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Assistive technology news and info.

Amedia Releases Updated Version of their Realtime iPhone OCR App


by J.J. Meddaugh

Amedia Corporation, a Japanese assistive technology company, has released an rebranded and updated version of its OCR app for iOS. Amedia Live Reader offers realtime OCR in a variety of languages and can be used to read both printed documents and objects further away such as street signs, according to the press release.

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Posted Tuesday, 07-Jun-2016 5:12 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Your Passion for Braille Could be Worth a lot of Money, even if you Live in North America


by Scott Davert

As I reported in March, the RNIB hosted their region's version of the Onkyo Braille Contest. However, if you were looking to enter the contest and live in North America, for example, you couldn't enter in to the contest at that time.

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Posted Thursday, 02-Jun-2016 8:21 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Not Eligible for JAWS Student Edition? You Still may be Able to get a Discount on JAWS and Magic


by Scott Davert

The National Federation of the Blind released the agenda for their 2016 convention on Wednesday. While it's packed with info, just like each year, there is also another headline here.

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Posted Thursday, 02-Jun-2016 2:30 PM ET in News     3 comments

Want to go to Orlando in January? ATIA may be Just the Excuse you Need


by Scott Davert

Registration is now open for those who are interested in attending the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference in Orlando. The 2017 edition will be held from January 19--21 in Orlando. Saturday will be a half day, while Thursday and Friday will be full days. Attendee registration prices start at $100 for a half day Saturday and go up from there. More information can be found on the registration fees page.

If you wish to attend the entire conference, and feel you would be well suited to a presentation, you can earn a discount by contributing to the conference itself. If this is an idea you want to pursue, the call for presentations remains open until June 17. Find out more information by going to the above link. While we won't be able to bring you the warmer weather if you can't attend, Blind Bargains will bring you information from the conference as it happens.

Posted Wednesday, 01-Jun-2016 8:25 PM ET in News     Post a comment

New Bradley Element from Eone Time Offers a Premium Watch Design at a Premium Price


by J.J. Meddaugh

Eone Time continues to release variations on the Bradley, the tactile watch which uses magnetized ball bearings to allow a blind person to identify the current time. The new bradley Element features a 3-dimentional surface at a premium price. According to the description, "The topography of the watch face contours toward each marker in alternating raised and lowered impressions. The redesigned case body is engineered from highly durable, scratch-resistant ceramic and is coated with a PVD plating, adding an extra level of durability." It also features an adjustable, stainless steel mesh strap and an all-black matte finish. The Element will ship in early June for $395. Follow the source link to learn more or to place an order. Thanks to Ka for the tip.

Posted Wednesday, 01-Jun-2016 2:17 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Games for Everybody Offers Let's Play Videos with Audio Description


by J.J. Meddaugh

Let's Play videos are a popular trend where gamers will post videos of titles they're playing so others can watch and follow along. Now, a YouTube poster who calls himself Matt has started a new series of Let's Play videos which do the same thing, but with audio descriptions of the action. The Games for Everybody YouTube channel currently features several walkthroughs of his first title, Undertail, a role-playing video game nominated for several awards. Matt both describes the scenes that play out during the game and also reads text that appears.

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Posted Tuesday, 31-May-2016 5:29 PM ET in News     1 comment

Now Available, New $18 Tactile Caliber is a Unique Braille Ruler and Measurement Device


by J.J. Meddaugh

Another device announced at the CSUN conference is now available, and this one won't break the bank. National Braille Press is now shipping their $18 Tactile Caliper, a 12-inch ruler that can be used to accurately measure within 1/16 of an inch.
Here's a short description direct from NBP. "The winner of our 2013 Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation, this mechanical instrument looks like a traditional Vernier Caliper. Whole inches are embossed in braille across the top of the ruler, while fractions are dynamically displayed in braille on a sliding jaw – as you move the jaw, the braille refreshes to the nearest 16th of an inch."
We discussed the Tactile Caliper near the end of this CSUN podcast with CEO Brian McDonald.

