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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 November 2000 Issue  Volume 1  Number 6

News

Braille Access Online

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) recently announced a new feature that directly links items in its International Union Catalog for braille and audio materials to the Web-braille digital files in its Internet Web-braille system, which was inaugurated in August 1999. The International Union Catalog is a database of records for finding books in braille and recorded formats and lists 325,000 titles from the NLS and international agency collections. Web-braille books can be accessed as digital braille files directly from the catalog by using search parameters, including: author name, book title, and book subject. New users to the system must register with a cooperating network library to establish their free user identification and password. For more information, contact: Judith M. Dixon, Consumer Relations Officer, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress; phone: 202-707-0722; E-mail: jdix@loc.gov; Web site: www.loc.gov.

Software with Speech and Magnification

Lernout and Hauspie recently released the MagniReader, which combines OCR (optical character recognition) and speech. The software, designed for people with low vision, scans and displays magnified images and text in color or black and white. It also offers high magnification for menus and speaking menu buttons. The MagniReader is available for $349 or as a free download to people who own Kurzweil 1000, version 5.0 or above, at: ftp://ftp.lhsl.com/education/ MagniReader. For more information, contact: Kurzweil Educational Systems Group, Lernout and Hauspie Speech Products; phone: 800-894-5374 or 781-203-5000; E-mail: education.info@LHSL.com; Web site: www.LHSL.com/education.

Scanning Software

Premier Programming Solutions, a Michigan-based custom software development company, recently announced the release of a new product from Venusoft, its newly formed division for products designed for people who are blind or visually impaired. The Scan and Read Lite software is designed to scan and read any typewritten document and is available for $99.95. The Scan and Read Professional has additional features, such as user-created scanning templates, and is available for $139.95. For more information, contact: Venusoft, Premier Programming; phone: 517-668-8188; E-mail: info@premier-programming.com; Web site: www.premier-programming.com.

Online Training

Cathy Anne Murtha, an independent service provider for the California Department of Rehabilitation, offers online computer training courses at www.cathyanne.com. A four-month Windows 98 with Window-Eyes or JAWS for Windows costs $600. The one-month Excel 2000 and HTML courses cost $200. For more information, contact: Cathy Anne Murtha, access technology specialist; phone: 916-922-3794; E-mail: cathy@cathyanne.com; Web site: www.cathyanne.com.

New Internet Service Provider

Dolphin Computer Access, a U.K. software developer for computer users who are blind or visually impaired, plans to become an Internet service provider. The free service, dolphinaccess.net, will offer free E-mail accounts and Web space. Dolphinaccess.net will be available to consumers in the United Kingdom in fall 2000 and, before December 31, 2000, will be available to clients in other countries, including: Australia, The Netherlands, Ireland, Scandinavia, and the United States. For more information, contact: Dolphin Computer Access, 100 South Ellsworth Avenue, 4th Floor, San Mateo, CA, 94401; phone: 650-348-7401, Web site: www.dolphinuk.co.uk.

Freedom Scientific Products

Freedom Scientific offers the latest version of its braille notetaker and JAWS for Windows, and upgrade and trade-in credits for several of its software products. Available in Winter 2000, the Braille Lite Millennium Series is the latest version of Freedom Scientific's refreshable braille notetaker. The notetaker features a new, compact design; removable compact flash memory; Wiz Wheels, which is designed to ease scrolling and navigation; and a 56K internal modem. The 20-cell Braille Lite M20 costs $3,495, and the 40-cell Braille Lite M40 costs of $5,595.

Freedom Scientific is offering the following special pricing for products sold to U.S. consumers through December 31, 2000. The upgrade and trade-in credits are: A $2,500 credit is available on Type Lite with a Braille Lite trade-in; Braille Lite 2000 or Braille Lite 40 can be upgraded to the Millennium Series for $500; a $1500 credit is available for Braille Lite M20 with a Braille Lite 2000 trade-in; a $2000 credit is available on Braille Lite M40 with a Braille Lite 40 trade-in; and there are discounts for upgrades to JAWS 3.7 from early versions of JAWS. A 10 percent discount on OPENBook is available to purchasers or owners of current, registered versions of JAWS. For more information, contact: Freedom Scientific, Blind/Low Vision Group, 11800 31st Court North, St. Petersburg, FL 33716; phone: 800-444-4443 or 727-803-8000; fax: 727-803-8001; E-mail: info@hj.com; Web site: www.freedomscientific.com.

