Saturday, June 30, 2007

PAC Mate Omni and JAWS 9

PAC Mate: Jeff Bishop must be reading his RSS feeds faster than I am this convention weekend. He got this press release up way faster than me. I tell you I really start slacking when I am not at convention. Here's the link to the Freedom Scientific PR on the upcoming fall upgrade for PAC Mate owners. Pricing inside..

JAWS 9: I guess because I beta test so many products these days I end up reading a lot of release notes very very carefully. But it still surprised me when so many others I know didn't see this at the top of the Enhancements portion of the 8.0.2173 release docs.

Freedom Scientific is proud to announce that JAWS 8.0 has officially
completed its public beta test cycle with Windows Vista. The feedback the public
provided was extremely helpful, and, as a result of the reports provided, we
addressed many issues ensuring that JAWS 8 is working smoothly and seamlessly
with Vista. While not every comment and suggestion could be addressed at this
time, we have incorporated many changes already for JAWS 9, coming out in
September 2007

To read more about the new 6/21 release of JAWS 8 go here..

The IPhone Is A Great Talking Point

We all know that I am soo not the Apple fan. And the iPhone is the ultimate symbol of that company's "ilusion of choice" mentality. But the shiny new bobble from the company who gives you semi Universal Access in anything that isn't Mac OSX is a perfect and easy tool for showing others how we as Blind consumers are locked out of the mainstream marketplace.

When that friend, relative, old college buddy or trendy as all get out co-worker plunks this over priced flavor of the week down for all to see .. you wait until the "ooos" and "aaahhaa" are over. Then you calmly ask this person to close their eyes and then use this wonderful new amazing piece of... er um.. technology.

Here's a hint. There is no keypad to speak of and there is no voice dialing either.

Okay this exercise doesn't really do much other than embarrass and guilt trip those around you, however, in some cases it might just end up proving a point to those around you who just don't get why we get so mad about general access and the lack of universal design. I hate when I have to "raise the white cane in anger' and 'fly that flag" but honestly.. a $600 freaking phone? Whatever.

Anyway the usual remark I make to the tech community when I am asked about this darn phone is "And what generation is your current iPod?". Usually reminding people how fast and often Apple redesigns the same products ends up making a bigger and better end to the debate at hand.

By the way. To see how others are finding out the hip over the hype read the link below. I honestly did NOT go looking for this link. It was on the Digg top 10.. no realy .. it was.. stop looking at me like that...shheesshh.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Sweet Release Of Press: Handytech, Humanware and Zoom Text

If you have a Press Release and you think that I might want to post it here send it to

Here's what I cleared out from my Inbox pre convention..

Handy Tech North America Announces
Handy Tech North America Now Offering Way Finder Access GPS Navigation

New Brighton, MN - Jun 15, 2007 Handy Tech North America, formerly Triumph Technology, is proud to be the first U.S. company to offer the Way Finder Access GPS Navigation software along with Mobile Speak for Symbian phones. You may listen to an audio demo at: <> .

Code Factory of Barcelona Spain has partnered with Sweden based Way Finder to offer what is arguably the world's most powerful GPS navigation solution for people with visual impairment. The intuitive user interface makes it easy to explore unfamiliar areas as well as identify, select and navigate to points of interest with a combination of pre-recorded prompts and the high quality Mobile Speak screen reader. Easily save your favorite destinations select passenger car, taxi or pedestrian routes and always find out where you are with the use of the "Where am I" feature. Also gather information such as street crossings, points of interest and favorites within a vicinity as well as speed, altitude and coordinates.

Handy Tech North America is now offering complete GPS bundles that include the phone, Mobile Speak, GPS receiver and Way Finder Access already installed and configured. Of course, current Mobile Speak for Symbian customers can download and update their Mobile Speak software at no charge and purchase the Way Finder Access and GPS receiver separately.

The cost of the Way Finder Access telephone bundle is $1,349.00; however, in celebration of this dramatic breakthrough in accessible GPS navigation, Handy Tech North America is offering $100.00 off of the full package making it by far the most cost effective blindness GPS solution, mobile phone and organizer on the market at only $1,249.00. This offer expires July 15th, 2007.

Also until July 15th 2007, people who already have a Symbian phone, Mobile Speak and GPS receiver can purchase Way Finder Access for only $499.00.

Finely, if you have a phone with Mobile Speak but no GPS receiver, Handy Tech North America can provide the Way Finder Access software and GPS receiver for only $599.00. This offer also expires July 15th, 2007.

Please note that Way Finder Access is not yet available within the CDMA network or on the Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Smart Phone platforms. Also note that the above special pricing is limited to Symbian 8 second edition phones. People using Symbian 9 3rd edition phones will be able to take advantage of similar specials in the near future.

