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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Important news for important consumers

Hey there!  I'm Alix Shadonnay at the business desk and it's time for our weekly feature.  Very important news for consumers with special needs.
Thank you for all of your feedback.  We strive to keep consumers with special needs abreast of breaking news in the fields of business, medicine, and technology.  We spend hours researching and gathering these articles and we hope that you find them interesting.
 
Table of contents
 
October 31 2007
 
1 City tests new "Navigator 2" crossing technology
2 Braille Institute VP: Cameron may be a door opener for the future
3  Perception, not sight, important in life
4 Chances instead of charity in Bulgaria
5 Accessible Media Reaches New Heights: CNIB teams up with artists from MaRS to deliver accessible rich media interactive vision health information
6 Enhance the user experience with the Java Speech API
7 GhostReader text-to-speech adds iPhone, iPod export
8 New technology aids blind sailors
9 Design Student Creates Innovative Guiding Cane For Blind
 
 
 
Surrey Leader, Canada
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
 
City tests new "Navigator 2" crossing technology
 
By Kevin Diakiw
 
An intersection in Newton chirps and the pedestrian-activated button vibrates when it's safe to walk, giving those with sight or hearing problems a safe signal to cross the street.
 
Known as the Navigator 2, the system is being hailed by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) as a revolutionary way to provide safe passage for the visually impaired.
 
In 2005, the makers of the Navigator 2 won the CNIB's Winston Gordon Award, which recognizes advances in technology that improves the quality of life for Canadians living with vision loss.
 
The Western Canadian distributor of the device is Newton's Astrographic Industries Ltd., which has sold about 300 to Burnaby, 50 to Delta, several to Langley and has provided a test model for Surrey at the Newton Wave Pool in the 13700 block of 72 Avenue.
 
While pleased that Surrey is exploring accessibility options, Rob Sleath, vice-president of the CNIB's B.C.-Yukon division, says this city needs to pick up the pace.
 
"Surrey has some (audible crossings), but they're way behind," Sleath said Monday. "The leading municipality in the Lower Mainland is Burnaby, no question."
 
Calls to the Surrey's engineering department were not returned by Leader press time Tuesday.
 
Coun. Bob Bose, who sits on the city's transportation committee, said he knew Surrey's road rehabilitation program was "woefully underfunded" but the accessibility issue is just recently coming to light.
 
"We certainly have a lot of catching up to do," Bose said.
 
As in most cities, the argument against wholesale installation is a matter of finances, Sleath said. It costs an extra $10,000 per crossing to install the Navigator.
 
Bose said the price sounds "very reasonable" when compared to other costs.
 
"The price of a full signalization of an interchange is probably $50,000 to $75,000," Bose said. "So this is not a huge add-on."
 
In either case, Sleath said he can't get bogged down in matters of cost.
 
"My job is to advocate for access, it's their job to control the budget," he said.
 
Sleath will be before Surrey council Monday afternoon (Oct. 1) to ask the city for a crossing at 188 Street and 68 Avenue on behalf of an East Clayton family.
 
Brenda and Gino Ciulla have been lobbying the city for a year for a safe crossing at the intersection, but so far, they've received no assurances.
 
Their 12-year-old son Anthony, who is legally blind, will need the crossing by next year when he goes to high school.
 
He's been told by vision experts not to attempt crossing the road without a proper light, or assistance from someone with good vision.
 
Sleath, who is totally blind, said he's been to the busy intersection, and even his trained seeing eye dog is reluctant to cross.
 
 
 

Charlotte Sun Herald, Florida USA
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
 
Braille Institute VP: Cameron may be a door opener for the future
 
The news of an 18-month-old boy slowly regaining his eyesight has rippled across Southwest Florida.
 
"That makes four children that we know of that have received this treatment who can see now," stated Chuck Johnson, vice president of The Braille Institute of Florida. The institute works in Southwest Florida to increase Braille literacy and encourage children with blindness and other learning disabilities to express their talents. "If Cameron is coming through that same exchange, he may be a door opener for the future."
 
The legally blind Port Charlotte toddler was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia, or a lack of development of the optic nerve, and traveled to China for stem-cell treatment the beginning of August.
 
"Hypoplasia comes from damage to the optic nerve," Johnson said. "It's not strong enough to carry the light. The only thing that can help your sight is to undergo this type of treatment. His optic nerve was asleep; now it's getting a new shock. This new shock is the stem cells that are from the umbilical cord."
 
According to Eric Stockley, of the Charlotte County Health Department, Cameron received a series of five injections of umbilical cord stem cells directly through his spine into the fluid that surrounds the brain. These are cells harvested from umbilical cord blood and not the embryonic cells that are at the center of controversy right now.
 
Each injection delivers more than 10 million stem cells in combination with additional neuron growth factor cells. These cells guide the stem cells to the damaged nerve cells, which in Cameron's case is the optic nerve. Once the stem cells have located the damaged nerve they begin to rejuvenate and replace and repair the damage.
 
After he returns to the United States, Cameron will continue to take treatments for another year or more. Also, he will have to undergo three months of intensive therapy to stimulate his sight. Also, for 12 months, Cameron must spend some time every day, five days a week, in a hyperbaric oxygen decompression unit. This is similar to what divers with the bends must undergo, but for Cameron, this therapy will encourage armature stem-cell growth.
 
What will this small success mean for future research?
 
"He (Cameron) is coming from scratch," Johnson said. "If he's getting stronger, it's because of these treatments. It's exciting news for us. We have a winning key on our hands, and the government is going to hear about it."
 
By DAWN KREBS
 
 

Oneonta Daily Star, NY, USA
Saturday, September 08, 2007
 
 Perception, not sight, important in life
 
By Kate Pavlacka
 
Would you rather be deaf or blind?
 
That was a question posed on a website I was on recently.
 
Most of the people who commented had zero faith that life would be worth living if they had to lose one of the two senses. I found the comments about blindness so interesting, though.
 
I'm always curious what people think of the life that someone like me is living.
 
Many of the comments expressed some degree of fear about blindness and others were grumbling ignorantly about everything that blind people can't do.
 
Nobody had anything but negative things to say about blindness, and I felt a strange twinge of amusement mixed with disgust as I read through it all.
 
I know, I know. It's scary to think about going blind.
 
I was scared when I was younger. Blindness was inevitable for me, although the doctors couldn't even begin to predict when it would happen.
 
I've been totally blind now for 11 whole years. And, it's been more like 13 years since I had any real, meaningful, useful vision.
 
So, maybe I've just completely lost my ability to understand how scary the concept seems to a person who hasn't had a firsthand encounter with loss of his or her vision.
 
Let me just begin by saying that being blind doesn't mean that your life or your dignity is taken from you.
 
It doesn't mean that you will forever be dependent upon someone else to take care of you.
 
It doesn't mean giving up your dreams nor your favorite pastimes. And it certainly doesn't mean that you lose the meaning and essence of life itself.
 
I'm certain that some people in this world, after going blind, will never leave their houses out of fear.
 
Others will be told by their family, friends and community that they can't become anything.
 
Those people will find someone willing enough to attend to their every need for years and years to come. It's sad, but inevitably true for some people out there.
 
Personally, I cannot imagine a life like that. The day I left my mother's womb was the day I declared my independence.
 
At this particular moment in my life, though, I have mastered living independently.
 
I do not live with my parents anymore, which means I pay my own bills, clean my own apartment, cook my own food and do every other task any other "head of household" does.
 
It's not scary, it's not really difficult, it's just part of life and I do it all because it needs to be done.
 
There are inevitably going to be things I cannot do exactly like a sighted person does them. I know I can't drive a car, but that doesn't stop me from getting around town by foot or by bus.
 
I can't read my mail or sort my laundry exactly as a sighted person does it, but that's what a talking scanner and a talking color identifier are for.
 
I have a talking money identifier, talking kitchen scale, talking alarm clock, talking color identifier, talking computer, Braille labeler and Braille note taker for school.
 
Each one of those things are ways of making typical life more accessible to me.
 
Other than that, I learn how to know things by feel, sound, touch or smell. You'd be surprised at the actions or activities of daily life that seem like exclusively visual perceptions.
 
Think again, though. There's likely some way, even if you have to get really creative about it, that can adapt it all for a blind person.
 
Enough about technical stuff, though, what about seeing the pleasurable things in life?
 
I do miss some things, such as seeing the fireworks and the colorful sunsets.
 
I find, though, that on the Fourth of July, I don't sit around pining away about the fact I can't see the fireworks. I really enjoyed them when I could see them, but now that I can't see them, they've sort of slipped off to take a back seat to things that interest me even more nowadays.
 
Things such as the outdoors and nature still do interest me, but I don't get my kicks out of watching a sunrise or a sunset. Instead, I find my interests have moved on to learning more about the birds I hear, as well as digging around in the dirt. You'd think I was a little kid again or something!
 
So, whether you're sighted or blind, it doesn't much matter, life is still a rich thing to experience either way. I might add, also, that experiences have nothing to do with 20/20 vision. They aren't seen, they are perceived. And, thankfully, perception is a universal kind of "vision." It requires nothing more than your ability to be living, breathing and have neural messages capable of running from body to brain and back.
 
Kate Pavlacka, a graduate of the State University College at Oneonta, has been totally blind for 11 years.
 
 

Sofia Echo, Bulgaria
Monday, September 17, 2007
 
Chances instead of charity in Bulgaria
 
By Boriana Parvanova
 
Habitat for Humanity Sofia
 
This is a story of two sight-impared individuals, their daughters, one renovation and a rare, unbridled enthusiasm for life, despite a series of difficult choices and challenges.
 
I first met the Yanevi family when they applied to the home renovation programme of my organisation, Habitat for Humanity Bulgaria, or Podslon za Chovechestvoto Foundation, which provides support to improve the living conditions of financially challenged families. Beneficiaries then pay back this interest-free loan in small installments over three to five years.
 
In 2007, Habitat, with an emphasis on energy efficiency, improved homes by altering the woodwork, improving wall insulation and enclosing terraces.
 
This family's story
 
Ivan and Roumyana met when attending one of the very few secondary schools for sight-disabled children in Bulgaria, after, at the age of six, Ivan lost his sight through a sporting accident and an unforgivable medical mistake. In addition to quality education, the school bestowed another dear present - his wife Roumyana. They couldn't wait for graduation and were married at 17. She comes from Koinare and he is from Pernik, but in search of opportunity, their joint destiny blew them into Sofia. When you witness their tenderness it is difficult to believe they've been together for 15 years.
 
When we visited the Sofia borough of Drouzhba for the first home-interview, Roumyana told me about their struggle to receive social housing. It took several years, many administrative offices and a lot of door-knocking to overcome the cumbersome bureaucratic procedure. They were happy to finally be placed, but a change in location was tough - especially for Ivan, who is 100 per cent sight impaired.
 
For him, moving meant a long process of learning a new commute by heart through recognising the curves in the pavement, memorising the sound of a particular traffic light and remembering where to cross the street. For nine months he needed assistance for every home departure. I had never imagined how only a poorly parked car could create unnecessary obstacles for sight-impared individuals.
 
When they moved in two years ago, the apartment was in extremely bad shape, so they began improving it little by little. Just when they were wondering how to finance the next renovation, a friend of theirs told them about Habitat for Humanity.
 
With Habitat's help, they decided to increase energy efficiency by improving the insulation on their terraces. The ugly self-made iron window frames, which let cold air and humidity inside, were removed. Now the balconies have become a shiny living space - with smooth white PVC window frames and colourful wall paper.
 
It would have been hard to repay an ordinary bank loan with Ivan's salary at the Ministry of Education and with Roumyana's student allowance. They felt fortunate to receive Habitat's help.
 
"We might have been able to do it ourselves, but not for a few years. And who knows whether we could have saved enough money for a house renovation," said Roumyana. "Habitat also helped us co-ordinate with a qualified and affordable construction company. They did a great job and were a vast improvement from our previous vendor."
 
Cosy and comfortable in their drawing room, I was curious to learn more about their life. Maybe I was asking too many questions but they didn't mind. Ivan became excited when the conversation turned to one of his favourite topics - the goal ball club. This game is specially designed for sight-impared people and Ivan is proud president of the Sofia chapter. He divides time between his biggest interests - family, sport and history.
 
"Goal ball is the number one for me," says Ivan, immediately adding "of course only after my family".
 
How they became
 
With a dream to become a lawyer, Ivan applied to law school with excellent marks. However, without connections, he was not accepted. Disappointed but determined, he joined the history department, where he eventually earned his PhD in history sciences and is now passionate about this subject. He has more than 500 books, which he scans in order to read.
 
Roumyana graduated with a degree in economics, and is now continuing her education, but along a different path: she is following a dream to study pedagogy for sight-impared people. The rest of her time is devoted to their family, and especially to their two daughters Anita and Viktoria. She seems like a wonderful and affectionate mother, demanding respect, but with a soft touch. A caring housewife, she is thankful for the latest home improvement.
 
The new window frames not only keep out the weather, but also isolate from noise. She jokes that now they hear the neighbours through the walls rather than through the windows.
 
When I visited a second time, I saw that Habitat's renovations were not the only new addition to their home. A furry friend met me at the door: Ivan has a new companion - a seeing-eye dog, Vita. Although a bit perplexed about how to behave with her, he is positive she will help him gain more independance and security on the street.
 
When talking about their life, Roumyana insists that their sight disability has nothing to do with their capacity for success and happiness. "What you want to achieve in life - it's a question of character," she says.
 
Ivan explained his understanding for life this way: "Don't give a person a fish, but teach him how to catch one himself." They don't like asking for charity but would like to be given chances. I was pleased to hear that, because Habitat's principle, to provide a hand up instead of a handout, stems from the same idea.
 
As I was leaving, Roumyana asked me not to describe them as heroes or to exaggerate their story. I didn't exaggerate but I cannot help thinking about them as extra-ordinary people. Not just because they are a sight-impared couple managing to live a normal life, but because of the rare love and optimism that seems to surround them like an aura. Not many families can say the same.
 
Boriana Parvanova is project co-ordinator for Habitat for Humanity Sofia. For more information about the organisation, go to www.habitat-sofia.org.
 
Habitat for Humanity Sofia or Podslon za Chovechestvoto Foundation, founded in 2001, is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to alleviate housing problems of economically disadvantaged families through volunteer-powered construction and renovation. By providing interest-free loans, Habitat Sofia provides a hand up instead of a hand-out. Since 2001, more than 20 families have benefited from its programmes, among them single mothers, sight-impared people and pensioners. In 2005, Habitat Sofia completed its first project, an eight-family home in the Slatina borough. Since then, it has focused on renovation and repair. It is now developing new projects to help us achieve a greater scope of influence.
 
At an international level, Habitat for Humanity Sofia is part of Habitat for Humanity International, an organisation that, through the help of former presidents, celebrities, professional athletes and community volunteers, has provided hundreds of thousands of homes to needy people all over the world.
 
Habitat for Humanity Sofia operates its programmes with the help of donations and grants. If you wish to donate:
 
Podslon za Chovechestvoto Foundation, Unicredit Bulbank Sofia, Hemus
SWIFT code:
BIC UNCRB GSF,
USD BG20 UNCR 9660 1166 85 2702
BGN BG78 UNCR 9660 1066 85 2709
 
 

Canada NewsWire
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
 
Accessible Media Reaches New Heights: CNIB teams up with artists from MaRS to deliver accessible rich media interactive vision health information
 
    TORONTO, Sept. 26 /CNW/ - September 23 to 29 is International AMD
(age-related macular degeneration) Week and CNIB has teamed up with medical
artists from the MaRS Discovery District to deliver a health information
website like no other. The AMD Challenge uses plain language and engaging
animations to explain AMD, the leading cause of vision loss among older
Canadians.
    The AMD Challenge is part of CNIB's overall aim to increase public
awareness of vision health issues and promote eye health. As an interactive
online tool, the site is geared toward the increasing number of Canadians who
turn to the Internet for health information.
    "Although we reach the public through many different channels, we're very
much aware of the growing importance of eHealth resources. The AMD Challenge
is one strong example of our commitment to making vision health resources
available to the greatest number of Canadians," says Lesley Wilmot, Director,
Communications, CNIB.
    The AMD Challenge, sponsored by AMD Alliance International, stands apart
from most other online eHealth websites, by using easy to understand language
and complementary pictures to quickly convey key concepts.
    "Online descriptions of common eye conditions often use complex language
and highly detailed medical images. With the use of plain language and
friendly animations, the site presents health information in a way that is
engaging and interesting to a wider audience," says Don Lawrence, Web Manager,
CNIB.
    The AMD Challenge was designed and illustrated in cartoon style by
medical artists Sonya Amin, Jason Sharpe and Eddy Xuan, founders of AXS
Biomedical Animation Studio, which creates innovative visual communications
solutions for the health sciences industry.
    "People respond well to cartoons," says Amin. "Drawing anatomy in a
cartoon style reduces the 'yuck factor' and makes the subjects more accessible
to the average person."
    The AMD Challenge is also fully compatible with special software
applications called "screen readers" which read aloud the content displayed on
a computer screen. It was designed so that a screen reader can "speak" the
text and the special embedded descriptions for each picture and animation.
Navigation instructions are also fed to the screen reader, allowing users to
move back and forth through the pages of the site and to highlight text and
pictures of interest.
    Embedding this degree of accessible functionality is no small feat.
Technology is still catching up to the need for accessible rich media (e.g.
animations) on the Internet; much online content either cannot be read or is
misinterpreted by screen reader software. AXS Studio worked closely with CNIB
developers to overcome technical hurdles and ensure The AMD Challenge would be
accessible to all users.
    The AMD Challenge can be accessed in a web browser at the following
address:
 
 
    About CNIB
    ----------
    CNIB is a nationwide, community-based, registered charity committed to
research, public education and vision health for all Canadians. CNIB provides
the services and support necessary for people to enjoy a good quality of life
while living with vision loss. To learn more, visit www.cnib.ca or call
1-800-563-2642.
 
