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Using a Haptic Device, Blind People Can See Microscope Images:
A team at Purdue University in Indiana has developed a haptic device that lets blind people feel images generated by a microscope. It has always been a huge undertaking to help the blind understand microscopic images. Sometimes, a sighted person just must describe it, which is problematic sense each description differs, and the blind person can’t always understand the description. Also, tactile images can be created and labelled in braille, but this is labor intensive and requires a sighted individual with the knowledge, time, and skill to do it.
This new device is a haptic feedback joystick that plugs into a computer that also has a microscope connected to it. It has been tested on red and white blood cells. The blind person navigates the cell with the joystick, and receives a pushback when encountering a cell wall, and different vibrations when hovering over different textured objects.
So far, tests have indicated that a blind person can identify the difference between a white and red blood cell more accurately using this device than by means of other methods.
Handheld Scanner Converts Text to 36Cell Refreshable Braille: Cost, About $100:
Six women, all undergraduate engineering students at MIT, won last year’s MakeMIT Hackathon by creating a device that can easily change the world for people who are blind.
They call themselves Team-Tactile, and they did something that should have been done a long time ago.
They created a device that is the size of a candy bar. It has a camera on the back, it runs OCR software, and it has 36cells of refreshable braille on the front. You just move the device, for now called Tactile, over printed text, and it is immediately displayed in braille on the front. Think about what an improvement this is over current methods of taking pictures, waiting for OCR software to convert to text, and then having to have a very expensive braille device connected to whatever you used to take the picture and convert to text.
The team only had 15 hours to create this device during the hackathon competition, and it only costs around one hundred dollars.
The problem in the braille display market is that no one has been motivated to create anything new and affordable. We are still using technology that is decades old, and the cost for these devices are in the thousands of dollars. It is about time that new options come to those who desperately need it. Only 10% of blind people can read braille, 70% of blind people are unemployed, and 80% of blind people who are employed can read braille. You do the math. Having easy access to braille material directly correlates to a more educated and productive blind community.
Orca 3.24 Screen Reader and Magnifier Has Entered Development: Public Preview is Available for Download:
Orca, the popular screen reader, and magnifier for Linux, has entered development in anticipation of the public launch of version 3.24 on March 23rd.
Version 3.23.4 is available now for testing, if you would like to get a head start on the new release. You can download it here.
Some of the improvements include:
• Better support for webpages
• Improved ARIA support
• Improved support for the LibreOffice office suite
• Improvements in handling the SeaMonkey mail client
The New ChromeVox Screen Reader for Blind Users of Chrome Books is Now Ready:
All Chromebooks released in 2017 will have the ability to run Android apps, some of the new Chromebooks have greatly improved specs, and now Google is also making improvements to its ChromeVox screen reader. Maybe it’s time to stop and take a serious look at Chromebooks again.
Here’s what’s new in ChromeVox:
We’ve made big changes to the Chrome OS screen reader known as “ChromeVox.” ChromeVox comes built-in with every Chromebook, and These changes are the result of important feedback from our ChromeVox users (and other lessons learned over the years). For now, the older version, now called “ChromeVox Classic” (“Classic” for short), will still be available, but because we’re so sure you’ll like this new experience, it won’t be for too long.
• The ChromeVox modifier key combo is now just the Search key .
• Easier jump commands, like pressing Search+H to jump to the next heading or Shift+Search+H to move back.
• Sticky keys work across the entire Chrome OS screen, including the shelf and status tray.
• Other commands also work everywhere, like Jump commands and ‘find in page’.
• A new caption panel displays speech and Braille output at the top of the screen.
• New menus list all the ChromeVox keyboard commands. (Press Search + Period.)
• New sounds (‘earcons’) identify key parts of the screen, page load progress, and more.
The TalkBack Screen Reader is Now Available for Android Watches, and it can be Enabled Without Sighted Assistance:
If you have a watch with a speaker, and you are running Android Wear 2.0, you can enable TalkBack by powering on the watch while holding two fingers on the screen of your watch. This is the same way you enable TalkBack on your phone. Currently, the new LG Sport and LG Style watches from LG and Google come already running Android Wear 2.0, but you will need to see if the watch you are purchasing comes with Android Wear 2.0, or can be upgraded to the new operating system.
From the developer:
Set up TalkBack on your watch
Turn on TalkBack from the initial setup screen or Settings at anytime. TalkBack set up is only available in English. After you finish turning it on, you’ll be able to choose from other languages.
Turn on TalkBack when connecting your watch
• Press the power button on the side of your watch to wake it up.
• . Press two fingers onto your watch’s screen until you hear a sound. The sound means TalkBack has been turned on.
• . Then follow the onscreen instructions to finish setup.
Note: TalkBack will be available in other languages after you finish the set up.
Turn on TalkBack anytime
The following steps require sighted assistance.
• . Press the power button on the side of your watch to wake it up.
• . Swipe down from the top of the screen.
• . Tap Settings Settingsand thenAccessibilityand thenTalkBack.
• . Turn the switch to On.
• . Follow the onscreen instructions and agree to any permissions.
After you turn TalkBack on, text to speech will take a moment to start up. Please be patient. You’ll know TalkBack is turned on when you hear text-to-speech feedback.
Navigating with TalkBack gestures
For all gestures, use a single motion, a steady speed, and even finger pressure. Most gestures on Android Wear are similar to the main TalkBack gestures, except for the following:
Put watch to sleep
Place palm over screen
Back or dismiss
Two-finger swipe right
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BrailleBack is an Accessibility Service that helps blind users make use of braille devices. It works together with the TalkBack app to give a combined braille and speech experience. This app lets you connect a supported refreshable braille display to your device via Bluetooth. Screen content will be presented on the braille display and you can navigate and interact with your device using the keys on the display. It is possible to input text using the braille keyboard.