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Obtaining Access to E-books ...Again

The American Foundation for the Blind was pleased to learn that the Librarian of Congress had approved the US Copyright Office’s recommendation to exempt certain classes of works from copyright restrictions to improve access to those works by people who are blind or visually impaired. Every three years, the Copyright Office conducts a rulemaking procedure to determine which classes of works should be exempt from the "prohibition on circumvention of copyright protection systems for access control technologies." In general, these access control technologies are any technologies designed to protect the copyright on a given work, such as an e-book, motion picture, or software program. Under Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), enacted in 1998,

Helen Keller: Persistence and Resistance

Head and shoulders image of Helen Keller taken at her 80th birthday in 1960. Helen Keller died 50 years ago today – just a few weeks short of her 88th birthday. As the archivist and caretaker of her collection, I initially wondered how I nearly overlooked this anniversary. Upon consideration, I have several theories about this that I’d like to share with you. In the decade and a half of my professional role, I have never focused on her death date. Keller was fortunate enough to live a long life and she had the joy of witnessing the inroads she made to improve the lives of those with vision loss. But it's good to reflect on how

Inclusion for All: Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2018

Thursday, May 17, marks the seventh Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), the purpose of which is to get everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different disabilities. Every year on this day, AFB takes this opportunity to share our own resources to get the public thinking about accessibility. This year, we put together a free webinar to commemorate the day, featuring presentations by Cristopher Broyles, Chief Consulting Solutions Officer;

AFB Consulting Applauds W3C’s Proposed Recommendations

It can only be seen as a positive that W3C has made the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 an official Candidate Recommendation. The latest proposed recommendation adds helpful guidance on certain areas without being overly restrictive. The focus for WCAG 2.1 has been to more fully address the accessibility requirements for: People with cognitive and learning disabilities People with low vision Mobile accessibility W3C is also working to meet an ambitious timeline to publish the first Working Draft in February 2017 and complete it by June 2018. We now have more specific guidance

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,

Ask Your Senator to Support the Autonomous Vehicle Bill AV START

Mark Richert, AFB's Director of Public Policy AFB has joined with a broad coalition of disability rights organizations and auto and motorcycle manufacturers, suppliers, repairers, and more in urging prompt action on the US Senate's version of autonomous vehicle legislation, AV START Act (S. 1885). This groundbreaking bipartisan bill includes many specific provisions drafted by AFB and our partners that make the Senate's approach dramatically superior to the

Report From Day One of CES 2018, a Global Technology Event

It’s the time for college bowls, NFL playoffs, New Year’s resolutions, and, of course, all things technology at CES in Las Vegas. The show officially kicked off on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, with lots of attention to self-driving vehicles, voice-controlled everything, robots galore, and audio products with hearing enhancement. A big thank you to the Consumer Technology Association for supporting attendance by disability advocates, including Lee Huffman and me. Here are a couple of highlights so far. We’ll have a full wrap up in AccessWorld next month. Alexa in the Shower?

How Does the Department of Justice's Withdrawal of Proposed Regulations Change How the ADA Applies to Websites?

On December 26, the Department of Justice (DOJ) officially withdrew pending rulemakings that would have clarified exactly how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to web services. In 2010, the DOJ started the rulemaking process to create new regulations for the websites of public accommodations and state and local governments. These "Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking" (ANPRMs) have now been withdrawn. For two different, but complementary, perspectives on this news, we recommend Lainey Feingold's excellent blog post, No ADA Web Accessibility Regs? No Excuses and the Seyfarth ADA Title III News & Insights

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

Wrapping Up the 2017 AFB Leadership Conference

From left to right: Bernadette Kappen, Ph.D., Executive Director of the New York Institute for Special Education, Mark Richert, Esq., Kirk Adams, president and CEO of AFB, Lee Huffman, editor of AccessWorld Magazine, Matt Kaplowitz, President and Chief Creative Officer of Bridge Multimedia, Tanseela Molani, Design Researcher for United Airlines, and David Jeppson, Executive Director of Computers for the Blind The AFB Leadership Conference has been jam-packed. We were so proud last night to honor Bridge Multimedia,

