part to get the economy rolling again, and whether that means you’re spending, saving, building or hiring, we’re all in this together.  Along with efforts to help others, we’re struggling to help ourselves, too.  My miniscule contribution to the plan is to add a job board to the growing list of offerings here at Accessible Insights.  The AT Work job board focuses, as you might guess, on opportunities related to assistive technology.  I’ve yet to link it up to the home page, but you’ll be able to check out the job board by clicking the category, "AT Work" here on the blog.  Or, just click on the link below.

 

jobs.accessibleinsights.info

 

All search functions are free for job seekers.  All opportunities are located in the U.S. only.  Know someone who needs a job?  Send them to the AT Work job board.

The cost to post an AT Work classified is $20 for a listing lasting thirty days.  Are you a sole proprietor AT consultant looking for an assistant?  Post your requirements on the AT Work job board.  Have a web site build in mind, but you need some help with usability?  Find a specialist here.  Looking for a Universal design guru to add to your architectural firm?  Make the request on the AT Work job board.

           

The AT Work classifieds job board is specifically for people interested in accessibility or assistive technology consulting, accessible web development, Section 508 compliance testing, accessible mobile apps and accessible social media platforms development.  I know there are plenty of job boards out there, most of which seem to focus on Internet technology, but I want to emphasize job opportunities specifically in this one narrow niche.  Please pass this along to any organization you know of, large or small, and encourage them to post their assistive tech specialist opportunities here on the AT Work classifieds.

 

See you AT Work!

 

LL

Posted in AT News, AT Work. No Comments »

RFB and D audio books now available on Apple devices

RFB&D Audiobooks are Now Accessible on Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch Devices

New assistive technology application dramatically widens accessibility of educational content for people with learning differences.

Princeton, NJ (Vocus/PRWEB) March 08, 2011

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic® (RFB&D®) has released a new application enabling its entire library of downloadable DAISY-formatted audiobooks to be played on Apple iOS devices including the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

The new application, known as RFB&D Audio, is available to individuals for $19.99 via the Apple iTunes store. An RFB&D online account is required to use the product, which offers advanced features for accessibility like bookmarking, chapter and page navigation, last position playback, variable speed control and more.

Our members have asked for our content on devices they enjoy using in everyday life and we have delivered,” says Andrew Friedman, RFB&D President and CEO. “This new application is a major milestone, building on the momentum begun a few months ago when we introduced our ReadHear software player making RFB&D books accessible on PC and Mac computers – we will continue to bring leading edge solutions to our users.”

RFB&D Audio is fully compatible with all iPad, iPhone 4 and 3GS models, and iPod touch second generation and above devices. For visually impaired members, the app takes full advantage of Apple’s VoiceOver technology. Members can select from RFB&D’s library of more than 64,000 titlesavailable online and easily download books to their PCs and Macs. From there, they can use iTunes to easily transfer the files to their devices.

More information, frequently asked questions, a quick start guide, and customer service contact information to support the RFB&D Audio app are available at http://www.rfbd.org/apple/.

About Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic®
Founded in 1948, RFB&D serves more than 300,000 K-12, college and graduate students, as well as veterans and lifelong learners – all of whom cannot read standard print due to blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia, or other disability. RFB&D’s collection of more than 64,000 digitally recorded textbooks and literature titles – delivered through internet downloads, various assistive technology devices, and CD – is the largest of its kind in the world. More than 5,000 volunteers across the U.S. help to record and process the books, which students rely on to achieve educational success and entry into the workforce.

RFB&D, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education, state and local education programs, and the generous contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information, call (866) 732-3585 or visit http://www.rfbd.org.

# # #

Contact Information

Doug Sprei, Director of Media Relations
Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic
www.rfbd.org
202-684-8915

LL

Here’s an accessible desktop app to help you weave a web of words

Ever since I began writing regularly, I’ve been searching for an enhanced dictionary and thesaurus tool that would be available inline with my word processor.  Unsure of exactly what I wanted, I was willing to go the CD ROM route, but I preferred a plug-in that would not necessitate leaving the desktop; perhaps a software download that would allow me access to a better selection of definitions and synonyms than those available in the various writing programs that I use. the issue, as always, has been one of accessibility. There are some great editor’s products and writing tools available, but not to me, since I use a screen reader. I finally found one in the form of a free download called Word Web.
 
