Posts Tagged audio
Having bought a Penfriend today I thought I’d give some first impressions, which on the whole are very favourable.
Let’s suppose you have a bunch of items that are hard to tell apart, such as CDs, canned foods, packets of seeds, letters from the tax people… Up to now I’ve tried to struggle through by trying to read the existing labels on items, and, if necessary, scribbling a label of my own in very large marker pen. This doesn’t always solve the problem, as I’m finding it harder to read my own writing, even if it’s in large capitals. I don’t know much Braille, so Braille isn’t an immediate solution. Well, here’s one very easy alternative – audio labels.
The Penfriend looks like a microphone, which is partly what it is. On the side there are controls for power, output volume and recording. There are sockets for a USB cable (which is supplied) and headphones (which are not supplied). The device is powered by 2 standard triple-A batteries.
You attach a special kind of label to an item, then record yourself speaking about what it is. You can include a large amount of detail if you want to, as the Penfriend has a gigabyte of memory. When you swipe that label with the Penfriend, you hear your recording, and so you can identify the item. Your recording is an mp3 sound file, and the label simply has a bar code embedded in it that tells the device which mp3 file to play.
Here’s a neat feature. If you have a set of the same item, say 4 cans of tomatoes, you only need to create one label, then you can cut it into 4 to label the whole set of items.
You could, if you wanted, put some music mp3s on to the device as well, but don’t expect fantastic sound quality, at least not from the built-in speaker.
Although I had a strange problem getting the Penfriend to spit out any audio the first time I tried to use it, the device seemed to right itself after a few minutes, and has been very easy to use since then. I started by labelling my aromatherapy oils, which are very hard to tell apart by sight, and the idea really worked.
Operating instructions are built-in, or can be played over USB on another device, such as your computer.
Frozen food can be marked, which is really good news – no more wondering what that lump of something or other was, or how old it is – you can put all that info on an audio label when you first put an item into the freezer. How cool is that?
Unfortunately, the labels at the moment are not washproof, though the RNIB is looking into labels that can be attached to clothing and survive the wash.
One possible limitation is the lack of a pause button, so while you can record up to an hour of sound on one label, e.g., a meeting, it may not be very comfortable playing it back on the Penfriend itself. However, you can copy files to your computer, or play them with your regular media player via USB. How well the microphone picks up in a room full of people I don’t know, but in principle you should be able to use the device as a regular voice recorder.
the Penfriend is marketed by the RNIB in the UK, but is available elsewhere, certainly in the USA. It also, it won a CNIB award, so I take it that it must be available in Canada.
Links on the RNIB Penfriend
RNIB PenFriend audio labeller – RNIB
Video demonstration of Penfriend
Penfriend Hints and Tips Guide (Word doc)
Download Penfriend manual (doc file)
Suggestions For Uses For The RNIB PenFriend Labeler – Accessible Devices
Penfriend on Trial – Bristol City Museum and Shropshire Libraries put the device through its paces.
My main web site, Vince’s Parallax, has now moved to Fortunecity.
The new URL is this:-
Some direct page URLs:-
Blind Photography News
Blind Cycling / Blind Tandem Riding
Space Audio Page
Blind Gardening News
Emotional freedom ~Technique Links
[Video] Dennis Meech Local 1951 Training with his new Guide Dog Partner – IAMBuildingCommunity – Dennis is introduced to the dog and starts training.
[Video] Guide Dog GUGP – Week 38 – Dog Park – puppy walker deals with a dog distraction issue.
Guide Dogs Seek Wider Acceptance — ZooToo Pet News – "No dogs allowed" signlas from ignorant store workers not uncommon.
[Video] Guide dogs turned away – discrimination in western Australia.
High Seas Adventure – No Bones About It: Guide Dogs’ Blog – guide dog and owner go on a sea cruise.
Long Work Route – Dog’s Eye View – introducing a new guide dog to the workplace.
