Assistive Technology

Customers of the leading global accessibility solutions provider, The Paciello Group (TPG) – a Vispero company – have been enjoying the benefits of the professional-level accessibility tool, ARC Toolkit, for years. Today, on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we are excited to announce its release to the public. ARC Toolkit is a powerful single page scanner that identifies accessibility issues on a webpage and provides recommendations for addressing them. It is designed to help developers make web pages more accessible to people with disabilities and improve conformance to the WCAG 2.1 Level A and AA guidelines.

ARC Toolkit complements the website accessibility monitoring and analytics capabilities of TPG’s ARC platform, sharing the same robust rules for detecting accessibility errors. Deployed as a convenient Chrome extension, ARC Toolkit is a must-have tool for developers to create websites that are accessible to everyone.

“There are a variety of accessibility validation tools in the marketplace but none that we believe have the power of ARC Toolkit,” says Kathy Wahlbin, General Manager of TPG and a thought leader in the field of accessibility. “We feel this tool is important to advance our mission of making a more accessible web, so we’re making it open source for public use. What better time to do that than on Global Accessibility Awareness Day.”

TPG is excited for the public to experience this new and exciting tool for helping make the web accessible to everyone.

Learn more about ARC Toolkit at www.paciellogroup.com/toolkit or download it from the Google Chrome store.

Contact Marissa Sapega at msapega@paciellogroup.com or Mark Miller at mmiller@paciellogroup.com if you have any questions.

Auticon, a small California-based technology firm, is staffed entirely by people with autism. It was started by Gray Benoist, the father of two sons with autism after he became concerned about their potential job opportunities. “I felt that the gap had to be filled and there was no other way to fill it than by taking action myself,” said Benoist of his decision.

The firm has grown to over 150 employees since its inception in 2013 and offers a comfortable environment for autistic people - meaning no pressure to socialize, dark rooms for working, and even the option to eschew verbal communication altogether by communicating solely through digital messaging. This accommodating culture has led to a high retention rate that most firms can only dream of. 

Kevan Chandler loves traveling but his spinal muscular atrophy makes it difficult: he has never been able to walk on his own and all too many destinations around the world are not wheelchair-friendly.

Despite this, he and six friends decided to tackle the challenge of traveling together sans wheelchair through Ireland, France, and England. One person always had the 65-pound Kevan strapped to his back, so they were all able to enjoy the magnificent sights of western Europe without worrying whether or not a site would be wheelchair accessible. Kevan chronicled his travels in his book We Carry Kevan: Six Friends. Three Countries. No Wheelchair, which will be released in 2019.

Men used to explain their interest in Playboy magazine by citing the great literary content––not the images of scantily clad women. A legally blindman, Donald Nixon, recently took that argument to the next level by filing a lawsuit against the iconic publication alleging that neither Playboy.com nor Playboyshop.com were compatible with his screenreader. It turns out Mr. Nixon actually does want to read it for the articles, and according to the ADA, he argues, he should have every right to. 

Seeing Eye has been training guide dogs for almost 100 years. (Fun trivia: they patented the term “seeing-eye dog.”) The four months of intense training they employ with the dogs concludes with an trip to New York City as the penultimate test to prove the dog can safely guide a blind person. A trainer and the dog’s new master accompany the dog through busy streets and public transportation as the trainer assesses how well the dog navigates the various challenges. “There’s no more intense place than New York City to train the dogs — it’s the craziest environment they’ve ever been in,” said Brian O’Neal, a Seeing Eye trainer.

Seeing Eye is not the only guide dog training school that uses New York City as the ultimate obstacle course; Guiding Eyes For the Blind and the Guide Dog Foundation also use the frenetic city as a training ground.   Marion Gwizdala, president of the National Association of Guide Dog Users, applauds these efforts, noting that even if the dogs aren’t going to be living in a city urban training prepares them for crowded public areas like malls and carnivals.

Seeing Eye has been training guide dogs for almost 100 years. (Fun trivia: they patented the term “seeing-eye dog.”) The four months of intense training they employ with the dogs concludes with an trip to New York City as the penultimate test to prove the dog can safely guide a blind person. A trainer and the dog’s new master accompany the dog through busy streets and public transportation as the trainer assesses how well the dog navigates the various challenges. “There’s no more intense place than New York City to train the dogs — it’s the craziest environment they’ve ever been in,” said Brian O’Neal, a Seeing Eye trainer.

