Apple Event for March 21, 2016

On Monday, March 21, Apple held another event, “Let us loop you in”. In typical style, Tim Cook had some announcements involving the latest news from Apple, which included a few new products.

Now, without a doubt, I will not debate the fact that this event was not as exciting or entertaining for me personally. I know there has been some chatter on some of the lists about this, though I would not at all call it, “disappointing” as some have termed it. I think, as blind people, we often lose our perspective on what Apple is doing if it doesn’t directly impact our own personal worlds.

Obviously, iOS 9.3, Watch OS 2 and the new tvOS updates are things that do have some baring on the blind, and I was particularly interested in those items myself. I think that Apple continues to improve the software for their devices, and this also includes the area of accessibility. As an example of that,
Applevis has information on the improvements in accessibility in iOS 9.3 you can read about here.

Apple also spent time highlighting the new iPhone SE, which is a new 4 inch model of the iPhone, as well as the 9.7 inch iPad Pro, which joins the original 12.7 inch iPad Pro as a second alternative. These devices, which will be available for preorder on March 24 and then will be released March 31, though they might not set the world of blindness on fire, fit specific marketing targets for Apple, and, thus, were actually major announcements for them. I personally don’t need to update my iPad as of yet and I already have an iPhone 6S, but still, I think these are fantastic products, and I know of a few people who are particularly interested in the 4 inch iPhone model.

Some people were expecting a new Apple Watch model, as well as announcements for refreshers to some of the Mac product lines. I wasn’t personally expecting a new watch myself, and the Mac models will undoubtedly come over the passing months. In fact, there are already rumors that there will be new 13 and 15 inch Mac Book Pros coming in April. Additionally, the major news in regard to new iPhones, Mac operating systems and new iOS versions usually comes at WWDC, which is held in June.

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Braille Input in iOS and on the Mac, a Possible Option for UsersBraille, Portset,

In my previous post, I talked about Braille output on the Mac. In this post, I wanted to pass along information on a potential solution for Braille input for both iOS and Mac OS X.

Portset Systems Ltd, are an assistive technology company based in England, and have been making assistive devices for the blind and physically disabled for several years. In my “former life” as an assistive technology vendor, I was a reseller for Portset, which included the Portset Reader stand-alone reading machine.

Also, though, Portset developed the Braille KeyG and KeyG2, which are Braille input devices that were originally developed to provide Braille input for the PC and Windows. This was and is a solution that works extremely well. I still use my Braille KeyG2 for input when I am using my PC to this day.

Recently, Portset expanded the capability of the Braille KeyG products to support iOS devices and even the Mac. I have been testing and using my upgraded Braille KeyG2 to test its use with my iPad and iPhone, and on my iMac. I must say that it does a great job and definitely gives on an affordable alternative if one cannot afford the much more expensive Braille displays that offer six-key Braille input.

It may not be the perfect solution for all cases, as there are some limitations to certain functions, such as Quick Nav as it currently stands, but I am sure this is something Portset will address as time passes. Overall, though, for basic tasks, and for things like document writing and composing or responding to messages in iOS or the Mac, either version of the Braille KeyG will get the job done for you. For the Mac with the Braille KeyG2 model, there are two extra keys below the left side of the Braille keyboard that act like the VoiceOver Keys, which gives the keyboard even more functionality.

Even though this is a Youtube video link, there is certainly enough audio in this demonstration to get an idea of the use of the Braille KeyG2 with iOS.
You can click here to hear the video in its entirety.

For specific details about the BrailleKey keyboards,
go here.

Since Portset also focuses on physical disabilities with there products, I am going to add a couple of additional links.

Here is info on their USB auto charger.

And here is the actual product page for the charger.

They also have a iPad 4 switch input to Bluetooth they specially designed for a switch user to communicate with their iPads.

To contact Portset directly, you can send an email to:
sales@portset.co.uk

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Another Braille Solution for the Mac

The topic of Braille translation and embossing by way of the Mac has come up frequently on the various email lists for blind Mac users. I have presented a few posts on this subject over the years, which has included information on the Index Braille Embossers and their Mac compatible software.

As someone who was fortunate enough to have grown up learning Braille and has used it throughout his life, this is a subject that has a lot of personal meaning to me. I am disturbed deeply by the attitude of some sighted teachers and educators who believe Braille is a dinosaur and that in the world of electronic information, it’s not necessary to teach blind children or adults Braille. That is like saying sighted kids shouldn’t have to learn to handwrite because they have keyboards. It’s a matter of simple literacy, in my opinion, so this is a major reason why I am presenting this information.

