Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Accessible Combination Locks

Many combination locks are hard to use for people who are blind or have cognitive challenges. Master Lock has a few locks that are more accessible then conventional combination locks.

The first is the 1500iD lock which can be opened without looking at the lock. Conventional combination locks use a number dial that makes it impossible for blind users to open the lock. The 1500iD also only requires one hand to open so people with physical disabilities can more easily open the lock.

The 1525EZRC lock is designed for people with cognitive disabilities. The 1525EZRC lock features easy to remember combinations. The 1525EZRC lock looks identical to other locks so your valuables will be kept safe.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What does iPhone 5 and iOS 5 Mean for Assistive Technology?

Mock up of possible iPhone 5 design

Apple's next iPhone is rumored to be announced in a couple of weeks. What will the new iPhone mean for assistive technology? The iPhone is a powerful tool for people with a variety of disabilities. It has built in text-to-speech, support for braille displays and much more. How will Apple's announcement effect you? Read on to find out.

At the event Apple will most likely unveil at least one iPhone with a faster processor, more RAM and a better camera. Apple may surprise us with more features as well, but we'll focus on those three. A faster processor means that apps will run faster enabling apps such as Read2Go and ZoomReader to work better and faster. The faster processor will also open the door to exiciting new assistive technology apps. A better camera will benefit people using OCR apps, magnification apps, money reader apps and much more. The new camera will be able to recognize text more accurately and magnify printed text with higher resolution. The new iPhone will run iOS 5 which includes many new accessibility features.

iOS is the most accessible mobile operating system to date and with iOS 5 it will get even better. iOS 5 will run on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Apple has said that iOS 5 will available in the fall. iOS 5 will include many new accessibility features to help make the device easier to use. Hearing aid compatibility will be built into the iPhone allowing people to hear the iPhone better. Another new feature allows users to select text and then have it read back to you using a built in text-to-speech voice. Another rumored feature will convert a users voice into text for easier text input. iOS 5 will also be able to use the iPhone flash as an indicator light which will be helpful to deaf users. Custom vibrations will allow users to set their own vibration patterns to quick identify who is calling. Yet another cool feature called assistive touch will help users with low motor still access their iOS device. To learn more about assistive touch click here. There are even more accessibility features coming in iOS 5. iOS 5 will include a feature for every type of user and will be a free upgrade. To learn more about iOS click here, here and here.

Apple's announcement will be many new exciting bring new assitive technology features to users. Click read more below to see a video about iOS 5. Stay tuned for more information about iOS 5 and the new iPhone.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Signed Stories Helps Deaf Children

Signed Stories is free service that provides sign and read aloud books. The books are signed for the deaf child and read aloud simultaneously for the non deaf parent or vice verse. There are many stories available for young kids. The stories can help parents who do not know sign language to read with their child who is deaf, or for deaf parents to have a book read aloud to their hearing child. Signed Stories are also helpful for kids learning sign language.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WikiSummarizer Gets New Features

WikiSummarizer is a free website that summarizes Wikipeadia articles. WikiSummarizer can summarize any Wikipeadia article in seconds. Recently WikiSummarizer was updated to allow users to view the summarized article in a visual tree view in addition to the old bulleted list visit. The new view makes it easier to gather key information from the summarized articles. To try WikiSumarizer click here. To learn about summarizing  iOS apps click here. To learn about Microsoft Word Summarizer click here. To watch a video of WikiSummarizer in action click read more below.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Many Google Services Become More Accessible

This week Google announced a number of accessibility upgrades for various services. Among the services that were upgraded were Google+, Google Docs and Google Calendar. 

The Google Docs and Google Calendar update improves their compatibility with screen readers. Now it is easier to use these services with VocieOver, Jaws and ChromeVox. Google Docs and Google Calender now have more keyboard shortcuts for easier navigation. To learn more about the upgrades click here and here. Google Docs and Google Calendar are free for anyone with a Google account.

Another Google service that received accessibly upgrades is Google+. Google+ is an invitation only social network. One of Google+'s standout features is hangouts. Hangouts is a group video chat feature that supports multiple friends. When chatting, Google+ recognizes who is talking and brings their video to the front of everyone else's screen. People that use sign language were previously unable to get the floor of a group chat. Because people who sign language do not make noise Google+ was unable to recognize that they were talking. The update in Google+ gives deaf users the option to press shift+s during a chat to get them self recognized.

To watch a video about Google+'s hangout feature click read more below.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Read2Go App Gets Updated

Bookshare's Read2Go app was recently updated with more features and better performance. If you are unfamiliar with Bookshare click here. The Read2Go app allows Bookshare members to download books directly their iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Once books are downloaded you can read them using built in text-to-speech. For more on Read2Go click here and here. One new feature in the update enables the app to handle larger books including text books. Another useful feature allows the audio to keep reading even if your device is locked or Read2Go is in the background. Yet another feature enables schools to transfer books to Read2Go via  iTunes. Read2Go is available in  the App Store for $19.99. Read2Go is a must have app for Bookshare members who wanted a portable way to read their books. To read the release notes click read more below.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Voice Recording in Office 2010 & 2007

A feature in OneNote 2010 and 2007 allows users to take audio or video content while taking notes. The feature allows a student to make an audio recording of a lecture while still taking notes. The audio or video notes are then available for playback from within the notebook. The audio and video notes are time coded and allow you to hear what  the teacher was saying when you wrote a particular sentence. The functionality is similar to the function of Word for Mac 2011 and the Livescribe pen. OneNote is included in  Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 and 2010. Watch the videos above to learn more.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

List of Free Assistive Technology

The National Center on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has a compiled a list of free assistive technology devices and services. To see the list click here. The list includes information about free text-to-speech, voice recognition, audio books, writing tools and much more. The list is perfect for parents, students and teachers looking for free assistive technology.