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Technically Speaking APPetizers: Byte size tidbits

For your reading convenients below you will find all the Technically Speaking APPetizers: Byte size tidbits published in 2017

January 2017

Using Voice Over to Edit Text in iOS Our iPhone is more than a cell phone for many of us dealing with vision loss. It is our multi-purpose tool that we use to travel to the store, to identify a can of soup on the shelf, to connect with others via social media, or to write that great novel. I use my iPhone and iPad to correspond with family and friends, to write various articles, and to create training resources. Getting Started: I’ll explain how apps are designed to work and how to move and interact with screen elements using VO. I’ll show you how to select and edit text elements using the VO Rotor. Finally, I’ll share some great resources on using gestures, keyboard and braille display commands. How an iOS App is Designed: iOS apps are designed for the user to interact with numerous, individual components called screen elements. Screen elements may include text fields, buttons, links, tables, containers, etc. You can move forward or backward from one screen element to another by performing a VO gesture or a command from a wireless keyboard or a refreshable braille display. The VO FOCUS will move and VO will speak the item and/or display the item on a refreshable braille display. This is how VO can read a web article in Safari, a text message, an email, or a best seller in iBooks. The ROTOR tool allows you to select the type of screen element you want to navigate in iOS. Edit a Text Field: Once the VO Focus is on a text field, you can edit the contents. You can type or edit an URL in the Safari Address Bar, send a text in Messages, or reply to an email. Use a Gesture/Command to move the Insertion Point or VO Cursor to the location you wish to edit. For example, “Single-Finger-Double-Tap’ will take you to the end of a Text Field. Use that same gesture to go back to the beginning. In iOS, the “DELETE” key removes a character or unwanted space to the LEFT of the VO Cursor. You can highlight text and use the DELETE key to remove it. The “ENTER” key creates a new line. The ROTOR: Use the ROTOR Gesture, “Two-Finger-Rotate,” to set the ROTOR by line, word, or character. The Gesture is like turning a knob or twisting a cap. Select LINE and the VO Focus will move to the next line and the VO Cursor is placed at the end of the line. Select WORD and the VO Focus surrounds the current word. The VO Cursor is placed after the word, but before the space. Select CHARACTER and you can move the VO Focus and VO Cursor one character at a time. The CHARACTER setting is the only way you can go inside a word or go between two spaces. As the VO Focus moves, VO reads the text. Move backward and the VO Cursor or insertion point is moved to the beginning of a line, word, or character. Highlight the text and change the ROTOR setting to EDIT. You can then CUT or COPY the text. Move the VO Cursor to a new location and PASTE the text. Learning Resources: You can learn more about the ROTOR and gestures at: The Hadley Institute has two videos on using the ROTOR. Go to: hadley Rotor videos Learn more ROTOR options at: More Rotor Options Ed Summers and Diane Brauner created, “Quick Reference Guide for VoiceOver in iOS.” This is a great resource that includes a list of common Gestures/Commands. Quick Reference Guide for VO Editing a Text Field: Let’s explore to edit text in iOS. Notice how the VO Focus moves and where the VO Cursor is located. Example 1 - Replying to an Email: You get an email from your friend, Kevin, asking for some information about an upcoming rafting trip. 1. Read your email and choose reply. The text edit field opens and the VO Cursor is placed at the Beginning or top of the Text field. Kevin’s original message is included below. 2. Type your reply and the VO Cursor moves as you type. VoiceOver will read what you type. 3. If you make a typo, delete the letter or space with the DELETE key. Example 2 - Editing a Note Using the VO Rotor: Jayne sends you her newsletter article and asks you to make a few changes. 1. You open the note and select the text field to edit it. The VO Cursor is at the beginning of the note. 2. The first edit is in the third line. Choose LINE from the ROTOR and move to line two. The VO Focus surrounds line two. The VO Cursor is at the end of the line, but before the space. VO reads line two. 3. Change the Rotor to WORD and move forward to the fourth word in line three, “Garden.” You know the VO Cursor is after the word because VO says the word, “Garden.” Add the word, “Center.” VO will say, “Center.” 4. Change the date in the middle of line five. Since the Rotor is set to WORD, move the VO cursor forward until you hear the date, “17.” on line five. Change the Rotor to CHARACTER and delete the date. As you delete, you will hear VO say “7” and “1”. Now type the new date,”21.” 5. There is an extra space on line five after a period and before the word, “Camp.” Move forward until you hear “Space, Space.” The VO Cursor is located before the capital “C.” As you DELETE the space, you will hear VO say “space.” Practice Editing Text: Now, it’s your turn to practice editing text in iOS. Open your Notes app of choice and write five lines of text. Use the ROTOR setting and the Gesture/Command to move forward and backward in your note. Then, make three edits. Keep track of where the VO Focus and VO Cursor are located. If you are planning to write a lot, consider investing in a wireless keyboard or a refreshable braille display. You can learn more about using a BlueTooth Keyboard in my November 2016 article. If you are thinking about buying a refreshable braille display, there are several to choose from ( The Orbit Reader 20 should be available soon from The American Printing House ( It is expected to sell for $500. Final Thoughts… You can become proficient with editing text in VO with plenty of practice. Start with a simple task like editing an address in Safari. Then, reply to an email or edit a list. Once you get the hang of using the VO Rotor, you can write and edit longer documents. Maybe you’ll write that next best seller.

