Accessible apps for news junkies, no rehab needed


If you know me at all, or if you follow me (@Accessible_Info) on Twitter, one thing you know about me is that I’m a bit of a news junkie. You’ve probably become aware of, if not actually annoyed by, my early-morning dissemination of articles, tweeted out to my followers, from a variety of news sources. This pattern is typically repeated at various points throughout the day, as I check in on all my favorite sites and apps.

I have always been the type to keep up with current events, but one of the ways in which I was changed by the events of September 11th, 2001, was in a radical increase in my news and information consumption behavior. In the years following 9/11, I began to obsessively monitor the news. This habit has now become such a part of my daily life that it was only natural that my very first iOS app, and many subsequent downloads, have been news related. Below is a short list of some of the apps I use, and a few comments as to what has worked well for me, and a few I’ve discarded.

My very first app download was the news app by Reuters. Interestingly, my “beginner’s luck,” as to a great accessible app that I use every single day has only been duplicated a few times…namely, by the NPR news and BBC news apps. This news and info trifecta has been a reliable and useful combination of global reportage.

I soon discovered, much to my disappointment, that accessibility can sometimes be broken when an app is updated. I started out with the Breaking News app and the AP Mobile app, but after an update, they ceased to function well for me. They were great to push out alert notifications, but after awhile, I became frustrated if I wanted to pursue a story but could not, due to the lack of accessibility. Ultimately, I would return to my three favorites. Delete, delete.

By no means have I stopped there. I said I was a news and info junkie, remember? you think I would quit at three? Don’t be ridiculous.

I decided I wanted audio news, not just printed news. one nice feature of both the NPR News and BBC News apps is the ability to listen to news stories, built right into the app. However, that didn’t stop me from downloading the Swell app, Hourly News, and Downcast, so that I could also hear my favorite news podcasts. More on Downcast in an upcoming article. Just recently, I downloaded 5By5 Radio, a streaming service featuring tech news.

Oh, but wait…there’s more. I also have to have my daily dose of Apple news, so I check out App Advice and Apps Gone Free every day. I also need to have a good dose of science info, so I rely on Phys.org to dish up intriguing science stories. Finally, I must have access to all the news happening in the blindness, accessibility, and assistive technology industry, so there’s the obligatory iBlink Radio app, Blind Bargains, and Access World apps. think I’m done? Oh, no.

Let us not forget newspapers. My favorite newspaper app for reading multiple papers is Earl. This is a terrific hands-free option for when I’m busy doing something, but want a story read aloud. There are several great accessible newspaper apps, but at this point, I might be duplicating myself. You think?

How do I keep up with all of this? I can’t honestly say I read every resource thoroughly every day…who could? So, to assist me in collecting stories for later reading, my enabler of choice is the Pocket app. It integrates seamlessly into so many other apps, it only requires a couple of quick taps to save an article to read it later. You can be sure on the days when my tweeps are particularly interesting, tweeting out all sorts of juicy tidbits for me to investigate, I am tapping on links and then tapping “save to Pocket” just as fast as my fingers can fly across the screen.

Unbelievably, this is not an exhaustive list. There are several assorted other informational resources I use less frequently, but love no less, and I haven’t even touched some of the info aggregation and magazine apps, such as Flipboard and Buzzfeed. neither proved to be usable for me, and I’m not sure if they are inaccessible or just flaky. I have tried, then deleted, several news apps for lack of access. most notably, the CNN app, which I actually attempted to use twice, and neither time was I able to get it to work. Come on, CNN, don’t tell me your app is inaccessible because you can’t afford to pay someone to develop an app that supports VoiceOver. if you check the sofa cushions in your break room, I’m sure you can come up with the coin. Puh-leez.

That’s the rundown of most of my news apps. Don’t be afraid to comment below and recommend your own favorites…bonus points for noting if accessible for VoiceOver users. Oh, and if you know of a news junkie support group, don’t bother telling me about it. I’m too far gone.

LL

Easy Chirp returns with new sporty features and more power under the hood


A few months ago, the social networking site Twitter made an important update to its API, which necessitated some serious scrambling by third-party users of the previous API version. One of the third-party clients was Easy Chirp, the accessible, cross-platform Twitter alternative. Many users were forced to find other ways to tweet their updates while Easy Chirp and other Twitter clients either faded into the sunset, or in the case of Easy Chirp, went down, but not out, for the count.

Dennis Lembree (@DennisL), creator of Easy Chirp, decided this API update presented an opportunity to rebuild Easy Chirp, updating the back-end architecture and adding some new bells and whistles.

After months of a from-the-ground-up rebuild, Easy Chirp is back. Just within the last week, Lembree quietly reintroduced Easy Chirp, with a middle-of-the-night tweet announcing a “soft launch.”

Happily, Dennis had already invited me to test drive the beta version, which can be found at www.easychirp.org for now. The revised app will be available on the regular dot com domain during the official launch, reportedly within a few weeks. I was so excited that my preferred web-accessible Twitter client was back, I immediately flew to the site to check it out.

The first thing I noticed, which surprised me, was that the new version is almost exactly the same as the previous version. For some reason, I had expected a completely new look and feel. However, the differences between old and new versions quickly became obvious. The “under the hood” changes are what make Easy Chirp 2 a new experience.

First, it is much faster. I am using NVDA as my screen reader and the latest version of FireFox as my browser. Wow…The page loads and navigation were blistering fast. Also, because of improved page organization in some areas, navigating from various elements has been streamlined.

Mr. Lembree partnered with Seattle developer Andrew Woods (@awoods) to complete the project. After considering a number of partners for the work, he chose Woods because of his experience with PHP. Mr. Woods recommended a PHP development framework called CodeIgniter. One reason Lembree decided to go with this framework was that it offers translation features, allowing Easy Chirp to be translated into multiple languages. First after English will be Spanish, says Lembree, which is “about 98% done.” German and Arabic translations are in the works, and other languages such as French are also planned for future availability.

While Woods worked on the back-end architecture, Lembree focused on the front end, populating the data and reworking many aspects of the user interface. “Between the new PHP framework and the new Twitter API, it’s a lot faster,” says Lembree. “Another one of the big coding changes is moving from XHTML to HTML5,” he adds.

There are a few new features of the platform. Notably, the option to choose a dark or light theme, which is useful for people who have light sensitivity or difficulty with light/dark contrast perception. One of Lembree’s favorite new features is the “quick search,” and the “go to user” functions, which are accessible modal windows. If that means nothing to you, I suspect this is one of those esoteric’s that only a developer can truly appreciate.

There is a short list of development tasks that are yet to be completed, which you can review on the Easy Chirp 2 home page. Among the most important of these tasks is the addition of a pagination type of behavior, available currently only on the main timeline page through a link at the bottom that reads, “view older tweets.” More tasks and features are planned but not yet made public.

If you enjoyed using Easy Chirp prior to the “API-pocalypse,” (I still can’t stop saying that, I’m so proud of it), then give Easy Chirp 2 a try. Don’t forget to click on the “donate” button on the home page, and thank Dennis and Andrew for their hard work by tossing a few bucks in the development tip jar.

About Dennis Lembree:

Mr. Lembree has over 15 years experience in web development. He’s worked for a variety of startups as well as large companies including Ford, RIM, Disney, and is now on the accessibility team at PayPal in San Jose, California. Mr. Lembree enjoys attending and presenting at conferences and social media. And besides Easy Chirp, he runs WebAxe.org, a blog and podcast on web accessibility.

You can follow Dennis on Twitter at: @webaxe or at: @EasyChirp for more info and updates.

LL

iPhone 5 as time machine: Updating my ancient tech, a progress report


As a follow-up to my post entitled “From Stone Tablet to a Bite of the Apple,” about my first foray into the apple product funnel, I thought I would write a post as to my progress thus far, now that I’ve had my iPhone 5 for six months. Several of my readers have asked for an update, along with a list of my preferred apps, and some comments as to my ongoing experience. Your wish is my command.

One of my first observations about the usability of iOS and the handset in general was that, unlike all of my experiences with Windows products, whether mobile or desktop, I never once uttered a horrified gasp at any point, thinking that I had done something wrong. The operation of the device was completely stable, predictable, and understandable. I never felt as though I was in any danger of breaking the device, losing data, accidentally deleting something important or feeling as though I had to tiptoe my way through the software. This gave me an immediate feeling of accomplishment and confidence in whatever choices I made, whether that was to download an app, delete one, change settings, update to a newer version, or try something new. The Apple experience with iOS is one that inspires the user to go from novice to power user in very short order. Little is permanent or non-fixable or otherwise irretrievable.

