Assistive technology news and info.
HIMS Releases Patch for Braille Edge: Bringing enhancements for JAWS Users, Full UEB Support, and More
HIMS Inc. has announced a "maintenance" patch for the Braille Edge 40 that brings a few new added functions to the device. Some readers may be thinking this is old news, but it's not really. Though this patch was originally announced in September, it was pulled from the website shortly after due to some customers having the update fail.
The American Printing House for the Blind has posted an early version of the manual for the forthcoming Orbit Reader 20, the sub-$500 braille display which is due to be released shortly. In the manual, we learn more about the unit's operation and screen reader support. The Orbit Reader 20 will include two modes: a stand alone mode is designed for reading already translated files from an SD card to display on the unit. Basic text editing is also available in this mode. In remote mode, the unit can be paired with a screen reader using Bluetooth or USB. Support for all major screen readers is currently possible, either directly or through emulation of a RefreshaBraille 18. Details may change between now an the actual release of the unit. Check out the manual to learn more. Thanks to Josh Kennedy for the tip.
MIPsoft, makers of the BlindSquare GPS ap for iOS, has been working on GPS software for Android for the past 18 months, though details are scarce. This according to some recent tweets from the @BlindSquareGPS Twitter account.
Android is getting better and better. We have been building something for Android for last 18 months or so
…not BlindSquare, but something on same area. We don’t have any release dates set yet.
Android users can currently use Nearby Explorer as well as Google's built-in navigation apps and some other free alternatives, but it sounds like more options may be on the horizon. If you care to speculate, post your thoughts in the comments.
Jaws 18 public betas have been flying out the door in anticipation of the upcoming release of version 18. After the recent acquisition of AI Squared, Jaws 18 and ZoomText 11 are advertised as playing much nicer together, with Jaws handling most speech output and ZoomText handling magnification. Touch support gets a lot of love in this update, including the ability to start Jaws using a hotkey from a touch-enabled device. Google Docs improvements include the ability to enter text using contracted braille and a variety of tweaks to improve speech output. Users of prior versions of Jaws may be happy to learn that you can once again import settings from a previous version of Jaws, though this will only work from Jaws 17 currently. No release date has been given, though new versions of jaws typically are release around the end of October. A laundry list of additional features and bug fixes included in the two public betas is listed below.
Learning Ally, the U.S. based nonprofit that offers 80,000 books primarily aimed at students, has relaunched their suite of reading apps as Link, offering more flexibility when reading and searching for titles. It's available now for iOS, PC, Mac, and Chrome and coming soon to Android. Previously, users could not search for books directly from their device, an improvement present in the latest release. Here's a list of features in the new software from the iOS version.
KeySoft 2.0 for the BrailleNote Touch will Include KeyMath, Braille Embossing, Braille Terminal, More
More details have been released regarding the forthcoming version 2.0 of KeySoft which will be available soon for the BrailleNote Touch. Humanware's Greg Stilson described many of the improvements in a recent webinar.
Vision Australia and the CNIB in Canada have made the first exchange of books under the Marrakesh Treaty, which is now in effect in 20 countries. The treaty, which allows books and other materials to be shared in accessible formats across borders, took effect September 30 after Canada ratified it in June, pushing it across the 20 country threshhold necessary for adoption.
Humanware has announced that The BrailleNote Apex will not be retiring. Instead, will be available at a slightly reduced price from what it was before the BrailleNote Touch took its place. The BrailleNote Touch 32 is currently selling for $5495, while the Apex is selling for $4995. The 18-cell Touch sells for $3895, while it's older counterpart is selling for $3495. The BrailleNote Apex, a notetaker first introduced in 2009, saw it's most recent update in May of last year with Keysoft 9.5.
If you have a BrailleNote Classic, mPower, or wish to replace your older Apex for some reason, Humanware is offering you the chance to trade it in for an aditional $500 off the prices listed above. Check the Source link for further details.
Hims Inc, has released an upgrade to its firmware for the U2 line of notetakers. This update includes some bug fixes and also introduces 2 new features.
Humanware has released 2 new updates to its products. For Stream users, version 4.7, which adds support for the saving of NFB Newsline content and also adds the ability to subscribe to specific publications right from the device. Previous to now, it was not possible to subscribe to newspapers on the Stream directly, the user had to log in to NFB Newsline to manage what they would get on the Stream. But if you aren't in a place that supports Newsline, there is still a reason to upgrade. Version 4.7 allows you to synchronize the time you have set to an online server. This involves setting your Stream to the correct time in your time zone and then enabling this feature. The update is free, and you can update your Stream Second Generation by following the instructions in the source link.
