Conventions: National Federation of the Blind National Convention 2018 Review!

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds traveling the vast universe, I am back from a nice rest because I was at the NFB National Convention last week and man it was a huge experience and a new environment since I never thought I would be at a convention minus the costumes that I am usually familiar with but I was in my element since I’m visually impaired myself. Let’s see what I have to say about this event. But first as always…

Disclaimer: This review is based on thoughts and opinions of the lead writer of this blog! Please Respect the thoughts and opinions since this based on the experience they went through.

Location: First is the location and that is at the Rosen Shingle Creek and man this place was bigger than the Rosen Center itself despite that one was also connected to the Convention Center downtown on International Drive. If you remembered when Gondras and I covered Omni Fandom Expo 2015 it was at the Rosen Center and you had the events on the bottom floor and top floor while Rosen Shingle Creek felt like it was like the World Center in my observation because a ton of ballrooms to work with, plus you have more panel rooms upstairs to use right above the lower lobby and then more escalators leading to more board rooms and a printing store, oh yes you can print stuff if you need it which I had to with my resume for the Job Fair, which I will get to a bit later. Plus you do have the food court which is a little pricey, I did have my snacks but I needed a caffeine recharge since their coffee shop was reasonably priced, even more reasonable than Starbucks. I would say the white chocolate lattes are great. Anyways, this place should be an anime convention place too because conventions do out grow their location, heck Holiday Matsuri is a good example of that, since there are tons of rooms to play with and even the main ballroom in the Sebastian areas were huge for General Sessions and held all of the State Affiliates of the NFB. Even the Independence Market and Exhibitors Hall was very well sized for what they were displaying and selling, which I will got to…

Exhibitors and Independence Market: Now! This room was pretty much where my money went because I found stuff I needed and found very well. I know it’s weird calling it Independence Market but it’s due to vendors selling items to help us in the blind community to be more independent such as books, tech, and even Braille slates! I found a vendor who sold my favorite full page slate which I still have from EBay. The main thing I wanted was a new watch because my old taking one had the talking part die permanently. Let me describe it, it not only has the digital numbers but it does have its talking setting where you can set the time, the alarms, and now you change the voice on the talking models now from when I looked at them. I decided to change to Braille because the thing is as a convention and concert goer, especially with one concert coming up in August, it’s hard to hear these things over the noise and not only that they can go off if you set the hour alert and can be a bit disruptive. So, I went with Braille and it was kind of hard to set the time on this but I like how to touch the watch face and where the hour and minute hands point to at the dots. Which on the clock face you have the 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11 are single dots while the 3, 6, 9, and 12 have more of a wedge to touch while feeling the time. Plus it makes it better than just using my phone which I have done for the past year and a half to two years. Plus, this watch I paid for was not that bad because you have some going into the hundred dollar to two hundred range which I went with the $55 and a tip for women who love to grow their nails, go with the men’s model because the watch face is bigger and it’s easier to feel when you have long nails. I had long nails when I bought mine even though they broke during the entire week I was there and had to clip mine but getting the men’s version would be easier to feel since the women’s watch faces are smaller and the dots are too. Just letting you know. Besides buying different items for the independence part, I had to replace my battery for my Victor Reader Stream, for a while now I ran into the issue where I touched the battery and it shuts off and had to order a new one. I was glad that Human Ware was there to take care of that which they were promoting their Stream, the Stream Trek, and the Braille Note Touch. If you don’t know what the Braille Note Touch is, it’s basically where you take a Braille display and fuse with an Android tablet where you have the display and the keyboard on top of an Android tablet and you can also Braille on the tablet too. I almost went with this Polaris had my heart and yes HIMS was also there which I will talk about that with events next.

I did go to the State Affiliates area where in this area all the different NFB State Chapters were selling things to fund raise and you also get to talk to them one on one and get to meet who else is out there. I did buy some things and got to chat with Massachusetts since I was born in Boston and they were happy, I got to chat with Arizona since I will be starting at Northern Arizona in the fall and they are some of the nicest people, also even got a popcorn ball from Nebraska since they claim to have the best popcorn in the United States and they weren’t joking! I got a popcorn ball and they said it is soft and tastes like marshmallow and it does! If I go to Nebraska I must visit their popcorn shops and get more of these because normally around Halloween time when Brach’s does their popcorn balls they are hard cement! Not kidding. These from Nebraska, I highly recommend if you ever visit Nebraska or go to their State Conventions or even the NFB National. I also did get to meet Hawaii briefly because my brother was stationed there and they are also sweet too! I did have a bit of situation with charging banks from Alabama though. As you know, I had a Pikachu one from Think Geek which GameStop sold during Hurricane Irma time and somehow it did not like my Apple devices and wanted to get a better one since you know me and traveling especially with our convention travels and when I heard that chargers will be sold I went and asked about that on Day Three and found them at Alabama, the one that I was sold was not working right and even with the cords so I did exchange it and did lose the cords because they fell out of my bag somehow but the good news is the one that got exchanged works properly even with a new cord I got on EBay and got in the mail today. I can even recharge my Polaris with this thing with its own USB cord. But back to the story, even though I was sad, I decided to find New York since they also had one and they had two left and I was lucky to get theirs as well and that thing charged my Victor Reader Stream! So yes, I now have two charge banks and working because of Alabama and New York, which I must thank now and if I was out somewhere and one doesn’t work without any juice I do have a backup and also my friends can use since there are times where outlets aren’t always in close range even at a restaurant.

Another thing I did pick up which I was really excited about was from the National Braille Press! This is an organization that prints Braille books and sells them and not bad for pricing either and the books are for all ages because I felt a Dr. Seuss book while I was at their table. I got a book that I heard about through the Blind Side Podcast through an interview with the author Judy Dixon and it is called Writing Your Way: Composing and editing on an IPhone and IPad. This interview was very informative because it talks about the many ways you can edit on writing apps on your IPhone and IPad, I wonder about Android tablets since I do use my Polaris and Galaxy Tab E. I have to take a read myself and I was happy that they carried this at the convention and did buy it so I can have it and can use it as a teaching tool while working. I highly suggest National Braille Press in case if you need that specific Braille book for your loved ones or even as gifts for them because we don’t want to leave anyone in the dark without a good book! I may have to talk to them and see about getting my books in Braille, what about that?

Besides some of these companies, there were also Google showing off their tech which I want to get myself a Chrome Book since I got to test out Chrome Vox on them and of course wishing they had Google Play cards which I will talk about down in the Needs in Improvements area for one thing. Also, a new app has been developed for locations which is like Soundscape but more in detail called N Reach and I have become an affiliate with them by the way, which I need to get my cards out to businesses. (Tried to on Monday at the mall but couldn’t get the chance!) And one awesome exhibitor is 3D Photo Works who does tactile photos, Braille plaques, and audio descriptions for exhibits and they are trying to get into more museums, which reminds me I need to still talk to the Science Center because this would help any blind visitors be able to feel the photos that are displayed, read the plaques, and not only that hear any information because at their booth they talked about how they helped with the Vietnam Exhibit in Washington and had three pictures as examples. If you want these guys to do something a museum near you, I would suggest talking to the museum and have them get in contact with this company because a blind person like me can’t see the exhibits, the last exhibit I was able to see was the Tiffany Glass Exhibit here in town and I can imagine what if their exhibit had these plaques and this kind of tactile work on top of it. There is a lot to think about with this company.

Events: Woot! A lot to talk about here and I feel my fingers hurting slightly! I am still pumped! There were a lot of events to go to and so little time because a lot of them took place at the same time and a good tip is choose wisely while reading the agenda in its final form. Which the good thing was you can download and store it for your pleasure. I downloaded, nice tip for everyone with a Braille device, the Word document and transferred it over onto my Braille Sense Polaris so I can feel it if I need to. I should do that with all of the convention guidebooks or if I get KNFB Reader I can take pictures of it too.

Day 1 was more seminar day where you can meet some of the companies that will be there in the Exhibitors Hall and of course in the morning there was also parent meetings for any blind parent or parents with blind children to discuss tips and advice and many other things even talking about the day care services that were going to be on site. I went to the HIMS Seminar since I do have my Polaris and of course discussed some issues with the typing in Word Processor where I and other people experienced where the cursor moved time to time. This was annoying while taking notes on the JAWS Certification materials. Also some issues with navigating the Google Suite editing areas. Hoping that can be fixed even with the next updates.

