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IT to the rescue again!!

Posted by: Dissol

Tagged in: Nokia , iPhone , Deaf Blind , blackberry , apps , android , Accessibility

Dissol

We live in fascinating times.  My work is as an access consultant, and as such I try to keep abreast of new developments for anything that may benefit people with disabilities.  It can be an almost full time job, just trawling the net for new ideas, and devices.

  • I have seen exoskeletons for people with mobility impairments (you will never know how much I WANT one of those!).
  • White canes for people with sight impairments, with radar fitted into the handle, which vibrates, and warns the users of objects ahead, even at head level.
  • GPS / bluetooth for blind users to navigate around a city.

Today I came across a small app which can be downloaded onto an Android phone.  This enables a deaf blind person to be able to receive SMS messages.  The phone vibrates when an SMS is received (OK, nothing too funky about that), but then it can translate the text into morse code vibrations, for the person to feel.  Now the total amount of people who will benefit (deaf blind people who know Morse Code, and own an Android phone), may be quite small, but it is this sort of technology that I get excited about.  It is a simple application using existing technology.  So therefore affordable.

But then I got to thinking...this is only for Android phones...  Nothing so far for Blackberry, Nokia, or iPhones...  And then I thought some more (Wednesday is a thinking day!), and realised that we have two incredible programmers on MyDL; MikeZilla & the Source, in Nokia, and Blackberry respectively...  So I wonder if they are up for the challenge, and to do the same thing for their platforms???  Is there anyone out there who could do the same for iPhones???

The only downside...just think how annoying spam would be to these people...

Comments (7)Add Comment
Doolally
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written by Doolally, July 20, 2011
yes this is an great advancement, maybe they will get a talking GPS into a phone too...smilies/wink.gif
Nita
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written by Nita, July 22, 2011
So they can receive the sms, how do they reply?
Ryc0v
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written by Ryc0v, July 22, 2011
@Nita I assume that they would have to use some form of braille keyboard. I doubt that any phones coming out in the near future have a braille keypad (although in terms of quirky/edgy functionality it could prove quite potent for marketing).
Dissol
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written by Dissol, July 22, 2011
Well, there are a variety of methods used if they want to reply. I have blind colleagues who can type using a phone's keypad (with voice prompts). Most keyboards (touchscreen exempt) are actually accessible. If it is a phone keypad then there should be a "dimple" on the '5' key. That enables a blind user to orientate themselves to the keypad. A computer keypad should have the same sort of thing on the 'F' & 'K' keys. Another option that may be used, which usually would mean that this latest technology is not needed is to use a portable refreshable Braille screen. Here, the text is converted onto Braille & this is represented by small plastic or metal pins coming through a series of holes, fascinating devices & these often have stenographer style keys below in order for the person to input text.

It is amazing how many people do not realize that keyboards have these built into then. Go on, are you one of them (I was until told!!). Have a look at all your keypads around your office / house. Almost all of them should have tactile assistance.
Nita
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written by Nita, July 22, 2011
Knew about the 'dimples' on the keyboard/keypad. That refreshable braille screen sound very interesting.

Wow, we have so much to be grateful for everyday.
MikeZilla
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written by MikeZilla, July 23, 2011
I'm no mobile app programmer unfortunately. I have been working on learning android app development in java for some time but don't think I'll be in a position to get anything to market in the near future. There are a few very good open source java txt to speech applications which i'm pretty sure could be adapted for mobile use. Definitely something I'll look into when I'm more proficient.
MikeZilla
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written by MikeZilla, July 23, 2011
ok txt to speech accessibility has actually been done very well by a few manufacturers the morse code in android is actually relatively easy to do, however most developers would never in a million years think of such a niche of a niche of a niche.

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