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EBU Access Cast

May 20, 2020

Welcome back to the May edition of the EBU Access Cast, full of interesting news from the Assistive Technology and Digital Accessibility industries.



We kicked off this one by holding a small exchange of Android apps between Mario and Paweł including email clients and useful Wear OS apps.


WE then discussed all that is new and accessible in the latest release of Chrome marked with the version number 81.


Apart from browsers, both of the popular Windows screen readers, NVDA and JAWS, have had their latest versions released recently as well.


An episode recorded in May would not be complete without mentioning the Global Accessibility Awareness Day, celebrated on the 21st of this month. As always it is full of various events and activities most of which will be held online this year and so many more of you will be able to attend. Discussing accessibility gave us a chance to wonder how accessible COVID-19 contact tracing apps in different countries of Europe might be and whether this is a reliable solution in its current form.



In the last episode, we pointed to the fact that mask usage instructions in an accessible form have proven to be impossible to find. A month has passed and, surely enough, the German organisation of the blind and partially sighted DBSV have published their own page on using masks.



As we often remind you, books are a great part of accessibility and thanks to an interesting Daisy Consortium webinar, we had a chance to learn about some solutions allowing those with reading disabilities to access their favourite books using smart speakers.


One service not mentioned in the webinar is Pratsam, a Finnish solution that makes it easy for a library to setup their digital access portfolio ready with cloud, web and mobile apps as well as smart speaker skills.



Another company that has not fallen behind in delivering outstanding accessibility experience is Apple. From the patents they have applied for, we can deduce that a support for enhanced photo taking accessibility features are forthcoming and so is the ability to make binaural (3D) recordings with the iPhone. The celebration of this month's accessibility awareness activities has also been marked by their making available of a brand new accessibility website. VoiceOver improvements can be also spotted in the latest release of Logic Pro X, the music-making and sound editing software.


We may learn soon what else is new in regards to accessibility at both Apple and Google as both companies intend to hold their events on the 22th and 3rd of June respectively.



Speaking of large companies and communities, a set of Wordpress-related accessibility resources has been published by the Deque University.


Finally, we shared a way in which all of us could contribute into building amazing technology that will profit us in the future. Mozilla Common Voice is an initiative where everyone can contribute voice data for a wide variety of languages to make it possible for robust speech technologies to be built. Our listeners in Slovenia will be also pleased to know that Tina has joined the Vocalizer TTS family extending the offer of available language options.


As always, we look forward to you sharing your comments and feedback with us. Feel free to reach out  via our email and Twitter to let us know what's on your minds. Until the next edition!