Meeting Canine Friends – Dog’s Eye View – the social side of being a guide dog.
[Audio] One Man and his Guide Dog – Episode 24 – MAIDEN VOYAGE! – Mike Brace describes hhis first solo voyage without a white stick for 50 years, as he and Izzy visit the gym.
Page with all episodes – episode 30 is probably the last one.
The Guide Dog Interviews | scaryideas.com – Guide Dogs NSW/ACT – would you be up to the job?
[Book] Tom and Bear: The Training of a Guide Dog Team – Amazon.com: – a broad look at a newly blind man and his partnership with a guide dog, including coming to terms with his blindness.
Understanding Labrador Retrievers – Why a Lab May Not Be For You | Fido’s Features – explains what a lab was bred to do and how this may or may not fit in with your life-style.
Youngsters Taste Guide Dog Freedom | Able Magazine – the UK Guide Dogs for the Blind Association recently held a 48-hour camp for kids in Loughborough.
A new style of audio description under discussion – Blind Mind News – ‘cinematic audio description’ includes the way a film has been shot and edited.
A Very Tiny, Huge Leap Forward – Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind – the world’s smallest electronics promises much more powerful computers and assistive technology, amongst other things.
ACTF Project Home – this is a project within Eclipse that aims to build tools for accessible applications and content.
Accessible e-Books “Tantalisingly Close” – E-Access Bulletin Live » Blog Archive – barriers to ebook accessibility could be removed by changing the implementation of existing technologies, claims new report.
Announcement – Audio Version Available Now – Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind – the magazine is now available at the end of each month in audio and DAISY formats.
Applian Technologies Info For Blind Users – for blind people using this audio and video recording and streaming software.
Bright-F: A Gadget for Blinds | NetShet.ORG – a talking colour detector.
City maps for the blind trialled in Sheffield – The Star – tactile maps to go on sale in Sheffield, Northern England.
e-Access ’10 – conference and exhibition in London on access to technology. 13th July, 2010 at Olympia 2.
EASI Webinars for June include DAISY hardware players and PDF accessibility.
Get Going With Mobile Geo 2.5 – Code Factory Live « THE CODE FACTORY BLOG – Sat, June 5th, apam Pacific Time, 7pm Central European Time.
Gogo Inflight Internet – Splash Page – offers passes so you can use inflight wi-fi. Accessible CAPTCHAS available.
gotNET – checks that you have .NET Framework on your system. This is a direct link to the setup program.
Handy Tech North America, where US residents can buy Code Factory software such as Mobile Speak and Mobile Geo on one-year interest-free contracts.
iPad apps may need to be disabled-accessible – Possible legal duty, says BSI – British Standards Institute looking at accessibility of web sites on a wide range of devices, not just iPads.
Loadstone GPS – Satellite Navigation for blind mobile phone users – new version for Symbian phones.
Mushroom FM Internet radio station. – The home of the Fun guys – tutorial (3 hours) in mp3 and DAISY about becoming a radio presenter.
Olympus DM5 – New voice recorder. Voice Guidance, Voice Commands, Text to Speech and DAISY 2.02. PCM, MP3 and WMA compatibility. 8GB flash memory, microSD slot, multilingual menus, a large backlit colour display and rechargeable battery. Sonority file management software is compatible with both PCs and Macs
Reading Files From Intel Reader On Apex – HumanWare United Kingdom – the Intel Reader can capture text and this can be sent to the Braillenote Apex for conversion into Braille almost instantly.
Rigel Technology offers three of its two-hour, $70 trainings during June. These can usually be purchased for the same price on cd if you can’t attend in person. All start at 21:00 GMT: Tuesday 8 June: Google This; Thursday 17 June: Dropbox 499; Tuesday 22 June: Microsoft Office 2010. The only way to register for these appears to be by phone at (888) 723-5011 Ext. 1. Thanks to Top Tech Tidbits for this one.
