Reviewing EyeNote vs Money Reader vs SeeingAI to Recognize US Notes

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In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides, News and Reviews podcast, we review the three major iOS money reading apps for US bank notes, EyeNote, Money Reader, and SeeingAI. Wile many in the blindness community advocate for the US to adopt tactile bank notes, there is absolutely nothing stopping one from simply integrating one of these three amazing currency recognition apps into their lives. Here are the three and our general thoughts:

  • EyeNote by the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing
    • Version 3.0, December 2017
    • The official app from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing updated Eyenote to support the 64bit requirements for compatibility with iOS 11. The result is a very quick and smooth US currency recognition app that detects and announces the denomination and which side is facing up. The only draw back involves the lack of support for other currencies.
  • Nant Mobile Money Reader (aka Money Reader) by IPPLEX
    • Version 2.6, October 2017
    • Long touted by the blindness community as the best currency recognition app on the App Store despite numerous name and developer changes, Money Reader still preforms admirably. The identification occurs rapidly through your Voice Over’s voice. It also continuously announces the denomination of the note as long as you hold it under your iOS device’s camera. Additionally it identifies most every major bank note in the world.
  • SeeingAI by Microsoft
    • Version 2.0, December 2017
    • Microsoft continuously expands upon the sheer awesomeness of SeeingAI. The recent addition for currency recognition occurs flawlessly. Similar to Money Reader, it will continuously announce any currency you have under your device’s camera, relying on speech settings you selected within its settings under menu. At this point, SeeingAI requires you to select the type of currency you use under Menu, Settings, Currency, and is limited to US, UK, Canadian, and Euros.

… and the winner is… It depends.

SeeingAI will remain my main solution since its capable of recognizing more than just currencies. The multifunctional aspects of it promotes my willingness to integrate it into daily life. I do not do international travel, so being able to recognize multiple currencies is not a big deal. The ability to set currency recognition within the 3d Touch menu only makes it that much easier to access this feature.

The updated version of Eyenote is a very close second and would not dismiss it. If anything, its a great backup and its abilities to inform you which side is facing up aids those Type A folks who need things in a certain way.

If you require the ability to identify multiple currencies, then Money Reader will be the best app to rely on. I have used it during international travels and found it very accurate and simple to use.

If you enjoy the Blind Vet Tech Podcast series, we invite anyone interested in assistive technology for the blind to join us on our monthly tech teleconferences. Click here to see a list of our calls and how to connect via Zoom.

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Stay up to date with the latest news and announcements through the Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides, News and Reviews blog and podcasts.

If you have any questions, comments, or requests, feel free to send us an email here. All of our podcasts and other information related to Veterans, blindness, acceptance of a disability, and other resources may be found at BlindNotAlone.com

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Learn How to Use iOS 11 Camera’s QR Code Reader, Photo’s Facial Features Recognition, and OCR Images with Voice Over

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In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides, News and Reviews podcast, we demonstrate how to use the new QR Code reader in the Camera app, explore facial features in Photos, and recognize text in images through Voice Over. Apple continuously improves features for the blind and visually impaired with each update, and these three new features simply make iOS the goto device for us. Here is how to preform these features:

  • QR Code Reading through the Camera App
    • Open the Camera app and place it over a Qr Code
    • Wait for Voice Over to announce that a QR Code was recognized
    • Navigate to the Notification banner at the top of the screen that allows you to read the QR Code and navigate to the embedded link in Safari (if available)
  • Find facial features in the Photos app
    • Find a picture with a face in it by doing a three finger single tap on a photo in the Photos app
    • With the photo opened, place Voice Over on the picture and do a one finger swipe down to locate Show Facial Features (if this is not available use the rotor to find Actions)
    • Double tap on Show Facial Features and then explore by touch or swipe to find the facial features,/li>
  • Recognize text in images with Voice Over
    • Find an image in Safari, emails, social media or wherever that might have images with text
    • Place Voice Over’s focus on the image and do a three finger single tap
    • You will hear details about the photo, and if text is identified Voice Over will say “Possible Recognized Text”

Thank you for listening to this Blind Vet Tech tutorial on how to use the new features in iOS 11 for QR Code Reading in Camera, finding facial features in Photos, and recognizing text in images with Voice Over.

Stay Informed

Stay up to date with the latest news and announcements from the Blind Vet Tech team, by doing one of the following:

If you have any questions, comments, or requests, feel free to send us an email here. All of our podcasts and other information related to Veterans, blindness, acceptance of a disability, and other resources may be found at BlindNotAlone.com

Don’t miss another Blind Vet Tech teleconference, click here to see a list of our teleconferences and others we support.

