Many Faces of BARD Program: NLS Braille E-readers and iPhones

Join the National Library Service (NLS) for the Many Faces of BARD program on Thursday, September 14, at 6:00 p.m. (Central) covering how to read BARD books using an NLS braille e-reader and an iPhone.

The session will include a demonstration of both the Zoomax and Humanware e-readers.

Registration is not required. The session is scheduled for one hour with time for questions. Click on the link to join:

NLS BARD Seeking Smart Speaker Volunteers!

The Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) team at the National Library Service (NLS) is always working on ways to improve BARD by making it more accessible for patrons in Texas and across the country. Most recently, NLS has developed a BARD component that is compatible with Amazon and Google Smart Speakers.

To help assess and fine tune this feature, NLS is inviting interested BARD patrons to assist in beta testing.

To participate, you must meet the following three criteria:

  1. You must own either a Google or Amazon Smart Speaker; NLS and TBP cannot provide the device.

  2. You must be an active patron of NLS or TBP. If you want to participate and are not an active patron or do not have a BARD account, please contact us at 1-800-252-9605 or

  3. You must agree to access the skill at least three times per week. This might include checking the recently added books, looking for a specific title, reading a book, accessing and manipulating your Wish List, etc.

For this round of testing, NLS is seeking 500-600 volunteers.

If you are interested in participating, please send an email with the following information to or

  • Name
  • Current BARD email address
  • Type of smart speaker that you own
  • Telephone number for receiving confirmation via phone calls or text messages
  • Agree to be on a discussion listserv for the NLS smart speaker beta

PLEASE NOTE: IF YOU ARE ALREADY PART OF THE SMART SPEAKER BETA, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SIGN UP AGAIN. If you are actively using the system, you will remain part of the Smart Speaker beta.

If you have any questions, please contact Don Olson at

We appreciate your willingness to help make BARD more accessible. Thank you!

Free Online Courses from

Are you new to the world of technology or maybe you just need a little refresh in your technology skills? is offering free online courses to help you in learning the skills you may need.

The “Starting Out” section includes modules for navigating a web site; intro to email, Google Maps, and YouTube; and how to operate both Mac and PC computers.

The “Being Safe Online” section includes information about passwords, privacy, and online scams.

The “Job Skills” section provides guides on how to search and apply for jobs online, as well as creating a resume.

There are also sections for “Being Productive,” “Connecting with Others,” “Mobile Devices,” and “Online Shopping.”

Modules range from 6 to 36 minutes long and include closed captioning.

Visit to access free training modules about aspects of computing.

Free Workshops on Accessible Tech from New York’s Talking Book Library

A fellow NLS network library in New York is hosting several Tech and Culture workshops virtually this summer. They are inviting patrons from all libraries to attend for free! You can read about each session below, and there will be a contact person or a sign-up link for you to follow. Please note you will need to call the New York library for assistance with these workshops, their contact information is in their introduction. All times are listed in Eastern time.

Tech and Culture Workshops from the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library in New York:

Join our vibrant community for free, interactive remote workshops every week covering tech topics for beginners and seasoned users, book discussions, a Braille study group and more. Below, you will find offerings for August: just use the link within each listing to register. To receive a reminder about each upcoming workshop or find out about additional pop-up offerings, email or contact our tech team to join our announcement list. Email or call (212) 206-5400 and ask for zoom links for tech workshops, where available.

iPhone Chat for Voiceover Beginners

First Saturdays (July 2, August 6, September 3), 1:00 – 2:15 p.m. (EST)

If you’re new to using Voiceover on the iPhone or if you’re still working toward confidence, this discussion group is for you. We will spend some time going over the theory of how screen readers work, gestures everyone needs to know, and some strategies for getting help. Then, we will open it up for questions and networking.

This event will take place online.  

Join the Zoom for Voiceover Beginners

iPhone Chat for Voiceover Users: Beyond the Basics

First Saturdays (July 2, August 6, September 3), 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. (EST)

Talk about customizing gestures and settings, exploring new apps, choosing accessories, dealing with bugs, and whatever else comes to mind. This is a space for any and all Voiceover topics that go beyond the basics of using common gestures and built-in apps. 

This event will take place online.  

