18 November 2015 ⏏ Main Meeting

Meeting Summary. . .
Contributor • Kathy Goodman-Gleason 
BrailleInstituteLogoOur November meeting was well attended and kicked-off with a lively Q & A session covering a variety of end-user, Apple-related, topics.  The highlight of the evening followed with a presentation (details below) by staff from Braille Institute’s Santa Barbara Center (en español clickea aquí) which was enthusiastically received based on expressions of gratitude from everyone in attendance (+20 individuals) after the program. The winner of the drawing for a $100 Apple Gift card, just in time to get their significant other a special gift for the holidays, was Ricky Gonzales!

Tracy Alfino, Low Vision Coordinator, was joined by her colleague, Greg Benavidez. Tracy began with a brief history of the organization, and explained all the free services they provide to help those with diminished vision or no sight. Greg, a multi-generation Santa Barbara native who lost his sight to retinitis pigmentosa when he was younger, demonstrated many of the technologies to us, and was funny, playful, and fully engaged with everyone there. There was lots of give and take, and many outbreaks of laughter as we explored and explained the assistive technologies and challenges.

Greg works with the institute as their computer guru, and he is both PC and Mac literate, as well as expert with all the iOS devices. (see more below)  They evaluate available technologies, and create their own apps and aids to help the blind and visually impaired function more easily in their daily lives, providing one-on-one training for anyone who needs their services. Because iOS devices (iPads and iPhones), as well as Macs, come with so many of those assistive technologies built in, there is a tendency for many needing visual aid to use iOS devices. If you can’t see the menus and buttons, how do you use the devices? While Siri is useful, she isn’t the main answer, surprisingly, as she’s a bit slow for experienced users.

The assistive technologies are fascinating, and have their own learning curve, but function as a built in reader, money identifier, GPS, and dozens of other things. Gestures — swiping left or right, rotating, multi-finger touches — all provide navigation and shortcuts through the menus. When combined with Siri’s help, an iPhone or iPad becomes a very functional visual assistant to the blind.

VisionSim™_logoTracy and Greg also demonstrated an app the Braille Institute developed, VisionSim℠, which runs on iOS and Android devices and simulates various kinds of vision impairments — age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, chronic open-angle glaucoma, corneal edema, diabetic retinopathy, homonymous hemianopia, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, retinitis pigmentosa.  VisionSim™ allows people with healthy vision to “look” through the eyes of a person experiencing one of these degenerative eye diseases.

Braille Institute’s Mobile App Development Team has released other mobile apps including: Big Browser (iOS only), VIA-Visually Impaired Apps (iOS only) and Telephone Reader Program-TRP (iOS or Android). *

To learn more about the wonderful resources offered by the Braille Institute, click (tap if iOS) one of the following two hyperlinks: Braille Institute’s Santa Barbara Center (english) or en español, clickea aquí.

* The following link leads to a webpage with a variety of other vision-related assistive technology apps/resources (iOS and Android) that may be useful when using technology today — Click HERE.

ORIGINAL ANNOUNCEMENT PUBLISHED:  Wednesday, 11-04-2015 – 21:45  PRESERVED BELOW [sans graphics]

Join us in the Community Room at the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society (SBCGS) at 316 Castillo Street, Santa Barbara, CA.  Time: 6:00–8:00 p.m.  Click HERE for directions.  

Returning this month, Tracy Alfino, Low Vision Coordinator at Braille Institute Santa Barbara, assisted by Greg Benavidiez,  Access Technology Specialist who will present an overview of Braille Institute’s services followed by a demonstration of the great accessibility features of iOS in the iPhone and iPad, including Apps that are user-friendly to Users who are blind, visually impaired or have low vision.*  After the presentation, the ever popular Members-Only drawing for a $100 Gift Card redeemable at Apple’s Online or Retail Stores  will be held.  October’s lucky winners were Marjorie Wilser and new Member Heather Pinnick.   Each SBAUG Member who attends the general meeting receives 2 complimentary drawing tickets.  When you renew your membership or become a new member at a meeting or online in the days preceding a given month’s meeting, you will receive 3 extra tickets for a total of five (5) tickets (NEW)!  Any member-in-good-standing who recruits a new member receives five (5) free tickets for the same month’s drawing!  Give a presentation approved by the Executive Board and receive five (5) free tickets for the same month’s drawing!  Additional drawing tickets can be purchased by Members-in-good-standing attending the month’s meeting for $3 each or 5 tickets for $10.

The presentation and drawing will be preceded by SBAUG’s customary Everything-Apple Q & A session.

* Extended Description, in part, by Betsy Cramer SBAUG Secretary:  Most of us with “quasi-perfect” vision take for granted how important sight is when it comes to efficiently using our computers. smartphones, tablets and other IT-based devices! In sharp contrast, end-users of these IT-based devices that happen to be blind, visually impaired or have low vision are confronted by numerous challenges that could lead to despair without knowing about an array of assistive technologies that are available that break down barriers associated with less than “perfect” visual acuity.  We’re very excited about this unique presentation that may very well open-doors for folks attending this evening’s event.

Easy parking, complimentary wireless internet access and good company are always provided.

Please review our Directions to SBCGS Meeting Space webpage.

To subscribe to SBAUG’s Calendar of Events – click HERE.

ORIGINAL ANNOUNCEMENT PUBLISHED: Wednesday, 11-04-2015 – 21:45