<![CDATA[Each Wednesday, we will be bringing you an article of interest as it pertains to the topic of accessibility and we hope you can use it to become more familiar with this particular area. This has become a rapidly growing and very important area and why? Because the number of consumers in this market is growing and will continue to do so for the forseeable future. Governments, corporations, and individuals are paying more attention. Please read on. The Sterling Creations team Follow us on Twitter @accessibleworld. +++++++++++++++ Posted by Dan Thompson This article holds great promise for tomorrow's braille readers. I personally get worried about those who say braille is on its way out because of bulk etc. This camp threatens true literacy of tomorrow's blind/low vison children and adults. If one can not physically recognize a word and only use audio means such as digital books or screenreading software for learning, are still not genuinely literate. So on with the article. More than a Line: What the Future Holds for Refreshable Braille http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw140205 Braille Technology Deborah Kendrick Refreshable braille displays have been an integral piece of the access technology landscape for people who are blind and deaf-blind for more than three decades now. Some have taken the form of simple peripherals, "dumb" add-ons that display the text appearing on a computer screen in braille. Others have been far more complex, enabling text input and manipulation as well as relaying vast amounts of vital information regarding the appearance of text. Still other displays have the built-in features for highly sophisticated personal digital organizers, enabling easy and efficient braille input and output for creating documents, reading books, Web browsing, database management, and a host of other functions. Braille displays over these 30 years have been available in various weights and sizes (from a few ounces to 15 pounds or so) and have offered as few as one braille cell and as many as 85. Most widely used braille displays, however, have been those peripherals and stand-alone devices featuring between 18 and 40 eight-dot braille cells. Whether a refreshable braille device features 12 cells or 80, however, one common denominator has been that all cells are arranged in a single horizontal line. While the notion of reading full screens, full documents, and indeed, entire books on a single 18-, 32-, or 40-character line strikes the uninitiated as hopelessly cumbersome, users of braille have found it an easy enough adjustment to make. For braille users, the independence and control afforded by refreshable braille has been so truly extraordinary that accessing desired information in a continuous linear fashion has been a welcome adjustment considered well worth any inconvenience. Any braille user who grew up prior to the advent of refreshable braille clearly remembers the scarcity of braille material and the difficulty of carrying even a few braille books around all day. With the advent of refreshable braille machines, we braille users could suddenly carry hundreds of books, create and edit our own documents, read and write e-mail, browse the Web, manage databases, maintain calendars, and more and this all in a device less than half the size of a single hard copy braille volume. To have such access to and command of written information in the familiar environment of braille makes that single line, albeit sometimes only long enough to hold a few words, easy enough to tolerate. Reaching for More Meanwhile, alongside the celebration of such a revolution in information access, the human imagination stretches to embrace future possibilities. Delicious rumors of a someday, someway, perhaps maybe possible multi-line refreshable braille display have circulated and been on the dream lists of avid braille users for just about as long as braille displays themselves have been in our hands. While countless individuals who read and write braille have adapted to (indeed, sometimes prefer) reading books on a single refreshable line of braille cells, the notion of more than one such line on a display is tantalizing. For reading certain types of material (science, mathematics, or poetry, to name but a few), the availability of more than one line to provide context can, quite simply, enable a reader to comprehend concepts and formats that are, at best, elusive when presented as one continuous braille line. Center for Braille Innovation When Brian Mac Donald assumed the role of president at National Braille Press (NBP) in Boston five years ago, he spent a year or so getting the lay of the land, restructuring, stabilizing existing operations, and looking at the future of braille. Already, National Braille Press was offering its materials in electronic as well as hardcopy paper formats, but Mac Donald recognized that more efficient methods for promoting braille literacy were needed. The Center for Braille Innovation was formed to explore and develop ways in which technology could be used to promote braille literacy. Deane Blazie, renowned pioneer who introduced the first personal notetaker designed for braille users, the