September 2008 Issue  Volume 9  Number 5

Product Evaluation

Now Playing: A Review of the Accessibility of Digital Audio Players, Part 2: Assistive Technology Players

This is the last in a series of articles, funded by the Reader's Digest Partners for Sight Foundation and the Huntington Foundation, covering what I call portable media players--that is, players with built-in memory storage or removable storage cards, not CD-based players. In the July 2008 issue of AccessWorld, Part 1 of this review focused on mainstream players, such as Apple's popular iPod and the Creative Zen Stone. This article focuses on players that were designed from the outset specifically to be accessible to people with visual impairments. I have heard these players called adaptive players or assistive technology players, but, for the purposes of this article, I call them simply assistive players. I focus on using these players with digital music, books, and other sources of digital information. This article examines the BookCourier, the Victor Reader Stream, the Milestone 311/312, and the players from Plextor. The Book Port is not included, since the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) has discontinued it. This article also discusses the media players that are included in several assistive technology PDA (personal digital assistant) devices, including the PAC Mate, BrailleNote/VoiceNote, Braille Sense/Voice Sense, and Braille+/Icon, as well as accessing digital media on cell phones using the third-party screen-reader software products TALKS, Mobile Speak, and Smart Hal. You can go to the View the Product Features links at the end of this article to get a quick comparison of each player's features, such as the types of book and music formats they play.

Handheld Portable Media Players

I start with the handheld assistive players that were designed specifically for accessing digital media files.

The BookCourier

Priced at $395, the BookCourier, manufactured by Springer Design, is a descendant of the Road Runner, a text file reader. It is sold by Springer Design. The BookCourier has 15 keys with various sizes and shapes, measures 5 inches by 2.5 inches by 1 inch, and weighs six ounces with batteries. It plays electronic files in text formats using the DoubleTalk speech synthesizer for reading those files, and although DoubleTalk is not the most popular synthesizer on the market, people who are familiar with using speech synthesis can certainly get used to it. The BookCourier also plays audio books recorded by live narrators. It plays books and music in several formats, including MP3, WAV, HTML, TXT, RTF, BRF and Microsoft Word DOC, and books from,, and Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D.) It does not yet play the new downloadable books from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) or books from Overdrive or Net Library.

The BookCourier gives you several ways to navigate text files, including by page, paragraph, sentence, and word. The volume, pitch, and speed of the synthetic voice are adjustable, and you can switch between DoubleTalk voices. The BookCourier keeps your place in books and music when you turn it off or when you move to another book or song, but it does not have the ability to shuffle your music or use playlists. It has a built-in recorder to record voice memos, such as a telephone number or a to-do list, and allows you to set bookmarks in files, a valuable feature for students who need to highlight sections of textbooks.

The BookCourier stores your books and music on compact flash cards, up to 4 GB in size. It runs on 2 AA batteries and has a command to tell you the remaining battery level. It does not have a built-in speaker, so you have to use headphones or an external set of speakers. It has accessible documentation on board.

Springer Design announced that it is planning to release an updated BookCourier, but its web site says that the release has been pushed back because of technical issues with its vendors. The web site claims the following about the enhancements that will be part of the new BookCourier:

  • SD memory. The new BookCourier will support SD (secure digital) cards as well as compact flash cards. In the first release, it will support SD cards up to 4 GB, with support for 8 GB cards in a future update, and will continue to support compact flash cards up to 4 GB.
  • USB 2.0. The new BookCourier will support the USB 2.0 communication protocol, allowing high-speed data transfers to and from your PC.
  • Time scale modification (TSM). While BookCourier has always had the ability to control the playback speed of text files, the new TSM feature will allow you to adjust the playback speed of audio files as well.
  • New audio formats. The new BookCourier will play lots of new audio file formats, including OGG Vorbis, WMA, WAV PCM, and IMA-ADPCM.
  • State-of-the-art recording. Improved audio circuitry, as well as an external microphone jack, will allow you to create high-quality recordings in meeting rooms or classrooms.
  • NLS compatibility. NLS support will be available as a firmware upgrade shortly after the new BookCourier starts shipping.
  • DoubleTalk. BookCourier will continue to use the DoubleTalk voice set.
  • The next firmware update following the release of the new BookCourier will include character navigation in text files, direct downloading for compatible files (so you can copy files to BookCourier without using the Transfer software), and the ability to copy a folder with all its files and subfolders from your PC to BookCourier.
  • For $149 plus shipping, you can return your existing BookCourier for an updated BookCourier, but you will have to wait until the new BookCourier is available. You can go to for more information.
The Victor Reader Stream

