The conference was pretty good. Lately, I've gone to this particular conference and learned very little. Today, I actually learned stuff, and got questions answered.
This entry may not be that interesting if you don't careabout adaptive technology or general accessibility thoughts. I'll try to have something interesting soon, but I'm dealing with one of the evil headaches, and have a theology assignment to write. I don't remember reading encyclopedias as a kid, so this type of work is a little challenging for me. It would be hard normally, but thinking around a headache that makes one sick and light sensitive is even more of a challenge. So I suspect I will be pretty busy this weekend.
We went to the
booth. I hadn't ever really played with Voice Over, and, although I didn't really get to test it as hard as I would want to before buying it, I did get a feel for it somewhat. The cool thing Voice Over has, that I don't think the windows screen readers have is an interactive quick start guide. The windows screen readers I've played with (which is basically just JAWS), have keyboard identification modes, but they don't have interactive guides. I liked that it was all in one place, and that I could just pick it up and play. I asked about if they have any plans to work on accessibility of iPods and iTunes, and she said that it's a common request, but that they can't talk about anything that has not been announced/isn't available. This is just an editorial aside, but I hope that more dialogue could be started, and that general Apple policy could be changed so that that dialogue could happen. The people I talked to were very friendly, and I liked that they let me just play with the technology.
I also saw the KNfb Reader. For those who don't know and haven't been bored into skipping this entry, the product I'm referring to is a PDA/camera integration with scanning capabilities and the ability to turn that info into text through OCR. The unit then reads the text aloud. I'm going to have to eat my initial thoughts on this product. It is actually pretty cool. The product is a lot smaller than I expected, and the case is nice in that it keeps things together. I tried scanning something I had sitting in my lap. First, the unit told me that I needed to change the orientation. It wasn't just a "turn the unit to the left dummy" message, instead it actually said "Turn the camera 26 degrees counter clockwise relative to the page". That's got a lot of information, and I got it right on the second try.
I was really surprised at how well the scan came out, especially given that my lap isn't exactly flat, and this was a photocopy, which usually means degraded quality. I wouldn't read a whole book with it, but a menu or handout I needed to read would be good. For now, though, the price is too high. I can hire a reader for lots of hours before I pay for that unit. I think that, if anything, would be the biggest barrier for this product. But it's a lot cooler than I initially thought it would be.
Here's more info on the reader.
I talked to both of the screen reader companies I needed to, and I've got some research to do.
Because I chose to use a wheelchair, I observed some aspects of the exhibit hall I normally don't see. First, the layout of this particular hotel is not ideal, at least outside, for a wheelchair. Why, I ask, would one have a wheelchair ramp up to a sidewalk with stairs? Just asking. It's also more of a challenge getting to the exhibits, and then I think it presents unique challenges to the exhibitors, since I don't think the booth set up is that conducive to wheelchair accessibility. The exhibit hall, by its definition at one of these conferences, is crouded. It's harder to get around in general. And I could see a wheelchair user getting lost in the shuffle, simply because standing people tend to be taller and overshadow the persone using the wheelchair. I have to say that this didn't happen here, but I could see it happening.
There were other booths I visited, but what I heard isn't stuff I've seen written anywhere. When it's for sure public, I'll write about it. I'd assume that if it was shown/discussed at an exhibit hall, it's public, but you know what it means to assume.
It was a good learning experience in general. I definitely think my
experiences helped me ask better tech questions. I know a little bit more of what to look for now.