Braille 'n' Speak, in 1987, immediately became involved as did Mike Romeo, another access technology pioneer and past employee of Blazie Engineering. By pooling the talents of Blazie, Romeo, and dozens of others contributing input and research, the Center for Braille Innovation has seen two significant projects emerge. First, a braille tablet called B2G (Braille to Go) is a multi-function robust Android device with a 20-cell braille display, ergonomic braille keyboard, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, onboard microphone, speakers, and the flexibility of installing Android apps to do anything from reading your junk mail to mapping your route to the library. The B2G is expected to be available by summer 2013 and at a price significantly lower than other braille notetakers currently available. The other project occupying the Center for Braille Innovation has been the pursuit of a multi-line refreshable braille display. National Braille Press is a leading producer of braille textbooks and proficiency tests at all educational levels, where the need for tactile graphical representations is particularly important. By 2015, Brian Mac Donald explained in a recent phone interview, most educational testing (state proficiency tests and others) will be presented to all students in electronic formats. Thus, students who are blind will need an electronic equivalent, a means of accessing both text and graphical material in a real-time digital environment. The major stumbling block for individuals and organizations worldwide attempting to address the multi-line refreshable braille issue has been cost. Mac Donald cited, for example, a device funded by the German government that could display a full page but at a per-unit cost of 45,000 euros! Most of that obviously prohibitive cost sprang from the braille cells used. Piezoelectric cells, the braille cells typically employed in refreshable braille products, are readable, resilient, and expensive. Currently, an 18-cell braille display sells for around $2,000 and a 40-cell display from $3,000 to $6,000. Following these examples, then, a four, five, or six-line display might cost in the range of $25,000 to $40,000, prices which are clearly beyond the reach of most braille users. Welcoming Nitinol The Center for Braille Innovation has explored a variety of braille cell construction possibilities, from polymer to rubber bands as Mac Donald puts it, and has finally found what may be the answer. Nitinol, an alloy comprising roughly equal parts nickel and titanium, is known for remarkable shape memory capabilities. When heated, nitinol wire contracts, but when cooled, it still retains its shape. It is also relatively inexpensive. In 2012, a prototype display using nitinol for its tactile representation was developed by the Center for Braille Innovation. The display features 5 lines of 40 braille cells, each with an array for a tactile graphic above these lines. The possibilities of such a display, particularly in the realms of science and mathematics, could represent an entirely new paradigm in accessing information and visual concepts for children and adults who are blind. At this point, no one knows for sure what the resulting unit will look like. Will it have four lines or ten lines or somewhere in between? Will it have a mechanism for depicting bar charts and illustrations above, below, or beside the text? To what extent will the user be able to manipulate the information that the unit displays? These and countless other questions regarding the final product are issues yet to be resolved. What we know for sure is that Brian Mac Donald and the NBP Center for Braille Innovation are determined to find a solution for presenting students who are blind with digital information, both text and graphics, in an electronic environment equivalent to that of sighted students and at an affordable price. Whether the resulting braille display will be in the hands of users this year or next is still unknown, but what does seem clear is that there will be a multi-line braille display that includes a space for tactile graphical representations, and its cells will be made from nitinol. The refreshable braille display that is "more than a line" is finally looming in our foreseeable future. Comment on this article. Previous Article | Next Article | Table of Contents Copyright © 2013 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved. AccessWorld is a trademark of the American Foundation for the Blind. Product Evaluations Aaron Preece In the United States, it is currently very difficult to find an accessible platform for viewing television programming. With Apple TV, Apple has provided an accessible way for users who are blind or visually impaired to access content on their television. Apple TV uses your Internet connection to provide you with access to the wide range of titles available from the iTunes Store as well as providing access to Netflix, Hulu+, YouTube, and more. It is important to note, however, that Apple TV does not provide access to standard cable or satellite programming. Programs are either purchased from iTunes individually or accessed from a subscription service, such as Netflix. Since