Navigating through airports was daunting. The wide-open unfamiliar spaces, the free-flowing and chaotic pedestrian traffic, the numerous shops and restaurants can make the airport experience uncomfortable for blind travelers.
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recently, the only way for people to find out about accessible venues was through word of mouth or by reading usually outdated accessibility guidebooks maintained by local disability advocacy groups.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.
But there are over 38 million Americans with severe physical disabilities, and not everyone is a Master Chef. So how does the rest of this population find ways to navigate the kitchen?
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.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota are developing an app that would assist people who are blind and visually-impaired cross the street, informing users which direction they’re going, and how many lanes they have to cross. The app will tell users the name of a street when they tap the phone and points in it the direction of the street. Users could request a walk signal by tapping the phone again, instead of having to find a button located near the intersection. The app will then tell the users when it is safe to cross, and how long they have to get to the other side.
Human Computer Interaction researcher Elke Folmer, based out of the University of Nevada, Reno, has developed an interior navigation system for people with little or no sight. Instead of relying on expensive sensing equipment or augmentations to the building in which the device is used, Navatar uses accelerometers, a low cost technology available in smartphones.
Indoor navigation is made more manageable by the infrastructure of the building. Users are limited by hallways and doors, and are less likely to veer as they would outdoors. Typically, to generate a precise layout of the area, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are used. These devices combine an antenna and compass into a small package for use with other technologies. However, they are very expensive to implement. Navatar uses what’s known as Dead Reckoning, a less precise but less expensive technology, in conjunction with a virtual rendering of the building being navigated, and the users’ confirmation of the presence of tactile landmarks as they navigate. Using a virtual rendering created by such products as Google’s Sketchup, a user can receive step by step navigation via their phones.
Tommy Edison, also known as “the Blind Film Critic”, posts movie reviews on hisYouTube channel that are filled with humor and charm. In addition to his movie reviews, Edison has also posted videos that illustrate how he navigates everyday activities as a man who is blind. For instance, the video below demonstrates how he uses Instagram on the iPhone 4S, using the iPhone’s VoiceOver accessibility feature. Some of the comments that viewers have left on Edison’s You Tube channel expression confusion over why a man who is blind would be interested in using Instagram. Edison clearly demonstrates that even though he can’t personally see the images that he posts, they are still a fun way for him to communicate with his sighted friends and followers. It serves as a an important reminder of the benefits of Universal Design and why designers should provide accessibility without making prior assumptions about who will or won’t be interested in using their product. Watch the video after the jump.