ZoomText 8.0 Advanced Magnification and Screen Reading Software.  Click
here to download a FREE trial.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

What is included in Zoomtext 8?

Introducing... ZoomText 8.0

Advanced Magnification and Screen Reading Software
With ZoomText 8.0, you’ll discover a new standard in
magnification and screen reading that truly empowers the
vision-impaired computer user. With innovative and
user-friendly features, ZoomText enlarges, enhances and reads
aloud everything on the screen, with unmatched quality and
performance.

Access to the Internet, email, applications and documents has
never been faster, easier or more accurate. Designed with the
precise mix of power and simplicity, ZoomText gives you total
independence at home, school and in the workplace. With
ZoomText 8.0 you have the freedom to do it all.
Download a FREE TRIAL at http://www.aisquared.com/

ZoomText is available in two product versions, a stand alone
Magnifier and an integrated Magnifier/ScreenReader.

ZoomText Magnifier
------------------
ZoomText Magnifier delivers the absolute best in screen
magnification... clear images, smooth navigation, ease of use
and the highest level of compatibility.

Magnifier..........................$395
Upgrade price......................$149
Prices shown apply to U.S. and Canada only.

* Flexible Magnification
2x to 16x magnification and 7 different zoom windows allow you
to configure the magnified view according to your needs.

* All-Color Smoothing
ZoomText 8.0 features All Color Smoothing. This new technology
automatically smoothes all text, regardless of its color, for
clear viewing at all magnification levels.

* Enhanced Screen Colors
Innovative color controls improve screen clarity and reduce
eyestrain. Special effects include color dyes, two-color modes
and replacement of problem colors.

* Visible Pointers & Cursors
Size and color enhancements make it easy to see the mouse
pointer. Special locators make it easy to find and follow the
mouse pointer and text cursor.

* Smooth Navigation
Navigating your applications and scrolling the view is always
smooth and comfortable. Constrained mouse movement allows you
to examine rows and columns, and keeps you within the active
window.

* New User Interface
The ZoomText interface has been redesigned with a fresh look and
improved functionality. Intuitive controls and commands make
ZoomText 8.0 easy to learn and use.

ZoomText Magnifier/ScreenReader
-------------------------------
The perfect combination of magnification and screen reading.
Powerful and easy to use. ZoomText Magnifier/Screen- Reader is
the complete solution for vision-impaired computer users.

Magnifier/ScreenReader........$595
Upgrade price.................$199
Prices shown apply to U.S. and Canada only.

All the features of ZoomText Magnifier, plus…

* Complete Screen Reading
ZoomText automatically speaks all program controls, including
menus, dialogs, status bars, lists and messages. Three
verbosity levels give you complete control over the amount of
information spoken.

* Automatic Document Reading
New ‘AppReader’ automatically read documents, web pages and
email, within the parent application.

* Full Internet Accessibility
ZoomText 8.0 reads any web page, in the proper reading order.
You can read automatically or manually navigate by word, line,
sentence and paragraph.

* Text Navigation
Navigation keys make it easy to read while creating and editing
documents. With simple commands you can read by character,
word, line, sentence and paragraph, even while selecting text.

* Typing Echo
Each key or word that you type is automatically spoken. You can
choose to have all keys spoken or only selected groups of
keys.

* Mouse Echo
Mouse echo automatically reads text that you point to. Single
words or complete lines of text can be spoken instantly or
after hovering briefly.
Special Application Support

* Built in support for popular applications - including Word,
Excel and Outlook - allows you to read and navigate your
documents with 100% accuracy.

Source: AiSquared

Monday, June 02, 2003

AiSquared Releases ZoomText 8!

AiSquared has released version 8 of ZoomText.
By Peter Verhoeven

The last 5 years Zoomtext was awarded as the best screen magnifier for Windows by visitors of The Screen Magnifiers Homepage.

The good news is, that the new AppReader feature in Zoomtext now highly improves access to the Internet including support for reading web pages and E-Mail.

The bad news is the absurd upgrade price of $195 (33% of new price, where 20% is normal).

After launching Zoomtext 8 the first thing that strikes me is the redesigned user user interface.

Zoomtext was always praised of the high magnification quality. AiSquared has successful improve this magnification quality again and ZoomText now includes full color smoothing.
You can magnify videos played in a small window on your computer without problems.

Also the performance of magnification, moving magnification by using the mouse or keyboard is better than it is in any other professional screen magnifier.

With the new AppReader feature you can now read web pages on the Internet, like MAGic and Lunar users already could. You can start reading from any point in the web page by clicking the position you want to start from. Information on web pages is now read in the right order. A lot of web pages include tables for layout reasons, that must be read column by column. In previous ZoomText versions it was realy hard to read web pages.

Another important new feature in Zoomtext 8 is mouse echo. Everything that comes beneath the mouse pointer is spoken out. We already know this feature from GW-Micro's Window-Eyes.

Zoomtext 8 comes as stand alone magnifier and magnifier / screen reader. Unless speech support in Zoomtext 8 is highly improved, it is meant for people with remaining useful vision. For people who are completely blind Zoomtext offers too less feedback.



Source: Aisquared

Freedom Scientific Releases MAGic 8.02! Licensed users of MAGic 8 can download the update for free.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MAGic 8.02 Screen Magnification with Speech English release update now
available to authorized users via free download

A new bilingual English/Spanish user interface tops the list of new features
and enhancements

(St. Petersburg, Florida - May 30, 2003) - Freedom Scientific posted on its
Web site the final release of its MAGic 8.02 Screen Magnification with
Speech update. The Web site is located at www.freedomscientific.com.

MAGic 8.02 is a powerful magnification tool in home, business and educational environments, and it is compatible with the world's most popular
screen reader, JAWS® for Windows. The software program helps people with low vision view information on their computer screen while hearing it through
their speech synthesizer.

MAGic 8.02 offers new features, enhancements and specific fixes for optimum functionality. This update has been developed to provide unrivaled performance when moving the mouse pointer or the magnified view. Mouse tracking is lightning fast and more responsive than ever for rapid navigation around the screen.

Don L. Tolle, owner, TrueTech Computing Solutions in Cincinnati, Ohio said
the MAGic 8.02 update is far and above any magnification software he has seen. Other first-time users agree.

"Simply put, the magnification is smoother than anything I have ever used,"
Tolle said. "I recently downloaded your competitor's product and there is no comparison."

Five new features underscore this update: Bilingual User Interface, Driver Chain Manager, Microsoft Office Toolbar tracking, support for GDI+ applications and a New Program Folder.

* With the bilingual user interface, you can now choose to display MAGic menus, help information and dialog boxes in either English or Spanish. With
a single keystroke, you can switch between English and Spanish speech, language interface and help.

* The Driver Chain Manager (DCM) allows multiple assistive technology software such as screen readers and magnification software to be installed
on a single PC without causing crashes, boot or software failures.

* MAGic 8.02 now tracks and speaks toolbar buttons on Microsoft Office 2000
and XP applications. This feature reads the button title and adjusts the magnified view to display it.

* GDI+ is a new technique from Microsoft that draws images directly to the graphics card for faster image display, but it can often interfere with
screen magnification. MAGic now works properly with applications that use GDI+ for displaying images, such as Microsoft Office XP applications.

* A welcomed feature has been added for those users who want to keep multiple versions and updates of MAGic. The New Program Folder is created
during installation that allows you to have MAGic 8.02 installed on the same PC while former versions and updates are in the folder.

For a detailed list of fixes and other enhancements in MAGic 8.02, please access the following:
http://www.freedomscientific.com/fs_products/software_MAG802.asp.

This free update is available to current MAGic 8.0 and MAGic 8.01 users.
Those who are unable to download the update should contact their local dealer or call Freedom Scientific at 1-800-444-4443 or 1-727-803-8000 for a
CD. The cost of the CD is $10 for shipping and handling.


Scott Meyers
Marketing Director
Freedom Scientific Inc.
Blind/Low Vision Group
11800 31st Court N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33716
PH: (727)803-8000 ext. 1131; (800)444-4443
Fax:(727) 803-8001
email: ScottM@FreedomScientific.com
Check out our website! www.FreedomScientific.com

Source: Freedom Scientific

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Mobile Phones Made Accessible by Speech Support

One of the problems facing the visually impaired is the use of the mobile phone. It is designed basically on visual concepts, without considering the needs of the blind and partially sighted.

Mobile Accessibility is a computer application which makes the mobile phone accessible in different ways and allows its uses to be adapted to the needs of the visually handicapped.

Mobile Accessibility has a powerful voice synthesizer designed by the Swiss company SVOX, which allows simple access to all the uses of the mobile phone.

Mobile accessibility is designed to work in all new generation mobile phones, regardless of the operating systems they run on.

Mobile accessibility does not need any additional external adaptive device to work. Once loaded in the mobile phone it is fully functional.

Features:

Mobile Accessibility is already available for:

- Nokia 3650
- Nokia 7650

During 2003 they plan to support:

- Siemens SX1
- Samsung SGH-D700
- Sony-Ericsson P800
- SPV Smartphone

On their web site you find more information and can view a presentation of the product.

Source: Mobile Accessibility

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Lunar / LunarPlus / Hal / Supernova 5.2 Released!

Dolphin has released version 5.2 of Lunar, Lunarplus, Hal and Supernova.

Lunar is a screen magnifier, Lunarplus a screen magnifier with speech upport, Hal a screen reader with speech and braille support, Supernova is the only product available within the AT industry combining screen reading and screen magnification (speech, braille and magnification).
All these products run on Windows 95 and higher (including Windows XP).
On Windows 95 some features do not work properly, so Windows 98 is recommended as minimum.

Supernova now includes speech and braille verbosity settings (choose from low, medium, high or create your own -).
Lunar users might be interested in the new Line View which now routes your cursor to the correct point in the document when you stop, making it easy to check and edit your document.

All products now have a List Utility replacing the Links Navigator in previous releases. The list utility presents links, headings or frames from a web page in a easy-to-manage list.

Source: Dollphin News

Friday, March 21, 2003

ZoomText 8 Public Beta 1 Released!

