Total Resource Guide:
Many types of computer adaptations have been designed
to aid persons with blindness or visual impairment, ranging in application
Devices range from screen magnifiers from 1.2
to 16X, and color contrasting software programs (also available
as features on all operating systems today) to screen-reading software
that audibly reads computer screen contents aloud with synthetic
voice. Screen readers are also known as text-to-speech programs.
Synthetic voices range in quality from one product to another and
some programs offer a range of male or female voices or even offer
the option of utilizing the user's own voice. Talking clocks and
other small devices usually come with a preset voice.
Text scanning is accomplished through optical
character readers (OCRs) or large, flatbed scanners for big documents,
such as blueprints or architectural drawings. All types of text
can be read aloud via synthetic voicefrom hypertext markup
language (html) on the Internet, to plain or rich text used in countless
programs. One may also utilize a closed circuit television (CCTV)
or a stand-alone magnifier to see labels, hand-written notes, or
virtually anything magnified into very large form. Some scanners
even read bar codes off of groceries and other products.
Braille keyboards, refreshable Braille, and Braille
embossers or printers are useful to persons who read Braille. Other
tactile devices, such as keys that make clicking sounds, or disabling
unused keys with shields offer options. Tactile or Braille labelers
keeps everything identified. Screen navigation controls can make
To locate dealers, see Infinitec's resources below
and throughout the Total Resource Guide, but also ask your peers
what they use. Finding appropriate devices entirely depends on two
things: ability and preference. It's best to find a dealer who offers
a full range of adaptive tools. The companies listed below represent
some of the more popular tools but there are virtually hundreds
of assistive technology companies. Take your time experimenting
with various kinds of adapted computer devices until you find the
tools that are truly useful and that you feel comfortable using.
Give yourself time to learn each device and ask a lot of questionsprepare
a list of concerns ahead of time.
The Simpletalk 200 PC is a fully self-contained computer that talks.
Included with a Simpletalk 200 is a fast Pentium computer, WinVision
97 and DECtalk Access 32 software synthesizer ($1,499). See all
the Simpletalk computer features, along with Braille output devices,
talking alarm clocks, and a full line of notetakers
Freedom Scientific Inc.
Freedom Scientific is the world's leading manufacturer of technology
products for those who are blind and vision impaired including software,such
as the JAWS® for Windows screen reader, notetakers, Braille
displays, embossers and products for the special education and learning
disability markets. Freedom Scientific's mission is to develop,
manufacture and market innovative technology-based products and
services that those with vision impairments and learning disabilities
use to change their world.
The PAC Mate is an all-purpose laptop computer from Freedom Scientific
for computer users who are blind or visually impaired. Operating
like a PDA, it has JAWS® as its backbone. It runs in the Windows®
CE and Microsoft® Pocket PC environments, providing users access
to off-the-shelf software, including Pocket Word, Pocket Excel and
Pocket Internet Explorer. PAC Mate connects to desktops, laptops,
printers and other devices. It features unlimited storage capacity
and an optional Global Positioning Systems for orientation by announcing
location. For more information, see http://www.freedomscientific.com
Hitec Group International
World distributors of all types of assistive communication devicesfor
persons with blindness, visual impairments, hearing loss, and speech
and mobility impairments
The International Braille
and Technology Center for the Blind
National Federation of the Blind
Telephone: (410) 659-9314
Fax: (410) 685-5653
This is the world's largest and most complete evaluation and demonstration
center of all assistive technology used by the blind from around
the world. Includes all Braille, synthetic speech, print-to-speech
scanning, Internet, and portable devices and programs. The center
is available for tours by appointment to blind persons, employers,
technology manufacturers, teachers, parents, and those working in
the assistive technology field.
Low Vision Superstore
The Low Vision Superstore TM&SM now offers the exciting, new
"Primer" by Innoventionsthe same maker of the "MagnaCam"
hand-held CCTV. The "Primer" offers a good quality image
in a handheld, black-and-white CCTV at a price nearly as low as
a magnifier. Call the Low Vision Superstore TM&SM at (800)826-4200
for a 30-day trial. Request a free copy of their extensive catalog,
featuring a large selection of low vision optical products.
