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Welcome to 276.. 2

More on Voice Dream Reader. 2

Intersectionality, the BT Speak, Customer Service, and Swimming.. 12

Tempo Perfect, an Accessible Metronome App.. 13

Contacting TSA Cares. 14

Transcriptions in Apple Podcasts. 15

Why VoiceOver Switches Languages in the Status Bar in iOS 17.4.. 16

Comments on the Deane Blazie Interview.. 19

Dictation in iOS 17.4.. 22

Problems with the Guardian App.. 23

Windows 10 and 11.. 24

I Saw an Apple Vision Pro.. 25

Comments on Some Recent Topics. 25

Victor Reader Stream 2 and Audible.. 29

Review of the Keyto Breath Sensor. 30

Comments on iOS 17.4.. 36

Dolby Atmos. 36

Thoughts on Episode 271.. 38

Apple Podcast Notifications. 40

New Hearing Aids. 41

Zoom H Essential Series Recorders. 43

Petition to Restore the Envision College Success Program… 45

Closing and Contact Info.. 46




Welcome to 276


Voiceover: From Wellington, New Zealand, to the world, it’s Living Blindfully – living your best life with blindness or low vision. Here is your host, Jonathan Mosen.


The Voice Dream Reader Saga rumbles on this week as attention turns to a breach of Apple’s app review guidelines, feedback on iOS 17.4, and if you’re living the keto lifestyle or want to, the Keto Breath Sensor is an accessible way to check your keto levels.

Yes, Virginia. There really is an area code 276, and it belongs to Western Virginia. This is where it gets confusing, you see, because it applies to Western Virginia, as opposed to West Virginia, which is a completely separate state.

But if you happen to be in area code 276 in the western part of Virginia, no doubt you’ll be on top of all of this confusion. We welcome you. And furthermore, we salute you in your Living Blindfully day in the sun.

Advertisement: We bring you transcripts of every episode of Living Blindfully. And that’s possible, thanks to sponsorship from Pneuma Solutions.

One of the cool things about the Internet is that it connects us with the wider world. But another cool thing about the Internet is that it can create places just for us. Of course, Living Blindfully is one such place. And another one is Sero.

Sero (spelled S-E-R-O) is a social network designed by us, for us.

Sero is available everywhere. It’s on your smartphone, your Apple TV, your Amazon Echo, and of course, on a fully accessible website.

If you download the Sero mobile app from wherever you get your apps for your mobile device, you’ll be able to sample some of the content free. And that includes this podcast and Mushroom FM.

But paying a subscription to Sero gives you access to a treasure trove of information, including newspapers, forums where blind and low vision people can discuss a wide range of issues, a handy accessible email client, and so much more.

You have to check out all the features. You’ll be amazed at how much is there.

Go to That’s Access the products link, and then choose Sero for more information.

More on Voice Dream Reader

Voice message: Hi, Jonathan! It’s Carolyn here, just responding to your latest episode of Living Blindfully all around the Voice Dream Reader issue.

I’m actually gutted that it’s gone fully to a subscription platform. I understand the reasons. But for me personally, I work in casual employment and I do a lot of voluntary work in which I use Voice Dream Reader for. But I cannot afford the subscription cost of nearly, well, $100. Well, for me it’s $80 a year as a long-time user, New Zealand.

I do, however, have some frustration with the new owners in a couple of areas.

Firstly, I am shocked at the way this was communicated. I heard about it via a friend who updated their app and got the information when they opened their app after the update. There was no email communication.

Then, I updated my app towards the end of last week. In the update notes, it just had the old usual, you know, changes and bug fixes, you know, the usual stuff. But there was nothing there to indicate a major change like this in the app until I opened it. And sure enough, there is the information on screen in the app that you cannot dismiss or get rid of until you action. And to me, that is no way to treat customers.

The fact that in your interview, when you said to him about perhaps having better means of communication, whether it be via social media, a mailing list, anything, he said, “Oh yes, that’s a good idea. If you think that’s a good idea, email us.”

Sorry. If you’re in business and you’re promoting a product, and you want your customers to give you feedback on that product, you should have had a communication strategy in place from day 1, thank you. It is unacceptable that now, we’re being asked oh, if you think it’s a good idea to have some form of way of communicating, please let us know. No, sorry. You’re the owner of the product. You sort it out and communicate with the users. There are ways to do it. But we shouldn’t have to be the ones making the suggestion. This is basic business 101. Come on!

Also, when the interview, ? when he talked about emailing through the app if you have issues because there is a lot of technical information at the bottom of the automated email that goes to them, that’s not even accurate. I’ll give you an example, Jonathan, of what I’m talking about.

I have been emailing Voice Dream, right from way back when Winston owned it, about a problem that still exists within the app.

Within the voices, there is a voice called Bridget. In the old days, you had to purchase it, but you could also hear a sample of these voices before you purchased. Now you don’t have to purchase it, but there’s still the option to hear a sample of the voice.

The sample for the Bridget voice does not work. It errors out.

I have uninstalled, reinstalled the app, done all the basic technical things that you do with apps when something isn’t working. And I have notified them of this several times, and just got a curt thank you, and that’s it. No follow-up, nothing.

One time, I got oh, here’s a link to hear it. That’s not acceptable. It should be working within the app. And I wouldn’t imagine that it would be too much of a hardship to actually try and get it to work. Because who the heck is going to download and install something that you don’t know is going to work or not because you can’t even hear the sample?

Now, when I email them through the app with the technical information at the bottom, and the latest was last week, have the following information in brief: the latest iOS version, the app version of Voice Dream Reader that you’re using, and then what model of iPhone I’ve got. Now, I have an iPhone 11. So why is it that this information is telling them that I have an iPhone 12? How the heck does that work? That’s not accurate. And last I checked, all the settings and everything is correct in my phone. It’s not identifying as a 12 anywhere else. It’s only identifying as a 12 in Voice Dream Reader.

So yeah, I’m not impressed in the way that this has been communicated to people. There are still some people who don’t know. It’s really not a good look.

I feel very sad as a long-time user of the app, and that a promise that we were made last year is no longer. But I’m also sad that the subscription fee is so high that I’m going to have to be giving up the app because I just cannot justify it when I struggle myself to even get the finances together to get a more up-to-date phone.

Jonathan: Thanks, Carolyn!

That struggle is absolutely real for many people, and I know that there are those who value Voice Dream Reader who simply can’t see a way forward in terms of how they’re going to pay for this subscription. For some, Voice Dream Reader just isn’t valuable enough. For others, it’s valuable enough, but they genuinely don’t have the money to commit to another subscription.

Caller: Hey, Jonathan! It’s Dennis Long.

The more I think about this, while I think the price point is a little high, ? Some people argue it’s illegal, and I don’t think that’s the case because apps change their mind all the time to subscription. I mean, the two that come to mind are Fantastical and Ulysses, and they changed.

The only thing that might get them is they’re not allowing you to add any new content. They’re taking away functionality that you did originally pay for. I could see saying okay, we’ll let you add new content for supported formats already. But when we add Kindle, you don’t get that support. When we make bug fixes, you don’t get that support.

Again, I don’t agree with the way the Voice Dream team handled it. They did a terrible job. There’s no getting around that. There’s no escaping it. When you let the community control the narrative, you got problems. And they didn’t get out in front of it. And they just didn’t fly that through a good job. There’s no way to even try to get around it.

Going forward, they’ve got to do a better job of communication.

And I don’t think they have room for error as far as, You know, example only, say, Kindle’s delayed till 2025. I don’t think they have room for error there. So they’ve got to hit on everything they promised.

That being said, I’m not against giving them a few months or possibly even a year to prove themselves, but they’re going to have to earn back the trust of the community. And I guess the big question is, are they going to be able to do that, or have they sunk themselves with what they did? That’s the big question.

Voice message: Good day to everybody. My name is Shane Popplestone, and I live in Ohio, in the USA, of course.

I have been a Living Blindfully plus subscriber since Living Blindfully plus was launched. I’ve been a long-time listener for years, but this is my first actual comment for this podcast.

In episode 275, you interviewed Applause Group, now the makers of Voice Dream Reader. And well, I really appreciate the interview, and I sincerely appreciate them coming on the podcast and doing the interview.

I feel that while yes, $60 is not a bad price to be charging for a subscription, if memory serves, disabling already available features is a violation of the App Store agreement or app review guidelines. It’s a violation of the app review guidelines. And how this got past Apple, I’m not sure. But it is a violation.

And in my opinion, I, in good faith, because they are in violation of the app review guidelines that they agreed to upon submitting an app to the App Store, I can’t support them.

To be honest with you, I wasn’t going to subscribe myself anyway because I don’t remember when the last time I used Voice Dream Reader was. But now that I’ve found this, even if I’d been thinking about supporting them, I can’t, in good faith, support them.

So I think honestly, if there is a way, I do think people should start reporting to Apple that Applause Group was in the violation of the app review guidelines. And this needs to be corrected because if Applause Group can get away with it, who else is going to get away with it?

Jonathan: Thank you for making your first submission to the podcast, Shane. Thank you also for being one of our inaugural Living Blindfully plus subscribers. I never take any of that for granted. People have a lot of choice in terms of what they might spend their cash on, so I really appreciate it a lot. We’re now at the first anniversary of Living Blindfully, and I’m just overwhelmed and really humbled by how many people have chosen to support this work.

I’ve got quite a bit to say on this subject. So if you’re not interested in the whole Voice Dream Reader thing, remember that you can skip by chapter if you’re listening in a podcast app that supports chapters. And also, if you’re reading the transcript, we divide everything by heading. So feel free to zap on to the next section if Voice Dream Reader is not of interest to you.

I have seen this sort of discussion go down before in the wider community, and it’s always highly emotive. People have very strong views on this on either side.

Some people think that any company that moves to a subscription model is just evil incarnate, exploiting people. It’s absolutely unforgivable.

And other people will respond just as strongly. “You have no idea how a business is run.”, “You’re not living in the real world.”, “Apps don’t write themselves.” On and on it goes.

And inevitably, the keyboard warrior thing kicks in. Somebody’s safely behind their keyboard, righteously typing away, and things can get very personal on either side.

“You’re a whiner.”

“You’re an elitist.”

“You’re entitled.”

“You’re a shill.”

“If you don’t like it, just don’t pay for it.”

“But I need it.”

“Then, give up a coffee.”

“What coffee? I can’t even pay the rent.”

So much of my time before episode 275 was spent trying to track Applause Group down and find a spokesperson. It took a wee while. And I’m glad that we were able to secure that interview so that you could hear somebody from Applause Group, in their own words, with their own voice.

Having had a week now to do a bit more research, I want to come at this from a slightly different angle. And maybe, we might be able to find a bit of consensus on this subject. You never know.

There are 2 issues, broadly speaking, that I want to separate at this point. The first is whether what Applause Group is charging represents value for money or not, and is it an appropriate subscription point to set given the demographics of one of the customer groups that it’s trying to cater to?

