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Welcome to 285.. 2

Something You Should Know About the Phonak TV Connect 3

Travelling on Airlines When You’re Blind.. 6

Microsoft Natural Voices for SAPI 5.. 13

The Victor Reader Stream 3.. 13

ID.ME.. 16

Cochlea Implants, Android, and Readers. 17

Accessibility Issues on the ElevenLabs Website.. 18

No One Should Subscribe to Voice Dream Reader 18

New Windows ARM Computers. 19

Glen Gordon From Vispero Discusses JAWS and ARM Processors. 22

An Update on Instacart 31

AI and How It Got Me in Trouble at Work. 31

Missing Phone Calls on My iPhone.. 34

Google Doesn’t Seem Committed to Accessibility. 34

Using IntelliJ as a Blind Person.. 36

The Rabbit R1 Isn’t Accessible.. 36

iOS Poor Performance in Safari 39

Mantis Carrying Cases, and Instacart Accessibility. 40

Thoughts on Glide.. 42

The Myriad Broadcasting Software.. 43

What Was That Thing You Were Talking To?.. 43

Closing and Contact Info.. 44




Welcome to 285


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.

Welcome back! On the show this week: listeners share their airline travel experiences, now that the fuss has died down, how is Voice Dream Reader doing as a subscription product?, and there are plenty of new arm-based Windows computers coming on the market. Glenn Gordon tells us all you need to know.

Beep beep! The number 285 is so cool to dial on a telephone keypad, you know. There’s a certain shape about certain numbers in certain environments. And you know, you dial 285 on a telephone keypad, it’s all vertical. You go in down, and then back up. It’s lovely.

However, there is no area code 285 at the moment in the North American numbering plan. [Aww! sound effect] One day, this could be yours, if you’re in that part of the world. You never know. So welcome to episode 285, with no area code to shout out to. [pretend cry]

Advertisement: On much brighter news though, we are delighted to still be able to bring you transcripts, thanks to the sponsorship of Pneuma Solutions, who’ve been loyally sponsoring these transcripts for some time now.

Pneuma Solutions are a customer-focused company, so it’s not surprising that they’re spending some time right now wanting to learn more about what you think of RIM (Remote Incident Manager), which has certainly become a big part of my life, and I know a big part of many other listeners’.

They are running a feedback survey right now. Whether you are a tech support provider, or a trainer working on your own or as part of an organization, or you’re just simply using RIM to control your desktop via an ultra-portable while on the road, Pneuma Solutions is interested in your feedback. As users of a product designed by blind people, users have an excellent opportunity to present detailed feedback directly to the creators of RIM.

Now, I have to say that one of the things that irks me about these sorts of things is that often, you are asked to give your feedback, and that takes time. And your time and market intelligence is of value to these companies, and they give you nothing for submitting your feedback.

Well, not Pneuma Solutions. Because as a way of saying thank you, anyone who completes the survey is going to get a $20 coupon for use on any individual purchase in the Pneuma store. Win-win, eh? The team gets valuable insights, and users get a nice discount on a Pneuma purchase.

I hear from Pneuma Solutions that quite a few people who filled in the survey already say that they heard about RIM through Living Blindfully. That’s epic. If you can give us a shout out when you fill the survey in, it’ll hopefully encourage Pneuma Solutions to keep sponsoring the transcripts, which I know makes such a difference to so many people.

So how do you do it, I hear you cry. All you have to do is go to That’s, and we’ll all work together to make a very cool product even better in future. That’s


Something You Should Know About the Phonak TV Connect

You know, sometimes, you have a blind moment. And it’s so frustrating that eventually, you have to laugh about it. Because you have to laugh sometimes, just to keep your sense of perspective.

When Bonnie saw this playing out, she laughed and she said, “This is what happens to me all the time.” She says, “I get some sort of issue with my computer.” And she says, “I don’t like bothering you with it because you’re so busy.”

And I say, “You’re never a bother, sweetheart. I’m happy to fix your computer problems.”, but she persists.

And finally, she gets frustrated. And she says, “My computer is not doing this.”, or “It is doing this.”, and “I don’t want it to do this.”

And I come along and I fix it in 30 seconds, and she says, “How did you do that? I’ve been wrestling with it for ages, and you just come along and make it work.”

And I say, “Well, I’m glad to have some use still.”

Well, I had this situation happen to me in a very different way.

As I’ve been talking about on the show of late, I’ve got new hearing aid technology. We’ve locked that in. It’s all up and running. And overall, I’m pretty impressed with it.

They gave me this thing called a Phonak TV Connect. And my audiologist knows that I’m a bit of a self-starter with technology, so she said, “I’ve made sure that this thing is paired with your hearing aids. Is there anything else you need?”

And I said, “No, that should be good. I can read the user guide if I get stuck.”

It all seems very straightforward. And for quite some time, it was.

What I do is I connect this TV connector device to my Sonos port. The Sonos port is part of our Sonos ecosystem in the house. It means I can pretty much play anything I want, walk around the house, and listen to it wirelessly, even without my phone.

The audio quality is really quite good, and that’s been working okay. I had to lower the volume of the Sonos port quite a bit and fix it at a low level, but that was just initial setup stuff, and it’s been working.

Well, the other day in our long King’s birthday weekend holiday, America was playing Canada at cricket. No, don’t worry, you don’t need hearing aids. It really is true. America was playing Canada at cricket. And this is because the World Cup of the shortest form of the game, 2020, is taking place partly in the United States and partly in the Caribbean. And the people who look after cricket, the ICC (International Cricket Council) they’ve been desperate for yonks to see more people in the United States (which is such a large and influential market) interested in cricket, so they’re taking it to New York and other places. I think there’s a few games in LA. This game was taking place in Dallas, Texas, the opening game of the 2020 Cricket World Cup ? the United States playing Canada.

Now Bonnie, she can take or leave cricket. Mostly leave it, actually. But I thought this could be a fun thing. We can watch America playing Canada in cricket.

By the way, for the record, Canada was looking pretty good for a while there. And then, America just had an amazing third wicket partnership. And they cruised to victory in the end with a couple of overs to spare, and they won by 7 wickets. So a very comprehensive pretty stunning win by the United States in the World Cup. I mean, I don’t expect them to advance much further. But you know, I’ve been wrong before. Cricket is an interesting game like that.

Anyway, why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this because we went into the living room, and we put the commentary on the Sonos Arc, and I was going to use my little TV connector from Phonak to get the audio into my hearing aids so Bonnie could listen at a comfortable level, and I could enjoy it, too.

So I clicked all the buttons and did what you have to do. Nothing was coming through my hearing aids from the TV connector. I thought this is really interesting, so I unplugged it and I plugged it in again. I did all sorts of fiddling around.

In the end, I even resorted to the manual. And the manual said oh, you might want to check the power button. And the only button that I could find on the device was a little button at the very back of the device, which is by its little USB-C input, which it uses for power. And since it was right by that power outlet, I think it’s a fairly safe assumption to say okay, this is the power button, and you just press it.

So I press that button. And still, nothing was happening. What I often do in a situation like this, if I’m not sure if something’s powered up, is I put the device to my ear and switch to telecoil mode. And normally, you can get just enough electromagnetic activity to know whether something is on, or whether it’s not. But with this TV connector thing, I hear nothing regardless of whether it’s on or whether it’s off.

So I’m getting pretty frustrated, because I just want to listen to the cricket. This is a rare moment where Bonnie and I are actually going to listen to a cricket match together. And it’s not like I can’t hear the commentary completely. It would just be easier to hear it direct through the hearing aids. I’m fiddling and I’m fooling with this thing for ages, and I’m not getting into the game because I’m so fixated on why the bleep is this thing not working? Why isn’t it, when it’s worked before?

So I exhausted my options with the manual. I ran out of options. And in the end, I cobbled together a temporary solution by getting my Zoom H1 Essential, connecting that to the Sonos port, and then plugging my Phonak Roger On remote listening device into the headphone jack of the Zoom H1 Essential. So it was all very seat of the pants but it did what it needed to do, and I was able to get the commentary direct through the hearing aid, and Bonnie was able to listen at a sensible volume. And we heard the United States pretty convincingly thrashing Canada at the cricket. It was pretty cool.

That was on the Sunday, and it was a long weekend here for King’s birthday. So I said to my son, Richard, Richard, my boy, why don’t you come over for lunch?

He eats vegan. We, or at least I do the keto. Bonnie eats keto, but she’s not strictly keto like I am. So we tend to have curry when Richard comes over because there are some good vegan curry options, and there are some good keto curry options, if you’re very careful. Usually the tandoori dishes where there aren’t too many carby sauces added, and things like that.

So he came over and I said, “Richard, while you’re here, can you tell me what the matter with this device is? Because I actually think it’s broken. I spent an hour or two trying to make this thing work yesterday, and I cannot get any sound out of it.”

He walks up to this thing and within 5 seconds, I’m getting classical music coming through my hearing aid because I left something playing on the Sonos, a streaming classical channel, while I was troubleshooting. And he just walks up to this thing, and boom! I’ve got music coming through.

I said, “How did you do that, Richard? I was wrestling with this thing for ages. You just walk up to it, and it starts to go.”

Bonnie’s in the background saying, “See? Now you know how I feel.”

It turns out that one of the things the manual does not make clear is that there is a bunch of touch-sensitive controls that you cannot feel at all on the top of this Phonak TV connector. So I’m telling you this as a public service announcement, in case you, one day, get a Phonak TV connector which does what it says on the tin, but with touch-sensitive buttons.

So there is a volume up and a volume down bit of the top that you cannot feel. And there’s also a power button, and you can’t feel that, either. And it must have been that when I was just plugging something into it or something like that, I touched the power button and had no clue that I had touched the power button. So the button on the back, which is the one physical button that there is that I thought, oh, this has got to be the power button, that was actually a pairing button. And when you press that, you’re putting it into pairing mode.

So while Richard was here, we did some troubleshooting. If I’m talking about the past tense, do you say that you troubleshot something, or you troubleshooted something? I don’t know. Never thought about that before.

Anyway, it turns out that if the unit is in a powered on state and you unplug it from the power and you plug it back in, it does go back into being a powered off state. If it’s switched off when you unplug it, it will remains switched off when you plug it back in again, and it seems to remember its volume settings as well.

Moral of the story, we now have some little dots on the right place. It’s not full-proof. Like, I can’t be absolutely certain that I’m powering it on when I press the little dot, but at least, I know that those controls exist on the top of the unit that you cannot tactfully distinguish in any way whatsoever. It was frustrating at the time, but it does remind us how far we have to go and how really important it is that hearing aid manufacturers speak with blind people, because I don’t think that the product would be any worse if it had some physical buttons on the top of that unit.

Travelling on Airlines When You’re Blind

Let’s talk airline experiences.

