RNIB Hackathon

[Steve] I’m delighted to come along to talk to the developer community today. I’m really excited at the prospects of what we will achieve in the next 24 hours or so. I’m Steve Jones, I work in the RNIB Innovation Team A hackathon is where we invite developers to assemble and we provide them with some information about some of the issues that blind and partially sighted people face when using mobile devices. [Vanja] I’m Vanja Sudar. I’m totally blind. Although there are a lot of apps that are accessible, a number of them are not. That can be very frustrating because sometimes I find something on Android Market that I think will be useful to me, only to find that it does not work. Maybe because the text is not spoken by the screenreader, or the buttons are not labelled, so all I hear is “button” or “image”, and I have no idea what is happening. [Robin] I’m Robin Spinks, principal manager for Digital Accessibility at RNIB. Today’s event is a unique opportunity for mobile developers, blind and partially sighted people and usability and accessibility specialists to come together and congregate around a common goal and collaborate to make accessible applications. It’s a really unique environment in which people can bounce ideas off one another. [Vanja] Let’s take train time tables. It could tell me the nearest train station is … You could type in “I want to go to Manchester” so … it could tell me to go to Euston, and when the next train is [Robin] If we look at an example of an app such as train times on an iPhone. It is possible for a blind person to navigate the app, use it independently, simply by using a finger and sliding it across the touchscreen. The app will speak to them and tell them what they are covering. Phone speaking: “Destination station: Peterborough. Direct service from London Kings cross” [Vanja] I am really pleased that so many app developers came, because sometimes I wonder, well, do they really care? I think that the fact that so many showed up … I think that they do” [Kevin] I’m Kevin. I am CEO of Novoda. We make Android apps. It’s been good. The atmosphere through the night has been up … and then it’s been down, because everyone gets really tired. We’ve got actual products that we’ve made. We’ve been using sim specs to simulate what it’s like to have disabilities, and we’re all very excited about the presentations. We made an application to help visually impaired users plan what they want to watch on TV as the existing TV guides were inaccessible. [Sakib] The problem we’re trying to solve is blind and partially sighted individuals having independence to walk around. We solved this with a mobile app which will tell you what’s around you as you’re walking along. [Keiron] I made a really simple app to detect colour – mainly for paper money – you hold it up to the phone and it audibly tells you if it’s a five pound, ten pound or twenty pound note. [Steve] For the world’s 285 million blind and partially sighted people, a world of accessible mobile technology can be quite life transforming.

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