As a result, I decided to throw all caution to the wind and dive in as completely as I cared to, going straight for the apps and using the features that would permit the greatest productivity. I decided to make this little miracle gadget do everything it possibly could, and short of jail breaking the device, I believe I have done just that.

So as to keep the next few posts brief, as well as to serve as a reminder to my readers that I’m still here, despite my long summer writing hiatus that has lasted well into autumn, I will publish a series of articles featuring the various categories of apps I’m using, in case you’d like to try a few in one or more categories. Yes, I’m aware that there are already accessible apps lists on popular forums and web sites, but everyone has their own contribution to make, and if you happen to appreciate my point of view, then you might make some choices based upon my experiences. Besides, I’ve been away such a long time, I need to reintroduce myself, and to invite you to return. I’ll try not to be gone so long next time.

Read From Stone Tablet to a Bite of the Apple

LL

Hotkey help for NVDA 13 update


If you have already updated to the latest version of NVDA, there’s nothing in this post you don’t already know, so move along…move along. If you do not know what NVDA is, scroll to the bottom of this post, and click on the link for a video. NVDA is a free, open source screen reader for computer users who are blind or visually impaired. If you are about to update, be aware that some changes have been made to the NVDA hotkeys. Before you ask your new copy of NVDA to read the entire content of your document, and discover that Ins-down arrow results only in silence, know that the laptop layout has been completely redesigned for greater consistency and intuitive use. Your copy of NVDA is not broken. So, before you write to the developers and complain, check out the hotkeys list below.

First, here are the most important changes that will affect you right from launch, since they are the hotkeys you are most likely to need straightaway:

Name
Key
Say all
NVDA+a
Read current line
NVDA+l
Read current text selection
NVDA+shift+s
Report status bar
NVDA+shift+end

In addition, among other changes, all of the object navigation, text review, mouse click and synth settings ring commands have changed. Below is the list of hotkeys as presented in the NVDA 2013.1 Commands Quick Reference:

