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Robotic Wheelchair 'Sees' for Visually Impaired Users
You may not be able to control it with your mind, but this robotic wheelchair from Sweden's Luleå University of Technology can still offer something that only a few others can -- "sight." The chair uses a laser sensor to generate a 3D map of its surroundings, which is then transferred to an on-board haptic robot, allowing the bot to pick up on and navigate its way around any obstacles.
From engadget.com, May 18, 2011

Speech Technology Moves From Recognition to Understanding
I recently had the chance to talk with Larry Heck, Chief Scientist for the Speech at Microsoft group, which delivers Microsoft Tellme speech technologies across Microsoft products. Larry has been working on various aspects of speech technology since the late 80’s, and throughout his career he’s played a critical role in breaking new ground. Today he’s focused on the role speech can play in the emergence of more natural user interfaces (NUI).
From technet.com, May 18, 2011

UK: More Than Half of Non-Internet Users Are Disabled
Almost a half (48.3 per cent) of people who have never used the Internet are disabled, according to data published for the first time by ONS today. Over a third (35.9 per cent) of disabled people have never been online. This compares to only 11.9 per cent for people with no disability. Across the country as a whole, just over 8.7 million people (17.5 per cent) have never used the internet. More women than men have never used the internet, with just over 5 million women never having been online, compared with only 3.6 million men. Two thirds of those who have never used the Internet were aged 65 or over, while just under one per cent of those aged 16 to 24 had never been online.
From statistics.gov.uk, May 18, 2011

iSense Concept Makes iPad Accessible for Blind Users
The iSense is a cover that when placed on an iPad screen transforms text and apps into braille – allowing the blind to use an iPad. The iSense is made out of a light responsive material that contains molecules which transform into Braille when exposed to the light from the screen. The iPad would automatically switch to Braille when the iSense cover is placed upon the iPad’s screen.
From mactrast.com, May 18, 2011

Engineering Universal Access for Learning
Universal design usually means creating buildings that are physically accessible to everyone, with hallways wide enough for wheelchairs. But, in promoting ‘universal design for learning', we have to simultaneously confront the technological, social and psychological barriers to equal education.
From diverseeducation.com, May 17, 2011

May 17: World Telecommunication and Information Society Day
17 May marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union.The purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.
From itu.int, May 17, 2011

USA: Disability Convention Receives 100th Ratification With Colombia
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the first international human rights treaty of the twenty-first century. On 10 May, Colombia became the 100th country to ratify this Convention. In doing so, it joins the ranks of those countries that now support greater access, backed by their legal systems, for citizens with disabilities to fully participate in the lives of their communities, including the political process and health and education services.
From un.org, May 12, 2011

AT&T to Invest $1 Billion in Cloud and Mobility Solutions for Businesses
Dallas-based AT&T will target its investment strategy in five core areas, headlined by advanced mobility solutions for connected devices, including tablets, e-readers, laptops and other gadgets. In Q1 of 2011 alone, AT&T added 1.6 million emerging deices to its network. The company currently provides wireless service to more than 12 million connected devices and has seen the use of mobile apps on its network triple in the last two years.
From 4g-wirelessrevolution.net, May 11, 2011

UK: Thousands May Have Undiagnosed Autism
A survey conducted in England found that around 1% of adults met the diagnostic criteria for an autistic spectrum disorder. Autism covers a range of developmental handicaps, including Asperger's syndrome, which impair a person's ability to communicate with and relate to others.
From http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/, May 11, 2011

UK: Disabled People Stage Protest Over Spending Cuts
Organisers are calling it the Hardest Hit Protest, and say they want to send a message to ministers to scrap cuts. They object to cuts in disability living allowance, benefit changes and local service cutbacks. Ministers say the welfare system is failing people and that reforms will see benefits go to those who need them.
From bbc.co.uk, May 11, 2011

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