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

Coming Soon to Leasey Games.

Hi everyone.

One of the things we've enjoyed doing most this year has been developing the Leasey Games project. We've been able to work with some amazingly talented people, and as well as that it's been a pleasure to hear about some of the kind of games that people really want to play.

It's always been our contention that the people who don't want to play shoot 'em ups or fighting games in general are woefully under catered for. When games which don't involve fighting do come out they tend to be card games, quizz games, interactive fiction or some kind of co-ordination test. We asked, via our Leasey mailing list and other forms of social media, what games you'd like to see developed and the top answers were surprising.

Many people wanted a garden or farm sim game, a pet sim and a fantasy game with fantastical creatures such as mermaids and unicorns, but with exploring and questing rather than fighting. we were also asked for more games featuring the bumbling but lovable troll from our last game, Treasure Troll, developed by Philip Benefal.

Developing any game takes a lot of work, time and money, so we can't fulfill all the requests at once, as much as we'd like to, but we do have two games in development. One we will be giving you as a Christmas present, and one we are confident will be ready early in the new year.

Our Christmas Game.

Truffle Troll, by Philip Benefal, is a fun and challenging arcade game. Though we're giving it to you for Christmas you will want to play it all the year round.

You may remember at the end of Treasure Troll, our big friend bought himself an ice cream parlour. Unfortunately he has been unable to keep staff, so he has to run it all by himself, with your help. Can you run to the freezer, collect trays of ice creams, give out orders to customers before they get annoyed enough to start breaking the place up, and remember, if you run too fast you will drop the tray or even fall down, really not good for business. Five minutes of fast-paced fun are guaranteed. Can you make it to the end, where the luxurious rum truffle ice creams come out, serve those and score megapoints.

You asked, We Listened.

The thing we have been asked for most is a garden or farm sim game. We will soon be able to bring you My Country Place, designed by Louise Hartgen and written by Aaron Baker of VGStorm.com, with music by Elias Software.

You have always dreamed of having your own farm. Now, because of a windfall, you can make your dream come true. You have a house, basic furniture and a farm with twenty empty fields. You can build barns and stables, buy animals, plant crops and fruit orchards, make your own farm come to life. Explore your farm and house, lay them out just the way you want. Use the money you get from selling your harvested crops to make your farm better. By better machinery, build a dairy or a winery, upgrade your house with every luxury money can buy. But things don't always run smoothly. To everything there is a season. Things have to be done on time, and sometimes the unexpected can happen in the form of our farm mini-game challenges.

With imersive sound, five mini-games and lush orchestral music, we hope this is a game you will want to play and replay over and over again.

We're always interested in hearing about what games you'd like to see on Leasey Games, or in hearing from any game developer who'd like to work with us. You can contact us by writing to games@hartgen.org.

With Truffle Troll rolling out at Christmas and My Country Place in the New Year, we're really pleased to be bringing these great new games to Leasey and we hope you'll enjoy them. Happy gaming from all here at Hartgen Consultancy!

New at Hartgen Consultancy!

Hi to everyone and best wishes for the weekend!

We've been busy at Hartgen Consultancy and we'd just like to give you an idea as to what you can expect from our company in the months ahead.

Training Courses.

Many students enrolled for the training course "A Word In Your Ear", using JAWS in conjunction with Microsoft Word. The students learned plenty of tips and tricks to improve their productivity within Microsoft Word when using the JAWS screen-reader, and a focal point of the course related to how to create accessible documents in line with good practice, including document, form and table design. Here is what a few people had to say about it:

I would like to sincerely thank you for doing such an excellent job with the "a word in your ear" course.  It was fantastic to be able to take part in a course that was fully accessible online with information relevant to a Jaws user. I have learnt a huge amount that will allow me to be a more efficient Microsoft Word user which will be very beneficial to me particularly in work.
Your instruction was extremely precise and both the audio files and notes will prove to be a very useful resource.
I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending your courses to other Jaws users and have no doubt that I will sign up to another of them in the future.

While I have been delinquent in tuning in or (to date) even downloading the files to review due to work demands), I know this will be worth the hours I will spend enhancing my already good Word skills. Great to see this offering and to help support development of accessible content for improved productivity.

Students participated in both the Microsoft Word and JAWS Scripting classes via one of our Talking Communities conference rooms and the audio lessons were provided afterwards for reference.

The Next Course is scheduled for November if there is sufficient demand relating to Microsoft Outlook. Do join us, you may well learn a thing or two.
If you have suggestions for further online training courses, please do not hesitate to let us know!

Products.

There are likely to be two Leasey updates before the end of the year. Naturally, we are ensuring that Leasey works alongside the upcoming JAWS version 17, and we are now fixing existing bugs and adding new features too. Feature suggestions are always welcome.

Two very extensive games are now in development, based upon user feedback. Certainly we hope to make one of these available to Leasey users as a Christmas gift. We know you are just going to love them!

As stated in an earlier blog post, J-Say version 14 will be available at the start of 2016. A new update to J-Dictate to accommodate JAWS version 17 is also due for release this year.

Training and Scripting.

As a reminder, training in the use of applications with JAWS, together with scripting and scripting assessments can be carried out at your home, place of study or work. Training is also now being provided in schools. For a quotation, do email jaws@hartgen.org or call us on 02920-850298.

Summary.

As you can see, many things are happening right now and we look forward to working with many more JAWS users in the months to come!

