Cool Blind Tech

Cool Blind Tech

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Latest In Assistive Tech! News, Reviews and Interviews

Episodes

Taking a Look at the Features Available on the Google Home Voice Activated Speaker.  

Google released the Google Home, which is a voice activated speaker that can control your smart home devices, play your music, answer your questions about almost anything, stream the news from sources you select, and so much more. In this episode, James Oates tells us how to setup the Google Home, and walks us through the Google Home app on his Pixel phone. Here he shows us all the different configuration options available for the Google Home. The Google Assistant is built-in to the Google Home, and it is amazing how many things it can do.

Cool Picks: February 24, 2017  

Tune in to this jam packed show where James Oates with fellow hosts Joel Ramos and Nelson Régo let you in on their latest Cool Picks. Cool Picks: djay Pro for the Mac. djay Pro provides a complete DJ Software for performing DJs. Its unique modern interface is built around a sophisticated integration with iTunes and Spotify, giving you instant access to millions of tracks. Pristine sound quality and a powerful set of features including high-definition waveforms, four decks, audio effects, and hardware integration give you endless creative flexibility to take your sets to new heights. Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i Mobile Document Scanner. • Fast color, grayscale and monochrome scan speeds of up to 12 double sided pages per minute • 10-page Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) • One touch searchable PDF Creation • Automatic paper size detection, automatic color detection, automatic cropping, blank page deletion and de-skew • Scan to: Evernote, SugarSync, Google Docs, Salesforce Chatter and Dropbox,1 year Limited Warranty Google BrailleBack. BrailleBack is an Accessibility Service that helps blind users make use of braille devices. It works together with the TalkBack app to give a combined braille and speech experience. This app lets you connect a supported refreshable braille display to your device via Bluetooth. Screen content will be presented on the braille display and you can navigate and interact with your device using the keys on the display. It is possible to input text using the braille keyboard.

VIP: Money’s No Object!  

Don’t worry about how much it costs! Just go out and buy it! Tune in to this jam packed VIP where James Oates steps out of his comfort zone to take on the job as host with fellow hosts Joel Ramos and Nelson Régo. Using a Haptic Device, Blind People Can See Microscope Images: A team at Purdue University in Indiana has developed a haptic device that lets blind people feel images generated by a microscope. It has always been a huge undertaking to help the blind understand microscopic images. Sometimes, a sighted person just must describe it, which is problematic sense each description differs, and the blind person can’t always understand the description. Also, tactile images can be created and labelled in braille, but this is labor intensive and requires a sighted individual with the knowledge, time, and skill to do it. This new device is a haptic feedback joystick that plugs into a computer that also has a microscope connected to it. It has been tested on red and white blood cells. The blind person navigates the cell with the joystick, and receives a pushback when encountering a cell wall, and different vibrations when hovering over different textured objects. So far, tests have indicated that a blind person can identify the difference between a white and red blood cell more accurately using this device than by means of other methods. Handheld Scanner Converts Text to 36Cell Refreshable Braille: Cost, About $100: Six women, all undergraduate engineering students at MIT, won last year’s MakeMIT Hackathon by creating a device that can easily change the world for people who are blind. They call themselves Team-Tactile, and they did something that should have been done a long time ago. They created a device that is the size of a candy bar. It has a camera on the back, it runs OCR software, and it has 36cells of refreshable braille on the front. You just move the device, for now called Tactile, over printed text, and it is immediately displayed in braille on the front. Think about what an improvement this is over current methods of taking pictures, waiting for OCR software to convert to text, and then having to have a very expensive braille device connected to whatever you used to take the picture and convert to text. The team only had 15 hours to create this device during the hackathon competition, and it only costs around one hundred dollars. The problem in the braille display market is that no one has been motivated to create anything new and affordable. We are still using technology that is decades old, and the cost for these devices are in the thousands of dollars. It is about time that new options come to those who desperately need it. Only 10% of blind people can read braille, 70% of blind people are unemployed, and 80% of blind people who are employed can read braille. You do the math. Having easy access to braille material directly correlates to a more educated and productive blind community. Orca 3.24 Screen Reader and Magnifier Has Entered Development: Public Preview is Available for Download: Orca, the popular screen reader, and magnifier for Linux, has entered development in anticipation of the public launch of version 3.24 on March 23rd. Version 3.23.4 is available now for testing, if you would like to get a head start on the new release. You can download it here. Some of the improvements include: • Better support for webpages • Improved ARIA support • Improved support for the LibreOffice office suite • Improvements in handling the SeaMonkey mail client The New ChromeVox Screen Reader for Blind Users of Chrome Books is Now Ready: All Chromebooks released in 2017 will have the ability to run Android apps, some of the new Chromebooks have greatly improved specs, and now Google is also making improvements to its ChromeVox screen reader. Maybe it’s time to stop and take a serious look at Chromebooks again. Here’s what’s new in ChromeVox:

