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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 July 2001 Issue  Volume 2  Number 4
Talking Automated Teller Machine

Caption: Lori Scharff, who is blind, tries Citibank's new talking automated teller machine for people who are visually impaired.

In This Issue . . .

Editor's Page

Reviews of Two Low-Cost Specialized Web Browsers with Speech Output

Product Evaluations of IBM Home Page Reader and Connect Outloud from Freedom Scientific—Jay Leventhal, Koert Wehberg, and Joe Lazzaro

How to Get the Most Out of Assistive Technology Training

Lynn Zelvin

Money Talks: An Overview of Access to Automated Teller Machines

Deborah Kendrick

How Closed-Circuit Television Users Develop Computer Vision Syndrome

Alec F. Peck and Mark Uslan

Book Review of Word Wise 2000: An Intermediate Guide for Blind Users

Reviewed by Deborah Kendrick

AccessWorld News


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

Editor's Page

There is very little research available on the usability of assistive technology. AccessWorld's Product Evaluations focus on how well screen readers, notetakers, screen magnifiers, and other products perform the tasks they are supposed to perform. In contrast, usability research focuses on the user. It tries to answer questions dealing with how easy the product is to learn and use, the user's expectations of the product, whether the product meets those expectations, and whether the user would recommend the product to others.

This issue features the results of a survey conducted by Alec Peck, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Lynch School of Education, Boston College, and Mark Uslan on the effects of using closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems. This article discusses problems experienced by CCTV users that are similar to those experienced by nondisabled people who stare at computer monitors all day.

This issue also features AccessWorld's first article on assistive technology training. The article in this issue is the first in a two-part series that discusses how to choose a trainer, what you should do before the trainer arrives, and what you should and should not expect from the trainer. The author, Lynn Zelvin, is a former trainer for the Columbia Lighthouse and now Web Coordinator for the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB).

Koert Wehberg, an intern with AFB's Technology Program for the past two summers, worked with me on evaluating IBM's Home Page Reader 3.0 during his spring break from Hamilton College in western New York. Joe Lazzaro, of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind and author of books on assistive technology, evaluated Connect Outloud, a lower cost version of JAWS for Windows that works with Internet Explorer, Microsoft's Outlook Express e-mail program, and a simple word processor from Freedom Scientific. Both programs are aimed at beginners, including older people who are interested in web browsing and e-mail.

Deborah Kendrick's article on automated teller machines provides an overview of talking automated teller machines (ATMs)—how they were developed, where they are and will be located, and the advocacy efforts that helped to convince banks to install them. Do you use talking ATMs? Write to AccessWorld and share your experience with those of us who still have to wait in line at the bank for a teller or customer service person. Kendrick also reviews Word Wise 2000: An Intermediate Guide for Blind Users, produced by National Braille Press.

The June issue of AccessWorld Extra—the e-mail version we send out in the six months in which AccessWorld is not published—featured comments, letters, and questions from you, our readers. Don't miss the August issue, which will contain news about new products we learn about at the American Council of the Blind's and National Federation of the Blind's annual conventions. To be added to the AccessWorld Extra list, send a message to accessworld@afb.net with the word "subscribe" in the subject line and include the name or account number to which your regular edition of AccessWorld is mailed in the body.

Jay Leventhal

Editor in Chief

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Product Evaluation

Reviews of Two Low-Cost Specialized Web Browsers with Speech Output

The World Wide Web continues to increase in importance as more of the applications that we use at home and at work become web based. Current examples of web-based applications include Microsoft's MSN Explorer, Napster, and the latest version of PeopleSoft's human resources suite. In the near future, many business applications from Microsoft will also be web based. We will be working on the web all day and using the web for recreation after work hours. So, it is essential to have a variety of assistive technology choices for using the web.

In this Product Evaluation, we review IBM Home Page Reader and Connect Outloud from Freedom Scientific, two low-cost programs that provide access to the web. The programs were not compared directly with each other and were rated on a scale of 0 to 5 as follows:

0 No access; the equivalent of a sighted person with no mouse and the monitor turned off.
1 Little access; the program gives users an idea of what is going on but little opportunity to function well.
2 Less than adequate access, with much room for improvement.
3 Good access but a definite need for improvement.
4 Very good access, with minor improvements expected in the future.
5 Access as good as a sighted person has with a mouse and a monitor.

Home Page Reader 3.0

IBM Home Page Reader (HPR) is a self-voicing web browser. In previous versions, HPR depended on Netscape Navigator to assist in connecting to web pages and in downloading files. HPR 3.0 instead uses some resources from Microsoft's Internet Explorer for Internet settings, communications, and security warnings. Internet Explorer 5.5 is included on the HPR CD.

The HPR window is divided into several sections, such as the address bar, status bar, and history list, as well as a graphics and text view of the page. These sections make it easy to locate information in a quick and timely manner. HPR can send text to refreshable braille displays. However, there are no HPR drivers for braille displays. So, it is necessary to have a screen reader running with speech turned off for your display to get the information it needs.

HPR was tested on a Pentium III 800 with 128 MB of memory under Windows 98. IBM's ViaVoice software synthesizer was used.

Getting Started and Getting Help: Rating 3

HPR's Help file is displayed in the form of a web page. Each topic in the table of contents is a link so you can easily move through the items. There is a step-by-step tutorial, which does a good job of acquainting beginners with HPR as well as certain Internet constructs, such as forms and controls. The online documentation is too fragmented and required us to hunt for some information. The first option for technical support is currently an electronic discussion group. This option will be difficult for beginners, even though there is an option on HPR's Help menu from which you can join the group.

HPR's command structure has been improved greatly. In the previous version, HPR commands used the PC numeric keypad and were not standard Windows commands. HPR 3.0 uses standard commands, such as Control-O to open the dialog box for entering a web address and Control-F for the search command. The arrow keys are also used extensively to navigate a web page. The left, down, and right arrow keys are used to read the previous, current, and next item on a page.

HPR's default Reading mode allows you to move from item to item. You can also read a page by moving by word, links, forms, headings, or tables; or you can simply read the page with the arrow keys, as you would in a word processor. There are commands to skip through blocks of links to the new text on a page. You can also skip to forms, controls, and tables. HPR now uses standard Windows menus to save files, cut and paste, add favorites, and change settings. Individuals who prefer using the numeric keypad layout from previous versions can continue using it if they so choose.

