Monday, 29 July 2013

Talking Tech for July 30 2013

A sneak peak at Firefox OS Accessibility from Marco's blog:


With the official release of Firefox OS early in July 2013 in Madrid, Spain:


the development work on accessibility looks promising, now e have iOS, Android, Chrome OS, Microsoft Surface RT (guess we can still count this), and eventually FireFox OS.  Be nice to know where Windows phone is in all of this: i.e. screen reading.


The thing a like about the potential of Firefox OS, is that it will run on low end devices which seems to be the base test bed.


Hopefully the gossip about Apple releasing a cheap iPhone will prove to be true later on this year.


Using your EyeSight camera on your Macbook or iMac to directly add iTunes gift card codes to your iTunes account now available in Australia:


This functionality has been available for a while in the US, but I stumbled across this on the weekend.


When you go to redeem iTunes gift codes, after you put in your Apple ID, you can select the Camera button, hold the iTunes gift card up in front of your EyeSight camera (after you have peeled the sticker off), it takes the code off the card, and adds  it to your AppleID and tells you the amount that has been credited (of course the speaking is done if your running VoiceOver which reds it off the screen smile).


No more having to ask folks to read the code for you.


5 ways to improve Wi-Fi coverage at home:


I think my take away tips for increasing your wi-fi tips at home is to try and have the wireless router in the middle of your home, up towards the ceiling away from furniture, and make sure its not being interfered with by telephone portable base stations.


6 ways to toddler ((or  children in general) proof your gadgets


Main take away points for me were: cover your power points, cover the points in the power board itself, have a rugged case on your smartphone or tablet, and have a pin number to stop purchase's or viewing content that is not appropriate.

13 gadget sounds that you don't hear any more


Out of these 13 sounds identified in this article, these were my favourite:


Dot Matrix Printer: 


Floppy Disk Drive:


Dialup Modem Hand Shake:


Rotary Phone Dialing:

Monday, 22 July 2013

Talking Tech for July 23 2013

Assistive Technology Distributors in Australia


With the Vision Australia Texpo coming up at the end of August and early/mid September, I thought it was a good time to revisit what assistive technology suppliers are available in Australia.


Following is a list of suppliers, key products, and their associated websites.


As always, for more information on Assistive Technology, please contact the Vision Australia Adaptive Technology Help Desk on 1300 847 466 or email


Equipment Solutions (Vision Australia)


Equipment Solutions, Vision Australia, has a wide range of lo-tech and hi-tech products. Featured products for Texpo

Zoomax video magnifiers: including the Aurora, Snow and Butterfly.
Pocket LED sliding magnifier.
Hannover Instant Kettle ñ no noise or exposure to boiling water until it pours into your cup at the push of a button.
Foldi rechargeable lamp.
Meteor vibrating watch ñ a unique way of telling the time by vibration. Very easy to use.


Australian Independence Products (previously Micro Marvellous)


Australian Independence Products has a range of Australian made products for people who are blind or have low vision.
Video Magnifiers: The Colourama-5; low-cost Optima.
The T1- Talking interface which is a universal electronics interface with speech adaptor attached, for use with equipment such as telephones, exercise bicycles, blood glucose meters, to name but a few.
Computer access: CATS (The complete affordable talking system) which is a talking computer that uses Australian voice and performs various diary and tutor functions.




Humanware has developed assistive technologies for the print disabled and vision impaired.
Feature product at Texpo: Prodigi ñ a tablet and desktop video magnifier in one.
Video magnifiers: Smartview Synergy; the Smartview 360 and the Graduate. Handheld video magnifier: Versa.
Computer access: ZoomText screen magnification. Magnifies all content on the computer screen.
DAISY Digital talking book players: Victor Reader Stream, the Victor Reader Stratus
Talking GPS: Trekker Breeze GPS which is an all in one handling device that verbally announces names of streets, intersections and landmarks as you walk.
Braille notetakers: BrailleNote Apex
Braille Displays: Brailliant - using a computer with braille.


Lions Visual Independence


Lions Visual Independence distributors of the talking bar code scanner: ID Mate Summit.
ID mate Summit is a portable ìall-in-oneî talking bar code scanner that aids visually or print impaired individuals with the identification of items via the productís bar code. Using text-to-speech and digital voice recording technologies, it allows users to access an on-board database of product descriptions, along with a tailored set of recorded voice messages. With ID mate Quest, the user can quickly add additional voice recorded information to existing products or to items not found in the database. Additional bar code labels are available to label any product or item that does not already have a bar code. Adhesive, tag, and clothing labels can be placed on nearly anything. Simply scan the bar code and add a voice recording.




