Hi Pete. Super late to this discussion, but I have a great friend who is a blind cyclist and we were just talking about training options for her tonight.
I submitted a support ticket and forwarded her this forum chat on blind cyclists and TR accessibility features. If there is something in beta testing, and you need testers, I can pass on her contact info.
She trains about 3-5 times a week and has the time to do a low volume plan. She does her indoor training on a Stages SC3 bike with a single sided crank-based power meter.
Hi Pete. Super late to this discussion, but I have a great friend who is a blind cyclist and we were just talking about training options for her tonight.
I’m part of a small charity (www.visionofadventure.org) who support VI folk to do outdoor activities in the UK. One of our VI’s is wanting to know of any cycling apps that are useful to aid her in her ability to stay fit. I’ve come across your forum post and am interested to know how TrainerRoad has progressed since your last post. Hope you can help.
There has been little tangible change at the time of writing. Discussions have taken place via this forum about testing out the new version of the app that is due out for android and iOS but so far I have not been invited to participate in any such testing. The existing app is reasonably user-friendly using voice-over technology although some of the screens are structured modally in such a way that buttons that are visible and accessible to those who use the app In standard mode are on accessible to those who are using voice-over mode.
Slightly worryingly, talk of testing the new version of the app has not happened prior to the main testing. I cannot deny being a little concerned that the accessibility functionality will be bolted on after the fact rather than be something that forms the basis of the development of the app. However, I am confident in the Trainer Road teams intentions as far as this aspect of the app are concerned and I remain hopeful that all will be well!
Hi there Martin,
thanks for the very prompt reply!
Yes, the accessibility function is always an afterthought on every application isn’t it? But looking at your responses from the CEO their intentions do seem good. Let’s hope they deliver!
Have you tried any of the other apps that are out there? Zwift, Rouvy, Sufferfest, etc. From my understanding none of them have any real accessible features and that to use them you always will have to have a pilot who can describe what is going on. So they are just like going cycling outside in that respect. Which kind of defeats the purpose for most VI’s, when they are hoping to do something by themselves without the need of assistance. None of them seem to readily allow a VI to cycle alongside/compete against another VI without creating a race. Have you found anything that would allow them to do so? The best I’ve come across is the Rouvy App which allows you to save your ride and once saved you or others can race against this saved ride.
Also, one of our VI’s is looking to buy a turbo trainer or static bike. Do you have any recommendations from a VI’s perspective? And finding one that is available to buy at the moment in lockdown is another issue!
I don’t know whether you know about our organisation or not - probably the best thing is to look at our website www.visionofadventure.org or facebook site https://www.facebook.com/visionofadventure - basically we help VI’s do outdoor activities. Or we would do, if lockdown wasn’t preventing us! The only thing we are really doing at the moment is running some online zoom sessions to get and stay fit. We are running a cycling session this evening (Tuesday 16th, feb at 7pm). If you want to know more or are interested in coming along, please email me at office@visionofadventure from your normal email address (rather than this forum id) - and I’ll send you the details.
Hi Dave, the only other app I have used is the what bike hub. This works perfectly well. It also has the benefit of being able to accommodate a manual ride. I’m sure that Trainer Road will let me know if such a feature is available on their software but it isn’t something I’ve found as of now. I bought a Wattbike Atom a little over a year ago, before lockdown! I find it very useful indeed. It’s set up is identical to that of my tandem and once set up I haven’t had to move anything at all. One slight problem, the electro magnetic resistance on my model is a bit too slow for micro bursts and short intervals. I believe the new model has eliminated this short coming.
I simply upload the ride onto my smart phone which connects to the Wattbike via Bluetooth and off we go.
Thank you for the info on your group. If ever I am on the lookout I will be in touch.
yes I have heard good reviews of the Watt Bike. Expensive, but good! It’s nice to know that you are very happy with it.
Thanks for all your input and hope to hear more from you one day,
Feeling very let down…
This message has taken some preparation. I’ve just got off the bike after a terrifically frustrating hour of exercise. I have to say I’m pretty p*****d-off.
Some weeks ago now, the IOS app was updated. I logged on with some excitement, Nate and Pete had reached out as above and I was optimistic that the accessibility glitches in the old app would have been addressed as part of the build of the new version. This despite Pete not following through on his offer to liaise with me as it was developed.
The experience of using the new app is better in some regards but as shown to TR in emails dating immediately after the upgrade, the workout experience itself is significantly worse.
