Universally Accessible All-Purpose
Independent Living Appliances for the 21st Century???
Tom Dekker, VRT
BALANCE for Blind Adults
“One Step At A Time!”
(This material is adapted from a presentation originally given at the CNIB Perspectives 2011 conference held in Toronto, October 20-22, 2011.)
• Is the light on?
• Do these colours match?
• Is this the right package? And what are the preparation instructions?
• Where are other individuals with vision loss that network and how do they manage independently?
These are questions that can be answered using various apps on various iDevices (iPhone, iPod, and iPad).
Apple's New Philosophy and Concept bring us:
• Integration, with accessibility included in the operating system
• Accessible Touch-Screens that use a gesture-based Screen-reader, and
• Extensive and generous accessibility support for third-party software developers.
What are the advantages of these innovations?
• Gestures replace keystrokes for the “keyboard-challenged” – no complex key combinations to remember
• Verbal cues during interaction mean less to memorize
• Audio cues aid navigation and indicate task execution functions, and
• The ability to employ mental mapping and visualization techniques means easier teaching for the instructor and easier learning for the student.
iDevices provide universal accessibility through support for:
• Speech, large print, and Braille in over 30 languages
• A large number of refreshable Braille displays using contracted and uncontracted Braille in most languages, and
• Alternative input devices through a Bluetooth interface.
Let’s look specifically at the iPhone as an independent living appliance. Once proficient with an iPhone, you can organize as many apps as you care to download by creating folders for them. For example, my iPhone contains individual folders for books, food topics like the Canada Food Guide and lots of recipe apps, media, social networking, scanning/vision and so on.
My scanning/vision folder includes:
• A light detector
• Colour and object identifiers (Aid Colors, iColornamer4, DigitEyes and oMoby)
• The Looktel Money Reader to identify currency, and
• VizWiz, an interactive web-based app used for “crowd sourcing”.
There is also a QR code reader. QR codes are being used more and more in advertising and visual media as instant website links.
The original presentation included several demonstration videos that have now been posted to YouTube:
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/woofmantom#p/u/6/LxiTuqTyZX0
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/woofmantom#p/u/5/oASOE9moIj0
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/woofmantom#p/u/4/_4RRgPEcJAY
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/woofmantom#p/u/3/zDkSFK77cl0
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/woofmantom#p/u/2/Fom73pukJlk
DigitEyes (Bar Code/UPC reader)
Looktel Money Reader
Crowd Sourcing with VizWiz
QR Code Reader
Other apps available can provide peer support and a vehicle for advocacy. For instance, an excellent one is iBlink Radio, designed and presented by people with vision loss.
It provides resources like this on its main screen:
• Totally blind with sleep problems
• Latest shows from Serotech
• Submit iReport
• End of Line
• Audio tutorials and Interviews
• Blindness resources
• Community radio
• Reading services
• Podcasts, and
• Samnet sampler.
Within its audio tutorials and interviews, iBlink Radio provides such programming as:
• Interviews from CSUN, ACB, NFB, ATIA
• All with My iPhone
• Mac audio demos
• Screen-reader optimization for Skype
• Voice control in Windows.
They also provide blindness resources:
• Info - facts and myths
• Getting back into the swing of things
• Independently speaking
• Know the right stuff
• No frills daily skills
• Put laughter back in your life
• Senses and sensibilities
• Sound solutions.
Another good app is iAdvocacy, aimed mainly at parents and families of vision-impaired children. While the information is U.S.-centred, it provides lots of options and resources that can be applied and used here in Canada.
What I’ve presented here barely scratches the surface of the independent living resources available through Apple’s iDevices. Once you start exploring, the options just keep expanding.
Here’s a short list of additional resources to get you started:
From National Braille Press www.nbp.org
• “Getting Started with the iPhone” and
• “26 iPhone Apps”.
Other Websites include
Tactile screen covers for iDevices are made by SpeedDots: www.speeddots.com and distributed by ATGuys www.atguys.com. These provide screen protection and can greatly increase familiarity and speed of use with your iDevice.
Instructions in the use of the iPhone as an independent living aid are available from BALANCE for Blind Adults www.balancefba.org.
And, now under construction, EyepAudio.ca (“Helping people see YOUR world through THEIR ears!” www.eyepaudio.ca.) This is my own site, now in development, to help provide a Canadian perspective on the resources available.