Interesting and Innovative assistive technology helping overcome disability barriers - Personal Story
Do you read? I was asked. I said yes. But you are blind! came the spontaneous reply.
Well you see that wasn't a total ignorant reply; because the persons idea of reading was with their eyes using printed material like books or paper. For a blind person reading is done using assistive technology; using text to speech tech. like screen readers on a digital medium like a computer or smart phone. I also surprise some by stating that I read novels and the newspaper. How? Well thanks to this technology we now have audio books that offer a variety of commercial books from renowned authors like Ken Follett and the newspaper comes to me via email; in digital print. So you "see" a blind person does read; and yes, we love reading!
Which movie did you watch lately? "Dangal" was my reply. Seriously? blind people watch movies?
Not "watch" per say; but yes we do and we love it when the movie is audio described (AD). Cinema audio description (AD) is a fantastic service for people with sight loss. The normal film soundtrack is broadcast to cinema speakers in the usual way, whilst a recorded narrator explains what's happening on screen - in gaps in the dialogue - through personal headphones. Just in case you are curious; a deaf and mute person or hard of hearing person enjoys movies that have text captioning in them; you must be familiar with text captioning; text displayed on the bottom half of the screen during the movie. In some cases you can choose more than one language for audio description or text captioning.
Can you call me at 8PM tomorrow? Yes, I will do that. How can you call me when you can't see the phone screen?
I can call you from the desk phone; just kidding! but I can do that and also call you using my smart phone. The desk phone has a notch on the number 5 key that guides me to the rest of the keypad and on my smart phone I have VoiceOver an assistive text to speech technology built in the iPhone by apple computers. I can also text you, what app. chat or make smileys using the many emoticons!
I want you to send me all this information via an email OR can you blog about it? Yeah, sure! Consider it done! Seriously? you are kidding me again aren't you?
The fact that you are reading this on your screen; proves that I can blog about it. If you want an email copy it will cost you $50; now I'm not kidding on that. On a serious note; I use an assistive technology called a screen reader to help me use the computer. This tech. works using a text to speech engine. Some of the most popular screen readers are JAWS and NVDA; Windows comes with Narrator and a Mac has VoiceOver.
Are you still an avid video gamer? Yes, was my reply. How!? came the response
Thanks to some great game developers who with their innovation made gaming for the blind possible. I may not play the same games as you or use the same gaming devices like the Xbox or the PlayStation; but I do play video games that have great audio feedback. I enjoy most of the games by this developer on my iPhone.
What kind of assistive technology would you like to see in the future?
According to me the future is already here! I as a blind person am dreaming a television that I can command by voice to my favourite program; have voice feedback on my washing machine, microwave and bathroom weighing scale. Talking watches that are easily available and affordable. Yes I do see technology like the Google home assistant, Siri and driverless cars make a great impact in terms of being assistive tech. for a person who is blind but I honestly enjoy my Uber cab rides accompanied by a driver who I can make conversation with.
What are the questions that are running in your mind you wish to ask to a person with blindness? Comment below and I will try and answer them for you - Don't hesitate!
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