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The Future of Braille Technology

Introduction

Right now at this very moment, braille technology is looking good. We have low cost sub $500 braille displays that get the job done. There are also prototypes of multiline braille displays that are being developed. These displays would be awesome for someone like me who knows braille music. This would allow for the music to be presented in an easier way for studying and teaching.

The future is slimer and thinner

I see the future of braille becoming integrated into everyday objects. Or at least as small as current tablet computers such as iPads. It would be awesome if some surfaces were dedicated braille surfaces that would pop up with a portion dedicated to reading or displaying braille. Whether this would be used for reading while watching TV or even just relaxing outside on your favorite chair. A display would spring up from any surface and allow you to read braille. This could be a book, web page, or even any items loaded from a cloud based service like iCloud Drive or even Google Drive. You could even have your phone or ven computer tied to your internet connect. Allowing you to use the device all with braille.

On the Go

When you’re ready to leave and go travel. Your braille device could be folded into a smaller display for easier portability. This would allow for TSA to see it as a normal tablet as well. Once on the plane or at your destination, the user could unfold the tablet like device and begin reading where they left off. Or even connect their mobile device and go about their business. The braille itself could also be dynamic. Dynamic braille could sense how hard or soft the user would want the display to output the braille dots. Remembering that while studying music for instance. The user wanted harder braille then when reading a book. Dynamic braille would also have a layout of every printed material such as books. The unit would automatically flip pages without the user even knowing. Sort of like how a braille book has interpoint on the next page. If the book had any diagrams or tactile graphics, the unit would also know the layout and display these graphics in a layout that the user would choose. Condensing the information for easier reading. These are just a few examples of what Dynamic braille could be used for. More applications would be up to developers and user feedback.

Conclusion

What are your thoughts? I’m excited to see where braille goes from a technology perspective. We’ve already come so far with braille, it will continue to keep growing and become more advanced with the times. As technology moves forward braille will adapt and grow with it.

Have a Sixth Sense through this device

Introduction

We’ve all wanted a sixth sense. The awareness of a bat or some other supernatural super hero sense. For the past few years many cane companies have brought out some neat ideas. There was the K-Sonar. A device that would attached to the cane. The user would wear headphones and hold on to the K-Sonar device. This little gadget would admit different sounds depending on what the sonar was picking up. There was also the Ultracane. A modified cane that used vibrating sonar pads. However, both of these devices were met with skepticism and a high price tag to go along with it.

My how fast technology moves

In this day in age where tech is moving forward very fast. Developments in sonar and how to use it move along just as well. Gone are the days using the cane to attach devices to. Now, we are able to wear sonar on the wrist. Enter in SUNU Band. This wearable sonar band will give you a sixth sinse. Allowing you to detect objects and obstacles from 1 foot to 13 feet from you. This depends on whether you are in outdoor or indoor environments.

just as an example you can know when a line moves up. If a sign has bent or tree branch is in your way. move around people with ease. Just to name a few instances where we’ve already experimented with the Sunu band.

First Impressions

Let me state now that Linson Productions LLC does insist that the Sunu band will not replace a cane or a guide dog. Heck it even won’t replace a good sighted guide from time to time. What the band will do is give you a spacial awareness of what is around you. We insist that the person wearing the band not try to go out for a walk without a cane or other preferred mobility aid.

Now that we got the legal stuff out of the way. We here at Linson Productions LLC love the band. There are a few things that we’ll go over in future blog posts about minor fixes. However, these can all be done in software. The Sunu band is like having an app controlled device. Well, because the band is actually app controlled. Unfortunately the app is only iOS specific at the moment. Further testing is required to go into a longer blog post of all the features. Nevertheless the love the Sunu band.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a sixth sense experience get the Sunu band. Training is required but it is well worth the experience. More to come from Linson Productions LLC on the Sunu band.

Android shouldn’t just copy Apple just because

Introduction

When the iPhone X came out you could find me ranting about how the notch on the top of the phone was stupid. I didn’t really understand why it was there in in the first place. Yeah I knew that Apple had some big fancy words and tricks for Face ID but, that eyebrow on the phone man! Many people thought the notch was an including myself. Nevertheless I found myself once my contract was up with a purchasing decision. Did I go for the iPhone X or the 8 plus model? I went for the iPhone X barring any judgement I had about the notch. I wanted to see what the iPhone X was all about.

