Using Podcasts to Support Partially Sighted Individuals
apodder.org offers several forms of information and software to help partially sighted people use podcasts for enjoyment, information, and inspiration:
Past podcasts and links are listed below for the record while the new "apodder.org" is under development.
- The @Podder podcatcher uses a blend of high contrast user interface, keyboard or mouse interaction, and feedback by synthetic voice -- dubbed "Easy Viewing". A new version of @Podder will be available mid-September while the current version is function and available for free dload. @Podder will retrieve podcasts, invoke a media player for listening, and assist in managing growing collections of podcasts of value.
apodder.org fosters the view that podcasts are valuable replacements for magazines, newspapers, and video media for print-disabled individuals. High value medical news, interviews with visually impaired people, podcasts by and for blind people, disability issues, nd assistive product demonstration and evaluation podcasts are being collected, using @Pocder, into a library available as HTML files that require no software beyond an audio-enabled browser. This library of over 1000 podcasts will be released in topic areas over the coming months, linked here.
The founder of apodder.org offers personal experience with technology,organizations, and philosophical musings from a long period of degenerating vision. Presented as a blog,
"As Your World Changes", tagline "Adjusting to Vision Loss with Class, "uning technology", built around the podcast library and the @Podder software. Current topics include" magnifiers, text readers, Bookshare.org and reading appliances, 5 tenets for adjusting to low vision, seeing through Google Book Search, surviving application updates, lucky timing at the era of podcasts, mdsupport.org support for macular degenerates, ...
Reviews and Mentions: Softpedia,
Technology Coalition, Fred's
Head Database, Disability411
(#8), Ask a Therapist , NosillaCast
Podcast "As Your World Changes"
(Eyesight and Podcasting)
More coming soon: text-to-speech applications for everybody,
updates on @Podder, reviews of great podcasts on eyesight
- Episode 3
Reviews of Disability 411, Google
Petition Plea, Podcast
recommendations (Word Nerds, Daily Breakfast), apodder.org vision
podcast directory, and HTML Show Notes in @Podder
(Feb. 23 2006) Vision-related podcasting, Google petition, @Podder tip
on HTML show notes
Reviews of Disability 411, Google
Petition Plea, Podcast
recommendations (Word Nerds, Daily Breakfast), apodder.org vision
podcast directory, and HTML Show Notes in @Podder.
Our podcast theme is "As Your World Changes", that those of us
partially sighted often find vision, computer tools, and world at large
always changing. One of our goals at
apodder.org is to make it easier to adapt to these changes. Sometimes
to be more demanding of the world, asking for reasonable changes like
alternatives to word verification barrier.
- Disability 411 (http://disability411.jinkle.com)
offers advice and interviews from Beth Case, a disability
counselor in the Houston area. Show #7 is an interview with
Disability Law Resource Center lawyer who describes not only
the legal aspects of disability law but also how to handle a job
interview with confidence.
Assuming you know the nature of the job and that you can do it (better
before), still lot of mundane problems, like finding rooms, handling
cafeteria trays, and shaking hands.
- Darrell Shandrow from Blind Access
leading an effort to encourage "Do No Evil" Google and other web
service providers to find an anti-spam alternative other than CAPTCHA those
funny-looking words that you must copy to access a service. The word access
petition at http://www.blindwebaccess.com
has over 4000 signers. His blog discusses why
CAPTCHA is such a problem and some possible solutions. Good article in
Internet News Feb. 17 entitled, sadly, "Google's doors still shut to
the blind.:" This petition is very reasonable, respectful, and
addressed to whole industry. My summary of the need is three-fold: (1)
social justice, fairness to all, whether or not the laws are being
enforcedeca; (2) social opportunity, because general rule, eliminating
a barrier for one group of people usually makes technology better for
everybody, (3) good technology challenge, alternative to beheading
Great podcast series Recommendations (not vision-related)
- The Word Nerds
teacher-type guys who pick a weekly cultural theme. such as "color
metaphors", and tell you the background of words in that and
work category. And they're very clear about their pet peeves,
favorite words, and even a "rude word of the week". An especially great
podcast was #24 on "silence" (Aug. 21, 2005). And their anniversary
show on Feb. 17 described how they produced their show.
