Important Messages, such as Service Disruption.

Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM UK time. We will try to give assistance to those people not living in the UK outside of those hours if possible.

We are closed for the Christmas holidays from the evening of Wednesday 20 December 2017 through to Tuesday 2 January 2018.

We would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy New Year!

brianhartgen's blog

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.

Events

There are no events at present.

Forging Ahead with Sound Forge Pro and JAWS for Windows!

Introduction.

At the moment, we seem to be one of the "go to" places for courses on audio production with screen-reading software, so we're very pleased to be able to bring you some training in the use of Sound Forge Professional!

SOUND FORGE Pro is the application of choice for a generation of creative and prolific artists, producers, and editors. It is used extensively within many professional organisations responsible for creating high quality audio through to recording enthusiasts working at home.

Everything But the Kitchen Sink.

There are many advantages to using Sound Forge. These include:

  • Being able to undertake extremely precise audio editing.
  • Keystrokes for playback and selection are logical and similar to those used within word processing applications so the learning curve is made much easier.
  • Comes complete with many effects and tools to give your audio projects a high quality pristine sound. These include tools for restoring vinyl records and noise reduction.
  • Additional audio effects can be used to simulate room ambiences, such as large halls and churches.
  • Tools exist to improve the overall sound of audio, such as to limit audio clipping and to raise sound to specific levels. Moreover, you can also give your master that extra punch if that's what you're looking for.

In summary, If there were a lifetime achievement award for audio editing software, Sound Forge would be the favored candidate. The good news is that as blind people we can access the majority of its features too! We'll show you how to use Sound Forge to its best effect within our new training course.

Sound Forge, the Master.

There are plenty of audio production tools around. Indeed as we established in our training course for GoldWave, we were not only able to undertake some fairly precise editing but also mixed songs together ensuring the beat was constant. However, we did have to undertake some JAWS scripting work to ensure essential components of GoldWave could be accessed, (such as reading level metres), and to construct a logical keyboard interface. In addition to the range of PlugIns offered as part of the package, we would suggest that Sound Forge is the tool you need if you are serious about the end result of your audio. It is crowded with features to add the professional touch to your content, and certainly if you work in broadcasting or in a high end audio environment, this is the software to work with. What is particularly impressive is the ability to undertake very tight editing even in circumstances where you do not think you will be able to do so.

Even if you are using a Digital audio Workstation such as Reaper, it is quite probable that you will want to use software such as Sound Forge, either to do some initial work on the files you wish to import onto tracks or perhaps for some post-production at a later time. It is often helpful to learn about a number of audio editors, particularly if creating it is your core business or you use it frequently.

Access All Areas.

Sound Forge contains many keyboard shortcuts so you can access the key areas of the application, so theoretically it can be used with no special adaptation. But what makes the program the leader of the pack is the set of JAWS scripts created by Jim Snowbarger, a long-time Sound Forge user and an ardent audio enthusiast.

Not only do the scripts provide blind users with functionality above and beyond that which the program offers, but they deliver pertinent information available on screen which is immediately visually accessed by a sighted person. If you really care about the quality of your audio, these scripts are essential.

What Will I Learn?

The course is divided into four lessons, each of which lasts approximately 90 minutes. Topics covered include:

  • Optimising Sound Forge for use with JAWS.
  • Installing the JAWS script files.
  • Customising Sound Forge for audio recording and playback.
  • Making recordings.
  • The importance of level metres and how to check them.
  • Saving files.
  • Opening files.
  • Playing, and navigating through, the audio.
  • The differences between Absolute Mode, Relative Mode and Blip Mode.
  • Selecting Audio. This will be an extensive section as there are not only many ways in which to select audio depending upon the situation, but there are useful techniques to explore when doing so.
  • Playing the Selection.
  • Pre-Role to Cursor.
  • Audition cut.
  • Cut, Copy and Delete.
  • The "Go To" dialog.
  • Working with Markers.
  • Working with multiple files.
  • Changing volume levels and normalising.
  • Mixing speech with music, creating an introduction to a Podcast.
  • Fading.
  • Blending songs, creating a promotional item for radio.
  • Inserting silence.
  • Pitch change.
  • Graphic equalisation.
  • Reverb.
  • Mirror Impulses.
  • Wave Hammer.
  • Noise reduction and vinyl restoration.
  • Using external plugins.
  • Batch converter.

