[accesscomp] Fw: CSUN 2013 Wrap-up: What's New from The 28th Annual Dan's tip for march 27 2013

  • From: "Bob Acosta" <boacosta@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "tektalk discussion" <tektalkdiscussion@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2013 11:38:31 -0700

----- Original Message ----- 
From: dan 
To: dan 
Sent: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 7:22 AM
Subject: CSUN 2013 Wrap-up: What's New from The 28th Annual Dan's tip for march 
27 2013

CSUN 2013 Wrap-up: What's New from The 28th Annual International Technology and 
Persons with Disabilities Conference

J.J. Meddaugh

The following material has been added to this article by dan for enhanced 
access for the reader.


Each topic is numbered and preceeded with an asterisk.  One can use their 
perferred wordprocessor's find/replace feature to jump between topics.  Some 
entries include  access to an audio  mp3 file.  These have been inserted in 
text. A note above each indicating the next line contains a link to the audio 
file was also provided


The article starts next.


During the last week of February, an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people attended 
the 28th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities 
Conference held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. CSUN is the largest 
gathering of industry professionals, teachers, technology vendors, researchers, 
and others interested in access technology in the field, and companies often 
use the conference as a launching point for their latest products and services.

This year, we spent three full days in the exhibit hall attempting to soak in 
all that CSUN had to offer. While it's virtually impossible to see and try 
everything that was being shown, we'll do our best to highlight some of the 
most promising and latest innovations shown at this year's conference. AFB also 
sponsored audio podcasts provided by Blind Bargains, 



and we've linked to relevant audio interviews and demonstrations throughout 
this article, which you can listen to for further information.


*1. The Accessible TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator

The URL below provides access to a mp3 file about this topic.



One of the biggest innovations to be displayed on the hardware side was the 
Accessible TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator. The American Printing House for the 
Blind has collaborated with Orbit Research, makers of the iBill Money 
Identifier and the Orion Scientific Calculator, to create a fully-accessible 
version of this popular mainstream device, which is nearly ubiquitous in high 
schools. This is accomplished by attaching a small hardware keypad on the end 
of the calculator which provides a DECTalk speech chip and software to control 
the audio output. Graphs can be represented in several ways, the most notable 
being an audio mode where the X and Y axes are represented by panning from left 
to right and pitch, respectively. Graphs can also be sent to a braille embosser 
or be represented numerically. Basically, all of the regular buttons on the 
calculator work as expected and give accessible output. In addition, haptic 
feedback is included as an option and may be utilized for a variety of 
functions. This model was chosen, in part, because it is allowed to be used 
when taking standardized tests. The calculator is being tested now and should 
be available later this year. Pricing information is not currently available.


*2.  A New Victor Stream

The URL below provides access to a mp3 file about


HumanWare was demonstrating its second generation Victor Reader Stream, an 
update to the hugely popular digital book player. The device is roughly 30 
percent smaller than the original unit but retains a virtually identical button 
layout, making it simple for users to transition to the newer model. Among the 
included improvements is an 802.11N Wi-Fi chip, which is largely included for 
future enhancements. Currently, one can download firmware updates and National 
Library Service keys using a wireless connection, but free firmware updates 
will likely include ways to download digital book content as well. HumanWare 
has also addressed a couple of the main criticisms of the original Stream by 
including a clock and allowing for USB charging, the latter meaning that a 
dedicated proprietary power supply is no longer required to charge the unit. 
Acapela now provides the text-to-speech voice for the unit providing 
higher-quality speech though the recorded prompts are still used as well. Of 
note, due to a decision by Audible, support for the popular audiobook service 
is currently not included, but since Audible appears to be changing course, 
this could change in the near future. The new Stream retails at $369 and is 
available now.


*3.  Accessible GPS Returns to Mobile Devices

The URL below provides access to a mp3 file about this topic.



As Nokia and Windows Mobile phones were phased out, many users lamented the 
loss of fully-accessible GPS solutions, including Wayfinder Access and Mobile 
Geo. While turn-by-turn navigation from Navigon and Google and a patchwork of 
location apps filled some of this void, the search for a full-featured 
accessible GPS solution for modern cell phones continued. This is quickly 
changing, however, as the American Printing House for the Blind and the Sendero 
Group are in the process of releasing apps for Android and iOS devices.

