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  • New ZoomText 11—Talking Points

    What is ZoomText

    ZoomText is a powerful computer access solution that allows low-vision computer users to see, hear and use everything on Windows desktops, laptops and tablet devices. ZoomText magnifies and enhances everything on your computer screen; echoes all of your actions including typing and navigation through menus, dialogs and other application controls; automatically reads documents, web pages and email, and much more. With ZoomText, all applications can be used with greater ease, speed and productivity.

    What’s New in ZoomText 11

    For the release of ZoomText 11 our goal was to make ZoomText faster and friendlier than ever before. So we streamlined the toolbars, simplified command keys, and unified the core features to make them easier to learn and use. We've also made sure that the ZoomText interface is fully accessible using the mouse or the keyboard.

    Here's a list of the key changes in ZoomText 11.

    New Modern Toolbar. ZoomText has a brand new toolbar with a fresh clean look. We've streamlined and modernised the layout to make it easier to learn and fast and fluid to use. You can now access and operate the entire toolbar with the mouse or the keyboard.

    How to use the new toolbar

    • Using only the arrow keys and Enter key, you can fully navigate and operate all of the toolbar controls.
    • Pressing the arrow keys moves the focus in the desired direction, such as left and right across toolbar controls or upward from a toolbar button to the toolbar tab.
    • Many of the toolbar buttons are split button controls that have a top button that toggles the feature on and off or cycles the features mode, and a bottom button that displays a menu of associated features. When the focus is on a split button, pressing the Enter key will trigger the top button, while pressing the down arrow will open the menu. Use the arrow keys and Enter to key navigate the menus and select menu items. To close the menu, press the left arrow.
    • When the focus is in a spin box, pressing the up and down arrow keys will adjust the spin box value; pressing the left or right arrow will move the focus to the next control.
    • When the focus is in the Zoom Level spin box, pressing the Enter key will toggle the Zoom to 1x feature. Note: Left-click on the icon below the Zoom Level spin box also toggles the Zoom to 1x feature.

    New Command Keys.  ZoomText 11 has a new system of 'Command Keys' that are easier to learn and use. The new command keys eliminate hotkey conflicts and use key combinations that are easy to on any desktop or laptop keyboard.

    How to use the new command keys

    • All of the new ZoomText hotkeys (factory defaults) work on all laptop and desktop keyboards; utilise key combinations that are easier to find and execute; and eliminate long-standing hotkey conflicts with Windows and other applications.
    • The new hotkeys for the most commonly used commands:
      • Demonstrate Finder in IE11.
      • See description of the “New Unified Finder Tool” below.
      • Launch ZoomText Ctrl + Shift + Alt + Z
      • ZoomText On/Off Caps Lock + Ctrl + Enter
      • Zoom In/Out Caps Lock + Up/Down
      • Zoom to 1x (toggle) Caps Lock + Enter
      • Enhance Color On/Off Caps Lock + C
      • Voice On/Off Caps Lock + Alt + Enter
      • Cycle Typing Echo Mode Caps Lock + Alt + T
      • Launch AppReader Caps Lock + Alt + A
      • Launch AppReader from Pointer Caps Lock + Alt + Left –Click (on a word)
      • Launch Finder Caps Lock + Ctrl + F

    New Zoom to 1x. The new Zoom to 1x feature lets you instantly switch between zoomed and 1x views, without having to zoom in and out one level at a time. And when you zoom out to 1x, all of the other ZoomText features are still there for you.

    How to use the new Zoom to 1x feature

    • This one is simple, just zoom in and then press Caps Lock + Enter to toggle back and forth between the zoomed view and 1x view.

    New Geometric Smoothing. ZoomText now smooths the edges of text  in places where xFont magnification can't go. Here's a hint; your magnified PDF documents never looked this good.

    How to use the new feature

    • The feature is best demonstrated in Adobe Reader, where ZoomText’s xFont magnification is not available to provide smooth magnified text in PDF documents. Geometric Smoothing works in Adobe Reader changing the text from blurry unreadable text to sharp readable text.

    New Consolidated AppReader. We've made automatic reading more efficient and flexible by combining ZoomText's legacy reading tools into one new AppReader. With the new AppReader you can read right in the target application, or switch on-the-fly to a high contrast text view that's better for visual reading. You can also spot read blocks of text by clicking and dragging the mouse.

    How to use the new AppReader

    1. Open a Word document or webpage in IE11.
    2. Move the mouse pointer over the desired word where you want to start reading and Press the Launch AppReader from Pointer command: Caps Lock + Alt + Left-click. AppReader will start reading at the word under the pointer.
    3. To pause and resume reading (toggle), press the Enter key.
    4. To skim forward and backward by sentence, press the right and left keys.
    5. To skim forward and backward by paragraph, press the down and up keys.
    6. To switch between the App View and Text View, press the Tab key.
    7. While in App View and paused, click and drag to select a block of text to “spot read”.
    8. While in Text View, click the Settings button to open the Text View settings and adjust the font and color settings.
    9. To exit the AppReader, press the Esc key.

    To learn about advanced AppReader capabilities, see Reader Features > AppReader in the ZoomText Help system. To open the Help system, on the ZoomText toolbar, select ZoomText > Help and Learning > ZoomText Help.

    New Unified Finder Tool. Locating what you are looking for is easier than ever with the new Finder Tool. Finder lets you search and skim through documents, web pages and email to instantly find any word or phrase you are looking for. You can search through all of the text or only within specific items like headings, forms, links and images.

    How to use the new Finder Tool

    1. Open a webpage containing good amount content with headers, links, images, etc.  News pages and online magazines are good choices.
    2. Press the Launch Finder command: Caps Lock + Ctrl + F. The Finder Toolbar will appear.
    3. In the Search box type a word or phrase to find on the page, and then press the Enter key. The first instance of the word will be highlighted and a portion of the line or sentence containing the word will be spoken (so that the instance has meaningful context). Press Enter again to move to the next instance or Shift + Enter to move to the previous instance.
    4. Press start reading at the currently highlighted word, click the AppReader button.
    5. If the highlighted word is in a link, click the Execute button to trigger the link.
    6. To a view a list of all search matches on the page, click the List button. Click the List button again to close the list.
    7. To exit the Finder tool, press the Esc key.

    To learn about advanced Finder capabilities, see Tools Features > Finder in the ZoomText Help system. To open the Help system, on the ZoomText toolbar, select ZoomText > Help and Learning > ZoomText Help.

    New Smart Invert. See photos as they were meant to be seen in Internet Explorer 11. With ZoomText's new Smart Invert feature, photos are displayed in their natural colors when ZoomText's Invert Brightness and Invert Colors are active. It's not an illusion, it's Smart Invert.

    How to use the new feature

    • Open IE 11 to a webpage that contains photo images, such as a news page or a page of Google search results for images. Toggle ZoomText’s Color Enhancements on by pressing the Enhance Colors On/Off hotkey (Caps Lock + C) to enable the Invert Brightness or Invert Colors filter. The brightness or colors on the screen and in the webpage will be inverted.  A moment later the brightness or colors in the photo images will un-invert to appear in their atural colors.

    New ZoomText/JAWS Interoperability. Starting with the releases of ZoomText 11 and JAWS 18, ZoomText and JAWS are now officially compatible, giving you the best combination of speech and magnification available. You’ll enjoy how the two programs work together to keep your spoken point of interest in view, even when using the JAWS Say All command and virtual cursor. Now the two "Best in Category" are the "Best in Combination."

    Demonstrating ZoomText/JAWS interop

    1. In JAWS 18, configure JAWS to use the laptop hotkey layout.
    2. In ZoomText 11, import the ZoomText for JAWS hotkeys as follows:
      1. On the ZoomText toolbar, choose ZoomText (menu) > Command Keys.
      2. Click the Import Hotkeys button.
      3. In the Import Hotkeys dialog box, select the ZT_11_JAWS_laptop_en-US.zxc file and click the Open button. The ZoomText for JAWS hotkeys will be loaded.  Reading and voice related hotkeys will be disabled and all other ZoomText hotkeys will have the Alt key added to their key combination. For example, rather than pressing Caps Lock + Up/Down to zoom in and out, you will now press Caps Lock + Alt + Up/Down. These changes eliminate conflicts with the JAWS hotkeys.
      4. To make these hotkeys permanent when exiting and restarting ZoomText, on the ZoomText toolbar choose ZoomText > Configurations > Save As Default.

    ZoomText 11 System Requirements

    The following hardware and software are required to run ZoomText 11:

    • Windows 10, 8.1 or 7 with Service Pack 1 (or later).
    • Processor: 2 GHz i3 dual core processor or similar. i5 or i7 recommended.
    • 4 GB Ram. 8 GB recommended.
    • Video card with support for DirectX 10 or higher.
    • Recommended: 256 MB dedicated video memory.
    • 400 MB hard drive space. SSD drive recommended.
    • 5-point multi-touch display for touch screen support.
    • USB 2.0 for ZoomText Camera support.
  • Important: Fix for Startup Issue for ZoomText 10.1 and other Ai Squared Software Products

    Ai Squared have announced some issues with some of their digital products including ZoomText and Window-Eyes. There is an issue with the digital certificate which will expire on January 26th 2017 and you may find your software will fail to launch after this date.

    Software updates to resolve this issue are available at: http://www.aisquared.com/CertificateFix/

    Most ZoomText 10.1 users will be affected, including ZoomText Fusion. If you are running ZoomText 10.0 or below, you will not be affected. To find which version you are using, please go to the Help menu, and choose About ZoomText.
    Users in the UK should download the version marked "International" from the page above.

    If you have an single-user licence of ZoomText 10.1, you can download the software directly from this link.

    Your ZoomText may fail to load after the 26th of January, but you can still install the update after this date.

    If you require any more assistance with this matter or any other, then please contact our support team.

    Affected Ai Squared Software Products

    When attempting to start the following Ai Squared software products, the product will fail to launch and display a Windows error message: "A referral was returned from the server"

    ZoomText Magnifier v10.1 Build numbers 10.10.8 through 10.11.6
    ZoomText Magnifier/Reader v10.1 Build numbers 10.10.8 through 10.11.6
    ZoomText Fusion v10.1 Build numbers 10.11.1 through 10.11.5
    ZoomText Keyboard v4 Build numbers 4.0.0 and 4.1.0
    Window-Eyes v9.5 Build numbers 9.5.1 and 9.5.3

    When attempting to start the following Ai Squared software products, the product may launch even though the certificate has been revoked. Anti-virus utilities may detect the invalid certificate and block the software from running.

    ZoomText ImageReader v1.2 Build numbers 1.2.16106
    ZoomText Voices (language packs) v1.0 Build numbers 1.0.1.4693
    Vocalizer Expressive v1.3 (for Windows Eyes) Build numbers 1.3.0.13329

  • Social Innovations for the Assistive Technology Sector 2016

     

    Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading tech for good funder, has today unveiled the 2016 NT100 - a celebration of the 100 most inspiring social innovations using digital technology to drive social change around the world. Now in its fourth year, the 2016 NT100 gives special recognition to ‘Everyday Tech Heroes’ — the inspirational people who have first-hand experience of the challenges they are tackling with tech.

     

    The organisations chosen for this year’s NT100 have wide-ranging purposes, from those determined to democratise access to quality education and healthcare, to those connecting minority communities and evoking empathy. As in 2015, improving humanitarian response was again a strong and topical theme. But while the projects featured in the 2015 NT100 were largely responsive, in 2016 they demonstrate how humanitarian resources can be predictively deployed to mitigate crises and make sure scant resources are used well.

