Life After Blindness Spotlight Interview with Trey McCrory

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This week on the Life After Blindness Spotlight, Tim speaks with Trey McCrory. He is the Graduate Manager for the Northwestern State University men’s basketball team. Trey has been nominated for the 2017 NCAA Most Courageous Award.
Trey talks about growing up blind in a small town in Louisiana and then how he came to be the graduate manager for his favorite college basketball team. He also discusses the importance of family, what he’s learned from his experiences as well as what he wants to do in the future.
Please listen as we explore Trey’s life after blindness.

LABCast #4: Trey McCory, Accessing March Madness and Blindfold Basketball

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Welcome to episode 4 of the Life After Blindness Podcast. This week we are talking about all things basketball and specifically the NCAA men’s basketball tournament also known as March Madness.
Tim begins this weeks episode by talking about Trey McCrory, who is the Graduate Manager for the Northwestern State University basketball team. He is responsible for many of the teams daily functions including travel, meals and equipment. And he is legally blind. Trey has been nominated for the NCAA Most Courageous Award which will be announced during the final four this year. He will also be on next weeks Life After Blindness Spotlight podcast.
Next, Tim reviews an app for the iPhone called March Madness Live. You can use this app to check scores, get team info, follow the tournament brackets, Watch live games and so much more!
Tim then talks about an accessible tournament bracket you can find online at terrillthompson.com
For those who may still be interested in basketball but not in the tournament, Tim then reviews a game for the iPhone called Blindfold Basketball.
Tim finishes up the podcast by discussing an email from Jaume Cunill, the CEO of Tech 4 Freedom. The email is in response to our coverage of their products from our CSUN convention coverage podcast.
Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! Be sure to listen again as we continue our journey together to demonstrate that there truly can be a Life After Blindness.

Life After Blindness Spotlight with David Demers from eSight Eyewear

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Welcome to the Life After Blindness Spotlight. This is the podcast where I interview someone connected to the blind and visually impaired community. This week I am joined by David Demers from eSight Eyewear.

In this special spotlight interview, David talks with me about eSight 3. He explains what it is, who it’s for and how it differs from it’s previous versions.
David also talks a little about his own visual impairment and how he came to work with eSight.

Please join me in finding out more about this amazing product as well as hearing about David’s journey with a life after blindness.

LABCast #3: Michael Hingson and 2017 CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Discussion

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This week Tim is joined by Shaun Preece from the RNIB Tech Talk and Audio Pizza podcasts and Frank Facio from the band Steelehorse Country. Frank also conducted several interviews for the podcast directly from the exhibit hall in San Diego, California.
Tim, Shaun and Frank open the podcast by discussing the inspirational story of Michael Hingson Who was at the conference representing AIRA. With the help of his guide dog Riselle, Michael Hingson navigated his way out of the World Trade Center on 9/11. Listen as he tells Frank about the emotions of that day. And be sure to read his full story by getting his book Thunder Dog.

The rest of the podcast is spent discussing many of the products and announcements from this year’s convention.
Aira is a portable, on star type Service for the visually impaired. Does it have the right price point?
Braille note takers and tablets are finding a lot of new competition. Thanks to Innovacion and competition, this product category may not be as stale as it once was.
Tech 4 Freedom is offering a couple of different products that offer a variety of usage for the blind and visually impaired. First is the Box one For All whichh can detect temperature, color and tag and identify various objects. TheBeacon is a pocket-size device that connects to up to 10 waypoint begins that can be controlled by you’re iPhone.
Audio Eye is a behind the scenes service that works with companies and their websites to make sure they are instantly accessible!
Taptilo is a product that is not yet released but will offer lessons through games to teach you to read and write braille using a small box and an app on your iPhone.

Be sure to listen to our next podcast as we Spotlight eSight Eye Ware and their new product eSight 3!

Thank you very much for listening to episode #3 of the Life After Blindness podcast! As we journey together, we will find that there can truly be a life after blindness.