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

Entertainment Technology Accessibility Status: The Good, the Bad, and the Delayed

Hollywood is waist deep into its annual awards season. There was a time when there would be little reason for blind or visually impaired people to take note of Tinseltown’s award-caliber offerings, as most visual media would have been largely inaccessible. This is less so today, thanks to emerging technologies that bring visual media to life for visually impaired audiences in theaters and at home, as well as to hard-fought legislation that is slowly making these technologies more widely available. Unfortunately, not everyone can fully enjoy Moonlight at the local multiplex or independently cue up a

If I Could Ask the Candidates: A Presidential Debate About Blindness and Visual Impairment

The upcoming presidential debates have me thinking about what I might ask the candidates if I were a debate moderator. It isn’t often that disability issues get front-and-center attention during a nationally televised event like a presidential debate, let alone issues specific to people who are blind or visually impaired. But what if they did? Would I use my opportunity to ask the candidates about their position on the payment of subminimum wages to people with disabilities? Would I ask them about the need to ensure that people with disabilities have an unequivocal and supported right to full

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

The ADA Anniversary: What We're Not Celebrating

This year marks the 26th anniversary of the signing of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Each year, advocates look for ways in which to properly commemorate the ADA and to celebrate the promise of equal access that it represents. We at the American Foundation for the Blind are also weighing in, not only with praise for the barriers that the ADA has broken down, but also with concern about the work that still needs to be done. We are deeply disappointed that we're celebrating yet another ADA anniversary without the long-overdue clarifications of the ADA's application to cyberspace that the Obama Administration promised us years ago. Sadly, the latest

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.

Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2016

May 19 marks the fifth celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Daya day designed to “get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities.” This year has seen some exciting developments in accessibility. Facebook,

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.

Apps Can and Should Be Accessible to All

The Washington Post published an article today about accessibility problems that occur not only on companies' websites, but in their mobile applications (apps), noting that "Apps can be a game-changer for people with low vision if companies build them right." TechCrunch also recently reported on the question: Will apps become the next disability lawsuit target? They don't have to be. As Lee Huffman, AccessWorld editor and manager of AFB's technology information, explained: "The iPhone has become a great equalizer for

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

Day 4 at CES: Home, Health, and Fitness

Paul Schroeder at the MagicaVision booth On the second day of the official CES, John Lilly and I spent most of the day among the home, health, and fitness area of the show. At Whirlpool we learned that a line of “connected” kitchen appliances will soon be launched in the US. As with the connected washer and dryer, these are toward the top of the line, so they won’t be cheap, but the Whirlpool app does seem to work reasonably well with VoiceOver and they are interested in continuing to improve it. Every year, CES attracts a bunch of start-up companies and entrepreneurs who seem right out of Shark Tank casting.

Day 3 at CES 2016: The Grand Opening

CES 2016 officially opened on Wednesday January 6, and as Lyle Lovett might say, CES is not large, it's huge. Encompassing over 2.6 million square feet of exhibit and presentation space, there is just no way to convey the absolute awesomeness of the size of this thing. Read the full report on day 3 of CES in AccessWorld(r), including our impressions of Casio's new "2.5D" printer, a system for producing tactile graphics and braille. We also took a look at Vuzix's iWear headset and M300 Smart Glasses, and reported on the conversation between Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer

Day 2 at CES 2016

As you read this, the CES show, an annual event about all things technology, is only just now opening, but lots has been happening already. Press events dominated Tuesday's schedule. I attended presentations by LG, Panasonic, and others. Read the full report on day 2 of CES in AccessWorld(r), and you can also follow AFB on Twitter or Facebook for additional updates. I'll have lots more as the week of CES 2016 goes on, so stay tuned!