Cool Picks- February 20, 2017  

Join Jessica Rickards, James Oates, and Nelson Régo this week with their Cool Picks. Cool Picks: Instant Pot Six-In-One (or Seven-In-One) Pressure Cooker Instant Pot Reference Article

The Everett Experience: Studying Music Overseas  

CBT would like to feature a documentary from Everett Elam, a Braille instructor at World Services for the Blind in Little Rock, Arkansas. The audio documentary follows Everett’s experiences studying and playing music abroad in Salamanca, Spain. It's purpose is to inspire other students (with and without disabilities) to study abroad, and to promote the Gilman scholarship which supports minorities studying abroad.

VIP: Is Science Fiction Our New Reality?  

Join Jessica Rickards, James Oates, and Nelson Rego for this exciting VIP. It's all about the future with these incredible stories. Here's a look at what you can expect in this fun, yet educational episode. 3D Printing Can Help Blind Students Learn About Sex Amazon launches monthly subscription program to help children learn about math and science High Tech Glove Helps You Feel in VR" Cool Picks: Instant Pot Six-In-One (or Seven-In-One) Pressure Cooker Instant Pot Reference Article

Reviewing TalkBack Settings in Android Nougat on a Google Pixel Phone.  

In this episode, we look at the TalkBack settings on a Google Pixel running Android Nougat 7.1.1. James Oates gives a brief overview of accessibility settings while primarily focusing on the settings for TalkcBack 5.1. He also shows us Moves, which are specialized gestures for Android that can be toggled on or off, depending on your preferences. Although James is new to Android, he is very impressed with the Google Pixel, and looks forward to bringing more Android content to our listeners.

Cool Picks- February 12, 2017  

Listen in as Joel Ramos, Jessica Rickards and newcomer Gabriel Vega, CEO of Commtech. give us their Cool Picks for this week. Cool Picks: MediGuard provides you with easy to understand health information, safety alerts & recalls and drug interactions. Office Lens is like having a scanner in your pocket. Like magic, it will digitize notes on whiteboards or blackboards. Always find important documents or business cards. Sketch your ideas and snap a picture for later. Don't lose receipts or stray sticky notes again! BBE 882i Sonic Maximizer

Windows 10 Insiders Build 15025: Using a Braille Display with Narrator and New Mono-Audio Feature.  

In November of 2016, Jenny Lay-Flurrie revealed to Cool Blind Tech, in an exclusive announcement, that braille support was coming to Narrator. Now the feature has rolled out in Windows 10 insiders build 15025. It is still in beta, but James Oates has decided to give us an early look at this new feature. He also shows us the new mono-audio feature that has been added to Narrator.

VIP: To Braille or Not to Braille?  

