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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Update on Facebook

For the first time in a while, facebook is now accessible to me and others through Window Eyes, and possibly Jaws also. The media portion of facebook is still sketchy, with multimedia potentially inhibiting the user's ability to hear the screen reader. Another issue that has surfaced is the capability to obtain a screen reader. For users of Microsoft office, you can download Window Eyes for free at www.windoweyesforoffice.com. As far as social media, facebook seems more accessible now, without having to use Facebook Lite, which leaves a lot of features intentionally omitted. Hopefully, now blind and visually impaired people can enjoy facebook like everyone else.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Audio Games on the Iphone

The world has been expanding for media in today's society. As I have mentioned previously, audio games, are sound versions of computer games for the visually impaired. Now, you can play games on mobile devices such as the Iphone. Such games further take advantage of screen reading software, and more people are playing them today.
However, it has been brought to my attention that blind people have had extremely difficult times with the apps store, specificly that of Apple's apps store. Concerns have been raised that Blind and sighted inviduals have been prevented from uploading games due to lack of a graphics display. This has only hastened the need for better awareness of accessibility and special needs.

Many of Apple's products, such as the new tablet, have been marketed as visually appealing. I can understand how visual appearance is important for a first impression, but I fail to see how graphics and visuals represent an exaustive and complete list of people's needs in entertainment. Factors such as a good storyline and great music and sound can also make a great game. It is actually sad in a way to know that initial looks are still given greater importance to substance, and this is the result. We should all do more to encourage objective ways of thinking.

As I mentioned before, I believe that sighted people would happily enjoy the concept of audio games, just simply for something different. I also feel once again, that sighted people are open minded enough to consider other forms of gaming to be exciting. I am glad at least Apple seems to be changing their minds, and plans maybe in the works to change policy. I hope we can see an active gaming community that enjoys any form of games to enjoy and share with their family and friends. I am excited to see how mobile devices impact audio games in the future.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Audio Downloads

I have mentioned previously that you can go to Tom Lorimer's web site at www.whitestick.co.uk, for various resources for the blind and sighted web surfers alike. Now on the downloads section, you can find a variety of software programs that are simple to download. The web site is fully accessible to screen readers, and the downloads bipass any unwanted extras, like tool bars and viruses. I prefer this method to other sites for downloading software programs.

One of the programs I enjoy, is a tool that sounds like it can copy cds to mp3s, in a way that's fully accessible. The program is call Audio Grabber, and feedback is positive. I look forward to personally testing this program out in the future. This is one of the examples of quality programs on the downloads section of the site.

I hope everyone enjoys this, and I look forward to your feedback. I would like to thank Tom Lorimer, and if you reached this blog through his site just now, please submit what your favorite programs are. I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Information Line

I, like everyone else prefers to always stay informed with current events and resources. Ever feel like you just needed somewhere you can go for vast amounts of different information at your finger tips? I have felt this same feeling. Now however, their is a telephone service that anyone can use. It's voice activated so that it's accessible for the visually impaired.

The number for the information line is 1-408-752-8052. When you call, you can say "tell me my choices", to get a verbal list of all the services that the information line has to offer. You can get everything from the weather to sports scores and even movie show times also. I have personally varified that you can also use the information line to connect to airlines for travel information, as well as checking the top news stories in a variety of categories. Their are no ads, and once again, it is completely free. You may have to see if long distance charges apply from your carier, but as far as I have been told, noone has yet reported any attempts to seek credit card information.

It is understandable that many people already have smart phones that they use for obtaining information and daily tasks. However, for those who aren't able to purchase or use a smart phone, they will find the information line a great resource for staying current. From a media aspect, you can get info on movies and news that they would otherwise listen for on the radio, such as weather and traffic reports. If you can't get online, call the information line

Friday, November 14, 2014

Please Don't Stop the Music

Over 100 million users are online listening to Pandora at any one time, claims the site. Many people have enjoyed internet radio and noone that I have met has ever told me that they don't listen to music in some way. People listen to music for a variety of reasons, and they love music that they can relate to through similar artists. I have mentioned the technology behind Pandora, now Google wants to join the act with music pages on You Tube.

You Tube has always contained music videos posted by users of every known artist or song. Record companies had a field day at first, even trying to fight this noble effort with legal action. I say noble because listening to music videos online has always served the purpose of connecting people with new music. Often times, people who watch music videos on You Tube have ended up buying cds and digital copies of songs and albums. Some people do just listen or watch music videos, but most people have a genuine heart to support there favorite bands. Finally, it seems that record labels have backed off and now more music videos and videos containing music are now populating You Tube's pages. Now Google wants to join the ranks of Pandora by now allowing registered users to have music pages, where You Tube arranges music videos for users based on previous videos and artists that they have listened to.

Once you log in to You Tube, you can go to a music home page on You Tube, where you can type in an artist or song. You tube then displays videos based on your search like normal, but as you click on videos to listen to, You Tube will then recommend videos of artists that it believes you will like. You can even create "playlists" of videos, just like how radio stations have playlists of songs. I haven't seen anywhere where you can thumbs up or down music, but I appreciate Google's attempt at the concept. Of course since You Tube is owned by Google, you can be sure that there are already measures to allow mobile devices to take advantage of the new features. Make sure to keep up to date with the latest features, so you will know what changes Googles has made to the service.

With radio being redefined all the time, and music being accessed differently, it's excellent to observe the ways in which people are enjoying great bands everywhere. It's also vital to note that you might even find music that hasn't made its way to Pandora yet, and You Tube might just be a different way to stay informed. Listeners around the world eagerly await the next great trend in music. Once again, Recommended Music services are stating there claim to that title. Wherever you are tuning in, remember that music will grow, just like every other form of media.

