May 2008 Issue  Volume 9  Number 3

Editor's Page

The AT&T Technology Innovation Award was presented to Benetech on March 14 at the 20th Anniversary Gala Celebration of the Alliance for Technology Access (ATA) that took place during the Technology and Persons with Disabilities (CSUN) Conference in Los Angeles. The ATA is a national network of community-based resource centers, developers, vendors, and associates who are dedicated to providing information and support services to children and adults with disabilities. The AT&T Technology Innovation Award recognizes an outstanding assistive technology company that has created a lasting impact through the development of assistive technologies that are applied in communication, education, employment, daily living, and recreation. Benetech received the award for running Bookshare, the online repository of more than 37,000 books that can be downloaded by people who are blind, have low vision, or have other print disabilities.

Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman, well known to many AccessWorld readers, is one of the most innovative and dynamic leaders in the assistive technology field. As the keynote speaker at this year's CSUN conference, Fruchterman spoke about the Raising the Floor initiative that he and Gregg Vanderheiden, of the TRACE Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, developed. Fruchterman noted that most people who are blind do not have technology. He sees a future in which technology will be less expensive and more available. The cell phone could be the platform on which a wide range of technologies are delivered. This sounds wonderful. But if you have shopped for an accessible cell phone lately, you know that there are not that many attractive options. As a start, we need more cell phones with keys that are easily identifiable by touch for Fruchterman's vision to come true.

In this issue, Deborah Kendrick reports on the 23rd annual Technology and Persons with Disabilities conference, hosted by the Center on Disabilities of California State University at Northridge. Read our coverage to find out about new and updated products and a sampling of the hundreds of presentations.

Darren Burton presents an overview of digital audio players. He contrasts the experience of listening to the vinyl records many of us remember with using current players. He writes about the Creative Zen Stone, different versions of Apple's iPod, the Book Port, BookCourier, Victor Reader Stream, Milestone 311, Icon, Braille+ and more. Darren will follow this article with a more detailed comparison of these players in the July issue of AccessWorld.

Bradley Hodges, of AFB TECH, writes about the accessibility of business phone systems. He describes a solution developed by a business phone company called Avaya--Universal Access Phone Status (UAPS.) This software monitors all activity for any phone on a system and will announce changes as they happen or on request, depending on the customer's preferences. The article also describes the process of setting up a VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) phone system at home.

Lee Huffman, of AFB TECH, provides an update on the SenseView CCTV from GW Micro. He evaluates the addition of a camera for handwriting. This new, extremely lightweight, plug-in style camera has increased the SenseView's functionality, allowing you to sign documents, write checks, and fill out short forms and write notes, which you could not do with the SenseView before.

Jay Leventhal
Editor in Chief

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