Oh well, I reached out to Nate and Pete linking them to the youtube videos I had recorded of the app in use and again, got a rapid reply from Nate, addressing some of the issues and suggesting that the most frustrating of these could be dealt with quickly. Pete did not respond.
I reached out to Pete directly and again, no response.
I’ve been a devoted follower of the podcast for years now and naturally gravitated to TR as my preferred app for exercise support but I can only say now that I feel the inclusive, supportive nature of the podcast content is simply not followed through in the product offering.
Its been a tough eighteen months for us all, not least Nate and Chad and I feel deeply sympathetic towards them but at the same time, developing a product that creates such barriers for those of us who are blind simply should not be allowed to happen in an organisation that suggests in its broadcast content that it is dedicated to inclusivity.
Today’s ride was typical. It takes around twenty swipes of the finger to get my phone to tell me what my power target is at any time. If I want to know then how long is left in the interval, its another ten or so swipes to the left to have that read out. Add to this nuisance, the fact that the app will randomly re-focus onto the top left hand object of the screen and therefore require me to start swiping right, all over again and you have a real barrier to using the app constructively. Repeatedly today, I swiped right to find out how long I’d been working out, only to have the phone read out “zero hours and…” then jump back to the top left object before actually telling me how many minutes. Still, it’s only another twenty-odd swipes whilst working at threshold to get back to where I was and find out what I needed to know…unless again the focus shifted back. And so it goes on. We are all aware how important motivation is in completing difficult workouts and this performance would kill it for anyone.
Guys, I offered to help in the development of the accessibility of the product for IOS. You in turn offered to involve me. Pete has repeatedly failed to follow through on such offers and has ignored emails from his CEO and then me.
What’s happening? If you are happy to exclude blind users from the Trainer Road community, do let me know and I’ll quit the app and search for something elsewhere that doesn’t give me such grief when I use it.
Ok, so its now Feb 2023, just joined his forum, searching for help / like minded ohter enthusiastic blind cyclists using TR. Just got my Atom last week, and the Watt Bike Hubb app is so hopeless, but TR could save the day!! Just worried about the fundamental failings still in accessibility, such as the date of birth year/month/day selectors in Chrome/FireFox and the IOS app are all still impossible or very difficult to use for Jaws or VoiceOver users. The Rename Plan option in the ‘Getting Started’ sequence is also impossible in the IOS app to use for VoiceOvers. The edit box is simply not read out / usable. IS anyone at TR still able to help with these fundamental basic accessibility issues? Early days, so worried about what else I’m going to find …
I know that it is a cliche but approaching accessibility issues on apps is a bit like peeling an onion. When you peel one layer away, the next layer tends to make you cry.
In all honesty, the app is now genuinely fantastic compared to the majority of its competitors and compared to how it’s performed just a couple of years ago.
I have to admit that there are the odd occasions when I have to ask my wife to give me a hand entering certain elements of data, but in terms of the day-to-day use of the product I find it tremendous. I have been able to set up my own custom training plans I can navigate the calendar easily. I can navigate the train now functionality. I can also navigate the functionality when selecting a workout and the workout experience is really pretty damn good.
I’m sure that Nate will see this post, and I’m also sure that any areas of continuing weakness will be addressed. I hope that you will persevere with the product as it is good and I promise you it is very, very much better than its peers, as far as accessibility is concerned. A tremendous amount of work was undertaken by TrainerRoad to get it into the condition that it now is.
I hope my reply is of assistance.
Hi Martin, thanks for your positive update and encouragement to persist. You’re ahead of me on the virtual / smart training curve, so it’d be good to talk more!
I couldn’t edit the ‘plan name’ field for creating a custom plan using VoiceOver, and the other steps to build a complete plan just seemed too cumbersome / painful.
That is where it is asking for a type of discipline, date, event type, title, ranking of that event/activity towards other goals.
The date selector, discipline selector, name/event title editing etc all seemed barely accessible with VoiceOver.
This is a simple form, where all banking apps for example have now nailed prompting for information, selection boxes etc, so why can’t TR just use standardised API / library calls to render a forms template like this?
Perhaps you’re using the desktop to create your plan, and the app to do your activities?
I’m also a keen tandemcyclist / podcast listener, with sportives on the calendar and super keen to now venture the world of virtual cycling.
Great to open a dialogue!
