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Browse By Topic: Assistive Technology

Welcome to the 2018 AFB Leadership Conference and Kick-off Session "How Leading Tech Companies Are Raising the Bar for Blind and Visually Impaired Users"

The 2018 AFB Leadership Conference kicked off this week in Oakland, CA with a technology panel, moderated by Jennison Asuncion, Engineering Manager, Accessibility, LinkedIn. The panel consisted of Megan Lawrence,

American Society of Interior Designers Visits the AFB Center on Vision Loss and Esther's Place

The AFB Center on Vision Loss (CVL) was recently visited by the Texas Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) during their quarterly meeting. ASID members and CVL staff got acquainted with one another over a delicious baked potato bar provided by Dallas Sight and Sound. ASID Texas Chapter leaders, Karen Parks and Carrie Barron, kicked off the the day with opening remarks. Former Director of the CVL, Judy Scott, welcomed

Breaking News: AFB Applauds Senate Action on Autonomous Vehicles Legislation Benefiting People with Vision Loss

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) applauds Senators John Thune, Gary Peters, Roy Blunt, and Debbie Stabenow for introducing the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act (S. 1885). This groundbreaking bipartisan bill was passed out of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation this morning, and includes many specific provisions drafted by AFB that address our concerns about the earlier House version of the bill. Among other key components, the senate bill would:

AFB Staff Members Report Back on Three Different Approaches to Experiencing the Solar Eclipse

Yesterday, AFB staff experienced the solar eclipse with a variety of high- and low-tech approaches. Associate Director of Web Services Crista Earl used the new Eclipse Soundscapes App created by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium. AFB Press Executive Editor Alina Vayntrub went old-school, using a colander to cast shadows of the eclipse against a white piece of

Sharing Our Progress in Making the Helen Keller Archive a Gold Standard of Accessibility for Other Digital Archives

We were so honored today to present at the Society of American Archivists 2017 Annual Meeting to discuss the Helen Keller Archive digitization project, and our work to create a

Riding Driverless on the Highway to Independence?

No Limits to the Possibilities, but Accessibility Remains Key Concern The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection voted unanimously this week to advance autonomous vehicle legislation. But the House bill dropped a provision that sought to promote access to self-driving cars for people with disabilities. Mark Richert, AFB Director of Public Policy, expressed concern. “We hope the language the American Foundation

Join Us in Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Kirk Adams is president and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind. We are delighted to join our friends and colleagues in celebrating the sixth Global Accessibility Awareness Day, a day designed to get everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities. At the American Foundation for the Blind, we are committed to removing barriers, creating solutions, and expanding possibilities for people with visual impairments so they can achieve their full potential. Challenging the limits of technology is a vital part of our

Helen Keller on Trying to Make the World 'A Little More As I Want It'

Image: Helen Keller walks in her garden in Westport, Connecticut, 1950. It is wintertime. Keller is seen smiling, facing the camera. She wears a long coat and woolen hat. She holds a wooden branch railing with her left hand. As the new year approaches, it’s a good time to review the progress that is being made to digitize the Helen Keller Archive. This is a mammoth task, and we are well on our way to accomplishing the work of preserving and disseminating online the over 80,000 items in the collection. We are simultaneously working on another major objective: to

Beyond Recognition: What Machines Don't Read

Helen Keller reading braille at her home in Westport, Connecticut. October 1965. I am delighted that the fifth in our series of posts focusing on the Helen Keller Digitization Project is from Mara Mills New York University Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication. Mara’s post - on the continued importance of human transcribers - is fascinating and I encourage everyone to read it. Many thanks Mara! On Helen Keller’s birthday this year, archivist Helen Selsdon wrote a piece for the

Checking in from the CTIA Super Mobility Conference

Paul Schroeder, AFB Vice President, Programs and Policy This week in Las Vegas it's everything wireless at the CTIA Super Mobility conference. CTIA, the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, hosts the show and notably also hosts an Accessibility Outreach Initiative Forum as part of the conference. I am pleased to participate in the forum and express appreciation to CTIA for making it possible to attend. I thought I'd share some of the points from the forum on September 7. AFB has been collecting the views of people with vision loss through a series of

Pokémon GO: Let’s Catch ’em All!

