Monday, 14 July 2014

Talking TEch for July15 2014

Update on Texpo 2014 Locations.


Texpo locations have been confirmed:

Melbourne: 10 and 11 October.

Sydney: 17 and 18 October.


The ACCAN Apps for All Challenge Extended to July 23 2014


There is still time to submit your accessible app as part of the App for All Challenge with the date being extended to Wednesday July 23 2014.


The categories in which you can submit your nominations include: most accessible main stream app, most innovative app for seniors, most accessible children’s app, and most accessible game app.


Submit your nominations to:


Zagga - Upcoming Video Description On Demand Streaming Service


This service is to come online in the fall or spring on our side of the world.  This paid subscription service will allow you to stream audio described movies, TV shows etc to your computer, phone or tablet.

The subscription price will be comparable to other paid subscription services.  Even though the service is world wide, due to copyright restrictions, some content will only be available in certain countries.

You can sign up now to register for the service, and you will be noticed when it is online.

They have a few sample video s which you can watch/lisen to including Up, Toy Story, and a few others.


AccessWorld for July 2014


Amongst other things in this issue were the Perkins Smart Brailler, ($2195) and the ScanSnap SV600 over head scanner ($799).


A More Certain Future for NVDA


The developers of NVDA have received a grant from the NIPPON foundation which will ensure the ongoing development and support of this free screen reader for Windows in to the future.


The Japan-based Nippon Foundation supports many social innovation projects, including those which enhance the lives of disabled people in the developing world. NVDA is valued by people in over 120 countries, but it has a particularly profound effect on the lives of people in developing countries. Without NVDA, blind people in many developing countries would never have been able to use a computer.


Finger Reader - a device to read out printed text to the blind


a Prototype from MIT for reading text on a printed page by sliding your across a line of text at a time.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Talking Tech for July 1 2014

Changes to Vision Australia Texpo Dates for 2014


Vision Australia’s technology exhibition (Texpo) which used to be held in August, will now be held in October.  In addition, rather than being held at 3 sites (Sydney, Melbourne, and  Brisbane), it will now be held at two sites to be rotated yearly.


Texpo will be on the 10th/11th and the 17th/18th of October, with the locations yet to be decided.


The Voice Dream Reader app allowing easier access to Vision Australia I-Access Online DAISY service


The Voice Dream Reader app which currently runs on iOS (iPhone, iPod touch or iPad), makes it very easy to access the I-Access service via the Add/Web site function.


In Apple news


The 16GB iPod touch seems to have vanished from the online Apple store, and whilst it came back in the US store cheaper, it has not reappeared in the Australian store.  At the moment, there is only the 32gb/64GB iPod touch’s, although reduced in price: $299.00 and $349.00 respectively.


Interestingly, the other week I said that VoiceOver has been around for 5 years now, well it turns out that on June 29 2014, the iPhone was released 7 years ago.


This week, iOS 7.12, Apple TV 6.2, and Mavericks 10.9.4 were all released.


5 Ways Google is Taking on Apple from Google iO held in June 2014 - from Macworld


1. Android L verses iOS 8.

2. Android TV/ChromeCast verses Apple TV.

3. Android Auto verses Car Play.

4. Google Fit verses Health Kit.

5. Android Ware verses the iWatch.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Talking Tech for June 24 2014

BEN Bluetooth Speaker Band


A couple of Talking Tech programs ago, I said that I was going to purchase this little Bluetooth speaker that you wear on your wrist, which I have now done, and it is absolutely fantastic.  I can listen to music or audio books, and rather than having to take my phone out of my pocket to answer a call, I can just use the band on my wrist.

Here is a demo of the speaker I did on my podcast feed


And here is the link to BEM Wireless Speaker Band page:


Amazon Fire phone


This is a new phone which will only be available in the US, initially, but it is good to see Amazon ensuring that it will be accessible via a number of accessibility features, much like the Kindle Fire HD eBook reader.


Features include screen reader, screen magnification, high contrast combinations, captioning, hearing aid support, TTY, mono stereo, voice recognition, one handed mode operation, 


Good summary article written by Media Access Australia.


And here is the link to the Amazon Fire phone page itself:


VoiceOver for iOS just celebrated its fifth birthday


Yes, VoiceOver for the iPhone is now 5 years old, released on June 19 2009, I still remember by shock when I learned that it really did work, and how much Apple got it wright.


Here is a blog article from Applevis celebrating 5 years of Voiceover, and it does reflect my exact feelings and hopes for VoiceOver.