Bri1729 at the gmail.com email addr
If you have a listen to the old episodes of the podcast, you may have come across a contributor called Pete. He is a very good friend of Nate but left the organisation awhile ago. Pete took responsibility for the accessibility improvements on the app and it was under his stewardship that the major revolution took place. Minor improvements continue to occur, although I do not think accessibility as a project in and of itself is central to what TrainerRoad are currently working on.
I have emailed a contact that was given to me whose name is Ming and I have asked him to take a look at the thread and he may very well get in touch with you. If he replies to me, I will be sure to let you know.
I do appreciate what you say about filling in some of the forms, it isn’t as easy as it could be and I do find that navigating the date picker is particularly difficult and this is one of the areas where I have to ask for help from a sighted person. However, once the plan is set up I can roll forward for 26 weeks or so without having to worry about going into that area of the app again.
You are right other apps do use gold standard methods of enabling blind users to fill in this kind of form although I have to be honest it is sometime since I have looked at Wattbike or Swift or TrainingPeaks and so on - they were much much worse and the workout experience was also much poorer.
Hope you manage to get the plan set up and have a go. Are you using a one month free trial?
Thanks for that and it’d be great to hear from Ming.
Just working out how it all hangs together, so the plan forms the template on how it offers up suggested training workouts I think.
And separately, you can just pick any random workout from the large extensive library of workouts.
I just completed a full 1hour workout as suggested, and it was reading out the current and next interval headlines perfect.
When I switched to another app to change some music and return to TR, the auto-announcements stopped and I couldn’t work out how to place focus to resume the auto-announcements.
The beeping continued, but without the text being read by VoiceOver.
I could scan around to get VoiceOver to read the text describing the previous, current and subsequent interval headlines, which was fine.
I then located the ‘increase intensity’ button, and so I knocked up the intensity from 100% to 125% which is a great feature since the offered workout was a little too easy.
However, I couldn’t work out how then to return to the descriptive interval text.
I was stuck on the screen with increment / decrement intensity, or options to go to the overall workout description, but no where to select the current interval activity details.
Hope this makes sense.
Anyway, I just kept pedalling, wishing I’d noted the specific ride finish time, and hoping the beeps were different to indicate the final end of a workout.
In fact, I rode 5 minutes beyond the end time, so I don’t think the finish line beep is different.
VoiceOver didn’t notice the screen change, asking me to say if the ride was easy, medium or hard either.
I also found that once I’d got to the ride summary screen, which you can edit and favourite, I learned the Ride Title Name isn’t editable with VoiceOver, and I was able to provide some ‘Description Text’ which is an optional field, but it was the same as the ‘Plan Name’ field in that I can type / add letters but not edit or read back what I’m typing.
So, I suppose if I select a ride, don’t switch screens, don’t amend the intensity and don’t want to give my ride a memorable reference / title afterwards, then I can be sure to have a great workout!
I’m not sure yet how much of the calendar I’d ever reference / look back at anyway … but it would in time to be really nice to identify a phase of workouts that lead to some good improvement/performances etc.
I’ve got a couple of Sportive events coming up and so keen to ramp up on my training. Yes, doing the 1 month trial.
I’m surprised Pete couldn’t fix the text field editing issues or date selectors.
I would have thought having the text auto-announced would have been technically much more challenging to sort out
Oh yes, sorry not sure which podcast you were referencing. I’ve never searched for a TrainerRoad podcast if that is what you were meaning.
Is it worth a listen?
Do appreciate any other ‘new user’ tips you can offer me to ‘ramping up’ my training and how to get the most out of TR!
First off, I want to say welcome to TrainerRoad! Thanks for choosing to train with us. And I’m glad that you did because I really believe that our platform is best-in-class for blind/visually impaired athletes.
It seems like your initial experience didn’t go as smoothly as it should have. For that, I apologize. That said, I appreciate that you’re using the forum to provide feedback. Especially for accessibility-related problems and suggestions!
Regarding the ride title name not being editable, this is actually true for all completed indoor TrainerRoad workouts. VoiceOver or not! However, I now understand that the experience is confusing with a screen reader.
And for the announcement of instructional workout text (or lack thereof), I want to note that not every TrainerRoad workout has instructions. After selecting the workout from your Calendar, the workout details slide onto the screen. Navigating through these details, there will be a section that says whether the workout has instructions or not. This isn’t to say there isn’t an issue; just to make sure we’re covering all the bases!
