Sunday, September 6, 2009

DeafBlind Communicator

A new device is giving the deaf-blind a way to communicate with anyone. The idea for two-piece portable device called the DeafBlind Communicator came from Washington State’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. A decade ago, program manager Colleen Rozmaryn wanted something to replace Tele-Braille devices but couldn’t find anything that would do the job. That eventually led to the development of the device built by a Canadian company called HumanWare. The DeafBlind Communicator provides a trio of communication devices in one package: face-to-face, TTY and SMS. It combines the BrailleNote with a DB-Phone. There is a laptop-size device with two keyboards along with a second, smaller device resembling a PDA. The deaf-blind person gives the smaller device to a non-signing person. It displays a message on the text screen and through speakers at the same time. The return message is then converted into Braille. The deaf-blind person reads the message by touching the a smaller set of keys on the larger device. Washington State has bought 35 Communicators for $6000 each. Click here for more information.