Life After Blindness Spotlight on Mel Scott

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Welcome to the Life After Blindness Spotlight. This is the podcast where I interview someone connected to the blind and visually impaired community.

This week I am joined by Mel Scott from Blind Alive. In this spotlight Mel discusses massage therapy, surviving cancer, the future of her Eyes Free Fitness programs and so much more!.

Please join me as we explore her journey with a life after blindness.

LABCast #2: Health and Fitness with mel Scott and Lisa Salinger. Review of My Fitness Pal

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This week on the Life After Blindness Podcast, Tim’s guests are Mel Scott and Lisa Salinger from BlindAlive.com
Tim, Mel and Lisa discuss inspirational athleticism, New Year’s health resolutions, fitness wearables and so much more! Then later in the podcast, Tim demonstrates an app for the iPhone called My Fitness Pal.
Thank you very much for listening to episode #2 of the podcast! As we journey together, we will find that there can truly be a life after blindness.

Life After Blindness Spotlight on Holly Anderson

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Welcome to the Life After Blindness Spotlight. This is the first in a series of podcasts where I will interview someone connected to the blind and visually impaired community.

This week I am joined by Holly Anderson from the Maccessibility Roundtable Podcast. In this spotlight Holly discusses attending mainstream school, cheerleading, music and what got her into podcasting.

Please join me as we explore her journey with a life after blindness.

LABCast #1: Blind Skateboarder, Accessibility at CES 2016, Future of Amazon Echo, AIPoly Review and iPhone impact on the Blind

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This week on episode #1 of the Life After Blindness Podcast, Tim speaks with Shaun Preece from the RNIB Tech Talk and Audio Pizza Podcasts and Holly Anderson from the Maccessibility Roundtable Podcast.
Tim opens the podcast by asking Shaun and Holly about a recent inspirational article from the Detroit Free Press. The article profiles blind skateboarder Nick Mullins who lost his sight after almost losing his life to MRSA.
The conversation then turns to CES 2016. This year’s Consumer Electronics Show seems to feature more accessible products than ever before!
Tim begins the CES discussion by asking Holly and Shaun to describe the BLITAB® and discuss whether they feel it could be a useful and functional replacement for the iPad.
From BLITAB.com:
“”BLITAB® is the World’s first tactile tablet for blind and visually impaired people. BLITAB® is a next curve Braille device for Braille reading and writing that displays one whole page Braille text at once, without any mechanical elements.”

Next, Holly talks about using an app that was featured at CES called Aipoly Vision. This app can identify text, colors, common household objects, currency and more. Tim, Shaun and Holly discuss the accuracy of Aipoly Vision and whether it’s worth the $4.99 a month subscription fee for expanded functionality.
Later in the podcast, Tim demonstrates Aipoly Vision in action.

Another big development in accessible tech at CES this year was a new service called AIRA – Visual interpreter for the blind.
From the AIRA website:
“Aira develops transformative remote assistive technology that connects the blind with a network of certified agents via wearable smart glasses and an augmented reality dashboard that allows agents to see what the blind person sees in real time. Agents, serving as visual interpreters for the blind, help users accomplish a wide range of daily tasks and activities – from navigating busy streets to recognizing faces and literally traveling the world.”
Tim, Holly and Shaun give examples of AIRA in action and debate the possible subscription options for this service.
Rounding out the CES discussion is the implementation of Amazon Echo technology into so many new products. Shaun and Holly talk to Tim about the future of Echo and what it could mean to the blind and visually impaired.
Tim then demonstrates the Aipoly Vision app. You can download it here for free.

In January, Apple celebrated the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. After the anniversary, Tim wrote a blog post about what the iPhone has meant to those who are blind or visually impaired.