The next few days were filled with General Sessions where the president, Mark Rickabono, talked about many things that the NFB has been working on to improve our lives as blind people, heck even his speech almost put me in tears because I faced so much back in school, I still remember how I was taken out of my Exceptional Education Minor to be in my Writing Minor because I was told how I can’t make it through Grad School because it would be too hard for me, heck I am going now! I didn’t stay for resolutions on Saturday, well the end of it, because it was going to be a long ways through it and I felt that I was falling asleep, heck I fainted a bit after Friday’s session let out. It’s due to exhaustion since I did commute with paratransit and had to be there in time for the first General Session. And of course, we did find out where next year NFB Convention is was going to be for National and that is in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino! Knowing Nevada is happy about that! Hoping I can save enough to go out there or get a Master’s to try for the NFB National Scholarship again which this convention did inspire me to look into more schooling if I can because what if I want to continue with my education? Let’s see what’s happens!

More things took place, heck I even volunteered at the Braille Book Fair which takes place during the convention where kids and their parents can look through many Braille books and take them and have them sent home to where they live via UPS. I felt really good volunteering at this because I love reading even if it is in Braille and having that experience to help out did help me have the one on one with kids and their parents, I even gave tips to a woman who had a girl who went through a stroke and needed tips on getting her dexterity back. Plus it gave me leverage before I start teaching blind people again and I felt more of my confidence again as I helped. And to tell you the truth, I missed volunteering for things like these since it gives me experience and a bigger heart as I help.

Let’s see what else happened! Oh right! Friday night, Gondras met up with me and besides meeting up with me we had an amazing experience and that was…: drum roll: we got to interview Apl D Ap from the Black Eyed Peas! :: hears fans screaming:: I wanted to interview him since an interesting fact is that he’s visually impaired and was performing this year and this was a great opportunity to get someone who has been in the music business who is also blind in on the YouTube side of this blog since it’s a nice change from our voice actors we get to interview and we get to learn more about him. Just hold on and follow us on Twitter @ Nerdy Shique when we upload the video from this interview along with more information about his own charity, Apple of My Eye, hoping I spelled that right, and so much more! And other people I got to meet were the developers of the Be My Eyes app which as you may have seen my Assistive Tech Panel from Omni 2017 where I demonstrated this app, will I have a future interview with them? I will be in the works of setting that up to do it over Skype since they are from Denmark which made it interesting even with one of them having my eye condition on top of it. I did demonstrate it on my Polaris and it works as much as the Apple version. I did Tweet them about it too. And finally, I got to go to Google’s presentation on their tech because I wanted to see what’s new in their development in Accessibility even with Android. Again, I want a Chrome Book after this presentation because I want to be open minded in the tech and they are also developing an app that is like Seeing A. I. almost and maybe I should write about that one as well if I can test it on my tablet or on my Polaris so stay tuned for that! I didn’t go to Microsoft’s presentation because I had so much to do in between and Google did their presentation at the same time, but Microsoft did a repeat and I only got to their Narrator portion. I did hear how their presentation focused more on the Narrator side rather than Soundscape and Seeing A. I. which I heard that demo for Seeing A. I. was not as great. Okay Microsoft, you do awesome presentations at E3, what’s going on? If I was there and demonstrating Seeing A. I., I would do all of the channels on it because it is critical to show off each one even with currency. And of course, if you guys were at that presentation, I would say go to my posts about Soundscape where I tested it in two malls so far and I did test it out in Shingle Creek which it did detect the area I was in. And finally, my finishing event, I did go to the job fair but briefly since I did have to catch my ride. It was loud! But at least I got to talk to the NFB and the New Jersey Coalition for the Blind about the Access Tech positions on top of it and did find Lighthouse Central Florida since they were also looking for people. It felt great to re-connect with them and give them updates.

Rating: CONVENTION ACCOMPLISHED! This convention deserves a Convention Accomplished because it kind of makes me connect more with my blind peers in one place. Even though I missed the costume parts but this was a different environment and a new aspect of conventions. This brings a huge community together and get to know each other, what is going on with us in one huge organization, not only that make us think that we’re not the only one being blind even in our own state. I got to meet people from Nebraska, Arizona, Hawaii, heck there was Puerto Rico as one of the NFB Affiliates! Wishing I caught one of the members but hey I cheered for them along with Arizona and Massachusetts. Plus, I found out that I am not the only blind cosplayer that exists because one of the National Scholarship Finalists was one too! She makes her own stuff and I got to meet her which was awesome! I want to suggest that the NFB should have a Geeky Division because we are blind geeks/nerds. That is why there is nerd in this blog’s name. Still, this convention was very inspiring and I hope to go to more of them even if they end up in Georgia, Massachusetts, even in Louisiana if Gondras and I get to travel that far.

Needs for Improvements: Well, not all conventions are perfect so there are some needs for improvement.

Microsoft Demo All Aspects Of Accessible Products: What I mean by this is that I heard that not all of the aspects of seeing A. I. was not tested and well that got me thinking why aren’t demonstrating all the aspects of products. I did notice that Narrator was tested in all aspects and knowing they want to show that it’s a free screen reader but to me Microsoft has way more stuff to it and that it can be demonstrated more from what I heard.
Repeat the Demonstrations throughout the Week: What I mean by this is that I noticed that according to the agenda that Microsoft was the only one who got a repeat because not everyone can go to every demonstration in the agenda. I think this would benefit anyone who couldn’t make it to the Google one and can go to the second showing since one day they were at the same time as Microsoft and that would be nice if it was vice versa for anyone who wanted to see Google but didn’t get to. Repeating the brand demonstrations can help with the overload and can give more options to people in what to do after the General Sessions are done. Plus, it gives the person what they missed a new opportunity to catch it later if they have something else to go to or needs to eat.
Time Slots Should Be More Organized: What I mean is that there were times where some things ran over during General Sessions or that when I get to an area that the time changed and etc. I know the final agenda is published way in advanced but they should at least confirm some of the time slots to be accurate and edit the agenda before the convention probably two weeks before because I noticed that some things ran over or an example I was supposed to volunteer at 1 in the afternoon for the Braille Book Fair but I had to go back at 3:45 for the actual event. I think it would be easier to either edit the agenda to fit the time slots or during the presentations, like Google did, set a timer for each speaker because some of them ran over and doing the timer thing can help out a little. If you have to be up on the stage for fifteen minutes then set that timer and not only that, if you know your event starts late then send a group email to the newsletter since some people do check their emails during the day whether it’s on the Polaris, Braille Note Touch, or on their phone they can read it and say, “Oh! It got pushed back! Gotcha!” I understand so many events so little time but starting on time makes more sense.
More Volunteers to Guide: What I mean is that I feel like there were volunteers to tell you where the escalators, stairs, and ballrooms were but there should’ve been more and they should’ve also given more details in where to go like this ballroom to your left or right and probably have some volunteers to able to say, “Hey, need some help! Grab on and I will lead you!” Heck, even for bathrooms because there were some bathrooms where there was single room and so many people were trying to get into them and it was hard to tell Women and Men from that one particular bathroom, would be nice to have someone standing and say, “Women’s Bathroom over here!” and vice versa since it was hard getting around when there were people with canes and dogs in one area. And also, didn’t know that I couldn’t sit in one part where it was to the side that was counted as foot traffic areas, should be nice to have volunteers warning us about that too because there was no mention of that as rules anywhere even if you were to the side or at least have volunteers asking, “Hey, do you need a seat? There are free seats over here.” Just saying!
Making Registration Easier to Navigate: I bring this idea up because while walking round the Registration Area we didn’t know where to go or how the lines were split. I heard there were ropes before, where were they? That would be easy or I gave this as an idea and that is Lego Tape on the ground. Oh yes, there is tape made with Legos that you can use to stick and build upon one on top of the other, it would help with the shoreline bit with getting around the Registration area instead of bumping into the ropes which I did before and it was not pleasant, it happened one year at an anime con by the way. People were surprised that it exists because Assistive Tech FAQS mentioned this as a way of building an ergonomic platform for a keyboard. NFB you should try it out for making shorelines for this area or even the Exhibitor’s Hall and the General Session and Presentation Rooms to help with finding exits and chairs.
Making Signs For Tourists: Another thing I have noticed is that a few stray tourists were hanging around the convention area that weren’t a part of the convention which I have asked directions. They didn’t know what I was talking about and realized that they weren’t there for the convention just sitting around. I understand that some tourists like to sit around but there are other areas for them to be in that is not the convention floor, as in they can be the food court area, the pool, and there was another side to the hotel, which this brings me to my last point and that is there should be signs for any stray wonderers telling them that a blind convention is being held in this hotel, like one sign would say, “Welcome to all tourists! There is a blindness convention this way! Try to help our patrons.” Because there are times where not all tourists know what event they are witnessing and not there for it, trust me I’ve seen it with anime conventions where people stayed at the hotel for theme parks and family but hang around the area which can be confusing even for a blind person. And the helping part, the tourist may be able to help if they had amap of the event to guide if need be for instance if someone had the map and I asked where registration was and they can say, “Oh, I have a map here that someone gave me, follow me.” It can make things a little easier since we can get lost and not everyone would know that they are in an area where people may need help in.

