Archive for October, 2009
This feature is turning out to be the backbone of my blog, and there’s nothing wrong with that!. Here are some recent links about, in the broadest sense, accessibility, particularly for blind and visually impaired people.
Blind charity slams ‘dangerous and unlawful’ kerb removal » Local Government » 24dash.com – UK Guide Dogs charity challenges Borough over kerb removal in Exhibition Road, London.
Cepstral Text-to-Speech – plenty of voice demos to try.
EC Proposes Law To Address ‘Fragmented’ Accessibility Rules « AccessTech News – effort to harmonise accessibility rules throughout Europe.
Education Department hit over Web site access — Federal Computer Week – National Federation of the Blind take the Education Dept. to task over usalearns.org.
Experience the Future of Assistive Technology at Abilities Expo November 6-8 – Atlanta, Georgia.
IBM gives voice to your web • The Register – new technology allows the plotting of a flow through complex web pages.
ICT Data Gap ‘Hindering Disabled Business Owners’ – from E-Access Bulletin Blog
Intel May Delay USB 3.0 On Chipsets Until 2011, Users Not Too Happy » ZiggyTek » Blog – this may delay the developmet of many gadgets.
Introducing Orator for BlackBerry Smartphones « The BAT Channel – for my money there is not enough hard information yet to make a purchasing decision here.You can sign up for Humanware’s newsletter to be informed of developments.
Invention helps blind feel way | Bundaberg News | Local News in Bundaberg | Bundaberg News Mail – the BrailleOz makes short work of adding Braille to public signs.
NEW KINDLE MAY ASSIST SOME VISUALLY IMPAIRED but mixed reviews hint that it’s got its limitations.
Nonprofit that helps disabled find work will expand – Business – News & Observer – Enable America matching disabled people with employers.
NVDA 2009.1 beta, what’s in it for Firefox users? « Marco’s accessibility blog – NVDA has come a long way since the previous stable version. We catch up on the news.
Public Firefox 3.6 beta now expected Wednesday, 3.5.4 Tuesday – well, somtime this week with any luck (week of Oct 27th, that is.
Via-Dux – OpenStreetMap – "Via-Dux is planned to be a OSM and Java based multi platform navigation software for mobile devices for blind and visually impaired persons. The task in this phase of the project is to collect requirements. The result will be a document that can be given to a programmer."’
WAVE – Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool – rather than presenting a detailed technical report, this service shows up where a site is accessible or not.
webanywhere – Project Hosting on Google Code – WebAnywhere is a web-based screen reader that can not only assist visually impaired people but can enable programmers to check their code for accessibility and usability. This page points to some resources.
What’s New in JAWS 11 – security update available for JAWS 11 in versions preeior to 11.734
Here’s another of my flails around the web to find accessibility information and stories. If you wonder exactly where all this material comes from, well, I’ll be carrying a feature on some good sources soon. I can’t cover them all, as there are thousands upon thousands that I might visit over time.
Access Information Absent From TV Set Maker Websites – try buying a TV online that has audio description. Is the online information good enough to help you make up your mind?
AudioFile Free Download Offer – FREE digital audio download of THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM & OTHER TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION by Edgar Allan Poe, read by William Roberts. AudioFile is working in association with
Audio Book Radio
Entombed is an audio game under development by Driftwood, playable by blind people. At the moment, it’s a free alpha release.
Get your system ready for a Windows 7 upgrade – from Windows Secrets weekly newsletter (free and paid subscriptions available)
Google’s Accessibility Mission – usable Chrome browser by 2020???
GPS Walking Systems Aid The Blind – WBAY-TV Green Bay-Fox Cities-Northeast Wisconsin News – generous Lions Club gift helps blind man navigate.
i-Bill talking/vibrating bank-note identifier – for all U.S. bills.
Kindle Step Aside: A New Free Accessible E-book Reader Will Be Arriving Soon – Ray Kurzweil and the NFB are working on a free, accessible program that will work on many platforms to read e-books.