Address Changes

American Thermoform Corporation has moved to 1758 Brackett Street, La Verne, CA 91750; phone: 800-331-3676 or 909-593-6711; fax; 909-593-8001; E-mail: atc@atcbrleqp.com; Web site: www.atcbrleqp.com.

Ann Morris Enterprises, manufacturer of products for people with vision loss, has moved. For more information, contact: Ann Morris Enterprises, 551 Hosner Mountain Road, Stormville, NY 12582; phone: 800-454-3175; fax: 845-226-2793; E-mail: annmor@webspan.net; Web site: www.annmorris.com; announce-only E-mail list: annmorris-subscribe@egroups.com.

Digital Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Speaking in Flint, Michigan in September, U.S. President William Clinton announced major initiatives to promote accessibility including the following:

The CEOs of leading high-tech companies, including 3Com, Adobe, AOL, AT and T, Bell South, Compaq, eBay, Hewlett-Packard, Macromedia, Microsoft, NCR, Qualcomm, and Sun Microsystems, have committed to develop a corporate-wide policy on accessibility within six months. These policies will include "best practices" such as training their workers to develop accessible products and services; giving developers adequate resources to design accessible products and services; identifying and fixing accessibility problems in new versions of their hardware and software; and supporting research and development to improve the state-of-the-art of assistive technology.

The U.S. Department of Education will award $3.8 million to six states—Virginia, Kansas, Missouri, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Utah—to expand loan programs that will increase the ability of people with disabilities to purchase assistive technology devices and services. The Department of Education will also provide a five-year, $7.5 million grant to the Georgia Institute of Technology's Center for Rehabilitation Technology to provide training and technical assistance on universal design to technology manufacturers, product designers, and purchasers of information technology.

Awards

Julie Howell, Accessible Internet Campaigns officer, Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), recently won the Daily Mirror Reader's Choice category of the U.K. Yell Web Awards 2000. The U.K. Yell Web Awards, which are organized annually by the Yellow Pages, are the "people's choice" of the best of the Internet. Ms. Howell also won the first prize in the Online Community category of The New Statesman New Media Awards. New Statesman, a weekly political magazine published in the United Kingdom, presents its annual New Media Awards to identify and reward initiatives that contribute to and benefit public life using new technology. For more information, contact: Julie Howell, campaigns officer, Accessible Internet, RNIB, 224 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5AA, United Kingdom; E-mail: JHowell@rnib.org.uk; Web site: www.rnib.org.uk/digital.

Personnel changes

Dan Liles joined Microsoft's Accessible Technology Group (ATG) as the technical program manager and will be responsible for Active Accessibility. Rob Sinclair is now ATG's lead technical program manager and will be responsible for the overall direction of ATG and will investigate new products and technology. For more information, contact: Rob Sinclair, lead technical program manager, Accessible Technology Group, Microsoft, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052; phone: 425-882-8080; E-mail: Web site: www.microsoft.com/enable.

Ronald Roeten joined the Dolphin Computer Access as the international sales and marketing director. For thirteen years before joining Dolphin, Mr. Roeten worked for the Tieman Group, whose products include BrailleWindow braille displays and ClearView closed-circuit televisions. For more information, contact: Dolphin Computer Access, 100 South Ellsworth Avenue, 4th Floor, San Mateo, CA, 94401; phone: 650-348-7401, fax: 650-348-7403; Web site: www.dolphinusa.com.

The editors of AccessWorld welcome information for the News and Calendar. Please send information to: Rebecca Burrichter, Assistant Editor, AFB Press, 11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300, New York, NY 10001; fax: 212-502-7774; E-mail: rebeccab@afb.net.

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