APH recently released Nearby Explorer, a completely accessible GPS app 
originally created for the BraillePlus 18 PDA and, now, released for Android 
phones and tablets. Users can learn contextual information about what is around 
them, such as the current street name, nearest intersection, and nearby points 
of interest, provided by a local database and Google Places. While traveling, 
items can be selected to be spoken automatically, so the phone or tablet can be 
stored in a pocket. In addition to pedestrian and vehicular navigation, it 
includes support for many public transit agencies, allowing for browsing 
through the nearest bus and train stops and gaining route and stop information. 
Points of interest, whether on a street or in the middle of a field or parking 
lot, can be saved as favorites and returned to later. A Geo Beam feature allows 
you to point your device in a specific direction to hear nearby streets or 
points of interest. The map data is stored directly on the device, allowing for 
use in areas where there is no phone or data coverage. It's available now for 
$99 from Google Play.


*4.  iOS users also have a navigation app to look forward to with 


Sendero's Seeing Eye GPS, a collaboration between the Sendero Group and the 
Seeing Eye. Sendero is no stranger to the GPS landscape and is bringing some of 
its most loved and requested features to the mobile platform. Your current 
location, points of interest, and route are always present on the lower part of 
every screen. In addition to traditional map and points of interest data, the 
app features integration with the popular Foursquare location service to 
provide the latest information about nearby businesses. The Look Around Wand is 
similar to the Geo Beam feature described above and will speak nearby 
intersections and points of interest. It does not currently include virtual 
navigation features, but the version shown at CSUN and sent to testers as a 
preview is still being worked on. User feedback and suggestions will help guide 
the development of the app, according to Sendero.

Both GPS apps are currently focusing on maps from North America, but support 
for additional regions will likely be added in the future.


*5.  More Mobile Apps

The URL below provides access to a mp3 file about this topic. 


As in recent years, there was no shortage of mobile apps at this year's 
conference. Sight Compass lined the hotel with their Bluetooth-enabled 
information boxes, which could be accessed using a free iPhone app. Users could 
use the app to gain information about the hotel, including routes to various 
locations, the menu for Starbucks, even a description of the bathroom. The app 
requires no phone or Internet connection, a conscious decision by the 
developers so it could be used in places where phone reception is often 
difficult, such as basements and airports. Additional platforms for the app, 
including Android, Windows, and potentially Blackberry, are planned. Cost 
starts at $499 for a hardware box for businesses or organizations who wish to 
equip their locations with the technology.


*6.  LookTel 

The URL below provides access to a mp3 file about this topic.



showed an updated version of their Breadcrumbs GPS app, used primarily for 
locating or returning to a point such as your front door or a parked car. 


*7.  Other presenters:

a.  A new VoiceOver tutorial app was also shown. 

b.  In addition, The Braille Institute demonstrated several free apps including 
Big Browser, 

The URL below provides access to a mp3 file about this topic.



a web browser designed especially for low-vision iOS users.


*8.  New Low-vision Products

a.  Optelec has joined the trend of companies adding voice output and reading 
capabilities to their desktop electronic magnifiers. The ClearView Speech, 

The URL below provides access to a mp3 file about this topic.


a new add-on for the ClearView magnifier, features full-page OCR capabilities. 
Simply place your printed material under the screen, and it will be recognized 
within a few seconds. The entire page is recognized and can be read as opposed 
to just the content that is visible on the screen. The ClearView Speech will be 
available for $2,495.


b.  AI Squared 

The URL below provides access to a mp3 file about this topic.


AI Squared  took a different approach and has entered the computer-based 
reading market with the ImageReader, a document camera solution that interfaces 
directly with ZoomText or another screen reader. When used with ZoomText, text 
is highlighted as it is read and magnified and can be manipulated in a variety 
of ways. A mat is included to aid in lining up the page to be read. The 
ZoomText ImageReader retails starting at $749, but a significant discount is 
available for current ZoomText users. It will be available later this March.


*9.  New Updates for the BrailleSense Family


Hims made a big splash with its updates to the BrailleSense line of notetakers. 
The new free update, version 8.0, includes integration with the popular 
Dropbox, a cloud-based storage service. In addition, direct support for playing 
YouTube videos has been included as well as a viewer for Microsoft Excel 2003 
and 2007 files. Support for sending files directly to Epson printers and an RSS 
reader for keeping track of online news sites and downloading audio podcasts is 
also included in the forthcoming release. Hims tells us that an initial version 
of the 8.0 update should be released near the end of March.



