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History Uncovered: Another Early Audio Book Travels to APH Museum

by J.J. Meddaugh

Another piece of early audio book history has been uncovered. According to the American Printing House for the Blind Fred's Head Blog, A 1936 recording of Gulliver's Travels was recently donated along with other early talking books. Read by Louisville radio voice Hugh Sutton, it was the first book produced in APH's new recording studio. It is believed that roughly 100 copies of the novel were produced. Many early audio recordings have been destroyed or lost over time, though recent efforts have been made to uncover some of these lost treasures. Another early audio book from the Royal National Institute of Blind People was discovered in Canada last fall.

We discussed more about the history of talking books with author and historian Matt Rubery on podcast 91.

Posted yesterday 1:11 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Coming Soon WCAG 2.1: Perhaps the Most Important Web Acronym for Accessibility

by J.J. Meddaugh

The last time guidelines for accessible web content were published by the World Wide Web Consortium, many of our readers were likely using flip phones or early talking Nokia devices. The next version will address many of the advancements in technology which have been released over the past few years including mobile apps and touch screen devices.

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Posted Monday, 27-Mar-2017 11:53 AM ET in News     Post a comment

TalkBack 5.2 Public Beta Released; Gets Rid of Much Maligned Xylophones and Adds Verbosity Settings

by J.J. Meddaugh

The first public beta of TalkBack 5.2 has been posted for Android users. As we previously reported, this new release introduces a variety of features including custom verbosity settings which allow a user to select how much speech feedback is given while navigating. Feedback via sound is also different in this version, with a new collection of earcons, the sounds that are played to indicate various elements on the screen. The new sounds are less musical and more brief and to the point.

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Posted Friday, 24-Mar-2017 9:44 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Humanware Releases BrailleNote Touch 3.0 Update with More Voices, Improved Web Support

by J.J. Meddaugh

As promised by Greg Stilson in our recent Humanware CSUN podcast, version 3.0 of the software for the BrailleNote Touch is now available as a free update. This version adds support for opening multiple documents in KeyWord, updated support for WebViews included in newer versions of Android, additional voices and languages, and a smattering of additional features and bug fixes. Greg demonstrates some of the new features and goes into more detail on the podcast linked above. The version 3.0 changelog is listed below and also linked from this post. Thanks to Jay Pellis for the tip.

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Posted Friday, 17-Mar-2017 8:33 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Accessible NCAA Tournament Bracket Once Again Available

by J.J. Meddaugh

Terrill Thompson has once again posted a completely accessible NCAA March Madness bracket which you can fill out and monitor. It uses accessibility best practices to create one of the most usable brackets for screen reader users. Check the source link on this post to check it out or fill out a bracket. The first main tournament round starts just after noon on Thursday.

Posted Wednesday, 15-Mar-2017 12:38 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Public Beta of Baum VarioUltra 1.4 Firmware Released

by J.J. Meddaugh

A public beta of the Version 1.4 firmware for the Baum VarioUltra has been posted. We covered the bulk of the changes in a post last week, which includes UEB support and the ability to unlock your phone from the device. There is a long list of changes available in the source link from this post.

Posted Tuesday, 07-Mar-2017 4:01 PM ET in News     Post a comment

#CSUNATC17: Google Demonstrates Features of TalkBack 5.2 for Android; Teases Contracted Braille Input for BrailleBack

by J.J. Meddaugh

Google had a full slate of sessions at this year's CSUN conference and showed off some of the features for the next version of the TalkBack screen reader for Android devices. Google's Victor Tsaran highlighted several changes for version 5.2, which is set to enter public beta in a couple weeks.

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Posted Monday, 06-Mar-2017 09:19 AM ET in News     2 comments

#CSUNATC17: KNFB Reader for Windows is Here for Under 20 Bucks for the Moment

by Scott Davert

As we announced earlier, KNFB Reader for Windows 10 is here. At that time, we did not have much information as to the specifics, but that has changed with the release of the app The Windows version boasts, among other things, full support for Narrator as well as compatibility with other popular screen readers including NVDA, JAWS and Dolphin SuperNova. It also supports Microsoft's text-to-speech voices."

