Monday, March 21, 2016

New technologies for deaf and visually impaired – RTBF

According to estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO), in Belgium and in industrialized countries, 1 in 1,000 people are blind. And one in 100 is visually impaired. Fortunately, technology flies to their aid to help them in their daily lives.

If the number of people with blindness decreases over time, the visually impaired are more and more because of the aging population.

Do not make confusion between blind and visually impaired. These are people with visual impairments. They have a problem acuity (the ability to distinguish details) or a limited visual field (parts of the visual field that disappear). It is very disabling. There are plenty of devices to help them in their daily lives. For example:

  • universal remote controls with large buttons compatible with a range of devices

  • magnifying glasses on backlit feet to play

  • phones with big buttons or with photos

  • magnifiers electronic video for the visually impaired

  • of video magnifiers based on the same principle

But the equipment is expensive and cumbersome. It’s not always easy to carry. In recent years, there is a device that replaces all specialized equipment. It costs less and it fits in a pocket: the smartphone. Thanks to him, we can enlarge small type, use voice recognition to write or to be read text. We met Luke and Francesco, two visually impaired people who use their smartphone every day and it seems that it has changed their lives looking.

Siri, GPS, zoom camera, voice recognition, Facetime, etc. options are integrated directly into our smartphones . IPhones are designed to be used by the visually impaired, but this is not the case for all smartphones. It is important to learn to buy and ask to test it.

Applications are also designed for the visually impaired but are not preinstalled in the phone. They are sometimes expensive, like that of Francesco. Telorion is interface designed for visually impaired. It enlarges the characters, to photograph a text, to enlarge, white on black. The problem is that it costs 300 euros and requires a high smartphone range.

Be My Eyes

Fortunately, there are also free applications. They allow to do similar things but not necessarily with the same comfort. Be My Eyes ” is used to help the visually impaired. We can set its sight to serve the visually impaired through his smartphone. Sometimes the machine can not replace human intervention. It uses a community. It connects two types of people: the visually impaired and volunteers. When a visually impaired person needs assistance in a particular situation (finding its way into a station to inquire about the composition of a food, etc.), it may request the intervention of a volunteer through app. A person available can then use the camera and microphone smartphone to help him. In total, the application has 347,000 volunteers, 26,000 visually impaired and 130,000 calls made.


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