What is your deepest darkest secret? Listen in as we open the doors to the VIP room with one of your favourite host Joel Ramos, as he opens up to his fellow hosts Jessica Rickards and newcomer Gabriel Vega, CEO of Commtech. VizLens helps the blind operate appliances with digital screens and unlabeled buttons Think about the number of electronic appliances you encounter on a daily basis – using a microwave, adjusting the thermostat in your home, or buying a snack from the office vending machine. Now, imagine trying to operate any of these if you were blind. Impossible? Anhong Guo, Ph.D. student in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII), is turning this into a reality with the development of an interactive screen reader called VizLens. Windows 10 build 15025 brings braille support for Narrator Microsoft is excited to announce braille support for Narrator. This experience is currently in beta. So try it out and give feedback! In order to use braille with Narrator, you will need to do the following: • Ensure Narrator is running. Then go to Settings > Ease of Access (WIN + U) and under the Narrator settings, activate the “Download Braille” button. You will be prompted to install braille support. • Under Settings > Ease of Access, activate the “Enable braille” button and add a braille display. Note that USB and serial connections for the display are supported. • Under Settings > Ease of Access, choose the language and braille table you want to use. Note detailed documentation about braille display key mappings will be made available in the Narrator User Guide closer to when the Windows 10 Creators Update is released. NOTE: There are coexistence issues with braille support and third party screen readers. Until the documentation is available, we recommend that braille be enabled for Narrator only on PCs that do not also have a third-party screen reader configured to use a braille display. New mono audio option in Ease of Access settings Visually impaired users use a screen reader application to read the PC screen content and information to them, and frequently use headphones or earbuds to hear the computer when in meetings or having conversations with others. When doing so, they generally use only one earbud to hear the PC in one ear so the other ear is free to hear conversations and sounds around them. That can cause them to not hear sounds that may be directed to the other earbud. In order to change the sound to be mono mode and so all audio is directed to both ears, they used to need a physical earphone adapter. You can now switch your audio to mono straight from the new Audio section under Settings > Ease of Access > Other options. A new startup, Innovision, has recognized to problem that exists for those who are blind Although voice feedback is convenient, and it opens many opportunities, it doesn’t promote literacy. Blind people need access to braille material, and current pricing on braille displays keeps most people from being able to access the printed word, especially in developing countries. Innovision has created the BrailleMe, which is a simple braille display that plugs directly into your phone or computer. It also has Bluetooth capabilities. Cool Picks: MediGuard provides you with easy to understand health information, safety alerts & recalls and drug interactions. Office Lens is like having a scanner in your pocket. Like magic, it will digitize notes on whiteboards or blackboards. Always find important documents or business cards. Sketch your ideas and snap a picture for later. Don't lose receipts or stray sticky notes again! BBE 882i Sonic Maximizer

Cool Picks: February 5, 2017  

Join Jessica Rickards and James Oates for another exciting Cool Picks as they discuss some of their favourite technology. Cool Picks: Braigo Companion by Braigo Labs, LLC ETI Eloquence for Windows Please feel free to leave feedback about your own accessible voting experiences, or how you've handled voting, whether you're from the U.S. or other another country.

Accessible Way to Take a Selfie Using TalkBack and Android Nougat 7.1.  

In this episode, James Oates shows off a new accessibility feature which allows anyone using an Android phone running Nougat 7.1 or higher. If you open the camera app, and you have Talkback 5.1 or higher running, Talkback will automatically give feedback concerning how many people are in the frame, if the faces are centered, and what percentage of the screen is occupied by the face or faces. This is a great way for a person who is blind to take selfies and capture important moments. James also shows us how to give the photo a description, and share it to social media, cloud drive services, or by email.

VIP: Accessible Voting Empowers Blind People  

Join Jessica Rickards and James Oates for another exciting VIP as they discuss accessible voting in the United States. Here's a look at what you can expect: Accessible Voting in Texas Accessible voting in Brevard County Florida Instructional Video for Florida Poll Werkers S-Automark Voting Machine Cool Picks: Braigo Companion by Braigo Labs, LLC ETI Eloquence for Windows Please feel free to leave feedback about your own accessible voting experiences, or how you've handled voting, whether you're from the U.S. or other another country.

