LABCast #14: Description! Balance with Mel Scott, Tactile Eclipse App, Eclipse Description with Joel Snyder and First Aira Impressions

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Welcome to episode number 14 of the Life After Blindness podcast.
We begin this week by talking with Mel Scott from Blind Alive about a new series of balance exercises that she has developed specifically for the blind.
Next I demonstrate an app called Eclipse Soundscapes. This app not only offers audio description but also a tactile interface for the upcoming total solar eclipse in the United States.
I then interview the President of the Audio Description Project, Joel Snyder. He talks about the state of audio description and where he thinks it will go next. We also discuss the ADP’s upcoming initiative to offer live programming on ACB radio for the total solar eclipse. This will include music, educational information as well as audio description of the eclipse itself.
Recently I received my equipment for use with the Aira service for the blind. I talk about my first impressions of the service.
Last but not least, we share another “Because of My Blindness” story from a listener named Marana. Her story of perseverance shows that just about anything is possible!

Thank you very much for listening to Life After Blindness. Join us again next week as together we continue to find that there truly can be a life after blindness.

LABCast #13: 2017 ACB and NFB Convention Coverage with Shaun Preece

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Welcome to episode number 13 of Life After Blindness! This week I am joined by Shaun Preece from the RNIB Tech Talk podcast.
First we discuss a new iPhone app from Microsoft called Seeing AI. This app can be used to scan documents, spot read text, scan barcodes, recognize objects as well as be used as a camera with face recognition.Then we discuss AIRA and the impact that the service has had on the blind and visually impaired community.
Next, we discuss a new pair of binaural 3-D headphones called Hooke Verse Audio. When used with an app on your smart phone, these Bluetooth headphones with built-in microphone’s promise an amazing 3-D recording.
We also talk about a new product from Canada called Key 2 Access. Used as either a pocket sized device or an app on your iPhone, the service will allow you to request an audible crosswalk signal without having to find the button on a pole.
Shaun then tells me everything he knows about the highly anticipated Orbit Braille Reader. This product has been a long time coming but seems to be living up to the hype.
The last product that Shaun and I talk about this week is the new Victor Reader Trek from Humanware. This device combines all the book reading functionality of the Victor Reader Stream with the GPS capabilities of the formerly discontinued Trekker Breeze. We continue a conversation that started on the RNIB Tech talk podcast where we discuss whether there is still a use case for a device like this or not if you are already using a smart phone.
We finish the podcast by discussing efforts made by the NFB to make sure that blind people are included in future legislation involving self driving vehicles. On July 19, the NFB spoke to the House Energy and Commerce committee in order to make sure that legislation going forward would include accessibility for the blind and visually impaired.
Thank you for listening to episode number 13 of the Life After Blindness podcast! Please return next week so that together we can continue this journey to find that there truly can be a Life After Blindness.

LABCast #12 – Accessible Televisions, Audio Description, ACB and NFB, 10 Years of iPhone

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Welcome to episode #12 of the Life After Blindness podcast.
This week I talk about the new accessibility features of Phillips and Samsung televisions. I also discuss audio description as it relates to new over the air regulations as well as Amazon Prime Video. I mention a couple of the more notable things to be announced at the ACB and NFB national conventions. In in an upcoming podcast we will have special coverage of all the major announcements coming out of the conventions.
I also discuss a little bit about why I missed an episode of the podcast.
I then share another “because of my blindness” story.
The podcast wraps up with my announcement that an article I wrote about the iPhone and it’s impact on the blind and visually impaired was published on the mighty.com.
I break down the article by section and discuss each bullet point.

Thank you very much for listening to the Life After Blindness podcast! Be sure to listen again next week as together we find that there truly can be a life after blindness

LABCast #11: Because of my Blindness, Audio Description in Amazon Prime, Black Box for iPhone, Father’s Day with my daughter Alyssa and more!

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Welcome to episode #11 of the Life After Blindness podcast!
The podcast begins with a “Because of My Blindness” story. In episode #9, I shared the story of how I met Mr. and Mrs. Obama before they became the President and First Lady. I asked you to share your stories that have had a positive or inspirational impact on your life. The catch being that it happened because of your blindness. In other words, it might not have ever happened to you if you were not blind.
Many of you submitted your stories. One of those stories came from Bobby who sent me a voice message using the app Vorail. He tells of how, because of his blindness, he has now met his current fiancé.
Do you have a positive story to tell that might not have happened if you weren’t blind? Please send your stories, written or audio, to tim@lifeafterblindness.com and I might share it on a future episode!

