Broadcasting on the Mac: Jessica’s Experience and Setup

As someone who considers herself a shy person, I never thought I would be interested in broadcasting or that I would host I weekly radio show. I proved myself wrong! If you love music, and you have a reliable internet connection, you can do it too!

In the last post, Ashley shared her experiences with broadcasting and explained her setup on windows. In this post, I’ll share my experiences broadcasting from Mac OS X, and how to get starting using my particular setup.

My journey into broadcasting began in fall of 2013. Ashley and I were sharing an apartment at the time, and she told me she was going to begin broadcasting on an internet radio station. I was clueless about this internet radio thing. I had no idea what a big deal it was, especially in the blind community. I familiarized myself with internet radio by hanging out with Ashley and other people who did shows, and by listening to shows whenever I had time. People begged me to start my own show, but I didn’t think I could do it. Plus, I used a mac, not windows, so no one had a clue how I should get started.

I think the lack of help is what pushed me to figure out how to make it work. I was going to conquer broadcasting the same way I learned to use the mac – on my own. I did lots of research, but there wasn’t anything available that explained everything and made it simple to follow. The only thing I gathered is that I would need a program called Nicecast to connect to the server. So, I downloaded it and began playing around with it. As it turns out, Mac users have so many options for broadcasting, because all Nicecast does is send audio from whatever source you choose to a server. A source can be a single application, or it could be all system audio. All my music was already in iTunes, so my setup simply includes iTunes and Nicecast.

I did my first show on October 2, 2013. I was extremely nervous, and I broke many things. It helped that I had my friends on the show with me, so I wasn’t alone. In the weeks and months to follow, I continued to improve, and the feedback was great. A couple of stations later, my friends and I started our own station called ElectroShock Radio. After working for so many other people and watching their stations fail, ElectroShock Radio was a breath of fresh air. Finally what I said mattered, and I was able to help keep the station running. Unfortunately, ElectroShock Radio shut down in the summer of 2015. Since then, I don’t broadcast as often, but I still do. We held onto our server, and I stream different things regularly. I still love broadcasting, but I have no interest in broadcasting on someone else’s station. I like stability, and I hate drama, so the server works for me.

Now, let’s talk a bit about getting started broadcasting on the Mac.

The hardware options, like broadcasting on windows, can be as expensive or as cheap as you like. You can go all out and get a bunch of expensive equipment like external mixers, or you can simply get a good microphone. I use the $39.99 GoMic, and everyone says it sounds great. If you prefer to wear your microphone, some USB headsets may also work.

If having more hardware appeals to you, or if you wish to mix tracks like a DJ would do at a party, check out our friend Jonathan Candler’s broadcasting setup.

Either way, the decision is up to you! It’s all about your preferences, and what you can afford.

Now, let’s move on to software.

No matter what application you use to play your music, you will need Nicecast to connect to the server. There is a demo available for free, which is great while you’re figuring things out. However, you’ll need to purchase the full version when you’re ready to share your show with the world.

If you have usable vision, this may be the only piece of software you need to purchase. You can set the source as iTunes or whatever media player you wish to use, and then bring in your mic, other apps, or Skype in the effects panel.

If you are totally blind, you may wish to broadcast using an app that allows you to play music and bring in your mic. Most people use one of the two following options.

DJay

Radiologik DJ

Lastly, if you don’t want to do a live show, you could record a show using an app like Audio Hijack and then send the MP3 to the station managers for playback later.

Thank you for reading this, and please check out Ashley’s post on broadcasting from Windows. I hope you have found this information useful, and we look forward to writing more helpful entries for you in the future.

Broadcasting on Windows: Ashley’s Experience and Setup

I’ve always been interested in radio, and how music was played around the world.

In 2006, once I got my very own computer, I started making friends from far away through sites like Myspace, Facebook, and eventually twitter. Through these friends, I learned about internet radio. This is similar to AM or FM radio, but with a wider audience.