Well, I think that’s good enough here because I think I talked about so much when it came to this convention already. I think I smell smoke from my fingers. This convention was fun and sad to hear that it won’t be in Orlando for a while but hey at least people can travel to someplace they never been before. I hope to go to Vegas but if not you guys in Vegas and other parts of the country who are blind or knows someone who is blind to check it out and also be a member of the NFB because they believe in living the life you want since blindness doesn’t define you as a person. I want to thank the NFB of Florida for giving me the Dr. Jernagand Scholarship so I can be a part of this convention by attending it and getting to interview Apl D Ap and not only that getting to give my services to the Braille Book Fair. So, this hoping for the future especially with me since there are more things to explore and do for this blog and the YouTube Channel. So make sure you follow us on Twitter! Until next time!

Advertisements

Accessibility In Gaming Part 2: What d Do I Want to See In This?

Hello my beautiful nerds traveling throughout the vast universe! I’m back with a new post and this time it’s a continuation of a past post I’ve done!

Accessibility in Gaming Part 2: What I Want To See in Gaming With This?

Stellarnan gave me this idea since she brought an article about a new controller Microsoft had developed for their XBOX for anyone with hand issues to play one handed. This is a step in the right direction since it has popped up and now Microsoft has been working on a lot of things in the Accessibility Department. I even participated in the NFB’s webinar with Narrator recently and can see improvements. Not only that, don’t forget Seeing AI and Soundscape made for IOS.

  1. ind that should be included1. Nintendo Get More Into Accessibility! As you know, I play a lot of pokemon and it’s not easy playing without any assistance. I did use Seeing A.i. with the Short Text setting to read things on the screen and it was great but it would be tedious holding it up all the time even with a tripod. I did mention this and that Nintendo needs to get into the accessibility game more even though they did start with the contrast adjustment settinngs on the Switch. A little fact, according to the episode I listened to the episode by Assistive Tech Update that Nintendo is behind in accessibility due to Microsoft taking the top sot with Sony right behind because of one setting which I will talk about next. Yes, it is nice that they started with the contrast adjustments but not everyone can see that because not everyone has the same eye condition so that brings me to the next point.

  2. More Screen Reading Support! I menttioned Sony because they only have the Text to Speech engine working on their home screen at the moment. Even Gondras demonstrated this when he first got his Playstation 4 this year and we were disappointed that only went far to work on the home screen area which makes us sad and me even more because I have not gottten my paws on Playstation controllers for a long time, well I did have to navigate through the Rock Band 4 song list to find one song I wan sing and that was last year. Anyways, it would be nice that screen reading software be included or as an app to downloaded. I did mention above that not everyone has the same kind of eye cndition to use contrast adjustments with colors, you need low vision for that while total blindness or low vision to the point of not seeing anything requres screen reading. Reason being is because we ccan follow along with the story better to have it read to us, the tutorial screens read to understand what the button combos are and how not to get killed in something ike Final Fantasy XII or even Kingdom Hearts to name a few. And speaking of Final Fantasy, having the emnu options being read out along with who is up next because it would be hard to see that little arrow icon over each character when it is their turn. Okus, give it he Soundscape treatment by telling where an item is like in Pokemon and what building is ahead and nearby because a character does have to buy their supplies to go on and continue their adventure so more screen reading support and even navigation can help someone with lower vision get through a game more easily.

  3. Braille Support On Braille Displays! I know it seems weird but hear me out! Braille has come a long way and it has improved in the tech dpartment and we are having complete Braille tablets being made! Not kidding! Anyways, Braille Note Takers today have Android tech built into them which not only we have the usual built in apps but also Google Play to get the apps we get on our tablets to be installed se. Oh yeah that will be handy when I start my certificate program. What is also great is that they have Bluetooth and Wireless settings and also a USB cable to plug into a computer to use in order to read. So, having a way of using a Braille Display while playing a game would be awesome to use if the screen reading support is not there or still being worked on. Yes, there may be plug-ins needed but it is easy to add onto a device or just have Bluetooth pair with each system like how it does with IPhones with my Braille Sense Polaris. With this ablity, it can read menus, the subtitle boxes when characters speak so you can feel while pushing X or the A button while hearing the story, and even read the tutorials and any notes from that tutorial. Wishing I had that during the PS2 days while playing the original .hack games since it was a lot of text along with dialogue.

  4. Developers and Gamers Should Talk! As in the disabled community, even blind, and the developers should have discussion about these issues. Trust me I have been emailing Nintendo about the screen reading and it will take forever. WHile game developers, on the other hand, seem to be more open. Steve Saylor, the Glind Gamer on YouTube, even is working on that too from his review of the accessible version of God of War where they added some accessible points to the game. In order to improve on games themselves, developers d listen and hear their fans out well most developers, still it shows that they are open to the subject of making their games not only great for their existing audience but new ones as well and that will help with inclusion of new audiences.

Developers Should Speak to Well Known Acccessibility Companies! This is another big point I want to touch upon besides the one above because it can help expand on making games accessible and that is the developers of the systems, technology, and even games should talk with the developers of Narrator, in order to make it inclusive to the screen reading for XBox, JAWS, and even NVDA, and even the devices I have mentioned above in getting ways of how to make their games and systems work with this kind of technology. Without the having talks with each other, it would make it harder to know what to do or how to do it when it comes to making something more accessible to a new market. As in how to make a title be read out by Narrator or how it will look on a Canute 360 for example, having these discussions will take as far as new games come out and new people w

ant to play. Who knows, maybe we will hear UVSoft thanking Freedom Scientific one day for helping them having a screen reader read out Beyond Good & Evil 2 someday on an E3 stage.

So guys, that is it for this post! I know it was a lot to talk about because I have been using Assistive Tech for eight years now and about to go into it for work and school as my career field it would be awesome that the tech we use could expand into video games since I do not want to give up on finishing any of the games I have been playing and I am also planning to get a Switch due to 2019 will be announcin another generation of Pokemon to be made. I would ove to have my Polaris at my side telling me if my Dragonite wants to learn a new move and I need to remove one to make room for it.

So, what is nextt for Nerdy Shique Universe? Well, I need to talk about an affiliate program I just joined because I have been hearing warnings about companies scamming people over Instagram and wanted to talk about it since I just received my product and they were one of the ones mentioned. So stay tuned for that and follow us on Twitter @ Nerdy Shique for all of the latest updates! Oh right, also gotta do a Faves post! Until next time!

Conventions: 78th Annual National Federation of the Blind National Convention in Orlando, FL!

Hello all my beautiful nerds traveling this vast universe! It is time for a new Conventon Spotlight!

COnvention: National Federation of the Blind 78th Annual National Convention in Orlando, FL

Dates: July 3rd to 8th, 2018

Location: Rosen Shingle Creek

So, the New Convention Alarm buzzed udring my interview post time and it is different from the ones I have talked about on here and that is the 78th Annual National Convention for the National Federation of the Blind.

  • As you know and have remembered, I was diagnosed with a rare form of Retinitis Pigmentosa and despite my blindness I was able to get around the obstacles over the years until I lost my eye sight in 2008, well central actually, but have still loved anime, video games even if it means Pokemon, and many other things over time. Heck, designed my own cosplays and have written books. I did not join the NFB Central Florida Chapter until…wait I bet you are wondering, what is the NFB exactly?

About the National Federation of the Blind This organization was founded in in the 1940s and belived that despite our own blindess we can be able to follow our dreams and find hope after sight loss. The NFB shows also helps other blind people in their community find help and information about services that are out there in their own community. Even work with other blind people change the misconceptions that they face when it comes to being blind and change laws and policies that affect the blind, and meet other blind people that have similar interests and hobbies. There is a lot to look at this group since it is so vast and there are many chapters around us in the United States, especially here in Orlando which I am a part of the Central Florida Chapter.

I will tell you that after graduating college, I was depressed, as in leaving school, having degrees that were hard for me to get a job in yuntil being at a support group one Monday afternoon, someone invited us to meet at the NFB Chapter Meeting one Saturday and this was in 2015. I went and was surprised how small it was at first but got to meet so many people who were blind or legally blind like me. I started to attend more meetings even when I returned from Daytona with my work experience and was a member and also one of the ones in charge of fundraising. Remember how I did press at MegaCon a year ago? Well, I think I mentioned that NFB was having their State Convention downtown in Orlando while representing the blind community doing freelance press. What about National? Let us get to that!

