Resources, Conferences, updates

some resources from the conference interview circuit, including two Apple apps with podcasts. More to come…


Vision Technology — 10 Quests

Technology Vision Quests:
A Technology Journey!

Computers, phones, and other devices can enhance our comfort and productivity while living with low vision. Yes, but this requires constantly solving problems in changing technology as our vision is also changing. Nobody has an easy journey. Here is a series of “quests” that each improve quality of life and build skills for future quests. Demonstrations will be available in our hands-on class.

Quest 1. Screen appearance should accommodate your vision needs.

You shouldn’t have to strain your eyes if you are a screen, keyboard, or mouse PC user, likewise for smaller phone and tablet screens. If you push your eyesight as far as possible, there are other options, using other senses.

How? Apply Windows Ease of Access options available at startup or on the control panel. Wizards and Microsoft tutorials online are helpful, but you need to fiddle for your personal vision changes. Ditto for MACs.

Common Problem: Glare.
Solution: dark background to diminish light.

The “Cursor” is the pointer, bar, object, that moves around the screen to the location of activity. It can be controlled by an external “mouse”, a laptop finger touch pad, or keys.

Problem: Losing screen cursor location,
Solution: Adjust size, speed, trails, shapes of the cursor.

Problem: Activating screen elements, such as scroll bars.
Solution: choose a high contrast theme that makes screen elements stand out.

Demonstration: Entering Ease of Access, changing screen appearance, and making changes persistent.

Quest 2. Work your keyboard More to relieve screen pointing problems.

When your eyesight has fuzzy sections, isn’t exactly on target, moves to the wrong part of the screen, or makes you tired, you can learn a vocabulary of keystrokes to move around the screen. Application “Shortcuts” perform common actions, if you remember to use them.

Common problem: finding X in upper corner to close a window.
Solution: Use ALT-TAB to cycle through Windows then click ALT-F4 to close.

Demonstration: Tour the menus of your favorite application by keystroke alone, no mouse pointing. !

Put dots on the keys that help you remember the keyboard. Examples: Win, Tabs Lock, Esc, F4, 5, 0, DEL, :, cmd,… Become a better touch typist while you master applications.

Quest 3 Magnification Looks into screen details.

For some people, magnification brings out just the detail they need to read text by eyesight. However, fuzzy areas, holes, and wiggly lines may not be helped by magnification. Give it a try.

How? Turn on the magnifier in Ease of Access, adjust its level and contrast

Note: some mouse devices have an attached magnifier. Or learn to move magnifier by keystroke (??)

Quest 4. Let your computer read to you.

Your computer can speak what you cannot see clearly. Your quest is to find and become acquainted with its speech characteristics, accents, rates, emphases, and options. Dozens of synthetic voices are waiting to tryout as your preferred computer voice companion.

Demonstration: listen to text in male/female human-like voices.

Warning: Don’t be overcome by “Synthetic Voice Shock”! Practice listening and soon you will become unaware of the voice and the text will be as if reading by eyesight or listening to a predictable performing human. You may still prefer a stellar narrator reading a novel, while synthetic voices read anything, never get bored, in any language, faster than normal, and interchangeable by gender and character.

Quest 5: Use Text-to-Speech to Read all print you can’t see.

“Assistive Technology” products are technology and that require new skills, such as listening to synthetic voices.

  • A commercial product, ZoomText, can read text under your magnifier
  • Free NVDA (for NonVisual Desktop Access) is easily installed to use keyboard commands to read content of windows, including browsers and web pages. Example: h for heading, k for links, g for graphic, b for button, etc.
  • JAWS (Job Access With Speech…) is a commercial (expensive) and more powerful version of a screen reader like NVDA.
  • Windows 10 has a built-in Narrator that reads screen elements and text. Turned on within Ease of Access.
  • Devices exist to read QX codes, prescription instructions, clothing colors, food can labels. Your local bank ATM has a voice interface to dispense your cash.
  • A flip phone, the LG Revere 3, can read menus and contacts plus call by voice command.

