My HP-12C emulator app just learned VoiceOver but it's quite specialized--does or did anyone use this RPN financial calculator?

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iOS & iPadOS
Ever since the app store opened, I've had my HP-12C emulator on the store and it always said button button button when voiceover was turned on. App development being a business and all, the number of potential additional customers I'd gain by adding accessibility is... kinda small. Because you pretty much had to learn to use this thing in school. And have been able to remain in the financial field in spite of your vision. And have an iPhone. And need an emulator. But I decided that what the heck, it doesn't matter if it sells or not--it's a good thing to do anyway. It might, just might, give someone with a head for numbers the same tool that the rest of the world has used for so long... and that in and of itself is enough. Anyway, the staff here at AppleVis doesn't know enough about the 12C to give it a run through which is understandable because it really is something only a CFA falls in love with. They suggested I ask here on the forums if anyone was a current or former 12C user that can give it a good workout, I can get you a promo code... Thanks--I'd also like to learn what I could do to make it better...

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Submitted by Esther on Friday, January 31, 2014

There was actually a great RPN calculator that worked with VoiceOver on the 12" PowerBook. I think it was called RPN Calculator by J.M. Baker and it was a full scientific (rather than specifically Financial) Calculator. I can still run it on my 2005 PowerBook (even under Tiger, the first version of Mac OS X to incorporate VoiceOver) but there's been nothing like it since, and since the Mac OS X hasn't supported Rosetta mode since Snow Leopard, people who bought licenses for version 1.96 (possibly last released around 2002?) are out of luck. Cheers, Esther

Submitted by Esther on Friday, January 31, 2014

I realize that there's probably no way for you to evaluate the quality of response you might get, so I thought I'd post a few links to some examples that describe the assessment that was given of VoiceOver accessibility for app related to calculations. Most of these posts were written in response to queries on the viphone mailing list, so you can read the threads and posts at the Mail Archive site for that group:

RE: Simple calculator for iPad 

Free accessible Financial Calculator app: EZ Financial Calculators 

Try the freeiTip (tip calculator) by PalaSoftware, Inc. [was Re: Accessible tip calculator]

Because these posts were prompted by user questions, they general cover requests for simple calculators.  A few of these have shown up at AppleVis like the entry for iTip. However, the combination of the spam checker and the requirement that I spend a good deal of the time formatting to reproduce the same information that appears in the app store, instead of focussing on text content, means that for a number if apps that I've started to enter at AppleVis,  I end up getting tossed off the web site before I can complete the entry, if I go into any detail.  

The Mail-Archive pages only use text format (I don't have to specially create links), and the search capability to locate old content is superior to the algorithms used by Google.  You can also use access keys (keyboard shortcuts) to read down threads for any browser/OS combination.  In Safari on the Mac, I would use "Control-n" to read the next post in a thread.  (If you started Safari without VoiceOver on, you'd have to press Control-Option-n instead, since your access key prefix would be Control-Option). In Internet Explorer on Windows, you'd use Alt-n to read the next post and Alt-p for the previous post.  See their FAQ for more details on searching and shortcuts.

Cheers,

Esther

 

 

Esther: Here's a promo code, you have to redeem it before 2/13/14. Since the code is one-time usable, unfortunately the first person to use it is also the last... so swift is the word! WXK7NEXF9T6P My calculator website (stonemeadowdevelopment.com) has a fair bit of information on the differences between mine and HP's--there are a fair number of changes I made to improve the usability of my implementation vs the original. If you need a link to the HP manual for the basics, I can supply that as well. Thank you *very* much! Kim

Submitted by Esther on Friday, January 31, 2014

In reply to by Kim

Just wanted to say that I redeemed the code, but it will take me a while to work through the app. A few initial comments: this app seems to be usable with VoiceOver on the iPhone, but not on the iPad. Although it's a universal app, the download app on an iPad Mini, at least under iOS 7, has some of the keys unlabeled (VoiceOver announces these as "button", regardless of landscape or portrait orientation) even when the same keys are announced with different labels on the iPhone. Easiest way to check this is to a two finger flick up "Read All" gesture and compare what you hear for the iPhone vs, the iPad. Secondly, I suspect that for operations on the iPhone, with VoiceOver, most users will want to use the rotor to set their typing mode to "Standard typing" instead of "Touch typing". This is because the calculator menu options for key actions changes when the "f" or "g" keys are used to switch menu modes.

