Six months have flown by and the growth of the Association of Blind Citizens continues at an extremely fast pace. ABC has completed incorporation filings in Rhode Island and New Hampshire. We are considering incorporating in other states. If you would be interested in becoming a state coordinator send email to email@example.com indicating your interest. ABC is developing model programs which can be replicated in other states. State coordinators would receive support and guidance to assist in replicating the activities and programs in their individual states. Many activities that are currently in development lend themselves to be presented at a regional or national level. ABC has established a vehicle and tangible good donation program. If you live in Boston you may of heard our commercial on 96.9 WTTK talk FM. Mike Barnicle, a Boston talk show host and columnist for the New York Daily News, was retained to record this commercial. This vehicle and tangible goods donation program has proven to be very successful for ABC. ABC has also spread our advertising campaigned to the Wall Street Journal and other local newspapers. This advertising campaign will continue in various cycles. Please keep ABC in mind if you have friends or relatives who wish to donate a vehicle or other goods to ABC. You can find more information on this vehicle donation and tangible goods program elsewhere in this edition of the Advocate and on our web site. The number you need to keep handy is 1-888-881-9090.
Please remember that our relationship with White Flower Shop is ongoing and they are available to you whenever those special occasions arise. You can reach them at (781) 767-3283 or nationwide at 1-800-788-1427. Be sure to tell them that you are being referred by ABC so that we may receive a donation.
It was great to see some of our members attending "Hello Dolly" and exhibits at the Society of Arts. Let us continue to attend audio described performances and accessible exhibits to show our interest in these activities.
I would like to thank Citizens Bank of Massachusetts for awarding a grant to ABC to develop our audio ESL program. We expect this program to provide non-English speaking blind individuals with the opportunity to improve their ability to speak the English language. This is the first program of its kind for blind and visually impaired immigrants. I would like to thank Cheryl Cumings for bringing this idea to ABC and for assisting in the preparation of this grant. I urge any ABC members to bring their ideas forward to the board and we will try to make them a reality. I personally would like to thank the board and other members who have given the their time to bring ABC's objectives forward. Let us continue to work together and make ABC the best we can be.
The ABC board of directors asks you to give five minutes to the organization. The board is asking all of our members to tell three blind or visually impaired friends, and anyone else who they feel would be interested, in joining ABC's mission. ABC's web site contains a refer a friend link so you can visit our web site and make your three referrals. Just fill out the requested information and the system will do the rest. For those of you who have friends who do not have a computer, call them and tell them about ABC and ask them to call our voice mail system and join by phone. If each of you refer three friends, we will exceed the projected membership target by December. Do not put this off! Do it now while it is fresh in your mind! Be sure to remind them that we are the only membership organization that currently does not charge a yearly membership fee. Talk about the events in which you have participated and our future activities.
This past spring, a group of our members visited Parkers Maple Barn in Mason New Hampshire. The members toured the sugarhouse and learned how sap is transformed into sweet maple syrup. Our members learned about the collection process, the refining process and the grading system used in determining the quality of the syrup. After touring the facility our members enjoyed an old-fashioned New England breakfast. The pancakes were twice the size and at least three times as thick as your average pancakes. They were served with fresh hot maple syrup along with various breakfast meats and potatoes. After everyone was stuffed we worked off our breakfast by visiting the gift shop to purchase many more tasty treats for the ride home and days to come.
Please consider joining ABC on its recreational and sometimes educational activities. Please visit our web site at www.blindcitizens.org and click on the announcements page so that you will be informed on our activities.
The Board of Directors of the Association of Blind Citizens would like to express our sincere thanks to Citizens Bank of Massachusetts. Citizens Bank of Massachusetts has awarded ABC a grant to develop an audio English as a Second Language program for blind or visually impaired people. A qualified ESL instructor has been retained and is presently developing the curriculum and recording the lessons. ABC is developing this audio educational program because public ESL programs do not provide blind or visually impaired non-English speaking individuals with an opportunity to learn basic English. This idea was brought to ABC's board by ABC member, Cheryl Cumings. Ms. Cumings and John Oliveira co-wrote a proposal and submitted to Citizens Bank of Massachusetts. In its award notification letter to ABC they stated "the resources and services of Association of Blind Citizens make a notable difference in our community by addressing important concerns that touch us all". The award letter indicated that Citizens Bank of Massachusetts shares our excitement in producing what we all hope will be a useful and important program.
More details on the availability of this program will be released in several weeks. Additional funding is being sought to distribute and market this ESL program. If you wish to support this program you can make a tax deductible donation. Send a check or money order to
the Association of Blind Citizens
PO Box 246
Holbrook, MA 02343.
In Focus, ABC's monthly interview and information radio show is available on demand at www.blindcitizens.org. You can hear the show at your convenience by visiting our web site at anytime. The show can also be heard on the Massachusetts Radio Reading Network on the second Thursday of the month at 8 PM eastern time. You can listen to the show live on Tic's worldwide live Internet stream at www.ticnetwork.com. You can also hear a rebroadcast of Infocus on ACBRadio.org. Join ABC's president and host for an interview with individuals or companies that are of interest to the blind and visually impaired community.
Following is a list of organizations which offer scholarships, fellowships and grants to college students.
Please Note: If you have difficulty contacting any of the above organizations, please let us know. Also, if you would like to share the names, addresses, telephone numbers and/or URLs of organizations not included in the above list, please send them our way, and we'll pass them along!