Note: Speech recognition, or Speech to text” is a different technology, obeying vocal commands..

Demonstration: A synthetic voice reading a web page, showing how to move around the page.

Hints to Build Skills: Learning a screen reader is more than memorizing its key strokes. You build mental maps of your windows. Tour (by letter h) the headings or links (letter k). Alas, many website’s are simply not very accessible.

Quest 6. Write without looking by hearing your writing.

Some devices will translate dictated speech to text, but at the peril of embarrassing mistakes and annoying editing. Magnification may show your text but also distract your thoughts.

How? Text-to-speech can echo your typing by letter or by word, even beeping for capitol letters. You just have to practice, listen carefully, correct often, and then replay your whole text. Bless those spell checkers!

Demonstration: Turn on Narrator or NVDA for screen reading. Open Notepad, the simplest text editor. Type words and listen to letters and words being typed. Learn to correct your mistakes quickly. Holding your thought throughout a sentence is challenging.

Quest 7: Join the Big Time on your iPhone, the “do-everything” device.

Note: Most of the following apply to the iPad and the iPod Touch without the phone).

What’s so great about the iPhone? First, bless Steve Jobs, Apple designers committed to designing for disability. And they succeeded, and even maintain a special 24 hour help line. Second, Apple encourages “accessible” apps, those extra functions and games you download from the App Store. Third, the medium of pod casting keeps people communicating about disability, assistive technology, accessibility, games, books, organizations, heroes, helpers, doctors, and other information — all for free!

Some special apps beloved by confident users with vision loss include:

  • Money Reader: just aim the camera at a bill, hear its denomination
  • KNFB, a pricey but useful app that helps point the camera over a printed page, then converts text from the picture, then reads to you, e.g. a business card, legal document, invitation,…
  • “Seeing Eye”, and others, find meaningful text, e.g. “green beans” on a food label or “IRS” on an envelope.
  • Voice Dream, reads documents, books, and newspapers in nice voices that come with the phone or from the Voice Store.
  • AI RL, Be My Eyes, and other services provide a person as your remote viewer, e.g. identifying objects or telling street locations.
  • GPS apps read names of locations you’re bypassing, and plot directions to destinations, and tell names and distances to restaurants, stores, and public buildings.
  • and Blindfold games, and Twitter, and audio described movies, and… and…

Beware: The iPhone can rule your life!

How? In the Apple Settings, go to General then Accessibility. VoiceOver controls the speech rate and voices. Screens can be set for contrast, zoom, text size, color, etc.

VoiceOver will read the screen elements and text. You must, gradually, learn the gesture vocabulary of taps, swipes, and flicks by number of fingers and directions. You can learn apps and iDevices by listening to podcasts.

Shortcut: Triple Click quickly the Home button and VoiceOver will begin speaking.

Quest 8 Sign up for “Eyesight Podcast College”.

That new media, podcasting, is your home campus for learning. Podcast episodes are your lectures, and podcast moderators your instructors, and podcatchers your lecture delivery system. No cost, some ads, explicit language, caring moderators, no degrees, consume as much as you want…

Podcatchers are apps that subscribe and download recordings for listening, as in radio types of content. Dozens of vision-related organizations deliver podcasts for demonstration and discussion of vision-related issues and technology.

Demonstration: Download iCatcher and subscribe to great podcasts: Eyes On Success; Hadley School seminars; Blind Bargains product sales; American Federation for Blind Main Menu; Easter Seals Assistive Tech Update; and dozens more.

Hear the voices, emotions, debates, and gripes of a community of people like us, living normal lives.

Quest 9: Read fiction, nonfiction, and news from the “Bookshare college library”.

Bookshare.org is an online library with over half a million books scanned by volunteers or donated by publishers. Best sellers, classics, technical tomes, young adult, international reports, romance, suspense, and much more. Also available are newspapers from across the country, including AZ Republic, NYTimes and Washington Post, plus magazines like AARP, Time, Science News, Economist, and New Yorker.