the AccessWorld evaluation of Apple TV 2nd Generation in April 2011 , Apple TV has seen numerous software updates in its 3rd Generation. I will evaluate the changes to the interface of Apple TV since the last review as well as the accessibility of the latest software. Unboxing and the Physical Description of Apple TV and Apple Remote The Apple TV box contains the Apple TV unit, a power cable, an Apple remote, and setup instructions in standard print. Apple kindly provides these setup instructions in an accessible PDF format on the Apple Support Manuals page devoted to Apple TV . You must also have an HDMI cable to connect Apple TV to your HDMI-equipped television or monitor. The Apple TV Device The Apple TV unit takes the form of a flattened cube measuring 0.9 by 3.9 by 3.9 inches and weighing 0.6 pounds. The top of the device is smooth and flat with a glossy inlay of the Apple logo with the letters "TV" next to it. The front and sides of the device are glossy and house the infrared receiver. The back of the device contains the Ethernet port, the power adapter port, an HDMI port, and an optical audio port, which are all easily discerned by touch. The bottom of the device is slightly convex and contains an image of the Apple logo in a flattened circular area. The Remote The Apple remote is a flattened, narrow rectangle of aluminum. The top contains the buttons for controlling the Apple TV, and these lie close to the front edge of the remote. The first button is a large circle that serves as arrow keys. The circle is raised away from a concave "Select" button in the center. Below are two buttons: "Back/Menu" on the left and "Play/Pause" on the right. The "Back/Menu" button is concave, and the "Play/Pause" button is convex for easier identification. The back contains the battery compartment, which looks like a raised circle with a vertical line indented into the center. This disc can be turned like a screw to reveal the battery in a circular hollow beneath it. Overall, the remote was easy to navigate and use because of its low number of buttons and their clear differentiation from each other. Setup Once you have connected Apple TV to your television and a power outlet, you must find the HDMI input channel that it is connected to. Note that the accessibility of this process will depend on your television manufacturer. Once you are on the correct channel, you will be prompted to set your language and wireless network. Initially, VoiceOver is not activated, but if you wait a few moments, a voice will explain how to activate VoiceOver with your remote. To do this, you press the "Play/Pause" button three times in quick succession. VoiceOver describes the location of this button in its instructions for activating it, so even if you have never used the Apple remote before, you can easily find the button. From this point, VoiceOver will explain what you must do on each screen. When you use the arrows to navigate among the options available, VoiceOver will read them. Overall, the setup process is extremely accessible and easily accomplished by a person who is blind or visually impaired. User Interface The interface on Apple TV 3rd Generation has changed since the last evaluation in the April 2011 issue of AccessWorld. The Main Menu After you have finished the initial setup process, the first item in the main menu will be highlighted. The main menu consists of a grid of icons. The first row of icons contains the main items: Movies, TV Shows, Music, Computers, and Settings. When one of these icons is highlighted, associated content pops up in a navigable bar at the top of the screen. For example, if you highlight the TV Shows icon and arrow upwards, you will find yourself in a row of icons that display the most popular TV shows. If an icon does not have associated content (for example, the Settings icon), the top of the screen remains blank, and you are unable to navigate to it. Certain icons, such as Music and Computers, have descriptions of their function that appear in the bar at the top of the screen. These are read by VoiceOver after a moment of waiting. There are three rows of icons below the top row. VoiceOver recognizes these as a separate list from the top icons because it reports their position (for example, 4 of 13 icons) without taking into account the icons in the top row. Likewise, VoiceOver only alerts you to five icons when you are in the top row. Associated content does not appear for the icons below the first row. You can change the order of the icons beginning in the second row by highlighting an icon and holding down the "Select" button on your remote. Voice Over will announce that you are in Moving Mode, and as you move about with the arrows, VoiceOver will announce what position you have moved the selected icon to. Icons move by switching places with the icon in the direction that you pressed. You can drop the icon by pressing "Select" again, and VoiceOver will alert you that you are out of Moving Mode. Application User Interface Apple TV applications have almost an identical user interface. Applications contain vertical lists of options that can be selected. These lists always appear as bright text on a black