by Curtis Chong
Braille Monitor March 2020
From the Editor: Many of us have had an electronic partner that stays with us almost all the time. It is a smart phone. But many blind people have felt left out in this world of accessible phones, because they lack the interest or the dexterity to use a touchscreen. They want buttons, and they want menus they can hear and use to accomplish some of the tasks that their smart phone buddies using touch screens have.
Curtis Chong offers what may be a good solution. His credentials to evaluate and explain technology are well known to readers of the Braille Monitor, so let us go directly into his article:
The BlindShell: An Accessible Cell Phone with Real Buttons full article
By Dan Anderson
February 3, 2020
Accessibility-as-a-Service company eSSENTIAL Accessibility recently announced it closed $16 million in funding led by Lead Edge Capital. This round of funding will provide eSSENTIAL Accessibility with resources to expand its software platform and pursue rapid geographic expansion in order to meet escalating demand.
Accessibility is a business mandate that has arrived with tremendous force and the consequences of not offering accessible experiences are costly and brand debilitating.
This funding builds on a major year for eSSENTIAL Accessibility which saw a rapidly growing list of clients, key executive appointments, and market momentum in the areas of accessibility and inclusion.
eSSENTIAL Accessibility To Expand Software Platform With New Funding Round full article
July 29, 2019
The University of Manitoba Biomedical Engineering Design Team (BMED) brings together students with a passion for the biomedical field to foster design experience, device building, public speaking and networking opportunities.
Throughout their first year as a team, BMED organized events, tours and outreach programs to distribute knowledge about biomedical engineering. The team focused on completing autonomous design projects that aim to improve the quality of life of clients. Within these projects, students designed, prototyped and tested their devices before taking them to competitions and conferences. BMED worked on three projects: Wheelchair Transfer, Wheelchair Handwarmer, and EMG Muscle Rehabilitation.
Biomedical Engineering Students Design Life-Changing Technology full article
4th April 2019
Now in its fifth year, Design Council Spark is putting a new focus on driving accessible home innovation; Design Council Spark: The Home Innovation Challenge is aiming to deliver major impact, both financially and socially, for people with reduced mobility or disabilities.
In the UK, there are currently 14 million people living with a disability and 25 percent of the population are due to be over the age of 65 by 2046. Design Council Spark showcases how innovative design is fundamental to futureproofing peoples ability to live independently and enabling bright ideas to transform future homes for everyone.
Innovators Challenged to Design Products for Homes to Win Investment Fund and Help Disabled People Live Independently full article
ThisAbles collaboration enables people with disabilities to 3D-print add-ons to regular IKEA furniture to make it more easily accessible for all. By Naama Barak | April 3, 2019
Everyone (well, almost) loves a good stroll through IKEA, and the people of Israel are certainly no different. Pronounced eek-eh-ah in Hebrew, the Scandinavian giant’s furniture decorates almost every home in country, making it the perfect place to roll out super-smart accessories that make life simper for all.
At IKEA Israel, 13 accessories designed for people with disabilities can now be scanned at no cost and printed out using 3D printers to add to the store’s furniture. The aim is to increase the products’ usability and raise awareness of inclusion and accessibility.
IKEA Israel Makes Life Simpler for People With Disabilities full article
March 18 2019
Stephen was 14 when he lost all use of his legs and the full mobility of his arms in a traffic accident. Three years after the crash, the Braddock youth, who asked that his last name not be used, said he sorely missed getting outside with family and friends.
Gal Pinto, nine years old, pedals her bike with assistance by physical therapist Kirsten Raether around the gym at the western Pa. School for the Deaf , Tuesday, March 12 2019 in Edgewood.
Hanging out in the park, fishing just doing anything outdoors its really hard when you cant get around, he said in 2018 during a fishing program organized by the state Fish and Boat Commission.
Adaptive Sports Equipment Enables Outdoor Recreation for All full article
Next stop: integrating with Google Assistant.
January 9, 2019
“Hey Siri, stream iTunes through my hearing aid.” That’s just one of many things you can do with the ReSound Linx Quattro, the first smart hearing aid to use AI to pair with Apple’s Siri assistant.
