Adapting VR Games for People with Disabilities | Accessibility VR Meetup Recap

From A11Y: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Beat Saber, Job Simulator, AudioShield, BoxVR, and many more games are engaging and very immersive. But they haven’t been accessible for everyone… until now. Players with disabilities can play the best VR games with WalkinVR Driver .

Greg Bednarski  presented adaptation methods that make virtual reality more accessible.

He demonstrated adaptation methods provided via WalkinVR that allow people with disabilities to play in virtual reality:

  • Play with another person’s assistance
  • Allow people with limited motion to move with controllers
  • Use controllers to move virtually (also called space drag)
  • Engage without using controllers

Greg Bednarski is a big fan of VR who has a mission to help everyone to join the virtual world, regardless of their disabilities. He designed and created WalkinVR, the first software that adapts virtual reality for people with disabilities. VR opens a world without boundaries, where physical limitations don’t stop them from discovering all that VR has to offer.

Here are some of the highlights from this presentation:

Here’s the transcript [PDF] .

TAPPING INTO TECHNOLOGY to Stay Connected and Engaged

From ENGAGED: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Introduction

Staying connected and engaged with friends, family and community is important, not just because it adds pleasure and meaning, but because it can also improve our quality of life and support our overall physical health and mental health.

Read on to discover simple tips to getting started using technology to stay connected and engaged!

Importance of Social Engagement Technology and Engagement Using technology is just one way to maintain social connections and stay engaged in your community. You don’t necessarily need to leave your home. You can also use the telephone, tablet or computer to connect with family, friends and others.

A program for cheaper internet for low-income Americans launches today

By Justine Calma: For Complete Post, Click Here…

The FCC extended assistance that started during the pandemic.

Starting today, eligible US residents can apply for help with their internet bills under the new Affordable Connectivity Program. The program launched today with $14.2 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law passed in November.

Households can apply to take up to $30 a month off their internet service bill. For households on qualifying Tribal lands, the discount is up to $75 per month. The program could help to connect millions of people to the internet who haven’t had access to it at home, especially in communities that have historically faced more barriers to getting online.

Almost a third of people living on Tribal lands lacked high-speed internet at home in 2017, according to a report by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). That’s compared to just 1.5 percent of city-dwellers without high-speed internet access. On top of limited infrastructure, cost is often another barrier. The United States has the second-highest broadband costs out of 35 countries studied by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). And American Indian and Alaska Native people have the highest poverty rate of any race group in the US, according to the US Census Bureau.

To even apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program, someone has to be able to get online. They’ll need to visit ACPBenefit.org to apply or print out a mail-in application.

Folks eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program can also qualify for a one-time $100 discount for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer from participating providers (including T-Mobil, AT&T, and Verizon).

World Braille Day: 4 January

From the UN: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Even under normal circumstances, persons with disabilities—one billion people worldwide— are less likely to access health care, education, employment and to participate in the community. They are more likely to live in poverty, experience higher rates of violence, neglect and abuse, and are among the most marginalized in any crisis-affected community.

For the visually impaired, life under lockdown has posed several issues in terms of independence and isolation, especially for people who rely on the use of touch to communicate their needs and access information. The pandemic has revealed how critically important it is to produce essential information in accessible formats, including in Braille and audible formats. Otherwise, many persons with disabilities could face a higher risk of contamination due to a lack of access of guidelines and precautions to protect and reduce the spreading of a pandemic. COVID-19 has also emphasized the need to intensify all activities related to digital accessibility to ensure digital inclusion of all people.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many good practices have been implemented by parts of the United Nations system to promote a disability-inclusive response to the COVID-19 and disseminate information in Braille.

In Malawi, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has produced 4,050 braille materials on awareness and prevention of COVID-19. In Ethiopia, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) disseminated audio information, and education and communication materials, to media professionals, and has developed Braille versions of the educational messages. UNICEF has produced guidance notes that are available in multiple languages and accessible formats (including Braille and ‘easy-to-read’). ‘COVID-19: Considerations for Children and Adults with Disabilities’ addresses such issues as access to information; water, sanitation and hygiene; health care; education; child protection; and mental health and psychosocial support, as well as considerations for an inclusive workplace.

World Braille Day, celebrated since 2019, is observed to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication in the full realization of the human rights for blind and partially sighted people.

What is Braille?

