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From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.
A deaf and blind woman from Australian is the first person to make a telephone call using a device that turns speech into Braille. Braille uses raised dots on a surface that can be “read” by touching it. The technology is being tested in Australia and the U.S. One test involved a simple phone call between two sisters. Michelle Stevens is deaf and blind. Ms. Stevens says the braille telephone will end years of feeling alone and apart from others. She is one of five Australians taking part in the new trials, or tests. Ms. Stevens’ vision suffered damage because she was born prematurely, or born too soon. She lost her hearing from serious ear infections. The Braille telephone system, she said, will be a great help to her and others. Ms. Stevens told VOA’s Phil Mercer that with future developments, the phone system might be able to give deaf-blind people more job opportunities. However, the phone system is expensive. It costs about $2,500. The phones work by transferring spoken words onto what is called a “dynamic braille display.” The technology was developed in the U.S. Christopher Engelke is a director with the U.S. company Ultratec. Soon he will carry out the U.S. trial. Mr. Engelke explains that a deaf person uses the phone just like any other phone. However, sub-titles of what is said appear on the phone’s touch screen. Mr. Engelke explains that vision-impaired people would listen as they can, speak with their own voice and read what is being said to them from the Braille bumps on the phone. In Australia alone, it is estimated there are 330,000 people who are deaf and blind.