AiSquared has released the first public beta version of ZoomText 8.
Licensed users of ZoomText 7.x can try this beta version for free.

Important new features:

Source: ZoomText 8 beta

Monday, February 17, 2003

Space Technology helps the blind and partial sighted

By Dermot McGrath
In Paris

A new navigation tool to help blind and partially sighted people find their way around city streets is about to be tested under a new European project.
The handheld device uses advanced European Space Agency (Esa) satellite technology to locate and guide pedestrians in real-time over a wireless internet
connection.
It will be tested in coming weeks by volunteers from Once, Spain's national organization for the blind.
Current satellite navigation based on the global positioning system (GPS) works fine for many location-based services, but lacks the precision needed for
detailed navigation along city streets.

This is principally because tall buildings in urban areas, as well as other obstacles like trees, impede the ability of receivers on the ground to
track GPS satellites, resulting in a positioning accuracy that is often little better than 30 to 40 metres.
Improved accuracy
It should allow the blind user to navigate using a map, just as a sighted person can "
Alfredo Catalina, GMV Sistemas

To improve the accuracy of GPS positioning to a few meters, Europe is developing the Egnos system, which broadcasts augmentation signals through geo-stationary
satellites, enabling receivers on the ground to correct errors in GPS signals.
To get around the problem of buildings obscuring the Egnos signal, the European Space Agency created a complementary technology, known as SisNet, to relay the
signal in real-time over the internet using wireless networks.

The new handheld system, developed by Spanish company GMV Sistemas, makes use of this technology to improve the accuracy of GPS positions to a few meters,
making it sensitive enough to locate obstacles in the street.

GMV Sistemas' personal navigator for the blind, called Tormes, includes a Braille keyboard, a voice synthesizer and a GPS receiver.
The latest version comes packed with an "always-on" GPRS wireless internet connection, providing access to the SisNet services.
Personal navigators
" By connecting the world of navigation with the Internet, we are opening up many new possibilities "
Javier Ventura-Traveset, Esa All this hi-tech gadgetry gives users constant updates about their location
and tells them which road they are walking down, which buildings are near them and when they are approaching a junction.

"We think that the addition of SisNet to Tormes is very interesting," says Alfredo Catalina who is overseeing the project at GMV. "It should allow the
blind user to navigate using a map, just as a sighted person can."

The addition of an internet connection also has the potential to enhance the function of personal navigators in other ways.

"When you are connected to the internet you can also send messages back,"
explains Javier Ventura-Traveset from Esa.
"You can ask for directions to a particular place or say that you are lost or have had an accident. By connecting the world of navigation with the internet,
we are opening up many new possibilities."
Tormes is expected to be ready to begin tests in early February.
"We will do two tests, one with and one without the Egnos/SisNet technology so that we can compare them," says Felix Toran-Marti from ESA.
"Members of Once will be helping to define the tests and assess the performance of the technology."
Egnos is the first element of the European satellite navigation strategy and a major stepping-stone towards Galileo, Europe's own global satellite navigation
system for the future.

Consisting of 30 satellites in medium-Earth orbit plus an associated network of ground stations, Galileo is expected to deliver an independent,
civilian-controlled positioning service worldwide with metre-scale accuracy.

New Chat Application Includes Accessibility Features for Users of Screen Readers and Screen Magnifiers

New Chat Application Includes Accessibility Features for Users of Screen Readers and Screen Magnifiers

Dagmar Amtmann, Ph. D., Assistant Director, UW Center for Technology and Disability Studies
Debbie Cook, Director, Washington Assistive Technology Alliance Chat is a popular Internet based application that allows participants to communicate instantly, similar to talking on the phone. Chat participants
typically exchange messages by typing text using a keyboard. The messages are exchanged instantly, allowing for real-time, synchronous communication
using computer networks instead of telephones.

If you think that chat is mainly used by teenagers to exchange gossip, you may be surprised to learn that instant communication is increasingly used
for corporate communications. Market research analysts estimate that by 2004 over 5.5 million instant messages will be sent over the Internet by
corporate users.

With the popularity of chat applications steadily increasing, accessibility of these tools becomes very important to users with disabilities. In
addition to popular use of the chat applications by themselves, all distance learning packages commonly used by educational institutions, government, and
corporations include a chat feature that allows instructors to communicate with students, trainees and other participants in real-time.

>From the accessibility point of view, chat presents one of the more difficult challenges for users of screen readers and magnifiers. How
accessible chat applications are for users of screen readers depends in part
on how they were developed. Screen readers are able to handle some HTML-based chat applications, but most chat programs use the programming
language Java to create an updateable region of the screen that can be used for chatting with other users. Developers using Java typically pay little or
no attention to the application's accessibility to users with disabilities.
As a result, most applications do not allow the user to control how and when new messages are displayed. Typically, the window refreshes automatically,
displaying new messages as soon as they arrive, and making the environment very confusing for the users of screen readers.

The good news is that the Special Needs Opportunity Windows (SNOW) Project based in Toronto, Canada developed and recently released A-Chat, a chat
application with accessible features.

A-Chat, designed for blind and low vision users, is both keyboard accessible and screen reader friendly. For example, the user controls how often
messages are refreshed and can even set this feature to manual so that the screen will not refresh while it is being read. The user can choose to
receive an audible alert each time a new message is received. Layout of received messages can be set in ascending or descending order allowing the
user to read messages in the order they were sent or to read the latest one first. The user selects whether all messages or only new messages are displayed and that helps reduce clutter on the screen. Users also have control the type and size of the font,and the color combination for the
display, making it easier to read for low vision users.

The text and voice chat features of instant messaging programs like MSN Messenger are generally accessible and are well supported by assistive
technologies, but are mostly used for personal communication with friends and family.

Voice chat products are also becoming increasingly popular and allow users to chat orally through their computer's microphone and speakers, but these
applications may present a challenge to users with speech impairments and those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

For educational, corporate, and government communications, A-chat provides
an accessible alternative and a viable model of accessibility for other text chat applications. It is currently available free of charge to non-profit
groups and educational organizations as a freeware beta and can be downloaded from http://snow.utoronto.ca/chat.html.

Source: Special Needs Opportunity Windows (SNOW)

Thursday, February 06, 2003

UK Government to get tough over Web accessibility

Government to get tough over Web accessibility**
By Jonathan Webdale

The Government is preparing to launch the UK's first legal crackdown on companies that fail to make their Web sites accessible to blind or
partially-sighted Internet users.

The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) will begin a formal investigation into online service providers next month, which could produce the
country's first test case of disability law applied to the Web.

The government body's legal team is currently formulating its strategy and is weighing up whether its investigation should focus on individual
companies or particular industry sectors.

If the investigation concludes that certain Web sites breach the 1999 Disability Discrimination Act, the Commission's statutory powers allow it to
serve notices ordering them to cease operation.

Failure to comply with such an order would result in a court case. The DRC and several other organisations working in the same area, including
the RNIB, are keen to see guidelines on accessible Web sites established in UK case law.

The campaign has been gathering momentum over the past two years but has acquired special impetus in 2003, which marks the European
Year of the Disabled People.

A DRC spokeswoman said: 'We're not sure how many agencies look at accessibility or how many companies build it into their costs but they
should bear in mind that a lawsuit could also be an extra cost they haven't taken into account.'

Comment:

The Government has set a deadline of the end of 2003 for itself to make its own Web sites accessible. It should come as no surprise then that
the independent body it set up to secure civil rights for disabled people should be taking the campaign into the corporate world.

Though the DRC has yet to determine exactly what course of action it will take this is the first significant indication that some kind of legal
precedent is coming ever nearer. The surprise for many working in Web accessibility is the fact that the law hasn't yet been tested in the UK.

The DRC made it clear last year that the Disability Discrimination Act does indeed apply to Web sites. Afterall, if an entire sector of the
population is excluded from using a certain service it's hard to construe this as anything other than discrimination. The problem however, as has
been pointed out before in the pages of New Media Age, is that the DRC's code of practice on accessibility says companies who have made
'reasonable adjustments' to their Web sites will be covered under the Act. Quite what this means is unclear, but obviously the law is going to
come down hardest on the blue chips that are quite capable of investing in the latest technology and design solutions and yet fail to make the
effort.

The message is clear. Web designers and those who employ them need to start taking this issue as seriously as the DRC is doing, else a small
extra cost in the here and now could turn into a very large one in the long run, both in terms of legal fees and damage to reputations.

Source: New Media Zero

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Jim Halliday - Not All Windows CE Devices Are Equal

Press Release
For Immediate Release - Concord, CA. February 3, 2003
Not All Windows CE Devices are Equal
byJim Halliday

Three years ago, when Pulse Data first introduced the BrailleNote, I wrote an
article on why we had chosen Windows CE as an operating system. In that
article, I stressed several critical elements of any true PDA which Windows CE
enables. For example, CE enables programmers to create an appropriate user
interface; it has the ability to sync data with mainstream applications; it has
instant on/off capability and extended battery life due to low overheads; it
can incorporate mainstream hardware, such as memory cards, network cards,
modems, etc., and it has the ability to capitalize on mainstream utilities like
Active Sync and HyperTerminal. Now, others are following our technological
leadership as they begin to incorporate Windows CE in their own devices. With
competition comes the question, ~Whose Windows CE-based device is best?~

Happily, as I refer back to my original article of three years ago, I find that
the BrailleNote has consistently capitalized on the many advantages that
Windows CE offers, while the latest competition has totally ignored one of the
most important benefits of the CE environment, i.e. the opportunity to design
an appropriate user interface. By failing to capitalize on this essential
advantage of Windows CE, our competition has been forced to select one of the
many user interfaces designed for sighted people thus requiring yet another
screen reader. If we were talking about mainstream computing, then such a
solution might make sense, but with Windows CE we are talking about a Personal
Data Assistant (PDA), not a mainstream computer. Don~t be fooled into thinking
that MS Windows and Pocket PC have the same user interface let alone the same
power. PDA user interfaces vary greatly from those of mainstream computers so
traditional ~access~ rationale is not relevant here. Beware of being forced to
learn a whole new screen reader that has no transferability to the mainstream.
It is essential that prospective users understand that PDAs are about personal
productivity and synchronizing data with mainstream applications. They have
nothing to do with ~accessing~ mainstream computers.

