Footwear for the Blind: Bluetooth shoes
JUL 14 2012, 9:09 by A.A.K. ~ Mumbai
MORE than 285m people across the globe suffer from visual impairment.
Yet the tools to assist the blind in walking have changed little since the 1920s, when their canes started being painted white to make other pedestrians more aware of their presence. The gizmos that do exist have tended to be expensive and clunky, and have not caught on. This may change if Anirudh Sharma, a 24-year-old computer engineer from Hyderabad, a city in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, has his way.
His innovation, dubbed "Le Chal" ("take me along" in Hindi) pairs a smartphone app with a small actuator sewn inside the sole of one shoe via Bluetooth. The user tells the phone his desired destination, which is translated into electronic commands using voice-recognition software. The app, which can be programmed to run in the background, fetches the local map of the area. The phone's Global Positioning System (GPS) tracks the person's location in real-time, telling the actuator to vibrate when it is time to turn. The side of the shoe where the vibration is felt indicates which way to go. Mr Sharma opted for a vibrating signal because for the blind, who rely on their sense of hearing to make sense of the environment, audio feedback is a distraction.
The system does not require constant internet access. Once downloaded, maps can be stored locally and combined with GPS data. The app uses Open Street Maps (OSM), an open-source rival to Google Maps. OSM allows editing, a helpful feature in updating rapidly changing urban landscapes. A speed-dial function can rapidly retrieve the most frequently visited routes.
The shoe pod is also equipped with an obstacle-detection mechanism. A sensor in the tip of the shoe, devised by Mr Sharma's business partner, Krispian Lawrence, scans the vicinity using sonar, which emits ultrasounds that bounce off obstacles, indicating their presence. The shoe sets off a distinct pattern of vibrations to alert the person of any obstruction and guides him around it.
For now, the footwear, being tested at the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, one of India's biggest eye-health facilities, may be most useful in areas with little or no traffic, such as quiet residential streets or parks. The challenge, Mr Lawrence says, is to get the algorithm to tell an uncovered manhole from a flight of stairs, but he expects it to be able to do so in due course. Dealing with moving obstacles like cars may take longer, though the pair are working on ways to alert wearers not just about cars' presence, but also their speed.
To ensure that the final product resembles a regular shoe, fashion technologists are being consulted to help with ergonomics and design.
Mr Sharma and Mr Lawrence, who started a company called Ducere Technologies to commercialise their idea, say their high-tech brogues should not cost more than an ordinary, stylish pair. Many of the world's visually impaired will like the sound of that.
ZoomText 10.1 for Windows 8 is here, offering:
ZoomText is the first product on the market to fully support the Windows 8 platform, including crystal clear text at all magnification levels. Head on over to the website to learn more about all the new features or download a free 60-day trial to give it a try yourself.
Upgrades start at just $79 for Magnifier and $99 for Magnifier/Reader. Check out the upgrade page for complete information. You can also call us at (800) 859-0270 / (802) 362-3612 option #2 or email us with your current serial number to get a quote.
To clarify, ZoomText 10.1 is for WINDOWS 8 ONLY at this time. It's available electronically starting today and will be available as a physical shipped package in a few weeks.
Check out the following videos, showcasing everything that ZoomText 10.1 can offer:
Introduction to ZoomText 10.1 for Windows 8
Using Touch Screen Gestures in ZoomText
Note that some service displays will be combined when space is at a premium (particularly at Coorparoo).
For all those people who have an iPad and want to simplify the process of getting our library books, newspapers and magazines, here is the news for you. It has just become a whole lot easier to do!!! But please remember that there is no one perfect solution for all our clients. This one will be useful to some users. We encourage you to try it out.
The first step is to have the Read2Go app installed on your iPad. You can buy it at the Apple app store: www.read2go.org. If you already have the app please make sure it is the latest version. You will know if it isn't as this process won't work.
Then when you login to our catalogue on the ipad - go to http://i-accessonline.visionaustralia.org and select the “download now” option next to the title you want to download. It will download and give you an option of opening the file with Read2Go. That’s it.
Check out this brief YouTube library staff have just created: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXMvj_rhA-E. Captions and transcript are available.
There are also some great guides on how to use itunes etc at http://www.visionaustralia.org/living-with-low-vision/learning-to-live-independently/using-technology-and-computers/help-yourself!-technology-podcasts-and-resources/enjoying-audiobooks-music-and-podcasts
If you need further assistance to access library materials please call the Reader Services team at the library on *1200 (for internal staff use only) or 1800 005 965.
Please also note that all VA staff are eligible to join the library and use this service. We know that people who try the service tend to stay with it because of the immediacy of access, ease of use and the extensive range of newspapers.
