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OrCam MyReader 2

Hey guys, this week I am going to be chatting about the OrCam MyReader 2 and my
initial impression. Well, I was at an accessibility event not so long ago and I was
fortunate enough to have the opportunity to demo this device. After my demo I had a
chance to chat with their sales consultant and also spend some time digesting the
available literature/media resources on this very cool product. Well, the OrCam
MyReader 2 is designed for individuals with low vision, blindness and I would say those
with a range of visual challenges/disorders. The device is mounted on the wearer’s
glasses and provides the wearer with a whole range of supports that would typically be
available with much larger devices.

Girl reads book using OrCam wearing glasses.

To be honest, what I feel is immediately apparent is the foci of the device (providing access to the environment via OCR with text to speech output) is quite different from the other low vision/blindness devices as it doesn’t attempt to be a video magnifier — it’s not trying to rival the other manufacturers that produce the other low vision smart wearables.  Instead, OrCam has focused on creating a compact, lightweight device that sits on the user’s glasses and allows them to easily access text in their environment not just text immediately in front of them either like book.  

Close up of head mannequin with glasses on.

 

The OrCam is stacked with features but everyone is insanely valuable such as almost instant OCR to clear speech output, lightweight design, easy to use with simple hand gestures performed in front of your face and the most useful feature it works without a wifi connection!!  During my brief demo, it worked beautifully to read out aloud the sign I was standing next and other demonstration materials I was offered.  I wanted to see how it would work with my reading cellphone — it worked flawlessly as I composed an email, re-read a text message and skimmed a PDF on my cellphone.  Overall, I am extremely impressed with this device and I would definitely recommend this bit of kit!

Close up of OrCam poster.  Says "ORCAM, Our Vision.  Empowering people.  Shows a hand holding device.

Thank you for reading,

Andrew

Hi Guys,

I hope this blog post finds you all having a great week!  Well, this week’s blog post is a little different from normal.  Instead of highlighting a new product, service or one particular company’s work in the field of accessibility — I am instead sharing out a collation of absolutely fantastic resources that explains smart home options for seniors including automation. This resource is pragmatic and written in a non-techy manner so readers of all levels of technological savviness will be comfortable digesting the content. 

cartoon showing house with smart home device under it connecting to a clock, lightbulb, mailbox.

I really love the format of the Smart Home blog; in particular the way it carefully categorizes the potential tools/devices into areas of the home.  The first area covered is the front door/entrance, next to the kitchen options, moving on to the dining room, then the living room and the bedroom.  I do like the neutrality of this blog and how it explains the smart home features that can be acquired to cover each area without plugging one particular product or manufacturer over and over like some blogs.  However, I do feel this resource could be a great teaching tool so folks get acquainted with the potential types of smart home technology.  After spending a little more time thinking, I do think this resource would be even more helpful if they included hyperlinks to some products instead of leaving the reader with another job of searching the web for a potential product to cover an identified need. 

Graphic showing house in center with bubbles around it containing lightbulb, lock, key, computer, temp gauge.

Finally, what I do love about this blog is that it initially stresses that smart home technology can aid with aging in place.  Anyway, to get cracking and read more about potential smart home supports for seniors please click here.

Thanks for reading,

Andrew

Hey guys, I hope this blog post finds you all well!  The latest accessibility offering by Comcast is a really big result in the realms of accessibility and equal access.  I am so impressed with Comcast that a mainstream cable supplier is investing their resources to increase accessibility to their product line.  Specifically, Comcast have added a fantastic accessibility feature for those with significant motor challenges such as individuals with ALS in the form of integration of Eye-Gaze control of their cable box’s graphic user interface (GUI)!  The X1 Eye Control is not a physical device, it is instead a web-based remote that interacts with an existing eye control unit setup, a consumer already owns.  This eye control system works with either a tablet or a computer to remotely control the cable box setup.

Close up of tablet with X1 app open

 

A YouTube video below shows an individual with significant motor challenges using the X1 Eye Control in conjunction with his current Eye Gaze setup to full interact with his cable box GUI with ease.

https://youtu.be/N2Mit1iQ9Qw

X1 Eye Control is provided to consumers at zero cost, and relies on the use of a web page remote that works absolutely seamlessly with existing eye gaze hardware/software setups, Sip-and-Puff switches and other assistive technology solutions.  End users can now change the channel, launch the in-system menus, record the next world cup game, set future recordings and much more!  In addition, the X1 Sports App can now be utilized so sports fans have real-time sports scores, stats right into their viewing experience.  The latest software update has a comprehensive accessibility menu that also includes closed captioning, video descriptions and voice guidance. Finally, ‘voice commands’ for fast searches can now be typed out using a consumer’s eye gaze without the need to speak!