But the one I want to concentrate on relates to this question that I asked Kishin in the last episode. I’ll play you the question and his answer, and then talk about this some more.

[start of episode 275 flashback]

Jonathan: Some people are expressing the view that in disabling functionality and features that they paid for in good faith unless they pay again, there’s been, at best, a breach of trust and at worst, a breach of contract. They feel that a new business model may be necessary, but they paid in good faith for functionality you’re now choosing to switch off. What are your thoughts about that?

Kishin: Absolutely. This is an important concern for us to address here. We want to restore that trust that users have in Voice Dream, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to discuss this here on your podcast, Jonathan.

Our long-term goal is to strike a balance between delivering value to our users and ensuring that Voice Dream is sustainable. And I think, we needed to make this decision to ensure that Voice Dream can be a viable product for longer.

We’re constantly evaluating our policies and how they align with our users expectations. And given that our costs have increased, this was ultimately a choice that we had to make.

Jonathan: Right. Let me push back on that a little bit because it seems to me that if you’re confident that you’re going to be adding a lot of great new features (and will come to those new features that you’re promising), shouldn’t that be enough to incentivize people to pay for the subscription if you could find a way to grandfather in the existing functionality?

I mean, after the 1st of May, somebody who paid in good faith (and they may have bought quite a few voices through in-app purchases as well. So it’s not just the base cost of the app. It’s also the cost of all those voices that they may have bought over the years.), they won’t be able to add content to their library anymore. They’ve effectively had their app disabled.

Kishin: Yeah. You know, I think in terms of whether essentially new users can keep the business sustainable, ? There are ongoing costs to every single user of the app ? whether that’s support, engineering, the software tools we use, there are ongoing costs to each individual user. And we just didn’t find it to be fair for new users to essentially be subsidizing the existing user base. So we thought that this would kind of deliver the most value both to existing users and to new users. So that was kind of the thinking there.

[End of episode 275 flashback]

So that’s a flashback to episode 275. It was important that I played that for context, based on what I want to talk about next.

Applause Group has clearly formed a view on what’s in the best interests of their business, in terms of how to treat existing customers.

One might argue how to mistreat existing customers. There is some argument to be made that depending on where you live, consumer law may have a different view on the subject because you paid for a set of features, and they’re being taken away.

The question is not that you paid for an app, and now they want to develop it further. Anybody can charge an upgrade fee or change the model. But is it right for an app developer to take away something that you purchased in good faith? I asked that question in episode 275. And despite me circling back to it, I don’t believe that question was particularly well addressed.

For those who feel strongly about this issue, you could become familiar with consumer law in your country or your jurisdiction. And it’s always a good idea, actually, to become familiar with consumer law because you never know what might happen.

However, people who feel strongly about the fact that existing functionality is actually being removed after they paid in good faith for it may have another ally to turn to, and it is Apple itself. I want to quote for you from Apple’s app review guidelines. What I’m reading now is actually written by Apple itself. Here we go.

“If you are changing your existing app to a subscription-based business model, you should not take away the primary functionality existing users have already paid for. For example, let customers who have already purchased a”full game unlock” continue to access the full game after you introduce a subscription model for new customers.”

This seems very clear to me. If you’re reviewing this with a kind of a lawyerly lens or a legislative lens, you might notice that Apple uses the term should instead of shall. But I don’t think that makes a difference. It is a fairly informally-written document. It’s not colloquial, but it’s fairly informally written. It’s trying to be a conversation, I think, between the developers and Apple in plain language.

But I think Apple’s intention here is abundantly clear. If you, as a developer have sold something to someone, and then you subsequently decide, “Actually, I’m not making enough money here. I need to change my business model.”, you cannot effectively blackmail somebody to pay more money to continue to receive what they already paid for.

And this comes back to what I said in my interview that there are people who believe that this is at best, an act of bad faith and at worst, a breach of contract, and it would appear to be the latter. Based on what Apple is saying, it’s actually a breach of the contract, not just with the people who’ve bought this thing, but a violation of the terms under which Applause is allowed to have apps in the App Store. So this is a significant potential breach that we’re talking about here.

So I spent some time refreshing my memory about how apps who have done this move in the past handled this issue. Is Voice Dream Reader an exception in terms of the way that they are actually not exclusively trying to win you over based on the future by saying, “Buy this subscription because wow, will you miss out on great things if you don’t.”, but essentially saying to you, “Unless you pay us more money, we’re taking away what you already paid for.”? And it does seem that, at least in my experience with apps that I’ve seen move to this model before, Voice Dream Reader is an outlier. It is an anomaly.

Let’s take a look at what happened in 2017, when Ulysses moved to a paid subscription model.

Last week, I talked about how important it is to control the narrative, to be upfront, to try and explain why you’re doing what you’re doing. And Ulysses was exemplary in this regard.

Did it exempt them from a firestorm? Heck, no. There was a lot of discussion about this, and there were very angry people.

But in their blog post on this, when they announced a move to a subscription model, they made 3 clear points, and they numbered them, and they tried to talk people through the benefits, as they perceived them to be, of this switch. But I want to focus on point 3, because it’s relevant to this discussion about whether Voice Dream Reader is in breach of Apple’s guidelines.

“Number 3”, say Ulysses. “Okay. But what happens with the current, now old, versions of Ulysses?”

And here is their answer:

“The previous single purchase versions of Ulysses have both been removed from sale.”

Okay, fair enough.

“They remain fully functional, of course, and we have even updated both versions for High Sierra and iOS 11, respectively. So if you decide to keep using the old Ulysses, you should not encounter any problem.

New features, however, will only be added to the subscription version in the future.”

So ends that part of the Ulysses blog, and that is 100% consistent with Apple’s app review guidelines.

So that little bit that I read to you came from the Ulysses blog, but there’s also a fascinating and very detailed post on Medium which would take me a long time to read, but I encourage you to Google for this if you’re interested. It talks in great detail about the process that Ulysses went through, evaluating a range of options and why they dismissed the other ones. And those options included coming out with, say, an annual new app that you had to update to, in-app purchases as an alternative, before they finally decided that subscriptions were the only viable model. And they knew that people weren’t necessarily all going to like it, but they wanted their customers to know that they’d really agonized over this, and given it a lot of thought. It was excellent communication.

If you want to know more about Ulysses, We’ve covered it on various episodes of Living Blindfully over the years. It is a great app.

Now, let’s turn to another app that we’ve also covered in the past (back in episode 173 and elsewhere), and that’s Fantastical, a highly popular calendar app, produced by a company called Flexibits.

What used to happen is that you would buy Fantastical, and they’d come out with updates pretty regularly.

And then in 2020, they announced that they were moving to a subscription model. They touted a lot of the same benefits that Ulysses (and now, Voice Dream Reader) are doing about a uniform subscription to cover the app on all platforms, and that’s a model that seems to have become quite common.

They offered a free tier, which still works with basic functionality. But they moved some of the things out of the old Fantastical 2 app to be premium features that you had to subscribe to get.

But existing customers who’d already purchased the app not only kept all their features, including those features that had then been moved on to the premium tier of their subscription, they also got a few new features to say thank you for being regular customers, and they could continue to use the app.

Very similar behavior to Ulysses, very different from the way Applause Group is handling Voice Dream Reader. Both Ulysses and Fantastical are behaving in a way that is totally consistent with Apple’s app review guidelines.

I’ll make one final comment on this, and it relates to a comment that Carolyn made earlier in this episode.

One thing that some customers have apparently been told by Applause Group when they’ve written in to complain about the fact that they paid for features that have now been taken away from them is, “Well, if this is a problem for you, just don’t update the app.”

But as Carolyn rightly pointed out and as I mentioned to Kishin back in episode 275, since Voice Dream Reader left Winston’s hands, the quality of the update information when you go and have a look at what’s new in an app when it gets updated has become notoriously bad. There are a bunch of apps and it annoys me to no end when you want to know what has changed in the app that I paid for, and you just get some nebulous text like bug fixes and performance improvements, and in no way is Voice Dream Reader alone in this regard. There are lots of apps that are doing this now, and it’s frustrating.

And there could be a number of reasons why this is happening. It could be that they just want to get the app update out the door. It could be that they decide that now that automatic updates are a thing, most people just switch automatic updates on and never have a look at these release notes anymore. It’s also true that if you get a really complex app like Uber, what’s new will vary depending on where you are and at different times because these larger app developers can roll out different feature updates to you depending on their own schedule. or it’s quite mysterious, really. As we’ve discussed on this podcast before, something can happen to my Uber app and it might not necessarily happen to yours, or vice versa. I think Meta and Google do similar magic behind the scenes.

So I suppose that the release notes can’t be as descriptive as they used to be in those circumstances. But I don’t think Voice Dream Reader is one of those circumstances.

But I think because the release notes are so vague, that’s how this has got under Apple’s radar. Since the release notes didn’t say, “We’re now introducing the technology that means that existing users are going to have to pay again to keep what they got before starting May the 1st.”, Apple’s reviewers probably missed it.

Do you know how many apps get reviewed every day by Apple before they go live in the store? I actually didn’t know the latest figure. Apparently, it is around about a thousand. That’s a lot of apps. Some of them will be new, and I imagine they get particular scrutiny. Others will be updates.

And when you get an update to an app that’s been around for so long (and let’s not forget that this has also won Apple Design Awards in the past. It’s been featured in the past on Global Accessibility Awareness Day.), they probably kind of nod and say, “Yeah, here’s an old friend here”, and didn’t look too closely at what was going on.

This is a very quickly moving story. I wrote a blog post on this subject, and it largely covers what I’ve just been talking about so you probably don’t want to read it again. But if you do, If you want to share it on your social networks, you can go to That’s It’s all joined together. And that blog post contained a call to action, but I’m not going to repeat that call to action here because, as I say, things are moving pretty quickly with Voice Dream Reader.

Before I wrote that blog post, I did email my concerns to Applause Group. And then, I put the blog post out.

And then, I got an approach from Applause Group, and they said “Would you mind joining us on a meeting and having a chat about this?”, and I was very happy to do that. It was a very constructive meeting, and I’m feeling optimistic.

It’ll be up to Applause Group to make announcements in due time about what they intend to do. But at this stage, at the time that I’m recording this podcast, I am confident that they will respond to the feedback that they’ve received in a manner that many in our community will consider reasonable. They’re working through the final points of that response.

Now, I think it’s fair to say that they are mindful of communicating what they want to do very clearly so that there’s not any more anxiety caused to our community. So I think it’s fair and reasonable that as a company, they take the time to dot the I’s, cross the T’s, and come up with a very clear response to the concerns that many have been expressing.

I acknowledge that I’m in a fortunate position, in that I’ve spent more time, virtual time anyway, with Applause Group having a talk to them than most others in our community. And I don’t think I’m stealing their thunder in terms of any announcement that they may choose to make in the next little while when I say that they are learning about the blind community with considerable interest and empathy. They appreciate what this app means to many of us. And hopefully, we will get to a position where most reasonable people in the community will be happy with what they want to do.

