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Last posting from Tokyo includes HCR 2010

Odaiba exhibition areaIt must be one of the largest  Home, Care and Rehabilitation Exhibitions in the world with over 80,000 attendees on the day we attended and over 20,000 stands.  Most were related to home care, mobility aids, furniture and very little about communication or use of the computer to aid daily living such as shopping on line or reading using technology.  However, here are a few items that caught the eye.

Under the auspices of the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) Rumi and I saw an HTC windows system mobile phone with Japanese text to speech with highlighting for scanned pictures.  The text to speech has a little bit of a way to go to make it useful for dyslexic users but the phone could be set in a cradle above the printed page and used in a similar way to the Intel Reader – obviously not as powerful but the recognition rate was good.

There was an example of mobile PSP devices being used in cinemas and the ability for deaf users at home to read captioning related to what is seen on the screen.  The health and safety video I saw also had the captioning displayed alongside a signer.  At present the system – web-shake has just been used for DVDs available in Japan.  The captioning is sent over the internet with time stamps that correlate with those on the video and the user can access the system via their pc or mobile phone.

pen and blackberryRCAST developed a mobile phone-based electronic personal profiler for care and support information mainly for use with the elderly who are supported by a range of carers.  This now has the addition of a digital pen used on the forms that carers fill in – the information is transferred via PC when the pen is docked and linked to the server.  The contents of the client’s notes are sent to a manager and stored with appropriate information being sent onto the next carer, via her mobile phone, 30 minutes before she makes her visit.  This means that there is no break in service, each carer learns about the client’s needs and also their interests such as the reason they are feeling low today may not be due to a physical issue but rather the fact that their favourite football team lost a match!  Similar systems using the digital pen have been used in UK in the past and more recently with midwifery teams in Portsmouth with the use of Blackberries.

switchSlightly less computer based was the use of a synthetic rubber material from gomuq that is used to make pen grippers, stop rulers sliding and stick onto switches – it really had the most amazing grip on all surfaces!

The day ended with a chance to play with the latest Robot developed in the deparment – it had recently walked from Tokyo to Kyoto at around 3 kilometers an hour but when you are walking alongside it that speed feels incredibly fast as it is so tiny! It carries two ordinary AA Panasonic battiers on its back and pulls another ten in a small cart!  robot

More technology strategies from RCAST, University of Tokyo

Pomera note takerDuring the week I have been introduced to students, eminent professors and company directors all the while seeing technologies being used in many different ways.  From a simple note taker called a Pomera that has a normal sized keyboard but folds into a pocket book sized device using SD cards and 2 AAA batteries to the latest Anoto digital pen used for research and assessments.

The Anoto pen captures writing on the specialist paper containing a gird of dots that allows the actual timing of writing and way the characters are made to be captured.  The data is transferred to the computer in XML format and used in Excel as well as specialist program that also has the video of the process allowing an analysis of the speed of writing from start to finish as well as the way each letter or character is written.  Anoto writingtransfer anoto files

This process allows for some very accurate assessments of handwriting skills both in schools and when using copying exercises in Psychology tests.

ihorn for quiet speechAs a Speech Therapist I was fascinated by a wonderfully simple ihorn – not an iphone app or speaker but a device for allowing a person who had lost their voice to be heard by someone else.

Finally, when it comes to portable scanning the little Fujitsu Scansnap copied a batch of papers for Optical Character Recognition and text to speech use in no time – straight onto an iPhone for listening to as an Mp3 file! fujitsu scansnap

First day of technology strategies from the University of Tokyo

Having arrived at the centre for AT2Ed at the University of Tokyo RCAST I immediately learnt about the Thursday morning meetings to discuss the latest technologies that are available.  It appears from the team’s blog (translation best viewed in Internet Explorer!) that the Ipad is the recent talking point.  This was borne out on  Tuesday evening when it was time to explore Shibuya and discover the true meaning of a weak pound!  (It is expensive here at the moment!)

Rumi using ipadRumi Hirabayashi (taking a PhD in dysgraphia and technology) using her iPad guided me around the area as can be seen from the picture.  Whilst walking around I learnt more about several apps that helped when translation was lacking!

The Hitsudan Patto app can be used with the iPad positioned between two people to text each other rather like the view you have using a Tony Churchill Lightwriter. However, with the ipad it is possible to draw as well as type.

The next app that Rumi showed me if we could not hear or see eachother in the crowd – it is called iBannerHD – a LED scrolling banner of words or symbols!

But the one I liked the most was iBrainstorm – a free mindmapping app which allows you to move post-its around with links drawn where you like.  Text can be written by hand or on the post-it via the keyboard.  It is possible to rub out mistakes etc and when complete email the result or save as a picture.  Ipad with iBrainstorm

All these apps work on an iphone as well.