Who is the Course For?

This course is suited to anyone who has an interest in creating or working with audio content. You should be familiar with how your screen-reader functions together with Windows concepts, such as how to navigate around applications.
Even if you are a long-time Sound Forge devotee, you are likely to pick up some useful tips and tricks!

The JAWS scripts for Sound Forge can be purchased from this website. The cost is 30 US dollars.

If I Purchase the Course, What Will I Receive?

The course will give to you:

  • An audio recording of each lesson in MP3 format;
  • Sample files which you can use in your Projects and to work with at a later date.
  • A text keystroke summary and setup requirements.

Costing.

The cost of the course is £50 which is currently 62 US dollars.

Purchase Forging Ahead with Sound Forge Online.

Alternatively, anyone who would like to purchase the course should register their interest 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.

With a range of top-notch effects, easy-to-use keystrokes and giving you the ability to push the envelope that little bit further, Sound Forge could be for you and our training course will help you gain the most from it. Create that state of the art audio project today!

The StationPlaylist Workshop!

A Training Course for Users of JAWS for Windows and StationPlaylist.

Introduction.

For many years, the StationPlaylist software has been the tool of choice through which blind people broadcast their radio shows or even run their own stations. We know this because there are hundreds of StationPlaylist users on our customer database. If you use the software, are you getting the most from it or do you just work with the features you need?

The "Broadcast It" audio tutorial produced some time ago teaches a new user how to work with many aspects of StationPlaylist Studio (for broadcasting audio), StationPlaylist Creator (for managing schedules), and StationPlaylist Streamer (for sending output over the internet if external devices are being used). However, during the past year or two, the developers of this amazing product suite have created new features not described in the tutorial. This training course is for people who are using any one of the StationPlaylist products who want to improve the quality of their radio output and station management.

Hartgen Consultancy are ideally placed to run this training course. The JAWS scripts we have created and sell, in our view, provide unparalelled access to many features of the StationPlaylist products. We both sell and support the entire SPL product range. Finally, our internet radio station, Team-FM, is hosted exclusively using StationPlaylist tools and we take advantage of the vast majority of the features on offer in that regard.

What Will I Learn?

The course is divided into four sessions, each of which lasts approximately 60 minutes. Topics include, but are not restricted to:

  • Changes to the Options Dialog.
  • Customising V5.2 settings for optimum use.
  • Creating Song Hooks for upcoming promotion, both manually and automatically.
  • Voice-Tracking: Remote versus local, advantages and disadvantages.
  • Using remote voice tracking to good effect.
  • Voice-tracking shows to be played on a local PC, including use of the SPL Recorder.
  • Replay Gain.
  • Customising Metadata to include what's coming next.
  • Preparing Cue Sheets and what they are.
  • Working with Break Notes.
  • Separation Rules.
  • Schedule Restrictions.

Who is the Course For?

This course is suited to anyone who is familiar with many of the functions of StationPlaylist Studio and Creator if appropriate and who would like to build on existing skills. You should be familiar with how your screen-reader functions together with Windows concepts, such as how to navigate around applications.

If I Purchase the Course, What Will I Receive?

The course will give to you:

  • An audio recording of each lesson in MP3 format.
  • Text documentation to reinforce topics covered in the lessons. This includes a comprehensive list of keystrokes so as to achieve all tasks and Crossfading setup requirements.

Costing.

The cost of the course is £40 which is currently $52.
Purchase The StationPlaylist Workshop Online.

Alternatively, anyone who wishes to purchase the course can send 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.

The StationPlaylist suite of products is the most accessible means of broadcasting to a very high standard. Get yourself into the studio and bring your radio shows and station to the next level!

24 Karat GoldWave! A Training Course for Screen-Reader Users.

Introduction.

Many blind people love creating audio content. It is something we can enjoy completely and independently. But how do you get started? Moreover, if you have knowledge of how to undertake simple recording or editing tasks, how do you build on those skills to add effects such as reverb, change the tone of the audio known as graphic equalisation, or apply noise reduction such as for restoring those old vinyl records and tapes?

Fortunately there is not only a training course which can teach these skills but there is also probably the most accessible audio editor we have ever seen: GoldWave.

