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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: