Launch of new Mobile @Vodacom Kiosk for the blind and visually impaired at @CouncilForBlind

In partnership with Vodacom, the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) officially launched a mobile service kiosk at their Pretoria offices yesterday (Wednesday 8 June), bringing mobile communication closer to visually impaired people.

These days, smartphones come with built-in accessibility features on both Android and iOS platforms enabling people with various disabilities to also have access to the amazing world of independence and the internet.

The kiosk will provide step-by-step guidance and serve as an information hub and one stop shop for blind and visually impaired people who are interested in accessible phones.

For more information, please contact the SANCB on 012-452-3811.

Elbraille, a component like Windows 10 notetaker running with Jaws and Focus 14 Braille Display

Russian based Elita Group, recently announced the release of the all-new ElBraille Notetaker.

What is this?

Elbraile is a full mobile portable computer running on Windows 10 together with Jaws for Windows.
It contains a docking station, integrated with Freedom Scientific’s Focus 14 Braille display. This docking station contains the perkins style keyboard and all the navigation options that you find on the Focus 14.

One could say that this is a component based system so, if you already have a Focus 14 Blue, you would not have to buy a new Focus 14 Blue again.

Dimensions:
189 mmx 118 mm by 38 (7.4 x 4.7 x 1.5 inches
Weight with Focus 14 included: 750 g (1.65 pounds)

Physical description

On the front you have the Focus 14 Blue control, like the selector buttons, panning, buttons, rocker bars, etc.
On the right side you have an extractor button, 3.5 mm jack, sd card slot, usb port and then power port.
On the back there is nothing.
On the left, there’s nothing.
On the top there are 6 keys. From left to right: E1, E2, Volume up and down buttons then E3 and #4.
The Sim card slot is right on the top left.

Specs:
Windows 10 32bit
Jaws 17
1.8 GHz Quad-core atom processor
2 GB of ram
64 GB SSD drive
Built-in 32 gb sd card – not usable by user, for the OS
Expansion card slot up to 256 gb storage
built-in microphone
Stereo speakers
Vibration motor – Device vibrates and beeps.when being turned on, shutting down, when placed on charge, etc.
SMS messaging capability
You can also make and receive phonecalls.

Bluetooth 4.0
3G modem (Micro sim card required)
Wi-Fi 801.11 a/b/g/n
accelerometer,
gyro,
compass,
GPS
3.5mm headphone jack
USB port – used for external storage, full qwerty keyboard etc.
20 hours of battery life.

The device has a rescue menu – used in a potential situation if there is no speech or Braille feedback.
This menu has a self-voicing and self-Brailling capability.
1. Restart Jaws.
2. Shut the system down.
3. Forced restart.

Final thoughts:
I don’t know anything else about the device but, on paper, it looks great! I’m honestly quite excited.

South African Mobile Telecommunications Accessibility Survey 2015

As South Africans who are living with disabilities, we find that we are sidelined as customers especially by the mobile networks.

 

The mobile networks, especially, are not necessarily interested in hearing what we’ve got to say.  They only try to conform to the minimum requirements enforced, (if ever) by ICASA.  I’m specifically thinking of MTN, who told me that they (know what they are doing, thank you very much); and that was more than five years ago.

 

Vodacom has a special needs helpdesk but, I, in particular, had a very bad experience with them and thus, I’m not a customer of theirs.

 

We should not be limited to a particular network just because they have a special needs desk.

 

The other networks have a lot to offer and they can actually provide the special needs assistance, if they really want to, without breaking the bank.

 

In 2013, we wanted to get your input on the accessibility for persons living with disabilities of the mobile networks in South Africa.

 

Many of you completed the survey.  Thank you.

 

I’ve engaged with Telkom Mobile and provided them with the statistics of the survey but, I haven’t received any feedback from them yet.

 

 

Just over 2 years later, I’ve decided to ask you for your input once again.

 

Please Click here to complete the survey.

 

It should not take you longer than 20 minutes but, depending on how much you have to add, it may just take a bit longer than that.

 

Should you require any assistance, you can contact us during office hours on 0127533663 and we will try to assist.  Alternatively, you can email us at admin@AccessTech.co.za.

 

Let’s try and use this platform to enable us to provide solutions suggestions to the mobile providers in addressing our needs as persons living with disabilities.

South African Banking Accessibility Survey for blind and visually impaired persons

If you are living in South Africa and live with a visual impairment, you are no doubt one of those who might have received terrible service from your bank.

 

Or, just perhaps they might have amazed you with their accessibility of their products and/or services.

 

You may also recall the difficulty that I’ve had with FNB in the past and ABSA who joined them in ignoring our calls for action on fixing the inaccessibility of their services.  If you haven’t read those articles, let me just say that their attitude stinks and that FNB still dismissed my request for dialogue even though I have approached them as the representative of Blind SA, a national consumer organization of and for the blind.

 

Either way, we have finally launched the South African Banking Survey that you can now complete.

 

The purpose of this survey is to gain a greater understanding of the service needs of people with visual impairment who are making use of products and/or services provided by banks in South Africa.

 

We are seeking people who are blind or visually impaired (or their caregivers), who are willing to complete a few questions.

 

If you want to be contacted for assistance to complete the survey, please let us know on Facebook or on Twitter.  Optionally, please phone us on 0127533663.

 

Thank you to Unlocking Abilities (PTY) Ltd. for hosting the survey.

IBM Research and Carnegie Mellon Create Open Platform to Help the Blind

PR Newswire, October 15, 2015: 0

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. and PITTSBURGH, Oct. 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ —
Scientists from IBM Research (NYSE: IBM) and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) today announced the first of a kind open platform designed to support the creation of smartphone apps that can enable the blind to better navigate
their surroundings. Continue reading IBM Research and Carnegie Mellon Create Open Platform to Help the Blind