Posts

Showing posts from September, 2010

Directions for Me

From the site: Welcome to directions for me, your one stop source for accessible packaging information. This site will provide a consistent, quality source of complete packaging information for everything from preparation instructions to ingredient lists to Nutrition Facts labels for many common grocery, health and beauty products.  We encourage you to support our corporate partners who have made a commitment to the blind and visually impaired community. If you don’t see a specific product listed, please contact that company directly to suggest that they partner with us to make their packaging information accessible to a large and often ignored market.  Directions was designed to be 100 percent accessible for text to speech users and braille output devices. It's brought to you by HORIZONS for the BLIND.

Click this link to visit http://www.DirectionsForMe.org.

When Did I First Discover?

by Donna J. Jodhan One of the most frequently asked questions that I have had to answer throughout my life is this one: When did I first discover that I was blind? In other words, how early in my childhood did I realize that I was blind? Boy o Boy! A simple question but not a very straightforward response on my part. You see, I really do not remember how or when I discovered. Thinking about it now, it seems as if I always knew that I was blind. I seem to remember as a child that I always knew that I could not see very well. I knew that I could not see well enough to run around and play hide and seek but my brothers never let this get in the way. I always played with them and played with their toys. I knew that I could not read and write print but my parents and granny were always there to read things to me and as for writing? I remember trying to write with a pencil like my brothers but I would make up what I wrote and then commit it to memory. I remember that my dad …

Universally Accessible Products, A Benefit

by Donna J. Jodhan Make your products universally accessible and I can guarantee you that this is the way to go! What am I singing about this day? Very simple indeed! So many manufacturers and developers are petrified when they hear the term universally accessible. They practically shake in their boots and they believe that making their products universally accessible would mean that they would lose consumers! Not so! Definitely not so and here's why! You can attract many more consumers because your products would be more attractive to a much wider spectrum of consumers. Allow me to give you two brief and simple examples. Your cooking appliance: If the knobs and buttons are brightly colored, easy to read, and can easily be handled, guess who can benefit? Not just those who are blind or with poor vision, but seniors, those who are afflicted with dexterity challenges, and persons who identify themselves as just plain old clumsy. Make the displays on these products ea…

Give and Receive Items at Sight Exchange

Are you familiar with the Sight Exchange group? It's a Yahoo group that helps people easily give and receive low vision-related items, all for free. From the site: "The Sight Exchange group is open to all who want to give and receive items that serve the needs of the blind, low vision or visually impaired population. Whether it's a mobility device, cane, talking clock, book or computer, feel free to post it. Or maybe you're looking to acquire something yourself! Individuals and Nonprofit groups are all welcome to participate!" "Things to remember: Everything posted must be free, legal, and appropriate. Everyone must begin by offering an item before requesting an item. Mail items via "Free Matter for the Blind or Visually Impaired" whenever possible." When you join, you will receive two email messages explaining the basic's of the group and how to get started. Please be sure to read each carefully. There are lots of cool things offered …

Accessible HD Radio

Digital radio broadcasting has been a slowly emerging technology over the past several years. This technology, similarly to its television counterpart, promises to deliver richer sound as well as affording stations the opportunity to multiplex programming. Multiplexing means that a station can transmit multiple audio streams on their parent frequency. Take, for example, the local NPR affiliate here in Baltimore. In addition to their primary programming on the standard FM channel, 88.1MHz, they also transmit, on one of their subchannels, the BBC World Service. Most digital radios, commonly referred to as HD radios, rely on a visual display to identify the frequency and any “HD” subchannel being received. Most of these radios, as with many consumer electronics devices, are not natively accessible to blind users. Enter the Dice Electronics ITR100A. This tabletop style radio provides spoken feedback, in an easy to understand female voice, for all functions and commands. There are a mini…

