The ARMi Assistive Technology Arm

 Staunton Media Lab Unveils ARMi Assistive Technology Arm        

ARMi Brings Tech Tools Within Reach of Disabled

Putting 1,000 helping hands into homes this holiday season.

(Staunton, VA — September 1, 2017) On Friday, September 1, the Staunton Media Lab will debut a breakthrough in assistive technology — the ARMi Assistive Technology Arm — putting advanced technology within reach of the disabled.

The ARMi (short for "Advanced Recreational Media Interface") is a portable, mechanical arm that allows for "hands-free" use of smartphones, tablet computers, remote controls, and other useful devices. The ARMi Assistive Technology Arm also holds many devices useful for disabled or mobility-challenged persons, including a mirror, a magnifying glass and a magnetic plate.

The ARMi was developed as an inexpensive document reader for the blind. Document readers for the blind can cost several thousand dollars — too expensive for many who need them. However, smartphones that cost less than $100 can read documents to the blind — if the person has help holding the phone. The ARMi Assistive Technology Arm provides those helping hands. With the ARMi and a smart phone, blind persons can easily position the phone and have books and documents read out loud by the phone.

The ARMi begins selling on Amazon October 1 for only $99. However, during the month of September, the ARMi is available for only $69 through Kickstarter. Supplies are limited to 1,000 units.

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How Does a Blind Person Edit Video?

Image of blind video editor Coley Evans

The Staunton Media Lab (SML) is pleased to present a new video release entitled How Does a Blind Person Edit Video? Watch as SML Audio Director Coley Evans, who is blind from birth, edits a video using Windows Movie Maker.

SML hopes you will share this extraordinary video. It's built around a screen capture from Coley's first effort at video editing. You are seeing something even Coley can't see: what it looks like when a blind person edits video.

 How Does a Blind Person Edit Video? was made with the following process:

  • Coley downloads video from YouTube and opens in Windows Movie Maker
  • Coley starts the screen capture program, Screencastify, which makes a movie of his desktop
  • The screen capture movie is converted to MP4 using VLC software
  • Video of Coley editing video without a monitor or a mouse was added
       (Shot with a Canon HD Cam saved to an SD card)
  • Video of short interview with Coley was added
       (Shot with a Sony MiniDV Cam to an EZ Grabber capture card to OBS)
  • Music was downloaded from a credited source of copyright-free music
  • Two synthetic, machine-generated voices are heard in this video
  • The final video was edited by Devon Donis, Video Editor at SML, using Adobe Premier
  • Directed by Steve O'Keefe, SML Executive Director
  • Produced by Staunton Media Lab — Video & Audio Editing by the Deaf, Blind and Uniquely Able

Copyright-Free 2017 by Staunton Media Lab. Please feel free to download and distribute this video as long as the contents are not changed and this copyright notice is intact. Thank You!

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Assistive Tech Expected to Grow Rapidly

As Staunton Media Lab continues to cover the latest strides in assistive tech, we'd like to start 2017 by focusing on recently released reports that forecast rapid growtth in the field. The three recent reports we'd like to highlight focus on voice-recognition technologies across several industries, including healthcare; on assistive rehabilitation technologies like robotic prosthetics; and on the needs of the elderly.

Voice Recognition Tech Forecast

Research and Markets released its "Global Markets and Technologies for Voice Recognition" report earlier this month, an update from its now three-year-old report on voice recognition technologies, "due to the growing demand for enhanced enterprise, consumer and healthcare applications that feature speech as a primary user interface." The report covered "advances in machine learning, statistical data-mining techniques, ubiquitous mobile devices and other technologies," spanning across many markets and industries, including, for instance, transcript applications for healthcare, and voice-integrated navigation systems.

According to the press release:

"Technologies covered include overall hardware, software and devices as well as automatic speech recognition, text-to-speech, speaker verification, speech analytics, call center, interactive voice response, voice-enabled mobile search, games and set top boxes, digital signal processors, gateways, microelectromechanical systems and Bluetooth technology."

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Assistive Tech Provides Learning Tools for All of Us

Did you ever pause to think that the term "assistive technology" is a tautology, like "free gift" and "new innovation"? All technology should be assistive, by definition. In many cases, Assistive Technology we refer to means technology specifically designed to help the disabled and uniquely-abled individuals.

