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EBU Access Cast

EbuAccessCast24 transcript

Jul 29, 2020



(Intro jingle)

(Voice over)

This programme is financially supported by the fundings from the European Commission.

You are listening to the EBU Access Cast. The first official podcast from European Blind Union about assistive technology for blind and partially sighted people.

And here are the hosts.


(Mario) Welcome to the 24th episode of the EBU Access Cast. This is the last episode before our summer break.

My name is Mario Perčinić. I'm coming from Luxembourg. With me today, well, some old and some new faces. I have Paweł Masarczyk from Poland. Hello man.

(Paweł) And that's the old face amongst us. Hello. Hello.

(Mario) Yes, hehe. And we have some new faces because as some of you probably know, and saw on Twitter, we published the ad to look for new people who would like to contribute in our podcast and we have to say huge thanks to everybody who submitted their vacancies to us.

It was really nice to see all of those vacancies and talk to you, all of you, and some of the people are already here today, so… And you will see some more faces in September as well. But except Paweł and me today, we have not one, but two people from Barcelona, Spain.They are Xavier Cisscar.

(Xavier) Hello. I am one of the new faces, as you say. Very nice to be here with you. Very pleased.

(Mario) And David Cisscar as well.

(David) Hello. Hello. Hello. How are you? And greetings to all the people listening this podcast, let see how we can contribute to give another perspective.

(Mario) Yeah, absolutely. That's why we published actually all of the things that we are looking for new contributors, because we would like to expand our team with the new people from new countries so we can bring some new approach to the show and yeah… So welcome to the show, guys.

(Xavier) Thank you very much.

(Mario) Yeah. May I ask you to shortly introduce yourself? What are you doing in your life?

(Xavier) Well, I have been working much time of my life in the printing house in Barcelona from ONCE.

Now I am in a school library working with kids always related to braille. So I am a braillist. Actually, I could define myself as a braillist and I like accessibility and technology and I work in a group as a volunteer called SucDePoma. It began eight years ago and we collaborate with each other to teach people who wants to know things about… Mainly it began with Apple, but now we're expanding because Apple is the way, not the aim. So, well, we have a podcast, we have a Web page, we have meetings and we have a yearly event called Avalon, where we share experiences, talks and everything. So that's my mainly my life.

(Mario) That's nice.

And David, what are you doing? Well, I suppose you're the sound guy?

(David) I am, yes, I do. I actually am working at a bank here in Barcelona, but my work has not very much to do with banking stuff so I am the communication secretary at a trade union in that company. So I'm always dealing with content management and placing mails and well, all that stuff. Also, making videos in campaigns and well, communication stuff. I have a degree in the communication, audio visual communication and well… I have been working also in radio and doing a programme for more than 20 years in the local station here in Barcelona and well, lots of other things, music, theatre or whatever comes along.

(Mario) Excellent. So David will be responsible for our overall sound in the podcast. So, yeah, if we sound bad throw the feedback back to David, hahahaha.

(David) Yes, yes, do that, please, hahahaha.

(Mario) All right. Welcome guys onboard. So let's check out what we have in the news for this month. This is as I said earlier, this is the last podcast before summer. So before we jump in the news section please stay with us until the end we are having the premiere in our podcast. Today we will show you for the first time in Europe demo of the washing machine Miele WDD 131 Guideline. It’s special washing machine for the blind designed by Miele and Tanja will do the demo for us because she purchased the machine. So stay with us until the and and listen the demo please.

Let’s see what did we prepare…


Accessibility in the news

(Voice over)

And now… Accessibility in the news.


New Apple accessibility features coming this autumn

(Mario) So the first news comes from Apple, no surprise. As WWDC just got finished last month lots of things were shown which were new. Of course, one of many things which were shown were the news in accessibility. So besides many, many things, which they shown, we could see that some new things have got introduced in the iOS 14 beta. For example, VoiceOver got these Back Tap feature, which I see that many people will use it. And also the possibility of recognising the objects and the possibility of sound recognition for people who are deaf or nearly deaf, or it could be also good for deaf blind people as well. And. Yeah. Lots of other things. I think we have some people here who installed some betas on their devices. So how do you do with this version of iOS 14. Do you find it interesting? And what's your opinion?

(Paweł) Well. Well, I would say for a beta it's pretty stable actually.

(Mario) Really?

(Paweł) Yeah, no major crashes that I expected. I don’t know about you.

(Xavier) It's pretty stable and it doesn't crash, but I am finding that the beta is not responding the same in each device because I'm talking to my colleagues and everyone gets different things in different devices. So I'm not very happy about that. It's stable but it's different in each device.

(Paweł) Aha, yeah. For instance, me on the iPod Touch 7th gen, I don't have the access to all the features they promised. I believe all the AI related stuff. So recognising of inaccessible controls or the scanning of a screen to search for something that could be clickable in case the app is completely inaccessible. The back tap. All of that is not available to me on the iPod. And I think it only works from iPhone X up. That's what I read. And even on the iPhone X, I had already reports that some people can't access all of these features. So it's really strange.

(Xavier) But do you think that the Back tap is a AI feature?

(Paweł) No, not really. But I sort of mixed it in the middle with that. But there must be some hardware component that is needed for that and these older devices don't have it.

(Xavier) Because I have installed the second public beta in an iPhone 8 Plus and I can't access to the back tap also. So I don't know because the 8 Plus is not so old.

(Paweł) Yeah. The SE also don’t have it. and the new SE 2020 neither. So it must be some hardware component that it's only available in the newer.

(Xavier) Yeah because the SE 20 is like 8 Plus. No?

(Mario) Yeah.

(Xavier) I don’t know. And there are some even accessibility bugs also because I have installed the beta and for example in the accessibility settings you've got edit box to search and when I see when I write text to search the results, I'm not spoken by a VoiceOver so I get button 1 of 6, button 2 of 6, button 3 of 6 so I can't identify which are the results I'm getting. So I have two enter in each of the results without knowing where I'm going to. So it's not that it's unstable, but, of course, it's a beta and it has to be still to get better.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Paweł) Yeah. By all means. I also believe there is still this longstanding bug that people are longing for it to be fixed, that it's not always when you press the power button that you hear the time announced.

(Xavier) Oh yeah that’s…

(Paweł) For some devices it's still there. It used to work as expected. In iOS 13 something got broken and it's still not fixed. I used the lift to activate,like , when I grab my phone, it awakes so then I can hear the time, but those who activated manually with the power, actually, have a problem there. And I know it's not been fixed for a long time.

(Mario) Uh. That's not nice.

(Xavier) I had too many expectations with the app library because this is a thing that came from Android and the implementation they have done in iOS 14 it's not a good implementation because in Android you've got a plain library, you can organise in folders and as you want. And here, they automatically distribute applications in folders and for example, I got a utility folder with 45 applications and that's not very useful because they join applications that have nothing to do with each other. Something like an app library would be very easy to access for blind people, actually. Many times it would be more useful than all the screens spread over the home screen in the phone. But the implementation they have done is not very useful, actually.

(Mario) Ok.

(Paweł) I saw There are some editing options there. You can actually somehow move the things, but I don't know how advanced that would be and to what degree you can customise this experience.

(Xavier) Not so not a high degree of customisation, actually. So it's not that I have been experimenting with that. It's not a good implementation, I think. That’s my opinion.