- fr. Roderick has spun off his 20 minute
from "The Catholic Insider" as part of his
SQPN enterprise. Aside from his daily routine as a priest, he provides
a great amount of information on how me makes his podcast. It\'s
necessary to re-subscribe from the former "popecast" series.
- Version 1.3 is available at the
downloads page of apodder.org. It is now easier to remove feeds and
old podcasts.Newly added are tags .
- Tip #1: (Listen to the Tip)
then head over to
your browser for more information. After every download session,
the show notes provided in the RSS feed by the podcast authors appear
as an HTML page, automatically displayed in your default browser if you
want. You can click on the mp3 files and listen in your browser
plug-in. The lists of podcasts downloaded into your mp3 directory and
all the podcasts recorded as downloaded can be browsed in order of
time, titles, feeds, or tags. The advantage of this technique is that
you can set up your browser with the fonts and colors the way you
like to view web pages then read these "table of contents" for
podcasts. Your browser search helps find podcasts, too.
- Reminder: apodder.org is building a respository of podcasts that
include information on eyesight or are made by visually impaired
podcasters. Link at http://www.apodder.org/community
with 400+ (over 15GB). We're expanding our list by using podcast search
services from http://www.podnova.com
Podzinger picks up fragments of podcasts that discuss vision-related
topics, like text-to-speech or accessibility issues.
2: (June 21)
Accessibility in PDF, and @Podder Features
Podcasts about Vision
Podcasts and podcasters dealing with
Let's talk about accessibility
in Adobe PDF and its use for
eBooks. Following up from our 1st
podcast, Prof. Susan Krieger's
interview with Dr. Moira Gunn
descried some problems using PDF for
her new book "Things No Longer There". "Todd
the Geek" from Geek News
Central has a new book "Podcasting
Do-it-yourself Guide" available as an eBook (same price as paperback on
Amazon) from Wiley
Publishing. Here's a recount of
my experiences with buying the
eBook and learning more about accessibility in Adobe Reader.
Naturally, you save shipping and
download instantly the eBook (after
paying for it, of course). You'll need either Microsoft Reader or Adobe
Reader and (here's a catch) Microsoft Passport .net to unlock the
downloaded file. So, you might need to download, install, and
setup Passport and/or Adobe Reader. I needed to update for Adobe
7.0 and found myself also getting a Yahoo search bar and Adobe
Photoshop trial gratuitously bundled in the setup. And Adobe Reader had
to activate itself. Each step in this process leads to the next,
eventually allowing you to read the eBook.
Adobe Reader has "Read out loud"
buried down on its View menu. That
works, if you can stand to listen to the voice of "Microsoft Sam" for
300 pages ("he" is *not* someone you'd like to be stuck in an elevator
with). You can set preferences to use other voices installed
on my PC (notably the more pleasant "American adult female Mary"). And
it would be nice to have an upfront toolbar for starting and pausing
reading aloud as alternatives to drilling down the View menu or
learning the keyboard shortcuts.
But, wait there's more! At the bottom
of the menubar Help, I
found an accessibility setup option. That takes you through several
accessibility options offering reading order and font choosing, and
most important (for me) contrast with black background and yellow or
blue or white fonts.
So, bottom line on this experiment: a
few gotchas in eBook setup,
some disappointment in reading out loud, but easier viewing with high
contrast background. Adobe is indeed trying to make PDF more
accessible. Some references: usability issues,
Now, what is @Podder?
@Podder is a podcatcher with the core
features of managing
subscriptions for feeds and downloads of podcasts, scheduled if the
user likes. What's different from iPodder and doppler and other
podcatchers is that the user interface of @Podder is more malleable so
that it can be adapted for visually impaired users.
Visually impaired here means not only
those who absolutely require
screen readers as their main means of using a PC, like the BlindTech
podcaster. @Podder should be helpful for the millions of people who
need better fonts, color contrasts, screen arrangements, and perhaps
some text-to-speech. We call this "easier viewing" to emphasize that
@Podder is (a) simpler, with the core features "in your face" (so to
speak) and (b) using general accessibility principles of applications.
