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Blind advocates: Hollywood lobbying threatens deal for accessible books

Disputes between blind groups and content companies could kill copyright treaty.   From arstechnica ( by Timothy B. Lee - May 10 2013, 8:04am CDT Exerpt of article: "For the last several years, negotiators at the World Intellectual Property Organization have been working on a copyright treaty that would make it easier for blind people to get accessible versions of books, like well-annotated audio books or large-print editions. But aggressive lobbying by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and other US copyright interests threatens to derail the negotiations, according to several advocates for the blind who spoke to Ars. "The main sticking point has been whether to try to use the treaty as a vehicle for enhancing copyright protections or whether the treaty should remain clearly focused on carving out an exception to allow works to be produced in accessible formats for the blind," said Frederic Schroeder,...
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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.  
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Testing for the pH Factor in Liquids using the LabQuest (1st Version)

This is a short four-part video demonstrating how students in a science lab at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired use the LabQuest equipment from Vernier Science .  They are finding the pH factor of four liquids: distilled water, tap water, milk and vinegar. The data collection device used in the experiment is the stand-alone LabQuest-Version 1.   LabQuest 1 is the only Vernier device that “accepts” the Sci-Voice scripting software.  With Sci-Voice installed, the LabQuest 1 device is able to voice the data.  This enables the student with a visual impairment to hear the incremental changes relative to time of any experiment that is recorded by a sensor probe used in conjunction with the LabQuest device.  Discerning the change in incremental findings of substances as they occur in real time is essential to laboratory experiments and data collection.   A pH sensor is plugged into one of the...
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Independence Science Access Blog

Back to school's always a mess.  One difficult problem involves Science, since participation depends on how accessible the labs and curriculum are for students with a visual impairment. So when you manage to get the accessible science lab equipment, then what, you then have to learn how to use the equipment, right?  Here is a link to the Independence Science Access Blog. Cary Supalo Ph.D. along with Dr. Greg Williams and the Independence Science researchers have developed lab safety and preparation videos to help a student and TVI become familiar with their lab environment.  Enjoy the  Independence Science Blog.
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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.  
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Using Audacity with JAWS

Audacity is a free, easy-to-use and multilingual audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. You can use Audacity to: Record live audio. Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs. Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files. Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together. Change the speed or pitch of a recording. Many teachers are using Audacity to create audio files for students to use in the classroom yet there are very few students creating audio files themselves. The students can now create their own audio files using a website with detailed instructions on how to create audio files using Audacity with JAWS. The instructions were written by David Bailes and can be found on the  Jaws Guides page of the VIP Software Guides website.
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Liz Egan Blog

A former Texas TVI (Teacher of the Visually Impaired) from the Houston area who is now a TVI in Washington state has developed a blog.  Her energy and devotion to the field has been sorely missed in Texas but every once in a while she would send out bits of information that let's us know that she is thinking of us here and we appreciate her and all she does for students with visual impairments. Her blog (that I just discovered)  is called "Traveling VI"  at .  Check it out.
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CVI Webcast from Perkins School for the Blind

If you haven't checked out Perkins new video webcast on CVI, you should.  I really thought this webcast did a great job of explaining the basics of CVI and offering strategies.  I could see TVIs and COMS using this with other educational staff, parents and administrators who need to understand some of the basics of Cortical Visual Impairments.  Another great product from Perkins! Perkins CVI webcast
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Guest — Sohail
Thanks for sharing great news on the basics of CVI, surely it will help to all of us.
Thursday, 08 March 2012 02:40
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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 ( and 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....
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OATS (Open Source Assistive Technology Software)

There is a website called OATS which stands for Open Source Assistive Technology Software.  The address: Oats Software ( will take you directly to their software repository.  This page contains a list of open source software categories that are all related to assistive technology applications.  There are a few applications geared towards persons with visual impairments.  Although these applications were extensively tested, be sure to run a virus protection scan as they are open-source software. Pat Van Geem Assistive Technology Consultant TSBVI Outreach Department
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Two Useful Assistive Technology Websites

Found some websites that might be of interest to all of us in the field of visual impairment using assistive technology.  Thought I might share them.   Google Products Accessibility Features Google has an accessibility web page that explains some of their products’ accessibility features for users with visual impairments.  Some of the Google applications are: Chrome, Android, Gmail, Docs, Calendar, eBooks and Google Voice.   The accessibility features these applications offer are: low vision settings, shortcut key commands, syncing with Outlook, and screen reading.  Included also are accessibility features for users with hearing impairments. Google Accessibility (   Tech Vision Blog There is a blog called Tech Vision by a Denise Robinson, Ph.D., TVI, that contains a wide range of assistive technology information.  It is a remarkable source for all type topics ranging from Duxbury to IPads.  Please take a gander at the listed (according to months and years) on the left sidebar. ...
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Federal Communication Commission Launches Accessibility Clearinghouse

The Federal Communications Commission has launched its accessibility clearinghouse in an effort to connect more consumers (including children and young adults) to accessible telecommunication options. Accessible Clearinghouse Also quickly, this is a great site that is linked on the FCC’s page for helping consumers and their families find accessible wireless options. Accesswireless website As all children and young adults use mobile technologies as a part of their daily lives, it is critical that our students with visual impairments and deafblindness have options. So glad that the FCC is taking a strong leadership role in helping people with disabilities have access. Please share! Amy T. Parker, Ed.D., C.I. & COMS Research Assistant Professor Virginia Murray Sowell Center 806-742-1997 X 248 office
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Free Digital Textbooks on Windows 7 using JAWS or WindowEyes

