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Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen, this is Mosen at Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking. More on Apple’s Braille bugs, and plenty of other Apple related feedback. A guide on teaching iPhone to the sighted, and Disabled New Zealanders are protesting the non-disabled transition director for the ministry of disabled people.
Speaker 1: Mosen at Large podcast.
Jonathan Mosen: Let’s talk once again about the Apple Braille situation, because it is a frustrating one if you’re experiencing it. This week alone, I was working on an important document and I was editing it and then it just locked up and I completely lost the whole thing while I had to do a hard reset of the phone. So it is not pleasant. First, I’ll go through some emails that we’ve received on this, “Hi Jonathan, Michelle Stevens here from over the ditch, that means Australia for those not aware. I saw advertised the Mosen at Large program with Braille displays,” with a lowercase B, “And iOS having problems with the updates to iOS. I am working with a deafblind friend who was having issues with his iPhone SE. The person is complaining that his Braille is freezing,” “oh, there’s an uppercase B that time. Yay.
“His Braille is freezing from time to time. It can go for an hour or so, no problem, and suddenly it happens while he is using the display, without notice. I have tried to troubleshoot by making sure iOS is up to date as possible. No apps running in the background. Both smart beetle needs to reboot along with the phone. Toggling the Braille display on and off helps, but not all the time. I think he has had someone help him to do a reset of settings. I feel updating his phone to a newer version will help, if this may help somewhat. Do you agree? Do you have any ideas, please? I have an iPhone 13 Pro and love it.”
“I have issues with freezing from time to time and the Braille disconnecting from the phone, even though it is within range. It does not happen as much using the Focus 14 compared to the smart beetle. My biggest complaint is that composing emails is impossible using Braille. I am composing this email with Jaws 2022 on my lovely HP 8 GB RAM 11 core processor, and use Braille input all the time. Also, can you tell me how a DeafBlind person, no hearing, very limited sight, can restart their Braille and voiceover if there is no one to help him? I’ve suggested if he really gets stuck to find a neighbor to help with starting VO with Siri. It is different for me because although I have very limited hearing with a Baha superpower aid and a cochlear implant, I have the knowledge to troubleshoot.”
You see Michelle, this is why I keep going on about this stuff. For me, the issue is one of productivity and getting things done the way I feel most comfortable and most productive, but for DeafBlind people, this is a genuine safety issue, and this is why it’s so important. This is also why the work around that some people are suggesting is not a long term fix, that work around being to turn alerts off on your Braille display. Because imagine you’re a DeafBlind person and you’re in a situation where you are using, say a video doorbell, or you’ve got some other technology that tells you something important about the environment, which we can hear, but people who are fully deafblind cannot.
This is a very serious issue. I doubt that upgrading to the latest and greatest will help. Now that said, I am not running the latest and greatest this year, I’m running an iPhone 12 Promax, so I don’t know whether updating to the 13 is going to help. I don’t think it is going to though. This seems to be a software issue. It does not appear to be a hardware dependent one. If your DeafBlind friend wants to restart the phone, I believe that Apple has now standardized the restart process, even on newer devices with a home button. So what you should do is press the volume up, then the volume down relatively quickly. Don’t push them together. So volume up, let it go and then volume down. And then, right away, hold down the side button to power the phone. You’ll need to hold that side button down for around about 10 seconds.
Visually you can see when to let go because the Apple logo comes up, but it’s better to hold it down a little bit too long than not long enough, because if you don’t hold it down long enough, then you are not going to reset the phone. And then eventually voiceover will come up. If the Smart Beetle is locking up too, I apologize. I have no knowledge of that device. So I don’t know how you would restart that. Perhaps you hold down the power button for a long period and then press it again to re-cycle it. But I’m only guessing. I wish you the very best of luck. I understand the pain that this is causing the DeafBlind community, and I really feel passionate about it. And I hope that it can be addressed soon.
We’re going to talk about this a bit more of course, but first of all, “Hello again, Jonathan, writes Eden, “First I have done more investigating on the laptop front, I’ve decided light is not as much an issue as power.” Power corrupts, Eden, “I got to have that power,” she says. Sounds very maniacal, “I’ve been considering the Lenovo 15 PP. It has gads of ports.” What? I’ve never heard that expression before, “Windows 10 Pro, can go up to a whopping 128 GB of RAM, has slots for SSAID cards, runs an i9 processor,” that’s the 11th generation. She says, “I noticed the X1 Carbon seems to be running on the seven series processors. People were pretty adamant on music production lists that if you really want a laptop, get one with an H or HK processor, I’m still debating. I may just get a custom built desktop and keep the Vio for times when I must go out.”
Well the good thing is, Eden, window shopping is free. You can window shop to your heart’s content, everybody’s happy, aren’t they? And now back to it, Eden says, “As for iOS, I have sad news. Braille is seeming more broken now. I have taken one for the team and downloaded iOS 15.4. You still can’t turn back on alert messages. The panning problem that started in iOS 15.3 is also continuing, and now for more sadness, on either of my Braille displays, it takes forever when going in and out of apps to show the screen. Now it’s really only one to two seconds, but it’s about twice as long as normal. I’m running the SE 2020. I’ve noticed this problem with sluggish Braille before, especially as a device gets almost two years old. I feel it’s purposeful sometimes, but I think this is only a year and a half old, so it’s ridiculous.”
“I’ve had about enough of this. Even if Braille is supposedly better on iOS, if it doesn’t work right, effects productivity and gets worse, I’m not really sure we’re ahead of Android anymore. I’m so fed up, in fact, I’m looking for a mid-range Android phone to try. I would love to hear from Android users who also use Braille, because I don’t want to go too cheap and have more sluggishness. I also don’t want to buy the most expensive phone because I might hate it. I’ve pleaded with Apple. I’ve provided feedback. I shouldn’t have to beg for accessibility. Can you imagine if this happened to sighted people? I’m sure Apple would be all over it. They clearly do not care about Braille users. I can’t imagine being deafblind and successfully using iOS 15 right now. I wish I’d never updated to 15. Every year, Braille gets worse. Okay, enough venting, says Eden, “Take care, and I hope your weekend is better than mine with all this tech nonsense.”
Thank you, Eden, for your email. It is frustrating. I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last week. And the first thing I decided to do once we started getting people emailing in with their concerns after the last episode was to reach out to some of the Braille display manufacturers. I wanted to talk to them about the tech support problems this issue might be causing them, and particularly whether they have had any useful contact with Apple, whether apple even knows that this is a problem, and whether they know whether anything’s being done about it. Because there does come a point, I think, where Braille display manufacturers need to make it clear that they’re on the side of their customers. This must be causing some increasing tech support traffic. It’s such a debilitating issue for those it effects, and no one from the Braille display industry that I contacted wanted to come on this podcast.
I mean, they didn’t expressly decline, but they didn’t accept either. What they did commit to doing was reaching out to apple and finding out where things are at. My paraphrasing of the situation is that people at Apple on the development team do know that this issue exists. They also confirm that it’s a jolly difficult little one to duplicate, my paraphrasing, not their words. And it is. I mean, sometimes you can go for quite a period without this issue happening. And then all of a sudden it might happen twice fairly rapidly. So it gives me some comfort to know that they’re on it.
Marco, in English, which is good, because unfortunately it’s the only language I speak, and I, have been working on a few things. Marco came up with a theory that perhaps we might be able to fix this if we change Braille tables from the standard system default to Lib Louis, and I had a really good run after doing this. I actually went for about two and a half days without a lockup. And then it started locking up again. And yes I did ensure that it hadn’t inadvertently been switched back to the system default Braille table. So there are people in the community, myself included, who would be all too willing to spend hours troubleshooting this, providing system logs, doing whatever it takes for the team, for the community, so that we can all solve this together.
And this got me thinking about the cultural issues. When Apple goes into a particular market, they’re normally quite aware of regulatory and cultural considerations. China is a case in point, there are certain ways that Apple markets their product in China, and even certain features that are available in China because of the market. Now I realize that the one flaw in the comparison I’m making is that the Chinese market is humunga-enormous and the blind market, and then you subset that into the Braille using blind market, is just a tiny, tiny fraction. All right, I get that.
But the point I’m making is that I really think we’ve got a cultural clash here that Apple needs to think about, and I say this with the most constructive of intentions. There are lots of people who have enormous respect for what Apple has done. And when I think of the amount of money that I’ve thrown in Apple’s direction, the books that I’ve written trying to introduce Apple and explain Apple things to a wide audience, I count myself in that category. I’ll never be a fanboy, an unconditional fanboy of any technology, because I think technology is here to serve us. Any product is here to serve us. And if something better came along, well sure, I’d switch in a heartbeat.
For now, the Apple products meet my personal needs the best. But where I’m going with this is I think that there is a certain expectation with respect to communication, that Apple is not understanding or fulfilling. Now people will come back and they’ll say to me, “But Apple’s got a certain culture. Apple’s always been a bit secretive.” I understand that. But I think for specific blindness related, I’d extend this, I’d say for specific disability related technology, Apple needs to understand what has become the mantra of the disability sector, which is, “Nothing about us without us.” We all, not just blind people, but I think disabled people generally, want to be involved in the technology that is intended for our use.
And it is really hard to do that with Apple. It’s hard to give them the benefit of our expertise. The patience we would be willing to show, trying to help to debug these things, because Apple doesn’t reach out. And I think one of the first steps that they could take would be to set up an accessibility account on Twitter that’s actually staffed by people at the development level, so that we can have some meaningful dialogue. And I suppose that requires a bit of trust on both sides. It means that we don’t want to just rant and things, and that’s the risk of social media, but there’s got to be a better way to involve people with a bit of technical knowledge, and prowess, and nouse to help to get to the bottom of these issues in a more timely way.
And I suppose one of the frustrations that many of us are feeling is that it feels to us, perhaps unjustifiably, I mean it could be just that there’s a lack of communication that makes us feel this way, that our bugs are not being prioritized and that they haven’t been prioritized for years. And it’s when you feel like you’re not being heard, you’re not being listened to, that the frustration mounts. So there you go. Some free comms advice for Apple from somebody who actually knows a lot about that subject.
Speaker 1: Mosen at Large podcast.
