A New Chapter in our History Opens With the Creation of the AppleVis Blog Team

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

We are pleased and excited to announce the six people who have been invited to join our newly created AppleVis Blog Team. Each brings with them a unique mix of interests and experience, and we are sure that they will help us to make our blog an even more powerful and respected voice in the space that we occupy.

Rather than attempt to summarize each team member's unique backgrounds and qualifications, we felt it would be better to let each person introduce themselves:

Amir Soleimani

I live in Tehran, Iran, and have an M.A. degree in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). I'm currently head of the International Desk at YJC (Young Journalists' Club) of Iran, which is the largest Persian news agency. I'm also a translator, radio journalist and assistive technology adviser, and always jump at the chance to beta-test applications on many platforms -- iOS in particular. I also produce podcasts from time to time and have a proclivity to collect recorders and microphones. You may also want to take a gander at my previous blog posts on AppleVis as I was a blogger here in the past. Looking forward to a coruscating blogging experience at AppleVis.

Brian Giles (left the Team in March 2017)

I live in Ogden, Utah and just graduated with a B.S. in journalism from Weber State University last May. I've been blind all my life and have only light perception, but I don't really pay attention to it much anymore. Right now I spend a lot of time going on long walks with my guide dog and getting acquainted with the frustration and repetition that is looking for a first job.

I became very interested in Apple at the end of 2004 when my friend showed me his brand new 4th generation iPod. Shortly after I got an iPod Shuffle a few months later, I began eagerly reading reviews of all things iPod. I've been a fan ever since.

I'm excited to be joining the AppleVis team and seeing what everyone comes up with.

Darrell Shandrow (left the Team in March 2017)

I am a blind accessibility advocate with over 20 years of consulting and support experience in the assistive and mainstream sides of the technology industry. I am currently employed in a technical call center, where I help businesses and residential customers resolve issues with their cable TV, high-speed internet and telephone service.

For over 10 years, I have been passionately and publicly evangelizing the need to insure the full inclusion and participation in society by blind people that only equal accessibility to information and technology can achieve.

In 2010, my life as a blind technology user changed significantly with the release of the iPhone 4. For the first time, a blind person could access banking information, browse the web, exchange emails, participate in social media, play games, read the news and do so much more, all on relative terms of equality with her sighted peers, thanks to Apple's robust implementation of VoiceOver. Unfortunately, I believe that as iOS has evolved, and some aspects of accessibility have continued to move forward, blind people have experienced a number of significant setbacks in the implementation of VoiceOver.

It is my intention to create compelling AppleVis blog articles that encourage you to act! I would like to see AppleVis blog readers writing to Apple and to third-party developers asking them to improve their support for accessibility and, thus, to fully enable the enjoyment of and participation in all aspects of Apple's ecosystem by blind people. From time to time, I will also mix it up a bit by blogging on topics that go beyond all accessibility all the time.

Mike Taylor (left the Team in April 2017)

Hi, I am Mike and love technology, and I have a background in accessibility and audio production. I am the one in our house who is called on to do all things technical, and when I am having a break from the technology I am running around after my 2-year old daughter. I am thrilled to be able to have this opportunity to contribute to AppleVis and look forward to posting soon.

Morgan Watkins

I live in Austin, Texas, and have been a daily visitor to AppleVis for many years.

I spent thirty years at the University of Texas at Austin, most of it in campus-wide computing services leadership. I also enjoyed thirteen years volunteering on the Board of Directors at Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California. After retiring from the University, I had the opportunity to serve as the Guide Dogs for the Blind Acting President and CEO.

I have happily retired again, and I love to spend my free time writing and reading. I prefer to do my work with an iPhone and a Bluetooth keyboard. My personal goal has been to turn my iPhone into a completely functional and stand-alone business system, information station, and entertainment center. I love my iPhone pocket computer. I look forward to sharing some of my perspectives and learning even more from all of you.

Niall Gallagher

I recently graduated from the University of Limerick here in Ireland with a MSc. in Human Resource Management, and I am due to start my first job in October. I am currently volunteering as a Digital Inclusion Champion as part of DigiPlace4All, which is a European project focused on promoting assistive technology among those with a disability.

