Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Apple to Make iTunes 8 and iPod Completely Accessible to the Blind [Apple]

Apple has committed to work with the state of Massachusetts to use its VoiceOver technology from Mac OS X to make its iTunes and iPod ecosystem fully usable for the blind. Before the agreement, Apple had already been making strides: VoiceOver and Braille support for OS X and closed captioning for iPod and Apple TV have already been implemented to a degree. But Apple's taking it even further.

The 4G iPod nano features an optional spoken interface to help with audio navigation, and the new hardware includes blind-friendly features like the “shake to shuffle” function (we were wondering who that was for!). Apple's new mic-integrated headphones provide tactile controls on the cable, and can also be used to receive vocal commands. But most importantly, Apple has promised in this agreement to flesh out its compatibility and make iTunes 8 and iTunes U 100% accessible for the blind by the end of the year, as well as donating $250,000 to the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. As much as I rail against Apple, this is a really worthwhile cause and makes me feel pretty warm and fuzzy towards the White Overlords. [AppleInsider]

Monday, September 29, 2008

Knetwit: Share and earn

Knetwit is a new, exciting social networking and knowledge collaboration site that is available to students and teachers at colleges around the world. Knetwit creates an online academic environment where the college community can share notes, ideas, issues, and content from their educational journey. Knetwit enables the community to share its resources and be more successful in their studying. Students can share notes and gain other perspectives on their classes; teachers can post supplemental study materials.

Knetwit also allows users to profit from their posted content. Any users uploaded content earns the user Koin every time it is viewed or downloaded. Koin can be redeemed for cash via PayPal. All you need to begin is a note you would like to upload and be signed in to Knetwit.

Knetwit is free to use; free to upload, free to search and free to download.

Click on the link below:


Friday, September 26, 2008

Zamzar - Free online file conversion

Have you ever wanted to convert files without the need
to download software, well now you can! Just select the file you want to convert and Zamzar converts online and emails you the converted file.

Here is a list of what it can convert Conversion Types

Click on the link below:


Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Absolutely free Super simple video calling. There are two versions: TokBox desktop software and TokBox Firefox Add-on for Facebook. Tokbox is a free service that lets you talk with your friends over live video.

What is TokBox: www.tokbox.com/view/about

Mac OS X Accessibility For Beginners

You can start to educate yourself about these free accessibility functions by reading the Mac OS X Accessibility for Beginners series.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Speech-to-Text: Dictation software for OS X

This article is a significantly updated version of the article “Speech-to-Text: Dictation software for OS X“, originally published in November 2007.

Speech-to-text software, sometimes known as dictation software, is something that lets you talk to the computer in some form and have the computer react appropriately to what you are saying. This is totally different to text-to-speech software that can read out text already in the computer, although the two are often confused.

There are two types of speech-to-text software available. One type is called “command and control” and it lets you speak commands to your computer to control it - for example a command that it understands might be, “go to the Apple website” or, “tell me the time”, but you can only speak things the computer is already set up to understand; you can’t use this software to write an email or use iChat.

Command and control software for the Mac - known as “Speakable Items” (or sometimes, confusingly, “spoken commands”) - is already built into every OS X computer, although most people don’t know about it. So you don’t need to download, buy, or install anything to get this software to work. You would probably need a good USB microphone though, and if you don’t have American-accented English then the computer probably won’t understand you very well. Some resources for getting you up and running with Speakable Items include:

The other type of speech-to-text software is usually called “dictation” software. This is the type that lets you write an article like this one, type stuff to your friends in iChat, or type an email. There used to be a version of IBM’s ViaVoice for OS X but it hasn’t been updated for several years and is no longer available. There is only one dictation-capable speech-to-text software available for OS X which is being updated and developed and it’s MacSpeech Dictate. Dictate is the successor to a program named iListen which MacSpeech used to produce.

MacSpeech Dictate iconLike all dictation-capable text-to-speech products, MacSpeech Dictate works very well for some people and very badly for others. Whether it will work for you depends on many things including: how much effort you’re willing to put into learning it, how good your microphone is, your age (text to speech usually works less well for children), how much your accent matches what the program expects, and whether your voice changes a lot through the day. MacSpeech Dictate is also very new software - it was only released on the 15th of February, 2008 - and like most new software it’s missing some major features. Ones which will be of significance to users with a disability include:

  • No way to control the mouse by voice
  • Can’t be taught new words, such as names or jargon specific to your profession
  • Correction it doesn’t yet learn from being corrected

MacSpeech have announced that correction and spelling features are currently in private beta testing and will be released in a free upgrade as version 1.2 as soon as possible.

I tried using the old iListen a few years ago and could not get results that were useful, an on-screen keyboard was the best solution at the time. Although MacSpeech Dictate is in its infancy as a program, its recognition of my particular voice is hugely better than iListen’s was. This is not surprising though, as MacSpeech Dictate’s speech recognition engine is based on the same engine used by Windows’ Dragon NaturallySpeaking - widely recognised as the best consumer speech recognition available.

MacSpeech Dictate requires the Tiger or Leopard operating system and a compter with an Intel chipset. It’s currently available for English dialects only - US English, US Teen English, UK English, Australian English, Indian English (as in India, not Native American), South-East Asian English.

- Ricky Buchanan

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just released today! The iRex Digital Reader 1000 series

Thanks to the electronic paper display, reading iRex Digital Reader's screen is as sharp and natural as reading ink on paper and nothing like the strain and glare of a computer screen.

The 10.2 inch display is ideal for reading almost any digital document, even A4 or letter-sized documents look great on the iRex Digital Reader.

