Hey all. I was perusing AppleVis just a few weeks ago as I often like to do, and came across the following blog post. Please note I have yet to try this new screen reader out. I might not even do that, but the jury's still out on this one. I was at first a bit skeptical about this, but upon further investigation I discovered that one of the guys involved with the project has been involved with screen reader development for many moons and is well-respected by many throughout the field of assistive technology. I have not met him in person, but I have been a frequent visitor to his blogs for a few years and have come to appreciate both his writing style and integrity.





Some of you may be asking yourselves why I don't just use VoiceOver, Apple's on-board screen reader. Well my friends, that is a very good question indeed. After all, I used the AppleIIE back in the day with its built-in speech. But that was not a screen reader, as defined by today's standards. Like I've mentioned previously on here, I have been a proud Mac user since 2014. Well actually I got my Mac 2 days after Christmas 2013, but I had to get used to a whole different operating system and that didn't happen overnight. Once I got the lay of the land on here, I naturally started to feel more comfortable again about the company. I think their accessibility folks have done a very nice job with VoiceOver, and it is sufficient enough for me at this time. I have not played around in the OS X terminal much if at all, so I can't and won't verify what others have said about VoiceOver's performance in there.





That said, I think this new screen reader has a lot of potential based on what I've read. What's more, people who know me well will tell you that I like to tinker around with things and they're absolutely right. I'm approaching this with a fair amount of caution as I don't want to break anything. I'm not a programmer. But here's the link: https://is.gd/Fk6SYy . Do please check this out and, if you are so inclined, grab yourself a copy and show these guys a little love. I'll do likewise at some point.
Hi everyone. Well I'm back to give my thoughts on Apple's latest update to the Macintosh platform, called High Sierra. This was just unleashed on Monday to the masses, and as with their past few major updates I thought I'd play it safe and check AppleVis first. Sure enough, AppleVis has their run-down based upon testing carried out by the brilliant team of editors over there. Then on Monday night I started the update process. This didn't take quite as long as previous updates, perhaps due in part to me backing up my Mac beforehand via Time Machine. But I have done that now for some time. I went to bed, and within about fifteen minutes of being in bed I heard VoiceOver telling me that the installation process was a success. So I came back in here, turned off my charger and shut down for the night. Then when I booted up the next morning, I found I had the new update. I'm very pleased with it thus far. For those VoiceOver users who have yet to update or whatever, you're in for some good stuff.





First off, pdf support in VoiceOver is now much better. I tried this on a couple .pdfs so far, and am happy to report that they both work great. I haven't yet been able to test out an online .pdf, but I trust that Apple did the right thing and these are more accessible too.





The new feature that I'll mention here is image descriptions. This is still in its infancy, but based on what I've seen thus far it works well. Pressing Control-Option-Shift L on an image gives VoiceOver users a description of that image.





There are other things, but those are discussed elsewhere. So for those AT users and nonAT users alike who use Macs and wish to update, go ahead and do so. Or not, depending on how you feel. But don't come crying on my shoulder if bad things start happening, lol! You have been warned.
Hello to all my eclipse-loving readers. Hello to everybody else out there as well. I'm proud to announce that Monday's program about the Great American Eclipse of 2017 has now been archived for your listening pleasure. The direct link is as follows: https://is.gd/HQDGjw . I'd like to give a big shout out to the good folks over at ACB Radio, and the good folks over at the Audio Description Project, for doing a wonderful job and posting this.





As for me, I did get to watch the eclipse live from a car that was traveling to a doctor's appointment. We had on Chicago's NPR member station, WBEZ 91.5 FM. They were broadcasting tidbits about this and other eclipses along with some cool historical facts. Oh and yes, my follow-up doctor's appointment went well. I've only seen this doctor 3 times thus far, but he's great. Actually he was with another patient this time, so I saw one of his assistants.
I'm now at my parents' place and we're having a pizza party! But not outside 'cause of the storms. Tons of rain, lightning and thunder out there. I can hear it from up here in the bedroom.
Well, we did not end up watching an audio-described movie on Wednesday evening, but that's fine with me 'cause the movie we did watch had a lot of dialog. We saw "Police Academy," which we enjoyed. We also ate hot dogs, popcorn and chips. Or at least most of us did.
Why hello to everybody. It has once again been like forever since my last entry. But fear not, I'm still alive and kickin'. I've been busy with mostly good stuff, but with some bad things mixed in. I had a cold and my ears filled up with tons of wax. I was honestly not that sick, but I had a lot of trouble hearing and you can probably imagine how tough that gets for a blind guy like me, lol! But anyhow, I had eardrops put in both ears and then they were flushed out last week. Actually the process of flushing them out was kinda cool. I had it done once prior to last week, a few years back at the same office. For those of you who have never had this done, it tickles a bit. But I'm ticklish so that wasn't bad at all.