In standard typing mode, when I flick right or left, or otherwise navigate to keyboard controls so that VoiceOver's focus is on a particular key, I can double tap anywhere on the screen to activate that control.  In touch typing mode, on either a familiar, standard keyboard, such as the onboard keyboard used for typing text, or simple number keypads for entering numbers, I can move to a letter key while keeping my finger on the screen, listening to VoiceOver announce the key under my finger, and have that key register when I lift my finger from the screen.  The problem is that it is too easy to switch the menu mode functions associated with f and g keys on and off when you use touch typing mode with VoiceOver, especially because of the multiple functions of the keys. When you're moving to a a specific operation key, you're just as likely to disable the f or g key mode activation while navigating the keyboard in touch typing mode.  I also think most people will use this calculator in Portrait mode.  Another useful tip is to enable the "vertical navigation" feature as one of the rotor options, so you can easily flick up and down along columns when your rotor is set to this mode. I use this feature with the Big Calculator free app discussed in the link given in my first post (sorry, broken there because of formatting):

RE: Simple calculator for iPad

This is going to take quite a bit of exploration before I can report back. Meanwhile, take a look at the links for developers at the bottom of each page.  The blog post by Matt Legend Gemmell linked on that page is one of the most readable articles I've found for explaining to developers how to builde VoiceOver accessibility into iOS apps.

Cheers,

Esther

 

 

 

 

Super good Esther, just what I was hoping for. I don't have my mini with me so I can't explore why there are some plain "buttons" -- things are consistent on my iPad 3 and iPhone 5S. But I'll check to see what's going on with the mini. Meantime, I eagerly await your next installment! Kim

Submitted by Chelsea on Saturday, February 1, 2014

In reply to by Kim

Hi Kim, I am not a financial person, so cannot directly comment on your emulator app. However, I do want to commend you for "doing the right thing," as you say in your original post. As a physicist, I do math, though certainly not the kind of math you do. Anyway, it has long been my belief that the iOS device has huge potential for calculations/computations, particularly since you are using your spatial reasoning skills when you are using these devices, particularly the iPad. I know much of the raw power just isn't there yet, but commend you as a developer for taking the time and expressing interest in making your app more accessible! We need more debs in general working to make useful number concepts work for us as blind folks on the iOS platform; that way it will make it easier for us to in turn do our own work and show sighted people we actually can. So this is a big nonprogrammer's post saying thank you very mush, keep up the good work, and I hope it all turns out for the best in the end. Chelsea

Submitted by Tree on Saturday, February 1, 2014

As always I am very glad to see developers making strides to increase the accessibility of their apps. However, part of your comment does not sit well with me. You say, "And have been able to remain in the financial field in spite of your vision". This seems to imply that you think blindness has something to do with one's ability to work in the financial field. I am sure that there are many blind people in the financial field that would not appreciate such a perspective. Once again I would like to say I appreciate your efforts of improving accessibility.

I meant no offense, truly. What I was trying to say is that earning a living in the field of finance is an especially challenging endeavor to those that cannot see well, so the number of people that overcome the obstacles and practice their craft is near certain to be few. It is a testament to their whole being that some do. Perhaps, if I get this right, in-your-hand access to a unique and powerful tool that is the defacto gold standard in the industry might in a small way make it easier. At least that's my hope. Again, my apologies. Kim

Just wanted to say thank you for your app. I graduate a couple of years ago with a degree in finance and your app would have made my life a lot easier. I would suggest that you get this app in the hands of accessibility services at colleges and the commission for the blind in every state. I do wish the HP manual was accessible, if you look at it with a screen reader the button descriptions are not understandable. I will try and have my son go through the HP manual, or do you know of an accessible version? I hope everyone gets the word out on your app. Thank you, Kim

Submitted by Roland on Monday, March 31, 2014

I am certainly interested in this. In fact, I haven't seen a VO friendly RPN calculator at all and yes, I know the HP from ages ago!