Jonathan Mosen: Onto our usual dollop of Apple things, Aaron is writing in and says, “Hi, Jonathan, I can’t find where never display time out setting is. I’ve looked under display and brightness, and all I see is 30 seconds all the way up to five minutes. I’ve been all around settings and can’t seem to find it anywhere. Any suggestions from the community or yourself? Hope your vacation was nice and relaxing, as you deserve it.” Well that’s very kind of you. Thank you so much, Aaron. I guess this is one of those moments where I go, “It’s right there, Aaron. It’s right there.” Don’t you hate it when that happens? It’s right there. But it is. I mean, I’m in the display settings now and I’m going to flick through those-
VoiceOver: Display and brightness. Heading: appearance. Heading: Light button. Selected: Dark button. Automatic: Off. Brightness heading: Screen Brightness: 0% adjustable.
Jonathan Mosen: I have my screen brightness set to zero because it’s no use to me, and it saves a bit of battery life.
VoiceOver: True tone: Off. Automatically adapt iPhone display based on am- … Night shift: Off. Auto lock: Never button.
Jonathan Mosen: And there’s the auto lock never button. If I double tap this button:
VoiceOver: 30 seconds.
Jonathan Mosen: We can set it to 30 seconds so that your display locks very quickly.
VoiceOver: One minute. Two minutes. Three minutes. Four minutes. Five minutes. Selected: Never.
Jonathan Mosen: And there’s never right at the end there. So I don’t know why it’s not appearing for you, Aaron, because as I say, for me, it is right there and always has been for as long as I’ve been using an iPhone.
Jim: Well, hello Jonathan, this is Jim from sunny Florida. Or I guess some times you call me Sunny Jim, that’s pretty cool though. A couple thoughts. First. I hope you enjoyed your vacation. I know that you deserved it because you’re a busy guy. I want to talk to you a little bit more about the mainstream versus blindness products. I’ve used both over the years, but I wondered if you were any other audience members, in addition to things like Barred or Talking Book, or whatever library services are available in other parts of the world, I’d be interested to learn what everybody else is using and what’s available.
But also, I use a system called Overdrive through my library service in here in Florida here, in [inaudible [00:16:31] county, but they have Overdrive and they have both kindle books, they have digital [inaudible [00:16:37] and they also have audio books. So I was able to read some books that haven’t been put on Bard yet, usually within a week or two after. So much as fast as what’s done on Book Share, which is a blindness product that I use. So I use kind of a … To me it’s like a symphony of products. Different instruments for different things.
Also I was gifted an iPhone 13 and I was able to get it going on my own T home. I took it into the store to finish all the configurations, make sure I did it okay. But after a few days of off and on playing with it, I was able it started and I’m learning more and more about the back tap and the things like that. One last thing I want to comment. It’s hard to find a good case that has a screen protector. I’ll call back later on and maybe talk a little bit more about that, because I don’t want to abuse my time here, but I think I’ve got one coming that’s going to do both.
I know some people don’t like cases, but I find that my phone slides around either on tables or my clothing when I’ve got it resting on my lap when I’m working with it without a case. And I don’t want to break it, because like I said [inaudible [00:17:47] it was a gift from a very good friend. Total surprise, merry Christmas. Wow. Someday I’ll tell you the backstory, but it was really kind of them to do that. Totally unexpected. Anyway, have a great summer there. It feels like summer here in the sunny Florida, almost. It’s in the 80s here, Fahrenheit, lately in the day. So take care everyone, happy new year, and thanks a lot for offering the best podcast available in the entire world.
Speaker 3: Dude!
Jonathan Mosen: Yeah, you got that right, Boris, high praise indeed from Jim.
Speaker 3: Dude!
Jonathan Mosen: Really appreciate that, and good to hear from you. What a wonderful gift to get, an iPhone 13 under the Christmas tree. That’s amazing. Bonnie’s been on the hunt for cases as well for her iPhone 13 after I got her one for Christmas, and she ended up with this monstrosity of a thing. Now, declaration here as people who listen to this podcast know, I’m not a fan of cases. But anyway. She got this case for her iPhone and it was just voluminous. It has made the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which is a big phone anyway, feel absolutely massive. I don’t think it was an Otterbox case, but it was competing in that same kind of space. You could drop this thing from an incredible height and the phone would still work, at the expense of it just feeling so ugly and horrible, and she got a separate screen protector.
Now she has minimalized a little and she ended up with the Apple leather case. And I have to say, if you are going to get a case for your phone, those Apple leather cases are quite attractive. They’ve got a little lip on them to protect screen damage. And then if you add a screen protector to them, I think they feel quite attractive and they don’t add too much bulk to the phone, but others may have other recommendations as well. Hope you enjoy that iPhone 13. Oh, and on the subject of Overdrive, I haven’t used it for many years. Our public library, I’m pretty sure still has Overdrive as an option. And our library has got this website that you can log into with your library card number, and it really is a treasure trove of stuff. And I believe that Overdrive is part of that.
But over the holiday period, Libby has become a lot more accessible. I understand Libby is software that you can use with Overdrive, and people have been advocating for years about this. I’ve seen it on social media, and they send a very nice tweet saying thank you to everybody for your patience and your advocacy on accessibility, we’ve got a good product now. And as I say, I’ve not played with Libby myself, but everything I’ve heard from people on social media suggests that they have in fact got the accessibility right. So it took a while, but that’s really good to hear.
Michael Chopra: Good afternoon, Jonathan, and all Mosen at Large listeners. I am having a problem with the Backpack Studio app. It appears that when you go into Settings and go into the mic effects part of the app in settings, and you enable the built in stereo mic. Once you plug in headphones on the main page of the app, once you plug in headphones and switch your input back to the iPhone microphone, because in my case I’m using little apple headphones. When you switch back to the iPhone microphone with the built-in stereo mic enabled, there appears to be some serious lag. Now I have no idea what is causing this, but I have just noticed that.
I am using an iPhone 13 Pro with the latest version of iOS, which is currently at time of recording 15.2 and Backpack Studio, which is currently the latest version available from the app store. So this is not a beta release. This is the latest version available from the app store. Same goes for iOS as well. I’m wondering if anyone has had this issue, and I was hoping to get a fix for it. I have emailed the developer about this and have not got a response as of yet at the time of this recording. So thank you for any help you can give.
Jonathan Mosen: Well thank you for getting in touch with the show, Michael. That’s Michael Chopra, by the way, from here in New Zealand and that was recorded on the 31st of December. Some time ago now, and it’s possible that the developer, Ed Filowatt has already contacted Michael with effects. It’s not something that I can comment on that I’ve had experience with, but if anybody else has, and you know of a work around by all means, share the love.
Kyle Cogan: Hi Jonathan Mosen, it’s Kyle Cogan here, just thought I’d send you a voice message because I’m actually looking at purchasing an Apple Watch at some point in time. So I have a few questions regarding it. Just wondering how you turn speech on and off, whether it’s pressing the crown three times or whether that was on the earlier watches? And what are your thoughts on whether to get at the Apple Watch SE or the 7? Because I use an Apple iPhone SE, my theory was that I would need to pair with an Apple Watch SE, or whether that matters too much. Having visited a couple of retailers that have the Apple Watch, I’ve heard that if I want to use cellular, it will eat through battery life quicker than when you don’t use cellular, because it’s always searching for reception.
Jonathan Mosen: Well, it’s always good when you’re contemplating a new toy, isn’t it, Kyle. So congratulations on that. Let me see if I can help with some of those answers. Yes, on all Apple Watch models, if you want to turn voiceover on and off you triple click the digital crown, that’s the little round knob that’s on the front of your watch that looks like a kind of a regular watch winder type button. You asked if it was necessary to get an Apple Watch SE because you have an iPhone SE. No, absolutely not. The iPhone SE will pair with Bluetooth to any Apple Watch, including the Apple Watch series 7. So really there are several considerations that you have, including how long you want to keep the watch, price, and also of what you want measured by some of the sensors, and what you want to track. So let’s have a look at this.
The Apple Watch SE was released before the series 7. So that means that it’s going to last a little bit longer. I think you can expect the iPhone SE to be dropped in terms of Watch OS updates in future before the Apple Watch series 7 is dropped. And that just tends to be the normal course of events with any product. The Watch series 7 has the fast charging. So if it’s important to you to go from zero to 80% and 45 minutes, you can do that with a Watch series 7, but you can’t do it with a Watch SE. It’s going to charge a little bit slower.
Series 7 has a blood oxygen sensor, and the SE does not. Now when the blood oxygen sensing came out, a lot of people were kind of dismissive and they thought, “Oh, who cares about blood oxygen anyway.” But I tell you what, it has been a really important feature, if you have symptoms that could be COVID. When you read articles about what people should put in their COVID-19 kits, you hear things like Paracetamol in case you get a fever and electrolytes. And one of the things that people do recommend is that you have some way of measuring your blood oxygen, and they may or may not be accessible to blind people. With the Apple Watch, you’ve got the blood oxygen sensor built in most models, but not the SE. It will take blood oxygen readings periodically, but you can also do that at any time. It’s really easy to do. And if your blood oxygen level goes below a certain threshold, it could be just one thing that indicates maybe you have COVID-19 and you need to isolate and take appropriate steps.
There are also other sensors in the Watch series 7 relating to heart activity that are either newer or not present at all when you compare with the SE. The Watch series 7 has an ultra wide band chip in it, the UWB chip. This is the smarts that makes the air tags so cool, because you can use precision finding with the air tags as long as you have a device that has the UWB chip. Now the iPhone SE that you have does not have the UWB chip either. So if you got an Apple Watch, you could make the most of air tags, even though your iPhone SE cannot do the precision finding.
Now on the downside, of course it costs more. And so only you can determine whether for what you want, it’s worth paying the extra. But I think you will eventually find that it lasts longer. So buying the Series 7 is probably more of an investment. In terms of the cellular issue you raised, anytime you turn a radio on, whether it be wifi, or Bluetooth, or cellular, then sure, you’re going to be using a little bit extra battery life. You can turn cellular off when you’re not using it. If you choose to by the cellular series 7, of course you can buy the wifi only series 7 and save a bit more money. So the cellular series 7 is top of the range.
One advantage that you often don’t hear about with the cellular series 7 is that it’s got double the storage. And so if you do intend to have a lot of books and podcasts and things stored locally on your watch, then that will be a consideration. But I think you also have to ask yourself how often is it that you are likely to be separated from your phone? Because that’s the only time when the cellular Apple Watch really is useful.