Peter is in touch from Hungary. He says:

“Hi, Jonathan,

I flew with Brussels Airlines from Budapest to Brussels and back this February. I would split my experiences into two ? 1, buying the ticket and arranging the flight. And 2, the actual travel.

I made the purchase on Not the most accessible website in the world. But after some tinkering and swearing, I accomplished my task. Do you want to get familiar with hardline Hungarian swearing?”

I was wondering about that, Peter.

“No? Okay.”, he says. “No problem. Let’s go on.

In this platform, there was no way to indicate that I needed meet and assist help at the airports. says you deal with this kind of stuff by contacting the airline itself.

So let’s go to After registering an account, which was obligatory, my first job was to make the airlines recognize me and my reservation. It was not as easy as it should have been, to say the least. That’s because I bought my ticket on an external platform. I was fighting hard, but I made it.

Even more complicated was to tell the airlines that I wanted a meet and assist service. First, I was chatting with a bot who did not understand a word of what I was telling him or her. But I managed to kind of escalate my request to a living person, still in the online chat. This lady was cooperative and said she would register for me the meet and assist service.

I thought I would get a confirmation email about it, or at least I would see my request registered when I do the online check-in. No, there was no sign that the company knows about me as a special need passenger.

After some more investigation on the website of Brussels Airlines, I finally found an email address to indicate such needs as mine to the company. I should have begun by doing this because in less than 5 minutes after I sent my message, a friendly confirmation came back from a living person that they had registered my request.

When I arrived at the airport in Budapest and found the check-in desk with some help from a Polish tourist, they seemed to know about my arrival. From now on, I had no problem with my voyage.

So I would say the area where there’s a lot of room for improvement is the online purchasing and the communication with the airline.

Thanks for bringing up this topic, and for all the work you do in order to provide us with high-quality content week by week. I hope when Google Podcast application is gone, a little more than 1 month from now, I will find another comfortable app to keep on listening to you in Android.

All the best from Budapest.”

What a great line that is. Thank you very much, Peter.

I hope you find something, too. I do hear people talking positively about Podcast Addict on Android. Don’t know if you’ve given that one a go. But hopefully, it will work for you because we want you to keep listening.

Caller: Hello, Jonathan and Living Blindfully listeners! My name is Dulcie Weisenborn, and I’m listening to the podcast about airline stories. I have my share of not so nice stories, but I have a phenomenally positive story about United Airlines.

In 2017, I was returning from Rome, Italy. My husband had to return to the States earlier than I did.

And as I got on the plane, priority boarding, of course, the senior flight attendant said to me, “Who is your beautiful companion?”

And I said, “Oh, this is Sparky, the spark man.”

She said, “Well, he’s quite lovely, but he’s much too large for your seat and the row that you’re in.”

So she moved me to 1A on the bulkhead in first class. I was the only one in my row. I had a credenza. They put down a blanket, pillows, made a sign saying, “Please be beware of Sparky’s nose and toes.”, And they spoiled me from Rome to Chicago for the next 10 hours. I was wined and dined with Sundays, and pre-drinks, and post-drinks and whatever, Sundays.

When it came time to turn my seat into a bed, I said, “Oh, that’d be great. Then Sparky could sleep underneath the bed.”

“Oh no,”, they said. “We don’t like that idea.” I have pictures of me flying across the Atlantic with Sparky in bed with me, head on the pillow, under the blankets. I have never been treated so royally as that day.

So that was probably the most amazing airline story I could have possibly imagined. Just wanted to share that. Of course, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime event.

In any event, thank you, Jonathan, for all that you do for us, for the community, for your clarity, for your humanity.


Caller: Hello, Jonathan! My name is BJB, and I’m in the United States.

I am an accessibility tester for a major United States airline, and we have worked very recently on the Meet and Assist and its internal terminology.

Because I have tested, and I have had results all my life of, “Oh, you’re blind. That means you need a wheelchair.”, even though I myself walk onto the plane and walk off the plane. [laughs]

And so the reasoning that they give is that, “Oh, you know, the SkyCap has the wheelchair anyway, so why not just use that?”

Whereas what I tell them is that’s not going to work. It’s a thorny issue because the National Federation of the Blind has fought vehemently against this as well.

So I have a bit of an internal airline perspective, and that it’s all about self-advocacy. It’s all about doing what David Lepofsky does and did in that presentation that he gave on your show on Saturday. And work must be done within the airlines if there are any blind, visually impaired employees of airlines, we, they, you all need to advocate within your airline for this, because that will affect the guide dog in the window seat down in New Zealand. That will affect, “Oh, you’re blind. You must be in need of a wheelchair.”, even though your meeting assist doesn’t indicate this. And other annoyances that we have as BVI people.

Thank you for your show, Jonathan!

Hope Sonos gets a lot better soon. I love Sonos.

Do stay warm, and do stay reckless. It is 35 degrees centigrade, and it is beautiful.

Jonathan: We’re saying hello to Marc Grossman. He says:

“Thanks for surfacing so many important issues in recent episodes.

While I don’t own any Sonos products, the company and its CEO should be ashamed of their recent debacle. The only saving grace in my mind is that the general public is also disappointed with the release of the new Sonos app. I work in accessibility for a mainstream US technology company, and we have accessibility discussions on a daily basis. There really is no excuse whatsoever for the company releasing this product, nor the way they have handled the public relations.

Secondly, I live in South Florida and recently took my 11-year-old son to a Miami Marlins game. I found the accommodations page on the Marlins website, but there was no mention of stadium listening devices for blind and visually impaired fans. I brought my AM-FM radio with the idea of listening to the game. Unfortunately, there was no radio signal to be had. Not sure if it was the concrete and steel of the indoor stadium, or an intentional blackout of the game. I would have used my iPhone with the SiriusXM app, but did not want to drain my battery, as I did not bring a portable charger and needed the phone to navigate home with public transit. Because my son was so excited about the game, and I did not want to take him to wander around the concourse and miss part of the action, I decided not to go looking for a guest relations booth to inquire about a listening device. Next time, I will either bring the spare charger or phone ahead to the club to inquire about a listening device.

On the bright side, my son got to try his hand at being a baseball play-by-play announcer. Who knows? Maybe he has a future career in broadcasting.

I had a similar experience at an NBA game in Miami.

Finally, I listened to the testimony you shared about air travel in Canada. I fly alone frequently by myself, and echo the sentiments of many of your listeners that air travel can either be a total disaster, or a complete joy. For that reason, I tend to arrive earlier than I would like, in order to avoid too many mishaps.

You asked about good travel experiences, and I can share one with you.

I flew to Tel Aviv as a solo traveler 2 summers ago. I had my white cane, and had informed American Airlines ahead of arriving at the airport.

On departure day in Miami, I was escorted to a lounge for people with disabilities and unaccompanied minors. At first, I was annoyed because I did not like being segregated. It turned out that because there is additional security for flights to Israel, I was not allowed to be at the gate so early. My escort displayed excellent customer service, offering to guide me in my preferred manner, asking me what type of seat I would like in the lounge, asking if I needed the restroom, and offering me water. The lounge had an attendant, and I was able to inquire about the status of my flight. I was promptly escorted through the additional security and taken to the gate when the time was right.

Upon arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport, a representative escorted me all the way through passport control, customs, and finally, to baggage. In fact, I asked if they could assist me to the train, and they absolutely obliged me and guided me to the correct platform where I took the train to meet my family.

On a side note, the new train system in Tel Aviv has automated announcements in 3 languages.

One last comment on the testimony you shared. While I can appreciate that government agencies and inquiries have to follow procedures, it is mind-boggling to hear the government officials asking the professor the same questions over and over, and getting the same answers. This is what drives me crazy about government agencies. The professor said everything he needed to say in the first 5 minutes. It is as if they just wanted to hear themselves talk. I don’t say this to disparage government officials, but just want to point out how frustrating it can be when it seems as if people do not take people with disabilities seriously.

Keep up the great podcast.”

Thank you, Marc. Good to hear from you.

And Catherine Getchell writes in and says:

“Hi, Jonathan,

Hope you’re well, and that you’re enjoying some cooler (though not too cold) weather these days.”

It is getting colder here. We’ve had some pretty nippy nights, I have to tell you.

She says:

“I’m following with interest the conversation around the experiences of blind people when flying.

I live in the US. And while I generally have no problem getting meet and assist, there have been some profoundly awkward moments, of which I’ll share 3 here.

First, I’ve noticed that common courtesy can go out the window when meet and assist personnel are guiding us. They sometimes think it’s appropriate to ask what my eye condition is, or why I lost my vision. I don’t bother to explain that I didn’t lose my vision because I never had it. I simply tell them, hopefully with a smile, that this is a personal question. At that point, they seem to catch themselves and realize their mistake.

But I think it’s rather like the experience some pregnant people have, where strangers suddenly think it’s okay to touch their bellies or ask them personal questions.

Why does the presence of a disability sometimes make other people forget their manners? Do they think they’re somehow entitled to have their curiosity satisfied because they’re guiding us?

The second issue is around tipping. I believe that many meet and assist personnel expect a tip when they’ve gotten us to our destination. I realize they are probably not paid enough, but I don’t feel that’s our problem to solve. We’re entitled to the accommodation, and should not be made to feel pressured to pay for it. It is the airports’ and airlines’ responsibility, just as with any other employee, to pay workers a living wage. I carry all my luggage, so all they’re doing is guiding me.

If you fly a lot and don’t have non-stop flights, you will probably interact with at least 6 to 10 guides throughout your round-trip flight, and tipping each of them adds up, even if you only tip each one a few dollars. Plus these days, I hardly ever use cash, so I would have to make a special point before a trip to exchange 20s for smaller bills, and have enough to tip all the guides. Granted, if there’s an extraordinary situation and a guide goes out of their way to help me with something unusual, I will tip.

What are your and other listeners’ thoughts on the tipping situation?”

I just have to get used to the tipping culture whenever I’m in a country that tips, because we really don’t. There are some American companies like Uber that are trying to make tipping a thing here, and a lot of New Zealanders are resisting it because we’ve never tipped. We used to have (I’m not sure if they still exist) big signs out of the airport saying, “In New Zealand, we don’t tip.”

But I’ve heard different schools of thought on this. I was told before I went to the United States by myself for the first time, which was many years ago now, that you don’t tip for an accommodation. You don’t tip for meet and assist.

And some people have said ah, nonsense, nonsense. They hardly get anything. You should tip them. So I don’t know.

Catherine says:

“The last awkward situation I want to write about happened when I was traveling to Qatar.”

And she’s given me a little pronunciation guide. But I’ve actually been there too, Catherine, so I know how to pronounce it.

