Link August 2017 - Page 62

advertorial helping the blind ‘see’ By Kelly Schulz, Telstra’s Accessibility & Inclusion Senior Advisor O new technology found her pondering the potential of browsing the internet. Inspired by the information resources n the timeline of innovation, the modern paperback sits back with the evolution of the printing press – closer to the 1880s than the 1980s. But imagine for a moment that you weren’t able to casually pick up and enjoy new releases. This was the reality of the 1980s world for Dr Chieko Asakawa, living completely blind. available and the aspiration for While compact discs were first vision-impaired people to access the world digitally, she set about building a synthesised voice browser. Winning much praise, the browser enabled the independence of people who are blind or vision impaired to access information previously unavailable to them. And it’s those fundamental good sense of direction it’s not an life-altering ambitions that led Dr easy place to navigate, let alone for Asakawa to build on her success and someone with a vision impairment. delve into cognitive computing. The test combined multiple data hitting stores and the Sony Walkman became the ‘must have’ accessory, someone who is blind when exploring centre information and achieved a people unable to read the printed the world while sitting at their one to two metre location accuracy. word were still being excluded from computer keyboard, but navigation While a largely successful test, much easy access to the most basic books in “real life” can be significantly more research is needed to bring and printed information. The only more challenging. Dr Asakawa’s about accessibility to the disparate way to create braille books was dream is that cognitive computing spectrum of environments a person manually on a braille machine that will overcome the lack of visual encounters on a daily basis. had changed little in the 100+ years information by giving audio details since its development. on timely and relevant information – do alone. such as where the bananas are when I joined IBM back in the located in the market or if my friend than people getting together to 1980s. It made me believe that one Jenny is smiling or looks sad. overcome challenges that we are day, I may be able to make one of my dreams come true through technology needed to bring Dr we can make the impossible possible technology innovation,” she recalls. Asakawa’s dream to life is forging through collaboration,” she says. “My innovation journey began And then a thought: What if There is relative safety for Still in development, the sources including maps and shopping And it’s not a job Dr Asakawa can “There is nothing more powerful facing today. We must believe that Identifying and addressing the ahead rapidly. Sensors, localisation, Braille was digitized? video and speech recognition needs of people is and has always She developed a Braille word- technologies are all elements that been the nexus to innovation. processor allowing books to be typed need to come together accurately Fostering accessibility and inclusion on a standard keyboard, edited, and almost instantly to create the of people with a disability through and printed in Braille – improving overall augmented reality experience. technology is an opportunity that accuracy and speed to market, and ultimately spawning library networks saw 220 Bluetooth beacons situated afford to neglect. of Braille reading material in Japan. throughout a shopping precinct of the Tokyo underground. Dr Asakawa com.au/cognitive-computing-can- says that even with a map and a help-blind-see By the 90s and having been assuredly bitten by the innovation 60 bug, Dr Asakawa’s innate curiosity for telstra Field testing in February 2017 businesses and communities cannot Read more: exchange.telstra. linkonline.com.au