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iA Cast

#iACast 65: Blindness VS Mainstream Devices

In this episode of the iA Cast, Michael, Aleeha, Matt, and Jason discuss what accessibility or mainstream devices are right for different situations.

We also discuss what each person on the panel uses to complete certain day to day tasks whether it is mainstream or an accessibility related device.

This episode contains a tribute to an amazing tech enthusiast who left us in November. Jason Earls plays keyboard and created a tribute to Rich called the iPhone Man which is a parody of the song Piano Man. Please listen to the end as we pay tribute to such an amazing person.

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iA Cast

iA UnboxCast 10: Amazon Element 50 inch TV

On this episode of the iA UnboxCast Michael, along with Aleeha, and Jason unbox the 50 inch Amazon Element 50 inch TV with Fire TV built in. This is an accessible TV with FireOS built in.

All‑New Element 50‑Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV ‑ Fire TV Edition$549.99Amazon.comFree shipping

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#iOS11 is not as social as iOS 10

Background

In the past, iOS contained built in social media sharing features which included Twitter and Facebook. These features made it easy for apps to connect to social platforms in order to share content with features built right in to iOS. In iOS 11, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, these features have been removed. As a result, users will now be responsible for installing and using social network apps from the App Store that have share extensions and account management.

While, on the surface, this seems like a big deal, it really has been coming for some time. For a while now, Facebook has been authenticating 3rd party app logins through their own app or from their mobile webpage, instead of using the iOS login prompts.. You can even sync your contacts through the Facebook app, which used to be managed in iOS settings

So What Does This Mean for Apps?

At the time of this writing, a lot of Twitter applications use the built-in Twitter APIs in iOS. As a result, they will need to be updated so that they do not give an error that there are no Twitter accounts set up in the settings app.

Conclusion

While I think that this update to the handling of social sharing will not change much in the way of everyday consumers using their iOS devices, I think it was a great thing to be able to manage all  social account logins from one place in the Settings app. Android has this, and a user can even add accounts  that were not included with the OS. I doubt they would do this, but I really hope that the engineers at Apple have something in mind to replace the previous social framework, and will surprise us in a future version of iOS.

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iA Cast iA UnboxCast

#iACast UnboxCast 9: 4th Generation Apple TV

On this episode of the UnboxCast, Aleeha and Michael unbox the ever popular Apple TV 4th generation from Apple. Aleeha goes through initial setup of the device, as well as its settings. We also demonstrate downloading and setting up an app from the App Store.

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iA Cast iA Cast Weekly

#iACast 46 – Lets Go Face The Music

On this episode of the iA Cast, Aleeha talks with Jason Earls, T. J. Meloy, Matt Dierckens, and Aaron Linson about their backgrounds in music and what software they use to create and produce music.

Mentioned Music Software

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#CSUNATC17 – The Accessible Copier from Canon

Each year, the California State University of Northridge (CSUN) holds their assistive technology conference. This year the conference was in San Diego California, and was held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

One of the biggest things that people go to this conference for is the exhibit hall, and iAccessibility was there and we continue to bring you articles based on several product seen at the exhibit hall.

One exhibitor that was in attendance this year was Canon, with cameras and copiers that provided accessibility features, which include speech and voice activation.

How do Canon Accessible copiers work?

The new copiers that are accessible look very similar to traditional copiers of today. They have touch screens and buttons for dialing a fax, but there is a new speaker to allow for speech output, and a new button for voice activation. The touch screen will allow for the user to use the machine with speech access, and you can also hold the voice command button to speak to the copier.

Text To Speech functionality

The Canon copiers have text to speech capabilities so it will speak when you make selections on the touch screen or enter commands on the keypad.

Voice Activation

The new canon copiers also have a voice activation feature for those who prefer to use their voice to complete actions, or for those with disabilities that prevent the use of touch screens and key pads. The folks at Canon demonstrated where you could say, “Make 2 copies,” or make, “Scan document,” to complete basic copier tasks.

Conclusion

There has been a need for accessible copier technology in office environments for as long as we have had copiers. I am very happy to see Canon go as far as they have to make copiers more accessible, and I hope they continue to work on this goal of accessible copier technology. I also hope this gets other copier manufacturers into the accessible copier space.

