Technology: How to Make An Accessible Convention Schedule

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

Creating a Simple and Accessible Convention Schedule!

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

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

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

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Technology: Review on the Braille Sense Polaris by H. I. M. S. International

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds and welcome back from traveling the vast universe! It’s time for a technology review!

Braille Sense Polaris by H. I. M. S. International!

Disclaimer: This review is based on observations and experience of the lead writer of this blog. Please respect her thoughts and opinions!

It’s a long time coming but finally get to review this device and that’s the Braille Sense Polaris. As you know, I have been using Braille tech for a long time and this is the latest note taker that has been released a year ago.

Built with Android tech, the Braille Sense Polaris not only acts like a Braille note taker but also acts like an Android tablet using apps that can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and use a touch bar under the the routing buttons right above the Braille display. There are many functions it can do such as reading books, using the Word Processor to take notes and even read Excel Spreadsheets, on top of that also has a built in camera to use many apps that rely on it.

My thoughts on this device has a lot of pros but does have its cons with it too, let’s see what I think!

Thoughts: I have had much experience with the H. I. M. S. International Braille Sense line with starting with the Braille Sense plus QWERTY model which is basically what if you took a keyboard from a computer and attached to a Braille display and took notes that way. Reason why I went with this one is because being in college you have to pay attention to the lectures and and figuring out the contractions while the professor speaks then you will miss something important and having this one did help me out, even though I am a fast typist and there were times when it couldn’t keep up. Plus, it did help with reading some books that were hard to read for class assignments. This did go on with using during my earlier press jobs at MetroCon 2013 and 2014, Omni Expo 2014, and of course MythiCon 2014 until one of my keys ended up breaking off and that got me to the U2, which introduced me to the Perkins Brailler keyboard. I thought it would be simple but it wasn’t because unlike the QWERTY counterpart you have chords to use which is a Braille character with the spacebar combined. I did have to remember a lot of them as time went on but got a hang of it until the battery decided to give me issues and knew I had to step up and that’s where the Polaris came in.

There is another device I was introduced to and knew about and that was the Braille Note Touch which what if you took an Android tablet and placed a Perkins keyboard on top and you can also use the touch screen to Braille with it as well. You can even use Bluetooth devices with it too but one thing I didn’t like about it was that it was heavy. You not only have the tablet portion but you also have the keyboard on top to add to the weight which as you know I do press at conventions and having something lightweight helps so that is why the Polaris was better for me. As in, going from panel to panel, being able to access it easily to interview people and so on made me choose this device more. Plus, I am more familiar with the Braille Sense line than the Braille Note line which makes it even easier for me to use the Polaris more.

What Do I Like the Most: What I like the most about the Polaris is that it added more features to it since we are not only playing with a single product but with a second platform at added to it which is Android and it gave Braille a better advantage since nowadays people are using Android and Apple devices for their daily tasks. Besides note taking, I do love using my Polaris to pair with my phone in order to navigate through Facebook, Instagram, and even sometimes email with it since dictation likes to be tricky even in text messages but of course I have been using it with the video function on my phone because well if you have seen my earlier beauty videos, Siri talked a lot in them. Imagine with all the comments I got, I did get some tips from someone from a tech company who did demonstrate the two devices for me. It did help and using the Polaris with the phone while recording does tell me the video is still recording without having to get up and go to the camera to see if it is still recording. Nice little feature.

Another thing I did like is how the Help Topics were expanded because you have so many new features to use within the Polaris itself and remembering everything can be a hassle so having different Help Topics to go back on does help out, heck even there was a section for me to look at on the Touch Bar itself since I didn’t get much information about that which I will talk about that later and will talk about the Touch Bar now!

The newest feature that was added was the Touch Bar which is a strip placed in between the routing buttons and the Braille Display itself. You can turn on the Touch Bar by using the Global Settings Options and use this feature as if you’re navigating a tablet screen. As in, you can swipe with your fingers across this strip to go between the programs, double tap to go into apps, and so on. It’s a fun little feature and yes if you have long nails it can be tricky so I would say clip your nails back if you can.

Another feature is of course being able to download apps from the Google Play Store and being able to use them in this environment. Great thing about this feature besides downloading is that if you have an Android phone or tablet yourself you can download the apps you had on those devices and place them onto the Polaris itself which is great because you can use Google Docs and Sheets between the two and able to save and open these kinds of documents between the Braille Sense side and the Android side. Not only that, other apps can be downloaded too if you haven’t used them on other Android devices such as a printing app. My mom has a wireless printer and during the summer I didn’t have any ink in my printer so I decided to try out her printer with my Polaris and downloaded the printing apps I needed and it worked out beautifully! And remembered when I mentioned the camera? There are apps you can use with this feature and one app I did test out while using it is of course Be My Eyes! While I was at the NFB Convention this summer, I did ask if it could work on a Braille device with a camera and they weren’t sure about it and afterwards I put it to the test and downloaded it to my Polaris. It did work! Even though you can’t see the object through the camera but it does act like a video camera for the volunteer? I also heard that KNFB Reader can also be used this way so I am waiting for my chance to download it during a sale, if I can, to see how well it works out for me. I would love to read my documents during work with this app and it is a dream of mine to be able to have it.

Cons: Besides the Pros, there are cons to this device. First is and hearing it was fixed with the last update and that is how in Word Processor where writing gets jumbled. As in if I was writing something, it gets moved automatically like if you were using a laptop, trust me I didn’t like that due to the Mouse Track Pad. I wasn’t the only one who experienced this either since other people at the NFB Convention also went through what I went through. Now I have to see about it being fixed during Ranger Stop when I take notes.

Another con is using Google Docs and Google Sheets, I am not sure if this is the same issue with Slides but I have noticed while trying to type in Docs I sometimes get taken out of the document area and it’s hard to get back in. Now, I am not sure if it will work better since I have been trying the Touch Bar and if it would still have me in writing a document but this annoyed me while trying to write my latest fan fiction and had to restart the chapters over and over. I will see how it goes with using the Touch Bar feature and get back to you on that. And with Sheets it feels like when you add columns it’s hard to go back to previous columns since it can only fit a few on this kind of display. I did mention Touch Bar and I will see how that goes and may write a post about my experiences with the Touch Bar since apparently I am the only one so far trying it out. Anyways, I do like how I can just construct the spreadsheets on this device but trying to navigate the columns and rows not so much, wishing they can expand on this which I will mention in the Improvements area.

And finally, not all of the apps are optimized for this kind of environment. What do I mean by this? Well, while downloading some of the apps through Play Store, I did notice there was a message mentioning that this app is not optimized to the Polaris itself as in its optimized for tablets and phones only. I understand you’re using a Braille device but being able to have the Android system built in to add more functionality to the device itself the app should be able to operate normally and optimized to be used in this environment. Not sure how well the apps are able to work on the Braille Note Touch, I have a feeling since that that has a screen it is optimized better in their environment. Not only that, some apps can’t be used on this type of device which includes Kindle which makes me sad, I did suggest that they should add Kindle in order to have more reading options.

How Can This Product Can Be Improved? There are many ways such as making the apps be optimized to fit this device more since it is a new tech being used and of course it is new to this market. I would have to say the most would being able to use the G-Suite Programs without any issues as in being able to type in Docs without being kicked out of the document area. If we’re using Google Suite programs we should be able to use them to their fullest potential especially in the classroom. Yes, we can copy and paste what we wrote in Word Processor but being able to just type it right there it would be easier than just going from one area to the next. Goes the same with Sheets too, having that ability to just create spreadsheets and going back and forth between columns if they get added can be a better extension of using a Braille device with Google.

Another improvement is that that there are recordings of videos about how to use the Polaris and not only that recordings done with the audio recorder on the Polaris too. Sorry to say H. I. M. S., with my super bat hearing I can’t hear it! As in, the audio is so low it is hard for me to hear even raising the device volume to its fullest. It goes the same way when you watch the videos on YouTube on a PC and probably goes the same way on other devices that use YouTube. Hello, a microphone can help out and don’t just use the audio recorder on these devices, no offense I have used it before and it doesn’t record anything loud enough unless you put it closer. Best to just use a microphone and probably talk a bit louder if there is no mike. I even talk loud in all of my videos in a loud room, why not do the same?

