Monday, January 28, 2008

Press Releases: The ATIA PR Begins with KNFB, Handytech and Flying Blind

Here comes the first of several big time announcements to hit Florida like a mid summer storn. I am cutting and pasting on the fly. So I may clean up the formatting on this post later on in the day.


K-NFB Reading Technology January 28, 2008
-- Cell Phone Can Read Documents for Blind

Dear Customer:
Handy Tech North America is pleased to be an authorized dealer of K-NFB Reading Technology products. We are now taking orders for the newly released K-NFB Reader, version 2 software which runs on the Nokia N82 Symbian phone. The cost of the K-NFB Reader bundle from Handy Tech North America is $2,495. This package includes the Nokia N82 phone, K-NFB Reader software and your choice of either Talks or Mobile Speak screen reader. Note that the K-NFB Reader is a self voicing application which does not require the use of a third party screen reader; however, a screen reader is necessary to access the other features of the phone such as contacts, messaging, calendar appointments, caller ID and call logs. We are pleased to offer the newly released KNFB Reading system to our customers.Here is a link to a demo of the reader


The following is the press release of the K-NFB Reader announced earlier this morning:
Cell Phone Can Read Documents for Blind

By ALEX DOMINGUEZ BALTIMORE (AP) - Chris Danielsen fidgets with the cell phone, holding it over a $20 bill. "Detecting orientation, processing U.S. currency image," the phone says in a flat monotone before Danielsen snaps a photo. A few seconds later, the phone says, "Twenty dollars." Danielsen, a spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind, is holding the next generation of computerized aids for the blind and visually impaired.

The Nokia cell phone is loaded with software that turns text on photographed documents into speech. In addition to telling whether a bill is worth $1, $5, $10 or $20, it also allows users to read anything that is photographed, whether it's a restaurant menu, a phone book or a fax.While the technology is not new, the NFB and the software's developer say the cell phone is the first to incorporate the text-to-speech ability."We've had reading devices before," Danielsen said, noting similar software is already available in a larger handheld reader housed in a personal digital assistant. Companies such as Code Factory SL, Dolphin Computer Access Ltd. and Nuance Communications Inc. also provide software that allows the blind to use cell phones and PDAs.Inexpensive hand-held scanners such as WizCom Technologies Ltd.'s SuperPen can scan limited amounts of text, read it aloud and even translate from other languages.However, the $2,100 NFB device combines all of those functions in one smart phone, said James Gashel, vice president of business development for K-NFB Reading Technology Inc., which is marketing the phone as a joint venture between the federation and software developer Ray Kurzweil."It is the next step, but this is a huge leap," Gashel, who is blind, said in a telephone interview. "I'm talking to you on the device I also use to read things. I can put it in my pocket and at the touch of a button, in 20 seconds, be reading something I need to read in print."Ray Kurzweil, who developed the first device that could convert text into audio in the 1970s and the current NFB device, said portability is only the first step. Future versions of the device will recognize faces, identify rooms and translate text from other languages for the blind and the sighted.The inventor plans to begin marketing the cell phone in February through K-NFB Reading Technology. The software will cost $1,595 and the cell phone is expected to cost about $500, Kurzweil said.Dave Doermann, president of College Park-based Applied Media Analysis said his company is working on similar software for smart phones that could be used by the military for translation and by the visually impaired."We don't anticipate ours being that expensive, but unfortunately we're not quite to the release yet," said Doermann, who is also co-director of the University of Maryland's Laboratory for Language and Media Processing.Doermann said the company, which has received funding from the Department of Defense and the National Eye Institute, hopes to have its software ready in the next 12 to 18 months.Kurzweil's device uses speech software provided by Nuance, said Chris Strammiello, the director of product management at Nuance, who said the company has also developed a director of product management at Nuance, who said the company has also developed a prototype reader that uses the Internet to access more powerful server-side computers."As you can harness the power of remote environments and do that so quickly with the Web technologies, it gives a lot more capability, flexibility and options to the way you solve these type of problems," Strammiello said.There are about 10 million blind and visually impaired people in the U.S., a number that is expected to double in the next 30 years as baby boomers age.Kurzweil said those with vision problems are not the only ones expected to benefit from the technology. Dyslexics, for example, are expected to be among the users of the current device because of its ability to highlight each word as it's read aloud, helping them cope with their disability, which affects the ability to read.

The highlighting function can also help them improve their reading skills, he said."What's new here is both blind people and kids can do this with a device that fits in their shirt pocket," Kurzweil said.Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said the device and its PDA predecessor are a "form of hand-held vision" that will make the visual environment "much more readily available to the blind."
Contact Information
phone: (651) 636-5184


Flying Blind, LLC E-News - Volume 7To make certain you receive each Volume of the Flying Blind, LLC E-News,please add to your address book. If you experience any problems viewing this E-Newsletter, such asmissing images, please view Volume 7 of the Flying Blind, LLC E-Newson the web at: Current Information on the Adaptive Technology Industryis always available on the Flying Blind, LLC Website at:

Come Join Baum at ATIA 2008!

