[blindza] Article: App improves accessibility for blind - related to androids

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App improves accessibility for blind
July 24 2012 at 11:13am 
By Natasha Baker 

REUTERS

Called Georgie, the app for Android devices enables people with little or no 
sight to accomplish daily activities that could be difficult for them.

Toronto - Whether it is getting off a bus or reading a menu, a new app aims to 
make life easier for the blind or visually impaired. 

Called Georgie, the app for Android devices enables people with little or no 
sight to accomplish daily activities that could be difficult for them. 

"The great thing that attracted me to (creating the app) was this notion of 
gaining confidence, and also having reassurance that you could press a button 
and get help if you were lost," said Roger Wilson-Hinds, co-founder of 
Screenreader, a nonprofit based in Peterborough, England, that developed the 
app. 

Users navigate the app's features by passing their fingers over various options 
which are read aloud. Lingering on a particular option produces a beep, 
indicating that the option has been selected. 

The app can make calls or send texts but it also provides location-based 
technologies, which can let users know, for example, when the next bus is 
coming, which direction they're facing, or the ability to set location-based 
reminders. 

"You can actually record a GPS-tagged voice label to say 'dangerous steps' and 
as you're approaching it the phone will tell you that there are dangerous steps 
there," explained Alan Dean Kemp, the chief technology officer. 

Kemp added that the app is not meant to replace a seeing-eye dog, but to 
provide added assistance. 

About 39 million people worldwide are blind, according to the World Health 
Organisation, and 285 million people are visually impaired. 

For Wilson-Hinds, who is blind, one of his biggest struggles has been using 
public transit. 

"I used to struggle to know when to get off the bus every evening when I was 
coming home from work," he said, adding that the app can give users information 
on upcoming bus stops while they're travelling. 

It also reads out text, such as ingredients on a label, using a technology 
called optical character recognition (OCR). 

Wilson-Hinds said what makes the app unique is the way it is designed for the 
less tech-savvy person and the support it provides. 

"We've brought them all together into a little bundle so that you're not 
switching in and out of apps," he said. 

Screenreader is also selling Georgie smartphones, Android-based Samsung phones 
that come pre-installed with the Georgie app. 

"The settings are such that you turn on the phone and the app starts. You can't 
get out of it unless you go through a sort of unlock feature to do so," 
explained Kemp. 

At 150 pounds (about R2 000), the app is more expensive than most apps but Kemp 
said the price includes support for the app. 

"You get a help line, which will set up your contacts for you if you want and 
even come and train you, so there's a big support mechanism around it," he 
said. 

The app is available worldwide in English. All profits generated by the app go 
to a charity called Communication for Blind and Disabled People, of which 
Screenreader is a subsidiary. - Reuters 

Source:
http://tinyurl.com/bo26e8w

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