These books and magazines are NOT human narrated as in the Talking Book Library. Rather, you download the book file from the Bookshare website then read it in Voice Dream on an iPhone or a special reading device sold as the Victor Reader Stream. You can also read the books online in a web browser.

Bookshare has funding from the Department of Education for all US schools and shares with other countries. Cost is $50 a year, limited to 100 books per month, requiring certification for “print disability” (qualified by Talking Book).

Demonstration: Look up the current most popular book (probably Harry Potter) and read on iPhone Voice Dream.

Quest 10: Exploit your knowledge and skills.

What next?

  • Book club using Talking Book and Bookshare.
  • Online gamer clubs
  • Our own podcast as we conquer our quests
  • Swap and sell and refurbish computers, readers, magnifiers,…
  • Event sat the Public Libraries.
  • Podcast follow up discussions

Susan Gerhart lost vision starting at age 50 from extreme myopia, long eyeballs that degenerate over time. She visited assistive technology exhibitions, listened to hundreds of podcasts, found the NVDA screen reader, grooved into the iPhone, and collected thousands of books from Bookshare. The above is her personal series of quests, passing rapidly through screen adaptation and magnification, by necessity, into an audio world. She loves her white cane, the cheapest and most robust, assistive technology and has laundered way too many pairs of ear buds.

Contact: 928.848.9292 (iPhone), slger123@gmail.com. Information page “Living Visually Impaired in Prescott AZ” at https://AsYourWorldChanges.wordpress.com.


Coming Course: Living With Low Vision

  • What:Confident Living with Low Vision Course
  • When:Spring 2019 March 7,14,21,28,April 4
    Thursdays 1:00 to 3:15 p.m.
  • Where:Prescott United Methodist Church Campus
    505 West Gurley Street
    Douglas Meeting Room across from the People Who Care office.
  • Registration: is a must! Call 928-445-2480.
    A family member or friend is welcome to participate in the course.
    Course is limited to 30 participants.
  • Topics

    • Understanding Medical Conditions of the Eye,
    • Research & Treatment, Vitamins Make a Difference
    • Orientation & Mobility, Guide Dogs
    • Getting Organized, Safety Steps,
    • Reading and Writing & Lighting Tips, ‘Your Home is Your Castle’
    • Community Resources
    • Dealing with Life’s Changes
    • Audio and other Useful Technologies

Members of Catch the Vision will tell our assistive technology stories and illustrate, for example: Basic Apple VoiceOver use; iPhone and iPad reading and recognition apps; Pen Friend note taker; computer screen readers; and entertainment products.

Highly Recommended!!!


Recommended Vision-Related Apps and Podcasts

Vision Information Recommendations

slger123@gmail.com https://CatchTheVision.life

Recommended APPLE IOS Apps that solve vision problems

  • ‘Money Reader’ tells denominations of bills
  • ‘Voice Dream’ reads PDF text, BookShare, Gutenberg$10, additional voices for $3
  • ‘KNFB’ converts graphical PDF and Camera images to and reads text ($$$)
  • ‘Seeing AI’ Recognizes short text, color, objects, faces, currency, …) (Microsoft experiment, free)
  • ‘Airs LA’ directory of podcasts and news
  • ‘Access World’ articles from AFB Magazine
  • ‘VOStarter’ VoiceOver tutorial
  • ‘Clear Record’, Audio Memos, and other voice note takers
  • ‘Blindsquare’ GPS and surroundings guide ?$20
  • ‘Be My Eyes’ remote viewer, several others on service plan
  • ‘Digit Eyes’ label and barcode reader
  • ‘Blind Bargains’ online store
  • Pod catcher iCatcher$3
  • Native IOS notes, news, …