Our training course, "24 Karat GoldWave", will be ideal for those just beginning to learn how to record and process audio content for the first time, through to those people who have some more detailed knowledge. If you use an alternative sound editor, you may like to purchase the training course to learn why GoldWave is streets ahead of the competitors, certainly in terms of accessibility. Put simply, despite its low price point, GoldWave is a simple, easy-to-use, accessible audio production tool, ideal for people who do not want or need to know about the more complex digital audio workstations. Read onto find out about the many features of GoldWave and what you can achieve.

What is GoldWave?

GoldWave is a highly rated, professional digital audio editor. It's fully loaded to do everything from the simplest recording and editing to the most sophisticated audio processing, restoration, enhancements, and conversions. It is easy to learn and use.

  • Play your favourite songs, fast forward and rewind, or change the playback speed so as to learn a song by ear or transcribe dictation.
  • Record from any source, such as microphone, line-in, turntable or audio streaming.
  • Record speeches or reports, music, your own voice, Set a timer to start recording at a certain day and time. Use level activated recording to continue and pause recording automatically whenever the signal is above or below a given value.
  • Edit audio with all the familiar concepts including Cut, Copy, Paste and delete.
  • Apply dozens of different audio effects. Adjust bass or treble with the Equalizer. Even out volume levels with Auto Gain. Easily fade in and out background music, add echoes, reverbs, flangers, and much more. Change the pitch of your voice or make it sound mechanical. Preview effects real-time before processing them. Most effects include presets for commonly used settings so you don't have to be an audio expert.
  • Remaster old vinyl or tape recordings. Use Noise Reduction and Pop/Click filters to clean up the audio and take out the buzz, hiss, crackle, and clicks.
  • Includes a collection of powerful tools. For example, copy audio directly from an audio CD with the CD Reader tool.
  • Contains many keyboard shortcuts for tasks which can be reassigned if necessary to suit your own tastes.
  • Freely available script files provide important information required for working on projects.

What Will I Learn?

The course is divided into four sessions, each of which lasts 90 minutes. The course not only teaches you how to work with GoldWave, but also to understand important concepts such as good microphone placement, poor and excellent editing, and effective audio mixing. Topics include, but are not restricted to:

  • Installing GoldWave and the accompanying script files.
  • Configuring GoldWave including the settings specific to recording and playback.
  • Customising GoldWave for use with screen-readers.
  • Making Your first recording.
  • Saving and opening files.
  • Playing and navigating through the audio.
  • Learning the location of the cursor in hours, minutes and seconds.
  • Moving to a specific time in the audio.
  • Selecting audio ready for editing.
  • Playing the selected audio.
  • Cut, copy, paste and delete.
  • Making very small audio adjustments.
  • Moving between a number of files which are open.
  • Copying audio from one file to another.
  • Adjusting playback speed.
  • Adjusting Volume and Normalising.
  • Checking the level metres.
  • Cue Points and how to use them.
  • Fading and Crossfading.
  • Mixing voice over music.
  • Creating a simple podcast intro with music, speech and sound clips.
  • Creating a promotional item for radio blending songs and speech.
  • Saving recordings to MP3.
  • Using Effects to alter sounds in a variety of ways. Changing pitch, volume, graphic equalisation, echo and reverb, Filter.
  • Noise Reduction and audio restoration.
  • Swapping channels and panning.
  • Using external PlugIns to enhance reverb and audio restoration.
  • Extracting the content of CD's.

How Does GoldWave Compare to Other Audio Editors in Terms of Accessibility and Functionality?

Undeniably, GoldWave is an inexpensive audio production tool and so you may be forgiven for thinking that it does not offer the sophistication of higher priced products. We would suggest otherwise. Not only are many features comparable to similar products, but in terms of accessibility GoldWave outshines them.

The later versions of some of the more popular audio editors are becoming more and more challenging to work with from an accessibility standpoint. Take "Audio Ducking" as an example, the process where a person's voice can be mixed over music. Many other sound editors do not give you the flexibility and control over this process which GoldWave delivers. Superb results can be achieved in this regard when using this program. Join us and see how it is done!

Who is the Course For?

This course is suited to anyone who has an interest in creating or working with audio content. You should be familiar with how your screen-reader functions together with Windows concepts, such as how to navigate around applications.

