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EBU Access Cast

May 22, 2019

Wellcome to the 11th EBU Access Cast. This time we have a special episode on Sight City 2019 and we talk about all interesting tech goodies we saw at the conference. At the beginning of the episode you can listen to the interviews which Mario and Tanja prepared, and than after Mario, Tanja, Bart and our special guest Paweł Masarczyk  who is very known podcaster from Poland in the Tyflopodcast discuss all about the things they saw at the Sight City.

The first interview comes from Vispero group where Jan Blum presented to us what's new with all series of their products such as JAWS, Zoom, Fusion, and also Focus Blue braille displays 5g: 14, 40 and 80 characters.
Jan also informed us about Omni reader: scanning and reading device as well as the products from Optelec Germany: video magnifier CCTV device with 16 inch screen.

In the second interview we spoke with Mr Siegfried Kipke, CEO of Help Tech that is for many listeners better known as former Handy Tech which is a very good German manufacturer of braille devices. The products demonstrated in this interview were Actilino, portable and compact braille notetaking device with 16 ergonomic concaved braille cells, unique functions such as detection of the reading positioning, bluetooth connectivity with up to 4 different devices in the same time for transferring files or to use it as a braille display, magnetic USB connection, 16 gb of storage and support for SD cards plus standard lithium batteries which are possible to find in todays smartphones. We also spoke about Active Braille and Active Star braille devices, and we had a chance to see the new Active Braille Plus with 40 cells which has similar functionalities as Actilino, but with aditional 40 braille sells, and new rabber keys which make this unit really very quiet when typing. In addition, it supports Kindle and Kindle Fire HD  devices and the plan is to add the support for the Amazon's Alexa assistant.

Our next visit was at the Kanematsu corporation booth and we spoke with the manager Mr. Tetsuo Takamatsu about their new product called TactPlus.
TactPlus  is a product from Japan and it represents the first braille and 3d image printer which uses thermal printing on capsule paper. It has only 5 kg and it has the same size as a standard Inkjet printer. We were standing closely while the printer was working and we couldn’t hear any noise coming out from it. In fact our opinion is that this is the most silent braille printer that we herd so far, and we were very positively surprised by the quality of the embossed graphics and braille text.

Another very good product which we demonstrated in the next interview is BraiBook and it comes from Spain. It is the first portable braille book reader with only 1 braille cell that has a size of a computer mouse. The cell can be refreshed at the desired speed which can be adjusted with a little joystick located on the left side of the device. Mr. Eric Sicard showed us the product and he explained to us that BraiBook supports currently 40 languages which are provided via the open source Liblouis braille translator, and that it also provides the text-to-speech functionality for users who want to read it via TTS through additional headphone jak. With 64 gb of internal memory, users have more than enough space to store thousands of ebooks in various formats such as Epub, PDF or TXT files and read it on the go. In few minutes we were able to get the unit going along and read the text very fast.

The APH booth was very busy with the demonstration of their new products, and one of them which we saw in action was Code Jumper for which we can't wait the official release in Europe. As you will hear from our comments later in the episode, the rest of our team is also very happy with Code Jumper and our opinion is that the product has very bright future in the blindness community.
Besides Code Jumper we  also saw BrailleBuzz which is really cool gadget for very young blind students who are just starting to learn braill.
Speaking of braille devices, on the APH stand they presented also the Braile Trail, 14 cell braille display which is produced by HumanWare.

Another company which is bringing lot of attention for last few years
comes from Korea, and it is possible to see them almost on every assistive technology conference. They are called Dot incorporation, so we went to see what do they have in store for us this time. We were able to see the Dot Watch which was previously mentioned in our episodes, but we were also able to see the brand new low cost braille reader Dot Mini. It has 16 braille cels and built in speaker, Dot Mini represents modern reading unit and portable Braille display for blind people. The unit has also TTS support as well as the support for Daisy format, support for SD cards, USB and Bluetooth.

Besides all the things we mentioned, we saw a bunch of other things for which we didn't have the time to do the interviews such as meteg product: 2 dimentional graphic braille display, Tactonom by Inventivio and Seika braille displays by Nippon Telesoft.

Another cool thing which we mentioned in the later section of the podcast which we saw was the washing machine that has buttons with tactile markings. The buttons are also touch sensitive and by touching them will produce a sound to distinguish the number of the turns in the spin cycle or the desired temperature in a predefined program. The washing machine is designed to be accessible to visually impaired and it is manufactured by Miele. Miele started to make home appliances with universal design in mind since 2007, and on the next link you can read more information about it.

Pawel saw also an interesting product from Italy called FelixPhone, which is bringing another adopted smartphone for blind people, Mediavoice - Speaky Facile, the device which connects thru your smart TV, and Bruno, the reading Machine for low vision and blind people.

Last year the EBU Access Cast was launched on the Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Therefore at the end of this episode we tell you why this day is inportant for our community and we are sharing with you a short but very informative article about it.

We hope that this episode was interesting to you and that we were able to bring at least a small piece of many different things which were possible to see and experience on this years Sight City. As always you are free to leave us the comments and the suggestions on our e-mail and Twitter and we're looking forward to be back with you in June.