Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Accessible Event makes meetings and seminars open to all participants, no matter their disability

I’ve been waiting on the following unveiling for a while and am impressed by the results, not to mention, the potential this offers for the future.

The folks at
Have rolled out their latest accessibility tool.

As its name implies,
Accessible Event
Makes meetings, seminars, conferences, and other events where participation is contingent on the accessibility to all the participants, truly open to everybody.

You can check out the June 23
press Conference ,
which is, of course, presented as an Accessible Event.

And, if that isn’t enough and you’d like another demonstration of how this neat tool works, check out the Serotek demo of a
staff meeting.

This is a service Serotek is offering to people who have a need to make their program accessible. It is something that I can see a distinct need for for at colleges, universities, and even public schools. There are also the distinct commercial applications at trade shows and conventions. If you’re a presenter and want to sure accessibility, check out Accessible Event. It will provide the ultimate delivery of your message to all audience members.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Access Ability is now on Twitter

Okay, call me slow, or whatever, but I’ve finally caught up to the latest hot thing on the web. Well, sort of.

I’m talking about getting on the tweet train. That’s right, Access Ability is now on Twitter. You can follow me at:

Be patient, please. Give me time to figure out what I’m doing here, but I want to keep what I tweet pertinent to what Access Ability is about. I don’t figure you really want to know what kind of sandwich I’m eating right now, so I’ll be trying to focus on the content.

Its crazy, but I’ve already got people following me and I’ve not even posted anything there yet.

See you on Twitter!

Thoughts on more access spinning off of iPhone 3.0's accessibility

I’ve still not even checked out the iPhone, with its new, whizbang 3.0 OS offering out-of-the-box accessibility, but I’m here to tell you that there is a lot more than buzz going on about this in the blind community. There is thought and reflection on where this can go from here. To wit, I share two recent blog posts.

First, an intelligent thought is offered by T. Reid in his cleverly titled piece
Accessibility, There’s An App For That!

T. begins by looking at the idea of reading Amazon’s Kindle books on the iPhone, using the already available Kindle app with Voice Over, which would beat the Kindle’s own, now-neutered text-to-speech potential. He also looks at other possible apps that might come from innovation. Read his post to see his thoughts.

And, my good friend Marcus Engel has also stepped into the reality of technology and finally claimed some geekiness wherein he proposes the idea of an
App to run NLS books on the iPhone.

Now, that idea Marc is proposing isn’t just an idle thought. He’s already stepped up to the plate and initiated communications that might get something going here. Read his post to see what I mean. Also, make sure to write an email of your own, encouraging the development of this possible app

Good work, guys!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Apple gives iPhone accessibility for the blind and does it the right way

In case you missed the groundbreaking news this week, the Apple Corporation has pounded the table and slammed its fist down, announcing heretofore unimagined accessibility for blind people to the iPhone and its popular touchscreen display. I’ve ragged on Apple enough in previous postings about not including accessibility for the blind amongst the many features that it offered on this chic and trendy device, so I feel obligated to give my props to the home of the Mighty Mac for doing it right.

Not only does Apple include accessibility to the iPhone with the upgrade to the 3.0 operating system, but they do it for free. It is built-into the software. That means that there is no additional “accessibility charge,” a price blind people have been subjected to in the past to gain access to information that sighted folks get for the original price of a product. This fee has come in the form of screen readers and service maintenance agreements that hit wallets that are very often already strained. So, a tip of the hat to Apple for not only providing accessibility, but just making it part of doing business.

I have heard that somebody questioned whether the Nokia N82, which is the phone I and several of my friends are using, has become obsolete with the advent of an accessible iPhone. I don't buy that. I think the N82 is a greatly accessible phone, in my own experience the most accessible phone I’ve ever had, and its already bought and paid for. There are aspects of it that nothing on the market can touch, at least not yet, so it is not obsolete. However, it is expensive in itself, just under $300 at best pricing, and also requires an expensive, third party screen reader for nearly $300 to be accessible. With a screen reader, at best prices, one will spend close to $600 and up to $900 from vendors to get an N82 with a screen reader on it.

Now, along comes Apple offering an iPhone for $199 with a built in screen reader. What Apple has done here is put pressure on the market to, not only ante up, but to matche their raise.

As they say, only time will tell. Let’s see what happens. It is indeed an interesting time to be a blind person and experience the wonders of advancing technology.

With all that said, below I offer a roundup of some of the writings on the web about the iPhone’s accessibility.

Here’s the official Apple iPhone Accessibility page where they spell out the use of Voice Over:

Also, here’s the Apple guide on how to use different features on your iPhone.

Here’s the Serotek blog where Mike Calvo shares his thoughts on Apple doing it right. Also, make sure to read the first comment on that post

Here’s the Ranger Station’s Post announcing the news. Ranger 1138 is a knowledgeable and experienced “dude in the assistive technology industry” whose insight I truly appreciate and trust.

Here is the Fred’s Head article from the American Printing House for the Blind. It is drawing its information from Apple, but seems to add some personal thoughts as well. The writer of this blog is a savvy writer named Mike McCarty and I personally dig his thoughts on technology and seemingly endless resources of information related to blindness and low vision.

And, finally, here’s Darrell Shandrow’s Blind Access Journal post, where he’s collected a few people’s reactions—some in awe and others basically taking a "wait and see" stance, as it sounds like his first couple of commenters are as well.

Like I said, only time will tell what evolves from Apple’s investment in accessibility.

Update 06/11/09

Here’s one more post from Mark Taylor’s Candleshore blog. It is not the original work of the blogger, but contains commentary from one person on an email list. However, these are the thoughtful reflections of a person, whom Mark leaves unidentified, but pledges is “one of the most respected names in the field of assistive technology for the visually impaired.” The comments are a good starting point for a discussion of what the pros and cons are of the iPhone versus other tactile smart phones.