     

    You can see the full list of 100 here: http://www.socialtech.org.uk/nominet-trust-100/2016/

     

    Here are some notable inclusions from our world of assistive technology:

     

    1. Aipoly – an AI-enabled app describes objects for the blind

    Marita Chen, Alberto Rizzoli and Simon Edwardsson are founders of a Melbourne-based startup called Aipoly. They are working on the current holy grail of vision assistance – a smartphone app that works even without a signal. Developing the prototype at Singularity University in the US, the co-founders launched a working app in March 2016, with impressive results.

     

    Visually impaired users can use the app to point their phone at objects around them, and a voice describes the objects in real time (a choice of a male or female voice is available). The app integrates with Google Translate, which means that Aipoly can ‘speak’ in seven different languages.

     

    2. Dot Watch - The first Braille smartwatch

    Display's that read Braille text in real time typically cost between $2,000 and $15,000, and cheaper Braille texts are very laborious to read – a full Braille Bible for example is typically 40 volumes. Most people with access to smartphones rely on voice-recognition software like Apple’s Siri to ‘read’ communication from loved ones.

     

    Kim’s team developed a smartwatch that uses magnets and a grid of pins, which can be raised or lowered to make four Braille letters at a time. It links up with Bluetooth to convert text from apps like iMessage into Braille letter equivalents. Impressively, the device can last for five days on a single charge and comes with a relatively low price tag of $290 plus tax.

     

    3. Manovue - Camera-equipped glove helps the blind

     

    While studying computer engineering at Manav Rachna University in India, 20-year-old Roopam Sharma wanted to develop a game for people who are colour-blind. It was during his research that he learned that there had been next to no innovation for the blind since Braille was invented more than 200 years ago, and that’s in spite of 285 million people suffering from visual impairment around the world, according to the World Health Organization.

     

    Astonished by the lack of innovation, Sharma interviewed 60 blind people in India, and concluded that those with visual impairment face three major problems: reading text unless it is in Braille, navigating their environment, and using smartphones.

     

    Setting to work to address all three problems, Sharma came up with a device called Manovue (from Spanish ‘Mano’ meaning ‘hands’, and French ‘vue’ meaning ‘vision’), which the user wears like a glove.

     

    The index finger of the glove has a camera that captures images of text, converting written words to audio as the user moves his finger over a page. The lower part of the palm receives signals from the environment, vibrating if an obstacle is near, and signalling whether it is on the right, left or ahead of the user.

     

    4. Pips - Open-source IoT buttons help partially sighted children

     

    Pips, created by senior Nominet researcher David Simpson, provides an Internet of Things (IoT) solution that can help partially-sighted children navigate their environment through a playful and interactive way.

     

    Pips are a series of palm-sized buttons that can be attached to walls and furniture.  When a child presses the first button in a series, it lights up and beeps, while activating the next button for the child to press. Several buttons can be placed on a staircase for example, so a child can learn to go up and down stairs by finding each button and pressing it.

     

    Pips is built around a Light Blue Bean micro-controller, which uses Bluetooth to send and receive messages, and a ‘gateway’, such as a laptop or Raspberry Pi, to run the software. It is fully open source, which means that anyone can download instructions on how to build their own buttons and adapt them to their needs.

     

     

  • Webinar: Assistive Technology for those who are Visually Impaired

     

    Our very own Ruth Gallagher recently talked about a range of Assistive Technology available to support visually impaired and blind students in a webinar, working with CALL Scotland and the University of Edinburgh.

    call-scotland

    In this talk Ruth covers OCR options, VoiceEye - an alternative way to make text accessible - and other hardware and software/app options to ensure you can provide the best support for your students.

    PLEASE NOTE: You will need free software Adobe Connect in order to view the video and all the associated questions put to Ruth and others during the webinar.

    Here is the link to the Webinar: https://callscotland.adobeconnect.com/_a1197077653/p5mu3zxwrrz

     

  • Wearables for Visually Impaired people - introducing OrCam

    Introducing the revolutionary new wearables for those who are visually impaired or partially sighted, the OrCam MyReader and MyEye.  Both products will soon be available on the Sight and Sound web shop and to order over the phone. Please do not hesitate to give us a call on 01604 798070, selecting Option 1 for more information.

    For now, and to understand some more about this fantastic new product, please find Leonard Rosenfeld's story below, a visually impaired man living in the United States whose life was changed for the better thanks to OrCam:

     

    It was during a trip to Disney World with his family that Dr. Leonard Rosenfeld discovered that he was losing his vision

    “Everyone told us that we should visit the Pirates of the Caribbean exhibit, and that we should get there early in the morning because it was so popular. So right after breakfast, on a bright sunny day, we went off to the exhibit. There were no crowds and we got right in. The building is like a pirate fortress. So you walk from bright sunshine into this dingy, dungeon-like building. And I froze. I said, ‘I can’t see anything.’

    My wife and my children thought I was joking. They said ‘come on, it’s fine. Here are the steps, it’s nothing. Just walk.’ In the end my wife grabbed one arm and my older son grabbed my other arm and they sort of pulled me until we got in a little bit and there was enough light for me to see.”

    After returning home from vacation Leonard went in for his annual optical check, where he received a shocking prognosis- he had Glaucoma.

    Thirty-five years and 14 eye surgeries later, Leonard is now retired but still as active as ever. Despite his diminishing eye sight, Leonard taught for over 4 decades at the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia, participated in the publication of more than three dozen manuscripts, co-edited four books, served on numerous committees, including 3 four-year terms on the Board of School Directors and was elected for a term as President of the Board.

    And yet, despite all of these accomplishments there is still one thing that Leonard is  unable to do because of his glaucoma, and which bothers him most of all.

    Leonard can’t read his own mail.Leonard_usiing_OrCam

    “My mail sits in a pile until my son comes over, maybe once a week or so, and we go through the mail and bills together. This frustrates me because I’m an adult and I want to take care of this on my own. To have to depend on someone else is frustrating. This is why I find OrCam so liberating. With OrCam I can pick up an envelope and see who it’s from. I can open it and read the document.”

    Watch this video to hear from Dr. Leonard Rosenfeld how OrCam has made a difference in his life:

    https://youtu.be/pt4mS2OK6no

  • How to set up email on the HIMS U2 Series

    SETTING UP EMAIL ON A HIMS U2 SERIES

    JACKIE BROWN

    Before you set up your Email account, you might wish to allow any passwords to be spoken by the note-taker. I recommend this if you are new to setting up Email accounts in Braille. In order to hear any password you enter, use dots one-three-five with space to open the Options menu, and arrow down to Hide Passwords. By default, the box is ticked, so press space to untick it, then press enter to save the change. Now you are ready to set up your Email account. Please ensure you have an Internet connection!

     

    CREATING AN EMAIL ACCOUNT

     

    1. Open the Email client from the Main Menu.

     

    1. Use dots one-three-four with space or F2 to open the menu.

     

    1. Arrow up twice with dot four with space to Tools and press enter.

     

    1. You should be on Accounts Manager. Open this by pressing enter.

     

    1. Tab with dots four-five with space until you come to Add, and press enter.

     

    You are now presented with a list of servers:

    • Manual
    • Google
    • Outlook
    • Yahoo
    • iCloud

     

    If none of these is applicable to your Email address, highlight Manual. Note: do not enter at this point, simply tab once using dots four-five with space. This brings you to the series of edit boxes you now need to start filling in. Use dot four with space to arrow down once to each field and enter the relevant information as follows, but do not enter after each field, simply arrow down:

     

    1. Account Name - type in your provider here, such as BT, Gmail, or whatever your Email address relates to.

     

    1. Display Name - usually the name you want to be known by when your Emails appear in someone’s Inbox.

     

    1. Logon Username - this is normally the whole of your Email address, but enter whatever your logon username is.

     

    1. Password - enter it correctly (this is where having them spoken and displayed as you enter Braille characters is very useful.)

     

    1. Email Address - type your full Email address here.

     

    1. Default Mail Server - this is where you can choose either IMAP or POP. To change to your preferred protocol, press space.

     

    1. Incoming POP3/IMAP Server - whichever protocol you selected above, you need to enter your provider’s incoming server details, for example, BT, Gmail, Virgin Media, or other.

     

    1. Outgoing SMTP Server - similarly, you need to enter your provider’s outgoing SMTP server details.

     

    1. Tab with dots four-five space to Advanced, and press enter.

     

    We now come to a series of checkboxes which you tick or untick according to your provider’s protocols. Use space to tick or untick each box, and arrow down to each field using dot four with space, as follows:

     

    1. Use Secure POP3/IMAP SSL - you need to know whether or not your provider wants this ticked.

     

    1. POP3/IMAP Port Number - this should be automatically inserted, depending on what information you have entered above. But you sometimes have to change the port number yourself, especially if you have chosen to enter your details manually.

     

    1. SMTP Encryption Type - press space to choose between None, SSL, and TLS. Your provider should give you these details.

     

    1. SMTP Port Number - this should be automatically inserted, depending on what information you have entered above. But you sometimes have to change the port number yourself, especially if you have chosen to enter your details manually.

     

    1. SMTP Username - only enter this if your logon protocols require it.

     

    1. SMTP Password - again, only enter this if your logon protocols require it.

     

    1. Use AS Default Send-From Account - if you want to use the account you are creating as default, tick this box. Otherwise, if you are going to create another mailbox which you want as your default send-from account, leave it unticked.

     

    1. Keep Mail Copies On Server - if you want your Emails to remain on the server so that each time you launch the Email client, they come in, tick the box with space. If you don’t want to keep your Emails on the server, untick the box.

     

    1. Save Mail Copies In Sent Mailbox - tick the box if you want any Emails you send to be automatically put in the Sent folder.

     

    1. Tab once with dots four-five space to Signatures, and choose whether you want one at the end of your Emails. If you do, tick yes, and tab once more to the Signature button and press enter. An edit box appears that allows you to write what you want to put at the end of each Email you compose. When you have finished, tab once to the Confirm button, and press enter.

     

    1. If you do not want a signature, choose No, and tab to the Confirm button, and press enter.

     

    1. Now tab once more with dots four-five with space to the final Confirm button to conclude the setting up of your Email account.

     

    1. You can now press dots one-three-five-six with space to take you back into your Inbox.

     

    RECEIVING EMAIL MESSAGES

     

    If you have set up your account using POP, do the following to receive Email messages:

     

    1. From your Inbox, press dots one-three-four with space, or F2, to bring up the menu.

     

    1. Arrow up once using dot four with space to Messages, and press enter.

     

    1. Now arrow up twice to Check For New Mail, and press enter.

     

    If your account is correctly set up, your messages should come into your Inbox if you have any.

     

    If you chose IMAP, from the Inbox, simply tab once with dots four-five with space, and you should start to receive your messages if you have your account set up correctly.

     

    If you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to call us on 01604 798070.

  • Getting AT Ready: Notetalker from Conversor

    In association with CALL ‪#‎Scotland and City of Glasgow College, we are organising a new Getting AT Ready event to be held in Glasgow on the 24th June at the new Riverside Campus of City of‪#‎Glasgow College.

     

    This first inaugural event brings together ‪#‎Assistive ‪#‎Technology experts,‪ #‎disability professionals and manufacturers to provide a holistic package to meet your AT needs. We look to provide a workshop style morning session with an exhibition running alongside, punctuated with a tasty breakfast and lunch! ‪#‎assistivetechnology ‪#‎at‪#‎accessibility ‪#‎DSA Places are limited but do go to http://www.atready.co.uk/ for more information.

     

    Notetalker will be demonstrating their latest App and associated products and are one of our main contributors. Please see the image below explaining how Notetalker works allowing students to get audio into their devices to edit. In addition, an interesting case study from former DSA student Ashley Beaty, that covers the DSA process and her experiences with Notetalker in relation to her course:

     

    Audio Notetaker

    audio notetaker

    Ashley Beaty discusses her experience of the DSA process and how Notetalker is as key part of her study strategy.

