Prompt-It is a hardware device that turns text from your smart phone into a teleprompter. Could be a lifesaver for people with any type of dexterity or memory difficulties who have to give a presentation in situations where using other types of notes is difficult or undesirable.
Looks like there are several universal design features to applaud in iOS 4, the new iPhone operating system. The one we’re latching on to is systemwide implementation of typing assistance: auto-suggest and spell check.
Roger Ebert (again) on the value of Twitter as augmentative communication:
“Twitter for me performs the function of a running conversation. For someone who cannot speak, it allows a way to unload my zingers and one-liners. One of the problems with written notes and computer voices is that, by their nature, their timing doesn’t work. I used to have good timing. Now in real life a conversation will be whizzing along and a line will pop into my head and by the time I write it down and get someone to read it, the moment and the context will have disappeared. Often everything will grind to a halt while I remind people what I was referring to.”
We’ve written before about automated Twitter messages as a communication strategy, but most examples were either hacks or left little leeway for consciously choosing a desired message. Enter Buddy Radio, a simple device currently being tested with elders by the UK’s National Health Service. Turning the dial sends one of several messages indicating the user’s mood–not clear whether this is preprogrammed or personalizable. Apparently it works not only with Twitter, but also with Facebook, email, and so on. It’s currently being evaluated as a signaling system; off-site family, friends, and other message recipients would presumably be able to interpret when a user needs some type of intervention services. But we have cause to wish it were commercially available now so that people in hospice, recovering from serious injury, etc., would have a nearly effortless way to just provide brief but treasured messages to their circles.
Toshiba is exploring artificial texture for touch screens. By changing the charge on a surface film, the device will present the user with simulated rough, smooth, or fuzzy textures. This could work well for blind users, who would be able to distinguish buttons and controls on a touchscreen, one of the major barriers to those ubiquitous input systems.
We were going to just laud the push towards real-time cell phone video as being good for sign language conversing and leave it there. But with the omnipresent development of apps, there is also potential for enhanced augmentative communication–imagine, for example, that someone who feels most comfortable communicating via pictograms could actually send and receive graphics via video rather than relying on translation into an audio format.
A company called Cypress is working on TrueTouch technology for mobile device screens. TrueTouch can respond to a finger that is hovering above it, and respond differently to an actual touch. When we first found this article, we thought this would mostly have implications for people with dexterity disabilities, and it could–for example, people for whom any physical contact with the screen would be painful might be able to carry out some functions without requiring actual touch. But what really hooked us was that the demonstration shows how hovering provides magnification of whatever is being hovered over–an obvious boon to many people with low vision, and to some with cognitive disabilities as well.