Making Sense is made possible in part from donations from our readers. These articles are not an endorsement by Second Sense. Editor, Kathy Austin.
August Update at Second Sense
Our COVID19 Policy
Help Us Reduce Wait Times
Career Opportunity: Become a Screen Reader User Tester!
RP Meet Up
Apple Exchange: Traveling with Ventra
Accessible At Home COVID19 Tests
Illinois Department of Human Services is Hiring
What’s That Bird?
Envision App: An Alternative to Seeing AI
MiniVision2+ Accessible Cell Phone
Calendar of Events
Hope you are enjoying warm summer days filled with fun activities and gatherings with family and good friends! If you are thinking you may need a refresher on any skills that will help you be more independent with vision loss, please give us a call. Cody Froeter, CVRT, Siobhan Midgley, CVRT, COMS and Richard Stauder, CVRT, CATIS are here to help you learn the skills to tackle those frustrating problems that often arise. Computer training with JAWS, NVDA or Fusion, VoiceOver on iPhones, orientation and mobility with a white cane or any daily living task that has you stumped are just some of the ways we provide support. Marv, our volunteer tech tutor, and Gloria, our braille tutor, are also here by appointment for additional training and support. To request any training, please call our office at 312-236-8569.
For those who receive in-person services, whether in your home or our office, you must be fully vaccinated and wear a mask. We appreciate your cooperation in helping us keep our clients, volunteers and staff safe and healthy. For those who are not vaccinated, training can be provided remotely via phone, video call or screen sharing programs.
You can help us reduce wait times by keeping all scheduled appointments. We know life happens, but ask that you inform your instructor a minimum of 24 hours prior to your appointment if cancellation is necessary.
Are you a screen reader user looking for a solid career in the digital accessibility industry? Today’s websites, apps and PDFs must be accessible for people with disabilities. Who better to advise companies on the accessibility of their digital products than the people who use them with screen readers? We are excited to welcome Dina Rosenbaum, chief program officer, and Nick Corbett, accessibility training and research coordinator, from the Carroll Center in Boston to share the details of their comprehensive Screen Reader User Tester course. This course is held remotely in the fall and spring. You will learn about what a screen reader user tester does, the qualifications to participate in this course and the career opportunities completing this course will provide. To join this important presentation on Thursday, August 18 at 1:30 pm CDT, call our conference line, 312-809-1004. For questions, email Kathy Austin.
We are excited to welcome Courtney Firak, patient advocacy lead from Spark Therapeutics, to our RP Meet Up on Tuesday, August 9 at 7:00 pm. Spark Therapeutics is a member of the global inherited retinal disease community. They are working on clinical research and educational programs to increase access to genetic screening for people with IRDs. Ms. Firak will overview the importance and value of genetic testing, provide information on the testing process and share community resources. Our RP Meet Up is for individuals with retinitis pigmentosa and other inherited retinal diseases, family and friends. To join us for this important discussion, call our conference line at 312-809-1004. For questions, email Kathy Austin.
Using the Ventra app can help you plan a trip, get real time arrival and departure times and purchase tickets for riding Metra, CTA and Pace. At our August Apple Exchange, Richard Stauder, our assistive technology instructor, shares accessibility tips and the pros and cons of using the app. Join the conversation on Thursday, August 4 at 1:00 pm by calling 312-809-1004. For questions, email Richard Stauder.
The free COVID-19 at-home test kits provided by the federal government are now more accessible for those with vision loss. These new test kits require you to have a compatible Bluetooth-enabled smart phone and to download the Ellume app from either the Apple App Store for iOS or Google Play for Android. The test works with the app, providing step-by-step instructions for administering the test with results reported in audio. Because accessible tests are in limited supply, the government requests you use a traditional test, if possible, with the help of a family member or friend, Aira or BeMyEyes. Test kits are shipped free and can be ordered by visiting the USPS website or by calling 800-232-0233.
Our staff is testing the kits with the app and will share our experience at the September Apple Exchange. The American Council of the Blind’s website on accessible COVID-19 test kits has more helpful information and resources.
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is recruiting professionals to advance the mission of IDHS and the seven divisions within the agency. IDHS holds virtual recruitment presentations twice a month highlighting careers and the benefits of working for the state of Illinois. They will break down the application process and answer your questions. Registration is required to attend. The next presentations are August 3 at 10:00 am and August 17 at 2:00 pm. For questions, email DHS.firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you love listening to the birds and want to identify them by song, check out the free Merlin Bird ID app by the renowned Cornell University Lab of Ornithology. Using the Sound ID feature, you can record the bird song with your iPhone and let Merlin tell you what bird it is. According to the AppleVis entry, this app is easy to use and very accessible. The app is also a favorite of Midwest Backyard Birders Facebook group. Other reviewers report good success in identifying birds and recommend the app for new birders!
The Envision app touts the fastest and most accurate optical character recognition (OCR). You can quickly read text from any surface including food packages, posters and display screens. The app can also describe scenes around you, detect and describe colors, and scan bar and QR codes. The app is now free and available for both Apple iOS and Android.
Here’s another easy-to-use cell phone designed for individuals with vision loss! The MiniVision2+ from RAZ Mobility offers a tactile keyboard with large buttons, voice commands and voice guidance that announces anything appearing on the screen. The phone allows you to make phone calls, send text messages and add contacts. Other features include an alarm, calendar, money and color identifier, plus much more. Low vision users will appreciate the ability to significantly enlarge fonts and change color schemes. The phone has been authorized to work on the AT&T, T-Mobile and Cricket networks. This reasonably priced cell phone ($329.00) must be purchased through RAZ Mobility.