Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Low Vision Products Show

Good afternoon readers! I wanted to send out a quick note letting you know our Low Vision Product Show will be in Frankfort, IL tomorrow. The event will run 10am-3pm, come when you can and bring some friends.

Our technology staff will be showcasing independent living products as well as some new, exciting technology like the Snow 7HD, the newest handheld CCTV with a 7" screen and amazing HD display. Click here to get a sneak peek.

The details as well as a link to the location is below. Hope to see many of you there!

Frankfort Township
11000 W. Lincoln Highway
Frankfort, IL 60423

Google Map it!

Monday, April 28, 2014

New Tom's Corners now available!

We've got two more Tom's corners for you today covering the latest and greatest in low vision and blindness technology and tips. Follow the links below to catch up with Tom!

Tom's Corner April 12th Click Here

Tom's Corner April 19th Click Here!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Another video for your enjoyment! Tom Perski demonstrates the NEW Magnilink Voice OCR/TTS machine

We just tried out the new Magnilink Voice from Low Vision International and found it to be a great solution for those who need documents to be read aloud to them. The 'Voice' features simple controls, good quality construction and very fast and accurate OCR whether the document is upside, left, right or the right way up! Another great feature is automatic language detection. In North America the unit ships with both English and Spanish and will automatically detect the language when you scan the document. There are also a number of other languages available for purchase.

We of course had to make a video to show everyone what the 'Voice' can do, which you can watch below. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Importance of Lighting

If you have trouble reading good quality lighting can be just as important as magnification in helping you to see text better. We have created a video explaining some concepts behind using a lamp to get the maximum benefit from it, and also highlighting a lamp from Daylight which we think is particularly good.

See the video here

Monday, April 14, 2014

New CCTV inbound!

We just had the pleasure of evaluating the latest CCTV from Baum, the Visiobook S. This CCTV features a 12.6" screen, foldaway design, built in battery and lightweight construction. Tom was so excited that he insisted we do a video so people could see it for themselves! 

So without further ado here it is....

Friday, April 11, 2014

This article from 'The Week' caught our eyes - An accessible version of Netflix - Yes Please!!

The Week Logo
Meet the company that wants to be the Netflix for blind people
For years, advocates have been trying to make mainstream television more accessible to the visually impaired. TalkingFlix may be on the verge of doing just that.
By Kaitlin Roberts | April 8, 2014
We've all been there: you're hanging out with friends when the conversation suddenly turns to the latest episode of House of Cards or the recent Jennifer Lawrence blockbuster. You haven't seen this particular television show or film, so for the next fifteen minutes, while your friends dissect the plot and recount that hilarious moment, you're left finding creative ways to stir your coffee.
Television shows and movies constitute an enormous part of our culture, and not being in on the story can feel isolating. This is especially true for people with visual impairments. Sure, the blind and visually impaired can listen to a movie or television show, but so much of what happens in the story — from a character's subtle glance to a car exploding — is visual.

Crossway Media Solutions is an online entertainment service working to make films and television shows more accessible for people with disabilities. This year, the company will launch TalkingFlix, the first audio-described, on-demand entertainment service for those with visual impairments. "Our main goal," TalkingFlix head of content Ellen Pittleman tells The Week, "is accessibility. We want to help sighted and non-sighted populations have a shared social experience."

According to Pittleman, who was a Paramount executive before joining TalkingFlix, broadcast networks for years have been making audio tracks that describe programming visuals. In April 2002, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began requiring major networks to provide 50 hours of described programming per quarter. Disability advocates saw this new legislation as an opportunity to approach film studios and encourage them to provide this service as well.

They quickly realized that the cost of creating these tracks was difficult to justify. "We were just about to release Titanic when I was at Paramount and we were approached," Pittleman explains. "It was an important move for the studio to participate in providing this service because Titanic was to be our biggest DVD release ever. Unfortunately, in retrospect we found that the cost of creating these tracks was often not being recovered by the sales."

Most DVDs don't include an audio menu, and movie theaters and streaming services are often set up for audio-described content. As a result, it didn't make sense for studios to invest the time or money into making these tracks available.

Now, Pittleman is in the process of working with these production companies to recover some of those old tracks from studio libraries, while giving content providers a market for creating such tracks. By bridging the gap between studios and consumers, TalkingFlix aims to offer hundreds of popular titles that customers will be able to access on their televisions or mobile devices.
The idea behind TalkingFlix has a long back story. The company's CEO, David Timar, is not blind, but is visually impaired and has close ties to the blind community. He built a career in the tech world, but he's no stranger to the film industry. His father, Peter Timar, is a well-known Hungarian director and tireless advocate for media accessibility. "Growing up," David Timar tells The Week, "I realized the problem my father was trying to solve was not a local problem, but a global one... My dad's work with [the visually impaired] community help me understand the need."

Timar came up with the idea to market audio-described tracks years ago, but the project only took off last year when an investor encouraged Timar to apply for seed funding.
Finding a consumer base should not be a problem. According to the FCC, there are approximately 25 million Americans and 289 million people worldwide with visual impairments. The bigger obstacle — and the reason many companies have failed to tap into this niche market — involves getting investors and the studios to sign up. "The biggest challenge," Timar says, "is telling investors we are going to get the content and being able to strike a deal with studios based on an unprecedented market. It's a back-and-forth game."

TalkingFlix is in the process of closing its first deal, and if it succeeds, it will be the first company to overcome this hurdle, gaining access to a pool of consumers that even bigger names like Netflix and Hulu haven't reached.

The program plans to launch later this year, but you can sign up for the service now. Gearing up for the launch, Timar and his team have several goals. In the first year, they hope to grow the library and make TalkingFlix available to the English-speaking world as soon as possible. Long term, Timar says he wants to make audio-described content available to Spanish-speaking countries, India, and China.
"Eventually," Timar says, "I would like TalkingFlix to be a household item worldwide."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Visiobook S CCTV is coming....

We've just got our hands on the new Visiobook S CCTV from Baum, and we are liking it a lot. The CCTV features a beautiful design, 12.6" screen, false color modes and can run on rechargeable battery or mains.

This CCTV can be folded away completely flat for easy storage or to move around the house. It is a great solution for someone who wants the convenience of a desktop CCTV, but without the large footprint and aesthetically displeasing look.

We'll have a video review up very soon....keep your eyes peeled!

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's that time again for a new edition of Tom's Corner! In this episode Tom covers the great Chester Creek Vision Board large key keyboard with extra large letters. This keyboard is great for people with low vision. Tom also talks about the Big Grip, an iPad case that is so safe you can throw your iPad across the room and not worry about it!

As usual click the link below to open Tom's Corner in a new Window, and press space to play.

Tom's Corner April 5th

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New Tom's Corner!

Here's the latest edition of Tom's Corner, covering Tom's time at CSUN and the exciting new electronic magnifier, the Snow 7 HD. Featuring a 7 inch screen and a High Definition camera, we think it is great! Keep your eyes peeled for a video review coming soon....

Tom's Corner