How Do Business Schools Welcome and Include Students with Disabilities? | The Example of HEC Paris

How Do Business Schools Welcome and Include Students with Disabilities? | The Example of HEC Paris

Students training to be tomorrow's managers and entrepreneurs

How Do Business Schools Welcome and Include Students with Disabilities? | The Example of HEC Paris

Being ranked as one of the best business schools in the world, HEC Paris in France is committed to highlighting the diversity of its students, including students with disabilities. Thanks to Cécile Marty’s insight, disability referent at HEC Paris, we can have a look at all the actions put in place by this business school all along the academic careers of students and faculty staff. These actions aim at meeting the identified needs of students with disabilities and at the same time at training tomorrow’s leaders to favor diversity and inclusion in our society.

 

HEC Paris is a prestigious and world famous business school. Can you tell us about its politics towards students with disabilities?

The Disability Program for Learners for students with disabilities was officially launched in 2019. But a lot of initiatives were already in place on campus which means that we’ve mostly worked in coherence with students, candidates and graduates with disabilities concerning our actions.

Therefore, we decided to characterize this program according to students with disabilities’ classic academic careers, regardless of the chosen curriculum: before, during and after studying at our business school. (You can find more details on the Disability Program for Learners.)

Simultaneously, this issue being connected to medical secrecy, we’ve undertaken a necessary GDPR compliance (General Data Protection Regulation) launching an external communication campaign, a dedicated and intern web page and an Intranet page. 

The strong point of our actions focuses on raising disability awareness in our campus community. In order to succeed, we work closely with the disability referent dedicated to HEC Paris’ faculty staff and the student association on disability. We decided to concentrate on microawareness among our administrative body which deals with students, whether it concerns our admissions or academic affairs offices. The implicit idea is to enable students or candidates to feel comfortable enough to open a dialogue with the faculty member of their choosing. This whole network enables me, with the students’ consent, to start a constructive dialogue on the necessary pedagogical or extracurricular on-campus accommodations. Our medical center also plays a huge part in our program thanks to our doctors and nurses. They do a great job in conveying downward information to students in a difficult situation and upward information to the disability referents in order to make the adequate support easier.

More wide-ranging awareness actions also took place and will continue to do so in a near future in order to alert our students, tomorrow’s managers, on disability and inclusion. The goal is to provide them with the keys of comprehension and integration regarding disability.

 

Let’s say I have a disability, what would my course look like before and after my admission at HEC Paris?

The dedicated web page on our disability program enables any potential candidate to find practical information on the type of support we provide plus a phone number or an email address to start a personal and confidential dialogue with us. This way, we regularly receive candidates to talk about their application and lift the psychological barriers regarding their disability. We also decided not to ask questions on the potential situations of disabilities on our application platforms. Besides, information on disability profiles gathered by our BCE (Banque Commune d’Épreuves) remains confidential. Every candidate can have an open dialogue about the different disability profiles either on the platforms open to students on which we published practical and operational information or via the intermediary of our admissions offices. 

 

Would I benefit from any personalized support according to my disability profile?

We cannot speak in terms of personalized support. However, we provide each student with disabilities with the opportunity to confidentially and individually meet with a disability referent at the beginning of the academic year. This first meeting permits to establish a constructive dialogue. Different measures can be implemented (more time for exams, adapted pedagogical documents, a sign language interpreter, scholarships…) and new appointments can take place during the year depending on everybody’s needs and wishes. Throughout the year, we receive propositions regarding disabilities from our partners. All these propositions are systematically communicated to the students who declare to have a disability.

 

HEC Paris has an international branch. Is the course for students with disabilities the same wherever they study?

Indeed, HEC Paris has a branch in Doha, Qatar. The disability program also applies to students with disabilities who attend there. We can provide remote support.

 

What barriers do you encounter regarding disability on campus?

