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the surprised pessimist

"I'm not interested in blind optimism, but I'm very interested in optimism that is hard-won, that takes on darkness and then says, 'This is not enough.'" Colum McCann

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Tech Talk

APPLE ACCESSIBILITY AWARENESS DAY WORKSHOPS – 18 MAY 2017

Do yourself a favour. The Accessibility Suite built-in to Apple devices is second-to-none and has grown and expanded so fast in just a few years that very few people have had the chance to fully appreciate the depth and breadth of Apple’s Accessibility features.

Oh, and don’t think accessibility is only important for those poor ‘disabled’ people. We’re all getting older and our faculties get more threadbare with each passing year. Whether you experience difficulties with vision, hearing, motor skills or mobility, I guarantee from personal experience that you will enjoy and get more out of your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV or Apple Watch if you know how Apple has designed Accessibility right into it.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2017 is almost here! Here’s a list of all the Apple Australia workshops that are being run on that day.

If you’re interested in attending any of these free workshops, here’s what you need to do:

Go to Apple Australia Retail Stores Page…

Select the Store that you’re interested in…

Scroll down the page to “Workshops” and find the one you want – it’ll probably be up the top under “Featured”…

Click on the date and time you’re interested in, then follow the instructions to sign in and register!

QLD

Brisbane

Accessibility Basics: Assistive Learning Tools on iPad and iPhone
Minimising visual clutter can help those with cognitive and learning disabilities stay focussed. Join us as we explore how Guided Access allows family members, teachers, and caregivers to keep the attention on learning. We’ll show how Speak Screen, iTunes, and Dictionary can offer even more learning support.
1:00pm to 2:00pm

Accessibility Basics: Assistive Learning Tools on Mac
In this workshop, we’ll discover how Simple Finder streamlines the experience for those with cognitive and leaning disabilities.
3:30pm to 4:30pm

Accessibility Basics: Literacy Tools on iPad and iPhone
Discover how your iPad and iPhone can help to strengthen reading and spelling skills. Explore how Speak Screen and Look Up can reinforce learning.
9:00am to 10:00am

Accessibility Basics: Literacy Tools on Mac
At this workshop, discover how Mac can help those with reading and spelling difficulties with Text to Speech, Dictation, and more.
5:00pm to 6:00pm

Accessibility Basics: VoiceOver for iPad and iPhone
For people with vision loss, this workshop is a great introduction to VoiceOver, the assistive technology that offers amazing access to iOS.
11:00am to 12:00pm

Carindale

Accessibility Basics: Assistive Learning Tools on iPad and iPhone
Minimising visual clutter can help those with cognitive and learning disabilities stay focussed. Join us as we explore how Guided Access allows family members, teachers, and caregivers to keep the attention on learning. We’ll show how Speak Screen, iTunes, and Dictionary can offer even more learning support.
2:00pm to 3:00pm

Accessibility Basics: Using Mac with Vision Loss
Discover the different ways to interact with Mac for those with vision loss. This workshop will explore assistive technologies like Zoom, and some of its capabilities. We’ll help you start a document in Pages using Zoom or ask Siri to perform a search for documents in Finder.
1:00pm to 2:00pm

Accessibility Basics: VoiceOver for Mac
This workshop is an introduction to VoiceOver on your Mac. We’ll show you how VoiceOver gives customisable control to those with vision loss.
10:15am to 11:15am

Chermside

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, iOS 10 offers amazing assistive technologies to help communicate and enjoy more content. This workshop introduces you to iPad and iPhone features like FaceTime, LED Flash for Alerts, and vibrating alerts that you can use every day.
9:15am to 10:15am

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Vision Loss
Discover how to interact with iPad and iPhone with vision loss. We’ll use Larger Dynamic Type for larger text and Magnifier to make an object easier to see.
2:00pm to 3:00pm

Accessibility Basics: Using Mac with Hearing Loss
Discover the assistive capabilities of Mac for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. We’ll explore built-in features that support communicating visually.
11:00am to 12:00pm

Accessibility Basics: VoiceOver for Mac
This workshop is an introduction to VoiceOver on your Mac. We’ll show you how VoiceOver gives customisable control to those with vision loss.
3:45pm to 4:45pm

Robina

Accessibility Basics: Assistive Learning Tools on iPad and iPhone
Minimising visual clutter can help those with cognitive and learning disabilities stay focussed. Join us as we explore how Guided Access allows family members, teachers, and caregivers to keep the attention on learning. We’ll show how Speak Screen, iTunes, and Dictionary can offer even more learning support.
9:00am to 10:00am