By William Reuschel and Aaron Preece Image: Aaron Preece stands with his guide dog Joel and a Pidgey Pokémon. Pokémon mania is sweeping the nation once again! The latest incarnation of the game that has players collecting and battling fictional creatures is called Pokémon GO, but this version is a little different from past games. You cant play GO on your couch. In fact, youll have a hard time playing it indoors at all. Pokémon GO is all about getting players outside and interacting with various points of interest around their towns.

Four Ways Google Is Building a More Accessible World for the Visually Impaired

On the heels of major accessibility announcements from Twitter and Facebook, tech giant Google recently highlighted its own efforts to build a more inclusive world for people with disabilities. Here are four ways Google is working to improve the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired: 1.

Day 3 of the 2016 AFB Leadership Conference

It's the final day of a packed 2016 AFB Leadership Conference. Last night we celebrated our retiring President & CEO Carl R. Augusto's 25 years of outstanding leadership and service to the American Foundation for the Blind. If you are able to, please join us in honoring

Kicking Off the 2016 AFB Leadership Conference

Susan Mazrui, her service dog, and presenter Deborah Marriott Harrison Congratulations to Susan Mazrui, current director for Public Policy at AT&T and a former AFB Trustee, who received the 2016 Stephen Garff Marriott Award! The award honors a blind or visually impaired individual who has served as an extraordinary mentor or who has attained remarkable professional success. Mazrui currently works on disability-related public policy issues and serves as the co-chair of the Federal Communications

Stevie Wonder Calls for Accessibility at Last Night’s Grammys—Bravo, Stevie!

I am still applauding Stevie Wonders call for accessibility at last nights Grammys; it was fabulous. First, he made everyone laugh when he teased the audience with a na na nana nayall cant read this huh? referring to the fact that the Song of the Year winner was written in braille. And then right before he announced Thinking Out Loud as Song of the Year, he said, We need to make

CSUN 2015 Exhibit Hall: 3D Printing Is Coming to People Who Are Blind

Editorial note: For 30 years, the Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) has hosted an Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, known as a forum that showcases cutting-edge technology and practical solutions for people with disabilities. AFB director of web services, Crista Earl, checked out the exhibit hall and sent this report. Check out her first dispatch, too. As

CSUN 2015: Cameras for Everybody!

Editorial note: For 30 years, the Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) has hosted an Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, known as a forum that showcases cutting-edge technology and practical solutions for people with disabilities. AFB director of web services, Crista Earl, checked out the exhibit hall and sent this report. The exhibit hall opened here on Wednesday, and I made my first pass. I missed a lot, but I can tell already that there are a few

Fitbit and Up24: Are These Health-Tracking Devices Accessible to Exercisers Who Are Blind?

Tracking health and fitness is all the rage. Should you jump on the bandwagon? Can you? That is, are these tracking devices accessible to users who are blind? I've tried two such devices: the Fitbit Flex(tm) (usually just called Fitbit) and the Up24(tm) from Jawbone. Accessibility Bottom Line The Fitbit is light-years ahead of the Up24 in terms of accessibility. If you are choosing between the two, and you are visually impaired, get the Fitbit, no doubt about it. The initial setup is much more accessible, and the daily use of the device is much more

It's National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Expect. Employ. Empower.

Each October, we mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a time to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for 2014 is “Expect. Employ. Empower.” AFB’s CareerConnect team is dedicated to building tools, content, resources, and awareness around employment for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. We believe it is an exciting time in the United States with so many big changes and legislation working toward equality for persons with disabilities. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are making progress. I often hear stories around the United States from professionals working in the blindness field and for

The Need for Access: AFB Testimony on Intellectual Property Law

Note: The following is testimony made by Mark Richert, AFB's director of public policy, on how copyright law affects those with vision loss. For a primer on this topic, please see All Rights ReservedHow Copyright Law Can Leave People Who Are Blind Out. Video of this testimony is also available from the U.S. House of Representatives. Before the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Hearing on Chapter 12 of Title 17

Can CAPTCHAs Be Made Accessible?

