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Apple Watch

Hi guys, every week I try to post an interesting or current blog post that is assistive technology related.  Well, this week I have been mulling over what to write about as quite a few interesting products are available that have caught my eye.  However, this particular post this week has a very organic origin and I figured I should go with what happened when my son began using an old Apple Watch we had in a drawer at our home. 

Close up of Apple Watch faceSo my son last night started up an older Apple Watch on it’s initial setup and he accidentally triggered VoiceOver.  He came to show me how the watch was acting a little weird and speaking out what was occurring on the screen.  I explained to my kiddo that the feature he triggered was a very cool Watch OS accessibility support called ‘VoiceOver’ that was built to help individuals with blindness and significant visual challenges.  After chatting for a few minutes, my son was really excited to hear about Apple’s work to make their products universally accessible.


So for those that did not know, Apple’s Watch OS 5 is packed with great accessibility features that allow individuals with blindness and low vision to utilize their products with ease.  For those folks interested in seeing VoiceOver in action, simply activate it during initial setup or hold the crown bezel/dial for a few seconds until Siri is awakened then say ‘activate VoiceOver.’  This particular rendition of VoiceOver is very easy to use and relies on similar screen swipes and taps for watch navigation. Once you are doing exploring VoiceOver, feel free to summon Siri again and say ‘deactivate VoiceOver.’

Close up of three Apple watches


For low vision, WatchOS supports Extra large watch face and Zoom both features can be enabled in the settings with ease.  The extra large watch face is significantly easier to see the watch face when activated.  The Zoom feature is another fantastic built-in feature that magnifies the screen up to 15 times. 


For deafness and hard of hearing, it is possible to enable mono audio to support your hearing needs.  Another great feature is the taptic engine which can provide haptic feedback (tactually) and discretely alert the wearer to incoming messages and alerts.


If you are interested in learning more about Apple’s accessibility features and their work in this field click the hyperlink in this sentence.


Thanks for reading,



Thinking about your summer vacation??  Concerned about accessibility overseas?  Consider Airbnb Adapted Experiences.

Airbnb Experiences are unique tours or activities hosted by passionate local experts. They differ from traditional mainstream tourist activities as they are all host led, and the group sizes are kept small to allow guests to really connect with a city or local culture. They are typically between 2 – 6 hours in duration and do not include accommodation. Anyone can book and enjoy an Airbnb Experience either in their local area or whilst on vacation – not just guests staying in an Airbnb Home.

Man using wheelchair outside on path with Golden Gate Bridge in background.

Airbnb Experiences cover everything – traditional pasta making classes in Italyyoga classes under the Eiffel Towerintimate jazz concerts and so many more.

Airbnb is currently building a very exciting collection of Adapted Experiences. These are experiences that have been created by hosts with disability in mind and will have detailed accessibility information so that guests can decide if the experience will be suitable for their needs.  They are adding more experiences every day!  

You can view the current Adapted Experiences at airbnb.com/adapted

Extreme close up of hand holding a controller. Wow, guys this one slid by me without me noticing this great bit of accessibility news to be honest!  However, I am now super excited to reveal that in-game communication is now subject to US. Accessibility law (effective Jan 2019).  Meaning that in-game voice chat, text messaging and other video messaging has to be accessible for individuals with disabilities.  The law I am referencing is the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) into law in 2010 by President Obama.

President Obama signs a law while sitting at desk.  He is surrounded by others including Senators and Stevie Wonder.

Personally, I am a big gamer and I enjoy many online games that include the ‘Battle Royale’ format which requires players to communicate with players in their two or three person teams, constantly.  The need for constant communication is a must for the team to be successful within the game.   As a gamer, I am truly excited that gamers with disabilities are now being included, too.  I hope to be receiving accessible communication from gamers with accessibility needs in the near future!

Finally, we will be hosting a video game event in the near future so look out for that blog post in the coming months.  Thanks for reading!


Last night the Image Center hosted their annual awards Solutions event.  What an inspiring night!!  

The event honors the innovative solutions created by volunteer engineers and medical professionals to enhance the lives of persons with disabilities.  More than 75 volunteers have worked on creative solutions to solve barriers people face everyday.  These volunteers design, fabricate and build to make dreams happen!  Check out this cool solution provided to Rob:  https://youtu.be/29yNMn0UFvU


This year’s awards also marks the merger of VME with the Image Center.  This is a perfect partnership between these agencies.  It is amazing what can happen when innovative thinking meets innovative problem solving!  

Secretary Beatty and Mike Bullis of Image Center stand on stage.


Secretary Beatty of Maryland Department of Disabilities gave opening remarks and brought greetings from Governor Hogan and the entire Hogan Administration.  

For more information on AT devices, contact one of our AT Specialists! 

Accessible Packaging

Hello all,

This week I’ve been really excited about the arrival of the Xbox Adaptive Controller!  However, this post won’t be focusing on that particular adaptive controller it will instead be detailing my experience with Mircrosoft’s use of accessible packaging for the first time ever!

End of shipping box with tab slightly pulled open.

The outer shell of the box was sealed with accessible tape which features an easy-to-open one
handed loop/pull. I was able to open the box using only one hand as the packaging was
intended — very cool!

Side of green box with easy open tab.

Once inside, the Xbox Adaptive Controller had a similar accessible opener – this time in the form
of a transparent double loop. I found the opening of the actual packaging very easy – again still
using only one hand. From my experience, the loop opening system would also be extremely
helpful for individuals with fine motor challenges.
I was excited as I took our first adaptive controller for the current gen consoles for a twirl last
weekend at the World of Possibilities Expo!

Finally, I do commend the Microsoft time for taking
the time to ensure their new product’s packaging is accessible, too.

Thanks for reading,

Buzz Clip

Hey guys,

Andrew here, I wanted to introduce you to a really cool mobility tool for the blind it’s called the ‘Buzz Clip’.  This device was designed for individuals with low vision and blindness and it’s a sensor-based system that provides the wearer with physical feedback in the form of vibrations of different strength when the wearer is near (or approaching)  a large object such as a wall or a person. The device is meant to be placed centrally on the user’s shirt, jacket, top or outer garment — typically it should be worn close to the wearer’s sternum. Buzz Clip is lightweight, easy to manage with only two buttons and comes with a powerful clip.Large product sign for BuzzClip device in front of conference table.

Back in March, I had the opportunity to meet the company’s lead and chat about his product when I was at the CSUN conference.  I tried out the Buzz Clip and it was pretty awesome – it gave me feedback when I was approaching objects/persons and during my brief trial of the device I was impressed.  Here at MD TAP we are fortunate enough to have one of the aforementioned devices and I am excited to hear more user feedback from our constituents.

If you love the Buzz Clip or even if you don’t love it, please leave a comment below!

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