SIGHT VILLAGE 2010 – TEXT GUIDE – new version including site layout for this event in Birmingham, UK..
Touch Color Helps Blind People to Draw | Tuvie – Industrial Design and Future Technology – this device works by generating different amounts of heat, enabling a blind artist to draw on a thermal board.
Twitter: Remaking the Persona of the Physically Challenged – many disabled people are getting a new identity online.
[Book] Understanding Accessibility – ebook and paper versions.
Victor Reader Stream SoftPak – HumanWare USA – gives several new input and output format options for your Stream.
Vinux: 3.0 released – based on Ubuntu 10.04, this release has a wealth of accessibility features.
Actuate Addresses Online Statement Accessibility for the Visually Impaired with Xenos Axess – Mozilla Firefox – this system can deliver high volumes of accessible PDF files, according to this article.
Advocacy group for visually impaired | guampdn.com | Pacific Daily News – new group aims to open up life and work opportunities. Meeting on April 17th will include phone accessibility and JAWS demonstrations.
Apple iPhone to soon get long-sought multitasking – iPhone OS 4 will let you run multiple apps at the same time.
Apple’s iPad Brings Easy Reading to the Blind « Forbes.com’s Booked – why the iPad is exciting some blind readers and is way ahead of the Amazon Kindle.
ATTO: Assistive Technology Training Online to assist elementary school students.
BCScan Scan It, Learn About It, Use It – a new online way to organise your life. For more information, listen to
Accessible World Tek Talk presents A Look at BCScan, April 12, 2010 by J.J. Meddaugh
Blind iPad Review – Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind – totatlly blind woman reviews the iPad.
Brailect Can Translate Text Into Braille Or Audio – this concept device is a glove that can be used to read text and convert it to either format.
Breaking news on Digital Image and Graphic Resources for Accessible Materials: DIAGRAM – No Limits to Learning – this is hoped to improve accessibility to images for students with disabilities, and educators providing for them.
C-Desk by AdaptiveVoice – free 15 day trial. The program gives a high-contrast, voiced desktop that is meant to simplify computer use for people who are disabled or elderly.
Charities merge to aid the blind – Scotsman.com News – InfoSound news service launched with support from British Wireless for the Blind Fund.
How to listen to InfoSound.
[Audio] Latest briefing (April 12th, 2010).
Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology – "Welcome to COAT, a coalition of over 280 national, regional, state, and community-based disability organizations. We advocate for legislative and regulatory safeguards that will ensure full access by people with disabilities to evolving high speed broadband, wireless and other Internet Protocol (IP) technologies."
computer assistive technology abilityhub for disability and disabilities – "Assistive Technology for people with a disability who find operating a computer difficult, maybe even impossible. This web site will direct you to adaptive equipment and alternative methods available for accessing computers "
Creative ZEN X-Fi Style PMP, ZEN Style Series Music Player | Blog | ZiggyTek – news on these affordable audio players.
CTL 2goPC Slate: Windows 7 Tablet (Video) | Blog | ZiggyTek – the spec is not outstanding, but this device has some things the iPad currently lacks, e.g., webcam and Adobe Flash.
Document Accessibility Should Begin at the Author Level – the Web isn’t the whole story – what about other types of document?
Dogs and Islam: The Devil and the Seeing-Eye Dog | Psychology Today – all may not be as it seems on the subject of "unclean" dogs.
Dogs for the Blind | Dogs Training who thought of that idea?
Easy to See Balloons – Fred’s Head – balloons that light up. Every little helps!
[Audio] EyePod TechnoCast 10 – Larry Lewis of Flying Blind, LLC, talks about optical character recognition (OCR) and introduces AbiSee Products, particularly the EyePal OCR products that use a camera rather than a scanner.
Good50 Low Vision Version – "Good50 is a user-friendly search engine designed for those who are ages 50+. Because of its user-friendly features, Good50 is also beneficial for the whole family including children."