By the end of the course, you ought to be able to carry out the simplest of recordings through to creating audio for podcasts, PowerPoint presentations or perhaps to mix together a spot or promo for broadcast on radio. You decide!

What Happens If I Do Not Have the GoldWave Software?

This is not a problem. A fully functional evaluation copy of GoldWave can be downloaded and installed, details of which will be provided to you when you sign up for the training course.

Should you decide to purchase a copy of GoldWave, a lifetime license for home use is priced $45 or alternatively $15 per year.

Links will also be provided by us for the JAWS scripts mentioned above. Additional JAWS scripting was carried out during the preparation of this course to improve accessibility and usability.

If I Purchase the Course, What Will I Receive?

The course will give to you:

  • An audio recording of each lesson in MP3 format.
  • Sample files which you can use in your Projects and to work with at a later date.
  • Text documentation to reinforce topics covered in the lessons. This will include a comprehensive list of keystrokes so as to achieve all tasks.

Costing.

The cost of the course is £50 which is currently 62 US dollars.
Purchase 24 Karat GoldWave Online.

Alternatively, anyone who would like to purchase the course should register their interest 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.
  • JAWS for Windows or the NVDA screen-reader. Please note that our company is exclusively concerned with the JAWS for Windows screen-reader, however there is an Add-On for NVDA and GoldWave. NVDA has been tested extensively with the program and it works well. Note that the AddOn does not contain all of the functionality as provided by the JAWS scripts.
  • At the very least, a microphone so as to make recordings with GoldWave, or alternatively a more sophisticated environment, such as an audio mixing console. If you do not wish to make recordings, and are content with importing audio including our samples, a microphone may not be necessary.

Summary.

Over many years, GoldWave has proven itself to be a thoroughly usable, productive audio environment in which to work. It has a large feature set, great file compatibility, and plenty of effects and tools for audio restoration. Why not give it a try and learn how to use it from a blind person's perspective! It's a Golden Opportunity!

New Build of Leasey 3.2 is On It's Way!

Hi to all

On Monday we will be releasing the first new build of Leasey for 2017 with, we hope, more to come during the next 12 months. We hope you enjoy the new features in this build. Remember, if you haven't told your friends about Leasey yet, please do spread the word. As one user put it, "There are lots of amazing tricks hidden inside!"

The Outlook 2016 Calendar.

Since changes within Microsoft Outlook 2016 were recently introduced, creating appropriate access to it has been, to say the least, challenging. At the time of writing, if Leasey is not used, there are a number of distinct disadvantages. If you live in a country other than the United States of America, you will not hear the day of the week spoken as you move through the items in the calendar, only the date. This makes planning appointments very difficult. Moreover, a lot of unwanted information is spoken which does not provide a rapid way of moving through appointments and dates. Appointments are not always shown in Braille. Finally, pressing the Tab key too many times can cause a user to move to appointments or events outside the scope of the current day and so he or she can become disorientated.

Leasey will assist with all of these difficulties. So you will hear:

  1. The days of the week as you navigate the calendar, irrespective of the country in which you live;
  2. Whether an item is an all day event or a timed appointment. If it is an all day event, JAWS will say, "All Day";
  3. All information is displayed in Braille;
  4. As you navigate day by day, you will hear information presented in a logical sequence, such as, day, then date, then the number of items for the day;
  5. If you Tab through all of the appointments, Leasey prevents you from moving elsewhere in the calendar. You can then choose an alternative day or Shift+Tab back through the items.

A new Chapter of our documentation has been written which explains how to use the Outlook 2016 calendar.

Please note: One of the reasons this has been so challenging to accomplish is that Microsoft renders the information concerning dates and appointments differently. It not only depends upon the country in which you live but also the build of Microsoft Office being used. So please, if you work with Leasey and you find a problem, be sure to let us know because we are paying extremely close attention to this.

The HTML Assistant.

Many people are creating text for blogs, web pages and HTML documents. But in order for the presentation to look visually appealing and to enable a high standard of navigation by screen-reading software, it is important to include HTML markup. This enables you to create text at specific Heading levels, bulleted or numbered lists or even insert tables and pictures.