“The airline Qatar Airways was ready to provide meet and assist for me when I arrived, but they told me that I would need to use a wheelchair because the available guide was male. In Muslim cultures, people of opposite gender do not touch each other unless they are family members. I should have anticipated this potential issue, but had not thought of it.

Luckily, I was not in a hurry, and I opted to simply wait until a female guide became available. But if I had been in a rush, or if no female guides were on shift at that time, I think I would have had to do something I never do ? sit in a wheelchair, out of respect for the cultural and religious imperatives of the guides.

Has anyone else experienced this?

Lastly, a quick note to your listener, Robin Williams, who was thinking about a trip to Pittsburgh to take in some sporting events. Robin, I’m not a sports fan so I can’t speak to the accessibility of Pirates, Penguins, and Steelers radio coverage, but I am a very proud Pittsburgher,”

It sounds like something you eat, but apparently not.

“and absolutely love showing people around the city. It’s an amazing pedestrian-friendly town, with tons to do. So if you plan a trip here, please do contact me and tell me when you’re coming, and I would be delighted to help you figure out where to stay, how to get around, and even meet up with you for a tour.

Jonathan, please pass along my email address to Robin.

Thank you so much. And as always, I love your podcast.”

Thank you, Catherine. Great email.

And over to Ian Harrison we go.

“In response to your request for airline experiences, I have 3 comments to make.

  1. Even though I normally travel with sighted assistance, it is the lack of consistency between airports, airlines, and even the day of the week that causes us stress or confusion.
  2. Two stories that brightened my life.

On a return from Mexico last year Using TUI, a major travel company in Europe with its own planes, my wife and I were unable to get seats together. Once on the plane, we explained that this could be a problem for me.

After takeoff, the head steward not only arranged for us to sit together, but also put us in premium class. This made our companions extremely jealous, as you can imagine.

  1. A few years ago, on a low-cost airline in the UK, I was greeted at the top of the steps into a plane when a cheerful young steward gravely asked me if I had any sight at all, or was totally blind. I said I was totally blind, and he responded with an even more cheerful, “Brilliant!” We giggled about it all the way to our destination.
  2. this year, on returning from Madrid, we approached the usual massive queues for security, etc. with a heavy heart. An airport worker came up and insisted on walking us to the front of the line.

When we said it was okay, as we felt everyone’s eyes on us, the lady replied that in Madrid, it is illegal to allow a disabled person to queue. I don’t know if this is true, or just got lost in the translation.”

Goodness! I’d love to know.

Thank you, Ian.

Love travel stories! I’ve got plenty of them myself.


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Microsoft Natural Voices for SAPI 5

A number of us have been asking Microsoft and asking each other, when, if ever, will the Microsoft natural voices that some people really do seem to like be available to third-party screen readers? Microsoft ain’t saying. But Christopher Wright is talking, and he says:

“This little project recently came to my attention, and it’s very interesting. It essentially allows you to use the Microsoft Natural Voices with an application that supports SAPI 5.

Instructions are provided on the GitHub page. It even works on Windows 10, as long as you download the local copies of the Windows 11 voices from the Microsoft Store.

You can also use the Microsoft Edge voices, though they’re very unresponsive, as you’d expect, and require an internet connection.

Unlike the local voices, they don’t seem very good for reading text. I tried selecting one as the default voice in Bookworm, and it refused to work. Using the say all command in NVDA only gets the current line.

I have no idea how well these would work with JAWS. Though last I checked, the SAPI implementation was very buggy and caused JAWS to crash alarmingly frequently. To be fair, I’m not a JAWS user, and the last version I tried was JAWS 11?”

That’s a while ago, dude. It’s a while ago.

“and the NeoSpeech Kate voice, but I wasn’t impressed.

Since this is essentially a hack and not official, it may stop working due to changes made in Windows updates. Still, it’s an interesting workaround to allow us to use these high-quality voices with anything other than Narrator. Hopefully, Microsoft will provide an API so applications can directly hook into these, but that day isn’t here yet.”

Now, this is a long URL, so I’m not going to try and read it out. But you might like to Google for (or Bing, given that we’re talking Microsoft) for Microsoft Natural Voices for SAPI 5. I’ll endeavor to remember to put a link in the show notes, for anyone interested in having a play with this.

The Victor Reader Stream 3

Caller: Hi, Jonathan! Walt Smith in Seminole, Florida.

Just wanted to pass along some information regarding purchase of the new Victor Reader Stream.

If people purchase it directly from Humanware, they’re going to spend an awful lot of money for shipping and taxes. When I priced it, it was going to cost $63 over and above the base purchase price.

I purchased mine from Maxi Aids, and saved the entire $63. I’m sure that applies to other places in the United States that sell the Stream. So people can save a great deal of money by not purchasing directly from Humanware.

I’ve got a problem. I don’t have an active Audible account anymore, but I do have a sizable library there. And of course, the books are still available.

I followed the instructions precisely as they were given in the article you did with the gentleman from Humanware ? downloaded the latest version of Audible Sync, put it on my PC, got the Stream 3 authorized, everything set up.

Well, today, I went in and downloaded a couple of books. They showed up. They’re on the Stream 3, as they ought to be. But every time I try to read one, it says “You are not authorized to read this book.”

I don’t know what’s going on. But if anybody else has tried this and got it to work, I’d be very interested in hearing so. I don’t think I did anything out of line, but I’ll look for any answers.

Jonathan: And I tell you, Walt is multimodal because he’s also sent email on this subject. He says:

“I’ve had my Stream 3 for just a few days. But with even this relatively short period of use, I’ve got several opinions ? some positive, and others not so.

First, the positives.

I like the smaller size as compared to the earlier Stream models. This one is literally small enough to carry quite easily in a pocket or purse.

I very much like the fact that I can download and install multiple voices for both content and menus and switch among them. But I wish there was some way, either on the stream itself or online at the Humanware website, to sample the individual voices without having to go through the hassle of downloading and installing a new voice, only to try it out.

The new Stream seems to download podcasts and other web content like books from BARD and Bookshare faster than my older one.

I really like the addition of chapter navigation in podcasts, like Living Blindfully, that make use of them.

The entirely new method of setting the various device options took some getting used to. But after a bit of practice, I prefer it to the older system.

The incorporation of Bluetooth technology is a definite plus, as is the significantly increased amount of internal memory.

The additional tactile markings on several of the keys, especially those on the 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8 keys definitely helps when entering text into search fields and website login fields.

Incorporation of a USB-C connection is definitely a plus, but I sort of wish that Humanware had included a micro USB to USB-C adapter in the box, since a lot of customers either have older models of the Stream and could benefit by being able to use the older charger on the new device, or have the older cables that shipped with the Stream 2.

Now, to the items I’m not pleased with.

The loss of detailed information when pressing the 5 key when listening to music emanating from a radio station irritates me no end frequently. I want to know the artist or song title, and I miss this in the new Stream.

Another loss of function that I don’t like is the fact that, unlike on the Stream 2, holding down the 4 and 6 keys when in a list such as a directory of downloaded books no longer will jump 10 items at a time.

Yet another altered key function that I don’t care for is the swapping of the way the date and time key functions. In the past, the first press delivered the time and date, info, and a slightly longer press initiated the sleep function, and I frankly don’t like the fact that this has been reversed.

I absolutely despise the location of the headphone jack and speaker for reasons that others have previously commented on.

I don’t like the fact that a battery replacement now requires returning the device to Humanware for reasons that are similar to those Jonathan has, concerning rechargeable hearing aids.

Another change that is taking me a long time to get used to is that pressing the start button when in an edit field such as in Wikipedia or the search fields at BARD has been replaced by pressing the confirm key.

On balance, I do like the Stream 3. But I’m like Jonathan, when it comes to the actual loss of previous functionality that was working perfectly well, and that was useful.

I have no idea to what extent Humanware makes use of experienced beta testers when developing new or revised versions of their products, but I can’t quite believe that some of the changes in the new stream weren’t seriously objected to by any testers with previous stream experience during the development stage.”

Thank you, Walt!

We always welcome opinions on these sorts of technologies. So if you have one on your Victor Reader Stream,, if you want to get in touch. Or 864-60-Mosen on the phone. 864-606-6736 in the United States.

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Let’s return to the subject of This is the service in the US that takes you through a not very accessible process to verify your identity.

And Randy Reed is writing in again about this. He says:

“I wanted to quickly contribute to the situation I described concerning I am responding to the person who wanted my contact info so we could swap stories.

Users who wish to submit their experiences can visit”

That’s all one word,

“There are reply by email and Mastodon links on the page.

People who would like an alternative method can email to share their experiences.

The most helpful thing they can do, of course, is file their own cases with the Department of Justice.”

Yeah. I had something similar happen to me just a few weeks ago, actually.

I had to go through an anti-money laundering check thing before I could transact some business.

Now, you can go to a Justice of the Peace and do various other things. But if you wanted to avail yourself of the automated process, you had to take a photo of yourself full on like a selfie, passport style. And then, you had to take a photo of your face at a 45 degree angle. And finally, you had to take a photo of certain pages of your passport.

I thought oi, I’ll get a staff member at work to help me with this. And I did that. And I’m very fortunate that I have the ability to draw on that sighted assistance.

Had I had a bit more time (and I’ve just been absolutely full tilt of late), I would have tried it. I would have spent, you know, an hour or 2, seeing if I could have made it work. But time just isn’t on my side right now, in terms of allocating that time to it. So I took the easy way out. But these things do seem to be an emerging trend.

Cochlea Implants, Android, and Readers

Here’s a chatty little email from Chris Westbrook, who says:

“First, I wanted to say that I really enjoy the podcast.

Thought I would send in my thoughts on a few things.

  1. Hearing aids.

I have been listening with interest to your hearing aid journey, and I thought I would give my experience with a Cochlear implant. I can only speak for the Cochlear brand of cochlear implant, as I picked this device in part because of their technology compatibility.

They have an accessory called the MiniMic, which is a device with a microphone that can be clipped to a shirt. This device also has a headphone jack, your favorite,” [laughs] “so you can plug in a sound source. Latency is pretty low.

The Cochlear implants are MFI, so work great with Apple equipment, and they also work with recent Android models directly as well.

Unfortunately, at least with my particular Samsung Galaxy S21, I have noticed a lot of cutting out on Bluetooth, even with the latest updates applied. One of many reasons I will not be switching to Android, as mentioned below.”

Chris, just to stop and confirm that I have heard a lot of people expressing frustration with hearing aid compatibility under Android, yes.

“2. Android.

I still think Apple is miles ahead of Android. I still can’t use my Brailliant BI40 with Bluetooth with Android according to the user guide, and the cutting out I experience is way worse on Android.

  1. New topic ? use of readers/sighted people. I’m afraid sometimes, we as blind people tend to be almost too independent.

I was interviewing for a job with another blind person, and I mentioned that in my experience as a web developer, I always source the visual design of a website to a sighted person after I complete coding the functionality.

