Last week the winners of the Chairman's Awards for Advancements in Accessibility (AAA) were recognized at an awards ceremony in Arlington, VA. The 4 winners are all very exciting technologies that benefit people with vision impairment, hearing impairment, cognitive disabilities and even for those learning English as a Second Language. Let's take a look at this year's winners.


Orbit Reader 20

This is an innovation from The American Printing House for the Blind and Orbit technologies. They used a new technology to actuate the braille pins in refreshable braille displays that makes the braille displays cheaper. Thanks to it, braille displays are more affordable and will allow people with vision impairment easier access to information. 

A braille display translates the information on a computer screen to braille, by using an array of pins that are electronically raised and lowered.


Captioning and Description Editing Tool (CADET)

The National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH (NCAM), in Boston, developed a free  software "that enables anyone to produce high-quality caption files that are compatible with any media player that supports the display of captions."  In addition to the creation of captions, this software can also be used to create audio description scripts.  Until now, similar technologies have been very expensive, and by providing a free high quality technology, anyone can easily caption and provide audio descriptions for their video content.

The following video provides a lengthy explanation of the use of this technology. 


Content Clarifier

This is a technology developed by IBM to help increase content comprehension "for people with cognitive disabilities, the aging population, or those learning English as a second language."  Its main features are:

  • Replaces complex words, idioms and colloquialisms with easier to understand alternatives
  • Reorders and rephrases sentences
  • Provides context for concepts with phonetic pronunciations, images, maps, or alternative communication symbols
  • Integrates with mobile, web-based, or desktop applications

See it in action here:


Seeing AI

This is a free Microsoft app that describes nearby people, text, and objects with spoken audio, improving accessibility and independence for people who are blind and have low vision.  The following video provides an excellent summary of Seeing AI features.


The Chairman's Awards for Advancements in Accessibility is an award given by the Federal Communications Commissions chairman to recognize products, services, standards and other innovations that improve the experience of people with disabilities in telecommunications and technology.  This year was the Seventh edition of these awards. 

Congratulations to all the awardees for these excellent creations that enhance accessibility for people with vision and hearing impairment. 



- "Chairman's Awards for Advancements in Accessibility."  Federal Communications Commission,

- "CADET: Caption And Description Editing Tool."  The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM),

- "IBM AbilityLab Content Clarifier." IBM,

- ""Seeing AI." Microsoft,


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