Priced at $329, HumanWare's Victor Reader Stream is a versatile player and one of the most popular products to come on the assistive technology market in quite some time. It measures 4.6 by 2.6 by 0.9 inches and weighs 6 ounces, including the rechargeable battery. In her review of the Stream in the January 2008 issue of AccessWorld, Deborah Kendrick describes its physical layout as follows:

The Stream is a handheld device similar in size to a deck of cards. Its controls are all tactile and easy to operate, with the only visual indicator being a small LED (light-emitting diode) that enables the user with low vision to know when the unit is off, on, or charging. There are, of course, audio indicators for all the operations as well.

The Stream fits in the palm of your hand. The front contains a 12-button telephone-style keypad. The 5 key has the familiar nib for quick orientation. Above the 1 key is a square button, the Go To page or Heading key, and above the 3 key is a diamond-shaped button, which is the Bookmark key. At the top are the small speaker grill and internal microphone. Below the keypad is a raised-line separator, below which are four more buttons. The bottom three are the Play/Stop button, flanked by the Rewind and Forward keys. The fourth key, centered above them, is a sleep timer. On the left edge of the unit are the round Power button and two arrow-shaped buttons that are used to control volume, speed, and tone. On the right edge are headphone and external microphone jacks and the Record button. Across the top is the small USB port, the AC adapter jack, and, in the center, the slot for the SD (secure digital) card, which stores all content played on the Stream.

In addition to Deborah's description of the Stream, our low vision testers add that it has high-contrast keys and buttons, making it attractive to people with low vision.

The Stream plays several types and formats of audio files and electronic text files. You can choose from three English-speaking Vocalizer speech synthesizers from Nuance to play electronic text in TXT, RTF, BRF, and HTML formats, and it has synthesizers in seven other European languages. The audio file formats that the Stream can play include DAISY, WAV, MP3, AMR-WB+, and unprotected Windows Media Audio (WMA) version 9.0 files. The Stream is also now compatible with files in the FLAC format, which is popular for archiving CDs. The Stream is compatible with books from Bookshare and, as well as the new downloadable books from NLS. It is also compatible with the new NLS book cartridges that you can have mailed to you. However, the Stream is not compatible with protected WMA books from Net Library or Overdrive.

The Stream has a versatile navigation system, using the 2 and 8 keys to scroll through the navigation options, and the 4 and 6 keys to move by the chosen option. Text files and Bookshare books in DAISY format have many navigation options, including by character, word, sentence, line, phrase, page, and level, which usually moves to the beginning or end of the book. It also has Rewind and Fast Forward buttons, so you can quickly review missed segments or skip past segments. Audio books from and NLS have less markup, usually limited to chapters and the beginning and end of the book, and the Stream does not have the ability to add word, sentence, and paragraph markup to unstructured audio files. However, the Stream has a Time Jump feature, allowing you to jump 1, 5, or 10 minutes at a time. It has a Key Lock feature to avoid accidental button presses that may cause you to lose your place in a book.

No special transfer software is necessary with the Stream, so you can transfer books or music from any PC or PDA. You can adjust the playback speed of both text and audio files on the fly with the Stream and can adjust the volume and pitch. The Stream's Go To features allow you to jump to a specific page, heading, book, or bookmark. Unlimited bookmarking is available, and the Stream has a unique audio bookmark feature that allows you to insert a voice memo to highlight a point in the text. This feature is valuable for a student, who could, for example, mark a passage by adding the memo, "The professor says this page will be covered on the test."

