The Day We Fight Back: Protest NSA Surveillance on Your Blog

Want to know more about today’s protest against NSA surveillance? Read this note from Word Press:

The Day We Fight Back: Protest NSA Surveillance on Your Blog
by Paul Sieminski
Today, a broad coalition of interest groups, websites, and people around the world are joining together to fight back against government surveillance. We’re supporting the “Day We Fight Back” on and have created a banner that you can easily add to your blog to get involved, too.
The “Stop NSA Surveillance” banner shows support for this important cause and provides a link to a page of resources to help visitors to contact members of the US Congress and encourage them to support much needed anti-surveillance legislation. For more information, please visit
How to add the banner to your site
Here’s how to add the banner to your site in three steps:
1. In your dashboard, go to Settings → Protest NSA Surveillance.
2. Click on the checkbox labelled Protest Enabled.
3. Click on the Save Changes button for the change to take effect.
The banner will remain on your site until midnight on your blog’s time zone.


Gratefully yours, twice over, from the Accessible Insights Blog

Each year around this time, I like to take a minute to wish my readers a happy holiday, and this year, I get two for the price of one! Did you know that this year is a historical (an historical?) double-dip, in that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah occur simultaneously? It’s Thanksgivukkah! Check out this article: Why #Thanksgiving and #Hanukkah overlap this year

Thank you for your continued support and readership, and have a safe and happy holiday, whatever you are celebrating.



Blog on-the-fly with the accessible WordPress app for iOS

This post is a short review of the features of the Word Press iOS app. The content was uploaded using the app, instead of posting via the blog site dashboard. In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess straightaway that in writing this blog post, I am cheating a bit. Okay, I’m completely cheating, but I hope you will understand after I explain.

My device is an iPhone 5, using the most recent version of iOS 6. What? Not iOS 7? Yes, yes…I know. You are shocked and appalled. I could hear you gasp from here. I’ll update soon, I promise. In the meantime, here is what I want to tell you about the Word Press iOS app, in case you have been tempted to use it.

Dive in. The app is completely accessible, simple to use, and really handy. the user interface is uncluttered, with a toggle button that allows you to easily switch between the upload screen and the view posts screen. No, you do not get every link to every feature of the Word Press dashboard, but you get enough to send up a quick post if you want to do some live blogging or if you are feeling spontaneous; struck by a sudden inspiration.

So, how is it that I’m cheating? Well, I have yet to purchase a Bluetooth keyboard, and I wanted to type this post out in my word processor of choice on my laptop, and simply cut and paste the result into the upload box in the app, rather than type out the entire post on the iPhone touch keyboard. Yes, I could have dictated the post, but I’m a meticulous editor, and I might not have posted this for six months if forced to complete the task that way. I would guess that if you have Drop Box, or use some other means of easy file transfer, you could do the same, but my plan involves sending this to myself in an email, and cutting and pasting from there. A long way around, I know. I’m a manual labor masochist.

To get started, simply download the Word Press app from the Apple app store. The app is free. Sign in with your blog credentials, if you have an existing blog, and provide the URL to your blog page. That’s it. You can upload a post, edit one, check blog stats, and view your blog as your readers would see it. It’s a real blog-apalooza. Okay, I’ll stop. Please don’t unsubscribe.

Author’s note: Since writing this post, I have updated my iPhone 5 to the latest iOS version. Can we be friends again?

Author’s note 2: I have discovered a new app that might have made this laptop-to-iPhone transfer a bit easier. It’s called Lazy Text, and it lets users transfer plain text via their wi-fi network directly into their device. I’ll try it in an upcoming post, and let you know how it goes. in the meantime, I have an email to send.

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Accessible Insights to be inaccessible for awhile, taking a road less traveled by

We all have to admit sometimes when we know we’re beat, and now is that time for me.  I need to take a break.  I think I’ve got too many irons in the fire, and I have not taken any sort of vacation for quite some time.  I’ve not posted anything here for weeks, and have not felt particularly inspired to.  I think I’ve hit the wall, and that’s the bottom line. 

So, without the benefit of advanced planning, maps, or glossy brochures, I hereby declare myself on vacation.  I’m afraid that if I don’t take some time off, regroup, and reassess my particular set of circumstances, I may just push myself too hard.  I may have already. 

