Global Accessibility Awareness Day – Apple Accessibility – Designed for everyone Videos

Today May 18th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day and to mark the occasion Apple have produced a series of 7 videos (also available with audio description) highlighting how their products are being used in innovative ways by people with disabilities. All the videos are available in a playlist here and I guarantee you, if you haven’t seen them and you are interested in accessibility and AT, it’ll be the best 15 minutes you have spent today! Okay the cynical among you will point out this is self promotion by Apple, a marketing exercise. Certainly on one level of course it is, they are a company and like any company their very existence depends on generating profit for their shareholders. These videos promote more than Apple however, they promote independence, creativity and inclusion through technology. Viewed in this light these videos will illustrate to people with disabilities how far technology has moved on in recent years and make them aware of the potential benefits to their own lives. Hopefully the knock on effect of this increased awareness will be increased demand. Demand these technologies people, it’s your right!

As far as a favorite video from this series goes, everyone will have their own. In terms of the technology on show, to me Todd “The Quadfather” below was possibly the most interesting.

This video showcases Apple’s HomeKit range of associated products and how they can be integrated with Siri.

My overall favorite video however is Patrick, musician, DJ and cooking enthusiast. Patrick’s video is an ode to independence and creativity. The technologies he illustrates are Logic Pro (Digital Audio Workstation software) with VoiceOver (Apple’s inbuilt screen-reader) and the object recognizer app TapTapSee which although has been around for several years now, is still an amazing use of technology. It’s Patrick’s personality that makes the video though, this guy is going places, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had his own prime time TV show this time next year.

App Review: Be My Eyes for iPhone


So, first of all, I need to nail my colours to the mast here, so to speak: I’m a huge Apple fan. This is mainly because, since 2009, all of Apple’s products have come with built-in screenreading technology, which enables someone who is blind – such as myself – to interact with an iPhone completely independently.


In the last seven years, many, many apps have been developed for the specific use of blind users. I use a lot of these, which I might talk about in future posts, but today I’d like to mention one in particular – Be My Eyes:

is an app which allows blind people to “borrow” the eyes of a sighted volunteer, through a live video chat system.


This app is very simple to use, is free on IOS (an Android version is still in the works), and means that, for me, I’m not always relying on the same people to help me.


Its uses are endless – because blind people might have scaled mountains and crossed the South Poll, but we still can’t read the expiry date on a packet of ham without help.


Since I discovered Be My Eyes three days ago, I’ve used it for everything from the trivial – making sure my outfit matched when I was going on a night out – to the more important – not mixing up cough syrup with another medicine.


For me, as for most people, independence is all about choices: I can struggle for the sake of pride, or I can seek a little help. Be My Eyes allows me to ask for that help without feeling self-conscious or like I’m asking the same people repeatedly.


So, whether you’re sighted and fancy a little volunteering , or you have a visual impairment and need to know when your milk is about to go off, then this is a really handy little app.



you’ve used this app, or have any other app recommendations, it’d be great to hear your thoughts!



The Old with the New

Finger on Braille print
My name is Christina, I’m twenty-five, and I’ve been blind since birth. Being born three months early can mess with a person’s retinas.
To say that technology Is important to me would be a massive understatement – I honestly wouldn’t have been able to manage in mainstream education without it.

However, My favourite and most useful technological advance isn’t new –
It‘s actually over 200 years old. It’s Braille.

In case you’re wondering, Braille is a system of reading and writing used by many blind people the world over.  It’s made up of various combinations of a six-dot cells,
(think of the number six on a dice).

For me, Braille is my ink. Braille, Despite its age, has been built into new technology just like many other adaptations; For example, I’ve gone from using a Perkins Brailler, which is basically a typewriter with only six keys, to a Braille display, which converts the information on a computer screen into Braille (I’m not an engineer, so I don’t understand how that’s possible). You can even turn on a setting on an iPhone which allows you to type in Braille – that’s pretty good for a system that’s been around since 1809.

I’ve used Braille for everything since I was five – library books came through the door in big bags, like pizza delivery bags; they even had children’s magazines, which became teenage magazines. It didn’t matter that the title wasn’t exactly the same – the content was what mattered.

All through college, especially because I studied languages, Braille helped me hugely to learn spelling and grammar. If I want to remember something, I find the physical act of putting pen to paper, so to speak, helps me to memorise.

So to sum up, Braille is more important to me than all modern technology – because for me it’s part of every piece of modern technology.

Free and open source software


Free and open source software

Here is a nice guide put together by JISC in the UK.  It’s a guide of Free and open source software (FOSS).

