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.


Mark chats with Sassy Outwater-Wright, director of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. They discuss such topics as the need to support people with multiple disabilities and the right way to approach a conversation focusing on the concerns of people with disabilities. Sassy talks about the mission of MABVI and how it impacts the lives of the visually impaired people it supports.

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Unless their eyes are closed and covered with soap, most sighted people rarely mistake the shampoo bottle for the conditioner or vice versa. Unfortunately, this is an everyday annoyance for visually impaired people, as shampoo and conditioner bottles generally lack differentiating physical characteristics.

Recently, however, P&G’s obsession with their customers led them into inclusive design territory: they decided to add vertical lines on the bottom of Herbal Essences’ shampoo bottles and circles to the bottom of the conditioner bottles to eliminate confusion for their visually impaired customers.

While medicinal product packaging must have Braille in Europe, no such regulation exists in the United States. Advocates and people with disabilities hope P&G’s initiative will spark a chang in mindset among other consumer packaged goods companies.

Ahmet Ustunel inspired the world when he made the solo trip from Asia to Europe without being able to see a thing. Aided by a GPS that beeps to warn him if he steers off course and a Victor Stream Reader, he dodged shipping vessels and navigated choppy waves to successfully cross the 3-mile strait. His courageous expedition was funded by his winnings from the Holman Prize, a Lighthouse initiative intended to support exceptional endeavors of “blind ambition.” 

While many hands have wrung over the allegedly eminent “death of the printed book” due to e-readers, that’s actually not the case reported reading both e- and regular books. Not exactly a death spiral.

Braille books, however, being much more unwieldy and expensive than traditional printed books, have felt the e-reader presence more so. In 1963, over 60% of blind students used Braille books for reading; by 2011 that number had dropped to just 11%. Experts believe the rapidly improving speech-to-text technology is the primary reason for the drop, but availability and accessibility of e-books has also contributed.

But for those who appreciate the tactile experience of a good read through Braille, along with the cognitive benefits that accompany the act of reading, Harvard is coming to the rescue with reprogrammable Braille books. The method: a stylus imprints dots on a flexible elastic shell (which retains the imprints of the stylus), but readers have the ability to “erase” the imprints, allowing different configurations to replace the originals. This process would make Braille books infinitely easier to produce, as well as minimize their bulk– the Braille version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix(already quite a sizeable tome) contains a whopping 30% more pages than its regular printed version.

While there is still much work to be done to refine the process, researchers are excited by the prospect. Stay tuned for the next evolution of Braille books.

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

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In this episode:

The Interactive Accessibility Podcast (IAP) is an entertaining approach to accessibility. We enjoy sharing our discussions on accessibility and how it relates to technology, real-life issues, information, businesses, and people with disabilities.

At the National Federation of the Blind National Convention on July 1-6 Vital Source Technologies, an Ingram Content Group’s leading e-textbook solutions, showcased new features to its already comprehensive accessibility support for the VitalSource Bookshelf platform.

Vital Source Technologies works to continually support industry standards for accessibility through conformance testing on all bookshelf platforms.  They test offline on Windows and Macs, online on Windows and Macs using standard browsers (IE, Firefox, Safari), and on mobile devices for iOS and Android. All Bookshelf platforms are evaluated using screen readers such as JAWS and NVDA for Windows, VoiceOver for Mac and IOS, and TalkBack for Android.

Vital Source collaborates with accessibility consultants, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to insure the platform is tested in conformance with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

In addition to the client updates being released, Vital Source will provide an updated and independently-reviewed Voluntary Product Accessibility Template® (VPAT®) for each of the platforms. The Android, iOS, Browser, Macintosh and Windows VPAT®’s are available for download.

Read more on VPAT®’s and Accessibility Certification.

In this episode:

IAP Co-host Jeremy Curry is in the principal’s office and is blaming it all on co-host and guide dog Darren. Principal of New Haven Primary School in New Haven, Indiana, Renita Peters, talks to us about Disability Awareness Month and how the school participates every year to bring awareness to its students. And, yes, she invites your very own Jeremy Curry and Darren talk to the New Haven students showing them what it is like to not have vision and how Darren does his work as a guide dog.  


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