Low Vision

Facebook can now automatically create alternative text for images generating descriptions that enable users who are blind or have low vision to envisage the content of the photo. The iOS app provides an audio breakdown of what’s happening in the photo using object recognition technology.

Using its vast supply of user images, Facebook has trained a deep neural network driving a computer vision system to recognize object in images. As is a standard in the WCAG 2.0 guidelines, the results are translated to “alt text,” which can be read by screen readers. 

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.


  • 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

iOS has an accessibility feature to allow users to select their preferred text size. Some applications will respect this setting and change their text size appropriately, however, some do not. To change your preferred text size

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. 


Fusion is perfect for individuals who, over time, want a smooth and easy transition from magnification to full screen reading.  ZoomText Fusion is designed to grow with you, ensuring that you will always be able to use your computer.  

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.


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