User Interface
Personal productivity and efficiency are all about user interface. Windows CE
enables developers to create the best possible user interface that meets a
user~s unique needs. BrailleNote has a brilliantly intuitive and efficient user
interface designed specifically for blind users through years of user feedback.
The competition has NOT taken advantage of this Windows CE strength, but rather
chosen an existing PDA user interface designed for sighted people. As a result,
this inherently unfriendly (visual) user interface requires the addition of a
whole new screen reader that has no transferability to mainstream computing. It
merely adds needless complexity.

Direct Access versus Screen Access
Today~s mainstream computers have integrated an intuitive user interface
designed to give sighted people Direct Access to their applications.
Historically, blind people have been forced to jump through an extra hoop known
as a Screen Reader which enables them to access the Graphical (Visual) User
Interface which in turn controls the Direct Access. Even today, this sort of
indirect access remains the best way for blind users to access mainstream
computers.

Mainstream Computers versus PDAs
Let~s be honest. A PDA is NOT a mainstream computer and anyone who tries to
tell you that it is should have more respect for your intelligence. PDAs come
in different shapes and sizes from a variety of manufacturers, i.e., Microsoft,
Palm, Sony, Handspring, HP, Casio, NEC, Motorola, Pulse Data and many others.
Some of these use Windows CE, some use Palm OS, and others use their own
operating systems. Each brand has its own user interface and users choose the
one that is most intuitive and efficient for them. There is no standard user
interface with PDAs as there is in mainstream computing where 90% of the
computers in the world use Windows. The user interface is a personal choice and
operating systems like Windows CE make this difference and benefit possible.
That~s why it~s a Personal Data Assistant. PDAs are about personal
productivity. They are NOT about being forced to jump through additional hoops
before one can be productive.

The Ability to Sync
Aside from the user interface, the other important aspect of a PDA, regardless
of its operating system, is its ability to sync with basic Windows applications
like Word and Outlook. But the ability only to convert an MS Word file to a
more limited Pocket Word file misses the real point of file conversion for a
blind user. BrailleNote~s ability, at the user~s option, to instantly convert
MS Word files into Grade II Braille files running in KeyWord and visa versa has
been one of BrailleNote~s most appreciated capabilities. This is a perfect
example of how Windows CE, when used to its fullest, can provide an appropriate
user interface AND truly meaningful mainstream compatibility. As BrailleNote
adds other utilities, such as KeySync which synchronizes data from various
BrailleNote applications with MS Outlook, we see further confirmation that
people who are blind can have the best of both worlds, Direct Access AND
meaningful compatibility.

Applications: Quality versus Quantity
Imagine the gastronomic joys of sitting down with a directly accessible menu in
a quality restaurant that specializes in your favorite foods prepared and
served to your sublime satisfaction with your specific needs and tastes in mind
versus standing in a queue in a cafeteria where the menu, which is not directly
accessible to you, offers a huge selection of food options none of which are
prepared with your unique tastes or needs in mind, that you must put on a tray
and carry through a crowded dining hall until you find an empty table where you
can finally sit down to eat your less-than-satisfactory meal. Both of these
examples provide you with food. The first example has fewer options but ALL of
the choices meet your needs and desires. The second example has more choices,
but FEW IF ANY of those choices truly meet your needs or desires. Are you a
quality person or a quantity person?

True Off-the-shelf Applications versus So-called ~Off-the-shelf~ Applications
Accessing off-the-shelf applications is something necessary in mainstream
computing because 90% of the people in the computing world are using those
applications and if blind people want to compete in mainstream jobs they must
access mainstream or off-the-shelf applications. PDAs, on the other hand, are
designed to enhance personal productivity. The closest PDAs come to a standard
is that they all sync with certain MS Office applications, otherwise there is
no standard. Therefore, the traditional reason for adding the complexity of a
screen reader to the process of computing disappears. In fact, every true PDA
provides a personalized environment that allows for the kind of Direct Access
most appropriate for the user.

More is Not Always Better~ It~s Just More!
More complexity, more decisions, more confusion, more distraction~ more is not
always what we want. Personal productivity is about focus, not distraction. The
hype may sound good when you hear that you can access a spreadsheet, but
accessing spreadsheets on PDA is like carrying an elephant on a bicycle. The
concept is fascinating, but it~s not very practical if you are the one doing
the pedaling.

PDAs are Personal ~ Computers are for the Masses
It is absolutely essential that customers realize that computers are about
accessing the mainstream and that PDAs are about personal productivity that
enables easy and efficient data exchange with the mainstream on a portable
basis. Both of these resources are necessary but both have different purposes
and therefore require different user interfaces. Until the competition
understands the true meaning of a PDA and starts developing its own user
interface and related applications, it will have ignored the fundamental
advantages of Windows CE and be stuck with a non-standard screen reader
accessing non-standard visual applications on a stripped down operating system
that is incapable of functioning as a mainstream computer. Meanwhile, the
BrailleNote continues to add applications with Direct Access such as browsers,
MP-3 players, data-synchronizing utilities, wireless access, high-speed network
connections, GPS, multiple languages, and much, much more. While the
competition has been making promises for three years, Pulse Data International
has provided a constant string of new developments, applications, utilities,
and capabilities as they have pursued their dream of creating the ideal PDA for
people who are blind.

Stability versus Fragility
Do you want a truly stable PDA (Personal Data Assistant) that has been
expanding its capabilities for three successful years by giving you personal
productivity software designed specifically for your needs, or do you want an
unproven ~PDA~ (Partial Direct Access) that gives you an all new screen access
approach to so-called ~off-the-shelf~ software none of which was designed with
you in mind? Keep in mind that a script-dependent screen reading approach is
inherently fragile, especially in its early stages of development.

30-day Moneyback Guarantee
If you still aren~t sure what~s best for you, purchase a BrailleNote or
VoiceNote and try it out. If it doesn~t work for you then return it in good
condition within 30 days for a full refund. You have nothing to lose by giving
a BrailleNote or a VoiceNote a test drive. We believe that once you have
experienced the simplicity and personal power that comes from using a tried and
true PDA, you will wonder why you waited so long to get one.


Source: Pulse Data

Saturday, January 25, 2003

MAGic 8.01 Update Released!

MAGic 8.01 Screen Magnification with Speech software now available to authorized users via free download (English Only)

Performance improvements, especially in the 9X environment, top list of
enhancements

(St. Petersburg, Florida - January 24, 2003) - Freedom Scientific posted on its Web site the final release of its MAGic 8.01 Screen Magnification with
Speech update. Authorized users may follow the link at the bottom to download the update for free.

MAGic 8.01 provides a superior magnification solution in home, business and educational environments, and it is compatible with the world's most popular
screen reader JAWS(r) for Windows. The software program helps people with low vision view information on their computer screen while hearing it
through their speech synthesizer.

MAGic 8.01 offers new features, enhancements and specific bug fixes, no matter what Windows operating system users are running. Four new features
highlight this update: incremental panning, cross-platform networking, disabling screen savers and improved mouse-based navigating.

Users may now set keystrokes to pan the screen in fixed increments, allowing them to quickly adjust the visual display of information.

The network, multi-user version of MAGic now allows the mixing or Windows platforms within the network. This allows users to flow freely throughout
the network, retaining their visual and speech preferences as they go.

Avoid interruptions while reading lengthy documents by enabling MAGic to turn off screen savers automatically.

Overall, customers will enjoy smoother document reading and improved speech and improved performance in scrolling and visual presentation. Users will no
longer experience random skipping lines in some applications.

Speech support for software synthesizers has been enhanced with improved support for the InfoVox and Wintalker synthesizers. The Macromedia Flash
Player can be smoothly installed as well.

For a detailed list of Specific bug fixes in MAGic 8.01, please visit our website at www.freedomscientific.com.

This free update is available to current MAGic 8.0 users. Those who are unable to download the update should contact their local dealer or call
Freedom Scientific at 1-800-444-4443 or 1-727-803-8000 for a CD. The cost of the CD is $10 for shipping and handling.

END OF RELEASE

Scott Meyers
Marketing Director
Freedom Scientific Inc.
Blind/Low Vision Group
11800 31st Court N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33716
PH: (727)803-8000 ext. 1131; (800)444-4443
Fax:(727) 803-8001
email: ScottM@FreedomScientific.com
Check out our website! www.FreedomScientific.com

Source: Freedom Scientific

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

THIN CLIENTS RETURN TO THE BAD OLD DAYS, are Microsoft and Citrix Copyrights more important than employment of millions of visually impaired?

"In terms of computer accessibility it's like going back ten to 15 years.
Be afraid." Such was the stark message delivered by Andy White,
RNIB technology officer, to delegates at the institute's recent
'Techshare' conference (http://www.rnib.org.uk/techshare).

The reason for White's gloom is the rise of 'thin client' computing, the
system whereby large organisations with computer networks hold
almost all information and software applications on a central server or
servers. The 'thin client' machines on users' desktops are little more
than keyboards and screens, with almost no locally held data, software
or processing power. It represents a move away from the high-
specification desktop computer and back to the 'dumb terminal' days
of mainframe computing. Even office software applications such as
word processors are run on the server, with the output being sent to the
terminal. The result looks the same to the user, but all the actual
computing is taking place on the remote server.

There are many advantages of this kind of computing: it is easier to
update software since you only need to do so once at the centre;
security against hackers and viruses is far tighter; general maintenance
is easier; and above all, it is cheaper.

Those that have already adopted the technology in the UK include the
national health service hotline NHS Direct; Barclays Bank; and the
Admiral Insurance Group. Indeed its appeal is so strong that even the
RNIB has said it would implement thin client technology if it were not
for accessibility problems.

These problems are not trivial. The great majority of access technology
software relies on a fully functioning PC with its own hard drive,
central processing unit, application software and operating system and
so will simply not function on a 'thin client' terminal.

"Screen magnifiers have some functionality on thin clients. They can
grab enough information from what is coming from the server for
simple magnification," says White. "However, the more advanced
manipulation features of magnifiers will not function, and as for screen
readers, which convert data output from programmes rather than the
purely graphical information sent to thin clients, it is a no-go area."