Those audio bookmarks take advantage of the Stream's built-in one-touch voice recorder, which allows you to record a voice memo or lecture quickly. The Stream records in AMR-WB+ format, which cannot be played on a PC, but the Stream Companion software can convert it to WAV format if you want to access your recordings on a PC or e-mail them to friends. The software can also help you organize books and music and transfer them to the Stream.

With the version 2.0 upgrade of the Stream, you can now organize your music into playlists in addition to playing your songs straight through or shuffling them randomly. I have owned the Stream for about 10 months and have already had three upgrades to enhance features and functionality. The original speaker power was quite low, but an early fix increased its power enough to play loud enough to read books in a quiet environment. They have also added additional format compatibility and improved its ease of use, so we expect this to be a continually evolving product. One improvement that we at AFB TECH would like to see in later hardware updates is a more substantial nib on the 5 key.

One useful feature of the Stream is that it is compatible with the media content that is available with Serotek's System Access services.

The Stream's documentation is fully accessible, with DOC and HTML versions of the manual available at the web site, and it is saved on the Stream itself, where you can access it at any time by pressing and holding the 1 key. The Stream also has a key describer mode, which you can access by removing the SD memory card.

Overall, the Stream is a solid product, and it is rarely too far from my side. It does not require you to remember a lot of key commands. It has a built-in speaker. It is a fast process to transfer files to the Stream, and for those of us who are avid readers, the Stream's ability to play NLS books is a big advantage.

The Milestone 311 and 312

Manufactured by Bones, the Milestone 311 costs $369 and is available from Independent Living Aids. Deborah Kendrick's review of the Milestone in the September 2006 issue of AccessWorld had this to say:

The Milestone 311 says it measures 2 inches wide by 3 inches tall (the size of a credit card, but a bit narrower at the bottom than at the top) and is about a half-inch thick. On the top edge is one tiny button (the Selector button), a USB port, and a connection for an AC power adapter. On the bottom edge is a headphone jack that doubles as an external microphone jack. The remaining five buttons on the face of the unit are distinctly shaped and textured, so that even those with limited finger sensitivity can readily identify them. These buttons are arranged after the fashion of a cursor cross around a center circle. There is a tiny round button with a raised rim for Record, a large concave circle for Play, prominently defined left and right arrow shapes for Rewind and Fast Forward, and a large button with a distinctly raised X at the bottom, called the Mode button. The front of the unit also sports a tiny built-in microphone and built-in speaker. On the right-hand edge is a slot for a secure digital (SD) card. All these elements are readily discernible by touch. The audible prompts and feedback messages are all spoken in a clear female voice.

The Milestone 311 is a fully accessible device with a well-designed tactilely identifiable interface, and the voice is easy enough to understand. We found it a bit difficult to learn and use all its keystrokes and keystroke combinations. However, the real drawback of this device is that you are paying a lot of money for not a great deal of functionality. The Milestone 311 is a fine MP3 player and voice recorder, but the price is higher than that of the Victor Reader Stream, without nearly the level of features and functions.

Although the new Milestone 312 was not yet available at the time this article was written, a posting at claims that the new model will have the following enhancements:

  • Universal audio playback and recording: no hassle with file formats anymore. Milestone 312 plays back DAISY 2.02, DAISY 3.0, MP3, AAC, WAV, OGG, WMA and Recording is possible in MP3 or WAV, either to an SD memory card or to the internal Flash memory. Playback in variable speed is possible in any of the mentioned formats.
  • Universal text playback: Milestone 312 reads TXT, DOC and HTML files, in 19 available languages. Five of them can be stored simultaneously inside the internal memory. The TTS engine is from Acapela.
  • Integrated FM tuner.
  • Integrated RFID Speakout functionality to identify tags and associate messages with them. Milestone 312 works with technology from Texas Instruments, a global leader for RFID solutions.
  • The integrated clock allows the time stamping of messages as well as alarm functions. For instance, time-controlled recording from the FM tuner is possible.
  • As of autumn 2008, hardware options, so-called Add-Ons, will be available. The first two Add-Ons will be a Color Detector and a High-End Stereo Microphone.

