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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 July 2008 Issue  Volume 9  Number 4

Editor's Page

Jim Halliday, former president of HumanWare and now retired, spoke at a session I moderated at the American Foundation for the Blind's Jo Taylor Leadership Institute in early April. The session was on the future of assistive technology. Jim spoke about closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs). I found his comments about the current state of the CCTV market compelling and asked him to share them with AccessWorld readers. It is exciting to have an article by a pioneer in our field in AccessWorld. Please read what Jim has to say and send us your thoughts.

Many of you know Darren Burton best for his reviews of cell phones. These articles are some of the most popular articles that we publish. Darren has now taken on another type of product that should be popular--audiobook and music players. His articles in the May issue, this issue, and the one coming in September cover many players, both commercial ones and those developed specifically for people who are blind or have low vision. If you are looking for a player, you should find what you want on these pages.

In this issue, Jim Halliday writes about the current state of the CCTV market. He says that the basic concept of the CCTV, invented in the 1960s, has not changed. The original CCTV used a camera on a stand and a special lens to magnify text onto a television monitor. Early innovations included ergonomic ideas like x-y tables and space-saving ideas such as in-line units where the monitor was stacked on top of the camera and x-y table. Digital cameras, color monitors, larger screens, flat-panel monitors, and handheld CCTVs came along in time. However, CCTVs have serious limitations. Read this article to find out why the market has not changed and where it should be going.

Darren Burton and Charles Wesley Clements review mainstream digital audio players. Their evaluation includes the iPod line of players, the Creative Technology players, the Microsoft Zune, the Sony Walkman and E Reader, the Amazon Kindle, and the Olympus DS-50 digital voice recorder. Find out how accessible these players are and watch for our review in September of players made specifically for people who are blind or have low vision.

Lee Huffman, of AFB TECH, wants to know if you have been bored on a long plane flight lately. Worse, while you were twiddling your thumbs, the other passengers may have been passing the time by enjoying in-flight entertainment and information systems provided by some airlines. With some airlines now charging passengers to check even one bag on a flight, we should all be able to take advantage of any extras that are available. This article discusses a prototype in-flight entertainment and information system being developed by the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM). NCAM's prototype was designed on a system offered by Panasonic Avionics Corporation and demonstrates an accessible interface, user-selectable captions, selectable fonts, video description, and talking menus. Read about this system, which we hope will someday be available when you board a future flight.

Deborah Kendrick reviews A Pocketful of Sound by Anna Dresner, published by National Braille Press. The book covers such product categories as mainstream players, adapted players intended specifically for use by people who are blind, notetakers/personal digital assistants for people who are blind, and a brief section on cell phones and mainstream PDAs. The author provides a rundown of what the player will and will not do, describes it, and gives step-by-step keystroke instructions to get up and running. Read our review of this valuable how-to guide.

Amy Salmon, an instructor at the Hadley School for the Blind, writes about distance education. She indicates that more and more people are taking online courses. However, many sources of these courses are inaccessible. Hadley offers a wide range of courses, and they are accessible and free. Learn more about this source of distance education.

Jay Leventhal
Editor in Chief

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Copyright © 2008 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved AccessWorld is a trademark of the American Foundation for the Blind.

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