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Tactalis "tactile computer"?

While monitoring the AEBC twitter feed, I noticed a tweet from @Tactalis wondering what we 'thought' of their new tactile computer project. Basic information about the tactile computer is available on the IndieGoGo fundraising page for the project, where the company behind the initiative is working to raise $40,000 toward the project, which will be used for the first production run aimed at getting "tactile computers" into classrooms.

They describe it as follows:

Our groundbreaking platform embeds an array of switchable magnets beneath any LCD panel to instantly create tangible reproductions of images that are normally displayed only as pixels of light.

Book Club

Today was book club. This book club has shared favourte stories, favourte authors, favourite genres for ten years. Today was a new experience. My neighbour, the mother of one of my son’s very good friends who was a constant companion at my dinner table when the children were at home, an English teacher at my children’s high school has penned a historical fiction loosely based on her father’s immigration to Southwestern Ontario from Holland. Her book was our February 2014 choice and the author attended our meeting.

I thoroughly enjoy book club.

Solo-DX: Audio description for TV and theatre via your smartphone

The following message was forwarded to me, announcing the release of a new app (currently available on the Apple platform and soon to be available on Android) that is intended to make audio description available in movie theatres that are not directly equipped to provide description. In effect, it is an app that will "listen" to the movie soundtrack and synchronize its own descriptive track for the listener.

It appears that only one upcoming movie is currently supported by this app, but perhaps more will be forthcoming. This seems like it is intended to work not only in theatres but also for regular TV shows. The actual descriptive tracks appear to be produced independently from the movies themselves, though.

Your mileage may vary.

Fighting for more accessible elections

I am currently involved in a human rights complaint that is now going to Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

Blind sex offender skips jail: Corrections cannot accommodate blind prisoners

The accused, blind since the age of 16 as a result of a car accident, worked with the City of Calgary as a spokesperson and presenter on issues of blindness and disability. He has represented Canada at the Paralympic Games in 1984 and 1992. (By my reckoning, he must be at least in his 40's as a result.)

The accused, who has a prior criminal record for fraud over $5000, was convicted in 2012 of assault and sexual assault involving a friend. The question of sentencing -- and whether it would be proper for the accused to "be sentenced to a period of incarceration in a correctional facility given that he is blind and requires 24 hour assistance from his guide dog" -- was considered by a judge of the Alberta Provincial Court in April of this year: [R. v.

CRTC Response to DV Working Group Results

In 2009, the CRTC established a working group to look at various matters relating to descriptive video. In particular, the working group was to look at some technical matters (such as enabling the pass-thru of DV), some practical matters (such as providing means for viewers to activate descriptive video, and ensuring that the availability of DV would be advertised in program listings).

Among other things, the DVWG was responsible for the production of the audio description public service announcement that has seen considerable air play. (The, "A woman enters a kitchen..." PSA.)

The CRTC's response to the DVWG's activities is provided below.

Accessibility and the Public Interest

Technology is the great equalizer when it comes to people with disabilities. Regardless of how accessible the technology is however, it is only as accessible as the underlying infrastructure. If web sites, apps and content are not designed to be accessible, it does not matter if your personal access technology is.

The absence of accessible information, communications and technologies deployed in support of programs and services will often result in inaccessible outcomes.

there are plenty of examples of inaccessible information, communications and technology deployments, but I will provide just a few to make the point.

In the case of Information...

Information is content.

Empire Theatre Kanata 1st Theatre in Ottawa to offer Described Video (DV) Capability For Blind Patrons In All Rooms In The Movie Theatre!

When Empire Theatre took over the 24 Cinema AMC facilities in Kanata, the whole theatre got a huge upgrade. The equipment is brand new and man does it shine. The level of accessibility for people with disabilities of the theatre offerings is truly impressive. I had the opportunity to give this system a run through this month and it is fantastic.

"Get Together With Technology" - Exploring technology in Ottawa

For those who are in or near the Ottawa area, a new program has been started which might broaden your horizons regarding the technology that is available for blind and partially sighted users.  "Get Together with Technology" (GTT) is a group which meets on a monthly basis to discuss technology, share resources, take training sessions, and so on.  From their blog:

The quest for a high contrasting black mobile phone experience for low vision users

I am a perfect example of someone who needs a high contrasting color scheme to be able to effectively use an interface.

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