Thursday, August 29, 2013

Accessibility - Attempt 2

Shane is very good at showing and describing the motions needed to operate VoiceOver + the strengths and limitations of the tool.

Awesome work Shane and thank you.
That night, more than a little blue, I was idly surfing the net with my iPad.....

On the iPad - I noticed that some sites had a Reader button appear in the URL.
Click on it - and it becomes text.
I wonder if there are other accessibility settings in here?  Maybe VoiceOver?

---------- I set up VoiceOver, showed him how it worked, and handed Dad the iPad.
Well, this looks more promising, Dad said as he put the iPad to his nose and squinted to see the screen. Typing, however, was still slow and awkward. Not sure how well this is going to work. ---------- Wendy - did you think about using Siri? My brother is also in the IT space. He has occasional flashes of genius. This was one. I scampered back to the iPad. Can my father draft an email without having to type it? My answer....kinda. I still need to figure out how to delete incorrect text in a way that isn't so frustrating. Furthermore, besides reading and writing emails, is there some way to make my Dad more independent? Not so reliant on Mom to get out and about? As it stands, Dad is still trying to maintain his old normal in hopes that the scheduled surgeries give him his eyesight back. That's part of the process. One of the lessons learned is that people will learn what they need to know when they are ready. Meanwhile - this buys me some time to figure this whole issue out. And pray that we never need to use any of this information.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Accessibility - This One's Personal

For 50 years, Dad has been blind in one eye.
For 25 of those years, he's seen nothing at all out of that eye. No light, no shade, nothing.

A month or so back - he noticed something in his good eye.

A leisurely Friday trip to the doctor turned into a month of bright lights, lasers, fog and tendrils drifting through his vision.  The retina in his good eye was starting to let go.

His good eye is weak from doing the work of two eyes for the past 50 years, so recuperation hasn't gone as smoothly as any of us hope.  Thankfully, he is getting his sight back.  There is still a long way to go and we're not entirely certain how permanent this fix is.

The thought of my Dad becoming functionally illiterate if things go wrong scares the heck out of me.
He's put up a good front, and has engaged in more than a little denial, but I know he's scared too.

Right now - we have a chance to come up with a back-up plan.  Dad currently has vision enough to read (albeit uncomfortably) and learn a new tool.  Time to strike while we still have the chance.
One of the benefits of a formal instructional technology education is exposure to assistive technologies.
I haven't had to take a look at the state of the field in a very long time (like 7+ years).

Now - I'm motivated.
My Dad is an Apple fanboy.  However - he's of the "buy once and use until death" school of IT.

He had his Power Computing desktop for over 10 years before he finally had to break down and buy a new tower a few years ago.

My first thought was to use Mac OS 10.6.x built in accessibility tool - VoiceOver.


This sighted person could not figure out how to get the thing to work the way I wanted it to with the control I would like - even being able to SEE the screen.   I am not the only one (read the comments).

Really awkward multi-finger keystrokes are required.  Might be OK for a kid (or me).
Very awkward for a 70+ year old - even with decent dexterity.
There also didn't seem to be any way to integrate voice commands with the technology.

I had Dad try out the solution. He (rightly) rejected it out of hand.

How do they expect me to use this if I can't read my keyboard?  How indeed.
There had to be a better solution.