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close up of Airbus A380 Plane safety cardwith

On a recent trip to the United Kingdom, I opted to fly British Airways (BA) in the World Traveler section of the plane, also known as economy.  The transatlantic flight was very enjoyable (I had a surprisingly comfortable seat), an excellent IFE showing the latest movies, great staff and a very modern aircraft. 

close up of screen on seat back

During this trip, I flew on the BA Airbus A380 which is a ‘double-decker’ style, two level aircraft which seats several hundred people, comfortably.  The focus of today’s blog post is to highlight BA’s investment of resources into accessible IFE.  This particular IFE was built by Thales for British Airways and it is packed with features to support individuals with disabilities – a welcome feature!  The system by Thales is pictured below.

Close up of blue and green logo of closed captions

As a professional in the accessibility field, I am always ‘reviewing’ technology and I immediately noticed the graphic user interface was very responsive even with a pretty light touch this ideal for individuals with hand strength challenges.  The first accessibility feature, I trialed was the instant captioning, commonly referred to as Closed Captioning.  The icon for accessing the feature is below and it could be activated within the menu system.  It should be noted that all of the movies and video programming worked with the closed captioning from my observation.

close up of blue and green logo of audio description

The second accessibility feature, I trialed was audio description which would be pretty easy for a sighted individual to activate.  If a user was blind or severally visually impaired they would need sighted assistance to activate the feature but they would definitely benefit from this wonderful support.  Once activated, the movie or video programming was audio described in conjunction with the character’s audio.  I actually watched an entire movie like this and it was a very cool accessibility feature.  It should be noted that not all of the movies or video programming was available with audio description but it is clear that BA has made a significant effort for its non-visual customers so they have a good range of in-flight entertainment during their travels.

Seat back screen showing language options

Overall, I am extremely impressed with British Airways and their efforts to make their in-flight experience enjoyable for those with sensory impairments.  I would be more than happy to suggest BA as a great airline to fly if you are sensory impaired.

Thanks for reading,

Andrew Drummond

 

GPS SmartSole

GPS SmartSole

Close up of shoe insert on white background.  Black letters saying "SmartSole"

Hi guys,

Today, I wanted to introduce and highlight the GPS SmartSole by GTX Corporation.  This particular device is intended to act as tracking system for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  However, after spending a little while thinking about the usefulness of this product, it could definitely be utilized with individuals with Autism Spectrum disorder and those with intellectual disabilities that are at risk of wandering/eloping. 

Two shoe inserts with red arrow pointing to computer screen. Screen has map opened.

Interesting bit of kit, the SmartSole is an inner sole with a hidden smartphone sealed within a water resistant shoe insert that can be ‘tailored/trimmed’ to the wearer’s foot size.  The unit retails for $299 and also requires a monthly plan starting at approximately $15 per month for the economy package (does not include geofencing and other features).  This device allows the caregiver to discretely monitor the location of their loved one to assist with keeping them safe through use the Smart Locator iOS app.  In addition, the device’s software/app allows Geofencing and the creating of geographical zones that trigger alerts to support loved ones staying in a specific vicinity versus possibly wandering off towards dangerous locations.  It also shares the battery status of the device with loved ones to ensured charging occurs on a regular basis.  Finally, the app can determine if the wearer is moving, when they started to move and provide very specific locations based on the GPS including street names/cross-streets (pus city blocks, depending on locality).

Close up of phone app with dates and locations and times.

Finally, to learn more about the product, full pricing information and more of the features please click the link below.

https://gpssmartsole.com/gpssmartsole/monitoring-service/

Thanks again for reading,

Andrew Drummond

 Hi guys,

I just wanted to highlight some affordable low-tech AT for individuals with fine motor, dexterity and/or grip strength challenges.  This particular bit of kit is a set of silverware that is weighted, features built-up handles and designed with excellent ergonomics.  The set is from Amefa and can be ordered via www.thegrommet.com

Close up of white plate with fork, spoon and knife in silver with fatter handles on plate.

The set consists of a very solid spoon, knife and fork.  What is very different about this set is the rounded built-up handles that are easier to grasp than a flat handle. 

Close up of two hands holding fat handled silver fork and knife. Fork has piece of potato on it.

This great bit of kit is currently retailing for $89.95 plus shipping.  .If you would like to learn more about the product, please check out the website highlighted earlier in the post.

Thanks for reading,

Andrew Drummond

 

 

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ID NYC

Hi guys, some awesome news coming out of New York City this month as it relates to accessibility.  The government of NYC has decided to release an updated identification card that incorporates Braille embossing.  This will be the first locally issued official identification that incorporates Braille anywhere in the US.  For those don’t know it or just learned it while reading this post, NYC has a comprehensive city ID program for all New Yorkers.  The card acts as ID anywhere within the state for obtaining government services, making age-restricted purchases, entering age restricted establishments, identification during police interactions and a range of other matters.

Close up of NYC Identification Card.  It has a picture of a women with Braille on top of picture.

The ID card has been existence since 2015 for New Yorkers and the increase in its uptake/usage has steadily increased from what I can gather. I think this is a very exciting development no matter how fast inclusive or assistive technology moves it has always been clear that Braille is a key communication modality for those with non-visual access needs.  The card will be steadily rolling out over the next few weeks – really hoping I get to see one in person!

Man standing at podium with sign saying "Renew Your ID" and second sign with blow up of ID card.

 

To learn more about NYC’s ID program click the link below:

https://www1.nyc.gov/site/idnyc/index.page

Thanks for reading,

Andrew Drummond

US DOT Seeks Input

DOT Seeks Input on Proposal to Make Airplane Lavatories More Accessible


The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) seeks public comments on a new proposed rule to improve restroom access for passengers with disabilities on single-aisle aircraft with 125 or more seats. The rule is based on negotiated rulemaking undertaken by DOT’s Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation, which included aviation industry representatives, disability rights advocates, and other stakeholders.


The proposed regulation addresses lavatory interiors, on-board wheelchairs, and training of flight attendants.


Comments are due by March 2, 2020. 


Read the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and submit a comment.


Stay tuned: In the near future, DOT plans to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to solicit comment and gather information on the costs and benefits of requiring airlines to make lavatories on new single-aisle aircraft larger, equivalent to that currently found on twin-aisle aircraft.

ATIA

Hi guys, this week is a huge week for those in the assistive technology community; it’s the week of ATIA (Assistive Technology Industry Association) conference in Orlando, Florida.  One of our veteran AT specialists is currently at the ATIA conference learning, engaging, consulting, educating and collaborating with folks in attendance.  Denise Schuler will be part of an esteemed panel discussing matters related to mobile device deployment.

Blue screen with with letters ATI and Assistive Technology Industry Association

The ATIA conference is a world-renowned AT conference and they have participants and presenters from across the globe in attendance each year.  ATIA is also one of the primary organizations for the progress, discussion and the ongoing development of AT here in the US.  This group consists of manufacturers, sellers, resellers, and service providers of AT products, equipment and services in the US.  

Blue and white ATIA 2020 logo on screen with words 'share, learn, connections" and dates January  28 - February 1

Finally, to learn more about ATIA, AT or digital accessibility feel free to reach out to us at MDTAP or if you wish to take the lead, hit the link below.

https://www.atia.org/atia-2020/

Again, guys thanks so much for reading!

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