The blind and low-vision community in the United States comprises about 8.4 million people. This group is one that can benefit the most from new technologies. Assistive technology for smartphones, tablets, and computers have been improving for years but they are not the only advancements that give this community freedom to move about and participate in more activities that seeing people often take for granted.
At Applied Development, we enjoy learning about new tech and how it can help our diversability (diverse ability) communities – we gathered three of our favorites for the blind and low-vision community below.
Often, machines that translate braille can cost $2,000 or more. This price tag can make assistive devices unrealistic for most people, especially if insurance will not cover the cost.
Six minority female MIT alumni who call themselves “Team Tactile” want to change that. They entered a competition in their junior year to create a device that would begin updating a stagnant market for braille assistive technology. They wanted the device to be affordable so that more people would be able to have access to it.
The result was a device that that converts written text to braille by taking a picture and using pins. It would allow for the translation of any printed piece of literature. Team Tactile plans to market the device for around $500, making it a much more feasible option for low-vision and blind individuals.
Obstacle Sensing Belt
One of the biggest obstacles that blind and low-vision people face is moving about the world. Technology has slowly been catching up as apps like Google Maps read out directions. What apps like Google Maps cannot do is account for is people, buildings, trees, and other obstacles.
A team at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland developed a wearable belt that can sense objects that are in a person’s path using high-frequency radar. This device works best outside and could be especially useful for city dwellers and people who enjoy hiking or exercising outdoors.
The belt can sense through clothing, as well, so people can wear it discretely and still enjoy all the benefits of having an obstacle sensor.
Assistive Laundry Device
Daily tasks like laundry can be difficult for people who are not able to see the settings on the washer and dryer. Very rarely do these appliances come with braille or audible options, which makes using them nearly impossible for people who are blind or have a severe visual impairment.
A self-taught 14-year-old programmer created the Talking Laundry Module, a text to voice assistive device that connects to GE washers and dryers. When the knobs are turned, it reads out washer cycles and dryer settings. It can also detect how much time is left in a cycle and read this information out.
Though the technology currently only works for washers and dryers, it has the potential to be a great starting place for multiple household appliances.
Blind and Low-Vision Assistive Technology
Lifestyle assistive devices are important for this community; however, there are also many more practical technologies that are critical for people in the workplace.
If you have blind or low-vision employees, clients, or customers that require assistive technology, Applied Development can help. With nearly 17,000 hours of diversability service hours provided, we have the experience and capabilities to set your organization up for success.