Conventions: Omni Fandom Expo 2018: The Most Inspirational Anime Convention Year!

Hello Shiquers and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe! I’m back from Omni Expo 2018 and man I am exhausted but feel inspired! How so? Well, this year was a huge inspirational convention and there were things that took place that were things that made me not feel inspired but an inspiration on its own. I will explain as the review goes on.

Disclaimer: This review is based on thoughts, opinions, and observation of the lead writer of this blog. Please respect her thoughts on this convention and thank you!

Man! This year was a huge year for Omni Expo and let’s see let’s start with location!

Location: This year Omni Expo was at the Florida Hotel again since it was a success at this location a year ago. Last year, the format was a little weird because of Panel Room 1 being close to the vendor hall and the Main Events Room and so on, this year they changed it up slightly. Instead of having Panel Room 1 close to Vendors, they put it closer to the Gamin Rooms and Panel Room 2 which 2 was changed and was a bit bigger from last year. As in, PR 2 is not as tiny, I don’t feel like my claustrophobia was being affected, it was just longer and had more chairs in the audience area. PR 1, on the other hand, it was wider! As in, it seems like they wanted these rooms to be bigger than last year’s rooms and glad they went with that especially with more people attendee this convention. Yes, there was a bigger turn out this year that I’ve noticed and glad to see that with this year. Heck, someone even posted on the Florida Mall Facebook saying, “There are so many people with weird colored hair, armor, and more.” This is what happens when you hold a convention, heck I still remember walking past Auntie Ann’s last year as Link and everyone followed with their gazes.

Vendors Hall: This year’s Vendors Hall felt like it was the same size as last year. Even though I was hoping Surreal Makeup would be back for this year since there was one item I did see I would like to get but they weren’t there which sucked a little. Hoping to catch them again somewhere at Holiday Matsuri if we get press again or just buy from their website. I did find something nice that I did end up picking up and that is a Pink Ranger lunch box from the same guy who sells a lot of old school stuff even from Power Rangers. It is the classic Mighty Morphen Pink Ranger and as you know it brings back so many memories and when I was around that age I didn’t get any Power Rangers stuff except the movie items from McDonald’s when I was about to go into the fourth grade and wanted to see that movie but saw Pocahontas instead. This lunch box does come in handy to carry food in even for convention time when I do carry sandwiches and other things, heck I think it’s roomier than my Dead Pool Chimichanga truck lunch box. We did bump into the Japanese snacks guy we always love buying from since he spotted me through my Rarity cosplay and I thought he wouldn’t be selling at the convention but silly kitty or shall I say unicorn me was glad to see him and did get another mystery bag and a bag of strawberry Kit Kats to try out! Look out for a video on that! Besides the vendors, they did bring back some of the vehicles they had on display, which we did hear the Jurassic Park theme song playing in the back and that was next to Rob Simms’s table. We mostly mingled with some of the other guests, I did get to talk to Mesumi Sempai a little bit since I never got to talk to her one on one and she is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. We did talk to Paul St. Peter again since we have interviewed him last year and it was sad that he didn’t bring back Pirate Curses. We did go to two of his other panels which….

Events & Panels: This year was eventful! Even more than last year! I can see why there was a bigger turn out since there were a lot of guests coming including Sawa who was the Japanese singer that was invited this year, we wanted to interview her but due to her being on high demand for interviews and her schedule being busy we will be arranging a Skype interview sometime soon. We did go to her acoustic show Saturday night and if you haven’t seen her live I would suggest to do so! We do have both of her CDs and I will probably do a review of them whenever I can get the time to do it since now I’ve been pretty busy. I did get brought to tears during one of her songs since it was very touching and hearing it acoustic made it even more special. She did do one medley but don’t want to tell you guys about it since she did say not to record that one but the others you could. I did like the song “What Is Wrong with Me?” since that is also a sticker you could get for free at her table and can’t wait to hear the album version. We did go to her panel on Sunday and it was very educational because we get to learn about the bath houses and she shown pictures of the one her family owns. It’s interesting to learn that like with apprenticeships, where you take up some of the more cultural things like being a Geisha and puppetry, it is starting to become a bit of a dying breed due to people in Japan starting to get their own bathrooms to take showers and baths in. If you’re visiting Japan at all, I would say visit them or even Sawa’s family’s bathhouse since we have seen them in anime and movies why not check out the real one? Also, meet Sawa if she is at a convention near you because she is a major sweetheart!

Besides going to Sawa’s stuff, we did go to, well I did go to the Crystal Carnivale ball since it was RWBY themed this year. As you know, Gondras and I are huge fans and well we did have a bit of a hiccup at the door. The thing was Gondras was supposed to be my escort despite not being formally dressed, I thought he would do his Fourth Doctor but he didn’t since it would be a little hot in the Florida Mall Hotel despite it being cold at night, I know the weather should have happened during Holiday Matsuri. Anyways, when we got to the door, they wouldn’t allow Gondras in even though we asked the staff it was okay and apparently word didn’t get to the volunteers at the door. I didn’t want to waste the $5 and went in anyways. One of the staff members did find me and apologized for what had happened at the door and was appreciative for what we have done ever since the convention started. I did spend the rest of the hour there but felt bad for Gondras even though they wanted him back in and I tried telling him to come back which they said it was okay, he didn’t want to. I did try having fun at least and got to see the Nora cosplayer, since she is one of my fave characters from the series, perform even if I couldn’t see it. The funny thing though, not sure if they got the vibe from my dress or something, the room was split into red and white tables representing Team RWBY and Team JNPR and when you entered the ball you were given a pack of buttons with clothes pins in the color representing that team and I was already sitting at a white tablecloth table and asked what color was the clothespin and it was white. I did joke in my notes, “Maybe they knew I had a Team JNPR shirt?” Which is true, I have it in my closet again to go with my new RWBY chiffon skirt and hat! I did reunite with Gondras and we go to the Creating Good Guys panel and Bad Guys panels that night since I am a writer after all and have been on a major writer’s block with my third book and getting back into it, it was interesting in my opinion since it did give me new insights in how I should take my story. I even asked advice from Kaz LeFave and Mimi Jean Pamfiloff recently and I thank them for that. In between both of those panels, we did attend Derek Steven Prince’s Jeopardy panel which I did put on our itinerary as a possible thing to do. We did participate in it and winning lets you spend an hour with him. Did we win? Yes! It was a challenge with most of the questions and we got to learn more about him before the interview which you will catch on our YouTube soon which that was our entire hour with him. He did come into the Creating Bad Guys panel and sit in on it. I think we do have video from that so you will get to see the Good Guys and Bad Guys panels.

