High Contrast Episode 4: The Old-Fashioned Way

Show Notes for High Contrast Episode 4


Listen to High Contrast Episode 4: The Old Fashioned Way


Welcome back to the podcast that says its okay that you know what your computer monitor smells like. Hint, Mr. Curry’s smells like Lemon Pledge. This episode covers ground from the low tech to the high tech with some no tech solutions hiding in there as well.

Controlled Chaos, Or, Organizing The Disorganized

There’s a lot of stuff that we the sight impaired can do just as quickly and effectively as our sighted peers but there are constant, daily, time consuming tasks that can get overwhelming at times – paying bills, sorting through snail mail, your child’s newsletters and homework from school, etc, etc.  There’s lots of tools that help (Video Magnifiers for example) but it’s still very time consuming.


Here are some common problems and a few strategy suggestions

Paying Bills

  • Video Magnifiers of the Desktop and Hand Held variety
  • Large checks with bold lines (3”X7”)
    • Sight Check 1-877-585-8777, comes with Sight Check Register
    • Ordered from Harland Clarke – $48 for 1 box of 150 checks!
  • Automatic payments – drawn from your bank account by the vendor (i.e. electric and telephone bills)
  • Banking online – be sure it’s easy to use and accessible with your Assistive Technology of choice

Sorting Mail – bills, medical statements

  • Those awesome Video Magnifiers of various sizes
  • Using 20/20, or a brightly colored highlighter, pen to mark critical portions of a bill
  • Create an organized file system with large marked envelopes, colored tabs and rubber bands to denote each month’s statements or specific accounts. Invite a friend over and make it fun and festive so its not a chore!

Tax prep, receipts

  • Using a Video Magnifier is crucial here in order to get all the numbers right
  • 20/20, or brightly colored highlighter,  pens to mark critical portions of your materials
  • Turbo Tax, if you can as its not very accessible, for online filing
  • You can always, if funds allow, get an accountant or bookkeeper!!!

Calendar –  your daily schedule

  • Search out for a Very large calendar from the Dollar Store (2’X3’)
  • Electronic calendar Options
    • Mobile apps
      • Calendar App in iOS
        • Using Siri to add events
        • Siri lets you skip a lot of steps – “Check my calendar for the next 5 days”
        • VoiceBrief App
        • Using iCloud to keep all iDevices and your MS Outlook calendar synced
        • Google Calendar
        • Outlook Calendar

Passwords & Data Security

Contacts & Business Cards

Rodney’s Gadgets:

App Review: Peggle by Pop Cap Games

A simple game for a complicated guy. Joe loves peggle. He loves it so much that he owns it for iOS, Xbox 360 and possibly a few more versions on various platforms. The game involves you aiming a crosshair, shooting a ball to turn the pegs on the playfield from one color to another. Joe notes that the iOS version is his fave as it has a tap to zoom feature that can help you identify hard to see objects better. Check out Peggle for iOS at this link

Video Magnifier Apps For The iDevices

We’ve been asked by many of you to cover our thoughts on the rise of the Video Magnifier app and if it was worth the investment. Rodney sat down and experimented with the following technologies.

1. VisionAssist ($5.99): http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/visionassist/id502356279?mt=8

2. Lumin ($1.99): http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lumin/id480343142?mt=8

3. Eyesight ($29.99): http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/eyesight-app-that-replaces/id512266295?mt=8

Be sure to listen to the discussion for a breakdown of the features of each app listed above. The short version of Rodenye’s findings is that many of these types of apps are pretty good for the price of admission. It should be noted though that the  major problem with these comes down to how good your camera is, I.E. iPhone vs iPad 2 or 3, and does Retina make any hill of beans. Also, realize dear listner that Apple doesn’t allow full use of the camera by 3rd parties. Therefore, a traditional video magnifier may still prove to have more flexibility for some tasks.

Rodney also suggests these informative links to learn more about other tech we mentioned during this portion of the program

Tech Access DemoCast, Episode 8: Eyesight by SightTech (An Interview)

 (TA Daily Tip 306: i-Loview by AI Squared:


We have a cornucopia of emails to share this time around and we adore getting feedback. Rmember that you can leave us an iReport in iBlink Radio or drop us a line resources@serotek.com

Our first email is from Pam:


Thank you for such an informative panel discussion.

It reminded me of a story I think may both give you a chuckle & be beneficial.

In 1992, I was given my first real dose of computers & how they work. I took a course learning my first screen reader, at the time it was vert.

I was using Magic 1.27 with 4x magnification. Also, at the time word perfect was king.

At any rate, I believed the computer would not function without the monitor. Granted, I was learning a program that would give faster options in an employment environment however my addiction to the blue word perfect screen & my need to paste my face to the screen to attempt to read what I had written forced my instructor to take the monitor away.

I did subsequently pass both the vert course & a word perfect course within a 6 week period.

I believe taking the monitor away allowed me to concentrate on what the computer was doing rather than being distracted with the little vision I had with no magnification in front of me.

That technology is long out of date, however the lesson lives on. I do use a mixture of devices. I have an ipad & Iphone I use with voiceover, especially on the iphone. I have learned to integrate the vision I have using the magnification software when it is most helpful & integrating seemlessly with speech when appropriate.

