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Assistive technology news and info.

APH Looking at Bringing Nearby Explorer GPS to the iPhone

by J.J. Meddaugh

The American Printing House for the Blind is researching the possibility of bringing its Nearby Explorer GPS software to iOS devices including the iPhone. This detail is one of many included in its annual report, published to its website each fiscal year. In addition to this possibility, the release of a demo version and international expansion are also on the roadmap. Nearby Explorer is currently available for Android devices for $99 and is also included on the BraillePlus 18 notetaker. We've linked to the entire annual report which includes info on this and many other APH projects.

Posted Monday, 09-Feb-2015 1:16 PM ET in News     1 comment

AFB's 2015 Access Award Winners Highlight Apps, TV, Computing Accomplishments

by J.J. Meddaugh

MIPsoft, the company behind the popular Blindsquare GPS app for the iPhone, Comcast, and Odin Mobile were among this year's winners for the American Foundation for the Blind's Access Awards. The AFB the Blind annually recognizes companies, organizations, and people who have broken down barriers to accessibility in extraordinary ways.

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Posted Monday, 09-Feb-2015 12:31 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Acapela Adds its Voice to the NVDA Screen Reader, Available Starting at 59 Euros

by J.J. Meddaugh

Users of the free NVDA screen reader now have another option for obtaining enhanced voices. Acapela Group is now offering two voice packages, which both include a variety of voice styles and languages and work on up to three computers.

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Posted Sunday, 08-Feb-2015 5:00 PM ET in News     1 comment

Venerable Kurzweil 1000 gets Bump to Version 14 with OCR Improvements, Enhanced PDF Support, More

by J.J. Meddaugh

Cambium Learning Group has released version 14 of its popular Kurzweil 1000 OCR program. The popular Windows-based scanning and optical character recognition tool now can create PDF files from extracted images and includes a host of additional improvements which we've listed below. Upgrades from any previous version remain at $125 and are available now.

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Posted Sunday, 08-Feb-2015 4:49 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Austrian Researchers Tackling Full Page Braille Display Challenge with BLITAB

by J.J. Meddaugh

A team of researchers has recently raised over $10,000 to create an alpha prototype for BLITAB, a full-page braille display project which has been in development for three years. The claim on the project's page as the "world's first tablet for blind people" is perhaps a bit misleading, but the project itself has some lofty goals. The BLITAB would include braille translation features as well as a GPS and support for obtaining information from NFC tags.

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Posted Sunday, 08-Feb-2015 4:09 PM ET in News     1 comment

Quiet Cars May Not be Mandated until 2018

by J.J. Meddaugh

It may be at least 2018 until regulations governing sounds made by quiet cars takes effect. According to Green Car Reports The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has delayed their rulemaking procedures on the issue until the end of 2015, which also has the effect of delaying implementation of the rule. IN 2011, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act became law, a bill which required quiet cars to emit a sound to alert pedestrians including the blind. The [U.S. Energy Information Administration]( estimated over 11 million vehicles which use alternative fuels were on the road as of 2011, though not all of these vehicles would be considered quiet cars. Check the source link for more details.

Posted Monday, 02-Feb-2015 3:38 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Cards Against Humanity now Accessible Thanks to 64 Oz. Games

by J.J. Meddaugh

The wildly successful adult party game Cards Against Humanity is now accessible to the blind, thanks to a kit from 64 Oz. Games. The company specializes in making kits which make card and board games accessible, often accomplished by using plastic overlay sleeves. To achieve this, you would purchase the Cards Against Humanity game and then the accessibility kit. It'll be necessary to find a way to read the printed cards so they can be matched with their corresponding braille overlays. Once this is done, you'll have a completely accessible version of one of the most popular games in the world.

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Posted Sunday, 01-Feb-2015 8:25 PM ET in News     5 comments

Hims Announces Blaze ET MultiPlayer with OCR, Dictionary, More

by J.J. Meddaugh

Hims is adding another model to its line of Blaze portable DAISY players. The Blaze ET will include additional features including a dictionary, calculator, and other applications. A redesigned layout is also a possibility, given some of the features and requests from users of the original Booksense models. This presentation outline from this week's ATIA conference gives some additional information. No pricing info has been released. We'll be sure to post more about this as our ATIA coverage unfolds. Update: Earlier we reported the inclusion of a Skype application, based on the above link. Hims has now said this feature will not be included, at least for now.

