Two Telstra employees – Kelly Schulz, who is blind, and Peter Miller, who is hearing impaired – were each given a Google Glass device with assistive apps installed. “These apps have been developed to see what could be done with technology to make the lives of hearing and vision impaired people a little easier,” said Telstra on its blog.
In the video embedded below, Schulz demonstrates shopping using an optical recognition app on her Glass device. The app identifies a bag of peas and reads out the label. “To have that hands-free ability to identify objects, being connected to a fast network, being connected to the world and have it all private in your ear, on your head – fantastic!” said Schulz.
For Miller, an app provides a transcript of conversations in real time right before his eyes. “I can be a more active participant in meetings and conversations and I can walk into any meeting whatsoever without needing to book any special [captioning] services,” he said.
Tim O’Leary, Telstra’s Chief Sustainability Officer, said, “It’s the same technology for able people and people with disability. […] There’s a real sort of equity I think with the technology. The design is the same for everybody and that makes a huge difference for people’s self-esteem.”
Although Google Glass is not yet available to purchase in Australia, projects such as this will help ensure that the benefits of the technology for people with disability are realised by the time it enters the market. However, price may be a barrier for some with the device currently selling for over US$2,000.
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