Assistive Technology

Dropbox has improved its accessibility features in its iOS app. It is now fully accessible with VoiceOver. The app was re-evaluated top down. Ease of use was assessed for everything from login to navigation. They also looked a feedback from the AppleVis community to make more improvements.

The new improvements include:

  • More clearly identified content in the welcome tutorial
  • More descriptive thumbnails on the Photos tab
  • Easily enable or disable your passcode lock
  • Passcode field and digits can be selected more easily
  • New button to close out “More Actions” using VoiceOver.

You can download Dropbox from the Apple Store. 

Guide Dogs UK, Future Cities Catapult and Microsoft have teamed up and developed a prototype wearable device that promises to help people with vision disabilities navigate a city.

The device is a headset that pairs with a Windows Phone and uses GPS, cloud based location and a network of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals placed along a route. The user will hear continuous clicking, which sounds like it’s coming from a meter or two ahead of them. The clicking will guide them along the correct route. In addition, the application provides information on shops, points of interest and additional details to help the user navigate.

Motion Savvy’s American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting software UNI works with a Leap Motion sensor integrated with a Dell Venue 8 Pro Tablet, allowing people with hearing impairments more freedom in their communications.

Motion Savvy recently earned $25,000 from Leap Motion’s LEAP AXLR8R program, Leap Motion’s investment competition. This allowed Motion Savvy to relocate from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf to the Bay Area.

Read more about UNI.

White Canes help people with vision disabilities navigate but they are not perfect. They can be cumbersome and miss obstacles that are elevated. Electronic Travel Aids (ETAs) have attempted to address some of these issues. Now, a research team at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has developed a new ETA call the “EyeCane,” which allows users to better estimate distance, navigate and avoid obstacles.

Currently the EyeCane is designed to supplement the use of a white cane and improve it’s over all capabilities.  In the future, however, it may replace the white cane entirely. The EyeCane currently expanse they capabilities of a white cane by:

  • Adding 5 meters of navigation information
  • Providing information from more angles
  • Eliminating the need for contact

The EyeCane provides information via both auditory and tactile cues. It can provide distance information from two directions. For more information read the ScienceDaily article on the EyeCane.

New App for People with Vision Disabilities

A new application called SimplEye is equipped with a Braille typing feature and designed to assist people with vision disabilities with all features of their smartphone. The app was launched last week on World Sight Day. The application was developed by Kriyate, a Delhi-based enterprise and was launched by Minister of State for Rural Development Upendra Kushwaha at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. The application is available for download at the Google play Store.

Talkitt gives people with speech disabilities their voice back. The app for android and iPhone differs from other speech recognition software in that it recognizes patterns. It listens to the speech of a person with a speech impediment and translates what they are saying through the use of pattern recognition and a calibrated personalized dictionary. 

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology created a Google Glass app that delivers real-time closed captioning through speech-to-text technology. Individuals with hearing impairments can wear the glasses while someone speaks into a smartphone. The speech is then converted to text by the Android transcription API and displayed in the glasses.

Google Glasses has its own microphone but the use of a separate phone picks up speech from someone not wearing the glasses and reduces back ground noise.  

Captioning is available for download at MyGlass. For more information and support go to the project website.

Read more about real-time closed captioning on Google Glass

by Mark Miller and Rosemary Musachio

In our June blog post iOS 8 Accessibility Features Delivers in the Details, we gave you a sneak peek at the Accessibility features of iOS8 like improved zoom, greyscale, and a Braille keyboard.  If you’re an iPhone and/or iPad owner prepare to do a little dance and giggle with device in hand, iOS8 has rolled and it’s rockin’ the accessibility features.

Here is the rundown on what you’ll find behind the iOS8 accessibility tab:

Cavena, a manufacturer of subtitling systems, has partnered with Acapela Group to provide voice for its text-to-speech audio description package. Audio description gives greater access to TV content for people who are blind or have vision disabilities by narrating the action during the natural pauses in the audio. The requirement for broadcasters to provide audio description is growing worldwide and across different media.

Users will be able to choose either the original speaker’s voice in a foreign language or the same content in their own language.

For more information visit the Acapela Group or Cavena websites.

IDEAL Currency Identifier (ICI) by Apps4Android is an Android app that identifies U.S. currency notes for people with vision disabilities. Today Apps4Android announced the release of the V2.0 update.

New Features:

  • Quicker identification of notes
  • Recognized the redesigned $100 bill

Legacy Features:

  • Identifies the following bills:
    • $1 (1963 – present)
    • $2 (1976 – present)
    • $5 (1993 – present)
    • $10, $20, $50 and $100 (1990 – present)

Read more about the IDEAL Currency Identifier.

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