A Texas teen couldn’t speak with his sister, so he created an app to give her a voice

By Sophie Tremblay: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Archer Calder spent his childhood unable to talk with his younger sister, Della, his only sibling. Della has Bainbridge-Ropers syndrome, a rare genetic condition which affects her ability to eat, move and speak. “I’ve never grown up with a neurotypical sibling, so that comparison is hard for me to make,” Archer, 17, told CNN. “But I’ll say that she’s definitely very opinionated. If things don’t quite go her way, she lets you know that.

Della, 14, grew up using a combination of hand signals and short sounds to communicate with her family and caregivers. In her early teens, she was introduced to augmentative and alternative communications (AAC) applications, programs designed to help people who have trouble with speech or language skills. But her family was disappointed with the results.

Archer felt it was unfair the ability to communicate, something he believed was fundamental to being human, was causing families like his to make financial sacrifices.

“She wants to communicate like everybody else. And just imagine how hard it would be if you couldn’t communicate by talking to people,” he said. So Archer began using his coding abilities to develop a web-based application called Freespeech. The site can be accessed from any device — phones, tablets and computers — with internet access. The simple website lets users program buttons with images of their choice to represent words. When clicked, the word is sounded out loud. Unlike many other AAC applications, Freespeech’s buttons are easily editable, a feature Archer believed was critical to how Della wanted to communicate. “Della’s interests come and go. We need to be able to add buttons for all the ‘Clarence’ characters and add all the ‘Addams Family’ characters and then take them off when she loses interest,” said Chad Calder, Della’s and Archer’s father, referring to Della’s favorite TV shows. “These are the things she wants to talk about.” While there was still a learning curve for Della to start using Freespeech, it wasn’t long before the Calder family noticed a change in how Della was able to communicate with them. “In the past, when we had to run errands, we just took her, she was never really consulted,” Chad told CNN. “[Freespeech] has really helped to bring her more into the conversation and more into the dynamic of our family.” The family says it has also helped them discover more of her personality.

Community Access Center’s (CAC) Modular Ramp Recycle Program

By AbilityTools Staff: For Complete Post, Click Here…

For about six months now, I have been plagued by a pinched nerve in my neck; aside from losing the use of my right arm and leg, my balance has also deteriorated drastically. As a result, I have been relying more and more on rollators to walk.

For someone with physical disability, durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, and rollators are often considered an extension of one’s body, not unlike glasses can be seen as an extension of one’s eyes, as a matter of fact, I often think of my smartphone as an extension of my brain! If one relies on a wheelchair to move around, then the size of one’s world can be limited by places inaccessible to the wheelchair; in some cases, even one’s own house.

One thing I’ve noticed while using rollators to walk is that whenever there is a threshold, more force has to be applied in order to force it over. And of course, rollators have to be carried up the stairs, which made me think that perhaps I did not give enough credit to our Modular ramp recycle programs.

I work as the Assistive Technology Specialist for the Community Access Center in Riverside, in terms of geography our service area is quite wide, from Corona in the west all the way to Blythe in the east. That also includes quite a few rural areas and reservations. I started my job here in 2009 and for the majority of the time working here, there has been this ramp that we run quite successfully – in terms of numbers, but since I am not a wheelchair user, its actual significance has escaped me.

Now that I have become a rollator user, I frequently wish that my rollator can climb the stairs with me, which brings us back to our Modular ramp recycle program; at the time of writing, Community Access Center has around 150 modular ramps circulating in the field. These modular ramps cost anywhere between $3000.00 and $5000.00 each, these price points can be well beyond the reach of someone on fixed income. To make the matter worse, a plurality of people on fixed income live in modular homes in mobile home parks, those modular homes typically have 3-4 steps with fairly steep inclines. In other words, if you are a wheelchair user living in modular homes, these ramps are a necessity.

To alleviate the above mentioned financial burden, the Community Access Center has purchased almost 150 modular ramps since 2014 for the purpose of loaning them out long term; they are yours to keep for as long as you need them, and when you decide that you no longer need the ramps, we will repossess them before loaning them to the next person that need them free of charge. In the almost ten years this program has been running, we lost only two modular ramps when the consumers passed away; So, our modular ramp recycling program has become a very crucial part of the Riverside community.

Navigational Apps for the Blind Could Have a Broader Appeal

By Amanda Morris: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Nearly every blind person has at least one story of getting lost or disoriented.