If you’re the kind of person that wants to leave your phone at home and go running and perhaps takes some health measurements, be able to make a call in an emergency, or send a text, something like that, then it’s a no brainer. The series 7 with cellular is going to be good. If you typically always travel with your watch on your wrist and your phone in your pocket or on your person in some way, you might not find financial justification for going to the cellular. So I guess in summary, I would say definitely in my view, go with the series 7, it’ll last longer, but think carefully about whether you really need the cellular option. So good luck. And when you get it, do let us know what you ended up with.
Hello to Alexander who says, “Hi, Jonathan, first of all, thank you for your great podcast.” Well thank you, “I hope you are fine.” I’m super fine, Alexander. Thank you for asking, I hope you are too, “I just read an article,” he says, “That Apple is introducing some changes for iOS 15.4. It should be possible to unlock your phone if you wear a mask. It was also written that it is strongly recommended by Apple that you need to look with your eyes directly on the phone’s display. Tests indicated that if you do not do this, unlocking the phone is not possible. This seems to be different to unlocking the phone without a mask. Have you already tried 15.4, and have any test results? Thanks for any comments on this.”
Thank you, Alexander. I’m must confess, we just got Omicron. Aren’t we lucky? I mean not at Mosen Towers, but New Zealand generally. We just got Omicron and I’ve been hunkering down a bit. I’ve been working from home. We are in the red zone at the moment for our COVID alert system, which means that if you are able to work from home, you should. I can and I am. So I haven’t put a mask on. I actually haven’t been out since 15.4 came out in beta form. I haven’t tried this. But I wonder what happens if you have the attention feature turned off, which most voiceover users do anyway. So if anyone has any comments on the integration of this feature with voiceover, please let us know. That would be really interesting.
Speaker 4: For all things Mosen at large, check out the website where you can listen to episodes online, subscribe using your favorite podcast app, and contact the show. Just point your browser to podcast.mosen.org. That’s podcast.mosen.org.
Scott Rutkowski: G’day, Jonathan it’s Scott Rutcowski from Australia here. I just wanted to make a couple of comments and ask a particular question regarding advocacy. I was very interested and enjoyed listening to your story regarding Spark and how you actually manage to get your 128 GB iPhone replaced with a 256 GB model. It’s unbelievable that a telecommunications company would treat you that way. I know you had to fight for it and advocate, but I’m glad it all worked out in the end. I had a similar experience, with our major provider over here, Telstra, but it was slightly different in the fact, that I’d been with them for over 25 years. And my contract was about to be renewed and I, rang them up and I said, “Have you got anything, better than what you’re offering me now?” I said, “You’re not, giving me value for money regarding the amount of data.”
And they pretty much, weren’t interested, in working with me, even though I pointed out that I’d been with them for 25 years. I even corresponded with them on Facebook, and rang them up. Went backward and forward a few times they weren’t going to budge. And I said, “Well, I guess I’ll be taking my business, elsewhere.” So, that didn’t work out.
But my question to you, Jonathan, is regarding approaching companies, to get apps improved, regarding accessibility. And the app that comes to mind, and I’m sure others know about this app, DoorDash, the food delivery service. I’m finding with certain companies, that when you approach them, attempt to point out to them, that their app has some accessibility, shortcomings, and you want to work with them, to make their app usable for all.
Too many times and I know you’ve encountered this as well. You’ll get the same candid response. We’ll forward your feedback on to the appropriate team. You never hear anything about it again. Is there any way, or is there an approach, getting past that first level of customer service, is the challenge. If you could only get to a higher level, you could possibly make inroads and maybe get them to understand, that their, app would be useful for all, if it could be made accessible.
But too many of these companies… Another company that comes to mind is Uber. You can’t get anywhere past their first level of support. And it just annoys me that other companies like Apple, they’ve got their accessibility team. Microsoft have their team and Google, but other companies like DoorDash, Uber and others, you just can’t get past their level.
Is there any other approach, one can take, to get something done, with these sorts of companies you want to advocate for all, you try to do what you can, to get a product made more accessible, but they just don’t want to play ball. Someone mentioned in your podcast, a little while back, TP-Link, they weren’t interested in making their products accessible.
And I was actually going to buy one of their Deco systems but after having heard, from you on the podcast, I didn’t do that. So, that was really appreciated not having to waste my time with TP-Link.
So thanks again for the awesome podcast. Really appreciate what you do. And I really appreciate hearing your stories, anecdotes, and outcomes. It really does make, listening to the show extremely worthwhile. Really love the shows I said. And thanks again for the awesome, job that you do each week, Jonathan.
Jonathan Mosen: Well, thank you so much, Scott and of course it would be far less worthwhile, if we didn’t get contributions like yours coming in so appreciate that. Let me first talk about Telcos. I know that at times, especially when you’re dealing with the front line, and I guess this is the common theme with both of your questions really, getting past the front line.
It does feel sometimes, Telcos are more interested in acquiring new customers than retaining the customers that they’ve got. But a lot of Telcos do have, a retention team and sometimes the magic word, it’s like the open sesame in the Telco industry and in some other, industries for that matter, is can you, put me through to your retention team please? And if you can get to the retention team, assuming that the company that you are dealing with, has one. You will be amazed, at what might be able to happen.
I have talked to retention teams from Telcos over the years and they are like magicians. They can conjure up for you, plans that are simply not available on the open market. They can design a plan. Now it’s not without limits, but they can design a plan that is tailored to keep you there. So if you can get to the retention team, it can be worthwhile.
But sometimes they won’t play ball, and if they won’t, then go. You were entitled to the best service you can get for the money that you are paying. Loyalty to Telcos or tech companies in general or utilities, doesn’t matter a jot. What matters is, at any given point in time, are you getting the best service that suits your specific needs for the money that you are paying? So go for it, do a bit of churn. That’s what they call it in the industry, churn.
Now let’s move on to your second points and it really is an issue with some of these companies. DoorDash doesn’t operate in New Zealand, but Uber does. And I’ve got an extraordinary, problem with Uber at the moment. First of all, I understand there is one problem that is common to everybody, using iOS VoiceOver and Uber Eats. And that is, that the app has just become a lot more unwieldy off late.
Now that’s not a show stopper. It’s just kind of annoying. It’s inconvenient. There are a lot more swipes, that you have to make now to get through Uber Eats. There is a big issue though, where texting a driver is a problem, and that can be a problem sometimes if they’ve dropped something off at the wrong place or something crazy like that, or they have texted you and you’re having difficulty texting back. So, that one is a bit of a show stopper.
The one I’m having with the Uber app itself, is not being experienced by everybody, but it is being experienced by some people. And I don’t know what the variable is here. It’s happening to me and it’s happening to Bonnie and it’s happening to some people that I’ve been in touch with, in Australia, but it’s not happening to everybody. And the thing is, that it’s the same version number.
So someone with the same version number as those of us having the problem, is just rocking along with Uber and it’s as, accessible as it always has been in recent years. But for me, it is now pretty much impossible to choose a destination. I’m effectively, locked out of the Uber experience. So I feel your pain, bro, because I’ve reached out, via social media and a support request to Uber and I am a diamond member. So you think they might take a bit more notice, but I’m probably diluting myself.
And it is very hard to get past those front lines. Some of the answers that you get back from these companies in that situation, are so nonsensical, that you even wonder whether it might be a bot, some sort of AI thing, that’s responding and sometimes it’s who you know. Social media can be really helpful here. If you can find someone on social media who knows somebody, then you might be able to break through.
So if anyone from Uber is listening to this, who’s working in Uber accessibility, because I know a lot of people in the industry tune in, then I’m very keen, as always, to be a constructive part of the solution. So please reach out, because the problem I have with Uber, is costing you a little bit of revenue. I just can’t really use it reliably, anymore.
And if you’re not seeing it, well I’m pleased for you but some of us at least are, seeing this dramatic accessibility decline with Uber. So what happens if you can’t get past the front line and you can’t find anybody on social media who can give you an email address of a developer or somebody more senior to write to? If you have, accessibility legislation where you are, some sort of human rights legislation, disability discrimination legislation, then you may be able to contact the legal department of the company concerned.
Sometimes you can email legal@ and then the domain name and you will have to make it clear if you do that. That in your opinion, the app has become so inaccessible or the product is so inaccessible. It contravenes section, whatever of the legislation that you want to reference and make it clear that you’re not seeking to make any difficulty. What you really want is, for this issue to be resolved, and that because this bug has potential legal ramifications, you really need to talk, to somebody who can help to fix it in a timely manner.
I use that as an almost last resort. You don’t want to go down that route unless, a constructive, friendly dialogue has absolutely failed and you can’t think of anything else to do. We don’t, want to be over litigious for its own sake, but the law is there for a reason. And we are entitled to access these services.
You may also be able to reach out to the media if the issue is so serious and so impactful that you think you can get a journalist to take some notice, then that definitely can have some very positive benefits and things can get resolved overnight, if something gets a bit of traction.
Often, the tech press simply aren’t interested. So, that’s not always an option. You can also generate a little bit of social media pressure. If a lot of blind people are using an app that’s inaccessible and while I’ve not, ever used DoorDash, I imagine that if it’s in your market, it is something that a lot of blind people want to use.
And if you’ve got accessibility issues and a lot of people can reproduce them, then a strong social media campaign where you think of a hashtag and you encourage people to tweet at the company, that can resolve it to. But again, I wouldn’t pop that pressure on the company until you’re absolutely sure that there are no other options left. It’s always good to try and find somebody who will engage with you if you can, but when there are no other options, then that may well do the job as well.
Where it gets tricky is of course the situation I’m in, where I put out a tweets, saying, “This Uber app, has pretty much become unusable for me.” And quite a few people wrote back and said, “No it’s not, it’s working fine for me.” And a few people wrote back and said, “Yes, we’re seeing exactly what you are.”
It’s very difficult when you get a situation like that, where it’s not consistent. So there’s not the kind of collective outrage, that you would really need for social media. So I hope that’s of some help. And of course it’s always good to discuss advocacy strategies. If anybody else has thoughts on those, feel free to get in touch.