Remembering the HTML syntax however to include in your text can be tricky. If one important character is not included, chances are that your formatting will not be present when you read the document at a later date, or maybe a link you insert will not function correctly. This is where the HTML Assistant can help.

There are many advantages of the HTML assistant:

  1. You do not need to remember the characters to insert for the HTML code.
  2. There is only one keystroke to remember in order to carry out all the tasks the HTML Assistant is capable of doing.
  3. The HTML Assistant is intelligent enough to know which task you are working on and will always guide you.
  4. In some instances, you can apply the HTML syntax to text you have already composed, although the preference is that you should use it while you are writing the original document. In summary, try to get into the routine of using the HTML Assistant as you write rather than after the event.

What the HTML Assistant Can Do.

To bring into view the HTML Assistant, hold down all three keys to the left of the Space Bar on a standard desktop keyboard, (ALT+Windows+Control), and while doing so, tap the letter H, for HTML.

A list of 14 items appears. When you press Enter on any option, you will be asked at least one question, possibly more. Remember, this is the only keystroke you need to remember to perform all HTML-related tasks.

Currently the HTML Assistant will help with creating headings at different levels, paragraphs, links, block quotes, bulleted and numbered lists, inserting images, and creating tables.

In respect of tables, Leasey's HTML Assistant will help in defining the column headers and rows. Leasey will also advise you when you are starting a new row of the table.

With pictures, Leasey guides you through specifying where the picture is located, alternative text for screen-readers, and the image dimensions. Leasey does also provide some guidance in terms of inches for the image, which gives you a greater understanding of what is required.

As an example of how to use the HTML Assistant, here is an extract from our documentation concerning creating a bulleted or numbered list.

This is one of the more complex parts of creating HTML code because not only is it necessary to insert characters to denote and terminate a list, but also it varies depending upon the type of list you wish to create. You would under normal circumstances have to place a tag at the start and end of each list item. Leasey takes care of this for you.

A bulleted list means that a bullet will be placed at the start of each list item. A numbered list means that the figures 1, 2, 3, etc, will be placed at the start of each list item. You will observe in our documentation that we always use numbered lists where step-by-step examples are given, but bulleted lists when highlighting a series of points to consider where you should not follow a particular routine.

From the HTML Assistant list, Go ahead and select a bulleted or numbered list option. You are asked for the first item to be placed on the list. Type it in and press Enter.

The text is inserted surrounded by the necessary HTML code.

You will also notice that characters have been placed above the text you have just typed, which indicates that a new bulleted or numbered list has begun.

Press the HTML Assistant key again. Rather than taking you back into the list of options with which you will already be familiar, Leasey knows that you are in the middle of creating a list, so she just asks you for the next item to be placed on it. Type it in and press Enter. Repeat the process as many times as necessary so as to complete your list.

You will notice each time you are asked for the next list item, you also hear this prompt: "Please Type the next Item of the Numbered List, then press Enter. To end the list, type the word, end."

So, as instructed, when you wish to end the list, into the Edit Field type the word, "end", and press Enter. Your list is now created and Leasey has terminated it with the necessary tag.

End of Documentation Extract.

In summary, we wanted to make it easier for people to create smart web pages without having to understand the series of characters to type in each situation. We do hope it helps!
Many features in Leasey are concerned with improving productivity while making computing easy for people at the same time. This new feature certainly fits those requirements.

Naturally, there is a lengthy chapter in our documentation which explains how to use this feature. We expect many enhancements to be made to this over time.

Other Enhancements.

Leasey can now be set to load the Facebook Mobile site as opposed to the larger regular version. Moreover, Leasey has been adjusted to make even using the mobile site easier. There is a full Chapter of our documentation to train you how to use the Facebook mobile site.

Two new radio stations have been added. The Accessible Friends Network radio station can be found in the Variety category and we're pleased to have Now Country back in the Country category.

One of the most popular features of last year in Leasey was the introduction of reproducing Emoji. We have added a number of new items to the Emoji list.

The new release of Leasey will be available on Monday and we hope you find it, and all the other features she has, useful!

Don't Let Reaper be Grim! A Training Course for Screen-Reader Users.

Introduction.