New iPad app - Exploring Braille with Madilyn and Ruff


This app allows children who are blind to learn the Braille alphabet.  For low vision children, Braille is displayed on the screen of the iPad, whilst a refreshable Braille display can be used for children who are blind to both hear the instructions and read in Braille.


Two main selections:

Teach Me - Flash cards (each letter is spoken, dot combination, letter is displayed and the child can then choose next to go on to the next letter), and Alpha guide  puts the Braille letters up automatically both speaking the letter, dot combination and displaying the Braille letter)).

Let’s Play - Reading (select the correct letter when spoken from several choices),Write the Braille letter when asked on the Braille display) and Writing.


Here is the link to Exploring Braille in the iTunes Store:


BlindSquare 2.02 (GPS) now supports Bluetooth keyboards in Braille devices with input keyboards


You can get help for the commands in BlindSquare by simply entering a question mark to get a list of all help topics or by entering a topic followed by a question mark.  Works quite well, and it a great way to remind yourself about how to use Blind Square.


BrailleSense v8.2 has been released


Amongst other features, the update to the Braillesense 8.2 allows you do use Facebook besides Twitter.


Other new features include creating and running macros, waking up to your favorite music or radio station, have a 2nd word processor file open, record a daisy book with the daisy player and insert headings, pages etc.


Here is a link to the HIMS page where you can download a audio demo of the new features in V8.2.


Inquisitors Heart Beat game for Mac and PC


A follow-up to the original Inquisitor adventure, this game is again self voicing, works on Mac or PC and will also be available on iOS.


In this game, the inquisitor himself has been charged with Heresy, thrown in to a dungeon for reading a forbidden book, and now he needs to escape out of the dungeon past soldiers and monsters to get the book before it is destroyed.


When I checked, there was no trial of the game, just an option to purchase the Mac or PC version at the moment.


No sign of the iOS version yet.


Here is a link to the webpage.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Talking Tech for June 17 2014

Catching up on the WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) 2014 1st week in Jun


A bit late, but I wanted to still go through the main items for the beta’s of iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 called Yosemite.




1. 10.10 called Yosemite.

2. New transparent theme with dark theme.

3. Notifications Centre with iOS like today view.  Widgets available from the Mac App Store for Stocks etc.

4. Spotlight now appears in the middle of the screen, and search’s not only on the Mac but on the internet as well.

5. Safari stream lined with most controls hidden allowing a larger viewing area of a webpage.

6. Can send large files using Mail via iCloud or as a link to non iCloud users.

7. If you have an iPhone: Messages can now send/receive SMS messages.  Short audio clips can also now be recorded.

8. iCloud drive to share documents between all devices using iCloud.

9. Make/receive iPhone calls on your Mac.

10. Handoff: What ever you are working on your Mac, hand it off to another device or if you have started something on your iPhone, finish it off on your Mac.

11. Easily connect to personal hotspot on your iPhone.


iOS 8


1. Photos now accessible on all devices.

2. Add Audio or video to a Message plus add current location. Can also lift phone to your ear to reply to an audio message.

3. Access recently contacted people from the App Switcher.

4. Predictive word suggestions when using the on-screen keyboard.

5. Ability to use a 3rd keyboard such as Fleksy when available.

6. Family sharing for up to 6 people with Music, iBooks and apps.

7. Access to iCloud drive.

8. Handoff with Mac.

9. All Health Apps will now be able to talk to each other.

10 Enhancements to Spotlight.

11. Improvements to enterprise functionality.

12 Extended functionality to apps including access to touch id.  In addition, developers will be able to have videos of their apps in the App Store plus give users test drive versions.

13. Home kit will allow various home smart appliances to talk together.

14. New modern programming language called Swift with 4.000 new API’s.

15. The Clock app icon now has the time on it, including seconds.

16. Double tap and hold on an individual email and swipe to the left will send the email to the Trash

17. When touching on the Dock, VoceOver will say Dock then the name of the app: e.g. Dock Safari.

18. Can check Battery app specific usage in Settings, General, Usage, Battery.

19. In Notifications Centre, only two tabs now: Today and Notification tabs.

20. iBooks now comes pre-installed rather than having to download it to a new device.