Posted Wednesday, 28-Jan-2015 10:52 PM ET in News     Post a comment

It's an iOS App Store Bonnanza! 4 New Offerings from Kid Friendly Software, Voice Dream and iBraille

by Joe Steinkamp

Good things usually come in threes. However, this week sees the release of four new apps for your iDevice of choice.

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Posted Wednesday, 21-Jan-2015 1:16 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Specular Jumps into the Crowdsourced Help Game, Looking for Beta Testers

by J.J. Meddaugh

The field for crowdsourced helper applications is growing rather quickly, and the latest entrant to this category, Specular, is now looking for beta testers. Specular takes elements of some existing services and adds some new twists, allowing blind users to take a picture of something and ask a question via audio. From the description, the app seems a bit more conversational, allowing the sighted or blind user to ask for clarifying information or a better picture. Since the company is looking for beta testers, go ahead and check the link on this post and apply to join the free program for yourself. Both iPhone and Android apps are promised. Only time will tell if all of these new services will survive, but the landscape is certainly becoming interesting.

Posted Monday, 19-Jan-2015 4:55 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Be My Eyes Has Huge Launch Weekend, over 60K Users and Volunteers Registered

by J.J. Meddaugh

The Be My Eyes app has become one of the most talked-about app launches for the blind in recent memory, receiving a whirlwind of mainstream attention not seen since the early days of Fleksy. Media sources and users have been weighing in, giving both user testimonials and prognostications of the future's viability.

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Posted Monday, 19-Jan-2015 1:28 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Minor Victor Stream Update Released with FLAC Support, Other Mystery Changes

by J.J. Meddaugh

HumanWare has posted a new version of the software for the New Generation Victor Stream without much fanfare. Version 4.4.12 doesn't include a changelog as of this post but does seem to include some speed improvements and support for FLAC audio files. One Twitter user reports speed improvements when transferring files from the main memory to the SD card. A bug that caused some users to lose their list of podcast feeds also appears to be squashed. Updates for the stream can be downloaded wirelessly, directly from the unit or from this HumanWare page. If you notice other improvements or changes, post them in the comments.

Posted Monday, 19-Jan-2015 12:41 PM ET in News     Post a comment

I.D. Mate Quest Bar Code Scanner Updated with Item Sharing, History Feature

by J.J. Meddaugh

En-Vision America has released a free update to the software for the I.D. Mate Quest Bar Code Scanner which includes some new social features and bug fixes. Users can now share bar code results with the company to help improve the database. In addition, a history mode can be enabled that allows one to listen to the last 30 scanned items. The entire changelog is posted below.

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Posted Sunday, 18-Jan-2015 6:19 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Some Window-Eyes Users Greeted with Unexpected Message after Security Breach

by J.J. Meddaugh

Some Window-Eyes 9 users received an unexpected pop-up message earlier today, the result of a security breach on the company's App Central repository. AN updated copy of one of the default scripts was posted to the website by someone who maliciously hacked the server. AI Squared quickly defused the problem, though some users may need to go and redownload the GW Toolkit app. No personal data stored on your computer is believed to be at risk. We've included more info on how to fix the problem and a statement issued by AI Squared below.

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Posted Friday, 16-Jan-2015 2:27 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Super Liam from L-Works Released as Freeware

by J.J. Meddaugh

In the world of accessible games, Super Liam was the first accessible side-scroller, taking many of its cues from Super Mario and other past titles. Now, you can relive this chapter in early 2000's accessible games by downloading and playing Super Liam for free. L-Works is releasing several of its older titles for free and users can expect additional releases including Judgment Day in the near future. Check the link to learn more and download the free game, compatible with most versions of Windows.

Posted Thursday, 15-Jan-2015 4:21 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Fool All your Friends; Vocalizer Voices Now on Android from Code Factory

by J.J. Meddaugh

There's no shortage of quality text-to-speech voices available for Android users and now Code Factory, who already has made available a version of Eloquence for Android, has added to the available options by releasing Vocalizer voices for the platform. Vocalizer voices are most commonly associated with the iPhone, including Samantha which is the default United States voice. Similar to Acapela, a free app allows users to browse available voices (more than 80 in all) and individual voices can be purchased for $3.99 each. Early reports indicate the voices are quite responsive. Have you tried out any of the new Vocalizer voices for Android? Let us know what you think.

