July 2020 Update

Another excellent month has flown by. As we stay at home and stay safe from this pandemic, we are staying busy. One very exciting news update is that Apple just did their yearly WWDC 2020 announcement on the next major updates on their products. This update will be released this fall when the new iPhones come out. But with IOS 14 coming out, there are many new updates. Here are the highlights Here.  If you want to listen to the full keynote, Click here.

As the weather is getting warmer, I have been spending much of my time outside on the back deck enjoying the sun. I am still getting used to my new pellet smoker, but I am starting to get a hang of it. Anyway, I hope everyone has had a great month! Here are a few tips and resources for you guys. Feel free to leave a comment in the Contact Us page. Enjoy the weather guys!

Tip of the Month

Sometimes as a Blind person, I have to think outside the box. We are taught what is proper and what is not. For example, we should use a fork and knife to eat. But if you are unable, what do you do? Some individuals think that the ONLY way to eat is with a fork and knife. There are NO alternatives. If you are unable to do that, then life is hopeless. But wait! You CAN! You just have to try other methods to get the job done. Here is a favorite tip of mine. As a blind person, how do you put toothpaste on a toothbrush? I have gone through an entire tube of toothpaste before I realized that I don’t have to do the “proper” method that I was taught when I was little. The solution? Just keep your own tube of toothpaste and don’t share it. When you are ready to brush your teeth, just squirt a little bit in your mouth and brush away. No mess and no fuss!

People think it is impossible to vacuum or sweep floors when one is blind.  It is possible! I would suggest you walk barefoot so you can feel the floor and see if you did a good job or not. Then, when you vacuum or sweep, think of a grid pattern. Break up your rooms into smaller squares or rectangles. It will take you several weeks to get a pattern down pat.  Once you figure it out, it will come more naturally. I would also suggest you to treat a vacuum cleaner or broom like an extension to your cane. When you run your vacuum along the wall or near a couch or table, you can feel it bump along things. Last, walk around your house barefoot first to feel around to see if anything small is left on the floor.  For example: strings, shirts, debris, and so on. Establish the good habit of not throwing clothing on the floor when it is dirty.  Put things where they belong, so you won’t trip over them in the process of vacuuming or sweeping!

New Resources

Tab Keywords in Firefox – Here is a useful tool to take advantage of managing your tabs in Mozilla Firefox. Using a screenreader it may be useful.

Introduction to Android – An audio file on how to use an Android 1 phone using Talkback and it’s accessibility features.

Definitive Windows 10 keyboard Shortcuts – A list of Keyboard shortcuts that a screenreader may be helpful.

Do Not Disturb on iPhone & iPad – A breakdown on how to use the Do Not Disturb feature found on Apple IOS devices.

Visual Description of Icons on Apple iPhone & iPad – A useful description of all the Icons used in Apple IOS devices. Useful for Low Vision or Blind users.

Blind Ability A Podcast with a Blindness Perspective – Good resources on every day Blindness tips and tricks.

Sight And Sound Impaired (SASI) – Deaf-Blind support for individuals based in St. Louis, Missouri.

Kustom Cane – turn a plain Orientation Mobility Cane to a custom look that you want.

Blind Alive – An audio workout program that Blind people can use and enjoy.

MacfortheBlind – Certified Trainer to help you with your accessible Apple products.

Donna Jodhan – Blind Blogger with many stories to share.

guidelights and gadgets – Accessible tech on guide dogs, teams, and travel.

Sprint IP-Relay – Free online TTY- like relay for those who are Deaf, hard-of- hearing, or Deaf-Blind.

basic Windows Keyboard Podcasts – A list of beginners to pro Podcasts on how to use Windows Keyboard shortcuts.

GoSee4All – iPhone & iPad app for Deaf and Deaf-Blind to tune into TV Programming & Emergency Alerts.

DeafBlind Interpreting – great resource to increase Deaf-Blind Interpretering.

Protactile Communications – pro-tactile (PT) Communications and Principles.

Previous Months

June 2020 Update

 

Think outside of the Box

Sometimes as a Blind person, I have to think outside the box. We are taught what is proper and what is not. For example, we should use a fork and knife to eat. But if you are unable, what do you do? Some individuals think that the ONLY way to eat is with a fork and knife. There are NO alternatives. If you are unable to do that, then life is hopeless. But wait! You CAN! You just have to try other methods to get the job done. Here is a favorite tip of mine. As a blind person, how do you put toothpaste on a toothbrush? I have gone through an entire tube of toothpaste before I realized that I don’t have to do the “proper” method that I was taught when I was little. The solution? Just keep your own tube of toothpaste and don’t share it. When you are ready to brush your teeth, just squirt a little bit in your mouth and brush away. No mess and no fuss!