    About AXS Studio
    ----------------
    AXS Biomedical Animation Studio communicates concepts in science and
medicine through animation and illustration. The studio is located in the MaRS
Discovery District in Toronto www.marsdd.com.
 
For further information: Jessica Parrales, Coordinator, Communications,
CNIB, Tel: (416) 486-2500 x7570, Email: jessica.parrales@cnib.ca; Jason
Sharpe, Creative Director, AXS Studio, Tel: (416) 673-6698, Email:
jason.sharpe@axs3d.com
 
CANADIAN NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR THE BLIND (CNIB)
 
 

TechRepublic.com
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
 
Enhance the user experience with the Java Speech API
 
By Peter Mikhalenko
 
The Java Speech API allows you to incorporate speech technology into user interfaces for your applets and applications based on Java technology. It also specifies a cross-platform interface to support command and control recognizers, dictation systems, and speech synthesizers. This article delves into the specifics of the Java Speech API and explains how you can use it to improve the user experience.
 
 
What's behind the Java Speech API
 
Two core speech technologies are supported through the Java Speech API: speech synthesis and speech recognition.
 
Speech synthesis
 
Speech synthesis provides the reverse process of producing synthetic speech from text generated by an application, an applet, or a user. It is often referred to as text-to-speech technology.
 
The major steps in producing speech from text are as follows:
 
Structure analysis: Processes the input text to determine where paragraphs, sentences, and other structures start and end. For most languages, punctuation and formatting data are used in this stage.
Text pre-processing: Analyzes the input text for special constructs of the language. In English, special treatment is required for abbreviations, acronyms, dates, times, numbers, currency amounts, e-mail addresses, and many other forms. Other languages need special processing for these forms, and most languages have other specialized requirements.
The result of these first two steps is a spoken form of the written text. Here are examples of the differences between written and spoken text:
 
St. Mathews hospital is on Main St.
 -> "Saint Mathews hospital is on Main street"
 
 Add $20 to account 55374.
 -> "Add twenty dollars to account five five, three seven four."The remaining steps convert the spoken text to speech:
 
Text-to-phoneme conversion: Converts each word to phonemes. A phoneme is a basic unit of sound in a language.
 
Prosody analysis: Processes the sentence structure, words, and phonemes to determine the appropriate prosody for the sentence.
 
Waveform production: Uses the phonemes and prosody information to produce the audio waveform for each sentence.
 
Speech synthesizers can make errors in any of the processing steps described above. Human ears are well-tuned to detecting these errors, but careful work by developers can minimize errors and improve the speech output quality. The Java Speech API and the Java Speech API Markup Language (JSML) provide many ways for you to improve the output quality of a speech synthesizer.
 
 
Speech recognition
 
Speech recognition provides computers with the ability to listen to spoken language and determine what has been said. In other words, it processes audio input containing speech by converting it to text.
 
The major steps of a typical speech recognizer are as follows:
 
Grammar design: Defines the words that may be spoken by a user and the patterns in which they may be spoken.
Signal processing: Analyzes the spectrum (i.e., the frequency) characteristics of the incoming audio.
Phoneme recognition: Compares the spectrum patterns to the patterns of the phonemes of the language being recognized.
Word recognition: Compares the sequence of likely phonemes against the words and patterns of words specified by the active grammars.
Result generation: Provides the application with information about the words the recognizer has detected in the incoming audio.
A grammar is an object in the Java Speech API that indicates what words a user is expected to say and in what patterns those words may occur. Grammars are important to speech recognizers because they constrain the recognition process. These constraints make recognition faster and more accurate because the recognizer does not have to check for bizarre sentences.
 
The Java Speech API supports two basic grammar types: rule grammars and dictation grammars. These types differ in various ways, including how applications set up the grammars; the types of sentences they allow; how results are provided; the amount of computational resources required; and how they are used in application design.
 
The Java Speech API's classes and interfacesThe different classes and interfaces that form the Java Speech API are grouped into the following three packages:
 
javax.speech: Contains classes and interfaces for a generic speech engine.
javax.speech.synthesis: Contains classes and interfaces for speech synthesis.
javax.speech.recognition: Contains classes and interfaces for speech recognition.
 
The Central class is like a factory class that all Java Speech API applications use. It provides static methods to enable the access of speech synthesis and speech recognition engines. The Engine interface encapsulates the generic operations that a Java Speech API-compliant speech engine should provide for speech applications.
 
Speech applications can primarily use methods to perform actions such as retrieving the properties and state of the speech engine and allocating and deallocating resources for a speech engine. In addition, the Engine interface exposes mechanisms to pause and resume the audio stream generated or processed by the speech engine. The Engine interface is subclassed by the Synthesizer and Recognizer interfaces, which define additional speech synthesis and speech recognition functionality. The Synthesizer interface encapsulates the operations that a Java Speech API-compliant speech synthesis engine should provide for speech applications.
 
The Java Speech API is based on the event-handling model of AWT components. Events generated by the speech engine can be identified and handled as required. There are two ways to handle speech engine events: through the EngineListener interface or through the EngineAdapter class.
 
You can get more information about any classes and interfaces in the Java Speech API JavaDocs.
 
 
Using the Java Speech API
 
To run a sample program, you will need a Java implementation that supports the Java Speech API. This example uses CloudGarden's TalkingJava SDK (although you could use FreeTTS as a free alternative).
 
 
You need two files for developing your speech applications: cgjsapi.jar and cgjsapi.dll. Before you start working with the samples, make sure that the cgjsapi.dll file is available in your PATH and that the cgjsapi.jar file is available in your CLASSPATH.
 
package jsapi_demo;   
 
 import javax.speech.*;
 import javax.speech.synthesis.*;
 import java.util.*;   
 
 public class WhatTimeIsIt {   
 
     public static void main(String[] args) {
       try {
             Calendar calendar = new GregorianCalendar();
             String sayTime = "Its " +
             calendar.get(Calendar.HOUR) + " " +
            calendar.get(Calendar.MINUTE) + " " +
            (calendar.get(Calendar.AM_PM)== 0 ? "AM" : "PM");
           
            Synthesizer synth = Central.createSynthesizer(null);
             synth.allocate();
             synth.resume();
                 
             synth.speakPlainText(sayTime,null);
           
             synth.waitEngineState(Synthesizer.QUEUE_EMPTY);
             synth.deallocate();
                 
       } catch (Exception e) {
             e.printStackTrace();
       }
     }
 }This simple program demonstrates the working of the Java Speech API by reading out the system time.
 
Implementations
 
The Java Speech API is a freely available specification. Here are three implementations:
 
FreeTTS: This open-source speech synthesizer is written entirely in Java. It requires JDK 1.4.
http://freetts.sourceforge.net/docs/index.php
 
IBM Speech for Java: It only supports speech recognition, and it is a pretty old engine.
http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com/tech/speech
 
Festival: This general multilingual speech synthesis system was developed by the Centre for Speech Technology Research at the University of Edinburgh. It offers a full text-to-speech system with various APIs, as well an environment for research and development of speech synthesis techniques.
http://www.cstr.ed.ac.uk/projects/festival/
 
Get programming tips
 
For more information about the capabilities of the Java Speech API and to get code samples, check out the Java Speech API Programmer's Guide.
http://java.sun.com/products/java-media/speech/forDevelopers/jsapi-guide/
 
Peter V. Mikhalenko is a Sun certified professional who works for Deutsche Bank as a business consultant.
 
 

Macworld.com
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
 
GhostReader text-to-speech adds iPhone, iPod export
 
By Peter Cohen
 
ConvenienceWare and AssistiveWare on Tuesday released GhostReader (formerly TextParrot) 1.1.1, an update to their text to speech software for Mac OS X. A free update for registered users, GhostReader costs $39.95 to register.
 
 
GhostReader lets you listen to your documents in naturally sounding voices in a language of your choice. You can use it to create audiobooks, speak selected text in a reader window, or use it with Safari by just pointing your cursor at the text. The software supports a variety of languages, including U.K. and U.S. English, French, German, Italian, Icelandic, Spanish and much more.
 
New to the 1.1.1 release is the ability to export audiobooks to a format that's ready for transferring to an iPhone or iPod using iTunes 7's AAC format. It's also been updated for Apple's forthcoming Mac OS X v10.5 "Leopard" release, improves PDF export, boost performance when working with long texts and makes other changes.
 
A Universal binary, GhostReader requires Mac OS X v10.4 or later.
 
 

This is Cornwall (UK)
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
 
New technology aids blind sailors
 
A cornish marine technology company has developed a guidance system for blind sailors which it believes is a world first.Fowey-based Triskel Marine Ltd's (TML) 'Sailguide' allows visually impaired sailors to navigate a boat with no external human help.
 
The system was trialled last week by blind and deaf sailor Tony Lawton with great success.
 
TML's managing director Ken Wittamore said: "We have been working on the system for the best part of a year and the success with Tony is a major milestone.
 
"Helping Tony to sail independently, despite the difficulties he faces, has probably been the most challenging job we have ever taken on.
 
"His perpetual optimism and enthusiasm have helped us enormously."
 
For the trial Tony navigated a specially equipped cruising boat so that his performance could be closely monitored. The next step will be to fit the system to Tony's Challenger dinghy.
 
The GPS-based technology is designed to allow sailors to steer around a series of special buoys using information provided by a computer-generated voice.
 
Once activated the buoy transmits its position and identity to a receiver in the boat which then calculates how far away it is and in what direction.
 
This is converted into a voice prompt which gives the distance and bearing to the mark. The skipper then makes navigational decisions based on information from the computer.
 
Tony Lawton received his voice guidance through a hearing loop. He said: "This is the first time since becoming blind that I have been able to sail a boat with no external assistance.
 
"It was a wonderful emotional moment when I first steered the boat around the mark and all of the crew cheered and clapped.
 
"I thought I would never be able to sail independently again, but using the Sailguide I hope to be racing independently again next season."
 
The hardware for Sailguide was designed by Omicron, which is based near Helston.
 
Ken Wittamore said: "The Sailguide technology has a number of other marine applications which we are already developing.
 
"As far as we are aware the system is a world first - other people have produced speaking compasses, but nobody has produced anything like this.
 
"The system's computerised voice was recorded by my daughter Jenny.
 
"We were tempted to call it the JenJen, as a marine equivalent of the TomTom, but we decided that might be a bit obtuse!"
 
 

Wired.com News
Monday, September 24, 2007
 
Design Student Creates Innovative Guiding Cane For Blind
 
By Jose Fermoso
 
September 24, 2007 | 5:38:30 PM
 
Are seeing eye dogs about to be replaced by the inventive new design of a student from Germany? If the Internation Design Excellence Awards are any indication of the aid-gadget future, this might prove to be true, but not without some howling from our furry friends. Sebastian Ritzler, of the Muthesius Academy of Art and Design in Kiel, Germany, created an interactive guiding system for the blind called Mygo that comes in the form of a cool, rolling white cane.  Some would go so far as to call the design 'flashy pimptastic.'
 
The cane is supposed to be tough, height-adjustable for men and women, and waterproof. But here's the best part: It includes a system with a smart sensor and camera combo that can measure the ground area accurately in real time and pushes auditory feedback to a headset. In addition, the mini wheel at the tip of the cane has a hub motor that provides intuitive feedback through the grip, doubling as a steering engine that can last about 6 hours on a lithium-ion battery.
 
All this would give people an excellent maneuvering system, especially during difficult weather. So this one could replace the regular old cane that a few blind people use, but can it move into the seeing eye canine's territory? There are many reasons why the cane couldn't fully replace the dogs but there's a really important one: Mainly, the cane won't hug you back or lick you silly. The positive social affect of a kind service dog is likely way too important in the lives of many in the blind community.
 
While the device has not yet gone to production, the creator is looking at an affordable option - one estimate thrown around is about 150 Euros  (about $200). The IDEA site lists a super -cheap option of about 15 Euros, but for the technology this item's going to be packing, that's probably a bit unrealistic. 
 
LINK: Here's the item page from the Business Week article detailing the Mygo.
http://www.idsa.org/IDEA2007/gallery/award_details.asp?id=66&cat=12
 
(Source)
 
 
At the business desk, I'm Alix Shadonnay wishing you a pleasant day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Important answers to important questions

Hello there!  I'm Matt Chadwick at the business desk and it's time to pull some questions out of our email bag.  So, here goes:
Question: 
How important is it for websites to become accessible to special needs persons?
Answer:
It's very important because with an aging population, more and more consumers are going to need websites that are accessible, easy to understand, and easy to navigate.  Many companies are still not paying attention to the sobering fact that our population as a whole is aging rapidly and in less than three years time, according to the experts, about 60% of our North American population alone will be made up of persons over the age of 65.  I dare say that companies seem to be ignoring this fact whether deliberately or not, I'm not sure.
 
Question:
What makes a website accessible?
Answer:
There are many factors that contribute to an accessible website.  Too many to list here but I'll give you some of the important ones.
Links should be clearly identified and easy to navigate. 
There should be textual equivalents to graphical icons and images. 
Background and foreground colors should be suitably used so as to provide adequate contrast.
Fonts should be appropriately set so as to enable those with low vision to see the text on the website more easily.
Forms should be easy to navigate and the user should be able to complete them without any assistance.
Appropriate headings should be used to clearly identify sections of text.
 
Question:
Is there any validity to the theory that accessible websites can increase revenues, lower costs, and expand customer bases?
Answer:
Definitely so.  Accessible websites can help to increase revenues because they attract more visitors and visitors love visiting websites that are easy to navigate.
Accessible websites can help to lower both external and internal costs, less website support is needed, and less technical documentation is needed.
Customer bases can easily be expanded through accessible websites because they attract more visitors.
An inaccessible website is one way to drive customers away. An accessible website is one way to attract them. 
 
I'd like to share an article with you that came across my desk this morning and it deals with those companies who offer accessible websites and those who don't.  Give a read to this article.
 

The Retail Bulletin (UK)
Monday, October 29, 2007
 
October/November Website Rankings of 100 Retailers
 
By Glynn Davis
 
Quote "In the US Target.com now faces a class action lawsuit because of its inaccessibility to blind people. More such actions are inevitable on both sides of the pond."
 
After a brief spell at the top of the table of the 100 retail websites tested this month Tesco's direct catalogue site direct.tesco.com fell swiftly from grace to be replaced by rival supermarket Morrisons.
 
This was a dramatic drop for Tesco of a hefty 17 places with a score of only 5.5 out of 10 compared with 8.3 last month. It suffered from a variety of failures including broken links and missing images that impacted significantly on the customer experience on its site.
 
The comprehensive list of 100 sites, which includes not only the largest players but also some of the smaller specialist online merchants, has been created by The Retail Bulletin and specialist website testing company SiteMorse that used its automated testing of the first 125 pages of each retailer's site to generate a ranked table.
 
One of the big surprises of the month was the move by Habitat into second place with a score of 7.85 having been previously excluded from the list because of its reliance on 'assistive' technology, which SiteMorse believes breaks the general "rules of accessibility" of internet sites.
 
Lawrence Shaw, founder of SiteMorse, says its dramatic inclusion in the list highlights how Java Script-type code at the front-end of a website can hide the fact that the underlying site is very good. "It can be frustrating that a good website can be underneath but this shows why retailers need to constantly check and test their sites," he says.
 
Shaw suggests that the appearance of Habitat, following that of Halfords two months ago, is a sign that retailers are now taking notice of how simple changes to their websites can make a big difference to how they operate.
 
The only website now excluded from the table is Gap following the replacement this month of Screwfix with Republic because of the former's repeat offending and the decision by SiteMorse that it was less of a major retail name than its fashion chain replacement.
 
Another example of a retailer that has clearly made changes to its website is Argos that has previously been criticised in this column for its poor performance but this month it moved up an impressive 44 places to 27th spot with a score of 4.7 compared with 2.22 last month. "The code quality has improved significantly and this has helped its performance. And the accessibility of the site is also up too," says Shaw.
 
Only 0.79 per cent of its pages now fail the accessibility test for visually impaired people compared with 66.93 per cent last month. This is an issue that all retailers should address because a failure to make their sites available to all people not only loses potential sales but could lead to legal action. In the US Target.com now faces a class action lawsuit because of its inaccessibility to blind people. More such actions are inevitable on both sides of the pond.
 
Among the retailers in the table failing the accessibility test are Mothercare (with 56.69 per cent of its pages failing) and Mothercare-owned Early Learning Centre (with 70.87 per cent pages failing). These contribute to their overall poor showing with the former in the 79th spot and the latter plumb last in 99th place.
 
What is surprising about these dire showings is that Mothercare has recently been hyping its social networking site gurgle.com. Shaw suggests that retailers are prone to put their time and money into such initiatives rather than focusing their resources on addressing the fundamental flaws in their basic websites. "Retailers are known for spending cash on fancy stuff when the fundamental building blocks need to be put right first," he says.
 
(Full top 100 chart on source page)
 
If you're seeking those services to help you make your website more accessible then please read the info below.
 
They call themselves a "One Stop Writing Shop" and well they should.  There are not too many companies around at present that are able to do this and do it so well.  The experts call them unique!  They offer complete services that can help you do research, write, translate and transcribe your info into multi languages.  For absolutely free they can help you to keep abreast of important trends and news items if you're either too busy to search for them or you don't know where to find them.  They can help you to increase your revenues, reduce your costs, and expand your customer bases.  They can offer you a free online monthly magazine filled with info designed to help you keep abreast of market trends and consumer habits and articles that will point you in the right direction when it comes to finding opportunities that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe.
To learn more visit them at www.sterlingcreations.ca.
 
At the business desk, i'm Matt Chadwick wishing you a pleasant evening.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hand sets for everyone? Could bring you much more revenue!

Good afternoon!  I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and I'd like to start the week by raising the very important question:
Why is it so difficult for manufacturers not to make hand sets for everyone?
Just think of the millions more in revenue that manufacturers can rake in if they only start thinking in this way.
Those millions of consumers with special needs, they're the ones that you are ignoring and believe you me!  They will come back to bit you big time if you don't start paying attention.
I'd like to share an article with you that I recently found on the Internet and I'll let you be the judge.
Here it is.
 