Many other events and panels we went to include the two panels that Bruce Carr also known as No Ordinary Balloon Man which if you haven’t catched him at a con, you should because he does a lot of balloon creations. This year he went all Digimon with Wyrmon, Tai, and the Digimon Emperor! We did see Josh Seth stand next to the Tai creation during the weekend which was awesome. What panel stood out between the two he had done was Twisting Up the Odds because what was interesting about him is that he has Asperger’s along with Evan, which we also catch with him and records video of his creations, and it was a very inspirational panel. One thing I have to say is that being disabled people think you can’t do anything and it’s heartbreaking to see that. I did help with making a penguin because Bruce pulled me up to the front due to his story about how he went into balloon making and that he and I recreated the penguin he had made for a boy that not only his condition but was also blind and that he came to me for that it brought tears of joy. Heck, trying to keep my composure here! I still have the penguin and knowing that my final review part may make you guys cry so have the tissues because I may need them too! Another event on a happier note, the Live Script Reading! This year’s script reading was very entertaining and it included Sawa, Paul, Derek, Josh, one of the cosplay guests, and Rob Simms and the scripts they had included from Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, and Fifth Element. Perfect timing for Guardians 2 since they had the scenes with Taser Face and the one where Groot had to get Yandu’s fin back. In the Taser Face thing, Sawa played the part of Rocket and she did pretty well and she did narrate the Yandu and Groot part where Josh was Rocket, Rob was Groot, and Derek was Yandu. He gave him the Veemon voice from what I was noticing and it fit! I still busted out laughing with the human toe part! That still gets me even when how the audio description read it out to me while seeing the movie a year ago. And another event was Josh Seth’s illusion show that he made for Omni Expo! What most people probably don’t know is that he does magic related things and it was an amazing show that he put together for Omni and how he made the tricks. Heck, the final trick, he had the serial number on Gondras’ dollar bill in the end! Holy crap! Two thumbs up if you’re into magic shows. It was my first one live as a blind person since Gondras wanted to see how Josh would make his show seen by a blind person since on Pen & Teller’s Fool Us show one of the magicians did a card trick made for a blind participant in mind. I did participate somewhat in the final trick where he tried asking me to come up but he had me stay in the audience. Don’t want to fall off another stage which…in case anyone is asking…my panel…no one came again! I am not sure if it is my time slot selection since the cosplay contest was going on and hoped to get some remains of Josh’s crowd from his creative panel. Empty and again Gondras had to play the crowd which I do have video from. Not sure if I should bring another panel or not, who knows what will happen next year.

Rating: ::hears alarms:: SUPER CONVENTION ACCOMPLISHED! What does that mean? It means this convention had a major accomplishment since things have gone through the roof! This year’s Omni has been a major inspirational convention because of how we can tackle obstacles and put ourselves out there. Ever since Omni first found this blog all thanks to a small typo, I wouldn’t be still doing press for them to this day and is keeping me hopeful for my future doing press. Not only that, also my dreams to become an Assistive Tech Specialist since I was told to stick with writing except I use tech in order to write and without that tech I wouldn’t be writing this review and Nerdy Shique Universe wouldn’t exist! All I have to say is that all thanks to meeting Sawa, Derek Steven Prince, even getting to be up there with Bruce helping him with re-creating that penguin, it has inspired me to go further. What really makes me go further was that staff member, Roy, who came to talk to me before the Crystal Carnivale ever started and telling me that they have appreciated what not only me but what Gondras and Nerdy Shirts had done over the years. Yes, I went to year one alone and came back with two other members and looking at what we’ve done is a major accomplishment and that really warmed my heart. ::sees kitty minions with tissue boxes:: Thanks! ::takes one:: So in the end, I hung up my Omni Expo badge as a symbol of how much we’ve done in the past and even this year. Thank you Omni Expo for bringing us for press every year and showing that you guys may be small as heck but you still bring people to your convention even if it’s before springtime and had to switch with MegaCon. You guys are still a favorite and keep on going!

Needs for Improvement: Even though this year was really good but I do have two things to improve on…

Improving Volunteers With Escorts: As in, letting them know that even if they don’t have formal wear but let their escorts into the Crystal Carnivale when it comes to being disabled. Staff did apologize to me in person which was the best thing ever and I did write to Omni that there should be something in place to help any disabled, especially blind, attendees when it comes to getting around and even having their escorts with them in a special way. For instance, when I was in the costume contest last year as Link, I had Gondras escort me to where I need to be and they let him help and even handled Ageslash in making it wave. Anyways, that should be a permanent thing for certain events whether it’s being a contestant or going into the formal even if the escort is not dressed for the occasion.
Signings Should Be In A Small Room: What I mean by this is that the lines for the guests were taking up foot traffic in the Vendor’s Room which there were the area for shopping and it was hard to see who was in line for the guests and who was going to a vendor. I think the Florida Mall Hotel can move the walls so it would be a nice section to block off between the vendor halls and have people either peek in to see if a guest is around or see about the schedule on an easel to say, “Hey! This person is going to be back at this time!” Would ease the foot traffic a little or expand the width of the vendor’s area to make it more expanded for signings. I missed it where in the Double Tree near Universal there was a big area for the guests to sign things and that was out of the way of people walking, it was the same way back at the Rosen Center in 2015 and even year one where there was one huge area towards the back of the vendor area for guests so it would be easier to walk around. So yeah, there should be a bigger area for guests and/or make a room separate for them so foot traffic won’t be so obstructed. Always next year folks!

