Useful information, weblinks, and articles
How many medium bananas does it take to equal one cup? Or how many teaspoons will you get from one small clove of garlic? A page on About.com includes this information and more for over 600 common and not so common foods in one simple table. It's sorted alphabetically and very easy to navigate. Select the link on this post to visit the page.
Amazon wants to make ordering every day necessities from its website as easy as clicking a button. We're not talking about the Buy Now button on the Amazon website here. This new device is an actual Bluetooth button, known as the Dash.
A Dash is a small Wi-Fi button for different items that you hang in your house. When you are ready to buy an item, like detergent, you just click the button and the product order goes straight to your Amazon shopping cart. Several brand-name products already have their own buttons, including Bounty paper towels, Clorox disinfecting wipes, Gatorade and Kraft mac and cheese.
No word on how much it will cost, but it's now available for Prime members. Non-Prime subscribers will eventually be able to sign up for the device as well. If you're interested, click the provided link and let us know what you think.
If you need a book, cheap phone case or just about any household item, Amazon has you covered. But if you need a gardener, electrician or a private tutor to help you brush up on your Spanish, then before now, you’d need to look elsewhere. Thanks to Amazon Home Services, you’ll be able to easily and efficiently find the right person for the job.
There are a number of sites that simply advertise the services of others, but Amazon assumes responsibility for the entire process of matching the right professional with the job.
At this time, Amazon Home Services is quite limited. It’s a US-only enterprise for now, and whether you’ll be able to find a suitable candidate to complete the required job depends largely on where you live. For Seattle, San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, you’ll probably be able to find somebody to help with any task, from mowing the lawn to ridding your computer of viruses, although in most areas, coverage is described either as Light or Coming Soon.
If you do live in an area selling services, then for a limited time, Amazon is offering a $20 Amazon.com gift card to anybody buying a service costing more than $99.
Amazon is not the first to create a marketplace for professionals to link up with those who require their assistance, but given the company’s experience and general reputation, one can assume both professionals and consumers will go with the Amazon brand.
To learn more about Amazon Home Services, click the provided link and let us know what you think.
If you are a computer gamer but you don't know where to go to get accessible games, 7-128 software has a list to help you out. The annual list from 7-128 software provides a link to the website and a description of what the site includes. The comments about each website are very useful and will help you find what you're looking for. It's awesome to see that more accessible games are coming onto the market and this is a great resource to learn about what games are available.
If you are a new Android user, or if you are curious about all of the accessibility options that Android has to offer, you can now get the information you need by visiting the Android Accessibility Help Center. The website provides information about: general android accessibility, TalkBack, Accessibility features common to applications, BrailleBack, and Android updates.
Tax day is just around the corner. If you still haven't filed your taxes for this year, Turbo Tax can help you save some money with their helpful tips for blind tax payers. There are a number of deductions that apply if you are blind. It's great to have a resource that outlines these tips in one place. Happy filing.
When renting a DVD, one of the most important things you might want to know is whether it includes a descriptive audio track. The Audio Description Project of the American Council of the Blind is keeping track of all DVDs that get released with descriptive audio, and now there's an alphabetical list. The list includes links to the movies where you can get more information about the film. This is a great resource for movie watchers. Just as a tip, the descriptive audio track can be accessed once the movie on the DVD has started playing by switching between the different audio tracks using the audio button on your DVD player remote.
If you're a JAWS user that is considering switching to NVDA, but is concerned about the learning curve of switching to a new screen reader, there is now a new guide on how to make the switch. The guide covers a number of topics including: voices for NVDA, cursers and their functions, forms mode, and scripts. The guide will not teach you how to use NVDA, but it gives you tips on how to transition from JAWS.
For the past five years, WebAIM has been surveying screen reader users around the world to find out which screen readers are being used, how comfortable users feel with using their screen reader, how proficient they are using the web, and more. This year's results have just been published. All continents were represented in the survey, although North America still had the highest numbers. The results this year show that how people use screen readers and what devices they use is continuing to change. For instance, JAWS is still the most used screen reader, but it's continuing to decline in use. Also, more respondants are using mobile technology. Visit the WebAIM website linked in this post to see the full list of results.
A number of companies have set up designated support options for customers with disabilities. Below is a list of the companies and the contact information for their disability tech support hotlines. If we've missed any companies please let us know and we'll add them to the list.
Fedora Outlier, the company behind the weekly access chats on Twitter and the book "The Old Hat Guide to iPhone Accessibility", has just started a new series on their blog called "There's an app for that". Each week they will feature a list of apps based on a category. This first week focusses on music. All of the apps recommended will be accessible to VoiceOver users. It's great to see another place where VoiceOver users can go to get app suggestions.
