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The Future of Mobile Technology for the Blind Article

The Future of Mobile Technology for the Blind
by Kyle Albert

For many years, there’s a prevailing notion that smartphones are not deemed for the visually impaired. But with the birth of assistive technology, mobile phones are now offering the ability to promote greater independence by enabling the blind to cope and to improve their condition. In fact, the BBC said that the revolution of Braille smartphones has allowed them to maximize the potential of touch screen devices, despite the absence of textured buttons.

This innovation has paved the way for mobile service providers to adapt to new standards and trends to cater the blind people. In fact, in the United Kingdom, O2 ( has teamed up with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to train over 80 tech specialists to make mobile technology accessible to customers with sight loss.

In this post, we want to feature other mobile innovations that are highly advantageous for the visually impaired.

Screen Readers

A screen reader identifies and interprets the image being presented on the screen through speech. A CNN report said that the screen-reading technology is one of the highly-engineered features of the world’s first Braille mobile phone. This is a great addition to the Shape Memory Alloy, a technology designed to provide the handset a grid of pins for the blind to read. This allows the device to move up and down to form Braille shapes and characters.

Screen readers include simultaneous access to pull down menus, dialog boxes, volume control, and web pages. Here are two of our recommended screen reader software:

· Orca

Orca is a flexible software combining speech synthesis, magnification, and direct access to mobile applications. This assistive technology has been developed by the Accessibility Program Office of Sun Microsystems, with the help of medical professionals and partner communities.

· EdBrowse

Aside from being an audio desktop, EdBrowse includes mobile web access with JavaScript support. With the mounted browsing capabilities, users are able to edit a simple file or an HTML document on the go.

Screen Magnification

A screen magnification software is used to provide a gateway for the blind to access more information on the screens. Originally designed for personal computers, screen magnification is now used to maximize the small interface of mobile phones. For a modern way of reading, this feature gives a boatload of enlarged information by expanding the screen up to 20x zoom. While the software runs simultaneously with the apps, it has the ability to magnify the screen depending on full display, certain parts, and even highlight the area around the cursor. The beauty of this is that it also involves enhanced pointer viewing and tracking options. The video magnifiers use the technology behind closed circuit television (CCTV) to blow up text and graphics.

Text to speech Function

In the 70s, the biggest breakthrough to the text to speech function was the development of devices that were able to scan and to read word files in a synthesized voice. Today, companies such as Apple, Optelec, and Adaptive Technology Resources offer products for the blind to perform tasks with just the use of their voice. The New York Times has commended Apple’s Assistive Touch in helping the disabled. For the blind, one way to know the caller is through the vibration, which Apple users can customize depending on whether they’re receiving calls or texts, or just a simple task reminder.

· Windows

Windows handsets are equipped with the Narrator feature, which reads the content on your screen with the use of a computerized voice. This allows users to control the entire device using their voice, complementing the shortcut keys for easier toggling.

· Android

The thing about Android’s open source nature is that you can install and play with different engines and software. One of the most used text to speech engines for Android is the IVONA that offers its users with different variations and methods in pronouncing long paragraphs.

Portable Notetakers

Without a visual display, these portable devices are used to provide speech output that is connected to computers for uploading and printing text. With your mobile phones, these machines materialize in the form of mobile note taking applications. Perhaps the best mobile note taker is the Catch Notes that uses Google’s voice recognition software in transcribing speech to text commands and features.

With these mobile phone breakthroughs, technology becomes possible in the perspective of people with vision loss. Which of these is perfect for your lifestyle?

Share us in the comments below.

About the author:

Kyle Albert, always interested in tablets, latest trends, startup businesses, fashion and design. He is also a keen social media user. Inclined to share and write about technology and how it can help people with their daily lives, how it can make things easier and for personal development as well, may it be for kids, adults, people in every walks of life. You may reach him at his Twitter: @KyleAlbert9, recently joined (an up-and-coming tech blog) as a regular contributor and you might be interested to see my works there as well.

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