Journal of Rehabilitation Research and
Development Vol. 36 No. 4, October 1999

Abstract - Impact of digital miniaturization and networked topologies on access to next generation telecommunication by people with visual disabilities

Gregg C. Vanderheiden, PhD

Trace Research and Development Center, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison, WI 53705


Abstract - 

In the past, telecommunication technologies did not present any particular problem for persons with visual disabilities. The telephones themselves were auditory in nature and could be operated by touch. As telecommunication begins to incorporate video and as telecommunication devices become more complex (including the incorporation of visual displays), new barriers are appearing. Fortunately, advancing technologies are also providing new opportunities for access. The rapidly shrinking size and cost of electronics is allowing us to build intelligence and flexibility into telecommunication products. Advances will soon allow voice to be incorporated into most devices. In addition, clever use of networks and network-based services will allow access features to be built directly into the network, providing access to key visual information. As a result, future telecommunication systems can be more accessible than technologies of the past--if they are implemented correctly.

Key words: accessibility, disability, handicap, telecommunication, teleconference, telephone, universal design, voice.

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