Free Resources for People Who Are Blind to Learn to Use Apple Products
Free Resources for People Who Are Blind to Learn to Use Apple Products
In this post, we will highlight some websites that offer free tutorials, podcasts and other materials developed to teach persons who are blind and visually impaired how to use Apple products. This list is not necessarily comprehensive; we welcome comments that mention other materials you have used that accomplish the same purpose. Additionally, we include free information here; we may create a separate post which highlights other resources that are available for purchase.
AppleVis describes itself as a “ccommunity-powered website for blind and low-vision users of Apple's range of Mac computers, the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV and Apple Watch.” AppleVis seeks to accomplish their goal of empowering persons who are blind and visually impaired by providing a wide range of content concerning Apple products.
AppleVis contains a detailed “Getting Started” section which, as you would expect, offers written descriptions and audio demonstrations of persons who are blind and visually impaired using Apple products. AppleVis describes this section of its site as follows:
If you’ve just got your first Mac, iOS device or Apple Watch, congratulations!
To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of selected content from right across the AppleVis website which we believe will answer many of your initial questions and familiarize you with the accessibility features of your new Apple product.
If you browse any of these lists, you will notice that you can choose particular features of a given device that you want to learn to utilize; alternatively, you can move through the materials in a more systematic manner so that you can learn the most essential features of each device at your leisure.
AppleVis has created app directories which describe apps and discuss their accessibility and how accessibility has changed in an app when an update is released or a feature is added or changed. The site says,
“Also be sure to browse our iOS, Mac and Apple Watch App Directories, in which you will find information submitted by our community on the accessibility of 1000s of applications.”
Anyone can sign up for an AppleVis account; doing so permits individuals to write and subsequently post reviews of apps. Such posts are especially beneficial when an app becomes significantly more or less accessible. Remember that an app, particularly one not created for persons who are blind and visually impaired, can gain or lose accessibility when it is updated; read reviews, of course, with the understanding that changes in an app can alter accessibility tremendously for good or bad.
Also, AppleVis has put together a list of apps created for persons who are blind and visually impaired. “If you are looking for iOS apps that have been developed specifically for blind or low vision users and which will help you in your daily life, you can find our list of these here.”
One additional feature of the AppleVis site is the forum section which allows you to post questions or answer questions others have submitted. Follow AppleVis on Twitter @AppleVis or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AppleVis/ and visit the site at www.applevis.com/.
Maccessibility is another site devoted to providing information about Apple products and their accessibility. The site describes itself in this way:
Maccessibility is devoted to connecting, compiling, and providing easy access to the best resources for blind, visually impaired, and other disability groups using Apple products. It is maintained by a dedicated group of visually impaired volunteers who are Apple enthusiasts themselves. … Today, Maccessibility provides news and commentary, podcasts, and online communities, and more to low and no vision users of Apple products.
One important distinction between AppleVis and Maccessibility is the difference in the way podcasts are grouped and their overall content. AppleVis tends to make their podcast content very specific and much shorter in length whereas often Maccessibility creates much lengthier podcasts that cover a variety of subjects in one podcast. Both sites provide detailed descriptions of the content you will read or hear if you choose to do so. Both sites provide content that can benefit all levels of Apple product users from beginners to the most experienced users. Additionally, both sites provide links that you may use to donate to their work. You can follow Maccessibility on Twitter @Maccessibility. Also, if you browse their podcasts, you may also follow individual contributors on their specific social media accounts as well. Visit Maccessibility at www.maccessibility.net/.
MacForTheBlind provides a detailed listing of podcasts, tips and tricks, how-to pieces, news, product demonstrations, documentation and news about Apple products. The webmaster is an Authorized Apple Business Affiliate and an Apple Certified Trainer and Support Professional who owns a large number of Apple products. MacForTheBlind describes its mission as follows:
1. Provide information and answers to common questions about VoiceOver on the Mac or iOS devices.
2. Make available “how to” posts, tips and tricks, and other basic tutorials on a variety of Mac and iOS related subjects, such as software and apps.
3. Provide resources, links to podcasts, and other useful links to other Mac related sites in our community.
4. Offer help for common and even not so common technical support issues on the Mac or iDevices.
5. Make available opportunities for training with VoiceOver on either the Mac or on iOS devices.
6. Offer training and demonstration videos and/or podcasts.
7. Offer advertisement opportunities for developers and other companies.
The webmaster provides training to individuals and groups, the cost of which could be determined by contacting him. The site also offers audio tutorials which you must pay to access. Follow @Macfortheblind on Twitter, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/macfortheblind/ and visit their site at www.macfortheblind.com/.
VoiceOver Easy Home Page
This site is different in several ways from those we covered previously. It provides basic lessons for using VoiceOver on iOS devices only. It does not contain forums, blogs or news. Instead its purpose is to teach people, in a step-by-step manner, how to accomplish basic functions on their iPad or iPhone.
One of the most appreciated features of VoiceOver Easy Home Page is its customization based on what device you wish to learn to use. After some introductory material, the site provides accessible combo boxes; the first asks you to select which device you want to learn to use. After you make your selection, you proceed to the next combo box which asks you what version of the iOS software you have on your device. Next you find lessons broken down into units. The units are listed in a table of contents format which you can open or collapse using the provided buttons. VoiceOver Easy Home Page describes its courses by saying, “VoiceoverEasy.net courses are tutorials geared toward blind and visually impaired users of iPhones and iPads with Siri capability, and who use Apple Corporation's accessibility technology called VoiceOver to read the screen of their device.” The site describes its purpose as follows:
This website was developed in order to provide a detailed, step by step tutorial for blind and visually impaired users of the VoiceOver assistive technology found in iPhones and iPads. This site makes no assumptions that the reader has any previous knowledge of or experience with iPhones or iPads, and no previous experience using VoiceOver is necessary to begin using these lessons.
Thus, VoiceOver Easy Home Page is intended to teach persons who are blind and visually impaired basic VoiceOver functions. Although the other listed sites are more detailed and cover more advanced material, VoiceOver Easy Home Page is an excellent place to visit for basic VoiceOver information, even more so if you prefer a site that is more simplified in its design or less detailed. Visit the VoiceOver Easy Home Page at www.voiceover-easy.net/.
Apple provides a guide for using VoiceOver on the Mac at https://www.apple.com/voiceover/info/guide/. The guide is broken down into chapters which are links so you may select the chapter you want to read and move back and forth through the guide. VoiceOver also includes a Quick Start tutorial; a Mac automatically presents this tutorial to you the first time you turn on VoiceOver using Command-F5. You can take the tutorial at any time as long as VoiceOver is on by pressing VO-Command-F8 (VO = control-Option keys).
An iOS device also has a VoiceOver practice mode; VoiceOver must be turned on using Siri or by pressing the home button three times. Once VoiceOver is on, go to settings, general, accessibility, VoiceOver, VoiceOver practice, and practice Voiceover gestures. Tap the done button in the top right portion of the screen to close VoiceOver practice.
Finally, you can download the free Looktel VoiceOver Tutorial app which is available on the app store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/looktel-voiceover-tutorial/id598788231?mt=8. You also can search for Looktel or VoiceOver Tutorial. Of course, this app familiarizes you with basic VoiceOver commands, a few of which you may need to know already to download apps. However, it uses games and challenges to introduce more and more advanced gestures and provides feedback to let you know that you used each gesture correctly.
While other sites and tutorials may exist, these are the ones most easily located. We encourage you to share any others you find helpful. We may soon provide a post with paid resources; these free resources should provide plenty of material for the development of your knowledge of VoiceOver on Apple devices.