Darker Projects

Hollywood, a billion dollar or more industry that satisfies everyone's need for theatrical entertainment. Audio theater, as I have written about before, is a new form of theater based entirely of sound. The orriginal intention behind audio theater was to serve as a tribute to old time radio shows back in the 40's and 50's. I have been listening to audio theater on www.darkerprojects.com, where you can find a variety of sci-fi related offerings and some orriginal works. They also include recorded fan fiction on some of the most popular of series such as Star Treck and Doctor Who.

The orriginal idea for the web site took blind and visually impaired individuals in to consideration, and the site is fully accessible. However, the admin of the site has stated that they intend these productions to entertain everyone, even sighted people also. I listen to there productions online and you can also download them as well. I can surely tell you that I appreciate the time and effort that is placed in to these works, and I will continue to test out the various offerings for audio theater in other genres. With life essentially dictating that tv must contain repeats for most of the year in most cases, why not check out something different.

The minds that come up with audio theater like this should really be praised for what they have been accomplishing. Since even movies and regualar tv need good quality audio and music, I can imagine any number of production team members working on audio theater to be offered positions with major companies, if only mainstream media was aware of them. Thankfully Darker Projects is completely free, although donate options do exist if you wish to support the site. Most of the outlets for audio theater are actually run and maintained by people volunteering there time free of charge, and from the feedback I have come across through my inquirys, everyone agrees that these talented folks, especially the ones at Darker Projects, would be able to command a high salary somewhere should they wish. I am amazed at how technology is making media more accessible in every sence of the word, and I will continue to investigate greater forms of theater and audio.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Audio Bible

For those of you that attend church or study christianity, you can now find auditory versions of the bible in a variety of formats. I myself prefer the online versions of the bible, but it has come to light that many people listening to god's word over there radios from there mobile phones. They are also enjoying the opportunity to buy audio versions of the bible through cds and flash drives. The increasing use of audio bibles, just like other audio books has revealed a greater trend towards listening to media as opposed to reading.

A quick search on the apps' store will reveal several options for listening to the bible. The major versions can be located, ranging from the King James, to the New International Version, (NIV), and one should have no issue with finding a suitable format of listening. Like with most audio books, people who are listening to the bible say that it allows them a greater capability of concentration, when there attention is not having to be focused on reading pages with the eyes. It has also been demonstrated that people actually benefit from having multiple avenues of learning. So listening to audio is also a nice supplement to physical reading. If that were not enough inspiration for you to consider this new understanding of communication, remember that having audio versions of the bible, like other audio books, that can be taken on the go, will make it easier for people to read from anywhere.

I will cover audio books in general in a later post. The world is only opening for audio, and of course, the visually impaired will also greatly benefit from greater accessibility. I would love to hear what sorts of audio others have been listening to lately on there phones or tablets. I always welcome comments, and I look forward to the results of the vote on your favorite form of media.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Radio Locator

How important is it to stay organized? Now you can go to www.radioloacator.com for a complete comprehensive directory of radio stations from around the world. I have reviewed the site, and many of its elements are accessible to screen readers. The web site is also simple and cleanly layed out, and is easy to look at on the eyes, from what I have read so far. You shouldn't have any problems connecting to the different stations.
As I have mentioned before, many if not all radio stations have links to listen live on the internet. Instead of having to find a station's web site and go to it directly for the link to listen, now you just go to www.radiolocator.com and you can connect directly.

When you go to the site, you first narrow down and search for a particular station or category of stations to listen to. Info on the different stations will come up, and you click the link which will take you directly to the stream. This site is a real time saver, and you can now access radio easier than ever. I still enjoy television and I know others do to, but it's nice to know that radio isn't entirely dead, and that people aren't always on the road somewhere when they tune in to great listening.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Accessible Newspapers

Reading the newspaper has never been more accessible to the blind and visually impaired. Through a service provided through the NFB, you now can call a phone number to log in to a service that will you to listen to recordings of articles from a variety of newspapers. These newspapers range from anywhere in the United States. You do have to register, and you must varify that you are visually impaired in order to use the service.

You can find more information at www.nfb.org/newsline, and this is just another form of media that you can enjoy if you are blind or visually impaired. If you are not visually impaired, you can still take advantage of the internet, if you don't want to have to read a physical newspaper. Every major publication has an online version of there newspaper, that can be accessed free of charge in most cases. You can also go to www.onlinenewspapers.com, for a listing of major publications by country and type of publication. I myself like reading the Denver post online sometimes, and the New York Times is also a reliable source for screen reader accessibility, for those visually impaired that still prefer the internet over telephone news sources.


An incredible discovery has brought news to people like never before through media. Now the visually impaired can take full advantage of this opportunity. I also hope I have helped connect sighted people with news outlets as well, so let me know what you think and comment below.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Classic Broadcasts

What would it be like to listen to old time news and sports broadcasts? I was on www.otr.net, and I came across a collection of old news reports and actual recordings of classic sporting events. The broadcasts on www.otr.net are in real format, which you can play by downloading the free real player at www.real.com.

I discovered that on the other sites I mentioned regarding old time radio, a collection of actual breaking news and other reports from world war 2. World war 2 was one of my favorite times in history to study, and it was a golden opportunity to hear Churchhill and FDR for myself. These other sites use mp3 formats just like the old time radio shows. I, like most of you, reading this am a sports fan, and I enjoyed the ability to hear the Yankees and the Tigers back in the 1940's. If you watch the news or listen to sports, you will like this collection of classic media.