20th November 2018
Tactile Excel sheets and graphics to boost job prospects for blind people
by Steve Gillman, From Horizon Magazine, Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine
Touchscreens and digital graphics are everywhere, but for people who are visually impaired, they can be a major hurdle to using modern technology. But this is set to change, thanks to tactile technology that automatically converts complex digital graphics into braille and stick-on smartphone buttons that make apps navigable by touch.
There are 30 million blind or partially sighted people in Europe and only one in four of these individuals are working. Even those in employment still have to rely on support or assistive technology to carry out their daily tasks.
‘Blind people are almost kept apart from society because they can’t interact or lead a normal life like everybody else,’ said Klaus-Peter Hars, managing director of Inventivio, a German IT company developing assistive technology solutions. ‘That is a loss for the individual, but also for society – so much knowledge, experience and capabilities are just not put to work.’
Hars and his team have developed a device called Tactonom, an A4-sized touch pad that turns digital graphics into a tactile display and enables blind people to access complex digital information like tables, graphics, maps, diagrams and apps.