Adjust text size:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is now available with just a click. Bookshare, the digital library for people with print disabilities, is making it easier to read copyrighted digital books online. Instead of having to download books or use separate software, Bookshare members can use the new Bookshare Web Reader to open and read books with a web browser such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox and IE 9. Check out the video here. A good reason to use Chrome is that it lets users read books multi-modally, with word-by-word highlighting and text-to-speech. All of the browsers allow for adjustments in font size, colors and display format. The Bookshare Web Reader is currently optimized for members with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, or low vision. The nonprofit also launched Bookshelf, which helps teachers and individuals organize textbooks and assigned reading on a digital bookshelf. Users can organize Bookshelves by any system they want, such as by interest or author, saving time. ... keep reading »
There’s no doubt that in most respects, the Internet is the ultimate equalizer for the blind. It opened a new world to me when I first logged on in 1993. While it was a great source of info and an easy method by which I could shop for music CDs, I didn’t use the Internet as an employment vehicle until seven years later, when I got a part-time job at All inPlay making accessible online games, like poker, for both blind and sighted users. When the job at All inPlay ended in 2009, I thought about what else I could do. Finding a job during the recession proved difficult. I had experience with marketing, writing and public relations, and I knew I had the skills to succeed as a writer, but I had no idea how to take the first step. I had heard about virtual outsourcing sites, which many businesses use ... keep reading »
Yesterday I downloaded a new app for my iPhone. The Google eBooks app was free; it took two minutes to find it in the app store and download it onto my iPhone, and another minute to move it to the folder I labeled “Books.” Then, it took me all of another five minutes to go to the Google eBookstore and find and pay for Life, On the Line, a book about a chef who lost his sense of taste. I have been longing to read this book since hearing the author, Grant Achatz, interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air program last March. Thanks to new technology, in just minutes I am now able to do what might have taken months, if not years. I can now find, purchase and “read” books online just like anyone else who has 100% vision. All of this is made possible by VoiceOver, the iPhone’s built-in text-to-speech screenreader ... keep reading »
Finding a loaf of French bread and a wheel of Camembert could get a lot easier for people with disabilities. French supermarket chain Casino is testing the potential of chip-enabled smartphones that would make grocery shopping easier for people who are blind, visually impaired or have a physical disability. Casino is working with The Vision Institute, a research hospital in Paris, to experiment with Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, which lets mobile device users wave a phone over a short-range wireless receiver or tap the device to get information or make a purchase. If successful, NFC tags in Casino stores would show and speak product information, such as price, ingredients and nutrition values. The chain is expected to begin a live trial in 2012. NFC has potential for all mobile device users. It can create a digital wallet that replaces everything from credit and debit cards, reward cards, coupons, tickets and transit ... keep reading »
Finding a loaf of French bread and a wheel of Camembert could get a lot easier for people with disabilities. French supermarket chain Casino is testing the potential of chip-enabled smartphones that would make grocery shopping easier for people who are blind, visually impaired or have a physical disability. Casino is working with The Vision Institute, a research hospital in Paris, to experiment with Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, which lets mobile device users wave a phone over a short-range wireless receiver or tap the device to get information or make a purchase. If successful, NFC tags in Casino stores would show and speak product information, such as price, ingredients and nutrition values. The chain is expected to begin a live trial in 2012. NFC has potential for all mobile device users. It can create a digital wallet that replaces everything from credit and debit cards, reward cards, coupons, tickets and transit ... keep reading »
Picture this: You fly off to Rome, head to the Coliseum and, using your iPhone, play a video that guides you around the ancient arena where gladiators and lions once roamed. Later, walk across Piazza del Colosseo to the Roman Forum and view a video tour of the sprawling Forum ruins, taking in what was once the center of ancient Rome. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, you can turn on the captioning feature. This vision will soon be a reality, thanks to Keen Guides, an up-and-coming Virginia-based company that’s in the process of creating and selling short-format GPS-based video and audio tours for the iPhone and later, BlackBerry and Android phones. These tours — available in app stores — will focus on museums and popular tourist attractions; your phone can recognize the ones nearest to you. Best of all, Keen Guide’s audio and video content will be captioned for ... keep reading »
Two entertainment behemoths, a global tech firm, and a start-up social media company are the recipients of the American Foundation for the Blind‘s 2011 Access Awards, which were announced Tuesday. The companies were honored for their bold and successful strides toward creating new standards of accessibility and a better quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired. “Each of this year’s Access Award winners displayed a real commitment to making sure their products and services are equally accessible to everyone. And with the growing number of people with vision loss, focusing on accessibility is not only the right thing to do, it’s also a savvy business decision, says Carl Augusto, AFB’s CEO. The winners include Accessible Twitter, created by Dennis Lembree, an alternative version of the popular online social network. The website corrects the inaccessibility of the original Twitter.com design. Twitter users can go to the Accessible Twitter ... keep reading »
What do you get when you cross these three people: A data analyst who has a son on the autism spectrum, a Chief Science Officer who is grounded in behavioral analysis studies, and the brainchild of the animated cartoon Rugrats? TeachTown: Basics 2.0, that’s what. TeachTown bills itself as providing “exceptional activities for exception children,” and it largely lives up to its promise. Geared toward individuals in the age 2 to 7 developmental range with autism and other special needs, TeachTown offers more than 800 instructive on and offline lessons that are fine-tuned to the needs of those with autism, a complex neuro-developmental disorder defined by impaired social interaction and affected 1 out of roughly every 150 births. PLATFORM FOR PARENTS Split into six “learning domains,” the animated world of TeachTown and its inhabitants convey concepts like basic math skills, language development, and interpersonal and life skills. In practice, these areas ... keep reading »
Sorenson Communications has announced two products that will help deaf people who sign to communicate with their deaf and hearing friends on the go. The products, ntouch PC and ntouch Mobile, turn laptops and cellphones into videophones with the same Video Relay Service technology now used by deaf individuals to place calls. With Video Relay, a deaf caller can face the video screen and sign a conversation to a hearing operator who also knows sign language, who “relays” the information verbally to the hearing caller and vice versa. Sorenson’s hope is that calllers will be freed from having to sit at home using their proprietary videophone, VP-200, to make calls. A person using ntouch mobile. Photo courtesy of Samuel Sandoval, DeafTechNews Sorenson has a lot to gain from ntouch. As the largest provider of video relay services, Sorenson reaps funds from the government to provide video relay services. The Federal Communications Commission requires ... keep reading »
At the 2011 Assistive Technology Industry Association conference in Orlando, assistive technology vendors could be found at their booths showing off mobile versions of their best-selling products. As smartphones and tablets continue to peform well as assistive tools for people with disabilities, vendors have their work cut out for them. Some of the apps were exact replicas of their traditional products, while others took a different spin — bringing something entirely new to the marketplace. Here are a few that stood out: Benetech, the parent nonprofit for Bookshare, announced Read2Go, a new accessible e-book app for Apple devices. Read2Go is a  full-featured DAISY reader; DAISY is a digital audio format that is specially designed with a navigation feature for those with vision loss, physical or learning disabilities who cannot read printed media. From within the app, users can search, download, and read Bookshare books and periodicals with the use of Acapela, which is a high-quality and naturally sounding text-to-speech ... keep reading »

Twitter