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Breakthrough device empowers individuals who are blind to read

December 10, 2004

The Governor’s Innovator of the Year for Academia, the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC) at Arizona State University, is debuting its iCARE Reader at the Foundation for Blind Children this Friday. The iCARE Reader is a computing device that can be used by individuals who are blind, deaf-blind and visually-impaired to read printed text that is not easily accessible, such as magazines, restaurant menus and mail, in real time. In its current prototype, the iCARE Reader allows individuals to read a printed page when placed on a tabletop by photographing the page with a digitized camera and then converting the text into a synthesized voice. The iCARE Reader can read text from top to bottom; skip sections by word, sentence, line, or paragraph; and “highlight” a section to playback later for review. This device and the research behind it provides an opportunity for individuals who are blind to “read” any printed word of their choice.

“We have had a very exciting response from the students, who are blind, here at ASU who’ve had the opportunity to test and use the prototype here in the CUbiC lab,” said Terri Hedgpeth, disability research specialist at CUbiC. “And we are very happy to be able to actually deploy this prototype so that people in the community will have an opportunity to try out the iCARE Reader for themselves.”

CUbiC’s goal is to make every piece of printed information, currently only available to sighted persons, also accessible to individuals with all levels of visual impairment from preschool age to the elderly. With this Reader prototype, CUbiC is one step closer to that goal.

“I’m delighted to be able to deliver on our promise of deploying the iCARE Reader in the community,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of CUbiC and chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

About the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing

CUbiC is a center within the Institute for Computing and Information Sciences and Engineering (InCISE), a collaboration of interdisciplinary research groups at ASU that shares expertise in computing and informatics. The mission of CUbiC is to design and develop perceptive computers that are environmentally aware to serve people’s needs and enrich their lives. CUbiC’s flagship project is ICARE. For more information on CUbiC’s research, visit their website at, or visit the InCISE website at .

About the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering

The Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering provides a transformative educational experience for engineering, computer science and construction students, giving them the knowledge and skills they need for success in a technically oriented career. The school also engages in use-inspired research in a multidisciplinary setting, creating knowledge for the benefit of individuals, society and the environment. Through the creation of a highly educated, innovative workforce and the advancement of technical knowledge, the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering drives sustainable growth and improved quality of life for the communities it serves.

About The Foundation for Blind Children

The Foundation for Blind Children is a private, nonprofit, United Way supported agency established in 1952. Its mission is to provide education, counseling, communication, rehabilitation and technology services to children and adults who are blind or visually impaired, helping them to lead lives of independence and dignity through mastery of their environment.

It is the only agency of its kind in the state of Arizona and the largest blind children’s organization in the United States.

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Fulton Schools

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