Braille displayer. In 1951, David Abraham, a woodworking teacher at Perkins, created a portable braille terminal. This device was first created in 1951 by a woodworking teacher; David Abraham who lived in Perkins. He developed a moveable Braille terminal. It is an electro-mechanical device that is used for the purpose of displaying Braille characters. It does this by raising dots via holes in a level surface. It is made use of by visually impaired computer users. An alternative device that can be used to achieve a similar effect is the speech synthesizer (Deafblinders, 2010). They work by having Braille dots being positioned at the edge of a spinning wheel which moves at a given speed while allowing the user to read with his stationary finger. The dots are preset at a simple scanning-style manner as the dots stationed at the wheel move past a fixed actuator that serves to set the Braille characters. The screen reader is the software that controls the Braille display.
The screen reader collects the content of the monitor from the operating system and transforms it to Braille characters and transfers it to the display system. Screen readers that are used for graphical operating systems are very complicated since they make use of elements such as windows and slidebars which have to be translated into text form before being interpreted. The operating systems in the market today are equipped with an Application Programming Interface. The aforementioned interface serves to aid the screen readers get information for instance UI Automation (UIA) made use of by Microsoft Windows and AT-SPI made use of by GNOME. There exist different types of Braille displayers for instance the rotating wheel Braille display which was manufactured in 2000 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and a second machine of this type was developed in Belgium from Leuven University. The aforementioned types of wheels are still being commercialise (DeafBlinders, 2010).
Eye access ocular monitoring hardware. Personal computer eye control is a set of hardware devices that are used together to enable the use of a computer by the visually impaired persons. It was first built and is in use in Spanish speaking countries and also in Portugal in 2003. It was developed to cater for people who have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other related disorders. It has been projected that it will soon be widely used in the United Kingdom. Among the group of devices used in personal computer eye control is the Iriscom (BBC News, 2003). The Iriscom is a device that emulates mouse movement by following the iris. The Iriscom aids mouse movement by tracking an individual’s eye movement. Mouse clicks are executed by blinking. The collection of devices also consist of on-screen keyboard so as to facilitate the input of texts by users. It also consists of a camera which is positioned on the computer and directed on the user’s eye. The minimum chip required for its use is the Pentium III which is also equipped with a firewire port.
Infra-red controlled mouse. In computing a mouse is a computer peripheral device that operates by the detection of two-dimensional movements in relation to its supporting surface. A mouse is constituted of a single object that is held beneath a user’s hands and it has one or more than one buttons. There are some mouses that are developed with “wheels” that enable more mouse movements. Mouse movement translates into cursor movement on a console which facilitates for thorough control of a Graphical User Interface, GUI (Faulken, 2010).
The mouse was first developed at Stanford Research Institute and obtains its resemblance from models that had cords attached to them at the rear part. The first mouse that was sold was in 1981 and was integrated with Xerox 8010 Star Information System. It now comes with almost all personal computers and are also available for off the shelf purchase.
Above is a diagrammatic representation of mouses. Early mouses made use of two roller balls which changed with time. The modern mouse makes use of one ball. The detection of mice has also evolved with time from mechanical to optical. Mechanically detected mice make use of rotary encoder systems while optical mice make use of photodiodes and light emitting diodes which is in relation to the underlying surface. The advent of cordless mice has also led to the use of the following means of data transfer; infra-red, radio and Bluetooth (Faulken, 2010).
Screen enlarger or magnifier. This is software that is used to represent blown up screen content. It was first invented and manufactured by Telesensory Systems, Inc (TSI) for the blind and low vision population. It was geared towards aiding the visually impaired population to use computers independently. TSI’s first product was the Optacon which was invented by John G Linvill an electrical engineer. TSI was involved in the development of visually impaired people’s products in the 1970s and expanded into the visually impaired field in 1984. The produced products made use of either tactile or auditory mechanisms of passing of information. The low vision materials served to enlarge the size of printed material or the images on computer screens (Microsoft Corporation, 2010). The products are now being manufactured by InSiPhil (S) Pte Ltd and are available in a number of countries about 50.
There were two types of screen enlargers in 2008; simple and professional. The professional strain of enlargers had full screen magnification features, font smoothing and full tracking features. The simple screen type only blew up a very small area around the mouse cursor or in a preset window on the desktop. A market example of a screen enlarger is the Vista screen enlarger (Microsoft Corporation, 2010).
Blindows. Is a form of screen reader that is used by the blind in the operation of Braille displayers for instance VarioPro Braille. Blindows is one of the first developed screen readers. Other current screen readers that are based on the blindows technology has been developed; COBRA which was released in the market in 2007. COBRA was released so as to take into consideration optional modules in the most favourable manner (Zbozna, 2010).
WebbIE makes use of the MSIE control object (which is a webBrowser on its own). MSIE takes care of the acquisition of webpages and also the parsing of HTML to the W3C which is a standard Document Object Model (DOM). The use of MSIE ensures that there is maximum compatibility with other websites.
Diagram: WebbIE architecture. WebbIE makes use of the DOM to gather active content parts for instance hypertext links and other components like forms, plain-text show of page contents. The text is able to be seen by the user. The components are shown on new lines which have distinct titles for instance LINK which is used by the hypertext link. The functionality of the web page is facilitated by the use of the return key on a line that contains a presented component (King et al 2004).
Intricate web pages- WebbIE presents the entire web page in a straight forward format so as to facilitate its exploration as a standard recognizable text document. The aforementioned is really simple as compared to puzzling out the intricate interface of a given web page. This is disadvantageous since any information in the layout of any given web page is not available to any given user since the separation of information on the web page and the navigation parts.
In summary, WebbIE highlights headlines and facilitates easy access by the users. The software allows for the user to be able to skip links to get to non-ink texts which work very well when skipping navigation bars. The software also provides for options that enable the identification of sections of the page that allows for the view of the main page contents. The software works directly on the page content or via the checking of successive lines by the use of texts or by the use of links (King et al, 2004). A more sophisticate approach is the use of webpage components such as frames, table cells and division elements by the use of HTML.
Forms – WebbIE provides for forms to be taken care of in the page via the use of simple text components. For instance, input boxes are shown as INPUT BOX: (content) on a row. If the user pushes on to the return key, WebbIE pops up a box to take delivery of the user’s input text, and follows to update the page together with the text for evaluation. Frames – WebbIE makes use of frames jointly to present them as a solo, linear text piece of paper, so the user is not forced to navigate dissimilar panes of information. It provides for users to steer within the page as if the diverse areas were still taking place in the frames, in light of this frame navigation is also catered for, but it is thought to be simpler for the population with the similar consistent interface made use of in frame together with non-frame pages (King et al, 2004).
From the above it is seen that the different hardware and software used to make it easier for the elderly and the disabled people have different histories but they are all geared towards making the lives of the less fortunate people better. The devices have different histories in that they evolved as technology evolved. For instance the mouse detection has evolved with technology as people have started to embrace cordless mouses. The use of screen readers has mostly taken root with the development of the wide world web hence the use of blinux, webformators just but to mention a few. The use of eye ocular devices has developed with the development of cameras. From the above its therefore evident that history is intertwined with the development of technology.