Mobile Accessibility

New App for People with Vision Disabilities

A new application called SimplEye is equipped with a Braille typing feature and designed to assist people with vision disabilities with all features of their smartphone. The app was launched last week on World Sight Day. The application was developed by Kriyate, a Delhi-based enterprise and was launched by Minister of State for Rural Development Upendra Kushwaha at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. The application is available for download at the Google play Store.

by Mark Miller and Rosemary Musachio

In our June blog post iOS 8 Accessibility Features Delivers in the Details, we gave you a sneak peek at the Accessibility features of iOS8 like improved zoom, greyscale, and a Braille keyboard.  If you’re an iPhone and/or iPad owner prepare to do a little dance and giggle with device in hand, iOS8 has rolled and it’s rockin’ the accessibility features.

Here is the rundown on what you’ll find behind the iOS8 accessibility tab:

IDEAL Currency Identifier (ICI) by Apps4Android is an Android app that identifies U.S. currency notes for people with vision disabilities. Today Apps4Android announced the release of the V2.0 update.

New Features:

  • Quicker identification of notes
  • Recognized the redesigned $100 bill

Legacy Features:

  • Identifies the following bills:
    • $1 (1963 – present)
    • $2 (1976 – present)
    • $5 (1993 – present)
    • $10, $20, $50 and $100 (1990 – present)

Read more about the IDEAL Currency Identifier.

IBM is performing research in Brazil that may help customers with visual impairments access information displayed in public spaces. In situations where the layout is constant but content changes like with a vending machine, IBM’s researchers are working on a new method. Instead of focusing on content, which is time consuming and requires a great deal of processing power, they are using some identifying markers placed around the display and simplifying the content’s identification process through training templates.  

The new process can give instructions to customers who are blind or have low vision so that they can capture the correct image. Moreover, this method will allow for perspective correction. Researchers expect the benefits will extend beyond people with disabilities and benefit other consumers.

For more information read the Forbes article

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) unveiled a prototype app that helps airline passengers with vision disabilities navigate the airport independently. The app works with approximately 500 beacons located throughout the terminal to call out various points of interest, including gate boarding areas, restaurants, and power outlets.

The prototype app was developed through San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program. The program paired SFO with the Indoo.rs who is a leader in indoor navigation technology.

The prototype will undergo additional testing and refinement prior to being released for use by the public.

Ducer Technology has launched new smart shoes. They’ve launched their new haptic footwear under the wearable technology brand Lechal. The shoes help people with vision disabilities navigate from place to place. The shoes can be synced to your smartphone and will buzz the wearer to alert them whether to turn left or right. Vibrations also indicate which way the wearer should turn.

There are two Lechal products: a complete set of shoes and polyurethane insoles that can be inserted into existing shoes. The system also contains a smartphone app which connect via Bluetooth. 

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While other mobile platforms are making strides in accessibility, iOS has always been a clear leader. Given the buzz from this year’s annual developer conference, iOS 8 will deliver again. Some of the major accessibility features discussed were:

Verizon has partnered with Visus Technology to introduce advanced accessibility tools that promise a higher level of independence for the blind. They are developing Velansense, which is a mobile application suite that utilizes the Verizon 4G LTE network and advanced camera on smartphones to deliver real-time feedback to users who are blind. It will be capable of providing feedback about people, objects and surroundings. It can recognize text, colors, currency, barcodes, and familiar faces.

The Fire Phone is Amazon’s first smartphone and it comes with several accessibility features. The phone was unveiled in front of hundreds of customers, executives and reporters Wednesday in Seattle Washington. The phone will be available from AT&T Inc. with a price point of $199.99 for the 32GB version with a two-year contract.

Some of the accessibility features available on the phone are:

Users with vision disabilities

  • Screen Reader, powered by IVONA Text-to-Speech Explore by Touch
  • Adjustable Reading Speed
  • Explore by Touch Tutorial
  • Screen Magnifier
  • High Contrast

Users with hearing disabilities

  • Closed Captioning
  • Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC)
  • TTY Mode
  • Stereo to Mono Audio

Users with mobility Disabilities

  • Amazon Voice Assist
  • One-Handed Navigation and Shortcuts
  • Low Motion Mode

The Fire Phone will ship July 25, prior to Apples fall release of the iPhone 6. Users can pre-order the phone now on Amazon.com

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