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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dolphin Released Version 11 of Supernova, Hal, Lunarplus and Lunar, but does not support new technology

Dolphin has released version 11 of their screen reader and screen magnifier software. In this release support for Windows 7 public beta has been added and the control panel is redesigned. What we miss in this new release, is support for new technology! Version 11 now includes initial support for the 64-bit client editions of windows Vista and public beta support for the Windows 7 release candidate, in addition to the previously supported 32-bit editions of Windows XP and 32-bit editions of Windows Vista.

It is a pity Dolphin software does not include support for new technology in their products. Web sites highly driven on Flash or Adobe AIR applications remain not accessible for the visually impaired users.

Also visually impaired in the working place will found that this new release does not solve their accessibility program to a lot of applications. .Net programmers who are visually impaired again will not find properly support for Microsoft Visual Studio, like a lot of application common in the company will are not supported.

For home users Dolphin software now support Internet Explorer 8, iTunes v8 and skype 4. But a lot of programs still are hard to access with Dolphin software. For example a popular program like Cyberlink Director or Producer, shipped with a lot of video camera's, can only be accessed by users of the screen magnifier, but not by users depending on braille or speech support. Also the client of the popular social music service is inaccessible.

iLike offers a nice Sidebar for iTunes or Windows Media Player, to share music with your friends, but as Dolphin claims support for Windows Media Player and iTunes, it does not support such plug-ins!

The number of programs and websites that are inaccessible to screen reader users is growing fast. I not only see this accessibility problem with Dolphin software but also with other screen readers like Jaws and Window-eyes.

If screen reader companies like AI Squared, Dolphin, Freedom Scientific, GW Micro and Serotek keep on inoring support for new technology and Web 2.0 development, visually impaired remain excluded from social networks and will find it difficult to get a job in the future!

Highly responsible for these growing inaccessibility of websites and software are companies like Adobe and Microsoft who are developing new technology, but does not fix any accessibility issues.

Click here for more information about Dophin Screen Reader software version 11

Labels: Dolphin, Hal, Lunar, Lunarplus, screen magnifier, Screen Reader, Supernova

posted by Peter Verhoeven at 5:58 AM 0 Comments

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Vibrating touchscreens allow Braille reading

Touchscreen handsets may be the talk of the town, but they are useless to the visually impaired. Software developed by Jussi Rantala and his colleagues at the University of Tampere in Finland attempts to address that by bringing Braille to touch-enabled mobile devices. The team installed the software on the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet with a piezoelectric layer that 'displays' a raised dot on the touchscreen with a single intense vibration and the absence of a dot with a longer and weaker pulse.

Two methods of presenting Braille were devised by the team. The first requires users to swipe their fingers across the screen to read each of the six dots in the 2x3 matrix in Braille.

The second method generates a sequence of six dots, each 360 milliseconds apart, when the user taps and holds on a character. Volunteers who tested the software were more comfortable with this option, although it took some getting used to.

Source: CNET

Labels: Accessibility, Braille, TouchScreen

posted by Peter Verhoeven at 1:31 AM 0 Comments

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Google shows off eyes-free touchscreen dialing

Accessibility is a problem for the iPhone. With the device its lack of physical controls, it is virtually impossible for somebody who is vision-impaired to use the phone. Other touchscreen smart phones suffer from the same problem, so a few smartypants engineers at Google have come up with a clever way of dealing with the problem. The system works by mimicking the traditional phone keypad, with the number five in the center and the other numbers arrayed around it. But since the screen has no physical keys, the software pops up the keypad wherever the user touches it. Wherever the finger makes contact becomes a five; slide the finger upwards and release, and it’s a two; slide it downwards, it’s an eight, etc. The user can enter a whole phone number by tapping, sliding, and releasing, all without having to look at the screen, since wherever the user taps becomes the keypad.

It’s a perfect embodiment of that old adage about turning a weakness into a strength: the downside of a touchscreen device is the lack of physical controls—but that also means you can put the controls wherever you want. It’s a simple yet brilliant solution to dealing with accessibility on the touchscreen smartphones.

Of course, given that Google has developed this system, it’s uncertain whether or not Apple could take advantage of it for the iPhone. But the idea of making the user control the interface based on where they make contact with the touchscreen could still be a powerful idea. Imagine a visually-impaired user not having to try and figure out where the iPhone’s “Slide to unlock” bar is. Instead, they simply place their finger on the touchscreen, swipe it across, and the phone is unlocked.

Google’s spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to make a touchscreen interface work for vision-impaired users; the company has launched a whole Eyes-Free Shell project devoted to exploring this and other ideas, like talking dialers and voice-synthesized directions. And since the Android OS is open source, all the code is available online.

It seems likely that Apple is working on its own accessibility solutions, though it’s impossible to know since it’s enshrouded in the Cupertino cone of silence. But hopefully the Apple engineers have come up with some similarly smart ideas for dealing with the challenges so many people face day-in, day-out.

Source Mac World

Labels: Accessibility, Google, iPhone, TouchScreen

posted by Peter Verhoeven at 5:10 AM 0 Comments

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