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Posted Wednesday, 01-Mar-2017 9:25 PM ET in News     1 comment

#CSUNATC17: Hims and Android, It Just Makes Braille Sense

by Scott Davert

Today at CSUN, HIMS is officially unveiling its latest product in the line of Braille Sense notetakers known as the Braille Sense Polaris. The Polaris, unlike previous Braille Sense models which have run on Windows CE, will run on Android 5 Lollypop. It will contain many of the Sense suite of applications and also retain much of the menu structure found on all previous models. Features like the Bookshare Downloader, Bard app, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and others which can be downloaded and are usable from the Google Play store are not included.

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Posted Wednesday, 01-Mar-2017 6:02 PM ET in News     4 comments

#CSUNATC17: Sendero Announces Sendero GPS 2017; Offers discounts on Anual Subscriptions to its apps

by Scott Davert

According to a press release, Sendero has announced the rlease of Sendero GPS 2017 for notetakers and the PC. For the notetaker side, the update is to the points of interest (POI) database and map data. For the PC version, version 2017 introduces the ability to virtually explore by POIs along a street and it also allows the user to virtually enter, display details and exit a POI.

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Posted Wednesday, 01-Mar-2017 09:22 AM ET in News     Post a comment

#CSUNATC17: UPDATED! Windows Finally Gets Some Recognition With KNFB Reader

by Scott Davert

The National Federation of the Blind and Sensotec NV have announced that it will be demoing the upcoming release of KNFB Reader for Windows at the CSUN conference. It appears, from the release, that this app will only run on Windows 10. It will have support for multiple screen readers, as well as its own TTS and support for braille displays. The release further indicates that it will be using similar technology found on the iOS and Android versions of the app, including nearly instant OCR results for pictures, the field of view report, and other options found on the already existing KNFB Reader apps.

KNFB Reader for Windows will cost $19.95 for a limited time, and is compatible with most scanners and available for Windows 10.

Posted Wednesday, 01-Mar-2017 01:49 AM ET in News     Post a comment

#CSUNATC17: HandyTech Joins the Small Braille Display Battle with Actilino, a 16-cell Model

by J.J. Meddaugh

An episode of the Blind Abilities podcast tells us of a new 16-cell braille display from HandyTech. According to Earle Harrison of Triumph Technology, the U.S. distributor for HandyTech, the Actilino is a new 16-cell braille display which includes HandyTech's Active Tactile Control, a technology which can automatically advance the braille display based on your hand movements.

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Posted Tuesday, 28-Feb-2017 10:49 AM ET in News     Post a comment

#CSUNATC17: NeoBraille Will have Lots of Skills Other Notetakers Won't

by Scott Davert

ElBraille isn't the only product that has undergone changes and hopes to be available soon after showcasing at CSUN. NeoeAccess is back with a new flavor for the NeoBraille. originally announced just prior to CSUN last year, the device was running on Android and was going to be sold by Irie-At in the U.S. The Irie-At Twitter account has been sending out tweets teasing an announcement, which is now here.

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Posted Tuesday, 28-Feb-2017 10:22 AM ET in News     1 comment

#CSUNATC17: ElBraille is Coming, and it Will Be Better Than Advertized Last year.

by Scott Davert

Many of you may recall the VFO Group, then known only as Freedom Scientific, announcing the ElBraille just prior to last year's CSUN conference. This year, ElBraille is back with some upgraded specs and now seems destined for release.

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Posted Monday, 27-Feb-2017 3:26 PM ET in News     2 comments

Amazon's New Disability Help Line Can Describe Product Pictures to You Among Other Tasks

by J.J. Meddaugh

Amazon is the latest company to launch a help desk for disabled customers. To access it from the U.S., call toll-free (888) 283-1678. In addition to the usual technical questions one may ask about using the website or Amazon's services, agents are able to describe product pictures or assist in the shopping process. Of note, they are not allowed to actually place an order for you. It's open from 6 AM-1 AM Eastern time, 7 days a week. Thanks to the Fred's Head Blog for the info.

Posted Monday, 27-Feb-2017 2:11 PM ET in News     Post a comment

#CSUNATC17, Why the Long Hashtag?

by J.J. Meddaugh

Those of us who have participated in what is now known as the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference are used to typing a few short characters to use the conference's official Twitter hashtag. Last year it was #CSUN16. But conference organizers have made a change which has resulted in a new hashtag format for this year, #CSUNATC17.