At the time I record this, no announcement has been made. No change of policy has been communicated, so there’s still a chance that we won’t be satisfied. I am more optimistic than not that we will be.


Voiceover: Mastodon is the social network where the Living Blindfully community is most active. Join us there for conversation about the most recent episode, and items of news to help you live your best life with blindness or low vision.

All you have to do from any Mastodon instance is follow That?s

Intersectionality, the BT Speak, Customer Service, and Swimming

Voice message: Hi, Jonathan! This is George from Colorado. I wanted to comment on a couple of different topics that you have spoken about over the last couple of episodes.

First, being the blindness organizations and intersectionality with the latest brouhaha with ACB. I really think that for a consumer organization, the important thing is to stay focused on its primary task. And for blindness consumer organizations, that is the blindness factor.

I think for individual members and those who have additional concerns, they can certainly pursue those outside of the context of the organization officially, like ACB does with its affiliates. I think that’s a great opportunity for those needs to be met without getting off track of the primary focus of those organizations, which in my mind should be the blindness work.

And then, regarding your most recent interview with Deane Blazie, I really enjoyed your reflections upon old tech and the progress of his career. And it’s thrilling to me that he is still participating in the field. Devices he’s working on sound very interesting.

I was a little disappointed about the price point, in that I see the point that he’s making regarding the usefulness, potentially, of notetaker-like devices. And that’s great.

But you know, I can purchase a Mantis Q40 for 2500 bucks and pair that with a relatively inexpensive laptop or iPad, and have the sort of connectivity that he’s speaking about in a single device without Braille for, you know, $700, a thousand dollars. And that’s a pretty big lift.

I think that if he were speaking about a $100 to $200 price point, that’s something that most of us would be able to go okay, hey, it’s worth having this and that other functionality available, but perhaps not as doable for those who might use it for $700 to 1,000. It just seems like a lot to me.

And then regarding customer service, I’ve had the opportunity to work in a couple of different customer service positions including for the Internal Revenue Service as the collections representative, as well as for a health company. And no one was calling the IRS because they were thrilled about having their money taken out of their bank account. And so I had a lot of those very difficult conversations, very complex calls.

And I’d say for those who are looking to get into the field, you just have to take it one call at a time and recognize that the software that you’re dealing with is likely to be proprietary, and so you’ll have to learn lots of workarounds to make it work.

When you’re on the call with the individual, you might be initially nervous about meeting their needs. But the thing to keep in mind is the joys about being on the phone is you have anonymity, so they don’t know you’re blind if you don’t tell them. And so long as you maintain a professional demeanor, you’ll eventually be able to get a feel for the flow of the call and be able to meet the needs of the customer on the terms of equality with your sighted peers, or at least that has been my experience for the majority of my work.

So I definitely think customer service is a laudable field and if individuals are interested in pursuing that, they certainly can. It’s just going to be a matter of being patient and realizing that you’re going to be on the phone all day, every day.

And so unfortunately, now after my prior customer service experience with being on the phone as much as I was, it takes a lot to get me on the phone. [laughs] So if I am talking to you for more than 5 minutes on the phone, you know that you are a huge priority for me, personally speaking. Because I just don’t like being on the phone now, due to my prior experiences of being on the phone all day every day for a good chunk of time. So I went into an alternative field, in part to get away from the phones, even though the work I was doing was good.

It was definitely a job. They’re not just paying you for your witty repartee, you’re actually doing them a service. And that can be tedious, but I think with the low amount of job opportunities that seem to be available for a lot of blind and low vision people, it’s a great career path to consider.

So I just wanted to share these thoughts and offer forth my thanks to you for another great job on the podcast. Keep it coming. Happy to continue my support of Living Blindfully and keep up the great work. Thanks very much.

Oh, and a quick PS regarding the swimming. I have yet to find a good item to help me with swimming in a straight line. I tend to ping pong around the lane as though I were in that old pong game from back in the day.

My best workaround has been to work with someone, a swimming coach, who can usually call out when I’m reaching the wall, and that’s been my best workaround.

I have participated in a sprint triathlon before. And when I was swimming with my guide, we both had a device. It was a rubber tubing that wrapped around our waist with a tube in between us to keep us together with about, oh, I guess maybe a foot or 2 feet between us, maybe, and that gave us enough time to, or enough room to be able to navigate successfully.

Tempo Perfect, an Accessible Metronome App

Jonathan: When David Bowie started recording, the initial idea that his manager had was that David Bowie could be a comedian and do all sorts of novelty songs, and he had a mild hit with a very funny song, actually, called The Laughing Gnome. And actually, I think David Bowie was a little bit embarrassed by The Laughing Gnome once he became a big glam rock star and reinvented himself several times.

But there’s this great line in The Laughing Gnome. He meets up with this gnome who’s got a brother called Fred. And David Bowie says, “What’s that clicking noise?”

And the gnome says, “Oh, that’s Fred. He’s a metronome.” And it’s full of bad puns like that.

I tell you all this because we are about to talk metronomes, thanks to Carrie Francis who says:

“Hello, Jonathan,

Hope you are doing well.”

Mate, I am super well. I hope you are as well.

“I have been looking for an accessible metronome app”, she says, “for quite some time, and I recently stumbled onto Tempo Perfect. This app has helped me immensely.

I’m preparing to take my practical and theory exams from the Royal Conservatory of Music, and there is a piece that has been troubling me for a while.”

I’m not going to attempt to pronounce this because then, I’ll have to spell the whole thing out for transcription purposes. [laughs] But believe me, I’m sure it’s lovely.

She says:

“I have never been able to play it in its correct tempo until I got Tempo Perfect. In my teacher’s words, the fact that I am finally able to play it at a good tempo with all the 16th notes under control is,”huge, fantastic, very exciting.

This app was developed by NCH Software, and I would really like to know how it came about. I tried to contact them, but I could not find a link which would allow me to do this.

Would it be possible for you to conduct an interview with them so I could learn more about Tempo Perfect and its evolution?”

Well, it’s probably a little bit niche, Carrie, but I will add it to my list of potential ideas. I’ve got this whole project in Todoist full of Living Blindfully ideas.

But in the meantime, I know about NCH software because they do some audio software as well, including something that I use regularly called Switch Sound File Converter. Very handy wee utility, that. And you can get to their website by going to nch (that’s November Charlie hotel), and you can contact them there. Maybe see if you can connect with the developer and get the backstory.

Good luck with your exams, Carrie! It takes me way back to when I was a wee boy and I got all the way up to grade 8 in the Royal Schools of Music on the piano.

Contacting TSA Cares

Caller: Good morning, Jonathan and listeners. This is Petra, and I wanted to call in because in the United States, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has a program called TSA Cares, and they have a phone number for blind or disabled people to call for extra help. The number is 855-787-2227, and they’ll ask for information about your flights and your origin, that kind of thing.

The service I have received from them, both when I traveled with my guide dog and when I’ve traveled by myself, has been excellent ? often meeting me at the curb and walking me all the way to the gate, and making sure that the gate agent knows that I’m there. So I thought I would pass that on in case people hadn’t heard of it before.

Their service has been excellent. They also help people with wheelchairs and whatnot as well as for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Hope everyone has a wonderful day. I’ll be listening to both your programs. Talk to you soon. Bye-bye.

Jonathan: Thank you very much for that, Petra. I might try that next time I’m in the United States.

And if others have tried the TSA Care service, how has it worked out for you?

Transcriptions in Apple Podcasts

To Colombia we go. Luis Peerna is impressed with the podcast transcription feature in Apple Podcasts. He says:

“I was playing with the podcast transcription feature in iOS 17.4. The quality of the transcription in Spanish is pretty impressive. Obviously, it has some errors, but they are very few.

By the way, I don’t dislike the Apple Podcast app as you do. Perhaps the greatest strength is the fact that it works very similar to the Apple Music app.

The only thing I don’t like about it is the first tab, in which they show podcasts that are not relevant to me. I wish this could be customized. But in my case, there were certainly local podcasts that were not available in Castro, and therefore I stopped using it.

Pocketcast is my default podcast app, but it has an accessibility feature that I dislike. The slider to advance or go backwards is not accessible.

I would like to have an option that would allow me to export the transcription text so I could edit it. There is no such option in the Apple Podcast client. Is there a means to accomplish this task using a third-party app?”

You can do it the other way, Luis. You can’t edit Apple’s transcripts, but you can replace it, and there is some documentation online about how to do this. So if you want to employ a human transcriber, then you can make Apple Podcasts use that transcription rather than their machine-generated one. There are also services like Auphonic and Pinecast that would allow you to generate machine-generated transcripts using Whisper, and you could then edit those and then replace the transcript with those. I don’t have the steps off the top of my head, but as I say, documentation is available about how you can replace the transcript that Apple is doing with something that you’ve done.


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Why VoiceOver Switches Languages in the Status Bar in iOS 17.4

Voice message: Hello, Jonathan and all Living Blindfully listeners. This is Marco from Germany. I am responding to the iOS 17.4 piece from episode, I believe it was 268 and the fact that you said that your voice switches back to Daniel when you touch the status bar in an app like Safari, for example, when you have switched the language rotor to another voice, for example, US English eloquence.

That is due to the fact that in true multilingual environments like mine where ? I’m German by default, but often switch to a particular English voice if I read articles. So for example, on a website that has the language specifically set to English US but I’m not very satisfied with all of the American English voices, because I’m very picky about those, I often switch to a dedicated UK English voice. Now, all the rest of the UI would then normally or previously also speak in that voice so even the German status bar, German Safari, UI, etc would speak in English.

Now, Apple have made a change here that even though I switched the reading voice for the website to English, would still allow certain pieces of the UI to speak in the native German, as you heard right now.

For example, right now, I’m on the Freedom Scientific page and set to the default language.

VoiceOver: JAWS 2024 features, heading level 2.

Marco: As you can hear, this is Alex, the American English voice. But I normally prefer to read all my English texts with the UK English Siri 2 voice. So I’ll flick down in the language rotor.

VoiceOver: English UK.

Marco: And now, I would read?

VoiceOver: Face in View, heading level Level 3.

Video calls have become a standard form of communication in the workplace, in schools, and in personal relationships. Before joining a video call, you want to make sure your?

Marco: Etc., Etc.

Now, the UI in Safari does not yet switch. So what happens if I touch the toolbar at the bottom which is Symbolleiste in German, and the back button is the Zurck Taste in German? What happens is this.

VoiceOver: Symbolleiste. Zurck, button.

Marco: Symbolleiste. Zurck, button. Okay, the button is translated so that it’s spoken in English. And then, the tutor message that says double tap and hold to open the history, that is then also spoken with the English voice.

Now if I touch the status bar, however, due to this change in iOS 17.4, that is spoken in German.

VoiceOver: Dynamic island. Lire. Options available.

[German VoiceOver]

Marco: Do not disturb.

[German VoiceOver]

Marco: You know, the mobile signal.

[German VoiceOver]

Marco: The Wi-Fi.

