Thursday, August 16, 2012

Robotic Suit Helps Poeple with Disabilities Walk Again

Ekso Bionics on August 9 announced that it has begun shipping an upgraded version of Ekso™, the bionic suit that powers people with spinal cord injuries and pathologies up to get them standing up and walking again. Each Ekso now comes equipped with three new walking modes for progressive rehabilitation options, in addition to EksoPulse™, a wireless networked usage monitor.

Ekso, the battery-powered robot suit.
Ekso, the battery-powered robot suit.
Ekso is a ready-to-wear, battery-powered bionic suit – or exoskeleton – that is strapped over the user’s clothing.

The device transfers its 45 lb. load directly to the ground, so the patient doesn’t bear the weight. Each Ekso can be adjusted in a few minutes to fit most people weighing 220 pounds or less, and between 5’2” and 6’2”, with at least partial upper body strength. The patient provides the balance and proper body positioning, and Ekso facilitates walking over ground with reciprocal gait.

“With this upgrade, clinicians using Ekso can now empower their patients even more by teaching them to control the suit autonomously, thereby giving them greater independence,” said Eythor Bender, Ekso Bionics’ CEO.

“As the patient gains confidence and familiarity with walking, Ekso now permits them to graduate to a next level, and then another,” explained Darrell Musick, clinical director at Ekso Bionics. “This comfortable experience-based progression allows for sequentially- increased freedom and better control. The patients love it.”

Ekso Bionics – headquartered in Richmond, California with offices in London, UK – is a designer and maker of bionic suits.

Source: GAATES

Adobe Released New Standard for PDF Accessibility

Adobe releases new standard for PDF accessibility after many years of work on August 7, 2012 publication of ISO Standard 14289-1, better known as PDF/UA, marks one of the most significant developments in the evolution of the popular and widely used Portable Document Format (PDF).
Adobe logo
The publication and availability of PDF/UA will encourage the production of PDF files that are more consistently accessible to persons with disabilities.

Initially referred to as PDF/Access in 2004 by the AIIM standards committee, PDF/UA was conceived in response to the proliferation of PDF documents that were valid according to the PDF specification, but were insufficiently accessible to persons with disabilities. To meet the needs of the widest possible audience, the producers and viewers of PDF content needed a common standard.

The main PDF standard, ISO 32000, already defines the format’s accessibility features. What PDF/UA does is to clarify and demonstrate how those features should be used, for both producing and consuming PDF documents.Also, any features which are allowed in ISO 32000 but which inhibit accessibility are prohibited in PDF/UA.

It’s important to note that PDF/UA is neither a spec to measure PDF content, like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), nor an everyday authoring guide. It focuses on giving developers of PDF authoring tools and viewers, as well as vendors of assistive technologies that support PDF, critical information on how to build and present PDF content more accessibly. The goal is to make accessible PDFs easy to author and use, however they are produced. While PDF/UA contains great information for authors on how to meet the needs of users with disabilities (and also to address most WCAG success criteria), much of that work should really be done by tools and read by assistive technology, so PDF/UA support will mean authors do less work and get more accessible content.

If you are interested in PDF accessibility and PDF/UA, here’s two suggestions for you to learn more:
  • View our training materials for Acrobat and PDF accessibility. These resources offer information about how to use Acrobat to produce or repair PDF files for accessibility. WCAG Techniques for PDF are also available and provide useful information for authors looking to meet WCAG 2.0.
  • Check out the PDF/UA standard. The document itself can be purchased directly from ISO (You don’t have to buy this standard if you just want to author accessible PDF files. However, you should encourage authoring tool makers, PDF viewer makers, and AT vendors to buy it, read it, and support it.)
 Source: Adobe, GAATES