The Guardian Unlimited: Technology (UK)
Thursday, October 11, 2007
 
Why can't the phone makers build handsets for everybody?
 
By Lucy Glennon
 
Mobile phones are not just for kids, but the elderly and disabled can often find the newer models fiddly to use
 
For Vali, a partially sighted pensioner, trying to use a mobile phone is a challenge. The 65-year-old gets by using an ordinary mobile, but he only knows how to use it by touch alone.
 
"My wife has entered all the necessary numbers and I've memorised where they are on the speed dial," he says. "I can feel the number five button, as it has a dot on it, and I can feel the other numbers from there. For blind and partially sighted people, the next best sense is touch, so I know where the other buttons are by feeling from the top of the phone."
 
The problem of mobile exclusion is widespread. A study at Cambridge University found that 40 million adults in Europe (around 9% of the adult population) experience problems using mobiles, and the number of people who encounter difficulty increased with age. This has a massive social effect. While teenagers may feel left out without a phone, adults who could benefit greatly from mobile services can really suffer.
 
Special handsets
 
With the technology we have today, buying or upgrading a mobile phone that can cope with such needs ought to be simple. Yet for people with a disability that affects dexterity, vision or hearing - or who are simply getting old, with its associated toll on those skills - it can be a big problem.
 
For mobile users with hearing or sight problems, there are a couple of specially made handsets that are much easier to use, such as the Emporia Life phone. With large text and a high contrast screen that can be read even in bright light conditions, and with large well-spaced buttons, it is good for partially sighted people who want to use their phone for text messaging.
 
The Easy5 mobile is a much more basic handset that has five main buttons for pre-programmed numbers only, with no screen for texting or other features. For people with hearing problems, there are many accessories that can aid mobile usage, such as induction loops or hooks which can increase the volume and block out any noise interference.
 
Even some ordinary handsets have features that make them easier to use for people who may have sight or hearing difficulties, such as a voice that tells you where you are in the menu or phonebook, or which numbers you have dialled.
 
The mobile operator Orange is planning a service where the stores will offer third-party software for customers who need it. "We'll hopefully be able to work with the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) in adding software which will help users with sight problems, and our staff are being trained in dealing with such customers to help their needs," says Chris Smith, diversity advisor at Orange.
 
The network has a disabled user panel which tests handsets, rates them on a range of factors and forwards its conclusions onto mobile manufacturers. They can also give each phone a score based on how easy it is to use, to help people with limited dexterity choose the right handset.
 
Nokia phones use the Symbian operating system. Its open nature means programs can be added to increase the ringing volume to highs that ordinarily would be deafening, and make the screen and keypad lights flash to aid hearing-impaired users. A program that reads phone numbers aloud can also be installed to help those with sight problems.
 
However, if you don't have great dexterity, the best advice is still to try before you buy. It is all a matter of personal preference: what works for one person may not necessarily work for another, and while pictures of phones at online shops may seem fine, you can never judge exactly how easy they will be to use: buttons may be flat and hard, joysticks may be fiddly and stiff, and the flip design may snap shut harder than you think.
 
Changing designs
 
Unfortunately, as the features of mobiles are changing to meet the demands of a younger, tech-savvy market, the designs have changed too. In 2005, Vodafone launched an easy-to-use phone called Simply, which was the standard candybar shape and had large buttons. It was discontinued due to poor sales. No other mobile phone manufacturer has made a similar device. Instead they have ploughed on, apparently bent on making mobile phones for Batman or James Bond.
 
The only other option seems to be to try older handsets, which usually have bigger, easier buttons and are less fiddly and slippery than the latest models. But this can be a bit disappointing if you want to keep up with the latest technology.
 
The surest way to avoid the problem of exclusion would be to make phones accessible in as many ways as possible, so they could be used by lots of people with a wide range of abilities. The number of people using mobiles is only going to increase, and as the current adult users get older they will be left out as they cannot keep up with the constantly changing technology that meets the demands of younger customers. Because handsets are advancing, it doesn't mean the design of the phones should be complicated to meet with these changes too.
 
While it seems there may never be a phone especially made for such a small target group of customers as the disabled, phone manufacturers will just continue to do ranges that fit into certain criteria, such as ultra, business, sport, music, photographic, or the girly range which basically means phones with a hot pink fascia and a horoscope application.
 
The only solution is to shop around, and try whatever is best for you from the huge range of phones available and any accessories you may require.
 
Recommended phones
 
Samsung E590 One of the few candybar handsets in the Samsung range, it has a simple design and defined, easy-to-feel buttons. Available on Orange.
 
Nokia 1112 A simple to use phone, with raised easy-to-feel keys and a high contrast monochrome screen. Available on Virgin.
 
Nokia 2633 Has two speakers, and is one of the loudest phones on the market; a hearing induction loop is available. Available on O2.
 
Motorola RAZR2 V8 May not be suitable for everyone, but has a built-in voice which can read out where you are in the menu, and text messages. Available now.
 
If you'd like to learn more about consumers with special needs then please read the following blurb.
 
Looking for ideas and opportunities to crack the over 50s market?  The baby boomer market?  The seniors market?  Other niche markets?
Are you seeking opportunities in markets that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe?
Are you having difficulty keeping abreast of important trends and news items because you're either too busy or don't know where to look?
Then you need to visit www.sterlingcreations.ca and there you'll find a suite of services that can help you to get where you want to go.
From writing to research, and translation to transcription.  There is even a free monthly online magazine that is crammed with very vital and valuable information.  You can even keep abreast of breaking trends and headlines for absolutely free.
Check it out at your convenience.
 
At the business desk, i'm Kerry J Harrison wishing you a pleasant day.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Canada, the country with the most to offer

Hello there!  I'm Matt Chadwick at the business desk and I'd like to end this week by telling you about some very burning opportunities that presently exists to the North.

Yes!  Not too far away and close enough for you to seriously consider.  Canada!  Our neighbors to the North is a country that is just brimming with loads of opportunities for investors.  As it stands today, the Canadian dollar or the Looney as it is popularly known as, is trading at $1.04.  In other words, the Canadian dollar is worth more than the uS dollar today and the experts are openly predicting that it could reach $1.10 by year's end.  Investors are just head over heels in love with the Looney these days and they are trading in the green backs for the Looney. 

On both sides of the Atlantic the story is the same.  British and European investors are flocking to the Canadian dollar and as well, many American money men are doing the same.  What do I mean by $1.04 at the present time and $1.10 by year's end?

I mean that at the present time, one Canadian dollar is worth $1.04 US and by year's end it could easily be worth $1.10 US.

Canada is rich in natural resources.  Rich in oil, and its technology sector is rich with opportunities.  In addition, this country is very willing and ready to foster the growth of its small business economy and the Canadian government is not afraid to allow foreign investment.

Canada is a bilingual country with English and French as the official languages.  However, it has recently started to promote the use of Spanish, and it boasts very healthy numbers of Chinese, Asian, and Indian immigration.  All of this is helping to keep this country on fire and if you take the time to learn about our Northern neighbor, you can certainly be one of those who partakes in the big pie.

Canada could become your answer to investment opportunities.  Your answer to trying out a new homeland that's very similar to ours in many ways.  Culturally and socially.  Canada is not too far away from us.  Just across the borders. 

Give it some serious thought.

 

  It's time now for book talk!  Our Amazon book picks of the week.

 

Sales and Marketing the Six Sigma Way

by Michael Webb and Tom Gorman

We've chosen this book because it has something very special to offer.  Some very important strategies and secrets for the reader to discover.

 

Direct and Interactive Marketing: New Techniques for Fundraising Success: New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising (J-B PF Single Issue Philanthropic Fundraising)

by Adrian Sargeant

For those of you who are seeking ways to fund raise?  This is the book for you.  Lots of info for you to digest but info that's really useful.

 

Untapped Wealth Discovered

By Jeff N Marquis and Kerry J Harrison

A book that offers you very useful info on how to go about finding those niche opportunities.  This book is very well written and we highly recommend it.

 

I'd like to end the week with some info for you on how to learnn more about some very trendy trends presently sweeping across our country.  Trends that you can join if you're serious about discovering riches in niches.

 

At the business desk, I'm Matt Chadwick wishing you a very relaxing weekend.

Sales and Marketing the Six Sigma Way

by Michael Webb and Tom Gorman

 

Direct and Interactive Marketing: New Techniques for Fundraising Success: New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising (J-B PF Single Issue Philanthropic Fundraising)

by Adrian Sargeant

ready

Friday, October 26, 2007

Motivating women to greater heights

Greetings everyone!  I'm Jayna Sheffield at the business desk and it's time again for our weekly reature for women.  How do we motivate women to greater heights. 
I know!  It's hard enough being a woman let alone being a woman and trying to make it in the business world.  The thing is, and just maybe, women are not really looking in the right places.  Too many women are concentrating their focuses on the big companies and big corporations and for too many years they have found that there is indeed a glass ceiling for them.  However, here's the big question of the day.  What about going into your own little business?  I'm going to turn things over now to our resident expert Donna J Jodhan.  A woman despite her blindness, has managed to make it big as a business consultant, as an author, and now she's venturing into the Human Rights arena.  We are very fortunate to have Donna J Jodhan as part of our team.
 
Thank you Jayna.  Today, as part of my effort to motivate women to greater heights, I'd like to share an article with you that came across my desk recently.  I believe in the strength of motivation and I also believe that if women are constantly shown the way they'll eventually get up the confidence to take the big plunge.  So, here's my motivating article of the week.
 
Savannah Now, GA, USA
Thursday, September 06, 2007
 
Blind couple's answering service has got your number
 
By Robin WRIGHT Gunn
 
Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 12:30 am
 
Ever called a Savannah physician after office hours? Chances are good that Donna or Robert Culver took the message and forwarded it to the doctor.
 
The Culvers' business, Chatham Answering Service, has provided off-hours telephone answering for 19 years for hundreds of physicians, real estate agents and other businesses
 
Yet few of the thousands of patients, clients or office staff who interact with the Culvers are aware that their message-takers are slightly different from most answering services.
 
Both Donna and Robert are legally blind.
 
"My staff didn't know they were blind in the beginning," said Dr. Michael Zoller, a physician with Ear, Nose and Throat Associates who's been a client of Chatham Answering Service for more than 15 years. "The first time they came in with the (leader) dog they were shocked."
 
The couple met in the 1960s as students at the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon and married after Robert graduated from the University of Georgia in 1976. They raised their two sons and have two grandsons.
 
Lifelong activists for people with blindness, the couple is active at Washington Avenue Christian Church, where Robert is associate minister and Donna plays the organ.
 
"I was born totally blind," said Robert, 55. "I received (my) sight back after four cataract surgeries" before age 6. "I'm legally blind, but I am losing it again."
 
Donna, 54, lost most of her sight at age 3 days when she was given oxygen after being born four months premature. She lost all her sight in 1987.
 
Donna founded Chatham Answering Service in 1988.
 
"I had two line telephones. They had different rings to them so I knew who I was answering for," she says. "I had a Braille typewriter; it looks similar to a typewriter. That was all I had other than notebooks.
 
"I was pretty fortunate. When the lights went out ... I could work in the dark."
 
After almost three years of Donna working solo, with Robert helping out on nights and weekends, the couple decided it was time for Robert to leave his career as a horticulturist with Oelschig Nursery Inc. to help manage the growth of the answering service.
 
"I said, 'It's time to cry uncle.' I'm trying to raise two boys at the same time. I cannot keep a house, raise two children, run the business and not have Robert here, too," Donna said.
 
Chatham Answering Service operates out of the Culvers' eastside home, assisting 158 doctors and about 30 other businesses. Currently, the company employs six people in addition to the Culvers.
 
Their first employee was a close friend who was also blind.
 
"We try to hire blind people first," said Donna. "Then if we can't, we hire most of our people from Savannah State and Armstrong. We want to help them pay their way through school."
 
Over the years, they've had between 17 and 20 employees, of which four were blind.
 
"Technology has driven us nuts," Robert said. "We have had to learn and learn and learn again. Text messaging, alpha messaging, e-mail. We had to learn all of that stuff. But the sighted people did too, didn't they?
 
"We have talk software on both cell phones. Can you imagine? Blind people with camera phones!"
 
Voice activation, sound indicators and Braille computers are technological enhancements that aid the Culvers in their work and home life. Without warning, buzzers and bells sound off in different spots in their home and in the office behind their house.
 
"Everything ring-dings and sings around here," said Donna.
 
As the answering business has transitioned from relying on land lines to using pagers, then radios and then to cell phones, each technology revolution brings adjustments in how the Culvers interact with clients.
 
"One doctor may want to be paged; one wants to be called at home; the next wants to be called on the cell phone. It makes it more complex," said Robert.
 
For Zoller, what sets the Culvers apart is their personal service and commitment to their clients.
 
"Their business has become enormous because they are so popular," he said.
 
"If they can't reach you, they have numbers to call you at the gym or at a friend's. It's not just the mechanics of calling the doctor on the beeper
 
"They know a lot of my patients from 15 or 20 years and that makes a big difference, too.
 
"Nowadays everything is so cold and distant. So many times (the service) is a hook-up so it goes out of town. I like the local person who really knows the community."
 
Robert and Donna Culver met in the 1960s as students at the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon, and married after Robert graduated from University of Georgia in 1976.
 
http://new.savannahnow.com/node/355120
 To learn more about Donna's consulting company please read the blurb below.
 
They call themselves a "One Stop Writing Shop" and well they should.  There are not too many companies around at present that are able to do this and do it so well.  The experts call them unique!  They offer complete services that can help you do research, write, translate and transcribe your info into multi languages.  For absolutely free they can help you to keep abreast of important trends and news items if you're either too busy to search for them or you don't know where to find them.  They can help you to increase your revenues, reduce your costs, and expand your customer bases.  They can offer you a free online monthly magazine filled with info designed to help you keep abreast of market trends and consumer habits and articles that will point you in the right direction when it comes to finding opportunities that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe.
To learn more visit them at www.sterlingcreations.ca.
 
At the business desk, i'm Jayna Sheffield wishing you a very enjoyable weekend.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bursting news for language professionals

Hi everyone!  I'm Heather DeMarco at the business desk and it's time for our weekly feature for language professionals.  Thank you to everyone for their feedback on this particular feature and we encourage you to send us your news.
Well, it seems as if the news is getting better and better each day for language professionals.  It's a very healthy picture and I'll show you the picture.
For translators:  Many are saying that translators are playing more and more off an important part in the communication of info between and among governments, companies, and persons.  Without translators it is not possible to communicate in foreign languages and many global governments especially ours are spending practically billions of dollars to ensure that their info is translated to and from the most popular languages of trade.  I.E, English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, and the various Indian and middle Eastern dialects.
For multi lingual writers:  It's literally a field day for anyone who can write in more than one language.  Articles, blogs, Ezines, newsletters, and online magazines. 
For interpreters:  More and more work is becoming available to interpreters as everyone seeks to have themselves heard in various languages.
For ESL teachers:  They're in big demand as more and more Asians seek to improve their English skills.
For language coaches:  The sky is becoming the limit for these types of professionals as more and more professionals seek to perfect their written and spoken skills and various languages.
For anyone who can either read or write in more than one language:  Oodles of opportunities are opening up for you.
So, what do we have here?  Good news, and good news that is turning in to fantastic news.
 
Now for our news round-up of the week.
 
Centro Latino opens doors to community
Hickory Daily Record - Hickory,NC,USA
Latino children speak English and serve as translators for parents. Activities are geared toward bringing the Hispanic community together. ...
For more detail check out:
yhttp://www.hickoryrecord.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=HDR/MGArticle/HDR_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173353103194
 
Language Translation - Global Content Management : Moving Beyond ...
... opportunities and losing revenues in the process of managing web content on a global basis. Organizations without an effective global content management process risk having their branding and sales messages lost in translation." ...
What's New | Language Translation - http://blog.languagetranslation.com/public/blog/114459
For more detail check out:
http://blog.languagetranslation.com/public/item/186346
 
The Most Common Complaints about Translation Services
By mendoncahaley(mendoncahaley)
By Marian Marcinkowski Within past years modern electronic communication has created extensive business opportunities for freelance translators. They are able to reach clients from all over the world and perform their jobs at their own ...
mendoncahaley - http://mendoncahaley.blogspot.com/
For more detail check out:
http://mendoncahaley.blogspot.com/2007/10/most-common-complaints-about.html
 
Grace aims to create 150 interpretors' jobs
nebusiness.co.uk - UK
However, ITL's founder and managing director Grace Tia Bon Bon fears the government will begin cutting back on contracts with third party translators as it ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.nebusiness.co.uk/business-news/latest-business-news/2007/10/15/grace-aims-to-create-150-interpretors-jobs-51140-19951215/
 
10 Website Where You Can Make Money (Not Scams)
All languages are represented, but most jobs are for Spanish, French, and English translators. Sologig.com: This is a site where many different freelance jobs and opportunities are posted. There is no job bidding on this site. ...
Webupon - http://www.webupon.com
For more detail check out:
http://www.webupon.com/Money-Making/10-Website-Where-You-Can-Make-Money-Not-Scams.51957
 
IT firms looking to Malaysia
WA Business News (subscription) - Northbridge,Western Australia,Australia
You're reliant on translators," he said. The new Malaysian software will be ready for distribution next January. Also in Malaysia, Bentley-based ISA ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.wabusinessnews.com.au/login.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wabusinessnews.com.au%2Fstory%2F7%2F57633%2FIT-firms-looking-to-Malaysia
 
Open Source Mission
By The Hedonese(The Hedonese)
Mass Collaboration - We want to enable translation through the mass collaboration of volunteer translators. We believe the Web 2.0 world has opened unique opportunities for collaboration through a community participatory model. ...
The Confessions of A Hedonese - http://hedonese1.blogspot.com/
For more detail check out:
http://hedonese1.blogspot.com/2007/10/open-source-mission.html
 
professional certified Arabic translators
By waleed(waleed)
There is one Arabic translator doing both Russian and Spanish to Portuguese, one doing Polish and French, and so forth. Opportunities for specialization are practically non-existent: as a rule you translate what comes your way and that ...
English to Arabic Translators - http://english-to-arabic-translators.blogspot.com/
For more detail check out:
http://english-to-arabic-translators.blogspot.com/2007/10/professional-certified-arabic.html
 
Microfinance Meets P2P Technology
By Sacha - Virtual Words(Sacha - Virtual Words)
Kiva's Translation Program welcomes new volunteers, and is currently recruiting for Khmer and Nepali teams, in addition to the current working languages. See Kiva's Get Involved page [link: http://www.kiva.org/about/opportunities/] for ...
Virtual News (En) - http://virtualnewsen.blogspot.com/
For more detail check out:
http://virtualnewsen.blogspot.com/2007/10/microfinance-meets-p2p-technology.html
 
Technical Writing Conference in Goa
India PRwire (Press Release) - Gurgaon,Haryana,India
"The conference is also the premier forum for delegates to discuss opportunities and challenges in the Indian technical communication scenario today," said ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.indiaprwire.com/pressrelease/information-technology/200710175123.htm
 
When Your Business Is Small You Must Appear to Be Big!
We were exhausted at the end of each day from demonstrating the products performance features and benefits and discussing business opportunities through translators. We have been consumed with follow up interest and are currently ...
angykokkat's Xanga - http://www.xanga.com/angykokkat
For more detail check out:
http://www.xanga.com/angykokkat/622260309/when-your-business-is-small-you-must-appear-to-be-big.html
 
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At the business desk, I'm Heather DeMarco wishing you a pleasant evening.
 
