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brianhartgen's blog

Leasey 3.3 Release Notes.

Leasey version 3.3 will be released tomorrow. This is by far one of the most significant updates we have made for a long time. Here are the new features in brief.

This version contains many new features and improvements. For further information, please refer to our documentation.

New in LeaseySearch:

iTunes. Search for an item, preview results from within the JAWS Results Viewer, and get new releases. When the audio sample of a song is playing, pause, stop, play and adjust the volume with keystrokes. All this is done without iTunes needing to run.

News. Search in over 30 sources including:
BBC Sport
Bloomberg
Business Insider
Business Insider UK
CNN
Daily Mail
entertainment Weekly
Financial Times
Fox Sports
Google News
Independent
Mirror
MTV News
MTV News UK
National Geographic
New Scientist
Newsweek
and many more.

Highly configurable Weather app. Providing more than just the weather, our new app gives you the local time of the place you are searching. It also gives Temperatures, wind speed, humidity, "feels like", maximum and minimum temperatures, and current forecast. Temperatures and Kilometres/miles per hour formats are controlled by the user.
Sunrise, Sunset, Moonrise and Moonset times are given if desired. You can also search for place names or type, "Nearby", and Leasey will attempt to determine your current location.
Seven day forecast included.
Recent searches included.

Oxford Dictionaries. Learn definitions of words.

Ultimate Music Database. Search for a song to find its chart position or recall a UK or US chart from 1940 to the present.

Just Watch. Search for TV shows or movies available on a number of platforms.

Refinements have also been made to existing LeaseySearches, including the ability to bring into view most recent items you have searched for.

Other new features include:

LeaseyNotes, create a note from anywhere and file it under a category.

New radio stations added to LeaseyRadio.

Support for tinySpell.

A list of recently opened documents in Microsoft word.

Return to last visited page in Microsoft Word documents.

Leasey always unmutes audio of primary sound source at startup, or it can be achieved using a keystroke and the volume set to a moderate level if things go wrong.

Easy to find keystrokes exist to hear the time, hear the time including seconds, hear the date, insert the time or insert the date.

LeaseyBites can be downloaded or listened to via Hotkey Help menu item, controlled through an easy to use interface.

Optional announcement is given as to the latest LeaseyBite available, disabled by default.

Custom Web Text can be added to web pages or domains to create your own notes.

Compatibility now exists for StationPlaylist Studio scripts so they can be used at the same time as Leasey. Be sure to read the documentation on this point.

If you wish, the Skype scripts from Doug Lee can now be installed alongside Leasey.

Applying LeaseyTags to files in very long folder paths caused some problems. This is now resolved.

New Update facility included.

For those using Zoom conferencing, ALT+Windows+S enables and disables alerts from being spoken even if you are not in the app.

When backing up files to a folder, such as Dropbox, Leasey remembers the last one you used, thus ensuring you do not need to type the path again.

Hotkey Help for Leasey completely redesigned.

New sections in Hotkey Help include a list of new keystrokes for this version and a link to all keystrokes in HTML format.

Documentation now considerably expanded and revised.

If opening links from JAWS Research It or LeaseyNews within the Results Viewer, Leasey uses your default browser for viewing full stories, such as Google Chrome, rather than Internet Explorer.

Free Basic Scripts for the Zoom Conferencing Platform

These scripts for JAWS versions 14 onwards offer some functionality to support the Zoom conferencing software. They are not essential for using Zoom as the company have implemented accessibility to a high level. These scripts were developed for our own use and are delivered without any form of technical support. If they work for you, we very much hope you benefit from using them.

The scripts enhance the experience in a number of ways:

  • When scheduling a meeting, or creating a new one, the dialog box controls are somewhat easier to comprehend.
  • When in a meeting, press ALT+Windows+s to enable or disable the announcement of Alerts, such as when someone has left the meeting room. Note that with the free scripts alerts are only suppressed from within the Zoom client at this time. If you have our Leasey product, alerts will be suppressed globally.
  • Regardless of this, press ALT+Windows+A to hear the last alert, even if it was not spoken. This should enable you, for example, to ascertain whether someone has entered the room, but you are in control of that output. There is scope for refining which kind of alerts get spoken, but we're pretty sure the Zoom team will develop this functionality over time so these scripts will have a short shelf-life.
  • Press Insert+Tab to verify whether alerts are enabled or disabled.
  • ALT+R should report whether recording is enabled or not.
  • Regardless of the alert setting, ALT+A reports whether the audio is muted or unmuted.

