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Talk and Drop: DropVox Voice Memo Recorder for iOS

February 7, 2012 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

In this approximately 14-minute podcast, Allison Hilliker and Darrell Shandrow demonstrate the DropVox voice memo recording app for iOS.

This show features a special surprise musical treat sung by Allison!

We love hearing from our listeners! Please feel free to talk with us in the comments. What do you like? How could we make the show better? What topics would you like us to cover on future shows?

If you use Twitter, let’s get connected! Please follow Allison (AlliTalk) and Darrell.

Categories: iPhone, podcast

Take Your Favorite Podcasts on the Road: Downcast for iOS

February 2, 2012 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

In this approximately 30-minute show, Allison Hilliker and Darrell Shandrow demonstrate searching for, subscribing to and playing podcasts using the Downcast app for iOS.

Downcast allows anyone with an iOS device to independently enjoy podcasts without having to connect to a computer and use iTunes to subscribe and synchronize the content.

All instructions assume VoiceOver is running on the iOS device.

Searching for Podcasts by Category

Follow these steps to browse and review podcasts by category. We use This Week in Tech as an example of a good technology show to consider adding.

  1. Make sure the Downcast app is open.
  2. Touch the bottom left corner of the screen to locate the Podcasts tab.
  3. Right flick twice and double tap the Add Podcasts tab.
  4. Tap the top of the screen once with four fingers to move to the upper left corner.
  5. Right flick to and double tap the Technology category.
  6. Right flick to and double tap This Week in Tech – MP3 Edition.
  7. Right flick to and double tap View Podcast Feed. Note the Subscribe button and other information available as you right flick across this screen.
  8. Right flick across the list of available podcast episodes and double tap one to start listening.
  9. Double tap with two fingers to pause playback.

Search for Podcasts Using Keywords

Follow these steps to search for podcasts by keyword. We like books, so that’s our keyword search example.

  1. If you were playing a podcast, double tap the Back button three times or use the two-finger right-to-left scrub gesture three times to return to the Add Podcasts screen.
  2. Right flick to and double tap Search for Podcasts.
  3. Type books into the search field.
  4. Double tap the Search button in the lower right corner of the screen.
  5. Tap the top of the screen once with four fingers to move to the upper left corner.
  6. Right flick to and double tap the Books on the Nightstand podcast in the list of search results.
  7. Right flick to and double tap the Subscribe button to add this podcast to your favorites.
  8. Double tap the Back button twice or use the two-finger right-to-left scrub gesture twice to return to the Add Podcasts screen.

When the podcast you want is not in Downcast’s directory, there are three ways to bring it into the app. We did not cover these advanced topics on the audio portion of our show.

Adding Podcasts from a Link on a Website

If a website has a link to an RSS feed for a podcast, you can browse to it using Safari on your iOS device and easily add it to Downcast by following these instructions. The podcast page on the GW Micro website serves as our example.

  1. Open Safari on your iOS device.
  2. Visit http://gwmicro.com/podcast
  3. Right flick to and double tap and hold on the link to the GW Micro – GW Insider Podcast Feed (XML).
  4. Right flick to and double tap the Copy button. This makes the link available to other apps such as Downcast.
  5. Open Downcast.
  6. Touch the bottom left corner of the screen to locate the Podcasts tab.
  7. Right flick twice and double tap the Add Podcasts tab.
  8. Tap the top of the screen once with four fingers to move to the upper left corner.
  9. Right flick to and double tap Add Podcast Manually.
  10. Right flick to and double tap the text edit field after the Feed or OPML Address heading.
  11. Select “Edit” using the rotor VoiceOver gesture.
  12. Flick down and double tap Paste. The URL copied from Safari now appears in the text edit field.
  13. If needed, enter the username and password under the Login Information, If Required heading. This will rarely be used. It is not needed for GW Micro podcasts.
  14. Find and double tap the Done button in the lower right corner of the screen.
  15. Tap the top of the screen once with four fingers to move to the upper left corner.
  16. Right flick to and double tap the Subscribe button to add the podcast.
  17. Double tap the Back button twice or use the two-finger right-to-left scrub gesture twice to return to the Add Podcasts screen.