Whatever the context may be, it’s still difficult to talk about disability. We encounter the usual barriers. I still hear (although it’s less frequent) “But there aren’t any students with disabilities on campus.” The educational dimension is more important than never and I constantly remind people that only 2% of people with disabilities use wheelchairs and that 80% of the declared disabilities are not visible. We also encounter psychological barriers from potential candidates who fear that their disability will prevent them from being admitted to our business school. I keep reminding them that discrimination towards people with disabilities is punished by law and that all the energy they spend in counterbalancing the difficulties they meet regarding their disability actually represents a major asset for their application.

 

What’s your wish for 2021 and the following years to come?

I wish for this program to grow and lift all barriers. I wish an honest and open dialogue was put in place to make the academic careers of students with disabilities, both at HEC Paris and at all academic institutions, easier. I also wish for disability awareness on campuses to improve so that all students can turn into socially responsible managers and for students with disabilities to be more easily included in the professional world.

_________________________________

About HEC Paris

Specializing in education and research in management sciences, HEC Paris offers a complete and unique range of academic programs for the leaders of tomorrow: the Grande Ecole program, Specialized Masters and MSc, Summer School programs, the MBA, Executive MBA and TRIUM Global Executive MBA programs, the Ph.D. program and a wide range of programs for executives and managers.

Founded in 1881 by the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry, HEC Paris has a full-time faculty of 140 professors, 4,500 students and 8,000 managers in executive education programs every year.  

Read our article The Trailblazers of College Accessibility in the United States for more examples  of solutions on including students with disabilities.

Photo credits: © Aurélia Blanc

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A group of students sitting on the grass at HEC Paris

The strong point of our actions focuses on raising disability awareness in our campus community. In order to succeed, we work closely with the disability referent dedicated to HEC Paris’ faculty staff and the student association on disability.

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Christine Pestel

Communications Manager

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The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal AccessibilityWith 1.36 million passengers per day, the Montreal metro is the first network in Canada and the third in North America behind New York City and Mexico City. The network, which was inaugurated on October 14, 1966...

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13 Must-Have Apps for Blind or Visually Impaired People in 2020

13 Must-Have Apps for Blind or Visually Impaired People in 2020

13 Must-Have Apps for Blind or Visually Impaired People in 2020

 

For people with a visual impairment, accessing simple information can sometimes be difficult. How can a nonsighted person get their bearings and choose the best route to get to their destination? Or read a document that’s not available in braille? Answer an email from a co-worker? Fortunately, technology keeps innovating: a lot of apps are specifically designed to help blind or visually impaired people in their everyday lives.

Indeed, 89% of them have a smartphone, a tool that truly revolutionizes their lives! If they can gain more autonomy today it’s thanks to features that are more advanced and accessible to the general public or thanks to apps that are specially designed for them. Blind or visually impaired people who find it restrictive and stressing to get around can now be more serene!

Let’s explore these apps together!

VoiceOver

VoiceOver is a screen reader that’s integrated into iPhones that, as its name indicates, enunciates emails or other textual messages aloud. It’s up to the user to choose the speaking rate and the volume.

Not to forget that braille also remains an option for those who have a braille keyboard to connect to the smartphone or who just want to write in braille directly on the screen of their iPhone.

VoiceOver also describes all the elements on the screen such as apps icons, the battery level and even in part images thanks to artificial intelligence. All the information is thus accessible!

TalkBack

Android smartphones also have a similar screen reader with TalkBack. It follows the same guideline as for iPhones: reading textual elements aloud, exploring the screen, using braille with BrailleBack… Everything is set for an optimal and smooth navigation!

Siri

Directly integrated into iPhones, Siri is an easy-to-use vocal assistant. For blind or visually impaired people, for whom finding and clicking on the right button can be difficult, using a voice control enables them to save time!

They just need to ask Siri to call a contact, to send a dictated text message and everything is therefore easier!

Google Assistant

Also activated by voice control, Google Assistant has the same functionality as Siri. The user totally controls their smartphone according to their needs: sending an email, setting up an alarm, managing their schedule…

Available on both Android and iOS

Google Maps

It’s one of the most popular GPS navigation apps. Being able to anticipate their route is essential for blind and visually impaired people. And this also applies for other types of profiles in general since people with disabilities use 30% more the GPS on their smartphone than the rest of the population. (Find out all the facts and figures concerning their use of smartphones in our infographic.)