*10.  Other Observations

In addition to myself, several members from the AFB staff attended the 
conference as well as some of the sessions. We've included their observations 
below, starting with a report on a session on emerging web technologies:


a.  Account from William Reuschel, AFB Tech National Technology Associate

HTML5, like any other emerging technology, is making its way towards maturity 
but isn't completely supported in any browser for any user agent (screen reader 
or not). Unfortunately, like most technology, considerations for accessibility 
are lagging behind feature implementation in HTML5 for all browsers and 
platforms. However, there are some promising features of HTML5 that will 
increase accessibility once the technology improves. These new features are 
user interface elements and other semantic markups that will allow the screen 
reader to capture more information about the design intent of the page being 
viewed. There are tags such as "article," "header," and "nav," which would 
allow users to skip directly to the navigation section of the page or skip 
directly to the article or main content of the page. In addition, there are a 
few new UI elements that are being implemented that will replace custom 
implementations in another language, such as JavaScript. These are things like 
"meter," which will show a gas-gauge type element that could be used to show 
progress, or "video" or "audio" tags that allow closer integration of 
multimedia elements within a page. All of these new features will help web 
programmers, screen reader developers, and users because there will be a 
standard set of UI elements to expect instead of hundreds of custom 
implementations in a persnickety language like JavaScript. This all depends, of 
course, on whether or not we can get anyone to conform to a standard on the 
Web. The presenter created a website (last updated in September) of all the 
major browsers and the status of HTML5 accessibility.



b.  Account from Crista Earl, AFB Director of Web Operations

There was a great interest and a great deal of work being done to increase 
access to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). This ranged from 
clearinghouse style websites on the subject to lab-ready accessible testing 
equipment, XML markup of math, and tactile diagrams of many kinds. I was 
excited to see so much attention and so much innovation. The access for people 
with visual impairments is still fairly rudimentary. My impression is that a 
student who is blind majoring in chemistry or engineering will still have to do 
a huge deal of extra work to gain access to materials and to do the hands-on 
aspects of the research or job, but the possibilities seem much more open now 
than at any time in the past.

The forecast of the demise of braille is clearly premature. Braille was 
available in plentiful array for every platform, nearly every device, and in a 
more achievable price range than ever before. Devices were even available in 
designer colors! I saw a number of new enhanced displays, braille input, and 
teaching systems, all cheaper than last year (still mostly over $1,000 and many 
way above) and in cell lengths of 12, 14, 20, 24, 32, 40, 60, 65, and 80 
(though I probably missed a few). These two trends don't seem unrelated to me 
as much of the access to STEM topics was based at least partly on tactile 
access, including braille. It was just a couple of years ago that the devices 
took CSUN by storm, and now the mobile devices in general, mainly Apple and 
Android, were everywhere and generally treated as part of the backdrop for all 
else being done. Braille displays everywhere were being demonstrated with iPads 
and other mobile devices.


*11.  Conclusion

With so many exhibitors, including over 70 with products or services geared 
toward the blindness and low vision market, it's impossible to cover the full 
CSUN conference. In addition to the coverage from Blind Bargains, 

the SeroTalk Podcast Network also recorded a variety of interviews at the 
conference found at the linke below.


These are also available through the iBlink Radio app (and will be available 
soon on their website). Finally, we recommend checking out 


*12/  The Great Big List from the 2013 CSUN International Technology and 
Persons with Disabilities Conference presented by 


Christopher Phillips. 


It's the most comprehensive collection of resources, presentation slides, media 
coverage, and links for this year's conference. And perhaps all of this talk of 
new and exciting technology will whet your appetite to attend CSUN in San Diego 
next year, which is scheduled for March 17-22, 2014. However, if you're not 
able to make it, you can read all about it in AccessWorld.




"Lord Jesus, be the King and Ruler of my heart, mind, life, and home. May my 
life reflect your meekness and humility that you may be honored as the King of 

Psalm 24:3-10 

3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to 
what is false, and does not swear deceitfully. 
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of his 
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of 
Jacob. [Selah] 
7 Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors!  that the 
King of glory may come in. 
8 Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in 
9 Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors!  that the 
King of glory may come in. 
10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! 



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