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

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.

Train the Trainers

Blog Date: 
Tuesday, April 10, 2012

This post is a little delayed, but I wanted share with all of you some of the excitement from the Train the Trainers. We filled up the Technology Training Lab with attendees and the back room with shiny toys to show, and off we went. If you want a play by play description of the sessions, check out the #NFBTTT hashtag on Twitter – it was quite a lively affair. For future events, you can look for #NFBAT, which covers anything that relates to Access Technology.

A Quick Note on Zaggfolio, Magnification, and the iPad 3

Blog Date: 
Tuesday, April 3, 2012


The New iPad

Blog Date: 
Monday, April 2, 2012

Apple has chosen not to give the new iPad a specific name, and has left it to the rest of us to come up with that moniker.  Some people are calling it the “iPad 3”, other’s the “HD iPad”, and still others, the “new iPad”, but despite what you call it, the question remains, is it worth buying? 

Here at the IBTC we strive to keep up with the latest and greatest in technology accessible to the blind, so Clara was furiously refreshing her browser on the day it was announced in order to purchase one for the lab.  It only just arrived, so as good little geeks, we pored over it with a fine tooth comb to give you our impressions.

Microsoft Security Essentials

Blog Date: 
Sunday, April 1, 2012

Anti-Virus software is one of those things that everyone (including you Mac and Linux users) ought to have, but it’s not really all that much fun to think about, much less employ.  Furthermore, as a screen access software user, it’s often an exercise in frustration.  I don’t know what it is about the security suites out there, but they seem to be built with every intention of being difficult to use, cryptic, and downright unpleasant to use.  Often they are difficult to use with a screen access software (if not impossible), and they have an unfortunate tendency to be expensive, both in terms of monetary investment, and computer resources.  So, it made sense to mention an alternative for Windows users at least.  (Sorry Mac and Linux folks, I’ll have to get back to you after a bit of research.).

Apple Slices

Blog Date: 
Monday, March 26, 2012



Below are some items from the Apple world that we thought you might want to know about.


Air Media Center


App Dynamic


IOS 5.1 and Braille Displays

Blog Date: 
Thursday, March 15, 2012

Just putting this post up to warn users of HIMS products, and Braille iOS users in general that iOS 5.1 has broken support for some Braille Displays.  I discovered this the hard way after upgrading both my iPad 2 and iPhone 4.  In the case of my BrailleSense Plus notetaker, all input is disabled.  HIMS tech support has told me that Apple has said that it is a problem on their end, and it has been identified.  However, they also simply said that it will be fixed in a future firmware update.  This has not been confirmed by anyone on the Access Tech team, but there are reports of this being a problem for some Baum displays as well.  If you have not yet done so, it would be in your best interests to check with the manufacturer of your Braille display to ensure it is not affected by the upgrade bug before you upgrade.

Brailliant on iOS

Blog Date: 
Thursday, March 15, 2012

As of the release of iOS 5.1 last week, the Brailliant Braille displays from Humanware are now supported by iDevices, and they are supported very well.  I connected a Brailliant 32 to my iPad, and iPhone, and was impressed by a couple of neat features.  First, the 2 sets of 3 keys that flank the display can be used together to handle all of the “chorded” (space and dot combination) commands on the iOS platform.  So to go to the top of the screen a person could do a 1-2-3 and spacebar combination, or they could hit the three buttons to the left of the display together without the spacebar.  It’s a pretty slick way to implement the command structure if you ask me.  The other extremely beneficial feature of the Brailliant with iOS is just how easy it is to invoke the initial pairing.  A user would connect to the Brailliant in the usual way, by going to General>Accessibility>VoiceOv


Blog Date: 
Thursday, March 15, 2012

QRead is a new book reading solution being sold by Chris Toth, the blind programmer who is best known for creating the Qwitter  client for Twitter (no longer in development) and the Hope client for Pandora Radio.  It is intended to be a simple solution for reading a fair number of different file formats, and to provide bookmarking and search features within the text.  As a great lover of books, and a devoted reader of eBooks, I sat down with the program to give it a spin.