Accessibility Basics: Assistive Learning Tools on Mac
In this workshop, we’ll discover how Simple Finder streamlines the experience for those with cognitive and leaning disabilities.
11:00am to 12:00pm

Accessibility Basics: Literacy Tools on Mac
At this workshop, discover how Mac can help those with reading and spelling difficulties with Text to Speech, Dictation, and more.
1:00pm to 2:00pm

Accessibility Basics: VoiceOver for iPad and iPhone
For people with vision loss, this workshop is a great introduction to VoiceOver, the assistive technology that offers amazing access to iOS.
3:30pm to 4:30pm

NSW

Bondi

Accessibility Basics: Assistive Learning Tools on iPad and iPhone
Minimising visual clutter can help those with cognitive and learning disabilities stay focussed. Join us as we explore how Guided Access allows family members, teachers, and caregivers to keep the attention on learning. We’ll show how Speak Screen, iTunes, and Dictionary can offer even more learning support.
9:45am to 10:45am

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, iOS 10 offers amazing assistive technologies to help communicate and enjoy more content. This workshop introduces you to iPad and iPhone features like FaceTime, LED Flash for Alerts, and vibrating alerts that you can use every day.
1:30pm to 2:30pm

Accessibility Basics: Using Mac with Vision Loss
Discover the different ways to interact with Mac for those with vision loss. This workshop will explore assistive technologies like Zoom, and some of its capabilities. We’ll help you start a document in Pages using Zoom or ask Siri to perform a search for documents in Finder.
4:00pm to 5:00pm

Broadway

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Vision Loss
Discover how to interact with iPad and iPhone with vision loss. We’ll use Larger Dynamic Type for larger text and Magnifier to make an object easier to see.
10:00am to 11:00am

Sydney

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Vision Loss

Discover how to interact with iPad and iPhone with vision loss. We’ll use Larger Dynamic Type for larger text and Magnifier to make an object easier to use.

1:30pm to 2:30pm

Accessibility Basics: Using Mac with Hearing Loss

Discover the assistive capabilities of Mac for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. We’ll explore built-in features that support communicating visually.

10:15am to 11:15am

Accessibility Basics: Using Mac with Vision Loss

Discover the different ways to interact with Mac for those with vision loss. This workshop will explore assistive technologies like Zoom, and some of its capabilities. We’ll help you start a document in Pages using Zoom or ask Siri to perform a search for documents in Finder.

4:00pm to 5:00pm

Castle Towers

Accessibility Basics: VoiceOver for iPad and iPhone
For people with vision loss, this workshop is a great introduction to VoiceOver, the assistive technology that offers amazing access to iOS.
9:00am to 10:00am

Charlestown

Accessibility Basics: Assistive Learning Tools on iPad and iPhone
Minimising visual clutter can help those with cognitive and learning disabilities stay focussed. Join us as we explore how Guided Access allows family members, teachers, and caregivers to keep the attention on learning. We’ll show how Speak Screen, iTunes, and Dictionary can offer even more learning support.
1:00pm to 2:00pm

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, iOS 10 offers amazing assistive technologies to help communicate and enjoy more content. This workshop introduces you to iPad and iPhone features like FaceTime, LED Flash for Alerts, and vibrating alerts that you can use every day.
3:00pm to 4:00pm

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Vision Loss
Discover how to interact with iPad and iPhone with vision loss. We’ll use Larger Dynamic Type for larger text and Magnifier to make an object easier to see.
11:00am to 12:00pm

Chatswood Chase

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, iOS 10 offers amazing assistive technologies to help communicate and enjoy more content. This workshop introduces you to iPad and iPhone features like FaceTime, LED Flash for Alerts, and vibrating alerts that you can use every day.
11:30am to 12:30pm

Hornsby

Accessibility Basics: Assistive Learning Tools on iPad and iPhone
Minimising visual clutter can help those with cognitive and learning disabilities stay focussed. Join us as we explore how Guided Access allows family members, teachers, and caregivers to keep the attention on learning. We’ll show how Speak Screen, iTunes, and Dictionary can offer even more learning support.
9:45am to 10:45am

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, iOS 10 offers amazing assistive technologies to help communicate and enjoy more content. This workshop introduces you to iPad and iPhone features like FaceTime, LED Flash for Alerts, and vibrating alerts that you can use every day.
11:30am to 12:30pm

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Reduced Mobility
Discover how assistive mobility features built into iOS can simplify iPad and iPhone for those who have difficulties handling their device.
5:00pm to 6:00pm

