Monthly Archives: May 2017

Former Microsoft design director on shaping Hololens, Xbox and Cortana with inclusive design thinking

Kat Holmes is the former principal director of Inclusive Design at Microsoft. In this episode, we talk about the definition of inclusive design, take an inside look at her “special ops” design unit, and dive into the best method for deploying human-centered design.

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Former Microsoft design director on shaping Hololens, Xbox and Cortana with inclusive design thinking | TechCrunch

What Non-Disabled People Get Wrong About Accessibility

…there are a LOT of disabled people in the world, with most estimates at somewhere between 15% and 25% of people being disabled in some way. It’s also because of the way that abled (or non-disabled) people Just Don’t Get It in a million tiny huge ways that add up and can make being their friends or partners noticeably more difficult or more tiring than being friends or partners with other disabled people.It’s not their lack of disability itself that is the problem so much as that we all live in a very disablist (ableist / anti-disabled-people / disabling) society and we’re all unlearning a load of bullshit we’ve been taught about disabled people… and those of us who are disabled tend to unlearn this stuff faster.

Because we unlearn this stuff by hard experience. And abled people have to unlearn it by listening to disabled people and treating us as the experts (in a society that constantly pushes the idea that disabled people are the last people you should ask about disability after our doctors and carers and families…) or by becoming disabled themselves and learning it the hard way.

So: What Abled People Get Wrong About Accessibility

1. Treating access as an optional extra, last minute adjustment or add-on

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to interrupt a discussion of an event being planned to ask “But how can we make it accessible?”

2. Expecting disabled people to ask for access


This is one thing I encounter pretty much whenever I leave my flat (everyone inside my flat is disabled and my flat is arranged to suit us). Abled society from individual abled people to small groups, to huge multinational organisations..

3. Having decent disabled access and not telling anyone

I used to live near a gym and swimming pool. It had gender-neutral, wheelchair accessible changing rooms.It had both standard and Changing Places accessible bathrooms It had a hoist for the swimming pool. It had step-free access to everything and lifts to all floors.

4.  Claiming to be “fully accessible”

This again follows neatly from the previous point. SO MANY places and events and groups claim on their websites or flyers to be “Fully Accessible” or “Accessible”. And don’t expand on that. What on Earth do they expect us to understand by “Fully Accessible”?

5. Assuming you know who is and who isn’t “really” disabled

And then only offering access to those people you think are “really disabled”. This is standard almost everywhere and it’s a dick move.

6. Assuming everything we need is provided

*sarcastic laughter* Ahem. So, there’s a lot of things that would make my life as a disabled person much easier and more equal with my not-currently-disabled peers. Assistive tech, support workers, physiotherapy , care workers, mobility equipment etc etc. Some of these things I’ve managed to get, none of these things are free or easy to acquire – even though the UK has free health care and free social services,

7. Assuming we all have an abled person with us at all times

Some but nowhere near all disabled people need another person with them all the time (I’m one of them!) but that other person isn’t necessarily a nondisabled person. In my experience, the people we tend to have around us aren’t nondisabled people who are paid to help us

8. Assuming That Separate is Equal

NO IT’S NOT. I can’t believe I’m still having to say this.
If your access solution is to have a special time or day or event  or space for disabled people separate from a similar thing for “everyone” that isn’t as accessible… that’s not a solution and I can’t believe that I still have to say so.

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: What Non-Disabled People Get Wrong About Accessibility | yetanotherlefty

New Vision-Impaired User Interface – Virgin Australia

 

Image of ‘Welcome Aboard’ main menu

Virgin Australia has become the first airline in the Asia Pacific region, and the second airline in the world, to introduce an in-flight entertainment (IFE) user interface for passengers who are blind or have low vision.

The new interface increases accessibility to IFE content through simplified screen layouts, larger icons and voice prompts. It will be available soon on Virgin Australia’s entire fleet of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which feature a seatback entertainment system, and is being rolled-out on the Airbus A330 fleet in May and June 2017.

The airline’s wireless IFE system is available on its Boeing 737-800 and Embraer E190 fleets, and is accessible to vision impaired passengers via screen reader software available on their own devices.

Virgin Australia General Manager, In Flight Experience, Tash Tobias, said in the launch announcement on 19 April 2017 that “we are determined to ensure travel with Virgin Australia is enjoyable for all of our guests and we are delighted to introduce this new user interface for guests who are blind or have low vision.”

Curated by lifekludger

Read full article at source

Emma – a prototype watch, raising hope for Parkinson’s disease

‘My God, it’s better’: Emma can write again thanks to a prototype watch, raising hope for Parkinson’s disease

 


The Emma Watch and a special Windows 10 tablet that controls it.

Engraved on the watch is a name – “emma” – in breezy lettering that, to Lawton’s eyes, looks eerily similar to her own handwriting. Impossible, however. She’s been unable to write legibly for years due to hand tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease. Lawton, a graphic designer, was diagnosed with the movement disorder in 2013, destroying her ability to do two things sacred to her: drawing letters and lines.

Those losses inspired Zhang, a Microsoft researcher, to spend months studying Parkinson’s disease while building and testing prototypes that could, she hoped, temporarily short-circuit the hand tremors, allowing Lawton to write her own name again. That’s why the two women now huddle closely in Lawton’s London flat, staring at the only watch of its kind.

