Tech Capabilities: Using the Flashlight on your iPhone and Apple Watch to attract attention

Have you ever wondered how to increase independence through the various apps and devices available for the blind? Blind Vet Tech’s Tech Capabilities offers suggestions to achieve these goals.

The flashlight or torch, for my UK followers, is more than a quick method to drain your device’s battery. Rather the flashlight on your iPhone and Apple Watch may provide life saving assistance to notify or alert another to your presence. If this is the first you have heard about the flashlight feature for your iPhone and Apple Watch, these features utilizes the LED light next to the back facing camera on your iPhone and the Apple Watch’s face. Follow the steps below to activate and change the settings for the flashlight options.

The iPHone’s flashlight option as of iOS 10.11 offers individuals the chance to activate it or choose from one of five brightness levels. Voice Over users will need to do the following:

  • Place Voice Over’s focus in the status bar at the top of the screen
  • Bring up Control Center with a three finger swipe upwards
  • Swipe to the right until you find Flashlight
  • Double tap on flashlight to simply turn it on and off
  • Double tap and hold or perform a 3D Touch on the flashlight toggle to switch between the following flashlight brightness levels
    • Off
    • Medium
    • Bright
    • Brightest
  • Please note that you may need to rotate Voice Over’s rotor to the left to bring up the adjustment option to adjust the brightness levels

Apple Watch OS 4.0 and newer brought forth three flashlight modes to the Apple Watch. Technically there is not integrated LED flashlight on the Apple Watch, rather the flashlight mode turns the face of the watch into a flashlight. Voice Over users may take advantage of the Apple Watch’s flashlight tool by doing the following:

  • Bring up Control Center by preforming a two finger swipe upwards on the watch face screen
  • Swipe to the right until you find the flashlight
  • Double tap on flashlight
  • Your Apple Watch’s screen will now turn into a flashlight
  • Preform a two finger swipe to the left or right to switch between the following modes
    • Flashlight
    • Strobing Flashlight
    • Red Flashlight
  • Press the digital crown to deactivate the flashlight and return to the watch face

Hope you enjoyed learning about how to turn on your iPhone’s and Apple Watch’s flashlight through Blind Vet Tech’s Tech Capabilities.

Assistive Tech Resource List

The Hines Alumni and Blind Not Alone maintain this list of resources for visually impaired Veterans. Please send any corrections or additions to presidentofThehinesalumni@gmail.com or info@blindnotalone.

Conference Calls

Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech Talk meets the third Thursday of every month at 7PM Central time. To Participate:

Blind Vet Tech Monthly MacOS Talk for all your Apple Mac needs meets the second Thursday of every month at 7PM Central time. To

Hines iOS, GPS conference call meets the first Tuesday of every month, 10 AM Central time, 800-767-1750,44125#. Contact Rick Olson for more info, rwoverna2@gmail.com

Hines computer conference call, meets the first Thursday each month, 10AM Central time, 800-767-1750,44125#. Contact Kevin Jackson for more info, kmjacksonsr@att.net

Blinded Vets & Friends – Homepage http://www.blindedvetsandfriends.org/ Meets every Tuesday at 7PM Central time using TC Conferencing. Contact Jerry Hogan, jerryhogan5@earthlink.net

Coaching Sessions on demand:

Hines Alumni and Blind Vet Tech are proud to offer on-demand coaching sessions. If interested, send an email indicating what you wish to receive coaching on. For Windows, contact presidentofThehinesalumni@gmail.com. For Mac users, contact info@blindnotalone.com.

Teleconferences Being Planned

Blind Vet Tech Monthly Narrator Talk is coming in January. Subscribe to the Blind Vet Tech blog to find out more.

Hines Alumni virtual book discussion group (Under Consideration: This group will meet every other month or as needed) This group will use Zoom service and will begin at 7:00 p.m., Central Standard Time Zone. If you or someone you know would like to get involved as a facilitator or be a group member contact Terry Kebbel by email at terrykebbel@gmail.com .

Hines Alumni Virtual peer support group (Under Consideration: This group will meet every other month or as needed) This group will use a Zoom service and will begin at 7:00 p.m., Central Standard Time Zone. There are many Benefits of Participating in this Support Group: Feeling less lonely and isolated, Gaining a sense of empowerment, self-confidence and control, Talking openly and honestly about your feelings, Developing an understanding of what to expect with your situation, Getting practical advice and useful information, Having the chance to help and support others, Receiving inspiration and motivation from others’ stories.
If you or someone you know would like to get involved as a facilitator or be a group member contact terry kebbel by email at terrykebbel@gmail.com .

