Assistive Technology

Ravenshaw University in Cuttack, India has installed a screen reader, JAWS, for students with vision disabilities. JAWS, which has been installed on eight computers kept in the Kanika library, will read text on the computers. In addition, a scanner has been connected which will enable the screen reader to read books placed inside. Read more about the Ravenshaw University Screen Readers.

At the Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) at Matunga four students have created a portable device that will enable people with vision disabilities to navigate without help, offering unprecedented autonomy. The unveiling will occur on Wednesday at a school for people with vision disabilities and will be exhibited at the annual technological festival of the institute, Technovanza, in December.

Raj Samant explains, “The device consists of cameras mounted on spectacles that will send feeds of the terrain to the handheld computing device. It will convert the video files into stereo signals that will be sent to vibrators attached to the body of the blind person. The vibrations will warn users about obstacles in front of them, thus allowing them to navigate (walk) without colliding with the obstacle.”

Tom Wlodkowski, an executive at Comcast Corp who is blind, has come up with a talking TV channel guide. With the 2014 release of Comcast’s next-generation X2 platform in 2014, will come the talking channel guide, which will assist people who are blind in finding the shows they want to listen to. The guide was demonstrated this year at a California technology conference and at the cable-TV-industry trade show in Washington. Read more about the talking channel guide.

As someone who uses Assistive Technology (AT) to make it through her day, I’m telling you, you non-AT users can get pretty… weird. Something about interacting with an assistive technology (AT) user like me causes some normally very composed and astute people to lose a bit of their cool. I get it. I’m sure when I roll up in my wheelchair not in full control of my own body and chatting with my mom using my word board, I can catch the average bear off guard.

Professor Rhonda McEwen of the Institute of Communication, Culture and Information Technology at the University of Toronto Mississauga has found that mobile touch technology has the potential to considerably enhance how students with autism learn, communicate, engage with others and succeed at school. After studying thirty-six children with autism at a Toronto public school, Professor McEwen found that the use of off-the-shelf hand-held touch devices for learning led to statistically significant improvements in children’s communication skill, social skill, attention span and motivation. Read more about how mobile tech may enhance how students with autism learn.

The Therapeutic Research Foundation (TRF) and the National Science Foundation-sponsored Quality of Life Technology Center (QOLT) have collaborated to establish a comprehensive visual assist system for people who are blind and low vision.

In contrast to the rapidly changing smartphone, iPad and laptop computer market, current technology for people who are blind is still clumsy and archaic. The TRF proprietary project, however, will create a system for enhancing the ability of people who are low-vision and blind to navigate and interact with their surroundings. The system will work by constructing a virtual 3-D environment for an Immersive Navigational Informatics System that builds and communicates a description of the virtual environment for users and allows for further electronic interaction to occur via voice and speech-recognition software. Read more about the visual assist system for people with vision disabilities.

On August 23 the Knoxville Civic Coliseum will host the second annual Accessibility Symposium. The symposium will be an interactive state-of-the-art show focusing on mobility, aging in place, and smart design. It will run from 9 am to 4 pm and be open to the public with a target audience of people with disabilities, seniors, and people who know and work with these individuals as well as people who design, renovate or inspect buildings. More details on the Accessibility Symposium at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum.

Texthelp Inc., an award-winning literacy software solutions provider, has released Read&Write for Google. Read&Write for Google, which works within Google Drive in Chrome on PCs, Macs and Chromebooks, allows students with learning disabilities to access and interact with the same documents as their peers and teachers. To accomplish this, the software offers support tools for Google document, PDFs and ePubs which include:

  • Read aloud with dual color highlighting
  • Talking Dictionary, Picture Dictionary, Translator, and Fact Finder
  • Study Skills Highlighters and Collect Highlights
  • Vocabulary List Builder
  • Annotations (PDFs and ePubs)
  • Navigational tools (ePubs)

Read more about Read&Write for Google here or visit the Texthelp Inc website

Ghotit’s advance spelling and grammar checker and their intelligent word prediction, has been optimized for people with dyslexia and dysgraphia. For the past six years, Ghotit has been developing assistive technologies for writing and reading. They have listened to the input from their dyslexic user base and the professional community and added new advanced features for people with dyslexia in their latest release.

The features include:

  • Intelligent phonetic and context-sensitive spell checker.
  • Advanced grammar checker.
  • A powerful word prediction which is grammar and phonetic sensitive.
  • A built-in proofreader.
  • A reader that can read out any document or web page.
  • Integrated dictionary

For more information visit the Ghotit website

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