Israeli nonprofit Beit Issie Shapiro and hands-free tech developer Sesame Enable are working to change that, developing smartphones that motor-impaired users can operate with head movements rather than voice or touch commands.
The technology is being developed to meet the needs of people with impairments that limit their ability to move, such as spinal cord injuries, severe arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
The organizations received a $1 million grant from Google.org, the charitable arm of Google — an Internet search engine company. The grant is part of Google’s Impact Challenge program, a pledged initiative by the company to issue $20 million in funds to 29 nonprofits developing accessible technology for people with disabilities.
Accessibility was a featured topic during the Google I/O conference May 18-20. Sesame Enable demonstrated its technology during the event. Google’s Android N operating system for Android devices will be equipped with the Sesame Enable app that will allow users with motor impairments to interact with the screen using body-movement features such as face and eye tracking.
Google recently announced several other initiatives aimed at accessibility. These include Accessibility Scanner, a tool for Android that allows developers to test their own apps and receive suggestions for ways to enhance accessibility as well as changes to Google Docs that empower users to edit documents using voice commands.
Onix is also committed to accessibility, helping organizations create accessible web content. Its product Equidox converts PDF to HTML that conforms to the WCAG 2.0 AA standards. Over time the company will also make its main website more accessible implementing relevant portions of WCAG 2.0 AA. Onix’s current accessible website for the Equidox product can be found here.