Please circulate this newsletter to your friends.
Michael Ondaatje in Anil's Ghost uses fiction to make us aware of the devastating affects of civil war on the individual and the society. We meet Anil Tissera a forensic pathologist who works for the Center for Human rights. She is invited by the government of her birthplace to investigate reports of political mass murder.
Anil's ghost takes us to Sri Lanka, a part of the world that we infrequently hear about. As in the English patient, this is a story, which flows between the past and the present. The many layers of this story unfold as we learn of Anil's life growing up in Sri Lanka, her reasons for leaving and her life abroad as a student in England and a professional in the United States.
One aspect of the story deals with Anil trying to contend with returning to a home that is familiar but changed. She is Sri Lankan, she understands the rules of social interaction yet do those rules still apply in a country which is experiencing an internal conflict?
The other layers of the story unfold as we journey with Anil across the country. With Anil, we see the beauty of the countryside and the unexpected scars of war. As Anil works to discover the identity of the cadaver she and her government counterpart have found, she hires a sculptor. The sculptor is known for his ability to reconstruct faces.
Although the sculptor is well-known and highly respected for his work, we are told that his present reliability is questionable. We learn that he was once married. His wife cleaned the village's school. One day on her way to work, she made the mistake of looking and acknowledging something she shouldn't have seen. The next day she leaves for work and is never seen again. The result is a man whose life has been destroyed and who now uses alcohol to deal with his present.
Ondaatje in Anil's ghost tells a story that is both personal and social. He takes us into a nation that is caught in a civil war and shows us the impact on everyday ordinary people. I found the book fascinating. Michael Ondaatje finds a way to bring to our attention a very difficult topic in a manner that compels you to keep reading. I found myself drawn into the descriptions of the beautiful landscapes and history and shocked by the reality of civil war. I felt that I was taught a lot without being preached to. Anil's Ghost is a book you may not want to pick up but once you do, it's hard to put down.
In the fall of 2001, the New Bedford Brooklawn Bombers were formed and organized for the purpose of playing adaptive baseball, or, as it is called, beep baseball. The concept behind this adaptive game is to allow the blind and visually impaired to participate in America's favorite pass time. Beep baseball for the blind and visually impaired is played throughout the United States. A ball which makes a sound, and is the size of a softball, called a beep ball is used in the game. Using the beep ball helps the batters and those in the field. The batter can determine how close the ball comes based on location of the sound. The fielders use the same concept to try to get opposing batters out.
The New Bedford Brooklawn Bombers are an affiliate of the Association of Blind Citizens (ABC), the newest consumer organization of the blind. Through the ABC, our team has been able to secure funds that it raises and is able to withdraw funds to cover costs, such as team trips to away games, two-way radio head sets for the coaches, and any other necessary items the team needs.
Speaking of items, the team has the support of several sponsors who are contributing various items. The Rhode Island Baseball Club has agreed to donate helmets and an equipment bag. Arthur Rodrick, a prominent New Bedford resident, is donating team shirts. ABC has agreed to assist with other baseball equipment and beeping bases. Yes, there are such things as beeping bases, and, obviously, they work well in guiding a base runner.
The New Bedford Brooklawn Bombers begin practice sessions on Saturday, April 7, at Diamond Number 5 in Brooklawn Park, New Bedford. The practice hours are from 1 to 4, and anyone can stop by and either watch or participate in our sessions. We hope to play several games this season, with established beep ball teams and other traditional teams who wish to compete with us.
Currently, the Boston Renegades and the Lowell Lightning, MOLIFE, Inc., the Friends of the Disabled, the Schwartz Rehabilitation Center and possibly the Bristol Community College Disabled Student Center have expressed a great interest in setting up games with our team.
We also have a 6-man telecast crew ready to broadcast our games on local Cable Access Television. AT& T Broadband News stated that they would cover our games, and use the highlights on their sportscasts.
If you wish to become involved with our team, either as a player, a spotter, or in any other capacity that suits you, please phone me at
(508) 994-4972 or email me at
We are looking forward to an exciting 2001 season.
please consider placing the Association of Blind Citizens on your giving list.
David McCallum thought he'd never play baseball again. When he was 14, McCallum was in an accident while training for a bicycle race. The optic nerves in both his eyes were damaged.
The loss of vision made playing baseball impossible. The ball appeared too small and blurry, and it seemed to come at him too quickly. Twenty years later, the Dedham resident still has difficulty seeing the ball. But he can hear it. That allows him to play "beep baseball," a form of baseball created for the blind.
Beep baseball players use a special softball that makes a sound as it approaches the batter. The pitcher is sighted and on the same team as the batter, who gets four strikes instead of three. The bases also beep, which helps guide the players.
"To me, it's an exciting game," McCallum said. "It gives me a chance to play a game I haven't been able to play since my accident."
McCallum is a member of the Boston Renegades, a beep baseball team of players from the South Shore and the Boston area that began practicing Saturday at Cassidy Park in Brighton.
Massachusetts has three beep baseball teams: the Renegades, the Lowell Lightning and New Bedford Bombers. They are part of the National Beep Baseball Association, which has 22 teams nationwide.
The Massachusetts teams will play at Cyprus Lights field across from Brookline High School during a three-month season. The Renegades' first game will be June 2 against the Lightning.
Renegades manager John Oliveira, president of the Holbrook-based Association of Blind Citizens, has a roster of about a dozen players, including McCallum.