For an informal group discussion, we have a ‘virtual bar’ that meets on SKYPE. The group meets whenever the need arises. Any drinks from coffee to tequila are permitted.

If you are a VA Blind Rehab Services VIST or BROS interested in securing assessment or AT training for a Veteran, contact info@blindnotalone.com, for details about our VA contracting services or additional resources.

Websites to visit

Accessibility Help Desks

Podcasts

  • Blind Vet Tech
  • Freedom Scientific (FS Cast)
  • Apple vis
  • Seminars at Hadley li><
  • Eyes on success

    < If you are using a Victor Reader, Hims Blaze, or any podcasting app, just search the name and add to your play list. Document Conversion Tool
    If you have a PDF that is an image or if you want to create a DAISY book, we have a conversion tool on our website to do this. Simply visit our website: www.hinesalumni.org and go to the E-Footlocker. There you will find the conversion tool. Launch the conversion tool and follow the four easy steps to create your accessible document.

Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech Talk for October

This is an announcement for the Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech Talk for October 19th. This month features discussions about the latest updates to all of our favorite operating systems. Microsoft launched the fall update to Windows 10, while Apple released several updates to iOS 11 and MacOS 10.13.

We now use Zoom as our teleconferencing platform, enabling one to connect via apps for desktop computers, mobile devices, or via dialing into the room. Below are the details to connect:

  • Thursday, October 19
  • 1900 Central Time

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android by clicking here

iPhone users simply tap on the phone number below or dial:

  • (646) 876-9923,,7854091838#
  • or (669) 900-6833,,7854091838#

Zoom enables one to control their participation through a series of hotkeys. The table below lists the possible actions and how to complete it based on your connection method:

Action Zoom for Windows Zoom for MacOS Zoom for iOS Dial into Zoom
Mute Alt A Command Shift A Mute Button on app Star 6
Raise hand to prompt moderator Alt Y Option Y Raise/Lower hand Button on app Star 9

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.

Tech Capabilities: Coupling AIRA with Blind Square to Create Points of Interest for Navigation

Have you ever wondered how to increase independence through the various apps and devices available for the blind? Blind Vet Tech’s Tech Capabilities offers suggestions to achieve these goals.

Navigating new and unfamiliar areas remains one the last barriers for visually impaired individuals. Yes, we have numerous types of navigational and way finding solutions, like the Victor Reader Trek, Google Maps, and the Seeing Eye GPS. These solutions offers a 90% solution when navigating new areas through their reliance on open sourced and well established points of interest services. However anyone who ever tried to navigate large open spaces on maps, like large parking lots, college campuses, or hiking trails, encounter situations lacking the accuracy of street side addresses offer. Well this is where AIRA coupled with Blind Square will resolve these barriers, and here is how:

  • Start a call with an AIRA agent
  • Let them know you are looking for a particular location, or if you are hiking let them know the trail system you are on and what type of trail you wish to receive directions for
  • Open up Blind Square
  • Tap on Add place, located in the upper left corner of the screen since you will be placing much detail in the location’s title
  • Name the place with detailed information about the location and area, like trail head starting on the left with a paved surface transitioning to a gravel trail
  • For a little extra, ask the AIRA agent for some visual descriptions to include in case you ever need to ask a passerby for a particular spot
  • Toggle the Alert distance to this place to on
  • Set the distance to what you feel comfortable with, just remember the smaller the area the closer you need to be
  • Check theGPS accuracy under Position Information Heading and make sure its 33 feet or less
  • If your accuracy is greater than 33 feet, you may wish to tap the Reset Location button
  • Press Save
  • Do this periodically for different points or intersections along the route
  • end the AIRA call when you finish the route

Hope you enjoyed learning how to utilize AIRA to establish a series of waypoints for a trail in Blind Square through Tech Capabilities on Blind Vet Tech.

Tech Capabilities: iOS Voice Mail Transcriptions

Have you ever wondered how to increase independence through the various apps and devices available for the blind? Blind Vet Tech’s Tech Capabilities offers suggestions to achieve these goals.

