In Australia, there are 380,000 legally blind residents. Of these, there are 5000 Australians on low incomes who are unable to identify items without assistance. GS1 Australia have sent an appeal to Australian manufacturers to provide product information and help to transform the lives of visually impaired and their families.
A Talking bar code scanner and an ID Mate Omni are currently available to change the lives of visually impaired and enable them to identify everything from soup to socks. The technology has been released by Visual Independence. Yet, capturing data and keeping it updated is an ongoing challenge.
GS1 Australia already provide ongoing feeds of data from GS1net's database of 1 million line items free of charge. The GS1net database has a record of million products to assist visually impaired people with the information they need to live independent. Every GS1net supplier updates information and adds data to GS1net, to benefit the visually impaired community. The scanner can make use of GS1net database for a good cause.
With the product descriptions in the scanner’s database, the visually impaired community can hear product descriptions spoken. Items not identified from the database can be added through user voice recording with extra labels provided for this purpose.
GS1 Australia will also add information such as nutritional information, instructions, allergy warnings and recipes into the database. The information can empower the visually impaired with the ability to shop and cook without assistance. The scanner can identify food, music, medicines, clothes, appliance instructions and documents. It can be used at home, school, in the workplace and for recreation. Extra information and memos can be recorded, played and erased with the ID Mate Omni.
ID Mate Omni uses an omni-directional scanner, which can read a bar code in any direction. The user can simply rotate the scanner around the product to get a reliable read. The scanner can be regularly synchronised with GS1net, which helps visually impaired people to identify products while shopping and at home.
The scanner is light in weight, small in size and comes with an adjustable lanyard to carry around the neck. The rubber coating allows easy grip and protection. The scanner can be integrated with a personal computer and it is simple for users to operate.
Visual Independence, a not-for-profit organisation have plans to assist the visually impaired to get the product through donations and grants from government, individuals, groups and corporate organisations. The project is supported by Vision Australia, Guide Dogs Victoria, Blind Citizens Australia, the Association for the Blind WA and The Royal Society for the Blind SA.