Fafsa: Financial aid

When I first started at the first college I had to fill out fafsa so that I could be eligible for financial aid. Which can include grants and scholarships through this website and had to be completed before the beginning of every semester. However, I was convinced that a screen reader wouldn’t work well with it. I was convinced that it would get hung up somewhere between the questions and the edit boxes, that it would just stop reading, or that it would get stuck somewhere on the application. Thus, causing me to forcefully shut down my computer, lose all my data, and have to start all over again. Hey! I’ve seen government run websites before. They’re not always the best for accessibility especially where screen readers are concerned. So I had the financial aid office at my college do it for me.

Imagine my surprise a semester or so ago when I discovered that it was fully accessible. (The new college I’d started attending was no where near me so I had no choice except to find out whether it was or not.) No hang ups, no getting stuck, and no not reading what was on the screen. No sighted help needed. Yay for that! That was a relief.

So if you’re going into college for the first time, are returning back to college, or like me never had to do it until now I want you to know that it works. At least with NVDA. I don’t have any other screen reader to test it with so if it doesn’t work with something please let me know. The questions are easy as long as you don’t let them overwhelm you. You can get a bunch of information from a previous application, or you can just start a new one. However you choose to do it please remember to read all the questions carefully before answering. Good luck!

Amazon music, not accessible

I’m posting this for anyone who may be curious. Do not, and I repeat, do not buy anything that uses Amazon music. I downloaded it because I wanted to try it. Here’s my experience.

I followed the directions, downloaded the installer file, and pressed run. The installer itself wasn’t so bad, but it needs improvements. It’s your typical installer, so if you’ve installed programs on your computer before. This should be easy for you to do.

So, now I’m at the point where I get to open up Amazon music, and play with it. So, I did that, or at least I tried to. Wait! How do you work this thing? *goes back to the instructions*.

*Tries to follow the instructions.* Where’s the file menu? What’s this button for? (No buttons are labeled.) “Why does NVDA keep saying “Pane” every time I try to tab around?

At this point I thought I was doing something wrong. I called my cousin over. After she took my place at the computer I started telling her the directions to add music. Her response: “I don’t see a file menu.” What? That’s the first step, and a sighted person can’t find it either?

Okay, time to uninstall this pile of trash! *goes to control panel>programs and features>clicks uninstall.* *waits for the windows uninstaller to come up. It finally does.* Um… What am I suppose to do here? It keeps saying “Pane!” It takes me a long time, but I finally figure it out by playing with the typical shortcut keys that most installers use.

First I clicked “alt Y” for “Yes I want to uninstall this program.” Then, I waited. After a few minutes NVDA made the sound indicating that there was a progress bar. So, I assumed that it was uninstalling the program.

When I didn’t hear the progress bar indecater any more. I went back to the uninstaller. Okay, time to play with key strokes again “Alt N” for next? Nope! Nothing. “Alt F” for finish? Nope! Inter? Yes, and just like that the program is gone from my computer.

I would like to point out that it took me several tries to figure this out. It didn’t just happen just like that. At last count before I got it right. I tried to uninstall this program at least three times.

Think the IOS app is better? Not quite. Oh sure you can listen to the music you bought. You just can’t downloaded. So, that was $5.00 I wasted. My poor college budget, and my bank account is still crying over this. (not really)

My hope is that someone who works on the Amazon music app for the computer, or the IOS app will see this. I hope that they will work to make this accessible to everyone. It would be nice if the buttons, or whatever they’re using were labeled. Could you guys also work on the installer/ uninstaller?

Thanks for reading!

I can't believe that my professor let me do this! :)

So today I got to do something that was kind of cool.
I got to send an email to my entire tech for teachers’ class that included a link to a screen reader. This was upon my instructor’s request.
How did it happen?
We were talking about what not to do when making your own website, and I said that adding music or some sound that you couldn’t shut off was not a good idea because blind or visually impaired people can’t hear their screen readers. The professor said that he’d never played with one, but that he knew about them. So I said that I had a link to one that was free.
Which screen reader did I choose?
The first one I chose was NVDA because… I like it.
The second one I chose was Jaws because a lot of blind or visually impaired people still use it dispite it’s enormous cost. I have to admit that I still use it for things like Microsoft word ETC. I did point out that it can run in 40 minute mode, but once the 40 minutes are up you have to restart your computer. (for those who don’t know) the 40 minute mode is free. (at least I think that still exists with Jaws) However if you want to run it nonstop you have to buy the program.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because some of you may be sighted, and want to play with a screen reader (text to speech program as I prefer to call it. Mostly because it helps with clarification) Some of you may be teachers, or may be considering going into the field. My goal is to expose as many teachers as I can to this technology so that when they reach the classroom and get a blind or visually impaired student they’ll know how to help, or modify the lessons so the student can get the best from the class.
The website to download NVDA
Website for Jaws and other useful materials
I just had to post this. 🙂
Thanks for reading!

