Assistive technology news and info.
Voxygen, the company that brought us Halloween fun with the Witch text to speech voice, has now introduced their lineup of voices to Windows computer users. Dozens of goofy and more naturally-sounding voices are now available in SAPI 5 format, compatible with Windows screen readers.
A lot of cable and television providers, some with more fanfare than others, have launched some form of accessibility for their talking guide software. While we were enjoying the holiday break, Verizon quietly enabled this feature for their Fios customers.
Another piece of early audio book history has been uncovered. According to the American Printing House for the Blind Fred's Head Blog, A 1936 recording of Gulliver's Travels was recently donated along with other early talking books.
The last time guidelines for accessible web content were published by the World Wide Web Consortium, many of our readers were likely using flip phones or early talking Nokia devices. The next version will address many of the advancements in technology which have been released over the past few years including mobile apps and touch screen devices.
The first public beta of TalkBack 5.2 has been posted for Android users. As we previously reported, this new release introduces a variety of features including custom verbosity settings which allow a user to select how much speech feedback is given while navigating. Feedback via sound is also different in this version, with a new collection of earcons, the sounds that are played to indicate various elements on the screen. The new sounds are less musical and more brief and to the point.
As promised by Greg Stilson in our recent Humanware CSUN podcast, version 3.0 of the software for the BrailleNote Touch is now available as a free update. This version adds support for opening multiple documents in KeyWord, updated support for WebViews included in newer versions of Android, additional voices and languages, and a smattering of additional features and bug fixes. Greg demonstrates some of the new features and goes into more detail on the podcast linked above. The version 3.0 changelog is listed below and also linked from this post. Thanks to Jay Pellis for the tip.
Terrill Thompson has once again posted a completely accessible NCAA March Madness bracket which you can fill out and monitor. It uses accessibility best practices to create one of the most usable brackets for screen reader users. Check the source link on this post to check it out or fill out a bracket. The first main tournament round starts just after noon on Thursday.
#CSUNATC17: Google Demonstrates Features of TalkBack 5.2 for Android; Teases Contracted Braille Input for BrailleBack
Google had a full slate of sessions at this year's CSUN conference and showed off some of the features for the next version of the TalkBack screen reader for Android devices. Google's Victor Tsaran highlighted several changes for version 5.2, which is set to enter public beta in a couple weeks.
As we announced earlier, KNFB Reader for Windows 10 is here. At that time, we did not have much information as to the specifics, but that has changed with the release of the app The Windows version boasts, among other things, full support for Narrator as well as compatibility with other popular screen readers including NVDA, JAWS and Dolphin SuperNova. It also supports Microsoft's text-to-speech voices."
Today at CSUN, HIMS is officially unveiling its latest product in the line of Braille Sense notetakers known as the Braille Sense Polaris. The Polaris, unlike previous Braille Sense models which have run on Windows CE, will run on Android 5 Lollypop. It will contain many of the Sense suite of applications and also retain much of the menu structure found on all previous models. Features like the Bookshare Downloader, Bard app, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and others which can be downloaded and are usable from the Google Play store are not included.
According to a press release, Sendero has announced the rlease of Sendero GPS 2017 for notetakers and the PC. For the notetaker side, the update is to the points of interest (POI) database and map data. For the PC version, version 2017 introduces the ability to virtually explore by POIs along a street and it also allows the user to virtually enter, display details and exit a POI.
The National Federation of the Blind and Sensotec NV have announced that it will be demoing the upcoming release of KNFB Reader for Windows at the CSUN conference. It appears, from the release, that this app will only run on Windows 10. It will have support for multiple screen readers, as well as its own TTS and support for braille displays. The release further indicates that it will be using similar technology found on the iOS and Android versions of the app, including nearly instant OCR results for pictures, the field of view report, and other options found on the already existing KNFB Reader apps.
KNFB Reader for Windows will cost $19.95 for a limited time, and is compatible with most scanners and available for Windows 10.
An episode of the Blind Abilities podcast tells us of a new 16-cell braille display from HandyTech. According to Earle Harrison of Triumph Technology, the U.S. distributor for HandyTech, the Actilino is a new 16-cell braille display which includes HandyTech's Active Tactile Control, a technology which can automatically advance the braille display based on your hand movements.
ElBraille isn't the only product that has undergone changes and hopes to be available soon after showcasing at CSUN. NeoeAccess is back with a new flavor for the NeoBraille. originally announced just prior to CSUN last year, the device was running on Android and was going to be sold by Irie-At in the U.S. The Irie-At Twitter account has been sending out tweets teasing an announcement, which is now here.
Many of you may recall the VFO Group, then known only as Freedom Scientific, announcing the ElBraille just prior to last year's CSUN conference. This year, ElBraille is back with some upgraded specs and now seems destined for release.
Amazon is the latest company to launch a help desk for disabled customers. To access it from the U.S., call toll-free (888) 283-1678. In addition to the usual technical questions one may ask about using the website or Amazon's services, agents are able to describe product pictures or assist in the shopping process. Of note, they are not allowed to actually place an order for you. It's open from 6 AM-1 AM Eastern time, 7 days a week. Thanks to the Fred's Head Blog for the info.
Those of us who have participated in what is now known as the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference are used to typing a few short characters to use the conference's official Twitter hashtag. Last year it was #CSUN16. But conference organizers have made a change which has resulted in a new hashtag format for this year, #CSUNATC17.
Coming in Version 1.4 of the VarioUltra: Unlocking mobile devices with the Braille Display, UEB Support, and more
Though not publicly available for download, Baum has unveiled what's coming in version 1.4 of the firmware for the VarioUltra braille display. Among the included features is the public beta release of support for Unified English Braille (UEB).
NVAccess has Published the official release for NVDA 2017.1, the first milestone release of the new year. In addition to previously mentioned support for Kindle reading on PC, this update improves support for several Microsoft products including table reading in the Edge web browser and various improvements and changes for Word, and Excel as well as a variety of bug fixes. In case you missed it last week, the complete changelog is below.
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