Friday, September 27, 2013

Accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities

While it is fairly straight forward to understand what accessibility means for the vision or hearing impaired as well as people with restricted mobility, it is less evident what it means for people with cognitive disabilities. Generally speaking, cognitive disabilities are defined as "…any sort of cognitive disorder that impairs understanding and functioning". In this category fall autism, dyslexia, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, attention deficit disorder and many more. The severity can range from mild impairments such as bad memory and trouble focusing to profound comprehension difficulties. 

In this respect, mobile apps can be a great help to assist in every day tasks, as well as in training and learning. Functional training provided by apps can centre around memory, problem solving, attention, math comprehension, verbal comprehension, visual comprehension etc. Important points of references for users of these apps are clear indication of progress, explanatory failure messages that help recovery from errors, automated reminders, consistent navigation and simple, clean design. 

The CapturaTalk app for example helps people who have difficulties in reading and/or note-taking as well as supports those that suffer from poor file management and organisation. MyTalkTools can be used in speech therapy and supports the communication of needs and desires for those that have a hard time expressing themselves. And the Way of Life app can support the maintenance of structure by allowing to follow a detailed daily schedule and keeping track of the person's habits. 

These are just a handful of examples for mobile apps that can help people with cognitive disabilities to train and improve as well as to structure their days and communicate with their entourage. 

For more details on accessible apps, have a look at the new GARI accessible apps section:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Communicating in sign language via the mobile phone

While communication via telephone was made possible through relay services, and the first generations of mobile phones enabled communication via text messages, the advent of video telephony revolutionised telecommunications for sign language users. It is amazing to see how skilful sign language users minimise their gestures to fit the small screen and in which speed they communicate. 

Smartphones furthermore now offer a panoply of apps that range from sign language dictionaries to sign language study apps and access to content in sign language. Then there are the instantaneous sign language interpretation services that allow us to include a sign language interpreter in the telephone communication and enables communication between deaf and hearing people. 

Seen all together, these developments, suggest that we have come a long way for making telecommunications more usable for deaf and hard of hearing persons, however there is still much to do. 

Here at the GARI project, we are also very interested to learn how deaf and hard of hearing utilise mobile phones in every day life. Particularly what features or apps are most important for you. So if you are deaf and would like to share your story, please get in touch!