Google Maps enables users to have access to all the real-time traffic information which is ideal when choosing the right means of public transportation!

The app even provides a new feature called “Accessible Places” that enables users to even more apprehend their environment thanks to information concerning the seating plan of a restaurant, the exact location of a building entrance…

A precious help to serenely get around!

Available on both Android and iOS

Moovit

For those who are used to taking public transportation, this app lists all the possible means of transportation, their itineraries, their timetables and other information on real-time traffic.

The app even indicates the users the names of stops while on the bus, the tram or the subway. This proves to be essential for blind or visually impaired people when voice announcements aren’t activated.

Available on both Android and iOS

Microsoft Soundscape

Developed by Microsoft, this app is particularly innovative since it uses audio 3D technology to describe blind or visually impaired people their environment. 

Soundscape enables them to better apprehend their surroundings, to call out intersections and to find their bearings in the city with great facility. And all of that by having their smartphone in their pocket: their hands remain free for their white cane or their guide dog!

Available on iOS

Evelity

Developed by Okeenea Digital, this app is the first indoor wayfinding solution for people with a visual impairment to navigate in complex venues such as museums or universities! It works like a GPS.

Compatible with VoiceOver and TalkBack, Evelity provides audio instructions to users to guide them step by step. People with disabilities can easily find the reception desk or the classroom without needing to know the premises in advance.

Available on both Android and iOS

MyMoveo

We’re once again on the theme of mobility with MyMoveo developed by Okeenea Tech. This app enables blind or visually impaired users to activate connected Accessible Pedestrian Signals aBeacon to know when the pedestrian signal is green and thus safely cross the street.

Users can even use the app to activate the audio beacons NAVIGUEO+ HIFI which can locate points of interest such as the entrances of a public building or a subway station.

Available on both Android and iOS, an update is coming! 

Be My Eyes

An app with which users can ask the help of sighted users in order to match their clothes or to know the expiry date of a product. Thanks to an audio-video connexion, users can easily get in touch. 

Available on both Android and iOS

Aira

Aira works in the same way as Be My Eyes since it connects nonsighted people with sighted ones to help them in various tasks such as finding the gate of an airport.

What sets this app apart is that the sighted users, called agents, are specifically trained to assist blind or visually impaired users referred to as Explorers. 

Although the app can be downloaded for free, users are charged according to the different plans and services Aira provides. Depending on the formula they choose and their needs, the cost can thus be high.

Available on both Android and iOS

Seeing AI

A multipurpose app that permits to read and describe all types of documents placed under the smartphone camera such as banknotes or product barcodes.

Seeing AI even recognizes images, colors and faces and thus gives details on people’s emotions. 

Available on iOS

Lookout

Lookout is the equivalent app of Seeing AI on Android. The user just has to activate their smartphone camera so that Lookout can identify banknotes, objects… Thanks to its Quick Read Mode, the app skims through a text which is ideal when sorting the mail for example.

An app that simplifies the everyday tasks and saves time to its users!

Available on Android

 

We can see that blind or visually impaired people have within their reach numerous apps that improve their autonomy especially concerning their mobility.

If you want to know more about other profiles of people with disabilities and the apps they use in their everyday lives, you can read our articles:

9 Must-Have Apps for People with Physical Disabilities in 2020 

5 Must-Have Apps for Deaf or Hard of Hearing People in 2020

 

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The app Evelity is the first indoor wayfinding solution for people with a visual impairment to navigate in complex venues such as museums or universities! It works like a GPS.

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Carole Martinez

Content Manager junior

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The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal AccessibilityWith 1.36 million passengers per day, the Montreal metro is the first network in Canada and the third in North America behind New York City and Mexico City. The network, which was inaugurated on October 14, 1966...

