edited by Sharon Strzalkowski
The announcement of products and services in this column does not represent an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its officers, or staff. Listings are free of charge for the benefit of our readers. “The ACB Braille Forum” cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned. To submit items for this column, send a message to [email protected], or phone the national office at 1-800-424-8666, and leave a message in Sharon Lovering’s mailbox. Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.
ZoomText Fusion Now Available
New on the market is ZoomText Fusion! It was designed for users with advanced or progressive vision loss, and provides the same features you’re accustomed to with ZoomText, plus a screen reader. Fusion is perfect for individuals who want a smooth and easy transition from magnification to full screen reading.
New features include:
- Browse Mode allows you to easily navigate and read web pages using a single keystroke.
- Page Navigation makes it easy to access any part of a web page.
- Tutor Mode provides real-time assistance and will give you a hint on how to access standard controls via the keyboard.
- Learning Center places text, audio and video lessons at your fingertips to assist in self-education.
- Setup Wizard allows you to customize how your computer screen looks and how much speech you prefer.
- Braille support provides ever-expanding support for popular models of refreshable braille displays.
VA’s New Rules Regarding Service Animals
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has revised its regulation regarding the presence of animals on VA property. Under the revised regulation, only dogs that are individually trained to perform work or tasks on behalf of an individual with a disability will be considered service animals. Other animals will not be permitted in VA facilities, unless expressly allowed as an exception under the regulation for activities such as animal-assisted therapy or for other reasons such as law enforcement.
Minute Clinic to Enhance Accessibility
MinuteClinic, CVS Health’s walk-in medical clinic, recently announced that it will be enhancing accessibility for patients with visual, hearing and other disabilities. The plan is designed to enhance MinuteClinic’s services and to remove barriers that may impede persons with disabilities from utilizing the clinics’ services.
As part of its plan to enhance accessibility, MinuteClinic will, at the request of a patient, arrange for live sign language interpreters, and will take additional steps designed to ensure that people with visual impairments receive treatment and other vital information in formats that are accessible to them. MinuteClinic will also assess the most effective method by which to obtain accurate weight measurements for individuals with mobility impairments who use wheelchairs. Clinic staff members will receive comprehensive training to ensure their familiarity with the availability and proper use of any relevant equipment, aids and services.
Envision Receives Gift
Envision has received a $300K gift from the Dwane and Velma Wallace Foundation to help fund completion of the Envision Research Institute, a facility devoted to advances in low-vision rehabilitation, launched earlier this year. The donation will go toward the buildout and furnishing of the institute, which launched in February and is housed on the third floor of Envision’s downtown Wichita headquarters.
Fidelco Receives Grant
Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation recently received a $20,000 grant from Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation in support of its Apprentice Guide Dog Trainer Education Program. Fidelco’s Apprentice Guide Dog Trainer Education Program is an intensive three-year program that prepares trainers to work with the school’s German shepherd guide dogs in training — and then, through the In-Community Placement program, to place those guide dogs with men and women who are blind and teach them to work as a team.
For more information about Fidelco, visit www.fidelco.org. For more information about the Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation, visithttp://partnersforsight.org.
And the Hands On Award Goes To ...
National Braille Press recently presented its “Hands On” award for 2015 to Connor McLeod, a 14-year-old from Australia, who led a national effort to change the way Australia’s currency is printed so that the blind and visually impaired are able to identify money more easily. Connor’s campaign resulted in the Royal Bank of Australia agreeing to add tactile braille labels to bank notes.
A New App Using Artificial Intelligence
Marita Cheng has created an app that enables blind people to have the world described to them using artificial intelligence. A video shows the reactions of its first users; you may view it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5g82YNmwmU.
She is looking for as many beta users to sign up for a free trial as possible. You can sign up for the app at https://www.aipoly.com/.
Ghotit Real Writer & Reader 4
Ghotit Real Writer & Reader 4 is the newest kind of dyslexia software. It’s also good for those who have difficulty with spelling. Ghotit Quick-Spell Word Prediction Algorithms (GQS-WP) are able to predict the word a user is typing even if the first letters are far away from the correct spelling. This is accomplished by patent-pending phonetics and context-aware machine-learning algorithms capable of guessing the correct words, even from severely misspelled words. The software allows the user to create a personalized word bank, which can then be used to create a document. For example, a lawyer could create a word bank of legal words and topics; a teacher might create a word bank for the subject(s) she teaches. The software supports high-resolution displays in Microsoft Windows and retina displays in Mac, too. For more information, visit www.ghotit.com.
J.D. Lewis has seven custom-framed giclees, including wildlife and art prints, available and ready for display. One is a portrait of a cheetah; another is called “Treetop Flickers.” Also available are Old West Coyote, Chilly Autumn Chipmunk, and Lost at Sea, among others.
Contact J.D. via telephone, (717) 541-0517, or e-mail [email protected] for more information.
There are now more than 1,000 stories to read and listen to on Storybud, the children’s story web site. Recent additions include poetry, stories, and Shakespeare’s plays adapted for children. There is also a new search bar on the site to make it easier to find your favorite stories, poems, etc. Check it out for yourself at www.storybud.org.