Resource: New Tech for 2019: A Wrap-up of the Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference – AccessWorld® – February 2019

New Tech for 2019: A Wrap-up of the Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference

Author: J.J. Meddaugh

Date Written: Feb 23, 2019 at 4:00 PM

Date Saved: 2/24/19, 10:59 AM

Source: http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pubnew.asp?DocID=aw200208

2019 looks to be a busy year for new products and innovations, as evidenced by the exhibit hall at the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) annual conference in Orlando. This year’s event was held January 30 through February 2 at the Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center and featured an array of devices from transportable video magnifiers to tech toys for kids and seniors. I’ve recapped some of the major highlights below. AFB AccessWorld also sponsored exhibit hall coverage on Blind Bargains, and links are included to audio interviews with text transcripts where appropriate.

The BrailleNote Touch Gets Refreshed

Humanware’s BrailleNote Touch has been a popular option for students and teachers since its release in 2016. But the hybrid touchscreen and braille keyboard device has been stuck on an outdated version of Android due to hardware limitations.

Humanware sought to modernize the notetaker with the announcement of the BrailleNote Touch Plus. It has basically the same shell and shape as its predecessor, but includes a faster processor, a USBC port for charging, and the Android 8.1 Oreo operating system. As Humanware’s Andrew Flatters explains in this Blind Bargains interview, moving to a modern version of Android allows Humanware to take advantage of up-to-date features such as the Chrome Web browser and the Google Assistant for voice commands. The unit also includes 4GB of memory and 64GB of built-in storage as well as support for more modern wireless and Bluetooth protocols.

Orders can be placed now for the BrailleNote Touch Plus in either 18- or 32-cell configurations, at $4,195 and $5,695 respectively. Current BrailleNote Touch users can upgrade to the new model, which will transplant the existing braille cells to a new unit, for $1,295.

A Braille Display of a Different Kind

The cost of a 32- or 18-cell braille display is still prohibitive for many people, so a company called BraiBook is offering an alternative idea with a product of the same name. The mouse-sized device includes a single braille cell and can be loaded with books in several formats. Characters are displayed in contracted or uncontracted braille a cell at a time, and the speed can be controlled using a joystick. A headphone jack allows the user to plug in an external headset or speaker to hear words as they are displayed. The small size and weight of the unit is its major advantage. But reading braille one cell at a time can be either tediously slow or nearly impossible, depending on the speed of the unit, potentially requiring a sharp learning curve. Priced at around $450, it faces an uphill climb against the likes of the Orbit Reader and BrailleMe, two 20-cell units available for about the same price. Hear more with an interview with BraiBook CEO Sébastien Lefebvre.

Magnified Options for People with Low Vision Revealed

There was no shortage of new video magnifying options on display at the conference. This year’s focus was on updates to what are often referred to as transportable video magnifiers, units that generally will sit on a desk but are light enough to be moved around if necessary.

Irie-AT is introducing the ReadEasy Evolve to the United States, a video magnifier that can capture an entire 11-by-17-inch sheet of paper in a single picture, useful for large items such as newspaper pages. Capturing is accomplished by moving the camera between two different mounting points. The lower camera hole is designed to read standard-sized paper, while the elevated slot is for larger documents. It was quick and painless to move the camera between the two slots. As for the actual reading of text, this was accomplished within about 4 seconds, though the company is working to make this even faster. Speech was clear using modern voices from the Vocalizer speech engine, and the optional keypad can be used for finer control. An optional monitor can be attached for users with low vision.

The 4-pound ReadEasy Evolve folds so it can be taken with you, and will run on an optional battery pack. The base unit is available from Irie-AT for about $2,000. You can listen to a demo with Irie-AT CEO Jeff Gardner who also talks about a new affordable braille embosser called the Braille Buddy.

