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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 November 2002 Issue  Volume 3  Number 6

Access World News

PulseData HumanWare GPS Tutorial

Pulse Data HumanWare recently released a tutorial for its BrailleNote with GPS (Global Positioning System) accessory. The tutorial is designed to mimic the feeling of using the BrailleNote GPS outdoors and offers a virtual "first walk" that explains the basic functions and how to use the product. The tutorial provides an introduction to GPS, notes on how to install the software, methods for using the point-of-interest feature, and demonstrates how to create an automatic and manual route. The 55-minute tutorial is available for free download from the following URL: <ftp://ftp.humanware.com/humanware/tutorials/> and is available on cassette from the manufacturer. The GPS accessory is designed for use with BrailleNote or VoiceNote and is available for a cost of $649. The software includes a GPS receiver, software, and a database of 700,000 points of interest, such as hotels, restaurants, and museums. For more information, contact: Pulse Data HumanWare; phone: 800-722-3393; web site: <www.humanware.com>.

RFB&D Launches Digital Textbook Program

On September 3, 2002, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) added an inaugural collection of more than 6,000 digitally recorded educational titles to its collection of 91,000 accessible textbooks. To listen to RFB&D's AudioPlus digitally recorded textbooks, students need a portable CD player equipped to play RFB&D's books or a standard multimedia computer equipped with a CD-ROM drive and specialized software. Playback hardware and software are available through RFB&D for nonprofit sale. These Digital Talking Books give students instant access to any page, chapter, or subheading in a book with the touch of a button; there is no need to fast-forward through and count embedded beep tones, as is done with books recorded on analog cassette tape. Digitally recorded textbooks are stored on CDs, which hold more than 40 hours of recorded material. Therefore, the contents of a standard textbook, which requires eight to 12 cassettes, will now fit onto a single CD. These books are available to RFB&D's 102,000 members in kindergarten through graduate school, and to any other student with a certified disability that makes reading difficult or impossible. For more information, contact: Member Services, Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic; phone: 800-221-4792 or 609-452-0606; web site: <www.rfbd.org>.

Assistive Technology Training

Beyond Sight, an assistive technology creator and distributor, offers individual and group instruction in assistive technology. A computer with speakers and a microphone is required for online instruction. The cost is $50 per hour. For more information, contact: Beyond Sight; phone: 303-795-6455; e-mail: <bob@beyondsight.com>; web site: <www.beyondsight.com/training.htm>.

Freedom Scientific Announcements

In August 2002, Lee Hamilton became the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Freedom Scientific, a manufacturer of technology products for people who are blind or visually impaired. Dr. Hamilton has been president of the company's Blind/Low Vision Group since March 2002. Dr. Hamilton holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. Most recently, Dr. Hamilton was president and CEO of AirNet Communications. Richard H. Chandler, Freedom Scientific's previous CEO, will remain as non-executive chairman of its board of directors until the end of 2002.

Ted Henter was elected to the Freedom Scientific board of directors in July 2002. Mr. Henter is the founder and previous owner of Henter-Joyce, a manufacturer of technology products for people who are blind or visually impaired that was acquired by Freedom Scientific in April 2000. In 1987, Mr. Henter invented the screen-reading software JAWS. Mr. Henter has received numerous national honors, including the Smithsonian Institute Award for developing JAWS. For more information, contact: Freedom Scientific, 11800 31st Court North, St. Petersburg, FL 33716; phone: 800-444-4443 or 727-803-8000; fax: 727-803-8001; web site: <www.FreedomScientific.com>.

Bobby Acquired by Watchfire Management

Watchfire, a provider of web site management software and services for organizations to automate the testing and analysis of web content, recently acquired Bobby from CAST, a nonprofit research and development organization promoting computer use by people with disabilities. Bobby is a comprehensive web site accessibility software tool. Watchfire plans to integrate the accessibility functionality of Bobby into its web site management platform, Watchfire WebXM, and will add accessibility reports to its web site quality testing tool, Watchfire WebQA. Michael Cooper, the Bobby project manager and technical designer, recently joined Watchfire as a product manager. For more information, contact: Watchfire; phone: 800-282-5951 or 011-44-1753-705-010; web site: <http://bobby.watchfire.com/bobby/html/en/index.jsp>.

