Accessibility Software Links
Tech Support Information and Referral
Below is a list of links that will guide you to information concerning the latest available versions of accessibility software. The list is incomplete and others can be added upon request.
by Claire Goscicki, for the Daily Tribune
Kapten PLUS has voice recognition easily used by visually impaired.
Rochester Hills-based Leader Dogs for the Blind has developed a new navigational device to increase travel independence for the blind and visually impaired.
The new Kapten PLUS devices, designed specifically for pedestrians, use GPS technology to assist users in reaching destinations and mapping routes, according to Harold Abraham, chief innovation officer for Leader Dogs for the Blind.
Abraham said the device, which is slightly larger than a credit card, was first used in Europe by sighted people. The device's voice recognition capabilities easily lend it to be used by the blind and visually impaired, he said.
Though the organization has been offering devices with GPS technology to its students since 2005, the Kapten PLUS is the smallest and least expensive of its predecessors.
The Kapten PLUS was officially launched Tuesday during a ceremony at the Leader Dogs for the Blind headquarters on South Rochester Road. Anyone can purchase the device through the organization, and between 600 and 700 of the organization's active students will be receiving the device for free, Abraham said.
Jacksonville, Ill., resident Carroll Jackson has coupled GPS devices from Leader Dogs for the Blind with his leader dog Hunter since 2007.
Jackson recalled his very first device as requiring a shoulder strap for support, an external speaker, and nearly 40 buttons.
In December of last year, however, Jackson was selected to receive the Kapten PLUS while in its trial stages, and he hasn't looked back.
Jackson, an avid traveler, said he appreciates the new freedom the Kapten PLUS provides him.
Prior to becoming acquainted with the Kapten PLUS, Jackson recalled
often having to ask for or confirm directions with others, which was challenging at times due to people's lack of specificity.
However, devices like the Kapten PLUS are not meant to replace leader dogs.
"The technology can get you close, and the dog will get you the rest of the way," Jackson explained. "This technology, combined with the dog, really is a winning combination."
Abraham emphasized that the Kapten PLUS is a stepping stone in terms of the blind and visually impaired achieving more complete travel independence.
"We're trying to start a social movement," he said. "There's great technology out there right now that we'd like to see a manufacturer put into use for people who are visually impaired or blind, (but) manufacturers don't think about this really, really tiny segment (of the population)."
For now, Jackson said he's enjoying his new device and has even adapted it for use in Canada.
"People are going farther, faster, and doing it safer than ever before," Jackson said.
For more information about the device and its capabilities visit www.leaderdog.org.
Lately I've been contemplating purchasing a tablet device. I hate writing on my phone, so having a larger portable device is attractive. But as I think about making a purchase, I find myself asking, how much is this about meeting my needs and how much is it about dazzling new technology?
Probably you know where I'm headed with this. If you work with or are an individual with a disability, these days it can be hard to separate the pressure and/or desire to consume new technology from the thoughtful process required by--let's face it--a necessary thorough assessment. Tablets and apps are cool, but will they do the job for you or your client? They may be cheaper, but will the software work for everyone it needs to and be supported over the long haul?
There's no denying the apps revolution is exciting. Today most people are learning there are software applications to help individuals with varying abilities. They help us communicate, accomplish tasks, and organize our daily lives. In this way apps have brought people with and without disabilities into closer proximity to one another.
But as a former special educator, I feel in some ways like we have been here before. I remember in the 80s when speech recognition software was unveiled and everybody thought every student with a learning disability would benefit. At the time the technology wasn't very good yet, but even today we can see that student needs are complicated. Writing is more than getting words down; there's getting ideas out; it's structure, a host of skills. And that's where specialized AT software really comes into play.
