As of today the fact that the Google mini no longer makes phone calls without the use of Google Duo is a tragic setback for the disabled community. It was predicted to happen in mid December and today is the day when it actually happened. It seems a stealth move which is falling underneath the radar and not made explicit enough in my opinion.
What we feared has happened and sadly this is disempowering blind people with lack of hand function where only voice is the main input to finding things and taking control. I have a blind user who actually depends on this to be more independent and not only receive calls but actually make them.
I am deeply saddened by googles decision to do this. And I would urge the disabled community to stand together and challenge this.
Google recommends Google duo to make the phone calls but that is only part of the story. In order to use Google Duo you have to access your Google contacts. The problem with that is it doesn’t allow for searching the Internet like you used to be able to do and therefore it is not a practical tool for those who struggle with searching for things and making phone calls.
There are two points to this:-
1. Why is the UK only been single out for this?
2. Could something be put in place that can enable disable people to make the phone calls they so earnestly desire to do?
If anyone has an answer to this please get in contact via this website or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. This unilateral decision by Google where it’s not haven been consulted about is a great affront to those who fight and champion and help people with disabilities to use Assistive Technology
My Colleague and fellow AbilityNet volunteer Dave Goldsbrough enlighted me about all things Linux. Do listen to his podcast “Techbull” as it contains lots of useful information including a series on Linux.
After listen to Dave explain about how nearly all our financial and service industry use Linux I felt I should try loading a version of Linux called Ubuntu on a machine that was old and not used for anything else. After finding a 32 bit version of the software which also worked with a ISO software called Etcher . Unfortunately, couldn’t get it to work with Rufus which would be another ISO burner. I created a loadable flash drive. It was then a simple matter of loading onto the device. I could choose to keep the operating system it was using and run alongside it with Unbuntu or having it do a complete install of Ubuntu and remove the previous operating system. As I no longer needed the device to be so slow I decided on the later. Notice I am not telling what operating system I was using. The netbook I installed it on was a Samsung N10 which was running on 1GB of RAM! Processor was 1.6 Ghtz . So not the fastest. I used the N10 a lot in the early 2000 for students and the advantage was its size. Students could work on their netbook and have their textbooks on the same desk.
Once loaded which was relatively straightforward for most people to do I was presented with a desktop that resembled an Apple environment. Ubuntu is free and shareware so it’s attractive to people who can experience for free – includes Mozilla, Libra Office and some useful Accessibility options bulit in. In the Settings you can select Universal Access and this gives the user – High Contrast, Large Text, Screen Reader, Beep on Caps and Num Lock. For the hearing impaire there are visual alerts. Typing has sticky keys (slow keys delays the key press), bounce keys ignore fast duplicate keypresses, Enable by Keyboard. Then on another tab it is Pointing and Clicking which has Mouse keys – controlling the keyboard using the keypad. Simulated Secondary Click triggering a secondary click by holding down the primary button and Hover Click which triggers a click when the pointer hovers. Finally, the Profile tab which shows the Accessibility Profiles Indicator which puts an icon at top right to give these options.
So it has built in Accessibility simular to other Operating Systems and I look forward to testing each one.
So why don’t we see Ubuntu being used more? Maybe because its free we don’t think it’s going to be good. But there are advantages such as no need I can see for Antivirus software as few attacks occur. If anyone does have some other opinions as to why Ubuntu is not used more then please drop me a comment at the bottom of this article. Thanks once again for David reignited my interest in this system. I am of the opinion to use any operating system that helps my clients in a better way. I would not recommend it on a machine you depend on until you have tested it and would certainly try the dual operating system first.
BATA last year in the Educationalists Special Interest Group put on a year long series of webinars to look at ways that Assistive Technology is being used in the education sector. It’s a webinar series that provides useful and valuable information to any education setting. Topics from practical Assistive Technology in the classroom to current initiatives such as the DFE Edtech Strategy. Perhaps, one of the most helpful is Exam Arrangements. Although aimed at the UK it does have some application to the wider world.