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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 September 2001 Issue  Volume 2  Number 5

Editor's Page

In the early days of Windows screen readers, it was a struggle to accomplish basic tasks such as entering and editing text and reading and replying to e-mail. Screen reader manufacturers fought long and hard to gain access to the system information they needed from Microsoft to make their products communicate reliably with Windows and Windows applications. The expertise of the programmers at Henter-Joyce/Freedom Scientific and GW Micro, combined with a willingness to listen to and implement suggestions from users, have made JAWS for Windows and Window-Eyes the best and most popular products. These two continue to add features and improve performance, whereas other manufacturers stand still or struggle to implement some of the features and functionality found in the two market leaders.

The competition between Freedom Scientific and GW Micro is intense. Each company's marketing department emphasizes new features that are not currently found in the other product. Programmers from the other company then scramble to incorporate those features into their product. The result is that we have two strong, feature-rich screen readers. In this issue, Koert Wehberg, senior intern, and I offer a thorough evaluation of both JAWS for Windows and Window- Eyes.

Bryan Gerritsen, a low vision therapist at Low Vision Services in Salt Lake City, Utah, focuses on a subject dear to people who are visually impaired—lighting. He reviews lamps from three categories: total spectrum, incandescent, and halogen. In a future issue, he will shine the spotlight on mobility lighting.

Deborah Kendrick interviews Jim Halliday, the man who created and has guided HumanWare throughout the past 15 years. She explores his motivation for creating the company, his preference for it to be "people-oriented" before technical, and his strange journey from president of HumanWare to former president and back to president again.

Lynn Zelvin, former trainer for the Columbia Lighthouse and now AFB's Web Coordinator, presents the second in a two-part series on assistive technology training. In this article, she discusses some issues and options to clarify the differences between assistive technology training and technical support and explains how to get what you paid for from a trainer and protect yourself from lost time, money, and frustration.

The August issue of AccessWorld Extra—the e-mail version we send out in the six months in which AccessWorld is not published— featured reader comments and questions, assistive technology news, a listing of computer user groups for people who are blind or visually impaired, and a report on the "2001: A Technology Odyssey" conference sponsored by AFB and the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER.) Don't miss the October issue, which will contain late-breaking assistive technology news and more. 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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