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Blind Access Journal Posts

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 website works best with browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari on computers. The mobile 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

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

Important: Blind Students Needed to Test E-Books at the 2011 NFB Convention!

June 15, 2011 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Dear students,

Pearson, one of the leading college textbook publishers, has set up a special session at the NFB national convention to get feedback from blind students regarding the accessibility of a new math workbook they are developing. They would like to get 15 students to meet with them during this session, and so far, only four have signed up. We would really like to support Pearson in their initiative to make online learning materials accessible. Please help us out by signing up for this session on Thursday, July 7, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. If you have any free time between 7 and 9 on Thursday, even if it’s not the whole two hours, please let me know-we may be able to work around your schedules so we can get as many student participants as possible.

If you would like to help with the testing, please email me as soon as possible at nabs (dot) president (at) gmail (dot) com so I can give your name to Clara at the national center. Thanks in advance for your help in improving accessibility for blind students.

Arielle Silverman, President
National Association of Blind Students

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

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

April 17 Conference Call for Blind Students: Making Bookshare Work for You!

April 14, 2011 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Bookshare is an online digital library that is free for students in the United States.

High school, college, and graduate students all find the collection to be an indispensible resource when it comes to finding the books they need for schoolwork and for pleasure reading.

Join the conversation with Allison Hilliker, Bookshare Collection Development Associate and Cherie Miller, Bookshare’s University Program Manager. We will be taking your questions live throughout the discussion. There is no need to pre-register for the event, just call in and join us.

  • April 17, 2011, 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm PST
  • Phone number to call: 866-210-1669.
  • Pass code: 6567672

During this discussion you will learn:

  • What Bookshare is and how you can become a member
  • How Bookshare can make your school work and pleasure reading much easier
  • About our new Read2Go app; an app specifically designed for Apple iOS that will allow for quick download and easy reading of Bookshare books on the iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone
  • How to use Bookshare most efficiently and effectively with your notetaker or digital book player.

We look forward to talking with you on April 17!

Freedom Scientific Acquires Blind Access Journal

April 1, 2011 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

In a move that is sure to surprise the blindness assistive technology industry, Freedom Scientific has just announced that it has purchased the popular accessibility evangelism website for $100,000 from its publisher, Darrell Shandrow.

Freedom Scientific representatives said this move puts the company on a par with other assistive technology companies like Serotek that also have recognized media outlets in the blind community.

“We’re excited to have Blind Access Journal on board with us,” said Jonathan Mosen, Freedom Scientific’s vice president of hardware development. “We know Darrell will put his passion for accessibility evangelism into his new role as our director of public relations, where he will be an excellent advocate for the use of our products as a means to make accessibility happen.”

“It was a very hard sell! After intensive negotiations concerning the content that will be permitted on the site, I must say I am honored to become part of the company in the industry with the largest screen-reader market share,” said the journal’s publisher, Darrell Shandrow. “I know that only JAWS can truly provide the level of accessibility we as blind people need now and well into the future.”

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