In moving to implement thin client technology, therefore, organisations
have completely overlooked the needs of their visually impaired
employees, White says. In the short term, there is only one solution: a
visually impaired employee needs to keep his or her PC working
alongside but outside the terminal system. "Typically organisations do
have two regimes running, and data can still be got at from outside the
thin client system.

"It can be politically hard to insist on this, and employers may not even
realise it is possible. But people encountering problems when asking
for a proper PC should ask if an organisation's technical people are
also using dumb terminals? Are they hell - they're going to be sitting
there with their fully functioning PCs."

On the other hand, running two systems is not ideal, he says. "It is a
work-around, and work-arounds will only work around for so long,"
says White. "It is not good for visually impaired people to be working
under a separate regime. Eventually their PCs will become outdated,
for example."

In the longer term, therefore, there is a need to build accessibility in to
thin client systems, and to this end talks are underway between makers
of access technology and those of terminal technology.

Thin client systems generally use Microsoft Terminal Server software
(http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/technologies/terminal/defaul
t.asp) at their core, often enhanced with software such as MetaFrame
from Citrix (http://www.citrix.com) which adds features such as
improved load-balancing across a network.

Access technology specialists Dolphin Computer Access has been
involved in discussions with both Microsoft and Citrix to see if they
can work together to allow screenreaders to work. However as well as
the technical problems, there are legal ones of copyright and
commercial secrecy to overcome."

"You can run into a legal brick wall," says Mike Hill, software director
at Dolphin. "We're waiting on Microsoft. The ball is in their court but
they do seem keen to start testing solutions." Hill says Microsoft hopes
to be able to announce further developments in time for this March's
major international access technology conference in the US, 'CSUN'
(http://www.csun.edu/cod/conf).

If Microsoft does adjust its server technology to make it more
accessible, the Citrix add-ons should not present any further major
problems. However the commercial relationship between Microsoft
and Citrix is complex and ever-changing, with the two firms oscillating
between partnership and competition. With this in mind Citrix is not
simply waiting for Microsoft to adapt its software, but is committed to
finding its own accessibility solutions by the second half of 2003.

Some progress should be made this year, with the US 'section 508' law
requiring accessibility of all technologies purchased by federal
government agencies likely to be a further incentive for change.

On the other hand, even if server technology is adapted to run screen
readers centrally, technicians admit there could be problems with the
bandwidth needed to send the sound output over the network without
unacceptable time delays.

Until lasting solutions to all these problems are found, however, Andy
White says organisations should think carefully about the implications
of their actions. "Any employer installing thin client technology is
currently effectively making visually impaired employees redundant."

To subscribe to this free monthly bulletin, email
eab-subs@headstar.com with 'subscribe eab' in the subject header.

Copyright 2003 Headstar Ltd http://www.headstar.com .
The Bulletin may be reproduced as long as all parts including this
copyright notice are included, and as long as people are always
encouraged to subscribe with us individually by email. Please also
inform the editor when you are reproducing our content. Sections of
the report may be quoted as long as they are clearly sourced as 'taken
from e-access bulletin, a free monthly email newsletter', and our web
site address http://www.e-accessibility.com is also cited.

PERSONNEL:
Editor - Dan Jellinek dan@headstar.com
Deputy editor - Phil Cain phil@headstar.com
News editor - Derek Parkinson derek@headstar.com
Reporter - Mel Poluck mel@headstar.com
Editorial advisor - Kevin Carey humanity@atlas.co.uk .

ISSN 1476-6337

Source: e-access bulletin

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Internet-based scanning of images, containing text,, automatically converted to synthesized speech

The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) offers a free service that I thought might be of interest to those of you who have never heard of it.

NLM's "DocMorph" website http://docmorph.nlm.nih.gov/docmorph/ allows
users to upload scanned image files and other types of information for conversion to alternative formats. Some of the document conversion
techniques offered by this server are not readily available elsewhere
on the web. By using your web browser, you can upload files to DocMorph for conversion, and usually in less than one minute your results are ready.

DocMorph's "Reading Room" allows you to submit either scanned images of printed material or text files. DocMorph will return a web page that uses synthesized speech to read the material out loud.


Source: NLM DocMorph

Window-Eyes 4.21 is released!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 13, 2003

Window-Eyes 4.21 is released!

(Fort Wayne, IN) -- GW Micro, creator of Window-Eyes, is proud to announce
the release of Window-Eyes Standard 4.21 and Window-Eyes Professional
4.21. Window-Eyes is a software screen reader for people who are blind
that gives them the power to carry out complicated tasks with the ease
previously enjoyed only by the mouse user.

Since approximately 33% of its employees are blind, GW Micro realizes the
importance of having a product that meets both leisure and work-time
needs. Below are just a few examples of how those needs are being addressed:

• GW Micro has worked closely with RealNetworks to provide
accessibility to their new and exciting RealOne Player product, using
MSAA. This new access provides the user with all the audio available on
the Web.

• Many people who are blind are programmers and need access to
available tools. GW Micro is pleased to offer support in their new version
4.21 to the Microsoft Visual Studio.net product, thus allowing programmers
who are blind access to the most modern tools.

• Several major corporations use Lotus Notes for their e-mail. Lotus
Notes Version 6 and Window-Eyes 4.21 meet their e-mail needs reliably.

Window-Eyes 4.21 also features the long-awaited video chaining element
(DCM) which, when fully implemented by other companies, will greatly
enhance the lives of people who must have different assistive technology
products installed. This technology will enable agencies working with
people who are blind to show all types of AT products and not have to be
concerned about order of installation.

Clarence Whaley, Director of Sales and Marketing for GW Micro, stated,
“Everywhere I travel instructors are concerned about having many AT
products on their systems because of the conflicts that can and do
occur. DCM is the answer to that problem; we strongly encourage other
companies to implement DCM as soon as possible. It is now available for
Window-Eyes users.”

Window-Eyes 4.21 is now available for purchase. Window-Eyes Standard
compatible with Windows 9x and Me retails for $595.00; Window-eyes
Professional compatible with Windows XP, 2000, 9x and Me retails for
$795.00. Owners of Window-Eyes Standard 4.2 and Professional 4.2 can
download a free upgrade to version 4.21 from our web page: www.gwmicro.com

Dan Weirich, co-owner of GW Micro, states, “As I travel around the country,
I am so pleased with the impact Window-Eyes is having on our customers. We
are committed to producing the product of choice for people who are blind.”

Founded in 1990, GW Micro, a Fort Wayne, Indiana-based, assistive
technology company, is committed to producing the most reliable screen
reader available for people who are blind. Window-Eyes allows them to hear
(with speech synthesis) and feel (via refreshable Braille displays) the
Microsoft Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, and Windows XP operating systems.

Contact: Clarence Whaley
clarence@gwmicro.com
www.gwmicro.com
Clarence: 615-383-6248
Main office: 260-489-3671


Clarence Whaley
Director Of Sales And Marketing
GW Micro
E-Mail: Clarence@gwmicro.com
Direct Voice (615) 383-6248
Direct Fax (615) 269-5288
GW Micro Voice Number 260-489-3671
http://www.gwmicro.com

Source: GW-Micro

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

ZoomText Xtra from AiSquared AWARDED as Best Screen Magnifier for Windows in 2002

For the fifth time ZoomText Xtra from AiSquared, is AWARDED as Best Screen Magnifier for Windows.

ZoomText Xtra got 54.9% of the votes, 6% more than in 2001.
The second place, with 27% in THE 2002 poll, is again for Lunar / LunarPlus / Supernova from Dolphin. The Dolphin product range got 4.5% more votes than in 2001.

Loser in the 2002 poll is MAGic from Freedom Scientific. MAGic got 13.9% of the votes, 6% less than in 2001.

ProVision got 2.5%. This product participated in 2001 for the first time in the poll and got 2.5% less votes than in 2001.

Magnum got 2% less votes than in 2001 and ends at 1.7% of the votes. This is the last time Magnum participates in the poll for the best screen magnifier for Windows, because there seems to be no further developement of this product and the company Artic Technologies does not respond on any questions about their product.

In 2002 237 visitors to The Screen Magnifiers participate in the poll. This is 77 more than in 2001.

Saturday, December 07, 2002

The Tieman Group introduces the Traveller Electronic portable magnifier with emphasis on ergonomics and design

As per December 2002, The Tieman Group introduces the Traveller; a true portable electronic magnifier. Designed for use in work, private and school situations. The Travellers ergonomic design and features will give the user maximum freedom.

Visually impaired people of almost any age will be able to experience the advantages of a portable product with revolutionary new features. Designed for portable use in work, private and school situations the Traveller is the first portable CCTV with a strong emphasis on ergonomics and functionality. The combination of an adjustable screen, photo mode and two high contrast text modes, linear zooming without stepping and the integrated writing facility are the first to be seen in the world.

The Traveller puts an essential tool in the hands of the active visually impaired who like to maintain their independence. Carry it with you and use it in the supermarket or in libraries or even while travelling.

The Traveller contains all its features and functionality in one a magnification range of 4,5 to 16 times and ensures simple use and ergonomic advantage.
The Traveller is more compact and lightweight than any of its competitors. It only weighs 800 grams, including the integrated batteries that last for at least two hours continuous use. Those who need more magnification can easily connect the Traveller to a NTSC television.

Please contact the marketing department of the Tieman Group or your local Tieman distributor for additional information.

Source: Tieman Group

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

SMS texting - visually impaired people can now join in

Young visually-impaired people experience the social revolution of SMS

The announcementA remark made by a visually impaired pupil on a school trip from the West country has led to a pioneering development enabling sight-impaired or blind people to use text messaging.

Mesar Hameed, 17, from the West of England School and College in Exeter, the specialist centre for blind and partially sighted young people in the south west of England, was visiting a technology project run by BT in London last year, when he commented to one of the managers how being unable to receive text messages left him feeling socially excluded from his peer group.

His comments were noted by BT Group manager Adam Oliver, who decided to investigate, with the help of the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), into a technological solution.

