Panel – Brian Norton, Belva Smith, Josh Anderson, Wade Wingler Q1 Venmo app accessibility with VoiceOver Q2 Best phone for users who are blind Q3 Too many browser tabs Q4 Chrome browser & ChromeOS on Windows 10 Q5 Voice input systems for people who are blind Q6 Do we will need our home/desk phones
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WADE WINGLER: Welcome to ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions with your host Brian Norton, Director of Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads. This is a show in which we address your questions about assistive technology, the hardware, software, tools and gadgets that help people with disabilities lead more independent and fulfilling lives. Have a question you’d like answered on our show? Send a tweet with the hashtag #ATFAQ, call our listener line at 317-721-7124, or send us an email at email@example.com. The world of assistive technology has questions, and we have answers. And now here’s your host, Brian Norton.
BRIAN NORTON: Hello and welcome to ATFAQ episode 51. My name is Brian Norton and I’m the host of the show. Today I’m so happy to be in the studio with a few of my colleagues where we can get into the questions that you all have sent in. Before we do that let me go around and introduce everybody that’s here.
First off I’ll introduce Belva Smith. Belva is the team lead for our vision team here at Easter Seals crossroads. You want to say hey?
BELVA SMITH: Hi everybody.
BRIAN NORTON: Excellent. We also have Josh Anderson. Josh is the manager of clinical assistance technology here. You want to say hey?
JOSH ANDERSON: Hey everybody. Welcome to the show.
BRIAN NORTON: Last but not least, Wade is the popular host of assistive technology update and VP over all of our assistive technology services.
WADE WINGLER: Hey everybody. How are you?
BRIAN NORTON: Again my name is Brian Norton host of the show.
Before we jump into everything we have for you today, I just want to take a few moments for folks who are new listeners. We are growing in our listenership and want to make sure that we take some time to explain the format of the show to those folks so that they can start participating and jumping in with all of the rest of us. Our show is a question and answer format, so we collect questions in a variety different ways about assistive technology-related stuff. That could be recommendations, different types of equipment, different types of devices that are out there. We collect those things up throughout the week and come in here and sit around as a group and try to answer those.
If you are interested, and as you listen today, as you want to not only provide us question that we can try to answer but also if you have feedback. Maybe we have a question today that hits a chord with you, something you’ve dealt with in the past and would like to chime in and give us your two cents worth on things that you guys might be thinking about related to that, please do. We have a variety of ways to get in contact with us.
You can give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124. You can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can send us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. We monitor all those throughout the week. It’s a great way for us to collect your feedback, suggestions, questions. Please be a part of that. We’d love to hear from you. We love when we get things from folks.
The other thing I’ll throw out there, if you’re looking for ways to share our show with other folks, a variety of ways to find us. ITunes. We had a website set up, ATFAQshow.com. You can find us on stitcher, the Google play store, and of course our website www.eastersealstech.com. Just a variety of ways to find us and share the show with other folks.
The first thing that we always do is go through some of the feedback we received this past week. I think if you listen to our preview show, we had gotten an email from someone who is a blind educator and was giving us lots of feedback. We had to break that over to shows and got another couple of instances we will pull from the email in reference to a couple of questions from episode 49.
The first one was in reference to a voicemail from episode 49 about purchasing a new computer and considerations of a possible move to magic, which is a screen magnifier on her home computer.
BELVA SMITH: Move from magic.
BRIAN NORTON: Yeah, moving from ZoomText to magic. Is that right?
BELVA SMITH: From magic to ZoomText. Romich here’s what he had to say about that. I would recommend to see if they could move away from magic and move towards ZoomText. I have been following the different mergers to what is now known as VFO. Even though they aren’t saying so, all the moves that they have been making shows that both window eyes and magic will be going away and JAWS with ZoomText will be staying. Now I believe miss Belva Smith, our comrade over here, touched on it. Fusion was introduced a couple months ago, having both JAWS and Zoom text working together now. If they can weigh and have a friend – or if they themselves are going to the summer conventions — they might have it again as they did a couple of years ago where you can purchase a reduced license for any of those projects, jaws, ZoomText, magic, or open book. I think there was a reduced price at some point, $75 if you are at a conference to be able to pick those up instead of the $600-$900 respectively for the different products.
