May Update, What’s the Matter?

This is just a quick update to detail our progress on some of our ongoing projects.

Some eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that Audio description tracks have begun appearing in search results on this site. This is because we have enabled the integration of the DX Catalog into general search results.

so, what’s new since last month?

  • We’ve got the Audio Descriptions and AccessibilityHound Store backends in place.
  • Due to issues pertaining to the Apple Watch launch, the apps and respective front-ends for Audio Descriptions and the AccessibilityHound Store have been delayed.
  • We’ve progressed heavily on the DX API, a feature of the Audio Descriptions platform that will let third-parties integrate our descriptions into their products and services.
  • The back-end coding for the Canadian Blindness Services platform continues to go well.

We appreciate your patience while we smooth out the wrinkles in our back-ends and get the apps to our end users.

Solo-DX, The Accessibility Store and More, What is Coming in April?

Not an April Fools joke!

This is the first in a series of monthly posts where we will discuss upgrades to the product offerings at AccessibilityHound. The features discussed here will roll out to users over the weeks following the announcement and each will receive its own in depth post.

The updates for April include:

  • The release of the Solo-DX app (Named Audio Descriptions).
  • The addition of new Audio Description partners.
  • The opening of the Accessibility Store, a place to buy assistive tech and accessories.
  • We’re also coding a series of updates for the Canadian Blindness Services Network.

Stay tuned …

Apple World Today, Accessible Apple Gets a New Home

On February 03, The Unofficial Apple Webblog (TUAW) was shuttered by parent company AOL. By February 9, former TUAW staffers David Caolo, Steven Sande and Kelly Hodgkins had put their creative minds together and launched Apple World Today (AWT) to continue the tradition of reporting on Apple-related news TUAW was known for.

Around the time TUAW was being shut down, I reached out to Steven Sande to offer my condolences for TUAW’s demise. He informed me about his team’s intentions to launch AWT and I offered to cover Apple accessibility for the new site, an offer the AWT team excitedly accepted.

Since February 16, I have been operating the weekly accessibility-related column at AWT. This has not and will not affect my work on the Solo-DX, AirBraille or any other AccessibilityHound project. Rather, this is a continuation of the apple-related reviews previously published by AccessibilityHound and the VIPBC group before it.

For me, writing about Apple accessibility has always been about sharing knowledge about technology that is mainstream but yet designed and built to be used by all. The AWT team’s offer meets and exceeds this goal by providing an opportunity to showcase Apple’s universally designed technologies on a mainstream blog that very clearly cares about connecting all of its readers with well-written, relevant and informative Apple-related news.

I look forward to continuing to delight the faithful readers of my Apple-related accessibility articles at this column’s new AWT home, and once again thank David, Steve and Kelly for the opportunity to join such an exciting team.

Please note: This announcement only affects my coverage of Apple accessibility. All other topics, including audio description, open-source and others, will continue to be covered here at AccessibilityHound.

Alex Jurgensen,

Apple World Today Columnist and Chief Technology Officer at AccessibilityHound

Solo-DX North American Release Push Back, Why Was This Done?

Due to a setback caused by some image assets in our app’s App Store submission, we have pushed the North American roll out of Solo-DX to January 14th. This will not affect our South American roll out scheduled for January 15th, but will allow us to release the app and online store together in the North American markets.

We appreciate your understanding while we work hard to resolve this issue. We will also be crediting everyone’s accounts 7 credits, 1 for each day the release has been delayed. This translates to 7 free TV episodes for customers.

We hope to see you next week for our back to back role outs in the America’s.

The New Lineup, What’s All Coming?

We are very excited to announce that today, January 1, 2015, the groundwork for the Solo-DX store has been laid. The store will roll out to markets worldwide in the coming weeks, beginning with North America, which will see widespread availability on January 7.


