Building a computer for the blind

Mikey 3 comments
Building a computer for the blind

A little while back we developed a web site with a primary goal in mind. It had to be usable by visually impaired and physically disabled people. The client is in the admirable business of placing people with disabilities into the workforce, which made the web site the most satisfying challenge of my career.

Building a web site so that a blind person, or a person who doesn't have the manual dexterity to move a mouse, can navigate and find what they need is easier said than done. There are many factors to consider and a strict set of rules to adhere to, and as a designer I had to swallow some pride in the best interest of our goal. In the end, we nailed it, and now I always develop a site under the assumption that a disabled audience might be knocking at the door.

But today I read about an initiative that puts our efforts to shame. 'Zen' is a z-axis enabled (true 3D) computing platform with interactive surface designed to be used by people with visual impairment. From the article:

"The Sandbox PC features Active Surface, an electronic surface that can take different physical shape and can be manipulated by the user. You can read Braille text on it, make out windows, icons, and different textures. You can press into the surface, or scratch it with your fingers. All input output is made with the sense of touch. ZEN software uses a Tactile User Interface (TUI). The visually impaired are a negated market. It is fitting, then, to bring them to light using the negated sense of touch, by introducing a negated dimension of depth."

Knowing what's involved in 'simply' making a web site accessible to blind, the thought of making an entire computer system for the same purpose is, aside from being a noble cause, going to be one heck of a challenge.

It's an exciting step forward in computing if you ask me. I will watch with interest and place any significant stages on this blog.

Zen Zen Zen

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Jim- Just a Guy

Friday 29th February 2008 | 05:31 AM

I am not sure which is cooler, this or the new Nokia. It' alway nice to see that the industry takes interest in making sure everyone can play along.

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Friday 29th February 2008 | 09:01 AM

Wow, this is just excellent!

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Joe Marco

Friday 29th February 2008 | 07:35 PM

I see...said the blind man.

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