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Technology Newsletter

Welcome to the 49th edition of the NCBI Labs Technology Newsletter.


This week in our Technology Quick Tips we go through the keyboard shortcuts you can use to access the Quick Link Menu in Windows. Sometimes referred to as the WinX or Power User Menu, the Quick Link Menu provides you with shortcuts to a range of system settings on your computer.
 
We find out all about the BlindShell mobile phone, an easy-to-use mobile phone that combines a physical keyboard with a fully functional screen reader.
 
We feature an interview with Dr. Craig Moore who is an engineer with a vision impairment working at NASA in the United States.
 
Finally, we share details about several new Virtual Training Courses set to commence soon on JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver and Touch Typing.


Don’t forget that NCBI Labs technology podcasts are available on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify Podcasts, as well as the NCBI YouTube Channel. If you have an Amazon Echo or Google Home you can simply say “Alexa” or “Hey Google”, “Play NCBI Labs Podcasts” to listen back to previous recordings.

Technology Quick Tips of the Week

Windows Shortcut

The Quick Link Menu

During the development of the Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft decided to introduce a feature called the Quick Link Menu that contains shortcuts to a range of system settings on your computer.
 
When you press the Windows logo + X keys on your keyboard (or right click on the start menu) the Quick Link Menu will appear on the bottom left corner of the screen. The menu is divided into three groups. We can arrow down through the menu to find shortcuts to settings such as Apps and Features, Power Options, System, Task Manager, Shut Down, Sign Out, and more.
 
As you will notice, the Quick Links menu provides a plethora of shortcuts and can make accessing a specific setting on your computer convenient and easy.


The BlindShell Mobile Phone – by IT Trainer Daniel Dunne
The BlindShell Classic and BlindShell Lite mobile phones landed in Ireland earlier this year and already they are attracting a lot of interest and fanfare from the visually impaired community right across Ireland.
 
The phone at first glance takes you on a trip down memory lane to when the Nokia 3210 was “the-phone” that was a fashion statement at the turn of the millennium. They were tough too, even Y2K didn’t faze those tough nuts!
 
The BlindShell phones are equally durable featuring a quite similar keypad too. However, after powering on the BlindShell unit the world of Nokia you might have briefly expected fades back into memory lane’s rear-view mirror. Briefly an Android screen appears before BlindShell’s customised interface takes over. This is where the BlindShell really gets it right: you are greeted with a large display with simple items that flow like a carousel – it’s so simple, one item on the screen at a time, this is wonderful.
 
Wait, there’s more – Google’s voice then announces what is on the screen, now we’re talking! The BlindShell’s menu system is big without being too big. The number keys double up as quick navigation to different menu items, after a couple of hours one could sense that they could get familiar with this. There is voice control too, hold in the button and “wait for the beep” you are told - you can then command the Google Assistant to call contacts or numbers (Classic model only). Put the assistant to the test and compose a text message too or ask it the weather.
 
There is so much more to this phone that one can do – try out some of the QR code stickers supplied with the handset to label items around your home. Use the phone’s inbuilt camera to scan the QR codes and have the items announced back to you – there is a little setting up in this but it’s a great idea from BlindShell.
 
Exploring the Classic phone further and you will find Email, Messaging, Calendar, Alarms, Timer, Stopwatch, Voice Recorder, Calculator, Weather, and Dictionary amongst other functions, too many to mention them all here.
 
The guys at BlindShell work hard at improving their phones, occasional updates are released which not only improve the already perfect performance but they drop in additional apps too – for example recently the Telegram messaging app was included. While this is not WhatsApp, it is a similar functioning platform.
 
The NCBI are your go-to people in Ireland to find out even more about this phone and enquire about a demonstration or to purchase one of the two models offered.
 
To purchase a BlindShell phone or to arrange a demonstration please email labs@ncbi.ie or call 1850 92 30 60. You can also visit the NCBI Online Store. You can watch a demonstration of the BlindShell Classic Mobile phone on Live Event 36 on YouTube.  


Interview with Dr. Craig Moore, NASA
This week we catch up with Dr. Craig Moore, who is a scientist with a vision impairment working at NASA in the United States.