So my message is this: in the midst of this tremendous and exciting pace of change, we must not lose sight of a balanced and critical view of what the best piece of technology is to meet an individual's unique needs. As an AT community, we know very well that no one technology can meet the needs of every person. And we know how critical implementation is for successful adoption. So despite the easy access to and affordability of many apps, we still need to know the range of technologies that are available and keep up with our professional development. We need to know how to judge and apply technologies to specific environments and needs. We need to know how to integrate them and make them work in the world of learning and the world of work, how to make them efficient and effective for individuals and their support systems. And when it comes to apps, right now little of this is known.
So stay tuned. We have lots more to see and learn about the world of apps, tablet and mobile devices. The apps revolution has really just begun.
-- David Dikter, CEO ATIA
NBP will be launching its first product, a braille Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) designed specifically for blind people. Most people use PDAs in our personal lives and know them as smart phones, iPads, and laptop computers. NBP's device serves this same purpose and is tailored for blind people by removing the screen, and adding a 20 character Braille display and standard Braille keyboard for data entry. The Braille PDA is small and portable - about half the size of a sheet of paper - and less than one inch thick, so users can take it everywhere they'd take a cell phone. It will be built on an open source platform, possibly Android, to encourage innovation.
Braille PDAs for the blind are not a new concept. The technology has been around for several decades but since blindness is a low incidence disability in the U.S., the size of this market does not encourage the same innovation as found in mainstream technology. As a result, current braille PDA's are expensive - in the $5,000-$10,000 range - and often lack the same features as sighted people have come to expect in a PDA.
A working prototype of the Braille PDA is expected to be completed in 2011. It is expected to be available to the public soon after that, and since it will be built using an open source platform NBP expects many of the features and applications will continually be upgraded and expanded. Applications will be developed by NBP and third party developers so the possibilities are endless as to how this product can evolve.
New digital voice labeler expands VisionCue's line-up of portable and
affordable tools for the visually impaired.
PORTLAND, Oregon May 4, 2011. VisionCue today announced that it has been appointed as the exclusive distributor of the new Touch Memo, a digital voice labeler for the blind and visually impaired, in the U.S. and Canada. Touch Memo is described as a Daily Living Product by VisionCue because of its numerous applications in the home and workplace.
The Touch Memo allows users to record personal descriptions of items such as groceries, cosmetics, medicines, files, keys, books, CDs, tools, and other important items for later playback. Lightweight and ergonomic, the Touch Memo is used together with specialty labels that are placed on objects. The labels have a unique identification that the Touch Memo uses to reference a vocal tag associated with that object. For instance, a user may place a label on a pill bottle and records the vocal tag, Vitamin C, take 2 pills a day. Later, to play back that vocal tag, just touch the label with the Touch Memo to hear the prerecorded memo.
We've been very pleased with the response we have already received from
customers. As soon as they pick up the Touch Memo for the first time, they
think of dozens of ways this product can help them at home or work, said Larry Lake, president of VisionCue.
The digital labeler is easy to use with only three operating buttons to learn.
Special tactile labels help users quickly find the label for reading with the
Touch Memo sensor. Washable labels are designed for clothing. All recorded labels may be backed up on a computer using the USB cable provided, although a computer is not necessary to use the Touch Memo.
VisionCue is an ideal partner for us because it is well-respected in the U.S.
and Canada for selling and servicing products to our customer base, said Seiji Yamaguchi, President, Times Corporation. Times Corporation, based in Hyogo, Japan, is the worldwide distributor of Touch Memo and other assistive technology products.
With their expertise in introducing aids and tools for the visually-impaired
coupled with our innovative, high quality products, we look forward to a very strong and long-lasting relationship.
Touch Memo features include:
Longueuil, May 5, 2011 – HumanWare is pleased to introduce the Victor Reader Stratus, an exciting new family of desktop DAISY CD players that will replace the popular Victor Reader ClassicX line.
The Stratus is the evolution of HumanWare’s 13 years experience developing simple, easy to use audio book players. Compared to its predecessor, the VR ClassicX, the VR Stratus comes with a new look enclosure that is smaller and lighter on the outside yet smarter and better sounding on the inside.