Guest Suggestions: Since I haven’t put this in here, now starting to with new reviews, I think conventions should be suggested some people and take them on a bit more. Here are my suggestions for 2019!

Melissa Fon: Since we have three Digimon guest, why not get someone from one of the most iconic of the seasons and darkest of them all, Melissa Fon who played Rika. She also was the voice of Edward in Cowboy Bebop!
Steve Blum: He was at Holiday Matsuri and would be fun for him to return for another Orlando convention!
Mary Elizabeth McGlynn: Can’t have Steve without Mary since they have worked with each other in the past!
Neil Kaplan: He has not been back to Orlando has he? He plays Halsemon and Hawkmon in Digimon Season 2 and any Voltron: Legendary Defender fans, he is Zarcon for that season!
Team FourStar: It’s been four years since they’ve been back and it would be fun to bring the main three, Lenimpataur, Takata, and KaiserNekko to bring on the fun. Especially with Final Fantasy VII Mission Abridged being such a hit. Try having your fiancé quote Vincent Valentine from this!
Louis Lovehog also known as Linkara: Since MythiCon had ended in 2014, I think we’re missing Atop the Fourth Wall Live and it would be fun to see him do another comic here in the Sunshine State!

Well, that is it for this review! Don’t worry everyone, we do have videos coming up from this year’s event! From my panel to our interview with Mr. Prince, we have a lot! Not only that, I did say we are trying to arrange a Skype interview with Sawa in the near future due to her packed schedule and hoping we can get it up before whatever convention we go to next. Knowing that our time differences well probably be worked around since she is in Japan and we’re in the U. S. would be nice to visit Japan, wouldn’t it? Hey, we have to work with what we got and I did re-install Skype since we have our first interview in the works to make up for not being able to interview anyone during Holiday Matsuri last year. You will see! So, in the meantime, make sure you follow us on Twitter @ Nerdy Shique for all the latest updates for our posts here on Word Press and YouTube. In case if you want to suggest who we should start doing Skype interviews with, would like suggestions and see if we can reach out. We also would like authors too since we do have book reviews here! So, until next time! Catch you all on the universe side!

Advertisements

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!

Convention Impossible: Holiday Matsuri 2017!

Hello Shiquers and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe! I am back and sorry for the wait because I was ill for the past couple of days. When I came home from Holiday Matsuri on Sunday I was fine and when Monday rolled around I got sick with an infection and was in the hospital. I took a few days off to get myself better even yesterday watching NetFlix. I am back and it is time for the Convention Impossible post. This year’s Matsuri was a very fast convention and man I have a huge list of Needs of Improvement and that even includes some points people have been talking about in the Facebook Group which I will touch upon here and from my own obeservations. Let’s get it on!

Disclaimer: This review is based on thoughts and opinions from the lead writer’s observations. Please respect her thoughts on this convention because everyone is entitled to their opinion as always. Thank you!

This year’s event was last weekend and man it was full of attendees in all shapes, ages, and sizes! Heck, even in all kinds of cosplay besides my Pokemon Ranger Link cosplay which people have commented on Ageslash in his Master Sword colors. We didn’t get many pics except for the Cosplay Runway which you will see later on in the posts when we get the pics off my phone since Gondras loves how fast the SE camera takes, now hoping the 8 camera does the same thing when I upgrade next fall.

Hotel: Like last year, it was at the World Center Marriot and still the same hotel and this year was a first which Gondras and I stayed with Nerdy Shirts and two of our other buddies and one of their buddies who was volunteering this year. Our room was in the North Tower overlooking a good portion of Disney Springs and you can see the balloon landing and the fireworks going off at Hollywood Studios which was amazing! Good thing was that we did have a mini fridge and good thing for my cream cheese and travel creamers since I need my coffee and did bring bagels this time around which everyone loved the Everything ones. Good to know for next time! We hardly went to the pantry, except I did get some soft serve ice cream which was really delicious, but we did have sandwiches all thanks to Gondras. Another good thing about the room was that not only we had lamps but we also had lamps with powerstrips which we can charge our multiple devices since you know being press does have its many perks of tech and I did have to recharge my Braille Sense U2 for an entire evening. Good thing on that because we live in the age of rechargeable devices including a PS4 which one of our buddies did bring. Yes, we did have WiFi but it was a sneaky thing where when booking it is included in the rate which that wasn’t mentioned but at least that will be fixed if we do decide to stay there for 2018’s convention if they are there again which I have a feeling they will be with how much it has grown. I do have an Need for Improvement which deals with the room arrangements for people to be placed so that will be towards the end!

Panels: Oh man! This year we had many events to cover since we did have the press pass. The ones we did cover were the panels with Christina V. and Nate Wants to Battle, the “It Gets Better” panel with J. Michael Tatum and Brandon McInnis, the Cosplay Runway Contest again this year since we did enjoy it last year but our pics turned out blurry due to how fast the contestants went on and off stage, the Idol Festival since the Press Crew asked for people to cover that, and the Voice Actors Panel Saturday. Reason for so many events well the two voice actors panels is that we didn’t get to interview anyone which was a sad thing for us but at least we did make it up for panels even with J. Michael Tatum’s stuff since he was one of the people we wanted to have an interview with. I also wanted to interview Christina since I did get to interview Katie Griffin through email and because of getting to talk to the original Sailor Mars, why not the new? I did ask my question during her panel with Nate from my list of questions which I had on me just in case something happened and we can interview and you will see her response in that video.