New Zealand Citizens Benefit From Huge Savings on Hartgen Consultancy Products

Anyone living in New Zealand can now benefit from significant discounts on products from Hartgen Consultancy if they are purchase with the screen-reader JAWS for Windows! All four of our core packages, (Leasey Advanced, Leasey Total Package, J-Dictate and J-Say) can have the reduction applied.

If you are a new computer user, just starting out with JAWS for Windows for the very first time, this could be an ideal opportunity to purchase some fantastic computing access, providing enhanced functionality which could be life-changing.

  • You can save $160 when purchasing JAWS Home with Leasey Advanced.
  • You can save $200 when purchasing JAWS Home with Leasey Total Package.
  • You can save $160 when purchasing JAWS Home with Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium and J-Dictate.
  • You can save $410 when purchasing JAWS Home with Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional and J-Say.

We're delighted that New Zealand are leading the way and are the first country in the world to have some really attractive packages for those people purchasing JAWS. We very much hope that other countries will follow their lead.

Feel free to call our New Zealand distributor, AACSA Consulting on 0800 254844, and ask about their JAWS packages. You will be glad you did!

Hartgen Consultancy Products using JAWS 17

Any day now, Freedom Scientific are expected to release the public beta of JAWS for Windows version 17. A podcast has been released containing details of many of the improvements.

As one of the few companies in the world developing products which hook into JAWS, we wanted to write a few lines about their relationship with the new jaws 17 version.

When you test a beta product, you do so with two goals in mind:

  1. You are curious. You want to find out how the new features work and how the overall functionality is going to impact upon your daily use of the computer.
  2. You report bugs to the developing company.

This second point is the most important. We should not be making Freedom Scientific's job more difficult by introducing our own functions to what is already a juggling act between ensuring new features work through to interaction with different operating systems, (one of which is quite new), together with popular applications. It's a very serious point. The company are providing a beta product, and if you submit a bug, they must be in a position to try and reproduce it. They cannot do that if we're adding functionality.

With that said, here is the status of our products in relation to JAWS 17:

  • StationPlaylist Studio. The scripts for version 5.01 and 5.1 are both ready for JAWS 17. While they do lock into the default JAWS scripts, they are not particularly intrusive. So baring in mind my earlier point, they will install into the public beta and could be used if you really wanted to.
  • Leasey. This will be ready for JAWS 17 when it is officially launched. We have prevented Leasey from installing into JAWS 17. While we are very confident that Leasey works fine, we would like our own beta testers to do a lot more work with this. What we can say is that Leasey will work exactly the same, whether you are using JAWS versions 14 through to 17.
  • J-Dictate. This has the same status as Leasey. We will ensure that J-Dictate will function with JAWS 17 on the day of its official launch. It will also function with Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 14.
  • J-Say. This will take some more work, particularly in view of the JAWS 17 feature of Smart Navigation on web pages, revealed in the Freedom Scientific FSCast. Compatibility with Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 14 also requires some work. But again, we're confident that we can follow our usual schedule and be on target for an early 2016 release. This will be J-Say version 14. If you are not on our SMA program, it may be wise to get onto it. Please contact us for details.

In summary, we suggest you use the new upcoming JAWS beta in the way it will be provided to you, so as to give Freedom Scientific the very best chance of resolving any difficulties before an official release, which is expected to be late October. Happy testing!

Leasey Version 2 is Released! Please Read Carefully.

Hi to everyone

We would like to introduce you to Leasey version 2! Over the past couple of months, we have been working hard on some new features to help with work or study, and to entertain you. We very much hope you are going to enjoy this new release.

Before we run through the highlights and let you know about installation, if you encounter any difficulties, we would prefer it if you did not ask questions or submit bug reports on social media. Please use the public Leasey Email list, or write directly to support@leaseycentral.com. This means we can keep a careful track of problems arising as this version is installed onto hundreds of machines around the world, and we can address them in a methodical way. We will certainly be releasing updates to this version during the weeks and months ahead. Please also be patient. We will get back to you with a resolution to your problem as quickly as possible.

Now to the good stuff, the highlights of this version. Please consult the relevant sections of our considerably expanded Leasey Documentation for full details. The documentation contains over 30 pages of new tutorial content.

Support for the Microsoft Outlook 2013 Calendar.

Support for the Outlook calendar is probably the most requested feature we have had. This is not surprising, since many people need to use it as part of their employment. Calendar appointments can also be synchronised to your mobile device.

The support we have added includes:

  • Automatic announcing of timed appointments and all day events as you move through the days. Leasey tells you brief details of each appointment, not just that they exist.
  • Pressing tab to move through all appointments presents them in a logical sequence for easy review and understanding.
  • As you Tab to each appointment, you are automatically advised whether it is an all day event (rather than speaking midnight from one day to midnight on another), the total number of days the appointment spans, whether you are focused upon the final day of a multiple all day event, and the notes associated with it.
  • Leasey can be customised to speak the full details of the appointment, (such as whether a reminder is associated with it), or just the subject and location details.
  • All appointments can be placed within the JAWS Virtual Viewer for closer inspection.
  • A cue is available, in the form of the words "end of items", to denote that no more appointments exist for a given day.
  • Within the Week or Work Week Views, as you navigate the days you are advised how many appointments are available for the given week. If you Tab through the appointments, you hear the date on which each appointment falls, together with the other details listed above.
  • A Leasey Application menu exists to move to all common calendar elements, such as the next appointment, even if it is some distance away from the focused date. Leasey Basic users will enjoy real human speech in this menu.
  • Braille support has been carefully constructed and is available in the calendar.