Download or browse the catalogue: i-accessonline.visionaustralia.org
Follow the library on:
Our library in 15 seconds: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xjZS6-LUUc
National Manager - Information Library Service
Accessible Information Solutions
454 Glenferrie Road
Kooyong VIC 3144
The launch of Iris, the new digital station from Vision Australia Radio will take place at 11am on Thursday 14th April at Federation Square.
Iris will be launched alongside other new community digital radio services: 3RR, 3CR, 3KND, 3MBS, PBS, 3ZZZ, 89.9 LightFm and SYN. The Melbourne launch of community digital radio will take place in the Atrium at Fed Square, and be hosted by Brian Nankervis with Mayor Robert Doyle launching the stations.
This historic event will feature a short simulcast on all nine new digital services before The Morning Paper Round's Robyn Winslow and Stella Glorie (from TV Today fame) begins the first official digital broadcast, available on Vision Australia Radio (1179am) and via Digital DAB+ Radios on Iris Digital.
Australia’s only independent not-for-profit media access organisation, Media Access Australia, has launched its new accessible website, merging their sites mediaaccess.org.au and audiodescription.com.au. The site, designed by Doppio Design and built by OPC IT, showcases innovative design and the latest web technologies while meeting international standards for web accessibility.
The website is a key source of news on media access developments and practical information and resources on access to media, particularly for people who are blind, vision impaired, Deaf and hearing impaired. The site focuses on access to television, DVDs, digital technology, online media, cinema and the arts and access in the classroom.
CEO of Media Access Australia, Alex Varley said, “Media Access Australia’s core business is about accessibility. We are out there talking to the community, to business and government about the need for accessible websites and our new site shows it can be achieved. Many people won’t see the accessibility features and that is the point. They are there for the people that need them and you don’t need to put a big label highlighting an accessibility feature, it is part and parcel of standard website design which includes everybody.”
Accessibility has been at the forefront of the new website’s design, development and testing. The site has been built to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 level ‘AA’ using Drupal content management system. In addition to its development by experienced developers of accessible websites, the site has undergone automatic as well as real world testing for accessibility.
Media Access Australia’s New Media Manager, Sarah Pulis said, “We didn't compromise any of the website's functionality to meet the ‘AA’ guidelines. A common myth is that an accessible website must be a boring website, a myth that desperately needs debunking. For instance, we wanted a rotating feature on our homepage. We worked with both our designers and developers to ensure the feature met WCAG 2.0 ‘AA’ guidelines and also tested it with users.”
Our brand research showed confusion over the ‘New media’ section. You will now find this content and much more in two new sections, ‘Digital technology’ and ‘Online media’. Digital technology contains information on accessible mainstream devices and technologies that make your computer accessible, for example, software and assistive technology devices.
The Online Media section focuses on the internet itself. Here you’ll find information on website accessibility and accessible media on the web, such as audio and video material (e.g. captioned videos on YouTube and movies on iTunes) and social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter).
Sign up to our new customisable news alert system for daily, weekly or monthly news alerts. You can choose which type of news items you would like to receive, whether relating to television, DVD, education, cinema and the arts, digital technology, online media or research and policy, or a combination of these. You can also choose whether you want to receive information relating to the blind and vision impaired or the Deaf and hearing impaired.
If you have any difficulty using the site, or would like to provide us with feedback please phone us on 02 9212 6242 or send us an email.
For more information about Media Access Australia’s new website, please contact:
Marketing Communications Coordinator
Media Access Australia
Ph: 02 9212 6242
Blind Sports Victoria (BSV) are hosting a Gala Dinner Auction on April 16 at the RACV Club, Melbourne.
BSV was established in 1977 and is a statewide body providing sporting and recreational opportunities to over 1000 blind and vision impaired people.
All funds raised at this function will directly support BSV, especially vision impaired tennis and vision impaired swimming.
In Australia, for people who are totally blind, tennis was only a dream not a reality. Just recently BSV has been conducting a modified game of tennis at the Melbourne Park Tennis Centre and whilst it is still in its early stages we need to meet the cost of hiring the indoor tennis courts, purchasing adaptive equipment, tennis balls, mini nets and tennis racquets. This is a unique program in Australia.
The aim of the swimming program is to give young blind and vision impaired people an opportunity to learn how to swim in an inclusive and supportive environment.
Please contact Susan Marshall on 9822 8876 or Maurice Gleeson on 0407 365 962 if you require any further information.
Stay lives in your menu bar. When you position and resize your windows just the way you want them, you use the menulet to save their locations—whether for all open windows, or just the windows from a specific application. Then, if you need to move things around, you can always restore your windows to their last-saved position.