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

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, 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


Web Accessibility Training Day session recordings

Blog Date: 
Tuesday, November 4, 2014

For those of you who have an interest in web accessibility, but were not able to attend the Web Accessibility Training Day on September 9, the recordings of those sessions are now available at There were some really great talks, and I especially recommend Eve Hill’s keynote. It was a real honor to have such a great list of speakers.

Train the Trainer

Blog Date: 
Thursday, October 2, 2014

In two weeks, the team here at the NFB Jernigan Institute will be conducting the second iteration of Train the Trainer. We’ve got an amazing line-up–Google has volunteered some of its trainers to talk all things Google, Earle Harrison from Triumph Technology will be here to share his extensive experience as a Mac trainer, and we’ll have our affiliated experts Jennifer Dunnam and Hoby Wedler here to talk about Braille production and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), respectively. That the AT team will be here goes without saying.

The full agenda is posted at, though we are still reshuffling some of the timing (but not the topics). There are eight seats left, and we expect to fill them very soon. Join us if you can; it will be a great event.


Braille Moves Forward in iOS 8

Blog Date: 
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

By Jennifer Dunnam

In the latest version of Apple's iOS, four Braille-related developments not only greatly improve the experience of using Braille with mobile devices, but also serve as a model for how the use of Braille can be integrated into today's digital technology. Three of these improvements relate to the interaction of iDevices with external refreshable Braille devices. The fourth does not require a Braille device at all—we'll start our review there.

Kyocera Verve

Blog Date: 
Tuesday, August 5, 2014

By Clara Van Gerven

The Kyocera Verve, like the Kona reviewed on this blog previously, is an addition to Sprint’s line-up of accessible phones. It is listed on the Sprint accessibility page as such, but oddly enough the text-to-speech built into the phone is not listed as an accessibility feature. The booklets in the box don't reveal the text-to-speech feature, though the full manual online has details of the accessibility features, which is helpful. The PDF manual, while it has a few headings out of order and a few less-than-useful image labels, is quite well done. There is also an HTML manual, which is useful.

Verizon Samsung Gusto 3

Blog Date: 
Friday, July 18, 2014

By Clara Van Gerven

There is a new answer to the recurring question about accessible feature phones that is worthy of a blog post. I’ve reviewed talking feature phones on this blog before, including, as part of the CSUN presentation I posted here, the Verizon Samsung Gusto 2. The Gusto 2 was not a particularly accessible phone, and I’m delighted to report that the new version is a significant improvement all around. The Gusto 3, a flip phone that looks almost identical to its predecessor, is available from Verizon for $0.99 with a two-year contract, and $149.99 without a contract.

Tactile Graphics Issue

Blog Date: 
Friday, May 9, 2014

By Clara Van Gerven


Those of you who have an interest in tactile graphics will be interested to know that some of the presentations from last year’s Tactile Graphics Conference here at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute have made it into articles in the Tactile Graphics Issue of the Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research (JBIR). The issue is available free of charge if you sign up at

It gives me joy to see the small, but incredibly important, field of creating images for the blind find a scholarly voice in these articles, and I hope to see many more of them in JBIR and elsewhere. These articles are one more way to educate the public and to share knowledge between experts who are often continents apart.

Ustraap System

Blog Date: 
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Amy Mason


CSUN is always an exciting time for the Access Technology Team. We get to explore all the new and interesting products that have come out, or are on their way to market, and this year was no exception.  We didn’t write about this product before now because its creator is still in the process of bringing it to market, but it’s a nifty little tool, and worth some exploration.

First, a brief caveat, this is a “first impressions” blog post, not a full-fledged review. I’ve not spent more than a few minutes with the device itself yet, though I have every intention of doing so when given the chance in the future. So with that… on to the review—