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Webcam Interface for Audio/touch Graphics Access by Blind People

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R43EY018973-01
Agency Tracking Number: EY018973
Amount: $100,001.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: PHS2007-2
Solicitation Year: 2008
Award Year: 2008
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): N/A
Award End Date (Contract End Date): N/A
Small Business Information
United States
DUNS: 023960367
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 () -
Business Contact
Phone: (541) 754-4002
Research Institution

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The goal of this project is to develop a compact inexpensive alternative to the bulky expensive touchpads now required by blind people for audio/touch access to graphical information. Audio/touch is known to provide ex
cellent access to computer-literate blind people as well as people with dyslexia or other severe print disabilities. Preparing Audio/touch materials was very expensive until ViewPlus introduced the IVEO Scalable Vector Graphic (SVG) Authoring/conversion so
ftware in 2005. IVEO permits virtually any graphical information to be created or converted/imported easily to a well- structured highly accessible SVG format. Tactile copy was also very expensive before 2000 when ViewPlus introduced the Tiger embossing Wi
ndows printers that print by embossing. The new ViewPlus Emprint printer/embossers emboss and also print color images, creating color tactile images particularly useful for people with dyslexia and a number of other print disabilities. An audio/touch use
r reads an IVEO SVG graphic using the free IVEO Viewer, a tactile copy of the image, and a touchpad. The user places the tactile graphic on the touchpad and presses a point of interest. The touchpad communicates the position of that point back to the compu
ter, and the IVEO Viewer speaks the appropriate information. Tactile text made from mainstream graphics has a distinctive pattern. When a user presses, that text is spoken by the IVEO Viewer. When the user presses a graphic object having a SVG title within
the file, that title will be spoken. Objects may also have arbitrarily long description fields that can be spoken and browsed. All spoken information can be displayed on an attached braille display if desired. Graphical information is ubiquitous today, bu
t almost none is accessible to blind people. Government agencies, libraries, companies, and agencies serving people with disabilities could easily send highly accessible IVEO graphics files and tactile graphic copies to clients with disabilities, but there
is a chicken and egg dilemma that must be overcome before they are likely to do so. Few blind people have a touchpad (which cost 500 or more), so few could use that information. The specific aim of this Phase I proposal is to develop an affordable webc
am-based prototype as an alternative to touchpads. It is based on an inexpensive webcam that is focused on the graphic and follows a finger. A touchpad press is emulated in this prototype by pressing some computer key with the other hand. This project coul
d be the key to bringing accessible graphics to all blind computer users and is clearly of interest to NEI whose mission statement includes mental health and quality of life of blind people. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: This proposal is relevant to the missio
n of the National Eye Institute, because it could be the key to making nearly all graphical information easily accessible to people who are blind or have other severe print disabilities. Graphical information is ubiquitous in the world today but is not pre
sently accessible to blind people except through expensive and time-consuming conversion by trained transcribers. Making all graphical information accessible would have an obviously highly beneficial direct effect on education and professional opportunitie
s, mental health, and quality of life of blind people. Mental health and quality of life issues for blind people are parts of the mission of the National Eye Institute.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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