NVAccess home of the free Non Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) screen reader for Windows.
NVDA software enables blind and vision impaired people to use a computer by communicating what is on the screen using a synthetic voice or braille display, and can be installed on a PC or on portable media (such as a USB stick).


Optek Systems


Optek Systems has a range of blindness and low vision products, including:
UltraCane ñ a white cane that incorporates ultrasonic sensors so that it vibrates when obstacles are ahead.
ëThe Flickí is a new concept in accessing print documents, that can be used with laptop, desktop and tablet computers. The movement of the camera is controlled by the mouse, or the touchpad, or by finger gestures on a tablet. Flick can recognise any text that is displayed for viewing and can also speak the text.
Plus Aladdin and Visio range of desktop video magnifiers.


Pacific Vision Australia


Pacific Vision has a range of blindness and low vision products including:
Portable and handheld video magnifiers such as Ruby, Ruby XL, Candy, Sapphire and Senseview Light
Video magnifiers: Topaz; Magnilink Student Addition CCTV and Onyx Deskset.
Computer access: ZoomText and MAGic screen magnification (including for Mac).
Braille notetakers and displays: Braille Sense U2, Voice Sense, Braille Sense OnHand, Braille Edge,
Note - Pacific vision does the low vision products for FreedomScientific.




Pentronics master distributor for index (embossers), repair of assistive technology, Perkins Brailler servicing, and Braille transcription (music scores in to Braille).


Quantum RLV


Quantum RLV offers a full range of products for low vision and blindness. Quantum RLV is renowned for the Mountbatten brailler, the JAWS software screen reader and the MAGIC screen magnification.
Handheld video magnifiers: Max lupe, Compact, and Compact 5HD
Desktop video magnifiers: Clearview range plus Multiview and Twinview.
Computer connectable video magnifiers: Zoom-ex, Zoom-twix and Eye Pal
Stand alone scanner readers such as the Pearl.
Portable Audio Devices such as the Platon speaking scientific calculator, Olympus DM-5 and Plextalk Pocket.
Braille notetakers and displays: Focus Blue and Pac Mate
Note - Quantum does blindness products from Freedomscientific.




Spectronics offers a range of assistive technology software and hardware across a wide range of disability groups, assessment services, and conduct various workshops.


Visitech Magnifiers


Visitech Magnifiers promotes a large range of Magnifiers to aid low vision.

It carries the Merlin Elite range which are performance desktop video magnifiers featuring HD and text to speech.
Acrobat transportable video magnifier used for seeing yourself up close, reading and viewing things at a distance.
Merlin is a desktop unit designed for fixed locations, reading and writing.
Pebble and mini Pebble are hand held video magnifiers for home or office use.


Currently no website.


Phone: (02) 49 71 5581.



Website for enhanced Vision:



Apple's Startup Chimes by pokeeto2 Youtube user

These Mac startup sounds were great to revisit.


I'm not sure, but the first startup sound sounded like the Mac Se I used in 1990 at then the Royal Blind Society of NSW (RBS) now Vision Australia with Outspoken for the Mac System 6.07.



Macbook Air (mid 2013) software update 1.0

If your lucky like me and have the latest Macbook air to come out in mid 2013, there is a software update which fix's volume fluctuations (which I experienced with VoiceOver), WiFi dropouts, and screen flickering in Adobe Photoshop.


If you check software updates on your mid 2013 Macbook air, you should find this update or you can download it from the Apple support page at:


since I did the update, I'm certainly no longer getting VoiceOver dropping its volume for no apparent reason.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Wireless audio streaming around your house

I decided in the last week or so to re-install Airfoil from


on my Mac.


Airfoil allows you to stream audio from your Mac (such as iTunes, ReadHear etc) to multiple Airplay devices on the same wifi network.  You can select various audio application sources, control which speaker is on/off (including the Mac itself), and control each speakers volume.


In addition, if you install


from the iOS store on to your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad/iPad mini, the speakers app, turns the iOS device in to another Airplay device.


In my current setup, I can now stream audio to:

My Apple TV


AQAudio smart speaker


iPad mini


With the addition of the Airfoil remote app from the iOS app store


On my iPod touch


I can control all the Airplay speakers that Airfoil on the Mac is accessing without having to go back to the Mac/the Airfoil application itself.