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How to Listen to Podcast Via Amazon Echo

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In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides, News and Reviews podcast, we demonstrate how to listen to podcast through an Amazon Echo via TuneIn Radio. This episode continues to build upon our previous Amazon Echo and Alexa episodes by guiding one through a couple of new commands and further inspection of the Alexa iOS App. In this episode we:

  • Ask Alexa to play the Blind Vet Tech Podcast
  • Search for a podcast through the Alexa iOS app by
    • Open the Alexa app
    • Double tapping on menu in the upper left corner
    • Navigate to and double tap on Music, Videos, and Books
    • Navigate to TuneIn Radio
    • Navigate to Podcast
    • Enter into the search field and search for a podcast
    • Double tap on the Podcast and the episode to start listening
  • Add a podcast to the Favorite list in the TuneIn Radio settings by
    • Double tap on Now Playing tab in the lower right corner
    • Find the Cue link
    • Find the name of the podcast or episode and swipe once to the right so Voice Over is on an unlabeled link
    • Double tap on the unlabeled link and swipe to the right and double tap on Favorite

Thank you for listening to this Blind Vet Tech tutorial on how to listen to TuneIn Radio podcasts on an Amazon Echo.

Stay Informed

Stay up to date with the latest news and announcements from the Blind Vet Tech team, by doing one of the following:

If you have any questions, comments, or requests, feel free to send us an email here. All of our podcasts and other information related to Veterans, blindness, acceptance of a disability, and other resources may be found at BlindNotAlone.com

Don’t miss another Blind Vet Tech teleconference, click here to see a list of our teleconferences and others we support.

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Microsoft’s Seeing AI Is the One Recognition App To Rule Them All

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In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides, News and Reviews podcast, we demonstrate Microsoft’s Seeing AI. Microsoft essentially crammed the KNFB Reader, AI Poly, Tap Tap See, Red Laser, Facebook’s AI alt tag, and Apple Camera’s accessibility features into a single app. Unlike other apps which tried to do this, like Talking Goggles, Microsoft’s Seeing AI combines ease of use with fairly high accuracy, making Seeing AI a must have. Let’s just call Seeing AI, the Orcam killer. The main features of Seeing Ai includes:

  • Short Text
  • Document
  • Product
  • Picture and Facial Recognition
  • Scenery
  • Currency

Thank you for listening to this Blind Vet Tech tutorial on Microsoft’s Seeing AI.

Stay Informed

Stay up to date with the latest news and announcements from the Blind Vet Tech team, by doing one of the following:

If you have any questions, comments, or requests, feel free to send us an email here. All of our podcasts and other information related to Veterans, blindness, acceptance of a disability, and other resources may be found at BlindNotAlone.com

Don’t miss another Blind Vet Tech teleconference, click here to see a list of our teleconferences and others we support.

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Five Alexa Commands All Echo Users Should Know

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In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorials podcast, we demonstrate five Alexa commands Echo users should know. Listening to music and streaming radio, catching up with the news, setting timers and alarms, playing games, and checking your calendar ranks amongst the most common tasks blind individuals access through an Echo. Bookmark our podcasts on Amazon Echo to learn how to utilize the Echo to its fullest capabilities.

The commands we use include:

  • Alexa play WBBM Radio (or other radio station)
  • Alexa play songs by Pearl Jam (or other artists, song titles, and genres)
  • Alexa stop
  • Alexa next or previous track
  • Alexa play the News
  • Alexa play my flash briefing
  • Alexa next article
  • Alexa set a timer for 1 minute (or other time interval)
  • Alexa how much time is left on the timer
  • Alexa set alarm for 0600 tomorrow
  • Alexa play Jeopardy or Geography Trivia
  • Alexa what is on my calendar for tomorrow

Thank you for listening to this Blind Vet Tech tutorial on five common commands for Amazon Echo’s Alexa.

Stay Informed

Stay up to date with the latest news and announcements from the Blind Vet Tech team, by doing one of the following:

If you have any questions, comments, or requests, feel free to send us an email here. All of our podcasts and other information related to Veterans, blindness, acceptance of a disability, and other resources may be found at BlindNotAlone.com

Don’t miss another Blind Vet Tech teleconference, click here to see a list of our teleconferences and others we support.

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Amazon Echo: Setting Up The Echo Dot

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In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorials podcast, we preform step 2 of 2 when setting up an Amazon Echo product, setting up and paring an Amazon Echo Dot. In the prior podcast, we covered step 1, installing the Amazon Alexa app. The Amazon Echo enables you to interface with Alexa and all of your connected devices and other skills. We choose the Echo Dot due to its low cost, ease of use, and portability. Check out our article on Paul’s experience with a smart home from the Heartlander newsletter, and bookmark our podcasts on Amazon Echo to learn how to utilize the Echo to its fullest capabilities.

In this episode we will:

  • Describe the Echo Dot
  • Walk through the process with the Alexa app to set up the Amazon Dot
  • Quickly demonstrate how Voice Over repeating the tutorial commands can activate Alexa

Thank you for listening to this Blind Vet Tech tutorial on setting up the Amazon Echo Dot.

Stay Informed

Stay up to date with the latest news and announcements from the Blind Vet Tech team, by doing one of the following:

If you have any questions, comments, or requests, feel free to send us an email here. All of our podcasts and other information related to Veterans, blindness, acceptance of a disability, and other resources may be found at BlindNotAlone.com

Don’t miss another Blind Vet Tech teleconference, click here to see a list of our teleconferences and others we support.