[German VoiceOver]

Marco: And this 87%, you know, battery charge. Interestingly, the percent is actually spoken in English, even though it should be spoken in German.

If I flick back up, ?

VoiceOver: Video calls have become a?

[German VoiceOver]

Marco: [laughs] it speaks it in german. It says prozent instead of percent.

So it’s not fully thought through yet, but Apple is obviously taking some steps to make the multilingual experience more consistent here.

I can say from personal experience from working on the JAWS localization (back in the days when JAWS was first translated to other languages than English) that getting this right is really hard. Like, you have to take into account the document language, the UI language, and within those things, also the available synthesizer voices. And what do you do with punctuation? Like, do you say them in the language the document is in, or in the language the speech is in by default because you want to give a very consistent operating system language experience? Etc., etc. So all these choices, all these different ways of trying to do things are hard to get right, the more complex the UI and the screen readers in question, etc. get.

So Apple are trying to be more consistent here by being so forthcoming and marking up the status bar as German or system default, I should say. And even though you have set a different language for reading right now, it switches back to that because it’s out of the document and even out of Safari. Like, the status bar is part of the system, and not part of the app.

So what happens with you, Jonathan, is that because you have Daniel set as your default for your main system language, which is the item above all the language rotor thingies in the VoiceOver speech settings, you get Daniel whenever you touch the status bar. But the other voice you switch to via the language rotor, inside the web content, and inside Safari.

So while you are perceiving this as a bug, I as a multilingual user actually perceive this as a welcome change in order to make the UI more consistent and try to speak things that are in German actually in German, and not in the language the voice is currently set to for reading a document, because it often sounds terrible trying to speak German with an English voice. I can’t stand English spoken by a German voice, more probably because I’m more used to it, and because so many people don’t mark up their English language properly but trying to decipher German spoken with an English voice is hard. It is less hard with a UK voice, probably because of the more European closeness. But with American voices, it’s really really hard. And if you have voices that even have accents like some of the Siri voices have, it gets almost impossible to actually get what the voice is saying when it tries to speak German.

Jonathan: Thanks, Marco.

I completely understand the use case that you’re outlining, and it’s great that Apple is seeking to accommodate that. And hopefully, they’ll continue to refine it.

But there’s a difference between switching languages which is what’s happening here, and going back to the status bar of the UI that you’ve set.

So your UI language is German, and your default VoiceOver language is German. So I completely understand that when you go to the status bar, even if you’ve chosen a particular voice in an application, you should get German, and that’s progress.

There’s a difference between that use case and arbitrarily changing your dialect of the same language. It’s a completely different thing.

So when I go to the status bar, I’m still getting English. I’m just getting a different dialect of English from the one that I have chosen to hear. I don’t think that’s a good outcome, and I’m not sure if it’s an intended outcome, so I still think it’s probably a bug.

iOS does differentiate between language variants and completely new languages. So when you choose English as your language, you then get the variants. You have English UK, English US, English Australia, English India, English Ireland, English South Africa. I think those are all of them actually, [laughs] just off the top of my head.

There’s also a button to add a new language. So if you have a language that’s your default, and then you add a completely new language, not a variant but a different language, I completely understand the logic of what’s going on.

But if you had a different dialect, ?This is a bug as far as I’m concerned. It’s undesirable behavior. And I have no doubt that Apple will get a lot of feedback about this.

The second thing I’d say is that I do wish Apple would come out with a document, maybe in the UI of VoiceOver every time an update comes out that says what’s new in VoiceOver. You double tap that, and you’d be able to get all the info on what has been added, or changed, or fixed in VoiceOver.

I used to write a series that sold like hotcakes called iOS Without the Eye. And one of the reasons why it sold so well was it was essentially doing Apple’s job for it.

I’d fossick around the operating system, find what I could with quite a bit of help from others as well, and write it all up. So that on iOS release day, people could get this document, take a look and experiment with the new features if they weren’t particularly inclined to go rummaging around the operating system for themselves.

So at the time, I was glad that Apple didn’t do what I consider is its job. I mean, the features are one part. Documenting those features is another essential part. Good documentation is, in my view, critical, particularly when you’re adding a layer on top of an operating system like a screen reader.

So I hope they do fine-tune this. It’s a really good thing for those who are multilingual. For those who just use different variants of the same language, I think it needs a bit of refinement.

Comments on the Deane Blazie Interview

Caller: Hey, Jonathan! This is Reni Jackson, Louisville Kentucky.

Just wanted to tell you how great that interview was with Deane, and reminiscing about Tim Cranmer, Fred Gissoni. I knew those gentlemen personally. I bode with Fred. His wife taught me vending, which I’m still into today. And it was a great great podcast to reminisce and listen to everything that they did for the blind.

Keep up the great work. Thank you. Bye-bye!

Jonathan: Thank you so much for the positive feedback. Really appreciate that, and I’m so glad that you enjoyed it.

Mike May says:

“I have stayed in touch with Deane Blazie over the years, including skiing together a few times, something he is still doing.

I love the oral history you have now with your in-depth interview.

Most people don’t know that my very first GPS attempt was on the Braille ’n Speak in 2000. A guy named Bill Auerbach” (that’s A-U-E-R-B-A-C-H) “programmed it. It didn’t have the horsepower, but it did have some basic functionality.

I met with Dick Chandler when I was forming Sendero about working with Freedom. They ended up creating the PAC Mate StreetTalk.

Most people thought of Mike May on his soapbox. ‘Who needs GPS? We get around fine already.’ It took the Humanware Trek and other products to give legitimacy to what I was trying to do.

I still use the BrailleNote PK because of the form factor, and it runs Sendero GPS. Nothing comparable has come along yet.

I am interested to see how the BT Speak does. I saw it at NFB last July, and the form factor is pretty sweet.

I was customer number 12 of Raised Dot Computing. The Apple IIe, BrailleEdit, and the VersaBraille were so key to my early professional career.

I have been advising Seleste since their inception. Since we can get all of their functions for free on apps, I believe they need to have Be My Eyes and Aira to take full advantage of a hands-free device.

There are a number of camera glasses coming on the market. The trick is getting them to run third-party apps.

I am presenting at CSUN on hands-free devices along with Envision.

I am hopeful Meta will open up the Ray-Ban glasses to third-parties.

I just saw the RayNeo” (that’s R-A-Y-N-E-O) “VR glasses can run third-party apps. I know Peter Major with the VOICE is testing his app on them.

I am equally enamored with the early tech of the 70s and 80s you have been talking about, as I am with all these new devices.”

Thank you, Mike!

I’m glad you like the BrailleNote PK. I product-managed that.

We did a deal with Baum, and they gave us the Baum Pronto when I was working at Humanware, when it was still called Pulse Data International at the time. We put Keysoft on the Baum Pronto. And as part of that deal, Baum sold Humanware or Pulse Data International low vision products in their markets, so it was a win-win deal for everybody. But I agree, that BrailleNote PK was sweet.

Christopher Wright says:

“Hi, Jonathan,

I like the BT Speak and OpenLinux environment concept, but I’m not purchasing it. The hardware isn’t worth the asking price.

I have a Raspberry Pi 4, and the performance with a desktop environment isn’t great. It’s okay, but a laptop or desktop computer from the last 10+ years with an SSD blows it out of the water. I suppose the experience might be okay if you stick to the Blazie software, rather than using the full graphical environment.

I’ve never used the Braille ’n Speak, but my understanding is that it’s more about writing documents and managing appointments in a calendar. Is this correct?

I think you should have waited for the Pi 5 hardware, which is significantly better. The storage and RAM are also very low for the price and times. We should have at least 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage in 2024.

Having said that, I hope those who purchase the unit enjoy it.”

Yes. In terms of the functionality of the BT Speak, I think it’s fair to say that taking notes, writing documents, you can do a bit of formatting, are the key tasks of the device. You can also read books and make appointments. There’s a calculator in there, I think a stopwatch as well, a few other features, too. But I think primarily, it is the quick document creation that people liked about the Braille ’n Speak, and may well like again in this new BT Speak.

Now, we’ve got an email from Drew Weber.

Yeah, that’s not a very good Drew Weber impersonation. But anyway, Drew Weber, the real thing, is actually writing in and he says:

“I pre-ordered the BT Speak from Blazie Tech after hearing Deane on your podcast a few weeks back.

I’ve recently received the unit, and it is really awesome. It truly is a new and improved Braille ’n Speak. If you were a fan of the old 1980s and 1990s B&S, you will no doubt be a fan also of the all-new BT Speak.”

I can just hear Drew saying the all-new BT Speak.

“I don’t believe there are a lot of audio demos out as of this time”, says Drew, “so I am creating some, and they are out at my website” (That’s

Thanks for doing that, Drew. Glad you’re enjoying your BT Speak.

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Dictation in iOS 17.4

Caller: Hello, Jonathan and Living Blindfully subscribers! This is Jane Carona from Silver Spring, Maryland.

I’m in the middle of episode 269 (Hello to Everyone in Kalamazoo!), and someone mentioned something that is infuriating to me. It really is.

The problem where if you’re dictating a message on an iPhone running 17 anything iOS and it’ll read back part of the message, but then it won’t read the whole message so you can confirm that you’ve dictated it correctly. And then you turn the VoiceOver off with a 3-finger double tap and VoiceOver says, you know, speech off, speech on, speech off, speech off.

And you finally, maybe after fiddling around, maybe you can get to read the entire message, sometimes not. It’s been a problem for a while now. And I hate that because I do a lot of dictating of my messages.

Of course then, I have to, a lot of times, do another message to correct something that Siri said. You know, “I did not mean one thing. I meant something else.”

But I do a lot of dictation, and it has been a problem for quite a while, and no one else has mentioned it, so I thought it was just me. But I was very happy to hear that someone else is having the same problem I am. [laughs]

But I wish Apple would fix that. Yes, it’s a definite bug.

Jonathan: Gene Richburg says:

“Hi, Jonathan,

I don’t know if anyone’s been able to answer this yet. But what I think is happening is that Siri now listens to you, even while it’s reading a message.

I found this out because I might need to clear my throat or tap my phone, and Siri will stop talking. Very annoying.

Sometimes, I would decide I knew I wanted to change the message I’m sending before Siri has a chance to totally read it through, so I’ll say, ‘change message’ while it’s reading. But instead of doing that, it tries to define the meaning of a message. So unfortunately, if you want to do anything with the message, I think you have to let Siri read it completely through, and then wait for it to ask you what you want to do. I don’t know if this has been fixed since 17.4 or not, as I haven’t had to use Siri to that extent yet since I updated.

Now, something interesting is that you can edit messages again before Siri sends them. However, if you’re a speech user, it gets a little tricky trying to listen to VoiceOver and Siri at the same time in order to do that because you have to do it either while Siri is talking, or wait until she gives up. If you don’t do that and you try to navigate after Siri is asking you what you want to do with the message, VO will be silent, I guess to avoid Siri getting confused with VO’s speech.