Posted Thursday, 15-Jan-2015 4:16 PM ET in News     1 comment

Be My Eyes iPhone App Now Available for Download

by J.J. Meddaugh

The Be My Eyes app we previously posted about is now available for free on the iTunes App Store. The app pairs blind or visually impaired individuals with volunteers who can help answer visual questions such as the expiree date on milk or the reading on a thermostat. We've linked to the page on the App Store from this post, and you can hear an interview with cofounder Thelle Kristensen in our Blind Bargains podcast.

Posted Thursday, 15-Jan-2015 4:05 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Window-Eyes 9 Released with Web Support Overhaul, Google Docs, MathPlayer, Increased Responsiveness, More

by J.J. Meddaugh

AI Squared has released Window-Eyes version 9, the biggest update to the screen reader in a couple years. Among the new features are completely rewritten web support for Internet Explorer and Firefox, which will handle modern web pages with dynamic content. In addition, support for Google Docs, the latest version of QuickBooks, MathPlayer, and preliminary support for the Windows 10 preview are included in the update among other features. Increased responsiveness is also included, especially when arrowing around documents or executing other keyboard commands. Window-Eyes is free for users with a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 or later installed. We've linked to the press release from this post.

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Posted Monday, 12-Jan-2015 2:01 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Be My Eyes Sighted Assistance iphone App Going Worldwide on January 15

by J.J. Meddaugh

For the past two years, blind individuals in Denmark have been testing an app which uses the video chat capabilities of an iPhone to provide sighted assistance. Now The app is set to launch worldwide on January 15. Be My Eyes connects volunteers with people needing assistance for cases where an extra pair of eyes could be useful. Examples given include reading mail or adjusting the thermostat. Currently, the nonprofit is looking for volunteers to help run the free service, and is using Thunderclap, a tool to generate interest on social media, to do this. To learn more about the app or join the Thunderclap, which will send their message to over 200 accounts on Thursday, check the link on this post. And, here's a link to the Be My Eyes site. Thanks to Bryan Smart for the tip.

Posted Sunday, 11-Jan-2015 3:59 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Video: Intel CEO Discusses RealSense and Benefits to Visually Impaired in CES Keynote

by J.J. Meddaugh

Intel's keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show included a demonstration of how their RealSense technology has the potential to help the visually impaired be more aware of their surroundings. In the video, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich introduces us to Darryl Adams, a Technical Project Manager at Intel who also happens to be visually impaired. They explain how vibration and other feedback is used to convey nearby information, and how it has opened up new possibilities for Adams. While opinions may differ on the effectiveness of this approach, it's another example of a mainstream company giving time to issues that affect the visually impaired in a major and well-publicized speech. We've linked to the relevant portion of the video in the source so you can watch it for yourself and share your feedback.

Posted Friday, 09-Jan-2015 6:20 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Microsoft Details Accessibility Improvements to Office Online

by J.J. Meddaugh

Google Docs has received the lion's share of attention when it comes to accessibility, but Microsoft has posted a blog message detailing some current and future planned enhancements to Office Online. Included in the changes are increased formatting notifications, virtual buffer reading for smaller files, and improved documentation. While much of the post centers around Narrator support, the help documentation also gives tips for screen reader use with Jaws and Window-Eyes. Check the source link for the post and help files. Have you tried Office Online, and how does it compare with Google Docs? Let us know in the comments.

Posted Friday, 09-Jan-2015 5:57 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Southwest Airlines Extends Schedule, Tickets Now Available to Fly to NFB and ACB Conventions

by J.J. Meddaugh

Southwest Airlines has now extended its flight schedule through August 7, 2015, meaning you can now book travel on the airline for the NFB and ACB summer conventions. Southwest is often the most economical way to travel to a convention considering they allow for two checked bags with your ticket. So if you take a lot of items to convention, there's a potential $100 savings or more. Contrary to popular belief however, Southwest does not always have the cheapest fares, so it's still best to shop around before making a purchase. Check the link to go to the Southwest Airlines website to book travel. The NFB convention will be held in Orlando from July 5-10 while the ACB holds its meeting in Dallas July 3-11.

