University of MinhoSchool of Engineering Departament of Computer Science
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Exploring Alternative Devices for Blind Users
António Ramires Fernandes & Hugo Paredes

In Hal Thwaiter, editor(s), VSMM 2000 - 6th Int. Conf. on Virtual Systems and Multimedia, IOS Press, pp. 266-274, Gifu, Japan. October, 2000.

ISBN: 1-58603-108-2


Abstract

The ability to take advantage of the information society is becoming a must for everyone. Computer literacy is becoming more and more important for individuals as well as corporations. Therefore no efforts must be spared to integrate everyone in this new and exciting development. If for non-disabled persons this can be a challenge, for certain types of disabilities the effort of adaptation is huge. In this paper we focus on blind users. One of the current alternatives for blind users is based on specific hardware that tends to be limited in features and expansibility or very expensive. The other alternative is PC based software. This latest option, although very powerful, has also several disadvantages, namely the lack of practical mobility. In this paper we present a new approach, the PalmPCs. PalmPCs are a cheap alternative compared to the hardware mentioned above, they are truly mobile, and they are widely available today. We argue that software can be written for these devices that satisfies the needs of the majority of the blind users. A small application for WindowsCE is presented in which the interface was specifically designed for blind users.