Karen and I took a short trip this morning down to the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona’s state convention. The hotel where it is being held is only a couple of miles from our house! We took a look at several exhibits and visited with a few people we know in the Federation. There may also be a new opportunity to promote accessibility coming from this visit. I think the short visit was worthwhile, and we will be returning this evening for a couple of hours to do some more socializing.
One of the neat opportunities we enjoyed was a live, hands on demonstration of the Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind (K-NFB) Reader. Though the device is, indeed, very portable, we were both disappointed at the lack of tactile controls on the PDA. All the keys on the front panel are close together and there is precious little tactile differentiation between four of the most important controls. Despite the use of mainstream technologies in both the camera and PDA components, we would expect the people integrating them to ensure the greatest possible usability of the final product. Our concerns are that people with nerve damage and those who are novice technology users may have significant difficulty locating and pressing the keys on the front of the PDA. The representative suggested the user might add these tactile features, but I feel this is an unreasonable burden posed by an assistive technology product of this nature. As always, your thoughts are appreciated.