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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 March 2006 Issue  Volume 7  Number 2

Letters to the Editor

Singing GoldWave's Praises

I just wanted to say thanks for including the article on how to convert old cassette tapes to digital audio files! ("There's Gold on Those Old Tapes: Recording and Editing Digital Audio Files with GoldWave," January 2006.) I do a lot of singing at church, and a lot of my songs are on tape. However, there are so many advantages to having them on CD, which is why this particular article caught my attention. Since I read it, I've been playing around with Gold Wave and my sound tracks. Awesome program and technology! I love the fact that the hissing noise from cassettes can be removed as well as any humming. I just wish that the pitch effect wouldn't change the quality of the sound if one selects the box that lets the program know that one doesn't want the tempo of a song to change.


January Screen Reader Roundup

I commend you for publishing the update and review of the three screen readers ("The Sound of Computing: A Review of Three Screen Readers") in the January issue. I'd like to comment on the scope of the article, however. The writer only documented experience with Microsoft Word, Excel, and Internet Explorer in general for the three products, noting problems with spell check, missing documentation, etc. Firefox support was also explored. However, no examination of Java support or PDF support was included. PDF support, as we know, is critical for comprehension of some files, and use of Microsoft PowerPoint is critical as well for use of some educational materials. I'd like to see these functionalities covered in a near-term report if possible.

On another note, I note the continued drum beat of cost related to purchase of assistive technology. I agree that AT is expensive, and in some cases not worth the money, but these are choices we make. If purchase of AT makes sense for your use, continuing to keep it current does too.

Finally, just an observation, but I'd love to see an explanation from the RIM corporation of why they choose to ignore the blind population. The Blackberry is the exclusive device for portable e-mail access of government and large corporations, yet RIM does nothing to make their devices accessible. This is a shame for both the government and industry.

Allen Hoffman

The Editor Responds

We cover Word, Excel, and Internet Explorer in our screen reader reviews because they are widely used applications. An extensive amount of work is required to learn to use and test three screen readers in different applications. For more on access to PDF files, read "What's in a PDF? The Challenges of the Popular Portable Document Format" in the November 2005 AccessWorld.

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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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