Posted Tuesday, 31-May-2016 3:12 PM ET in News     1 comment

BrailleNote Touch Now Shipping at $5,495


by J.J. Meddaugh

You may have read our original post announcing the BrailleNote Touch. Many of you listened to our interview with Greg Stilson about the BrailleNote Touch at CSUN 2016. Perhaps you listened to the free audio tutorial on the BrailleNote Touch.
Now you can order the BrailleNote Touch which is now shipping. As expected, it's available now for $5,495, the same price as the BrailleNote Apex. For now, the Touch is available in a single configuration with 32 braille cells and a braille keyboard. One could use a USB or Bluetooth keyboard if typing in braille was not their thing.

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Posted Tuesday, 31-May-2016 3:04 PM ET in News     3 comments

Amazon Ignites VoiceView for Fire TV Owners with Latest OS Update


by Scott Davert

As part of our CSUN coverage, J.J. did an interview with Peter Korn from Amazon. part of that interview featured Amazon's new screen reader called VoiceView for Fire Tablets. Amazon has now launched a preview of VoiceView for Amazon Fire TV.

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Posted Tuesday, 31-May-2016 2:35 PM ET in News     5 comments

Make $125 an Hour in Research Studies for Google


by J.J. Meddaugh

Google continues to seek people with disabilities for paid research studies over phone phone, in person, or online.
Here's a portion of a recent Email they sent out to CSUN attendees:
"As part of our efforts to make Google products more accessible, we conduct paid research sessions with users with all types of disabilities.  We conduct studies both in-person at our offices in SF and NYC, as well as remotely via video or phone.  Users who are selected for and complete our study sessions are generally compensated at $125 an hour, paid out in gift cards that are redeemable at a wide variety of retailers around the country."
Follow the link on this post to fill out the form to express your interest. This does not guarantee you a spot in any study, but will put your name in a pool for future research.

Posted Sunday, 29-May-2016 6:46 PM ET in News     1 comment

A free Audio Tutorial now Offers Many more Details on the BrailleNote Touch


by Scott Davert

As I reported as part of our CSUN coverage, Humanware has created a new product called the BrailleNote Touch. While Blind Bargains was able to give you a written overview of what it brings to the table, along with an interview, there is now a free and in-depth resource to give you an audio tour of the BrailleNote Touch.

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Posted Thursday, 26-May-2016 6:28 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Latest NVDA Add Features to Help Badd Speelers and Writers


by J.J. Meddaugh

The next version of NVDA is about to be officially released, and as is customary, you can test new features now with a release candidate. NVDA 2016.2 focuses its improvements on the Microsoft Office suite and also will alert you to incorrectly spelled words as you type by playing a short buzzer sound. This feature can be turned off from NVDA’s Keyboard Preferences. Gramatical errors can also now be indicated while you type, along with some additional formatting features in Microsoft Excel. Follow this link for the complete blog post, and check out the full list of changes below.

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Posted Thursday, 26-May-2016 5:56 PM ET in News     Post a comment

A Free way to Gain Access to Skills to Make you More Employable is now Available


by Scott Davert

Deque Systems,, makers of many accessibility testing tools and designers of a set of courses to teach web accessibility, have announced that they are offering 1 year of free access to all of their training materials for people with disabilities. The blog post announcing the offercited the reasons behind this effort were to help combat the unemployment rate among people with disabilities. While this unemployment rate is high, the demand for professionals who can provide accessibility testing is also very high. The application process for this scholarship asks for a few details.

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Posted Wednesday, 25-May-2016 10:42 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Google Posts Video of 140 Developer Talks from #IO16 including 3 Focusing on Accessibility


by J.J. Meddaugh

Google appears to have posted just about every session from Google IO to their YouTube channel including 3 which focus on accessibility. The developer event, which we discussed in detail on Blind Bargains Qast 62, was recently held in San Francisco.

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Posted Tuesday, 24-May-2016 2:04 PM ET in News     1 comment

American Councel of the Blind Convention Pre-registration is now Open


by Scott Davert

pre-registration is now open for the ACB convention to be held July 1 through 9 in Minneapolis. There is a $15 administrative fee for registration on top of any sort of events that are paid that you may wish to attend. This year, ACB has moved to a new system for registration, so if you have created an account in previous years, that info will no longer be valid. Find out more details by following the source link. Pre-registration runs through June 22. as reported earlier, that pre-registration for the NFB Convention being held in Orlando will close on May 31.

