Low Vision

The Therapeutic Research Foundation (TRF) and the National Science Foundation-sponsored Quality of Life Technology Center (QOLT) have collaborated to establish a comprehensive visual assist system for people who are blind and low vision.

In contrast to the rapidly changing smartphone, iPad and laptop computer market, current technology for people who are blind is still clumsy and archaic. The TRF proprietary project, however, will create a system for enhancing the ability of people who are low-vision and blind to navigate and interact with their surroundings. The system will work by constructing a virtual 3-D environment for an Immersive Navigational Informatics System that builds and communicates a description of the virtual environment for users and allows for further electronic interaction to occur via voice and speech-recognition software. Read more about the visual assist system for people with vision disabilities.

Texthelp Inc., an award-winning literacy software solutions provider, has released Read&Write for Google. Read&Write for Google, which works within Google Drive in Chrome on PCs, Macs and Chromebooks, allows students with learning disabilities to access and interact with the same documents as their peers and teachers. To accomplish this, the software offers support tools for Google document, PDFs and ePubs which include:

  • Read aloud with dual color highlighting
  • Talking Dictionary, Picture Dictionary, Translator, and Fact Finder
  • Study Skills Highlighters and Collect Highlights
  • Vocabulary List Builder
  • Annotations (PDFs and ePubs)
  • Navigational tools (ePubs)

Read more about Read&Write for Google here or visit the Texthelp Inc website

A new tiny wearable device called the OrCam uses audio feedback to relay visual information to people with vision disabilities. The revolutionary computer will enable blind and low vision individuals to take on new tasks that would otherwise require assistance. Watch video of the OrCam.

On July 31st at 2pm the Federal Trade Commission will host a free webinar informing blind and low vision consumers on protect themselves from identity theft. People who wish to participate can join the webinar 15 minutes prior to the event. You are strongly encouraged to test your computer prior to the event.

A group of students with vision disabilities, participating in a summer enrichment program at the Carroll Center for the Blind, have been testing the Visus Visual Assist System by the Boston based Visus Technology. The Visus Visual Assist System is a wireless mobile system that takes advantage of the 4G LTE network and allows people who are blind and low vision to recognize faces, determine colors, and navigate their travel. It is expected to be ready for public use soon. Read more about students at Carroll Center for the Blind testing revolutionary technology.

A student with a low vision disability sparked allegations that the University was in violation of the ADA. The student fell behind in coursework due to a lack of accessible course materials, prompting the student to dropout early in the quarter.

In a Justice Department announcement yesterday, it was said that a settlement was reached with Louisiana Tech University and the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System to remedy the alleged violations to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The University agreed to implement several policies that require they deploy learning technology, web pages and course material that meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA.

Read more about Louisiana Tech University adopting WCAG 2.0 level AA standard in a settlement with the Feds.

Read the Department of Justice Press Release here.

In an effort to commit to persons with disabilities and ensure that they are treated equally with dignity and respect, Singapore has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCPRD). On August 18, 2013 the Convention will come into effect for Singapore marking a significant milestone. Singapore’s Masterplan, which gives Singapore a roadmap for an inclusive society where persons with disabilities are empowered to contribute to society, is credited for making it possible through the 3P (People, Public, Private) collaboration. Read more about Singapore committing to persons with disabilities.

I was interviewing the owner of a large web design firm on my radio show, Seacoast Business Connections and the topic of accessibility came up. As my guest was explaining to me that his firm makes a point of designing with accessibility in mind even if the client is not concerned with it, his twin boys, both of whom were born with cerebral palsy (CP), played in the lobby just on the other side of the studio’s large glass window.

Barnes & Noble has been slow when it comes to the accessibility of its e-book platforms, but it has definitely made an effort with the latest release, version 3.3, of the NOOK application. Although the NOOK tablet device is still inaccessible to people with vision loss, the accessibility improvements in this application are worth an investigation.   The free NOOK application works with the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

The AFB article provides a description of how to use the app with information included about the accessibility of the various features and functions of the app.  Read the full article, A Guide to the Barnes & Noble NOOK App: Another Accessible Option for Reading Books on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.

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