Location: Like my many convention goings, this one is at a hotel and it is at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort on Unversal Blvd. There were some years where it was at the Rosen Center which is across the street from one of the Convention Center buildings and connected to it, this year it is at Shingle Creek. Unfortunately rooms are sold out since this is the last year it will be in Orlando for a while. I know, I am sad about that too. If you want a room, you will be sent to the Rosen Center which is not too far away and they do have shuttles traveling between the two all week. I believe room rates are $90 and up depending on the room you get, plus a $100 deposit is needed. I hear this place is a nice hotel and cannot wait to see what it is like. Also, anyone taking paratransit, make sure you tell your drivers even Ubers and Meers, drop you off at the front, even tell dispatch that and pick you up at the front for Access Lynx because that is the best drop off and pick up point to be found. It is not great being stranded, heck almost happened to me at Omni Year 1!

What to Expect? There is a lot going on throughout the entire week! Let see, there is a job fair for anyone who needs help in job placement, a lot of exhibitors such as Google, H. I.M. S., Guide Dog groups for anyone has their four legged companions, even other things like a Braille Book Fair which I will be voluunteering at, and workshops. The ones I am very excited about are anything that deals with Assistive Tech because this is a dream for someone like me, heck I will be at the Google Workshops on that Tuesday to see about getting my skills down on the Braille Sense versions of their apps. If anyone wants to take a look at Braille Note Takers and do not know which one to choose between the Braille Sense Polaris and Braille Note Touch, both H. I. M. S. and Humanware will be there in case if you want to know about their gadgets!

Besides workshops on tech, there will also be workshops with yoga, dancing, even one on line dancing which is interesting so anyone can have a good time and want to get back into dancing, even in salsa dancing. THere is also karaoke during the week, trivia, and the Welcome Event which not only all the different chapters will meet but a performance from Apl D Ap will take place. For any Black Eyed Peas fans, here is an interesting fact, he is also visually impaired and awesome that he will be making an appearance at the NFB National Convention to perform. There is a lot of things to do and do not forget aboyut the banquet on the final day where the National Scholarship Winners will receive their scholarships and Mr. Mark Rickabono will be speaking.

Do not worry, I will be doing a Convention Impossible after this event because it is my real first time going since I did receive a Convention Scholarship to attend and I am glad since I never been to a full on convention and it is the last year in town for a while which e rumors about where it will be next, I will have the official location when it gets announced here or on the Nerdy Shique Universe Twitter, @ Nerdy Shique for any of my Blind Nerds reading this on the computer or tablet at home.

Anything Else For The NeKnow? Yes, definitely check out the NFB at www.nfb.org and see what they are doing for the blind comunity. If you also know someone that is legally blind or totally blind, also let them know about this organization and what it does. Without it I would not be able to pursue my dreams to be an Assistive Tech Specialist and starting in the fall at Northern Arizona, you guys can do it too! If you are a parent of a blind child or a blind parent about to have children, there are resources for yoyou too, the only way is by looking at the website and see what they have andjoin a chapter if you can. Or even the Newsletter Mailing list or even a Division. No matter what you are going through you are not alone in the universe there are others just like you. And new sighted supporters can join as a way to support their blind companions or family members because we wnat to include you in our NFB Family! So, check out the website and in case if you are at the Rosen Shingle Creek, check out the convention and what is out there for us as a community.

So, that is about it! www.nfb.org is your wbsite to see for the convention and what other services are avilable for the blind and of course the entire agenda is there too in PDF, Braille, and a Word Document because it shows what you all may want to see and do during the week. You can also get the physical agenda on site if need to. I am really excited about the tech stuff andd what I will learn what is to come for my job, even excited to help with the Braille Book Fair since I do love reading in it. And so much more that it will take a lot to talk about so wait until the Convention Spotliht comes along that is when I will reflect on it. So, make sure you follow us on Twitter @ Nerdy Shique for updates and next time I will be ding a post about what I want to see with Accessibility in gaming. Why? Well, E3 did pass and my best buddy, Stellarnan, did send me the link to the new XBox Controller article and Assistive Tech Update even talked about it due to doing an episode talking with someone about this topic, why not do a post on my tjouhts in what I want to see, so until next time! Stay beautiful my nerds!:

Accessibility: Using Soundscape in Miami!

Hello Shiquers and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe! I’m back with another post!

Using Soundscape in Miami!

As you know, I’ve been using an app from Microsoft known as Soundscape. It’s a very good app to have if you’re visually impaired and have a hard time traveling around your area or in town even in the car, this is one you should have. I have had two people download it to take a try since our paratransit in town tends to take most of us all over the place, if if you remembered my story about my reason for getting this app is due to being on the van for two hours and it does come in handy after I downloaded so I can see if I’m on the way to my destination or not and same with heading home.

One good thing is to have this app in a crowded town and Miami is the perfect town to use it in. As you know, this city is almost what if you duplicated New York and made it slightly bigger by making it start near Dade County and go towards the tippy tip of the peninsula that is Miami! You have two parts to it and that’s North Miami and South Miami which that is why you see FIU, Florida International University, buses going from one part of town to the next. I’m not kidding, saw it before! Also, I knew people from Miami at the Rehab Center since this town is known for Bascom Palmer, which is where I was on Tuesday. Reason why I say that this town is perfect for this app is because it tells you EVERYTHING around you. I know it’s supposed to do that but I noticed here in Casselberry, even Altamonte, and Downtown that Soundscape doesn’t always pick up on everything like it’s supposed to since we do have some more independent businesses either opening or closing and also it doesn’t pick up on every store you pass by like a Hot Topic for instance which is weird in my book, it didn’t even catch on Journey’s when I was at the Altamonte Mall but it did pick up Foot Locker. While in Miami, on the other hand, it did pick up on every building on the block and it told you where it was. For instance, when my dad and I entered Miami after having breakfast in Jupiter Inlet we missed where we had to go and I decided to bring out my phone and opened Soundscape and it found all of the hospitals in the area even some of the rehab centers and of course it knew that we were in the Bascom Palmer parking lot and gave us the compass directions we were facing. I liked it here a lot more since it does detect where you are a lot better due to people can get lost easily in a town like this. I think the reason why it didn’t detect that many things in my area is due to how much spaced out things can be rather than being so close. I remembered using it briefly in Waterford and it only detected Regal Cinemas since we were seeing Solo with friends recently and it did pick up on Five Guys which was a little walking distance away. I think it detected other places but those were the only two it found.

There is one thing I would point out is that sometimes it’s not the best for actual GPS tracking because my dad was trying to ask about where to turn sometimes. I had to exit out of it to use the Maps app in order to find El Ray De Las Freitas which you can read my review before this one. Even though Soundscape is great for finding landmarks, I think that’s the best way to use it for even though it did say all the different roads we’re on and what direction we’re in but best to use Maps instead to find a particular address rather than relying on Soundscape to try and find where you’re going. I did find it interesting how Miami had churches on almost every block, including a Ukrainian one. It did point out the different schools, police stations in case if you want to move there for safe areas, and so on.

So, that’s my short experience about using Soundscape in Miami since it is very handy to use but if you’re looking for a specific address Maps and other GPS apps for addresses are better to use since it won’t give you the direction to turn in especially in a place you’re not familiar with since we rarely go to Miami unless it’s for my eye appointments. Plus best for Maps to find the location since there were so many number streets in town which you can be confused in where or what to turn onto.

So, that’s it! What’s next for Nerdy Shique Universe? Well, have a Convention Spotlight on the National Federation of the Blind National Convention which is coming up in July! Stay tuned!

Accessibility: Using Soundscape At Millennia Mall!

Hello Shiquers and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe! Today is another Accessibility Review!

Using Soundscape in Mall at Millennia!

As you know, I have been using the Soundscape app developed by Microsoft on my phone. It’s a GPS location app where you can know where you are, what’s around you, and what’s ahead of you. You can also place a beacon on a place to help you find it if you need to catch your ride on time.

I already have used this app while going to Walgreens near me and the Altamonte Mall to see if it works in an indoor place and it does. I did tell the guy who introduced me to my very beautiful Braille Sense Polaris about that tidbit because he has a friend who wondered about that and that answered their question to see if it could work in a mall. So, I wanted to try this app at other malls in town and decided to try it out in the Millennia Mall which is a huge tourist spot here in Orlando. Yes, some of the stores are upscale but some of my fave ones are here which include Lush, Bath & Body Works, MAC, GameStop, Apple, and NYX.
W
Hay I had to stop here is because I needed more of my Celestial Moisturizer from Lush since that is the only moisturizer that works on my sensitive skin besides coconut oil. I use this moisturizer before I put on my primer to put on makeup and it does make a difference since my skin has been improving thanks to this and other things. I also needed to go to NYX to get another Light Concealer Jar and wanted to get their translucent powder which I have heard good things about.