How to Treat Poisoning

Image
How to Treat Poisoningfrom wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Unintentional poisoning causes thousands of deaths every year, many as a result of products around the home. Quick response and proper emergency assistance can help prevent some of these deaths. The following information will help you to know what to do for a victim of poisoning. Steps Understand what poisoning is. A poison is a substance that enters the body and causes injury, illness, or death. A poison can be in the form of a solid, a liquid, a gas, or vapor fumes. The areas through which poisons can enter the body are:[1]the mouth and digestive system through the lungs (fumes) absorption of a chemical or plant extract through skin via injection. Remain calm. When approaching someone who appears to be poisoned, it is crucial that you observe and check for anything that may endanger you as well, especially in the case of gas and vapors. Ensure that you, the victim, and any other peo…

Finding Flexibility and Accessibility in an Exercise Bike

by Karen Keninger I’ve had a Schwinn Airdine exercise bike for years. It has one tension, and doesn’t have any programming. It’s great as far as it goes, but I wanted something more flexible with training options. I found a NordicTrack C2 Si Upright Exercise Bike online that seemed to have the price tag and the features I wanted, and took a chance on it being accessible. Here’s what I got. It came in a bazillion pieces with a very comprehensible instruction manual. Following the step by step instructions, it was possible to put it together even without the drawings. The bike has an MP3 player connection that routes the player through a set of decent speakers. My Victor Reader Stream works perfectly. The volume up and down buttons are part of a flat panel area with circular “push” buttons. I stuck some plastic Braille labels on them and they’re easy to find and use. The Stream fits well enough in the allotted slot and connects through a simple cord into the earphone jack. The bike …

Bridging the Gap Through APH Materials

by Kristie Smith, M.Ed, CTVI“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars.”- Les Brown I have been an educator for over twenty-eight years and have taught most grade levels. While I love the individuality of each group, teaching students who are blind or visually impaired has been my favorite. It has always been my philosophy that all children can learn. Some may learn slower or different from others, however, the fact remains that all students can achieve. Can you imagine if Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, Franklin Roosevelt and Walt Disney were overlooked because they had a disability? So many of our greatest accomplishments have been achieved through others who have had a disability. The American Printing House for the Blind gives children who have a visual impairment and other disabilities a chance to compete with their sighted peers, so that they, too, can make a difference in the world through their many achievements. The American Printing Hou…

The Mobile Divide

by Donna J. Jodhan What exactly am I concerned about today? The growing gap between those mobile devices that are accessible to sight impaired persons and what is not accessible. As the variety of mobile devices continues to grow at boundless rates, we as a group are becoming more and more isolated in so many ways. We barely have time to catch our breaths. We barely have time to test out one device that has been made accessible to us before we have to deal with three or four new ones on the market. The thing is this: In many cases when a mobile device becomes accessible, it is almost always not entirely accessible as one or two features are inaccessible through the lack of either speech or large print. Many access technology vendors are selling cell phones that still lack for complete accessibility. Many of the hand held devices are nowhere near being accessible. Many of the MP3 players and iPods still require sighted assistance to get set up and this is the case across …

eBay's Help Section for the Blind and Visually Impaired

From our friends at BlindBargains.com.

"If you've noticed some increased access on the eBay website, this may not just be a happy coincidence. Thanks to a partnership with the National Federation of the Blind, eBay has increased access to many parts of its website,. Instructions on the accessibility page include information on buying and selling items with a screen reader. A partnership was also announced with the NFB which aims to promote eBay as a viable platform for business owners who are blind."

Visit eBay's Accessibility page.

How to Play Chess

Image
How to Play Chessfrom wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Chess is a very popular game and is widely accepted as one of the oldest games still played. Although it has a set of easily comprehensible rules, it requires a lot of practice to win against skilled opponents. This is because chess is a strongly strategy and tactically oriented game, without the amount of luck found in card or dice games. However, given that chess is still a game involving at least one human, blunders (mistakes in thinking/planning) do occur. Even so, chess is still a very fun game to play. Each player has control of one of two sets of colored pieces, referred to by the nominal color of their respective pieces, i.e., White or Black. White moves first and the players alternate turns, moving one piece per turn. To win, a player must use his pieces to create a situation where the opponent's King is unable to avoid capture (a condition known as checkmate). Making a move is compulsory; it is not leg…