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Posted Monday, 27-Feb-2017 05:04 AM ET in News     Post a comment

Coming in Version 1.4 of the VarioUltra: Unlocking mobile devices with the Braille Display, UEB Support, and more

by Scott Davert

Though not publicly available for download, Baum has unveiled what's coming in version 1.4 of the firmware for the VarioUltra braille display. Among the included features is the public beta release of support for Unified English Braille (UEB).

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Posted Friday, 24-Feb-2017 3:28 PM ET in News     1 comment

Live on the Edge, or have an Ultra Lifestyle? An In-depth review of HIMS and Baum Braille Displays

by Scott Davert

Some of today's braille displays do a lot more than just display braille, but which one is right for your needs? In this in-depth article, I compare the VarioUltra (VU) from Baum and the Braille Edge from HIMS. I chose These 2 units because they both have 40 cells of braille and are what the market seems to now call "smart displays", a term given to devices which do not perform all of the functions of a traditional notetaker such as playing music, GPS navigation, downloading email directly to the device, or browsing the internet. At the same time, these devices are able to accomplish more than just connecting to an external gadget such as a computer, tablet, or smart phone. While these braille devices are in the middle in terms of functionality, they're also in the middle in terms of their price point when compared with other categories of braille devices. This article will examine both the Braille Edge and VarioUltra for their connectivity, support while connecting with some external devices, their internal applications, and physical appearance.

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Posted Wednesday, 22-Feb-2017 1:34 PM ET in Articles     2 comments

NVDA's 2017.1 Released with Kindle and Office Updates, Mor

by J.J. Meddaugh

NVAccess has Published the official release for NVDA 2017.1, the first milestone release of the new year. In addition to previously mentioned support for Kindle reading on PC, this update improves support for several Microsoft products including table reading in the Edge web browser and various improvements and changes for Word, and Excel as well as a variety of bug fixes. In case you missed it last week, the complete changelog is below.

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Posted Wednesday, 22-Feb-2017 12:15 AM ET in News     Post a comment

Ohio State Survey Examines Race Perceptions of Blind People

by J.J. Meddaugh

Researchers at Ohio State University have posted a short survey to examine racial perceptions as it pertains to people who are blind or visually impaired. According to the survey page, "The purpose of this research survey is to examine how indi viduals who are blind or visually impaired perceive race and culture. Through the results of this survey, it is our hope to better understand the perceptions of individuals who are blind within these areas in an effort to improve education and raise awareness of diversity among all individuals, including individuals with vision loss." No compensation is being offered, and the survey is expected to take 5 to 10 minutes to complete. Check the link on this post to learn more or take the survey.

Posted Tuesday, 21-Feb-2017 6:19 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Amazon is on Fire with TV Accessibility

by J.J. Meddaugh

Amazon continues to add accessibility to its lineup of products, and a recent blog post focuses on current and forthcoming improvements for Fire TV, Amazon's connected Smart TV product.

Amazon is focusing on the experience for speech and low vision users, including easy access to adjust the rate of speech, a review mode which can be used to reread information or spell names of actors and show titles, and global settings for higher contrast and closed captions. Apps like Netflix and Hulu now also play nicer with accessibility services, according to the blog post.

Amazon's Fire TV is a small device which plugs into an existing television or video display and displays and plays video content, such as television shows, photos, or videos. It's a direct competitor to the Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast among others.

You can read more from the Amazon blog post. Stay with Blind Bargains for more Amazon coverage from CSUN 2017.

Posted Friday, 17-Feb-2017 3:59 PM ET in News     Post a comment

This Ain't your Father'sChromeVox; Major Updates for Chrome's Screen Reader

by J.J. Meddaugh

Google's Chromebooks have come a long way since their initial introduction, and now the ChromeVox screen reader is taking a major leap forward as well. The new version includes a variety of enhancements including an enhanced keyboard layout, stereo earcons which provide contextual and positioning information, a panel for teachers so they can follow along with what the student is hearing, and USB braille support with the ability to use braille keyboard commands. New ChromeVox menus allow the user to find various menu options, links lists, and other features. All of this and more is explained in more detail on Google's blog post.

