[Nfbmo] Fw: new tool for visually impaired

Matthew Sievert msievert at sbcglobal.net
Tue Aug 2 21:22:50 UTC 2011


I wonder what my mechanical drawing class would have been like if I had a computer rather than the drafting board and straight edge. 

Hopefully my instructor would have focused more on my comprehension rather than the weight of my lines. 

Or how about instead of cardboard boxes of 4 track cassettes that made up a paperback book being replaced by an MP3 player. Although my APH Machine was an awesome tool. 

I had a vtek CCTV and Kurzweil reading machine at my disposal, but I preferred the large print books augmented by the color photos in the "regular" textbooks. 

I didn't like using the hand magnifiers with or without the light. 

I think the best tool I discovered was my monocular, both the glasses mounted one and the rubber coated Walters I carry with me. 

Just some items to contemplate 

On Aug 2, 2011, at 2:48 PM, DanFlasar at aol.com wrote:

> Fred,
>   This system is particularly useful for people in science and  math 
> classes, which present information primarily in visual terms that are not  easily 
> interpretable even w/ today's technology.  Although I can't judge  whether 
> this device is effective in all science and math classes in all cases,  my 
> impression was that the blind are not well-represented in science and math  
> programs (please correct me if I'm wrong).  Access barriers can steer  a 
> student away from engineering and math because, difficult as they can  be to 
> begin with, having to gerry-rig some way of reading graphics  makes it more 
> difficult stil.
>    I had a great deal of trouble, for example,  participating in webinars 
> required in my last posision at Wash U in  which project management 
> schematics were presented on a shared  webpage.   The window in which the schematic 
> was presented was a  simple video-feed - in other words, not - usable by a 
> screen reader. Though I  have some usable vision, I was not able to fully 
> participate in the webinar  because, despite very large monitors, I couldn't 
> get the overall sense of the  proposed scope of the changes to the project 
> fast enough to keep up with the  other presenters.
>     I worked out an arrangement wherein all graphical  material was sent 
> to me in the original document format at least an hour before  webinar time, 
> and w/ Gary Wunder's help in sending along some helpful links and  with 
> Freedom Scientific's help, I was able to get JAWS to read the diagrams but  it 
> was slow, cumbersome, inconsistent and presented in such a way that it was  
> very difficult to follow the flow of the algorithms.   
>    I'm not yet sure exactly what technology would make this  problem 
> easier to resolve but I'm all for efforts to find new tech  options.
>    I should note, though, that at PowerUp this  year -  and last  year - 
> the big excitement was all about the iPod, iPhone and iPad  platform which 
> offers an environment to create specialized applications that  duplicated the 
> functionality of specific use devices that cost thousands of  dollars.  I 
> suspect that given the increase in resolution of phone and web  cameras, it 
> should be relatively easy to mount one of them on a bendable stalk  attached 
> to a USB port.  The software component wouldn't be  difficult to create.   
> I'm sure Android devices can offer the same  platform flexibility.  This would 
> eliminate the need to cobble together  large devices like a video camera 
> and laptop.
>     Technology has already made huge strides in  making us less depdenent 
> on well-meaning friends.
>     Dan
> In a message dated 8/2/2011 9:59:21 A.M. Central Daylight Time,  
> goodfolks at charter.net writes:
> Jim, I'm  definitely in favor of technology because of it's practical 
> aspects 
> but I  have to wonder if the office of student services paid someone to 
> either  take down the information that was placed on the chalk boards or 
> asking  the instructor to make available to the V.I. students the 
> information  
> covered in each day's lectures wouldn't be more efficient and less  
> expensive 
> than a device such as the one that is outlined  here?
> Especially since we have no indication of how large the field of  vision is 
> enlarged or what manipulative tasks are involved in moving the  device to 
> see 
> a different quadrant of the board in question.
> Also,  I'm remembering the days when no type of hand-holding was available 
> for  students in college accept those really bad recordings of well-meaning 
> individuals who read us our books on tapes. No choice of which format our  
> books would be in, no choice of whether we would have access to tests or  
> any 
> other materials for that matter in any format other than print, and it  was 
> up to us to be the responsible party in getting the materials read by  a 
> well-meaning friend or classmate.
> And we did manage without these  things to get through college and have 