Now, it turns out there aren't very
good standards or guidelines for
accessibility in either applications or web pages, so we're also trying
to experiment with and demonstrate some new features of PC
applications in general.
So, what's in @Podder (and in
shots and downloadable)?
@Podder currently does not support
screen readers until it's integrated
with a Windows bridge to its Java language. We're still working on some
usability issues but you'll probably find @Podder both functional as it
is now , more comfortable to view, and with some interesting and
- Enlarged fonts, currently three "themes" including regular (like
most applications), enlarged fonts, and contrast
- Consistent interaction to delete or select feeds, downloads, or
mp3 files by check boxes
- Just a few Tabbed panes and buttons, not requiring menus or
toolbars which get hard to read and manipulate
- Big tooltips with descriptions
- Text-to-speech by using a 3rd party tool (CoolSpeech) that speaks text copied
to the clipboard (Sample in the podcast)
- Keyboard shortcuts to all buttons (summarized in the Help)
- Inline Help (refreshed from the website to be up-to-date)
- Community web page to provide 1-click subscription of new
You're welcome to download @Podder --
please send your reactions and
suggestions to email@example.com.
Podcasts Not Related to Vision
- Always good is Tony Kahn's Morning
Stories from WGBH "stories that stay with you all day", I
wonder how he finds these interesting story-tellers and great lessons
in living, from June 17 "Arithmetic of Nursing".
instructions: On most web pages, look for symbols like these: or or . Click Copy
Link Location or Copy Shortcut
in the right-mouse menu. Paste using
the " >>>" button near the box
in the upper left
corner of the "Get PodCasts" tab of @Podder. Then
"Add Feed" button. @Podder
will check that the feed is valid
and live and add the feed to the list below.
Introduction, Podcast Recommendations
for Visually Impaired Podcast Listeners
MD Support has an audio
description and loads of information on the family of eye problems
related to macular degeneration. There's a mailing for ."macular
degenerates" of all ages. Check out the original research article by
MDSupport Director Dan Roberts on "Artificial Lighting and the Blue
Light Hazard". New (June 19, "Learning
to Live with Low Vision: A rehabilitation journey")
From Here" Eye
Science for the
a weekly (very) technical update on procedures
available for treating eye diseases. Learn how medical researchers
evaluate effectiveness of remedies. (Update, June 19, new site http://www.asseenfromhere.com/).
this week's (May 25, 2005) Tech Nation, Dr. Moira Gunn
speaks with Dr. Susan
Krieger, a sociologist and writer
teaches in the Program in
Feminist Studies at Stanford University. She explains how the loss of
her eyesight as an adult has guided her to new inner dimensions. Susan
is the author of "Things No Longer
There - A memoir of Losing Sight and
Finding Vision." Dr.
Krieger's book publisher sets a
by offering a digital version for reading from your computer.
Geeks and PodFathers do worry about
podcasting for visually impaired.
Curry uses words some may not like and The Geek may be more geeky than
most can handle.
Curry's Daily Source
Code (circa April 26, 2005).
asked podcast tool producers to address needs of the visually
impaired. Curry blends geek-speak and entertainment like a radio and VJ
(which he is).
- "The Geek" (Todd Cochrane)podcasting from Hawaii at Geek News Central,
advises podcasters and bloggers to expand
their audiences by being more inclusive of visually impaired readers
and listeners. He sprinkles his podcasts with useful
computing and software tips
Favorites, unique and interesting podcasts (not restricted to vision)
- Susan Smith Nash, the eLearning
Queen, talks softly and authoritatively about techniques of distance learning, everything from
military applications to Shakespeare.
Why is this podcast called "As Your World
- Who knows why, but this Los Angeles "stay at home dad", Dan Klass, an
actor/comic, is addictive as "The Bitterest Pill".
I entitled this
podcast "As Your World
Changes" first to capture the fun and excitement and openness we're
enjoying about podcasting.
But "As Your World Changes" should also evoke the richness and
appreciation that grows in our inner world as our eyesight changes our
relationships with our external world -- the people, places,
things, and activities that weave into new patterns for seeing and
send news and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted at http://www.apodder.org/community
Prepared by Susan
L. Gerhart, January 19, 2006