NVDA Touch Gestures
Touch Modes
To toggle touch modes, perform a 3-finger tap.
Basic NVDA commands
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Touch
Description
Stop speech
Control
control
2-finger tap
Instantly stops speaking
Pause Speech
shift
shift
none
Instantly pauses speech. Pressing it again will continue speaking where it left off (if pausing is supported by the current synthesizer)
NVDA Menu
NVDA+n
NVDA+n
2-finger double tap
Pops up the NVDA menu to allow you to access preferences, tools and help etc
Toggle Speech Mode
NVDA+s
NVDA+s
none
Toggles speech mode between speech, beeps and off.
Toggle Input Help Mode
NVDA+1
NVDA+1
none
Pressing any key in this mode will report the key, and the description of any NVDA command associated with it
Quit NVDA
NVDA+q
NVDA+q
none
Exits NVDA
Pass next key through
NVDA+f2
NVDA+f2
none
Tells NVDA to pass the next key press straight through to the active application, even if it is normally treeted as an NVDA key command
Toggle application sleep mode on and off
NVDA+shift+s
NVDA+shift+z
none
sleep mode disables all NVDA commands and speech/braille output for the current application. This is most useful in applications that provide their own speech or screen reading features. Press this command again to disable self voicing mode.
Reporting System Information
Name
key
Description
Report date/time
NVDA+f12
Pressing once reports the current time, pressing twice reports the date
Report battery status
NVDA+shift+b
Reports the battery status i.e. whether AC power is in use or the current charge percentage.
Report clipboard text
NVDA+c
Reports the Text in the clipboard if there is any.
Navigating with NVDA
Navigating with the System Focus
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Description
Report current focus
NVDA+tab
NVDA+tab
announces the current object or control that has the System focus. Pressing twice will spell the information
Report title
NVDA+t
NVDA+t
Reports the title of the currently active window. Pressing twice will spell the information. Pressing three times will copy it to the clipboard
Read active window
NVDA+b
NVDA+b
reads all the controls in the currently active window (useful for dialogs)
Report Status Bar
NVDA+end
NVDA+shift+end
Reports the Status Bar if NVDA finds one. It also moves the navigator object to this location
Navigating with the System Caret
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Description
Say all
NVDA+downArrow
NVDA+a
Starts reading from the current position of the system caret, moving it along as it goes
Read current line
NVDA+upArrow
NVDA+l
Reads the line where the system caret is currently situated. Pressing twice spells the line.
Read current text selection
NVDA+Shift+upArrow
NVDA+shift+s
Reads any currently selected text
When within a table, the following key commands are also available:
Name
Key
Description
Move to previous column
control+alt+leftArrow
Moves the system caret to the previous column (staying in the same row)
Move to next column
control+alt+rightArrow
Moves the system caret to the next column (staying in the same row)
Move to previous row
control+alt+upArrow
Moves the system caret to the previous row (staying in the same column)
Move to next row
control+alt+downArrow
Moves the system caret to the next row (staying in the same column)
Object Navigation
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Touch
Description
Report current object
NVDA+numpad5
NVDA+shift+o
none
Reports the current navigator object. Pressing twice spells the information, and pressing 3 times copies this object’s name and value to the clipboard.
Move to containing object
NVDA+numpad8
NVDA+shift+upArrow
flick up (object mode)
Moves to the object containing the current navigator object
Move to previous object
NVDA+numpad4
NVDA+shift+leftArrow
flick left (object mode)
Moves to the object before the current navigator object
Move to next object
NVDA+numpad6
NVDA+shift+rightArrow
flick right (object mode)
Moves to the object after the current navigator object
Move to first contained object
NVDA+numpad2
NVDA+shift+downArrow
flick down (object mode)
Moves to the first object contained by the current navigator object
Move to focus object
NVDA+numpadMinus
NVDA+backspace
none
Moves to the object that currently has the system focus, and also places the review cursor at the position of the System caret, if it is showing
Activate current navigator object
NVDA+numpadEnter
NVDA+enter
double tap
Activates the current navigator object (similar to clicking with the mouse or pressing space when it has the system focus)
Move System focus or caret to current review position
NVDA+shift+numpadMinus
NVDA+shift+backspace
none
pressed once Moves the System focus to the current navigator object, pressed twice moves the system caret to the position of the review cursor
Report navigator object dimensions
NVDA+numpadDelete
NVDA+delete
none
Reports the current navigator object’s dimensions on screen in per centages (including distance from left and top of screen, and its width and height)
Reviewing Text
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Touch
Description
Move to top line in review
shift+numpad7
NVDA+control+home
none
Moves the review cursor to the top line of the text
Move to previous line in review
numpad7
NVDA+upArrow
flick up (text mode)
Moves the review cursor to the previous line of text
Report current line in review
numpad8
NVDA+shift+.
none
Announces the current line of text where the review cursor is positioned. Pressing twice spells the line. Pressing three times spells the line using character descriptions.
Move to next line in review
numpad9
NVDA+downArrow
flick down (text mode)
Move the review cursor to the next line of text
Move to bottom line in review
shift+numpad9
NVDA+control+end
none
Moves the review cursor to the bottom line of text
Move to previous word in review
numpad4
NVDA+control+leftArrow
2-finger flick left (text mode)
Moves the review cursor to the previous word in the text
Report current word in review
numpad5
NVDA+control+.
none
Announces the current word in the text where the review cursor is positioned. Pressing twice spells the word. Pressing three times spells the word using character descriptions.
Move to next word in review
numpad6
NVDA+control+rightArrow
2-finger flick right (text mode)
Move the review cursor to the next word in the text
Move to start of line in review
shift+numpad1
NVDA+home
none
Moves the review cursor to the start of the current line in the text
Move to previous character in review
numpad1
NVDA+leftArrow
flick left (text mode)
Moves the review cursor to the previous character on the current line in the text
Report current character in review
numpad2
NVDA+.
none
Announces the current character on the line of text where the review cursor is positioned. Pressing twice reports a description or example of that character. Pressing three times reports the numeric value of the character in decimal and hexadecimal.
Move to next character in review
numpad3
NVDA+rightArrow
flick right (text mode)
Move the review cursor to the next character on the current line of text
Move to end of line in review
shift+numpad3
NVDA+end
none
Moves the review cursor to the end of the current line of text
Say all with review
numpadPlus
NVDA+shift+a
3-finger flick down (text mode)
Reads from the current position of the review cursor, moving it as it goes
Copy from review cursor
NVDA+f9
NVDA+f9
none
starts copying text from the current position of the review cursor. The actual copy is not performed until you tell NVDA where to copy to
Copy to review cursor
NVDA+f10
NVDA+f10
none
Copies from the position of the review cursor currently set with Copy from review cursor, to the review cursor’s current position. After pressing this key, the text will be copied to the Windows clipboard
Report text formatting
NVDA+f
NVDA+f
none
Reports the formatting of the text where the review cursor is currently situated
Flat Review
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Touch
Description
Move to flat review
NVDA+numpad7
NVDA+pageUp
2-finger flick up
Moves to flat review, placing you at the position of the current navigator object, allowing you to review the screen (or document if you are currently inside one) with the text review commands.
Move to object from flat review
NVDA+numpad1
NVDA+pageDown
2-finger flick down
navigates to the object represented by the text at the current position of the review cursor in flat review
Navigating with the Mouse
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Description
Left mouse button click
numpadDivide
NVDA+[
clicks the left mouse button once. The common double click can be performed by pressing this key twice in quick succession
Left mouse button lock
shift+numpadDivide
NVDA+control+[
Locks the left mouse button down. Press again to release it. To drag the mouse, press this key to lock the left button down and then move the mouse either physically or use one of the other mouse routing commands
Right mouse click
numpadMultiply
NVDA+]
Clicks the right mouse button once.
Right mouse button lock
shift+numpadMultiply
NVDA+control+]
Locks the right mouse button down. Press again to release it. To drag the mouse, press this key to lock the right button down and then move the mouse either physically or use one of the other mouse routing commands
Move mouse to current navigator object
NVDA+numpadDivide
NVDA+shift+m
Moves the mouse to the location of the current navigator object and review cursor
Navigate to the object under the mouse
NVDA+numpadMultiply
NVDA+shift+n
Set the navigator object to the object located at the position of the mouse
Browse Mode
Name
Key
Description
Toggle browse/focus modes
NVDA+space
Toggles between focus mode and browse mode
Exit focus mode
escape
switches back to browse mode if focus mode was previously switched to automatically
Refresh browse mode document
NVDA+f5
Reloads the current document content (useful if certain content seems to be missing from the document)
Find
NVDA+control+f
Pops up a dialog in which you can type some text to find in the current document
Find next
NVDA+f3
Finds the next occurrence of the text in the document that you previously searched for
Find previous
NVDA+shift+f3
Finds the previous occurrence of the text in the document you previously searched for
open long description
NVDA+d
Opens a new window containing a long description for the element you are on if it has one.
Single Letter Navigation
The following keys by themselves jump to the next available element, while adding the shift key causes them to jump to the previous element:
• h: heading
• l: list
• i: list item
• t: table
• k: link
• n: nonLinked text
• f: form field
• u: unvisited link
• v: visited link
• e: edit field
• b: button
• x: checkbox
• c: combo box
• r: radio button
• q: block quote
• s: separator
• m: frame
• g: graphic
• d: landmark
• o: embedded object
• 1 to 6: headings at levels 1 to 6 respectively
To move to the beginning or end of containing elements such as lists and tables:
Name
Key
Description
Move to start of container
shift+comma
Moves to the start of the container (list, table, etc.) where the caret is positioned
Move past end of container
comma
Moves past the end of the container (list, table, etc.) where the caret is positioned
The Elements List
Name
Key
Description
Browse mode elements list
NVDA+f7
Brings up the Elements list which contains links, headings and landmarks from the current document
Embedded Objects
Name
Key
Description
Move to containing browse mode document
NVDA+control+space
Moves the focus out of the current embedded object and into the document that contains it
Application Specific NVDA Commands
Microsoft Excel
Name
Key
Description
Set column headers
NVDA+shift+c
Pressing this once tells NVDA this is the row that contains column headers, which should be automatically announced when moving between columns below this row. Pressing twice will clear the setting.
Set row headers
NVDA+shift+r
Pressing this once tells NVDA this is the column that contains row headers, which should be automatically announced when moving between rows after this column. Pressing twice will clear the setting.
foobar2000
Name
Key
Description
Report remaining time
control+shift+r
Reports the remaining time of the currently playing track, if any.
Miranda IM
Name
Key
Description
Report recent message
NVDA+control+1-4
Reports one of the recent messages, depending on the number pressed; e.g. NVDA+control+2 reads the second most recent message.
Poedit
Name
Key
Description
Report Comments Window
control+shift+c
Reports any comments in the comments window.
Report automatic comments window
control+shift+a
Reports any comments in the automatic comments window.
Configuring NVDA
Preferences
Voice Settings (NVDA+control+v)
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Description
Punctuation/Symbol Level
NVDA+p
NVDA+p
This allows you to choose the amount of punctuation and other symbols that should be spoken as words.
Synth settings ring
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Description
Move to next synth setting
NVDA+control+rightArrow
NVDA+shift+control+rightArrow
Moves to the next available speech setting after the current, wrapping around to the first setting again after the last
Move to previous synth setting
NVDA+control+leftArrow
NVDA+shift+control+leftArrow
Moves to the next available speech setting before the current, wrapping around to the last setting after the first
Increment current synth setting
NVDA+control+upArrow
NVDA+shift+control+upArrow
