Low Vision

The science of touch is helping scholars from around the world develop new technology that will improve access for people with disabilities. Many of these haptic devises were on display at Northwestern University’s recent Haptics Conference. Among the new innovations are:

  • Playing music with the touch of a finger
  • Experiencing in-game gravity with a special stylus
  • TPAD – a sensory phone that allows the user to feel texture

Read more on the abc Eywitness News webpage. 

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.

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.

Sohan Dharmaraja, formally a Stanford engineering doctoral candidate, has created the first Braille-writer App. The app performs similar functions to a Brailler, which is a laptop like computer that is an important but specific tool used by people who are blind or have low vision. A Brailler can be used for things like typing documents and notes and to send and receive emails.  

Now, thanks to the Braille-writer app, a tablet can be used in lue of needing to purchase the very specific and dedicated Brailler. A Brailler uses a series of eight keys, one for each fingertip, the iBrailler draws the key around each fingertip. If the user becomes disoriented, they can easily recalibrate by lifting their fingers off the glass and put them back down.

Other features include:

  • Undo/redo function
  • One-click Google access
  • Search results by speech

The iPad app is now available in the app store. 

NJ Foundation for the Blind is hosting a free demonstration of the iPhones and iPads assistive technology. That assistive technology gives access to people who are blind or have low vision. The demonstration will be on Wednesday, Feb 18th from 10:00 am to 1:00pm at the NJ Foundation for the Blind on 230 Diamond Spring Road in Denville.

The demonstration will introduce people who are blind or have low vision to the iPhone and iPad accessibility features:

  • Voice Over
  • Gesture-based screen reader
  • Zoom magnification

You must register in advance by February 11 as seating is limited. To register call 973-627-0055 or by email.

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