background. When displaying content, Apple TV displays a large icon grid. This grid is different from the main menu. Each row of icons is a separate category of content, and you can cycle through it by pressing the left and right arrows. To change categories, you move upwards and downwards. When entering data, Apple TV always uses the same keyboard with minor changes. The keyboard appears as a grid of letters in alphabetical order with numbers and symbols positioned after the letters. The keyboard can be adjusted by arrowing to tabs above the character grid. These tabs allow you to change the letters to capital letters as well as view a grid of symbols that are not displayed in the main alphabet grid. You can also change the alphabet grid from tab to tab by pressing the "Play/Pause" button. To the right of the grid, you will see a "Submit" button if you are entering login credentials or search results if you are searching for content. The search results are in a column and update instantly as you type. When you select a piece of content, you are provided with the details of that content as well as icons for interacting with the content (for example, playing or purchasing it). Often, the applications will provide you with a list of content that is related to the content you have selected. Video playback is full screen, and you are able to play, pause, fast forward, or rewind the video or audio. If you exit from content playback, playback stops and your position in the content is lost. This occurs for all applications except for the Internet Radio application. Radio stations will continue to play until you attempt to play another piece of content. VoiceOver Performance VoiceOver on the Apple TV is simple to control and allows someone who is blind or visually impaired to access the device in its entirety. VoiceOver will read what item you highlight with the arrows, and will read any associated content if you wait for a moment. VoiceOver will also read text on a screen that is not navigable. For example, when you are updating the device's software, you will be presented with a status alert with options you are able to select. VoiceOver reads the text and, then, reads the option that is selected. This is also true for edit fields and content descriptions. The only area in which VoiceOver does not speak is during video playback. VoiceOver reads the title of radio stations and audio podcasts, but when fast-forwarding or rewinding, VoiceOver does not speak. VoiceOver can only be activated with a keystroke during setup, which is accomplished by pressing the "Play/Pause" button three times. After setup is finished, VoiceOver can only be enabled or disabled from the Accessibility Menu in Settings. You can set the "Back/Menu" button to act as a shortcut to the Accessibility Menu so that VoiceOver can be activated and deactivated quickly and easily. This also removes the need to memorize menus if you would like to activate VoiceOver without sighted assistance. VoiceOver does not have any keystrokes to perform specific tasks. All of the information that you need to use Apple TV successfully is given automatically using only standard controls. A keystroke to silence speech or to reread a message that cannot be navigated to would be useful as you currently need to exit a screen and reenter it to have a non-navigable message read a second time. Applications Apple TV comes with many applications preinstalled. At this time, it is not possible to download extra applications. The following are the applications on Apple TV with a brief description of each: * Movies: Purchase or rent movies from the iTunes Store. * TV Shows: Purchase TV Shows from the iTunes Store. You can purchase individual episodes or complete seasons. * Music: Use iTunes Match to access your music library from iCloud. * Computers: Use Home Sharing. You will need an Apple ID to do this and have Home Sharing activated on your Mac or Windows computer running iTunes. * Netflix: Stream content from Netflix. Netflix is a service that allows you to stream many TV shows and movies for a small monthly fee. You must be subscribed to Netflix to use this feature. If you are not subscribed to Netflix, you can obtain a one-month free trial within the application. After this point, you will be charged for Netflix Internet streaming if you do not cancel your subscription. * Hulu+: Access content from Hulu+. Hulu+ is also a service that provides access to streaming movies and TV shows. You must be a Hulu+ subscriber to use this application, and you can obtain a one-week free trial if you are not a Hulu+ subscriber. You will be charged after the week of free access unless you cancel your subscription. * Trailers: Stream movie trailers for free. You can also view show times for your local area. * YouTube: Access videos from the popular website YouTube. * Vimeo: Access Vimeo content, which is a video sharing website similar to YouTube. * Podcasts: Access many podcasts for free. You are able to add podcasts to your favorites for easier access. * Radio: Access thousands of Internet radio stations. * WSJ Live: View content for free from the Wall Street Journal, including videos created by the Wall Street Journal