Thursday, November 16, 2006

Access innovations in cell phones

Two advances in the world of cell phones may further empower students with disabilities in coming days.

First, a group of researchers in IBM’s Hampshire, England lab have created
LAMA, or Location Aware Messaging for Accessibility,
a service that will stream information in an accessible format over a user’s cell phone. This application would put PA announcements in busy places such as airports, train stations, or hospitals, into text format for hearing impaired users. This system can also be used to alert hearing impaired users to fire alarms, which was the original concept for its inception.

It’s easy to see how such a system might be integrated with a university’s fire alarm system and be able to instantly notify hearing impaired students or faculty of the emergency status in an effective and timely manner.

According to the original BBC news article, people with other disabilities may be able to use the application as well. Information that is printed may be transmitted in an audio format to somebody who is visually impaired.

The second piece of cell phone news is from Korea. However, if they are able to do this there, why not on a more global basis?

This cell phone is directed at people with either a visual impairment or dyslexia, according to the original article. LG Electronics has created a cell phone with the ability to
play and store audio books.
The phone requires users to submit government certification of their disability at the purchasing site. Once users have the phone, they can download books from the LG Electronics website.

Interesting concept there, LG.

While these two advents on cell phones may or may not be practical applications that aren’t already being provided by other items, like maybe , audio books on portable mp3 players, they do indicate that electronic firms are trying to innovate change in the world of access.

These two applications are not in the mainstream US market yet, but are a couple of access items to be aware of in the coming months.

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