"It gives them independence and the ability to accomplish things beyond society's view of what they can do," Oliveira said. "We're trying to get blind people from throughout the state to participate."
The game was developed in the mid-1970s in Minnesota by John Ross, director of the Braille Sports Foundation, using equipment supplied by the Telephone Pioneers of Minnesota.
The rules are different from the conventional game.
Pitchers pitch to their teammates. After the batter hits the ball, a base operator activates the beeper on either first or third base, which are 100 feet from the batter. The batter does not know which one will be turned on. There is no second base.
The batter determines which base is beeping and runs to touch it before one of six fielders picks up the ball.
If the batter reaches base before the fielder picks up the ball, the team scores a run. The batter is out if the fielder picks up the ball before the batter reaches base.
Each fielder has a number. When the batter hits the ball, neutral spotters yell out the number of the fielder to whom it is heading.
Charitable organizations help the beep baseball teams, locally and nationally.
Telephone Pioneers, a nationwide charitable organization, manufactures beep balls at plants throughout the country, said NBBA president Joe Wood of Atlanta.
A plant in North Andover sells them at below cost for $25, said Jason Woodbury, a member of the technical staff.
"If a child in the area needs one, it's given away free," he said.
The NBBA holds an annual World Series in August, and tries to raise money to finance the $50,000 event.
"We're always looking for national corporate sponsors. My goal is to help the teams first. At some point, we need national sponsorship," Wood said.
The Renegades receive support from local clubs and business. Ralph Newman, manager of MVP Sports in Braintree, donated equipment to the team and the Lions Club in Randolph contributed money.
Oliveira said the Renegades will put the donations to good use against the Lightning.
"We'll definitely give them a good game, and I feel we can beat them," he said. "After a few more weeks of practice, I'm sure we'll be on the ball."
People who want to volunteer at practices and games, or want information about the Association of Blind Citizens, can call Oliveira at 781-654-2000. They can send donations to Association of Blind Citizens,
P.O. Box 246,
Holbrook, MA 02343.
Oliveira said the association is also looking for donated vehicles. The number for that program is 888-881-9090.
Founded in June, the association has 200 members and is a non-profit organization providing blind people with professional training and recreational opportunities such as beep baseball.
Copyright The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted May 12, 2001
Do you have an interesting hobby? Do you have the latest high tech gadgets on the market? Articles relating to hobbies and interests or product reviews are welcome. The submission deadline for our Spring Summer edition is April 1 2001.
Please join us on future ABC events and projects. If you wish to develop an activity or have a project that you would like ABC to assist you with please email John Oliveira at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our web site at www.blindcitizens.org.
If you write for fun or are a professional writer you may submit articles on any topic for publication or republication. Submisions for our Fall Winter edition must be submitted by November 1 2001. Please submit them via email to
P.O. Box 246
Holbrook MA 02343.
Apr 4, 2001 (2:29 PM)
It goes without saying that text-to-speech technology has exploded over the past several years, thanks to inexpensive sound cards and fast microprocessors capable of generating speech on the fly. If you're blind or visually impaired (I'm the latter), have a learning disability, have a family member or friend with a disability, or just plain have trouble reading your computer monitor, you may be used to most adaptive software programs being very expensive -- typically between $500 and $1,000 -- and therefore out of the reach of the people who can benefit from them the most.
However, as you'll learn from this article, more reasonably priced products are becoming available, and some capabilities are becoming included in general-audience software.
In this article, I'll take a look at Connect OutLoud, a new program that lets you browse the Web and run other applications with speech output. I'll also spotlight numerous speech-enabled applications to assist users with visual and other disabilities, applications that let you run your computer, surf the Web, scan documents, and magnify video output for the Windows, Macintosh, and Unix platforms.
Before we get into the meat of it, let's have some basic definitions of the product types we're discussing.
Screen readers are software programs that provide speech or Braille output to assist computer users who are blind or visually impaired. To run a screen reader, you need a computer with a sound card and speakers, and you're ready to go! Screen readers load on top of applications like word processors, databases, spreadsheets, browsers, and other utilities to give applications the power of speech output.
Screen readers can let you hear your keystrokes as they are typed at the keyboard, and can let you read back information displayed on the screen in whatever units you find most useful, characters, words, lines, windows, and whole documents on command.
Screen readers can also follow the mouse and cursor, letting you read menus, dialogue boxes, and other controls, providing those controls are standard issue. Some screen readers will also drive Braille displays to provide both speech and/or Braille output at the same time.
Screen magnification programs allow you to increase the size of text and graphics on the screen, enabling you to read in a font size and color scheme most comfortable.
Speech-enabled applications assist users that have disabilities in accessing computers and information. These applications range from talking OCR packages, browsers, and educational software.
Connect OutLoud ($295.00) is a talking Web access software package designed to assist computer users with vision and learning-related disabilities, and is a product of Freedom Scientific. The product isn't being marketed as a full-blown screen reader, but rather as a Web access utility, even though it does have many features that you'd find on a typical screen reader. Connect OutLoud works with Internet Explorer from Microsoft, and provides voice output while you're browsing the Web. But unlike other talking browsers, Connect OutLoud can also provide speech output for a limited number of Windows based applications as well.
Connect OutLoud lets you run a limited number of Windows programs, and surf the Web with speech output. If you have a Braille display interfaced to your system, Connect OutLoud can provide a combination of speech and Braille output.