Attending the 2016 CES, a Global Technology Event

With a big thank you to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)(tm), AFB is again attending "CES(r)," the global technology event that takes place in early January in Las Vegas. CTA, formerly the Consumer Electronics Association, again made it possible for John Lilly (who works in our tech office in Huntington, WV, and me to attend the show, along with a select delegation from the disability community. We’ll do our best to provide updates throughout this week as we try to see as many of the over 3,600 exhibitors that attend. Yes, that’s 3,600the show is huge! CES features all aspects of the industry and it has served as the proving ground for innovators and

10 Accessibility Resources in Honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#GAAD)

In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, please enjoy and share these resources, and add your own suggestions in the comments! 1. AccessWorld(r)AFB's free online magazine is devoted to technology news for people who are blind or visually impaired. AccessWorld keeps people with vision loss and their families, teachers, rehabilitation counselors, product developers and manufacturers up to date about the technologies that can transform their lives: smart glasses, fitness tools, mobile apps,

Apple Watch Day 1: How a Blind User Pairs the Watch with the iPhone

Crista Earl, Director of AFB Web Services I love tools and gadgets, and I love accessible gadgets the most. Since I have a visual impairment, I'm used to having to wait around for the "special" stuff. So, the things I love the most are mainstream gadgets that come out of the box being accessible. Now that I've had my Apple Watch, the sport version, for thirty-six hours, I hope I can clear up some of your first-day questions. (See the earlier AFB Blog post, A First Look at the Apple Watch and Its Accessibility for some more

A First Look at the Apple Watch and Its Accessibility

Closeup of Apple Watch displaying enlarged text The AFB Leadership Conference agenda included a session titled Apple Connected. What participants didn’t know until they arrived in the meeting room was that the Apple representative would be unveiling and demonstrating the accessibility features of the Apple Watch for the first time anywhere. There was an audible gasp of delight. I'm happy to report that the Watch includes a full complement of accessibility features, including VoiceOver, Magnification, and a variety of Font and Contrast options (including Grayscale and Reduced Motion). Here are a few cool takeaways from the

Self-driving Bicycles Add to Transportation, Fitness, Independence for Blind Riders

I heard such exciting news this morning! A well-known drone company, Auto-Fly, and a major bicycle manufacturer, Trekker, have teamed up to make a self-driving bicycle. The new device has pedals and seat much like a conventional bike, but the steering and braking are handled by electronic and mechanical devices based on recreational drone technology. What's exciting about this? Soon I'll be riding my bike to work! Imagine, the only obstacle to riding my old-fashioned bike is ... obstacles. With the new drone-bike, I set my destination on my phone, hop on my bike, and pedal. The bike navigates the streets

Helen Keller: A Champion Among Presidents

"Only people count. Only people who think and feel and work together make civilization. Only governments that keep every door of opportunity wide open are civilized governments...Civilization means a fair chance to live. It means an equitable share of the resources of the earth for every one. It means health and freedom and education for all men." <div

AFB’s Vice President Paul Schroeder's Visit to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

Our VP of Programs and Policy, Paul Schroeder, got up close and personal with the Mercedes self-driving concept car at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) took place earlier this month in Las Vegas with lots of gushing about the latest in huge televisions with remarkable pictures. Oddly, the show gave more and more attention to automotive technology. For those of us with vision loss, the other exciting trend was captured in an opening keynote by Boo-Keun Yoon, Samsung President and CEO, who described his company’s commitment

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

Comcast Announces New Talking Guide for Access to Television

Comcast has just announced a solution to a huge television-watching problem. What is the problem? Imagine if there were a way to turn on the description (the special feature to narrate the visual elements of a show for people who are blind or visually impaired) on your favorite shows! Imagine being able to check your television to find out what is on right now, or up next, the name of the show, the channel the show is on, or the channel the TV is tuned to. (If you are wondering what "description" could be, check out this overview of audio description.) Back in the olden days, I bought a device at Radio Shack that had, among other features, a button that would

The Joy of Voting Independently as a Blind or Visually Impaired Citizen

Man voting with an accessible voting machine Yesterday was Election Day, the day that we all head to the polls to cast our ballot for our chosen candidates for the many races impacting our lives. By all, I mean a decent amount of the population, especially during a non-presidential voting year. I can't tell you the pride and joy that I get out of being able to vote. It is not even just voting; it is that I was able to go to my polling location and ask to use the accessible polling option. Then, crazy thing, I was able to access the ballot and vote without the assistance of another individual. What a conceptto want to

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

Privacy, Courtesy, Efficiency: Break out the Headphones!