The podcast finishes with Tim, Shaun and Holly discussing this article. They each talk about what the iPhone has meant to them and how it has affected their lives.
You can hear more from Shaun Preece by subscribing to the RNIB Tech Talk or Audio Pizza Podcasts.
You can hear more from Holly Anderson by subscribing to the Maccessibility Roundtable Podcast or by following her on Twitter @DHSHolly

Please subscribe to the Life After Blindness Podcast on iTunes and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Join us again next week for a one-on-one spotlight interview with Holly Anderson. Then be sure to listen in two weeks when we are joined by Mel Scott and Lisa Salinger from Blind Alive and Eyes Free Fitness.
Thank you very much for listening to episode #1 of the podcast! As we journey together, we will find that there can truly be a life after blindness.

Apple’s iPhone anniversary from the point of view of the blind and visually impaired

10 ways the iPhone has impacted the blind

On January 9th, Apple celebrated the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. Yes, it’s been 10 years since Steve Jobs announced to the world what would become a revolution. A revolution that was limited to the sighted at launch. But with the release of the iPhone 3GS in 2009, the blind and visually impaired community rejoiced in amazement at the implementation of the new screen reader called Voiceover. Prior to the release of Voice over on the 3GS, the blind were relegated to using very specific models of phones for accessibility. These phones didn’t offer that accessibility right out of the box however. By the time you purchased the phone, a screen reader and then perhaps software to scan and read print documents, a blind person may spend a minimum of $2000. At that cost, you still didn’t get a fraction of the accessibility and functionality of the iPhone.

Enter Steve Jobs and Apple…

The 10th anniversary of the iPhone announcement has inspired me to reflect on its history and how it has affected the blind. The iPhone has brought accessibility to social interaction, navigation, text and image recognition, gaming and so many other parts of our digital lives. The implementation of so many of these services and the accessibility of so many apps has truly been a game-changer.

Through personal experience, research and the help of some friends – I’ve put together the following list. A top 10 list, broken down by category, that highlights how the iPhone has impacted the lives of the blind and visually impaired.

If there is anything you would like to add or talk about in more detail, please leave a comment below. You can also send me an email.

10. Portability

10 years ago, Steve Jobs stressed the portability of the iPhone when he explained how it was so many devices in one. To be able to carry in your pocket an iPod, phone and internet device was indeed a revolution!
This wasn’t just a big deal for the mainstream however. Unlocking the iPhone’s potential to the blind was huge. Previously you could spend thousands of dollars between multiple devices just to achieve some of what the iPhone could do.

9. Going mainstream

The advent of the iPhone and it’s portability achieved something else for the blind. It included us within the mainstream of society. Not only did you not have to spend thousands on multiple devices but you could purchase a mainstream device just like anyone else and have it work right out of the box.
This also means the blind have access to the safety and security as others through the use of ApplePay. That level of inclusiveness is a wonderful and powerful feeling!

8. Gaming

Games have been developed for the blind long before the iPhone came around. From the early text-based adventures to more modern audio games, there has always been a place for games amongst the blind. But the iPhone has taken blind gaming to the next level.
You can play everything from dice games like Dice World to card games such as those made by Blindfold Games. RS Games offers board games and there are even many 3D immersive audio adventures. And so much more.

There are developers who create their games with the blind in mind, and there are others who work hard to make sure their mainstream game is accessible as possible.

7. Books and Reference

The iPhone also makes it so much easier for the blind to access reference material. Using Safari or SIRI, you have instant access to the internet to research any topic you like. Plus there are apps for accessing text or audio books like Audible and BARD Mobile. There are dictionaries and language translators that are also accessible.

6. Social Interaction

One of the other great things the iPhone does for the blind community is bring us together socially. Of course you can use your iPhone as just that, a phone. But there is such a larger world out there to be a part of. You can text message or even audio/video chat. And then there are apps like Twitter, Facebook and Vorail. You can connect with family and friends and even other blind people from around the world.

5. Audio Description

Games and books aren’t the only forms of entertainment that the iPhone makes accessible to the blind. Thanks to companies like Disney, Netflix and Apple themselves- movies and TV shows are just a tap away for the blind and visually impaired. These companies and others have made a commitment to providing descriptive audio tracks that play along with a movie or TV show. These tracks allow the blind person to know about things happening visually on the screen. Due to the efforts of these companies, the access to described content has never been better.