 

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Important news for important consumers

Hey there!  I'm Alix Shadonnay at the business desk and it's time for our very important weekly feature.  Important news for important consumers. 
Thank you for all of your wonderful emails with your positive feedback.  We produce this feature because we want special needs consumers and other stakeholders to keep abreast of both medical and technological break throughs that directly affect them.  So, here now are this week's selections.
 
Table of contents
 
October 24 2007
 
1 Access to Internet banking
2 Lack of services worsens disability_ CNIB
3 Technology making work easier for people with disabilities
4 Blind to learn to speak Spanish
5 Gateshead Housing Company donation for blind
6      Dalton Motel Agrees To Settlement In ADA Case
7 Tech visionary
8 SolutionBase_ What's coming in Mac OS X Leopard
9 Bridging the digital divide
 
 
 
Date: September 23, 2007 10:45 PM
 
Malta Independent, Malta
Monday, September 17, 2007
 
Access to internet banking
 
A group of blind and visually-impaired users has attended an information meeting coordinated by the Foundation for Information Technology Accessibility and held by HSBC Bank Malta Ltd on the new internet banking platform being provided by HSBC.
 
These users have expressed satisfaction in the ICT accessibility awareness shown through this initiative. The desktop token generator being distributed to disabled persons who request it provides a bigger display and speech output.
 
The large numeric keypad could also make it easier for people with mild mobility impairments to key in pin numbers.
 
However accessibility is not limited to the token generator, but extends to HSBC's internet-based services which follow the web accessibility guidelines that are endorsed by FITA.
 
These guidelines are important in ensuring that ICT is accessible to all disabled persons.
 
Internet banking allows customers to do their banking outside bank hours and from any site where internet access is available; thus internet banking is particularly convenient for disabled persons who may not share equal access to transport services and whose individual impairment may mean that visits to bank branches, and the possibility of queuing, present particular problems for them. 
 
 
 

 
 Date: September 23, 2007 10:55 PM
 
ABC7Chicago.com, IL, USA
Sunday, September 23, 2007
 
Technology making work easier for people with disabilities
 
By Karen Meyer
 
September 23, 2007 - Reasonable accommodations allow people with disabilities to perform essential job functions, and technology has made it even easier.
 
Adaptive technology has removed barriers in the workplace for people with disabilities, which has been beneficial for the workers at Access Living who are deaf and blind.
 
Karen Washington is the job readiness coordinator at Access Living, and she is legally blind.
 
"Diabetic retinopathy, I think it's the most common cause of blindness in the United States right now," said Karen.
 
In spite of her disability, Karen is able to do her job using different technologies.
 
"The biggest one is a magnifier and a screen-reader on my computer. My computer can tell me anything that's on the screen," Karen said.
 
She also is hoping for more advanced equipment.
 
"Although Zoom Text just came out with a new version 9.1, and I'm trying to convince the people here that I just can't live without it," said Karen.
 
For deaf and hard of hearing Peer Counseling Coordinator Devon Washington, the videophone is a God-send. It's a phone that has access to either a sign language video relay operator or another person who has the system."
 
"What it does is, it really helps me to save more time. I can be much more expressive using my own language on video phone if I'm angry or if I'm speaking with someone who a service provider or an agency," said Devon.
 
Information Technology person Butch Lillibridge, who is also deaf, says the videophones are free to deaf and hard of hearing employees.
 
"There is no cost involved as long as you have high-speed Internet at home or your business, then, they will pay the equipment for the video phone is free," said Butch.
 
Another advance technology available at Access Living is the TTY phone that is located in elevators. It enables deaf and hard-of-hearing person to have access to a phone, in case of an emergency.
 
Butch is always looking for the technology. For example, there is a cell phone that also has access to the video relay service.
 
"And, we have different types of media player abilities in our cell phones that come through email, which is a wonderful version of voice mail for deaf people," said Butch.
 
The biggest challenges are not the technologies but the people.
 
"Depends on the intellectual level of the person ,how familiar they are with computers because computer can be a challenge if you don't know how they work," Butch said.
 
For more information on Access Living go to www.accessliving.org.
 
 
 
 
 Date: September 23, 2007 10:58 PM
 
Barbados Advocate
Monday, September 24, 2007
 
Blind to learn to speak Spanish
 
By Janelle Riley
 
For the first time in the Caribbean, a Venezuelan Embassy will be providing a course in conversational Spanish for persons who are visually impaired or totally blind.
 
According to the Venezuelan Ambassador to Barbados, Corina Russian, the course is being organised in response to a request from the National United Society of the Blind. The courses original design, she said, is to teach Spanish and promote a better relationship between the Caribbean and Venezuela.
 
She told the Barbados Advocate that the historic course, which is being taught by Bernard Cumberbatch, is designed to equip the blind and visually impaired members of their association with a functional knowledge of the Spanish language, used in everyday situations. She said, she hopes that at the end of the course, the 15 students would feel motivated to pursue it further and, perhaps, to teach other members of their community.
 
Cumberbatch, she explained, is trained as a Spanish tutor and teaches at the Barbados Community College and is also trained in Brailling.
 
President of the association, Roger Vaughan, explained that the need for the course came to the fore when members of the organisation experienced the language barrier while travelling through the Miami International Airport on their way back to Barbados, after attending a meeting of the Caribbean Council for the Blind.
 
He explained that this course is one step towards incorporating the visually impaired and blind into the mainstream of the society. As it stands, he said, the opportunities available to such persons in the wider society are quite limited, especially in terms of employment. He explained that while some of the blame rests with society, the visually impaired also have to be willing to take hold of those opportunities.
 
The blind need to make the decision to come out more to programmes such as these, to be trained and be equipped so that when they are given the opportunities employment wise, they can seize them. They have to come out more and be more visible, so that people know they are there, Vaughan said. Likewise, he said the public too has to be sensitised as to the needs of the visually impaired. Furthermore, he added that Government as the main employer should be leading the way in terms of employing persons with disabilities, regardless of their disability, once it is that they are capable of performing the task, even if in a modified way.
 
Additionally, Public Relations Officer of the National United Society of the Blind, Elvston Maloney, while commending the Venezuelan Institute for Culture and Co-operation and the Venezuelan Embassy for hosting the course, said that it is time that other educational institutions follow suit.
 
While there are a number of training institutions for normal persons, training for us also needs to be incorporated into such institutions as a means of integrating blind and visually impaired persons in the workplace.
 
We are employable; and although we may come out and get training and we may equip ourselves, unless the workforce knows for sure that we have undergone the same training and that we gel well with the general public, they will still have reservations. So there needs to be an all round approach to the exercise, he contended.
 
 

Date: September 23, 2007 11:13 PM
 
Midlands Housing (UK)
Friday, September 14, 2007
 
Gateshead Housing Company donation for blind
 
A £9,000 donation from The Gateshead Housing Company's Community Fund is set to allow blind and visually impaired people to take part in activities they didn't have the confidence to do before.
 
The grant from the housing company and its partners has enabled the Gateshead & South Tyneside Sight Service to recruit a development worker and help with transport costs for its Healthy Living Project.
The service used the grant to recruit Sheridan Dixon, who is visually impaired herself, and is investigating possible routes for a walking group, including Gateshead Quayside and Chopwell Woods.
Bensham Hospital, where the service is based, has also given up a plot for gardening, with plans for blind and visually impaired people to help create hanging baskets and potting plants.
There are 1,500 people registered blind or visually impaired in Gateshead alone, with over 60 per cent at retirement age or over. It is also estimated that there are another 700 people with difficulties who are not currently registered.
 
Sight Service chief executive, Sue Taylor said: "A lot of visually impaired people lose the confidence to take part in activities such as walking and gardening that they used to enjoy.
"It is important they remain active and still meet people while doing the things they used to enjoy, and this grant will enable us to genuinely help people in Gateshead and beyond to have a healthier and better quality of life.
"It is all about pulling together to involve people. Visually impaired people do feel there's a barrier that means they can't take part in things any more and with the help of this grant we are opening up opportunities for them."
The fund offers cash and in-kind awards from £500 to £10,000 to groups wanting to help improve the lives of people in the borough and has already made a number of donations to local groups.
The company's partners Frank Haslam Milan (FHM) North East, Gateshead Council and Morrison Facilities Services are also supporting the fund. 
 
 
The Chattanoogan, Tennessee USA
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
 
Dalton Motel Agrees To Settlement In ADA Case
 
The manager of a Dalton, Ga., motel has agreed to a settlement of a complaint filed by a man who is legally blind, who said he was denied a room at the motel because he had a service animal.
 
Owners of the Travelodge in Dalton agreed to begin accepting service animals and to post a sign in the motel saying they are welcome. He also must send periodic compliance reports to the federal government.
 
In addition, the motel owner had to pay $5,000 to the man who was turned away as well as a $1,000 fine to the federal government.
 
Rupesh Sheth said the incident occurred Dec. 26, 2004, under former ownership. He said the Vishnu Krupa firm bought the motel in December 2006 and is renovating it. He said the former owners, Billal and Ali, L.L.C., were assessed the fines.
 
Here is the settlement agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act:
 
AMENDED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
 
BETWEEN
 
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
 
AND
 
BILLAL AND ALI, L.L.C., AND VISHNU KRUPA, INC.,
 
OWNERS AND OPERATORS OF TRAVELODGE, DALTON, GEORGIA
 
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT NUMBER 202-19-113
 
BACKGROUND
 
This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, with the United States Department of Justice against the owner and operator of the Travelodge Motel ("Motel"), located at 911 Market Street, Dalton, Georgia. The Complainant, a person who is legally blind, alleged that on or around December 26, 2004, the Motel refused service to him because he was accompanied by a service animal.
The Attorney General of the United States ("Attorney General") is authorized under section 308 of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12188, to investigate complaints and bring a civil action under title III in any situation where a pattern or practice of discrimination is believed to exist or where a matter of general public importance is raised.
The Motel is a place of lodging and, as such, is a place of public accommodation subject to the nondiscrimination requirements of title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(A); 28 C.F.R. § 36.104. Billal and Ali, L.L.C., owned and operated the Motel on or around December 26, 2004, and as such, was a public accommodation subject to the nondiscrimination requirements of title III of the ADA at the time the Complainant was refused service. 42 U.S.C. 12182; 28 C.F.R. § 36.104. Vishnu Krupa, Inc., currently owns and operates the Motel, and as such, is a public accommodation subject to the nondiscrimination requirements of title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. 12182; 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.
Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities by public accommodations. 42 U.S.C. § 12182; 28 C.F.R. Part 36. The ADA specifically requires that public accommodations make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures to permit the use of service animals by people with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(ii); 28 C.F.R. § 36.302(c).
An investigation by the United States substantiated the Complainant's allegation that the Motel refused to serve him because he was accompanied by a service animal and determined that the Motel's refusal to provide service to the Complainant violated the ADA.
 
PARTIES
 
The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America ("United States"), Billal and Ali, L.L.C., and Vishnu Krupa, Inc., (collectively, the "Parties"). The Parties have determined and agreed that Department of Justice complaint 202-19-113 can be resolved without litigation pursuant to the terms of this Settlement Agreement ("Agreement").
Vishnu Krupa, Inc., the current owner of the Motel, has modified its policies, practices, and procedures, as set out in this Agreement, to ensure that individuals with disabilities who use service animals have an opportunity to enjoy and benefit from the Motel's goods, services, facilities, and accommodations that is equal to that of others. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12182(a) - (b)(2)(A)(ii).
In consideration of the terms of this Agreement, the United States agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or filing a civil suit in this matter regarding the areas covered under the Remedial Action section of this Agreement, except as provided in the Enforcement and Implementation sections of the Agreement.
 
REMEDIAL ACTION
 
Consistent with the ADA, Vishnu Krupa, Inc.,will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of the Motel by excluding or providing unequal treatment to persons with disabilities who use service animals.
Vishnu Krupa, Inc., will adopt, maintain, implement, and enforce the policy attached hereto as Attachment A to this Agreement ("Service Animal Policy") on the treatment of customers using service animals. Within ten (10) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Vishnu Krupa, Inc., will provide a copy of the Service Animal Policy set forth in Attachment A to each of the employees of the Motel. Further, Vishnu Krupa, Inc., will post the Service Animal Policy in a conspicuous area of the Motel near the reception desk where employees and members of the public can see it.
Within ten (10) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Vishnu Krupa, Inc., shall post the following notice in a conspicuous place in the Motel lobby where it can be readily seen by members of the public:
"Persons with disabilities accompanied by service animals are welcome here at Travelodge - Dalton, Georgia."
 
The notice shall be printed using a plain, bold font that is 36 points or larger in size on a contrasting background. A copy of the required notice is attached hereto as Attachment B.
 
Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Vishnu Krupa, Inc., shall train all of its current employees regarding their obligations under the Service Animal Policy and under the ADA with respect to service animals so as to ensure that persons with disabilities accompanied by service animals have access to the Motel's services in a manner equal to that of persons without disabilities. Furthermore, during the life of the Agreement, employees hired by Vishnu Krupa, Inc., to work at the Motel shall be trained and informed of the Motel's service animal policy within 24 hours of first reporting to work.
Vishnu Krupa, Inc., shall promptly investigate all complaints it receives alleging that any individual accompanied by a service animal was denied access or otherwise treated in a manner inconsistent with the Service Animal Policy while a guest of the Motel. Vishnu Krupa, Inc., shall maintain records of such complaints, the investigation conducted, and actions taken, if any, in response to any such complaints. Vishnu Krupa, Inc., shall make such records available for inspection by the United States.
Within sixty (60) days of the effective date of this Agreement and every six months thereafter, Vishnu Krupa, Inc., shall submit a written report to the United States outlining its compliance with paragraphs 9-13 above. Such reports shall include a summary of complaints received, the results of any investigations conducted, and actions taken pursuant to paragraph 13 during the reporting period.
 
MONETARY RELIEF FOR THE COMPLAINANT
 
The ADA authorizes the Attorney General to seek a court award of compensatory damages on behalf of individuals aggrieved as the result of violations of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2)(B); 28 C.F.R. § 36.504(a)(2). Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Billal and Ali, L.L.C., the owner of the Motel at the time the Complainant was refused service, will compensate the Complainant in this matter by sending him a certified check payable to the Complainant in the amount of five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), via certified mail to the address provided by the United States. Billal and Ali, L.L.C., will simultaneously send a copy of the check and the accompanying letter to counsel for the United States.
In consideration for the compensatory damages set forth above, the United States agrees that within ten (10) days of its receipt of the Agreement signed by an authorized representative of Billal and Ali, L.L.C., it will obtain the Complainant's signature on the "Waiver and Release of Claim" form attached hereto as Attachment C. The United States will mail the original copy of the signed Waiver and Release of Claims form to Billal and Ali, L.L.C., within fifteen (15) days of receipt of same by the United States.
CIVIL PENALTY
 
The ADA also authorizes the Attorney General to seek a civil penalty as a result of violations of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2)(C); 28 C.F.R. § 36.504(a)(3). Within ten (10) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Billal and Ali, L.L.C., will issue a check or money order in the amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) payable to the United States Treasury as a civil penalty. Billal and Ali, L.L.C., will deliver the check or money order to counsel for the United States.
ENFORCEMENT
 
The United States may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the United States believes that this Agreement or any of its requirements have been violated, it may institute a civil action in Federal District Court to enforce this Agreement or the requirements of title III, following written notice to Vishnu Krupa, Inc., and Billal and Ali, L.L.C., of possible violations and a period of 30 days in which Vishnu Krupa, Inc., and Billal and Ali, L.L.C., have the opportunity to cure the alleged violations.
Failure by the United States to enforce this entire Agreement or any of its provisions or deadlines shall not be construed as a waiver of the right of the United States to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
IMPLEMENTATION
 
The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
This Agreement, including Attachments A, B, and C, constitutes the entire agreement between the Parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, will be enforceable under its provisions.
This Agreement is limited to the facts set forth above and does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal law.
This Agreement does not affect the continuing responsibility of Vishnu Krupa, Inc., and Billal and Ali, L.L.C., to comply with all aspects of title III of the ADA. In particular, title III imposes an obligation to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures, when the modifications are necessary to afford goods, services, and facilities to individuals with disabilities.
A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be made available to any person by Vishnu Krupa, Inc., Billal and Ali, L.L.C., or the United States on request.
This Agreement will remain in effect for three (3) years from the effective date of this Agreement.
This Agreement shall be binding on Vishnu Krupa, Inc., Billal and Ali, L.L.C., their successors in interest, their agents, and their employees. Vishnu Krupa, Inc., and Billal and Ali, L.L.C., have a duty to notify any and all successors in interest of this Agreement and the duties and responsibilities it imposes on Vishnu Krupa, Inc., and Billal and Ali, L.L.C. In the event Vishnu Krupa, Inc., seeks to transfer or assign all or part of its interest in the Motel, and the successor or assignee intends on carrying on the same or similar use of the facility, as a condition of sale Vishnu Krupa, Inc., shall obtain the written accession of the successor or assign to any obligations remaining under this Agreement for the remaining term of this Agreement.
The person signing this document for Vishnu Krupa, Inc., represents that he is authorized to bind Vishnu Krupa, Inc., to this Agreement, and the person signing this document for Billal and Ali, L.L.C., represents that he is authorized to bind Billal and Ali, L.L.C., to this Agreement.
 

