Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) has released an app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch that allows users to download and read their more than 60,000 DAISY Consortium.">DAISY books in audio. You must be an RFB&D member to use the service, and the app costs $19.99.
Here's an evolving list of iOS VoiceOver keyboard commands, for use with a Bluetooth keyboard.
Applications developer Marcus Nijman has developed versions of some of his games, including Chess-Wise Free and 10X10 Checkerwise Pro, to be compatible with VoiceOver. Shredder, another chess game, is also VoiceOver-compatible. This means that blind individuals can easily play these games using the VoiceOver screen reader on Apple iOS devices -- iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch..
Apps for Children with Special Needs has a searchable index of apps, and videos of most of them.
The National Braille Press offers an introductory book aimed at helping blind users set up and use their iPhones; Getting Started with the iPhone: An Introduction for Blind Users has been well-received by consumers on blogs and listservs.
Netflix offers its customers "instant watching" (streaming) for some movies, but the Netflix website doesn't indicate which of them are captioned. Now there's a blog that lists all of the Netflix movies currently with captions.
Update: now Phlixie has an index of all captioned Netflix instant-watch movies. You can search the captioned films by genre and date the title will expire.
Although Amazon's Kindle e-reader device lets users hear the content via synthetic speech, the publisher of the materials must permit this feature for it to work. A mid-2010 study indicates that only about half of the available books permit text-to-speech output.
The American Printing House for the Blind is now offering "Talking Glow Dice", a gadget that will help blind and low vision users play games requiring dice. At the press of a button, the device shows a random number from 1 to 6 in a brightly illuminated standard dice layout, and announces the number as well.
The federal disability portal, disability.gov, has published an excellent article on the iPad's built-in accessibiltiy features.
Amazon has released a version of its Kindle software for the PC with some additional accessibility features:
- Text-to-speech reading with adjustable voice settings
- Voice-guided menu navigation
- Large font sizes
- High contrast reading mode
- Keyboard navigation
- Accessible shortcuts
Note that this is not a software mod for the Kindle device -- it's Kindle book reading software for a Windows PC.
President Obama has signed into law the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, which will protect blind and other pedestrians from injury as a result of silent vehicle technology. Blind pedestrians listen to traffic to pick up cues that allow them to travel safely and independently. Other pedestrians, bicyclists, and runners also benefit from hearing the sound of vehicle engines, which can be very quiet or even non-existent in some new vehicles. The new law will require manufacturers to add an acceptable synthetic sound whenever the vehicle is in motion.
"Fix the Web" lets you fill out a simple form to report web accessibility problems. Their volunteers contact the erring website; all you have to do is report the problem.
Google has put together a few simple, clear videos on making technology easier to use, aimed at elders but good for anyone who's not a digital whiz. The portal page is fun and friendly.
AT&T is offering a new video relay app at the iPhone App Store. It works with the iPhone 4's FaceTime camera feature, and allows relay calls between a sign language user on the iPhone to communicate with anyone else via a sign language interpreter.
California has a program that distributes free accessible telecommunications solutions to people with disabilities. The products include amplifiers, TTYs, big button phones, talking CallerID, and other devices and accessories. The program requires an application and certification.
To find similar programs in other states, visit the Telephone Equipment Distribution Program Association, TEDPA.
According to a recent study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, 1 in 20 children has hearing loss in one ear.
"Hearing loss in one ear can stem from congenital abnormalities in the ear, head trauma or infections such as meningitis. Children with hearing loss in one ear may go undetected because they can appear to have normal hearing. Their difficulty hearing may be mistaken simply for lack of attention or selective hearing, says Lieu, assistant professor of otolaryngology."
Hearing loss in one ear can produce significant challenges to the children with it, as it affects their language skills.
Poverty levels and maternal education levels are also evidently well-established influences on language skills, and hearing loss in one ear may increase that effect.
YouTube has a version with fewer, larger controls than the standard site. called Enlargement XL. This makes it easier for people who use keyboard navigation, have trouble reading the screen controls, or have difficulty figuring out what to do next.
There's also a low vision and learning disability YouTube interface, called Simpler LD, which is very simplified and very large print.
Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox 360 is a gaming system operated entirely by gestures and voice commands; no button presses are required. The system asks each user to emulate specific physical positions and sets up a user-specific profile based on the results. Because of the height and body orientation defaults for this calibration process, some wheelchair users have reported that the system does not yet work well for them. However, some users with impaired dexterity may appreciate not having to hold a controller or press buttons; there are also reports that Kinect's intuitive interface is well-suited for children with autism.
Several Android apps are available to record information about tasks and provide timely reminders. These can be invaluable to people with congential cognitive disabilities, as well as people with acquired disabilities due to strokes or similar causes.
Writing grips can make holding and using a pen or pencil easier for someone with dexterity disabilities. These devices, or variations, can also be useful with styluses, which are used as input aids with some portable hardware devices.
ZoomText is a popular screen magnifier program for Windows. A complementary keyboard is available with large print letters and added hotkeys for ZoomText functions. This tutorial video from the INDATA project shows an older version of the keyboard; the new keyboard has similar functionality, but uses icons instead of text for labels.
DAISYtoEPUB software converts files in the accessible DAISY format into a form that can be read on popular mainstream e-readers such as the iPad, Nook, standard computers, etc.
TidyRead is a free Firefox add-on that removes graphics, enlarges text, and allows the reader to customize background, text, and link colors.
Apple has added a section on special education to its iTunes App Store. We will keep you posted on what's there and how it works.
Kindle for Mac software now has features that allow users to add notes, highlight passages, and search for text. These features will be particularly useful for people with visual and learning disabilities.
The Microsoft Accessibility Website was recently redesigned. A key goal of the website is to make it easier to find information either by product name or by type of content such as Tutorials, Guides, and Centers.The website features information about different types of assistive technology and the ability to purchase those, along with demos and tutorials on how to use the products.
Just Free Books is a search engine that can browse 700+ websites to find free copies of books in text and audio formats.