Browsing a Simple Web Page: Rating 4

Basic text pages such as those from the New York Times www.nytimes.com performed very well. HPR allows you to toggle among the address bar, status bar, and graphic and text layouts of the page. The graphics layout represents what the page would look like to a sighted person. HPR synchronizes the cursor so you can see the text as it is spoken. The text layout is HPR's r[[Endering of the page, which may include the graphics if the graphics setting is chosen. You can display a links list, which also identifies forms and controls. Typing the first letter of a link or item in this list box will allow you to jump directly to it. HPR indicates links, visited links, and document headings through voice changes, sound effects, colors, and font changes.

Browsing a Complex Web Page: Rating 4

HPR now supports Javascript, thus making it possible to use online banking sites and e-commerce. On Chase Manhattan Bank's web site www.chase.com, a difficult site to navigate, we were able to sign up for online banking and log into an account more easily than with a screen reader. HPR uses Internet Explorer's Control-Tab keys to move among frames. Unlike with screen readers, you must either hit Control-Tab to move to the next frame or bring up the frames list. HPR also supports images with and without alternate text. This feature allows you to examine links and graphics. You can choose whether you want to view images with or without alternate text in the settings menu.

Downloading Files: Rating 4

HPR 3.0 fully supports file downloads. It reads all the options in the dialog box that appears when you try to copy a file from a web page onto your hard drive or disk. It also will now speak in RealPlayer, Winamp, and throughout the downloading process. This ability allows you to view and change the details of the download. HPR was the first to give direct access to Adobe Acrobat's PDF files, which are often used for government documents and for magazine articles. HPR accesses the Internet-based PDF-to-HTML converter on Adobe's web site so you can view a PDF document the same way you would view text on a regular web page.

E-commerce: Rating 4

At www.amazon.com, we were able to search for, select, and purchase books and CDs. HPR's powerful search function lets you search both the current web page and the Internet using the search engine of your choice; the same dialog box also allows you to add a search engine from the same dialog box. When we became familiar with the layout of the page at www.cdnow.com, we were able to search for the Beginning of each CD's description and skip all the extraneous information above it.

Reading Tables: Rating 4

HPR has added functions to its powerful Table-reading feature. You can now use the table navigation mode to read through columns and rows by using the Control, Shift, and arrow keys. This feature makes it possible to read complex tables, such as airline schedules and sports statistics. On Delta Airline's web site www.delta.com and ESPN's web site www.espn.com, we were able to browse arrival and departure schedules and baseball statistics with little difficulty. In simple tables, you can use the Item-reading mode to navigate. On Amtrak's web site www.amtrak.com, you can use the Item-reading mode to browse train schedules with no difficulty. HPR has added a Table-jump command that allows you to skip tables while reading a web page. This command is useful when there is more than one table on a page.

Forms and Controls: Rating 4

Filling out forms was easy. To do so, press Enter before inputting text and then choose OK to exit HPR's Text entry mode. Then press the Submit button to complete the form. Although HPR has added a Forms-reading mode, you can either use the Tab key or the links list to navigate through list boxes and select menus, or press Control-down arrow to skip the form.

In addition to U.S. and British English, HPR supports French, Spanish, German, Italian, Finnish, and Brazilian Portuguese. If you set it to automatically recognize the language of each web page, HPR will change to the appropriate language on the fly. As with screen readers, HPR continues to read messages such as "links list" and "end of select menu" in its default language.

Last Words

HPR 3.0 is a powerful tool for browsing the web. At the time of this evaluation, HPR was the leader in reading tables, searching the web, and reading in different languages. The inclusion of HPR Mailer and its ability to read NotePad, WordPad, Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, WinAmp, and most of the Windows control panel makes it a good, inexpensive choice for people who are mainly interested in surfing the web and e-mail. Because of how much it does automatically, it can also serve as a tool for companies and government agencies interested in testing the accessibility of their web sites.

Product Information

Product: Home Page Reader 3.0

Manufacturer: IBM Accessibility Center; Building 901, Internal Zip 9171, 11400 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78758; Phone: 800-426-4832 or 512-838-4598; E-mail: guidoc@us.ibm.com; Web site: www-3.ibm.com/able/hpr. Price: CD-ROM $149; download $129. $50 rebate available through August 31, 2001.

Connect Outloud

Connect Outloud is a speech- and braille-based web access utility that provides access to web browsing, e-mail, and word processing. Although Connect Outloud is not being marketed as a screen reader in the traditional sense, it does have many features you would find on typical screen access products. However, it works only with Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Explorer, WordPad, NotePad, Calculator, and the Windows Control Panel. The package also lets you navigate through the Windows operating system, including the Start menu, Task Bar, and Desktop.

Since Connect Outloud is aimed at beginners, it does not include many of the customization features of its close relative JAWS for Windows. For example, there is no scripting language or configuration manager, so you can't tailor the product to work with unruly applications. The package also does not include a graphics labeler, so you can't add speech or braille labels to unlabeled icons. If you are familiar with the JAWS screen reader, you'll notice that many of the commands are exactly the same, making it a simple transition from one product to another.

Connect Outloud was tested on a 200 MHZ Pentium, and an 833 MHZ machine. Each of the systems had a minimum of 64 MB of memory, a Sound Blaster Live sound card, and Windows 2000 Professional. It was tested with Internet Explorer 5.5 and Outlook Express 5.0.

Getting Started and Getting Help: Rating 4

Connect Outloud comes bundled with braille and printed manuals and a single CD-ROM disk. The installation program starts the Eloquence speech engine, which walks you through the installation phase.

No problems were encountered with the installation. The installer lets you customize options like selecting a braille display, setting speech rate and volume and start-up options, and adjusting the level of help. Connect Outloud also has a free demonstration version that you can download from the Freedom Scientific web site at www.freedomscientific.com.

Connect Outloud has a useful Tutorial mode. The software can recognize objects such as dialog boxes, buttons, and other controls and tell you how to manipulate them. Connect Outloud also tells you how to operate standard Windows control objects from the keyboard, such as how to use the spacebar to select an object. The Eloquence speech engine can be set to provide different voices when presenting tutorial or screen information.