FOR BILLAL AND ALI, L.L.C.: FOR THE UNITED STATES:
 
WAN J. KIM
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
 
 
 
BY:___________________________
 

BY:___________________________
 
KHALID JAVAID
Billal and Ali, L.L.C.
1 Saddlebrook Drive
Rome, Georgia 30161
(706) 376-0100
Dated: ______________________
 

FOR VISHNU KRUPA, INC.
Owner/Operator of the Travelodge
Motel of Dalton, Georgia
 
JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
JEANINE WORDEN, Deputy Chief
ELIZABETH BACON, Supervisory Attorney
SUSAN H. CRAWFORD, Investigator
Disability Rights Section - NYA
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20530-0005
(202) 307-1378
 
BY:
RAMESH SHETH
Vishnu Krupa, Inc.
911 Market Street
Dalton, Georgia 30720
 
Dated: July 27, 2007
 
 

Ottawa Citizen, Canada
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
 
Tech visionary
 
By Bert Hill
 
Technology executive and investor Conrad Lewis knows a thing or two about vision problems, so he's putting his money where his eyes are, writes Bert Hill.
 
Conrad Lewis has great vision. But his eyesight, and the eyesight of many people close to him, is lousy.
 
So the successful Ottawa technology executive and investor is building a company to harness new technology to deal with eyesight issues.
 
eSight Corp. also has plans to market the technology to a much bigger audience: Fans at sports events. It could help a baseball spectator see a flyball in the shadows or strong sunlight of a stadium, or a hockey fan to plug into play-by-play camera feeds to see closeups of a favourite player.
 
The product could take many forms, ranging from glasses that look much like conventional sunglasses, to StarTrek-like headsets incorporating video display screens.
 
The company will make its first public pitch for support this week at the Ottawa Venture and Technology Summit at the Hilton Lac Leamy. It's one of 16 budding concerns seeking investment capital.
 
Mr. Lewis has personally poured close to $2 million of the fortune he made at Newbridge Networks and the old Mitel Corp. and other companies into building eSight.
 
He has assembled a high-powered team of executives to develop the company, including Pat Beirne, a product development force behind Corel Corp., and Dan Mathers, ex-chief executive officer at defunct Icefyre Semiconductor with experience at Mosaid, IBM and Celestica.
 
Mr. Lewis knows a lot about eye problems. His wife, Susan, is severely near-sighted and has had two retina detachments and other serious issues. His sisters, Anne and Julia, have a genetic condition called Stargardt's disease that has rendered them legally blind.
 
And Mr. Lewis is blind in his right eye as a result of a blood clot from an accident that injured the optical nerve.
 
Dealing with all this and investing in treatments has made him an expert on vision problems.
 
He discovered that a big proportion of an aging population has eyesight issues that, in many cases,, cannot be treated with surgery or glasses.
 
An estimated three to four per cent of the U.S. population has serious visual impairments that can't be dealt with surgically. The percentage is likely to grow as the baby boom generation ages and an increase in obesity leads to more diabetes -- a threat to eyesight.
 
The eyes and the spine are two parts of the body that cannot regenerate. Many people would rather die than lose their eyesight, Mr. Lewis says.
 
The market opportunity presented by this group is obvious: Many are prosperous baby boomers who will fight to the last cent to retain their deteriorating eyesight.
 
But Mr. Lewis also knows a lot about computer processing, digital imaging and advanced display technology.
 
His idea is to use this technology to allow individuals losing eye sight to maximize the abilities they still have. Since the onset of blindness can take many forms, and even the legally blind have some remaining eyesight, the technology would be adapted to each case.
 
With the cellphone and iPod gaining more power everyday, he believes such devices will be the means to deliver video and special image enhancements to people with fading eyesight.
 
Headset technology that lets youths on Tokyo subways watch videos on their iPods and MP3 players could soon be helping the visually impaired.
 
"The technology isn't quite good enough yet, but the day is rapidly approaching. We want to ride the mass market."
 
eSight has developed a prototype that integrates the early technology and is showing it to investors. Mr. Lewis said a European research foundation has tentatively promised an $11-million investment.
 
About 18 months ago he put his ideas in front to a group of experts at the Eye Institute at the Ottawa Hospital.
 
"They were there because I was identified as a high-net-worth individual by the Ottawa Hospital Foundation," he says with a laugh. "There was a lot of arm-twisting."
 
"At first it wasn't the most receptive audience, but when I put forward my ideas I got my validation: 'Oh God, why didn't I think of this first.' "
 
Mr. Lewis also got validation recently from some Silicon Valley investors.
 
They were at Oakland Stadium, close to the offices of Newbury Ventures, a $250-million venture capital firm with which he has been associated.
 
He currently spends most of his time as founder and principal of Eagle One Ventures, an early-stage seed investor.
 
Mr. Lewis pitched his ideas for reaching an affluent audience that wants to enhance visual experience at ballgames or concerts.
 
The ideas started flying: Providing the glasses as a promotion for a couple of innings and letting fans rent them for the rest of the game. Letting stadiums and arenas get the money that cellphone companies now get from fans watching replays on their phones.
 
Mr. Lewis said the basic hardware could sell for about $2,000 and the company would make much more money selling future software upgrades as the technology matures.
 
He said the California executives could see the opportunity in catering to a market that spends $20 billion annually on sporting events and $8 billion on vision correction.
 
"They were excited. They wanted a piece of it," he said.
 
A total of 16 startups will make presentations to potential investors at the technology summit sessions, which start today.
 
They include: Artenga Inc., Chinook Mobile Heating & Deicing Corp., 'Cyrium Technologies Inc., Diablo Technologies Inc., Embotics Corp., Energate Inc., eSight, Gridpoint Systems, Group IV Semiconductor Inc., IMC Security Inc., IPeak Networks, Kleer, MYDYO, neuroLanguage Corp., Protecode Inc. and Vo-
IPshield Systems Inc.
 
 
 
 
TechRepublic.com
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
 
SolutionBase: What's coming in Mac OS X Leopard
 
By Erik Eckel
 
Takeaway: Featuring more than 300 updates and improvements, the new Mac OS X Leopard packs several significant enhancements. Erik Eckel takes a deeper look at some of the many new features and enhancements Apple is putting into Leopard.
 
Extract: "Leopard includes bolstered accessibility features, too. Besides adding a new voice that speaks more naturally at a faster pace, support has been added for Braille displays and note-taking devices. Further, voice-over commands can now be associated with numeric keypad keys using NumPad Commander.  Apple's VoiceOver feature now accentuates "hot spots" by monitoring for active windows and notifying users (via sound clues) whenever notifications or alerts are displayed on screen. VoiceOver also assists visually impaired users in navigating applications and onscreen menus."
 
Just as Microsoft became entrenched with Windows XP, so too did Apple's popular Mac OS X version 10.4 develop a shelf life. Released in April 2005, Mac OS X version 10.4 (known as Tiger) introduced the Spotlight integrated desktop search feature, a new Dashboard that popularized widget use, an updated Safari Web browser, and more. However, Mac OS X version 10.5 experienced delays in its announced release.
 
Featuring more than 300 updates and improvements, the new "Leopard" release packs several significant enhancements. In addition to including a new Time Machine automated backup utility, the updated operating system boasts Spotlight search capability across multiple systems, the Front Row and Photo Booth applications introduced with Tiger on Intel-powered systems, virtual desktop "Spaces" that enable users to maintain multiple desktop with specific applications running simultaneously, the addition of RSS, stationery and other new features to Mail, and much more. Here's a deeper look at some of the many new features and enhancements Apple is putting into Leopard.
 
Boot Camp
Apple's dual-boot utility, which enables running Windows installations on the same systems hosting Mac OS X, debuted as optional downloads when Intel-powered Macs arrived. The application will now ship with OS X by default.
 
Desktop enhancements
The new Apple desktop is designed to "showcase" user's photos and graphics as desktop backgrounds. A newly redesigned Dock features greater transparency, so as to not distract from user's desktop images, which enjoy a cleaner desktop.
 
Finder tweaks
Mac's Finder, equivalent to Windows Explorer or My Computer, is treated to a new iTunes-like interface designed to simplify data access. Whereas the Cover Flow view in iTunes displays the cover image of an album (with the album's musical contents beneath), the new Finder will present preview views of files within the same space that iTunes displays cover images. As a result, users can now flip through file preview images when seeking specific documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and other files. Figure A shows what the new Finder looks like in Leopard.
 
Figure A
Leopard introduces a refined Finder view (shown in the large active window), new Stacks (the collection of icons emanating from the Dock), an enhanced Desktop, a more translucent, less obtrusive Dock, and other changes.
 
Front Row
Apple's Front Row, which debuted with Intel-powered Macs in 2006, becomes standard fare with the Leopard release. The Front Row feature enables remotely navigating common options, including accessing music, movies, photos, and more.
 
iCal
iCal, the Mac's default calendar tool, receives several updates with Leopard's release. Boasting a new interface that focuses on a clean and uncluttered look just like the new Mac desktop, a new iTunes-like sidebar assists Mac users in navigating calendar items. Sharing files with attendees is as simple as dragging-and-dropping files into respective events. When e-mail invitations are forwarded to attendees, any added files are included as attachments. Keep in mind that this functionality is similar to that found in Microsoft Office, whereas iCal is the default calendar tool included with Mac OS X and doesn't require an additional license.
 
Also new in iCal is support for group calendaring, in which meetings can be scheduled for multiple users, resources (such as meeting rooms) and even equipment (such as LCD projectors) can be booked directly from within iCal. Based on the CalDAV standard, an iCal Server is required to power the group calendaring functionality. With an iCal Server in place, however, users can also browse other staff's schedules to review available free time necessary for scheduling new meetings.
 
iChat improvements
Users that rely upon iChat to power instant messaging sessions will find Photo Booth integration within Mac OS X version 10.5. Users can apply Photo Booth effects to chat sessions, or they can present entire Keynote presentations within the instant messaging application. iChat sessions can also be recorded (including capturing both audio and video) and saved for later review.
 
Mail tweaks
Apple's standard Mail application receives upgrades as well. In Mac OS X 10.5, the default e-mail client supports numerous stationery templates. The mail client also adds support for virtual sticky notes (which can be accessed from any Internet-connected Mac or PC).
 
In the past, Apple's Mail application provided e-mail functionality. With the new Leopard release, however, To-Do functionality is added. Users can simply highlight wording within e-mail messages describing tasks they need to perform (such as Prepare quarterly report), right-click the highlighted text, and create a To-Do item. Since the To-Dos are stored within e-mail, users can access those tasks from any Internet-connect Mac or PC as well.
 
Mail also benefits from RSS support. By subscribing to RSS feeds within Mail, Leopard users will know whenever a new article, blog post or other entry is published. Further, using Mail, users can create Smart Mailboxes to better help organize RSS feeds. And since Mail shares RSS feed coordination responsibilities with Apple's built-in Safari Web browser, users are assured reading lists will remain synchronized.
 
Quick Look
Apple's new Quick Look feature enables viewing a file's contents before opening the file. Similar to the Flip 3D feature in Windows Vista that permits users to view the contents of multiple open Windows, Quick Look permits Mac users to view the contents of files (including documents, spreadsheets, presentations, PDFs, and even videos) without having to open each file. Thus, these short "sneak peek" glimpses make it much easier for users to find specific files they seek more quickly on a Mac hard disk.
 
Parental Controls
Typically a consumer feature, Leopard provides expanded parental controls for Mac users. New content filters help Leopard protect children from inappropriate Web content, while bedtime and usage limits can be easily configured to police the amount of time children spend on the computer. Further, Leopard-powered systems can now log the Web sites children visit, the contents of chat sessions, and even the applications run.
 
Photo Booth
Largely a consumer-focused feature, Apple's Photo Booth adds stock photography to help dress up Photo Booth sessions. In addition to creating user photos, which might be linked as an iChat buddy image, Photo Booth also supports creating and sharing video snippets. While Photo Booth's audio and video quality isn't professional grade, the feature provides users with a simple method of quickly and easily creating basic audio and video files.
 
Safari 3.0
Apple's Web browser, Safari, receives an upgrade in Leopard: Safari 3.0 is loaded by default within the next Mac OS X release. Providing improved performance, additional security controls (such as a private browsing feature that disables caching of personal data, among other information), inline PDF support, and more, the browser provides Mac users with a more reliable and consistent Web browsing experience.
 
Stacks
Apple's new Stacks feature is among new Desktop enhancements designed to add to the Mac's stunning visual appearance. As the Desktop often serves as the location in which documents, spreadsheets, programs, and other files are stored, it quickly becomes cluttered. Apple's designers worked to help consolidate such files and clean the Mac's desktop appearance in the process.
 
The result is Stacks, which enables users to collect similar objects in "stacks," or folders that live on the Mac's Dock. When a new item arrives (such as an e-mail or document) within a Stack, the Mac signals the user the file is present. To view the item, users need only click the relevant stack icon and a graceful animated arc displays the contents of that stack.
 
Spaces
Recognizing that users manage different kinds of data, from office-related work to editing personal e-mail messages, Apple designers have included support for separate desktops on Mac OS X version 10.5. By dragging active windows into separate Spaces, Mac users can segregate applications and programs by topic.
 
For example, an employee working from home might wish to create a work-related Space in which their VPN connection is active and work-related applications are up and running. A second Space might be dedicated to sending personal e-mail and surfing the Web, while yet a third Space could be devoted to music or entertainment-related activities (such as viewing a DVD movie).
 
Navigating between Spaces is simple. Leopard places placeholder icons on the Dock for each Space.
 
Spotlight enhancement
In addition to refining Spotlight performance and the interactive menu users leverage to perform desktop searches, Apple developers tweaked Spotlight to support searching multiple systems in Mac OS X version 10.5. Using a new sidebar, results will be categorized in Leopard.
 
Time Machine
Time Machine is among one of the most important upgrades Leopard features. The new backup application simplifies data protection. Whenever a compatible backup device is found (such as a simple external USB drive), by stating one wishes to use Time Machine, Mac OS X version 10.5 automatically configures backup operations.
 
Unlike Windows, which requires users to specify which files, folders, and drives should be backed up, when the backups should occur, what type of back operation should be run (Normal vs. Differential vs. Incremental), Leopard simply backs everything up. Everything from programs and applications to accounts, system preferences, and other data is backed up automatically.
 
Further, Time Machine provides a feature similar toWindows Restore, enabling users to return to specific system configurations as they existed on a specific date. However, unlike Windows, Leopard enables returning an entire system to a specific date, recovering a copy of a single file from a specific date or restoring a folder or folders to a specific date. Using Time Machine, Mac users can also encrypt backups and specify storage limit settings to help manage the amount of disk space dedicated to backups.
 
Universal Access improvements
Leopard includes bolstered accessibility features, too. Besides adding a new voice that speaks more naturally at a faster pace, support has been added for Braille displays and note-taking devices. Further, voice-over commands can now be associated with numeric keypad keys using NumPad Commander.
 
Apple's VoiceOver feature now accentuates "hot spots" by monitoring for active windows and notifying users (via sound clues) whenever notifications or alerts are displayed on screen. VoiceOver also assists visually impaired users in navigating applications and onscreen menus.
 
Other accessibility improvements include expanded closed-captioning support within QuickTime, more applications (including iChat) that "speak" on screen text and VoiceOver support for .Mac online Internet and e-mail accounts.
 
 

Manila Bulletin, Philippines
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
 
Bridging the digital divide
 
By RONALD S. LIM
 
It's obvious to anyone that today's world is hopelessly dependent on computers.
 
Officework has never been the same since Word and Excel were introduced, and the same can be said of research projects ever since Wikipedia. Even our social lives have come under the sway of the digital age: Hook-ups made through Friendster, MySpace, or Facebook are now the norm.
 
But with such revolutionary changes also comes the possibility of yet another gap between different parts of society - a digital divide that separates those who know how to use this technology and those who for some reason or another, have no such knowledge.
 
Quezon City councilor Bernadette Herrera-Dy is having none of it. Through her Bagong Henerasyon Foundation, Inc., Herrera-Dy has been working at narrowing that digital divide through two projects: Computer School on Wheels (COW) and the APEC Digital Opportunity Center (ADOC) E-care Center.
 
Taking the computers to the people
 
Herrera-Dy had thought of making computer literacy as her cause in 2000 while making rounds in District 1 of Quezon City, where she was elected councilor.
 
"I saw that our public school had no computers. They had computer education but no hands-on training," says Herrera-Dy. "I thought it was pathetic that an urban city like Quezon does not have the facilities to teach its young computer education. You can learn basic computer skills with a private company, but they're certainly not affordable for students or out-of-school youth."
 
Herrera-Dy then began setting up a community-based free computer training in Project 8, Quezon City and was able to open it in 2002. There is no application process needed: Training is given to those who show up, so long as there are units available.
 
However, after a year in operation, Herrera-Dy began to notice something about the project's beneficiaries.
 
"We noticed that some people are dropping out because they didn't have travel allowances, and those who lived far from Project 8 just plainly couldn't make it," she explains. "I thought that if they couldn't go to our computer center, then perhaps the computer center should go to them. We thought that perhaps an airconditioned container van could hold about 20 computers, we could then park these vans in front of barangays."
 
