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August 12, 2005

Talking Stuff 1

A press release tells me that the federal Dept. of Transportation has just funded a multi-year project to evaluate "remote infrared audible signage" -- or RIAS.

The technology operates by the installation of infrared light transmitters that broadcast repeating, human voice messages, providing directional, wayfinding information that can be heard by visually, cognitively, or learning disabled users through small, hand-held receivers.

You may have heard of this as Talking Signs. The company that produces them is out of Baton Rouge, LA -- Talking Signs, Inc. And the huge Mitsubishi's evidently involved, too.
I'm told by an access activist in California that San Francisco "was the first public entity to install" the Talking Signs system. The same email tells me that the city "received an award from the Federal Highway Administration for helping with the development of Talking Signs."
Even had the press release not told me, I knew that the Talking Signs technology was developed by folks at Smith Kettlewell, including the man who kept pressing me to start this blog -- William Loughborough (also look here). Loughborough is also part of the w3c, and he is always on about the power of the internet, and the need for it to be accessible. He's right, of course, about both things.
A story in the Longmont, Colorado, Daily Times-Call which tells the problems at least one blind resident has with the currently-in-use audible crossing signals gives us a good understanding as to why the Talking Signs system is superior for "wayfinding," as it's called. What's especially good about the system is that it works not just for blind folks but for folks who can't read, too. That's a theme I'm going to be singing some verses of as we go along with this blog, so watch for it. (I'll also be saying something about the story's headline: "Blind Crossings.")
The Longmont members of the American Council of the Blind are evidently trying to get the city to install the Talking Signs technology. I don't really know how widespread Talking Signs are yet. I don't think we have it here; I'm going to check, though. Maybe I can do some urging of the powers-that-be.
COMMENT-BODY:Who could have imagined that kind of technology! Amazing...I'm flabbergasted!

And a hardy thank you to Mr. William Loughborough for his inovative research and all he has done. Also for talking you into doing this blog.

Even signed up for some research articles. There's alot of information to learn and to be had.

I'll be watching...

::::awestruck at the technology:::

What will they think of next?

Posted by mjohnson at August 12, 2005 10:45 AM