He commented that he found that interesting, saying that a lot of blind people wanted a total to take care of that for them.

I’m afraid, at least for the foreseeable future, the best way to ensure that something looks good is to ask a sighted person.

Again, I really appreciate the show, and perhaps we can meet in Orlando.”

Well, that would be fun. Thank you, Chris! Good to get your thoughts.

Accessibility Issues on the ElevenLabs Website

Justin Daubenmire writes:

“Hi, Jonathan,

Have you had any success in getting ElevenLabs to commit to increasing accessibility on their website? I couldn’t even submit a support ticket without sighted assistance.

I created a professional version of my voice, but the graphic for sentences needed for validation isn’t accessible.

Interestingly, for 3 days, the alt tag was populated, and JAWS read it. I was able to repeat it and authorize myself. However, then, they removed the alt tag.

Looking forward to your response.”

Justin, I haven’t had too much dialog with ElevenLabs of late, other than to say I do recall when they offered this cloning feature to blind people. They knew there was an accessibility issue, and they offered some sort of alternative way for this to be done. I’m a bit vague on the details now because I did my professional cloning some time ago. I went through their procedure, and it did work for me.

But undoubtedly, they could do a bit better on the accessibility front. And we did have a very disgruntled listener from a few months ago who was extensively using ElevenLabs and cancelled, because of the website.

How’s everybody else getting on with it? 864-60-Mosen, if you want to chime in on this. 864-606-6736, or

No One Should Subscribe to Voice Dream Reader

Here’s an email from Kelby Carlson with the subject line no one should subscribe to Voice Dream Reader. He says:

“Hi, Jonathan,

While I am relieved that Applause Group did decide to follow Apple’s app guidelines by ensuring prior purchases of the app could still use existing features, I submit that those who are considering subscribing to Voice Dream Reader to support the app should not do so.

Since Applause took over the app, but especially in the last month or so, far too many bugs have been introduced and not fixed in a timely fashion, or only fixed after they have been reported by multiple users. While occasionally this is excusable, this is happening with such frequency that I can only assume that releases of the app are not being beta tested before being made public.

Just a few of the recent bugs that have been fixed, and in some cases have not been fixed yet: inability to download Bookshare books within the app, inability to change speed in audiobooks, many audiobooks skipping chapters, inability to add files from OneDrive. Even worse, Applause has now introduced a new “feature” that breaks the navigation control buttons that have worked for years, now requiring more steps to use them.

Again, while every company has to deal with bugs, Applause are continually releasing buggy upgrades that have obviously not been tested. We should not keep providing them with our money until we can be sure they will give us our money’s worth, which means a stable app that does not break existing features or remove them for no reason when the community has not requested they do so.”

Thanks, Kelby.

It has been a bit of a rocky road of late with the old Voice Dream Reader, hasn’t it? I’m not quite sure what’s going on there. But it is certainly frustrating to download an update that seems innocuous enough, only to find that one or potentially multiple features don’t work like they used to, or don’t work at all.

The navigation feature you mentioned, which was pretty ingeniously designed by Winston, for those who aren’t aware of it, is where you get to a button and you can not only double tap that button, you can also swipe up and down, like it’s kind of an actions rotor type thing, or a picker. It’s very cool, and that was an easy way to choose what you were navigating by. And then, you could swipe up and down on the play button to navigate by that unit. I believe that now has been fixed so it’s the way it was again.

But I’m not sure why so many things are breaking and requiring fixing because that’s not progress, it’s kind of one step forward and two steps back.

The Kindle features are in beta now, so we are seeing something tangible there for our subscriptions. I do hope it settles down, for sure.

New Windows ARM Computers

Caller: Hey, everybody. Alex here again. Once again, decided to contribute to the discussion about accessibility and the consequences of what happens if we don’t stand up as a community. , Well, first of all, on the positive note, I’m very pleased that Zoom has offered these button layouts. I have to take a look at them to see when I get my Zoom H1. My birthday is not yet, but it’s fast approaching, and that’s what I’m still planning to get, the Zoom H1 handy recorder.

The speakers that we’ve been talking about a lot, I don’t know. I don’t have them. I’ve never even heard of them until this show. I think you’re calling it, I’m not sure how it’s pronounced, Sonos, Sonos. You know, I don’t have a New Zealand accent, so I’m not sure if I’m saying it right. So pardon me.

But I agree with Alastair Mad-Eye Moody. “Constant vigilance, Potter.” Anyway, that’s my Harry Potter for the day.

So you know, with the accessibility thing, having to try to all work together to try to bring back the accessibility, that leads to something that I’ve been finding out today in the Microsoft Build Conference.

So apparently, my understanding is in the Microsoft build conference, they were showing off what they’re going to be doing with the next steps of Windows 11 which sounds okay, but could be concerning because they’re really trying to do a revolution and trying to push the ARM-based systems. And that in itself, I don’t know if that would be a problem.

But what I do know from the build conference, from what I’ve been told and what I’ve heard on Youtube and read a little bit about is that they’re trying to isolate their partners ? Intel, Qualcomm, and the Snapdragon. Is it Dragon Snap, or Snapdragon, the chips? And I guess I’m not sure if they were uninvited to the Build Conference or weren’t allowed to speak, but it sounded like Microsoft tried to shun them from whatever they were doing. And I think that Intel and them are all mad, and NVIDIA wasn’t even mentioned.

So my concern to you and everyone else is if this can happen with chip makers and partners, could this be another constant vigilance battle approaching with accessibility? Because they’re trying to really push this ARM. And AI is great and everything, but if they’re going to rush and push these things out and they’re going to isolate their chip manufacturers, ?

I’m curious what you think on this. Yes, I know that Microsoft has an accessibility team. I know about that. But are they going to try to get around the team, and not listen to them and all this?

They really got a mess to clean up here because Windows 11 wasn’t that successful. And people are counting on a better outcome to Windows 11 in the future. I don’t think there’s going to be any Windows 12 this year.

So Microsoft’s taking a huge gamble. It seems like they’re going to do whatever it takes in this gamble.

I’m curious what you think about that. If you think we’re in for another accessibility battle with Microsoft, or if you think we’re going to be okay.

Because you know, we only have one good Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in Mad-Eye Moody, and we may need several. We may need to bring in Remus Lupin and such to try to help us organize to make sure that we can keep our accessibility going as well.

Jonathan: Well first, Alex, happy birthday when it arrives. And to ensure that it is a happy birthday for you, just a caution there, the unit that you want that’s accessible is the H1 Essential. I make this point to people because there is an older H1, the H1N, that does not have these accessibility features. Sometimes, people find these at bargain basement prices, and they think ah, groovy! I can get a bargain. And they get their H1N delivered, and it doesn’t talk. And it’s very upsetting for them because they got the wrong thing. So when it’s time to buy, be sure it is the H1 Essential that you are buying, and then you’ll have the talking one.

To the rest of your message, I’m finding it difficult to respond to it, really, because I just don’t know what you mean. [laughs]

NVIDIA was at Microsoft. You can Google this (or Bing it probably, because we’re talking Microsoft), and they gave all kinds of presentations at Microsoft Build. So they were there.

I read quite a lot of tech news, and I haven’t picked up on anybody saying that any manufacturer felt particularly alienated.

I think it is true that Intel and AMD are being a bit challenged by the proliferation of new ARM-based Windows devices, but we knew this was coming. I mentioned last year, I believe it was, or maybe earlier this year, that by mid-year, we were going to see an exciting new era of Windows laptops.

Rather than being concerned about it, I really am pretty jazzed about it. Some of this new AI technology, where it’s all on device so nothing’s going to the cloud, is going to be fantastic, in terms of efficiency ? locating that presentation you gave where you mentioned a specific thing, or that email that you sent to a person on such and such, and you can go through your timeline. We’ve actually posted about this on Mastodon, on the Living Blindfully account, a very interesting article that tells you how this new system works in Windows 11.

So I don’t think there’s any need to worry. JAWS for ARM has been working for quite some time now. And I do know of people who are using ARM laptops relatively successfully.

I’ve kind of been thinking of dabbling in this, and I see that there is a new ThinkPad model from Lenovo with all of this new technology, and there is an HP.

Obviously, Microsoft’s new Surface is using ARM, and the advantage of this is that they’re so power-efficient, so you get excellent battery life, possibly comparable to the MacBooks, which just have brilliant battery life.

A lot of them have built-in cellular connectivity, and that’s a big advantage of these devices that the Macs don’t have. It’s always made me curious that even though you can get iPads with cellular connectivity, for whatever reason, Apple has chosen not to give us Macs with cellular connectivity. That’s a very strange decision to me.

So I’m looking forward to finding out about how these perform in the real world in terms of accessibility.

I don’t think there are really any issues with Windows 11. It’s in great shape. I’ve been using Windows 11 for a very long time. I don’t find any major accessibility challenges with the operating system.

And Microsoft is very much engaged. They are engaged with third-party developers. And significantly, they’re also engaged with the blind community.

Of all of these big companies that now are taking an interest in our lives, I think Microsoft is the most engaged, the most open of all of them. I’d put Google next, and Apple last, in terms of engagement.

But that’s part of Apple’s culture. They’ve always been quite a secretive company, and they tend not to reach out.

But Microsoft’s in great shape, I think, from an accessibility perspective.

But really, if your computer’s been working well the last few years, why would you upgrade? Because there’s really been not a lot of innovation of late.

Now though, it looks like there is. So it means that Windows computers are getting interesting again, that we really are seeing some innovations that might make us think, “Hmm. Maybe I should try and budget to upgrade my computer.” because it’s not just more of the same ? slightly faster processor, maybe some more RAM, faster solid state drive. But really cool new things that could make a material difference, a material improvement to our lives.

So no, I’m not pessimistic at all about this new thing. I am very much looking forward to seeing where it goes. And I suspect that maybe in a year or 2, if I can hold out that long, I’ll probably grab a ThinkPad. We’ll eventually get one like the X1 Carbon that will run an ARM processor. We’ll see how it goes.

If anybody is listening who is running ARM on Windows at the moment and using JAWS with it, it would be great to hear how that is actually working in the real world ? whether you see any fishhooks, or whether it’s overall a pretty good experience., or 864-60-Mosen, if you want to give us a call in the US. 864-606-6736.


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Glen Gordon From Vispero Discusses JAWS and ARM Processors

Many Windows users have turned green with envy at the impressive performance and battery life of Apple’s M family of processors, and they are based on ARM architecture.

While there have been Windows computers running ARM processors for quite a while now, I’ve been suggesting that this year would be the year that we’d see a wide range of attractive options come on the scene. And recently, Microsoft, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, and other computer manufacturers have announced some powerful, stylish new computers based on ARM.

