The Lighthouse for the Blind and visually impaired of San Francisco has announced its endorsement of and large monetary donation to the DictationBridge project, an ad hoc group of individuals assembled to develop a piece of software that blind and otherwise disabled people can use to better employ dictation software like Windows Speech Recognition (WSR) and the Dragon products from Nuance Communications.
“The overwhelming majority of blind people worldwide cannot afford expensive and unstable solutions when they need to use dictation and a screen reader,” says Brian Bashin, CEO of the San Francisco based Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He continues, “The Lighthouse believes it has a moral obligation to support the access needs of blind and visually-impaired people wherever they live. We applaud the creativity of the DictationBridge team to address this need and are happy to be part of their success.”
DictationBridge is raising $20,000 to develop software that permits blind people who want to use speech recognition technologies the ability to do so effectively, efficiently and in an incredibly cost effective manner. DictationBridge, if used with the NVDA screen reader and the built-in Windows Speech Recognition, will provide a solution that comes at no cost to the end users who will enjoy it in the future. In brief, DictationBridge sits between the speech recognition technologies from either Microsoft or Nuance and communicates with the user’s screen reader to permit seamless use of both technologies. To learn much more about the DictationBridge project, please visit the project web site.
Dictation: A Requirement For Many
Most computer users, especially when generating a lot of text, do so using a keyboard. For some people, including many blind people, using a keyboard, due to an additional disability can be tremendously painful and, in some cases, entirely impossible. DictationBridge will provide blind users of the three most popular Windows screen readers (NVDA, Window-Eyes and JAWS) with the ability to perform nearly every task they care to accomplish using voice commands and dictation. Thus, the veteran who came home from the battlefield blind and without hands will be able to use his computer effectively; the blind software engineer suffering from repetitive stress injuries (RSI) will be able to continue doing her job without experiencing terrible pain; the blind person with cerebral palsy will be able to use his computer to communicate with his online friends around the world. DictationBridge, as it uses a free software model, will be free and available at no cost to end users forever so a blind person can get themselves a $100 laptop in a flea market in an emerging nation and with NVDA and DictationBridge be able to use speech recognition at a cost they can easily afford.
DictationBridge and The Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually-Impaired Relationship
A few months before the DictationBridge team launched its crowdfunding campaign, Lucy Greco, DB project spokesperson, met with Josh Nealy. He invited her to present on the project at Lighthouse Labs, a tech think-tank operated by the Lighthouse for the Blind since 2011. The Lighthouse Labs audience was receptive and helped the team get the project launched. Thus, the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually-Impaired of San Francisco has been involved helping the DB team recruit its membership and in promoting the effort beginning before the campaign even started. In fact, two important members of the DictationBridge team, Lucy herself and Erin Lauridsen, have been long time members of Lighthouse Labs and are frequent attendees at the events it puts on.
The Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually-Impaired in San Francisco is the epicenter of the accessibility community in the Bay Area. “We on the DictationBridge team are proud to have the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually-Impaired on our team,” says Lucy Greco. “We hope this is a first in what will become a series of projects like this moving into the future.
A Little Disambiguation
The word “lighthouse” is used in the names of a large number of organizations serving people with vision impairment. While this is not obvious to the casual observer, no two of the organizations using “lighthouse” in their name are actually related in any way. Thus, this endorsement comes from The Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually-Impaired of San Francisco and may not reflect the opinions of other organizations serving the blind with “lighthouse” in their names.