And the iPad jumps into the world of brainwaved-powered operation. Currently used for osculatory goals, but other applications could be developed, either to allow people with little or no dexterity to run apps or to serve as a biofeedback trainer.
An Ubuntu prototype will react to your face and body position in a variety of ways–automatically making text larger as you move away, for example, or expanding a video to full-screen mode if you lean back. Very promising for both vision and dexterity accommodations.
Skimming through a review of the upcoming Internet Explorer 9 release, we saw some changes that might be problematic for assistive technology users. For example: “All but the most essential interface elements in the browser have been removed or hidden in IE9, by default.” (Is there a clear way to get them back so users don’t have to go through a long learning curve?) “Warnings and dialog boxes no longer pop up and demand your attention. Instead, notifications and action buttons appear in a discreet bar along the bottom of the window, where you can address them at your convenience. (Will screen readers pick up on this? Will it be too subtle for people with low vision? Is indiscretion still an option?) “The most useful innovation in IE9 is the introduction of what Microsoft calls pinned shortcuts….you open a website in an IE9 tab, then drag its icon from the address bar (or drag the tab itself) onto the Taskbar, where it’s pinned just like a program.” (Any way to do this without dragging?) Fingers crossed that some of this will have been addressed, or at least documented, by the release date.
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!
Eyegaze systems have been around for quite some time as a computer access strategy for people with ALS and other causes of near-total paralysis. Now it’s being used as a mainstream hack to operate an old-style Nintendo system, at least for Super Mario Brothers. Will this help advance the quality of the technology for accessibility purposes? Don’t blink or…
Auto-Tune is software that can make bad singers sound competent, or game show hosts sound stoned. Wonder if the technology could also be used to modify the voices of people with dysarthric speech so that speech recognition applications would recognize them better?
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.