March 2017

Dealing with Those Pesky Ads in iOS

It was my turn to cook dinner, so I hopped online and searched for a savory “Peppered-Beef” recipe. Google found me a great site that gave me a list of ingredients and simple cooking instructions. An ad appeared for a store where I could buy the ingredients on sale. Then, there were ads for Olive Oil, Jello, and a local car dealership. I even had an ad for a gift that I researched on last Christmas. It took forever for VO to read the web page and to navigate through each ad. Where are these ads coming from and how can I control them?

Getting Started:
Website design companies are adding advertisements to their web pages to generate more revenue. Apple, Google, and others are using your data to target these ads in websites you visit, apps you download, and news you read online. This data is collected and stored on your device. Many users like having “personalized” ads and services, whereas others want more privacy and fewer ads. Here are some ways you can control what you see.

Block the Ads:
Use the “Reader” feature in Safari to limit clutter on a web page. Flick-left of the Address bar and double-tap on the reader button to activate it. When available, the Reader will block most of the ads and some of the images. In iOS 10, Apple introduced new low-vision settings. You can learn more at:

An “Ad Blocker” is a third-party app or widget that interacts with Safari and other apps on your iOS device to limit what ads appear based upon your preferences. The Ad Blocker can block unwanted ads, remove annoying pop-ups in apps, and even speed up your Internet connection. Check out these two websites for more information:

Limit or Control The Ads:
Apple wants to give you” the best” advertising experience by using your AppStore search history or Apple News reading history to provide you with “Interest-Based” advertisements. After many user complaints, Apple added a feature to “limit” these ads. This article will describe the process:

“Ads by Google” allows companies to advertise their products on the websites you visit. If you have a Google account or GMail address, the videos you watch on YouTube, Websites you visit, Google Internet searches, etc., are tracked to better provide you with content recommendations. These ads are personalized with this information. You can log into your Google account and tweak your Ads Settings. This article will explain the process:

Final Thoughts:

I struggle with how much personal information I am willing to give in order to receive interest-based ads, services, and products. The ad with my recipe ingredients and sale flyer was helpful, but do I want an ad for every item I shop for on The key is to learn how to configure your device for how you want to use it. Start with using the Reader feature. Then look into limiting ads by Apple and Google. Finally, consider making a note of what settings you change and when.

iDevices are wonderful tools to gather information online. it’s challenging and frustrating to navigate these websites when the extra “noise” of advertisements and images get in the way of the message. With the tools mentioned above, you can decide what data to share and what clutter you wish to receive.

May 2017

Reading The Blind Perspective Newsletter with Voice Over

A reader asked me how Voice Over (VO) could be used to read “The Blind Perspective Newsletter” on her iDevice. VO is part of the iOS (operating system and you can use it to read the text in any app like an email, web page, iBook etc. You can choose from several voices.

Getting Started:
Tell SIRI, “Turn on Voice Over.” Or, perform Triple-Tap on the Home Button.
The Blind Perspective is delivered to your Mail Inbox. Go to the message and use these gestures to have VO read the text to you.

- Read From Top: Perform Two-Finger Swipe Up
- Read From Point Forward: Perform Two-Finger Swipe Down
- Pause/Start Speech: Perform Two-Finger Single Tap
- Read Next Paragraph: One-Finger Swipe Right

The Blind Perspective Newsletter is formatted where each article title is assigned a “Heading Level 1.”

You navigate to each article by using the VO Rotor.
- VO Rotor: Use your thumb and first finger to simulate turning a knob on your screen. As you twist, you can change the setting or element you want to navigate. Choose “headings.” Perform Single-Finger Swipe Down or Up to navigate to the next element.

Learn More:
This Apple Support page explains using the Rotor in more detail: Apple Support for the Rotor

If you need some more help with VO, check out this free iOS app on learning VO gestures: Voice over List of Gestures

Check out past Blind Perspective issues at:

Want to read other “APPetizers: Byte Size Tidbits to Help Master Your iDevice.?” Go to:

At the bottom of the web page, the articles are sorted by the year published. On your iDevice, remember to change your Rotor to “links” and Flick-Down to go to the next link on the web page. On the year page, use “headings” as each article is prefaced by the month/year that it appeared in The Blind Perspective.

