Apple Keeps Us Moving Forward

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. You would cry, too.

After spending a year plus editing Larry Lewis’s book iOS Success: Making the iPad Accessible,multi color apple store it had a pregnant shelf life of exactly nine months. That’s because Apple pushed out a new baby shortly thereafter. And did I mention NBP edited, transcribed, proofed, pressed, and designed Larry’s book in seven different formats?

And now it’s happening again. After spending ten months with the remarkable Janet Ingber on her new book, Learn to Use the Mac with VoiceOver: A Step-by-Step Guide for Blind Users, an email arrived in my inbox: Will Janet be updating her Mac book this fall when Yosemite is released?

I didn’t reply. Instead, I went out and bought myself an oversized, anti-viral, ultra soft, aloe-soaked box of Kleenex and had myself a cry party. And then… sniff…

I got a tweet from that rascal Jonathan Mosen that he was already working on version 8 of his book, iOS 7 Without the Eye, which we transcribed last year. I stopped mid-sniffle and dashed off an email: Johnny, same deal as last time? You bet, came the reply. And then the incomparable Anna Dresner phoned: Will we want her to update Getting Started with the iPhone? Yes, please.

Not a word of complaint from Larry or Janet or Jonathan or new products Our indomitable authors (and consumers) are already moving on. It’s the way things are. Our authors, who are also consumers, have been “in the game” since 1984, when NBP published “A Beginner’s Guide to Personal Computers for the Blind and Visually Impaired.” I haven’t calculated how many technology books have shipped out since then, but I do know we’ve sold 11,844 iOS books alone.

James Baldwin said, “People can cry much easier than they can change.” It appears some do; others move on.

An iPad Book Giveaway: Because We Can All Use the Help!

iOS Success by Larry L. Lewis, Jr.

iOS Success by Larry L. Lewis, Jr.

A question I hear a lot is: “I finally bought an iPad for my visually impaired daughter! Now what?”

Parents of children who are visually impaired know that iPads are being used in schools or by their kids’ TVIs. But that doesn’t mean they know what to do with an iPad after it comes out of the box!

I was in this position, too. I am “Mom” to the sweetest and cutest little boy, Ivan. Ivan is eight years old and was born blind and multiply disabled. I had an iPad, and I knew it was supposed to be “good” for my son. Now what? I didn’t even know where to start!

That’s when I wished for a guide like iOS Success: Making the iPad Accessible. Larry Lewis’s new book is designed specifically for parents and teachers and takes you step-by-step through iPad basics. He shows you how to set up your iPad and get the most out of the accessibility features. As a blind iPad user himself, he absolutely knows what he’s talking about and (best of all) he writes in a clear and tech-free language that is easy to follow!

Ivan and mom playing with their iPad.

Ivan and mom playing with their iPad.

Larry’s book starts at the beginning (he actually writes about taking the iPad out of the box and what you can expect to find in the box) and works up to much more complicated features (like connecting the iPad to a refreshable braille device or using the iPad as a word processor). And because the book is so easy to follow, it’s pretty simple to skip ahead or jump back based on your own comfort with the iPad and what you need to know.

I would say this book is a must-read for any teacher or parent planning to work on an iPad with a child who is blind. To enter to win a free print copy of the book, visit the iOS Success Giveaway Page and enter your name in the drawing. The contest will run until July 20th at midnight.

Amber Bobnar runs the website, a support and information site for parents of children who are visually impaired.

Five Things I Didn’t Know About Writing a Book

When an editor at NBP approached me last year to write a book about iPad accessibility for parents and teachers, I jumped at the chance. After all, I have been doing iPad training for years. How hard would it be to put it into words? Little did I know how wrong my initial assessment would be, and what an incredible learning experience it would become, both professionally and for me personally.

1.   Stick to a Schedule

I run a small business where I basically operate under the principle of “The one who yells the loudest” gets my attention. It took my ordinarily mild-mannered editor at NBP to literally threaten me with David Ortiz’s bat to get me to stick to a publishing schedule. And I quote: If Chapter 1 is not submitted by noon on Friday, the ball game is over. The same went for the rest of the chapters. Once I got into the swing of things, I was able to build up the momentum it took to actually write a book.

 2.   Editing Hurts

My wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing editor made me commit, in writing, to “work with her through any number of edits until the book was right.” By doing so, I set in motion one of the most painful four months of my life. I had no clue that an author had to be involved in clarifying, restating, and regurgitating every section of the book over and over and over. All kidding aside, though, I see now that the final edited version is far superior to the “completed manuscript” I originally submitted—what I now refer to, affectionately, as my “very rough draft.”

3.   The Author Doesn’t Know Everything

This was yet another truth that was nearly impossible for me to grasp! During the editing process, my lion-tamer editor got the idea that she could ask other professionals for their opinions—I mean, she actually dared to question the author! But then a funny thing happened: I was tamed. I learned that by involving others and considering their opinions, I could take a more objective panoramic view of what we were trying to accomplish.

4.   Book Reviewers Have Opinions, Too

By the time the final copy went out to a team of reviewers, I thought the worst was over. Early reviews were very positive; I felt vindicated. But then minor suggestions cropped up, followed by major adjustments, including a series of “YIKES!,” with yet further revisions. It felt like a “shark feeding.” Gradually, though, I began to see that the reviewers re-shaped this book into something far more inclusive than I could have done alone.

5.   No Pain, No GainLarry Lewis, author of iOS Success, sitting at his desk with a copy of the book and an iPad

I can’t really describe the overwhelming sense of pride and completeness that came over me when I was informed the book was truly finished and off to the printer. Perhaps these feelings were accentuated by the realities of so many months of really hard work to get this book “right.” And one more thing I’m absolutely certain of: By the time you read this copy, it will no longer be a rough draft.