July 2003 Issue  Volume 4  Number 4

Editor's Page

When the American Foundation for the Blind launched AccessWorld in January 2000, our goal was to reach as many people as possible with a magazine that featured objective product evaluations and presented a wide range of technology-related articles. It has become clear to us that the best way to accomplish this goal in the future is on the web. For that reason, beginning with the January 2004 issue, AccessWorld will become a free publication available only on our web site.

Publishing AccessWorld on the web will allow us to give you the same high level of content, editing, and design, along with immediate access to past issues at no extra cost, through a sophisticated search capability and links to related articles. In addition to being able to read AccessWorld online, you will have the options of downloading printer-ready and braille embosser–ready files or e-mailing an article to a friend or colleague. Selected product evaluations and other articles will also be available through AFB's Information Center and at our exhibit booth at conferences.

You, our current subscribers, are extremely important in this transition. Whether you have subscribed recently, or have been reading AccessWorld since the first issue, we want you to move with us to the web. We want your input on the transition and on what types of features you would like us to add online.

All subscribers should have received letters explaining how to renew subscriptions that expire before the November 2003 issue, as well as how we will handle refunds for subscriptions that extend after January 1, 2004. If you have questions, please call our customer service department at 800-232-3044 or 412-741-1398.

We know that some people who are blind or visually impaired, including a small number of our current subscribers, will not be able to take advantage of AccessWorld as a free magazine because they do not have Internet access. However, AccessWorld's subscription price has also been a barrier for potential readers. Thousands more people who are blind, as well as their families and friends, will be able to find, read and use the information we provide when it is free on the web. Join us in this move to the future.

In This Issue

In this issue, Amy Salmon, managing partner, and Doug Anzlovar, partner, of ComputAbility Today, an assistive technology training company serving the Chicago area, present the first of two articles evaluating the three leading screen magnifiers: ZoomText Xtra from Ai Squared, LunarPlus from Dolphin Computer Access, and Freedom Scientific's MAGic. They evaluate LunarPlus this month; MAGic and ZoomText will be reviewed in September. Each program's performance in Microsoft Word, Internet Explorer, Excel, and Outlook Express was evaluated. Tests focused on color and contrast settings, tracking, and supplemental speech output.

I review Trekker, VisuAide's new orientation tool based on global satellite positioning (GPS) technology. Trekker consists of an off-the-shelf personal digital assistant (PDA), a GPS receiver, a speaker, and a battery pack. These four pieces are attached to a strap that is worn around your neck. Trekker announces intersections as you approach them, as well as points of interest from a commercial database, such as restaurants, banks, schools, and gas stations. The first version of Trekker cannot determine the direction in which you are heading, does not let you plot routes from your starting point to your destination, and does not allow you to adjust the rate of the speech. When more features are added, however, Trekker could well become a very useful orientation tool.

Darren Burton, Mark Uslan, Karla Schnell, and Craig Swisher of AFB's Technology and Employment Center in Huntington, West Virginia (AFB TECH), present Part 2 of an evaluation of top-of-the-line cell phones. In May, AccessWorld presented an evaluation of the Audiovox CDM9500 phone. This month, we present similar reports on products from Motorola, Sanyo, and Sony-Ericsson. Evaluation criteria included tactile identification of keys, the ability to navigate menus, presence of auditory or vibratory feedback and the readability of the visual display for people with low vision. Find out the sad details about the inaccessibility of these phones, and which one we reluctantly chose as best. Caesar Eghtesadi, Ph.D., president of Tech for All Inc., a technology accessibility consulting firm, presents some options for more accessible cell phones in the near future.

Dr. James A. Kutsch, Jr., vice president of technology for a global leader in outsourced customer service and billing, writes about the rise in popularity of electric ranges with flat cooking surfaces and electric ovens with digital controls. He found that almost all the electric ranges in new homes and on showroom floors were flat-surface cooktop models. Kutsch describes his encounters with salespeople and cooks up some potential accessibility solutions.

Jay Leventhal, Editor in Chief

Note: There was some confusion in the May issue regarding which of Audiovox's cellular telephones were cited in the complaints filed with the FCC. The original informal complaint concerned the Audiovox CDM9000. The later formal complaint was filed against the Audiovox CDM9500, the model that Audiovox had indicated would address accessibility issues and that was reviewed in the May issue.—Ed.

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