Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Talking Tech for July 26 2016

Bursaries Open Again from August 1 2016


Six thousand dollar Bursary awards to help with tertiary study have come around again, and you can apply from August 1 2016.  Contact Belinda Wilson at Vision Australia on 1300 847 466.


A Reminder - Microsoft Windows Upgrade for Assistive Tech Users to Remain Free After July 29



A Revolution in Graphical Tactile Displays from APH



Vibrating Space Boots Could Help Astronauts  and the Blind From Bumping in to Obstacles



3D Sound Phone System Offers Sensory Guidance to the Vision Impaired



Monday, 11 July 2016

Talking Tech for July 12 2016

An Interview With the Australian Voice Of Siri


In this episode of Talking Tech Stephen talks with Karen Jacobson who’s voice was used for the basis of the Karen voice that VoiceOver on iOS/OS X, GPs devices, and other systems use.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Talking Tech for June 28 2016

VFO group adding AI Squared


I’m not sure what the implications of this will be, but now e have a single company selling the two major screen readers: JAWS and Window-Eyes, and the two major screen magnification programs: Zoomtext and MAGic.  Then we have OpenBook as well plus all the low vision hardware from FS and Optalec.



Conferences coming up in the US and the UK


National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Convention June 30 to July 5 2016



ACB Conference and Convention July 1-9 2016



Sight Village Conferences Uk 


Various dates and locations: July, September, and November in the uK.



This App Makes the iPhone or iPad Accessible for Deaf Blind People: 

Open Access Captions


Developed by the Brisbane-based Conexu Foundation, the app directly connects callers via a live captioner so that phone conversations can be read as they happen.


Currently in trial, use app (free) to indicate interest in the trial or email hello@conexu.com.au.



9Now on the Apple TV


Finally got a useful live or replay shows app on the Apple TV, 9Now use is quite usable.

The only issue I had was when trying to sign up via the iOS app the agree to privacy agreement checkbox wasn’t accessible, so ended up doing the signup to get a 9Now profile via the website.



Creating a Shortcut file for Mac/Win to open webpages


I’ve been asked this over the years, and only rediscovered this in the last week or so when I got several questions about the same thing.


Very very easy: simply create a file with two lines: [InternetShortCut] URL=“insertWebLink” without the aquotes, and save as a text file with the .url extension.

Note - if your using Textedit on the Mac, turn the rtf Textedit in to a text file via Shift+Command+T.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Talking Tech for June 14 2016

Here are my quick notes for The Apple WWDC 2016.  I have included a link after each section that will take you to the Apple preview page for that section.


A surprise at the end of this post regarding some audio described content.


Watch V3

Faster launching, of apps.

Faster accessing of recently used apps.

Faster replying.

new activity clock face and Numerals clock face.

easy clock face switching.

Making it easier to call emergency services internationally.

Enhancements to the Activity and workout apps.

Activity and workout apps now for  wheel chair users: rolls rather than steps.

New Breathing app.






Updated Remote app for Apple tv including Siri support.

Searching by topics with Siri.

Dark mode on the Apple tv.

When downloading an app on iOS, will now download on Apple tv.

Single sign on for multiple subscription services.






OS X changed to Mac OS.

New version of Mac OS Sierra.

Better continuity including auto unlock from Apple watch, universal clipboard between iOS/Os X., and desktop icons now available on other Macs.

Optimising storage.

Apple pay brought to safari on the web securing via the iPhone touch ID..

Siri will now be on the Mac: search files, search the web, sending messages, finding movies etc.




iOS 10


Better notifications on lock screen with 3d touch.

Siri - better functionality and opening up Siri to developers. 

Keyboarding - beter predictive text functionality.

Enhancements to [Photos, and Maps.

Redesigned News, and Music apps. 

Home Kit now has its own app: Home.

Phone - voice transcriptions of voice mails.  VOIP integration to recents and favourites, lock screen etc. 

Messages -  Emoji   suggestions  from words you type. Richer links.  Faster responses to messages. Opening up Messages to developers.




Swift Playgrounds for iPad


Learn to code with this new app on iPad: will be VoiceOver accessible.