Miranda

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Vision Loss
Discover how to interact with iPad and iPhone with vision loss. We’ll use Larger Dynamic Type for larger text and Magnifier to make an object easier to see.
9:30am to 10:30am

Accessibility Basics: VoiceOver for iPad and iPhone
For people with vision loss, this workshop is a great introduction to VoiceOver, the assistive technology that offers amazing access to iOS.
12:30pm to 1:30pm

Penrith

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Vision Loss
Discover how to interact with iPad and iPhone with vision loss. We’ll use Larger Dynamic Type for larger text and Magnifier to make an object easier to see.
12:00pm to 1:00pm

ACT

Canberra

Accessibility Basics: Assistive Learning Tools on iPad and iPhone
In this workshop, we’ll explore how Guided Access helps keep the learning focussed for those with cognitive and learning disabilities.
1:00pm to 2:00pm

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, iOS 10 offers amazing assistive technologies to help communicate and enjoy more content. This workshop introduces you to iPad and iPhone features like FaceTime, LED Flash for Alerts, and vibrating alerts that you can use every day.
3:00pm to 4:00pm

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Vision Loss
Discover how to interact with iPad and iPhone with vision loss. We’ll use Larger Dynamic Type for larger text and Magnifier to make an object easier to see.
11:00am to 12:00pm

SA

Rundle Place

Accessibility Basics: Using Mac with Vision Loss
Discover the different ways to interact with Mac for those with vision loss. This workshop will explore assistive technologies like Zoom, and some of its capabilities. We’ll help you start a document in Pages using Zoom or ask Siri to perform a search for documents in Finder.
10:30am to 11:30am

VIC

Chadstone

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Vision Loss
Discover how to interact with iPad and iPhone with vision loss. We’ll use Larger Dynamic Type for larger text and Magnifier to make an object easier to see.
9:30am to 10:30am

Doncaster

Accessibility Basics: Assistive Learning Tools on iPad and iPhone
Minimising visual clutter can help those with cognitive and learning disabilities stay focussed. Join us as we explore how Guided Access allows family members, teachers, and caregivers to keep the attention on learning. We’ll show how Speak Screen, iTunes, and Dictionary can offer even more learning support.
2:30pm to 3:30pm

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, iOS 10 offers amazing assistive technologies to help communicate and enjoy more content. This workshop introduces you to iPad and iPhone features like FaceTime, LED Flash for Alerts, and vibrating alerts that you can use every day.
11:00am to 12:00pm

Fountain Gate

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Vision Loss
Discover how to interact with iPad and iPhone with vision loss. We’ll use Larger Dynamic Type for larger text and Magnifier to make an object easier to see.
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, iOS 10 offers amazing assistive technologies to help communicate and enjoy more content. This workshop introduces you to iPad and iPhone features like FaceTime, LED Flash for Alerts, and vibrating alerts that you can use every day.
2:00pm to 3:00pm

Highpoint

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, iOS 10 offers amazing assistive technologies to help communicate and enjoy more content. This workshop introduces you to iPad and iPhone features like FaceTime, LED Flash for Alerts, and vibrating alerts that you can use every day.
9:00am to 10:00am

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Vision Loss
Discover how to interact with iPad and iPhone with vision loss. We’ll use Larger Dynamic Type for larger text and Magnifier to make an object easier to see.
7:30pm to 8:30pm

Southland

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Reduced Mobility
Discover how assistive mobility features built into iOS can simplify iPad and iPhone for those who have difficulties handling their device.
1:00pm to 2:00pm

Accessibility Basics: Using Mac with Vision Loss
Discover the different ways to interact with Mac for those with vision loss. This workshop will explore assistive technologies like Zoom, and some of its capabilities. We’ll help you start a document in Pages using Zoom or ask Siri to perform a search for documents in Finder.
2:30pm to 3:30pm

Accessibility Basics: VoiceOver for iPad and iPhone
For people with vision loss, this workshop is a great introduction to VoiceOver, the assistive technology that offers amazing access to iOS.
9:30am to 10:30am

Accessibility Basics: VoiceOver for Mac
This workshop is an introduction to VoiceOver on your Mac. We’ll show you how VoiceOver gives customisable control to those with vision loss.
11:00am to 12:00pm

WA

Garden City Perth

Accessibility Basics: Assistive Learning Tools on iPad and iPhone
Minimising visual clutter can help those with cognitive and learning disabilities stay focussed. Join us as we explore how Guided Access allows family members, teachers, and caregivers to keep the attention on learning. We’ll show how Speak Screen, iTunes, and Dictionary can offer even more learning support.
1:15pm to 2:15pm

