All posts tagged Accessibility

OrbiTouch: The Importance of Technology and Accessibility

There is revolution all around us. Time Magazine has named The Protestor as its Person of the Year. As we watch the Middle East churn with regime change, we cannot deny the role social media and smart phones have played to galvanize and organize a population recently introduced to technology.

Meanwhile, there is another revolution going on here in America and all over the world. It’s quieter, more gradual, and non-violent, but it is a movement nonetheless that demands better access to many of the daily tech tools often taken for granted.

Welcome to the Adaptive Technology Movement. Persons with disabilities, much like groups in the Middle East, have had limited access to technology, not because of lack of IT infrastructure, but because of the various hardware and software accessibility limitations presented by standard computers.

We meet a lot of people in our line of work who see orbiTouch and think, Wow, that’s a really neat device, but the ramifications extend infinitely beyond the product’s novelty appeal. The end game is the democratization of information and the ability to be your own person. The empowerment that comes with not having to rely on anyone else, such as a spouse or a caregiver, to communicate.

The importance of technology and accessibility is one of inclusivity. When we have more people with online access, we have more people participating in global conversation. Benefits go both ways. Persons with special needs are able to make connections, improving their quality of life and meanwhile sharing experiences and knowledge, enlightening others and enriching communities both online and off.

When individuals can learn, think, and engage for themselves, the sky is the limit. If you want to work out of your home or in an office, you can. If you want to connect with people in different parts of the world, you can. Technology has a way of eliminating stigmas, and it is the ultimate mechanism to focus on ability.

Everything in the human body is on a spectrum, and a part of living with a disability is determining which tools are right for you. OrbiTouch is of course an alternative, but so is voice recognition software, tablets such as iPad, and eye-gaze technology. These alternatives can be used either separately or in combination to form a tool set for success.

The global dialogue among persons with disabilities is one that is growing and ongoing. If you are here in the local Orlando area and you want to participate in the technology and accessibility conversation, join us at 6:25 PM at Urban ReThink! on January 12 for Tech Thursday. OrbiTouch will be there to give a live demo and co-present on issues facing the adaptive technology industry. Hope to see you there!

Committed to Access: HP innovation lowers barriers to technology use

 Accessibility is a vital concern for all levels of government as technology becomes a fundamental tool for streamlining internal operations and delivering services to citizens.

When a Canadian assistive technology company developed a revolutionary computerized travel guide for the blind, it chose HP’s versatile iPAQ Pocket PC handheld as the platform for its solution.

VisuAide’s Trekker GPS-based system combines GPS information, talking digital maps and talking menus to give users real time information about their location and surroundings. Operating on an HP iPAQ, the compact Trekker system is worn over the user’s shoulder, and announces street names, intersections, stores, restaurants and other attractions as the user approaches them.

Montreal-based VisuAide is one of many assistive technology providers partnering with HP through the company’s Accessibility Program Office and the HP Developer & Solution Partner Program (DSPP). The program helps independent software vendors, developers and system integrators create unique accessibility solutions based on HP platforms and operating systems.

“We’re committed to ensuring that HP’s products, programs, services and information are accessible to people with disabilities,” said Michael Takemura, director of the company’s Accessibility Program Office. “That’s consistent with our company’s DNA, creating products that improve the lives of our customers and allow them to use information technology in a very useful way.”

The DSPP is part of HP’s global effort to connect people with technology. And it results in solutions that dramatically lower barriers to the use of high-tech tools and information.

For instance, HP worked with another accessibility partner, Keybowl Inc., to make an innovative keyless key­board completely interoperable with HP products without special programs or drivers.

Keybowl developed the orbiTouch Keyless Keyboard to support users with limited or no motion in their fingers and victims of carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive stress injury. Linked to an HP desktop or notebook, the product allows citizens who can’t use traditional keyboards to access computer technology at home and in the workplace.

The orbiTouch features a pair of ergonomically sculpted  domes that move to enable “typing” of characters with the same precision as pressing a key. Each dome can be positioned in the eight major directions of the compass, providing the ability to type 128 characters.

For the article in its entirety written by Hewlett-Packard, please visit http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/accessibility/5982-5752enaccessible.pdf