In the meantime, we are please to welcome the following television shows to Solo-DX. The programs listed below will join our existing catalog and are just one part of our planned expansion. Series that will be available at launch are:


  • Back in the Game

  • Blind Justice

  • Don’t trust the “B” in Apt. 23

  • Extreme Makeover Home Edition

  • Happy Endings

  • Last Man Standing

  • Malcolm in the Middle

  • Mistresses

  • Modern Family

  • Nashville

  • Necessary Roughness

  • Rookie Blue

  • Shark Tank

  • Sing Your Face Off

  • Sons of Anarchy

  • Suburgatory

  • Super Fun Night

  • Surviving Jack

  • That 70’s Show

  • The Middle

  • The Neighbors

  • The Quest

  • Wayward Pines


These join:


  • Breaking Bad

  • Star Trek – The Next Generation

  • The Walking Dead

  • The Wire




A big thank you goes out to the team that worked so diligently during the holidays to bring all of this content to our customers.


Note: The above titles will initially be available in Solo-DX+ format for mobile devices. Solo-DX Standard (Manual Synchronization) tracks for the above will follow.


Enjoy

Audio Descriptions for iOS, What is it?

At around the same time we decided to sell tracks in our store and began unbundling TV shows, we decided that such a big change would require us to rethink how we delivered our content to customers. The current model of manually syncing content, utilizing cues in the movie’s audio, was based upon practices developed by the group behind Rifftrax. While this distribution model works well for stand-alone players, it doesn’t take advantage of the capabilities offered by increasingly popular technologies, such as mobile phones and tablets. To harness this expanding potential, we decided to explore app distribution and the “Audio Descriptions” app is the result.

The application, now nearing the final stages of development, will provide customers with the ability to purchase and play content from our vastly expanded Solo-DX catalog, without needing to transfer the files to a stand-alone audio player. As time goes on, we will release enhancements to the app that will allow even greater control over the audio description experience.

For customers who prefer to use a stand-alone player, we will continue to offer the traditional “Rifftrax” style audio description tracks. We feel that this way, we can continue to smooth the hurtles faced by consumers wishing to experience high-quality description, by adopting new delivery mechanisms, while maintaining legacy compatibility with older players.

Unbundling TV Shows, Why Did We Do It?

One of the changes coming with the introduction of the Solo-Dx store in January is the ability to purchase TV shows individually by episode. Up until now, we have sold TV shows by season or, in some cases, half a season. Starting January 1st, 2015, customers will be able to purchase TV shows in both the traditional complete season bundle or episode by episode.

The pricing for these new options will be much like iTunes’ pricing for albums verses individual songs. On iTunes, purchasing a song costs 1 fixed amount, but purchasing the entire album is cheaper. We will also be using a concept similar to iTunes’ album completion, where the amount paid for individual songs on an album is used as credit towards the purchase of the entire album.

These are just a few small ways we are looking to make audio description more accessible to all. By offering the purchase of individual episodes, customers can explore new series without needing to invest in the entire season.

Descriptive Movies, Where Did They Go?

Some observant users may have noticed that our Solo-DX tracks have been disappearing from iTunes and Amazon Music. After a long consultation with our team, we have decided to pull the existing content from the two music stores and instead sell them through our own online store. Selling the files direct to consumers allows us to offer a wider selection of film and television descriptions, while reducing overhead and increasing our ability to produce original content.

For those who have bought our content from either iTunes or Amazon Music in the past, we thank you and will continue to provide you with support if your files get lost or damaged. Because the files will no longer be made available from either iTunes or Amazon Music, Apple and Amazon respectively will not be able to restore past purchases if the content is lost. We will be providing past customers with the ability to redownload the content free of charge in the coming weeks.

The new store will open early in 2015, with a preview coming later this month.

We hope you will enjoy our new service model and look forward to continuing to provide the high-quality descriptive content Solo-DX is known for.

Happy Holidays,

Alex,

Chief Technology Officer,

A Little Holiday Teaser, What Could Be Coming?

Below, you can find a little hint to a project we’ve been working on since the acquisition of Solo-Dx, back in April.

If you are using an older browser that does not support HTML5 playback, simply Click here.

Happy listening!

Accessibility Hound, Harnessing Potential and Unleashing Creativity

Welcome to Accessibility Hound, a small start up with big dreams of changing the technology landscape into a place where universal design is second nature and everyone has equal access. The team at Accessibility Hound brings together years of business experience and a deep understanding of universal access principles to develop products that will simultaneously inspire and delight. We look forward to sharing our vision for a more inclusive tomorrow and hope you will check back regularly for updates.

 

Alex Jurgensen,

Chief Technology Officer,