increases the current speech setting you are on. E.g. increases the rate, chooses the next voice, increases the volume
Decrement current synth setting
NVDA+control+downArrow
NVDA+shift+control+downArrow
decreases the current speech setting you are on. E.g. decreases the rate, chooses the previous voice, decreases the volume
Braille Settings
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Description
Braille Tethered to
NVDA+control+t
NVDA+control+t
This option allows you to choose whether the braille display will follow the system focus, or whether it follows the navigator object / review cursor.
Keyboard Settings (NVDA+control+k)
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Description
Speak Typed Characters
NVDA+2
NVDA+2
When enabled, NVDA will announce all characters you type on the keyboard.
Speak Typed Words
NVDA+3
NVDA+3
When enabled, NVDA will announce all words you type on the keyboard.
Speak Command Keys
NVDA+4
NVDA+4
When enabled, NVDA will announce all non-character keys you type on the keyboard. This includes key combinations such as control plus another letter.
Mouse Settings (NVDA+control+m)
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Description
Enable mouse tracking
NVDA+m
NVDA+m
When enabled, NVDA will announce the text currently under the mouse pointer, as you move it around the screen. This allows you to find things on the screen, by physically moving the mouse, rather than trying to find them through object navigation.
Review Cursor Settings
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Description
Follow System Focus
NVDA+7
NVDA+7
When enabled, The review cursor will always be placed in the same object as the current system focus as it changes.
Follow System Caret
NVDA+6
NVDA+6
When enabled, the review cursor will automatically be moved to the position of the System caret each time it moves.
Object Presentation Settings (NVDA+control+o)
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Description
Progress bar output
NVDA+u
NVDA+u
This option controls how NVDA reports progress bar updates to you.
Report dynamic content changes
NVDA+5
NVDA+5
Toggles the announcement of new content in particular objects such as terminals and the history control in chat programs.
Browse Mode Settings (NVDA+control+b)
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Description
Use screen layout
NVDA+v
NVDA+v
This option allows you to specify whether content in browse mode should place content such as links and other fields on their own line, or if it should keep them in the flow of text as it is visually shown. If the option is enabled then things will stay as they are visually shown, but if it is disabled then fields will be placed on their own line.
Saving and Reloading the configuration
Name
Desktop key
Laptop key
Description
Save configuration
NVDA+control+c
NVDA+control+c
Saves your current configuration so that it is not lost when you exit NVDA
Revert configuration
NVDA+control+r
NVDA+control+r
Pressing once resets your configuration to when you last saved it. Pressing three times will reset it back to factory defaults.
Supported Braille Displays
Freedom Scientific Focus/PAC Mate Series
Name
Key
Scroll braille display back
topRouting1 (first cell on display)
Scroll braille display forward
topRouting20/40/80 (last cell on display)
Scroll braille display back
leftAdvanceBar
Scroll braille display forward
rightAdvanceBar
Toggle braille tethered to
leftGDFButton+rightGDFButton
Toggle left wiz wheel action
leftWizWheelPress
Move back using left wiz wheel action
leftWizWheelUp
Move forward using left wiz wheel action
leftWizWheelDown
Toggle right wiz wheel action
rightWizWheelPress
Move back using right wiz wheel action
rightWizWheelUp
Move forward using right wiz wheel action
rightWizWheelDown
Route to braille cell
routing
backspace key
dot7
enter key
dot8
shift+tab key
brailleSpaceBar+dot1+dot2
tab key
brailleSpaceBar+dot4+dot5
upArrow key
brailleSpaceBar+dot1
downArrow key
brailleSpaceBar+dot4
control+leftArrow key
brailleSpaceBar+dot2
control+rightArrow key
brailleSpaceBar+dot5
leftArrow
brailleSpaceBar+dot3
rightArrow key
brailleSpaceBar+dot6
home key
brailleSpaceBar+dot1+dot3
end key
brailleSpaceBar+dot4+dot6
control+home key
brailleSpaceBar+dot1+dot2+dot3
control+end key
brailleSpaceBar+dot4+dot5+dot6
alt key
brailleSpaceBar+dot1+dot3+dot4
alt+tab key
brailleSpaceBar+dot2+dot3+dot4+dot5
escape key
brailleSpaceBar+dot1+dot5
windows key
brailleSpaceBar+dot2+dot4+dot5+dot6
space key
brailleSpaceBar
windows+d key (minimize all applications)
brailleSpaceBar+dot1+dot2+dot3+dot4+dot5+dot6
Report Current Line
brailleSpaceBar+dot1+dot4
NVDA menu
brailleSpaceBar+dot1+dot3+dot4+dot5
For newer Focus models that contain rocker bar keys (focus 40, focus 80 and focus blue):
Name
Key
Move braille display to previous line
leftRockerBarUp, rightRockerBarUp
Move braille display to next line
leftRockerBarDown, rightRockerBarDown
For Focus 80 only:
Name
Key
Scroll braille display back
leftBumperBarUp, rightBumperBarUp
Scroll braille display forward
leftBumperBarDown, rightBumperBarDown
Optelec ALVA BC640/680
Name
Key
Scroll braille display back
t1
Move braille display to previous line
t2
Move braille display to next line
t4
Scroll braille display forward
t5
Route to braille cell
routing
shift+tab key
sp1
alt key
sp2
escape key
sp3
tab key
sp4
upArrow key
spUp
downArrow key
spDown
leftArrow key
spLeft
rightArrow key
spRight
enter key
spEnter
NVDA Menu
sp1+sp3
windows+d key (minimize all applications)
sp1+sp4
windows key
sp2+sp3
alt+tab key
sp2+sp4
Handy Tech Displays
Name
Key
Scroll braille display back
left, up
Scroll braille display forward
right, down
Move braille display to previous line
b4
Move braille display to next line
b5
Route to braille cell
routing
shift+tab key
esc
alt key
b2+b4+b5
escape key
b4+b6
tab key
enter
enter key
esc+enter
upArrow key
leftSpace
downArrow key
rightSpace
NVDA Menu
b2+b4+b5+b6
Handy Tech configuration
b4+b8
MDV Lilli
Name
Key
Scroll braille display backward
LF
Scroll braille display forward
RG
Move braille display to previous line
UP
Move braille display to next line
DN
Route to braille cell
route
shift+tab key
SLF
tab key
SRG
alt+tab key
SDN
alt+shift+tab key
SUP
Baum/Humanware/APH Braille Displays
Name
Key
Scroll braille display back
d2
Scroll braille display forward
d5
Move braille display to previous line
d1
Move braille display to next line
d3
Route to braille cell
routing
For displays which have a joystick:
Name
Key
upArrow key
up
downArrow key
down
leftArrow key
left
rightArrow key
right
enter key
select
hedo ProfiLine USB
Name
Key
Scroll braille display back
K1
Scroll braille display forward
K3
Move braille display to previous line
B2
Move braille display to next line
B5
Route to braille cell
routing
Toggle braille tethered to
K2
Say all
B6
hedo MobilLine USB
Name
Key
Scroll braille display back
K1
Scroll braille display forward
K3
Move braille display to previous line
B2
Move braille display to next line
B5
Route to braille cell
routing
Toggle braille tethered to
K2
Say all
B6
HumanWare Brailliant BI/B Series
Name
Key
Scroll braille display back
left
Scroll braille display forward
right
Move braille display to previous line
up
Move braille display to next line
down
Route to braille cell
routing
Toggle braille tethered to
up+down
upArrow key
space+dot1
downArrow key
space+dot4
leftArrow key
space+dot3
rightArrow key
space+dot6
NVDA Menu
c1+c3+c4+c5 (command n)
shift+tab key
space+dot1+dot3
tab key
space+dot4+dot6
alt key
space+dot1+dot3+dot4 (space+m)
escape key
space+dot1+dot5 (space+e)
enter key
dot8
windows+d key (minimize all applications)
c1+c4+c5 (command d)
windows key
space+dot3+dot4
alt+tab key
space+dot2+dot3+dot4+dot5 (space+t)
Say all
c1+c2+c3+c4+c5+c6
HIMS Braille Sense/Braille EDGE Series
Name
Key
Scroll braille display back
left side scroll down
Scroll braille display forward
right side scroll down
Move braille display to previous line
left side scroll up
Move braille display to next line
right side scroll up
Route to braille cell
routing
shift+tab key
dot1+dot2+space
alt key
dot1+dot3+dot4+Space
escape key
dot1+dot5+Space
tab key
dot4+dot5+Space
enter key
dot8
backspace key
dot7
upArrow key
dot1+Space
downArrow key
dot4+Space
capsLock
dot1+dot3+dot6+space
shift+alt+tab key
advance2+advance3+advance1
alt+tab key
advance2+advance3
end key
dot4+dot6+space
Control+end key
dot4+dot5+dot6+space
home key
dot1+dot3+space
control+home key
dot1+dot2+dot3+space
leftArrow key
dot3+space
control+shift+leftArrow key
dot2+dot8+space+advance1
control+leftArrow key
dot2+space
shift+alt+leftArrow key
dot2+dot7+advance1
alt+leftArrow key
dot2+dot7
rightArrow key
dot6+space
control+shift+rightArrow key
dot5+dot8+space+advance1
control+rightArrow key
dot5+space
shift+alt+rightArrow key
dot5+dot7+advance1
alt+rightArrow key
dot5+dot7
pageUp key
dot1+dot2+dot6+space
control+pageUp key
dot1+dot2+dot6+dot8+space
control+shift+upArrow key
dot2+dot3+dot8+space+advance1
control+upArrow key
dot2+dot3+space
shift+alt+upArrow key
dot2+dot3+dot7+advance1
alt+upArrow key
dot2+dot3+dot7
shift+upArrow key
left side scroll down + space
pageDown key
dot3+dot4+dot5+space
control+pagedown key
dot3+dot4+dot5+dot8+space
control+shift+downArrow key
dot5+dot6+dot8+space+advance1
control+downArrow key
dot5+dot6+space
shift+alt+downArrow key
dot5+dot6+dot7+advance1
alt+downArrow key
dot5+dot6+dot7
shift+downArrow key
right side scroll down + space
delete key
dot1+dot3+dot5+space
f1 key
dot1+dot2+dot5+space
f3 key
dot1+dot2+dot4+dot8
f4 key
dot7+advance3
windows+b key
dot1+dot2+advance1
windows+d key
dot1+dot4+dot5+advance1
HIMS SyncBraille
Name
Key
Scroll braille display back
left side scroll down
Scroll braille display forward
right side scroll down
Route to braille cell
routing
Seika Braille Displays
Name
Key
Scroll braille display back
left
Scroll braille display forward
right
Move braille display to previous line
b3
Move braille display to next line
b4
Toggle braille tethered to
b5
Say all
b6
tab
b1
shift+tab
b2
alt+tab
b1+b2
NVDA Menu
left+right
Route to braille cell
routing
Papenmeier BRAILLEX Newer Models
Name
Key
Scroll braille display back
left
Scroll braille display forward
right
Move braille display to previous line
up
Move braille display to next line
dn
Route to braille cell
routing
Report current character in review
l1
Activate current navigator object
l2
Move to flat review/focus
r1
Report title
l1+up
Report Status Bar
l2+down
Move to containing object
up2
Move to first contained object
dn2
Move to previous object
left2
Move to next object
right2
Report text formatting
upper routing row
Name
Key
backspace key
dot 7
enter key
dot 8
escape key
space with dot 7
upArrow key
space with dot 2
leftArrow key
space with dot 1
rightArrow key
space with dot 4
downArrow
space with dot 5
control key
lt+dot2
alt key
lt+dot3
control+escape key
space with dot 1 2 3 4 5 6
tab key
space with dot 3 7
Papenmeier Braille BRAILLEX Older Models
Devices with EAB:
Name
Key
Scroll braille display back
left
Scroll braille display forward
right
Move braille display to previous line
up
Move braille display to next line
dn
Route to braille cell
routing
Report current character in review
l1
Activate current navigator object
l2
Move to flat review / focus
r1
Report title
l1up
Report Status Bar
l2down
Move to containing object
up2
Move to first contained object
dn2
Move to next object
right2
Move to previous object
left2
Report text formatting
Upper routing strip
BRAILLEX Tiny:
Name
Key
Report current character in review
l1
Activate current navigator object
l2
Scroll braille display back
left
Scroll braille display forward
right
Move braille display to previous line
up
Move braille display to next line
dn
Toggle braille tethered to
r2
Move to flat review / focus
r1
Move to containing object
r1+up
Move to first contained object
r1+dn
Move to previous object
r1+left
Move to next object
r1+right
Report text formatting
reportf
BRAILLEX 2D Screen:
Name
Key
Report current character in review
l1
Activate current navigator object
l2
Toggle braille tethered to
r2
Report text formatting
reportf
Move braille display to previous line
up
Scroll braille display back
left
Move to flat review / focus
r1
Scroll braille display forward
right
Move braille display to next line
dn
Move to next object
left2
Move to containing object
up2
Move to first contained object
dn2
Move to previous object
right2
HumanWare BrailleNote
Name
Key
Scroll braille display back
back
Scroll braille display forward
advance
Move braille display to previous line
previous
Move braille display to next line
next
Route to braille cell
routing
Toggle braille tethered to
previous+next
Up arrow key
space+dot1
Down arrow key
space+dot4
Left Arrow key
space+dot3
Right arrow key
space+dot6
Page up key
space+dot1+dot3
Page down key
space+dot4+dot6
Home key
space+dot1+dot2
End key
space+dot4+dot5
Control+home keys
space+dot1+dot2+dot3
Control+end keys
space+dot4+dot5+dot6
Space key
space
Enter key
space+dot8
Backspace key
space+dot7
Tab key
space+dot2+dot3+dot4+dot5 (space+t)
Shift+tab keys
space+dot1+dot2+dot5+dot6
Windows key
space+dot2+dot4+dot5+dot6 (space+w)
Alt key
space+dot1+dot3+dot4 (space+m)
Toggle input help
space+dot2+dot3+dot6 (space+lower h)
BRLTTY
Name
BRLTTY command
Scroll braille display back
fwinlt (go left one window)
Scroll braille display forward
fwinrt (go right one window)
Move braille display to previous line
lnup (go up one line)
Move braille display to next line
lndn (go down one line)
Route to braille cell
route (bring cursor to character)

