Instagram is now using AI to describe photos for users with visual impairments

Instagram announced today that it’s rolling out new features that will make the app easier to use for people with visual impairments. The changes will allow screen readers to describe photos, either automatically using AI or by reading custom descriptions added by users.

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Braille for a New Digital Age

When she was a graduate student in her native Bulgaria about five years ago, Kristina Tsvetanova was once asked to help a blind friend sign up online for a class. Understanding why he could not do so opened her eyes to the lag in technological innovation to benefit blind and visually impaired people.

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Microsoft's Nadella Says AI Can make the World More Inclusive

Talk of articial intelligence often leads to speculation about how machines may displace workers. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella thinks we should talk more about how AI algorithms can expand the workforce now—by helping people with disabilities.

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How to Find Google's New Built-In Breathing Exercise

The TechWatch editors have selected this news item because it is analogous to our LiveWell development project BreatheWell Wear.   We hope you can try out both BreatheWell Wear and Google's web-based breathing exercise.

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Xbox Adaptive Controller to Improve the Gaming Experience for People with Disabilities

This September, Xbox will release a new video game controller that has been developed intentionally for people with limited mobility. For those with physical impairments, the standard controllers that come with an Xbox can be impossible to use. Because of this, Xbox has designed a controller that includes ports for a multitude of other devices such as switches, specially made joy sticks, and foot controllers. They advertise that the adaptive controller will include “"Nineteen 3.5mm ports and two USB 2.0 ports for external inputs. One 3.5mm stereo headset jack for audio." Xbox is also selling other accessories such as wheelchair mounts and leg mounts. 

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Congressional Record Announcement regarding the NIDILRR 40th Anniversary

Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, on behalf of millions of people with disabilities, today I wish to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, NIDILRR, and its 40 years of accomplishments and contributions to the lives of people with disabilities.

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Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller first look: A new, necessary gamepad

The Xbox Adaptive Controller is the first of its kind. It's a plug-and-play option for people with disabilities -- it connects to the Xbox One or a Windows 10 PC via Bluetooth, and powers on just like the Elite. The controller itself is a clean white rectangle, about 11 inches long and 6 inches wide, with two large black buttons on its face. The buttons aren't touchpads, but they are light-touch enabled, clicking down with the softest of taps so players can roll their palm between the two or otherwise click them without exerting much force. Each button makes a slightly different noise as well, offering an extra layer of sensory input.

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Xbox: Accessible games can “mean the difference between existing and living” for disabled people

Microsoft continues to position itself as a paragon for inclusivity - but it's also keen to get more developers, publishers and platform holders involved in the conversation.

The firm gained a great deal of attention earlier this summer when it announced the Xbox Adaptive Controller, a device that enabled disabled gamers to adapt standard control schemes with a variety of custom inputs suited to their unique circumstances.

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Firefox makers working on voice-controlled web browser called Scout

Mozilla, the organization behind Firefox, is exploring a very different web browser called Scout that's operated by voice rather than keyboard, mouse or touch-screen taps.

The nonprofit revealed the Scout project in an agenda item for an all-hands meeting taking place this week in San Francisco. "With the Scout app, we start to explore browsing and consuming content with voice,"

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Apple, Microsoft and Google join forces to create a universal standard for braille displays

A substantial move for technology accessibility was made today as the non-profit USB Implementer Forum (USB-IF) announced a new standard for braille displays – underpinned by an agreement between major tech companies including Apple, Google and Microsoft. The standard will make it much easier to use braille displays across different devices

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Heat Mapping Used to Study People’s Gaze Patterns when Using Eye Gaze Technology

Heat mapping, a technology that has been incorporated into some eye gaze devices, is a tool that allows researchers to study and better understand how people view images and videos. When using eye gaze systems, it is possible to set up and utilize these heat maps that collect data on people’s gaze patterns. Understanding the gaze patterns of people not only benefits those interested in advertising but allows researches who work with people that are immobilized to better understand how their clients are using eye gaze. Being able to understand the habits and patterns that are common amongst users would enable researchers and engineers to improve the technology.   

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