4. News

The iPhone also provides many great ways for the blind and visually impaired to stay connected to local and world events. There are many apps, including Apples’s own News app, that can keep you up to date.

3. Navigation

Orientation and mobility are crucial in the life of someone who is blind or visually impaired. The iPhone offers the standard supplements for navigation like Apple’s own Maps app. However just as crucial are the various apps offered for transit like Moovitthat offer accessible bus and subway schedules. Then there are apps specifically designed for the blind like BlindSquare. This app offers real-time GPS information about your surroundings like street names, crossings and even nearby restaurants and businesses.

2. Utilities

Recognizing objects, text and currency can be some of the most difficult obstacles to a blind person. This is where the iPhone shines brightest as a tool for the blind and visually impaired!Using the iPhone’s camera, there are a number of apps to help in identifying things. NantMobile Money Reader is an app that can identify currency from multiple countries just by holding the camera lens up to the bill. Digit-Eyes is another app that can easily scan any UPC code and tell you the contents of what you scanned. Another utility that makes great use of the camera is the KNFB Reader. This app enables you to take a picture of any printed text and then reads it back almost instantly.There are many other utilities that help the blind with object and picture recognition. These include Be My Eyes and BeSpecular. These apps offer live volunteers who either through audio or text can help to identify photos or objects.

1. Accessibility

There isn’t one item listed within this post that would exist without the built-in accessibility of the iPhone.For those with low vision there is Zoom and Magnifier. Zoom allows you to enlarge what is on screen for better viewing and the built-in Magnifier utilizes the iPhone’s camera to work like a traditional video magnifier by enlarging objects and text seen with the camera on screen.

Apple has also included the ability to invert as well as filter colors for those who have difficulty perceiving certain colors or who have issues with glare. And what about the color blind? Apple has even included filters that help those with different forms of color blindness.

And of course, there is Voiceover. By using certain gestures on the iPhone’s screen, Voiceover provides auditory descriptions of each element. This is what allows a blind person to navigate the web, reply to text or email messages, play games and use the other ground-breaking tools talked about in this post.

I’ve spoken to many blind and visually impaired persons who are eternally grateful to Steve Jobs and the development teams at Apple for their dedication to accessibility. A dedication that enables blind individuals by giving them independence and confidence, right out of the box.

We thank you Apple for thinking of us! For helping us to be a part of the “mainstream”, and for continuing to believe that the blind and visually impaired community is worth continuing to fight for!

Happy anniversary iPhone!

the Life After Blindness Blog and Podcast will be launching again very soon!

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Hello! My Name is Tim Schwartz and I’d like to welcome you to the Life After Blindness Blog and Podcast!
I began to slowly lose my vision over 25 years ago. I’ve been through the good, the bad and the ugly of vision loss. If not for the help of family, friends and technology – I’d never be where I am today. And now I want to share what I’ve learned with you.
I originally launched this blog and podcast in 2013. My intention was to be a resource for the visually impaired and sighted alike. I wanted this blog and podcast to be a source of inspiration for the blind community. Not just a place to find the latest news and events, but also a source of comfort. I had also hoped that sighted people would find this a welcoming resource that could aid them in relating to blind family or friends.

These feelings and goals never changed but my personal life did. When I started the podcast in 2013, my wife and I had just moved and our daughter was 8 months old. So keeping up with a blog and podcast on a regular basis proved to be overwhelming.
In my absence from the podcast, I have continued to write some blog posts. I’ve also shared numerous blindness-related stories to Twitter and Facebook. But, my desire to podcast regularly and share my passion with the world has never waivered. I feel that my dream to make ‘Life After Blindness’ achieve its potential is stronger than it has ever been!
So whether you have been blind since birth or slowly losing your vision for years, we all have this one thing in common. Therefore, we share many of the same barriers as well as achievements. Please come along with me as we embark on this journey together! And let’s show the world that there truly can be a life after blindness…