(Mario) Well, we'll see. I mean, I suppose that some things might… It's always the case with, you know, betas and stable releases. Maybe some things come and go so well.


(Xavier) Yeah.

(Paweł) Hopefully.

(Mario) What about the VoiceOver recognition new features. What's your opinion about it? Have you tested in? What do you think?

(Xavier) I think that it's got much better than it did in iOS 13. But of course, this will grow up as experience goes on. It's better, it tells you more objects, more things. But it's a very difficult thing, actually. So for me, it's still difficult to… Because I haven't had many experiences which I haven't had much time to look at.

(Mario) OK, yeah. What gets me worried is the fact that now they're saying that the new VoiceOver will be able to recognise the other elements of the UI, such as the sliders, buttons and tables and stuff like that. So what gets me worried is the fact that if this thing proves to be working let's say 70% OK I'm afraid that we might see the fallback of the developers stop taking care about the accessibility standards because they will think, oh, if this thing can recognise the stuff by itself, by AI, why should I care about the overall accessibility development? And I think this is not a proper way to go.

(Xavier) That's the eternal balance between design and screen readers because JAWS and NVDA do many intelligent things with tables, for example, in the Web.

(Mario) Sure.

(Xavier) And we think they are a responsibility of the designers, that tables are well designed and it's not true. It's that screen readers read it in an intelligent way. So it's not true, it’s that designers don't do their work, So it's the same thing actually. Designers have to work better.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Xavier) But it doesn't mean that screen readers don’t work to help us in a better experience in navigations in Internet or even in UI. So that's the same.

(Paweł) I think we also had this discussion back in 2012 when iOS, I believe it was 6 back then was coming out, and one of the changes was labelling of buttons.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Paweł) And there were already remarks back then that, well, if we start having this possibility and we start labelling the buttons in apps that are not accessible and this will basically give the developers an excuse not to provide accessibility proper. And fortunately, it didn't happen. So I guess, well, if somebody is looking for excuses not to do accessibility, they always find them.

(Mario) Sure.

(Paweł) But if somebody sees the potential and they want to be committed, they will. And also another great point that was raised in the Apple VIS Extra podcast with the representatives of Apple accessibility was that now the developers can use these new mechanisms to their advantage and they can use them to identify problems in their own apps. So if they mismanaged…

(Mario) That's correct. Yeah.

(Paweł) To label a slider, a slider. They will see, um, the AI recognise it, a slider. Maybe it's a good idea that I also give it the proper control type. So let's hope it will stay like that more and actually make people lazy about accessibility.

(Mario) Sure. Yeah. Well I mean this was just the fact that I started to wonder if this might happen. But of course, all of these changes are here for us to, let's say, help us improve the usage of such technologies. So, yeah, let's give a thumbs up for the whole thing. Regarding the iOS 14.

(Xavier) There is one thing, one more thing, very interesting if you allow me.

(Mario) Yeah, Go ahead.

(Xavier) This is the possibility of putting labels to the photos because it wasn't working very well in iOS 13 because you had to do it like you labelled buttons. When you wanted to label a photo, you had to label like you had to label a button or any control. And now you can put it like footer text, you know.

(Mario) OK.

(Xavier) So this feature allows you to add metadata to the photo. And the photo is visible for blind people, but also visible for anyone who looks at the photo. So if anyone does a photo and puts a footer text a legend, it's a benefit for everyone. And when you export that photo to the Mac, two Windows, to any other computer, the metadata go with the photo. So it's a very nice feature. I have experimented once.

(Paweł) Does it also save as an alternative description? So if you put it on a web page, it will automatically put it in the alt.

(Xavier) I haven't tried it. If it's an alternative text, but it's metadata from the photo. So I suppose you could programmatically try to extract this metadata and convert it to alternative text.

(Paweł) Yeah, for sure. I'm also quite curious what this recognition thing in VoiceOver does to games, like really simple games, because well, there are these games are written in unity so there are no native controls to grasp, but some of these games are really simple in that, you basically tap on things, you tap on buttons. We have this game which is a quiz game and we often play it with my family, but the problem is I always need to team up with somebody sighted because there's no way for me to play it independently, and you just use your PlayStation as this big screen on which everybody is watching the progress and you use your phones to give answers to the questions. And I believe this kind of system would be ideal to recognise the controls there and let me answer the questions or manipulate the game. So I would be really curious to see if that actually makes it possible, that would be great. And well, there are so many really positive changes for braille users because there is now the autopanning of text, if you configure it on a braille display. I believe you can use the rotor as well to change the output and input tables of a Braille display. And if you're an Apple Watch user, there is also new watch OS version available and you can pair a Braille display with your watch.

(Xavier) Really, yeah, that's right.

(Mario) And there is also a rotor for the watch OS now available as well.

(Paweł) Yeah. Yeah. I also like the new Siri, the new siri is quite nice because it doesn't take the whole screen anymore. It just pops up on top of what you're doing. You ask it a question. It tells you what it has to say. It maybe shows you the results somewhere so when you are swiping to the right or flicking, you'll find the Siri answer past your dock. You can read the answer from the Internet or read whatever result it came up with. And you can then either press the listen button to make Siri listen again or you can press home to make it go away. And I think it's really convenient. It is supposed to answer questions from the Internet. Like when you ask it some usual question, it will look for answers on the Internet and tell you. It didn't do it for me. I asked some questions and the best it did was it returned some Google results.

(Xavier) Yeah. The worst thing about Siri is its AI system, I think. I mean, Siri is the worst from the Siri AI systems we have now, Alexa, Google and Siri. If they make it better, they can compete, but Siri’s AI systems is quite worse than the other two.

(Paweł) Not smart enough for today’s standards, hahaha.

(Xavier) Yeah.

(Mario) Yeah.

(David) Hahaha.

(Paweł) But at least the interface is quite sleek now and you can send voice messages with Siri which is also quite convenient.

(Xavier) Yeah. And now you can send audio messages also.

(Paweł) Aha.

(Xavier) That's very nice. Yeah. That's very nice. Yeah.

(Paweł) And no new languages sadly. So for those of you who…

(Mario) So yeah, actually all of that rumors which we've publicly spoke about a few months ago didn't come to be true at the end.

(Paweł) Not in this version.

(Mario) They were saying that the iOS will become much more open for third-party developers, but it didn't happen.

(Xavier) I don't think technically is very difficult because I heard in iOS 7 with jailbreak, I heard a Catalan synthesiser installed. So I don't think it's really a difficult thing.

(Mario) Yeah.

(David) At least not a technical thing.

(Xavier) No, not a technical issue. So it's time for Apple if they don't want to assume that it's time for Apple to meet third party… Well, even in Voice Dream Reader you can install many, many, many voices. So it's time for them to allow other third-party voices and those things.

(Mario) Sure, Yeah. But, well, maybe we see it some…

(Xavier) Some day.

(Mario) In 100 years, maybe.

