DeafBlind Communicator Connects Deaf-Blind People with the World:
Even one who is deaf and blind can communicate effectively with friends, family members, bus drivers, waiters, and virtually anyone they need to speak with.
The DeafBlind Communicator (DBC) from HumanWare unites electronic braille and texting technologies in one portable device to enable deaf-blind persons to connect with others.
DeafBlind Communicator Provides Braille-to-Text Translation:
The DBC consists of two components: a DB BrailleNote and a DB cell phone with a visual display and QWERTY keyboard. Special deaf-blind software is installed in both units, which communicate wirelessly via Bluetooth.
These units facilitate face-to-face communication by providing real-time text-to-braille translation. Special BrailleNote software enables the DBC to operate as a text telephone (TTY) when connected to a landline. Adding a SIM card and texting plan enables users to send and receive text messages via cell phone.
DeafBlind Communicator's Three Communications Modes:
1. Face-to-face Communication
A simple BrailleNote menu enables users to talk with virtually any sighted person. The user starts by handing that person the DB phone, which displays the message, "Hi, I'm blind and I can't hear. To communicate with me, type a message on this keyboard and press return." The sighted person's typed response is translated into braille and displayed on the DB-BrailleNote. The user's braille responses are displayed as text on the phone screen.
2. Communication with Other BrailleNote and DBC Users
The DB-BrailleNote software enables the device to function as a TTY phone. From the chat menu, users enter a TTY phone or relay service number, which they can store in an address book or use in placing an immediate call. The DBC also has a built-in answering machine and can be used to communicate with other DBC and BrailleNote mPower users.
3. SMS Cell Phone Texting
A SIM card purchased from a wireless provider installed in the DB-Phone enables DBC users to send text messages. Bluetooth connectivity lets callers bypass the phone and control communication from the BrailleNote.
The DBC uses a condensed form of KeySoft, BrailleNote mPower's user interface that features simple menus and navigation and context-sensitive help. Activating mPower enables more sophisticated users to access additional applications such as word processing, email, a planner, web browser, and book reader.
HumanWare developed the DBC with the Washington State Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) and with input from focus groups of deafblind and deaf persons.