Posted Wednesday, 17-Dec-2014 3:21 PM ET in News     Post a comment

A Major Rule Change to SSI Could Allow you to Save for Assistive Technology and More

by J.J. Meddaugh

One of the biggest changes to SSI benefits in decades is about to take place. Thanks to legislation passed by Congress this week, many recipients of SSI will be able to put money in savings without penalty.

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Posted Wednesday, 17-Dec-2014 2:54 PM ET in News     Post a comment

It's Getting Hot in Here; Google Now Lets you Control your Nest Thermostat with your Voice

by J.J. Meddaugh

So you're lying in bed and you can't sleep because your vent is blasting hot air into your room. But the thermostat is so far away. Now, thanks to Google and Nest, you can just talk to your phone to solve this dilemma. You can now use a Google Now voice command such as "raise the temperature to 72 degrees" to control a Nest thermostat, assuming you've linked it to your Google account. In addition, Google can use location services to automatically adjust the Nest when you are headed home, and will display this info in a google Now card. Google purchased Nest earlier this year. While this helps make the connected thermostat a bit more usable for the blind, there are still several hurdles which have not yet been addressed, including inaccessibility of the initial set-up process and poor app design. This all existed before Google's purchase, so perhaps things will improve in the near future. There's more details in a post on the Nest site.

Posted Monday, 15-Dec-2014 2:43 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Wanna Get Hired? CAVI Offering New Employment Course

by J.J. Meddaugh

The Cisco Academy for the Vision Impaired (CAVI) is offering an employment course in 2015. Topics discussed include motivation, traits that are helpful when marketing yourself, job readiness and more. There will even be an opportunity to receive feedback on your resume and a mock interview from staff responsible for hiring of employees.
Check the link on this post to learn more.

Posted Friday, 12-Dec-2014 3:56 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Jamie Pauls Tweets Resignation, Joins Others in Leaving Serotek

by J.J. Meddaugh

Jamie Pauls, host of the SeroTalk Weekly Podcast and content curator for Serotek, has decided to leave the company, according to a post on twitter. "I have chosen to bring an end to my relationship with Serotek. Thanks to the best group of people I have ever worked with in my life!" This brings the number of departures at the company to 6. Original CEO Mike Calvo is now taking a more active role in the company and promises that services such as the System Access Mobile Network will remain intact. This is a developing story and we'll post more as we learn of it.

Posted Wednesday, 26-Nov-2014 8:56 PM ET in News     Post a comment

AI Squared Releases Window-Eyes 9 Public Beta 1 with Web Support Overhaul, Google Docs, More

by J.J. Meddaugh

AI Squared has released the first public beta for Window-Eyes version 9, formerly from GW Micro. Among the new features are completely rewritten web support for Internet Explorer and Firefox, which will handle modern web pages with dynamic content. In addition, support for Google Docs, the latest version of QuickBooks, and preliminary support for the Windows 10 preview are included in the update among other features. Increased responsiveness is also included, especially when arrowing around documents or executing other keyboard commands. The beta is free to try for users of Window-Eyes 8.4 or those with a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 or later installed. We've linked to the beta page which includes more information and download links.

Posted Monday, 24-Nov-2014 4:16 PM ET in News     1 comment

Window-Eyes 9.0 Public Beta Imminent, Includes Completely Rewritten Web Support

by J.J. Meddaugh

AI Squared, who is now owners of the Window-Eyes brand after the merger with GW Micro, has posted several teasers leading up to the imminent release of Window-Eyes 9.0 Beta 1. Among the new features teased are completely rewritten web support for Internet Explorer and Firefox, which will handle modern web pages with dynamic content. The need for a rewrite to their web engine had been talked about by company representatives as early as the CSUN conference, and it appears to be the flagship feature for this update. In addition, support for Google Docs and preliminary support for the Windows 10 preview are included in the update among other features. The beta is expected to go public within the coming days and will be free to try for users of Window-Eyes 8.4 or those with a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 or later installed. We've linked to the beta page which includes more information.

Posted Sunday, 23-Nov-2014 9:24 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Serotek Releases Statement, Says the Best is Yet to Come

by J.J. Meddaugh

Serotek has released a statement regarding the recent departures of 5 of their staff members, which emphasizes the company is not going anywhere. From the look of the press release and prior information we've received, it appears that Joe Steinkamp and Ricky Enger were given an offer to continue the Serotek Podcast Network with Serotek covering some of the costs. Both declined the new terms however and left the company. The three other departures happened later, and were perhaps not as expected by Serotek management. Other Serotek services, including the System Access Mobile Network, SA2Go, and the System Access Screen Reader remain in development. It also appears that former CEO Mike Calvo plans to take a more active role in the company which he founded over a decade ago. This is a developing story and we'll post more as we learn of it. The complete text of the message is below.

