Universal Access
Iain Murray
Curtin University of Technology
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Rehabilitation Engineering Research
 Project Descriptions & Definitions
 Motivation & Strategy
 Access Methods
 Assistive Devices both High Tech and Low
 Braille displays to pipe cleaners
 Current Development
 What now?
 Rehabilitation Engineering is the systematic
application of engineering sciences to design,
develop, adapt, test, evaluate, apply, and
distribute technological solutions to problems
confronted by individuals with disabilities in
functional areas, such as mobility,
communications, hearing, vision, and cognition,
and in activities associated with employment,
independent living, education, and integration
into the community.
(US Rehabilitation Act of 1973)
Rehabilitation Engineering is a multidisciplinary
science and may include any or all of the
following professions or areas of expertise.
 Physical Therapist
 Occupational Therapist
 Rehabilitation Engineer
 Rehabilitation Engineering Technician
 Prosthetist
 Physician
 19% of the Australian population have disabilities or
functional limitations, which a major cause is aging (ABS,
 Includes those.
 born with disabilities.
 whose abilities diminish during their lifetime through disease,
accident or ageing.
 There is a demographic trend toward a growing elderly
population (particularly as the "babyboomer" generation
 Raises the prospect of a large number of consumers with
decreasing abilities.
 67% of Vision Impaired (VI) have another
permanent illness or disability
 35% of VI experience difficulty in hearing normal
speech (50% for those over 75)
 56% of VI children have at least one other
 Over half of VI people (in the UK) live alone
(Gill, 2004)
 Develop systems and methodologies to
assist people with sensory disabilities to
gain access to education and technology
 Rehabilitation Engineering Research Laboratory
 Researchers
 2 academic staff
 1 technical staff
 6 Postgraduate students
 2 Masters and 4 PhD
 Over 30 Honours students (4th & 5th year engineering)
 Industry & consumer advisors
Current Access Methods
 For low vision users.
 Screen enlargement.
 Zoomtext, Magic.
 Screen review programs.
 Jaws, Slimware, Artic.
 Two output methods - speech and Braille displays.
 Screen review software must rely on text output.
 Tactile Graphics
 Printed Braille and Audio recordings
Access Methods
 Other Disabilities
Morse, Eye tracking, scan boards.
Emphasis on keyboard/mouse replacement issues.
Subtitles, visual alerts, transcription of
Many others.
Current Research Projects
Cisco Access for the Vision Impaired (CAVI)
Curtin University Brailler (CUB)
Wireless Stereo Headset
Parakeet -Apple OS X Accessibility
iView - Classroom Aid for Low Vision Students
Auslan to Text
Currency Identifier for the Blind
Braille Scanner
Ultrasonic White Cane/Seeing with Sound
7 Segment reader and colour sensor
Curtin University Brailler (CUB)
 Perkins Brailler
Mechanical only
Qui ckTime™ and a
TIFF ( LZW) decompressor
are needed to see this pi cture.
 Mountbatten Brailler
Electronic, very old technology
Curtin University Brailler (CUB)
 Low Cost
 Modern Materials
 Forward & Back Translation
 Use by Deaf/Blind
Braille Scanner
 Aimed at Sighted non-Braille Readers
 Converts Braille to Expanded Text in real
Purpose of the Device
 To overcome the written communications barrier
between seeing and blind person’s
 Schooling system
 Workplace
 As an aid to persons with Diabetic Peripheral
Polyneuropathy (diabetes being the major cause of
blindness is Australia)
 No feasible commercial product exists for the portable
translation of Braille into other mediums
Prototype Implementation
Image Capture
Image Capture Operation
QuickTime™ and a
YUV420 codec decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
DSP Braille Recognition
 Once commercialised, the device has
potential to act as a written
communication’s gateway between seeing
and vision impaired person’s.
A Secure Dual Channel Wireless
Headset for Multi-user
 Funded by Dept. of Training
Science & Technology Grant
 Joint Project
Association for the Blind WA
Project Objectives
 Aim: To increase labor market
opportunities for vision impaired persons
(VIP’s) in call center environments.
 (Department of Training, 2002)
 Why Wireless:
VIP’s have prevailing difficulties
with cable entanglement and cable jack damage
 Why Secure:
Call centers often deal with
sensitive information, ie banking, government etc,
and device must be protected against eavesdropping
Additional Criteria
 High quality, real time, duplex, stereo audio
 Low Power: Must be able to run for > 8 hours on single
battery charge
Ergonomic: Low Headset weight (subject to regulations).
ie battery mAh/weight compromise
Flexible: System must be able to accommodate
encryption, communications medium upgrades
Low Cost
Robust Sound Quality: Device must operate in multi-user
Communications Issues
RF / 802.1x
 Security an issue for call center operations involving banking
 Bandwidth issues for quality real time audio
 RAC Joondalup Call Center has over 300 operators
 Power consumption
 Current 802.11g devices draw over 300mA, ⇒ batteries for all day
operation would be impracticably large
 Less Ergonomic (user movement restriction)
 Inherently secure, robust, lower power
 Satisfies System Requirements
Proof of Concept Prototype
 Dual channel, two-way,
high quality, low power
infrared headset
prototype which has
been field tested by
the ABWA and
DSP based system
Upgradeable, flexible
Ultra Low Power
Secure comm’s
Current BOM < $150
…IR TxRx’s < $3
Cellular Architecture
Current Form
Ideal Form
The Future
 Infrared / 802.1x Hybrid
 Keep low power, security, and bandwidth benefits of
infrared, but combine with 802.11g to overcome
infrared mobility issue.
