Free Upgrade to Windows 10 for those with Assistive Technology Ends 31 December 2017

Hi all. A bit of a technical blog this time round, but this could affect many PC users.

At the end of July 2016, the offer of a free upgrade from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 to Windows 10 was withdrawn for most users, though the offer for those using assistive technology such as screen readers and screen magnifiers was extended. This extended offer is now coming to an end as of 31 December 2017.

I strongly suggest that anyone using Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 should upgrade their version of Windows before the end of December. Those using Windows 7 may not want to upgrade, though- particularly if they have old devices which may not work with Windows 10.  If you use Office 2003 or older, then I would also suggest that you do not upgrade to Windows 10.

I am very happy to discuss upgrading to Windows 10 and any implications it may have for you. If you live in the East London area then I can also arrange to visit you and help you carry out the upgrade if this is the most appropriate step for you, and of course this service is absolutely free of charge!

You can reach me by calling my mobile which is 07779 441000 or calling East London Vision on 0203 697 6464, or contacting me by email at graham@eastlondonvision.org.uk.

The information confirming the end of Microsoft’s free upgrade offer is tricky to find so I have included a link to the relevant Microsoft blog post at the end of this article.

The post also discusses some interesting Microsoft accessibility improvements in the latest version of Windows 10. The most interesting of these for many readers will probably be the colour filter, which will allow you to quickly set colour choices that will then apply to all programs on your PC.

For info on the end of the assistive technology free upgrade offer visit: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/accessibility/2017/10/17/windows-10-accessibility-update/

Written by Graham Page

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Why Braille is Still Relevant in the Digital Age

For those of you who aren’t aware, last week was National Braille Week, so now is as good an opportunity as ever to talk about why this form of communication continues to be so important in the VI world.

Most people know that Braille was invented by Louis Braille, a nineteenth-century Frenchman who accidentally blinded himself while playing with tools in his father’s workshop at the age of three. But did you know that he had come up with the now-familiar six-dots system by the age of just 15, and published his findings when he was 20? However, scepticism of the system meant that Braille wasn’t on the curriculum even at the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris, where Louis was a professor.  It took until two years after his death for Braille to be implemented there, after continual demands from blind pupils.

Today, Braille is used by over 150 million people across the world.  However, in an age in which digital technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace, and voiceover and voice-activated devices are becoming more common and readily available, many people no longer consider Braille to be as essential for communication.  However, whilst it is certainly true that voice-activated products can be extremely useful for a VIP, this does not eliminate the importance of Braille.  Being a fully-sighted person myself, I once asked the opinion of a VIP how they felt about Braille being considered less important nowadays.  He responded, “Imagine if someone said to you that you were no longer allowed to read or write text, and the only way you could receive or impart information was aurally.  It would have a huge impact on your life.”  And he’s right- being able to read and write Braille opens up many more opportunities for VIPs than they would have otherwise.  Braille is important to help improve people’s literacy rates, which in turn aids people in the workplace.  And with its incorporation with recent developments in technology, such as portable Braille Notetakers and Braille attachments to smart devices, people who are Braille-literate are easily able to read and write wherever they go.  Modern technology is therefore making Braille more accessible, rather than making it obsolete, and is a great tool in helping VIPs to become more independent.  As Helen Keller said, “We, the blind, are as indebted to Louis Braille as mankind is to Gutenberg.”

To find out more about Braille and National Braille Week, click here: https://www.royalblind.org/national-braille-week

For more information on how technology is helping to enhance the use of Braille, click here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/feb/14/technology-brings-braille-back-apple

If you’re interested in learning Braille and would like more information, you can call Abiola on 07983 552855 (classes run every Friday 11am to 12pm at Dagenham Library), or email redbridge@hearingloss.org.uk (Redbridge residents only, classes normally run on Tuesday mornings).

Written by Nicola Stokes

 

 

Bhavini’s Employment Journey

Can a blind or partially sighted person be employed? Can they have a desirable career?  Can they work in jobs they’re absolutely passionate about? The answer is yes to ALL!

As a severely sight impaired person, when I applied for the position of activities co-ordinator everything inside me lit up because I knew I was the right person for the role. The job combined both of my passions; supporting vision impaired people and organising events, activities and meetings to improve social inclusion for VI people. So when I received the phone call that I got the job, I literally cried. I was thrilled, proud and happy. Then it dawned on me- “Oh my god, I’ve got a job! How will I manage? I know I can do it, but how?”

I was told about a government scheme called Access to Work (ATW). The scheme assesses you in regards to the support you require to carry out your job. Once my support was in place I was able to settle into my new role. I was also eligible for a support worker for sighted assistance.

The ideal support worker should be able to empower you to carry out your role professionally. Instead of talking on your behalf, support workers should introduce you and take you to the person you need to speak to. Moreover, they must understand your role so they can relay information to you that may be essential for you to carry out your duties. In my case, when carrying out risk assessments for activities and outings, my support worker would highlight certain risk factors that I will ask them to look out for. And they would also inform me of possible hazards which I cannot physically see myself. Having the right support worker gives me the extra help I need to carry out my role to the best of my ability.

If you’re passionate about getting in to a specific career then don’t let your vision impairment hold you back. Support is out there to help you every step of the way. After being unemployed for 10 years, I thought I’d never work again, but the support from Martin Sigworth at Thomas Pocklington’s Employment Service helped me to prepare for my interview.

To conclude, here at East London Vision over half the team are registered blind or have a visual impairment, and most of us have a support worker. Unfortunately, I recently had to say goodbye to Shivani, who was an excellent support worker. However, on the positive side, I’m on the hunt for someone new to work alongside myself and ELVis CEO Masuma Ali. To find out more about this role, please email Bhavini@eastlondonvision.org.uk

 

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Photo of Bhavini (right) with her support worker Shivani (left).

Written by Bhavini Makwana

Christine’s Classic Carrot Cake Recipe

The weather has not been very nice of late; mainly windy and rain. The evenings are now drawing in, and what I like to do when I get home from work is snuggle up with a nice hot cup of tea and a delicious slice of cake.

One of my favourite slices is carrot cake, so I thought I would share with you the easy-to-follow recipe I use.

Carrot Cake

275g Self Raising Flour

300g Caster Sugar

2tsp Baking Powder

3tsp Ground Cinnamon

2tsp Ground Ginger

275g Carrots – grated

4 Eggs – beaten

1tsp Vanilla Extract

Icing

175g Cream Cheese

50g Butter

100g Icing Sugar

1tsp Vanilla Extract

150ml Sunflower Oil

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C, 160 C Fan or Gas Mark 4. Line 2 x 20 cm round cake tins with baking parchment.

2. Add in a bowl the flour, sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon, ground ginger. Then add the oil, grated carrots, vanilla and eggs. Mix well.

3. Pour into the prepared tins and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The cake should be golden brown and firm to the touch.

4. To make the icing beat together all the ingredients until smooth. Divide between the 2 cakes and spread evenly.

5. Finally sandwich the cakes together.

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Photo of a delicious slice of carrot cake.

HAPPY BAKING!

Written by Christine Edmead