Connect OutLoud requires a PC with 32-MB RAM minimum, 133-MHz processor or higher, 30-MB hard disk space, and a compatible sound card and speakers. The package runs under Windows 95, 98, ME, and Windows 2000, and may be a good solution for users on a limited budget. While Connect OutLoud is not being marketed as a full-blown screen reader, it lets you surf the Web with Internet Explorer, write documents, and run many of the native built-in Windows applets like Calculator and Notepad. Connect OutLoud will not work with mainline applications like Word, Excel, or Access. But when you consider the fact that most full-blown screen readers sell for around $700, Connect OutLoud is certainly a lot more affordable if you don't need all the functions found in a more expensive product.
Connect OutLoud comes bundled with the Eloquence speech engine that provides a wide range of synthetic voices. Connect OutLoud not only provides speech output for Web surfing and other applications, but it also has a useful tutorial mode to assist blind computer users. The software can recognize objects like dialog boxes, buttons, and other controls, and tells you how to manipulate these objects verbally.
Also being marketed as a Web access utility for persons with disabilities, IBM Home Page Reader is a talking browser especially designed to help users who have visual or learning disabilities.
The browser comes bundled with a built-in speech engine, and utilizes the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser. IBM Home Page Reader is an integrated self-voicing application, but unlike Connect OutLoud, only provides voice output when browsing the Web. Home Page Reader does not provide voice output for other applications like Connect OutLoud.
WeMedia has also recently released a new talking browser to assist users with vision impairments, and a free download is available. The Windows 2000 operating system includes Narrator, a screen reader that provides speech output to assist persons who are blind or visually impaired. (Note, don't expect Narrator to replace full-function third-party programs.) Narrator speaks your keystrokes as they are entered at the keyboard, and lets you read information displayed on the computer screen.
Narrator works with programs that support the Microsoft Active Accessibility standard, a development tool that lets assistive technology to communicate with the Windows operating system. The net effect of Active Accessibility is to dramatically increase the reliability and robustness of accessibility utilities like screen readers, video-magnification software, and other assistive technology. Narrator can be started automatically when you boot your computer to provide speech output upon system start, or you can launch the program with a hot-key or from Utility Manager.
dDesigned to bring all the native Windows 2000 accessibilityfunctions together, Microsoft's Utility Manager lets you adjust the settings of all the accessibility utilities (including Narrator) found in the operating system. Utility Manager lets you change settings for the accessibility utilities.
For users who require a combination of speech output and screen magnification, Narrator can be used in conjunction with Magnifier, a built-in software magnification program that is bundled with Windows 98, ME, and 2000. Both Narrator and Magnifier are minimalist screen-access utilities, and Microsoft is not claiming that it can or should compete with commercially available accessibility products. With all this in mind, let's look at a few commercially available accessibility utilities that offer speech output to assist computer users with disabilities.
ZoomText Xtra Level II is a screen-magnification software program designed to assist computer users who have limited vision. The software is a product of AISquared and runs under Windows 95, 98, ME, and 2000. ZoomText comes bundled with a built-in speech engine that lets the software provide both speech and magnified output at the same time.
Magic from Freedom Scientific is another screen-magnification software package that provides screen magnification with a combination of synthesized speech running under Windows 95, 98, ME, and 2000. Both ZoomText and magic let you run Windows based software applications in with up to x and x times magnification, respectively.
There are many screen readers currently on the market for the Windows platform. Jaws and Window-Eyes are fully featured screen readers designed to assist computer users who are blind or visually impaired.
Both screen readers provide either speech or Braille output, and work with industry standard sound cards and refreshable Braille displays. Recently, both programs have been made compatible with the Adobe Acrobat reader, which until now has been a bone of contention in the disability community due to its poor functioning with screen readers used by the blind. Window Bridge, WinVision, are also Windows based screen readers.
Simply Talker 2000 ($100.00) is an inexpensive screen reader for Windows 95, 98, ME, and Windows 2000. The software works with Microsoft Windows applications that support the Active Accessibility standard, and is the least-expensive screen reader currently on the market. It also offers a version that only runs under Windows 95, 98, and ME for $50.00 The company also offers Simply Web, a talking Web browser.
LookOut is a new and inexpensive screen reader ($119.00) that works with Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, and 2000. In addition to standard features like being able to verbalize keyboard input and screen information, LookOut also includes a visual basic script language, unheard of in a product at this low price. LookOut is thus a basic screen reader that is highly customizable thanks to its built-in script language, which is often necessary for complex adaptations in the real world. LookOut uses musical tones as you move around the screen to indicate upward/downward motion of the mouse. Also included is a Web Wizard to help verbalize websites. You can purchase the product or download a demo from www.screenreader.co.uk.
Speech-enabled applications let users with vision and other disabilities access information and computers independently. This is certainly true with scanning packages that let you scan text into your computer and play it back through a voice synthesizer.
OpenBook and L& H/Kurzweil 1000/3000 are two talking OCR packages that permit access to the printed page. The software requires a fast, Pentium computer running Windows, equipped with an industry-standard sound card, and a flatbed scanner. A version of the Kurzweil 3000 package is also available for the Macintosh platform.
