Outreach Technology

News From TSBVI Technology

NaviDys For iPad Offers Total Control Over Browser Text

From Cult of Mac:

Ever wish that you could change the font size in your iPad web browser? Well, with NaviDys you totally can. You can also switch up the font, and adjust letter spacing and line spacing. What is this browser? A type nerd’s dream? Well, maybe, but really it’s designed to make things easier for the visually impaired.

Double-tapping a chunk of text to zoom in works great, except that once that wrapped text hits the edge of the screen it isn’t getting any bigger – not unless you want to pan left and right just to read a sentence. Navidys brings in a host of text-based accessibility options, including one thing that might just make it my go-to browser for reading: Christian Boer’s Dyslexie font.

How much for this mobile marvel? Just $3.


Amazon Bringing New Accessibility Features to Free Kindle Reading Apps

Amazon Kindle press release

Amazon today announced new accessibility features for the Kindle reading app, making it easier than ever for blind and visually impaired customers to navigate their Kindle libraries, read and interact with their books, and more. These new features are available starting today on Kindle for iOS, and accessibility enhancements will be available on additional platforms in the future.

“We’re excited to introduce these new features to our Kindle for iOS app, making it easier than ever for our blind and visually impaired customers to access the vast selection of over 1.8 million books in the Kindle Store on their iPhone or iPad,” said Dorothy Nicholls, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. “With this update, we’re also making customer-favorite features—such as X-Ray, End Actions, sharing, highlighting and bookmarking—more accessible. We look forward to continuing to develop and extend our accessibility features on Kindle Fire and our other Kindle apps.”

New accessibility features of the Kindle app enable blind and visually impaired customers to:

  • Read aloud over 1.8 million titles available in the Kindle Store using Apple’s VoiceOver technology. Over 300,000 of these books are exclusive to the Kindle Store. Over 900,000 books are less than $4.99; over 1.5 million are less than $9.99.
  • Seamlessly navigate within their library or within a book, with consistent title, menu and button names; navigate to a specific page within a book and sort books in the library by author or title.
  • Read character-by-character, word-by-word, line-by-line, or continuously, as well as move forward or backward in the text.
  • Search for a book within their library or search within their book and navigate to specific text.
  • Add and delete notes, bookmarks, and highlights.
  • Use customer-favorite features like X-Ray, End Actions and sharing on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Look up words in the dictionary and Wikipedia.
  • Customize the reading experience including changing the font, text size, background color, margin, and brightness.
  • Use iOS accessibility features like Zoom, Assistive Touch, and Stereo to Mono, as well as peripheral braille displays.

BrailleTouch App for iPhone

The BrailleTouch app is now available in the US iTunes Store; free for the basic and then a purchase price to add in additional features such as text, E-mail, etc. It might be fun for students to try, especially the free version.

It is awkward feeling at first but you get used to it as all fingers represent the same dots as they would on the Perkins Brailler.

It helps to have a case on your iphone while learning to use the app so you have a surface to grip which prevents your phone from slipping out of your hand while learning to use the braille keyboard.

Free On-line Video Tutorials for Voiceover!

Watch Brian Charlson, Director of Technology at The Carroll Center as he demonstrates how to use Voiceover  screen reader on the iPhone. Thesefree tutorials focus on the use of Apple products and blind friendly apps. There is also a videoUsing Apple TV with Voiceover showing how to use the digital entertainment center device, Apple TV.

All videos are captioned and audio described.

Enjoy the show!

iPad Calculator Apps and the Order of Operation

When deciding on a calculator app for students with visual impairments, you have to consider a few features.  Some of the considerations are:

  • Size of the numbers and operations on the keys (for low vision users)
  • Color contrast between the keys and background
  • Reflow resolution when using Zoom (screen magnification feature)
  • How well it works with VoiceOver for users needing screen readers

That is all good if you are keeping this in mind, but here is just one more glitch concerning calculator apps.  It’s called “Order of Operation”.  So what does this mean? A math problem that does not have any parenthesis in the equation yet contains addition and multiplication operations, the order of operation rule states that the multiplication operation is solved first before addition. Huh?