Posted Tuesday, 24-May-2016 1:42 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Startup Disrupter Robinhood Makes their iOS Stock Trading App Accessible


by J.J. Meddaugh

Robinhood is a mobile app that is already disrupting the financial services industry by offering stock trading without service fees. Now, they're one of the first companies to make their trading app accessible to VoiceOver users.

"Not surprisingly, the financial industry has historically been a bad actor when it comes to disability compatible products, and we wanted to change this," Robinhood wrote in a recent blog post. The company partnered with the San Francisco Lighthouse to implement the changes which include providing access to account sign-up, the trading interface, and audible financial graphs.

The new features were released in celebration of Global Accessibility awareness Day, which was held this year on May 19. Robinhood also offers versions for Apple Watch and Android, though we are unable to verify if these also include accessibility features at this time.

Posted Tuesday, 24-May-2016 1:38 PM ET in News     Post a comment

The Perkins School for the Blind and Raizlabs Aim to Solve the Last Inch Problem with GPS


by J.J. Meddaugh

Your GPS may tell you that there is a bus stop nearby, but how do you know you're actually standing at the stop and not at a street sign 25 feet away? Thanks to a $750,000 grant from Google, the Perkins School for the Blind has partnered with app developer Raizlabs in an effort to solve this problem.

It's a situation that Raizlabs' Nick Bonatsakis, who is also legally blind, can relate to as he explains in an interview with Boston's WBUR. “I was just walking around in circles,” he recalls. “And had I had something where somebody just said, ‘Look, you know, the entrance to this place is past this mailbox and before this entrance to this other shop,’ that would have been immensely helpful.”

Perkins and Raizlabs aim to offer an app which will provide clues to a traveler in these situations. The app may give clues such as a nearby step, doorway, or grass which could help in someone locating a location like a bus stop in a contextual manner. Those familiar with a location will enter these clues into a database, which will then be available to users of the forthcoming app.

The Perkins School for the Blind was awarded the grant from the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities program which awarded $20 million in grants to 29 recipients.

The app itself is expected to be released early in 2017.

Posted Tuesday, 24-May-2016 1:19 PM ET in News     1 comment

Dictation Bridge Makes Prototype Available for all Users


by Scott Davert

As J.J. reported previously, the developers of Dictation Bridge are seeking $20,000 to build their product. Now, they have released a Proof-of-Concept, which comes in the form of a NVDA add-on.

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Posted Monday, 23-May-2016 3:22 PM ET in News     Post a comment

APH Unveils JAWS and Magic Student Edition, Bringing More affordable Options to Students


by Scott Davert

If you are a student who uses JAWS at school, owning a copy of JAWS or Magic for home use just became a lot easier. Freedom Scientific and the American Printing House for the Blind announced on a FSCast around the time of CSUN that they would be partnering to offer a program that would allow students to get JAWS under the Quota Funds system in the U.S. This is an annual subscription license, which must be renewed each year.

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Posted Monday, 09-May-2016 3:40 PM ET in News     1 comment

Windows 10 Free Upgrade to be Extended Beyond the Summer Deadline for Users of Assistive Technology


by Scott Davert

Yesterday, as part of a blog post, Microsoft reminded us that they will end the program which allowed users of the Windows Operating system running version 7 and higher to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Just over 24 hours after the above blog post went out, Microsoft had another announcement related to the free upgrade program.

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Posted Saturday, 07-May-2016 4:31 PM ET in News     2 comments

Microsoft Reminds Users that They Will Press alt f4 on Free Upgrades to Windows 10 in July


by Scott Davert

As part of a blog post, Microsoft has reminded users that time is running out to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. After July 29, 2016, when upgrades will again be charged, Microsoft will once again be the only major platform charging for upgrades. Windows 10 Home will cost $119, as noted in the blog post. Microsoft boasted in it's post that Windows 10 is now on 300 million devices worldwide. The time to upgrade for free is almost over.

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Posted Friday, 06-May-2016 12:51 PM ET in News     4 comments

Twitterific Releases iOS Update With Several Enhancements for VoiceOver Users


by Scott Davert

The latest update to Twitterific for iOS includes several improvements for VoiceOver users. With the May 2 update, which is version 5.14.3, there is now support for descriptions of images.