LeaseySearch.

LeaseySearch has been confined until this point to the purpose of searching for book information. LeaseySearch allows you to quickly find any information no matter the application in which you are working. In the past, it has functioned with RNIB Overdrive, Bookshare, Audible books, the CNIB Library in Canada, Vision Australia's library catalogue, and the National Library Service of america's Braille and audio collection.

LeaseySearch has now been extended to include:

  • Google. Type what you want to search for, press Enter, and focus lands on the first result.
  • Wikipedia. Enter the search term, press Enter, and the full Wikipedia article is retrieved with focus at the starting point.
  • Youtube. Again, enter the video title or artist, press Enter, and a specially customised Youtube page is available with focus on the first result. When inside a Youtube video, (and when working within Internet Explorer), keys are available to pause and play it, together with fast forwarding and rewinding quickly.
  • Amazon. It is not only possible to search by individual department on amazon, but it is also relative to your own country. When the chosen item is located, Leasey will set focus to the appropriate point on the amazon page to obtain a description, such as a book summary.

Amazon Kindle.

Many of our Leasey users would like to read books on Amazon Kindle when they have been purchased. Leasey version 2 will support the Amazon Kindle accessibility PlugIn, with a number of significant improvements:

  • Kindle can be launched from Leasey's Main Menu.
  • Books are presented in a vertical list rather than a four-by-four grid for easy navigation.
  • Keystrokes are available when reading the book with which Leasey users will be familiar. Good examples would be Insert+Down Arrow to read, Control key to pause, Right and Left Arrow keys during SayAll to skip sentence by sentence.
  • A Leasey Application menu again is available to carry out common tasks within Amazon Kindle, including changing voice parameters, moving to specific book sections and to synchronise the reading position with other devices.

A link pointing to the Kindle Accessibility Plugin is available on Leasey Central.

LeaseyGames Module.

One of the most exciting developments in this release is a special LeaseyGames Module. Whether you would like an easy to use word building game, something to get you thinking or to play online with your friends, Leasey has you covered.

We are pleased to offer RS Games for online playing. Using a simple menu structure, RS Games makes it easy to play games such as Apples to Apples, Blackjack, 1000 Miles, Battleship, Cards Against Humanity, Uno, Monopoly, Bingo and many more. It is a wonderful client for both game play and social interaction.

We are also delighted to offer the full complement of the Blind Gamers catalogue from Spoonbill software. Includes over 30 fantastically developed, easy to use games, such as card and board games including Scrabble, Solitaire, Code Breaker, Cribbage, Mastermind and more. Sound effects and music are available too. Ideal for relaxation and fun!

The amazing Park ~Boss from NA Soft is a strategic arcade gamewhere you need to use your brains rather than your quick reactions. You begin with a field on which you need to construct a theme park. This game is all about management. You need to build attractions, employ people, keep your customers satisfied, ensure utilities are available such as toilets and refreshments, and much more. It is wonderful to see your own little empire grow, but things can, and do, go wrong!

All the above games have been included within a special Leasey Games menu for quick and easy location. Very kind permission has been obtained to include them within the Leasey Games Module which can only be installed if you have a license to use Leasey, not the demonstration copy.

A Game Exclusive to Leasey!

The piece de resistance however is the first in a series of games developed exclusively for Leasey.

Designed by Lulu Hartgen and developed by Philip Bennefall, (a seasoned game programmer and software engineer), Treasure Troll combines quality and fully orchestrated music (which changes depending upon how effective you are at game play), original sound effects and vocal production. The music emanates from the Elias engine. Used in specialist and mainstream gaming products, through Elias the music is just as dynamic and flexible as the corresponding composition would have been in a movie. Simple yet challenging, as with all the Leasey Games the interface is easy to use with few keystrokes to remember.

You are a troll who suddenly falls into a cave. Fairies, who guard a horde of golden treasure, sleep around the walls of the cave. Your task is to steal all the treasure By collecting it as it moves and floats across the cave. Gather it before it disappears, don't hit the walls which will wake the fairies with nasty consequences, avoid hazards and perils, snatch falling bonuses from the air, play through ten quickening levels and increase your scores. Completing the game is not enough to get the highest score! Quick reactions and careful thought will do that!

The Q9 Action Game!

Hartgen Consultancy have purchased the rights to the Blastbay Studios Q9 Action Game and we are pleased to bring it to you in Leasey version 2.

Finger numbing action, stunning audio imagery and a touch of morbid comedy is combined in this game, promising hours of thrilling and challenging game play.

The game features pristine sound effects and original orchestral music, carefully combined to create a truly unique gaming experience. Fight your way through four virtual worlds filled to the brim with all kinds of murderous monsters, treacherous traps and other surprises, and finally attempt to defeat the boss who is patiently waiting for you at the very end.

As with Treasure Troll, this game is what is called a "side-scroller" which means you control Q9's direction by using the Arrow keys on your keyboard; moving him left and right to navigate through the levels.
This game is purely sound driven with no graphics, so you must use the sound effects and audio environments within the game to move from place to place and to avoid enemies and obstacles.

You assume the role of the little alien Q9 who has had the misfortune to crash on Earth, managing to lose his spaceship somewhere in the process. Now it's your job to guide him through numerous dangers and exciting adventures so that he can, with some luck, find his spaceship in order to return home again.

What Else Should I Know About the Leasey Games Module?