RELEASED: January 28, 2008

It is my privilege to announce that I will be assisting Baum Retec with a number of efforts at this year’s ATIA Conference, to be held Wednesday, January 30th through Saturday, February 2nd, 2008. BAUM Retec is a German company and industry leader specializing in the development, manufacturing, and sales of products and services for persons who are blind and visually impaired. Since 1980, this company has set standards in product innovation and will be showcasing its entire range of Braille Displays, Braille Organizers / Notetakers, Desktop Video Magnifiers (CCTV’s), and Screen Reader / Magnification Solutions. Visit us in Booth NR. 121 where Baum will be collecting your names and e-mail addresses and conducting a drawing for its 12 Cell VarioConnect (BrailleConnect), the industry’s smallest Wireless Braille Display that interfaces with a number of accessible, mobile solutions. I will be assisting Baum in its booth throughout the conference, and would be most pleased to spend some time with you demonstrating Baum’s line of Wireless Braille Products. I’ll also be formally presenting Baum’s Wireless Braille product line in my presentation: TITLED: "A Step Beyond Notetakers: Wireless Braille Solutions in Action!"WHEN: Thursday, January 31st from 2:30 PM - 3:30 PMWHERE: Room: Curacao 4 KEY POINTS:
See a wireless Braille display controlling a Mobile PDA/phone as well as a laptop PC.

Discuss alternative strategies for independent task completion beyond the scope of a traditional notetaker.

Gain an understanding of how refreshable Braille increases a user’s efficiency when completing a specific task.
I’m looking forward to conducting this presentation, for it is Baum’s Wireless Braille Solutions that make it possible for me to successfully conduct business within my own company as well as outside the Adaptive Technology Industry. The staff from Baum, and Yours Truly are really looking forward to seeing you in Orlando, and wish you a great start to your week and safe travels to ATIA! Respectfully, — Larry L. Lewis, Jr. President and Founder Flying Blind, LLC
Flying Blind, LLC 955 Pembrook Road Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44121


Hi everyone,

I wanted to draw your attention to a new look and a whole lot of new content on my web site including sea trial reports on the world’s first fishing boat for the “blind”

Pasted below is a short article explaining why I do what I do, and please stay tuned for some really exciting news coming down the pipe!

Feel free to add a link to my web site or to use the below article as you see fit.

If you feel you have received this email by mistake, please reply with a request that your email address be removed from the list.

Following your Dreams and the Importance of Community

Leaving my home town and moving to the city to attend university signalled the beginning of a profound change in my life that was further magnified by my increasing loss of vision. Starting a family and building a career further distanced me from my hobbies that once dominated my existence -- being out-of-doors. More importantly however, successfully negotiating this transition in my life was possible because of the support I received from numerous individuals.

Having since accomplished many of my goals I’m once again able to focus on my hobbies. Even though I no longer have any residual vision, the unique experience I have gained over the years is allowing me to excel in ways that, I’m told, deserve to be shared.

The “Blind Fishing Boat” is my endeavour to transfer my knowledge and experience of fishing and boating as a person without sight to others. Being without sight can be tough, no doubt, but sharing what I’ve learned can save a lot of people from having to “reinvent the wheel”. I’m also not beyond learning myself, and having the opportunity to fish with others makes it possible to assess new fishing techniques from my own unique perspective as a fisher without sight.

There is a lot of fishing equipment being sold for just about every possible species of fish and method of catching them. Much of it is designed to catch the fisher first. Sorting out what works and how to best use it to ones advantage is just part of what I’m posting reports about on my website. Narrative descriptions on performing tasks without sight such as tying knots, netting and releasing fish, and even cleaning and cooking ones catch, are all areas I intend to thoroughly research. Educating others such as guides and fishing lodge owners on appropriate ways to interact with those without sight is also a service I’ll provide having written my undergraduate thesis on, “Etiquette When Interacting with the Blind”. Finally, responding to requests for information from fishers and boaters who are themselves losing their sight is probably one of the more challenging and potentially rewarding aspects of hosting this on-line service.

While my field trialing of various fishing and related technologies is important, I’m also going beyond what’s already available. It’s my dream to conceive new innovative technologies that will make fishing and boating more fun and safe for everyone. I had a fair bit of experience in this field already by leading on projects such as Web-4-All (see article: “Canada Stands Tall with Web-4-All”).

As much as I love fishing, I’m driven by my need to discover technologies and their application in creating the world’s first fishing boat that can be independently operated by a person without sight. After spending almost two years researching and trialing different devices, I can relate to the Wright brothers when their first attempts to fly ended less than satisfactorily. Like every seemingly obvious answer, the devil always seems to be in the details. Thank goodness for supportive friends and sponsors who share my dream.

Some might wonder if what I’m doing is safe, or even legal? I have my Pleasure boat operator’s certificate and marine radio license. I’m also not zooming around on lakes by myself. While I admit that I do go fishing alone on small isolated bodies of water in my 12-foot plastic folding Porta-Bote with the Minn Kota electric motor, even then there is always someone sighted who I can communicate with via radio, or visa versa, should the need arise. In the case of the larger 20-foot power catamaran research vessel, a sighted spotter will always be on board.

I’m fortunate in that I have an ever-increasing community of friends supporting me in realizing my dream. I know it’s not because they think there are millions of people without sight itching to fish from their own boats, and it’s not just because aging baby-boomers live in fear of losing their sight. People view this as good for everyone as we can all benefit from learning to better utilize our non-visual senses. After-all, if you think about it, fishing is really about pursuing the unseen. In the end though, it really comes down to just having the opportunity to get out on the water and go fishing.

Lawrence Euteneier

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