For a comprehensive audio book on using the zoom client please visit this page.

To download the script installer please activate this link.

New Training Course. Chrome Plated, Using Google Chrome with JAWS for Windows!

Introduction.

During a recent American convention, it was suggested that in 3 or 4 years from now, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge would be the dominant internet browsers.

For years, many of us have been using Microsoft Internet Explorer to shop online, read the news, work with social media sites and much more besides. But we must look to the future. It seems like the right time for us to at least begin to understand what Google Chrome can do or even use it as our full-time browser and there are compelling reasons as to why you may want to do the latter.

That's just one of the aspects of our new training course beginning on 23 August 2017, Chrome Plated!

What Will I Learn?

The course is divided into four sessions, each of which will last 60 minutes. In addition to teaching you how to use the Google Chrome browser with JAWS for Windows, we'll be addressing what we consider to be the most important and critical issue. Efficiency of use. How does the support for Google Chrome compare with Microsoft Internet Explorer in terms of usability? Google have implemented accessibility to excellent effect in Chrome, but can you carry out functions with the same degree of efficiency and ease of use with Google Chrome as you can with Internet Explorer? There are differences in the way you undertake some tasks with an alternative browser, (that is accepted), but once mastered, is it just as easy to get done what you need to do on a daily basis? Are there tasks where Chrome is superior to other browsers? We'll be going into all these issues in great detail.

The training course will cover many topics including:

  • An introduction to the advantages of using Chrome as opposed to other browsers.
  • How to make Chrome the Default browser.
  • Customising Chrome for ease of use with JAWS for Windows through browser Settings.
  • Keyboard shortcuts for web browsing and getting to where you need to be.
  • Working through relevant options in the JAWS Quick Settings.
  • Working with the Address Bar.
  • A brief overview of JAWS Quick Navigation Keys.
  • Good web browsing and screen-reading strategies for getting the most from web pages.
  • Creating and managing your Bookmarks.
  • The five methods for accessing pages you've visited before including those you have Bookmarked.
  • Downloading files: where they go and how to control them.
  • Listening to audio content.
  • Tabbed Browsing: what is it and getting the most from it.
  • Opening pages in a new window.
  • Tools within JAWS and other products, such as Placemarkers, LeaseyPoints, LeaseyAlerts and Smart Navigation.
  • Settings not related to accessibility and optimisation.
  • Synchronising items across computers and devices.
  • Selecting Text ready for copying.
  • Getting Help.

During the course, we'll also be listening very carefully to the audio output delivered using JAWS and paying close attention to the subtle differences between those prompts which you may be used to hearing with Internet Explorer to those from Google Chrome. The pages are rendered slightly differently in each browser and we need to understand the terminology and what it all means.

Who is the Course For?

This course is suited to anyone who has a basic knowledge of how to undertake working with the web with JAWS for Windows using any browser and who wishes to learn how Google Chrome can be used. It would also be suitable for anyone who has an awareness of using Chrome but who wants to learn more to get the most from it.

There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions regarding the topics under discussion, however this is achieved in a structured manner. This ensures that you can focus on learning the concepts being taught.

If I Purchase the Course, What Will I Receive?

The course will be delivered online via our accessible Zoom Confrencing platform. If you have not used this conferencing software before, you will receive instructions prior to the commencement of the course. This software allows for the delivery of the presentation, including the output from the screen-reading software. The audio is of a high quality.

You can also participate by telephone in the UK, US, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Finally, there is an accessible I O S app for Zoom.

The course will give to you:

  • four lessons starting 23 August 2017. Each lesson will begin at 7 PM UK time, (2 PM Eastern), each Wednesday.
  • An audio recording of each lesson in MP3 format.
  • Text documentation comprising a list of keystrokes to reinforce topics covered in the lessons.
  • An email list active prior to (and during) the course so you can ask questions outside tuition time.

The proposed dates for the course sessions are as follows:

  • 23 August.
  • 30 August.
  • 6 September.
  • 13 September.

All recordings, documentation and the conference area are accessed through a secure area of our website which is only available to course participants. If you cannot make those dates, please don't worry. You can still take advantage of the Email list and the archives of the webinars, which are usually uploaded the following day after editing.

Costing.

