According to FEMA, each year approximately 17,500 people are injured and 3,400 die because of fire.1 There are dangers associated with fire for everyone, but people with disabilities face unique challenges in these emergencies. As FEMA notes, people with disabilities may have more difficulty escaping during a fire. In addition, some disabilities may prevent them from taking actions ahead of time without the help of a caregiver, friend or relative.2
The Flesky app for the iPhone makes typing easier by removing the need to hit each letter with precision. Unlike other auto-correct systems, Fleksy analyzes a wealth of data about a user’s typing and can detect the correct word to input even when someone misses every single key. In fact, the system is powerful enough to be useful even when the user is not typing within the keyboard area at all. The app is being used by people who are blind or who have low vision, but it is also beneficial to anyone who would like to be able to type without having to look at the screen as well as anyone who has had a hard time accurately hitting the small letters on a smartphone’s keyboard.
The Flesky keyboard also makes typing easier by replacing the function keys with simple gestures. For instance, users simply swipe left to right once to add a period to the end of a sentence, while a second swipe adds a space after the sentence. Getting rid of the function keys allows the Flesky keyboard to save space, so that each letter is 114% bigger than on the native iPhone layout. Users can send the text that they type in Flesky as an SMS message or email, or copy the text to use in another app on the phone.
Until recently, the only way for people to find out about accessible venues was through word of mouth or by reading usually outdated accessibility guidebooks maintained by local disability advocacy groups. AbleRoad™ is a new website and app that uses the power of crowd-sourcing to find a better way to connect people with accessible places. Anyone can use AbleRoad to easily locate, rate and review the accessibility of community places like restaurants, stores, hotels, grocery stores, salons, theaters, medical facilities and more.
It learns what’s in the picture, then describes it aloud
Facebook announced a new artificial intelligence technology on Tuesday that could help describe images to the blind.
Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) is a consulting and research firm, specializing in user experience and usability. NNG conducts research on design trends around the world, across industries, companies, and user types. They have a number of publications that provide simple design guidelines that anyone can follow to improve user experience and usability, including reports on user centered design methodology and reports for special audiences like senior citizens, children, teenagers, college students, and users with disabilities.
The report “Beyond ALT Text: Making the Web Easy to Use for Users With Disabilities” is offered for free on the NNG website.
At the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting, researchers from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School reported on a study that found that digital tablets improve reading speeds for people with low vision. The study was made up of two separate experiments. In the first experiment, 62 people read newspaper articles in three formats – a print version, a computer printout, and on an iPad. More than half of the participants had evidence of muscular eye disease. The study found that participants read faster on the iPad than with either the newspaper or computer printout, and this held true for both readers with standard vision and those with low vision.
In the second experiment, 100 people read a book chapter in three ways – in a traditional book, on an iPad, and on an Amazon Kindle. Participants read the chapter twice on each of the tablets, once at 12 point font and once at 18 point font. When using the iPad at the 18 point font setting, participants increased their reading speed by 42 words-per-minute faster than when reading the printed book. When using the Kindle at the 18 point font setting, participants increased their speed by 12 words-per-minute faster than the printed book.
The eye’s contrast sensitivity tends to decrease as people age, and contrast sensitivity loss is a common problem for many people with low vision. A loss of contrast sensitivity makes it difficult for readers to distinguish text from the surrounding background. The researchers speculate that the iPad’s backlit screen may be important in increasing reading speed and comfort for people with low vision, since it provides more color contrast and luminosity contrast than traditional printed materials. The Kindle used in the study did not have a backlit screen, although newer Kindle models with backlit screens are now available.
California has recently become the third state to legalize the use of self-driving vehicles. The new vehicles were created by Google, and are currently being tested for regulations and safety standards in Florida, Nevada, and California. Google proposes that the self-driving car will be on the market within the next 5 years. But what does this mean for disabled drivers?
These driverless cars could potentially provide a level of freedom for all disabled motorists, especially those suffering from vision impairments. Also, disabled parking issues could be a thing of the past, since these new rides would be able to drop off the passenger at the front of the venue, and park itself elsewhere.
A common concern is the potential safety of the vehicle. Google insists that due to the lack of human error, the computers responsible for driving the cars will never get fatigued or distracted. The cars have already been tested on over 300,000 miles of road without a single incident occurring.
This guide provides information about the accessibility of Google Apps for technical administrators, CIOs, compliance officers, and accessibility specialists for prospective and current Google Apps for Business, Education, and Government customers. Accessibility training personnel may also find the User resources sections useful in developing and delivering training to end users. The guide is designed to give readers a summary of accessibility information for Google Apps, help users understand the current state of accessibility for each supported application, and explain best practices for implementing Google Apps to support users’ accessibility needs. The guide’s primary focus is on the accessibility needs of blind and low-vision users.
Davey Winder has written a great article for PC Pro that explains how web designers can create websites that are more accessible for people with low vision. Winder suggests looking at webpages through a low vision simulator, in order to get an idea of how people with low vision experience the web. Winder also covers the importance of user configurability, or providing users with choices regarding color contrast and text size. Since color contrast preferences can vary widely from person to person it is a good idea to provide at least two high-contrast options; one that is dark text on a light background and another that is light text on a dark background. Users should also be able to configure the size of text and the overall design of pages should be relative so that pages can be widened or narrowed without excessive horizontal scrolling.
LookTel, which came out with the Money Reader app last year that helps the visually impaired accurately count money, has come out with a new app using the same technology to help people with vision problems to identify common objects.