So what does it mean for us as blind computer users? One thing is clear. It means more choice in a world of often baffling, geeky specifications when we just have to choose the computer that’s right for us. We’ve got to wade through some more stuff.

So to make sense of this, I’m joined by Glen Gordon. He is the father of JAWS, of course, and still making a difference at Freedom Scientific, which is a company of Vispero.

Glen, it’s good to have you back on the show. Hi there.

Glen: Great to be with you, Jonathan.

And your timing could not have been better. Because on the May FSCast, I interviewed Gordon Leg. And so by the time this is over, I will have contributed an arm and a leg to the process.

Jonathan: [laughs] Dear me! Bad puns. Alright, let’s get it on the road here.

Can you start off by explaining what ARM processors are, and how they differ from traditional Intel and AMD processors?

Glen: So we’ve all come to know and love AMD and Intel x86 or x64, as it’s often called. But ARM has sort of been a parallel universe that’s popped up over really, the long haul. They’ve been around for a long time. It’s just not been in the Windows arena.

It’s a different processor, you know. If you think of it in terms of people who speak different languages, if you think of AMD and Intel as being English, and ARM as being Estonian, that pretty much makes sense. You can’t really run a program designed for one on the other. At least you couldn’t, until relatively recently.

So that’s what Microsoft has done. They have bridged the gap, as Apple has and as Linux has, from x86 to this new ARM64 line of processors, and that offers a variety of benefits. , a Jonathan: Why has there been a recent increase in the adoption of ARM processors in Windows computers?

Glen: Because the Intel AMD folks have never managed the power consumption issue satisfactorily.

The reason why phones (yes, I forgot about phones and tablets are also running on ARM) is because of the much more modest power drain, as compared to x86. And so I think Microsoft is wanting to compete with those who have devices that can run for much longer without a charge. And the only way they can get there is by switching to ARM.

Jonathan: Can you talk about any performance improvements or limitations, for that matter, that ARM processors might bring to users of JAWS?

Glen: There are a couple of people who’ve reported to me that they are running JAWS on Macs running ARM, and they have said it’s the best JAWS performance they have ever seen and the best Windows performance they have ever seen. And this is with the current generation of Macs running Parallel with Windows running as a guest operating system, and they couldn’t stop raving about it.

I think we need to be a little bit careful about the potential benefits because there are a lot of variables in the mix. The first one is, are the apps that you’re running actually natively compiled for ARM? Because one of the ways that Microsoft has made some moves into this arena is by allowing apps that weren’t designed for ARM (my English versus Estonian analogy here), they’ve come up with ways of running traditional Windows apps on the ARM processor without recompiling. But that’s considered emulation mode, and it is noticeably slower. Though they claim the new breed of chips will emulate faster, it’s still emulation. So if you want the best performance, you need to run ARM versions of your apps whenever possible.

And fortunately, all the popular apps ? Office, Firefox, Edge, and relatively recently, Chrome, all have native ARM64 builds of their software. So if that’s what you’re running, you’ll probably get perfect performance. If you’re needing to run an emulation mode, it’s still quite reasonable.

We had some work done at the house a couple of months ago, and were without power for many hours. I had to edit FSCast. It turns out I have one of the original Surface Xs that run ARM64. I put Reaper on it, and was able to edit for multiple hours, and didn’t experience any hiccups. And Reaper doesn’t have a native ARM64 build.

So it’s not the end of the world. It’s just not perfect to have an emulated app.

Jonathan: You talked about JAWS running on Macs. I can recall when I had an Intel Mac. Even then, the Mac experience was pretty amazing when you ran JAWS on it. So it’s interesting to hear that Parallels on ARM processors is doing a similar thing.

One of the big differences though, is that in the Intel days, Apple had a piece of software called BootCamp, and you could divide your hard drive into two separate operating systems. So you could boot all the way into Windows, or you could boot all the way into MacOS. You could also choose to run a virtual machine, so you were running both at the same time. BootCamp is not an option yet on the M Mac processors. So the only way to run Windows and JAWS on a Mac is through a virtual machine.

People tell me latency is not quite as bad. And when we talk about latency, we mean delay, essentially. That really used to get me when I was running a virtual machine on an Intel Mac. But I understand the latency is even better now with ARM.

Glen: Yes, I have heard that the latency is better, but I have not experienced this firsthand. And before people get too excited about running Windows on ARM with Parallels, there are some quirks. and apparently, one of them is not all the UAC screens speak properly. And I have not had firsthand experience with this, but there are wrinkles that one must work through. It is not a perfect experience.

Jonathan: Okay, a bit of a segue here. One of the first things that I do when I set a Windows computer up is turn that damn thing off. Why should I leave UAC on?

Glen: You are really skirting with danger. [laughs]

Jonathan: But my sanity is saved.

Glen: Well, perhaps. You see, here’s the part that I don’t fully understand. If you are logged in as an administrator, all you need to do is hit Alt Y. How is that a problematic move?

Jonathan: But why is it benefiting from me? I’ve been running with UAC switched off forever because the prompts, I often find there’s a bit of a delay before the prompt comes up. What’s it doing for me that as a sensible computer user who doesn’t go where they shouldn’t, who has good antivirus software installed, it just seems to me to be a waste of time, and an annoyance, and an encumbrance.

Glen: I think the problem is you may have a situation where you inadvertently make a mistake, and something gets on your system and is potentially allowed to run, which, if you had UAC enabled, there would be a little bit of a guardrail that would prevent it from running, and you might have an opportunity to prevent it from happening. It’s not a guarantee, but it is kind of flirting with danger.

I, for one, have it on. And the reason that I have it on is because now and then, I will activate a file by mistake. I will do something wrong. Just, you know, in the process of getting things done quickly, we don’t always think before we enter. [laughs]

Jonathan: So give me an example of the something wrong that you’re doing that UAC protects you from.

Glen: Oh, you would ask about that.

Jonathan: I would. Because I just find it so intrusive and annoying, and I just don’t see what value it’s adding.

Glen: I should have researched this better. I don’t know that I have a perfect answer. I have a gut level, and my gut level is something relatively simple to have in place. I mean, the whole idea behind UAC originally was to prevent rogue apps from launching that It required those rights without any kind of user interaction.

Jonathan: Right.

Glen: Now, admittedly, most of the exploits are not going to be saved by UAC. So from that standpoint, maybe you are correct. But there are some situations where getting a prompt makes me feel safer.

Jonathan: Interesting. Interesting, because I have Eset running. And sometimes, it warns me about things. So I’m thinking well, the UAC is kind of superfluous. It’s just intruding and preventing me from doing what I want to do with my computer.

Glen: So maybe we pick our poison, because I don’t really want to run a third-party antivirus. I sort of think antivirus software is, in many ways, a thing of the past, in that viruses morph so quickly that it’s really hard to catch lots of things. And so I’m just as happy running Windows Defender, but I have UAC on. Maybe your trade-off is you’ll run Eset and have UAC off.

Jonathan: Interesting. Now, that’s a good discussion.

Now, during the early days of JAWS for ARM processors, and I think you and I talked about this when you were doing some beta testing, it was a separate install. So users had to know what kind of computer they had. And if they wanted an ARM version of JAWS, they had to go and get that specific version.

But now, it’s all bundled into the one install, right?

Glen: It is, assuming you’re using the connected install. And the way we define connected install is you download a relatively small file, and that launches, and then it downloads the components that are needed based upon the operating system that you’re running, and also the things that you’ve previously installed.

So we actually download an Intel app. So it runs with emulation so that it can run on every platform that JAWS runs on, and it’ll in turn download the components, and then by the time the installer is finished, what you’re running is ARM if you’re on ARM64. And I should say probably at this point that we’ve tried really hard to make all the parts of JAWS native ARM64 that we possibly can. The only parts of JAWS that are not native ARM64 are those that actually get run when we’re interacting with an emulated x86 app. So we’ve done our best to try to make things as fast as they can be.

Jonathan: And is what you’re doing with JAWS typical?

So if I want to install Chrome, for instance, or some sort of app, I guess Microsoft Office is another example where if I get a new computer, I’ll probably have to install that.

Do you have to go looking for the ARM version, or do the installers usually now know that you are running ARM and it will do the right thing?

Glen: I have not tried it with Google Chrome, but my suspicion is that the Chrome updater is smart enough to take people from x64 to ARM64. Because if you read their blurb about why they switched to ARM64, it was to give people a performance boost. And the average user is not going to go uninstall their x64 version of Chrome and install ARM64. So I would expect that that happens automatically.

The Office question is a more difficult one. Because in some cases, when you get an ARM machine, or a Windows machine for that matter, Office is pre-installed. You know, you’ll get a trial of Office that you can activate if you buy it. And at least in the old days, like 2 or 3 years ago and beyond, they would install the Windows x86 version of Office. And in that case, that stays installed until you actually uninstall it and install the ARM64 version. So I don’t know if things have changed since I experienced this. But actually, on my Surface X that I had updated to Windows 11, it had x86 Office on it, and it just stayed that way. And I had to uninstall and install the x64 version, which is also pretty smart about whether or not it installs for ARM or for Intel.

Jonathan: Many people just know what they want to do with their computer. You know, they might say, I want to use my computer mainly for browsing the web, and doing email, and writing some documents. And then, as I said in the introduction, it’s quite bamboozling to go in and learn about RAM and different processor types. So ARM processors add another layer of complexity to the mix.

Are there specific use cases where you think right now, given where the technology is at in June 2024, somebody might be better going with AMD or Intel rather than ARM?

Glen: I think if you are a hacker and a tweaker, you might be happier with AMD or Intel, especially if you are running programs that are not likely to have native ARM64 builds, and/or you have hardware that requires drivers for which there are no ARM64 drivers. Because I mentioned earlier that you can always emulate, so you won’t be locked out of your native, I’m just going to say Intel, and refer to Intel and AMD. You won’t be locked out of your native Intel apps, but they will run in emulation mode.

When it comes to drivers, there is no such thing as emulation. And so if it’s really a hardware driver, you need an ARM64 version of it, if you have hardware requiring that kind of customization.

So those are reasons, perhaps, to consider not to go to ARM.

And the reason I think to go to ARM, probably more than anything else, are twofold.

One, if you simply are carrying a computer with you and you want the best possible battery life, ARM is going to give that to you, most likely.

And the other reason is these are being optimized for AI tasks. You know, not all AI has to be done in the cloud. And I think over time, you’re going to find that there’s more and more kind of question and answer, automatic transcription, various things that perform quite well using chips like this on your local machine, and you won’t necessarily require an internet connection. So that would be the other reason. You’re going to get more AI oomph, most likely, because these new chips really are optimized for those kind of neural networking tasks.

Jonathan: Right. And some of the things that Microsoft is talking about in terms of essentially recording everything you do on your computer by default, so you can ask the AI what you’ve done in the last quarter or so, and it’s all on device, so it’s not going anywhere. That is turning out to be quite controversial, but it is a potential benefit.

