NPR to Receive Vision Free Award at CES

January 6, 2009

Las Vegas - Jan 6, 2008 - At the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, NPR will receive a Vision Free Award, presented by Stevie Wonder, for its work in accessible digital radio and broadcast services for the sensory impaired. Wonder will host the Vision Free Awards reception on Jan. 9.

Other companies receiving the recognition include

  • Accenda for Ipod voice-control and Surfboard universal remote
  • Blue Ant V1 voice control headset for audio coaching built-into the headset
  • Dice Electronics for making the first accessible digital radio reading service receiver
  • NDS for the conditional access technology that supports the copyright exemption for reading service content
  • Sensory, manufacturer of the voice chips in several products
  • for completely verbal thermostats
  • Elecraft K3 talking ham transceiver
  • Apple for the Ipod Nano for speech enabled from Itunes
  • Monster Cable Products for accessible product features
  • for a web interface and enabling audible books on several devices for the blind
  • Olympus DS-61 for off-the-shelf digital recorder with speech prompts
  • Google for an accessible website and its work on access technology
  • A&D Engineering for developing a talking blood pressure monitor

    NPR is bringing captioned, Braille, and blackboard radios, as well as a new radio reading service receiver to electronics manufacturers. The new technologies come after extensive research by NPR Labs.

    NPR Labs is seeking partnerships with manufacturers to develop the receivers that would serve millions of deaf, hard of hearing and blind people worldwide, as well as people who are located in remote communities needing access to schools. NPR plans to award funds for research and development prototyping that would bring these cutting edge radios into production and into the hands of the consumers within two to five years.

    Captioned Radio leverages HD Radio technology and uses a built-in screen display on specially equipped receivers to allow deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences to see live radio content simultaneously with the broadcast.

    Braille Radio opens the live radio experience to people who are cannot see or hear. It builds upon captioned radio technology by taking the speech to text information and translating it into Braille through an add-on electronic Braille device that looks like a small keyboard. NPR is partnering with the Helen Keller National Center to further advance the features of this new radio technology, breaking down barriers for those without sight or hearing.

    Radio Reading Services are special radio side channels that offer spoken text from daily print publications through specially designated radio channels. The new design will use an HD Radio format that provides better sound quality and user-friendly features like voice prompts and audio cues that make it easier for the visually disabled to activate the service once they've purchased a new generation of HD Radio. One prototype exists currently designed by Dice Electronics that may be available as early as 2009.

    Blackboard Radio relies on a Radio Data System (RDS) transmission to connect classrooms with students who are located in remote regions without access to schools. It will also assist students who are not able to leave their environment to attend class. These electronic chalkboards, now gaining popularity in American schools, would be configured to interconnect with the Blackboard Radio and transmit the screen display in real time. The Blackboard Radio display design is expected to mirror a digital photo frame in size, look and feel. This would allow for the student to see on his display screen what the teacher is writing on the electronic chalkboard in the classroom. The teacher's spoken voice is heard simultaneously via a radio subcarrier.

  • Receive regular news and technology updates. Sign up for our free newsletter here.