Since the last episode was completely devoted to covering Apple’s WWDC keynote, there is a lot of news that we haven’t been able to cover.
First up this week is the announcement from ACB and Amazon that they will now provide audio description tracks for their original content and like Netflix before them, strive to get audio description whenever possible. I talk with you about my experiences so far using audio description in the Amazon Prime Video app for iPhone as well as on a Kindle Fire.
You can also hear me being interviewed about audio description in Amazon Prime on the RNIB Tech Talk podcast.
In a semi-related story, I tell you about a company named Actiview. They have released an app that will automatically synchronize an audio description track with a movie at the theater. So no more using a clunky device that may or may not work or even be available. They hope that their less expensive approach and use of one’s own device will appeal to movie theaters and blind customers alike.
In a first of its kind law suit, Winn-Dixie was taken to trial. The judge said that their website is so closely tied to its stores, that it must make it accessible per the ADA. This is very important because there are many law suits out there pushing for companies to make their apps and websites accessible with screen readers.
Finally this week, I share a story from England about autonomous pods that are being developed by the Insight Project. With government funding 2.2 million pounds towards the project, the hope is to develop a slow moving, short-range vehicle that can be used in places like airports or small residential areas. These pods are being tested by people who are blind and visually impaired and work very much like any other driverless vehicle. Rather than relying on tracks or rails, these pods use sensory technology inside and out to help it navigate. It also comes with an accessible app for your smart phone that enables you to not only call for the pod but also give you information about your surroundings while you travel.

Next, I demonstrate a new puzzle game for the iPhone called “Black Box: Think Outside the Box‘. This is a mainstream app developed by Ryan McCloud. The developer has made a point to reach out to the blind community to make sure the game is accessible. When playing this game, you do truly need to “think outside the box” and consider all the things that your phone can do. This will help you solve the more than 70 puzzles now available in the game.

The podcast wraps up with an interview with my daughter Alyssa. We talk about how we spent Father’s Day. Then I ask Alyssa about a story out of Miami where children were able to pretend to shave their Dad’s faces. we discuss the different ways these children are able to learn.
Thank you so much for listening to episode #11 of the podcast! Please come back again and join me on this journey so that together, we can truly find that there can be a life after blindness.

LABCast #10: Coverage of the 2017 Apple WWDC Keynote

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Welcome to episode #10 of the Life After Blindness podcast! My guests this wweek are Holly Anderson from the Maccessibility Roundtable podcast, Derek Daniel from Life After Sight Loss and Shaun Preece from RNIB Tech Talk and Audio Pizza podcasts.

On June 5, Apple kicked off its annual worldwide developers conference. Tim Cook and others from Apple, delivered a keynote where they announced many new features and updates. Being a developers conference, Apple announced many updates to the various operating systems. Including iPhone, Apple TV and Apple Watch.
They also announced many upgrades and refinements to several hardware products as well. This includes iPad Pro in the Mac.
Please join us as we discuss the many announcements that were made during the keynote.

Life After Blindness Spotlight Podcast with Tim Schwartz

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Welcome to the Life After Blindness Spotlight. This is the podcast where I ordinarily interview someone connected to the blind and visually impaired community. However, I’m doing things a little bit differently this week. this week, I’m Sharing with you some of MY journey of a life with blindness.
So please listen as I talk about my childhood and how my blindness began. I will also talk about my life and career since then. And I will tell you about my life now, about my work and my family.
I wrap up by telling you about my goals for the Life After Blindness website and podcast.
Thank you for listening and exploring my journey with me! Please come back again as I interview others about their journey with a life after blindness.

LABCast #9: synthetic Retinas, smart paint, Amazon echo communication features and WWDC Rumors With Special Guest Holly Anderson

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Welcome to episode nine of the Life After Blindness Podcast. Returning this week is Holly Anderson from the Maccessibility Roundtable Podcast.
Because of my blindness:
Do you have a positive or inspirational story to share that might not of ever happen to you if you were not blind?
Unfortunately learning negative experiences can happen when you were blind. I want to hear about your positive experiences. Have you gotten to go somewhere, meet someone or do something that you never would’ve been able to do if you hadn’t been blind.
Please send your audio recordings or written stories to me at: tim@lifeafterblindness.com
I will share your stories in upcoming episodes of the podcast.