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Posted Wednesday, 04-May-2016 3:00 PM ET in News     3 comments

Apple Will Now Sell you a Braille Display and other Accessibility Tools to Go with your iPhone


by Scott Davert

Though there was no official announcement, Apple now has listed several hardware items to assist people with accessing their Apple devices. Doing a search for "accessibility" in the Accessories category now turns up several results.

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Posted Wednesday, 04-May-2016 2:11 PM ET in News     3 comments

Uber Settles With NFB: Will Deactivate Drivers who are Barking up the Wrong Tree


by Scott Davert

Friday, Uber Announced that they reached a settlement with the National Federation of the Blind for $225,000, and stated they will make some modifications to their policy to make the consequences for drivers refusing a user with a service animal more clear.

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Posted Monday, 02-May-2016 8:17 PM ET in News     2 comments

Ai-Squared releases Upgrade to Zoomtext Which Officially now Supports Office 2016


by Scott Davert

AI-Squared has released a new update to Zoomtext, called version 10.11.3.
The big announcement from this release is that Zoomtext now supports Office 2016. IN previous releases of Zoomtext, there were many issues with respect to the reliability of typing/Cursor Echo, tracking, the Doc Reader, and several issues concerning stability. According to Ai-Squared, improvements in all Microsoft Office 2016 applications with respect to all of the areas just mentioned have occurred.

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Posted Monday, 02-May-2016 6:30 PM ET in News     Post a comment

If you've Tried Online Dating, A Research Team Would Like to Hear about It


by J.J. Meddaugh

If you have used online dating in the past year, researchers at the University of Washington want to hear from you. The 20-minute survey is available for people with or without disabilities, and participants can enter to win a $5 Amazon gift card. The survey letter is below.

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Posted Monday, 02-May-2016 5:59 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Why it's Better to be 74 Plus on Facebook


by Scott Davert

Earlier this month, Facebook rolled out it's new Automatic Alt Text description feature on iOS. Today, the Facebook Access team announced on Twitter that this feature is now also available on Android with Facebook version 74 and higher. Users may need to log out and back in again to start seeing posts with the automated alt text being generated, just like some users had to do when the feature was officially released for iOS. Have you been using this feature on iOS before now? Is it working on Android for you? Feel free to leave comments below with your experiences.

Posted Wednesday, 27-Apr-2016 4:16 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Accessible Apps Releases a Meatier Chicken Nugget


by Scott Davert

Accessible Apps has released a new update to it's Twitter application for Windows, Chicken Nugget. Version 4.0 includes support for Twitter images, the ability to scan text out of images from Tweets, a spell checker, the ability to choose which users to DM, and the ability to translate expanded tweets.

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Posted Wednesday, 27-Apr-2016 3:56 PM ET in News     1 comment

Harriet Tubman Isn't the Only New Feature of the Next $20 Bill


by J.J. Meddaugh

It was widely reported last week that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. The other part of this story however is one that many disability activists have been patiently waiting for. New designs for the $20, as wel as the $5 and $10 bills, will include accessibility features to aid blind and visually impaired users. The United States is one of the last major countries to use inaccessible paper currency, and was forced by a court decision several years ago to change this.

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Posted Tuesday, 26-Apr-2016 6:40 PM ET in News     1 comment

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg Talks Accessibility with Blind Engineer in New Video


by J.J. Meddaugh

A new video posted to Facebook pairs a popular face with an engineer working on AI and accessibility. Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg spoke with Matt King, a Facebook engineer who happens to also be blind, about Matt's work on the company's AI initiatives including adding descriptive text to images. In the series, titled Live from Facebook HQ, Matt demonstrates the feature with an iOS device and the screen curtain turned on and shows how a blind person might use an iPhone. The 20 minute video has received over 100,000 reactions and tens of thousands of comments since being posted on Facebook.

