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.

Posted in News | 1 Comment

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

Going Steadier

Liftware is a new gadget that reduces the effect of hand tremor. Hand-held, it detects your tremor and compensates for it by counter-moving its attachment (such as a spoon). Could it one day have a stylus attachment, to improve performance with touchscreens or small keyboards?

Posted in Controls: number, size, spacing, force, Dexterity impaired, Hardware, Personal management and self-care, Size, weight, stability, grip | Leave a comment

Buzz Me In

Travel site Triposo has a new fashion accessory for you and your smartphone: the Travel Belt. Its 4 vibrating motors buzz at your waist to give you turning and walking directions to your destination. This saves you from constantly consulting your smartphone or looking uncomfortably disoriented. It might make independent travel easier for people with cognitive limitations or deaf-blindness.

Posted in Blind, Cognitively impaired, Deaf, Hardware, Redundant output, Transportation | Leave a comment

Now, Here’s Some Savvy Consumer Advocacy

A group of folks have started a campaign to get Netflix to add audio description to more of its streaming videos. What’s so savvy?

  1. They recognize that the studios that create the videos have a role to play, not just Netflix — the accessibility value chain.
  2. They provide clear, simple steps for visitors to take, letting them join the campaign easily.
  3. They use the tools others have built (such as a list of studio contacts), including Netflix’s own accessibility feedback form.
  4. No haranguing.
Posted in Building the culture of accessibility, Content, Entertainment, Market drivers, Network | Leave a comment