Less than a year later, BTexact Technologies, BT's advanced research and technology business, has developed a device that allows people to send text messages to a hand-held computer, which then 'speaks' the message so that someone who cannot see the screen can hear the message instead.

Now Adam Oliver has gone back to Mesar and his fellow pupils at the school to give them a demonstration of how the technology works.

"It's a great idea", says Mesar, who was one of two pupils selected by the school for visually impaired and blind youngsters to visit BT's Access to Information Centre, after a member of staff at the school won a competition last year.

"You do feel left out not being able to send messages, and at the moment you have to get someone else to read it out to you, which you might not want if it's personal." Fellow sixth-form pupil Andrew Moyes, 17, added: "It's annoying if there's no-one around to read a message for you as well. This way we can do it ourselves."

Project instigator Adam Oliver, 35, who met Mesar, and fellow sixth-form pupil Simon De La Mare, 17, when they visited the Access to Information project at BT last year, says the development came about entirely through their comments.

"What Mesar said really got me thinking", he said. "Text messaging is pretty important to teenagers these days, and I thought there must be something we can do to help. I went to the RNIB and they said as far as they knew there wasn't anything on the market, so we put some funding into developing a new method using BTexact.

"What it's come up with is an incredible achievement. The handset takes technology from a Windows-based PC, and makes it work on a pocket-sized computer. This could be the development that enables visually impaired people to take part in the social revolution of SMS texting."

Steve Tyler, senior strategic manager for digital technology at the RNIB said, "the RNIB has worked with BT before on other technology projects in areas such as voice synthesis, and this latest development is very exciting.

"Text messaging has become a necessary feature of most people's social, as well as business life, so the RNIB is delighted that a reliable and practical method for reading text messages has been developed for people who are visually impaired."

BT is now looking for commercial partners in order to develop this technology into a viable retail product.

About BTexact TechnologiesBTexact Technologies, BT's advanced research and technology business, offers expertise and experience in communications technology and e-business, backed by a team of more than 3,000 technologists and one of the world's largest communications research and development facilities. As the centre of technical expertise for the BT Group, BTexact has established a record of world-first achievement and of successful delivery of projects, large and small. It has also created an intellectual property portfolio of some 14,000 patents based on almost 2,000 inventions, some of which are being converted into valuable new businesses by BTexact's Brightstar incubator.

BTexact helps businesses and organisations inside and outside BT Group gain maximum advantage from communications technology. It creates value and competitive advantage by combining a deep knowledge of networks and networked applications with proven skills in business consulting, change management and innovation. Its services are focused to help customers assess the value and performance of communication technologies and systems, identify potential risks and ensure they gain maximum advantage from investments in communications technologies and applications.

BTexact's employees include many who are world leaders in their specialist fields, working at the forefront of standards development and new technologies in areas including multimedia, IP and data networks, mobile communications, network design and management, and business applications. Services are offered to customers directly or through world-class business partners, which include BT Group businesses such as BT Retail, BT Wholesale and BT Ignite.

BTexact is headquartered at Adastral Park, at one end of the Cambridge-2-Ipswich Hi Tech Corridor, and is a founder member of the Cambridge Network. It has offices and laboratories worldwide including locations across the UK and in Asia, continental Europe, and North America.




BTexact Technologies helps businesses and organisations gain maximum advantage from communications technolgy. We create value and competitive advantage by combining a deep knowledge of networks and networked applications with proven skills in business consulting, change management and innovation.

For further information visit www.btexact.com




Products and services described in this publication are subject to availability and may be modified from time to time.
Products and services are provided subject to British Telecommunications plc's respective standard conditions of contracts.
Nothing in this publication forms any part of a contract. All third-party trademarks are hereby acknowledged.
Copyright British Telecommunications plc, 2002. Registered Office: 81 Newgate Street, London EC1A 7AJ.
Registered in England no. 1800000



Source: BTexact Technologies

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Blindness Coalition Vows Court Decision Won't End Described Video

Contacts: Charlie Crawford
ccrawford@acb.org
Margaret R. Pfanstiehl
(301) 593-0120


BLINDNESS COALITION VOWS COURT DECISION
WON'T END DESCRIBED VIDEO


WASHINGTON -- Leaders of advocacy organizations working on behalf of millions
of blind and low vision children and adults today reacted strongly to the
Federal Appeals Court decision on Friday, November 8, which vacated the Federal Communications Commission's July 1, 2000 rule and order mandating the
major television networks to provide limited amounts of described video programs for visually impaired people. While expressing disappointment, the
17-member National Television and Video Access Coalition, which includes AARP; the American Council of the Blind (ACB); the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB); and the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), expressed its resolve to keep video description alive on prime-time and children's television programs,
and to expand the service which makes visual information contained in televised programs accessible, via verbal description, to people who cannot see their TV screens.


Coalition Chair Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl of Silver Spring, Md., President of the Metropolitan Washington Ear, said, "Described television is, for people who
are blind or visually impaired, what closed captioning is for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. We have worked for a dozen years to make this service
available, and we are not about to have it disappear from commercial television networks just when blind people are beginning to discover the pleasure of
television in the same way that other people take the medium for granted.
Many people of good faith have supported us in our efforts to obtain and expand this essential service. Our supporters within the industry and within the
disability community will continue to promote this access."


Charlie Crawford of Silver Spring, Md., Executive Director of the American Council of the Blind, added, "The ACB has worked too long and too hard to
achieve the kind of inclusion that video described television was beginning to offer us to allow it to be taken away from us now." Crawford said that the
technique of describing visual information verbally via the Secondary Audio Programming channel has been embraced enthusiastically by members of his
organization, which includes blind and visually impaired people of all ages, all over the USA.


"ACB and other members of the Coalition are weighing our options and considering a number of next steps," said Christopher Gray, of San Francisco,
President of the ACB. "The population of blind and visually impaired people continues to expand as the baby boom generation enters senior citizenship.
People who lose their vision later in life have grown up watching TV, and they aren't going to like the idea of having to do without access to this mainstream
medium, just when it began to appear that described video would allow them to continue to enjoy it."


Video description, developed for television in the late '80s by Boston public broadcaster WGBH, provides viewers who are blind or visually impaired with
narration of key visual elements, actions, scene changes, and facial expressions during natural pauses in dialogue. Narrated description is delivered via the second audio program, a standard feature on stereo
televisions and SAP-equipped VCRs since 1990. PBS has provided description of programming for over a decade, and the Narrative Television Network and Turner
Classic Movies cable network also provide this program feature on a regular basis.


In July 2000, the FCC adopted rules designed to increase the accessibility of television and emergency information for viewers with visual disabilities.
The rules took effect between April and June 2002, and required that the top commercial networks and the major cable networks provide 50 hours per calendar
quarter of described programming to the nation's top 25 television markets.
(More information on the FCC's description rules can be found here..)


The Motion Picture Association of America and the networks attempted to vacate the Federal Communications Commission's rule under a contention that the FCC did not have the Congressional mandate to make such a rule. On Friday, November 8, the Federal Court of Appeals in a three-to-zero decision sided
with the industry.


"The Access Coalition welcomes the early indicators that the television industry will continue to provide video description on broadcast and cable
television on a voluntary basis," said Coalition Chair Pfanstiehl. "We will continue to advocate for this essential access. The nation's 12 million
citizens with visual impairment are eager to see that the industry maintain and expand the number of programs which include description, and we applaud those commercial broadcast and cable networks that began providing description as of the date the FCC's mandate went into effect."


ACB Executive Director Crawford says, "Future actions of the coalition in regard to legal and legislative initiatives will be informed by the continued
resolve of national broadcast and cable networks and local cable companies which pass through (or neglect to pass through) the description content on the
SAP channel. We, at ACB, have appreciated the quality of the descriptions, and the willingness of some to go beyond the requirements of the FCC rules. For
example, in July 2002, we gave an 'Access Award' to the Fox television network
who began providing description even before the mandate went into effect, and who extended the service to its most popular prime-time programs."


ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, as well as the top five cable networks: Lifetime, Nickelodeon, TBS, TNT and USA Network have all joined with PBS and Turner
Classic Movies to provide described programming. Viewers who are blind or visually impaired, their families and friends now enjoy such varied described
programs as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on CBS, Law & Order on TNT, Lifetime movies, world television premieres of theatrical films and specials on ABC and
USA Network and Rugrats and Blue's Clues on Nickelodeon.


The American Council of the Blind is a national membership organization whose purpose is to work toward independence, security, equality of opportunity, and improved quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people.
Founded in 1961, ACB's members work through more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates to improve the well-being of all blind and visually impaired people by: serving as a representative national organization; elevating the social,
economic and cultural levels of blind people; improving educational and rehabilitation facilities and opportunities; cooperating with the public and
private institutions and organizations concerned with blind services;
encouraging and assisting all people with severely impaired vision to develop their abilities and conducting a public education program to promote greater understanding of blindness and our capabilities. To learn more about the Council's work, visit the web site at http://www.acb.org, or contact the national office in Washington, DC at (202) 467-5081.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Internet Means Possibilities, Frustration for Blind Surfers

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE


November 7, 2002


Internet Means Possibilities, Frustration for Blind Surfers


By STEPHANIE MILES


Amy Green is trying to open her Yahoo e-mail account.


Ms. Green, a 19-year old student at the School for the Blind in Fremont,
Calif., has low vision, which means that her sight can't be corrected to
any level approaching normal. With painstaking patience, she moves the
cursor slowly around the Yahoo Inc. home page, which has been magnetized
to five times its usual size using ZoomText, a special program for the
vision-impaired. Because of the magnification, only a tiny portion of the
window can be displayed at one time.


Even so, she has her nose pressed up against the monitor, doggedly
working to locate the link that will open the right page. "This is kind
of starting to annoy me," she says, almost under her breath. After
several minutes of trying, Ms. Green finds the link and clicks on it. Now
the process starts all over again, as she attempts to locate the windows
where she must type in her name and password.


Ms. Green isn't alone. Twenty percent of the 93.5 million adults who
access the Internet in the U.S. say they have vision problems, according
to ComScore Media Metrix, which tracks Internet usage.


