Introducing A New Contributor

As I indicated a short time ago, I am happy to announce that I have received an offer from someone in the community to contribute material to the site. Matthew Vollbrecht of the Tech Juggernaut, as kindly offered to help out with some articles and other material. I’ve added links to some of his podcasts in the
Demonstrations section of the page.

As some background on him, Matt is the founder of The Tech Juggernaut and has been helping both sighted and visually impaired people purchase, learn, and use their computers and other technology effectively since 1998. I’ve hd the pleasure to speak to him and he knows technology and can certainly clearly explain how to use it. He also contributes on a few of the blindness email lists related to Apple products.

You can visit his website
here.

If you would like to get in touch with Matt to inquire about the services he provides, you can reach him by email at this address,
tech@thetechjuggernaut.com

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Apple Event, March 9, 2015

I’m a few days late, but the
News page was updated
with some highlights from the March 9 event held in San Francisco by Apple.

OK, so what do I think about the Apple Watch? From what was demonstrated, well, it seems like it could be a great device. I will probably buy one, though it will probably be the Sport Edition.

Of course, the question of whether or not it will have VoiceOver has been speculated on many of the email lists. Some claim because they didn’t hear SIRI speak during a part of the demonstration that it doesn’t have VoiceOver. However, keep in mind that it does have a microphone and speaker. I’m willing to bet it will have VoiceOver, though, perhaps, a trimmed down version.

As for the other products announced, the Mac Book seems like an awesome laptop. I’m not sure about the USB-C technology as of yet, and for the time being, I’m satisfied with the Mac Book Pro I use. Still, you can’t beat its thinness and the battery life for such a compact device. It’s price tag of $1299 isn’t bad either for what it does.

Of course, the Mac Book Air and Pro lines got a slight kick to processors and features. Nothing significant to my thinking, but the Mac Book Pro is going to receive the new Force Touch Trackpad that is available on the Mac Book models. You get a little more bang with your buck as well for the introductory models in either case.

I’m not an HBO subscriber, and I bought the Apple TV already. However, for $69, if you were on the fence over whether to buy the Apple TV, it’s definitely worth it. Also, I have no doubts additional services will continue to be added as time passes.

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Another Great Resource for VoiceOver and the Mac

For those folks looking for another good resource on learning the Mac and VoiceOver, National Braille Press has just released the newest edition of Janet Ingber’s book, Everything You Need to Know to Use the Mac with Yosemite. I was honored and humbled to have been asked by Janet to help review the book and provide feedback and suggestions.

It is a well written and easy to follow book that will assist both the new user and someone looking to augment their current knowledge of the Mac and VoiceOver. It is definitely worth to have in your possession, and I am not simply saying this because I was a very small part in the process of its release.

As the Mac and VoiceOver has grown in its popularity and use among the blind, good, helpful and comprehensive resources are becoming more and more necessary. For some reason, to my knowledge, there has not been an awful lot of books pertaining to the Mac and VoiceOver available out there. Janet does a fantastic job in addressing this need and I highly recommend it to everyone who reads this blog.

To get further information about, Everything You Need to Know to Use the Mac with Yosemite, and to purchase the book, please visit the
the NBP site.

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Triple Click Home and Some Other Items

In case some folks were curious or wondering, the Triple Click Home podcast is still continuing. I am still a member of the team and episode 35 can be found
here.

I am well aware of the events that occurred with Serotek and the fallout of those events. I do not work for Serotek, and am not paid to do the podcast. So, when I was asked if I wanted to continue to record, I didn’t have any issues with doing so personally.

Of course, I surely wish my former cohosts and partners in “crime” the very best and would very much like the chance to work with Buddy or Elena or any of the other folks I had the fortunate opportunity to work with at Serotek again in the future. They are a great group of people, and I will not deny that I was saddened deeply by what occurred. Joe, Ricky, Lisa, etc, are all top notch in my opinion and I hope that I will be able to stay in contact with them.

Nevertheless, my new cohosts, Hope and Joshua, are great people too, and I look forward to working with them and Derek as time goes on. We had a blast recording episode 35, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to carry on the podcast with them. I would hope that you guys will check out the latest episode and all future ones.

