Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

The Blind Struggle As Gadgets Proliferate

Filed under
Misc

As technology has evolved, it's become lighter, smaller and more portable. For most people, that makes it more convenient. For millions of blind and vision-impaired people, it's anything but.

Jay Leventhal, who is blind, still fumbles with the tiny controls on his iPod but has given up on the kiosk in his New York office building that lists all the tenants.

For Leventhal, even laundry has become a task requiring the help of a sighted person. The washers he uses now take smart cards instead of quarters, issuing instructions on a digital screen that he can't read.

"The biggest barrier for blind people is access to information, and more and more information is being made available through different machines that aren't designed for people who can't see," says Leventhal, editor in chief of AccessWorld: Technology and People with Visual Impairments.

Blind people need a way to communicate with the machines that surround them, he says, from automated tellers to ticketing machines at train stations and airports.

Leventhal and other experts on assistive technology say there's no reason that can't happen. The technology exists in voice chips, image processors, cell phones, cameras and personal digital assistants.

Someone just needs to put it all together.

That's the principle behind the Levar Burton Vision Enhancement Technology Center, a fledgling venture in Morgantown, W.Va., that will pair the resources of West Virginia University and Georgia Tech with private-sector partners like Motorola Corp.

Levar Burton, who played blind Lt. Geordi La Forge in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," is lending his name and star power to fund-raising efforts for the center.

Though he's not blind, he wore a visor on the set that impaired his vision by 75 percent for nearly 12 hours a day.

The center and its partners will use off-the-shelf technologies like lasers, magnifiers and global positioning systems to develop, test and market products to help people see better. The American Foundation for the Blind, which runs a technology evaluation center in Huntington, W.Va., will advise the scientists.

Of the 18 million Americans with diabetes, for example, about 5 million are visually impaired.

But when Mark Uslan, director of the Huntington facility and his lab volunteers tested 30 brands of blood glucose monitors, they found only one that was usable - but it was 10 times larger and 10 times more expensive than the other models tested.

Mainstream companies need to consider the vision-impaired when designing products, Leventhal says.

"There's no reason for someone to have to make an MP3 player that's accessible to blind people when several companies are already making MP3 players," he says.

Though many assistive devices are commercially available for the blind and vision-impaired, each has limitations and nearly all are expensive, produced in small batches by specialized companies. Even a software program that makes a computer talk is nearly $1,000 - as much as the computer itself.

And with few health insurers willing to pay, sales are too small to justify significant corporate investment.

"That's why we've had to take this avenue," says Dr. Richard "Scott" Hearing, director of the Low Vision Clinic at Jupiter Eye Center in Florida and an adjunct faculty member at WVU. "If there were a lot of money to be made in this, someone would have already done it. ... It's not the cost of the technology that's expensive; it's the cost of adapting it for vision impairment."

A few companies are working on assistive technology, but one of the largest and oldest, Telesensory Corp. of Sunnyvale, Calif., went bankrupt and closed last month.

Jody Ianuzzi, program coordinator at a blindness training center in Florida, says cost is critical. Some people will find state programs to pay for devices, and others have employers who will buy them as a reasonable workplace accommodation. But for retirees and the under- or unemployed, she says, "one device could break the bank."

Hal Reisiger, president of Enhanced Vision Systems of Huntington Beach, Calif., says that's why his firm will partner with the Levar Burton Center; new products must be practical for the manufacturer, too.

"We could make flying saucers," he says, "but if people can't afford it, it's not an effective mode of transportation."

Hearing and others aim to keep costs low by designing not only assistive devices but also mainstream products with military and recreational applications.

Burton's Star Trek character is the inspiration for one of the most advanced devices on the market today, a set of goggles called JORDY, or Joint Optical Reflective Display.

It functions like two high-definition television sets, with controls over color, contrast and magnification.

But the JORDY is heavy, offers a limited field of view and lacks image stabilization, so it can cause motion sickness. And it costs about $3,000.

Paul Mogan, a legally blind electronic engineer at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, says JORDY is best suited to stationary tasks like reading. He wants to help create the next incarnation, special sunglasses linked to a wireless computer that can fit on a belt or in a pocket.

With a voice chip, GPS and image processors, the visor could serve as a sort of on-board navigation system for the blind, calling out hazards, announcing nearby shops, even reading signs that say what's on sale.

NASA has a compatible goal: The space agency wants a wearable wireless computer that would help technicians work independently outside a spacecraft.

"NASA has this initiative to go to the moon and Mars, and you're not going to be able to take a ton of crew, so you're going to have to be very efficient in what you're going to do," Mogan says. "All people have to be able to have access to a lot of information."

By VICKI SMITH
Associated Press Writer

More in Tux Machines

台中外送茶拿住肩井穴

面向年輕人的時尚服飾店、快餐食品店和游藝中心等鱗次櫛比的中心大道,作為年輕人時尚的發源地頗引人矚目。 她這時候才算想起來,她遭人暗算身隕之時援交,意識并非一下子陷入黑暗當中。屁股大T Shirt、板鞋、牛仔褲一向是香港街 頭最常見的裝束。 4、肌膚上使用柑橘類精油(如佛手柑、檸檬等)后四小時內請勿在陽光下曝曬。這個方法從理論和實際操作上似乎都有行 的通的理由。 如果無法確定,傷者又不能用足踝站立,就應該當作骨折處理足踝骨折的原因很常見如:1.踝關節向外側旋轉加翻轉傷找茶,這 種傷主要造成內外踝的骨折,同時可以出現下脛腓關節分離;。 2)、對陳舊的痘印、痘疤 ,請用中韓新生活的青果菜精華液堅持每天按摩20分,可以消除掉痘印 ;我用過外送茶,效果真的很 不錯哦!比其他的產品好。 有雙層蕾絲裝點的特超短裙 (135元),深藍色的褲子上布滿淺色的補丁(198元)反制衣革(Hack Workz和IF等其他站在 時尚前沿的歐美服裝品牌。 此外,可以口服各類清涼沖劑,如夏桑菊沖劑、金菊沖劑等對“清火”也很有效。收腹挺胸是保持步態美的關鍵,有節奏的向 前移重心。叫茶

Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Vivid Vervet Beta 1 Released, Ubuntu MATE Is Now Official Flavor


ubuntu 15.04 beta released with official release for MATE

Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet MATE Beta 1 released today with other flavors of Ubuntu like KDE, Xfce, LXDE and GNOME desktop environment. Although, as usual Ubuntu unity has not taken part in Beta release. And first time Ubuntu MATE is an official releaed.
 

Read at LinuxAndUbuntu