Oh my, we do like the Sony RM-KZ1 universal remote. Originally designed for kids, its main buttons are all distinct shapes (easy to distinguish by touch for blind folks) and have high-contrast labeling. Plus, it prevents volume from being changed too much too fast. It’ll set you back all of $18 at Target.
Here’s a cool hands-free wheelchair control setup, based off a Wii remote. It’s a high school science project for now, but has tremendous potential for being a low-cost commercial strategy that could significantly improve chair design.
Slightly off-topic, but worthwhile: a very short video that neatly explains the need for universal design. (Too bad they didn’t mention cognitive disabilities, though.)
Environmental control has always been a huge issue for people with mobility disabilities; if you can’t control the TV from afar, for example, you may be stuck watching bad reruns long after your program of interest has ended. Ability to integrate environmental control for multiple devices into a single, easy-to-control unit is always good. If that unit is a widely available and affordable mainstream device such as an iPhone or iPad, so much the better.
Some prestigious universities are starting to accept short videos as part of their admissions applications. This has great implications, particularly for kids with learning disabilities who may need non-written means to show their genuine worthiness.
People who don’t have or use fingers for controlling touchscreens have problems with capacitive models like the iPhone. You can’t use it with most metal or plastic styli because the touchscreen is expecting a certain amount of capacitive charge found on typical extremities. But have no fear (except around mealtime) — it seems that sausages work well. Some may skewer such a solution, thinking it the wurst idea they’ve ever heard. But let’s be frank — it’s certainly in the ball park.
What do the films How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Up have in common? Besides (despite?) featuring unapologetic curmudgeons as primary characters, they both represent accessibility landmarks: Grinch was the first commercially-released DVD to have a closed-captioned option, and Up is the first to have the audio-described (DVS) track available for sale on iTunes. Of course, you don’t have to be blind to appreciate the DVS version–it could find the same drive-time audience as audio books, which means there would be more DVS-only versions of movies available, which would benefit blind people…yeah, we could live with that.
Amended to add: apparently more careful research than mine (thank you, codeman) has raised doubts about Grinch; with luck, an equally befuddled future investigator will find clearer documentation for the historic value of Up.