When cellular phones first gained popularity, we never needed to worry about telemarketers hounding us. Things definitely changed as many of us solely rely on smart phones for personal to business functions. This results in telemarketers and other entities calling us. Whenever I receive a call from an unknown number or unlisted number, I quickly dismiss the call and let. It go to voice mail. Unfortunately when the entity leaves a message, I really hesitate to listen to it. Apple added a nice feature that transcribes your voice mail automatically. Yes, Google Talk offered this feature for a number of years, and even sends you an email with the transcribed message, so its nice that Apple caught up. Here is how you can listen to a transcribed voice mail message. Please note , I am using an iPhone 8 running iOS 11.

  • Lock Screen
    • Place Voice Over’s focus on the notification for the voice mail message
    • Swipe downwards with the rotor set to action to More and double tap
    • Voice Over will start reading the message automatically
  • Phone app
    • You first need to listen to the message in the Voice Mail tab
    • Place Voice Over’s focus on the number or caller’s name and swipe right twice
    • Voice will automatically start reading the message

Hope you enjoyed learning how to read a transcribed voice mail message in iOS through Blind Vet Tech’s Tech Capabilities.

Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech Talk for September

This is an announcement for the Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech Talk for September 21. This month we turn our attention towards our new conferencing platform, Zoom.us and what is new in iOS 11. Zoom is a highly accessible conferencing platform allowing participants to connect via their computers, smart phones, or through a dial in number, see below for how to do this and coming shortcut kets.

Apple releases iOS 11 on September 19, and we are super excited to share what we know. Voice Over received many updates and tweaks, earning our trust and approval. The couple of updates exciting us include the ability to fill out PDF’s, recognize a bit of text in images through a built into Voice Over OCR, find facial features in Photos, and ability to drag and drop multiple items. Zoom users will enjoy the ability to place your finger on the menu bar and automatically zoom into it without Zoom on, clean up of the Control Center for easier navigation, and the easier to see Dock and app switchers.

Participate on the call through Zoom by:

  • Thursday, July 20
  • 1900 Central Time

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android by clicking here

iPhone users simply tap on the phone number below or dial:

  • (646) 876-9923,,7854091838#
  • or (669) 900-6833,,7854091838#

Zoom enables one to control their participation through a series of hotkeys. The table below lists the possible actions and how to complete it based on your connection method:

Action Zoom for Windows Zoom for MacOS Zoom for iOS Dial into Zoom
Mute Alt A Command Shift A Mute Button on app Star 6
Raise hand to prompt moderator Alt Y Option Y Raise/Lower hand Button on app Star 9

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.

Tech Capabilities: Shopping with SeeingAI, Uber, and AIRA Through Your iPhone

Have you ever wondered how to increase independence through the various apps and devices available for the blind? Blind Vet Tech’s Tech Capabilities offers suggestions to achieve these goals.

From assembling a shopping list, traveling to the store, and locating each item, shopping poses several barriers for the blind. Combine Microsoft’s SeeingAI, AIRA, Uber, and your iPhone, and you can quickly get on with your day. Here is how.

  • Open Microsoft’s Seeing AI and switch to the product channel
  • Scan the various products you need to purchase, but swipe to share
  • From the share menu, select Notes and add it to your shopping list note (for extra points you can make this a checklist)
  • After compiling your shopping list, either hire an Uber to the store, or call an AIRA agent and let them handle your Uber trip
  • When you are at the store, call an AIRA agent,, and share or inform them about your shopping list to let them guide you around
  • Checkoff items on your Notes’ shopping list, checkout, and hire a Uber home

Hope you enjoyed learning how shopping becomes easier with Microsoft SeeingAI, Uber, AIRA, and an iPhone through Blind Vet Tech’s Tech Capabilities.

Blind Vet Tech Monthly MacOS Announcement for September

This is an announcement for the Blind Vet Tech Monthly MacOS Talk for September 14. This call enables individuals to learn more about MacOS and how integrated features like Voice Over and Zoom may be applied to achieve computing goals. The session will be open for participants’ questions and encourages open exchanges.

This call will discuss any of the publicly available information related to the MacOS High Sierra update along with how to use Zoom.US. Zoom.us is a conferencing platform that is very accessible and easy to use. It offers participants the chance to call in by phone, computer, or smart phone apps.
This calls participation details are:

  • Thursday, September 14
  • 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.

Tech Capabilities: Using Seeing AI, QR Reader, and Safari to Redeem Movies

Have you ever wondered what is possible through the various devices and apps available? Blind Vet Tech Tech Capabilities demonstrates how to fulfill a task through tech solutions. This inaugural post will list how one may redeem a movie code for iTunes only using an iPhone running iOS 11.