Note: Find these in the app store, requiring AppleId and credit card to buy

Recommended Podcasts on Vision-Related Topics

(Podcatcher iCatcher) also Stitcher Radio and native Podcasts app

  • ‘Eyes On Success’, weekly interviews, 400 past shows
  • ‘AppleVis’ News and VoiceOver App reviews, ratings, and forums — ESSENTIAL
  • ‘Blind Abilities’ human interest interviews and reviews
  • ‘Low Vision Technology’ demonstrations by a low vision doctor
  • ‘I See using various technologies from a blind person’s perspective’, product demos
  • ‘All Cool Blind Tech’, app demos and discussions
  • ‘Assistive Technology Update’ from Indiana Easter Seals plus ‘Accessibility Moment’ descriptions
  • ‘AccessibleWorld.org’ (not a podcast, mp3 on website), product reviews, book clubs
  • NFB and ACB Conference presentations and product reviews (streamed in July)


use ‘add podcasts’ then search by podcast name or using keywords ‘blind’, ‘low vision’, ‘visually impaired’, …

Please comment, suggest additions or deletions, and tell your experience.


The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining us!

About Us

` “Catch the Vision” is a group of low vision and blind individuals who together have many years’ experience using electronic devices and products for daily living. We share information about the different devices, products and software we use for our particular needs.

Because of our collective experiences we help to point individuals to the services that can help them to lead an active and independent life. We welcome family members and caregivers to learn about these products and services in order to help those with loss of vision.

Focusing on accessibility, pedestrian safety and promoting public awareness is a major topic of discussion, since we are out and about with our white canes and guide dogs.

Living a fulfilling and independent life is what we are all about! We share tips, evaluate products and various services in the Prescott, Prescott Valley and outlying areas.

Come join us at the Prescott Library, 215 E Good win Street in the Bump Room on the main floor, every first and third Monday of each month, (except holidays) from 1:00 to 3:00 PM.

Email us

blockquote>Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.
-Izaak Walton

Group, Products

Readers, Writers, Phones, and more assistants

Catch the Vision with these Assistants

We have experience with the following assistive technology tools and services.

General Apple

Screen Readers

Software that reads text and operates Windows PCs

  1. NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access)
  2. ZoomText
  3. JAWS
  4. Dolphin Guide

IOS VoiceOver

Text to speech interface for iPhone and iPad

  1. Learning to listen
  2. Managing Voices
  3. Screen gestures
  4. Reading text

Viewers and Text Readers

  1. CCTV magnifier
  2. Sonar alert
  3. Optical recognition camera
  4. Victor Stream reader and recorder

iPhone Basics

  1. Calls and Contacts
  2. GPS and directions
  3. Web surfing
  4. Notes, reminders


  1. Pen Friend labeler
  2. Felt dots markers
  3. Color identifiers
  4. ID-Mate bar code reader

iPhone Apps

  1. Money Reader
  2. Short text reader
  3. Long text converter (KNFB)
  4. Podcatchers


  1. Prescott and Yavapai Network
  2. AZ Digital Talking Books
  3. Bookshare.org
  4. NFB NewsLine

Book Readers

  1. Amazon Kindle app
  2. BARD Talking Book
  3. VoiceDream reader
  4. Audible

How Can We Help You

  1. Upgrade your skills using assistive technology we understand
  2. Join us to help others progress with their assistive technology
  3. Invite us to demonstrate and overview assistive technology

How Can You Help Us?

  1. Support the
    Prescott Public Library YouToo program for basic training in assistive technology and access to reading
  2. Refer people losing vision to People Who Care and the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic Support Groups plus the Veterans Administration and Arizona state vision rehabilitation services
  3. Organize a way to exchange used assistive technology
  4. Build a business case to advocate for state rehab services and low vision professionals
  5. Assure that persons losing vision remain active readers and communicators.

Reach us Contact@CatchTheVision.LifeLogo for "Catch the Vision", a group of low vision techies serving the Prescott AZ area