Superb Idea: Vibrating-Braille Touchscreen Phones For the Blind

A team at the University of Tampere in Finland is developing the technology to make bring a kind of vibrating Braille to touchscreen-phones for...

A team at the University of Tampere in Finland is developing the technology to make bring a kind of vibrating Braille to touchscreen-phones for the blind. It's the latest techy development in a growing number of improvements being made to devices we non-blind know and love. Perhaps you, like my mom, will say "I would think that already existed." But you'd be wrong. Not totally surprisingly, the coolest new gadgets-outfitted with the coolest new technology-aren't always quickly adapted for the blind. But since the touch-screen-everything craze is just starting to completely take over our lives, it's encouraging that an adapted version is in the works.What about other covetables? The newest iPod Nano has been made more accessible with voice prompts-though it took a little longer than some would have liked. (Interesting thread on that from a few years back here and here.) Meanwhile, the iPhone hasn't been made blind-friendly by Apple just yet, which lots of people are pissed about. But as you might have read, another company is working on a tactile case to surround the thing and make it more accessible. (For the record: It's worth giving Apple its kudos for other improvements the company has made on some of its other products.)This topic raises uncomfortable questions about whose responsibility it is to make products accessible to anyone willing to pay for them. Should companies have to make all their new stuff accessible to the blind? What do you think?Image via
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Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

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For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

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Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

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The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

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