jump to article
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

Caption: Humanware's BrailleNote—one of many products evaluated in this issue.

In This Issue . . .

Editor's Page

The First Accessible Windows-Based Notetaker: A Review of the BrailleNote

Jay Leventhal and Deborah Kendrick

Is Technology Improving? Revisiting Four Video Magnifiers

Mark M. Uslan, Chen-Yung Hsu, and Gary Chan

How Do We Communicate (with Assistive Technology)? Let Me Count the Ways

Deborah Kendrick

It's Hard to Find Good Help These Days: A Review of Personal Data Assistants

Crista Earl and Chen-Yung Hsu

AccessWorld News


Editor in Chief Paul Schroeder
Contributing Editors Crista L. Earl
Deborah Kendrick
Jay D. Leventhal
Mark Uslan
Managing Editor Sharon Shively
Marketing Manager Sharon Baker-Harris

Editor's Page

In a remarkable sign of the times, a small but impressive number of CEOs have committed their companies to a series of actions aimed at improving access to information technology for people with disabilities. We commend these companies and President Clinton, who announced the effort as part of his continuing focus on the "digital divide" during a speech in Flint, Michigan on September 21.

Over 40 CEOs signed a pledge to: "develop accessibility guidelines and hold product groups accountable for implementing these guidelines where technically and economically feasible; involve people with disabilities in the design and testing of products and services; devote resources to address accessibility problems; provide employees with training to design accessible products and services; and support implementation of standards that advance accessibility, such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web accessibility guidelines."

Although not all participating companies on the list are household names, Microsoft, America Online, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, AT and T, BellSouth, Sun Microsystems, and Adobe are among the technology leaders making the public commitment. This public pledge, though far from everything we might want, marks a significant step forward.

This issue examines access for people with low vision to the increasingly important mainstream world of handheld computers. The results are not impressive, but we note that Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, and Handspring are all leaders in this area and their CEOs have signed the open letter on accessibility.

Mark Uslan and his colleagues look at four video magnification products to see how well these manufacturers are meeting expectations. And, finally, Jay Leventhal and Deborah Kendrick got their hands on Pulse Data's BrailleNote. I think you'll be intrigued with the improving state of CCTV and notetaker technology.

This will be my last issue as Editor in Chief of AccessWorld. I have accepted a position as Vice President of Governmental Affairs at the American Foundation for the Blind, and I will change my role in AccessWorld to Senior Contributing Editor. I am grateful for the opportunity to have led the launch of this publication, and I am thrilled that Jay Leventhal will be taking over the lead editorial responsibilities. Along with the inevitable changes that come with new leadership, we will also be working to shape AccessWorld to respond to the feedback we received from focus groups and a reader survey.

Paul Schroeder

Editor in Chief

Back to top

Product Evaluation

The First Accessible Windows-Based Notetaker: A Review of the Braille Note

Certainly one of the most interesting new products to arrive on the assistive technology scene this year is the BrailleNote from Pulse Data International, distributed in the United States by HumanWare. A full-service braille-with-speech notetaker, this attractive unit began shipping in June. We spent some time with the BrailleNote and, as is typically the case with any new product in this field, we found many positive points, as well as some issues for concern.

The overall package is ergonomically designed and esthetically pleasing to both sight and touch. The unit is gray, and the braille keys are green. On the top surface of the unit, which measures 9.5 inches x 5 inches x 1 inch (the 32-cell model weighs 2 lb, 9 oz) are nine keys (representing an eight-dot braille keyboard plus space bar) arranged on a curve for comfort. At the front of the unit is an 18-or 32-cell refreshable braille display, and below that, on the narrow edge facing the user are four "thumb keys" used for progressing forward and back through documents and menus. The 18-cell and the 32-cell units each come in the same size case, and it is possible to upgrade from 18 cells to 32 cells. Above each braille cell is a touch cursor which, when pressed, routes the cursor instantly for ease in editing. Other physical features of the unit include a PCMCIA slot (through which the optional disk drive accessory and other devices can be attached), serial port, parallel port, modem connection, AC adapter, earphone jack, and infrared port. The BrailleNote also includes a rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery.

For a braille user, an initial test drive of the BrailleNote is both fun and intuitive. It is built on the Windows CE operating system—the "brains" behind Pocket PCs such as the Hewlett-Packard Jornada 690, reviewed elsewhere in this issue. The BrailleNote offers quick response and access to most basic computing functions in a small package. Word processing, an appointment calendar, an address book, and access to E-mail are the highlights of this notetaker, and most proved relatively easy to activate. Users of the KeyNote or other HumanWare products will recognize the KeySoft suite of applications with its proprietary KeyWord word processor, KeyPlan appointment calendar, and so on. Although the fact that these applications are proprietary could be a drawback, KeyWord files can be converted and exported to be read as Microsoft Word documents on another computer, and Word documents can be imported and read as KeyWord files. One important distinction about the BrailleNote, however, is that although Word files can be imported and read easily, no conventional Windows programs can actually be loaded and run on the BrailleNote.

Composing on the BrailleNote is a real treat for the rapid typist, accustomed to losing characters or running words together on other notetakers. The speech is another pleasant surprise—delightfully clear and crisp when heard either through the unit's own speaker (approximately 2 inches wide on the top of the unit) or through the provided headphones. The speech quality is high enough to make listening to lengthy documents or books tolerable. One quirk is that the speech synthesizer has its own abbreviations dictionary, which cannot be edited. (So, for example, when you write "St. Louis" the BrailleNote says "Street Louis.") Speech and braille are independent of one another, so that one or the other or both can be active at any time. We found working in all three modes completely satisfactory.

The BrailleNote is menu driven, with quick access to all menus available from anywhere within the unit. For example, if you are in a word processing document and want to insert an appointment, the calendar is just a few keystrokes away. Action menus and commands within various functions are often issued by key combinations, or chords, involving holding down some of the braille keys along with the backspace or space bar; other functions are activated using combinations of the four thumb keys.