Posted Tuesday, 26-Apr-2016 6:23 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Dictation Bridge Seeks $20,000 to Launch Free and Open Source Voice Recognition


by J.J. Meddaugh

The team behind Dictation Bridge is now raising money on Indiegogo to bring its voice recognition app to reality. Dictation Bridge will work with Windows Speech Recognition and various versions of Dragon to provide seemless voice recognition to users of the major screen readers including NVDA, Jaws, and Window-Eyes. The end result will be completely free and open-source, with premium technical support options available for a fee. You can go here to read more or to donate. To learn more, listen to our interview with Lucy Greco about Dictation Bridge on Blind Bargains Qast 55

Posted Tuesday, 26-Apr-2016 1:29 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Hundreds of Items Available in the Seeing Eye's 8th Annual Online Auction


by J.J. Meddaugh

One of the largest and most successful online auctions to benefit a blindness-related nonprofit is back for another year. The Seeing Eye's 8th Annual Auction features hundreds of items and is now open for bids. Items are available for just about any budget, from a $10 gift card to Cold Stone Creamery to a Vintage Gold and Diamond Horse Pendant with Chain valued at $750 currently with a $99 bid. Many assistive technology items are also available. A T Guys is proud to be one of the many companies and individuals who donated to this auction. The auction ends on May 6 at 10 PM EDT. You can go here to view the auction and place bids.

Posted Tuesday, 26-Apr-2016 12:48 PM ET in News     Post a comment

NVDA Con: It's Everywhere and Bigger than ever


by Scott Davert

The free, and widely used, screen reader for Windows, NVDA has it's own conference. It has, in fact, had 3 others, but the upcoming agenda has more sessions and social opportunities than any of the NVDA conferences held prior to this one.

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Posted Thursday, 21-Apr-2016 7:21 PM ET in News     2 comments

Australia's ABC Seeks Feedback on their Audio Description Pilot


by J.J. Meddaugh

If you've been watching audio described programs in Australia from ABC, they'd like to hear what you think. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is seeking feedback for its audio description pilot project on their iview platform. Audio described programs have been available since April 2014, and the 15-month pilot project is scheduled to end soon. TO take the survey, follow the link on this post.

Posted Tuesday, 19-Apr-2016 5:43 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Webvisum CAPTCHA Solver returns to Firefox


by Scott Davert

James Scholes, the creator of Codex, announced on Twitter the availability of a newly signed version of the Firefox extension called Webvisum. Webvisum has been a service which, among other things, allows for the solving of captchas on forms and in other places on the web. It works with Firefox for Windows only, and has been free ever since its first release.

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Posted Friday, 15-Apr-2016 09:19 AM ET in News     2 comments

Get Moving With Public app Transportation Moovit, now Accessible


by Scott Davert

An app growing in popularity for those using public transportation is Moovit. In the latest update to both its iOS and Android apps, the developers announced that "In the latest version of the app, we ve made every screen accessible to blind riders with VoiceOver and TalkBack enabled on their iOS and Android devices". In our initial tests, it does indeed appear that the app is now very useable on both platforms. The only minor issue noticed was that the screen would refresh with new information, and it was then possible focus with VoiceOver would move slightly.

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Posted Wednesday, 06-Apr-2016 2:44 PM ET in News     1 comment

First Public Beta of TalkBack 4.5 with Enhanced Web Support Released


by J.J. Meddaugh

The first public beta for TalkBack 4.5, which Google previewed at CSUN, has been released. As previously announced, the beta includes revamped web support which allows for navigation by a variety of modes and also announces lists, headings, and other items. Some of these features, such as announcing lists, extend outside of the web support as well. A new keyboard layout is available which includes keyboard shortcuts for practically every available gesture as well as extended web navigation. As before, all keyboard shortcuts can be modified if desired. This new layout must be enabled under TalkBack's settings. The tutorial mode for new users has been completely revamped and also includes visual indicators of gestures for those who may benefit.

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Posted Tuesday, 05-Apr-2016 10:36 PM ET in News     1 comment

Freedom Scientific Releases Another JAWS Update With Several Bug Fixes and Improvements


by Scott Davert

Freedom Scientific has released another small update to JAWS 17. In version 17.0.186, released today, Freedom Scientific added a feature in the JAWS Window called "Explore Utilities". This gives the user more readily available access to adjusting various settings. The utilities menu was only available by typing "utilities" in to the search box in the Windows Start Menu and selecting the appropriate option. This release also brings enhancements to Windows 10, touch keyboards, and improvements with Magic, braille, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, and web browsing. This update is free for JAWS 17 users which can be installed from within the JAWS Help menu. Follow the source link below to learn more specific information about each change.

