Tag Archives: Accessibility

Getting fit with a fitbit: Setup and initial thoughts

Ok, so the Fitbit arrived yesterday morning and I spent the afternoon getting everything set up and working; nothing ever goes to plan does it? In this post I detail my experience of setting up the charge, which could have been smoother but I blame my phone for that.

The box itself for the charge is a rather nice box and the charge is nicely presented inside the box.
In the box there is also a rather short charging cable, some warranty info and a USB adapter for syncing to your PC if you’re not using a smartphone.
I opened the Fitbit app on my phone, chose the first unlabelled button, and chose the charge. Then came the bit where I needed sited assistance. It was asking for my height and other info. I’m not sure about the gender or weight screens as I didn’t do those but the height screen doesn’t allow you to input your height using voiceover. After this though, you enter your full name, email and password, agree to their terms and then you’re ready to connect your charge. This is where I had a couple of problems. I plugged the charge in and held the button down for 3 seconds like it told me to and eventually when it connected I was presented with a keypad on my phone and I couldn’t tell what it was asking for. I know now that it was asking for the code that was being displayed on the charge itself but as soon as that was entered it was happy. It said that the process of setting up the Fitbit could take up to 10 minutes. The process bar was moving along nicely until it got to 98% and then it was stuck there. I let it for a bit and then tweeted Fitbit support asking them what I should do. They said I should restart the Fitbit by holding down the button for 10 to 12 seconds until the version number was displayed. After I’d restarted the app it brought up an error about not being able to complete set up but then it appeared to be set up fine. Cut out a couple of hours of frustration trying to get the thing to play nice with my phone, as it didn’t appear to be syncing properly as it still said the battery was empty even when it was fully charged. I need to email Fitbit about that actually as a side note, as textual information such as the battery indicator and version number ETC is not accessible with voiceover. Anyway I did a bit of research as my Fitbit said it had an update available but the app was failing to update it. I ended up connecting the wireless PC dongle to my mac and installing the application for mac, which showed that my Fitbit was up to date even though the app still said there was an update. I ended up having to reset my network settings on my phone to reset my Bluetooth connections, and after that it works fine with no problems; even the call notifications and silent alarms are working fine.
One of the main reasons I went for the charge was because I knew it had a button on the side which, if held down causes the Fitbit to vibrate and this starts a workout. Once you’ve finished your workout you hold the button down again and vibrates to let you know you’re done. You can then see how long you worked out for, calories burned and distance covered. I’ve yet to reach the goal of 10000 steps in a day, but its supposed to vibrate to let you know.
I also tried out the sleep tracking last night and although it’s a little bit confusing to read your stats with voiceover, if you spend a bit of time you can figure out what they mean.
I haven’t been using the device for a full 24 hours yet so these are my initial impressions but I think I’m going to really enjoy using it, and if Fitbit’s app team are as responsive as their twitter crew, we’ll get along just fine.

Please stay tuned to my blog as I will keep you updated on my progress with the device after using it in my normal day-to-day life.
Thanks for reading, and see you in the next one.

Getting fit with a fitbit: introduction

Ok, I’m going to level with you now. I’m not the fittest person you’ll ever meat. I could do with losing a bit of weight. These past few weeks I’ve been going to the gym and going to spin classes but I had a problem. Especially at the gym, I couldn’t see what the machines were telling me. It was all well and good going but I had no way to keep track of how many calories I had burned, ETC. I needed some way of finding this out. Enter, fitbit. Fitbit’s line of products are designed to help you lead a healthier lifestyle. You can get a range of products, ranging from trackers you clip on to your shirt, to a fully functional smart watch. You can even get a WiFI enabled scale that tracks your weight. I had seen a growing trend in sited people having these and I thought they were a brilliant idea. I decided other than going for an apple watch which was a little out of my price range, I should try one of these out.
In this series of posts, I’m going to be documenting my experience. The fitbit I have decided to go for is the fitbit charge. It is a wristband that tracks calories burned, steps, floors climbed and even helps tracks your sleep. You can see all of its data on its smartphone app or sync it back to your PC. I will be using an iPhone to track my progress.
I’ll be covering everything from taking the device out of its box, setting it up, setting an account up, using it, and how I’m getting along with it.
It is due to arrive some time this week; hopefully it arrives before I go back down the country on Sunday.
I hope you enjoy this series and I think I’m going to enjoy writing it as its something I’ve never done before. Not only am I challenging myself to get fit, I’m also challenging myself to keep this series up because when I looked for information on this topic I didn’t find much.
Thanks, and see you soon!

