Wishing everybody a very happy Christmas. Have a great time and be good to each other.
I’m thrilled to announce that my book for kids age 7+, The Adventures of Larry the Stick Insect: Larry the Dancing King,, currently available on Amazon Kindle, is now also available as an audio book on Audible, Amazon and iTunes.
As you know, I am blind and work with visually impaired adults and children as an assistive technology trainer/enablement coach. In the interest of making the book as accessible as possible I published it on Amazon Kindle so it can be read by visually impaired and sighted people alike on any device with the Kindle app installed on it. Having it produced as an audio book is an extension of this that makes it even more accessible to everybody..
So what’s the book about? It’s about a young stick insect, his friends and his adventures as he attends his school’s end of year dance. Larry loves Miranda who is a beautiful Ladybird, but as with any good story there’s a bad guy. That bad guy is Marv, a Praying Mantis who along with his sidekicks Vic and Kane bullies Larry and his friends and acts like he owns the school. In Larry the Dancing King Larry is confronted by Marv in front of his entire school, but Larry has a secret which he reveals to the astonishment of everybody present. The book is funny and paints a vivid picture of the action whilst having a good moral at its core. It’s been well received by children and adults alike.
Here’s an audio sample of the book: Larrythedancingking-retailaudiosample.mp3
You can get the book from the following:
Amazon, Kindle ebook & audio book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07F22RRCR/ref=cm_sw_r_em_api_c_Gx6nBbZN4VW3J
You can follow Larry on Facebook on: http://www.facebook.com/Adventuresoflarryofficial
You can also follow Larry on his very own Twitter page on: @larrythestick1
You can follow me on my Facebook author page on: https://www.facebook.com/jamesgoldsworthyauthor/
You can also follow me on Twitter on: @authorjgolds
A couple of months ago I posted that Steve Bennett from Dolphin Computer Access and I were interviewed on RNIB’s Tech Talk radio show. On the show Steve and I talk about some of Dolphin’s products, specifically SuperNova, Guide, EasyReader app for iOS and Android and the new Reader Pod. The show is now available to listen to at the following link:
I’m very happy to announce that my poetry book The Edge of Darkness, currently available on Amazon Kindle, will also be available as an audio book this year! It’s in the production stage at the moment, so once production is finished I’ll be able to give a better idea of the release schedule. What I can say is that it’ll be available on Audible, iTunes and Google Play. I’m very excited!
As some of you may know I am blind and work with visually impaired adults and children as an assistive technology trainer/enablement coach. In the interest of making the book as accessible as possible I published it on Amazon Kindle so it can be read by visually impaired and sighted people alike on any device with the Kindle app installed on it. Having the book made as an audio book is an extension of this that will make it even more accessible to everybody..
So what’s the book about? It’s a book of poetry presented in two collections. The first collection contains pieces I wrote during my journey through sight loss. This first collection starts off rather dark (no pun intended) but gradually becomes less so as I begin to come to terms with my situation. The second collection is made up of individual pieces that I wrote for a variety of reasons. Some because of my love of sci-fi and fantasy, some because of historic events, some because of personal experiences and some just because I wanted to.
The Kindle version can be purchased at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071RN8DL7/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493327228&sr=8-1&keywords=james+goldsworthy+the+edge+of+darkness
You can watch a video of me talking about the book, why I wrote it and answering some questions about it at: https://www.facebook.com/jamesgoldsworthyauthor/videos/1880692925546064/
You can follow me on my Facebook author page on: https://www.facebook.com/jamesgoldsworthyauthor/
You can also follow me on Twitter on: @authorjgolds
It took me quite a while to get into using Twitter, initially for personal use and later for my business. One of the reasons it took some time was because I simply didn’t find the standard Twitter app for iOS to be particularly easy to use nor its home feed screen to flow particularly well. I also found that although the Twitter app itself is perfectly accessible with VoiceOver I really didn’t enjoy using it at all. As a result I began looking for an alternative Twitter client that would be easy to use, would give me a clean flowing home feed and of course would be fully accessible with VoiceOver.
