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Kes: note that these talks are recorded and archived so you can access them after the live event; instructions are below the cut. If anyone is considering developing an accessible game, I recommend that they check this out as it will include background info about game development.

Join Accessible World’s Tek Talk for Game Night with Michael Feir, Monday, October 31, 2011

As fall and cooling temperatures make their presence felt, our thoughts turn to inside activities. The computer plays a huge role as we make entertainment choices. Michael Feir will present a fun-filled hour of promising entries for the months to come.
continued below cut )
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From the TechTalk announcements list

An introduction to iOS apps
by Peter Cantisani, author of
Twenty-six Useful Apps for Blind iPHONE Users

Are you interested in the iPhone, iPOD, or iPAD? Are you wondering what you can do with your shiny new iOS device? Attend the Web presentation titled An Introduction To iOS Apps. Intended as an overview and not a tutorial, the presentation assumes the listener has had some hands-on with VoiceOver on whatever device he or she is using.
more info below cut )
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VisWiz app allows blind users to crowdsource visual descriptions in real time
Originally posted to the MacVisionaries mailing list; more links after the article extract.

New Scientist article

block quote start
Designing a computer program that can reliably recognize text and distinguish objects in the real world has proven to be a massive challenge for artificial
intelligence researchers. To get around this, the researchers behind VizWiz - a team consisting of computer scientists from several universities, including
the University of Rochester - decided to outsource the task of problem-solving to people: specifically, to Amazon Mechanical Turk's masses of online workers.

To make sure users get answers as quickly as possible, the researchers programmed an intelligent queuing system they call Quik Turkit to speed things up.
Quik Turkit recruits Mechanical Turk workers even as a VizWiz user is taking a picture, so someone is always ready to answer an incoming query.

Eleven blind iPhone users tested out VizWiz, asking questions like: "What denomination is this bill?", "Do you see picnic tables across the parking lot?",
and "What temperature is my oven set to?"

They received an average of three responses per query and waited an average of 133.3 seconds for the first answer. The first answer received was accurate
or helpful in 71 of 82 cases. By the third answer, all questions were correctly answered.

In a second test, the volunteers got to use VizWiz 2.0, which includes improved image processing techniques. Their response time was cut to an average
of 27 seconds.
block quote end

WisWiz app at Apple store (available in U.S. and UK)

VisWizweb site

Vizwiz tutorial (helpful to read through first, since the app just opens with the camera)

Research project at the University of Rochester
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Kes: I don't have an iPhone myself so I can't say how his game is, but I like the idea of angry acorns.
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From the Top Tech Tidbits newsletter for this week

1. JFW version 12 is now a full public release, out of Beta. This version includes a Text Analyzer feature to help find format inconsistencies in Word documents, improved support for web pages written in ARIA, a more efficient Settings Center, and support for fully operating in contracted braille.

2. As he has done for the last several versions, Jamal Mazrui has created a comprehensive text archive of the documentation for JFW 12.

3. The seventeenth game in the Blind Gamers series from Ian Humphreys is BG Brainiac, Spoonbill Software's version of a game you may know as Concentration. It is blind accessible but graphics allow sighted players to play along with blind players. email requesting BG Brainiac and Ian will send you the download link.

4. The next two weeks on Tek Talk will be the annual Stocking Stuffers programs. Each week, sellers of some low-tech products of potential interest to the blind will discuss their products. The first installment is GMT Tuesday, 2 November at 00:00.

5. Serotek Tech Chat 74 covers the Latest and Greatest Accessible iPhone Apps

6. Fred's Head informs us about the free RadioSure player with some 10,000 stations you can listen to and record.

Book review of Pictures Matter
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A week or so ago I posted a link to someone else's review of the iPhone app Color Identifier
and today A. loaded it on his iPhone, turned on VoiceOver, and let me play with it.

Note that this is the first time I have held an iPhone or used VoiceOver, so it was a pretty new experience even learning the
VoiceOver gestures
and I'm still not certain how to perform a pinch.

Something else I learned: the aerye is not big on bright lighting--I have one overhead light and two small windows, and today is very overcast--which turns out to be kind of relevant for Color Identifier, which knows a *lot* of names for different shades of black.

Also, pretty much all of the objects in my room are either natural wood, black, or tie-dye.

