Olga wants to know if the Amazon Echo Look is a good option for the blind. Leo says that while the Echo is great for the blind in general, the Look model has a camera that is really only good for taking pictures of an outfit to make a fashion choice. Then it uses the pictures to compare wardrobe choices from the last week and to recommend outfits. Leo found it to be a bit silly, and it might not be her taste.
Leonard wants to get a new computer and he's got failing vision and would like to have one that can help him. Leo says Leonard will also need a screen reader to help read the screen. Leo recommends contacting the Lighthouse for the Blind. Or a Local Disability Resource Center. They can help you not only getting a computer and setting it up, but also getting you the tools you need to work with it. Call the Foundation for the Blind at 214-340-6328 and they'll help you find someone in your area that can help you.
Julian called in with a suggestion for for Larry in Prescott, AZ, who wanted to connect an external camera to his smartphone for use with an app called BeMyEyes that acts as a visual aid. Julian's idea is to either use an Android device for this, or to use a service called aira.io. This service works in conjunction with glasses that would be worn and identify what things it is seeing.
Larry wants to use his camera with Be My Eyes on his iPhone, an app for the vision impaired. Leo says the first thing he'll need is a camera that can connect over Wi-Fi. Then he would need an app to allow him to remotely control it from the iPhone. Leo says that iOS sandboxes each app for security purposes, so one app can't compromise others, so he likely won't be able to use a separate camera with that particular app.
James is a military vet who is disabled. Most of it is dealing with PTSD and brain damage. He wants to know what technology will help him in daily life, especially when it comes with memory. Leo says that computer technology can keep his access to the world alive, and it can be used with assistive situations that life requires. The Amazon Echo and Google Home, for instance, can help the blind.
Leo recommends looking at the Veteran's Affairs Assistive Technology site at https://www.vaatech.org. The site offers help with:
Ed is blind and uses a Plantronics Bluetooth headset with his iPhone. When he gets an incoming call while he's on a call, he can't do anything without cutting off his current call. Leo says that call waiting is an imperfect technology and he doesn't use it. Leo says that if he can tell Siri to put it on hold, and take the other one, that would be great. Ed should talk to an Apple Genius at the Apple Store. They may know something.
Rachel is blind and needs help with the TWIT chatroom. It's not very accessible. Leo says that TWiT has a chat moderator who can work with the blind to set up their screen readers so that she can keep track of the conversation. It uses IRC and she'll need a fully accessible IRC client to do it. TWiT's moderators can help with that.
Sam has macular degeneration and has to get up close to the screen with a magnifying glass, in order to read it. Leo says to just enlarge the text on the screen. Apple has it built in called the Zoom Pane under the accessibility menu. The Windows feature is called QuickZoom. Ctrl + Alt + L brings up the magnification tool.
Jan is starting to lose her hearing, and wants to know what she can do to still hear people when she's talking on the phone. Leo says he has smart hearing aids that connect to his phone via Bluetooth and he can hear his phone great. If she can't afford those, then she can get headphones or earbuds that will use the phone's headphone jack. Jan has been using Google Fi, so in getting a new phone, she'll need to either get a Motorola Moto phone or a Google Pixel. Those are the only two phones that will work on Google Fi.
Irwin's wife is disabled and wants to be able to use her computer. How can she? Leo says to check out an Independent Resource Center near her to get assistance using her computer. Leo also says that Windows 10 's Cortana will open up and voice dictate. There's other accessibility features in Windows 10 as well. She should just press the Windows Key and type "accessibility" or "Ease of access." She'll get a complete list of accessibility features. That can help a lot.