Blind

Anyone familiar with the WCAG 2.0 Guidelines know how important alt text on an image is for people who are blind or have low vision. Twitter has recently upped their accessibility and added an option that allows users to add descriptions to images allowing screen readers and braille displays to announce and display the text.

The feature is enabled by using the compose image descriptions option in the Twitter app’s accessibility settings. It is available in Twitter’s iOS and Android applications. Descriptions can be up to 420 characters. 

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

A hand-worn device developed at the University of Nevada, Reno by Yantao Shen uses robotic technology to help people with vision disabilities. The robotic device will allow these people to navigate past movable obstacles and assist in pre-locating, pre-sensing and grasping an object.

The new technology combines vision, tactile force, temperature, audio sensors and actuators to help the user pre-sense an object, locate it, feel the shape and size then grasp it.

Read more about the Robotic Aid

The Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) has developed a custom keyboard for iOS. The new BrailleEasy Keyboard enables one-handed typing for people with vision disabilities and is based on braille. It is available for both Arabic and English speaking users.

The keyboard is based on a traditional two handed typing keyboard but has been customized for comfortable one handed typing. With a simple adaption of transforming two handed Brailling into two gestures, users quickly learn how to use the BrailleEasy keyboard.

Read more about the BrailleEasy keyboard. 

(St. Petersburg, Florida – October 29, 2015) – Freedom Scientific today announced the release of version 17 of JAWS® for Windows, the world's premier screen reading software. Significant new features include:

  • Smart Navigation™, a more efficient way to interact with complex web pages and web apps
  • Domain-specific scripting, bringing the power of JAWS scripting to the web
  • Liblouis Braille Translator enhancing usage with Unified English Braille

Navigating complex web content such as pages often found in banking, shopping, or corporate sites, is a challenge for anyone using access technology. Today, JAWS 17 introduces new techniques via the Smart Navigation feature to help users be more efficient as they access this content.

“The ability to move through tables using just the arrow keys, or to skip past an entire menu bar with a single down arrow, are just two examples of how this will benefit users,” says Eric Damery, Vice President of Software Product Management. “Add the capability to script for products such as SharePoint, and JAWS further expands the employment opportunities for visually impaired people worldwide.”

The JAWS 17 upgrade is an SMA release and can be downloaded as either a 32- or 64-bit version from the JAWS downloads web page. DVD shipments to SMA holders and new product customers will commence on November 2, 2015.

About Freedom Scientific

Freedom Scientific is the leading worldwide provider of assistive technology products for those with vision impairments. The Company sells its products worldwide and has offices in Florida and Switzerland. The Company's products have been translated into 24 languages and are available in 55 countries.

The first open platform for creating smartphone apps that can help people who are blind or have low vision navigate their environment, called IBM Bluemix, has been created by scientists from IBM Research and Carnegie Mellon University.

A pilot app has been created using the platform. The app, called NavCog, uses existing sensors and cognitive technologies to inform people who are blind on the CMU campus about their surroundings through audio and haptic feedback. Future additions will allow the user to:

  • Detect who is approaching
  • Detect a person’s mood

NavCog is available online.

IBM Bluemix is the first set of cognitive assistance tools for developers and is now available via the cloud. The kit includes:

  • An app for navigation
  • A map editing tool
  • Localization algorithms for identifying location and the direction a person is facing 

The new Orion TI-30XS MultiView Talking Scientific Calculator is the first fully accessible multi-line scientific calculator for students with vision disabilities. Unveiled in early September and ready for the school year the accessible calculator is a result of efforts from Texas Instruments, Orbit Research and the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). Based on the popular TI-30XS Multiview scientific calculator from Texas Instruments, the Orion TI-30XS Multiview is a breakthrough in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education for students with vision disabilities.

Read more about the Orion TI-30XS Multiview.

 

In Ahmedabad, India alumnus of NID-Gandhinagar, Mikhil Sonavaria, has designed a car, called Aloka, which gives people with vision disabilities the experience of driving. Sonovaria’s design is a semi-autonomous vehicle giving independence to drivers with vision disabilities.

The driver can pick a destination and decide the route and the car will take them to the destination. The driver interacts with touch-glass and Braille rings, which provide all necessary information to navigate.

The car consist of a pod suspended from a frame. The driver sits in the pod, which pendulates, giving the driver a physical feedback by exaggerating the motions. In an emergency a spring loaded seat eject the driver from the vehicle.  

Read more about Aloka in the Times of India article

NVDA 2015.3rc1 Has Been Released

NVDA 2015.3rc1 has just been released. This is a release candidate so, unless critical issues are discovered, this will be the same as the final 2015.3 release.

This release includes:

  • initial support for Windows 10
  • the ability to disable single letter navigation in browse mode
  • IE improvements
  • Garbled text fixes when typing in certain application with braille enabled.

For more information visit the nvaccess website.

The science of touch is helping scholars from around the world develop new technology that will improve access for people with disabilities. Many of these haptic devises were on display at Northwestern University’s recent Haptics Conference. Among the new innovations are:

  • Playing music with the touch of a finger
  • Experiencing in-game gravity with a special stylus
  • TPAD – a sensory phone that allows the user to feel texture

Read more on the abc Eywitness News webpage. 

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