The cost of the course is £50 which is currently 62 US dollars.
The course fee can be ppaid at any time between now and 16 August 2017.

Purchase Chrome Plated Online.

Alternatively, anyone can purchase the course by sending an Email to jaws@hartgen.org, whereupon a fully accessible electronic invoice will be sent to you which can be paid through PayPal or any major credit or debit card. Orders can also be placed by telephone:

  • Call us (from within the UK): 02920-850298.
  • Call us (from the United States): 415-871-0626.
  • Call us (from any other country): (+44)2920-850298.

If you would like to read the views from participants of our previous courses, please Visit our Training area.

Course Prerequisites.

It is important that you have:

  • Good keyboarding skills;
  • A computer with an internet connection or a telephone;
  • A microphone so as to ask questions within the course;
  • JAWS for Windows screen-reader;
  • Access to Google Chrome web browser. If you have not downloaded it prior to the course, details will be provided to you.

Summary.

Look to the future and learn some of the best ways of getting the most from the internet with Google Chrome and JAWS. It's a powerful combination!

Come and Join Us at NCBI's Virtual Technology Club!

Are you going across to Ireland,
Will you take me in your car,
And I'm sure you'll find my conversation sound.

That's how the song runs, and Ireland is the focus of the Virtual Technology Club from the National Council for the Blind of Ireland, this week held Thursday 20 July at 7 PM in the UK and Ireland.

Anyone is welcome to join in the Virtual Technology Club. Team Talk is used for the presentations and you can check how to use it here.

Brian from Hartgen Consultancy will be part of the event this time, primarily to talk about our Leasey product. You'll hear:

  • An overview of Leasey, and how it helps the computer beginner through to the advanced user.
  • About some of the features in Leasey Advanced, particularly version 3.3, which will soon be released. Hear about our fabulous new iTunes Search, Weather App, get the latest news, and more.
  • Demonstrations of some features which people do not know about as yet.

This event will be the official launch-pad for Leasey version 3.3. Brian will also talk about the product sale which is still ongoing, and of course answer any questions about Leasey, or the other Hartgen Consultancy products.

It should be a fun evening! You bring the drinks, Brian will provide lots of chat, and between us all, the craic is guaranteed to be 90!

Excellent Screen-Reading Offers for People in the UK!

Hi to All

Sight and Sound Technology have some truly fantastic offers relating to products from VFO that we should draw your attention to.

In particular, a brand new JAWS Home user option costs just £115, a massive saving. Upgrades are also competitively priced as are Software Maintenance Agreements.

This means for the time of the sale, if you do not have JAWS already, you could obtain a brand new copy of JAWS 18, and Leasey Total Package for £190. Alternatively, get JAWS 18 and Leasey Advanced for £165. In that way, not only would you get a superb screen-reader, but also access to all of Leasey's functions for computer beginners, or to improve your productivity. We're currently working through many of these tools in our LeaseyBites series of audio and text tutorials.

If you take advantage of these offers, you might like to think about these training courses.

Over Easy, the Switch from Window-Eyes to JAWS. Despite its name, this is an ideal course for new users to JAWS.

Catching Up with JAWS, focuses on features you may not be familiar with, which were implemented within the screen-reader during the past few years.
Our Training Area has a number of other courses available, most of which are on sale at the moment.

Do bare in mind that these offers are only in place for a couple of weeks, so don't miss out!

What Is a LeaseyBite?

Many people know that Leasey is a computer program working with JAWS for Windows which is ideal for the computer beginner. However, you may not know that there are lots of tools, utilities and services which are very beneficial to the intermediate or advanced JAWS user too.

Many of these features have been suggested by existing JAWS users. We often get comments like, "I wish JAWS could do X, Y or Z". Where possible, we make it happen.

We don't want to keep all these fantastic functions a secret. So, during July, we're going to tell you about the amazing things Leasey can do. We'll do this within short concise audio tutorials we call LeaseyBites. There will be a LeaseyBite for each day of July, so 31 in total.

There will be at least one LeaseyBite to highlight how a person who has never used a computer before can benefit from Leasey, together with lots of demonstrations of existing features. And if that's not enough, our new Leasey update for July contains many new features and improvements, and descriptions of those will be included in LeaseyBites as well.

Don't have Leasey yet? We hope the features we show you in LeaseyBites may encourage you to jump into the Leasey pool and benefit from the wonderful things Leasey can do for you. We want you to get bitten.