Lots of websites have a real and urgent need to keep bots and spammers off their sites. One partial solution is the CAPTCHA. What Is a CAPTCHA, and Can It Be Accessible? Really, a CAPTCHA is any technique that can be used to tell a computer (bot) from a human. But the most common technique is to put a fuzzy bunch of characters on the page and ask the user to type them into an edit field. A human, theoretically, can decipher the fuzzy characters, but a bot cannot. This has some obvious flaws in it, even if you've never seen these things (or didn't

John DeWitt Leaves a Legacy of Access and Mentorship for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

I recently learned that John DeWitt passed away. He was the founder of DeWitt & Associates, an organization that provided technology assessment and training in New Jersey for persons who are blind or visually impaired. He also worked for the American Foundation for the Blind from 1978 to 1989 as a resource specialist. John's passing was a great loss to New Jersey, the blindness community, his family, and all of the people he touched through his work and volunteering. I grew up in New Jersey and I also worked for the state for a period. I knew of John prior to my work, but I first had the opportunity to speak to him when he spoke at a "Circle of Bell Ringers" at the Joseph Kohn Training Center in New Brunswick,

AFB Launches an App for AFB CareerConnect and It's FREE!

You might be excited or just ecstatic that the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has just launched the CareerConnect App with some of your favorite features of the CareerConnect resource center. Hold your applause and high-pitched sounds of jubilation for the full deal on this momentous occasion. Am I hyping this app? Oh, yes! But I will tell you that this launch is just the beginning of more great things to come. AFB has worked hard to include some of the new and exciting features that vision professionals, job seekers, youth, and parents of children who are blind or visually impaired use from CareerConnect. The CareerConnect App includes four main tabs, and it follows the model of the widely used AccessWorld App (a free monthly technology magazine that

On Driverless Cars, Bioptic Driving, and Alternatives to Driving

Ike Presley, wearing a bioptic device, at the driver's wheel of a 1929 Model A Ford Roadster replica There was a recent NPR story (one of the many lately) on self-driving cars, and some of the profound impact this imagination-captivating technology might have on people's lives: Is There A Driverless Car In Your Future? As in most of these stories, the expert made no mention of the impact these cars will have on the current non-driver. Why? Maybe because non-drivers are invisible. On

CD Players, Reluctant Technology Learners, and the iPod

Everybody who works with people who are blind or visually impaired knows those reluctant technology adopters, or complete non-technology adopters. When the Pew Research Center says 15% of Americans are not connected, who are these people? They're in my singing group. Since I love technology more than singing, I at first found this puzzling. Technology is a tool to let me do things. I can listen to the songs I want to learn, record lessons and practice sessions, and listen to the key parts over and over. I can go online and hear our past

Global Accessibility Awareness Day: Finding Good Examples

For today, Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I'll try to answer a question I get a lot: "What can I send this webmaster to give examples of how to fix a broken site?" Here's what happens. You are a user of assistive technology, or a person who has low vision and benefits from well-designed, well-executed websites (have I described everybody? Who doesn't benefit from things being done right?). You visit a site that is important to youyour banking site, an e-commerce site where you want to shop, an online courseand you're shut out because of major accessibility obstacles. Maybe you

Usability and Accessibility Go Hand in Hand

I was delighted to see this article from the Nielsen Norman Group on why Placeholders in Form Fields Are Harmful. Placeholders are those words that lurk in your online forms, frequently an almost unreadable pale gray. The example the author provides in the article is a password field where the label "Password:" appears above the form field, and the hint "Must have at least 6 characters" appears as light gray placeholder text inside the form field. The intent is to help users, by giving an example of the type of information they are supposed to provide, or more details about what is required. The actual effect, however, is frequently one of the following: Sighted users may

Five Boroughs in Tandem...Cycling!

I like to talk about technology...but sometimes the outdoors just takes over. Last Sunday was the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, a fabulous event here in NYC, in which about 32,000 people ride bicycles through the city. I rode on the back of a tandem bicycle. See this great VisionAware article about tandem cycling to get inspired. So, what technology comes into play when cycling? Let's start with the bike. I rode with a new group

Ai Squared and GW Micro Merge: Two Old Friends Join Forces

Big news today in Vermont and Indiana, and all points elsewhere: GW Micro and Ai Squared are merging into one, now Ai Squared. You can read all about it from the official Ai Squared/GW Micro press release and, of course, AccessWorld(r) Magazine will have much more very soon. Quick Background: Who Are These Companies? GW Micro is the maker of Window-Eyes, a major Windows screen reader, and has been around since the early 90s. Ai Squared is well-known for ZoomText, a screen magnification

