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.

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.

Customer Service should be for all departments not just HR

Recently I had an issue with our website that I couldn’t find the answer to. I searched the wordpress forums and asked around with no conclusion to my problem. I then decided to call up our hosting company and see if they had any ideas. I knew there was a simple solution but that solution was just hidden from me at that point in time.

So, I called up Bluehost. I’d highly recommend them if you are planning to produce a website.They have 24/7 support and are very informative and helpful. Well, if you get the right department that is. This article is not to bash Bluehost and their excellent support at all. I just have a few ideas on what customer service and support should be throughout a company.

Anyways, I explained my problem to the excellent rep and she explained that I had to go through technical support and that I’d have to call back the next day. I told her that I was blind and had went through all the troubleshooting steps that I knew how to do. The rep said that because I was new to Bluehost that she would help me out only this one time. The rep was very fast and efficient, explaining to me that I had a box checked that she had unchecked. She also explained to me that this box was checked by default when you’re working on a site with Bluehost. Letting your consumers know that the site is down and will be back up shortly.

While I got my problem resolved with the help of the excellent rep from Bluehost. I have an issue with customer service being split down a chain of command. If you are going to have different tiers of support great! If you have technical and then general support great! However, what about those night time events when tech support has gone home and night shift support is on the line? The night shift support whether general or some other support I believe need to be trained on all aspects of the support that is available. Or at least have resources available to them to be able to help a customer.

These are just my thoughts and experiences. What have been your experiences with customer support? Do you believe that support staff should be trained on all aspects of support? Comment down below or leave a mention over on our twitter page.

Apple might be leaving and for the better

For the past few years Apple has been recieving its processors or the brains of their computers from intel. The giant intel company in recent years has been delaying progress due to manufacturing or other problems within the company.

This has led to Apple releasing computers behind schedule leading consumers to complain about processor slowdowns in recent computers from Apple. Due to having to wait on Intel, Apple is going to be making their own CPU’s.

This is exciting because if Apple’s recent number for their iOS mobile devices is any indication of how fast and efficient they are. This will be amazing for their computers. Due to the manufacturing cost the new chips might make the cost of their computers go up. However, this is fine with me as the CPU’s, hardware, and melding of software will make Apple’s ecosystem even more enticing and enjoyable.

In this writers opinion, Apple should have been doing this for quite a while. Moving even more control of parts from a third party supplier to their own in house controlled manufacturing process lets go! When Apple starts making their own parts and stop relying on third party vendors like Intel. Apple will have even more reason for people to switch.

What do you think? Will Apple making their own CPU’s affect your next computer buying decision? Let me know in the comments below or shoot me a mention on Twitter or even Facebook.

Going Blind: Family Functions and navigating

Before I start to write this post. I have to say that I have the best friends and family in the world. So, here it goes.

My wife and I were at a Easter party/birthday party combination. The house we were going to I’ve only been in twice in the past few years So, I really didn’t know the inside or the outside. I’d only seen the house when my vision was good enough to use. If you are in this situation, memorize your surroundings as much as possible and ask for help when you need it. Asking for help is not a move for dependence but rather for independence.

Family and friends will help out only if you ask. During party’s there is a lot going on for the host/hostess and everyone is talking and noise is going to be an issue. So, just be observant and ask anybody for help. They should help you. If you don’t feel comfortable in the place where the party is at, go exploring and use your cane if you feel like you need it. Use protective techniques for example, put your arm in front of your face. That way if you bump into something your arm will catch it before your face. Trust me, I’ve done this and this technique helped me save my face in the long run. I didn’t get questions the next day asking what happened to me last night.

The best thing about going to party’s is the food. There will be a lot of things that you might know by smell but many things you may not know. Ask someone for help as trying to do this yourself might get your clothes dirty. again, asking for help is not a bad thing. Asking for help is necessary in some situations.

If you feel uncomfortable with this, I’m going to be honest and say that you’ll have to get over it and start. You may not find help in everybody but, somebody will help you if you keep asking.

