Technologies improve information accessibility for China’s disabled

Gao Peiyou, a visually-impaired man, experiences smart devices in a study at China’s first smart home experience store for persons with disabilities, Dec. 3. (Photo by Weng Qiyu/People’s Daily Online)

“Turn on the table lamp,” as Gao Peiyou, a visually-impaired man, gives the command to a smart eye-care table lamp at China’s first smart home experience store for persons with disabilities in Beijing’s China Braille Library.

Surprised by the smart device, Gao told People’s Daily Online that various technologies have made his life easier over the past few years.

“Since I began to use smart home products last year, I have bought dozens of devices. Most of them have sensors and can directly tell things like the humidity and temperature in the house, making the living environment more comfortable,” he said.

Smart devices like these help the visually-impaired enjoy a smarter, more convenient life.

China is moving faster to improve information accessibility and close the digital divide, providing a good digital living environment for those with disabilities.

The country has achieved good results in improving information accessibility, said Wang Li, a senior engineer at the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, at a seminar held on Dec. 3, coinciding with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

More than 20 provinces and cities have introduced policies to provide more preferential rates for the disabled, and over 800 units have joined in efforts to enable them to access information on websites, Wang noted.

He Chuan, vice president and secretary general of China Association of the Blind, interacts with smart kitchen appliances at China’s first smart home experience store for persons with disabilities, Dec. 3. (Photo by Weng Qiyu/People’s Daily Online)

Some social media, online shopping and news apps are also making their services barrier-free, the senior engineer added.

Promoting the integration of new technologies, such as AI and the Internet of Things, with information accessibility is becoming an important means in helping the disabled, according to Wang, explaining that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is working with the National Medical Products Administration to enable the visually-impaired to recognize common drugs just by listening.

At the seminar, the China Braille Library, Zhejiang University and Chinese tech giant Alibaba launched a program based on Alibaba’s OCR product Duguang to help the visually impaired.

The smart home experience store in the China Braille Library, as one of the results of the program, connects over 30 smart home products such as sensors, eye-care table lamps and robot vacuums, all controlled by a smart voice assistant.

Li Qingzhong, president of China Association of the Blind, said that China has more than 17 million visually impaired people, and smart home products are their “eyes” to improve their lives.

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