Word Web is a little gem that can plug in to almost any word processor you are using.  One feature that was important to me is the ability to stay on the desktop, and not be forced online to get a synonyms list, if my word processor did not have a built-in thesaurus.  Case in point, Jarte, which is one of my favorite programs.  When in Jarte, I can now just click on the thesaurus option and Word Web pops right up in my document. It is easy to use, although I do admit that it is not necessarily intuitive, until you realize that the menu structure is that of a system of tabs.  You can tab to various options, then make your choice from what appears in the tab.

 
Word Web offers a free download, subject to the user agreement.  The basic paid version, Word Web Pro, without add-ons, is only $20. While the free version will certainly get you where you need to go, I recommend the paid version if you are a serious writer who needs access to advanced tools such as collegiate dictionaries and an augmented selection of words, pronunciations and variations.

 

What makes Word Web unique is that you are not stuck with the short list of obvious choices that are typically found in most word processors.  You are also given a list of examples of usage, nearest words, synonyms, and other types of the chosen word.  I have found this particularly useful when I’ve written myself into a corner, produced a perfectly horrible sentence, and have needed a way out.  By showing me other versions of the same word, and examples of how I might use it, I can obliterate the offending prose and rework the sentence to my satisfaction.  If you purchase Word Web, there is an included list of audio pronunciations that is professionally recorded and would be very useful to anyone, but especially non-native English speakers.  What a great idea.  Also,since there are times when the text-to-speech synthesizer in a screen reader program doesn’t get the pronunciation exactly right, having the Word Web audio as verification could be a lifesaver.

 

Get it here:  Word Web

 

LL   

Oscar and disability: Rate these portrayals

Now that another Oscar program is in the can, those of us who advocate for people with disabilities have made note of the fact that yet another Academy-acknowledged film featured a character with a disability.  I did some quick research, and below is a short list of some recent Oscar winners that either featured a character with a disability, or in some way dealt with issues pertaining to having a disability.        

The King’s Speech 2010  

A Beautiful Mind 2001  

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest 1975  

Rain Man 1988 

Scent of a Woman 1992 

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962

Born on the Fourth of July 1989 

Charly 1968 

Children of a Lesser God 1986 

Coming Home 1978 

Forrest Gump 1994

 

This is obviously not an exhaustive list, but I was culling  through a list of only Oscar winners.  Also, I skipped over movies about addiction, such as "Leaving Las Vegas," or movies pertaining to disfigurement, like "Mask," "Phantom of the Opera," or "The Elephant Man," arguably appropriate for the disability column.  I also passed on the murderous madmen and psycho killer movies.  One could easily score a point if one cares to make an argument that these, too, count as disabilities.

  
    What are your favorite movies featuring issues or characters with a disability?  Why do you like that choice in particular?  Do you feel the portrayal was a realistic one?  Do you feel that the movie reflects your personal reality, or that of someone you know?  Does the movie confirm or dispel stereotypes?  Which movies have you found to be the most objectionable when depicting a person with a disability?  Comment below and share your views.

 

LL 

Mobile Accessibility by Code Factory goes Android with robust features

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Terrassa (Barcelona), Spain, March 2nd, 2011
Today, Code Factory is delighted to introduce Mobile Accessibility, a screen-access application that allows people who are blind or have low vision to use an Android phone in an intuitive, easy and simple way. Mobile Accessibility is the first accessible Android application that permits intuitive touchscreen navigation of Android phones, featuring text readback via natural sounding voices powered by Nuance’s Vocalizer® text-to-speech technology.

Mobile phones have proved to be among the fastest-changing consumer technologies in the world – particularly with the advent of the Android platform. So making mobile phones accessible to the blind and visually impaired is therefore challenging, fascinating, thrilling and totally exciting all at the same time,” explained Eduard Sánchez, Code Factory’s CEO. “There was no doubt that we would target the  Android platform, as we very quickly realized that there was a real need in this specific market for an accessible solution that can provide a user-friendly experience for all blind and low-vision consumers. Mobile Accessibility allows everyone, from beginners to the most tech-savvy, to use an Android phone, no matter if it has physical keys or is touchscreen-only.”

