February's Hines Blind Center Alumni Tech Teleconferences – Blind Vet Tech

As February draws near, the latest Hines Blind Center Alumni’s tech teleconferences draws right behind it. This month features Larry Lewis of the VA’s Section 508 Team on both the iOS and GPS users, and the Windows computer users teleconferences. If you ever wonder how the VA ensures compliance with federal accessibility requirements for any type of digital or electronic content or interface, this is the call for you. If you are new to the terms, Section 508 and accessibility, review the Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech Talk’s January’s session summary. Even the most advance screen reader and magnifier user would not be able to access many websites, if not for regulations and guidelines like Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act or the accessibility guidelines from the World Wide Web Consortium.

The Hines Blind Center Alumni tech teleconferences will occur:

  • iDevices and GPS Users
  • Tuesday, February 7th

  • 1000 AM Central Time
  • (800) 767-1750, ext 44125
  • Windows Computer Users
  • Thursday, February 2nd

  • 1000 AM Central Time
  • (800) 767-1750, ext 44125

If you have any difficulties entering the conference room, please dial 0 for the Operator.
The conference call will begin promptly at 1000 (10:00 a.m., and you are asked to start entering the conference room at 0950 (9:50 a.m.). The conference call will conclude at 1120 (11:20 a.m.). This is Central Standard Time.
We will observe the Roberts Rules of Order. Please direct your question or answer to the Moderator of the call so the Moderator can properly identify you for the continuation of your question/answer. You are asked to not speak over or interrupt a fellow Blinded Veteran who is providing a question or providing an answer to a question. Participants are asked to limit their questions to 2 and with time permitting at the end of the conference call, you may ask additional questions. You are also asked to do a star 6 to mute out any and all background noise, then if you have a question star 6 again and give your name to be recognized by the moderator.

Recap of the January 19th Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech Talk – Blind Vet Tech

The January 19th Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech talk featured two topics, review of the VA’s Section 508 Team and using the Voice Over Rotor. Larry from the VA Section 508 Team discussed:

  • Duties and responsibilities of the VA Section 508 Team
  • The difference between usability and accessibility under Section 508
  • The position of the Section 508 Team in the VA’s acquisition of electronic and digital content and interfaces
  • Methods the Section 508 Team tests and strives to enhance the accessibility of VA digital and electronic content and interfaces
  • Discussed the Information and Communications Technologies refresh to Section 508 as it relates to the VA

If you have any questions about the accessibility of digital and electronic content and interfaces, feel free to contact Larry and the Section 508 Team at larry.lewis3@va.gov or section508@va.gov.

The second part of the session enabled participants to discuss how we each use the Voice Over Rotor. The Voice Over Rotor may be activated with either a two finger gesture or through a paired keyboard. For more information about the Voice Over Rotor, listen to our Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorials podcasts on the Voice Over Rotor.

Did you miss this teleconference? Visit the Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech Talk to see a full list of upcoming teleconferences, topics, recordings of past teleconferences, podcasts information, and announcements.

Stay Informed

Stay up to date with the latest news and announcements from the Blind Vet Tech team, by doing one of the following:

If you have any questions, comments, or requests, feel free to send us an email here. All of our podcasts and other information related to Veterans, blindness, acceptance of a disability, and other resources may be found at BlindNotAlone.com

Don’t miss another Blind Vet Tech teleconference, click here to see a list of our teleconferences and others we support.

Tremendous Victory for Digital Accessibility Advocates – Blind Vet Tech

Disability digital accessibility advocates rejoiced on January 18, 2017, when the US Access Board Updated rules for Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act. March 20, 2017 might be the effective date of the update, but compliance is delayed until January 18, 2018 for Section 508 and the Federal Communications Committee must first adopt the new Section 255 rules. The change advances accessibility of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) employed by federal and other agencies abiding by these acts. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act pertains to computers, telephonic communications methods, copier printers, websites, published software, kiosks, transaction devices, and any electronic documents. 255 of the Communications Act covers telephones, mobile and smart phones, routers, set-top boxes, computers with modems, Voice Over IP (VOIP) software, and the underlying software for these items.

