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!

Technology: Introducing N Reach!

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds and welcome back from traveling the vast universe! Today will be a twofer special of posts! First a new app for you all Visually Impaired Nerds out there!

Introducing N Reach!

No, it’s not spelled wrong, that’s how this app is spelled and it’s kind of clever even with its website. This is a new location app that was introduced at the NFB National Convention this year and I am an affiliate with these guys since I have been using Soundscape and that app not always picks up on locations but this one will. Let’s get into what it’s about!

Behind the App: Created by James Dye and Steven Moldenhauer, this app is created to help people understand the world around them more by being able to have businesses make their signs more accessible by buying beacons to place with their signs that is connected with this app. Once the beacon is set and activated and someone has the app on their phone then they will get a message sent to them telling them about the business and what they offer. Heck, even menus to the place if it’s a restaurant. I have met the creators and James Dye is visually impaired himself and has been a big drive in accessibility and helping businesses to become more accessible while Mr. Moldenhauer is a thought leader and technologist that makes many technology solutions to help businesses spread their messages.

This is a great idea because as a blind person myself it’s sometimes hard to find a specific place and asking people where it is and being directed can be a pain, trust me, try being at one place and having people point and say, “It’s over there.” With an app like this, it can give you the information about the place because of this beacon or beacons since a business can get these through….

Affiliates! As I mentioned above, I am an affiliate with N Reach and in order for businesses to know about this I do get in contact with some and have done it with a few already or show up in person and hand them a card which an affiliate gets given a pack of a hundred of these things. It gives the information to where to go to sign up, what pricing packages are there in case you want just one beacon for one location or more to put on locations across town. It is a service so I will make sure to include the link which is….

For Businesses: For any businesses who may be reading this and want to know more about N Reach and what its message, what price packages are available to you you can go to http://www.nrea.ch for pricing, videos to show what this program is about, even what it can do for someone who is a customer with a visual impairment that comes in regularly to your business either alone or with friends, since I do hang out with my gal pals once a month and if a new place comes up on the N Reach app with the beacon I can open it up and have it read out to me or them for the info. It does help us a lot even if we’re traveling alone. So make sure you check out the link and I will place one of their videos in this post to see what your business can do when it comes to accessibility.

That’s all I have so far. If you have a business and may want your customers, blind or even sighted people can get this app, you can go to http://www.nrea.ch for all of the info about pricing and the packages available. If you guys want me to interview the founders, I will gladly do that since we have recently did another Skype interview with one of our local bands in town. Which reminds me, I need to get in contact with the House of Blues about N Reach!

That is it for this short post on a new app, also if you want to be an affiliate yourself to help your blind community members or your Blindness Organizations, you can also check out that link I have included because we need more businesses to join this network. Stay tuned I have another post for you all today! Follow us on Twitter @ Nerdy Shique for all of our updates and will even update with my second post. So stay beautiful while traveling the universe!
Official N Reach Website

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!:

Accessibility: Using Soundscape in Miami!

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

Using Soundscape in Miami!

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

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

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

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

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

Accessibility: Using Soundscape At Millennia Mall!

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

Using Soundscape in Mall at Millennia!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hot Cash Haul April 2018!

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

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

Additional Items:

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

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

Soundscape!

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

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

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

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

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