Technology: Opening up the World to Blind People
For Immediate Release
NEW YORK—What do museums, cell phones, and ATMs have in common? They are all featured in the latest issue of AccessWorld: Technology and People with Visual Impairments.
"Technology is a driving force in making life more accessible for people who are blind or visually impaired," said Editor-in-Chief Jay Leventhal. "In this issue, we discuss a range of devices that people use every day."
Leventhal offers a first-hand report on a digital audio tour provided by New York City's only hands-on science and technology center, the New York Hall of Science. Traditionally, museums have not provided a meaningful experience for blind people. Exhibits are behind glass and descriptions are available only in print. The Hall—one of the first museums to provide its visitors with an audio tour on tape in 1999—digitized its tour last year, giving people who are blind the freedom to explore displays in any order. Visitors listen to comprehensive descriptions through a device resembling a cellular phone. The Hall is continuing its work with a new experimental system that will not only have the same features as the digital tour, but also guide blind visitors from one exhibit to another.
In the continuing search for accessible cell phones, AFB experts review a top-of-the line cell phone along with software intended to provide blind and visually impaired people with greater access to a cell phone's features. Also discussed in the issue are J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s talking ATMs, or eATMS, that enable blind people to receive up-to-date financial information through synthetic speech and perform transactions in private by using headphones.
Additional articles focus on how designers have developed assistive technology (AT) devices to help mitigate the shortage of braille and computer teachers for blind and visually impaired people. Topics include: an interactive computer-based braille learning station; innovative AT training services; and making mainstream applications such as Microsoft Word or RealNetwork's RealOne Player, more user friendly.
Launched in January 2000, AccessWorld: Technology and People with Visual Impairment is a bi-monthly publication dedicated to people who use or want to use assistive technology. With its team of experienced writers and evaluators, AccessWorld is the only publication that seeks to provide people who are blind or visually impaired, and members of the blindness field and the technology community, with news and objective, reader-friendly product evaluations that foster informed decisions and intelligent application of technologies. Beginning in January 2004, AccessWorld will become a free, web-based publication. New subscriptions for the online version of the November 2003 issue are available for $5.00 at www.afb.org/accessworld.asp.
The American Foundation for the Blind—the organization to which Helen Keller devoted her life—is a national nonprofit whose mission is to eliminate the inequities faced by the 10 million Americans who are blind or visually impaired. Visit AFB online at www.afb.org.
AFB Communications Group