BELVA SMITH: It is my understanding – and I could be wrong about this. To get a license for that price, I believe you already have to be a licensed user. I could be wrong about that.
BRIAN NORTON: I would assume so because I’ve never seen them discount it that much.
BELVA SMITH: I think if you are a licensed user of any version, if you’re at the conference and have the $75 and have your license number, they will give you the version 18 for the $75. They do that at every conference.
BRIAN NORTON: Wade, maybe we mentioned it on the show back then, but I think you mentioned that you just did a show where you had Eric Damery on the show from VFO.
WADE WINGLER: I did a two-part episode with Eric Damery where we talked about fusion and ZoomText and JAWS.
BRIAN NORTON: He is their product a guy.
WADE WINGLER: He is there vice president of software. I don’t have his exact title in front of me. It was episode 304 and 305 of assistant to budget update. We covered a lot of that stuff.
BELVA SMITH: To clarify, I think that fusion is separate from the fact that JAWS and Zoom text are now working together. Is that correct? So fusion is its own software; however, a user can now have ZoomText magnification and JAWS working together on the same computer. I also think it’s very important that we say that there has been no official mention that window eyes and magic or either one are going to go away.
WADE WINGLER: I haven’t heard anything about it.
BELVA SMITH: It’s an assumption.
BRIAN NORTON: There is a difference between trending and something that’s a real. I think you are right, there hasn’t been an official announcement about any of that stuff.
The second part of the email that we got was in reference to our wildcard question from that episode, episode 49. It was about what type of computer we would end up buying for a student these days. Between Mac and Windows and other things. The listener said, as for the listener who was asking about what a shame to get for their kid who was going to college, I would also look into student discounts, talking about how some of the universities, if you are a student or staff at a university, they can offer you significant discounts on certain types of computers and tablets. Plus if they deal with Microsoft at all, they may be able to get you office 365 for free as long as they are part of the University. All they would need to provide is there school email to sign in with an existing subscription.
I think that’s pretty universal with most schools, either a free version or a discounted version of office might come with. Also with the computers that are available, depending on the different departments you are in, certain departments have certain requirements so they can get two different discounts on computers. That is certainly something to think about as you do that.
WADE WINGLER: I found those discounts on computers at the campus bookstore. It’s either Dell or somebody who has an arrangement like that. Even at our local Apple Store, if you show a student or faculty ID, they will give you a discount.
BELVA SMITH: I think Microsoft will do that with a student ID even if you are not going necessarily through the bookstore or whatever.
BRIAN NORTON: Those are examples of the feedback that we get on the show. It’s always great to be able to plug that in with where we might have left off with our answers to those questions. Thank you very much for sending that in. Continue to listen and send us your feedback. We would love to be able to hear from you in that arena.
BRIAN NORTON: Our first question is a voicemail. I was asked to read it instead of playing it. The color has a question about voiceover in the Venmo app. She recently upgraded. The Venmo app is a PayPal alternative from what I understand, a new online payment system that is wildly popular among younger folks.
WADE WINGLER: Which is why you don’t know about it.
BRIAN NORTON: Right. It’s true. Her question comes up as, after she upgraded it can’t it doesn’t work well with voice over. She had had much success before she updated it, and now it doesn’t work as well. She wants to know how you go about letting the app maker know that she has some accessibility concerns.
That’s a great question because when you update, it’s kind of like Russian roulette, will it work or will it not. How will that work for you.
BELVA SMITH: Maybe check on AppleVis before you upgrade. I was able to find a number where you can call them and also an email address where you could email support. You may get some interest in them working with you to get it more accessible. Do you want me to say it on the air or do you want me to put it in the notes.
BRIAN NORTON: Is a specifically for the Venmo app?
BELVA SMITH: Yes. The phone number was – they were actually two of them. 855-812-4430. Their email address is email@example.com. It says you can also submit a request through the help center from the app itself. Those were three different ways you can reach out to them.
BRIAN NORTON: I would think most apps have some sort of support feature to it where you can – at least an email box that, if you have accessibility concerns with an upgrade or download or the first time using it, and is not working well for you or you are having difficulty can’t there is probably a support IMO that you can email. I think that’s where you run into issues with apps. Apps are $1.99, sometimes a little bit more expensive. The support just isn’t there like what you get with the traditional assistive technology, the software that you get.