    I have dyspraxia which means I struggle to keep up with note taking in class and tend to miss a lot of information if I get stuck. I also struggle to put things in a logical order so this makes essay planning difficult and time consuming. In order to organise my work, at the beginning of a project, I make a detailed time plan so that I keep on top of everything. If I fail to do this, I will lose track of time and struggle to cope get with the workload.

    I went through the DSA process in March 2015 and I was provided with a laptop (and laptop accessories such as a keyboard, mouse and stand), Dragon Dictate software, and Notetalker Pro.

    At first, I thought that Notetalker Edit may be confusing, however after recording on the app it became a lot clearer and it made long lectures much easier to deal with. I find the whole Notetaker Pro Plus suite very easy to use

    Notetalker has helped me understand lectures and classes better as I can listen to them again and look at photos alongside them which helps me get a clear idea of the information. I was quite sceptical when I began to use Notetalker app as I was unsure how clear the recordings would be, however the recordings are very clear.

    Using Notetalker has definitely made me feel more confident about my approach to notetaking, I can still makes notes but it is very reassuring to know that Notetalker is recording when I get confused. The ability to add photos and bookmarks are great features as I can find a specific moment easily if I don't want to listen to the entire recording

    I would definitely recommend that other students with similar study challenges consider Notetalker. It has made things much easier for me in class and think it would help people with many different disabilities.

     

    How could Notetalker Help?

    notetalker

  • Say Hello to Mac - The Macular Society

    This is the story of Gloria and a tiny chap named Mac. He lives in her eye right at the very back. He does a rather big job for a minuscule macula. He makes all of our lives utterly spectacular.Mac gives us the precious gift of sight. When he’s in good nick all in the world is right.

    macular society

    Gloria has so much going for her, so much to see, all of which filled her with absolute glee, her grandkids, driving, swishing a badminton racquet. Her life was thriving. Then one day it all changed. Something was far from right. There was wobbliness and blobs in the middle of her sight.

    Little by little Mac got worse and unable to cope. He did his best but there was little hope. He was suffering from what we call ‘macular degeneration’, causing sight loss and fear and so much devastation. There are many like Gloria in her terrible plight, 600,000 of us have macular disease affecting our sight.

    Imagine the horror of one day being barely able to see. The problem is most of us think ‘it won’t happen to me’. This is the story of Gloria’s Mac but one day much of your world could be fading to black. Eyesight is so precious and pure. Please donate, help us fund support and research for a cure.

    You can donate here: https://www.macularsociety.org/donate/donate-online?appealID=1881

  • Making websites more accessible

    "Here’s a question… Does the Equality Act place obligations on business about making their websites accessible and usable for disabled people? Well… err…yes.

    OK, so the second question… why is it so many websites aren’t readily accessible or usable for disabled people? I don’t know the answer but it puzzles me.

    I’m a blind guy and use a screen reader – you know, that bit of software that reads out what’s on the screen with a voice like Micky Mouse on helium. I would say I was quite an experienced user but it amazes me the number of websites that I find hard to use or can’t use at all! This is so frequent now I got to the point of not even noticing. I just tried one and if it didn’t work I tried another wherever possible. Last year I started keeping stats just for my own curiosity. When doing a search for something new, especially if I wanted to buy something, it was surprising to find that I would typically look at three or four sites before I found one I could use easily.

    Do I contact the sites I can’t access and take up the issues, actually I’ve given up. I have done it but… well they usually don’t understand or even reply.

    On the other hand, if I find a site I can use then I use it as much as possible; often even if I know I might be able to get things cheaper elsewhere. For example, I find it easier to have my supermarket shopping delivered and the best site I found to use is Ocado, so I use it. I know some things would be cheaper elsewhere but, well, the accessibility of the site and the app make it so easy why would I bother to look elsewhere when my experience tells me I’m likely to find problems.

    The other thing which I find odd is that. my company has been running the Business Disability Forum’s e-check service http://www.e-check-it.com since 2008. In that time, 70% of the sites we’ve reviewed were given a ‘red’ assessment – in other words ‘significant potential commercial, PR or legal risk’. Even more surprising is the low number of organisations who have got such assessments who’ve done anything about it!

    So putting this together: there is a law but it isn’t that successful and many businesses don’t seem to think this is an issue. OK, so what we need to do is find out what this costs businesses and maybe the bottom line will persuade them that website accessibility and usability is important as a business issue.

    Working with the Business Disability Forum and supported by the RNIB and Enterprise Rent-a-Car we’ve just launched the Click-Away Pound Survey which aims to find out what disabled people’s experiences are when shopping online, what they do about problematic sites and the potential costs to business of not thinking about the issue.

    The Click-Away Pound Survey is also being supported by ATEC (Assistive Technology Exhibition and Conference) on 17 May in Oxford where you will also have an opportunity to complete the Survey; just look out for the Click-Away Pound Survey poster and Enterprise staff who will be there to help anyone who wants to add their voice to making things better for disabled internet users.

    If you have a disability give it a go – only takes 10 minutes and will help improve the internet experience for disabled people."

    For more information and to take the survey go to
    http://www.clickawaypound.com 

    accessibility

  • A proud moment...

    A large part of our work for those with a visual impairment, whether that is classed as legally blind or partially sighted, takes place in cooperation with local councils, charities, and institutions. We work with a number of local councils and businesses across the UK, ensuring that they are aware of the technology available to help out any blind or visually impaired employees they may have.

    We have been working closely with Liverpool City Council in this respect, and received this fantastic review from Julie Napier, Project Officer, that we certainly had to share:

    "My experience with sight and sound this year has been brilliant.  It all began when I needed to purchase a new PC.  My old one just wasn't working properly any more, probably due to age, and the rather temperamental operating system.  It was windows vista.

    Basically, the whole process was incredibly easy.  I rang sales and spoke to Karl Brealey.  He asked me exactly what I wanted – and got it for me! I mean, my every whim and requirement's been catered for.  My new pc was built, tailor-made, for me!

    And it doesn't end there! Oh, certainly not! Often, when you buy something, they promise you the earth in after-sales support, but the one thing you want they can't, or won't do.  Not so this time.  I needed some help accessing my new printer's user manual.  Eamon from tech support sent me a link that afternoon.  They'll also remote in to the system with me if I get in a mess, hold my hand as I scrabble in cyberspace, and pull me out again.  I haven't used that part yet, but I'm sure I will one day. 

    Not only did Karl do virtually all the paperwork for me in the sale, he came all the way to my house and set it all up with me.  We had a lovely time, and I was really quite sad when he had to go. 

    I bought my previous PC from a mainstream supplier.  I had to.  My original pc was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm and the modem was melted.  It was an insurance claim.  Maybe for the ordinary, mainstream Mr. and Mrs. normal that's fine.  But if you need a few extra special bits, like support with assistive technology, that's a non-starter for them.  It's not their fault.  They're just not trained for it because they rarely come across it.  Their answer to most things was: "Click on the blue square at the top of the screen, madam."  When "madam" explained that "madam" didn't have enough vision to see the afore mentioned blue square -.  The silence was deafening. 

    I just adore using my new things.  I haven't been able to use the printer as much as I'd like because we need to relocate our wifi router.  We've had a roof leak, and the only place I can get a signal for the printer is in the kitchen.  Printing on the worktop is not, perhaps, the best idea.  No.  I'll wait until the room's all sorted out and redecorated.  That won't be long now.  I've had a little go on it though.  It's ever so fast and the print quality's brilliant. 

    To conclude, then, it's top marks in my book for Sight & Sound.  I won't be going anywhere else in the future.

    'Bye"

    Julie Napier, Project Officer - Liverpool City Council

  • Twitter make images accessible for blind & visually impaired people

    Photos have been at the centre of some of the biggest moments on Twitter. As a core part of the Twitter experience, it’s important that images shared on our platform are accessible to everyone, including those who are visually impaired.

    Starting today, people using iOS and Android apps can add descriptions — also known as alternative text (alt text) — to images in Tweets. With this update, we’re empowering everyone to ensure content shared on Twitter is accessible to the widest possible audience.

    Enable this feature by using the compose image descriptions option in the Twitter app’s accessibility settings. The next time you add an image to a Tweet, each thumbnail in the composer will have an add description button. Tap it to add a description to the image. People who are visually impaired will have access to the description via their assistive technology (e.g., screen readers and braille displays). Descriptions can be up to 420 characters.

    Two screen shots of the composer for Twitter for iOS. The first showing the new Add description button overlayed on a thumbnail in the composer. The second showing the composition of alt text for an image.

    To ensure publishers and third-party clients also have the capability to add alt text to images, we’ve extended our platform products to both the REST API and Twitter Cards. We know this is especially important for specialized Twitter clients for the visually impaired such as EasyChirp,Chicken Nugget, and The Qube.

    We’re excited to empower our customers and publishers to make images on Twitter accessible to the widest possible audience, so everyone can be included in the conversation and experience the biggest moments together.

  • The Perfect Couple – How To Pair Your Braille Display With A Smart Device Using Bluetooth

    Guide by Jackie Brown

    One of the most frequent technology questions I am asked by people is how to pair a Hims U2 or U2 Mini with a Smart device using Bluetooth. Most Braille displays pair the same way, so here’s how you do it.

    Before you start, make sure both devices have Bluetooth turned on. On iOS and Android, go to Settings and Bluetooth to achieve this. On your Braille device, refer to its instruction manual to find out how to turn on Bluetooth if it is not turned on automatically. On the Sense note-takers, use space with dots one-three-five to open the Options menu, and check Bluetooth is turned on there.

    Now go to Utilities, Terminal For Screen Reader, and choose Bluetooth Serial on your Sense note-taker.

    Next, go to Settings, General, Accessibility, VoiceOver, and Braille on iOS. Using Android, you need to have Braille Back or similar app installed which may be downloaded free of charge from the Google Play Store.

    Using the above, pair with the Braille device that is shown by double-tapping to select it. You will be asked for a PIN, and the general combination to use is four zeros. Now double-tap the pair button.

    On the Sense devices, you are required to enter the same PIN using computer Braille, so ensure you do this to complete pairing. Please note that you only have a limited amount of time in which to perform the PIN sequence, so don’t hang about!

    If pairing has been successful, you will hear a small bleep from your Smartphone to indicate your devices have married. Your display should now show what is on the screen of your iOS or Android unit.

    Now close the Settings app and start using your paired equipment. Remember that when using your Sense product, you must always be in Terminal For Screen Reader mode for the device to work with your Smartphone or tablet.

    To exit Terminal For Screen Reader mode, use dots one-three-five-six with space and backspace.

    The next time you want to use a Braille device with your Smartphone or tablet, you just need to go into Braille on iOS or Android and double-tap the Not Connected button to connect again. As your devices are already paired, you should not need to go through the PIN sequence any more.

  • Have you discovered the ground-breaking 'Be My Eyes' App for the Blind?

    After coming across the truly ground breaking application for smart phones, we couldn't not blog about it - it could revolutionise providing aid and support to anyone who is blind, visually impaired, or partially sighted - and for free. Please see the introduction video below for more details:

    https://vimeo.com/113872517

    So what is 'Be My Eyes' for the Blind and Visually Impaired

    Be My Eyes makes life easier for people with a visual impairment by connecting them with sighted helpers through a smartphone app. This allows people with a visual impairment to handle big and small tasks, while the sighted get the joy of helping someone in need in an easy and informal way.

    For you, it only takes a minute to choose the right can from the shelf, look at the expiration date on the milk or find the right thing to eat in the fridge. For the visually impaired, small domestic tasks are big challenges. Be My Eyes is changing that!