Hungry to know more? Keep checking our social media outlets or the Leasey email list for details of each new LeaseyBite!

about-Face, JAWS for Windows and Facebook for Beginners

"It's too difficult to use". "It's not accessible". "All my family use it and I cannot join in". "I'm trying to access part of it on my phone and it's not working as I expect it to." Those are just some of the sentiments a lot of people express about Facebook. But it shouldn't be like that should it when we as blind people are always striving for inclusion?

The good news is that we are able to access most aspects of Facebook very well when using the JAWS for Windows screen-reader and a web browser. Our training course, "about-Face, JAWS for Windows and Facebook for Beginners", will show you not only how to work with Facebook, but also gives lots of information about how you can customise JAWS so as to gain the best experience possible.

Facebook has become one of the most popular social networking sites of all time. The site can be accessed from many devices containing a web browser and which is connected to the Internet. It should be about having fun, getting information, sharing content or perhaps using it to promote a service. The course will show you how to do all of these things on a daily basis without thinking too much about the accessibility!

How JAWS Interacts with Facebook.

Ordinarily, JAWS interacts well with both the Facebook Mobile and Facebook Desktop sites. While undoubtedly users of our Leasey product will gain a far better experience when using Facebook, if you do not have this product there is still a lot you can do to customise JAWS to provide a better experience, and to use some of the tools to improve your ability to navigate Facebook so as to gain more from it. While the course will describe the Leasey keystrokes and the experience you will receive when using it, the assumption is that you do not have it installed so as to appeal to the widest possible audience. You will also find that some of the techniques learned in this course when using JAWS will benefit you when working with many internet sites.

What Will I Learn?

The course is divided into three sessions, each of an hour's duration. The topics include:

  • Facebook Mobile versus Facebook Desktop.
  • Creating a Facebook account.
  • Editing your Facebook profile.
  • Security and Privacy.
  • Searching for friends and pages of interest.
  • Sorting the News Feed.
  • Reviewing the News Feed.
  • Liking or reacting to a Facebook post.
  • Commenting on Facebook posts.
  • Creating a Facebook post.
  • Attaching images to Facebook posts.
  • The Facebook Notifications area.
  • Accepting Facebook Friend requests and checking them out first.
  • Viewing Facebook friends.
  • Sending private messages to friends.
  • Viewing the Facebook profile of a friend.
  • Working with Facebook groups.

Note that there is scope for a more advanced training course on the management of Facebook pages which is not covered here.

Who is the Course For?

This course is suited to anyone who has always wanted to use Facebook but has been unsure how to begin, through to those who are using it already but would like to gain a better experience when using it.

If I Purchase the Course, What Will I Receive?

The course will give to you:

  • An audio recording of each lesson in MP3 format.

Costing.

The cost of the course is £40 which is currently 52 US dollars.

Purchase About-Face Online.

Alternatively, anyone can purchase the course by sending an Email to jaws@hartgen.org, whereupon a fully accessible electronic invoice will be sent to you which can be paid through PayPal or any major credit or debit card. Orders can also be placed by telephone:

  • Call us (from within the UK): 02920-850298.
  • Call us (from the United States): 415-871-0626.
  • Call us (from any other country): (+44)2920-850298.

If you would like to read the views from participants of our previous courses, please Visit our Training area.

Course Prerequisites.

It is important that you have:

  • Good keyboarding skills;
  • A microphone so as to ask questions within the course;
  • JAWS for Windows screen-reader;
  • Access to Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome web browser.

Summary.

It is true that Facebook is not as intuitive to use as Twitter, principally because of Desktop programs which have been designed for the purpose of working with tweets which do not require interaction with a web site. However, the Facebook community is huge. If you would like to be part of it, then getting some useful skills to work with Facebook could be just what you need. Jump into the pool, the water's fine!

Over Easy: The Switch from window-Eyes to JAWS!

Introduction.

It's no secret that sales of the Window-Eyes screen-reader have ended. The owning company VFO are offering JAWS for Windows as a replacement for Window-Eyes users. But how do you get started with JAWS? How easy is it to transition from one screen-reader to another? How do you accomplish some of the most basic tasks you would want to do with your screen-reader?

All these questions and more are answered in our training course, Over Easy: The Switch from window-Eyes to JAWS.

