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Table Of Contents

President's Notebook

by John Oliveira

As we spend Thanksgiving in reflection of our lives; I sit here on a cool, Fall Saturday afternoon reflecting on the successes of the Association of Blind Citizens. As ABC approaches the end of our first full year, the future looks bright and full of promise. In retrospect, ABC's recreational activities have been accepted by the community in which they are intended to serve. The blind and visually impaired community is as diverse as any other community and it is a challenge for an organization to identify the community's interests and needs and attempt to address them.

ABC's recreational activities were intended to serve specific small groups in the community and it appears that we are finding our nitch. I am always ready to explore new interests and I need and welcome your feedback so that we may all grow together.

I would like to thank our very valuable volunteers who have made our activities so successful and enjoyable. A special thanks goes out to various Lions clubs who have provided volunteers or made other contributions to our organization. We hope to partner with more Lions Clubs in the upcoming years and also establish relations with many other community organizations. On a more personal note, I would like to congratulate the players and volunteers of the Boston Renegades and the New Bedford Brooklawn Bombers. All who were involved in the beep ball program gave it their best and had very successful seasons. Everyone learned something new and many enjoyed the feeling of fellowship with teammates and the thrill of competition. I hope to see you all out on the field next year and I feel that national tournaments are in the future.

ABC's recreational outings have been educational and fun for those who chose to participate. New ideas are always needed, so do not be shy about sending suggestions via email or calling our news and activities line to leave a message.

Membership continues to grow both in Massachusetts and in other states. I continue to use Massachusetts, as our founding state, as a model for other states to grow and develop similar activities. I was invited to speak at a conference in New Hampshire to talk about ABC and how our activities could be developed. ABC sponsored a social event and I met many of our members from New Hampshire. I hope that we will be able to develop an activity that will include our friends from New Hampshire and the rest of New England in the future.

As I am writing this article, the announcement regarding the expansion of our scholarship program has just been released. The growth of this program is extraordinary when considering the size and the short history of ABC. This program remains very dear to me because I feel that education is very powerful in the advancement of the blind and visually impaired community. The Board of Directors and I have some other ideas for further expansion of educational opportunities, but I will postpone sharing those with you until funding permits implementation.

In closing, I would like to wish you all a very happy holiday season. I hope that you had the opportunity to meet many of our ABC members and that you were able to participate in our events. We welcome everyone to come and join ABC in developing opportunities for people who are blind and visually impaired. I hope that, as part of your holiday giving, you consider making a contribution to ABC. The growth and successes of ABC depends on you so; if you have enjoyed being a part of ABC, please send us an expression of your support.

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 or visit our web site at

Dollars and Resources for Scholars

by Linda H. Bolle

Helpful Scholarship Application Tips

These suggestions are provided to assist you in applying for educational funding:
1. Always type or print clearly. Check carefully for spelling mistakes and poor grammar. All of the information that you submit with your application should be neat in appearance.
2. Be sure to include all awards, honors, and citations that you may have earned in sports, avocations, fraternal organizations or school. Mention special talents you may have.
3. It can be very helpful to have general information that you can use for every scholarship application.
4. Include only what is asked for. Some academic institutions now have to charge $10.00 to send out a transcript. Initially, for many scholarship programs, a photocopy of your latest academic record or a statement of your GPA will suffice. If an official transcript is required it will be requested.
5. In calculating your education costs be sure to include the many extra costs associated with higher education. These can include expensive textbooks, student loans, laboratory supplies, clothes, food, travel, typing, computer equipment, student fees, insurance, entertainment, photocopying and other less obvious costs.
6. When presenting your financial circumstances, clearly indicate the amount of money that you will require to complete your education.
7. When listing references always include their full name, title/profession, complete address and telephone number.
8. Apply for all of the financial aid that you can. Note that only a small percentage of students take the time to return applications. Most fall victim to procrastination.
9. Apply promptly. The best time to fill out an application is when you receive it.
10. Scholarships are just one source of funding; there are many others. By also exploring alternative funding sources, students have the opportunity to get more money for their education. These types of sources are generally available to students throughout the entire year.

Check out these sources of scholarships and other awards:

Check out these web sites:
A FREE searchable database which contains more than 500,000 private sector scholarships, fellowships, grants, and loans. Plan to spend at least 30 minutes the first time you use fastweb to create your personal profile.
Be sure to check Finaid's Scholarship Databases, as well as Fin Aid's other types of aid
for profile-specific students (international, ethnicity, non-traditional, and graduate school listings, among many other profiles). An excellent site with great funding and general college information.
Mobility International USA's web site contains information on scholarships and other financial resources for students with disabilities. Although it is geared toward students who wish to study abroad, much of the information is germane to students who wish to study within the US as well. Check it out!
This searchable database contains a listing of more than 40,000 scholarships. One of the neat features of this web site is that those who register with and use the site are automatically entered into a monthly $1,000 scholarship drawing.
Although this web site is geared toward students who are about to graduate from college (as the name of the web site implies), those who register with and use the site are automatically entered in a weekly $1,000 scholarship drawing. What do you have to lose?
While this web site has relatively little to do with higher education per se, those who register with and use the site are eligible for daily and monthly $1,000 drawings as well as an annual drawing of $25,000,000! (This is not a misprint.) You could become a lifetime professional student!

Association of Blind Citizens Expands Scholarship Program

The Association of Blind Citizens will be offering five thousand dollars in college scholarships to blind or visually impaired individuals seeking a college degree. The Reggie Johnson memorial scholarship will be valued at $2000 and three additional $1000 scholarships will be available. The scholarships will be offered for the 2002/2003 school year. The scholarship may be applied to tuition, living expenses or related expenses resulting from vision impairment.

The application for the above mentioned scholarship can only be obtained on ABC's web site. Potential applicants are encouraged to visit and click on the scholarship link for more details and an application form.

Listen to our radio show.

In Focus, ABC's monthly interview and information radio show is available on demand at 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 You can also hear a rebroadcast of Infocus on

Join ABC's president and host for an interview with individuals or companies that are of interest to the blind and visually impaired community.

Book Review

by Cheryl Cumings

Title: Peel My Love Like An Onion

Author: Ana Castillo

Book number: RC 51125

Onions, although they add great flavor to food, have never been a pleasant experience peeling. Therefore, I was very surprised to find a book in which onions; peeling and love were all in the title. How I wondered could anyone link these words and come up with a story?

I was even more intrigued as I read the annotation: Carmen becomes a professional flamenco dancer in Chicago, despite a leg crippled by childhood polio. She tells the story of her midlife crisis and a romantic triangle--herself; Augustín, an older married lover; and Manolo, younger dancer--including their desertion, and how she wins them back. Very skeptical and hesitant, I sat down one Saturday afternoon to read this book.

Carmen our main character and narrator tells her story. It is not told chronologically but is told the way one might talk to a friend: beginning with a particular experience and then recalling that the friend was not present filling the friend in on the events which led up to the current story. Though still hesitant I decided to forge ahead.

By following Carmen, we are drawn into her world of flamenco dancers, gypsies, romance and obsession. Carmen holds nothing back. She talks to us about her relationship with her mother and family. She talks to us about her relationship with her transvestite neighbor. She of course tells us about her relationship with Augustín and Manolo, both dancers and both her lovers.

As I read I must admit I didn't know how or where the story would end. When Carmen's affair with Manolo, Augustín's godson-- hastens the demise of the flamenco troupe. I expected the story to end. I had obviously forgotten the entire annotation of the book, ".including their desertion, and how she wins them back".

Once deserted by her lovers, the story then seems to diverge taking us back to Carmen's childhood. We learn about how she met her best friend and their exploits as kids. At this point, the story began to feel like bits of unconnected vignettes. However, as I read on, I accepted that everything was related to Carmen and by talking about her life and her memories she was working towards the rebuilding of herself. By the end Carmen regains her equilibrium, and triumphs. As the story concludes, the mystique of the title remains but I feel closer to comprehension.

The following review of a new adaptive technology book appeared in the Wisconsin bookwatch, September 2001, Page 2.

book review, Adaptive Technologies For Learning & Work Environments

Joseph J. Lazzaro

ALA Editions
155 North Wacker Dr.
Chicago IL 60606
0838908047 $48.00

Now in an expanded and updated second edition, Joseph Lazzaro's Adaptive Technologies For Learning & Work Environments continues to be a superbly presented survey and explanation of the latest advancements in library staff and patron assistive hardware and software, along with essential information on how to implement them, and how to provide vital training and technical support for them. Detailed chapters identify options for library patrons with visual, hearing, motor, speech, and learning disabilities. This is now supplemented with new chapters devoted to keyboard commands, built-in accessibility utilities, and Internet/Intranet accessibility. Of special interest is the chapter devoted to PC hardware, software, and peripherals providing the library staff member with all the basics needed to work with many different forms of adaptive equipment. More than two hundred products are evaluated, ranging from screen readers to voice command, to word predictors.

