“Business Plan Live!” and Chromebook Accessibility Tutorial, Part 4

In a “Business Plan Live!” broadcast that streamed live on February 3, 2016, Steve O’Keefe, Executive Director, and Coley Evans, Audio Director, both of of Staunton Media Lab (SML), shared some company news, discussed the business plan for the Staunton media Lab, and introduced the fourth and final installment of SML’s Chromebook Accessibility Tutorials.

In the news:

  • SML hired a new Director of Operations, yours truly.
  • SML’s audio profile of collage artist Deborah O’Keefe is now online. It’s a 20-minute interview, edited to a two-minute audio segment. Contact us if you want one! ($99) Chrome Book Accessibility Tutorial, Part 4

Part 4 of the Chromebook Accessibility Tutorial, a series of audio tutorials introducing Chromebooks to visually impaired people — or anyone who wants to learn how to navigate this computer well — is the final installment in this series.

Part 4 covers how to use a web browser, including how to open a new browser window, how to use the address bar, navigate the left and the right buttons and the Chrome menu (also sometimes called “hamburger” or options menu); and the keystrokes that can move you from field to field in a form.

The Chromebook Tutorial series are quick — just a couple minutes each. Previously covered subjects in the Chromebook Accessibility series included: logging in, turning on accessibility settings, and using shelf and launcher.

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Shortcuts for Google Docs for the Visually-Impaired

Recently, a student of mine who is blind expressed a need to find “a video with shortcuts for Google Docs.” If you are wondering why a blind person would want to watch a video of shortcuts to Google Docs, it is in hope of hearing the shortcuts read alound. Visually-impaired persons have taught me that the fastest way to learn something is often to find a video and listen to it.

The Staunton Media Lab has just posted a video version of Shortcuts for Google Docs on YouTube as an assist to the visually-impaired who want to use Google Docs. We took a set of shortcut keyboard commands, stripped out all the graphics, reformatted the instructions to be read by a screen reader, and then recorded the screen reader speaking the keyboard shortcuts.

We then took that excellent recording and re-attached it to PDF slides in Keynote, then output the whole thing as a video and uploaded it to YouTube. We also added a text version of the shortcuts in the video description on YouTube. If you know how to use screen readers, and you want the shortcuts read in a different voice, you can copy them out of the description on YouTube or out of this post, below.

This is just one of many assitive technology hacks we will be bringing you from The Staunton Media Lab in the weeks to come. Please be sure to share this information with the ones you love who can’t see so well and still want and need to use computers.

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The Staunton Media Lab Loves Flying Warthogs!

A few weeks ago, The Staunton Media Lab got its first paying customer: FLYiNG WARTHOGS FiLM. We were hired to record the voiceover for a television commerical. Here’s the end result:

Sounds great, doesn’t it? The commercial is directed and filmed by KT! Eaton, a producer, cinematographer, and fire spinner who runs FLYiNG WARTHOGS FiLM. The voice talent is Carmel Clavin of Spectacle and Mirth. The audio engineer was our own Coley Evans, audio director at The Staunton Media Lab.

The recording session was fun but challenging. Our current location generates a lot of ambient noise. We’re hoping not to have to deal with that issue as much at our new location on the campus of the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind. Carmel Clavin must have run through the script at least 20 times. By the end, she was singing it (but those takes didn’t make it into the commercial).

Let us know what you think about our work on this TV commercial. If you have an audio or video project you’d like to get finished, let us know — talented people like Coley, Carmel and KT! are available to help with your multimedia projects today. Send your inquiries to Steve O’Keefe.

Thanks!

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Adding Music to a Talking Book

 

Coley Evans, our audio engineer, shared a useful hack on a recent episode of the Staunton Media Lab.

Blind people have access to “talking books,” or audio books. Eligible people can access “talking book” machines provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). NLS offers a free library of braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States, postage-free.

With just some minor adjustments, the machines can be used to store and play music files, too! The episode explains.

Audiobooks are growing in popularity for everyone, and for good reason. Still, not all books are available in this format. Many publishers do not offer audio versions of books except for bestselling authors. Independent authors can use services like Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) to create audio versions.

