Exciting New Assistive Technology Alternatives

Exciting developments in the field of Assistive Technology include lower cost or free alternatives, and the ability to use mainstream products in place of expensive devices designed specifically for people with disabilities.

Here are two examples of free or lower cost alternatives to expensive assistive technology products:

1) Microsoft has developed the Office Lens Reader, a free app that can be used in place of the KNFB Reader. The Office Lens Reader is an app that uses your mobile phone’s camera to scan printed material and then read it aloud. For now, the Office Lens Reader is only available on IOS devices. For more information about the Office Lens Reader, click on this link: http://www.rsbc.org.uk/blogs/microsoft-office-lens-review-an-accessible-way-to-read-printed-documents/

2) Braille printers can be very expensive. Samsung has developed a Touchable Ink cartridge that will allow any commercial laser printer to create Braille. Although the Touchable Ink cartridge costs more than regular ink cartridges, most laser printers cost considerably less than a Braille printer: thousands of dollars for a Braille printer versus around one hundred dollars for a laser printer. For more information about the Touchable Ink cartridge, click here: https://www.geek.com/tech/samsungs-touchable-ink-prints-braille-using-any-laser-printer-1673209/


Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer.  Filled with picnics, pool parties, and parades, it’s a time of laughter and leisure.  And yet . . .

Memorial Day is also a time for honoring and remembering those who died while serving in our country’s armed forces.  Perhaps the most compelling Memorial Day observance is held at Arlington National Cemetery.  As Robert M. Poole notes in ON HALLOWED GROUND: THE HISTORY OF ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, “few images linger in the national imagination as vividly as this hallowed ground.”

The former executive editor of National Geographic, Poole explores the history and “age-old rituals” that make Arlington National Cemetery sacred, tracing its transformation from the plantation of a young U.S. Army Colonel named Robert E. Lee to national shrine. We travel from the Civil War’s “stench of death” and the horrific trenches of “The War to End All Wars,” through the “nastiest little war” in Korea and the shock of 9/11.  Poole shows how and why “no other nation goes to the effort that the United States does to recover and pay respects to its war dead.”

Poole enlivens our walk through Arlington’s haunting landscape with rich kernels of military history.  He relates the origins of the soldier’s lullaby we know as “Taps,” unearths the evolution of “dog tags,” and reveals the role Arlington National Cemetery played in the construction of that oddball shaped, five-sided building next door.

We meet heroic citizen-soldiers like sharecropper’s son Audie Murphy, whose standard issue tombstone is too small to list all of his 28 decorations.  Pennsylvania pig farmer Alton W. Knappenberger, who was “scared the whole time I was over there,” but risked “his life above and beyond the call of duty” at Anzio.  We follow the ill-fated odyssey of Michael Blassie, the Unknown of the Vietnam War.  And we keep vigil with the sentinels who guard the soldiers, “known but to God,” who rest at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

We also revisit that bleak weekend in November 1963 when we mourned President Kennedy.  Poole describes behind-the-scenes preparations for the President’s funeral, including the frantic, last-minute quest for an “eternal flame,” and the antics of Black Jack, the riderless horse who captivated a nation and bedeviled its handler.  President Kennedy’s burial forever changed Arlington National Cemetery.

Remember the reason for the season.  Make Memorial Day more than a three-day weekend!  Pay homage to those who gave their lives while serving our country by visiting ON HALLOWED GROUND: THE HISTORY OF ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY.

Cover of On Hallowed Ground by Robert M. Poole

NLS Annotation: Describes how the former plantation of Robert E. Lee’s family, which was confiscated during the Civil War, evolved into a national cemetery for veterans. Explains day-to-day operations and ceremonies. 2009.

For more about Arlington National Cemetery and “the saddest acre in America,” read Poole’s, SECTION 60: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY: WHERE WAR COMES HOME, DB 80705.

Meet author Richard M. Poole in this 2009 “Talk of the Nation” interview: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120318330

AI Squared ends sales of Window Eyes

The popular screen reader Window Eyes will no longer be sold in the United States and Canada, effective immediately. AI Squared will be offering JAWS 18 as a replacement for Window Eyes.

For more information about the migration process from Window Eyes to JAWS, please click here: www.gwmicro.com/window-eyes/migrate/

Note, the free Window-Eyes Offer for Users of Microsoft Office version is not part of the conversion program.

Sero App

Sero, formerly known as iBlink Radio, is an app that offers radio stations, podcasts and reading services of special interest to individuals with blindness or visual impairments. Each station offered is part of Community Radio and/or operated by persons with limited-to-no eyesight. Music offered spans various genres from classics of the 1950s to modern alternative rock. Reading services offered by the app include thousands of narrated newspapers, magazines and periodicals, including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. The available podcasts are produced by blind or visually-impaired individuals on a variety of topics, including technology, independent living and travel.

Sero can be downloaded from the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad, Google Play for Android devices, Amazon App Store for Kindle Fire and the Mac App Store for Apple computers.

This app is free, however without a subscription or free trial, you’ll have access to a small subset of the audio content, and none of the community features such as forums or voice chat. For unlimited access, there is an auto-renewing subscription available within the app for $5.99 per month.

To download Sero App for iOS, go to: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sero-formerly-iblink-radio/id332027117?mt=8

To download the Sero App for Android, go to: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.serotek.iblink&hl=en

Mention of a product or service in this blog does not constitute endorsement by this library. Our intention is to increase an awareness of programs and items that may be helpful to our patrons.

2017 NDEAM Poster Art Competition: Deadline 5/31/17

Each year the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities features an art competition for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The poster is distributed free to the public and businesses. The artwork must be an original composition created by a Texan with a disability.

For more information about this competition, including the entry form and submission guidelines, please click here: http://gov.texas.gov/disabilities/ndeam/ndeam_poster/

The deadline for submissions is May 31, 2017. The winner will be announced on June 21, 2017. The winner will also be a special guest at the annual Lex Frieden Employment Awards ceremony in October.

There is no fee to enter this competition.

IBUG offers Android training May 31, 2017

IBUG, a Houston-based group that provides free iPhone training, is now branching out to include Android training. Raul Gallegos, an assistive technology trainer, will conduct the first conference call about Android devices and the Google operating system.

What: Android device training
When: Wednesday, May 31, 2017, at 7:30 pm Central Time
Where: conference call
Conference dial-in number: (712) 432-0111
Participant access code: 787800#
NOTE: This is NOT a toll-free call.
While on the call, please use *6 to toggle mute/unmute on your phone.

For more information, contact Raul Gallegos at 832-554-7285 or send an e-mail to raul@raulgallegos.com

For information about IBUG, visit the web site at www.ibugtoday.com

Presentation about Non 24 in Dallas

Non 24 is a sleep disorder that affects some people who are totally blind. The condition can make you feel sleepy during the day and can make it difficult for you to sleep through the night. The AFB Center on Vision Loss is offering a 45 minute presentation about Non 24. The seminar is free, and lunch is included. Attendees will also have the option for a private consultation.

Here are the details:
What: Non 24 presentation
When: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.
Where: American Foundation for the Blind Center on Vision Loss, 11030 Ables Lane, Dallas
RSVP to: Neva Fairchild: e-mail neva@afb.net or call 214-438-5316
Cost: free