Grave Concerns about a Ban on Dogs in Nottinghamshire Parks – jady_lady – ban on dogs in parks in part of Nottinghamshire, could cause guide dog problems.
Group Travel for Persons with Special Needs – Yahoo! Finance – many opportunities in the USA for people with various disabilities.
HTML5 details element, built-in and bolt-on accessibility – Bruce Lawson’s personal site – possible advantages of HTML5 over scripting and ARIA.
Ideas on Coping With Low Vision by Sharon Noseworthy and members of the Macular Degeneration Support Network
iSpeech – Text to Speech Service – Assistive Technology – online service that can convert text files to speech.
KeySoft 9 0 1 upgrade – HumanWare Canada/English – update your BrailleNote Apex.
Nissan Adding Noise to Make Silent Electric Cars Safe « Nissan Zone – USA and Japan could make this mandatory.
[Audio] PDF Document Reading and Strategies with JAWS and MAGic – 90-minute webinar with instructions for saving.
Registration Mac Academy Workshop – Handy Tech North America – there is a booking form and description here for the 5-day workshop on using VoiceOver with SnowLeopard being held in June.
Review: VI Scientific’s Currency Identifier (and more) “VisionHunt 2.1″ for S60 3rd & 5th edition – Blind Mind News – Unrestricted Access: Versatile apps for camera-pones. Currnecy, colour light source and light light level detection. Works on the Nokia N97 and their are planned versions for other types of phone, including the iPhone.
Screen Reader Tutorial – for users of the Blackboard Learning System.
Self-Expression | Real Coaching Radio Network – technophobic? well, if a blind middle-aged woman not involved in technology can deal with technology, you can too!
Sweeping Landmark Class Action Settlement Paves the Way for Improved Sidewalk Access for People with Disabilities | Accessibility News International – success for Californians with disabilities.
Tactile mind – A book of nude photographs for the blind/vision impaired. ISBN: 978-0-9813431-0-5 produced in toronto,canada. firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: 416.516.2999. Wrongly described as a magazine in the British Telegraph newspaper, this is a thermoform book of raised erotic images with Braille text. A snip at £150.
Read the telegraph article ‘Pornographic magazine for the blind launched’
Videos Created by Ai Squared « AccessTech News - these promote products such as ZoomText, Victor Reader Stream and Pebble.
Who Wins the Accessibility Election? | S3 Web Design - a web designer comments on the accessibility of the web sites of the major British political parties.
[Book] Windows 7 and Vista Explained – A guide for blind and partially sighted users. Intended to work with whatever access technology you have. Can be pre-ordered for delivery late May. Orders from USA and Canada should be made to National Braille Press.
A First Look at the Pearl – Blind Bargains: Audio Content – the new portable device from Freedom Scientific that works with OpenBook to scan books quickly.
Quick Tour of the BookSense DS – Blind Bargains: Audio Content:
When Braille and Print Collide – Blind Bargains: Audio Content – Viewplus have some new products for including Braille and print on the same page.
Other CSUN articles
Adobe at CSUN 2010 – Adobe Accessibility
GW Micro Anounces an Improved Desktop SenseView – Blind Bargains
GW Micro Anounces the BookSense DS with OLED Display – Blind Bargains
GW Micro Anounces the Voice Sense QWERTY – Blind Bargains
GW Micro Releases BookSense 2.1 Firmware – Blind Bargains
I.D. Mate Summit is even Smaller, Lighter – Blind Bargains
Plextalk Pocket Wireless Details Begin to Emerge – Blind Bargains
Sendero Pretends to be Letterman, Releases Top 10 List of New GPS Features – lind Bargains
A (Guide Dogs) bus stop inside the House of Commons — Guide dog puppy blog – talking buses on the agenda for the UK
A reading strategy for low-vision users of SmartView Xtend « Jon Udell – related video
Reading with the SmartView Xtend magnifier (no soundtrack)
Accessible News Slider: A jQuery Plugin – there is a myth that jQuery is not accessible. Take a look at this.