Manually Adding Podcasts

Follow these steps when you know the URL of the RSS feed for the podcast you wish to add.

  1. If a Back button can be found near the upper left corner of the screen, double tap it as many times as necessary or use the two-finger right-to-left scrub gesture as many times as necessary to return to the app’s main screen. This will typically be Podcasts, Playlists, Add Podcasts or Downloads.
  2. Touch the bottom left corner of the screen to locate the Podcasts tab.
  3. Right flick twice and double tap the Add Podcasts tab.
  4. Tap the top of the screen once with four fingers to move to the upper left corner.
  5. Right flick to and double tap Add Podcast Manually.
  6. Right flick to and double tap the text edit field after the Feed or OPML Address heading.
  7. Enter the URL of the RSS feed exactly as it was given to you. Leave off the “http://” at the beginning.
  8. If needed, enter the username and password under the Login Information, If Required heading. This will rarely be used.
  9. Find and double tap the Done button in the lower right corner of the screen.
  10. Tap the top of the screen once with four fingers to move to the upper left corner.
  11. Right flick to and double tap the Subscribe button to add the podcast.
  12. Double tap the Back button twice or use the two-finger right-to-left scrub gesture twice to return to the Add Podcasts screen.

Adding Podcasts from an OPML File

Downcast can use OPML files to backup and restore the list of subscribed podcasts. This technique also allows users to bring in lists of podcasts from other apps and to share favorite podcasts.

Follow these steps to import a list of podcasts from an email.

  1. Open the Mail app on your iOS device.
  2. Open the email containing the OPML file attachment.
  3. Right flick through the message until you reach the name of the file. This may be something like podcasts.opml.
  4. Double tap the file’s name to open the attachment.
  5. Right flick to and double tap the Action button.
  6. Double tap Open in Downcast. The app will start dinging as it downloads the new podcasts.
  7. Double tap the Podcasts tab in the lower left corner of the screen to see the revised list of subscribed podcasts including those just added from the OPML file. Beware: Downcast imports everything found in the file without checking for duplicate entries.

Playing Podcasts

Now that you have subscribed to several podcasts, you’re probably anxious to start listening to them. Follow these instructions to get started.

  1. Double tap the Podcasts tab in the lower left corner of the screen.
  2. Right flick across the list of subscribed podcasts until you reach the show you would like to hear.
  3. Double tap the podcast to bring up the list of episodes.
  4. Right flick to and double tap an episode to start playing the audio. Each episode has two entries in the list. The first allows you to download or stream the audio and the second provides details. Double tap download or stream links to play podcast episodes.
    • The two-finger double tap gesture plays and pauses audio.
    • The Play button is found in the middle of the bottom third of the screen. It changes to a Pause button while audio is playing.
    • The Reverse button is located to the left of the Play button. Double tap it to move to the previous episode. Double tap and hold it to rewind in the currently playing episode.
    • The Forward button is located to the right of the Play button. Double tap it to move to the next episode. Double tap and hold it to fast forward within the currently playing episode.

There are many more features available in the podcast playback screen. For instance, we demonstrated the ability to increase playback speed in the audio portion of our show. We urge you to listen to the entire demo, get the app for yourself, explore and start enjoying podcast listening on your iOS device.

Additional Resources

Please feel free to give us your feedback in the comments. What do you like? How could we make the show better? What topics would you like us to cover on future shows?

If you use Twitter, let’s get connected! Please follow Allison (AlliTalk) and Darrell.