The update’s chief results empower individuals with disabilities to access digital, electronic, and telecommunications services and programs under Section 508 and Section 255. This occurs through easier to understand accessibility standards crafted by industry leaders. The most important aspects include:

For Veterans with visual impairments, the accessibility of digital content and interfaces will increase within the Department of Veterans Affairs, Medicare, and Social Security. Most notably, the VA’s check-in kiosks lack sufficient accessibility options for low vision and blinded Veterans. The Section 508 Team at the VA diligently works to correct this problem; the new rules will decrease the chances for this to happen again. The WAI guidelines for web interfaces and media content will advance accessibility guidelines to usability requirements for individuals with disabilities, a chief complaint of many accessing VA websites to Social Security online forms. Finally, provisions acknowledge and usher guidelines for emerging technologies, like smart phones and mobile devices, by noting their roles in the lives of individuals with disabilities and focusing on the how we use these items in accessing digital materials. Section 4 of the overview contains a complete list of each change and outcomes.

The ICT refresh represents the first steps into a world consistent with universal design principals. While this we celebrate this long fought victory, we need to remain active in advocating for digital accessibility throughout our entire digital life. We still face an uphill climb ensuring those covered under Section 508 and Section 255 comply with these rules and guidelines. While we evaluate implementation of the ICT, we also need to continue to pressure the Depart of Justice to adopt similar requirements, like WAIG, for entities under Section 2 and Section 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, like online stores to streaming media platforms.

Stay Informed

Stay up to date with the latest news and announcements from the Blind Vet Tech team, by doing one of the following:

If you have any questions, comments, or requests, feel free to send us an email here. All of our podcasts and other information related to Veterans, blindness, acceptance of a disability, and other resources may be found at BlindNotAlone.com

Don’t miss another Blind Vet Tech teleconference, click here to see a list of our teleconferences and others we support.

AI Square ZoomText and Window Eyes Users Be Warned – Blind Vet Tech

If you rely on AI Square’s ZoomText or Window Eyes to access your computer, you may face serious issues accessing your assistive technology. On January 16th, AI Squared issued an urgent warning for all of its users. The cause involves a compromised certificate which may prompt the Windows error message, “A referral was returned from the server,” to appear upon launching the affected AI Square products. This will happen to the below list of AI Square products if not updated prior to February 26, 2017:

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

If you use any of these AI Square products, start checking for updates. You can find the update in the update wizard for your software or by visiting this link.

If you have any questions or require any assistance updating or confirming you may be impacted by this issue, contact the AI Square support team at:

  • (727) 803-8600, and select Option 2
  • support@aisquared.com

Windows 10 and Office 365 Review – Blind Vet Tech

It is not always clear what operating system is best. In my case, Windows 10 with Office 365 is the best choice. This is because I can use Windows solution as a cross platform along with my iOS devices. Below is a list of the computers and mobile solutions promoting my independence through tech.

  • Laptop with 32gb of RAM and 512gb SSD
    • Windows 10
    • Microsoft Office 365
    • Internet Explorer 11
    • JAWS 18
    • Microsoft One Drive as the cloud storage solution
  • Wireless keyboard and headset
  • 128gb iPhone 6S Plus and 64gb iPod Touch
    • iOS 10.2
    • Microsoft Office 365 apps, i.e. Word, Excel, Power Point, and Office Lens
    • Microsoft One Drive as the cloud storage solution

Let’s talk about my access needs. I work virtually at home or on the road. Working at two very different locations requires different hardware and software configurations. At home the use of a laptop and wired input devices, lets me work anywhere within range of the wired devices. With Office 365, I always have the current software and security updates installed. Using One Drive with one terabyte of cloud storage, the need for a large hard drive (which is prone to failures) is not required. My data is secured and backed up in the Cloud, and it’s available on any of my devices.

When I’m on the road, whether I’m traveling for pleasure or supporting the disabled community through support groups, I have everything I need in my shoulder bag. I can keep up with emails, text messaging, social media with my iPhone. I can give presentations with my iPod Touch that is connected to a projector and PA system so I do not have to worry about being interrupted by any notification on my iPhone.

But take note! There is always a learning curve when migrating to new software. In updating to Windows 10 and Office 365, there are new concepts that need to be understood and learned, such as Startup menu, Windows short cut key, Screen Reader, Office16 with 365.

Migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 10, can be a challenge if you don’t understand the Start Menu and Windows Short Cut Keys! Once you know this information, you will need to learn the JAWS Keys.

