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Seeing AI: New Technology Research to Support the Blind and Visually Impaired Community
Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, which includes creating and delivering technology for people of all abilities. As a part of this effort, last week at the Microsoft Build Conference, we debuted a new research project in development – Seeing AI – aimed at helping people who are visually impaired or blind to understand more about who and what is around them. Seeing AI will use computer vision, image and speech recognition, natural language processing and machine learning from Microsoft’s Cognitive Services and Office Lens to help describe a person’s surroundings, read text, answer questions and even identify emotions on people’s faces.
From https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/accessibility/2016/04/07/seeing-ai/, April 08, 2016

"Inclusive Design is an Innovation Tool"
With the world’s population ageing, we investigate how adopting inclusive design principles can increase profits for companies. According to the World Health Organisation, around 22 per cent of the global population will be older than 60 by 2050. In Britain alone, the Office for National Statistics predicts that more than 29 million people will be 60 or over by 2032. As ageing causes a decrease in our physical, cognitive and sensory capabilities, this adds up to a lot of customers either excluded from or having difficulty using products and services ranging from new technologies to public transport.
From http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2016/03/inclusive-design.cfm, April 08, 2016

USA: JPMorgan Chase Kicks Off New Conference Accessibility Initiative
JPMorgan Chase & Co, in collaboration with the World Institute on Disability (WID), today launches its Conference Accessibility Initiative. Through this initiative, 10 of the largest community development and civil rights conferences in the United States, including the NAACP, National Fair Housing Alliance, National Housing Conference, National Urban League and the Corporation for Economic Development, will for the first time, be fully inclusive of people with disabilities and enable them to both attend and fully participate in conference sessions.
From http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160323006438/en/JPMorgan-Chase-Kicks-Conference-Accessibility-Initiative, April 04, 2016

Turning Smartwatches into Assistive Tech for Seniors
Smartwatches are more than high-tech fashion accessories for millennials, or the next wave of mobile devices for on-the-go consumers. They are also transforming the healthcare space, particularly for seniors. Innovative software developers are leveraging the sophisticated sensors in wearable devices to create solutions that help seniors age in place, while remaining continuously connected to the healthcare providers and caregivers who want to keep them safe.
From https://insights.samsung.com/2016/03/30/turning-smartwatches-into-assistive-tech-for-seniors/, April 04, 2016

The Next Big Tech Revolution Will Be In Your Ear
Sony recently released its first in-ear assistant, the Xperia Ear. Intel showed off a similar proof-of-concept last year. The talking, bio-monitoring Bragi Dash will be reaching early Kickstarters soon, while fellow startup Here has raised $17 million to compete in the smart earbud space. "I think the in-ear trend is the trend that could be the one for [voice] to have that ‘iPhone moment,'" says Jason Mars, assistant professor at the University of Michigan and codirector of Clarity-Lab.
From http://www.fastcodesign.com/3057483/the-next-big-tech-revolution-will-be-in-your-ear, April 04, 2016

Access Now Uses Crowdsourcing to Pinpoint Accessible Businesses
Imagine planning a night out with friends, calling ahead to a restaurant to make sure you have a reservation, and then finding out you can't get through the front door. It's a situation countless people with disabilities regularly find themselves facing — one a new app aims to make sure anyone with accessibility issues can avoid. The Access Now app was created in Toronto by Maayan Ziv, who says making sure she can access places in her wheelchair has become her life's work.
From http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/access-now-app-1.3467854, April 04, 2016

Blind Microsoft Developer Can 'See' Using Artificial Intelligence Headset
Saqib Shaikh is a software developer from London, England who is currently working for Microsoft on the firm’s Bing search engine. Shaikh lost his sight when he was seven years old. In the pursuit of the freedoms that sighted people all take for granted every day, Shaikh has been personally involved in the development of an application of Artificial Intelligence, cognitive computing, image recognition and mobile headset technologies. The image analysis processing, cognitive reasoning and speech intelligence in the device Shaikh uses allows him to ‘see’ the world around him in a way that was considered to be part of science fiction as recently as a decade ago.
From http://www.forbes.com/sites/adrianbridgwater/2016/04/01/blind-microsoft-developer-can-see-using-artificial-intelligence-headset/, April 01, 2016

Benetech Showcases Leading Edge Literacy Initiatives at 31st Annual CSUN Conference
Assistive technology — whether it’s a mobile app or a modified wheelchair — can transform the lives of people with disabilities. The latest in the field of assistive technology will be the focus of the world’s largest gathering of people who develop or use assistive technology, taking place at the 31st Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference from March 21-26 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. The “CSUN Conference,” as it is known in the industry, is organized by California State University, Northridge’s Center on Disabilities.
From http://bookshareblog.wpengine.com/2016/03/benetech-showcases-leading-edge-literacy-initiatives-at-31st-annual-csun-conference/, March 29, 2016

Canada: Affordable Braille Reader Launched
The new Orbit braille reader was launched last night at the Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference (CSUN) in San Diego, California. The Orbit braille reader is the first ever affordable refreshable braille reader that is portable. Until now, braille displays cost on average around $3,000, putting them out of reach for many people – not just in Canada, but around the world. In contrast, the new Orbit braille reader will retail for under $400, providing an important new option for people who are blind or or have low vision to access literacy at an affordable cost.
From http://globalaccessibilitynews.com/2016/03/26/affordable-braille-reader-launched/, March 29, 2016

Google Launches Accessibility Scanner for Android App Developers
Google has launched a tool that will help make Android developers apps more accessible for all users, including persons with disabilities. The company’s new Accessibility Scanner looks at any Android app and will call out aspects of it that could be improved, particularly for users with disabilities. The app will even suggest ways you can alter things for the better.
From http://globalaccessibilitynews.com/2016/03/25/google-launches-accessibility-scanner-for-android-app-developers/, March 29, 2016

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