Seeing Eye is not the only guide dog training school that uses New York City as the ultimate obstacle course; Guiding Eyes For the Blind and the Guide Dog Foundation also use the frenetic city as a training ground.   Marion Gwizdala, president of the National Association of Guide Dog Users, applauds these efforts, noting that even if the dogs aren’t going to be living in a city urban training prepares them for crowded public areas like malls and carnivals.

While the accessibility of voting locations still leaves a lot to be desired (an estimated 60% of polling places have impediments for people in wheelchairs according to a 2017 government study), sometimes problems persist even when the buildings and the voting mechanisms themselves are accessible. Lack of training for the people manning the polling places means even the technology for text magnification, height adjustments, or audio features exists, the people who need these features are unable to take advantage of it. The director of Paraquad, a disability services and support organization in St Louis notes that “There is a lot of hesitation and sometimes confusion from poll workers on what they can do.” Other polling stations are using assistive technology that’s over 20 years old. Privacy concerns arise when voters are unable to enter a building and must cast their vote outside - often by telling the pollsters who they’d like to vote for. While there have been definite upgrades inaccessible voting practices in the decades since the ADA was passed, there is still room for much improvement. 

The May updates deliver a broad range of enhancements for using ZoomText 2018 and Fusion 2018 with popular applications, including Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, Microsoft Office (2013 and 2016), web browsers (Chrome, Firefox and IE11), iTunes, and more. Stability, performance and ZoomText/Fusion features have also been enhanced for greater usability and productivity.

 

These free updates can be downloaded and installed over top of previous ZoomText 2018 and Fusion 2018 installations. You can also use the auto update feature which will alert you to the update on the next restart of ZoomText or Fusion.

 

To update ZoomText 2018

To download the full installer for the ZoomText 2018 May Update:

  1. Go to the ZoomText Downloads webpage.
  2. In the section titled “ZoomText 2018” and choose the “All Languages” download link.
  3. When the download is complete, launch the installer to perform the installation.

You can also use the ZoomText update wizard to get the ZoomText 2018 May Update. On the ZoomText 2018 toolbar, choose ZoomText > Manage License > Check for Updates. This will launch the update wizard and walk you through the ZoomText update process.

To learn about the changes in the ZoomText 2018 May Update, see the ZoomText 2018 release notes.

 

To update Fusion 2018

To download the full installer for the Fusion 2018 May Update:

  1. Go to the ZoomText Downloads webpage.
  2. In the section titled “Fusion 2018” and choose the download link for the language that you need.
  3. When the download is complete, launch the installer to perform the installation.

To learn about the changes in the Fusion 2018 May Update, see the ZoomText 2018 release notes and JAWS What’s New in JAWS 2018.
 

We hope you are enjoying your ZoomText 2018 or Fusion 2018 product and would love to hear your thoughts on how we can make it better. Send your feedback to support@vfogroup.com.

ZoomText has been updated from ZT 11 to ZT 2018 (This is using the new versioning number).  The update includes ZoomText and ZoomText Magnifier/Reader. 

Also, Fusion 2018 has been released and is now essentially running ZT and JAWS at the same time.  Getting Fusion now means you get ZT, ZT M/R, Fusion, and JAWS.

Here are the release notes for both Fusion and ZoomText:

ZoomText and Fusion Release Notes

Current Version:

ZoomText 2018 and Fusion 2018 Release Notes

Older Versions:

ZoomText 2018 and Fusion 2018 Release Notes

This document contains the latest information on ZoomText 2018 and Fusion 2018 (at the time of release). This document is divided into the following sections:

  • Changes in each release since version 11.0
  • System Requirements

Version 2018 for Windows 10, 8.1 and 7

Released February 2018

Note: This update applies to version 2018 of ZoomText Magnifier, ZoomText Magnifier/Reader and Fusion.

New Version Number Scheme

Beginning with this release, ZoomText and Fusion will now be numbered using the year it will be shipping in, rather than an arbitrary number. You can think of it as though these are the 2018 models of ZoomText and Fusion coming out, just as they do with automobiles. This new version number system also makes it easier for users to know which versions of ZoomText, Fusion and JAWS go together, and when they were released.

New Lifetime Serial Number

ZoomText product activation is now performed using Freedom Scientific’s Internet License Manager, also known as “ILM”. With the ILM, ZoomText owners now receive a lifetime ZoomText serial number that persists when purchasing future ZoomText upgrades and other Freedom Scientific software products. No longer do users need to enter a new serial number for each upgrade.

