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Initial thoughts on AccessNote

Hi everyone

It's been a little while since I've posted anything to my blog, but I thought I would write a quick entry here in relation to the forthcoming app which is to be released entitled AccessNote.

Before we get to that, I have to say that I took delivery this morning of an Apple wireless keyboard I bought it from Amazon, and although it was quite expensive at around 60 pounds, it is definitely a worthwhile purchase.

When Apple produce something, it just works! That's the great thing about anything from them. Once I found the On/Off switch, I turned on the keyboard, paired it via Bluetooth which was a very straightforward process, and started using it!

It is a beautiful design and resembles a standard laptop computer keyboard which is exactly what I was hoping for. I can type at the same speed on this keyboard as I can a regular desktop. I also like the fact that it slopes up at the back which makes for a lovely ergonomic design.

There is a very good summary on this web page of VoiceOver and navigation keystrokes. But for me, this keyboard has turned the iPhone into a mini computer rather than just a phone. Fleksy is wonderful, the mini bluetooth keyboard I have is good too because with both of those things, they can be used when I do not wish to carry another device or if I need something really portable respectively. However, this keyboard is just going to be so brilliant for email composition and particularly when taking thorough and accurate notes, which leads me to my next topic.

What I want is an excellent app for notetaking, giving me similar functionality to that available on more specialist notetakers for the blind. I sent a tweet out, saying I was really looking forward to the new notetaking app, AccessNote being developed by the American Foundation for the Blind. I very much support AFB in terms of what they are trying to do here and if you read it's description you may understand why.

But the reaction I received back by way of mentions is, to put it mildly, unehthusiastic. There's the usual moaning about over pricing (which was also applied to Fleksy when it first appeared on the market until people started to realise how absolutely brilliant it was). But also I am receiving the comment that it duplicates what other notetakers do. But people do not seem to be able to answer my basic question, which is, please tell me the name of the app which replicates precisely what AccessNote is trying to do? Sure, there may be notetaking apps, indeed there is a basic app built into the iPhone as it stands, but AFB's app also boasts convenient keyboard shortcuts to achieve common tasks which blind people want to be able to do, comprehensive search facilities, accurate VoiceOver navigation, and Dropboxing syncing to name but a few items. AFB say this will be priced under $30 which is reasonable given the high cost of app development and time investment.

I tried at least one free app which was recommended, and from a VoiceOver performance perspective it was really bad. There was lots of extraneous speech I really didn't want to hear, the focus kept moving from where I wanted it to be, and various other niggles which do not make it a pleasure to use. But this would be the case, it is a free app. You get what you pay for. People need to understand that not everything in this world is going to be free or less than a pound of UK currency. This atitude is really irritating me.

So, let me end by sayingI completely support AFB's initiative and I hope it will not be too long before the app is available to us. Go AFB!