MagniReader from L& H/Kurzweil is a speech-enabled OCR program that also lets you magnify what you've scanned. You can choose to play the text back aloud using the L& H RealSpeech engine, and you can also adjust the magnification and contrast to a level most comfortable to let you scan and read printed material on demand. Talking OCR programs level the playing field for students, workers, or anyone needing fast and accurate access to printed information.
If you've ever had to depend on a friend or family member to read your mail, books, magazines, office correspondence, and more, you'll increase your independence greatly with products of this type. WordAloud is being marketed as an assistive reader for students with vision, learning, and other disabilities.
WordAloud lets you read text back using a voice synthesizer, with control over parameters like voice rate, pitch, punctuation level, and volume. Similarly, the Accessible Graphing Calculator is a speech-enabled software program designed to help students gain increased access to science and mathematics. The calculator incorporates a speech engine, and can also interface to a tactile printer to generate raised-line graphics.
Unix has several speech-based screen readers and solutions for the various flavors of the operating system. As a platform, Unix offers a great deal to the disability community because of the open source standard. This makes it easy for end users and developers to modify the platform to close accessibility holes or to add enhancements.
Beam LTD in the United Kingdom has developed XVI-SB, a screen reader for the Xwindows/Unix platform that provides either speech or Braille output. The screen reader works with the Alva Delphi Braille display and the Apollo speech synthesizer from Dolphin Systems. The package is available free to end users with a license fee for commercial institutions.
Zipspeak is a talking version of Linux for the Slackware, Debian, and Red Hat Linux distributions. The package includes the Speakup screen reader that provides voice output from the time the computer is booted until shutdown, and reads everything displayed on the text console. Zipspeak/Speakup lets a blind user independently install thepackage, and does not require sighted assistance.
Emacspeak is a speech-output extension for Gnu Emacs that has been written by T.V. Raman, a computer programmer who is blind. The software is offered free of charge, and is the only zero cost solution for computer users who are blind to access the Unix/Linux environment. For those unfamiliar with Unix applications, Emacs is a text editor for Linux and other Unix like operating systems.
Emacspeak loads on top of Emacs, and lets computer users who are blind or visually impaired browse the Web, edit documents, send and receive e-mail, develop software, and chat online. Emacspeak is not a screen reader in the conventional sense of the word, and presents visual information to the end user by using pitch, volume, and other changing voice parameters.
Emacspeak requires either a hardware-speech synthesizer or a software-based speech engine. Emacspeak can be used with the free, downloadable IBM ViaVoice Outloud software-speech engine, making it a totally cost-free adaptive solution for users with vision impairments. You can also join the Emacspeak support list by sending an e-mail message to email@example.com. Emacspeak can be downloaded from www.sourceforge.com.
For the Macintosh platform, Outspoken from Alva Access is a screen reader that provides voice output using the built-in sound capability of the Macintosh. For users who require a combination of screen magnification and speech, Outspoken can be used with Alva's InLarge screen magnification software package.
There are numerous mainstream voice in/out products on the market that can assist users with disabilities, even though they may never have been intended for that purpose, from vendors including IBM, Lernout & Hauspie, and Phillips. Voice Pilot, for example, has three speech-based products that, may help level the playing field for some users: HearSay, HearLook, and Pal.
HearSay lets you create, edit, and attach audio files toe-mail messages and documents. For persons who may have difficulty typing or who have learning disabilities, HearSay lets users create voice messages without having to type, and then send them to anyone over the Internet.
HearLook combines the functionality of HearSay, but also lets you attach photographs or graphics. The software is obviously language independent. Hearlook works with any e-mail program that uses attachments, and with any word processor that supports OLE imbedding.
Pal is a desktop organizer that incorporates voice recognition and speech synthesis for calendar, reminder, note-taking, and other functions.
It has almost become a cliché to say that speech technology is empowering countless users with disabilities, and is also a mainstream technology now being deployed on the Web and beyond. Speech is useful when the eyes are busy, such as in an automobile or on the shop floor, and can impart information in a natural modality.
Speech technology is expanding as websites now scramble to become speech enabled to support the handheld wireless market. As speech is almost instinctive for our species, voice technology is likely to increase in proliferation as processor power increases and the size of platforms continue to shrink.
With the aging of our society, it isn't going out on a limb to say that there will be more demand for these products. The word is out and prices are falling. It's about time you made your computer a conversation piece.
Copyright 2001 CMP Media Inc.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2000 issue of Byte Magazine.
Joseph Lazzaro is project director for the Adaptive Technology Program at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind in Boston. He is also a freelance fact and fiction writer, and a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. His next book, Adaptive Technologies for Learning & Work Environments, Second Edition, will be available from the American Library Association. The book is a comprehensive guide that describes how to adapt personal computers for users with disabilities. He can be reached by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at http://www.world.std.com/~lazzaro.
The announcement of new products and services in this column should not be considered an endorsement of those products and services by the Association of Blind Citizens, its staff or elected officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Advocate" cannot be responsible for the reliability of products or services mentioned.
The Talking Information Center, a radio reading service in Massachusetts, is sponsoring a series of road races over the next several months. If you are interested in participating as a runner or want more information call TIC at 1-800-696-9505.
My company recently produced a line of magnified inks pens called "MATES" that have been increasingly popular in many institutions of Education, such as the Kentucky School for the Blind, Colorado Dept. of Education, National Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the list goes on.
I won't waste any more of your time, but I would like to invite you to look at our WEB Site at www.bugzeyemagnifier.com to check out our products as food for thought if nothing else. Thank You
BUGZ-EYE Int'l Corp
. Gary D. Gilman, Pres.
