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Assistive Technology

Accessibility Features Added to Standard Kindle Fire

December 6, 2012 — Amazon announced that early next year the accessibility features, “Voice Guide” and “Explore by Touch,” will be introduced to the standard definition Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD 7. The Voice Guide provides text-to-speech capabilities and reads aloud any action performed by the individual using the Kindle device. Also helpful to individuals with vision loss is Explore by Touch, which announces what item an individual touches, for example the title of a book, and if the item is tapped twice, it results in the default action (i.e. the book would open).

Wireless Bureau Wants Comments on Hearing Aid Compatibility

November 1, 2012—The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau is seeking public input on the effectiveness of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules regarding hearing aid compatibility (HAC) of wireless handsets. The Bureau previously released a 2010 Review PN that addressed the compatibility and accessibility of various wireless phones to people with hearing aids and cochlear implants. However, there have been technological advances since the 2010 Review PN and in this new Public Notice (PN), the Bureau is interested in how these advances have affected HAC.

Developing Accessible Prescription Drug Labels

October 31, 2012 —The United States Access Board has started an initiative to improve access to prescription drug labels, specifically for individuals who are blind, visually impaired or elderly, following the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) of 2012. A working group, including representatives from industry and various blind and elderly advocacy organizations, will evaluate alternatives such as the inclusion of braille on prescription labels, auditory technology to include “talking bottles”, and radio frequency identification tags.

New App to Identify U.S. Currency

October 9, 2012 - The Department of Education announced today the launch of IDEAL Currency Identifier, a free downloadable application (app) designed to assist individuals who are blind or visually impaired to denominate U.S. currency on  Android mobile devices.    IDEAL Currency Identifier was developed by IDEAL Group, IQ Engines, and the Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center's App Factory.  The IDEAL Currency Identifier initiative supports the U.S.


September 25, 2012—The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, the Habilitation Benefits Coalition, the Coalition to Preserve Rehabilitation, and the Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid Coalition, released a technical assistance document that aims to be a resource for states in designing essential health benefits packages for “rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices,” as defined by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).


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The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number 90RE5007-01-00. The opinions contained in this website are those of the Wireless RERC and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or NIDILRR.