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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 March 2009 Issue  Volume 10  Number 2

Editor's Page

In this issue, I review the Trekker Breeze, a new GPS (global positioning system) from HumanWare. The Trekker Breeze is a simplified version of HumanWare's Trekker product. The Breeze announces intersections and points of interest as you walk, and allows you to record new landmarks and travel routes. It does not let you enter data or look up a landmark in a database. HumanWare says that the Breeze was developed because both consumers and orientation and mobility instructors wanted an easy-to-use GPS product. Find out just how easy it is to use.

Deborah Kendrick and I report on the tenth annual conference of the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA), held from January 28-31, 2009, in Orlando, Florida. The ATIA conference featured many new products and updates of products, as well as a number of sessions of interest to people who are blind or have low vision. Learn what we found in the exhibit hall and conference sessions.

Social networking sites are extremely popular these days. Janet Ingber, author and music therapist, reviews Facebook, one of the most popular sites. Facebook started as a site for college students, but has grown far beyond that. This article walks you through the sign-up process, and discusses how to use many parts of Facebook.

Bradley Hodges and Lee Huffman, of AFB TECH, present two articles. First, they describe some lesser-known screen access software. They include Guide from EVAS, VoiceOver from Apple, System Access and System Access to Go from Serotek, and Microsoft's Narrator. The article lists strengths and weaknesses of each product, and describes how the products performed specific tasks.

Next, Hodges and Huffman write about the challenges of learning to use a computer when you are blind or visually impaired. They highlight the experiences of seven individuals who participated in a user experience study conducted by AFB TECH and the AFB Center on Vision Loss. This study was designed to illuminate issues facing those who wish to learn to use a computer who may not have experience with the Windows operating system or access to formal training. Learn the results of this study.

Deborah Kendrick interviews Amy Ruell. Ruell worked as a therapist and clinical supervisor for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health for many years. She has also worked for National Braille Press, heading up a program of braille literacy for young children. Ruell is currently president of the Visually Impaired and Blind Users Group in Boston. Read about this advocate for braille literacy and computers.

Jay Leventhal

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