Also, watch this terrific video by our friends at NVAccess:

http://tinyurl.com/al8q4ec

Follow @NVaccess on Twitter, then go to NVaccess.org and donate!

LL

Tools of choice in the fight for equal access: sledgehammer vs. constructive engagement


Amongst the many topics listed in my open file of future articles and other writing projects, you would not find the topic about which I am writing today. In fact, even if I was forced to augment the list by including unsavory subject matter such as disabled abuse or institutionalization, I would have avoided adding this topic. Not because I have nothing to say on the matter, but because I’m not so sure I can express myself in a way that is logical and articulate. It seems that the more removed a topic from my personal feelings, the more easily I am able to make a point. Yet, when it’s time for me to write about a topic which is philosophical, and may differ from the opinions of others, I veer off into the land of couching and justifications. Unlike so many who can write using language learned from having been steeped in academia, I have not learned the glib rejection of an argument as illogical, nor have I developed the thick skin necessary to take criticism of my core beliefs and shake it off. As a result, the final version of this post is likely to be a well watered-down version of the original draft. In a way, that’s a real shame, but I try to resist editorializing here, even though that is one purpose of this platform. The problem is, I’m a listener, and a thinker, not an arguer. It isn’t that I stand for nothing, it’s that I’m willing to take into consideration another viewpoint, which may make my own arguments appear weaker.

The day I began this post was a very interesting one for me. I found myself in discussions (or, more accurately, debates), with fellow persons who are blind, who might well have considered themselves to be intellectually or morally authoritative. These are people with whom one can win no argument, as there is no winning, there is only debate for the sport of it. Gratuitous argument is not my way. I love a spirited debate as much as the next person, but only if the exchange is not conducted at the expense of another’s dignity. One learns in marriage, for example, that going straight for the jugular, seeking to crush the spouse as though they are the enemy, reducing the partner by way of condescension and contempt is a fast track to marital dissolution. This, for the academics in my audience who would demand a source, is from Dr Gottman’s research at his Relationship Institute. Dr. John Gottman is the nation’s foremost researcher in marriage and parenting. He often refers to contempt as one of the “four horseman of the apocalypse” when it comes to argument. Admittedly, this is in reference to marriage, and not meant as one of the tools of successful intellectual debate, but I haven’t taken debate class since high school, so I may be at a disadvantage.

What does any of this have to do with a blog about accessibility? Everything, if you follow some of the important issues that affect people with disabilities every day. Within the disability community, there is an ongoing disagreement as to the nature of the techniques that should be used as a way to enforce compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. I found myself unexpectedly involved in such a debate, and just as unexpectedly feeling dissatisfied with the substance of that debate. It’s not that I maintained an opposing viewpoint, rather, it’s that I found that I was in fact, not agreeing strongly enough to suit the people with whom I was having that debate. Wow…I’ve never thought of myself as not feeling something strongly enough before. Typically, I’m advised to adopt a less reactionary position.

As is so often the case when we fall into the trap of the ease with which to express an opinion in 140 characters, remarks can tend to be more pointed than they might otherwise be, given more digital real estate. Brevity may be the soul of wit, but it is also the soul of insult and offense.

On May 14th, 2013, there was a full committee hearing on disability and accessible media, called The ADA and Entertainment Technologies: Improving Accessibility from the Movie Screen to Your Mobile Device. The hearing was streamed live. I watched the hearing with great interest, and commented via Twitter as I did so, while encouraging others to watch as well. I found the panel members to be articulate and reasoned in their comments, and I felt that the disability community was well represented by these advocates. The discussion that resulted on Twitter, however, and other discussion held offline, made me realize that I may need to examine my views about advocacy and the methods we use to gain equal access to the world.

Unwilling to go so far as to say, “one attracts more flies with honey,” I will say that my advocacy style has been one of constructive engagement, rather than one that requires use of a sledgehammer. That is not to say I do not own a sledgehammer, or that I see no value in using one, or that there is no place for a sledgehammer in one’s blunt-instrument drawer. Nor do I make any judgements about those who choose to use a hammer, the judicious use of which is admirable.

There is a long history of disagreement in the disability community regarding the best way to fight for equal access. Some believe that forcible compliance through litigation is the only way, since voluntary compliance is practically unheard of. Even with the passage of the ADA in 1990, the consensus in the community seems to be that progress has been slow, and that change has been affected only by way of threat of ruination through legal action. A friend with whom I found myself “debating” pointed out that there are no web site owners, none, who voluntarily comply with accessibility. I was incensed. “That’s ridiculous.” I said. “Name one,” he shot back. I couldn’t.

Surely, I thought, there is a company out there who voluntarily designed their web site to be accessible to people who have disabilities. “Not without the threat of a lawsuit, there isn’t.” My friend commented. “They wouldn’t bother if the law didn’t require it.”

“So, what are you saying?” I demanded. “The only way to have equal access is to hit people over the head with a hammer? what if they don’t know? Isn’t that what raising awareness is all about?”

With the unhurried pace of a predator toying with his prey, my friend said, “Amazon is aware. So are all the big players. But they don’t do anything about it until they have to. Being nice, writing letters, saying ‘pretty please’ has gotten us nowhere. It’s been twenty years.”