Posted Tuesday, 05-Apr-2016 8:21 PM ET in News     1 comment

The Writing is on Your Wall: Facebook Officially Announces Automatic Text Description


by Scott Davert

Facebook has officially unveiled it's automated photo captions option. Using object recognition technology, Facebook is now automatically generating a description of photos on individual's timelines and also on gphotos posted to groups. While some users were able to utilize a test version on the iOS app prior to now, Matt King, a member of the Facebook Access team indicated that the previous images that people saw described were part of a study Facebook was conducting to see how useful the tool was. In an audiointerview with AppleVis, Mr. King said the feature is officially now available to all iOS users. The automated text descriptions are now only on iOS, but Mr. King says the intention is to role it out to Android users, then the web, and eventually all parts of the social network. He further cautioned users to give Facebook time to work out any issues they may have with the descriptions, as this is the first release of this feature.

Users should automatically see text descriptions popping up on their Facebook feed. Some users have reported that the text descriptions have not shown up in their timelines until they signed out of Facebook and back in. How well is this feature working for you? Feel free to leave comments about your experiences below.

Posted Tuesday, 05-Apr-2016 12:11 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Sendero Releases Seeing Eye GPS 2.1.1 Bringing a 30-day Trial option and More


by Scott Davert

Amidst all the hardware and software announced at CSUN, there was one announcement we missed, but are here to tell you about now. the Sendero Group announced version 2.1.1 of there GPS apps on iOS. One of the biggest highlights of this release is the introduction of a 30 day free trial of the app. Other enhancements in 2.1.1 include a faster loading time of the app, the "Magic Tap" now announcing the last spoken information, resolving re-subscription issues, many modifications to text for low vision users, updating of Google Maps, and support for the Boni s LoudSteps platform. This platform is one of many possible solutions for indoor route navigation. It is a free upgrade for those with existing subscriptions to the service in supported countries, and is available now in the iOS App Store. Follow the source link to read more specific details.

Posted Monday, 04-Apr-2016 10:42 AM ET in News     Post a comment

AMC, FX, and Others May Soon be Required to Provide Audio Description


by J.J. Meddaugh

The FCC is about to propose updates to video description rules on television which would drastically expand the amount of described programming produced. Per this article from TVNewsCheck, the proposed new rules would increase the number of networks required to provide audio described content from 9 to 15, including the top 5 broadcast networks and the top 10 entertainment-based cable networks. For broadcast, this may mean audio described programming in Spanish, as Univision ranks fifth behind ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox currently. For cable, depending on when the rankings are determined, networks such as AMC, FX, and HGTV could be included. Networks such as CNN and ESPN which primarily produce live programming are excluded from these rankings.

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Posted Thursday, 31-Mar-2016 10:19 PM ET in News     1 comment

Voice Dream reader 4.0 is coming with new Voices, Reading Modes, iCloud Syncronization, and Mor


by Scott Davert

In an email that has been circulated far and wide, Winston Chen, the developer of Voice Dream Reader, has discussed what will be coming in version 4 of the app on iOS. The new update, which has been submitted to Apple, contains support for 3D touch actions on the iPhone 6S and 6S plus, a new mode called Pac-Man reading mode, finger reading, and scanning. Scanning allows you to do a firm press on the fast forward button to double the speed of the reading voice. Releasing the 3D touch will return you to the speed you were at before performing the 3D touch. This is an iOS only update, there was no indication as to the state of development on the Android platform. The portion of the email describing the new features has been added below.

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Posted Wednesday, 30-Mar-2016 1:29 PM ET in News     2 comments

Twitter Takes Steps to Allow Images to be Labeled with Alt Text


by J.J. Meddaugh

Twitter has taken a step to improve the accessibility of images posted on its platform. According to a blog post, users of Twitter's mobile clients can enable an option to add alt text to images when composing a tweet. The text, which can be up to 420 characters, will be displayed to assistive technology users in supported clients. Twitter has also made it possible for third-party clients to incorporate the feature. Before this change, all images were rendered as a t.co link without any alternative text. Check the blog post for more details on the new feature.