(Everyone laughs)

(David) there's something else about iOS 14 and it’s its new magnifying glass. It's a little bit enhanced, although I haven't had the possibility to test it because my iPhone is my work telephone. So I wasn't able to get a beta for testing iOS 14. But from what I've read, the magnifying glass now, it's like an app. Not like it was before that you could only access it through the Control Centre. So now it has its own app access. You can access it as an app. And for the programme itself, it has less buttons on the screen. So you can have a larger image from what you what you're looking at. But you have hidden controls that you have to pull up to see. And well, these controls are not very different from the ones you had before, but now you have direct access. Once you pull up that controls you have direct access to brightness and contrast and to the light button and to the filters button. You don't have to make so many taps to find the controls. And you can also buy configuration, set one of these buttons in the main screen with a capture button and the zoom slider button. That's what you have in there in the home screen from the magnifying glass application.

(Xavier) And one of the things they say you can do it now with the magnifying glass is to take a series of photos.

(David) Multiple pictures. That's it. Because I, for example, used to use it when I was at a restaurant to read the menu, but not reading the menu directly with a magnifying glass. But well, taking this capture that it's not recorded in your photo app, in your photo library, you take a capture and then you can read the capture that you took, but you could only take one capture. So if the menu has more than one page, you have to then make another capture again. Now you can do multiple captures and read the menu afterwards. That's a good thing. And also the application directly enhances the capture you took, although I don't know if it will be the same in iOS 14 or not, but in iOS 13, it takes some time, maybe a second from when you push the capture button to the moment the capture is made. So if you tap the capture button, but you slightly move your telephone, the capture is not well captured. Let's see how this ends in iOS 14.

(Mario) Yeah, yeah. Well, I think that it also depends on the devices.

(Xavier) Yeah,

(David) Of course. I mean, an iPhone X, well, it's not that old, but it's beginning to be.

(Mario) Well, it's just two years old, haha.

(Xavier) Yeah, it’s not old.

(David) Well, 2 years old that can be some kind of old now for the rhythm it grows.

(Mario) It’s true. I mean, you cannot find the iPhone X anymore in the store, you cannot buy it. So that's too bad.We are in the consumer world, so, Apple decides what they decide.

(Xavier) That's terrific. Yeah.


Twitter Is Coming Out with Audio Tweets on iOS

(Mario) Well, speaking of the whole Apple news, the next news, short one, comes from Twitter and currently it's for the iOS users because they announced that right now it will be possible to put the audio message inside of your tweet and this feature will be available just for the iOS users for now. They didn't specify anything when it's coming to the Android. It looks like that, you know, Twitter is trying to, well, become kind of like short podcasting platform or whatever. They're saying now that, okay, you are limited to 140 seconds per voice message inside of the tweet. But if you record longer than 140 seconds, then your message goes into the threaded conversation so the other people can respond. And see how it works. Well, since I don't have Twitter on any of the iOS devices. Actually I do have my iPad, but I just use it for my testing purposes. I can say nothing about it. But I don’t know, have some of you tested it out or herd?

(Xavier) I haven't tested it, but there are quite sides about this thing. First of all, the thing that this feature can only be made from the official native app of Twitter in iOS.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Xavier) The second thing is that it's not fully accessible because some buttons are not labelled. The third thing is that it records it like a video. So it's not an audio, actually. It's a video what it records. And there's another last minute news that says, I've read that Twitter has reopened some APIs for third-party apps.

(Mario) That's true, yeah.

(Xavier) What Twitter closed, but I haven't had the possibility to analyse which APIs are opened because I actually in iOS, what I use, is a mixture of the native Twitter application only for notifications because I don't like Twitter application actually at all. And I use Twitterrific, which is my favourite app because Twitterrific allows me to maintain the official chronology, the official timeline, but it doesn't allow me the notifications, but Twitterrific is my favourite app.

(Mario) Right.

(Xavier) In Twitterrific in this moment I can't do the recording.

(Mario) Yeah, so the thing is about this whole new API for the Twitter is that they reopened the API by basically putting the new version of their API 2.0 and they said that many of the features which didn't work 2 years ago, which they turned it off, should be back. And I know that they said that lots of them will be back for personal use, for developers who are making like a small, let's say, personal clients. So it might be that we will see some updates in some of our windows third-party clients, for example, as well. And also the third-party clients, such as Twitterrific for the iOS. But there are also some other clients as well before the Android. So, yeah, it's cool to see that Twitter is coming back with the some stuff, which they took it off. I really was not happy to see that they closed off some of the stuff because you could really see that especially those third-party clients were very much suffering from, you know, lacking of the features.

(Xavier) Of course, yeah.

(Mario) For example, just having, you know, all these things as they should be or even improved should be very good. So, yeah, we might see lots of new things coming up in the next few months regarding the Twitter, which is cool.

(David) I understand that a lot of people is taking advantage of audio conversations, for example and nowadays lots of people, not only blind people, use audio messages in WhatsApp and that's a clear factor that audio is increasing. People are increasing its use of audio everywhere. And maybe Twitter has something also like the WhatsApp of audio messages. But I'm not confident with using audio with Twitter, because when you use WhatsApp with audio messages, you normally speak only to one or maybe more people in a group. But in Twitter, you never know who's going to listen to you.

(Mario) That's correct.

(David) It's a different kind of thing. I mean, maybe you should think better than when you record your WhatsApp audios.

(Xavier) Well, I have seen people using Twitter media to send videos, for example, International Poetry Day. I saw one of my writers sending her reading of a poem, for example. So this is another possibility. But since Twitter allowed audio sending, I haven't seen sending one person sending an audio message. So it's another possibility for once who wants will use it who doesn't need it want use it. It's a possibility. And what we need is that it's accessible. And that's all I think.

(Mario) Ok.

(David) Actually, I use Twitter, the native application, and I haven't seen an update for me right now and I don't see the audio message button. So it’s not for everybody. They said next weeks it's gonna be available, But not everybody has it right now.

(Mario) Okay. I give 100 euros to see that Trump probably has it already.

(Everyone laughs)

(Xavier) Probably with that helicopter sound behind him.

(Mario) Yeah. Who knows? Maybe he'll start using this feature or. I don't know. Yeah. Well then I don't know if there is a mute button there.

(Everyone laughs)

(Xavier) You've got the block button which is even better.

(Mario) Yeah, but. Well that's up to the listeners to decide. Hahahaha

Ok. So this are the news from Twitter.

Let's see what else do we have.


Chrome/Chrome OS Accessibility in Version 83

(Mario) Paweł?

(Paweł) Aha.

(Mario) Do you know something about Crhome accessibility and the news for the Crhome 83?

(Paweł) Yeah. More about Firefox actually. Because Chrome has also released an update.

(Mario) It did.

(Paweł) Actually 83 and 84.

(Mario) Actually the 84 is already out so the 83 is already old hahaha.

(Paweł) We can't catch up with all the releases.

(Mario) No, actually they're too fast.

(Paweł) Haha, but Firefox is also out with their 78 and one thing they definitely fixed, you can check it, for example on GitHupp, where you have huge tables with lots of lines of code. If you have a really big table, it should be more efficient to navigate this with a screen reader. And there are also some fixes to the developer tools. There are some fixes for JAWS with browsing, HTML entities and, yeah, I think there is going to be much more work now on developer tools in Firefox. They they're going to be improved pretty much. And also, Thunderbird is out with a new update. And there are some accessibility fixes in many areas in the message creation window and the contact and the account list and so on. So you can look forward to that and if you are a Windows user, then definitely you'll be happy because the new 78 version of Thunderbird has the long-awaited feature of hiding Thunderbird into the system tray.

