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Color Embossers for Digital Pen Access to Graphical Information

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R43EY019418-01
Agency Tracking Number: EY019418
Amount: $100,001.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: PHS2009-2
Solicitation Year: 2009
Award Year: 2009
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
 (541) 754-4002
Business Contact
Phone: (541) 754-4002
Research Institution

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The specific aim of this project is to develop a prototype color embosser capable of making tactile graphics readable with a digital pen. The digital pen from partner company, Livescribe, reads patterns of tiny, nearly invisible dots printed (along with a color image if desired) on a page. It speaks information corresponding to text or graphical elements at the point touched. This new technology can provide a very user friendly way for graphical information to be accessible to people with print disabilities, including small blind children and many computer-phobic senior citizens. The long range goal of this project is to develop and commercialize this user-friendly access method. Audio/touch methods are known to provide excellent access to graphical information by people who are blind, severely dyslexic, or have severe print disabilities. Preparing Audio/touch materials was very expensive until ViewPlus introduced the IVEO(R) Scalable Vector Graphic (SVG) Authoring/conversion software in 2005. IVEO permits virtually any graphical information to be created or converted/imported easily to a well-structured highly accessible SVG format. Tactile graphics copy was also difficult to obtain before 2000 when ViewPlus introduced the Tiger embossing Windows 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. The proposed new color embossers could make similar materials that are larger and capable of being read by the Livescribe pen. At present, a computer and touchpad are needed to read IVEO materials. Touchpads are large, expensive, and need frequent calibration. Reading an otherwise identical tactile graphic with a Livescribe pen would require no computer or touchpad. The tactile graphic would be easy to read in audio and could be read anywhere, a very useful feature for pedestrian maps, how-to instructions, etc. The new technology can provide a practical way for companies, government, educational institutions, and agencies to distribute accessible graphical information. Preparation is simple and inexpensive, so tactile graphic information could be sent to end users who have Livescribe pens or who can use them in classrooms, libraries, senior centers, etc. This project could be the key to bringing accessible graphics to a wide cross section of blind and severely print-impaired people. It 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 mission of the National Eye Institute, because it could lead to greatly improved educational and professional opportunities for blind people by making much graphical information available in more accessible form. It is already easy to create or convert graphical information to universally usable form with the ViewPlus IVEO technology. This project would make the information easier to distribute and easier to read. Greatly improved access to graphical information would clearly improve mental health and quality of life for blind people - which are included in the mission of the National Eye Institute.

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

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