Access on Main Street

Hooking up a usable world, one mainstream product at a time.

Sync and swim

Posted by Jane Berliss-Vincent 23 September 2010

YouTubeSocial is a website that lets you load a video and notify all your pals so they can watch it along with you, IM-ing all the while. Anyone else thinkin’ this could be a great tool for providing on-the-fly real-time captioning?

Gizmodo: The simplest way to watch cute YouTube videos in sync with friends

One order of iPad Thai

Posted by Jane Berliss-Vincent 30 August 2010

Sharp is trying out a restaurant app in Japan that would let individuals browse the menu and place their order by iPad. If implemented with even a soupcon of thoughtfulness, this could address a variety of access issues, from working with VoiceOver to provide an audio menu, to allowing non-literate people to find and select a picture of what they want, to providing a non-verbal ordering strategy for people with speech impairments. Tasty!

Crunchgear: iPad used as self-ordering system at restaurants

You can’t spell “complain” without “LA”

Posted by Jim Tobias 29 June 2010

Using an Apple iPhone app, L.A. citizens can now take a picture of a broken sidewalk or other municipal flaw and send it directly to the city government for instant relief.  How about reporting blocked curbcuts or illegal use of handicapped parking spaces?

L.A. city government: Residents have a finger on problems with iPhone app –

As it is Twitten

Posted by Jane Berliss-Vincent 15 February 2010

Carmen Gonzales has come up with a summary of pretty convincing arguments about why Twitter has made a huge difference for people with physical disabilities. Some of these involve the potential for generating and receiving information with little effort, but there is also the fact that if everyone is communicating in 140 characters, assistive tech users or slow typists will be able to generate messages of an acceptable length with less effort than, say, typing a full email. There are parallel arguments to be made for cognitive access as well.

Twitup: Twitter remaking the persona of the physically challenged

When in Rome, do like a Roman

Posted by Jane Berliss-Vincent 16 November 2009

Now that we think about it, it makes sense: fear of H1N1 may be driving development of touch-free products light years forward. Take the Holy Water dispenser that some Italian churches are installing and which work on the same principle as the auto faucets that have become commonplace in the U.S. The side benefit is that many devout folks who couldn’t use the traditional font should now have a significant measure of accessibility. Let’s hope this technology stays in place after the flu has flown.

New Launches: Auto Holy Water dispenser, Italy’s religious swine flu prevention technique

Comfortably Nimbb

Posted by Jane Berliss-Vincent 20 August 2009

What if you want to get in on social networking, but typing is difficult, or you communicate better by voice or sign language than text, or you just prefer video? Nimbb is a new service that lets you record brief videos and then post them to either a single Twitter-like page or to other types of sites. There is a free option, but paying a monthly fee ensures that your video won’t disappear after 30 days and will be of higher quality. This seems to be the next generation of video Twitter sites such as

Gadgetell: Nimbb: not exactly a Twitter video site

Card trick

Posted by Jane Berliss-Vincent 17 July 2009

James Alliban, a Flash programmer in London, has come up with an augmented reality business card; point it at a webcam, and it gives you a 3D representation plus audio–think Leia’s virtual “Help me, Obi-Wan” incarnation. The video still leaves something to be desired; much of the time, the image looks rather like something assembled from colored Post-It notes. However, the audio quality seems quite good, and this could be a way to create talking business cards for the benefit of folks with visual or cognitive disabilities, especially if something more ubiquitous than a webcam (a cellie, mebee?) could trigger playback.

Engadget: Augmented reality business card sells itself

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