What Happened? Well…not much! As in, I felt like this mall was not a good environment for this app because whenever I walked around with my dad to get to the NYX store all I heard, “Heading in this direction Millennia Mall!” It didn’t point any of the stores out while leaving from the food court heading towards the NYX Store which was on the bottom floor. It didn’t point out Bath & Body Works either which over in Altamonte it was pointed out and I kind of figured out why nothing was pointed out except the Apple Store after passing by it. I could have seen on the other side to see if it would point out any of the stores, especially the really luxury ones like Versacci and Bloomingdale’s. I think the issue was…

Issues? It’s the noise in the mall and I’m talking about the really loud music you tend to hear throughout the mall. Ever since this mall has opened back in the early 2000s, which was my high school years by the way, there were these little TV screen panels hanging over the center of the mall which align with the Food Court on the top floor. You hear surround sound orchestra music and now they added more modern music to it. You also tend to hear the music from inside whatever store you were in. I still remembered the echo of it when I was inside Waldenbooks when it was in that mall when it first opened. (Trust me, I still miss it!) I think the music and the echo of it throughout the mall was not helping Soundscape be able to detect the stores inside but it did really detect Apple on the bottom floor which surprised me and even told me that I was in the parking lot when we got outside. Seriously? It did it over the roar of waterfalls outside, oh yeah this mall is upscale on the outside. I’m not bashing on either one but I think Soundscape needs an update soon in detecting more places and not only that, forgot to mention…

More to Improve! I feel like the app needs to improve on the area you’re in. I didn’t get to mention in this first review but whenever I’m in a store it keeps on mentioning its distance. For instance, standing in Barnes & Noble, it still says, “B&N 12 Meters!” It should just say along when you hit the “My Location” button, “You are in Barnes & Noble!!” Then proceeds to tell the places next door to that place rather than just making it sound you’re not there.

Another thing is is still the Meters to My Right Or Left which can help even more. I’m glad that this app works but Millennia is not the mall for this app, I can’t say they should take down that music display since that seems to be a favorite thing among the visitors. I would say just go without Soundscape and go with friends for sighted help or if you have it, AIRA with you because more blind people are getting those glasses nowadays. If you don’t have AIRA and still want that sighted support through your phone, Be My Eyes is another option.

Well, that’s my use of Soundscape in another mall! I’m stil wanting to put this app to the test at Florida Mall to see how well it can detect its maze of stores and see if it can detect the hotel part. That may have to wait since a lot of things are coming up the next few months! So, anything new? Not yet, just follow us on Twitter @ Nerdy Shique for our updates!

Hauls + Accessibility: Hot Cash April 2018 Haul and Microsoft Soundscape Review!

Hello Shiquers and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe! Well, here is a mash up I never thought I would do! You know I love shopping even at Hot Topic and tech and this is a mash of tech and a haul since I got my Hot Cash Haul for 2018 and tested out a new app while I’m at it! Let’s start with the haul shall we?

Hot Cash Haul April 2018!

So, Hot Cash has come and gone at Hot Topic and this time all thanks to some purchases in February I did get two of them and it was a hard thing to choose when knowing what to get in order to meet that amount you have to get a discount! I had #30 off this time around let’s see what I got!

Sailor Moon Sailor Guardian Symbols Earring Set! You all know that I have been a Sailor Moon fan for the longest time and and had a major nostalgia bomb when I watched the re-dub. When I saw these on the website, I knew I had to have them. They are earrings of the original five guardian symbols that you see in the series when they reveal themselves as Sailor Guardians. I was really happy about it due to the Jupiter symbol in there since Jupiter is my all-time fave scout or guardian! Sorry! I wished they made the earrings Sailor Moon and Mars wore, I always wanted those!
Spike Gem Earrings! I know it sounds crazy but these earrings are almost like icicles in a way but they’re plastic spikes. I kind of feel like Hot Topic is coming back with the spike items since I saw a choker with spikes with a ring in it like in the past which I almost got but decided not to. These earrings were interesting and never seen before. I have gotten the spiked hoops which were heavy but looked great and even worn them with my Digimon character but these are cool! I feel like I had my ears pierced with these but they are more of a stud style. Hot Topic! Make more earrings like these!
Loki Septor Necklace! You all know who know me, I love Tom Hiddleston’s Loki from the Marvel movies! I can’t help it because he does it so well! While looking for items for this haul, I was looking for items related to the Avengers due to Infinity War coming out today and found Loki’s septor as a necklace. I added it to my bag right away and was surprised that when I got it it was a horizontal charm necklace like my Panic! At the Disco one. I’m wearing this with my Fairy Tail emblem and Panic! Necklaces and it gives an interesting layer when you look at it. Oh yeah, next author pic, I’m wearing these three necklaces!
New Doctor Who Logo Shirt! I did get two t-shirts since there are times where my large tees don’t fit as well as they used to due to my shoulders and I’m pretty much plus sized at the moment. This shirt was something I’ve been wanting for a while and that is my new Doctor Who logo shirt. As we all know is that the new season is coming out this fall and with it there is a new logo and Hot Topic happened to have a shirt with it and released it around February but decided to wait a bit before I got it since I was getting Hot Cash. The wait was worth it since I got the $30 off my entire order. I’m happy that I finally got it and can’t wait for the newest season in the fall!
Avengers Infinity War Collage Tee! So, Infinity War is out and I thought it would be perfect to get a shirt for the newest movie and the good thing that Hot Topic had a ton of t-shirts to choose from based on Marvel. I got the one where all the characters are in a collage since in this movie we will be seeing a ton of characters appearing and can’t wait! In case anyone is wondering, yes I caught Sebastian Stand, Bucky Barnes, on The Talk yesterday and it was great watching him talk a little bit of the movie and the pics they took as one big cast. I can’t wait to see this movie and will be wearing my Thor Thunderbolts and Loki Septor!

Additional Items:

Exchanged Sailor Moon Cat Cup for Pushin Cat Bottle! Well, after this order, I did notice Hot Topic was doing a discount code but couldn’t use it with Hot Cash so I went for the Sailor Moon cats travel cup. I didn’t know it was going to be one of those cups you tend to get for a kid when I saw it in person or felt it. I thought it was going to be a sealed tumbler because when you hear “travel cups” you think to that or the mug version and was wrong. I had to exchange it for something better and it’s a water bottle with pushin cats! It may not be a tumbler but it also has cats! I love this thing even if it has the straw inside. The reason why I prefer sealed bottles or tumblers is because I tend to knock over my drinks and with it being sealed tight there would be no spills. I am glad that this one is the same way where you have tightly sealed and the straw comes up easily.

Avengers Infinity War Makeup Pallet and Too Many Dead Pools Shirt! Gondras brought me a coupon that Hot Topic had sent him and he knew I would put it to good use and I did! What got me to use it is that they advertised an eye shadow pallet based on the Infinity Stones from the Marvel movies and other shades in it. I was hoping they would have it in store but they sold out and had to go online. What else I picked up was a Dad Pool shirt since the last Dead Pool shirt I got for I was many years ago and it was of him with the cake and the portal behind him as a Portal joke. I got the one with Too Many Dead Pools. I almost got the one with him and Domino but this one was funnier and I prefer the funnier shirts with him, I mean Gondras has the one of him punching a shark that Nerdy Shirts got him. Now my shopping spree is over.

Soundscape!

Besides picking up my order, I did have a bit of a mobility test with myself and it’s with an app I’ve been using lately and it’s called Soundscape which is made by Microsoft and only available in the App Store on IOS devices. What got me to get this app is because of one situation with paratransit during my customer service training at the local Lighthouse. There are times where I get home early and other times I get home so late it’s unacceptable and this time it was really unacceptable because I live nearby the Lighthouse which is around thirty minutes or less but nope! They didn’t get me home until close to 8 at night! Even Gondras was on the phone with me when it happened and that is why he picked me up during the last weeks of training because it made him mad and concerned that they are doing this time to time. I understand that too since there are times where some people need priority drop offs.

What is this app? Well, it’s basically a location app that uses your Location Tracking to tell you were you are with the “My Location” button which tells you the direction you’re heading or what place you’re at, what’s around you with the “Around Me” button which tells you the businesses and intersections and streets around you if you’re walking or on the bus, what’s ahead of you with “Ahead of Me” which tells you what road and intersection or business is ahead. This app tells me what’s in the park next to my neighborhood in miles! Good thing is that I use it to see if I am heading home or not on the paratransit to see where the driver drove to. Gives you a better perspective. So, I decided to test this app out at Altamonte Mall which is where I was picking up my package and wanted to test it out in a semi-crowded mall. When I went today, I decided to have the transit system drop me off at Barnes & Noble to make it easier than picking a random department store. I decided why not use the Beacon Setting which now it added a feature where I can mute and unmute the beacon noise in order to hear the announcements and if I’m ready to come back. I did use the Beacons on Tuesday when I went to Walgreens with the paratransit after an appointment with Blind Services to look at my new Braille device that’s being purchased and happy about and set the Beacon Setting with Walgreens and went to lunch at the nearby pizza place and enjoyed two slices of pizza and walked back to Walgreens to wait for my ride. This time I used it with Barnes & Noble since that was going to be my pick up point at the end of the day and muted the noise because it can be a little distracting. I turned on the announcements and when I walk by places, which I walked around the top floor first to get a better feel and for Soundscape to catch everything so if I were to come back to a place I would know where to get back to. I did use my sensory training from Daytona Beach as well to hear any key sounds, notice some lights that are particularly bright, and any unique music coming from a particular store.