I hope you all enjoy your last few weeks of summer.  If you need me, I’ll still be available via email, just use the accessible contact form on this page if you don’t already have my email address.  You won’t see me online on Twitter @Accessible_Info either, but there’s always the phone and plenty of other ways to reach me.  I’ll be thinking of you, and I’ll miss you, but I have to take care of myself, as no other human will.

Warmest regards,


Laura Legendary

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A T Guys bringing AT solutions to both NFB12 and ACB12 national conferences

Another summer advocacy conference and exhibit hall update for you.  Last year, I exhibited at a table near the A T Guys, and I was able to take a look at their great product lineup.  You’ve got to stop by their booth and check it out.  I am crazy about the bar code reader, and the iBill money identifier is about 1/4 the size of the one I carry.  The show sale price is incredible, so get your shopping on and hit the exhibit hall.  A T Guys will be exhibiting at both the NFB convention in Dallas at booth 9, and the ACB convention in Louisville at booth 19.


Here’s the scoop, sent to me by co-owner, J.J. Meddaugh:


Come see our new Quantum bar code scanner, the affordable and accurate way to identify millions of products. We’ve partnered with Directions for Me to bring you product directions and ingredients,, Bookshare, and many other resources. Scan a CD and hear the track listing. Compare prices of an item at major online stores and get the best deal, if you need to buy more. Plus, never pay for a database update. Stop by and try it out for yourself. We think you’ll be amazed.

A T Guys is also your home for iPhone and mobile accessories, including external batteries, keyboards, tactile screen protectors, cases, and more.


Finally, we’re running a sale on the iBill money identifier, just $79.


For more information about the A T Guys, their appearance at upcoming conferences, or product info, contact:

A T Guys
Your Assistive Technology Experts
(269) 216-4798




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President signs pedestrian safety enhancement act




Chris Danielsen

Director of Public Relations

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)


President Signs Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act
Washington, D.C. (January 5, 2011): The National Federation of the Blind today commended President Barrack Obama for signing into law the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act (S. 841), which will protect the blind and other pedestrians from injury as a result of silent vehicle technology.

“The National Federation of the Blind is pleased that this critical legislation has been signed into law, preserving the right to safe and independent travel for the blind,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind.  “The blind, like all pedestrians, must be able to travel to work, to school, to church, and to other places in our communities, and we must be able to hear vehicles in order to do so.  This law, which is the result of collaboration among blind Americans, automobile manufacturers, and legislators, will benefit all pedestrians for generations to come as new vehicle technologies become more prevalent.  We look forward to working with the Department of Transportation throughout the regulatory process.”

Because blind pedestrians cannot locate and evaluate traffic using their vision, they must listen to traffic to discern its speed, direction, and other attributes in order to travel safely and independently.  Other people, including pedestrians who are not blind, bicyclists, runners, and small children, also benefit from hearing the sound of vehicle engines.  New vehicles that employ hybrid or electric engine technology can be silent, rendering them extremely dangerous in situations where vehicles and pedestrians come into proximity with each other.


On giving gifts of assistive tech or adaptive aids: Take this poll

As a follow up to the previous post on what to consider when giving gifts of assistive technology or adaptive aids, take this quick poll. If you have any of your own suggestions as to how to help a senior or person with a disability to overcome barriers associated with AT devices, feel free to share your thoughts.

[poll id=”5″]

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Tips for giving assistive technology gifts

  • For any of my readers who are not visually impaired, you may be wondering if giving a  friend or loved  one who has vision loss a gift of low vision    equipment, (or "assistive technology" as it is called),  is an appropriate gift.  I can understand your concern.  On the one hand, some of the best gifts are those that make someone’s life better or easier, on the other hand, you may be afraid that this type of gift might be received in much the same way as a book  about dieting might be.  In other words, you don’t want to insult someone, especially if  the recipient is really struggling with the emotional aspects of their vision loss.  You might be worried that giving this sort of gift would be acknowledging circumstances that the individual him or herself may not yet be ready or willing to acknowledge. 