Back over at the Humanware booth, two new and slightly heavier desktop magnifiers were announced, the Reveal 16 and Reveal 16I. Weighing in at a still transportable 13 pounds, Humanware is targeting these two models at two very different markets. The Reveal 16 is designed for seniors and elementary school students who desire a simple unit with basic controls. It features only four buttons: power, autofocus, zoom, and contrast. Images can be magnified from 1X to 45X and displayed in a variety of contrast modes. The camera can either point down at the base of the unit or be pointed outward for distance viewing.

Advanced users may prefer the Reveal 16I, which offers the same features as the basic model but adds a touchscreen, an OCR camera, and a fifth button, used for switching to an Android 7 tablet. Users of the Prodigi interface will be familiar with this mode, which can be used to read books aloud or run Android apps from Google Play.

Both models collapse and can be carried using an optional case. The Reveal 16 retails for $2,995 while the Reveal 16I sells for $3,995. Learn more with Humanware’s Eric Beauchamp who talks everything low-vision in this podcast.

A New Kind of Wearable

There weren’t as many wearables in the hall as in 2018, but Zoomax was showing a new take on the category. The Acesight is a lightweight headset that displays images using augmented reality. Individual screens are centered over each eye and display magnified images of what’s in front of you. This approach allows you to focus on what’s ahead of you while using your peripheral vision to see other items at the same time. Magnification is available in a variety of contrast modes from 1.1X to 15X. The Acesight will be available soon for $4,995. Learn more from Zoomax’s David Bradburn in this podcast.

Teaching Braille and Code to Kids

The American Printing House for the Blind was showing two products designed to teach important concepts to children who are visually impaired. BrailleBuzz is a toy designed for kids ages 2-5 to teach braille letters. The bumblebee-shaped toy includes buttons for each braille letter that announce the letter or its sound when pressed. A 6-cell Perkins-style braille keyboard is positioned below and will speak the braille letter that is typed, or play a sound if something besides a braille letter is entered. The BrailleBuzz is designed in the style of other audio-based children’s toys that teach basic letter and phonics concepts. It’s available now for $99.

Older kids may love Code Jumper, an educational toy collaboration between APH and Microsoft for teaching basic coding concepts. More and more kids are learning how to write code for computers or mobile devices, and many systems have been created to teach early foundations and concepts at a young age. Code Jumper is one of the first of these systems to be fully accessible for people who are blind or visually impaired.

The brains of the device are housed in the Code Jumper Hub, a Bluetooth device that will play back sounds or music based on what it is connected to. You may not be familiar with programming concepts such as loops, constants, or if statements, but the hands-on approach to the connected pods illustrates these and more to the most novice student or teacher. APH also plans on developing lessons for both teachers and students to complement the system. You can sign up for a waiting list to be informed when the product is released, likely later this year.

A New Guide for Seniors

Dolphin has completely rewritten the software it designed to simplify the Internet for seniors. The new GuideConnect allows you to read and write emails, listen to radio stations, read books, and browse the Web using a simplified interface. The Windows 10 software runs on computers, tablets, and can even be displayed on a TV using a customized set-top box and a remote control, similar to a Roku. The product will be available from Irie-AT in the United States starting at around $800, depending on options. You can listen to Gareth Collins talk about the benefits of the new software and other Dolphin developments in this podcast.

Conclusion

The ATIA conference was busier than in past years, and several major products were announced over the four-day event. We will continue to follow many of these products as they are released, and review some of them in future issues of AccessWorld. The CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, our next big opportunity to learn about new technology, moves to Anaheim this year and will be March 11-15. If you can’t make it, you can read about it right here.

This article is made possible in part by generous funding from the James H. and Alice Teubert Charitable Trust, Huntington, West Virginia.

Comment on this article.

More by this author:

Share

 

Copyright © 2019 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved. AccessWorld is a trademark of the American Foundation for the Blind.