    Be My Eyes is the first app on the market, which allows people with a visual impairment to get in contact with sighted helpers via a direct video call. The system is built as a shuffle-call system that forwards the call until answered, establishing a connection to the first available helper.

    Here is a couple of key questions answered about 'Be My Eyes'

    What is Be My Eyes good for?

    I know what you’re thinking – blind people are so badass, they don’t need help! And it’s true! They navigate entire cities on their own, blind! But even though blind people often have four supersonic senses left, they’re not Sherlock Holmes, and they need help once in a while! Be My Eyes provides that help.

    How do I get started?

    Find and download the app from the Apple's app store, follow the instructions in the app to create a profile and add the languages you speak. Then you should be ready to call or receive a call. It is important to note, that you don't need to have the app open or in the background in order to receive a call.

    For more answers to frequently asked questions about the 'Be My Eyes' app please visit their FAQ's page here: http://www.bemyeyes.org/faq/

  • Gaming for Blind and Visually Impaired People

    Here at Sight and Sound we spend a lot of our time travelling up and down the UK linking up with other societies, charities and organisations devoted to helping those who are blind, visually impaired or partially sighted, one of which is Fife Society for the Blind devoted to gaming for blind and visually impaired people, amongst other more general sight loss issues. We are devoted to helping resolve issues in the blind and low-vision communities and introduce an increasing amount of opportunities, for those who suffer from sight loss, in the form of technology, services, and increased awareness for fantastic third party initiatives such as this.

    Gaming for Blind and Visually Impaired People

    This is Monkey Gaming and if you would prefer an audio-only introduction to what Monkey Gaming are all about themselves, then please find it below. Otherwise Monkey Gaming is an innovation network of blind and partially sighted people in Scotland.

    The main aim behind what Monkey Gaming do is to influence the gaming design industry to make games more universally accessible - allowing people with sight loss to engage fully with the immersive gameplay experiences that are available on the market today in the UK for fully sighted people.

    In order to raise awareness around this subject Monkey Gaming are currently producing a series of audio, YouTube podcasts about their experiences of playing mainstream, online and audio games - as well as experiences of beta testing new and exciting games under development and working with unique companies such as KidFriendlySoftware and SomethinElse. These companies specialise in audio games, which are built without graphics, and only using specialised, innovative audio techniques.

     

    gaming for blind and visually impaired people

     

    To find out more about Monkey Gaming and to listen to a number of their aforementioned podcasts, be sure to check out their YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK2KY61372vHU_LQW7t_7-Q

    Or on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/Monkey-Gaming-FSB-1653461388231247

    And on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/monkeygamingfsb

  • The most accomplished Scan and Read Device on the market - the Eye-Pal Ace

    Introducing the most accomplished scan and read device for blind and visually impaired people currently available on the UK market, from Freedom Scientific, the Eye-Pal Ace.

    scan and read device for blind

    The Eye-Pal® Ace is a portable and easy-to-use reader for individuals who have difficulty reading printed text. Read your books, letters, food packaging, and prescriptions with one press of a button. Use our exclusive AudioMinder features to display a large clock, set an alarm, and get an appointment reminder.

    The Eye-Pal Ace has a built-in screen to display photos, magnify small objects, and enlarge text. This battery-powered, lightweight product weighs only 1.6KGs and is Braille-display compatible. The ergonomic design makes it easy to read a book on the couch, go through a menu at a restaurant, fill out a form at the doctor's office, and accomplish a multitude of other tasks. However, if you would like some more in depth information on the Eye-Pal Ace please see our overview below:

    scan and read for blind

    Overview

    The Eye-Pal Ace is an exceptional OCR device, with light-weight ergonomic design, portability and a great ease-of-use, making it a one of the most accurate electronic reader and magnifiers.

    Read a book on the couch; go through a menu at a restaurant; fill out a form at the doctor's office; accomplish a multitude of other tasks.

    A pair of headphones easily plugs in right on the front of the device: keep Eye-Pal Ace reading out loud just to you in a crowded waiting room.

    Stay Comfortable

    Eye-Pal Ace is 1.6KGs light. It has a built-in screen and is battery-powered. It is pleasant to hold in your hands. Using it feels natural – with controller wheels under your thumbs and buttons under your forefingers, you do not need a manual. Add the nearly instantaneous, highly accurate scan-and-read technology, and you are in possession of the electronic reader with no rivals in the industry.

    Keep the Eye-Pal Ace reader as close to your eyes as you feel like: no tugging at wires, no bumping your forehead against camera arms.

    Scan a book or a newspaper and get into an armchair to listen to it, following the large font text on the screen with your eyes. Stay up reading for hours, too comfortable to get up.

    Eye-Pal Ace is versatile.

    Glance at it to enjoy a large, crisp clock display. Set an alarm to alert you to a time or wake you up. Record a reminder for an appointment; or a few, for that matter. Share the uploaded photos like you would with a photo album.

    Come to realize that everything you need to keep track of your daily schedule is within one electronic companion device – Eye-Pal Ace.

    When you have a minute, have Eye-Pal Ace open up one of the books you have saved: Eye-Pal Ace will continue reading from where you left off the last time.

    Stay Independent

    Take Eye-Pal Ace with you wherever you could use a reader.

    A form to read and sign? No problem! Place the form under the Eye-Pal Ace's camera “eyes” and press the scan button. Eye-Pal Ace will immediately begin reading the form out loud, displaying and highlighting the magnified text as it is being read (plug in a pair of headphones, so that no one hears your Eye-Pal Ace but you). Once done reading, place the last page under the Eye-Pal Ace's camera “eyes” again and choose the Live Magnification mode. See the signature line clearly and sign the document with confidence.

    With no wires, cables or stick-out arms, with its natural feel and sleek design, Eye-Pal Ace is the one cool gadget to use at home and take along when on the go.

    Take a closer look at the Eye-Pal Ace, book a demonstration and more at the Sight and Sound Online Shop: http://www.sightandsound.co.uk/shop/products.php?product=Freedom-Scientific-Eye%252dPal-Ace

  • A range of Christmas gift ideas for Blind or Visually Impaired Children

    Children love toys of every shape and size, there’s no doubt about it.  But not all children are alike and not all kids like the same things.  When buying a gift for any child, it’s important to consider if the child will enjoy the gift. The same holds true when buying a gift for a blind or visually impaired child. Fortunately, there is an amazing array of toys that have been specially designed or modified for sight challenged children so that they are able to enjoy many of the same toys as those who were blessed with good vision. There are also many popular toys that both blind and sighted children enjoy.

    Check out these 10 great toys for visually impaired or blind children:

    1. Let’s Rock Elmo: First off, who doesn't love Elmo! Let’s Rock Elmo is an interactive toy that sings and plays music. The toy comes with various instruments that Elmo and the children can play together.  Let’s Rock Elmo does not have to be purchased through a specialty store and can be purchased at most large retailers.  Make sure to install the batteries before you give the toy to the child so that they can start playing with it immediately.
    2. Braille Learning Doll: The Braille Learning Doll is a specialty doll that is available through several different vendors, although it is very hard to find in the UK. There are 6 buttons on the stomach of the doll which allows the child to make all braille letters.  This is an educational gift that will help the child learn Braille.
    3. Board games: A company called Maxi Aids offers a large line of standard board games that have been modified to work for visually impaired or blind children.  Some of the games include Checkers games that have high contrast colour pieces, Scrabble games that have large print tiles and boards, and Monopoly that comes in a large print edition. Since both sight and blind people can play these games, it can help foster inclusion.
    4. Bop It/Bop It XT: Bop It is a fantastic game that a child can play alone or with friends.  The Bop It gives verbal commands that tell you to bop it, twist it, pull it and shake it.  Once the child knows where the different parts of the game are they should be able to play by listening to the verbal cues.  There are many different games within the Bop It toy and there are different levels of play as well.  This is a great game for the whole family.
    5. Dolls: If you buy a doll, make sure that it plays to more than one sense.  There are dolls that talk and play music that a blind child may enjoy.  Dolls with texture can be great for visually impaired children too. Look for clothes that have patches or embroidery on them so that the child can tell the difference between her dolls and doll accessories.
    6. Stuffed animals: Everyone loves a nice soft stuffed animal to hug, but to make this toy even better for a sight challenged child you may want it to engage more senses.  Choosing different types of stuffed toys, like ones stuffed with beans, crinkly paper and batting can help engage additional senses.  The texture of the animal is important too.  Maybe it’s a lion and it has a long haired fuzzy mane, soft fur on the back, and a long tail.  All of those things will make the toy more fun for a sight challenged child.
    7. Braille games: Maxi-Aids also makes card games like Uno, Phase 10 and Dominos that all come equipped with Braille cards. While the child can often feel how many dots are on a domino they can’t tell what color it is without some help from the Braille dots.
    8. Audio Dart Master: This dart game has a textured board that the blind or visually impaired child can feel prior to play.  The rest of the game is played by audio commands.  The board calls out the player’s name and score, and will even give off a signal to help a sight challenged player aim for the bulls-eye.  It’s available at audiodartmaster.com.
    9. Wikkistix: This is a very useful gift because it’s a toy, a craft, and is useful for marking things for sight challenged kids.  Wikkistix are sticky string-like sticks that come in various colours and can be bent and wound around anything.  Kids can make creatures to play with or create greeting cards.  The Wikkistix can even be used to teach shapes and to label things like a keyboard. Although available from their USA based website, Wikkistix can also be found in most large UK retailers such as Argos.
    10. Rib-it-Ball: Someone was really thinking when they created the Rib-it-Ball.  The ball has sections of bright colours so it’s easier to see. The ribs stick out so that it’s easy to catch and the ribs crinkle like paper so it’s easy to hear when it’s being thrown to you.  This ball will help with muscle control and hand/eye coordination - also available on Amazon.

    One of the most important things you can do when picking a gift is to find out what the child enjoys.  Keep these toys in mind the next time you are on the hunt for the best gift for a blind or visually impaired child in your life.

  • Commission proposes to make products and services more accessible to blind & disabled persons

    The European Commission on Wednesday (02.12.15) proposed a European Accessibility Act, which will set common accessibility requirements for certain key products and services that will help people with disabilities at EU level to participate fully in society.

    The products and services covered have been carefully selected in consultation with citizens and civil society organisations as well as businesses. They include:

    • ATMs and banking services,
    • PCs,
    • telephones and TV equipment,
    • telephony and audiovisual services,
    • transport,
    • e-books and e-commerce.

    The proposal for a Directive aims to improve the functioning of the internal market, making it easier for companies to provide accessible products and services across borders. Common accessibility requirements will also apply in the frame of EU procurement rules and for the use of EU funds. The initiative will stimulate innovation and increase the offer of accessible products and services for the around 80 million persons with disabilities in the EU.

    Attention has been paid to ensure proportionality of the requirements, in particular for small and micro-enterprises. A common sense clause avoids that accessibility requirements would impose a disproportionate burden and for micro-enterprises lighter compliance measures are foreseen. Experience shows that in most cases it makes good business sense to provide accessible products, in particular when accessibility is foreseen at the design phase.

    The European Accessibility Act will make it easier for producers and service providers to export products and services that comply with the EU requirements, since they won't need to adjust to divergent and often contradictory national rules. In particular, this will help small business to take full advantage of the EU market.

    As a consequence, people with disabilities will benefit from a greater supply of accessible products and services at more competitive prices. The improved offer can also benefit older citizens with similar needs for accessibility, as well as others in the wider public facing challenges linked to

    • an accident,
    • a temporary illness,
    • a difficult environment such as low light or high noise.

    This will help increase active participation in society, including in education and in employment, as well as autonomy and mobility opportunities.