REAPER is a complete digital audio production application offering a full multitrack audio recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering toolset. REAPER's full, flexible feature set and renowned stability have found a home wherever digital audio is used: commercial and home studios, broadcasting, podcasting, location recording, education, science and research, sound design, or game development. Reaper can be installed on high-end desktop PC's down to a student's laptop.

When a screen-reader user wants to learn to record, edit, mix and process audio, the first questions are usually: are the programs accessible? Will I need script files to support the application? And how much is the entire package?

Fortunately due to some present and past talented innovators, Reaper is extremely accessible. Two freely available packages to support various screen-readers exist, (Osara and ReaAccess), so you can gain the most from this truly awesome application.

But how do you use it? Reaper contains hundreds of features and corresponding shortcut keys to allow you to work with it. But it is helpful not only to understand how these features work but also the concepts behind them and why you would use one function in preference to another. We've read many comments from people who simply do not know how to begin using the program or ways in which they can further their limited knowledge. It can be bewildering.

"Don't Let Reaper be Grim" from Hartgen Consultancy will show you how to get the most from Reaper within the context of audio. While Reaper is perfectly capable of handling midi and tasks relating to music composition, this course does not cover those aspects. The course is specific to the audio enthusiast or anyone needing to create sound as part of his or her education or employment.

Over the years, a number of attempts have been successfully made to ensure visually impaired people can work with audio either for basic editing or to accomplish extremely complex projects. We think that Reaper offers the most accessible solution there has ever been!

What Will I Learn?

The course is divided into four sessions, each of which lasts for approximately 90 minutes. Topics include, but are not restricted to:

  • Installing Reaper and the Accessible Solution.
  • Configuring Reaper and the access technology.
  • Training Mode, Getting Help and Learning the Keystrokes.
  • Enabling and disabling speech output.
  • Single Track Versus Multi-Track Productions, what are they?
  • Working with tracks.
  • Recording audio.
  • Playing and navigating through the audio.
  • Working with Projects.
  • Adding media files.
  • Level metres, adjusting volume and panning. Panning refers to the placement of audio in the stereo field.
  • Muting and Soloing.
  • The concept of non-destructive editing.
  • Editing in a single or multi-track environment, including working with Items, selection, cut, copy, paste, delete and Ripple Editing (which is a Reaper function).
  • Hear time values rather than musical terms.
  • Moving to specific time values.
  • Combining a project into a single audio file for regular playback.
  • Working with Markers.
  • Track Effects, such as Graphic Equalisation and Audio Compression.
  • Bypassing Effects.
  • Converting from stereo to mono.
  • Normalise audio.
  • Crossfading.
  • Adjusting Pitch and Rate.

Who is the Course For?

This course is suited to anyone who has an interest in creating or working with audio content. You should be familiar with how your screen-reader functions together with Windows concepts, such as how to navigate around applications.

The course is fast-paced. 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.

What Happens If I Do Not Have the Reaper Software?

This is not a problem. A fully functional 60 day demonstration copy of Reaper can be downloaded and installed, details of which will be provided to you when you sign up for the training course.

Should you decide to purchase a copy of Reaper, a license for home or non-profit use is priced $60. So as well as being extremely powerful, it is one of the less expensive products in this field.

Links will also be provided by us for the two access technology packages mentioned above.

If I Purchase the Course, What Will I Receive?

The course will give to you:

  • An audio recording of each of the 4 lessons in MP3 format.
  • Sample files which you can use in your Projects and to work with at a later date.
  • A list of keystrokes to reinforce topics covered in the lessons.
  • Resources collected together during the training course to enhance the Reaper experience.

Costing.

The cost of the course is £50 which is currently 62 US dollars.
Purchase Don't Let Reaper be Grim 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.
  • JAWS for Windows or NVDA screen-reader. Please note that our company is exclusively concerned with the JAWS for Windows screen-reader, however NVDA has been tested extensively with both Reaper-compatible access technologies.
  • At the very least, a microphone so as to make recordings with Reaper, or alternatively a more sophisticated environment, such as an audio mixing console. If you do not wish to make recordings, and are content with importing audio including our samples, a microphone may not be necessary.

Summary.

Reaper has proven itself to be a thoroughly usable, productive audio environment in which to work: a production powerhouse." Why not give it a try and learn how to use it from a blind person's perspective! And remember, "Don't Let Reaper be Grim"!

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