Let’s take a math problem like 2+3×4=n.  If you solve this problem from left to right, the answer will be 20.  If you solve this problem by the order of operation rule, the answer is 14.  This is a “big” difference. It can affect the student’s grade on a test or assignment.

Now here is where the iPad comes into play.  Calculator apps come in all shapes and sizes for the iPad.   Some are great for students with visual impairment, while others not.  Yet even if an app “appears” right for the student, you must check it for order of operation.  Not all apps are created equal.

So far 14 calculator apps were checked and only 7 follow the order of operation.  Here below area a list of the seven apps.


Big Calc Free by Tioga Design, LLC.

calculator thumbnail


iHandy Calculator HD Pro by iHandy Inc

calculator thumbnail


Calculator+ by xNeat.com

calculator plus


Calculator S for Ipad by idea2real

calculator s


This is really JumboCalculatorApp by Steven Mayer

big calc free thumbnail


Calculator √ by EmpoweredDesign 

first calculator thumbnail


RetroCalc Free! By futuremedia

retro calc thumbnail 

Here are a couple of warnings about these apps.  Many of the calculator apps are just labeled “calculator”, and not all of them may be accessible with VoiceOver.  For VoiceOver and Zoom information on these apps go to www.applevis.com.

Patrick Van Geem

iPad Curriculum for Students with Visual Impairments

Robert Miller of the Oklahoma School for the Blind Assistive Technology Lab has written an in-depth curriculum for using the iPad with VoiceOver, Zoom and Refreshable Braille Displays. The curriculum will guide you and your student step by step through setting the accessibility features up to teaching specific gestures and commands needed to use the iPad with VoiceOver and Zoom.  As with any shared curriculum, please give credit to the author or authors when distributing the curriculum.  Robert asks for any feedback to help him improve his curriculum. Three versions of the curriculum can be found on the Oklahoma School for the Blind website.


Saving Internet Pages as EPUB Files

This is a wonderful resource, which allows your student to save a webpage as an individual EPUB file. What is an EPUB?  ”.epub” is an electronic book format that has become the industry standard, allowing eBooks that use this format to be read on a wide variety of eReaders, from dedicated hardware to desktop software to online based readers. EPUB files can be read in most portable ebook readers, such as Sony, Ipad, Kobo, etc. For the purposes of this post I will describe how to open your EPUB files in iBooks on the iPad.

First, some information from the dotEPUB website:
“dotEPUB is software in the cloud that allows you to convert any webpage into an ebook.
For content consumers (readers), we have developed a bookmarklet (or favlet) for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari or Opera. And, if you are a Google Chrome user, you can install the dotEPUB extension in your browser.”

On the dotEPUB website I located and activated the “manual  install” link because I wanted to use the bookmarklet on my iPad. I carefully followed the directions to install the javascript as a bookmark in Safari on my iPad. Then I navigated to a webpage using Safari, selected the dotEPUB bookmark  I had created and a new webpage opened which had two choices displayed as links, one read “open in…” and the other read “open in iBooks”. I chose the “open in iBooks” and even though it was a text heavy webpage it quickly opened in iBooks. The new ebook worked the same as a typical book, in that you could change the fonts with proper reflow and  use VoiceOver  or any other accessibility feature to read the book.

I immediately thought of all the times a student would finally find the webpage with the information needed and the bell would ring to change class. With this dotEPUB bookmark the student could simply select the dot EPUB bookmark and the EPUB file would be saved in iBooks. The student could now read the webpage using the available accessibility features,  with no need for an Internet connection.

Sharon Nichols
Assistive Technology Consultant

iPad for children with MIVI

The following iPad apps were chosen for a workshop with DARS Center for Learning Management. DARS is an acronym for Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. The iPad accessibility features were demonstrated as well.

The workshop covered working with children who have multiple disabilities, so the apps reflect their needs. For apps specific to visually impaired users, please reference these two websites: AppleVis (www.applevis.com) and Apps for the Visually Impaired (http://appadvice.com/applists/show/apps-for-the-visually-impaired). The websites and apps listed are not the only websites or apps to explore, they are just the ones chosen for the specific workshop.

Apps List

I Love Fireworks and Fireworks Arcade - You can touch the screen to trigger the fireworks to go off, you can drag your finger on the screen to have the firework trail up into the sky in whatever pattern you’d like, and the longer you hold your finger on the touch screen, the bigger the firework. If you use multiple fingers, you can do multiple trailing fireworks at the same time.

