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Smart House for People with Disabilities

This is a guest post by Melisa Merzitt

Smart house for people with disabilities

Many new Internet of things applications are comfort and safety oriented. They make it to where a user is able to regulate temperature and lightening in a room, manage door locks, activate signalization system, etc. With the assumption that, these applications promise its users comfort and manoeuvrability with household appliance, for people with disabilities and older people they mean essentially new level of possibilities in support of independent lifestyle.  


Improvement of accessibility functions made smartphones applicable for far more broad range of people with disabilities. A lot of producers developed smartphones with a simpler and intuitively understandable interface. Such devices are far more suitable for older people who faced with difficulties at using smartphones due to impaired vision or hearing, problems with movement and insufficient mobility. Smartphones of the kind are already used as remotes for equipment of smart houses, smart vehicles and smart cities. They offer people with disabilities a simple in using tool, which would make it easier for them to move  giving an opportunity to take part in economic and social life in a more full measure.  

Industry experts agree upon Internet of things has a great potential in order to make it useful for people with disabilities. Shivpriya Sridhar, product marketing manager of Smart+Communities+IoT company Cisco, says, that her company is already taking well-directed efforts in order to make a fortune out of advantages of Internet of things for people with disabilities. «We believe that the most useful for them are going to be those applications, which are servicing connections of household appliances  to home network and allowing users to automatically switch in and switch off such devices on the basis of day part and other fixed preferences, she says. – an ability to manage, for example, temperature and lightness can also be  in demand among people with a mobility impairment. Besides that, Internet of things is able to significantly improve employment possibilities for them, make an independent life easier and improve social integration of people with disabilities». 

Internet of things may greatly improve access to medicine assistance for older people and people with disabilities. Influence of Internet of things is going to be just enormous and, as a result, a patient will no longer go to a doctor, on the contrary, a doctor will come to a patient. Special sensors will follow a patient`s movements, medication taking, content of carbon dioxide in the building, creating a full image for specialists of medical institution, which will make it to where individual service will be possible and allow a patient to lead an independent way of life. In further perspective, it will have a favorable image of medical service cost. Ultimately, processes of standardization and normalization on the market will lead to medical equipment and infrastructure cost decreasing.


Home automation technologies out of all Internet of things applications, which are able to improve life of people with disabilities, home automation means or differently, smart house technologies are the most promising. Home automation technologies are used cameras and sensors of different kinds for data transfer into a smartphone, allowing it to manage lightness and temperature in the building at the distance, control household appliances operating, security systems and many other devices. In combination with an accessible smartphone interface, smart house technologies embrace a huge potential of possibilities for disabled people, improving quality and providing independency of their way of life. There are many examples: 
• Home automation applications will allow blind people and those who barely see to manage household items operating, regulate temperature in the building with one click on the smartphone. It is very important, however, so these applications to be combined with a screen-reader program using by a smartphone or other special functions. 

• Smart home technologies will help people with disordered motor function to manage everyday objects, access to which for disabled people will be difficult due to their disease such as light regulators, door locks and security system.
• For deaf people and those who can barely hear home automations means will be useful in order to increase safety. A deaf person cannot hear sounds signalizing about strangers in their homes however intellectual system of safety is able to compensate this problem: it will direct an alarm signal onto a phone of a user as soon as sensors fix a suspicious activity beyond their houses.

• Besides that, smart home technologies allow children and elderlies trustees to control everyday activity, operatively reminding about necessity of accomplishment of this or that prescribed actions or tasks.

Several companies have already mastered production of smart home platforms. Digital Life AT&T company is one of such platforms including classical options such as video cameras inside the house, remote control and temperature regulation, home light remote control, remote water leak detention, entry door code locks and so on. 

Digital life AT&T company: from conception to active applications


Taking into account special needs of elderly people and disabled ones, Digital life was developed in order to help with leading an independent life emergency security. For example: 

• Sensors placed at the foot of the bed sets the signal about an elderly person or a disabled one to get up.; 

• Sensors inside the medicine box or a fridge fix time and number of them being opened; 

• Water leak detection sensors automatically cover water supply in case water flood from a bath or a sink.

All these functional capabilities are getting realized due to the net of connected sensors, which during a certain period of time gather information in order to define a typical user every day behavior scheme. After such a scheme to be installed, there will be little difficulty to personalize the system, so it automatically inform relatives, curators, neighbors  and other people in case of routine behavior manners changes.

Digital life  if one of a few smart home platforms available at present time on the market, but it clearly demonstrates an Internet of things potential for improving quality of life and ease of independent living for elderly and disabled people.

About the author: Melisa Marzett whose current activity is writing for <a href=”http://resumeperk.com/”>resumeperk.com</a> simply enjoys the process of writing. She loves cats, French movies and classic literature along with her writing career and hopes to write a book some day.

“.new” feature from Google

Most of us uses Google applications such as Google docs, Google sheets, Google slides and they are far more easier to work and collaborate with others using the cloud. 

