Assistive Technology

ASCmel.T. is a free mobile app available on Android and iOS that involves people with autism in the development of new technologies that aid people with autism. The app enables people with Autism Spectrum Conditions, their families, teachers, professional, and anyone who supports them to share ideas on the kinds of technology that could help individuals with autism.

The app enables users to upload a one minute video explaining their idea to researchers so that new technology development efforts will support the needs of users with autism.

Read more about ASCmel.T. and its development. 

The new Orion TI-30XS MultiView Talking Scientific Calculator is the first fully accessible multi-line scientific calculator for students with vision disabilities. Unveiled in early September and ready for the school year the accessible calculator is a result of efforts from Texas Instruments, Orbit Research and the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). Based on the popular TI-30XS Multiview scientific calculator from Texas Instruments, the Orion TI-30XS Multiview is a breakthrough in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education for students with vision disabilities.

Read more about the Orion TI-30XS Multiview.


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

NVDA 2015.3rc1 Has Been Released

NVDA 2015.3rc1 has just been released. This is a release candidate so, unless critical issues are discovered, this will be the same as the final 2015.3 release.

This release includes:

  • initial support for Windows 10
  • the ability to disable single letter navigation in browse mode
  • IE improvements
  • Garbled text fixes when typing in certain application with braille enabled.

For more information visit the nvaccess website.

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

Two new pieces of innovative tech have been tested to help students with vision disabilities navigate the Penn State campus both indoors and out. Both were built for iOS devices:

  1. Blind Square is a unique GPS app that not only give the user information on where they are and going but tells them environmental information as well.
  2. iBeacons provide more detailed navigation. A dozen of them have been set up in the Pollock Commons.

The testing was very successful as first time user Madeline Garber was able to navigate both outdoors and indoors with no issues. 

The National Federation of the Blind and Verifone have committed to working together to enhance the accessibility of Verifone’s in-taxi technology for passengers who are blind. The Verifone in-taxi systems allow passengers to pay their fare via credit or debit card and present curated media content during the ride.

Currently the terminals can be switched to accessibility mode by tapping the center of the screen. In accessibility mode voice prompts provide information about the fair and payment process. Enhancements will include:

  • Voice information on location
  • Improvements to the user interface
  • Accessibility of new features.

The release of new features for the first smartwatch app for people with vision disabilities was announced by Novartis Pharmaceuticals. The smartwatch app call ViaOpta is a turn-by-turn navigation app that allows users to navigate daily life with greater ease and fits seamlessly into their existing routines.

The additional new features include:

ViaOpta Navigation:

  • Points of Interest Feature: The user can discover points of interest near their location and:
    • Find information about it
    • Set Navigation to it
    • Find information on accessibility facilities around them
  • Extended Map Coverage: Map coverage has been extended worldwide, however it is less in rural areas

ViaOpta Daily:

  • New Object Recognizer Feature: Identifies objects when the user points the devise’s camera at an object.
  • Addition of Scene Recognizer Feature: When the user points the camera in a specific direction the voiceover will tell them what is in front of them, helping them navigate unfamiliar environments. 

Specialists in computer vision and Machine learning who are base at the University of Lincoln, UK and funded by a Google Faculty Research Award are looking to embed a smart vision system in mobile devices. This would be to help people with vision disabilities navigate unfamiliar indoor environments.

Their work is based on preliminary work done on assistive technologies at the Lincoln Center for Autonomous Systems. The plan is to use color and depth sensor technology inside new smartphones and tablets to enable 3D mapping and localization, navigation and object recognition. The team is working to develop the best interface to relate the information to users.

Read more in the GAATES Article


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