This page includes computer programs for the blind such as Jaws, Window-Eyes, ZoomText, Kurzweil 1000, OpenBook, Mobile Speak, Talks, and many others as well as mainstream accessible programs like Sound Forge, Nero, and Omnipage.
Last month we told you about a Kickstarter campaign for a new interactive game called Codename Cygnus. The campaign was a success, and last Friday the game was released on the app store. Over the weekend I had an opportunity to test out the game.
If you are a Learning Ally member and use an Android device, you can now read books from their collection using the Learning Ally Audio App. The app has the same functionality as the iOS app. You can read any book in their collection, download directly onto your device from your bookshelf, navigate by page or chapter, and add bookmarks. In order to use the app you will need to have Android 4.1 or later. Like the iOS version, no search capability is included, so you need to log into the Learning Ally website to add books to your bookshelf. It's available now and is free from Google Play.
Sendero Announces New Version of Seeing Eye GPS Has been Submitted To the App Store with Minor Improvements
Sendero has just announced that they have submitted Seeing Eye GPs 1.1 for the iPhone to the app store. There are a number of changes in this version and the company has decided to reward early adopters of the app by resetting their subscription date to August 20. This means that everyone has been using the app for free since it launched. Below is a copy of the release that discusses the changes and new features.
AI Squared has just released the newest version of ZoomText for Windows8 . Free trials are available for this release, which is only currently available on Windows 8. A Windows 7 version is planned. In addition to the Windows 8 support, support for Internet Explorer 10, Microsoft Office 13, and touch screen devices is included. They have also posted some videos to introduce the new features in version 10.1. We've included the list of new features from their website after the jump.
Support for braille displays on Android is improving with the latest update to BrailleBack. According to the Google Play website, these are the braille displays that are now supported: APH Refreshabraille,
Baum VarioConnect, Esys EuroBraille, Freedom Scientific Focus Blue (14 and 40 cell models), HandyTech (Basic Braille, Active Braille, Braille Star, Braille Wave, Braillino, Easy Braille), Harpo Braillepen 12, HIMS (BrailleSense, Braille EDGE), Humanware Brailliant (1st generation and BI models), Optelec Alva (BC640, BC68, Papenmeier Braillex Trio, and the Seika (notetaker and 40 cell. Several new commands were also added in this release, including a command to search for text on the current screen which works with displays with a braille keyboard. It's available now on Google Play and works with Android 4.1 and later.
Technology has greatly increased the ability for the blind to find employment. Unfortunately, there is still a barrier if the software that companies use is not accessible to their blind employees. The non-profit, My Blind Spot is one of the organizations that tries to eliminate this barrier by providing scripting services so that screen readers can work with software that is unique to a specific company. Their latest project is to make the well known accounting software QuickBooks accessible. They hope that making this widely used software package accessible will open the doors to more jobs for the blind. We've reached out to the developers and will post more info as we receive it.
An organization in Australia has developed a new set of games called Ballyland that help teach children with special needs about the keyboard. Unlike many typing programs, no literacy skills are required. The five games isolate individual keys so that children can learn at a slower pace. According to the Sonokids website, these are the features of Ballyland: "Self-voicing, Spoken feedback, Zoom, Easy recognisable sounds and images, Adjustable colour contrast, and Adjustable response time."
The program is available for PC and will be released for the Mac soon. there is a free trial option or the games can be purchased for download. All prices posted are in Australian dollars.
Google glass may not be available for people to buy, but many developers are already working with the new technology. The company Dapper Vision is designing multiple apps for google glass, including two that are relevant to the blind. According to Engadget, the company is already testing out the apps with visually impaired users. One of the apps would allow the user to take pictures and ask either the crowd-powered Mechanical Turk or twitter what the object is. the other, called Memento, would automatically recite notes to the user about a recognizable scene. For example, the app could warn users about dangerous equipment that they might be approaching.
If you're a fan of old time radio then you might be interested in this campaign on Kickstarter. Codename Cygnus will be interactive and use voice recognition during game play. According to the campaign website, this is what the game play will look like: "We're keeping our UI super simple. The experience is entirely sound and story: Writing + Voiceover + SFX + Music. With either a spoken word or a simple tap on the screen you can listen to the drama unfold in a progression similar to the multiple choice dialogue moments that you find in adventure or RPG games. You get to make decisions about what to do and what kind of agent to be in a world of espionage. Your iPhone/iPad recognizes your speech (or accepts the tap of a button) to trigger and play the next sound file so that the characters react to you as the events and story continue." Since the developers wanted high quality sound, they hired professional voice actors and built their own sound booth to save money. The first episode of the game has already been completed, and if they get funded, they'll start working on the second. At this time, the campaign is just over half way to it's goal and there are 11 days to go.
Watching TV that has audio description can be difficult to find and difficult to set up.
In case you haven't heard, Blindy.tv is designed to allow the blind to enjoy described television on their computers. The website offers five different channels to choose from and the content covers a variety of genres.
A software developer decided that they wanted to make the Blindy.tv experience even better. They have designed an app that you download onto your PC that allows you to watch Blindy.tv without using the website. According to the application's page, these are the features of the app: "On the main form, you will have comedy, drama, scifi, brain, and etc. You can tab to the station you want to listen to and press enter or the space bar on the play button to start playing. There is a stop button, adjust volume, and exit button."