Adaptive Technologies For Learning & Work Environments is an indispensable, comprehensive, "user friendly" and highly recommended reference. Below is an excerpt from Adaptive Technologies for Learning and work Environments by Joseph J. Lazzaro. The book can be ordered from the American Library Association in print or CD-ROM. The CD-ROM version is readable with any standard browser and is accessible for persons using adaptive technology. To order copies, call the American Library Association at 800-545-2433 and press 7 for Customer Service. The book can also be ordered online from the Special Needs Project bookstore at Joe maintains a web site at

Chapter 2

Driving the Computer from the Keyboard

Personal computers provide a platform of independence for users with disabilities, and built-in keyboard commands and accessibility utilities increase that self-reliance. As discussed in chapter 1, the personal computer employs output devices for displaying data and input devices for entering commands and information. The two basic input devices are the keyboard and the mouse. The keyboard lets you enter data and issue commands. The mouse, in conjunction with the keyboard, lets you point to objects on the screen and select or run them on demand. For persons with disabilities, the keyboard and mouse can prove to be significant barriers, but accessibility utilities and keyboard shortcuts can help to overcome them.

A key focus of adaptive technology is the ability to control a computer directly from the keyboard without having to use a mouse. In place of the physical mouse, a user employs keyboard shortcut commands to move the mouse pointer, explore the user interface, and activate or select objects. This chapter describes how to run Microsoft Windows, the Apple Macintosh, and the Unix environment from the keyboard, without having to use the mouse. The built-in accessibility utilities for these operating systems are also discussed. Given the dominance of Microsoft Windows and given the great range of adaptive technology that is compatible with Windows, we will focus on that platform. However, the discussion will remain general whenever possible to demonstrate commands and methodologies that are common to all operating systems. This, it is hoped, will serve the greatest number of readers.


This section describes the Graphical User Interface (GUI) employed by Windows, Macintosh, Unix, and other operating systems. This chapter and its associated appendix material will show you how to control your computer, interact with the operating system, and navigate and control applications programs directly from the keyboard without having to utilize the mouse. However, if you wish to use the mouse, this chapter will not conflict with your use in any way. Because individual choice is of paramount importance, we seek to include a variety of technologies and methodologies that will equip readers to make informed decisions. Most operating systems in use today employ a Graphical User Interface to display information to the user and to control the operating system and applications software programs. Older operating systems, such as DOS (Disk Operating System), employed text to display information on the video monitor in an 80-character-by-25-line grid. These older operating systems did not encourage a standard user interface, which resulted in a different appearance and command structure for each applications software package.

Graphical User Interfaces use a grid of pixels to display both text and images-everything from simple text documents to multimedia presentations. Pixels are tiny points of light that can be gathered into any shape, whether characters or pictures or control objects. Pixels allow text characters to appear in any font, size, or color, and can be combined to create detailed graphics. Pixels enable you to control the look and feel of the screen presentation and to control any menus visible on-screen. The GUI is controlled by moving the mouse pointer to various control objects on the screen and by clicking one of the mouse buttons to activate the control objects.

The mouse is a tiny device that lives on your desk and fits in the palm of your hand. As indicated above, it allows you to move a cursor/pointer around the computer screen. When you move the pointer to an object on the screen, such as a menu, you can press a button on the mouse to activate the menu. This action is known as pointing and clicking, and is the standard methodology for controlling computers equipped with Graphical User Interfaces.

Using the mouse is easy enough in concept. You use the mouse to point to an object on your screen and that object then becomes highlighted. The mouse contains buttons that allow you to select that object and perform other operations. It's that simple, but not if you're a person with a disability. Using the mouse is straightforward and easy to comprehend if you can see what's on the screen and manipulate the mouse. But if you have difficulty seeing the screen or physically moving the mouse, the mouse becomes a barrier. Fortunately, the mouse is not the only way to control your computer, for there are many ways to run your computer directly from the keyboard. In the next section, we'll use the Windows operating system to give examples of some of the features of Graphical User Interfaces that make them accessible to persons with disabilities and allow navigation with the keyboard instead of the mouse.


After only a few minutes of experience with Windows, you'll notice that the software programs visually resemble each other. Most traditional Windows-based programs share the same user interface, and as a result, they look and operate virtually identically. The same is true for the Macintosh and Unix platforms. The common user interface enables novice users to learn the operating system rapidly and confidently, because the skills acquired running one software program can be directly transferred to other programs. Unfortunately, of late, more and more applications are adapting a "Web-like" design and, as a result, are dispensing with established conventions. Such applications may look unique, but they sacrifice the benefits that users gain from consistency. Windows software programs that comply with Microsoft standards share the same visual appearance for the most part and use a common command structure. Each program contains some or all of the same basic components: main parent window, window frame, title bar, menu bar, toolbar, status bars, scroll bars, and child windows.

When a program is launched, it appears on your screen in a window. This is the parent window, which can fill the entire screen or only a portion of it, depending on your preferences. The parent window contains all the windows, menus, and objects that let you control the program. It also has the ability to open child windows to display information or prompt you for input. Child windows are smaller windows that usually appear within or in front of the parent window. The parent window contains the program title bar, menu bar, toolbar, and one or more child windows. The title bar contains the name of the program as well as buttons for closing or changing the window's size. At the left end of the title bar is often an icon. By clicking on the icon, you can display the window's shortcut menu, which lets you close, move, or resize the window using the keyboard. You can use the ALT+- keyboard command to pop up a menu that lets you restore, minimize, or maximize the child window. And you can use the ALT+SPACEBAR keyboard command to bring up a menu that lets you restore, minimize, or maximize the parent window. The window frame makes it easy to see the outline of the window, and in many cases you can resize the window by dragging an edge of the frame with the mouse. The menu bar and toolbar offer command menus to control the program. Scroll bars along the side or bottom of the window allow you to display different parts of a document that's too big to fit into the window in its entirety.

A status bar along the bottom of the window may display information about the application or the document you're reading. Some applications also have document windows, child windows displayed within the main application window. Dialog boxes are one of the most common parts of the Windows, Macintosh, and other Graphical User Interfaces. Dialog boxes are used to control programs and pop up for numerous operations, such as printing documents, saving files, and confirming a program shutdown. Most applications display dialog boxes as child windows in front of the main window to get your attention or ask for information.


When you start your computer, the operating system loads from the hard disk drive, bringing your system to life. Whether you're running a Windows, Macintosh, or Unix platform, the same concept holds true. After the operating system loads, you will have the opportunity to log in and begin your work.

Logging In

After you see the start-up information and logos, the first interaction you'll have with your system is when it asks you to log in. This involves typing in your name and password, which lets the computer know who you are. You can set up the computer so that each person using the machine has his or her own unique working environment. An environment consists of the colors, font sizes, and other preferences that are automatically invoked when you log in. You can also use accessibility settings or your own adaptive technology to help you log in. If you choose, you can bypass the login by pressing ESC, or you can turn off the login prompt altogether. On Windows NT or Windows 2000, you can bypass the login process if you're running your computer at home, but you may not be allowed to do so if you're on a network at work or at school. In addition, some adaptive technologies may not be able to run until you've logged on, which can make it tricky if you need the adaptation to log in!

Once you've logged in, the first screen that Windows presents contains several discrete objects that you can navigate and control. Those objects are the taskbar and the desktop. The taskbar is normally at the bottom of your screen, but you can move it to the top or either side by dragging it with the mouse. The taskbar displays a number of separate areas, including the Start button (which you press to display the Start menu), the task buttons, and the taskbar icons. On Windows 98, Windows Me, and Windows 2000 there are also a number of optional toolbars that you can display within the taskbar.

The Start menu, which you display by pressing the taskbar's Start button or CTRL+ESCAPE, is an important tool because it lets you launch applications and documents, and also perform useful actions such as finding files, getting help, changing settings, shutting down your computer, and other tasks. In simple terms, the Start button lets you pop up a series of menus that contain software programs and documents that you can launch.