  • The Leasey Games Module cannot be downloaded and installed by anyone. You will need to have a Leasey User License, not a demonstration copy. If you have one, you will be able to select the Module from the Help menu. Alternatively, select "Play Games" from Leasey's Main Menu, or press the Leasey Key then G. If the LeaseyGames Module is not installed, you will be prompted to do this.
  • Treasure Troll and the Q9 Action Game are not available outside of the Leasey platform.
  • The overall footprint on the machine for the Leasey Games module is kept as small as possible.
  • While games vary in their complexity, the way in which you play is kept very straightforward.
  • Any game developers who would like us to license their projects on the Leasey platform should send an Email to games@hartgen.org, whereupon we can have a folow-up discussion. All games should be bug free as far as possible, and sound effects and music used should be original.

We very much hope that the 50 games included in Leasey version 2 provide a good starting point for those people who would like to play. More games will become available over time. We have already commissioned a very extensive one for the future.

Smaller Improvements.

LeaseyCuts. People love our LeaseyCuts facility, where you can launch a Microsoft Word document, folder or web page from any location on the computer. We know customers who have hundreds of LeaseyCuts stored. This has now been extended to accommodate any file, such as a text document, PowerPoint presentation or an Excel Workbook. Simply create the LeaseyCut pointing to it and launch the item whenever you need to. It's quick and easy!

Firefox. Leasey version 2 supports the Mozilla Firefox web browser. Our LeaseyAlerts (for setting focus to areas of web pages automatically), LeaseySelect (for selecting text passages for copying), LeaseyCuts (for storing web pages to get back to later), LeaseySticky Notes (for annotating web page content) and LeaseyPoints (for bookmarking specific passages) all work.

Dropbox. While Leasey version 1 contains the ability to monitor Dropbox activity, (such as advising you of the progress of file upload or download), version 2 provides full access to the Dropbox Preferences dialog for managing activity. This includes more reliable performance when moving from one control to another, switching between Tabbed Pages, and accurately speaking field names.

Windows Explorer File Properties. Unless you use the JAWS Cursor, it is not possible to view the Properties of a file or folder when ALT+Enter has been pressed. This includes the file or folder size, how many files in a folder, the last date it was modified, and so on. Now you can hear it quickly. From within the Properties Dialog, press ALT+Enter to hear important information, and the same keystroke twice quickly to send the details to the JAWS Virtual Viewer.

Talking Communities. Many people use the Talking Communities software in order to chat with people around the world. In addition to the script files provided by Freedom Scientific, Leasey allows you to hear the name of the person speaking, (Control+Shift+T), or there are options to control whether the name should be spoken automatically or sent to Braille only. There is even an option to advise when the microphone is available. Press Control+Shift+V to cycle through the options.

Scanning. We've had a lot of requests for support in respect of scanning documents and books with Leasey, which has come from both individual customers and organisations. Leasey provides support for Serotek's DocuScan program. We evaluated many mainstream and specialist packages and we felt DocuScan provided the highest quality access with a straightforward keyboard-centric interface. Because the new release of DocuScan contains the ability to function alongside JAWS, your speech and Braille-based preferences can be used alongside the program. When inside a scanned document, the aforementioned LeaseySelect and LeaseyPoints will function as usual.

DocuScan is much more than a scanning program however. You can quicly process and read PDF files which have previously been scanned as images. Alternatively, import a PDF, Word Document, text or HTML file into DocuScan, and convert it to Braille, large print, DAISY with structure, or audio MP3. If you wish, documents can be saved to the cloud for permanent storage, or indeed to access from another computer, even if DocuScan is not installed.

DocuScan can be purchased directly from Hartgen Consultancy at £180 or close to $300.

How to Install.

Because in part we have created a newer Leasey platform on which to build future features and improvements, it will be necessary to download and install either:

  1. The upgrade to Leasey Total Package if you have a license for it. Under no circumstances should you download and install this unless you have Leasey version 1 installed and activated.
  2. The upgrade to Leasey Advanced if you have a license for it. Under no circumstances should you download and install this unless you have Leasey version 1 installed and activated.
  3. The full installer for Leasey Total Package if you have a license for that. This is used if you are purchasing and activating Leasey Total Package for the first time.
  4. The full installer for Leasey Advanced if you have a license for that. This is used if you are purchasing and activating Leasey Advanced for the first time.

You will definitely want to read our Leasey Documentation at your leisure and work through the various examples contained within it.

You may also like to download the audio presentation from Accessible world here which includes users talking about what they think of Leasey.

And That's Not All!

We're very pleased with Leasey version 2 and we hope you will be too. Our next major goal is to provide enhanced support for iTunes version 12.2 as there have been significant changes in this application. Leasey does work alongside it, but it could be much better.

We are also in the process of working on a full human narrated DAISY Talking Book of the Leasey User Guide as many people have asked for this. It will be read by Leasey herself!

We have lots of exciting plans for our winter upgrade to Leasey. But if you'd like to suggest a feature, or an application that needs support, we would love to receive your suggestions. Do feel free to Email support@leaseycentral.com. Suggestions for support so far have included audio editing and production tools, LeaseyTags for Microsoft Outlook email messages and Microsoft OneNote. We will certainly be looking at all suggestions from you. After all, Leasey just gets better!

Hartgen Consultancy Brings to you J-Dictate 1.1!

J-Dictate is our low-cost voice recognition software. It is designed to be used in conjunction with Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home or Premium as an effective means of improving productivity. Text can be dictated into many applications. J-Dictate will echo back your dictation and it ensures many aspects of Dragon NaturallySpeaking are accessible to the screen-reader user. Please read more about J-Dictate here.