Posted Tuesday, 29-Mar-2016 11:54 AM ET in News     1 comment

#CSUN16 Orbit Research Has Achieved a More Affordable Braille Display; APH Demos the Orbit Reader 20


by Scott Davert

The amount of announcements at CSUN related to braille technology was higher than usual this year. The common concern among people seems to be the cost associated with this technology. The Transforming Braille Group and Orbit Research officially unveiled the Orbit Reader 20 at CSUN last week. According to this blog post, by Orbit Research, The device "serves as a self-contained book reader, a note taker and as a braille display by connecting to a computer or smartphone via USB or Bluetooth." We stopped by the APH booth to take a look at the new device.

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Posted Monday, 28-Mar-2016 9:52 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Google Demos New Web Support and More from Forthcoming TalkBack 4.5 at #CSUN16


by J.J. Meddaugh

A new version of TalkBack for Android is set to go into public beta in the next week, and Google's Maya Ben Ari and Victor Tsaran told us all about it at a CSUN 2016 session.

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Posted Monday, 28-Mar-2016 9:35 PM ET in News     Post a comment

#CSUN16 Freedom Scientific Makes two Announcements Related to Future Products, Spills Beans on ElBraille


by Scott Davert

Following is information presented in FSCast 123 which covered 2 new announcements from Freedom Scientific that were also made at CSUN. This information is presented in textual format so that those who prefer to read rather than listen can also have access to it. From an accessibility perspective, this article is for those who are not able to hear podcasts, who may find the information helpful. Any errors made in the below information are that of the author s, and it may also be worth noting that the author has a significant hearing impairment as well.

The American Printing House for the Blind and Freedom Scientific Partner up

The first major announcement was that Freedom Scientific and The American Printing House for the Blind are teaming up to bring JAWS and Magic, student Edition, to the classroom through the purchase of this software through quota-funds. Each license is good for 12 months, and has 3 user keys. This means a student can have access to JAWS and/or Magic in and outside of school, to complete homework assignments and do research. The license expires 12 months after the first key was installed, unless a school district elects to continue renewing that specific subscription. If the student has had their license renewed 4 times, Freedom Scientific will issue them a home license until that student graduates from grade school. Once that happens, the now graduated student would be responsible for maintaining their SMA. If the place in question does not have quota-funds available, they can also purchase a 12 month subscription from APH for $300. The Student Edition only differs from the other versions of the software in the licensing structure. All features, technical support, and documentation will be available for the Student Edition just like any other version. Eric Damery indicated in the podcast that they anticipate having the program ready for customers by the end of April, and that an official press release will come out when the program is ready to launch.

ElBraille

Adi Kushnir came to the podcast to discuss ElBraille. Think of the ElBraille as a computer inside the form factor of a notetaker. The components are housed on one part of the device, while a Focus 14 makes up the other part. The Focus can be disconnected from the rest of the device, so if you wish to take your Focus 14 and not the full version of the ElBraille somewhere for some reason, that is also an option. The ElBraille has a full 32-bit version of Windows 10 on it along with JAWS 17.

Here s a physical description of the ElBraille as presented in the podcast. The device measures 7.4x4.7x1.5 inches. With the Focus 14 attached, the entire package weighs 1.65 pounds. On the front, you have the Focus 14. As such, all of the controls that you will find on the Focus 14 are what make up the front of the device. ON the right side of the ElBraille, you have 1 button which allows you to detach the Focus 14 from the ElBraille. Continuing along the right side, you have the headphone jack, a SD card slot, USB port, and the power button. The back and left sides of the ElBraille do not contain any buttons, ports, or controls. On top of the ElBraille, behind the Perkins style keyboard of the Focus you have 6 buttons: E1, E2, volume down, volume up, E3, and E4. The top of the unit also contains speakers, a Braille label, and a micro SIM card for cellular connectivity in the upper left corner of the surface of the device.

The internal parts of the device include: 1.8 GHZ quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal memory, comes with a 64 GB SD card that is internal, SD card reader that supports cards up to 256 GB, a built-in microphone, stereo speakers, a vibration motor, 3G modem, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 N wifi and all protocols before it, built-in GPS, accelerometer, a USB port, and a battery life that they advertized as lasting over 20 hours even with wifi in use. The ElBraille also features a rescue mode button which will launch a menu separate from JAWS that self voices and has braille output.

