AccessWorld News

AFB Applauds Senate Introduction of the Access Technology Affordability Act

On behalf of the American Foundation for the Blind, we applaud Senators John Boozman and Ben Cardin for their introduction of the Access Technology Affordability Act, which would create a refundable tax credit of $2,000 to offset the costs of accessible technologies designed for people who are blind or visually impaired. As we have seen time and time again, having access to the proper assistive technology plays a crucial role in lives of people with vision loss in every facet of their lives, from school, mobility, career, community and aging with dignity and independence.

We thank the Senate champions, along with our colleagues in the National Federation of the Blind, for pursuing this critical initiative that would enable all blind Americans to live a life of no limits.

Google Now Available on BeMyEyes

One of the most impactful news items emerging from March's CSUN conference was a joint announcement from Google and BeMyEyes. Doubtless you are already well familiar with Google and its many products, such as Search, Gmail, the Chromebook, YouTube and the Android mobile operating system. If you are not familiar with BeMyEyes, however, you definitely need to be. BeMyEyes is a free mobile app, available for both iOS and Android, that uses a one-way video stream to connect sight-impaired users with a network of over two million volunteers around the world who will "lend you" their eyes to scan or read anything from a building address to the cooking instructions on a package of instant oatmeal. We've covered this app extensively here at AccessWorld, beginning with A Review of the Be My Eyes Remote Sighted Helper App for Apple iOS and Be My Eyes Now Available for Android.

Along with offering volunteer assistance, BeMyEyes also enables you to connect with specialized help. They began this service by offering the ability to chat and show your screen to the BeMyEyes technical team and Microsoft's Accessibility Answer Desk. Now they've added a third player: Google.

Members of the Google Disability Support Team will now offer video product assistance from most English speaking countries between 8 am and 5 pm, Pacific. Simply launch the BeMyEyes app and choose the "Specialized Help" button to begin your support session.

BeMyEyes Google support is offered in addition to their chat and email support. (Note: The CSUN BeMyEyes announcement came after press time for the AccessWorld Asks the Experts article in this issue.) According to Kyndra LoCoco, Partner and Community Programs Manager for Google Accessibility, "Even if you're using a Google product on an iPhone, we'll help you with accessibility support." Of course to do this you'll need a second device—one to demonstrate the issue and another to make a BeMyEyes video connection. You may already have both an iPhone and iPad or Android tablet. If not, and you feel you may need BeMyEyes help on your mobile device, consider purchasing an inexpensive used phone or tablet. Ask friends and relatives. One of them may be happy to pass along an old phone or tablet collecting dust in a drawer. Just make sure it includes a video camera.

If you plan to use BeMyEyes for computer or mobile device support, another purchase you may wish to consider is a flexible tabletop tripod. It's much easier for a support technician to help you with your screen when the camera is steady. Using a tripod also leaves your hands free to type or swipe without having to set down your connected device—and they aren't budget busters: several models can be had for less than $20.

The M-Enabling Summit 2019

The M-Enabling Summit conference and showcase promoting accessible technology and environments for seniors and users of all abilities, will be held June 17-19, 2019 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel, in Washington, DC. The Summit is the annual meeting place for all who create and contribute to accessible ICT products, services, and consumer technologies.

With its 2019 theme of "Accessibility: Transforming Users' Experience," the 2019 Summit will provide a platform for empowering technologies and focus on next-generation innovations and breakthroughs for users of all abilities.

New accessible technologies are rapidly transforming the way users interact with digital interfaces. These technological advances are becoming an essential differentiator in gaining a competitive advantage. The M-Enabling program is designed to give participants the tools, knowledge, and networking opportunities to take advantage of this rapidly expanding market of assistive and accessible technologies.

Bringing together professionals, corporations, service organizations, and thought leaders, the M-Enabling Summit is an all-inclusive conference and showcase featuring innovative technology, mobile applications, connected devices, and services for more than one billion users worldwide.


The M-Enabling Summit offers a discounted early bird registration rate through April 27th. Register today.

NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) Version 2019.1 Released

NV Access, the developers of the free and open-source NVDA screen reader have released NVDA 2019.1. Highlights of this release include enhanced compatibility with a number of programs including the Chrome and Firefox web browsers as well as Microsoft Word and Excel. Beginning with this version of NVDA, add-on developers can specify which versions of NVDA the add-on supports. If the add-on does not support the user's version of NVDA, it will not be installed or loaded. This is intended to avert possible issues that could occur as NVDA is updated in the future. If you would like to see a full list of additions, changes, and bug fixes, visit the What's New in NVDA page.

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