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profoundly yours the abledbody blog

At the CSUN 2009 accessibility conference, Microsoft and the DAISY Consortium unveiled the next wave of accessible technology for people who are blind or print disabled. The new tools include the “Save as DAISY” Version 2 for Microsoft Office Word – the next version of this translator enables users to produce a fully functional “talking book” synchronized with text and MP3 audio right out of Microsoft Office Word. Microsoft also announced Project Buttercup, a demo of an online digital talking book that runs on Silverlight and allows users to display accessible documents right from their Web browser. To download the demo, visit ButtercupReader.net keep reading »
The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) 2009 conference in Orlando is off to a great start. I attended sessions on VoiceOver for iTunes, and Apple shipped in 50 or so brand-new Macs to demonstrate speech capabilities for the iTunes library, a new accessibility feature that will be rolled out by summer. A visually impaired attendee, Adam Gaffney, who works for Florida’s agency for blind services, whizzed through VoiceOver and pointed out potential goofs. I couldn’t hear on the available earbuds so I tried to follow along somewhat haphazardly. But it’s still a very cool feature. Microsoft presented the new built-in screen magnifier for Windows 7. A nice add-in for the visually impaired, if not basic. I also attended an awe-inspiring talk by Benetech’s Jim Fruchterman, who I met several years ago when he launched Bookshare.org, an audio book service for the blind that’s essentially like Napster for books (only he ... keep reading »
Before I start blogging about the gadgets and devices that I discovered at the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference in Orlando, I wanted to write about something I have been chewing on for the last 24 hours, which has ultimately altered the way I am going to approach my upcoming book, The Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology (due out in late 2009). While there were lots of cool, new technologies exhibited at ATIA, I also had the chance to attend a half-dozen seminars that, when tied all together, painted a fantastic yet mostly under-reported picture of the future of assistive technology and the driving forces that will allow people with disabilities — whether they are born with one, have been injured during a war, or are experiencing the effects of aging — to live longer and more fruitful lives. Here are five trends that today are shaping the assistive ... keep reading »
Sometimes I get Mac envy. Like today when I was switching between my touchpad and wireless mouse to prevent hand fatigue and cramping, I had wished I owned a MacBook Air, which has a giant touchpad and offers an easier, more fun ‘touch’ experience using several fingers. I began thinking about alternative mouse devices, especially for people with physical and motor impairments. For those with limited motor skills, there are a variety of options that have been around for a while, including the joystick, head pointers, Mouse keys and eye gaze devices. But the coolest non-mouse is known as multitouch, which was popularized by Apple’s iPhone, and lets computer users control graphical applications with their fingers. Touch is quickly becoming a common way of directly interacting with software and devices. Today iPhone and MacBook Air are used by millions of people with and without disabilities, and other companies are bringing ... keep reading »

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