Canada: CRTC Tests 911 Texting for Hearing and Speech Impaired
People with speech and hearing disabilities will soon be able to communicate with 911 services via text messages. During the three-month pilot project announced by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, volunteers registered with their phone provider will make test phone calls to 911, and the dispatcher will respond with a text message to the user’s cellphone. The user can then text their situation back to the dispatcher.
From http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1132780--c, February 23, 2012
Video: US Senate Committee Meeting on Education and Accessible Technolgoy
U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions chaired a full committee hearing on the "Promise of Accessible Technology: Challenges and Opportunities" on February 7, 2012. Panel I was chaired by Eve Hill , Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice, Washington. Panel II was chaired by Mark Riccobono , Executive Director, Jernigan Institute, National Federation of the Blind, Baltimore, MD; Dr. John B. Quick , Superintendent, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation, Columbus, IN; Mark Turner, M.A , Director, Center for Accessible Media, Accessible Technology Initiative, California State University, Long Beach, CA.
From http://www.help.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=15eea6a0-5056-9502-5d55-b899d73ef5f9, February 23, 2012
USA: Georgia Tech Researchers Turn an iPhone into a Braille Writer with New App
It wasn't all that long ago that we saw a student turn a tablet into a Braille writer, and now some researchers from Georgia Tech have done the same thing for smaller touchscreens, too. The Yellow Jackets produced a prototype app, called BrailleTouch, that has six keys to input letters using the Braille writing system and audio to confirm each letter as it's entered. To use the app, you simply turn the phone face down, hold it in landscape mode and start typing. As you can see above, it's currently running on an iPhone, but the researchers see it as a universal eyes-free texting app for any touchscreen. Early studies with people proficient in Braille writing show that typing on BrailleTouch is six times faster than other eyes-free texting solutions -- up to 32 words per minute at 92 percent accuracy.
From http://www.engadget.com/2012/02/18/georgia-tech-researchers-turn-an-iphone-into-a-braille-writer-wi/, February 22, 2012
USA: Nevada State Finalizes Special Driving Permits for Self-Driving Robotic Cars
A fleet of Google's robotic cars has been tested more than 200,000 miles over highways and city streets. And Nevada has finalized rules that will make it possible for robotic-self-driving cars to receive their own special driving permits. It's not quite driver's licenses for robots — but it's close. The other day I went for a spin in a robotic car. This car has an $80,000 cone-shaped laser mounted on its roof. There are radars on the front, back and sides. Detailed maps help it navigate.
From http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2012/02/17/147006012/when-the-car-is-the-driver, February 22, 2012
Dyslexie Font Designed to Help Dyslexics Read, Write
A Dutch graphic designer and dyslexic, Christian Boer, developed a font specifically for dyslexic readers. It’s designed to make letters more distinct from each other and to keep them tied down, so to speak, so that the reader is less likely to flip them in their minds. The letters in the font are also spaced wide apart to make reading them easier.
From http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/design-architecture/dyslexie-font-designed-to-help-dyslexics-read-write/4110, February 22, 2012
USA: Tongue Drive Wireless Device Operates Computers and Wheelchairs
Tongue Drive is a wireless device that enables people with high-level spinal cord injuries to operate a computer and maneuver an electrically powered wheelchair simply by moving their tongues. The Tongue Drive System is getting less conspicuous and more capable. The newest prototype of the system allows users to wear an inconspicuous dental retainer embedded with sensors to control the system. The sensors track the location of a tiny magnet attached to the tongues of users. In earlier versions of the Tongue Drive System, the sensors that track the movement of the magnet on the tongue were mounted on a headset worn by the user.
From http://www.disabled-world.com/assistivedevices/tongue-drive.php, February 22, 2012
Singapore Education Ministry to Support Students with Disabilities
On 18 February 2012, the Singaporean Minister for Education Mr. Heng Swee Keat pledged to support students with physical disabilities, stating that this population "will have access to quality education, regardless of their physical challenges," as reported by Channel News Asia’s 18 February article MOE pledges support to students with disabilities written by Joanne Chan. According to the article, Minister Heng will reiterate this commitment during his ministry’s budget debate, where Minister Heng states he will speak on how the Southeast Asian nation’s education system “‘will continue to create opportunities for all our students, from every income segment, and how we will provide special assistance for the special schools, and children with learning disabilities in our system.’"
From http://aseanidpp.org/singapore-to-support-physically-disabled-students, February 22, 2012
Tunisia: Researchers Develop Easy-to-Use Web Tools to Automatically Translate Written Text into Sign Language
In developing countries, the majority of deaf people are illiterate and cannot use mobile phone Short Message Service (SMS) or text messages. Their preferred language is sign language according to a research paper by scientists from the University of Tunis. The WebSign project aims to break the silence of deaf people. “It’s an initiative to help deaf individuals use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and hearing people to communicate with deaf ones. The project is really exciting, especially when meeting and getting in touch with the target community,” said Mohamed Jemni, head of the research laboratory at the University of Tunis and director of the Al Khawarizmi Computing Center.
From http://www.isgtw.org/feature/breaking-silence-deaf-people, February 21, 2012
NantWorks and IPPLEX Releases LookTel Money Reader App for Mac
NantWorks and IPPLEX have released their revolutionary LookTel Money Reader app for Mac computers on the Apple Mac App Store. The cutting-edge iPhone application that has helped thousands of users with visual impairments or blindness identify and count bills is now available for Mac OS computers. By simply holding a bill in front of your Mac’s camera, the application recognizes and speaks the denomination in real-time.
From http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/12/prweb9056351.htm, February 21, 2012
New Version of Google Maps Brings Indoor Floor Plans to Your Phone
Google’s Maps team has made fantastic advances in surveying and mapping seemingly every square inch of navigable ground on the planet. But for mobile users, those maps have always stopped just short of indoor spaces — until now. Google Maps 6.0 for Android launched Tuesday with a bold initiative: indoor mapping. Partnering at launch with a selection of businesses and public service structures, the new mobile Maps version allows users to see the entire layout of a mapped building, switch between floor plans if the structure has multiple levels, and locate indoor points of interest like retail stores, bathrooms and ATMs. Obviously, indoor mapping is only useful when the building you’re navigating is big enough to warrant it. To this end, Google has partnered with more than 25 major businesses that handle large crowds on a regular basis — major travel sites like San Francisco International and Chicago’s O’Hare airports, as well as giant retailers like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.
From http://m.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/11/google-maps-indoor-update/, February 20, 2012