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Posts Tagged ‘Apple’


Today on Home and School Mosaics, I share some of my favorite things. These are things that have helped me to be more independent or confident in the Dark Silence. These are things that have just helped me do and feel more like a normal person from day to day. You might be surprised to find out that you can use some of these things, too, even if you aren’t deaf and blind. Some are just plain cool for anyone to use and love!

http://homeschoolmosaics.com/my-favorite-things/

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The iPhone: Without Sight and Hearing

The Back Story: How this manual came to reality

 

This book came about because I fell in love with Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. Yes, I can use both even though I am totally deaf and blind. You can, too. There is nothing special about me. I didn’t even own a braille display or even a screen reader before I got the iPhone 4 which was the first mobile device to totally integrate a screen reader and braille display support into their overall operating system, the iOS. At the AT&T store, the sales clerk really didn’t know what I was talking about when I asked him to set up my braille display. He turned on the bluetooth quickly after finding the Bluetooth on button in the general settings and then went to accessibility to turn on Voice Over and braille. The iPhone quickly and automatically discovered my RFB 18, and the clerk typed in the pairing numbers that my braille display manufacturer had given in the display’s manual. I couldn’t do this myself, but it was quick and easy for the clerk or any sighted person.

Then everything changed for me. I cried as I set up my email by myself and got my first email that I didn’t have to have someone read to me, and as I sent my first text message, and as I used the Notes app for simple face to face communication with the sales clerk, he typed to me, “Welcome back to the real world,” and I responded, “It is great to be back.”

Although Apple supports many braille displays and is always adding new ones, I will say that my first display was the American Publishing House for the Blind’s (APH) Refreshabraille 18. This is a perfect display for the iPhone. The little joystick made my ease into the screen reader/braille display world seamless as I had no clue what a braille chord command was or what those little buttons were for at first. The joystick was familiar to me, so I just started moving it and quickly discovered how to move from app to app. First, finding the email app and knowing my email address and ISP information by heart, I set it up and downloaded my email. Then I moved on to text messaging and sent my husband a text even though he was standing right next to me. Then I found a notes app and surmised that it must be a little word processing app similar to notepad on the computer. With that few minutes, I had joined the world again and would never look back.

After getting excited and telling everyone how I was using the iPhone and a braille display, I was asked by a couple of organizations and individuals to help others learn. I did my best to help in person or via email. Eventually, I was asked to write things down, so this little manual came to be a thought. I now hope that the desire to open the world to others without sight and hearing with the use of this integrated technology at a more affordable price will come to fruition through this manual.

 

The Reality: How will this manual help me?

You will find that it should be helpful regardless to which of the Apple supported braille displays you use or how much remaining sight or hearing you have. I am writing it from a totally deaf and blind point of view, hoping that if it can help someone totally without sight and sound that it can help anyone with vision or hearing loss. I am also adding a perspective that might surprise some people including the DeafBlind. Along with accessing the iPhone with just a braille display, I will also add techniques for using the touchscreen for better and faster navigation. The key to this is teaching a person to know their iPhone (and even iPad since they are so similar) like you do your own house. You know those mental maps you make to get around. Yes, even people who haven’t ever had sight before use mental maps of their own design to sort of “see” what is around them. I am using that concept sprinkled throughout to help a person really know and use their iPhone. With this way of “seeing” your iPhone, you will be prepared to easily use the touch screen in a lot of ways to get to what you need even faster than using chord commands at times. I don’t mean totally using a touch screen. Without true vision that would be silly, of course, but if you have an arsenal of navigation techniques, you can learn to move around efficiently and faster.

As far as braille displays go, they vary in features and even some commands. A list of the known braille commands for all supported displays is available in the appendix. The manual is assuming that you can use a braille display for your usual computer needs. I will mention specific chord commands if they are the same across all the devices, but otherwise, I will refer to them by a general chord command name such as advance or select or enter, etc. The directions will be given for navigation in more than one way when possible including a braille display’s linear or forward/back direction, touch screen placement described verbally, chord commands or braille display description, and touch screen gestures, when applicable.

So, let’s start this journey toward making the world accessible to you. It should be a great ride, and one you will never regret. Open yourself to the possibilities. All you need is an iPhone right out of the box and your braille display to gain the world through the iPhone without sight or hearing.

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TOUCH POINTS

By Renée Walker

 

My last column brought a lot of attention from Good Cheer readers and my blog readers where I share this column as well. Feelings of isolation for DeafBlind individuals seem to be very common even if it is intermittent. We all seem to have felt it at some point. I was also pleasantly surprised that I had so many readers interested in my column. I know Good Cheer has a large audience, but it was very nice to learn that you are interested in what I have to say. I appreciate that very much. I will try to continue to discuss topics to which you can relate. Please continue to write me via email, print, or braille. I am very interested in your comments. I learn from you, and we can help each other discover hope for the future.

 

This month’s column is all about easing some of that isolation. There are options out there for DeafBlind individuals, but they are few, and none are perfect. I have discovered an option that I want to present to you. It may not work for you, but since it has helped me, I hoped that it might help a few of you. First, let me tell you that I am not employed by Apple, and I am not being compensated by Apple or American Publishing House for the Blind in any way. I wouldn’t even call myself an Apple supporter. I just look for ways to help myself continue to work and live as fully as I can. Often that is difficult because technology is so expensive, and I can’t get help from government agencies like some. I am glad there are some who can get the training and equipment they need from a government or non-profit organization. For me, that hasn’t been possible, so I have to look for ways to help myself.