We announced earlier this month that KeySoft 9.3 was coming soon, and today Humanware says that it's available to be downloaded for free. Here's a link to our original post to remind you what new features are included in the upgrade.
Many small business owners are choosing to use square instead of a traditional credit card machine because the fees are lower and the square reader can be used with an iOS or Android device. The NFB of Massachusetts has decided to partner with Square to make their apps fully accessible to the blind community so that blind business owners can use Square with ease. Pasted below is the press release.
In this short video, Marco Zehe demonstrates how Mozilla is working towards making their mobile OS accessible. In the demonstration, we are shown that the device does have speech and that the basic gestures are the same as Android 4.1 and IOS. The company hopes to role out these features in the months to come.
A new podcast is available which describes Serotek's new Socializer system, a platform for communicating with friends and family on a wide variety of messaging platforms.
According to their website: "The socializer allows you to communicate with family members, friends, fellow-students, coworkers, and other SAMNet users. You can send and receive instant messages through Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, (also referred to as AIM), Facebook, Yahoo Messenger, GoogleTalk, and Jabber. In addition, you can send and receive both text and voice messages through Skype, as well as with any other user of the system Access Mobile Network; subject to their approval, of course. You can read and respond to messages in the Serotek Users Forum.. Socializer also provides access to Facebook and Twitter.
Sendero is very interested in hearing from it's customers. They have set up a page where you can vote on what features you want to see in upcoming versions of their new Seeing Eye GpS app. The features that you can vote on include:
Ability to add your own public and private POIs
Announcing of Sendero's existing User POI database
Increasing the number of items in the route history list
Ability to add a route from your contact's list
Ability to run the app in the background
Announce intersections at more then 15 MPH
Vibrate alerts on upcoming turns and arrived at destination
You may vote for two of these 8 features. You can also submit one feature that is not on the list that you would also like to see.
Byron Lee, who works for Horizons for the Blind, describes a new Directions for Me app that should be coming to the android platform soon on this week's Serotalk podcast. He starts by describing the main screen which includes the buttons: scan, search, browse, and info. The scan button will allow you to scan bar codes with your phone's camera. Since it can be difficult to find the bar code, the scan mode is continuous allowing you to rotate the product until the camera finds the bar code. Once the bar code is found, you get the product name, description of the product, directions for how to use the product, ingrediants, wanrings and manufacture information. You can also search for a specific product or browse using the directions for me website.
Sendero announced today that the Seeing Eye GPS app has been submitted to the app store and is now available. The app can be downloaded for free, but you must have a subscription in order to use it. A one year subscription will cost you $69.95 and for three years the cost is $129.95.
According to the description of the app, some of the features that make this app particularly useful for blind users include:
Route, POI's, and Location are available at any time
At intersections the cross street and it's orientation are announced
Intersections are described such as four way or two way
Routes are available for both vehicle and pedestrian mode
To hear what is around you, point your phone in a direction and the LookAround Wand tells you nearby POI's
POI's and intersections are automatically announced as you get close to them.
GW Micro announced today a new app for the PC called SocialEyes. If you wish that you could interact with facebook better but you find the website too difficult and inaccessible, then SocialEyes is for you. According to the press release: "
SocialEyes offers Facebook users the ability to access their newsfeed, read comments, create comments, like posts, search for events, pages, friends, groups, and more. Users can also read notifications, messages, chat with their friends, write on timelines, manage friend requests, and access event information."
The app will be compatible with most PC screen readers and magnification software. For a limited time, a one year subscription can be purchased for $25. You can preorder SocialEyes today by calling 260) 489-3671. Once the promotional period is up, the yearly subscription will go up to $50.
To see SocialEyes in action, visit <a target="_blank" href== "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULm6DW4zAmw&feature=youtu.be"> GW Micro's You Tube Page .
If you haven't tried out Blind Square yet and you're going to either the NFB or ACB national conventions, then now is your chance. The makers of BlindSquare have come out with BS Event. This app will allow you to use the app in demo mode if you are attending events that are important to the blind. Some of the features include: learning about interesting places around you, access to phone numbers and addresses, ability to search for specific places, ability to input a destination into your favorite turn by turn app, and ability to checkin at your location using foursquare. This app is only intended for those who do not own the full BlindSquare app. If you're not attending a convention, a virtual mode is also available. The full BlindSquare App is available for $19.99.
There are a number of braille typing apps already available for IOS devices. Some may wonder then do we need another one. For me, MBraille is my favorite so far. Some of the benefits include: contracted braille, ability to type with the device on a table or facing away from you, free access to twitter and the clipboard, and a tutorial mode.
The app is very similar to Fleksy because it uses gestures to add spaces, new lines, and deleting of text. The help section of the app reviews all of the gestures and the other features that the app has available. One feature that speeds up the posting process are commands. For example, to tweet, write your message followed by a new line. Then write .twitter and the message will be sent.
The free version only gives you access to sending tweets and adding text to the clipboard. If you want the full list of features including email, Facebook, text messaging, and editing capability, the app will cost $30. The benefit of course is that you get to try out the app before spending any money.
It is important to note that the voice that you use for voiceover will determine your braille table. If you are using the Australian voice for example, you can only write contractions that exist in UEB.
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