Herrera-Dy envisioned the COW program as a mobile computer school that offers free computer training to out-of-school youths and the unemployed to make them more competitive in today's technology dependent market. Courses offered in the one-month intensive training include basic application software, computer secretarial, basic PC repairs and desktop publishing.
 
However, getting the project off the ground required a little competition on the part of Herrera-Dy. Without any money to begin the project, she had to resort to creative ways of fund-raising.
 
"We joined a competition in 2004 called Panibagong Paraan, helmed by the World Bank," recalls Herrera-Dy. "We proposed that project and we were one of the projects picked. The Australian Government Overseas Aid (AUSAID) program gave us a grant worth P1.2 million, and with that we were able to start the COW project."
 
Expanding to the differently-abled
 
The COW project, along with the earlier community-based computer training centers, has been a tremendous success. Both programs have also succeeded in turning out graduates, who now number 18,000. The COW project, in particular, has been lauded internationally: It was awarded by the APEC Digital Opportunity Center in Taiwan for best practices in bridging the digital divide.
 
The recognition gave Herrera-Dy another opportunity to expand the reach of her advocacy, and the way to do it came to her in the form of a blind person with a thirst to learn new knowledge.
 
"There was once a blind person who approached my office, saying that he wanted to learn how to use computers, but I didn't have the technology back then to help him out," she shares. "He told me that there was a school in Cubao that gives training for blind children, and he asked if I could make him a scholar."
 
Herrera-Dy agreed to make the blind man a scholar and sent him to the Adaptive Technology for the Rehabilitation, Integration, and Empowerment of the Visually-Impaired (ATRIEV) training center.
 
Through her scholar, she was able to get in touch with Tony Llanes, ATRIEV's administrator. It was Llanes that suggested to Herrera-Dy that their two organizations should partner up to be able to serve an even bigger number of people eager to take part in the digital revolution.
 
"Through his help, we were able to apply for - and get - a grant from ADOC," says Herrera-Dy. "By May 2006, we were able to open the ADOC E - care Centers, with eight computers from Taiwan, with flat LCD screens and high-tech equipment. Ever since then, we've been able to serve not just visually-impaired students, but mobility-impaired ones as well."
 
Herrera-Dy proudly relates that the reactions from this off-shoot project has been nothing but positive.
 
"We've seen good reactions from parents. It takes a lot of patience to teach blind kids, so they appreciate the efforts we're exerting for them," she says. "We've also trained people from Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, and after we've trained them, they've shown an interest to learn more so as to be able to use it in their organization."
 
The ADOC E-care Centers have even gotten the extra mile and helped some of its graduates get jobs.
 
"We've been very successful in placing them into jobs where they can use the training that they've been given," says Herrera-Dy. "We have one graduate who trained with us for two weeks and is now going to work in a hotel. We have another who has interests in construction and has told us that the computer training has been a great help to him."
 
All the success does not mean that the project has not had its share of stumbling blocks. As with the community-based free computer training project, transporting is a major issue. Mobility-impaired students often have to be picked up from their locations, and the ADOC E-care Centers try their best to accommodate this.
 
Herrera-Dy's plans to expand the computer training to hearing-impaired individuals who will have to wait because of the lack of volunteers with a knowledge of sign-language.
 
However, Herrera-Dy says that the project's main problem is the fact that very few people know of it.
 
"We want more students to train. The facilities are there, and there are too few differently-abled people using it that we end up letting abled people use it," she says. "No matter how much we announce in Quezon City, there are still those who need to know of this program. We have something to offer them and we just need awareness."
 
With added awareness, knowledge, and the training that the ADOC E-care Centers and her Bagong Henerasyon Foundation, Inc. is willing to give, Herrera-Dy hopes that disadvantaged and disabled Filipinos will be able to have a better life.
 
"Work to day is skills-oriented, and we try to provide our young people those skills," she notes. "With computer training, even if they weren't able to go to college, it can get them somewhere. We want to project to everyone that computer education is for all."
 
 
At the business desk, i'm Alix Shadonnay wishing you a pleasant evening.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Important answers to important questions

Good evening!  I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and it's time for our newest weekly feature.  Question and answer. 
We started this feature last week and we are absolutely delighted to tell you that we have had over 1,000 positive responses.  So, without much ado, let's answer a few questions this week.
First:  Do you think that our economy is being hurt by more and more companies moving their call centers to India? 
Answer:  Yes.  I believe that our economy is being hurt in many ways by companies moving their call centers to India.  True it is that companies are justifying their move by telling us that they are doing this to reduce costs.  However, by giving these jobs to foreign workers, our very own workers are being hurt badly.  In particular:  Those who do not have the right type of skills to seek professional jobs.  Single moms who need these types of jobs in order to make ends meet.  Retirees who have come to depend on these types of jobs for additional income.  Disabled persons who find these jobs more accessible in that they can adapt to them ore easily.  Those persons who live just above the poverty line.  In short, there are millions of persons right here in North America who are being deprived of these types of jobs. 
 
Question:  Have these call centers in India turned out to be what companies had hoped for?
Answer:  Yes and no.  On the one hand companies have been able to reduce their overhead costs because they are able to pay Indian workers much less than what they would pay North American workers but on the other hand it has caused many unexpected headaches.  Headaches such as:
Indian workers are having a difficult time communicating efficiently in English.  Their phone manner is less than satisfactory when it comes to being able to communicate with North American customers and in addition, many companies have failed to provide them with adequate product and service knowledge and training.
 
Question:  Can you tell us if China is really the hot bed of opportunity that everyone is making it out to be?
Answer:  For the most part, yes.  China is growing rapidly and the experts are predicting that within the next three decades China may very well overtake the United States as the number one global economy.  Chinese consumers are desperately hungering for Western goods and services.  The Chinese government has flung open its doors for business and the Chinese government is most anxious for investors as well as for their people to travel abroad and conduct business.  In other words, China is seeking to expand its investment abroad and at the same time it is actively promoting and encouraging investors to invest in its country.
 
Question:  Do you think that the recent upheaval in the Toy Industry will hurt the Chinese in any way?
Answer:  In the short term, yes.  In the long term, no.  China will find ways to overcome this recent setback and it will use the Olympics in 2008 to help boost its image to the rest of the world.
 
I hope that these questions and answers have helped you to clarify a few issues.  To end our feature, we're going to give you some info that you can use to attract global consumers.
 
 Are you looking for skilled and experienced translators/writers/researchers to help you craft your articles, blogs, business letters, emails, faxes, newsletters, and proposals in multi languages? 
Are you seeking skilled and experienced language coaches to help you learn the English language more quickly and efficiently?
Then you need to visit the folks at www.translationpeople.com.  Here you'll find a team that guarantees quick turn around, professional work, and total confidentiality.  Prices are extremely affordable and services are offered in English, Spanish, French, Cantonese, and Mandarin.
Check out the free useful information page while you're there and for absolutely free you can also tap into the latest trends and headlines.

 At the business desk, i'm Kerry J Harrison bidding you a pleasant evening.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The travel industry ignoring some ery important consumers

Good day everyone!  I'm Jeff N Marquis at the business desk and I'd like to start the week by making a strong call to the travel industry.  For all of you travel agents out there who are just dying to find hidden markets and riches in niches, then please read the following article.  You should really pay very close attention.  This article could either make or break it for you.
 

Bangkok Post, Thailand
Monday, October 15, 2007
 
ICAT 2007 Conference highlights needs of disabled travellers
 
By Imtiaz Muqbil
 
An International Conference on Accessible Tourism (ICAT 2007) for people with disabilities is to be held in Bangkok from Nov 22-24 to highlight the need for improved facilities and services for a growing but largely neglected market segment. ''With a generation of permanently disabled people having experienced increasing degrees of employment, education, and leisure, those of us with the means to travel belong to a consumer group that is only starting to be noticed,'' says Scott Rains, one of the conference organisers and publisher of the Rolling Rains Report, a newsletter on travel for people with disabilities.
 
The conference is being backed by Thailand's Ministry of Tourism and Sport, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, UN Escap and Disabled People's International Asia Pacific (DPI-AP). It will be held at the UN Escap convention centre.
 
There is no registration fee for participants with disabilities but they have to pay their own personal expenses and for any personal assistants. Accessible buses will be provided for airport pickup and send-off. Facilities such as accessible toilets, water fountains and lifts are available.
 
Essential sessions of the conference programme will be translated into Braille. A large-print programme will be prepared. English will be the official language, accompanied by a sign-language interpreter during the conference.
 
Mr Rains says the conference will contribute to change and development lines of tourism businesses to ensure a favorable environment for tourists and travellers with disabilities and retired, ageing people, including access to built environments and public transport as well as training and employment.
 
Says Mr Rains: ''Travel the world today and you will find that there is a hunger for community and solidarity among people with disabilities. Wherever you go you will find unique opportunities to learn from and contribute to local manifestations of disability culture.
 
When we travel we represent more than ourselves because we are part of a community. The very fact that you have a disability and travel suggests something about your economic condition. It indicates that you have credit, savings, education, maybe a profession that requires travel, but most importantly the ability to make decisions about the course of your life for yourself. That combination of means and dignity are potent means of social transformation.
 
''Leisure travel means moving beyond mere survival mode. A small but growing percentage of us have made the transition to economic stability but we are not equally distributed around the world. Travel spreads us around, which is to say that it spreads around living examples of an alternate lifestyle; ambassadors of choices still out of reach for some.
 
''How we chose to spend those resources _ even through our leisure activities _ has a profound impact.''
 
Mr Rains cited research showing American adults with disabilities or reduced mobility currently spend an average of US$13.6 billion a year on tourism. In 2002, these individuals made 32 million trips and spent $4.2 billion on hotels, $3.3 billion on airline tickets, $2.7 billion on food and beverages, and $3.4 billion on trade, transportation, and other activities.
 
Out of a total of 21 million persons, 69% had travelled at least once in the previous two years, including 3.9 million business trips, 20 million tourist trips, and 4.4 million business/tourist trips. In the previous two years, out of a total of two million adults with disabilities or reduced mobility, 7% had spent more than $1,600 outside the continental United States. In addition, 20% had travelled at least six times every two years.
 
A study by the Open Doors Organization estimated that in the year 2003, people with disabilities or reduced mobility spent $35 billion in restaurants. According to the same study, more than 75% of these people eat out at restaurants at least once a week. The United States Department of Labor reported that a large and growing market of Americans with disabilities or reduced mobility have $175 billion in purchasing/consumer power.
 
In the United Kingdom, the Employers' Forum on Disability estimated 10 million adults with disabilities or reduced mobility in the UK, with an annual purchasing power of 80 billion pounds sterling. The Canadian Conference Board reported that in 2001, the combined annual disposable income of economically active Canadians with disabilities or reduced mobility was C$25 billion.
 
A UN survey also found that by year 2050, the ageing population will rise to two billion and 54% of them will be in Asia.
 
The conference is supported by Pattaya City, Asia Pacific Disability Forum, The Redemptorist Foundation for People with Disabilities and the Council of Disabled People of Thailand. The conference website is http://www.dpiap.org
 
Imtiaz Muqbil is executive editor of Travel Impact Newswire, an e-mailed feature and analysis service focusing on the Asia-Pacific travel industry.
 
If you'd like to learn more about special needs consumers then by all means read the additional info below that i've included.  You may just pick up enough info to spark your imagination into creating a very rich niche.
 
Looking for ideas and opportunities to crack the over 50s market?  The baby boomer market?  The seniors market?  Other niche markets?
Are you seeking opportunities in markets that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe?
Are you having difficulty keeping abreast of important trends and news items because you're either too busy or don't know where to look?
Then you need to visit www.sterlingcreations.ca and there you'll find a suite of services that can help you to get where you want to go.
From writing to research, and translation to transcription.  There is even a free monthly online magazine that is crammed with very vital and valuable information.  You can even keep abreast of breaking trends and headlines for absolutely free.
Check it out at your convenience.
 
At the business desk, i'm Jeff N Marquis wishing you a pleasant day.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A call for more virtual offices

Hello there!  I'm Matt Chadwick at the business desk and I'd like to end the week on a call for virtual office professionals.

More and more small businesses, medium sized companies, and entrepreneurs are screaming for virtual office services and you're probably wondering why?  The answer is not too difficult to know.  Let's take a quick look.

With more and more businesses competing with each other to win the hearts and minds of consumers through the services they offer, more and more of them are realizing that in order to stay alive and capture the hearts and minds of their customers, they need to provide services that are better than better.  Services that would call for 7 24 support, top notch administration, the ability to schedule tasks efficiently and appropriately, and the ability to process emails, faxes, and phone calls at top speed.

Let's face it!  99% of small businesses are already having difficulty keeping up when it comes to running their daily operations and the majority of them are unable to do everything all at once.  They can't run their businesses on a daily basis and at the same time keep up with the marketing, the managing, the dealing with customer support services, and on and on.  So, enter virtual office services.

If you're interested in such tasks as office administration, customer support, and daily managing, then the virtual office career is for you.  If you enjoy personal interaction and you are good at multi tasking, then definitely check out this exciting and high paying career.  The virtual office career calls for imaginative thinking, creativity, and lots and lots of patience.  The demand for virtual office services is growing by leaps and bounds and the financial rewards are tremendous. 

Take the time to check it out.

 

It's time now for book talk!  Our weekly amazon picks.

 

Runaway Word of Mouth

by George Silverman

I've chosen this book because I'd like to refocus on the benefits of by word of mouth marketing.  It's a very powerful marketing tool and it's probably one of the oldest and most powerful tools around.  This author does a masterful job at showing his readers how to use it.

 

Buzzoodle Buzz Marketing

by Ron McDaniel

Again, another book that's well written.  Great marketing strategies for the reader.

 

Untapped Wealth Discovered

By Jeff N Marquis and Kerry J Harrison

Another book that contains some very powerful marketing tools for small businesses and entrepreneurs.  The authors have a done a banged up job on showing their readers how to use some very interesting and unique marketing strategies. 

 

Before I leave you this week, how about some info on some very important strategies presently sweeping across our country?

Read on.

 

Are you tired of looking over your shoulder because you're so scared of being scammed out of your hard earned savings, your house, and your other assets?
Are you looking for ways to avoid those scams with their broken promises and get rich quick schemes?  Are you worried that one day soon someone is going to try and scam you out of your worldly possessions?  Do you know what you should be doing in order to combat those seedy scammers, identity thieves, and shady investors?
Now you can take advantage of some very potent info and daily updates plus more in order to help you stay healthy and sleep well at night.  All of this info is free for the taking and it will save you thousands of research hours, protect your savings and worldly possessions, and help you to make decisions that are safe, logical, and sound.  The experts at www.untappedwealth.com are offering you all of this at absolutely no cost because their philosophy is that if they help you then you will help others and we will become a safer and better country.  Check them out!  You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain!

 

At the business desk, I'm Matt Chadwick wishing you a pleasant weekend.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Important news for women

Greetings everyone!  I'm Jayna Sheffield at the business desk and it's time for our weekly feature on news for women.
It's our objective to use this feature to inspire, encourage, motivate, and help women to forget all about the big bad world out there and focus on making life better for themselves.  Never mind all those glass ceilings, those bouts of daily abuse from others, and the discrimination that you as women have to face almost all of the time.  We're here to tell you that you can rise above it all and take the bull by the horns. 
I want now to bring in our resident associate Donna J Jodhan to help me give you a boost this week.  Among other things, Donna is one of our biggest experts on the subject of women's issues.  She is blind, a very successful business consultant and author, and she never stops pushing the envelope.  Here now is Donna.
Thank you Jayna and hi to our readers out there!  This week instead of preaching to you, I'd like to share an article with you that I found just this morning on the Internet.  This article speaks about a company that is promoting work from home opportunities and I believe that many women are just looking for such types of opportunities.  So, please read and give us your feedback.
Thanks.
 
 

Oxford Press, Ohio USA
Thursday, October 18, 2007
 
Company's work at home policy opens doors
 
By Michael D. Pitman Staff Writer
 
Fairfield marketing company recognized as leader in employing people with disabilities.
 
Jim Mullaney's daily commute consists of hopping out of bed.
 
In fact, every employee for Mullaney, owner of Fairfield-based Edoc Marketing, works from home.
 
"The original idea behind the business is we would create an environment where people can work at home and establish a career, and at the same time serve the business community," Mullaney said. "I saw a real need for that, and that has been the foundation."
 
Because of that convenience, many handicap people work for Mullaney, and that has garnered Edoc Marketing recognition. The Clovernook Center for the Visually Impaired named Edoc the 2007 Employer of the Year and Miami Valley Placement Network recognized Mullaney as a leader in employing the handicapped.
 
"We don't hire people because they are handicapped, we hire them because they can do the job," Mullaney said. "We're only interested in people who have outgoing personalities and can converse on the phone."
 
Edco is a business to business telemarketing firm that generates business leads for clients. Mullaney's "Red Zone" system identifies the potential return on investment for clients.
 
Edco's marketing sales division business was up 70 percent September 2006 at the end of September. The goal is to have $3.5 million in sales in three to five years. This year, it's projected to be $400,000.
 
Being able to work for home was a main reason why Lelia Jo Cordell, of Springfield, wanted to work for Edoc. She had been looking for two years for a job, but she said no one would hire her because she is legally blind..
 
"The fact that they were not only willing but eager to hire a visually impaired person, and equip me to do the job and do it, well, that means an awful lot to me," Cordell said.
 
Linda Larbes, Cordell's marketing team manager, has been with Edoc for 2-1/2 years. She is confined to a wheelchair due to a neurological disorder. She was a licensed social worker for 20 years, but the commute to Cincinnati with a young son and a handicapped husband took a toll: She said she couldn't handle the pace and consequently become ill in 1999.
 
"I think this is a place where folks with and without disabilities can compete and do a really good job," Larbes said. "The job has enabled me to be in a supervisory position, which I haven't done before."
 
For more information call (513) 829-7101 and www.edocmarketing.com.
 
Contact this reporter at (513) 755-5112 or mpitman@coxohio.com.
 