J-Dictate 1.1 contains:

  • Voice commands. J-Dictate does not provide complete hands free control of the computer. J-Say software is required for that purpose. However, you can now say "Listen to Me" or "Wake Up" to activate the microphone, and "Go to Sleep" or "Stop Listening" to deactivate it. J-Dictate will respond with appropriate sounds to indicate the microphone condition. Please consult the J-Dictate Help for details.
  • Access Technology Vocabulary. Many people who use J-Dictate wish to speak terms relating to Access Technology products and services. If you use Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium, (Not Home), J-Dictate now includes a special “A T” vocabulary which is automatically imported into your voice profile. You can now go ahead and speak any of the words and phrases below. They should all be recognised by your Dragon software.
    A T
    J-Say
    J-Dictate
    Leasey
    StationPlaylist Studio
    Hartgen
    Hartgen Consultancy
    JAWS
    JAWS for Windows
    MAGic
    ZoomText
    Freedom Scientific
    FSCast
    OpenBook
    Dolphin Computer Access
    Supernova
    Kurzweil
    Window-Eyes
    AI Squared
    Serotek
    SeroTalk
    DocuScan
    DocuScan Plus
    System Access
    Hims
    Blaze ET
    Blaze
    Plextalk
    Plextor
    Spotify
    Apple Music
    iTunes
    iPhone
    iPad
    Apple Watch
    ARIA
    a11y
    BARD
    NLS
    National Library Service
    AFB
    American Foundation for the Blind
    ACB
    American Council of the Blind
    NFB
    National Federation of the Blind
    BCAB
    British Computer Association of the Blind
    RNIB
    Royal National Institute of Blind People
    Vision australia
    AppleVis
    MSAA
    UIA
    Tween
    The Qube
    Twitterrific
    TWBlue
    FSReader
    DAISY for All
    DAISY
    Design Science
    MathType
    MathPlayer
    LaTeX
    NV Access
    NVDA
    NonVisual Desktop Access
    WCAG
    WAI-ARIA
    CSUN
    bookport
    Bookshare
    Braille n Speak
    BrailleNote
    Brailliant
    Deque Systems
    eSpeak
    goalball
    Humanware
    J-Tools
    JFW
    K1000
    KNFB Reader
    KNFB Reading Technologies
    Learning Ally
    National Braille Press
    NFB-NEWSLINE
    NV Access
    Odin Mobile
    PowerBraille
    Rehabilitation Services Administration
    slate and stylus
    System Access Mobile Network
    Victor Reader
    Victor Reader Stream
    VR Stream
    WebBraille
    Baum
    Varioultra
    Canadian National Institute for the Blind
    CNIB
    UEVC
    Canadian Council of the Blind
    Canadian Federation of the Blind
    Advocates for The quality of Blind Canadians
    AEBC
    CCB
    VoiceOver
    El Capitan
    Yosemite
    NGT
    Next Generation Technologies
    Sindhi systems
    NCBI
    National Council for the Blind of Ireland
    Sweetman Systems
    EVAS
    Access Ingenuity
    Sterling Adaptives
    The Speech Gurus
    Nanopac
    EnableMart
    Christal Vision
    TCS Associates
    Boundless AT
    Vision Forward
    Woodlake Technologies
    Flying Blind
    Blind Bargains
    Emerald Coast Vision Aids
    Frontier Computing
    Aroga Technologies
    Microcomputer Science Centre
    Canadialog
    Special Needs Computers
    AACSA Limited
    Unlocking Abilities
    Top Tech Tidbits
    Dropbox
    Index Basic
    Index Everest
    Amazon Echo
    Skype
    Optelec
    Alva
    Baum
    YesAccessible
    TypeAbility
    Sonar
    CakeTalking
    GOODFEEL
    Lime Aloud
    Lime Lighter
    SharpEye
    Sound Forge
    Studio Recorder
    GoldWave
    BlindSquare.

If you have retained the link in an Email message pointing you to the J-Dictate installer, simply download it again and run it. There is no need to uninstall the previous version. If you have misplaced the Email message, do please write to jaws@hartgen.org.

We hope you enjoy using J-Dictate 1.1 and remember, let your voice make the choice!

Leasey and the NVDA Question.

When a product is as successful as Leasey, which works exclusively with the JAWS screen-reader from Freedom Scientific, you are always going to get people who sneer and are combative. There are those who will say, “you are profiteers”, “You are excluding a large sector of the blind community”, “You are failing to work with other screen-reader developers”.

When these kind of remarks or insinuations occur, the best thing to do is to say nothing at all. We know that our opening hours for example extend until 10 PM even at weekends, so as to provide support to people in America and Canada. We could easily down tools on weekdays at 5 PM UK time and say, “OK, if you do not call in UK office hours, you’re stuck”. We don’t do that because we care about our customers.

But to return to the thrust of this article, we are getting an increasing number of enquiries from people who ask why products such as Leasey and J-Say, (which are already used by hundreds of people around the world), will not function with the freely available NVDA screen-reader. Why is it always JAWS? The reality is very simple to grasp.

Before I get to answering that question, I must say this. The developers of JAWS, Freedom Scientific, have always been extremely helpful to us on every single occasion we have approached them. They do not undertake the work for us, and nor should they. We would not learn from the experience if they did. But when a problem has arisen with JAWS, or we are struggling with something particularly tricky, they have done everything in their power to ensure we receive information in a timely manner so we can move forward. That assistance comes from the Chief technical Officer downwards. No staff member at Freedom Scientific has ever turned us away or said they cannot help.