Glen: I think it’s good that it’s not going to the cloud. Many security-conscious people have expressed some skepticism as to whether or not this is really going to be safe, or whether or not this is going to be a greater temptation for people to hack their way into PCs, simply because there will be more of a treasure trove available if someone actually makes their way in.

But on the positive side, yes. If they can do all the things they say they’re going to do, this could be very powerful. Because one of the things they say is not only are they going to find you a summary of what you are searching for, but they can actually open the original app with the original document. And if they can do that, that’s going to be a big productivity boost, right? You could be searching for a document that you worked on 4 or 5 months ago. You’ve stored it up in OneDrive. They would find the document based on the screen snapshots that would happen every 5 seconds. And then, rather than simply summarizing it, they would open the document and you could go back to working on it.

Jonathan: And just going back to the driver issue for a bit, it sounds like people who use, say, external audio interfaces, would have to be quite careful then, right, that the audio interface they have has an ARM driver. Otherwise, they may be locked out of that device.

Glen: I think it’s possible. It depends upon the layer at which that driver is working. But yes, it would be worth inquiring about because you could conceivably be locked out.

Jonathan: One of the touted benefits of ARM processors is better battery life. And obviously, when your screen reader is talking to you, that keeps the audio device active, and that will have an impact on battery life. Do you have any data that indicates for a screen reader user how significant is the battery life improvement?

Glen: We have been investigating this a little bit. Probably, the biggest thing that you can do if you are concerned actively with battery life is disabling JAWS voice assistant listen for, hey, JAWS. That turns out to take battery drain because it’s essentially constantly listening for the wake word. And so by turning that off, you can still use it. You’ll just need to invoke it manually. And by turning that off, that will have an impact on battery life. We are continuing to investigate this, especially in light of these new processors. It definitely makes it worse, but a lot of stuff does tend to go to sleep the less you use it, you know, audio device and so forth.

Turning brightness down is always a potentially useful trick as well.

Jonathan: Does screen shade make any difference to battery life at all?

Glen: It shouldn’t. I can’t figure out how, because it’s not really turning the screen off.

Jonathan: Right.

Glen: That’s actually what we originally investigated years ago. Could we, in some way, turn off the screen? And we would have needed to write lots of different drivers, and it didn’t seem obvious as to how. So all we’re doing is putting a window on the screen with nothing in it, and we’re putting it on top of whatever else is there, so it’s not visible.

Jonathan: You introduced a feature into the product called Avoid Speech Cutoff, and it’s a bit of a lifesaver, really, because a number of the drivers, Realtek, for example, quite a few Bluetooth drivers, do have quite aggressive hibernation practices. And all you need to do is type a few words if you don’t have your speech echo turned on at all and your audio device is hibernated. Is that behavior the same on an ARM processor?

Glen: I have no evidence one way or the other. It’s not true on the Surface X that I’ve been testing with, but I don’t have good feedback beyond that.

Jonathan: Now, also, a lot of these devices have built-in cellular connectivity, and I’ve got very spoiled by this. It strikes me as very strange that Mac hasn’t gone this way, because you can get cellular iPads, but you can’t get cellular Macs. Just being able to fire up a computer and have instant connectivity wherever you are without having to connect to dodgy Wi-Fi. And I should say, if you’re going to connect to dodgy public Wi-Fi, you definitely want UAC turned on. [laughs]

Glen: Yeah, okay. You’re not completely over the edge.

Jonathan: Oh no, no, not completely over the edge, but I don’t connect to dodgy public Wi-Fi.

But the 5G connectivity is a nice touch, isn’t it?

Glen: I assume it is. I’ve not had a need for this personally, so I’ve not tried it. But yes, I’ve often thought it would be kind of fun to make a phone call for my PC without having to have the phone as an intermediary.

Jonathan: So a lot of people are going to go into a store (In the US, it’ll be Best Buy. There’ll be equivalents around the world.), and they’ll see a computer that they like. They like it because it’s thin and light, and ARM computers tend to be quite thin and light. They like its speed. They may not even know that it’s running an ARM processor.

Are we at the point where a person doesn’t have to worry about that? Or are there situations where they should say to the person in the store, hey, is this running ARM? Because if it is, for my use case, I might be better off with another computer.

Glen: I think the reason that we were so eager to do ARM originally is for the reason you just stated, that we didn’t want people to go buy PCs or laptops that turned out to be bricks because their screen reader wouldn’t run on it. So from that standpoint, this has been really essential for us.

I think if you don’t know enough about computers to really think about, is this an ARM or is this Intel, if you sort of don’t think about it innately, you’re probably fine with whatever you get. Because my guess is if you’re in that category, you’re doing pretty standard traditional tasks and any machine you get that sort of has current specs is going to serve you well and likely will serve you better than whatever you previously had.

But if you are a little bit more technically savvy and you sort of enjoy understanding the nerdy details, then asking is probably worthwhile because then you’re making a conscious decision as opposed to getting whatever happens to be the one that has the nicest physical feel to it.

Jonathan: And if you’re browsing with Microsoft Edge, presumably, you just get Edge built into the operating system. So it will be running the native version of Edge if you have an ARM computer.

Glen: Yes, correct.

Jonathan: Yeah, very good.

What level of UAC do you have set, by the way? Where’s your threshold? Because aren’t there about three different levels of UAC?

Glen: You know, I have the default. I wouldn’t mind turning it down because there’s one level below the one that I have that will let Microsoft tools like Registry Editor run without the UAC prompt, but still prompt you for third-party apps that are wanting that kind of access. That seems pretty reasonable to me. But no, I’ve not gone down anywhere near the bottom.

Jonathan: Some of us just can’t help ourselves.

Well, we’ve had quite a few people discussing laptop purchasing options, so I thought it would be timely, given the plethora of releases of late, to get you on the podcast to have a chat about ARM options. So thank you for that, and I look forward to hearing people’s experiences if they go the ARM route, which I may well do myself when I get my next ThinkPad. I really appreciate you explaining that to us.

Glen: Absolutely. And just in the effort to be complete, we are working diligently to get ZoomText and Fusion to be able to run on ARM as well. There’s a bit of additional legwork we need to do, so I can’t tell you exactly when it’s going to happen, but it’s something that’s on our near-to-medium-term roadmap.

Jonathan: I appreciate you letting us know that, because it didn’t occur to me that ZoomText wasn’t running on ARM yet, so that’s useful to know.

Glen: It is not. So yes. If you’re a ZoomText user, you better ask what kind of processor you are getting, at least for the moment.

Jonathan: Right. Wonderful.

Thanks very much for your time. I appreciate it.

Glen: Thanks, Jonathan! It was a pleasure.

Advertisement: I want to give a shout out and a word of thanks to Aira, who are a sponsor of Living Blindfully.

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But if you’re doing something mission critical, or if human verification is desirable because you’re just not getting the information that you want from the AI (and that will happen from time to time), then a trained Aira agent is just a key press away. And indeed, you can place a call to an Aira agent from your computer. Sometimes, that can be useful as well.

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An Update on Instacart

Caller: Hey, Jonathan! This is Jim in Florida.

I wanted to tell you that after lots of frustration, I did finally hear back from Instacart’s customer service department after numerous calls and emails, and they did reactivate my account.

However, I did speak to a former client a few days ago, and they told me that they had had a similar experience. I don’t believe they’re currently using the service because of that, but I’m not sure.

I just wonder if they just are individually addressing these issues, or it’s just a global thing. But I think it’s something our community needs to be concerned about anyway. Just because they reactivated my account, that doesn’t mean somebody else isn’t going to receive an email telling them that they need to send a picture of their government ID, credit card, and all that. And oh, by the way, it also said in the message that, there might be some risk to the person sending it, so they might need to block out some information, which as you know would be very difficult for us to do with a camera.

I don’t know that this is a resolved issue. It is for now for me, but that doesn’t mean it is for everyone, so I’m still concerned about it until the company makes a blanket statement. I think telling us that they don’t require us to do things that are not accessible, especially since they’ve been an accessible company for many years.

And seems like they’re kind of rolling that back a little bit. They also roll back and do no longer have their accessibility line anymore, which is kind of frustrating.

Just like with Lyft. When I contact Lyft, you get their emergency support line, which I got an email yesterday from Lyft asking me how my experience was with their emergency support line. Well, I’ve never intentionally called their emergency support line, but they’re sort of double teaming the emergency support line with both services, and that’s not appropriate, or practical, or even kind to the rep that gets the phone call for accessibility issues, guide dog issues (usually mine). any issue regarding a service animal, when they’re wanting to deal with emergency and safety issues.

AI and How It Got Me in Trouble at Work.

Let’s talk AI once again. And Rich Yamamoto says:

“Hi, Jonathan,

I’m really excited about the ability to have a full conversation with the AI in ChatGPT. I think it could be a great way for us blind and visually impaired individuals to get a basic idea of our surroundings, our environment, and other things that we may want to know about.

I do worry though about its accuracy, as we are all too familiar with ChatGPT’s complete confidence in giving the completely wrong answers at any given time. I think that while this is a leap forward in innovative technology, and while I believe it fits the theory of the curb-cut effect in accessible solutions, we should exercise caution when using this tool.

I think AI has a lot of good uses such as helping you draft emails and cards, to giving you ideas for recipes and essays.

However, in saying that, I would like to share the automatic out-of-the-office email that I had it right for me when I took time off work between my college graduation and the start of the School for the Blind’s summer program. I didn’t consider that my supervisor would be sending me stuff during my time off. And this here is a perfect example, at least in my experience, of when to use AI to help you accomplish tasks, and when you should not.

Below is the response that it generated for me. Please note that the only edit that I made is the elimination of my co-worker’s name and information.

Greetings to whom it may concern,

I trust this email finds you well.”

God, I hate that phrase.

“I am writing to inform you that I am currently out of the office, and will remain blissfully unaware of all work-related matters until my return on May 30th. During this period of well-deserved respite, I will be engaging in a rigorous regimen of relaxation and rejuvenation, far removed from the hustle and bustle of professional life.

As such, I will not be responding to emails, answering calls, or even thinking about work. My dedication to this hiatus is absolute and unwavering.

Should your matter require urgent attention, please direct your inquiries to?” (co-worker’s name) “at” (co-worker’s email). “He has graciously agreed to shoulder the burden of responsibility for my absence, and will be more than capable of addressing your needs.

Please be patient if you notice a slight delay. He is also on vacation.

Thank you for your understanding. I eagerly anticipate reconnecting with you upon my return, fully recharged and ready to tackle any challenges that come my way.

Best regards,

Rich Yamamoto

For obvious reasons, this got me into a little bit of trouble, and I learned a valuable lesson about the use of AI. So while I think it’s a great tool for some things, it can also become a detriment if we overuse it.