BELVA SMITH: I don’t think this is support as much as it is information. They may not be aware that whatever the update was broke something that made the voiceover not work with it. Really, you are just reaching out to them to say are you were aware of the situation. Sometimes they will reach back out to you and say no Kyle we had no idea but let’s work together to figure this out.
JOSH ANDERSON: With an app like this, I’m more apt to help you out. Just because the more people they have using it, the more money they make with each transaction. As opposed to somebody just told you a $1.99 app and will make anything else off of you, won’t be more apt to do it.
WADE WINGLER: The more people they hear from, the more likely they are to fix it. It’s like any other bug fixes or feature requests. The more they hear it. That’s why I always encourage people, like Belva said, look at AppleVis because you will see folks talking about it. Sometimes those folks will encourage more people to reach out and request that accessibility.
BRIAN NORTON: You mentioned AppleVis. You want to give listeners a step on what that place is, especially for the new ones? I know we’ve talked about it many times on the show.
WADE WINGLER: It’s AppleVis.com, a website mostly made up of volunteers who are doing most things vision and Apple related. They have a blog, podcast, for him, and a big app directory where they talk about the accessibility of various apps using voiceover and zoom and things like that. If you are interested in vision related accessibility for Apple, it’s the hub for all that stuff. They also contribute to assistive technology update from time to time and our friends of the organization.
BELVA SMITH: And they are actual users.
WADE WINGLER: A lot of them are users and professionals in the field. They really know their stuff.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s AppleVis. Is there a similar place for folks who use android?
WADE WINGLER: I don’t think so.
BELVA SMITH: There is. I can think of it. Brian can you remember what that is?
BRIAN NORTON: We may come back to that and try to give you an answer on that one.
BELVA SMITH: We’ve talked about it before and one of the other shows.
WADE WINGLER: There used to be a podcast about android accessibility. I haven’t heard a lot about the source for android accessibility that is quite to the level of AppleVis for Apple stuff. That’s a question for the listeners. Someone is screaming at us at the scene to the podcasts. It’s a great opportunity for you to email us or call the listener line and set us straight.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next one is a voicemail that we received. I’m going to go ahead and let the message play.
SPEAKER: Hello, I’m calling for the show ATFAQ. My question is, I’m in the market for a phone but I don’t know which one is good for blind people. I’m taking a look at iPhone or android. Can you do a segment on the show for voiceover versus talkback. Because I know that’s the screen reader technology that the companies use.
BRIAN NORTON: The essential part of the question is, can you do a segment on the show talking about talkback on android and voiceover for iPhone, which one is better, pros and cons, those kinds of things.
I’ll jump in initially. I’m an iPhone user. I have a Samsung tablet. One of the things I find with the differences between the two is, what I really like is voiceover is built in. It’s part of accessibility and is foundational to what iPhone does. It’s already there. When apps are designed, it’s able to take advantage of those features because that’s a part of it. It’s a part of the phone. I find that voiceover for me works really well. When you think about talkback, talkback is like a third-party application that you download onto the android device. There is less — sometimes I don’t get it to work all that smoothly for myself. Belva, is that a fair assessment?
BELVA SMITH: Yes and no. I don’t think there is a right or wrong choice. I think android is a perfectly good choice for many people obviously. The iPhone is also a very good choice. What I would suggest to this person is that you go into a store, maybe a Best Buy or AT&T phone store or something where you can actually hold the phone in your hand and hear some of the feedback that you’re going to get from the talkback versus feedback that you’re going to get from voiceover. It’s been my personal experience and opinion, voiceover to me seems to give more instruction. Talkback, so it gives me the information, it doesn’t tell me specifically what my next step is. I don’t know if they just assume that if you are using it, you should know. I would definitely recommend that you get your hands on it. Also look at the different costs of the phones. Look at how much your monthly bill is going to be, one versus the other, to help you make your decision. I know it’s hard, most of the assistive technology programs aren’t going to have a phone that you can actually use, but that’s what I’m suggesting to go to the Apple Store or a Best Buy or someplace where you can track the phones out.
WADE WINGLER: You go to the Apple store to try out android?