Alert to AccessNote Users

iOS 7.1 is experiencing an issue that affects all VoiceOver users who are using a Bluetooth QWERTY keyboard. Apple is aware of the issue, and is presumably working on a bug fix. The problem stems from using the control key. After pressing the control key, it acts as if the control key is sticking, and all subsequent keyboard actions act as if the control key is being held down. This has a significantly detrimental effect on all iOS apps, but particularly impacts AccessNote users. If you are experiencing bizarre behavior when taking notes in AccessNote using iOS 7.1, then it is likely caused by this bug. Unfortunately there is nothing that we can do about this as developers, and we will have to wait for a bug fix from Apple. So for now, try to avoid using the control key

Alternative Interfaces to the Android: CSUN Day 3

Stopping at booths in the CSUN exhibit hall last week, I saw a lot of innovative problem-solving. One of the problems I saw companies trying to solve was, simply put, how to make smart phones more usable for people who are not really users of technology, and who are blind or visually impaired. These solutions, in the exhibit hall this year at least, mainly centered around the use of the Android, with suites of applications "on top" of the usual operating system. Some of these solutions altered or added to the hardware, as well. The BraillePlus 18 PDA from the American Printing House for the Blind is such a device. It has a braille

AFB Applauds the Adoption of the Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 Recommendation

On March 20, 2014, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) took an important step to make web content and applications more accessible to people with disabilities by publishing Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 as a W3C Recommendation. WAI-ARIA defines ways that developers of browsers, media players, mobile devices and assistive technologies, as well as content developers, can achieve greater cross-platform accessibility. Learn more about WAI-ARIA. "ARIA is general tool which can be used to add accessibility to many different technologies," said Tim Berners-Lee, W3C

Tablets! Surface, Android, Nexus, iPad: CSUN 2014 Assistive Technology Conference, Day 2

Most years, there's a trend in the exhibit hall. A few years ago it was iOS apps, hardware accessories, our old product now works with the iPhone, and so on. Last year it was STEMscience, technology, engineering, math (I know you knew that already) and every other booth had a solution product, website, program, or new feature. This year tablets, tablets, it's raining tablets. There's a different tablet for every attendee. I would exaggerate if I said every booth showed tablets, but lots of them did, or hardware to go with, or software to run on, products that incorporate, etc. Google has a big presence this

Braille, Tablets, What's Cool: CSUN 2014 Assistive Technology Conference, Day 1

We're at CSUN! What is it? It's the huge Technology and People with Disabilities conference in San Diego. AccessWorld magazine always has a full highlights article after the conference has ended, but here I'll tell you about a few things I've seen. It's a little random, as I've spent most of my time in the exhibit hall, and I've skipped some booths because they were too crowded. Cool Designs, Fashionable Looks in Assistive Technology When did assistive technology start to get cool-looking? Some of the products are still their old

Enjoying the Paralympics and Getting Outside for Winter Fun

A blind skier and his guide Hello everyone, Since it's Winter Olympics time again, I figured I would do a follow-up to my previous blog post that I had written about my skiing experiences as a blind person. I wanted to give you all an update, and share some more adaptations, ones that proved extremely useful during my recent ski trips. For example, I utilized my accessible GPS software's "breadcrumb" and "point of interest" features to map out the trails; I have used

Window-Eyes for Office: Why Is This So Important?

Editor's note: the following post is authored by Mary Bellard, Information Technology Services Manager at AFB. On January 14, GW Micro announced, with support from Microsoft, they will make their Window-Eyes screen reader product available at no additional cost to any user with a license to Microsoft Office 2010 or newer (including users with a Microsoft Office 365 subscription). The only stipulation for using the full version of this product is that Office 2010 or newer needs to be installed and activated locally; users with access only to Microsoft Web Apps will be limited to a 30-minute version of the product. This version

Call for 2014 AFB Access Awards Nominations: Who Is Setting the Bar for Accessibility?