The online manual is easy to use and can be accessed quickly by holding down the letter o and pressing the letter u from any application. You are then given the choice of Table of Contents or Index. Once a choice is made, you can easily zip through the topics listed, respectively, by chapter or alphabetical listing. If you have already accessed the manual, you will first be asked if you'd like to continue reading where you last left off.

Although moving through action menus and sets of instructions in the BrailleNote is relatively straightforward, we did find the inconsistency of methods somewhat disconcerting. In some instances, the space bar advances through a menu. In others, the Enter key is required. In some places, we were stuck for some time until we realized that the dots 3-4-chord (dots 3-4 with the spacebar) was required for going forward. On the other hand, help (the letter h plus the space bar) is available throughout BrailleNote's functions, and was generally useful and reliable.

You've Got Mail

One of the most appealing features of the BrailleNote is its capacity for sending and receiving E-mail, including messages from Windows-style accounts accessed using Microsoft's Outlook or Qualcomm's Eudora. The unit is equipped with an internal "soft" modem, as well as the option of connecting a PCMCIA modem or external modem to the serial port.

By switching over to the online user's manual, selecting Index and then KeyMail, we found step-by-step instructions for establishing a dial-up connection that were both easy to follow and effective. Within a very short time, we were able to attach the BrailleNote's modem connection cable to a phone line and hear the gratifying sounds of dialing and a solid modem connection through the BrailleNote speaker.

Although establishing the connection was refreshingly simple, it did take a bit of work to set up the system to send and receive mail. Once done, however, the E-mail capability of this notetaker is a real plus. The usual array of E-mail functions are available here—replying, forwarding, sending, and receiving attachments. We experienced difficulty, however, in copying E-mail messages to the external disk drive for transporting to another computer.

Taking Notes

Writing on the BrailleNote is a pleasant experience. The feel of the keyboard is solid, though the keys are noisy. BrailleNote does not drop letters or dots, even when you type very quickly. The presence of a Backspace key and an Enter key means faster typing and fewer multiple-key commands. Speech rate, pitch, and volume can be adjusted from the keyboard without using a menu.

Some of the BrailleNote's speech review and edit commands will be familiar to users of other notetakers. However, the BrailleNote's default is insert mode. So when you find a typo, you can simply type the correct character and it will be inserted on the spot. When you give the command to delete a sentence, paragraph, or other large block of text, the BrailleNote asks if you are sure you want to do that. This useful feature prevented us from deleting important information a few times.

The Key Announce feature lets you review BrailleNote commands quickly. The context-sensitive help is very effective in the word processor and throughout the BrailleNote. The spell checker works well; you can review the misspelled word with speech or braille and choose typical spell-checking options from a menu. The BrailleNote has a limited spelling dictionary and does not recognize many technology-related words, including its own name.

The BrailleNote can import and read Word 2000 and WordPerfect 5.1 files. There was a serious problem with the Save command during our testing, so we were unable to save files in formats other than the unit's default KeyBraille format. Files could be converted and exported in other formats through the file manager.

Block commands are easy to use and effective. It was surprisingly easy to copy a name and address from a file in the word processor and paste it into the address book. A handy feature is the "Read Block" command, which does just that. However, there is no indication on the braille display of where the text you have selected in a file begins or ends.

Getting the Word Out

It was simple to set the BrailleNote up to emboss and print documents. The BrailleNote's menus lead you through the process of establishing communication with your embosser or printer. The BrailleNote we tested came with a serial cable to connect to its standard serial port, and it worked with the parallel cables that came with our Port-a-Thiel embosser and HP laser printer.

The braille translator is problematic. It does some nonstandard things, such as leaving a space between the words "to" and "by" and the following word.

Planning Your Life

The KeyPlan planner lets you schedule, reschedule, and set alarms to remind you of appointments. You are simply asked to enter the day, time, and name of an appointment, and you are then asked whether or not you want to set an alarm to remind you of that appointment. Appointments are stored and can be reviewed, in chronological order by appointment, no matter what order you schedule them in.

Here, as in some other places in the BrailleNote, you access the Appointment menu by pressing the spacebar with dots 3 and 4, rather than with some more easily remembered command.

Little Black Book

The KeyList address list lets you maintain your phone book of contacts. Data entry is straightforward. The address list is used for the KeyMail function.

When we opened the KeyList menu and were instructed to "Look Up Address," we were perplexed and even speculated that this option might perform two functions. Extensive testing showed that its only function was to find someone's contact information in the address list.

Backing Up Your Work

Backing up your data is an essential function that we all promise ourselves we will do once we have lost a bunch of important files. The BrailleNote includes a backup utility that makes this process relatively painless. One 20-MB backup disk is included with the unit. Additional disks can be purchased at computer stores and must be preformatted, since the BrailleNote currently cannot format them. You place this disk in the disk drive, choose the Utilities menu, and choose Backup Files. As in a few other places, the BrailleNote then asks you an ambiguous question: "Do you wish to backup or restore files?" The answer here is not "yes" or "no." It is "B" for backup or "R" for restore. If you choose Backup, you are prompted for the drive and folder to be copied. The default is to store files in a folder with the current date as its title. Backing up and restoring both worked well.

Remote Possibilities

The BrailleNote can function as a speech synthesizer or braille display with a Windows-based screen reader that has the appropriate driver. We used it with Window-Eyes and it worked well in both capacities. It is still possible to look up a phone number or schedule an appointment while the BrailleNote is functioning in either of these modes. The unit did have a narcoleptic problem, however. While operating as a display or synthesizer, it "went to sleep" after a short time. It was necessary to hit a key to wake it up.

Braille Lite or Flight?

With only one other significant competitor in the braille-with-speech notetaker department, this review would be incomplete without a few comments regarding differences and similarities between the BrailleNote and the popular Braille Lite from Blazie Engineering/Freedom Scientific. The similarities, of course, are readily apparent.

