Re: Lesser-Known But Useful iOS Apps: Topic for Next Phone Meeting of the Philadelphia Computer Users Group for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Allen West

Hello, David,

I was not able toattend the meeting this evening. Can you include me
in the list of people to receive the notes?

Thank you


On 11/29/18, David Goldfield <> wrote:

The following announcement is regarding the next phone meeting for the
Philadelphia Computer Users' Group for the Blind. I am posting it to this
list as
it may be of interest to some of you who use iOS. All are welcome to
participate, even if you're outside of the Philly area.


Many of us are very familiar with using VoiceOver on our IPhone, Ipad or
iPod Touch devices. As we become more confident with using these devices we
hear about useful apps which are not only popular with sighted people but
specialized apps which benefit visually impaired users, such as money
like Money Reader, apps for scanning text such as KNFB Reader and Seeing AI
and apps for reading books with Voice Dream Reader or BARD. However, there
are plenty of lesser known apps which some of you may find just as
interesting or useful. These apps may not be generating the latest
discussion on the
blindness lists but you may find them just as useful and interesting.

This will be the subject of our next phone meeting, scheduled for Friday,
November 30 at 8:00 PM. Our guest presenter will be Glenda Such, who has
working in the assistive technology field for over thirty years. In the
1990s she was a manager with AbiliTech's assistive technology department,
is how I came to know her and, eventually, worked for her for several years.
Glenda is a passionate iPhone user who has evaluated hundreds of apps and
is eager to share her knowledge with you, as well as answering your

As an example, she will tell you about an app which can turn your iPhone
into a distance magnifier, allowing a low vision user to point a camera at
object and to have that object enlarged for easier viewing. You may have
heard of apps to recognize your money but are you interested in an app which
recognize different types of plants or flowers, such as its name, where it
came from, its life cycle, and even a description about the appearance of
overall shape, bark, leaves, pedals and seeds. Are you interested in finding
out about an app that turns your iPhone into a fax machine? How about apps
which give time announcements, other than the typical Westminster chimes
that you might regularly encounter? How about an app which lets you know how
you're traveling? Are you interested in apps which can translate from one
language to another, including an app which will let you scan something in
language and have the text translated into another language? How about a
couple of apps for saving on items in stores as well as getting free
Glenda will tell you about them!!

To participate, the number to call is (712) 432-3900. When prompted for an
access code, enter

391 477

followed by the pound key.

What follows is a detailed autobiography, composed by Glenda, so that you
can learn more about her. The text is below.

I began in the field of Assistive Technology when it was not yet a field.
That was way back in 1986. I started out not wanting anything to do with
because I thought it was yet one more thing I could not see. Then I was
introduced to both Zoomtext and Vista and found not only could I see the
on the screen, I could see all my typos which I could never see when I used
a typewriter.

I was hired to be the Human Subject Recruitment Coordinator at the
Pennsylvania College of Optometry which is now Salus University. In my
position of having
to find subjects, otherwise known as human beings, to be a part of research
being done at the college, I had to access a massive database of all the
seen at the Eye Institute which is part of the college. I had to basically
learn how to use two different database programs at once on my own. In
I had to learn how to use the computer itself and then good old word

Right at that time I had broken my foot and could not walk the mile I needed
to walk to get a train from Bristol, PA to the Fern Rock Section of Philly
which is where the college was back then. My supervisor had a great idea, he
arranged for my entire computer station to be brought to where I lived so
I could do nothing but figure out how to work the thing from my home, alone,
but uninterrupted.

I found out during that process I had a knack for technology and figuring
out how it works by trial and error. I can’t tell you how many times I had
reboot and start all over again.

But, I was determined and learned to use DOS, Word Perfect, the database
programs and all while using my assistive technology program of choice,
but with no speech back then.

I was so pleased with how empowering it was to have access to the features
of a computer and a software program like Word Perfect. But, that was not
drew me into the field of Assistive Technology, it was me wanting to show
everyone who had vision like mine how they could see what they typed by
Zoomtext or Vista.

I started to show some of the patients at the William Feinbloom Vision
Rehabilitation Center at the Eye Institute, how they could also see print
when it
was enlarged and enhanced by the assistive technology programs. The next
thing I knew, I was now part of the Feinbloom services showing the access
to more than half the patients that were seen.