”The Stratus continues to be the simplest and most user-friendly digital book player on the market but now with more choices than ever”, says Gerry Chevalier, Victor
Reader Brand Manager. “The basic Stratus model plays only CDs but there is also an advanced multimedia model that will also play SD cards, USB flash drives, and it includes Acapela text-to-speech. And that's not all, says Chevalier. We have given the Stratus a smart new look, improved the quality of the audio, improved the battery system, added a talking clock, and now every Stratus can play data DVDs in addition to CDs.”
All Stratus models feature large, tactile, high-contrast keys, a built-in speaker or headphone, and self-voicing controls. You can take Stratus anywhere with its comfortable carrying handle and rechargeable and replaceable battery. Do you like to go to bed with your favorite book? The Stratus Sleep timer lets you specify how long Stratus should play before it shuts off.
Choose a basic 4-arrow keypad or the advanced 12-key telephone style number for navigation in highly structured books. A removable keypad cover is also available. It hides all but the most essential keys to simulate a traditional cassette player.
With Victor Reader Stratus, HumanWare once again brings unparalleled access to DAISY books, recorded commercial books, music, and computer documents. Whether you are young or young at heart, whether your reading needs are simple or complex, whether you are at work, school, or at home, there is a Victor Reader Stratus that will fit your needs.
Visit HumanWare at: www.humanware.com.
The iPhone first debuted only on the AT&T cellular carrier. Recently a
modified iPhone is now available on the Verizon cellular carrier. The
next revision of iPhone for mid 2011, the iPhone 5 or 4s, depending on
what Apple calls it, will likely debut on the Sprint and other cellular carriers. Currently, testing the iPhone on the 2 existing carriers: AT&T. and Verizon, finds some differences that are worth noting. The
Verizon network has a better nationwide coverage then A.T.& T. and therefore the Verizon iPhone drops calls less than the AT&T model if you travel. A survey of iPhone users on the 2 different networks on 4/5/11, noted: http://mashable.com/2011/04/05/att-verizon-iphone-users/,"Verizon iPhone customers report 1.8% of calls dropped in the past 90 days, whereas AT&T iPhone 4 customers report 4.8% dropped. The iPhone statistics match overall call drop statistics across the different wireless carriers in the U.S". However, if you upload/download or stream data, the AT&T network is currently faster. Also the AT&T model allows you to multitask where the Verizon network limits how many tasks you can
do simultaneously. With the release of the next iPhone in mid 2011 and the debut on other carriers, these statistics are likely to change.
Even while your iPhone is locked, you can access the audio controls by
double-tapping on the home button when the lock screen appears. This
saves you the time it takes to unlock your iPhone, open a music-playing
app like iPod and get to the volume and track controls. This feature is
not limited to Apple's iPod app. If you are using Pandora, for example, the same technique will bring up its controls.
If you press and hold the home button while the iPhone is locked, you can still access Voice Control to place a iPhone call (or Face Time call) or get to any of the iPhone's other voice commands.
Voice control can dial iPhone numbers ('dial 212-555-1212') or people
('Dial Mom, mobile'), and it can control music ('Play music,' 'Play
artist Earth, Wind & Fire,' Play album 'That's the Way of the World,'
'Play more songs like this,' 'Shuffle,' etc).
But did you know that it can also tell you what time it is? Say 'What time is it? and your iPhone will say the time back to you. It may sound silly, but it comes in handy if you are rushing and do not have the time or inclination to pull out your iPhone. (And who wears watches anymore?)
Freedom Scientific: 727-803-8600
Human ware: 800-722-3393:
Braille Note Products
GW Micro: 260-489-3671
Sa to go
AiSquared Inc.: 800-859-0270
Kerswal Mobile Reader: 877-547-1500
Level Star: 800-315-2305
Enhanced Vision: 888-811-3161
En-Vision America: 800-890-1180
i.d. mate OMNI
i.d. mate Summit
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