150 Tejon St.
Denver, CO 80223-1223
Pangaea International Community is an all text-based world. We would like to invite your members to come visit, and perhaps hang out with others from all over the world.
Pangaea offers real-time interaction in a world of descriptions, instead of pictures. People will actually be able to travel about this cyber world by typing directional commands, like north, south, east. Best of all Pangaea is totally free. Pangaea is just a labor of love by groups of people that like to be together.
Ok here is how to get to Pangaea, a completely text-based world with a true sense of presense. Not like a chat room.
First download a special program, often called a client. I know that JAWS works better with a client called Pueblo. Download Pueblo here:
Once you down load it and get it started, you will need to point it to this address.
pangaeamoo.org, port 7777.
Here's how to do this: At the beginning of the Pueblo program, there are options, like FILE, EDIT, VIEW and more.
Select the Worlds option.
Under that choose: Quick Connect.
There, you will have two places to enter text. It will be waiting for you to type in pangaeamoo.org in the box named, HOST.
The next box will be the PORT number box. type in 7777
Press enter and then you will connect to Pangaea. You may hear some strange readings, since there is some ascii art at the beginning of the login screen of Pangaea. But after that you should be ok.
Connect at the login screen by typing: connect guest. Then press enter.
If you need anymore help you can always email me at: email@example.com
See you soon!
We are a manufacturer of "No Focus Magnifiers" which includes many styles and shapes of magnifiers. Round, bar style, magnetic, travel kits, loupes, scopes, retractable, and more.
We have recently expanded our products to include magnified ink pens called "Penmates and Penpals." They come in 2 sizes with 2 different magnifications. All of the products above can be seen at
Our newest products (not yet on our WED Site) include a line of monocular style magnifiers called the "FLY-EYE." These clip to the brim of a hat or visor that flip up to get out of your way when you don't need it. These at present time come in four different magnification levels.
In the near future we will have the same style product called "FLY-EYES" these will be made for two eye viewing and will come in different magnifications also.
What we would like you to know is that we are interested in the development of useful and quality magnifying products for the visually challenged of the future. We need input from anyone willing to give it to us. Please help in any way you can!
Thank you for your precious time.
Gary D. Gilman, Pres.
BUGZ-EYE Int'l Corp.
150 Tejon St.
Denver, CO 80223-1223
AFB recently launched "AccessWorld: Technology for Consumers with Visual Impairments." This 32-page periodical will be available bimonthly in large print, braille, on tape and via the World Wide Web. A preview issue is available at http://www.afb.org/accessworld.html.
AccessWorld will cover developments in assistive technology, government policies mandating accessibility, and industry efforts to provide accessible products and services. To subscribe, or for more information, call (888) 522-0220;
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit AFB's web site, http://www.afb.org.
"A Capital Idea! Successful Strategies for Getting What You Want from Government" is a guide to successful advocacy, which is now available on AFB's web site via http://www.afb.org/gov.html.
This manual takes you step by step through defining an issue, identifying the players, planning a strategy, forming alliances, meeting and communicating with legislators or regulators, and following up on contacts.
1. USING NON-SPECIALIST SCANNER SOFTWARE FROM THE KEYBOARD TO READ PRINT
As a visually impaired person, would you like to be able to read your mail, newspapers, books etc, for a fraction of what it would cost you for a specialist print reading program? I have written a series of manuals explaining how to use off-the-shelf, non-specialist print recognition programs as reading machines for visually impaired people with their current computer and speech synthesiser or Braille display.
TextBridge Millennium and OmniPage Pro 10, for example, can automatically open a scanned document in your word-processor for you for reading, editing and saving as soon as the scan job is complete. They can correct a crooked page and automatically orientate a page on the scanner for you whichever way around you put it on. This makes them almost as easy to use as the expensive specialist software.
2. MICROSOFT WORD 97
Another tutorial to enable visually impaired persons to use a leading word-processor is "Microsoft Word 97 from the Keyboard", which takes someone from no experience of using a word-processor well into an intermediate stage of competence. It covers editing, Printing, spell-checking, autoFormatting, producing envelopes and labels, mail merging, and dozens of other facilities.
3. ACCESSING THE INTERNET
I have also written a manual to take learners onto the Net with Microsoft programs and show them how to e-mail and join newsgroups with Outlook Express, get around the Web with Internet Explorer 5, use search engines, get online realaudio music stations and download programs and MP3 music tracks, make Internet shopping purchases,plus many more useful utilities. The Web is a must for visually impaired people who might otherwise not be able to access invaluable information. This guide is called "Accessing the Internet From the Keyboard the Windows Way".
I can e-mail anyone copies of any of the Tables of Contents of these Manuals if they wish.
Would any interested persons please contact the author, John Wilson, in the UK on:
Phone: 01144 113 2575957
TABLES OF CONTENTS OF FIVE SCANNER SOFTWARE PROGRAM MANUALS, ONE INTERNET ACCESS MANUAL AND ONE WORD 97 FROM THE KEYBOARD MANUAL
The price of each of the seven manuals is eighteen dollars. If you would like all five of the scanner manuals for comparative purposes, you may have these for fifty dollars. Note that this does not include the Internet or Word manuals, which will remain at eighteen dollars each.
However, PC World advised me last week (beginning of August 2000) that they had TextBridge Millennium available at present for $49.99 as the full package, not an upgrade!