Truth is, assistive technology needn't be so narrowly defined. It helps us all to communicate more accurately and successfully. As the latest wave of apps and software that falls into that broadly defined category demonstrates, it's for anyone who could use some help expressing themselves, like forming thoughts, putting them into words, and spelling them correctly. After all, they are just tools that allow you to perform tasks faster and with greater results, freeing up your time and mind to do more, with less stress.

Forbes contributor Jenn Choi, in her recent article titled "Cutting Edge School Tech: Focus On Differences," writes about using assistive tech in education that has the power to "change the playing field for the student and affect the whole entire classroom."

She elaborates:

"[A]dvancements in ed tech are allowing a great number of individual students with disabilities who really need technology not only reach higher levels of learning, but the move allows for a positive ripple effect throughout the classroom. That is, fellow students also experience numerous benefits just by being a classmate of the student with a disability."

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Affordable, Accessible Cell Phone Plans

"Accessibility has to do with price, and if the technology is not affordable then it really isn't accessible," said Executive Director Steve O'Keefe during the October 19 broadcast of SML Live! by Staunton Media Lab. Steve was talking about cell phone plans that would fit particularly well the budget of a family with kids who also need a phone.

"One of the things people complain about most is the cost of cell phones and cell phone plans, particular for children and the underage," Steve said. "It can add up if you have a large family."

The April 2016 Consumer Reports noted:

"The Big Four carriers' shell-game-like pricing practices have become so convoluted, you need an accounting degree to decipher them. They continually shift prices up or down according to the number of phone lines you need and the amount of data you're purchasing. They further complicate matters with 'special' short-term offers to lure customers from rivals."

The deals, the article points out, have a short life span and "often vaporize when a customer buys a new phone or makes other changes." Still, comparison-shopping, perhaps due to the sheer number of options, has become a "tiny bit less onerous."

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Staunton Media Lab Named DBVI Business of the Year

   From left to right: Cindy Roberts, Coordinator of Workforce Services, DBVI; Coley Evans, Audio Director, SML; Tiffany Sweat, Administrative Assistant, DBVI; Steve O'Keefe, Executive Director, SML

 

Staunton Media Lab Named DBVI Business of the Year

Coley Evans, SML Audio Director, Named Employee of the Year

Statewide Recognition for Employing the Blind and Vision Impaired

For Immediate Release
Monday, October 10, 2016

The Staunton Media Lab, a media arts program for the deaf, blind and uniquely able, was named DBVI Business of the Year at a ceremony in Richmond on October 5th at the Azalea Avenue campus of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI).

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Book Review - Inside Deaf Culture by Carol Padden and Tom Humphries

Inside Deaf Culture Book Cover

Inside Deaf Culture

@2005 by Carol Padden & Tom Humphries

First Harvard University paperback edition 2006

Reviewed by Steve O'Keefe

Is being deaf being defective?

The obvious answer is no. A lack of hearing is not a disability. A lack of hearing in a culture defined by people who can hear is a hardship, not a disability. The loss of one's hearing can lead to disability. It can also lead to a blissful discovery of a world without sound and kinship with others who successfully navigate the silent life.

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The Role of 3D Printing in Assistive Tech

graphical printer in 3d

The possibilities in 3D-printed assistive technology are growing, mostly due to a few think tanks, effective nonprofits, individuals with a cause and their successful crowdsourcing initiatives; and the fact that the world population is aging rapidly. A lot of this tech benefits people with limited motor function, but also the visually and hearing-impaired, as well as the elderly.

According to one Stanford study, “Exploring Markets for Assistive Technologies for the Elderly,” the world population “will age dramatically by 2050 — a problem especially for Japan, Europe and the U.S. Large elderly populations will place a growing strain on human caregivers as well as health and social systems.”

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How Can You Help?

Volunteer.  We need you! Do you know sign language? Do you know Braille? Do you know English? Do you have language? Then SML needs you! Call us at 540-324-7023, or email

A Wish Goes A Long Way

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Staunton Media Lab - Copyright 2017