With these enhancements, the Milestone 312 promises to be a competitor to the Victor Reader Stream, especially with its smaller size, as long as there is not a significant price increase.

The Players from Plextor

Many AccessWorld readers are familiar with Plextor's Plextalk products, which are CD-based players and recorders. These devices do not really fit into the category of handheld players. However, as we were conducting this project, Plextor announced a new handheld player, the Plextalk Pocket, that will fit well into this category. Unfortunately, the product has not yet been launched, and we have not been able to test one in our lab. However, Plextor did send us one of the PTR2 devices, and we did get a chance to examine it.

Priced at $895, the PTR2 is much more expensive than the other players reviewed in this article. Also, its 8.1 by 6.6 by 2-inch size is more than double the others' sizes. Then again, this is a different animal. If you are really into recording or editing music and creating DAISY books, this player may be perfect. The player has two modes--one for normal use and another for more advanced creating and editing of DAISY books and music. It can also act as an external CD burner. The PTR2 is mainly a powerful recording tool for creating audio CDs and DAISY books, but it also can play files in MP3, WAV, and DAISY formats. The buttons are tactile, and the user guide is well written, giving references to the size and shape of these buttons in its text and providing fully accessible instructions in its use.

For your basic needs of listening to music and DAISY books, you can get a smaller, less expensive unit that will fill your needs just as well as the PTR2. That leads me to the new Plextalk Pocket. In examining the PTR2, we discovered that it is certainly a solid, accessible, well-built product, and we hope that the Pocket is of the same quality. I had a demonstration of the Pocket at this summer's American Council of the Blind convention and found that it is a bit smaller than the Victor Reader Stream. I also noticed that it has tactilely identifiable buttons and a text-to-speech synthesizer that reads menus, and I used it to play an MP3 song and a DAISY book. It also has a built-in microphone and recorder, so it may have many of the same recording features as the PTR2. The Pocket will be launched later this year, and AccessWorld will bring you details when they are finalized. As we completed this article, it was not clear which file types the Pocket would play upon its release, so we did not included it in the Product Features chart at the end of this article.

Media Players Built into Assistive Technology PDAs/Notetakers

All of today's popular notetakers/PDAs can play electronic text and audio files. Here, I briefly discuss the media players that are built into HumanWare's BrailleNote/VoiceNote line of PDA/notetakers, Freedom Scientific's PAC Mate line, GW Micro's Braille Sense/Voice Sense, and the Icon and Braille+ products from LevelStar and APH, respectively. I will not go into all the details of all the features of these powerful devices because that is an article or two in itself. Instead, I just briefly discuss their abilities concerning playing books and music.

Icon and Braille+

These small devices could have been in the handheld category, but because of their much more diverse feature set, they fit better in the PDA/notetaker category. They are nearly identical devices, except that the Braille+ has a braille keyboard for input. They play WMA, MP3, BRF, TXT, HTML, and WAV file formats, and they are compatible with the new downloadable books from NLS, as well as books from RFB&D and Bookshare. They do not yet work with Net Library or Overdrive books. You can also download books and music wirelessly if you have a wireless Internet connection. These devices also have built-in recorders and speakers. You can play your music in file order, shuffle it randomly, or organize it in playlists.