People think it is impossible to vacuum or sweep floors when one is blind.  It is possible! I would suggest you walk barefoot so you can feel the floor and see if you did a good job or not. Then, when you vacuum or sweep, think of a grid pattern. Break up your rooms into smaller squares or rectangles. It will take you several weeks to get a pattern down pat.  Once you figure it out, it will come more naturally. I would also suggest you to treat a vacuum cleaner or broom like an extension to your cane. When you run your vacuum along the wall or near a couch or table, you can feel it bump along things. Last, walk around your house barefoot first to feel around to see if anything small is left on the floor.  For example: strings, shirts, debris, and so on. Establish the good habit of not throwing clothing on the floor when it is dirty.  Put things where they belong, so you won’t trip over them in the process of vacuuming or sweeping!

June 2020 Update

Since March 17th 2020, Illinois has been on lockdown and we are having to shelter in place due to COVID-19. Since then I thought I’d be bored out of my mind and just sit around and do nothing. Boy was I wrong. I was busier than ever! I have had a chance to work from home remotely and support my consumers. As an Adaptive Technology Trainer, I have had the opportunity to really try out teaching Blind people how to use their computers, iPhone and Android phones. It has been challenging, but rewarding! I mostly use Zoom Cloud Meetings to connect to my consumers using the computer. I have used Skype and Google Hangout too. It all depends on what the consumer wants to train on and feels right at home, or comfortable with.

One thing I have taught myself is how to use my new Smoker/grill. I was apprehensive at first playing around with such a hot machine, but I grew confident in using my new grill. I will start creating posts on what I have done with it and how a Blind person can use it. Other than that, I am enjoying the nicer weather!  Now, here are a few news or tips that you may enjoy for this month.

Tip of the month – Conference Calling

Here is a short tutorial on some of the Tips & tricks I use when I dial in a conference line. Please Click here to read on.

Meet Me In the Cloud

Since this shelter started, one thing a lot of people are using for social distancing is the popular Zoom Cloud meeting program. The best thing of all is that it is very accessible with a screen reader. I have been using this on a daily basis for work, remote training, and meeting together with friends, and family. I can use Zoom Cloud meeting on my Windows 10 computer, Macintosh computer, I-Phone, and Android phone. You can even call in via a phone line if you don’t wish to learn or use the Zoom app.

One really helpful thing is that a man named Jonathan Mosen has offered a very extensive and well prepared audiobook on how a Blind person using a screen reader can use Zoom Cloud meetings. Since this shelter in place started, Jonathan is now offering his audiobook for free to anyone. Click here to download it, or learn more!

Bookplayer for I-Phone

I have learned about a new app for my iPhone. It is called Bookplayer. It is a very well designed yet very simple app that can play mp3 or mp4 files. It is very reliable and I never lost my place throughout the book. My top favorite parts of this app is that after 10 minutes of not listening to it, when you play, it will rewind back 30 seconds so you can get a brief recap of what you are listening to. So far I find this more reliable than VLC. To top this off, it is free! Click here to check it out.

Supersense AI for both I-Phone and Android

There is another app that can help Blind people to identify things around them. There are some options that are free and some features that you will have to pay for at the end of the free trial week. The best feature is that this app can be on both  iPhone or Android. Click on the links to see the reviews.

Amazon Accessibility Hotline

I have always known about the Amazon Accessibility Hotline. But I decided to investigate it a bit more this month. I called the (888) 283-1678 number and asked a few questions. I was surprised at how much they can and will help you with shopping on Amazon. They can search any product except Amazon Fresh and describe it to you. Then they can add the product to your Wish List or Cart. However, their only limitation is they cannot process your Cart order. This is understandable so it gives you full control on what you are purchasing. However, if you have an Amazon Alexa device, or the app on your smartphone/tablet, you can just ask Alexa to Purchase Item in Cart. No computers skills required! This is very helpful for those who have limited technology skills or limited in their ability to shop online. Check out Amazon’s Accessibility page here for more details.

Resources

Top Tech Tidbits website where you can see a weekly Top tech News on Accessibility for the Blind. You can also subscribe to an email Newsletter. Weekly updates come on every Thursday.

Missouri DeafBlind Technical Assistance project Missouri’s website on various Deaf Blind resources are listed here.

Double tap Online Accessibility News and reviews on accessible technology for the Blind.

 

 

 

 

tips & tricks on Conference Calling

Many of us may want to call in a conference line, or do a video conference call. But for some, it can be a tedious method in dialing in the phone number and then you have to dial in the code. Here in this tutorial, we will show you an easier way to do that. If you have a Smartphone like an Apple iPhone, or an Android phone, you will be able to save your contacts with the code to call in a conference line. This makes dialing much easier. Read on to learn how.