Click on the link below:

iRex Digital Reader

Friday, September 19, 2008

Searchme Visual Search

Searchme lets you see what you’re searching for. As you start typing, categories appear that relate to your query. Choose a category, and you’ll see pictures of web pages that answer your search. You can review these pages quickly to find just the information you’re looking for, before you click through.

Click on the link below:


The following external link(s) are provided for supplemental information only and unfortunately are not captioned for the hearing impaired.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Jott makes sure you stay on top of everything. With a simple phone call to 866-JOTT-123, you can capture notes, set reminders and calendar appointments, stay in touch with friends and family, and interact with your favorite web sites and services...all with your voice!

Click on the link below:


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Opera Web Browser Accessibility Features

Accessibility in Opera

At Opera we strive to offer a better Internet experience for all, regardless of device, platform, or visual or mobile impairment. As a result, the Opera browser is the most accessible browser on the market today. Please go to the separate documents below to learn how you can adapt Opera to your needs.

Visual impairments

Low vision

  • Zoom and full-screen mode
  • Change link and text colors, text size, and button size
  • Disable animations, video, and audio applications
  • Implement your own style sheet


  • Sound alerts
  • Screen reader compability

Visual impairments

Mobility impairments

  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Mouse gestures
  • Auto-completion

Mobile impairments

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Icon for PDFpenPDFpen is a PDF editing and form-filling application for Mac OS X. PDFs are important to many people with disabilities because scanned documents are usually converted to PDF format. So for those who can’t handle physical paper, being able to edit or add to a PDF file is important. PDF files are also used frequently for online documents, especially those of a more “official” nature such as bills and bank statements.

PDFpen lets you replace text in original PDF files with editable text blocks. You can move, resize, copy and delete images, overlay text and images onto PDF files, insert and remove pages, reorder them using drag and drop, copy and paste rich text content, select and copy text across multiple columns and more.

Some of these things - copying and deleting sections from a page, and inserting/removing and reordering pages - can now be done by the Preview program in Leopard. The version of Preview included with Tiger did not allow for inserting/removing or reordering pages in a PDF.

There are a helpful screencast tutorials for PDFpen available too. I suggest anybody considering this program watches these to get a clearer idea of what it can do.

Website: PDFpen

- Ricky Buchanan

Friday, September 12, 2008

Plastic Logic Reader

Differentiated by a stunning form factor (the size of 8.5 x 11-inch paper), the Plastic Logic reader features a big readable display. Yet it's thinner than a pad of paper, lighter than many business periodicals, and offers a high-quality reading experience - better than alternatives of paper or other electronic readers on the market today.

The Plastic Logic reader supports a full range of business document formats, such as Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint, and Adobe PDFs, as well as newspapers, periodicals and books. It has an easy gesture-based user interface and powerful software tools that will help business users to organize and manage their information. Users can connect to their information either wired or wirelessly and store thousands of documents on the device. The reader incorporates E Ink technology for great readability and features low power consumption and long battery life. The Plastic Logic reader is scheduled to ship in the first half of 2009.

Click on the link below:

Plastic Logic Reader

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Apples Universal Access Features

Apple has built many accessibility solutions directly into its products as standard features. VoiceOver, screen reading technology that’s part of Mac OS X, provides voice description and offers plug-and-play support for Braille displays. For those who find it difficult to use a mouse, Spotlight search technology makes it easy to launch applications and find files, images, calendar events, or Wikipedia entries using a keyboard. And iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, and other products support closed captioning.

Click on the link below:

Universal Access

Acccessing Microsoft Accessibility Features

This is a great page to find out how you can access the great accessibility features that are built-in the Windows operating system.

Click on the link below:

Windows Accessibility Features

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Alerts.com is your personal information management destination where you are in control of the information you need.

In today’s hectic world we are all inundated with more information than we can possibly manage. We often have a difficult time sorting out what is relevant, important, or urgent to us. At Alerts.com we believe today’s exciting technologies can be leveraged to be of assistance to you. These technologies can give you the ability to receive just the information you need when you need it. Delivered in the form of alerts, notifications, and/or reminders via email, text message, instant messaging, or even voice, we empower you to better manage your life.

Click on the link below:


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Remember The Milk

Manage tasks quickly and easily.

An intuitive interface makes managing tasks fun. Set due dates easily with next Friday or in 2 weeks. Extensive keyboard shortcuts make task management quicker than ever.

Click on the link below:

Remember The Milk

Friday, September 5, 2008

Docstoc Sync

The Easiest Way to Put Your Documents Online

Docstoc Sync is a simple downloadable application that automatically syncs documents from your computer to Docstoc MyDocs. Effortlessly upload your documents and keep them private for easy access anytime, anywhere. Or publish any document or folder of documents publicly on Docstoc by putting it in your "Docstoc Public Documents" folder from your desktop.
  • Automatically sync your computers My Documents folder with Docstoc MyDocs
  • Easiest way to publish with drag and drop desktop folder
  • Fastest way to publish documents online
  • Access your documents anytime, anywhere
  • Mirror any folder on your hard drive to MyDocs
  • Works for both PC and Mac
  • Wednesday, September 3, 2008


    Why You Should Be Using Evernote

    A universal capture application is only as good as its ability to catch information no matter where you are and what you're doing. With support for accessing and adding notes from your cellphone, through any web browser, or through the desktop version, the most popular note-taking application Evernote is perhaps the closest option to a true universal capture tool available next to plain old pen and paper.


    StudyRails helps students overcome procrastination, control online distractions (e.g.: YouTube, Facebook, Instant Messaging), and stay on track with homework assignments. StudyRails creates a step-by-step, personalized study plan, sends email and cell phone reminders when it’s time to study, and blocks distracting websites, software and games during study time to keep students focused on their schoolwork.

    Click on the link below: