We're excited to have Jenny Axler from HIMS International on the program this week. The Blaze ET is about to roll onto the launch pad. And we got some face time with Jenny to discuss that product in some detail. We also have news, Sound Off and the Last Word... but really... you came to hear about this new HIMS device right? Sure you did.
We'd like to thank this week's sponsor, BlindAlive for providing us the motivation and support needed to create this episode. No matter your level of health or fitness, there is an exercise program out there for you. To learn more about these fitness products, and subscribe to BlindAlive's podcasts, visit their website. And remember "Don't just live, be alive"!
In The News:
Interview: Jenny Axler Of HIMS International
HIMS has been very busy this year with announcements of the Smart Beetle braille display and the new edition to the Blaze line of products with the soon-to-be-released ET model. We caught up with Jenny Axler to talk about those devices and to also explore her journey on what it is like to move from the U.S. to South Korea. The Blaze ET differs from its older brother, the Blaze EZ, in that it sports a numeric keypad and a few extra buttons on the front of the device. The advanced ET is much more than a Booksense XT 2.0 though. In this interview Jenny outlines the feature set of the ET and gives us some background on a few new enhancements to the OCR and the new color identification mode.
For those in the U.S., who may have questions not covered in our interview, you can email them to email@example.com to learn more about the products discussed.
And for those listening outside the U.S., you can contact HIMS International by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org learn more about product pricing and availability.
To join the discussion about HIMS's Daisy Players, subscribed to their list at email@example.com
And if you're looking to purchase a Blaze EZ or soon an ET or Smart Beetle, check out the Hims page at A T Guys
First, two opposing viewpoints on our Apple watch article concerning deaf-blind users:
Great catch! I didn't see this. I knew there was no haptic feedback to give deaf-blind users access to the time, but then again, there is also no braille support with the watch at all. The only way to use the watch is through the iOS app, which pretty much defeats the purpose of the Watch for braille users, and most likely, those who are deaf with low vision also. Even with magnification, a 3 inch screen can only do so much to address the needs of low vision users. As I've said in other forums and on email lists, the Apple Watch doesn't really appeal to me as someone who almost exclusively uses braille on my iDevices. Though the health aspect of tracking would be nice, I can get many of those features from something like a fitbit or other tracking device for a much lower cost. The one thing the Apple Watch had going for it, for those of us who almost only use braille, is the potential for haptic feedback. Now with that being limited, my interest in the device has also become more limited. As far as whether Apple will permit some sort of access to a developer, I doubt it. iTunes has been around forever, and it's the only way to get content on your device that can be accessed in the native applications. True, you can export books from Dropbox to iBooks, but for the most part, the system is pretty locked down. This is where Apple has a major draw-back and where Android shines.
And from Darknexus:
Given how haphazard Apple have been enforcing their own guidelines and the number of exceptions they seem willing to make, I doubt the deaf-blind have anything to worry about. See the recent case regarding apps mentioning the Pebble for example. I suspect, if an app like this were to be rejected and the author explains this particular use case, they'd go back on that decision right quick. Apple in particular are very responsive to anything that might give them a little bad PR, and excluding apps like this would certainly do that once the deaf-blind use case is brought to their attension.
On the KNFB update
Being an Android user, I eagerly await KNFB Reader's release on the Android platform as well...
And from Twitter,
@kev5688: Hey, do you guys know whether eloquence will work under android 5.0 and/or the new Galaxy S6?
Well Kev, it certainly should.
Linda sends in our first email asking about DVDs.
With my VCR/DVD player, it is all I can do just to get to the actual movie to listen to it, let alone get to an Audio Description Menu. Do you have recommendations for a special DVD player that truly works and is accessible, especially with menus?