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By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

9 Tips to Welcome a Person with an Intellectual Disability

9 Tips to Welcome a Person with an Intellectual Disability

9 Tips to Welcome a Person with an Intellectual Disability

 

You’re facing a person with an intellectual disability and you don’t know how to exchange with them? Everybody can feel uncomfortable seeing we don’t always know how to approach, or help if necessary, a person with disabilities. Whether you are a tourism professional who needs keys to welcome a person with an intellectual disability in your establishment or a curious citizen who wants advice in order to easily communicate with a colleague with an intellectual disability, these tips are made for you! 

 

What is intellectual disability?

Intellectual disability comes from a learning disability. Generally appearing from birth, it’s characterized by learning difficulties and an intellectual development that’s inferior to the population average. People with an intellectual disability have trouble thinking, conceptualizing, communicating and making decisions.

Trisomy 21 (or Down syndrome) is the most well known genetic disorder that leads to an intellectual disability but other syndromes exist such as Fragile X, Prader-Willi or Smith-Magenis…

Around 7 million people have intellectual disabilities in the United States. (Our article Disabled People in the World in 2019: Facts and Figures details all the figures about the types of disabilities.) How to easily communicate with them and make them feel welcome? 

1. Smile!

There’s nothing like a beautiful and sincere smile to put at ease your conversation partner! Keep in mind that we can draw a lot of emotions thanks to our facial expressions!

 

2. Stay natural

When facing a person with an intellectual disability, the best thing to do is to address them the same way you would anyone. Using a warm tone devoid of pity!

 

3. Do not infantilize your conversation partner

Remain civilized and respectful in all circumstances, even if their behavior can seem childish to you.

 

4. Be patient

Take your time to truly listen to the person in front of you and adopt a reassuring attitude. Let the person speak and react at their own pace. Also be patient when you inform or guide a person with an intellectual disability. 

 

5. Use a simple and clear language

Opting for a language devoid of technical and specialized terms or unnecessary details will help you get your message across.

 

6. Add other mediums to your communication

A written text, an image or even body language can be useful when the person in front of you has trouble understanding you or memorizing information.

 

7. Offer to help

Of course you can offer to help but don’t get offended if the answer is negative. A person with an intellectual disability can indeed be autonomous according to the situations and their capabilities so it’s best not to impose your help even though you have good intentions in the first place.

 

8. Do not take offense

Some behaviors or attitudes can seem strange to you but there’s no need to take offense.

 

9. Avoid clichés

Keep finding out about people with disabilities and how to behave around them. Our article 8 Clichés about Intellectual Disability can complete these tips.

 

Implementing a simple yet efficient signage system with colored icons and easy-to-understand words help facilitate the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in establishments open to the public. As you can see, it’s easy to make them feel welcome in any type of situation! 

 

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Take your time to truly listen to the person in front of you and adopt a reassuring attitude.

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Carole Martinez

Content Manager junior

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The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal AccessibilityWith 1.36 million passengers per day, the Montreal metro is the first network in Canada and the third in North America behind New York City and Mexico City. The network, which was inaugurated on October 14, 1966...

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The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

9 Must-Have Apps for People with Physical Disabilities in 2020

9 Must-Have Apps for People with Physical Disabilities in 2020

9 Must-Have Apps for People with Physical Disabilities in 2020

 

For people with physical disabilities, getting around in their everyday lives can be extremely difficult. Indeed, for wheelchair users a lot of obstacles can turn their trip into a nightmare like curbs that aren’t lowered or buildings with narrow entrances. They need to find business places, parking spots or even restrooms that are easily accessible for them. In the United States, there are approximately 2.7 million people who use a wheelchair. How can they navigate their way in the city and fully enjoy it?

Luckily, smartphones and apps in particular have made their lives better as it’s the case for deaf and hard of hearing people. Several apps are available that help them be more autonomous and more serene in their trips. Some were even created especially for people with poor dexterity or with reduced use of their upper limbs so that they can use their phones without any struggle. 

Let’s take a look at 9 free apps for people with mobility impairments that are entirely at their service!