The Problem with Inaccessible Products

by Donna J. Jodhan As I see it, there are two important things that make a product inaccessible. When the product does not have audio cues.
When there are no accompanying manuals in alternate formats. A product may have audio cues but if the cues are not enough to make it possible for a blind person to use it independently, then it is not accessible. This example can be used in the case of several hand held language dictionaries that are only half way accessible. That is, only part of the command is spoken or only certain menus are audible. In other words, there is no audible sound when keys are pressed and an audible response is only heard after the enter button is pressed. This is what I call halfway accessible. If a product is accompanied by a manual that is not in alternate format, then it is not accessible. Or, if a product is accompanied by an incomplete manual or a manual that does not cover the entire set up of the product, then it is deemed to be inaccessible. To make…

Putting On Makeup in the Dark

by Donna J. Jodhan When it comes to putting on makeup as a blind person, it's really like doing it in the dark because I am unable to use a mirror to guide me. There was a time up until five years ago when I was able to do so because I had enough vision then to see my profile in the mirror but now it's primarily by touch. Having been able to see before gives me an advantage now in that I am able to visualize things but not to worry. Blind persons can be taught to put on their own makeup by using touch techniques plus some other important strategies that are really not too difficult to understand once you get the hang of it all. In the case of putting on lipstick: I take the lipstick and gently move it along the line of my lips. Then I take a tissue and blot it just like what a sighted person would do. In the case of face powder, I use a cosmetic pad to do the job. I gently place the pad on the top of the compact where the powder is, press lightly, and then apply t…

Dogs Need to Go, Too. Airports Are Adding Doggie Restrooms!

Airports say "pet relief areas" enhance customer service. But they're also being nudged by a federal rule that orders airlines to work with airports to install facilities for travelers who have service dogs. Among airports with dog bathrooms: Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington Dulles, Washington National, Chicago O'Hare and Phoenix. The facilities are typically outside, within walking distance of the terminal. The federal rule requires they be kept clean, free of odor, contain a gravel or sand surface and have adequate drainage. Some airports have added synthetic grass, fire hydrants and benches. About 2 million pets and other animals fly each year in the U.S., according to the Transportation Department. But convenient relief areas weren't required until the department published changes last year to the Air Carrier Access Act, which spells out travel rights for people who have physical disabilities. Washington Dulles is one of the few airports wi…

PBS Programs on DVD with DVS

The WGBH website has a list of programs which originally aired on PBS and have been released on DVD with optional descriptive narration tracks and captioning. All but a few can be purchased by following the links to the product page on Amazon.com. The remaining discs listed can be purchased directly from PBS at the toll-free number listed under the disc title. Description of many PBS programs is funded by a grant to the Media Access Group from the U.S. Department of Education. WGBH's Media Access Group is an Amazon Associate, which means that when you click through their site to purchase movies or TV shows on DVD from Amazon, they receive a small portion (4%) of the revenue. As a nonprofit organization addressing media access barriers of all kinds, they are grateful for the financial support you can provide through your purchases.

Click this link to see the list of PBS Programs on DVD with DVS.

VI Fit: Exergames for Users Who Are Visually Impaired or blind

Lack of physical activity is a serious health concern for individuals who are visually impaired as they have fewer opportunities and incentives to engage in physical activities that provide the amounts and kinds of stimulation sufficient to maintain adequate fitness and to support a healthy standard of living. Especially children with visual impairments tend to exhibit lower performance in motor skills, lower levels of physical activity and fitness, and higher levels of obesity. Exergames are video games that use physical activity as input and which have the potential to change sedentary lifestyles and associated health problems such as obesity. Unfortunately most exergames are not accessible to users with visual impairments as they rely upon the player being able to see visual stimuli. The VI Fit research project seeks to explore how exergames can be developed that can be played without visual feedback, with the goal to increase the participation of users with visual impairments i…