The PAC Mate

Freedom Scientific's PAC Mate has the mobile version of the Windows Media Player and can play audio files in many formats, including WMA, MP3, and WAV. It can also access electronic files in many formats, including DOC, RTF, TXT, and HTML. It has the ability to play protected books, so it is compatible with books from, RFB&D, Net Library, and Overdrive, but not from NLS. It also works with Bookshare books and has a free Bookshare unpack utility. Freedom Scientific sells a DAISY player for the PAC Mate for $80, and it will synchronize the audio and text of a DAISY book that has both.

The PAC Mate can play your music files in file order or shuffle them and has the ability to organize music by genre, artist, and album, just like the iPod and other mainstream portable media players can. It also has a built-in voice recorder.

The Braille Sense and Voice Sense

Available from GW Micro, these devices can play many audio formats, including WAV, MP3 and WMA. They are also compatible with electronic text files in several formats, including TXT, RTF, DOC, and HTML. They are not compatible with books from, RFB&D, Net Library, or Overdrive, but I have been told that access to NLS books will be available in future updates. They support Bookshare books and have a built-in tool for unpacking them. They also have a built-in DAISY player.

These devices have external buttons for accessing their media players, so you can listen to music while you use them for other tasks, such as writing a letter. We worked with the Voice Sense in our lab, and its small size is unique in the notetaker/PDA market. It fits in a large pocket fairly easily.

The BrailleNote and VoiceNote

These devices from HumanWare have a built-in media player that plays several types of audio files, such as MP3, WMA, and WAV formats. They are also compatible with electronic text in several formats, including TXT, DOC, RTF, BRF, and their own KeyNote file format. They do not play books from, NLS, Net Library, or Overdrive, but they do play books from RFB&D and Bookshare. These devices have built-in support for downloading and unpacking Bookshare books. They have a built-in DAISY book player and support audio and text-only DAISY files, synchronizing the two file types when both are included in a DAISY book. In addition, they can play music organized in playlists and have a built-in voice recorder. Their FM radio player does not get good reception.

Cell Phone Media Players

Again, I will not go into a lengthy discussion of all the cell phones that can play books and music. Instead, I briefly discuss how some cell phones, along with third-party screen-reading and screen-magnifying software, can access various types of electronic text files and audio media. You can read my many articles on cell phones in AccessWorld to learn more about cell phones and screen readers.

Basically, there are three types of cell phones that have media players and are compatible with third-party screen readers and magnifiers. Cell phones with the Symbian operating system are compatible with the TALKS screen reader and ZOOMS magnifier from Nuance, as well as the Mobile Speak and Mobile Magnifier products from Code Factory. Those with the Windows Mobile Smartphone or Windows Mobile Pocket PC operating system are compatible with the Code Factory products, as well as with the Smart Hal and Pocket Hal screen readers. You can learn more, including which cell phones are compatible with which products, at the products' web sites:,, and

The Symbian cell phones play WMA and MP3 music and books from and However, you have to unpack your Bookshare books on a PC first and then transfer the HTML version to your phone. These cell phones have limited options for navigating books, but they do have the ability to organize music by genre, artist, and album, as well as by playlists. The Windows cell phones, along with Dolphin's Hal screen reader and the Mobile Speak products, perform similarly to the Symbian cell phones. However, there is an advantage in using Mobile Speak with Bookshare books because Code Factory has an optional DAISY player and Bookshare unpack utility. So, you can download a Bookshare book with the Web browser, unpack the book, and read it from anywhere that you can pick up a cell signal. None of the cell phones can yet play books from NLS or RFB&D.

User Study

AFB TECH gathered eight people with various degrees of visual impairment to conduct an informal user study to get their opinions on the various assistive players that are reviewed in this article, as well as the mainstream players that were reviewed in the July 2008 issue of AccessWorld.

The participants had different levels of technological savviness and ranged in age from 27 to 65. Each user spent an entire afternoon learning to use the various players and performing some basic tasks, such as transferring files and listening to books and music files.