Art of Glow – (no audio) Create free, simple, mesmerizing art with a finger twirl. You choose your settings for color, shape, speed, and more and then begin to finger paint endless combinations of moving, twinkling, fading art forms.

Music Sparkles – In this app, there are several different instruments including a glockenspiel, drum set, and saxophone.  These instruments can be played while having a fun background ostinato.  Banjo, piano, and drums can be played behind the instruments making it sound like a band.

Sound Touch - Toddler-friendly app with more than 250 sights and sounds. Kids simply tap a picture in one of the six categories (domestic/farm animals, wild animals, birds, vehicles, musical instruments, and household items) and a photograph of the object pops up along with the sound it makes.

Interactive Alphabet ABC Flash Cards – Learn your letters and sounds through interactive play.  From the main page, kids can choose to listen to an alphabet song, or they can play with a specific letter of the alphabet. Each letter has its own flash card with text such as “Aa is for Apple” along with an image of an apple. The app reads the text to the child, including making the letter sound. Every letter’s flash card is interactive, allowing kids to tap or drag to make things happen. Kids can then tap the corner to go to the next letter, or tap ABC to go back to the main menu. From the main menu, there is also a Baby Mode that can be activated that will automatically turn the pages for kids.

Count 123 – Designed by parents, Count123 helps teach basic counting skills and its fun! Watch your kids learn to recognize numbers and learn to count with this fun and simple kids counting game. Give your children a head start in math!

The Monster at the End of This Book – (Sesame Street) The book’s interactive sensibility, however, has gotten a lot more fun; along with ignoring Grover’s pleas to stop turning the page, kids can delight in knocking over obstacles, untying knots, and breaking through walls as they keep moving toward the end.

SoundPrism – not entirely sure what SoundPrism is. It might be a musical instrument but we’re learning new stuff playing with it every day, which sometimes goes beyond the scale of that.

Fish Fingers 3D and Shark Fingers 3D – (no audio) Too many aquariums claim to be 3D, but they’re just flat pictures of fish floating around your screen being boring! Shark Fingers and Fish Fingers have REAL 3D SHARKS! They swim in all directions and can be viewed from any angle!

Koi Pond and Pocket Pond - What I like most about this app is touching the water, the sound effects are very realistic and my finger is not even wet!

Bla bla bla – A humorously illustrated reactive audio toy by a group of Italian design students.

Talking Tom – A Cat That Talks? Talking Tom repeats everything you say with a funny voice.  You can pet him, poke him and punch him; you can even grab his tail. Going to iPad settings, find Talking Tom in the list and choose no violence can turn the punch feature.

Songify – So to create a song, you simply press the record button and speak for between one to 60 seconds. The app analyzes your speech, segmenting it into a chorus and verses (if long enough), then maps it to a melody of your choice, syncing it with the beat and adjusting the pitch of your voice. The whole song-creation process takes less than a minute.

The next two apps were not shown, but might be appropriate for some of the children DARS serves.

TalkCalc talking calculator – Enter a number, tap and count the circles, which make a sound and then disappear. Touch the number again and … the circles are back. Cars honk, fish bubble … it entertains while you learn.

FlickTunes - Flick. Swipe. Poke. FlickTunes combines gesture-based controls with a bold, clean interface to create the safest and most effective way to control your music.

Resources for Apps for MIVI

This Facebook site has an aggregated list of apps for children with special needs. It is only a list of the apps and not a description but I find it to be a wonderful resource.

iPad Apps for Children with CVI

This following websites are written by a parent of a child with special needs, or professional serving children with special needs. They have many app suggestions.

Special Parent Connections

Babies with iPads

Little Bear Sees

Thomas Marshall Does it All

Wonder Baby

For a quick and easy way to view apps in use go to YouTube and type in “iPad apps for special needs” or “iPad with CVI” and you will receive an overwhelming number of videos showing professionals, parents and children using their iPad. This is one of the ways I try to stay current and knowledgeable of the various apps, which work for children with multiple disabilities.

Sharon Nichols
Outreach Assistive Technology Consultant