Smart hearing aids are part of a burgeoning field of gadgets set to transform the health care industry. For the Linx Quattro, that means drawing people with hearing impairment further into their digital world.
The Linx Quattro uses AI to learn your preferences and settings over time, and to proactively make adjustments to various sound profiles. You’ll be able to ask Siri to change profiles with voice commands (e.g. turn up the volume in my left ear).
Siri on the ReSound Linx Quattro Smart Hearing Aid a First for AI voice Control full article
By Henry St Leger
November 20, 2018
Subtitles go poof
The arrival of Spyro Reignited Trilogy should be an occasion of joy for players, either those coming to the beloved PlayStation platformer for the first time or those seeing one of their childhood gaming icons lovingly remastered in a modern engine.
The trilogy revisits the first three Spyro games developed by Insomniac Games from 1998 to 2000, all of which were made for the PS1. When the trilogy launched last week, however, there was a notable omission: subtitles.
While Activision incorporates subtitles in the general gameplay of the remastered game as you run around, chase sheep, breathe fire, save the world, and so on animated cut-scenes don’t have them.
Activision Ignites Rage Over Spyro’s Accessibility Failure full article
Ra’anana, Israel, October 10, 2018.
RightHear, developer of an innovative solution for accessibility and orientation of blind and visually impaired persons, today announced a dedicated version of the system for centers serving people with disabilities, making them accessible to people with sight impairments, allowing them to orient themselves independently inside the center.
The announcement follows a successful implementation at Israel’s Beit Halochem center in Tel Aviv, serving Israel’s disabled veterans and victims of terror.
Innovative System Enables the Blind and Visually Impaired to Orient Independently in Centers for People with Disabilities full article
National competition aims to find innovative, practical and low-cost solutions to make our communities more accessible for persons with disabilities. By MARK CARDWELL | OCT 03 2018
A year ago, Memorial University student Emma Dornan was watching TV with her after-school buddy Matthew Squires, a 10-year-old who suffers from spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, when she made what turned out to be an award-winning discovery.
I was sitting on the couch with Matthew on my lap, using my hands and fingers to stabilize his head to help him watch TV, recalled Ms. Dornan, a fourth-year behavioural neuroscience student who works with children with disabilities at Easter Seals summer camps and during the school year in St. Johns.
Students Get to Showcase Their Award-Winning Accessibility-Related Designs full article
October 1 2018
The latest statistics show that people are living longer in virtually every country in the world, with the over 60 age group growing faster than any other cohort.
The aging global population is altering many aspects of society, none more so than housing. When quizzed about their preferred living arrangements, the overwhelming majority of over 60’s (up to 90%) stated that they’d prefer to stay in their own home as they grow older known as ‘Aging in Place’. Yet the challenges brought on by deterioration in mental and physical health as we age, often make this difficult.
How Technology is Assisting Seniors to ‘Age in Place’ full article
When reporting on an event like the annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, it’s tempting to try to sum it up with a single narrative. This is my third year covering the trade show portion of CSUN. In addition to asking questions for AccessWorld, I was part of the Blind Bargains podcast team You’ll find links to some of our interviews at the link below.
A couple of years ago, Jamie Pauls wrote that CSUN and other accessibility-focused trade shows inaugurated the year of Braille. This year, a number of the products announced in 2016 are available to purchase, some have even been updated, and a few still aren’t available at all. Most of these items exemplify important improvements in function, price, or both.
CSUN 2018 Heralds The Year of Wearables–Unless It Doesn’t full article
February 11, 2018·4:55 PM ET
Seventeen Broadway theaters are now using technology that allows deaf and hearing-impaired patrons to see closed captions on their smartphones. Unlike the white smartphone background seen here, the GalaPro app screen is dark.
Jerry Bergman is sitting in the audience at a Broadway matinée performance of The Band’s Visit. Despite the fact that a huge sign above the stage tells the audience in English, Hebrew and Arabic to turn off cellphones, Bergman is keeping his on so he can read closed captions while watching the show.