Google Maps

One of the most used apps for GPS navigation is without doubt Google Maps. It offers street maps, street views, aerial photography and satellite imagery to visualize any place. It also gives information on traffic and on public transportation and plans your route according to the mode of travel (by foot, driving).

Thanks to the street views, the users can zoom in every part of a street to see if the curbs are lowered, an essential point for people in wheelchairs who want to get around in the city.

The app can be extremely helpful for wheelchair users with several features especially designed for them since it can show the exact location of the elevators and ramps that are laid in the city. They just need to select the “wheelchair accessible” option when they’re planning their route. 

If they want to use public transportation, Google Maps can even inform them on which modes of transport would best suit them.

The very new “accessible places” feature provides all the information concerning the layout of the premises wheelchair users need to know: entrance, parking spots, restrooms, seating arrangements… Whether they want to shop or eat at a restaurant, people with mobility impairment can easily find places accessible for them.

Available on both Android and iOS

 

Wheelmap

Another app that focuses on finding all the accessible places is Wheelmap. Not only does it map all the accessible places (restaurants, cafés, boutiques…) all over the world but it’s supplied by users. People with physical disabilities collect all the data necessary and transmit it to Wheelmap: they can upload images and leave comments. Thus sharing their experience with others who go through the same obstacles, they are in control of their environment. 

Wheelmap even gathers a community and organizes events for fellow users to join.

Plus, the app can be set in 32 languages. 

Available on both Android and iOS

AccessNow

A similar app to Wheelmap, AccessNow maps and locates several types of accessible places all around the world: restaurants, hotels, shops… The users can add information that can be rated by all.

Available on both Android and iOS

WheelMate

Focusing on locating only parking spots and restrooms, WheelMate also depends on information given by its users whether by adding new places or by rating them. 

More than 35 000 locations are mapped across 45 countries.

Available on both Android and iOS

FuelService

Although this app can only be used in the United Kingdom, it’s extremely innovative and helpful for disabled drivers to find a gas station with attendants who can help refueling their car. Thanks to this app, drivers who use wheelchairs can contact attendants to tell them they’re on their way. Attendants are then notified once the drivers arrive. The app also tells the drivers how many minutes they need to wait before being served.

Thus a task that can be challenging for a driver in a wheelchair can easily be done thanks to fuelService.

Available on both Android and iOS

 

IFTTT

Even though this app wasn’t designed for people with physical disabilities in particular, it can apply to them since its goal is to simplify the tasks of our everyday lives by connecting your different apps together. It even works with social networks.

Over 600 apps can be connected to IFTTT creating various combinations called “applets”. Thus, different tasks that people with poor dexterity struggle with can be automatically done such as set the home thermostat at the ideal temperature, read an email aloud, control everything at home with voice and Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant…

Setting all the necessary applets enables people with reduced dexterity to control every single task. They’re the ones who control everything thus making the app apply to their lives. 

Available on both Android and iOS

Google Assistant 

As previously mentioned, Google Assistant is activated by voice. People with reduced dexterity can use it to control their phones and ask them to call or text someone, send an email, set up alarms… 

Available on both Android and iOS

Google Voice Access

This app even goes further since it was especially created for people with reduced dexterity who can struggle to manipulate their phones. 

This accessibility service enables users to ask basic commands such as sending a text and address commands that directly involve what’s on the screen. The user doesn’t need to touch his phone to click or to scroll. Every task can be hands-free and easily operated by voice commands.

Available on Android

AssistiveTouch

A feature that can be set to help users to use their phones without having to use their fingers to access functions on their phones. 

Depending on their dexterity capacity, users can set AssistiveTouch to customize their actions. They can choose to do a single tap, a double tap or a long press. It’s even possible to create new gestures thus adapting more precisely the feature to the dexterity capacity of the user. The feature can record any movement the user wants to perform.

Available on both Android and iOS

Thanks to these apps and features, people with physical disabilities gain more autonomy and independence. Today technology rimes with accessibility for all. Clearly, it leaves no one behind and moves forward to meet the needs of everybody.

