Reading and food might just be two of the things we excel at the most here on BBQ. Reading about food is also a fun thing we do from time to time. This week we'll feature segments on reading, food and some painful audio in the "Last Word". We'll speak with Alex Tavares and Cory Kadlik about the Read Read, a device which can help blind students learn braille. We take a visit back to the Blind Bargains test kitchen for another appliance. But rest assured that there are no cats mentioned in this episode. Okay, one cat does make an appearance. We're just not saying where.
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In The News:
Studies indicate an undeniable link between employment of blind people and braille literacy, but sadly many kids are just not exposed to braille and forced to learn through audio or other means. The Read Read is a device which aims to make braille learning more affordable and fun for children and adults. To learn more, we speak with Alex Tavares, inventor of the Read Read and Cory Kadlik, assistive technology specialist at the Perkins library.
You can support the project by donating on their Kickstarter page which offers a variety of rewards for backers. The goal is high but the rewards even higher, helping the next generation of blind children learn a vital tool and a way to communicate.
Demonstration: Philips Airfryer
Ricky returns to the Blind Bargains Test Kitchens to show us the Philips Airfryer. This device is perfect for those who are wanting to have that deep-fried food experience without all that messy oil found with traditional fryers. They are also easier to clean than those Fry Daddies too! Listen as Ricky describes the unit and what has worked for her so far in hot air cooking.
Tip: Office 2016 Hotkey Reminders
J.J. notes that Office 2007 will see end of life support, I.E. no more security patches, later this year. He reminds us that Control O and F12 are great hotkey commands that let you bypass ribbon navigation for essential tasks.
This week we turn to the comments sections on this very website for our look at Reader and Listener feedback. Up first, more praise for Dave's appearances.
Sky Mundell posted:
"This is a very good podcast indeed. Listening to Dave Williams talk about Window-Eyes is very inspireing to me, and I agree with a lot of his words about the staff, and so on and so forth. GW Micro was very friendly and very approachable. When I listened to his speech, I think about how much my school could have benifited a lot from GW Micro if they weren't always focusing on JAWS."
Louis D also posted a question about J.J.'s travel tip.
"J.J, great tip this episode! Have you guys used other payment services such as Venmo or Square Cash?"
J.J. notes in his response that he has used Venmo, now owned by PayPal, but he has not setup Square Cash as of this recording. Facebook, Google and Apple all have payment options as well. It really comes down to the types of things you buy online, and what companies support what, when starting to research electronic payment access. we do not suggest you sign up for several payment services at once as that can be a security risk having your information out there on so many services at once.
Next, we had several comments on our news article on the GW Micro story.
cw wrote in....
"In one sense this is sad news indeed, but on the other hand it was expected that something like this would happen. After all, one company like BFO cannot be expected to sell two software packages that does roughly the same thing. In a way, I liked some of the features that Window-Eyes had in it. For example, take a look at the scripting language of Window-Eyes. You could use some of what you knew already of other computer languages and the like into account when scripting Window-Eyes. I doubt that the scripting of Window-Eyes will not be carried over. I am used to JAWS myself, but those who are transferring over maybe not be used to it. I do wonder how hard it would be for those people to transfer over. The next to go maybe magic or zoom text. I will let others decide which one of those make it out on top. Then again, zoom text maybe?"
Sky Mundell said...
"As a 10 year Window-Eyes user, I am very heartbroken over this news. Window-Eyes, allowed me to do many things. It allowed me to go to university, and I even got certified in it and taught a few clients how to use it. I must say that, in Scotland, Window-Eyes was promoted in a college called Motherwell college by a guy called Robert Donald. Robert was a very strong advocate of Window-Eyes. He detested how JAWS was promoted in the education system and i'm going to repeat his words that he said to his students. His words goes like this: Its widely known by Window-Eyes users that it isn't a choice in education and employment. Below, is his bio that I got from one of his students. Robert Donald Biography. There are blind and Visually Impaired people, who take on huge challenges, who either give up or admit defeat. Robert did neither. He was born in a small town in the West of Scotland called Coatbridge. At the time it was a heavily industrialised area with Coal mines, Steel works and their associated businesses. Robert followed in the footsteps of his father and went from school to become an apprentice in an Engineering company. In his early Twenties he was diagnosed with Diabetes type 1. A very debilitating medical condition for anyone to deal with. Robert was by that time married with two children. As his condition deteriorated his sight began to fail. Society at that time had very little to offer blind people with the means of employment. Employment was itself diminishing in the area, as Heavy industrial companies closed and moved out of the district. Robert decided to learn Braille by himself. At that time there were no screen reading programs and the only talking computer was a bib model. He then applied to Glasgow University for a Mathematics Degree course, which he subsequently passed with honours. Once again jobs for blind people in this field were impossible to secure. He then returned to College to further his academic qualifications. The route he took was through Motherwell College. In 1995 