Saving a Contact

Not a lot of people know this nifty trick, but this is the same for both iPhones and Android. If you add a comma after a phone number, there is a two second delay before the next number is dialed automatically. So, you can use your imagination in setting up your contact. You can have this setup to call in your work’s conference line for a staff meeting, or you can navigate your financial institution to check your bank balance. We are going to show you the steps to make a fictional conference number for you to save.

 

Step 1

Go to your phone’s contacts and tap on create New Contact.

 

Step 2

Go ahead and type in the Contact’s Name you want. For example, “Staff meeting Conference Line”

 

Step 3

Next let’s add a phone number. Below is what a fictional number will look like,

 

(555) 555-1234

 

 

Step 4

Now, here is the really cool part, once you type the full phone number for the conference line, you now can add the extra part where you will add the code for said line. You will first need to add a comma for that two second delay. So, below is the full number you will need to enter in which will look like this,

 

(555) 555-1234,123456#

 

Step 5

Notice I added the pound sign after that string of numbers. Most conference lines will need you to press the pound key to complete the code. Go ahead and save the contact.

 

Step 6

Test call. Now go ahead and see if you can do a test call. If it works, Woohoo!

 

Step 7

With some conference lines, you will need to press the pound key again once you say your name. So, for the above number, I will add about 4 to 5 extra commas and then add another pound key. This is how it will look:

 

(555) 555-1234,123456#,,,,,#

 

Step 8

You will may have to do a few test calls to see how many commas you will need. Sometimes it can be too long of a wait, or too short. Once you are satisfied with it, remember to save it and use it from now on. You also can share your contacts with others as a Contact Card so they can benefit from this great trick!

Conference Calling for Zoom Cloud Meetings

If you are going to call in for a Zoom Meeting, but do not want to use the Zoom application, you have the option to call in using your phone. When you get a Zoom meeting Invitation, you will received a Join website link, then below you will get a list of phone numbers you can choose from. Below that is the Zoom meeting ID, which is the code you use when you call in.

So, if you follow the above steps on how to add a conference line to your contacts, you can do the same with Zoom!  Here is an example number. If my Zoom ID is the code: 973-555-126, then  you can add in your contacts like this:

(312) 626-6799,973-555-126#,#

If you notice, the extra comma and pound sign is to start the call. At the end of putting in your code, Zoom will ask for your Participation ID. You don’t need to worry about it. Just press the pound key again. Once completed, save contact.

Saving Zoom Meeting Invite to your Home Screen on I-Phone & I-Pad

There is one more trick I just learned about. There are some who may find that opening an email or text message and tapping on a Zoom Invitation link may be too much for them. Even opening Zoom and typing in the Zoom meeting ID and password may be too much. It can be due to limited technology knowledge, or a limitation to accessibility. So, to make things easier for your friend, consumer, or family member, here is an easier method for them. The goal is to add an icon to the Home screen that they can just tap on and then tap on the Join button. That will take them directly to Zoom meeting without doing anything else. To do this, follow these steps.

 

Step 1

First, if you have Zoom on the iPhone or iPad, uninstall it. This way, we can save a website link to the Homepage. If the Zoom app is not uninstalled, when we try to tap on the link to save it, it will just take you directly to Zoom itself.

 

Step 2

Send to that device a Zoom Invitation either by text message or E-mail.

 

Step 3

Open the message that has the Zoom Invitation. Tap on the hyperlink.

 

Step 4

Safari will open and you will get an error that you cannot open Zoom due to Zoom is not on the device. This is ok, we are doing well. You will need to tap on the Share Icon to save this link.

 

Step 5

Once you tap on the Share Icon link, scroll to the bottom until you see Save to Home screen. Tap on that.

 

Step 6

A box will pop up. If needed, rename it to what you want it named. You want it to show up on your Home screen. Once completed, tap on save button.

 

Step 7

Repeat the above steps to add any other Zoom meetings you want saved.

 

Step 8

Go back to the App Store and redownload Zoom Cloud Meetings. Open Zoom and get it setup and approve anything that needs approving like camera, microphone etc. Make sure you tap on computer audio at the first-time you open it.

 

Step 9

Go to your Home screen and find the new Icon of the Zoom meeting Invite. Tap on that. You will be redirected to Safari, tap on the Open Zoom button. Congrats you made it!

 

Thank you for taking the time to read the above tutorial. If you have any suggestions to add or like to ask a questions, feel free to fill out our Contact Form.

Duck, Duck, GOOSE!

One of the biggest things I learned in how to be independent is to learn how to navigate public restrooms as a Blind person. I can tell you many horror stories, that will get you laughing so hard that you will never view public restrooms the same again. From my experiences, I will discuss tips and tricks I learned on how to make the experience much easier.

