News & Updates

Innovative ride-share partnership offers on-demand options for paratransit customers

A true attempt at changing access to transportation. The governor of Massachusetts had this to say:

“The reliability of our transportation system depends on the MBTA’s ability to improve its core infrastructure and provide efficient, innovative transit options that meet the needs of the system’s one million daily riders,” said Governor Baker. “This initiative represents the MBTA’s efforts to increase accessibility in a more cost-effective and efficient way that also delivers more convenient service for its paratransit customers.”

National Federation of the Blind Comments on Foundation Fighting Blindness #HowEyeSeeIt Campaign

The National Federation of the Blind commented today on the #HowEyeSeeIt challenge launched in the past month by the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which has garnered considerable recent publicity. The NFB has also delivered a letter to the Foundation Fighting Blindness, and NFB members are using the #HowEyeSeeIt hash tag to counter the campaign via social media.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: 
> The National Federation of the Blind is deeply concerned that the #HowEyeSeeIt challenge, as currently structured, will do lasting harm to the ability of millions of blind Americans to live the lives we want. In encouraging people who are not blind to don blindfolds and make videos of themselves attempting everyday tasks, this campaign perpetuates the fears, misconceptions, and low expectations that society has about blindness by giving those who take the challenge or view the videos an inaccurate understanding of the lived experience of blind people. In particular, suggesting that it is difficult or impossible for blind parents to care for their children is false and irresponsible. As a blind father of three children who also happens to be married to a blind person, I can say unequivocally that, with nonvisual techniques, we can, and do, capably parent thriving children every day. Yet children have been removed from the custody of blind parents solely because of misconceptions about their ability to care for them, without any actual proof of abuse or neglect, and the #HowEyeSeeIt campaign threatens to worsen this already grave problem. This is only one example of how this campaign will harm the chances of blind people, including board members and supporters of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, to live productive and happy lives.

To be clear, we have no quarrel with the Foundation Fighting Blindness or the medical research that it seeks to fund. However, we believe that this particular method of gathering support will harm the very people whom the Foundation Fighting Blindness and the National Federation of the Blind, in different but complementary ways, seek to help. I and other members of the National Federation of the Blind have told the Foundation Fighting Blindness that the perpetuation of misconceptions about, and by extension discrimination against, the blind is unacceptable, but so far we have been ignored. We therefore demand that the Foundation Fighting Blindness stop filling its coffers by spreading misconceptions and jeopardizing the dreams and aspirations of blind people.

This Month’s At Large meeting features a Candidates forum

Hello NFB of Georgia family

The NFB of Georgia Affiliate at-Large presents a Candidate Forum for the upcoming elections

Sell them in NFB history, is leadership as important as right now. The Direction, focus and future of your affiliate is at hand. Next month when you determine who will navigate the terrain for the blind community of Georgia, Know what you are getting.

There are seven board seats and for executive board seats to be filled. If you wish to be a part of the leadership or informed as to who wishes to be your leaders please
Call 712-432-4857 and enter room 14 at 7:00 PM on the last Thursday of the month September 29, 2016

What’s New in iOS 10 Accessibility for Blind, Low Vision and Deaf-blind Users →

By Scott Davert writing for AppleVis.com

Another fall is upon us, which means football season has started, temperatures are starting to drop, and that a new version of iOS is coming out. Another seemingly established tradition is that another article discussing the new accessibility features is in order. Just like the past several years, there are many changes to iOS that are mainstream and will be welcome changes. Some of the new features include a revamped Music app; a new Home app; new 3d Touch functionality in Apple apps; and much more. Many articles will cover these changes, but the aim of this piece is to cover accessibility changes that are specific to blind, low vision, and deaf-blind users.

Ranking Screen Readers In Windows10 Anniversary Update, Anything But Cool. →

From BrianHartgen’s
blog

I will confine myself to the findings in relation to the comments regarding JAWS for Windows, since that is the product I work with and use. I will not, for a moment, even think about commenting upon the performance of other screen-readers because I know little about them, certainly not enough to write about them with any degree of authority.

Title II SANPRM from the National Federation of the Blind →

Ensuring access to digital information is a high priority of the NFB and the nation’s blind. For many years, the federal government has considered proposing a regulation that would clarify the requirements for accessibility of websites and online services provided by public entities. Such entities include state and local government websites, as well as those of public schools and colleges. In May 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice published a Supplemental Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking titled Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability; Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities (SANPRM) in the Federal Register.