 

Going Blind: Working in darkness

Working is hard enough. There’s deadlines to meet, customers to take care of, and the all important meetings to attend. This all is hard enough with vision. It gets even harder when you’re loosing your vision. Here’s my experience thus far and how it’s going.

 

Let me first tell you that I currently as of the time of this blog post work at Chick Fil A. I am working in the back stocking, washing dishes and anything else I can do to help. Sweeping, mopping, cleaning etc. All of this involves some sort of sight well, at least I thought. Dishes are pretty easy because you can feel if they are clean or not. So, that’s pretty non demanding. The other things for instance stocking require a little more thought.

 

Since Chick Fil A and I assume most other restaurants use items on a first need basis. They will put boxes, containers, bags, etc. anywhere to fill space at any given time. This makes for a clutter free environment and everything is easily accessible to everyone right? Well, not exactly. there’s this stocking technique I’m calling linear stock. This is almost like rotation where you bring the older product up front and put newer product in the back. However, linear stocking is putting everything in a particular place so it can be easily found and memorized. Unfortunately, most restaurants including Chick Fil A do not practice this technique. This makes my job harder because while for instance salad dressings will be in a particular order one day, they will not be in the same order the net. This makes it harder to memorize and complete this task. Also, moving around a kitchen environment makes navigating a bit tricky. It helps that the people I work with are awesome and help out in anything I need.

This brings me to my next point. In any work environment sighted people as well as yourself should always announce when they are coming up to you. Especially if you are caring something heavy and you may not know who is in the way. Saying things like “behind you.” for instance, tells the other person to not move for a second until you maneuver behind them. This is just common courtesy and in my opinion is not practiced enough.

It is also a good idea for employees and employers to talk about what can be done to make the work environment a safer place. Technology has come far and many employers see high cost technology as a benefit cost. What does this mean?? The employer for instance needs to buy a $60,000 accessible cash register and only sees how much it costs. The employer doesn’t understand that they will make the profit back within days. They also don’t see that it will help their employee in the task at hand. So, when asking for technology give examples of how it will help you but also how it will help the company and other coworkers around you.

I say all of that to encourage everybody who reads this post to keep searching for a job until you find one that fits. Practice makes perfect and if you don’t try at resume writing, interviews, thinking about what technology will help, then failure will be an option. Don’t ever give up on what you want to do. Don’t become a statistic of blind people and the misconceptions that linger in a sighted world.

Going Blind: Dealing with Navigating Again

Sighted people take it for granted that they can just look somewhere and go. For us as blind people it takes us just a few more moments (scratch that, make it miles) to get to where we want to go. Although not impossible even relearning places you’ve been to before, loosing your vision is stressful.

I knew it was going to happen, not at my house though. Well at least I thought. Ok, I haven’t had to relearn the entire house however, I do have to be more cautious about stairs than ever before. Was it 3 or 4 steps. I need to memorize this. Anyways, I didn’t think relearning or I’d have to relearn places I’ve been before.

With loosing my vision, I’ve had to begrudgingly take out my cane and make sure I wasn’t running into a chair that I could see just a few weeks ago. Or how about a pew that I didn’t think was there and what do you know with my hand out I was about ready to give myself a rude awakening if I hadn’t stopped and checked.

I’m more cautious when going into anywhere like Walmart or Kroger. Not because I know where most things are but, because department stores love to move things around to get products noticed and for customers to impulse by them. Hey, I have nothing wrong with that just let the blind guy know that you’ve moved something in the middle of the walkway first. Thanks!

For places where I’d never use my cane I’m finding it to be a lifesaver. Even in unfamiliar places I’ve now been immediately taken out my cane. I wouldn’t have normally done so relying on what vision I had to make judgement calls on steps, to where tables were etc. I’ve never been ashamed to use my cane however, I’m noticing I’m pulling it out all of the time. Which isn’t a bad thing at all.

I’d encourage people who are loosing their vision to take O&M it will change your life. You don’t have to start out big. Nobody ever does however, it will change your life.