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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 November 2005 Issue  Volume 6  Number 6

Letters to the Editor

A Tale of Two Cell Phones

Your article on the LG VX 4500 in the May issue of AccessWorld was most interesting and useful. Since my two-year contract with Verizon Wireless was almost up, I called the local Verizon store to ask about the 4500. "Discontinued," they said. "Replaced by the 4650." So, armed with notes from your article on the 4500, I went into the store and put the 4650 through its paces. "I'll take it," I quickly said, and they wrote me a new contract on the spot. What's more, they charged me nothing because I had some credit left on my first contract.

I am so very pleased with my new LG VX 4650. I am eager to see what AccessWorld thinks of it. Of course, I realize that by the end of my new contract the 4650 will have been replaced with something hopefully much better. But for now, I'm as happy with the 4650 as a dog with two tails!

Morgan Jones
New Paltz, NY

Talking Signs for Elevators

In the article on Otis Elevator's new control system, the mention of talking signs could possibly lead to solutions for several problems on which you briefly touched. A blind potential passenger not familiar with the system could be guided to the control panel and given a basic hint to its use by a talking sign transmitter installed just above said panel: "Elevator control panel. Use key pad to enter floor destination," or the like.

Also, a similar sign over the intended car's door, such as "Car E for floors _____," could better direct someone to the correct car when sound from a speaker could be difficult to locate in a possibly noisy, echo-full environment.

I realize that inclusion of such technology could increase cost to the company, but I believe at least mentioning the existence of such solutions is obligatory for access professionals!

Tom Fowle
Smith-Kettlewell Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center
San Francisco, CA

Darren Burton responds

Your first suggestion of using your talking signs technology makes good sense. A message perhaps giving the location of the keypad in relation to the elevator doors, along with a brief note telling the user to press the "accessibility" key to begin, might be very helpful to a blind or visually impaired passenger.

Your second comment suggesting that a talking sign be placed over the intended elevator, however, would not work in this situation. That is because cars are not permanently assigned to certain floors. Instead, it is a dynamic process in which a particular car could be assigned to serve any floor in the building. The computer decides which car to assign to which floor based on efficiency, and the speaker at the keypad directs the passenger to the assigned car.

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Copyright © 2005 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved. AccessWorld is a trademark of the American Foundation for the Blind.

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