Technology companies have developed programs for smart phones, tablets and other mobile mini gadgets to help people with disabilities navigate our increasingly tech-dependent world.
The following five technologies have the potential to give greater independence to people with disabilities.
· Bar-Code Readers: Both Apple and Google offer apps which transform the smartphone into bar-code scanners. Users who are visually impaired can use their devices to identify items on a grocery shelf or in their workplace. Bar-code labels can be printed and affixed to items in the home.
· Refreshable Braille Displays: A team of researchers at North Carolina State University developed a display which can translate words and images into tactile displays.
· Wearable FingerReader: Researchers from the U.S. and Singapore have developed a FingerReader which vibrates when a finger strays from the line of text when connected to a laptop. The reader will help people with dyslexia and learning disabilities.
· Hover Detection/Onscreen Keyboard Augmentation: This allows mobile device displays to detect a finger before it touches the screen. The technology is still in the research stages, but Apple has a patent which has the ability to recognize common hand or finger movements such as the ‘okay’ sign. Samsung has a feature which allows users to enlarge letters without touching the screen.
· Mobile Device American Sign Language (MobileASL): Video telephony apps like Facetime and Skype have become popular over recent years. However, their downside is they use a lot of data. Researchers at the University of Washington and Cornell University have engineered a way to compress videos to take up less bandwidth and hence sign-language can be better used over mobile networks.
To learn more about the five mobile technologies which help level the playing field for people with disabilities, click here.