This month Comcast has announced three new initiatives to support their customers with disabilities. the first is a dedicated support team that people can call directly when they are having difficulty accessing Comcast content. The team can be contacted by calling 855-270-0379 seven days a week from 9 AM to 10 PM EST. Along with a dedicated support line, they are also offering a set of movies and TV shows through their On Demand service that highlight people with disabilities being successful. Finally, their accessibility lab is working on designing new ways for customers to access their content including the Talking Program Guide .
If you're like me and you don't carry cash, there is a new solution for those times when you owe someone money. Smart, a company that is helping small businesses reduce the fees that are paid to credit card companies has just introduce a new service called Smart Cash. The service is totally free to use, and it can be done from any device with an internet connection and access to email. The process of sending someone money is very simple. You send the person an email by putting their address in the To: field, firstname.lastname@example.org in the CC: field, and the amount you want to send in the subject line. Smart will then verify that the bank account that is linked to your email address has the funds, and they will then be sent to the person you've emailed. The recipient will have access to the money in one to two business days.
Since there's an iOS app, I decided to download it to test the accessibility. I'm happy to report that the app works great with VoiceOver, and sending someone money was really easy. The best part is that the person gets all of the money you're sending unlike when you use Paypal.
If you are blind or have low vision, getting access to a fully accessible computer can be a financial burden. Apple offers computers that are accessible out of the box, but you will have to pay a premium price. And even though there is now a very good free screen reader for Windows, sometimes the cost of the computer itself is still too much. This is where Computers For The Blind steps in. For the last 24 years, the organization has been giving computers to people who need accessible software in order to use a computer successfully.
The Federal Communications Commission is currently seeking feedback about people's experience with described television programming. Since the FCC commenting process is not easy to access, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is offering to help submit comments. All you have to do is write an email describing your opinions about described tv to email@example.com
Along with describing how you feel about described programming, also include your experience with accessing the programming whether it be positive or not, if you've found the description to be helpful or not, and any other details that will help make described television a more positive experience for everyone.
The email must include your full name and physical street address for the comments to be accepted by the FCC. Send emails to AFB no later then September 30.
Web developers who are interested in learning how to make their websites accessible can now participate in a free online course offered by google. The course starts today and runs through the end of September. Participants will be able to complete the course at their own pace. Topics that will be covered include: the fundamentals of using Aria within html 5 and tips and tricks hon how to build accessibility into your site without breaking code. Participants will also have the opportunity to test out their website using the Chromevox screen reader that is compatible with Google Chrome. Those who register should have a basic understanding of html, java script, and CSS.
In an effort to boost sales of iPhones at it's retail stores, Apple has just rolled out it's new trade-in program. Starting today, if you visit an Apple store and you want to upgrade to a newer iPhone, you will have the option of trading in your old device for in-store credit. To use the trade-in program you will have to agree to sign a new two year contract with the cell phone carrier of your choice. According to the chart on the CNBC website, a 16 gig iPhone 5 could get you as much as $336 and an iPhone 4S as much as $221. The article also lists all of the other trade-in options and how much each company is willing to give you.
If you weren't able to attend this year's Visions Conference hosted by the Foundation Fighting Blindness, you can now download the audio from many of the sessions. The Visions Conference is unique in that it is the only conference where you can learn about different diseases of the eye as well as learn about the research that is being done to treat diseases of the eye. All of the audio sessions can be downloaded for free. This year's conference featured sessions on topics such as gene therapy, the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis, overcoming the emotional barriers of blindness, participating in a clinical trial, information sessions on diseases such as Ushers and RP, and stem cells 101.
The United States Visitors Center is one of the many destinations for tourists to visit when they come to Washington D.C. If you're planning a trip to the U.S. capital, and plan to stop at the Visitors Center, you can now get an audio tour. The tour can either be played on a special device that can be requested at the front desk, or you have the option of downloading the files onto your own personal device before you arrive. The audio files are more then three hours of content, and provide the visitor great detail of the exhibits at the center. The files are available to download in Mp3, Zip, and text. Having a text option means that the tour is even accessible to the deaf/blind.
The Fred's Head blog is compiling a list of videos that you can find on YouTube that address issues about blindness and how to adapt to losing your vision. The current list has 86 videos and they plan to add more as they find them. The list of videos is organized by category. The list also has the title of the video, the name of the presenter, and how long the video is.
