If you are looking for information on Macs, Apple TV, the Apple Watch, or iOS devices, chances are extremely good that a podcast or blog post from David Woodbridge will be able to answer your questions. His podcasts are very user-friendly and spoken in a clear and pleasant voice. Most of his podcasts concern Apple products but he also does presentations on non-Apple tech products such as keyboards and speakers.

Woodbridge lives with his wife, Ellen, and two sons, ages 9 and 10, in New South Wales. He has four other children from a previous marriage and a granddaughter. He works for Vision Australia, that country's first national blindness agency. Vision Australia is located in Sydney, a one-hour train commute from his home. He records podcasts both at home and at Vision Australia.

Woodbridge described himself as five feet eleven inches tall, with brown hair that is going gray. His eyes are blue and he said that he is slightly overweight. He added, "When you've got a tech job and you're sitting on your backside all day, you really need to keep moving." The activity tracker feature in the Apple Watch is one of the reasons he purchased the product.

Born four weeks premature, Woodbridge was sighted at birth, but progressively lost vision as he grew older. He learned braille when he was 8 years old. Though he does not have any useable vision, bright sunlight still hurts his eyes. During his final year of high school, he had the opportunity to take a computer course. He explained, "It wasn't an official course; it was this professor of computing who wanted to, I guess, prove to the world that blind people can do computer science." He did well and as a result wanted to study computer science at the University of Sydney. Unfortunately, people discouraged him by saying he did not have the technical aptitude to do anything with computers or computer science. Instead, he got a degree in social work. He spent the next four years doing alcohol and drug counseling.

In 1990, Woodbridge received a phone call from the Royal Blind Society, one of the organizations that merged into Vision Australia, offering him a job as a technology resource officer. Fortunately for the blindness community he accepted the position and he is still there today. His job responsibilities include working on the Help Desk, providing technology information to people who are blind or low vision. He gets most of the calls regarding Apple products. He also records his podcasts and is grateful that Vision Australia gives him the time to do them. He explained, "I've got to be in the right frame of reference to do a podcast, so if I'm feeling touchy or irritable I'm not going to do a podcast because it comes over in your voice." He also does "Talking Tech," a weekly radio program about technology for blind and low vision. Every two months, he does "Tech Bytes" in order to update Vision Australia technology services staff on the latest tech information. He also does workshops for outside agencies and Vision Australia staff.

Woodbridge is part of a small group of volunteers that works closely with Apple in Australia. He explained, "The fact that I can pick up any Apple product and actually use it out of the box, which is what I've been saying almost from the word 'go,' it's a real game changer." He continued, "This morning my Mac didn't start properly so I just rebooted and it worked. Sometimes VoiceOver goes off and I just press Command + F5 to turn it on again or [if that happens] with the Apple TV, [by] triple clicking the Home button. There's no other product series, whether it's mobile, desktop, TV, smartwatch or anything else that gives me the level of accessibility that I need. The other reason why I've got it here in my house is if my sons have trouble with their iPad or my wife has trouble with her Mac Air and so on, I know as a blind person I can independently troubleshoot that technology and get it up and running for them again."

It is his opinion that the most important technological advance for the blind has been mobile technology: "When I look back before 2009 I actually think 'how did I keep up with all the technology trends and information that go on before I had a smartphone?' I literally live with my iPhone. It comes off the bedside table at 6:00 am and it's with me till about 11:30 pm at night. I'm always checking my tweets, news, other e-mail sources, Safari, etc., etc." He added, "It's easy to deal with my job, podcasts, and everything else. I think the expansion of mobile technology and the fact that we now have full access to most of the stuff that people with sight can also do on mobile technology, for me that's the major big one I think."

