This demo gives you an introduction to using Swift Playgrounds with VoiceOver.


In this demo I take you through using the game: navigating the menus, Settings, Tutorial, Practise, and playing a game of cricket.  Note: because the game is self voicing you will need to turn off VoiceOver.  The game is free. The other app in this series is the Audio Game Hub.

February 12, 2017

Why I Keep Using The Mac

Why I use A Mac


The reason why I stay using the Mac, is that it is well integrated with everything else that I use. for both home and work: the Mac, the Apple Watch, the Apple TV, and of course the iPhone.


I have been using a Mac now for over 10 years and iOS for almost 8 years.  One thing that has always stood out for me with the Mac is that as a person who is blind, I can completely trouble shoot or re-install the OS completely independently without sighted assistance.  My interaction with a Windows machine over these years when something has failed, has always meant I have needed someone with sight to let me know what was happening on screen or to assist me getting the screen reader up and going again.  I know that with the latest Windows 10 preview build, that you can now kick in Narrator which is a great thing.


I am a poor speller at the best of times, and when writing on the Mac, spelling suggestions don’t even work because I’ve mangled  a word so badly.  Siri comes to the rescue with “Spell Yogurt” which is a particular word that I always forget to spell when doing a shopping list, and yes, I used Siri to spell it just now.


With FaceTime, I can make and answer calls via my iPhone, and since I’m already on the Mac, can use Textedit or Pages to take notes whilst I’m chatting on the phone as it were.


Being able to ask Siri for directions to a location, then within Maps, share to my iPhone: ready to follow the directions when I leave the house.


Quickly looking up a word within the dictionary app is always helpful.


I really enjoy the TWiT TV Network which most of the time I listen to on my iPhone, but sometimes its just nice listening to via the TWIT TV app on the Mac.


Both Skype for business and skype work well with voiceOver, so when working with folks at work or chatting with people for a podcast, its all covered.


I still appreciate the fact that when I plug power in to the Mac, a chime plays to let me know that power is on and my Mac is charging: no need to check the charging status.


My family and friends all use iOs devices, so rather than having to pick up my iPhone to send a Message, I use Message on the Mac to send and receive messages.


Our family uses Find My Friends to keep track of each other.  Rather than having to get out my iPhone, I can check in the Notifications Centre on the Mac to see where folks are.


As the Mac comes with the Mac App Store, most of the apps that I use on the Mac are from this source.  I feel better protected, and the apps work reasonably well such as Twitter.


As I am a big fan of using iBooks on my iPhone, being able to read these same books on the Mac with VoiceOver is a huge plus.


The iWork suite works well with VoiceOver on the Mac, but what is great as well particularly for work is the fact that Microsoft Office works well: I Particularly use Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook on the Mac all the time these days.


My main source for social media is Twitter, the Mac client works fairly well, and some times I live it running it in the background and just listen to the Tweets.


Universal copy between the Mac and my iPhone comes in very handy for copying phone numbers or URLS in either direction, and nothing could be easier than selecting copy on one device, and paste on the other.


As I produce a fair number of instructional documents, some of which folks want in an audio format, using Add To iTunes As A Spoken Track, comes in very handy for quickly converting a text document in to an audio file.


As I where away the hours when working on the Mac, rather than having to check the time manually, I have the Mac system clock tell me the time every 15 minutes so I can automatically keep track of time passing, and don’t miss an appointment.


Speaking of appointments, I use Reminders and Calendar appointments on my iPhone which of course come across to the Mac as well.


When shopping, I use the Notes app on the Mac to make a check list of items to check off when I pick up the Note on my iPhone when shopping.


Adjusting the sound of the Mac with audio feedback I’ve always found handy for both VoiceOver and general sound output on the Mac.


I tend to use both Google Chrome and Safari on the Mac for slightly different purposes.  I use Chrome for the client management system at work and Safari for reading articles on the web via the Reader mode which strips out the html code just leaving the text of the article to read.


As iTunes originally was developed for the Mac, I seem to have less issues with it from an accessibility point of view that I do when using iTunes on Windows.  Consequently when there is an update to iTunes, I don’t get as nervous that something may have broken from the screen reader point of view.


Speaking of iTunes and music, I have a number of Airplay speakers including number of Apple TVs around the house, depending on what I am doing and where I am, I just pipe the music to the appropriate speaker or Apple TV.


I certainly enjoy listening to Audio Described movies from the iTunes Store since Apple is making a considerable effort in making these available.


When  my family goes and stays over night if we are visiting, I always take our family MacBook Pro which has my boys favourite movies on it plus the Apple TV so I can stream them from the Mac on to the TV via the Apple TV.


I seem to be given iTunes cards from family and friends on a regular basis.  Like the iPhone, I can use the camera in the Mac to input the iTunes gift card straight in to iTunes.