Klango version 3 (stable release) – update of this popular accessible media player cum social networking client.
Main Menu from ACB Radio now has its own web site.
McTwit version 2.5 an accessible Twitter client.
New Livescribe Pulse Smartpens Announced « AccessTech News – smart pen that can record and play back handwriting in audio.
UK reseller, magicomm
PC To TV Video Converter by LKV-2000 – see your PC output on a 54-inch TV if you like! Wide variety of resolutions and video standards including NTSC and several variants of PAL.
Radio training for blind people – Insight Radio in Glasgow, the RNIB’s radio station, is to train 30 people with the prospect of setting up satellite studios around the UK.
SeaMonkey has just launched a stable version 2.0. The program has a web browser, email/newsgroup client and a web page composer, amongst other things. It will be a familiar concept to oldies who used Netscape. Unlike version 1, this one is accessible with screen readers.
Sky TV Accessibility, – making the most of Sky TV if you’re disabled.
Technology and disabled entrepreneurship – Open for Business? – how far does digital technology really give disabled people access to work?
Tourism e-accessibility and e-inclusion « Nilesh Singit’s Blog: Disability News Wolrdwide – the tourist industry may at last be waking up to the fact that disabled tourists are a viable market. Hmmmm, what kept them:?
UK Accessibility Roundtable for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Registration taking place on November 4, 2009 in London.. Details on the same page.
What’s New in JAWS 11? – the newly-released version has new features.
Please also refer to my old web page on macular degeneration at
This topic is a huge one. Not only does macular degeneration in various forms rob millions of people of their central vision, but fortunately there is a vast amount of research going on to find better treatments for the conditions collectively referred to as macular degeneration or macular disease. As the population in advanced countries ages, we will no doubt see more and more going on.
A compact rarebit vision test for macular diseases – new test may pick up signs of age-related MD.
A single shot to keep blindness at bay – research in Ireland looking at a possible genetic therapy for macular degeneration
An experimental platform for systemic drug delivery to the retina – technique could extend treatment to people not currently able to receive it.
Dry eye blog: Drug news: Macusight’s Perceiva (Sirolimus) – clinical trials evaluating Perceiva as a treatment for diabetic macular edema (DME), neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) and dry eye syndrome.
Eccentric viewing training improves reading skills – study shows the benefits of this technique.
Emerging Targets in AMD Treatment – An extensive look at the therapies that may represent the next wave of AMD treatment.
ETF Companies Announce Successful Clinical Trial – MacuCLEAR and Mystic collaborate to develop therapy for macular degeneration – a new ey-drop system.
[Video] Macular Degeneration (Eye Problems) – some basic background
NeoVista , Inc. Announces Validation of Radiation Source Technology – the accuracy of this company”s radioactive source wires used in the treatment of wet macular degeneration.
Noted American sculptor shares vision his doctors saved – John Safer, the sculptor, was treated for macular degeneration at Johns Hopkins University 15 years ago. Now the new JHH building includes a token of his gratitude, one of his sculptures.
Senator Wants to Know About Medicare Shift on Eye Drugs – Lucentis and Avastin – the debate continues.
Sight for Sore Eyes? | isRealli – The New Blog of the State of Israel – Researchers at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem have found a way to treat and prevent the deterioration of retinas using human embryonic stem cells (hESCs).
Sight loss no obstacle – Local News – News – General – Cooma Monaro Express – how one woman lives with macular degeneration.
Simple Solutions For Healthy Eyesight – simple things you can do to get through your busy day without damaging your sight.
Southampton eye doctor leading search for cure for age-related blindness (From Daily Echo) – the quality of life depends on the liver…….
Stem Cell’s Challenges Before Becoming Effective Therapy for Macular Degeneration — A Retina Eye Blog – we’re not quite there yet.