When I was searching for information online I read a lot of good things from both visually impaired and sighted people about the Twitterific app for iOS. Not only that but it’s a free app! Needless to say I immediately found it on the App Store and downloaded it. I’ve been using the app for a few months now and have to say that I love it.
The first thing to impress me when I initially opened the app was that if you don’t already have a Twitter account you can actually sign up and create one directly using the Twitterific app. This really is excellent whether you’re a VoiceOver user or not as you can create your entire account and profile without ever needing to leave the app. Not only that but it’s completely accessible with VoiceOver and takes you through the process step by step.
The second thing to impress me was that every single button, tab and menu is labelled and fully accessible with VoiceOver. The app layout is simple, easy to navigate and crucially, is uncluttered.
There’s also a great help section which lists gestures that you can use for all manner of tasks and functions whilst using the app. The app is also customisable in terms of the notifications you receive, marking your current position in your home feed and how you view tabs and menu bars.
As you’d expect you can do everything with the Twitterific app that you can on the standard Twitter app, including posting and deleting tweets, replying to tweets, retweeting, liking and sharing other people’s tweets, private messaging, searching for and following other Twitter profiles etc.
There’s also an AppleWatch app which works smoothly with the iOS app allowing you to receive notifications directly to your AppleWatch.
Everything I’ve mentioned so far is excellent, functional and accessible, the most striking and impressive thing about the Twitterific app for me however is the simplicity of the home feed. It’s completely uncluttered, is wonderfully easy to navigate and works beautifully.
The only thing you can’t do with the Twitterific app that you can with the standard Twitter app is post tweets using Siri. I think I’ve only ever posted one or possibly two tweets using Siri on the standard Twitter app over the entire time that I’ve been using it. I much prefer typing my tweets on the virtual keyboard or using my Magic Keyboard as I find it a lot more accurate. However, the lack of Siri interaction with Twitterific might be something to consider if you normally post most of your tweets using Siri.
Finally, although the Twitterific app is free there are optional in app purchases. In a nutshell, when you get the app some adverts do appear on the home feed screen, the adverts aren’t actually too annoying and the app works perfectly regardless of them being there. However, if you prefer not to have adverts appear you can choose an in app purchase option to remove them. The in app purchase is a very small amount and in my opinion well worth it, not only because it removes the adverts but also because it contributes to the ongoing development of the app. Not to mention that by making an in app purchase you’re helping support a great and fully accessible product.
If you haven’t tried Twitterific for iOS yet you can download it from the app store at: https://appsto.re/gb/_GTLI.i
If you’d like to follow me on Twitter you can find me on @AVCoaching
Watch 3.0 has been out for a couple of days now, I initially thought it’d just be another update that I’d install only to find it didn’t really change much for me as a VoiceOver user. But I have to admit I was wrong.
I’ve been a fan of the AppleWatch since its release last year and despite a lot of the media gripes about it under performing, not having it’s own cellular connectivity, being too expensive etc, I still think it’s a great device that will evolve into something that many people will end up using. Although I doubt that will be the case for several years, I do feel that the AppleWatch is absolutely fantastic for those of us who are visually impaired or blind and use VoiceOver. It was an absolute revelation for me to finally have a watch that talked in a voice that was clear and understandable, that gave me the ability to adjust its speech volume on the fly and that actually had the potential to be of genuine use on a daily basis. One of the biggest reasons I took the plunge was the ability to check emails and messages etc whilst I’m on the road or with clients. The fact I can do so extremely quickly makes life much easier. I often check these things throughout the day and much of the time my assistant isn’t even aware I’ve done so. This for me is great because it means I don’t need to dig out my iPhone and do so in front of clients at a louder volume.
So getting down to the point of this blog, what’s the release of Watch 3.0 done for VoiceOver users in particular? Well, put simply it’s massively improved the usability of a device that was already pretty damned usable. Let’s be honest about it, Watch 1.0 introduced VoiceOver users to the AppleWatch and made it mostly accessible, Watch 2.0 refined that accessibility a little more and made using the watch a more pleasurable experience. What Watch 3.0 has done is not only refined accessibility considerably more, but has boosted the overall performance of the watch in a big way and this of course has had a significant, positive impact for AppleWatch owners, including those using VoiceOver.