With the Idol Fest, it was a new thing we have not seen before since this year was the first time for Holiday Matsuri to do the event. For those of you who don’t know what is an Idol Fest, I took a bit of a lookie look and I found something that gets held in Tokyo, Japan every year and has started back in 2010. It is basically a concert where female solo idol artists or idol groups perform in front of people and if you guys know Vokyloid then you may know that is basically what it is. With the performances here, we have the groups lip syncing to the music and play instruments and play the roles as the idols. One of them was even a dancer idol which made it even more interesting. We did get video but there were people in the way of the camera and well…don’t want to be claimed for the performance. All in all it was a pretty good event. I have a feeling it will return next year.

We did go to one 18+ panel this year and it was Mr. Tatum’s Saturday one and can’t really say what happened but if you guys have him as a guest at your local convention and OF AGE then go! Also, if you’re bringing grandma, this is something she may enjoy or not. (I am not kidding someone did bring their grandma!) And also, you may die laughing which Gondras did say I had done a higher pitched “Nyu” than I usually do during this panel. Again, go to it if he is a guest and doing it too. But the other voice actors events I can talk about were the ones on Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, first the Saturday one had Charlotte Chung, Fred Tatasciore, J., and Brandon while Sunday felt like it rotated Charlotte and had Nate and Christina in that one. During Saturday’s, I was able to ask my “Favorite Holiday Memory” question because you are at Holiday Matsuri and actors do have stories to tell especially J. this year and they are very entertaining by the way! While Sunday, Gondras did ask one question about roles that they wished they have gotten but Brandon did re-phrase it and that made it better in a way.

When Gondras originally asked the question which was “Were there any roles they wanted but didn’t get it?” Christina and J. did answer the question Christina did run into that situation while J. says when he doesn’t get it that he lets it go and not let it bother him. Then Brandon chimes in to change it to “What were roles you wished for?” Which was a better question to ask since it was easier for everyone to answer. Thank you Brandon, this one will bein our interviews for now on, especially starting next year when we sign up again for Omni Expo! First Brandon said he would like to be a witch in Into the Woods, J. said he wants something like that too but doing a female voice himself that would be a good challenge for him especially if they made Orlando by. Virginia Wolfe into an anime so he could do both parts of him in male and in female. Nate would do manly men in their early years. Fred would like to go for the Joker and Christina said she would wish she had Stitch or Crush but if she had it in the 90’s, read either Jasmine or Ariel. I could go on with panels but to me the main and special events were the most entertaining since we didn’t go to many fan panels, we did try going to the Kingdom Hearts 15th Anniversary one on Saturday but that didn’t go as well since they were just doing a video type of presentation. I know video is nice but panels can’t just be all video. Plus, we didn’t know what panels were going on in the fan area since the app that was used this year called Cosmunnity was not working right for some reason and there were not many printed schedules. I will touch on that later.

Guests: Even though we didn’t get to interview anyone this year we did get to mostly talk to J. and Brandon at their tables during their weekend. Gondras had to do his Jelly Baby bit since he was the Doctor during the weekend and I did have a few myself since he fed me a few. Lol He did help a girl in the line for the Saturday Voice Actors panel who was going through some nerves and gave her a few to calm them down which he did good on that. I know that feeling when meeting a guest you REALLY wanted to meet and you have a lot of nerves underneath. I do become a little shy around them I admit…but I do go with the flow since they are like us. What was awesome though was having a bit of a tech talk with Brandon McInnis since he noticed my Braille Sense U2 and he gave me a post idea for the Access Tech category on here since it is my handy dandy press device for notetaking and editing now for writing too.

Dealer Room: This year’s Dealer Room felt like it grew a bit bigger this year with more vendors and we saw a lot more people in it this time as in attendees. The layout did change a bit with some artist people more in the front and a few a little spread out. I did get a few things this year and that included a new messenger bag of Roy Mustang from FullMetal Alchemist which I was meaning to get one of Ouran High School Host Club but when I tried looking for the person who had the bag they weren’t there anymore. Apparently, this year there were a few booths that were selling bootlegged stuff and they were kicking anyone who was selling it out and I think the Ouran bag seller might have been one of them. I did get a new pair of cat ears and tail from the fave cat ear seller I always love to buy from. She had a new set of ears and a tail in a new pattern of fur she picked up and called it Latte. It was sooo soft and yes I bought the ears and tail set since I have not gotten a chance to get a tail from her. I did have to buy a tail from someone else to go with the blue ears she made me in the past that I did meet at AFO since I hadn’t found her since 2014ish? I was glad to find her again and I still have her contact. And yes, I ran into my buddy who sold the Japanese Snacks which he was down a few tables from another guy doing the same thing and almost got chocolate mint flavored ramune but it was a bit pricey. This year was a change for my Snacks Buddy since he did mystery bags and I got one for a nice change and I haven’t gotten anything out of it yet due to being ill recently. Not only that, he did get the fave mint Kit Kats but I have been a bit chocolate out due to getting leftover bags of Halloween Mars and Hershey’s mixes even though I have been doing it moderately in consumption. Gondras did get a bag and he did eat some of them that night with me. Another item was something I never thought I would find at a con but on Hot Topic and that is a Pikachu wallet. It is in a clasp format and I do love the clutch like wallets like my Luna and Artemis one from my birthday this year and this one has Pikachu’s face on the front and lightning patterns on the back. I guess I did a pretty good haul this year despite how massive last year’s was due to having a work experience but next year will be better. Gondras did get his copy of Tales of Xillia 2 signed by Mr. Tatum and yeah it did cost a little but it was worth the wait for the entire weekend.

Rating: CONVENTION COMPLETE! I know this seems to be more of an Accomplished but I feel like it is a Complete. This convention went by fast for the three of us and we did get to enjoy the room for two days. I do find it very convenient that we had the room at the World Center and get to the events a lot faster than driving from one part of Orlando to the Disney area. Now onto the last part…

Needs for Improvement: Oh man! There was one HUGE feedback post after this con and I do have my own needs to suggest….