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Amazon Echo: Setting Up The Alexa iOS App

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In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorials podcast, we preform step 1 of 2 in setting up an Amazon Echo product, installing the Amazon Alexa app. The next episode will feature step 2, setting up and paring an Amazon Echo Dot. The Alexa app is the center of managing any Amazon Echo product, since the app allows you to control your profile, enable new Alexa Skills, and connect new smart home devices to other products. You can even link your contacts with the Alexa app to call up other Amazon Echo users. The Echo’s and Alexa’s simplicity makes adopting the platform as the center of your smart home world a breeze, no matter your technology proficiency. Check out our article on Paul’s experience with a smart home from the Heartlander newsletter, and bookmark our podcasts on Amazon Echo to learn how to utilize the Echo to its fullest capabilities.

In this episode we will:

Thank you for listening to this Blind Vet Tech tutorial on setting up the Amazon Alexa app.

Stay Informed

Stay up to date with the latest news and announcements from the Blind Vet Tech team, by doing one of the following:

If you have any questions, comments, or requests, feel free to send us an email here. All of our podcasts and other information related to Veterans, blindness, acceptance of a disability, and other resources may be found at BlindNotAlone.com

Don’t miss another Blind Vet Tech teleconference, click here to see a list of our teleconferences and others we support.

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Downloading Netflix Movies and TV Shows to your iOS Device

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In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorials podcast, we demonstrate how to download Netflix movies and TV shows to your iPhone and iPad. Netflix consumers have been wishing for this feature for a number of years, especially after Amazon Prime released a similar feature for its video selection at release. Completing this task is very simple for Voice Over users. Here is a list of steps you can use as a reference:

  • After opening up the Netflix app, double tap on the Browse button in the upper right corner of the screen.
  • Locate the My Downloads button to view any episode or Movie you downloaded.
  • Locate the Available for Download button to view content you can download.
  • When you find a video you wish to download, double tap on it, and swipe until you find the download button.

Please keep in mind that downloading movies and TV shows will require anywhere from 100MB of space to 3GB of storage. If you have limited space, keep track of what you download, as filling up your storage may result in your device slowing down. To delete videos, do the following:

  • Navigate to the My Downloads menu in Netflix
  • Click on the the Edit button in the upper right corner
  • Find a video you already watched and there is an unlabeled button immediately before the name of the episode or show name.
  • Double tap on this unlabeled button to delete the file.
  • Click done in the upper right corner when complete.

Thank you for listening to this Blind Vet Tech tutorial on downloading movies and TV shows from Netflix onto your iPhone or iPad.

Stay Informed

Stay up to date with the latest news and announcements from the Blind Vet Tech team, by doing one of the following:

If you have any questions, comments, or requests, feel free to send us an email here. All of our podcasts and other information related to Veterans, blindness, acceptance of a disability, and other resources may be found at BlindNotAlone.com

Don’t miss another Blind Vet Tech teleconference, click here to see a list of our teleconferences and others we support.

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Adding a Pause or Wait to a Phone Number in Contacts

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In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorials podcast, we demonstrate how to add a pause (aka comma) or wait (aka semicolon) to a phone number in Contacts. Any smart phone may preform a similar trick where a comma or semicolon means pause or wait while dialing a number from your contacts list.
Here is how to insert a pause or wait in iOS with Voice Over if you are using the onscreen keyboard.

  • Open a contact where you are dialing a number requiring an access code or numerical prompt system
  • Press the Edit button in the upper right corner of the screen
  • Double tap on the field where you insert the phone number
  • After typing in the phone number, determine if you need to insert a pause (aka comma) or a wait (semicolon)
  • Press the shift button, visually it contains a few symbols like plus and number sign,
  • Find the pause (aka comma) where the 4 button previously was located
  • Find the wait (aka semicolon) where the 6 button previously was located
  • Note: The pause will insert a brief pause into the dialing sequence so multiple commas may be required. The wait inserts a break in the dialing, so you will have to press a button in the in call options screen to continue entering the numerical sequence.

    Thank you for listening to this Blind Vet Tech tutorial on inserting and using the pause and wait options while placing a call.

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To Update or Not to Update

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Over the last two months, Microsoft and Apple both released their annual operation systems updates. This leaves one to ponder about the updating choice. While this decision is relatively a simple one for our sighted family and friends, the blindness community must ask the following questions:

  • Is it compatible with my adaptive software?
  • Will my device or system support the update?
  • Will any of the new features or changes require assistance to learn?

This review will offer guidance based on these questions related to the Windows 10 Anniversary, iOS 10, and MacOS Sierra updates. Before venturing any further, keep in mind the choice is not an easy one to make even with the answers to these questions. I strongly encourage each of you to review the information here, ask questions during any of the Hines Blind Center Alumni and Blind Vet Tech teleconferences, and with the manufactures or developers of your selected platforms.