Using my AirPods across all devices: particularly Apple Watch, iPhone and the Mac: means I can just use one bluetooth head phone for all my devices.


As I use an Apple watch, having my Mac simply unlock when I sit down to use my Mac is fantastic and much more convenient and faster than waiting for the screen VoiceOver to speak out the security prompt, and for me to type inn my password.  There have been times when I have got a bit impatient and have started typing in my password before VoiceOver has started talking, only do find that I have sent the last person in Messages my password smile.


As I still enjoy the occasional game of chess, having the default Chess application in the Mac speak out its moves lets me enjoy a good game of chess, even though I mostly loose to the Mac.


I know that I can use Siri to cary out calculations, but having the Calculator app also speak out its results is very handy for me as a screen reader user.


One of the dreaded things I absolutely hate on Windows is that sometimes sound is muted, and there is no keyboard short-cut to get it back.  On the Mac there is a short-cut and I’ve never not been able to get sound back on the Mac and consequently keep using VoiceOver.


Siri works well for launching apps, finding documents, and checking my Calendar.


I use preview on the Mac for quickly listing to audio files or checking a document, rather than having to launch an application to access the file.


Being able to check the status of what accessibility options I have turned on is quite useful, particularly when using other accessibility options other than VoiceOver.


Having the Mac speak out system messages or read what is on the screen through a keyboard command is again extremely handy.


Since I use some different bits of hardware in the house to control lights, lamps, check the indoor and outdoor temperature, and check who is at my door: rather than me having to pick up my iPhone to access these different systems, I can use my Mac as well.


VoiceOver on iOS and Mac OS have similar gestures and keyboard commands which makes transferring from one to the other a breeze, plus from a training point of view, very consistent and easy to explain and re-enforce ways of navigating.  In some ways, you are using one screen reader for mobile or desktop.


I forget sometimes how many different ways VoiceOver allows me to navigate: main keyboard commands, Lock VoiceOver keys, Quick Nav, numeric keypad, and of course the trackpad.


The sounds that VoiceOver on the Mac users to let you know what is going on is one of those things that when you don’t have it, you really miss it when I use Windows.


Using screen curtain to blank the screen so that people can’t see what I am doing when I’m reading a report on the train or reading a confidential document at work is extremely valuable.


Having a training mode in a screen reader to teach you how to use its basic functions is very important for new users.


When I am not using my MacBook Air Or MacBook Pro with the inbuilt trackpad, I can still use my Magic Trackpad with my iMac.


AS far as I know, VoiceOver is still the only screen reader that allows the launching of applications from its own Keyboard commander.  All the applications that I use regularly on the Mac have their own VoiceOver Keyboard Commander short-cut such as K for Skype, G for Google Chrome, A for Amadeus Pro, M for MarsEdit etc.


I still find VoiceOver on the Mac the easiest screen reader to install a Braille display.  For UsB, plug it in and VoiceOver will detect it.  With a Bluetooth Braille display, choose the Braille display you want to use and off I go.


As the cursor movement on both the Mac and iPhone are the same with VoiceOver when navigating: cursor is to the left or right of the character when moving: I don’t have to double check myself when switching between mobile and desktop.


No matter if I am typing in Messages, Notes, Mail, Pages, Safari etc, it its always nice to know that my typing is being spelled checked: did I mention I was a poor speller.


The strong integration between the Mac OS and VoiceOver, means that I never have an issue with the screen reader not working, hanging, not working with the video card, loosing its authorisation etc: it just keeps working.


In this demo, I show you a few apps and I use on the Xbox One plus have a bit of a play around with Cortana.


In this Xbox One demo 2: I take you briefly through Settings, download and install an app (demoing pinning to the Home screen and quitting), purchasing and watching a movie, using Live TV to watch my talking digital set top box, and take you through navigating the Xbox One Console with the UsB QWERRTY keyboard plus Narrator specific keyboard commands.

January 12, 2017

Xbox One demo using Narrator

In this demo I take you through the features of the Xbox One. What is in the box, physical description of the Xbox One and the Controller, installing the battery's to the Controller, plugging in the Xbox One to the TV, setup steps after turning on (currently not accessible), toggling Narrator on, a run through of the Home screen (Home, Community, One Guide and Store), Guide, Settings/Ease of Access/Narrator, organisation of My Games and Apps, and shutting down the Xbox one using Narrator.


In this demo, I take you through what is in the box, a physical description of the MBP, use of the keyboard with VoiceOver without the function keys, a bit of a run through using the Touch Bar, and then the Touch ID.


In this demo I go through what is in the AirPod box, a description of the charging case and AirPods themselves: using the AirPods with the iPhone, Apple watch, Mac and Apple TV: then finish off with some general comments.


cIn this demo, I take you through the self voicing app: Ballyland Rotor: which is an excellent app on how to teach children the iOS VoiceOver rotor gestures of two finger rotate and 1 finger flick up or down to choose an item.


