Cool Blind Tech

Cool Blind Tech


Latest In Assistive Tech! News, Reviews and Interviews


Cool Picks: January 13, 2017  

This week, join Nelson Régo and Joel Ramos as they showcase some of the hottest Cool Picks. This week's "Cool Picks" Include the following : Algoriddim continues to provide incredible accessibility with their line of DJ products. The new DJay Pro for the iPhone is no exception. The video found on the page for the app highlights some great features but, sadly no descriptive video... Tired of flight simulators? Try out the SYMA Sky Thunder RC D63 Drone Runner

Talking New Year, New Resolutions and New Tech for 2017  

The New Year traditionally is about setting new goals and resolutions for improving ourselves throughout the coming year. But, at Cool Blind Tech we're all about highlighting new technology and products that improve the lives of those with disabilities no matter the time of year. This week, join Nelson Rego and Joel Ramos as they showcase some of the hottest accessible technology presented at the 2017 Consumer Electronic Show that took place in Las Vegas Nevada. Game changers this year included an innovative refreshable Braille tablet from Blitab Technologies called the BLITAB Tablet. The way this tablet presents Braille is incredible and you got to hear it to believe. Many products discussed on this week's show also received prestigious awards in the category of accessible technology and products. Some of these include the PCEye Mini which is an eye tracking device that allows individuals with mobility impairments to use a computer. The ReSound Enzo was also a recipient of an award for its Smart Hearing Aid for individuals with severe hearing loss. Nominees also included the Dring Smart Cane which packs a ton of technology into a mobility cane for individuals with physical disabilities who are prone to falling. This week's "Cool Picks" Include the following : Algoriddim continues to provide incredible accessibility with their line of DJ products. The new DJay Pro for the IPhone is no exception. The video found on the page for the app highlights some great features but, sadly no descriptive video... Tired of flight simulators? Try out the SYMA Sky Thunder RC D63 Drone Runner

Spotlight Interview with the Founder of Spotlight Gateway: A Project That Provides Free iPads to the Visually Impaired.  

In this Spotlight interview, James Oates sits down with Dr. Howard Kaplan, a retina surgeon, and the developer of Spotlight Text. Spotlight Text is an app that works with Bookshare to make eBooks accessible to the visually impaired. The app displays white text on a black background, and can make the text as large as a reader needs. It works only on iPads, but can also be airplayed to a TV screen by way of a dongle or an Apple TV. This allows for much larger text than can be provided with normal magnification software. The application also works with VoiceOver and braille displays, so that anyone with a visual impairment can use it. Working in cooperation with Bookshare, the app can access more than 450,000 books, and this number is constantly rising. To ensure that students with visual impairments have access to printed materials, Dr. Kaplan has founded Spotlight Gateway, an organization that provides free access to his app, a free Bookshare membership, and a free iPad to those who are in financial need. Students need to be certified as having a visual impairment by a licensed Ophthalmologist, and they need to show that there is a financial need for the program. You can try out a light version of the application to see if it works for you.

Accessibility of the new native instruments kontakt 5.6.1. and native keys pro software  

Accessibility of the new native instruments kontakt 5.6.1. and native keys pro software working together. part 1 main features. On this episode we are going to demonstrate how the sampler Native Instruments kontakt 5.6.1 works in a joint with Native Keys pro. With Native Keys pro, visually impaired users can gain access to virtual instruments, and effects in VST and DX formats. Such instruments include: Native Instruments Kontakt5 , Spectrasonic Omnisphere, Spectrasonic Stilus, Toontrack Superior Drummer, Sylenth, Reveal Sound Spire, Serum , and many others! To find more about the project and get a list of supported plug-ins, visit the website We, the developers, Victor Gorelov and Vadim Lukyanchuk. If you want to test the waters with Native Keys pro and all supported plugins, please, contact us via Skype: Victor Gorelov magicsquareproject Vadim Lukyanchuk vlook1986 Please, forward your questions and queries to

Spotlight On Shelly Brisbin: When Mainstream Meets Accessibility  

Join Jessica for this exciting spotlight interview with well-known author, tech journalist and podcaster Shelly Brisbin. Find out the latest about her very helpful book, iOS Access For All/ and her podcast, The Parallel. To get in touch with Shelly, follow her on Twitter, connect with Shelly on LinkedIn, or subscribe to her podcast feed.