Over the next few years, I listened to a wide variety of internet radio stations, and in the fall of 2013, after becoming acquainted with a person who had their own internet radio station, I began the process of learning the ins and outs of internet broadcasting. As my time as a broadcaster or DJ continued over the years, I learned how to use different pieces of software to bring Skype calls or team talk channels in to my show.

I have had experience on a few stations. I have had some experience as a station founder and manager. There are a few differences in these roles. As a broadcaster, you basically do your show. If you work for a station who ask the team to help create great things for the listeners to participate in. as a manager, you are in the middle of things. You may help with hiring or firing broadcasters, event planning, content creation, and even have your own show. As a manager, you have to be able to receive feedback and decide how that feedback should be handled; for example, if a listener comes to you and asked that less country be in automation, and more metal be played. It is the managements job to figure out how best that should be handled. Can we schedule more metal at this time, and schedule country to be played at another time? Do we need to add more metal to automation in general? These questions and many others as a manager. As a broadcaster, you may not be involved in as much of this decision making. For some people, being a broadcaster works perfectly, but for others, just being a broadcaster may not be enough. For some of us, leaving a management role and becoming a broadcaster does not set well.

In 2014, some friends and I developed a station. We had a five person management team. This set up worked beautifully for us. We were able to make some awesome plans. We had a good sized listener base. Our station was around for a little over a year. I know that that experience gave me some great knowledge to continue my broadcasting career.

To begin broadcasting, I needed a few things. I needed the software that would connect me to the internet so that I could broadcast. I needed to open my eyes to other genres. So, what did I do? I found some great online tutorials to teach me the software that I would be using to broadcast. I started listening to different genres of music, and I started practicing with the software I use. I found myself randomly creating playlists to play and practice with. My goal was to be able to amerce myself in the software and understand what many, if not all, of the keyboard commands did.

It’s been a little over two years since I started broadcasting, and I enjoy every show I get the opportunity to do. I still have things brake on me. I am sometimes the culprit behind these braking things. I still don’t understand what some functions do, or randomly figure them out at the strangest times, but I enjoy broadcasting. It helps me find a way to let out some emotions I may not have any other way of releasing.

If you are considering broadcasting, you will need a specific set up with appropriate hardware and software. In this blog post, I will cover how I have my set up. We will soon have a Mac set up posted.

The only piece of hardware I use is a $39.00 USB microphone. You can make the hardware portion of the setup process as complicated and expensive as you like, or you can start with just a microphone. Some additional suggestions include a mic stand, pop filter, and shock mount. Alternatively, some USB headsets also work fine and have decent sound quality.

Now for the complicated part – the software.

Most people use Station Playlist Studio (SPL). You can use Station Playlist Studio to not only host a show, but if you have a computer and a stable internet connection, you can also host your stations automation system.

Some free alternatives for broadcasting are Foobar and Winamp. These are both media players, which require additional plugins to connect to the server. The plugins can be difficult to locate, so the setup can be a bit more complicated than it is with Station Playlist studio.

If you wish to have co-hosts on your shows or to take calls from listeners, you will need Virtual Audio Cable. This will allow you to bring in audio from a program like Skype or TeamTalk, and your listeners will be able to hear it whenever your mic is on.

If you’re broadcasting on a station, you should not need any additional software, unless you choose to have a setup which differs from mine. However, if you intend to broadcast on your own server, or start your own station, you will need a server, a way to do automation, and possibly a website. If you are a very technical person, you can setup your own website and server. If you are not technically inclined, you can pay someone to do it for you.

If you wish to have automation on your server/future station, you can choose one of the following: broadcast 24/7 from your own computer with SPL, code your own automation, or pay for a service. The solution our station used, which is very accessible, is LiveWebDJ.

If you have any questions about my experience broadcasting and/or my particular setup, please let me know. If anyone would like to contribute to this article, please feel free to post a comment. I hope you have enjoyed this post. Thanks for reading!