The email is email@example.com. You can attach an audio clip to the email, or just write it down. You can also use the listener line and that number’s 864-60Mosen, 864-606-6736. Carolyn Peat has written in on this subject as well and she reminds me about the telecommunications dispute resolution mechanism. This is a forum that is run by, the Telco industry to seek, to resolve Telco disputes.
Yes, thanks Carolyn. I have used them before and they can be very helpful, sometimes not, depending on the issue, but they certainly are a good outfit to know about. And if you’re in New Zealand, you should familiarize yourself with what they do, how to contact them and when it might be useful to get them involved. If you’ve got a problem with your Telco, isn’t it ironic, that we have so many problems with telecommunications companies, when they’re selling communication.
Tim: Welcome to the second episode of, Tim’s New Hearing Aids!
I have tested, the Signia Motion Charge & Go behind the ear hearing aids. And as the name implies, those hearing aids have built-in, rechargeable batteries. I split up the test into, two episodes.
In this first episode, I will talk about rechargeable versus non-rechargeable batteries, and the battery characteristics, of the Signia hearing aids. In the second episode, I’ll tell you more about their performance.
I was a bit skeptical, about rechargeable hearing aids, because my understanding, was you needed to, recharge them every day. The issue is you need to make sure that you have your charger with you whenever you travel somewhere, which I do quite often. And if I forget my charger and the batteries run out, then I’m, without a hearing aid.
And since I can’t buy new batteries, there’s no way to fix the problem, except by going home. Picture the situation, I travel somewhere for next morning. Hey Tim, we plan to have this business meeting. Oh no, my hearing aids have just ran out of power and I need to go home to recharge my batteries. Oh and by the way, someone needs to assist me on my five hour train journey home, because without a hearing aid, I’m pretty much helpless and I can’t fix the problem because the local hearing aid shop is not likely to have the charger I need.
Well perhaps, I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the point. My current Oticon hearing aids use orange, the type 13, large batteries, they’re quite efficient. And my use is moderately intensive. The batteries will often last me, about two weeks. So the, argument that rechargeable batteries are better for the environment or cost less, doesn’t really apply. I spend about 30 euros per year on batteries and they’re all properly recycled. So of course it causes some footprint, but it’s quite minor.
One Uber drive to work, will cause more harm than my use of batteries in a year. I think I know that’s different for some people who may need to replace their much smaller, brown hearing aid batteries every three days, because they have smaller and less efficient hearing aids. But in my situation, the use of batteries is not much of an issue.
Actually what I found with the Signia Motion Charge & Go, hearing aids was that they would last me, about, three days, sometimes a bit more, on one charge. So suppose, I went somewhere, forgot my charger. And as long as I didn’t stay more than one or two nights, I could still survive the trip, or at least find a time, to order a new charger and have it sent to my hotel, whatever. So because the batteries, on this behind the ear model lasts quite long, at least two days, which usually three to four days I can work with it.
And the advantage, is that I can charge the batteries every night. So unlike, disposable batteries, they will not run out, in the middle of, the day, which always happens just when you are engaged in a busy discussion or need to change the train or whatever. Plus a dehumidifier box, which you should always have with your, hearing aids to remove moisture overnight with a built-in charger is available for, the Signia and other rechargeable hearing aids.
So I only need to bring one device. Overall, I’m open to a rechargeable option now, but again, that is only because the rechargeable batteries lasts, much more than two days. If I, really needed to recharge the hearing aids every night or run out of power, then that would be an argument against, buying the hearing aids. And I think, that with the smaller receiver in channel hearing aids, which logically have smaller batteries, which won’t last as long, this is going to be an issue.
Now specifically on the Signia Motion Charge & Go hearing aids. A standard charger, is included in which you have to place, the hearing aids. And it has led indicators. They don’t actually indicate whether or not the hearing aid is still charging. They only indicate whether or not, it is in the charger. So if you are blind, you obviously cannot see that they make contact, but you can infer it by listening to the hearing aids because the hearing aids, switch off as soon as you properly place them in the charger.
For checking, the actual battery level, you will need to use your iPhone. And the battery level indicated for the hearing aids is reasonably accurate although it can quite suddenly drop down. It stays at 90% for a long time, then it stays at 80%, then it goes down to 70%, but it goes down ever quicker. And at about 40%, you need to get worried because then all of a sudden it will be down to zero at some point. So the charging and remaining battery level indicators are sufficiently accessible, but it is a bit of a challenge.
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Jonathan Mosen: Hello, Luis Penya, in Columbia who says, “Hi, Jonathan, my secretary, who is technologically savvy, couldn’t connect my Samsung 8500 TV to my Amazon Echo in spite of the fact, that she installed the corresponding skill. Could you please provide some guidelines to help me accomplish this task? By the way, I bought this TV after your comprehensive review of this device.”
Luis, it’s been a wee while since I’ve had to do this and I am going for memory, but I believe what you have to do, is first of all, make sure that your TV and the skill are signed into the same Samsung SmartThings account. So I think you have to connect the skill there and then if you say, discover my devices, it should then find the TV and I believe you should be good to go.
Now in the SmartThings app I believe, I named my TV, living room TV. And after doing that, I’m able to just give the soup drinker command although I must say, in recent times it is not as reliable as I remember it being and I don’t know whether that’s some change that I have made at the router end here or whether the skill is having difficulty. But sometimes I will say to a soup drinker, “Turn on living room TV,” it will say, “Okay,” but it actually hasn’t switched it on.
And when that happens, I have to power the TV on, manually and off again and then it seems to work. So I hope that is of some help. And that if you’ve tried all those things, that maybe the Samsung tech support people can do it, I understand they can remote into your SmartThings app and do all sorts of things. So if it’s not working out for you, I would be interested to find out, how good the tech support is for this.
Carolyn Peat says, “I wanted to respond to the person who had problems with service from Freedom Scientific. I had a similar issue with JAWS 2020, during our lockdown. I contacted Pacific Vision to start with and they were awesome. They could not solve my problem, so handed it to Freedom Scientific and the staff member, I was put in contact with, was fantastic. Now I was getting the same error message and it turned out to be a saving for my computer. JAWS playing up, led me to considering a full reinstall of windows and during that process, the computer tech noticed, that my hard drive was ready to collapse. A backup was done and a new hard drive installed and all was back to normal. I told Freedom Scientific what happened, and they couldn’t believe that JAWS actually saved me from disaster. I was impressed with the patience of both the Pacific Vision staff member and the Freedom Scientific member, who spent hours on the phone, trying to fix this issue. One other good outcome, I had to learn N VDA to get through and that was not a bad thing to do.”
Thanks, Carolyn, of course, every software has bugs and we use our screen reader extensively, but there are occasions like that one where, what your screen reader is doing no matter what that screen reader is, is actually a symptom of a wider problem. So I’m really glad, that you were saved from disaster. It’s always good to make regular backups.
Randy Shelton: Hi Jonathan this is Randy Shelton in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I want to wish you and your family and all the Mosen At Large listeners, happy holidays and I hope 2022 is a much better year for all of us.
I want to comment on, the discussion that has been going on lately about, whether people should be describing themselves. And I have always been interested in that. I like to know what people look like and in this day and age, the more you know, the better I think, because sometimes you can think you’re talking to a man, but you’re actually talking to a woman and vice versa.
Case in point, yesterday I had to go to the Apple Store. I’ll just say, that this latest iOS update and watchOS update, has been a disaster for me. And I rarely have trouble with updates. And I got myself a shiny new Apple Watch Series 7, for Christmas. I took advantage of the trade in and got that last week. Got it all set up and updated and basically had to go to the Apple Store.
When I called Apple support to get some help, fixing things on the watch, things got worse instead of better. And that necessitated in appointment at the Apple Store. So the technician that I had, sounded a woman, but was actually a man and his name was Sam. So it could have been Samantha or Samuel. And the only way I knew that he was a man, was because just in the course of general conversation.
We started talking about masks and because of course you have to wear them at the Apple Store. And I don’t mind wearing masks. Anyway, I do that just in as a general rule, even though I have the vaccination and the booster, I wear them when I go into stores and businesses, generally. Anyway, and he made the comment that, he doesn’t mind wearing them but the only problem is, he has a beard and a mustache and he was starting to get mask rash.
Well, because he sounded like a woman. I would never have known. He was a man had he not told me, that he had a beard and a mustache. So I think it’s really a good idea to know what people look like especially since sighted people can get that information at a glance. So why shouldn’t we have it? And when I was working, I always wanted to know, because I needed to find out the dress code.
And not only that, but as a manager, that was part of their, evaluation. Was the person following dress code? And it was interesting to me that I was always told, you can tell who the manager is, because everybody else in this place looks like they just rolled out of bed.
And that was coming from someone, usually, my receptionist or secretary would tell me that. And they would sit with me when I was doing interviews to give me the visuals. So kudos to Microsoft for instituting that, I think it’s important. And Jonathan, I have to tell you, I listened to Small World, the last couple weeks because I love anything Christmas. And that show is just so cute, it’s fun.
Jonathan Mosen: Well thank you, Randy. It was an enormous privilege to have the chance to bring that show back. And I never thought of my wildest dreams that I would ever host that. So the current series is over, but who knows, maybe there’ll be another one in the future, but onto your substantive point, I, as as well recorded, completely agree with you. I find it disconcerting to be deprived of information that others have.
And I’m a curious, interested person. I like to know these things, but that’s always been the case, whether it be the way that documents are formatted, so that I’m presenting my content as interestingly, engagingly as possible, right through to the way that people are dressed. It interests me and I suppose the dilemma that we then have, is that there are some blind people who just don’t care. They’re not interested, and I don’t criticize them for that.
That’s just how they are. How do we resolve this dilemma that some people really appreciate this accommodation. They want to know what people look like, how they’re dressed and some blind to people consider it time wasting. And as has been discussed on this show last year, you can have a situation where you are the only blind person on the call, and somebody’s trying to do what they perceive to be the right thing because of publicity around visual description.
They’re having people describe themselves and you feel really conspicuous, because you know, that they’re doing it just for you, but you don’t actually want that information. It’s not important to you. Francisco also rose in, over the break, to mention that there are a couple of articles opposing, this visual description concept in the January edition of the Braille monitor. So if you want to, you can follow up there.