Many FOSS tools can benefit learners and those with (or without!) a disabilities.  There are thousands of tools available.

On the guide the tools have been grouped by type so that they may be of benefit for specific purposes or needs.  For example Audio tools to enable you to record and/or listen to material or Display enhancement tools to need help with either displaying or working with text and graphics.

Before downloading any free and open source software we recommend keeping your computer secure using antivirus software.

JISC blog on FOSS

For other useful resources in Jisc see their blog page

Accessible presents for Christmas

toy carFinding accessible toys may at first may seem a difficult task. However there are various options from toys that are switch adapted to toys that are accessible by the nature of their design. The following information has been prepared by Enable Ireland’s National Assistive Technology Service to show some of the options and resources that you might want to consider.

The toys shown are not necessarily recommendations but simply a selection of items which may be of interest, particularly at times such as Christmas and birthdays, when presents are high on the list of priorities.

Download Accessible Apps Games and Toys in pdf (1.4MByte)

Roadshow for Assistive Technology and Low Vision Aids

Low vision aid

NCBI will be hosting its annual technology roadshow from the 22nd to the 24th of October in three locations around Ireland.  Suppliers of assistive technology and low vision aids as well as low tech aids for independent living will exhibit products that can be of aid to the vision impaired in the home, school and work environments.  It’s a good opportunity to see what is available.

Wednesday 22nd October – Wexford

Venue: Talbot Hotel (Slaney Suite),11.00 AM – 3.00 PM

Thursday 23rd October – Athlone

Venue: Shamrock Lodge Hotel, 11.00 AM – 3.00 PM

Friday 24th October- Dublin

Venue: NCBI – Drumcondra (Training Centre), 10.00 AM – 2.00 PM


Ash Technologies:

Enhanced Vision:

Rehan Electronics:

Sight and Sound:

VisionAid Technologies:


Have your say in the Access Rules for Broadcasting

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has set out draft Access Rules for Public Consultation.   The Consultation sets out the proposed amount of subtitling, Irish Sign Language and audio description which Irish television broadcasters must provide  for the period 2014 – 2018.

The rules set out the amount of subtitling, Irish Sign Language and audio description which Irish television broadcasters must provide to increase the understanding and enjoyment of television for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, partially sighted or blind.

For example, in 2013, TV3 was required to subtitle between 41% and 45% of programming.

  • Do you have any any thought on any particular type of programs that should be subtitled? Or for any specific part of the day?
  • Any opinion in relation to the quality, reliability or quantity of current access provision?

If so its worth having your say in the consultation.  The consultation is open until Wednesday 23rd July 2014.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s draft Access Rules document and how to submit a response  is available here:

Accessible Apps

How to be Blind is a community driven website with multiple podcasts and blog posts on a variety of subjects.  These can cover subject such as techniques and advice for dealing with recent vision loss to discussion on the latest in the world of technology and accessibility.  They regularly cover accessible apps and programs and have a growing list of accessible apps and programs for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac.  You can view this on Accessible Apps.  Apps are broken into categories by device then listed in alphabetical order with a short description of what the app does.  Most of the apps listed have been covered and discussed on the HTB2 blog and podcast.


Pointing Magnifier

Screen shoot of Pointing Magnifier

Here is a nice magnifier which I have recently heard about.  For anyone who requires a screen magnifier for their computer it’s worth a look.  It works differently from most magnifiers in that the magnified section is obtained by a two stage process.   First the user places the cursor over the target area and then clicks any mouse button. This causes the area around the cursor to be magnified. While magnified, the user controls a standard mouse pointer inside the magnified area to preform click or drag within the magnified space.  After the user performs an action, the Pointing Magnifier returns to its original size.

For further information and download

Some other free options for display enhancements can be found at TechDis

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Global Accessibility Awareness Day logoGlobal Accessibility Awareness Day (MAY 15 2014) is a community-driven effort whose goal is to dedicate one day to raising the profile of and introducing the topic of digital (web, software, mobile app/device etc.) accessibility and people with different disabilities to the broadest audience possible.

There are lots of ways to participant, see some of the Virtual Events below,

In addition to in-person events, virtual events are being organized. We are adding events so keep checking back as May 15 gets closer.

Click each event to learn what is planned and how to register.

Inclusive Design 24

To mark GAAD, The Paciello Group will be holding 24 one-hour webinars on all things accessibility. The sessions range from beginner-to-advanced and are aimed at everyone from executives to web developers.

Learn more and register for one or more Inclusive Design 24 webinars

Register for Free on May 15 for Siteimprove Web Accessibility Certification Courses

To celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Siteimprove will be offering its Web Accessibility Certification courses in their non-technical track for free. This free offer is only valid for those who register on May 15. While you need to register on May 15, you do not have to complete the non-technical track on May 15.