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Posted Sunday, 23-Nov-2014 4:13 PM ET in News     2 comments

What Does the Box Say? New Blog to Offer Comcast XFinity Accessibility Demos and Articles

by J.J. Meddaugh

Comcast is set to launch new accessibility features for their accessible set-top television box, and a new blog has been created to offer podcasts and articles to demonstrate the new features. Liam Erven has launched "What does the Box Say" which will include demonstrations of the new service rolling out for XFinity cable subscribers over the coming weeks. Comcast is the first cable provider to provide accessibility to such features as the program guide, on-demand programming, and DVR viewing on a set-top box, a trend that is likely to evolve due to the passage of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. Check the link on this post to view the blog.

Posted Sunday, 23-Nov-2014 12:50 AM ET in News     Post a comment

Serotek Loses 5, Future of Company in Doubt

by J.J. Meddaugh

Serotek, the makers of the System Access screen reader and the company behind the Serotalk Podcast Network, have parted ways with the majority of their staff, leaving the future of the company in doubt. Those losing their jobs include Buddy Brannan, Ricky Enger, Lisa Salinger, Joe Steinkamp, and Richard Wells. Steinkamp and Enger were let go last week while the other three announced their departures earlier on Friday. The staff members let go produced and participated in many popular podcasts including The SeroTalk Podcast, Triple-Click Home, That Android Show, and End of line among others. This leaves a bare-bones staff including long-time programmer Matt Campbell and producer Jamie Pauls who remain with the company, at least for the moment. According to a post on the @serotek twitter account, the 5 left on good terms and the company is alive and well. More information is promised from the company, according to founder Mike Calvo. We know a lot of you might like to post your memories, comments, or well wishes to those who have departed. Feel free to do this in the comments. Update: An earlier version of this post stated that the 5 were fired. We based this off earlier information we had received but are unable to 100% confirm, so have changed the wording to reflect this. We apologize for any confusion. We'll post more updates as we receive them.

Posted Friday, 21-Nov-2014 5:00 PM ET in News     6 comments

Senseg Brings Screens that you can Feel Closer to Reality with Developer Kit

by Bryan Smart

Senseg is one of several companies that have been working on bringing haptic feedback to touch screens. Haptic feedback makes it possible for you to feel a textured surface when you touch a screen, rather than a smooth surface. Some primitive systems have provided some feedback by triggering a device’s vibration capability when a finger is located at a specific place on the screen, but the Senseg technology uses variable electrostatic force on the surface of the screen to create the sensation of different textures. This article describes one person’s experience with using a demonstration of the technology earlier this year. This type of haptic feedback is not intense enough to produce refreshable Braille in a style that would be expected from a dedicated Braille display, but would certainly revolutionize the way that people that are blind access maps, charts, and other simple graphics that are not easily expressed with speech.

You cannot currently purchase any tablets or phones that offer Senseg’s technology, but the technology is far beyond the prototype stage. Starting now, software developers can purchase a developer kit, consisting of a specially modified Google Nexus 7 tablet and software, and begin experimenting with the creation of apps to make use of this new way of feeling a screen. Availability on commercial devices is expected with-in 1-2 years.

Posted Wednesday, 22-Oct-2014 5:46 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Some Notes About VoiceOver Fixes and Bugs in iOS 8

by Bryan Smart

With the release of iOS 8 comes a new version of the included VoiceOver screen reader. The new VoiceOver includes many fixes for several long-standing bugs, but, sadly, also includes many new bugs.

Quickly after the release of iOS 8, Apple released iOS 8.0.2. This version included fixes for several issues that were discovered after the initial release of iOS 8, but few VoiceOver bugs were included in the update.