On the mainstream side of things, seven participants preferred the Creative Zen Stone and Apple's iPod shuffle, citing the ease of use and the nearly complete accessibility of these products. However, one tester, the youngest of the group, preferred the iPod Classic because of the wider range of features and functions that are available. He said that he did not mind memorizing all the processes using the "count and press" method to listen to books, music, and movies. All the participants agreed that the iPod Touch and Microsoft Zune player are virtually unusable.

On the assistive side of things, seven participants preferred the Victor Reader Stream, citing the overall ease of use and the ease and speed of transferring files. They also valued the Stream's ability to play the new downloadable books from NLS, but several said that they wished the NLS books had more markup for more navigation options. However, we again had one dissenter, who preferred the now-discontinued Book Port. She agreed that it takes longer to transfer books to the Book Port, but that the Book Port more than made up for this failing with its ability to mark up books and its braille-input functions for searching for text in a text file and for using it as a braille notetaker.

Additional Players

One of the promising things that we noticed while working on this project is all the new players and updates that became available. At the time that I submitted this article, Dean Martineau's Top Tech Tidbits announced yet another player: Mobil-Eyes, a device that is a reading machine, audio player, and PDA all in one, and is sold by ATC. You can download a video demonstration of Mobil-Eyes at (; just know that it is a large file.

We also heard of a device called the VIPlayer, but it was not available in the United States when we did this study. The VIPlayer is produced by Saks Electronics, and you can learn more about it at

The Bottom Line

After working on this project for several months, we concluded that the assistive technology industry is paying serious attention to accessing books and music. In the category of handheld players, the Victor Reader Stream is now the leading product. AFB TECH testers generally preferred the Stream because of its slightly-easier-to-use interface and because it plays NLS books. We continue to hear about new players entering this market, and current players are being updated. We hope that this industry continues to pay close attention to accessing books and music and that more players continue to come on the market.

One final cautionary note: With all these devices, you have to invest the necessary time to learn how to use them. They are much more powerful than cassette players, but are more difficult to use. That being said, it is by no means an exercise in rocket science to use these players. Some due diligence and reading the manual, along with a little basic computer expertise, is all that is necessary to enjoy the numerous benefits of these players.

Additional Resources

In A Pocketful of Sound, an excellent book from National Braille Press, Anna Dresner provides many more details on the operation of many of the devices that are covered in this article.

Brian Hartgen's web site, found at, provides lots of information about players. often has informative podcasts regarding portable media players.

Dean Martineau's weekly e-mail message of Top Tech Tidbits often has useful information about media players and sources of books and music at

There is a tutorial for JAWS users of Windows Media Player at

Dolphin, Freedom Scientific and HumanWare all have PC-based Daisy players that you can purchase at their web sites,,, and

Sources of Books and Music

Now that you know about the players, what about the music and books you will want to play on them? There are a myriad of online sources for books and music, but here are just a few that we found useful.


This is just a fantastic resource for books, magazines, and newspapers in electronic text formats.

The NLS's downloadable books program:

This is an excellent source for books in recorded audio format. is another great source for recorded audio books, but it requires a $14.95 monthly subscription. is an accessible source for purchasing music from independent musicians. is an accessible site for purchasing unprotected commercial music in MP3 format. is another site for purchasing unprotected music, but the site has some quirks that take some getting used to. is the site to order books from Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic, a leading source for accessible text and reference books for students.

Product Information

Product: BookCourier.

Manufacturer: Springer Design, 375 Diablo Road, Suite 105, Danville, CA 94526; phone: 925-838-1885; e-mail:; web site:

Price: $379 (discounts are available for subscribers and users of Kurzweil 1000).

Product: Victor Reader Stream.

Manufacturer: HumanWare, 175 Mason Circle, Concord, CA 94520; phone: 800-722-3393; e-mail:; web site:

Price: $329.

Product: Milestone 311/312.

Manufacturer: Bones, Böhnirainstrasse 14, CH-8800 Thalwil, Switzerland; phone: +41-41-726 42 70; e-mail:; web site:

U.S. Distributor: Independent Living Aids, P.O. Box 9022, Hicksville, NY 11802-9022; phone: 800-537-2118; e-mail:; web site:

Price: Milestone 311: $369; Milestone 312: not yet available.

