Product Accessibility

In Ahmedabad, India alumnus of NID-Gandhinagar, Mikhil Sonavaria, has designed a car, called Aloka, which gives people with vision disabilities the experience of driving. Sonovaria’s design is a semi-autonomous vehicle giving independence to drivers with vision disabilities.

The driver can pick a destination and decide the route and the car will take them to the destination. The driver interacts with touch-glass and Braille rings, which provide all necessary information to navigate.

The car consist of a pod suspended from a frame. The driver sits in the pod, which pendulates, giving the driver a physical feedback by exaggerating the motions. In an emergency a spring loaded seat eject the driver from the vehicle.  

Read more about Aloka in the Times of India article

The science of touch is helping scholars from around the world develop new technology that will improve access for people with disabilities. Many of these haptic devises were on display at Northwestern University’s recent Haptics Conference. Among the new innovations are:

  • Playing music with the touch of a finger
  • Experiencing in-game gravity with a special stylus
  • TPAD – a sensory phone that allows the user to feel texture

Read more on the abc Eywitness News webpage. 

A new way to play Pool Nation on the PS3 with a single switch has been created. A new version of “One Switch Pulse” has made it possible to emulate pulling back on the right stick different amounts then pushing it fully forward on a single button. Players need:

For more information see the creator’s blog post on Blog

The 90-day license for the popular screen reader JAWS now includes MAGic Screen Magnification Software. When a timed licenses is purchased for JAWS the Magic 90-day license will be made available for download as well.  The 90 day period starts when the first product is authorized for use. Both JAWS and MAGic will use the same authorization.  

JAWS and MAGic can be purchased immediately from a freedom scientific representative.  For more information please visit the Freedom scientific website

UNICEF and the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) are looking for information on assistive devices and assistive technologies that reduce barriers to education for children with disabilities. The products should help children with disabilities excel in educational environments. They are particularly interested in devices and technologies that are suited for use in low-resource settings.

They are collecting the information via an on-line questionnaire which should be completed by February 20, 2015. They have also provided a Spanish version of the questionnaire: Cuestionairo en español.

For more information contact or see the story on GAATES.

NJ Foundation for the Blind is hosting a free demonstration of the iPhones and iPads assistive technology. That assistive technology gives access to people who are blind or have low vision. The demonstration will be on Wednesday, Feb 18th from 10:00 am to 1:00pm at the NJ Foundation for the Blind on 230 Diamond Spring Road in Denville.

The demonstration will introduce people who are blind or have low vision to the iPhone and iPad accessibility features:

  • Voice Over
  • Gesture-based screen reader
  • Zoom magnification

You must register in advance by February 11 as seating is limited. To register call 973-627-0055 or by email.

Guide Dogs UK, Future Cities Catapult and Microsoft have teamed up and developed a prototype wearable device that promises to help people with vision disabilities navigate a city.

The device is a headset that pairs with a Windows Phone and uses GPS, cloud based location and a network of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals placed along a route. The user will hear continuous clicking, which sounds like it’s coming from a meter or two ahead of them. The clicking will guide them along the correct route. In addition, the application provides information on shops, points of interest and additional details to help the user navigate.

Cavena, a manufacturer of subtitling systems, has partnered with Acapela Group to provide voice for its text-to-speech audio description package. Audio description gives greater access to TV content for people who are blind or have vision disabilities by narrating the action during the natural pauses in the audio. The requirement for broadcasters to provide audio description is growing worldwide and across different media.

Users will be able to choose either the original speaker’s voice in a foreign language or the same content in their own language.

For more information visit the Acapela Group or Cavena websites.

Yesterday Google announced improvements to Google Drive and all their editors: Docs, Sheet, Slides, Drawings, and Forms. Many of the changes are targeted specifically toward blind and low-vision users.

Among the changes are:

  • Improved screen reader support for Drive and Docs
    • Improved keyboard access
    • Support for zoom & high-contrast mode
    • Improved usability with the screen readers.
  • Improved screen reader support for Docs, Sheets, Slides Drawings and Forms
    • Support for alt text on images in Docs
    • Improved support for keyboard when editing charts & pivot tables in Sheets
    • Screen reader improvement including spelling suggestion, comments and revision history
    • Quick search of menus and ability to perform actions in Docs, Slide and Drawings.
  • Refreshable Braille display support
  • Step-by-step guides for screen readers and Braille display

Read more on the accessibility improvements. And see the Google Accessibility site.


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