The nice things that my teachers and Professors have done for me

I thought that since the last couple of posts talked about huge egos aned what makes me lose respect for you as a teacher that I would end this little series (if you want to call it that) by telling you some of the amazing things that my teachers and professors have done for me.

Let’s start with Ms. Biology professor with the huge ego since I seem to pick on her a lot.

In spite of me doing so she did do some pretty amazing things for me and future blind and visually impaired students who may have to take biology someday.

To start with she took my suggestions on how to make the labs better. Remember those lab critiques that I posted here? That wasn’t for you guys. I arriginally made them for her to help her understand what I needed for that class. After talking to her about it she allowed me to put them on here as long as I didn’t use her name in them. I agreed, and that’s how they ended up here.

I like when teachers come up to their students who are blind or visually impaired and ask for advice or suggestions on certain things. It makes me feel good especially when I know the answer, or have a good idea for  something that might work.

Towards the end of the semester she asked me about screen readers (text to speech programs) because they were thinking about getting one for the biology department’s computer lab. I suggested NVDA instead of Jaws because 1. it costs less. and 2 it’s better for most things then jaws. She agreed, but I have no idea if she’s looked into it yet. 🙂

I’m glad I could help her in that way, I just wish we could have talked about the note taker situation like adults. Even though I wasn’t supposed to know about it. I’m also glad that her and the rest of the Biology department worked with me, took my suggestions, and implimented them. Even though I had been their first blind student and they weren’t prepaired for me. At least when another one comes along they will be more prepaired for them then they were for me. 🙂

When I was in second grade I had this teacher who was very nice to me. She included me in things, let me draw on the chalkboard (even though I couldn’t draw) during five- minute breaks as she called them. I got to participate a little bit in the classroom as far as I can remember (I don’t really remember much from my early elementary years) (Elementary is also called Gramar school) Anyway, when I got to fourth grade she showed up to the classroom one day with a present for me. It turned out to be a talking watch. My first talking watch. It turns out that she found it in a magazine full of toys. Thank you second grade teacher who shal not be named. I’ve never forgotten your gift to me. 🙂

Out of all the years that I was in school the ones that stick out to me the most are my middle school and high school years. These years were when the teachers really took an interest in me and began trying to help me succeed. First let’s start with middle school also known as junior high. There are four teachers who stick out here the most. The first is the woman who became my vision impaired teacher (teacher who teaches blind or visually impaired people) She was my special education teacher (I have a learning disability in math) Even when she wasn’t the one teaching me she was the one who worked with others to come up with ideas and suggestions that may or may not help me. Some of them worked, and some of them didn’t work as well as intended. Thank you for being my Vision impaired teacher, and thank you for tutoring me in math when I needed it. 🙂

The second was my seventh and eighth grade english teacher. She was observant, funny, and if a student could have teachers as friends she’s one of the best. Thanks for being you. 🙂

The third one was my seventh and eighth grade math teacher. I liked him because he watched my aid work with me on math, and when she was having trouble explaining something to me he explained it in a different way so that I could understand it. He also showed the substitute how to work with me when my aid wasn’t there. Thanks for being observant. You may have thought I didn’t notice, but I did. And I apreciated every minute of it. Thanks for not making me feel dumb when I got an answer wrong. 🙂

The fourth was my eighth grade history teacher. When I asked if she could explain a picture she did it in a way that allowed me to get a picture of it in my head. Thanks for making history fun. 🙂 She also changed the air freshner in her room back to what it had been in the beginning of the year just because I said that it was one of the ways that I used to find her room. Thank you for that as well.