    While you may be thinking that buying a friend this type of gift is about as exciting as giving a housewife a vacuum cleaner, consider your intention along with the particular needs of the recipient to make it a gift that keeps on giving.  Here are a few tips that may help you to identify the right gift for your special recipient.

    Educate yourself.  When it comes to assistive products, there is no one size fits all solution.  You may not realize, for example, that different types of vision loss manifests differently in different people.  Someone who has retinopathy does not literally see the world in exactly the same way as does a person who has macular degeneration.  Therefore, it might be a good idea to take the time to identify the specific needs of your gift recipient.  Learning a bit about how their particular disability affects them in day-to-day, real-world ways can help you to choose the most practical solution that is most effective and beneficial for them, as opposed to the latest whiz-bang gadget or gizmo.


    examine the packaging.  If you are giving a gift to a senior or a person who has a physical disability which may make it difficult to manage the product packaging, the impact of     your gift may be lost if the recipient can’t get to it.  Look for "frustration free" packaging, or simply prepare the gift in advance if you will be unable to be present at the time it’s opened.  remove plastic ties or shrink wrap, slice open the bubble plastic so that the container is easy to handle  (you can secure it with easier to manage clear tape), and check out the included instructions.  If the gift recipient has low or no vision, and the instructions are printed on paper, your recipient  will not be able to enjoy the gift if they do not possess the technology to scan and read the directions.  Take the time to record the instructions on tape, or provide them in some alternative format so that it is accessible to the recipient.  This extra step is part of the gift, and will be most appreciated.   

    Add the value of you.  If your friend or loved one is having a hard time coping with their changing circumstances, make the discovery of assistive technology a shared experience.  Learn alongside your loved one.  this will not only reduce the intimidation factor of what they perceive to be a complicated process, but the shared experience will benefit you both.


    Ask someone who would know.  Do you know someone else who has the same disability as your gift recipient?  If so, ask their opinion.  Is this the best version of this particular product?  Is it compatible with their current technology or equipment?  Is the product or gadget as effective as you believe it could be?  Will it do what the manufacturer says it will do?  Is there a more or less feature-rich version of this gift that would be more appropriate?  If you do not know someone who shares your loved one’s disability, go online and seek accessibility consultants or experts who will be glad to help.  there is far more information available than you may realize.  If you’ve come this far, it’s easy to continue to seek help.  Just type "assistive technology gifts" or "low vision aids" into your favorite search engine, and explore the results.  You’ll be amazed at the choices.  You might even discover that instead of buying an expensive gadget, there are innumerable ways to make existing items more accessible for people with disabilities.  Sometimes, keeping things simple can be the best solution of all.

    One word of caution.  When it comes to the notion of improving a person’s quality of life, ask yourself if you are really the best judge of what that is.  Sometimes, there can exist a very fine line between the desire to help and the desire to control.  Consider, for example how you might feel if someone concluded that your life was inadequate, and imposed all sorts of solutions that you did not want or need?  What if, say your real estate agent decided that you didn’t need such a big house, it is unnecessary, and therefore you will only be shown one bedroom houses?  Keep in mind that there are still people out there who fail to see the necessity of a computer or a cell phone.  As foreign an idea as that may be to you, they do not feel their life is any worse for the lack.


    On the other hand, a person who has a disability might really appreciate your contribution to what would otherwise be a purchase that is financially prohibitive.  The market for assistive tech gadgets is far smaller than that of the market for say, the latest hand-held device that has an "i" in front of the name.  Consequently, assistive products specifically for people with disabilities can be far more expensive than the mass-market counterparts.  If you are considering a gift certificate, check out the online retailers who specialize in these products.  Most offer gift certificates, and will even accept phone orders, which may be preferable for someone who does not yet have an accessible PC. 

    Good communication and a little extra investigation will yield the best gifts that your friend or loved one will use and enjoy, and you may give the best gift of all…the gift of love of learning, new experiences and fresh insights as to the exciting possibilities that await.  





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    Holiday tunes that will make you laugh. Let’s lighten up!

    The holiday season seems to require a great deal of us.  Sometimes it can be awfully hard to find the joy in any of it.  For reasons of our own, the holiday time can be everything from slightly stressful to deeply depressing.  Therefore, I say let’s enjoy a little levity.  If you refuse to laugh, can we at least share a smile?  A little irreverence  is the spice of life.


