Today, we celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the landmark legislation that made equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities the law of the land. Since its passage over twenty years ago, the increased accessibility wireless innovations have afforded those with disabilities is truly transformational. With the help of wireless devices, the disability community is experiencing quality of life advances and new independence in their everyday lives.
The awe-inspiring progress and profound innovation we’ve seen in the mobile applications market has opened up a new world of possibilities for the 54 million Americans living with disabilities. These innovations are allowing kids with disabilities to bring the technology they need to school on the coolest new smartphones and tablets, and with 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day this year, wireless advances will allow them to live their lives the way they always have.
These transformative technologies include:
Having a modern speech synthesizer in the palm of your hand. Instead of relying on computers and cumbersome devices to convert text-to-speech, those with visual impairments can now employ ZoomReader to hear what’s written on everything from menus to medications and e-mails. Using the iPhone’s built-in camera, users are able to convert writing into text which the app can read aloud or magnify so those users with low vision can more easily read. The camera’s LED flash can also be used as a flashlight to make reading in dark places easier with LED Torch Flashlight.
Even US currency can now easily be identified and read aloud with the help of your smartphone and LookTel Money Reader .
Touring local museums. Keen Guides has revolutionized the way those with hearing impairments tour local venues. By combining video tours with closed captioning, Keen Guides lets users experience a variety of locations including cultural sites, colleges and parks all around the country via their mobile device.
Communicating with others. iConverse helps individuals with communicative disabilities express their thoughts and feelings by providing images and icons of various everyday occurrences for the users to select. Not only does the app allow users to develop their own custom images, but users can add text to the pictures which the app reads aloud.
Placing a call with minimal steps. For those with visual and dexterity impairments, navigating an address book and dialing a number can be a hurdle. A Special Phone has eliminated many of these challenges and allows users to place a call by simply shaking the smartphone.
Our mobile device has quickly become one of the most important gadgets we own. For the one in five Americans that has a disability, smartphones have moved far beyond being just a communication tool- they are revolutionizing the way people with disabilities interact with the world around them. As we continue down this road of exciting innovation and jaw-dropping developments, the future advancements in accessibility are endless.