Reading Simple and Complex Web Pages: Rating 4

Connect Outloud supports the standard Windows keyboard commands for browsing through web pages, as well as several commands that let you read web pages in several different units. For example, the Tab key and Shift-Tab keys move you forward and backward through all the links found on the page. You can also use the arrow keys to move up and down one line at a time or use the Page Up and Page Down keys to move in screen-sized segments. The Insert-down arrow command lets you read from the cursor to the end of the window or page, which is useful for reviewing larger chunks of information. As you would expect, Control-Home takes you to the top, and Control-End takes you to the bottom of the page.

Connect Outloud also lets you collect all the links found on a page into a list using the Insert-F7 keystroke. This option is faster than using the Tab key to move from link to link, and it allows you to quickly scan down a long series of links. In the same manner, Insert-F9 brings up a list of frames.

When browsing a page that has a long list of links followed by text, you can use the Insert-Enter command to move beyond the links list and go directly to the text you are looking for. This command tells Connect Outloud to search for any nonlink text that is over 25 characters. Although much needed, this command does not always work, but when it does, it's handy.

For simple pages, few problems were encountered, but glitches were found with web sites that failed to comply with the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Pages that were in compliance with the guidelines worked the best. Most screen readers and speech-enabled web browsers are able to deal with pages that follow the guidelines.

Filling Out Forms: Rating 4

Web pages with online forms are commonplace, and the ability to access them is critical. A handful of sites that use forms were tested: the amazon.com online storefront and the google.com and hotbot.com search engines. Connect Outloud includes a forms mode that helps you locate and navigate through elements in forms. Control-Insert-Home takes you to the first form element found on the current web page. This form element can be an edit box, list, or other object. You can then press the Enter key to activate Forms mode and lock onto the control object. When you press Enter, Connect Outloud says "Forms mode on." You can then use the Tab or Shift-Tab keystroke to move either forward or backward on the form. You can use the Insert-F1 command to find out more information about the current control and other controls that belong to the form and how to activate and manipulate them.

Connect Outloud's Forms mode is useful for locating and filling out form elements on the web. But its tendency to change the state of controls that you land on can be confusing until you get used to it. For example, if you land on an unchecked check box when you activate Forms mode, that check box automatically gets checked simply by landing on it in Forms mode. When you've finished filling out the form, you can deactivate Forms mode by hitting the Control- Insert-Plus keystroke. Clearly, the Forms mode is an important feature, but it didn't always work. When it failed, the page could be reloaded for another try, but that was no guarantee of success.

Reading Tables: Rating 4

Tables are a common feature of many web pages and applications, and the ability to deal with them effectively is mandatory. Connect Outloud has a set of commands that lets you navigate through tables encountered in a variety of applications on the web, HTML-based help systems, and HTML-formatted e-mail messages. The commands all use the Control-Alt keystroke in combination with one of the numeric keypad keys. Each of the commands moves the focus to the desired cell and verbalizes its contents. The commands include Say current cell, Say right cell, Say left cell, Say cell below, Say cell above, Say first cell, and Say last cell. These commands are useful for moving around small- to medium-sized blocks of information. Like the Forms mode, this is another mandatory feature, but it also didn't work all of the time. Some of this dysfunctionality is a result of pages that are not in compliance with the World Wide Web Consortium's Guidelines on Web Accessibility.

Downloading Files: Rating 4

If you need to download a file from the Internet, you can use the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) command from within Internet Explorer. The syntax is ftp//ftp.site-name.com. Internet Explorer was used to FTP to a directory on an Internet service provider. After typing in the user name and password, the directory listing came up in Internet Explorer. The arrow keys move you through the file list to select a file for downloading. The Copy to directory command from Internet Explorer's Edit menu lets you download a file to a folder on a hard drive or disk.

Reading and Writing E-mail: Rating 4

In the e-mail program Outlook Express, you can use the arrow keys to move up or down one line at a time within mail messages and the Tab and Shift-Tab keys to move forward and back through embedded links. If you receive an e-mail message with a series of web links, you can display those links in a list using the Insert-F7 keystroke. Because managing attachments is so important, Connect Outloud provides a hotkey that lets you move directly to the attachments list. No problems using OutLook Express with Connect Outloud in general were encountered.

Supported and Nonsupported Applications

Although Connect Outloud is not being marketed as a screen reader in the traditional sense, it does have many of the features you would find in such products. The way Connect Outloud differs from more traditional general-use screen readers is that it only works with a limited number of applications, and you can't customize it to work with nonsupported applications.

Connect Outloud works only with Internet Explorer, OutLook Express, Windows Explorer, Notepad, WordPad, Calculator, Control Panel, and basic Windows navigation.

If you try to run a nonsupported application, Connect Outloud issues a descending musical tone, and speech and braille output is terminated while that application has the focus. You can get out of the nonsupported application by hitting the Alt-F4 keystroke to shut down the application and return to the desktop. You can also use the Insert-Spacebar command to bring up a list of supported applications currently running. You can use the arrow keys to select one of the supported applications, and press Enter to bring that application to the focus with speech or braille output restored.

Word Processing: Rating 4

Connect Outloud comes bundled with a simple word processor, FS Editor. It includes a spell checker, which is missing in Windows NotePad and WordPad. FS Editor is not as extensive as Word or WordPerfect, but it does let you create documents and save them in a variety of formats, including text, MS-DOS text, Rich Text, and Word 6.0. The spell checker worked well, which is no surprise, as this application was written specifically with speech and braille users in mind. FS Editor can read Word 2000 files, but it cannot save them back to their original format. You can only save files as Word 6 documents.

Last Words

All in all, Connect Outloud was robust and responsive. It is priced lower than full-blown screen readers, and its price will appeal to many consumers. When you consider that most full-blown screen readers sell for between $500 and $1,000, Connect Outloud may be much more attainable for many consumers. Connect Outloud would make a good introductory product for someone starting off with a new computer, who might later upgrade to a more powerful product. But, alas, Freedom Scientific does not yet have a policy to allow customers to upgrade to the full-blown JAWS screen reader. Perhaps Freedom Scientific will institute an upgrade policy at a later date if customer feedback is forthcoming. The ability to upgrade may be necessary for those who grow beyond Connect Outloud's capabilities after using the product for some time.

Connect Outloud is not a full-featured screen reader, but one concern is that some organizations might provide Connect Outloud in place of a more powerful product merely to save money, convinced that it is just as powerful and flexible as a general-purpose screen reader. Before you purchase any adaptive product, it is important to obtain a thorough evaluation from a qualified assistive technology specialist to determine if the product will meet your needs fully.