1. For Hotel: World Center if you are reading this why put everyone in the North and West towers of the hotel when the event was ccloser to the East and South towers? Before the convention, the hotel was reserved almost to full capacity and well most of the reservations were kept in North and West which we have to walk a good distance to get to the southern part of the main floor. Not only that, the first day of the convention, we had to park in the southern parking garage and you can imagine how far the boys had to walk to get all of our stuff. I was waiting for the camera to charge before the J. and Brandon panel. Plus, during the night, the North and West parking lots were full due to how many people were staying and we had to park on a side street which is pretty dangerous and wishing that the parking was better and even people talked about that on the group and yes, they are listening well the convention is and they said that the hotel will do better next year. I am hoping and with the amount of attendees staying at the hotel all four towers should have equal access to have reserved rooms. As in if both South and East get filled up then use the North and West towers not the other way around because it does save on time, yeah it would be a long walk to the pantry and restaurants but they are pretty much in the middle of the atrium connecting to the North and West towers, the lobby, and the pool area. (Man, I should be working for the Marriot, lol)
2. Having Volunteers Guide Blind People: Oh man, another thing I wished that was there was not only more volunteers on the floor which they should have been all over and that are ones that can help the blind. Maybe I should suggest to the admins about this and that is able to help any blind attendee that may be going to convention because reading a map is not always accessible. Trust me, I was lost getting to Main Events on Saturday. As the only blind press person, it is not easy walking sometimes if you don’t know where to go and I did have a hard time asking people since they point. I can’t see pointed fingers so I finally asked if anyone will help guiding me and someone did. Glad that helped but would be nice to have volunteers to give that sighted guide too which I remembered year one of Omni Expo where I had a volunteer do that for me and a lot of cons should have that too. There are times when people do have disabilities including wheelchair alongside other things whether it being hearing impaired or sight impaired, having that volunteer to be the sighted guide or being there to help push a wheelchair can kind of help. I should write to Holiday Matsuri to have volunteers to be sight guides once I finish and post this.
3. Guest Relations: I know I mentioned this in reviews on this con in the past but they are back again and it deals with interviews. Last year, I was told to contact the Guest Relations ahead of time even though we got the interviews last year. This year, I just did that and was told to send the interview questions and I did and this was months before the convention and then didn’t get any contact as the week led up to the event and got the response “Sorry! Slots are full!” This did upset me and yes I understood that there was no guarantee of getting one but when the event came, I was not the only one who went through the same thing. A guy I met at the Cosplay Runway had the same thing happen to him when he had known two of the guests and they wouldn’t let them do an interviews he wanted either. I am not sure who got the interviews but Gondras wondered if it was favorites or something because we have done interviews in the past at Holiday Matsuri and I have met some of the press teams and they are like us. But when I mentioned to Mr. Tatum about what had happened and he explained that it was due to their schedules being full. I am now wondering by “Slots are full” are they talking about their event schedules as in doing the panels, events, saying “Hello” to the V. I. P. pass holders, etc.? Or did they get interviews so that is why they are “full?” I am kind of confused on that especially now that the event has passed. I did see open opportunities at the signing area, even though the dealer room is loud like crazy, where interviews can be done with them. I am not sure what is going on with how it is treated. I am hoping next year this gets fixed because I felt like we went through the same thing like with Mega but at least we weren’t pushed to other people that I can’t see their work.
4. Cosmunity App: This one was the biggest of them all with complaints and thank goodness I heard it all over even in our hotel room with the complaints. The Cosmunity App is pretty much like Event Bright where you look at the convention schedule that way and pick where you want to go and apparently that is how you get the map for the entire floor. Apparently, people had major problems with this app! Not only you had a lot of attendees trying to access the Hotel WiFi but also getting onto the app at the same time causing it to go either slow or crashing it and that does happen with apps. Even when Gondras plays Brave Exvius there were times when it does crash due to some bugs. I am glad I am hearing about this since I didn’t have the app nor know that Holiday Matsuri was doing this and with the amount of attendees at this event, especially when you have J. Micahel Tatum at this thing, you draw a huge crowd and technology can’t keep up with that connection demand. Even Brandon McInnis, who works on software himself, was surprised knowing about the app from us. The HM staff did say they are working with the developers of the app to make it better for next year. Another part since this app was bad…
5. Having Printed Schedules and Books Again: Even though there was a con guide this year but there were some print outs according to some people that didn’t have the full schedule. If you don’t have an app that works, having a print out does help and I was glad for press that the Press Staff did give us the panel schedule for the ones that can be covered and a nice tip for anyone who does look at the schedule beforehand since they do post it on the convention website is to use either Google Sheets if you have an Android device or Numbers if you have an Apple Device. With these apps, you can create the schedule by putting in the panels or events you want to go to and what days they are on, what panel you are hosting, even what day and time you’re checking into your room and place what day and time you check out. I used Google Sheets and memorized the events pretty easily but if you need to check the schedule you made, you just take out your phone or tablet and access Sheets or Numbers since they can run offline and check that way. Also, make sure your device is fully charged and if you can’t see then make sure the voiceover is also on. Lol Still, having those print outs can also help in case if the location of the event or time gets changed which you can compare with what you typed out.
6. Panel Form: Yes, I have to mention this as my last point because I feel like it is a huge thing to mention and that is the panel form is not as accessible as it was back in 2013; I did bring Blind Experience back then and the form was very accessible with JAWS on my PC and had no problem submitting it but this year since I want to bring Nerdy Shirts’ idea to life I had a hard time filling out the form. Now to see through my blind eyes and that is I had a hard time navigating through the edit fields, when I tab around it goes to the very bottom, I had to use my arrow keys to navigate and some of the areas weren’t even read out by JAWS and then when I clicked “Submit,” I thought it did until a month before the convention where it was not in. I even tried redoing my password and well the panel staff took a bit to get back to me and the newer passwords they gave me didn’t work. I did let it go but I did need to mention the Accessible Problems. I don’t have problems with the Press Form for the past three years already and it does work like a charm and even getting our Press Passes through the Event Bright app was even more accessible but the Panel Form was not and this should be fixed for next year. I am not sure if the staff were expecting someone to fill out the form with Zoom Text but with JAWS it is not working someone should make something to help work with JAWS or Narrator since all Windows PCs come with that.
Well, that is it for this review. I know the Needs for Improvement were a bit harsh but I did say this was based on my observation of the con and I did take some notes to heart and mind because not all conventions are perfect. I am hoping some of these issues do get fixed and knowing with the huge feedback post on the group did catch the staff’s attention. Next will be my event posts with videos and pics we do have for and can show them to you guys! I will updating on the Twitter account as usual so you guys would be in the know. Oh right…Gondras is also ill so hoping we can get some of the other videos up in time for 2018. Apparently, there has been a bug going around and hoping you guys don’t get it and if you did, get better soon because it is not fun having it since I have gone through it in the past. So, until next time catch you on the universe side!