Handy Tech North America will be present at both this year's National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and American Council of the Blind (ACB) national summer conventions. Attendees are encouraged to stop by the Handy Tech booth for information on this year's give-aways and to receive demonstrations on all of the adaptive technology Handy Tech North America has to offer.

For more information on Way Finder Access, Mobile Speak and other blindness and low vision related products, please call: 651-636-5184.
Email:, or visit the Handy Tech North America web site at:

Handy Tech North America
Earle Harrison
Sales contact
phone: 651-636-5184
Handy Tech North America
Kelly Dunn
Media and training contact
phone: 651-636-5184

HumanWare invites you to join its on-line audio chat room for a web based presentation of Mobile Speak Pocket, the world's first screenreader for devices running the Windows Mobile operating system. On Saturday, June 23 at 11:00 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, Larry Lewis, President of Flying Blind, LLC will be taking you on a tour of his Windows Mobile PDA and demonstrating how he utilizes this ground-breaking access to perform a number of day to day tasks. Lewis will be incorporating his BrailleConnect braille display into the presentation, thus giving him braille input/output capabilities to an otherwise inaccessible device. Lewis will be premiering a great deal of new braille functionality in the recently released version of Mobile Speak Pocket which offers support for devices running the newly available Windows Mobile 6 operating system. This free update for current Mobile Speak Pocket users also provides the user with support for Power Point Mobile, as well as four new games designed to promote the usage of braille as a tool for developing functional and academic literacy skills. This presentation is completely accessible to both sighted and vision impaired consumers and service providers who use a screen reader, braille display, or magnification program.

The BrailleConnect series of braille displays are the most portable, versatile and innovative access tools which, when used in conjunction with Mobile Speak Pocket, allow for tactual access to hundreds of off-the-shelf PDAs and mobile phones. To join Larry for this on-line demonstration, visit the link below. First time users will be asked to click on the download button to install the necessary chat client plug-in. Create a username to enter the chat room. A password is not required. Lewis will be fielding questions about the usage of Mobile Speak Pocket in conjunction with BrailleConnect displays at the conclusion of the demonstration.

Visit for more information about these and other HumanWare access solutions.

Ai Squared Expands Its Product Line

Ai Squared is proud to add 2 new devices to our product line – the Nemo and the Max. These new affordable devices are designed to increase your ease of reading printed materials. Just as ZoomText lets you see and hear your computer with perfect clarity, these portable devices allow you to extend magnification beyond your computer screen, whether you’re at home, the supermarket, on vacation, or out to dinner – wherever life takes you!

Nemo Magnifier Max Magnifier

Our partnership with Enhanced Vision has made it possible to get these life-changing devices into your hands. Call us toll-free at 800-859-0270 (Offer valid in the USA and Canada Only) to place your order and begin enjoying the benefits these devices will bring. Let today be the day you start magnifying the rest of your life! The Nemo is an ultra portable pocket sized magnifier that is so lightweight and compact, it can travel with you anywhere. Tasks such as looking up phone numbers, ordering from a menu, and reading your credit card number are easier than ever.

There are 3 different magnification levels to choose from with the press of a button: 4.5X, 6X, and 9X. In addition, there are 6 high contrast viewing modes so you can adjust the colors on screen to reduce eyestrain. One of the best features is the “Freeze Frame” which allows you to take a temporary magnified snapshot which you can carry to another location. Its built-in 3 hour rechargeable battery allows for total wireless portability. The Nemo is ideal for low vision people who want to be mobile and remain active, and is affordably priced at $795.

“I just can’t put into words how exciting it is that I can now sit on my couch and read a book to my 3-year old daughter Arden, not to mention that I can read a menu even if my table is in the darkest corner of a restaurant,” says Maurie Hill, ZoomText user and Ai Squared Product Support Specialist. “I don’t know how I ever managed without the Nemo – it has just opened up my world in so many ways.”

The Max is our other new product and it is a powerful, portable, handheld reading aid resembling the size of a computer mouse. It connects directly to any TV in seconds and enlarges print on any surface – curved or straight. The magnification level will depend on the size of your television screen. For example, on a 13 inch screen, you can adjust the magnification from 13x to 20x and on a 20 inch screen, adjust from 16x to 28x.

There are 2 versions of Max available: Max Color Display ($449) and Max Black & White Display ($349). Max is great for reading recipes in the kitchen, all your mail, newspapers, magazines, and medicine labels. It’s perfect for use in the home as well as on vacation – just hook Max up to the TV in your hotel room and you are good to go!

“My mother has not been able to read anything for a long time,” says Sarah Crutchfield of Georgia. “But she now can read everything from her bank statements, telephone numbers, and she was even able to see a picture of her great grandson!"