Join the Zoom for Voiceover: Beyond the Basics

The Zoom about Zoom: What Participants and Hosts Need to know

Friday July 1, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. (EST) 

Get ready to manage microphones, cameras, chat messages, raised hands, polls and breakout rooms with confidence. We will show you everything you need to know to bring your best self to virtual gatherings, whether you’re attending or hosting.

This event will take place online.

Register for Zoom about Zoom

Descriptive Origami

Friday July 1, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. (EST)

We will use effective verbal communication and teamwork to learn origami models like a lotus, a goldfish and a card holder. This hands-on event will take place in person: kindly RSVP to to reserve your spot!

Intro to NVDA: a Ten-day Summer Immersion 

August 8 through 19, Monday through Friday, 3 – 5 p.m. (EST)

There are several Windows screen readers to choose from. Come discover how this free, open-source option compares. If you know how to type, understand Windows basics, can commit to attending ten sessions, and would like to become more confident and proficient with the NVDA screen reader, this workshop is for you! Please plan to join us each week for a hands-on lesson and discussion. This workshop also includes a group mailing list where you can post your questions and discoveries for other members of your cohort to read and respond, as well as a weekly recap that is optional to attend half an hour before the official start of each class. We will cover the basics of customizing NVDA settings, getting around in Windows 10 or 11, working with text, managing files and folders and exploring the web. This workshop will be limited to 30 participants, so please apply to participate soon!

This event will take place online.  

Register for NVDA Summer Immersion

Getting Started with Podcasting

Saturday July 16, 2 – 3:30 p.m. (EST)

Join volunteer Brian Fischler from That Real Blind Tech Show to find out how you can get started producing your own podcast. Brian will walk you through the supplies you will need to get started podcasting, easy ways to record both you and guests, hosting services, editing, and publishing your own show.

This event will take place online.

Register For Getting Started with Podcasting

Making Videos with Clips

Saturday July 23, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. (EST)

Learn how to use this popular mobile app to create, edit and share your own videos.

This event will take place online.

Register For Making Videos with Clips

Getting Started with Podcasting

Thursday August 4, 7 – 8:30 p.m. (EST)

You probably have heard people discussing fantasy football at school or around the office. What is it, and why are millions of people playing it? Volunteer, Brian Fischler, will share his 20 years of knowledge playing fantasy football with you. He will explain the game and how to play for free on Yahoo Fantasy, discuss different strategies to the game, the live draft where you pick your own players, following your team, making trades of players, and how live scoring works. The great thing about fantasy football is that you can put as little or as much time into it as you want. And as Brian says, fantasy football is the world’s greatest waste of time, but wow is it fun.

This event will take place online. 

Register for Getting Started with Podcasting

High- and Low-tech Organization and Labeling Tips

Monday August 15, 7 – 8:30 p.m. (EST)

We all have items around that we need to identify. Whether a document, file folder, containers, books, or clothing, there are eyes-free strategies for identifying things around the home or office. Join this workshop to learn about and share resources and methods for labeling as a blind person. We will cover resources for adhesive labeling with a slate and stylus, Perkins brailler, as well as more high-tech tools to label clothing for laundry and identification, and more.

This event will take place online. 

Register for High and Low Tech Organization

Using Braille Displays with iOS

Monday August 22, 7 – 8:30 p.m. (EST)

Your Braille display can be a powerful companion to your iPhone or iPad, but there is so much to know as you begin. We will go through common Braille display commands, settings and customizations, known bugs and workarounds, and apps that work especially well with Braille.

This event will take place online. 

Register for Using Braille Displays with iOS

Google Apps with Accessibility in Mind

Let’s explore popular free tools that you can use on the web or with mobile apps to manage your time, share your work and collaborate. Participation in all sessions is encouraged, since we’ll be building your knowledge from week to week.

All sessions meet on Wednesdays, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. (EST)

August 24: Drive and Docs Basics

August 31: Drive and Docs: Formatting, organization, editing, and version control

September 7: Docs: Commenting, Collaboration, Track Changes, Sharing Permissions and Publishing 

September 14: Calendar (including invitations, shared calendars, and Meet)

September 21: Sheets

September 28: Slides 

This event will take place online.