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Posted Friday, 17-Feb-2017 3:50 PM ET in News     Post a comment

The Expanded Blind Bargains Guide to Attending #CSUNATC17 on a Budget

by J.J. Meddaugh

It's time for what has become a bit of an annual tradition around here. This will be our 8th time attending the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, the largest such conference for the blind. We often hear from people who would love to go, if only it was within their budget. With room rates over $200 a night, a nearly $500 registration fee, plane tickets, meals, and other expenses, the cost often seems prohibitive. With this in mind, we've updated our list of tips for enjoying the conference on a budget.

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Posted Thursday, 16-Feb-2017 5:11 PM ET in News     1 comment

NVDA's first 2017 Release Features Kindle, Edge, and Office Changes

by J.J. Meddaugh

NVAccess has Published the Release Candidate for NVDA 2017.1, the first milestone release of the new year. In addition to previously mentioned support for Kindle reading on PC, this update improves support for several Microsoft products including table reading in the Edge web browser and various improvements and changes for Word, and Excel as well as a variety of bug fixes. The complete changelog is below.

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Posted Wednesday, 15-Feb-2017 9:12 PM ET in News     Post a comment

The VFO Group Releases Magic 14 enhancing Mouse Echo, Upgrading Vocalizer Voices, and More

by Scott Davert

The VFO group has released Magic version 14, bringing several updates to the software. Improvements include upgraded Vocalizer Voices, updates to Mouse Echo, the introduction of audio ducking, and speech improvements to Office 2016.

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Posted Friday, 10-Feb-2017 4:44 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Saudi Arabia University Students Seeking Quick Feedback on iOS Game Development

by J.J. Meddaugh

A student team from King Saud University in Saudi Arabia is seeking to develop an iPhone game that can be played by both blind and sighted people and seeks your input. They've posted a short 6-question survey to gauge interest in the type of game they should create. To take survey, follow the link on this post.

Posted Friday, 10-Feb-2017 2:35 PM ET in News     Post a comment

NVDA Remote Access Releases Version 2.0, bringing several improvements and a new Feature

by Scott Davert

The developers of NVDA Remote Access, an add-on to NVDA which allows users who are both running the screen reader to connect to each others' computers, have released version 2.0. One enhancement in this version is the introduction of Remote Braille. If each connected user has a braille display connected, the braille output should match along with the speech output.

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Posted Thursday, 09-Feb-2017 04:28 AM ET in News     Post a comment

Make a Quick $20 for Taking a Short Survey on Screen Reader Usage

by J.J. Meddaugh

If you use a screen reader, a research company wants to hear from you and will pay you for your time. User Research International has posted a short survey about screen reader usage. The survey can be taken on a computer, tablet, or mobile device and should take about 10 minutes to complete. Participants who qualify will receive $20 for completing the survey. Follow this link to take the survey.
Update: This survey is now full and is no longer accepting respondents.

Posted Wednesday, 08-Feb-2017 4:17 PM ET in News     Post a comment

The Next Update to NVDA will Bring Major Access Improvements to Kindle Books

by Scott Davert

Over the years, many blind users have wanted to use Kindle for PC just as easily as their sighted counterparts. This is especially true in the field of education. Though the Kindle for Accessibility Plug-in exists, it only permits the user to read text out loud and to configure basic speech settings. Last year, James Scholes released his latest tool, Codex, a conversion tool which permitted both braille and speech access to the Kindle library once the book was converted to a more useable format.

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Posted Wednesday, 08-Feb-2017 12:42 PM ET in News     Post a comment

The Hashtag you have Reached, #CSUN17, has been Changed. The new Hashtag is #CSUNATC17

by J.J. Meddaugh

If you are attending the 32nd CSUN Assistive Technology Conference in San Diego this March or want to follow the action, you'll need to reprogram your brain to use a new hashtag. #CSUNATC17 replaces the traditional #CSUN17 as the official hashtag per conference organizers according to the CSUN Center on Disabilities [@csuncod](] Twitter account. The change was made to avoid confusion with other events. In reality, you may just need to follow both hashtags for the time being, as tweets seem to be split between the old and new hashtags as of this article. The CSUN conference is the most tweeted about assistive technology event of the year with many participants, exhibitors, presenters, and media outlets sharing their finds and tidbits.

