DEDICATED TO IMPROVING THE LIVES OF BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE

Resources for Partners September 11,2020

Remembering 9/11

It’s September 11, so let’s start with a moment of reflection to honor the lives of those who perished. Michael Hingson, who has been blind from birth, was working at his job as a sales manager on the 78th floor of the North Tower when the plane hit the building. His guide dog, Roselle, walked Michael and others to safety. Read more here. Hingson recently joined Independence Science at Purdue University, where he’s using his physics education and public speaking skills to inspire students to pursue STEM careers. Find an interesting interview with Hingson about his employment history on the AFB site.

Entrepreneurial and Encouraging

When we looked at entrepreneurs, Ahmat was drawn to an article about Roxanna Mann, a Randolph Sheppard cafe owner who lost all her vision a few years before opening her business, for her outlook as much as for her business skills. She said “You get to be part of society that gives people jobs… it’s a huge blessing to be able to employ people in this economy.” At the time of her interview, Mann was using a point-of-sale device called Clover, which is voice-activated and uses cloud technology to act as a cash register and inventory control, allow employees to clock in and out, and, in other words, allows her to run the business side of her cafe without outside business services. “where you’re at today doesn’t mean that’s where you have to stay.” Read more about her story here.

Hungry? Use one of these accessible apps.

Groceries
Shop online for groceries through InstaCart and get them delivered in about an hour. Download the app and sign up. Put in your zip code and it will show you the stores that are available in your area. Communicate with your shopper as they are shopping for you. Ahmat wrote: “I was so happy to have found this app while living on campus. I did not think that it was accessible, but decided to give it a try and found it to be fairly accessible. It might give you a bit of difficulty with adding items to your cart and removing them, but it is fairly accessible. Get the app here.

“It works great”, said Ahmat about the comprehensive 12-step guide to using Instacart our research turned up from Outlook Nebraska, a full-service agency and the “largest employer of blind and visually impaired people in a 7-state region”. They tout features such as availability on both iOS and Android, ability to schedule delivery days in advance, and writing notes to the personal shopper on, say, ripeness level of your produce order. Outlook Nebraska Instacart Guide.

For those signed up at Hadley.edu, there’s an excellent Tech It Out conversation on grocery delivery services Instacart, Sshipt and Amazon. One important hint from a caller for those who have difficulty with Instacart’s online ordering, “I found …the website to be quite cumbersome and the mobile app is okay but I find it also to be a little tricky. But they have a toll-free 1-800 number that you can call if you have a disability, and they will actually do the shopping for you.” You can sign up here. Then type in Grocery Delivery in the general search box (bottom right corner), and you’ll go directly to the conversation.

Takeout

DoorDash delivers food from restaurants near your location. If you are craving something to eat, just open the DoorDash app, find a restaurant and select from their menu. Ahmat found the application to be accessible, “but depending on how busy your city is, it may take them a bit longer to get to you”. Before you can use the app, you will need to download it and set up a payment method. Get it on the Apple appstore.

The final app for food delivery is Uber Eats. “Hungry? Find the food you crave and order from restaurants easily.” And chat with your delivery and track it on the app to know when they have arrived. This application is accessible with VoiceOver. Just type Uber Eats on the apple app store to get it.

Developing Accessibility at Instacart

This resource is for our access developer readers. In an article on Medium.com, Logan Murdock, “Former Revenue Accountant and CPA turned Full-Stack Engineer Instacart. Also a huge Japanophile,” offers a series of best practices for creating an accessible customer experience. And, says Murdock, “The final step in accessibility development is thoroughly testing the full experience using a screen reader (VoiceOver, NVDA, JAWS, etc…). You will certainly appreciate the easy close button, the sane modal trap, and clear heading information you built into your app. We did with ours. Maybe you’ll even notice other accessibility challenges beyond these best-practices and add new cutting-edge solutions. Best of all — you will have optimized the experience for a critical segment of your users and hit another milestone in providing a seamless in-app experience for every customer:” The full article is at making instacart accessible

Building in Accessibility at Universities

Teach Access is “an active collaboration among education, industry, and disability advocacy organizations to address the critical need to enhance students’ understanding of digital accessibility as they learn to design, develop, and build new technologies with the needs of people with disabilities in mind.” In the past, RDPFS partnered with Teach Access to provide faculty grants at universities to include “accessibility knowledge and skills in courses and programs from computer science, design, UX and other disciplines.” Among their current offerings, the Teach Access’s week long Study Away Silicon Valley program “brings together students, faculty, and industry partners to explore the field of accessibility at the industry partner’s site. “Throughout the week, small cross-institutional teams of students work together to solve an accessibility challenge, and receive feedback from industry partners each day. On the final day of the program, student teams present their work in front of all participants as well as representatives from Teach Access member companies.” Teach access also provides a basic training tutorial for designers and developers. There’s even an Accessibility trivia game, although the date for “winning some swag” has passed.

More innovations for getting around safely

Buzz Clip, is a wearable device which has a sensor that alerts the wearer to objects and anything that is in front of you by vibrating as you approach. Attach it to a white cane or to clothing. For example, if an object is at your chest or head level, the cane will not detect it but Buzz Clip will. The closer you are to the obstacle the more intense the vibration so you know to stop. Cost is $249.00. You can listen to the demonstration here. For more information click here. Buzz Clip is the product of University of Toronto startup iMerciv, which has recently launched a second product. “MapinHood launched in February 2020. It’s a free, crowdsourced pedestrian navigation app that empowers people to choose safe and barrier-free city walking routes, with real-time updates about hazards. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, they also added a social distancing mode to allow users to choose less busy routes.” More about MapinHood on Facebook and Twitter.