Products: Icon and Braille+.

Manufacturer: LevelStar, 1500 Cherry Street, Suite D, Louisville, CO 80027; phone: 800-315-2305; e-mail:; web site:

Icon distributor: LevelStar.

Braille+ Distributor: American Printing House for the Blind, P.O. Box 6085, Louisville, KY 40206-0085; phone: 800-223-1839 (toll free) or 502-895-2405; web site:

Price: both Icon and Braille+: $1,395.

Product: MobilEyes.

Manufacturer: Guerilla Technologies, 5029 SE Horseshoe Point Road, Stuart, FL 34997; phone: 772-283-0500; e-mail:; web site:

U.S. Distributor: Assistive Technology Center, 5330 Power Inn Road, Suite F, Sacramento, CA 95820; phone: 916-381-5011; e-mail:; web site:

Price: MobilEyes Basic: $3,500; MobilEyes Professional: $5,000.

Products: Braille Sense Plus and Voice Sense.

Manufacturer: Human Information Management Services, 139-9, Gajung-dong, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, Korea, 305-350; phone: +82-42-864-4460 (ext. 200); e-mail:; web site:

U.S. Distributor: GW Micro, 725 Airport North Office Park, Fort Wayne, IN 46825; phone: 260-489-3671; e-mail:; web site:

Price: Braille Sense Plus: $5,995; Voice Sense: $2,395.

Products: BrailleNote line of products.

Manufacturer: HumanWare, 175 Mason Circle, Concord, CA 94520; phone: 800-722-3393; e-mail:; web site:

Price: Various prices.

Products: PAC Mate line of products.

Manufacturer: Freedom Scientific, 11800 31st Court North, St. Petersburg, FL 33716-1805; phone: 800-444-4443 or 727-803-8000; e-mail:; web site:

Price: Various prices.

Products: PTR2 and Plextalk Pocket.

Manufacturer: Plextor, Chuo, Ueda-shi Nagano-ken, 386-0012 Japan; phone: 81-268-28-8282; e-mail:; web site:

U.S. Distributor: Innovative Rehabilitation Technology, 13453 Colfax Highway, Grass Valley, CA 95945; phone: 530-274-2090; e-mail:; web site:

Price: PTR2: $895; Plextalk Pocket: $359.

Products: TALKS and ZOOMS.

Manufacturer: Nuance Communications, 1 Wayside Road, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-565-5000; web site: (The web site includes free downloads of demonstration versions and a list of vendors).

U.S. Distributors: Beyond Sight, 5650 South Windermere Street, Littleton, CO 80120; phone: 303-795-6455; e-mail:; web site:

Sendero Group: 1118 Maple Lane, Davis, CA 95616; phone: 530-757-6800; e-mail:; web site:

VisionCue: 4858-A S.W. Scholls Ferry Road, Portland, OR 97225; phone: 888-318-2582 or 503-297-1510; e-mail:; web site:

Price: $295.

Products: Mobile Speak and Mobile Magnifier.

Manufacturer: Code Factory, S.L., Rambla Egara, 148, 2-2 08221, Terrassa (Barcelona) Spain; phone: 34-93-733-7066; e-mail:; web site:

Price: $295.

Also available from AT&T for $89 on selected phones. For more information, call AT&T's National Center for Customers with Disabilities at 866-241-6568.

Products: Smart Hal and Pocket Hal.

Manufacturer: Dolphin Computer Access, Technology House, Blackpole Estate West Worcester UK, WR3 8TJ; phone: 650-348-7401; e-mail:; web site:

Price: Smart Hal: $295; Pocket Hal: $495.

We at AFB TECH would like to thank the Reader's Digest Partners for Sight and the Huntington Foundation for the funding provided to conduct our project on portable media players and to write this series of articles.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail us at

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