When preparing for a podcast about a new device, Woodbridge tries to decide what people want to do first. He explained, "You don't want to read the manual, you want to get your hands on it. I play with a device for at least six hours and when I'm feeling comfortable with it, I'll do a podcast on it." He continued, "I don't like doing podcasts that cover every single miniscule feature. Sometimes I'll do it, but most of the time I won't." He approaches new software and new upgrades in the same manner. "For example, when I did the podcast on the updated Twitter client for the Mac, I mainly did it to show that it's now accessible, so I didn't go into direct messaging, lists, search, etc. As long as people know it's accessible you don't have to waste your time trying it out yourself because I just did the demo."

If necessary, Woodbridge will do an extremely detailed podcast, such as on the TimeBuzz app for the Apple Watch. He explained, "That to me is one of those revolutionary apps that changes things. The TimeBuzz app changes how you use an Apple Watch. I've literally got a vibrating watch. That's why I spent so much detailed time on that one. Most of the time it's an introductory overview of what I'm doing a demo on."

When it comes to Apple hardware, Woodbridge gives mixed reviews. Asked about the new MacBook, he said it was a bit underpowered: "I much prefer a software improvement than a new piece of hardware. I enjoy the new Apple TV because it's an Apple TV with new software that runs on it." He does have an issue with the new Apple TV: that the beep sounds that accompanied presses of the Siri button were removed. He said, "That's just a good user confirmation that you've held the button down long enough to start talking to the Apple TV. I've noticed now when I'm talking to the Apple TV it's mishearing me because I'm talking too quickly after I've held down the button. If I had the beep I'd be absolutely bang on target."

Woodbridge isn't sorry he purchased an Apple Watch. He said, "I just wish when they did the update for the software that they truly made the apps run on the Apple Watch, not the fact that you had to keep them loading off the iPhone." He added, "The two things I'd love to see in the next generation of the Apple Watch are independent GPS, so you've got a GPS chip in the watch. I'd also love to see a cellular chip in the watch so you can use it as a mobile device making and answering and calling straight to the watch without needing the iPhone." He also wondered why Apple didn't put an FM radio into the Apple Watch, explaining that there was always one in the Nano. He described a situation when the radio could have been very useful. "I think it was last year we had a really bad blackout here. We had really bad storms for a whole week and the only radio we could get was your normal FM radio. There was no Internet access, no mobile, no nothing. I just thought that if I had the FM radio in my watch, at least I could have listened to all the weather reports and all the information about emergency services."

Though Woodbridge is a big fan of Apple products, he is also honest about their products. "Just because I absolutely love Apple and I don't use any other products in my house, that doesn't mean every now and again I'm going to get a little bit irritated with them. The whole house is almost like an Apple showroom." He has a Time Capsule, two MacBook Airs, an iMac, two iPads, two iPad Minis, and two Apple TVs. This does not include Apple Watches and iPhones. There are also keyboards and speakers. He last had a Windows computer at home in 2011. Though he does not have Windows on any of his Macs, he does use Windows at work because there are databases and other information that he can access only with Windows.

Woodbridge has a black Labrador retriever guide dog but sometimes uses additional mobility methods. For example, when traveling by train he also uses a cane to check the distance between the platform and the train. "About 10 years ago I had an accident falling off a train, between the train and the tracks. I broke three ribs when I hit the tracks. When I walk along the platform, I guess because I hurt myself so badly, I always have the cane out to the right a little bit just to make sure I'm not going too close to the edge."

He also sometimes carries a Miniguide, a small hand-held device which uses ultrasound to detect objects. The unit vibrates faster as an object gets closer. Woodbridge has advice for people wanting to review his podcasts. He said, "If you still want to see my old podcasts, particularly on the Mac, Apple TV, and the ones on the Apple Watch, go to AppleVis and use the links in there to get access to my podcasts that way." He adds that the Podbean site is more difficult to use. "The reason why I don't do so much with VoiceOver with the iPhone and iPad is that there's so much out there already."

David Woodbridge's blog and podcasts are excellent resources for the blind and visually impaired, especially for users of Apple products. Give them a try; they are well worth the effort, and they're free!

Find David Woodbridge Resources

David Woodbridge's Blog

Podcasts are available at davidwoodbr.podbean.com or applevis.com

Twitter: @dwoodbridge

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