Happy Reading!

July 2017

Places to Go to Help Make Your iOS Knowledge Grow

It’s finally summer and a good time to rest, relax, and explore your iDevice. I want to share some of my favorite places to learn more about iOS. As you find helpful articles, remember to add them to your Safari Reading List. Select this option under the “share” button.

Hadley Institute Instructional Videos:
The Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired has developed iFocus, a series of instructional videos that teaches you how to use your iDevice. Douglas Walker does a super job taking you through each step. I found the “Placing and Receiving Phone Calls” video very helpful. It helps to practice while listening to the video.

Another helpful video is searching for an item in the iOS Settings app. Normally, you’d have to go through each menu. What a time saver! Each instructional video comes with a link to download the .MP3 file or a text transcript.

( is one of my favorite resources to learn more about my iDevice and Mac. Get started by entering a topic in the search box. Or choose from Apps to Blogs to Podcasts to Guides and much more! I found the BARD mobile app podcast very helpful. Scott Davert did a great job guiding me through the app and saving me a ton of time trying to learn it on my own.

I just found a podcast that describes a free app that will tell me when sunrise and sunset are each day. You can register and sign-up for the free monthly newsletter.

National Braille Press:
The National Braille Press is a great place to buy books about technology, braille, and much, much more! You can buy books in braille, DAISY download, eBraille, or in Word format. I’m reading “iOS 10 Without the Eye” by Jonathan Mosen ( Jonathan does a great job highlighting the changes in iOS 10.

I just heard about an interesting book, “Go Where You Wanna Go: Using GPS on the iPhone” by Judy Dixon. Judy explains how to explore and create routes using GPS apps on the iPhone. NBP has a robust list of other technology books.

FlyingBlind, LLC:
Flying Blind, LLC is an assistive technology company that sells technology and provides training solutions. I’ve talked with Larry Lewis, the founder, and he is most kind and is very knowledgeable about braille and assistive technology. Larry shares their weekly eNewsletter called “TopTech Tidbits”, which is a great resource to help keep up with current trends, issues, and solutions for blind users.

Click on the link on the FlyingBlind, LLC website to subscribe or click on the archives button to read back issues.
You can also check out their EyePod TechnoCast Archive.

Final Thoughts:
Pick one of the websites above and explore. Begin reading, learning, and playing with the app. Create reminders on notecards or on your iDevice. Finally, consider teaching or sharing what you learn with a friend. One of my summer projects is to learn more about using “Spotlight” on my iPhone and how I can customize the searches based upon the apps I use and the places I go the most.
Happy Learning!

September 2017

Emergency Preparedness for Your Digital World
I recently got a new iPhone 7 for my Birthday. As I began the process of reinstalling apps and purchased content, I was reminded of how many “settings” and “tweaks” there are to really customize your iDevice for your digital world. The challenge is to remember what apps you use and what settings to change. In this month’s installment, I’ll share some tips to help you create a plan to configure an iDevice from “new setup” or “restore from back-up.”

Getting Started
OK. I get it. Why would I spend time tracking my every setting on my iDevice? I just want to set it and forget it. And yes, I back-up my iDevice to iCloud or on my computer every once-in-a-while. If I don’t know why something doesn’t work, I ask my tech source to fix it. No problem. No, It will be a big problem if you lose the address for your daughter or a picture of that oceanside vacation last year. Here are some things you can do to save yourself time and frustration later.

iDevice Emergency Info Card
Whether you buy a new iDevice from the Apple Store or restore your iDevice from Apple back-up, you’ll need some information to complete the process. Consider creating an Emergency Info Card for your iDevice. Your Emergency Info Card should list your Apple ID and iCloud email address and password, wireless network name, username, and password. You’ll need this information to setup a new iDevice if your iDevice is lost, stolen, or damaged. Consider listing account info for 1-2 of your most used apps like mail or assistive technology.
This apple support page lists what info you need to setup or restore an iDevice:

This support doc explores the steps you need to restore your content from a backup:

You may need to go through each app and make sure it installs correctly and will work on your new device. You may need to login to an account, download your purchases and configure any settings. Remember, all your purchased apps are listed in the App Store > Updates > Purchased.

Email Configuration Summary
Consider creating an email Configuration Summary for each account. Include the provider name, web address, account information, the app you use, and any advanced settings or special provider instructions. I braille a notecard for each email account. You could also create a spreadsheet or a document on your computer or create a voice recording on your ReaderStream or digital recorder.