In return, and in fairness to people in the blind community who do not have one of our products, I personally devote a lot of time each week to ensuring that I submit quality bug reports to the JAWS beta testing team. I've also worked extensively on a one-to-one basis with some of the JAWS developers to provide extensive testing of something specific so it can be corrected. This, I hope, ensures that JAWS is as good as it can be.

Take the issue of Skype support. Through Leasey, we feel we provide very good quality access to Skype. But that does not mean that I will not try, through bug reporting, to improve the default support for Skype and JAWS. It’s only fair, and it means we give something back to the blindness community.

When the Leasey product was first conceived in 2014, we were immediately conscious of the NVDA screen-reader. While we accepted that we would need to invest time learning another programming language to facilitate access to our product through NVDA, we were very prepared to take on that challenge, not just for Leasey, but also for our many voice recognition users too who use our J-Say product. This would bring NVDA to people who could not use a keyboard even if they wanted to.

Let me explain the core requirements for Leasey development with NVDA.
The product could not be open source. While NVDA is theoretically open source, (meaning it can be modified by a user), we are a commercial company. We do not want people to examine or modify the source code. That would be unthinkable.
We would want to modify core components of NVDA so as to improve upon the quality of access people receive. Our recent demonstration for Tek Talk of how we have changed the support for the Outlook calendar and JAWS is a very good example of this. We do not believe that a literal screen interpretation of Windows programs is a good thing. Obviously our users feel the same else they would not be buying the product, and they do so in good number.
We would want to call upon core functions of NVDA which were already in place from Dynamic Link Libraries. That is a technical term, but put very simply, this would mean that we would want to send messages to NVDA through Leasey or J-Say to cause the screen-reader to perform specific actions.

We wrote to the developers of NVDA on 9 August 2014, setting out the above requirements and also that there would be a good possibility we would need technical assistance.

NVDA responded. The staff were very friendly in their approach, and were willing to provide technical assistance on a monthly support contract or case by case basis. We had no difficulty with this as they are a charitable organisation. But it became clear that we were immediately going to run into both legal and philosophical difficulties.

From a legal and technical standpoint, In accordance with NVDA's license agreement, all NVDA plugins and drivers themselves must be licensed under the GNU General Public License 2.0. Among other things, this means they must be open source. There are a few exceptions to this, but they would not completely meet our requirements. We would not be able to directly call NVDA events for example, or undertake much of the other work we would be required to do.

In closing the correspondence, they said this: “it does seem that in your case, you would run into legal difficulties or at least find it infeasible to work around them.”

Certainly, we are by no means being critical of NVDA’s approach. It is a fine screen-reader, it is of value to an enormous number of people, and obviously they feel their approach is completely justified, and so it may be. But that is not the way we think. While JAWS may be expensive, it does give us the flexibility to do what we need to, and at least we can say we have tremendous cooperation from Freedom Scientific if and when we need it. We can only work with the flexible tools we have at our disposal and with the cooperation of the developers. If that cooperation is not forthcoming, there is little we can do.

All of this said, we are (when time allows) willing to work alongside any screen-reader developers to bring our products to the community who need them. But we would like people to very clearly understand that we not only had the foresight to contact NVDA before the project got under way, but there are also exceptionally good reasons why we prefer to work with Freedom Scientific and JAWS. Freedom Scientific see the value in our products, they are fully aware that we are a small business, yet they are still very keen to assist us. That clearly demonstrates their total commitment to assist blind people, both from a user and development standpoint.

I hope that clarifies the position and demonstrates our forward thinking in this regard.

Leasey, it just gets better! Includes Tek Talk Presentation.

Introduction.

Earlier today on Tek Talk as part of Accessible World, we revealed the new features which will be upcoming in Leasey version 2, to be released at the end of July. We've listened very carefully to the suggestions from our many users around the world. We've taken those ideas and built them into the next version of our product which is becoming more widely used week by week! You can download the audio version of the presentation here which includes users talking about what they think of Leasey.

Please find below a brief description of the new features.

Support for the Microsoft Outlook 2013 Calendar.

Support for the Outlook calendar is probably the most requested feature we have had. This is not surprising, since many people need to use it as part of their employment. Calendar appointments can also be synchronised to your mobile device.

The support we have added includes:

  • Automatic announcing of timed appointments and all day events as you move through the days. Leasey tells you brief details of each appointment, not just that they exist.
  • Pressing tab to move through all appointments presents them in a logical sequence for easy review and understanding.
  • As you Tab to each appointment, you are automatically advised whether it is an all day event (rather than speaking midnight from one day to midnight on another), the total number of days the appointment spans, whether you are focused upon the final day of a multiple all day event, and the notes associated with it.
  • Leasey can be customised to speak the full details of the appointment, (such as whether a reminder is associated with it), or just the subject and location details.
  • All appointments can be placed within the JAWS Virtual Viewer for closer inspection.
  • A cue is available, in the form of the words "end of items", to denote that no more appointments exist for a given day.
  • Within the Week or Work Week Views, as you navigate the days you are advised how many appointments are available for the given week. If you Tab through the appointments, you hear the date on which each appointment falls, together with the other details listed above.
  • A Leasey Application menu exists to move to all common calendar elements, such as the next appointment, even if it is some distance away from the focused date. Leasey Basic users will enjoy real human speech in this menu.
  • Braille support is available in the calendar.