Access Tech: Android Training for All Part 2

Hello Shiquers and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe and today I will be doing a part 2 on the Android Training for All post from this week because something has come up!

Android Tech Used on Braille Devices!

So, I have been listening to one episode of the Tech Doctors Podcast hosted by Robert and Alison who look into blind tech on their show and what is out there and what they have experienced within their own tech bubble and this episode dealt with Braille Notetakers.

I know what you are wondering along with some people and that isn’t Braille a “dead language?” It may be “dead” to some since we do use technology and this system of dots was developed over 200 years ago but a lot of blind people still use it, even me! I use Braille on a daily basis to label the items I use and read textbooks, even take notes on my own note taker known as the HIMS Braille Sense U2 which I also use when I do press jobs at conventions to develop my reviews. What is great like with the phone and computer, Braille has been catching up in the tech department and a lot of people do use Braille devices in order to take notes, read books, and even use it in Pages on their phone like I had during the last NFB meeting. Since I have mentioned the Android training for All post, apparently with the new note takers being made they are being built to include Android tech to run with them and the most two recent devices are the Braille Note Touch by Human ware and the Braille Sense Polaris by HIMS which is the same company who developed my Braille Sense U2.

What Are They Exactly? Well, the Braille Note Touch is a tablet and a note taker put together where you use touch Braille to type and it shows up on the tablet underneath along with a Braille display like with a lot of note takers. The tablet runs on Android systems and you can use the many Google apps like with the Galaxy tablets and you can also separate the tablet to use on its own from what I remembered listening to the podcast. There are some difficulties such as having a hard time correcting what you have typed and pairing with other Bluetooth devices like the Apple ear pods for example but it is pretty interesting that Human ware has developed this kind of device since a lot of blind users do use tablets to get around when it comes to tech stuff. While the Braille Sense Polaris, on the other hand, it is more of a sleek version of the U2 and it has capabilities where people can use the Google Play store to get apps to use that you find on the Galaxy Tab and there is even a touch area that you can use finger gestures like on an Android platform based tablet or phone and you can still take notes with it too. What I did hear is that it is buggy despite the steps HIMS has taken to go the next tech mile but they are looking into fixing those which hearing about these features makes me want to get one but I have to figure out Android first and that brings me to the next idea…

Bringing the Android Training to All: Like in the last post, a lot of blind people are stepping up their tech game and I did mention what if someone I meet if I were teaching wants to learn Android instead of Apple and this is a perfect example of that Android training to anyone who is in V. R. too (Vocational Rehab.) Since Braille note takers have helped the blind for many years, especially with new developments in tech and how much companies are competing and keeping up, taking that extra step into the Android platform makes it even more of a demand to know how to use it.

For instance, I have gone through training in knowing how to use my Braille Sense QWERTY model which is basically if you take your computer’s keyboard and add a Braille display to it and type on it like if you were in Word and I also had training with my U2 to get used to the chords and shortcuts on the Perkins Brailler Style keyboard you see me use today. If I were to get the Polaris, I would still need that training in getting around the Android interface part of the tech to be able to transfer to my tablet since it would run the same software. So, I would say that would be a major win with that training, right? Plus, with the Human ware device, you would also go through that same kind of training due to the tablet portion. The good thing is that Perkins does offer the videos to learn the Human ware Braille Note Touch to get around the Android Touch and how to use the many apps as well. I did look for the Braille Sense Polaris but all I can find at the moment is the User Manual which does offer how to use the device but it is good to have someone there to train you and by the way the manual is offered by HIMS even as a PDF. And I did see if Perkins E-Learning offers any videos for what I am going through on my Galaxy Tab, only thing I have found so far is just a video about how to set it up for people with low vision and how to modify the colors on the screen’s wallpaper and the keyboard. Hey, what about navigation? Oh well, I did post a comment to see if they have something or may make something because that can be handy.

Still, I am also thinking that a lot of people do learn differently and having one on one training can help not only the user but also any new A. T. Specialists that may run into a device like this too and knowing Android beforehand would prepare them for it.

Not only that, I did hear in the podcast that the reason why the Polaris is going up in tech is that the U2 is going to be at its end in tech compatibility soon which will be sad since I had this thing for two years and looking at the Polaris I may switch at one point to keep my tech studies up and of course another thing is that with the Android tech being in these devices school work and any projects from work can be accessed through Drop Box which can be a very handy thing with how we use Google Drive, ICloud and even other outlets to save work on. I am thinking of upgrading but waiting when this device has gotten out of the bug stage since that can happen and I did hear that one bug that needs a major fix is editing documents where the document can be corrupted if you go back and do the usual and fancy editing work. I will have to wait and see but in the meantime will be using my u2.