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Accessible Gaming: Mac Vs Windows

Gaming has been a huge portion of technology since the 1980s, and there has really not been a focus on if low vision gamers could play video games or read text. Now, with built in magnification between operating systems low vision users can finally customize their systems so that text can be read and games can be played, but what OS provides the best experience for gamers who use magnification.

Windows Magnification

Windows Magnifier has greatly improved over the last few versions of Windows and keeps getting better in Windows 10. You can now magnify in full screen on the Windows Desktop, and in some graphical applications. This will also work while in games, but it will not work in many games that run in full screen. If Magnifier is open and zoomed in while games are open then many games will not function properly.

MacOS Magnification

Zoom on the Mac has been on the Mac for around 10 years and has not had the need to change in that time. Zoom has been the first Desktop magnification solution to allow for full screen and lens style magnification, and it works well in desktop applications and in graphical apps. The really impressive feature of Zoom is that it will work within games that run on the same resolution as the Mac with very minimal effects to performance.

Conclusion

While I prefer the gaming experience that is provided on the Mac, there are still more games available on Windows than there are on the Mac, so the choice of which OS to use as a primary gaming platform will still have to be Windows for the choice of games. The good aspect that Steam provides is that you can buy games from Steam and get the game for both Windows and MacOS.

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Could VoiceOver Users Catch Them All in Pokemon Go?

Pokemon Go is the newest craze on both iOS and Android bringing in millions of players to Nintendo’s classic franchise, but could this market be bigger with blind users, and could the game be made accessible for VoiceOver users to play? Surprisingly, the answer is yes to both questions. Here is how.

How Pokemon Go works.

Pokemon Go is a game that utilizes Google Maps and augmented reality to allow for players to catch Pokemon by moving around in the real world. The game overlays a virtual world on top of the map where you stop at Pokestops and find Pokemon that pop up when you get near them. Once you find a Pokemon you tap it and throw a small ball called a Pokeball at it to catch it. Once you level up you can join a team and fight and train in gyms to level up or take the gym for your team.

Could Pokemon Go catch accessibility?

With how this game has been created, accessibility is less of a challenge and more of a time investment. There are already apps like Blindsquare that could be utilized for the maps portion of this game, and 3D audio would allow for the person to move the device where the Pokemon was lined up to throw the poke all at it. You can even turn off augmented reality and it lines up the Pokemon in the center of the screen for you. Much of the game from item to stats is already in text form, so VoiceOver would not have a hard time reading that if coded correctly. Gym battles would be easy to do if the person was told where to tap to attack the enemy Pokemon, and VoiceOver read the battle stats as the battle progressed.

Conclusion

While Pokemon Go is a graphics intensive game, it is entirely possible for it to be adapted to work with VoiceOver on iOS, which is quite a feat compared to most games. I doubt that the creators want to spend the time to work on this, but I think it would be totally awesome to play with some of my totally blind friends.

Go #TeamValor!

Pokemon Go on the App Store

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Does Texture live up to all of the hype?

Texture is a new app to allow users the ability to read magazine articles from any magazine with only one subscription, which seems like a great deal. So, as we always do, we ask the question, Can you use that app for that?

How this app works

Texture essentially takes printed magazines and puts them into a format where a person can read articles from different magazines for a single subscription price. The app lets you sign up through Facebook and lets you try the service for 7 days for free.

Is Texture accessible?

When I tried to sign up for Texture, I was able to find all buttons and text fields with VoiceOver and had no problems. A few buttons were poorly labeled, but it was possible. I was even able to pick which magazines I liked at the time of sign up. Once I signed up and in was when the problems began.

The getting started screen presented a picture where there appeared to be links and buttons embedded in places that VoiceOver could not detect. Many other buttons on this screen were not accessible or had incomprehensible labels as well.

Once I made it to the main screen I could find and select a magazine to view. Once I opened a magazine I found out the truth of this app. Each magazine is scanned, and therefore will not read with VoiceOver. If you are low vision, then you can pinch to zoom each page, which works ok, but VoiceOver users should not waste money on an app that does not provide accessible content.

Conclusion

While it is cool that Texture offers the ability for users to read and subscribe to multiple magazines under one subscription price, it does not allow for VoiceOver users to enjoy content from this service. While low vision users will find the service accessible with Zoom and pinch to zoom, VoiceOver users will have no reason to even sign up for this app.