Accessibility

Amplicom Alarm Clock Review

Every morning it’s the same routine. You’re sound asleep, and then your iPhone/Droid/alarm clock/dog starts going off and announcing WAKE UP TIME! Basically, something blares in or around your head and you start moving. What if you were hearing impaired, though? How do you make sure the alarm wakes you up? That’s where the Amplicom alarm clock comes in. Amplicom makes a number of accessibility devices, and they sent me the TCL200 to test. This is an alarm clock that offers a number of hearing and visually impaired aids, including a vibrating pad (for the hearing impaired), a speaker that…


CES: Nuance’s Technology Is EVERYWHERE! (And That’s a Good Thing)

A while we were at CES last week I had a chance to meet with a number of the people who I email and speak with regularly from Nuance. Nuance is the leading company developing voice to text technology; they’re the company that has given us of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, Dragon Dictation for iOS devices and Dragon for Mac (the application I’m using to write this post). There were a few bits of important news that came out from Nuance over the course of the week. Nuance T9 Trace + Android = Happy Samsung Galaxy Tab User The first day we…


Fone Sitter Makes Sure Grandma Hung up the Phone!

My dad gave me a ride home from work last night. During the drive, he went to call his mother (my grandmother) and her line was busy. So he tried her cell phone. No answer. This went on for a good ten minutes; we’d chat, he’d try both numbers, we’d chat again. Finally, he started to get really nervous, and he called my uncle to go check on her. As it turns out, she was just fine. Her phone was just off the hook. Again. She doesn’t keep her cell phone near her, and she can’t hear the faint, indignant…


American Foundation for the Blind Looks at Smartphone Accessibility

Smartphones have become nearly indispensable productivity tools. Businesses issue them to employees, and people use them constantly to keep up with their personal lives. But what do you if you are blind or visually impaired? Tiny keyboards and 3-4 inch screens aren’t always great if your eyesight is wonderful, let alone if you have vision issues. Luckily, the American Foundation for the Blind puts out an online magazine called AccessWorld, and several articles this month covered smartphones and visual impairment. For the corporate-types, they looked at an app called Oratio for Blackberries. This is what’s called a “screen reader”, or…


Plantronics .Audio 476 DSP Headset- A Gear Diary First Look

As I’ve written numerous times here on the site, I am a huge user of voice recognition software. I’m blown away by Dragon Dictation on the iPhone, use Dragon NaturallySpeaking on my Windows 7 machine, and I have MacSpeech Dictate on both my iMac and my MacBook Pro. When I upgraded to the current version of MacSpeech Dictate I discovered that it isn’t configured to allow you to use the built-in microphone for dictation. Turns out there is a reason for this for as good as the microphone is, it isn’t ideal for voice recording. Without a proper headset, there…


Is Text to Speech Copyright Infringement or Accessibility?

Famously, the Kindle 2 debuted with Text to Speech enabled, only to see it yanked for many books after the publishing companies complained it violated audiobook copyrights. This debate is becoming an issue all over again because of devices like Intel’s Reader for the blind, which uses a scanner and text to speech to allow a visually impaired individual to “read” a written passage.


Chevy Volt Aims to Help the Blind

I bought a Prius over the summer. Halfway through the test drive, my fiancee asked the salesman if he was aware that electric cars have caused issues for blind pedestrians since they don’t hear the cars coming. His response (after an awkward silence where he no doubt considered whether his answer would lose him the sale) was “Well, it comes with a horn.”


Getting Started With Dragon NaturallySpeaking Version 10

In this, the second edition of “Look Ma No Hands, Voice Recognition Technology Today” we’ll take a look at getting started with Dragon NaturallySpeaking Version 10 Professional. Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 Standard has an MSRP of $99. Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 Preferred has an MSRP of $199.


Voice Recognition Technology Today

I’ve been using various voice to text solutions for a number of years. I began using Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking when it was back in version 7 or 8. Unfortunately, back then it was often more proof of concept than useful tool. The process of transcribing text was slow and the accuracy was not all that good. Over the years two things have changed. First, the power of our devices has grown exponentially. My iPhone is, on many levels, as powerful or more powerful than the computer I was using just a few years ago. And my iMac and my MacBook…


Universal Accessibility Becomes Mainstream (and Profitable!)

Loving that new shuffle with VoiceOver? Dictating all your emails instead of typing them? You may not think about it, but many of those improvements and technological bounds come from a specific area of research; accessibility for people with disabilities. Businessweek has a great article about how voiceover, Apple’s love it or hate it system in the new Shuffles, comes from accessibility designs in Mac OS X. Further, there is an argument that many businesses can learn from the innovations needed to create “universal access” for specific disabilities, and turn it into features that can make the experience better for…


Buying Prescription Eyeglasses Online – Why You Should Consider It

In 1999, I had Lasik surgery to correct my severe nearsightedness and astigmatism. At that time I was 32 years old, and I had been wearing prescription eyeglasses or contacts since I was 12. I have the ugly yearbook photos to prove it — just ask anyone who went to school with me in Eldorado. 😉 Because of my vision problems, it became a yearly ritual to go to an ophthalmologist or optometrist, have my eyes checked, get a prescription, and get a new pair of glasses; at best there may have been one or two years where I kept…


Dakim Brain Fitness Unit Review

Imagine trying to explain a computer to someone who has never seen one. Try explaining this strange thing called a mouse, and how you use it to control your interactions with the screen. Try explaining how you type on a keyboard, and through the magic of wires and electronics the words appear onscreen. And if you want to move something from point a to point b, hold down the mouse and drag…but have some fancy moves if you need to drag beyond the room you have on your mousepad. I know it sounds crazy, but if you’ve never used a…


Dakim Brain Fitness

I taught my grandmother how to use a computer when she was well into her 80’s. She saw that my parents and brother had computers at home, and I had one at college…so she wanted to get in on all the fun. I taught her to use AOL, how to play various games (Spider Solitaire was her favorite), and generally how to be self-sufficient and keep herself “sharp” through her games. Not everyone has a granddaughter with nothing to do for a summer but write a thesis-size set of instructions on how to use a computer (It was Windows ME,…


Review: Pur Sleep Aroma Therapy for CPAP Users

First, before we get into today’s review, I want to talk a little about Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea is when you stop breathing while you sleep. The worst part of Sleep Apnea is a lot of people who have it don’t even know it. Symptoms of sleep apnea can include: Loud snoring. Waking up gasping for air. Waking up in a sweat. Feeling unrefreshed in the morning. Headaches, sore throat and dry mouth in the morning. Sleepiness during the day. Now I know what your going to ask. How do you know for sure if you have Sleep Apnea?


The Sleeptracker Pro Watch Review

This review has been a struggle to write. Not because of a problem with the product so much, but because of my irregular sleep patterns and my less than regular schedule. Let me start by giving you an overview of how my typical day goes…never mind, I have no typical days. Instead of a routine of “up at 7 and to bed by 11?, I go to bed anywhere from 10pm to 4am – depending upon whether I need to get up early the next morning, or whether I am using the quiet late hours to work on a particular…