What happens when you aim Color Identifier at tie-dye is pretty interesting, as it just keeps scrolling through all these different colors including their various hues and shades according to the color gradation of your tie-dye. I'm female and a former art student and even I am pretty much in awe of all the color words in this program (I mean, jambalaya and gumbo are actual colors, who knew?).

Anyway, after making the iPhone chant color names for an hour or so and then spending another hour or so trying to perfect the double tap versus the triple finger flick, I decided to check on one of the reasons I am attempting to familiarize myself with the iPhone, namely,
Papa Sangre
an audio game in which the player finds him/herself in complete darkness, otherwise known as the land of the dead. It's probably just as lucky for the developers that they are on the other side of the Atlantic (and darn, Google failed me, but I know there is a word for that, "transpond"-something), because otherwise I would probably be hanging outside their studio asking "Is it done yet?".

Instead I'm reduced to checking out the game site every day, but today I found this really cool media-narrative-games blog by one of the developers
which just makes my little media studies heart go all aflutter.

Okay, off to have some dinner and find a good book to read in bed, where it isn't quite so nippy.
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This excerpt
from the blog post at
was posted to the Art Beyond Sight mailing list. I am growing increasingly more frustrated witht he fact that the iPhone gets such poor reception around our house as the blindness-related apps being developed sound so amazing, like the tech of my imagination. I especially like the ability to know what colors things are, as color still features prominently in mhy imagination.

block quote start
The other night, however, a very amazing thing happened. I downloaded
an app called Color Identifier.
It uses the iPhone's camera, and speaks names of colors. It must use a table, because each color has an identifier made up of 6 hexadecimal digits. This puts the total at 16777216 colors, and I believe it. Some of them have very surreal names, such as Atomic Orange, Cosmic, Hippie Green, Opium, and Black-White. These names in combination with what feels like a rise in serotonin levels makes for a very psychedelic experience.
I have never experienced this before in my life. I can see some light and color, but just in blurs, and objects don't really have a color, just light sources. When I first tried it at three o'clock in the morning, I couldn't figure out why it just reported black. After realizing that the screen curtain also disables the camera, I turned it off, but it still have very dark colors. Then I remembered that you actually need light to see, and it probably couldn't see much at night. I thought about light sources, and my interview I did for Get Lamp.<> First, I saw one of my beautiful salt lamps in its various shades of orange, another with its pink and rose colors, and the third kind in glowing pink and red.. I felt stunned.
The next day, I went outside. I looked at the sky. I heard colors such as "Horizon," "Outer Space," and many shades of blue and gray. I used color cues to find my pumpkin plants, by looking for the green among the brown and stone. I spent ten minutes looking at my pumpkin plants, with their leaves of green and lemon-ginger. I then roamed my yard, and saw a blue flower. I then found the brown shed, and returned to the gray house. My mind felt blown. I watched the sun set, listening to the colors change as the sky darkened. The next night, I had a conversation with Mom about how the sky looked bluer tonight. Since I can see some light and color, I think hearing the color names can help nudge my perception, and enhance my visual experience.
block quote end
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Over the past couple of years, Apple has released a variety of devices that are both portable and accessible. This is great, but it can be confusing as well. Anna Dresner will try to dispel any confusion you may have regarding the major differences and basic functions of these devices. She'll work through the iPod Shuffle and Nano, the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, describing their sizes, prices, and basic functions. This should help you decide which device to buy or make the most of any of these devices that you already have.
details below cut )
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Anna Dresner has been writing some of the most useful books to come out of the National Braille Press on topics such as accessible social networking, accessible iPod and iTunes, blogging, etc., and I will be sad to see her leave. However, Dean Martineaux will be taking over as NBP's resident author of books about accessible tech, so we can anticipate the same high quality of information regarding how to use new media technologies.