Connect Outloud remains a useful product for consumers who don't need all the bells and whistles found on the most powerful screen readers. For users who are mainly interested in web browsing, electronic mail, and word processing, the product speaks well for itself.

Product Information

Product: Connect Outloud

Manufacturer: Freedom Scientific, Blindness and 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: Sales@hj.com; Web site: www.freedomscientific.com. Price: $249.00.

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Trainers' Corner

How to Get the Most Out of Assistive Technology Training

I have been training people who are blind or visually impaired to use computers and assistive technology since the early 1990s. During that time, it has been common to arrive at clients' homes or workplaces and find that the technology on which I was hired to train them is not working in some capacity. We then typically spend some or all of the time allocated for training attempting to make the technology work.

What can be done about this situation? In this article, I will describe the steps that computer users should take before the trainer ever arrives, to optimize the training time available. In a future article, I will explore some issues and options that may help clarify the roles of different technology support people and how consumers can best have their needs met and protect themselves from lost time, money, and the attendant frustration that can be so common.

Choosing Equipment

If you don't have a computer system yet, you have a process to go through before you can sit down for training. You may decide to research the products you need first, purchase them separately, and hire someone to help you put the system together. Or you may decide to find a company that can help you choose a system and set it up for you. I have included a list of tips for choosing such a system vendor later in this article. In either case, you will want to get in writing what the vendors promise to do, what your recourse is if the system does not meet those specifications, and what kind of follow-up support the vendors offer.

Setting Up Your Computer System

If you are a computer novice, you may save yourself a lot of grief by buying a computer from a specialized system vendor who will set up the system for you, including installing and configuring your access technology. Alternatively, you would do well to hire someone to set up the system for you. If you are going to do it yourself with help from friends, make sure the friends have the necessary skills and will apply the same standards to the finished product as you would expect from a professional.

In the following list of suggestions, I have borrowed some of the recommendations from an article entitled "Finding a Reputable Computer Reseller" on the Better Business Bureau's web site http://www.bbb.org. I have greatly modified the suggestions to address specific issues facing access technology users and the companies that provide specialized services to us.

Tips for Buying

  • When shopping for a system vendor or technical support service, be sure to record the salesperson's name and the date of your conversation in case a discrepancy arises later concerning the equipment and service you had expected to receive.
  • Check references. Your best resource may be recommendations from people you know who are happily using the systems they purchased from the system vendor or had set up by the technical support person in question. If you don't have this resource, ask for a list of satisfied customers to contact.
  • Find out how much experience the vendor has working with blindness and low vision technology. If you are going to get the vendor's assistance in choosing access products, ask: Do the staff have the sort of knowledge necessary to make these recommendations? For example, if you are purchasing screen-enlarging software, does the vendor have someone on staff with expertise in low vision who understands the issues that affect different people with different eye conditions? If they are recommending braille displays, does anyone there actually use that technology?
  • Beware of conflicts of interest. If you need help choosing a system, make sure the system vendor or technical support person is not a vendor for only one product in each category, or you will be more likely to get those products, rather than the ones that are best for you. If there is a conflict of interest, you may decide to use a particular vendor for purchasing and setting up the system but to seek your recommendations for which products to buy elsewhere.
  • Find out what is included in system set-up: Will the vendor install your application software, screen reader or screen enlarging software, and configure them so that everything works together? Will the vendor install peripherals such as printers and scanners? If you obtain an Internet service provider ahead of time, will the vendor set that up also? Will he or she provide a list of what was done to the system—in an accessible format?
  • Find out if the company offers postsales support. If you purchase a system set up for you, will the vendor actually set the system up in your home if he or she is local? Will you receive help configuring Internet access or other applications if you purchase them later?
  • For nonlocal vendors, find out if they will talk you through your end of putting the system together over the phone and provide instructions in a format that is accessible to you.
  • Ask about technical support. If you use a vendor who puts together complete systems, will the vendor support the system with in-house personnel or outside sources, and what is the cost of that support?
  • Ask what recourse you have if there is a problem with the system. Will the vendor fix or replace parts that don't work together for whatever reason? Will the vendor provide a loaner system while yours is being worked on or come to you to fix the problems during hours you are available?
  • Find out if the company offers extended warranties on the entire system.

Before the Trainer Arrives

Once you have your system in place, there are some things you should check on before the trainer arrives. First of all, you should be able to turn on the computer and hear a spoken message, get words, even if they are meaningless on your braille display, or see the enlarged view on your monitor. You need to be able to plug in your computer and all its parts and turn them on. It is reasonable to expect whoever sets the system up to show you how to do this. If it comes to you set up but in separate boxes by mail, you should expect the company you bought it from to either include good instructions (in an accessible format) for how to put it all together or to talk you through the cabling, plugging in, and turning on over the phone. If you wait for the trainer, you miss a chance to troubleshoot ahead of time.

You will also need to get the key sequence for shutting down the computer. In Windows this involves about four keystrokes, but there is nothing intuitive about it. Write it down and be sure you can do it before letting the support person off the phone. There can be consequences if you don't do it right.

If your system does not provide speech, braille, or magnification output as needed, it doesn't necessarily mean that the computer is not working. Tell the person who sets up the computer about whatever accessible output you need.

The next best thing you can do is to start working through the manual or tutorials that come with your access software. They all have something. Screen readers all have tape manuals. Yes, you are about to pay for a trainer to come teach you all this, but just the process of pressing some of the keys and making sure the right thing happens may help you identify whether there is a problem that can be solved before the trainer comes.

Put together a list of all the products you are now using, both hardware and software. The list should have model numbers, serial numbers, and the contact and technical support numbers for the manufacturers. This list could be requested from whomever set up your system, but if it wasn't, do your best to get someone to help you compile it yourself. If your trainer does need to call someone about a problem, that person will probably want the serial number of the product in question, and having this information readily available will save considerable time. If neither you nor the trainer have the sight to get the information, you may really be stuck without this list, especially if the problem is that your computer isn't talking. It will also be a valuable document if your system is stolen.

Register all products that require registration. Usually, if you have the phone number you can get the company to register the product over the phone, even if it means explaining you are blind and therefore cannot fill out the accompanying post cards. Many software products have online registration forms that pop up during installation. This would be another good thing to get the person doing the set up to take care of.

Drop That Mouse!