While it does have a full-blown copy of Windows and comes in the flavor of a notetaker, Adi Kushnir indicated that it takes between 20 and 30 seconds to boot when in hibernation mode. It resembles a notetaker, but because it s running a full version of Windows, it s not possible to turn the unit on and be ready to add to a new note quickly. The 3G modem is GSM only, which, for those in North America, means that the device will only be compatible with T-Mobile and AT&T.

Pricing of the ElBraille is dependent on what the user already has. For example, if one already has a Focus 14 and JAWS 17, they could use their existing purchased stuff to lower the cost of the ElBraille significantly. This user would only pay for the docking station which includes the components listed above. The price will, of course, go up from there if you do not already own JAWS 17 or a Focus 14. No specific prices were mentioned and Freedom Scientific indicated the information was not yet available. IT was also made clear in the podcast that Freedom Scientific does not have an anticipated release date, other than it should be in the second half of 2016.

Looking ahead, Adi Kushnir indicated that they are already working on a second generation of the product, and will also be releasing a version which will fit the Focus 40. Hardware, according to Kushnir, is expected to be updated annually. The cost of upgrading, according to both Mosen and Kushnir will be much cheaper than what it would cost to upgrade standard notetakers, because the user only needs to replace the docking station. The JAWS license and display do not need to be replaced. For now, users wanting more information can contact info@eliagroup.ru At the moment, the website is only in Russian, but they will have an English website coming soon.

Posted Saturday, 26-Mar-2016 2:52 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Humanware Unveils new BrailleNote Touch at #CSUN16


by Scott Davert

It's been 6 years since Humanware has updated the BrailleNote, and today marks the end of that wait. Today at CSUN, Humanware unveiled the BrailleNote Touch, a device which is based on Android 4.4, but runs the Keysoft suite of products. Think modern support for mail and other applications, but with the familiarity of Keysoft. The best way to picture the device is that it has an iPad mini sized screen which a user can perform standard Android gestures on, or a new braille input method described below. There is a Perkins-style braille keyboard which comes down over the screen if the user desires to use that instead. The keyboard overlay attaches to the device and can be removed if the user prefers to use the touch screen and braille display exclusively. The unit also features support for SDHC cards, 16GB of built-in memory, a HDMI port for connectivity with external monitors or TV's, an 8 megapixel camera with LED lighting, a USB 3.0 host port, and Micro USB charging

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Posted Wednesday, 23-Mar-2016 4:38 PM ET in News     8 comments

#CSUN16 Freedom Scientific Announces new 7-inch Handheld Video Magnifier


by Scott Davert

Freedom Scientific has announced a new product in it's line of Ruby video magnifier series. The Ruby 7 HD, has a 7 inch screen, which is 2 inches larger than the other Ruby products. The older models of this series of video magnifiers allowed the user to magnify text up to 14x, while the new product, thanks to the larger screen, allows for magnification of up to 24X. For more details, please see the press release, which is the source link, or the link above to the Ruby HD 7 product page. Freedom Scientific indicated that the Ruby 7 HD will be available at the end of April, but no pricing information was listed at the time of posting.

Posted Wednesday, 23-Mar-2016 2:53 PM ET in News     Post a comment

#CSUN16: Dolphin Access Announces SuperNova version 15.03 with new low Vision features


by Scott Davert

Dolphin begins the first of what will likely be many announcements this week at CSUN by unveiling SuperNova 15.03. One of the biggest highlights of this release is a feature called "connect and View". This feature allows a user to connect any HD camera to their laptop or tablet which will then magnify whatever is in view of the camera. It is also possible, with this feature, to connect to a whiteboard or another computer so that, for example, if someone is presenting, the user of Supernova can view what's on the screen right on their laptop or tablet. The user can also customize color schemes and the type of magnification that best suits their needs.

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Posted Tuesday, 22-Mar-2016 3:42 PM ET in News     1 comment

New Apple Software and Hardware Announced Monday: an Overview


by Scott Davert

Apple made several major and minor announcements Monday during their latest keynote address. To catch you up with the latest happenings, here's a brief overview.
It's important to note that this is just a brief summary of the software and hardware announced. There are links to each of the topics covered below where you will find more detailed information.

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Posted Tuesday, 22-Mar-2016 12:05 PM ET in News     3 comments

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