Universal Design, Technology, and Blind Users

T. V. Raman of Google, who is a pioneer in customizing technology for blind users, is sittting at a computer desk wearing wireless headphones and typing on a keyboard. His guide dog lies attentively on the carpetted floor behind him. Raman’s PC reads text aloud at triple normal speed. Photo by Peter DaSilva for the New York Times.

Published: January 3, 2009

T. V. RAMAN was a bookish child who developed a love of math and puzzles at an early age. That passion didn’t change after glaucoma took his eyesight at the age of 14. What changed is the role that technology — and his own innovations — played in helping him pursue his interests.

A native of India, Mr. Raman went from relying on volunteers to read him textbooks at a top technical university there to leading a largely autonomous life in Silicon Valley, where he is a highly respected computer scientist and an engineer at Google.

Along the way, Mr. Raman built a series of tools to help him take advantage of objects or technologies that were not designed with blind users in mind. They ranged from a Rubik’s Cube covered in Braille to a software program that can take complex mathematical formulas and read them aloud, which became the subject of his Ph.D. dissertation at Cornell. He also built a version of Google’s search service tailored for blind users.

Read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/business/04blind.html?th&emc=th


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