Guest Post: Must-Have Blindness Related Assistive Tech Podcasts, February 1, 2019

Must-Have Blindness Assistive Tech Podcasts

As Determined by

GTT Participant’s

Revised on February 1, 2019

 

To stay in touch with the blind world of accessible and assistive technology GTT participants refer frequently to the following list of podcasters.  Some we go to just to hear what’s new, what’s coming, what does or doesn’t work, and some we go to when we want to learn how to do a task, set-up a device or how to use an app.  Either way, these are our collective go-to podcasts for your consideration.  Please don’t think that you have to agree, and if you have others not yet included in this list please share them and they will be included.  The list is alphabetical and not by importance.

 

Thanks goes out to those GTT participants who helped make this list a little more complete.

 

  1. Accessibility Moving Forwards Podcast, for interesting interviews and assistive technology presentations.
  2. Airacast with Jonathan Mosen, for interviews, Agent and Explorer features and news about Aira.
  3. AMI Audio Live, for blindness related radio programs on AMI Audio.
  4. AppleVis, for learning how to, and for the news related to all things Apple.
  5. AT Banter Podcast by Canadian Assistive Technology, which consists of interviews with interesting people in the blind and multi-disabled assistive tech worlds.
  6. Audio Pizza, by and for the Blind, audio reviews and tutorials on the things we’re passionate about. Assistive tech from Apple’s Mac & iOS to reviews of the latest bespoke devices.
  7. Blind Abilities, for learning how to, and for the news related to all things assistive tech.
  8. Blind Bargains Audio, for learning how to, and for the news related to all things assistive tech.
  9. CNIB, Blind Wide Open Podcast, for presentations and interviews about blindness. Kim Kilpatrick was featured on January 8, 2019 talking about GTT.
  10. CNIB, Venture Zone Podcast, which seems to be interviews with blind entrepreneurs
  11. Comments On, Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides, for learning how to use all manner of apps and devices.
  12. Cool Blind Tech, it has over 400 episodes available, and appears to not have added anything new since August 2018.
  13. Devon Wilkins operates three podcasts related to blindness, Guide Dogs and our first love, old time radio, and they are called: Insight Peterborough; Spotlight On Assistance Dogs; and Canadians in Old Time Radio.
  14. Double Tap, an AMI Audio Show dedicated to blindness assistive tech interviews.
  15. Eyes on Success, a weekly, half hour radio show / podcast covering a wide variety of topics of interest to the visually impaired.
  16. FS Cast by Freedom Scientific giving you all the news about JAWS, ZoomText and Fusion.
  17. IACast, Making Success Accessible!
  18. iHabilitation by Tom Dekker, which is an iOS training podcast offering paid training sessions along with some free episodes.
  19. InTouch, a BBC interview podcast dealing with blindness and low vision issues.
  20. Kelly and Company, an AMI Audio program that features some assistive tech segments, local reporting and other blindness related interviews.
  21. Main Menu, ACB Radio, for the news related to all things assistive tech and blindness.
  22. Mystic Access, for free tutorials, helpful hints and news about the online and home-study courses they sometimes offer on a fee-for-service basis.
  23. Parallel, Relay FM, an interview podcast featuring many experts and innovators in the blind/tech world by Shelly Brisban. She is the author of the series of books titled, iOS Access for All, and is herself vision impaired.
  24. RNIB Tek Talk, for news on the blind assistive tech world.
  25. Seminars at Hadley, for hour long presentations, discussions and interviews related to assistive tech.
  26. TedTalks, consisting of several separate podcasts related to Education, Health, News and Politics, Society and Culture, and Technology, which all must be searched for and subscribed to individually.
  27. Technology Podcasts, NCBI from Ireland, Working for people with sight loss.
  28. The Canadian Council of the Blind Podcast, just because I have a couple of episodes on there, and the CCB Health and Fitness program has many more than that.
  29. The Tech Doctor Blog and Podcast, which posts new episodes infrequently, and that is very good, all-be-it completely Apple ecosystem based.
  30. Victor Reader Stream Information, which is infrequently updated with new material.
  31. Woodbridge, David, iSee – Using various technologies from a blind person’s perspective, for learning how to use many apps and devices.