You can also download both TextBridge Millennium and OmniPage Pro 10 from the Scansoft Website and pay for them by credit card, if you wish. The price is the same as above but with no postage charge, of course. Scansoft's policy is that if you are not happy with their products, you can ask for a refund within 30 days.
I have also written other manuals in respect of other leading scanning software programs, for instance, for OmniPage Pro 10, Expervision's Typereader Pro 6.0, etc.
For more information, please contact John Wilson at:
Phone: 0113 2575957
I will be happy to e-mail you a copy of the Table of Contents of any of these manuals if you like.
Christiansen Designs specializes in unique jewelry creations featuring braille as part of the design in items such as earrings, cuff bracelets, and rings with standard phrases or special orders. Kim Christiansen can now support fundraising initiatives with substantial discounts on bulk orders. Several items are suited to fundraising, such as braille key rings, or the "Read For Fun" book pins.
A new brochure is available showing all recent designs. For more information, or to order, send e-mail to: email@example.com, or visit the new web site, http://www.braillejewelry.com, or phone (802) 649-2925. The mailing address is:
P.O. Box 583,
Hanover, NH 03755.
The new version supports three additional languages -- Brazilian Portuguese, traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese in addition to the existing U.S. English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Japanese languages.
Home Page Reader is a complete, self-contained talking browser, and no screen reader is required. The suggested retail price for HPR version 3.0 is $149.
Users of Home Page Reader versions 2.0 and 2.5 can download a free upgrade to Version 3.0 from the IBM Accessibility Center web page at:
For more information, contact IBM media representative Rebecca Gee at
(914) 945-2913, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you looking for regulation-size playing cards with oversized, raised numbers and symbols? Evelyn True developed such cards for a friend who lost her sight suddenly and wanted to continue playing bridge. Numbers and symbols are easily recognized by touch. Hearts and diamonds are red print and clubs and spades are black print. They cost $19.50 per pack, plus packing and shipping. Available only from
3105 Sudbury Lane,
Louisville, KY 40220
phone (502) 491-3173.
Have you logged on after being away from your computer to find your in-box cluttered with duplicate posts and unnecessary responses? Have you spent hours sifting through it, only to find three messages of interest, or have you given up in despair and hit the delete key while hoping you didn't miss something important? Are you tired of reading extraneous information and off-topic discussions while looking for important tidbits? Do you want to read articles about job vacancies and adaptive and mainstream technology without searching for them on the web? If the answer is yes, Amy's filters and forwards may be for you. For an annual fee of $20, Amy monitors more than 50 blindness- related and mainstream e-mail lists. After reading through many messages, Amy selects the most important information and, after stripping out extraneous headers, footers and tags, sends content to subscribers. Information is sent via e-mail and usually contains 15 to 25 messages per day. The originator of these messages is noted on the top of the message for future reference, as you are paying for Amy's filtering and forwarding skills, not the original content. To subscribe, payment can be made on
A check for $20 to cover the 2001 calendar year should be sent to
9 Quail Run
Hingham, MA 02043.
If you have questions, contact Amy Ruell by e-mail,
Easier Ways sells a new mini perma notebook for brailling telephone numbers, addresses, birthdays, appointments, etc. It is flat and fits easily into a pocket or purse. It comes with 50 sheets (3 by 5 inches, two-hole punched) of clear Perma plastic filler. It makes sharp braille. You can add or remove a sheet easily, and make quick entries without having to remove a sheet. For more information, contact
Easier Ways Inc.
2954 Shady Ln.
Highlands Ranch, CO 80126;
phone (303) 290-0987 or e-mail EasierWays@aol.com.
The Harvard Business Review is available from Vision Community Services in four-track, 15/16 ips format, two tapes per issue. The yearly subscription fee is $118, which now includes ten issues (an increase from six issues).
Contact Robert Pierson at the Recording Studio,
phone: (617) 972-9117, (800) 852-3029 (in Massachusetts),
fax: (617) 926-1412, or
For over ten years I Can See Books (The Braille Bookstore) has been producing high-quality, low-cost Braille and Print/Braille books for all ages. We're now back with a new look and feel, and our Web site is better than ever. Our brand new, state-of-the-art online shopping cart makes it a breeze to browse through our 2001 catalog of more than 400 books and pick out the ones you're looking for. Our wide selection of titles includes dozens of books in the Dr. Seuss, Madeline, and Magic Tree House series; classics such as Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, and Heidi for older readers; and numerous mysteries, cookbooks, and guide dog books for adults. Perhaps best of all, each one of our books is available in both Grade I and Grade II Braille. Stop by
www.braillebookstore.com and check us out.
Lucky Touch Fortune Cookie Company is a student-operated business specializing in special order Braille and large-print fortune cookies. The company can customize your order to fit your event, whether it's a birthday, anniversary, convention, holiday, wedding, etc. Place your order by phone. If items are in stock, allow two weeks from the receipt of payment. Customized orders require a week longer. To order, contact
Lucky Touch advisor Judith Lesner,
(510) 794-3800, extension 300;
fax: (510) 794-3813;
500 Walnut Avenue,
Fremont, California 94536.
SBC Communications now offers Braille and large-print billing to customers in all of the company's subsidiaries, including Ameritech, Nevada Bell, Pacific Bell, and Southwestern Bell. For more information or to receive Braille or large-print bills, subscribers may contact their local customer service representatives.