For the sake of moving along I love my iPhone X, It truly is the iPhone of the future. I will dive more into my thoughts in a later blog post on the phone. However, let’s talk android.

Putting something that doesn’t belong

As soon as the iPhone X came out, reviews started pouring in that android manufacturers were going to put in notch’s. My first thought was why? If you can’t make a notch useful then why copy Apple. Apple had a reason to do the notch. I believe that they want the notch smaller even gone. However, they had to make a decision and they did. Android manufactures are just putting a notch into their software.

Okay, So what does that mean?

Having a notch hold a bunch of camera tech is useful. Where else would you put it? Android manufacturers are just putting tweaks in their customization of android to have variety’s of notch’s. Even the new LG G7 ThinQ )horrible name and horrible design by the way LG( are allowing the user to remove the notch if they’d like. LG here’s a small piece of advice. If you don’t have a reason for a notch then why put it in your software? The phone would look much better if you’d leave it out. Also, many carriers would sell the phone if it were not for the notch.

Conclusion

Apple designs products for their customers with a lot of research and development. Even having internal arguments with design and functionality. They bring their products to waiting customers knowing that sometimes there will be push back. Ultimately Apple comes out on top. Even customers saying that Apple was wrong see the decision as a life changing event. However, android in my opinion even after 2 years of owning a device. Never really had that affect on me.

Editing with a screen reader: This to is possible

Introduction

All throughout college I had to magnify my screen to allow for the usage of audio production software. I had heard about accessible software DAW’s like Reaper but didn’t take the plunge. Man did I wish I had.

Continue reading Editing with a screen reader: This to is possible

3D Touch on iOS needs to stay

introduction

You don’t find a windows computer without the ability to left and right click. So, why should Apple remove the ability for it’s users to 3D Touch the screen? You might as well remove the feature from the Apple watch devices too.

A Case for 3D Touch

While Apple’s marketing videos had a hard time explaining 3D touch to their users. When found and learned about, 3D touch in my opinion is an invaluable “right click” on iOS. Allowing for many functions that would require multiple taps to dig into menus and other features.

Having a second push basic gesture allowing for most used or even different functions. Makes the platform and work environment of iOS different among their competitors. It allows for a quick call to a friend, quickly bring up a recent message, or even compose a new email without having to even open the mail application.

Idea for teaching people 3D Touch

In this world of video, where everything is shown to the user. Some examples are hard to show. This is especially the case with 3D Touch on iOS. You can’t really see how to press your iPhone because the force required is so small. The camera doesn’t really do a good job of picking the slightest movement up. Apple could explain how to use and invoke 3D Touch in the following ways.

in store demos

interactions with customers having problems in store

webinars 

specific topic in the iPhone pamphlet 

What will happen if Apple decides to remove 3D Touch?

Android manufactures will have a hayday. Probably mocking Apple for removing a feature that they now have. Although we can say the same about the notch from the iPhone X. Android manufactures are not doing anything with their notches but playing the wannabe game.

If Apple removes 3D Touch then I believe they are making iOS harder to use. Just for the fact that with a single down press of the screen. A little menu will pop up with actions. Making certain things a user would have to go into the app for, a thing of the past. Allowing for a whole new experience. Many developers have embraced the use of 3D Touch. For instance Overcast will allow you to see what is playing. Be able to stop and start the podcast. Even allow you to see what is in your queue and play the next podcast. All of these actions would take you even more time within the app. In this instance 3D Touch allows for a few swipes and taps as possible. Shaving a few seconds off of what could be 30 or so seconds within the app.

Conclusion

The removal of 3D Touch on iOS would be a shame. Not only would developers have to remove this code from the app. Users would be wasting time within the app trying to get a certain task done. When that particular task could be put into a 3D Touch action on the home screen of iOS.

What are your thoughts? Would you miss 3D Touch if it goes away?Let me know in the comments below.