The Internet is giving the visually impaired access to the same
information at the same time as the rest of the world, "for the first
time since the end of the oral tradition and the beginning of the printed
word," says Stuart Wittenstein, superintendent at the School for the
Blind, which focuses on teaching blind children and young adults life
skills to help them succeed in mainstream society.


But if the Internet has leveled the playing field, it is also an exercise
in frustration for thousands of people every day. At the School for the
Blind -- which offers its students, teachers, and administrators some of
the most sophisticated assistive technology around -- the Web seems to
cause as many problems as it solves.


Off Limits


Completely blind people use the Internet with the help of screen-reading
software, which literally voices every graphic, link, and piece of text
that appears onscreen. Instead of using the mouse, special keyboard
commands are used to select links and move from window to window. Those
with some vision can also use screen magnifiers, which enlarge a portion
of the screen between two and 10 times its regular size.
Because blind people are dependent either on audio text-readers or screen
magnifiers, much of the Internet is effectively off limits to them.
Popular children's sites like Disney.com are hard for blind kids to
navigate because of the graphic-heavy design, along with ad-heavy portals
like Yahoo and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN. And while pop-up windows and
glitchy antivirus software are mere annoyances for the sighted, they are
even more vexing for blind surfers, because they wreak havoc with
assistive software.


Disabled-rights advocates have long pushed for the Web to be more
accessible to the blind, with mixed results. Earlier this month, a
federal judge ruled that the Americans With Disabilities Act doesn't
cover virtual space, dismissing a suit demanding that the Web site for
Southwest Airlines be altered to work better with text-readers. In 2000,
America Online, now a division of AOL Time Warner Inc., avoided a lawsuit
filed by the National Federation for the Blind by agreeing to make its
Internet software more compatible with text-readers.


Internet companies say they don't have the resources to make their sites
disabled-accessible. "We have such a huge range of users," says a
spokeswoman for Yahoo, declining to comment specifically on what the
company has done to make its site usable for blind users. "We have worked
with outside organizations to help our people understand the needs of
people with all types of disabilities," says a spokeswoman for the Disney
Internet Group, while conceding that some of Disney.com's multimedia
features "might pose some difficulties" for blind users.


Advocates say that Web developers who ignore the blind users in their
audience are missing a potentially huge market. The disabled community
has $175 billion in discretionary spending and $1 trillion in income,
according to management-consulting firm Booz, Allen & Hamilton in
Washington, D.C. That community includes 10 million blind Americans,
according to the American Foundation for the Blind ( www.afb.org).


Blind students and teachers at the School for the Blind say that it is
clear that most Web designers don't take visually disabled users into
account, forcing them to navigate unmarked links, mysterious unlabeled
graphics, and framed Web sites that don't work with many assistive
software programs. "It all depends on the Web designer," says Joan
Anderson, who runs the computer lab at the School For the Blind. "The
Internet is a great thing, but it's also the most frustrating."


For many in the blind community, the Internet is a lifeline to the
outside world, Ms. Anderson says. Like many other teenagers, her kids
enjoy burning CDs and listening to music on the computer, but by far the
most popular activity is e-mail. "E-mail -- they love e-mail," she says.
"E-mail, e-mail, e-mail."


In their enthusiasm for communicating with friends and family, the
students willingly put up with the frustrating design of sites like
Microsoft's Hotmail.com and Yahoo Mail, she says, pointing out that
neither site works well with the special keyboard commands. This means
students like Ms. Green must slowly scroll around a magnified version of
the screen, searching for the right link.


While Ms. Green is willing to patiently scrutinize the magnetized
computer screen, searching slowly for the right link to click, some say
it is just too much hassle.


"I rarely use it, because it's so frustrating," says Marcus Graves, the
school's receptionist, who is blind himself, pointing to the computer
sitting in front of him on his desk. Mr. Graves uses the phone and fax
machine in the reception area with few problems, but is thwarted when he
tries to log on to look up the day's stock information. "When I try to
find something, I cannot," he says. "The sites are designed poorly."


June Waugh, an administrator at the school with severely impaired vision,
says she will use the Web for some important tasks at work -- like
e-mail, and even occasionally buying airline tickets -- but not for
entertainment purposes because it is so difficult and time-consuming for
her to get around online. Ms. Waugh pushes her computer monitor to the
very edge of her desk, and reads text at 200% its normal size. "If it was
easy, I'd do it," she says. "The Internet isn't particularly fun for me."


The phenomenon of pop-up and pop-under ads also causes problems. JAWS,
(which stands for Job Access With Speech) a popular text-to-speech
software program made by Freedom Scientific Inc., in St. Petersburg,
Fla., often gets confused by the proliferation of browser windows. "When
they pop up, JAWS tries to read it to you," Ms. Anderson says, explaining
that it can be difficult to navigate via the text-to-speech software back
to the correct window. The school doesn't use any kind of ad-suppressing
software. "They end up blocking everything," she says. "I haven't found
one we can use."


Although JAWS gives completely blind users -- for whom screen
magnification won't help -- access to computers and the Web, the software
has its own share of obstacles. JAWS doesn't recognize unusual fonts, for
example, which crop up on many Web sites. Web sites that are continually
updated, such as sports and news sites, sometimes trick the software into
thinking a new page has loaded. JAWS's humanistic voice hiccups every
time the antivirus software runs, and some students like Amy Green can't
stand the robotic voice at all. "It is just too annoying," she says,
preferring to magnify her screen instead.


Eric Damery, product manager for JAWS, says that the program, which was
initially designed as a text reader for DOS systems in 1988, has been
morphed over the years to keep up with the evolution of the Internet.
JAWS now has an installed user base of 70,000 users, with an additional
1,000 users every month, he says. Although many commercial sites are
difficult for JAWS readers to use, the majority of federal, state, and
educational Web sites are designed to be blind-accessible, and Web
standards for accessibility like those from the World Wide Web Consortium
( www.w3c.org) also help, Mr. Damery says. "It's come a long way, but
we're not there yet," he says. "It's a big challenge for us as an
industry."


Google Clicks


Although Ms. Anderson steers new students away from complex sites like
Yahoo and Disney until they get more experience, at least one heavily
trafficked site is also popular with the blind: Google. "Google is our
favorite," she says, both in terms of its clean and text-reader-friendly
design, as well as the accuracy of the links, which help save blind users
the tedium of finding and clicking extraneous links before hitting the
right one. "It's great for sighted kids and its great for blind kids,"
Ms. Anderson says.


Google was designed with an eye on making the site accessible to a wide
range of users, including those with disabilities, according to Craig
Silverstein, director of technology for Google Inc., in Mountain View,
Calif. "If you start from the assumption that you need to make things
simple and easy to use, then I think a lot of these things fall into
place," he says.


Some tasks have become easier with the advent of the Internet, like
reading a Braille version of a book. Because Braille takes up
significantly more space than regular text, Braille versions of popular
books can require several volumes, Ms. Anderson says, and are frequently
too heavy for kids to carry around or take with them on trips. The
Braille version of the latest Harry Potter is three volumes alone, each
over 200 pages long, she points out. Now, students can find the Braille
version of most books online for free at Handiworks.com (
www.handiworks.com), then download the text to a memory card, which can
be inserted into a portable braille reading device. "There's so many
options they didn't have before," she says.


But all this technology doesn't come cheap. In addition to rows of new
Compaq computers with 21-inch displays and Microsoft software, the
computers in the technology lab are outfitted with JAWS, which, for
individual users, costs about $850 per copy. The portable Braille readers
start at $3,600, according to Ms. Anderson. The school's technology lab
has 17 readers, which can be checked out by students. The new version of
the Braille reader that Ms. Anderson wants, which includes a network
card, browser interface, and a Global Positioning System to help blind
pedestrians find their way to the nearest Starbucks, costs $5,700, she
says. "It's not cheap, but it's a lifesaver," she says.


And many say they're more than willing to put up with all the hassles and
the expense. Wayne Siligo, a music teacher at the school who is totally
blind, uses JAWS and his Internet connection to communicate with parents,
students, and even collaborate on new music compositions -- activities he
says would be nearly impossible without the Web. "It's like if you've
been riding a horse your whole life and then they give you a Ferrari.
Even if it's in the shop all the time, those three days where you can
drive it are great."


Write to Stephanie Miles at
stephanie.miles@wsj.com

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Read what satisfied Matrox customer, Steve Whatley, has to say about the PixelTOUCH feature and how it benefits him as a visually impaired user.

Matrox: How are you using PixelTOUCH?


Steve: I use PixelTOUCH all the time at home and at work with the combination of larger fonts. My main use for my PC is to telnet to UNIX- & VMS-based systems, read e-mail, run MS Office products, browse the Web, do Web development and other tasks. For telnet, I use PixelTOUCH at 2x. For mail reading and Web browsing, I use PixelTOUCH at 4x.


Matrox: How did you discover this feature? Is it easy to use?


Steve: I started my current job a little over two years ago. My desktop PC was (and still is) a Compaq DeskPro running Windows NT 4.0 Workstation. I like trying new things. I had noticed that this system's video card was an MGA G100 using the WinNT supplied drivers. I went to the Matrox Web site to see if I could find updated drivers. When I found and installed them, I discovered PowerDesk and hence DeskNav.


I found the little DeskNav window annoying, but I liked using the buttons to change the desktop zoom level. Then my work system was upgraded to Windows 2000 Pro. So, my system went back to using the Win2K supplied drivers. I used Win2K's Accessibility Magnifier. I got tired of the limited view of the magnifying window and went back to the Matrox site to grab the Matrox Win2K drivers for the MGA G100.


This time, I learned that I could use a hotkey via PowerDesk to cycle between desktop zooming levels (1x, 2x, 4X, 1x). This eliminated the need for DeskNav's annoying window. At this time, I became hooked on PixelTOUCH. I wanted to find an equivalent solution that would work with the Diamond Viper v550 (NVidia TNT-based) card in my home system running Win2K Professional.


I tried every freeware and shareware virtual desktop program that I could find, but none worked as well as PixelTOUCH on a 1600 x 1200 desktop.


