Day 2 – A11y Accessibility Camp, North Idaho

On the second day, we continued the work that had begun on the first day. More accessible format skill sessions, but also some unusual ones such as a surfer! I did a session on “We can make a difference – how to change lives one person at a time.” This was the passion thread for the conference and I wanted to show that individuals can make a difference. It seemed to go well by all accounts. The day finished with a panel session where all of us speakers were grilled for our opinions on things such as what was our biggest assistive technology achievement.

The conference was a success and I have been invited back for next year. Its a shame it is so far away fore me. It will take place on the 2nd & 3rd of August 2023. Make a note in your diary and if you are stateside consider making a visit I am sure you will not be disappointed if only for the lakeside position of the college!

And the beautiful scenery

DAY 1 – A11y Accessibility Camp

All set to go and it’s looking good! All of the speakers are here and Jeremy has put on a great programme for the delegates. We have our badges and look forward to some exciting presentations ( not mine!). I will try and report as we go.

Dan Prado is an inspirational speaker and he inspired us to “think better than we are”. I also attended a seminar on Adobe InDesign looking at how Accessiblity can be done to PDF’s using this subscription based product. It comes at a cost but worth it if you are a university , college or company looking to make your information accessible to the blind.

My session on “Making Accessibility Work” went well with contributions from the audience and a wide range of material discussed.

Dax and Chad run a Podcast worth subscribing to called “CHAX Chat Podcast – Accessibility Unraveled ” You can also search A11Y with Dax Castro and Chad Chelius . Here is the link enjoy! Finally,do pay a visit to my Podcast “The Smyles Podcast” and learn about the trip to Lebanon for the ABLE conference I did early this year you will find it on my website Accessibility Solutions

Finally, Maha Zouwayhed who gave a passionate talk on “Lebanon, the happiest depressed people in the world” Explaining what they have all been through and how dancing and a positive attitude can help you win through.

Finally, we all ending up at this beautiful spot for a network meal. What a way to end the day! You should come to this event if you interested in Accessibility and you live in the states.

Accessibility camp conference, north idaho

It won’t be long now before I go across the pond to a conference organised by my good friend Jeremy Seda. The theme is Accessibility and I will be delivering two talks:-

“Making Accessibility Work” and “We Can Make A Difference”

So if you are in the area and want to come along that click on the link below:-

Sitting in Weatherspoons at Heathrow Airport, London waiting for my flight to JFK. Excited about the above event which has an interesting line up of speakers All I can add is from a user – personal approach of hard experience of trying my best to solve individual problems.

Over the last 10 years I have seen the importance of doing that. Solving each disabled person’s problems. Tech has been getting simpler but we still have not acheived the goal yet of fully integrated solutons (in my opinion). We are getting there and I want to explain and show some of the possible ways to develop that way of thinking. Some of the things we need to think about relates to what doesn’t work when it should and how we can make help guides written from a user point of view rather than a techy point of view or maybe both to square the solution!

I don’t think there will be an online , remote element but I will keep watch for it.

Wish me luck!

Windows mail- a useful shortcut

In my day-to-day problem-solving role for AAS I come across some useful information. A blind client of mine was struggling to attach an image as the menu for this can’t be found by doing the usual navigation of TAB across the screen. No, this one was definitely not that!

The answer is the ALT key which opens up this top menu and ALT + N gives you the Insert menu where you find File by using the down arrow key. Quite a process for a simple request but it is these things that prove an access issue for blind users.

Microsoft booking

Recently on looking at the additional apps that you can access on your Office 365 account. Would you like a virtual type of online assistant? Well the next best thing is a booking system integrated with calendar and email. You can add your teams appointment and add more information under your appointment. So it adds a few more tools to your toolbox that may be of use to you.

To read more and see for yourself what this tool is:-

The setting up is complex if doesn’t go right. I had no trouble setting up on a couple of my email accounts for different companies and organisations. But I had to work hard and kept getting an error message. But eventually I got a booking page and appears to be working. Here is a screenshot of what you would see:-

A screenshot of my companies calendar

The appointment goes straight to the calendar and you get an email notification. It will automatically offer you a Teams meeting option on your appointment. You can delete any appointment and the attendee will get a confirmation and a chance to change the appointment.

A screenshot of the confirmation email you receive

I have entered in my business details and added two types of appointment – initial consultation (15 mins) or Appointment (1hr) £75.00 for in-depth work and problem solving remotely. I will add more types as go along. Is it as useful as calendly? Well , I will report back on that.

DicTation in word

There is a useful little document created by Microsoft to show users how to use the Dictate function in word. There are some basic editing features and it is begining to look and feel more like Dragon with commands such as Open Quotes, Closed Quotes and Scratch that.

Here is the link and covers Windows, macOS, iOS and Android:-

Dictate your documents in Word (

skills for tomorrow

Millenium Comunity Solutions is a unique venture in the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark to reach out to the black community who have disabilities and need the skills of the future. Do contact via Eventbrite at:_

Skills for Tomorrow: Information session Tickets, Wed 25 May 2022 at 12:00 | Eventbrite

Using Voice Control with Microsoft Word

I had a request to help with a client who is blind to be able to write into Word using speech input and then have it read back to her. Voice Over does not work because it clashes with Speech input.

This has been done via an iPad as the client needs a light tool to use as the client is bed bound.

I then looked at Voice Control which I have been impressed with and actually does work effectively as a dictation tool. Now, the problem was how do I get the text to read back. Read Aloud provided a workable solution which enables the user to use commands such as :-

“Go to the beginning “. “ Go to the end”

“ Press Play” will begin the text to speech.

The only thing that is needed is to keep Read Aloud open and ready to accept control by the Voice control tool. Here is what it looks like:-

Microsoft Word App with Read Aloud and Voice Control Cross