It’s OK To Look At Your Phone At A Broadway Show, If Your Hearing Is Impaired full article
by Industry Update
An Australian startup programme is aiming to tackle lifestyle problems caused by fine motor control issues, an ever-pervasive ailment that dramatically impacts quality-of-life.
Their solution is a hand controller designed to help people with dexterity issues perform daily household functions: the i-boll.
The i-boll, roughly the size of a junior soccer ball, links to a smartphone app to connect with other devices and uses the smartphone’s built-in accelerometer to track movement.
The wireless device is operated with two hands and aims to help people living with cerebral palsy, arthritis, those recovering from a stroke and the elderly to operate smart devices and household appliances.
A Delicate Approach to Restoring Control full article
Portable reading device developed by students at UAE University in Al Ain can translate written material into Braille Sami Zaatari,
Gulf News, Sept. 8, 2017
Abu Dhabi: An innovative student-led project at the UAE University in Al Ain is hoping to make reading easier for visually impaired people by developing a pocket-sized portable device that can translate reading materials into Braille.
The device, which is still in its prototype stage, has a built-in camera that can be used to take photos of any type of reading material, which is then converted into Braille, allowing a visually impaired person to read at any time they want.
UAE Students Invent Photo-to-Braille Translator; To Make Reading Easier for Visually Impaired full article
At the AccessWorld Tech Summit in March 2017, part of the American Foundation for the Blind’s annual Leadership Conference, I was so excited while listening to a presentation from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about accessible devices including cable boxes. I figured I could call my cable company when I got home and get an accessible cable box. I was wrong.
FCC Regulations Summary for Accessible Cable Boxes
The FCC conference presenters were Suzy Rosen Singleton, Chief, and Will Schell, Attorney-Advisor, Disability Rights Office, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. They focused on access to video description.
Obtaining Accessible Cable Television: A Frustrating Experience full article
03.07.17 – Summer series students works:
Alexandre Foucqueteau has taught Cellulo, a little hand-sized robot, how to help visually impaired children find their bearings and avoid obstacles in the classroom.
For his semester project, Alexandre Foucqueteau came up with a new application for a little multifunctional robot called Cellulo. Created at EPFL two years ago in a collaboration between the Computer-Human Interaction Lab for Learning & Instrution (CHILI) and the Robotic Systems Laboratory (LSRO) with the support of NCCR Robotics, the robot can now help visually impaired children get around their classroom. The child moves the little robot around a map of the room. When the robot bumps virtually into something, such as a table or the teacher’s desk, it can recognize the object. That may sound like a piece of cake, but getting a tablet to interact with the robot and recognize the objects was actually quite complex.
A Robot to Help Visually Impaired Schoolchildren Find Their Way full article
The app uses AI to recognize people, objects, and scenes
by James Vincent@jjvincent
Jul 12, 2017
Microsoft has released Seeing AI a smartphone app that uses computer vision to describe the world for the visually impaired. With the app downloaded, the users can point their phone’s camera at a person and it’ll say who they are and how they’re feeling. They can also point it at a product and it’ll tell them what it is. All of this is done using artificial intelligence that runs locally on their phone.
Microsoft’s New iPhone App Narrates the World for Blind People full article
By Liezel Labios, UC San Diego
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
“The Language of Glove”: a smart glove that wirelessly translates the American Sign Language (ASL) alphabet into text and controls a virtual hand to mimic ASL gestures.
Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a smart glove that wirelessly translates the American Sign Language alphabet into text and controls a virtual hand to mimic sign language gestures. The device, which engineers call “The Language of Glove,” was built for less than $100 using stretchable and printable electronics that are inexpensive, commercially available and easy to assemble. The work was published on July 12 in the journal PLOS ONE.
Low-Cost Smart Glove Translates American Sign Language Alphabet full article
A new iPhone app uses machine learning to identify objects for people with poor eyesight, and it doesn’t need an Internet connection. by Rachel Metz
Originally posted March 25, 2016
As I walked around my office on a recent morning, a female voice on my iPhone narrated the objects I passed. “Brick,” “wall,” “telephone,” she said matter-of-factly. The voice paused when I came upon a bike hung on a wall-mounted rack, then intoned, “bicycle.”
App Spots Objects for the Visually Impaired full article