 
I'd like to end this blog by giving you some valid info about Donna J Jodhan's consulting company.  You should really take a minute to visit her company on the Internet.
 
They call themselves a "One Stop Writing Shop" and well they should.  There are not too many companies around at present that are able to do this and do it so well.  The experts call them unique!  They offer complete services that can help you do research, write, translate and transcribe your info into multi languages.  For absolutely free they can help you to keep abreast of important trends and news items if you're either too busy to search for them or you don't know where to find them.  They can help you to increase your revenues, reduce your costs, and expand your customer bases.  They can offer you a free online monthly magazine filled with info designed to help you keep abreast of market trends and consumer habits and articles that will point you in the right direction when it comes to finding opportunities that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe.
To learn more visit them at www.sterlingcreations.ca.
 
At the business desk, i'm Jayna Sheffield wishing you a pleasant weekend.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wanted! Language writers for immediate work

Hi everyone!  I'm Heather DeMarco at the business desk and it's time for our weekly feature on news for language professionals.
We recently uncovered a very hot demand and it all has to do with more and more companies desperately seeking the services of language writers.  It appears that in order to reach more global consumers, companies and corporations of all sizes are hunting for writers who can write well in at least two languages.  They're seeking writers to churn out such things as:  Articles, blogs, newsletters, and web content. 
However, not just the ordinary writer will do for these kinds of exciting opportunities.  No!  The language writers being sought are those who possess a definite flare for the language being written in.  Writers who can express themselves in the language that they write.  Writers who are extremely familiar with the appropriate terminology of the language in which they write.  Writers who are knowledgeable about the subject matter of which they write. 
So, what kind of language writers are companies seeking?  English of course, Spanish, French, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, the popular Indian and Asian dialects, Turkish, and Middle Eastern dialects. 
Writers need to be able to write in a second language.  That is, write in another language other than their mother tongue.  So for example if you are bilingual in English and Spanish, you need to be able to write well in Spanish. 
These types of opportunities could potentially bring you tremendous personal and financial satisfaction if you like writing and have a knack for languages.  Something for you to ponder if you're seeking riches in niches.
 
It's time now for our news round-up of the week.  News for language professionals.
 
 The Most Common Complaints about Translation Services
By diamond(diamond)
By Marian Marcinkowski Within past years modern electronic communication has created extensive business opportunities for freelance translators. They are able to reach clients from all over the world and perform their jobs at their own ...
diamond - http://diamondflynn.blog.com/
For more detail check out:
http://diamondflynn.blog.com/2154456/
 
Baking business gives unemployed fresh opportunity
Scoop.co.nz - New Zealand
He has gone above and beyond and, when necessary, he has arranged translators and helped us with things like cultural or family protocol. ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/ED0710/S00021.htm
 
Answering the call for deaf kids' needs
Pioneer Press - St. Paul,MN,USA
Moreover, because there was no comprehensive statewide program, opportunities were missed, Sivarajah said. "There have been kids that have been screened and ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.twincities.com/ci_7106601?source=most_emailed&nclick_check=1
 
India: Translators Wanted
By GLOBALCOP(GLOBALCOP)
He plans to take a course from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, on how to use translation productivity software that analyzes text and recreates the meaning in the desired language. "The opportunities are tremendous," he ...
My World - http://globocop.blogspot.com/
For more detail checkout:
http://globocop.blogspot.com/2007/10/india-translators-wanted.html
 
(1042) 10-October-2007 - TEAM's final report reviews Boksburg work ...
Anglican Communion News Service - London,UK
Archbishop Stavert said the project involved "an elaborate process where they (translators) consulted with elders" to ensure the accuracy of the translation ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/digest/index.cfm?years=2007&months=10&article=1042&pos=
 
Bowen selling VW halfway around the world
Times Bulletin - Van Wert,OH,USA
The language barrier was a bit of an issue for the Ohioans as translators were needed for almost every conversation. Bowen related, "I guess that was one ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.timesbulletin.com/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=4&ArticleID=144344&TM=9371.142
 
Phoenix Integration Announces Availability of CATIA, NX, and Pro/E ...
Earthtimes.org - New Zealand
CAD Fusion interfaces ModelCenter directly with each CAD tool without intermediate translators that result in a "least common denominator syndrome. ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/news_press_release,195520.shtml
 
Alchemy donates 170000 to Cologne University
IRISHDEV.com - Dublin,Ireland
... Diploma courses in translation and interpreting into a set of modern Bachelor and Master degree courses offering a broader range of study opportunities. ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.irishdev.com/NewsArticle.aspx?id=5831
 
Canoe.ca (subscription) - Canada
Opportunities for good jobs, including translators, interpreters and teachers, in the language sector are being missed, according to the association. ...
For more detail check out:
http://ottsun.canoe.ca/News/OttawaAndRegion/2007/10/12/4569662-sun.html
 
Freelance Translation
By admin
... Translation Services USA - http://www.translation-services-usa.com/jobs.shtml For all the sites you need to award if you want premium membership. Remember, as non-paying member, you still can get to know about post opportunities. ...
Job - http://job.cx
For more detail check out:
http://job.cx/?p=187
 
Data Center Solutions Firm, Rack-Soft, Updates Hosted PBX
By Dedicated Servers, Reseller Web Hosting News
... pack translations while sharing knowledge and having access to the localized 4PSA software. The 4PSA Partnership Programs were reorganized to better express Rack-Soft's development and the increased partnership opportunities. ...
Web Hosting Talk - http://www.webhostingtalk.com/news
For more detail check out:
http://www.webhostingtalk.com/news/data-center-solutions-firm-rack-soft-updates-hosted-pbx/
 
If you yourself are seeking top notch professional translation services then please read the info below.
 
Are you looking for experienced multi lingual translators and writers?
Experienced professionals who can help you to write and translate, proof read and edit, and research plus more?
Are you looking for professionals who can help you to write and speak flawless English?
Having problems getting that right someone to help you proof read, edit, and research the appropriate information?
Then you need to contact the staff at www.translationpeople.com.
You can even download free useful information updated weekly and at absolutely no cost you can also keep abreast of the latest trends and headlines updated daily.
 
At the business desk, I'm Heather DeMarco wishing you a pleasant evening.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Important news for very important consumers

Hey there!  I'm Alix Shadonnay at the business desk and it's time for our weekly feature.  Our news round-up of important articles for special needs consumers.
We've taken great pains to choose this week's articles.  A collection of news items on medical and technology break throughs that have the explosive potential to vastly improve the lives of millions of consumers globally. 
So, we hope you enjoy this week's selections and we thank you much for your feedback.
 
Table of contents
 
October 17 2007
 
1 Resverlogix Corp.: First Ever Therapy Targets Optic Nerve Head for Glaucoma
2 Video games' new frontier: The visually impaired (features AudiOdyssey)
3 Glaucoma surgery with novel laser device
4 Mini-Telescope Implants May Save Vision Damaged by Eye Disease
5 Web-based haptic technology on the horizon
6 Blind couple's answering service has got your number
7 IBM joins OpenOffice.org to widen its reach
8 Eye implant that measures pressure for Glaucoma undergoing clinical trials
9 Chicago airports introducing new communication devices for disabled people
 

Market Wire (Press Release)
Monday, September 10, 2007
 
Resverlogix Corp.: First Ever Therapy Targets Optic Nerve Head for Glaucoma
 
CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Sept. 10, 2007) - Resverlogix Corp. ("Resverlogix") (TSX:RVX) is pleased to announce positive results from preliminary proof-of-concept studies for Resverlogix's TGF-Beta Shield TM as a potential new therapy for the treatment of glaucoma.
 
The outside lead investigator for these studies, Dr. Maria Francesca Cordeiro, from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology (IoO), stated, "We have data from an animal model that could lead to a novel therapy targeted against cells found at the back of the eye, for the treatment of glaucoma. We are very excited about our findings with Resverlogix's TGF-Beta Shield technology."
 
Resverlogix, through its sponsored research agreement is focused on the development of a therapeutic approach to modulate the deleterious effects of Transforming Growth Factor-Beta (TGF-Beta) in glaucomatous eyes, as well as in other fibrotic and ophthalmic conditions.
 
Donald McCaffrey, President & CEO of Resverlogix, stated, "We are elated with these promising results for our TGF-Beta Shield product. In separate studies we have been able to confirm method of delivery to the back of the eye which is notoriously difficult." McCaffrey added, "In addition we have seen evidence that our drug is able to specifically target important nerve cells believed to play a role in the development of glaucoma. We believe that we may have a new class of drug treatment for glaucoma."
 
Dr. Cordeiro's group at the IoO has an international reputation in the field of glaucoma research, and has been awarded the 2005 Lewis Rudin Prize for the best research paper published worldwide in 2004. As a Consultant Ophthalmologist at The Western Eye Hospital, London, she specializes in treating patients with glaucoma. The collective knowledge, know-how and expertise at the IoO will aid in the development of the TGF-Beta Shield program.
 
Globally glaucoma affects 67 million people 10 percent of which suffer from bilateral blindness. Glaucoma is characterized by increased intraocular pressure (IOP), progressive optic nerve damage and visual field loss leading to blindness. Current treatments aim at lowering the IOP, but vision loss can still occur despite good IOP control. There is a clear need therefore in glaucoma for non-IOP lowering strategies. Recent findings have demonstrated a role for TGF-Beta in the progression of this devastating disease.
 
About Resverlogix Corp.
 
Resverlogix Corp. is a leading biotechnology company engaged in the development of novel therapies for important global medical markets with significant unmet needs. The NexVasTM program is the Company's primary focus which is to develop novel small molecules that enhance ApoA-l. These vital therapies address the grievous burden of atherosclerosis and other important diseases such as acute coronary syndrome, diabetes, Alzheimer's and other vascular disorders. The Company's secondary focus is TGF-Beta ShieldTM, a program that aims to address burgeoning grievous diseases, such as cancer and fibrosis. Resverlogix Corp. trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:RVX). For further information please visit www.resverlogix.com.
 
This news release may contain certain forward-looking statements that reflect the current views and/or expectations of Resverlogix Corp. with respect to its performance, business and future events. Such statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Actual results and events may vary significantly.
 
 
The TSX Exchange does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this news release.
 
For more information, please contact
 
Resverlogix Corp.
Theresa Kennedy
VP, Corporate Communications
(604) 538-7072
(403) 256-8495 (FAX)
Email: Theresa@resverlogix.com
or
 
Resverlogix Corp.
Kenneth Lebioda
SVP, Business & Market Development
(403) 254-9252
(403) 256-8495 (FAX)
Email: Ken@resverlogix.com
Website: www.resverlogix.com
 
http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release.do?id=768040
 

CNN
Thursday, September 06, 2007
 
Video games' new frontier: The visually impaired (features AudiOdyssey)
 
By Steve Mollman
 
New interactive music video game developed for visually impaired; Nintendo Wii's Wiimote controller or keyboard used to play; Developers hope game will also be played online by mainstream players
    
(CNN) -- Forget shoot-em-up addicts -- video games are reaching out to the rest of us.
 
The greatest symbol of this is the Wii console from Nintendo. Its innovative wireless control -- the Wiimote -- has even non-gamers excited as they swing it through the air to control, say, a tennis racket on the screen.
 
Wii's Wiimote may play a pivotal role in bringing the visually impaired into the electronic gaming fold.
 
But not quite everyone has been reached. One group is still largely ignored by video game makers: the blind.
 
With that in mind, a team of researchers at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab in Massachusetts set out this summer to make a music-based video game that's designed for mainstream players and also accessible to the blind.
 
Appropriately, perhaps, they incorporated the Wiimote into the game-play, though it's optional.
 
The resulting DJ game, designed for the PC, is called AudiOdyssey. In it, players try to lay down different tracks in a song by swinging and waving the Wiimote in time with the beats. Or they can just use keyboard controls.
 
The game reminded this writer of my lack of any rhythm whatsoever. I used the keyboard version, where you're instructed to follow the beat by hitting an arrow key. Miss a beat and you get an ugly sound. Things sounded pretty ugly. But I did start to get a little better after 15 minutes and was awarded occasionally by crowd cheers. It's a fun game. And I got a kick out of it.
 
So did 41-year-old Alicia Verlager. For her, though, the fun is a bit more significant. She's visually impaired.
 
"Play is one of the ways in which people build relationships," she notes. "It's fun to take on the challenge of a game and take turns encouraging and laughing at each other's sillier mistakes. That's the experience I am really craving in a game -- the social aspects."
 
AudiOdyssey is presently single-player only, and there's no scoring system. But a multiplayer online version will be released in a few months. Intriguingly, players in this version won't necessarily know whether their opponent is blind -- and it won't make a difference in the game.
 
"Ideally, they shouldn't even know that it is designed with the visually impaired in mind, since we want to make a 'mainstream' game," says Eitan Glinert, a 25-year-old grad student at GAMBIT and the lead researcher on AudiOdyssey, which is his thesis.
 
That said, "after they find out that the game is designed to be accessible, it increases awareness," he adds.
 
Though using the Wiimote isn't necessary, Glinert believes it's a more fun and expressive option. From a development standpoint, getting the Wiimote to work with a PC game (it's meant to be used only with Nintendo's Wii) was a considerable engineering challenge.
 
And players who want to use the device will have to do a little extra work, as well, including linking a Wiimote to a PC wirelessly via Bluetooth signal (instructions on how to do this are included with the game).
 
Verlager believes AudiOdyssey's use of the Wiimote makes it unique among accessible games. It's also, as far as she knows, the first accessible music game for blind players. A startup called All inPlay offers online games, including poker, designed to allow play between blind and sighted users.
 
For Verlager, it's important that games be mainstream and inclusive -- rather than "special" and for blind players.
 
"I really get frustrated with the way blind people are portrayed as if they live in isolation from the rest of the world and have no sighted family or friends," she says.
 
Media, which includes video games, "is something people share and participate in together, a way of building relationships and exploring feelings and attitudes about real life," she says.
 
For now, AudiOdyssey is an "early concept prototype," says Glinert. But "ultimately, we'd love to bring the game to consoles," he adds. "If we get the chance we'll definitely move quickly on that."
 
The current version of AudiOdyssey is available for free at the GAMBIT Game Lab Web site.
 
LINK: More information and game download - 119Mb executable file
(Added by Leon Gilbert, blindnews volunteer)
http://gambit.mit.edu/loadgame/index.php#audiodyssey
 
(Source URL below)
 
http://www.cnn.com/2007/BUSINESS/09/02/video.blind/index.html?eref=rss_latest
 

News-Medical.net
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
 
Glaucoma surgery with novel laser device
 
Prof. Ehud Assia, of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine is, quite simply, a rock star in the field of eye surgery. One of a small number of surgeons in the world who currently perform a complicated form of glaucoma surgery, Prof. Assia has developed a novel laser device that promises to revolutionize treatment of the disease. The laser, called the OTS134 for now, is expected to give most practicing eye surgeons the ability to master complex glaucoma surgery very quickly.
 
Glaucoma, nicknamed the silent sight thief, is the second leading cause of blindness in the West. "Glaucoma is a serious problem that starts to cause nerve damage to people without them realizing that anything is happening to their eyesight, often before it is too late, " says Prof. Assia, who is also the director of Ophthalmology at Meir Hospital in Israel, which treats thousands of glaucoma patients each year.
 
The most common surgical treatment in use today perforates the wall of the eye, often resulting in collapse of the eyeball, infection, cataract formation and other complications. A more effective and elegant approach, a specialty of Prof. Assia's, involves penetration of the eye wall to a depth of only about 95 percent, leaving a razor-thin layer intact. The difference between success and failure may amount to just a few microns.
 
This highly-specialized non-penetrating surgery, requiring years of rigorous training and great skill, is performed by only a small number of surgeons at leading international ophthalmology centers. But a small observation led Prof. Assia to think about a method that could make the procedure accessible to eye surgeons without the long and involved training.
 
"Several years ago I served as a consultant for a company that produces CO2 lasers, which are used for different kinds of cosmetic and skin surgery. Because it is a relatively strong type of laser, it was not a likely candidate for use on something as delicate as the eye. However, one of the CO2 laser's unique characteristics is that it does not function when it comes in contact with liquid. It occurred to me that this would be a perfect fit for non-penetrating surgery, because the moment the CO2 laser came in contact with the intra-ocular liquid, it would automatically shut off," he recalls.
 
Working in partnership with the Israeli-based company IOPtima, Prof. Assia has already carried out a series of successful human trials. A larger worldwide study will take place this year before the company launches the OTS134 - as it plans to do in the United States - by the middle of 2008.
 
Glaucoma affects 3 million Americans every year, with onset around the age of 40. It is a disease that is brought on by a seemingly harmless increase of pressure in the eyeball. When this pressure builds up over time, the aging body cannot seem to correct the pressure effectively. Glaucoma eventually damages the optical nerve in the eye, with extreme tunnel vision and complete blindness ensuing.
 
"There are drug treatments that can reduce the intra-ocular pressure, but that means life-long treatment involving two or three kinds of eye drops three times a day," says Prof. Assia. "We find that a large number of patients don't comply with this treatment, especially because the harmful effects of not taking the medicine properly are not immediately felt."
 
Although he counsels that surgical approaches to glaucoma also carry risks, the OTS134 is a promising tool for more widespread treatment with fewer complications.
 
http://www.aftau.org/
 
http://www.news-medical.net/?id=29731
 

Scientific American
Thursday, August 16, 2007
 
Mini-Telescope Implants May Save Vision Damaged by Eye Disease
 
New devices provide hope of stopping and reversing damage caused by age-related macular degeneration  
 
Those suffering from advanced stages of macular degeneration may by the end of this year be able to halt and even reverse vision loss caused by the age-related eye disease. If, that is, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives ophthalmologists the green light to implant new miniature telescopelike devices in patients' damaged eyes.
 
The optical prosthetics, tiny enough to be balanced on a fingertip, dramatically improved the vision of about two thirds of the 206 patients studied in a 24-month clinical trial, according to a new study published in Archives of Ophthalmology.
 