Windows 10 Anniversary

A year after releasing Windows 10, Microsoft released the Windows 10 Anniversary edition. The update packs new and tremendously powerful improvements into the release like a smarter Cortana, dark mode for those who like high contrast, the ability to sign in with just your face, and an overhaul to Narrator. The Narrator update turned the built-in screen reader from a nearly useless accessibility option into a wonderful robust screen reader. Narrator took some lessons from Voice Over, JAWS, and Window Eyes and became equally as powerful as these other screen readers. Also, Narrator is fully accessible with Edge and other parts of Windows. One common complaint involves the Rearrangement of the Start Menu. You will notice the Shut Off, Restart, and Log Off options are concealed in a dropdown menu.

Windows 10 Anniversary will work with those version of JAWS, nVDA, Zoom Text, and other adaptive software updated to work with Windows 10. If updating from Windows 8 or older, you will need to verify if your software version supports Windows 10. If you are a Narrator user, no worries, since you just received a functional screen reader. Microsoft stated the rollout of Windows 10 Anniversary will occur in phases, with newest computers receiving first dibs. If you wish to jump the line or verify if the update installed, look for “Feature Update to Windows 10, Version 1607” in software updates.

Overall, Windows 10 Anniversary will only slightly alter your computing experience. The This stems from the redesigned Start Menu and Narrator. The Start Menu’s main irksome change involves shutting down, restarting, or logging off your computer. Microsoft placed these items in menu with several other system controls. The Microsoft Accessibility Team will be more than happy to provide assistance in this matter. The second part requiring training is if you wish to rely on Narrator. While JAWS, NVDA, and Narrator possess many similarities, certain navigational methods differ enough between them that a 1 for 1 translation is not possible.

To update, navigate to Settings > Updates & Security > Windows Update and look for Feature update to Windows 10, version 1607. If you have any questions about Windows 10 and accessibility, contact the Microsoft Accessibility Team at:

iOS 10

Apple released iOS 10 alongside the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The latest update requires 1.1gb to download, but brings with it a bunch of nice features and updates. Voice Over users will enjoy a couple of new voices, a new in-app Voice Over Rotor option, a quicker way to rearrange apps on your home screen, and an enhancement to Photos where background and objects are identified. Low Vision users will continue to enjoy Zoom and the new white point balance feature and a new option in Accessibility that turns your iOS device into a digital Magnifier by triple pressing the home button. All iOS users will enjoy the updated lock screen and notifications views, the ability for third party apps to integrate with Siri and Messages, and the ability to remove those stock apps freeing. This is only the tip of the iceberg of the updates, but are probably the ones most of you will quickly wish to test out.

Like all Apple products, building accessibility into the operating system removes most of the questions one possesses regarding updating, as Voice Over, Zoom, and the other accessibility options work flawlessly with iOS 10. However, that does not mean some bugs do not slip through the cracks. Most notably includes an issue where Voice Over and Zoom may cease to operate properly under certain circumstances when both are activated and some continued bugginess with Braille Screen Input. Outside of these, Apple removed many of the legacy bugs making updating fun.

If you are wondering if your iPhone or iPad will be able to support iOS 10, here is the official list of supported devices:

  • iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7Plus
  • iPad Pro 12.9”, iPad Pro 9.7”, iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad 4th generation, iPad mini 4, iPad mini 3, and iPad mini 2
  • iPod Touch 6th Generation

Some additional words of caution come from those of you with the lower tier of storage (8 to 16gb) or whose devices are nearly maxed out. You may find your device running a bit slower when compared to iOS 9.3.6.

To update, navigate to Settings > General > Software Updates and look for the iOS 10 download and install button while connected to wifi and connected to power. If you have any questions about Apple Accessibility, contact Apple Accessibility Support at:

MacOS Siera

Apple changed more than the software behind its computers, but ditched Mac OS X to MacOS Sierra. Technically Sierra is OS 10.12 when you look in About This Mac, but don’t tell the presses. The Sierra update brought several very nice updates to Voice Over and Accessibility, how some of the core apps work, and finally introduced Siri.

Like all Apple products, building accessibility into the operating system removes most of the questions one possesses regarding updating, as Voice Over, Zoom, and the other accessibility options work flawlessly with Sierra. However, that does not mean some bugs do not slip through the cracks.

If you are wondering if your Mac supports Sierra, here is the official list of supported devices:

  • MacBook Pros 2010 or newer, MacBook 2009 or newer, and MacBook Air 2010 or newer
  • Mac Mini 2010 or newer
  • Mac Pro 2010 or newer
  • iMac 2009 or newer

however, I issue a word of caution that Macs with just 2GB of RAM or who have nearly full hard drives may experience a rather sluggish Mac, especially with Voice Over. This problem increases if using File Vault to encrypt your hard drive.