Verizon Customers, Welcome to Haven!

by Walter Gramza It’s finally here! An affordable, fully accessible phone from Verizon Wireless.  As of July 29th, 2010, Verizon Wireless has available in its stores a phone for blind and visually impaired persons which is fully audible via Nuance speech. There is no extra charge for the speech package, as it is already installed in the phone and ready for use out of the box. It is important to note here that when you go to the store, please make sure that you tell the person assisting you to be sure to turn on the voices called read outs, located under settings, then sounds, and down to voices. The six items to be turned on are: Menu read out
digit read out
alert read out
flip open and talk
text message read out
full read out In order for the phone to be audible these features need to be turned on. Placing a CallYou can enter the contact list by pushing the right soft key in the upper right hand corner of the phone and then arrow through the contacts or by pressing the letter of the c…

How to Use Keyboard Shortcuts in Google Instant Search

Image
NOTE: Screen reader users will not be able to use the following keyboard shortcuts because your screen reader has control of your keyboard's functionality. These are posted to Fred's Head to benefit our low vision readers who don't use a screen reader.
How to Use Keyboard Shortcuts in Google Instant Searchfrom wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
On September 8, 2010, Google released Google Instant Search which enables users to view search results as they type. Instant search also offers a list of keyboard shortcuts to help people more quickly navigate a Google search page. Steps Go to the Google homepage,.http://www.google.com. Log into your account. Try any of the following keyboard shortcuts: Up and down arrows - Scroll between possible search queries. Tab - Completes what Google thinks you are trying to type. For example, if trying to get a weather report and you press "w", pressing tab will fully enter "weather" into the se…

Put That in my DropBox Please

I've used all kinds of file-sharing programs, some primarily handle a particular type of file such as Hello the image sharing program, or Grouper used for sending huge files back and forth. Well this program also allows the sharing of files, and like the others, this has its own features and attributes, some of which are quite impressive. The best feature of all is that the program is totally accessible. Dropbox is a good way to share files with students, friends, parents or coworkers. Dropbox is particularly useful for sharing large files like MP3s or slide shows. Rather than mass emailing an attachment you can share a file through Dropbox and save space in your email application. Using Dropbox, you can access and work on files from any Internet-connected computer and all files/folders stay up-to-date. Files can also be downloaded through a web interface, even deleted files can immediately be retrieved.

Click this link to learn more about DropBox. HabalisForward any attachment …

O'Reilly Ebook Bundles Include DAISY Format

For years, O'Reilly has supplied digital files to Bookshare, a non-profit that provides accessible reading material to the print disabled. For qualifying readers, books are made available worldwide. Although the DRM-free EPUB files in their ebook bundles are compatible with many reading systems for print disabled customers, many readers prefer the DAISY format that Bookshare provides, and either don't qualify for access via Bookshare, or would prefer to pay for the ebooks. Through a collaboration with Bookshare, O'Reilly has started making DAISY files available within their ebook bundles on oreilly.com for more than 800 titles. If you've already bought an oreilly.com ebook, you can find the DAISY files on your account page at https://members.oreilly.com or http://oreilly.com/e on a mobile device. "Our mission at O'Reilly is to change the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators, and making our books available in accessible DAISY format helps us accompl…

Adaptations for Young Children Who Are Visually Impaired

by Erin Monahan Children with vision impairments will need to adapt to learn, but families and teachers can also learn some easy adaptations to facilitate that learning. Blindness is legally defined as vision that is worse than 20/200, but visual impairments can also include congenital abnormalities that affect a child's ability to see, according to Virginia E. Bishop, Ph.D., who works with the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Impairments can include the inability to see color, visual perception problems, including issues with depth of field, or total blindness. Use Voice and TouchVisually impaired children may be able to see what a teacher or family member is doing, but it doesn't always register properly or isn't viewed accurately. Teachers of blind and visually impaired children will call the child by name or touch him on the shoulder to make sure he knows he's included in the conversation or activity. Use voice to engage the child in what he is …