Our Thoughts on Braille Literacy

This blog post is featuring our various opinions of Braille. We have all learned Braille at different times and in different ways. We have all learned, experienced, and used Braille in our lives in some form or another. We, The Blinkie Chicks, talk a little about Braille and how it has played a role in our lives. Also, we have some links to other people’s stories about how Braille has impacted their lives.

Ashley began learning Braille at the age of 6. When she was asked if she would have liked to have learned Braille earlier, she says: “Yes, I do wish I had the opportunity to learn Braille earlier. I think Braille is a necessary tool for blind and visually impaired children to have in their toolbox.”

When asked how and why Braille was important to her, Ashley said: “Braille is very important to me. My family had a difficult time getting the elementary school I attended to find someone to teach me Braille, and the school tried to force them to send me to The Governor Morehead School for the blind. My parents refused because they wanted to keep me at home. The school system had to find someone to teach me Braille.” Ashley further explains: “I have been able to see how much Braille has helped people in their daily lives. I know how much Braille has helped me, my friends, and the people I have taught.”

Ashley says that Braille was the way she learned to read and write. It was the way she had access to the materials the other students had access to. She learned how to spell and work math problems using Braille.
She received access to her text books through Braille, and by that she was able to efficiently learn the material she needed to pass her classes.
Ashley says that one of the suggestions that she could give to others who are learning Braille is: “Do not worry if you do not pick up Braille when you first try to learn it. Be patient with yourself, and with the person or persons who are trying to teach you. Braille is not easy to learn for some people, but you can learn it.” She says, “I love and enjoy Braille, and I hope others will as well.”

Jessica learned braille at age 11. She chose to learn it on her own. She was never asked to seriously learn it, because she is able to read print. Jessica says: “I guess they thought I didn’t need it.”
When she was asked if she would have liked to have learned Braille at an earlier age, she says: “I wish I had learned braille sooner, because it would have made reading much easier for me, and maybe I would’ve developed a love for reading at an early age.”

Jessica says that Braille is very important to her. She goes on to say: “In fact, I keep finding ways to use it, even though people keep trying to tell me I don’t need it. I do need it, because it is much more efficient for me to read something in braille vs. print. I guess people think I have too much vision for braille, but that thinking is flawed.” She also states: “Braille is extremely important, because reading it is the only real way for blind individuals to be literate. It assists with learning to spell, punctuation, and proper grammar usage. What would happen if print were to disappear? Braille should be taught and encouraged. A screen reader and audio books can never replace braille.”

Jessica says that Braille has helped her succeed in school. She explains: “Braille helped me succeed in school, because in middle and high school, I was able to take my notes in braille. When studying, I could actually concentrate on the material, instead of focusing my energy on reading the notes themselves.”

Daria learned Braille at the age of six. She was attending public school at that time. She wishes she would have learned Braille at an earlier age so that she would have been reading sooner.

She states that Braille has helped her have confidence in her reading abilities. “I love to read aloud.” She says: “I can be more independent because of it. For example, when I was in college, there was Braille beside the suite doors.” Daria continues by saying, “Braille is important to me because I am able to be independent, and I can be a more active reader because of it. Just being able to touch it with my hands is very therapeutic to me.”

When Daria was asked how Braille helped her in school, she said, “I mention reading a lot, but Braille was how I learned to read; I gathered information through reading Braille. Also, when learning Spanish, Braille helped me to advance. Studying Spanish was easier because I learned Braille.”
For the people who are learning Braille, Daria advises, “My suggestion would be to have patience with yourself when you begin learning Braille, and do not be afraid to ask questions about Braille you don’t yet understand, such as what certain contractions represent.”

Ania learned Braille at the age of three during the summer. Ania says, “I spent every weekday morning during that early summer going through the alphabet and forming words, in a parents directed blind organization.”

Ania does not wish she would have learned Braille sooner. She does think that learning Braille before primary school is vital.

