2006 Conference General Sessions

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SENSITIVE BRAILLE DISPLAYS WITH ATC TECHNOLOGY (ACTIVE TACTILE
CONTROL)

Presenter #1
Siegfried Kipke
Handy Tech Elektronik GmbH
Brunnenstrasse 10
Horb
State/Province/Region:
72160
Germany
Day Phone: * +49 7451 5546-10
Fax: +49 7451 5546-67
Email: infohandytech.de


The invention ATC (Active tactile Control) improve the efficiency of blind computer users. New Braille teaching tools for interactive learning and monitoring are ATC based.
Sensitive Braille Displays with ATC Technology (Active Tactile control)
Handy Tech has invented a technology called Active Tactile control (ATC) which allows to detect in real time the exact reading position of the reading finger when readin9 Braille on a Braille display. This so called sensitive Braille display can dramatically improve the efficiency of a blind computer user. ATC offers new functionality for navigating and controlling.
ATC also allows to create new tools for teaching Braille. The following contains a short description of how to use ATC for assistants, interactive learning and monitoring the learning progress.
Assistants with ATC
When working on a PC, ATC can offer a lot of different possibilities for assistants. Letís have a closer look what ATC can do for a Braille display user.
Navigation Functions
The knowledge of the reading position can be used to navigate within menus, applications and when reading a text. According to the finger position, the menu or sub menu will be opened or a text will be scrolled when reaching the end of the line. Also the position of the Braille display within a text will be repositioned depending of the actual reading position. Basic functions for navigating with ATC are:
Mouse Track: Navigating within menu items similar to the hot mouse pointer for sighted users. ATC can track along the mouse pointer for opening sub menus
Automatic scrolling: when reading a text on the Braille display, the text will be
automatically scrolled when the last character displayed on the Braille display has been read
controlling the Speech Output
ATC allows coupling and controlling of the speech output with the reading position. Different modes have been implemented
Braille learning mode: A word will be spoken by the speech output only when it was
read completely
Automatic spelling: underneath a defined reading speed the letters will be spelled
Automatic turning off speech: underneath a defined reading speed the speech will be mute
speed reading mode: already when touching the first letter of a word, the word will be spoken by the speech output
Assistance functions for navigation and speech control can be combined.


Interactive Learning
The ATC technology can be used for interactive learning. Just the fact that the speech output can directly be linked to the reading position in Braille will intuitively help improving the Braille reading skills.
Even if ATC is just used for controlling speech, the user will step by step learn how to read Braille. The user starts realizing the Braille pattern. Always if there is a single dot in the upper left corner of the Braille cell, the word spoken by the speech output starts with the letter ďaĒ.
This hands-on way of learning Braille can be accelerated by an interactive learning program. A Braille reading software could offer different levels, After reaching a specific level, monitored by ATC, the program moves on to the next level.
The structure of the interactive learning program could be as follows:
1. Starting with single letters. Learning the Braille alphabet in an interactive game. Questions for testing the understanding could be answered by clicking at the corresponding character
2. Special characters like @
3. Short words
4.
Longer words
5. Grade one with explanation of the rules
6. Grade two with explanation of the rules
Monitoring the learning progress
The reading behavior when reading Braille on a Braille display can be monitored by ATC and documented in a log file,
A lesson could be completed when:
* A defined number of characters or words has been read
* A time period for reading e.g. one hour is over
During this lesson the character read as well as time for reading the individual
letters are taken down in a log file to be analyzed later. The reading protocol
could be created when:
* Reading a specific text
* using a specific application e.g. under windows
A separate tool for analyzing can detect:
* The reading speed per wor4d depending on the level of the reading material and the
average length of the words
* If the words have been read completely
* if and how the reading speed has changed within a word
* The average reading speed when reading different letters and characters
E.g. a: 0.25 sec b: 0.3 sec . .. @: 0.7 sec
Analyzing the reading behavior allows to judge the progress of learning to read Braille.
The Braille Laboratory
The reading position of a student when reading Braille detected by ATC can be shown on the screen. The ATC Braille monitor is showing the text displayed on the Braille display. In addition the present reading position can be high lighted e.g. with color.
The Braille laboratory could now show the content of a group of students including the individual reading position (e.g. 8 students) at the screen of the teacher. The teacher is now able to control the students Braille display also parallel to the student, if the teacher is using a Braille display, he can display the content of a selected Braille display of each student on the teacherís Braille display. The reading position of the student could be high lighted e.g. with fast blinking Braille cells.
conclusion
Handy Tech invention Active Tactile Control (ATC) can improve the efficiency of a blind computer user. It enables to build sensitive Braille displays offering new functionality for navigating and controlling. New Braille teaching tools for interactive learning and monitoring the learning progress are based on ATC.


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