FPAC – Free Portable Apps Collection
This is a collection of accessible programs that will run with NVDA and other screen readers. The collection is built with blind people in mind, and is aimed at those who want portable applications for their pen drives / memory sticks. Used as instructed, the programs should not leave unwelcome settings information on the host computer’s hard drive. Good for library, cyber cafe or work computer use. There’s no knowing what the host computer’s firewall will do, though!
Accessible Apps: Braille for iPhone/ iPod Touch – ywirelessreview.com
Accessible Pedestrian Signal Resources – these signals in SanFrancisco include Braille street names. Goalball Girl’s Blog
Adaptive Technology Resource Centre – Braille Embosser – what they do, how to choose and operate one.
Announcing Orca v2.27.92 – the screen reader with Braille developed by Sun Microsystems.
Blind musllims to have Qur’an in braille from Malawi News.
Blind want braille on condom packs – New Zimbabwe
Botswana launches voting template for visually challenged citizens | Net News Publisher – ballot papers carry party symbols at the moment, but Braille is to be added.
Braille dictionaries for the DPRK – donations urgently requested for North Korea
Braille Cell Phone Gives Good Vibrations to Blind & Deaf Callers | InventorSpot – it seems that this Japanese invention is at the prototype stage at the moment.
Braille Display Page – illustrations and descriptions of several types of display.
Braille Displays – HumanWare USA – refreshable displays for laptops. Not confined to the USA – list of countries in a drop-down box.
Braille Production the DAISY Way – DAISY / NISO DTBook 3.0 XML specification enables 0production of high-quality Braille.
BRAILLE SENSE – introduction to this Braille notetaker.
Braille Solutions – includes refreshable braille displays, braille embossers and translation software, portable note-taking devices and GPS.
Braille Translation – free online service where you can type in text and get Braille bac – a visual display with descriptions of the dot patternsk. Several languages.
Braille v1.0.0 , compatible with Nokia devices.
BRLTTY – Official Home – this is a background process that enables Braille on the Linux/UNIX console.
Deaf-Blind Communication Devices – article from the Braille Monitor
Haptic Reader Helps Blind People Reading Non-Braille Books | Future Technology – this is at the concept stage at present. The device takes a print book and converts it to sound and/or Braille.
it happens only in . . – if you haven’t seen the tired old joke about Braille on drive-in ATMs, you can read it here. Of course, blind people don’t ever get rides to the ATM, or use money at all, of course – they lucky to have any. Why do they think it only happens in America? is there anything that happens only in America, really?
Online Braille Generator – free service translates English text into Grade 1 Braille.
Send Postal Letters Anywhere in the World Through Internet – Email to Snail Mail | Ngans.com – includes conversions to audio and Braille.
Small Footprint Communication Device for the Blind – this seems to be a proposal from IBM to create a Braille device where the Braille moves rather than the reader’s hand.
SMS for the blind and visually impaired – Braille text message reader for Nokia touch screen phones.
T-Base Communications: Plug into your free accessible ATM/ABM kit! – BANKERS! get your grubby little hands off my tax money for a moment and at least let me have the privilege of being able to cash my own money. In 2009, UK ATMs still don’t talk or have Braille. Shame on the lot of you!
Text to Braille – RoboBraille.org – service translates text into Grade 2 6-dot or 8-dot English Braille. Other services and languages apart from English available.
Touch and Feel: Braille Trails of South Africa – sighted and visually impaired tourists can share experiences of Nature.
United States Mint Braille Education Set – %44.95 for this limited edition, including a commemorative silver dollar for Braille’s bicentenary, information about the Braille system, and examples of readable Braille.
Using Braille Displays, both plug-in and bluetooth, with VoiceOver
100+ Places for Free Books Online – legal downloads all over the web.
A Second Look at Apple’s VoiceOver – the Braille Monitor looks again at VoiceOver on the Mac. Thanks to Top Tech Tidbits for this reference.
AFB AccessWorld: September 2009 Issue – iPhones, blind programmer Jamal Mazrui, Lexmark office software and a book about accessible iPods, and a discussion of netbooks.