Access Technology Institute are offering two free digital textbooks.  Both books are tutorials on Windows 7 using either JAWS or WindowEyes.  The books are downloadable as .zip files.  When extracting the files, five file formats are available: Word 2007(.docx), plain text (.txt), DAISY, .html, and individual MP3 files.  These are rich resources for students or TVIs who now can access these files using various software and/or devices, such as DAISY playback devices/applications, braille notetakers, or computers.   Cathy Ann Murtha, author of the textbooks, structures her tutorials in a way that makes it easy and pleasant to learn. The same structure could be used to teach students access software applications.  Please take advantage of this free offering.  The website address is:   Pat Van Geem Assistive Technology Consultant
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Voiceover How-To Resources

While this website has more than VoiceOver screen reader for the Mac and iOS, tutorials it also contains other computer information. I just wanted to point it out as an excellent resource with tutorials for VoiceOver. The site's name is Tech-Ease. Another good site for VoiceOver with iOS is AXS Lab maintained by Daniel Göransson.
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Resource for Working on Listening Skills

This website is actually designed for ESL students, but can be used with a variety of students working on listening skills. Often students are listed as auditory learners but have not worked on developing their listening skills, so this website might offer one resource.
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The Accessibility of Four Types of Electronic Documents

Accessibility of electronic files as supplements for online courses or lessons is an important issue for students with disabilities.  General education teachers, who actually do most of the electronic production for students, do not seem to understand the accessibility issues of these documents.  If a document is not made accessible, the user with disabilities can experience difficulties in: document navigation, clarity of content, searching for specific information, and user fatigue due to the complex document layout.  There are four major types of electronic files that are used for online or off line lessons. The Four Types of Electronic Documents Electronic documents are used for various reasons, such as: activities, reference material, supplemental information, worksheets, and other assignments.  Students get the documents through email, by downloading them from learning management systems or through a file sharing system. Depending on the author, accessibility of these files can vary greatly.  The electronic documents...
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PDF Conversion to Braille Ready Files

A greater percentage of the worksheets that teachers need for translation into braille and tactile graphics are being sent to the braille production staff via email or other file sharing method such as Dropbox, or a local ISD file sharing portal.  This is a good thing because the files are getting to the production staff at a much quicker rate which ultimately means that the materials will be under the fingers of students sooner. Files sent to the production staff usually come as Word documents, PDF documents or spreadsheets.  All these types of files require editing preparations before they are ready for braille translation.  PDF documents are a special case. PDF documents sent for reproduction in Braille documents are received from teachers in one of two ways, bitmap or text tag.  Bitmap is a fancy word for picture or image file like jpeg, tiff, gif, or pic. A text...
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iPad Apps to Investigate

Dropbox - Free online storage. Get documents from any internet ready device. (computer, iOS device, Android device). Can pay for more storage monthly. Evernote - Free note taking app; also free online storage. Can add Webpages, pictures, text. When webpage added, links still work from the evernote document. Can pay for more storage monthly. Quickoffice Pro HD - Create, edit and share Microsoft® Word, Excel and PowerPoint files; access and manage email attachments with the most popular file formats; get to your files remotely via cloud storage services (MobileMe, Dropbox, Google® Docs,, Huddle, SugarSync, Evernote, and Catch); file support-ms office (97-2008) DOC, DOCX, TXT. Moe's Notepad - $0.99. A notes app. Audio - trim, change volume, strip silence, reverse, change speed; visual - organize any number of images and/or videos; image - crop, resize, change brightness; drawing - rectangular box or freehand; video - trim, create thumbnail, grab frames; text...
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Teaching Business Software Applications

A few years ago one credit of the required 21 credits needed for graduation from high school in the state of Texas is Technology Applications. Included in this curriculum are three choices that meet the State Board of Education standards. The choices are: Computer Science (geek stuff for writing computer scripts), Multimedia Production (video editing, animation, and graphic design), and Business Computer Information Systems (business computer applications). By imposing this, schools were trying to make sure students have some computer technology skills by graduation. It is no longer a required credit for graduation. This means school districts are on their own. Some districts still have it as a “local” requirement for graduation. For us as vision teachers this may be a relief, however, this can be a problem. One of the choices, Business Computer Information Systems (BCIS) give students a basic knowledge (exposure) to spreadsheets, word processing, databases, desktop publishing, and...
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Braille Music Resources

Lately there has been a resurgence in braille music, however teachers have very little opportunity for learning the code themselves.  The most commonly used resources come from Dancing Dots, located here and the Internet: Look for the resources page and you will find several books available for learning braille music. However the Royal National Institute for the Blind in England have created a resource for teachers to learn the music braille code. Americans will need to change the names of the note values, as we use different vocabulary. An example would be quavers in America are labeled eight notes. I have downloaded the lessons in MS Word format and braille format and performed a search and replace to allow me to use American vocabulary. If you want to do the same go here: I had to shorten the web address, as it was extremely long. Look on the page...
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