New Conclusion: So, since we have talked about the various points with the Android training in that last post and now expanding it here, Braille Note takers are also becoming more advanced and using the Android platform to make Braille even more accessible and “alive” as you will since most people think it is “dead.” Looking at these two new devices shows that being trained in Android even if you are going to school and planning to get a job can be beneficial and shows that Android wants to step up its game to be part of Braille even more. I want to see Apple get in on this too since you can use Braille devices with Apple products, since I did say I use my U2 with Pages and navigating with shortcuts, it can be an interesting thought to put IOS tech into these devices too but having Android for now is a good start and gives Braille a new look. And of course with the training, it does expand the A. T. Specialist’s toolbox to learn these kinds of devices if they run into someone who has one and can give advice or training to help them navigate the product more. Depending on what kind of company user if it is Human ware or HIMS, I would say take a look into these devices and it may take a lot of saving because the prices are pretty steep but it is a good investment since I have used the Braille Sense QWWWETY and U2 for the longest time and does save you time and pain in the classroom, trust me it was not easy carrying and using a Perkins Brailler in class.

Well, that is it for this post. I know I was going to talk about the gaming bit but this came up and wanted to expand this point because hearing about how Braille tech expands is even more awesome! So, I would stay tuned for the gaming post because it is coming!

Access Tech: Is Discord Accessible?

Hello Shiquers and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe! Today I will bringing you an app review!

Is Discord Accessible? Today I am going to be reviewing an app for chatting even when you are a gamer and that is Discord. This month AIM is going away forever and found out from someone I used to be buddies with on AIM about Discord and took a look into it and decide to test it out and both on my Galaxy Tab and my IPad. All I have to say is that this this was the most frustrating app ever which….

Disclaimer: This review is an honest one based on thoughts and opinions from the lead writer of this blog! Please respect her thoughts on what she says in this review. Thank you!

I noticed how the download speed is different for both tablets and that is it was very fast on the Google Play Store while it took a bit for the IPS App Store because of the 11 updates to the store and my Mini 2 is slightly old and had to wait a little after it loaded to be installed on my app. With my phone, on the other hand which I had to get it there, did download a lot faster due to the Re-Download button. I think with apps or anything my phone is faster due to it being more of the 5 series and knowing it will be faster when I do upgrade to the 8. With the PC, since I use Windows 10, it did take a bit to go through a security scan since we don’t know what can be out there and I think with apps on Windows it takes a bit to run and install because of the install prompts you have to go through like with most software and programs. At east with an app download it does not need the restart like JAWS and ITunes does.

Navigation and Logging In: I did make myself an account and was able to login easily on both platforms with a keyboard and did have to reset my password on my phone and computer due to forgetting it. The navigation…oh…man…it sucks with voiceover. On my Galaxy Tab, I have to swipe around to get to other parts of the app and some buttons don’t get read out by Text to Speech and goes the same with on my PC and IOS on both the phone and IPad. I wonder why some buttons are “Unlabeled” according to the screen readers? I am not sure if this app is not built to be able to be accessible with any voiceover software which can be handy, I am now wondering if anything with magnification can work with this app since it can be used on devices and with programs from Freedom Scientific too.

With searching for friends, it gets very tedious since it looks different on both platforms. With Android, the search field asks for the tag number, which is a four digit number you get with your username when you register and this field also asks for an email if you don’t have that number. While IOS, you type in both the username and the tag number because if you just put in the number it gives you the message, “We are more than just numbers.” So, I tried that with someone over and over again and had problems with it. I even tried telling this same friend to find me and he couldn’t either. It did take us a few days and well my best buddy Tobi was able to find me very easily while this one dude, Kilt Man, we came up with that I should create a server and I had to create it through the PC version because I couldn’t find the “Create Server” on the very left. I did research into it and I tried looking on the left and of course I hear the “Button Unlabeled” every time and even tried tapping on random buttons which gives me the “Add a Friend” area, “Start a Conversation,” etc. Speaking of that, there is a field where you can search for a conversation and I was able to access it easily on the Android version but won’t on the IOS version where I hear the plunk sound if I tried to do anything. Did the server thing work? Yes it did and he was added to my friends list when he sent me a request.

What about the chat features you may ask? Apparently, like with Skype, you can do a video chat or at least a regular chatting and I was able to test it with Tobi and it worked very well on my Android. I think it will also work with group chat if I do have some friends that want to do it since I remembered doing group chats back in the days of AIM.

Verdict: Is it accessible? It can be but it is not accessible to the point of screen readers. While I had the problems I did, I did reach out to the Discord Twitter page and talked about the issues with it and they responded that they are planning to make it accessible to people who are color blind and for screen readers. I am hoping soon because I went through a lot of frustrations and patience to get around these issues especially getting people to find me. What I would also like to see is an easier person search as in having one place for the tag number and another field for just the username like in the days of AIM where you can search through just username or just do it with tag number. Also, should explain the formatting of how to type both a lot better since I am a beginner with this I didn’t know I had to capitalize letters in the names nor include the number sign or not include it. It is like with explaining how to create a password by saying, “Hey, you need this and make sure you do this.” And finally, for screen reading purposes, make the labels to be seen for screen reading even on devices because I don’t know what “Button 67 Unlabeled” is just put the word for it to read so it would be easier to know what it is and know that it is there for the person who is using it that may be blind or not.

Rating: 2.5 Star Paw prints Out of 5because of some of the things that do need to be improved. It is a good app and it is a good substitute for AIM but it needs to be fixed for better accessibility and easier navigation too because if I am using a keyboard with my Galaxy and IPad I want to be able to go with the arrows to get to the field or swipe very easily to where I need to be.

That is it for this review on Discord. Is there any other apps you want me to take a look at and review, I am open to it because as a blind user and listening to all these podcasts that suggest different apps, I want to be able to put them to the test and see what people are talking about and say, “Hey! It is good! Check it out!” Next post in my Access Tech category is my take on accessibility in gaming, oh yes I am doing my thoughts! Until next time!

Access Tech: Android Training for All!