> successful careers inspite of it  all.
> Fred Olver
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "James  Moynihan" <jamesmmoynihan at gmail.com>
> To: "NFB of Missouri Mailing  List" <nfbmo at nfbnet.org>
> Sent: Tuesday, August 02, 2011 9:29  AM
> Subject: [Nfbmo] Fw: new tool for visually impaired
> Fellow  Federationists
> Jim Moynihan
> ----- Original Message -----  
> From: "Neuman, Dale A." <NeumanD at umkc.edu>
> To:  <jamesmmoynihan at gmail.com>
> Sent: Tuesday, August 02, 2011 7:50  AM
> Subject: new tool for visually impaired
> College students with  very poor vision have had to struggle to see a
> blackboard and take  notes—basic tasks that can hold some back. Now a team 
> of
> four students from  Arizona State University has designed a system, called
> Note-Taker, that  couples a tablet PC and a video camera, and could be a
> major advance over  the small eyeglass-mounted telescopes that many students
> have had to rely  on. It  recently
> won<http://www.imaginecup.com/CompetitionsContent/2011Winners.aspx>  second
> place in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup technology  competition.
> There are roughly 75,000 students at colleges and trade  schools who are
> visually impaired. The telescopes allow students with low  vision to see the
> blackboard, but they can only focus on one section at a  time. Then they 
> have
> to take off the telescope, write notes, and then go  back to the board and
> try and catch up with the lecture.
> David S.  Hayden, who graduated from Arizona State in May, understands  
> these
> challenges—he can only read texts if he gets about two inches away  from the
> material. Mr. Hayden, the lead designer of Note-Taker, says he  faced a
> “morbid tradeoff” in class. Using the assistive technology that  was
> available to him, he could either take notes or listen and absorb  the
> information, but never both. After he had to withdraw from  three
> senior-level math classes, he says, “I realized the existing  technologies
> weren’t going to assist my needs, so I had a project on my  hands.”
> The result was Note-Taker, which connects a tablet PC (a laptop  with a
> screen you can write on) to a high-resolution video camera. Screen  commands
> get the camera to pan and zoom. The video footage, along with  audio, can be
> played in real time on the tablet and are also saved for  later reference.
> Alongside the video is a space for typed or handwritten  notes, which
> students can jot down using a stylus. That should be helpful  in math and
> science courses, says Mr. Hayden, where students need to copy  down graphs,
> charts, and symbols not readily available on a  keyboard.
> Mr. Hayden built a prototype of the device with the help of  John A. Black
> Jr., a researcher specializing in computing and human visual  perception at
> the university’s Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing.  The project was
> then awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation  and refined with
> the help of Michael Astrauskas, Shashank Srinivas, and  Qian Yan, who are
> Arizona State students.
> “It’s unlike what I’ve  seen,” says Clara Van Gerven, an access-technology
> content specialist with  the National Federation of the Blind. The
> handwriting feature seems  valuable, and she has not seen it in other
> computer-compatible  video-recording systems. Note-Taker, she says, “uses
> existing technology to  its advantage and then adds the rewind feature and
> the manual note-taking  to that. It seems like it would be a useful tool.”
> But no tool can  replace institutional support, says Chris S. Danielsen,
> director of public  relations for the federation. “The university is always
> going to have to  make sure that whatever technology it uses is accessible 
> to
> blind and  low-vision students,” he says. (Arizona State U. has gotten in 
> hot
> water in  the
> past<http://chronicle.com/article/Blind-Students-Demand-Access/125695/>  in
> just this area.)
> The team continues to develop the Note-Taker—a  fourth-generation model is
> already in the works—and is looking into ways to  get it on the market.
> Though the prototype is prohibitively expensive, the  designers hope to 
> bring
> the price tag down to $1,000 per camera unit (the  tablet PC would be
> purchased separately), so that it will be affordable to  more consumers.
> Their second-place finish a few weeks ago in the Imagine  Cup’s
> software-design category may also attract some interest.
> Mr.  Hayden is starting graduate school in the fall at the  Massachusetts
> Institute of Technology. He’s taking one of the Note-Taker  models with him
> to use when classes resume.
> Dale A.  Neuman
> Director, Harry S Truman Center for Governmental Affairs
> Special  Projects Associate, College of Arts and Sciences
> Professor Emeritus of  Political Science
> 816-235-6108 or 816-235-2787
> FAX  816-235-5191
> Neumand at umkc.edu
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