Let me also be clear here that I do not receive any compensation for sales or such by “promoting” these products. I believe them to be valuable tools that have gotten lost in the world of other Braille equipment producers who receive more attention because of popularity and in some cases, basic unfair politics. David Pillischer is a man who has been involved in the sales, repairs and production of Braille embossers for nearly 30 years, and I have been fortunate enough to have had the Cosmo Brailler demonstrated to me on two occasions. Note that these demonstrations were done by way of a Mac Book Pro laptop.

Recently, I had a conversation with David Pillischer, who I have known as far back as when I was an assistive technology vendor. As a result of this discussion about Braille on the Mac, he sent me a link to an article that I thought might be of interest to some folks. Please pass this information around, as there is definitely another potential Braille solution for blind Mac users out there, especially in the education area.

Please go here and the article is the first one in this issue.

I would definitely check out the BERT software and the Cosmo Brailler. If you would like details about these products, please

visit here

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Updates and Some Other Odds and EndsAudio Tutorials, Coupons, resources,

Audio Tutorial Series Updates

It’s been a while since my last post, so I wanted to mention a few things here before the Christmas holiday week gets here and I will be taking a short break.

The Audio Tutorial Series is going a lot better than I could have ever imagined. I sincerely thank those who have kindly purchased them and who have continued to support me through recommendations to others and general kind words. I have created, with the kind assistance of Derek Lane, over 20 different tutorials now on both Mac and iOS. Of course, more will be added as time passes, and your continued support will surely encourage this project to expand and diversify in the future.

For a limited time, you can take advantage of a 10 percent discount by using the coupon code, HOL2015, when you checkout. This will expire January 22nd of 2016. I also offer bulk discounts if there is an interest in purchasing the entire Mac, iOS or both series. In the future, I will also make other coupons and discounts available, so please check back here often.

Additionally in regard to the Audio Tutorial Series, Jamie Pauls wrote a review of the series in the latest addition of AFB’s Access World. I very much appreciate Jamie taking the time to do such a thorough job in his review, and if you are interested in reading what he had to say, please
go here. Continue reading

Posted in Accessibility, ACSP, General, iOS 9, iOS Devices, iPhone, Mac OS X El Capitan, WatchOS 2 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mac for the Blind is on Facebook

I know a lot of people have asked, and Mac for the Blind finally has a Facebook page. Please spread the word and “like us” as well. Information posted here will be also posted on the Facebook page. You can visit the page by going
here.

Also, please remember to follow Mac for the Blind on Twitter as well, @macfortheblind.

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Laugh for Sight 2015

As I have been doing, here is information on the Laugh for Sight 2015 show. Please try to pass this along if possible.

Greetings all,

It is that time of year again as Laugh For Sight NYC tickets just went on sale. Hard to believe as this will be our 10 Year Anniversary in New York City, and we think we will have one of our most amazing lineups yet! This year’s benefit will be at Gotham Comedy Club on Monday, November 16, 2015. Legendary Comedian Robert Klein will be returning for his 9th year, and be joined by Artie Lange, Gilbert Gottfried, Rich Vos, Bonnie McFarlane, Daryl Wright, Nash and me, and who knows we still might even have a special V.I.P. guest to announce.

The Silent Auction and Cocktail Hour Hosted by Susan Michel will kick off at 7pm and feature fine jewelry, sports items, tickets to late night shows, and other surprises. There will be live music and complimentary cocktails during the hour leading up to the comedy show.

Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Scheie Eye Institute. General admin tickets are $50 and a two item min, and V.I.P. Preferred Seating with an Open Bar can be purchased for $150. Tickets can be purchased through Gotham Comedy Club at www.gothamcomedyclub.com, by calling 212-367-9000, or by clicking here http://gothamcomedyclub.com/event.cfm?id=416596&cart

Please share this ticket link on your social networks, and for up to the date information please visit www.laughforsight.com, and make sure to follow us on Twitter at @LaughForSight.com.

Brian Fischler
Founder/President
www.laughforsight.com
Twitter: @LaughForSight

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3D Touch with VoiceOver on the iPhone 6s

There has been a lot of questions and comments about the new 3D Touch feature of VoiceOver on the iPhone 6s. I have been curious about this myself, and I think Scott Davert of Applevis, once again, does a fantastic job of demonstrating it. He also has a VoiceOver user guide available for 3D Touch as well.

To hear the demonstration,
go here.

You can
find the VoiceOver User Guide here.

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Apple Event held on September 9

This was one of the rare times in which I was not able to update the page with news. Timing is often everything, and I literally was on vacation just two days prior to the September 9 Apple event. So, now that I am home, I am catching up a bit here. You can read a summary of the event on the
News page of the site.

I have personally updated all of my iOS devices to iOS 9. I don’t feel that this release is anything like the iOS 8 release as far as any true “show stopping” bugs. If you are curious about what bugs do exist, as usual, the great folks at Applevis, have done a great job listing the bugs in iOS 9
here.