Have you ever wondered if other people can hear your babbling talking smart phone? Have you ever wondered why the "buttons" on the screen sometimes don't work? First, yes, those polite people at the next table can hear your iPhone or Android phone babbling as you search for a contact and make a call. Solution? Headphones. I run into people now and then who never took the headphones out of the box when they got their device. They just didn't seem like a useful option to them. But the headphones are the key to skilled and competent phone use, discretion, and that all-important knack of doing two things at oncetalk to

Free Money Identifier for People Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision: How Do I Get One, and Why?

At a conference recently, I received a free money identifier. What is this? How did it happen? The saga is long and complicated. And, your real questions might be: How do I get in on this? But wait, what happened to the accessible money? If you are reading this from another civilized country, you might be puzzled. Accessible money? What is inaccessible about money? In the United States, the bills are all the same size and have no (OK, don't quibble, no practical) tactually discernable features. Meaning, if I receive $16 in change for my

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

Canine Translator—Future of Dog Guide–Human Communication?

I often discover new and useful apps for my iPhone or iPad by just randomly poking around in the app store. I really found an awesome gem this week. It needs some accessibility improvement, but I think you'll find it useful, even in its current version. It's called Canine Translator 2020, and it claims to be the first interspecies automatic translator for home use. It's still in beta, and the makers caution that everything doesn't translate smoothly between humans and canines. Of course, dog owners know that already. You need a small device, called the C-Translate, that hooks to your dog's collar. It reminds me of a Jawbone Up for Fitbit sort of

Marcus Roberts on 60 Minutes: Let's Look at Accessible Music Technology

Marcus Roberts was on 60 Minutes last night! Take a look, if you didn't get a chance to see it. He plays piano, he talks about music, and, my favorite part, they talked a little bit (too little to suit me) about the fact that he uses technology. No question, Marcus Roberts' most important piece of technology is the piano. He is first and foremost a talented musician, composer, and entertainer (this is my blog, I'm allowed to have three foremosts). But like any successful blind person, he uses any and all the tools that will get him access to what he needs and wants to do. Marcus, I'd love it if you'd comment here, or e-mail, to tell us about the music technology you use!

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

AFB CareerConnect Thoughts on the WSJ Article, "Are You Disabled? Your Boss Needs to Know"

You may have recently read the Wall Street Journal article by Lauren Weber about bosses asking employees to disclose whether they have a disability. Ms. Weber frames the issue pretty accurately, and I loved the comments included overall. Starting next week, all federal contractors (i.e., companies that do contract work for or with the U.S. federal government) will have to 1) ask whether their employees are disabled and 2) employ a minimum of 7% disabled workers or demonstrate that they are taking steps to hire disabled workers. This new language specific to federal contractors is a great follow up to President Obama's initiative for the U.S. federal government to become a model employer

Notes, Observations from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

I've just wrapped up my second visit to the mega Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. There's been tons of coverage of all the exciting new products, especially wearable technology, health and body monitoring technologies, devices to enhance our autos and, of course, more and more 3-D printing. I want to again give a special thank you and shout-out to our friends at the Consumer Electronics Association (the trade association that hosting the conference), for inviting disability advocates out to the show. More than just making this opportunity available, CEA also helped ensure that we