The units are similar in size and weight. Both sport speech and refreshable braille displays. Although neither aspires to replace a full-blown computer, both offer a considerable array of capabilities in a very portable package. Specifically, both include word processing, appointment tracking, the ability to import and export files, and the capacity to load, store, and read entire books. Both enable the user to read files in either ascii text characters or Grade 2 braille.

There are, however, some significant differences. Most noticeable are the ability to type rapidly and the superior quality of speech. Listening to books or other lengthy documents with BrailleNote's speech is a considerably more comfortable experience than with the tinny squawk of the Braille 'n Speak line. On the other hand, in a classroom or meeting, the Braille Lite's virtually silent keys render the user relatively unobtrusive, whereas the BrailleNote keyboard has a decidedly "clacky" noise level. Touch cursors, a tremendous plus in reading and editing files, are available only on the larger 40-cell models of the Braille Lite. In the BrailleNote, touch cursors are present in both 18-and 32-cell models. Both Braille Lite and BrailleNote offer fairly simple interfaces for printing and embossing files. Only the Braille Lite offers a stop watch and the ability to display the time when powered on. Only the BrailleNote has an internal modem and quick, easy facility for sending and receiving Windows-style E-mail. Although both notetakers offer a calendar function, Braille Lite's Datebook function is painfully slow and cumbersome, and we found the BrailleNote's KeyPlan option refreshingly quick and efficient to access. Only the BrailleNote can import and read Word files and WordPerfect 5.1 files. The Braille Lite is available in many languages, including Spanish, French, and German, but the BrailleNote speaks and properly displays only English. The BrailleNote has standard ports and slots, but the Braille Lite's ports are proprietary.

Finally, of course, every notetaker shopper will want to compare prices. The Braille Lite 2000 (18-cell) costs $3,395, and the Braille Lite 40 2000 costs $5,495. The price for the BrailleNote 18 is $3,395, and the BrailleNote 32 costs $4,995.

Manufacturer's Comments

"Pulse Data International is working to fix the "save feature" and is working on a less noisy keyboard.

"Having a modern operating system on which to build a product makes all the difference, not just for today's product, but for the options that can be added. One example is the ability to use ActiveSync, which is a standard Microsoft utility that lets you easily exchange files from your PC. By plugging the BrailleNote into your PC, ActiveSync displays the BrailleNote as another disk drive, so moving, copying, and sharing files is as easy as accessing a floppy on your computer. The really exciting news is that BrailleNote's Windows CE platform marks the beginning of a technological revolution in our industry. At Closing the Gap, Humanware introduced the VoiceNote, which has all the same functionality of a BrailleNote, but without the braille display, and with your choice of either a braille keyboard or a QWERTY keyboard."

Product Information

Product: BrailleNote.

Manufacturer: Pulse Data International Limited; phone: 64 3 384 4555; E-mail: sales@pulsedata.com; Web site: www.pulsedata.co.nz. U.S. Distributor: HumanWare; 6245 King Road; Loomis, CA 95650; phone: 800-722-3393 or 916-652-7253; E-mail: info@humanware.com; Web site: <www.humanware.com>. Price: BrailleNote 18: $3,395 plus $45 shipping; BrailleNote 32: $4,995 plus $45 shipping.

Back to top

Product Evaluation

Is Technology Improving? Revisiting Four Video Magnifiers

Video magnifiers are changing. To see how much they are improving, we have revisited four models that were the subjects of earlier reviews by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). One magnifier, Optelec's ClearView 700, was reviewed in the March 2000 edition of AccessWorld. The other three—Vision Technology's Vision Excel, Pulse Data's Smartview CS, and the Clarity AF SVGA from Clarity Solutions—were first reviewed in AFB's Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. These four video magnifiers were chosen for evaluation because they offer computer compatibility and unique features not seen in other models. They are full-featured color video magnifiers that vary in price from $2,500 with a TV to $3,300 for the basic system, without a TV or computer monitor.

The manufacturers of the four models either have replaced an earlier version, attempted to improve it, or added a new model or models to their product line. But are they really improving? After evaluating these models we found that they are indeed better. The improvements varied for each product and included overall design changes; technical improvements, including the use of more advanced technology; more attention to ease of use and overall usability; and better contrast and resolution. These improvements are indicative of an industry trying to stay competitive. Although none of the full-featured video magnifiers reviewed here can be considered easily affordable by everyone, prices remain about where they were when we first evaluated them. Unlike personal computers, video magnifiers are produced in small quantities and dramatic price reductions are not a likely prospect.

Optelec's ClearView 700

Of the four video magnifiers, the ClearView 700 was evaluated most recently, in the early spring of 2000, when it was new to the market. The review appeared in the March 2000 AccessWorld. The ClearView 700 features several innovations, including wrist rests, a push-button auto-focus feature, and controls mounted on the x-y table. In our initial evaluation, which was performed on a pre-production model, we noted the lack of a platform over the camera on which a TV or computer monitor could be placed. As a consequence, when the x-y table was fully extended the unit had a tendency to tip forward.

Optelec has now included a streamlined monitor platform for the new ClearView 700. With this new design, even if a TV or computer monitor is not placed on the platform, the unit is still very stable. However, information about the new design did not appear in the manual. We had some questions about aspects of the new design, such as the purpose of an immoveable hand crank that is attached to the side of the monitor platform.

Another bug in the earlier ClearView 700 was that the lever that controlled x-y table movement did not work well. The lever now works as it should, offering easy control for locking the x-y table in a stationary position, giving the table full freedom, or limiting it to either side-to-side or back-and-forth movement. Also solved were two problems involving contrast and brightness: less contrast at the bottom of a document and smudginess around black letters on a white background. In addition, we criticized the early model for insufficient contrast for viewing photographs. The new model is noticeably improved with regard to viewing photos but could be better still. We also uncovered a slight distortion problem in the older model when we used the split-screen feature. When we opened a split-screen window for viewing camera images, the image of what was viewed was slightly flattened. This is still the case in the new model.

Optelec has improved the illumination for the ClearView 700's innovative red locator LED dot that shines on the x-y table to help locate where you are on the page. In the early model the light was not visible enough.