Hello Shiquers and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe! Today I am starting the new category here and it deals with Access Technology which is my career goal at the moment. I am planning on becoming an Assistive Tech Specialist since I have been using JAWS, IOS, and even cross platforming into Android at the moment but I am having issues with Android with my Galaxy Tab E and that wanted me to go into training for it but the problem is that there is no training for anyone in Vocational Rehab except if you have a job here in Orlando. I am not sure what is like everywhere else in the states especially where you guys live but this first post will be talking about why everyone should get the equal access and training with this platform.

Disclaimer: This post is based on thoughts and opinions of the lead writer of this blog so please respect her thoughts and opinions on this subject. Thank you!

Nowadays technology has been advancing a very fast rate and have been not only keeping up but also competing against each other with how consumers have been buying their products. We have Microsoft, Android, IOS, and now Google coming in with their tech with Google Home and now the new Pixel phone and not only that new IPhones with the 8, the 8+ and the X and of course the new Galaxy S 8 and 8 Note. And recently Microsoft now discontinuing their Surface Pro line at the moment which they are planning on bringing something known as the Andromeda. (Knowing we will hear more about that later on.)

Equally, we do see a lot of people picking up either an IPad or a Galaxy Tablet but the visually impaired like me do wonder which one they want to get. Most of the time we are told that IOS with their devices are the best and I agree since I have been using my IPhone 4S from 2013 until I upgraded to the SE last year and will be going to an 8 next year with my upgrade and I do have an IPad Mini 2. But there are people that do not always want the IOS devices and that is going to Android since they have been advancing in the Accessibility game for a while now with using the Text to Speech features that are available like Siri even with Google Talk Back. Like with JAWS and Siri, there is something we do have to use and that are gestures, Bluetooth keyboards for the tablets and phones, and well even training for the new platform.

What do I mean by “training?” Well, like any new program, not everyone is well equipped in using it once that item comes out of the box and learning how to use it does become a major help. For instance, I had to go through training with JAWS when I got into UCF and once knowing the basics of navigating the net, using email with JAWS, and Word and some Excel I was able to get around and later did get more training while in Daytona Beach to expand what I have learned during my college days. Even when I got my new IPhone 4S back in 2013, I had trouble using Siri for my first time and didn’t know how to answer calls either so I had to get training for it to learn the basics and that also got expanded in Daytona and now I am able to navigate it and pass my skills onto my IPad and using my Braille Sense on my phone and a keyboard on my IPad. With Android training on the other hand, that is what I need with my Galaxy Tab E which was given to me by my phone carrier as an oops with my bill. Yeah, I pay extra and do have a keyboard and stylus but I do need extra help and training needs to be one thing to help but unfortunately since I don’t work or not a student at the moment V. R. can’t support it which is a sad thing.

Why Should It Be Equal to Have Everyone Get the Training? Because not only a student who would get their first Android phone or tablet for studying or even work if they are going into the Work Force, having this training will help gain the skills and knowledge of a newer platform and also having this knowledge can help grow new A. T. Specialists, like me, be able to help anyone who has gone into the training itself. I mean what if someone says while at a Lighthouse or a Rehab Center and says, “I can’t handle Apple’s operating system, can I take on Android?” The person probably working there may say, “We only teach Apple.” Or “I don’t know how to use Android.” This would be a bit of a pickle and that is why having these kinds of classes can help everyone as a whole even if they don’t have a job and want to gain extra tech experience before they get that job. Plus, learning at this stage can prepare for any tech jobs that may require someone to know both Apple and Android for instance what if they worked for Best Buy or CompUSA and need to explain both platforms for the devices and having that knowledge can help what the person is looking for or help with tech support when issues do arise.

Also, another thing I should add, a lot of companies have been making their apps to be accessible on both IOS and Android for the blind. For instance, I love using the app known as Be My Eyes where people around the world volunteer to help people see through their cameras on their devices what is in front of them whether it being a toy or pack of mints, heck I even used it to count out money once, this is a handy app and it was only available on IOS for a while until they developed an Android version and it’s out now. I even demonstrated this app in my Access Tech panel at Omni this past year to show how it worked on IOS and I can imagine being as good on Android.
What about Online Resources? Yes, online resources are out there to help but there are times where it doesn’t always work. My example is when I was learning the different types of gestures with my Galaxy Tablet. I am familiar with the ones for Apple but with Android it is not easy. There are the single finger gestures like for double tapping and swiping like on Apple and there are two finger ones which I have tried and don’t seem to work, I even tried out angular gestures and they don’t work except viewing notifications. I’d rather have someone explain it to me in person because that is how I usually learn the best and that is another thing and that is not everyone can learn from just reading a web page and with how much of a complex system Android can be it would be easier if someone does have a class.

Another thing is that the web pages with some of the items work for some and not work for others as in different keyboard commands for instance when I first got my keyboard for my Tablet some of them don’t work except causes the Tablet to move without making that command in the right sequence. I think some of the commands may work for other models but maybe not for this one so training may help there with someone who may be able to help with what might be happening. And another thing is having that person one on one with you can help bounce ideas to see about working on the problems that are in front of them with how complex Android can be.

Conclusion: Training in Android should be for anyone who is visually impaired that may want to explore a new platform that would probably fit their needs especially if they go into a job position that deals with using different kinds of technology and it would help any rising A. T. Specialists that may have students that want to learn it to have the skills and knowledge in teaching it to who wants to know this platform and its accessibility apps that are being developed for it. Like with the sighted world, we want to be able to be included in that world and competitiveness in the job world by showing that we can work in new tech fields and bring it to our professors and bosses when we get there.

So, that is it for this post! Next I am hoping to bring my Discord review since AIM is going bye bye next week and want to give someone an option that may be visually impaired a new app to try out. Among this category, I will also be doing a post on my take about accessibility in gaming since that is becoming a hot topic this year going on into 2018! So, until next time especially after Holiday Matsuri 2017 where we will have our coverage from that! Catch you on the universe side!