Don't let anyone else on your system between the time it is set up and the time the trainer arrives. The most extreme story about what can happen came from a colleague of mine whose son used the computer to download viruses for a collection he was starting. She spent the training time cleaning 19 viruses off the computer. More commonly, a friend comes over who says he or she can download some great new upgrade to your Internet web browser or e-mail program. The person then proceeds to inadvertently drag something out of the way using the mouse. Later, your screen reader can't find the moved item, or the upgrade is less accessible to a screen reader than the previous version was. From a trainer's perspective, it is better to spend time downloading an upgrade than to spend more time fixing the problems caused by someone else's download.

Now you are ready for training! The next issue of AccessWorld will give you tips about how to best use the trainer's time and expertise once he or she arrives.

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Access Issues

Money Talks: An Overview of Access to Automated Teller Machines

It was a Sunday afternoon in 1995 when I desperately needed cash for an upcoming event and was nowhere near the single automated teller machine (ATM) whose keypad and sequences I had memorized. My daughter was six years old and a gifted reader.

"You'll have to read the screen to me," I told her, on our walk to the ATM whose location I had learned from a few inquiries to people in the area. But the ATM was higher than a six-year-old's eye level, and I had to lift her up after each step of the simple transaction was executed. More than once, our responses were too slow, and that machine made that unmistakable error sound, repetitious beeping, as it spit my card back out of the slot bearing the braille label "Insert card." Eventually, the transaction was completed, but along with the cash in my hand, I walked away with no small amount of aggravation.

Blind people around the country have many such stories to tell. We have asked strangers to enter our private PINs (personal identification numbers), have inadvertently entered $200 when we wanted only $20, and have been outsiders looking in at the convenience of transferring funds from savings to checking, depositing money in our own accounts, or reading the account balance appearing on that printed receipt withdrawn from the silent machine.

History of Accessible ATMs

As early as 1982, Diebold Inc., an ATM manufacturer, was consulting with Jeff Moyer, then rehabilitation director for the Cleveland Society for the Blind, on braille key set designs for automated teller machines. Conversations began at that time about the feasibility of machines that would verbalize text and were abandoned for a variety of reasons, including, as Moyer puts it, "patronizing concerns such as blind customers being vulnerable to others observing their transactions."

Following the passage of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, thousands of ATMs around the country appeared with varying amounts of braille on them. Some had braille numbers on the keys and braille identifying such key points as where to insert the card, withdraw the cash, or remove the receipt. Some even had panels of explanation outlining the sequence of steps for making a cash withdrawal. Since January 1992, Access Guidelines required that at least one machine at each location offer "instructions and all information for use" to be made "accessible to and independently usable by persons with vision impairments."

Although the addition of braille, therefore, was a good faith approach on the part of the banking industry to comply with the law in making machines accessible to blind customers, the results were less than favorable. Certainly, the ability to orient oneself independently to the layout of keys on an ATM was a step beyond complete inaccessibility. Unfortunately, simply marking keys with static information still precluded the interactive operation ATMs were designed to facilitate. Screen prompts appearing on the visual display guide sighted customers through any transaction, and this information remained completely unavailable to blind customers. Even for those customers who memorized the sequence of a particular machine, withdrawing cash was the only function possible.

The problem, in part, stemmed from interpretation of the law. Even though the ADA dictated that banks render ATMs independently usable by blind and visually impaired customers, there was no definition of what form that independent access would take. It has taken time and a remarkable organized advocacy effort to develop a more satisfactory solution.

The solution, after considerable hard work on the part of many individuals, has been to make the machines talk. Providing a verbal translation of the visual screen information is now making independent banking possible for the blind and visually impaired users of about 300 ATMs around the United States, and the number is growing. It should come as no surprise, however, that the solution has taken many forms and is very much a work in progress.

How a Talking ATM Works

In March 2001, while attending the CSUN "Technology and Persons with Disabilities" conference in Los Angeles, I took a cab to a nearby Bank of America after banking hours to have my first look at a talking ATM. Equipped with only my own ATM card and a common earphone, I approached the machine. Locating the universal earphone jack, I plugged in and immediately heard a welcome message. The human voice gave me a quick orientation to the braille-labeled keypad and instructed me to find the braille-labeled point for inserting my card. Throughout the transaction, I was prompted by the human voice scripts to select withdrawal from checking or savings, was informed where the desired keys were located, and heard my transaction confirmed each step of the way. On completion, the voice directed me to the spot on the machine where cash could be removed and I could collect my receipt. As Peggy Martinez, a California-based singer and technology trainer, so aptly summed it up: "It was incredible that I had to wait till I was 40 years old to deposit or withdraw money from my own bank account for the very first time, but doing it was an absolute thrill!"

The particular machine I used apologized at transaction's end for not having account balances available verbally at this time. It also apologized for the $1.50 surcharge to my account, since I am not a Bank of America customer. As many AccessWorld readers can probably understand, no apologies were needed!

Emergence of Talking ATMs

In October 1999, the first talking ATM in the United States was installed by the San Francisco City Credit Union in San Francisco's City Hall. Prior to that installation, however, agreements were already being finalized with Wells Fargo and Citibank in California, whose voice-equipped machines began appearing up and down the state of California over the course of the next year. T- Base Communications, which had been making machines that talk for the Royal Bank of Canada since 1997, was a tremendous source of information. Since the installation of that first machine in the United States, agreements have been made with Bank of America—the largest national banking company to commit to talking ATMs at this point—for installations throughout California and Florida and a plan of installing talking machines in 14 other states over the next five years. Similar agreements have resulted in installation by Fleet Bank of Boston throughout Massachusetts and neighboring states and, most recently, Bank One Corporation unveiled 30 talking ATM locations in Ohio and Illinois. The combined agreements at this point promise thousands of ATMs in various locations around the country by the end of 2003.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the agreements to date has been that they have occurred without litigation. No one has sued anyone. California-based disability rights attorneys Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian have worked cooperatively, on behalf of blind individuals and three consumer-based blindness organizations, to develop agreements with each of the above-named banking companies. In each instance, the agreement has included a commitment, with dates, to install a specified number of voice- equipped ATMs, to deliver banking information to blind and visually impaired customers in alternative formats, and to work toward accessibility of bank web sites. It warrants noting that the efforts of these attorneys have not gone unnoticed. Dardarian and Feingold were awarded an American Foundation for the Blind Access Award in March 2001 and were named among the top 100 lawyers in their state by California magazine for their innovative work on behalf of blind and visually impaired banking customers.