Creating your own website can feel like an impossible task especially if you use a screen reader. With the right tools and information though, building websites using WordPress is in your grasp. A new e-book called, "WordPress for Bad Eyes: A Beginners Guide" is designed with screen reader users in mind. Topics covered in the book include: buying a domain name, securing a host, and code for including different pieces of your website. The book also comes with a set of plugins that will help the user in developing their website. The book costs $9.99 and is available in Word, PDF, and DAISY formats. Those who want to try the book before they buy can also download it for free for one hour.
Smart phones can be a great asset to people with vision impairments, but sometimes it's hard to know which model or operating system will meet your needs. The RNIB has created a simple to follow spread sheet that lists a number of phone models with their price in the UK and the features that come with the phone. For those outside of the UK, the price will not be relevant, but in many cases, the phones themselves will be available where you live. Hopefully this guide will help users make informed decisions about what smart phone to choose.
AI Squared has many years of experience helping people with low vision access material on the computer. Now they're going one step further and offering web developers a simple way to add magnification and speech to their website. By adding a line of code, webpages can have these options without the programmer going to the extra trouble of building the feature into each part of the website. It also offers more usability than a person simply magnifying the entire webpage. No pricing is available, though it seems to depend on the size of the business and amount of web traffic served. Those that are interested can try it out for free or read the FAQ.
Vanda Pharmaceuticals announced today that HETLIOZ™ (tasimelteon) has received FDA approval to treat non-24 sleep-wake disorder. According to the press release, this disorder may effect as many as 80,000 totally blind people in the US. Non-24 disorder is caused when a person's circadian rhythms become misaligned from the 24 hour day cycle resulting in their bodies not knowing when to be awake or sleep. The end result is that many totally blind people suffer with insomnia or find themselves wanting to sleep during the day. Vanda hopes that this medication will become available during the second quarter of the year. This treatment will hopefully be a solution for people who struggle with this disorder. Find the press release pasted below.
If you are a high school senior with a disability, and are planning to go to college, consider applying for one of the Microsoft Disability Scholarships. Winners will receive a $5,000 scholarship that will be sent directly to their school of choice. According to the scholarship website, those who apply must be majoring in the following areas: "engineering, computer science, computer information systems, legal or in business that are approved (ie. paralegal, pre-law, finance, business administration, or marketing)." Other requirements include financial need, a passion for technology, leadership, and a GPA of at least 3.0. Applications must be submitted by March 15.
I recently came across a resource that is a great option for someone who needs to access the internet, but either doesn't have internet at their home or can't afford internet access. TeleTender is a service that allows the blind and visually impaired to access the news, weather, email, webpages, and even Facebook by using their telephones. The organization currently has six different phone numbers that people can use to access the service. If you don't have long distance and want TeleTender to provide a local phone number, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they'll do their best to get a local number for you.
Even though I have good access to the internet and a computer that is accessible to me, I wanted to test out the service for our readers. My overall impression is that this is a good alternative to accessing the web on a computer. Setting up my email was a bit challenging, but once I got my email address and password entered in correctly, accessing my email was very simple. There is even an option to compose new emails or to reply to emails that are received.
I also tested out the news, internet, and Facebook features. In all three cases, using the features of the service was easy. For screen reader users that like having a lot of control over how they browse, this experience is going to possibly be frustrating, but I feel like TeleTender is not aimed at advanced screen reader users.
Some of the additional features of the service include: being able to speak selections rather than using the phone keypad, ability to increase or decrease the speed of the voice, and ability to change your time zone.
The American Council of the Blind has compiled a list of the white cane laws for each state. These are the laws that give rights to blind pedestrians while crossing streets and outline penalties for drivers who do not yield for travelers. It is easy to navigate to your own state by heading and there are links to each law. Having access to this information is very important. If you ever feel like your rights as a traveler with a vision impairment have been violated, be sure to check this list.
The National Library Service has put together a set of 12 videos to help users of the new BARD Mobile app learn how to use all of the features. The videos include topics such as how to read an audio book, how to adjust visual settings, how to pair a braille display and read a braille book, and both basic and advanced VoiceOver gestures that are used within the app. Check the link on this post to view the videos.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People has deemed November "Switch on Technology Month". This month, they are offering technology seminars throughout the United Kingdom, and they've put together three guides to technology that can be downloaded in either Word or PDF. The topics of the three guides are: Making Sense of Mobile Phones, Getting Online with Computers and Tablets, and "Ebooks and Downloading Audio Books".
As an adaptive technology instructor, one of the most common things I hear from clients is that they don't know what tools are available. I hope these guides can help people who are new to technology or those new to vision loss learn what their options are.
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