When we asked Ania how and why Braille is important, she explains: “For me, books are a part of my life, as I say it, I eat books as much as food. Books have opened a door to a new world and new experiences. Braille is the way of getting there. When I put my fingertips over those dots, it’s as if I really had vision; those dots are my eyes.” Ania goes on to say, “Every kid should know how to read and write, how to spell and how to count, and every blind kid should know braille to do those things. No braille no good spelling, only audio, your touch is not as well developed as it can be. In fact, Braille is our eyes. We develop the hearing because we use it more but our touch shows us the forms of things, how the things really are.”
Ania says that in school, Braille was the way for her to be even with her peers. Ania says that she could do the same as her peers; in fact, she could do even better than them. Ania says that Braille was the way she did her math, how she calculated, and the way she has advanced in life. Ania says, “I would ask the sighted people, what are your eyes for you?”

Ania gives this advice to people who are just learning Braille: “Don’t give up. If they are kids who are early learners, I would tell them that it is the same as learning to read in print for sighted kids. If, on the other hand, the person learning Braille is older, I would tell him/her to have patience, and persevere. With Braille, like with other things in life, if you don’t give up and continue with a clear goal, you will always reach your objectives.”

Here are a few links about Braille that might interest you.

The first is a link to a post written about the importance of Braille. With the strong focus on electronic communication, many feel that Braille is no longer necessary. This blog post, which was the inspiration for this post, is a response to an article written on this subject, which explores Braille and what it means to those who use it.
The Importance of Braille Literacy: An Open Letter to the New York Times from Daniel Aronoff

The second is a great post about why Braille is still necessary, even if it can be inconvenient at times. Luckily, Braille displays are coming down in price, which means more people should have access to Braille than ever before.
Braille Is Not Dead (So Stop Trying To Kill It) | Where’s Your Dog?

We sincerely hope you have enjoyed this post. Thank you for reading!

Welcome!

Welcome to the Blinkie Chicks website, where you’ll find blog posts, videos, interviews, and presentations. If you’re interested in working with us or have suggestions, please contact us. We hope you enjoy our site, and we look forward to creating new and interesting content for you!

Traveling: More than a Sensory Experience

Although people who are blind experience life the same way as everyone else, we often have techniques and gadgets that help us do things more efficiently. This blog entry will focus on just one aspect of life, travel, and some tips, techniques, and devices that make it easier for those of us who are blind or visually impaired. Whether it is appreciating the sensory aspects of a city, or using the latest accessible GPS app, the blind find ways to enjoy traveling as much as people who are sighted.

People who are blind can take advantage of their traveling experience by locating activities featuring sensory aspects. Consider a variety of restaurants with foods you like or wish to try; you can even find establishments that specialize in local cuisine to enhance your voyage. Another option would be to visit botanical gardens or any other site which involves the sense of smell. If you are interested in something more tactile, call well in advance of your trip to reserve a tour of local touch collections at museums.

Technology can play an essential role in your trip if you are blind. While this element is not required to travel, using technology has many advantages. Nowadays people who are blind or visually impaired can use technology to navigate which provides a sense of independence and tranquility by knowing exactly where you are at all times.

Here are some handy devices which you might try out for your next trip:

Sendero GPS is software found in many blindness specific products, but they also make applications for some mainstream mobile devices. It is important to remember that, while having a specialized device offers more features specific to the needs of blind and low vision users, the cost of such devices are typically much more than that of mainstream products. Keep this in mind when deciding what product and/or software is best for you.

Although it is very expensive for what it does, especially for people on a fixed income, the Trekker Breeze is a great handheld GPS option for the visually impaired. Not only will you be able to save battery life on your smartphone, it should work in other countries, even if cellular service is unavailable or too expensive.

Already have an iOS or Android based smartphone? There are some great applications to choose from that should save you a great deal of money, even those that are subscription-based.

Although it isn’t as feature-rich as other GPS applications, Blindsquare is a great, inexpensive GPS option for the iPhone. This app uses location information from foursquare to help point you in the right direction, so the data may not be entirely correct. However, it is good enough to get you in the general vicinity of what you’re looking for. A plus to the information being provided by foursquare data is that the chances of what your looking for not being in the database is very low compared to other GPS services.