I hope you can get the expertise of an Optomotrist to help find ways of simply explaining varying degrees of vision loss to the general public.

 People do not understand the gray areas. One is either totally blind or can see.  I am not looking for an in depth medical discussion. There are those who need simple analagies to help a sighted friend or co-worker understand in simple terms what the person can see. An example I use dealing with clouded corneas is: my vision could be described as someone who can not clean an icy or dirty windshield of a car.

As per your discussion of the otonomous car being created by Google, I wonder if a visually impaired person were to ever own one of these machines having never owned a vehicle would be attentive to cleaning & maintaining it properly? Weather & road chemicals will get in to areas of the vehicle one would normally not think of cleaning. However, if this thing is to be totally otonomous, it will have to be cleaned & maintained to perfection to keep it running & communicating properly.

Please keep this program going. It is a nice fit with the buffet of podcasts you currently offer. Thank you for all of your hard work to benefit all of us.

Pam F

Our next email suggests a semi low ttech solution for those snazzy high tech pictures on the web:


 In episode 2, you guys were talking about things which are difficult to see on webpages.  One thing that was mentioned was sites that contain pictures of text. The way I often deal with these is to print them out and read them with a video magnifier. This might seem a little backwards, but they are often easier to read this way than on the screen. Sometimes wasting a bit of paper is worth to save time, frustration and eye strain. Occasionally, I have even had succccess using this technique to solve captchas; although, that depends on how smeary they are.


 Thanks for doing the show, and I will be looking forward ! more eppisodes.


Jessie writes in to tell us of his methods for using the computer:

Hello.  I just wanted to say I like the new High Contrast podcast on SPN.  I find it interesting hearing other people’s perspectives, and how they do things visually or non-visually.


I liked the discussion on when to use speech versus magnification. in Episode 2.  I am legally blind, and have been since birth.  I am more comfortable and much faster when using speech.  I do use my vision for many things, but in a different way than most people would think, while using the computer anyway.


I currently use a combination of System Access and Windows 7 magnifier for most things.  I will use keyboard shortcuts and speech for getting around many things quickly, but often have magnification on in the background.


For cluttered web sites, I often use magnification to just quickly explore the general layout of a page, then move my mouse over a block of text that is interesting and have System Access read it.  this is especially useful for web sites that don’t use proper HTML mark-up for paragraphs, headings, etc.


Keep up the great work.


Lastly, Michelle offers us some topic ideas. Hope she likes the talk on organization   in this episode!

I am glad that Serotek has elected to make a podcast for those of us who are partially sighted.  I have listened to both episodes 1 and 2 of High Contrast and plan to listen to future poscasts, but I feel that these podcasts coud reach a broader audience if more emphasis is placed on practical skills.  I would think that there is a large segment of the partially sighted world whom either were previously fully sighted like myself or had more partial vision than they do now.  This is a topic that is often overlooked in technilogical oriented podcasts.  In Episode 2, Maureen discussed using a magnification level of 7X and wanting to learn the hotkey commands for speech and the emotional effect of this transition was discussed.  This was the part of the podcast that by far had the most resonance with me as I also use magnification and need to learn speech.  I use a 3x magnification, but would like to transition to speech as my eyes strain easily when I type.  I wonder about other practical topics as how do you navigate jury duty, how do you set up devices around the home if you can not clearly see what you need to set up and how do you feel about traveling to new cities and countries as one’s eyesight diminishes?  The beginning of Episode 2 with the talk about automatic cars is that type of topic, but other topics which affect daily life could also be explored. 


Keep those ideas coming in an email, iReport or even leave us a comment on this very blog. All are most welcome!

How can you find out what our hosts are up to outside the podcast?

Follow Maurie Hill on Twitter

Check out Maurie’s writing on the AI Squared Zoomed In Blog

Follow Rodney Edgar on Twitter

Check out Rodney on the Tech Access Weekly Blog and Podcast

Follow Jeremy Curry on Twitter

You can also check out GW Micro on Twitter.

Feel free to send your feedback on this show to resources@serotalk.com. You can always find the latest on this show and others on the SeroTalk Podcast Network using iBlink Radio for your iOS device or your Android device. You can even leave us an iReport right from the iBlink app.

Thanks for listening!

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One Response to High Contrast Episode 4: The Old-Fashioned Way

  1. Michelle Bernstein says:

    I found this episode very informative in that you all describe how you handle many
    organizational chores such as bill paying, organizing your checkbook and daily expenditures and organizing tax papers. As someone who was fairly recently diagnosed in her late forties with Stargardt’s disease, one of my ongoing concerns is trying to learn all these financial tasks myself in a new way by using a computer with Zoomtext magnification and speech and not relying on my husband who is fully sighted to do these tasks. Before I became visually impaired, I was the one who paid the bills with print checks, reconciled the various bank statements and organized our savings. It’s an important issue trying to figure out how much help one should get from a sighted family member, friend or a volunteer from an organization for the visually impaired such as The Lighthouse. Thanks for sharing your perspectives on how each of you goes about dealing with financial responsibilties.


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