One possible catch with Sierra involves whether you might need some extra assistance to use Voice Over or Zoom with Sierra. How you answer this question depends on your current skill level and if you wish to use Siri. If you are a beginner Mac user, you might want to hold off updating until some sighted assistance is around. This recommendation stems not from any changes in the update, but rather your comfort level completing the updating process. Another group of individuals who might wish to hold off are those who are not comfortable with playing around in System Preferences. After each update, it’s worth the time to go through all of the System Preferences to see what changed. For Example, Siri maybe available in the Dock, but changing the keyboard shortcut requires a quick dive into System Preferences. Minus these items, the update will not require any additional Voice Over or Zoom skills to continue using your Mac.

To update, navigate to App Store > Updates and look for the MacOS Sierra update or select update all. If you have any questions about Apple Accessibility, contact Apple Accessibility Support at:

Arranging Apps with Voice Over on iOS

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In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorials podcast, we describe how to arrange apps on your iPhone and iPad with Voice Over. Two methods exist as of iOS 10. The first involves preforming a one finger double tap and hold to activate app movement. The second is to swipe up or down until you hear an option for arranging apps. Deleting an app requires you to start moving or arranging apps, but then you just double tap or select activate to delete the app.

We hope you enjoy this tutorial about arranging apps on your iPhone or iPad with Voice Over.

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Basic Voice Over Gestures

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In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorials podcast, we describe how to activate a Voice Over mode allowing you to practice basic gestures. Secondly, we review the basic one, two, three, and four finger Voice Over gestures. If you are new to Voice Over, this is a great podcast to keep on hand to learn how to interact with your iPhone or iPad. To follow along you will need to have Voice Over enabled. Here are some of the key concepts from the podcast:

Activating the Voice Over Practice Mode

  • Preform a four finger double tap to activate and deactivate the practice mode
  • Navigate to your Voice Over settings and select Voice Over practice
  • With a bluetooth keyboard, press Control Option, and K

One Finger Gestures

  • One finger touching the screen allow you to explore the screen
  • One finger double tap activates a button or control
  • One finger triple tap double taps on a control
  • One finger left or right advances the Voice Over cursor to the left or right
  • One finger swipe up or down changes to the next item based on rotor setting

Two Finger Gestures

  • Two finger single tap pauses or resumes Voice Over’s speech
  • Two finger double taps stops/plays media, answers or hangs up a phone call, and similar starting or pausing options
  • two finger swipe down causes Voice Over to continuously read from its current place to the end of the document
  • Two finger swipe up causes Voice Over to read everything on the page starting from the very top to bottom
  • Two finger scrubbing motion acts as a cancel or escape key
  • Placing one finger on the screen over a button or control and touching the screen anywhere else preforms a split tap, which is the same as a one finger double tap
  • Two fingers turning a dial changes the rotor setting

Three Finger Gestures

  • Three finger single tap announces Voice Over’s current page or row
  • Three finger double tap mutes or unmutes Voice Over
  • Three finger triple tap turns on screen curtain, which basically turns the screen dark so no one can see the screen
  • Three finger quadruple tap copies the text of the last statement from Voice Over
  • Three finger swipe left or right advances to the next page, like in a book
  • Three finger swipe up or down advances up or down a page or list
  • Three finger swipe down with Voice Over’s focus in the menu bar pulls down the Notification menu
  • Three finger swipe up with Voice Over’s focus on the menu bars brings up the Control Panel
  • Four Finger Gestures

    • Four finger double tap activates and deactivates the Voice Over practice mode
    • Four finger single tap towards the top of the screen moves the Voice Over focus to the top most element on a page
    • Four finger single tap towards the bottom of the screen moves the Voice Over focus to the bottom most element of a page

    We hope you enjoy this tutorial describing the basic gestures you can perform with Voice Over.

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    Manually Opening Voice Over and Accessibility Settings in iOS

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    In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorials podcast, we demonstrate how to open the Voice Over and Accessibility Settings on your iPhone and iPad by navigating through the Settings app and menus. This method is very useful for individuals who cannot use Siri or wish to learn about the structure of the Settings app on their iPhone and iPad. This task requires one to preform the following actions:

    • Navigate to the Settings app on your home screen and open it.
    • Navigate to the General option located on the main page of the Settings menu.
    • Navigate to the Accessibility option in the General Menu.
    • Navigate to the Voice Over or other Accessibility menu option or toggle on the page.

    We hope you enjoy this tutorial on opening Voice Over and Accessibility settings manually.

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    Your iPhone as a Step Counter

    Are you a step counter? Do you reach 10,000 steps each day? Are you looking for a way to gain insight on your physical activity?

    Your iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6+, iPhone 6S, and iPhone 6S+ is one of your best tools to monitor your fitness? Since iOS 8 and the iPhone 5S, Apple included a sensor that talks with the Health app automatically about the number of steps you have taken, distance traveled, and even stairs climbed? This occurs securely, with the data only stored on the iPhone itself thanks to the chip inside the iPhone collecting and monitoring this information. This capability renders third party apps for step counting rather useless. Follow the steps below to set up your device to use these built in functions.

    First, open up the Health app. You can do this by asking Siri to “open Health.” Similarly, Typing in Health in Spotlight will allow you to find where you might have hidden this app.