Even Life after Sight Loss did talk about this on their YouTube, which I also thank them for this app in the first place, and using that sensory recognition to know where is what can tell you a lot. One thing that tells Hot Topic apart is the metal that is usually played on the speakers, Bath & Body Works and now White Barn Candle have their usual scents wafting outside in the corridor, which you can smell a mile away, there’s a popcorn stand where you smell the butter and at least it’s a lot lighter than it used to be. All-in-all this app is really good but I wish not only Soundscape give the unit of measurement, either in yards or meters depending on the setting, but tells you if it’s on the left or right of you because when I walk I tend to not know if a certain store or aisle is on my left or right and without that it can be a little confusing. Microsoft if you read this, which I will be tagging them on Twitter, add that to the settings or have it automatic because it can help some people that need that added information.

Rating On The App: 4.5 Star Paw prints Out of 5! This app is a really good app and so far Microsoft has been hitting it on the ball with helping in the Accessibility department. They have added more support with JAWS even with Edge which I still need a new license key in order to play around with Edge. Their mobile apps are really good which I love using Seeing A. I. for doing product identification, color help, and even short text reading. While Soundscape, it does give you the locations and it did that for me in Altamonte very well. I want to try this app at Florida Mall since that mall is huge and crowded due to how big of a tourist spot it is and of course I heard that there’s an Inglot store which I never knew and just seeing their cosmetics with just number labels don’t help me at all so I need to explore more with this app and I will give you another review in how much it works at the Florida Mall. If you think I should try it out at other malls or places Like Disney Springs for example, I would love to do that! If you’re visually impaired and need an app like this, I would say try it out since not all apps are for everyone, I did have my teacher in the training course download it and she did suggest it at the Lighthouse Reunion since it did give her the location updates. And a head’s up, any Android users, it’s not available for Android. Hoping there will be a version for those users along with Soundscape.

Well, that’s it for this post! I know it was pretty lengthy but it was something I wanted to share and add something to the Accessibility part of this blog. I will see how it works anywhere else and hoping more things get added. Stay tuned later on today for a new book review! Make sure you follow us on Twitter for the latest updates @ Nerdy Shique!

Books + Access Tech: Nemecene: The Epoch Of Redress by. Kaz LaFave

Hello Shiquers and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe! I’m back with a new book review!

Title :Nemecene: The Epoch of Redress
Author: Kaz LaFave

Disclaimer: This review is based on the lead writer’s thoughts and opinions! Please respect her thoughts on this book! Spoilers may happen but at the same time it won’t. And by the way, this is also dealing with Assistive Tech!

Synopsis: This story takes place in a toxic future where dead oceans and poisonous gases exist, we meet Elize and Keeto who are twins that are a target for a deadly predator and must save Elize from the fate that their mother had faced and the mystery of her death floods Elize’s dreams every night along with the same psychological illness that their mother had been imprisoned for and died from.

Keeto is an archaeologist and bookworm who keeps Elize’s problem from their oppressive father and afraid that he would find out and have her committed and they escape to Edenborough, a floating city with a bio wall. While in Edenborough, Elize befriends Zafarian, who is known for breaking the law but has an expertise in gadgetry doesn’t please Keeto but the three end up in a conspiracy to find out what has happened and piece the mystery that is front of them even if a stranger is trying to get in contact with them with certain clues.

Despite taking up new identities, Elize being an intern at the university and Keeto being an archaeologist at the Museum of Antiquities, Elize starts noticing how fragile she is and coming to terms with it. Will they be able to survive and find out what happened to their mother? Will deceit and lies take them down an even more dangerous path?

Thoughts: This book had a longer description but I condensed it as best as I could. Anyways, this book was a very interesting and entertaining read. When I saw the third book up for request, I knew I had to check it out and noticed the other two were also up for request and took them on. Well, that is where tech comes into play.

I had some issues with downloading the protected PDFs and even tried to access Acrobat Digital Reads and still wouldn’t work. So, I worked with Kaz to make her books accessible for me to read my computer. As you guys know, besides reading on my Galaxy Tablet, IPad, and IPhone SE, soon to upgrade to the 8 this year, I also read books on my computer and have been for many years. I use JAWS as a way to read DAISY formats on FS Reader and PDFs on Adobe Acrobat. Before, Adobe was not accessible and it always read things in code or gives me “Warning: Empty Document!” Which I and Kaz were able to work around that together which some companies and colleges do when it comes to providing reading material to their visually impaired clients and students. I did suggest NLS Bard and Book share to Kaz to get her stuff converted so anyone who wants to read after this review can have a new alternative when she looks into it. She did get the PDFs of the first two episodes without images and chapter art and it worked! I do have the third episode in paperback for Gondras to read to me which I miss having a paperback in my paws! Trust me, I sniffed it because I was really happy about it. Hey, try missing having actual books in my collection.

Anyways, my thoughts on the first book! I loved it! I found it how interesting the chapters took on the points of view of three characters which happen to be Nithruyu, the one who has been following the twins throughout the story in this episode, Elize, which you get to see how she interacts with people and going through her state of mind, and Keeto where his telling is in journal-style but as messages to their mother which I liked his storytelling the most. I hardly seen storytelling like this especially when it takes on different points of view of three characters that are important to the story. You get to see how they think of one person if they can trust them or not, or how they see each other, and even what they explore in Edenborough.

What I liked the most was how the world was painted after climate change took its course. Since this is a science fiction story, there are times where books are written in different versions of Earth in the future and there are times where we wonder if Earth is going to end up like Venus or are there going to be colonies around planets like in the anime Gravion, or what Evangelion painted with the Second Impact where the ocean changed to a red color and Angels attack. These are good pictures of what the writers and animators have painted for us and LaFave did it with this one which is almost like what took place in the Second Impact where the oceans are dead and we have poisonous gases taking root and there are still some cities that are around, like Edenborough for example, and in order to get from one place to the next you have floating platforms and trains. I’m hoping to see more of Earth looking like this in more episodes to come since this is supposed to be nine episodes long and a conclusion and can’t wait to see what Episode 2 holds for me after how this has ended since I don’t want to give too much away but definitely recommend. I even recommended it to the women over on Galactic Suburbia since they are known for recommending a lot of books, especially ones crowding my Book share and NLS Bard shelves on my Victor Reader Stream but they do get recommendations from their audience. Hoping they read my tweet!

If I were to pick a character I would say Elize is the one I liked. Reason being is that she is quirky in a very cute way especially with how she interacts with Stitch, which is the guy she became friends with and it’s his nickname by the way. Plus, you get to see how her state of mind develops as the episode continues. I did read in the description for the third book that it gets worse but I have to see Episode 2 to get me to Episode 3 first since knowing, like with anime and manga, you have to go book by book and episode by episode to know what the character is going through. I can’t wait to see what happens to her next since knowing that Nithruyu gives a message to Keeto to look for the answers in his sister. Speaking of anime, if this was animated as a tv series, I would see either Luci Christian or Jamie Marchi do Elize’s voice and give it a slight Scottish accent since I was imagining either one voicing her while reading it.

Rating: 5 Star Paw Prints Out of 5! This book was a perfect story and glad I was able to Kaz in order to make it accessible for me to read. I guess this series is starting off with perfect teamwork both in the pages and outside in how people can work together. I can’t wait to see what Episode 2 holds for our three companions along with Stitch and see how much more the world gets painted in this new Earth. I will be reviewing Episode 2 for you guys so I would suggest to hang on tight for when I finish with the next installment!

Well, that’s it for this book review! I was glad to work with Kaz LaFave in getting this book readable and if you’re in Canada and find her at a bookstore on her book tour, I would suggest dropping by and saying “Hi!” And pick up a copy! I will leave a link to this first episode if you little kittens in the Nerd Universe want to be curious! What’s next? Not sure but I will come up with something! Until next time!

Access Tech: Aira

Hello Shiquers and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe! It’s time for a new Access Tech post!

Aira!

As a soon-to-be A. T. Specialist, I tend to listen to podcasts about technology or ones that talk about living life with sight loss and blending it in with Access Tech to give tips and what things you could take a look at and what is out there. One awesome podcast is Assistive Technology Update from Easter Seals in Indiana which they have many others under their belt but this is one I highly recommend for anyone who wants to learn more about tech for disabled people. One episode that got me to write this post is on a new device known as Aira which is a wearable device that helps people to see what’s around them.