BELVA SMITH: You go to the Apple store to try out iPhone.
JOSH ANDERSON: You can also go to your local AT act project and borrow a couple of tablets. It’s going to be a different size but will still have the same gestures and everything.
BELVA SMITH: But it’s going to be different with a phone. What kind of information am I going to get when the phone call comes in? How my going to answer the phone? How am I going to hang it up? How my going to get the voicemail? The process and doing all of those things will be different. You can get a general idea using a tablet but you are not going to actually know until you are using the phone. Talk to your friends and family. Find out what they are using or what they know about the different phones and which one they prefer.
WADE WINGLER: It’s so funny because we are struggling with this a little bit. We do have an in-house android expert that just happens to be out and unavailable to answer the question. Brian, a little Google research, talkback has been installed by default on android since version 4.0, which is 2011. I didn’t even realize this, but on versions 4.1 and newer, even during the set up, on the setup screen, if you hold down two fingers on the setup screen, it will recognize it and turn on talkback and start the tutorial right there. It’s a lot like my experience has been with Apple products when, during the setup process, if you either just way and don’t do anything or do a special gesture or a click, it will get into the tutorial and get that up and going. We need to spread the android information around a little bit better internally. We standardized on Apple products a long time ago, and I think this is true for a lot of people in the assistive technology and blindness community. Because they had such great accessibility before anybody else. We sort of got on that wagon and haven’t gotten much away from it in a long time. We do a little bit here but are not android fluent as well as we should be.
BRIAN NORTON: At AppleVis, which are those folks that really dig into some of these things, they actually have a blog about iOS or android for the visually impaired and talk about the pros and cons and break that down a little bit for folks. I did talk to Anna earlier today before she left. Her take on android is that it’s come a long way and that there are some interesting features that she finds that are really helpful on android that aren’t available on iOS.
BELVA SMITH: Some of the apps are cheaper on android and iPhone.
BRIAN NORTON: Exactly, KNFB reader, which is really popular, is significantly cheaper.
BELVA SMITH: I’m not so sure – you just said they’ve come a long way. They’ve made improvement but I think they’ve always been there but not as popular, and they are becoming more popular now. Like Wade just pointed out, the features are there. We just weren’t aware of them because it wasn’t as popular. In reference to that last question, you can go to androidaccess.net, and there is all kinds of information about different apps and also a place where you can Tweet for android users that are visually impaired. Androidaccess.net might be a good place to go and see what people are saying.
The thing is also, with an iPhone or iPad, you know what you are getting. Android is huge.
BRIAN NORTON: Different flavors.
BELVA SMITH: And different phones. Android doesn’t just mean a Google phone.
JOSH ANDERSON: It might be Samsung or LG or who knows what.
BELVA SMITH: But an iPhone is an iPhone. I think that’s important to point out.
BRIAN NORTON: Those will tell you in to certain versions. Many times they are not upgradable as much as what an iPhone can be upgradable with different versions and fixes and support they tack on two things. You have a certain version of android, you may be able to upgrade but you have to have the hardware to support the new operating system. Upgrading may become a challenge.
WADE WINGLER: This will be a fun episode for us to do, is to dial some people and who are android versus Apple accessibility experts and argue on the point you just made. One is better, once or not, one is more upgradable, one is not. That would be a fun show. If anyone is a self-proclaimed android accessibility expert, give us a call or let us know.
BELVA SMITH: I’m not saying either one is better. I think they are both equally good. There are more things you need to ask yourself before you make that decision. Number one, how does the phone feel in your hand? Number two, how much is the monthly bill? Number three, who was going to push those updates to you? Some of the android phones and carrier providers are not pushing the updates. That can be very important, especially if you are using your phone to do things like pay your bills and stuff like that.
BRIAN NORTON: As a pull a show together in the future, I’ll keep that in mind and see if we can pull some of those folks together. Please let us know if you are android experts. We would love to talk with you and learn more from you and also have you on the show to dig in more about the accessibility features available on android versus iOS.
Don’t forget, if you have feedback or questions, you can give us a call on our listener line. That’s 317-721-7124. We are on to our next question.
BRIAN NORTON: The next question is, I also have 10 or more tabs open at one time on my browser and I’m looking for a better way to organize them. Is there anything that can be done to manage them better?