Posted Tuesday, 07-Feb-2017 4:56 PM ET in News     1 comment

The Apex of Price Cuts: BrailleNote Apex from $1,995 from Humanware

by J.J. Meddaugh

HumanWare has drastically cut prices on its BrailleNote Apex products, the second price cut for the previous generation notetakers since September. Customers can now purchase a 32-cell Apex for $2,995 or an 18-cell model for $1,995. That's a drop of up to $2,000 on the previous prices and just a bit over half of the original retail price. Last September Humanware dropped prices of the Apex shortly after the release of the Touch. The Apex runs a version of KeySoft based on Windows CE and has not received a major software update since KeySoft 9.5 in May of 2015.

Posted Tuesday, 07-Feb-2017 12:09 PM ET in News     Post a comment

No excuses, Uncle Sam is Accessible with Hundreds of IRS Tax Forms

by J.J. Meddaugh

Perhaps the only things certain in life are death and taxes, but at least the latter is a bit more accessible thanks to the efforts of the Internal Revenue Service. Hundreds of tax forms are available on the IRS accessibility website in large-print, text, accessible PDF, e-Braille, or HTML formats. Assistance in filling out tax returns is also available for qualifying individuals. Check the link on this post for more info. Taxes are due a bit later this year, on April 17.

Posted Monday, 06-Feb-2017 9:08 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Watch a Video of DISH Accessibility Features on the Hopper 3 DVR

by J.J. Meddaugh

DISH has joined a growing number of television providers to offer accessibility services as a part of its set-top boxes. In a recently-posted YouTube video, Joseph Hodge demonstrates the Hopper 3, one of the DISH receivers with text-to-speech functionality. Pressing the Option button twice launches the service which speaks the program guide, loads on-demand content and lets you record shows. According to Hodge, some of the apps including Pandora and Weather also speak, though others including YouTube and Netflix currently do not.

Text-to-speech functionality is available on the Hopper 2, Hopper 3 and Wally receivers and can be requested by contacting DISH sales for current or perspective customers. More information can be found on DISH's accessibility page.

Posted Monday, 06-Feb-2017 8:34 PM ET in News     1 comment

Applicants Accepted for The Holman Prize, a $25,000 Aspirational Awarde

by J.J. Meddaugh

What would you do with $25,000? The San Francisco Lighthouse is asking this question as it seeks to bestow the Holman Prize, an award which is designed to, as they put it, assist in "FUNDING THE DREAMS AND AMBITIONS OF BLIND INDIVIDUALS WORLDWIDE."

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Posted Monday, 06-Feb-2017 7:49 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Mike May Sets his Destination as Seattle Lighthouse President

by J.J. Meddaugh

A founder and long time CEO of the Sendero Group is moving on up, literally. Mike May has accepted a job as the president of the Seattle Lighthouse. The Seattle Lighthouse is a nonprofit which employs over 400 people including over 260 that are blind and is one of the largest such organizations in the country. May takes his new post on April 3 and succeeds Kirk Adams, who stepped down in 2016 to accept the job of President for the American Foundation for the Blind.

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Posted Monday, 06-Feb-2017 3:41 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Public Beta of Dictation Bridge Add-on for NVDA Released

by J.J. Meddaugh

Dictation Bridge, an open-source, crowdfunded tool which aims to enable accessible dictation of text using screen readers, has released a public beta of its add-on for NVDA. This version works with both Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Microsoft Speech Recognition, the latter available for free with modern versions of Windows. Users can speak text and have it typed into their favorite app, or control NVDA itself with commands for Dragon. JAWS and Window-Eyes add-ons are still on the roadmap for the near future.
You can hear more about Dictation Bridge on Blind Bargains Qast 55 where we interviewed Lucy Greco. For more details about the features below, check out the Dictation Bridge Public Beta page.

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Posted Thursday, 19-Jan-2017 8:30 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Captcha Be Gone Now Available for the Chrome Web Browser

by J.J. Meddaugh

Captcha Be Gone, an online service which can decipher most visual CAPTCHAs on web pages, is now available for the Chrome web browser. This is in addition to support for Firefox and Internet Explorer which is already included. The service was launched last July and is available via a $3 monthly or $33 yearly plan. Both of these are introductory prices and may go up in the future.