In this demo, I go through my podcasting setup and how I use it not only for podcasting, but for work as well.


I take you through the main menu options, list some of the scenes I've already played, and play several scenes to give you an idea of the game.

I've played this game on Android and iOS, great its now availalbe on the Mac and just as fun to play.



Demo of the Synapptic menu structure, Help, Settings, and voice control.


Played with the Android version of this app today and it is much more accessible than the iOS version: so a quick demo called for.  Developers hopefully will be making improvements to the iOs version, but this demo does show how well it could work on iOS with VoiceOver.


In this demo I show you how you can use the Tile app to locate your Tiles and the objects that the Tiles are attached to.  Some parts of the app are not very accessible, but at least for playing a sound on a tile to locate it for the most part actually works.


As soon as I posted my first demo yesterday on unboxing and setup, V2 of the BrailleNote Touch software cam out: hence this demo of updating, KNFB Reader, and the Braille Termainal mode to allow VoiceOver access from the iPhone.


Demo of the new VoiceOver Rotor Action for moving and deleting apps.


Demo of the Apple Watch Series 2 using VoiceOver.


Demo of the iPhone 7 plus using VoiceOver.


Demo of the new VoiceOver sound channel option in iOS 10.


Demo of using the iPhone running iOS 10 and TV os 10 to allow iOS keyboard on iPhone to be used as input keyboard on the Apple TV when near by.


Demo of using the Coffee Link app on iOS with voiceOver.  Oddly after completing this demo, discovered that the Android version of this app works better with a screen reader to control the machine.

September 20, 2016

Mac os Sierra Siri demo

At last Siri has arrived on the Mac with Sierra.  Take you through setup and use.

Demo of the Apple Watch Heart Beat app with Watch os V3.


Demo of the new Breathing app with watch os V3.


Demo of using Find my iPhone to find the Aple watch.


Demo of how to setup and use the Dock button in watch os V3.


Demo of how to setup and use the talking Mickey or Mini Mouse watch faces in Watch os V3.


Demo of moving or deleting apps on the Home screen in Watch os V3.


Demo of using the VoiceOver Auto Speak function in Watch os V3.


How to setup and use Taptic time with voiceOver in Watch os V3.

A bit of a sneaky demo of Watch os V3 before full release.


Demo of the updated Remote iOS app which now includes Siri to control the Apple TV 4th generation.

Demo of how to setup and use the VRS with the VA I-Access Lib service.


Rather than trying to drag and drop web links using VoiceOver, demo of writing a quick file for a web link.


In this demo of the Ballyland Magic app, I give you a demo and overview of the app.

From the developers:

An educational iPad game that helps children with vision impairment to learn and practice a number of VoiceOver gestures.

The Ballyland Magic app is specifically designed for young children with vision impairment to learn and practice their first navigational touch gestures for VoiceOver, Apple’s built-in screen reader. While engaging with the Ballyland Magic app, children with no or low vision will learn fundamental skills to use a mobile touch screen device. You don’t need to be a VoiceOver expert to assist the child – but by the end of the Magic Show, you may be well on your way to becoming one!!


  • No previous iPad experience required by the child or parent/teacher
  • Built-in speech
  • Original ‘Tap-tap’ practice song
  • Popular Ballyland characters
  • Use at home and at school
  • Designed with extensive feedback from young children with vision impairment, their parents and educators

Voice Assistant basic gestures demo using Samsung Galaxy Tab

Firstly I give you a physical description of my Samsung Galaxy Tab and a reminder that the Tab has a physical Home button with the Recent apps and Back buttons to the left and right of the physical Home button: i.e. the Recent apps and Back buttons are soft buttons: i.e. part of the touch screen interface with the other icons.

I then go through the following gestures.

3 finger flick left right to change:

Speech rate,


Dark screen,

Large cursor,

Notification, and

Media vol.

1 finger flick up or down to change.

3 Finger flick up or down to change navigation elements:

Character granularity,

Word granularity.

Line granularity, and

Paragraph granularity,

1 finger flick up or down to move by navigation element.

Jump to first and last items on screen:

1 finger up/down (up pointing arrow) top of screen, and

1 finger down/up (down pointing arrow) bottom of screen.

Drag finger around screen or flick left/right to navigate.

1 finger double tap to activate last item heard/in focus.

2 finger flick left/right up/down:

scroll screen in opposite direction to flick.

Two finger flick down: read down from current position.

Two finger touch to silence speech.

Two finger double tap: start/stop audio if playing.

2 finger triple tap: read out Notification info: time, date etc.

3 finger touch: reads out items in order after the current selected item.

Complete the demo by showing how I unlock my Tab using a pin number at the lock screen.


