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What Do You Do When Sighted People Grab Your Arm in Public?

January 6, 2016
Editor's note: We weren't too surprised to read the following question in the most recent installment of "Dear Prudence" on Slate: Q. Blindness: I am blind, and I wear dark glasses and use a cane. My problem is that everywhere I go, strangers will come up and grab me to help me walk and yell at me as if I am deaf. I know they mean well, but it throws off my balance when they grab me and it’s scary. I get a headache from people yelling at me. I can hear quite well so what can I do? Being…

Apple Watch Day 1: How a Blind User Pairs the Watch with the iPhone

May 14, 2015
Crista Earl, Director of AFB Web Services I love tools and gadgets, and I love accessible gadgets the most. Since I have a visual impairment, I'm used to having to wait around for the "special" stuff. So, the things I love the most are mainstream gadgets that come out of the box being accessible. Now that I've had my Apple Watch, the sport version, for thirty-six hours, I hope I can clear up some of your first-day questions. (See the earlier AFB Blog post, A First Look at the Apple Watch and…
Author Crista Earl
Blog Topics Technology

Self-driving Bicycles Add to Transportation, Fitness, Independence for Blind Riders

April 1, 2015
I heard such exciting news this morning! A well-known drone company, Auto-Fly, and a major bicycle manufacturer, Trekker, have teamed up to make a self-driving bicycle. The new device has pedals and seat much like a conventional bike, but the steering and braking are handled by electronic and mechanical devices based on recreational drone technology. What's exciting about this? Soon I'll be riding my bike to work! Imagine, the only obstacle to riding my old-fashioned bike is ... obstacles…

CSUN 2015 Exhibit Hall: 3D Printing Is Coming to People Who Are Blind

March 9, 2015
Editorial note: For 30 years, the Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) has hosted an Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, known as a forum that showcases cutting-edge technology and practical solutions for people with disabilities. AFB director of web services, Crista Earl, checked out the exhibit hall and sent this report. Check out her first dispatch, too. As soon as three-dimensional (3D) printers started to make…

CSUN 2015: Cameras for Everybody!

March 6, 2015
Editorial note: For 30 years, the Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) has hosted an Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, known as a forum that showcases cutting-edge technology and practical solutions for people with disabilities. AFB director of web services, Crista Earl, checked out the exhibit hall and sent this report. The exhibit hall opened here on Wednesday, and I made my first pass. I missed a lot, but I can…

An Accessible HTML5 Video Player from the American Foundation for the Blind

February 8, 2015
Transcript of the video, "Weaving a Web for All: Online Accessibility for People with Vision Loss" AFB is rolling out a new embedded video player. That's the type where you don't need to use extra software, you just click it and it plays in your browser. Why did we create our own HTML5 embedded video player? And what is HTML5, anyway? Technology just keeps getting better. But video-playing technology on the web is still pretty fraught with show-stopping problems. One category of…

Fitbit and Up24: Are These Health-Tracking Devices Accessible to Exercisers Who Are Blind?

December 4, 2014
Tracking health and fitness is all the rage. Should you jump on the bandwagon? Can you? That is, are these tracking devices accessible to users who are blind? I've tried two such devices: the Fitbit Flex™ (usually just called Fitbit) and the Up24™ from Jawbone. Accessibility Bottom Line The Fitbit is light-years ahead of the Up24 in terms of accessibility. If you are choosing between the two, and you are visually impaired, get the Fitbit, no doubt about it. The initial setup is much more…

Comcast Announces New Talking Guide for Access to Television

November 17, 2014
Comcast has just announced a solution to a huge television-watching problem. What is the problem? Imagine if there were a way to turn on the description (the special feature to narrate the visual elements of a show for people who are blind or visually impaired) on your favorite shows! Imagine being able to check your television to find out what is on right now, or up next, the name of the show, the channel the show is on, or the channel the TV is tuned to. (If you are wondering what "…

Privacy, Courtesy, Efficiency: Break out the Headphones!

September 11, 2014
Have you ever wondered if other people can hear your babbling talking smart phone? Have you ever wondered why the "buttons" on the screen sometimes don't work? First, yes, those polite people at the next table can hear your iPhone or Android phone babbling as you search for a contact and make a call. Solution? Headphones. I run into people now and then who never took the headphones out of the box when they got their device. They just didn't seem like a useful option to them. But the…

Can CAPTCHAs Be Made Accessible?

August 21, 2014
Lots of websites have a real and urgent need to keep bots and spammers off their sites. One partial solution is the CAPTCHA. What Is a CAPTCHA, and Can It Be Accessible? Really, a CAPTCHA is any technique that can be used to tell a computer (bot) from a human. But the most common technique is to put a fuzzy bunch of characters on the page and ask the user to type them into an edit field. A human, theoretically, can decipher the fuzzy characters, but a bot cannot. This has some obvious flaws…