Despite the use of walking canes, guide dogs, help from strangers, and popular navigational apps like Google Maps, Clark Rachfal, director of advocacy and governmental affairs for the American Council of the Blind, said losing your way is still a huge issue for many blind and low vision people. Simply hearing directions from an app like “in 500 feet turn right,” often isn’t enough information to guarantee independence and safety.

“We travel our familiar routes because we know the path is accessible and we know our familiar landmarks,” he said.

That may change, though, with the release of new apps specifically designed with pedestrians and accessibility in mind. Thanks to improvements in mapping technology and smartphone cameras, a number have emerged with features like indoor navigation, detailed descriptions of the surrounding environment and more warnings about obstacles.

“We’re still early on — these technologies have just been popping up over the last 10 years,” Mr. Rachfal said. “I think there’s a lot of mainstream potential to providing greater access to transportation and information for people with disabilities and the broader community.”

Nail Clippers with fold-Away Magnifier and LED Light

On Amazon: For Complete Post, Click Here…

  • 💕【Material】The nail clipper is sharp to cut nails quickly and the handle use ABS resin to make,is not slippery and comfortable to hold.The nail clipper is rusty free,sturdy and durable,can stay sharp for a long time
  • 💕【Professional nail clippers】: The nail clipper with a 2.5X magnifying glass for a clear and natural view to reduce eyestrain. The angle and position of the magnifying glass can be adjusted to fit different needs. With LED lights, you can clearly see your fingers even in low light, and cut your nails perfectly
  • 💕【For elderly】: Allow the elderly to cut finger and toe nail by themselves.It’s easier to see the nail as you clip for accurate, safe results every time
  • 💕【 For baby】: Clipping baby’s tiny nails can be stressful-unless you have the right tool!, with precision, stainless steel blades and an ergonomic sure-grip shape. Sized and scaled for tiny nails, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief with this clever clipper in hand
  • 💕【A light weight and small nail clipper】: You can carry one in your bag,pocket,let you cut your kid’s nails at anywhere and anytime. Show your care and love to your child and the elder

BELKIN VISION, AN ISRAELI STARTUP, WILL OFFER FAST, NON INVASIVE TREATMENT FOR GLAUCOMA

From The Assistive Technology Blog: For Complete Post, Click Here…

140 million people worldwide have Glaucoma or Ocular Hypertension with 80% of these patients in emerging economies. Glaucoma is incurable but with treatment its progression can be delayed.

The most popular treatment for Glaucoma is eye drops that need to be taken every day multiple times for the rest of a person’s life. This treatment has poor compliance and typically 50% of patients stop taking eye drops after one year. Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is another treatment – a procedure that is invasive and requires advanced skill and precision to deliver hundred separate laser shots to the eye for at least five minutes. Because of the precision needed, SLT is not available as a first line of treatment for all Glaucoma patients.

Belkin Vision, an Israeli startup is working on making fast, non-invasive treatment accessible for everyone by automating the SLT procedure. Direct SLT, invented by Belkin, requires no direct contact with the eye. An advanced algorithm locates the treatment area and with just a press of a button, 120 lasers are delivered to the eye at the speed of light. As a result, the patient is in and out within minutes. Also, because of no contact involved, it becomes much more desirable, especially during times like Coronavirus pandemic.

Because DSLT does not require advanced skills, it can also be delivered by cataract surgeons, general ophthalmologists and optometrists, allowing a larger population to get this treatment right away.

Twitter adds auto captions feature to make videos more accessible

By Amanda Silberling: For Complete Post, click here…

Starting today, Twitter is rolling out auto-generated captions on videos. This feature will make videos more accessible for deaf and hard-of-hearing users. Auto captions will be available on web, iOS and Android in over 30 languages, including English, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, Thai, Chinese, Hindi and many more.

The captions could become useful in Twitter’s new vertical feed the company began testing last week. The feed, if rolled out publicly, would make the app’s Explore tab resemble TikTok, serving one piece of algorithmically recommended content at a time, including videos. On feeds like this, captioned videos have become expected because they make it easier to scroll through feeds when you’re in a public place and headphones aren’t in reach.

But unlike the video caption features on TikTok and Instagram Reels — which allow users to edit the captions’ text before posting — Twitter won’t let users tweak its captions. That means users won’t be able to correct any errors to make the automated captions more accurate.