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QR Codes: Uses and Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities

  • Synopsis: Published: 2016-09-24 - Information on mobile phone scannable QR codes including accessibility issues and practical uses of QR code technology to assist persons with disability. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Ian Langtree at Disabled World.
QR Code

QR Code (Quick Response Code) - A trademarked name for a type of matrix barcode originally designed for the automotive industry. Recently, the system has become popular outside of the industry due to fast readability and large storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. QR codes consist of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be made up of four standardized kinds (modes) of data (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, Kanji), or by extensions supporting virtually any kind of data.

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Quote: "While QR codes have been around in the business world for quite some time the possibilities in the online, educational, and entertainment fields are just being realized."

In simple terms a QR or Quick Response Code is a type of barcode. If your mobile phone has a QR Code Reader application installed you can take a picture of the Codes and they'll link your phone to a webpage or specific content.

The primary value of Quick Response (QR) codes is in accessing information quickly and easily. All you need to access a QR code is a Smartphone or cell phone (with a camera) and barcode reader (easily available as an app if your phone's not pre-equipped).

QR codes are a two dimensional barcode that stores 7,089 characters (numbers, alphabetic, symbols, binary and/or control codes). QR code was originally created in 1994 at the Toyota subsidiary, Denso-Wave - as the traditional barcode, used in manufacturing to track and inventory parts, had a limitation of storing only 20 digits. QR codes can hold several hundred digits and function even if they are partially damaged. They are also omni-directional, which means they are readable from any direction, ensuring high speed scanning.

QR codes can be read anytime, anywhere with mobile devices. This makes them easy to decode and convenient since special scanners are not required and the camera of mobile phones simply scans and presents the information contained in the codes. One of the largest barriers preventing people from using QR codes is simply a lack of awareness of the technology.

What do you need to recognize QR codes on your phone

There are various free QR code readers out there including neoreader, kaywa and quickmark. You don't need a particularly high end phone either - but it does need to be equipped with a camera. Many Android, Nokia, and Blackberry handsets come with QR code readers installed. QR reader software is available for most mobile platforms.

  • For BlackBerry devices, the App World application can natively scan QR codes and load any recognized Web URLs on the device's Web browser.
  • Nokia's Symbian operating system is provided with a barcode scanner, which is able to read QR codes, while mbarcode is a QR code reader for the Maemo operating system.
  • For the Apple iOS, a QR code reader is not natively included, but more than fifty paid and free apps are available with reader and metadata browser URI redirection ability.
  • QR codes can be utilized in Google's mobile Android operating system via both their own Google Goggles application or 3rd party barcode scanners like ZXing or Kaywa.

Uses for QR Codes:

While QR codes have been around in the business world for quite some time the possibilities in the online, educational, and entertainment fields are just being realized. You may find that scanning a QR Code and storing or accessing data directly using your mobile phone is more convenient than taking notes. Students can point their mobile phone cameras at the codes and have instant access to information. In a lecture, students could point their mobiles at a PowerPoint presentation to download it or save urls for later use.

Some of the items QR codes can be used for include: promoting Services, Business Cards, Google Places and/or Google Maps, Contact Information, Email Addresses, Dialing Phone Numbers, SMS to Phone Number, SMS to Short Code, Text, Displaying RSS Feeds.

The example QR code, shown right, when scanned will take you to our home page at:

QR Code Accessibility and Uses for Persons with Disabilities:

QR Codes and symbols are proving to be a very interesting approach for persons with disabilities.

