[nfb-talk] Fw: Tectile mouse for blind computer users

Ed Meskys edmeskys at roadrunner.com
Wed Nov 25 14:27:11 CST 2009


Ed Meskys
NEW E-MAIL ADDRESS
edmeskys @ roadrunner.com
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Fred Lerner" <Fred.Lerner at Dartmouth.EDU>
To: <edmeskys at roadrunner.com>
Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 3:21 PM
Subject: Tectile mouse for blind computer users


Ed,

This was in the Eonomist online today.

Fred



A tactile mouse helps blind people to use the internet

Tactile World

COMPUTERS have become such an integral part of life, in the rich world at
least,
that even social networking is done online. The blind, however, are often
excluded
from such interactions. Now a system has been developed to make it easier
for
blind people to navigate the internet, use word-processing software and even
trace
the shapes of graphs and charts. Its inventors hope it will enable more
blind
people to work in offices.

The system developed by staff at Tactile World, an Israeli company, uses a
device
that looks similar to a conventional computer mouse. On its top, however, it
has
two pads, each with 16 pins arranged in a four-by-four array. Software
supplied
with the mouse translates text displayed on the screen into Braille.

In traditional Braille, numbers and letters are represented by raised bumps
in
the paper of the page being read. The pins on the mouse take the role of
these
bumps. As the cursor controlled by the mouse is moved across the screen, the
pins
rise and fall to represent the text across which they are moving. One pad
represents
the character under the cursor, the other gives the reader information about
what
is coming next, such as whether it is a letter or the end of the word. This
advance
information makes interpretation easier. As the user reads the text, the
system
also announces the presence of links to other websites. And the user can
opt,
if he wishes, to have the computer read the whole text out loud.

The mouse's software has an "anchor" feature, to hold onto the line of text
that
is being read. Alternatively, a user can click a button on the mouse and the
text
will scroll along and run under his fingers without him having to move the
device.
Click here to find out more!

When he encounters a graph, map or other such figure, the pins rise when the
mouse
is on a line. The number of pins raised reflects the thickness of the line.
If
he strays from the line, the pins fall. He is thus able to trace, say, the
curve
of a graph or the border of a country. More complex diagrams can also be
interpreted.
Dark areas of maps, for example, can be represented by raising all the pins,
while
light areas are places where all the pins are dropped.

Not only is the tactile mouse more advanced than existing technologies for
blind
people, it is also cheaper than existing Braille readers, which plug into a
computer
and typically display 40 Braille characters at a time. The tactile mouse
costs
$695, rather than $3,500-8,000 for a Braille reader.






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