    Please contact us for more information.

  • We team up with Fujitsu and the RNIB to deliver the most affordable solution

    We have collaborated with Business Disability Forum Partner Fujitsu alongside Freedom Scientific and the RNIB to develop a range of affordably priced accessible computers for blind and partially sighted users.

    With MAGic screen magnification or JAWS (Job Access With Speech) software pre-installed, the computers – which include a range of Fujitsu desktops, all-in-one PCs and laptops, are now available exclusively through the RNIB website and online shop.

    Laptops for the blind

    As the UK’s leading provider of hardware and software for blind and partially sighted people, we build the computers to customer specifications and deliver to the customer on behalf of RNIB.

    Glenn Tookey, CEO of Sight and Sound Technology, said:

    “We’re really pleased to be working together with RNIB and Freedom Scientific to make assistive technology more affordable. RNIB estimates that there are over 2 million people living with sight loss in the UK and it’s great that these computers assistive technology configured at little more than the cost of a standard machine. In some cases the investment is even less than the cost of the assistive technology software itself.”

    This scheme also carries optional extras, including Microsoft Office and an extended warranty. In addition, technical support from Sight and Sound Technology is also available for one or two years through RNIB or with Sight and Sound Technology directly. The range includes 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch laptops, touchscreen and standard all-in-one machines as well as desktops with 19” monitors.

    Glenn added: “These computers are specifically built to suit the needs of individual users, giving them the ability to confidently access online information, chat or catch up with the latest world news.”

    RNIB is currently offering the range at a special introductory price and to further support the program, RNIB volunteers are available to help users set up their new computer in their home if required.

    For more information or to purchase a computer, visit: http://shop.rnib.org.uk/

    For more information about Fujitsu, visit: http://www.fujitsu.com/uk/

  • Both a Braille Display & a Braille Keyboard in One - It's pretty Smart!

    Slim, sleek and beautiful, the Smart Beetle’s 14 cell refreshable braille is the perfect complement to your smartphone or tablet for Braille access on the go. Small enough to hold in your hand, operate up to 6 devices at once. Use it as a traditional Braille display, or use the Braille keyboard like a QWERTY keyboard with our patented Bluetooth keyboard function.

    Ultra-Portable 14-Cell Braille Display with 5 Simultaneous Bluetooth Connections.

    The Smart Beetle is a 14-cell Braille display that brings the world to your  fingertips. It’s the lightest, most portable Braille display available. Take it with you to school, to work or on vacation and have reliable, discrete access to all of your mobile devices and personal computer  systems.

    Five Simultaneous Bluetooth Connections!

    Save time and frustration by pairing up to 6 devices (5 Bluetooth + 1 USB) to your Smart Beetle simultaneously. Connect to your phone, tablet, work computer, home computer and more — No unnecessary pairing or re-pairing  to your Bluetooth devices required. Smart Beetle remembers five Bluetooth devices and offers a USB 2.0 connection for a sixth.

    Compatible with Popular Screen Readers

    Smart Beetle will connect as a Braille terminal with screen readers including JAWS, Window-Eyes, SuperNova, System Access, Voice- Over for Mac and iOS, BrailleBack for Android, Mobile Speak, and TALKS. Using Braille and speech together provides even more options for you to navigate various document types and formats.

    Revolutionary Bluetooth Keyboard

    Use the Smart Beetle’s Perkins-style keyboard to emulate all the functions of a QWERTY keyboard. This eliminates translation problems with mobile devices and gets rid of the sluggishness experienced with other Braille displays and mobile devices.

    Long-lasting Battery and Helpful Audio Prompts

    Stay connected via Bluetooth for up to 24 hours without the need to recharge. For even longer run time, connect via USB and enjoy all the great features of Smart Beetle while simultaneously charging the unit. Convenient audio prompts let you know when Smart Beetle powers on, the status of Bluetooth connections and more.

    Take a look at the Smart Beetle in the Sight and Sound Shop here: http://www.sightandsound.co.uk/shop/products.php?product=Smart-Beetle

    Smart Beetle Image

  • Focus Bluetooth Braille Displays and Windows 10

    POST UPDATE:

    With the latest Microsoft update for Windows 10, Microsoft have resolved the Windows 10 Bluetooth Stack issue which resulted in braille displays not connecting.  If you are running JAWS and a Bluetooth braille display on Windows 10, please ensure that you have applied the latest Windows Update.

    PREVIOUS POST:

    Windows 10 and Bluetooth connectivity is failing. Thus, JAWS cannot detect the Focus Blue braille displays in Windows 10 when attempting to connect using Bluetooth. If the Show Braille Load Error setting in the JAWS braille Basic Settings dialog box is enabled, you will also get a message indicating the display could not be found. Microsoft has stated that the solution will be available in the next service release of Windows 10, anticipated at the end of October 2015. Until then, it is recommended that users should connect your Focus braille display using a USB cable.

  • A touching story about a blind man called David

    We have a very touching customer story to share with you courtesy of photographer Jim Mortram. Jim is a very close friend of David's and since David was the victim of a bicycling accident and lost his sight, Jim has helped David get his life back on track and regain his independence in a variety of ways.

    Here at Sight and Sound Technology our soul mission is to help people like David regain that independence that all of us, as human beings, hold so dear. We have found a careful mix of technology and training is the key to achieving this. When Jim brought David's story to our attention we were keen to help out, providing David with a SARA scanning machine and technical support to make sure it all runs smoothly and David understand's how to use his new machine.

    This was 2 years ago, below you can read Jim's touching words which were so successful in raising the money needed for a SARA:

    "I've been documenting David since he was blinded as a result of a freak bicycling accident. Before the accident robbed him of his sight (David is 100% blind, zero light perception) he was an avid collector of books and an avid reader. His rooms are filled with books gathering dust, their pages filled with adventures, lives, stories and descriptions of visions and vistas that David is unable to now experience.

    In David's words, "There’s nothing the same, if I’d been able to see a little after the accident I might have been able to access things but I can’t. I’m so cut off from the world, it’s just like being a ghost floating through the world and the only time you know you’re not a ghost is if you bang into something and it hurts and then you know you’re real as the pain feels real.

    Blind man David looking at his new SARA Setting up the SARA

    Together we can raise the money required to purchase a SARA - Scanning and reading appliance; a device designed solely for those affected with blindness and one able to be used right of of the box. The SARA will allow David to place his books or any other printed material upon it and then convert the printed text to audio that David will be able to hear. From being unable to read to able to read any printed material in 5 minutes.

    David's response to hearing the SARA for the very first time, “Having stories read out to me, I can visualise things in my mind and get new input. I can read books I have never read before, I feel like a person again.”

    You can watch a video of David explaining his blindness and why the SARA is of such importance here:

    Source: Postcards from the black : HopeMob : Fundraiser for David from J A Mortram on Vimeo.

     

    Now 2 years on from David receiving his first ever piece of technology for the blind and visually impaired, the SARA couldn't be a bigger part of David's life. As David was a great lover of books and reading prior to his loss of vision, the SARA has enabled him to independently read what he wants, when he wants - without having to rely on another person.

    The SARA comes with a standard 2 year warranty and when this ran out David became very worried, as the machine has become such a important part of his life. This is when Jim came back to us once again, this time not trying to raise money for a brand new machine, but an extended warranty. Jim contacted us through our Facebook page and as soon as we heard David's story we wanted to help.

    We have helped David out with an extended warranty and technical support to make sure he is well supported in case anything on the technology does go wrong. We would like to thank Jim Mortram for telling David's story and bringing to us, also for providing us with permissions to use his words, photographs, and video. For us here at Sight and Sound, to hear how much a piece of our technology has helped someone; and to see such happiness in their face as a result - certainly makes it all worth it.

    blind man, David, with SARA smiling David hearing his SARA for the very first time

    Source: Jim Mortram: http://smalltowninertia.co.uk/market-town-david-the-long-goodbye/

  • A word of thanks...

    This week we received a fantastic note from a long standing customer, Tolga Karatas. We have been helping Tolga over the course of 10 years with many different solutions to aid him in his everyday life, and of course providing a support line for when these bits of technology aren't working as they should be - or just in case a bit of guidance is needed.

    Here at Sight and Sound Technology we pride ourselves on providing the best support and after sales care for all of our technological products. So when we receive a message such as this, from a long standing customer, it makes us all here very happy as we feel we have certainly achieved our target.

    Hello,

    I would like the following item to be included in the news, I have been working with Sight and Sound for over 10 years, and I am really happy with the service I've received.

    I would like to especially like to thank the technical support Team, especially, Will Burton, who has been a great help to me over the last 10 years.

    Many Thanks,

    Tolga.

    Thanks you blind & visually impaired

  • It's all Kicking Off at the ISBA Blind Football European Championships!

    This weekend (22nd August, 2015) the ISBA Blind Football European Championships will be kicking off at the RNC in Hereford, England. The Championships are heating up to be a highly competitive affair, with reigning European champions, Spain, returning to defend their title - as well as strong teams from both France & Germany who are both fancied as potential favourites for this years trophy. There are 10 teams from 10 different countries involved in the Championships including hosts, England,  as well as Spain, Germany, France, Turkey, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Poland, Russia and Turkey.

    blind football championships

    Sight and Sound are very proud to be one of the main sponsors of the Championships alongside other main sponsors such as Waitrose, and the English Football Association.

    So what is Blind Football?

    Blind football is known as B1, with players considered to have no sight. The classifications B2 and B3 relate to the version of the game played by those with partial sight. With the exception of the goalkeeper, B1 players wear eye patches and blindfolds during the games.

    Players locate the ball, which contains a bell or ballbearings, purely by sound. They are directed around the pitch by other players, the manager, a shooting assistant behind the goal and the goalkeeper.

    While the ball is in play the players require complete silence from spectators. This heightens the tension of the game and inevitably results in an explosion of noise when a goal is scored.

    There are no offside rules in the game, and the pitch is surrounded by boards. Each half lasts for 25 minutes, though with the clock stopping whenever the ball goes out of play matches can last for significantly longer than 50 minutes.

    For more information please visit: http://www.rnc.ac.uk/blindeuros/

    How can I get involved and show support for my Team? 

    By visiting this link you can purchase tickets for any of the upcoming games at the Blind Football European Championships, scheduled to kick off this weekend (22nd August) at 11.30AM: http://tickets.rncb.ac.uk/ 

    Tickets are very reasonably priced at £5 each, and the RNC also have an offer on at the moment where if you buy 3 tickets you get 1 more for free! Once you have your tickets, just turn up on the day of your match and show your support for your country!

    Showing our support...

    Here at Sight and Sound Technology our focus is to bring useful and innovative technology to the UK market for the blind and visually impaired, ensuring that our technological products improve the quality of life, and maintain the independence that is quite often lost with sight loss. 

    On show at the RNC during the Blind Football European Championships will be a number of our latest computer systems, specifically designed for either those with no sight or partial sight. These all new computers are available through the RNIB and you can find out more about them here: http://shop.rnib.org.uk/home-and-leisure/electronics/accessible-computers.html

    Blind football computer systems

    In addition, new FREE technology for the blind - Touch Maps by VOICEYE will be in place at the RNC. Our team recently went over to install the new mapping system at the Royal National College and so long as you have the VOICEYE app on your smart phone - you too will be able to experience Touch Maps for the first time when you arrive in the main building.

    We wrote a more in depth article on Touch Maps from VOICEYE here: http://www.sightandsound.co.uk/p/mobile-touch-map-for-the-blind-from-voiceye/

    You can download the the VOICEYE application for your smart phone from either the Apple Store or the Google Store for Android phones:

    Apple Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/voiceye/id496389982?mt=8

    Google Store (Android): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.voiceye.reader.access&hl=en

     

     

     

  • All At The Press of a Button: A review of the HIMS Blaze ET by Jackie Brown

    My thanks to Sight and Sound Technology for loaning me the Blaze ET for the purpose of this review.

