Welcome to Inclusive Technologies

We’re all about accessible and usable products — products that work better for everyone because they’re easy to use.

  • Industry: Trying to meet accessibility regulations without sacrificing your design flexibility or marketing strategy?
  • Public sector: Trying to find accessible products for your employees and the public?
  • Consumers: Trying to locate information about products that will work for you, with and without assistive technology?
  • Employers and technology managers: Trying to find technologies that will work for all of your users without sacrificing economy and productivity?

Inclusive Technologies provides free and paid consulting services to companies, public agencies, consumers, researchers, purchasers, and policy makers on how products can better meet the needs of all users, including users with disabilities and elders.

We’ve been involved in accessible and usable technologies for more than 30 years.  Our principal, Jim Tobias, has worked at Bell Labs and Bellcore, schools, rehab centers, and independent living centers.  He co-Chaired the Access Board Advisory Committee for Section 508 and 255. Other staff skills include clinical evaluation, hardware and software development, user testing, and legal/regulatory analysis.

Our clients and partners include the US Department of Labor, the California Secretary of State’s Office, the California State University system, Cisco Systems, HP, IBM, Microsoft, National Science Foundation, Panasonic, Raising the Floor, and Verizon. Contact us to learn how we can work together.

New Chrome Extension Does Image Magic With Text

Project Naptha can recognize the text found inside images and expose it for normal uses, such as copying and pasting, or routing to a screen reader. Pretty amazing. This could transform how scanned PDFs are handled for accessibility, and lower the agita over artsy text in general, often found in logos and content-rich images.

Naptha can also remove text from images, making the images easier to see or understand. Just speculating here, but if the technique can be applied to videos, one could turn open captioned videos into closed captioned ones by capturing the text (in each frame), erasing it, but saving the text into a synchronized text file.

Hat tip to Steve Faulkner at The Paciello Group.

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Audio Aware App Amplifies Alerts, Alarms, Accidents

Say you’re walking down the street, distractedly listening to the music on your mobile device, just about to step off the curb. Wouldn’t you want to be aware of any nearby sirens or alarms going off? One Llama has developed an app that does it — it interrupts whatever is playing, and plays an amplified version of whatever sounds of danger it hears in your vicinity, including breaking glass and screeching tires. Neat technology, and potentially useful to people with hearing or cognitive disabilities.

Posted in Cognitively impaired, Hard of hearing, Personal management and self-care, Transportation, Volume control, clarity, Wireless | Leave a comment

New Accessibility Guidance Is On the Way!

This can’t be a coincidence: 3 EU standards bodies (ETSI, CEN, and CENELEC) issue a comprehensive accessibility standard. A day later the US Access Board completes its revision of Section 255 and 508 rules and submits them to OMB for regulatory review, with public release expected this coming summer (2014). Are we at the dawning of a globally harmonized ICT accessibility age of Aquarius? Stay tuned!

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R.I.P. Marta Russell

Although few in the domain of accessible technology may have known of her work, we lost a powerful and unique thinker in the field of disability and inclusion this week with the death of Marta Russell. Russell’s book, Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract is a clear-eyed analysis of the political economy of disability. Her continuing work applied the same theoretical lens, insisting that a civil rights approach by itself could not possibly undo the dollar-driven dynamic of exclusion experienced by people with disabilities. We strive to improve the economic arguments in favor of accessibility, whether by reducing the costs of inclusive features or via market-efficient public policies. Her voice, though at a distance and now silenced, was always a challenge.

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Accessibility Continues Its Climb Into Mainstream Media

Gizmodo is a leading tech blog, a long-time go-to spot for what’s new in the world of technology and what it means. They’ve just added a sub-blog called Abler, whose tag line we love: “All technology is assistive technology”. Go read the fresh articles about exoskeletons, 3D-printed prostheses, and why Vancouver is banning doorknobs, all with a distinctive art-and-society point of view.

Posted in Building the culture of accessibility, Theories, models, frameworks | Leave a comment

Another Step In Computer Vision

Welcome the Structure Sensor — a device you attach to your iPad that lets you capture 3D objects in space automatically. That is, move it around the object a bit, and it begins to appear as a 3D model that can be saved and manipulated in other software. Imagine a blind user equipped with one of these, moving through a room and having furniture, doors, and probably eventually people called out. Watch the video and see if you don’t want to sign up for a $350 pre-order.

Posted in Blind, Computer vision, Just plain cool, Personal management and self-care, Software, Transportation | Leave a comment