“But…but…there’s been progress,” I protested. “It’s a process. We can’t fix everything overnight. What about education? what about winning hearts and minds? Getting people on our side?” I felt my argument losing strength. Partially because at the center of his comment was an implicit accusation that my work is worthless, that I, and others like me, have proved to be a failure, and that all the awareness-raising in the world has not made a bit of difference. In fact, the words “sitting around and singing Kum Ba Yah,” came out of his mouth. Okay, minus 1 point for lack of originality.

He went on to point out a few interesting facts, which I will not bore you with here. I do want to point you to a couple of links from which to gather some statistics, should you ever need to do some research, cite a source, craft an argument. Keep in mind, though, the old joke that goes, “only lawyers and painters can change black to white.” Same goes for statistics. I think, though, that the Justice Department and the United Nations are at least somewhat reliable, so check out these links:

U. S. Department of Justice Accessibility report:

http://www.justice.gov/crt/508/report/content.php

United Nations Convention on Human Rights and Disability:

http://is.gd/PmlPrU

Ultimately, the question is one of approach. Do we begin to make changes by applying the least intrusive, education-oriented techniques, and only bring out the hammer as a last resort? This negotiated approach can sometimes take years to affect change, as is the case with businesses to which I have personally contacted. Sometimes, the response has been a sympathetic but impotent, “we’re so sorry, but we’re working on it, stay tuned” sort of response, other times it has been to placate me and then utterly ignore my complaint. There have been more than a few times, however, when I have been contacted by someone in the corporate hierarchy, who asked me for help right then and there, to find ways to make changes immediately. One company actually labeled a button within a few minutes of my request. Granted, all I wanted was an alt-tag, which took seconds to add, but they did it right away, then asked me to do some quick testing. Now, that’s responsive. No hammer required.

What about the small business, though, an ecommerce site that serves to be the only contact point for consumers, where the site developer was most likely the business owner’s college-age kid? He certainly cannot afford to hire an accessibility remediation expert, even if he was made aware of the web site usability shortcomings. I’ll just go out on a limb and use myself as an example here. I may regret this, but here I go.

I have a number of web properties, all of which fall into the pathetically inadequate, not one-hundred percent accessible column. Why? Because when I put the sites together, I didn’t know enough about programming to know what to ask for with regard to access, and while I was able to impart a certain amount of education as to alt-tags and headers, I quickly reached the limit of what to instruct my employee to do. Now, I’m in the awkward position of advocating for web accessibility when my own sites are barely navigable at best. As a small business owner, I lack the funds to hire someone to rebuild the sites with say, html5. What is this type of business owner to do?

One question I have to ask is, what is the real point of direct legal action? In my opinion, it should be more about making change, and less about pecuniary interest. Instead of merely filling the coffers of an advocacy organization, why not make those funds available for remediation assistance? That way, businesses who want to comply, yet lack the skills, or resources, can tap into these funds. That way, we can accomplish two things at once.

Back to the argument in favor of the hammer for a moment. In late 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) released a Report and Order implementing provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (“CVAA”) to ensure that people with disabilities have access to advanced communications services (“ACS”). Providers of ACS and manufacturers of equipment used for ACS will be required to make their products and services accessible to people with disabilities, unless it is not “achievable” to do so. Failure to comply results in fines of up to $100,000 per violation, or each day of a continuing violation up to a maximum of $1 million. Obviously, this is meant to be extremely punitive, and while I concede that this requirement is likely to affect only large companies, and that there appears to be a bit of wiggle room here, thanks to the use of the term “achievable,” one wonders if the only beneficiaries will be the lawyers and bureaucrats involved in the documentation, certification, and enforcement rules.

My concern about this type of action is that while it may force compliance, it may also create catastrophic hardship for a business that is unable to bear the cost, put established businesses in peril, and further solidify negative attitudes towards people with disabilities and the organizations that represent us as tyrannical or heavy-handed. Yet, perception seems to be the last concern of the advocates in favor of the hammer. Why does it matter what any company thinks of people with disabilities, it’s the law of the land. Comply, or you will be forced to do so.

What is problematic for me with regard to this type of thinking is that one thing we cannot legislate is the attitudinal barriers we must overcome as a result of systemic discrimination. Once the hammer falls, and the business has been litigated into compliance, there is no room left for goodwill. In the world in which I choose to live, I need there to exist compassion, forgiveness, and goodwill. For others, though, goodwill has no place in the framework of this argument.

I’ve built a career speaking to audiences about disability awareness and the need for equal access. I can tell you from personal experience that there is a line that can be crossed, no matter how justified your argument may be, where the group whom you are attempting to convince simply will cease to listen. Once we alienate others by shoving our views down their throat, they may do what they are required to do to make the noise go away, but they won’t like it, and there may be unintended consequences that we may suffer as a result. If you look at the civil rights movement as an example, African Americans are still fighting to overcome discrimination, despite gaining equal access over 40 years ago. What that tells me is that we have an attitudinal problem as well as an accessibility problem. Therefore, I believe there is a place for awareness education as well as constructive engagement as part of a negotiated solution.

The day after the Senate hearing and subsequent “debate,” I received a letter from one of the friends with whom I had a heated verbal exchange. He admitted that my compassionate approach had merit, and that he had been thinking about our conversation, and realized that the awareness component should be included as part of an action plan for developers. He wrote:

“I’ve started sketching out a blog piece about a multi-stage approach to web accessibility that begins with a compassionate approach to site publishers. I agree that we first need to educate. It would probably be good if the highly visible advocacy organizations who are rightfully pushing for accessibility also offered remediation steps on their web sites.

For most web sites, accessibility can be done pretty easily by a novice to both accessibility and web development. From googling around, I could find a number of web validation and repair tools. Some of these are no cost and I’ve no idea how to judge which are good and which aren’t. Nonetheless, NFB, ACB and AFB, as far as I can tell, have nothing on their web sites giving a basic set of steps for a person to try to do their own remediation. I could envision a tutorial for individuals, small businesses, mid-sized and even enormous sites. It should include links to the standards and guidelines but not be filled with the sort of jargon that goes into such things. I guess, I’m admitting that you were more right than I thought yesterday. During our conversation, I added the constructive engagement to my set of steps for approaching web developers; today, I’ve added your awareness component.”

My friend went on to point out that if there was a simple English set of steps for web site remediation, something that anyone who uses WordPress could follow, more of the non-technical site owners would do it. He also wrote:

“I also think that our web consultant friends do the community a disservice. I don’t begrudge them their big hourly rates but I think they intentionally try to maintain a level of mystery surrounding the topic so they can maintain their guru status. None of them has a page on their sites saying, most people cannot afford our services and we work for wealthy businesses with very complicated needs. You, however, can probably do your own site remediation if you follow these simple steps: 1. For WordPress, 2. For Drupal, 3. For Joomla, etc. I think this is the dirty little secret of web accessibility, it’s relatively easy. Obviously, for it to be easy to the gal on the street, though, it needs easy documentation, something that my searches did not find.”

Finally, my friend wrote: “So, yes, awareness is probably even more important than legislation and should certainly come sooner in the process than filing complaints or taking direct legal action through a suit,” he concluded.

Great. One down, six billion to go.

The irony here is that my use of constructive engagement with regard to this conversation netted a fought-for result. This proved to be the case on Twitter as well, when an exchange began with, “hammer all the way,” and finally concluded, 18 direct messages later, with “constructive engagement is the only way.” Maybe mine is a velvet hammer.

To see a replay of the Senate hearing, go here:

http://tinyurl.com/aqf5dm4

For your own edification, here is a link to a timeline of disability rights by Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_disability_rights_in_the_United_States

LL

Boo! Come on, you know you want to. Check out Audioboo, an audio sharing platform


What on Earth is Audioboo? Audioboo is a sharing platform that allows users to record and post audio on the fly, from anywhere, using just about any device. Individuals from morning deejays, and random deejay wannabees, to big companies like The Guardian, use Audioboo to post and share their content. you can follow your favorites to hear short installments of audio “boos,” as they are called. The service is free to use for everyone, as long as you are willing to limit the length of your recordings to 3 minutes. If you need more time, you can pay for a monthly subscription, and get 30 minutes per recording. As you browse the site, you can read the show notes and profile info of the person who recorded the boo, and you can subscribe to, or follow, their offerings.

You can also download an app for your IOS device. The original app, simply called Audioboo, can be downloaded from the Apple app store. There is another version of the app, meant to be an update, called Audioboo2, which you will also find in the app store. There seems to be only superficial differences between the two apps, and of the two, I prefer the original, since it seems slightly more straightforward. I have no idea, however, how long Audioboo plans to continue to support the original app.