as well as live streaming podcasts. * Photo Stream: Using iCloud, you can view your pictures in your Photo Stream album. Pictures can be automatically uploaded to iCloud from an iOS device or transferred to iCloud from a computer. The iCloud service is free Internet storage that is tied to your Apple ID. * Flickr: View images from the Flickr Internet photo storage service. * MLB TV, NBA, and NHL: Watch archived and live games with a subscription to their respective services and view standings and scores for their respective leagues for free. * Settings: Adjust your settings for your Apple TV. This is where you can activate VoiceOver as well. Airplay and Remote Application Apple Airplay allows you to play content from an iOS device through Apple TV. This process is accessible, and VoiceOver on Apple TV will read the content that is being streamed from your iOS device. Using the Remote application on an iOS device, you are able to control Apple TV as if your iOS device is a remote. This is useful when you enter text as you are able to use the keyboard on the iOS device instead of the alphabet grid on Apple TV itself. Establishing a connection is easily done for both of these processes. Airplay requires only that your iOS device is on the same wireless network as your Apple TV and that both devices are running appropriate versions of their operating systems. The Remote application requires that your iOS device is on the same wireless network as your Apple TV and that you have the same Apple ID registered both in the Remote application and on your Apple TV. Apple TV 3rd Generation comes equipped to use the Airplay process, but you will need to have iOS 4.3 on your iOS device to use this capability. Low Vision Access At this time, there are not any extra options to make Apple TV accessible to users who have low vision. The icons are very high contrast with dark spaces in between, and lists of options are bright with a dark background. Messages that appear on-screen are likewise bright text on a black background. This can be useful for a person with low vision as they are able to determine how many options are available on any given screen. The Bottom Line Overall, Apple has delivered a powerful product with nearly full accessibility. The lack of keystrokes when using VoiceOver makes for a very slight learning curve so that users who are blind or visually impaired can learn to use the device within minutes. Keystrokes for muting speech and rereading messages would be beneficial but are not necessary for your successful use of Apple TV. Likewise, the addition of VoiceOver feedback during video playback would be beneficial for determining if a video is loaded and how much time has passed when rewinding or fast forwarding. However, these are minor issues that are easily accommodated. We commend Apple for continuing to provide excellent accessibility to their products and would highly recommend Apple TV 3rd Generation to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.]]>
- When customer reps redeem the images of their companies
- When customer reps redeem the images of their companies
- Artificial or attitude? I am still trying to figure this one out and I have to admit that I may never be able to do so. This so-called artificial/attitude barrier has been around much longer than I and this is what it is. Too often, whenever someone with a disability is accompanied by either a friend or family member, they are asked if the accompanying person is a care giver. Recently, I was asked this same question when my friend accompanied me to a lab to have some tests done. The lab technician could not seem to stop herself in asking this question and she was very surprised when both my friend and I said in unison that we were friends. Why should she have been surprised? Was it that she along with so many others around us really do not expect us to have friends who accompany us to appointments? Or is it that they think we need care givers to escort us? Or is it simply that they just do not know what to ask? I do my best to be patient but sometimes I become frustrated and simply tell them that I do not need a care giver. Or I may just turn the question back to them and ask why do they think that my escort is my care giver? 99% of the time there is no response. One of my favourite memories is the day when my mom accompanied me to a pre op appointment and the medical assistant asked if mom was my nurse! On this occasion I could not help but burst into peals of laughter. My mom was speechless! After taking a-hold of myself I gently told the medical assistant that she was my mom; not my nurse. And very recently my friend and I accompanied my mom to the dentist and lo and behold! They thought my friend was a care giver and asked me for her phone number. When I told the staff that she was not our care giver but our friend they were shocked but at least had the manners to apologize. Just my two cents for today. Image: Five blue accessibility logos, hearing impaired, sign language, wheelchair, restroom with wheelchair and guide dog. To learn more about me as a sight loss coach visit www.donnajodhan.com
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