Assistive technology news and info.
LookTel Money Reader has been renamed, and at least for the moment, is a free app It is now known as NantMobile Money Reader.
Microsoft has announced on its blog that, with the Anniversary update to Windows 10, Edge is now its "most accessible browser ever". This includes support for "PDF files, Narrator support for address bar suggestions and instant answers, and a wide range of improvements to common daily browsing features such as tabs, windows, and favorites." It is also worth noting that Edge 14, which is the version of the browser that comes with the Anniversary update was the only browser to score at 100% in the HTML 5 accessibility test. This test goes through browsers and measures how well the features are accessible with various adaptive technology without having to resort to work arounds to utilize specific features. See the link above for further details. Have you tried the new Edge and the Anniversary update? Feel free to sound off in the comments section about your experiences.
After Closing the Free Upgrade to Windows 10 for Mainstream Users, Microsoft Delivers on Promise to AT Users
As promised, Microsoft is still allowing people who use any form of assistive technology to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. At this stage, no verification that you are indeed running assistive technology on your computer is required.
Humanware has officially announced that the KNFB Reader app will be included as part of the BrailleNote Touch when the next version of Keysoft is released. While there was an announcement at the NFB convention, it was officially announced on Monday. Humanware has indicated that this update will be free for BrailleNote Touch customers, and will be released in September. BrailleNote Touch users will get a notification on their Touch when it is available and they are connected to Wifi. See the source link for more information.
Baum has released version 1.33 of its English firmware for the VarioUltra 20 and 40 cell braille displays. This update includes several new features and some bug fixes.
Earlier today, RS Games announced on Twitter that there is now an iOS version of its service available. The app, was developed with Kid Friendly Software features many of the gestures and voice settings found in the conventional Blindfold series of games.
At the 2016 AER International Conference in Jacksonville, the American Printing House for the Blind showed off, among other braille products, their latest collaboration with Orbit Research, a new product called the Refreshable Tactile Graphics Display.
The American Foundation for the Blind has released a set of tutorial videos to assist the beginning computer user in setting up and using NVDA. Just like NVDA, these videos are free of charge. Topics include how to install NVDA, hot key commands, Windows basics, and use of the internet with the Firefox browser. The web page, listed as the source link, promises that more video tutorials are coming soon.
A big step forward for braille has been authorized by Congress. On July 13, legislation that was introduced by Senator Schumer of New York passed in the senate. This bill, s. 3207 authorizes NLS to begin to distribute braille technology to its patrons. While NLS has been previously able to offer Digital Talking Book Players for audio content it produces and offers through its BARD service, they have not had the authority to utilize funding to distribute the digital braille equivalent. As a braille user, for example, who did not have the money or funding to purchase a braille device, the digital braille files NLS also offers would then not be usable by these patrons.
it's not exactly clear what the next step will be to getting braille devices in to the hands of NLS patrons, nor is it exactly clear what hardware will be used. It may be worth noting that this Government Accountability Office report from April 2016 made mention of the drop in cost to braille technology, and also the fact that distributing said devices could net a huge savings to NLS. One such lower cost option is the Orbit reader 20 makes specific mention of supporting NLS downloaded content internally, that was formally introduced at CSUN the previous month. The Orbit Reader 20 is expected to be available for under $500 later this year. It may also be worth noting that when the Digital Talking Book Players were rolled out to patrons in 2009, [Veterans were the first to receive them.]( http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2009/09/18/blind-veterans-first-to-go-digital-with-new-%E2%80%98talking-book%E2%80%99-players/)
On Friday, HIMS released version 2.0 for the Blaze,it's newest line of DAISY and multi-media players. According to the release notes, this update improves the speed of text input, improves the speed when opening ePub files, allows for the text to speech to go faster and added several streaming formats to the Web Radio, among many other enhancements. There were also several new features introduced with the latest firmware of both the Blaze EZ and ET.
HIMS Releases Firmware Patch for Braille Sense Notetakers: announces it will be the last for some Older Models
HIMS has released a patch for the firmware in its Braille Sense line of notetakers. The new 8.5 patch adds a special Exam Mode for students taking standardized tests and gives the user the ability to connect to both a USB and Bluetooth device simultaneously in the Terminal For Screen reader. The patch also fixes email access with some email providers and enhances the Youtube app.
The bigger story for older Braille Sense owners is that this will be the last firmware update for owners of the Braille Sense PLUS, Braille Sense PLUS QWERTY and Braille Sense OnHand. The Braille Sense Plus was released in 2008, the QWERTY Plus in 2009, and the OnHand in 2011. If you wish to upgrade your Braille Sense using the online method, from the Main menu, press U for Utilities, and yoU again for upgrade firmware. As with all firmware updates, this one is also free.Check the source link for more details, including a link to the official release notes.