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Vision Loss
Discover how to interact with iPad and iPhone with vision loss. We’ll use Larger Dynamic Type for larger text and Magnifier to make an object easier to see.
2:45pm to 3:45pm

Accessibility Basics: VoiceOver for iPad and iPhone
For people with vision loss, this workshop is a great introduction to VoiceOver, the assistive technology that offers amazing access to iOS.
4:00pm to 5:00pm

Perth City

Accessibility Basics: Assistive Learning Tools on Mac
In this workshop, we’ll discover how Simple Finder streamlines the experience for those with cognitive and leaning disabilities.
4:00pm to 5:00pm

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, iOS 10 offers amazing assistive technologies to help communicate and enjoy more content. This workshop introduces you to iPad and iPhone features like FaceTime, LED Flash for Alerts, and vibrating alerts that you can use every day.
9:00am to 10:00am

Accessibility Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Vision Loss
Discover how to interact with iPad and iPhone with vision loss. We’ll use Larger Dynamic Type for larger text and Magnifier to make an object easier to see.
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Accessibility Basics: VoiceOver for iPad and iPhone
For people with vision loss, this workshop is a great introduction to VoiceOver, the assistive technology that offers amazing access to iOS.
2:00pm to 3:00pm

 

Apple has given my son a hand!

The human hand is a wondrous piece of engineering. Imagine where you’d be if you were suddenly without yours.

thumbs-up-signThink of the language we use: reach out, lend-a-hand, hands-on, get a grip, hand-out, handy, a handful, hands-free, hand-over, hang-on, hold on, at your fingertips, in the palm of your hand, second-hand, hand-me-downs, high-five, point-the-finger, thumbs-up, let your fingers do the walking, etc.

There are about 1,000 minutes in a waking day. I wonder how many of those minutes involve you using your hands…

…Grasping, gripping, holding…

…Making, fixing, building…

…Driving, working, writing…

…Caressing, fondling, stroking…

…and I wonder how you’d take care of yourself, earn a living, express yourself, interact with others, follow your dreams, live, if you had no use of your hands.

I don’t have to imagine what this is like. I have experienced it daily through my son, whose quadriplegia means that his strong, well-formed hands are quite useless. Well, perhaps not totally useless. As a diabetic, he needs several blood-glucose tests a day, and his fingers get regularly stuck with needles. But that’s all they are good for.

Then, surprise, surprise, into our lives comes Apple.

Did you know that every Apple device – Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch – is engineered with a powerful suite of Accessibility features? One of those features – Switch Control – is for people who have some form of physical impairment, such that they find it difficult or impossible to touch a screen or type on a keyboard or handle a remote control.

Using Switch Control, and tapping a small switch with his head, my son tweets, texts, types emails, makes FaceTime calls, operates the TV, studies at university online, runs a video-editing business using Final Cut Pro on his Mac, plays games, listens to music, turns on lights and air-conditioners in the house and even pilots a drone!

And there’s a new feature in iOS10 and MacOS Sierra called Platform Switching. This enables a Switch Control user to ‘pick up and put down’ various Apple devices around the home and office and control them from one device; in Christopher’s case, his wheelchair-mounted iPhone is now his universal remote controller and switch interface.

If you’re a Switch Control user and you haven’t tried Platform Switching, here’s a quick video I made, showing you how to activate it.

I never thought such things would be possible. I’m a pessimist, so I’m surprised!

The Quadriplegic Pilot

img_2200

img_2197

When my son, Christopher was very young, he enjoyed remote-controlled vehicles. Trucks, cars, whatever.

The only problem was…he had to rely on his old man to operate the controller. Joysticks are not made for those who have no use of their hands. We had a lot of fun – him directing,  me driving. Even when I managed to drive his first monster truck straight into our goldfish pond, we had fun. Good memories.

But…

Any parent will understand that the memories are also bitter/sweet. If only he’d been able to take over the controls and have a go himself. Imagine the fun I would have had watching him crash into the pond!

Oh well. You learn how to ‘work around’ all kinds of situations when you live with cerebral palsy.

Anyway, yesterday, we discovered that may all be about to change. Using a combination of an iPad – the most accessible device on the planet – and the DJI Phantom 4 drone quadcopter (with a little help from me setting up the waypoints) Christopher got his first taste of piloting his own remote-controlled craft.

I never thought such things would be possible. I’m a pessimist, so I’m surprised!