    The first screen you interact with is the Dashboard. Swipe through this to learn what already exists here. Often times, Steps is already listed at the top of the screen, and all you need to do is check back here. If you cannot find Steps here, the next steps will help you place it on your Dashboard.

    On the bottom of the screen, there are several tabs, Dashboard, Health Data, Sources, and Medical ID. For purposes of this guide, just tab on Health Data. A link appears at the bottom of this post to learn about Medical ID.

    This screen lists all of the categories of health related items you can input or track on your iPhone. Please note that the iPhone is only able to monitor your steps and distances traveled. The rest of the items requires you to input the data manually or connect the iPhone to a third party app and device that is capable of gathering the metrics. For example, your weight would require a scale. Tapping on All on this list will show you the full capabilities of Health. Tapping on Fitness will be the fastest way to find the Steps, though. Which ever one you select, find and tap on Steps.

    In the Steps screen, the majority of the upper half of the screen depicts historical data. Just swipe through this screen until you find the on/off toggle for, Show on Dashboard. Alternatively, place your finger roughly in the middle of the screen, and move it downwards, and you might be able to find it quicker.

    If the on/off toggle is off, then the information will not be on your Dashboard. Tapping here will either add it to the Dashboard or remove it.

    Now go back to the Dashboard by tapping on the Dashboard tab located in the bottom left corner of the screen. Steps should now be displayed on the Dashboard. The first part of this section tells you the number of steps you traveled today, along with an average. Below this is the number of steps you preformed over the last several days. Today’s steps will appear as no data,

    I have found this feature to be as accurate as the third party devices one might wear to track this information. The only difference is that you have to carry the iPhone with you. Pairing an Apple Watch with your iPhone will increase the accuracy rate, but this is not a necessity, especially if your aims involves charting trends.

    Examining two other fitness measures, flights climbed and distance traveled can also be compiled by your iPhone. Distances traveled is very accurate, since this data comes from cellular towers and GPS data. Differently, Flights climbed is very inaccurate, as I have tested this on numerous staircases ranging from single flights in a house to multiple story buildings with an iPhone 6 and an Apple Watch.

    If you are wondering what Medical ID means, click here for a prior post about it.

    Celebrating 25 Years of the Americans With Disabilities Act With Apple

    On July 26th the Americans with Disabilities Act will celebrate 25 years of reducing discriminatory barriers faced by us with disabilities. Joining in the celebration, Apple has released a special section on the iTunes App store, listing the top apps employed by individuals with various disabilities, like visual, hearing, mobility, and cognitive impairments. To access this list of apps on your iPhone or iPad, follow these steps:

    • Open up the App Store on your iOS device, or ask Siri to “Open the App Store.”
    • Make sure you are in the Featured tab, by selecting the Featured tab located at the bottom left corner of the screen.
    • Starting at the top left of the iOS device, swipe to the right until you here Accessibility: Celebrating 25 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    For a faster way to do this, click here.

    To learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act, here is a great podcast series from iTunes.

    Netflix Audio Description Movies and Voice Over Guide

    This guide has been updated to reflect the current method to enable Audio Description on Netflix for iOS.
    Netflix over the last year made tremendous strides with including Audio Description for movies and TV shows. For those unaware of described videos or audio description, this is an audio track that is played within a movie where a narrator describes what is happening on the screen. Both total blinded and fully sighted individuals have benefited from this type of programming, especially with so many graphics and items in movies.

    This link will take you to the list of movies and TV shows with audio description.

    Voice Over Guide

    To focus on how to start listening to the audio description track on an iPhone/iPad, here is a basic list of steps. This guide assumes that Voice Over is enabled on your iPhone or iPad and you already subscribe to Netflix’s online streaming service.

    • Open the Netflix app on your iPhone or iPad either by navigating to its location on your device or by asking Siri to open Netflix
    • Find one of the movies or TV shows listed in this link
    • To search, tap on the “unlabeled” button on the top left corner of the screen, Voice over simply says, “button” when you are on it
    • Tap on the Search Button that is near the top right corner of the screen
    • In the search text box, type or dictate the name of the movie or TV show you wish to watch
    • You may have to explore by touch after you select your desired content to ensure that the screen now depicts your desired content
    • Find the play button, usually located in the upper left corner of the screen, though you may have to swipe to find it
    • During movie playback, double tap on the screen to bring up the playback controls
    • Find and select the Audio and Subtitles Options button in the upper right corner of the screen
    • Two headings exist on this page, Audio and Subtitles, so the quickest method is to use heading navigation to flick down to Subtitles and swipe backwards (left) as audio description is the last one on the audio list.
    • Swipe through the list until you hear English, Audio Description, and select that option
    • Find the Close button in the upper right corner, and select it to return to your video

    This should start the audio Description track to begin playing on your Netflix movie. Additionally, I have noticed that after doing this a couple of times, Netflix, by default, started playing the English, Audio Description, track by default.