I have also updated my Apple Watch to Watch OS 2 without any issues. If you have the watch, I would strongly recommend upgrading. The only oddity I experienced was that my speech rate had seemed to slow down a bit upon the update finishing. Also, the raise to activate feature, which I had disabled, had been turned on, but this might have been by design from what I have read.

At some point, though it is long overdue, I will be doing a post on my impressions of the Apple Watch. Some have asked me to do this, and I honestly do intend on doing so. It’s just a matter of finding the time to sit down and write out a coherent piece.

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Another Charity Event I am Posting Info on

On occasion, I do post non-Apple related messages. In this case, Pasquale is a former client and friend of mine. I thought this was pretty cool and something worth promoting. Please promote this if possible and if you are in the area of New Jersey where this takes place, I think it would be a great event to participate in.

Here are the details from Pasquale himself.

Dear Friends and Family,

My Captain Brian and I are riding a tandem bike together in the Gran Fondo NJ on Sunday, September 13. We will be riding 43miles together through the lovely countryside in and around Morristown, New Jersey along with about 50 of our fellow Team InTandem members and about 2500 other riders from all over the United States.

I am a “Stoker. I ride in the back of the bike. My “Captain, Brian> rides in the front. While I have a visual impairment and do rely on him for navigation, we are a team in every sense of the word.

We ride with and for InTandem, a not-for-profit organization in New York City that provides tandem biking programs and opportunities to people with disabilities – all at no cost to their members. This Gran Fondo NJ is our featured event of the year and is our principal fundraiser as well. You may not be able to ride with us on Sept. 13, but you can help by supporting our ride with a donation. Your contribution will help InTandem continue to provide free tandem biking programs to their members throughout the year.My goal is to raise $1000!!! So please if you can help me reach my goal… , that would be greatly appreciated. Your donations will be allocated as such:

• $25.will pay one entry fee for one of our members at an organized riding event.
• $50. will pay the entry fees for both the stoker and captain at an organized riding event.
• $100. will pay for new tires on one tandem bike.
• $250. will help support a tandem team’s season of riding and will get you one of our InTandem custom cycling jerseys. Check it out at the bottom of this page: http://www.intandembike.org/2015_granfondo_nj/
• $500. will pay for a tandem team to go on a distant, weekend riding trip. When they arrive at their hotel, they will find a nice gift basket with your name on the card. And an InTandem jersey.
• $2,500. will buy a brand new Cannondale top-of-the-line tandem bike and provide the joy of riding to many other InTandem cyclists. That bike will have a plaque with your name on it. And an entire InTandem attire kit (jersey, shorts, hat, etc.) will be coming your way.

But really, I am grateful for a donation of any size.

Please visit our personal InTandem Team page:
here.

Thanks.

sincerely

Pasquale Agnone

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Mac for the Blind is Proud to Make Audio Tutorials Available

I have been asked by many folks over the years if I would ever consider creating audio tutorials on the Mac and iOS that I would sell. Basically, they have wanted me to record the lessons that I normally teach a client and make them available to any interested people who are either beginners or experienced users alike. This has been a consistent question I’ve gotten for a good couple of years now.

Finally, I have decided to take the plunge and try my hand at creating and selling audio tutorials. I am trying to keep them as affordable as possible, but to also be of the highest audio and content quality as well. I will have at least a half a dozen files available for sale by the end of this month with others planned for the future.

At this point, I am starting with Mac material. The “Introduction to VoiceOver on the Mac” file is free for anyone to download as a sample. As for the others, I am going to try to keep even the more in depth ones under $60.

Realistically, I will honestly say that nothing beats being taught the Mac or iOS from a qualified and knowledgeable trainer and I certainly hope that these tutorials will encourage folks to pursue training. Still, having a file you can reference and use as you learn the Mac or your iPhone or other iDevice is still extremely valuable and useful. What you will hear in these tutorials is exactly the kinds of material and the manner in which I train my clients on a daily basis. I simply approached recording them as if I was working with an individual or a group.

I am certainly open to comments and suggestions as time goes on. If the tutorials prompt any questions, please feel free to let me know as well. This is an “experiment” I am trying and it will be a work in progress. However, I think you will find the files worth your money in the end. I thank you in advance for purchasing the files, and I will be offering discounts for package purchases, coupons and other goodies as time passes and they seem to attract enough attention and a positive response.

Please go
here for the audio tutorials.

I would also like to thank Derek Lane for his fantastic work on editing the audio files. Derek is the master at making audio its highest quality possible, and I am grateful for a very fortunate in person meeting I had with him in Florida at the NFB summer convention in which he agreed to edit my work and make me sound a heck of a lot better than I actually do in real life …

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