Also, while there, I was asked to start a new program called Senior net. It
was a national program for seniors to teach other seniors how to use
Because the Senior Net we wanted to start at the PA College would be for
seniors with visual impairments or blindness, it was a given they would need
who would be able to teach the assistive technology used by Senior Net
members nationally. To do that, I had to learn to use screen readers for not
the DOS computers, but for the Mac computers because Senior Net was
basically a Mac based operation.

I learned the assistive technology for both platforms and the most humorous
thing happened on the first day of Senior Net at the college. The Center
both DOS and Mac computers but on different sides of the room. The person
scheduling classes did not understand the difference in the platforms and
the entire room with students for each computer DOS and Max alike.

When I came into the room and found students sitting at both sections, the
DOS and the Mac sections, I thought to myself, you have got to be kidding
They want me to not only teach two different platforms at once to beginning
seniors, but to teach them to use assistive technology at the same time to
people who had never touched a keyboard before in their life?

Well, I was determined to give it a try and to say it was a nut house would
be an understatement. I would say to one group, now you do this, and then
five feet to my side and tell the other group to do that.

They got so confused who I was saying what to, they began to get louder and
louder with their frustrations.

I have to tell you, if they thought they were frustrated they should have
been in my shoes.

Needless to say, that was the first and last day that class met as one full
unit. I had the person who did the scheduling form two separate classes,
for DOS users and one for those using the Macs. To say the difference after
that was like night and day, would be an understatement.

I taught Senior Net for around a year while I was now working on my Master’s
Degree in the Education of the Visually Impaired. I decided to get that
when I found there was no certification or degree for me to get to prove I
was qualified to do what I was doing with Assistive Technology.

I looked at different options and thought if I can get a degree in teaching
the visually impaired children and teenagers, then that should say enough
my qualifications to teach.

After completing the degree, I went to work at Handisoft which became
AbiliTech. They were a small company that had left their affiliation with
the University
of Pennsylvania to become an independent training facility.

I became the Assistant Manager of their Assistive Technology part of the
company who service the clients who were funded by BVS or the New Jersey
for the Blind. In that role I not only got to keep teaching people who had a
visual impairment or blindness, I got to work with people who had all kinds
of disabilities effecting their ability to use conventional computers.

Again, I had to teach myself the ropes and that was a trying period of my
career. I was learning new materials and how to master them only one moment
of me teaching what I just learned myself.

I do have pity on those first few clients I worked with back then, they
might have been served better had I seen them a few months later. I actually
back and looked at what I had recommended for those first few clients an ear
later and was relieved that what I recommended back then I would have still
recommended one year later.

While at Abilitech I had the opportunity to hire someone of my choice to
work for a contract we were awarded by the New Jersey Commission for the
I thought I would take a chance and when talking with Blazie Engineering’s
top tech support person, I asked him if he would like to come and work for
He thought about it and got back to me with a large “yes” and that is how I
came to supervise David Goldfield.

David and I worked together for a couple of years before I was approached by
Lighthouse International. They wanted me to take over their Assistive
Programs and the new Customer Service Program for which they just got
approved for funds from the Department of Labor in New York.

I accepted the position and became one of the Directors of Lighthouse
International. Soon after I started, I took over the Vocational Skills
and then the Academic Programs on top of the programs already under me.
While in that position, I was given countless Kudos and opportunities to
my wings. I was able to keep some direct teaching responsibilities by
working with the clients who were more of a challenge by their multiple
were politically or economically important to the Lighthouse.

I also was asked to be a part of the designing committee for a huge client
service recording and tracking database. The Lighthouse was working with
to develop a database that would be so holistic and yet intuitive in its
operation, it could be sold to agencies across the continent. As a matter of
it is the Client Management Database being used across Canada in their
services of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Doing that work was so interesting as I got to give input as a person with
low vision about how things should appear on each and every screen. I Was
to let them know how a print enhancing program would display the screens and
how to make them easier to navigate with the print so enlarged.

While this all was happening, I was one of the editing staff and was also
writing for the Lighthouse’s International publication for parents of
who are visually impaired or blind. I wrote about the issue of how many
teenagers with low vision are resistant to vision rehabilitation. I wrote
how some teenagers with low vision might refuse to use a white cane and ways
of getting them to change their mind.