Cool Picks: January 28, 2017  

Join hosts Joel Ramos, James Oates and Jessica Rickards as they discuss their Cool Picks. Not a week goes by that we don't bring you "Cool Picks" that we use on a daily basis: The UberEats app comes in handy when you just got to have that burger. Make sure to listen to catch Jessica's favorite orders on the app. It's available for both Android and iOS. Planning on upgrading to a new phone or simply want to make sure you don't lose all those important contacts on your smart phone? Then you definitely want to check out James' recommendation of the "My Contacts Backup" app for iOS. If you find that you are the forgetful type or know someone that leaves something behind everywhere you go. Then you are going to enjoy Joel's suggestion of the "Don't Leave It" app for iOS

Spotlight On TellMe TV: A Futuristic Approach To Described Television  

Join Jessica Rickards along with TellMe TV CEO, Kevin Shaw, for this spotlight on TellMe TV. Gone is the old name and website for this fantastic audio description service, and what has replaced it is a more streamline, futuristic site with greater mobile device integration and app support. If you would like to try out this incredible service, TellMe TV is offering a special promotion just for our listeners. If you would like to start a free trial of TellMe TV, enter promo code TELLME17 when you sign up and you'll receive 3 months free. If you'd like to keep up to date with what's happening at TellMe TV, you can follow TellMe TV on Twitter, connect with TellMe TV on Facebook, or

VIP: How Dare You Call Your Virtual Assistant That!  

This week's episode of VIP has plenty of surprises and interesting information. Join hosts Joel Ramos, James Oates and Jessica Rickards as they discuss the happenings in the world of accessible technology. This week's first surprise has nothing to do with tech but will leave plenty of the guys heartbroken. You've been warned! This week's topics include the following: The future of care for the elderly is here with the latest robot prototype from IBM and Rice University. Listen to find out how IBM Mera can impact the elderly who wish to live a more independent life. The battle to see which company can get its virtual assistant on the most devices continues. This week Vizio and LG both announce that they will now work with the Google Home Assistant. The team take a quick poll to see which one they use the most. Were you one of the many who didn't upgrade your MacBook Pro last October when Apple announced its latest computers? Check out the latest rumors to see what Apple plans to release later this year. Is it too late or not? Not a week goes by that we don't bring you "Cool Picks" that we use on a daily basis: The UberEats app comes in handy when you just got to have that burger. Make sure to listen to catch Jessica's favorite orders on the app. It's available for both Android and iOS. Planning on upgrading to a new phone or simply want to make sure you don't lose all those important contacts on your smart phone? Then you definitely want to check out James' recommendation of the "My Contacts Backup" app for iOS. If you find that you are the forgetful type or know someone that leaves something behind everywhere you go. Then you are going to enjoy Joel's suggestion of the "Don't Leave It" app for iOS

See the Future: Installing Windows 10 with Speech Using Only Microsoft Media  

Microsoft has finally done it! They've allowed you to install Windows with speech as soon as you boot up the Windows 10 DVD or USB stick. This is supposed to come out in April, but I'm playing around with Insider Preview build 15002, and, for the most part, it works! Here is what I call my quick-and-dirty demonstration of installing Windows 10 on my Acer laptop. This was done on January 22, But, I think it'll give you a glimpse of what it can be like to install Windows 10 with speech.

Unboxing and Setting Up the Google Pixel Using TalkBack.  

In this episode, James Oates gets out of his comfort zone, and tries out his first ever Android phone. He describes the Pixel, shows us how to start TalkBack, navigates through the TalkBack tutorial, and shows us how to setup the phone.

Cool Picks- January 21, 2017  

Join Joel Ramos, Nelson Régo and guest host Hugo Gallegos as they discuss their latest Cool Picks. Cool Picks: Virtual assistants are everywhere now and Microsoft's very own Cortana is still a great option to use for reminders, information and good old fashioned fun. FreshBooks is Small Business Accounting Software That Makes Billing Painless. Struggling with swapping SIM cards between two phones? The Digits Program from T-Mobile may be something you'll want to take a look at on this week's show.

Alexa is on Fire!  

Amazon’s virtual assistant was first introduced on the Echo, as well as the Echo dot. It only made sense that Alexa would eventually expand onto the rest of Amazon’s devices. If you own any of the new fire tablets including the fifth generation—or the hd tablets, you have access to Alexa, including her skills! In this podcast, Leo demonstrates several ways to interact with the virtual assistant on the Fire tablet. Keep in mind that your tablet will need to run the latest version of Fire OS. What do you think of Alexa on Fire tablets? Let us know in the comments!

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