It is a bit of a pity, that there wasn’t somebody giving the opposing view, but hopefully, somebody will be motivated to put an article together that covers the opposing viewpoint on this. Perhaps the answer is, to have some visual description available on request on a separate channel.
So the way I’m thinking about this is, you can obviously bring in a sign language interpreter, and on many meetings that I’m on, we will do this if we know that somebody speaks New Zealand sign, then we will have a sign language interpreter, on the call to do that interpretation. So what I’m wondering is, maybe this is a potential new area for Ira to explore.
If you could have a situation where an Ira agent is on a call, offering visual interpretation, when a blind person requests it, then maybe that is the middle position, that if a blind person asks for this accommodation, they should not be refused it. The other advantage of that too, is that if you have somebody professional doing this, a trained Ira agent, for example, they may well give you a better quality description than somebody who was describing themselves.
The other point I also take seriously, which was covered in one of these articles at least, is that there are some people who will feel quite embarrassed about describing themselves. If they’re overweight or if they have certain visible tattoos, which they think could stigmatize them if they are described, then there could be multiple reasons why somebody who is asked to give a self description might feel very uncomfortable with that. And I don’t think in our quest to access visual information, we want to make people feel uncomfortable. So the more I think about this, and I guess I have been surprised by how many people have opposed this concept, but the more I think about it, the more I think maybe that’s the answer. Get visual interpretation on the call as an accommodation that’s available to somebody who wants it. And of course you could have that in a physical meeting, as well. You could have earbuds and an Aira agent could be doing the interpreting for you.
Speaker 6: Mosen At Large podcast.
Jonathan Mosen: Disabled New Zealanders have been advocating for it for decades, and in October last year the government announced that they would establish a ministry for disabled people, eventually consolidating services provided by the Ministry of Health and Ministry for Social Development, as well as being an advocate for the needs of disabled people throughout the state sector. The aim is to establish the ministry by the 1st of July. That’s an ambitious timeframe. And that work is being undertaken by the establishment unit. Despite disabled people with senior leadership experience applying for the role of the director of that establishment unit, to the consternation of many disabled people, a non-disabled public servant has been appointed to do that work. The news was buried in a pre-Christmas media release with a lot of talk about how disabled people would be consulted and at the table during this phase.
A group of disabled leaders and advocates say that’s not good enough. They formed an organization called Disabled Leadership Now and it’s holding an online protest rally. And I’m proud to be a part of that group. To discuss the issue with me, I’m joined by Pam McNeil. Kia ora, Pam.
Pam McNeil: Kia ora, Jonathan. Thank you for inviting me on. It’s a pleasure to be able to come along and talk to you about this today.
Jonathan Mosen: Tell me a bit about how disabled leadership now came to be.
Pam McNeil: Well, I was one of the people who actually have applied for the establishment director role, just in the interests of transparency. And like you, I was really sure that there would be a disabled person appointed to this role at long last. And it’s been a dream of mine ever since the International Year of Disabled People in 1981, so that kind of ages and shows you how long it is that we’ve been aiming for this. And I was absolutely horrified. I felt that we’d really been played like a violin, we being the sector, by government. That they had just gone along and taken what, no doubt to them, seemed like a very safe option to appoint a senior public servant. Having been a senior public servant myself, that was one of the reasons I thought that I would have a pretty good shot of getting that role.
I am at an age where I’m not looking to enhance my career or anything like that, but I felt that I had a lot to offer. And I believe that all disabled people who applied for that role had a huge amount to offer, not least the cultural capital of disablement which we all bring. So we were horrified. So I sat around and stewed about it for a long time. Well, two or three days. And then I thought this is ridiculous. There’s no point in me stewing about it. Why don’t I find out what other senior activists in the disability sector feel? And when I say the sector, I’m talking about disabled people in New Zealand. So I contacted yourself and a few other people, and we all decided that actually it would be a really good idea to get together on a zoom call and discuss the issue. And that’s how DLN was born
Jonathan Mosen: And as someone with chief executive experience in the sector and also advocacy experience, I applied as well. And I think the really interesting thing about this process was all of the disabled people that I knew about who applied were really supportive of one another. And we were all saying, look, if you get it, that’s fantastic, but the most important thing is that a disabled person ends up in the role. Why do you think that public servants felt that it was in any way going to go down as okay that a non-disabled person would have this role?
Pam McNeil: I have no idea how they ever thought on any planet that it would be okay. The only thing I can say is that they probably felt the timing would shield them somewhat so that the announcement was made right before Christmas. It was pointed out, as you said that some disabled people had been consulted. And I know that that was really a handful of people, certainly none of the senior people that have been around the traps a while, that I contacted to join this group. So I really have no clue how they would’ve thought it was appropriate.
But one of the things that really astounds me in this whole thing is the fact that people seem to think that there’s a choice. And I know we’ve talked about this before, Jonathan, there’s a choice between having a sector led by the people it supports, in this case disabled people, and people who are have the capability and the qualifications. Now lots and lots of disabled people have both, but there’s always this implied choice that oh, well, disability in itself isn’t enough. Well, it’s got to be key cultural capital for any positions within a Ministry for Disabled People, but we also have to be suitably qualified. And every one of us was suitably qualified.
Jonathan Mosen: It reeks of cultural insensitivity, doesn’t it? There’s something really wrong with the culture in New Zealand when it comes to disability. Because this is not just about this particular situation. In so many organizations we do not see disabled people in senior leadership roles. I think you could easily, with fingers to spare, count on the fingers of one hand the number of agencies, provider organizations, for disabled people that are run by us in this country.
Pam McNeil: That’s right. There’s a dearth of leadership and management by disabled people in a sector that exists in our name. And I don’t think any other grouping would put up with that at all. And it’s actually tantamount to symbolic violence to say, well, you’re not capable of doing this. And it’s complete balderdash, of course.
Jonathan Mosen: Yeah. The fundamental problem with this is that it relies on the validation of a non-disabled person, right?
Pam McNeil: Yes.
Jonathan Mosen: And so it was always going to be a struggle to actually get those people to get out of the way and ensure that disabled people take control of their own destinies.
Pam McNeil: And it’s so frustrating because of course people listening to this will think, hang on this isn’t new. And it’s not new. We’ve had exactly the same discussions when women were trying to get some power in the world. We’ve had the same sorts of issues and have continuing conversations here in Aotearoa New Zealand among Maori who would like that opportunity, too. To lead and manage their own sector and be in partnership. And that’s what we are asking for as well. We want a partnership with government and it’s completely unacceptable that we are not even being listened to.
Jonathan Mosen: I don’t know what the equivalent is, but this is the disability equivalent of barefoot and pregnant, really.
Pam McNeil: Yes.
Jonathan Mosen: Just keep us in our place. So why do you think that that it’s important that this rally take place given that the appointment has been made. We’re now in February, July is not too far away. Is it better just to focus on the next step, which will obviously be the appointment of a permanent chief executive?
Pam McNeil: I think we’ve got to make it very clear right now how incensed we are as a community that this has happened. There are some remedies that could perhaps be applied and we’ll discuss those at the rally and get some ideas from people, as well. But I think once the public see this commotion [inaudible [01:09:58] through the ministry when the establishment phase has completed. We need to be making it very, very clear that we will not accept anything, but a disabled person in that role and as key competencies and part of that skillset for all positions within a ministry for disabled people. We need to say that loudly and clearly. We need to, for example, send messages such as we’re not interested in family being substituted for disabled people. We get that a lot that people think that if their family members that means that they somehow know and understand the experience of being a disabled person. I don’t want to detract from the knowledge and experience those people have, but it isn’t the same.
And we also want to make sure that the public service commission understand that we know that one of the ploys that is often used in this type of argument is, well, we’ll get someone who doesn’t really look disabled and possibly may not even have any lived experience of disability. Again, I don’t want to offend anybody, but come on people, we need to really go with this. This is about disabled people. We need to be loud and proud here. So don’t just try and hoodwink us with someone who doesn’t really appear disabled and put them in, set them up to fail and then say, oh gosh, that’s terrible. That didn’t work out because they weren’t really able to do it. I’ve seen these things happen before and we need to let them know that we’re ready for those things.
Jonathan Mosen: Can there actually be any negative long term consequences of a non-disabled person in this transition director role? And if so, what do you think they are?
Pam McNeil: Well, in terms of setting a culture for the organization and across the public service, yes, it’s a huge negative consequence. And also in terms of accessibility. One of the things the government have said, we’ve said as disabled people, is that we want to increase accessibility across the country throughout all areas of life. And if we want to do that, we’re going to have more show of doing it if we have a ministry that’s led and managed by disabled people. With the DNA of disability all through it at every level and including every impairment type.
Jonathan Mosen: What’s going to happen at the protest rally and what’s the format of that?
Pam McNeil: We’re going to have a rally that brings together disabled people. So the rally attendance must be by disabled people. We really want to keep this as a safe space for disabled people to be able to talk. There will be a live stream for viewing only on Facebook and YouTube for part of the rally. Once we get into the more strategic side, we’ll probably close off that stream so that people do feel safe to talk. We’re so lucky to be able to have the facilitation services of Dr. Graeme Innes from Australia to support us in this and I know he’s going to do a fantastic job.
We will have a couple of video presentations from people who are key to this project, but are not able to attend in person. And we’re looking to possibly have a panel discussion. We will have some sort of strategic discussion about next steps and we thought we might look at a panel discussion for that and get ideas from the floor. And then once the rally’s over, we will look at press releases and media interviews to get the message out about our next steps.
Jonathan Mosen: Do you think this organization has a long term future or will it simply disband once this work is done?
Pam McNeil: I suspect it will have a long term future. It’s going to depend on what people think, of course, but from my perspective, I’d like to see it have a voice in areas such as the commercial sector, business sector, and of course the disability sector more widely. Particularly in the latter case, looking at leadership and management by disabled people in both the disability support services and disabled people’s organizations, but also all of the disability related work that government currently does. And I don’t think everything will hived off to the new ministry. So there’s still a lot more work to do, I think.
Jonathan Mosen: We have an amazing team of leaders, not all of whom feel that they are able to have their names disclosed on the website or in public. Do you think that’s a bit of a commentary on the climate of fear that exists in New Zealand where it’s perceived that if you rock the boat, even if you politely but firmly express yourself politically, you may be putting yourself at risk.