LeaseySearch.

LeaseySearch has been confined until this point for the purpose of searching for book information. LeaseySearch allows you to quickly find any information no matter the application in which you are working. Currently, it functions with RNIB Overdrive, Bookshare, Audible books, the CNIB Library in Canada, Vision Australia's library catalogue, and the National Library Service of america's Braille and audio collection.

LeaseySearch has now been extended to include:

  • Google. Type what you want to search for, press Enter, and focus lands on the first result.
  • Wikipedia. Enter the search term, press Enter, and the full Wikipedia article is retrieved with focus at the starting point.
  • Youtube. Again, enter the video title or artist, press Enter, and a specially customised Youtube page is available with focus on the first result. When inside a Youtube video, keys are available to pause and play it, together with fast forwarding and rewinding quickly. A Leasey Application menu exists in Youtube to perform other actions, such as sharing to Facebook and Twitter.
  • Amazon. It is not only possible to search by individual department on amazon, but it is also relative to your own country. When the chosen item is located, Leasey will set focus to the appropriate point on the amazon page to obtain a description, such as a book summary.

Amazon Kindle.

Many of our Leasey users would like to read books on Amazon Kindle when they have been purchased. Leasey version 2 will support the Amazon Kindle accessibility PlugIn, with a number of significant improvements:

  • Kindle can be launched from Leasey's Main Menu.
  • Books are presented in a vertical list rather than a four-by-four grid for easy navigation.
  • Keystrokes are available when reading the book with which Leasey users will be familiar. Good examples would be Insert+Down Arrow to read, Control key to pause, Right and Left Arrow keys during SayAll to skip sentence by sentence.
  • A Leasey Application menu again is available to carry out common tasks within Amazon Kindle, including changing voice parameters, moving to specific book sections and to synchronise the reading position with other devices.

Leasey Games Module.

One of the most exciting developments in this release is a special Games Module. Whether you would like an easy to use word building game, something to get you thinking or to play online with your friends, Leasey has you covered.

We are pleased to offer RS Games for online playing. Using a simple menu structure, RS Games makes it easy to play games such as Apples to Apples, Blackjack, 1000 Miles, Battleship, Cards Against Humanity, Uno, Monopoly, Bingo and many more. It is a wonderful client for both game play and social interaction.

We are also delighted to offer the full complement of the Blind Gamers catalogue from Spoonville software. Includes over 30 fantastically developed, easy to use games, such as card and board games including Scrabble, Solitaire, Code Breaker, Cribbage, Mastermind and more. Sound effects and music are available too. Ideal for relaxation and fun!

The amazing Park ~Boss from NA Soft is a strategic arcade gamewhere you need to use your brains rather than your quick reactions. You begin with a field on which you need to construct a theme park. This game is all about management. You need to build attractions, employ people, keep your customers satisfied, ensure utilities are available such as toilets and refreshments, and much more. It is wonderful to see your own little empire grow, but things can, and do, go wrong!

All the above games will be included within a special Leasey Games menu for quick and easy location. Very kind permission has been obtained to include them within the Leasey Games Module.

A Game Exclusive to Leasey!

The piece de resistance however is the first in a series of games developed exclusively for Leasey.

Designed by Lulu Hartgen and developed by Philip Bennefall, (a seasoned game programmer and software engineer), Treasure Troll combines quality and fully orchestrated music (which changes depending upon how effective you are at game play), original sound effects and vocal production. The music emanates from the Elias engine. Used in specialist and mainstream gaming products, through Elias the music is just as dynamic and flexible as the corresponding composition would have been in a movie. Simple yet challenging, as with all the Leasey Games the interface is easy to use with few keystrokes to remember.

You are a troll who suddenly falls into a cave. Fairies, who guard a horde of golden treasure, sleep around the walls of the cave. Your task is to steal all the treasure By collecting it as it moves and floats across the cave. Gather it before it disappears, don't hit the walls which will wake the fairies with nasty consequences, avoid hazards and perils, snatch falling bonuses from the air, play through ten quickening levels and increase your scores. Completing the game is not enough to get the highest score! Quick reactions and careful thought will do that!

What Else Should I Know About the Leasey Games Module?

  • The Leasey Games Module cannot be downloaded and installed by anyone. You will need to have a Leasey User License, not a demonstration copy. If you have one, you will be able to select the Module from the Help menu or LeaseyManager. The games will then be downloaded and installed automatically.
  • Treasure Troll is not available outside of the Leasey platform.
  • Full documentation will be available for all supported games.
  • The overall footprint on the machine for the Leasey Games module is kept as small as possible.
  • If the Games Module is not installed, Leasey users will not see an option for it on their Main Menu.
  • While games vary in their complexity, the way in which you play is kept very straightforward.
  • Any game developers who would like us to license their projects on the Leasey platform should send an Email to games@hartgen.org, whereupon we can have a folow-up discussion. All games should be bug free as far as possible, and sound effects and music used should be original.

We very much hope that the 50 games included in Leasey version 2 provide a good starting point for those people who would like to play. More games will become available over time.

Smaller Improvements.

LeaseyCuts. People love our LeaseyCuts facility, where you can launch a Microsoft Word document, folder or web page from any location on the computer. We know customers who have hundreds of LeaseyCuts stored. This has now been extended to accommodate any file, such as a text document, PowerPoint presentation or an Excel Workbook. Simply create the LeaseyCut pointing to it and launch the item whenever you need to. It's quick and easy!