Manufacturer's Comments

"The new stand is a universal stand and the crank is nonfunctional when used to support a TV or monitor. That this information did not appear in the manual was an oversight, and it will be added to Optelec's manuals immediately.

"Optelec continues to work on improving contrast. We are also aware of the slightly flattened image problem in the split screen and are investigating various fixes."

Product Information

Manufacturer: Optelec USA; phone: 800-828-1056; E-mail: optelec@optelec.com; Web site: www.optelec.com. Price: $3,295 (monitor not included).

Vision Technology's Freedom Machine

Vision Technology's Freedom Machine is a new model, but it looks very similar to the Vision Excel, which was evaluated in the fall of 1999 and is still on the market. However, the Freedom Machine has new features, a simplified set of controls, is easier to use, and performs better. The biggest change is an auto-focus feature that automatically focuses the video camera on whatever is placed under it. Auto-focus can be turned off, locking the focus at the last setting. The auto-focus also provides a wider field of view and a greater range of magnification, both at the lower and upper limits. The other new feature is a freeze-frame capability, enabling the user to keep an image on the screen and remove the item being viewed from the x-y table.

The older Vision Excel has a variety of types of controls, and it takes practice to learn to use them. The controls on the Freedom Machine are all push buttons, and they are more intuitive.

The push buttons on both video magnifiers provide an audible beep to indicate that the button has been pushed sufficiently to activate the function. In response to the 1999 evaluation, Vision Technology corrected the problem of allowing contrast to be reduced to completely black, thus giving the appearance of being turned off. The Freedom Machine also has improved handling of color and reflective glare in photographs.

Manufacturer's Comments:


Product Information

Manufacturer: Vision Technology; phone: 800-560-7226; E-mail: vti@visiontechinc.com; Web site: www.freedom-machines.com. Price: $2,495 with 14 inch color TV or $2,795 with 20 inch color TV.

Pulse Data's Smartview Xtra

Unique to Pulse Data's Smartview video magnifiers are on-screen features that are controlled by an external keypad or keyboard. Both the Smartview CS, the computer-compatible model evaluated in the summer of 1999, and the Smartview Xtra, the new version, have the ability to split the screen between the camera and the computer. They both offer an on-screen calculator, calendar, and clock. To enable the split-screen feature in the older Smartview CS requires that the computer's video card be set at a resolution of 640 x 480 and a refresh rate of 60 HZ (standard VGA). Since newer monitors generally require different video card settings, you will likely have to change the settings in the Windows control panel, which can be a hassle. In response to our evaluation of the Smartview CS, Pulse Data promised that the Smartview Xtra would be "plug and play" and that a change in settings would not be necessary.

To test the plug and play feature of the Smartview Xtra we tried each available video card setting on a Gateway 2000 P5-75 with a S3Trio64V video card. We did this for resolution settings from 640 x 480 to 1280 x 1024; refresh rates of 56-90 Hz; and color settings of 16 color, 256 color, and high color (16 bit). Smartview Xtra recognized and worked as intended for all settings except one: resolution of 1152 x 864, refresh rate set at optimal, and color set at 256. At that setting we could not get the split-screen feature to work.

Manufacturer's Comments

"At a resolution of 1152 x 864 the Xtra will provide a split screen at 60Hz and 75Hz. The 'optimal' setting at which you could not achieve a split screen was likely to be a nonstandard refresh rate and/or greater than 75Hz."

Product Information

Manufacturer: Pulse Data International; phone: 888-734-8439 or 770-941-7200; E-mail: pdi_inc@mindspring.com; Web site: www.pulsedata.co.nz. Price: $3,195 (monitor not included).

Clarity Solutions CLARITY(AF) Classmate and CLARITY(AF) Travelmate

Clarity Solutions' auto-focus video magnifiers were evaluated in the spring of 1999. In addition to a standard "in-line" system, in which the display is placed on a platform above the camera, Clarity Solutions offers a "flex" system in which the camera is mounted on a positioning arm and the display is placed alongside the material to be viewed. In both configurations the camera housing is fixed to the x-y table, which also serves as the base.

Clarity Solutions' computer-compatible model had a particularly innovative feature—the ability to save an image in the Windows clipboard or as a graphics file. The feature worked well, but installing the software was difficult. This feature is no longer available in the computer-compatible model. However, a new laptop computer option, called CLARITY(AF) Capture-to-Go, does include the image-saving capability.

Clarity Solutions has introduced a "flex system"—new interchangeable modules to address portability and distance viewing. In the CLARITY(AF) Classmate the camera used in the flex system is now available with a moveable lens attachment. The lens is moved into place for near viewing and moved out for distance viewing. Portable display options include a flat-panel LCD display, a laptop computer interface, a head-mounted display, and rechargeable battery pack. If the x-y table is not needed, additional portability can be achieved in the CLARITY(AF) Travelmate. In this configuration the camera can be attached to either a portable stand on rollers or to a flex-type mount that can be attached to the table or desktop with either a clamp or a suction cup. A backpack for carrying the gear is also available.

Three visually impaired high school students tried out the Classmate and the Travelmate for a period of one month in AFB's Product Evaluation Lab and in a simulated classroom setting. Overall, they were very positive about the versatility and effectiveness of the various modules of the Classmate and the Travelmate. But they also reported some frustrations, most of which related to insufficient instructions, especially regarding wiring, hook-up, and assembly. The students also reported that the flex-arm was very effective in all of its configurations but that loosening the joints of the flex-arm was sometimes difficult.

The flat panel LCD display did not offer as much contrast as the students would have liked, but the head-mounted display did and they rated it highly. Their only negative reaction was that it became warm after about 20 minutes of use. Regarding distance viewing, the students compared the Classmate to a handheld telescope. Although the telescope was more convenient, the Classmate was much more effective because it maintains focus on the blackboard, and it offers both negative and positive polarity. Switching the head-mounted display from distance to near-viewing requires a few minutes to remove the display, set the camera for near viewing, and put the display back on.