Device/App Configuration Journal
Take the time to journal each app you download and use on your iDevice. Think of this journal as a friendly reminder that you can use to re-install it on a new device and retrieve any in-app purchases. Your journal entry may include the app used, username, password, and email, any special settings, and any premium content you purchased. Be sure to include any VoiceOver settings or low vision preferences. Include any privacy settings or Apple app settings. In Safari, I note that I block cookies and set my search engine to Google. In the BARD Mobile app I note the braille settings I need to change from reading and writing in contracted braille to reading BARD braille books. In my Voice Dream Reader app, I note my purchased voices and settings for my default voices.

Password Book
Consider creating a Password Book for your various accounts and apps. I braille mine on notecards, sort them by category, and store them in a small notecard box. On each card, I list the website, username, password, and date modified. Keep in mind that your Password Book will constantly change as providers require frequent password updates. It’s easier to braille a new notecard than an entire page.

Back-up and Restore
If what you own is irreplaceable, copy it to a hard drive or USB drive. Also, back up your data in iCloud or iTunes on your computer:

Learn how to perform a restore from backup from iTunes:

If your backup is unsuccessful, here are some strategies to explore from Apple:

Explore where your content is located and plan accordingly. For example, your photos may be stored in iCloud or on your Mac; mail may live on a Google server; Amazon will keep your purchases on their server; Apple will keep track of the music purchases on their servers; Facebook…, etc. You may not easily restore an email, a message, or a post if it stored elsewhere and the provider has a problem. If it’s important, take a screen shot (Press Home and Power button) and email it to your iCloud address. You can also print the image. Finally, download and/or print your contact list.

Our iDevices have become an extension of ourselves through the apps and tools we install and use, the music we stream, or the ways we communicate and stay in touch. It is worth our time and energy to create a personal Emergency Preparedness Plan to back up our data and restore our unique settings to our digital world.

November 2017

Make a Quick Call on Your iPhone

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was speed dial on your iPhone? iOS doesn’t have that specific feature, but there is another option. It’s called “Favorites” and you can access it in your Contacts. In this installment, I’ll show you how to create your Favorites list and access this list from your Notification center so you can make a quick call to that important someone.

Creating your Favorites List:
Open your Phone app and explore the items at the bottom of the screen. As you flick-right, you will hear VO tell you: Favorites, Recents, Contacts, Keypad, and Voicemail. Navigate to Favorites and double-tap to open. You can add a contact by double-tapping the add button in the top left of screen. Navigate to the contact for your favorite someone and choose a number to call. Your contact is added to the list below. You can re-arrange or delete a contact in your Favorites list by choosing the edit button at the top right of the screen.

iOS Widgets in Notification Center:
iOS utilizes “Widgets” in the “Today” view of your Notification Center to share information from various apps. A widget may include your local weather forecast from the Weather Channel app, news headlines from the News app, Favorites from the Phone app, or your Amazon app. You can add, arrange, or remove a widget by choosing the Edit button at the bottom of Today view. Double-tap the Edit button, find the Favorites widget and select the Insert Favorites button. You can double-tap and hold the Re-order Favorites button to the right of the widget title and drag it up or down in your list. Add the Phone widget to the top of the list. You can access the Today view in the Notification Center from your Home Screen or from your Lock Screen.

Make a Quick Call from Home Screen:
Move the VO focus to the status bar and swipe-down with three fingers. Your widgets will appear as you arranged them. Your Phone Favorites should be the first widget in the list. Swipe to hear the person you want to call and then double-tap with one finger to make the call.

Make a Quick Call from Lock Screen:
On your lock screen, swipe-right with 3 fingers to open your Today view and display your widgets. The VO focus will be on your first contact in your Favorites widget.

This is my preferred way to make a quick call. My Favorites widget is at the top of my Today view and the first person in my Favorites list is my wife’s mobile number. I set my preferences to show Favorites widget on Lock screen without unlocking my iPhone.

I can call my wife in three easy steps from the Lock screen:
1. Wake iPhone
2. Swipe-right with 3 fingers (VO focus will land on my wife’s number because Favorites is the first widget and my wife is the first item in widget
3. Double-Tap to call my wife.

You can create other shortcuts using widgets and the Notification Center. If you own an iPhone 7 or newer, you can also use 3D touch. If you want speed dial and other features, consider exploring the App store. Good Luck!

The iPhone can do some pretty amazing things, but it keeps changing and evolving to keep everyone visually entertained making it more difficult for blind and older users. I just want to make a quick call to my wife without all of the hassle. I think basic functions like those found in a flip phone are forgotten, but necessary. Using the Favorites widget is a simple solution that works!

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