Additionally, though I have not posted anything about it, I am updating the site with new documents and such. I also am going to be receiving some assistance from someone who has offered to provide some content for the site and help manage it. I will be posting more about that soon.

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A Thank You to the Tech Doctor Podcast

I was honored to have been a guest on the latest Tech Doctor podcast hosted by Dr. Robert Carter and Allison Hartley. I am not one who likes to talk about myself, but in the episode, I discuss how this website came about and how I sort of fell into the world of training people on Apple products, as well as my good fortune to be contracted to work directly with Apple.

In addition, the focus of the interview was on the Apple certification process. I was asked by Robert and Allison about the overall exam and certification process from preparation to actually taking the exam. It’s not something I have had a lot of opportunity to talk about, so I enjoyed the chance to do so.

I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed being a part of it. It is an awesome podcast as its stands, and I highly encourage you to include it as part of your podcast choices. To hear the interview, please
go here.
It is the podcast titled, “Mac for the Blind Apple Certified” from January 24, 2015.

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A Few New Items to Start the Year

Happy New Year to all, as late as I am. Unfortunately, it’s been a busy end to the previous year and I’ve sort of hit the ground running to start this one. However, there are a few items I wanted to pass along that might be of interest to folks.

First off, Winston Chen, the developer of what I feel is the best reading application on the market for iOS, Voice Dream Reader, has released a word processor application called, Voice Dream Writer. It was built with VoiceOver accessibility in mind from the ground up, and is truly worth the money. I am posting a link to an interview done on Cool Blind Tech with Mr. Chen that is worth the listen if you have the time. The man is extremely fascinating and it’s a great story. Also, he is working towards making a Mac version of the app, which I think would be simply fantastic.

The interview can be found
here.

To learn about the Voice Dream Writer application,
go here.

Additionally, Shelly Brisbin has released an update to her iOS Access book for iOS 8. It is called, iOS Access for All: Your Guide to Accessibility for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch (iOS 8 Edition). From her website from the About this Book link,

“iOS Access for All is a comprehensive guide to the accessibility features of Apple’s mobile devices. From the VoiceOver screen reader, which allows blind users to control an iPhone or iPad, to support for hearing aids and closed captioning, Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS, includes features that support use of the company’s popular iDevices by people with a wide range of physical and cognitive disabilities. iOS Access for All is the most thorough, hands-on guide to accessibility features available. Readers will learn how to set up and use an iOS device in an accessible way, and how to get the most from apps provided by Apple, and available from the App Store. The book also introduces iOS tools, including the Siri voice assistant, that weren’t designed for accessibility, but that nonetheless enhance the productivity and pleasure of disabled users.”

To read all about the book, download sample chapters or purchase it, visit
her website for the book.

Lastly, but certainly not least, there has been a lot of talk about the Be My Eyes application for iOS. I recently downloaded it, but have not tried it yet. However, it’s received a lot of buzz in the blindness community and is another addition to the various “recognizer” apps available to the blind.
You can go here to get all of the information and purchase the app.

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Some More Logic Pro Info

The following information was posted on the Mac4theblind email list by Keith Reedy. I know I get a lot of questions about Logic, and I know this information will be helpful to some folks.

Hi folks,

The new Logic Pro X accessibility overview is up.
New information on patches, smart controls and a few new additions in advanced features. Find
it here.

If you missed the podcast find them
here.

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Apple October 16 Event and a Few Other Items

I am a bit behind, but I have updated the
News page of the site
in regard to the event Apple held last week. This includes all of the details about the new iPads, OS X Yosemite, Apple Pay, the iMac 27 inch model with Retina 5K display and the updated Mac Mini.

In addition, iOS 8.1 was released on Monday. Some bugs have been fixed, but there are still that remain. To read a summary of what has been fixed and is still outstanding as far as accessibility bugs go, Applevis, once again, has
a complete run down here.