    In 2014, Hims released the Blaze EZ multi-player. This year, however, they have incorporated many of the features of that device into the Blaze ET, but with added functionality.

     

    WHAT’S IN THE BOX

    The package contains a Blaze ET, rechargeable battery, AC adapter, USB charging cable that also acts as the connection to a computer, USB gender adapter, carry pouch, earbuds, Braille quick start guide, and documentation CD.

    blaze et

     

    DESCRIPTION OF BLAZE ET

    Blaze ET is black in colour with primarily silver contrasting buttons. The unit is about the size of a Smartphone only thicker: 59.3mm wide, 116.86mm long, and 16.4mm deep, weighing 118g.

    Holding the unit in your hand, the speakers are at the top of the ET with a square recessed red button between them. This is the power/time button. A long press turns the Blaze ET on or off. A short press tells you the current time, even when the unit is off. Below the speakers are three buttons. From left to right, they are Info, Home, and OCR.

    Moving down the face of the ET, there are four arrow keys with a round button in the middle. Use these keys to navigate the various menus on the unit, and press the circular button in the middle to accept a command.

    Next, there are three colour coded buttons which, going from left to right, are Cancel (red,) Menu (blue,) and Review (green.) Use the cancel key to go back a level in a menu, or stop an action. The menu button opens a dialog box within applications, while the review key allows you to read back what you have entered in a text field.

    A normal telephone-style keypad occupies the remainder of the face of the ET, with a dot on number five for easy identification.

    At the very bottom edge on the face of the unit are two LED indicators which show charging status and when the internal microphone is in use.

    On the left side of the ET are three buttons. The top one controls the volume, speed and pitch of the TTS engine. When you select volume, for example, the other two buttons will increase or decrease the volume. Similarly, select pitch or speed of the voice, and the two buttons below will increase or decrease these elements.

    Below these three buttons is an SD card slot allowing for extra memory of up to 32gb. Internal memory is 12gb.

    The right side of the Blaze ET has two keys. The top one is the record button. Press it once quickly to ascertain a list of any previously made recordings. A long press of this button activates record mode.

    A slide switch about halfway down the right side of the ET allows you to lock the unit to avoid accidental presses. Push the switch down to lock ET, or push it up to unlock it.

    At the bottom edge of the Blaze ET are three ports. From left to right, these are 3.5mm headphone socket, micro USB port for charging the unit, and 3.5mm stereo microphone socket. The micro USB port enables you to connect ET to your computer, and to an external CD or thumb drive as well. You can use the external microphone socket as a line-in facility.

    There is a small hole at the very top edge of the ET through which a lanyard can be fitted.

    On the rear of the ET is the camera lens and a battery cover. Push down on the cover to remove it and insert the Lithium Polymer cell, giving you up to 11.5 hours play on a full charge.

     

    EXPLORING THE FEATURES OF BLAZE ET

    Power on the Blaze ET by pressing and holding down the square recessed button between the speaker grilles on the front of the machine for roughly two seconds. The unit emits a familiar musical chime. You can now explore what Blaze ET has to offer by using the up and down arrow keys, and activating an item by pressing the circular button in the middle. Choose from File Manager, Media Player, Book Reader, Radio, OCR, Webradio, Podcasts, Library Services, Utilities, External Apps, and Options.

    Within Utilities, there are some interesting features such as Colour Reader, Memo, Calculator, Sense Dictionary (optional,) Alarm, Sleep Timer, and the ability to update the Blaze ET firmware.

    The Options menu allows you to adjust recording and voice settings, turn on the Bluetooth feature and pair devices like a headset, set time and date, or connect to a wireless network.

    The Blaze ET has a nice physical keyboard layout making it easy to navigate to its many features. You can either use the up and down arrows to do this, or press a defined key on the telephone-style keypad that takes you directly to an application. You can, for example, go straight to Webradio by pressing number five on the keypad instead of arrowing through the main menu to find it, or to Memo by pressing number seven.

    A dedicated OCR button drops you into the application where you can take pictures of documents and packaging to identify them. You can turn the flash on and off, depending on the results you are getting, and you can set the unit to scan multiple pages, useful if you are working with a book.

    The camera is also used for Colour Reader where you simply hold the ET over a garment and snap to recognise it.

    Bookworms will find all the usual DAISY navigation features available on Blaze ET. There are also many supported file types including DOC, DOCX, TXT, RTF, and HTML.

     

    USING BLAZE ET

    I found setting up Blaze ET very straightforward. I was able to key in my WiFi password, adjust speed, pitch and volume easily, and set time and date without difficulty.

    Adding music and playing it was a breeze, and making recordings was also very simple once I had adjusted its settings accordingly,.

    In comparing the Blaze ET OCR feature with the K-NFB Reader app on my iPhone 6, I believe that the latter is much faster and more accurate. But the Hims devices are the only multi-players to offer this feature, and it is an extremely useful one if you want an all-rounder on the go.

    Another useful feature unique to the Blaze ET is Skype. While I initially had difficulty in entering my Skype name due to a problem that is to be fixed in the next firmware release, I was eventually able to sign in, make a Skype call, and use the interface efficiently. So sitting down in the comfort of your armchair away from the computer holding Blaze ET in your hand like a telephone to Skype is perfectly feasible.

    The Collins Dictionary has limitations at present. I could enter words to ascertain their meaning, but when I deliberately entered an incorrect spelling, the search result came back with nothing found, and no list to allow me to choose the correct spelling. Perhaps this is something Hims could add in the future?

    Due to changes by the BBC, none of the BBC stations would work when I searched for them in the Webradio application. Other manufacturers of specialist players like HumanWare and Plexter have rectified this problem on their units, so perhaps this is another issue Hims could address in the near future?

     

    CONCLUSION AND PRICING

    If you want an all-in-one device that lets you scan documentation, identify colours, listen to music, books and podcasts, stream radio stations and even use Skype, then the Blaze ET is at your disposal. With a choice of UK or US Acapella TTS voices, connectivity options such as Bluetooth and WiFi, and the ability to set options for your recordings, Blaze ET meets most needs.

    I had major reservations about aspects of Blaze EZ when I had some hands-on with it last year. But the ET offers greater navigation and flexibility thanks to its intuitive telephone-style keypad. Features such as Sense Dictionary (optional) and Colour Reader are welcome additions, while improvements to Webradio and Podcasts make it a real competitor.

    An additional accessory pack offers a stand on which to place The Blaze ET for scanning, charging cradle, spare battery and charger. And Sense Dictionary is an add-on useful for students and writers alike.

    blaze et 2

    Blaze ET is distributed in the UK by Sight and Sound Technology, 01604 798070,

    www.sightandsound.co.uk.

    It will set you back £525.00 under VAT exemption. The accessory pack is priced at £97.00. And the Sense Dictionary add-on costs £25.00.

    Blaze ET is an expensive piece of kit, so be sure to request a demonstration for some hands-on before you buy. But with OCR, music and books galore, colour identifier and wireless connectivity, Blaze ET is a one stop shop, all at the press of a button!

  • Accessible Computers, but not only for those with Sight Loss...

    Here at Sight and Sound we make it our mission to build from the ground up and modify existing technology, ensuring that it is accessible to those who cannot interact with the devices in the same way as an entirely able bodied person could.

    In some cases, such as for the blind, we often design bespoke technological solutions - as altering already established technology doesn't usually provide the best solution. A great example of this is the computers we have designed from the ground up for the blind and the visually impaired, alongside the RNIB.

    More recently our team in the workshop engineered a fantastic solution for an elderly customer who struggled with arthritis amongst other things, which meant operating a computer became difficult - specifically pressing the buttons to turn the computer on and off (which on most computer systems are quite small and hard to press). When this problem was presented to our guys in the workshop, it would have been very easy to say, "Ok, well we will try and find the computer system with this biggest buttons" - however, this wouldn't have solved the customers problem.

    Accessible Computers

    Instead, workshop engineers James Oliver and Josh Drinnan (pictured above) wired in a completely new way of turning the computer on and off, through the headphone port on the front of the computer. The result is a very visible and large, easy to press button to turn the computer on and and off, wired safely into the new system through the headphone port so there is no way the button can be plugged in anywhere else - and potentially cause damage to the system. The computer works perfectly and the customer was thrilled with the solution the guys came up with.

    We are very proud of the team in the workshop for taking the initiative and engineering this solution and it really just goes to show, like everyone here at Sight and Sound, how much they care. If you are interested in your own bespoke accessible computer system, or would perhaps just like to ask us a few questions about one - then please do not hesitate to give us a call on 01604 798070.

  • Introducing: Computers for the Blind & Visually Impaired

    This week Sight and Sound and the RNIB have unveiled a new range of Fujitsu Windows PCs (computers for the blind and visually impaired) that come with screen enlarging and speech functions built in.

    Comprising of laptops, standard desktops and all in one PCs, each model in the new RNIB-branded range comes with either JAWS (Job Access With Speech) and MAGic screen magnification software for blind and partially sighted users. All units also come with DAISY e-book software installed.

    These functions can be easily toggled, making them suitable for other family members to use as well. The RNIB worked with Freedom Scientific, makers of JAWS and MAGic and Sight and Sound Technology when developing the custom PCs.

    Steve Tyler, the RNIB’s head of solutions, strategy and planning, said: "We're delighted to announce the launch of the RNIB accessible computers. Our aim was to provide blind and partially sighted people with easy access to technology, at an affordable price.

    "Working on this exciting project with Sight and Sound and Freedom Scientific demonstrates a commitment to bring accessible packages to our customers. We hope these computers will open up a world of online shopping, chat, news and information to people with sight loss."

    PCs with JAWS are typically more expensive than MAGic-equipped versions. The entry-level 15.6-inch laptop (1.70 GHz dual-core, 4GB RAM, 15.6-inch 1,366 x 768 display) costs £849 with JAWS and £673 with MAGic.

    The RNIB range consists of two laptops - a 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch edition - a tower with a 19-inch monitor and two all in one PCs, with standard and touchscreen displays respectively. Full prices and specs for all the models can be found on the RNIB’s site.

    The new PCs launch at a time where broadcasters, tech companies and the RNIB continue to look at ways to make platforms and services more accessible. Sky has recently committed to including subtitles on most of its on-demand content by Summer 2016, while the RNIB has recently finished trials its long-awaited audio description mobile app.

    This will allow your phone to listen in to a range of services including Netflix, Now TV and BBC iPlayer and deliver audio descriptions. The RNIB has also worked with British Gas to bring voice commands to Hive, letting users change the temperature with their voice

  • A review of the Braille Sense U2 Mini, by Julie Roadway

    When I first looked at the U2 Mini, I was struck by how tiny and portable it was. As someone who regularly has to take notes when out and about, the thought of having a note taker that I could easily slip in a handbag struck me as ideal. The ability to lock the keyboard eliminated accidental pressing of keys when carrying the unit, a feature I really like.

    braille sense u2 mini in case

    I felt the Braille display and was impressed by how clear and sharp the quality of the Braille was, and liked the fact I could silence speech on the go, making discreet typing in a meeting possible.

    The function keys on the top makes shortcuts to menus very easy, and the ability to manipulate files, create folders, and save them to an SD card for backing up purposes is a facility I regularly make use of.

    Editing text is very straight forward, and highlighting large blocks of text for deletion or copying I learnt to do very quickly.

    Dropbox is a feature I use every day, because it makes interacting with the pc easy, enabling me to share files between that and the U2 Mini.