Ranking Screen Readers In Windows10 Anniversary Update: The Results Will Surprise You! →

Written by: James Oates On August 9, 2016

In this article, I will attempt to review and rank three of the most popular current screen readers that are available at this time. The three screen readers were tested on the most recent version of Windows 10 anniversary update. This is important because one of the screen readers is Microsoft’s most recently updated Narrator.

Although ranking the screen readers might prove to be quite controversial, I think it can also open up a real discussion on which screen readers are most accessible, and even the question of accessibility can sometimes be up for debate. I do realize that accessibility is determined by personal needs and preferences, so I will attempt to define the criteria I used for accessibility in this review.

What Is Accessibility?

Quite simply, I determined that accessibility is the ability to access that which needs to be accessed. Also, I take points off accessibility for the screen readers that make it difficult to access material by being dysfunctional or by making it very difficult to figure out which keystrokes need to be used with the material. Some screen readers make you use ridiculous key combinations to activate website elements or functions within applications. So without further ado, here are the rankings!

Number One: Microsoft Narrator!

It took me about a day to get used to the screen reader, but once I did, I realized what a powerful tool Microsoft had created and that the company was finally serious about supporting a built-in screen reader for the blind. In fact, the only thing I could find wrong with the screen reader was that it did not work with my braille display. I am currently working with Microsoft and HIMS to see if this problem can be resolved.
Besides that one issue, the screen reader was fully accessible on all websites and applications. I tested the screen readers on Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Groove Music, Skype, Dropbox, Microsoft Word, Audacity, Feedback, and the Settings app.
Narrator now uses something called scan mode. You can toggle this on and off by pressing caps lock and space bar. When scan mode is off, you can tab through active elements, use Windows keyboard commands, and navigate by means of your preferred preference; such as, items, headings, and paragraphs. When scan mode is on, you can navigate through everything on the screen—that includes text, website elements, and application controls—by using the tab key, arrowing around the screen, or employing letter navigation. How often has your screen reader announced; “OK button”. And you are wondering; “What am I saying OK to?” When scan mode is turned on, you can just arrow up and read the text associated with that button. You do need to toggle scan mode off when you want to use keyboard commands such as control P to pause a music track or alt F4 to close an application. This was the only screen reader that was fully functional using Microsoft Edge. It was also the only screen reader that was able to read every active element and all text on each website and application. Clearly, hands down, Narrator is the winner!

Second-Place Goes to NVDA.

NVDA performed mostly well. The problem is it uses a function called browse mode that doesn’t actually work at this time. You’re supposed to be able to toggle between focus and browse modes by pressing insert plus spacebar. It’s supposed to function like Narrator’s scan mode. Because it didn’t work, Microsoft Edge was only able to read active elements, not text, on the screen.
It was also difficult to read text on other applications. Like I said before, you want to know what you’re saying “OK” to. Also, there were other applications where you had to switch the pain view to see what else was on the screen. That’s OK if you know that there are other pains on the screen. But if you don’t, you’re missing out on loads of information. NVDA is still a fantastic screen reader and the developers of the project are working on fixing browse mode. I suspect they will work out the kinks very soon. But can they keep up with all the changes and updates coming from Microsoft on an almost daily basis?

JAWS Finishes in a Distant Third.

This wasn’t even close! I don’t even know where to begin! For starters, the JAWS display driver interfered with the Microsoft Upgrade Assistant which is a program that allows customers to download Windows10 Anniversary Update without having to wait for the automatic update. I had to uninstall the Freedom Scientific display driver just to download my free copy of Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
Next, JAWS does not work with Microsoft Edge unless you’re using the touch cursor. This makes Microsoft’s primary browser virtually unusable. This is inexcusable and unacceptable. JAWS has also come up with some very convoluted keystroke combinations to interact with elements on webpages. I also ran into several situations where JAWS was incapable of activating navigation bars on webpages. I just want to know, are the people at VFOserious about accessibility, or just interested in convincing people in enterprise and government that they are?

Final Thoughts.