Thought Audio Has Free Audio Books

Thought Audio is a producer and provider of free audio books featuring classic titles across a variety of genres. Audio books are professionally narrated works that you can listen to online or download to play offline. The library of audio books on Thought Audio contains some titles that are hard to find as audio files. For example you'll find titles like Thus Spoke Zarathustra, The Life of PT Barnum, and The Madman. You'll also find more commonly read titles like Alice in Wonderland, and Poe's The Raven. From the website: "As the world moves toward more complex interactions, one of the most fundamental aspects of humanity is to enjoy its thoughts and its great works. Our journey has always been one of making classic literature available to anyone willing to listen, and now in this next phase, to expand our scope to include more thinkers, writers and essayists. Although thinking may not seem as relevant today, with advancing technology providing alternative vehicl…

Puffy Paint the Planets

Image
Here's a cool project that you can use to teach kids about the planets. Be creative and use a variety of colors and create your own solar system! Best of all, you'll be making something tactile that can also be enjoyed by kids who are blind or visually impaired. Gather your materials. You will need some shaving cream, white glue, paint,scissors, a marker, paper, a spoon, and container or bowl.Start by mixing your paint. You will need 3 parts shaving cream to 1 part white glue, and colored paint . Use as much paint as you need to get the color you want.While they mix it up, draw a circle on your blue paper. Paint. It might get messy but it will definitely be fun! Let dry and cut out. The paint will dry puffy ! Article Source:
No Time For Flash Cards

How to Teach the Visually Impaired Child

Image
by Amber Keefer OverviewChildren who have visual impairments may be legally blind or have low vision and may, therefore, require assistance with their classroom learning. The level of support needed varies depending on the nature and degree of vision loss. While most children with visual impairments are able to function in the mainstream classroom, there are steps teachers can take to make learning easier. The American Council of the Blind points out that, with the proper teaching tools and access to an effective learning environment, a visually impaired child can receive a rewarding education. Step 1Build a rapport with the child from the start. Understand the extent of the child's vision loss. A student may possess low vision or perhaps be partially blind and, therefore, may require different learning aids than his seeing counterparts. Knowing at what age a student began to have problems with his vision can give a teacher a better idea of how much visual memory a child mig…

Glow-In-The-Dark Tape

Anything that is capable of glowing in the dark is just that much more handy for people with low vision.  If you’re tired of tripping over a stair or just want to make a Halloween costume more visible to cars, this tape could come in very handy.  Having a whole roll of glowing tape is just something that you’re bound to use at some point or another.  These 1” wide rolls of tape come with 20′ to play with.

Click this link to purchase some Glow-In-The-Dark Tape for your home.

Color Wheel Match!

Here's an activity that's great for matching, learning colors and improving motor skills. All you'll need is some clothespins, paint, markers, scissors and posterboard. Use a large upside down mixing bowl (or anything else) to trace a big circle on the posterboard.
Section it into 8 pieces(you can do as many as you like). Paint each section a different color.
Paint a clothespin for each color of sections you created earlier.
Write the names of each color in the section and on the clothespins. Use large pins and write the color names in braille and print.
Give the kids the circles with the clothespins already attached to the appropriate sections.
Ask the kids to pull off all of the clothespins and put them in a pile.
Have them match the clothespins to the colors on the wheel. You may want to demonstrate the first match. So there you have it, an activity that can be done by different ages and developmental stages including children with special needs.

Customize Your Chocolates

Chocomize is a site where you can create personalized chocolates and either indulge yourself, or give them to that special someone for an anniversary, Valentine’s day, a birthday… Whenever you have to tell them how important they are. The creation process involves selecting a chocolate base and then personalizing it by picking the candies, fruits, nuts and herbs that you want from a list that has over one hundred choices. The chocolate bars themselves are Belgian, and they are entirely handmade. In theory, more than thirty billion possible custom chocolate combinations are possible. You will have to pick the best one based on the person and the occasion you are going to celebrate, that's something only you can do, naturally. I wrote this from the point of view of creating and buying a gift for your other half, a service like this is also suitable for corporate gifts and wedding favors.