Availability of the New Updates

All previews of TV OS, Mac OS, watch OS and iOS available for developers from today with full 

release this Fall in the US (Spring in Australia).


Watch the Apple Keynote from Apple’s Event page



Apple Leading the Way Again in Making Two of Their Promo Movies Audio Described

I think this may be a first for any mainstream company: have a listen to the iOS 10 intro, and how  developers got in to coding.  Will ned to play these through Safari on iOs or Safari on Mac.

iOS 10 Intro


Watch the film


How Developers Got in to Coding

        Watch the film about how developers got their start.       


NV-Access Announces the next Update of NVDA 16.02.


One of the great outstanding features with this update is the announcement of a mis-spelled word when typing.



Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Talking Tech for June 7 2016

WWDC 2016 June 13-17


Apple’s developer conference is coming yup on June 13. A number of possible things that may be announced besides the fact that it’s a developers conference, the same as Google iO may include:

Developer previews of: iOS V10, OS X 10.12 with Siri integration, Siri SDK for iOs allowing Siri to be integrated into 3rd party apps, new Apple watch and TV os.  

Along with these software releases, we could expect new MacBooks to be announced.


Albert (Accessible) EFTPOS Terminal from the Commonwealth Bank


The following is a link to a demo I did of the Android training tutorial on how to use the accessible pin entry function on the Albert EFTPOS terminal.

Note - you will have to get the merchant to turn the accessible mode on.




BrailleNote Touch from Humanware Now Available


A free tutorial from Mystic Access on the BrailleNote Touch




Go to the Humanware home page for info and price ($7.495):




Sonosthesia The Guide to Setting up Sonos from a Blind Persons Perspective


An excellent guide on how to setup and use the Sonos speaker system.




Top Ten Mac Apps 


My most used Mac apps.



Amadeus Pro,

Audio Hijack,



Mars Edit,


Music Healing,



Monday, 30 May 2016

Talking Tech for May 31 2016

Google iO 2016


The Google developers conference held in May had some exciting announcements.  The major item announced was Google Home which Google describes as:

Google Home is a voice-activated home product that allows you and your family to get answers from Google, stream music, and manage everyday tasks.

It takes what the Amazon Echo, Siri or Cortana can do, and extends the functionality of “Ok Google” almost in to the realms of science fiction.  If you have ever watched the film “Her”, besides the idiotic adult themes in the movie, the rest of what the AI can do sounds very much like Google Home.

If you want to sign up to be notified of developments in Google Home, use the following link:


Here is hoping that unlike the Amazon Echo, that Google Home is available outside of the US.


You can also watch most of the workshops  from Google IO (including 3 on accessibility) through the following link:



Purchase’s to Add to My Connected Home

In the month of May 2016, I purchased several gadgets to extend my Connected Home a bit more.  In particular, I wanted to play with a device that has Home Kit enabled so that I could check its state using Siri, so I decided to purchase the Elgato Room and weather sensors.


Withings Body Analyser and Scales


Flat screen scales which gives you visually on it’s screen your weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), and heart beat.  Whilst this part of the scales is not accessible, the app which gets data from the scales is mostly accessible: i.e. the Withings app which can be used on iOS or Android: Health Mate.


Withings Blood Pressure Monitor


After setup, just put the Blood Pressure cuff  around your arm, press start on the Withings app, and receive your blood pressure in less than 1 minute.  Easy to put the device on and use.


Elgato Room and Weather Sensors


Relatively easy to setup and use with the Eve app.

The sensors are Home Kit enabled so that you can ask Siri to get the current indoor or outdoor temperature and humidity.

Whilst they work, I find using them with Siri is very sluggish, Siri sometimes gets confused about what you said and does a web search instead. The indoor and outdoor sensors don’t seem to be as accurate as other weather sensors I have tried.

I’d recommend my Netatmo Urban Weather Station for two main reasons over Elgato Eve: the Netatmo Urban Station is Wi-Fi based and secondly can be used on iOs or Android, not tied to Home Kit.


VA Connect for Android and iOS Podcasts


A basic introduction to the Vision Australia Connect apps for Android and iOS to access the Vision Australia I-Access service.


