Jason opened the meeting by welcoming everyone back from the summer break. Tonight we’ll be talking about Grocery Gateway/online shopping, along with tips and tricks. Also, we will be updating various technology related things that have come up over the summer. And we’d like to open the floor for potential topics for the future.
Ian spoke about the national GTT program. Our group is a small part of the national program. Kim Kilpatrick in Ottawa began the group as a way for visually impaired people to share information about technology; people of different abilities can help each other. There are 85 chapters across the country, and a couple of dozen groups that meet from Victoria to Halifax. They’re locally organized and run by volunteers. Our meeting structure follows the national structure: beginning with a presentation by an individual about something they are expert about, and can share with the group, ranging from cell phone aps to kitchen gadgets. In the second half of the meetings, there’s more of an open and informal time when people can talk to one another, or pose specific questions on a wider range of topics. One good thing about being part of the national group is access to resources. Kim keeps a blog covering varying aspects of assistive tech. You can communicate with Kim Kilpatrick 1-877-304-0968, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She can connect you to the blog. The CCB national website also has a lot of GTT content.
Jason resumed by beginning to discuss Grocery Gateway. www.grocerygateway.com. There are a few services that offer online grocery delivery. Grocery Gateway is the biggest. They are owned by the Longos chain of stores. The minimum order is $50, plus a $10 delivery fee. Their website used to be really good, but they updated it for other reasons, which damaged some of its accessibility. Jason has been in contact with their manager and website development people. He had a long conversation with them in which he pointed out some major problems. They have made some changes, but not as many as they could.
He loaded the site. At the top of the page using Jaws, you get a notice saying they’re compliant with an accessibility standard, and that you have the option to order over the phone. Several people in the room sneered. He ran down the page demonstrating some of the links and features. There’s a search box with an edit field. The top navigation section included things like your cart, fresh foods, prepared foods, bakery, frozen etc.. He entered on the delly link to show what a page looks like. He remarked that the site has become quite slow to load because of the upgrade they’ve done. The upgrade now shows many more images than it used to. He demonstrated using the H key to move through the page by headings, which is a useful way to navigate a page. There is a list of filters you can employ, though the list doesn’t identify itself as links, but which you can enter on. He showed how you can use Jaws quick navigation keys to move between links. What ever element of a page you’re on, pressing the S key moves you to the next same element. If you’re on a link and press S, you’ll move to the next link on the page. Adding shift to the S key will move you to the previous link. This can be a quick way to move through results/products. This function should work in PDF documents as well. Arrowing down through an item’s entry offers you option. It gives you a weight or package size, price, an add to cart button, or an add to favourites button. Adding it to your cart doesn’t trigger an alert to tell you that the item’s been added, but a quantity edit box appears in the item, and you can adjust the quantity manually. There’s an add to list button that adds the item to a personalized list of favourites that you can go back to at any time.
He demonstrated doing a search. You get a list of results, and you can enter on any of the items for more information. When you enter on an item, you can get nutritional information, and sometimes cooking instructions. The checkout procedure is accessible. You get a list of days and delivery windows to choose from. There are a lot of steps; it’s important to make sure you’ve completed the process. If you don’t get a confirmation email, then your order hasn’t been submitted. A member asked if you can use it with Cortana, and the answer is no. The driver calls about 10 minutes before delivery. You can pay by debit or credit card. The drivers are pretty good, helpful etc. A member pointed out that if you’re having problems part way through your order, you can phone their help number and they’ll assist you in finishing your order. They’re good about crediting your account if they’ve made a mistake. They’ll take the empty boxes away if you ask them. It’s possible to add items to your order after you’ve placed it, as long as you do so by the evening before. They will charge a $25 fee if you’re not home to take your delivery. As a blind person, it can be liberating to brows 200 kinds of crackers.
There are other grocery delivery sites, Urbery for example. Urbery will give you same-day delivery. A member said the site staff will go to your local grocery store, or to a store of your choosing, so that you can be really specific about what products you can get, you’re not limited to one chain’s products.
Jason then talked about other tech related issues. GW Micro, and freedom Scientific merged, and are now all one company. We don’t know exactly what this will mean, but for example, they’re now selling two competing screen readers and 2 competing magnifiers. Some products will likely go away, Window Eyes for example, because it doesn’t have much market share. A member asked about the Window Eyes/Microsoft partnership, but no one knows what the future of that will be.
The topic of Narrator was raised. Narrator is the built in screen reader that comes with Windows. It hasn’t been very good, but in the most recent update, it’s improving. It’s not up to being used as a primary screen reader, but they’re trying to get it comparable with Voice Over on the Mac. Stay tuned.
A member raised a question about the availability of Windows10. Jason explained that when Microsoft released Windows10 last year, they said anyone with Windows can get it for free. This passed July, they then said you have to start paying. However, they’ve said that, since accessibility is still under development, anyone with a disability can still get it for free. Of course this policy is open to abuse. There were rumors the offer would be withdrawn, but as of now, it’s still free if you have a disability.
The topic of Microsoft Edge was introduced. There was general agreement that it’s “terrible.” Most adaptive technologies aren’t working well with it. You have an option not to use Edge as your browser.
In other news, Samsung has begun including accessibility on their TV’s. There are a range of TV’s that have speech, so that the menus and channel information are spoken. They’ve had some of these features for a year or so, but the models cost several thousand dollars. The newest model is under $500. The remote has a “learn remote” feature, which helps you learn the remote. The accessibility can be enabled without sighted assistance. The name of the feature is Voice Guide. One caveat is that, by plugging in a cable box, you switch control to the cable box, which isn’t accessible. If you simply get your channels over the air, your TV will be fully accessible. In the U.S., Comcast has fully accessible cable, but we don’t have that here. Roger’s does have a remote with some tactility, and a devoted button to turn on audio description.
And in yet more news, the i-Phone7 is out. Apple has removed the dedicated headphone jack. Motorola was the first to do this, and Apple has now done it as well. There’s an adapter in the box which lets you plug regular headphones into it. A limitation is that you can’t charge your phone and use headphones at the same time. There are two ways around this. Apple will sell you an attachment to solve the problem, and another company that sells an adapter that gives you two lightning ports, for charging and audio. Apple’s reasons for doing this are to make the phone more waterproof, and slimmer. They also call the dedicated headphone jack 30-year-old technology. Another way around the conflict is to use wireless, i.e. Bluetooth headphones. Apple’s version are two tiny buds, which many people feel will be highly prone to being lost. By the next meeting, Jason will have a full report on all its new features. The home button is no longer a moving part. There is a tactile ring with a vibration feedback to tell you it’s been touched, but it’s no longer a press button.
RE: IOS10. Jason has it. He says it’s generally good. One great thing is that the process of moving apse around to different parts on your screen has been vastly simplified. Jason demonstrated. Another new feature is that third party aps are now able to integrate with Ciri. Jason demonstrated by asking Ciri to order an Uber. It’s up to the third party to make Ciri integration happen. IOS10 also offers many new and excellent voices, including, Vocalizer Expressive voices. Your phone will eventually prompt you to download IOS10. It should work on 5 or 5S and up.
A member informed the group that there’s an advocacy movement to allow use of the radio functions on your phone without using data. The phone companies could open that up, but so far they haven’t. It’s up to the device as well. Android phones often have built in radio.
A member announced that the city of Toronto is revamping their website, and looking for unpaid help in testing it for accessibility.