Mobile Accessibility is two products in one:

A suite of 10 accessible applications (Phone, Contacts, SMS, Alarm, Calendar, Email, Web, Where am I, Apps and Settings) that have been specially designed for the blind and visually impaired. They all have a simplified interface whose textual information is spoken using Nuance Vocalizer® voice synthesis.
A screen reader that allows users to get out of the suite and navigate the standard interface of their phone.

“Mobile Accessibility provides both access to the mainstream apps of the phone and access to special apps for blind people. Why? Because our philosophy has always been to allow our users to use the phone the same way as everyone else. However, we also believe that having some special apps for the most common tasks can be extremely useful if it means gaining in productivity,” added Eduard Sánchez.

The major features of Mobile Accessibility are the following:

Touch navigation: You can use Mobile Accessibility not only with the trackball or the physical keyboard of your phone, but also with its touchscreen! Simply move your finger around the screen and the voice synthesis will read the text located under your finger. Or if you prefer, you can also swipe up/down/right/left and tap on the screen to navigate through the interface. And if you wish you can enable sound and vibration feedback.
Easy to input text: In or outside the Mobile Accessibility suite you can use the touch QWERTY keyboard as well as the speech recognition to write text quickly and easily. Imagine writing an SMS or an Email using your voice only.
Voice synthesis: Code Factory has been making mobile phones accessible to the blind and visually impaired for many years now, and they know that the voice matters… and a lot! For Mobile Accessibility, Code Factory has partnered with Nuance® to leverage its trusted Vocalizer text-to-speech technology, providing consumers with natural sounding voice readback. 

“With around 314 million visually impaired persons around the world, we believe that it’s our joint obligation to facilitate access to information and mobile communication to everyone” says Arnd Weil, VP & General Manager Automotive / Consumer Electronics, Nuance Communications. “By offering screen reader functionality for Android phones using Nuance Vocalizer, Code Factory gives blind and visually impaired persons access to one of the most important mobile platforms with the market’s most natural sounding and intelligible voices.”

Inside the Mobile Accessibility suite of accessible applications you can do the following:

Phone: Make calls, answer calls, hear the caller ID and manage your call log.
Contacts: Manage your contacts, even those from social networks such as Facebook. 
SMS: Compose and read short messages. Manage conversations.
Alarms: Set your alarms.
Web: Full web browser experience, similar to what you can find on your PC. Jump by the control of your choice (links, paragraphs, headings, forms, etc.) to navigate faster to the information of your interest. Bookmark your favourite webpages.
Calendar: Create, edit and delete a calendar entry. View all events per day, week or month.
Email: Full access to your Gmail account
Where am I? : GPS application that gives you updates on your current location.
Settings: Change ringtone. Configure feedback and notifications (vibration or audio). Configure keyboard echo, punctuation verbosity, speech pitch and rate, etc.
Quick access to date and time, phone status information such as battery level and network coverage, number of missed calls and unread messages, etc.

To hear Mobile Accessibility in action listen to videos and audio demos at http://www.codefactory.es/en/products.asp?id=415#video

Mobile Accessibility supports all Android phones from version 2.1 and above. Please note that voice recognition is only supported with version 2.2 and above. Note also that if you want to use the screen reader functionality of Mobile Accessibility you will need a phone with physical navigational controls such as a trackball or trackpad. You can find more information about Android phones at http://www.google.com/phone/#manufacturer=all&category=all&carrier=all&country=all&reset_filters=1

At the time of this release Mobile Accessibility is only available in English, but soon Code Factory will release other versions of Mobile Accessibility for Spanish, Italian, German, French and Portuguese. Note that Mobile Accessibility doesn’t support multiple languages at one time. If you buy the English version of Mobile Accessibility you will not be able to use it in another language like French or Spanish. There will be a specific version of Mobile Accessibility for each language and each version will have to be purchased separately.

