An FYI for Low Vision Users of the Mac

I have often been asked by low vision users who are switching to the Mac or who are interested in doing so if there are modified large print keyboards or overlays for keyboards specifically for the Mac. I hadn’t had a clear answer to this question, but now I do. AISquared, the makers of the ZoomText products for both Windows and the Mac, also sell large print keyboards and keyboard skins for Apple keyboards. The keyboards themselves are actual Apple keyboards, but have different color contrast options for the large print characters. These products are simply awesome for folks who need keyboards with large print or have an Apple keyboard, but would like an overlay to help them see the keys better.

You can get all of the details
here.

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DoItWrite, a New iOS App

From my friends at Draconis Entertainment, they have released a great app for the iPhone that will help one learn how to write letters and numbers for the new handwriting feature in iOS 7. The app is called, DoItWrite, and I must say that I have been enjoying it quite a bit. Here are some details on the app:

Learn to draw lowercase letters, uppercase letters;;, and numbers for use with iOS 7’s VoiceOver handwriting feature!

This app is primarily intended for the blind or visually impaired, teachers or instructors of same, and other users of iOS 7’s VoiceOver screen reader.

Many blind or visually impaired people are not familiar with the shapes of printed letters or numbers. DoItWrite teaches you how to draw them in a simple way that has the best chance of being correctly recognized by VoiceOver, even if you have never learned the shapes of the characters previously. Once you get them down, practice your speed and accuracy with a fun game to blast characters as they tumble down the screen!.

• Learn how to activate the VoiceOver handwriting feature in iOS 7

• Learn how to draw lowercase and uppercase letters, as well as numbers in a simple and accurate way.

• Practice your newly acquired skills by blasting letters and numbers as they tumble down the screen.

• Use the app to improve your onscreen typing skills by using the keyboard during game play.

• Automatic feedback and coach via audio queues and speech output.

• DoItWrite automatically detects when VoiceOver is not running, and permits the tutorial to be browsed with the onscreen keyboard. Great for sighted teachers and tutors!
• Share your game scores with others. • Many ways to customize your learning experience.

To find the app in the App store,

go here.

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Some Comments about Mavericks

I’m not going to offer a significant “review” or commentary on Apple’s latest version of their Mac OS X platform, Mavericks. I think, by now, a lot has been written about it and you can do a general internet search to read a variety of opinions.

I will say that my initial “stance” or set of comments that I have made to some folks and expressed on Episode 23 of
the Triple Click Home podcast
have “softened” to some degree, as I have done some serious fiddling and experimenting over the last few weeks. However, in some cases, I also have not changed my opinions. Again, this will not be a detailed review, but here you go …. Continue reading

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Mavericks Training Material

Some folks have been asking me if there are any helpful resources for learning Mavericks available yet. Sarah Alawami, as she did with Mountain Lion, has a set of files for on Mavericks. You can purchase the whole set for a very reasonable $6.00. I think they are good training and resources for the new user as well as anyone interested in finding out all about Mavericks and VoiceOver. The details
can be found here.

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Apple’s October 22 Event

As I have updated on the
News Page of the site,
Apple held an event yesterday. All of the details can be found there, but I wanted to make a few comments about the event.

As discussed with Buddy Brannon and Justin Romack on our next Triple Click Home episode, Apple did some really brilliant marketing things. Making Mavericks available as well as the iLife and iWork packages, is certainly going to ruffle the feathers of their competition. To my knowledge, I don’t believe that Microsoft has ever offered a version of Windows for free (Windows 8.1 does not count because it is really a Service Pack to fix all of the issues in 8.0). This, to me, was an interesting change, and it seems that all future OS upgrades will be free. I will discuss Mavericks in a separate post to come over the next few days.

I am going to buy an iPad Air. I think these models are just fantastic. I am using an iPad 3rd generation, and I am looking forward to the faster processor and smaller size. I think the iPad Mini is also a great model as well, but as much as the Mini is a tempting choice, I still like my full-sized iPad.

As for the marketing positioning, again, Apple is spot on. Having the iPad Air starting at $499 and the iPad 2 still being available at $399 is only enhanced by the iPad Mini’s $399 starting price and the fact that the original iPad Mini will be $299. This is a great way to go into the holiday season.

Lastly, the Mac Book Pro improvements are truly impressive too. I’d love to get a new 13 inch model. Apple dropped the starting price for both the 13 and 15 inch models, and you sure get a lot of punch for the price. Before anyone points out that you can still purchase Windows laptops for less money, the only problem with that logic is that such computers still come with that cumbersome operating system/virus called Windows ….

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FYI, an Interview on the Delivering Access Podcast

I am not one who is comfortable with promoting myself or even talking about myself. Some are aware that I do the
Triple Click Home podcast
as well as being one of the “knights of the round table” on the
Maccessibility podcast.

Last week, I was honored to have been interviewed by VaShaun Jones on the Delivering Access Podcast. I was flattered to have been invited to join VaShaun and answer questions about my background and my thoughts about the current state of Accessibility to Apple products. It was a great time, and if you would like to check it out, you can go
here.

The
iTunes link is here
for the podcast.

I thank VaShaun for inviting me onto his podcast, and I hope you guys enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed being a part of it.

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A Book Review that Might be of Interest

Most folks who read this blog are probably used to me reviewing applications or operating system updates. I don’t think I have done an actual book review that I can think of beyond recommending the Take Control series of books by Tidbids Publishing.

I have recently read a book that addresses the iPad specifically and its accessibility from both the educator and parent’s perspective. I found it a very good book and am highly recommending it for you all to spread the word. If you use this in combination with
Jonathan Mosen’s book
on iOS 7, you have a pair of great resources, particularly if you work with students on iDevices or you are a parent of a blind or low vision child who is entering the world of iOS.