Learn more and register for Siteimprove’s free offer

Social Media Accessibility Google+ Live Hangout

Join Danya International on May 15, 2014 at 11AM EST, for a 1-hour Google+ Live Hangout to discuss social media accessibility on Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Moderated by Jennifer Smith, their in-house accessibility strategist, expert panelists will discuss how to make current platforms more accessible, as well as how we should approach developing new platforms.

Register for the Danya International Google+ Live Hangout

Web Accessibility Tools In Action Webinar

Desire2Learn’s Sean Yo is hosting a webinar called Web Accessibility Tools In Action on May 15 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EST.

Register for Desire2Learn’s webinar

Free FREE 15 Minute Accessibility Snapshot Critique of Your Digital Content via Skype

In appreciation of Global Accessibility Awareness Day on 15th May 2014, The Digital Accessibility Centre are offering free accessibility critique on any of your digital content via Skype. Join us on Skype where their user testing team will remotely show you bite-sized critique on any aspect of your digital estate using different assistive technologies to interact with your site or app.

Do not delay in reserving your space for this free session with Digital Accessibility Centre

40% discount on the Book A Web for Everyone

Rosenfeld Media is offering a generous (40%) discount on the book A Web for Everyone in celebration of GAAD. This discount is only available on May 15.

Learn how to obtain the Rosenfeld Media discount

Free 30-day access to Accessibility Fundamentals Course

Deque Systems is marking GAAD by providing access to a course in their online training library, Deque University called Accessibility Fundamentals. This offer is only valid on May 15.

Learn more about this free 30-day Deque University offer

Global Accessibility Awareness Day: Global Accessibility Review Webinar

Join AbilityNet and an international network of accessibility specialists in celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day. You will hear from accessibility experts from around the world, talking about their current concerns and future trends, including:

  • How can WCAG respond to the growth of the Internet of Things?
  • How will an apparent growth in accessibility-related litigation in the USA impact on other countries?
  • The take up of digital TV in Australia
  • Accessible social media
  • and much more.

Learn more and sign up for this free AbilityNet Webinar (1-2pm BST, Thursday 15 May)

Multiple Perspectives on Implementing Web Accessibility in Higher ED May 14

In the lead-up to GAAD, join George Mason University’s Assistive Technology Initiative for this 90-minute webinar on May 14 where accessibility professionals in higher education and the federal government will engage in an interactive discussion on strategies for addressing web accessibility challenges on their respective institutions.

Learn more and register for the May 14 AccessibleMason Webinar

Test the accessibility of your prospectus

Join Jisc TechDis May 15 for this online workshop to learn how to test the accessibility of your organisation’s prospectus. This practical and interactive session, will take you through 5 basic checks.

Learn more and register for the Jisc TechDis webinar

Get a One-Minute or Less Video Captioned Free

To mark GAAD, is offering captioning of one-minute videos until May 15.

Get more information about this free captioning offer

Answer and Win with BarrierBreak on May 15

BarrierBreak recently launched a website on Accessible Media, as an initiative towards making videos accessible to all. To mark GAAD they will be holding contests on their facebook page around accessible media. Answer simple questions and you get a chance to win BarrierBreak gift vouchers.

Check BarrierBreak’s Facebook page on May 15

Free quick accessibility review on May 15

Kimberley Tew is offering to provide a free, quick assessment of a website or app of your choosing on May 15. It won’t be an in-depth report or a guide to how to fix the problems but it will be a pointer to where you could make some improvements that you can then take away and consider how you could fix any problems.

Learn more about how to get this free review

Accessibility Jam May 11 to June 4

Game Jolt is hosting a virtual Accessibility Jam from May 11 to June 1 to coincide with GAAD. The goal of this jam is to raise awareness, giving developers knowledge and experience of how to make mainstream video games accessible to gamers with disabilities, to provide good examples of what’s possible, and move accessibility towards being widely accepted good practice in the game design process.

Participate in Accessibility Jam May 11 to June 1

Adding Value to your Organization with Inclusion of People with Disabilities

Canon USA will host this educational webinar on May 15th (2:00PM – 3:00PM EST) featuring Debra Ruh (CEO, RuhGlobal) a global disability inclusion and accessibility advocate as our guest speaker. In this webinar, Debra Ruh will define the PwD market, highlight key market trends taking place in the PwD community, and outline the business case for hiring PwD. This will be followed by a short presentation from Canon describing our solutions which can help make technology more accessible to office workers.

Register for this Canon USA webinar