The other bad thing that happened was that my toilet seat busted. The good news however, is that just a few nights ago when my awesome father dropped me off here after a lovely Father's Day weekend, he brought not one, but 2 new toilet seats and lids and his toolbox and went to work. So I now have a brand-new seat and lid on my toilet. I have since had occasion to use the toilet in my apartment, and had no trouble thus far. I cannot thank my father enough for what he did. In addition, I cannot thank my neighbor across the hall enough for letting me invade his bathroom. Even though his bathroom is honestly not that great of a place, I was able to take care of business in there.
Hello everybody. Just last night I was perusing Dreamwidth as has been customary for me over the past few years, and I came across this entry which I am signal-boosting. I've never used the app in question, but as a longtime screen reader user who is passionate about accessibility I was disheartened to read the following information. I am therefore highly encouraging as many of my readers as possible to signal-boost this. Get it all over social media, do whatever you have to do to get the message out that this app must be made a lot more accessible. Due to time constraints I haven't yet checked out the page for this app, but I definitely plan to do so very soon. In addition to signal-boosting this, please feel free to comment here in this entry if you so desire.

http://onj.me/2wilx .

Thanks bunches, and hopefully these devs will someday wake up and smell the coffee.
Not all of my goals have been hard to accomplish, but some of them have been a bit difficult. For instance, I have a goal to be more independent with transportation. This goal has been a bit difficult for me but not impossible. Several years ago I applied for ADA paratransit certification, and at the time this service was rather disastrous. In order to reserve a single ride, I or my mother had to get up at the crack of dawn on the day prior to my scheduled trip. So for example, if my trip was on a Saturday I or my mother would've had to phone in on a Friday morning. At the time there was only one reservation line, and it was only open for a half hour each morning. Often times the carrier would call back at suppertime, and inform us they were going to have to bump my ride times back or ahead of schedule. The drivers at the time would often get lost, and they had to ask for directions from the passengers. I felt uncomfortable doing this, primarily due to the fact that I cannot see anything but light and dark, but also because these drivers were the ones supposedly getting us where we needed to go.





But there have since been several improvements made to our ADA paratransit service, and it is now so much better than before. As a matter of fact, I took a paratransit bus here to the heARTwords workshop. Today's trip went very well. However, there is still the thought in the back of my mind that one of my drivers will get lost and ask me for directions to my destination. This would be "Destination Unknown!" When I took paratransit to my parents' house a couple weeks ago, my mother was kind enough to email me directions to get there. Keep in mind that I had not previously traveled to this place by myself. But as it turned out, I didn't need her directions because these drivers now have GPS devices in their vehicles..
So that was a spammy request I gather? My IP address has not been blocked and works just fine.
Hi everyone. Hope all is well in your part of the world. Good. I'd like to introduce all my readers to a wonderful organization which I just found out about a couple weeks ago. But first, let me say that I'm in no way trying to convert anybody here to Christianity, Judaism or any such thing. Everybody has their personal preferences regarding religion, faith etc. and I am a firm believer in religious tolerance. Those of you who have heard of this organization are just being re-introduced to it whether you like it or not,. lol. Simply skip over this entry if you think you'll be bored to tears and/or offended by it.





I received an email a couple weeks ago from my mother, who had received information from a CIF staffer about an organization called Talking Bibles International. My mother asked me if I wanted one of their Bibles, and I immediately replied to her with an enthusiastic Yes. Being a lifelong Christian, I was not only intrigued about finally getting my very own Bible in an accessible format, but I also wanted to explore this organization more. So I immediately clicked on the website link in the email, and was taken to their home in cyberspace. I was pleasantly surprised to find a website that is completely accessible with VoiceOver and Chromevox Classic on the Mac. While waiting for my Bible to arrive, I explored the site. There is a whole section where you can listen to various parts of the Bible read in different languages, all for free. My Bible took about a week to get here, which I'd say is a sufficient amount of time. I cannot say much about this company's customer service, but it must be pretty good if the item arrived without a hitch.





As it turned out, I went to my parents' place about a week ago to celebrate a family member's birthday. I spent the night here, and after breakfast the next morning I had a look at the talking Bible. I was amazed at the size and weight of the thing. The website states that these Bibles look just like pocket Bibles, and they're not kidding. This thing only has a few simple controls, making it a breeze to operate. I was expecting at least some bells and whistles to go along with the narration, but there are none of these. At least I haven't found any thus far. But no worries there. Speaking of the narration, it is quite good. I hadn't heard this narrator prior to receiving the Bible. While this Bible does come with a USB adapter, it is powered by solar energy and therefore requires no batteries.





