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Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 May 2008 Issue  Volume 9  Number 3

AccessWorld News

Two More Devices to Play Talking Books

Patrons of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) and its Talking Book program now have more options for downloading digital versions of books and magazines for listening on handheld devices. The Icon from LevelStar and Braille+ Mobile Manager from the American Printing House for the Blind can now play books that are downloaded from the NLS Digital Talking Books site.

Both devices can fit into a pocket and offer a wide variety of features--including a contacts manager, web browser, large hard drive, built-in text-to-speech, and much more. Wireless capabilities make it possible for NLS patrons to download Talking Books to either device without using a computer. Customers who have already purchased either device are invited to download a free software upgrade and then register with the NLS Digital Talking Books site. To learn more about the Icon, visit www.levelstar.com, phone 800-315-2305, or send an e-mail message to info@levelstar.com. To learn more about the Braille+ Mobile Manager, visit: www.aph.org/tech/pda_info.htm.

Braille Sense Plus Announced

GW Micro announced the release of the Braille Sense Plus, the latest version of the company's braille PDA (personal digital assistant), originally introduced in March 2005. The new version offers 8GB of built-in memory and 128MB of RAM "for quick response time." Features include a compact flash card slot, two USB ports, a serial port, a VGA port, and an Ethernet port. Braille Sense Plus offers wireless capabilities, a GPS system, and the ability to record to the MP3 format. A keylock switch enables users to listen to music or other audio without inadvertently pressing keys.

Braille Sense Plus sells for an introductory price of $5,995 and began shipping in May. For more information, send an e-mail message to sales@gwmicro.com or phone 260-489-3671. To read more about Braille Sense Plus or other GW Micro products, visit www.gwmicro.com.

Leading Braille Publishing Organization Hires New CEO

After 32 years of growth under the gifted leadership of William Raeder, who recently began a well-deserved retirement, the National Braille Press (NBP) in Boston announced that Brian MacDonald will serve as its new president. MacDonald has an MBA in marketing and finance from Boston College and 20 years of experience leading nonprofit organizations. Most recently, he served as chief operating officer for New Hampshire Audubon, where, according to the NBP press release, "he helped lead a major restructuring that included strategic planning, change management, and improved revenue generation. He also has significant experience in planned giving, business development, and building corporate partnerships."

MacDonald's volunteer commitments have been extensive, including four years as director of the Essex County (Massachusetts) Special Olympics, founder of the Northeast Whale Watching Association, and more. His personal interest comes from having a grandmother who reads braille.

Before his retirement, Raeder launched a strategic initiative involving the expansion of NBP offerings and increased outreach and advocacy. For more information, visit www.nbp.org.

HumanWare Adds New GPS Device

HumanWare announced the addition of Trekker Breeze to its popular line of GPS (global positioning system) products for people who are blind or have low vision. The Sendero Group's talking GPS software, running on the BrailleNote family of products, was the first accessible navigation product. Trekker, GPS software running on a handheld PDA with built-in text-to-speech, soon followed.

With Trekker Breeze, HumanWare says that accessible GPS will become available to an even wider audience of customers who are blind or have low vision. Trekker Breeze announces streets and points of interest, enables users to record routes and follow them turn by turn, and can be used either while riding in a vehicle or traveling on foot.

For more information on Trekker Breeze, visit www.humanware.com/en-usa/products/gps.

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