Cool Picks 2016: Its About More Than a Store!  

The CBT Team are back with their Cool Picks of 2016. Featuring James, Jessica, Joel, Leo, Alex and Nelson with a introduction to our newest team member, Jessica Silva from Cisco Academy for the Vision Impaired. Cool Picks: Sonos Echo Dot (2nd Generation Google Home speaker. Fire Tablet. Apple iPhone SE Google Pixel Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd gen).

Windows Calendar: Using Narrator with ETI Eloquence for Windows  

In this episode, James Oates demonstrates how to setup Windows Calendar on a PC running Windows 10 Anniversary Update. He shows us how to create an event and send out a calendar invite. He reviews the keyboard shortcuts available in Windows Calendar, and he creates an event using Cortana. During this demonstration, James uses Narrator with ETI Eloquence for Windows. Eloquence is an add-on that can be purchased here.

Spotlight with Mark Riccobono: President of the National Federation of the Blind.  

In this Spotlight interview, James Oates sits down with Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind to discuss: The purpose and history of the federation. Accessible voting. Self-driving technology. Equal access to education. Future technologies. Braille and literacy. The Marrakesh treaty. How to join the NFB. Follow Mark Riccobono and the NFB on Twitter, and visit the NFB’s website.

Spotlight With Kim Charlson: National President Of The ACB And Director Of The Perkins Library  

In this Spotlight interview, James Oates sits down with Kim Charlson, the National President of the American Council of the Blind and the Executive Director of the Perkins Library. The topics include: A brief history of Perkins what the organization looks like today, The Perkins Blog(/a> Perkins Solutions Perkins eLearning Perkins International the Perkins School Library services including the Perkins Library the Perkins newsletter the National Library Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped Info Eyes virtual reference library service BARD the application process for the Perkins Library and the Library Without Walls program, a monthly recommended reads list. New actions taken by the Library of Congress About the Orbit Reader 20 from the American Printing House for the Blind The current status of the Marrakesh Treaty The mission of the ACB ACB state affiliates and local chapters the ACB Link app for iOS devices the ACB Braille Forum Progress being made in audio described film and television distribution the success of structured negotiations with Netflix The struggles with government agencies to enforce website accessibility guidelines and to provide accessible tactile paper currency. To learn more about Perkins and the American Council of the Blind, follow these Twitter Accounts: @perkinsvision @perkins_library @acbnational

Roku adds a screen reader to its current products, surprising many  

As of this ending year of 2016, we have seen multiple and rapid developments in the choices available to those who wish to cut the cord but are reliant on speech or low-vision tools. Before, the Apple TV was the only usable choice for a long time. Google had the Nexus Player, which in its way was one of the first companies aside from Apple to implement a standard screen reader. We saw Amazon add a screen reader to the Fire stick which, while has issues of some inaccessible content providers, still can provide speech and the use of Alexa independently to the screen reader user. Today we have a new player to the game: Roku. Roku sells several streaming products, ranging from $39 US to $129 US. These also range in features. The lowest device is the Express and Express+. It is compatible with older televisions, such as those which use composite video. The stick, which starts at USD $59, offers a thumb-drive sized device which plugs into your TV directly and runs off a Micro USB cable. Both of these products also lack a remote with voice recognition, so you will have to opt for a higher-end model if you wish to dictate or use voice search. The Roku Premier and Ultra both support 4K video playback, with the premier starting at $79. The Premier Plus, for $99, gives you other features such as a headphone jack built into the remote for listening to the TV elsewhere. Finally, Roku Ultra is $129 but is fully loaded with features such as a lost remote finder. Handy,, right? Now let's talk Accessibility. All of this year's Roku line-up, along with any Roku-driven smart televisions should get a new screen reader called Audio Guide. You can learn about the feature here. By pressing the menu key four times rapidly after the streaming device has started up, a robotic voice will provide spoken feedback for all menus and screen. Or does it? Find out whether this new TV solution lives up to your standards of what accessible should be. It's worth noting: The software update, 7.5, is not yet available for all devices or has been rolled out to them. Generally, if you have a Roku with an ethernet jack, updates are checked for during the start of setup. Wi-fi only models will require sighted assistance to connect to a network and then update, if audio guide is not present that is.