Firefox. Leasey version 2 supports the Mozilla Firefox web browser. Our LeaseyAlerts (for setting focus to areas of web pages automatically), LeaseySelect (for selecting text passages for copying), LeaseyCuts (for storing web pages to get back to later), LeaseySticky Notes (for annotating web page content) and LeaseyPoints (for bookmarking specific passages) all work.

Dropbox. While Leasey version 1 contains the ability to monitor Dropbox activity, (such as advising you of the progress of file upload or download), version 2 provides full access to the Dropbox Preferences dialog for managing activity. This includes more reliable performance when moving from one control to another, switching between Tabbed Pages, and accurately speaking field names.

Scanning. We've had a lot of requests for support in respect of scanning documents and books with Leasey, which has come from both individual customers and organisations. Leasey will provide support for Serotek's DocuScan program. We evaluated many mainstream and specialist packages and we felt DocuScan provided the highest quality access with a straightforward keyboard-centric interface. Because the new release of DocuScan contains the ability to function alongside JAWS, your speech and Braille-based preferences can be used alongside the program. When inside a scanned document, the aforementioned LeaseySelect and LeaseyPoints will function as usual.

DocuScan is much more than a scanning program however. You can quicly process and read PDF files which have previously been scanned as images. Alternatively, import a PDF, Word Document, text or HTML file into DocuScan, and convert it to Braille, large print, DAISY with structure, or audio MP3. If you wish, documents can be saved to the cloud for permanent storage, or indeed to access from another computer, even if DocuScan is not installed.

DocuScan can be purchased directly from Hartgen Consultancy at £200 or $300.

And That's Not All!

We're very pleased with the upcoming version of Leasey and we hope you will be too. Please don't forget our special offers for Leasey, available from July 5 to 15. If you purchase the product at that time, you will be able to receive Leasey version 2 at no extra cost, as is the same with all existing license holders. Please Visit Leasey Central to Learn More About Leasey!

We have lots of exciting plans for our winter upgrade to Leasey. But if you'd like to suggest a feature, or an application that needs support, we would love to receive your suggestions. Do feel free to Email support@leaseycentral.com. After all, Leasey just gets better!

Control More of the Computer by Voice in July with J-Say 13.1!

Since we took full ownership of J-Say Technology
in December of 2014, we've introduced more new features than were brought to its users within the past six years, including the ability to hear audio content, a radio player, tools to make web surfing easier, new commands to improve productivity and so much more. In July, we'll be bringing you J-Say 13.1 to extend the range of things people can do with the computer, simply by talking to it.

J-Say 13.1 will include full support for Skype. Receive and make calls, text chat with your friends, set your mood text, view a Skype user's profile and hear notifications, such as who is signing in or out.

With our support for Facebook, you can easily move through the news feed, post status updates, Like posts and make your own comments too.

Spotify is a music streaming service many people enjoy. J-Say users can search for songs, make playlists, subscribe to public playlists, enjoy Spotify radio, control Spotify on a portable device and much more.

Bookmarks are back! J-Say Bookmarks were rested from a few earlier releases of the product, but they are here once again. Mark important passages on web pages and in Microsoft word documents so as to return to them later. Even if you edit the text in a document, your Bookmarks will still function.

Shortcuts have had a makeover! Previously it was only possible to launch web pages, folders and Microsoft Word documents with your voice. Now, you can point a shortcut to any file type, including PDF, TXT, those relating to spreadsheets or audio files, and any file type you can imagine. Ideal for trainers too who want to create voice commands to launch programs for their clients.

Access Technology Talk. If you are a J-Say user, chances are you want to talk about access technology products. We've introduced an "A T Vocabulary", containing many terms relating to access technology. These include special product and company names common to the Access Technology arena. When you begin using J-Say 13.1, you can start speaking them right away. Dragon NaturallySpeaking will understand them!

Documentation. Of course, all of the above features are fully supported by thoroughly written documentation. We've taken care to include explanations of the topic being covered, together with voice and keyboard commands, as many people use both.

We'll be sure to let you know when J-Say 13.1 is released!

Tek Talk Presentation. Leasey, the Second Generation

Last summer, at Hartgen Consultancy we were excited to tell the Tek Talk audience about a product in the development stages called Leasey Learn, Enable, Advance, so easy. For the computer beginner through to the advanced user, Leasey not only makes computing easy, but she also ensures applications are made more accessible. Leasey is now being used at home, in education, the workplace and in rehabilitation agencies around the world!

Now, exclusive to Tek Talk, you will hear about Leasey version 2. This release includes much easier ways to search Google, Wikipedia and Amazon, support for Amazon's Kindle, a special interface for the Outlook 2013 calendar and, a surprise or two!

If that is not enough to tempt you, you will hear about some special discount prices for Leasey to celebrate the summer conventions!

Want to know more? Do join Brian and Lulu Hartgen in Tek Talk, and remember, every JAWS user should have Leasey!

Contact Details of Presenters:

Brian Hartgen:
Co-Developer of Leasey:
email:
brianh@hartgen.org

Louise Hartgen:
Co-Developer of Leasey:
Email:
lulu@hartgen.org

Official Website for Leasey:
www.leaseycentral.com

Date: Monday June 29, 2015

Time: 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 6:00 p.m. Mountain, 7:00 p.m. Central, 8:00 p.m. Eastern and elsewhere in the world Tuesday 12:00 GMT.

www.accessibleworld.org

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