21. Airplay no loner requires a wi-fi connection to play to an Apple TV.

22. Manage AppID from iCloud in Settings.





1. Can now say “hay Siri” if ;plugged in to power to activate Siri without touching the device.  Option controlled by the new Voice Activation toggle in  Settings Siri

2. Siri can now listen to a song and tell you what it is.

3. Siri will take  you to the iTunes store to [purchase a song after it has identified it.



1. Enhancements to System Zoom.

2. New Grey scale feature for low vision folks.

3. VoiceOver now has a Braille input keyboard plus access to the Alex voice usually found on OS X: only available on the iPhone 5s and the most recent iPad.  You can toggle audio ducking on/off via the rotor.  New Braille page turning option toggle.  New typing mode selection of standard, touch and direct.

4. Use touch id to exit guided access.

5. Speak screen.

6. Besides captioning, now supports video description (which assuming is audio description).

Monday, 26 May 2014

Talking Tech for May 27 2014¬

Some Podcasts from Vision Australia to Add to your Podcast Catcher (such as iTunes etc)


As promised last week, here are a few podcasts for you to download or stream from Vision Australia. I have also put in the link for  Talking Tech as well.  Most of the podcast names are self explanatory, but Hear This is the podcast from the Vision Australia Library, and Talking Vision is a podcast on news and interviews in relation to the blind or low vision community.





Hear This


Talking Tech


Talking Vision

Luis Perez Presentation's at Vision Australia Sydney and Brisbane May 2014

More than 100 people who are blind or have low vision gathered in Sydney (Enfield) and Brisbane (Coorparoo) to hear from Luis Perez, an American educator, author, presenter and inclusive learning consultant with a passion for accessibility and universal design.


Use the following links to listen to either presentation.






The OwnFone Braille


Produced by 3d printing technology, can have from 2 to 4 Braille buttons which will call preset numbers set by the purchaser when the phone is made, can have colours and pictures on the phone, and currently is available in the UK for $60 but company looking at expanding internationally.


In Australia, the OwnFone is currently sold for seniors and children strting from $70 with either a pre-paid or paid plan.  On the Australian website, it is noted that the Braille button based phone will be coming soon.


The first following link is to the Australian website for the Seniors or children’s phone, and the 2nd link is an article about the Braille addition of the OwnFone.


 yThese bone conduction head phones have been previously available in a wired version, and now the 2nd version of the Bluetooth model.


I think the bottom line to this review, is that given the cost of the ear phones, it is a good idea to try them out first, and there are some quirky issues with VoiceOver and Siri with the audio.


Hands On with LG’s Heart Rate monitor Ear Phones - From TechHive


These ear phones sound interesting, besides the thing you stick in your ear and wrap a wire around your ear.  Can monitor on a smart phone, but I have know idea if the app is accessible for blind or low vision folks.


BEM Wireless Speaker Band - From TUAWB


This is a Bluetooth wireless speaker which like the name suggests, is on a band that you can ware on your wrist.


If features a speaker beneath a grill, talking caller ID,  Play/Pause, Answer, inbuilt microphone to connect to your phone/use Siri, 6 hours battery life recharged by a micro UsB port, and 6 band colours.


Oh and yes, I’ve actually ordered one, and will do an audio demo on it as soon as it arrives.


Does the Digital Age spell the End of Braille - From The Independent


I actually think not, perhaps Braille hard copy books may decrease, but electronic Braille will still be around: still important for education and literacy.


Incorrect Posture and Tech Use can lead to Injury - From Mashable


Posture at your desk is important when using your computer.  Hand and thumb injures due to texting can occur with smaller phone screens.  Repated button pressing on non touch screens can lead to damage in the tips of our fingers according to a source sighted in this article..


49 Million Tons of Electronic  Waste Generated in 2012 - From Mashable


This just goes to show you how much stuff we actually throw away and appreciate manufacturers like Apple wwhwho actually have a recycling program.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Talking Tech for May 20 2014

Catching Up With Other Stories Not Covered In Talking Tech 


My Twitter feed is where I favourite all of the stories that I may or may not cover during the Talking Tech program for the week.  You can use my Twitter feed favorites to see what all the stories I have been collecting. 


Global Access Day


Global Access Day May Have Been Last Week, but here Are Ten Things You Can Still DO - From Media Access Australia. 

I just picked their top 5 and generalised a little bit.

1. Make links on webpages meaningful.

2. Transcribe your podcas.

3. Provide captioning for video content.

4. Provide audio description for video content.

5. Have a go at the inbuilt accessibility options found in most operating systems for desktop and mobile. 


My Podcast Of The RIVO Keyboard from Mobience 


I mentioned in the show last week that I was going to do a demo of the RIVO keyboard, so here is the direct link to the audio demo. 

