Call for comments.

January 29, 2009

Everyone reading this is encouraged to add a comment.

How many ways can we think of for a machine to be aware of its environment?

…I mean specifically without human intervention or input.

Example #1: Ambient light sensor.
Example #2: Thermometer.

Now you think of some…

(More on what this is for later)

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Skateistan

January 26, 2009

I was trying to think of how to include this so that it made sense with the topic of this blog. Then I realized that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a disability, too.

The New York Times reports on an Australian skateboarder who found his calling in Kabul, Afghanistan teaching kids there to skate.

Play is a powerful thing. It equalizes social classes and genders, it gives people a release from stress and provides something to look forward to. Kids who are skating aren’t joining gangs or militias.

Click more for video:
Read the rest of this entry »

Educational games

January 7, 2009

I’ve been pretty vocal in the past about how much didactic games suck.

James Portnow and Daniel Floyd agree with me. And they say it more eloquently than I can.

It seems I’m not the only person thinking about accessible video games. Awesome (since I’m not in a position to do anything but think about them). Some people are out there making games.
New York Times reports on a music-mixing game called AudiOdyssey that is designed to be playable by sighted and blind users. This one has been around for a while.

You can download AudiOdyssey here.

AudiOdyssey was created as part of a student thesis at MIT. Read Eitan Glinert’s thesis here.

Eitan has created a game company called Firehose Games to create more accessible games. I wish them luck, and I’ll be checking in on their progress as I get further in my career of combining recreational therapy with speech and language.

In addition to that, XBox Live has a game called In The Pit that is an audio-only, single-player action game. It sounds a lot like Be the Wumpus.

New York Times article on a Google engineer who designs interfaces for blind computer users.

Mr. Raman says he thinks he has the largest impact when he can persuade other engineers to make their products accessible — or, better yet, when he can convince them that there are interesting problems to be solved in this area. “If I can get another 10 engineers motivated to work on accessibility,” he said, “it is a huge win.”

This has been my experience with engineers and engineering students. People go into engineering because they enjoy problem-solving. People with disabilities have  problems that are solvable with appropriately designed technology. Not only that, but they are interesting problems to solve. Engineering students just don’t get enough exposure to this need so they aren’t aware of it.

It’s 2009

January 1, 2009

So what does “21st century” mean?

Jet packs

Jetpack

Jetpack

and

flying cars, of course.