Computer Aids for the BlindBy Hirsch, Stacey; Braille Monitor,
Publication Date: January 2003
Article discusses barriers encountered by the blind in the use of computer technology, and products available to improve accessibility. A survey by the U.S. Census Bureau is quoted, revealing that about 30 percent of the 669,000 people in the U.S. between the ages of 21 and 64 with severe difficulty seeing were employed in 1997. However, blind users often cannot use e-mail, nor access the Internet or computer programs with high graphic content, and this can lead to the loss of employment. Two products are described which increase computer access for the blind: (1) PAC Mate from Freedom Scientific, Inc., a hand-held personal computer enabling blind people to send e-mail from the road and load messages from the device onto their desktop computers; and (2) technology introduced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, enabling the blind to feel graphics and pictures through a device that connects to their computer. The downside to the PAC Mate is its price, $2,595 compared with Hewlett-Packard’s iPAQ pocket PC selling for about $500 at the time the article was written. The article concludes that in order to eliminate accessibility barriers, companies must consider the blind as they design new technologies, not after the fact.
Assistive Products Discussed: PAC MATE BNS
PAC MATE TNS
Published by: National Federation of the Blind (Website:http://www.nfb.org)
Link to text: http://www.nfb.org/Images/nfb/Publications/bm/bm03/bm0301/BM030109.htm