Here are a couple of online talks which Anna and Dean will be giving in July, followed by Anna's farewell letter from the NBP mailing list.
To find the following talks, go to

Monday July 19th: 8:00 PM EDT: Tek Talk presents Dean Martineau who will speak on the topic: “An Overview of Voice Recognition Software.” Visit the Pat Price Tek Talk Training Room at:

Monday July 26th: 8:00 PM EDT: Tek Talk presents Anna Dresner who will discuss the features of the following: The iPod shuffle, the iPod nano, the iPhone, and the iPad. Anna wants to help us make a decision on which one to purchase ( Visit the Pat Price Tek Talk Training Room at:
continued below cut )
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From this week's Top Tech Tidbits newsletter

1. There is now a Lite version of Facebook with a less complicated interface

2. The complete manual for version 3.1 of the iPhone, including the accessibility section, is here:

3. A new edition of the Blind World podcast discusses the latest developments in Apple accessibility.

4. Amidst the flurry of innovations from Apple, they also came out with iTunes version 9, parts of which work better than earlier versions in Windows, but access to the iTunes store goes in reverse. Serotek claims that System Access now supports it, where other Windows screen readers do not. SeroTalk Podcast 23 discusses this, as well as Accessible Apple iPod touch, Nano 5G, iPhone 3.1
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Kes: I'm going to this meeting and am adding some travel directions and directions for finding the room below the cut. If anyone would like to meet up and travel with me, leave a comment.

The next meeting of VIBUG will be held on Saturday, Sept. 12, from 1:00 PM
to 4:00 PM at our new home, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, building 5,
room 134, on the campus of MIT.
In addition to our question and answer period, we will feature
demonstrations of the new Book Sense from GW Micro and the IPhone from

directions and such )
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Kes: note that after the TTT snippets I have posted an online article from the NFB Braille Monitor which reviews four free or low-cost screen reader.
From Top Tech Tidbits

1. If you have some vision, you can help solve enormous barriers to online access by the blind by joining the legion of volunteers to the Solona project. There is no commitment of time or frequency; simply, if you are willing, sometimes while you're on the computer, to take 30 seconds or so to anonymously solve a captcha barrier for an equally anonymous blind user somewhere in the world, you can play a key role. To look into it, e-mail
or fill out the form at

2. The RNIB has produced a guide to accessing pdf documents: <>
5. Serotek Tech Chat 21 discusses the New NLS digital TalkingBook Player and also the OverDrive Book Service which many public libraries use to provide downloadable audio books.

6. This week's broadcast of Innovations concerns several demonstrations from Sight City of mobility aids, braille devices and a new screen reader from Baum. Innovations is first heard on GMT Tuesday at 17:00 with repeats on Thursday at 00:00, Friday at 14:00, Sunday at 09:00 on the Global Voice.>.

7. Back to Serotek again: Serotek has released Accessible Event, an online platform that makes group meetings ,webinars, lectures and other events accessible to the blind, deaf, and deaf-blind. It works with presentations designed in the Microsoft® Word, Excel®, and PowerPoint® or Adobe® Acrobat®, with those featuring displays in Microsoft Outlook®, or web pages in Serotek SAMNetâ„¢, Microsoft Internet Explorer® 7 or higher, or Mozilla® Firefox®, and with online meeting services such as Cisco WebEx, Citrix® GoToMeeting® and GoToWebinar®, Adobe Acrobat Connect®, Microsoft Live Meeting and more.
End of TTT snippets, beginning of article on four low-cost screen reader
block quote start
NFB Braille Monitor, May 2009 Edition

Low-Cost Screen Readers
by the Access Technology Team

>From the Editor: In the following article the International Braille and
Technology Center Access
Technology Team reviews four free or low-cost screen readers: Thunder, NVDA,
System Access, and
WebAnywhere. This is what they say:

Thunder is a free screen-access program as long as its use is personal. If
Thunder is being used in
a work setting, the company is asked to contact CIC to
discuss pricing. Thunder can
be downloaded from
kestrell: (Default)
The following announcement was posted to the Daisy Talking Book mailing list

block quote start
We, ABWA, have produced a DAISY and iPod Audiobook version of iPhone
Accessibility Features by Apple. It can be downloaded at:

Gregory Kearney
Manager - Accessible Media
Association for the Blind of Western Australia
block quote end
kestrell: (Default)
Kes: I'm particularly interested in the second item as I have been trying to find a good article which explains how I can do this with a screen reader; I'm pretty reluctant to do tweaks in the registry for fear of accidentally deleting something Jaws-related.
From this week's Top Tech Tidbits

Aside from the Apple Web page on the accessible iPhone on June 19
there is additional discussion in the following podcast:

1. this new iPhone, as well as the Solona site for solving CAPTCHA barriers, is the subject of Serotek podcast #16

2. SeroTalk Tech Chat 19 is entitled Tweaks for Geeks! and discusses improving the performance of Windows xp.


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