If you have used online dating in the past year, researchers at the University of Washington want to hear from you. The 20-minute survey is available for people with or without disabilities, and participants can enter to win a $5 Amazon gift card. The survey letter is below.
Earlier this month, Facebook rolled out it's new Automatic Alt Text description feature on iOS. Today, the Facebook Access team announced on Twitter that this feature is now also available on Android with Facebook version 74 and higher. Users may need to log out and back in again to start seeing posts with the automated alt text being generated, just like some users had to do when the feature was officially released for iOS. Have you been using this feature on iOS before now? Is it working on Android for you? Feel free to leave comments below with your experiences.
Accessible Apps has released a new update to it's Twitter application for Windows, Chicken Nugget. Version 4.0 includes support for Twitter images, the ability to scan text out of images from Tweets, a spell checker, the ability to choose which users to DM, and the ability to translate expanded tweets.
It was widely reported last week that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. The other part of this story however is one that many disability activists have been patiently waiting for. New designs for the $20, as wel as the $5 and $10 bills, will include accessibility features to aid blind and visually impaired users. The United States is one of the last major countries to use inaccessible paper currency, and was forced by a court decision several years ago to change this.
A new video posted to Facebook pairs a popular face with an engineer working on AI and accessibility. Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg spoke with Matt King, a Facebook engineer who happens to also be blind, about Matt's work on the company's AI initiatives including adding descriptive text to images. In the series, titled Live from Facebook HQ, Matt demonstrates the feature with an iOS device and the screen curtain turned on and shows how a blind person might use an iPhone. The 20 minute video has received over 100,000 reactions and tens of thousands of comments since being posted on Facebook.
The team behind Dictation Bridge is now raising money on Indiegogo to bring its voice recognition app to reality. Dictation Bridge will work with Windows Speech Recognition and various versions of Dragon to provide seemless voice recognition to users of the major screen readers including NVDA, Jaws, and Window-Eyes. The end result will be completely free and open-source, with premium technical support options available for a fee. You can go here to read more or to donate. To learn more, listen to our interview with Lucy Greco about Dictation Bridge on Blind Bargains Qast 55
One of the largest and most successful online auctions to benefit a blindness-related nonprofit is back for another year. The Seeing Eye's 8th Annual Auction features hundreds of items and is now open for bids. Items are available for just about any budget, from a $10 gift card to Cold Stone Creamery to a Vintage Gold and Diamond Horse Pendant with Chain valued at $750 currently with a $99 bid. Many assistive technology items are also available. A T Guys is proud to be one of the many companies and individuals who donated to this auction. The auction ends on May 6 at 10 PM EDT. You can go here to view the auction and place bids.
The free, and widely used, screen reader for Windows, NVDA has it's own conference. It has, in fact, had 3 others, but the upcoming agenda has more sessions and social opportunities than any of the NVDA conferences held prior to this one.
If you've been watching audio described programs in Australia from ABC, they'd like to hear what you think. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is seeking feedback for its audio description pilot project on their iview platform. Audio described programs have been available since April 2014, and the 15-month pilot project is scheduled to end soon. TO take the survey, follow the link on this post.
James Scholes, the creator of Codex, announced on Twitter the availability of a newly signed version of the Firefox extension called Webvisum. Webvisum has been a service which, among other things, allows for the solving of captchas on forms and in other places on the web. It works with Firefox for Windows only, and has been free ever since its first release.
Among the announcements at Apple's latest event, was the introduction of the iPhone SE. IT has most of the same features as the current flagship 6s and 6S Plus models, but was much smaller. After learning of this announcement, I became intrigued. As an iPhone 6S user since September of last year, one of the few complaints I had about the 6S was its size. While I could get used to the larger phone, and kind of did, it always felt a bit too big for my liking. While an increase in battery life with the 6S Plus models were something I wanted to have, and having more real estate to work with Braille Screen Input is a nice feature, I could buy a battery case for less than the cost of the difference in price. TO add to that, Braille Screen Input isn't something I make very heavy use of. These were the things I considered when weighing the 6S against the 6S Plus.
An app growing in popularity for those using public transportation is Moovit. In the latest update to both its iOS and Android apps, the developers announced that "In the latest version of the app, we ve made every screen accessible to blind riders with VoiceOver and TalkBack enabled on their iOS and Android devices". In our initial tests, it does indeed appear that the app is now very useable on both platforms. The only minor issue noticed was that the screen would refresh with new information, and it was then possible focus with VoiceOver would move slightly.