For users of the oldest devices capable of running iOS 8, including the iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and iPad 3, frequent VoiceOver crashes have been reported. On these older devices, switching to the compact version of the VoiceOver voices eliminates most all of these crashes. However, if you have one of these older devices, and haven't yet upgraded, you will likely be better served by staying with the faster VoiceOver performance of iOS 7. Feature and bug lists courtesy AppleVis

Posted Saturday, 27-Sep-2014 11:21 AM ET in News     1 comment

KNFB Reader Brings Premium OCR to iOS Devices

by Bryan Smart

The highly anticipated KNFB Reader app for iOS converts printed text into high quality speech to provide accurate, fast, and efficient access to both single and multiple page documents with the tap of a button on iPhone 5, 5C, and 5S.

The app includes many features that make it possible for blind users to obtain better reading results than other low-cost reading apps. A Field of View Report function helps to insure that you have positioned the phone's camera so that the entire document is visible. Vibration cues from the phone help you to be certain that the phone is completely level before scanning a document. Analysis functions automatically correct for many situations where documents are scanned at angles, such as signs.

Scanned documents can be read aloud with synthetic speech, including voices from Acapella, or read on your Braille display. Individuals with print disabilities will benefit from the synchronized speech and text highlighting capabilities.

As of this writing, owners of the app are reporting great recognition results, though some iPhone 6 Plus and iPad users are reporting sluggish behavior. The developers say that the problems are related to iOS 8, and will be fixed soon. The iPad, like the iPhone 4S, will run the app, but is not officially supported, and recognition results are inferior.

For a demonstration of the app, including video of it being used, look here.

Another demonstration (audio only) is here.

Another audio demonstration is available in two parts: part 1 and part 2.

Posted Friday, 26-Sep-2014 10:46 PM ET in News     Post a comment

ScripTalk Talking Prescriptions Come to CVS Pharmacy

by Alena Roberts

CVS Pharmacy announced today that it will be providing accessible prescription labels for their visually impaired customers. This announcement is a result of an agreement between CVS, the American Council of the Blind, the American Foundation for the Blind, and the California Council of the Blind. Customers who are interested in using the ScripTalk labels should call 888-227-3403. The press release is pasted below.

CVS/pharmacy Now Offers “Talking” Prescription Labels for Individuals with Vision Impairments Through its Online Pharmacy

New service on is the result of a collaboration with state and national organizations for the blind

Woonsocket, Rhode Island (March 18, 2014) – CVS/pharmacy announced today that it now provides ScripTalk talking prescription labels for prescriptions ordered for home delivery through its online pharmacy, The ScripTalk labels provide a safe and convenient way to access information on prescription labels for individuals who cannot read standard print. The ScripTalk labels are free to pharmacy customers who are blind or visually impaired. Customers can also obtain a free ScripTalk reader from Envision America that will enable them to listen to the information on the ScripTalk label.

We are pleased to offer the ScripTalk service to our online pharmacy customers who are visually impaired. Enhancing access to important information about prescriptions is in keeping with our purpose of helping people on their path to better health.Josh Flum, Senior Vice President of Retail Pharmacy at CVS Caremark

Today’s announcement is the result of collaboration between CVS/pharmacy, the American Foundation for the Blind, American Council of the Blind and California Council of the Blind. These groups applauded CVS/pharmacy’s actions.

“The lack of accessible labels on prescription drug containers puts people with vision loss at serious risk of medication mishaps,” said Paul Schroeder, Vice President of Programs & Policy at the American Foundation for the Blind. “We applaud CVS/pharmacy for taking steps to provide speech access to label information for customers with vision loss along with its willingness to evaluate methods to improve large print labels.”

“This agreement is a positive step that allows for a greater level of privacy, safety, and independence for blind and visually impaired Americans of all ages who take prescription medications,” said Kim Charlson, president of the American Council of the Blind.

“The California Council of the Blind applauds CVS’s willingness to offer access to the information on prescription medication labels. As a result of this initiative, persons who are blind or visually impaired who use CVS mail order to fill their prescription needs will have the same direct, and independent access to label information as do sighted customers,” stated Donna Pomerantz, President, California Council of the Blind.

