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Topic # 238257 9-Jul-2018 15:00
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So I got my legally blind cousin hooked up with a couple of echos,

 

Got a garage door opener controller and managed to hook that up using ifttt and alexa,

 

Also got the lights working using some smart light switches https://www.fusionautomation.co.nz/product/smart-wall-switch/

We played around with a ir blaster but its way to flaky to be reliable looking at a new LG TV with built in support

 

Any other ideas, Bluetooth locators seem like a good idea but if it just says "lounge" its not really enough information.


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488 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 2052501 10-Jul-2018 10:45
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Keen to follow thread. My sister is fully blind (after getting a cold aged in mid 40s of all causes). She swears by her Blind Foundation Siri iPhone. I would be really keen to keep up with how this goes as this has limited her world so much :(


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  Reply # 2052547 10-Jul-2018 11:51
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We played around with a ir blaster but its way to flaky to be reliable looking at a new LG TV with built in support

 

 

I'm using a harmony Hub controlled by both Vera and Alexa to control TV, Sky, Soundbar.. it is extremely reliable. It doesn't even need line of sight to the devices - it just blasts out enough IR that it reflects off something back to the target.

 

 

 




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  Reply # 2053076 11-Jul-2018 08:27
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kryptonjohn:

 

 

We played around with a ir blaster but its way to flaky to be reliable looking at a new LG TV with built in support

 

 

I'm using a harmony Hub controlled by both Vera and Alexa to control TV, Sky, Soundbar.. it is extremely reliable. It doesn't even need line of sight to the devices - it just blasts out enough IR that it reflects off something back to the target.

 

 

We tired that but have had issues, the Alexa TV commands are a bit limited, changing TV Inputs was flaky (mostly the tv's fault it reques multiple pushes of the input button) and tv on /off (it looks like it switches scenes?) was not reliable, channel changing did work well when it worked





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  Reply # 2053079 11-Jul-2018 08:34
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Killerkiwi2005:

 

kryptonjohn:

 

 

We played around with a ir blaster but its way to flaky to be reliable looking at a new LG TV with built in support

 

 

I'm using a harmony Hub controlled by both Vera and Alexa to control TV, Sky, Soundbar.. it is extremely reliable. It doesn't even need line of sight to the devices - it just blasts out enough IR that it reflects off something back to the target.

 

 

We tired that but have had issues, the Alexa TV commands are a bit limited, changing TV Inputs was flaky (mostly the tv's fault it reques multiple pushes of the input button) and tv on /off (it looks like it switches scenes?) was not reliable, channel changing did work well when it worked

 

 

The main issue I have is that our TV (Veon) lacks discrete IR codes so it relies on knowing the last state of things like power and input source. If someone uses the remote in between it knows the incorrect state so needs to be re-aligned. If there were discrete codes that would power on or off, and select source, from any state, then this would not be an issue. It's a problem with the TV. What do find is that as long as nobody switches off with the remote, it works pretty much flawlessly.

 

Channel up and down seem to always work as they are discrete codes, and selecting a channel by number always works for the same reason. When I say "Alexa turn on the TV" it does a power button press for TV, sky decoder and sound bar. That also tells Alexa to stay in the TV context for little while so subsequent commands can be shortened with the assumed context such as "Alexa turn up the volume" will be sent to the soundbar. 

 

If only the damn TV had discrete codes...


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  Reply # 2054488 11-Jul-2018 18:03
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I'm totally blind and am an assistive technology consultant, so happy to help. Good on you for taking this tech project on.

 

First it's important to be clear about what specific problems you're trying to solve.

 

We recently automated all our lights, mainly because our kids, who can see, often forget to turn the lights off and my wife and I are wasting electricity not knowing they're on and not needing them on.

 

If your cousin is legally blind, then I take it he has some useable vision? In that case, Alexa is really just a handy thing to have for light control, since he can see whether the lights are on or not and he hopefully has the skills to know where his own light switches are, so the use case here is one of convenience as it is for anyone who can see.

 

Unless you have an Alexa device like the Echo Show, which isn't officially sold here, any Alexa function may be of interest, since this is a voice activated, voice output device. A lot of blind people enjoy Alexa for getting the news, playing games...all the things you use it for.

 

If you're talking about identifying rooms or specific parts of the house, then it sounds like he has needs that don't have technological solutions. Keep in mind that many blind people travel to work every day and travel the world, so for someone who has had appropriate training, finding one's way around a house is a snap and requires no technology. The solution here is a much lower-tech one, receiving good training in blindness skills from an organisation like the Blind Foundation. Technology has changed my life and the lives of many blind people, but it will never replace learning non-visual ways to perform basic tasks.

 

In terms of other technology you might consider, there is a lot.

 

If you're wanting an accessible TV, I'd recommend a TV running the full Android TV experience such as most of the Sony Bravier devices. They offer the Android TV version of TalkBack, and Sony's own screen reader. With the latter, the TV guide is fully accessible. We get speech feedback as we navigate the guide, and can record shows with the WD hard drive connected to it.