Accessible Recreation – includes adaptive sports, travel and other leisure activities. USA based.
Accessibility: Why it Matters – Blackboard Blogs: by a member of Blackboard’s user experience dept.
Adapting to accessibility « Boagworld – short podcast on making the web a better place for disabled and non-disabled people alike.
[Video] Adobe – Flash CS4 Professional Accessibility – good to note that the controls on the video are accessible.
Assistives in Windows 7 « LVATUG blog – accessibility improvements in Windows 7.
Chairman Ed Towns Breaks Down Bureaucratic Barriers to Good Paying Jobs for People Who Are Blind – US Government urged to cut unemployment among blind people.
CMU Sphinx – Speech Recognition Toolkit – open source toolkit fromCarnegie Mellon University
collective.flowplayer_toolbar: adding accessibility in an unobtrusive way — RedTurtle’s Blog – a Flash player with accessibility features.
Creating Accessible Forms in MS Word from Freedom Scientific
Disabled protest at Safa House – Mail & Guardian Online – disabled South Africans protest about the lack of facilities at the World Cup.
Firefox Add-On Adds Text To Voice « The BAT Channel – the add-on can speak and record the speech to an audio file.
Flash Player and Flex Support for IAccessible2 and WAI-ARIA – Adobe Accessibility – one of several recent articles by Adobe about improved accessibility in their products.
Adobe Accessibility RSS Feed
Fliptop makes RSS feeds more accessible | Rafe’s Radar – CNET News – but you have to get through a CAPTCHA first!!!!
GovHK site revamped – Hong Kong government has removed accessibility barriers from its web site, in consultation with users.
Guide Dogs launches guide to services for people with sight loss – Guide dog puppy blog – UK-wide directory. Guide for each country in .DOC format (accessible) can be freely downloaded.
Guide dog puppy blog RSS Feed
ID Mate Portable Barcode Reader « LVATUG blog – talking device by Envision America
Identification of important cards – Donna Jodhan
[Video] Inclusive Universe – Wendy Chisholm – imagine a world that’s accessible to everyone (so long as you’re in Seattle!).
Inference Group: Dasher Project – Dasher is a text-entry system using gestures, including eye movements, for situations where a keyboard isn’t realistic.
iPhone & iPod touch Apps for (Special) Education « ConnSENSE Bulletin – very useful list of links by category.
Learning to Navigate Blindness & Hearing Loss – the author has Usher’s Syndrome, which results in both sight and hearing loss. She is documenting her training at Colorado Center for the Blind.
Lexdis – Ideas for e-Learning – techniques and technology.
LookTel a Mobile Augmented Reality Solution for the Visually Impaired in partnership with LinkMe Mobile. Contains visual and voice recognition technology.
LookTel – Mobile Object Recognition and Remote Assistance Solutions for Visually Impaired Users
LVATUG blog – Low Vision Assistive Technology Users Group serving the NC Triangle Low Vision Community.
LVATUG blog RSS Feed
Online text to speech (TTS) converter – SpokenText.net – convert text to speech and save in audio files. Demo account is free.
Rabbis oppose Egged plan for audio-visual aids for deaf and blind – screens on buses could be used for "unworthy purposes" claim the ultra-orthodox.
School Boards Required To Comply With New Accessibility Standards – Canada, Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration
Talking Tins – Voice Recorder for Schools and the Visually Impaired – originally designed to help blind people identify tinned foods, talking tins have their uses in education too.
University adopts award winning mobile technology / Current news / The University of Newcastle, Australia – real-time information on phones, programmed by University student.
VoicePrint – the non-profit, 24/7 audio newsstand that broadcasts top stories — international, national, regional and local — from more than 600 Canadian newspapers and magazines into 10 million homes.