NEAER Conference Presentation

At the recent Northeast Chapter of the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (NE/AER) conference in South Portland, I presented, “Access Technology Wading Pool,”  to suggest low tech ways professionals and consumers might learn more about access technology. Here are links to the material presented at the conference:

Access Technology Wading Pool Notes as large print Word doc

Amazon Echo example commands

Below is a copy of the presentation notes:

Steve Kelley, CRC, CVRT

NEAER Presentation, Access Technology Wading Pool

“Start With Why,” from Simon Sinek

 I am an access technology missionary! On a good day I wake up in the morning dreaming or scheming about how people who have lost their ability to read can get back to accessing print. Often that happens by engaging some piece of access technology or a gadget. I am deeply saddened whenever I think of anyone unable to access a good book, the newspaper, a magazine or the computer screen.

Why are we here?

Many of our clients are looking for resources and training in access technology and when they finally do find us want our help and resources.

Here are the challenges we are facing:

  1. Some of us are not very comfortable with technology
  2. Many of our clients, particularly those with a recent vision loss are either new to technology or new to access Technology, or both
  3. We have Increasingly limited funding sources for AT and or training

Let me share this quote, from Ken Robinson, in his book, “Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative,”

“The proliferation of digital technologies has created what has been called the biggest generation gap since rock and roll.”

In effect, those of us over the age of 30 speak Digital as a second language if we speak it at all and this is challenging for both the service provider and the client

So the challenges are not going away!

How do we create a potential convert to Access Tech?

Epiphany 1: Show clients a compelling solution– Personal NY Times spreadsheet story

Lotus Symphony with spreadsheets and text editing with no white out!!

I share this story because It is typical of where our clients may be—reluctant to get started but if shown a compelling reason potential converts. The same is also true for us!

Technology epiphany 2! How do you learn what you don’t know? And why is it important?

How my lunch got eaten at DRI?

  1. The truism—we don’t know what we don’t know–where to find AT if you never needed it!
  2. Optometrist Dr. Bill Takeshita’s story in one of his podcasts: ( starts at 6:24),

“I never really thought there would be a time when I could read faster by listening. I always thought that I was quite a fast reader but I find now that my hearing is so tuned in to using the Eloquence speech synthesizer that I can read and comprehend much better when I listen, as compared to even when I had perfect vision!”

I am here because my second language, Digital has a dialect called Access Technology and I am just trying to spread the word!

How do we get there? How do we become converts and share this with our clients?

  1. Sometimes it’s easy…just share what you know—computers and tablets can speak, the font can be enlarged… Access Technology exists and might help with reading, when using the computer, or to keep a job in the workplace.
  2. Here’s a recent example , George Calvert author of “Getting Back to Work with JAWS” tell brief story
  3. Sometimes you just have to be sneaky…using a gadget clients already know, or can get for free ot low cost, like The Talking Book Player.
  4. Here’s another example, using the Talking Book Player at the Iris Network Rehab Center as the least common denominator for clients with limited technology experience
  5. Is anyone here a Talking Book Master? Using advanced features as a foundation for training as the lowest common denominator
  6. The VisionAware article by the same name Getting Your Feet Wet… has a comprehensive list of links for NLS resources
  7. Purchasing blank cartridges or flash drives, downloading audio files, using the advanced buttons for playback, etc.
  8. Demonstration of using the advanced features: menu and playback
  9. Here are some Sources of training materials all listed on
    1. Seminars@Hadley-
    2. iFocus series for iOS users, also on Hadley
    3. AirsLA
    4. Podcasts such as Cool Blind Tech, Apple Vis, Talking Computers, Mystic Access, Accessible World Tek Talk, Blind Abilities

Be Creative!

  1. Cue file 7: Create your own MP3 audio recordings to put on cartridges with an app like HiQ MP3 recorder or another recorder
  2. Cue file 3: Convert text to audio MP3 using a free service like

Intoducing Amazon Echo and Other Personal Assistants

Hello Alexa
Hello Siri
Hello Google

Incomplete concepts and digital assistants. Very specific tasks can be performed but the concept is not taught—I’m not learning to use Outlook or the Google calendar with digital assistants just getting a specific task done.

Consider the person’s goals?

The Amazon Echo as simple Access Tech

Alexa’s simplicity

  1. Depends on someone else setting it up first
  2. Access to WIFI
  3. Learning Commands for specific Skills
  4. Demonstration of Amazon Echo technology- Open AppleVision Podcast on TuneIn
  5. Demonstration of Reading – Open Triangle Radio Reading Service on TuneIn
  6. To Do List to help remember some Commands
  7. Reading Audible Book
  8. Demonstrate Calendar

Versions of Alexa to reduce cost:

  1. Echo $179
  2. Tap $129
  3. Dot $49!

Remaining time:











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