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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 January 2006 Issue  Volume 7  Number 1

Editor's Page

It is instructive to compare and contrast the accessibility efforts of mainstream companies. IBM has perhaps done more than any other company in the arena of accesibility. One of IBM's latest contributions is its effort regarding the open-source Firefox browser. IBM programmers wrote and donated tens of thousands of lines of code to make Firefox usable with screen readers. Screen reader manufacturers were then hired by IBM to write configuration files so that their programs would work with Firefox. As part of the screen reader evaluation in this issue, we tested three screen readers' functionality with Firefox.

In contrast, Apple has not made an effort to make its mainstream products accessible. The iPod, which AccessWorld reviewed in March 2005, could easily be made accessible to people who are blind. The iTunes software, which is part of the Rokr cell phone evaluated in this issue, is also very difficult for people who are blind to use. Unfortunately, Apple has not chosen to pursue the same course as IBM and other companies.

Amy Salmon, a technology trainer from Wisconsin, reviews three screen readers: Freedom Scientific's JAWS for Windows 7.0, GW Micro's Window-Eyes 5.5, and Dolphin Computer Access's Hal 6.51. Each product was evaluated in the following areas: installation; documentation and support; basic performance in Microsoft Word and Excel; and on the Web using Internet Explorer 6.x and Mozilla Firefox 1.5. Find out how these three products performed.

In the latest of AccessWorld's popular series of cell phone evaluations, Darren Burton of AFB's Technology and Employment Center in Huntington, West Virginia (AFB TECH), reviews Apple's Rokr E1 cell phone. In addition to a description of this mainly inaccessible phone, this article offers a listing of other current accessible cell phones. These include the LG VX 4650, 4700, and 5200 models from LG Electronics; Nextel's Motorola i355; the Samsung MM A800, which is a music- and TV-enabled multimedia telephone; and a brief update on the Mobile Speak and TALKS cell phone screen readers.

Lee Huffman, also of AFB TECH, evaluates HumanWare's myReader, a new type of video magnifier. myReader captures an image of whatever is placed on its viewing table, and then reformats it into an arrangement chosen and customized by its user. myReader has no x-y table. Instead, it uses navigation through its control panel and its automatic scrolling feature to eliminate the back-and-forth movement of a document on an x-y table and reduce user fatigue. Read about this unique product.

eBay is the place to go online to buy or sell merchandise. Janet Ingber, author and music therapist, describes how to buy and sell merchandise on eBay using a screen reader. eBay is more difficult to use than the typical online shopping site, but it is possible to participate in both the buying and the selling. Read our how-to and get ready to join the fun on eBay.

Deborah Kendrick writes about the latest edition to HumanWare's family of BrailleNote personal digital assistants (PDAs), the BrailleNote mPower. Additions found on the mPower include a secure digital flash slot (a storage card about the size of a postage stamp), two USB host ports, one USB client port, BlueTooth capability, a 28MB flash drive, the ability to make digital voice recordings, a stereo media player, and more. Read about the latest upgrade to this popular PDA.

Joe Lazzaro, director of the Adaptive Technology Program at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind in Boston and a freelance writer, writes about the GoldWave sound editor, an inexpensive and fairly accessible software package. GoldWave lets you record from a variety of inputs, including microphones and auxiliary input, using patch cords, and even lets you record streaming audio while you're listening online. A number of readers have asked us to publish an article explaining step by step how to convert material from audiotape to digital files. If you want to do this, or have any interest in recording onto your computer, this article is for you.

Jay Leventhal
Editor in Chief


Correction

In the report on the CSUN 2004 conference in the May 2004 Access World, a photograph was labeled incorrectly. The device in the picture captioned "Close-up of the Talking Tablet" is actually the Talking Tactile Tablet from Touch Graphics. We apologize for any confusion.

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Copyright © 2006 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved. AccessWorld is a trademark of the American Foundation for the Blind.

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