I know a lot of colleges and universities have completely banned the use of things like ChatGPT or Bing Chat, and they’ve implemented programs into their learning platforms to detect when writing is based on AI. However, I have also found those to be inaccurate to a point. I have had to contact professors to prove to them that I actually wrote the papers that I submitted. I don’t know what that says about my writing, or if the software is still relatively new, but it always worries me now because my writing style is always improving, and I don’t want it to sound like a computer is doing the work for me.

How do you think schools should handle this kind of issue? Do you think that they should incorporate more peer-reviewed assignments, where classmates have to look at your work and help you refine it? Or should they just trust that students in college will do the right thing when it comes to stuff like this?

I really don’t have a good solution because I know that my writing is different from everyone else. I would be curious to see what others have to say on this.

That’s all I have for now. I’ll write back when I have more thoughts to share.

Hope all is well.”

All is peachy. Thank you, Rich. And even peachier, now that we got your email.

I find that schools try to lock themselves sometimes in a time warp.

When I was at school, the big issue was pocket calculators. Everybody said you’re not allowed to use pocket calculators in your maths class because you won’t always have a pocket calculator.

Well, how well did that prediction work out? Pocket calculators are everywhere. They’re on our phones. They’re in everything. They were kind of anti-computers for a while.

Now, we’ve got this thing that’s going on, and I see this coming up in several countries and jurisdictions around the world, where they’re trying to ban cellphones in schools. The present New Zealand government has introduced this, and I don’t support it at all. I’m very sure I’m a minority on this one because it seems to be very popular.

But I don’t support it because schools are supposed to prepare you for the real world. Schools are supposed to educate you, and cellphones are a fact of life. If you make people put their phones in their bags, even at interval and lunchtime, which for me is the kicker, that is your time. You’re taking a break from your lessons. If you want to use your interval and lunchtime to check things on your cellphone, why shouldn’t you? If you’re addicted to your phone or you use it for horrific things like cyberbullying and things of that nature, the school system is the best place to try and get that under control so that hopefully, you’ll emerge from the school system as a well-adjusted adult who knows how to use this technology appropriately and in good measure. Causing schools to abdicate their responsibilities for teaching people about sensible smartphone use is a dereliction of duty. It’s a ridiculous policy, in my view.

And similarly with AI. AI is not going to go back into the bottle, or wherever it came from. AI is a fact of life. So it’s important that colleges teach responsible AI, and maybe handing in essays is a thing of the past. or perhaps it is that you hand in the essay with the best produced document you can, whether that be with the assistance of AI or not.

But to test that you actually understand the subject matter, maybe there has to be more oral examination these days where you’re asked questions, asked to speak in a class about what it is you’re studying, or you’re quizzed by the lecturer, some way of making sure that the information is sinking in.

But to essentially say you can’t use AI anymore, that’s not going to work. AI is here to stay, and the education system needs to adapt accordingly.

What do you think? 864-60-Mosen, Or

Missing Phone Calls on My iPhone

Sttefanie Magura says:

“This is a quick note to tell you and others that I have had instances where people tried to call me, and I never got any idea that a call had been made and should have been received.

I am listening to episode 280, and I just heard Carolyn’s message where she said she didn’t believe Apple called her because she didn’t get a missed call. And while that should be true, it isn’t always the case. I’ve had this experience with family members, and I had to go back with them and compare call logs to get them to believe me.

I’m still not sure why this happens. The only reason I can think of would be some kind of connection issue.”

Yes. That does sound unusual, Sttefanie. I’ve not heard of that here in our part of the world. Our networks tend to be fairly reliable.

But it’s interesting to hear. And if others have had experiences that are similar, then do be in touch and let us know what you’re experiencing.

Google Doesn’t Seem Committed to Accessibility

It’s Carolyn Peat versus the mighty Google now. No. Actually, it’s the mighty Carolyn Peat versus Google. They’ll be sorry, I tell you. Here she is.

“Hi, Jonathan,

I am looking for some help from the audience.

Back in January of this year, I reported an accessibility issue to Google about their calendar. I like the Google Calendar because it is connected to my Soup Drinker and on my phone. The problem was a small, easy-to-fix problem, but has never been fixed.

Here is the original problem. When you use the app on your phone to set up a new appointment or event, as Google calls it, the edit field for the title of the event will not give you any feedback when you type in the field. This was accepted as a known issue, but has never been fixed.

Just last week, I discovered another more serious problem and so called the Google Accessibility Desk through Be My Eyes. The issue was that when you double tapped on an entry to open it up, and double tap the edit button to edit at the details, the feedback from VoiceOver has nothing to do with the event information. I got dates saying May 1876, or any other year from hundreds of years ago.

I did a screen recording and offered this to them as evidence of the problem, and they are not interested in the problem, or even trying to resolve it.

I am sorry, but I have to ask the question. Are Google serious about accessibility or not? If not, they should leave Be My Eyes. Why be there if you’re not going to take our reports seriously?”

Thanks, Carolyn.

I’m not a Google Calendar user. So if anyone has any thoughts on this, then they’re welcome to be in touch.

I tend not to use a lot of Google things. But on occasion, I have had excellent accessibility support from Google. And on occasion, I haven’t.

The business with trying to get Google to clarify the situation with HID Braille displays is legendary. And we talked about that on the podcast where it was so bad, I was convinced that I was talking to very basic, primitive AI at the time. I thought this thing has got to be a bot. There cannot possibly be a human being in the world that is this unhelpful and taking me in this weird circle.

But they actually responded to that and said no, I’m not a bot. It was just bizarre. And as you know, it took weeks to get an answer there.

On the other hand, when I was working with Aira, Aira uses the Google Workspace ecosystem. And there was a bug that I identified with accessibility in, I think it was Google Docs at the time.

I reported that bug, and they were incredibly helpful, really engaged, and rolled out a fix pretty quickly.

So that was a great experience. It’s just the luck of the draw sometimes, isn’t it? And that makes it so difficult and very frustrating.

If you want to, you could add your iCloud calendar to the Amazon ecosystem, and ask your soup drinker about your calendar appointments in iCloud. And that does seem to work pretty well.

But the bottom line is that you should be just as free to choose which calendar provider you use as anybody else.

Another option would be to use the Fantastical third party calendar app that works with Google Calendar. It’s such a great user experience. Getting appointments into that thing is just a joy.

But there could be a cost to that. And again, the bottom line is that the native Google experience should be accessible.

So it will be interesting to hear whether others have had this problem when using Google Calendar. And if you have any magic tricks for escalating an issue like this so that somebody who’s not on the front line probably understands the severity of this. If it’s somehow a human error thing, which sounds unlikely to me, how do you fix it, or work around it, or whatever? But if not, you want to know that this is in the system somewhere, and that it’s going to be addressed, don’t you?

Using IntelliJ as a Blind Person

Wenwei Fisher is back in touch. Good to hear from you, Wenwei. She says:

“I am emailing because I would like to tap into your large network of listeners.”


“I was supposed to use an interactive development environment (IDE) in one of my computer science classes called IntelliJ. I could not figure out how to use it efficiently, even after reading the documentation online provided by JetBrains.

However, I’ve been told that a blind person working at JP Morgan Chase is using IntelliJ without issue.

I was wondering if there was special JAWS scripts I’d need to install, or did I just not configure the screen reader properties correctly?

Thanks for any help this wonderful community can provide.”

I hope somebody can help you out, Wenwei. Let’s see what we get back. If you can help her, 864-60-Mosen, or


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This is where you come in. If Living Blindfully is something you value, we really would appreciate you taking a few minutes to write a positive review of the podcast. Positive testimonials help spread the word, and encourage new listeners to give us a try.

If you have a moment to give us a 5-star review, we really would appreciate that.

Thank you for supporting Living Blindfully.

The Rabbit R1 Isn’t Accessible

Back in January, when the Consumer Electronics Show was a happening thing, there was all this talk about the Rabbit R1. I mean, there was just so much excitement about this product, and it kind of feels like it’s the Milli Vanilli of technology, you know. Because now that reviewers have got it, they are slamming this thing.

And it’s sinking like a stone, almost faster than it rose from obscurity.

Here’s Mike Calvo.

“Dear Jonathan and Living Blindfully listeners,

I recently had an experience with Rabbit Inc that mirrors the accessibility challenges you highlighted with Sonos. Given your passionate call to action against Sonos’ failure to ensure their new app’s accessibility, I believe my story with Rabbit Inc might resonate deeply with your audience and reinforce the importance of our collective advocacy.

Below is the email thread detailing my interaction with Rabbit Inc Regarding the accessibility issues with their Rabbit R1 device.”

So here we go. Mike begins on May the 3rd.

“Dear Rabbit support,

I hope this message finds you well.”

Oh my goodness!

“I am writing to inquire about the accessibility features of the Rabbit R1 device.

As a blind user, I rely on screen readers to interact with my devices. I have reviewed the Quick Start Guide and other available documentation for the R1, but I did not find any information about accessibility for blind users, particularly the integration of the TalkBack screen reader which is crucial for Android devices.

Could you please confirm whether the Rabbit R1 is equipped with accessibility features suitable for visually impaired users? If so, I would appreciate detailed instructions on how to activate TalkBack, or any other integrated screen reader.

If the device does not currently support these features, could you provide an estimated timeline for when they might be available?

Alternatively, if accessibility will not be supported, I would like to know the process for returning the unit.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. I look forward to your prompt response.”

So how prompt was the response? 10 days, mate. 10 days. So he sent that email on the 3rd of May, and Rabbit replies on the 13th of May with this.

“Dear Mike,

Thanks for reaching out to us. I’m” (name redacted), “and I’ll be helping you today.

Unfortunately, the R1 is not equipped for use by visually impaired users.

However, your feedback is invaluable to us, and we will certainly pass it along to our engineering team for consideration in future developments.

If you would like to start the return process, please provide the following information: order number, return address so we can send you a shipping label, is the device in like-new condition?

Once we hear back, we’ll process your request and send a shipping label your way.”

Now, Mike replied exactly the same day he got the email, as you would expect.

“Dear” (name redacted) “and Rabbit support team,

I’m writing to express my profound disappointment upon discovering that the Rabbit R1, despite being based on Android 13, does not support essential accessibility features like the TalkBack screen reader. This oversight is not only a significant setback for accessibility, but it also contradicts the very ethos your company claims to uphold. I’ve listened to your CEO speak passionately about innovation and inclusivity, claiming, “We are committed to enhancing the lives of our users through technology.” Yet, it appears that these commitments do not extend to the visually impaired community. This exclusion is not just a missed opportunity. It is a direct contradiction of the inclusive values you publicly endorse.