 

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Thanks to these apps and features, people with physical disabilities gain more autonomy and independence. Today technology rimes with accessibility for all.

writer

Carole Martinez

Digital Content Manager Junior

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

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The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal AccessibilityWith 1.36 million passengers per day, the Montreal metro is the first network in Canada and the third in North America behind New York City and Mexico City. The network, which was inaugurated on October 14, 1966...

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The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

Everything You Have Always Wanted to Know on Braille Mysterious Writing

Everything You Have Always Wanted to Know on Braille Mysterious Writing

Everything You Have Always Wanted to Know on Braille Mysterious Writing

 

On elevators, medicine boxes, descriptions in museums or door signs…, you’ve probably noticed those small raised dots. You already know they’re for blind people but do you know how they work? Let us guide you through it!

Braille, the writing and reading tactile system with raised dots used by visually impaired people, exists since 1829. Its inventor, Louis Braille, a French blind man, created this tactile alphabet in order to be able to read and write, thus gaining access to education like everybody else. Braille represents an essential tool for a visually impaired person to learn and consequently be included in society. Even though braille has evolved, the 1829 system still constitutes the reading basis for blind and visually impaired people. Let’s go back in time to discover its creation and its use in today’s society!

Systems used before Braille

As soon as the 17th century, it has been understood that the sense of touch for blind and visually impaired people was to be exploited to teach them how to read. The idea of touching embossed paper came from Italian Jesuit Francesco Lana de Terzi with its eponymous system in 1670. The Lana system was composed of lines and raised dots on thick paper based on a three-by-three grid containing the alphabet letters. One just needed to learn the specificities of this grid to learn this writing system.

In the following century, French man of letters Valentin Haüy made education for blind and visually impaired people really possible. He had special embossed and movable characters made so that students could touch and read what was under their fingers. This raised letters method was put into practice at the Royal Institution of Blind Children, now called the National Institute for the Young Blind, a school opened by Valentin Haüy in Paris in 1785. The Valentin Haüy Association that also emerged still continues to promote Braille.

Although the two previous systems were specifically designed to meet the needs of blind and visually impaired people, 1808-1809 code by French Charles Barbier de la Serre was first created for army officers so that they could write and transmit messages in the dark. Called “night writing”, this system was based on sounds and consisted of raised dots on a grid. In 1819, Barbier perfected it to present it at the Royal Institution of Blind Children.

Louis Braille, at the time a student of the school, perceived the system potential but also its limits since it didn’t take into account the words spelling but only their pronunciation. He decided to improve Barbier system himself seeing that Barbier didn’t agree with his suggestions. He then created a code still used today and lent it his name: Braille.

What is Braille?

Louis Braille kept the basic principles of Barbier system, that is to say the encoding and the raised dots, but reviewed two elements:

The number of dots went from 12 to 6.

⊗ He opted for the coding of Latin typographic signs (letters, punctuation, musical notes).

Where a non-visually impaired person sees an indecipherable, crypted and almost extra-terrestrial language, a visually impaired person perceives a distinct language, a code they decipher and master to read and to learn. We tend to forget it but Braille is indeed a code! Continuing with an encoding enables to keep a system that’s easy to learn: each character is set in a cell composed of raised dots. In a cell, the six dots are divided into two columns. The numbering of dots allows to know their position. Thus, each character has a very precise combination.

Braille is a universal language since it’s used by other Latin languages for basic letters but there are still elements that can differ according to the languages such as accented letters, symbols and punctuation signs.

Despite being a code, it still needs to render the meaning of the language used: consequently the meaning of the symbols isn’t the same according to the language. That is why Japanese, Korean and Cyrillic brailles have different particularities that set them aside from French Braille.  

Code developments

Gradually, the code has evolved and impacted other areas such as mathematics and music thus enabling blind and visually impaired people to develop skills and/or hobbies. Nevertheless, there are limits to mathematics Braille. Mathematics formulas can indeed be very long once transcribed into Braille and therefore complex to comprehend.