  • Open up Microsoft’s Seeing AI and set the channel to Short Text.
  • Scan the various pieces of paper inside the movie case until you find the insert with the redemption code.
  • In iOS 11, open up the camera app and scan the page. You do not need to take a picture, just wait for Voice Over to announce that a QR code was located
  • Swipe to the left or go to the top of the Camera app to find the redirection link, and tap on it.
  • After Safari opens up the page, select the appropriate streaming service, i.e. iTunes, Google Play, etc…, to obtain a digital copy.
  • If the QR code cannot be located, change Seeing AI’s channel to document. Recognize the page and follow the instructions.

Hope you enjoyed learning about your Tech Capabilities to redeem the digital copy of a movie through your iOS device using Seeing AI, Camera app (or other QR reader), Safari, and iTunes.

Blind Vet Tech Monthly MacOS Announcement for August

This is an announcement for the Blind Vet Tech Monthly MacOS Talk for August 10. This call enables individuals to learn more about MacOS and how integrated features like Voice Over and Zoom may be applied to achieve computing goals. The session will be open for participants’ questions and encourages open exchanges.

This calls participation details are:

  • Thursday, August 10
  • 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.

Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech Talk for July 20

This is an announcement for the Blind Vet Tech Monthly Talk for July 20. We are focusing on recognition devices and apps. The call will start off with a review from Percy who uses both the Orcam and AIRA. This will be a great chance to learn what the difference truly is and which may achieve your goals. Terry will then cover other recognition apps, with a focus on Microsoft’s Seeing AI. We covered Seeing AI in our latest Blind Vet Tech podcast.

This calls participation details are:

  • Thursday, July 20
  • 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.

Blind Vet Tech Monthly MacOS Talk Announcement for July

This is an announcement for the Blind Vet Tech Monthly MacOS Talk for July13. This call enables individuals to learn more about MacOS and how integrated features like Voice Over and Zoom may be applied to achieve computing goals. The session will be open for participants’ questions and encourages open exchanges.

This calls participation details are:

  • Thursday, July 13
  • 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.

Blind Tech Assistance For Veterans

Hines Alumni and Blind Not Alone compile and maintain this list of tech and assistive tech resources for visually impaired Veterans. Please send any corrections or additions through the Contact Us page.

Conference Calls

  • Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech Talk meets the third Thursday of each month at 1900 Central Time
  • Blind Vet Tech Monthly MacOS Talk meets the second Thursday of the month at 1900 Central Time
  • Blind Vet Tech Monthly Narrator Talk is coming soon
  • Hines iOS, GPS conference call meets the first Tuesday of every month, 10 AM Central time
    • Join by calling (800) 767-1750,44125#
    • Contact Rick Olson for more info at rwoverna2@gmail.com
  • Hines computer conference call, meets the first Thursday each month, 10AM Central time
    • Join by calling (800) 767-1750,44125#
    • Contact Kevin Jackson for more info at kmjacksonsr@att.net
  • Blinded Vets & Friends – Homepage meets every Tuesday at 7PM Central time using TC Conferencing. Contact Jerry Hogan at Jerry Hogan jerryhogan5gearthlink.net

One on One Coaching

Hines Alumni and Blind Vet Tech are proud to offer on demand coaching sessions. If interested, send an email indicating what you wish to receive coaching on, your computer’s set up, and available times to presidentofThehinesalumni@gmail.com or info@blindnotalone.com. Both provide coaching and mentoring for using iPhones and iPads, while the Hines Alumni focus on Windows based computers and Blind Vet Tech on Apple MacOS computers.

If you are a VA Blind Rehab Services VIST or BROS interested in securing assessment or AT training for a Veteran, contact info@blindnotalone.com, for details about our VA contracting services or additional resources.

For an informal group discussion, we have a ‘virtual bar’ that meets on SKYPE. The group meets whenever the need arises. Any drinks from coffee to tequila are permitted.

Websites to visit

Help Desks

  • Microsoft Accessibility Desk, (800) 936-5900
  • Apple Accessibility Desk, (877)204-3930
  • Amazon Accessibility Desk, (888) 283-1678
  • VFO Accessibility Desk (727) 803-8600

Podcasts

If you are using a Victor Reader, Hims Blaze, or any podcasting app, just search the name and add to your play list.