The desktop is another sort of menu that contains links to software programs and documents, except that it is always visible on-screen. Think of the desktop as a constantly visible list of tools that are used frequently. The desktop contains icons representing programs, documents, and locations such as your network and the recycle bin. The taskbar's task buttons show you all the application windows that are currently loaded into memory and running, and you can switch to one of those windows just by clicking on the corresponding button. The taskbar icons are displayed by some utilities to give you information or make it easy to adjust settings. Typically you might see icons that let you adjust the speaker volume, indicate that you have new e-mail waiting, and tell you the status of the battery if you're running on a notebook computer. It also displays the current time. By default, you'll see the Quick Launch toolbar, which has icons for starting commonly used programs such as Outlook and Internet Explorer. (You can also run those programs from the Start menu, so the Quick Launch toolbar is really just a convenience for people who use a mouse.) As you gain more experience, you can customize the Start menu, the desktop, and the toolbars to let you quickly access programs and documents that you use daily. A word of caution: If you're using adaptive technology, especially a screen reader, you want to avoid customizing as much as possible to maximize system performance and reliability.

Navigating with the TAB Key

The TAB key is one of the most commonly used keys on the keyboard. It will help you move around your computer's various screens and cycle between the areas on the taskbar and the desktop. The TAB key is also used to move through dialog boxes throughout the operating system and in applications software programs. In addition, the TAB key is used a great deal when browsing the Web to move from one link to another on a Web site. From the Windows main screen, you can se the TAB key to cycle between the Start button, task buttons, toolbars (including the Quick Launch toolbar), taskbar icons, and desktop.

Try hitting the TAB key repeatedly, and you'll see how the focus moves from the Start button to the Quick Launch toolbar, to the task buttons, to the taskbar icons, to the desktop, and finally back again to the Start button. The TAB key allows you to make a complete circuit of those objects. You cannot get lost or stray from the beaten path because the TAB key moves in a circular route from one object to another. If you want to move backward by one or more objects, simply use the SHIFT key in combination with the TAB key: SHIFT+TAB.

Selecting Objects with the ENTER Key

The ENTER key is a powerful keyboard shortcut that lets you bypass the mouse for activating objects. You can test this by using the TAB key command described earlier. Strike the TAB key until you land on the Start button, then press the ENTER key. This will open the Start menu, showing you a list of programs and documents. Now use your DOWN ARROW key to move down the list in the Start menu, and strike the ENTER key when you land on a program or document that you wish to launch. Pay close attention as you move down the Start menu and take notice of items that include "..." as part of the title. The ellipsis points indicate that you will be taken to a dialog box when you strike ENTER on that item. Also, some menu items have a dark triangle pointing to the right. Activating such an item will take you to a submenu. Screen readers will generally announce this as "submenu." You can close a menu at any time by pressing the ESCAPE key, located on the upper-left corner of your keyboard.

The Start Button Hot Key

A hot key is a keystroke that lets you start an application or perform a function with a single keystroke. Hot keys can be used to launch applications, run scripts, or start your adaptive technology. By now you should realize that the Start button is one of the most important objects in the Windows environment, as it contains a list of software programs and documents that you can launch at will. Because of this button's importance, there is a key command to move directly to it from any point within the operating system. Simply striking the CTRL+ESCAPE key sequence will bring you directly to the Start button and open it. To perform this sequence, simply depress the CTRL key and strike the ESCAPE key while CTRL is held down. You can then use the UP and DOWN ARROW keys to move through the Start menu options and use the ENTER key to select any program or submenu on the Start menu. If you pressed CTRL+ESC to open the Start menu, you can press ESC to close the menu and leave the focus on the Start button. That's a convenient way to get into position to press TAB to move between areas on the taskbar and the desktop.

Switching from One Application to Another

The Windows and other operating systems allow you to run more than one program at a time in a process called multitasking. Microsoft Windows lets you manage multiple applications by displaying each program individually within its own window on-screen. You can also choose to have each program fill the entire screen. Try launching several programs into memory by going to the Start button with CTRL+ESCAPE. Use your arrow keys to move to a desired program or document, and strike the ENTER key. Pop up the Start menu again, and launch another program or document. As you launch each program or document, you'll notice that its icon appears on the taskbar at the bottom of the screen. This should reinforce the concept that the Start menu and desktop are menus of programs and documents, whereas the taskbar is a list of programs and documents that are currently running. Now that you have at least two programs or documents loaded into memory and running, you may be asking yourself how to control all of them at once. The answer is simple. You control only one program at a time. (Programs that are pushed into the background can continue running with reduced system resources, depending on your system configuration.) The program that you can control is the one that currently has the focus. You can switch the focus from one program to another using the ALT+TAB key command sequence. Simply hold down the ALT key and repeatedly strike the TAB key. This will cycle you from one program to another and back to your starting point. Pressing ALT+TAB just once always takes you to the window you most recently visited, so when you need to switch back and forth between two windows in which you're working, it's often convenient to do so by pressing ALT+TAB.

Menu Navigation

As discussed earlier, Windows programs share a common structure. The title appears at the top of the window containing the program. The menu bar appears beneath the title, and the main document window beneath the menu bar. The menu bar contains the control menus for applications software programs. The menu system allows you to load documents into memory, save documents to disk, print documents, cut and copy information to the clipboard, change the view of a document, use tools and utilities that help you create and customize your documents, obtain help, and more, depending on the nature and configuration of the application. The menu bar is an important part of any program as it allows you to control the software and settings for your computer system. You can use the ALT keyboard command to go directly to the menu bar of any application. Simply strike and release the ALT key, and you will be automatically taken to the menu bar. You can then use your LEFT and RIGHT ARROW keys to move horizontally along the menu bar. As you progress horizontally, you will move from one submenu to another. Simply use the DOWN or UP ARROW keys to move into a submenu. You can use the ENTER key to select menu options once they have been activated. You can also use other hot keys to directly pull down a menu. Just hold down the ALT key and strike the keyboard letter that corresponds to the highlighted letter in the menu name on the menu bar. Try hitting ALT+F to go directly to the File menu on the menu bar or ALT+H to go directly into the help system.

Shutting Down Applications

If you wish to shut down an application or document, you can use the ALT+F4 keyboard shortcut command. This simple command brings up a dialog box that asks you if you really want to quit the currently running application. You can use the TAB key to move through the dialog box to select Yes, No, or Cancel. If you select Yes, the program will be unloaded from memory, and its icon will disappear from the taskbar. See appendix A for a listing of Windows keyboard shortcuts and commands.


Microsoft Windows 2000 includes a set of accessibility utilities that can also be found in Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Me. These utilities help users with disabilities control the computer, change how the keyboard behaves, drive the mouse, and other useful functions. The accessibility features and utilities are installed by default, but can also be configured to your individual needs. To assist users with configuring the built-in accessibility utilities, Windows 2000 includes an Accessibility Wizard. The Accessibility Wizard walks you through the configuration process one step at a time. The wizard asks you questions and configures the built-in accessibility utilities accordingly. You can run the Accessibility Wizard when you first configure your computer or later, after you've gained some experience. The Accessibility Wizard helps users who have difficulty seeing the screen, hearing sounds from the computer, typing on the keyboard, or driving the mouse. The Windows Control Panel also lets you adjust the settings of the various accessibility utilities. Simply go to the Start menu, then to Settings, then to Control Panel. The Control Panel contains groups of utilities that pertain to accessibility. Three useful accessibility utilities are Narrator (new in Windows 2000), On-Screen Keyboard (available in Windows 2000 and Windows Me), and Magnifier (available in Windows 2000, Windows Me, and Windows 98).

Narrator is a simple screen reader designed to assist persons who are blind or visually impaired. Narrator provides voice output with a limited number of Windows programs and is useful when a third-party screen reader is not available. Narrator canspeak characters aloud as they are entered at the keyboard, and can also speak menus and other screen objects. On-Screen Keyboard is a utility designed to assist users who have difficulty typing on the keyboard. It allows users to control the computer using an alternative pointing device or joystick. On-Screen Keyboard can show two basic keyboard layouts, a standard keyboard with a numeric keypad or a keyboard without a numeric keypad. Magnifier is a screen-enlargement software program to assist users who have low vision. It also provides a high-contrast setting to make the screen easier to read. In addition, Magnifier can follow the mouse pointer as it is moved around the screen and track the cursor for editing text.

Utility Manager

Utility Manager is a program in Windows 2000 that lets you configure and manage all of the built-in accessibility utilities and allows you to check the status of any of the individual utilities. Utility Manager also enables you to load or terminate any of the accessibility utilities from its Control menu or to automatically launch any of the accessibility utilities upon system start. You can launch Utility Manager by going to the Start menu, then to Programs, then to Accessories, and finally to Accessibility, where you can select Utility Manager. You can also use the ALT+U hot key to automatically start Utility Manager.

Control Panel Accessibility Utilities

The Windows Control Panel lets you adjust the settings of the individual accessibility utilities built into the operating system and to configure the nonadaptive aspects of your entire computer system. You can find the Control Panel by going to the Start menu, then to Settings, then finally to the Control Panel. The Control Panel lets you manage display, Internet, keyboard, mouse, sound, multimedia, user, and password options. It also lets you turn on a feature that provides additional keyboard help with some software programs. Below are brief descriptions of the utilities that support accessibility in the Control Panel.