Click this link to visit http://www.Chocomize.com.

DIY Light Box

Image
by Katy Kids with low vision are often given a chance to “practice” using their eyes in a nice calm environment. Light boxes are a great way to do this, but they can be expensive. Like always, I developed this method to make one on the cheap.You will need a print out of planet earth. I Googled “earth” and found one easily. You will also need tape, an empty soda box (or similar), a flashlight, a pen, a pair of scissors, and a knife.First you need to cut off one of the long sides of the soda box.On the opposite side of the box, in the center, you will want to cut out a hole that is slightly smaller than your earth picture. To cut the hole, I used my knife to get it started and then finished with a pair of scissors.Then tape your earth picture to the outside of the box, with the earth picture facing in.Next, take your pen and poke holes in the box all around the earth cut out.Take your box into a dark room and place the flashlight behind the earth. If you’ve got a strong flash…

That Song is Driving Me Crazy! If Only I Could Unhear It!

You know when you get a song stuck in your head, and no matter what you do you can't get it out? And how awful it is? Yeah, I hate that too. Which is why I love this site: Unhear It. Designed to get that annoying song out of your head by playing a different song, Unhear It delivers a selection of music they claim is "equally annoying" as the song that's stuck in your head in the first place. The site pulls in songs from SoundCloud, so it's legal to listen, and you can share your experience via social networks, so it's fun. "We created this site for those of you that have a song stuck in your head and you can't get it out no matter what you do. Using the latest techniques in reverse-auditory-melodic-unstickification technology, we've been able to allow our users to "unhear" songs by hearing equally catchy songs." One potential pitfall: the songs played by Unhear It do such a good job at getting a song out of your head that they t…

How to Teach Music To Visually Impaired Children

Image
by Gail Sessoms OverviewVisually impaired musicians participate in every area of music. They are vocalists, pianists and drummers; they play every instrument imaginable, learn to sight-sing; and read and compose music. Children who are visually impaired learn music in much the same way they learn other material---with special tools and technology. With the right tools, visually impaired children have the same potential and ability as other children to develop their talents and engage in musical creativity. Step 1Determine the needs of your visually impaired student. If your student has limited vision, magnification may suffice to help him learn music. If he is completely blind, you will need Braille materials and assistive technology for the blind. Step 2Enroll the student in a class or arrange for private lessons. If appropriate, make sure your student has access to his instrument of choice for regular practice. If he uses computer technology to learn music, classes or lessons …

EaseOut Bulb Remover

If you tend to have a lot of broken lightbulbs around your house or business, you know that they are dangerous and a pain in the tush to remove. For those of us who are totally blind, it's just another reason not to have the things around. I don’t know why you have one or many broken bulbs but you’ve got a problem and the EaseOut Bulb Remover Takes Broken Bulbs Out...wait for it...with Ease and makes it simple to remove those pesky broken bulbs. Just insert the long handled device into the socket and ease that lightbulb out. A plastic shield that looks like one of those clear disks you get when you buy a 50 CDR pack protects your hands and eyes from falling glass. Also works for lightbulbs that have rusted in place (although you’d have to smash them first). This is an inexpensive solution to an annoying problem.

Click this link to purchase the EaseOut Bulb Remover from Amazon.com.

Basic Guide to Troubleshooting Common Windows PC Problems

Your Windows PC might be designed to make your life easier, but they often have a non-stop list of problems. Our friends at Lifehacker walks through some of the more common problems and how to troubleshoot them. This list is, of course, by no means complete, and you should always use best practices to make sure that your PC doesn't need to be reinstalled all the time, is properly secured with anti-virus and a firewall, and is properly backed up at all times, but if you're having difficulty, click the link below for a list of common problems and troubleshooting techniques.

Click this link to read The Basic Guide to Troubleshooting Common Windows PC Problems from Lifehacker.