About CVS/pharmacy

CVS/pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Caremark Corporation (NYSE: CVS), is America’s leading retail pharmacy with more than 7,600 CVS/pharmacy and Longs Drug stores. CVS/pharmacy is reinventing pharmacy to help people on their path to better health by providing the most accessible and personalized expertise, both in its stores and online at General information about CVS/pharmacy and CVS Caremark is available at

About American Council of the Blind (ACB) and California Council of the Blind (CCB)

American Council of the Blind is a national consumer-based advocacy organization working on behalf of blind and visually impaired Americans throughout the country with members organized through seventy state and special interest affiliates. California Council of the Blind is the California affiliate of the ACB and is a statewide membership organization with 40 local chapters and statewide special interest associations. ACB and CCB are dedicated to improving the quality of life, equality of opportunity and independence of all people who have visual impairments. Their members and affiliated organizations have a long history of commitment to the advancement of policies and programs which will enhance independence for people who are blind and visually impaired. More information about ACB and CCB can be found by visiting and

About American Foundation for the Blind

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB’s priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. AFB is also proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the over forty years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB. For more information visit AFB online at



Michael DeAngelis
Director, Public Relations

For the Blindness Organizations

Kim Charlson
President, American Council of the Blind

Adrianna Montague-Devaud
Chief Communications and Marketing Officer
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
Tel. (212) 502-7615

Simplified Summary: CVS is now offering talking prescription labels to blind customers who order through People will be able to listen to important information about their prescriptions. CVS will use ScripTalk talking labels. If you are blind or visually impaired you can get a free device to read the labels. You can call the pharmacy at 1-888-607-4287. To find out more about the free device you need to listen to the labels, call: 800-890-1180. Back to the Press Release

Filed under Accessible Prescription Information, Health Care Access, News and Articles, Settlement Agreement Press Releases, Talking Pill Bottle Press Releases on Mar 18th, 2014

Posted Tuesday, 18-Mar-2014 5:45 PM ET in News     Post a comment

A New Tool Allows Anyone to Add Audio Description to YouTube Videos

by Alena Roberts

Many YouTube videos have captioning, but almost none have descriptive audio. Now thanks to a new tool from the Smith-Kettlewell Video Description Research and Development Center, anyone can add descriptive audio to a YouTube video. According to the article from Media Access Australia, here are the steps to add the descriptive audio track:

"1. Copy and paste a YouTube URL into the YouDescribe search box and click on Search .

  1. The YouTube video will appear with an option to 'Create/Edit Descriptions'. Select this option.
  2. Using the 'Play/Pause' option on the video player, pause when you wish to insert audio description.
  3. Use the 'Record' option to record your audio description then select Upload to upload the new audio file.
  4. Continue this process until the end of the video.
  5. When the process is complete you can log out or return to the YouDescribe search page where your video should appear at the top of the video list. The video can be played with audio description."

Hopefully this tool will result in many more youtube videos having descriptive audio tracks.

Posted Monday, 24-Feb-2014 4:54 PM ET in News     Post a comment

United States Visitor Center in Washington Now Offers Audio Tours

by Alena Roberts

The United States Visitors Center is one of the many destinations for tourists to visit when they come to Washington D.C. If you're planning a trip to the U.S. capital, and plan to stop at the Visitors Center, you can now get an audio tour. The tour can either be played on a special device that can be requested at the front desk, or you have the option of downloading the files onto your own personal device before you arrive. The audio files are more then three hours of content, and provide the visitor great detail of the exhibits at the center. The files are available to download in Mp3, Zip, and text. Having a text option means that the tour is even accessible to the deaf/blind.

Posted Saturday, 24-Aug-2013 2:02 PM ET in News     Post a comment

FCC Seeks Comments on Proposed Rule Changes to the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act

by Alena Roberts

There are already two rules in the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act that specify that on screen menus and access to accessibility options such as closed captioning and descriptive audio must become accessible to the blind. The FCC however, is seeking comment to find out if these rules need to be more specific. For instance, should these rules only be applied to cable and satellite providers, or should it be expanded to include devices such as a Roku box. In addition, the FCC is proposing that audio description and close captioning should be able to be turned on using a single button press or another similar method. We've linked to the long and confusing FCC rule proposal. Comments can be submitted until July 15.

Posted Tuesday, 18-Jun-2013 3:05 PM ET in News     Post a comment

Take the NV Access Survey for a Chance to win new Features

by Scott Davert

According to this survey, NV Access is going through a time of rebranding and looking for direction on further development of its screen reader, NVDA. Questions on the survey range from how you use NVDA to how you as a user would feel about any kind of name changes with the company or its screen reader. While taking the time to fill this survey out won't enter you in to gift cards or other monetary prizes, it's possible that your contributions could lead to all users of the screen reader winning, if your suggestions are implemented.

Posted Unknown in News     Post a comment

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