    Checking e-mails on the go is very useful, and the "Google search" facility is a godsend.

    Internet access is vital for me, and the ability to copy text from the web and save it to files is invaluable. An excellent example of this was when downloading and copying the HIMS manual for the Smart Beetle and the U2 Mini and saving these manuals in separate files for later reference.

    The quietness of the keys when typing makes this a very unobtrusive tool when out and about, and the on-board help was excellent when learning the  many functions of the unit.

    As an iPhone user, the terminal clipboard helps me to manipulate text before sending it to my phone or iPad, thus avoiding many of the translation problems with Apple and Braille.

    Braille sense u2 mini

    The battery life is ideal for what I need; I either just charge the unit up over night or insert the spare battery that I charge in advance.

    I like the speech voice on the unit, and sometimes use it to rapidly read long documents or when using the web.

    When on a bus or sitting in a waiting room, to kill time, I listen to my daisy books using the media functions of the unit, and appreciate reading the horror and thriller books I enjoy in such a convenient way.

    I saved very hard for this little device, and I am glad I did! I would highly recommend it as a very effective personal assistant always to hand, always at your fingertips and I know I couldn't do without it now.

    I own a Braille Note Apex but much prefer my Mini.

    I received excellent help from Sight and Sound on the couple of occasions I telephoned Tech Support, and I definitely made the right choice when purchasing the U2 Mini.

     

  • Useful Tips and Tricks For Your HIMS U2 Experience

    No, I am not referring to Irish rockers U2, I am instead sharing some “how to” hints on the Hims U2 and U2 Mini Braille note-takers. So keep these commands handy for future reference …

    Braille Sense U2

    One of the many useful features of the Hims line of products is the ability to backup or restore your settings if the machine ever needs to be reset to factory default, or it is updated with the latest firmware. Here are a couple of useful tips to help you in this situation.

    It is possible to make a backup of all the settings you prefer on your machine, for example, start-up tune, power saving and voice all turned off, or Bluetooth and WiFi turned on. So before you perform a complete or hard reset, or update your device to the latest firmware, follow these easy steps.

    1. From the main menu, choose Settings, then Backup/Restore Personalised Settings.
    2. Next, tab to the Select All button and press enter.
    3. Now tab once to the Backup button and press enter.

    All your personalised settings on the machine will now be saved.

    The next time your U2 has had a factory reset, or the firmware updated, it is very simple to restore all those settings you had previously, and here’s how.

    1. As before, from the main menu, select Settings, then Backup/Restore Personalised Settings.
    2. Tab to the Select All button and press enter.
    3. Now tab to the Restore button and press enter.
    4. At this point, the FlashDisk, or internal storage, is displayed. Press the space-bar to select it, noting the asterisk that indicates you have done so.

    By pressing enter, you will soon see that your machine has restored all the settings you had before, and is a much quicker way than going through each setting to make your choice.

    Another very useful feature of the U2 family is the ability to select individual files in a folder to copy or move them in one go. For example, if you want to copy the second file in a list, then the fourth, then the seventh to the clipboard, you can do so by pressing the space-bar to highlight each file you want to copy or move. You can determine the files you have selected because an asterisk appears before each one. When you have made your selection, simply use dots one-four with the enter key to copy them to the clipboard, or dots one-three-four-six to cut. Now go to the folder where you want to move the files, and press dots one-two-three-six with enter to paste them. Job done!

    Finally, 10 quick commands you can use from the main menu of the device to speedily ascertain information, or perform actions directly. This is not an exhaustive list of shortcuts, but they are productive.

    1. Dots one-two-three-six with space: provides the build number of your firmware.
    2. Dots one-three-four-five with space: gives the current network status of your unit.
    3. Dots one-two-five with space: offers a list of commonly used commands on the U2.
    4. Dots one-two-four-five with space: toggles between contracted, uncontracted and computer Braille grades.
    5. Dots two-four with space: tells you the remaining storage on your FlashDisk.
    6. Dots two-four-five-six with space: opens the address bar to type in an URL.
    7. Dots one-six with space: tells you the battery status.
    8. Dots two-three-four-five with space: gives the current time.
    9. Dots two-four-five with space: brings up the sleep timer.
    10. Dots one-three-five with space: opens the Options menu within Settings.

    Guest Blogged by Jackie Brown

  • Sight Village Birmingham: What to Expect...

    With the UK's largest blind and low vision exhibition, Sight Village Birmingham, just around the corner - we thought it would be useful to put together a short blog on what sorts of new technology, software, and events you can expect to see at the upcoming show.

    The 2015 exhibition will be taking place Tuesday 14th July and Wednesday 15th July – doors open at 10am and close at 3pm, and as with previous years it will be taking place at New Bingley Hall. Entry as always is free.

     

    The Sight and Sound Technology Workshop

    This year, within the Sight and Sound Technology Zone we will have a live workshop in action ready to take a look at any of your broken or faulty hardware. So if it has not been working properly, or perhaps you would just like to learn more about the product and what else you can do with it - bring it down to the Sight and Sound Technology Workshop at Sight Village Birmingham, and so long as we support it we will do our best to help!

    sight and sound technology zone photo from sight village 2014

    VOICEYE Maps ready for lift off! 

    You may have already read our latest blog on VOICEYE Touch Maps, however to summarise it is a great new mobile software which can be downloaded for free from either the App Store or from Google Play - and acts as a touch map for the blind and visually impaired, allowing them to navigate around the interior of the mapped building independently and effectively.

    We will have VOICEYE Touch Maps in action and ready for you to use at Sight Village Birmingham, quite simply download the app prior to your attendance, and when you arrive through the doors of the New Bingley Hall your phone will audibly prompt you that a map of the area is available.

    An Image of How Touch Maps Works

    The Sight and Sound Prize Draw

    As always we will be bringing back the Sight and Sound Prize draw! At each Sight Village we offer all visitors to our stand the opportunity to enter our prize draw and win a variety of hardware or software solutions designed specifically for the blind and visually impaired.

    This year once again you will have the choice of winning either a Ruby HD (the market leading portable electronic magnifier), a copy of Zoomtext Magnifier, Zoomtext Reader, Magic Screen Magnifier, Jaws Screen Reader, or Kurzweil. If you already have this software we will offer you a free upgrade or an SMA which will entitle you to the next upgrade when it is due to come out!

    the sight and sound prize draw

    Introducing the Topaz PHD, from Freedom Scientific

    Sight and Sound will exclusively have the latest new hardware from Freedom Scientific available for you to get your hands on at Sight Village Birmingham - The Topaz PHD.

    The New Topaz PHD

    The lightweight TOPAZ® PHD offers the comfort and productivity features of a desktop video magnifier but folds away like a laptop. With auto-focus, a wide magnification range, intuitive controls, five default and 27 customisable high-contrast colour modes, and adjustable reading lines and masks, the new TOPAZ PHD offers the freedom to independently read and view the details that matter in the home, office, classroom, or on the go.

    Come and have a play with the Topaz PHD and a variety of other software and hardware designed specifically for the blind and visually impaired, only at the Sight and Sound stand.

     

    Register for Sight Village Birmingham 2015

    And of course if you are yet to pre-register for Sight Village Birmingham 2015, you can do that here via the QAC website: www.sightvillage.co.uk

    Or if you would like any more information, please do not hesitate to give us a call on 01604 798070 or get in contact.

  • Upcoming: Sight Village, Birmingham

    Every year, a large number of visitors come to the Sight Village exhibitions to find out more about the latest technology, equipment and support services available to people who are blind or partially-sighted. If you or a family member have a visual impairment it could be of great help to visit the show. Also welcome are a wide range of professionals that support people with visual impairments and businesses looking to better meet the needs of their employees and customers.

    Sight Village in Birmingham, the largest Sight Village gathering of the year, is fast approaching. The 2015 exhibition will be taking place Tuesday 14th July and Wednesday 15th July - doors open at 10am and close at 3pm, and as with previous years it will be taking place at New Bingley Hall. Entry as always is free.

    Sight and Sound employee Neil kneeling and talking to a customer

    Once again Sight and Sound Technology are very proud to be headline sponsors of the event, alongside Barclays Bank. And this year we have an exclusive and exciting new product to show you - which will be publicly displayed for the first time at Sight Village Birmingham - The Topaz PHD.

    The New Portable Desktop Magnifier the Topaz PHD

    The lightweight TOPAZ® PHD offers the comfort and productivity features of a desktop video magnifier but folds away like a laptop. With auto-focus, a wide magnification range, intuitive controls, five default and 27 customisable high-contrast colour modes, and adjustable reading lines and masks, the new TOPAZ PHD offers the freedom to independently read and view the details that matter in the home, office, classroom, or on the go.

    Come and have a play with the Topaz PHD and a variety of other software and hardware designed specifically for the blind and visually impaired, only at the Sight and Sound stand.

    The Sight and Sound Technology Zone at Sight Village Birmingham 2014

     

  • Coming Soon: Mobile Touch Map for the Blind, from VOICEYE

    Korean based software developer Voiceye have recently announced a revolutionary new feature for their Voiceye app for the iPhone and Android, Touch Map. Voiceye are renowned for their mobile phone application, also called Voiceye, which enables users to create Accessible Paper for those with print and visual impairments.

    This new feature is an update to the Voiceye app, so it is entirely free, as is the Voiceye app! If you already have the Voiceye app, quite simply, once you apply the latest update to your App (which you may have already done) - a new feature will be added to the menu called ‘Touch Map’.

    So what is Touch Map?

    Essentially, Touch map displays a map on the screen of a smartphone which allows a blind or visually impaired user to navigate around the inside of the building without any need for extra assistance. This is how the map appears below:

    TouchMap_img

    Touch Map will do exactly the same job as a physical tactile map, but all through your smartphone, without the need to learn braille - and because it is free, it is a lot cheaper than a Tactile Map too!

    To see exactly how Touch Map work’s for a blind or visually impaired user you can watch this walkthrough video from Voiceye below:

    On the 17th of April we were invited to the 2015 ISBA Blind Football European Championships launch event at the Museum of Football in Manchester. In attendance were a number of members of the England blind football team, members of supporting organisations including the Paralympics Committee and the FA, and ex-professional England footballer, Danny Mills.

    IMG_2518 It was a great launch event with plenty of activities and exhibits on show, including a very large depiction of Robbie Savage’s face with a large hole where his mouth is. The aim of this activity, get the ball through the hole - blindfolded. It was a great way to help fully sighted people understand just how hard playing Blind Football really is.

    IMG_2513Pictured above are some of the England Blind Football team players and coaching staff.


    The ISBC Blind Football Championships 2015, are taking place at the Point4 at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford - on 22nd-29th of August. Early Bird tickets are available now for just £5, for more details please visit: http://www.rnc.ac.uk/blindeuros/.

  • Digital Accessibility - Still a way to go...

    Citizens Online are a national charity that was set up to tackle the issues of digital exclusion, to make sure that the Internet is available to everybody and to help individuals and communities understand and gain the benefits of being online.

     

    This week, Citizens Online has released new digital accessibility report. The report summarises the state of play regarding digital accessibility, looking at policy and standards as well as demographic and technological trends.

    Digital Accessibility is defined as the ability for all individuals to easily use information technology products and services regardless of any impairment. In other words, it means that disabled people can perceive, navigate, interact with and contribute to the Web, apps, software programs and documents such as e-books and PDFs.

     

    The full report and all of its findings can be found here: digital accessibility report. However, the four main findings of the report were:

    1. Progress is being made
    2. The majority of websites nonetheless fail to meet minimum requirements for accessibility
    3. Standards, guidelines, technologies and policies are well-established and available for use in North America and the EU
    4. The main barriers remaining are education and encouragement of developers and users, and enforcement of law and policy – currently very low.
  • Touching Words

    BY GUEST BLOGGER JACKIE BROWN

    For those wanting to use a good English dictionary that they can access in Braille and speech on a mobile device, then look no further.  At long last, the Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus has arrived for the Hims BrailleSense products.