The American Foundation for the Blind is getting started with the AFB Access Awards process earlier than in past years, because the awards will be presented on February 28, 2014, at the AFB Leadership Conference in Brooklyn, NY. You will find everything you need on the Access Award Nomination Submission Guidelines and Format. Visit the Previous Access Award Winners page, too, and

Mark Your Calendar: M-Enabling Summit on Accessible Mobile Technology

G3ict (The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs), an advocacy initiative of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UN GAID), is presenting the 2nd edition of the global conference and showcase, M-Enabling Summit on Accessible Mobile Technology for Seniors and Users of All Abilities next month. Organized by G3ict and E.J. Krause and Associates, in cooperation with the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Summit is the only program of its kind focusing exclusively on mobile accessible services and assistive technology solutions

IBM Research Raises the Bar on Accessibility

I consider myself lucky to attend a number of conferences specific to blindness, visual impairment, and technology. Well, at the 2013 AFB Leadership Conference, IBM Research just raised the bar for accessibility in my eyes. The innovative work they're doing to create accessibility options for educational videos got me out of my seat. I feel like I am now an IBM Research groupie. The work that Chieko Asakawa, Hiro Takagi, and Peter Fay presented on during the preconference and general conference is making video description and captioning for video content a realistic option for large

New Amazon Kindle App Shows Improved Accessibility

Readers of AccessWorld know that I have written several articles over the years condemning the lack of accessibility found in Amazon's Kindle devices. A couple of their devices have had some half-baked solutions for accessibility, and their mobile apps have never been accessible or usable at all. However, on May 1 we learned that Amazon's new update for the Kindle app for Apple's iOS mobile platform has improved accessibility for people with vision loss. We took a quick look at it on an iPhone 5 in our AFB Tech product evaluation labs this morning, and although there are still some things

All Rights Preserved? How Copyright Law Can Leave People Who Are Blind Left Out

Did you know that since January 1, you can get in serious legal trouble for unlocking your cell phone? That is, the process of liberating your phone from the specific mobile carrier, such as Verizon or AT&T, to which your phone is likely linked right out of the box? Before, you had the freedom to unlock your phone without being subject to the severe penalties of the draconian Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). So what happened on January 1? Well, the DMCA permits the Librarian of Congress to exempt from liability behavior that would otherwise run afoul of the DMCA. The Librarian of Congress had been recognizing the right of cell

As CES wraps up…

There are just a couple of other items I want to share from CES. I did get a chance to play with the Fleksy keypad from Syntellia. As many know, this is an app for Android and iOS that allows text input using a touchscreen keyboard using the relative position of your finger touches to mimic the qwerty keyboard. In other words, you start typing where you think the letters are, and Fleksy fills in what it thinks you're typing. It works quite well and I found the learning curve to be very short. I can see why so many users are finding this popular. One serious drawback is that you can't use Fleksy directly in the iOS email. Instead, you enter what you want to type and paste it into an email. Bone conduction headphones are gaining in popularity. With these headphones, the

More updates from CES

Day 2 at CES featured some TV, some audio, some speech and a nice little company making nifty headphones. OK, so I sort of surrender to the TV juggernaut that is CES with a visit to Panasonic. But, this is a blindness access story and not a (super high-def, screen as large as my garage story). Some of you have probably heard about television sets from Panasonic that are available in England with great speech output for on-screen menus, channels and the like. And, we've been asking, and asking, why not here in the US? Well, Panasonic is going to release a whole bunch of televisions in the US market with

Updates from CES

After taking in a couple of sessions focusing on tech and seniors, William Reuschel and I tackled the exhibit floor (the lifeblood of CES). We got a chance to check out the Sensus from Canopy (a maker of game controllers for the iPhone), which has developed a nifty prototype for doing braille input on the iPhone using a touch-sensitive case. The input controls are on the top and back side of the case, with the fingers curled around the two ends of the phone). I was able to get the hang of brailing fairly quickly. It's not quite ready for primetime, but could prove interesting for those who would prefer braille input to the touch-screen QWERTY keypad. Possibly of greater value might be the zoom control that Canopy is developing to enable individuals with low vision

