News Archive

The Braille Nature Trail & Sensory Garden Directory

Posted June 24, 2017 By Lee Learson

According to the World Health Organization, about 285 million people adults and children worldwide are blind or visually impaired. Navigating the outdoors is challenging for the visually impaired, and Braille trails and Sensory Gardens offer sustainable opportunities for increased mobility and access to nature.

Nature for All has launched a new website to bring outdoor experiences to the blind and visually impaired. This website provides locations and information about Read the remainder of this entry »

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Wearable EMG Assistive Technology

Posted June 22, 2017 By Lee Learson

Reprint from Wearable Technology Insights 

NeuroNode is the world’s first wearable EMG assistive technology device developed by Control Bionics. It gives those with ALS/MND, spinal cord injury, or any other condition causing paralysis and loss of speech a connection to the world. The NEURONODE uses the body’s bioelectric EMG (electromyographic) signals to completely control a computer to generate speech, browse the web, listen to music, and more. It is resistive/augmentative communication (AAC) technology that is easy to use and works for conditions like ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), MND, SCI, or cerebral palsy.

EMG, or “electromyography,” is the measurement of electrical activity associated with the activation of a muscle group as detected by non-invasive electrodes on the surface of the skin. EMG signals have been used in clinical and research settings since the 1980s for things like diagnosis of neuromuscular diseases, rehabilitation, and controlling prosthetic devices.

It has taken more than 11 years developing EMG technology as a communications channel for people with severe paralysis. EMG technology is most promising because it taps directly into the available controllable signals being sent from the brain to muscles, even if they are not detectable physically. The NeuroNode can detect and amplify Read the remainder of this entry »

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The Reeve Foundation has awarded seven grants focused on exceptional access to assistive equipment and technology, totaling to $520,996.  Massachusetts, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Illinois, Virginia and Kentucky have received support for their innovative assistive technology programs. For details….. read on Read the remainder of this entry »

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Reprinted from AbleGamers Charity

We utilize fun to bring inclusion and improved quality of life for people with disabilities through the power of video games. 

With a combination of technologies such as mouth controllers, eye gaze, and special custokids playing video game mized controllers, we find a way for people to play video games no matter their disability. When our accessibility experts give assessments to determine the right set of equipment for each individual, we’re using the latest, bleeding edge technology to bridge the gap between ability and desire.

How We’re Making Fun… Read the remainder of this entry »

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ABLEnow, the Virginia-sponsored ABLE savings program, opened for nationwide enrollment in late 2016. Virginia is among the first states in the country to open an ABLE program for eligible individuals living with disabilities.

 
On November 1, the State of Michigan launched its “MiABLE” program. MiABLE is a part of a national program each state is supposed to launch, offering enrollment to qualified individuals with disabilities both in Michigan and throughout the country. MiABLE allows qualified individuals with disabilities to save up to $14,000 a year in an ABLE account without jeopardizing their eligibility for Read the remainder of this entry »

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By Aviva Rutkin

No braille? No problem. A new device lets blind people read by popping a miniature camera on their fingertip.

To read printed material, many visually impaired people rely on mobile apps like KNFB Reader that translate text to speech. Snap a picture and the app reads the page aloud. But users sometimes find it difficult to ensure that their photo captures all of the text, and these apps can have trouble parsing a complex layout, such as a newspaper or restaurant menu.

figure1b“We want to empower end users to accomplish these activities of daily living through technology,” says Jon Froehlichat the University of Maryland.

Froehlich and his colleagues have developed a device, nicknamed HandSight,  that uses a tiny camera originally developed for endoscopies. Measuring just one millimetre across, the camera sits on the tip of the finger while the rest of the device clasps onto the finger and wrist. As the user follows a line of text with their finger, a nearby computer reads it out. Audio cues or haptic buzzes help the user make their way through the text, for example changing pitch or gently vibrating to help nudge their finger into the correct position. Read the remainder of this entry »

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NASA Internships for Students with Disabilities

Posted November 7, 2016 By Lee Learson

NASA is looking to increase the number of students with disabilities pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers through their regular internship programs. This is not a program for students with disabilities.  NASE is trying to recruit more students with disabilities into their regular internship programs. Disability means both physical and mental disabilities. Internships are a good way to get real-world experience. However, this is not an employment program. NASA jobs can be found at <http://www.usajobs.gov>. Students can apply for Summer 2017 internships now! The deadline for submitting applications will be Wednesday, March 1, 2017. NASA will begin extending offers to students in mid-to-late January and will continue until all positions are filled. If you would like to subscribe to an announcement-only list about NASA internships for persons with disabilities, please send an E-mail to nasainterns-request@freelists.org with ‘subscribe’ in the Subject field, OR by visiting the list page at http://www.freelists.org/list/nasainterns. Read the remainder of this entry »

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More and more government services are going online, but if the website isn’t accessible to people with disabilities, then millions of Americans are being excluded from vital civic services.

by Kevin Rydberg; GT (Government Technology) www.govtech.com 

Unplug your mouse. Now, try to log into your website and use your keyboard to navigate — try to fill in a form or download a document. How did that go? If you were on one of thousands of state, county or city government websites that are not accessible, it was probably quite a challenge. For reasons of practicality and efficiency, more and more government services are going online. But if the website is not accessible to people with disabilities — the country’s largest minority population — then millions of Americans are being excluded from vital civic services. Why Web Accessibility Matters… Read the remainder of this entry »

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BeSpoke™ Voices for Millions Who Cannot Speak

Posted August 26, 2016 By Lee Learson

VocaliD Launches First Personalized Digital Voices for Assistive Devices Company.

BELMONT, Mass/PRNewswire/ — VocaliD, Inc., a speech technology company that creates personalized digital voices for those living with voicelessness, launched its online BeSpoke™ voice studio.  The announcement was made at the Biennial Conference of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) in Toronto.

Supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, VocaliD’s innovation is based on a discovery by Founder and CEO Dr. Rupal Patel and her colleagues that even a single vowel contains enough “vocal DNA” to seed the voice personalization process.

The BeSpoke™ process captures a recipient’s unique vocal identity and blends it with recordings from a healthy speaker — matched by gender, age and accent — within the company’s Voicebank of 14,000+ contributors. This blended voice is then used in the recipient’s electronic communications device — creating a BeSpoke™ voice. Read the remainder of this entry »

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Facebook launches “Automatic Alternative Text”

Posted April 6, 2016 By Lee Learson

Social media platforms may be a great way of telling the world about your life, but not everyone can appreciate these moments in full.

Facebook is launching “automatic alternative text”; a tool that uses object recognition technology to identify and describe an image, so that visually impaired and blind people using screen readers will be able to hear-and therefore visualize-what’s in a photo posted on the social network.

“With more than 39 million people who are blind, and over 246 million who have a severe visual impairment, many people may feel excluded from the conversation around photos on Facebook,” Facebook’s Shaomei Wu, Hermes Pique, and Jeffrey Wieland, said in an online post.

Before the announcement, screen readers would only be able to tell users who posted the Facebook post and that an image was uploaded.

However, the tool will now able to say what the image may contain, from simple objects like “car” to “three people, smiling, outdoors”. Currently, the software can identify around 100 types of objects and scenes, including those associated to nature, sports and transportation. Read the remainder of this entry »

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