JOSH ANDERSON: Closed them.
WADE WINGLER: Stop it.
BELVA SMITH: Exactly.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s really a challenge. A lot of computers, like my daughter, they use chrome for everything so she worked for the chrome browser and they have all these different tabs open for documents, Google Drive, spreadsheets, canvas, all these different things that have to be on a different tab. Eventually what happens is when you have so many tabs open, you start to see very little of what each tab is and you have to click on them all to get to them to see what it has and contains. I can sympathize with this person about how to better organize your tabs and know what you have.
BELVA SMITH: First of all, I don’t think I have ever had 10 tabs open on my computer. Doesn’t that slow things down?
WADE WINGLER: Yeah, but I’ve done it when I’m researching particular things and have a bunch of stuff open. It happens. Usually two or three.
BELVA SMITH: I can see how it happens. Usually after so many, I will start to close them down because it’s too confusing. I did find that there are also keystrokes that you can use that are sometimes easier than clicking.
BRIAN NORTON: Like CTRL-TAB to switch between them.
BELVA SMITH: CTRL-TAB to move forward and CTRL-SHIFT-TAB to move backwards. Of course Command-W [to close tabs] for Mac. You can install a tab management extension. TooMany Tabs and OneTab for chrome and firefox, which sounds pretty cool to me. What it does is turns it into a list. Because I work with screen readers, anything that can be in a list view is always better. It says that the one tab will turn all your tabs in a list to you can arrow up and down through the different ones.
BRIAN NORTON: I think there are lots of exceptions that will do that very specific thing. I have Tabli loaded on as a crummy tension on my computer. If I’ve got multiple windows open, it doesn’t get rid of all tabs. It just lists tabs in a dialog box. Arrow up and down through them. It gives you the full rundown of what’s in that particular window so it doesn’t get, off because it’s in a big dialog box.
BELVA SMITH: I think you can also use apps like the Pocket or Instapaper. If you see a webpage that you don’t want to read now but want to come back and read later, you can stick it in Pocket and pull it up later to review. It’s like a favorite but not a favorite.
WADE WINGLER: That Tabli is two things I’ve learned from you in the last week or so. One of the things that I struggle with with too many browser windows open as I’m a Gmail user and I find myself using Gmail a lot and then other tabs in the browser. I’m always fresh and because I’ve been doing this a long time and I used to ALT-TAB between my programs. Now on Mac I Command-TAB between programs. But I can’t do that to get from my calendar to Gmail because it’s in a tab in a browser and isolated. Brian got me to use Kiwi recently which is a Gmail program that runs sort of like Outlook but for your Google documents. That actually solved one of my problems of having too many tabs open, is now I run Kiwi in a separate program for Gmail and I find myself having one less tab open in my chrome browser. It makes it easier for me to use a keyboard to get around my Gmail without having so many tabs open. That’s not exactly answering this question but it’s been pretty remarkable for me that just in a few days of using it I’m like, wow, it’s easy to get in and out of my Gmail.
BRIAN NORTON: I’ve been using that for a while and it really does save a lot of time and effort and hunting around for where you are supposed to be as you are looking for a particular document. You just said two things you learned for me?
WADE WINGLER: Two things I learned from you in less than a week.
BRIAN NORTON: There is always a first. As far as these browser tabs, I would look at which particular browser you use because a lot of times within the browser itself there are ways to manage those things much better. I know in Firefox, you can group particular links or tabs together, the same thing for chrome. There are a lot of things that are built into the browser itself that let you better manage those. Something I’ll also do is, instead of opening a million tabs — and again this may slow down my computer a little bit — I might just open them up in different windows, and then you can use ALT-TAB between those particular browser windows which seems to work for me.
BELVA SMITH: I’ve probably done that.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s a different way to handle that. It’s a good question. I would look at these different chrome extensions. There are probably 20 or 30 of them that, if you go into the chrome store and look up extensions and talk about organizing tabs, you’ll find many of those listed because it seems to be a common problem for lots of folks.
BELVA SMITH: If you accidentally close a tab that you want to reopen, instead of having to go back and look through your history, you can use CTRL-SHIFT-T to open up the last tab that you closed. If you’re on a Mac, it’s Command-SHIFT-T.