The StickyKeys utility is a powerful tool for users who have difficulty with compound keyboard sequences. Such keyboard sequences are commonly needed to type a capital letter or execute a CTRL or ALT key command. Compound key sequences require you to hold down more than one key at a time, which presents obvious barriers for some users with disabilities. The StickyKey utility allows you to convert compound key sequences into single keyboard presses. You can activate StickyKeys through the Control Panel or from Utility Manager. When you need to type a capital letter, simply strike and release the SHIFT key, then strike the desired letter. StickyKeys holds down the SHIFT key electronically, turning this compound key sequence into something more manageable.


FilterKeys is a utility that filters out repeated keystrokes that can occur when you accidentally hold a key down for too long. This utility forces the computer to ignore such accidental repeating key sequences. FilterKeys can be found in the Control Panel or under Utility Manager.


SoundSentry is a utility that generates a visual signal when the computer produces sounds. It is useful for users who have hearing-related disabilities. SoundSentry flashes the screen or window border to alert you that a sound is being generated by the computer. You can find this utility in the Control Panel or under Utility Manager.


ShowSounds tells your programs to display captions of speech or other sounds generated by your computer. The software application must have built-in captions for this feature to work. You can find ShowSounds in the Control Panel or under Utility Manager.


MouseKeys lets you use the numeric keypad to control the movement of the mouse. This may be useful for users who have difficulty using the mouse. MouseKeys does not interfere with your ability to use the numeric keypad to enter numbers. You can find MouseKeys in the Control Panel or under Utility Manager.

High Contrast

The Control Panel includes a High Contrast utility that alters the display to make it more readable for users with low vision. The High Contrast mode provides enhanced color schemes and different font sizes to make it easier to read the screen. You can find this utility in the Control Panel or under Utility Manager.

The Macintosh and Unix platforms also have built-in accessibility options and utilities, similar to those found on Windows. There are, of course, differences in features and functionality across platforms. The Macintosh accessibility options are known as Universal Access, and those found in the Unix environment are called AccessX.

Active Accessibility

Although the Windows operating system contains many built-in accessibility utilities and features, you may choose to use a third-party adaptive device from one of the many adaptive technology vendors. There is a wide variety of adaptive technology available for the Windows operating system, such as screen readers, screen-magnification utilities, and voice-recognition packages. To more fully support third-party adaptive technology, Microsoft has developed Active Accessibility, a tool used by hardware and software vendors to make their adaptive technology products more compatible and streamlined with the Windows operating system. Functioning in much the same manner as a client/server mechanism, Active Accessibility allows adaptive technology to reach into the operating system to retrieve information necessary for the user. This information allows programs like screen readers to interpret the complex Windows environment and to manage information displayed on the screen. In simple terms, Active Accessibility allows adaptive technology to communicate with the internal operating system, and this results in more robust integration between adaptive and nonadaptive equipment.


Like Windows, the Macintosh and Unix platforms have built-in accessibility utilities, such as StickyKeys and MouseKeys. This section outlines in brief some of the accessibility utilities and keyboard shortcuts found on Macintosh and Unix platforms. Windows, Macintosh, and Unix platforms share a common set of accessibility utilities. They all share a common core subset of these utilities, but not all utilities and shortcuts are available on each of the platforms.

On the Macintosh platform, the built-in accessibility utilities are called Universal Access. On older Macintosh systems, these utilities were known as Easy Access. The Macintosh-based utilities offer ways to alter the behavior of the keyboard, drive the mouse, generate synthesized speech, and magnify the video display. The accessibility utilities found in the Unix operating system are known as AccessX and are similar, but not identical, to those found on the Windows and Macintosh platforms. See appendix B for a list of Macintosh keyboard shortcut commands.

There is also a series of accessibility utilities for the legacy DOS operating system for older computer platforms that may still be running in this environment. The Access Pack contains utilities to help with keyboard access, driving the mouse, and other features. See the Microsoft Web site at for more information about their adaptive technology efforts, Access Packs, additional keyboard commands, tips and tricks, accessible documentation, and more.

Running your computer from the keyboard is a powerful method for maximizing your independence and gaining increased access to software and information. You can employ keyboard commands and shortcuts to control the operating system and applications programs stored on your personal computer. You can also use these keyboard-based command sequences to browse the World Wide Web and access other Internet applications. Keyboard shortcuts and commands are a positive trend that is now common across many operating systems and applications programs, and work on these important features is an ongoing process. It is desirable to build support for adaptive technology directly into computer operating systems as this allows individual applications to take advantage of these features to increase accessibility for the widest possible audience.

If you write for fun or are a professional writer you may submit articles on any topic for publication or republication. Submisions for our Spring/Summeredition must be submitted by April 1, 2002. Please submit them via email to or mail them on disk to
P.O. Box 246
Holbrook MA 02343.



It's the bottom of the sixth, the Lowell Lightnings' last at bat. It's 4-3 and the Boston Renegades are in the lead! A slight breeze blows in the warm August twilight. A mosquito buzzes. The Renegades took an early 4-0 lead but the Lightnings began to hit in the later innings. No cheap hits either. Tim Cummings has made a nice diving stop of an in-field grounder for the first Lowell out. The next batter strikes out. That leaves one to go for the win. The batter sets. He has already hammered one in the third inning. Here's the pitch and slam!

This is what I did with my spring and summer weekends in 2001. And who would have thought it? Beep ball! No, not B Ball. Beep ball, baseball for folks with blindness and low-vision. And I loved it. Last summer, after an Association of Blind Citizens adaptive baseball game where a soccer ball was bounced to the hitter, a few of us took turns swinging at a beep ball that someone had brought. The ball is similar in size to a sixteen inch softball and sounds, when the pin is pulled, like a truck backing up way too fast. It looked like a cartoon bomb! I remember how badly I wanted to cream that ball, but none of us could even make contact. We've come a long way since then.

In April, we held our first practices coordinated by manager John Oliveira and conducted with the help of sighted volunteers. Only a disorganized hand-full showed up for our first meeting which eventually was rained out. May weather was good to the Renegades, though, and we established the ritual of Saturdays on the ball field. But those memories of the previous August's futile wiffs at the beep ball weren't easily dispelled. It often seemed like fifteen minutes went by before some Renegade hit a ball that could be fielded. We gave the Bad News Bears a run for their money, that's for sure. But with the help of volunteers, Paul Blaney and Erin Herlihy, our hitting, running, and fielding improved. Slowly but surely, our aluminum bats smacked the beep balls more often and our heaving bodies toppled the tall buzzing bases before the ball was grabbed. We were ready for our first challenge on our home turf against the Lowell Lightning.

The phrase "dirt dogs" became popular to describe the Red Sox as the Renegades played their first games in June. And the Sox weren't the only "dirt dogs" in town! Against the Lightning and the New Bedford Bombers, we dove, scratched, and clawed to a 3-0 record. Against Lowell, John Smith tied the game, in our last at bat,with a clutch drive to deep right Inkiala Sengil, Inkomatic, then won it, 3-2, when he beat out a hard grounder. The Renegade bench went wild. Against New Bedford, five different Renegades contributed with one or more hits to sweep a double-header 3-1 and 4-1. I'll never forget my first hit in the second game, a liner passed the right fielder. A jammed ankle didn't keep me from sprinting back to the cheering bench. How sweet it was to contribute to a great win. But we knew better then to get too high because we had yet to play Long Island, an established national tournament team.

It was a rainy Sunday morning in Rockville, Long Island, in July, when we tasted our first defeats 8-1 and 10-0. Our soggy grass-stained uniform shirts stunk as we boarded the van for the long ride back to Boston. I remember thinking that at least the slaughter rule of 12 runs wasn't invoked. But the chatter on that ride back to Boston was excited and optimistic. We knew what we had to do to beat a good team.

We finished the season with wins against Lowell and New Bedford, 4-3 and 5-1. The Lightning took us to the wire once again, threatening to tie the game in their last at bat. But the Renegades slammed the door. Cheryl Cummings made two nice bids for hits in that game. Tim Cummings, Joe Quintanella, John Smith, and I all scored. It was another team effort. Our victory in our final game at New Bedford was perhaps the most convincing. When the New Bedford base operator finally learned to turn on the base after two balls were hit, the umpire had already awarded two runs to the Renegades. Team mates ribbed me for weeks about running into a fence when the base failed to buzz. If I learned anything that day, I learned that a little pain can certainly motivate you to hit a beep ball. 5-1 was the final tally. And the Renegades first season ended a great success, 5 wins, 2 losses.

