Friday, May 19, 2017

@DoSpace: Adaptive Technology for the Visually Impaired

I just finished a fascinating conversation with Doug, the lead technical trainer for Outlook Nebraska, Inc. at DoSpace, Omaha. I asked his permission to blog about his story and his use of technology as someone who has been blind for 22 years, and has had a kidney and pancreas transplant, all as a result of diabetes type I.

His keyboard sits atop a closed laptop, and he has an earbud to hear the spoken version of the text he's accessing. He wears a continuous glucose monitor which is sync'ed with his iPhone so he has a real time readout.

For email, he says Microsoft Outlook is the best for accessibility, but notes Gmail is good but is not quite complete because it doesn't label images or buttons simply labeled as a "button." He uses the KNFB Reader for optical character recognition on his iPhone, whose final cost is over $100. He's very pleased with how it performs, except with round medication bottles. Doug mentioned that he has an advantage in the dimly-lit restaurants when reading the menu.

Outlook Nebraska employs 80 visually-impaired people, which is remarkable since 70% of the visually-impaired are unemployed. As it happens, accessibility devices for the blind are expensive, in addition to needed medication, so having an income is important. But Doug has developed a successful career following his passion for technology, and is looking to expand the market for the products Outlook Nebraska produces.




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