Another thing is talk about the Touch Bar more. What I mean is that yes it can be a tricky thing to do and use which I admit I always find myself in the Global Settings if I’m not careful enough but being able to talk about this feature and train people on it, even doing it as an instructional video, can give more functionality to this device. This takes me back to the G-Suite thing, if you guys built it into a device then why not show how to use it? I did say I was able to find out how to use it on my own and as a new A. T. Instructor knowing about this feature does help. Plus, it is a neat feature to use after my small experience with it and its fun to play around with and being able to train someone after learning it first can help give new customers to the company and also show what else the device does besides using the Braille keys. It’s like using the Terminal Mode with the phone, I sometimes need to swipe in order to get around on my IPhone while navigating on my Polaris and cool thing is with the Touch Bar you can swipe to those apps too. So, talking about this feature more can expand what the capabilities are. If Human Ware has the touch options on their devices so does this one and as said before should be talked about more.

And one more thing, knowing with updating the Firm Ware on this device, there should be flash messages saying, “Hey! New Update!” Instead of just guessing. For instance, there was a new update and it was supposed to be released at the end of August but didn’t show up until mid-October. I did check the Update Firm Ware to see if there was one and having a message saying it can help because there are Notifications on this thing like a regular Android Tablet Apple Devices why not do notifications based on that since a lot of these note takers do use Wi-Fi.

Rating: 4 Star Paw Prints Out of 5! Not all devices are perfect and this one is one of them. I know I had some cons and some improvements that should be made. I wills see how the Touch Bar interacts with the Google Suite Apps because I feel like they would benefit more with it than just the keyboard use. Not only that I am hoping Kindle can be used on this thing since I have a ton of books needing to be read and if I’m at a convention and having a break and want a good book to read then that is what I can fall upon besides using the DAISY Player and Bard Mobile. In the end, H. I. M. S. has done a pretty good job but does need to make improvements along the way and hoping they keep making devices like these due to how much tech has been growing and it was a great step up for them due to how much Apple and Android has been big parts in the mobile devices market. Plus, good thing is this can help with getting into Android a little since not everyone uses this type of tech platform and I did say in the Life After Sight Loss live stream recently that you can see what’s best for you by being able to test both platforms and good thing with this kind of device you can use the Bluetooth settings with Apple devices so they can go hand in hand with each other. I think I did make a good choice with this device since I am familiar with the products and now Accessibility and Braille is starting to get more into the high tech field by catching up with Android so it’s living strong. I bet you’re wondering, would I have gone with the Braille Note Touch instead? Even though the features were nice on that thing, if it was lighter than I would but as someone who goes convention to convention, I’d rather go for a lightweight device and not slow myself down. If I were to save up for the Touch itself then I would probably consider it to see how it works and expand my tech knowledge more. Who knows what will happen but I am going to stick with the Polaris and see how much it will improve over time.

That is it for this review! I am glad that I was able to talk about this device since so many people have seen me use it before and always ask me questions. Ranger Stop will be its first convention that I will be using my Polaris at and will be having some fun with it. Let’s see how it goes! In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @ Nerdy Shique for the latest updates and until then stay beautiful while traveling the universe!

Accessibility: How Nerd Conventions Can Be Accessible!

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds and welcome back! I am back with another post and this time it does deal with blindness and accessibility and my convention world.

How Nerd Conventions Can Can Be Accessible to the Blind

As you guys know and might have read The Blind Perspective: Convention Stories from the Dark, I’ve been an anime or more like a nerd convention goer since 2004 if you count a day at JACON but didn’t really start going until the year after while being with THEE X at the time. I have had many stories from my being an attendee with some sight and when I lost my sight it became a new outlook and perspective in going to these events. As years have gone, I have noticed things about the nerd conventions and that is some accessibility issues. I have posted an idea over on the Holiday Matsuri Facebook Group and decided why not expand it to here since I do write blindness related topics and Accessibility has been a huge topic being thrown around and I felt like why not show what I think should make a convention more accessible to the blind.

