The beginning of the year brings two new features to the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB), one of which is introduced this month. If you are a seasoned reader of JVIB, you probably recall that evaluations of various products and technological devices used to be a regular feature of the journal. Several years ago, these evaluations were transferred to a new AFB Press publication, AccessWorldŽ: Technology and People with Visual Impairments . The success of AccessWorldŽ has been overwhelming, and its subscribers, most of whom are personal users of specialized technology, have benefited from targeted information and critical product reviews on a regular basis. However, publishing product reviews in a separate publication denied many JVIB readers ready access to this wealth of valuable information.
Beginning this month, product reviews will return to the pages of JVIB. Under the heading Technology Notes, the product reviews will be geared to the needs of a broader audience than AccessWorldŽ, encompassing individuals with visual impairments as well as professionals and others who provide educational or rehabilitation services. While product reviews will be a regular feature of JVIB, AccessWorldŽ will continue to publish information about technology for people with visual impairments, though in a web-based format only. Also, beginning with the January issue, AccessWorldŽ will be free of charge for anyone who visits its web site at <www.afb.org/aw>. For each product evaluated in JVIB, another version of the review will appear in AccessWorldŽ that will present more technical information geared to the needs of consumers and technology specialists.
This month's Technology Notes presents an evaluation of Speech Assisted Learning (SAL), a device that was designed to be used in braille instruction. This device was developed by Dr. Sally Mangold, one of the world's most respected authorities on braille instruction, and is manufactured by Freedom Scientific. The evaluation of SAL was prepared by Frances Mary D'Andrea, a noted authority on literacy issues and practices for persons with visual impairments and director of AFB's National Literacy Center in Atlanta. D'Andrea shares her evaluation of SAL by highlighting information that will be of greatest interest to teachers of students with visual impairments who are providing instruction in braille literacy skills. She describes the features of SAL, how it works, and the associated courseware and discusses the broader implications of using SAL for instructional purposes. For more technical information on SAL, readers should refer to the November 2003 issue of AccessWorldŽ.
In addition to our newly reintroduced Technology Notes, this month's issue of JVIB presents four articles that will be of interest to professionals who work with children or adults with visual impairments. Miszko and her colleagues present a pilot study on the effects of a tai chi exercise program for eight adults with visual impairments. Next, Stevens-Ratchford and Krause share the results of a qualitative study of two elderly persons with visual impairments on the effects of person-environment congruence on participation in home-based leisure activities. Then Pattillo and her associates present the findings of a study of five school-age students with visual impairments on using a modified repeated-reading strategy to increase reading rates and to improve attitudes toward reading. Finally, in a Practice Report, Perla and O'Donnell share their experiences and professional views on using a problem-solving approach in orientation and mobility instruction.
We are very pleased that product reviews are back in JVIB, and we look forward to presenting these Technology Notes about six times per year. Next month we will unveil another new feature called Perspectives. Best wishes for a productive new year!
Alan J. Koenig, Ed.D.
Editor in Chief
Technology and People with Visual Impairments
AccessWorld: Technology and People with Visual Impairments can now be accessed for free on AFB's web site. Just visit www.afb.org to read all about the latest products and news in the area of assistive technology. The new web-based version offers options for reading and sharing content, including a braille embosser-ready file, a printer-friendly version, and an "email this article to a friend" option.
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