There’s only one high school teacher who sticks out in my mind. I won’t give her name, but she read one of my books and encouraged me to get it published. I’ve never forgotten that, so now I’m kind of looking into self publishing. We’ll see how this goes. Thanks for the encouragement, and you should feel special I remember you for a completely different reason then most of the others. Granted you helped me, but not in a sclassroom “she needs help” sort of way. Thanks for all the help with all the college stuff too. 🙂

I have a lot of professors who’ve helped me in different ways, allowing me to turn in assignments even though they’re late, resending me lost assignments ETC, and making sure I have everything I need for their class. To them I want to say thank you.

There has been two professors who have really stuck out in my mind so far, but for two completely different reasons. One was the professor whom I wrote about in a previous blog who told me who he was, and made the class do it too. Thanks for that professor. I really appreciate it. 🙂 The second was the professor that I had for Government. You taught me a lot sir. Not only that, but you made the class interesting. And I’m glad you described things in detail, so that I could get a clear picture. 🙂

None of you had to do what you did for me, and for that I think all of you from the bottom of my heart. I can’t say it enough, thank you, thank you, thank you.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. It’s been in my head for a while, so today I decided to write it out. 🙂

Thank you all very much for reading it. 🙂

Twit-monger

Recently Yanagram and I discovered a new twitter aplication. Actually she discovered it and sent it to me via twitter. But I had heard of it before. I just didn’t know where to get it.
So what’s it Called?
Twit-monger. In the words of yanagram when she sent me the message through twitter “It’s like qwitter, but better” I hope she doesn’t mind me using that, because it is certainly true.
According to the website:
“Twitmonger is a fork of the no longer developed Qwitter program. However, unlike Qwitter, Twitmonger only has the twitter pieces. We would like to step away from the do everything clients, and rather just focus on one aspect. This is what Twitmonger hopes to achieve.”
Though I am sad to see qwitter go I am very happy about this program that “Just has the twitter pieces.” Because I personally never used qwitter for anything else.
I can’t wait to see how twit-monger develops, what’s added, how things change (if anything changes) etc.
If you would like to download twit-monger here’s the link:
http://twitmonger.shaned.net/
Before you make that final leap and push the download button, please be aware that twit-monger is currently in beta stage.
I would also reccamend that you read the “read me” before you download this aplication as well as everything on the home page of the website. I’m saying this because there is some very useful information on both the home page and the “read me” file.
All of the information in this blog except for the background information belongs to the website above, and is their property.
Thanks for reading!

Why aren't Braille graphs always available, and what are some of the benefits of using them?

For a blind or visually impaired college student taking a course in Economics or a course in math being able to “see” a graph or sometimes multiple graphs can be very important. At times it can even be difficult if not impossible. The same can be said for a student who’s still in school as well.
Why?
There are multiple reasons for this. Let’s name a few shall we?
1. the math or Economics text book may not be available in braille.
2. The student may not know how to make graphs using a braille embosser. Or maybe they haven’t done it in so long that they’ve forgotten how. I’m a little of both. I do know how to emboss worksheets and I use to be able to tell you verbaly the process for embossing graphs, but now I can’t remember all of the steps.
3. The graphs may be impossible or difficult to make. An example of something impossible would be Whisker plots. I’m going to give you as an example of something that is hard to make is Bar graphs. If I’m wrong please tell me.
Now for some of the benifits.
1. You know where each point is located on a graph.
2. You know what the graph looks like with out having to have someone describe it to you.
3. you can plot the points that you need to plot without having to describe them to someone else so they can do it for you. More on this in the next blog.
Thanks for reading!

