Innovative technology for the visually impaired


Access to engineering provides people with many varied chances and resources – amusement, concern, instruction, and societal interactions, merely to call a few. As sighted people, we take for granted the engineering that allows us to voyage our manner around the Internet, play computing machine games, and utilize a huge array of package and hardware plans on a day-to-day footing. But what if we could non see the screen? Or the mouse? Or our keyboard? Our entree to these engineerings would all of a sudden go really limited. This paper will research some of the new innovations and engineerings that can assist the visually impaired overcome the barriers that limit them in this country.

When the Internet was foremost developed, it was chiefly text-based, and visually impaired users could still entree it with comparative easiness with the usage of screen readers and screen magnifiers. But with the debut and development of the graphical user interface ( GUI ) , the face of computing machine engineering changed. No longer was text every bit of import as what you could see and hear – the accent became presentation instead than content. For those with good vision, the computing machine has become a fast-action, exciting topographic point, full of pictures, sound, life, and amazing artworks. The visually impaired, nevertheless, are happening it progressively hard to to the full entree and voyage this new type of engineering. [ 1 ]

One of the most hard facets of this new sort of engineering for the visually impaired to get the better of is the usage of artworks, and most of the research and new technological “ discoveries ” were on this topic. If you ca n’t see the screen, you do n’t cognize where the mouse is or where icons are located. Besides, even if you do pull off to hit something, you have no thought where you are or what you are supposed to make when you get at that place! Another job with artworks is the usage of tabular arraies and graphs in paperss and research articles. Even with address recording equipments, it is about impossible to do sense of them if you ca n’t see them!

In his article “ The Rise of the Graphical User Interface ” , Alistair Edwards negotiations about the development of versions that would let a visually impaired computing machine user to voyage his screen by sound. One of the first plans to come along was Outspoken. In this Macintosh plan, whatever the pointer was on was spoken aloud, and the user could voyage with the mouse or the computer keyboard. [ 2 ] Since so, there have been many betterments, particularly in the country of OCR-and speech-synthesis engineering. However, there has been really small advancement made in doing artworks more accessible. [ 3 ] Harmonizing to Martin Kurze, “ it is a really ambitious undertaking to happen non-visual presentation methods for the nonsubjective usage of a in writing ; but it ‘s even more ambitious ( and at least as of import ) to happen such methods for the intrinsic facet ” . [ 4 ] This is why Anthony Pash suggests that an accessible Web page for the visually impaired should non incorporate any picture cartridge holders, life, tabular arraies, graphs, frames, etc. that are hard even for screen readers to decode. [ 5 ] However, there are some promising, if non complicated, ways for the visually impaired to hold entree to graphical information. In his paper “ Guidelines for Blind People ‘s Interaction With Graphical Information Using Computer Technology ” , Martin Kurze, a foremost research worker in this country, describes a double system whereby entree to graphical information can be obtained. It involves two stages – a sighted individual supplying the theoretical account of the displayed ocular graphic in stage one, and the unsighted individual exploring/interacting with/experiencing the artworks. [ 6 ] It is a long, drawn out, and rather proficient process, which would be a definite disadvantage for its widespread usage at this point.

There are, nevertheless, many other orderly things that have been developed to let the visually impaired individual greater entree to engineering. For illustration, blind pupils analyzing math and scientific disciplines now have entree to new and improved Braille systems that allow them to prosecute their classs of survey with much greater efficiency and easiness. The GS8 system is one such system. Physicist John Gardner was struck with sightlessness in 1987, and discovered the difficult manner how hard the old Braille linguistic communication was to utilize for math. In standard Braille, symbols for asset, times, or peers must be spelled out, and Numberss are made up of both figure and missive symbols. He and his co-workers developed the GS8 Braille Code to assist cover with this job. Other research that they are working on includes developing a package plan that can read complex proficient stuff utilizing tone alterations to assist the blind visualize equations. [ 7 ]