So far, if we want to create a new document, new sheet or new slide deck; we need to open respective application and choose “new”.

With the recent service by Google, there is a much easier way to do it. Just type something like doc.new, document.new, sheets.new, slides.new and you will get it loaded. Of course, if you are not already logged into any Google services, it may prompt you to sign-in. 

Hope this technology tip would be of handy! 

October 15: White Cane Awareness Day – Event at NAB Karnataka

International White Cane Awareness Day was observed at The National Association for the Blind, Karnataka Branch. The event was started with an invocation song by inmates of orgaanization. 

It was followed by talks by four of the inmates who have just completed Mobility Training at The NAB Karnataka. They have explained their experience using white cane and how they are able to move with more independence. All of them have mentioned white cane remains important tool along with other aids and appliances. 

Then Ajeesh, Ram and Raghu of IBM Accessibility Team have shared their experiences as to how mobility plays a key role in work environment. They urged inmates to gain self-confidence and build aptitude to acceptany challenge. 

They have also talked about key skills that one needs to build a successful career. I have got an opportunity to address the gathering during which I have acknowledged efforts put in by Raghu’s mother who have made sure Raghu lives with independence. She takes him to all pilgrim places and explain everything in detail. We really need such motivational parents. 

Then inmates who have completed their mobility training were awarded with a certificate and a white cane. 

Event was concluded with National anthem. 

September 23: International Sign Language Day

It’s great to learn September 23rd is observed as International Sign Language Day. (Thanks to Akhil Paul of Sense International India for tweeting about it). 

International Day of Sign Language is observed every year on 23rd September along with the International Week of the Deaf. The choice of 23rd September as a date is same as the date when World Federation of the Deaf was established in 1951. 

While sign language is the communication language for people with hearing impairment, everyone takes benefit of it indirectly. In fact, communication of every human being starts with sign language. Let’s notice how a two year child communicates of his / her needs; while some children at the age group start to speak, but many just gets started to speak and they do a lot of signals to communicate. For instance, they show a thumb towards their mouth when they needs water. They show their fingers towards credal or bed, when they want to sleep etc., 

Even when people grow up, use of hand gestures to communicate is quite common. Often people show their fingers to a direction to indicate a location (though that’s not the right way to communicate). But that help sometimes. Even if we do not know to communicate in sign-language, since we do a lot of signs in our routine life, it enable us to communicate with people who are hard of hearing. 

Through this day, let’s raise awareness about sign-language and its importance. It’s great to see Braille and sign-languages are being introduced as subjects by CBSE for children with disabilities.

Resources:

Greetings on the eve of Birth anniversary of Louis Braille and best wishes for 2018

Text version is available below the video.

Good morning, Firstly, Wishing you all a very happy 2018. I would also extend warm wishes on the birth anniversary of Louis Braille; inventor of Braille Script. Louis Braille lost his eye sight in his child hood while he was playing with his father’s tools. He was inspired by the script used by Military that can be read in the dark and based on 12 raised dots. He has reduced dots to 6 and invented script that is used today be people with blindness.

Where there is so much advancement in the area of technology, it’s recommended that Braille is introduced to children at young age so that they acquire good skills of spelling etc., One can learn spellings only by means of reading or writing and not really by way of listening. But yes, Braille should be taught along with the technology. Because technology plays equally a critical role to make lives of people with disabilities independent.

In 2018, let’s hope to make digital world more accessible.

Re-building website on wordpress? Checklist to consider!

As you may have noticed, for a few weeks, there have been frequent changes in the design and features on our website. Yes, we have been working on to give a new look to ServeOM Inclusion’s website; and we want to continue using WordPress as our favorite authoring tool!

We love WordPress because of it’s robust, accessible and simple administrative interface. WordPress at one time was just known as a blogging platform but today, WordPress offers a lot of rich tools to build a powerful website.

When we thought of re-building our website, we have a few requirements in mind that includes:

  • Accessibility
  • Good user experience
  • Decent color combinations with good contrast
  • Professional look and feel
  • Member area pages
  • Video gallaries
  • Social integration

First thing was to choose right theme. Explored many themes but most of them including those are accessibility ready have one common problem that sub menus get expanded automatically on focus to the menu; which we did not want to happen. We have tried hard to re-engineer those menus but found it difficult. Finally Bizwhoop is one theme we found suitable to our requirements. But this free theme has limitation in choosing colors and we don’t feel comfortable with Red. Then we have decided to purchase Bizwhoop Pro. Challenge was they accept payment only via PayPal and PayPal requires to show payments in Indian rupees for customers purchasing from India. However, have received an email from their support team with an option to transfer money to their Indian account. Soon after the payment, they have sent link to download the theme. This theme is great and worth purchasing.

Here are list of things we have customised for better usability.