Last night, recalling our first victorious season, I just couldn't resist. I grabbed my aluminum bat from the closet and began practicing my swing. The chilly November wind rattled the windows. The bat felt full and heavy in my hands. The smoothness of the black barrel felt pleasing. I set my feet, pointing my front toe toward the imaginary pitcher. I imagined the sandy dirt beneath my shoes, a warm summer breeze and the sweat beneath my cap. Shifting my weight to my back foot, I cocked the bat and paused. Was that a beep ball I was hearing? I listened carefully. Could April be here so soon? Did someone spike my coke with rum? Sighing, I realized it was just my alarm clock. April will be here soon enough.

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 Seeing TongueIn-the-mouth electrodes give blind people a feel for vision

by Peter Weiss

Science News

Week of Sept. 1, 2001; Vol. 160, No. 9

Blind since birth, Marie-Laure Martin had always thought that candle flames were big balls of fire. The 39-year-old woman couldn't see the flames themselves, but she could sense the candle's aura of heat. Last October, she saw a candle flame for the first time. She was stunned by how small it actually was and how it danced. There's a second marvel here: She saw it all with her tongue.

The tongue, an organ of taste and touch, may seem like an unlikely substitute for the eyes. After all, it's usually hidden inside the mouth, insensitive to light, and not connected to optic nerves. However, a growing body of research indicates that the tongue may in fact be the second-best place on the body for receiving visual information from the world and transmitting it to the brain.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are developing this tongue-stimulating system, which translates images detected by a camera into a pattern of electric pulses that trigger touch receptors. The scientists say that volunteers testing the prototype soon lose awareness of on-the-tongue sensations. They then perceive the stimulation as shapes and features in space. Their tongue becomes a surrogate eye.

Earlier research had used the skin as a route for images to reach the nervous system. That people can decode nerve pulses as visual information when they come from sources other than the eyes shows how adaptable, or plastic, the brain is, says Wisconsin neuroscientist and physician Paul Bach-y-Rita, one of the device's inventors.

"You don't see with the eyes. You see with the brain," he contends.

An image, once it reaches an eye's retina, "becomes nerve pulses no different from those from the big toe," he says. To see, people rely on the brain's ability to interpret those signals correctly. With that in mind, he and his colleagues propose that restoring sight is only one of the many trajectories for their research. Restoring stability to those with balance disorders is another. So is bestowing people with brand new senses, such as the capability to use heat to see in the dark.

Restoring lost vision

First things first, however, and for the Wisconsin scientists that means restoring lost vision. Swapping the sense of touch for sight is not a new idea. In the 1960s, Bach-y-Rita, his colleagues, and other scientists began developing and testing devices that enable the skin of blind people to pick up visual information. For Bach-y-Rita, the experiments also provided insight into the brain's plasticity. His more general goal has been to find out how well one sense can take the place of another.

Until the 1980s, "one of the axioms of neuroscience was that there was no plasticity in the adult central nervous system," says Edward Taub of the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Today, the field has turned around in response to many studies, including Bach-y-Rita's. Now, scientists view the brain as almost as malleable in old age as in youth, he adds.

The idea of tongue as eye evolved from the earlier skin-as-eye studies. Bach-y-Rita and his coworkers had been placing touch-stimulating arrays on areas of people's skin, such as the back and the abdomen. The scientists used either electrodes or little buzzers to excite nerve endings of the skin in a pattern that corresponded to visual images. They found that after receiving training, blind people using these systems could recognize shapes and track motion. Some subjects could perceive the motion of a ball rolling down an inclined plane and bat it as it rolled off the plane's edge. Others could carry out an assembly-line task at an electronics plant. It required them to recognize glass tubes lacking solder and then to deposit some solder into those tubes.

These results impressed Bach-y-Rita and his colleagues enough to begin trying to apply their basic research toward designing aids for the blind, he says. The researchers' early systems had the look and feel of what they were, experiments. The buzzers were noisy, heavy, and power hungry. Although electrodes could stimulate nerves quietly and efficiently, high voltages and currents were necessary to drive signals through the skin. That sometimes led to uncomfortable shocks. Because of these drawbacks, Bach-y-Rita began thinking about the tongue. "We brushed him off," recalls coworker Kurt A. Kaczmarek, an electrical engineer and perception researcher, also at the University of Wisconsin. "He tends to be a bit ahead of his day."

In time, however, Kaczmarek was convinced. "One day, I said 'Okay, Paul. Let's go up to the lab and try it.' It turns out, it worked quite well," he says.

Tongue stimulation, however, isn't the only way to circumvent blindness. One competing approach, for example, is to implant microchips in the eyes or brain (SN: 4/12/97, p. 221). Another scheme, devised by a Dutch scientist, converts images to what he calls soundscapes, which are piped to a blind person's ears.

Tongue stimulation

To Bach-y-Rita, his team's switch from skin to tongue stimulation was crucial. "We now, for the first time, have the possibility of a really practical [touch-based] human-machine interface," he declares. He and his coworkers founded the Madison-based company Wicab, to exploit the potential. Kaczmarek points out the fledgling company may be in for some competition, since a German inventor already has been granted a U.S. patent for a tongue-vision system.

"Using the tongue for seeing is a whole new approach. . . . I think it has great promise," says Michael D. Oberdorfer, program director for visual neuroscience at the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, Md. His office has been funding some of the Wisconsin group's work. The tongue is a better sensor than skin for several reasons, says Bach-y-Rita. For one, it's coated in saliva, an electrically conductive fluid. So, stimulation can be applied with much lower voltage and current than is required for the skin. Also, the tongue is more densely populated with touch-sensitive nerves than most other parts of the body. That opens up the possibility that the tongue can convey higher-resolution data than the skin can. What's more, the tongue is ordinarily out of sight and out of the way. "With visual aids to the blind, there are cosmetic issues," says Oberdorfer. "And you'd want something easy to wear that doesn't interfere with everyday activities."

Currently, the Wisconsin researchers' tongue-display system begins with a camera about the size of a deck of cards. Cables connect it with a toaster-size control box. Extending from the box is another cable made of flat, flexible plastic laced with copper wires. It narrows at the end to form the flat, 12-by-12, gold-plated electrode array the size of a dessert fork. The person lays it like a lollipop on his or her tongue. Stimulation from electrodes produces sensations that subjects describe as tingling or bubbling.

The Wisconsin researchers say that the whole apparatus could shrink dramatically, becoming both hidden and easily portable. The camera would vanish into an eyeglass frame. From there, it would wirelessly transmit visual data to a dental retainer in the mouth that would house the signal-translating electronics. The retainer would also hold the electrode against the tongue.

The tongue display still has a long way to go in terms of performance, the researchers admit. In the July 13 Brain Research, Bach-y-Rita and his colleagues Eliana Sampaio and Stéphane Maris, both of the Université Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France, report results from the first clinical study of the tongue display. After an initial, brief training period, 12 first-time users and 6 sighted but blindfolded and 6 congenitally blind, including Marie-Laure Martin tried to determine the orientation of the E's of a standard Snellen eye chart. On average, they scored 20/860 in visual acuity. The cutoff for legal blindness is 20/200 with corrected vision.

"It's not normal sight," comments Taub. "It's like very dim shadows. But it's remarkable. It's a beginning."

One obstacle to better vision with the device is the low resolution of its 144-electrode display. Engineers on the team say they expect to quadruple the array density in the next few years. A more serious problem is the range of contrast that can be replicated on the tongue, Kaczmarek notes. In a typical image, the eye may simultaneously see lighted regions that are 1,000 times brighter than the dimmest ones. But the ratio of strongest to weakest tongue stimulation can only be about 3 to 1. "That's one of the things we're struggling with," Kaczmarek says.

Visual sensations

Exactly how the tongue supplies the brain with images remains a focus of the Wisconsin team's research. In his 1993 book, The Man Who Tasted Shapes (Putnam), Washington, D.C.-based neurologist Richard E. Cytowic made much of how flavors stimulating the tongue of a friend and, later, an experimental subject, would elicit visual sensations. However, that type of involuntary and poorly understood sensory blending, which is known as synesthesia, probably goes beyond what's needed to explain the operation of the tongue display, Bach-y-Rita says. Instead, there's plenty of evidence, he says, that even those brain regions devoted almost exclusively to a certain sense actually receive a variety of sensory signals. "We showed many years ago that even in the specialized eye region, auditory and tactile signals also arrive," he notes.