(Mario) Oh. OK.

(Paweł) Yay, yay to the system tray. Anyway that's what I know about this.

Regarding Chrome Mario, you actually have the release notes somewhere?

(Mario) I do have the list of release notes and we will publish it in our show notes because it's a little bit difficult to find out what's going on because it was just released through the various groups and mailing lists. But yeah, it's quite, a lot of changes which they are doing on the accessibility front towards all the things like de Chrome OS on Windows and Chrome on iOS and the Android version. So each of the version says their own changes. One of many which just come to my mind, for example, which are really being improved, is the ARIA support on all of the platforms, especially the Windows one. They also improved a lot their developer tools, which they started improving in the previous versions as well. And they are saying that the possibility of reading the dates like working with the date picker now on the windows is much better than it used to be. So, yeah, go ahead and check that out. We will put the link in the show notes and, yeah, update your browser guys, it's important.

(Paweł) Yeah, especially now that, for example, Firefox is capable of showing you if any of the passwords you've saved has been compromised in a database breach of the services that you use. So you can be instantly alerted, even by your browser, to change your passwords, because maybe your password is in a dump that got leaked out and maybe you'll be better of changing your password in case somebody should, like, try to see if the same password works with a different service.

(Xavier) They say that safari in iOS 14 will do the same.

(Mario) Aha.

(Paweł) Aha, that’s a nice thing to do I guess.


Bose Shuts Down Sound Project

(Mario) The next thing we have is also a short and sad announcement from Bose, I think Bart is going to cry now because Bart bought the Bose frames. I don't know if some of you guys have it?

(Xavier) No. No, I don't.

(Paweł) No.

(Mario) Well then Bart will cry, but cry, cry, cry. The other people who are listening to us, maybe. But the thing is, it looks like that all of this augmented reality projects are not having the bright future for the moment, because Bose, which was one of the leaders in this augmented sound reality thing which started 2 years ago, decided to shut down all the projects related to the augmented reality, which means, again, that one cool thing which they had done with Microsoft soundscape, which worked on the iPhone, will 99% go away. And that's something that will not be supported anymore. And of course, that's a sad thing to see because, well, who knows what will be also the future of the Bose frames as the device itself. Also because it was designed also to be something that's used for these augmented reality thing while it was also accessible for us in the same time. But yeah, that's said to see that unfortunately some things during the whole of this COVID crisis are not going well for some manufacturers.

(Paweł) Yeah, the fortunate thing is that the spokesperson who made the announcement, they also said that perhaps they will use parts of this experience and parts of this technology that they developed to power some future projects, maybe smaller scale and maybe not strictly AR related. So maybe nevertheless, we'll be able to see some kind of advancements in this area, at least to some degree. And I think the frames are still supported to some extent at least. I heard from somebody who uses them regularly that there was a software update quite recently with some really

interesting features, like, for example, if you're tilting your head left and right, you can change the volume or do something like that.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Paweł) Yeah. There are still updates and they're still playing with this so hopefully at least those who bought the device can still enjoy the device and the support.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Paweł) Even though the AR itself is shrinking.

(Xavier) It's serious because Bose is a big brand.


(Mario) It is, yeah.

(Xavier) I don't know who can you be confident in because you cannot be confident in some little brands, But Bose is a brand. I mean when you buy some Apple device you can be confident that you're buying something that will last.

(Mario) Aha.

(Xavier) But which are the brands that you would be confident in? Moreover, in things that are good for blind people. So you have to think a lot when you're buying things before you buy. A part from deciding if you want to pay the money they are asking you, you have to evaluate if these things will last.

(Mario) Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.

(Xavier) So this is a thing you have to think of.

(Mario) That's for sure. I would say that, well, at least that's how I'm doing is whenever I'm going to purchase something, whether is tech or anything, I will use I'm going to make really extended research about it.


(Xavier) But with tech it seems like it's a more volatile market.

(Mario) It is. Yeah. And things are changing on the fast pace.

(Xavier Yeah.

(Mario) What was working at a certain point? Tomorrow might not exist anymore and unfortunately that's sad to see.

(Xavier) And this is something that is not asked to sighted people to do.

(Mario) True.

(Xavier) This analyses is something that is not asked to do to sighted people. When someone buys something, they are sure that they would be able to use this thing for more time. So we have to analyse things more than sighted people actually.

(Mario) Sure.

(David) Well, ask all the people who bought the Betamax system in the 80s, it was a system that collapsed in very few years.

(Xavier) But they were able to use those tapes for some years.

(David) Maybe, but not to buy movies or whatever.

(Xavier) It happens less times that than it happens to us.

(David) Maybe what happens to blind people is that we are some kind of more hungry for help or for technology that helps that whenever you find a new, whatever, a new application, a new…


(David) Piece of gear that makes something that you wished a long time ago to have. Well, you can think, yes, maybe it's not that you can be confident in that company, but you need that so I think it's more difficult for blind people also to do that.

(Mario) True.

(Xavier) We are more exposed.

(Mario) And especially if you don't have enough technical background to do that, you really need to, or read the sites which do the reviews for you, or you need to have some circle of friends who are techie enough who can do good recommendations because otherwise you can buy the product, which eventually might not be what you're looking for.

(Xavier) But that's what we do in our group here in Barcelona. And if someone had asked me are you confident in Bose brand, I would have said, yes, that's a good brand.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Xavier) I would have been wrong.

(Mario) Well, that's the fact that nobody could predict basically what would happen.

(Xavier) Yeah.

(Mario) Because basically all of that thing came just, well, let's say overnight. So I would say that it was a big surprise for all the people who trusted the Bose brand.

I mean, I remember the story when I was buying my Bluetooth headset for me. So it was like, uh, three years ago. So I was searching for the Bluetooth headset, which would be useful for me because I wanted to use it, for the first thing, I wanted to use outside for my navigation on the phone. So I bought the Aftershockz and they work great. The only downside of the Aftershockz, which really bothers me as the person who is also working with the audio, is the fact that when you're having any kind of voice call over, like Skype, or WhatsApp, or whatever, your audio sounds like shit through this Bluetooth headset because the overall Bluetooth compatibility uses the Bluetooth 4.0 and the codex are really bad ones. You sound like you're speaking from the phone 100 years old.

(Xavier) Yeah, hehe.

(David) hahaha.

(Mario) That’s something you will not or you will rarely find in the reviews. Before I purchased the gadget I read like 50 reviews about the product on different websites and stuff and nobody said like, yeah, this is something you should pay attention of but well that's the stuff you learn when you buy the product.


Naughty Dog Makes PlayStation Game Accessible

(Mario) All right. So after the Bose thing, we can jump into the games because the company Naughty Dog announced that they made a PlayStation accessible to the blind and visually impaired community, which for people who are gamers is a big thing. Personally, I was into games 20 years ago, but right now I'm not so much. But I'm sure that there are lots of people still playing around and as a matter of fact, Xavier and Paweł do have some experiences with this. So what do you have to say, guys?

(Paweł) I just heard Let's Play because one of my friends here in Poland, he is really huge into gaming and he's blind himself. So he always uses the opportunity to play such titles. And I must say, it's pretty impressive what they did because there are around 50 or 60 options just for accessibility.