Manufacturer's Comments

"We have begun implementing changes to address the recommendations suggested and will have them completed by fall 2000. These changes include a lighter, more portable head-mounted display, improved carrying cases, and simplified connections and instructions."

Product Information

Manufacturer: Clarity Solutions; phone: 800-575-1456; E-mail: clarity@clarityaf.com; Web site: www.clarityaf.com. Prices: Classmate: $2,345 (monitor not included), Travelmate: $2,445 (monitor not included), Flat panel display (10.4 inch): $995, Head-mounted display: $695, Battery pack: $300, Capture-to-Go (laptop connection): $495.

Tyler Kirk, Eva Ramirez, Bready Rodriguez, and Tu-Anh Vu, high school student interns funded through a grant from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, assisted with this article.

Back to top

Conference Reports

How Do We Communicate (with Assistive Technology)? Let Me Count the Ways

When we consider the ways in which technology has improved the quality of life for people with disabilities, communication is certainly a key item on most lists. The ease of E-mail has made communicating with colleagues and friends a more convenient affair for everyone, but particularly for those who find handling a pencil or locating a printed address a cumbersome or impossible task.

At the national conference of the American Association of Deaf-Blind (AADB) in early August, however, it was apparent that technology—blended with remarkable measures of ingenuity, creativity, and stamina—is perhaps nowhere such an essential player in making communication possible than in this group of individuals with dual sensory impairments.

The "delegates," as they are called, attending an AADB conference have a wide range of vision and hearing losses. Some are totally blind and hard of hearing. Some are totally deaf with limited vision. Many have Usher syndrome, the genetic condition combining degenerative vision loss from retinitis pigmentosa with hearing impairment. Some of these individuals hear with hearing aids and see with magnifiers, and others are totally deaf and totally blind. Some attendees have had dual sensory losses from infancy, and others have grown up with either blindness or deafness and have experienced the second disability later in life. Given this varied array of disability, it should come as no surprise that making speech understood by all is something of a challenge. The AADB conference organizers met that challenge with an assortment of technology and techniques that was both inspiring and impressive.

There were about 900 people in attendance at this year's AADB conference, held at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. About half of those were individuals with visual and hearing impairments, since the policy of AADB is that every delegate, if he or she asks, is provided with an SSP (support service provider). Many, of course, need assistance only occasionally, so many SSPs serve multiple functions or act as "floaters" in that they circulate, monitoring who seems to be in need of communication or orientation assistance.

Whether a session involved 30 people in a breakout workshop or 900 at the awards banquet, the communication scenario ran pretty much the same and with remarkable smoothness. If you have never been to such an event, relinquish all "traditional" communication settings as you know them and step into this fascinating connection extravaganza for a moment.

How It Works

Let's say that the speaker addressing the audience is both deaf and blind. She happens to communicate in American Sign Language. She signs to an interpreter, who then voices her presentation into a microphone. An infrared amplification transmitter is connected to the sound system which, from the microphone, amplifies her voice for those participants in the room who are wearing infrared receivers to pick up the sound. These particular assistive listening devices consist of a lightweight headset and a small receiver hung about the neck, with an infrared "bubble" that picks up the amplified signal.

Meanwhile, other sign language interpreters around the room are repeating in sign the lecture as spoken by the voicing "platform" interpreter for the benefit of small clusters of people whose vision makes it necessary for them to see the signing at very close range, perhaps two or three people gathered together around one repeat signer.

For individuals who are both totally deaf and blind, tactile sign language interpreters repeat the discussion directly, one on one, into their hands. That is, of course, except for the totally deaf and blind individuals who do not prefer tactile sign and who can glean much more of the conversation by having another individual sit across from them over a TeleBraille and type the discussion for reading on a refreshable braille display.

Some deaf people do not speak sign language, and some blind people do not read braille. In other words, more solutions are needed to reach all participants. For individuals who have grown up deaf and lip-reading, an interpreter might repeat the spoken words at close visual range for recognition. For those who prefer large print, text interpreters type the spoken discussion verbatim on computer keyboards, sending it in large type to 27-inch TV monitors. Deaf individuals with visual impairments draw near to read the text interpretation. Meanwhile, a smaller number of individuals might be reading the text typed directly to a computer monitor or TTY visual display.

Who's Talking Now?

All of these techniques are used for the delivery of a one-way presentation—one speaker whose words are delivered in a variety of methods to many listeners. When a member of the audience has a question or comment, more technology and techniques rise to the call. If a speaker communicates with his or her voice, a voice-over interpreter repeats the words into a microphone so that it will be picked up by the infrared listening devices. The typing interpreters indicate the new speaker by typing: "John Jones is speaking," followed by the comments and then a return to, "Mary Smith is now continuing to speak." The new comments are delivered in the same varied methods—signing in small groups, tactile signing one on one, infrared listening devices for amplified sound, TeleBrailles for braille verbatim text, and typing interpreters for verbatim printed text. Although this array of communication techniques sounds a bit chaotic, the reality is a smoothly run and fully accessible discussion.

Technology to the Rescue

There are no ordinary seating arrangements at an AADB conference. Indeed, the moving of chairs to see an interpreter, read lips, or get closer to a microphone or TV monitor or other device is all part of the charm of this warm and vibrant scene for interaction. Listening to one another and reading written language may seem, on the surface, to be what is missed by individuals who can neither see nor hear to full capacity. The reality is that rarely have I witnessed so much attentive listening to one another, in a profound sense, in any gathering of people—and technology has made much of it possible.

Back to top

Product Evaluation

It's Hard to Find Good Help These Days: A Review of Personal Data Assistants

Thanks to the generosity of the Verizon Foundation, the following product evaluation appears in this issue of AccessWorld:

You've seen these cute little devices. They fit in the palm of your hand and display phone numbers and other vital information. Your friends pull them out of nowhere at the dinner table and tap on them wildly when you tell them your new phone number. Your colleague down the hall, who used to be a disorganized mess, has suddenly become the most efficient person in the building. He pulls out his little device and runs off to an appointment every time you stop by.