You can now get a Mobile Accessibility Demo from the Android Market and try the product for free for 30 days:

Mobile Accessibility Demo US: https://market.android.com/details?id=es.codefactory.android.app.ma.vocalizerenudemo&feature=search_result
Mobile Accessibility Demo UK: https://market.android.com/details?id=es.codefactory.android.app.ma.vocalizerengdemo&feature=search_result

Soon Mobile Accessibility will be available for purchase through the Android Market at the price of 69 EUROS. You can purchase the application directly from the Market application of your Android phone, or from the web page https://market.android.com . Before buying the app make sure to check out our website at http://www.codefactory.es/en/products.asp?id=415 to see what carriers offer the product for free to their customers.

To learn how to use Mobile Accessibility for Android, please consult the user guide at http://www.codefactory.es/MA/en/ma_1_0_manual.html. For technical assistance, please submit a ticket through Code Factory’s Help Desk at http://www.codefactory.cat/helpdesk/.

For more information about Mobile Accessibility and Code Factory subscribe to the Mobile Accessibility mailing list at http://www.codefactory.es/en/list.asp?id=88, visit our website at http://www.codefactory.es or follow the company on Twitter at http://twitter.com/codefactory and use the hashtag #MA to talk about Mobile Accessibility.

About Code Factory 
Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Terrassa (Barcelona), Spain, Code Factory is the global leader committed to the development of products designed to eliminate barriers to the accessibility of mobile technology for the blind and visually impaired. Today, Code Factory is the leading provider of accessible mobile applications such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, and Braille interfaces. Code Factory’s products are compatible with the widest range of mainstream mobile devices running on Symbian, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry Smartphones, and Android. Among Code Factory’s customers are well known organizations for the blind such as ONCE in Spain, and carriers such as AT&T, Bouygues Telecom, SFR, TIM and Vodafone.

About Nuance Communications, Inc.
Nuance is a leading provider of speech and imaging solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Its technologies, applications and services make the user experience more compelling by transforming the way people interact with information and how they create, share and use documents. Every day, millions of users and thousands of businesses experience Nuance’s proven applications and professional services. For more information, please visit: nuance.com.

 

For more information, feel free to contact Code Factory S.L.:

Code Factory, S.L., Rambla d’Egara 148 2-2, 08221 Terrassa (Barcelona)
HelpDesk, www.codefactory.es
Code Factory, S.L. – 2011

LL

Word Press Help Center to reopen March 14

If you are a self-confessed and unapologetic non-technical person who just likes it when things work,  but who does not always feel compelled to know Why, then you may have hired an expert to assist you in putting up your web site or blog.  I have.  Even though I’m sure it is not by any means beyond me to accomplish some of the day-to-day maintenance of my web sites and blog, I don’t want to.  It doesn’t interest me, the frustration factor due to potential inaccessibility isn’t worth the effort.  We cannot all be good at everything, and I’m especially good at knowing what I’m not good at.  Knowing one’s limitations is very freeing.

 

One of the resources I’ve mentioned here in the past has been Word Press Help Center.  They helped me to install my blog, as well as to install some of the plug-ins and tools I use.  You can get an accessible theme for Word Press, but the back end, or Word Press dashboard is still fairly problematic when it comes to accessibility.  That has proved to be a disappointment, but that’s a post for another time.

 

What was a greater disappointment, though, was when I attempted to reach my pro at Word Press Help Center not long ago, only to find that they were shutting down.  They were no longer accepting new jobs, and the entire operation would be offline by February 28th.  So, I began to look around for another WP pro to help me with some upcoming projects.  Once you find someone great, it’s really depressing to lose them.  I was very sorry to see WP Help Center go.

 

Happily, just today I read that the business has undergone a change of management and will be back online in just a few  weeks.  As a satisfied repeat customer, I can tell you that this was very good news.  Nathan Garza, previously a Word Press expert on staff and all-around good guy, is taking over the business and will reopen on March 14th.  The WP Help Center is a busy outfit, and I suspect that with Nathan’s help it will continue to be busy.  However, with reasonable pricing and excellent customer service, I think you’ll be glad you called them if you have a Word Press issue, great or small. 

 

Here are some links:

Story from Alex King blog.

 

AlexKing.org

 

Word Press Help Center

 

I always say that sometimes accessibility is achieved through the efforts of people who are willing to assist and accommodate via personal service.  It’s easy to understand why THAT works.

 

LL