Of class, surfing the Web, or making complicated math jobs are non the lone ways that visually impaired people use engineering to heighten their lives. There are some really new discoveries in the development of “ assistive engineering devices ” for those with disablements, such as the first-ever Pocket Personal computer for those who are blind. This engineering was developed with the cooperation of Freedom Scientific and Microsoft, and is called the PAC Mate. It enables the visually impaired user to “ hear ” paperss, images, and Web content, and besides includes the ability of the user to take notes, maintain path of assignments, and download any information that is required. [ 8 ] Another new merchandise that will profit visually impaired pupils is the TestTalker, besides developed by Freedom Scientific. TestTalker is a package plan that allows these pupils to take trials, make full out worksheets, and generate survey stuffs electronically. It besides enables the instructor to fix stuffs and tests that are “ user friendly ” to visually impaired pupils. Other technological progresss for instructors and their visually impaired pupils are the new and improved Braillers and Internal Speech Synthesizers. Two of the most recent ascents are to the VersaPoint Duo and the Braille Blazer. There are besides Notetakers such as the Braille Lite M20, which includes a 56k modem, e-mail capablenesss, word processing, speedy one-key demands, and adjustable address synthesist. The lone disadvantage here is that these engineerings are really expensive, and budgets may non let for them in some schools.

The most common engineerings used by the visually impaired are screen magnifiers, screen readers, and Refreshable Braille tablets. Screen magnifiers do merely that – amplify what is on the screen so that those who still have some sight can see it. Screen readers give hearable hints and will really read what is on the screen wherever the pointer is. Refreshable Braille tablets work in a similar mode to screen readers, except that the text is converted into Braille alternatively of address. This enables the user to scan full subdivisions of a papers easy, alternatively of holding to listen to it read easy one word at a clip. Once once more, the disadvantage to these plans is that they are expensive, with the Refreshable Braille tablets exceeding out at between $ 8,000- $ 15,000 US.

There are many other new or upgraded engineerings available to the visually impaired, such as Triangle, which is intended for usage by print-impaired pupils and professionals in the Fieldss of scientific discipline, technology, and math, and DotsPlus, which is an upgraded signifier of Braille that is similar to the GS8 system mentioned earlier in this paper, but it would be impossible to depict them all. The engineering is decidedly out at that place, and bettering all the clip.

In a sense, I feel that engineering can be the agencies by which people with all sorts of disablements can be empowered to prosecute callings in about any field, and to take advantage of every accomplishment and endowment they possess to go peers with non-disabled people in the schoolroom, the workplace, and the place. Hopefully, Microsoft and other large engineering companies will go on to take the demands of people with disablements such as sightlessness into consideration when they are developing their new plans, contraptions, AIDSs, and devices.


Edwards, Alistair D. N. ( un-dated ) . The Rise of Graphical User Interface. University of York, Department of Computer Science.

Freedom Scientific Newsroom. ( 2002 ) . info @ FreedomScientific.comKurze, Martin ( 1995 ) . Giving Blind People Access To Graphics ( Example: Business Graphics ) ; In: Proc. Software-Ergonomie ’95 Workshop “ Nicht-visuelle graphische Benutzungsoberflachen ” ; Darmstadt 22.02.1995 1995, 17 pages.

Kurze, Martin ( 1995 ) . Guidelines for Blind Peoples Interaction With Graphical Information Using Computer Technology. Blindness Resource Center – Research and Innovation.

O’Brien, Miles ( 1995 ) . Correspondent, Cable News Network, Inc. Technology.

Pash, Anthony ( 1998 ) . Network Notes # 52. ISSN 1201-4338, Information Analysis and Standards, National Library of Canada.

Scadden, L. ( 1984 ) . Blindness in the Information Age: Equality or Irony? Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness 78: pp. 394-400.

[ 1 ] Pash, Anthony. Network Notes # 52, National Library of Canada, 1998.

[ 2 ] Edwards, Alistair. “ The Rise Of The Graphical User Interface ” University Of York ( no day of the month ) .

[ 3 ] Kurze, Martin. “ Giving Blind People Access To Graphics ” , 1995.

[ 4 ] ibid.

[ 5 ] Pash, Anthony. Network Notes # 52.

[ 6 ] Kurze, Martin. “ Guidelines For Blind People ‘s Interaction With Graphical Information Using Computer Technology ” . Blindness Resource Center – Research and Innovation, 1995.

[ 7 ] O’Brien, Miles, Correspondent. CNN, Inc. Technology, 1995.

[ 8 ] Freedom Scientific Newsroom, October 2002. info @