I can’t quite tell you how to find the actual edit field, only to try to listen to when VO is reading the message and double tap to see if it says insertion point at beginning or end. The only thing I can tell you is that I don’t think the edit box is where it should be, in terms of the order of things.”

Problems with the Guardian App

It’s a pleasure to hear from Ron McCallum in Sydney, Australia, and he says:

“I read the Guardian newspaper on my iPhone using the Guardian app. A few days ago, this app stopped working fully.

When I go into the menu and double tap a section like Culture, it opens. However, if I try and double tap on a subsection like Music or Books, the app closes. When VoiceOver is turned off, the subsections open properly.

I have sent a message through Help on the Guardian app, but have not yet received a helpful reply.

Are there other blind readers of the Guardian newspaper who are also experiencing this difficulty? Do you have any suggestions how to remedy this problem?”

Thank you for writing in, Ron.

It may not surprise you or some other listeners to know that I am actually quite a regular Guardian reader as well. I don’t read it every day, but I read it enough to subscribe to it, and I can verify this problem.

So I don’t have any simple workarounds other than to try and locate by touch where the section you want is, toggle VoiceOver off and single tap it, and then toggle VoiceOver back on and see if you’re in the section that you want to be.

That is not a good outcome, so I will also join you in reporting the issue through the Help of the Guardian app, and we’ll just see if we can get this resolved. I know they care about accessibility, and they hopefully will pay some development attention to this.

Windows 10 and 11

Christopher Wright says:

“Hi, Jonathan,

This is in response to the person talking about extended Windows 10 updates for free in episode 270.

I highly doubt Microsoft is going to give us special treatment again.

The free upgrade to Windows 10 was fun while it lasted, and had all kinds of interesting fun loopholes such as allowing you to activate Windows with existing Windows 7 product keys. But sadly, that’s all gone now unless you took advantage of it.

As I said when Windows 11 was released, it’s super easy to get it working on supposedly unsupported hardware. It boils down to how much you’re willing to tinker. There are tons of resources that will guide you if you research on the internet, and they’re all fully accessible to a blind person. Most of these tweaks are even documented and provided by Microsoft directly.

If you’re upgrading a machine from Windows 10 that had a valid digital license, that license continues to work in 11. If you install 11 on a computer that came with Windows 8 or later that has the license built into the board, that works as well.

I’ve been running Windows 11 on unsupported hardware for almost 3 years now, and have had no significant issues. Once you bypass all the checks and draconian Microsoft account requirements, it’s business as usual.

The monthly patches install without issue, though Windows Update will refuse to install new major versions such as going from the original release in 2021 to the one in 2022, 2023, or the upcoming 2024 release. For those, you need to manually download the installation media from Microsoft, replace a file to trick the setup program to bypass the compatibility checks and perform a standard in-place upgrade.

Having said that, it appears the 2024 release is introducing another actual system requirement, not an artificial one. My understanding is the new version won’t be able to boot on Intel processors manufactured prior to 2008, or AMD chips prior to 2006 or 2008, due to some kind of instruction that’s not present. This shouldn’t be a big deal for most people, and I still maintain modern Windows doesn’t run particularly well on hardware made before 2009.

If you’re going to continue using unsupported hardware, try to use processors made in 2010 or 2011 at the bare minimum, and please use an SSD. Modern Windows is painfully slow on a mechanical drive.

If you’re not comfortable tweaking, purchase new hardware that’s officially supported, or pay for the extended Windows 10 security updates until 2028. We don’t know what the pricing will look like for those yet.

Though I bet the enthusiastic community will find a way to install them for free, just like they did for Windows 7.

At the end of the day, Microsoft is a business, and their goal is to make money. They don’t care about you or the planet, only how much money they make.”

I Saw an Apple Vision Pro

Voice message: Hey, Jonathan! This is Madilyn calling from Burlington, Massachusetts.

First, I am really excited because I finally got to see the Apple Vision Pro, and oh, it was just so fun. My favorite part was when a shark almost ate me, [laughs] and I loved that immersive experience.

I also got to learn a couple VoiceOver gestures on the Apple Vision Pro, and that was so fun.

Another thing related to Apple is that I listened to you read an email from a guy named Justin who was having problems with Siri. And the solution that I would come up with is, whenever my Siri would do that, what I would do is close out of Siri and talk to Siri again. And if she does it again, the message thing, then I would say to Siri, repeat. And then Siri would repeat your message. And then, I would tell them to send. And then the text message would go on its merry little way to the other person’s phone.

Jonathan: Thank you for sending that in, Madilyn.

Very pleased you got to see the Apple Vision Pro. I have not seen it yet because I haven’t been out of the country since it’s been released, and the Apple Vision Pro isn’t available here.

Although, people who’ve been scanning the code of iOS 17.4 are suggesting that Apple’s poised to release Apple Vision Pro in other markets. But I don’t think New Zealand is one of those markets, so it might be a while before I get to play with one. I shall therefore enjoy this vicarious experience, although I think I could miss being eaten by a shark.

Comments on Some Recent Topics

“Hi, Jonathan,”, says Rich Yamamoto.

“I figured I’d give some comments about various recent topics. And to avoid spamming you with emails, I figured I’d just put them all in one.

First, an update on my quest for a BrailleSense 6. I am pleased to say that I got one. I’m actually using its email program to write this.

I’ve been playing with it for the past few weeks, and my experiences have been nothing but stellar. This thing is perfect for what I need to do. I can fill out my timesheet, access Blackboard, and send emails while having Spotify or YouTube Music open in the background, all at the same time. It’s delightful.

My one wish is that Apple Music were more accessible, but I understand that HIMS has absolutely no control over that.

However, I will tell you that Apple Music’s accessibility on the Android platform has gotten, well, to put it nicely, obviously awful. It’s unusable now.

Other than that though, it’s great, and it’s been the only device I’ve taken to work with me over the past week.

Now, on the subject of blind parenting and being a grandparent, I am much too young to have a grandchild at this time. [laughs]

However, I have a nephew who is actually totally blind with norrie disease like you and myself. His parents are sighted, though my sister has been coming to my parents and I with advice on the best steps to take to ensure that my nephew lives a quality life. I think she’s also taken her experiences with having a blind brother and applied them to her parenting style.

Currently, he’s 5 months old at the time of writing, so I haven’t gotten the pleasure of watching him on my own yet.”

Well, that’s a great age. They’re all great ages, Rich.

“I suppose that also has to do with the fact that I live in Kansas City and she lives in Oklahoma City, which is 5 hours away.

As a blind uncle, the only things I’ve done thus far is hold him, let him play with my class ring while it was on my finger (He loves grabbing things.), and read books to him.

But this is a topic of great interest to me, as I am definitely one who is wanting to start a family in the future.

What were your experiences like as both a grandfather and an uncle? Did you have to do anything differently from that of your siblings?”

Well, Rich, I have, well, I had 5 nephews and I have a niece. Unfortunately, one of my nephews died in a terrible farm accident about 7 years ago.

But being an uncle was just wonderful. You know, it’s a bit like being a grandparent, although you’re not quite as mature. At least I wasn’t.

Anthony, who is the only one of that lot who is blind, came along when I was 9. He’s my spotty nephew, and we have a very close relationship. we’re kind of more like brothers than nephew and uncle.

And in fact, he couldn’t quite figure out where I fit on the spectrum because he knew when I was about 13 or 14, I could tell him to behave himself and tell him what to do. And yet, my parents and others were still telling me what to do. He was very confused by this.

One day, he came up to me and he said, “Uncle Jonathan, are you a kid or what?” You know, he was trying to figure out where I fitted into the whole strata of things.

I don’t recall changing any of my nephews or niece’s nappies. Diapers, you call them over there. I don’t think I ever changed a baby.

But when they were old enough, I did a lot of things with all of them. We would go camping, and I’d tell them stories. We’d do all kinds of things.

Now, by that stage, I was married to somebody sighted, and that may well have made it a little bit less of an issue in terms of if they run off, can somebody see where they’ve gone? That kind of thing. Because if you’re not living with a blind caregiver all the time, as Patti pointed out in her email a couple of weeks ago, that can be an issue. They think that hide and seek is a game. Whereas for a blind caregiver, it is not a good game unless you’re under very strict circumstances and you’re at home, or something like that.

But I loved being an uncle, and I think there was a very special bond. I’m sure you’ll find this too with your little nephew who’s blind.

There was a very special bond between Anthony and me because I was able to relate to him being a blind kid, and the things he enjoyed, and the things he experienced. And that’s why I have become convinced over the years that there is such a thing as a blind culture. And I think we share that very special bond.

It’s why if I ever have blind grandchildren, I’m really looking forward to that. I think there will be a special bond. And my challenge, if that happens, will be to make sure that I don’t favor him (And it will be a him, if it’s a blind grandchild.), more than anybody else. That’s going to be something I have to be mindful of.

“Next,”, says Rich, “the topic of NFB Newsline for Android. It’s funny that you bring this up last week because at the time of writing, I had just been assigned a task through my work to write up a compare-slash-contrast document on the differences between BARD, Bookshare, and the NFB Newsline service. I was actually about to write an email here, asking if anybody knew of a way to access NFB Newsline on Android, but someone beat me to the punch.

In my opinion, I think the NFB is slightly hypocritical in a sense because they have been a huge supporter of universal design, but yet one of their most popular and respectable services isn’t fully cross-platformed. What’s up with that?

I’m excited about the new line of Zoom recorders. I plan to get my hands on one at some point. But seeing as I’m a broke college kid in 6 credit hours and working a full-time job, that won’t be happening anytime soon. I do look forward to your reviews of these recorders, for I think that this latest development should be demonstrated and praised to the high heavens above.

My Olympus DM-720 is still going strong, though its menus don’t talk as much as the Zoom from what I can tell.

Finally, I want to discuss a little bit about AI.

I’ve used ElevenLabs for many different things. I’ve actually used it to give instructions to my students when I was ill one day, and didn’t have a working natural voice in the back of my throat. Everyone complained that I sounded like a hyena fighting with a cat, so I used my clone of my voice that I made in ElevenLabs to communicate.

This was quite handy. Though I won’t tell you what my bill was for the month, where I used this throughout an entire week. Yikes!

I’ve also used ChatGPT and this neat little thing called Character AI, which can generate stories based on names that you give it, a setting, a plot, and a conflict. It can also narrate those stories to you when you enable voice activation, which is quite cool and pleasant to listen to.

I haven’t used Character AI since last May. But when I did use it, I found it to be reasonably accessible. That is, it was on the Mac.

The BrailleSense has a ChatGPT add-on that you can install. Though to use it to its full potential, you have to set up an API key and add money to your platform account. It’s really confusing as to how to set all this up, though I’m not always the brightest lightbulb in the fixture. It could have very well been a me issue, and not a problem with the website at all.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll write back as I continue to learn about things, and comment on topics from the podcast that interest me.

Keep up the great work. This is an awesome passtime for my Saturdays, when I really should be doing that wonderful thing they call economics homework. Ugg!“, says Rich.