Commercial magnifying software starts at $300 and goes up to $1000. I couldn't justify the cost. So, in May of this year, I paid about $100 for a G450 16MB LE and haven't looked back. As long as Matrox cards include PixelTOUCH or some enhanced form of it, I'm sticking with Matrox.


Matrox: What are the main benefits of PixelTOUCH?


Steve: It allows 2x and 4x desktop zooming. Technically, in magnifying terminology it is really 4x and 16x.

Source: Matrox PixelTOUCH

July 24, 2002 - Lunar, LunarPlus, Hal and Supernova versions 5.1 released!

Dolphin Computer Access has released version 5.1 of their software product Lunar, LunarPlus, Hal and Supernova.
Lunar is a screen magnifier, LunarPlus a screen magnifier with speech support, Hal a screen reader with speech and braille display support and Supernova combines Hal and Lunar.
All products run on Windows 95 and higher, including Windows XP.

New features in version 5.1:

Upgrades

Future map files will makes use of 5.10 functionality for monitor markers (speech) and Braille hooks. Dolphin are encouraging users of v5.01 and v5.02 to upgrade in order to take full advantage of these features. Mindful of the fact that many loyal Dolphin users have already invested in an upgrade during the last 6 months, Dolphin will be announcing a special offer for these clients.

Clients upgrading from v4 or earlier will receive a full boxed copy, including manuals and tutorials on audio CD. Anyone wishing to trade up to Supernova, Hal, LunarPlus or Lunar from JFW, ZoomText, Magic or WindowEyes will receive a full box copy and 35% discount off the retail price. Please call 0845 130 5353 for details or visit the Dolphin Web Site for more information and free trial versions.

July 5, 2002 - WebFormator now reads Flash-pages

WebFormator is a FREE add-on for Internet Explorer 5 and higher and runs on Windows 98 and higher.

WebFormator reformats a web page to A text-only page and lets you toggle between the original format and the text-only format by pressing F12. WebFormator uses Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) to reformat the pages and is compatible with most screen reader and screen magnifier programs. The result is an easy to read text-only page, that lets you for example read columns in a table in the right order.

Version 1.3 of WebFormator now also displays Flash pages! You have to install Flash Player 6 from MacroMedia.

May 24, 2002 - ZoomText Xtra 7.11 Released

AiSquared has released version 7.11 of ZoomText Xtra.
ZoomText Xtra is a professional screen magnifier (level 1) plus screen reader (level 2) for Windows 95 and later, including Windows XP.

ZoomText Xtra magnifies all Windows programs from 2 to 16 times, in all display resolutions and up to 32 bit color depth.

IMPORTANT IMPROVEMENTS IN VERSION 7.11 ARE:

Read the complete list of the ZoomText 7.11 release notes.

Licensed users of ZoomText Xtra 7.10 can update to ZoomText 7.11 for free.
Click here for a FREE update of ZoomText 7.11.
Click here to download a FREE 30 days trial version of ZoomText 7.11

March 7, 2002 - Important update of Supernova 5.02 Released!

Dolphin Computer Access has released version 5.02 of Supernova.

Supernova is a combined product, including the screen reader Hal, the screen magnifier Lunar and the software based speech synthesizer Orpheus.
Supernova runs on any Windows platform including Windows XP and includes features like screen magnification up to 32 times in different magnification modes (full screen, split-screen), document read, that reads aloud entire documents, e-mailmessages and web pages in a logical order, virual focus mode to give users access to all parts in a applications and much more.

After Supernova was released in December 2001, the product was criticised by magnifiers.org and a lot of Supernova users, because of the remaining bugs in the product.

By releasing Supernova 5.02, Dolphin solved 99% of the bugs reported to Dolphin by The Screen Magnifiers Homepage and it includes a lot of improvements suggested by me.

With the release of version 5.02, Supernova again is a competative screen reader program!

Related links:

January 18, 2002 - Responce from Microsoft's Accessible Technology Group (ATG) to GDI+ article

Microsoft's Accessible Technology Group (ATG) has responded to my article New Microsoft GDI+ Technology causes inaccessibility for users of Commercial Screen Magnifiers.
In this responce Microsoft's ATG brings some "misconceptions" in this article to my attention.

I agree with Microsoft, that users of screen readers meet no or less problems in practice by using Office XP. Also users of commercial screen magnifiers - like Lunar, MAGic and ZoomText - not using graphics in Office XP - do not meet much problems. But their statement "to date, we have not indentified any problems related to GDI+ that impact screen readers or orther AT products.", is contradictory with the statement on their own web site "Office XP uses GDI+ for text in some limited scenarios, such as for text boxes that display text to select and replace. After a user clicks in the text box and replaces the default text, the new text is displayed using GDI (which is accessible). Screen reader applications will run into problems with the lack of GDI+ accessibility in these limited cases."

Users of commercial screen magnifiers using the latest versions of PowerPoint, Visio or Office XP and use graphics will meet a lot of problems, caused by the new GDI+ technology of Microsoft. They are adviced not to use these products, until this problem has been solved.

In the responce from Microsoft's ATG you can read, that they think to come with a solution for this problem within next month. It depends on the kind of solution and the work this means for the AT Vendors, how long it takes before this problem is solved for the users of commercial screen magnifiers.

In the responce you can also read, that Microsoft's ATG is continue communicating with Microsoft developement and AT Vendors.
Microsoft's ATG says "AT Vendors were alerted to the changes introduced in GDI+ in June 2001 to give them as much advance notice as possible". Office XP contains GDI+ and the code for that was finalised on March 5th 2001 and released at the end of May. So, Microsoft's idea of "as much advance notice as possible" means just after the product was released.

I do not change my opinion, that Microsoft's ATG had to distinguish this problem in a much earlier stage in the developement of new products!

Microsoft is working close with the AT Vendors to define a standard interface to collect graphical data. Such an interface has high inpact on Windows and AT products like screen readers and screen magnifiers. But in my opinion this is the only solution for this kind of problems in the future.

Click here to read the responce of Microsoft's Accessible Technology Group on the GDI+ article

December 17, 2001 - ZoomText Xtra 7.1 and BigShot 2.1 Released!

AiSquared has released version 7.1 of ZoomText Xtra and version 2.1 of BigShot! Due to delays in CD production ZoomText Xtra 7.1 and BigShot 2.1 will not begin shipping until the 2nd week January. However, a free 30 days trial of ZoomText 7.1 will be available this week.

ZoomText Xtra is a professional screen magnifier for all Windows operating systems, that magnifies all Windows programs from 2 to 16 times in any display resolution up to 32-bit color depth.
There are two different versions of ZoomText Xtra 7.1:

Licensed users of ZoomText Xtra 7 level 1 can upgrade to version 7.1 for $50. Licensed users of ZoomText Xtra level 1 version 6 or earlier, can upgrade to version 7.1 level 1 for $99.

ZoomText Xtra 7.1 level 1 cost $395, ZoomText Xtra level 2 including magnification plus screen reading (speech support) cost $595.
Licensed users of ZoomText Xtra version 7 level 2, can upgrade to version 7.1 level 2 for $75. Licensed users of version 6 level 2 or earlier version of ZoomText, can upgrade to version 7.1 for $149.

BigShot is an easy-to-use screen magnifier, that allows users to fine tune the screen for more comfortable viewing.

BigShot can magnify all Windows applications from 105% to 200% in 20 steps. BigShot tracks on mouse movement, keyboard input and highlighted items.
It is designed to work on Laptops, Desktops and LCD projectors.

BigShot 2.1 costs $99. Licensed users of Bigshot can upgrade to version 2.1 for $25.

December 16, 2001 - ZoomText Xtra from AiSquared wins AWARD for the Best Screen Magnifier for Windows, in 2001

For the fourth time, ZoomText Xtra from AiSquared, recieves the AWARD for the best screen magnifier for Windows.

The AWARD is an anual event organised by The Screen Magnifiers Homepage. Visirots to this web site can vote on the screen magnifier, that in their opinion is the best one.

In 2001 a total of 160 visitors take part in the poll. 48.8 % gave their vote to ZoomText Xtra.

The poll for the Best Screen Magnifier for Windows, was held in 1998 for the first time and ZoomText received the AWARD since then every year.

The major loser in the poll of 2001, is Dolphin Computer Access, with their product range Lunar, LunarPlus and Supernova. The Dolphin products this year received 22.5%, nearly 20% less than in 2000.

Interesting in the poll of 2001, is also the growth in popularity of MAGic from Freedom Scientific.

MAGic got 15% more votes in 2001, than they got in 2000. Also if we keep in mind, that MAGic version 8, was matched with LP-Windows this year, MAGic still won 10% this year.

Because of the decreasing popularity of the Dolphin products, Lunar, LunarPlus and Supernova all other screen magnifiers had an increasing popularity in 2001.

One of the reasons of the losing popularity of the Dolphin products in the 2001 poll, maybe the fact, that they tried to influence the poll rusults by letting their employees vote on their own products in previous polls?

December 3, Version 5.01 of Dolphin Products Released!

Dolphin Computer Access has released verion 5.01 of their product range Lunar, LunarPlus, Hal and Supernova.

lunar is a professional screen magnifier, that runs on all Windows operating system. It can magnify from 2 to 32 times. LunarPlus adds speech to the screen magnifier Lunar. Hal is Dolphin's screen reader with speech and braille suport. Supernova combines screen magnification and screen reading.

Click here to read what is new in version 5

April 13, 20001 - ZoomText Xtra 7.06 Released

AiSquared has released version 7.06 of the professional screen magnifier with speech support ZoomText Xtra.

Version 7.06 is a free update for ZoomText Xtra 7.x users and includes some minor enhancements and bug fixes.

March 11, 20001 - Freedom Scientificbrings clearness in LP-Windows affair

Freedom Scientific has brought clearness in the LP-Windows affair. In a message on the magnifiers listing Dusty Voorhees, product manager of Freedom Scientific, answered most questions asked by The Screen Magnifiers Homepage.

Click here to read this message

March 3, 20001 - Open letter from AiSquared to Customers, Partners and Dealers

A lot of ZoomText users, combine this screen magnifier with a screen reader from another company. AiSquared - makers of ZoomText - spend a lot of time and money to make ZoomText compatible with those screen reader programs. Last months AiSquared got complaints from ZoomText users about the poor technical support they got from these screen reader companies.

