Monday, March 30, 2015

An Old Dog Learning New Tricks: The iPhone and the KNFB App

The blog, Loving What Is Left, was written primarily in 2013 and 2014.  I learned during those years that I was not really blogging but writing a collection of closely related essays that, from time to time, could not or should not stand alone.  It became clearer as I progressed on this adventure that I was writing a book rather than a blog and that I would want my readers to start at the beginning and move forward rather than begin at the end and read the previous posts in reverse order.  Learning from my mistake, I pulled the posts and will make them available in a more reader friendly version.  All new posts will appear under the expanded title, Loving What Is Left While Living With Low Vision.  These new posts will not be about me but about information that might help others who are living with low vision.

The most important additions to my life have been an IPhone and the KNFB application.  I was intimidated by the IPhone and its accessibility features and believed that I could never learn all the taps and swipes.  Once I told myself that I was going to make a lot of mistakes and would be able to overcome them as long as I asked for help, the fun began.  I decided to take baby steps.  I just wanted to learn how to make a phone call.  The next morning, when someone actually called me, I did not have a clue about how to accept a call.  Once I got through baby steps one and two, I learned how to close applications so the battery would last longer and somehow closed the phone’s ability to work at all.  The Apple store genius took care of that.  Within a few days I was downloading music from ITunes and audio books by using the BARD application from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.  A friend taught me that it is easier to select the books using my computer, add them to the BARD wish list there, and then access the wish list on the BARD IPhone application.

The real push to learn to live with this new technology was the invention of the KNFB application that allows me to use the camera on the IPhone to take a picture of a page in a book or magazine and then listen as the IPhone reads the text to me.  After decades of reading with the large Kurzweil Reading Edge or a scanner attached to a desktop or laptop computer loaded with Kurzweil software, I now have an inexpensive portable reader that fits in my purse or pocket.

This old dog is learning many new tricks.  What a treat!