A rugged talking phone: how good is the Convoy 3?

There is, without a doubt, a shortage of accessible simple feature phones for blind and low-vision users. We’ve discussed some of the options available currently on this blog, and I’m happy to be adding the Convoy 3 to the list. The Convoy 3 is a Verizon phone, and it costs $9.99 with a contract, and $239.99 without a contract. Both the description and the (small print) documentation that comes with the phone refrain from making any mention of the accessibility features, and that makes phones like these hard to find in the bewildering multitude of cell phones. It also makes it hard to know how to set up the speech, a process that requires sighted assistance.

Convention session

After a little delay, I am happy to report that the winning session in the poll for the final access technology seminar session at convention is 3D Printing and 3D Creation for Tactile Graphics. 3D printing is an ever-growing trend that promises great things for the availability of tactile models in schools, universities and workplaces. Science and engineering, in education and in the professions, can benefit especially greatly from the ability to create models on the fly based on what’s needed in the classroom, lab or office. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

We will be posting the full agenda shortly.
 

Convention Session Survey

One of the most exciting items on the calendar for the access technology team is the AT seminar day at convention. Though it may seem like a long way off, we are locking in the sessions now. We would like to have your input on what topic completes the agenda, and we have set up a survey with the options. Please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NQ3FPHB and cast your vote. The options are quite wide-ranging:

•    Phones for Low Vision and Blind Seniors
•    3D Printing and 3D Creation for Tactile Graphics
•    Communication Technologies for Those Who are Deaf-Blind
•    Non-Visual Access to Cloud Productivity Suites on Mobile Devices
•    Non-Visual Access to Cloud Productivity Suites on Desktop Computers
•    Social Media Accessibility and Workarounds

Window-Eyes and Microsoft Office

Access Technology is often dominated by incremental changes; but every once in a while there are big jumps. The big change that was just announced is that, effective immediately, Window-Eyes is being packaged with Windows running Office 2010 or higher. The version of Window-Eyes available to Office users is a full version, available globally and in eighteen languages. It comes with Microsoft speech and eSpeak, and is available right now from http://www.windoweyesforoffice.com/ . This means that, if you are an Office 2010 or up user without screen access software, one of the leading products in the market just fell in your lap.

Odin VI Mobile Phone

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, it is all too rare to see additions to the small clutch of talking feature phones on the market. When some time ago, Odin Mobile approached us to demonstrate their intent to run a cell phone provider geared primarily to the low vision and blindness market, I admit that I got pretty excited about that. Still, you learn to be wary when it comes to promising ventures, and it wasn’t until I got a peek at the Odin VI that I really felt the enthusiasm was warranted.

MyMathLab-JAWS News from Pearson

Pearson has made big strides in having students use the JAWS screen reader to access content in MyMathLab and related products—MyStatLab, MathXL, MyMathTest.  Students using JAWS can navigate, read, and interact with MyMathLab homework and assessments, as well as calendars, results, announcements, and study plans.

Kindle Fire HDX

The Kindle Fire HDX is the latest tablet from Amazon, and it is again, claiming to include accessibility for blind users.  In the past, I have pretty freely lambasted Amazon’s accessibility efforts because in many cases they were downright insulting to blind users.  There has never been an eInk Kindle that allows for proper non-visual navigation of text, nor an accessible application for the Mac, or a Kindle app for the PC that allows for anything more than the crudest navigation.  Amazon made a big deal about their accessibility in the last Kindle Fire, and in truth, the tablet was so badly crippled for blind users, that it may as well have not contained accessibility features at all.  However, the Amazon stance on accessibility has begun to change (if far more slowly than one might like), as can be seen in the accessible Kindle app for iOS which arrived in May, and the Amazon Instan

The Sprint Kyocera Kona talking feature phone

Basic talking phones are few and far between, though the news of them manifests itself on the NFB tech line every few days. The Kyocera Kona is the first phone we've seen since the Samsung Haven that has full speech, and that makes it a very welcome addition to the market. It would be great if Sprint was a little less shy about letting people know about it. The documentation in the box is completely silent on the topic. Sprint Accessibility lists the phone as having good accessibility for the blind, but doesn't explain why. The entry for the Kona itself makes no mention of accessibility features other than hearing aid compatibility. The full user manual does provide details and setup.

The Prodigi Talking Magnifier

It's not too often that new and exciting devices appear in the realm of low vision, so it is not very surprising that the Prodigi talking digital magnifier is causing a stir. These talking magnifiers, as highlighted in an earlier blog post, have been making steady headway and are becoming more common. The Prodigi stands out from that group for a couple of reasons. First of all, it combines a standard (and might I say, sleek) CCTV with a talking portable magnifier. The portable magnifier--an Android tablet under the hood--slots into the arm of the CCTV. The tablet, though Android-based, can only be used for magnification and speech. It is a neat trick, and the transition from one screen to the other is mostly seamless. Secondly, it is not using a full computer.

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