Braille Smartwatch Coming in December of 2016

braille smartwatchA South Korean startup company has created Dot, the first braille smartwatch, complete with shifting cells of dots. For some time, people who are blind have needed to have messages read to them, but this innovative technology allows the person to read it for themselves.

On its face, it has four cells each with six active dots, which can raise or lower to make four braille letters at a time. It links up with Bluetooth to convert texts from apps like iMessage into their braille letter equivalents with the user’s voice commands. The device’s battery can last up for five days before needing to be charged.

The watch can be used to access various text data including messages, tweets, e-mails, and more. It also functions as a watch and alarm. This can help people who are blind/have low vision to access messages and content in a whole new way.

One benefit of the Dot wearable is the cost. Unlike braille e-readers, which can cost thousands of dollars, the device is slated to cost less than $300 when it hits U.S. markets in December. The watch will be compatible for both Android and IOS devices.


IRS Eases Rules for New ABLE Accounts

irsbuilding1In October, the IRS had requested feedback on their proposed rules for the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act). After a lot of pushback from disability advocates and state officials, the IRS will be easing up on the rules for these new accounts.

The IRS said they plan to issue final regulations with less stringent reporting requirements. Specifically, individuals opening ABLE accounts will not need to submit medical documentation, but will have to certify under penalty of perjury that they have a qualifying diagnosis.

The IRS also indicated that ABLE programs will not be required to request taxpayer identification numbers from contributors to ABLE accounts except in limited circumstances and program administrators will not have to categorize what money in the accounts is for.

Despite federal passage of the ABLE Act last year, each state must establish regulations of their own in order to made the accounts available. So far, 34 states have approved legislation, including North Dakota.

These states are still working out the details and need to know the IRS rules before moving forward. ABLE accounts are expected to start becoming available next year, but the timetable for each state will vary.

With these new accounts, people with disabilities will be able to accrue up to $100,000 without losing access to Social Security and other government benefits. Medicaid coverage will remain intact no matter how much money is in the individual’s ABLE account.

These accounts were modeled after the 529 college savings plans and funds in the account can be used to pay for education, health care, transportation, housing, and other expenses. Interest that is earned on these accounts will be tax-free. Individuals with disabilities acquired before the age of 26 will be eligible for the new accounts.