Access Technology Blog

Welcome to our Access Technology Blog section! The NFB Jernigan Institute Access Technology team is always on the lookout for new and better ways to give blind people access to technology, as the ever-growing International Braille and Technology Center attests. In these tips we want to share some of the pointers manufacturers and developers share with us to help you learn about new applications and new programs, and to help you find new functionality in familiar products. The Access Technology team works with the relevant manufacturers and developers to obtain the tips listed here, to make sure that you get the best and latest about anything new in the world of non-visual access technology.

 

If you have any feedback please contact Clara Van Gerven at cvangerven@nfb.org.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day Post Three: Describe It Well to Help Your Users Get the Picture

Blog Date: 
Thursday, May 21, 2015

Blind users are reliant on textual description of most electronic content. Whether they are using a Braille display or a speech synthesizer, the content they review from documents and websites comes in the form of text.  As we all know, the web and many documents are built with a great amount of graphical material.  With the following tips, however, you can ensure that your content can be enjoyed by blind visitors as well.  

Global Accessibility Awareness Day Post Four: … But We Just Got Started

Blog Date: 
Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and as Global Accessibility Awareness Day draws to a close, we will leave you, with our:

Design Considerations

Document accessibility involves a number of different factors. Choices made to improve the visual appearance of a project may hinder or enhance readability for all users. Furthermore, access to documents encompasses word choice and sentence structure. Finally, it comes down to checking your work to ensure that the document you have created is meeting the needs it was created to fulfill. The below guidelines are a sample of the types of things that should be considered when creating a document, that were not covered in other sections of this article.

The Sighted Guide to VoiceOver

Blog Date: 
Friday, May 1, 2015

By Clara Van Gerven

Recently, I decided to turn my iPhone screen off, and use only VoiceOver at work for forty days. As the longtime lone sighted person on a team of blind access technology specialists, I will never have the same everyday user familiarity with JAWS or VoiceOver as my blind colleagues, but I strive for as much knowledge of any of these as possible. I’ve read a number of articles from mainstream journalists about accessibility. Some are good; but the majority miss the finer points (and sometimes the not-so-fine points) of how the technology works. Worse, they often miss how blind people operate. Ironically, the most common mistaken assumption is that blind people are somehow different from sighted ones; that they somehow have different needs, different hearing, different lives, and a lot more patience.

Drafts – Flexible, Accessible, and Fun Text Editor for iOS

Blog Date: 
Friday, May 1, 2015

By Amy Mason

Hey everybody, did you miss me?
?  *crickets chirp*

Ok, I’ll take that as a yes.  Anyhow, we’ve been very busy on the access technology team lately. With meetings to attend, projects to complete, and IBTC tours to provide, I have found it increasingly necessary to pull together a portable toolbox that will help me make sure I don’t miss something critical, (or interesting). Calendars, to do lists, organizers, e-mail, and notetaking solutions are all required tools to keep me focused and working toward my ultimate goal… world domination… er.. no.. I meant assisting in the effort to expand non-visual access to technology.  

3D Printing Tactile Graphics 101

Blog Date: 
Thursday, April 16, 2015

By Clara Van Gerven

National Federation of the Blind Indoor Navigation Challenge

Blog Date: 
Friday, March 27, 2015

The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute is the premier research and training institute that applies the collective knowledge and life experience of the blind to the development of innovative solutions to the barriers faced by blind people. We are designing the National Federation of the Blind Indoor Navigation Challenge to combine our expertise and experience with that of other technology and research professionals to partner in the development of universally designed access tools and strategies that enhance independent travel for the blind.  Blind people effectively use tools and strategies like white canes, guide dogs, mental mapping, echolocation, and problem-solving skills to acquire and use environmental information to travel safely and independently outdoors and indoors.

Cosmo Brailler and BERT Software Overview

Blog Date: 
Thursday, February 19, 2015

By Karl Belanger

The Cosmo Electronic Brailler and BERT (Braille Education Remote Training) software are produced and sold by Electronic Brailler LLC. The Cosmo is a Braille writer with several electronic functions, including acting as an input keyboard and embosser for the Duxbury Braille Translator, and working in conjunction with the BERT software. BERT is an online tool, also from Electronic Braillerthat allows a teacher to teach up to 15 students simultaneously over the internet. Teachers can have class discussions by the teacher typing into the computer using six-key entry, and the text will be Brailled on the students’ Cosmo. The software also allows the uploading and completion of assignments, which can then be archived for future reference.

 

VarioUltra Overview

Blog Date: 
Monday, February 2, 2015

By Karl Belanger

The VarioUltra is the latest Braille display from Baum. It comes in both 20 and 40-cell models, for $2,395 and $3,995 respectively. The 20-cell model will be reviewed here. The VarioUltra is a slim, well-built display that also has the ability to function as a basic notetaker on its own. The included applications include a word processor, PDF viewer, spreadsheet viewer, calculator, countdown timer, stopwatch, and an alarm clock. The display can connect with JAWS for Windows, Window-Eyes, NVDA, VoiceOver on both the Mac and iOS, and BrailleBack for Android. Currently, some screen access software and devices do not have VarioUltra drivers, so display emulation is needed, which will be discussed later.

Health, Mobility and Navigation Focus Group at Washington Seminar

Blog Date: 
Thursday, January 22, 2015

The greatest asset the National Federation of the Blind possesses is our membership.  In an effort to continue to ensure that our voices are heard in the evaluation and development of accessible biotechnology tools and strategies, we are recruiting participants for a focus group on health, mobility, and navigation on Monday, January 26 from 8:30 to 12:30 at the Holiday Inn Capitol. This is the morning of the Great Gathering In of our Washington Seminar. There is only room for 20 participants, so interested individuals should contact Clara Van Gerven at (410)659 9314 x2410 or at cvangerven@nfb.org, as soon as possible. Whether or not you are able to participate, you are encouraged to take the time to complete, and share, the survey referenced below.  

TRF Survey

Blog Date: 
Monday, January 19, 2015

The Therapeutic Research Foundation (TRF), with input from the access technology team at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, the only research and training institute developed and directed by blind people, has created a survey on health, mobility, and navigation. TRF is inviting blind and low-vision participants to take the survey to help them create the next generation of navigational tools. The data gathered will be used specifically to do research and development, so please consider taking the time to complete the questionnaire and help them build a device that will serve your needs. Depending on your responses, the survey will take 5-15 minutes, and your impact will shape the future of the project.

You can take the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XNZKWL8.

 

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