Youtube

Blind Vet Tech News Update: Rise of the Accessible Microsoft Machines

Welcome to this installment of the Blind Vet Tech News Update. In this episode, Terry and I discuss the evolving accessibility culture filtering through Microsoft, our thoughts on Narrator as a stand alone screen reader, the accessibility and usability of One Note and other Microsoft Office products, and why machine learning to recognize objects and text excites us. The combination of these items truly demonstrates what happens when a company, like Microsoft, takes the stance to integrate universal design within its core beliefs.

For those skeptical about Microsoft’s commitment to accessibility, watch this Youtube video. It outlines exactly how accessibility is no longer a buzz word where Microsoft passes the responsibilities to fix inaccessible platforms onto third party solutions. Rather Microsoft takes the lead with integrated accessibility tools, accessibility checkers in Office products, and even promoting universal design amongst its partners.

Visit these links if you wish to learn more about how to use the Microsoft integrated accessibility tools or produce completely accessible Office documents.

Regarding Narrator, we both agree its a wonderful screen reader to use. Placing our screen readers where our mouth is, we both have made the commitment to adopt Narrator as our primary screen reader on Windows in the upcoming year. Currently a lack of end user guides exist, but Microsoft released a terrific user guide for those willing to take part in our challenge. Its from this guide we have started to produce the Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorials Narrator series.

The final segment quickly reviews machine learning and how its recognizing the world around us. As blindness tech advocates, these complex systems needs to be promoted by our community. Its up to us to share how machine learning to recognize objects works, what type of descriptions would benefit us, and dispel myths about computers rising up against us to take over the world.

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.

MacOS Talk Announcement for May 11

This is an announcement for the Blind Vet Tech Monthly MacOS Talk for May 11. This call will enable participants the chance to discuss anything related to MacOS. Participation just requires one to use the below details.

  • Thursday, May 11
  • 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.

Blind Vet Tech’s April 20th Monthly Tech Talk Announcement

This is an announcement for the Blind Vet Tech Monthly Talk for April 20. April’s call will focus on the different devices, apps, and other solutions to read digital documents. The VA’s blind rehab services often issue Veterans devices like the Victor Reader or Hims Blaze as one of the first stand alone blindness devices. These products enables one to listen to selections from NLS BARD, Bookshare, podcasts, and streaming internet radio. However, your iOS and Android possess these same capabilities through apps, like Voice Dream Reader, NLS BARD Mobile, TuneIn Radio, and Podcasts.

This calls participation details are:

  • Thursday, April 20
  • 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.

Announcement for March's MacOS Talk – Blind Vet Tech

This is an announcement for the Blind Vet Tech Monthly MacOS Talk for March 9th. March’s talk will focus on office and productivity solutions for home and business usage. The two leading suites include Apple iWork’s, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and Mail; and Microsoft Office 365, Word, Excel, Power Point, and Outlook. Both are fully accessible with Voice Over and Zoom, offering visually impaired individuals true choice.

This calls participation details are:

  • Thursday, March 9th
  • 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.

Blind Vet Tech News Update: Accessibility and Usability – Blind Vet Tech

Welcome to the first Blind Vet Tech News Update, the podcast presenting news, information, and thoughts related to expansive tech world. In this episode, Terry and I introduce ourselves, review Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, introduce the Web Accessibility Initiative, debate accessibility versus usability, and how these items formed the Information and Communications Technologies Refresh.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act established the core accessibility requirements for electronic and digital informational technologies for Federal, state, and similar entities. Originally established in 1986, the regulations received only two updates. The 1998 update established requirements for items like federal and state websites, web-based services, and other items based on the type of technology. The Information and Communications Technologies Refresh redefined web accessibility requirements by adopting the Web Accessibility Initiative’s guidelines and reclassifying technology categories based on their function.

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is a collective of industry leaders, disability advocates, and governmental representatives under the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The aim is to establish a fluid set of accessibility guidelines for the world wide web and anything interacting with it. This becomes more important as devices, like smart phones, wearables, and VR/AR, change how we interact with not just the world wide web by the greater internet. Without a baseline set of accessibility recommendations, we as disabled consumers would be lost.

Both Section 508 and the WAI struggle in one area, what does accessibility and usability mean. Yes, something may be completely accessible but not usable, demonstrating the objective versus subjective nature of the debate. In the comment fields below, what does accessibility and usability mean to you?

The Information and Communications Technologies Refresh pulls these three items together and redefines Section 508, Section 255 of the communications act, and so much more. The US Access Board overseen this update, presenting the update in January 2017 with an publication date in March 2017. Federal and State entities have until January2018 to release their updated policies and bring their services into compliance.