In this demo, I take you through the Albert Accessibility Training tutorial Android app which is a secure way of entering your pin on an Albert terminal including: Audio Introduction, Tutorial, Practise Gestures, and Help.

When you install the app on your Android device, it will be installed as AEVI Accessibility Tutorial as this is what the Albert Terminal is based upon.
Also keep in mind that to allow you to use the accessible secure pin entry, the merchant needs to turn on accessibility on via the terminals context menu, and then you can either use the speaker in the terminal (or head phones) to listen to your amount, prompts when entering in your pin, and whether it is declined or authorised.
This is a great way to learn how to use the Albert Terminal before you actually have to use one.

In this demo I demonstrate the Vision Australia Connect app for use with the I-Access library service which provides daisy books, newspapers/magazines and podcasts for members of the VA Library to stream or download to their Android devices: in my case on my Samsung Galaxy Tab..

In this demo I take you through finding and downloading the app from the Google Play Store, signing in with the app to the I-Access service (VA Lib members), description of main bookshelf screen, searching for a book, downloading and reading a book, explanation and demo of the play book daisy screen, and returning a book to the VA Library.
As this was a basic demo, subscriptions to newspapers/magazines and the podcasts plus more advanced usage of the VA Connect player will be covered in another demo.

In this demo I demonstrate the Vision Australia Connect app for use with the I-Access library service which provides daisy books, newspapers/magazines and podcasts for members of the VA Library to stream or download to their iOS devices: i.e. iPod touch, iPad or iPhone.

In this demo I take you through finding and downloading the app from the App Store, signing in with the app to the I-Access service (VA Lib members), description of main bookshelf screen, searching for a book, downloading and reading a book, explanation and demo of the play book daisy screen, and returning a book to the VA Library.
As this was a basic demo, subscriptions to newspapers/magazines and the podcasts plus more advanced usage of the VA Connect player will be covered in another demo.


In this demo I give you a physical description of the Wahoo TICKR Hart Rate Monitor, how to attach and ware the chest band, using the Wahoo utility app to check connectivity, go through the Run Fit app briefly looking at Settings and the Profile tabs (to set your heart zones), and then take you through using the heart rate monitor with a cardio workout on my treadmill.


In this demo, I take you through navigating Microsoft outlook for Mac (release 2016 April 11) using VoiceOver covering the layout of the main screen (Toolbar, Ribbon Group, Navigation Table, Message Table [when using Mail], buttons for Mail, Calendar etc, and Status Group, accessing Mail, sending a New e-mail, Replying/Forwarding on an e-mail, checking for e-mail, changing application screens within outlook (Mail Command+1, Calendar Command+2, People Command+3, Tasks Command+4 and Notes command+5), a brief look at the layout of the Calendar screen, and looking at preferences for setting up an Account, and Notification Sounds.

In further demos, will explore Calendar, People etc.
Aim of this demo was to give you an initial feel of the layout of outlook and the ease of navigating and use.

In this demo, I take you through a demo of the Audio Game Hub and play two of the eight games: Archery and Hunt.

For an experimental audio game with visuals that you can toggle, it is a great set of eight games.
Note - to use the game, toggle VoiceOver off.

In this demo, I show you how to keep listening to an eBook such as an iBook or Kindle book even when your screen is locked using the "speak screen" function that you will find in Settings, General, Accessibility, Speech, Speak Screen.

In the demo, I show you two ways of invoking speak screen: either by two finger swipe down from the status line if using VoiceOver or asking Siri to "speak screen".
You can also get Siri to stop speaking the screen if you wish.

In this demo I take you through what is new in TV os 9.2 in respect to using voice dictation: renaming, moving and creating folders to sort apps in to, and demoing navigating with a Bluetooth keyboard which is now available on the Apple tv once again.

I also point out two current issues with using the BT keyboard: pressing Escape 3 times to bring back the Accessibility Short-Cut menu after turning off VO with the same command, will not work.  Secondly when entering passwords in to a secure text field, keys are echoed.

In this demo, I take you through having a bit of a play around with using more than one Apple watch with my Apple watch 42mm and Apple watch sports 38mm, and suggest a number of benefits of using more than one Apple watch, particularly at least for me, it now allows me to demo one watch without the worry of people accessing private information.


In this demo, I show you how to password protect a note within the Notes and where to change or reset the password.

Same functionality to that found now in the Notes app in iOS 9.3.

When in an app (not on the home screen), 4 finger flick left or right will switch between running apps.


No longer need to be on 4g or Wi-Fi to use voice dictation: can be offline with no internet connection.

Correction: in the demo I say it just works automatically.  However, if your language supports offline voice dictation you may need to turn it on in Settings, General, Keyboard, Dictation on/off toggle.  I dont' know why, but my setting was on by default which according to some blogs will be turned off by default.

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