Welcome to the premier issue of AccessWorld: Technology for Consumers with Visual Impairments. Though tempting, I will avoid millennium hype or Y2K jokes. But I cannot resist sharing my enthusiasm about a millennial milestone: this new technology periodical serving the interests of people with visual impairments. Inside you will find a world of information on developments in speech, braille, and magnification products, along with user tips and reports on trends and progress in access to technology.
Many people tout technology, incorrectly, as the ultimate solution to the problems facing those of us who are visually impaired. Others are perversely mistaken in fearing or ignoring the value of technology as a tool for independence and equality. AccessWorld will attempt to bring balance to these opposing views.
Over the past quarter century, people who are blind or visually impaired have been the fortunate recipients of extraordinary developments in technology. This issue's product evaluations—featuring technology from Kurzweil, Arkenstone, and Ai Squared—and our lead interview with Deane Blazie make this fact quite clear.
Our evaluation of the Kurzweil 1000 and the Arkenstone Ruby show just how far reading machines have come since 1976, when the first $50,000 machine went on the market with very little memory and primitive speech synthesis. Ray Kurzweil, who revolutionized access to print with that first reading machine, has pioneered many other breakthroughs.
Access to the computer has also changed dramatically during the past quarter century. Robust technologies provide users access to computers through speech, braille, and magnification. Our evaluation of Ai Squared's screen magnifier ZoomText highlights a company that straddled DOS and Windows and now also straddles access through screen magnification and speech.
We are eager to hear from you about how AccessWorld can meet your needs. Send us your questions, comments, or ideas for stories. I also invite you to find out more about AccessWorld's editors by visiting our Web site at <www.afb.org/accessworld.html>.
Editor in Chief
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