USA: For Children Who Cannot Speak, a True Voice via Technology
Enrique has Down syndrome and speech apraxia, which means that he cannot speak, aside from a few grunts and “Ma” in the word “Mama.” He was able to speak to his brother, though, with an iPad loaded with the latest version of a widely used text-to-speech application, Proloquo2Go. “The voice now matches the boy,” said John Mendez, Enrique’s father. Until recently, devices that help children like Enrique speak used modified adult voices. The effect can be startling to those listening because it doesn’t sound like a child’s voice. Most existing children’s voices sound “like adults on helium,” said David Niemeijer, chief executive and lead developer at AssistiveWare, which developed the software Enrique tested.
From www.nytimes.com/2012/07/26/technology/evolving-technology-gives-true-voices-to-children-who-cannot-speak.html, August 22, 2012
USA: Talk Therapy an Option for Those Using Assistive Technology to Speak
When asked to work with patients who don't speak, but use assistive technology to communicate, psychologist Amy Szarkowski said yes. Szarkowski, of Harvard Medical School's psychiatry department and Children's Hospital Boston, works with many clients who are deaf and hard of hearing, so she had a lot of experience overcoming communication challenges to provide therapy. "We know the communication language is not perfect, so let's work around it," she said while presenting her work at the American Psychological Association's annual convention here earlier this month.
From blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2012/08/for_those_who_dont_speak_use_a.html, August 22, 2012
USA: FEMA Urges Attention to Persons with Disabilities in Emergency Preparedness
Nearly seven years after Hurricane Katrina exposed gaping holes in emergency planning, federal officials are calling on communities to bring people with disabilities to the table as they prepare for the worst. “It is of the upmost importance that people with disabilities are actively involved from the very beginning of these processes and every step along the way,” Marcie Roth, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s director of disability integration and coordination, told a group in New Jersey this week, according to the Asbury Park Press. Roth said communities need to consider a variety of needs ranging from physical accessibility to chemical sensitivities, among other factors.
From http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2012/08/17/fema-special-needs/16276/, August 22, 2012
Hong Kong Announces Multi-billion Dollar Plan to Improve Accessibility
A multimillion-dollar plan is under way to build elevators at footbridges and pedestrian subways to help elderly people and persons with disabilities. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced the scheme yesterday after visiting the St James’ Settlement’s Central and Western District Elderly Community Centre. He said work has already started at 10 locations in Southern District, Kowloon City, Sham Shui Po, Kwai Tsing, North District, Sha Tin and Tsuen Wan. In the first year HK$100 million will be spent, and this figure will eventually reach HK$1 billion to build all the 220 sites within a time frame of three years.
From http://globalaccessibilitynews.com/2012/08/22/hong-kong-announces-multi-billion-dollar-plan-to-improve-accessibility/, August 22, 2012
Voice Based ICT Software and Resources
There are many options in accessing MS Windows and MAC OS computers with voice. Either voice recognition (speaking into a microphone) or text to speech (voice output) need to be carefully researched and scrutinized. Some relevant resources are listed in this document with hyperlinks to the web sites where software can be downloaded as freeware, Open source or as trial copies.
From www.spectronicsinoz.com/blog/web-links/voice-based-ict-software-and-resources/, August 22, 2012
Emergence of Siri Personal Voice Assistant Trains Focus on Speech Recognition Apps
The emergence of the Siri personal voice assistant on Apple’s iPhone has brought a rush of interest to the area of speech recognition and natural language technology, and one beneficiary of that has been Ginger Software, a developer of speech technology that is today announcing a round of $5.4 million, $5 million of which will come from from two big-name backers, Li Ka-shing’s Horizon Ventures and Harbor Pacific Capital.
From http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/22/money-talks-ginger-software-raises-another-5-4m-led-by-horizon-harbor-pacific-for-speech-technology-apps/, August 22, 2012
USA: FCC Releases Eighth Broadband Progress Report
The nation has made significant progress expanding high-speed Internet access in recent years, but further implementation of major reforms newly adopted by the Federal Communications Commission is required before broadband will be available to the approximately 19 million Americans who still lack access, according to the FCC’s Eighth Broadband Progress Report.
From http://www.fcc.gov/reports/eighth-broadband-progress-report, August 22, 2012
NISO and DAISY Consortium Publish Authoring & Interchange Framework Standard
The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) and the DAISY Consortium announce the publication of the new American National Standard Authoring and Interchange Framework (ANSI/NISO Z39.98-2012). The standard defines how to represent digital information using XML to produce documents suitable for transformation into different universally accessible formats. The standard is a revision, extension, and enhancement of Specifications for the Digital Talking Book (DTB), commonly referred to as the DAISY standard (ANSI/NISOZ39.86-2005(R2012)). The DAISY Consortium is the Maintenance Agency for both standards.
From http://www.stc-access.org/?p=2553, August 21, 2012
UK: How Technology Helps the Elderly Stay Independent
As the population ages - an increasing number of elderly people will need care. Most people are resistant to the idea of going into a care home and would prefer to remain independent in their own house. Lara Lewington looks at how the latest technology can help elderly people enjoy their own home comforts for longer.
From http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/9745189.stm, August 21, 2012
Mobile Health: Using an App as Prescribed
The idea of medically prescribed apps excites some people in the health care industry, who see them as a starting point for even more sophisticated applications that might otherwise never be built. But first, a range of issues — around vetting, paying for and monitoring the proper use of such apps — needs to be worked out. Smartphone apps already fill the roles of television remotes, bike speedometers and flashlights. Soon they may also act as medical devices, helping patients monitor their heart rate or manage their diabetes, and be paid for by insurance.
From http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/20/technology/coming-next-doctors-prescribing-apps-to-patients.html, August 21, 2012