Tomorrow we are off to the New Education Expo 2010 in Tokyo for the next batch of new strategies and technologies!

Just leave messages on the office door via the BoogieBoard!

Boogie Board

iPad provides support as an assistive technology and others hold their breath for the alternatives.

iPad accessibility information is provided on the Apple website but we have yet to explore the Android and  Dell Streak apps or other android features for accessibility.

When it comes to iPad, Richard Ells from University of Washington Information Technology Dept, (Seattle USA) provided links to:

A Whole New World – How an iPad is helping a boy with cerebral palsy

The iPad as an Affordable Communicator
This is an Initial Review – A person with cerebral palsy tries out Proloque2Go app on an iPad

iPad App Helps Autistic Teen Communicate
iMean is an app that turns the entire iPad screen into a large-button keyboard, helping speech-challenged communicate needs and ideas.”

MindMeister for iPad is now available from the iTunes store and syncs with your online mindmaps.

Spectronics have a list of iPhone/iPad Apps for AAC

Ricky Buchanan of ATMac talks about how she is going to explore more apps and the fun of the ipad

Finally the Telegraph say that the RNIB thinks the Apple iPad is ‘great gadget’ for blind people

Synote and LexDis cross the Atlantic once again!

Both Mike and E.A are heading off to the States this week to talk about the Synote, LexDis, and Web2Access.

As the press release says, Mike is “going to present the latest developments in his award-winning web-based Synote at a symposium at the IBM TJ Watson Research Centre, New York on Monday 9 November.

It will be the first time Synote will be shown with its additional ability to “synchronise live notes taken using Twitter with synchronised lecture recordings and transcripts created using IBM’s speech recognition software.”

E.A. is off to the 12th Annual Accessing Higher Ground – Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference in Colorado on Thursday 12 November to show how Seb Skuse, Russell Newman and Chris Phethean have developed a suite of accessibility tools that can help to make access to the web easier. This work has come about as a result of the findings of the JISC funded LexDis project which, as someone said “refuses to die!” Students are still coming forward with new strategies for the way they cope with their “Technology Enhanced Learning” (to include e-learning and mobile learning) environments and E.A. is keen to continue with this work so that the database can be kept up to date with the latest ideas.

The press release ends by saying: “In her presentation, E.A. will highlight the need to enhance the knowledge of a wider network of ‘informal experts’ and academic staff to enable them to introduce disabled students to the many web-based tools which are currently emerging. This would allow disabled students to further develop their skills and perhaps in time also become informal experts who would be willing to share the strategies they have developed with others as can be seen on the LexDis website.”

HTML Pendrive Menu – Test

Initial research into the development of an accessible menu for a USB pendrive containing applications has shown that HTML may not be the correct choice of language to write such a program in, and the reasons that indicate this will be highlighted in this activity.

A test page has been written in HTML, which can be downloaded in a .zip format along with sample applications that you can test to see the results when  attempting to launch them as if they were on a pen drive.
Download the HTML menu files, and then unzip the received folder to begin this test.

The test page is intended to show the outcomes of attempting to link to applications using HTML. By clicking on a link shown in order to launch one of the applications, various results are obtained.

In Internet Explorer and WebbIE 3, the same dialog box appears that would indicate that you are downloading a file. However, the file would be on your own pendrive, and selecting “Open” simply copies a temporary copy of the file, and then opens it from this temporary location, as if it had just been downloaded from the Internet. By selecting “Save”, the user would end up saving an additional copy of the file, resulting in more problems. This is clearly an un-wanted obstacle for a user who quickly wants to launch an application. It may also cause confusion to users who may not realise that the application is still being accessed from the pendrive, and not the Internet.

In Firefox, clicking on the link results in nothing happening at all. There is no obvious way of accessing the linked file, and as Firefox would likely be provided as the browser on the pendrive itself, and would therefore probably launch the page, the option of creating the menu in this way seems flawed.

Finally, in order to allow the user to customize their menu, JavaScript was needed, and in this example it provides the functionallity to change the background colour and increase the text size. More features could be added in a similar way, but without a suitable method of launching applications for direct use, any extra options seem superfluous. Furthermore, these settings can not be preserved for future use i.e. the menu will always start with its default settings, which could become frustrating for the user.

LexDis hitting the top of the searches!

Lexdis has managed to find its way to the top of many Google searches, such as second for ‘IEEE referencing Word 2007‘ and fifth for wikilook and CapturaTalk!  We have over 500 sites linking to us and over 50 vistors each day.   There are some interesting results, such as sixth on the list for ‘dim lectures’!   A link to a strategy ‘Dim screen for note taking in lectures‘.

We are still looking for ways to make us gain improved bounce rates and top search results!  We are also trying to find ways to make the content more useful and relevant to a wide audience with a revamped interface.  All ideas welcome!