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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 September 2008 Issue  Volume 9  Number 5

AccessWorld News

Freedom Scientific Files Patent Suit Against GW Micro

On July 15, Freedom Scientific filed suit against GW Micro, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,993,707 for a "Document Placemarker." The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. According to a press release on Freedom Scientific's web site: "Freedom Scientific follows the standard business practice of filing patents for good reason. Not filing for, and then enforcing patents would stifle innovation. If Freedom invests resources into developing new technologies, only to find that other companies can benefit from our investment at no charge to them, then there would be no incentive to invest. Those with vision impairments would be the poorer for that in terms of independence and employability." In a press release, Dan Weirich, GW Micro's corporate president said: "As many of our users know, our screen reader--Window-Eyes--has had the capability of returning to a specific line within a web page since version 3.1, which was released over nine years ago, well before Freedom Scientific's alleged invention. The implication in a recent Freedom Scientific press release that GW Micro is 'benefit[ing] from [Freedom Scientific's] investment at no charge' is simply not accurate nor in line with GW Micro's tradition of success and fair play." To read the complete Freedom Scientific press release, visit www.freedomscientific.com/news/pressroom/2008/GW-Micro-suit-7-24-08.asp. To read GW Micro's response, visit: www.gwmicro.com/blog.

Feel the Breeze

In June, HumanWare announced Trekker Breeze, a new, easy-to-use GPS product. This simple orientation tool is designed for use when traveling in familiar surroundings or on predefined routes. It is also meant to be appealing to people who are not comfortable with computers and screen readers. You can record routes as you walk them with sighted assistance. Routes can then be previewed and activated for future use. You receive information, such as street names, intersections, and reference landmarks, as you travel. If you become lost, you can retrace your steps. Trekker Breeze sells for $895. For more information, go to HumanWare's web site: www.humanware.com/en-usa/products/gps.

Download Books from RFB&D

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) has introduced AudioAccess, a new downloadable audio textbook that plays on Windows Media Player (version 10 or higher) and can be synchronized with most Windows-compatible portable media players. RFB&D members can not only order the books they need from the organization's online catalog of more than 46,000 educational titles, but can now download those books directly to their computers. For more information, go to www.rfbd.org/audioaccess/index.htm.

New Duxbury Version Does Math

Duxbury Systems and Design Science have announced the availability of Duxbury Braille Translator (DBT) version 10.7, with support for the direct importing of Microsoft Word documents containing mathematical equations created with MathType. This improvement will allow users to author math with MathType in Microsoft Word and then translate these materials to braille via DBT for Windows. For more information about DBT, visit www.duxburysystems.com/dbt.asp. For information on MathType, visit www.dessci.com/mathtype.

Book Port Discontinued

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) has discontinued the Book Port, its DAISY book--MP3 player. Larry Skutchan of APH told AccessWorld that readers should watch APH's web site (www.aph.org), for a future announcement about the development of another audio player. You can still find some Book Ports for sale on eBay.

Free Screen Reader Access for Children from Serotek

Serotek is providing the ability to use a computer anytime, anywhere, with help from Keys for K-12. Keys for K-12 means a free license to carry the System Access Mobile capabilities on a U3-enabled USB thumb drive. With the System Access Mobile software, a student can plug a flash drive into any computer and have instant access--through text-to-speech and/or magnification--to all Windows-based applications that are already there. For more information, visit the web site www.serotek.com/kk12.html.

Call for Nominations for 2009 Migel Medals

The American Foundation for the Blind Migel Medal, the highest honor in the field of visual impairments, was established in 1937 by the late M. C. Migel, the first chairperson of AFB, to honor professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements have significantly improved the lives of people who are blind or have low vision.

The Migel Medal Awards are given in two categories--Professional Award and Lay Volunteer Award. Nominees for the Professional Award should be those whose career work has had a significant impact on services to people who are visually impaired on the national level. Prospective candidates include professionals with specific training and expertise in education, rehabilitation, assistive technology, vision rehabilitation, personnel preparation, administration, and related fields. They may work in the public or private sector, and their work should span several years. Nominees for the Lay Volunteer Award may be volunteers or employees within the field of visual impairments whose efforts have supported or extended service to people who are visually impaired. Professionals from other disciplines may include those who develop assistive technology equipment and software, health care devices, and improved medical services. Nominations are due by Friday, September 26, 2008, and should be e-mailed to Mary Ann Siller, National Project Manager, Professional Development, at siller@afb.net.

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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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