The first public beta for TalkBack 4.5, which Google previewed at CSUN, has been released. As previously announced, the beta includes revamped web support which allows for navigation by a variety of modes and also announces lists, headings, and other items. Some of these features, such as announcing lists, extend outside of the web support as well. A new keyboard layout is available which includes keyboard shortcuts for practically every available gesture as well as extended web navigation. As before, all keyboard shortcuts can be modified if desired. This new layout must be enabled under TalkBack's settings. The tutorial mode for new users has been completely revamped and also includes visual indicators of gestures for those who may benefit.
Freedom Scientific has released another small update to JAWS 17. In version 17.0.186, released today, Freedom Scientific added a feature in the JAWS Window called "Explore Utilities". This gives the user more readily available access to adjusting various settings. The utilities menu was only available by typing "utilities" in to the search box in the Windows Start Menu and selecting the appropriate option. This release also brings enhancements to Windows 10, touch keyboards, and improvements with Magic, braille, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, and web browsing. This update is free for JAWS 17 users which can be installed from within the JAWS Help menu. Follow the source link below to learn more specific information about each change.
Facebook has officially unveiled it's automated photo captions option. Using object recognition technology, Facebook is now automatically generating a description of photos on individual's timelines and also on gphotos posted to groups. While some users were able to utilize a test version on the iOS app prior to now, Matt King, a member of the Facebook Access team indicated that the previous images that people saw described were part of a study Facebook was conducting to see how useful the tool was. In an audiointerview with AppleVis, Mr. King said the feature is officially now available to all iOS users. The automated text descriptions are now only on iOS, but Mr. King says the intention is to role it out to Android users, then the web, and eventually all parts of the social network. He further cautioned users to give Facebook time to work out any issues they may have with the descriptions, as this is the first release of this feature.
Users should automatically see text descriptions popping up on their Facebook feed. Some users have reported that the text descriptions have not shown up in their timelines until they signed out of Facebook and back in. How well is this feature working for you? Feel free to leave comments about your experiences below.
Amidst all the hardware and software announced at CSUN, there was one announcement we missed, but are here to tell you about now. the Sendero Group announced version 2.1.1 of there GPS apps on iOS. One of the biggest highlights of this release is the introduction of a 30 day free trial of the app. Other enhancements in 2.1.1 include a faster loading time of the app, the "Magic Tap" now announcing the last spoken information, resolving re-subscription issues, many modifications to text for low vision users, updating of Google Maps, and support for the Boni s LoudSteps platform. This platform is one of many possible solutions for indoor route navigation. It is a free upgrade for those with existing subscriptions to the service in supported countries, and is available now in the iOS App Store. Follow the source link to read more specific details.
The FCC is about to propose updates to video description rules on television which would drastically expand the amount of described programming produced. Per this article from TVNewsCheck, the proposed new rules would increase the number of networks required to provide audio described content from 9 to 15, including the top 5 broadcast networks and the top 10 entertainment-based cable networks. For broadcast, this may mean audio described programming in Spanish, as Univision ranks fifth behind ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox currently. For cable, depending on when the rankings are determined, networks such as AMC, FX, and HGTV could be included. Networks such as CNN and ESPN which primarily produce live programming are excluded from these rankings.
In an email that has been circulated far and wide, Winston Chen, the developer of Voice Dream Reader, has discussed what will be coming in version 4 of the app on iOS. The new update, which has been submitted to Apple, contains support for 3D touch actions on the iPhone 6S and 6S plus, a new mode called Pac-Man reading mode, finger reading, and scanning. Scanning allows you to do a firm press on the fast forward button to double the speed of the reading voice. Releasing the 3D touch will return you to the speed you were at before performing the 3D touch. This is an iOS only update, there was no indication as to the state of development on the Android platform. The portion of the email describing the new features has been added below.
Twitter has taken a step to improve the accessibility of images posted on its platform. According to a blog post, users of Twitter's mobile clients can enable an option to add alt text to images when composing a tweet. The text, which can be up to 420 characters, will be displayed to assistive technology users in supported clients. Twitter has also made it possible for third-party clients to incorporate the feature. Before this change, all images were rendered as a t.co link without any alternative text. Check the blog post for more details on the new feature.
#CSUN16 Orbit Research Has Achieved a More Affordable Braille Display; APH Demos the Orbit Reader 20
The amount of announcements at CSUN related to braille technology was higher than usual this year. The common concern among people seems to be the cost associated with this technology. The Transforming Braille Group and Orbit Research officially unveiled the Orbit Reader 20 at CSUN last week. According to this blog post, by Orbit Research, The device "serves as a self-contained book reader, a note taker and as a braille display by connecting to a computer or smartphone via USB or Bluetooth." We stopped by the APH booth to take a look at the new device.
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