Posts

Showing posts from January, 2009

Remembering the Speak and Spell

Just a little more than thirty years ago, Texas Instruments brought us an important development that would change many a childhood, the Speak and Spell. Despite it's humble size, The Speak and Spell played an important role in Speech History. It was one of the first highly accurate and widely available text-to-speech products, really one of the first practical applications of speech synthesis for a consumer market. The toy was a direct outgrowth of Texas Instrument's bizarre 1970s experiments in speech synthesis. The world had just seen man create the tech required to reproduce human speech with tuned voices stored on ROMs. Seeing the potential of those speech fruits, Paul Breedlove, a TI engineer, began development of the Speak & Spell in 1976 with a $25,000 budget. Yes, even then it seems that the world callously and stupidly turned a cold shoulder to speech. Breedlove, however, would be vindicated. Within two short years, the Speak & Spell was flying off the 1978 …

Tips for Walking on Ice

Winter storms often produce ice and snow, leading to slippery walking surfaces. Here are some helpful tips to make winter weather travel safer. Before going out, try to plan your route to avoid places where ice frequently forms. Taking that shortcut you usually use might not be a good idea if it will mean traveling on paths that have untreated surfaces.
Proper footwear is key. Avoid plastic and leather soles or high heels in favor of rubber and neoprene composite shoes or boots to provide better traction. Shoes or boots should have soles with a raised tread pattern on a low, wide heal and sole with a leading edge in many directions. Consider purchasing a pair of ice grippers or cleats to attach to your shoes to help with traction, but remember that these can sometimes become slippery indoors when walking on smooth surfaces such as stone, tile or ceramic. Practice putting them on your shoes and walking with them before you have to use them.
When you step outside, take short, shuff…

SAMNet Radio

Serotek Corporation, a provider of internet and digital information accessibility software and services, has launched an online radio station called SAMNet Radio. The name of the station is derived from Serotek's online community, the System Access Mobile Network, or SAMNet. SAMNet Radio will air the best music of the last forty years, the latest technology news, live and interactive voice chats, and a portal for all to know what is happening in the SAMNet community. Directed at an audience who is blind or has low vision, SAMNet Radio's slogan is "Your station, your community." The station's manager is Michael Lauf, former creator, host and producer of HandiTalk, the first interactive internet radio program to discuss the needs of the blind and visually impaired.

Click this link to listen to SAMNet Radio: http://radio.samobile.net.

Add Keyboard Support to Popular Media Players

So your system's got a fancy keyboard with a host of handy media shortcut buttons, but they only work with a select few applications. Media Keyboard 2 Media Player will fill in the support gap. Once installed, MK2MP acts as a middle man between your keyboard and popular media-applications like VLC, Xion, XMPlay, 1BY1, and Winamp. The application runs almost invisible to the end user, passing the keyboard command onto the application with the right trigger. You can enable and disable common media-keyboard keys for each program, and specify whether it sits in your system tray or stays incognito. If the program you need to control isn't yet available, the application is in active development and open to suggestions for new players to be added.

Click this link to learn more or to download Media Keyboard 2 Media Player.

Flight Tracking: Listening to Air Traffic Control Online

You can listen to all communications between a control tower and it's incoming airplanes or even track an airplane from the beginning of it's flight to it's arrival. By live feed from a satellite you will know the planes current altitude and speed, where it is located and a glimpse at the approximate time of arrival. The mapping of flights in real-time is based on the air traffic control system. There are no costs or restrictions in doing so and many official websites are starting to provide the service. This can come in useful when curious about a family members flight, or when anticipating an arrival without knowing of it's progress. Air traffic control (ATC) is responsible for providing crucial information to pilots around busy airports. They communicate with pilots on designated radio frequencies to keep airport operations running smoothly and safely. While every airport varies, terminal controllers usually handle traffic in a 30 to 50 nautical mile (56 to 93 k…

BookPALS Storyline Online

p>Welcome to Storyline Online, a Website where interesting children's books are read by SAG (Screen Actor's Guild) members. On the main page, you'll find some featured stories. While I was there, those stories were: Enemy Pie read by Camryn Manheim
Romeow and Drooliet read by Haylie Duff
White Socks Only read by Amber Rose Tamblyn
When Pigasso Met Mootisse read by Eric Close
Dad, Are You the Tooth Fairy? read by Jason Alexander
Brave Irene read by Al Gore To find more stories, click the More Stories button and the stories will switch. There are twenty stories in total as of this article. To get started, simply choose a story. On the story's page, you will have several navigation options. You can select the Read By button and learn all about the actor reading the story or you can click the Let's Read It button and choose your connection speed to see the video. The video will be of the actor reading the story with the story captioned as well. The video will show b…

Louis Braille: The biography

Early in the 19th century, a blind teenager in France created a code of raised dots for reading and writing by touch instead of by sight. The National Braille Press is proud to release the first fully illustrated adult biography of Louis Braille. Based on primary research and including 31 never-before translated letters, the new, visually elegant, hardcover book adds a dimension to the material on Louis Braille's life that has fed schoolchildren's biography projects for many years. Along with English translations of Braille's original letters, the book includes an extraordinary collection of documents, photographs, and artistic works-some unearthed from a curator's private archives in France. The text provides a bibliographic narrative of the phases of Braille's life as student, young inventor, musician, and teacher. Author Michael Mellor considers himself extraordinarily lucky to have happened upon four never-before-translated (French-to-English) letters that Br…