For customers entitled to receive the ZoomText 2018 upgrade as part of the SMA program, if you have not received your new ILM authorization code, please contact your distributor (if you are outside of the United States) or Freedom Scientific (if you are inside the United States). Please have your previous ZoomText Serial number available to assist us with emailing you your new Authorization Code.

New ZoomText Setup Program

ZoomText has a new streamlined setup program that makes the installation of ZoomText faster and easier to complete. The Setup interface has been streamlined and modernized with a fresh look that is intuitive and comfortable to use. And each dialog is fully self-voiced providing verbal guidance to help you complete the ZoomText setup in a snap.

New ZoomText Startup Wizard

The new ZoomText Startup Wizard makes it easier for users to choose how ZoomText starts up. The Startup Wizard appears automatically right after you activate ZoomText, but you can always run the startup wizard at any time from the ZoomText > Preferences menu.

New Vocalizer Expressive Voices

All versions of ZoomText Magnifier/Reader now include Vocalizer Expressive voices, providing voices for the most commonly spoken languages and dialects from around the world. When you install ZoomText, one male and/or female voice matching the language of your Windows operating system is automatically installed. Additional voices can be added at any time by selecting Download More Voices in ZoomText’s Voice Settings dialog box.

Improved Performance for All

A wide range of Improvements in ZoomText’s foundation has provided major improvements in performance and compatibility with Windows, Office, Adobe Reader and many other mainstream and specialized applications.

New 4-Monitor Support

ZoomText can now be used with systems running up to 4 monitors and desktops. ZoomText’s innovative multiple monitor support allows you to view different applications on each monitor or different views of the same application on each monitor. The Lens zoom window is also now available when running with multiple monitors.

Localizations Available in this Release

This release of ZoomText 2018 provides a localized user interface for the following languages: Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, English UK, English US, French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, and Swedish.

THE FOLLOWING ITEMS APPLY TO FUSION 2018 ONLY

New “Speech On Demand”

Fusion 2018 introduces a new Speech On Demand option that allows you to mute automatic speech output (such as the announcements that normally occur when you navigate through menus and dialogs), while still allowing you to trigger screen reading commands to hear items of interest, such as the Say All command or Speak the Window Title command. Users who prefer to navigate silently (using their vision or a braille display), but then have items of interest spoken aloud will find Speech on Demand a very welcome addition.

New Convenient OCR (Optical Character Recognition)

The new Convenient OCR feature recognizes text in inaccessible PDF documents, screen images, and image files. When one of these inaccessible items is encountered, Fusion will alert you and provide the option to process the item for readable text. When the process is complete, Fusion will automatically read the recognized text to you. The Convenient OCR feature also allows you to capture and process printed items using a PEARL camera (from Freedom Scientific) or a supported flatbed scanner. Again, when process is complete, Fusion will automatically read the recognized text to you.
 

System Requirements

The following hardware and software are required to run ZoomText 2018 and Fusion 2018:

  • Windows 10, 8.1 or 7 with Service Pack 1 (or later).
  • Processor: 2 GHz i3 dual core processor or similar. i5 or i7 recommended.
  • 4 GB Ram. 8 GB recommended.
  • Video card with support for DirectX 10 or higher.
  • Recommended: 256 MB dedicated video memory.
  • 400 MB hard drive space. SSD drive recommended.
  • 5-point multi-touch display for touch screen support.
  • USB 2.0 for ZoomText Camera support.

The March update of JAWS is here. The following is a list of improvements made in JAWS 2018 between the February 2018 update and the March 2018 update.

To download the latest release, visit the Downloads web page.