Ariadne GPS is another inexpensive GPS app for the iPhone. It doesn’t do some of the things a subscription based service would do, but it is great if you need to create your own routes or monitor where and how fast you are going.
Yet another inexpensive GPS app, which also means it is light on features, is Sendero GPS Look Around. The purpose of this app is to simply give you information about nearby points of interest, which makes it a great option if that’s all you need.

Sendero also has a full-featured GPS app that is relatively new. It is a subscription based app, but it is a great option if you need all the features a, more expensive, standalone GPS unit would provide. This app is Sendero’s Seeing-Eye GPS app.

A great, and free, mainstream GPS application for the iPhone is MapQuest. It features everything you’d find in a more expensive application or standalone unit, and it is completely free! You don’t have to pay for the application and there is no subscription fee. This means, however, that things may be a little more difficult to figure out at times, because this app was not developed specifically for blind people. If you pair this app with one of the cheaper alternatives for the iPhone, you’ll have a fantastic GPS solution.

Lastly, let’s not forget about Maps on the iPhone itself. If your device has Siri, you can simply say “Take me to [address], and it will enter all the information for you, as well as provide spoken turn-by-turn navigation. However, MapQuest may be a better alternative if you don’t have Siri, but that’s for you to decide!

If you’re using an Android device, you have far fewer options than iPhone users, but you can check out Google Maps, but honestly, we aren’t sure how accessible, if at all, Google Maps is for blind and low vision users.

However, we have heard a lot of great things about Nearby Explorer, so we definitely think you should check it out!

In addition to a GPS app, we also recommend using a money recognizer. Chances are, you’ll have to use cash while your traveling, and it is extremely important that you be able to manage your money independently. For this purpose, we really like Looktel Money Reader.

Other apps such as 4Square and Yelp are useful to locate restaurants, shops, museums or any venues in a town that you are visiting.

Do your research ahead of time! This includes planning your trip, finding accessible destinations, and calling ahead for reservations at restaurants. Think about investigating interesting libraries, buildings, parks, and museums offering Braille, touch tours, or audio guides. The importance of internet research before traveling can not be underestimated. Whether it is accessibility, finding locations with Braille, or just reading about other’s experiences, the internet can offer a plethora of information.

There is an art to navigating airports and train stations. Remember to always call ahead to register as a passenger who needs extra assistance, and never be afraid to ask questions. Consider leaving extra time when traveling. A recent trip to Penn Station in New York City illuminated the various problems for someone who is blind: complicated layout, many people didn’t stop to answer questions, and the whole system felt like a maze. Overall, if you do your research and ask for services, traveling through airports and train stations might be frustrating, but it will be no different than the experience of someone who is sighted.

Another great option for traveling is Traveleyes. If you have never heard of them, think about the following: Traveleyes is one of the world’s first companies specializing in opening access to independent world travel for blind and partially sighted people. They were founded by a visually impaired person, and most tours are also lead by visually impaired people! Traveleyes offers a broad range of unique multi-sensory holiday vacations to suit all tastes. Their objective is to provide passengers who have a visual impairment with the same freedom of choice and ease of booking that sighted travelers have always enjoyed. Every Traveleyes holiday vacation features equal numbers of blind and sighted participants, some travelling solo, some with a partner, and some as groups of friends. Whichever of these describes you, they offer the ultimate group travel experience where sociability, flexibility and choice.

If you take one thing away from this article, it is that traveling independently can be very empowering and people who are blind can have the same great experience as their sighted peers. Whether you take advantage of sensory aspects, accessibility, technological advances, or a company such as Traveleyes, the sky really is the limit!

Interview on the Low Vision Bureau Podcast

We, the Blinkie Chicks, would like to thank Alvaro Gutierrez for interviewing us for the Low Vision Bureau podcast. We had a blast chatting with, and getting to know Alvaro, and as our projects are similar, we look forward to possible future collaborations.