Here’s how to configure the Start Menu:

Use the following website as a tutorial to help learn the Start Menu:


The Start Menu of Windows10 is a powerful tool that provides access to your computer and the Web.

The Start Menu consists of the following elements that you need to learn:

  • The Search Edit Field
  • Start Menu List
  • Applications

Use the following website as a tutorial to help learn the list of Windows 10 Short Cut Keys

Some examples of Windows logo shortcut keys are:

  • Windows logo key to Open or close Start Menu
  • Windows logo key + I to Open Settings
  • Windows logo key + X to Open the Quick Link menu
  • Windows logo key + Enter to Open Narrator

There are a host of other keyboard shortcuts. Command prompt keyboard shortcuts are the standard keyboard shortcuts used throughout Windows. Some of these includes Control plus C, V, and X to copy, paste, and cut text respectively.

Common Dialog box keyboard shortcuts include Ctrl plus Tab to move forward through tabs, Tab to move forward through options, and Spacebar to select or clear the check box. Some examples of File Explorer keyboard shortcuts are Alt plus D to jump to the address bar, Ctrl plus E to select the search box, Ctrl plus N to open a new window, and Ctrl plus W to close the active window.

It is also important to review the new features in the most current version of JAWS. There are new keystrokes that makes navigating and reading easier. The following links a great tutorial for these keystrokes.


JAWs employs Layered keystrokes, which are key strokes requiring you to first press Insert plus Spacebar and releasing prior to pressing the modifier key. Layered keystrokes are easy to use and remember, and they do not interfere with native keystrokes within applications. Once you enter a layer, press the QUESTION MARK key to get a list of available keyboard commands within that layer.

Navigation Quick Keys for HTML: Radio Button tap A, Button tap B, Combo Box tap C, Edit Box tap E

Office 365 is an online subscription service. With Office 365, you automatically get the latest versions of Office programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Office 365 is even fully accessible online through its web interface. This makes its accessibility features work a little differently than Office desktop programs; shortcuts might not be the same and the page layouts are different. However, all the keyboard shortcuts and other accessibility features that you know from the browser work in Office Online. The below link is a wonderful tutorial to learn how to extract the most from Office 365.


OneDrive is free online storage that comes with your Microsoft account. Save your files there and you’ll be able to get to them from any PC, tablet, or phone. Use the following as a tutorial for One Drive: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/17184/windows-10-onedrive

The basics
To save a document you’re working on to OneDrive, select a OneDrive folder from the list of save locations. To move files to OneDrive, open File Explorer and then copy them into a OneDrive folder. This automatically synchronizes files with your computer.

With the Anniversary release of Windows 10, the Windows embedded screen reader, called Narrator, is evolving into an alternative screen reader. While lacking the complete features of JAWS, Narrator steadily improves with each update to Windows. Currently it is feasible to rely on Narrator to conduct anything from simple emailing and web surfing goals to drafting documents in Word and other applications. If you are using One Drive, your documents are available. The below links provide tutoring on the use of Narrator.


In conclusion, just updating to Windows 10 is worth the effort, as an upgrade. However, as a total solution it is exceptional. I have selected a hardware and software platform that meets my needs: simple updates to the operating systems with little or no interaction, automatic version updates of applications software, automatic saving and backup to the Cloud and the right platform for working at home or away. With all that said, the solution was worth the time and money invested.

Other Reference links:
Windows 10





Announcement for January's Blind Vet Tech Monthly MacOS Talk – Blind Vet Tech

This is the announcement for January 12th’s Blind Vet Tech Monthly MacOS Talk. This month’s call will focus on how we each access email within MacOS. While Apple packages Mail onto every installation of MacOS, this is not the only solution available to manage your emailing needs. The details for the call are:

  • Thursday, January 12th
  • 1900 Central Time
  • (866) 820-9940

Stay Informed

Stay up to date with the latest news and announcements from the Blind Vet Tech team, by doing one of the following:

If you have any questions, comments, or requests, feel free to send us an email here. All of our podcasts and other information related to Veterans, blindness, acceptance of a disability, and other resources may be found at BlindNotAlone.com

Don’t miss another Blind Vet Tech teleconference, click here to see a list of our teleconferences and others we support.