    Once installed on your note-taker, simply open the Collins and type in the word you want to search for.  You can select between the dictionary and thesaurus.  It is a simple to use application, and is very handy if you are a student, writer, or someone who loves playing spelling and word games.  Having the Collins on your Sense product wherever you go, without requiring an Internet connection to look up content, is very useful too.

    The Collins English Dictionary retails for £115 from Sight and Sound Technology Ltd, 01604 798070.  You will require your machine’s serial number and MAC address so the software can be assigned to your unit.  You will be Emailed a file containing the Collins, plus straightforward installation instructions that are easy to follow.

    This product does exactly what it says on the tin, and is a welcome addition to the Hims range of note-takers.  It also comes in additional languages.

  • Get the most from your Sapphire handheld magnifier

    In this video we look at the Sapphire handheld video magnifier and how this product could make the difference for you.

    http://youtu.be/UJsb0dGAoSA

    To find out more please visit the Sapphire product page at the following link: http://www.sightandsound.co.uk/shop/products.php?product=SAPPHIRE--Portable-Video-Magnifier

  • YesterdaysWishes: Voiceye Review

    As part of her 'Blind Life Hacks' series, Youtube star 'YesterdaysWishes' has reviewed the Voiceye Accesible Print software available from Sight & Sound Technology. You can hear what she thought of the product and how it can be used in the video below.

    http://youtu.be/Ecu2mNI_owU

    To find out more about this product please visit the product page at the following link: http://www.sightandsound.co.uk/shop/categories.php?category=Voiceye-Accessible-Print

  • Valued Partner of the Year Award

    We have exciting news!

    We are very proud to announce that Sight and Sound Technology has been awarded the very first Valued Partner of the Year Award to be given by HIMS (Human Information Management Systems).
    partner of the year

     

    2015 is HIMS 16th year in business and Sight & Sound Technology have been working with them as the UK distributor for their range of products which support the blind and visually impaired.

     

    It was great to be acknowledged by HIMS with this award and at the heart of our successful partnership is that both HIMS and Sight & Sound are passionate about making a difference to the lives of those who are blind and visually impaired.

     

    We look forward to continuing our working relationship with HIMS into 2015 and beyond as we continue to offer the highest quality products to our customers throughout the UK.

  • Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind

    Sight and Sound work in unison with private individuals, charities, educational establishments and commercial enterprises. Our products are designed to improve quality of life at work, during study and at home.

    len

    One of our sales team called in to see Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind (SRSB) last week to hand over some demonstration equipment to Mobile Information Officer Liz Bowman.

    SRSB have recently invested in a brand new mobile Information Unit, and our equipment will help to find the best solutions which make a difference to the lives of individuals who are either blind or partially sighted.

    Sight & Sound have donated a laptop computer with access technology software as well as a Ruby portable electronic magnifier. We were delighted to be able to support SRSB and their brand new information unit for blind and visually impaired people, which will enable them to demonstrate the type of technology that Sight and Sound provide.

  • Attention all JAWS users! Get to know your keystrokes…

    A ‘keystroke’ is a combination of keys that you press on your computer keyboard to use different functions. The large numbers of keystrokes are what makes JAWS such a user-friendly piece of screen reading software.

    If you are already a JAWS user you probably already have a list of the keystrokes which you use on a regular basis. The following are some of the most commonly used JAWS keystrokes for use on the internet:

    1. Back a page: ALT+LEFT ARROW or BACKSPACE
    2. Forward a page: ALT+RIGHT ARROW
    3. Go to homepage: ALT+HOME
    4. Refresh page and cache: F5
    5. List of links on a particular webpage that you’re on: INSERT + F7
    6. List headings on webpage: INSERT + F6
    7. List all Form fields (things you can fill in): INSERT + F5
    8. Move to address bar: ALT + D
    9. Read address bar: INSERT + A
    10. Insert placemarker: CTRL + SHIFT + K
    11. Move to next placemarker (area that you can mark a link, graphic or piece of text that you can then move to quickly): K
    12. Move to the next table: T
    13. List all the tables on the webpage: CTRL + INSERT + T
    14. List all edit boxes on a webpage: CTRL + INSERT + E

    While the above are likely to be keystrokes you are already familiar with, we want to make sure that you are using keystrokes to their full potential.

    That’s why we have put together the below list of some lesser known keystrokes, which should help to enhance the usability of JAWS even further when it comes to navigating around your computer.

    • INSERT+TAB: To repeat information about where you currently are
    • Insert+F12: Press once to read the time, and twice to read the date
    • INSERT+5: Reads the colour of the text and background
    • INSERT+2: Switches JAWS to read by character, word, both and none
    • INSERT+1: Turn on/off JAWS keyboard help (which is used to find out what keys do without carrying out the action)
    • INSERT+6: To bring up JAWS setting centre for your current application

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    To find out more about JAWS and what it can offer you, please visit the product page by clicking the following link: http://www.sightandsound.co.uk/shop/categories.php?category=Screen-Readers/JAWS-for-Windows

  • Get the most out of your ONYX

    In this video we find out more about the ONYX camera and a portable monitor – how to get the most out of this product and everything that it can offer users.

    To find out more, please visit http://www.sightandsound.co.uk/shop/products.php?product=ONYX-Deskset-HD

     

  • How to register as blind or visually impaired

    Here at Sight and Sound we are committed to finding the best solutions which make a difference to the lives of individuals who are either blind or visually impaired.

    In addition to the tailored products and training which we provide our customers, we are constantly striving to provide guidance and support which can add value to our customers. One of the things we are often asked is how to go about registering as a person that is blind or partially sighted.

    Registering as blind or visually impaired can open up a number of benefits which you will be entitled to, including:

    • Blind person’s personal income tax allowance
    • Reduction of 50% on your television license fee
    • Car parking schemes, such as the blue badge scheme which can be used in any vehicle that you are travelling in
    • Free loan of radio, CD players and CDs
    • Free postage on articles marked as “articles for the blind”

    That is why we have put together this short guide to give you five simple steps to register as blind or partially sighted.

    Step 1

    To register for either, you can choose to register with either your eye consultant or your GP. The reason you must go to an eye specialist is because first of all an ophthalmologist must certify that your eyesight cannot be improved medically (through glasses, surgery etc). The registration is entirely confidential.

    Step 2

    Your doctor will confirm which level of registration applies to you. There are two levels of registration:

    • Severely sight impaired (blind)
    • Sight impaired (partially sighted)

    Step 3

    The eye specialist will then send copies of your certificate to your doctor and your local social services operations.

    Step 4

    You’ll receive this letter in the post, but please note this is not the final step to becoming registered as blind or partially sighted.

    Step 5

    You must then confirm that you wish to be included on the register of blind and partially sighted. It is after you confirm, at this point, that you are registered.

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    If you would like more information on any of the issues raised in this blog then please get in touch and you might also be interested in our blog 10 things to know about losing my sight.

     

     

  • Sight and Sound Customer Story Mr. and Mrs. Sibley

    Mr and Mrs Sibley talk about how Sight and Sound have supported them throughout the last 18 years, and how the guidance made an impact on her life for the better.

    http://youtu.be/S80z-8rZyKE

     

     

  • Get the most out of PEARL

    In this video we find out more about the PEARL scan and read solution, along with OpenBook - how to get the most out of this product and everything that it can offer users.

    To find out more, please visit http://www.sightandsound.co.uk/p/pearl/

    http://youtu.be/MhRCzgWV-rI

  • Sight Village London Competition Winner

    A huge congratulations goes to Sarah, of South London, winner of the prize draw competition which we were running at Sight Village London.

    competition

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Throughout the day we were inviting visitors to enter our prize draw and Sarah’s name was drawn at random shortly after the event. With the choice of a number of prizes available, Sarah has chosen a copy of Kurzweil 3000 as her prize.

    Kurzweil 3000 is award-winning educational software designed to provide literacy support in the classroom, at home, or in the workplace.

    Sarah said in response to winning the competition, “Excellent news! Thank you so much, I am very excited to receive this prize and find out how it can assist me in my daily life. I'm really looking forward to seeing what will be possible for me with this program to further my independence”

    We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who visited the stand during Sight Village London, it was great to meet so many of you and have the opportunity to discuss our products. And congratulations once again to Sarah, our competition winner!

    To find out more about Sight and Sound Technology products, please visit here: http://www.sightandsound.co.uk/shop/index.php

  • Customer Story - Mr Casling "I cannot praise Sight & Sound enough"

    Customer Testimonial
    Mr Dennis Casling

    As the UK’s leading provider of hardware and software to the blind and partially sighted, at Sight and Sound Technology we pride ourselves on working with our customers all of the way, from initial assistance right through to lifetime support.

    We are passionate about the levels of service we provide our customers, so we were particularly excited when Mr Dennis Casling contacted us to share some praise he wished to pass on to a member of our team for some outstanding customer service he had received.

    Mr Casling explained, “James Butler set up my computer. My old computer was falling apart, so James set up the new system in a way that was very accessible for me as a visually impaired user. Since then I’ve been back to them on several occasions either to solve issues that I have come across by using the new Microsoft Word, or around my emails, or to help me pick up my scanner.  And they are just extraordinarily good, efficient, to the point…marvellous! I cannot praise them enough!”

    We are committed to making the difference to our customers through knowledge, care and understanding, so to receive Mr Casling’s feedback was fantastic because it demonstrates that Sight and Sound Technology, our products and our people are having a positive impact on our customers’ lives, something which as a team we all strive to achieve.

  • Customer Story: Mohammed Rashid

    We spoke to Mohammed Rashid – a user of JAWS, Open Book and Braille Sense.

    Mohammed explained to us how he uses these products, how they make the difference to him in his everyday life and why Sight and Sound products are a “lifeline”.

    http://youtu.be/6LmzfcuzpCM

  • How this newsreader used JAWS

    Here is a fascinating interview from BBC Radio 5 Live in which a radio newsreader from Australia explains how she uses technology - including JAWS - to help her read the news.

     

    To find out more about JAWS, please visit here http://www.sightandsound.co.uk/search/?s=jaws&x=0&y=0

  • Get the most out of MAGic screen magnification

    In this video we take a look at the screen magnification software MAGic, what it can do and how you can get the most from everything this product has to offer.

    To find out more about our range of MAGic products please visit http://www.sightandsound.co.uk/shop/categories.php?category=Screen-Magnification/MAGic-Screen-Magnification

    http://youtu.be/VzWxLrb5C9k

  • Windows navigation and AfterShokz headphones

    At Sight & Sound we are passionate about innovative technology and solutions which can make the difference for the blind and partially sighted.

    So we were excited to read about the technology being developed between Microsoft and Guide Dogs that is designed to help the blind and partially sighted, navigate cities easier and safer. The technology relays navigation information to a user's Windows Phone, which then provides audio cues about their surroundings via a headset.

    Integral to this technology are the AfterShokz bone conduction headphones, which Sight & Sound are the distributor for in the UK.  These headphones are 'open ear' headphones - they hook above the ears and relay sound via the jawbone to the inner ear where the vibrations are interpreted as sound. The headphones mean the wearer can receive audio from a device whilst also being able to clearly hear the sounds from the environment they are in.

    A picture of bone conductive headphones

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    To find out more or to place an order for bone conduction headphones please visit our website at the following link: http://www.sightandsound.co.uk/shop/products.php?product=Aftershokz-Bluez-Bluetooth-Bone-Conductive-Headphones

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