Alvaro Gutierrez, the founder of Low Vision Bureau, created the site to build a community of blind and visually impaired people and to hopefully improve the status of blind and low vision individuals in societies worldwide. Alvaro lives in Columbia, but hopes to find a job in the United States helping blind and low vision individuals. He is constantly seeking new individuals to interview on his podcast, as well as to collaborate with on the goals of Low Vision Bureau.

Check out the Low Vision Bureau website, and interact with Alvaro on Twitter.

If you haven’t heard our interview yet, please click here to hear our interview on the Low Vision Bureau Podcast. Additionally, you may check out the blog post Alvaro wrote to accompany the interview.

We appreciate all the support; thanks for reading!

The Story of Ashley and Landon

Hello everyone! The following blog post was written by Ashley about her experience training for a guide dog at Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and how getting him changed her life. If you have any questions, feel free to comment or chat with Ashley on Twitter. You may contact her via our Twitter account: @BlinkieChicks, or via her personal account: @AshleyColeman51.

Photo of Ashley, and her guide dog Landon

My name is Ashley Coleman, and I’d like to tell you about my experiences applying for, training with, and then working with my guide dog.

I applied to Guiding Eyes in February of 2010, determined that they would have my paperwork as soon as I could possibly get it to them. In the middle of March, I completed all of my paperwork, and the admissions office had it in my file. I was contacted by a field rep, and we scheduled my home interview in early April. We met at my house on a day I did not have classes; I was asked many questions about my lifestyle, and about what I wanted to do in the future. After the field rep had asked me some of these questions, we went to my community college where I was videotaped walking a route through a normal day of classes for me. I was taken on a Juno walk where the field rep found out how fast I walked, what kind of pull I would like to have in a dog, and how I gave corrections.

After the home interview, the field rep gave the admissions committee my information, which included the video of my walks.

In late April/early May, I received a call from someone in admissions; she told me that I had been accepted. I called them several times between my home interview and finding out about being accepted.

When I was asked to attend the June or July classes that summer, I was surprised. I decided to go to the June class, and I gave the person at admissions the information about my nearest airport. A few days later, I received my E-ticket, and started shopping for the things that I would need while at Guiding Eyes; one of the things on my list was a second pair of good walking shoes. (They were difficult for me to find).

On June 7, 2010, I boarded my first plane. It took me to New York where I was met by Guiding Eyes staff. Several students were coming in at the same time I was, so I was able to talk to them on the car ride to Guiding Eyes. Once at Guiding Eyes, I was Oriented to the building and was left to unpack. Later that day, all of the students that were there–which were most of us–had a meeting with many of the Guiding Eyes staff, and we were warmly welcomed.

After supper we had our first lecture with our trainers, and they introduced us to the equipment we would be using to train with our dogs. Harness, collars, and leashes were passed around for all of us to see, and we learned how they were to be used. We were allowed to keep our leashes; this made all of us very happy.

On Tuesday, we went to White Planes to go on Juno walks with our trainers. They talk to us about what we looked for in a dog, and they also looked at how fast we gave corrections. They taught us how to give the dogs commands, verbal and leash corrections, and praise.

Later on Tuesday night, we had a lecture on what was going to happen the next day. This happened every night, along with a lecture about how to care for our dogs. Some nights we would have lectures on how to groom our dogs, brush their teeth, leave them by themselves in case of an emergency, or you needed to go to a place that the dog did not need to go.

After breakfast Wednesday morning, we had a little down time while the staff were in a meeting. When we were finished, we went to practice putting on and taking off the dogs equipment on a couple of stuffed dogs. We also practiced heeling Juno, and bringing Juno in and out of all kinds of doors. Those that hadn’t explored their outside door were shown that area because it is the relieving area,.