JAWS

  • JAWS will now unmute your sound card automatically. In addition to refreshing the screen, pressing INSERT+ESC now also checks the sound device being used by JAWS or Fusion to make sure it is not currently muted or has the sound level set to 0 percent. If muted, it will be unmuted. Or, if the sound level somehow got set to 0 percent, this new feature will raise it to 50 percent, allowing you to recover without getting assistance. The sound device is also checked every time JAWS or Fusion is restarted. If you purposely muted JAWS speech, there is not an issue as this new feature only looks at the Windows setting for the sound card, not the JAWS speech settings.
  • This update includes drivers for the Orbit Reader 20 braille display from APH. Once the March 2018 update or later is installed, your Orbit Reader 20 will work with JAWS or Fusion 2018 without the need to download a separate driver installation file.
  • We've added a new layered command to toggle the Screen Shade on or off. Since some computers do not offer a PRINTSCREEN key, you can now press INSERT+SPACEBAR, F11 as an alternative to INSERT+SPACEBAR, PRINTSCREEN to toggle the Screen Shade feature.
  • The Commands Search along with the layered keystroke to launch it (INSERT+SPACEBAR, J) is now at the top of the JAWS Help menu to make it easier for users to locate this feature. The Search for Commands item has been removed from the JAWS Utilities menu.
  • Resolved an issue with the Bookshare Book Search Research It lookup source not displaying a list of books as expected.
  • When selecting files from a list view in File Explorer, resolved an issue where JAWS would not announce names of files if the list extended past the visible window.
  • Resolved an issue where JAWS would unexpectedly restart when pressing ALT+WINDOWS+I to move to the next inconsistency in a document.
  • When using JAWS over a Remote Desktop or Citrix connection with a braille display connected, resolved an issue where JAWS on the remote system would sometimes close unexpectedly.
  • Added a new Dictionary entry to correct the pronunciation of Aira. It will now be pronounced: "EyeRah".
  • JAWS now uses the Liblouis braille translator for French braille. Note that French Grade 1 and French Grade 2 currently only supports output. If you want to be able to both display and type braille in Grade 1 or Grade 2, you should choose Unified French.
  • JAWS now includes a Finnish language braille table which can be selected in the Computer Braille Tables dialog box in Settings Center.

Amazon Kindle for PC

  • You can now select text in a Kindle book by character, word, line, and paragraph. Once you select the text and press CTRL+C to copy, the Kindle app opens a selection toolbar where you can copy the selected text, highlight the text, lookup the text on the Internet, add a note, and more.

Microsoft Office

  • Addressed issues with JAWS not working correctly with the Spellchecker in the latest updates to Office 365.
  • When navigating in the Outlook auto complete list that displays when typing in the header fields of a new message, resolved an issue where JAWS was announcing the previous item instead of the currently selected one.
  • When spell checking a Word document and you are focused in the Original Sentence field, pressing ENTER now accepts the first suggestion.
  • Addressed reported issues with using Braille Line Mode in Office 2010 on Windows 7.
  • In response to customer feedback, improved the error message that is spoken when INSERT+C to read the word in context is pressed and focus is not in the Spellchecker.

Web Browsers

  • You can now select and copy text from web pages in Microsoft Edge. Currently, selecting by character, word, and line are supported.
  • When navigating by character in Edge, addressed an issue where JAWS was not indicating upper case characters.
  • When using the JAWS table reading commands to move through a table in Edge, resolved an issue where JAWS was not indicating links in table cells.
  • The O and SHIFT+O Navigation Quick Keys now move to the next and previous article on a web page. In addition, the CTRL+INSERT+O command now displays a list of articles on the page. The scripts for navigating by object are still available but are no longer assigned. They can be reassigned if needed using the Navigation Quick Key Manager accessed from the Run JAWS Manager dialog box (INSERT+F2).
  • Pressing APOSTROPHE or SHIFT+APOSTROPHE now moves to the next or previous tab control on a web page. You can also now press CTRL+INSERT+APOSTROPHE to display a list of all tab controls.
  • When encountering a separator on a web page, resolved an issue where JAWS was incorrectly reading several dashes before saying "separator".
  • Addressed an issue where JAWS was not automatically reading dialog boxes opened from web pages in Chrome or when using INSERT+B.
  • Resolved an issue where some tables were not being detected properly with JAWS 2018 even though they worked fine in JAWS 18.
  • Addressed a reported issue with the B and SHIFT+B Navigation Quick Keys not moving to menu buttons as expected.
  • Resolved an issue where JAWS custom labels assigned to edit fields were not being announced in Chrome.
  • If Forms mode is set to Auto or Semi-Auto, resolved a reported issue where Forms mode was not activating when navigating to a vertical slider using the TAB Key.

Windows 10

  • Resolved an issue where JAWS was not announcing results in the calculator in the latest Windows 10 updates.
  • If you use multiple desktops, JAWS now indicates the currently active desktop when CTRL+WINDOWS+LEFT ARROW or CTRL+WINDOWS+RIGHT ARROW is pressed to switch between desktops.
  • When pressing ENTER to select a category or subcategory in the Windows Settings app (WINDOWS+I), JAWS now says which item is selected as you navigate the list in addition to indicating the selection in braille.

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