    How My Heart Counts and Apple ResearchKit Only Targets Those with the Means to Count

    During the last Apple Event, Tim Cook proudly unveiled ResearchKit, an iOS interface bringing researchers to our iPhones. This line of tools and apps enables researchers to publish apps for the purpose of collecting data from iPhone and iPad users from around the world. In theory, this sounds fantastic, especially for large scale studies that normally requires tremendous amounts of administrative and financial support just to initiate a project. ResearchKit eliminates these expenditures through empowering individual iOS users to sign up and participate in research as a participant at their leisure. All the research team needs to do is obtain approval from the institutions human subjects committees or Institutional Review Boards (IRB).

    So where’s the previously mentioned flaw?

    When a study requires cross sectional data, or data from various demographics, anything that limits participation skews the final results. When examining a study that requires an iPhone 5S or newer, or an iPhone with an activity monitor, plus ones ability to measure other vital signs, collect biometrical data, or obtain lab results, the study criteria immediately eliminates those with barriers to these medical resources, like those of lower SES.

    To validate my claim that the iOS ResearchKit will produce skewed results based on SES, look no further than the My Heart Counts by Stanford. This research study hopes to collect information about heart health from around the world. Data is collected over a 7 day period. This is broken down into daily events, like a daily questionnaire gathering activity information and sleep duration; twice over a week, personal perceptions about their health; and once over the week, like a walk test and lab results. Each of these items derive from known indicators for heart health, and are not surprising.

    However, what if you are unable to afford a new iPhone 6 and keep it on you all day for step counting? What if you are unable to collect your blood pressure due to lack of access to a cuff or knowledge on how to even do this? What if you cannot make it to a doctor’s office and request your cholesterol levels and resting blood glucose levels? What if you are an older adult with heart disease, but do not use a smart phone? What if you are a budget Android user?

    Well, your data stands a great chance of being discarded due to incomplete results or simply excluded due to access. Those familiar with public health advocacy or healthcare disparities would not be surprised by this statement, since it highlights the core principals on why healthcare disparities exist in the first place.

    Within the medical and research community, the term, social determinants of health, groups together the five factors that accurately summarizes why health disparities exist. The Center for Disease control identifies social and socio environments, physical environment, genetic predisposition, behaviors, and healthcare access, as their determinants of health.

    For example, an University of California in Davis study found that lower SES populations possess a roughly 50% chance of developing heart disease. This same population also would struggle to afford a shiny new iPhone 5S or iPhone 6, the necessary resources to obtain the required vital and lab results, and other aspects of the My Heart Counts study. This is without even bringing up the Stanford’s aims to conduct this study globally, where many populations definitely cannot afford these devices or ability to upload their data on a daily routine for 7 days.

    This leaves me to question the overall beliefs behind the research studies being conducted with the Apple’s ResearchKit. If studies are designed to understand prevalence rates or healthy living trends through luxury consumer electronics that omit those most likely to experience the greatest health disparities, what does ResearchKit actually provide researchers? Will results actually advance the knowledge base for medicine?

    On one hand, I applaud Apple for considering the implications and designing ResearchKit, since it can serve to help the research community obtain hard to gather cross sectional data and even Longitudinal data from a large sample population at a cheap price. On the other hand, validity remains questionable if we, as researchers and consumers of studies, need to know more about populations with the greatest health disparities.

    #Apple Keynote from a #blind #Blogger Perspective

    This post breaks away from my normal post as it will focus on the Apple Keynote today. While I am a Apple fanboy, today’s address awed me for reasons greater than shiny new Apple products. Rather it showcased how technologies will continue to evolve into every aspect of our lives and connect each of us together. Here is a quick recap, before this post hones in on just two of these:

    • Price reduction of the AppleTV to $69
    • The Apple Watch
    • A 12 inch Macbook with a full keyboard
    • Apple Research Kit

    The remainder of this post will focus on why the Apple Watch and Research Kit inspired me.

    For years now, tech bloggers and rumor mills discussed the iWatch. At first no one had a clue, but slowly we learned about its many features that basically makes it an extension of the iPhone. As with all introductions to new devices and technologies, nothing is dropped on us like a bond, but rather eased into our lives. Related to the Apple Watch, this occurred through the introduction of the Health kit and the health and fitness sensors on the iPhone 5S, and handoff or continuity between iOS 8 and OS 10.10. Based on this, nothing jumps out as brand new, rather one receives a polite message that indicates we now have a new method to consume media and become healthier.

    However, this is not why I will elect to purchase an Apple Watch. Many of the features indicated in the Keynote I am able to perform through a bluetooth headset, or simply spending the 10 seconds taking out my iPhone. Rather, the Apple Watch represents the next stage in the evolution of wearables retaining to the Internet of Things and fitness. Based on many of the reviews and rumors about the future of the Apple Watch, this device stands to control your home or car, indicate an incoming Uber ride, or receive alerts from BlindSquare. Related to my health and fitness goals, the Apple Watch promotes activity. For example, running 3 miles in the morning and remaining stationary for the rest of the day at work, school, and/or home means you live a sedentary lifestyle. A truly active and healthy lifestyle means you aim for 10,000 steps per day, that are spread out throughout the entire day. Running an extremely long distance just means you can run, but fitness is slightly different. I am looking forwards to the activity reminder, heart rate monitor, and Dick Tracy style phone.

