Multimodalities for Visual and Hearing Impaired

In the United States, there are 8 million blind people and 80 million who are visually impaired. The current paradigm of electronic communication is visual and conducted through the use of monitors and keyboards. It will be important for NBIC technologists to address the need for multimodal platforms to communicate with, motivate, and utilize this population group. Examples of different modes of communication include talking environments and 3-D touch screens to enable access to the Internet.

While convergent technologies will benefit disabled persons, they in turn will contribute greatly to the development of the technology, thereby benefiting all people. In recognition of this fact, disabled scientists and engineers should be included in research and design teams. As NBIC blurs the boundaries of normal and abnormal, ethical and unethical, it will be important to include disabled members and advocates on advisory committees at all levels. This will include the private sector, academia, government, and international committees.

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