Pam McNeil: Yes. I think it’s a real indictment in this day and age. If I go back to the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981, that was one of the key drivers of the move to form groups like Disabled Persons Assembly. But there was a lot of fear. People were really scared that if they joined DPA, they would lose services, they would somehow be punished by service providers. And for people in residential support services, that was and is a real threat. And it’s really unfortunate that we still have remnants of that old system hanging around today and those old fears. And they’re real.
Jonathan Mosen: So if people want to find out more information, they can visit dln.org.nz, and we’re particularly keen to get disabled New Zealanders signed up for that webinar. There’s a clear link there and they can attend the online protest rally. Those outside New Zealand who might be keen to observe and non-disabled allies are welcome to check in via Facebook and YouTube. You can like Disabled Leadership Now on Facebook and you can also follow on Twitter. We’ll make sure we put all of that information in the show notes for the podcast.
So I appreciate you coming on. I personally feel really motivated and proud of what we’ve built in actually quite a short time. So we look forward to the rally on Sunday, the 13th of February.
Pam McNeil: Many thanks, Jonathan.
Speaker 6: What’s on your mind? Send an email with a recording of your voice, or just write it down. email@example.com. That’s J O N A T H A N at mushroomfm.com. Or phone our listener line. The number in the United States is 864-60-Mosen. That’s 864-60-66736.
Jonathan Mosen: Let’s say hi to Jenine Stanley who says, “Hi, Jonathan. Just wanted to give one of I’m sure many answers to Scott who was looking for a keyboard to control multiple devices via a switch. I’ve used the Logitech K480 keyboard for at least six years now. It allows pairing with up to three devices, phones, and or computers. And has a tactile switch and tactile pairing buttons. It works with Mac, Android, Windows, and iPhone/iPad devices. The keyboard itself does not have a num pad, but I believe, depending on the device you’re pairing, the function keys can have multiple uses.
I like the key travel. It’s not a nice mechanical keyboard, but it does have a good response and is designed to keep dirt and such out of the inside between the keys. Battery life is quite good. It runs two AAA batteries. And if you leave it on all the time, those batteries last about three to four months. The keys are around and because I have smaller hands, the spacing works well for me. All switches and battery compartments are easily felt. There’s an on off switch on the back recessed and not easily bumped. There’s also a slanted slot for a phone or tablet.
This keyboard does have its downsides, as well though. It’s heavy. And though it’s compact, it’s thick. It can fit into a backpack, but don’t drop it too many times. The plastic case can feel a bit unsubstantial for the bulk of the keyboard. Also, the battery cover can come off easily. My cats think this is a splendid feature though. Last I checked, it’s still available through Amazon and through Logitech. I got mine at Best Buy here in the states. I’m a huge fan of the multi-tech keyboards, safe for issues I have with the function key mapping in Macs OS.
Oh, and how can I forget cost? This keyboard was under $30 US last time I had to buy one, which was about two years ago. I’ve only replaced it once in the five years plus I’ve had them. Hope this is helpful for someone out there.”
Thank you,Jenine. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this keyboard. I guess it’s because I always think of keyboards in the context of smartphones and other household devices, but you’re absolutely right. If you’ve got Bluetooth capability on your PC, you could use one of those keyboards. And I have one myself. We use it to control a range of devices in our living room. And it’s very cool to just be able to switch seamlessly from one device to the other with that keyboard. I must say I’m not a big fan of the round keys, but for what we use it for it’s perfectly adequate and it’s done the job well for several years now.
Rebecca is chiming in on this subject and says, “I have two keyboards capable of pairing with multiple devices. The Logitech K380 runs off AAA batteries and requires you to turn the switch to the right to turn on the unit before pressing a pairing key on the top right of the keyboard. Press F1, F2, or F3, and then go to the Bluetooth settings. The keyboard should be recognized so look for the connect button on your device. The keyboard can be paired with up to three devices and you can switch between these devices using F1 through F3. The keys are rounded and there is no num pad.
My favorite keyboard is the Matias,” that’s spelt M A T I A S, “wireless Bluetooth keyboard that can be paired to four devices at once. It charges via USB. Once the device is fully charged, press the button on the right hand side. This is a full desktop keyboard with a num pad and is laid out like a Mac keyboard with control, option, and command.
The top four keys on the num pad are your pairing keys. Once you go to Bluetooth settings on your device, you can pair the keyboard as follows. For Mac, iPad, or iPhone, press the option key followed by one, two, three, or four. For Windows, press control followed by one, two, three, or four. I press one through four to cycle between the devices. This is great when I need to work on my laptop and then switch to my phone to respond to a text message. I have an M1 Mac and it is nice to switch between Mac and windows on the fly, though keeping the keyboard shortcuts straight is a problem. I do not have an Android device. So can’t provide information about Android support.”
Thank you, Rebecca. That’s helpful information. And I guess I use my Mantis in a similar way. With the Mantis here in the studio I can be working on my computer on the Mantis keyboard and if I get a text message it is no sweat to swap to the iPhone with the Mantis, write my text message reply, and then switch back. That is assuming, of course, that iOS is behaving itself with the Mantis which right now it most certainly is not.
Let there be light, that’s what I say, as we go to this contribution from Austin, Texas, and it’s Kathy Blackburn. She says, “I hope you and Bonnie enjoy your summer break and that you have a splendid Christmas and a happy new year.” Hope you did, as well, Kathy. Splendid is such a great word. She says, “Am I remembering correctly that in one of your smart home demos you asked soup drinker is the,” insert name of light, “on? If so, is that particular function supported by a soup drinker enabled light bulb or fixture? Thanks for any help.”
Kathy, I have not been able to get that functionality from the soup drinker but I have been able to get it from Siri. So let me show you what happens here. If I say, soup drinker, is the studio light on?
Amazon Echo: Studio doesn’t support that.
Jonathan Mosen: But if I say to the other thing here, the old Apple one, is the studio light on?
Siri: Your studio ceiling is on.
Jonathan Mosen: Brilliant, isn’t it? So, that’s one advantage that Siri definitely does have over the soup drinker. And I should say that these are Philips Hue lights. I don’t think there’s anything special about these. Philips Hue seem to be a very popular brand, but it is very good to have that feature with Siri.
Speaker 6: Mosen at Large podcast.
Jonathan Mosen: Hello, to David VanderMolen, who says “My place of employment uses the monday.com group task manager platform. I’m finding monday.com to be very inaccessible with JAWS and Windows 10. Do you have experience using that task manager and how did you make it work best for you? monday.com says they’re WCAG and ADA compliant, but I have found that using it with JAWS has been a frustrating experience. Has anybody used it successfully with talk back, voiceover, voice view or any other screen reader?”
I have not heard of this at all, David, so no experience from me to recount, but hopefully another listener might be able to tell you how they’re getting on with monday.com. David continues regarding using the BrailleSense U2 with Bookshare, which someone asked about in episode 162, “You can tell Bookshare that you want to download in 32 cell Braille display format. I don’t know if you can do this with NLS books because I live in Canada and don’t have access to that library.”
To sunny South Hampton in the UK we go for this contribution from Jim O’Sullivan, who says, “Hi, Jonathan, I have a Viaveto,” I’ll spell that in case anybody wants to follow up. It’s V I V A V I T O. “LunaRun treadmill. It took a little initial work with some sighted help to make it accessible. I have tactile bumps stacked to the buttons I need to use on its touch control pad. It does beep on each button press. It also has handy physical buttons that also beep on each handle bar to turn the speed and incline up and down. By learning the button presses and counting the bleeps, it’s possible to use the built in running and walking programs. A question I have is how do people keep themselves in position on the treadmill? I always hold onto the handle bar with one hand. Do people have methods which enable them to have both arms free to move.”
Jim, thanks for your contribution. I, for one, have not mastered this. I’ve tried not having either hand on one of the bars and I cannot do it. It must be a blindness related thing, but I do have one hand free to scroll through my emails or my tweets or whatever I want to do. And that seems to work okay. That’s a good question and I wonder if any blind people are able to run on the spot on the treadmill without holding on to one of the bars as a point of reference.
This email says, “Hello, Jonathan, my name is Rita House. I have been a loyal listener to your podcast, and I am grateful for your professional and timely information that is provided. I have been in the blindness rehabilitation field for many years. Your podcast is a vehicle for relevant issues that we face every day. Thank you for the high quality of all the work that you do for the blind community. Since retiring, I have joined a group of blind persons who volunteer to teach all things, Apple software and hardware. We with the TTJ team offer free Apple iOS and Mac classes. We are offering a Mac class with voiceover in January of 2022.” I’m not sure if we are too late for that. We probably are by the time this is published. “Anyone who is interested in the free TTJ voiceover courses should send an email to TTJtechplussubscribe@groups.io.” That’s TTJtechplussubscribe@groups.io. “This sign up for the one way email list that will have all the information about the courses that TTJ offers.To participate in the Mac class, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.” That’s email@example.com.
“In regards to the issue of a blind person teaching a sighted person how to use an iPhone, I wrote up the below information and hope this is helpful. Every Monday I send out an article about accessing Apple iOS devices. I call this weekly submission Rita’s i-Device Advice.” That’s catchy. “I send this article out to several list serves, including the firstname.lastname@example.org.” And here is that article.
Visual description of the icons on an Apple iOS device. Master list of the icons on an Apple iOS device. Apple’s iOS software is an extremely visual environment with icons that voiceover has been programmed to describe. An icon that is a picture or symbol on the screen used to represent an application, action, or a status message. This article will attempt to describe what a sighted person sees when looking at his or her iOS and iPad OS device. Having a basic understanding of these visual concepts can help non-sighted users explain and teach iOS to those who can see, as well as providing an easier means by which voiceover users and cited users can relate to each other. With regard to the iOS interface.
Please keep in mind that the descriptions presented in this document are based on initial layout, which you might see if you purchase a new iPhone or iPad and set it up as new, rather than restoring from a backup. As you or other people use your device changes may be made. Additional apps may be installed, thus adding new icons and much more. Additionally, the layout and descriptions presented here represent the current figuration as of iOS 13 and iPad OS. Much can change as new software updates are released. That said the information in this document is subject to change or to be inaccurate.