Also, order online from the Lighthouse Publications
& Resources Catalog Featuring "Low Vision Defined:
A Guide to the Major Causes of Vision Loss and What Can Be Done
to Improve Functional Vision"along with a broad range
of educational materials on low vision practice, age-related
vision loss and more.
Innovations for People with Visual Disabilities
Video magnifiers and software, note-takers, scanners, Braille writers,
display, embossers, learning disabilities software, customer support.
data also took over Humanware.
Telecommunications devices for persons with deafness that can be
made to work with VersaBrailles to make communications devices
for the deaf-blind.
Refreshable Braille Displays are electronic
devices that are used to read text that a computer sends to the
monitor-from any source! The device is connected to the computer
by a serial cable and produces Braille output on the Braille displaya
ribbon of hard rubber. Refreshable Braille displays only read one
line of text at a time. These displays generally include directional
keys that allow the user to navigate through a document. Larger
displays (80 cells) also include a cursor routing function. It's
great to have a computer-generated version of Braille, but refreshable
Braille displays cost about $5000 a piece on average, so many companies
offer a service contract.
Alva Access Group, Inc.
Phone: 510-451-ALVA (2582) 888-318-ALVA (2582)
ALVA 544 Satellite Braille Display and more devices
Freedom Scientific, Inc.,
Blind/Low Vision Group
Phone: 727-803-8000 800-444-4443
Braille Lite 2000Braille input-Braille output-Speech
An Electronic Braille TeacherThe SAL by Freedom Scientific
is a device that teaches Braille through tactile perceptual skills
and Braille reading techniques. To learn all about the SAL
The Library of Congress
has launched Web-Braille on the Internet for blind and visually
impaired library users. 2,700 Braille book titles are available
on the Internet for download or online use by eligible individuals,
libraries, and schools with a computer and a Braille output device.
About 40 new titles per month are released in Braille and immediately
available online to users.
National Library Service for the Blind And Physically Handicapped
The Library of Congress
Telephone: (202) 707-9279
Braille-in keyboard emulates 101 standard key keyboard and 12 function
keys. It has 6- or 8-dot Braille input and connects to standard
The Braillex Compact is a complete computer system (including an
integrated refreshable Braille display) that is also portable and
lightweight. Its ergonomic design and versatility make it useful
at home, at school, in the office, or on the road. The Braillex
Compact is equipped with a Pentium processor and can be upgraded
with up to 40 MB of memoryplenty of computer power to work
with DOS or Windows or OS/2. Braillex Compact is an ideal companion
for making small notes, as well as for high-end word processing,
database or spreadsheet applications, or anything else you would
like to do with your computer. Users may connect an external Qwerty
keyboard, a VGA monitor, Braille and ink printers, a scanner, modem,
speech synthesizer, etc.
En-Vision America, Inc.
Phone: 309-452-3088 800-890-1180
OMNI is a portable "all-in-one" talking bar code scanner. It allows an individual to identify items using the product's bar code or UPC. A database of over a million North American UPC's and descriptions give the user a huge head start in identifying the product and getting the information needed about the item.
Smart Label Printer by Seiko
PC Software Developments
Telephone: 49 7231 46 56 81
Fax: 49 7231 46 56 81
With the software Quickinfo and a bar code hand scanner (used
at stores) and a keyboard wedge, you can associate speech information
to any bar code. Recognize consumer durables (e.g., CDs, books,
food, medicines) or use it in the business world. It's only $29.00!
OpenBook 6.0 is a combined scanner and a reader for reading, editing,
and managing printed text, now enhanced with new features. Users
can plug in a note-taker or scan text in and OpenBook will read
it aloud. The dictionary is larger and more customizable, than in
older versions and pages can be book marked or embossed from any
point in a document. OpenBook also has a screen highlighter or magnifier,
as well as the option to choose between reading a whole document
or skimming through just the first and last sentences of each paragraph.
OpenBook 6.0 comes with versatile keyboard options, For all the
details, see the Freedom Scientific Web site (above): Telephone:
(800) 444-4443; fax: (727) 803-8001; general information: Info@freedomscientific.com.
G.W. Micro, Inc.