What Is It And How Does It Work? Aira is a pair of smart glasses that uses cameras and a portable Wi-Fi network in order to connect with agents through the mobile app on your smart phone. The agents can help you in finding a pace to eat, where to find the nearest train station, and even read out the plaques in a museum, which would help out since the person in the A. T. Update episode who has been using this tech went to one of the museums in D. C. and they got someone on the app be excited and read and described everything that the glasses caught in front of them! I would say this takes Google Glass to a whole nother level because you’re not only using the glasses but your phone too but it can work either way as in just the glasses or just the phone but in my opinion and case I would have both if I went this route.

How Can It Benefit the Blind? Well, it does definitely help improve mobility since it does use the GPS navigation system on someone’s phone in order to get them to where they need to go. It would help with navigating the systems such as the city streets, knowing when to cross an intersection like the busiest intersections in Orlando since that can be a tedious thing to do, even on International Drive here. What also helps is that the agent can help people with different restaurants they want to go to by reading Yelp reviews on their end to give them a better idea of what’s in the neighborhood and what people have to say about it. Sounds great when you’re in Orlando for the NFB National Convention or any of the conventions I have spotlighted here. Plus, they can read the menus for you that can really help since not all restaurants have the Braille menu option which that is a bit of an annoyance. Not only that can read the descriptions of each dish as well since I did notice in the past when Denny’s didn’t do that in their old Braille menu. So, there are many possibilities in benefitting someone who would want to use this tech, even reading handwritten notes can be done with this one.

Where Should I Go For Information? I will pop in the link for this device because it will give you the phone number to connect you to someone who will give you plan pricing, any information on how it works if you need more information in product use, etc. This is an interesting device and if you guys know anyone who should check it out, let them know!

Well, that is it for this post! If you guys want to learn more about a certain product that is out there, just comment below or if you’re following us on Twitter @Nerdy Shique, you can tweet us there! I am looking for more things to write about in the Access Tech Universe because as you know I benefit from it and you guys can also benefit from learning with my experiences!

What is next? More book reviews soon and since February started, I Aira Websitesmell a Favorites post in the air! Until next time!

Access Tech: Voice Actors Learning About Braille Tech

Hello Shiquers and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe! Time for a new post in the Access Tech category on here and I think this will be a nice one to start the New Year off in this category!

Voice Actors Learning About Braille Tech from a Blind Person!

I know this topic seems a little silly to talk about but I was inspired by Brandon McInnis to write this post after this year’s Holiday Matsuri!

I have been an anime fan for most of my life and still remembered how Toonami first started when I was in elementary school and remembered how I came home through those years to catch Voltron, a little bit of Gundam Wing or DBZ and most of the time Sailor Moon. I even remembered how Fox Kids started showing Pokémon and Digimon to get into the anime broadcasting game and even started to draw in the anime style since I thought the art style was very interesting. As time went on, I did find out that I was going blind with Retinitis Pigmentosa and still enjoyed anime and didn’t think I would be doing press later on in my life like I had now nor get into Braille tech.

When I was in my Summer Semester of University back in 2011, I started bringing my Perkins Brailler since due to my past few semesters Braille did help me pass my classes, I even made Braille flash cards for myself to help myself study with the most important things I knew that were on the test and did pretty good and even started bringing a full page Braille Slate with me to class during the spring and it did work but it was hard always knowing when to change the page in the slate and where I was doing my characters because the cells were on the back and you pretty much had to write in backwards fashion to get the characters to show. Plus, having the stylus in my hand at all times did hurt. I did have a laptop but the track pad always moved my notes around Word and made studying a bit harder on myself. After having a teacher not liking my Brailler, I contacted Blind Services about the issues with my notetaking especially when I almost left class a few times due to how the teacher was complaining about the Brailler in class and I was told about Braille tech and I was all in for it. During the fall term, I was introduced to devices by Freedom Scientific and H. I. M. S. and was supposed to be introduced to Human Ware but due to how close it was to the end of the semester I decided on the H. I. M. S. Braille Sense Plus and chose the QWERTY which is what you just have a computer keyboard and give it a Braille display underneath and you type as normal and whatever you type it will translate that into whatever Braille grade you chose in the settings. If you chose Grade 1 it will be uncontracted Braille and if you chose Grade 2 it will translate into contracted Braille even the contractions for most words too. These were the only two Grades with Nemeth, also known as math code, that has been around for a long time until the new Unified English Braille Code that came around two years ago where some of the contractions were eliminated and made some of them look different to make translation a lot more easier even for Ducks Bury which is the program that helps print out Braille documents.

Having this device did help me out for the rest of my time at college, even in my Japanese classes I had to take as a language requirement and feeling the words in the notes helped with studying in order to pass. As time went on and after starting this blog, I didn’t know doing press at conventions existed until Career Services suggested it to me. I remembered volunteering at conventions in the past but doing press was a whole new world all in itself. Not only it gave me awesome opportunities to work for conventions but it also gave an awesome learning experience.

“Take A Look At That!”

When I started with press, I was totally new to it and didn’t know what to do either since I hadn’t done it before. I figured that I would use my Braille Sense for taking notes and writing interview questions. Even though MetroCon 2013 was our first time doing press, I didn’t get that many notes since we were hanging out and observing the layout, hosting panels, and of course going back and forth between the con and hotel. We did learn some things from our first time which includes don’t wait until the end of the year to post anything. (I didn’t transcribe our interviews until the end of that year.) The following year, 2014, Omni Expo did ask us for press but that year I was the only one out of the three of us to go since Gondras had a test that weekend. I did also have a cold that year too and it wasn’t easy getting up early to catch the paratransit van after having Nyquil and surviving on Monster Javas but I did get through it. The first person who was amazed by my Braille Sense, since I did put my questions on it and recording with my Olympus recorder, was Carrie Savage who you may remember her as the voice of Mokona in Tsubasa and XxXHolic and now Lisana on Fairy Tail. I did explain how it worked as in when I typed it shows up on the Braille display and I can read off of it by feeling the characters. I was surprised that someone would have a reaction like she did because not a lot of people have seen a device like I had and even a volunteer did ask me about it during the weekend and knew that more people would probably ask me what it was as time goes on.

During that same year, we did return to MetroCon since we did enjoy it the year before and that year was also testing my cosplay design skills with .hack since it was hard what to do and I created my own character. Besides cosplay being tested, I found out that Dante Basco was going to be a guest that year and chose him along with Troy Baker, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, and and Richard Epcar to interview. Not only I had to show my blog for the agent but also interview questions to see if I get to interview him and it was hard to ask him because I didn’t want to ask the wrong question. After making them and sending the link, I did get the schedule and he was the first to be interviewed by me and when I show up to the guest room that Friday and I did surprise him with my cane in hand and explained my eye condition since he did ask me about it and was even more surprised with the Braille Sense since it gave him a new person to meet and that is someone who is blind. I did tell him I used to be a fan of American Dragon Jake Long when I was sighted. He did ask me questions about how I learned Braille and how long it took me to learn which I was honest with taking me two years to learn especially having a tutor for Grade 2 because it is not easy trying to learn the many different rules for every contraction in all the textbooks. He even watched me go around the File Manager getting his questions and pop up on my Braille display. It still felt amazing getting to have that one on one with him and showing him my Braille Sense.

I did have to upgrade after one of the keys broke off and did have to scramble with a backup plan for Omni Expo the following year while Blind Services was purchasing my Braille Sense U2. I felt it was time to switch to the Perkins Brailler keyboard since I wasn’t in college anymore and would help expand my tech skills even in typing and using chord commands where you would use the Braille letter and the spacebar together. I even surprised the guy who trained me since I was familiar with the H. I. M. S. product before and able to transfer some of the skills from that to this one. During the time the unit was purchased, I had to bring out the old Brailler again and type out my interview questions and put into a binder due to not able to use the old QWERTY during that Omni. Lauren Landa even asked to feel my Braille pages after my interview with her and she told me about some neighbors she had that were deaf and it was cool that she knew people who were disabled and had to explain that I normally had my device that with the questions but waiting on a new one in the meantime and she thought it was cool that I had a physical Braille copy with me. It did take me days to get this binder together when it usually takes me hours on my device and when I got the newer one I was really relieved to have it for the summer and able to practice typing until Holiday Matsuri came that winter. It was our first year doing press and first time to bring the U2 to it and I think we surprised the Guest Relations people that we wanted to interview some of their guests that year and had go through some bits of complications especially when it was being done during their signing time but we eventually got to interview Todd Haberkorn and Josh Seth. Josh was the one who was surprised by my Braille Sense U2 since he never saw something like it before and I did explain how it worked and how it was a new keyboard for me due to it being a new device that year for me and I let him touch some of the Braille on the display so he could get a feel for the dots. The one that got even more mesmerized was Brian Beacock at Omni Expo the following year since not only he was the first guest to have a con give us a good word about our work but throughout our interview even on camera he was like, “This thing is so cool!” Which I would never have thought that after the experiences I had with other actors would find my Braille tech amazing even on camera.