AIRS-LA: Audio Internet Reading Service of Los Angeles – makinginformation available to print disabled people.
Blind Access Journal: Lawsuit Leads to Reconsideration of Patent – Freedom Scientific, makers of JAWS, brought a suit against GW Micro, makers of Window Eyees, for a copyright infringement. The U.S. Patent Office seems to be reconsidering its verdict.
blind photographers was mentioned in this week’s Top Tech Tidbits. This is good to know.
Device helps blind, deaf to cross roads – road intersections in Cape Town to get vibrating audio buttons to ensure safety of disabled people.
Free Books for Download | FreeBook-s.com – search on this site for any kind of free e-book.
Google Editions aims to bring e-books to all devices – Ars Technica – books to be readable on nearly any device, they claim.
Independent Living Aids products for visually impaired people. USA based.
JAWS scripts for Winamp, Goldwav, and more from Ultra Universe.
Leading Book Distributor and K-NFB Reading Technology Team Up to Deliver Immersive, Next-Generation Reading Experience « The BAT Channel – Baker & Taylor, Inc., the major book distributor, teams up with Ray Kurzweil’s company.
Lighthouse International’s LowBrowse™ add-on for Firefox that blows up text in a line at the top of the viewing window.
Listen to interview with Martha Lane Fox – Action for Blind People interview the woman from Digital Inclusion Task Force to find out about the inclusion of visually impaired people in Digital Britain. Bizarrely prented as an inaccessible Flash control.
Transcript (DOC format)
MaxiAids products to enable you to live more independently. USA based.
PHANTOM Omni® Haptic Device enables people to handle 3d virtual objects. It could be used to model art-works or products for commercial production. Learning to write is another possible use. Presumably surgeons in training could also work on a virtual body before they work on yours!
This blog entry deals with the Phantom Mni as used by blind learners.
Quick Tips » We are Colorblind » Patterns for the Color Blind – advice to web designers on colour combinations that don’t work and reminders about good contrast.
Request for Comments on Facilitating Access to Copyrighted Works for the Blind – from the US Patent Office.
Scoop: R&D investment supports technology for the blind – infra-red direction-finding system guides blind people to key points in the environment by sending signals to a hand-held device.
Social Accessibility Project – come across inaccessible web content? Tell the Project and get the pages made more accessible without changing the original content.
Sound Solutions: – Free Recorded Media for Visually Impaired People | Braille Institute of America – learning and life experiences.
Tech Talk on Tuesday, 20 October at 00:00 GMT features a review of JAWS v.11
Accessible Interface to YouTube – as YouTube seems undecided about whether to make their own site accessible, it’s good to have an alternative interface such as this. You may also like to try
Easier watching of YouTube videos
AFB AccessWorld: Technology and People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired – September 2009 Issue – a bit late but worth the wait.
BBC NEWS | Magazine | Dirty talk for blind people – audio porn does exist, though it seems to be at an early phase in its development.
BBC NEWS | Wales | Disability access ‘still failing’ – mystery shopping exercise reveals big problems in getting access to shops. But also see
City disabled access ‘improving’
Blind Wiki – diverse blindness topics.
CNET Downloads – download Desktop Zoom 3.4, arguably one of the best freeware magnifying programs for the PC.
For the Blind, Technology Does What a Guide Dog Can’t – NYTimes.com – T. V. Raman is Google’s accessibility guru. This article says something about his talents and achievements, and goes on to discuss the role of accessibility in everyone’s experience of technology.
Handy Tech North America Now Offers Handy CMS « The BAT Channel – accessible contact management system.
iPhones for the Blind | Popular Science – the possiblities of really touchable touch screens.
Klango Network – social network and accessible (self-voicing) desktop client with media playing capabilities.
Serotek Launches Innovative I-Blink Radio for the iPhone and iPod Touch « The BAT Channel – this program searches for radio stations and podcasts produced by blind people.
