AIDB's Assistive Technology Services has provided technical support and training to consumers throughout the state of Alabama for over 25 years and is one of the foremost organizations of its kind in the United States. Assistive technology devices and applications not only improve the quality of life for individuals but also empower them to succeed in fields that were once unavailable or unattainable. Our role includes (but is not limited to):

  • Informing the populace of the availability and benefits of assistive devices
  • Helping persons determine what assistive devices best suit their individual needs
  • Training persons in the use of assistive devices
  • Providing on-site technical support to enable consumers to remain continually productive
  • Advocating for and supporting blind consumers in their vocational endeavors

If you need remote support call us at (256) 761-3422 or email ahead to schedule an appointment!

If you are having trouble reaching one of our services, please check out uptime status page - AT Servers

If you are working remotely on our courses, check out this post: Sites and Apps

Site news

Tips for meeting with Zoom and Google Meet

by Devin Prater -

Tips for using Zoom and Google Meet

This page will overview tips and tricks for using the Zoom and Google Meet video conferencing programs. We use these programs during class meetings, and other instructors may use them as well, so it is important that students be able to use these programs effectively.

This page will give tips on using Google Meet and Zoom, including keyboard commands. At the end of the article will be links to learn more.

General Tips

This section will give general tips for good meeting etiquette that will be helpful for anyone, and some helpful for screen reader users.

  • Wear headphones, if possible: Especially for screen reader users, any sound coming from system speakers may be picked up by your microphone, which can be distracting for other participants. The microphone built into your laptop also picks up keyboarding noise, fan ambiance, and any other noise your computer makes. It helps to have a pair of headphones with a good microphone so that people hear you, rather than your computer.
  • Mute your microphone when not speaking: If you are outside, around other people, or are not in a quiet environment, your microphone will pick up that background noise. Even if you are in a quiet place, others may not wish to hear you sneeze, cough, or move around. Therefore, it is best to mute your microphone when you are not speaking.
  • Know your keyboard commands: This document lists the most useful keyboard commands for Zoom and Google Meet, and gives links to resources on both. You should have these handy in meetings if you need them, so that you can easily and quickly perform the action you want, like muting your microphone, without having to search around the program for that feature.
  • Position your camera: For screen reader users, position your camera so that a sighted person can see you well in video meetings. For laptop users, your screen should be tilted slightly away from you, not straight.

Google Meet

Google Meet is the video conferencing service from Google. It allows many people to join a meeting, mute and unmute their microphone, turn on and off their camera, and see who’s talking. Generally, the Google Meet app is easier to use, and is less cluttered for screen reader users, but does not have keyboard commands. The website on a computer has keyboard commands, but is more cluttered, and may speak unnecessary messages about layout changes, and not speak some important information like who joins and leaves meetings.

Using the app

When you start the Google Meet app for the first time, you may be asked to sign into a Google account. If you’ve already signed into Gmail or another Google app, you’ll be able to simply select the account (double tap it for VoiceOver users) and continue. Allow Google Meet to access your microphone and camera, and send you notifications if it asks, and you should be at the main interface.

When you get to the main interface – you’ll know by seeing the menu button or “navigation” button – you’ll find your list of meetings for the day. Here, you can also turn off your microphone or camera before you enter a meeting. You can also create a new meeting, or join a meeting with a meeting code. If you want to schedule a meeting, you’ll have to do that through Google Calendar.

When you open a meeting, it will show the people already in the meeting, and allow you to turn on and off your microphone and camera. You can also join the meeting. You must join the meeting in order to enter it.

When you join the meeting, you can see the people in the meeting, and the person who is talking. You can turn on and off your microphone and camera here also. These buttons are toggles, so if you turn off your microphone, pressing the button again will turn it back on. When a person joins, you will hear an announcement that that person has joined the meeting. You will also hear an announcement when a person leaves. To leave a meeting, use the “leave” button.

Using the website

The Google Meet website is similar to the app. When you go to the Google Meet website, you’ll find the “start a meeting” button, and a text area to type a meeting code. Below that, you’ll find any scheduled meetings that you have for the day.

When you open a meeting, you’ll find the people who are inside, and are able to mute and unmute your microphone, or turn on or off your camera. If you are a screen reader user, you can use the following keyboard commands. If you are on a Mac, replace “Control” with “Command”.