The rest of your message has some really great suggestions and points out areas we can improve. If you don’t mind, I’d like to reach out to you privately about your initial experience with TrainerRoad.
Again, thanks for bringing all of this up! Hope to speak with you soon.
Thanks so much Ming!
Yes, great to open a longer exchange with you off line. Bri1729 at gmial dot com
The optional text for the Description during ‘edit workout’ is the part that is not VoiceOver friendly. I can access the keyboard, type, but not edit/amend or get VoiceOver to read back what I’ve entered.
The same edit box behaviour is repeated in the Plan builder dialogue form, so I can’t nicely make a Plan Name for example, or populate an Event Title.
I appreciate verbose instructions are not included everywhere, but when they are included, if I switch apps during a workout, moving away from TR to check w whatsapp message for example, then when I return to TR, the auto-announcing of those interval start messages disappears. I can use VoiceOver gestures to navigate to find the instructions in that situation, but I’ve also found I can’t return to that view if I ever adjust the ‘intensity’ by selecting Adjust Intensity, and increment it. I’m then stuck on that view with no instructions or way to return to the instructions.
I love the feature where the 4 interval beeps are made up of 3 high notes, 1 low note, or 3 low notes and 1 high pitched note, depending on whether the interval is shifting from a higer to lower watt demand or lower to higher watt demand respectively.
So, when the instruction disappears, at least the audio notes give me a clue on whether its going to get harder or easier Most might not have noticed that subtle audio feature in TR.
It’d be great to have a single long note or something just different to mark the complete end of the workout though, the definitive finish line too!
Still new to TR though, and not really up to speed on what TSS, I F and some other notations correlate to. It is significantly already massively better than what I’ve found compared with the WattBikeHub and Peloton for example though.
First of all, the podcast. You will soon get used to the introduction from Jonathan “welcome to the ask a cycling coach podcast presented by TrainerRoad “ you can get it on iTunes or Spotify.
It’s a fascinating listen and although the features of the app have developed over time it’s an enjoyable listen right from the start there are hundreds of episodes.
I’m 56 and if I’m honest I prefer the content presented by the old gang to the newer gang, but I think that that’s me getting older rather than the podcast getting any poorer!
Reading between the lines of your posts, so far, it’s probably worthwhile giving you a very brief overview of the overall objective of the product. Forgive me if I am teaching my grandmother to suck eggs here! The fundamental purpose of the software is to act as your cycling coach. I guess that in a dreamworld, you would use your indoor trainer, and TrainerRoad and you would venture outside only for your B and A events.
With complete consistency, the software and the adaptive training technology should make sure that you are never overloaded, but you are perfectly stretched and you are presented at your events in absolutely peak condition. Given this, there is little flexibility other than inconsistency if you follow the plan directly or at least that used to be the case.
A brilliant feature that was added reasonably recently is Workout Alternatives. If you don’t have time to complete the planned work out, or if you would like to do a longer workout or indeed, if you would like to change the intensity or just don’t fancy the workout that’s been prescribed you can click on the alternates button and you will be presented with a series of alternatives, you can select the duration and intensity.
With the combination of AIFTP detection and adaptive training, you should find that the increasing difficulty of your training program is matched exactly to your capability.
If you do a workout that the system considers to be a stretch and find easy, you’ll find that it increases the intensity of your subsequent workouts, alternatively, if you struggle with a workout, it will then Ease the difficulty of subsequent workouts to make sure that you are not overloaded. This is done via the ‘end of workout questionnaire.’
One feature, which I do not use, as I cannot interest my pilot in using it, is that you can push workouts onto a Garmin headset so that you can do workouts outside rather than inside.
If you don’t want the structure and all you want to do is get on your Wattbike, whenever the feeling takes you, or whenever you are unable to get out on your tandem, another feature that you will find via the main menu is a feature called ‘workout now’. Using this it will give you a workout that’s appropriate to the training that you’ve done on TrainerRoad and you can select whether to do an endurance ride, a climbing ride or a more challenging attacking ride. The difficulty and duration are available from pickers.
I quite agree that as far as plan builder is concerned and as far as naming and editing certain things, are concerned, the app leaves something to be desired and this is the area where I asked for help from a sighted person.
As for the issue of the interval descriptions disappearing when you switch from app to app. This is something I do regularly and I’m afraid that I have never experienced this problem.