Categories: iPhone, podcast

Never Leave Home Without Your Books: Bookshare Read2Go for iOS

January 3, 2012 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

In this approximately 27-minute podcast, Allison Hilliker and Darrell Shandrow demonstrate finding, downloading and reading with Bookshare’s Read2Go iOS app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

We demonstrate reading with Read2Go’s built-in text-to-speech voices and VoiceOver while explaining the process in our typical step-by-step format.

Please feel free to give us your feedback in the comments. What do you like? How could we make the show better? What topics would you like us to cover on future shows?

Listen or Pause – Read2Go Demonstration

Download – Read2Go Demonstration

Categories: Bookshare, iPhone, podcast

Sticking On Labels: Making the GetGlue iOS App Accessible

November 27, 2011 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

In this approximately 45-minute podcast, Allison Hilliker and Darrell Shandrow use the new iOS 5 VoiceOver custom-labeling feature to make the GetGlue social-entertainment iOS app accessible. Join us to learn about an exciting, useful iOS feature and have some fun along the way.

Custom Labeling Step-By-Step

  1. Locate the unlabeled button by dragging your finger or flicking to it on the screen.
  2. Double tap with two fingers and hold them in place. This is also known as a two-finger double-tap-and-hold gesture. You will hear three tones followed by “Alert, label element, text field, is editing.”
  3. Type a short label for the button.
  4. Locate and double tap the Save button. It can be found above the keyboard on the left side of the screen.

In addition to making the controls in an app accessible, the custom-labeling feature can be used to describe pictures in other contexts, such as the photos in your iPhone’s camera roll.

Allison asked an excellent question: Are custom labels backed up to iCloud or iTunes? Please feel free to answer in the comments.

GetGlue Information

GetGlue is a Foursquare-like social network for entertainment. It is available on smartphones and the Web. You can check into your favorite books, movies, music, TV shows and much more and share information about all the fun you’re having with your friends. The primary GetGlue.com website works best with browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari on computers. The mobile m.getglue.com website is intended for use with smartphones. It may be a more accessible alternative to the primary site for some computer users.

Tip from Allison: I recommend signing up on the GetGlue website before logging in with the iOS app.

There are two ways to get started:

We’d Love To Hear From You!

Do you like the show? What would you like us to cover next? Please give us your feedback in the comments.

Listen or Pause – Custom Labeling Demo

Download – Custom Labeling Demo

New Blio for iOS app: A Brief Demo

July 14, 2011 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

This approximately 18-minute podcast represents a brief run-through of the new Blio ebook reading app for iOS developed by KNFB Reading Technology, Inc.

While the Blio app is VoiceOver accessible, I have reached the following observations, which are clearly demonstrated in the podcast:

  • The app is sloppy and clearly not ready for primetime. I’m surprised Apple approved it in its current form.
  • The Blio reading experience is unsatisfying.
  • Blio for iOS lacks important navigation, such as lines, sentences and paragraphs, one might expect while reading books.
  • Finally, the app lacks a help section or tutorial page.

Listen or Pause – Brief Blio Demo

Download – Brief Blio Demo

Categories: accessibility, podcast

Updated SoundHound App Restores VoiceOver Accessibility

June 19, 2011 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

SoundHound restored VoiceOver accessibility for its blind customers in the app’s June 16 version 3.6.3 update. This approximately 14-minute podcast demonstrates the improved navigation and reading of music identification results.

The update represents a significant move in the right direction. While all information is now available by flicking through the results window, its unstructured layout could cause confusion. It is not immediately apparent which field represents a song’s artist and its title. Labeling of fields and use of VoiceOver hints would significantly increase readability.

We thank SoundHound for its responsiveness and look forward to future accessibility enhancements.

Listen or Pause – SoundHound Accessibility Update

Download – SoundHound Accessibility Update

Categories: accessibility, iPhone, podcast

VizWiz: A Wizard to Help in the Kitchen

May 31, 2011 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

In this approximately 30-minute podcast, I demonstrate the use of the VizWiz remote-assistance iOS app to successfully identify items in the kitchen. This podcast is meant as a preliminary effort to demonstrate practical real-world VizWiz applications for blind and visually-impaired people. Please stay tuned for additional coverage of this amazing free app.