To order your Nemo or Max today call us toll free at 1-800-859-0270. For more information on both of these products, please visit

Independence In The Palm Of Your Hand


The Ai Squared Team

Ai Squared – Making Accessibility Simple ®
(800) 859-0270 <>

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Buy That Zen Stone Yet? Well Now There Is A Zen Stone Plus!

I want to thank those of you who posted a comment in the first Zen Stone article I wrote a month ago. Since that post 6 of my friends and co-workers have purchased the little $40 player. And I amazingly enough have not given into peer pressure and bought one for my very own. And maybe I knew deep down inside that Creative would be Creative and release an update just like they did with the Zen Vision. Well they did. The Zen Stone Plus comes with a voice recorder, a FM reciever and a screen. . for $99. Okay 40 always sounds better than 100 to me. Perhaps peer pressure will win out after all. To read the Ars Technica article on the upcoming player hit the link below:

New JAWS 8.0.2173 Update.. Includes More Vista With Less Calories!

Fresh from the minds at Freedom Scientific..

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Office 2003 To Be No Longer Sold By OEM In July 07

Well if you don't have it by now .. I guess you better find it soon. Office 2007 support is still in its early stages for many AT products out there. And if a recent paper from Microsoft on "How To" make Office 07 more accessible is any indication that things in accessland are still a "moving target" then staying with 03 may just be what the doctor ordered until everyone catches up with their full blown Office 07 support. Read the article from Ars Technica on this matter here:

Friday, June 15, 2007

Quick News: Flying Blind, Humanware And Onyx

Flying Blind: I thought one of the best interviewees that Main Menu had last year was Larry Lewis. And I got a chance to tell Larry that last year at the NFB convention in Dallas. Well he has a new site up and you may want to take a look.

Humanware: This one comes from the "Wow I am so not paying attention" files. I actually noticed that Humanware changed up their site before they emailed me to let me know they changed up their site. Then I forgot to blog all about it .. twice. Well better late than never. See the new site at:

Onyx: Freedom Scientific is on a roll with two new video magnifiers pre convention. Check out the press release for the Onyx here:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Dolphin Computer Access Newsletter for June 07

Here's the latest from Dolphin. Oh and if you get a chance hit their site and read their Vista FAQ. Some real good info there. For now here is their latest newsletter.

It's been a while since we've been in touch; it goes without saying that the Dolphin team have not been idle during this time and so we have lots of news to update you with which will explain why we've been so busy!
EasyConverter released.

Creating accessible text just got easier with our latest addition to the altformat family - EasyConverter. With a wide range of input and output file formats; EasyConverter enables you to offer your readers the choice of format that suits them best. Need to turn printed papers into Braille, PDFs in to MP3 audio? - no problem. With the new disability equality laws in place this tool is invaluable for Employers, Schools and public sector organisations alike.
Read the full story <>
Visit the EasyConverter product page <>
Registered for your free Vista Upgrade?

Users of Dolphin Hal, Lunar, LunarPlus or SuperNova version 7 will qualify for a free of charge upgrade to the new release of version 8 which will include support for Windows Vista. Please note: You need to register for this so don't delay, get your name on the list!
Read the full story and terms of this offer <>
Listen again to Smart Hal on ACB Radio.

Dolphin's Mobile Product Manager, Dave Williams, made a live appearance on ACB Radio's Main Menu, talking about Smartphones, Windows Mobile 6 and of course Smart Hal. Here's your chance to listen again.
Read the full story <>
RNIB's Access-IT review Smart Hal - Part Two.

RNIB's Access-IT magazine released their own independent review of Dolphin's new screen reader for Smartphones, Smart Hal. In this two part series, trainer and sessional tutor for Modern Eyes, Sue Allard, takes her first steps with a Smartphone and quickly gets to grips with the basics.
Read the full story <>
If you missed the first part, here is Part One <>
Dolphin Tip of the Week.

If you have visited our website in recent weeks you will notice that the homepage now contains a link to a tip of the week. Updated every Monday, this tip is designed to teach users of our software tools some new tricks to help get the most out of your software.
Tips in recent weeks include:
* Using Forms on the Internet <> (applies to: Dolphin Access Software version 7).
* Using Lists to get information from Excel Spreadsheets <> (applies to: Dolphin Access Software version 6.5 and later).
* Making use of Application Notes <> (applies to: Dolphin Access Software Version 5 and later).
* Using Microsoft Word with EasyConverter <> (applies to: Dolphin EasyConverter version 1.0).
* Making use of Magnification modes <> (version 5 and later).
* Useful Resources and Keyboard Shortcuts <> (all versions).
* Using Lists to get information from Word documents <> (version 6.5 and above).
Have you updated your Maps recently?
New map files for SuperNova, Hal, Lunar and LunarPlus customers are now available, and they're free!
Read the full story <>
Sightsavers take the Dolphin Pen to Africa.

