Apr 27, 2020
Welcome to this month's edition of the EBU Access Cast. As always, we are bringing you some pretty exciting news in the area of assistive technology.
The current situation caused by the spread of the novel Coronavirus has impacted our lives in multiple ways, especially so in the case of people with visual impairments. It is therefore difficult to escape this subject completely. The news, however, will definitely be useful in coping with the new reality of self-isolation, social distancing and working remotely.
To cover the most frequently asked questions, the EBU has compiled a list of resources where the advice from different national partners regarding mobility, everyday life, safety and help, is provided.
We also mentioned some of those general tips and tricks that will let you stay safe as well as discussed campaigns of the disability umbrella organizations started to ensure that whatever strategy is applied to combat the virus in the different European countries, their disabled citizens will be a part of it.
It is also important to be sure that help is available, should you need it. IHelpYou.app is one example of a service that makes it easy to find local volunteers in your area. The website is of course 100% accessible.
Just like you, we are hoping to go back to normality as soon as possible, although the world Post-Corona will not be the same as it was. Perhaps we will be able to move freely again but how do we make sure that we are safe then? An initiative by Google and Apple may provide a solution to detect the virus where it appears before it spreads too far.
Meanwhile, as a significant part of work has moved online, video conferencing has become the everyday reality of communication and zoom is one of the most used tools to facilitate that. Fortunately, it provides a really accessible and pleasant to use experience which becomes even clearer after listening to Jonathan Mosen's "Meet Me In The Cloud" audiobook, now available for free.
The PEAT have also compiled a list of useful resources that may come in handy when arranging different aspects of working away from your office desk.
The world might have slowed down a little but it does not mean that the assistive technology industry has gone completely silent. Last month, we told you about Google working on a new Talkback version with a Braille keyboard. You've probably heard it from the news all over the Internet by now but that version is already here and, what's even better, that's not everything Android Accessibility wants to surprise us with. As spotted in the development documentation of Android 11, we may be seeing the support for multi-finger gestures rolling out this fall..
IT is meanwhile speculated that Apple may be working on support for third-party text-to-speech voices and that the feature may be seeing the light as soon as iOS 14. Should this be true, and adding to that the appearance of the brand new, long awaited iPhone SE 2020, we may be up for a real mobile accessibility showdown by the end of this year.
The first beta of NVDA 2020.1 is already out and, although not as rich in features as the previous release, welcomes some useful improvements and bugfixes.
Quite often these days, a well-designed CMS tool is capable of performing a lot of the work required to make a website fully accessible. Drupal is proving that with the accessibility tools and enhancements introduced in the 8th version of the engine and next ones are already scheduled for the upcoming release.
For our listeners who are keen on writing, Onkyo and the World Blind Union are inviting you to take part in this year's edition of the Onkyo World Braille Essay Contest. Listen on to find out what it is about and why it is worth taking part in it.
We came back to the subject of Envision Glasses. since our last announcement, the pre-sale has begun and the Envision team started organizing a series of webinars to demonstrate the product and answer all of the burning questions about the device.
Speaking of glasses, one question that comes up a lot when talking about accessibility for the blind is, to what extent can Virtual Reality experiences be enjoyable by those who can't see at all? Microsoft is trying to tackle that one with their prototype of a white cane designed to allow blind users to explore the VR independently. This piece of news allowed us to talk in more general terms about the challenges and chances stemming from VR and 360 degree videos for blind users. Many meaningful insights on this subject can be found in Equal Entry's webinar which you can access upon registration.
That is all for this month but watch this space for the next episode coming by the end of May where we'll be sure to deliver even more exciting news. Meanwhile, feel free to reach out with your thoughts and suggestions through our Email and Twitter.