“There was a lot hanging in that moment. Would it work?” Lawton recalls later. “I could see she was scared. I felt like I was going to cry. But you always have that little hope that somebody is going to make something that’s going to make your life a little easier.”

Zhang presses a button on the tablet, activating the watch. Lawton puts pen to paper.

♦♦♦♦♦

Haiyan Zhang on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington.

Zhang was born in China. At age 9, she migrated with her parents to Australia where she was the only Asian child in her primary school, an oddity to classmates. As an outsider, the once vocal and confident girl lost her strong voice, and it took a l0ng time to find it again, she wrote in a blog. Eventually, in the world of technology, Zhang soared. She joined Microsoft in 2012, initially leading an innovation team in one of the Xbox gaming studios, excited by the tech potential for new forms of play.

“I was really excited to have someone so clever work on my challenge,” Lawton says. “She’s one of the smartest people I know.”

Lawton was born in Bedfordshire, a county in the east of England. She dreamed of acting but ultimately fell in love with design, pursuing that as a career. By her late 20s, Lawton’s right arm began to have “a mind of its own,” she wrote in her book, “Dropping the P Bomb.” Parkinson’s was the cause. Hand tremors, which Lawton describes as sometimes “going whole hog,” are a primary symptom of her progressive disease – one that affects more than 10 million in the world.

“Emma’s the real inspiration in terms of how she’s managing this condition and succeeding,” Zhang says. “It’s challenging enough being a woman in technology in the workplace. For her to take on this additional challenge, it’s amazing to me.”
As they got to know one another, the question became: Could Zhang’s tech skills help alleviate Lawton’s loss of writing function?

 

Curated by Lifekludger. Source: ‘My God, it’s better’: Emma can write again thanks to a prototype watch, raising hope for Parkinson’s disease – Transform

Airpoly Vision us a Truly Visionary App

Image of Aipoly Vision logo

‘Aipoly Vision’ is a very useful object-and-colour recogniser app that helps the blind, vision-impaired, and colour blind to understand their surroundings. It does so by using artificial intelligence to recognise objects through a device’s camera and then announces the name of each object to the user.

The Aipoly(link is external) developers are on a self-declared mission to build scalable vision intelligence. They intend to add facial recognition to the Aipoly Vision app, whereby users will be able to enter the names of people visible in the camera frame for ongoing recognition. They have also indicated that the app will soon be able to be taught new objects. When pointed at an object which is not recognised, users will be able to enter the name of the object which will be remembered the next time that object is encountered.

This app is an excellent example of how emerging technology can make a positive difference to users right now, and it comes with an ‘intelligent torch’ feature which automatically turns on the device’s torch if the camera frame is too dark, allowing the app to work in low-light situations.

Curated by lifekludger

Read full article at source 

How a Smart Home Empowers People with Disabilities

While advances in personal technology continue at a rapid pace, at times their designers seem to forget about the population that could perhaps benefit from it the most. Stabelfeldt says just the ability to charge a phone with a wheelchair didn’t even exist until a few years ago.

But features like Apple’s “Home” app allow Stabelfeldt to control a variety of smart accessories in his house — from door locks and window shades, to lights and his garage door. The best part for Stabelfeldt? He can command Apple’s intelligent digital assistant Siri to work it all.


A Game Changer
“We put a lot of time and effort into making sure our products are as accessible as possible for all users,” said Apple’s Sarah Herrlinger. She has worked at Apple for nearly 14 years and is their Senior Manager of accessibility policy and initiatives.

“For some people, doing something like turning on your lights or opening a blind or changing your thermostat might be seen as a convenience, but for others, that represents empowerment, and independence, and dignity,” she told NBC News.

“HomeKit and Switch Control and Siri have given me a lot of value and a lot of opportunities to demonstrate that I’m a quality man and I’m a man of integrity,” Todd Stabelfeldt. “To get up every day and go to work: Everybody’s valuable, everybody has worth, everybody should have the opportunity to demonstrate it.”

JAWS screen reader gets more bight

Image of JAWS screen reader logo

Freedom Scientific has recently released JAWS 18.0.2738, which incorporates several important improvements made between the JAWS February 2017 release and this mid April 2017 update, plus dozens of less revolutionary but very practical enhancements.

JAWS (Job Access With Speech) is the world’s most popular screen reader, developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse. It allows blind and vision-impaired people to read the screen either with a text-to-speech output or by a refreshable Braille display.

The latest update resolved some minor issues within the software itself, as well as providing a long list of user enhancements and expanded features when using JAWS with Microsoft Office, Google Docs, on a variety of Web Browsers, and in Windows 10.

Source: JAWS screen reader gets more bight | Media Access Australia

TED Talks on Designing for Disability

TED Talks on Designing for Disability: TED Talks (technology, entertainment and design) are short presentations delivered to live audiences by subject experts and recorded on video for later viewing online. The Designing for Disability playlist is 10 TED talks on good design, life hacks and smart technology to empower and include people with disability. The videos are free. See: https://www.ted.com/playlists/372/designing_for_disability

Source: Ted