4.0240 Computing for the Visually Impaired (2/189)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 2 Jul 90 20:54:00 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0240. Monday, 2 Jul 1990.

(1) Date: Thu, 28 Jun 90 19:57 EST (34 lines)
From: Terrence Erdt <ERDT@VUVAXCOM>
Subject: computers for the visually impaired

(2) Date: Sunday, 1 July 1990 2:26pm CST (55 lines)
Subject: 4.0229 Notes and Queries

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 90 19:57 EST
From: Terrence Erdt <ERDT@VUVAXCOM>
Subject: computers for the visually impaired

Patrick W. Conner <U47C2@WVNVM> inquires about hardware and software
for indiviudals with sight impairments:

According to ads in BYTE, The National Braille Press (617-226 6160)
offers a publication entitled "The Second Beginner's Guide to Personal
Computers for the Blind and Visually Impaired," which surveys large
print display processors and voice cards. The address of the press is:

88 St. Stephen Street
Boston, MA 02115

The American Foundation for the Blind's National Technology Center
(NTC) maintains a user network of people who use adaptive equipment,
including computers. The phone number for the center is:
(800) 232-5463; the address is:

15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011

CompuServe offers the Handicapped Users' Database (Go Hud) and
the Disabilities Forum (Go Disabilities).

A message sent to the nearest listserv (e.g., listserv@villvm) can
elicit a subscription to Blind-l, which emanates from listserv@uafsysb
(that is, the Univ. of Arkansas Main Campus); otherwise, send the
message sub blind-l [your name] to listserv@uafsysb.

Terry Erdt, Villanova University

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------57----
Date: Sunday, 1 July 1990 2:26pm CST
Subject: 4.0229 Notes and Queries (4/64

A quick reply to Pat Connor's query about configuring microcomputers for
the visually impaired. There's quite a lot of stuff out there: you
might contact Project EASI (Equal Access to Software for Instruction),
via Jim Fox (I think that's right) at the University of Michigan, Ann
Arbor. I'm afraid I don't have their address handy. There's also the
second edition of The Beginner's Guide to Computing for the Visually
Impaired, available ffrom the National Braille Press in Boston-- again,
I don't have the address to hand (it's in my office, and I'm not!).
Telesensory Systems of Mountain View, CA makes a product called VISTA,
which is a screen enlarger, and a very nifty one at that: it allows the
user to mark an area of the screen for enlargement, and to toggle back
and forth between enlarged view and normal view so as not to lose too
much context (sometimes a problem with screen enlargers, at least for
me); it also allows the user to control the degree of enlargement.
VISTA can be used on its own, or it can be used in conjunction with VERT
Plus, also from Telesensory Systems, which provides high quality speech
output and thus reads the screen data to the user. I've just seen an
announcement from Telesensory that they're shipping a scanner/OCR
package, OsCar, as well. It's pricey stuff, though not as pricey as the
Kurzweil Personal Reader (a standalone device that includes, in the
top-of-the-line model, both a handheld and a flatbed scanner, and sends
output through the DECtalk speech synthesizer: around $12,000 US; they
make a PC-based version that's around $6000, if you don't need

There are other screen enlargers out there as well, such as the Lyons
Large Print Program (distributed by a programmer named Lyons, who's
somewhere in Canada), and others whose names I've forgotten. I took an
alternate route for myself, at least as a temporary solution: when I
bought my new computer back in January, I ordered a 19" color VGA
monitor: the larger screen means that text displays are larger as well,
and this is adequate for the time being-- it's the first time in years
that I've been able comfortably to see what I'm doing! As my eyesight
deteriorates, I will probably go to something like the VISTA screen
enlarger-- should be an amazing combination, between the already-large
19" display and the magnifying capabilities of the VISTA!

On the Macintosh I use CloseView, a screen enlarger that comes as part of
System software. It's not bad, I guess, but I find it very frustrating
on a 9" screen; I was recently given the use of a Mac II with a 13"
monitor, and CloseView is a little less claustrophobic there. CloseView
is a stripped-down version of another product (Enable, maybe?) by
Berkeley Systems Design; I've not used the full version.

In a previous message I mentioned several speech output devices,
including the DECtalk and the Texas Instruments Speech Board, and the
CoVox, and the Votrax Personal Speech System.

Hope this helps.

John Slatin, University of Texas at Austin (EIEB360@UTXVM)