 Commercialisation
 Packaging
 Alternative markets
 Navy
 The project involves designing, building and
testing a screen reader application for Mac OS X
operating system.
 A screen reader is an application that allows a vision-
impaired person to use a graphical user interface by
providing audible feedback in the form of speech.
 The screen reader interrogates the actions of the
user via the Accessibility APIs and produces
speech output using the text-to-speech (TTS)
 Both of these APIs are provided by Apple as part of
Mac OS X.
 Information-efficient text-entry interface
 driven by natural continuous pointing gestures.
 operating a computer one-handed
 with zero hands (i.e., by head-mouse or by eyetracker).
 The eyetracking version of Dasher
allows an
experienced user to write text as fast as normal
handwriting - 25 words per minute; using a mouse,
experienced users can write at 39 words per minute.
Auslan to Text
Auslan to Text
QuickTime™ and a
Video decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
Currency Identifier
 Australian Polymer notes are of a similar size
 Hard to distinguish denomination if totally blind
 Utilises the unique pattern in the clear window
Ultrasonic White Cane
 Augments the standard long cane
 Warns of
 Head height obstructions
 Drop off (e.g. Stairs)
 Simple user interface
Qu ickT ime™ an d a M icro soft Vide o 1 d eco mpre ssor are need ed to see this pict ure.
 Earcons were first proposed by Meera Blattner in
 They are abstract, musical tones that can be
used in structured combinations to create
auditory messages.
 "non-verbal audio messages that are used in the
computer/user interface to provide information
to the user about some computer object,
operation or interaction"
 They are based on musical sounds.
 The Networking Academy program is an
e-learning model that delivers Web-based
educational content, online testing,
student performance tracking, and
instructor training and support, as well as
hands-on labs. (Cisco,2002)
CAVI Project Description
 Develop a method of course delivery to
vision impaired students
Standard Curriculum
Existing lab bundles
CCNA initially
Long term aim to include other academy programs
Create a “bridge” between the curriculum and
assistive technology
Includes instructor training
Student Motivation
 Self Esteem
 Independence
 Employment Opportunities
 Ease the problems for other VIPs
Curriculum Access
 Use text documents
 Explain diagrams
 Stress important but uniquely difficult points
 The OSI model
 Layer 2 technologies
 Tactile objects
 Network dominoes
 Pipe cleaners
 Function Generator
Some of the Students
QuickTime™ and a DV - PAL decompressor are needed to see this picture.
Number Systems & Subnetting
QuickTime™ and a DV - PAL decompressor are needed to see this picture.
Access Methods
 Speech Output
 JAWS screen review software
 Synthesised speech
 Screen Magnification
 Zoomtext and MAGic
 Braille
 Printed and displays
 Tactile Graphics
 And lots of home made aids
The OSI Model
Other Props
Braille Display
Host A sends SYN (seq =x)
Host B receives SYN (seq=x) and sends SYN(seq=y,
Host A Receives SYN (seq=y, ack = x+1) and sends ACK
(ack = y+1)
Host B Receives ACK (ack = y+1)
Other CAVI Applications
 Speech Friendly Packet Sniffer
 Braille Transcription Software
 Router Simulator
 XML to Descriptive Text
 Cavi Project is a test bench
Includes most of the devices/techniques
currently being researched
 Final outcome
Deliver an “Academy in a Box”
For Academies that wish to teach vision impaired
 (John Gill)
 Audio System For Technical Readings
 A computing system for rendering technical
documents in audio
 Developed by T.V. Raman
The Target Demographic
 In Western Australia
 8,800 legally blind
 Nearly 2,400 under 65
 The Association for the Blind
 75 new clients each month
 411 clients per year in technology training
 (ABWA annual report 2001)
 Extrapolate to the world market
 Third world countries have higher rates of vision
Disability Discrimination Act
 DDA is administered by the Human rights and
Equal Opportunities Commission (HREOC).
 Accepts that some differential treatment is
 Commonwealth Departments and Agencies must
develop action plans.
 Emerging DDA standards on “Electronic
Economic or Humanitarian?
 Should the mainstream design of products
include consideration of people who have
disabilities or are elderly?
From a humanitarian standpoint.
This must also be considered in terms of
effects on personnel, curricula and economic
Disabled and Elderly Persons
 Can't the Needs of Disabled and Elderly Persons
Be Handled Separately or As Exceptions?
 Many small groups together represent a large portion
of the population.
 Is it both economically and practically feasible
to include disabled and elderly persons in the
design process for mass market products?
 Aging wealthier population.
 OS&H considerations and employee comfort.
 Discrimination suits.

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