Here is the Mobience website again for your info. 


New Remote Access in BlindSquare 


Great new feature in accessing the BlindSquare GPS app from ear phones that have the clicker for Play/Pause, Previous, and Next. If you press Play, you will start going through various options including Location, Sleep Mode, Look Around, Around me, Start Tracking, GPS Info, Time, add Place, and Weather.  Pressing Play on one of these options selects it, and in some cases deselects it: e.g. such as Sleep Mode toggle. If you also press the Play button twice and hold, this extends the area around you for BlindSquare to search, and press the Play button 3 times and holding decreases the area. 


Some other new features include Weather as above in the remote function: also to be found in Tools.  You can also share your current or simulated location with other people as well.  The button above your Home button also cycles between compass heading, speed, and GPS accuracy. 


Here is a podcast from going through BlindSquare plus the new features. 


Here is the BlindSquare link in the App Store: 


A Couple Of Announcements From Apple 


OS X 10.9.3 Officially Released, iTunes 11.2 released, and Podcasts for iOS released as well. 


If you have not yet got the update to 10.9.3, in the App Store app from the Dock, choose check for Updates with Command+5. If you haven't got the Apple Podcast app yet, here is the link: 


My two take away points from these releases is that both iTunes and the podcasts app can stream podcasts rather than having to download them.  In addition, you can get Siri to play a podcast by saying “play podcast name”. 


Transcribing Recorded Audio To Text Using the Mac 


I came across this great tip for using the Mac’s inbuilt dictation feature to transcribe recorded audio (such as a meeting, instructions etc) in to text using a utility called Sound Flower which allows you to pipe audio from one application to another on the Mac. Here is how you do it.


1. Download and Install Sound Flower.

2. In System Preferences Dictation and Speech, change the Microphone to Sound  Flower 2ch (which just stands for 2 channels).  So in effect, we’re recording the output of Sound Flower rather than a microphone listening to our voice directly dictate.

3. In your favourite recording app for the Mac such as Audacity or Amadeus Pro, change your output to Sound Flower 2ch.  So in effect, we’re sending the audio we are about to play out to Sound Flower which will then be picked up by the Macs dictation function.

4. Open a text editing application on your Mac such as TextEditt.  This is what we will be using to capture  dictation.

5. Now open up an audio file in your recording application, and start playing,.  You want here anything as the audio output is going to Sound Flower.

6. Jump back to TextEdit, press the FN key twice to start dictation, the audio now coming out of the recording application will now be being translated in to text in TextEdit.

7. For sighted people, when you stop seeing new text appear, you know the audio has finished as which point you can press the FN key again.  For folks using VoiceOver, I usually determine how long the audio file will be playing, and set a timer: so when the timer is up, just press the FN key.Its


sounds like a lot of work, but when your actually doing it, it is quite straightforward. All you are doing is sending the output of your recording app via Sound  Flower to the Macs inbuilt dictation function. Sound Flower 


Here is the link to Sound Flower: Amadeus Pro 

Here is the link in the Mac App Store to Amadeus Pro which is the recording app that I use:

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Talking Tech for May 13 2014

Revisiting the Hills Set Top Box Story from Last week/post


No problem, Hills still manufacturing, Vision Australia working on stock to get in.


My Experience with the RIVO (Remote Input to VoiceOver) custom Bluetooth Keyboard


Never thought I would want another Bluetooth style keyboard, but because the RIVO keyboard is so VoiceOver specific, it fits in well with the rest of my keyboards.


Find it particularly useful when I am on the treadmill and I can use single button press’s to perform multiple finger gestures.  Only exception to this so far is the command to start/stop music and to answer/hang up a call, but can’t have everything (smile).


Fleksy is Back with Their Main App being Accessible


People might remember that a few months ago the developers of the Fleksy app made a separate accessible app: Fleksy VO: the point being that the main Fleksy app was no longer accessible.  A couple of weeks ago, they made their main app accessible again.


AccessWorld for May 2014


Amongst the articles in this issue: evaluating the accessibility of Microsoft Office for the iPad and an article on My Fitness Pal.


The Word app in particular is quite disappointing.


I use the FitBit app on my iPhone which is similar to the Fitness Pal, still find I am exercising a lot more.


Global  Access Day May 15 2014


It is Global Access day on May 15 where we can celebrate digital accessibility, here is a link to take you to a site where you can get more information.