Control + D
Mute or unmute the microphone.
Control + E
Turn on or off the camera.

To join a meeting, use the “join” button. It may be helpful to use your screen reader’s “find” command to find the “join” button. You will then be inside the meeting. You can still mute and unmute your microphone when inside the meeting. You may hear when some people have joined the meeting, but this has not been reliable on the computer. You can leave the meeting using the “leave” button.


Zoom is a video conferencing program that has a few more features, but can be more cluttered for screen reader users. Users can use many keyboard commands to do tasks. Zoom has a feature to raise your hand, which may be helpful in meetings.

Using the app

Zoom is a complex app, and we encourage you, as always, to explore, and don’t be afraid to try things. With the Zoom app, you can schedule, join, or start a meeting. The Zoom app is accessible with screen readers. Usually, invitations to Zoom meetings are sent through Email, so you can open a link and be taken to the meeting.

Once you’ve joined a meeting, you can mute and unmute your microphone, turn on and off your video, and raise and lower your hand. When you join a Zoom meeting, your microphone is muted. You will be told when participants join or leave the meeting. You can leave the meeting using the “leave” button.

Using Zoom on a computer

Using Zoom on a computer is similar to using it on a phone. You can open a link to a Zoom meeting invitation, and be entered into the meeting. You have the choice of using the Zoom computer program for the meeting, which is better for screen reader users, or just using it in the browser. The following are useful keyboard commands. They only work in the Zoom desktop app, not in the browser:

Move between Zoom popup windows
Control + Alt + Shift
Move to Zoom’s meeting controls
Alt + V
Turn on/off camera video
Alt + A
Turn on/off microphone audio
Alt + H
Hide or show meeting chat
Alt + y
Raise or lower hand
Control + 2
Read active speaker name

For Mac users, find the Mac keyboard commands in the “Zoom keyboard command” link at the end of this document. During the meeting, you can perform the hotkeys listed above. You will be told when participants join or leave the meeting. When you’re ready to leave the meeting, just close the program, or the website tab, of Zoom, confirm that you do want to leave the meeting, and you’ll be out of the meeting.


Google Meet


If you have any questions, problems, issues, or other technical needs, please reach out to us the Assistive Technology department.

Distant Learning Sites and Apps

by Joel Stephens -

As we do more work from home, there are a few websites and apps that will help us be more productive. Our primary method of communication will be through email, so please be sure and check your email at least twice a day.


  • Moodle - You are here. ;) We will assign most of our courses in Moodle.

  • Gmail - We use G Suite here, but whatever system you use for email will be fine.

  • Google Calendar - Calendar use is important in this class. You don't have to use Google, but you need to use a calendar.

  • Google Classroom - We use Google Classroom for some of our courses.

  • Google Meet - We hold some classes in Google Meet.

  • Zoom - While others use Zoom.

  • Matrix - Our chat room. There are several good clients, we recommend Element


These apps will also prove to be handy. If you do not yet have the skills to download and use apps on a smartphone, you will receive help to get started.



Office Hours

Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM until 3:30 PM. You can contact us anytime, but we may not respond outside of office hours.

Apple news

by Devin Prater -

This month, there have been several happenings at Apple. First, the Apple Event saw the release of the iPhone, and news that Apple’s TV Plus and Arcade services will be $4 per month for each service, even better than Disney Plus, which will be $7 per month. The iPhone 11 will have two cameras, spacial audio, and the newer, faster A13 CPU. The iPhone 11 Pro will have 3 cameras, and all other features of the 11. There is now a refresh of the iPad, as well. The Apple Watch series five was also released, with a display that is always on, which will be good for low vision people.

iOS 13 is released, but you may want to wait for 13.1, coming out on the 24Th of September, because there are some bugs that will be fixed. Also released alongside iOS13 is Apple Arcade, which contains 75+ video games that can be played on an iPhone, iPod Touch (7th generation), and on September 24th, an iPad and Apple TV, and later this fall, the Mac. These games, so far, cannot be played by totally blind Apple users, but people with low vision may enjoy them. They can be played either on the touchscreen, or by using a PS4, Xbox, or Made for iPhone game controller.

Also on September 19, the Fifth version of WatchOS was released. This brings the ability to play audio books on the watch, detect if sound around you is too loud, along with other features. For VoiceOver users, one can now change the speed of Taptic time, the feature that allows blind people to check the time without speech or sound.

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