July 2004 Issue  Volume 5  Number 4

AccessWorld News


Share your assistive technology expertise as a speaker at the 2005 Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) Conference, the industry's leading conference in educating and showcasing the latest advances in assistive technology. Assistive technology specialists and professionals in the blindness field are invited to submit proposals to present during the ATIA Conference, to be held for the first time at the Caribe Royale All-Suites Resort in Orlando, Florida, January 19-22, 2005.

ATIA is seeking presentations in assistive technology from professionals who work in the field of blindness technology: clinicians, teachers, assistive technology specialists, rehabilitation specialists, assistive technology teams, government personnel, and assistive technology vendors. Presentations should focus on practical applications and innovative uses of assistive technology. All submissions must be received by August 2, 2004. For more information, contact: Jim Denham, e-mail: <jdenham@afb.net> or ATIA web site: <www.atia.org/conf_2005.html>.


Ai Squared recently announced the release of version 8.11 of its popular ZoomText program. Among the added features are the ability to read PDF files without special settings in Adobe Reader, support for Find and Spell Check in Microsoft Word, and improved support for creating and reading e-mail in such programs as Outlook, Outlook Express, AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo and Lotus Notes. The update is available free for download by registered users of ZoomText version 8.10. Either activate the automated update feature in ZoomText or manually download the new release at <www.aisquared.com/Support/Updates.htm>. To learn more about the ZoomText program or for a 30-day trial of Version 8.11, go to <www.aisquared.com/zt8> or request the free trial version on CD by calling AI Squared sales at 800-859-0270.


If you've ever gotten a new computer and realized that you liked your old Windows Media Player 7.0 better than the new 9.0, or needed an earlier version of Eudora or WinZip to function more compatibly with some other applications, OldVersion.com is a site you'll want to bookmark. The site offers 474 downloads, which are various versions of 51 different programs. Each program is accompanied by a brief description of its functions and features. All downloads are free. Check it out at <www.OldVersion.com>.


The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) invites nominations for its 2005 Access Awards, which honor individuals, corporations, and organizations that strive to eliminate or substantially reduce inequities faced by people who are blind or visually impaired. The awards will be presented on March 11, 2005, during the 2005 Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. The deadline for letters of nomination is Monday, September 13, 2004.

Nominations for the AFB Access Awards should illustrate an exceptional and innovative effort that has improved the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired by enhancing access to information, the environment, technology, education, or employment, including making mainstream products and services accessible. The effort should be one that has a national impact or can be a model for replication on a national level.

Letters of nomination should be sent, preferably via e-mail, to: James Denham, AFB 2005 Access Awards Committee, 949 Third Avenue, Suite 200, Huntington, WV 25701; e-mail: jdenham@afb.net; web site: <www.afb.org>.


Optelec USA has been moving fast in 2004—adding products, adding people, and making deals. Known for its prominent role in the field of video magnifiers and other products for people with low vision, the company is expanding its North American business by the addition of a new blindness products division. Larry Lewis, Optelec's new vice president of blindness sales, has a reputation for standing behind innovative technology in the blindness field and for attention to detail in terms of quality and usability. Additions to his team thus far include JoAnn Becker, blindness product manager, and Mike Pedersen, director of corporate development, both of whom are blind themselves and who bring expertise in the use of braille and speech technology.

Another feature of Optelec's new presence in the field is a promising collaboration with Dolphin Computer Access. The two companies plan to work together promoting, from Optelec's holdings, the Tieman line of refreshable braille displays, along with Dolphin's screen-reading software. From June 1–September 30, 2004, Optelec and Dolphin are promoting a package of Braille Voyager plus Supernova at a considerably reduced price to bring the collaboration to the attention of consumers who are blind. Braille Voyager is a lightweight braille display, available in either 44- or 70-cell versions. Supernova is Dolphin's integrated screen reader and screen magnifier. For the four-month promotional period, the combination of Supernova Version 6 with either of the Braille Voyager braille displays will be available at a 15% discount from suggested list prices. For further information, contact: Optelec USA; phone: 800-828-1056; web site: <www.optelec.com> or Dolphin Computer Access; phone: 866-797-5921; e-mail: <info@dolphinusa.com>.


In a special arrangement with Springer Design, manufacturers of the BookCourier, the Lutheran Braille Evangelism Association has made available a digital talking Bible at a subsidized rate for people who are blind or visually impaired. About the size of a pager, the unit comes preloaded with any one of seven different translations and includes all 66 books of the entire Old and New Testaments. Using a telephone-style keypad, the user can navigate easily by book, chapter, or verse, can search for particular passages, bookmark passages, and adjust volume, speed, and other functions. The device uses the Double Talk speech synthesizer. The unit is about the size of a pager, and comes ready to use—with an AA battery installed, earbuds included, and a quick-start user's guide both on cassette and in print. The complete user's guide is in the BibleCourier itself. The BibleCourier is available for a $100 donation. To order, contact: Lutheran Braille Evangelism, 1740 Eugene St., White Bear Lake, MN 55110-3312; phone: 651-426-0469; web site: <www.lbea.org>.


Freedom Scientific has recently released MAGic 9.0, the latest update to its versatile screen magnification with speech program. Version 9.0 affords the user considerable flexibility in customizing and control over screen colors, cursor, and mouse pointer. The appearance of cursor or mouse pointer can be varied in terms of line thickness, shape, size, and configurations of schemes can be saved and called up for use in various contexts. The Quick View Frame allows the user to monitor a small area on the screen that is not magnified while working in other areas that are. Many other options are available in this new update, giving each individual the opportunity to customize the program to accommodate his or her degree and type of vision. MAGic 9.0 is available free to all registered users of MAGic 8.X as a download or on CD for a charge of $10. Contact: Freedom Scientific, phone: 800-444-4443; web site: <www.freedomscientific.com>.

The SAL (Speech Assisted Learning) interactive braille learning system continues to evolve. Students learning braille can progress at an individual pace, working on lessons without a teacher present while receiving immediate feedback from the system. Teachers can adapt their own braille instruction or other tactile perception curriculum by using Script Authoring for SAL, or SALSA, available from Duxbury Systems, or can use courseware already available from Exceptional Teaching Aids. Dr. Sally Mangold, SAL's developer, will be holding workshops in its use at various locations, including the AER international conference in Orlando, Florida, July 13–19. For more information, contact: Duxbury Systems, 270 Littleton Rd., Unit 6, Westford, MA 01886-3523; phone: 978-692-3000; web site: <www.duxburysystems.com/salsa.asp>. Exceptional Teaching Aids, 20102 Woodbine Ave., Castro Valley, CA 94546; phone: 800-549-6999; e-mail: <ExTeaching@aol.com>; web site: <www.exceptionalteaching.com>.

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