March 2008 Issue  Volume 9  Number 2

Access Issues

A Reading Machine In Your Pocket: Introducing the KNFB Reader Mobile Edition

Washington D.C. - Ray Kurzweil and James Gashel of the K-NFB Reading Technology, Inc., announced a product on January 28, that had hundreds of blind people gathered for the National Federation of the Blind's 2008 Washington Seminar applauding and cheering with raucous enthusiasm. Estimated by Kurzweil to be 5000 times smaller than his original Kurzweil Reading Machine, introduced in January, 1976, the new KNFB Reader Mobile is loaded on to a Symbian-based Nokia N82 cell phone, which measures about two inches by four inches and weighs just four ounces.

With just the press of a few buttons, the phone can snap a picture of a memo, book page, or piece of U.S. currency, and read it instantly to a person who is blind, visually impaired, or has learning disabilities. The captured text also appears on the phone's screen in large font, with the spoken text highlighted, rendering it easily distinguishable from other text on the screen.

The phone itself is small enough to fit into a shirt pocket, in keeping with a prediction made by Ray Kurzweil in 2002. He said at that time that he believed a reading machine for people who are blind small enough to fit into a pocket could be ready for market within six years. The phone is sleek and extremely tactile, with buttons easily identified by touch.

If a call is received while reading a document, the user can take the call and return to the task at hand immediately once the call is completed.

The Nokia phone itself has myriad high-end features, including a web browser, e-mail capabilities, MP3 player, and GPS functions. Although these features require a cell phone screen reader to become completely accessible, such additional software is not required for the Reader. Both Mobile Speak and TALKS are compatible with the phone.

James Gashel, vice president of business development for KNFB Reading Technology, said that while many people will choose to purchase the unit to use only as a reading machine, many will also love the phone itself, and the full range of features made accessible with the addition of a screen reading package.

The KNFB Reader Mobile edition, will sell for about $2000 and will begin shipping on February 15. (Screen readers run for about $300 and can be purchased from other sources.) The Nokia N82 is currently supported by T-Mobile and AT&T.

For more information, contact: KNFB Reading Technology: phone: 877-547-1500; web site:

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