For my small business, Elegant Insights Braille Creations, (@ElegantInsights), I plan to use Audioboo as a sort of audio catalog. I will provide company news, product descriptions, style tips and vision-related convention and events news. You can follow my boos here:

http://www.audioboo.fm/ElegantInsights

Here’s another fun tip: Do you like to listen to podcasts? If you have an Apple device and like to download and listen to favorite podcasts using Downcast or another podcatcher, you can hear the Elegant Insights Audio catalog, or any of your favorites, as a podcast! In fact, if you are reading this on your Apple device right now, just tap on this link:

http://audioboo.fm/users/1248733/boos.rss

and your favorite podcatcher should recognize the feed URL, open, and subscribe you automatically. Now, whenever I publish a new recording, it will automatically download into your device along with your other podcasts. It doesn’t get much easier than that. Audioboo provides the RSS feed URL, as well as the URL to the user profile page for users who want to follow their favorites on multiple device types and platforms.

If you don’t have an Apple device, and none of the above appeals to you, fret not. you won’t be left out. I’ve attached the Audioboo account to Twitter, so if you follow me @ElegantInsights on Twitter, you’ll see the tweets with the link to the recording in your Twitterstream. Just click the link, and you can hear me right from Twitter. You can also share your boos on Facebook. Audioboo currently does not support FB business pages, but you can attach your own audioboos to your FB profile page for your family and friends.

Randy Rusnak, (@thebigr), long-time audio engineer, co-host and producer of the Accessible Devices podcast (www.accessibledevices.com), has used Audioboo for years. Randy is certified by the State of Minnesota as a technology instructor, and he uses Audioboo to augment his podcasts by offering short tips and reviews of a variety of assistive technologies.

Recently, he posted a terrific boo in counterpoint to the excellent “Siri vs. Google voice” showdown as published by Applevis. You can hear the Applevis podcast here:

http://www.applevis.com/podcast/episodes/siri-versus-google-voice-search-which-better

and then listen to Randy’s satirical version here:

http://t.co/7LnR7C5V82

You can follow Randy’s boos by going here:

http://www.audioboo.fm/thebigr and click follow.

While Audioboo has been around for several years, I only recently became aware of it when I spotted Randy’s uploads on Twitter. Then, I read an article about Audioboo recently published in the Sacramento Bee, describing how Audioboo is rapidly becoming a social platform of choice amongst the blind and visually impaired community. Read it here:

http://is.gd/R6I1zm

A great feature of Audioboo is that you can not only publish to a group of followers, but you can send private direct messages as well. Uploading a recording is easiest when done using an Apple device, but you can record and upload directly on the Audioboo web site. The apss and web site are accessible and support Voice Over on your IOS device.

Hope to hear from you soon!

LL

Blogging Against Disablism 2013: The Adversity of Anything


I was sitting across the desk from my high-school advisor, who was officiously scrutinizing the completed applications I intended to submit to the universities of my choice. She sat back, and, peering at me over her horn-rimmed, half glasses, she announced, “You may as well go to the local community college, and not bother with this. From where I sit, Miss…uh,.” she paused, distractedly shuffling through papers, trying to find my name, then continued: “Laura, is it? Because I doubt you’ll ever amount to…anything.”

Later, while attending the four-year university of my choice, and thinking ahead as to my career, I aggressively sought full-time, gainful employment. Overcoming the barriers imposed by small minds required a patience I didn’t know I possessed. Sitting in the office of a potential employer, I was asked, “Come on, now. What can you people really do? if you can’t see, how can you really do…anything?”

After being invited to speak at my City Hall to a group of officials conducting a workshop on community access, the meeting facilitator briefly interviewed each speaker as to their credentials, for the benefit of the attendees. As the only speaker on the panel who was disabled, I was advocating for reasonable accommodations as per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Each speaker was asked about their vocation and qualifications. Upon turning to me, she said, “And what is it that you like to do with your time, dear? What is it that you do for work? Or, do you do anything?”

Sometimes, when we hear stories of people who have overcome adversity, we hear tales of epic struggles, like those we see in movies. Much of the time, though, what stands in our way can be subtler, not so much a battle as a series of slights, or the persistent pressure we might experience through chronic adverse circumstances, such as poverty or isolation. To overcome the adversity of anything, you need to know your strengths, identify allies, seek out heroes and be open to the idea that you are your best advocate.

Identify your strongest supporters. you may be disheartened to realize that this may not include family, or even close friends. While this can be devastating to anyone seeking self-sufficiency, keep in mind that your loved one’s lack of support may be due to reasons that have less to do with you or your decision to become independent. Sometimes, we become so deeply entrenched in our expected roles, especially in families or close relationships, that when we make changes, this can inadvertently cause the role of the other person to become redefined. If, for example, your spouse or loved one has become accustomed to managing certain aspects of your life, she may feel she is fulfilling a purpose. One friend confided in me, after deciding to move from the East coast to the West coast that his mother wailed, “Now, what am I supposed to do?” Sometimes, we find out the hard way that our families are not our best support system. If this is the case for you, then find support elsewhere. Seek out friends, peer counseling, outreach services, a like-minded online social network.

Find the people who are doing what you want to do, and contact them directly to learn how they overcame barriers. Don’t be intimidated. If you are rejected or dismissed, realize that is not the kind of person you want to emulate, and any advice they would offer would only be tainted by their ego, and not offered generously in the spirit of elevating others. Try to keep in mind, though, that not everyone wants to be the “poster child” for disability, and that their non-responsiveness may be due to the fact that they, too, are still finding their own way forward. Once, I wrote to a high profile entrepreneur who dominated his industry, and who shared my particular form of vision loss. Since I admired this person a great deal, I not only wrote to him, but attempted to meet with him in hope of learning how he had conquered the attitudinal barriers I knew he faced everyday, and a further hope that he might offer some sage advice. Unfortunately, I never heard a word from him, and I was deeply disappointed. Later, I learned that he carefully guarded his public persona, to the degree that he micro-managed the means by which he interacted with people, to the point that he insisted he never be seen using a white cane, and that he was always seated or situated in place first in any meeting conditions, so that he should never appear weak or disadvantaged in any way.

Consider disability-specific education or retraining. When it became necessary for me to begin using a white cane, my department of services for the blind vocational rehabilitation counselor insisted I attend a school for blind adults. at first, I refused. I was strongly independent, and in my opinion, attending a school for the blind would only define me as a person who was blind, a label I desperately wished to avoid. It took quite a bit of convincing before I agreed to go. I won’t go so far as to say I arrived kicking and screaming, but I was not exactly willing to embrace the situation. My attendance at the school for the blind completely changed my life. It is where I learned my love of advocacy, it was the genesis of my passion for educating others. It is where I learned the meaning of dignity and what it means to ascend to meet your circumstances. I expected to learn Braille, independent living and cane mobility skills. but it was what I had not expected to learn, from which I benefited the most.

Overcoming adversity doesn’t always mean that the barriers are external. Sometimes, it is the inner conflict, our personal narrative, playing on the endless loop of our subconscious, that holds us back. Those private, negative messages may have begun early in childhood, through social conditioning, parental expectations, or catalytic events. If it were true that time heals all wounds, then psychologists’ offices wouldn’t be filled with adults seeking to heal childhood hurts. Our jails wouldn’t be filled with precious human beings who couldn’t find a productive way to cope with their circumstances and manage their lives. Social media wouldn’t be a labyrinth of nonexistent personas desperately seeking to manifest the celebrity, excitement, success, or attention that is missing from their real lives. It is when we permit ourselves to be defined by the external that we are weakened, because we are then vulnerable to the vicissitudes of opinion. It is perhaps the greatest struggle in our lives that we must find out who we are, and live our lives on our own terms, with our own sense of purpose. It is only then that you will be able to overcome the adversity of anything.

About the author: Laura Legendary is a speaker, author, and educator specializing in disability awareness, accessibility, advocacy, and assistive technology. Learn more at her flagship site, Eloquent Insights, www.eloquentinsights.com. More recently, Laura has been working on a start-up enterprise, Elegant Insights Braille Creations. To read product descriptions and sign up on the mailing list, go to www.elegantinsightsjewelry.com, or find the Elegant Insights page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Elegant.Insights.