General overview. When your Apple device is asleep, you can wake it up in one of several ways as described in the user guides, such as pressing the home or sleep/slash wake button, or tapping/lifting your device. You are then immediately presented with the lock screen. This screen displays a padlock icon in the center of the screen with the padlock, either open or closed, depending on the current lock state of your device. Directly below that are the current time and date one above the other. This lock screen also displays any notifications you may have received while your device was asleep. Select models also display a flashlight icon in the bottom left and a camera icon in the bottom right. By default, devices with Face ID hide notification preview text until the device is unlocked.
From here, you can place your finger on the home button, devices with touch ID, or glance at your device, Face ID devices, to unlock your iPhone or iPad. If necessary, you can slide up with one finger using the bar at the very bottom center of the screen to go home. This places you on the home screen. The home screen is divided into four distinct elements. These include app icons, page selector, dock, status bar. Giving special locations on the screen for the fixed elements can help sighted people find them. For example, the status bar is at the top of the screen and the dock is the bar with app icons across the bottom of the screen. It displays the same app icons, no matter which home screen page you are on. The page selector is just above the dock. And the app icons area located between the status bar and the page selector is a grid of icons representing all the apps installed on your device. The status bar, top left and right of the screen, not a physical bar.
Many different icons can show up on the status bar depending on what services you have, et cetera. For example, an airplane icon will replace the WiFi icon if your device is in airplane mode. LTE, 3G, 4G, 5G, or others may show up depending on your current cellular service. There are indicators for personal hotspot, a call indicator when a call is in progress, location services icon, et cetera. Normally, on the top lift side of the status bar, the time is in numbers like a digital readout. Further to the right the cellular signal strength is represented by vertical bars. The stronger the signal, the more bars are represented. A maximum of four bars can show up.
To the right of that is the wifi indicator, which is two downward curved lines pointing with a dot under the two who curved lines. Some people call this graphic for WiFi a rainbow. The stronger the wifi signal. The more parts of this graphic appear filled in at the far right is the battery indicator which is like a double a battery lying on its side and the center is filled with the level of charge which changes as the charges used up or replenished. Note that the status bar also appears at the top of the lock screen.
App icon area. The majority of the home screen is comprised of the app icon area. This is a grid of apps which is laid out with usually six rows vertically of apps with four apps horizontally, in each row. Apps can be rearranged on the home screen so that they appear in the order you prefer. You can even make folders, which can store numerous apps. As new apps are installed, they most commonly appear last on the home screen. When you set up a new device, all Apple apps appear on the home screen first, followed by any third party apps you may choose to install. Additional home screen pages are automatically created as needed, so that as new apps are installed and the current home screen pages filled up, more pages will automatically appear. You can quickly swipe left and right between home screen pages, voiceover users must swipe with three fingers, or you can use the page selector to be discussed shortly. App icons on the home screen appears as squares with rounded corners. Every app icon is about the size of a thumbnail. Each app has a background color, an actual picture symbolizing the app and the text name of the app, which appears just below the icon itself.
Page selector. The page selector is a series of gray dots just above the doc. If you have six pages of apps, then there will be six dots in the row side by side, to show how many pages there are. Voiceover will say page two of six. So if you are on page two, that page is represented by a white dot. Note that on iPhone devices, the first page of apps is actually considered page two, because the Today view and widgets panel occupy page one. Users never automatically land on page one. They must use the page selector or the swipe gesture to get there. The dock. The dock is represented as a gray round cornered rectangle across the bottom of the home screen. On an iPhone, the dock can support four app icons.
These four icons remain the same, no matter what home screen page the slider takes you to. You can change which apps appear on the dock. The current default apps on the dock for iPhone devices, are phone, Safari messages and music. You can move the apps on the doc around just like other apps. The phone app is green with a white handset of an old telephone. The messages’ icon is green with a solid white speaking bubble. The Safari app is white with a compass graphic and the music app is a white app with a two musical eighth note graphic. General app icon descriptions. Please note that the following app descriptions are based solely on the native app or apps that ship with every iPhone, as of iOS 13.5. Note also, that apps requiring special attention, will contain an app badge, a red circle with a white number, at the upper right hand corner of the app icon.
For example, if you have three unread messages, the messages app will have an app badge with the number three. Some of the below apps may be in a folder called Utilities, and the way we’ll do this is we’ll read the name of the app, then describe its color and then its icon. Apple Store, white, blue shopping bag with white apple that has a bite taken out. App Store, blue, white capital letter A. Books, orange, white open book. Calculator, white, black calculator image. Calendar, white, current day of week in red data numbers in black. Camera, gray, black old fashioned Polaroid camera. Clips, white, blue circle with white movie camera. Clock, black, white face of clock with current time in black analog. Compass, black, white compass image with cardinal directions, W, E, N, S. Contacts, white, circle with person image and colored tabs like an address book. FaceTime, green, white movie camera. Files, white, blue file folder.
Find My, gray, green and blue circular radar. Garage band, orange white guitar image. Health, white, red heart symbol. Home, white, orange house. IMovie, purple, white five pointed with a purple movie camera. ITune Store, dark pink, white five point star. Keynote, blue, white podium. Male, blue, white envelope. Maps, multi-colored. Interstate graphic, white directional arrowhead in blue circle. Measure, black, white ruler markings with yellow horizontal dotted line. Messages, green, solid white speaking bubble like in cartoons. Music, white, two multicolored eighth notes tied with bar. News, white, red striped capital letter N. Notes, yellow heading, white below, gray lines across.
Numbers, green, four white vertical bars. Pages, orange, white slanted pencil with straight horizontal line. Phone, green, white old fashioned handset phone. Photos, white, pinwheel of primary colors. Podcasts, purple, two white circles with a microphone symbol in the middle. Reminders, white, three colored bullet points each with a gray horizontal line after them. Safari, white, blue compass with die final needle in white and red. Settings, gray, dark gray gear wheel. Shortcuts, black, red and blue squares on top of each with space in between. Stocks, black, white horizontal graphic line with blue vertical line with blue. TV, black, white apple with word TV in white. Voice memos, black, red and white vertical sound wave lines. Wallet, black, multicolored rectangle with rows representing credit card slots. Watch, black, white watch side view. Weather, blue, white cloud with partial sunshine behind it.
Notification Center, white hitter style letters, Notification Center. In the Settings app, the notification icon is red and within it is a white rounded corner square outline with a white ball at the right top corner. However, in the Notification Center, each notification will be a gray rectangle with rounded corners and the icon within at the top left of the rectangle, will look like whatever app is sending the notification. Control center. You can add other app icons to the Siri, so you may run across someone’s phone. That is set up a little differently. By default, there are two black round cornered squares side by side, near the top, with icons in them. The one on the left has four icons, two on top and two below. In the top left is the airplane mode icon. It is a gray circle with a white small airplane.
In the top right is the cellular data icon. It is a green circle with a graphic that resembles a small radio tower. In the bottom left of the square is the wifi icon. In the bottom right is the Bluetooth icon. It is based on the shape of the Viking rune letters, H and B, which stands for Harald Bluetooth, a Viking king. It represents somewhat a small paper clip lying on its side or a small bow on its side. The square on the right is the music app and has a white play button arrow in the middle and gray left rewind and gray right fast forward buttons on the right. In that top right corner of the app is the airplane icon, which looks like a target of white circles with a gray, tiny triangle at the bottom and within the circles. Below the large square on the left at two small icons. On the left is the screen orientation lock.
It is black with a white, small padlock symbol and a white partial arrow circling around it. To the right of that is the do not disturb icon. It is white with a gray quarter moon symbol. Below that is a small black round cornered rectangle, screen mirroring app. It has two small white outlined rectangles overlapping each other and the words screen mirroring. To the right of those apps are two long black narrow vertical slider apps. The one on the left controls the screen brightness. The slider is white and has a small gray sun symbol on it. To the right of that is the black volume control. The slider is white and has a small speaker symbol on it. Below that from left to right on most iPhones. Are four apps, all are black with white graphics representing each app. But the flashlight app, a timer app has a partial circle outline with a needle, points to the 10 o’clock position.
A calculator app image resembles a calculator and a camera app image looks like a camera. Below that at the bottom left to right are three additional apps. All are black with white graphics representing each app. The home app looks like a house nested within a house. Low power mode icon looks like a double AA battery on its side, and the QR code app looks like four corner brackets with four small squares inside.
Other common icons within iOS apps. Many Apple apps, and even a variety of third party apps conform to standard implementations of common icons, such as back, share and cancel, just to name a few. Learning what these icons look like can help you to recognize them thus in the ability to learn and use new apps. Back button, a left pointing arrow. Share option a rectangle with an up pointing arrow or three dots. Attachments, a paper clip. More options, a circle with three dots in the middle. Edit, the word edit in a square. Add, the plus sign. Cancel, the word cancel. Search, gray long round corner rectangle with gray outline of magnifying glass, the gray word search and a gray microphone.
\And that concludes the article. Thank you so much Rita for allowing us to read that on the podcast, because I think that will be of tremendous help to many people who have cited family members who want to assist them, but perhaps realize that the interface is just so different when you’re using voiceover, that there may be a bit of a communication gap there.
Speaker 5: Like the show? Then why not like it on Facebook too? Get upcoming show announcements, useful links and a bit of conversation. Head on over now to facebook.com/mosenatlarge. That’s facebook.com/M-O-S-E N at large, to stay connected between episodes.
Jonathan Mosen: Jim Wrights. Hi Jonathan, I hope you are having a good break. It’s just a distant memory already now, a distant memory. I really appreciated your Chromebook series. I purchased one after hearing that series. One thing I have been trying to chase down is if there are home and end key commands. I wonder if there are home and end of line keyboard commands both for Chromevox and in Chrome OS when editing something. I use home and end all the time and windows to get myself to the beginning or end of a line, and it would be nice with the Chromebook reading as well. I have only had the Chromebook for a few days. I purchased a Lenovo Chromebook, the one recommended by the Wire Cutter website, as a good pick for most people.
Thanks for writing in Jim. And of course on most laptops, you will find a function key. And very often, if you press function key with left arrow, you get home and function key, right arrow, you get end. You don’t have those on Chromebooks. I did a quick search of documentation online, and that documentation says that you can press control, alt, up arrow to get the home function and control, alt, down arrow to get the end function. But I’m not sure what home and end actually does on Chrome OS, whether it will take you to the beginning of the line and the end of the line, because of course, if that’s what you have to press. To get home and end you can’t press control, home to get to the top of a file and control, end to get to the bottom, because one of the modifiers to get the initial home key is the control key.