Cool Clips: November 22, 2016  

Jenny Lay-Flurrie, (Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer), discusses Cities Unlocked, (Microsoft’s 3D sound scaping project), that helps the blind navigate the world around them.

Lost Cities for iOS: An Accessible Card Game  

Join Jessica as she demonstrates Lost Cities, a fun and exciting game for iOS using VoiceOver. From The Developer: Lost Cities by the world-renowned board-game author Reiner Knizia takes you on a journey to undiscovered countries and mythical places. Compete against a friend, a stranger or one of 4 different computer players, in what has been called a “two player Solitaire with an extra portion of suspense”. Designed and polished for the iPhone by TheCodingMonkeys, makers of critically acclaimed Carcassonne for iOS. Lost Cities is a card game played by two players. The objective of the game is to mount profitable expeditions to one or more of the five lost cities (the Himalayas, the Brazilian Rain Forest, the Desert Sands, the Ancient Volcanos and Neptune’s Realm). It won a International Gamers Award in 2000. Key Features: online matches against game center friends or strangers 4 different AI players with distinct skill levels and play styles voice acted interactive tutorial and comprehensive rules beautiful full-length atmospheric soundtrack For questions and support, please contact us on Twitter or Facebook, or send us an email. For common questions check our FAQ. An electronic press kit is available.

Hey Siri: Welcome to macOS Sierra.  

In this demo, James Oates shows us how to setup and configure Siri on the Mac. He shows us how to enable Siri, choose a language, select a voice for Siri, enable voice feedback, select which microphone Siri will use, determine which keyboard shortcut will activate Siri, leave or remove Siri from your menu bar, enable location services, and how to allow Siri and dictation permission to access location services, Low vision viewers are encouraged to give feedback on our YouTube video so that We can determine if We are using the appropriate visual settings in the comment section blow.

Spotlight Interview with Jenny Lay-Flurrie: Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft.  

In this powerful Spotlight Interview, James Oates sits down with Jenny Lay-Flurrie, (Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft), to discuss the inner workings of accessibility at Microsoft. Jenny explains the challenges facing Microsoft, the progress that has been made in Windows 10, Office 365, and cloud services. She goes on to outline Microsoft’s commitment to accessibility in all its products across all platforms. She explains the importance of inclusive hiring for Microsoft to achieve its accessibility goals. She talks about Microsoft’s past reliance on third party applications and the company’s continued commitment to work with third party providers of assistive technology. Jenny then makes a major announcement that Microsoft has not made public until this time. Cool Blind Tech is excited to bring you this exclusive story. To find out what else was discussed, listen to the entire interview. Below is a list of helpful resources that are related to the topics in the interview. Microsoft’s Accessibility Home Page. Windows 10 free upgrade for customers who use assistive technologies Office 365 accessibility webpage Inclusive Hiring for People with Disabilities Narrator User Guide. Accessibility Roadmaps. Accessibility Feedback. Disability Answer Desk. Cities Unlocked. Use Narrator on Xbox One Console. To read the transcription, click here.

Cool Picks: NOVEMBER 7, 2016  

Join Jessica, James, Leo and Tomi for a very special Cool Picks: Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation) OBi202 VoIP Telephone Adapter To help you create, the Microsoft all-in-one keyboard Cribbage Pro for iOS and Android

VIP: It’s A Tech Buffet With Microsoft and Apple!  

Join Jessica, James, Leo and Tomi for a very special VIP. It’s all about creativity and innovation this year as we continue to provide exclusive after-event headlines from the leaders in technology today. Microsoft and Apple both recently held their events, where the major focus seemed to include accessibility, integration, and innovation. Here are some of the great stories from these events: Microsoft introduces Surface Studio all-in-one and Surface Book i7 More about the Surface Book Microsoft introduces Windows 10 Creators Edition Microsoft highlights accessibility right from the start. audio described video about Windows 10 craftsmanship Microsoft acquires Beam Live Streaming Service and incorporates the Hololens into more of the Windows 10 experience Apple redesigns Accessibility website and highlights their focus on accessibility at the start of the event Apple launches new TV app Meet the new Macbook Pro with all new Touch ID! Cool Picks: Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation) OBi202 VoIP Telephone Adapter To help you create, the Microsoft all-in-one keyboard Cribbage Pro for iOS and Android