As the title says, I often have to go Duck, Duck, GOOSE! In a public restroom. Now…let me explain. As a Blind person navigating with a cane, I will go along one wall, and bump into or around various objects. This is how Blind people navigate. This is how I explore. Now, imagine a truck stop that is full of guys in there. Yes, I have to walk down the wall where all the guys are standing, and go “Duck, Duck,” then yell GOOSE!” Yes. I am taking my medication regularly. No, I did not get in a fight, no one will pick a fight with a good-looking Blind guy. Ladies and gentleman, you just have to always find humor in every and any situation. Needless to say, I really don’t enjoy going into public restrooms. But…playing “Duck, Duck, GOOSE!” Is one thing I do to pass the time.

Next stop…helpful tricks and tips…

How to Enter a Public Restroom

All restrooms are not built the same. That would be wishful thinking and an excellent idea!  After enough times exploring, you will get a sense of the same layout. My rule of thumb is when I enter a restroom I will always start on the wall where the door opens to. What this means, is if the door opens to the right until the door bangs into the opposite wall, I start following that wall. If I start at the other wall, that wall usually guide me to the trashcan and sinks. Usually, when you enter a restroom, you want to avoid the sinks until you are ready to leave. Unless that is where you are heading to first.

Guide me in, Guide me out

Everywhere you go, your cane lets everyone know that you have vision loss. There are nice people who are willing to help you. However, sometimes too much help is too much help. If a nice person helps me in the restroom, then leaves. I am lost. So, I usually try to walk into a public restroom by myself and walk out on my own. If I was taken in a restroom and dropped off, then it is easier for me to be lost. When it is time to come out, I could come out the incorrect entrance. I can’t tell you how many times I end up in the broom closet and thinking I was waiting for my wife outside of the restroom. Once I walked out and did not realize that I just walked out and went straight into the women’s restroom. Once the screaming started, I knew I was in trouble. Oooops. Sorry, ladies!

Check your Space

When you go into a stall and are about to do your business…Check your space. Yes, there are times I accidently went into a stall with someone who was too lazy to lock the door. Gets pretty award pretty quick. So, what I usually do is once I am in the stall, I will make some noises and swing my cane around in an arc. Sort like I am trying to hit everyone close to me. That has saved me many times so I don’t end up locking myself in the stall with someone.

What’s my worst experience? Well, this happened shortly after I lost my vision. I was in a group of friends, and I needed to go to the restroom, like really bad. So, a buddy dropped me off at the door and I ran in. I was really happy to find the stall right away! Bonus!  That stall was open! Yay! So, I went in there, slammed the door and locked it. I proceeded to drop my pants and started backing up the toilet. To my chagrin, I sat down on someone’s lap!  Yes. I still have nightmares about this. I jumped up so fast and tried to run out of the stall. But, I forgot about the door and slammed my head into it! After I fumbled the door opened and tried to run out, I found out my pants still need to be pulled up. Finally got them back up and stumbled to the next stall. Slammed that door closed. Well, slammed it too hard, it bounced back and banged into my head again! Needless to say, I cried. The other guy cried too. Scary…So, I   stayed in there long enough so this poor guy can make his exit. So, remember ladies and gentleman, always check your space!

Check your LTS!

What is LTS? Lock. Toilet paper, Seat. Yes. In that order.

  1. Once you are in the stall, always doublecheck and lock your stall door. There have been times I assumed that it was locked, and when I am finished, I walked out to a wide-open door. I just can’t imagine how many people walked in. Always check!
  2. Check your toilet paper roll before you drop the pants. Sighted people can just look and know. But you and I always have to check by hands. Make this a rule! I can’t tell you how many times someone would roll a toilet paper under the stall and I can’t find it. I think the record is like 4 toilet paper bundles before someone started aiming the toilet paper right at my feet.
  3. Yucky Yucky. Don’t you just hate sitting on someone’s pee? Yes, always check your seat. I usually check Toilet paper and then wipe the seat down. having a buddy come in with you to check is always a bonus. Generally, when the seat is up, it is usually cleaner.

Exit Strategy

Ok! You are done! Whew! Now, it is time to find the sink and wash your hands. You have two options.  Follow the wall you came in, or go the opposite way and bump around all the stalls and standup urinals. I generally prefer follow the wall I came in until I find the exit door. Then, I pass the door where you will find the sinks. Once you find the sinks, you will have to hunt around for the soap. I first look around the sink, then look to the side of me, then I look where the mirror is. Yes, I leave a lot of fingerprints.  Next, you need to locate towels or the blow dryer. Generally, they are near the sinks. Or near the door. Or it was on the wall you used to come and go. If you came in and found the towels or dryers, you will know when to come back to it. After that, you will find the exit door easily and you can be on your merry way!

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