During the session, lasting approximately 105 minutes, Brian Hartgen will show you the basics of how to use JAWS for windows and give you plenty of useful tips and tricks along the way.

Brian Hartgen has been using JAWS for over 20 years. He is also a beta tester for JAWS, MAGic and ZoomText Fusion, has completed the advanced JAWS scripting course at VFO's Headquarters in florida and has completed JAWS certification in 2017. So not only is his knowledge of JAWS as current as it can be, but he came to the JAWS screen-reader from a Window-Eyes background.

What Will I Learn?

  • How to use the JAWS Startup Wizard.
  • Adjusting the rate of speech and typing echo.
  • Getting help.
  • Keystrokes to get information quickly.
  • Reading documents.
  • Useful JAWS features in Microsoft word.
  • The basics of browsing the internet.
  • How to get more help.
  • The JAWS Settings Centre.
  • The JAWS Dictionary Manager.
  • Using the JAWS Cursor.

Costing.

The Over Easy: The Switch from window-Eyes to JAWS course is priced £30 which is currently $38.
Purchase Over Easy: The Switch from window-Eyes to JAWS Online.

Alternatively, anyone can purchase the course by sending an Email to jaws@hartgen.org, whereupon a fully accessible electronic invoice will be sent to you which can be paid through PayPal or any major credit or debit card. Orders can also be placed by telephone:

  • Call us (from within the UK): 02920-850298.
  • Call us (from the United States): 415-871-0626.
  • Call us (from any other country): (+44)2920-850298.

If you would like to read the views from participants of our previous courses, please Visit our Training area.

Summary.

For some people, it can be hard to move from one screen-reader to another, particularly if you've been using Window-Eyes for very many years. But here is a chance to get your skills to a point where you can work with JAWS effectively, and use that knowledge to learn more as you go. Join us to find out what JAWS can do for you!

ZoomText Fusion and Hartgen Consultancy Products: a Powerful Combination.

If you missed the news announced on VFO's FSCast Podcast yesterday, a new product comes to the accessibility market soon called zoomText Fusion.

Originally conceived to provide access to the Window-Eyes screen-reader with the ZoomText screen-magnifier, ZoomText Fusion has now been reborn to provide low vision users the ability to use JAWS for Windows and ZoomText. It is a powerful keyboard-driven magnification product to include an enhanced level of speech within a screen magnification environment.

ZoomText Fusion is ideally suited to organisations and establishments where there may be a varied user need, or indeed individuals whose vision fluctuates during the day and may well require additional sophisticated screen-reading to complement their use of the display with the computer mouse.

Although ZoomText Fusion is not released as of the time of this writing, we can already say that all of our products, without exception, are working with it. To be clear, that is StationPlaylist Studio, J-Dictate, Leasey and J-Say. So when browsing our website and looking at our product range, you can be confident that if you plan to use ZoomText Fusion, you can do so when you buy a package from us.

In terms of J-Say, towards the summer we do intend to add a range of voice commands so as to control the features of ZoomText which potentially you would want to change by speaking to the computer. These might be to change magnification levels, to control mouse pointer or colour settings, to name but a few examples. When creating this level of access, we will be sure not only to make it possible to control the requested feature but we will also give audio cues as to the status of the changed function. This will not only assist users but particularly blind trainers who are assisting people with low vision. That's an essential component so the blind trainer has confidence in delivering his or her classes or home tuition.

Our Leasey product will, in time, receive an update to provide low vision users with additional functionality.

In order for our products to work with ZoomText Fusion, users will need a new license. If you are purchasing a product from us for the first time, you can let us know whether it is for ZoomText Fusion or JAWS. If you are upgrading from JAWS to ZoomText Fusion, and you already own one of our products, the license can be transferred for an extremely nominal charge. Please talk to us if this applies to you.

In summary, there's nothing stopping any ZoomText Fusion user right now using our products, and in the coming months, they will be enhanced further to make the user experience even easier.

Remember too that our Training Area contains low cost training courses which may well assist a new user of Fusion getting up to speed with some of the keyboard commands for applications and many of the features specific to JAWS. This would be useful if a low vision user has not worked with JAWS previously.

We're very excited about bringing our product range to low vision users. We've wanted to do this for a long time as we have been asked for it on many occasions. ZoomText Fusion gives us this opportunity and on behalf of future customers, we would like to thank the team at VFO for making it possible.

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