 

Apple TV is also absolutely brilliant as a set-top box and is fully accessible. Every Apple product has a screen reader called VoiceOver built into it.

 

One of the biggest problems technology can solve for blind people is access to information. So I think the greatest gift you can give him, if he's willing to learn, is to get him online. It opens up a world of newspapers he can read, shopping he can do online, banking with dignity and independence, and much more.

 

In the mobile space, in my view iOS has a far more intuitive, robust, mature screen reader built-in with VoiceOver for iOS than the Android equivalent, which is still playing catch-up.

 

Not only would that allow him to use all the standard iOS apps built in, but there are many third-party apps that are accessibly designed, as well as blindness-specific apps. For example, we use a free app from Microsoft called Seeing AI, that reads printed text, describes scenes and people, identifies currency and colours. Specialist blindness GPS apps gives descriptions of the businesses you're passing and streets you're on.

 

A wonderful service called Aira connects a blind person with a sighted specialist to basically answer any questions that require vision. We use it to go shopping at the farmers' market, I travel with it internationally through airports I've not visited before, and I sometimes get them to remote into my PC when a website isn't accessible.

 

On a PC, there is JAWS, which is an intuitive, powerful screen reader for Windows that comes packed with training material.

 

On the Mac, Apple has a version of VoiceOver which comes with the OS.

 

Microsoft has Narrator, a built-in screen reader that is becoming substantially more capable with every version of Windows. If all he wants to do is check email and visit web pages, it may now be enough.

 

One of the common mistakes a lot of people make is that all blind people need speech input, such as Dragon. Most do not. If you think about it, most good touch typists don't look at the keyboard when they're typing. I'm a very fast typist and I can't see a thing. The issue for blind people is output, getting an alternative way to get information from the screen, not input.

 

Hope that gives you some ideas.





Jonathan Mosen

 

Mosen Consulting, for advice on web and app accessibility

 

http://mosen.org

TLD

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  Reply # 2054630 11-Jul-2018 22:02
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Johnathon, I don't want to sound patronising, but how on earth do you manage to do so much as a blind person?

 

Come to think of it, the man who ran the Community Centre just off Cathedral Square — before it got munted in the big quake — was totally blind.  That was a beautiful building, with over fifty community organisations worked out of it on three floors.  I 'think' his name was Paul.  I only met him briefly while attending a Volunteer New Zealand conference there in 2010.





Trevor Dennis
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  Reply # 2054706 12-Jul-2018 07:36
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Fascinating!

 

You can ask Alexa if a light is on, right? I can for instance ask Alexa if our front door is locked because the electronic lock is z-wave enabled and Alexa can query it through its Vera skill... I assume that it could query any other z-wave or wifi switch? I don't yet have any lighting automation

 

Cheers

 

JohnO

 

 


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  Reply # 2054956 12-Jul-2018 12:38
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TLD:

 

Johnathon, I don't want to sound patronising, but how on earth do you manage to do so much as a blind person?

 

Come to think of it, the man who ran the Community Centre just off Cathedral Square — before it got munted in the big quake — was totally blind.  That was a beautiful building, with over fifty community organisations worked out of it on three floors.  I 'think' his name was Paul.  I only met him briefly while attending a Volunteer New Zealand conference there in 2010.

 

 

Sight is a very dominant sense. So when you have it, you're highly dependent on it. If you don't have it, there are alternative ways to do most things.

 

The biggest barrier blind people face is other people's attitudes. There's a huge unemployment rate in the blind community, and a lot of that can be attributed to sighted employers being unable to imagine how a blind person could do a job when they can't see to do it.





Jonathan Mosen

 

Mosen Consulting, for advice on web and app accessibility

 

http://mosen.org

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  Reply # 2054958 12-Jul-2018 12:40
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kryptonjohn:

 

Fascinating!

 

You can ask Alexa if a light is on, right? I can for instance ask Alexa if our front door is locked because the electronic lock is z-wave enabled and Alexa can query it through its Vera skill... I assume that it could query any other z-wave or wifi switch? I don't yet have any lighting automation

 

Cheers

 

JohnO

 

 

 

 

This may depend on the lights in use, but using our Philips Hue lights, I can't do that with Alexa. I can with Siri though.





Jonathan Mosen

 

Mosen Consulting, for advice on web and app accessibility

 

http://mosen.org

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  Reply # 2054973 12-Jul-2018 12:58
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jmosen:

 

I'm totally blind and am an assistive technology consultant, so happy to help. Good on you for taking this tech project on.

 

 

I am sighted and you are a hell of a lot more capable than I am. I have tried to imagine what my life would be like without vision and I can't. All I can say is I am very impressed.

 

 





I reject your reality and substitute my own. - Adam Savage
 


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