Posted Thursday, 19-Jan-2017 8:13 PM ET in News     1 comment

NFB and ACB Conventions Don't Overlap; Hotel Reservations Accepted Now

by J.J. Meddaugh

If you had aspirations for attending both major blindness consumer organization national conventions, you can do this in 2017 and even have time to come home in-between. The National Federation of the Blind will once again hold their convention at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort though it will be later than in past years. Convention activities start on Monday, July 10 and continue through Saturday, July 15. This is the site used for the 2011 and 2016 conventions.
The American Council of the Blind's 2017 Conference and Convention is actually a day shorter than in past years, stretching from June 30 to July 7. It will return to the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nev. just outside of Reno. The ACB was last in Reno in 2011.
NFB online registration typically starts March 1 while ACB registration usually launches in May. Hotel reservations for both conventions can be made now. Check the links above for info.

Posted Thursday, 19-Jan-2017 8:06 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Be My Eyes has Nearly a Half Million Users on their Platform; Android App Coming Soon

by J.J. Meddaugh

Be My Eyes, an iPhone app which provides visual assistance to blind and visually impaired users, says that an Android port of their app is imminent. The original Be My Eyes app was released just over 2 years ago and was one of the first in a line of crowd assistance platforms. According to a recent Email, The app is now served over 32,000 blind and visually impaired users with the help of more than 450,000 sighted volunteers.
You can select this link to be informed of the release of the Android app.

Posted Thursday, 19-Jan-2017 7:08 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Catching Up: Android TalkBack 5.1 Adds Smattering of Enhancements; Ends Support for Pre 5.0 Devices

by J.J. Meddaugh

Recently, Google's Eyes-free team released version 5.1 of the TalkBack screen reader for Android devices. This version is the first to only run on Android 5.1 and newer, which encompasses most current devices. Those running Android 4.4 or earlier received a bug fix release, version 5.0.7, which is said to be the last for these devices.
TalkBack 5.1 includes a list of minor improvements including announcing of page load percentages in Chrome, an assignable shortcut for the Quick Settings Panel, and improvements for scrolling in large lists. We've included the message from the Eyes-free mailing list below.

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Posted Thursday, 19-Jan-2017 6:57 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Apple Rundown: The “Don’t Throw Away The Gift Receipt” Edition

by Joe Steinkamp

The holidays are usually a fun and happy time. You sing carols around the Festivus pole or holiday tree. You countdown the hours until midnight during New year's Eve with that shiny new Apple Watch. And you reflect back on the year that was with a sense of reverence. Um, yeah, that is how it is meant to be unless you factor in the party pooper of all years 2016. Not even the company Steve Jobs built was immune to the harshest of years as you will see in the stories below. Moreover, and I cannot underscore this enough, I had to quit capturing links for this edition because it was frankly making me depressed. Dogpiling, kicking you when you are down or even opportunistic doesn t begin to summarize the wide array of sadness that comes from Apple watching these days. Here s hoping that 2017 brings us an Amazon Echo competitor, foldable iPhones plus self driving iCars!

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Posted Monday, 09-Jan-2017 4:44 PM ET in Articles     Post a comment

Blind Bargains Qast 2016: By The Numbers Listener Edition

by Joe Steinkamp


The Blind Bargains Qast can t thank enough our friends, fans and cast of Regulars. Chancey, Jeff, J.J., Joe, Liam, Patrick, Scott, Shelly and Ricky all work hard to bring you information and entertainment that we think our Community will enjoy. Our Sponsors deserve a huge round of applause as well, as their support allows us to bring you event coverage. However, and most importantly, you, the listener, matter most of all. Submissions, emails and social media mentions have enabled us to grow our download numbers by 30% over 2015 s download numbers. We can t wait to see where we will go in 2017, however, we can t go anywhere without your feedback. Please feel free to send us your ideas and suggestions to or leave comments in the section below. Or, as you will read shortly, click on those shows and interviews that interest you the most. Your input shapes BBQ even if all you do is pass along a link to our content.

