Assistive Technology

Blappy is a blue tooth Android app that enables people with visual and auditory disabilities to effectively communicate. The app translates voice to text and text to voice and allows for high contrast images that can be viewed via the zoom feature. Because Blappy uses Bluetooth, it is intended for people who are 30 meters apart or less.

Blappy is currently available in four languages:

  • Spanish
  • French
  • English
  • and Portuguese

Conversations can be translated into all four languages.

Developers are currently working on an iOS version. The project was carried out with the support of UC3M's Audiovisual Accessibility Laboratory, which is part of the Center for Technologies for Disability and Dependence in UC3M’s Science Park

Here is more information on Blappy

Through a relationship with Quantum Reading, Learning, Vision, OrCam’s assistive technology (AT) device is now available to people who are blind in Australia. OrCam MyEye is the world’s most advance wearable AT solution. It uses a small camera that mounts on the user’s glasses to read printed text in real time into a discrete earpiece. Moreover, it can recognize people’s faces and products in the store. The devices are hand delivered by a trainer who teaches new users how to use the device in their daily life.  

Microsoft gave away the upgrade to Windows 10 for a full year. Now most users will pay as much as $199 for a copy of the popular operating system. However, if you’re an assistive technology user, there is good news. You can still get it for free.

People who use assistive technologies such as screen readers like Jaws and NVDA used by people who are blind or have low vision can still get Windows 10 for free. Microsoft has rolled out a new webpage to help their customers use assistive technology navigate the process.

This does not, however, elevate the need for producers of website, software and apps to comply with web accessibility guidelines such as the WCAG 2.0, so that people with disabilities can perform functions and access content and to meet the requirements of the ADA.

For more information on complying with the guidelines visit the Expert Accessibility Service page on the Interactive Accessibility website. 

A French start-up Moodstocks specializes in rapid object recognition using smart phones. Moodstocks is different from other existing object recognition apps because it runs directly on the smartphone and does not rely on outside servers. This more affordable, mainstream and accessible method has caught the interest of Google, who has agreed to purchase the start-up. It is still unclear whether Google will use the tech solely for its customer-facing offerings or also launch its own SDK for developers. It is clear, however, that this could be a great step forward in accessibility. 

UMass Boston’s engineering students have collected a year’s worth of Wi-Fi signal data to create a map of the campus. Using the IBM Accessible Location-based Service, people with disabilities will be able to download an app on their mobile device and identify their location using the Wi-Fi signals. They can then put in a destination and the app will guide them, turn-by-turn, and give accessible route guidance based on the current physical campus environment.

This technology has great potential for other environments such as airports, hospitals, office buildings and shopping malls. It could benefit many people such as:

  • Firefighters
  • The elderly
  • People with short term memory issues
  • People with vision disabilities

Read Dr. Ping Chen’s article on GAAD. 

A Texas A&M University biomedical engineering researcher is developing a device that, while worn on the wrist, translates sign language into text. The wearable tech uses motion sensors in conjunction with measurements of electrical activity in the muscles to interpret gestures.  It can already recognize 40 American Sign Language (ASL) words with an approximate 96 percent accuracy. This gives great promise that the device could bridge the communications delta between people who are deaf and those who don’t know ASL.

For more information see the GAATES article.  

On Tuesday, March 8, 2016 Boston Accessibility is hosting a roundtable at the IBM Innovation Center on 1 Rogers Street in Cambridge Massachusetts. Jeremey Curry from AISquared will talk about the new, ZoomText Fusion.

ZoomText Fusion is a Magnifier/Reader with a complete Screen reader that is designed for users with advanced or progressive vision loss. It tailored for individual who, over time, want a smooth and safe transition from magnification to full screen reading.  

Crowd sourcing brings the knowledge of the masses to the needs of an individual. As a wheel chair user, Maayan Ziv had an individual need – to know if places in her city were accessible before showing up. This was the inspiration for her new crowd sourcing app, AccessNow, which collects and shares accessibility information around the globe.

AccessNow is a web based app that shows the accessibility status of hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and tourist destination all gathered from the globally crowdsourced information. The information is shown on an interactive map giving the user the benefit of the knowledge prior to traveling to the location. 

The popular screen reader NVDA has released its 2016.1 version adding new features and changes.

Supports Baum VarioUltra and Pronto! when connected via USB

New feature include:

  • New braille translation tables:
  • Polish 8 dot computer braille
  • Mongolian
  • Ability to turn off the braille curser and changes is shape is the Show Cursor and Cursor shape option in the Braille Setting Dialog
  • Bluetooth connection to a HIMS Smart Beetle braille display
  • Lower the volume of other sounds with Windows 8 and higher installs through the Audio ducking mode option in the Synthesizer dialog of by pressing NVDA+shift+d
  • Supports APH Refresabraille in HID mode
  • Support for HumanWare Brialliant BI/B braille displays when the protocol is set to OpenBraille.

Changes:

  • Emphasis reporting is disabled by default
  • The shortcut for Formulas in the Elements List Dialog in MS Excel has been change to alt+r
  • Liblouis braille translator updated to 2.6.5
  • Text objects no longer announce “text” when they have focus.

The WCAG 2.0 guidelines help in coding accessibly and help meet the requirements of the ADA

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and Gogo LLC have reached an agreement for Gogo to make closed captioning available for all of the programming content sourced by Gogo and streamed on-demand on their in-flight entertainment service, Gogo Vision. This marks the first agreement of this type with and in-flight entertainment company.

A new technology added by Gogo will enable customers to display closed captions for content with closed captions. Gogo is also sourcing new content with closed captions where available.

Read more on in-flight Closed Captions

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