January 29, 2008 Access to cell-phones in today’s increasingly technological world is important for all people, not just those with 20/20 vision. The latest news in this sector comes from Kurzweil Technologies, which in a joint venture with the National Federation of the Blind in the US, has announced the pairing of its K-NFB Reading Technology software with the Nokia N82 mobile phone.
The new knfbREADER Mobile for the blind and learning disabled is billed as the smallest text-to-speech reading device available on the market. The pocket-size Reader enables users to take pictures of and read most printed materials at the push of a button. Vision-impaired users hear the contents of the document read in clear synthetic speech, while users who can see the screen and those with learning disabilities can enlarge, read, track, and highlight printed materials using the phone’s large and easy-to-read display. The combination of text-to-speech and tracking features makes interpreting text much easier for individuals with learning disabilities.
Using the Nokia N82 running on a Symbian operating system with its integrated high-resolution camera, the Reader puts the best available character-recognition software together with text-to-speech conversion technology. The product includes Kurzweil's unique intelligent image processing software to enhance real-world images captured by a handheld device. Blind users will have access to all of the functions featured in the most advanced cell phones on the market including video and music playback, GPS, wireless communications, photography, e-mail, text messaging, calendar and task functions, and more. The combination Reader and cell phone weighs 4.2 ounces and can store thousands of printed pages with easily obtainable extra memory. Users can transfer files to computers or Braille notetakers in seconds.
Other mobile device solutions for the vision impaired include the screenless phone from Owasys. The Owasys 22C is a talking cell phone designed for the blind that does not have a screen. It has widely spaced buttons that are easily found and operated and features talking Caller ID, battery and signal strength, phonebook, call logs, and configuration menus. Every function on the phone speaks to the user.
ETO engineering also offers a range of mobile phone solutions specifically designed for users with various disabilities including the Mobile Speak Smartphone with Fonix DECTalk. - a Windows Smartphone is loaded with a software application which renders on-screen information as synthesized speech routed through the device’s speaker or a headset. Screen contents can also be presented in Braille if the mobile phone or PDA is connected to a Braille device with a refreshable Braille display.