BRIAN NORTON: Is that with an chrome or both?
BELVA SMITH: Both.
BRIAN NORTON: We are learning all sorts of new things today. That’s very helpful. If you maybe use a different extension or different way of going about and organizing your tabs within your browser window, whether that Safari, chrome, Firefox or whatever you use, chime in and let us know. We love to hear about those things. You can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is a voicemail so we will play that as well.
SPEAKER: This Mary. I am an assistive technology consultant in Kentucky. I have a student who has a ThinkPad Yoga running Windows 10 and has pretty severe cerebral palsy. The problem she is having is that pretty much everybody at her school is now using a chrome book, so the teachers are using chrome tools. With a chrome book, a student will have to sign in once and are pretty much signed into everything. But with this student, doing everything through a chrome browser, she is having to sign in multiple times which is difficult for her. I’m thinking she needs some hotkeys or something like that that she can accomplish with a lot fewer strokes. I am not a PC or Windows person. I’m pretty much all Mac in my experience. Any of you Windows guides out there that has helped or a website I can go to to find hotkeys for her email address and password and such. It would be a great help.
WADE WINGLER: That’s a tough one.
BRIAN NORTON: That is a hard one. A couple of things that I start to think about. The first thing is, obviously if you are using, it sounds like Google quite a bit, and the regular student, if you will, are on chrome books and we are using a Windows 10 computer to access those, it sounds like the big problem is putting in those usernames and passwords. The original thought, that I think Josh can expand on a little bit, is that Windows or the browser itself will often store those things for you.
JOSH ANDERSON: A lot of times in Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, any of those, as soon as you put in the password, a box pops up and ask if you want to save. I don’t remember what exactly it says. It should save those.
BRIAN NORTON: Typically when you go back to that page, it’ll ask if you want to enter in the password. Is that right?
JOSH ANDERSON: Yes.
BRIAN NORTON: There are also password managers. I use a program called last pass. Last pass is a browser extension, if you will, that is the password manager. So whenever I go to a page where I need to log in, it recognizes that page and will give me a prompt to say do you want to go ahead and put your password in. Or you can automate it where it automatically puts it and if it’s already running in the background. It’ll look for the username and password fields and put those things in. You may check out last pass as well.
Other options as far as creating shortcuts for things or keyboard macros, if you will, we’ve used a program around here for folks who have difficulty with input into the computer and using something called abbreviation expansion. Those two programs, word expander that is a free abbreviation expansion software that can be used in Windows. You type a couple of keystrokes and it expands too much more. If I wanted to put my email address, I could put bmail, and it would expand to email@example.com. That’s an option as well. Word expander is a free version. If you want a paid for version which has a couple more bells and whistles, there is one called phrase expander. That will let you become more sophisticated with it. It’s certainly something to look in as well. The equivalent for phrase and word expander on a Mac is text expander. If you are familiar with that, imagine doing the same thing to do with text expander to a certain degree on a Windows computer.
JOSH ANDERSON: If you’re really just looking to put in email addresses, passwords, those kinds of things, word expander should be plenty. I don’t know if you need the features of the other.
BRIAN NORTON: Right. Belva, you mentioned Windows has some capability to create those as well?
BELVA SMITH: Windows 10 does. I went to MicrosoftSupport.com and put in “keyboard macros”, and they gave me the instructions on how to do it. Also Tech-Junky.com has the instructions for how to create some keyboard macros for Windows 10. It’s a good reliable source that I use frequently.
BRIAN NORTON: We’ve used a program called auto hot key which allows you to string several keystrokes together. If the person just have difficulty not only entering a username and password, auto hot key will allow you to string events together. By opening up your start menu, you can click on chrome, it can wait 10 seconds and then allow you to click into the username. It allows you to automate the events that happened and get to certain places. That might be another option for a Windows computer.
WADE WINGLER: I don’t know if this fits the use case because I would need to talk and learn more about it. If what she really needs to do is run chrome OS on her Windows laptop, you can do that. It’s kind of wonky, but you can install the chrome operating system on windows and even run chrome OS off of a flash drive. If that’s the best solution, you can track that laptop into being a chrome book, at least for the times at school when that’s an issue, and maybe bypass some of those problems.