Thank you for listening to the Blind Vet Tech News Update. The focus on Section 508, WAI, accessibility versus usability, and the ICT Refresh provided an overview of the accessibility menace in the evolving digital world.

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.

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

This is an announcement for the Blind Vet Tech Monthly MacOS Talk for February 9th. February’s call will focus on how we each use cloud services. Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s One Drive, Google Drive, and Dropbox. Cloud services enables one to synchronize contacts, calendar events, notes, files, photos and so much more across your computers, smart phones, and tablets.

In addition, participants will be able to learn about how the new MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar improves my workflow.

This calls participation details are:

  • Thursday, February 9th
  • 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.

Announcement for February's Monthly Tech Talk – Blind Vet Tech

This is an announcement for the Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech Talk for February 16th. February’s call will focus on how we each use cloud services. Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s One Drive, Google Drive, and Dropbox. Cloud services enables one to synchronize contacts, calendar events, notes, files, photos and so much more across your computers, smart phones, and tablets. Even if you do not directly use cloud services, you might indirectly benefit from cloud computing. For example Serotek’s DocuScan Plus OCR’s documents through the cloud while many electronic health records are stored on cloud systems.

This calls participation details are:

  • Thursday, February 16th
  • 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.

Announcement for February's Monthly Tech Talk – Blind Vet Tech

This is an announcement for the Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech Talk for February 16th. February’s call will focus on how we each use cloud services. Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s One Drive, Google Drive, and Dropbox. Cloud services enables one to synchronize contacts, calendar events, notes, files, photos and so much more across your computers, smart phones, and tablets. Even if you do not directly use cloud services, you might indirectly benefit from cloud computing. For example Serotek’s DocuScan Plus OCR’s documents through the cloud while many electronic health records are stored on cloud systems.

This calls participation details are:

  • Thursday, February 16th
  • 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.

Increasing Independence Through Voice Activated Home Automation – Blind Vet Tech

Blind veterans could find benefits in the use of an emerging category of systems that use voice commands to control one’s home.. The control is accomplished by wireless switches and plug receptacles that interface with devices like The three best-known systems at present: Alexa with Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, Google Now with Google Home and Siri with the Apple Home Kit with which one can use an iPhone and/or iPad for voice input portals.

This control is accomplished to a great extent using wireless switches and plug receptacles that interface with the voice input systems. By voice command one can turn lights off and on, dim and brighten lights throughout the house from wherever you are in the house. You can control lamps and plug-in appliances and even your coffee pot by voice. Imagine waking up and giving the command “turn on coffee pot.”

To take it a bit farther, these systems allow one to control not just lights, but also door locks, a garage door, a thermostat, ceiling fans, and other appliances in the home. Think of being able to close your drapes in the evening by voice command. .

. Such control can be an effective component of a home security system
The potential exists to use voice to activate and disarm your alarm system, as well as lock and unlock entry and garage doors

At the center of the system is a hub, which routes the commands to the correct device. All the component hardware is connected wirelessly to each other via wifi, bluetooth, or other wireless technology.

I have such a system in my home, and I use the Amazon Echo as my voice input portal. To expand my voice input coverage beyond a central point and room, I use Echo Dot to extend coverage. The Echo devices all work together without interference. Another option is to expand command input capability using remotes available to sync with any of the Echo family of devices.

My system started out with control of the front door lock, a couple of lights, activation of the alarm system, , and control of the garage door. I have added control of additional lights indoors, as well as outdoor lighting control, and control of motorized drapes and shades. I can turn on my entertainment system, including turning on TV, changing stations, and switching to Apple TV, all using voice.

Another feature of these systems is that of creating what are called scenes. for instance, my Good Night scene turns off all lights and TV, ceiling fan, goes through the sequences to lock the front door and garage door, and sets the alarm. I have set up other scenes to cover other events.

I did my system in stages, adding as I desired more features. Systems can vary, of course, depending on the range and scope of control desired, the number of control switches and outlets used, and the addition of wireless door lock systems which are becoming more numerous and less expensive.

Blind Rehab Centers are issuing iPhone, iPads, and Echo Dots to veterans, but not home automation accessories. At the present time such systems are not available using the Adapted Home Grant through VA. as electronics improve and expand their capabilities, well-written justifications may be accepted in the future. To find out more about devices or systems for home control, search on amazon.com, google.com, and apple.com to compare the features of the options. Accessories from other vendors are available at Home depot and Best buy, just to start.

This article comes from Paul, who is the current Secretary of the Blinded Veterans Association.

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