SBIR Phase II: A Dynamic Tactile Display for Visually Impaired Computer Users

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 0522076
Agency Tracking Number: 0339652
Amount: $497,646.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2005
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
Vortant Technologies
88 High Country Road, Weaverville, NC, 28787
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Philip Schaefer
 (828) 645-1026
Business Contact
 Philip Schaefer
Title: Mr
Phone: (828) 645-1026
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will create a Dynamic Tactile Display (DTD) prototype with the look, feel, and functionality of the real-world product, and it will demonstrate that the DTD makes it easier to learn and use computers than existing screen reader technology. An in-home trial study will allow a group of users to have the DTD over an extended period of time in their homes, to establish whether or not they continue to like to use it over time. Technical development during Phase II will produce a powerful interface tool that translates computer display information into an intuitive, tactile format, and allows much greater accessibility of computer tools to the blind and visually impaired user. Modern computer software and web pages are highly visually oriented. However, there are millions of blind or severely visually impaired individuals whose visual disability prevents them from seeing the standard computer screen. User frustration with existing computer access solutions is high, and the number of visually disabled people currently using computers is very low--much lower than the rate in the general population. This low rate of computer use indicates a serious need for better computer access technology for this disabled population. The DTD is primarily being developed as a new, more effective interface for visually impaired users to use windows-based software and experience the Internet. Providing such a tool is increasingly important as computers become more pervasive in everyday professional, educational, and social life. The DTD will thus serve as a means to improve the inclusion of the blind and visually impaired in the mainstream of society by allow these users greater access to computers, access which is closer to that enjoyed by the sighted population. Providing a new human/computer interface modality, the DTD proffers an environment in which to understand more about the design and use of tactile interfaces. It may serve as a useful platform for optimization of the tactile display paradigm for human/machine or human/human interactions through touch.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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