Saturday, June 6, 2009

Immediate Empowerment

First a hat tip to Media dis&dat.

Imagine a device that allows deaf-blind people to instantly communicate with those around them. Sound like Star Trek?

Well, it's here. It's called the DeafBlind Communicator and it allows deaf-blind folks to make phone calls and engage in face to face communication. Washington state and HumanWare designed and manufactured it jointly, in a government -business cooperative effort that has resulted in immediate empowerment for those who have access to this technology.

How does it work?

For face-to-face conversations, the deaf-blind person hands the separate smaller device with a text display and keyboard to the person they want to communicate with.

A retractable tether is attached. With one click, the deaf- blind person who is operating the other half of the device sends the following opening message; "Hi, I’m blind and I can’t hear. To communicate with me, type a message on this keyboard and press (the return arrow)."

This message is both spoken through speakers and displayed on the text screen. The person who is deaf-blind can read the response via a display with Braille characters. Both parties can then communicate back and forth.

via Washington State Dept. of Social and Health Services site

People who were approached with the device "felt good" about the interaction and had no problem using it.

For those living in Washington state, the $8000 device is free or available on a sliding scale, with a cost reduction to $6000 due to the state's participation in designing the device. Free training is provided with the device.

For more information, go here to visit the Washington state site
or here to visit HumanWare.

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