 

Thx, Albert

 

 

Thanks again to the people at Blind Bargains, developing a full page braille display.

A full page braille display?

Is it really approaching?

Posted by Kim Kilpatrick

Thanks again to the people at Blind Bargains for this article.

Many of us (if we are lucky enough to be able to afford one) have used refreshable braille displays with our computers and smart phones.

These displays are wonderful.

They allow me to read in braille what is on my computer or device.

If anyone wants help learning to use their displays, I am able to provide training with the following displays and notetakers.

Braille note

Braille sense

Focus braille displays

braille edge

Although these displays are wonderful, they only display one line of braille at a time.

For some things, this works well.

However, for math, for times when you need to touch the whole page at once to feel the lay out, skim over a schedule, etc, having more than one line of braille would be wonderfully helpful.

The refreshable braille cells are extremely expensive.

See the article below for a possible new development in this field.

Austrian Researchers Tackling Full Page Braille Display Challenge with BLITAB

A team of researchers has recently raised over $10,000 to create an alpha prototype for BLITAB, a full-page braille display project which has been in development for three years. The claim on the project’s page as the “world’s first tablet for blind people” is perhaps a bit misleading, but the project itself has some lofty goals. The BLITAB would include braille translation features as well as a GPS and support for obtaining information from NFC tags.

The project’s Indiegogo crowdfunding page describes the technology like this:

BLITAB is a next curve Braille device for reading and writing that displays one whole page Braille text, without mechanical elements. It is like an e-book which instead of using a screen displays small physical bubbles. They rise and fall on demand, composing a whole page in Braille code without any mechanical elements.
The project has received support from some major corporations including T-Mobile, Volkswagen, and 3M. The full-page braille display is a challenge that many have tackled, but to this point, no devices are available for retail. Perhaps the BLITAB will be the one to buck the trend.

Source: BLITAB
Category: News

No one has commented on this post.

You must be logged in to post comments.

Share this Post

Twitter
Facebook


http://www.blindbargains.com/b/12308

http://www.blindbargains.com/b/12308

 

Thanks to the people at Blind Bargains. New voices for NVDA screen reader.

New voices for NVDA screen reader

Posted by Kim Kilpatrick

I really love what the people at blind bargains are doing.

They have many interesting podcasts and interviews from technology exhibits for people who are blind and have low vision.

They also have a great app and very interesting articles.

Below is a great one I found from them about NVDa and some new voices you can get for it.

 

For those who don’t know NVDA, it is a free screen reader for windows computers.

Their web site is 

http://www.nvda.org

Here is the article.

Acapela Adds its Voice to the NVDA Screen Reader, Available Starting at 59 Euros

Acapela Adds its Voice to the NVDA Screen Reader, Available Starting at 59 Euros – Blind Bargains

Blind Bargains

Users of the free NVDA screen reader now have another option for obtaining enhanced voices. Acapela Group is now offering two voice packages, which both include a variety of voice styles and languages and work on up to three computers.

The basic package, which costs 59 Euros or about $67 in U.S. Dollars as of this post, includes what Acapela calls the Colibri voices, which are slightly more robotic but better at higher speech rates. Upgrading to the 99 Euro package ($112 USD) adds higher quality voices which may be more suited for reading books and longer passages.

The voices are available for a 15-day free trial and delivered as an NVDA ad-on.

Source: Acapela TTS Voices for NVDA
Category: News

No one has commented on this post.

You must be logged in to post comments.

Share this Post

Twitter
Facebook

Copyright 2006-2015, A T Guys, LLC.


http://www.blindbargains.com/b/12311

http://www.blindbargains.com/b/12311

 Using Voiceover screen reader and braille display.
Sent from my iPhone