Giving presentations can be a challenge when you can not read print. Many blind people use braille notes or memorize what they want to say. If you don't use braille, or find memorizing too challenging, this demonstration from Bruce Gardener will show you how to use a Victor Reader Stream as an audio teleprompter.
The Professional Development and Research Institute at Louisiana Tech University has started a blog that they hope will be a useful resource for anyone who works with blind children and adults. These are some of the topics that the blog will cover.
The latest research on blindness to help you to better answer questions
from educators and the general public, which will improve the opportunities
available for blind students and professionals;
Methods for teaching braille and cane travel that will increase the
effectiveness of instruction, allowing blind people to lead active, truly
Philosophy-rich speeches and articles leading the public to see blind
people as equal participants in their training, education and employment;
Perspectives from current students and alumni about why they find it
rewarding to teach blind students and adults, encouraging others to join the
growing profession; and
Interviews with experienced professionals, which will create nationwide
networking opportunities for teachers of the blind that will foster
collaboration on the latest, research-based instructional methods.
On the website, there are ways to subscribe either via RSS or email.
If you're looking for an in depth look at Windows 8 and you use JAWs or WindowEyes, ATI is offering two online courses that provide an overview of the operating system and how to use your screen reader with the new features of Windows 8. The courses include 4 pre-recorded lectures as well as a copy of the textbook. There are also periodic tests that students can opt to take. Each course can be purchased for $225.
There is a new site that hopes to be the place where anyone can come to get all the resources they need to learn about blindness and ways to adapt. Blind Wiki has a large list of resources so far, and they are continuing to add more. They also ask that users should submit resources that they don't already have listed.
If you're looking for career tips, job seeking pointers, employment advice and career connect updates, then the new Career Connect blog is for you. The first
If you have wanted to become a beta tester for IOS, but feel like you don't know enough, join Jonathan Mosen on Saturday July 6 to learn all that you need to know.
According to the webinar description, some of the topics that will be covered include:
Becoming legally entitled to run iOS betas
Downloading the latest build
Taking precautions before you take the plunge
Reporting bugs, being a beta tester who adds value
Your obligations under Apple’s Nondisclosure agreement (NDA)
The webinar will take place at 3 PM EST or 1900 UTC
If you can't attend the live webinar, you will be eligible for a copy of the archive. Purchase your spot today for $19.95.
AI Squared is offering a number of free webinars this summer. The first one is on Tuesday June 25. It will cover the ZoomText for Mac Reading Tool. Other webinars this summer include: an introduction to ZoomText for Windows 8, ZoomText Image Reader advanced tips, and an overview of ZoomText University. If you can not attend the webinar when it's happening, then you can access the recorded version at your own convenience. If you plan to attend any of these, you will need to sign up in advance to access the live events.
Camp can mean a lot of things for people. For some, it's the place where you met your best friend, and for others it's the place where you learned new skills. There are a number of summer camps around the country that cater to the blind and visually impaired. Some camps are only for children and others even serve adults. The Brailleworks blog provides a great list of options to choose from. Maybe this is the summer that you'll choose to go to camp.
FCC Seeks Comments on Proposed Rule Changes to the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act
There are already two rules in the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act that specify that on screen menus and access to accessibility options such as closed captioning and descriptive audio must become accessible to the blind. The FCC however, is seeking comment to find out if these rules need to be more specific. For instance, should these rules only be applied to cable and satellite providers, or should it be expanded to include devices such as a Roku box. In addition, the FCC is proposing that audio description and close captioning should be able to be turned on using a single button press or another similar method. We've linked to the long and confusing FCC rule proposal. Comments can be submitted until July 15.
Technology demonstrations can be a great asset when they are done properly. This past weekend Jonathan Mosen put on his first webinar to teach people how to do demos like a professional. If you didn't catch the webinar live, you can still purchase the recording. Some of the topics covered include: tools for the mac an PC, microphone considerations, what to communicate, and how to get the best exposure for your demo. It's available as a download for $19.95.
There are a number of resources available that offer tips on how to get a job, but most of them are not from the perspective of the visually impaired. Action For Blind People, a UK non-profit has put together a set of videos that provide tips and tricks to getting a job when you have a visual impairment. Some of the topics include: deciding when and how to disclose your disability, the do's and don'ts of applying for a job, and where to look for work. The library of videos is continuing to grow so return to the site periodically for updates. Happy job hunting.
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