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Project Details

Keywords: [Communication Difficulties and Communication Aids] [User Interface Design/ Human Factors] [Hearing Impairment] [Visual Impairment] [Software] [Tactile Feedback] [Education, Training and Employment]
Name: Tactile Communication Systems for Persons with Combined Auditory and Visual-Impairment (Deaf-Blind) [archived - not updated]
Start Date: 1st Apr 01
End Date: 1st Nov 04
Total Project Fund: 462,000UK Pounds
Background: The vast majority of deaf-blind people suffer from isolation, lack of independence, lack of adequate education and training available to them, and inability to obtain employment to become productive members of society. All of these problems are due to one common factor, lack of communication. The isolation of deaf-blind is increased and exacerbated by the rapidly increasing influence and use of internet technology. Computer technology could greatly increase a deaf-blind persons access to information, their ability to communicate with other people and become more integrated into mainstream society.The Prime Minister has set an objective that 100% of all public services should be available electronically by 2005. The project will contribute towards this by enhancing the number of people with such access, support the Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust Health Improvement Programme and support NHS Trust objective to promote independence for disabled people.
Description: Tactile display device that is universally applicable to existing communication methods, and associated software for deaf-blind people.
Objective: The main objectives of the project are to: 1.develop a unified tool to enable blind and deaf-blind people to communicate using a computer. It will be developed as a combined software and hardware package integrated with a tactile communication interface; 2. promote independence, social participation and access to employment, training, education and services by disabled people; 3. ensure the unified tool is universally applicable to all existing communication languages used by the blind and deaf-blind (Braille, Deaf-blind manual alphabet, Block letter alphabet, etc.); 4. train a core group of blind / deaf-blind people (including experienced /inexperienced Braille users, and deaf-blind school children), in the use of the proposed technology; the UK government target for electronic delivery of public services.
Progress: Progress to date 14/06/02 An assessment and initial down-selection of candidate technologies has been made. Initial proof-of-concept studies have been undertaken for each of the technologies. Various designs of prototype devices have been constructed and tested to select the most suitable materials and actuation methods for the prototype device before being tried by deafblind people. Simple laboratory demonstrators are being designed and built. A first user requirements report has been drafted on the basis of interviews with an initial small group of deaf-blind people. Preliminary consideration has been given to the likely software requirements of any practical system. A final report was made available in November 2004.
General Info: Other project partners include Southampton University Hospitals Trust.

Organisations Involved In This Project

The main contact(s) for this project are:

Organisation Name Type Tel Town Contact
QinetiQ Ltd
0843 658 4668
Mr David Greenfield


Organisation Name Type Tel Town Contact
Department of Health - Social Care Group
020 7210 4850
Mr Jeff Bashton
Deafblind UK
01733 358100
Mr Wayne Sharp
Human-Computer Interaction Research Group - University of York
01904 432722
Prof Helen Petrie

Funding for this project includes a contribution from:

Organisation Name Type Tel Town
HEFCE - Higher Education Funding Council
Grant Making Body
0117 9317317

Publications that are an Outcome of this Project

Title Author / Editor Date Published
Tactons: Structured Tactile Messages for Non-Visual Information Display
Brewster, S.A. 18th Jan 04