I had to write 15-step instructions just to access DVD'S on my Windows XP computer which I took offline to preserve its accessibility. I haven't gotten my Windows 7 computer to access DVD'S at all regarding menus. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Sadly we don't have much to offer in the realm of disc-based media solutions. You could capture just the audio tracks from your personally owned DVDs and the like, however, that would not be a good solution for group or family viewing with those who tend to like to watch the pictures on the TV. Also, while the number of titles with audio description in the U.S. is growing, it looks like online media may end up being the best delivery system for obtaining audio described content in the future. Ultra HD BluRay discs, yep that is the new format for watching video in 4k resolution, is in the initial stages of release. Generally the video disc based formats have been backwards compatible when it comes to playing the video format prior to the new hotness in home video playback. I.E. BluRay players will play DVDs. Therefore, recommending a standalone player of any kind might not be helpful to you as the electronics stores will be moving old players out of the channel to make way for the new 4k discs to play on the new 4k TVs they will want to sell this holiday season. Your best bet may be to look at using a computer for watching your disc-based media. There are a few programs that are screen reader friendly for video playback and most newer laptops/desktops have HDMI outputs for modern televisions.
Our next email is from Lewis.
I'm glad you guys brought up blind celebrities in podcast 14. I have
several questions I would like to add to the discussion.
Do blind celebrities have a duty to represent the blindness community
and portray us in a positive light to break down social stigma? It
drives me crazy when people say things like< "You must want to be
Stevie Wonder," or "You should do what Stevie Wonder does and have
people help you around."
Speaking of Stevie Wonder, are the expectations for a celebrity who is
blind from birth or went blind at a young age different from the
expectations for a celebrity who is going blind as an adult?
And last question, how do you guys feel about people trying to compare
the experiences of blind/disabled people to the experiences of other
minorities/races? Does this demean our struggles in some way, and are
people trying too hard to establish commonality rather than actually
understanding the facts?
We delve pretty deeply into this email on the show. But the short answer to much of what Lewis is asking is "No, not really". Beauty is in the eye, or ear, of the beholder. Your location, upbringing and exposure to disabilities can have a profound influence on how you react or interact with others. If someone's experience of who blind people are is based solely off of Stevie Wonder concerts, then they may think that we all can play music or like the idea of music as a profession. Moreover, we don't believe that someone has to identify themselves as a "blind musician", instead of just being a musician, if they don't feel comfortable saying so.
A few follow-ups, amongst one or two other articles, fill out the last portion of our show this week.
INTERVIEW: Joe Strechay, Blindness Consultant on Daredevil
From @lighthouse_sf a pretty good list of blind characters in film, TV, comics etc. courtesy @BrailleWorks
The Man Who Tastes Sounds
Self-driving cars will need people, too
Doctors make a 3D printed ultrasound for a blind expectant mother.
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This show is as good as always and I enjoyed it. The blaze ET sounds interesting, but I am having a hard time convincing myself into buying it when it comes out. If some has an IPhone, what is there in this device for them. On the IPhone, there is the voice dream reading app along with the bard app and the learning ally app. Of course, there is the KNFB scanning app. Other than the ease of use that this device is promising with the file browser, is there something else I am missing? It looks like it is being aimed somewhere between the EZ and the IPhone. I am not trying to say this device is useless, because it is not. Another thing that may be asked by some is why this device over the victor stream or the book port. To me, the built in camera with the OCR gives it an edge over the other devices that might come close, but is it Werth the extra price? I guess the thing that brings up all the questions is the fact that I am having a hard time finding a place in my life for this device even though I would like to own one. In some ways, I can see a point in having a device to read books on that is separate from the IPhone. I currently using a different phone then the IPhone, but I do have my share of IOS devices and I guess I am trying to figure out what slot this device fills for me that an app on the IOS devices does not fill.
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Joe Steinkamp is no stranger to the world of technology, having been a user of video magnification and blindness related electronic devices since 1979. Joe has worked in radio, retail management and Vocational Rehabilitation for blind and low vision individuals in Texas. He has been writing about the A.T. Industry for10 years and podcasting about it for nearly 5 years.