You are welcome to leave a comment or link to your own BADD 2013 submission in the comments section. Please use the accessible contact form on the blog home page if you would like to write to me directly.

Previous BADD posts:

2010: You Don’t Look Blind

http://tinyurl.com/26dam92

2011: It’s on Aisle 5

http://tinyurl.com/d5m9egg

2012: Your Ingenius Life

http://tinyurl.com/cyp36wg

Thanks for reading, and fight on.

LL

Need access to better nutrition? There’s an app for that


Kel Smith, author of the just-released “Digital Outcasts,” and about whom you will soon read more here on the Accessible Insights Blog, has been reaching out to his fans, friends and colleagues in an effort to bring attention to a great cause. Just this morning, Kel sent out information about his project, and I was so eager to get the details to my readers that I asked Kel if I could post excerpted content of his email below. Want to make a real difference in the health and well-being of people with limited access to nutritious food? Read on to find out how.

Kel’s project is called Aisle Won. For screen reader users, note that the spelling is w o n, as opposed to the numeral one. It’s a combination mobile app and outreach program to connect people living in “food deserts” with sources of healthy, affordable food. Kel has been developing this for the past year or so, and just launched the pilot. Now, he is reaching out to folks to help spread the word.

Kel writes: “An estimated 23.5 million Americans live in food deserts and rely on unhealthy sources of nutrition, such as corner bodegas and fast food restaurants. To say that this is a health problem of growing national concern would be an understatement. For people with disabilities who cannot leave their homes, it’s an even greater burden.”

Here’s how it works: shoppers place an order and check a map to see where locally-grown produce is available in their neighborhood. They can maximize purchases according to individual budgetary and dietary needs. They can also peruse recipes that are delicious and easy to prepare. Local urban farms, then, expand their reach into more areas. Everybody wins.

Anikto completely self-funded the first pilot, now being launched in the Clifton Park section of northeast Baltimore. “We have participating support from the Mayor’s Civic Works office and a six-acre plot called Real Food Farm.” Smith says. “To get Aisle Won to the next level, though, I’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Wednesday was the first day and we already gathered 10% of our goal!”

So … if you follow nutrition literacy, are interested in urban farming, or just appreciate the importance of healthy eating — then please go to:

http://igg.me/at/aisle-won/x/3047094 where you’ll see details of the campaign, which will be live for 40 days. Please contribute to this delicious cause!

Connect with Kel:

215.285.2274
Kel.Smith@anikto.com

http://anikto.com

@KelSmith on Twitter
@DigitalOutcasts for info on Kel’s new book.
“Digital Outcasts: Moving Technology Forward Without Leaving People Behind”

http://digital-outcasts.com

Maintain situational awareness while accessing audio input with AfterShokz


Sometimes, a good sales pitch can begin with a story. What follows is a story about someone I met at the recent CSUN13 conference. If you can stay with me until the end, I will try to make it worth your while.

One morning during the conference week while sitting alone at the Grand Hyatt Starbucks, at a tiny table adjacent to the busy lobby coffee bar, a voice said, “Excuse me, Mind if I join you?”

I looked up. “Of course not,” I answered, hurriedly clearing away the detritus of my coffee and muffin. “Thanks,” he said. “Tables are at a premium here.”

We introduced ourselves, and he asked if I was attending the conference. I said yes, then realized that I had not noticed that he was using a service dog, nor did he seem to have a white cane. “Are you?” I asked. “Are you exhibiting? A vendor?”

“Not exactly,” he explained. “But I’m here to market my product to the blind community. Here. Let me show you.” Then, he placed something on the table in front of me. “It’s a pair of headphones,” he said.

I picked up a feather-light, super-streamlined piece of gear, noticing immediately that it resembled no pair of headphones I had ever seen. “They’re called bone-conduction headphones,” he continued. “Let me put them on you.” He placed the headphones around the back of my neck, placing what would normally be the portion worn over the ears at my temporal bone instead. Then, I experienced a surreal sensation. I was hearing both full volume music coming from the headphones, along with the ambient noise of the crowded coffee shop. I could…feel…the sound, while not only hearing it, but also being fully aware of the activity around me.

Dennis Taussig is the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer VP of AfterShokz, a company that has produced the world’s first open ear bone -conduction headphones for runners, cyclists, sports enthusiasts, and now, thanks to the blind community, an ingenious application for us, too.   
 
Originally, the technology was created by VoxTech, one of the leading companies in the world to supply this technology to the military.  Dennis worked on a number of projects with the principle of Voxtech, and one day Dennis was contacted to find out if a consumer version of this technology was possible.  Within months, a company was formed, and AfterShokz made it’s debut at the Consumer Electronics show )International CES in January, 2012. 
 
AfterShokz bone- conduction headphones are ideal for anyone who wants to maintain situational awareness while still listening to important audio cues, such as that which is provided by text-to-speech GPS navigation devices.  You can travel to your destination while hearing instructions from your iPad or iPhone, listen to music or a podcast while on a bus, or work out at the gym to your favorite motivational guru and still hear the tap of your white cane, the driver call out your bus stop, or your personal trainer counting off the reps.  It’s a fascinating product, and Dennis credits the blind community with providing the ideas that expanded the business. 
 
“I was getting calls from people who are blind,” says Taussig.  “And they kept asking if the headphones could be used with their Bluetooth devices for navigation.” 
 
Since his exposure to the disability community, Dennis has gone “all in” with respect to his commitment to accessibility.  He volunteers at Syracuse University working with disabled students, and he has assisted educators to enable their blind students to learn math by providing the headphones so that the students can hear their screen reader and the professor at the same time.  “They’re not cut off from the teacher, nor the teacher from them,” Dennis explains. 
 
The sonification lab at Georgia Tech has conducted a study on teaching systems for blind students, who are learning math graphing using audio.
AfterShokz is providing equipment for the testing, enabling the students to hear the sonification and teacher at the same time.
 
Dennis wants these headphones to be available to all of us, and he is so emphatic that they should not be financially out of reach that he has permitted me to offer my readers a generous discount towards the purchase of AfterShokz.  Go to the AfterShokz web site at www.aftershokz.com and choose from one of several models.  If you’d like to be able to make/take calls, order the Sportz M2 which features a microphone. If you require a headset that isBluetooth compatible, choose Bluez. Enter LL40 at checkout, and you’ll get 40% off the price.  No, I do not financially benefit, I just want my readers to experience the AfterShokz phenomenon.  Since I know my geek friends love a good technical specifications deck, just write to me using the accessible contact form on the page, and I’ll send you product data sheets on the different models, along with spec info.
 
Don’t forget to enter LL40 when you check out to save some serious coin. 
 
LL   
 

Blogging Against Disablism Day is May 1st, 2013


It’s time to start thinking about your contribution to the annual, international, “Blogging Against Disablism” day. Each year for the past several years, I’ve submitted an article associated with this event. Blogging Against Disablism Day, or BADD for short, is a way bloggers from around the world raise their voices in a concert of commentary about discrimination, disability, ability, inclusion, employment, trials, triumphs, and what it means to experience life with a disability from a singularly profound point of view…your own.

Write an essay, post it on your blog or web site, and on May 1st, read posts from other bloggers from all over the world who are sharing their stories. First, though, go to the BADD 2013 page and make a comment that you intend to participate. Your article will be linked to, and also tweeted, throughout the day. You can follow @BADDtweets for news and info about the event, and be sure to use hashtag #BADD2013 when you tweet about your post, or RT that of others. Come back here to the Accessible Insights Blog to read my offering, and feel free to link to your own post in the comments section here, too.

Read more about the event here:

http://blobolobolob.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/blogging-against-disablism-day-2013.html

See you May 1st!

LL

Author’s note: As an update to the above, I urge you to go to the BADD page and read the entry. As a result of a Twitter conversation that involved the use of the word “disablism,” I must point out that, in the post describing the event, there is a well-written explanation of the need for ‘linguistic amnesty.” The author makes the point that everyone brings to the table differing values as to effective and inclusive language, some of which may be off-putting or offensive to others. I almost asked permission to quote the text in it’s entirety, because I found it to be so valuable, but I’d rather you go to the BADD post and read it for yourself. it’s important that we do not allow ourselves to get bogged down by one another’s choice of words. I’m not saying it’s trivial, I just think we need to allow for a wide latitude on a day involving submissions from around the world, from places where use of what we might consider to be arcane terms may still be the norm. ~ LL