Also, many studies over the past 40 years indicate that the brain is capable of massively reorganizing itself in response to loss or injury. When it comes to seeing via the sense of touch, reorganization may involve switching portions of the visual cortex to the processing of touch sensations, Bach-y-Rita says. In that vein, the first clinical study of the tongue device showed that users got better with practice. Of the dozen subjects in the initial evaluation, two went on to receive an additional 9 hours each of training. When retested, they had doubled their visual acuity, scoring an average of 20/430.

The brain's apparent ability to shunt data for one sense through the customary pathways of another may enable the Wisconsin researchers to apply their device beyond vision replacement. "It's not just about vision," says Mitchell E. Tyler, a biomedical engineer with the group. "That's the obvious one, but it's by no means the only game in town."

The team began tests this summer of a modified system that's intended to assist people who have lost their sense of balance because of injury, disease, or reactions to antibiotics. The unit gathers signals from accelerometers mounted on a person that indicate when he or she is tilting and in what direction. By stimulating the tongue with patterns representing the degree and direction of tilt, such a device may act as an artificial vestibular system. Then, the person might be able to correct bodily position and avoid falling, Tyler explains.

Although the main emphasis of the Wisconsin research has been rehabilitation, the group also foresees using its technology to aid people who don't have sensory deficits. Interest in enhancement of the senses has come primarily from the military. While Bach-y-Rita and his colleagues were using external skin as a receiver of light-derived images, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in Arlington, Va., funded them to develop a sonar-based system to help Navy commandos orient themselves in pitch darkness. The prototype worked, Bach-y-Rita says.

Tyler proposes that ground soldiers could also receive data by means of infrared cameras or other sensors that would alert them, through the tongue, to the presence and positions of enemy troops or tanks. Civilian workers, such as firefighters, might also benefit from such interfaces.

That's pure speculation right now. Martin's bouts of vision; however, are much more than that. In a new film that aired on Canadian television in June, a smile spreads across Martin's face as she gets her first glimpse of a candle flame. The film, Touch: The Forgotten Sense, highlights some of the Wisconsin work. Its message is this: Touch works in a thousand ways, often without people even being aware of its roles. By taking this sense into new arenas, such as the tongue display, Bach-y-Rita and his coworkers intend to extend touch's repertoire even more


References and Sources


  • Sampaio, E., S. Maris., and P. Bach-y-Rita. 2001. Brain plasticity: 'Visual' acuity of blind persons via the tongue. Brain Research 908(July 13):204.

Further Readings:

  • 2001. Tongue seen as portal to the brain. University of Wisconsin-Madison press release. March 26. Available at
  • Bower, B. 1995. Brain changes linked to phantom-limb pain. Science News 147(June 10):357.
  • 1999. Ear implants resound in deaf cats' brains. Science News 156(Sept. 11):167.
  • Seppa, N. 1998. Do blind people track sounds better? Science News 154(Sept. 19):180.
  • 2001. Gene therapy cures blindness in dogs. Science News 159(May 12):296.
  • Travis, J. 2000. Snap, crackle, and feel good? Science News 158(Sept. 23):204. Available at
  • 2000. Perfect pitch common among the blind. Science News 158(Nov. 25):344.
  • Wu, C. 1997. Solar cells may sub for retinal receptors. Science News 151(April 12):221.

For online information about the University of Wisconsin's tongue display, see
To learn about transforming light images into "soundscapes," see Be sure to check out the Java demo.
For more information about the film Touch: The Forgotten Sense, directed by Kun Chang, contact:
Max Films
518, Rue Sherbrooke Est.
Montreal, QC H2L 1K1 Canada


Paul Bach-y-Rita
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
University of Wisconsin-Madison
600 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI 53792-3256

Richard E. Cytowic
4720 Blagden Terrace, N.W.
Washington, DC 20011-3720

Kurt A. Kaczmarek
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
Department of Biomedical Engineering
1300 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706

Stéphane Maris
Laboratorie d'Etudes des Systemes Perceptifs et Emotionnels
Université Louis Pasteur
12 rue Goethe
67000 Strasbourg

Michael D. Oberdorfer
National Eye Institute
Executive Plaza South, Suite 350
6120 Executive Boulevard, MSC 7164
Bethesda, MD 20892-7164

Eliano Sampaio
Laboratorie d'Etudes des Systemes Perceptifs et Emotionnels
Université Louis Pasteur
12 rue Goethe
67000 Strasbourg

Edward Taub
Department of Psychology
University of Alabama at Birmingham
CPM 712
1530 3rd Avenue S.
Birmingham, AL 35294-0018

Mitchell E. Tyler
Department of Biomedical Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Room 268
1410 Engineering Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1608

From Science News, Vol. 160, No. 9, Sept. 1, 2001, p. 140.
Copyright (c) 2001 Science Service. All rights reserved.
Interested in new developments in science and technology? Consider subscribing to Science News. Visit Science News Online at for access to additional news articles and subscription information.

White Flower shop

The Association of Blind Citizens and White Flower shop want to help you celebrate special occasions for the special people in your life. Send flowers, balloons, plants, fruit or candy baskets, dish gardens and much more. White Flower Shop has the expertise to help you make the perfect choice for everyone on your list for all those special occasions throughout the year. White Flower Shop is ABC's official florist and they will make a donation to ABC for every order that is placed. White Flower Shop will deliver anywhere in the United States and accepts major credit cards.

You can reach White Flower Shop by calling 781-rosebud; that's (781) 767-3283, or toll free from anywhere in the nation at 1-800-788-1427. Please be sure to tell the agent that you were referred by ABC so that we receive a donation from White's for your order. If you do not mention ABC to the agent, we will not receive a donation. Make special occasions a memorable day for the people in your life and for ABC.


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, Inc. 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.

O T R on cd's Encoded in the mp3 format

Most programs are encoded at the standard 32/22 rate. You get around 100 shows per disk. Cost for most disks is just $5.00 For the $5 you get a CD disk and a brailed case. The case: either a soft clam shell or a slimline hard plastic case.

shipping and handling: Shipping for one or two items in the soft case is $1.00. Shipping for the slimline hard plastic cases and for larger orders of the soft clam shells is by priority mail which starts at $3.50. Handling usually runs from $3 to $5. Insurance is available at cost. We prefer Payment via PayPal or Money Order. for custom orders of specific individual episodes or specially encoded discs we do charge extra.

If you would like to compare our show episode lists with your lists, Please contact us. We can do the comparisons or you can, but it is time Consuming and we charge for the service. If you have questions about what we have and offer please email us.

I've been making some FAQ's (Frequently Asked Question) files about O T R and MP3 Players and would be happy to send them to you. By the way, our current favorite portable player is the Rio Volt.

The list of available shows is available by sending email to: Cheryl Pickering

New accessible games for windows

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and our company to you and your organization. My name is Keith Milbourne and I represent ESP Softworks Co. We develop exciting and interactive computer games for the Blind and Visually Impaired communities that are designed to be 100% accessible from concept to production. In using the latest stereo and 3D audio technologies, we're able to deliver immersive and environmentally rich audio-based games that are on par or exceed the quality of mainstream commercial game software.

It is our belief that our quality computer games accomplish far more than simple entertainment. It inspires motivation to build computer familiarity, keyboarding skills, and ease apprehension to those new to the world of computers. They offer an exciting and challenging medium in which to learn and broaden one's horizons and an incentive to learn. The interaction of games and edutainment spurs creativity, expressiveness, and builds bridges between game playing and productivity applications. It is also able to foster the parent-child interaction in a unique new way.

With these thoughts in mind, I encourage you to visit our website at There you will find detailed information about our products as well as discount pricing for educational institutions and quantity pricing. Downloadable demo's are also available via our website. Our products are priced very competitively as we firmly believe that accessible technologies aren't truly 'accessible' unless they are also affordable. You may also request promotional flyers at no charge via the website or by sending an e-mail to with the quantity desired. We look forward to being in touch with you and hope to build a long lasting, personal relationship with your organization. If you have any further questions unanswerable via our website, please contact me personally at, or contact us at (916) 922-7808.

Keith Milbourne, Vice President
ESP Softworks Co.


Dancing Dots, developer of GOODFEEL, the world's first braille music translator, has taken another step in the advancement of music opportunities and independence for blind and low vision students and professionals worldwide. Working with author Richard Taesch of the Southern California Conservatory of Music, Dancing Dots has published "An Introduction to Music For the Blind Student; A Course in Braille Music Reading" to meet the basic need of blind music students: to become literate in music braille.

Lessons and supplemental exercises are applications of the course which has been the official curriculum at the Southern California Conservatory of Music - Braille Music Division for over five years. Taesch, the author of the curriculum, has chaired the guitar department at the Conservatory since 1976 and is certified by the Library of Congress as a music and literary braillist.