More Than a Simple Plug-in

The talking ATM is as complex as its history. As Kelly Pierce, a Chicago-based disability rights activist who has worked tirelessly to distribute information to both the banking industry and blind consumers regarding talking ATMs, puts it: "One cannot take an ATM machine, load sound files on its hard drive, and plug it in and expect it to work for blind people or anyone else. The ATM owner, processor, and manufacturer need to work together to certify a configuration and to ensure that the processor is driving the machine properly."

First, a bank purchases an ATM—in this case, one that allows voice-equipped operation. Next, the bank develops its own software and human-voice "WAV" files to match its particular ATM operation. Two of the major manufacturers of ATMs, Diebold and NCR, have been the primary providers of voice-equipped ATMs. At this point, the "talking" is achieved through "WAV" files, a recording of human voices reading prepared scripts, anticipating each of the verbal prompts needed in a range of transactions. Although the account balance, for example, was not available on the particular machine I encountered, it is made possible on some machines by stringing together a series of sound files. If, say, your balance is $156.47, the ATM would first access a WAV file recording of a voice saying "One," followed by a file pronouncing "Hundred," and another saying, "Fifty," and so on until the complete amount was spoken. Clearly, this approach is working, but it is costly.

Many proponents of talking ATM technology are supporting the less expensive, albeit possibly less esthetic approach of employing synthesized speech to deliver ATM information. Curtis Chong, technology director for the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) explains, "People who are not used to listening to a computer every day want a high quality product and believe that has to be human speech. They don't understand that for blind computer users listening to synthesized speech every day, the important thing is the delivery of information."

In the interest of exploring the most cost effective ways of delivering quality information to blind customers at as many ATM locations as possible, Diebold and NFB forged an agreement in November 2000. The agreement, in part, commits both parties to researching the most cost effective solution, probably text-to- speech, of making ATMs accessible to blind people. Diebold committed $1 million to the Baltimore NFB training center and pledged to work collaboratively in developing an improved talking ATM model. The timing for such an agreement was particularly right, Curtis Chong points out, because Diebold was making plans to equip Washington DC-based Rite Aid pharmacies with a low-end CSP ATM (called low end because these machines only dispense cash). Although NFB originally filed suit against Rite Aid and Diebold, Chong explains that Diebold pursued the collaborative agreement because "they just wanted to do the right thing."

In addition to working to find a solution for an improved and cost- effective machine, Diebold has pledged to install 25 CSP machines by August 2001 in locations around the country. The pilot will last at least 90 days. Other noteworthy components of the agreement are to replace three of the Rite Aid Washington, DC-area ATMs with talking models, to install a talking ATM at the NFB Baltimore headquarters, and to sell at least 500 of the "improved" machines every 12 months beginning February 2002. The agreement does not require Diebold to modify or upgrade existing machines, but to install at least one new talking machine at each location where a newly manufactured machine is placed. The improved ATM standard determined by Diebold and NFB will probably be one with an internal speech chip rather than sound files of human voices, but the exact model to be used for the pilot project has not been unveiled as of this writing. What is certain, however, is a collaborative effort and mutual desire to increase the number of accessible units around the country.

One More Approach

An article on the progress of talking ATMs would not be complete without mentioning yet another approach being taken in Pennsylvania as the outcome of a settlement agreement between blind plaintiffs there and PNC Bank. Rather than equipping ATMs with either a speech chip or WAV files, PNC's plan is to equip each customer with a cellular phone for calling a 24-hour access line for human assistance. The representative pulls up the screen of the particular ATM the blind customer is attempting to use and talks the user through each step of the transaction. Each ATM is to be equipped with a placard identifying its location in both braille and large print, to enable customers to identify their specific locations to the telephone assistant. Customers must register with PNC to be helped when they call. Cell phones are issued by the bank, but can be used only to call for ATM assistance or to dial 911.

The effectiveness of this approach remains to be seen, but a few obvious drawbacks are inherent. A successfully completed transaction depends upon more factors in the PNC approach. The cell phone battery has to be charged, the signal at the precise location of the ATM must be a strong one, and the human operator assisting the blind user through the transaction must be sufficiently trained. As Kelly Pierce puts it, "The evenness of quality and performance of an automated system are more or less ensured, whereas evenness with a human-assisted approach can vary."

The PNC solution is being tested in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and, if successful, will be functional at 250 ATMs in those cities initially, with all 2,800 PNC ATM locations nationwide eventually being added.

The significant message in all of this is that technology of varying degrees is enabling blind and visually impaired bank customers to handle their own transactions independently at a growing number of ATM locations around the U.S. and Canada. At this point, which solution is the best solution is perhaps not nearly of as much interest to end users as is the fact that they are able to access their own bank accounts without intercession.

For More Information

You can hear the entire orientation to the Bank One talking ATMs on The Columbus Dispatch web site. Go to http://www.dispatch.com/news/bus01/apr01/674569.html and select the link for listening to a sample of the talking ATM.

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Access Issues

How Closed-Circuit Television Users Develop Computer Vision Syndrome

In the September 2000 issue of AccessWorld, we introduced readers to computer vision syndrome (CVS). This condition can be defined as visual fatigue or neck, shoulder, or back pain that results from using a computer for long periods of time. CVS reflects the impact of using computer monitors for reading and keyboards for input. We surveyed closed-circuit television (CCTV) users and found similar symptoms; like a computer, a CCTV has a monitor for reading, but instead of a keyboard for typing, it has an X-Y table requiring hand and arm movement when the object being viewed is moved under the camera so it can be enlarged. In this report, we look in depth at personal and environmental factors that put one at risk for CVS.

What Is CVS, Anyway?

According to James Sheedy, an authority on CVS at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry, the major cause of CVS is uncorrected refractive errors. Computer users may need to have a separate prescription for computer viewing (at a relatively short distance) than they have for regular viewing at greater distances, and many people who did not obtain separate prescriptions experience fatigue.

Another major consideration is the work environment itself. Modern office buildings typically cool or warm air and recycle it via blowers. Windows usually can't be opened, which leads to air that is often exceptionally dry, which in turn requires frequent eye blinking in order to moisten the eyes. Staring at a computer screen can reduce blink rate just because you are staring. In addition, staring at a screen that is eye level instead of below eye level reduces the blink rate, which in turn leads to more dryness and irritation. Finally, computer monitors both create dusty environments because they generate static electricity, and this dust adds to eye irritation.

