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Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 May 2005 Issue  Volume 6  Number 3

AccessWorld News

Kurzweil Acquired by Cambium Learning

On Thursday, April 7, Cambium Learning announced that they had signed an agreement to acquire Kurzweil Educational Systems. An education company located in Natick, Massachusetts, Cambium Learning was founded in 2003 by three former executives of Houghton Mifflin based on the belief that all students--including minority, at-risk, economically disadvantaged, and special student populations--can achieve at a high level. The company provides research-based, culturally responsive instructional materials, services, and technology to help educators raise the achievement level of challenged learners from preschool through 12th grade. Kurzweil Educational systems produces Kurzweil 1000 and Kurzweil 3000 optical character recognition software for people who are blind or visually impaired and people with learning disabilities, respectively. In 1998, Kurzweil Educational Systems was purchased by Lernout & Hauspie, only to leave that company three years later. For more information, contact Kurzweil Educational Systems: phone: 781-276-0619; web site: <www.kurzweiledu.com> or Cambium Learning: phone: 508-647-1340; web site: <www.cambiumlearning.com>.

On the Same Page

A cooperative effort between ViewPlus Technologies and Hewlett-Packard Specialty Printing Systems has resulted in a machine that can produce print, braille, and tactile graphics all on the same page. The Pro Ink Attachment (PIA), as it is called, works with the ViewPlus Pro printer and places high-quality print above or alongside the braille text. Producing an image in both print and tactile form on the same sheet can make it easier for coworkers who are blind and sighted to share the same concepts. Braille with a print equivalent above or beside makes it easier for parents or teachers to help the young reader who is blind. The PIA can produce braille and ink text images on both sides of the page, thereby reducing paper costs. The PIA comes bundled with translation software for converting MS Word or Excel files to braille and, the company claims, "the Pro with PIA is quiet so it can be used in a normal office environment." For more information, visit ViewPlus: 541-754-4002; web site: <www.viewplus.com>.

People on the Move

Madelyn Bryant McIntire, who has directed Microsoft's Accessible Technology Group (ATG) for the last four years, has left the department to become the company's Product Unit Manager for the Digital Documents team in the Windows Division. The new ATG director is Rob Sinclair, who has been with Microsoft since 1997 and who is credited with having led the company in creating accessible Windows applications. He has been a key contributor to ten patents for accessibility related inventions. . . . HumanWare, in its new incarnation, is making some already well-known faces in the assistive technology industry even more visible. Just two weeks prior to the news of the HumanWare merger (see "Dial M for Merger" elsewhere in this issue), the former Pulse Data International announced the promotion of Dominic Gagliano to National Blindness Sales Manager. Gagliano, who joined HumanWare in 1989 as its Midwest sales representative, quickly rose to be a major force in the assistive technology industry. "Dominic is one of those rare sighted people who intuitively understands the needs of blind people," noted Jim Halliday, who founded the California-based HumanWare in 1988 and hired Gagliano into the field. Many who have come to know Dominic Gagliano echo those sentiments. . . . Just a few weeks after the merger, HumanWare announced the appointment of Roberto Gonzalez as blindness products specialist in its Concord, California, offices. Gonzalez, who most recently worked with the ALVA Access Group as product manager, was part of the HumanWare team in the 1990s when the company was based in Loomis. His particular expertise is braille-related technology.

Getting the Picture

Following a two-year research effort funded by the European Commission's Information Society Technologies research program, Technical Drawings Understanding for the Blind (TeDUB ) has announced the release of software that will convert visual images to a format compatible with screen readers. When a diagram is uploaded to the site, it is converted and the new file is e-mailed to the user. The system also allows users to move around diagrams with a joystick, and provides sounds to accompany navigation. The software is free and is available by download from the TeDUB web site where tutorials and examples of Unified Modelling Language (UML) diagrams can be found. The TeDUB Consortium comprises partners from the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands. For more information, visit <www.tedub.org>.

Right on the Button

Optelec's ClearView+ is a new desktop video magnifier with one-button control. The company says that with one button, you can increase or decrease magnification and change from photo mode to black and white or reverse mode. The ClearView+ magnifies print up to 50X, and comes with your choice of a 17-inch black and white CRT, color CRT, or color thin film transistor (TFT) flat panel monitor. For more information, contact: Optelec U.S.: phone: 978-392-0707 or 800-828-1056; e-mail: <optelec@optelec.com>; web site: <www.optelec.com>.

A Guide to Surfing Without a Mouse

National Braille Press (NBP) has published Braille.Com and Beyond by Anna Dresner. The author of Finding Ebooks on the Internet uses NBP's web site to introduce you to all the basics (and tricks) for surfing the Web without a mouse. The book covers opening a Web page, navigating tables, filling out forms, and the basics of shopping online. Learn to shop on NBP's site, and they will send you a free braille book. Braille.Com and Beyond is available in two braille volumes or as a PortaBook (a braille file on disk that can be read in a number of ways including a portable braille reading device) for $10. For more information, contact: National Braille Press: phone: 800-548-7323; e-mail: <orders@nbp.org>; web site: <www.braille.com>.

New Features in JAWS 6.0

Version 6.0 of JAWS for Windows, the popular screen-reading program that is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, began shipping in early March. Main additions are the Basic Training files in DAISY format, along with a demonstration of FS Reader, the not-yet-released DAISY reader being developed by Freedom Scientific; the ability to custom label fields and buttons on web pages that do not speak; and a "skim reading" feature that provides a quicker way to get the gist of a document or locate a desired segment. For more information, contact Freedom Scientific: phone: 727-803-8000 or 800-444-4443; web site: <www.freedomscientific.com>.

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Copyright © 2005 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved. AccessWorld is a trademark of the American Foundation for the Blind.

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