What can the iPhone stand to lose next?

introduction

Apple is the king of removing items that consumers think they need. Taking seemingly small things away like SD Card support on laptops in favor of a USB Type C standard for data transfer and power. So, then this magical thing happened. Apple in their wisdom removed the headphone jack. A port that was used by many of their customers. I myself championed the by mouth petition that Apple needs to bring back the headphone jack. However, in my use of my device I’ve never used the adapter for headphone use.

What can Apple remove next?

The removal of our beloved headphone jack was a small loss. Many of us including myself have gotten bluetooth headphones to fill our analog needs. So, what else could be in Apple’s future plans for removal?

In my opinion I believe that the lightning port would be the next port to go. Due to the introduction of wireless charging Qui standards. Even though for me I still use a lightning cable in my bedroom. I have a Qui wireless charger on my desk. I use the wireless charger for quick top offs of the battery. Before I leave for work for instance.

The reason for me still having a lightning cable in my bedroom is  for convenience. Many times at night before my wife and I go to bed. Our phones see themselves in the hand of each of their respective owners. Many times catching up on the days youtube videos that each of us have missed. Many times through testing I’ve noticed. While wireless charging is need. It doesn’t charge your phone as fast. Which isn’t a problem when I just need to make sure my battery is full before work. However, watching video really drains that precious battery. Having the phone plugged into the wall. Gives me peace of mind that my battery will charge while I am winding down for the night.

Conclusion

While wireless charging is awesome and quite readily available for cheap. It can sometimes not be the best solution for every situation. So, I am not sure what else Apple could remove from their iOS devices to make them more closed off. I’d say the side silence switch but I find myself using that all the time instead of do not disturb.

What are your thoughts? Can Apple remove the Lightning port in favor of more battery space? Would you mind if the silence switch was removed? Comment down below.

The state of braille is it still alive?

introduction

I’ve been a braille user for a long time many more than I can count. However, it wasn’t always raised dots and displays. In this article I will give my arguments to defend braille as a living, breathing, necessity.

The Fight Begins

My education was not what you’d call straight forward. I was home schooled by my mother until I went into the 5th grade. Only then did I get involved in a mainstream school. during my 7th grade year I switched to a school for the blind. While in 5th grade, my mother wanted the school to start teaching me braille. So, I began the starter lessons. When I reached the school for the blind however, I and my mom were met with some opposition. My vision during those middle and high school years was good enough that I could read large print. The only problem, large print was not large enough for me. My mom and I fought for the school for the blind to give me braille instruction. After many IEP meetings stressing the immportance of braille. The school gave in and started teaching me. Wow, was I amazed at this system of reading in the dark.

Blurry Lines for Some

While learning braille I was reading almost everything that suited my fancy. From science fiction to historical fiction and everything in between. You could easily spot me with a large braille book in my hand after school reading. My mom didn’t know that most nights I’d still be reading when I should have been asleep. Oh well, the secret is out now. The enjoyment I got of being able to do something my sighted peers could not do at night was fun for me. Not to mention that being able to save what vision I had to use it for more important things was a lifesaver.

Many teachers understood my need to switch on the fly day to day depending on how my vision wanted to act like that day. However, one of my teachers who taught me english didn’t understand my need for braille at all.

This statement brings me to my second point

Braille should be taught to every visually impaired student

Many times we like to categorize visually impaired children into different groups. We assign them devices, and strategies that will work for them. The blind kids get braille and note taking devices while the low vision kids get large print and no braille. I believe that every visually impaired kid, adult, senior etc. needs to know braille. This is because you never know what situation might happen for an individuals vision to leave them. Also, their eye condition might leave them without sight and no warning of this happening.

Braille displays and technology

When refreshable braille came out in the 90’s you could forget the big books. Which I automatically did. You could find me during study time when I finished my studying on the computer. Looking up downloadedable braille books from many different sources. My friends and I would always trade books back and forth. With the advent of low cost displays and braille easier to find. There is no excuse for a blind child, adult, senior etc. to not learn braille. Braille brings employment, spacial understanding of document layouts, proofreading accuracy and much more.