BRIAN NORTON: I would say try a couple of those things and let us know how it goes, let us know if you found something that successful out of those suggestions. Or if there are folks that are listening, maybe there are some other suggestions about ways to create keyboard macros, way to be able to get those usernames and passwords put in more quickly and bring those things together. We would love to be able to hear about those things as well. A great way to do that is to twee of something with the hashtag ATFAQ. We keep a monitor on that as we hear back from folks.
BRIAN NORTON: The next one is an email from a listener. The email is, I live in Nevada and my son has limited mobility and cortical vision impairment. My question is about voice input program that can be used by someone with a vision impairment. I’ve tried voice input programs in the past and think it would be hard for my son to track along with the voice input program with his vision impairment. Are there voice input program specifically designed for folks with vision impairment.
BELVA SMITH: Yes. You can use a program called J Say with JAWS and Dragon NaturallySpeaking so that the person can control the computer while also getting the verbal feedback. There is also guide hands-free, which you can control the computer with your voice while it’s also giving you back the verbal information. There is a program called Say Magic. I don’t know this person, how much vision, if they have any or not. It could be that they do have some usable vision. I would like to say that this is one of those situations where this person really should try to get a full evaluation to see. It may be more than just software that they need. The training that is necessary for those kinds of things is pretty intense.
BRIAN NORTON: I think a lot of times with voice input, even in general if you have an opportunity to be able to use the keyboard and the mouse at all, even if it’s a funky alternative keyboard or mouse, having that in conjunction with voice input is really useful and really important. You can dramatically increase your input. It makes correcting information much easier. Having an evaluation in that instance would be really helpful to see if there are some physical types of access things that we can put in like a keyboard or mouse to be able to improve the input alongside voice input programs. There used to be something called Magna Talk, depending on the person’s vision impairment. I thought that allowed you to link up Dragon and maybe the built-in magnifier or ZoomText or magic.
BELVA SMITH: I think that was out there but we never had the opportunity to actually use that here. Primarily J say with a screen reader is the only one that we’ve ever worked with. Trying to control the computer with your voice and use the magnification, I have done that just by having ZoomText and Dragon on the same computer. There are so many complications with it that it’s so frustrating.
BRIAN NORTON: Primarily if you zoom in on something and you are dictating, and it is happening off the screen, that’s the tracking issue. You can tell if it recognized it correctly or if it saw it.
WADE WINGLER: It was Magna Talk. It worked with Dragon Pro and ZoomText up through Windows 7. It doesn’t seem to be around anymore.
BELVA SMITH: I don’t think Say Magic is around anymore either.
JOSH ANDERSON: There is another one. I think it’s still in beta. Dictation bridge is supposed to work with NVDA.
BELVA SMITH: That’s why I didn’t even bring that one up because it is still in beta and there is such a learning curve to doing this anyway. Trying to do it was something that’s in beta would – unless you really want to dig in up to your elbows.
JOSH ANDERSON: But is it free? It works with NVDA which is free, so it may be something to try out and see. I know it is still in beta.
BELVA SMITH: It is free. You are right, free is probably good to try. But if you don’t have any training, you are probably not going to know what to do with it and would not have a good experience with it. I would definitely encourage this person to reach out. I don’t know the age of her son, if we are talking an adult or pre-adult. I would definitely encourage her to reach out for some assistance with an assistive technology evaluation.
BRIAN NORTON: Great. I look into some of those things. I did look up and say Magic and it looks old on the website that I’m looking at. I’m talking about Microsoft Word 2003, 2007. There is nothing more updated than that that I can see. They do say visit Evas, which is the company who does Guide. You might be able to find more information about say Magic on their website evas.com.
If there are folks who are listening in this particular arena, it’s a very specialized type of computer software for folks. When you’re trying to mesh the needs of a person who has some physical access issues to the computer with a visual access issues and you have to have some specialized software to help those things – because I think you are right. The tracking piece of that becomes a real issue for folks. The one that we’ve had the most success with is J say and that seemed to be a pretty solid product. There is the other one that is in beta.
JOSH ANDERSON: Dictation bridge.
BRIAN NORTON: I think that has a lot of promise and they are working hard on that. But until it comes out and we’ve gotten our hands on it, it’s hard to say that’s going to turn out to be what we think it’s going to be.