Town Criers Yelling Out Different Areas: This year I went to the National Federation of the Blind National Convention and while attending I heard people calling out where different areas are like where Registration was, where the General Sessions were and so on and it did help out because it told us as blind people where to go. I posted this exact idea on the Holiday Matsuri Group which got a lot of good responses because some conventions are held at very big locations like MegaCon at the Orange County Convention Center and Holiday Matsuri at the World Center Marriot. Another example, DragonCon in Atlanta spans over five hotels and knowing those are also huge in their convention center area. Reason for posting this besides getting the idea from the NFB Convention was that last year I had a hard time finding the Main Events room and I asked people and they pointed and said, “Over there!” As a blind person you don’t know what “Over there” is and I will touch on that even more next. Having people call out the areas like “Panels Over here to your right” or “Main events down this way!” It will help out because it not only shows its location but helps with going in the right direction. If it happened last year and heard, “Main Events down this way!” I would know just to head straight and then ask the person calling it to make sure and they said, “Just head straight.” Because there were times where I heard people ask the people for a double check and they answered the question.
Volunteers Being Sighted Guides: Touching more on the “It’s Over There!” Someone did post that they had a similar situation with a staff member where the person was pointing and tried to tell the staff member that they can’t see pointed fingers and didn’t do more about it. This is where the idea of having a sighted guide volunteer comes in. Conventions have asked for a lot of volunteers over the years and they do get tons over time, heck I have volunteered myself at JACON when it was alive and MegaCon twice before doing press. Having extra volunteers on hand can help anyone who may need the sighted guide help in getting to a particular area of the hotel or the convention itself? For instance, Omni Fandom Expo Year 1 I had a volunteer help me to get around since Omni was also at the World Center and it was hard to navigate when my mobility skills were rusty at the time. She helped me out getting to some of the signing tables and even to the bathroom which was great. Yeah it took around twenty minutes as a guesstimate but it did help out in a way. Having the volunteers able to do this can help someone who may be lost or can’t find the room if they couldn’t hear the person yelling or someone on a speaker system, trust me it was hard to hear the speakers in the MegaCon Vendor Room back in the past. What about getting to know about sighted guide if you’re a staff member reading this? Proper sighted guide is where the person offers the elbow or arm and the blind person grabs on not the other way around. A newer technique is also grabbing above the elbow like a cup to make it more comfortable. And another thing is, during volunteer meetings try asking the volunteer meetings if they can be able to guide anyone to certain areas such as bathrooms, panel rooms, even the doors for any ride pickups that a person need help with. In the end, volunteers are there to help and should help even further.
Having Convention Guides As Accessible Material: One thing that makes a convention exciting is the convention guide that tells you about guests, events, and the hours of the vendor room and gaming room but issue is not being able to read it and seeing the pretty pictures. Having an accessible digital version of the convention guide can help! I remembered having the full on Convention Guide for the NFB Convention on my Braille Sense Polaris as one huge Word Document. Did it help? Yes! It did tell me what events are at what time and where to go and the times for the Independence Market too each day. Whether it’s in PDF format or a Word Document, having the convention guide in one of these formats minus the photos can be something very easily accessed even placed onto a device that is portable like a phone with Google Docs for example or like I said above, my Braille Sense Polaris so I can read it in Braille. Which brings me to another point.
Placing Braille Index Cards with Room Names on Cardboard Signs: Yes, another point I found is that on easels placed around most conventions there are signs showing what room it is and/or just the panels being in that room. Since I mentioned the accessible document for Convention Guides, having an index card with the panel room number and the actual room’s name can be easier than just guessing or getting the rooms mixed up. There may be a volunteer at the door or not but after double checking the schedule for a specific event or seeing if you’re at the vendor room by finding the card on the easel can tell that you’re in the right place. Plus index cards aren’t that expensive but getting them made best to look into a Braille printing service or know someone who’s blind that can do it.
Having Music Zones: Someone posted this as a comment on my idea why not music in certain areas play. It would be a nice idea but it can get a little louder and a little bit mixed up because I admit I have that happen sometimes but if the music is more subtle and I walk towards the door and hear “Jingle Bells’ on a small speaker for Registration or a video game song like “Casino Night Zone” for the gaming room for example then I know where I am. Having that subtle speaker next to the door can help with what room you’re about to walk in. Even MegaCon had some subtle background music during the more main panels like the Mass Effect panel and the Flash panel if I remember. Yeah, I noticed with my hearing, it shows that music shouldn’t be so loud to scream over nor too low to hear it has to be just right.

Well, that’s about it for this post. Hoping for anyone that is on staff for a convention reads this and can pass it along because as a nerd I and how big accessibility is becoming it gives more inclusivity. For instance, movie theaters having the audio description option for movies and how Audible is having more audiobooks in their library for people. Heck, back to the accessible document, I helped with making Nemecene being more accessible if you haven’t read the review for the first book. All in all, more places are getting more accessible and now nerd conventions should join in since there are more blind people getting into a lot of these things.

So, what is next for Nerdy Shique Universe? I’m still reading the Alex Verus novels, still on Veiled and hoping to keep on reading. I know the Ipsy October bag will be here and once it arrives I will post about it. So, make sure you follow us on Twitter and stay beautiful while traveling the universe!