After lunch, we were all brought into a meeting; several people spoke , and then our Class supervisor read the list of people matched with dogs. After this we went back to our rooms to wait for our dogs. At about 2:15, my trainer came in with my dog. I handed her my leash, and she clipped it to my dogs collar and left us alone until it was time to feed the dogs. Since it would be our first time feeding our dogs, the trainers came around to help us feed them. Once I received my dog, I felt like I had four extra left feet; however, I felt exhilarated, like I could take on the world.

Later, we would heel our dogs to the cafeteria to have supper with our dogs by our sides for the first time. We also attended our first lecture with the dogs that night.
On Thursday, we loaded up the vans and went to White Planes. We took our dogs for our first walks in harness. On my first walk with my dog in harness, I was intimidated in putting trust in my dog, but I did, and we had several awesome walks together.

During the rest of the training, we went to different places like Malls, grocery stores, and such to experience working with our dogs in all kinds of settings. Near the end of training, the trainers took us to Manhattan for a half day to walk around the area, experience their public transportation, and to have lunch in one of the small restaurants there. Here I experienced riding on a train and a subway for the first time in my life. I was scared I would get lost in the big city, but I learned that my dog and I can handle anything that was thrown at us.

On the last Saturday in class was Graduation. Most of the puppy raisers came, and there was a ceremony where the graduates spoke and sang, and the puppy raisers were given a picture of the new team and the person’s contact information.

After the ceremony, the person, the dog, and the raiser had time to sit down and talk for a while. I was very excited to meet my boys puppy raiser. One of the things that I was afraid of was that she would not think that I handled my dog the way she would have expected or wanted.

Class ended on the 2nd of July, and I took a plane home. Shortly after that, I returned to school for my last year of school. My pup and I walked across the stage at my community college in May, 2011.

During this time, I was learning how to handle my dog without the trainers being around to help me. we both were continuing to learn how to trust and work with each other. I was worried that I would mess up my dog’s training or behavior in general, but we managed to keep it together, and to remain a solid team.

We went on to spend a few months at the North Carolina Rehabilitation Center for the Blind, where I brushed up on some of my daily living skills before I moved to college. I was allowed to work with one of the Orientation and Mobility Instructors to work on some college campuses like the one I would be going to the following year. The instructor also taught me routes on the GMS campus where the Rehabilitation Center is located. We also traveled out in the city of Raleigh, where I finally got to use an audible signal.

I have had a guide dog for three years now. since he’s pranced into my life, my dog has improved it so much.

My dog has made me a more independent and safe traveler; I know that with him by my side, we can conquer anything. My dog is my eyes, and I depend on him to tell me what I can’t see. He leads me around obstacles and things in my path. When he sees traffic coming at us, he has been taught to disobey me. He gets me out of the way.

He has been with me everywhere, from hotels, to restaurants, and to ball games all around my college campuses. He has remembered where my room is, and he has learned the way to all of my classes. He has become the light of my life; I am glad I went to get a guide dog.

The Accessible Netflix Project

Netflix is a service that offers a variety of movies and television shows for subscribers to order for delivery by mail, and watch instantly on a computer, cell phone or tablet, smart TV, gaming device, or media streaming device. Many people enjoy Netflix with no problems, but those with disabilities have struggled to access content and services provided by Netflix since its launch, due to inaccessible web and application interfaces. Having used other streaming services, we know that it is possible for Netflix to make their website and applications accessible. The problem is they don’t want to.

The situation with Netflix isn’t all bad; the iOS app and website have become slightly more usable with some screen readers over time, and thanks to the work of advocates for the deaf community, Netflix has agreed to add closed captions to all content by 2014. Unfortunately, Netflix is still unusable by many individuals with disabilities, and there is no audio described content available for blind and visually impaired customers.

The inaccessibility of the Netflix website and applications prompted the American Council of the Blind (ACB) to pass resolution 2011-17, which requests Netflix make their products accessible for blind and low vision customers and add audio described content. The ACB wishes to work with Netflix on this endeavor, but there has been little change regarding these issues since.

