Industry News

Rob Sinclair along with others at Microsoft and the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) will launch an association just for the accessibility profession in March. The association will create training materials, webinars and other education based resources in addition to pointing people to existing industry resources. Ultimately, this will lead to the IAAP creating a professional certification for the accessibility industry.

Read more on the accessibility association on the Digital Journal. 

Conrad Lewis, founder of eSight Eyewear, has created a wearable technology that restores the sight of some people who are legally blind. Addressing a problem that both his sisters were diagnosed with, Stargardt disease, which reduced vision to a few centimeters in front of the eyes, Lewis invented eSight specs. The glasses consist of LCDs in front of each eye. A camera mounted on the front of the glasses records a real-time image of what the wearer would normally see, which is processed by a small computer then sent to the LCDs.

You can read more about eSight on TechVibes.

Ben Heck, modder and host of Element 14’s The Ben Heck Show, is creating a single-handed accessibility mod for use with the Xbox One’s controller.

In Episode 113: Ben Heck’s Xbox One Teardown Episode, Mr. Heck showed a clip of the accessible Guitar he built in Episodes 105 and 106 and teases his next episode, in which he will build the accessible controller. The controller modifications will include:

  • A spiked thumb-stick, which will help discern direction.
  • A left trigger and gamepad on the backface.

More detail will be revealed on this Friday’s live episode.

According to Game Spot, Mr. Heck will donate the controller mod to the Able Gamers Foundation.

A new fully accessible app created for the android operating system called Text Detective reads text from a page out loud. By pointing the phone’s camera at text the user can hear it read aloud as well as edit, copy and paste the text into documents, emails or other apps. The Detective works best with clean and crisp text and can help a user read mail, menus, cards, product packages, medication labels and other print.

The app, which has great implications for individuals who are blind, was created by Blindsight and supported in part by SBIR grants from the National Institutes of Health. It is available for $1.99 on Google play.

Through a variety of workshops, the Government of Canada is helping people with disabilities in the Winkler area with the skills and knowledge they need to find jobs.

Candice Bergen, Minister of state, who made the announcement said, “Our government remains committed to helping Canadians get the skills they need to gain access to good-quality jobs in the labor market.” Minister Bergen continued to say, “In particular, people with disabilities face challenges entering the job market and that’s why our government’s partnerships with organizations like Segue Career Options are so important.”

Participants will work on life and job skills that prepare them for the job market. This will include the development of action plans and hands-on experience through volunteer positions in local grocery stores or restaurants.

The advanced writing and reading assistive technology for people with dyslexia and dysgraphia, Ghotit Real Writer & Reader, had just released their version 3 for Android 4. The new release targets tablets but works with smartphones as well. The company has more improvements planned for smartphones.

Unlike other vendors, Ghotit has ported the software in full. Therefore, the Android version has all the features of and works similar to the original Mac and Windows version and features Android sharing.  The new release requires Android version 4 with 1 GB of RAM or more.

The website for Safeway’s grocery delivery will undergo accessibility and usability improvements. They will use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, WCAG 2.0 Level AA as the standard for this effort.

Safeway worked on this initiative in structured negotiations with individual customers with visual impairments in California and Washington. The Law Offices of Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian of the Oakland, California civil rights firm Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho represented the Safeway shoppers.

An Israeli startup called Project Ray has developed the first smartphone specifically designed for users who are blind and visually impaired. Smartphones can overwhelm many visually impaired users. Typical touch screens don’t provide enough tactile clues to assist a user who is blind making it difficult for them to navigate menus.

Project Ray offers an interface that is very simple yet still robust. It is designed to make sense for people who are visually impaired. The screen displays five to twelve icons and allows users to simply move their finger to a specific direction to open apps.

More can be read at the Project Ray website.

Six designers from Asia University won one of the 2013 Red Dot Design Concept Awards for their Sign Language Ring design. The set of rings and a bracelet detects the motions of sign language and speaks the words being signed. Moreover, it translates spoken word to text promising to revolutionize communication between the deaf who use sign and hearing people who do not.

There are some in the deaf community skeptical about the extent of its usefulness and do not see it as a replacement for a live interpreter. However, there are circumstances when an interpreter is not available that the devise would offer convenience.

Guillaume Chastel, senior lecture in the American Sign Language Department at the University of Rochester in New York, said in an interview with ABC News, "We do use gestures or write notes ... [but] writing back and forth takes so long. If you're doing something basic and you can throw on these bracelets, that would be a good option."  

Read more on the new rings that read Sign Language out loud.

IBM and UMass Boston will work together in conjunction with state and federal government agencies, local and global organizations to advocate for key policies and legislation for technology accessibility. The purpose of the collaboration is to explore ways assistive technologies and the design of mobile devices, apps or websites that enable access for people with disabilities can be integrated and how overall user experience can be improved.

As part of this initiative, IBM will give students, professors, researchers and UMass Boston’s new School for Global Inclusion and Social Development access to technology and industry expertise.   

Examples of applications that the collaboration will work on are:

  • IBM My Campus Mobile App: This is a navigation application for the UMass Boston campus. It uses GPS and mapping technology to identify accessible features of architecture such as ramps or text-to-speech capabilities and helps guide people around campus.
  • IBM Media Captioner and Editor: This application automates video captioning.

Read more on the Research to advance technology solutions for people with disabilities.

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