Now that the World Series is over, you can obtain version 14 of the World Series Baseball Game and Information System. This game comes with 269 teams, including the 1999 Yankees and Braves and the all-star teams. You can play baseball on your computer using all the great teams of the past, Negro and Japanese teams, and many all-star teams. You can also review the history of baseball, find out who's in the Hall of Fame, check out all the baseball records, and test your knowledge of the game on a 1,000-question quiz. The price is $15 for new users, $5 for updates. Send your check to
692 S. Sheraton Drive
Akron, OH 44319;
phone (330) 644-2421; or e-mail email@example.com.
Adaptive Innovations, a division of Trango Software Corporation, a leading product developer and provider of call-center solutions, announces release of BrailleStream-LCD 1.1, the first assistive technology solution for offices using digital business telephones that present call data in an LCD window of the telephone set. BrailleStream-LCD has been designed to assist the visually impaired by processing the data in the LCD window and providing the information directly to a voice synthesizer or Braille display by tightly integrating with JAWS® for Windows® (JFW) the screen reader software produced by Henter-Joyce, a division of Freedom Scientific. For those with low vision a screen-magnification program like MAGic Screen Magnification Software, also by Henter-Joyce, can be used to provide the necessary information in large-format text. BrailleStream-LCD offers businesses the ability to hire the visually impaired for positions in which receiving data from high-tech digital telephones is a prerequisite of the job, as well as a cost-effective means of becoming FCC-, 508-, and ADA-compliant.
BrailleStream-LCD was developed in response to the large number of requests received from individuals and companies for a product that would provide information from the LCD display on a digital business telephone to blind and visually impaired employees in a useable form. BrailleStream-LCD was developed to integrate with JAWS and create new employment opportunities for visually impaired people who depend on using today's high-technology digital telephones with visual display LCD windows.
BrailleStream-LCD may also be used with screen-magnification software to provide this information to people with low vision. Unlike optical solutions that require adding unrelated technology to the mix, BrailleStream-LCD integrates with the actual telephone technology and offers a transparent and seamless method of providing the data shown in the telephone LCD display to a blind or visually impaired user.
In addition BrailleStream-LCD provides needed information while allowing the user to continue working in any computer application with virtually no impact on productivity. BrailleStream-LCD is compatible with most mainstream telephone sets found in business today, including Nortel, Siemens, Lucent, NEC, Inter-Tel, Norstar, etc. BrailleStream-LCD creates FCC-, 508-, and ADA-compliance in the workplace.
Visit our Web site at
for more details. Contact
Director of Sales and Marketing,
Phone (905) 737-6388 ext. 1139,
Adaptive Innovations is located at
45 Vogell Rd.,
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Personal Computer Systems produces audio games for the blind community. The Windows games are audio only, so everything is spoken by a human voice, which means that you need no screen reader. Check out games on the Internet Web site at
www.pcsgames.com, where demos may be downloaded.
Personal Computer Systems
551 Compton Ave.
Perth Amboy, New Jersey 08861,
Phone (732) 826-1917,
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) announces the release of two new videos related to the inclusion of participants with disabilities in international exchange programs. All Abroad! NCDE's new informational video for disability audiences showcases the major benefits of international exchange and the wide range of opportunities available. It answers frequently asked questions about funding, accommodations abroad, and how to be involved hosting international exchange participants from other countries.
NCDE's new Building Bridges Training Video is aimed at international educators and exchange professionals as a companion guide to the NCDE publication, Building Bridges: A Manual on Including People with Disabilities in International Exchange Programs. The video provides practical how-to information on topics such as recruiting, homestays, accommodations abroad, and where to obtain disability-related information. This video can be used as a tool to train both new and experienced staff at international exchange organizations.
NCDE is managed by Mobility International USA (MIUSA) and sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State. Both videos are available with audio description and captions. To purchase either video, please specify the video you are ordering and mail $49 to
Mobility International USA,
PO Box 10767,
Eugene, Oregon 97440.
Full Life Products is a company approximatley 3.5 years old that actively seeks and offers products that enhance independent living for people with vision and hearing loss, and the community at large. Specializing in electronics with an emphasis on telephones and related accessories Full Life Products is located in central New Hampshire and can be reached at
800-400-1540 or www.superproducts.com
Dialogue JV-35 by Ameriphone
IT TALKS !! For Visually, or Hearing Impaired, the Best Big Button, Braille Enhanced, Amplified Phone Available; THAT SPEAKS!!
$129.99 plus s and h (MSRP $139.95) Buy 2 or more on same order = $119.99 each. plus s and h
Order #AM76560 Dialogue JV-35
Following is a list of features. If you have questions or would like to order, call today toll free 1-800-400-1540.
Note: Dialogue JV-35 Audio Instruction Tape (AM-76559, (msrp $4.95)) and Braille Quick Reference Guide (AM-05001) Available FREE upon request when ordering Dialogue JV-35.
If you have questions or would like to order, call today toll free 1-800-400-1540.
Henter-Joyce and IBM Japan recently announced a joint development effort to produce a Japanese-language version of JAWS for Windows. This development is set to take place at IBM's Accessibility Center in Japan. The product may be released around the end of this year. Stay tuned for further developments!
Please place the Association of Blind Citizens on your giving list. Donations should be made payable to
Association of Blind Citizens
PO Box 246
Holbrook MA 02343.