Headlines:
Holly Anderson joins me to discuss a few news stories that affect the blind community.
First, we discuss an oxford students research into creating a synthetic retina. It’s in its very early stages but could potentially be better excepted by the body and provide more realistic vision than other retinal replacements available now.
Next, we discuss the new initiative coming out of Tampa Florida. And tapas efforts to become a “smart city”, they are looking to use smart paint with smart canes at certain crosswalks. Sensors in the smart paint would let your smart cane know where you are with in the crosswalk as you go from one side of the street to another. Holly talks about the potential pros and cons to using a technology like this.
Finally, we will talk about our experiences using the new communications features for Amazon echo in the Amazon Alexa app.

Review:
If you ever wanted to use your Amazon echo or the Alexa app to send and receive texts and voice messages or to place phone calls; then the new communications update is just what you been waiting for!
In this review, I will walk you through the new features and demonstrate how they work.

Call he returns for the last segment of the podcast to talk with me about what we expect from this year’s WWDC conference from Apple. We talk about rumors and speculation surrounding the upcoming keynote address on July 5. We also talked about what our “one more thing” would be.

Thank you so much for listening to episode nine of the Life After Blindness Podcast! Please come back again as together we continue our journey to find that there can truly be a life after blindness.

Life After Blindness Spotlight Interview with Frank Facio

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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 speak with Frank Facio.
Frank is been an employee of the United States Postal Service for almost 35 years. During his life and career, Frank has faced many difficult transitions. Frank’s positive “roll with the flow” attitude combined with the insight and help of many wonderful people along the way, has helped him stay strong and overcome.
In this interview, Frank talks about how blindness has affected his marriage, career and his passions. Two of these passions are playing Beep Baseball and performing with his band, ‘Steele Horse Country’.
We highlight many of Frank’s personal and professional milestones. Then, we wrap up by discussing Frank’s future plans.
Thank you very much for listening to the Life After Blindness spotlight interview with Frank Facio!

Related Links:
Frank’s emial: bigfaz58@gmail.com
Steelehorse Country on Facebook

LABCast #8: AMC Theater, Space Accessibility and Google AI. Parenting with Holly Bonner. 2 Years of AppleWatch.

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Welcome to episode #8 of the Life After Blindness Podcast! My guest this week is Holly Bonner from blindmotherhood.com.

In this week’s news, AMC Theaters settled a lawsuit which will cause them to provide better services to the blind and visually impaired. Also, The University of Chicago announced a new study where they hope to find better ways of teaching astronomy to blind children. Finally, Google announced a new AI technology that can detect Diabetic Retinopathy early by scanning the retinas.

I then speak with Holly Bonner from blindmotherhood.com. She talks about her experiences with parenting and caring for a household from a blind mother’s point of view.

The podcast wraps up with a discussion about the Apple Watch. It’s been 2 years since the Apple Watch was released. Tim talks about the differences between Series 1 and Series 2. He then gives examples of different uses for the watch.

Thank you for listening to episode #8 of the Life After Blindness Podcast. Please join us again as we find that there can truly be a life after blindness.

Life After Blindness Spotlight Interview with Derek Daniel

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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 speak with Derek Daniel from Life After Sight Loss.
Derek talks about growing up in a small town in southern Indiana after having been adopted at just three weeks old. growing up, Derek discovered he had a passion for the performing arts as well as for helping people. Combined with his interest in technology as well as his experiences through church ministry, Derek is using these talents and interests to help others through his new website and podcast.
Listen as Derek describes losing sight at age 18. And how the love of family and Friends as well as his love for the performing arts, helped him through the transition. Derek also discusses how he manages being a stay at home blind father while producing YouTube videos, blogs and podcasts. He then shares his hopes for the future of Life After Sight Loss before ending with some inspirational thoughts for those who are losing their vision.

Thank you very much for listening to the Life After Blindness Spotlight interview with Derek Daniel.