Assistive Technology

Nao, a cartoon like anthropomorphic robot, can read moods, recognized family members and learn people’s music, movies and food preferences. A research team at the University of Delaware has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to use Nao to explore pediatric rehabilitation based on social interaction between robots and humans.

The project, which is known as GEAR, will be a collaboration between the interdisciplinary team made up of robotic expert Herbert Tanner, mobility researcher Cole Galloway, and computational linguist Jeffrey Heinz and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Imaging Science.

Read more about NAO

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which is the global standards organization that develops foundational technologies for the WEB, received a Technology & Engineering Emmy®Award on January 8, 2016.  The award was given by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) for the W3C’s work on making video content Accessible through text captioning and subtitles.

The Emmy®Award recognized W3C’s Timed Text Markup Language (TTML) standard in the category of “Standardization and Pioneering Development of Non-Live Broadband Captioning.”

Read more on the W3C’s Emmy Award.  

SwiftKey, who is known for their predictive smartphone keyboard, launched a new assistive symbol-based communications app called, SwiftKey Symbols. The app can be used to build sentences using pictures.

The app uses SwiftKey’s core contextual language prediction technology (SwiftKey SDK) to suggest symbols that might be used to finish a sentence. The technology also learns from the user and is faster than some of the current solutions. Users of SwiftKey Symbols can create sentences by choosing images from a set of categories or from the prediction slider.

The app is free and available for Android.

A Texas A&M University biomedical engineering researcher, Roozbeh Jafari, is developing a wearable technology that will facilitate communication between people who are deaf and people who don’t know sign language.

Jafari explains, “The smart device combines motion sensors and the measurement of electrical activity generated by muscles to interpret hand gestures.”  The device is still in prototype but can recognized 40 American Sign Language (ASL) signs.

Read more on Jafari’s prototype.

iOS has an accessibility feature to allow users to select their preferred text size. Some applications will respect this setting and change their text size appropriately, however, some do not. To change your preferred text size

The Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) has developed a custom keyboard for iOS. The new BrailleEasy Keyboard enables one-handed typing for people with vision disabilities and is based on braille. It is available for both Arabic and English speaking users.

The keyboard is based on a traditional two handed typing keyboard but has been customized for comfortable one handed typing. With a simple adaption of transforming two handed Brailling into two gestures, users quickly learn how to use the BrailleEasy keyboard.

Read more about the BrailleEasy keyboard. 


Fusion is perfect for individuals who, over time, want a smooth and easy transition from magnification to full screen reading.  ZoomText Fusion is designed to grow with you, ensuring that you will always be able to use your computer.  

(St. Petersburg, Florida – October 29, 2015) – Freedom Scientific today announced the release of version 17 of JAWS® for Windows, the world's premier screen reading software. Significant new features include:

  • Smart Navigation™, a more efficient way to interact with complex web pages and web apps
  • Domain-specific scripting, bringing the power of JAWS scripting to the web
  • Liblouis Braille Translator enhancing usage with Unified English Braille

Navigating complex web content such as pages often found in banking, shopping, or corporate sites, is a challenge for anyone using access technology. Today, JAWS 17 introduces new techniques via the Smart Navigation feature to help users be more efficient as they access this content.

“The ability to move through tables using just the arrow keys, or to skip past an entire menu bar with a single down arrow, are just two examples of how this will benefit users,” says Eric Damery, Vice President of Software Product Management. “Add the capability to script for products such as SharePoint, and JAWS further expands the employment opportunities for visually impaired people worldwide.”

The JAWS 17 upgrade is an SMA release and can be downloaded as either a 32- or 64-bit version from the JAWS downloads web page. DVD shipments to SMA holders and new product customers will commence on November 2, 2015.

About Freedom Scientific

Freedom Scientific is the leading worldwide provider of assistive technology products for those with vision impairments. The Company sells its products worldwide and has offices in Florida and Switzerland. The Company's products have been translated into 24 languages and are available in 55 countries.

The first open platform for creating smartphone apps that can help people who are blind or have low vision navigate their environment, called IBM Bluemix, has been created by scientists from IBM Research and Carnegie Mellon University.

A pilot app has been created using the platform. The app, called NavCog, uses existing sensors and cognitive technologies to inform people who are blind on the CMU campus about their surroundings through audio and haptic feedback. Future additions will allow the user to:

  • Detect who is approaching
  • Detect a person’s mood

NavCog is available online.

IBM Bluemix is the first set of cognitive assistance tools for developers and is now available via the cloud. The kit includes:

  • An app for navigation
  • A map editing tool
  • Localization algorithms for identifying location and the direction a person is facing 

The 2015 Adirondack Assistive Technology Expo will be held at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, N.Y. on October 26 and 27th. The Expo is sponsored by Clarkson University’s Department of Occupational Therapy and hosts occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and language pathology professionals from across northern New York and Vermont.

  • Monday, October 26 from 6:00 to 9:00pm: Optional networking dinner at the Wild Center. Entertainment by FLAME, internationally recognized performers from the Lexington Center of the Fulton County.
  • Tuesday, October 27 from 8:00 to 9:00am: Registration and breakfast followed by a welcome, the keynote presentation, breakout sessions and lunch.

Assistive Technology Expo registration and information


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