Chromebook Chronicles, Part 3

Staunton Media Lab (SML) has concluded its three-week workshop series on Chromebook via live broadcast on March 16. The workshop was held on Google Hangouts and streamed on YouTube. Chromebook is a cloud-based netbook computer with a WiFi connection and limited storage. Last week’s broadcast covered security, storage options, accessibility settings, among other features.

Below are a few key points that were covered this week.

Touchpad or mouse?

As MaryKatherine Feehan, SML’s social media volunteer coordinator, explained, the Chromebook’s touchpad has no left- or right-click button, so you can use a mouse, or you can try some tricks using your fingers and the touchpad:

  • move one finger to move the cursor
  • use two fingers to right-click
  • use two fingers to scroll it up and down the page
  • move two fingers left or right to go back and forward on a page
  • if you move three fingers up and down it will minimize the screen

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Chromebook Chronicles, Part 2

The Staunton Media Lab (SML) has launched a series of copyright-free workshops, first announced in February, on using  Chromebook computers. The first installment aired March 1; it was a disaster and the video was quickly removed. The second session on March 9 went much better. The Google Hangout on Air ran live on YouTube and the video is now archived there.

The live, online workshop included a live transcription window. Theoretically, hearing-impaired participants could watch the transcript unfurl live online. In practice, the transcription software had trouble keeping up with four different participants. The service used, http://speechpad.pw, is free and is still highly recommended by the Staunton Media Lab for the hearing-impaired.

In the future, SML is working to add live ASL to the workshops, so that hard-of-hearing participants can watch the ASL screen and participate in the workshops that way. SML is also looking at adding an ASL translation to the video after it airs. If you know ASL and are interested in helping sign our webcasts, please contact Steve O’Keefe today. Thanks!

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Chromebook Chronicles: SML’s Live Tutorial Workshop in March

During the February 24 broadcast SML’s Executive Director Steve O’Keefe introduced the new three-week Chromebook Chronicles tutorial workshop and online user group. The Chromebook Chronicles will be conducted in Google Hangouts on March 2, 9, and 16, at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Chromebook Chronicles is a live tutorial workshop/online user group on Chromebook accessibility and applications. It’s copyright-free, and will be moderated by O’Keefe.

The Chromebook is an inexpensive “netbook” computer that has very little storage or memory. It works to access applications in the cloud, such as Google Docs, YouTube, Soundcloud, Zoho, Microsoft 365, Facebook, as well as video- and audio-editing software. It is also Amazon-friendly.

“Cloudbook is a better name for it,” quipped O’Keefe during the broadcast, noting that “the cloud is ready for your business” and its improving performance opens up a “new world of accessibility.”

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SML Chromebook Accessibility Tutorial Playlist Released

The Staunton Media Lab has created a Soundcloud playlist for its Chromebook Accessibility Tutorials — a series of four tutorials on using the Chromebook for the blind and those with low vision — written, narrated and edited by SML Audio Director, Coley Evans.

The playlist consists of four individual tutorials that can be listened to separately, but also work well sequentially. Here are descriptions of the material covered in each tutorial.

Part 1: The Chromebook. This tutorial introduces the Chromebook, the Chrome web browser, and ChromeVox, the screen reader program bundled with the Chromebook.

Part 2: The Status Tray. Includes information on your Internet and Network settings, your Chromebook settings, and the all-important Accessibility settings for the Chromebook.

Part 3: The Shelf. Used to locate, add, or pin apps or applications. The shelf is also used for working with folders and files.

Part 4: The Web Browser. Since the Chromebook is a “netbook” computer that primarily uses cloud-based applications and storage solutions, web browsing is its primary function. Covers how to navigate the web browser, the address bar, and tools to the right and left of the address bar, keystrokes necessary to open your history, settings, extensions, and other essential functions.

The Staunton Media Lab will continue to produce tutorials on Chromebook accessibility, as well as Chromebook applications. The Chromebook is an inexpensive “netbook” computer that has very little storage or memory. Rather, it works to access applications in the cloud, such as Google Docs, YouTube, Soundcloud, Zoho, Microsoft 365, Facebook, as well as video editing software, audio editing software, and other frequently-used tools at the Staunton Media Lab.

Please stay tuned for more programming and tutorials related to the Chromebook and connect with us on social media to be notified of new releases.

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“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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How Can You Help?

Volunteer.  We need you! Do you know sign language? Do you know Braille? Do you know English? Do you have language? Then SML needs you! Call us at 540-324-7023, or email

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