A website that I wanted to bring to your attention

If you’re having trouble installing qwitter or you need/or want an alternative twitter aplication that is accesible with text to speech programs like Jaws and NVDA then “Easy chirp” formally known as “accessible twitter” may be the right solution for you.
According to the website “Easy Chirp is an alternative to the Twitter.com website. It is designed to be easier to use and is optimized for disabled users.” I don’t know of any web browser that it doesn’t work with. oOf course I could be wrong about that. 🙂
When you go on to the homepage you may notice that it is in beta stage. You may also notice a link that says “sign in” When you click this link it will take you to twitter where you will need to sign in and “authorize this application”
Now that you’re signed in, let’s look at some of the features.
1. Timeline. If you’re using internet explorer you can get to this by simply pressing “Alt plus 1” That little short cut does not work in Firefox though. So you will need to arrow down until you find it.
2. My tweets. which obviously gives you a list of the things you’ve tweeted. Once again this can be reached in IE by using “alt plus 2” but not in FF.
3. Mentions. Which gives you a list of the replies sent to you. Which can be reach with the short cut in IE “Alt plus 3”
4. Favorites. This is a list of all the tweets (updates) that’ve favorited. It can be reached in IE by using “alt plus 4”
And here’s where I’m going to stop. It’s important to note that all of the features that you see in the “tweet menu” have short cuts that work with internet explorer ( IE), but not Firefox( FF.)
I just wanted to make you aware of this website. In case you weren’t aware of it’s existance. 🙂
Thanks for reading!

Can your computer read graphs?

As a blind person I get asked this question a lot. First by my teachers in school, then by my professors in college. I hope that by writing these next few blogs I can educate you on the “graphing” process. My hhope is that you will then educate someone else. Who will then… well you get the picture. lol.
Anyway the answer to this question is yes. A computer can in fact read graphs.
However, instead of asking a person (like me) if my computer can read graphs how about asking them if their text to speech program can read graphs.
So can it?
No. I haven’t encountered a text to speech program or spoken to anyone who uses a text to speech program that has said “hey! You should switch to this. It reads graphs.” If they did, and it was true then I probably would switch immediately.
To recap:
A text to speech program (sometimes called a screen reader) is a program like NVDA (Navigational Desktop access) or Jaws (Job Access with speech) that reads the text on the screen to a blind or visually impaired user. You’ll tell me ifI messed up what NVDA stands for, right?
So I think if more people started calling it “text to speech” instead of “screen reader” they’d have their answer. lol.
That’s all I have for you today. Next week I’ll post the next blog in this… um… Many series? If that’s what you want to call it. lol. I don’t know what else to call it. 🙂
Just to give you a small hint of what I’m talking about, I’ll be discussing how we (the blind and visually impaired) use graphs. if text to speech programs can’t read them. lol.
Thanks for reading!

QWITTER(BETA) VERSION 5.0 IS NOW RELEASED

As most of you know (If you’ve been reading my blog for a while) I sometimes update you when a new version of something I’ve previously written about comes out. This is no exception.
When I wrote “Qwitter for Twitter” I advised you to wait until the new version of Qwitter came out. Well… Guess what? It’s here. As of right now it’s still in Beta form, so if you don’t usually download Beta versions of programs I would advise you not to do that here. On the other hand if you’re one of those brave people (like me) who download beta versions of programs here’s the link to the file.
http://qwitter-client.net/download.php
However, before you push the download button be sure to read the note that starts out with “Qwitter 5.0 Beta 5” DO Not skip over that.
Yeah I know I should’ve written about this sooner, but I was kind of busy with other stuff.
Thanks for your patience.
and
Thanks for reading! 🙂

Qwitter for Twitter

according to the website “qwitter is an accessible twitter client designed for access by the blind” I like this “client” because it is easy to use and you can access it from anywhere on your computer. You don’t even have to close or minimize the other windows you’re working in. If you are an MCTwit user the short cut keys for Qwitter are different than those used by MCTwit. It is for this reason and more that I agree with the website in saying that you should read the “read me” file while waiting on the download. That way you’ll know what you’re doing when you install Qwitter. If you want to download the latest version of qwitter; though my advise would be to wait until Qwitter 5 comes out. According to qwitter’s creater’s tweets (updates) on twitter they are not far from releasing it. Hopefully when the new version of qwitter comes out it will work with windows 7. The version that’s out now doesn’t work with it, at least it hasn’t on my laptop. Also before you install qwitter remove MCTwit and all of the Jaws scrips for MCTwit (if you use jaws). Qwitter works with both NVDA as well as jaws. Here’s the website:
http://qwitter-client.net/
If you have any questions or comments you can send an email to:
Stephieonyoutube@gmail.com
Please put “question” or “suggestion for a blog post” or something like that in the subject line, so I won’t mistake it for spam.
You can also send your question to my formspring at:
http://www.formspring.me/1990Stephie2010
And of course you also have the option of leaving a comment or question and even a suggestion here. It’s completely up to you. 🙂
Thanks for reading!

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