I, along with other blind people, ordered the Rabbit 1 in good faith, trusting that a device built on an accessible platform would naturally include these fundamental features. The lack of accessibility in the R1 device makes it unusable for me. And frankly, it feels as though my needs as a blind consumer are considered an afterthought.

Here are the details for the return of the Rabbit R1 device, which remains sealed and in new condition as I could not use it.”

So then, he provides all the deets, and he says:

“Please expedite the shipping label to my address, and ensure that this return is processed promptly.

Moreover, I insist that this matter be escalated to the highest levels of Rabbit Inc. Your team needs to understand that accessibility is not a feature that can be optionally included. It is a fundamental right that enables individuals with disabilities to live independently.

I expect Rabbit Inc to not only address this issue, but also to revise its development practices to prioritize accessibility inherently.

I await your immediate action on this matter, and the confirmation that this feedback has been received by your CEO and the relevant decision-makers within your company.”

Don’t have the date of the next reply from Rabbit, but here they are.

“Hi, Mike,

Thanks for your patience,”

I guess it was a while.

“as we processed your return request.”

I guess they’re getting a few.

“Your return RMA number is, ?” and then it gives the RMA number and says: “You can access the return label at this link.

Once we receive and process in your device, we’ll submit your refund. Please return the item within the specified time frame. Kindly review our return policy here.

Let us know if you have any questions, and we’ll be happy to help.”

And that’s where the email ends. There is no acknowledgement whatsoever of Mike’s articulate, reasonable, passionate expression of concern about the lack of accessibility of the device.

Mike continues:

“Jonathan, this situation is yet another example of a tech company disregarding the needs of visually impaired users. Just as Sonos has neglected its visually impaired users with their recent app update, Rabbit Inc and Humane’s AI pin have shown a lack of commitment to accessibility, despite their claims of inclusivity and innovation.

I urge all listeners to take a stand. Whether it’s writing directly to these companies, sharing your experiences on social media, or participating in public forums, your voice is crucial. By collectively holding companies like Sonos, Rabbit Inc, And Humane AI accountable, we can push for the changes that are necessary to ensure accessibility is prioritized, not overlooked.

Thank you, Jonathan, for your relentless advocacy. Together, we can make a difference.”

Thanks, Mike.

I mean, it should be accessible. We should be able to switch it on and realize how it’s one of the most overhyped products in recent history, and that it really doesn’t do a lot, and that there were a lot of smoke and mirrors on that demo. But we should have the right to know that like everybody else, no question.

iOS Poor Performance in Safari

Mike Forzano was writing in and says:

“Hi, Jonathan,

Wanted to bring up the topic of Safari on iOS. It seems to me that Safari has become almost unusable lately. I mostly use it for consuming news.

Lately, particularly on news sites, VoiceOver lags so badly that it’s frustrating, almost impossible to do anything at all.

I suspect maybe it has to do with the sheer number of ads and possibly videos displaying on the page. But that doesn’t make it acceptable.

Sometimes, I struggle into the reading mode. Sometimes that helps, and sometimes not.

Recently, on some websites, VoiceOver will say the word close over and over again, until I switch out of the app.

And what finally compelled me to write this submission was, while trying to read an article on The Verge a few minutes ago, VoiceOver kept repeatedly playing the sound you hear when you try to swipe left past the top item on the screen. Nothing I tried would allow me to read that article.

What can we do as a community to compel Apple to take these performance issues seriously? Especially with so many apps now based on web views, I think this is more important than ever.”

Thanks, Mike.

I think I might be a little bit immune from some of this because I have a pretty good ad blocker running, the Wiper app, and I think that’s helping a bit. But I can definitely confirm sometimes, you go into a web page and it’s constantly dinging at you, or bonging at you, or whatever this noise is called. Sometimes, you have little bits of the page repeating over and over again. It is not a nice experience.

As for what we can do, I really don’t know what we can do. I mean, we’ve had NFB resolutions. We’ve talked about frameworks, which really at this stage, haven’t gone anywhere, unfortunately. It’s quite disheartening, isn’t it? Because I’m not sure that the grass is greener on the other side either. There are problems there as well. So I suppose all we can do is leverage our contacts and see whether we can just keep reporting these issues. It is frustrating because we have issues that have been reported years and years ago that are outstanding. So I hear the frustration. I wish I had an answer.


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Mantis Carrying Cases, and Instacart Accessibility

“Hi, Jonathan,”, writes Robin Frost.

“Firstly, Joe, congratulations on your new Mantis. Hopefully, you’ll use it in the best of health for many years.

Having had both the Executive case and the new Turtleback case, I can answer his question.

I can tell you that absent a rubberized logo on the front cover of the Executive Products case, all other aspects of the product are exactly the same.

So if you go with the Turtleback case, you will not be disappointed. The materials are of good quality.

And they are very communicative. When I ordered mine, they had a production difficulty which delayed my case’s trip to me. But I was kept informed, and received a case that was perfect in every way. I have no affiliation with the company beyond being a satisfied customer.

So I just wanted to weigh in and answer Joe’s question.

As for Jim’s difficulty with Instacart, I haven’t encountered that one, but it is indeed concerning. I’m also concerned with the frequency with which Instacart seems to break accessibility that used to be functional, or forgets to make other features accessible entirely.

For instance, for the last 4 weeks, the ability to select to schedule with a previously saved favourite shopper has not been present for me. I can’t seem to find it with VoiceOver on an iPhone.

We who use VoiceOver have also lost the ability to search for a replacement product, if those offered for substitution are not to our liking. This is very inconvenient.

It has also never been possible to unfavourite a shopper one has previously favourited. Apparently, visually, favourite shopper status is indicated through a heart icon on screen, which is either filled in or empty. One can favourite a shopper using VoiceOver. But once favourited, the heart icon or verbal equivalence cannot be found with VoiceOver, and doesn’t appear via their website at all for blind or sighted people.

When I recently called in to the toll-free number to politely bring this issue to their attention, I was told my feedback would be taken and reported. Whether that’s the case is anyone’s guess. But I was also strongly urged by the representative to email an address I was given, which I shall provide here for everyone’s benefit. It’s That’s Perhaps if we all politely make them aware of these issues, maybe, just maybe, we can experience some improvement.

Thanks, Jonathan, for creating such a helpful and informative community from which we can all benefit and participate. Take good care.”

Well, you too, Robin, and thank you very much for the informative email.

And Keith Rimpel says:

“I just heard your description of difficulty getting your Mantis in and out of the Executive Products case.

Forgive me if I am telling you something that is obvious here. When I first got my case back in 2021, I spent a good few minutes struggling to wrestle my Mantis into its case. I was using a process similar to how my old Braille Lite used to go in its case, bending the leather, trying to pry it apart, and wedging the Mantis in.

At that point, I realized there are actually two snaps on the bottom of the case, on the rear corners. I had initially assumed they were some sort of permanent fastener for leather. Not so. With the snaps undone, it’s a reasonably painless process to slide the Mantis in and out through the back of the case.”

Thanks, Keith.

I believe I was aware of this. But certainly, for those who aren’t and are looking at Mantis cases, that’s a useful tip indeed.

Thoughts on Glide

“Hello there, Jonathan,

This is Steven from Virginia, wanting to talk a bit about the Glide technology that was recently announced.

I definitely love the idea. It sounds cool to have sensors and AI guiding you through the town with your own skill as a traveller supplementing the experience. I find there’s a lot of merit in this.

But here’s the thing that sort of gets me with this new AI company doing this. I don’t think this Glide system is going to replace a cane. Why? Because this thing is literally $1,300 US. I don’t know how much that is in New Zealand, but I’m guessing it’s probably a huge amount. Why get this when you can have your cane and it’s a stick of fiberglass or plastic and you can replace it for $40 or whatever? It just seems like an expensive cane that is irreplaceable if broken.

With all that having been said, I sincerely hope the company making the Glide survives for decades to come. Why? Because all those blind people who spend $1,300 on that Glide will have plastic bricks in their houses if the company folds in 3 years.

I’m guessing the majority of these features rely heavily on online connectivity, but we’ll see.

Will this be the revolutionary new cane everyone uses? Certainly an interesting question that will be answered over the next decade as it is further developed, assuming the company lasts that long.”

Well, it’s a fair point about the cost. And also, making sure that there’s longevity there.

But I think there’s probably some overlap. I think seasoned cane travelers may not get as much out of a Glide as somebody who, perhaps, is not an experienced cane traveler. And the majority of people do go blind very late in life, and they may not want to use a white cane for mobility purposes.

So I think they’re after a different market segment, and we’ll just have to see how well all the sensors and the AI actually do when the product comes out. Exciting times!

The Myriad Broadcasting Software

We’re going to hear from Terry Clasper now via email, which means that you won’t really be able to. I mean, I’d love to do an AB comparison, actually, because I think that Terry Clasper sounds remarkably like Chris Mason on the BBC or vice versa. Chris Mason on the BBC, who’s their political editor, and therefore on the BBC an awful lot lately with their snap election that’s going on at the moment. He sounds a lot like Terry Clasper. But anyway, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Terry Clasper says:

In episode 283, one of your listeners was asking about Myriad.”

This is the broadcasting software.

“The hospital radio station I worked with until fairly recently used Myriad, both for voice tracking and live play out. It’s fairly accessible, particularly with JAWS. I mainly used its remote voice tracking, which worked in a very similar way to Station Playlist.

Here in the UK, it’s used by a number of hospital radio stations, as well as commercial stations.

They’ve just released an update allowing one to generate AI voice breaks.”

Well, we’re all going to be doomed, I tell you. I mean, voice tracking was bad enough. Now they’re replacing the voice tracks from humans with AI.

Terry says:

“I’ve not seen this, but a sighted friend of mine who works for the hospital radio station I used to be involved with tells me he finds it a great addition to the software.”

Thanks very much, Terry. Appreciate the info.

What Was That Thing You Were Talking To?

David says:

“I am listening to episode 283 and have a question about the beginning where a voice is talking back to your questions about the WKRP show.”

Wow! Good show that, isn’t it? I mean, WKRP, I mean, not episode 283.

“Is that exchange via the Soup Drinker, or using ChatGPT and somehow using audio from you and back to you? If so, is there a link to how to set that up?

I have a PC with JAWS.”

David, this is the ChatGPT iOS app. So at the moment, you cannot talk to ChatGPT and have it talk back to you on your computer. I hope that changes sometime, for those who don’t have smartphones. But right now, if you want to get this working, you will need the ChatGPT app for iOS and Android, and then it’s really a cinch to talk to it. It’ll talk back to you. It’s actually a pretty brilliant experience a lot of the time.

Closing and Contact Info

Hey, GP. Do you want to help me close the Living Blindfully podcast for this week?

GP: Of course, Jonathan.

When you are out there with your guide dog, you harness success. And with your cane, you’re able.


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