Monday, December 19, 2005

Israeli firms behind cell phone software to aid vision impaired


Two Israeli companies are behind the technology of U.S. company Nuance Communications' new software that enables the vision impaired to have easy access to cell phones.

Source: Haaretz

Nuance is utilizing the technologies of two firms it acquired - ART and Phonetic Systems - to substantially increase the size of on-screen content on handheld mobile devices, as well to change screen colors in order to help see text clearly. An estimated 150 million people worldwide have some vision problem that makes use of certain devices difficult, particularly cellular phones, due to small screens and the use of miniature font faces.

The Nuance accessibility suite includes audio feedback, improved display quality and support for a Braille keypad, innovations slated to improve the quality of information display and allow special-needs users to better use mobile devices.

Since the product is not language-dependent, it is available and accessible to any user. It will be available through cellular carriers or various Internet sites. It is available over the Internet in Israel, as the local carriers still don't sell it.

It is, however, far from popularly priced, with Nuance Zooms costing 180 euros and Nuance Talks going for 200 euros. The Internet and cellular devices are not user friendly for the disabled. The Israel Internet Association and nonprofit advocacy group Access Israel have been working for some time to change the situation. But most solutions are still too expensive for many.

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