Raising the Floor News

Microsoft Kinect Begins to Excel at Sign Language Recognition

Almost as soon as Microsoft released its Kinect gesture recognition device in 2010, researchers and accessibility advocates saw potential for using it to read sign language. Now as a result of some research undertaken by Microsoft Research Asia and Beijing Union University, that potential is bearing fruit. The current experimental system does more than recognize a word at a time; it's capable of recognizing complete utterances, albeit at a somewhat slower than usual pace.

Posted on July 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm in Highlights

New European Portal on Accessible Technology

Several European accessibility programs have come together to establish ATIS4All, a collaborative portal on assistive technologies and inclusive solutions, aimed at ICT. When fully launched, the portal will connect with multiple resources, including all information repositories on AT, a compendium of laws and regulations, pointers to R&D projects, and a collection of best practices. Users can contribute their news and ideas with a simple account.

Posted on July 10, 2013 at 4:05 am in Highlights

Wibbitz Creates Video Summaries of Text Content

A new iOS app called Wibbitz takes text, such as news stories, and converts them into short videos with narrated summaries to listen to and images to watch. Designed for those who prefer rich media over straight reading, Wibbitz may be especially useful to anyone who needs to listen to content for better comprehension, prefers summaries over full text, or chooses the engagement of video over non-flowing media.

Posted on July 2, 2013 at 6:06 am in Highlights

Keys in the Cloud -- This Time, They're Real Keys

GPII envisions people storing their interface needs and preferences in the cloud as personalized keys to the ICT products and services they want to use. Meanwhile, KeyMe has your apartment keys in mind. You'll scan your key design into their secure server, and be able to get a copy any time from one of their kiosks. We hope those kiosks are accessible! 

Posted on July 1, 2013 at 6:26 am in Highlights

University Looking for Public Comment on Proposed Accessibility Policy

The University of California is updating its policies on accessible educational technology, and they're looking for public input. Under consideration are both an overall policy and specific accessibility requirements; comments are welcome on both. The policy statements are comprehensive and refer to both national and statewide mandates, supplemented by a statement about the universal benefits of accessibility. The requirements adopt WCAG 2.0 AA, and also refer to Sections 504 and 508.

Posted on June 1, 2013 at 7:23 am in Highlights

New Mobile Company Offers Phones and Service for Consumers with Vision Loss

Odinphone, a new mobile telecom startup, has entered the US market with a range of phones and network services that are aimed at consumers who are blind or have low vision. Their three phone models all provide simple navigation, magnification, and speech output, with menus and functions that are specifically designed for their intended customers. For example, the top-of-the-line phone, the RAY, integrates talking GPS, an audiobook player, a voice recorder, and color and currency recognition. 

Posted on May 31, 2013 at 4:12 am in Highlights

Surveys on Costs and Benefits of Accessibility

Fundosa Technosite S.A. is the Spanish foundation that participates in much of the work on e-accessibility in Europe, and a major GPII partner -- they lead the Cloud4All project.

Posted on May 27, 2013 at 6:05 am in HighlightsEconomics

New Toolkit for Broadband Adoption

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has released a new toolkit to help increase broadband Internet use. The report is loaded with examples of state and local programs and projects funded by NTIA and others that provide training, outreach, and technical support. Each example is connected to a "cookbook" step for those who want to build their own broadband adoption projects.

Posted on May 6, 2013 at 7:19 am in Highlights

Low Income and the Internet: Help on the Way?

Two initiatives, one private, one public, seek to help low income Americans get online. Cox Cable will begin a national broadband service for under $10 a month, including cable modem, installation, digital literacy training, and access to $150 refurbished computers. The offering is part of Connect2Compete, a cable industry program.

Posted on April 24, 2013 at 12:48 pm in HighlightsAssociated factors (age, poverty, etc.)

Gesture Control Going Mainstream

Leap Motion began as a standalone device that can interpret complex hand movements to drive software -- just scoot your hand to scroll a document, or paint onscreen with an airy wave of an index finger. Having all this accessibility in an $80 device is good enough news. But now Leap Motion has announced its deal with major PC manufacturer HP to add these capabilities to millions of mainstream computers. New machines with 3D motion control may be arriving in just a few months.

Posted on April 16, 2013 at 12:16 pm in Highlights