Here’s a quick, very basic video to show what happened. Stay tuned. MUCH more to come. 🙂

Home Automation, Good Design and Independent Living

Christopher and I recently toured a display house built by the good people at Ausmar Homes. The house is excellent because the approach to designing it is excellent. As with all good design, it is inclusive, not exclusive.

ausmar assist.jpg

Homes have traditionally been built with only the able-bodied in mind. Architects usually design houses – doorways, hallways, windows, steps, kitchen bench top heights, bathrooms, utility spaces,  driveways, landscaping, etc, based on the assumption that the only people who live in houses are fully able-bodied. Anyone who lives with mobility difficulties has no choice but to undertake expensive modifications to the homes they buy or build in order to live there comfortably and safely.

But – just as with ramped kerbs – if the built environment is designed to include those ‘on the margins’, it will include everyone; exclude no-one. A house is no different. Anyone, regardless of ability or disability can easily get through a slightly wider doorway. Not everyone can easily get through a narrow doorway. Everyone can negotiate a ramp. Not everyone can negotiate a step.

And with our ageing population, more and more people are living with one form of disability or impairment or another. Why not simply design every new house so that anyone could move in and live there? Expense? Not really. If all homes were designed from the start with this approach, economies of scale would immediately apply.

Add to a well-designed building, some of the accessible, affordable home-automation technology available these days, and you begin to see a whole new world of possibilities for independent living. There is a mishmash of ‘smart’ home appliances becoming available. And this is good. But it is far from a perfect solution. What’s needed is for someone to give us accessible devices that we can personalise and then operate reliably and securely within a home network, and then invite home-appliance manufacturers to make their products compatible with these personalised devices, so that anyone, regardless of ability or disability, can live more independently in their own homes.

Apple’s new HomeKit in iOS 10, built-in to all iPads and iPhones – the most accessible devices on the planet, bar none – allows for home appliances (not very many in Australia yet, but more becoming available all the time) such as lights, door-locks and sensors to be connected easily and securely via the home wifi network, and controlled from the HomeKit App. Imagine asking Siri to turn off the living room lights, activate scenes, or lock the front door from anywhere in the world.

We spent a few days shooting a little video to help you imagine how cool it would be to live in a home that is built right and equipped right. Christopher has just completed the edit. Here it is…

I never thought such things would be possible. I’m a pessimist, so I’m surprised!

 

Molly’s Watch

This is quite l0ng, but a fantastic post from Molly Watt, who lives with Usher Syndrome, about her experiences with her Apple Watch.

She writes…

“I fully intended to return my applewatch within 14 days, however, it transported me on a journey into a new world of accessibility, confidence and independence.

I…have been so impressed by what it has done for me that I set up a fundraising campaign to help fund applewatch for others living with Usher Syndrome.”

Well worth a read…

http://www.mollywatt.com/blog/entry/my-applewatch-after-365-days

 

The Best Hands-Free Device Hands-Down

I made this short video to send to the guys at Komodo Open Labs in Canada as a user-testimonial for their magic little ‘Tecla Shield’ Bluetooth Switch Interface.

Tecla
Tecla Shield

As a parent and carer, I can say that the Tecla has made a huge difference in my life; because it’s made a huge difference in my son’s life.

I am very grateful for the Tecla Shield because it is the only device I know of that gives him reliable, wireless access to his Mac and iPhone.

Think of the Tecla as a device that enables a person who has NO HANDS to access a Mac or iPhone and do exactly the same things that can be done by someone who does have use of their hands. A Tecla works like a touch-screen or a wireless keyboard – ever used a touch-screen device? brilliant! ever used a bluetooth keyboard? also brilliant! But what if you had no hands?

Think of tapping a switch like tapping your fingers on a computer keyboard or tapping on a touch-screen device (although, let’s be honest here – when I say ‘computer’, I mean ‘Mac’, and when I say ‘touch-screen device’, I mean ‘iPhone’ or ‘iPad’, because; frankly, PCs won’t talk very nicely to my son. But Macs do! Other phones won’t talk very helpfully to my son, but iPhones do!  Only Apple devices have this free in-built feature – it’s called Switch Control.)

With the little blue and orange box in his wheelchair backpack, my quadriplegic son is enabled, through Apple Switch Control, to make connections with the world…literally. Without the use of his hands, he nevertheless opens and closes doors,  edits video, turns on his office air-conditioner, chats to friends, makes phone calls, listens to music, completes university courses, runs his own business, etc, etc, etc.

The Tecla Shield – a cute little box with a funny name. Where would we be without it!

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