The general name for these pocket-sized electronic organizers is personal data assistant (PDA). Most have touch screens on which the user taps with a stylus, and a few have built-in or optional keyboards. They are small enough to fit in a coat pocket and sometimes even a shirt pocket. Besides storing phone numbers, many have lots of advanced features, some resembling a full-featured computer.

There are a few devices on the market that might be classified as PDAs designed specifically for users who are blind. These special PDAs (some of which predate the mass-market devices) lack many of the features available in lower-priced general-market PDAs, but they have features blind users need and want, such as speech or braille output. We have not found any pocket-sized PDAs designed specifically for users with low vision.

For this Product Evaluation, we did not attempt to contrast devices for blind people with the mass-consumer-market devices. Instead, we looked at off-the-shelf products that might work for someone with low vision.

What to Look for

If you have low vision and are sifting through the sales and technical brochures for devices, hoping to find something you can use, here are some features to consider:

Large display. When we say large in the context of a pocket-sized device, we mean relatively less tiny than the others. These products, to be small enough to be stashed in a pocket, have to have cruelly small screens., High contrast. Many pocket-sized devices of any type have liquid crystal displays. These can be very small and still have clear letters, but the contrast possible on the best of them is too low for many users. Unlike a calculator or clock, a PDA often displays a comparatively large amount of data at once, and accurate reading is essential (try dialing a phone number when you can't tell 3 from 8 or 7 from 1)., User-controlled backlighting or brightness. There is a great deal of interplay between contrast and brightness. A user may find a combination that works well, then find that walking out into sunlight and trying to look at the appointment calendar is out of the question., Ability to enlarge the characters. Some users may be able to tolerate a certain amount of invisibility in the menus and icons of the PDA, but may find it essential to enlarge the phone numbers and E-mail messages themselves., Ability to set visual settings without vision. If a user needs to have white lettering on a black background and the maximum brightness and largest print size available in order to operate the device, can he or she set those options with the default visual settings turned on?, Ability to perform common tasks without vision. Buttons with dedicated functions for jumping into the phone list or appointment calendar cut down immensely on the visual load., Flexibility. No two users with low vision see the same way. A manufacturer could conceivably design a device with a large, high-contrast display, but without the ability to switch the display from dark-on-light to light-on-dark, it would be invisible to many users., Ability to change the colors of the display easily. This feature applies only to PDAs with color displays, of course. Colors can enhance the user's enjoyment of the device, but if the color selections all include low contrast or otherwise problematic color combinations, the device will be unusable to some users..

Touch Screens

Desktop computer users with low vision often spend an inordinate amount of time searching all over their 17-inch monitors for that pesky mouse pointer. Many PDAs come with touch screens as the main mode of input. For some users, touch screens can be an improvement over desktop-style mouse control of the device. With the touch screen the user needs to locate only the desired icon, not both the icon and the pointer. The disadvantage may be, however, that users must fit the pen-style stylus between the tiny screen and their faces in order to hit the mark. Some of the screens are visible only when viewed directly from the front, so tipping the screen or moving the head slightly can be enough to cause any user to lose sight of the target.

Before We Buy

To increase our chances of finding a device that would be usable by a person with low vision, we defined PDAs very broadly and set out to review the manufacturers' literature. Our criteria? The device must fit into a coat pocket, offer the ability to keep phone numbers in an organized fashion, include an appointment calendar (not simply a calendar to display the days of the month for reference), and allow at least simple note-taking capability. We hoped we might find a few devices with these minimal capabilities that would be usable by someone who might be able to read a normal computer screen under optimal conditions.

With this extremely generous scope of devices to consider, we tried to find devices with advertised high-visibility features. We did not find that manufacturers were generally proud of their displays. Few mentioned any ability to enlarge the print or adjust the contrast. A few did describe the display as large or bright. We found several of the Hewlett-Packard models had larger than typical displays.

What We Want

Although we were willing to accept almost anything we could stuff into a pocket that was more sophisticated than a felt-tip pen and bold line paper, we really had a much broader wish list. It should go without saying that people with visual impairments want all of the diverse features in a PDA that everyone else wants. We want to keep track of information and appointments, play games—and have fresh-squeezed lemonade at the push of a button! Ideally, we'd be able to check our E-mail and browse Web sites, although we recognize that the inability to carry a full-sized keyboard eliminates a lot of writing as a realistic possibility. (We also might not be able to have ice in the lemonade!)

Palm Pilot

One very popular type of PDA is the Palm Pilot, which comes in several models, ranging in price from around $150 to $450. Its close competitor and clone is the Handspring line of PDAs. The Palm Pilots have been the closest thing to a standard in such devices in this fledgling industry.

Palm makes a variety of handheld devices, some relatively large, but few have screens that exceed three inches. Most models have LCD displays, some with backlighting. This summer Palm released a color model.

Although some of the Palm models advertise "advanced LCD screen technology gives you razor-sharp viewing in dim light or bright sunlight," these displays are tiny and the characters on them are minuscule. Contrast is terrible at best.

So, you don't care so much about reading your notes. Can you write them? The basic Palm design is a device about 5 inches x 3 inches, nearly all of it occupied by the screen. Across the bottom of the device, below the screen, is a row of buttons. The buttons can be distinguished by touch, a big plus for Palm. Once the user has determined the functions of the buttons (these vary depending on the application), it is possible to do common tasks without looking at the buttons.

None of the Palm PDAs comes with a built-in hardware keyboard. Instead, a tap of an icon on the touch screen brings up a tiny on-screen keyboard, and the user taps on each character with a pen-shaped stylus to toss it into the note. A fair amount of eye-hand coordination is necessary, and users must be able to see two areas of the screen at once; the keyboard and the memo. If users are able to see the keyboard by pressing their noses to the screen (a bad idea, since touching the screen amounts to a click), they must then move their heads slightly to see the note taking shape, then move back into position to "type."