In hopes of making Netflix more accessible and raising awareness for the issues we, as people with disabilities, face when attempting to use Netflix, Robert Kingett has created The Accessible Netflix Project. We, the Blinkie Chicks, are supporting this campaign for a more accessible Netflix, and you can, too! Check out the website for information on ways you can help, including how you can make donations, provide feedback regarding your experiences with Netflix, and much more. This project has already caught the attention of some big names in media, but we still need more exposure and support. So, please share the website and/or this blog post with everyone you know, and provide your feedback on the website.

We appreciate your support; thank you for reading!

Our #AccessChat Interview

Hey everyone, it’s Jessica. I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Fedora Outlier on Tuesday for their weekly #AccessChat on twitter. Those who know me know I am a twitter addict, so this type of interview was perfect for me. I tweeted from the @BlinkieChicks account, and answered questions about what we do, and the technology we use. If you missed Tuesday’s chat, but still want to read the basic questions we were asked, you can read the questions and our answers below. Enjoy!

1. Who are you? Which Twitter client are you chatting with? And, which Apple devices do you own?

I’m Jessica: a student majoring in Sociology. I own an iPhone 5, an iPad 2, and a Macbook Pro. I use YoruFukurou, Twitterrific and TweetList Pro. Ashley is a student majoring in Special Ed. She owns an iPhone 3GS & a 4th generation iPod Touch, and she uses The Qube and TweetList for twitter. Daria is a college grad who majored in English; she owns an iPod Touch 3rd generation, and she mainly uses The Qube for twitter.

2. Tell us: What happened to form the @BlinkieChicks? What brought you three together?

We wanted to make a difference, & be a resource for others, so we began doing presentations, creating media, and tweeting.

3. What were some of the challenges you all faced in college—and how did you overcome them?

Some things we’ve struggled with at times include: making friends with able-bodied students, getting help/dealing with unwanted help, & inaccessible events on campus. We educate those we speak to, advocate for accessibility, and do presentations to raise awareness.

4. What were some resources and tech that helped you make it through college?

Our Disability Support Services is amazing! For awhile, I didn’t have much tech, so I used a computer with a JAWS demo. I saved & bought what I have. That + learning to effectively communicate with professors made college life much easier. A computer with JAWS, understanding professors, and Disability Support Services helped Daria get through college. Ashley uses an iPod Touch, and a laptop with NVDA.

5. What’s the goal behind the content and resources the Blinkie Chicks are creating? Who are they aimed at reaching—and why?

We’re dedicated to bridging the gap between the sighted and blind communities. Our content is targeted at a range of people. Many of our presentations educate sighted people, whereas our blog & a lot of the links we share are useful for the blind.

6. If folks were to follow your social media updates and blog—what can they expect to see?

We share our blog posts & presentations as well as links to news, stories, information, and issues relating to blindness.

7. What’s one word of wisdom (about life, accessibility, etc etc) each of you would share?

I say, “Advocate”. The world isn’t designed for us & society excludes us. We must speak up for better access & inclusion. Daria says “Educate”. We’re treated differently because many don’t know better. We must educate to make life better for all. Ashley says “confidence”. Confident & capable people change the perceptions others have about visually impaired people.

Join Us for Today’s #AccessChat!

Hello everyone! We have some exciting news! We have been asked to be one of this week’s guests for Fedora Outlier’s #AccessChat! We are so honored and excited to be considered for such a thing, so we hope y’all will come join in on the fun!

To participate, do a search for “#AccessChat” with your twitter client of choice. When you wish to contribute, add the “#AccessChat” hashtag to your tweet! Remember not to include the quotes when searching or tweeting using the #AccessChat hashtag.

For more information about the event and the other guest, feel free to check out the official press release from Fedora Outlier!

We hope to see you on twitter tonight at 8:00 PM Eastern! If you need additional assistance prior to the chat, feel free to mention the @BlinkieChicks on twitter, and we’ll help in any way we can.

As always, thanks for reading, and we appreciate your support!