As mentioned in our previous article, too much light in the work environment causes glare and screen reflections. Computer screens themselves are sources of illumination, so ambient light levels should probably be reduced when computers are in use.

Finally, prolonged near vision work is naturally associated with certain physical symptoms such as double vision, headache, and blurred vision. These symptoms apparently result from the strain that is placed on the visual system by the need to focus and refine that focus for extended periods of time. When computer users focus on screens in environments that fail to allow for rest or focusing on infinity (such as occasionally looking out through windows), they often suffer from these symptoms.

Eyestrain is not the only component of CVS. Neck, shoulder, and back pain are caused in part by poor posture in viewing the screen, and in part by poor workstation design. We all have favorite chairs and places to work, but they may not be ergonomically sound. Adjusting the height of the chair and the table on which the monitor rests so that you are not looking up but instead are looking ahead or slightly downward can bring relief from symptoms of CVS.

What About CCTVs?

CCTVs are not computers, but they share obvious features—they have screens the same size as computer screens, which are read from close proximity, and they primarily display text. They share many of the same features that can cause CVS. Since these are major issues in the development of CVS, CCTV users are equally susceptible. Furthermore, visual impairment may well exacerbate the symptoms. For example, eye strain caused by focusing on nearby objects will be more pronounced in those people for whom near focus is more difficult in the first place.

The Survey

AFB's Careers and Technology Information Bank (CTIB) database includes information on the career and technology interests of employed visually impaired people. Using this database, we contacted 115 individuals who use CCTVs as a component of their work. Fifteen-minute interviews were conducted over the telephone with each of these people, and much was learned about their use of CCTVs in their jobs.

Part of this interview focused on problems they might be experiencing when they use CCTVs. We learned that certain users are more likely to develop symptoms of CVS, although, with almost 70 percent of users reporting at least some symptoms, it is almost as interesting to look at who doesn't develop CVS.

Virtually everyone who uses a CCTV reports feeling fatigue in less than an hour, regardless of age or visual status. Almost 60 percent of those who develop symptoms of CVS report fatigue in less than 30 minutes. One respondent said, "My eyes get easily fatigued after 15 minutes." It may not be easy to recover from CVS fatigue, and this may have an important impact on productivity.

Survey Results

Our survey results show that most people really do like their CCTVs. The vast majority (80%) are satisfied or very satisfied with their devices, and a large majority (70%) report that it is easy for them to read standard print with a CCTV. One respondents said that the CCTV "helps me stay employed." Another said, he "couldn't do his job without it." Nevertheless, about 40 percent of CCTV users stop after only 10 minutes or less per sitting. Coupled with the finding that about 75 percent use their CCTVs several times a day, this finding suggests that many people may have been conditioned to avoid fatigue by working on their CCTVs only in short bursts. One respondent commented that the CCTV is "perfect for quick, short reads." Others apparently work through their fatigue and just "live with it" in order to get their job done.

Three major symptoms of CVS were frequently reported by CCTV users: neck strain, back strain, and eye strain. Dizziness was rare, and no other symptoms were reported with any frequency. Overall, neck strain was reported more often by those who used smaller text sizes. The probable reason is that smaller text sizes require more movement of the head across the screen than large text sizes, which require more movement of the X-Y table. This fact is supported by the finding that, in general, larger screen sizes (19 inches or larger) were also associated with more frequent reports of neck strain. Once again, larger screens require more head movement across the screen than do small screens. Also, large monitors are typically higher in the field of view, which may require neck movement at an awkward angle.

Intuitively, one would think that distance from the CCTV screen would also be an important consideration. Sitting close to a monitor should require more head movement, hence more neck strain. However, although we asked about typical viewing distance, we found no such relationship. It may be that viewing angle (looking up rather than straight ahead or down) is more important than simple back-and-forth movement. We will be investigating this issue further in future studies.

Back strain was not commonly reported (only about 25 percent of the users reported experiencing it) but it was also related to text size and screen size. The larger the text displayed by a CCTV, the more likely the user reported back strain. Also, the larger the screen size, the more likely the user reported back strain. Although we have no additional data to support this finding, it may be explained by movement of the X-Y table. Larger text sizes require more movement of the platform, and larger screens may require more awkward movement of the platform. Both of these movements could contribute to back pain.

Eye strain was the most commonly reported symptom. However, it was not systematically related to text size, screen size, or distance from the CCTV screen. Neck, shoulder, and back strain can be explained by musculoskeletal issues, but eye strain in CCTV users is a much more complex problem. How does eye strain brought on by CCTV use interact with conditions such as macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, which were common among our sample of CCTV users? It may simply be that these conditions supersede the impacts of text and screen size.

Where Next?

Users of CCTVs appear to be susceptible to many of the same problems reported by computer users who suffer from CVS. Poor ergonomics and close focusing put many CCTV users in awkward postural positions. When eye conditions of people with visual impairment are combined with glare or environmental features that promote eye irritation, people become even more susceptible to fatigue.

We will be conducting further studies of this phenomenon. We invite you, the readers, to tell us about your experiences with CCTVs. We know that CCTV use is important to many people, and we want to identify the factors that make up healthy, comfortable CCTV viewing.

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Book Review

Word Wise 2000: An Intermediate Guide for Blind Users, by Sharon Monthei. Boston: National Braille Press, 2000.

The best thing about Word Wise 2000 is that it is not a tutorial; it is simply an easy-to-use reference book for Word for Windows. In general, tutorials have proven to be remarkable tools for independent blind computer users wishing to build comfort levels with Windows applications and the keyboard itself. You can work at your own pace, proceed lesson by lesson, and focus longer on the areas that are of personal interest. A growing number of tutorials in the assistive technology field provide solutions for people of varying learning styles, too. You can read lessons from a braille book, listen to a friendly voice on tape, or sit at your keyboard progressing through an interactive curriculum that engages your attention and input as an active participant in the learning process.

Sometimes, however, you are just plain too busy to spend time with a tutorial. Using the computer as a blind person means using the keyboard to accomplish tasks, and sometimes you simply want to know which keystrokes are required to accomplish a specific task. How, for instance, do you print an envelope? Move a file to a different folder? Change the color of only one paragraph? Or look up synonyms for "impatience"? Word Wise 2000 is a refreshing approach to providing just those sorts of answers quickly for the intermediate user of Microsoft Word 2000. No one can memorize the myriad keystrokes for every possible formatting or style option in one given program. With Word Wise 2000, you simply look up how to perform a task, such as how to make a label, and the steps appear in sequence, so readers do not need to wade through verbose pages of explanation.