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Posted Saturday, 31-Dec-2016 7:41 PM ET in Articles     Post a comment

Facebook announces Live Audio feature for iOS and Android

by Michael McCarty

Facebook has announced that it is introducing a Live Audio feature that allows live broadcasts of audio-only content. The company will be testing the feature with a small number of established broadcasters including the BBC World Service and LBC. iOS users will get a worse version of the service than using Android devices: while Android users can continue listening to a Live Audio broadcast while using other apps, iOS users will need to remain within the app. You can, though, browse other Facebook content while listening. If you fancy yourself as a live radio host or live podcaster, the company says that it will be making the feature more available to publishers and people early in the new year.

Posted Friday, 23-Dec-2016 06:58 AM ET in News     1 comment

Cooking with J: Dead Simple Chicken Tikka Masala in the Instant Pot

by J.J. Meddaugh

A cooking column? This may be one of the last things you'd expect me to embark on but here we are. First of all, let me be completely honest. I am not a chef, nor do I know a lot of the intricacies of gourmet cooking. I do know that I like good food and meals which are simple to create. With these things in mind, I was enamored with the idea of the Instant Pot pressure cookers for their ease of use and the possibility of making all sorts of delicious dishes using only one pot. To learn more about the basics of the Instant Pot, check out Blind Bargains Qast 78 where Ricky Enger and myself discuss and demo the appliance in depth. And if you wish to purchase one, check out this page on Amazon which usually has the best prices.

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Posted Thursday, 15-Dec-2016 12:00 AM ET in Articles     Post a comment

Microsoft Announces Accessibility Plans for 2017 including Built-in Braille Support and Unattended Installs for Narrator

by Scott Davert

At the beginning of 2016, Microsoft presented a Road Map moving forward which laid out their plans and visions for the future of accessibility on Microsoft products. Microsoft has now published a list of things they hope to achieve in 2017.

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Posted Friday, 09-Dec-2016 4:56 PM ET in News     2 comments

Microsoft's New Free CaptionBot Demo Showcases New Automatic Image Recognition Technology

by J.J. Meddaugh

Microsoft is taking automatic picture recognition a step further in an online demo which recognizes and describes images. According to the home page, for CaptionBot, "I can understand the content of any photograph and I'll try to describe it as well as any human."

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Posted Tuesday, 06-Dec-2016 4:58 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Rice University Researchers Want to Make Urine Accessible; Seeks Survey Participants

by J.J. Meddaugh

When it comes to issues of a personal matter, blind people are often left without an accessible way to perform tasks that they may wish to remain private. Team SEER at Rice University is conducting a survey seeking input on a possible accessible urinalysis) device, a tool which can detect blood in a person's urine. The survey is estimated to take 5 minutes to complete and no compensation is provided. We've linked to it from this post.

Posted Tuesday, 06-Dec-2016 4:35 PM ET in News     Post a comment

City Lights App Will Alert you of Upcoming Traffic Lights

by J.J. Meddaugh

A new app aims to alert blind and visually impaired people of oncoming traffic lights. City Lights is a free iPhone app which will vibrate three times while someone is walking when they near an intersection with a traffic light. The app currently works in San Francisco, Oakland, Chula Vista, Boston, Manchester, Montreal, Victoria and Athens and other cities are being added regularly. An Android version is also being explored. Check the link to learn more or to download the app.

Posted Tuesday, 29-Nov-2016 4:52 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Roku Adds Audio Guide to Streaming Players in Latest Update though Much Remains Inaccessible

by J.J. Meddaugh

Roku, makers of the most popular line of streaming media players, has added a basic Audio Guide feature in its latest update. Version 7.5 allows the user to navigate through menus, adjust settings, and load some of the many channels available, though users report that accessibility in this initial release is spotty at best.

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Posted Tuesday, 29-Nov-2016 4:31 PM ET in News     5 comments

Voter Experience Survey Seeking your Election Input

by J.J. Meddaugh

If you voted in the 2016 election in the U.S., the National Federation of the Blind wants to hear about your experiences good or bad. This year, there are two surveys available depending on the method you used for voting. Blind and low vision voters who cast their ballot at an early voting center, local polling place on Election Day, or by absentee ballot that was received by regular mail, should complete this survey Alternatively, blind and low vision voters who used a personal computer or tablet to mark their ballot should complete the electronic ballot delivery survey Responses are due by November 29.

Posted Tuesday, 15-Nov-2016 5:56 PM ET in News     Post a comment

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