Palm sells an optional keyboard for some models. This device is small, but it is a huge improvement over tapping the on-screen keyboard with the stylus. Unfortunately, those nose-to-the-screen users will have to lie on the keyboard to read their work.

Pocket PC

The Pocket PC is a category of PDA that may be made by one of several manufacturers, including Hewlett-Packard and Compaq. The major defining characteristics are that they run Windows CE as their operating system and they include some or all of a line of Microsoft applications with "Pocket" in the name. The Pocket PC in its current incarnation is quite new, but we found it widely available in retail stores and catalogs.

This operating system and these applications significantly resemble the full-featured versions that users might run on their desktop computers. Users comfortable with Windows 98 and Microsoft Word, for example, will be taking notes on a Pocket PC in no time. Pocket PCs have a Windows desktop-style interface and applications and menus cascade and clutter the screen in the same way as those on a desktop computer.

For users with low vision, though, Windows CE might resemble Windows 98 just enough to be disappointing. Although our desktop computers have accessibility and display options that allow us to enlarge desktop icons and otherwise improve the visibility and usability of the computer, Windows CE does not. It does, however, offer several color schemes (for those Pocket PCs with color displays), two of which provide high-contrast options, one white on black, the other black on white.

For our example Pocket PC, we selected the Hewlett-Packard Jornada 690 ($840) because of its unusually large display. This device has a screen with a whopping 6 inch x 2.25 inch viewing area. It also had a hardware keyboard, which we found to be a big plus. Although the keys were small, it was possible to touch-type on it. The keyboard and "large" screen meant that this device was quite a lot larger than many of its competitors, but its clam-shell-style case meant that the screen and keyboard were nearly the same size and when closed, the Jornada stayed within our coat-pocket size limit. The default settings on the Jornada included a color scheme that was fairly low contrast and desktop wallpaper (the design that shows behind the little icons when the user doesn't have any particular programs filling the screen) that contained a large ad that obscured the view of the icons in the center of the screen. However, using sighted assistance we were able to switch the colors to a much more pleasant white on black scheme and to eliminate the wallpaper altogether, giving us a crisp black desktop with bright white, although tiny, icons.

The brightness and contrast controls were set using software. We would have preferred a button or slide so that we wouldn't have needed eyesight to make the adjustment. The window with the visual settings was brought up by tapping the top right corner of the touch screen with a finger, though, which was a big help. Unfortunately, once the window was on the screen, the changes in settings had to be made using a stylus on tiny icons on a cluttered screen.

Another difficulty with the Windows CE devices was that the tiny icons generally were not labeled with text. It has become commonplace on desktop computers to find that the user can simply hover the mouse over a mysterious icon and a short bit of text will appear on the screen to help identify the icon. Windows CE icons had no such "tool tips," so no amount of eyesight would reveal the significance of some of them.

One feature that attracted us to the Jornada was that it had built-in recording and playback capability. Even with the device closed, it could be used to record short notes. One button on the front edge was used for recording and another for playing back the last several recordings. Using software on the Jornada, the notes could be saved separately and they and other sound files could be played using the built-in speaker.

Although these sound features seemed like a nice addition (we thought we might at least be able to listen to music on the way to work), the absence of a headphone jack made the feature rather useless. Besides obvious privacy issues, the sound from the built-in speaker was very poor.

As we showed our adorable little Jornada to potential users with low vision or with lots of vision, we were surprised at how much delight it inspired. Its sleek purple case and Windows-style desktop made it a lot of friends. Several Palm Pilot users objected to the large size of the Jornada, and users with low vision were almost always disappointed after a few minutes trying to use the gadget.

The most common question we heard from users with low vision was "Can it run ZoomText?" Generally users speculated that speech or screen magnification programs could run on it. Alas, this is not the case.

The Sharp Wizard (Model OZ-770)

The Wizard, which we found for about $100, had the clam-shell-style case that allowed for a larger screen in a pocket-sized device. Unfortunately, the viewing area of this screen is only 2 inches by 4 inches. It has a typically low-contrast LCD screen. The contrast was adjustable, though, which was a help. This adjustment, to the great credit of Sharp, is done by a predictable set of button-presses, so if the current contrast setting makes the text invisible, it is possible to put it to rights. The screen also has a backlighting feature, which is turned on and off with the press of one button. The best contrast and brightness settings, however, made the screen readable only to people with very good vision.

In memos and the phone listing application, the Wizard has an option to make the text slightly larger. Combined with the brightness and contrast settings, it might be possible for some people with low vision to see their list of phone numbers.

The Sharp Wizard, in contrast with the higher-priced PDAs we looked at, does not have a touch screen. Instead, it has a series of buttons on either side of the screen and a little keyboard. Phone numbers and memos are entered by actually typing, a feature to look for if you can type without looking at the keys.

Shopping Tips

If you think you might have enough vision to enjoy using one of these organizers, there are a few things to watch out for besides the list of visual features already discussed.

Get your hands on the device before you buy it. It's easy to get a picture of the one you are interested in, but you need to be fairly particular about just how visible the screen really is. See how much you can tip the screen to one side or another and still read it. Hold it in daylight and office light and check if you can still see the screen.

Ignore speculation on the part of friends and salespeople that the text can be enlarged or that the device can be made to talk. If we had a nickel for every time we heard such a claim while shopping …

Consider selecting a device with a keyboard. If you know how to type, you'll be much happier with a keyboard, even though it does necessarily make the device larger.

If you find a pocket-sized device that makes lemonade, let us know!


Handspring, 189 Bernardo Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043; corporate phone: 650-230-5000; sales and ordering: 888-565-9393; Web site: www.handspring.com.

Hewlett-Packard, 3000 Hanover Street, Palo Alto, CA 94304-1185; phone: 650-857-1501; phone: 800-826-4111; Web site: www.hp.com/jornada.

Palm, 5470 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara, CA 95052; phone: 408-326-9000; Web site: www.palm.com.

Sharp, Sharp Wizard Organizer, TM20 Technical Support, 1300 Naperville Drive, Romeoville, IL60446; phone: 630-378-3590; Web site: www.mywizard.com.