I highly recommend people check out this organization if they haven't already. Just point your favorite web browser to http://www.talkingbibles.org . Those of you regular churchgoers may also want to let your respective parishes know about this awesome organization.
I am currently in a good mood, because of the weather. It has once again warmed up a good deal, and I hope it stays like that this time. I am able to see sunlight. My mood has never been affected by the changes in weather, but still I like to get outside now and then. I only go out when it's nice and sunny. For example, this afternoon as I was waiting to be picked up for heARTwords, it was a bit warm and the sun was shining. There was a nice cool breeze blowing as well, which felt very good. Often times when I'm on my back porch with my neighbor from across the hall or by myself, I can feel the nice cool breeze blowing.





I like to listen to rain and thunder, but I don't like to be outside during a storm. This goes for snow as well. I've had to travel by foot in the snow and ice, and that's not fun at all. It is especially not fun when it's blustery out there.
I've had many a great meal throughout my lifetime. However, one which stands out in my mind took place at a nearby restaurant.





It was about 2 years ago, and I was with one of my friends from Best Buddies. We went to a restaurant called The Lucky Platter. We went there for supper. His name is Bill, and he was with me for almost 2-1/2 years. Bill read through the menu, and I made my choice. That evening I chose to have a gouda burger, with a side of smashed potatoes. I ordered an egg cream to drink.





First off I'd like to say a couple of things about the service at The Lucky Platter. Our server that evening was very friendly and attentive. She brought us exactly what we had requested, and she did so quickly. In addition, she talked directly to me rather than Bill when taking my order. After all, I can and do speak for myself. I forget what Bill had to eat and drink. But we both enjoyed our meal. My food came out nice and hot, and it was also fresh. This restaurant bakes their own bread with and without glutin I think. I'm not allergic to glutin, but this is what I've been told. It is very yummy! We did not order dessert that evening, but I had dessert at least once at The Lucky Platter. I've also had breakfast and lunch there with friends. I am not a wheelchair user, but this restaurant can be managed well by those who use wheelchairs.
Breakfast: For breakfast I usually have a bowl of cereal and/or fruit and toast. I also like pop tarts, doughnuts, muffins, and other kinds of pastries. But I've also been known to have omeletts, French toast, or corned-beef hash.





Lunch and dinner: My CIF life-skills tutor Dave helps me shop also for lunch and dinner items. We cook a lot of good things, and these are what I usually have for lunch and/or dinner.




I'm a big fan of dessert. I usually have a cookie or two or three. But sometimes I have other sweet stuff. I have a big sweet tooth!

Addendum

Feb. 26th, 2017 10:52 pm
Hi everybody. In my previous entry I mentioned NFB Newsline, a free service which makes newspapers and some other publications available to people who cannot read standard print or have trouble reading it. However, I neglected to give out the contact information for those who aren't subscribed to this wonderful service but wish to do so. It just might be good if I gave out that info, would it not? So, without further adieu and fanfare here it is. The NFB Newsline team can be reached by dialing (866) 504-7300 , and the dial-in number to log into the service itself is (888) 882-1629 . There is of course a website, for those preferring that method. The website is http://www.nfbnewsline.org . Happy reading and tell them I sent ya!
Hi everyone. I thought it was about time for another update from yours truly. As I write this, I'm just back from a relative's funeral. Not much to discuss there though: just the usual visitation followed by the funeral itself and spending time with family, both immediate and extended.





But I wanted to let everyone know that I am finally! having more of a desire to delve into politics. Why the change of heart, I hear you ask? Well, mainly because people have been bugging me about it. And yes, this includes my family. There are 2 reasons for my lack of involvement in the political process. First off, it has pretty much always been my belief that advocacy just doesn't work a lot of the time. There, I said it! Lol! I think this is particularly true when it comes to disability-rights advocacy, but it applies to other forms of advocacy as well. I've mainly seen it happen throughout Illinois, but I think it's true in a few other states as well. But the other reason I haven't been much for politics--perhaps somewhat related--is the lack of screen reader access to most if not all of these political websites. Enter NFB Newsline! If I can't travel independently very much, I figure I could at least read up on all that's going on. Sure I've heard some of it while listening to the radio, and while watching TV with family and friends. But I have for the most part been tuned out. I think this can be said of at least some other people though.





I have been an NFB Newsline subscriber now for several years. I've never been much of an NFB fan for the most part. While they have indeed done some very good things, a lot of it is just too hard-core for my bones. However, one of the great things that is going on at the NFB is Newsline. Like all other subscribers to the service, I started out only using it over the telephone. But when their website came online, I just had to investigate. So investigate I did, and I became acquainted with their site. But due to a rather hectic schedule, I basically put it on the back burner and kind of forgot about the website. But last week I went on there again. I am happy to report that the team has been hard at work adding great new content, and I for one am super excited to take full advantage of this excellent service. So thank you NFB Newsline team! Your hard work is definitely paying off, for me and for many others.
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It's a neighborly day in the beautihood.

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