As this was all going on and my days were filled to the brim, I was
nominated to the Food and Drug Administration’s ((FDA) ophthalmologic
Devices Panel
as the consumer representative. After several rounds of elimination of other
national candidates, I found myself as one of the five finalists. I was
over the phone and had to show my knowledge of eye pathologies, the
functions of the eye, past devices that had been used to help people see
better, and
then my knowledge of medical jargon. To my surprise, I knew more than I
thought. I won the consulting position and served on that panel for four
while still working at the Lighthouse. While on the FDA’s Panel, I had to
review the clinical trials of some very interesting proposed devices for
kinds of visual needs. None of them were for people who were classified with
low vision, they had minor visual problems that could be addressed by the
proposed devices.

I had to read their findings which were between 300 and 800 pages long. I
had them provided to me in electronic format of course. But I had to be
to reference the huge document while at the FDA meetings. During those
meetings hearings were held as well as presentations were made to our panel
by the
manufacturers of the devices under review by us as a part of the FDA.

In order to be able to listen to the presenters or people giving their
testimonies, and refer to the applicable sections of the clinical trial
I had to use my full arsenal of assistive technology. I had a portable CCTV,
a laptop with both print enhancing software being displayed on a larger
as well as a screen reader, and had a notetaker and a tape recorder on the
side just in case something broke down.

Because the meetings of the panels are videotaped and recorded for
transcription to be posted onto the Internet, I had to have the CCTV to my
side and
the laptop at an angle to allow them to see my face with the cameras. This
was nothing short of a riot to see let alone use while under the pressure
being an active participant. But, I did and had the most intellectually
stimulating experience of my life.

After serving my term for four years, I went back to my basic
responsibilities at the Lighthouse. This was until I decided to develop the
first program
to teach people how to be Assistive Technology Specialists. I wrote the
Assistive Technology Instructor Preparation Program, which taught the
how to perform assessments, make recommendations, and to be able to teach
the most commonly used Assistive Technology for people who are visually
or blind. The program ran for nine months and each week students attended
classes for four of the five days. They were in class from 9 until 3 each
those days.

I was told I created my own Assistive Technology boot camp. But, the
graduates of that program told me years later how they were more than
prepared once
they finished the program.

I left the Lighthouse in 2008 after they had lost several
multi-million-dollar contracts to an agency that underbid them to win the
contract. After a year
of no funding to support my position, I was let go and that was the end of
my official career.

I moved back to live with my sister in Pennsylvania to help each other out.
It was during that time I purchased my first iPhone.

I was amazed at my lack of interest in mastering the new device. I actually
struggled to do the simplest tasks on the device.

Then one day I became interested in sitting outside and listening to music
by an old favorite of mine from years ago. It was Doris Day who got me
in learning to use my iPhone beyond its phone functions.

I had been taking a class at the Bucks County Association for the Blind and
the instructor kept saying how one day it will all click. She was right, it
was overnight that I went from being almost stupid on the device to being my
old energetic self-teacher.

I learned about You Tube and found my Doris Day on my iPhone and listened to
her singing while out on my front deck. I then wanted to share her music
others and had to learn to do that and all the apps to allow that to

At that point my light bulb not only lit up, it turned into a massive flood
light. I became a true lover of finding and evaluating apps for my needs as
well as my friends. I could not go one day without exploring at least two or
three new ones a day.

At present, I have only just under 300 apps on my phone. Many are redundant
as I am still exploring their effectiveness verses their competitors.

That is who I am now, a tech person using the iPhone to do almost every task
I have to do in life.

I am obsessed in finding apps for people I know and those students I assist
in teaching at the same Center where I first struggled to learn the iPhone.

I would like to let you know that during this last part of my learning and
using the iPhone, I became totally blind. I have a rare form of a disease
normally does not cause total loss of sight. Because mine is so rare, I lost
all of my sight around 15 months ago, in August 2017. I mention this
this last change in my vision has given me the perspectives of not only
someone who has low vision but as someone who has nothing but light
at best.

I hope what I bring to you during my presentation will be of good use or at
least peak your interests. I made this introduction to who I am this long
comprehensive for a specific reason. I would like you to know the path I
took to get to this point with assistive technology, and also the wide
of experience I bring with me as I speak with your group.

Glenda V. Such, M. Ed.

David Goldfield, Assistive Technology Specialist

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