“Hope all is well.”

All is very well. Thanks, Rich! Good to hear from you.

You look after that cute nephew of yours. That’s a very special time when they’re growing and discovering, all that sort of thing.

And I’ll tell you, I did economics as well. One of the coolest things I still remember is when our teacher was demonstrating 2 principles in economics. One was the law of diminishing returns, and the other was the law of diminishing marginal utility. [laughs]

In the law of diminishing returns, our teacher went out to the car park with the class. And we thought, “What’s the teacher doing taking us to the car park?”

He got some student at random and said, “I want you to push my car.” And this poor kid was trying to push his car, and it was moving a little bit.

And then he said, “Okay, I want another student to join him and push the car.” And when the car was being pushed, they were measuring how much more with every student the car was moving. And for a little while there, it was making a big difference.

But then over time, when they started adding more and more people, the amount extra that the car was moving was actually diminishing. In other words, you weren’t getting as much extra movement when you added more people than you were to begin with, when you started adding people. And that was the law of diminishing returns.

Epic! Never forgotten it. See, that’s a good teacher.

And the one about diminishing marginal utility was interesting.

He picked on another poor student. (I’m not sure how he chose people for these examples. [laughs])

He put a packet of chocolate biscuits in front of this person and he said, “Have one.” And she just loved that chocolate biscuit.

And then he said, “Did you like it?”

And she said, “I love that chocolate biscuit.”

And he said, “Have another one.”, so she enjoyed that too.

But gradually, as he was moving through this packet of chocolate biscuits with her, she liked them less and less.

And he said, “See, that’s the law of diminishing marginal utility.”

He was a good teacher, actually. He was a very good teacher.


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Victor Reader Stream 2 and Audible

Here’s Joe Danowsky, and he says:

“Hi, Jonathan,

Today, I connected my Victor Reader Stream, which I believe is the Reader version 2, which has the navigation built in to my Windows 11 PC to download and transfer books from the Audible Sync app.

The Audible Sync app on the PC would not download or see my Audible library. It simply would not connect to the Audible server.

This was strange as I think just about 5 weeks ago, I downloaded books to the PC from Audible and transferred them to the Victor Reader from the Sync app.

I called Audible support and got no answers after being on the phone for well over 1 hour. No one who I spoke to knew anything about the Sync app, and they were completely unable to help me.

Is it over between Audible and the Victor Reader stream? Does the Sync app no longer exist?

Interested to know if you or your audience have had the same problem, and what I might be able to do about it.

I do prefer using the Victor Reader Stream for complicated books, in which I like to stop and start frequently, and leave bookmarks and verbal notes. When I am doing complex reading, I prefer to use buttons, as opposed to double taps on the iPhone screen. Also, rewinding and placing bookmarks is much easier with the Stream.

Any help here will be greatly appreciated.”

Thanks, Joe!

I don’t know about this. I’m not a Victor Reader Stream user. I do it all on my iPhone.

My understanding is that the relationship between Humanware and Audible is still a thing, and that they’re actually working on Audible support for the Victor Reader Stream 3rd generation.

But if anybody else has had an experience where their Stream version 2 with Audible Sync has stopped working and most important, you’ve got a fix, do be in touch. I’m sure Joe will appreciate that., or 864-60Mosen is the number. 864-606-6736.

Review of the Keyto Breath Sensor

On this podcast and on its predecessor, The Blindside, we have talked about the Keto lifestyle a little bit. And if you weren’t listening at the time or you want to refresh your memory about this, you can go back to episode 58 of this podcast (which unfortunately is not transcribed because we weren’t doing transcriptions then), but it talks about the advantages of living a ketogenic lifestyle.

I won’t recap all of that because there was a lot of detail provided in episode 58. But the short version is that if you keep your carbs very low, you will go into ketosis which means that because your body doesn’t have energy to burn from carbohydrates, it will switch to a more efficient source and it will start burning fat for fuel.

Now, there are a couple of advantages of this.

The first is that you get so much energy, you won’t know what to do with it. I can tell you now that I would not be able to keep up the schedule that I keep up ? being a CEO by day, doing Living Blindfully and managing Mushroom FM, and being an active granddad and all these things if I were not eating Keto.

Most people go off the wagon from time to time. And if I do, I just feel so much more sluggish. I find it hard to get through the day. I find it difficult to get everything done.

Being in ketosis is amazing, and I have more energy now than I did when I was, say, in my 20s and not eating Keto.

And the second advantage is that because you’re burning fat for fuel, you get the fat off your body. It is a great weight loss tool.

A Keto diet has also been known to have some medical benefits that are quite specific. For example, some people are on strict Keto diets in order to stop epileptic seizures. And I know personally of several people who have come off insulin. They’ve been diabetic, and they’ve actually come off insulin after sticking to a Keto diet. It has actually reversed their diabetes. You obviously want to seek medical advice if that’s an issue for you.

So I’m a huge fan of Keto. I know I will do it for the rest of my life. It’s changed my life.

I have been able to tell over the years when I’m in Ketosis, and I find it quite difficult to explain but there is a taste in your mouth when you’re in Ketosis, and your breath is a certain way as well. It definitely feels different when you’re in Ketosis. But I haven’t really had any tool that measures my Ketosis with any degree of accuracy.

Data about your health is really good. I have a smart scale, and it measures body fat composition, muscle mass, hydration level. My scale is from Qardio, (that is spelt Q-A-R-D-I-O.)

And as we’ve discussed here on Living Blindfully, we’ve got the blood pressure monitor from them as well. I don’t have a blood pressure issue right now. But every so often, I check in and take my blood pressure, just to see how I’m doing. Bonnie uses that one regularly.

I’ve obviously got the Apple Watch, and it’s all feeding into the Health app. I must admit, it’s motivating when I can track progress, and I know when I’m going in the right direction, and I know where I might need to make a bit of a course correction because I’ve become a bit wayward. That is really helpful.

So I thought, “Why am I not measuring my Ketosis in a more formal way?”

This segment has a very long gestation because back in 2020, Francois Jacob, who I believe was inspired to go Keto because he heard our episode on going Keto and its benefits, he wrote to me to say he had done some research about accessible, easy ways for blind people to know when they’re in Ketosis. So he’s done all the research, so we don’t have to. Now, that was nearly 4 years ago, so the market may have changed a bit.

But he recommended a device that talks with an app. It’s really simple, as I’ll show you in a moment, and it’s still accessible, and it still works great.

When I tried to get this device which is called the Keyto Breath Sensor (and Keyto is spelled K-E-Y-T-O), to New Zealand, they originally were going to ship it, but then said they wouldn’t because it was too expensive to ship it.

I explained to them, “I’m a blind person. I don’t have too many accessible options. I don’t really mind what it costs. Ship it already, and I’ll pay whatever it takes.”

But they wouldn’t. Alright, then.

So I used one of those package-forwarding services where you can sign up, you can get a US address, and then they ship it to that address, and they ship it on to New Zealand.

So I have it now, and it’s a really cool device. It does exactly what it says, and it’s very easy to use.

The Keyto app (K-E-Y-T-O) is available in the App Store. I presume it’s available on Google Play as well.

It does much more than work with this breath sensor. If you’re just getting started with Keto or you want some personal coaching and some motivation, you can sign up to their plan. They will give you some advice on what you can eat, you can track your food and therefore your carb intake, and it can help people keep on the straight and narrow if they’re just getting started with this.

If you stick with Keto long enough, what you ultimately find is that things you once enjoyed are just too sickly sweet, and things tend to take care of themselves.

But I’m long past that stage now. So I just use the Keyto app to work with the breath sensor, and you can do that as well.

If you sign up for the full plan, that’s a subscription thing. If you buy the breath sensor, then you can just use the app for that purpose and there’s no additional charge.

If you do sign up to a plan, you may be able to get a discount on the breath sensor. I think you do need to commit for some period of time before they’ll give you a discount. And I guess, that’s fair enough.

I guess the best way I can describe this, it’s very small, it’s cylindrical, it’s kind of like an extended tube of lipstick.

In the Keyto Breath Sensor box which is nicely presented, you get the breath sensor itself, you get 4 mouthpieces, and you get some documentation.

So you can use this in a household. It would be a little bit like having an electric toothbrush handle with different brushes for different people that you can attach to the end of the electric toothbrush. You get these 4 little mouthpieces. And if there are up to 4 of you in the household, you just attach your mouthpiece, so you’re not getting anybody’s germs when you breathe into this thing. And it’s pretty simple to attach and detach them.

The sensor is powered by one AAA battery. And guess what? The battery is included. You seldom see that these days.

There is just one button on the device, and you only need to press it to power it on. It will take care of powering itself off.

I found this very easy to set up. The battery was simple to install. The button, maybe it’s not particularly pronounced. But if you feel around the surface of this thing, you’ll find it.

I’ve not gone into the subscription plan very much to see how accessible that program is. But for managing the Keyto Breath Sensor, it is very accessible.

When you set the app up, if you’ve got the breath sensor there, you double tap to take a measurement in the app and it will know that you don’t have a Keyto Breath Sensor associated with your phone. It will invite you to switch it on and pair it. And once you switch it on, you don’t have to go into Bluetooth or do anything else. It handles it all from the app, and it handles it automatically.

Setup takes, you know, a couple of minutes or so. But then, it’s all ready to go.

I’ll give you a quick demo of this. What takes the most time, actually, is warming up the device.

So we’ll go into this app.

Open Keyto.

Now, we’ll go to the top of the screen, ?

VoiceOver: Dashboard, heading.

Jonathan: work our way right.

VoiceOver: Settings, button.

Your stage: Keyto Optimist.

Today’s lessons.


Lesson 1.

Today’s progress.


Log a Keyto level.

Level 5.

Jonathan: Level 5 is all right. It means I’m rocking the Ketosis.

So I will double tap this now.

VoiceOver: Scanning for Keyto device.

Close, button.

Scanning for Keyto device.

Turn on your Keyto.

Jonathan: I will do that now by pressing the power button.

VoiceOver: Connected. Keyto device, connected.

[1 short beep]

Jonathan: And already, the device is connected and it gives a little beep to indicate that it is warming up.

We do get some progress information here.

VoiceOver: Connected.


Warming up.

Jonathan: We’ll check in on that every so often. The phone will vibrate as it’s getting close to wanting you to take the measurement. And the way that you take that measurement is to simply blow right into the device. You hold it right up to your mouth. You don’t put it in your mouth, but you blow into the device.

VoiceOver: Warming up.


Jonathan: Let’s see.

VoiceOver: Calibrating.

Jonathan: It’s calibrating now.

VoiceOver: Calibrating.

Jonathan: So it takes a couple of minutes, I think. And then, we’ll be able to blow into the device and see what the current Ketosis level is.

Level 1 means you’re not in Ketosis at all, and level 8 means you’re burning a very significant amount of Ketones.

VoiceOver: Calibrating.

Jonathan: It’s still calibrating now, so I guess it’s given up on warming up.