"An Introduction To Music for the Blind Student" has a retail price of $299 for three print and four braille volumes. Further information on ordering the course in braille music reading is available by contacting Dancing Dots, Braille Music Technology at (610) 783-6692.


Ann Morris Enterprises 2002 catalog includes holiday items such as musical lighted angels; electric window candles that automatically turn on at dusk and off at dawn; a Christmas clock; a lighted musical church; a talking Santa salt/pepper set; a musical wreath and much more. Items range from about $7 to $20 each. And of course there are the everyday items we need -- from talking and braille watches to kitchen accessories. Specialty items include a talking book/TV- radio and a digital recorder. The money identifier's price is reduced to $295 during 2001.

The catalog is available in large print, four-track cassette, computer disk and e-mail. Braille catalogs are $10, but with any order, just $6.

For more information, contact
Ann Morris Enterprises, Inc.
551 Hosner Mountain Rd.
Stormville, NY 12582-5329
phone (845) 227-9659
toll-free (800) 454-3175
fax (845) 226-2793
e-mail, or visit the web site,


This coffeehouse sells gourmet coffee, tea and gift baskets with braille labels, if requested. The coffee catalog is available by e-mail only, and there is a print catalog featuring their Healthglow products. For the holidays, they have a Christmas blend that people order year round, and there is eggnog coffee. Other Christmas specials include 10 percent off regularly priced coffee in their e-mail catalog and a gift basket on sale. For more information about gift baskets and gourmet Belgian chocolates, call toll-free (800) 347-9687, visit the web site, or e-mail


The Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind, a free monthly publication since 1907, gathers items from leading newspapers and periodicals. Articles cover health, travel, nature, personalities, history, science, music, sports -- you name it -- to assure as broad a selection of articles as possible. Each issue contains "Readers' Forum," where readers can "sound off," and "Special Notices," in which readers and organizations can announce goods or services they will sell, buy, exchange or give away. Every issue has a short story and a poem as well as names and addresses of readers seeking pen pals.

The magazine is available in grade 2 braille, four-track cassette, or by e-mail subscription. To subscribe, contact
Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind
80 Eighth Ave.
Room 1304
New York NY 10011
phone (212) 242-0263
fax (212) 633-1601


Message Cleaner is a utility program designed to remove those pesky little carets and line breaks from forwarded e-mail messages. The program is available for a free, 30-day trial period, and operates with Windows 95, 98, and NT. Following the free trial time, Message Cleaner costs $7.50. For more information, contact Roundhill Software via the web site, or e-mail


Day by Day World Edition is an easy-to-use daily planner program for Windows. It can be used as a diary, planner, appointment organizer, bill tracker, and anything else you may want to schedule. The cost is $22.95 from
For questions, e-mail


There's a new listserv called "Meet Your Mate," a discussion group for singles who are blind or visually impaired, and who would like to meet that special someone. To join this group, please send a blank e-mail message to After you have subscribed, please send an introductory message providing your real name, age, city and state, your interests, the qualities you are looking for in a person and a way for people to contact you. You may want to check out the singles telephone conferences held every weekday evening at 10 p.m. (Eastern time), 9 p.m. (Central), 8 p.m. (Mountain) and 7 p.m. (Pacific). To take part, phone (561) 939-1800.


Here's a chance to own and read classic American literature, published before 1920. The collection contains 360 books of prose and poetry, including westerns, in plain text. There is a comprehensive html index page with links to all the texts for easy navigation. The table of contents for the American literature CD is available at For the children's collection, visit

Each CD costs $29 (less than nine cents per book). Disks cost $10 each. Send your orders with payment by check or credit card to:
b&R Samizdat Express
P.O. Box 161
West Roxbury MA 02132
phone (617) 469-2269


Social Security program services are free for services such as replacing a lost Social Security card, or applying for benefits. However, non-program services are not free. Do you want information for genealogical research, or to search for someone to let him/her know they have an inheritance, or do you want a letter forwarded to a long-lost relative? Under the Freedom of Information Act, SSA can provide these services for a charge. SSA charges are based on the grade level of the employee doing the work and the amount of time spent on the request (plus 10 cents per page for photocopying). SSA will tell you what the charge will be, after looking at your request. Charges begin at $16. If the request will cost more than $250, SSA will contact you prior to starting a search.
For more information, including price list, see the Freedom of Information page,


"The U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence" is back in stock. This 79-page braille booklet is free from National Braille Press and can be downloaded. The braille file is
To order, contact NBP's customer service department toll-free at (800) 548-7323 or e-mail


Volunteer braille transcribing is available from
Beach Cities Braille Guild
PO Box 712
Huntington Beach CA 92648,
phone (714) 969-7992.
The Guild charges schools, agencies and organizations for production costs only; individuals pay less. Contact assignment chair Linda McGovern at the number above, or e-mail her at


Sakhr Software, Inc. markets a reading machine system for Arabic-speaking blind and visually impaired computer users. The system is bilingual and enables users to perform many computer tasks. The reading machine is composed of four programs: Paper Reader, Net Reader, Screen Reader and E-mail Reader. For more information, contact
Mark Meinke, sales manager
at (703) 883-0134, or via e-mail,


The Puzzlemaster, Will Shortz, presents 200 mind-bending challenges from the NPR radio program, "Weekend Edition Sunday." The braille edition (2 volumes), is the same price as print, or $12. To order, send check to
National Braille Press
88 St. Stephen Street
Boston MA 02115-4302
call toll-free (800) 548-7323,
phone (617) 266-6160, ext. 20
or e-mail


The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has released the 26th edition of the AFB Directory of Services for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons in the United States and Canada. An essential resource, the directory has been completely updated. Available in print and electronic versions, the directory sells for $99. The electronic edition, available on the AFB web site, provides the same comprehensive information as the print edition.
For orders and inquiries, call AFB Press (800) 232-3044, or
fax (412) 741-0609.


Games have always been good teachers. They can cloak life's lessons in fun and enjoyment. If you're a computer gamer, Audyssey is the place for you. Audyssey is a free e-mail magazine of computer games accessible to people who are blind. To subscribe, the direct URL is

For children who like computer games, a company, MindsEye2, produces games for all ages, including collections of accessible crossword puzzles. To learn more about this company, go to To order by credit card, call toll-free (888) 892-7878.


The Talking Rx makes your prescription talk to you! This device, which reads the information about your prescription with the assistance of a computer chip embedded in the label, can help you avoid taking the wrong pill at the wrong time. The suggested retail price of the Talking Rx is $19.95. It is available for sale through
Vision Dynamics
470 West Main St.
Cheshire CT 06410;
phone (203) 271-1944.


"The Fast Track" is a no-nonsense, no-frills braille/tape/print manual for learning to read braille, which has been successfully used to teach braille to adults through a braille mentoring program. To obtain your copy, send $39.95 to
Lois Wencil
19 Parkview Dr.
Millburn NJ 07041.


Would you like to be able to visit an accessible web site and download each book of the Bible in mp3, and play it on your computer for free? Then visit You can also order various versions of the Bible on CD-ROM from this site, or simply listen to it online.


California Canes has a new, slim-line, seven-section folding cane made of the same durable carbon fiber as the regular folding canes. It comes with a tip that retrofits other tips. Sizes range from 46 to 60 inches at a cost of $30 each with roller tip, $22.50 each with regular tip. The company also has carry cane holders made from 100 percent leather and denim lined with leather. The price range is $15-20. During December, there is free shipping for single orders and 50 percent off shipping and handling for bulk orders. Contact
California Canes
25611 Quail Run #125
Dana Point CA 92629;
phone toll-free (866) 489-1973
fax (949) 489-0996
visit the web site, or e-mail

Adaptive Technologies for Learning & Work Environments Now Available 2nd edition



Adaptive Technologies For Learning And Work Environments, Second Edition, is a comprehensive guide describing how to select, install, and support assistive technology for persons with disabilities. The text covers adaptations for Windows, Macintosh, and Unix computer platforms, and shows how to operate PCs using keyboard commands and shortcuts. The book spotlights built-in accessibility utilities found on personal computers, and is a solid guide to facilitate accessible learning, working, and independent living. This completely revised edition breaks down the latest hardware and software for making information technology accessible for all! From desktop, notebook, and hand-held pcs, to the internet, the book details in lay terms-the latest advancements in assistive hardware and software, how to select the most appropriate solution, how to implement them, and how to provide vital training and technical support. Detailed chapters identify assistive technology for persons with visual, hearing, motor, speech, and learning disabilities. An entire chapter is devoted to public and private sector funding sources, and extensive appendices are packed with resources to help you locate agencies and organizations that support adaptive technology. New to this edition are entire chapters on keyboard commands, built-in accessibility utilities, and internet/intranet accessibility. A detailed chapter uncovers the secrets of pc hardware, software, and peripherals, showing you the basics that you'll need to know in order to work with many different forms of adaptive equipment. The text spotlights more than 275 adaptive products: screen readers, screen magnification software, braille printers and displays, scanners, voice command and dictation systems, alternative input systems, Ttys, on screen keyboards, alternative communication systems, word predictors, and other solutions. This indispensable reference will give librarians, educators, administrators, human resource staff, and people with disabilities inside information and expert guidance on the many forms of assistive technology. Below is the table of contents as it appears in the book.

