Using 3 D Printing to make our Bloom Garden accessible to people with vision impairment

Enable Ireland’s Garden, ‘Beyond Boundaries’ was an award winner at Bloom in the Park this year. With a focus very much on Access for All, we wanted to see how we could make the garden more easily accessible to Bloom visitors with vision impairment. So we decided to make a tactile book with a small selection of the plants featured in the garden, printed using a 3 D Printer. Here are the results. We got a lot of really good feedback from visitors, and now the book is located in our Garden Centre in Sandymount, where customers can check it out for themselves.

What do you think of this idea? Have you used 3 D printing to enhance access to other services/facilities? We’d love to learn from your experience!

Tactile map of Bloom Garden

Tactile book cover with map of Enable Ireland Bloom Garden

Tactile Japanese Maple Leaf

Tactile Book: 3 D Print of Japanese Maple Leaf

3 D Print of Sacred Bamboo Leaf

Tactile Book: 3 D Print of Sacred Bamboo Leaf

3 D Print of Silver Birch Leaf

Tactile Book: 3 D Print of Sacred Bamboo Leaf

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:

www.bemyeyes.org

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.

 

If

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

 

Note: DO NOT GIVE OUT PERSONAL INFORMATION OVER THE APP

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

Exhibitors:

Ash Technologies: http://www.ashlowvision.com

Enhanced Vision: http://www.enhancedvision.co.uk

Rehan Electronics: http://www.rehanelectronics.com

Sight and Sound: http://www.sightandsound.co.uk

VisionAid Technologies: http://www.visionaid.co.uk

Ultracane: http://www.ultracane.com

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: http://access.baifuture.ie/

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