During my workout today, I specifically went in and out of Spotify and took a look at Strava and one or two other things, and every time I went back into TrainerRoad, the intervals were announced as normal.
With regards to the intensity overlay. If I swipe to the object that says intensity, 100%, there is a pause, and then it says tap to open intensity, overlay. Swiping left, then gives me increase intensity, another swipe to the left, gives me current intensity and then final swipe to the left gives me decrease intensity. Swiping all the way right again, takes me back through these and then onto the object that says intensity 100%. There is then a pause and then it says tap to close intensity overlay.
If this is not working for you then I’m not entirely sure why this should be the case, but I tried it out during today’s workout and it seemed to work fine.
One thing that I would like to feedback to Ming which is a problem, I highlighted some time ago, is that when I am presented with a ramp test, I am unable to access the button that then substitutes AIFTP detection. This means on days where a ramp test is scheduled, I have to ask my wife to tap that button for me with VoiceOver turned off, but once I’ve done that it gives me a reading of my new FTP.
One final thing, Brian , if you found the workout that you did was too easy, then you have probably underestimated your FTP. However, assuming that you have adaptive training and AIFTP selected in your settings when you’ve done a number of rides, it will register the intensity that you chose to use, and it will then also use your post – ride questionnaire to determine how easy or hard you found that ride. It will then give you an FTP prediction which is pretty damned accurate! I understand that there are a couple of hundred million rides on the TrainerRoad database and it uses machine learning and AI to match your experiences with those of other users in the database to give you the ultimate training program.
It sounds as though I ought to have a job working for their marketing department! With the glitches set aside that we both know about, I really do think it’s a bloody good product.
Can I just ask, are you the Brian that I might have met at J.D.Tandem’s in Gargrave?
All the best,
Hey Martin, that is all great and appreciate your time in answering / describing the interface / steps.
Yes, that is me from JD, what a coincidence!
I’ll ‘pause’ longer and listen for a ‘close’ item on that intensity panel as you’ve described.
I wonder if there is a VoiceOver setting to make the auto-announcing of the TR instructions more reliable?
I’m on an iPhone SE20, latest IOS and wonder if it is related to my phone being ancient history now, … 2020 model
I’d love a definitive beep sequence to mark the end of the work out too, especially since I’ve been losing the text announcements, but the beeping continues so I was pedaling a full 5 / 10 minutes beyond the end of a work out yesterday, not knowing it had finished
I’ll try to check out my adaptive / AI settings.
If I can anyway as I’ve also noticed the tick boxes are not really read well by VoiceOver to say ticked or unticked in TR.
More later …
Quick update, but loving the TR app, auto-announcing reminaing interval time, my current / target power etc, and Just completing 10 workouts, its re-calculated my FTP although still a bit low. I think I have to wait 28 days before it can re-calc again.
Yes, you’re absolutely right the pause on focus on the intensity value then announces it’s a ‘close overlay’ so I can return to the prev/current/subsequent interval descriptions, thanks for that!!
Love the pause to play feature, deliberate pitch tone change features in the interval beeps and the offered ride selections.
I’ve tried on a second iPhone now, re-producing the same fault where if I switch from TR to music, start playing music and return to TR, then the auto-announcing of the new interval task isn’t spoken.
I can put focus back on IntervalTime or any of those metrics, and every 4seconds it reads out the new value fine, with the music playing in the background.
Perhaps I just need to know where to put focus so the full text description of the next interval instruction is read out again.
So, it seems the fault doesn’t come in by just looking at other apps, reading mail etc, but you have to start a media playback and then going back to TR is when the auto-instruction reading doesn’t resume.
Anyway, as you say, it is overall brilliant, and shames the inept level of accessibility in RGT and Zwift where you can’t even get past the opening ‘login’ page since even that isn’t accessible for those apps.
Hi again Martin
Can we message off-line? Great to pick up any other ‘learnings’ from your TR experience as a blind user like myself.
Just best way to mix / match TR use with other training etc.
Not been to JD is a long time, using a local mechanic for extreme Orbit maintenance etc.
Hope you’re well.
More than happy to chat via DM. Not very familiar with the forum so suggest that you ping something to me and I presume it will pop up in my emails and I can reply to that directly.
I haven’t been to JD for quite some time either, my pilot has moved away, so I’m not on the tandem as often, and therefore I’m on TrainerRoad a whole lot more!