APH Transcribes Presidential Inauguration Guide Book

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH), is the official vendor of the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Guide Book printed in braille.            The book serves not only as a guide to public activities surrounding the inauguration, but as a document that sets these events in historic context.  It contains quotes from President-Elect Barack Obama, and Vice President-Elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. ; biographies of Barack and Michele Obama, and Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Dr. Jill Biden; names of the 56th Inaugural Committee; History of the Inauguration; Calendar of Official Events; 2009 Presidential Inaugural Parade Participants; United States Senate & House of Representative Leadership; Official Inaugural Balls; Security Procedures; Access for Those with Disabilities; Places of Interest in Washington DC, and Transportation Tips.            “To our knowledge, this is the first time the Presidential Inaugural Guide Book has been transcribed into braille,” says Dr. Tuck Tinsley III, Pres…

Saber Duel: An Audio Game for the Blind

The following game anouncement was posted by Alexander Shen on alexander shen's art blog and is reposted here for your convenience. I was walking to the train the other night, and I was thinking about an article that I read some time ago about a boy that was incredibly good at Soul Calibur despite the fact that he was blind. He memorized the sounds that different characters and moves made, so he knew how to react. Ultimately, he didn't let his disability limit him from enjoying a fantastic video game and source of entertainment. I thought about this and decided that it was time for me to try my hand at creating games that were accessible to those with disabilities. The first game that I've created is called Saber Duel. It's essentially a lightsaber blocking game where you block attacks coming from your left, center or right. I'd recommend using headphones as it'll further immerse you into the game. You should also know that this game runs on Windows only.

C…

Download Audio Books for the Visually Impaired: Technology at Its Best

The following article was posted to the My Top Gossip blog and is reposted here for your convenience. The goal of technology is to make people’s lives easier, more convenient, and better. Nowhere is this more prominently demonstrated than in audio books for the blind.Our society has always been visual and is becoming increasingly so: from newspapers and books to computer screens, blind people have faced the struggle of accessing information that is readily available to most other people. The ability to read a book or newspaper is taken for granted by many of us, but it is a pleasure that is often denied the blind.In today’s society, we obtain a great deal of information and entertainment using computers and the internet. Because they are very image-based, blind and visually impaired people struggle much more to access comparable information. Nor is Braille that much more convenient. While it does allow people to enjoy written language, it can be expensive and out of reach for man…

Tactile Clues for Mainstream Consumers?

By Chris Hofstader Our Norwegian friend, Lisa Yayla, owner and unofficial reference librarian of the Adaptive Graphics mailing list, a really interesting, low traffic discussion list hosted at Free Lists where members write about various tactile and audio adaptations to bring information to people with vision impairments, sent along a pointer to a very interesting article from Business Week. As anyone who knows me or reads Blind Confidential with any regularity will know, I prefer technology transfer, bringing ideas from the mainstream to solve problems for people with disabilities, I, therefore, found this article about using tactile sensations for marketing of mainstream products very compelling. Typically, my thoughts on adapting graphical information in a manner that will deliver a high level of semantic information to we blinks runs toward the very technical but this article describes a fairly low tech concept that can work for businesses, the average consumer and people with…

The Joy of Music: You Don't Have to See to Have a Music Career

This is a long record. Use the table of contents to jump to sections directly.Table of Contents:
1. Introduction
2. "The Catch."
3. Music Education
4. Music Careers, Part One: An Overview
5. Music Careers, Part Two: Advice for Success or Make your Opportunities, Don't Wait for Them!
6. Wrap-up
7. KudosInternet Resources
1. Braille Music Links
2. Education Links
3. Technology Links
4. Other Musical Links
1. IntroductionWhat is it about music anyway? It gets in your head. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry. It makes you dance, it makes you sit still and listen. Music is expressive. It gives you a thrill, a moment of pure communication without words getting in the way. Haven't you ever listened to a song or other piece of music and felt something move? Haven't you ever said to yourself "Yes! That's it exactly!" when a particular chord or melody resonated inside you? Perhaps a particular passage causes the hair on the back of your neck to s…

Business Travel Tips for the Entrepreneur With a Disability

Into every disabled businessperson's career some travel must fall. Make the experience less stressful with these travel tips geared to people with visual impairments.

Be Prepared

Travel Advice From a Pro

Traveling Abroad

Other Tips and Tricks From Travelers With Disabilities

These Are the Rules




Be Prepared

Business travel can be tense enough without the added hassle of being blind or visually impaired. I talked to some experienced visually impaired business travelers to see what they do to make the process more pleasant so they can concentrate on doing business.

Being prepared for your business trip that will lessen or eliminate headaches which commonly plague travelers but which are even greater hassles for people with disabilities. Here are a few tips for being prepared that I found specifically for blind or visually impaired travelers:

Write down the names and addresses of all destinations, such as hotels, meeting places, and even airports. Don't assume taxi drivers and o…

Easy Grilling for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Here's a great small appliance for the blind and visually impaired. Read on for tips on how to use it without sight and find a yummy recipe as well. A few years ago my brother-in-law gave me a wonderful Christmas present - a small George Foreman-type countertop grill! I brought it home and made a grilled cheese sandwich, and I was hooked. Within a month, I had bought a large model that would hold bacon, three or four hamburgers, or enough of whatever I was cooking for a meal for two. I use one or both of my grills every day. These grills are great little appliances. Easy to use, easy to clean up, and requiring no special recipes and only a good imagination or a little creativity to make good-tasting meals, they are a kitchen appliance that could have been made just for a blind person. The grill comes in different sizes, from one just big enough for two hamburgers or two slices of bread placed side by side to one that can hold three or four hamburgers. When the grill is placed…