 

Apple recently introduced an operating system called Snow Leopard that did what few other companies have ever done before. Apple built in accessibility options throughout their entire operating system making almost all tasks seamless and easy on their Macintosh line of computers. Their screen reader called Voice Over handles voice output and braille output very well. They have also built in options for the Deaf with closed captioning and visual notifications for many tasks such as emails. There is also Zoom for those with low vision. The greatest thing about these accessibility options is that it is included in every computer product sold without purchasing extra equipment and software for your needs. The most you need is a braille display if you require one. There are many braille displays that are compatible with Apple’s Voice Over with more being added all the time. The Voice Over commands are simple and similar to other popular screen readers. The learning curve isn’t as steep as others either with the built-in tutorial that really gets you started. You also don’t need a sighted person to help you configure your Apple computer because when you first boot it up, the system asks you if you need Zoom or vVoice Over. If you have a braille display connected to the computer, the voice is also displayed as text on your braille display. The system will then walk you through the entire configuration, and run the tutorial, if you desire. If  you are comfortable with computers at all, you can’t get it any better than that.

 

Some of you may not be comfortable with computers, or due to your severe losses of vision and hearing, you may be lucky if you have experience with notetakers. Computers may still be a bit more than you think can handle, or you might not be that interested in their many uses. Like many hearing/sighted people, email, text messages, and the occasional browsing of the internet to check shopping sites may be your only interests. If so, Apple has a few other options that can open your world in many ways without the hassles of learning how to use a computer. With the accessibility options built in, the effort can be more like a walk in the park. With the IPhone 4 or IPod Touch, you have fully accessible devices to browse the internet, send and receive SMS messages (text messages), send and receive email, take notes, write documents and read documents, have a face to face conversation with someone else even if they don’t know ASL or braille.  Again, the best part is that you don’t need to pay for extra software and equipment except for a braille display. It is all included in the device that is easily available to anyone regardless of disability issues. With the IPhone 4 or an IPod Touch, you need the help of someone sighted to go in the first time and turn on the screen reader. If you only need the zoom or screen magnification, you might be able to go into the settings and accessibility tabs to turn that on yourself. The sales clerk should be able to help you even if the person didn’t know about it before seeing you. My sales clerk heard me describe what I needed and said that must be in settings. He found it within about five seconds, and my braille display which was already on popped right up with where I was and instructions of how to get out or change accessibility options. I manipulated the buttons and joystick on my APH Refreshabraille 18 finding the web browser, the mail program, and other things as tears of joy streamed down my face. I have no experience really with JAWS, Window Eyes, or any other screen reader. I don’t know those kind of commands at all. With the IPhone 4, I didn’t need that knowledge at all. I just rotated through buttons and text finding what I wanted easily. I set up my email program by myself in the store and got my first email that I could read on my display. I had only just gotten the APH Refreshabraille 18, recently and had only read emails in braille on my MacBook a few times before. Here I was checking email on the first cell phone I have owned since losing my sight almost ten years before. My husband has had to set up my computers before and read everything to me, or I had to put my nose to the screen to read very large fonts. In recent years, I no longer have any residual sight and feeling as if I was disappearing from the world as my sight faded. Here I was setting up this device on my own and getting information. The sales clerk then typed a message to me just using the notes app that comes with the phone that I read on my display, “Hello, my name is Brian. Welcome back to the real world.” I spoke and said, “Hello, Brian. It is good to be back,” laughing and crying at the same time. I had just had my first conversation with another person who didn’t know ASL or through an interpreter in such a very long time. I can’t even describe the joy I felt at that moment.

 

Of course, the IPhone allows me to check and send email, browse the internet, and send text messages with a data plan and a text messaging plan. There are other useful apps available like the WhatsApp Messenger which allows the IPhone 4 or IPod Touch do text messages from smartphone to smartphone for free without needing a messaging plan. You just need a data plan on the IPhone 4 or access to the internet through a wireless connection on either the phone or the IPod Touch. This helps lessen your monthly fees if you can’t afford much. There is also a Color Identification app which is available in the Apple App Store for $.99 that tells you by voice and braille the color of any light source such as the color of your shirt or the color of the leaves on a tree. There are several multi-protocol chat programs, too. These allow you to log in to many of the common chat programs like AIM, Google Talk, IChat, and Yahoo! Messenger with one program app. Palringo is a free one that is totally accessible. There are probably others, as well. These and more powerful apps are being designed every day that can open our worlds to us regardless of how much sight and hearing we may have. The Apple IPad will also be totally accessible with a new update of the OS 4 beginning in November. It already has Voice Over and Zoom for the hearing blind and low vision or Hard of Hearing. In November, the software will be the same as the IPhone 4 and newest IPod Touch allowing braille displays and other features.

 

The world of the DeafBlind is changing quickly. Apple has proven that mainstream technology products can be made accessible with the same off the shelf products that hearing/sighted users enjoy without costing anymore to purchase. With companies like Apple deciding to reach out to those with disabilities they are increasing their market share for certain, but they are doing wonders by bringing the world back to those of us. Now I can explore that world with my IPhone 4’s GPS and maps. I will check back in with you next time. Well, if I don’t get too busy exploring…

 

 

If you have comments or questions about this article, you can email me at rkwalker@wynfieldca.org, or write me in braille or print at 143 Williamson Dr., Macon, GA 31210. Check my blog also at http://www.deafblindhope.wordpress.com. I am also on Facebook as Renée K. Walker, too, if you want to become friends.

 

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