The ongoing COVID-19 crisis continues to have tremendous impact on everyone, regardless of ability or disability. For people who are blind, assistive technology is now more critical than ever for staying connected to the world. As we all adjust to social distancing and teleworking, we’ve put together a few resources to help everyone navigate this “new normal.”
Free Screen Readers
Freedom Scientific is providing a free short-term (expires June 30, 2020) home license of JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion to anyone with a personal email address in the United States or Canada. In addition, all students, faculty, and staff of educational institutions in the United States with up-to-date multi-user licenses of JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion, are entitled to receive free home annual licenses for their personally owned equipment by submitting an active email address.
Many organizations, including NIB, are using Zoom Conferencing for accessible remote communications in addition to email and direct telephone access. Zoom is free to use for one-on-one meetings and has both accessible video and live chat capabilities. Users who are blind will also find the Zoom conferencing smartphone app to be an effective way to connect to meetings.
Users who are blind who rely on screen readers like JAWS can download Jonathan Mosen’s newly released, three-hour audio book, “Meet Me Accessibly – A Guide to Zoom Cloud Meetings from a Blindness Perspective.” Mosen has generously donated his book for free to help guide people who are blind step-by-step through the Zoom Conferencing platform.
Finally, Zoom has compiled guidance for using Zoom Conferencing from the keyboard, including both a list of shortcut commands and guidance on setting up Zoom for better accessibility.
Staying Connected Socially
During this unprecedented time, staying connected socially is important for emotional health. The apps listed below make it easy to stay in touch with colleagues, friends, and family, while maintaining your social distance.
Apple Facetime – How to Make a Facetime Call (embedded in all iOS devices)
Google Duo (simple to use)
WhatsApp (accessible text and video chat)
GroupMe (custom group chat)
As we settle in for more weeks of social distancing and teleworking, what technology tools have you found most useful? Let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org