  • We believe content should not be displayed in uppercase letters; so we have changed <text-transform> to “none” from “uppercase”. Read UX Movement article on all caps hard for users to read
  • We believe focus indicator should be visible to users; so we have changed <outline> from “none” to “dotted”
  • We found content text colour is gray and doesn’t go well with white background; so we have changed that using the additional CSS
  • We have added WP Accessibility plugin to make the theme more accessible. But we have intentionally not chosen to have font resize and display settings
  • We have used Page restrict plugin to make a few pages visible only to registered members. Objective of using this feature is to know our users better so that we can provide better content
  • We have noticed by default theme displays only post title and featured image (if available) and not the excerpt. We had to add a php code directly into the raw file from our cPanel. Unfortunately, we haven’t found an option to change in the theme itself.

We are still exploring options to include better help desk feature for this site. Stay tuned.

Special thanks to Narsing Rao Bongurala for helping us through this journey of re-building this website. He is highly potential graphic and web designer. What we found great about him is his willingness to explore technologies and fix any complex problem. We highly recommend him to anyone who may need such services. Thanks again, Narsing.

More things to come into website in the days to come.

Campaign: Make currency of India and digital payment apps accessible

Authors note: This is a re-published post due to an unavoidable technical issue.

Money is important to everyone; It’s essential that everyone needs to be able to identify their own money. Whether we like it or not, not everyone in this world are wise; though we wish!

A few years ago, 5 paisa, 10 paisa, 20 paisa, 25 paisa, 50 paisa, INR 1, INR 2 and INR 5 coins are very easy to identify with unique shape; same was the case with currency notes too due to uniqueness in size. Off late almost all of Indian coins are of same size and there is no shape difference. As a result, often causes confusion. Not only to people with disabilities, I have noticed my own family members got confused between 50 paisa and INR 5 coins! It was habit for people to just feel size of coins and recognize; now that has changed, it causes a lot of difficulty.

I urge the Reserve Bank of India to take necessary steps and make Indian currency accessible to everyone including people with disabilities.

Even today there is a lot of encouragement to use digital payments like BHIM app, electronic trasnfers, electronic wallets etc., But none of them are really accessible to people with disabilities. I would also urge all vendors of these applications to make their apps accessible and comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

Blind Graduates’ Forum of India has started a campaign on Change.org to push government to make this happen. Do please sign to support the cause.

Let’s spread this word to all relevant departments, app vendors and bring attention of everyone.

2016 Year in Review

Though it was a year with mixed feelings for me personally, from accessibility prospective, it was a fabulous year. A quick recap of 2016:

Have a great session and happy 2017! Let’s continue to make the world a better place to live!

Some challenges faced by people with low vision

I happened to be a person with low vision and see some situations challenging if not impossible. Feel free to comment if you have observed any other challenges or have solutions for some of these. I’m also writing solutions that I usually practice or something I think of. Be informed that my solutions my not work for you.

Challenge Solution
Unable to identify status of elevator This happens mostly in the corporate buildings where functional buttons up/down are provided at side of doors but display would be at the top somewhere; instead display should be at the right above the functional buttons
It’s easy to identify inside the elevator when flash light gets turned off on selected button but when elevator is crowded, it may not be easy hence having auditory announcements would be highly helpful
Identifying counters in bank / hospitals Though auditory announcements are made about our token number and counter to be where one should report, often counter numbers are not clearly visible. clear signage would be helpful
Identifying Conference rooms / name boards I just ask people around as name boards are kept at height on the door; instead they should be at 5.5 feet of height as that works for most. Another option is use of phone camera to view the board. But in most offices, photography is prohibited.
Identifying bus number and names It’s easy at the bus stations especially with bussess of Andhra Pradesh Transport department where name board are displayed at lower height on the left side of bus; but it’s difficult to identify a bus when you need to catch on mid way. I usually call driver in advance
Knowing new openings around you Often we see new business open around us but unless they have clear boards, it’s not easy to identify them. Mostly I get to know about new businesses when I go with my wife

One possible solution for many is to carry a telescope but it looks odd to see something with telescope on road side. There could be many more challenges. feel free to comment.

Best,
-Srinivasu

Tribute to Louis Braille on his birthday

January 4th is birth anniversary of Louis Braille. Louis was born in the year 1809.

Blinded in both eyes as a result of a childhood accident. But he has accepted his disability and adopted the the life with blindness. That attitude not only gave him a successful life but also became inspiration to the society. Perhaps, Braile happens to be the first ever accessible medium to enable people with vision impairment to read and write and Braille is only script that enable people who are deaf and blind to read write.

It’s true that today there are many technologies such as screen reading software to help visually impaired to get education and of course everyone should adopt to current technologies. That said, still it is recommended that Braille is taught to school children and encourage them to read a lot of books. As sighted people can learn to spell only when they see and read, it’s true that Braille is the only format that would help people with blindness to see and read through touch. Of course, assistive technologies do provide options for people to read by character but often children do not concentrate doing so; but with Braille, same will happen automatically.

So to conclude Braille and modern technologies are equally important and let’s pay a tribute to Louis Braille on his birth anniversary. Thanks to everyone who are celebrating this day across the world.