Technology: How to Make An Accessible Convention Schedule

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds traveling the vast universe! I am back with something completely different!

Creating a Simple and Accessible Convention Schedule!

As a blind person myself, it’s sometimes hard to read a convention guide with or without the accessible apps. Ever since last year, I have been creating my own Convention Schedules through using Google Sheets which makes it easier on myself, even if we have a press pass or not. I did have the Word Document version of the NFB Convention Schedule but wishing I had done that spreadsheet because it was a little tedious going through all the different pages in the entire guide. If I were to go to future NFB related events I will definitely do that. I bet you’re wondering, how am I able to get access to that document? Well, with the technology we have today there are different apps we can use in order to read documents and of course with how Apple has the Files app in order to access the Pages and Numbers apps to read things alongside Google having Drive and I did review the Polaris and how Drive can be used. So, here is how I make my Convention Schedule:

What You Need: Either a Tablet or a PC in order to access a spreadsheet program and either One Drive, Drop Box, Google Drive, and other File Sharing apps. If you have one, a Braille Device with Android Tech or you can just save it to a Thumb Drive.

1. Look at the convention schedule for the one you’re going to. Conventions tend to have a short list of events and then add onto it, which to keep the document ready in order to access again to add onto it.
2. Next, on whatever spreadsheet app or program, at the top of the columns, title them “Day,” “Panel Room,” “Time,” “Panel/Event Name” or what name you want it to be. You can also do a Notes column where you can write in what you want to have your friends do if they are on your press team or if you don’t have a press pass but want video for a YouTube Channel you like to put your convention videos on, you can also mention video or pictures. Also, if it’s a meet up, just mention that.
3. Next, this will get a little technical and that is merging cells to create blocks. This will help separate the days from each other, even the panel rooms where each event would be and their times. Such as this event will take place on Friday, in the same room as another but at a different time. So, in the Day Column from the day you type in do a Shift+Down Arrow and count each cell you may need to add the events, like if you want to go to four events end it at that by going home or heading back to your hotel room for the rest of the day which you would count three cells from Friday and it would select those blocks as you go. Next, there are times where certain apps give you the Alignment Box which gives you the options that gives options on how you want your text and cells be formatted. If you’re using Excel on a computer, you use the Applications Key and then up arrow to “Format Cells” and it will give you a box with tabs, which you can switch with either using Ctrl+Tab but now you can easily use Ctrl+Page Up or Down and just do that until you hear Alignment.
A. In order to get to the Merge Cells option in the Alignment area is by swiping on your device until you hear “Merge Cells” and sometimes depending on the device it will say, “Off” so double tap and it will turn on. Once you go back to the cells in your spreadsheet by either swiping or using a keyboard if you have one, it will say, “A2 to A4” Merged Cells!”
B. With Excel on a computer, once in the Alignment, you tab over to “Merge Cells” and hit the enter key on that option. And it will say the same message as if it was done on your tablet.
4. Once you have all of the events you want and added into the spreadsheet for the entire weekend, there are many things you can do with it:
A. For the Braille Device user, for the Polaris since I use that, best way of being able to view this document is by a PDF. First, go into Docs on your Polaris and go to the apps area and you can either access Docs or Drive and whatever account it’s saved under make sure you’re on that account. Next, either first letter navigate or tab, F3, to go to the spreadsheet it’s titled as and then use one of the scroll keys to go down and hear “More Options for this File.” Hit enter or Dot eight and then tab to where it says, “Send a Copy.” This will give you the option to save as a PDF, hit Enter once you tab over to it and tab over to the OK button and it will give you the options of apps to send to or save to and I choose Drive where once it’s entered on that, it will give you the OK button to send it over. Once that’s done. Go to Drive and it will give you all your documents you have saved through the different Google apps, find that file you saved as a PDF and once you tab to More Options, hit Enter again and then tab down to Download. And it will download to the Downloads folder in the File Manager. When you open that file from Downloads, all your information you have entered will be there. You can also save it as an Excel format, if you haven’t used Excel Viewer which I had to look up, there are commands to use in order to view your information. I find the PDF view easier since all my information is aligned.
B. For anyone who doesn’t have the Android specs, you can save the information to a thumb drive and save the file to your device by cutting or copying the file to your clipboard and paste it into your documents folder and open it from there to view it. If your device has the Excel Viewer like mine, I think the U2 had it f I remembered, you can find the navigation keys in the Help Menu.
C. If you have Numbers, even though it has changed with IOS 12, or have Sheets as well, you can use the Bluetooth capabilities with your Apple device in order to navigate a spreadsheet if it’s saved as one or copy down the schedule into the Pages app as an easier alternative to using a spreadsheet app. And of course with I Cloud on your device, you can save the many spreadsheets as different formats and send it to Drive if you prefer it that way and download it from Drive on your Polaris, you an also do it that way.
Well, that is it for this post. I know it was really technical in a way and tried to make it as simple as I could. The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating this schedule, whether it’s through using Excel on your computer and saving it to a thumb drive or just doing it through Google or Apple, you can create something that can help you get to your events during a big weekend. I will be using this idea with Ranger Stop this weekend and will give you an update in the Convention Spotlight in how it worked. I will take a look into what happened with Numbers and may make a post about that since I noticed some changes since IOS 12 has released. Stay tuned for that and anything else! Until then, stay beautiful while traveling the universe!

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