Back to top


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.


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.

Back to top


November 9–11, 2000

4th Annual Rocky Mountain Collaborative Conference: Achieving New Heights with Assistive Technology.

Denver, CO.


Colorado Assistive Technology Project, The Pavilion, 1919 Ogden, Box A036-B140, Denver, CO 80218; phone: 303-864-5100; Web site: www.uchsc.edu/catp/Conference2000/confmain.htm.

November 13–15, 2000

ASSETS 2000: Fourth International Conference on Assistive Technologies.

Washington, DC. The conference is held in conjunction with the Association for Computing Machinery Conference (ACM) on Universal Usability 2000 (CUU).


Elliot Cole, Institute for Cognitive Prosthetics, 33 Rock Hill Road, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004; phone: 610-664-3585; E-mail: ecole@brian-rehab.com; Web site: www.acm.org/sigs/conferences/assets00.

November 15–17, 2000

Third Annual Accessing Higher Ground Assistive Technology in Higher Education Conference.

Longmont, CO.


Disability Services, University of Colorado at Boulder Willard Hall, Room 322, Campus Box 107, Boulder, CO 80309-0107; phone: 303-492-8671; fax: 303-492-5601; E-mail: dsinfo@spot.colorado.edu; Web site: www.colorado.edu/sacs/ATconference/atc2000.html#cinfo.

November 16–17, 2000

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Conference on Universal Usability (CUU) 2000.

Arlington, VA. The conference is held in conjunction with ASSETS 2000.


David Novick, Computer Science Department, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79968; phone: 915-747-5000; E-mail: novick@cs.utep.edu; Web site: www.acm.org/sigs/sigchi/cuu/.

January 11–13, 2001

Technology and Media Division of the Council for Exceptional Children (TAM) 2001: A Technology Odyssey.

Albuquerque, NM.


Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0001; phone: 606-257-2609; E-mail: meb@qx.net; Web site: www.tamcec.org.

January 24–27, 2001

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) 2001 Conference and Exhibition.

Orlando, FL.


ATIA, 526 Davis Street, Suite 217, Evanston, IL 60201; phone: 877-687-2842; fax: 847-869-5689; E-mail: ATIA@northshore.net; Web site: www.atia.org.

March 13–15, 2001

AccessAbilities 2001: Assistive Technology and Augmentative Communication Conference.

Hosted by William Paterson University. Wayne, NJ.


The Office of Continuing Education; phone: 973-720-2436 (for registration); Web site: www.accessibilities-2001.com. Vendors contact Thomas Caine; E-mail: Tom@CaineAssociates.com. Presenters contact Cathy Tamburello; E-mail: cattam@bergen.org.

March 19–24, 2001

California State University Northridge (CSUN) Conference on Technology and Persons With Disabilities.

Los Angeles, CA.


Center on Disabilities, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8340; phone: 818-677-2578; fax: 818-677-4929; E-mail: ctrdis@csun.edu; Web site: www.csun.edu/cod/conf2001/index.html.

March 31–April 5, 2001

CHI 2001: Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Seattle, WA.


CHI 2001 Conference Office, 703 Giddings Avenue, Suite U-3, Annapolis, MD 21401; phone: 410-263-5382; fax: 410-267-0332; E-mail: chi2001-office@acm.org; Web site: www.acm.org/sigchi/chi2001/.

May 1–5, 2001

Tenth International World Wide Web Conference (WWW1).

Hong Kong, China.


IW3C2, P.O. Box 12, CERN, CH-1211, Geneve 23, Switzerland; phone: 011-41-22-76-75005; fax: 011-41-22-76-77547; E-mail: iw3c2@cern.ch; Web site: http://www10.org.

June 1–5, 2001

Inclusion By Design International World Congress.

Montreal, Canada. The conference is hosted by the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work.


Inclusion By Design, Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work, 302-500 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5G 1V7, Canada; phone: 416-260-3060, extension 231, or 800-664-0925, extension 231; E-mail: info@ccrw.org; Web site: www.ccrw.org/ccrw/worldcongress/sum-eng.htm.

August 3–5, 2001

2001: A Technology Odyssey.

Sponsored by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). Pittsburgh, PA.


Mark Uslan, AFB, co-chair; phone: 212-502-7638; E-mail: muslan@afb.net. Barbara McCarthy, AER, co-chair; phone: 804-371-3661; E-mail: mccartbn@dvh.state.va.us.

August 5–10, 2001

HCI International 2001: Ninth International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction.

New Orleans, LA.


Kim Z. Gilbert, conference administrator, School of Industrial Engineering, Purdue University, 1287 Grissom Hall, West Lafayette, IN 47907; phone: 765-494-5426; fax: 765-494-0874; E-mail: kgilbert@ecn.purdue.edu; Web site: http://hcii2001.engr.wisc.edu/.

Back to top

AccessWorld, Copyright © 2002 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved.

Download the free AccessWorld appDownload the free AccessWorld app
Back Issues
Search AccessWorld
AccessWorld Alerts Signup
For Advertisers
Contact AccessWorld

Related Links

Using Assistive Technology
AccessWorld Appliance Accessibility Guide
Product Database for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
AFB Consulting
Orbit Reader 20 by Orbit Research. A low-cost Breakthrough for Refreshable Braille

Sprint Vision: Services for Consumers Who Are Blind Or Have Low Vision

Learn NVDA

HIMS New All In One Video Magnifier

Low Vision Simulators Plus VSRT (Pepper) Test LUV Reading Workbook

Foundations of Education, Third Edition

Exercise and Fitness Strategies for Older Adults

College Bound: A Guide for Students with Visual Impairments, 2nd Edition

The Why, When and How for Reading eBooks

College Bound: Practical Steps for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

AccessNote Accessible Notetaker App FREE on Android and iOS


NEW! iOS in the Classroom: A Guide for Teaching Students with Visual Impairments

Hope. Help. Connections for People with Vision Loss. VisionConnect FREE iOS app!
 End of advertising