1 Personal Computer Hardware Basics
Who Should Read This Chapter
The Central Processing Unit
Input Devices
Output Devices
Storage Devices
Expansion Slots and Circuit Cards
Input/Output Ports
Modems: Analog, Cable, and DSL
Portable PCs
Notebook Computers
Palmtop Computers
Global Positioning Systems
Selecting a Personal Computer

2 Driving the Computer from the Keyboard
The Graphical User Interface
Starting Windows and Basic Navigation
Logging In
Navigating with the TAB Key
Selecting Objects with the ENTER Key
The Start Button Hot Key
Switching from One Application to Another
Menu Navigation
Shutting Down Applications
Native Accessibility Utilities
Utility Manager
Control Panel Accessibility Utilities
Active Accessibility
Accessibility Utilities across Platforms

3 Technology for Persons with Vision Impairments
Speech-Synthesis Engines
Sound Cards
Screen Readers
Screen-Reader Commands
Magnification Systems
Low-Vision Aids
Large Monitors
Closed-Circuit Television Systems
Handheld CCTV Systems
Head-Mounted CCTV Systems
Magnification Software
Braille Systems
Braille Basics
Braille Translation Software
Braille Printers
Braille Displays
Braille Note Takers
Optical Character Recognition Systems
Scanning Text into Your Computer

4 Technology for Persons Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Text Telephones
Cordless and Cellular Phones
Text-Telephone Etiquette
Text Telephones and the Americans with Disabilities Act
Braille Text Telephones
Telecommunications Relay Services
Alphanumeric Pagers
Instant Messaging
Computer-Assisted Access
Baudot/ASCII Modems
Text-Telephone Software
Visual Indicator Software
Computer-Aided Transcription
CART Reporting
Computerized Sign Language Training
Signaling Systems
Captioning Systems
Making Captioned Videotapes
Electronic Amplification Systems
Hearing Aids
Assistive Listening Devices
Telephone Amplification Systems

5 Technology for Persons with Motor Disabilities
Adapted Keyboards
Keyboard Keyguards
Keyboard Modification Software
Key Modifier Software
Built-In Access Features
On-Screen Keyboard
Alternative Input Systems
Adapted Switches and Scanning Keyboards
Morse Code Systems
Word-Prediction Software
Speech-Recognition Systems
Speech-Recognition Hardware
Speech on the Road
Environmental Control Systems

6 Technologies for Persons with Speech Disabilities
The Evaluation Process
What Is an Alternative Communications Device?
Word Prediction and Abbreviation Expansion
Controlling a Communications Device
Keyboards and Touch Screens
Scanning Keyboards
Controlling a Personal Computer
Computers and Alternative Communication

7 Technologies for Persons with Learning Disabilities
What Is a Learning Disability?
The Evaluation Process
The Individualized Education Program
Deploying Technology
Personal Computers
Note Takers and Organizers

8 Foundations for Assistive Technology
The Assistive Technology Specialist
The Evaluation Process
Sample Adaptation
Low-Tech Solutions
Classroom Training
One-on-One Training
Following Up
Tutorials and Training Materials
Technical Support
Warranty Cards
Consumer Groups and Special Interest Groups
Online Help

9 Accessing the Internet and Intranets
Why Make the Internet and Intranets Accessible?
The Internet
Hardware Requirements
Adaptive Technology and Networks
The World Wide Web
Web Sites
Web Browsers
Internet Explorer
Home Page Reader
How Browsers Work
Search Engines
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
Web Site Validation
Sharing Resources
Electronic Mail
Online Chat
Instant Messaging
Mailing Lists

10 Funding Adaptive Technology
Cost-Saving Ideas
Shareware, Freeware, and Demoware
Other Ways to Cut Costs
Personal Sources of Funds
Family and Friends
Lending Institutions and Credit Unions
Credit Cards
Government-Sponsored Sources of Funds
The Federal Vocational Rehabilitation Program
Special Education
The Social Security Administration-s PASS Program
The Assistive Technology Act of 1998
Veterans Benefits
Private-Sector Sources of Funds
The Easter Seals Society
The International Association of Lions Clubs
Independent Living Centers

Microsoft Windows 98 Keyboard Guide
Apple Macintosh Keyboard Shortcuts
Products for Persons with Vision Impairments
Products for Persons Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Products for Persons with Motor Disabilities
Products for Persons with Speech Disabilities
Products for Persons with Learning Disabilities

National Resources for Persons with Disabilities
National Toll-Free Phone Numbers for Persons with Disabilities

Key Provisions on Assistive Technology IDEA 1997
A Guide to Disability Rights Laws
RESNA Technology Assistance Project State Contact List

An accessible html version of the text on cd-rom is available separately to support users with disabilities. The text is readable with any standard browser that supports HTML files.

About the Author

Joseph J. Lazzaro is project director of the Adaptive Technology Program at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind in Boston, which provides rehabilitation engineering services and consulting on assistive technology. The program provides assistive technology free of charge to consumers, and provides evaluations, system installation, training, and technical support for blind or visually impaired consumers. He is also author of Adapting PCs for Disabilities, published by Addison Wesley, and has written for Byte, the New York Times, IEEE Spectrum, Windows, MIT Technology Review, Computer Shopper, LAN Technology, and other publications. He is an online instructor with EASI (Equal Access to Software and Information) a group dedicated to providing online training and resources on assistive technology. He is also a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy writers of America, and has published fact and fiction in Analog, Artemis, and Absolute Magnitude magazines. He maintains a web site at

You can order print or CD-ROM copies of the book at the American Library Association web site at or by calling 800-545-2433. Press #7 for the Order Department. The book is also available from Amazon.Com.
Joseph J. Lazzaro

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.

Jan's Tasty Tidbits


  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • three-fourths cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 26-ounce jars pasta sauce, any kind
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
  • Chopped parsley
  • Cook rigatoni according to package directions; drain.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In large saucepan over medium heat, brown sausage; pour off fat.
  • Add onion and garlic; cook and stir until tender.
  • Stir in pasta sauce and seasoning.
  • Bring to boil; simmer, covered, 20 minutes.
  • In large bowl, combine rigatoni, sauce and half of the cheese.
  • Spoon into greased 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish; cover.
  • Bake 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  • Uncover; top with remaining cheese and parsley.
  • Bake 8 minutes more or until cheese melts.


  • one and a half pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 2 cans tomato soup
  • 1 soup can water
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, undrained
  • 3 cups cooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • In skillet, brown beef, onion and garlic until tender.
  • Stir to separate meat.
  • Add remaining ingredients.
  • Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Makes 8 servings.


  • One-half cup butter or margarine, softened
  • One-fourth cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • One-fourth cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • one-half teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • one-half teaspoon baking soda
  • one-half teaspoon salt, optional
  • one-half cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cream margarine and sugars until smooth.
  • Add egg and vanilla; beat well.
  • Blend in dry ingredients; stir in walnuts.
  • Spread batter in greased 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan.
  • Sprinkle chocolate morsels atop.
  • Place pan in oven for 1 minute.
  • Remove pan from oven; swirl batter gently with knife to marbleize.
  • Bake 12-14 minutes.
  • When cool, cut into squares.


  • 1 cup flour
  • one-half teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • three-fourths cup granulated sugar
  • one-half cup packed brown sugar
  • three-fourths cup more granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons more cocoa
  • one-half cup chopped walnuts
  • one-fourth cup white chocolate chips
  • one-fourth cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • one-half cup melted butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • one-half teaspoon vanilla
  • Mix flour and salt; spoon mixture through funnel into 1-quart (4-cup) glass jar with lid.
  • Add the following, tapping jar to settle ingredients:
  • cocoa,
  • sugar
  • brown sugar
  • more sugar
  • more cocoa
  • nuts and chips
  • Close lid.
  • Tie baking-instructions tag to jar.
  • To bake, heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Whisk mix in bowl; stir in butter, eggs and vanilla.
  • Spread in greased 9-inch square pan.
  • Bake 35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center has a few crumbs.
  • Cool.
  • Cut into 12 squares.