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

Amazon's new Kindles

Blog Date: 
Thursday, September 6, 2012

by Clara Van Gerven


Tech Doctor Podcast!

Blog Date: 
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

By Amy Mason
So, this is new for me.  I’ve been holed up in my office writing fun articles about technology, and necessary reports about technology, and well, just generally writing a great deal about all different aspects of access technology. Either way, I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately.   I’ll admit it, I like writing, and I feel I’m fairly good at it, but I also am fully aware that my writing is rather limited in scope. 
Therefore, I was really quite surprised when I received an e-mail the other day from Dr. Robert Carter, who is the creator of the Tech Doctor Podcast.  He said that he’d been intrigued by some of the things I’d been writing, and wanted to know if I would be interested in talking to him on the podcast. 

Robo Braille: enhancing the accessibility of documents

Blog Date: 
Monday, August 13, 2012

By Scott Davert


For many reasons, people who are blind  or deaf-blind find it necessary to convert files from one format to another. For example, converting a graphical PDF file to an accessible format such as Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx), rich text format (.rtf), digital braille (.brf) or plain text (.txt). This is especially the case when textbook publishers send out books in PDF format. There are many software applications that can convert files from one format to another, but these must be installed in order to perform conversions for some of the above mentioned formats. That is, until a service called Robobraille came in to being.


BrailleEdge 40: The Newest Offering by HIMS-Inc.

Blog Date: 
Monday, August 13, 2012

Presented by

Michael D. Barber, Rehabilitation Technology Specialist
Iowa Department for the Blind

Nexus 7

Blog Date: 
Friday, August 10, 2012

By Anne Taylor


Recently, the access technology team received our brand new Nexus 7, the famous Google tablet running Jelly Bean OS.  Our curiosity got the better of us - we had to immediately open this new and shiny thing.  Here is what we discovered.  The tablet size and the form factor are extremely attractive and fits well in small hands. The tablet is light, so carrying it all day wouldn’t be a problem at all.  The button configurations are as follows – on the right side edge of the tablet is where both the power button and the volume control are located.  The headphone jack and the USB power plug are located at the bottom edge of the tablet.  Other than that the touch screen area is about 7 inches, a very nice size for touch typing.

Mountain Lion: Does it Roar, or Slip in on Quiet Cat’s Feet?

Blog Date: 
Sunday, July 1, 2012

By Amy Mason

Apple’s Mac OSX 10.8 has arrived in the app store and several major news outlets claim that it “Roars”. It arrives on the scene at a ridiculously reasonable $19.99 for an operating system.  Unless your OS of choice is Linux, it’s probably been a long time, (if ever,) since you have gotten an OS upgrade for so little cash. 
This of course begs the question, do you want it?  That depends on a few things.  First, will your Mac support it? Do the programs you use the most support it? Do you care about any of the new features that Mountain Lion brings to the table? To be honest, for most of us, there will be enough compelling reasons to upgrade that it will be worth the work, hassle and $20 price tag, but you be the judge. 

Tactile Graphics Conference

Blog Date: 
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We're putting on our first ever Tactile Graphics Conference November 30-December 1 - and on the occasion of this exciting event, the AT Team has produced its first ever YouTube video: Check it out. You can also find more information on registration, scheduling and accomodation at

Clara Van Gerven

Inclusive Publishing

Blog Date: 
Sunday, April 15, 2012

We love events here in the Access Technology dungeons; we love them especially right after they end. The Inclusive Publishing event last week was pretty outstanding if I may say so. With 160 attendees from twenty countries and with some of the best and brightest in the industry leading sessions, it confirmed what we suspected – that there is both a need for and a real interest in broadening access to digital book. As is becoming the habit, I tweeted about it all under the nfb_voice handle, #incpub, and got to share some of the highlights that way. The presentations that we could get our hands on are being posted to

Review of the HIMS Braille Edge

Blog Date: 
Saturday, April 14, 2012

by Amy Mason




Blog Date: 
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In a time when many appliances are inaccessible, its wonderful to see a high quality blender remain fully accessible. The Vitamix 5200 is a heavy duty home blender. The controls consist of two toggle switches on either side of a speed dial. The controls are large and could be marked if desired. The Vitamix can blend, make smoothies, shakes etc. Interestingly, when run at high speed, the blades create enough friction within the liquid in a container that the liquid will become hot. As a result, the Vitamix can create hot soup. The Vitamix is a durable machine with a seven year warranty. Available containers come in 32oz, 48oz and 64oz sizes. There is also a specialized container that can grind grain into flour. Unlike other blenders, the Vitamix containers are simply set on top of the base. The shape of the containers makes it unnecessary to lock the containers in place.