Spotlight On Cydalion: Taking Navigation To Mythical Proportions  

Join Jessica for an exclusive Spotlight interview with Chad Udell, Managing Director, and Steve Richey, lead director at Float, makers of Cydalion. Cydalion is a revolutionary new app based on the Tango platform for Android which allows blind and visually impaired users to navigate indoor spaces using augmented audio technology. You won't want to miss this exciting episode. To find out more, follow @gowithfloat on twitter or check out their website

Nearby Explorer for iOS: Putting GPS to the Test  

Spend a day with a member of the CBT Team as we review our first GPS app from APH. Hugo takes Nearby Explorer to work, a coffee shop, a restaurant and then back home for a walk around his neighborhood. From the App Store: Nearby Explorer by American Printing House for the Blind is a full featured GPS app designed for use by people who are blind. Instead of just providing directions, it describes the environment in ways comparable to reading signage or observing road characteristics. It uses onboard maps, so a data connection is not required, but if you have one, Nearby Explorer supplements the on board map data with crowd collected locations from Foursquare or Google Places. It includes complete maps for the United States and Canada which contain millions of points of interest. The onboard maps are over 4GB in size, so be sure the device you plan to use has enough available space before purchasing. Nearby Explorer works with any device running iOS version 9 or later, but if the device does not contain its own GPS receiver, like most iPads and iPods, you must use an external GPS receiver. All iPhones contain GPS receivers. Nearby Explorer works by letting you select from several different location related options about what to announce as you move. These include both typical items like street name and address, and specialized options like approaching streets, intersection configurations, and nearby places and the distance and direction to them. (All announcements are optional.) All of this information is shown on the home screen and is available at any time, but typical use is to adjust the level of announcements, then lock the screen and put the device away. This keeps both hands free and let's your preferred voice speak the characteristics of the environment as you move. You may also use the devices position and orientation to obtain additional targeted details such as pointing the end of the device to scan for businesses, even in a moving vehicle, or tilting it vertically to function as a compass, including a listing of streets in the indicated direction. This all works with the device locked, so one need not fuss with the touch screen while moving. You may even mark a point, then use the position of the device to get haptic feedback about that point's location. Nearby Explorer includes a transit feature that provides detailed mass transit schedules for over 60 metropolitan areas in the U. S. and Canada. It treats transit stops just like favorites and points of interest by announcing their name and relative position as you move, but in addition, transit stops add next vehicle stop time, direction of travel, and route name to the announcements. You can use the transit schedules to look up times or even follow a route. You may virtually move to any area in the U.S. or Canada and explore the road network, search, or use the transit maps for that area. For complete details about Nearby Explorer, see American Printing House for the Blind

Can you master all the manamon?  

We're always excited to see good quality audio games, particularly ones with high bars in sound and game play hit the market. One fault many games suffer from is replay-ability - can I still do cool post-game action and have things feel more random in the story after I'm done? Or have I just wasted $39 of my money for a week's worth of distractions, anticipation, and nervous fits over not being able to complete my game? When playing Manamon, these were some of the factors that lead us to consider it a great choice for an Audio game. It's at least a year's worth of development effort which culminates in an action-packed adventure featuring a Pokemon-style environment with similar concepts. For example, trainers are tamers, but just like Pokemon, you have starter characters and types. You complete quests on a journey to uncover the hidden operations of the Shadow Kingdom, and battle to become more and more powerful through levelling up your Manamon and turn-based fighting opponents. We recommend two resources for your journey, friend. The main Manamon game page for downloading and ordering, and The forum topic where you can find a turn-by-turn walkthrough of the game, if you get a little stuck in a puzzle. I wouldn't completely spoil the fun with it, though - but in-game clues are sometimes less obvious. Good luck on your travels, and may Ziognioss be with you.

REAPER on Windows Part 5: Mixing, Takes and Automation  

In this episode of the REAPER series, Alex shows you how to switch and combine takes in an audio track to make one cohesive track. We listen to some seriously underwhelming takes, and some really cool and intricate ones. Takes are sections of audio that are recorded, most likely multiple times and are able to be combined to make a "perfect" section of music. Next, he discusses automation. Automation is a way to alter plugin or track parameters by creating an envelope that automatically gets triggered when the project is played. For example, increase a track's volume for a guitar solo or vocal line. In the example Alex increases and decreases the volume of his solo/lead guitar track to emphasize various parts where needed. Alex then shows us track templates and their conveniences.

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