  • Wayfinding Systems Based on Geo-coded QR Codes and Social Computing for Individuals with Cognitive Impairments - In this paper a wayfinding prototype system based on QR codes and social computing for individuals with cognitive impairments is presented -
  • QR-Coded Audio Periodic Table of the Elements - A quick response coded audio periodic table of the elements (QR-APTE) was developed using free online resources. The potential of QR-APTE was tested using a smart phone and is envisaged to become a truly powerful tool to teach chemistry to blind and visually impaired students under a mobile-learning environment -
  • Chartiy Uses QR Codes for Donations - City Harvest is reaching donors with an innovative advertising campaign that uses QR technology in print, phone kiosks, transit shelters, and on Facebook -
  • Purdue University - Use a QR code allowing students to access the Disability Resource Center information through their mobile devices and store a customize map with information about buildings accessible for students with disabilities. The QR code stores a URL address, and users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR code to display text or open a Web page in the phone's browser -
  • Symbol Surfing - Project at The Rix center is looking at symbol recognition software on computers that can benefit people with learning disabilities -
  • QR Codes as an Assistive Technology - Digit-Eyes App - article describing different ways QR labels can be used to help the blind determine the age of food in the fridge without popping the lid and leaving audio messages that can be played back on their iPhone -

QR-Code Business Card Creator:

Create business cards with this free online QR Code business card generator. Choose one of the business card templates or enter your business details, including website and email address, and print out the PDF document containing your business card images -

QR-Code Readers:

There are several apps that help to read QR codes on mobile phones, with some specific ones available exclusively for the Blackberry, iPhone and other smart phones. Most of these apps can be downloaded free of cost.

BeeTagg -
i-nigma Reader -
KAYWA Reader -
Lynkee Reader -
MobileTag -
NeoReader -
ScanLife -
SnapMaze -
UpCode -
QuickMark -

Future of QR Codes:

The future success will not be attributed to simply linking to url's. The real enterprise solutions are where the codes will be monetized and customization for business and commercial use will be at the forefront of intelligent and professional use, examples of which are; e-government, tourism, advertising and targeted marketing, packaging, supply chain management, brand management and brand protection, logistics, track and trace, anti-counterfeit or smuggling, id & passports, transport and ticketing, parking, disability, crm, cross media campaigns, m-ticketing, m-payments, e-learning, complete integration of localization, personalization, objects and other data.

NOTE: Please contact Disabled World if you use or know of other current QR code use for persons with disabilities - including projects in development. Or if you can suggest an application where QR code use would be of benefit to the disabled.

QR Code, iQR Code and SQRC are registered trademarks of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED in Japan and in other countries

Facts: QR Code

  • The QR code system was invented in 1994 by Denso Wave. Denso Wave owns the patent rights on QR codes, but has chosen not to exercise them. Therefore the use of QR codes is free of any license. The QR code is clearly defined and published as an ISO standard.
  • In June 2011, The Royal Dutch Mint (Koninklijke Nederlandse Munt) issued the world's first official coin with a QR code to celebrate the centenary of its current building and premises.
  • The symbol versions of QR Code range from Version 1 to Version 40. Each version has a different module configuration or number of modules.
  • QR Code system consists of 2 parts, software and printer to generate QR Codes and a scanner and application program to read them.
  • QR Code has error correction capability to restore data if the code is dirty or damaged. The error correction capability depends on the amount of data to be corrected.
  • QR Code Model 2 can encode up to 7,089 numerals with its maximum version being 40 (177 x 177 modules).
  • QR Code can hold a greater amount of information than the traditional QR Code. An iQR Code of the same size as an existing QR Code can hold 80% more information than the latter. If the same amount is stored, an iQR Code can be made 30% smaller (compared to the regular QR Code).
  • QR codes can be used to store bank account information or credit card information, or they can be specifically designed to work with particular payment provider applications.
  • SQRC is a type of QR Code equipped with reading restricting function. This can be used to store private information. Data for SQRC consists of public part and private part. With SQRC, it is possible to store 2 control levels of information in one code.
  • LogoQ is a new type of QR Code created to enhance visual recognizability by combining it with letters and pictures in full color.

Statistics: QR Codes

During the month of June 2011, according to one study, 14 million mobile users scanned a QR code or a barcode. Some 58% of those users scanned a QR or barcode from their homes, while 39% scanned from retail stores; 53% of the 14 million users were men between the ages of 18 and 34.

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