The State of Refreshable Braille Support — Summer 2017

Refreshable Braille displays are undergoing a renaissance. New devices with many different form factors, price points, and features are either on the market, or on their way.

National Federation of the Blind Reviews Phones for Low Vision and Blind Seniors

The National Federation of the Blind Access Technology team made its presence known this year at the CSUN Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference. As in years past, we presented on topics of interest to blind technology users. Below, you can download the slides from the presentation on Phones for Low Vision and Blind Seniors by Clara Van Gerven and Amy Mason.

CES Las Vegas Highlights Accessible Technology for the Blind

A little over a week ago now, President Riccobono and myself were at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. President Riccobono demonstrated the AIRA service in front of a large audience at the AT&T developer summit on our first day there, which made for a high-profile way to kick of the NFB's participation. There was, however, also time the next day, Thursday, to tread the vast exhibit floor. As has been the case in the past, the small and medium businesses are often those that make the biggest impression by dint of being approachable and not entirely constituted of PR videos. Whirlpool was showing off its Alexa integration for appliances and their booth personnel proved knowledgeable.

The Future of Braille is Refreshing: How the National Federation of the Blind is Making Refreshable Braille Displays Affordable with the Orbit Reader

Every year on January 4 we celebrate Louis Braille’s birthday because of his invention of the Braille code—the most powerful and successful reading and writing system designed for the blind.

My Experiences Switching to Android, Part 2: Tips, Tricks, and Lessons Learned

It’s been a little over three months since I’ve started using Android as my only mobile platform. In that time, I’ve found a lot of useful apps, tips, and tricks that have only improved my enjoyment of using Android.  If you haven’t read my initial post, I suggest you do so.

In general, Android has been a very positive experience, and the strides Google has made in all accessibility areas, with the significant exception of Braille, have become even more noticeable. Especially as Android 7 begins to show up on more and more devices, accessibility will continue to improve. Despite some quirks, and a few bugs which I have noted below, Android has been a mostly enjoyable experience.

Commitment Is More Than Checking a Box: Uber Fails to Get It

The National Federation of the Blind is the leader in nonvisual accessibility. We work diligently to assist those in government, education, and the private sector to gain a true understanding that accessibility is not an expensive burden that stifles innovation. Accessibility is an enhancement that makes products and services available and usable by people with disabilities, while simultaneously making the same products and services better and easier to use by everyone. The ever-growing integration of devices that talk and devices you can operate with your voice are examples of the innovation that emerges while striving for accessibility. We realize that in order to be successful, it is essential to consider accessibility throughout the lifecycle from concept, to design, to development, to implementation. Consumer involvement in this process at every stage is essential.

My experiences switching to Android


I’ve used Apple devices since 2010, first an iPod Touch, and then several iPhone models. Over the years I’ve played with Android several times and have always been disappointed and frustrated with the experience. Recent updates to Talkback and Android have changed things considerably. As I detailed in my post in May, gestures are much more responsive, web navigation is much better, and the whole Android experience is the best it has been. So, I decided to take the plunge and switch to an Android phone full time. I settled on the Motorola Moto G Plus 4th Generation, as I felt it had reasonable specs, and a nearly stock (original) version of Android. Plus Motorola has a reputation for getting updates out faster than most other manufacturers.

BrailleNote Touch: accessing and using third party apps

The BrailleNote Touch (Touch) from HumanWare has full access to the Google Play Store. Many third party apps are made available in a notetaking device for the first time. While this provides a lot of opportunity, there are also many chances for things to go wrong when developers haven't made their apps accessible. The Touch handles many third party apps very well, but sometimes the Braille keyboard interface can cause some interesting interactions, and there are also the expected issues when encountering partially inaccessible apps. In general, the TalkBack gestures translate well to keyboard commands either with TouchBraille or the physical keyboard. It is also possible, by pressing the previous and next thumb keys together, to turn on explore by touch mode and access many of the usual gestures that Android users will be familiar with.

The BrailleNote Touch as a Braille Notetaker- How Does It Stack Up?

The BrailleNote Touch is an impressive feat of hardware and software engineering. It is an Android tablet with full-fledged Braille support, a skinned and simplified interface running custom-built accessible programs, full visual display, and the option, but not requirement, of using an external Braille keyboard. It is also a Google certified Android device, capable of running the vast majority of applications in the Play store. Furthermore, it does what it sets out to do quite effectively. The BrailleNote is indisputably ambitious, and in some ways it is already an impressive device. That said, how does it handle the traditional tasks of a Braille Notetaker? Is it worth the $5500 asking price? Let’s take a closer look.

Browsers: why it matters what you use

The latest WebAIM screenreader survey listed the following as the top six web browsers among screenreader users:
•    Internet Explorer 10+ (34.9%)
•    Firefox (30.1%)
•    Internet Explorer 6, 7 or 8 (12.8%)
•    Safari (7.9%)
•    Chrome (6.3%)
•    Internet Explorer 9 (5.8%)


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