Window-Eyes Upgrade Released
GW Micro has announced the release of the public beta version of Window-Eyes 5.5. Following its earlier enhancement of accessibility in Microsoft Word with Window-Eyes 5.0, this latest upgrade increases support for accessibility in Microsoft Excel and provides improved support for such applications as Sonar, Visual Studio, Lotus Notes, Instant Messenger 7.5, and VISTA, the next version of Windows, due out in 2006. The company reports that Window-Eyes 5.5 will be the first screen reader to offer full support of Mozilla Firefox, in addition to offering beginner, intermediate, and advanced menu levels, less confusing layout and function of the Window-Eyes Global menu, an automatic reading of autotext completion in e-mail programs, and other improvements. A free download of 5.5, as well as a complete list of all new features, can be found at <www.gwmicro.com/beta>. For additional information, contact: GW Micro: phone: 260-489-3671; web site: <www.gwmicro.com>.
JAWS 7.0 Released
Freedom Scientific has announced the release of JAWS 7.0, available for download for customers who have purchased software maintenance agreements or who purchased the JAWS software after August 2, 2005. If you've ever copied text to the Windows clipboard and then wished you could add a bit more, the extended JAWS clipboard feature will definitely be welcome. Other features of the upgrade include support for MSN Messenger 7.0 and 7.5, training materials in DAISY format for quick and easy reference, the ability to carry your JAWS programs with customized settings on a USB thumb drive, enhanced support for reading tables and PDF documents, support for Yahoo Messenger 7.0, and new shortcuts to popular applications for customers using Focus 40 or Focus 80 braille displays. On the lighter side, the new version offers an MSN dictionary--a quick reference for translating that growing plethora of conversational abbreviations used in instant messaging. A demo copy can be downloaded free from <www.freedomscientific.com>. To confirm whether or not your software maintenance agreement includes an authorized copy of 7.0, you can visit <www.fsactivate.com> and look up your serial number. For more information or to order, contact: Freedom Scientific: phone: 800-444-4443; web site: <www.freedomscientific.com>.
See It More Clearly with ZoomText 9.0
Ai Squared has announced the latest upgrade to its popular screen magnification program, ZoomText 9.0, which promises to bring greater clarity and flexibility to the screen, along with the clearer speech provided by NeoSpeech. Enhancements include increased magnification from 16x to 30x, as well as a more finely tuned adjustment between 2x and 3x with a 2.5x option. Applications settings can now be saved "on the fly," and the improved Find option allows users to locate desired text in e-mails or on web pages quickly. The program is available in 15 languages, including German, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, U.S. English, and U.K. English. Users who have paid for a software maintenance agreement or enhanced support plan can receive 9.0 free of charge. A 30-day trial version can be downloaded free. For additional information, contact: AI Squared: phone: 800-859-0270 or 802-362-3612; web site: <www.aisquared.com>; e-mail: <email@example.com>.
New Braille-Only Tutorial Available
Iowa Department for the Blind's Project ASSIST has announced the availability of its latest tutorial for people who are blind or deaf-blind or otherwise using braille for computer access. The Microsoft Internet Fundamentals with JAWS 6.1 and the ALVA Satellite 570 is a 14-lesson tutorial that takes users from the beginning level through more advanced strategies to exploring the Internet and using e-mail with Jaws 6.1 and the ALVA Satellite braille display. Step-by-step exercises provide all necessary keystrokes and hands-on experience. The tutorial is available in electronic format (which includes all exercises in Microsoft Word, braille-ready [BRF], and ASCII text formats), audiocassette, or hardcopy braille. The electronic version costs $25; the cassette version (which includes five tapes plus the electronic tutorial on CD) costs $35; and the hardcopy braille is $35 per volume. To order or for additional information, contact: Project ASSIST, Iowa Department for the Blind: phone: 515-281-1317 (voice) or 515-281-1259 (TTY); web site: <www.blind.state.ia.us/assist/order-info.htm>; e-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
National Braille Press Offers Downloads
National Braille Press (NBP) made national news in July this year when its braille version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, sixth in J. K. Rowling's popular series, became available at the same time as the print edition. Now, NBP offers the Harry Potter books--as well as its diverse collection of other titles for children and adults--for immediate download as well as in hardcopy braille. When ordering from the NBP site, a choice of formats is offered. The customer can select either braille (the old-fashioned kind, shipped in a box), or what NBP calls PortaBook. This format can be shipped on CD, shipped on floppy disk, or purchased for immediate download. The downloadable version then offers two choices: PBD (which is an already translated contracted braille format) or as ASCII text. Prices are the same regardless of format. To shop or browse, visit National Braille Press at <www.nbp.org> or www.braille.com; phone: 800-548-7323.
Victor Reader Wave
HumanWare Canada (formerly VisuAide) has announced the newest member in its family of popular DAISY players, the Victor Reader Wave. Similar to the Victor Reader Vibe, this new player is a clamshell-style CD player that plays commercial CDs as well as formatted DAISY books. The Wave features a telephone-style keypad on the lid for easy navigation, enhanced memory for storing hundreds of bookmarks, a larger visual display to assist users with low vision or learning disabilities, and support for CDs carrying MP3-formatted material. The Wave saves the listener's place not only in DAISY books but on MP3 and music CDs as well. Purchase includes the Victor Reader Wave, power adapter, earphones, carrying case, and rechargeable batteries. Although currently available in English only, the company says that other languages will be available soon. For more information, contact: HumanWare Canada: web site: <www.humanware.com> or <www.humanware.ca>.
Free Games for Kids
Hark the Sound is a suite of games, available free of charge, for children who are blind or visually impaired. Guessing games and category games allow children to choose the sound to match a given animal or place a food in the proper category, all by using just the arrow keys on the computer keyboard. "Pad" games involve a 3-by-3-foot square pad on which children sit or stand while using hands, feet, and upper body to produce the desired effects. A free version can be downloaded from <www.cs.unc.edu/~gb/HarkTheSoundSetup.exe>. A package including the "Dance-Dance-Revolution" pad and game CD can be purchased for $30 by sending an e-mail to Diane Brauner at <email@example.com>.
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