Q1. Can you tell us about your background and education?
I was mainstreamed in a school system which had several blind students attending from eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota. This area is sparsely populated. Two resource teachers taught me Braille, provided me with Braille materials, and transcribed my Braille responses to exercises and exams. This required transcriptions in science, math, music, and French. I received Bachelors, Masters and a Doctoral degree in Chemistry. Some of my books were recorded by volunteers and I was extremely fortunate to have volunteers braille all my math and Chemistry books. Brailling these materials was extremely time consuming and tedious. I was very fortunate to have a friend write software to use a braille display with a computer in 1981. The computer had 64K memory and commercial braille displays were not available until 1985 in the States. I may have been the first person in the world to have this type of access. Even when my use of computers was through remote terminals, I used first a terminal which brailed on paper tape and then one which used braille paper.
 
Q2. How did you get involved with NASA, and how long have you been working with them?
I had a temporary job as a post-doc at the University of Tennessee. The father of a graduate student was in management at the NASA Center where I work and it was with his guidance that I was able to find employment at NASA.  I have worked at NASA for 32 years.  
 
Q3. What sort of a role did technology play in securing this job, and what sort of technology do you use in your role today?
Having access to computers through use of Braille was the critical part of technology that enabled me to finish my education and find employment. Currently, I use JAWS, and a braille display with both a Windows computer and an iPhone.
 
Q4. Is it very unusual for someone with sight loss to be working with NASA?
There are about 30 people at NASA who have visual impairment. Their jobs range from working with small business contracts, human resources, law, education outreach, administrative support, science, and engineering.
 
Q5. What advice can you offer someone with sight loss who has aspirations of a particular career?
I would advise people with a particular interest to seek counsel from supportive family, friends, teachers, and professionals in related fields of interest. Search to see if any other people with similar sight impairments have been working in this area. One must be realistic about possibilities and limitations but I believe one can always find related work to the field of interest. Computer modelling has become increasingly important in both science and engineering.  
 
You can watch an interview with Dr. Craig Moore on Live Event 35 on YouTube


Virtual Training Courses
NCBI Labs IT trainer Miriam Kelly will soon be delivering several Virtual Training Courses. Please find details of these courses below. If you would like to join please email miriam.kelly@ncbi.ie.
 
JAWS with Outlook and Gmail Course: 14th April 11:00am – 1:00pm x 2 Wednesdays (4 places remaining)
 

NVDA Shopping on-line Course: 28th April 11:00am – 1:00pm x 1 Wednesday (Full)
 
JAWS Shopping on-line Course: 11th May 2:30pm – 4:30pm x 1 Tuesday
 
Touch Typing Beginners Course: 12th May 11:00am – 1:00pm x 6 Wednesdays
 
Beginners iPad Course with VoiceOver: 17th May 11:00am – 1:00pm x 3 Mondays
 
JAWS Internet and Outlook Course: 25th May 2:00pm – 4:00pm x 2 Tuesdays

NCBI Labs Technology Live Events 

We are running Technology Live events during the COVID 19 crisis on topics that will support you.

All events are recorded and made available as podcasts and on YouTube for you to listen to or watch back afterwards.

To listen back to previous Live Events please select the button below.
NCBI Live Events YouTube Playlist

Live Event 40

On Tuesday 13th April we will be holding our 40th Live Event at 2:30pm.
 
This week our conversation turns to mobile phones and what are the key things to consider when purchasing a new one. We’ll be discussing the different types of mobile phones out there and what they offer in terms of accessibility features, design, memory, battery life, price, and more.
 
On Meet the Team we speak with Caroline Lane, Children’s Services Team Lead at NCBI.
 
On Seeing It Your Way we catch up with Bob Murphy from Sligo who tells us about his use of technology in his day-to-day life.

Please follow the link below to join the Live Event.
Live Event 40

Technology Support Line 

We offer a dedicated support line and email address for technical support related to assistive and mainstream technology. 
 

The service is free for people with sight loss and their families. We also offer technical advice on assistive technology to schools and employers. 
 

The Technology Support Helpdesk is operated between 09:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday. 
 

Contact NCBI Labs nationwide: 1850 92 30 60 or 01 5312975. 

Email NCBI Labs

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Please subscribe to the following and give us a listen on your favourite device.

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Support NCBI  

Your continued support for NCBI’s work to help people with sight loss is hugely appreciated. Please click the link below for more information on how you can help. 

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