jesse_the_k: Macro photo of my Blue Heeler Lucy's deep brown left eye (Default)

Why that braille printer isn't worth a penny

It IS exciting to see kids interested in engineering, and I know [personal profile] selkiechick posted with the best intention.

However, that announcement pushed a whole row of my Assistive Technology Geek buttons, and I gotta rant. I'll can use the "BRAIGO" to illustrate why I get so hot under the collar. (My cred: I've hung out with people who use assistive technology since 1982; I designed and sold braille translation software and embossers in the late eighties; and I've personally depended on assistive technology since 1991.) Based on thirty year's close attention to the development/PR/funding/purchasing/abandonment cycle for assistive technology, here's my take on the BRAIGO announcement.

DESIGNERS GET COOKIES FOR PROTOTYPES, NOT AFFORDABLE PRODUCTS )

DEVELOPMENT WITHOUT EXPERT ENDUSERS IS POINTLESS  ) That's why the BRAIGO can't create useful braille.

PR BECOMES DISINFORMATION ) A $350 embosser would be an amazing thing. Hundreds of well-intentioned editors and readers are willing to take the inventor's word for it. But this device is not a embosser.

EXPERTS ARE AVAILABLE on REQUEST! ) We live in a press release culture: what the company wants to say is what we hear. Or in this case, what a 12 year old (who mentions absolutely no contact with braille users) says gets broadcast.


FAST FACTS RE EMBOSSERS & BRAILLE )

Start from the first dot at the RNIB's Learning Braille site or pick an excellent start for adults at the Achayra firm in India. Teach more at the National Federation of the Blind's Braille is Beautiful resource for kids.

tl;dr Just because assistive technologies are tools for people with disabilities doesn't mean we must accept only good intentions. We want the best engineers working on our designs, the best marketers making them affordable, and the best politicians making them subsidized.
jesse_the_k: Sprinter with right AK prosthetic leg, shot from neck down (prosthetic sprint)

Beautiful prosthetics of particular interest to fan artists & cosplayers!

This was featured in the New York Times Magazine last week, but the home site is even cooler:

www.thealternativelimbproject.com

Sophie de Oliveira Barata is the principal artisan of these bespoke limbs, which are marketed as functional, decorative, and expressive — some combination of a neck brace and a tatoo.
jesse_the_k: Photo of baby wearing huge black glasses  (eyeglasses baby)

Call for Papers: Mediating Digital Communications in Education

This announcement came over one of my academic listservs. Those of us reading are, in fact, experts in how new communication technologies affect disabled people's lives throughout their education, as well as in adulthood.

The full call is at this link; here are some highlights. highlights of the CFP  )