So have a play with those keys in Chrome OS, see what they do and you may have figured it all out by now anyway, because this email came through just ahead of Christmas. But I hope you’re enjoying your shiny Lenovo Chromebook.
Let’s go to Los Angeles and hear from John who sent this email on Christmas Eve. He says, “Hello, Jonathan, I truly enjoyed the terrific recent exchange between new and Mike of Florida, wherein you took a slightly different view of blindness specific products like the Victor reader stream, but did so in such a polite and courteous way, all the while complimenting one another. A nice bit of civility in a world that could use a lot more. I am writing however, because of a comment you made about how some blind people refer to quote “blind ghetto products”, or looking down on the skills or lack thereof of other blind users of technology. I was so glad you were critical of this type of condescension. I have never heard you either directly or implicitly be in any way condescending or critical of those who are not as technologically adept as you are, which let’s be honest as almost everyone because you are incredibly adept.”
“Sadly, I have noticed this from other blind, including some who are stars or celebrities in the blind community. For example, I can think of one who is a celebrity here in the USA. While he is rightly praised for all the things he has done and accomplished, I have noticed both in his book and at a speaking engagement of his, I attended, that he says things that intentionally or not. I interpret it as condescending to some blind individuals, who are not as accomplished as he is. In fact, for a brief time, I have to admit he even made me feel a bit inadequate on my own blind skills. I thankfully got beyond that quickly because while I have not achieved the progress I would like to make in using technology, et cetera, I keep working at it. Mostly get better, and my life is thankfully very happy and full.”
“Yes, I am a lucky person, but I worry about others who like me became blind later in life who may not have the wonderful support at work I have, or maybe just has a different skillset that does not work as well as my own skillset, which again is lucky for me and no disrespect to anyone else. Unlike the person I am referring to, when I hear about your skills with technology, I never feel inadequate. Rather, I am inspired to try to do more. I am a realist. I will almost certainly never come close to your skills with technology and I am fine with that. As I said, my life is full and I have other skills and a lot of support from my wonderful family and the Braille Institute here in Los Angeles, that help me to enjoy my life.
“So please keep doing what you do. Inspire us and others, who may not even realize it, to never demean or condescend, anyone who is trying to make their life better, but who, for whatever reason, have a more difficult path. Finally, as I am writing this on Christmas eve in Los Angeles, I am sure it is already Christmas Day in your wonderful city of Wellington, a place my wife and I visited a few years ago and loved. I want to wish you, Bonnie, and all the members of your family, who you generously share with your podcast family, a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2022. Enjoy your time away from the podcast and again, thank you so much for all you do.”
Well, thank you for your email, John. I do really appreciate that. And the thing is we are all on a path of learning in some area or another aren’t we? If you ask me to fill a podcast with what I know about repairing mechanical things or doing things with carpentry, which is something that will come up in a future podcast soon actually, or maybe even this one, depending on how many letters I get through, then it would be a very short podcast. And that’s the thing. We all have strengths and weakness. We take to certain things and other people take to other things. And there’s no shame in that. It’s just that we all are humans with different strengths and weaknesses, and I don’t think that belittling people for that is helpful.
John: Yes. Hello Jonathan, this is John in Los Angeles. Coincidentally enough a day or two, before you talked about it on your podcast. I was working with my Victor Stream, and my son was helping with helping me with something. And he asked me, “What does that do that you can’t do on your iPhone?”, which made me pause and think about it. And then you talked about it on your podcast the last couple of weeks. And I’ve given a lot of thought. And I want to say I really liked your comment in the last podcast where you express the importance that whatever works for everyone is the best, as long as they are informed and make intelligent decisions, et cetera. That’s absolutely correct. Your way is best for you. My way’s best for me, et cetera, typical of your intelligent comments. But I wanted to, you also asked for reasons some of us still use the stream and I wanted to give you a couple of reasons why I do.
Each morning, I get up and I listen to the newspaper as I’ve done most of my life, thanks to the NFB news line, I listen to six or seven newspapers every day. And I switch between newspapers, sections, articles, et cetera. Usually at the start of this, I do it while I’m on my treadmill. And because I had a fall last year and had some minor injury, I’m very nervous about being cautious while on the treadmill, and I always like to keep at least one hand, if not, both holding onto something while I’m doing my morning workout. I have found that I can move the Victor Stream from one article to another, to another newspaper, with one hand while holding onto the other. So for safety reasons alone, it makes more sense for me to use the Victor Stream while I’m on the treadmill. Although I’ve gotten better at doing one handed things on my iPhone, but the treadmill is just so much easier.
Also, anything tactile, I think for most blind people is easier. Obviously the iPhone, I use it as to most of us now, but tactile is incredibly important and helpful. Also and I will admit, part of this is I learned the Victor Stream before I learned my iPhone. So I’m used to the different things I can do on the Victor. I can maneuver it much faster and quicker, because it’s what I’m familiar with.
Also, one other thing I wanted to mention is that when I used to do a lot of international flying, doing transatlantic trans-Pacific flights, couple of three times a year. And because of that, I bought some noise reduction headphones, because it’s hard to hear on these planes. Using the headphones is much more difficult with the iPhone now that they’ve taken away the earpiece. I can still do it of course, but you have to use that adaptive thing.
I can use my Victor with my noise reduction phones much more easily. And since I’m home, mostly now, thanks to COVID, unfortunately, it’s not such a big deal to carry around the two devices or to leave my phone in my pocket and carry my Victor Stream. One other thing I wanted to mention, that was a gentleman, I think he was calling from England and he used a third device. I still have at my bedside table, the device that the NLS, the National Library Service in the United States provides for us to listen to books, downloaded from Barred. I have it right there on my bedside table. I find it to be the easiest of all these devices, as far as moving it around in a book, changing tone, speed, et cetera. If you’ve ever seen one, it’s bulky, it’s not the kind of thing you want to take anywhere. But when I’m in my room, it’s right there.
I don’t have to take it anywhere. It works very well. So I will use that to listen to books when I’m lying in bed or just sitting in my room sometimes, because it’s just a little bit easier to use than the iPhone. And the Victor are just maybe a little more helpful in some respects. In other words, I like to take advantage of all these devices. Again, please be an informed consumer. Do what’s best for you. For me, I love my iPhone. I love my Victor Stream and I’m glad I’m able to afford both and feel very lucky in that regard. Lastly, I just want to say, since you’ll be off for six weeks and enjoying time with your family, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know your wonderful family. Sounds like you all deserve a great vacation. Thank you so much for the podcast and keep on doing what you’re doing. It’s so helpful to myself and many others like me.
Jonathan Mosen: Dan Teveld says Hi, Jonathan. I hope you and your family are enjoying the holidays. Lately on the podcast, there has been a healthy discussion about the use of the word blind. I would like to raise the topic of the words rehab and rehabilitation. When these words are used in a blindness specific context, I find them very offensive. The words imply that there is something wrong with us, which needs to be fixed. The use of any word related to rehab or rehabilitation, comes from the medical model of disability, which I don’t like. There is nothing wrong with us as blind people and I think we should be proud of our accomplishments. I do understand the need for words to describe the process of becoming an independent blind person. People need to learn Braille with an uppercase B, orientation and the mobility and other skills, to function independently in the sighted world.
Why do we need to use the word rehabilitation and its derivatives to describe this process? If someone loses their sight or just needs more independent living skills, this shouldn’t imply that there something wrong with the person. For all of us, whether blind or sighted, learning is a lifetime activity. We learn new skills to adapt to changing life circumstances, just like any sighted person does. There is nothing wrong with us. We just need to adapt and change from time to time. Last year, I lost my job and had to open a case with the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services. I found through my own initiative a part-time job using LinkedIn. My counselor at the Illinois Department of Employment Security, found a technical school where I will be studying web development next year, the school has been very accommodating, by providing and configuring a computer with NVDA and their education software.
All I get from the rehabilitation agency is a constant argument about my education and employment goals. Their ideas are so rigid. They think I should either pursue an employment or education goal, but not both at the same time, I keep pointing out that some sighted people work part time and pursue an education. The only thing the state of it annoy provided me is a Mantis Braille display, and that happened only because I qualify for services as part of the general ticket To Work program, under the auspices of the Social Security Administration. Even that program is rigid, and I only got what I needed by wearing everyone down. I questioned the need for the separate and unequal employment services, just because I am blind. For many of us, the rehabilitation concept is just an unnecessary racket, which accomplishes nothing. Well, that’s throwing the cat amongst the pigeons there, Dan, and thank you for your thoughts on that.
I must say I haven’t thought about the word rehabilitation before, and I will think about that some more and I’d be interested to find out whether other people think as you do, that the word is not appropriate to use in 2022. Sometimes we do hold on to these words longer than we ought to. I know here in New Zealand, we have concept of habilitation and rehabilitation. So habilitation would be for people who’ve been blind all their lives and rehabilitation would be for people who’ve become blind later in life. So it’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought to. It seems though that you’re making two points in one here. You’re talking about the words that we use, but then you’re talking about the need for the services at all. And I’m not sure that I agree on that second point. It is something that I’ve been thinking about recently because we’ve been having some discussions here in New Zealand about whether there is a need for, for example, specialized employment services, not just for blind people, but disabled people.
And I suppose in an ideal world, where you have people who are well understanding of the capabilities of blind people and people with other impairments, maybe there wouldn’t be a need for some sort of specialized service, but that’s not the world we live in. And I don’t think it’s going to be the world that we will be living in anytime soon. And of course, as you have done, there is nothing that actually precludes us from making the most of both options. You can enroll in a specialized agency while also pursuing mainstream options, like looking for things on LinkedIn and other job sites. And just having somebody go through the newspaper with you in the job section. Whatever it takes. So the two aren’t mutually exclusive. But a good talking point for sure and I’ll be interested to see whether others, like you think the term rehabilitation has had its day.
I love to hear from you. So if you have any comments you want to contribute to the show, drop me an e-mail written down or with an audio attachment, to Jonathan J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N @mushroomfm.com. If you’d rather call in, use the listener line number in the United States, 8-6-4-6-0-6-6-7-3-6.
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