ELIA Life Technology Receives SBIR Grant to Study Tactile Alphabets

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ELIA Life Technology, creator of the ELIA tactical alphabet, has received a small business research grant to study the readability of the two leading tactile alphabets: ELIA and Braille.

ELIA Life Technology has received a Small Business Innovative Research Grant (SBIR), funded by the National Institutes of Health, to explore the tactile recognition by the blind of the ELIA®, Braille and Roman tactile alphabets. This research will be conducted at Lighthouse International’s state-of-the-art facilities in mid-town Manhattan, and will be overseen by Dr. Aries Arditi and Dr. Lei Liu, leading experts on text legibility.

“This is the first part of a larger research project analyzing the readability of the three primary tactile alphabets,” said Andrew Chepaitis, CEO of ELIA Life Technology. “ELIA Life is committed to improving the lives of the visually impaired. The results of this research will be used to improve products and services offered to the blind, and will open up new possibilities for employment and general improvements in daily living activities. We look forward to working with the team at Lighthouse International as we conduct this research.”

Every year, approximately 175,000 Americans become severely visually impaired and blind, the majority of whom are over the age of 45. However, only one percent of the blind over the age of 65 can read Braille, limiting the ability of 1.1 million seniors to perform a number of activities of daily living independently, such as preparing meals, taking medication, using home care projects and dressing themselves. These are people who have spent much of their lives using the Roman alphabet for reading and everyday identification.

ELIA Life Technology was founded to provide products and services that improve the daily living conditions of previously-sighted blind Americans. To that end, this grant will help the company to better understand the needs of the blind, and to identify improvements that can be made to the presentation of the ELIA®, Braille and Roman tactile alphabets.

This research grant was made possible with the assistance of the Industrial & Technology Assistance Corporation (ITAC), a non-profit economic development organization that provides one-on-one technical assistance for New York City manufacturers and technology firms to help them stay competitive in the marketplace.

Franklin Madison, director of technology programs at ITAC added, “ELIA Life Technology possesses many of the qualities that we look for in a promising technology firm: technology where there is a demonstrated market need, and a readiness to access Federal grants like the SBIR Program as part of their growth strategy. These are some of the attributes we look for in young companies with exciting new technologies and concepts that make us rethink the way we work and live our lives. We plan to maintain a strong working relationship with ELIA Life in the future.”

About Lighthouse International

Lighthouse International is the leading resource worldwide on vision impairment and vision rehabilitation. Through its pioneering work in vision rehabilitation services, prevention, education, research, and advocacy, Lighthouse International enables people of all ages who are blind or partially sighted to lead independent and productive lives. Founded in 1905 and headquartered in New York, Lighthouse International is a not-for-profit organization, and depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations and corporations.

About ITAC

ITAC is a not-for-profit economic development organization that receives significant financial support from the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR), New York’s high-technology economic development agency, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). ITAC serves as NYSTAR®’s designated Regional Technology Development Center for New York City and one of nearly 350 MEP locations across the country and works directly with regional companies to increase their competitiveness and profitability.

About ELIA Life Technology

ELIA Life Technology provides independence through simple innovations to the 97% of the severely visually impaired who do not read braille. Towards this effort, the company has developed the ELIA Tactile Alphabet for people with macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa and other causes of adult blindness. The new tactile alphabet leverages simple ergonomics principles so that readers can build on their existing knowledge of the regular print alphabet. Consequently, the ELIA® Alphabet can be learned visually in a matter of minutes and tactilely in an afternoon. In research studies, the ELIA® Tactile Alphabet was read more than twice as fast as braille. ELIA Life Technology is located in New York City.

The ELIA ® Alphabet can be viewed at http://www.elialife.com

For more information contact:

Damon Leavell

Forrest PR

(973) 590-5155


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