Off to Vegas for CES 2013

I am heading out to the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for my first visit. CES is a huge event, with just about every tech company (and a whole lot of non-traditional tech companies) showing off their new products. I'll try to let you know what I find regarding accessibility for people with vision loss. But first, a big shoutout of thanks to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) who is assisting AFB and the Hearing Loss Association of America to be able to get the most out of the show and meet with companies and find out what's going on regarding accessibility for

How to Order Walmart Talking Prescription Containers

Following up on the recent press release from Walmart, please read below to learn how to order Talking Prescription Containers. On June 8, Walmart announced that it is now providing ScripTalk Talking Prescription Containers free of charge to people with vision loss as part of a pilot program. The ScripTalk Talking Prescription program is being offered to customers across the country through Walmart mail order, and also at three Walmart stores. To listen to the talking label provided by Walmart, you will need to first get a reading device from En-Vision

Congratulating Bookshare on its 10th Anniversary

On Thursday evening, March 8, Mark Richert and I were thrilled to join Bookshare at its celebration in Washington D.C., commemorating ten years of bringing books to people with print disabilities. The event featured remarks by Senator Tom Harkin, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) who set the tone for the evening, noting that timely and affordable access to books is essential for truly equal opportunity. Donna McNear, a noted educator and leader in the blindness

Heading to CSUN? Attend the Accessibility Forum!

If you are attending the CSUN conference this year, I encourage you to attend the Accessibility Forum. "Taking Accessibility MainstreamMaking the Case for an International Society of Accessibility Professionals" is a full-day event being held Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. 4:45 p.m. This event will be at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel, San Diego, CA in the Edward Room on the 2nd floor. The event is being hosted by the Accessibility Interoperability Alliance (AIA)the technical and engineering division of the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) and is intended to bring focus to

Survey Request: Accessing Electronic Reading Materials

The Digital Images and Graphic Resources for Accessible Materials (DIAGRAM) Center is a U.S. Department of Education-funded project, conducted by Benetech, with the US Fund for DAISY and the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media. DIAGRAM is conducting a brief survey to track trends in how people with print disabilities obtain and access reading materials electronically. Your answers will help DIAGRAM focus their research and development efforts on the reading tools and digital reading materials. Please take a few moments to visit the link below and provide your

Which Screen Reader Is Best?

Often I'm asked which screen reading program is best for users who are blind or have low vision. My response is always the same: It depends. It depends on what computer tasks the person is trying to accomplish, and the type of environment in which he or she is working. It has been my experience that all of the major screen readers do a good job of providing access to the three most widely used applications on personal computers. I bet you can guess what those are. If you said word processing, internet browsing and emailing, you are correct. If you need to access other types of programs, then you may find that one screen reader does a

Apple helps you to take control of your TV!

Our cable boxes might not be accessible, but the good news is that there is something we can easily navigate using built-in voiceover: Apple TV. The second-generation Apple TV allows you to access iTunes (for movies, TV shows, podcasts, music, and more), Netflix (in an accessible manner), YouTube, Major League Baseball or National Basketball Association subscription services, and Internet radio. Note that you do have to subscribe in order to use Netflix (a basic streaming plan that includes movies and TV shows goes for about $8 a month), and iTunes also requires you to pay for most content. Set up is relatively easy. With some

Big Change in the Cell Phone Business Could Help People with Vision Loss

By now you've likely heard that AT&T wants to merge with T-Mobile to become the biggest cell phone provider in the United States. This proposed merger must get approval from a couple of government agencies before it is final, and there will be lots of arguments for and against the marriage of these two big carriers. But there is one thing that definitely is important for cell phone customers who are blind or visually impaired. AT&T has been a leader in providing consumers with vision loss with comprehensive access to a range of mobile phone handsets, especially smart phones. It led the way in subsidizing and supporting specialized software

Good things coming out of Carnegie Mellon

Earlier this month a friend sent us an interesting article from the Carnegie Mellon newspaper about a new technology developed on campus to make it easier for people who are blind to go shopping. According to the school's paper, the technology works as follows: "Imagine a blind man walks into Entropy [Carnegie Mellon's campus store] and wants to pick up a bottle of mustard. As he walks past one aisle to another, he uses a UPC-reading Baracoda pencil integrated with his phone to scan the barcodes on the shelves under the products he browses. The Baracoda pencil contacts the UPC database through the Internet-enabled phone and identifies the product. The information returned to the phone is then read out by