If you plan to attend the 32nd CSUN conference, The Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge have announced the call for papers in the General Track, as well as for Pre-Conference Workshops. If you plan to attend sessions, one of these opportunities could be a good way to get your name out there and to also save some money. The source link is to the announcement, which also lists guidelines for submitting proposals to the committee. CSUN will be held at its now traditional spot at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego from February 27 through March 4.
If you plan to attend, but are hoping to do so on a budget, J.J. has provided a lot of tips on doing so. Though this guide was written for the 2016 conference, many of the tips and ideas will carry over to next year's conference.
We now have some more details on the forthcoming tactile graphics display being developed by the American Printing House for the Blind and Orbit Research. For one, the device, which was announced at the recent AER conference, now has a name: Graphiti (notice the spelling). One of the reasons for the word graph in the product name is announced support for the Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator, also produced by APH and Orbit Research. Users will be able to connect to the calculator and feel resulting graphs in real-time.
There are consumer braille embossers that cost under $5,000 and commercial models which can run you upwards of six figures, but not a lot of options in-between. Braillo Norway, a company known for its commercial-grade embossers, has announced an updated version of the Braillo 300 at a reduced price of $23,000. Announced at the World Blind Union and ICEVI General Assembly in Orlando, the embosser prints at 300 characters per second and comes with a free copy of the Duxbury braille translation software. That price may look scary, but to a braille production house, it could be a huge break. An earlier model of the Brailo 300 was being demonstrated at CSUN in 2013 at a price of $57,000. Preorders are being taken now, with shipping expected to begin in October. Check out the Braillo web page on the new embosser for more information.
An ultrasound is one of those magical moments of pregnancy, but to many blind people, it's just a flat picture. A company called IN UTERO 3D is providing accessible 3d-printed ultrasounds for virtually nothing. The free tactile models are available for blind and visually impaired couples around the world for the low cost of 1 Euro. Residents of Poland, where the company is based, will received the actual 3D printed model while those in other countries will receive a digital file which can be produced using a 3D printer. This news article provides more information.
As Windows 10 adds more hotkeys, especially with the new Anniversary Edition, other programs are trying to avoid keyboard conflicts. Many of the hotkeys for Twitter client Chicken Nugget have fallen into this trap and often didn’t work properly in Windows 10. The new Version 4.2 resolves this and makes the program much easier to use in Windows 10. It also now plays audion from video service Vine, fixes YouTube support, and includes several additional bug fixes. You can download version 4.2 from the source link below, and look at the complete changelog after the jump.
While we regularly see apps get ported over from iOS to Android, it's rare the opposite occurs. One such occurrence is APH's Nearby Explorer which is now live in the iOS App Store. Having a brief look at the Manual for iOS, and also a read through of the manual for Android, it appears that many of the same features appear in both versions.
Michael Doise, who has developed several apps for iOS including PocketBraille Reference, Visual Brailler, VO Starter, and blind Bargains, has now brought his skills to the Alexa platform. The Braille Challenge is an Alexa skill that asks the user questions to test their knowledge of braille. Most questions deal with the dot formations found in uncontracted braille, though there are also a few questions about braille itself. The skill, like all others on the Echo platform is free to play and can be activated by telling Alexa to enable The Braille Challenge. While a simple utility, it can be a great reference for those trying to learn braille who just want a bit of practice and who may learn better with this approach.
Despite Really Long Version Number, new TalkBack 22.214.171.124 includes Variety of Updates for Android Users
The latest release of TalkBack, version 126.96.36.199, has now been pushed out for Android users. Despite the long version number, this is actually a major update with new features for web users, text editing and multipage views, among othres. Those testing Android N, the forthcoming version of the operating system, also get some love in this release including features which support the new multi-window mode that will be availavle. It's a free update and available now from Google Play. The complete release notes, as posted to the Eyes-free mailing list, are below.
Humanware Roles out First Update for BrailleNote Touch Customers Offering Access to More Video Content, More
While some customers may still be waiting for their BrailleNote Touch to arrive, the ones who have it are now able to get a brand new update, with some major feature additions. Among the new functionality this update provides are access to the camera, louder internal volume/improved sound quality, updated video encoders and decoders for popular apps, and more.
The Cisco Academy For the Vision Impaired is currently accepting enrollments for its fall slate of courses. These online courses are specifically designed for blind and visually impaired individuals and include online instruction via voice chat, one-on-one instructor time, and many other support tools. Courses generally require at least 10 students to enroll, and several offerings are already scheduled to run this term including three audio-related courses and instruction on HTML and Powerpoint. Learn the ins and outs of multitrack audio editing with Reaper, or how to design a good-looking web page with HTML. Use Powerpoint to create visually attractive and functional presentations. Other courses, including network-related offerings and a course on Linux, will run if more students sign up. Fee are well below comparable offerings at a college or university, and scholarships are often available. Check the source link for more information. Deadline to register is August 15.
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