I have been using iOS since 2009 when I purchased my very first iPhone, i.e. the iPhone 3GS, and I later entered the world of Mac OS when I purchased the MacBook Pro. My hobbies/interests include listening to music, reading and discovering new technologies. I also enjoy travelling, attending musical theatre productions and finding new projects.

AppleVis is a fantastic resource, and I am delighted to be part of the blogging team. Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you may have, as I am very passionate about assistive technology and helping those who use the said technology in any way I can.

We are very excited to welcome these six individuals to our new AppleVis Blog Team, and we look forward to their contributions to the community as AppleVis opens a new chapter in its history.

We also want to take this opportunity to publicly thank everybody who expressed an interest in joining this new Team. We were thrilled by both the number and quality of people who applied. You gave us some tough decisions to make.

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Submitted by Deborah Armstrong on Monday, August 31, 2015

I am so impressed with the breadth of skills and experience you six bloggers bring. I hope you find this volunteer job writing as rewarding as I find reading the blogs posted in the past and which you'll surely add in the future.

I'd like to make a request. With the plethora of wonderful apps out there, which ones do each of you turn to again and again. Which ones did you install expecting not to need and found yourselves using on a daily basis, and which ones did you expect to regularly run and find you rarely do?

For me, BlindSquare is the app I thought I would hardly ever use, and which I do use almost daily. My favorite feature is that it transitions smoothly from vehicle to pedestrian mode, and that it's easy to control what it does and doesn't automatically announce.

The app I expected to use and hardly do is Talking Goggles. It's just easier to ask a sighted friend, or the person next to you in the Walmart to identify an item.

I'm really curious about the app usage of other experienced users and how the fantasy of what one might like stacks up against the real life world of what one actualy turns to when unlocking their phone.

Submitted by Ekaj on Monday, August 31, 2015

I, too, would like to give a warm welcome to these 6 individuals. I've read stuff on here and elsewhere from at least 1 of you. The app suggestion is a great one, and I have another idea for a post or two or how ever many it takes. How exactly this would pan out I don't know for sure, but I would really appreciate knowing 2 things. First off, have any of you sought training at your local Apple store before? If so, how was the experience? The other part to this is if you have never sought in-store training, did you have any formal Apple training at all and if so how was it? The reason I bring this up is that I only got to attend one training session at my local Apple store. For reasons which I won't go into on here, that is the only session I had. My trainer did a wonderful job though, and I only wish I could go back there even though he's not there anymore. In addition, experiences with AppleCare and/or the accessibility team would be greatly appreciated. I realize this reply is somewhat long-winded, but some things have arisen with which I might need a lot of help. I'm trying out other solutions though first which were suggested to me.

Submitted by Mike Taylor on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hi all, and thanks for the welcome.
Deborah I always expected to use the Looktel Money reader a few times a week, but it is much easier to ask my wife *smile*. I use Voice Dream Reader for pretty much everything reading-related now, initially I thought this would be limited to very long instruction manuals, but I use it even for 3-or-4 page documents as well. It's just so much easier. I also love Blind Square, and KNFB Reader to name a couple; although I have plenty of other apps like other users.

Jake I haven't had any training from Apple, or sort any. The only reason being that I love to give things ago and get help if I really get stuck. No reflection on any one though. Different people learn in different ways (as I remember from my teacher training.) I am considering doing the Apple certification at some point in the future though. Weather or not I get round to it is something else.

Submitted by Ted Drake on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

This is a stellar line up for starting a new project. I appreciate the wide spectrum of experience.

I'm especially interested in Amir's outlook on iOS usage outside the United States and Europe. Most of the information we get in tech journalism is heavily focused on users near California.

I'm also looking forward to Mike's understanding of iOS programming.

Submitted by Ekaj on Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Thanks for your reply Mike. I actually just downloaded a free app that might help me out with my problem. In a nutshell, the disk space on my Mac has decreased rather drastically. I've been told this might be due at least in part to the format in which I imported some of my CD's. I've emptied out some of my cache, as others have suggested. But I'm also going to try out this app. I read about it in the Mac App Directory on here, and there's also an article on this subject in "AccessWorld." Like I mentioned in my previous comment to this thread, the trainer at my local Apple store did a very good job with me, but aside from that and relying on this wonderful site, very few people in my locale even know about VoiceOver.