Assistive Technology

A new tiny wearable device called the OrCam uses audio feedback to relay visual information to people with vision disabilities. The revolutionary computer will enable blind and low vision individuals to take on new tasks that would otherwise require assistance. Watch video of the OrCam.

In research conducted by the University of Kansas, preschoolers with autism will use an iPad voice output app with their classmates. This will help determine whether the technology can improve deficits in communication, social reciprocity and play skills typical for children on the autism spectrum. Read more about the app for autism.

A group of students with vision disabilities, participating in a summer enrichment program at the Carroll Center for the Blind, have been testing the Visus Visual Assist System by the Boston based Visus Technology. The Visus Visual Assist System is a wireless mobile system that takes advantage of the 4G LTE network and allows people who are blind and low vision to recognize faces, determine colors, and navigate their travel. It is expected to be ready for public use soon. Read more about students at Carroll Center for the Blind testing revolutionary technology.

Wireless CapTel by Sprint powered by Raketu is now available for all iOS powered devices. Wireless CapTel by Sprint gives real-time word-for-word captions of phone conversations. Now persons with hearing disabilities can read captions of conversations on the phone’s display when the call is connected to the CapTel service. Watch the YouTube Wireless CapTel video here.

I was interviewing the owner of a large web design firm on my radio show, Seacoast Business Connections and the topic of accessibility came up. As my guest was explaining to me that his firm makes a point of designing with accessibility in mind even if the client is not concerned with it, his twin boys, both of whom were born with cerebral palsy (CP), played in the lobby just on the other side of the studio’s large glass window.

Since I am a web accessibility analyst, I have the good fortune of being mobility impaired.  Of course, I only can say this regarding my work.  It is like being a veterinarian and not having pets.  Without the personal experience, you couldn’t empathize with the pets’ guardians.  You wouldn’t observe subtle, unique signs that a dog or cat is not feeling well.

Dr. Don Martin addresses questions often asked by students with disabilities who have been admitted to graduate school in the May 17, 2013 issue of US News and World Report.  “If you have a disability and are planning to start graduate school soon, you are most definitely not alone. According to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, students with disabilities were almost 11 percent of postsecondary students in 2008,” says Dr. Martin, Negotiate Graduate School as a Student with Disabilities.

The Disabilities Services Offices at most universities assist students with a declared disability.  They might help students to find accessible housing or secure class materials such as books, articles, and notes in accessible formats like eBooks and braille.  They also supply assistive technologies like readers and real-time captioning services. 

Interactive Accessibility has a long record of involvement in secondary and graduate school accessibility.  Kathy Wahlbin, President and CEO, has been a frequent speaker at conferences educating people on the importance of accessibility and has provided accessibility training for many universities.  She has been a featured speaker at the CSUN and Accessing Higher Ground conferences.  She also teaches a college course on Universal Design and Accessibility for the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“Universities have been the proving ground for many web-based technologies.  Online classes where students download lessons and upload homework, participate on discussion boards, and view live class lectures have pushed the envelope for Web Accessibility.  Interactive Accessibility has been honored to be a part of this frontier.” Says Kathy, “Our team is dedicated to making the World Wide Web accessible for all users. We love being a part of the challenge of integrating web formats like smart phones and tablets in an accessible way. Educating the newest class of developers in accessible methods is one of the best ways to ensure accessible web content in the future”

The American Federaction of the Blind recently posted a blog post on the accessible applications for Android devices.  With over 600,000 apps available to download from Google Play, there are a lot of possibilities but not all of them are accessible.  The applications listed have been tested on Android 4.2, which is the most accessible version of Android.

Included in the list of accessible applications for Android are:

  • Dropbox
  • Plume for Twitter
  • Hi-Q MP3 Voice Recorder
  • Google Goggles (object recognition software)
  • TripIt
  • Ideal Group Reader (ePub reader)

See the full list in the article, A Collection of Accessible Apps for Your Android Device.


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