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 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.

LABCast #7: AIRA and the Boston Marathon, 3-D Ultrasounds and Movie Reading App with Lauren Hayes

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Tim’s guest this week is Lauren Hayes from AccessibilityOz.
Tim and Lauren begin the podcast by discussing Aira and it’s use in this year’s Boston Marathon. Working closely with Aira, a man completed the marathon using the service. Tim and Lauren discuss how it was used and what could be learned from this test going forward.
Next, Tim talks about a 3-D printing technology used in a hospital in Brazil. A blind couple worked with their doctor in order to have 3-D printed models of their child’s ultrasound in each trimester of pregnancy. This is the first time 3-D printing has been used while built into the ultrasound machine. Lauren and Tim give their opinions on the story as well as the medical and educational possibilities of this technology going forward.
A new app has been released in Australia called Movie Reading. This app enables Aussies to download and sync an audio described track to use with movies at the local cinema. Lauren talks about the current state of audio description in Australian cinemas. She then gives her opinion of the app and discusses it’s accessibility as well as the lacking accessibility of Movie Readings website.
Thank you very much for listening to the Life After Blindness podcast! Please join us again as together we continue our journey to 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 as well as taking photos 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.
The iPhone is it just great at helping you identify photos an objects but it also has inspired many blind photographers. The high-quality camera combined with spacial and face recognition has afforded blind photographers a utility that they have never had in a camera before!

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!