VoiceOver: Close, button.

Jonathan: And now, I’ve got the vibration from the phone. And now, it says?

VoiceOver: Prepare to blow.

Jonathan: Prepare to blow.

Alright. I’m going to get another vibration in a moment, and I will do that.

[2 short beeps]

VoiceOver: Measuring.

Blow naturally into your Keyto device.

[blowing sound]

Calculating your Keyto level.

Did you blow?

Jonathan: I certainly did.

VoiceOver: The Keyto will only work properly with a good breath.

Yes, button.

Jonathan: I’ll double tap that.

VoiceOver: Keyto level 4.


Fat burn, medium high.

In Ketosis. Level 4.


Back, button.

how do you feel?

Great, button.

Jonathan: I’ll double tap great.

VoiceOver: Selected, great. Continue, button. Dashboard.

Jonathan: If you’re hovering around level 4 or 5, you’re well into Ketosis. I have had a couple of situations since i’ve had this where it’s said level 6 plus, which is a pretty great state to be in. [laughs]

If you are at level 3 and you’re starting to trend downwards, then there may be something that is threatening to take you out of ketosis. But level 4, level 5, that’s a pretty good place to be.

How it’s doing what it’s doing is that it’s measuring your breath for acetone levels. And when your acetone levels are up, your ketosis is going to be up. So it’s extrapolating that acetone data and from the acetone determining the level of Ketones in your bloodstream.

So that’s the Keyto Breath Sensor. If you want to find more information about this, then go to That’s G-E-T-K-E-Y-T-O dot com.

Comments on iOS 17.4

Thabo’s writing in. He says:

“Hi, Jonathan,

I hope this email finds you well.

Allow me to greet you from country code 267, Botswana, with a warm ‘Dumilang!’ in Setswana, our local language.”

Thank you very much! That’s exciting. I hope I didn’t mispronounce it too badly.

“During a recent holiday break, I returned and received my new iPhone 15 Pro Max, just 2 weeks ago. I must admit, I’m absolutely smitten with it.

However, I encountered an unusual issue while subscribing to Apple One. Whenever I clicked the Confirm Subscription button, it inexplicably took me back to the subscription screen. Frustrating, right? Thankfully, I sought assistance from a sighted friend to navigate this hurdle.

Additionally, I’ve noticed that some apps refuse to install when I double tap the Get App button in the App Store.

I wonder if others using VoiceOver have faced similar challenges?”

Thanks for writing in, Thabo.

I’m hoping that I’m not stating the obvious here. But what you’ve got to do when you’re confirming a subscription to Apple One or installing an app is you double tap the Get button, or whatever the button is. And then, you’ve got to hold your phone away from you, looking at it, so that it gets face ID, and you double click the side button. If you don’t do that, then you’re not going to be able to make a purchase.

If you’re doing that already and it’s not working for you, I don’t immediately have any ideas about that.

Dolby Atmos

Rod Carne, one of our Dolby Atmos aficionados, says:

“Hello, Jonathan,

I find the LG TV an excellent device for a blind person. It’s good for Dolby Atmos apart from Apple Music, but that’s a deliberate move by Apple and not LG to not enable that feature.

Whilst Netflix did provide Atmos with audio description, this doesn’t appear to be the case these days. But there is plenty of material using 5.1 with audio description.

I hate to disappoint you guys, but a system using a soundbar does not conform to the guidelines for Dolby. Whilst it might make an interesting surround sound system, Atmos it is not.”

I have to disagree with you, Rod. I think that’s factually incorrect and demonstrably incorrect because there are many thousands of people around the world using Dolby Atmos with some great soundbar technology including the Sonos Arc. They have upward facing speakers at the top so the Dolby Atmos is beamed towards the ceiling for upward sounds, and it is very effective.

It’s definitely not as effective as placing speakers all over the place and in the ceiling, that kind of thing, but that’s quite cost-prohibitive and also quite labor intensive to set up.

And there are many people enjoying Dolby Atmos in this way. In fact, you can go to I think that’s the URL. And Dolby itself has a soundbar setup guide for getting the most out of Dolby Atmos, so they’re on board. They’ve licensed the technology. It is absolutely a credible, viable way of consuming Dolby Atmos.

Rod continues:

“Personally, I have not found many Atmos music albums which I enjoy. This could be down to the lack of engineers who know how to produce a satisfactory mix.

It does remind me of 50 years ago, when I was selling top hi-fi. Then there was this dreadful 4-channel system, sometimes referred to as quadraphonic.”

Oh yes, quadraphonic. I remember my Uncle Albie had a quadraphonic thing, and I thought this was amazing. I’d go over there and listen to his records. I think he had the soundtrack of Jonathan Livingston’s Seagull in quad, and that sounded pretty interesting.

I agree that Dolby Atmos music is very much hit and miss. Some of the ones that I like, the Beatles’ Abbey Road album is absolutely wonderful in Dolby Atmos, as is the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, of all things. If you listen to How Deep Is Your Love by the Bee Gees from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, that is a very, very sweet Dolby Atmos mix.

Another album that I think is particularly impressive in Atmos is Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Quincy Jones produced that, of course. It’s a stunning recording, anyway. But wow, that Dolby Atmos mix really does bring it to life.

So there are a few nuggets out there, a few pearls, but they’re difficult to find, I agree with you.

But back to Rod’s email.

“And that brings me to a big gripe I have about Dolby Atmos.

To remove the problem of getting a good stereo image in a large room with numerous listeners, Dolby has produced a system where the majority of the dialogue is actually in mono, with a lot of peripheral sounds on other speakers. However, I have noticed on some Disney movies that the engineer has expanded the dialogue area into a front pair of speakers, which makes an amazing improvement.

It does mean that it is very important to ensure that with any home cinema system, be it 5.1, 7.1, or Atmos, that the center speaker should be the very best that you can afford, and not some dinky little effort that fits beneath the TV.”

Indeed. And this is one of the areas where I think Sonos has got it right with their dialogue. It is a really interesting point you make about dialogue not actually being spread across the spectrum. I think that would make a difference. And it’s probably something not many people care about or pick up, but it’s something that we do.

Sadly, I’ve not found anything that I want to watch on Netflix where there is audio description and Dolby Atmos. And we shouldn’t be required to make that choice.

This is where Apple TV Plus is just winning it hands down. By contrast, I’ve not found anything there on Apple TV Plus that I want to watch that’s been produced by Apple that is not in Dolby Atmos while also containing the audio description, so hats off and full credit to Apple for that.

Disney is also pretty bad in this regard. I’ve even seen stereo stuff coming through with audio description, not even 5.1.


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Thoughts on Episode 271

Buddy Brannan is in touch. Good to hear from you, Buddy.

He’s talking first all about smart glasses.

“I’m really very interested in Seleste and appreciate the first-hand review. It sounds”, as he said, “like a good start. And I think if people have the right expectations going in, it sounds like it’ll be a great assistant in due course.”

I did see someone, Buddy, on Mastodon recently who is hearing impaired say that they have returned their Seleste glasses. They said they didn’t really want to be a beta tester for them, that there was a lot of lag. Things could take between 10 and 11 seconds to respond because it’s all happening in the cloud. He says Braille support is not good. And as someone with a hearing impairment, that is significant for him. He just felt it wasn’t really for him.

So it’ll be interesting to get a range of perspectives on this.

The nice thing is that you can get them, you can subscribe for as long as you want, and return them if they don’t meet your needs.

Dedicated audio/book players is Buddy’s next topic.

“I’m curious why, if one is not a book reader, one would spend the kind of money they’d have to for a Victor Reader scream.”

Then, he says in brackets, “Sorry, I had a customer who called it that, and I’ve taken up the habit.”

I’ve actually called it that too, but I didn’t know anybody else did.

“I actually came by one myself recently,”, says Buddy, “and I’m happy to have it. Though on the one hand, I think that it’s quite expensive for what it is. At least, it appears to be of a better build quality than its predecessor, and that’s certainly worth something.

I can only tell you that I’m a book reader. And although I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy book reader apps on the iPhone, I’m finding that I rather like having a separate device for books, where reading won’t get interrupted by notifications or phone calls. Yes, of course I could turn on do not disturb, or silence notifications, or set up a reading focus to do those things. But a separate device is a nice way of not having to.”

[laughs] Well I guess if you want to spend over 500 bucks so you don’t have to set up a focus, buddy, knock yourself out.

Not for me, though. I’m quite happy to set up my focuses, and they work brilliantly.

Buddy continues:

“in my case, I also find that some sort of audio player with tactile buttons is handy because I get occasional work transcribing auction listings into an Excel spreadsheet for a company my sister works with. Quickly navigating (usually pausing and rewinding by small amounts) is not very easy with a touchscreen, so a player with physical navigation buttons makes my life a lot easier. And I really don’t have enough to justify buying all the actual transcription equipment like foot pedals and whatnot.

Regarding USB-C chargers, I’d never run into this issue where a straight through USB-C cable wouldn’t work until recently.

The new Zoomax eReader from NLS” (That’s the National Library Service, by the way, in the United States), “is a new acquisition for me recently. I hadn’t used it for a while, and the unit would not power on.

I plugged it in, and it still wouldn’t power on. I tried using the battery reset switch, with absolutely no change. I arranged for a replacement, and then I thought, I wonder, strange as it might sound, what would happen if I plugged in the cable it came with, rather than the straight USB-C cable I was using?

Imagine my surprise when it powered up. Needless to say, I sent back the replacement unit with a somewhat embarrassed apology.

After doing some testing, I determined that a straight USB cable would not charge the unit. A USB-A to USB-C cable would, however, so would a USB-A to USB-C cable with a USB-C adapter at the USB-A end. How odd!

Your explanation of why the same was happening with your scale, that the USB-C connector was secretly a micro-USB connector makes sense, though I confess it seems to me to be a strange way to handle the connection. So thanks for the hypothesis.”

You can thank Henk for that. He’s the one that sent it in.

“And anyone out there”, says Buddy, “who has the Zoomax eReader, don’t use a straight USB-C cable. USB-A to USB-C will work without any issue, though.

Finally, AI. The things that people are doing with AI are amazing. I’m watching with a great deal of interest how quickly it’s developing, and the innovative things that are being done with it. I expect it won’t be long before we’re seeing results coming back more quickly and with greater accuracy.

Keep the great content coming”, says Buddy.

Well, it’s good to hear from you, Buddy. Thank you very much for writing in. I hope you’ll write in again soon.

Apple Podcast Notifications

Voice message: Hi, Jonathan and all the Living Blindfully listeners. I just wanted to let you know that I got a solution to podcast notifications not going through in the Apple Podcasts app.

The main solution as to the podcast app notifications not working is if you actually turn on background app refresh, specifically for the podcast app. And there, you can actually get notifications coming through. Now they will be delayed but at least, you will get them and you will get a notification that the episode is available.