a Company called GWMicro produced a screen reader for blind people. There were other screen readers on the market but Robert found this program to his liking. He learned all he could about Window-eyes and was aware at the time that this new world of computing and the internet was about to change the lives of the entire world. For the first time he felt blind people could participate in this new technology and change their lives forever. When his studying was completed he approached Motherwell College board of trustees with an ambitious plan for blind people. He advocated that a classroom be set up Where Visually Impaired and blind people could be trained on a special program called Window-eyes. This program assisted him immensely with his studies at Motherwell College. He never gave up his dream and continually persuaded Lecturer s and Management in the College that this would ensure Visually impaired and blind people, could progress from Motherwell College to Higher Education and then into the workplace. After several years of dedicating his time to prove his dream was a worthwhile project. His dream did come true. In 1992, a classroom was dedicated to exactly what Robert Donald had dreamed of. A place where ordinary blind and Visually Impaired people could learn about the world of computing, the world of Microsoft Office and an opportunity to put their skills to move upwards into Higher Education. Their World was their Oyster. With this self-arming knowledge, what was a normal life, having to depend on people to read them Daily Newspaper s, Books and Letter s was now in their own hands. With this revolutionary technology, they could do all these things and more. They were not alone in the world. Every aspect of the World Wide Web was at their fingertips with this new innovative screen reading program called Window-eyes. Robert taught hundreds of Student s in the West of Scotland all about Window-eyes, the Internet, and Microsoft Office and about the power of Window-eyes itself. His dedication and strength of commitment was second to none. He continually ensured that his student s had the latest computer s, the latest operating system and of course the latest Window-eyes program. At no time did he ever stop fighting for his student s right to education and the right to be taught how to use the technology that would give them that knowledge... In 2008 Robert s health deteriorated and he was forced to give up his job teaching at Motherwell College. Sadly a few years later he died from serious health complications of Diabetes. When the New Motherwell College was built, There was no classroom set aside for blind people to learn Window-eyes or any other screen reading program. Robert Donald dedicated every ounce of energy he had to his project of teaching blind and visually impaired people Window-eyes. Many of whom went on to University and gained academic qualifications. This was thanks to Robert Donald alone. Without people like Robert and Academic agencies willing to take a bold step forward and teach blind people these skills. There will be very little advancement for blind people in today s society and to read back every single word they have written. That is a bio of a guy who managed to get Window-Eyes in a college and to teach it to hundreds of students there. Before bashing it, I would strongly erge everyone who reads this comment to think about this guys leggecy and what he did for the blind in Scotland in promoting Window-Eyes, the competitor to JAWS, in a college."
Josh provided these thoughts on the matter...
"I wrote to freedom Scientific or VFO a few times telling them practically how to lower the price of Jaws. I will re-state here, what I sent to them. If VFO wants to greatly lower the price of Jaws for users who are on very low incomes and in third world countries now that they have more developers they should put some of those developers to work on improving espeak and its multilingual ability along with improvement of its klatt based voices. In edition, make a version of jaws in which all of the nuance products are removed or ripped out. Replace nuance OmniPage with google OCR or tesseract for OCR. Replace eloquence with espeak or better yet, VFO's own forked version of espeak with improved klatt-voices and improved multilingual abilities. For natural voices, include the free speechHub.org voices along with microsoft speech platform voices. Disable network install over a lan, home users most of them don't need that. make this jaws a download-only or $20 or $30 for dvd version with some basic training on the dvd. Free jaws would have no tech support unless you pay extra for it, no nuance goodies unless you pay extra for those. This free or low-cost jaws would have no sma agreement so unlimited upgrades.
Lastly, Marcie Brink-Chaney noted the following...
"I just remember a few things that made Gw Micro and Window Eyes unique. In the 1990's I could use WE to access a map of Michigan to get to my area's unemployment office and this was not accessible using another screen reader (not JAWS). When trying to use bullets and charts, WE gave descriptions of what the charts and bullets looked like in order for a blind user to choose the one needed. The company had a payment plan for users who could not afford an outlay of around 700 dollars. Also, when Microsoft was creating VISTA, it invited screen reader producers to come to help them make VISTA more accessible. GW Micro was the only company who came. Only once did I have trouble getting an answer from GW Micro's tech support and most of the time, it was excellent. With major companies trying and/or succeeding to build in accessibility into their products, I wonder how long third party companies will last if Microsoft Google, Amazon and others succeed as well as Apple has."
Apple will open a WWDC Spotlight search window for us on our next episode. Until then, speaking about Apple, hop on over to iAccessibility to hear what our good friend Michael Doise had to say about Google i/o.
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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 for 15 years and podcasting about it for almost a decade.