Touch the Untouchable – unreachable objects (such as those in display cases) can be measured and presented by a haptic interface.
WebAnywhere: A Screen Reader On the Go – you don’t need to install anything to use this free service.
Our benefits are under threat. I know this is not the first time I’ve mentioned it, but it is helpful if you and the millions of others who get disability benefits take some action before the worst happens.
There is a petition at this address.
and the petition reads…..
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to recognise the vital support that Attendance Allowance (AA) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) provide to disabled people, and to ensure that these benefits are secured and are not removed as part of any future reform of the social care system in England.
So far, the petition has attracted only 15,000 signatures. I worry that we could be sleep-walking into even more poverty and social exclusion than we have experienced before.
Both Labour (Green Paper) and Conservatives (2009 Conference speeches) have disabled people in their sights. While I can only applaud efforts to make sure that benefits go to the right people, we all know how that’s going to work in practice. Benefits have been arbitrarily stripped away before.
The fashion in the early 90s was to kick single mothers, and make them folk devils in the popular press. Now it’s disabled, sick and dying people. Not very heroic, is it, politicians, dear. Sort your expenses out first, and show us what this honesty business is all about.
about you.., my readers…..
I want you to take a quick vision test at
This is 5 minutes that could
Save Your Sight!
Originally cirulated for Macular Degeneration Awareness Week
September 19-25, 2009
Please pass this along to a friend or family member who may be at risk for AMD.
You might be giving them the GIFT of VISION.
Photography is one of a number of topics that you might call ‘leisure’ that I will tackle in this blog as I did in my old frreewbs site.
For more on blind photography, please see my old page,
Vince’s Parallax: Blind Photography
[Video] A blinding clarity for photography: IBNLive.com – Kanchan Pamnani is blind, but the ease with which she handles the camera, you’d say that she’s an accomplished photographer. In fact she has had training at the blind photography project in Mumbai.
[Video]CNN’s Paula Hancocks meets Israel’s blind photographers, challenging perceptions that only the sighted can take a good photo. This is old now, not breaking news as this page says, but worth another look.
DAB Photography: Online Community for Disabled Photographers – a satisifed member comments on the
DAB Photography Online Community and compares it to
Learning photography from my “blind” companion – how a sighted and a blind person collaborated to explore exhibits in museums, benefiting both.
Photos turned in to 3D works of art for visually impaired – Rosita McKenzie is a well-known blind photographer, who is having her photos presented in ta ctile form for the enjoyment of other blind people. Also visit
Unique exhibition shows tactile ‘Braille’ versions of images – Edinburgh Evening News
Seeing Beyond Sight – Tony Deifell discusses Seeing Beyond Sight: Photographs by Blind Teenagers with additional reading by writer Kathy Knox who is a member of the board of directors of Lighthouse for the Blind.Tony Deifell, visual artist and social entrepreneur, taught blind students to take pictures as an innovative, multi-sensory means of self-expression. Their intuitive, dreamlike images are often surprising and beautiful in their composition, light, and chiaroscuro intensity. What began as an experimental after-school photography club grew into a five-year project that impacted Deifell as much or more than his students.”Seeing Beyond Sight” is about seeing in the broadest sense. The young photographers own stories tell of danger, fear, trust, race and beauty found in all of our lives; their photographs, some of which will be shown in a special presentation this evening, are simply astonishing.
tim o’brien photos – A blind photographer’s exploration of his vision through photography and accessibility. Tim is also the moderator of the
Blind Photographers group on Flickr. Tim is also interviewed in the Wired Magazine article,
Blind Photographers Use Gadgets to Realize Artistic Vision | Gadget Lab | Wired.com
WINK Magazine, Issue 2 has an article entitled "In the Absence of Light", featuring the Seeing with Photography Collective in New York. Readers using assistive technology might find this Flash presentation impossible to use. For more references to the Collective, please refer to my
Blind Photography Web Page