I really enjoyed the Mark mobile voice that Narrator uses. I was also pleasantly surprised at how quickly the screen reader reacts. I’m now using it as my primary screen reader. I of course will always continue to use NVDA as well. It is an amazing product and will only continue to improve. They have one of the most talented group of developers I’ve ever seen. As for JAWS, I can’t think of one good thing to say. And that’s a difficult position for me to take. When I first became a teacher 25 years ago, JAWS was the only program that made the digital world accessible for me. It was an amazing product, and I’ve always shown a great deal of gratitude toward them, but even I have to admit that they’re not maintaining their commitment to customers. You don’t know how difficult that is for me to say this because I have a great deal of loyalty toward the people who helped me when I was younger. I hope the people at VFO and Freedom Scientific can turn things around, but most importantly I applaud the accessibility team at Microsoft. For years Microsoft has preached accessibility but seemed more interested in promoting their own advancement within the field of accessibility. The new Microsoft accessibility team is finally focusing on their actual customers. What a refreshing change! I have also recorded a podcast demonstrating the use and accessibility of Windows 10 anniversary update. I hope you give it a listen.

2016 NFB of GA State Convention Info

The 2016 State Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Georgia will be held October 7-9 in Savannah, GA.

The hotel information is as follows:

Savannah S. I95 Gateway Holiday Inn
11 Gate Way Boulevard East
Savannah GA 31419

Reservations must be made by September 9th, in order to get the rate of $108.00 plus tax.
Please provide our Group code when you call to book your room.

Group code: NFB

Phone: 912-925-2525
Toll Free: 1-800-Holiday

Registration for this year’s convention will be $30, and banquet tickets will be $35.

We will be posting the agenda, as well as the online registration form in coming weeks, so check back soon.

LinkNYC Discriminates Against Blind New Yorkers and Visitors→

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “By treating accessibility as an afterthought, New York City is discriminating against its blind citizens and relegating them to second-class status. The blind cannot even use this new technology in an emergency. This is shameful conduct on the part of the most populous and high-profile city in the United States, and the National Federation of the Blind will not tolerate this artificial limit on our participation.

State Rehabilitation Council Public Hearings

The State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) in collaboration with the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) will hold a series of public comment hearings statewide on the proposed GVRA policy revisions regarding Order of Selection and the implementation of Project Horizon. The State Rehabilitation Council and the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) value input from stakeholders regarding the proposed policy revisions.

The proposed policy revisions are available for review at https://gvra.georgia.gov/state-rehabilitation-council-public-hearings or you may request the written document by calling GVRA Customer Service at 1-844-for-GVRA (1-844-367-4872); TTY users call GA Relay 711.
 
The public hearings are in five locations around the state to solicit comments from a representative and diverse population. The date, time and location for each public hearing are:
 
– Rome Public Hearing:  
August 11, 2016 from 11 am to 1:00 pm
at Goodwill of North Georgia,
154 Hicks Drive,
Rome, GA 30161

  • Savannah Public Hearing:  
    August 16, 2016 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
    at the Savannah Civic Center,
    301 West Oglethorpe Avenue,
    Savannah, GA  31401

  • Augusta Public Hearing:  
    August 18, 2016 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
    in the Jack B. Patrick Information Technology Center, Building
    1000, Augusta Technical College,
    3200 Augusta Tech Drive,
    Augusta, GA 30906

  • Columbus Public Hearing:  
    August 23, 2016 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
    in the Synovus Room at the Columbus Public Library,
    3000 Macon Road,
    Columbus, GA  31906 

  • Atlanta Public Hearing:  
    August 25, 2016 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
    in the Empire Room,
    20th Floor, Sloppy Floyd Building
    200 Piedmont Avenue, S.E., ,
    Atlanta, GA  30334   

All interested persons are hereby given the opportunity to participate by submitting data, views or arguments orally or in writing. Oral comments may be limited to five (5) minutes per person. Registration is not required to attend the hearings; a sign in sheet will be on site for participants.
There will be a Certified Interpreter at each public hearing. If you need auxiliary aids or other accommodations, please contact GVRA Disability Community Liaison, Robin Blount, at (404) 259-1720 or robin.blount@ablegeorgia.ga.gov. 

Written comments must be submitted no later than the close of business at 5:00 p.m. or postmarked by Friday, September 2, 2016. Written statements should be no longer than two pages, double spaced. Comments may be faxed, emailed, or mailed to:
 
Georgia State Rehabilitation Council 
Robin Blount
200 Piedmont Ave. 5th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30338 
Phone: 470-259-1720
Fax:  404-331-3769
Robin.Blount@ablegeorgia.ga.gov 

The state is asking for your input about your future. Be sure to attend a public hearing nearest to you.

Remember: Opportunities are meant to be taken advantage of, not overlooked. This is an opportunity.