With developments like the Canute from Bristol Braille Technologies and the rise of multi line displays. Even a entire music score could be easier to read very soon. This is something that is hard to replicate on a single line display. The world and technology of braille innovation is moving rapidly. I am excited to be apart of it.

Not to be undone you can pair an iOS device to a braille display and keep your phone in your pocket. Allowing for silent navigation of the device and making it less likely for other people to steal the blind person’s phone. Not to mention that your privacy will be seen only to yourself.

Conclusion

I am so glad I was taught braille. I have to admit though that my braille skills are not to the level of a totally blind person knowing the symbols for $ and things like that. However, with the internet and a little facebook help I could learn.

I use braille on the daily. Even at work I brailled a few labels to know what they were. Doing the braille labels allowed me to help customers and be on the same level as my sighted peers.

What are your thoughts on braille? Are you excited to start your journey into the world of braille? What are your favorite braille devices? How long have you used braille?

Working with Apple: A review of the Apple Watch Series 3 while working

introduction

For those of you who are working. Does the Apple watch help you in your job? Are you looking to get one but not sure if the watch will benefit you? In this post I will answer those questions and more.

Style, Fit, and Finish

When I purchased my Apple watch 4 months ago. I opted into aluminum black or space grey model with the matching sport band. I didn’t want to pay the extra money for the stainless steel as I also purchased Apple Care with the watch. So, I knew that for me Apple Care would take care of anything.

That being said, I also liked the stealth look and still like the look of the Apple watch I purchased. Asking many friends around the place where I work. They all said that there are no visable scuffs or marks. Even though, I know that I’ve banged the watch and glass face a few times against solid hard metal and chrome plating. This resilience and resistance to breakage is amazing to me for this type of wearable.

If you have the extra bones though, I’d go for the stainless steel model. As you get higher quality glass and a stainless steel band around the internals of the watch. This fact however didn’t have an impact on my buying decision. The reason is due to the fact that I can’t see scuffs or anything about the watch. So, external appearance when it comes to watches doesn’t really matter to me as much.

Those pesky activity rings

I also wanted a watch that would track a lot of my health data. I am no fitness nut by any means. However, I do like to know the number of steps, miles, alories, heart rate, stairs, etc. that I do everyday. You could argue that a fitbit device would do a lot of what I need for half the price. While you are right, I didn’t want something external not made by Apple. Plus, I had a fitbit for a while and found it a hassle. Due to how the way it charged and how much a replacement charging station was. Apple’s offering was more enticing and dare I say it. Just works!

For what my job entails I do a lot of walking, running, and burn a lot of calories. The Apple watch is perfect for this type of movement. I also hit a lot of my standing goals during the time I work. Which for me is a plus since the other half my Apple watch is bugging me to stand for a minute.

accessibility in terms of screen reading

Going back to the fitbit for just a moment. While the application when I last tested it was accessible wit voiceover on iOS. However, the fitbit devices themselves are inaccessible to blind and low vision users. Devices like the fitbit charge HR , Ionic, and others have small screens with no hit of speech feedback related to being able to touch and use the screen successfully.

Many times there will be a pairing code associated with the pairing process which is completely inaccessible and needs sighted assistance. In 2018 company’s like fitbit who want to reach a large audience need to include accessibility in their pairing process as well.

Out of sight, out of mind

The major reason for owning an Apple watch in my opinion is not just for notifications. It is very useful for hiding the fact that your phone is in your pocket. While at work, pulling out your phone could mean you’re walking the line between fired and staying hired. Especially if you don’t relay to your superiors what’s going on. An Apple watch allows you to be aware of incoming notifications and reply to things without having to pull your phone in plain sight of everyone.

I use my watch in conjunction with my airpods to play podcasts and reply to messages while at work. Noting that my job allows me to do this for the time being. I find that the combination of the watch and airpods. Helps in being quick and efficient as possible in my work environment.

A little side note: the ability to basically dunk my watch in soapy water, regular rinsing water, and then sanitizing water. Multiple times a night and not have to worry about the watch getting wet is awesome. I’ve tried the water lock feature once or twice. When water has gotten into the speaker a quick dry overnight both times has made the speaker come back to life.