Free Internet Explorer Add-On Reads Flash

Frank Audiodata's WebFormator version 1.30 is a free add-on for Internet Explorer (IE) that is designed to reformat a web page into a text-only format. Version 1.30 is designed to display text versions of web pages designed with MacroMedia's Flash on IE versions 5.0+ in a Windows 98+ environment. WebFormator 1.30 is compatible with Flash Player 6.0+. Using Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA), the web pages reformatted by WebFormator are intended to be compatible with most screen reader and screen magnifier programs. For more information, contact: Frank Audiodata; phone: 011-49-7254-5050; e-mail: <info@audiodata.de>; web site: <www.webformator.com/englisch/index.php>.

Assistive Technology Instructor Program

For the second year, Lighthouse International is offering its Lighthouse Assistive Technology Instructor Preparation Program for both visually impaired and sighted people of all educational levels who are seeking careers in assistive technology. The course offers instruction on how to develop teaching strategies for people with visual impairments; how to provide instruction in the use of adaptive technology; how to develop consistent training plans with objectives, goals, and outcomes; and how to report on, and bill for, services. The course costs $6,300, which includes application fees. For more information, contact: Glenda Such, director, Computer Training Programs, Lighthouse International; phone: 212-821-9337; e-mail: <gsuch@lighthouse.org>; web site: <www.lighthouse.org>.

Accessible Web Site Launched by Computer Camp Participants

Nineteen teenagers with visual impairments designed, built, and launched a fully accessible web site that they created as part of the 17th Annual Canadian National Institute for the Blind's (CNIB) Gretzky Summer Computer Opportunities in Recreation and Education (SCORE) Camp held in 2002. The mainly Canadian students, aged 16-18, created the site in IBM-donated computer labs with the help of several IBM Canada employees with visual impairments who served as volunteer mentors and role models. The web site created by SCORE 2002 participants can be found online at <www.cnib.ca/score2002/>. CNIB and IBM Canada teamed up to offer the two-week camp to teens with visual impairments. The camp was conceived in the mid-1980s to offer visually impaired student participants technology, independence, and leadership skills, and takes place each July in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. For more information, contact: SCORE, Canadian National Institute for the Blind; phone: 416-486-2500; fax 416-480-7677; web site: <www.cnib.ca/score/>.

Online Document Storage and Scanning Service

Serotek launched its online document scanning and storage service, FreedomScan, on the FreedomBox Network, an Internet portal that provides content and services specifically designed for people who are blind or visually impaired. Using technology licensed by ScanSoft, the FreedomScan service is designed to allow people who are blind and print disabled to scan, store, and e-mail documents over the Internet using only voice commands. Serotek sells a complete scanning service and "scanner-enabling package," including a CanoScan N670U scanner, for a cost of $199. Registered FreedomScan users who have also registered with the FreedomBox Network can access the document scanning service from a computer equipped with a Twain-compliant scanner that has the FreedomBox client installed. The cost of registration with the FreedomBox Network is $120. For more information, contact: Serotek; phone: 877-661-3785; web site: <www.FreedomBox.info>.

Tool for Rich Media Access

The WGBH National Center for Accessible Media has developed a new beta version, 2.01, of the Media Access Generator (MAGpie) for creating captions and audio descriptions for rich media. MAGpie is designed to work with Java 1.3 and 1.4 and has incomplete screen reader support. The software is available for free download from the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media's web site, <http://ncam.wgbh.org/webaccess/magpie/magpie2_registration.html>. For more information, contact: WGBH National Center for Accessible Media; phone: 617-300-3400; fax: 617-300-1035; e-mail: <ncam@wgbh.org>.

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