Seeing that the standard Braille and its 6 dots only permits having 64 combinations, some characters such as numbers or capital letters have to be coded onto 2 characters. When Braille moved to IT, the Braille cell thus gained 2 dots. Thanks to this IT Braille encoded on 8 dots, 256 combinations are then possible, which enables to transcribe all the new symbols of the digital era such as the at symbol into just one character.

A system that looks to the future

Today, visually impaired people can easily be connected to the Web and thus to the entire world same as any Internet user. Technology has evolved and serves them. It’s not just smartphones that enable them to gain a real autonomy. Thanks to the advanced progress, blind and visually impaired people can:

⊗ Read any document on the net thanks to a Braille transcription software. The text is automatically transcribed into Braille and can even be printed in Braille thanks to a special printer called braille embosser.

⊗ Access scanned Braille documents thanks to the National Library Service (NLS) and other digital libraries. 

Use a refreshable Braille display (or Braille terminal) on which a Braille keyboard is embedded. The dots can raise or lower depending on the characters. The onscreen text can directly be translated unto the refreshable Braille display.

Set up a speech synthesizer that reads aloud the onscreen text.

 ⊗ Use a screen reader software that transforms the onscreen text into a Braille page or into a read aloud text.

Looking into the history of Braille and its evolution, it’s easy to realize that Louis Braille has truly changed millions of people lives giving them access to an education, a fundamental right. He literally gave them the keys, well the code, so that they can live in a more inclusive world with real autonomy. His code enables blind and visually impaired people to read, write and learn just like any citizen and is used today to comply with the demands of the digital world. From 1829 to 2020, just a few clicks are enough…

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Braille represents an essential tool for a visually impaired person to learn and consequently be included in society. Even though braille has evolved, the 1829 system still constitutes the reading basis for blind and visually impaired people.

writer

Carole Martinez

Digital Content Manager Junior

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

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The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal AccessibilityWith 1.36 million passengers per day, the Montreal metro is the first network in Canada and the third in North America behind New York City and Mexico City. The network, which was inaugurated on October 14, 1966...

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powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

5 must-have apps for deaf and hard of hearing people in 2020

5 must-have apps for deaf and hard of hearing people in 2020

5 Must-Have Apps for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People in 2020

 

Technological breakthroughs can do miracles. For the 466 million people worldwide having disabling hearing loss (WHO), smartphones have become an essential tool to facilitate social interaction due to speech perception.

Today 95% of deaf and hard of hearing people use a smartphone on a daily basis in developed countries. Plenty of applications contribute to eliminate the main communication-related obstacles that hamper the daily lives of millions of deaf and hard of hearing people around the world.

But to get you started, we have selected for you the 5 best apps of 2020 to help your visitors with hearing impairment get in touch with you, communicate once there and benefit from the services available at your place. This non-exhaustive list is no substitute for potential devices already available at your venue such as hearing loops but rather optional supplements to better accommodate deaf or hard of hearing people in your establishment or during concertations meetings.

Smartphone accessibility settings

 

Before rushing to Google Play or the App Store, it is important to check with the user that the accessibility settings to their smartphone are well configured. Good settings are more effective than an application that will overload the device.

Phone functionalities are often underused due to the lack of communication by operating systems and their constant evolution. They are however simple to activate and highly useful. Here are the ones you need to communicate to your staff if necessary this year.

First, find out about the phone model. Does the person have an iPhone? For iPhone 5 or later users, the phone includes several basic accessibility options such as:

⊗ Volume control

⊗ Live Listen for the hearing-impaired in order to perceive more clearly the interlocutor during a conversation, even if the person is on the other side of the room or the environment is noisy. Audio can be sent to compatible Made for iPhone hearing aids, AirPods or Powerbeats.

⊗ Mono audio for people with hearing loss in one ear. Stereo recordings have separate audio information in each ear. Mono audio lets you hear the same information in both ears.

⊗ The configuration of RTT and TTY protocols to make calls as live text.

