March 2007 Issue  Volume 8  Number 2

AccessWorld News

Keyboard Shortcuts for Vista

Microsoft provides a summary of keyboard shortcuts for navigating Windows Vista that computer users who are blind or have low vision may find useful. The links listed include general keyboard shortcuts, as well as shortcuts for navigating dialog boxes, Windows sidebars, Windows Explorer, and Microsoft keyboards. While many of them will be familiar to most users of screen readers, some are unique to Windows Vista. To take a look, visit: <>.

Text-Only Link to Google Maps

Using online sources to find driving directions from one location to another has been made easier for people who are blind who use screen readers or braille displays and for sighted people who use PDAs (personal digital assistants) or cell phones to get mapping information. Although services, such as Google Maps and MapQuest are usable by people who are blind, Google's Textual Maps UI makes accessing the actual directions considerably quicker and more efficient. To get accurate text-only step-by-step directions to a business or residence in just seconds, copy the following link into your browser <>. In the edit box, type the starting point to the destination of your trip (such as 1234 Main Street, Smallville 12345 to 5678 Elm Street, Smallville 12345). The text directions will be delivered in seconds--without the tedium of finding your way around graphical clutter.

Seven-Ounce Braille Device

HumanWare has introduced BrailleConnect 12, the smallest braille display that is currently available. Weighing only 7 ounces and measuring roughly 3 by 5 inches, the device has 12 braille cells, 12 routing buttons, and keys for braille input and navigation. Connecting wirelessly via a Bluetooth connection, the BrailleConnect 12 was designed to work as a braille input and output display that is able to interact with a wide range of devices and software. It can be used in conjunction with a PDA, cell phone, PC, or notebook computer. Popular screen readers that are supported by the BrailleConnect 12 include Window-Eyes, JAWS, Hal, Virgo, Talks, Mobile Speak, and Pocket Hal. The unit is housed in a durable aluminum case and is reported to have a battery life of about 20 hours.

Also available is the BrailleConnect 40, which has all the same features but includes 40 braille cells and USB connection capability.

For additional information, visit HumanWare's web site <> or phone 800-722-3393.

Dictionary and Thesaurus for BrailleNote Products

HumanWare has released the Concise Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus for use with the BrailleNote family of products. With a single keystroke, users can access definitions, spellings, and synonyms from anywhere within the KeySoft word processor, web browser, or book reader. Entries are spoken through the BrailleNote synthesizer and/or read on the braille display. The Concise Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus will run on the BrailleNote mPower, BrailleNote PK, or classic BrailleNote or VoiceNote products running Keysoft 7.2 Build 47. It can be easily accessed from either braille or qwerty-style BrailleNote products. The cost is $195. For more information, visit the HumanWare web site <> or phone 800-722-3393.

New Digital Recorders with Voice-Guided Menus

Olympus has released three new digital recorders that are reported to be particularly accessible to users who are blind or have low vision. The DS-30, DS-40, and DS-50 offer high-contrast digital displays, voice-guided menus, easily discernible buttons for playing and recording music, audio books, podcasts, and personal recordings. All three are compatible with materials. The storage capacity ranges from 256K to 1 gigabyte and the prices from $149 to $249. All features can be accessed through voice menus, including setting the time and date and setting a timer to start and stop recording at designated times. The Olympus DS series recorders include removable microphones and boast high-quality stereo sound. They are available at many retail and online electronics sources, including <>.

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