Blind Bargains

Blind Bargains Qast 100: Show Me, Don't Tell Me

Dave Williams is back with us to provide some insight on the newly announced Humanware Braille Display in an interview from Sight City with Humanware's Greg Stilson. Joe takes some steps in the kitchen with his Google Home and J.J. brings along a unique link to share in this week's "Last Word". So quiet your smart assistants, it is episode 100 of the BBQ.

In The NEWS:

Amazon Reveals $230 Touch-Screen Echo Show

Here's how to make calls with Alexa

15-second ads coming to Amazon s Alexa

Harman Kardon s Invoke speaker is a Cortana-powered take on an Amazon Echo

Humanware also announced the Connect 12 electronic magnifier (new generation)

May 18th - Global Accessibility Awareness Day. See what s happening in your area

This? Exciting times! Update #11: Adventure Beckons

Interview: Greg Stilson Shows The Humanware Brailliant 14

BBQ Regular Dave Williams was in Germany for Sight city and he bumped into Greg Stilson who just so happened to have on hand this new 14 cell display called the Brailliant 14. In this interview Greg gives Dave a hands on demo of the device, talks about the new iOS app and he happens to answer several questions many have had about the new entry into this category of displays.

Tip: Google Home Step By Step Recipes

Joe mentioned before that a recent Google Home update allowed the ability to do some step by step cooking instructions. This week, with said update installed, we take a look at how to load and use this feature.

Sound Off:

John Herzog provides our first email for episode 100:

"Hi Joe and JJ, I had a couple thoughts on the upcoming Microsoft surface laptop and windows 10S that I wanted to share. Strategically it makes sense that Microsoft would introduce a version of windows that is easier to administer and more secure for schools. I remember being a student in high school when standard windows 98 was the OS of choice. Despite Novell security software restricting our access to applications on the desktop, my friends and I easily found ways to skirt that limitation. You could easily type the location c:\ into the address bar using internet explorer and would have full access to the computer and apps. Anyway, while I understand the need for greater security for admins and teachers, the implications for students in need of a screen reader are somewhat alarming. Narrator is the only option on windows 10S, and I think Microsoft has miles to go before that can be considered a viable every day solution. Even within the creator s update, narrator is wildly inconsistent between applications. For instance, in Skype and the windows store, pressing caps lock right arrow moves between items and reads all elements on screen. But in the windows mail app, the only portions of a message that read when moving by items are links and some graphics. You have to switch to paragraph mode to read an entire message. Since Narrator regards each blank line as another paragraph, it becomes tedious to do any in-depth review of email. Narrator constantly says empty paragraph , which is beyond annoying. I could not imagine having to use windows mail as my default client. Similar inconsistencies can be found in the edge browser. When moving by items Narrator handles some web pages beautifully. All elements are spoken aloud as expected. On other pages that work fine with most screen readers, Narrator completely fails to read text that is present in item mode. Switching to paragraph mode with caps lock down arrow fixes this problem to a certain extent. The dilemma is that a blind person would have to know that text was available on a page in order to switch navigation modes and read it.
Please don t interpret my concerns as an attempt to bash Microsoft. I ve been testing the latest builds of windows and have been encouraged at the progress they are making. After the creator s update for instance, I took a $200 HP tablet with me for a day and tried to accomplish all my normal tasks using nothing but Narrator. Despite some clunkiness, I was able to get most things done with patience. I just hope the experience continues to improve, otherwise there is a substantial risk that blind students may get left behind if their schools choose to utilize the windows S platform.
Thanks for reading, and as always I appreciate your podcast and collection of news links.

Daniel Hawkins passed along some thoughts on the Microsoft event as well...

"Hey guys! My name is Daniel, and I have been enjoying your podcasts since the 40 s.

I have listened to the Microsoft edu event, and I have to say one thing. It makes me cry with all those 3d options out there. I used to see and used to be a hardcore PC gamer, so, Mixed reality was one thing I have been looking forward to. It looks like it is coming and my generation will be able to enjoy it. However as a Blind person I feel that we will be left behind again. I was excited that there are more accessibility with all platforms and web pages, but I just can t see how Blind people can enjoy Virtual worlds and Mixed reality. What is your take on this? This reminds me my favorite book Ready Player 1 which is basically everyone live in a virtual reality.

Also, one more thing, have you guys heard of a Amazon Echo Look? It may be coming soon, and it seems to help you dress better. I wonder if this may help Blind people pick out outfits and match their clothes better. Just an idea.

Keep on Podcasting guys! Thanks!"

And longtime listener, Rebecca Skipper, sends in her feelings about last week's big stories.


First, I think any Sci-Fi fan should check out Arrival. As a Star Trek fan, it is one of my favorite movies outside the franchise. However, it is not for everybody, and it is a film you must pay close attention to understand the twist at the end.

As for the latest VFO acquisition, I m troubled by the announcement but not surprised. The Assistive Technology market is small so any merger troubles me. However, given the fact that Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and apple have a demonstrable commitment to providing products with built-in accessibility, I can see where AT companies have to change their business model. They either have to provide value added services or features to existing products to keep consumers or provide more services geared to the business and nonprofit sectors. Why would consumers continue investing in current screen reader manufacturers if mainstream companies deliver on their commitments to create products accessible out of the box?

For me, NVDA, System Access, and JAWS continue to provide valuable features, and although I do not use Window Eyes, I appreciate that it is a free option that Microsoft is continuing to support. I am more concerned about options for low vision users. I want to see all the AT companies succeed even the most obscure brands.
This, in my view, is the only way to promote competition and innovation in a niche market. I wonder if we will see other mergers in the future as Braille displays become more affordable.

By the way, here is an idea for episode 100. Try to predict what will happen with technology in the next five years.

Here is my prediction.

AT companies will start offering more affordable hardware and software solutions for less than $1,000. Then, attention will shift to Business to Business marketing.
I think more consumers will rely less on state VR and more on their own resources to purchase Assistive Technology hardware and software. At some point, I think the all-purpose notetaker will become less prevalent.
I like the notetaker, but it is hard to justify the price tag.


Per the usual, I.E. after we recorded the show, NVDA posted a pretty detailed article about what it would take to have the screen reader available on the Windows Store.

Why Can t NVDA run on Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 S?

The article clarifies their position on Windows S, and the kind of left for dead, Windows Mobile OS. The good news is that you can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free until the end of the year if you do encounter the OS during the launch period.

Last Word:

Food beat out Last Word rivals for the episode 100 spotlight. We shall see if music and cats rebound in episodes 125 and 150.
We Tried Fireworks Oreos With Popping Candy Inside

Physicians Unveil the World's First Colonoscopy Robot

Also, here is another follow up story that truly features a Smart Bra"!

We would sincerely like to thank all of you for listening. We were never sure if this show would stick. we also never thought about what it would be like to do more than 100 regular episodes. But with the patience of our friends, families and BBQ Regulars, we have been happy to bring you all this audio for more than two and a half years.

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Length: 79:47

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Joe Steinkamp is no stranger to the world of technology, having been a user of video magnification and blindness related electronic devices since 1979. Joe has worked in radio, retail management and Vocational Rehabilitation for blind and low vision individuals in Texas. He has been writing about the A.T. Industry for 15 years and podcasting about it for almost a decade.

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