    This first Hanukkah tune is called “Candlelight,” performed by the Maccabeats.  Got to love the creativity in the group’s name.  this one was new to me, thanks to tweep Marcella (@Abadi_Access)..




    Here’s the classic Adam Sandler tune.  Still cracks me up.


    The Hanukkah Song


    Have you ever really listened to the lyrics in the song “Mr. Grinch,” from the Dr. Suess  TV special “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”?  Absolutely hilarious.  The vocal inflection is priceless.


    You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch


    This next one isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s the favorite of a friend of mine, who insisted it be included.  You won’t be able to help yourself.  You’ll laugh.


    The Twelve Days of Kwanza


    This last one is so vulgar, I have to flag it as a “for mature audiences only” entry.  Still, I can’t get through it without laughing so hard I miss some of it.  It’s the classic South Park video, “The Spirit of Christmas".”  Don’t turn up the volume if you’re at work.  Enjoy.


    The Spirit of Christmas


    Okay, now it’s time to take requests.  Either submit a link to your own holiday parody, or write a title or lyrics of your own.  I’ll start.  How about a song about the hassles of the holidays, and all the things you must remember to do?  I call it, “Oh, Holy Crap.”


    Your turn!



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    Great gifting ideas for your donation dollars

    Each year at this time, we seem to be faced with an endless list of choices to make about everything imaginable.  Where to spend the holiday?  Which grandparents or parents do we visit this Thanksgiving?  Do we fly?  Drive?  what gifts do we buy, and for whom?  What’s our budget?  What to fix for holiday dinner?  Do we go to the office party?  What to wear, whom to bring, when to leave?  It goes on and on.  Somehow we all volunteer for an annual overdose of adrenaline and stress hormones.  One decision we may also be considering is where to make the donations that will make best use of the scant dollars we may have to give.  I have a few suggestions for you to consider, perhaps just a bit out of the ordinary, but I hope you’ll give these ideas a look.


    If you do not normally click on those “donate” boxes on the web sites you frequent, make this year a first.  We all benefit from free apps, web sites, software downloads and all sorts of pro bono information, so why not send the developers a few dollars?  I know it’s easy to just drop your pocket change into a bucket on your way into the store, but giving what you can to all those developers who work hard to produce a product that increases your productivity, makes your pages more interesting or interactive, or makes your life a little easier or just a bit more fun deserve some love, too.  It doesn’t have to be a lot, but it all adds up, and I think sometimes we take all that free stuff for granted.  the creative imagination required to craft and develop, market and maintain the high quality products  we enjoy in such a competitive field is worthy of your few pesoss, isn’t it?


    Another of my favorite ways to donate is anonymously.  Have you ever wanted to help out a friend or family member, but didn’t want to insult them, damage your relationship or bruise their dignity by offering?  Giving Anon is the best way to send money to someone you choose to be the recipient of a monetary gift, without ever having to reveal your identity.  You still receive the pleasure of their gratitude by way of a recorded message, thanking you for your generosity and sharing how your gift will be used.  Yet, they will not  know you are  their benefactor.  I just love that.  Go here:  Giving anonymously.


    Check out their new “Giving Widget” that allows you to add a button to your web site or blog to raise money for yourself or your favorite cause.


    Help bring home the holidays to seniors or those who are isolated.  Use your gifts as a tech-savvy Samaritan to set up a web cam and Skype center so that they can chat “face to face” with loved ones.  You do all the work, they just sit down and let the love begin.  That’s one way you can make a difference even if you don’t have a dime to spare.  Use what you have at your disposal to bring joy to others.


    Finally, teach someone to fish.  You know, “better to teach a man to fish than to give a man a fish.”   Or, words to that effect.  Teach someone whom you may know to be technically intimidated how to use some gadget or gizmo that you just know will make their lives better or easier.  Whether it’s a friend, a relative or a complete stranger, the knowledge you think of as just the ho-hum minutiae of your every day can unlock a new world of possibilities for someone who let tech pass them by.


    These are just a few ideas to think about as you ruminate on the best way to use your donation dollars this year.  Got other great ways to give?  Share!



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