Visually impaired Africans are set to have their lives transformed by the arrival on the continent of the latest generation of accessibility software for computers.
Read the full story <>
Get more from your Smartphone - Try a Free Smart Hal Tutorial.

A Windows Mobile Smartphone loaded with Smart Hal is a palm-sized powerhouse that can educate, inform, and entertain you at the touch of a button. Over the next few weeks we aim to show you what you can do with Smart Hal, aside from making and receiving telephone calls that is. In the first tutorial, we check out "Orb" which enables Smart Hal (or Pocket Hal) users to remotely access and play their music collection at home directly from their Smartphone or Pocket PC.
Read the full story <>
Lunar wins RNIB Battle of the Magnifiers - Hands down.
At this year's CSUN conference in California, two accessibility experts from the RNIB in the UK took on the daunting challenge of comparing seven screen magnification software products, live and in front of a large and experienced CSUN audience. The seven included the three market leaders including Dolphin's Lunar version 7.
Read the full story <>
EasyProducer reviewed on Emptech.

This month Emptech has released a glowing review of Dolphin's DAISY and MP3 creation tool, EasyProducer. The review is in the shape of an audio Podcast which you can listen to online.
Read the full story <>
Visit the EasyProducer product page <>
Dolphin U.S. on the Move.

Goodbye San Mateo, we've moved to New Jersey! Please update your records.
Read the full story <>
Dolphin Events.

Dolphin is involved in the following events throughout June. If you are in the area why not come and see us - it might be the perfect opportunity for you to get your hands on Smart Hal or watch a demo of EasyConverter in action.
* 12th June: Equipment Demonstration Event <> (Birmingham, UK).
* 21st June: Eastbourne Blind Society <> (Eastbourne, UK).
* 22nd June: Low Vision Equipment & Information Exhibition <> (Yeovil, UK).
* 25th June: Open Day <> (Manchester, UK).
* 27th June: Local-Eyes Open Day and Exhibition <> (Kent, UK).
* 30th June: American Council for the Blind <> (Minneapolis, USA).
* 1st July: National Federation of the Blind <> (NFB) (Atlanta, USA).
* 12th July: Technology Day <> (London, UK).

Visit our website for more details of these events <> and future listings.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Apple Safari For Windows Hacked To Bits In It's First Day

Most high level Security experts will tell you that it's not the operating system but the applications you are running on the platform that are the new Hacker's Paradise. Adobe, Microsoft Word or Quick Time are on more than just those silly old Windows machines. And patches for these programs almost never consider the exploits or hacks used to gain control of a system. Well it looks like you can now throw Safari in with the rest of those third party programs as in just one day several out there have already found cracks in the walls. Check out this Slashdot article for more details.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Apple's Safari For Windows XP And Vista

One of the notes from today's WWDC hit me in the AT bread basket. The web browser that is mainly on Mac OSX will now be coming to Windows machines and eventually support will have to come to it via your Vender of choice. However it took a while before Firefox saw the love. And some say, depending on what product you use, that support is still coming along .. kinda.

Anyway read about that and more from the live blog at Ars Technica.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Updates For Zoom Text, JAWS And A New Topaz CCTV Model

Zoom Text: The 9.11 discs should be shipping soon. The 9.11 build expands the languages supported by the new Zoom Text 9.1x program. When ZT was originally released in May it was only supporting US English. Now it supports a whole lot more.

JAWS: Some other blogs are reporting that there is a new JAWS update coming very very soon. Traditionally this happens right before the summer conventions. But if you look at the signs this expected update should be out soon continuing the trend of pre convention version updates. Keep watching the skies and Freedom Scientific's main page [or new RSS feeds] for more.

Topaz: Speaking of FS's main page.. A link to a new press release on the Topaz Space Saver was posted on June 6th. Here's the link if you want to know more about the new Topaz model.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Quick News: Windows Live Mail, Google Streets And 128 vs. 256 DRM Free

Windows Live Mail: Don't want to install the new beta? Here's a link from the Super Site For Windows with all you need to know about the new Windows Live Mail client.

Google: Ever stop to think about what your home may look like from the outside? I can't tell you the number of times I have heard stories about us blind folk taking it all off with the blinds, curtains or whatever wide open to the world. Now it looks like others have the same embarrassment with phots on Google's new 3D maps to boot. Here's a link to a contest to find the most .. revealing pictures on Google's new API.

iTunes: I thought this one was interesting. It's a test to see how 10 people can or can not tell between the quality of 128k versus 256k DRM free files. Plus it compares the average person's abilities to detect the qualities of both while wearing the stock ear buds along with some more expensive models.