The water ejection does work however and is pretty cool to see it in action. You might have to do the trick multiple time however, it will work eventually.

Conclusion

The combination of Apple mobile products just keeps getting better and better with every generation and update. Voiceover the screen reader on iOS devices is on par with devices like iPhones and iPads. Delivering a clean, smooth, responsive experience on your wrist. I’d highly recommend one. The watch will change your life for the better.

Going Blind: Navigating in a Sighted World

introduction

Let’s face the music right now. This world that we live in is not meant to be accessible to anybody with a difference. This means lack of sight, movement, hearing, etc. So, we as individuals have to come up with solutions helping us be apart of the sighted world in ways that sighted people may not understand. The way to do this is through technology. Whether the technology is low, no, or high tech depends on the situation at hand.

That being said, how does a blind person navigate the world around them? This article will attempt to give readers a better understanding of the technology in mainstream devices helps us to live everyday lives and navigate among a sighted world.

Seeing AI

At the time of this writing Seeing AI is only on the iOS platform. When the application arrives on android I will let everybody know through a podcast and a blog post just like this one. However, Seeing AI is a great all around application. It allows the user to read basically any form of text that they may need to read. Along with reading text, Seeing AI allows you to also scan bar codes and find out what product you have in your hand. This awesome application reads handwriting as well. The first of its kind to do this functionality. Seeing AI should be in every blind person’s toolbox.

BE My Eyes

Be My Eyes connects the user with a sighted agent allowing them to ask questions to a sighted volunteer. This allows the blind person to see what color pants they have on and if it matches their shirt. Unlike another simular application on this list. Which we will talk about soon, the quality can be different from agent to agent. Although Be My Eyes has a feature that still makes me keep it on my phone. This feature allows me to get help with my windows computer directly through a microsoft agent. This is an awesome co-op with microsoft. Allowing the blind person to not have to explain what a screen reader is for the 4th time. I myself have not yet had to use this particular service of Be My Eyes but when I need to I will be able to and report back. When or if the need arises.

Be Specular

Be Specular is similar to Be My Eyes just without the Microsoft technical support aspect of the app.

AIRA

AIRA is the service that I am anxious to try. After reading Jonathon Mosen’s blog post about his experiences with the service. And also listening to multiple podcasts. I can’t wait to get my hands on this awesome service.

Allowing for sighted individuals to connect with blind people similar to Be My Eyes. The sighted agents on the other end of the call are trained. The blind user is also trained on how to use the glasses and service as well. Aira is a service which I hope keeps going strong because it does a lot of good for blind individuals. You can find Jonathon’s blog post by going to mosen.org and hitting the blog link. You will find his awesome writings along with his awesome AIRA post.

Apple is making a desperate move to shut professionals up. Here’s how

Recently there have been a lot of articles floating around the internet related to Apple creating a modular mac for professionals. This would drastically alleviate the need for the grossly understated trash can mac pro. This particular computer has not seen an update since 2013. Apple innovated with this computer back then and left it to rot. Basically telling professionals that we don’t care about you and that you will just have to wait and see what we come up with or move platforms. While I love what Apple does in regards to accessibility for everyone. I believe that they have booted the professional out of the way. They are only worried about iOS and the consumer. Sure, they may migrate Mac OS and iOS but where does that leave the professional?

You could argue the point and say “Aaron, the iMac pro was made for professionals.” While I would agree professionals are not looking for an all in one machine. Many have multi displays and just need something to be the computer. Not the whole computer as Apple is trying to sell them. Apple I totally get that you want professionals to buy the latest iThing. But don’t leave us hanging with half baked hardware and even software.

Moving towards iOS from a professional standpoint can not be done until Apple brings out major applications to iOS. Applications like Final Cut Pro and Logic X oh, and make them accessible with voiceover and all other accessibility related services please. In fact how about testing the those applications before putting them out on the app store just to make sure they are accessible.

What are your thoughts? Does Apple still care about professionals or not? Leave your comment below or follow us on social media and start a conversation.