The developer behind Chicken Nugget, qRead, and qCast, has officially launched Captcha Be Gone, a way to bypass those pesky visual challenges which ask you to type the letters you see. For an interview with Christopher Toth, and to learn more about the project, you can listen to episode 51 of the BBQ.
Another app has launched which hopes to be able to provide sighted assistance to people who are blind. Bespecular, is an app which allows you to take a picture, and then record a question regarding that picture either through text or by recording a question via audio. The picture and question will then be submitted to sighted volunteers who can assist with your question. It's also possible to take multiple pictures of the same item and to get multiple answers regarding the same question. Sighted volunteers will then respond with an audio answer to the question, and you then have the opportunity to rate the assistance they provided. At this time, there appears to be no way to get answers delivered in textual format, though the company stated on its website that this app is now in a public preview format. A source link is to a podcast with a walk-through of the app for iOS. It states that the app will always have a free version, and that it will be entirely free to use until the end of 2016. Bespecular is a free download in the iOS App Store, and is also a free download on the Google Play store It does require the creation of an account before you are able to use it, but this process doesn't appear to have any issues. Have you used this app yet? Feel free to leave your experiences in the comments section.
If you are attending either the ACB or NFB conventions, the pricing [I wrote about earlier]http://www.blindbargains.com/bargains.php?m=15384) Freedom Scientific is offering deep discounts on many of their products. While this is still the case, it's also true of AI-Squared products. As we know, AI-Squared was acquired by the VFO Group earlier this year. As such, the discount is similar to the group's other software packages. For example, for a new copy of ZoomText Magnifier/Reader, attendees will pay $75. If you want Zoomtext Fusion, you will pay $100. Check the source link for further details and other discount options from AI-Squared.
Canada has ratified the Marrakesh Treaty, becoming the 20th country to do so. This follows the signing of the treaty by Ecuador and Guatemala earlier in the week. Canada's ratification was done Thursday, which also marks the 2 year anniversary of India passing the treaty, which was the first country to do so. The ratification of this treaty will bring many advantages to Canadian citizens with print disabilities.
As I reported earlier this month, the developers of the social media platform VORail were seeking funding for the development of an Android version of the app. Though at the time of this writing, only $1729 of the $10000 goal has been reached, it appears the developers have begun work on the Android version of the app. It is, like its iOS counterpart, free of charge, but is limited to only using the questions and answers tabs of the system. In a statement recorded on VORail announcing its availability on the Google Play Store, Tom Rosenthal said that it was a "placeholder" version only, and that they were looking for feedback from Android users as to what feature to begin building next. Check out the source link to download the Android version.
As part of a business deal earlier this year, HumanWare has officially announced the availability of the new Romeo 60 and Juliet 120. These product lines were brought out of retirement, [as J.J. reported in the spring, Enabling Technologies, now distributed of Humanware sent out a teaser email prior to CSUN hinting that the Juliet may return. It now has, along with the Romeo. According to the press release, the new embossers feature wireless printing over Wi-FI, the ability to produce tactile graphics, and a built-in translator. The Romeo 60, a single sided embosser, sells for $3495. The new Juliet 120, which can produce double sided embossed documents sells for $4495.
The developers of Vorail, a rather popular social networking type app which just uses your voice, are looking to bring this platform to Android by raising money through a Kickstarter Campaign. At present, the app is a free download in the iOS App Store. Using voice only (there is no text, video, pictures etc), the app seeks to generate discussion by allowing users to pose questions which other users can respond with answers if they feel like joining the discussion. The app does not require you to give your phone number or to create a password, as it is associated with your iCloud account. At the time of writing, the campaign has raised $1659 of it's goal of $10,000. There appears to be no indication from the developers as to whether the development of an Android app will take place if the financial goal is not met, though the Kickstarter campaign says it will not be funded if the $10,000 amount is not achieved by July 18. For more information, please see the Kickstarter Campaign which also lists several podcasts interviewing the developers and a podcast demonstrating how the app works.
A video was posted as part of Apples World Wide Developer Conference, which discusses a few new accessibility features in the soon to be released Apple operating systems. A summary of the video is provided below.
NV-Access has released NVDA 2016.2.1, which fixes a bugs in Microsoft Word. It also removes their grammar reporting feature in order to correct the issues. This was done in response to Windows XP users having Word crash on start up. Like NVDA itself, the screen reader is free, though donations are encouraged. If you are using the grammar feature successfully, as this is the only fix in 2016.2.1, it may be worth considering skipping this update.
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