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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 September 2005 Issue  Volume 6  Number 5

Editor's Page

In this issue, Deborah Kendrick interviews Curtis Chong, longtime president of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Computer Science division. Chong discusses his 30-year career in the technology field, as well as his leadership in advocacy for people who are blind or visually impaired. Read about Chong's advocacy efforts as Director of Technology in NFB's International Braille and Technology Center in Baltimore, Maryland, and how he has become one of the most respected people in the field of assistive technology.

Gerald Weichbrodt, Senior Project Engineer at General Motors in Detroit, defines and demystifies key terms in device connectivity. These terms are used regularly in reference to personal digital assistants (PDAs), computers, and other devices. What is the difference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi? Is infrared good for other things besides television remotes? What is Wimax? This article answers these questions and helps you get familiar with the wonderful world of wireless.

I review VoiceOver, the new screen reader for the Macintosh OS X operating system from Apple. VoiceOver is installed on every Apple computer shipped after April 30, 2005, as well as being a part of software upgrades. This could make VoiceOver the most widely available screen reader in the world. Unfortunately, VoiceOver is currently not up to the job, as it does not include the functionality that users have come to expect from a screen reader. Read about the program's shortcomings.

Dr. Carol Farrenkopf, Coordinator of Toronto District School Board Vision Services, discusses how to buy a closed-circuit television (CCTV). Of course, cost is a major consideration. However, this article highlights other factors to be considered, whether you are purchasing a CCTV for yourself or assisting someone else. Find out what you should know to purchase the best CCTV to meet your needs or the needs of a client or family member.

Stephanie Bassler, vice-president of De Witt and Associates in New Jersey, shares some of her extensive knowledge about assistive technology training. She explains the difference between showing someone how to do something and teaching someone to perform a task. She then goes on to describe the steps involved in creating a lesson plan, testing a student's knowledge and discovering how well your student has learned.

Darren Burton of AFB's Technology and Employment Center in Huntington, West Virginia (AFB TECH), describes a new destination-based elevator control system developed by Otis, the world's largest manufacturer of elevators, escalators, and moving walkways. The system poses access problems for people who are blind or visually impaired. Burton goes on to explain the work done for Otis by AccessWorld Solutions, the consulting division of AFB, which helps corporations and government agencies to make their products and services accessible to people with vision loss.

Janet Ingber, author and music therapist, reviews the i.d. mate II from En-Vision America and the SCANACAN from Ferguson Enterprises, two bar code readers. A bar code is a series of printed stripes of various widths, in which each of the digits zero through nine are represented by a different pattern of bars that can be read by a laser scanner. Retailers use bar codes to record the prices of items. Find out how these readers can help you identify cans of soup, containers of yogurt, music CDs, and many other products.

Jim Denham, formerly of AFB's Technology and Employment Center in Huntington, West Virginia (AFB TECH), is now national sales manager for Dolphin Products for Optelec USA. Jim was a regular contributor to AccessWorld and a pleasure to work with. We wish him the best in his new job.

Jay Leventhal
Editor in Chief

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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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