Some ZoomText users reported, that the technical support of these companies never heard of ZoomText! This says enough about the quality of those technical support, because ZoomText is the leading screen magnifier on the world. Below is an open letter from AiSquared about this topic. It is only a pitty that they do not mentioned names of those company.

If you get poor technical support on your accessibility features, please let me know and I shal publish their names. So that others know, that they better can not buy any products from those companies.

An Open Letter to All Ai Squared Customers and Dealer-Partners:

Many of you use a stand-alone screen reader alongside ZoomText. Recognizing this, we have worked hard to make ZoomText compatible with other firms' screen readers. We've also strived to ensure that our support team is up-to-speed on other products you may rely upon.

Over the past few months, a number of you have come to us frustrated over the technical support that you have been receiving from the other end - from screen reader providers. While GW Micro has always worked with us to support users that take advantage of ZoomText and WindowEyes together, some of you have been told by other providers that they have never heard of ZoomText, or that ZoomText is not compatible with your screen reader. As the leading provider of accessibility solutions for low vision computer users, we are surprised to hear that other firms in our industry have not taken the time to inform their technical support staffs about the large audience of users that depend on our products. And as a firm that invests more than half of its development effort into compatibility, we would like to make clear that ZoomText is built to work with whatever screen reader you choose to use with it.

As some of you may know, we will release ZoomText 8 during 2001. ZoomText 8 will go beyond version 7's integration of magnification and reading, allowing many of you to take advantage of a single product for all of your speech and magnification needs. Of course, we will continue to ensure compatibility with other screen readers and be more than happy to field your technical support questions on these issues even after ZoomText 8 launches.

In the meantime, if you have questions about using your current version of ZoomText with a screen reader, please take advantage of our free, unlimited technical support. We promise not to tell you that we've never heard of the screen reader you depend upon.

- The Ai Squared Team

February 19, 2001 - Freedom Scientific confirms over taking LP-Windows

Freedom Scientific has confirmed, that Dan Simkovitz and Dominic Burdick joined the developement team of Henter-Joyce prior to the merger of Henter-Joyce, Arkenstone and Blazie in Freedom Scientific.

In a message on the magnifiers listing Dusty Voorhees, product manager of Freedom Scientific wrote:

Since this was integral to the development of MAGic 8.0, which was unannounced at the time, we did not make an announcement and tip our hand to competitive products. In October 2000 we revealed MAGic 8.0 and announced Dan and Dominic as part of the Freedom Scientific team. We did this in formal presentations at Closing the Gap as well as in our catalog, which was released at the same time. The catalog announces their joining the team in the following way: "The developers of MAGic and LP Windows have joined forces under Freedom Scientific to bring you a new experience in magnification software. MAGic 8.0 combines the popular magnification and JAWS inspired features of MAGic with the usability of the LP Windows magnification and speech program to provide an all-new look and feel for both LP Windows and MAGic users."

If the developers of LP-Windows joined Freedom Scientific and merge LP-Windows and MAGic to a new MAGic release, the question remains: who is responsible for support on previous releases of LP-Windows? Where can LP-Windows users get support. And why are bugs in LP-Windows 7.1 never be solved?

As long Freedom Scientific shows this kind of arrogance to end users I can only advice people who are looking for a screen magnifier to be careful buying products from this company. There are good alternatives!

February 15, 2001 - Rumour says no future for LP-Windows

Dan Simkowitz developer of LP Windows and Freedom Scientific, developer of MAGic, do not comment on messages about this topic, send to them by The Screen Magnifiers Homepage.

The Screen Magnifiers Homepage has good indications, that Freedom Scientific has bought LP-Windows and uses the assessment of Dan Simkowitz in developing MAGic version 8.

LP-Windows and MAGic are both professional screen magnifiers for Windows. The latest release of LP-Windows is 7.1 and only runs on Windows 95/98. There are versions with and without speech support. MAGic is a professional screen magnifier for Windows. The latest MAGic 8 version only runs on Windows 95/98/ME. MAGic 8 for Windows NT/2000 is sceduled to be released later this year.
MAGic 8 is the first release, that also includes speech support and people can buy versions with and without speech.

Why is The Screen Magnifiers Homepage thinking that there is no future for LP-Windows?

  1. On the web site of Henter-Joyce you can read that there is special upgrade offer for customers of LP-Windows.
    Why should there a special upgrade offer for LP-Windows users and not for users of other professional screen magnifiers?
    I asked Freedom Scientific this question and also asked them why they think customers of LP-Windows should upgrade to MAGic 8. In my opinion MAGic 8 is not a better product than LP-Windows. So, why should customers of LP-Windows pay $75 or more for a product that is not better?
  2. Why is it, that I found the same bugs already known in LP-Windows, also in MAGic?
    The Document Read feature in MAGic 8 is highly improved and now works exactly the same as in LP-Windows including with the same bugs. Sometimes while reading a web page in Internet Explorer the program generate an automatic click on a hyperlink, so that a new web page is loaded in the browser, that the user does not want?
  3. Why is it, that the latest release of MAGic has the version number 8 instead of 7, while the previous version of MAGic has number 6.2? Is this because MAGic 8 is an upgrade of LP-Windows 7.1 and MAGic 6.2?
  4. Why did the developer of LP-Windows Dan Simkowitz does not comment on bug reports, that The Screen Magnifiers Homepage found in LP-Windows 7.1? Is that because he was working on MAGic 8?
  5. Why is it, that no messages from The Screen Magnifiers Homepage about this topic are replied?

But there is more!

Good informed people in the industry of accessibility features confirmed to The Screen Magnifiers Homepage, that programmers of LP-Windows worked for Freedom Scientific in the MAGic 8 release!

What I dislike about this is:

So, after reading this be not surprised, if Freedom Scientific announces that they bought the LP-Windows rights.

January 29, 2001 - Magic 8 for Windows 95/98/ME Released

Freedom Scientific has released version 8 of Magic for Windows 95/98/ME.
Magic 8 is a professional screen magnifier plus screen reader (speech support), that magnifies all your windows applications from 2 to 16 times in any display resolution up to 32 color depth.

Important features in MAGic 8 are:

MAGic 8 is the first release of this screen magnifier, that includes speech support.
Dialog windows, menus and controls are spoken out by MAGic. With the Document Read feature you can listen to your E-Mail messages, documents or favorite web pages. MAGic speaks tables on the Internet aloud column by column. This highly improves accessibility to the Internet, because a lot of web pages include tables for lay-out reasons.
MAGic also include features like typing echo and mouse echo.
Also the compatibility of MAGic with Jaws (the screen reader of Freedom Scientific) is improved.

Any software product include known and unknown bugs. Some software products more than others. Also MAGic 8 is one of those products including some major bugs. Freedom Scientific wants to solve these bugs in later patches, but I want to mention some of those major bugs here:

This version of MAGic 8 only runs on Windows 95/98/ME. MAGic 8 for Windows NT/2000 will be released later this year.
MAGic 8 for Windows 9x/ME without speech costs $295, Magic with speech costs $545.

December 21, 2000 - ZoomText Xtra from Aisquared AWARDED as best screen magnifier for Windows in 2000!

For the third time ZoomText Xtra from AiSquared is AWARDED by the visitors of The Screen Magnifiers Homepage as best screen magnifier for Windows. Like in 1999 also in 2000 ZoomText Xtra received 46% of the votes.

If we compare the results of 2000 with 1999. The most important diffirence is that Lunar / LunarPlus from Dolphin received 41% of the votes. This is a growth of 5%. This growth came from LP-Windows from Visionware and Magic from Henter-Joyce that both loose 3%.

December 20, 2000 - Premier Programming Solutions AWARDED company of 2000

Premier Programming Solutions is awarded by The Screen Magnifiers Homepage as "Company of 2000".

The AWARD COMPANY OF THE YEAR, is given to companies, that distinguish themselves from others in making existing technology available for sight impaired people by making new products for bood prices.

Premier Programming Solutions surprises the market in 2000 with new, good priced and high quality products like the reading software products for scanned material Text Cloner, Scan & Read lite and Scan & Read Pro. The Doc - Reader for converting electronic material to MP3 audio in the background of your computer and their free MP3 Player with full keyboard support to play MP3 files on the computer.

October 26, 2000 - AiSquared announces VisualScan

Aisquared makers of the screen magnifiers ZoomText Xtra and BigShot have announced a new product VisualScan.
VisualScan is a software product, that let low vision people scan printed material and present it magnified up to 100 times on the computer screen.
VisualScan also includes automatic reading features and an easy way to fill out scanned forms.
AiSquared hopes to release VisualScan during the CSUN conference in 20001.
AiSquared is also working on a new product VocalScan. VocalScan will add speech support to VisualScan so that visual impaired people can listen to printed material, that is read to them by the computer.
Click here to find more details on VisualScan

July 31, 2000 - BIGSHOT screen magnifier, new product from AiSquared

AiSquared, the makers of the professional screen magnifier for Windows ZoomText Xtra, launched a new product BIGSHOT.
BIGSHOT is a screen magnifier for Windows 95/98/NT/2000, that magnifies all Windows programs from 100% to 200% in 20 levels of 5%.
The screen magnifier is designed to help the wave of aging baby boomers, seniors and those suffering from computer eyestrain.

BIGSHOT has less features than ZoomText, but includes important features like full magnification and Active Window Zooming, advanced tracking and manual scrolling. The new magnification technique that is included in BIGSHOT will be also included in a new major ZoomText release in the first quarter of 2001.
BIGSHOT costs $99.

June 19, 2000 - Microsoft licences technology to enable synchronised speech fo eBooks Reader

Labyrinten Data AB, a subsidiary company of Dolphin Computer Access Ltd., has entered into a licensed arrangement with Microsoft and isSound.com, that will enable text-to-audio synchronization of eBooks created for the Microsoft Reader format.
The text-to-audio technology will be included in future releases of the Microsoft Reader and will highly improve the accessibility of sight impaired people to eBooks.
The technology makes it possible to listen to eBooks and easy navigate through the eBook.
Click here for more information.


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