Raising the Floor News
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.
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.
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.
There's a new app in town for blind iOS users. TapTapSee lets you take a picture with your device, and get a suitable description in just a few seconds, spoken by iOS's VoiceOver. TapTapSee uses a combination of a database algorithm and cloud-crowdsourcing to identify images and return the most useful information.
A new report on the economic impact of vision loss from the International Federation on Ageing estimates its global costs at almost $3 trillion a year. The estimates are based on 285 million people who have low vision or are blind, with both direct and indirect costs, in developed and developing countries. The costs are expected to rise as the population ages, reaching $3.5 trillion by 2020.
Some of the key cost factors are:
Danish software company LingApps has released an accessibility-rich cloud-based editor compatible with Google Docs. AppWriter Cloud lets users read and edit Google Docs, using such features as highlighted text synchronized with text-to-speech, word or letter typing echo, and context-based word suggestions. AppWriter Cloud is an extension to the Chrome browser, with 50,000 users in Scandinavia.
Raymond Cohen, Chair of the Raising the Floor Board of Advisors passed away unexpectedly March 22, 2013 after being taken to the hospital.
Researchers at the University of Rochester Human Computer Interaction (ROCHCI) lab have developed a cloud-based, crowdsourced method of providing real-time captions, called Legion:Scribe. Instead of relying on a single trained transcriptionist, Legion:Scribe uses multiple untrained workers (from Amazon's Mechanical Turk global task-based labor pool) who each type as much as they can of what they hear, which the system evaluates and stitches together to form its text stream.
Cloud4all is the European Commission-funded project that's building important parts of the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII). The Cloud4all 0.1 framework release is intended to enable broader contributions from the Cloud4all community and to provide a stable platform for Assistive Technology developers to start the process of integrating their solutions. It's GPII's first public product!
This release will allow Windows (Windows 7) and Linux (Fedora 17) users to:
A recent story in GCN (formerly "Government Computer News") pointed to an Adobe training session on federal cloud computing with welcome attention to accessibility. The author, John Breeden II, pointed out that all the members of the "Optimizing Training and Mission Readiness through the Cloud" panel referred to Section 508 (a key law requiring federal ICT accessibility).