Celebrating the Life and Work of Louis Braille, 205 Years Later

Saturday, January 4, marks the 205th birthday of Louis Braille, the inventor of his eponymous code for people with vision loss. In celebration of his birthday, as well as National Braille Literacy Month, we’ve assembled a roundup of braille-centric content throughout AFB's family of sites. Read up, reflect, and appreciate what braille has meant to so many. Braille continues to be a driving force for people with vision loss. Throughout January, we will be sharing information relevant to braillehistory, technology, and so forth. Here's a collection of articles to kick things off. We would

AFB Talks Tech: Tech Director to Discuss AFB Apps

This January, AFB's Darren Burton, director of our AFB Tech labs in Huntington, WV, will be appearing on ACB Reports, the American Council of the Blind Radio Show hosted by Mike Duke. Darren will discuss AFB's app development work, including the AccessNote notetaker app and the AccessWorld magazine app, as well as our other app testing and development work being done at our AFB Tech labs. AccessNote has now been

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

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

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

Education, Technology and Accessibility

We're pretty focused around here on trying to improve opportunities for people with vision loss to use our talents and pursue our dreams. Certainly, education is one of the most important opportunities and we know that the right technologies are opening up access to education like never before. This week, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) convened a hearing to spotlight the need to ensure that access to education is enhanced through the deployment of accessible technology. You can read more about the hearing in our breaking news item from AccessWorld. Senator Harkin was

Celebrate World Usability Day by Embracing Accessibility

World Usability Day (November 10, 2011) was founded in 2005 as an initiative of the Usability Professionals' Association to ensure that services and products important to human life are easier to access and simpler to use. Each year, on the second Thursday of November, over 200 events are organized in over 43 countries around the world to raise awareness for the general public, and train professionals in the tools and issues central to good usability research, development, and practice. The American Foundation for the Blind wholeheartedly supports the goals of World Usability Day. Technology should be easy to useby everybody,

Let's Talk Tech: Accessibility in a Changing Environment

In the September 2011 issue of AccessWorld, I wrote a commentary about the future of accessibility in light of the ever-shifting flow of technological advancement. I discuss how mobile information technology, rapidly developing apps, cloud computing, social networking and other developments will supplant the centrality of the PC, upend "traditional" entertainment equipment like TVs and stereos (remember walkmen?), and likely finalize the shift away from printed mediums like books and magazines. What remains in question, then, is how these changes will affect accessibility, and whether

You don't have to trust your bartender anymore! Try the LookTel Money Reader.

In March, during our Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute, I was preparing a presentation demonstrating the built-in accessibility of Apple's iPhone and iPad devices when I heard about a new money identifier app: the LookTel Money Reader. LookTel's Money Reader is a $1.99 app available from Apple's App Store, and it is by far the best currency identification tool I have ever used. It is certainly a tremendous bargain compared to the dedicated currency identification gadgets on the market priced in the $100-$300 range, and I have found it to be more accurate and much faster and easier to

First Impressions of the Apple iPad from a Blind User

I dropped by my local Apple store on Sunday to see if the iPad might really be as cool as it sounded. Well, it's as cool and cooler. I asked the salesman to turn on Voiceover, the built-in screen reader, for me, and he did and handed me the device. If you're visually impaired and you've gone shopping for home or personal electronics in your life, you already think something is weird here. Screen reader built in? For free? Salesperson who knows it? Knows how to turn it on? This is not science fiction, this is my actual shopping experience, and this is not the first time I've had such an experience at the Apple store (If you aren't visually impaired, you might think it's kind of normal to go to a store, ask about a product feature that's

AT&T Expands Options for Cell Phone Users with Vision Loss

Good news on the cell phone front. This week, AT&T Inc. announced their new partnership with Code Factory and their initiative to increase usability for wireless customers who are blind or have low vision. AT&T will now offer the screen reader and magnification software, Mobile Speak and Mobile Magnifier, on select Windows Mobile and Symbian Series 60 phones. Consumers with vision loss are advised to contact AT&T's National Center for Customers with Disabilities at 866-241-6568 with questions or for more information. We have set up a page on