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The OrCam uses a 5.1 mega-pixel camera module and low-power digital image processor to “read” signs, packaging and publications for people with vision disabilities. STMicroelectronics, a global semiconductor leader, created the small device that clips on to eyeglasses.

The wearer can point the OrCam at an object and the camera and processor will work together to analyze and interpret the scene and describe it to the user. It can read scenes or text in a variety of lighting conditions and surfaces, including newspapers and signs. The camera is pre-loaded with a library of objects and the wearer can teach the OrCam new objects while they use it. 

The Disability Rehabilitation Research Project (DRRP) will focus on Cloud and Web Computing. The 3.7 million dollar project will be led by Carnegie Mellon University and sponsored by The U.S. Department of Education. The goal is to develop ways that enable people with disabilities to utilize all the resources available on the Internet.

The DRRP will include researchers at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

Aaron Steinfeld, team director and associate research professor and Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute said, “Our projects are focused on finding ways to create inclusive user experiences on the Internet.” He went on to explain, “There has been great progress over the years on Web accessibility standards and systems, but there is still a lot of work left to do.”

Read more on the project to improve web and cloud computing accessibility.

The Do Good Mission is one of eight Nokia Create contests that encourages the development of apps for Windows Phone 8 and Nokia Lumia devices. Highlighted on the Microsoft Accessibility Blog is the contest that calls for the creation of apps that will enhance the lives and mobile experience of people with vision related disabilities.

Early in 2014, Southwest Airlines will introduce closed captioning to its inflight wireless video entertainment. This will make the airline among the first to take this step toward a more inclusive experience for travelers with disabilities.  

Southwest manager inflight product development, Angela Vargo, told Runway Girl Network, on the sidelines of the APEX Technology Committee conference in Newport Beach, California., “We’re working with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which delivers our TV and video to the aircraft and they have to implement [CC] on their end. They’ll do all our video, both live and cached.”

Read more about Closed Captioning on Southwest Airlines on the Runway Girl Network website.

NVDA, the free open source screen reader for Microsoft Windows, has released version 2013.3rc2. NVDA 2013.3rc2 is a release candidate, so it will be identical to the final 2013.3 release unless major issues are found. NVDA is the development effort of NV Access in collaboration with global contributors.

NVDA gives people who are blind or vision impaired the ability to use their computer by hearing what is on the screen or reading it in braille. It is totally free but fully functional and portable. It can be downloaded directly to your PC or to a thumb drive, so that it can be used anywhere.

  • The new features of rc2 as listed in the NVDA Community website are: Form fields are now reported in Microsoft word documents.
  • NVDA can now announce revision information in Microsoft Word when Track Changes is enabled. Note that Report editor revisions in NVDA's document settings dialog (off by default) must be enabled also for them to be announced.
  • Dropdown lists in Microsoft Excel 2003 through 2010 are now announced when opened and navigated around.
  • a new 'Allow Skim Reading in Say All' option in the Keyboard settings dialog allows navigating through a document with browse mode quick navigation and line / paragraph movement commands, while remaining in say all. This option is off by default.
  • There is now an Input Gestures dialog to allow simpler customization of the input gestures (such as keys on the keyboard) for NVDA commands.
  • You can now have different settings for different situations using configuration profiles. Profiles can be activated manually or automatically (e.g. for a particular application).
  • In Microsoft Excel, cells that are links are now announced as links.
  • In Microsoft Excel, the existance of comments on a cell is now reported to the user.

Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AUWG) is inviting developers of authoring tools who would be interested in sharing their experience implementing the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 and commenting on a Working Draft of the Note Implementing ATAG 2.0.

The ATAG defines how authoring tools should help developers looking to produce web content that conforms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. It also defines how to produce authoring tools that are accessible, so that people with disabilities can use them effectively.

Authoring tools include:

  • Content Management Systems (CMA)
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS)
  • HTML editors
  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Social media
  • Development environments

Developers interested in participating can contact AUWG by December 7th, 2013

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As Americans continue to rely on the web to perform everyday functions like shopping, banking and travel, web accessibility rises to the surface as a growing concern. In a major effort to make online communications accessible, DOT has implemented new rules as part of their continuing implementation of the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986.

On November 19 and 20 in Pune India the state Directorate of Information Technology (DIT), in association with Mahaonline Limited (MoL) will hold a workshop on eAccessibility. The DIT is inviting developer communities and software companies primarily working on government of Maharashtra websites that are high-traffic, high impact and citizen-centric. The goal is to teach them about web accessibility in an effort to make their websites and applications compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guide-lines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A.

Studies indicate that karate can help improve posture and ambulatory condition, confidence and strength for people with disabilities. Stokes Mandeville Stadium in the UK has partnered with the Disability Karate Federation to bring the martial art to the community through a new project called KickStart 100.

The Disability Karate Federation is offering the initial three months of karate classes for only 15 pounds. The classes will be held at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium in November.

Research conducted in 2012 indicated significant changes in the white matter of the brain in karate practitioners leading to understanding the role of white matter connectivity as it relates to motor coordination and how the brain changes may relate to the development stage in which learning begins.

More information on karate for people with disabilities can be found on the Stoke Mandeville Stadium website.

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