VA Connect Android demo:




VA Connect iOS demo:



VoiceView Preview Now Available for Amazon Fire TV


Just note, as far as I know, you can’t officially use Fire TV in Australia.


Are is some info from Amazon past on to me re the Fire TV and their new screen reader.


Today, we’re announcing that we are bring our VoiceView screen reader to Amazon Fire TV. Rolling out today and over this week via a free over-the-air software update to Fire TV customers, this Preview edition of our VoiceView screen reader is part of a larger initiative we’re working on to make Fire TV more accessible to our visual impaired customers.

The VoiceView Preview works by reading on-screen text out loud as you navigate Amazon Video content, menus, and settings on your Fire TV. VoiceView provides enhanced navigation to on-screen content, presenting the rich interface in a fashion that doesn’t depending on the visual layout. You can use the keys on your remote's directional key pad to highlight and hear all available text and information on-screen. 

You can turn on VoiceView by holding down the "Back" and "Menu" buttons on your Fire TV remote at the same time for two seconds. The “Back” and “Menu” buttons are the left and right buttons in the top row of three small buttons.  You will hear "VoiceView Ready" when the feature is enabled and ready to use. The first time you start VoiceView, you will be invited to take a tutorial teaching you the VoiceView commands, as well as helping you learn all of the buttons on your remote.  Also, the first time you encounter significant screens in the Fire TV interface, you will receive a description of that screen, which you can hear again by pressing the Menu button.

Here are some ways to use VoiceView: 

·         Playback Controls – If you press a playback control button (Play/Pause, Rewind/Skip Back, Fast-Forward/Skip Forward) on your remote while an Amazon Video title is playing, VoiceView will tell you which button you've selected. 

·         Double-press the "Menu" button to access additional playback options, including "Watch from Beginning," captions, and "Next Episode" (for TV shows).

·         When your on-screen keyboard is open, VoiceView will read out each character as you move focus to it.

Over the coming months we will be listening to customer feedback and looking at ways to expand VoiceView capabilities. Feel free to try out the feature and please let us know what you think.



Top Ten Gadgets


This is a list of the gadgets that I use all the time at home.


Apple TV,

Apple watch,

Airplay Speakers,


Netatmo Urban Weather Station,

Ring Video Doorbell,

Wahoo Heart Beat Monitor,

Withings Body Analyser and Scales,

Withings Blood Pressure Monitor, and

WeMo switch’s.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Talking Tech for May 17 2016

Trekz Titanium Bone Conduction Head Phones


Just purchased up an update of my 2nd generation of the Bluez 2 Bone Conduction Head phones, and these new ones are much more comfortable to ware.


There is a new distributer of these head phones in Australia:

Alchin Consulting. The web address is 

The retail for $199, and Mr Alchin will donate $5 back to Vision Australia.




Audio Adrenaline Bundle


you can get these 3 excellent audio games: Space Encounter, Audio Rally Racing and Audiospeed at $29.99 Australian as a bundle.




Global Accessibility  Awareness Day May 19 2016


Join the Global Accessibility Day on Thursday, May 19 2016 and mark the fifth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) 


The target audience of GAAD is the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use. While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start.  Awareness comes first


Go to Vision Australia’s webpage to find out what we are doing or look at the official Global Accessibility Awareness Day page:


Vision Australia



Global Accessibility Awareness Day




More Equipment News from Vision Australia


Vision Australia Equipment Solutions will soon be selling over the next few Months Android phones that can come pre-installed with the Synapptic software that I talked on the program previously, and most exciting of all, Vision Australia will be selling a simple to use large print button mobile phone.


The large print button phone should be available sometime in June.


Apple Online Store now with it’s Own Accessibility Category


Apple is now selling through it’s online store a number of products including items for AbleNet, Humanware (Braille displays), and the Skoog tactile music maker.




The 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time


Just an interesting read.

Some of these devices included: 


Sony Discman (age of CDS),

Sony Walkman,

Apple iBooks (first laptop to offer wi-fi), 

Amazon Kindle,

Poleroid camera,


ToMTomTom GPS,

IBM Selecric Typewriter,


Transistor Radio,