⊗ Visible and vibration alerts to avoid missing calls, messages and notifications with the possibility of choosing several vibration options as well as a flashlight.

⊗ Siri by typing the desired question.

 

Shortcuts can be set to simplify access to features using a triple-click. Invite users to make the last update of their device to have access to the latest features.

 

For Android phones, the native functionalities are fewer but are supplemented by downloadable applications. To date, smartphones running Android operating system have the following accessibility features for the deaf and hard of hearing:

⊗ Instant transcription to follow a live conversation in over 70 languages ​​and participate in the conversation quickly thanks to speech synthesis.

⊗ Subtitles with the possibility to choose the preferences of the subtitles to use (language, text and style).

⊗ Instant Captions: This feature is automatic for all multimedia content currently playing on Google Pixel devices only.

⊗ Hearing aid compatibility that lets you pair hearing aids with an Android device to hear more clearly.

⊗ Real-time text during calls (RTT) that works with TTY. As on the iPhone, this option offers the possibility of typing text to communicate live during a phone call.

5 essential apps for deaf and hard of hearing people

 

Once the phone is set up correctly, it is time to focus on installing applications according to usage. We have selected for you 6 free and useful applications to gain accessibility in 2020.

 

  1. Ava 

An instant transcription app that transcribes in live the words of a group of people. Each participant installs the application on its smartphone and using the microphone the conversations are transcribed. This allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to distinctly follow a conversation within a group without having to lip-read.

Useful for iPhone users who don’t have access to the famous instant transcription native functionality from Google during your consultation meetings.

Available on iOS and Android.

 

  1. RogerVoice 

 

The world famous French application created in 2013 by Olivier Jeannel offers two options.

The first is the live transcription of telephone conversations in more than 100 languages as well as the possibility of answering by voice synthesis. People who are deaf and those who have hearing loss, or someone who has difficulty speaking can use the phone to have a conversation with someone, and receive a typed text of what the other person is saying.

The application goes further by offering to make calls thanks to the help of qualified LSF Interpreters graduates and Graduated LPC coders (in France only). A free version offers up to one hour of call by video interpreter assistance. 

Useful for deaf or hard of hearing people who want to request information about your venue from a distance.

Available on iOS and Android.

 

  1. Sound Amplifier

The Sound Amplifier app for Android is the equivalent of the Live Listen option included in basic iPhone settings. However, it offers more advanced functions in terms of sound volume adjustments and eliminates background noise.

The Sound Amplifier app improves the audio quality of Android devices when using headphones, to provide a more comfortable and natural listening experience. The Sound Amplifier app enhances and amplifies sounds from the real world.

This application can be very useful if your venue has a poor sound environment.

Available on Android. Note that the Sound Amplifier application is part of the native settings of Google Pixel phones.

 

  1. TapSOS

The British app Tap SOS allows deaf and hard of hearing person to connect with emergency services in a nonverbal way. By creating a profile that includes personal medical history emergency responders can give the best care in the event of an emergency. 

When connecting with an emergency service, the app pinpoints the exact location and send all the data stored in the user’s profile in seconds.

The app won the 2018 Digital Health Award as the best effective method for all smartphone users to contact the emergency services in situation of distress.

Available on iOS and Android.

  1. Subtitle Viewer

Using the smartphones’ microphones, the Subtitle Viewer application offers the possibility of viewing subtitles in different languages ​​live on the user’s phone. The subtitles are displayed in real time and the text passage is highlighted.

The application synchronizes with television and movies at the cinema. Other similar applications are available on the market and can accommodate hearing impaired people in your cinemas if the movie screenings are not captioned.

Available on iOS and Android.

 

As you can see, smartphones can be great tools within reach to help people live well with hearing loss. Whether they enhance access to labour market, culture, medical care and public services, today’s technology encourages social bonds between deaf and hard of hearing people and the rest of the population even it does not replace human contact.

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Phone functionalities are often underused due to the lack of communication by operating systems and their constant evolution. They are however simple to activate and highly useful.

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Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

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