Register for Google Apps with Accessibility in Mind

Online Technology Classes from the Andrew Heiskell Braille & Talking Book Library

The Andrew Heiskell Braille & Talking Book Library in New York is offering free online technology classes for people who are blind or have low vision.

Some of the classes occur just once and some are multi-week courses.

A few examples of the classes are: Intro to NVDA, Exploring JAWS, Intro to Facebook with Accessibility in Mind, and iOS Shortcuts.

For more information on these online courses, you can view the library newsletter at or contact the Talking Book Program’s Disability Information & Referral Center at 1-800-252-9605 (toll free in Texas), 512-463-5458, or by e-mail at

3G Network Phase Out

Have you heard that 3G networks are being phased out? This could affect your mobile phones from 2012 or earlier as well as older home security systems, smartwatches, medical devices, medical alert bracelets and some assistive technology such as communication devices and braille notetakers.

Senior Planet San Antonio is offering a free webinar about the 3G phase out on Thursday, February 3, at 10 a.m. (CST). Registration is not required. Visit this web site: and click the “Join This Event” button at the appointed time. You can also dial in to the webinar using this information: 1-720-707-2699, Meeting ID: 820 0860 2060

Here are two resources for more information about the 3G shut down:

FCC document:

3G Shutdown 2022 web site from the Texas Center for Disability Studies:

Note: Cellular service providers are shutting down their 3G networks at different times during this year. Contact your provider for more information. Many carriers are offering free or low-cost replacement phones or devices.

Tappy Guide

Tappy Guide is a free wayfinding app for iOS and Android platforms that assists people with vision impairments, people who are deaf or hearing impaired, wheelchair users, older adults, and veterans with navigation, directions, and accessibility. Similar to the “Be My Eyes” app, Tappy Guide uses trained volunteers who communicate through the app using GPS technology and the cell phone camera. Tappy Guide was created by John Petrous, who has family members who are blind. Tappy Guide is seeking both app users and volunteers. For more information, visit:

Assistive Technology Funding Source


Laughing at My Nightmare

Persons with disabilities can apply to receive an iPad Pro, an Amazon Echo Show, an Obi Robotic Feeder, or any assistive technology device that does not exceed $5,000. Medical certification of disability is required. Submission deadline: October 30, 2021. Devices provided while funding lasts. Monetary donations welcomed. Available only to U.S. residents

This organization also provides grants for various types of equipment (medical supplies, wheelchair modifications, computer or communication devices, or smart devices) to individuals with a neuromuscular disease. Information for that grant can be found here:

Laughing at My Nightmare is a non-profit organization run by Shane Burcaw, who has Spinal Muscular Dystrophy, a type of Muscular Dystrophy. Shane is also an author, a motivational speaker, and stars in a popular YouTube reality series with his wife Hannah called “Squirmy and Grubs”.

A Mighty Good Time Programming for Seniors

A Mighty Good Time is a web site for older adults living in the Central Texas area that lists online and in-person programming designed for senior citizens. As most events are virtual for the foreseeable future, this programming can now be accessed from anywhere. These events include a variety of exercise options, virtual tours of museums and world landmarks, cooking demonstrations, book clubs, current event discussions, learning about technology, history lectures, games, and much more. Some of the programs are limited to seniors fifty years and older, but many have no age requirement. And most of the programs are free. Most require Internet access, but some may be accessed by phone or Internet.

During this time of isolation, A Mighty Good Time offers a wealth of social, physical, and intellectual enrichment opportunities. Visit and start filling up your calendar.

Senior Planet’s Aging Connected Technology Sessions

Senior Planet is a national organization committed to providing free online programming to older adults. Every week seniors can access a variety of events such as types of exercise, book clubs, and learning opportunities. There are Senior Planet offices in a few cities, including San Antonio.

Recently Senior Planet launched Aging Connected, with the goal of helping seniors learn about technology. Each week Aging Connected highlights the one hour programs that Senior Planet offers about different aspects of current technology, such as getting connected, online shopping, mobile health apps, virtual platforms such as Zoom, transportation apps, and much more. These sessions are interactive, and participants are encouraged to ask questions, and share ideas and resources.

For more information, visit You can also call the Aging Connected hotline at 877-745-1930.