(Mario) Yeah, 60.

(Paweł) Yeah. So no matter what kind of adjustments you need, you will find the option for it. The whole menu, all the menus, all the texts that you need to read, everything is synthesised.

(Mario) Aha.

(Paweł) I don't know the synthesiser it comes with, it must be something they made because it cracks up in a lot of places. For Polish this is a female voice, a I don’t know in other languages. But the funny thing it does is it tries to pronounce the English names properly, even with the proper accent. So in the middle of your own language, you will probably hear an imitation of English accent.

(Mario) Oh.

(Paweł) Which is really funny with synthesiser. It's sort of accurate, but you can hear it synthesised. It's really interesting feeling, but you can do everything. You can go through the menus. You can read the notes that you find along the way because just to set you in the action. This is postapocalyptic world we're talking about. There are a couple of plots that you play. So you are more than one character in within this plot. But basically you're in a sort of station that is, I think, responsible for those who are left behind and so that the whole world as it is, can survive further and there are people infected with a virus. Sounds familiar.

(Mario) Hohohoho.

(Paweł) Except this people if they bite you, they probably will kill you. This is some kind of zombie variation. So you have to be really careful out in this world. And, well, you basically perform different tasks, you know, to keep the humanity going, to upkeep the stations, the posts to check if there are any infected people who could be dangerous to the rest of the population. And there is a plot, there is an actual story that is going on. So not to give you too many spoilers. You will have a lot to discover. Yeah. As you can already guess, there are plenty of fighting scenes. There is plenty of climbing, collecting items, looking for some proves and looking for some hints to solve some kind of riddles. So there is a lot of reading, There is a lot of walking, crawling, crouching, fighting. And in this fighting, you actually get to beat the characters in different parts of the body, either the head or the chest. So you have to be really precise. And they managed to sort of convey it. There are some audio clues, for example, when you're navigating and there is a special mode in which you can hear the sounds from all around when you, for example, find an item to pick up.

(Mario) Aha.

(Paweł) It makes a sound, you can approach it and you can pick it up.

And also, you can hear the audio beacons for when you have to go somewhere. So in some parts, I could tell that the game is sort of making the choices for you. It like lets you be guided on the right way. So if you, you know, are really touchy about this, you might feel that the game sort of plays itself for you. But nevertheless, you actually have to distinguish when you need to crouch more or where you can fully stand up and go further when you straighten up. And this mechanics is actually presented quite well. If you have a pad playing a game pad with vibration optics, this is good as well because some of the clues are indicated by vibration. I think there is a scene where you have to play the guitar and by vibration you can somehow determine if you're plucking the right chords. Of course, if you collect some notes like the pages of a diary, they are read out to you with their synthesiser. There is a lot of help given to you which buttons you have to press in order to achieve what exactly. There are even some tips given as to how to approach certain mechanics if you're blind. So the game is really playable. And this friend of mine was able to carry on like hours and hours worth of Twitch streams. So definitely it's playable and you can probably also finish it. But what I found, for example, missing is audio description for cut scenes. And for any kind of activity where you don't really play, you just observe what's happening. The characters are talking to each other, but they are relying on visual clues that they see. And you don't know what is going on because there is no audio description track for these scenes.

(Mario) OK.

(Paweł) Which I find pity. But yeah, other than this, this would be like, in my opinion, the biggest drawback. I could see that the person playing was having a lot of fun with this. And I see a lot of people are really grateful to Naughty Dog that they did this and I hope it will also extend to the new PlayStation five, because as far as I know, accessibility on PlayStation four is there so you can get some text to speech for the menus of the console, but only if you are using the American firmware and only in English. So if you use anything else than that, I think even if you use British firmware, you don't get this TTS options. So I really, really hope this will change in PS5.

(Xavier) Yeah. You have said many things I wanted to say, haha. One of the drawbacks that it's not from Naughty Dog, is that You don't have really accessibility, at least for totally blind people. You don't have really accessibility in PS4. Because I have tried it and you don't have TTS unless you are in American firmware. You have Zoom capabilities: you can maximise the screen, you can do zoom, you can do screen contrast, high contrast from something but not TTS.

So the problem is the first configuration. You need to sighted assistance. Once you've done it, then you can access easily if you learn the way to the game. So if you know what you have to do to press twice down and one to the right you can you can play the game.

(David) And this is helpful until something like an update comes and new screen appears and you don't see what's happening.

(Mario) Yeah, true.

(Xavier) Perhaps. The game is playable, but not fully accessible. You need what Paweł have said audio description. And what I'd like to say is that this game is not only accessible and inclusive because accessibility is not only for blind people, it's also for deaf people, because you can have light notifications and also for motor disabilities.

(Mario) Aha.

(Xavier) So they have done a good job and it would be nice that more companies would help with this. And my expectations are also for PS5. So I will start playing. I was not very convinced, but I would start playing. I'm not a gamer right now. But I’m very enthusiastic about these solutions for accessibility. Not because it's a game. But I want to try this. And if I get tired of this, I suppose that my son will continue. I feel like very much in trying this.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Paweł)For those of you who don't mind spoilers, I think there are plenty of game place and done by blind gamers in English, Liam Erven or Brandon Cole, to name a few.

(Xavier) Yeah.

(Paweł) Do have a look.

(Xavier) I have seen game plays.

(Mario) So let me just clarify that you were saying that in order to have the TTS available, you would need to have the firmware for the US PlayStation?

(Paweł) For playstations menus, not the game. The game can start anywhere.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Paweł) But in broader sense, if you want to use PlayStation along without any sighted assistance, you would need the American firmware for now.

(Mario) OK.

(Paweł) So in the game it's separate independently.

(Xavier) And even with that, the accessibility is not so good because for example, with the accessibility activated, you can not access all the menus. You can only access the accessibility menu, but not all the other configuration menus.

(Paweł) Oh.

(Xavier) It’s a very poor… There's a YouTube channel called Illegally Sighted.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Xavier) Which is the opposite to legally blind. It's a very nice title.

(Mario) Hahaha.

(Xavier) Yeah, hehe. This guy is partially sighted, is illegally sighted, so he has done demos on his American PlayStation and he couldn't enter many of the menus. But well it was nice to see what menus he could enter. I don’t know if you can change the firmware of the PlayStation if you have an European firmware. I don't know if you can change that firmware easily or it's not an illegal thing. I don't know. So it would be nice to experiment the accessibility.

Well, I hope PlayStation 5 has better accessibility, and because I have seen even people who install Linux in PlayStation 4. So some things may be done. I don't know if it's normal or if it’s easy…

(Paweł) I think this is homebrewing already. This is the dark territory where you install unofficial things on your PlayStation.

(Xavier) Yeah.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Paweł) Has been going on for ages.

(Xavier) But change the firmware may be an unofficial thing also?


(Paweł) I'm not sure.

(David) I don't think so because you can only have games of your region. They have different regions and you can only load games of your region. So officially, there would be no use in changing your firmware. So maybe you can do it like you do homebrewing, not officially.

(Mario) Okay. Yeah.

(Xavier) Don't mind. I suppose I want do it.

