Technology has always lent a helping hand to people with disabilities such as visual impairment, speech impairment, motion disabilities or disorders, etc. There are a lot of apps and gadgets that can help ease difficulties that such people face on a daily basis. From providing help with reading despite a visual impairment, to keeping the deaf included in a group conversation, to aiding patients with shaky hands have a meal independently, here are some gadgets that are serving them in times of need. On the occasion of International Day of Disabled Persons (December 3), let’s read about such assistive technologies.
UNI is a two-way communication tool for the deaf using gesture and speech technology. This tool works by detecting hand and finger gestures with its specialised camera algorithm, then converting it to the text in very short time to provide meaning of a given sign language. Also equipped is voice recognition software that will convert speech into text for two-way communication. UNI also enables you to create your own sign language with its sign builder, so it is easy to add custom language to the dictionaries. It is a subscription-based app with two versions, one that requires a data connection and another that doesn’t.
Finger Reader is a wearable tool to help read text. It has two functions: to help the visually impaired read printed text on a book or on an electronic device, and also to be used as a language translation tool. A user can wear this device on a finger, and then point it on a body of text, one line at a time. The small camera on the Finger Reader will scan the text and give real-time audio feedback of the words it detects. It also notifies the reader via vibrations when it is at the start of a line, end of a line, moving to a new line or when the user is moving too far away from the text baseline.
Dot is a wearable that is also the world’s first Braille smartwatch. Dot is a practical solution that is more affordable than regular e-Braille devices which may cost thousands, yet still works well for the blind. Dot helps the blind access messages, tweets, even books anywhere and at any time. Technically, this tool functions with six dots on four cells found on the surface of the smartwatch. These dots will rise or lower to form 4 letters in Braille at any time. It can connect via Bluetooth to any smartphone then retrieve and translate the text (from an email or messaging app) into Braille for its owner.
Talkitt is an innovative application to help people with speech and language disorders to communicate with someone else. It will translate unintelligible pronunciation into understandable speech so we can understand what they meant to say, despite the speech impediment. Talkitt works in any language: it works by learning the user’s pattern speeches first, creating a personal speech dictionary; then Talkitt will identify and recognize the unintelligible pronunciation and translate them into speech we can understand.
Introducing Sesame Phone, a touch-free smartphone designed for people with disabilities. This phone is designed to be used with small head movements, tracked by its front-facing camera. So you can access all the features of a smartphone, without even touching this device. Gestures are recognised as if you were using a finger to operate it: swipe, browse, play and more. Voice control is also added to provide a real hands-free experience on the phones.
Be My Eyes
By My Eyes is a super-cool application that helps blind people “see” the world. It works by making a network that connects the blind with volunteers from around the world. It is an easy way to ask for help for simple tasks like checking on the expiry date on a milk carton. Volunteers will receive notifications or requests for help, and if they are too busy, the app can find someone else to step in and help. Each request will trigger a video call to volunteers so they can help the user.
For people without disabilities, wheelchair ramps and wheelchair-accessible restrooms are not things they notice. Many public sites are also not equipped with these facilities. This is a source of inconvenience to those who require a wheelchair to move around. AXS Map is a crowdsourced map that carries information about wheelchair-accessible ramps and restrooms in public places such as restaurants, hotels, shopping malls and more. The map also carries information about how well-designed these facilities are with the help of star ratings.
– Compiled by Ankita Das