Screen Reading Software
The Homepage Reader
IBM's Special Needs Systems
Homepage Reader was one of the first talking Web browsers for
people with blindness or visual impairments. Now there's a free
upgrade available from version 2.0 to version 2.5, for use in multiple
languages, or to navigate Web pages via the numeric keypad. Homepage
Reader Version 2.5 audibly communicates complete information from
graphical user interface Web pages to the user, including tables,
frames, forms, and alternate text for images. The full range of
Web page data is provided in a logical, clear, and understandable
manner. Home Page Reader speaks link information or ALT text for
images and image maps. In addition, the product speaks HTML 4.0
information provided by Web page authors so users can read summaries
and table captions. Users can navigate and read complex tables,
such as television listings, using table navigation mode.
The newest version of JAWSa dynamic screen readeris
available from Freedom Scientific. JAWS for Windows 4.5, has new
features for browsing the web using Internet Explorer. JAWS 4.5
has easy to remember quick keys, coupled with online support that
allow users to make the most of their nline experiences. Quick keys
also can be used during Say All, a voice recognition-option. JAWS
4.5 can recognize everything on the Internet, including paragraphs,
lists, and tables. A free demo is available at the Freedom Scientific
Web site (above): Telephone: (800) 444-4443; fax: (727) 803-8001;
general information: Info@freedomscientific.com.
The LunarPlus Enhanced
Screen Enlarger by
Voice: (650) 348-7401
Web site offers a free demo.A new screen magnifier for use
with Windows 95/98 ($395) and Windows NT/2000 ($795). It speaks
as you type and reads e-mail messages aloud. The LunarPlus has five
different magnification views, a color changer, foreign languages,
and it saves preferred settings.
Integrated magnification and screen reading for vision impaired
computer users. With new 'xFont' and NeoSpeech technology,
ZoomText Magnifier/Reader allows you to see and hear your
computer with perfect clarity. Free demo software on site.
Closing the Gap
Organization provides information on all types of assistive technology.
Hosts annual convention, workshops, newsletters, guides, articles
on state-of-the-art technology. Search the Resource Directory of
the latest computer-related products for children and adults with
Training on software and assistive technology;
excellent resources from Australia
Technology Update Sensory
(408) 245 - 7330
(408) 245 - 1001 (TDD)
Fax: (408) 245 - 3762
Bimonthly newsletter with information regarding technology and vision
impairment. Includes new product announcements, product reviews,
and consumer information. Available in print, large print, cassette,
MacIntosh OS Accessibility
The features that make the Macintosh computers accessible include:
an adjustable keyboard, an ergonomic mouse, CloseView screen magnification
software, Easy Access system software (StickyKeys, SlowKeys, MouseKeys),
electronic documentation, key-repeat disable, text-to-speech synthesis
and voice recognition (PlainTalk), sticky mouse, and visual alert
All of these features are included as part of
the Macintosh's system software, but users may also download the
Easy Access and CloseView utilities with instructions from the following
Web page: http://www.apple.com/education.
In addition, Macintosh has designed many computers for specific
disabilities, e.g. augmentative communication devices and recommends
Microsoft Operating Ssystem
(Includes magnification, talking screen reader, etc.)
Compatible Assistive Aids:
Accessible computers and software programs can make it possible
for everyone, including people with varying degrees of disabilities,
to use these technologies successfully in work, education, and recreation.
As computers become more and more a part of everyday activities,
the concern for making them truly accessible grows more critical.
Already a lot has been done. Accessibility options, features, and
controls have been built into software and operating systems, and
a large number of accessibility aids have been developed to help
people with more severe disabilities. Still there's more to do to
provide equal and reasonable access to the world of computers.
Several features from earlier releases of the
Windows operating system are also improved, and many accessibility
aids will be more effective because of the increased integration
of Microsoft® Active Accessibility®.
Microsoft® Active Accessibility®
is a developer technology that improves the way programs and the
operating systems work with accessibility aids. Using Active Accessibility®,
software developers can make their programs more compatible with
accessibility aids, and accessibility aid developers can make more
reliable and more robust aids. Ultimately, Active Accessibility®
increases options for people who depend on accessibility aids to
use computers. For all the details, go to: http://www.microsoft.com/enable/products/windows2000
Artic Technologies International,
Talking note takers
Perkins School for the Blind
(617) 924-3490 (Tel)
(617) 926-2027 (Fax)
Available in manual or electronic models, one-handed and large-cell