Now I have pretty much audio streaming capability throughout the house or when outside, I just run the Airfoil speaker app on my iPhone which is in my pocket most of the time.


You certainly don't need any "real" Airplay devices if you want to stream audio around your house.  If you have a few old iOS devices, just install the Remote Speaker app on them, join them to your wifi network, install Airfoil on the Mac (or PC), deploy the iOS/Airplay speakers throughout your house, and stream to your hearts content.


Really does work, and its not that expensive, particularly if you have a few iOS devices laying around.

Sydney Apple Store - built-in accessibility introductory workshops for August

Throughout August, the Apple Store, Sydney, will be running regular workshops on the built-in accessibility features on the Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
To register for a workshop, email:
and specify the workshop topic, date and names of attendee(s).
Please note that the workshops are free and limited to 5 people per workshop.
for more store details.

Workshop sessions:

Accessibility for the blind and vision impaired on iOS:

Friday 2 August at 10am - 11:30am
Monday 12 August at 10am - 11:30am
Saturday 24 August at 10am - 11:30am
Accessibility for the blind and vision impaired on Mac

Tuesday 6 August at 10am - 11:30am
Sunday 18 August at 10am - 11:30am

Accessibility for hearing disabilities on iOS
Monday 5 August at 10am - 11:30am

Wednesday 14 August at 10am - 11:30am

Accessibility for hearing disabilities on Mac

Thursday 8 August at 10am - 11:30am
Monday 19 August at 10am - 11:30am
Tuesday 27 August at 10am - 11:30am

Accessibility for physical and motor skills on iOS and Mac

Saturday 10 August at 10am - 11:30am
Wednesday 21 August at 10am - 11:30am
Friday 30 August at 10am - 11:30am

Monday, 15 July 2013

Talking Tech for July 16 2013

Just two Apple jokes which are sort of funny


A person farts in an Apple Store, customers are outraged as it stinks the whole store, person just says "It's not my fault there are no Windows".


If you thought that one was bad, this next one is probably worse.


Why did the Storm Trooper grab an iPhone? because he couldn't find a suitable droid.


Ok end of jokes.


SocialEyes from GWMicro is now available for ordering from the GWMicro online Store


This is the accessible application which interfaces with Facebook, and gives screen reader users great accessibility to Facebook functions.


Actually purchased the one year subscription to run on my Windows 7 laptop, and it does work really well: was able to check my messages and follow requests quite easily.


Microsoft drops the prices on the Surface RT from All Things D


Remember, this is the model that can not run standard Windows applications including screen readers (that is the Surface pro).  According to this article, Microsoft is finding it hard to sell the Surface RT's, and is hoping that a price drop up to 30 percent will help.


Access All Areas (IOS and Android app)


Description from the iOS App Store:


This app is a response to the access issues that many Australians face every day. By reporting these issues you can help us keep access on the agenda.

Reports are sent using your email address to the Australian Greens Disability Issues spokesperson who will use this information to lobby for improvements to disability access. Information will be collated into a report to Ministers responsible for Disability Issues.

Reports are compiled and can be viewed at:


Link to the iOS app store to download the free app:


Link to the Google Play Store:


How to clean Apple products


Although the following info concerns Apple products, it is a good reminder on how to clean desktop, mobile, keyboard and mice.


The following link contains information on how to clean your Apple OS X computer, iOS device or display:


This link gives you further information on how to clean your internal or external Apple keyboard, trackpad or mouse.


Innovative watch helps you feel what time it is (KickStarter) - from Mashable


This KickStarter project still has a way to run, but already it has far exceeded the minimum amount, and it just sounds nifty.

 This watch is designed to help wearers — including the blind and visually impaired — tell time through touch rather than sight.


Instead of traditional watch hands, time on "The Bradley" is indicated by two ball bearings: one on the top denoting minutes, and another on the side denoting hours.


10 milestones in the main streaming of accessibility from Dr Scott Hollier - from .net magazine


Always interesting to look back from where we have come from.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Talking Tech for July 8 2013

Vision Australia's Technology exhibition (Texpo) 2013


Just a reminder that the Vision Australia Texpo is coming up again in August/September 2013 held at the Vision Australia office's in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.


Dates are:

Coorparoo (Brisbane) - Friday the 30th and Saturday  the 31st of August 10am to 4pm both days.

Kooyong (Melbourne) -  Friday the 6th and Saturday  the 7th of September 10am to 4pm both days.