Listen or Pause – VizWiz

Download – VizWiz

Categories: iPhone, podcast

SoundHound Asked to Roll Back Accessibility Declines and Open the App’s Ears to Blind VoiceOver Users

May 17, 2011 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

This is a collaboration effort between No Eyes Needed and Blind Access Journal, two leaders in blindness advocacy and the mobilization of efforts to improve accessibility in mainstream products, services and resources. Our goal today is to share insight on the current state of accessibility within the popular iOS music identification app, Soundhound. We will give you a brief rundown of Soundhound’s history pertaining to access with Apple’s built-in, screen reading solution, Voiceover, as well as a short audio walkthrough of the application’s interface and inaccessible components from a blindness perspective. The application was once a tremendously beneficial resource with nearly 100% accessibility for Voiceover users. It is our hope with this article and audio demonstration that we can illustrate the decline in access and some areas that the Soundhound development and engineering teams can address as soon as possible. Finish reading SoundHound Asked to Roll Back Accessibility Declines and Open the App’s Ears to Blind VoiceOver Users

Fixing the Broken Table Index on iOS Using the Rotor

May 4, 2011 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Have you suddenly discovered you can no longer use the “table index” feature of your iDevice to navigate large lists like contacts and music alphabetically? The rotor gesture may be the culprit. Follow these written steps or listen to the podcast to learn how you can easily fix this issue.

Open the Contacts App

If you have not customized your iDevice by moving your apps into folders, follow the steps below to locate and start the Contacts app. If you customized the Home screen, locate and start Contacts in the folder it has been assigned.

  1. Press the Home button to make sure you are on the Home screen.
  2. Flick to the right until you find “Page 1 of 2” or a similar icon and double tap to move to the second page of apps.
  3. Flick to the right until you find Contacts and double tap.

Locating and Testing the Table Index

  1. Make sure you are in the list of contacts by flicking to the right a few times. If not, find and double tap the Back button in the upper left-hand corner of the screen just below the status bar.
  2. Place a finger on the right edge of the screen about halfway down. VoiceOver should say “table index.”
  3. Flick down a few times. If you hear the letters of the alphabet in ascending order, the table index is working correctly. If not, you will hear the words “table index” spelled as you flick down.

Using the Rotor Gesture

If the table index feature is not working, it is very likely the rotor gesture was accidentally used to change its behavior. Follow these steps to set the rotor to “adjust value,” which will fix the table index. Please note these steps are just one of several possible ways to learn and use the rotor gesture. Please email me if you continue experiencing difficulties performing this gesture correctly.

  1. Place your middle and index fingers on the screen.
  2. Move upward and to the right with your middle finger while your index finger moves down and to the left. This is known as a dial movement, which will adjust the rotor clockwise one position.
  3. Repeat the rotor gesture as you move through “words”, “lines,” “language,” etc. Stop when you reach the “adjust value” setting.

Test the table index feature in several apps. You should find it allows you to move alphabetically through your list of contacts, artists and song titles in your music library and in a number of other situations where you have large lists.

As always, your feedback is appreciated so I may improve the content and quality of my work. Please contact me using the previously given email address.

Listen or Pause – Fix Broken Table Index

Download – Fix Broken Table Index

Categories: iPhone, podcast

CSUN: Braille 2000 and Accidental Accessibility

March 28, 2011 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

I had an enlightening conversation with Dr. Robert Stepp, where I learned that the Braille 2000 translation software for transcribers is accidentally accessible but not marketed for use by blind people. I think we ended on a positive note, and I hope many of you will find this an interesting look at how some small companies in our own field employ many of the same arguments as the mainstream technology industry to explain why they are not fully accessible.

Listen or Pause – Braille 2000

Download – Braille 2000