Adaptive Technology Comes of Age

Mimio Xi

This ultraportable whiteboard product was not designed specifically as an adaptive tool, but its features and usability have made it a favorite with adaptive technology experts. Mimio Xi captures up to 10 hours of data from a whiteboard and transfers it to the user’s laptop or desktop computer. Anything written on the whiteboard can be saved, recorded, or shared with Mimio’s built-in memory. Once the data reaches the personal computer, a person with a visual impairment can zoom on text, magnify the image, or simply read it close up. Mimio Xi also allows users to adjust the background color and the thickness of the styli writing. Mimio Xi uses a combination of infrared and ultrasound to communicate between the styli markers (which act as transmitters) and the mimio capture bar (which acts like a receiver). The device, 60 percent smaller than its predecessor, is compact and lightweight at only 18 inches long and one pound. Contact Virtual Ink, Boston, Mass.; (877) MY-MIMIO; www.mimio.com.

You can also find information about this product at www.adaptivetech.net, the Web site for Adaptive Technology Consulting.

IBM Home Page Reader for Windows

Winner of the 2001 DaVinci Award for Assistive Technology, the IBM Home Page Reader (HPR) brings spoken access to the Internet for blind and visually impaired users. Users open a Web page, and Home Page Reader “speaks” the text. This powerful tool speaks Web information as it is presented, including text, text in columns, tables, data input fields, and graphic descriptions. Version 3.0 features a newly improved interface as well as talking installation and a talking hands-on tutorial. HPR provides a simple, easy-to-use interface for navigating and manipulating Web page elements and uses the tremendous capabilities of IBM’s ViaVoice text-to-speech (TTS) synthesizer for speaking. Using the keyboard to navigate, a person who is blind or has a visual impairment can hear the full range of Web page content provided in a logical, clear, and understandable manner. Support for low-vision users also permits customization of font size, background, color, and other display elements. Home Page Reader is available in six languages. Contact: IBM (Special Needs Systems Department); Austin, Texas; 800-426-4832; www-3.ibm.com/able/hpr.html.

VoiceMate

VoiceMate from the French company Parrot is an electronic organizer that talks and recognizes voice commands. This talking organizer features a phone book with dialing assistance, voice note pad, appointment book, talking alarm clock, and calendar. A voice prompt accompanies every keystroke. The latest version offers 40 minutes of recording time and a nonvolatile flash memory; in other words, the data stays put when the batteries are changed. Parrot also includes eight volume levels and an earphone, which makes the organizer handy in classroom and library settings. A PC link facilitates storing data and updating software from the Internet. This handy device promises to simplify campus life; users can keep track of schedules, appointments, and phone numbers on the same device that they use for taking notes in class. You can find information about this product at www.adaptivetech.net, the Web site for Adaptive Technology Consulting.

StretchBreak

Developed by a team of health care professionals, StretchBreak software prompts computer users to stop, stretch, and protect themselves from repetitive strain injuries. Taking frequent stretch breaks increases circulation, relieves tension, boosts energy levels, and guards against injury. StretchBreak gently reminds users to take stretch breaks, providing animations of particular stretches to do. Users can set the timer for reminders at intervals up to 120 minutes and can delay or cancel stretches as they come up. Each stretching session lasts only a minute or two. The latest version, StretchBreak Pro, features a smart timer option. This modifies the intervals between stretches based on keyboard and mouse use. It also gives users control over the sequence of stretches displayed on the screen. A kid’s version of the software is also available. Contact: Para Technologies, Costa Mesa, California; (714) 546-8619; www.paratec.com.

WebABLE’s AccMonitor Software

WebABLE specializes in accessible Web infrastructure. Through its Web site and software products, WebABLE ensures accessibility of the Internet, networks, software, and the Web to people with disabilities. WebABLE’s AccMonitor software is an accessibility testing solution for Web sites. It can also be used in conjunction with Intranet Servers or File Servers. Using a crawler, AccMonitor tests sites for compliance with Section 508 and W3C accessibility standards. The crawling can be scheduled via e-mail or Internet. AccMonitor can be scheduled to crawl AccMonitor Webs daily, weekly, or monthly. Administrators can configure AccMonitor so that “e-mail alerts” are sent whenever files fail verification. The product ships with the ability to monitor two Webs. Related products increase the software’s capability to monitor three to 25 Webs. Contact: WebABLE; info@webable.com.

MathTalk

MathTalk, paired with Dragon Naturally Speaking, operates Scientific Notebook software with over 600,000 combinations of voice commands. MathTalk gives users access to all of Scientific Notebook’s powerful capabilities. With it, students and professionals can graph, compute symbolically or numerically, factor, combine, simplify, solve equations, and more. MathTalk also comes with voice commands that translate math into Braille using the Duxbury Braille Translator 10.3 and the Nemeth Braille Converter. Contact: Metroplex Voice Computing, Arlington, Texas; (817) 543-1103; www.mathtalk.com.

REACH Interface Author 3.0

REACH onscreen keyboard augments speech, a mouse, and a pointer for operating a computer. Designed for those who find using a standard keyboard difficult or impossible, REACH onscreen keyboard features word prediction, scanning options, Windows management tools, multimedia keyboard capabilities, and a variety of speech and speech augmentation tools. The latest version runs on Windows 95, 98, 2000, Me, and XP. Other new features expand the customization, placement, and graphics capabilities of the onscreen keyboard to optimize the user’s experience. Contact: Applied Human Factors, San Antonio, Texas; (210) 408-0098; www.ahf-net.com.

Kurzweil 1000 Version 7

The Kurzweil 1000 Version 7 is the latest version of the reading software for people who are blind or severely visually impaired. Kurzweil has added functionality in three areas: online access to books, educational tools that promote more active reading, and office productivity. The system also features a set of accessible text management tools for creating bookmarks, annotations, summaries and portable MP3 audio files. Designed to promote independent communication, Kurzweil 1000 can read text in English, German, Italian, French and Spanish.

The latest version features automated, simplified search and retrieval of books from online repositories. Contact: Kurzweil Educational Systems Inc., Bedford, Massachusetts, (800) 894-5374, info@kurzweiledu.com.

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