    What blind tech geek would not love these features, and this is only the start.

    Looking at Research Kit, the panel of scientists, doctors, and researchers sold me with their pitch. Just stepping into this wide world of health and medical research during this first year pursuing a PhD, collecting data remains difficult at best for even the simplest objectives. Now this will change with Research Kit enabling those from the research community to your doctors to receive your input to further the world’s understanding of health and medical conditions. Organizations like Mayo already started to look at connecting ones electronic medical record to your iPhone to collect data on your vitals and fitness statistics thanks to Health, so why not take this a step further and allow people to volunteer for studies through similar processes. This is not all that new for a private technology firm to take this stance. Google purchased 23&Me to advance the human genome project. Apple just desires connect people with researchers. This has the potential to increase participation rates, lower research overhead tied to recruiting participants, and truly address global health disparities.

    Bad Start to the School Semester

    These last two weeks stretched my patience to the limits. The cause stems from hassles with accessible digital learning mediums employed with my classes at the University of Kansas. The main culprit once again is Blackboard.

    The landscape for this semester includes two online courses and two classroom based seminars. All of them heavily rely on Blackboard to exchange information. In addition, one class connects via Adobe Connect. All of these methods for conveying information over a digital interface meets basic accessibility standards, as tested through Freedom Scientific’s JAWS. Well, that leaves me in a slight pinch, as I rely on Mac OS 10.10 with Voice over and Safari or the iOS variants through Voice Over.

    My previous blog post, “Why Education is Important yet Difficult for a Disabled Individual,” summarized the initial barriers and stressors one faces upon entering the halls of academia. Within this post, I critiqued the User Interface for the Blackboard site, based on personal experiences as a Mac user. Since this post, Mac released OS 10.10 Yosemite and iOS 8. In both of these updates, accessing Blackboard took a step backwards. On one hand, one can point the finger at Apple for the changes, on the other hand, Blackboard has done nothing to update their products, which leaves folks like me stuck in the middle.

    Diving into accessibility barriers thus far faced this semester, here is a quick list:

    Based on this summary, the barriers for me to engage with digital interfaces through my equipment definitely fails to live up to accessibility standards outlined in Section 508, W3C, IAAP, and other widely accepted standards and regulations. I am not saying this with the mindset that I cannot implement workarounds, rather, that more must be done by these companies to push accessibility for all systems. For example, I installed VM Fusion ignored to run Windows 8.1 and NVDA, Window Eyes, and System Access Mobile Network (SAMNet). Each of these offers a slightly different experience to approach Blackboard and other online learning mediums. Secondly, I have informed my instructors and professors about the difficulties I have faced, and agreed to appropriate accommodations. Next, I have sent a clear and concise message to Blackboard and Adobe on the above issues. Finally, I have attempted to reach across my network and online communities to obtain feedback from others.

    More Than the Young Able Bodied Uses Technology

    While watching and reading many of the reviews for the Apple Watch, it seems the technology talking heads overlook a rapidly growing consumer base. The market includes older adults, care for those with chronic conditions, living independent at home with caregivers, and other geriatric and disability related conditions.

    The United Nations’ estimates that those 65 years or older will triple over the next 50 years. Actually, this already happened over the previous 50 years. Population estimates in the US illustrates similar trends. Those 65 or older will constitute 13% to 17% of the overall US population of the coming decades. In fact, its believed that we will see more aunts over 65 than children under 15.

    In this Youtube video, the leery emotions related to sharing heartbeats through haptic feedback features illustrates a shortsightedness common amongst his demographic. An individual with a cardiovascular condition will convey excitement over the chance to send their heartbeats to their family, caregiver, emergency services, or primary care facility in the case of an emergency. Right now, home monitoring systems enables this to occur, but what if the person leaves their house to head to the store or on vacation? This is why sending a simple heartbeat remotely should be met with applause and not concerns.

    Recently, research started to evaluate how technology might improve quality of life measures for the aging population. In this study, simply providing a tablet with some games, journaling, and emailing features increase the happiness for those in an extended care facility. Studies like this spawned devices like the Angela, which are intuitive off the shelf touch screen devices that connects a senior with their family through social media, primary care managers, each other, and even with medication tracking. This focus is not new. remember those studies involving the Nintendo Wii? Findings like this one showed a dramatic increase in health and wellbeing.

    So what needs to happen next?

    In my opinion, each of us who hammers away at blogs or post review videos must remember other people exist who are not like us. As announced during the G3iCT M-Enabling Summit, 85% of the world’s mobile device user base benefits from an accessibility feature. For the end-users, let your desires for these products be known to their developers. Finally, I implore developers to make accessibility a part of the foundation for all product development. Just as Apple proved with their accessibility initiatives for iOS and OS X, its both possible and profitable.