As for OS X Yosemite, just to be clear here, it is completely safe to upgrade. Compared to Mavericks and it’s initial release, there are no major bugs. A few people are making Federal cases on public lists out of feature changes, such as in Spotlight and iTunes, but the reality is Yosemite is a great upgrade. If you are, though, one who is concerned about bugs and would like to know what to expect, as well as read about the new features of Yosemite, again, I refer you to Applevis and their lists of features and found bugs that can be
found here.

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Laugh for Sight 2014 info

Once again, as I have done over the last few years, here is some info courtesy of Brian Fischler about this year’s Laugh for Sight event.

Greetings,

Please join us for the 9th annual Laugh For Sight NYC on Monday, October 27th at Gotham Comedy Club. This year’s All star Laugh For Sight NYC will be Hosted by Craig Carton from the Nationally Syndicated Boomer & Carton hit morning show and feature Legendary Comedian Robert Klein, Gilbert Gottfried, Jim Norton, Brian Fischler with his guide dog Nash, and more Surprise Guests!

Laugh For Sight raises awareness about retinal degenerative eye diseases and also helps to raise the much needed funds for gene therapy research being done at the Scheie Eye Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. Along with the comedy show there is a silent auction featuring luxury jewelry donated courtesy of Susan Michel and friends, tickets to late night television shows, and sports memorabilia. The Silent Auction will kick off at 7PM followed by the comedy show at 830PM. Gotham Comedy Club is located at 208 West 23rd St., NYC, NY. Tickets can be purchased by going to www.gothamcomedyclub.com and clicking on October 27th, by calling 212-367-9000, or clicking directly on this linkhttp://gothamcomedyclub.com/event.cfm?id=341644&cart

Corporate Table and donations for the silent auction are still being accepted and you can contact Brian Fischler at 718-480-3566 or brian@laughforsight.com, and to learn more about Laugh For Sight please visit www.laughforsight.com, and follow them on Twitter @LaughForSight.

Additionally if you can not make it to this year’s benefit, you can still help support Laugh For Sight NYC by sharing the attached ad for this year’s benefit on your social networks. Please help us get the word out there, as gene therapy research is at a critical juncture where people who have been blind their entire life are getting close to receive the gift of site, and people like me who went blind later in life have a realistic chance of having their vision restore, so taking the few seconds to share this add is greatly appreciated.

Furthermore if you would like to make a tax deductible donation to Laugh For Sight, you can do so through the website at www.laughforsight.com and click the donate button.

Best,LFS10-NY-r1.jpg
Brian Fischler
Founder/President
www.laughforsight.com
Twitter: @LaughForSightLFS10-NY-r1.jpg

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iOS 8: to upgrade or Not to Upgrade?

As seems to be the talk with any “.0 release” with an operating system, the matter of whether or not to upgrade always takes center stage in the blindness community. Certainly iOS 8, Apple’s latest version of the iDevice operating system, is no exception.

Let me first start off by pointing folks to a pretty comprehensive resource if one is interested in reading about what known bugs exist in iOS 8 from an accessibility standpoint. This might be the best place to start in regard to making your decision. You can
go here
to read about all of the known bugs and issues.

In my opinion, it is personal choice. From my experience with both an iPhone 5S and an iPhone 6, I have not encountered any bugs that I’d say are definite show stoppers. Some of the bugs Applevis has listed have not shown up at all for me. However, I do not discount them, and, thus, it is up to you as the user to make that all important decision.

What I am advising my clients is simply this. You should take the time to read about the bugs and speak to a variety of users who have upgraded to iOS 8 first. Educate oneself and just don’t rely on a single source. Also, keep in mind that we do have those in the blindness community who seem to have a way of magnifying problems and blowing them out of regular proportion by the way they write about their experiences. In other words, some folks simply make a heck of a lot more than is necessary and probably accurate out of their experiences for one reason or another.

Nevertheless, once one has done the research, then making that all important choice is up to them. Maybe, 8.1 will be best for you to install when it is released. However, I think most users can deal with the bugs that do exist and take advantage of what iOS 8 has to offer. In the end, however, only you as the user can choose for him or herself.

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