Close up of computer with X1 app open using guide features

 

Overall, I am so excited to see that Comcast is working hard to provide access to their products for all users with and without disabilities.  I am hoping the other cable and satellite providers also spend their resources to create similar accessibility features for their respective GUI.

Apple Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC19) Apple macOS & iOS

Wow, what can I say, WWDC19 was jam packed with exciting news and I am so excited to learn about the new macOS and iOS feature, ‘ Voice Control.’  I have literally not slept well with the excitement bubbling for the release of this new accessibility feature.  ‘Voice Control’ is an absolute game changer for macOS and iOS — it is going to revolutionize the way individuals with fine motor challenges interact with their Apple Products.

WWDC19 logo of robot head with parts flying out. Black background

Later this fall, a new iOS and OS update will occur and ‘Voice Control’ will arrive for consumers across the globe.  This feature will allow the end user’s voice to navigate, dictate and work your devices in a completely new way.  With macOS Catalina, Voice Control lets the user who is not able to access traditional input devices to control Mac and iOS devices entirely with their voice!!!!! 

Close up of iphone with Voice Control on screen.

I am so excited to see the possibilities of the latest accessibility feature.  It’s basically like the old Voice Control on steroids!  Currently, I am thinking of all of the possibilities of using this new accessibility feature with individuals with limited or no upper limb control.  Again, thanks for reading and I look forward to the release of the ‘new’ Voice Control!

~Andrew

Apex Legends

Hi guys, some of you probably know that I am an avid gamer and especially the console platform games.  My first deep dive into Battle Royale games has come with the game ‘Apex Legends.’  This is a cross platform tile by ReSpawn (with financial backing from I believe by Electronic Arts) and it’s been a huge success with gamers of all ages.  Well over the past few weeks, I have been reading online that this particular game is hugely popular with Xbox One and PS4 players with disabilities — this title doesn’t require you to press every single button on the controller and some buttons simply do not have a function connected so from an accessibility standpoint, it’s a great game to play with an adaptive controller setup.

Apex Legends logo with solider next to name.

 

Well over the past few weeks as season 2 of the game is winding down — I have noticed that more and more individuals that cannot speak are playing the game instead they are using the in-game communication feature to communicate with other players.  I have really enjoyed noticing the surge in players in the gaming community that are using the accessibility features.  

 

Screen grab of settings screen on computer.

 

As you can see from above that the accessibility features are planted front and center within the game’s option menu. It is a welcome relief that the in-game chat has been made so user friendly that users with disabilities can ‘chat’ mid-game without losing the ‘flow’ of the game.  I hope that more video game developers make their accessibility features ‘front and center’ so all gamers can have fun and play!

Stay tuned for an accessible gaming event soon!  More details to follow. 

Thanks for reading!

Andrew

What a week or so!  I have spent a great deal of time, learning, thinking and educating folks
about accessing the web as an individual with a disability. I am so pleased to report back that
so many mainstream companies and more importantly small businesses (regional and local tech
firms) are now beginning to focus on website accessibility. Many of us are aware that the focus
on inclusivity of website access should have happened years ago considering the age of the
internet. Currently, I believe that accessibility is becoming ‘mainstream’ and developers are
having a paradigm shift in regards to how people think about website accessibility.
One of my favorite tools I like to use is WAVE Web Accessibility checker; it’s a simple to use
tool that scans websites for accessibility challenges that can then be remediated by the web
content creator or another appropriate person. The checker is very simple to use, simply go to
their site, enter your website address and then let the checker do it’s thing!

screenshot of home page for WAVE
After a few moments, the tool will provide feedback that can be used to remediate your website
and make it accessible for all!

Screen shot of Loudon County homepage
The challenges listed above can quite often be addressed using powerful content authoring
tools or sometimes a simple/pragmatic WYSIWYG editor.
To wrap up, feel free to comment on this post or reach out to us here at TAP and we can tell
you a little about the basics of creating or remediating accessible web content.

Thanks for reading!

Andrew

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