The book is called, “iOS Success: Making the iPad Accessible
A Guide for Teachers and Parents, and it is written by a gentleman I have known over the years and many may be familiar with if you have been around the assistive technology field for as long as I have, Larry L. Lewis. It is sold by the National Braille Press and is another winner as far as I am concerned. It is an easy read and does not get overly technical, which, I think, makes it very approachable by both teachers and parents alike. Continue reading

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Updates, 10/15/13

I have updated the
Demonstrations page
of the site with some iOS 7 podcast links Scott Davert of Applevis has kindly given me permission to link to. I will also be adding some of them to the
Getting Started with iOS page
of the site shortly

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My Review of the iPhone 5S

I finally received my iPhone 5S on Friday. Yes, as much as I love my Apple products, I really have no interest or desire to wait on lines for hours to buy a new device. I admire those who do this, but to me, I would prefer to order mine online and wait the extra time. Anticipation can be difficult, especially as others have already purchased their devices, but I can live with it and I usually have enough here to distract me anyway to keep me busy so that I don’t really think about how much time I have before I receive mine … Really, I don’t think about that at all ….

Fortunately, I didn’t have any crazy experiences during the ordering process. In fact, it’s actually a great story. I used the Apple Store application for the iPhone to place my order.

I ordered my 5S on September 20 at around 9:05 in the morning. I launched the Apple Store app on my iPhone 5, which had to update itself, and went through the ordering process in less than 5 minutes.
• 16 GB model
• Space Gray
• no extra case
• Apple Care included

That was it. It was a completely painless operation. So much, so, in fact, that I found myself calling the Apple Store later just to be sure the order had been placed, even as I did receive an email confirmation. Continue reading

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A Review of the iPhone 5s,

Courtesy of Scott Granados, I present to you yet another excellent review he has written and kindly given permission to post here.

Ok, since there’s interest…

REVIEW Apple iPhone 5S

So, I officially have joined the Apple Fan Boys and waited on line to jump on the latest and greatest from Apple, the iPhone 5S. I ended up waiting about an hour and a quarter and it was well worth the wait.
The specific device I purchased was the iPhone 5S, Space Grey with 64GB of storage. As in all previous releases, the iPhone was priced at 199 for the 16 GB version through to $399 for the 64 GB version and of course this was with an upgrade or free new customer activation.
Activation was very simple, I added a line to my shared data plan which I use for my hotspot I use for work, signed a few forms on an iPad with my thumb and the store rep booted the phone and activated. He also installed the phone in a new case and applied my employee discounts etc and the whole process for 2 phones was done in under a half hour.

IN THE BOX

In the new iPhone box comes the phone itself, a lightning to USB cable, AC to USB power adapter and a small pastil case containing the new ear pod headphones. The packaging is the same fitted / stylized box with the phone on top and the cabling / docs in layers underneath.

THE PHONE It Self

The phone itself is very similar to all the other models with a few exceptions. It’s a little longer in length similar to the iPhone 5, thinner just like the 5 with glass front / back, outer metal border and on the 5S like the 5 the lightning and headphone jacks are at the bottom of the phone. Mute switch is in the same position above the two volume buttons but on the 5S it’s inverted so pushing it down unmutes instead of mutes like on the 4 / 4S series. As always, you will want to buy a nice case for your device on day 1. It’s beautiful but fragile.
Another difference you’ll find is there’s now a small ring around the home key. That’s for the thumb print reader.
Specific to the version version of the phone, it’s shipped unlocked and supports both GSM and CDMA. The configuration Verizon sells is truly a world phone since you can easily pop in SIMM chips from other carriers.

WHAT’s Under the HOOD.

In the iPhone 5S you’ll find a brand new A7 processor which is noticeably faster for the user, an M7 motion chip which does things like reduces the network ping times when stationary, speaks to outboard devices and is actively involved in power management and a vastly improved radio which supports all the LTE bands as well as all the Transmission protocols. Other improvements include dual band WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.

OVER ALL

Over All the phone feels like a big step up from the 4S and a noticeable step up in performance from the 5. IOS 7 was clearly optimized for this phone and feels much more stable and snappy on a 5S. The increase in length is more than offset by the thinness and fits nicely in a pocket or bag. The finger print while tedious to set up is amazingly accurate and I can clearly see this being used for more and more as the software develops. One important note though is you can’t use a case that covers the home key like the life proof. Otterbox makes a case that supports the new censor so you might go in that direction. If you want to use the thumb print scanner you need to use a case that supports it, remember that when ordering.
Performance wise, things like safari seem remarkably faster. Page load times have been reduced drastically. LTE support is very good including supporting voice over LTE once available on the network.
Battery usage is ok, it’s not great but it’s not as bad as the 4S either. Drain seems highest when downloading content while watching video. The usage claims Apple makes seem pretty accurate though and in this case make a pretty good guide.
Over all, I’d say the phone is worth the money, it’s not revolutionary but it’s evolutionary. It’s a nice refresh of an already good product. I’d say worth the money if you’re upgrading from anything 4S series or earlier and save your money if you already have the 5 and wait for the 6.
As for carriers, you can buy the phone on any carrier now. AT&T still supports simultaneous data and voice which VZW will not until sometime before the end of the year. (Sprint does not have a VOLTE roadmap yet that I am aware of) T-Mobile uses HSPA heavily but with the new radio you should get a decent experience.
Over all, I’d give the phone 4.5 stars. It’s better and feels like a nice upgrade but it’s not earth shatteringly good like the upgrade to the 4 was.:) Apple does have a winner on it’s hands, go forth and buy one, you’ll be happy.

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