(Mario) It reminds me of the whole thing when DVDs were still accurate where you would not be able to watch certain things because they were designed for different region so you wouldn't be able to watch…

(Xavier) For PlayStation, I suppose there are restrictions also. I don't know exactly, but it's difficult thing. So let's stay without TTS in Europe.

(Mario) Yeah. Which sucks. So I suppose that then this friend of yours, Paweł, who made that demo He had this American TTS installed I mean, this American firmware.

(Paweł) First of all, he had some sided assistance. Second of all, he's the sort of person who learns menus, layouts by heart because he played the old consoles and stuff. But I think it was very easy to activate the TTS on the game directly once you loaded the game. I don't remember the procedure anymore, but he explained to me. You just need to press the right buttons on the pad and it would work. So in the game itself, it's not that hard. But I know that for backup, he always has somebody cited to help him out.

(Mario) OK, yeah.

(Xavier) Yeah.

(Mario) Well, overall, it's good to see that, you know, the things are improving in terms of the accessibility gaming. Well, it definitely isn't perfect, but we are moving forward because we can see that the mainstream titles are starting to be, let's say, adjusted for visually impaired community and that's nice.


Google may release the stable Android 11 update on September 8th

(Mario) After the PlayStation four, we can jump to the other mobile OS territory speaking of the Android 11, which should come out soon. There are rumors and indications that possible dates for Android 11 is 8 September, though it's not being confirmed by Google yet. On some websites and in some changelogs, it's possible to see that it could be released on 8 September.

One of the things which is really important to Android 11 is the fact that, we were talking about this earlier in the podcast, not this episode, but a few episodes back, are the huge news for the users of the assistive technology. And now we can see that those things are coming along. Google was supposed to do this big event at the beginning of June with the Android beta announcement. But because of the whole COVID situation, it got postponed, but Google kind of quietly launched Android 11 beta. Now the Pixel users mostly and users of some other devices, such as One Plus devices and few others are able to install the beta and see how this stuff is working or not working for the moment. The overall changes for these improvements, for the accessibility, especially multi finger gestures and what we were speaking before are coming along. And now you can already see them in the Android 11. One of the podcasts called Anatad that speaks about it and they kind of demonstrated how it’s supposed to be looking.

There are some other things as well, right Paweł?

(Paweł) Yeah. Minor compared to the multifinger gestures, but nevertheless useful one I personally find a really genius idea, because this could have come so much earlier, because it's a really simple concept, it's one of the new TalkBack actions that you can use when you assign the gestures, which is simulation of the multimedia button. And the multimedia button is the tiny button that you probably find on most of the remote controls of your headphones. And if you know which one that is, you probably know how powerful it could be because it can play audio, stop playing audio, it can pick up or hang up the calls. It can activate or deactivate some push to talk modes in some messaging apps. It can let you do so much more. Every app that uses it can actually configure its own actions. Even some apps for the blind, for example, the DotWalker navigation that I use. It has a configurable action under this multimedia button from like voice assisted commands to some information on your route, progress and so on. And this is the Google's answer to the magic tap of the iPhone. So double tap of two fingers. And from what I heard in the Anatad podcast, it worked OK and I'm really, really looking forward to this because it will make a lot of operations really easy.

(Mario) Aha.

(Paweł) And the second thing that came and I find it really, really nice, especially if you are to help somebody sighted with their phone, is that now the accessibility shortcuts, the both volume buttons held down will also work from the lock screen.

(Mario) Okay.

(Paweł) I think it's really good because sometimes there is this relative or friend of yours who will ask you for some advice with their phone because something is not working and you know, it's best if you can take a look at it and go and fix it. And, you know, before we had to actually ask people to go to the settings to turn on TalkBack to do something else. And now I'm really happy to see also, even with this kind of manufacturers who provide custom UI for the Android, this shortcut is not being disabled. So even if I pick a Huawei phone, for example, the one that still had Android, you could hold it down and TalkBack would come up and I could do it easily. But in order to do that, I needed to have the phone unlocked, which in most cases, of course, would be OK, but sometimes there are just kind of phones that you use together with somebody who is sighted or sometimes you would like to help somebody or use somebodies phone for a bit because yours is flat on battery or broken, or you just found a phone somewhere and you would like to return it to the owner. And unless you got some help to unlock it or to do something else about it, you couldn't use it. And now you can turn on TalkBack anywhere and you can unlock it and then proceed. So I think it's a really great enhancement.

(Mario) Yeah, absolutely. But in order to do that, you need to have the phone which will be Android 11 compatible. That's the thing to remember.

(Xavier) That's the real problem, isn't it?

(Paweł) Yeah, it's difficult because there is this Eterno Android legend that if you've got a phone, especially the cheaper phones, one to two updates is the maximum you'll get. There are some really exceptional manufacturers who provide three.

(Mario) Aha.

(Paweł) And that's it. And so unless you are into going into custom roms and flashing unofficial software you're pretty much out of accessibility enhancements because some of them actually come in form of API changes, which are on the system level so there is nothing Google can do to bring it officially to you. And that is the problem with Android in a lot of cases, because then even TalkBack after some versions, loses support for this older operating systems.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Xavier) Because which one do you have actually now Paweł?

(Paweł) Motorola One and unfortunately, I don't think I'll get the Android 11. I don't know for sure, but I think we started with 8. I got the 9, I got the 10. And I think that would be it.

(Xavier) Okay.

(Mario) I'm also on the Android 8, but the fact is that I have, it's called a rugged device, basically belongs to the group of rugged devices. And the thing about the whole concept of having an Android rugged devices that 95% of them are not receiving regular updates for the newer versions of the software. So the thing is that, for example, my phone has Android 8.1 and it will stay probably that way until my phone doesn't go dead or if I don't buy the new one.

(Xavier) Yeah.

(Mario) And since, for example, these changes that are coming along in the Android are really huge ones, we haven't seen such big changes in the last 5 to 6 years. I will wait until, you know, the official release of the Android 11 is being launched and I will wait for a few more months to see how everything works and then I’ll see what I can purchase from the newer devices because, yeah, I want to have a device which is ready for that.

(Xavier) Okay.

(Mario) The thing is that I was waiting to see how it will be with the Pixels, because Google was supposed to launch this Pixel 4a but it got postponed once and then twice, and then now it's uncertain when is it coming out? Now they're saying that it should be in October. When you compare the overall features that the phone will have… It will not be 5G compatible, if we speak about having the device, which should last like 3 years or so or more should be nice feature to have. So some new device that it's 5G compatible.

(Xavier) Yes.

(Mario) But OK, it's not the main thing which bothers me. But what bothers me really is the fact that the whole Pixel devices are having a weak battery. And that's one of the things which I really find irritating in the phone in general. You can have three million of good features in the phone, but if the battery is weak, what do I have to charge the phone twice a day just to keep it running? Doesn't make sense.

(Xavier) I agree with you, battery is basic.

(Mario) We will see how the stuff comes along. it's cool to see that, you know, the things are going forward in the Android. I am hoping that Google will release some probably Pixel 5 this year. So we will see how Pixel 5 will compare to the all the requirements of the market and how it will work. Because the thing is that really the the accessibility on the Android side really came along a lot and it's coming along. Finally, a lot comparing to the iOS. So basically right now, if you're purchasing the device, it's really like we are coming to the point where it's personal choice of the person to decide what do you want to have. It's no longer required for the person to use the iOS device if you don't want to.