I’ve installed Watch 3.0 on my first generation AppleWatch so obviously I can only really comment on what has changed on it. Those who purchase a second generation AppleWatch will of course find additional differences in standards of performance etc.
The first thing you notice once you’ve installed Watch 3.0 is just how much faster everything is. This may sound a bit of a vague statement, but with Watch 2.0 apps would take around three seconds on average and sometimes as long as five or six seconds to open. Doesn’t sound long I know but believe me, if you’re trying to do something on the move it feels like an eternity. With Watch 3.0 opening an app is almost instantaneous,. The other thing connected to this is the speed at which the watch switches from the clock face screen to the apps screen when you press the digital crown, as again it’s pretty much instantaneous. These two improvements are brilliant for VoiceOver users as you no longer get that horrible lag between when you double tap on an app or press the digital crown and when the app actually opens or the screen switches.
There are some new additions to Watch 3.0, only two of which I’m going to focus on here. The first is Emergency SOS. This function allows you to choose up to three people from your contacts who will be messaged in the event that you call the emergency services. The way it works is that if you need to call the emergency services you hold down the side button on your AppleWatch and the watch makes the call for you. Whilst you’re on the call the watch sends your current location to the emergency call operator so they can find you. In the meantime any contacts you’ve added are sent a message informing them that you’ve called the emergency services and also sends them your current location. I think this is a brilliant addition to the AppleWatch and can imagine that many people could be helped by it in the future.
If you wish to activate the Emergency SOS function on your AppleWatch go to the AppleWatch app on your iPhone, then go to General and finally go into Emergency SOS.
The next addition, or perhaps I should say change, is the removal of the Friends list to be replaced with the Doc. Where on Watch 1.0 and 2.0 you could press and release the side button to go to a list of friends you had allocated to a list of your most contacted, pressing and releasing the side button on Watch 3.0 opens the Doc. Just like on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch where you have a Doc in which you can place up to four apps that you use most often and/or want to get to quickly, the AppleWatch now has the same. The Doc on the AppleWatch has two additions however, you can place up to four apps in the Doc just as you can on iOS devices. Below those apps the Doc displays the last app you had open so you can go straight back to it. Then below that there’s a “Now Playing” option. Single finger double tapping on the “Now playing” option opens a player controls screen that displays the name of the song, audio book or pod cast you’re listening to as well as allowing you to Play/Pause, skip backwards, skip forwards and adjust volume. I think the addition of the Doc will be welcomed by most VoiceOver users, not only because it works well, but because by using it in conjunction with Digital Crown Navigation the whole process of using it is a pleasurable experience rather than the more frustrating experience we had on Watch 1.0 and 2.0.
To reorder the apps in your Doc go to the AppleWatch app on your iPhone then go into the Doc settings area. Once you’re in there the four apps that are in the Doc by default are displayed at the top of the screen in a list. Below that list there’s a “Do not include” list. You can easily change which apps are in your Doc by single finger double tapping on the Edit button found at the top right corner of the screen. Once you’ve done this a “Reorder” button appears alongside the name of each app up the right side of the screen. Simply single finger double tap and hold on the “Reorder” button of the app you wish to move and drag your finger up or down the list. VoiceOver will announce where you’re moving the app to. For example. “Messages moved below Maps”. You can move apps into or out of the Doc list using this method. Once you’ve finished moving the apps simply single finger double tap on the “Done” button found in the top right corner of the screen.
There are also reported to be battery life improvements with Watch 3.0, but as I’ve only had it for a couple of days I can’t really comment much about that, but time will tell.
In summary, I think that anybody who owns a first generation AppleWatch and uses VoiceOver would benefit from installing the Watch 3.0 update, it’s faster, smoother and I feel more user friendly than its predecessors.