2003 Conference Proceedings

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INTRODUCTION TO THE ALVA MOBILE PHONE/ORGANIZER FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED

Presenter
Tom Haklander
ALVA Product Manager
Leemansweg 51
6827 BX Arnhem
Netherlands
Phone: +31 26 384 1 384
Email: THaklander@alva-bv.nl

Albert Jan van Weij
Manager International Marketing and Sales
Leemansweg 51
6827 BX Arnhem
Netherlands
Phone: +31 26 384 1 384
Email: AJvWeij@alva-bv.nl

ALVA provides solutions that enable blind and visually-impaired people to use computers and communication systems, so that they may reach their full potential and achieve their dreams. As one of the leading developer and manufacturer of braille products, ALVA aims at addressing actual trends. At the moment these are a large demand for accessible cell phones, the increased availability of mobile internet services, and the integration of more and more functions into one small, light devices.

With the upcoming launch of the Mobile Phone/Organizer (MPO), ALVA combines these actual developments in the field of mobile communication and assistive technology. The ALVA MPO is a small, light and 'wearable' device that combines an accessible GSM cell phone, notetaker functionality, and facilitates mobile internet services. The product is available in a version with braille and speech output, and a version with speech-only output.

Why is this combination of functions, aimed at a mainstream, visually impaired consumer group? In the world there is an enormous group of visually impaired people that play or want to play an active and self-reliant role in our society. More and more this role requires access to information and human interaction in every situation. An accessible mobile device for communication, storing and retrieving information, is a solution that enables the visual impaired to communicate within their personal network, explore the world and feel save and in control anytime, anywhere. For low- and no-tech users, a combined accessible cell phone and organizer is a perfect first step to reach professional achievement in an information and communication based environment.

The first release of the ALVA MPO (March 2003) will integrate a GSM phone, SMS (Short Message Service), phone and address directory, clock, alarm, notebook, US Grade-2 support, USB slave and PC Sync. Future extensions - like GPS, GPRS and much more - are already anticipated for in the technical designs of the product and available in next releases. Advanced functional extensions like mobile internet browser, calculator, Pocket Office accessibility will be offered in optional software upgrades.

One of the interesting aspects of the ALVA MPO is the ability to use mobile internet services, alternatively together with GPS technology. These enable the retrieval of, or interaction with time and place related information. For example, a future service could be the instant delivery of actual information about departures and arrivals, that an MPO user can read in braille when he walks into the train station. Or, how about to read in braille or listen to the special offers of the shops you are walking by. There are already SMS-based real-time payment services available. For this the MPO provides total control and security for its user.

The presentation at the CSUN Conference on Technology and People with Disabilities will focus on the functionality of the ALVA MPO, its physical design, user interface and explain about (future) service-based applications.


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