Archive for the ‘Assistive Technology’ Category

Winners announced of the Jodi Awards 2006

April 6, 2006

MLA Press Release: The winners of the 2006 Jodi Awards for excellence in museum, gallery, library, archive and heritage website accessibility were announced last night at a ceremony at the British Museum.

The winners are:

Jodi Award for Excellence:
i-Map: The Everyday Transformed, Caro Howell and Dan Porter, Tate Modern. www.tate.org.uk/imap/imap2 

This site does what seems impossible to many people, by making modern art (and its key concepts) accessible to blind and partially sighted people. It is one of the few to describe collections for visually impaired people. The images are highly contrasted and made visible to partially-sighted people. The judges were unanimous in selecting the winning site, which they agreed had yet more ground-breaking qualities and was destined to set the standard in global best practice. The site is already the world leader in making online collections accessible to blind and partially sighted people. (more…)

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New software tackles colorblind challenges

March 19, 2006

By Brian Bergstein – The Associated Press via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – BOSTON — Like many colorblind people who have adapted all their lives to a particular way of seeing things, Harry Rogers says his inability to discern red and green hasn’t caused him much trouble over the years.

Even so, there is one particular challenge: Making sense of charts, graphs and other colorful material on his computer screen. Sometimes he sees a weather map online and says to himself, “Is it raining or snowing there?”

And so the 48-year-old electrical engineer was eager to try eyePilot, a new program that gives colorblind people several ways to filter multichromatic images on their computer screens.   (more…)

IE6 ActiveX changes affect MSAA

March 1, 2006

Microsoft has changed the way Internet Explorer 6 (using updated Windows 2003 or XP) loads embedded ActiveX controls. The update is Microsoft’s reaction to a patent suit it lost to Eolas Technology and the University of California.   (more…)

Carnegie Mellon Scientists Show How Brain Processes Sound

February 24, 2006

California Computer News – Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have discovered that our ears use the most efficient way to process the sounds we hear, from babbling brooks to wailing babies. These results represent a significant advance in understanding how sound is encoded for transmission to the brain, according to the authors, whose work is published with an accompanying “News and Views” editorial in the Feb. 23 issue of Nature.

The research provides a new mathematical framework for understanding sound processing and suggests that our hearing is highly optimized in terms of signal coding—the process by which sounds are translated into information by our brains—for the range of sounds we experience. The same work also has far-reaching, long-term technological implications, such as providing a predictive model to vastly improve signal processing for better-quality compressed digital audio files and designing brain-like codes for cochlear implants, which restore hearing to the deaf.    (more…)

Creating accessible applications with Eclipse: An introduction

December 15, 2005

Hand on Computer Screen illustrationLevel: Introductory Mark Pilgrim, Accessibility Architect, IBM
Barry Feigenbaum, Worldwide Accessibility Center, IBM
Richard Schwerdtfeger, Distinguished Engineer, IBM
Kip Harris, Worldwide Accessibility Center, IBM
15 Dec 2005

from The Rational Edge: This first article in a new series on building accessible applications with Eclipse begins by looking at assistive technologies and disabilities. It then discusses the functions and features that make Eclipse well suited for creating accessible applications on Windows or UNIX.  

Accessibility is an umbrella term that covers everything and everyone involved in making a product usable by people with different abilities. Software accessibility has become a rapidly expanding field that encompasses all of the following:

  • Creation of application programming interfaces (APIs) for application developers that expose a program’s user interface to other programs.
  • Creation and incorporation of assistive technologies (ATs) — third-party software and hardware that hooks into an application’s accessibility APIs.
  • Compliance with the legal accessibility requirements mandated by several countries, including the US.
  • Accommodating end users with a variety of abilities and disabilities.
  • Ensuring interoperability for system accessibility features.

In the US, the primary commercial (versus humanitarian) driver for making applications accessible is a 1998 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act, known as Section 508. Requiring federal agencies to make their information technology accessible to people with disabilities, Section 508 applies to all information technology procurements within these agencies, with certain exceptions (see Appendix).   (more…)

Assistive tech could aid aging fed workers

October 31, 2005

BY Florence Olsen – Published on Oct. 31, 2005 – Federal agencies will rely on assistive technologies to accommodate the needs of an aging federal workforce, according to policy experts who say that more government employees will soon be working beyond the age of 65.   (more…)

IBM Software for Older Users

October 3, 2005

Big Blue introduces software that makes working on computers and surfing the Net easier for older employees – October 3, 2005 – IBM plans to roll out software Monday designed to make working on the computer and surfing the Net easier for aging workers, with tools that adjust keyboard settings and magnify web page content, among other features.
The new software tools, designed especially for older workers with disabilities, are the product of five years of work by IBM researchers. Big Blue is also looking to tap the world’s 11 million software developers by launching an online resource to enable them to build applications that include accessibility features.

With the software, IBM is targeting the seven in 10 Americans who say they plan on working past the age of 65, according to AARP. Also, two-thirds of the U.S. population will experience some sort of disability beyond the age of 65, according to the U.S. census.   (more…)

A checkup for Section 508

June 21, 2004

By Mike Paciello
Special to GCN

How much progress have we really seen on Section 508?

The Section 508 electronic and IT accessibility amendment is the single most influential disability mandate since the Americans with Disabilities Act came into law in 1990.

But how much has changed since Section 508’s inception in June 2001?  (more…)