BELVA SMITH: And oftentimes there could be hardware that could be added to it instead of just the software that can make the experience a lot better.
JOSH ANDERSON: Definitely. There are so many other ways to access the computer then voice that might be more helpful.
BRIAN NORTON: If you have any feedback on that, we would love to hear from you. Or if you are thinking about a question, please let us know. There is a great way, 317-721-7124 is our listener line.
WADE WINGLER: And now it’s time for the wildcard question.
BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is the wildcard question. This is where Wade has been sitting on this question since we got here and —
WADE WINGLER: It’s about to hatch.
BRIAN NORTON: We will see what he has for us. What have you got?
WADE WINGLER: Here’s wildcard question for this show. In addition to working in the assistive technology program here, I am responsible for our IT program at our organization. We are recording on Monday, April 3. At about 1130 this morning, AT&T had a major phone outage for a lot of their business customers. Our VoIP system which runs our internal phone system has been down for the last four hours or so. Which means our desks phones don’t work. My question is, has that become a big inconvenience for anybody today? Do we use our regular landline phone so much anymore that that’s a big problem, that our phones have been out for several hours today? Or have we moved on to the fact that the Internet is still working in our cell phones are still working that we are still able to do our jobs. Obviously the assistive technology spin is what does that mean for assistive technology users. Do we use those desks phones anymore?
BELVA SMITH: For me it was. I probably would not have even noticed that the phone wasn’t working on most days; however, I did need some assistance with a billing issue that I was experiencing and I got an email that said I’ve been trying to call you and keep getting a busy signal. I was like, oh. Shortly after that was her email that said we were having difficulty with the phones. I would say that I don’t rely on the phone as much as I did probably two years ago or maybe even a year ago, but I do still need it. It’s like my landline phone at home. I don’t use it that much but I still feel like I need it for those emergency calls.
BRIAN NORTON: I would say yeah. I still have a landline phone at home. It’s my regular phone that I ported over from landline to VoIP. I still use it for all my stuff at home. That’s because I don’t want folks calling my cell phone all the time.
BELVA SMITH: I agree. It’s the same thing with my work. I don’t give my cell phone number to every person I’m with. I give them my desk phone number because I don’t want them to call me at all given hours of the day and night.
BRIAN NORTON: I have to tell you, if the Internet goes down at my house, like my wife works from home, I work from home —
BELVA SMITH: And now your kids rely on it for homework.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s such a pain. Luckily I have hotspot on my phone and will pull that up. I have a fix if I need it. I do everything over the Internet now. I do my TV streaming, computer connected, phone, everything is connected at my house. If that goes out, that’s a problem. I’ve got a mad wife on my hands and that’s not fun.
JOSH ANDERSON: I don’t have a home phone anymore and haven’t for 10 years or so.
WADE WINGLER: We haven’t for five or six years.
JOSH ANDERSON: Here, having that phone does help because Wade is also our HIPAA Sheriff. Whenever I call a new consumer, I give them the work phone number. And when I called last week and was waiting on phone calls, I would’ve missed today. Whenever they do leave a voicemail, it does just go to my email so it is still high tech. If anyone has tried to call me at work, I would have no way of knowing unless they sent me an email like they did to Belva.
I would tell you it’s not dead probably. At home might has been for years and years. I would say in the business sense, it definitely does still have a place.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s cool. That is our show for today. If you want to send us your questions or provide us feedback, please do so. We love to hear from you. You can give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124. Sent us a tweet with the hashtag ATFAQ. Or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have to tell you, every week one of my joys of the week is getting voicemails and questions and being able to pop those into our show. I love that. Definitely be a part of it. We would love to hear from you. We will talk to you guys in a couple of weeks. Take care.
JOSH ANDERSON: By everybody.
BELVA SMITH: See you later.
WADE WINGLER: Information provided on Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions does not constitute a product endorsement. Our comments are not intended as recommendations, nor is our show evaluative in nature. Assistive Technology FAQ is hosted by Brian Norton; gets editorial support from Mark Stewart and Belva Smith; is produced by me, Wade Wingler; and receives support from Easter Seals Crossroads and the INDATA project. ATFAQ is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more of our shows at www.accessibilitychannel.com.
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