Assistive Tech: Meet the Be My Eyes App!

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds traveling the vast universe! I am back with another Assistive Technology post!

Be My Eyes!

Since I’ve been talking about Microsoft’s Soundscape for a while now it was time to bring something new to the Assistive Tech category on here and that’s a handy little app known as Be My Eyes. I’ve known about this app for a few years now and it has changed the accessibility game even for myself since I have to rely on my sighted peers or parents for help but this is a great app to help you when you don’t have anyone around.

The Idea Behind It: Before we get into what it does I feel like talking about the idea behind it. This app’s story started in Denmark in 2012 with Hans Jorgen Wiberg who is a furniture craftsmen that was also visually impaired and all thanks to his work through the Danish Association For the Blind he recognized that the blind people in his community need a little help and with a blind friend having video calls with family members to give him assistance, Hans came up with an idea to use video chat features on someone’s phone or tablet to get this kind of assistance and that deals with volunteers instead.

What It Does? What this app does basically opens up on the main area of the app, when you first register which you need to is that it does ask if you’re a volunteer or the blind person using this app and I’m blind so I have been using it, and it gives you the button when you’re the person using this app as a blind person a button to call anyone and it sends a call to ten people and whoever gets it then they can see through your camera and you ask what you need help with, for example I needed help with money once and Seeing A. I. didn’t have the Currency channel at the time and my little gadget from the Talking Book Library died right about that time and the person was able to help me out. Another example, I don’t like interrupting conversations unless I need to and during a luncheon with the NFB of Central Florida I got a raffle ticket and someone who still had some sight was busy so I opened up Be My Eyes and used it to read out the last three digits out to me. As I said, it can do anything! I remember a British lady did do an interview where she demonstrated how to find a green spool of thread.

I bet you’re wondering, does the sighted volunteer get any information or looks at anything else that might be private, I did go to the panel on this during the NFB National Convention and all they see is what you is in front of them to help guide. One thing is they need more sighted volunteers at the moment and I suggest downloading the app and sign up for it because it would give you some nice work experience. Trust me, volunteering does help and doing it for the blind is even more helpful!

I’m going to try and see about interviewing the Hans since of course Denmark is six hours ahead of us and it would be cool to do a Skype interview with an app developer that has been helping for three years now. Oh almost forgot!

What Platforms Is It Available On? You can get Be My Eyes on the IOS App Store which I did for my IPhone and my IPad one time and of course on the Google Play Store for Android. The great news for anyone who has the Braille Note Touch or the Braille Sense Polaris, you can get it on the Play Store too through those devices because I asked during the National Convention if it could work with Braille devices since now they are building the note takers with cameras and Android tech, don’t worry will get to that review, and they didn’t know. A few days of resting, I decided to test it on my Polaris and it does work! I know it seems odd to hear a Braille device having a camera but they do see what’s in front of them through Be My Eyes and I used it with a pack of Oreos my dad bought for my nephews while they visited and they saw it clearly through the app. So if you have a Note Touch from Human Ware or a Polaris from HIMS it’s available and you just wear the device so in case if you’re somewhere with it and need help with a hand out from a teacher or what’s on the board you have Be My Eyes. And good news is that it’s free by the way. And by the way…

New Features: There is a new feature for Be My Eyes and that is the Specialized Help tab in the app. This is where you can connect with the Be My Eyes Technical Support and also Microsoft! They are trying to grow this where you can suggest other companies and maybe they should have Apple and Google Support for the Specialized Help, or even Freedom Scientific, you never know!

Well, that’s it for this post! Next app I will be talking about is a new one for locating places and that is N Reach! So stay tuned for that! And also in other news, we will be interviewing the band Traverser through Skype! Yay! We wanted to interview them for a while and they’ve been out somewhere in the universe and back for a new performance in August and will be interviewing the guys as they are about to rehearse for the big show! I will try to get an interview with Hans from Be My Eyes since this has been a big help so far in my life, heck even Nerdy Shirts was surprised that an app like it exists. So make sure to follow us on Twitter whenever we tweet about any interviews going up on YouTube and a lot more over @ Nerdy Shique! Until next time, stay beautiful in the universe!

Note: To find out more about Be My Eyes, link included in this post even for anyone who wants to volunteer!Be My Eyes Official Website

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!

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!:

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.