(David) It’s a good thing to be able to choose.

(Mario) Of course, having a choice is good. Especially if we are talking about the assistive tech. There are people who like to have multiple TTS engines installed on their phone and by default on Android That's possible and on the iOS, you are just stuck with what you have, basically. So if you're if some of the languages are not supported, then, well, better luck in a few years.

(David) hehe.

(Xavier) In Siri yes.

(Mario) Yeah. So we will see how this stuff goes. But let's hope that the Android 11 comes out on 8 September and a little bit newer Pixels.

Actually, they're saying that starting from Pixel 2 and upwards should be all compatible for it. So we will see how it will go.

Though I have to say that I don't know Paweł if you saw this info on the list, I read the information that Google is planning to starting to lock down the Android so you will not be able to install the alternative ROMs anymore.

(Paweł)They're planning and at least it was spotted that they might be introducing a hardware lock on these kind of operations. I think there was some rumors that it will be much more difficult to install external apps from APK files. There will be some kind of segregated memory. They’ll be somehow sandboxed so they don't have access to the same partition as the once installed from Google Play. But I don't know the details yet so I would hold off until we have any kind of remarks. But it might be that they're going more into the clothes, which would be not so nice because so that's why we chose Android over iOS. And now they're exactly making a U-turn and going in the other direction.

(Mario) Time will tell.

(Paweł) Yeah. For sure.

(Mario) We will see how it will be.


NVDA and JAWS Updates

(Mario) That was the news about the Android thing. And next thing, which we have AR the news from the Screen reader manufacturers for Windows.

NVDA and JAWS, they both have new updates.

The NVDA is currently on the ARC 1 for the 2020.2 release. And JAWS is at the June update at the last for JAWS 2020. Each of them they have their own news. What's going on in the changelog. Paweł you got some infos.

(Paweł) In JAWS we have some improvements in the Braille viewer. The Braille viewer let's a sighted person view the text as its output to the braille display. And I think they now introduced the actual dot representations of the braille characters and there is even a live simulation of a braille display on the screen which adapts to the kind of the braille display you have. So if it's a 40, it will show a 40 on the screen. It if it's 80, it will show the 80 on the screen.

(Mario) Sounds familiar, hahaha.

(Paweł) Yeah! I think there is also a text viewer, which is sort of similar. The Braille viewer is there on the screen and if it's disconnected then it's 40 by default because this would be like the most common display size that people get. So that's the I think the only change in JAWS, really.

And regarding NVDA, then there is support added for a couple more apps. There is support for the Windows terminal which is a tabbed interface that you can, I think, get from the Microsoft store or it will come with one of the Windows updates, which is cool if you administer a couple of servers at once, you can switch them in tabs and have a look at all of your sessions from one window, but also, there is a support added for the Eset products. So Eset antivirus and Eset Internet security.

(Mario) I was surprised to see that. I didn't use the Eset products for… Wow, man, like 5, 6 years for sure. I was thinking, okay, does people still use them. But eventually they are.

(Paweł) Aha. And here I would recommend you to read the GitHub ticket that is attached to the changelog entry because it's not that easy to install it. On one side. NVDA got a module that I think was even written by the people from Eset. But in order to make it work, you have to go on the Eset website. Everything is given in ticket body and download an entry that you need to add to your database of viruses or install together with the Eset, because otherwise the antivirus will think that NVDA is a virus, because it's trying to intercept the keys. And in order to basically make it possible for NVDA to navigate Eset, you need to install this exception to the rule and allow the keyboard input to go through.

(Mario) OK.

(Paweł) So I know it's not a straightforward procedure, but at least it's there. There is also support for Nattiq Braille displays. Nattiq is a company from, I believe, United Arab Emirates, which they make a sort of notetakers for the blind, which are based on Windows computers. And you can choose the parameters of this computer.

(Mario) They are like these modular devices that you can choose which kind of specs do you want and what kind of stuff.

(Paweł) Yes, exactly. And they have their own Braille displays to go with them. So that's why the new driver. And other than that, there are some new keyboard shortcuts to open, for example, the config folder, to see the currently active profile and so on and so forth. There is a fix for one password, the famous password manager and plenty of bug fixes. So if you haven't updated yet, either, go ahead and take the RC one.

(Mario) Or you wait for few weeks and get the official 2020.2 when it comes out. Because it will come soon.

(Paweł) For sure.


How to make a WhatsApp voice or video call with Google Assistant

(Mario) These were the news from the Screen reader. And the last thing for today before our demo, that’s the premiere which we will have in our podcast and I'm sure that many people will be curious to see what's going on. But before that, just a short announcement that now it's possible to make the WhatsApp audio and video calls from the Google assistant on your phone. If you're having a Google assistant, you can now give a simple command and it will respond.

I tried it also on Google Home and it doesn't work so it just works on the phone because if you give the same command on Google home, it will activate Google Duo so It's not working, it's just working on the smartphone. Overall, if you want to use the WhatsApp with the set of audio navigation and audio spoken commands, you can do that.

There will be a link for that in the show notes.


Demo: Miele WDD 131 WPS Guideline

(Mario) Thankfully, we came to the end of our show. What we have is a premiere for you of the demo for the Miele Washing machine. The model is called WDD 131 guideline. That's the special washing machine designed for blind and visually impaired people. And Tanja, who is not in the podcast for us today, will do the demo because she got the machine. I am really looking forward to see and to hear how the device looks and feels and how it sounds.


(Jingle announcing demo time)

(Beep indicating that the programme on the washing machine has been started          )

(Sound indicating that the door of the washing machine has been locked)

(Washing Machine started and filling with water)


(Tanja) Hello.

In this demo, I will present you the washing machine that was           specifically designed for visually impaired users from Miele. The model is WDD 131 WPS guideline. If you're not familiar, Miele is a German manufacturer that manufactures high quality domestic appliances and they're attested to last twenty years. Miele appliances are pricey, including this washing machine that costed me around 1000 euros, but you pay off with the time because the experience that I heard from other people that bought Miele appliances is that you don't need reparations in the long run, at least 10-15 years because of a great quality. This special washing machine features tactile markings and a touch screen sensor with acoustic indicator. This machine does not have any braille signage, which is understandable because if you think some people do not read braille, especially people who start to lose their sight at a later age.

With the machine, you also receive the audio guide in daisy format on the USB stick in different languages. The audio guide serves to get you familiar with the washing machine, but is not as detailed as the operating instructions that you may find on the Internet in PDF format that you can also read in addition to the audio guide. The audio guide is done especially for visually impaired users, which means that when you receive the machine at home, you don't need to ask anyone to show you the buttons and the functions on the control panel, which is great because you can be fully independent.

This is not a smart machine that you would use with your mobile application, but everything is built-in. Unfortunately, it does not speak, but as soon as you learn all the functions with the audio guide, you are 99% independent. Why I say 99%? Because eather there is an issue and you cannot look on the screen, then you need to ask someone or call Be My Eyes or ask a sighted person what is happening actually because the screen is not spoken. Nevertheless, I think for the quality, as Miele is very known manufacturer for high quality domestic appliances, it is great that they decided to design a washing machine especially for visually impaired persons with the same quality that they do for the other machines and also by using the same system that they're already using, like the acoustic indicators or touch sensors.