The book is organized into 25 chapters, moving through the Word menu structure and thus from simplest to most complex features of the program. In the table of contents, all techniques covered in a given chapter are itemized, enabling the reader to locate a specific feature quickly and with ease. Once you've located the technique of interest, concise numbered steps take you through the process, keystroke by keystroke, for the immediate and specific results you are seeking.

Say, for example, that you've forgotten how to search for a word in your document. A quick look through the Contents page reveals that Chapter 5 is the "find dialog box" chapter and that Item A tells you how to "find text quickly." Under that item, you find these instructions:

  1. Press Control-F, or go to the Edit menu with Alt-E and press F.
  2. Type the combination of characters you are looking for.
  3. Press Enter.
  4. Press Escape to leave the Find dialog box.

Although Word Wise 2000 is not a tutorial, it is the sequel to a tutorial modified for blind users entitled Word for Windows Quick and Easy, also available from National Braille Press. For blind users already comfortable with Windows applications and Microsoft Word, Word Wise 2000 is an excellent approach for delivering "just the facts" in the information-on-demand manner we all sometimes want.

Word Wise 2000: An Intermediate Guide for Blind Users is available in either 3 braille volumes or one floppy disk in Portabook format. The book can be ordered for $22.00 from National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115; phone: 800-548-7323; e-mail: orders@nbp.org.

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Short Holiday for Halliday

In early April, a particularly unsettling rumor began circulating that Jim Halliday, 13-year president of the Loomis, California- based HumanWare, Inc., had been relieved of his duties by the HumanWare parent company, Tieman Group. Sure enough, on April 20, the rumor was confirmed with Jim Halliday himself, who explained, graciously, that although Tieman was more "accountant driven," Humanware was more "human-driven," and the parting had been the best for all concerned.

Many would argue that changing the direction of HumanWare's leadership would certainly not be "best" or even good for blind customers who have responded so favorably to the company's newest line of products, the BrailleNote and VoiceNote notetakers. Apparently, that was also the attitude of Pulse Data International, the New Zealand manufacturer of those products.

Providing that all "due diligence" is satisfied, Pulse Data is purchasing HumanWare Inc. from Tieman as of May 18, 2001, and the erstwhile, talented president, Mr. James C. Halliday, will once again be in charge.

(Note: This item was reported by Deborah Kendrick.)

Accessibility Office at Compaq

Compaq Computer Corporation has created an Accessibility Program Office. Michael Takemura will head the Program Office, which will guide accessibility in product design, engineering, product development, documentation, web, and services and support. For more information, contact: Compaq Computer Corporation; phone: 800-345-1518 or 281-370-0670; web site: www.compaq.com.

CSUN Conference Report

The following is summary of four noteworthy sessions the editors of AccessWorld attended at the CSUN (California State University, Northridge) Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities:

"Making Educational Multimedia Accessible" was presented by Jan Richards and Wendy Porch of the Adaptive Technology Resource Center at the University Of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The session presented the process by which two science-related, educational, multimedia computer programs (Virtual Rainforest Field Trip and Chemistry Lab Simulation) were made accessible. For more information, contact: Jan Richards; phone: 416-946-7060; e-mail jan.richards@utoronto.ca.

"Building for Accessibility: An Exploration of Software Design Guidelines and Testing," by Ruth Loebl and Richard Orme of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, Coventry, England, illustrated the need for accessible software design guidelines and standards, listed various materials that have been developed by IBM, Microsoft, the Trace Center, and the U.S. Access Board, and demonstrated a prototype of a tool for helping developers design accessible applications. For more information, contact: Royal National Institute for the Blind: phone: 0845-766-99-99 (for U.K. callers) or 011-44-20-7388-1266; web site: www.rnib.org.uk/technology/.

The staff of the Science Access Project of Oregon State University's Department of Physics demonstrated the Audio- accessible Graphing Calculator. It includes the capabilities to compute and display visually either of two functions, their sum, or their difference; display the above as an audio-tone plot; permit piece-by-piece audio browsing; and compute statistical functions for tabulated data. For more information, contact: Patricia Walsh; e-mail: walsh@dots.physics.orst.edu.

Judith Dixon, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Washington, DC, explained and demonstrated Web- Braille, a library of over 3,200 braille books on the Internet. For more information, contact: phone: 202-707-5100; web site: www.loc.gov/nls/.

Talking Medicine

Three new products are designed to make talking prescription medicine bottles a reality for many blind consumers: Talking Rx, ScripTalk, and Aloud.

For information on Talking Rx, contact: John Dobbins, president and inventor, Millennium Compliance Corporation; phone: 860-681-9277; web site: www.talkingrx.com. For information on ScriptTalk, contact: En-Vision America; phone: 800-890-1180 or 309-452-3088; web site: www.envisionamerica.com. For information on Aloud, contact: 866-33-ALOUD (5683); web site: www.rxpartnerspharmacy.com.


The Trace Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, launched the Harry J. Murphy Catalyst Award to honor individuals in the fields of technology and disability. The deadline for nominations is August 31, 2001. For more information, contact: Trace Center, College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison; phone: 608-262-6966; web site: www.trace.wisc.edu/catalyst/form.htm.

Graphics and Braille Embosser

ViewPlus Technologies, Inc. released the Tiger Advantage Tactile Graphics and Braille Embosser for Windows 95 and 98. The printer is designed to emboss graphic images and braille simultaneously. The Tiger features a ViewPlus braille translator and DotsPlus braille, a tactile language that appears on the screen in standard roman text. The cost is $9,750. For more information, contact: ViewPlus Technologies, Inc.; phone: 541-754-4002; web site: www.viewplustech.com.

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Various Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program (ATACP) Training Workshops.

Locations throughout the United States.


California State University, Northridge, Center on Disabilities; phone: 818-677-2578; web site: www.csun.edu/codtraining.

June 30–July 7

American Council of the Blind 2001 Convention.

Des Moines, IA.


American Council of the Blind; phone: 800-424-8666 or 202-467-5081; web site: www.acb.org.

July 1–7

National Federation of the Blind National Convention 2001.

Philadelphia, PA.


National Federation of the Blind; phone: 410-659-9314; web site: www.nfb.org.

August 3–5

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@dbvi.state.va.us.

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

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