Blind

Two new pieces of innovative tech have been tested to help students with vision disabilities navigate the Penn State campus both indoors and out. Both were built for iOS devices:

  1. Blind Square is a unique GPS app that not only give the user information on where they are and going but tells them environmental information as well.
  2. iBeacons provide more detailed navigation. A dozen of them have been set up in the Pollock Commons.

The testing was very successful as first time user Madeline Garber was able to navigate both outdoors and indoors with no issues. 

The 90-day license for the popular screen reader JAWS now includes MAGic Screen Magnification Software. When a timed licenses is purchased for JAWS the Magic 90-day license will be made available for download as well.  The 90 day period starts when the first product is authorized for use. Both JAWS and MAGic will use the same authorization.  

JAWS and MAGic can be purchased immediately from a freedom scientific representative.  For more information please visit the Freedom scientific website

Students at Birmingham City University are developing a smart cane with facial recognition and GPS that will enable people who are blind to identify friends and family. The ‘XploR’ mobility cane uses smart phone technology to recognize familiar faces from as far away as 10 meters.

The ICT students who are developing the cane: Steve Adigbo, Waheed Rafiq and Richard Howlett have already presented it to medical and science professionals in Luxembourg and France. They plan to visit organizations in Germany later this year.

Palestinian students at the Polytechnic University in Hebron have developed a smart vest for people who are blind. The vest uses a ground sensor to detect obstacles and voice and vibration cues to navigate the user through them.

It is hoped that the vest can be an alternative to a cane and help people who are blind gain more independence. The vest still needs more development and financial support.

Global assisteve technology leader and maker of the popular screen reader Jaws, Freedom Scientific, and ABiSee, the leader in scanning and reading solutions, announced their partnership today. The power team promises to bring an unprecedented portfolio of innovative hardware and software solutions for people who are blind and have low vision.

Researchers from Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Schepens Eye Research Institute have developed a pocket-sized collision warning device. The device can predict collisions based on time to collision vs. proximity to the object. It gives a simple and intuitive auditory collision warning only when the user approaches an obstacle. It will not sound the warning if the user simply stands to close.

Using an obstacle course, users who walk the course using the device reduced their collisions by 37% vs. those who walked the course without the devise.  The findings can be seen on Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science (IOVS).

For $9 a month Scribd subscribers can read unlimited ebook titles. However, District Court Judge William Sessions ruled last Thursday that the ADA Lawsuit filed against Scribd will be moving forward. While the service is popular it is not accessible to people who are blind or have low vision.

Scribd’s argument was: "the ADA does not apply to website operators whose goods or services are not made available at a physical location open to the public.” However, Judge Session disagreed stating, "The fact that the ADA does not include web-based services as a specific example of a public accommodation is irrelevant because such services did not exist when the ADA was passed and because Congress intended the ADA to adapt to changes in technology."

How can a person with a vision disability tell that the person across from them is smiling when they can see them? Motors in the chair they are sitting in give the sensation that a smile is being draw on their back.

Bala, a double major in psychology and computer science who has work with Arizona State University’s (ASU) Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC), has developed the new technology that communicates what a person with a vision disability can’t see. It works when the user sits in a chair which has different motors in it. A camera captures facial movement of the person they’re talking too, which is translated into sensation on the user’s back. It essentially allows them to feel the movement of someone’s face.

Read more about Bala’s work.

Ai Squared has released Window-Eyes 9.1 and continues to increase accessibility to people who are blind or have low vision. The upgrade is free and offers and enhanced experience across desktop, web and mobile platforms.

The upgrade boasts these enhancements:

  • Continued Improvements for Web Support
  • Support for Google Chrome, opening up an additional major browser
  • Enhanced performance in Firefox
  • Placemarkers have returned to the new Browse Mode, increasing ease of access to favorite parts of websites
  • Element Properties have returned to the new Browse Mode
  • Even more ARIA functionality added to provide the best possible web browsing experience
  • Bug Fixes for iTunes, Outlook, Windows Live Mail, and more
  • Stability fixes

Window-Eyes customers who currently have version 9 can download the 9.1 upgrade by accessing the Check for Updates option in the Window-Eyes Help Menu.

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