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Google Docs is now easier for visually impaired users to navigate

Engadget

Google is making it easier for visually impaired people to use its Microsoft Office alternatives. The biggest change is a new shortcut -- Ctrl Alt H on Windows, and CMD Option H on Mac -- to instantly toggle Braille support in Docs, Sheets and Slides. Navigational shortcuts have also been updated so the user can hear where the cursor has ended up, including comments and suggestions. In addition, the company has improved the experience and "reliability" of sifting through long documents, as well as navigating and selecting content inside tables. Finally, Google has changed its software so that images, misspelling and grammatical errors are verbalized "directly by assistive technology," such as refreshable braille displays. Google Docs, Slides and Drawings have supported Braille displays for some time.


New Chrome Feature Will Use AI To Describe Unlabelled Images To The Vision-Impaired - Slashdot

#artificialintelligence

An anonytmous reader quotes TechSpot: Google is looking to improve the web-browsing experience for those with vision conditions by introducing a feature into its Chrome browser that uses machine learning to recognize and describe images. The image description will be generated automatically using the same technology that drives Google Lens... The text descriptions use the phrase "appears to be" to let users know that it is a description of an image. So, for example, Chrome might say, "Appears to be a motorized scooter." This will be a cue to let the person know that it is a description generated by the AI and may not be completely accurate.


Chrome will use AI to describe images for blind and low-vision users

#artificialintelligence

The internet can be a difficult place to navigate for people who are blind or who have low vision. A large portion of content on the internet is visual, and unless website creators use alt text to label their images, it's hard for users of screen readers or Braille displays to know what they show. To address the issue, Google has announced a new feature for Chrome which will use machine learning to recognize images and offer text descriptions of what they show. It is based on the same technology which lets users search for images by keyword, and the description of the image is auto-generated. "The unfortunate state right now is that there are still millions and millions of unlabeled images across the web," said Laura Allen, a senior program manager on the Chrome accessibility team.


How six young women invented a life-changing device in less than a day

Mashable

With just a few hours left to build a groundbreaking gadget, things weren't going as smoothly as planned. Six young women, all undergrad engineering students at MIT, had established a lofty goal: to create the first-ever affordable device that immediately translates printed text into Braille. The idea could prove revolutionary for the blind community, transforming how they read while also creating sorely needed opportunities for children with low or no vision. But throughout the hectic, 15-hour MakeMIT hackathon last February, the women -- competing as Team 100% Enthusiasm -- were running into snags. The lines for hackathon participants to use the 3D printers were taking forever.


The technology helping blind people to see

#artificialintelligence

Earlier this week, Facebook updated its iOS app offering voice descriptions of photographs uploaded by its users. A big step forward for accessibility, but it's far from the only company looking to make the world more inclusive to the visually impaired. In fact, rapid advances in artificial intelligence, machine vision and image-recognition technology are opening up the digital world to the blind and visually impaired – and helping them to interact with their surroundings. One interesting example is Austrian start-up BLITAB, which has created the first ever tactile tablet for blind and visually impaired people, dubbed "the iPad for the blind". As Kristina Tsvetanova, co-founder & CEO at BLITAB Technology, explains, the device looks similar to an ebook but displays small physical bubbles instead of using a screen, which means users can view whole pages of braille text at once, without any mechanical elements.


The technology helping blind people to see

#artificialintelligence

Earlier this week, Facebook updated its iOS app offering voice descriptions of photographs uploaded by its users. A big step forward for accessibility, but it's far from the only company looking to make the world more inclusive to the visually impaired. In fact, rapid advances in artificial intelligence, machine vision and image-recognition technology are opening up the digital world to the blind and visually impaired – and helping them to interact with their surroundings. One interesting example is Austrian start-up BLITAB, which has created the first ever tactile tablet for blind and visually impaired people, dubbed "the iPad for the blind". As Kristina Tsvetanova, co-founder & CEO at BLITAB Technology, explains, the device looks similar to an ebook but displays small physical bubbles instead of using a screen, which means users can view whole pages of braille text at once, without any mechanical elements.


Take a look inside the advances in AI and machine learning that are helping the blind to see

#artificialintelligence

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence, machine vision and image-recognition technology are opening up the digital world to the blind and visually impaired – and helping them to interact with their surroundings. One interesting example is Austrian start-up BLITAB, which has created the first ever tactile tablet for blind and visually impaired people, dubbed "the iPad for the blind". As Kristina Tsvetanova, co-founder & CEO at BLITAB Technology, explains, the device looks similar to an ebook but displays small physical bubbles instead of using a screen, which means users can view whole pages of braille text at once, without any mechanical elements. "It offers a completely new user experience for braille and non-braille readers via touch navigation, text-to-speech output and Perkins-style keyboard application. It also enables the direct conversion of any text file into braille and obtains information via NFC tags.


Existing Technologies Can Assist the Disabled

Communications of the ACM

More than 20% of U.S. adults live with some form of disability, according to a September 2015 report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The latest generation of smartphones, tablets, and personal computers are equipped with accessibility features that make using these devices easier, or at least, less onerous, for those who have sight, speech, or hearing impairments. These enhancements include functions such as screen-reading technology (which reads aloud text when the user passes a finger over it); screen-flashing notification when a call or message comes in for the hearing impaired; and voice controls of basic functions for those who are unable to physically manipulate the phone or computing device's controls. Other technologies that can help the disabled have or are coming to market, and not all of them are focused simply on providing access to computers or smartphones. Irrespective of the accessibility provided, most market participants agree more needs to be done to help those with disabilities to fully experience our increasingly digital world.