The other thing i wanted to mention is the wheelchair travel thing at the airport. Yeah, I was asked many times. “Do you need a wheelchair? Do you need a wheelchair?”, and the reason that they use for a visually impaired to get a wheelchair is it will be actually quicker. That’s what the assistants always say to me. “Oh, it will be quicker.”

So just let me know what you think. But that’s the reasons that I get when they offer me to use a wheelchair ? that it will be quicker to actually get through security and so on.”

Jonathan: That is Edvard with that contribution. Thank you very much for it.

Yes, I’ve been told this by people as well, and I think it stems from the misconception that if you’re blind, you can’t walk very fast.

Now, there are some people who are blind and can’t walk very fast, and I think it’s very important that we respect the judgment of every person to use the accommodation that works for them. So if there are people who just find it easier to comply, sit in the chair and go through, then that’s their choice. And I think we should respect that choice.

I do think it’s a really important principle, though, that we should be the ones who determine what accommodations we require. And if someone offers me a wheelchair and I could actually really do with the walk because I’m on a long flight and I might have trouble meeting my Apple Watch goals and I just want to stretch my legs before a long flight, I’d like that respected too. I think our autonomy, our self-determination is important. We’re the best people to determine what accommodations we need.

New Hearing Aids

Phillip Brown is talking about a subject that is very important, and that is new hearing aids. And he says:

“I need help choosing a pair of hearing aids. I have only minor hearing loss, but hearing aids were recommended. I bought a pair of Jabra Enhanced Select 300s, which is their top of the line over-the-counter hearing aids. I paid almost $2,000 for these.

The app that controls these aids is not accessible to screen readers at all. I made the company aware of this fault several times, but get the same answer, ‘We’ll fix it sometime down the road’. I am within the 100-day window of getting a full refund.

Should I stick with cheaper over-the-counter hearing aids or pay the $4,000 price at the local audiologist? Does anyone know of hearing aid brands with apps that are accessible to voiceover?”

Thank you for riding in, Philip. Your hearing as a blind person is really important. And if you’re able, I wouldn’t take shortcuts with it. That’s just my personal opinion.

I know that the OTC thing is now possible in the States. But I think given the complexity of our needs and that we want to be able to hear in noisy environments but we also want to be able to navigate in traffic, there are all sorts of quite complex things that need to go on. If it’s possible, I would find a good audiologist and work with them to get the best outcomes.

In terms of your specific question about whether there is a manufacturer with an accessible app, Scott Davert told us on this podcast some time back that the Phonak app has been made fully accessible, and it seems to be the case.

As I record this, I’m on the verge of getting new hearing aids, and Phonak is the one that I’m starting with first by way of a trial. The app looks in fantastic shape. So you might want to check out the latest line of Phonak hearing aids. And they do have an accessible app.

Increasingly, there are so many bells and whistles that these hearing aids offer. But if the app’s not accessible, our ability to make use of that functionality is severely constrained.

Others may like to comment on the hearing aids that they’re using, if they are, and what apps they’re working with, and whether the app works well or not with screen readers.

And Walt Smith must have mercifully been spared quite a lot of my content because he says:

“I never realized until recently that you are a hearing aid user.

I’ve used them now for over 50 years, and as I get older and my hearing continues to deteriorate, I find that I’m increasingly dependent on them.

I’ve recently started having the audio output of my computer access program, JAWS in my case, fed directly to my aids, and it’s a fantastic improvement over either headphones, uncomfortable and they block out any outside speech or other sounds, or speakers, which can irritate others in the household. Various hearing aid manufacturers and models utilize differing technologies to accomplish this direct feed, the most common these days probably being Bluetooth.

I strongly suggest that any blind computer user with hearing problems that require the use of aids and who don’t currently use direct audio feed investigate with their hearing aid specialist the possibility of such a connection with their current aids, and that they keep this feature in mind when buying their next aids.”

Thanks very much, Walt. Pretty much all the hearing aids these days, I think, have either a streamer you can use or Bluetooth capability built into some of the more expensive ones.

And the difficulty I have with this is, in a word, latency. Latency with some of these Bluetooth solutions is just enough, or sometimes even much more than enough, that when you’re flicking through with VoiceOver or when you’re trying to type away and navigate away on your PC, it lags because of latency.

And this is where, as regular listeners to this show will know, I’ve had the benefit of the direct audio input cable technology. So you get 0 latency, and it’s absolutely fantastic. But that is a feature of the past I’ve not been able to find in any of the new hearing aids and technologies, moving on, and there are many benefits so it’s something I’m going to have to give up.

I’ve got all sorts of headphones to try to emulate what I’ve got here in the studio now with the direct audio input cable, and we’ll see how we go.

Because I’m such a problem child and they actually find me interesting, I’ve got a representative of Phonak coming for the fitting, [laughs] so we can talk about strategies. And I not only have my own wonderful audiologist, but someone from Phonak sitting there as well making sure that the hearing aid is represented as best as possible. So it’s quite a major thing when I get new hearing aids fitted.

But yes, absolutely some sort of direct feed if you don’t mind the latency, or if you can find a solution that’s relatively latency-free that’s a great idea.

I am told that the latency of the Roger system, when paired with the Roger receivers and Phonak hearing aids, is Significantly lower than Bluetooth. So I’m looking forward to trying that for myself. The fact that Roger receivers are built in to Phonak hearing aids is a real plus for Phonak.

For those who don’t know about this gadgetry, Roger is a brand of remote audio solutions from Phonak. They have various microphones. They have a Roger pen, something called the Roger On, They have a table mic. And these things just work with Phonak hearing aids once it’s all been set up. And they tell me the latency is going to be better than most things. I await with excitement.

Next week, I’ll have the new Phonak Lumia aids and we’ll see how they go.

Zoom H Essential Series Recorders

We’re going to talk some more about these Zoom recorders. There’s a lot of buzz about those.

Kayde Rieken says:

“Hi again, Jonathan,

I’m an amateur when it comes to audio recording in the digital age.

I used to do a bunch of things with cassettes when I was little. But these days, I’m looking for something that will meet my needs in the much more boring setting of the courtroom. Unless, of course, there’s a good old-fashioned lawyer fight. Those are fun. [laughs]

Here’s my setup. I have a panel built into my court reporter station that allows you to plug a cable into the court audio system, getting very clear audio from the court mics.

However, this only works when people are talking into the mics, and not wandering around yelling passionately about whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. Also, if the brawling lawyers are shouting at the same time, the mics only tend to pick up the loudest of them.”

You must lead a very interesting life, Kayde.

“This is why I like to have a recording done with the court audio audio as well as a recording done with external mics. That way, I can make as high quality a transcription as I can using the benefits and drawbacks of both methods.

Could I use my H1 Essential to record the Chord Audio using a 3.5mm cable and the built-in recorder mics simultaneously, or would I need to get the H4 to do that? Or is what I’m thinking of doing not possible at all?

Thank you for any help you or your listeners can give me.”

Kayde, happy to help.

The H1 Essential is not going to meet this need because if you connect a cable to the line-in jack of the H1 Essential, it’s going to cut the built-in microphones off because the Zoom H1 Essential can only make one 2-track recording of one source at a time.

However, if you’ve got the H4 Essential, you could absolutely do what you want to do. Just run a cable from one of the combo jacks of the recorder so that would be a 6.3 millimeter cable going into one of the combo jacks terminating and whatever’s at the other end to go into the audio. You’ll get that crystal clear recording on one track. Meanwhile, on another track, you can record using the built-in mic of the h4 essential, and pick up what’s going on in the court.

You can play that audio back in 2 ways.

The h4 essential will produce for you a single file containing all tracks that are being recorded. So you’ll hear the microphone audio, you’ll hear the chord audio, all on the same file. And if you’re going to take that approach, you probably want to record post-mixer, so that you can adjust the balance between the chord audio and what you’re getting from the built-in mics.

It will also make a recording separately of each track. And if you take those tracks into a tool that is capable of working with multiple tracks, (Reaper is one example) that’s very accessible), then you can flick from track to track if you want. So you might find that you’re defaulting to the chord audio because that gives you the best results most of the time.

But there might be occasions where you have those brawls that you’re talking about where you think, “I can tell there’s something going on, but I’m not hearing it clearly.” You could then unmute the audio from your Zoom’s built-in mics and hear what’s going on then. So bringing those tracks into Reaper or something similar would give you a lot of flexibility there.

but the H4 Essential is an ideal tool for what you want to do. Best of luck. And if you do this, I’d be interested to hear how it goes.


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Petition to Restore the Envision College Success Program

Anexis Matos is writing in and says:

“I’m hoping to get your support on something very important to me.

I’m a participant of Envision’s College Success Program, a wonderful resource for college students who are blind and visually impaired. I’ve been a participant since 2017, when it was run by Learning Ally. This program provides support to us through mentorship and community programs, such as meetups twice a week, a book club, and summer workshops. These programs allow us to socialize as well as receive support from each other and our mentors.

This vibrant community is also very accessible for us like many communities aren’t. For some, it may even be their only way to socialize and get support.

Recently, we were abruptly told that programming will be paused until July. If you’re a college student, you know that this is the worst time to pause all programming as we’re in the middle of the semester, and could use all the support we can.

While some of us may be perfectly fine, we can’t forget that some are just starting college, or maybe in the beginning stages of their blindness and are attending college. We don’t want to leave them with no support because while colleges and universities have disability resources, they’re not always ideal for what we need.

Finally, while there will be those of us who will be fine through the rest of the semester, we still receive support from the community aspects of this program, and we will be losing that with this pause. This abrupt change is concerning because of the timing ,and the fact we don’t know what will happen. The letter we received only told us that there will be a pause for strategic planning in order to seek new ways to approach the program. This tells us nothing and we’re concerned because we’re not sure if the program will continue, or how it may change.

I would like to make clear that this decision was made without the College Success Program participants. We were not given in a voice to share our opinion on this pause.

As participants, we’re the ones affected by the choices made by a program created to help us, and I can’t help but feel disappointed and angry about the lack of respect.

This is why I’m writing today. I would like your support in bringing our concerns to the attention of the CSP. The petition below outlines our concerns and what we would like. Any support would be appreciated, and hopefully the College Success Program will return.”

Now this is a URL, and it’s a bit long.

The first thing I would recommend Anexis is if you’re going to put out the word, it would be great to create a nice simple bitly link, or using some other URL shortener to make it easy to put the word out on podcasts like this.

But I’ll do my best. and I will also do my best to remember to publish this in the show notes, so the link is That’s spelt the American way, naturally enough. So without the me at the end. So that’s

Closing and Contact Info

Thank you very much for listening to another eclectic episode. We look forward to doing it again for you next week.

And remember that when you’re out there with your guide dog, you’ve harnessed success. And with your cane, you’re able.


Voiceover: If you’ve enjoyed this episode of Living Blindfully, please tell your friends and give us a 5 star review. That helps a lot.

If you?d like to submit a comment for possible inclusion in future episodes, be in touch via email,. Write it down, or send an audio attachment: Or phone us. The number in the United States is 864-60-Mosen. That?s 864-606-6736.