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SML Interview – Blind Computer Programmer Adam Puckett

 

Above is an edited recording of an interview at the Staunton Media Lab with Adam Puckett, a blind computer programmer studying at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Adam visited SML in early June to talk about his efforts at creating synthetic video and audio files. Adam creates videos by programming the pixels on the screen. He cannot “see” the videos he creates, yet he knows what they look like. Puckett is interviewed by SML director Steve O’Keefe. Audio engineer and editor is Coley Evans who, like Puckett, was born blind. A text transcript of the interview with links to sources follows. Thanks for supporting the Staunton Media Lab!

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We Want Reading Glasses for the Blind!

glasses LWe Want Reading Glasses for the Blind!

An Open Letter to the Engineers at Google Glass, Google Translate, Apple Wearables, Samsung, Microsoft and any other tech firm sitting on billions of dollars of cash you made selling luxury goods you paid pennies for: We Want Reading Glasses for the Blind!

We want glasses that can focus on documents and read them into the ear. How hard is that? It’s not hard at all. You have all the tools you need to build these glasses TODAY using existing software and hardware. You have a supply chain that could ramp up that production and kick out a pair of Reading Glasses for the Blind for everyone who needs them by Christmas. And you could do this for $100/pair and still make a profit.

So where are our Reading Glasses for the Blind?

Here’s how it works. You have a camera lens embedded in the glasses frame. Check. You point that camera at the document in front of your face and take a picture. Click. You scan that picture for recognizable text in a specific language. Whiz. You perform optical character recognition on the image and turn the recognizable parts into text. Bang. You use a reading program such as VoiceOver to read the text out of the earbuds. Bam! Call it Scan-to-Speech. Almost any Android or iPhone can do all of this easily.

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New Audio => Steve O’Keefe on the Staunton Media Lab

 

We are pleased to bring you this edited audio and transcript from the Staunton Media Lab. This four-minute audio file was edited down from a one-hour session at the Media Lab on May 13, 2015. The audio features SML Founder, Steve O’Keefe, interviewed by Audio Engineer Coley Evans about the origins of the Lab.

The Staunton Media Lab meets every Wednesday afternoon and broadcasts live at 2:00 p.m. ET on YouNow and YouTube. Edited video and audio from those sessions is available at YouTube, YouNow, and Soundcloud.

Transcript of Staunton Media Lab recorded May 13, 2015
Featuring an Interview with SML Founder, Steve O’Keefe
Concerning the Origins of the Staunton Media Lab
Edited by SML Audio Engineer, Coley Evans

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Google Translate for the Visually Impaired

We’re very pleased to present a project we’ve been working on for some time at the Staunton Media Lab. We call it The Google Translate Trick. These are instructions for using Google Translate to read any printed document. For the blind and visually impaired, this technique has the potential to make life a little easier by reading things to you such as street signs, menus, legal documents, written instructions, books, magazines, newspapers, and almost any other printed document—in up to 90 different languages! Wow! That’s life-changing.

The Google Translate Trick is a crude scanner-to-voice system that is very close to being a great piece of assistive technology. With a couple tweaks, it could open up entire libraries to the blind without the need for embossing into Braille or producing talking books. Right now, it can be an incredible facilitator for the visually impaired who have enough sight to position the camera. They can use it to have legal documents or other important information—such as prescription labels or doctor’s instructions—read to them by their phones.

We have been trying to work out the bugs in this presentation, but there are just too many issues to deal with. We feel it is important to present the information we have and then continuously improve it. Below is a 2-minute video of the technique, followed by step-by-step instructions, and then an edited, audio-only version of the instructions. We sincerely welcome your feedback in the comments section about your experiences attempting The Google Translate Trick and your suggestions for improving our instructions. Thank You!

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How Can You Help?

Tell your friends about us. All our progress has come from someone telling someone else about Staunton Media Lab. Please connect with SML online and connect SML with the people you love.

A Wish Goes A Long Way

Amazon logo 8We are a vocational program in the media arts for the deaf, blind and uniquely able. Please support our programs, and check out our Wish List at Amazon.com.

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