So the washing machine can take up to eight kilograms of dry clothes and the door is in the front. On the control panel you can find raised dots and emboss lines, symbols that indicate programmes and programme parameters.

So now I'm in front of the machine. If I am touching from the right front of the machine, first I have the round programme selector for selecting 12 washing programmes. The selector features a notch where you can feel where the selector is positioned. The off setting is at 12 o'clock on the top and you can feel that off is indicated with a circle. All other programmes are indicated with a dot and also the selector will stop at each programme. When you select one of the programmes, the greeting sound from the washing machine will start. I will show you now I'll turn the round selector to the first programme on the left, which is eco.

(2 beeps indicating that the washing machine has been turned on)

And this is the greeting sound. I can turn for one more programme. It will not make any further sound, but it is clear now that I'm on a second washing programme because the indicator is showing that I selected the second dot on the left. There are 6 dots on the left and 6 dots on the right to show 12 programmes. And if I want to turn back the selector, it will also make a sound that is turned off.

(2 beeps indicating that the washing machine has been turned off)

Let me tell you what are the 12 washing programs.

(2 beeps indicating that the washing machine has been turned on)

The first programme is eco. I will turn the selecter for one more programme further to the left, which is cotton. You have also for each programme factory parameters like temperature, spin speed and extras that you can also change on the control panel by using touch sensors that I'll explain in a few seconds, but I can tell you, what are the other washing programmes on this machine. The next one on the left, third, is minimum Irun. 4th one on the left delicate.5th one, woolen. And 6th one four shirts. I don't know if you can also hear from my mike when I turn to the next programme. It makes a click.

(Sound of selector making few clicks in a row)

So it's a standard selector, but you can feel really clearly when you turn to the next programme, which is very convenient. I will switch back to Selector to the 12 o'clock position to turn it off.

(2 beeps indicating that the washing machine has been turned off)

And tell you what are the programmes on the right.

(2 beeps indicating that the washing machine has been turned on)

It greeted me and the first one is Express, a very short programme. The second one on the right is four dark garments and jeans. Third one on the right, outerwear. 4th one on the right, proofing. 5th on the right is drain and spin, which is a very short one 12 minutes and the 6th one on the right is separate rinse and starch.

What is really nice on this machine is that you can easily adjust all the programme parameters like temperature, spin speed and extras without any issues, which very often is not so easy on standard machines. What makes this washing machine special is not only that it has tactile markings, but it gives you audio feedback, which makes it different from ordinary machines that you may adapt. You may attach tactile markings, but you don't receive the feedback so you can easily make a mistake.


I'll try to describe how it looks like. From the selector you have tactile line that guides you from number 9, if you imagine the clock, to the left towards the control fields and the first buttons that you can touch, these are not really buttons, these are touch sensors, but they're all indicated with tactile markings, And the first one is the start, like a circle and around it you can touch some dots that prevent you to touch the start unintentionally.

Above you have the delay function if you want to delay starting of the washing from 1 hour up to 7 hours. The delay function has a shape of a diamond and on the left and on the right you have a dot on which you can touch and you will change the parameters. For example, I will touch the diamond to activate it.

(Activation beep)

On the right

(Low beep)

I will increase

(Higher beep)

So the first one was 1 hour, two hours,

(Higher beep)

3 hours,

(Higher beep)


(Higher beep)


(Higher beep)


(Higher beep)

and 7.

If I want to decrease the hours, I will touch the dot on the left.

(beeps from higher to lower pitch)


(2 quick beeps indicating deactivation)

I can deactivate it by touching again the diamond.


If I continue to go on the left of the tactile line, there are 4 different columns showing temperature, spin speed, express and cap dosing.

Starting from the left you have a vertical column with 6 options for temperature. Starting from the bottom first, you have the indication of the symbol that you can touch so that you know what you are selecting. The temperature is indicated with a symbol plus. Going up you have the first option under temperature, which is cold.

(Low beep)

the sound is lower.

(Higher beep)

20 degrees, a little bit higher.

(Higher beep)


(Higher beep)


(Higher beep)


(Higher beep)


The column on the right that is separated with a vertical line is indicated with a circle. Again, on the bottom, you can touch the representation of a circle that will not make any sound, but if you go above

(Low beep)

you will find the first option no spin.

(Higher beep)

reads hold.

(Higher beep)


(Higher beep)


(Higher beep)


(Higher beep)



The next one on the right is for extras that is represented with a minus symbol. 4 different extras.


The first option is for soaking that is represented as a tap of water.


Prewash - wavy horizontal line.


Water plus represented with a plus.


Short, represented with double arrows to the right.

Each of the extras, you can also select and de-select.


One beep means select

(2 quick beeps)

and two quick beeps means de-selected.


The 4th column is four, the special Miele cap dosing system represented by a rectangular. You have three options for detergent, additives or softener. They're very convenient if you don't feel comfortable using liquid detergents or powder, but personally, I don't use them, so I cannot tell you my experience, But this is an option that may simplify your washing.


On the left we have the detergent drawer on which you can touch embossed Miele letters. And when you open it, the first section that is covered and that you can open, is for the capsule or for the softener. So I’ll close it back. On the left, you have a bigger section that is for the detergent for the main Wash, and on the right, the smaller section for the detergent, for the prewash. As I open the drawer, I will put the liquid detergent because I prefer the liquid one.

Okay, I will close the drawer.

I will close the door of the washing machine.

(click that the door has been closed)

That closes very easily.

I will activate the washing programme

(click of the programme selector and 2 beeps indicating that the washing machine has been turned on)

following the line from The selector, until the break of the line, above it, I can find the small dots that guide me to the start that I will press now.

(beep indicating the start and sound that the door has been locked)

The door has been locked. Now, after few seconds the washing will start.

(Washing Machine started and filling with water)

When the wash cycle is finished

(2 beeps indicating end of washing programme)

the machine will alert you with the audible sound.

(2 beeps indicating end of washing programme)

After the washing programme ends, the anti-crease phase is switched on for 30 minutes to prevent creasing of the clothes and the drum will continue to turn.

(2 beeps indicating end of washing programme)

What this means for us is that the door is still locked and I will be able to unlock it by touching the start.

(2 quick beeps)

You could hear the double audio beep.

(Beep and sound that the door has been unlocked)

And, when I touched the start for the second time, the door has been unlocked and I can open the door of the washing machine and turn back the selector to 12 o'clock position.

(2 beeps indicating that the washing machine has been turned off)


(Jingle indicating end of demo)



(Mario) I think we are one of the first podcasts overall that will have the possibility of reviewing such products because there are some other podcasts which were saying that they will do the demo, but they didn't do it yet. I’m really curious to see the feedback after that from our listeners.

We are available, as always, on our Twitter which got occupied an hour mailbox is getting busy as well, which is nice to see. We will be away for a month. We are going to have a summer break because we all needed. In August, there will be no EBU Access Cast, but we will be back with the new and old faces in September. So until next time have a good vacation. Stay safe because the COVID crisis is still going on and we are seeing some eventual local lockdowns again and new measures appearing. Where the masks, wash your hands and stay safe and until next time bye-bye.

(Everyone bye-bye)

Bye. See you. Thank you.


(VoiceOver) Thank you for listening. This has been EBU Access Cast.