Enfield (Sydney) - Friday the 13th and Saturday  the 14th of September 10am to 4pm both days.

As usual there will be lots of suppliers, and a number of workshops including: Digital Access (Tablets and Smartphones, Q&A panel (a chance to ask the experts), etc.

We are also trying out the use of QR codes to give those that have SmartPhones access to dynamic information.

For more information about Vision Australia Texpo, please use the following link:


AFB AccessWorld July 2013 edition


In the July edition of the AFB AccessWorld 2013, major topics included: a review of the screen enhancement features in Android 4.2.2: review of TapTapSee, CamFind and Talking Goggles object identification apps for iOS: working with text on the Mac: an update to AccessNote: and other articles.


This is the back to school edition for AFB AccessWorld, which is odd for us folks in Australia since we don't start our new school year until the beginning of 2014.


The following link will take you to the July AccessWorld edition:


revisiting HD voice - mobile voice calling technology


Sometimes I forget when I speak to another person using their iPhone 5, that we are using HD voice for our calls, which is a lot clearer than calling mobile phones that do not use this technology.


Quite a few smartphones (besides the iPhone 5) are using this technology.  As long as the mobile provider provides HD voice, there is nothing for you to do besides call another person using an HD voice compatible handset and enjoy the increased voice quality, and reduced background noise.


The link below is a presentation done by Telstra when HD voice first became available on the Telstra network, and gives a comparison of HD voice and non HD voice mobile phone calls: quite surprising the difference.


GW Micro announces SocialEyes


Gw Micro (the developer of the Window-Eyes screen reader for Windows), announced last week the upcoming release of SocialEyes: a Windows application to allow a screen reader user to access Facebook in an accessible manner which will work with Windows screen readers (not just Window-Eyes).


The service will cost $50 per year (with a $25 per year introductory offer when it becomes available).


GW Micro is taking pre-orders, and you can read more about it at:


GW Micro - GW Connect


Just a reminder that GW Micro has also developed another Windows application to allow screen reader users to use Skype via the fully accessible GW Connect application which supports the functionality of Skype.


Read more about GW Connect at:


Job Access work place funding scheme in Australia


In Australia, we have a Government service: Job Access: which provides equipment for people in the work place that require modifications or assistive technology.


I recently had a Job Access work place assessment, and thought I would share the 3 main items which I received via this scheme as I often get asked what type of assistive technology that I actually use myself.


Pearl - portable document reading solution from Freedom Scientific


Yes, I know, it's not an Apple product (smile).


I needed a quick and reliable portable OCR solution for my work Windows 7 laptop, and the Pearl digital document camera, and the OpenBook software fitted the bill extremely well.


Read more about the Pearl at:


Braille Sense U2 from HIMS


Yep, another non Apple product.


My Pac Mate from 2003 had finally given up a year or two ago, and I needed another Braille note taking solution which would also work with my iPhone, iPad, and Mac, of course, all using VoiceOver.


What attracted me to the Braille Sense u2 was it's access to Dropbox, Twitter, and Youtube.  In addition, in all the times I have assisted folks over the Help Desk in connecting the U2 to iOS and Mac, I have never had an issue.


Read more about the Braille Sense U2 at:



The New MacBook air with 12 hour battery life


Yes, an Apple product at last.


The main reason for getting the Mac air was to replace my own personal MacBook pro which I was using for doing presentations via the Apple TV, podcasting with Amadeus pro, and training folks on the use of VoiceOver on the Mac.  The weight reduction is great, and of course, the up to 12 hours battery life is absolutely fantastic: considering my MacBook pro was doing about 5 hours.


Read more about the new MacBook pro at:

Monday, 1 July 2013

Talking Tech for July 2 2013

The Reebok ZR10 treadmill


Every now and again I get asked about exercise equipment.  Well this time, I'm taking my own advice and went out last week end and purchased the Reebok ZR10 Treadmill.


It has lot's of physically accessible buttons, a screen of course, a 3.5mm cable to plug my iPhone in to, and it folds up.


I'm not actually getting it until August, but I have my favourite exercise iOS app lined up for it, Zombies, Run!: here is the description and link.


Zombies: Run!

Welcome to Season 2 of Zombies, Run!

You tie your shoes, put on your headphones, take your first steps outside. You’ve barely covered 100 yards when you hear them. They must be close. You can hear every guttural breath, every rattling groan - they’re everywhere. Zombies. There’s only one thing you can do: Run!

