Audio Haptics for visually impaired information technology

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Audio Haptics, the project seeks to improve the inclusion of workers or trainees who are blind or visually impaired in vocational training programmes using visual materials, by delivering these in a non visual format, which is touch and sound. The project in European Union will design, produce and test pilot learning materials, as well as create an online training programme for teachers.

The need is identified by the low employment levels and specialist training facilities available for this group. Unless facilities and systems are devised and introduced now, the acceptance of e-learning as an essential feature for modernisation and adaptation of training systems across the European Union may continue with the substantial exclusion of this group. The aims and objectives are to produce three pilot VET training courses that contain a significant element of visual graphics, in the form of 'Talking Tactiles'. Initial activities by the VET partners will be the compilation of 3 sets of lesson content materials, then by association with a specialist SME business, a series of associated tactile diagrams will be designed and produced. These tactile diagrams will then undergo a process that essentially 'copies & pastes' audio files into the graphics files.

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By this innovative methodology, accessibility to visual graphics for the visually impaired can be improved. There are some 450 million people in the EU. Depending on the source, the % of people who are recorded as blind or visually impaired varies from around 1.5% to 4% of the population depending on age grouping. Taking a conservative 2% as a reasonable average on this basis there would be some 9 million people who at some stage of their life cycle could benefit by assistance from this project, in education, in vocational training, or for recreational purposes. This project is about making learning materials that are visual by nature accessible to those who are partially sighted or blind.

e-ISOTIS (Information Society Open To ImpairmentS), the non-profit making organisation founded in December 2002, working with People with Disabilities, Elderly, their spouses as well as members of the ICT (Information Communication Technology) community, worldwide, is the dissemination leader of this project.

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