This past year at Holiday Matsuri, we did catch Brandon McInnis’ eye with my little Braille Sense due to being at the very front of his panel with J. I was taking my notes as usual while listening to them talk about their life experiences. That Saturday evening before we had to cover the Idol Festival we did drop by his and J.’s tables and Brandon told me about being a software programmer if I got it right and asked me about the Braille Sense because he told me how he was watching me take notes and I was surprised that he did notice my finger movements since I did have to type like if I was using a Brailler. I did explain what it was and about H. I. M. S. a little since he and J. live in Texas and that is where it’s located and even explained the internet and how that worked, etc. He was wowed by it and it made me feel good for the rest of the evening and had me thinking about this post since I did feel like I was teaching these actors something from my own world as a blind person and that there are blind people enjoying their work as much as the sighted does.

In the end, after these experiences, I feel like I was giving a new learning experience not to just myself while interviewing the actors or even asking a question during a panel but also giving them a learning experience with my own device. I have been using Access Tech for many years and remembering times in college where there were some people who do notice what I use in class or they just pass by like it’s nothing but it feels like it has changed because technology is growing at fast rates, heck there is now Braille Note Takers taking on Android tech and I would like to get my paws on that. Plus, it gives a voice actor a new insight on what their work means to a lot of people even the blind themselves. I still remember how I told Steve Blum “Thank you for all the work you have done!” When he talked about the dad who had an autistic son during our interview when I asked about his favorite convention experience. It still kind of brings me tears because of how touching the story is and now with me telling these actors about my own experiences as a blind person and how I can talk to them about my Braille device it feels like they are learning from me a little more. Heck, even some of the other Press people I met before the Cosplay Runway got to know that a blind person has been doing press alongside them during the weekend after seeing my Braille Sense on the table. I guess I not only have taught some blind people in Access Tech but also sighted people including the ones who have voiced many of our favorite characters on screen for many years.

Well, that is about it for this post and man it did bring a lot of memories and knowing that I can keep on going with my Access Tech Specialist dreams makes me feel even better. I am not going to let it stop because technology has been my element even if I have my writing skill and working on my third book. No matter where my path leads me I know I will keep on following it. I can’t wait for next year’s Omni Expo where we get to catch up with Josh Seth and Paul St. Peter and get to meet Derek Steven Prince and get to see his reactions to my Braille Sense and cane when I hand him Digimon Season 2.

What is next? The final bit of coverage from Holiday Matsuri 2017 with the Idol Festival. And again major thanks to Brandon McInnis for inspiring me to write this after asking me about the Braille Sense, it was a great thing to bring up and glad I gave you a nice learning experience. Who knows I may run into you at another convention probably as a guest or just doing press as usual or working in Texas teaching someone tech.

Access Tech: Accessibility in Gaming

Hello Shiquers and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe and I am back and will be taking a bit of a break from the Holiday Matsuri coverage, which I will get back to since we have to figure out what videos go up first since we have them recorded on Nerdy Shirts’ phone and camera and my phone with pics from the Runway Contest. Don’t worry, it will be up! Right now I am doing a post that my best friend Stellar Nan thought it would be interesting for me to do with my own take and that is…

Accessibility in Gaming

Disclaimer: This post is based on observations and opinions of the lead writer. Please respect her thoughts and thank you!

I am glad to talk about this topic since it has been a hot one all year especially since MegaCon Orlando this year when Troy Baker announced that he wants to see more accessibility in gaming and I did thank him for it which he did mention to me that he has seen articles of blind people popping up in the gaming world which is true.

The first article I had read before the con was done on a Japanese boy who is blind and beat a rhythm game series on the DS and he wrote to Nintendo to thank them for the series which the company did write back to him in a Braille letter and a printed one for his dad and said “Thank you for playing!” This was amazing to me because the kid did go onto playing the Taiko drums all thanks to playing these games which if you haven’t seen a Taiko show I highly recommend to go to one in your area or find videos on YouTube. Even before this article, Gondras did turn me onto one blind gamer that lives in Canada by the name of Steve Sailor who plays games despite having low vision. He has played many games such as Bio shock, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Super Mario Odyssey and it is very entertaining to see how he roams around and plays the games and reacts to them. I will put a video link in here so you can see what he does.

When it comes to accessibility, it is where different things to be added in order to make playing games more fun for people with disabilities, especially ones with visual disabilities. It’s not easy to play a game for me since I can’t see the screen nor the buttons but I have been sighted before and remembered playing Sonic 2 the most and almost beating the game a couple of times. I even remembered playing Super Mario All Stars on the Super Nintendo and moved onto the Nintendo 64 and the Gameboy Color. Nowadays with my limited sight, I can only really play Pokémon even though I did help unlock people on Super Smash Brothers but it’s mostly Pokémon and I know how it feels to play it since another blind gamer by the name of James Rath goes through the audio cues like I do but sometimes the Pokémon can sound the same in my ears and do need the sighted help time to time. Plus, walking around can also be difficult since I do run into things a lot and need some directional guide. Trust me, playing Y with Lumios City was not an easy feat with how that city is a rotating 3D model when I look at it. Even navigating Mauville in Alpha Sapphire was confusing too with the different doors you go through. I bet you are wondering where I am getting at.

Screen Reader Tech! That’s right, screen reading tech should be developed for the Nintendo system since Sony has developed it to be on their PlayStation 4 for people with visual impairments to be able to play. I am hoping Gondras does get one soon because I want to see this for myself since I have co-opped with him a couple of times in Tales of Xilia 2!

For many years, I have been emailing Nintendo about this since it is not easy being able to see the text and the story is in that text based telling. Trust me, I try to ask Gondras to read the stuff out even during Pokémon Black and besides the story parts, also reading out signs on buildings since I was able to locate things on the maps in the strategy guides and can’t read them anymore. So, the screen reader would help in reading the maps, reading the tutorials too and even read the different menus on the home screen area when selecting the games you want to play, to putting in the text like with how Siri would do on the onscreen keyboard, and many other things, heck even see items ahead of you.

I did get an email from Nintendo once I read the article about the Japanese boy to reach out to them again and they did say they started including the ability to change the colors on the Nintendo Switch which James Rath talked about in a video I will also include about how a blind person would play the Switch. These settings pretty much change the gray scale and reverse the colors on the screen which sounds like something Zoom Text and Magic does where you can make the background different colors and your cursor a different color to help see while typing as an example. That is a really good start for Nintendo because it is now showing they are joining in on the Accessibility Arena due to how many people that are visually impaired want to enjoy their games. James mentioned how he and another blind friend were able to play together especially with Splatoon where they were able to switch the color blind settings to help with that.

It would be nice for Nintendo to expand on the settings to add the screen reader tech since we do live in the era of voiceover on Apple and Samsung’s tablets and phones, heck even Zoom Text has added speech to be like Magic in its own way. I did bring the question about this to Jennifer Hale and Ally Hillis during the Mass Effect panel during Mega since it would be interesting for their take and they said, “Of course! Since we live in the time of inclusion in tech that would be something that should be added.” You can watch those videos in our MegaCon Orlando coverage on here or go to our YouTube Channel for that. I do agree with their points because we do have the audio description and closed captions for the sight and hearing impaired audiences who love to come and see a movie with their family and friends so should have a talk with the companies that develop these devices or talk to Freedom Scientific, the creators of NVDA in Australia, or even Apple and Samsung for help in how to make something like this to work on the Switch and their DS systems since we do have the New DS too to think about. Plus, it will help Nintendo to keep up with Sony since they are getting into the Accessibility game a little more to include more gamers in their market and it would be the same with Nintendo if they keep going forward.

Well, that is my take on the accessibility in gaming since I am a JAWS user, it would be nice to play Pokémon with screen reading support. I did bring it up to someone I used to know and he thought this was a bad idea but now with more blind gamers and now voice actors wanting to see it more, I guess he will be thinking it more differently if he has been to the latest conventions where the actors have talked about it and plus more blind gamers are popping up in the mainstream media even on YouTube. I haven’t mentioned the points that Extra Credits mentioned in one video they did all thanks to someone who told her story but I will also include their video on Accessibility in gaming too. Now I will be crossing my fingers on all my paws to see if more accessible settings go forward. And I also want to thank Steve Sailor for letting me use one of his videos to show what he does and in a recent video he is starting to be a consultant to help game developers so hoping an expansion does happen. So, enjoy the videos and until next time! I will be doing a post that Mr. Brandon McInnis inspired me to do during Holiday Mature. Until next time!