Zombies, Run! is an ultra-immersive running game and audio adventure, co-created with award-winning novelist Naomi Alderman. We deliver the story straight to your headphones through orders and voice recordings - and when you get back home, you use the supplies you’ve collected while running to build and grow your base.

BBC NEWS - “The only way to save yourself is to run for real.”
WIRED - “In the style of Runkeeper, with an exciting undead twist.”
LIFEHACKER - “A really cool way to get outside and exercise.”
CNN - “Turns exercise into a game - a terrifying, terrifying game.”
NPR - "It gets you moving!"
TIME.COM - "Takes all the fun of a zombie game and funnels it into a fitness app."

“Evaded all zombie mobs :-) One of my best sprints ever; this app works!”
“This game will make you sweat. Perfect junction between game design and run tracker.”
“Just tried @zombiesrungame and for the first time in my life I feel truly alive.”

Zombies, Run! works anywhere and at any speed. You can jog in a park, run along a beach, or walk along a trail. It even works on treadmills! 

Hundreds of lives are counting on you. You've got to rebuild your base from a few shivering survivors into a fortified beacon of civilization by collecting critical supplies and avoiding roving zombie hordes. Can you save them and learn the truth about the zombie apocalypse?

You become the hero in an epic story of humanity’s struggle for survival where your running *really* matters - and there’s a deeper mystery to be uncovered as well... This app includes all 26 missions from Season 1 as well as the first 7 missions from Season 2; and there'll be a further 60+ Season 2 missions released weekly and available for purchase! 

Choose your own custom playlists before you start running: the story unfolds in between your tracks through a series of dynamic radio messages and voice recordings.

With our optional ‘Zombie Chases’ mode, you’ll need to increase your speed and work up a sweat if you hear zombies on your tail. That’s right - we’ve made interval training *fun*!

Register with our free ZombieLink service to view and share your runs online, complete with maps, full run history, and the ability to ‘play back’ zombie chases so you can see how much faster you ran when the living dead were right behind you! Plus you can sync your runs with Runkeeper and export them as GPX files.

You automatically collect items like medicine, batteries, and ammo while running - but when you're back home, who needs them more: the soldiers or the doctors? Which buildings need extra defenses? It’s up to you - and the bigger your base, the more missions you can play.

- Requires iOS 6 or above. Works on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and iPod Touch 4th gen and 5th gen.
- Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life.
- Accelerometer mode can dramatically decrease battery life.!/id503519713?mt=8


I'll let you know how it all goes when it arrives.  Should be fun, and tiring (smile).


Solo-DX releases more audio description tracks


Found on Twitter today, that Solo-DX has released audio described tracks for the first 8 episodes of series 1: Start Trek: The Next Generation.  Looking forward to rediscovering these episodes with audio description.


MBraille - Braille keyboard for iOS (free version and paid $30)


Description and link of the new MBraille iOS Braille keyboard app.

MBraille brings you a mobile braille keyboard.

With the free features you can type, edit and send tweets using contracted or uncontracted English braille.*

With the pro version you can also use braille to

- send text messages
- send email
- do facebook status updates
- add calendar entries
- fire away internet search engine queries
- the text typed is automatically put to clipboard when you switch apps.

An experienced blind MBraille user can easily surpass the sighted typists using the build in virtual keyboard.

*uncontracted Braille is supported for Danish, Finnish, French, German, Norwegian and Swedish.


On the quest for a RSS reader for my iOS, OS X, and Android devices


With Google officially closing down Google Reader as of July 1, I'm now on a official quest to find an RSS reader that I can sync between all my different devices.


I've come across so far: Feed Wrangler: for which I used ReadKit on the Mac and the Feed Wrangler iOS app: seems pretty good so far.


Feed Wrangler web site:


Feed Wrangler iOS


ReadKit Mac


Using my Mac like my iPhone: turning on/off wifi and Bluetooth


When I fly, I have to put all of my iOS devices in airplane mode, now I can do the same with my Macbook pro.  With Airplane Setting, I can use it from the Extra's menu on my Mac to quickly toggle both wifi and Bluetooth off at the same time: no more fiddling with separate menus: very very nice.  Not to mention, it also saves on battery power when you don't need wifi or Bluetooth.


Airplane Setting


The first PDF reader for visually impaired people


I'm not exactly sure if its the first actual PDF reader for vision impaired folks, and I think its only for low vision, not people who are blind: at least it does not work with VoiceOver on the Mac.  I've put the link here in case anyone wants to try it out.  Works on both Mac and Windows.