The state of accessible television in the UK

Introduction

Hi everyone,
There’s something that’s been bugging me recently, and that is that blind people haven’t really got it that easy when it comes to television in the UK, accessibility wise, that is.
This includes seeing what is on now, or flicking through the TV guide to see what’s on later.
If you don’t pay for your TV through a service like Sky or Virgin Media, where you can’t control your box through the mobile apps provided, you’re kind of stuck. Unless you buy a TV in the Panasonic Viera range of TV’s that have in built speech, that makes the EPG and most of the TV’s features accessible.
The other alternative is to buy a Freeview box, which acts like a satellite or cable box, accept it uses your regular TV arial to deliver the FreeView service. Most TV’s come with Freeview built in, but you still can’t access the EPG guide and other features. You can change channels, if you know the numbers, and turn it up and down, and that’s about it unless someone sited has sat with you and gone through button presses and whatnot. The RNIB used to have a solution to this, which was called a Goodmans Smart Talk freeview box

As I am registered blind on my TV licence, I was offered the opportunity to buy one of these for £40 as the analog channels were being switched off. This was a few years ago now, and it’s still just about working.
Then, the RNIB had another product. This was the TVonics DTR-HD500 talking Freeview HD recorder. As the name suggests, it is a talking FreeView HD box that also has a 500 GB hard drive built-in so shows can be recorded.

(http://recombu.com/digital/news/talking-freeview-hd-recorder-tvonics-dtr-hd500_M10371.html)

i wasn’t really interested in this when it came on to the market, as my current Freeview box was doing just fine. I decided to google around for it a few months ago, as my smart talk had started to become slow at changing channels, and was just generally showing its age by forgetting settings, ETC and I couldn’t really find much info on it. The RNIB know longer sold it in their online shop, however it was still mentioned on their accessing TV page. (No longer the case)

(http://www.rnib.org.uk/information-everyday-living-home-and-leisure-television-radio-and-film/television)

Can you get to the point please?

Fine. I emailed the RNIB, and asked them why they no longer sold it. At the time, it was still listed on the TV page, so I asked them why it was still listed. I also used the opportunity to have a little bit of a rant, and I’m going to have that rant again, but on my blog this time.

Said Rant

So if you’re still reading, odds on you’re interested in my rant. Well here goes.

This is the email I sent:
—-

“I would like to know why you no-longer sell the TVonics DTR HD500 Free-view HD Recorder: . It is a great shame because you are basically forcing people who want to have an accessible TV to go out and spend hundreds up on hundreds of pounds which they may not be able to afford on a Panasonic TV with talking features instead.
I was glancing around at new free view boxes since my smart talk is a few years old now and is starting to get slow (well it always was), and preferably wanted to stick with a talking one, and wanted one with a hard drive so I could record shows. I’d get sky plus, but I’m currently a student at the Royal National College in Hereford, so this is not at all feasible.
We have a Panasonic talking TV at home, and I think it is brilliant, but it cost us £800, and I’m quite happy with my little 19 inch TV that I currently have sitting on my desk.
We also have sky plus at home, and I can manage to control that fine with a combination of iPhone apps and the remote itself, but again, it’s not feasible; plus, I really can’t afford it.
Yes, I know, I could just watch things on catch up services like the iPlayer, etc, but 4OD is a joke for accessibility on the mac, as is ITV player.
It also really irritates me that audio described programs aren’t put in the iPlayer apps, which I have contacted the BBC about, and got a very closed response.
SkyGo is ok on android and iOS, as is netflics, but neither of these offer audio described content.
Please write back soon.
Thanks,
Kieran.”

I have also been told now that Virgin media’s television service is accessible with its iOS app, but that still doesn’t help my situation.

Did you get anything back?

As a matter of fact, I did.
I’ve cleaned up some of the formatting, but here it is:
“Dear Kiiran, (Notice the incorrect name)

Thank you so much for your E-Mail.
Appologies for the delay but we’ve been moving offices and are a bit
behind with responding.
It is not our choice believe us all of a sudden we found out that the
TVOnics is discontinued therefore we won’t be selling it anymore. It’s a
great shame, we know that and we ourselves really regret that we are not
selling it anymore. One of our comments has always been that it’s the
best thing after sliced bread. We are in communication with other
providers and hope to offer an alternative product in the future.

So not much comfort at the moment but atleast you know our position.

Best regards,

(RNIB employee; name removed, (call them XXX))”.

So not the response I was really hoping for, but it’s a response in any case.
The delay in question was approximately 11 days, so I’m not complaining about that, it didn’t really bother me, I just wanted to make my feelings known.
I will continue to enjoy sky Go and Netflics, and as much of catch up TV as I can, but as I am at home for the summer now, Sky has taken over as my main source for watching TV.
I will also point out here TV Catchup, but that doesn’t have as many channels as it used to.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I think a lot more could be done to make TV more accessible for visually impaired people in the UK, especially those on a budget who don’t have a high amount of income to have services like Sky, or Virgin Media.
I believe that visually impaired people have as much right to access as much television as they choose, as I believe quite a few of them would like to. However they still have this massive barrier in the way of finding out what is on now or later, unless they use the internet or a smart phone app, but I am yet to find a good TV listings app for FreeView channels that is accessible.

Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share them in the comment section below.