"This is a good device and it offers hope for people with no other options," says lead author Kathryn Colby, an ophthalmologist and director of the Joint Clinical Research Center at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. There is no known treatment to correct macular degeneration; until now physicians have focused on trying to reduce the risk of the disease and keep it in check with laser treatment, eyewear with special magnifying capabilities, and nutritional supplements including antioxidants and zinc.
 
Age-related macular degeneration affects more than 1.75 million Americans, a number projected to climb to almost three million by 2020 thanks to the country's rapidly aging population, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Eye Institute. Macular degeneration is a disorder of the central retina, or macula, that causes the afflicted person to see a dark spot in the center of his or her field of vision, impairing the ability to read, recognize faces and watch TV.
 
The implantable mini-scope, developed by Saratoga, Calif.-based VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies, works with the eye's cornea like a telephoto system, rendering an enlarged retinal image designed to reduce the area of diminished vision. Once implanted, the device protrudes 0.1 to 0.5 millimeter beyond the surface of the pupil but does not touch the corneal endothelium, a layer of cells lining the back of the cornea.
 
This is not an easy fix, however, and surgeons are developing special techniques to properly and swiftly implant the device without damaging the eye. The device is a compound telescope system that consists of a glass cylinder that is 4.4 millimeters in length and 3.6 millimeters in diameter and houses wide-angle micro-optics.
 
The cylinder fits into a one-piece polymethylmethacrylate case with two rigid polymethylmethacrylate haptics that protrude like tiny arms and hold the device in place behind the eyeball's natural lens. Polymethylmethacrylate is a clear plastic that is traditionally used as a shatterproof replacement for glass in places such as hockey rinks and large aquariums. The tiny telescope is virtually undetectable because it is implanted inside the eye, and mostly covered by the iris, the colored portion of the eye.
 
During a 24-month clinical trial, Colby (and fellow ophthalmologists David Chang of the University of California, San Francisco, Doyle Stulting of Emory University's Eye Center in Atlanta, and Stephen S. Lane of Associated Eye Care in Stillwater, Minn.) developed and tested a preferred technique for implanting the device to most effectively treat bilateral end-stage macular degeneration, which most commonly afflicts people over the age of 55. The device can treat either form of age-related macular degeneration: the dry stage, where the delicate tissues of the macula become thinned and slowly lose function, or the less common wet stage that's caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels behind the macula.
 
The 206 patients in the study shared a number of characteristics, including stable, untreatable, age-related macular degeneration in both eyes with visual acuity no better than 20/80 but no worse than 20/800, along with good peripheral vision. A year after the trial was completed, 90 percent of patients were able to see two lines better on a reading chart, and 67 percent were able to see three lines better, which is the equivalent of doubling their vision, says Chet Kumar, VisionCare's director of business and market development.
 
Although implantable miniature telescopes are not a cure for macular degeneration, "FDA approval (of VisionCare's technology) will take a very desperate group of people and give them some hope," says Lane, a principal investigator at Associated Eye Care, who implanted six devices during VisionCare's Phase I trial.
 
Researchers are hopeful that implantable miniature telescopes will usher in successful treatment for patients with age-related macular degeneration. "We are waiting for the FDA to approve the device,'' Colby says, "so we can begin placing the device."
 
 
http://www.sciam.com/print_version.cfm?articleID=6FDB82D2-E7F2-99DF-3010AED86D1201D8
 

Gizmag (UK)
Friday, August 31, 2007
 
Web-based haptic technology on the horizon
 
While sound and sight are the easiest senses to reach with conventional media, they are by no means the most sophisticated. Haptic technology is designed to communicate through the subtle and sensitive channels of the tactile senses, which include perceptions of temperature and pressure. And researchers at Queen's University, Belfast, say a fully networked, haptic future is not as far away as it sounds. Professor Alan Marshall has begun a three year project to design the network architectures needed to support the addition of touch to the computer human interface.
 
The benefit of haptic technology is that it allows us to communicate with computers, and other users, in a way that's far more natural and comfortable than squinting at a glaring monitor, or straining our wrists over a keyboard. Haptics could also prove useful for people who, due to visual impairment, are unable to effectively operate computers as they are made today. And by making available a whole new category of sensations, haptic technology will open up gigantic possibilities for developers. Marshall imagines a future where online shoppers can feel the garment they want to buy, and where gamers feel the force of each virtual impact.
 
Marshall's team is dedicated to networking haptic technology. At present, almost all haptic devices are only capable of being connected to a single stand-alone system. Making haptic technology suitable for the internet means allowing users to share the tactile information without being overly affected by lagging or bandwidth issues. This initiative is the latest exploration of haptics commissioned by Queen's University. The University performed the first long distance tele-haptic coloration over the internet in 2003, and is currently leading a project that allows the blind and visually impaired to access web content.
 
The seeds of haptic technology have been evident for about a decade, however it has usually been applied in the bluntest possible fashion. Vibration alerts for incoming calls or messages on mobile phones are haptic, as are rumble features in the hand controllers for video game consoles. More recently, we've seen haptic arm-wrestling, haptic workstations, and haptic information displays.
 
http://www.gizmag.com/go/7918/
 

Savannah Now, GA, USA
Thursday, September 06, 2007
 
Blind couple's answering service has got your number
 
By Robin WRIGHT Gunn
 
Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 12:30 am
 
Ever called a Savannah physician after office hours? Chances are good that Donna or Robert Culver took the message and forwarded it to the doctor.
 
The Culvers' business, Chatham Answering Service, has provided off-hours telephone answering for 19 years for hundreds of physicians, real estate agents and other businesses
 
Yet few of the thousands of patients, clients or office staff who interact with the Culvers are aware that their message-takers are slightly different from most answering services.
 
Both Donna and Robert are legally blind.
 
"My staff didn't know they were blind in the beginning," said Dr. Michael Zoller, a physician with Ear, Nose and Throat Associates who's been a client of Chatham Answering Service for more than 15 years. "The first time they came in with the (leader) dog they were shocked."
 
The couple met in the 1960s as students at the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon and married after Robert graduated from the University of Georgia in 1976. They raised their two sons and have two grandsons.
 
Lifelong activists for people with blindness, the couple is active at Washington Avenue Christian Church, where Robert is associate minister and Donna plays the organ.
 
"I was born totally blind," said Robert, 55. "I received (my) sight back after four cataract surgeries" before age 6. "I'm legally blind, but I am losing it again."
 
Donna, 54, lost most of her sight at age 3 days when she was given oxygen after being born four months premature. She lost all her sight in 1987.
 
Donna founded Chatham Answering Service in 1988.
 
"I had two line telephones. They had different rings to them so I knew who I was answering for," she says. "I had a Braille typewriter; it looks similar to a typewriter. That was all I had other than notebooks.
 
"I was pretty fortunate. When the lights went out ... I could work in the dark."
 
After almost three years of Donna working solo, with Robert helping out on nights and weekends, the couple decided it was time for Robert to leave his career as a horticulturist with Oelschig Nursery Inc. to help manage the growth of the answering service.
 
"I said, 'It's time to cry uncle.' I'm trying to raise two boys at the same time. I cannot keep a house, raise two children, run the business and not have Robert here, too," Donna said.
 
Chatham Answering Service operates out of the Culvers' eastside home, assisting 158 doctors and about 30 other businesses. Currently, the company employs six people in addition to the Culvers.
 
Their first employee was a close friend who was also blind.
 
"We try to hire blind people first," said Donna. "Then if we can't, we hire most of our people from Savannah State and Armstrong. We want to help them pay their way through school."
 
Over the years, they've had between 17 and 20 employees, of which four were blind.
 
"Technology has driven us nuts," Robert said. "We have had to learn and learn and learn again. Text messaging, alpha messaging, e-mail. We had to learn all of that stuff. But the sighted people did too, didn't they?
 
"We have talk software on both cell phones. Can you imagine? Blind people with camera phones!"
 
Voice activation, sound indicators and Braille computers are technological enhancements that aid the Culvers in their work and home life. Without warning, buzzers and bells sound off in different spots in their home and in the office behind their house.
 
"Everything ring-dings and sings around here," said Donna.
 
As the answering business has transitioned from relying on land lines to using pagers, then radios and then to cell phones, each technology revolution brings adjustments in how the Culvers interact with clients.
 
"One doctor may want to be paged; one wants to be called at home; the next wants to be called on the cell phone. It makes it more complex," said Robert.
 
For Zoller, what sets the Culvers apart is their personal service and commitment to their clients.
 
"Their business has become enormous because they are so popular," he said.
 
"If they can't reach you, they have numbers to call you at the gym or at a friend's. It's not just the mechanics of calling the doctor on the beeper
 
"They know a lot of my patients from 15 or 20 years and that makes a big difference, too.
 
"Nowadays everything is so cold and distant. So many times (the service) is a hook-up so it goes out of town. I like the local person who really knows the community."
 
Robert and Donna Culver met in the 1960s as students at the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon, and married after Robert graduated from University of Georgia in 1976.
 
http://new.savannahnow.com/node/355120
 

ComputerWorld, MA, USA
 Monday, September 10, 2007
 
IBM joins OpenOffice.org to widen its reach
 
By Todd R. Weiss  
 
It will provide developers, other resources to open-source project
 
Quote: "To build on those features from OpenOffice, IBM Lotus developers built and enhanced accessibility features for visually impaired and other handicapped users. Previously, IBM had been doing this work outside of the OpenOffice community. With today's announcement, the company will stop work on its own version of OpenOffice. "
 
September 10, 2007 (Computerworld) -- IBM has gotten so much from the OpenOffice.org office suite to enhance its own products that the company has decided to finally give back in a big way: It's joining the open-source project and will contribute code, developers and other resources for free.
 
  In an announcement today, IBM said that by joining the effort directly, it hopes to develop feature enhancements and help push broader adoption of the OpenDocument format (ODF) standard used in the suite.
 
LINK:
http://www.openoffice.org/press/ibm_press_release.html
 
Doug Heintzman, director of strategy for IBM's Lotus collaboration division, said IBM has been using OpenOffice code for the past several years to create its own version of the office applications integrated into the Lotus Notes 8 collaboration suite. By incorporating OpenOffice features, Lotus Notes 8 gained integrated office applications that seamlessly work within the application, he said.
 
To build on those features from OpenOffice, IBM Lotus developers built and enhanced accessibility features for visually impaired and other handicapped users, he said. Previously, IBM had been doing this work outside of the OpenOffice community. With today's announcement, the company will stop work on its own version of OpenOffice.
 
"We decided that the time was right," Heintzman said. All future Lotus and IBM products that incorporate OpenOffice code will use code from the community rather than from what had been IBM's forked version of the project.
 
The reason for the move, Heintzman said, is that IBM is anticipates shifting demand from customers, changing specifications and wider adoption of ODF, as well as other changes expected in future office applications.
 
IBM will dedicate a core team of 35 programmers in China to the OpenOffice project, but more people will be added as needed around the world, he said.
 
Louis Suarez-Potts, the community manager at Sun Microsystems Inc. for the OpenOffice.org project, called IBM's announcement "extremely important."
 
"What it's doing for us is not only enhancing the community by expanding it," but adding future richness and additional ODF technology to the project, Suarez-Potts said. Another benefit is that IBM will add these things into many of their existing products, which are distributed worldwide, he said. "It's fantastic all around. The community is very happy about this and is looking forward to working with IBM."
 
John McCreesh, OpenOffice.org marketing project lead, said in a statement that the IBM move is "great news for the tens of millions of users of OpenOffice.org and the thousands of individual members of the project. But equally important is IBM's future commitment to package and distribute new works that leverage OpenOffice.org technology supporting the ISO ODF standard. ODF is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the IT industry to unify round a standard, and deliver lasting benefit to users of desktop technology."
 
OpenOffice.org includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, database and other modules and uses ODF as its native file format; it also fully supports other common file formats, including Microsoft Office. OpenOffice runs on all major platforms, including Windows, Vista, Linux, Solaris and Mac OS X, and is available in more than 100 languages. It is interoperable with other popular suites and may be used free of charge for any purpose, private or commercial, under its GNU Lesser General Public License. Created in 2000 by Sun, OpenOffice has been downloaded nearly 100 million times, according to Sun.
 
http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&taxonomyName=desktop_applications&articleId=9035270&taxonomyId=86&intsrc=kc_top
 

The Daily Mail (UK)
Sunday, September 09, 2007
 
Eye implant that measures pressure for Glaucoma undergoing clinical trials
 
By NIALL FIRTH
 
Eye implant that could save the sight of millions
 
An innovative implant that measures pressure in the eye could provide early diagnosis of conditions such as glaucoma, according to German scientists.
 
The tiny new sensor, developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute, will monitor the pressure in the eye which is often an early indicator of glaucoma.
 
If the pressure reading is too high, nerve fibres die, which can result in blindness.
 
The tiny sensor is a permanent implant which is fitted to the eye
 
Patients with glaucoma often develop cataracts when they get older as the lenses of their eyes become opaque. In such cases, surgeons remove the natural lens and replace it with an artificial one.
 
To avoid further loss of nerve fibres, the eye's pressure is then regulated as accurately as possible with the help of medication.
 
The sensor could mean the end of these constant visits to the doctor for such patients.
 
"We integrate the sensor in the artificial lens," said Thomas van den Boom, one of the researchers. "This doesn't impair the patient's vision."
 
The top and bottom of the sensor are formed by two electrodes, one flexible and one rigid.
 
Using a tiny antenna, the implant sends the pressure data to a reader that is fitted into the frame of a pair of spectacles.
 
The patient can view the results on a handheld device and determine whether the pressure has reached a critical level.
 
An antenna in the spectacle frame supplies the sensor with the required energy via an electromagnetic field, keeping the sensor's power consumption to an absolute minimum.
 
The eye implant is currently undergoing clinical trials and could come into general use in two to three years' time.
 
More than 500,000 people suffer from glaucoma in England and Wales, according to figures from the International Glaucoma Association.
 
Thirteen per cent of those registered blind in the UK lost their sight due to glaucoma.
 
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/technology/technology.html?in_article_id=480611&in_page_id=1965
 

ABC7Chicago.com, IL, USA
Sunday, September 09, 2007
 
Chicago airports introducing new communication devices for disabled people
 
By Karen Meyer
 
Extract: "Eight more kiosks at O'Hare and two at Midway airport are expected to be installed by early 2008. Authorities are trying to make them accessible for travelers who are blind and visually impaired, as well. "We also recognized that people maybe have poor vision and may not necessarily be blind, but services such as audio services are available, and we're pursuing that aggressively to make available services to all of our customers," said Smith.
 
September 9, 2007 - Chicago is one of the most accessible cities in the nation for people with disabilities.
 
Last month, O'Hare airport became the first to install a videophone system for travelers who are deaf and hard of hearing. The Chicago airport system is leading the industry by using new technology to increase communication access for travelers who are deaf, hard of hearing and also speech impaired.
 
The new accessible kiosks are easy to use and find. The first of 12 kiosks is located in Terminal 3 near K-1. It is equipped with a public access videophone and a multilingual touch screen monitor that provides transportation and tourist information.
 
"Our objective was to improve the traveling experience and to make sure that everybody can enjoy the facilities and capabilities available at the airport," said Grafe Smith, deputy commissioner for information technology.
 
The $8,500-videophone is the most extraordinary feature.
 
"The video relay service is actually manned around the clock and is a free service for the deaf and hard of hearing. So, you simply push the button and an interpreter comes on the screen, and you use sign language to communicate the needs that you have to that interpreter. And, that interpreter would then secure the services that you need as a deaf and hard of hearing customer," said Smith.
 
"In the last two to three years, we've almost seen a 250 percent increase from TTY to video migration, which is quite an astonishing number, and a lot of people are traveling. And, obviously, video is not wireless as of yet. So, you need to make the phone happen. So, that's why we developed this technology to be able to make video communication accessible for deaf people who are traveling," said Brandi Rarus, who created the service and works for Communication Services for the Deaf. Deaf consumer Dennis O'Brien says the system is wonderful, but it is also something that is needed.
 
"You've heard a lot of stories about airplanes and flights, and you have to change flights, and your pager runs out or you don't have a signal. And, you have to go find a video phone," said O'Brien.
 
Eight more kiosks at O'Hare and two at Midway airport are expected to be installed by early 2008. Authorities are trying to make them accessible for travelers who are blind and visually impaired, as well.
 
"We also recognized that people maybe have poor vision and may not necessarily be blind, but services such as audio services are available, and we're pursuing that aggressively to make available services to all of our customers," said Smith.
 
Brandi Rarus says she hopes other airports will follow Chicago.
 
For more information on the airports go to, www.flychicago.com. Log on to
www.c-s-d.org for more information on Communication Services for the Deaf.
 
http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=community&id=5647307
 
If you're not too tired, then check out the info below.
 
How would you like to keep abreast of breaking headlines, latest trends, and up to the minute news and do it all for free?  How would you like to save yourself some precious time and energy by going to a website that offers you daily updates by some very hardworking experts and all of this at no cost to you?  Would you like to learn how to keep your assets safe and protected from the fast fingers of those unscrupulous scammers, identity thieves, and cyber pirates?
The experts at www.untappedwealth.com can show you how to obtain all of this plus much more and they are offering all of this for free because they are bound and determined to help you stay away from those get rich quick schemes, those scams with broken promises and smoking mirrors, and those pitfalls that could land you in endless trouble.  Their fingers are strategically placed on what's going on minute by minute around the world and they bring it to you as it happens.  Take advantage of their knowledge and experience and do it at no cost. 
 
At the business desk, I'm Alix Shadonnay wishing you a pleasant day.

Important answers to important questions

Good afternoon!  I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and I'd like to welcome you to our newest feature!  We are calling this the important answers to important questions feature and we hope to bring you this weekly feature for as long as you have questions that you need answering.
Due to the hundreds of emails that we receive each week, we've decided to choose  one or two questions each week and try and answer them as best as we can.  Each week we receive emails with so many concerns and so many questions and as part of our commitment to be a true resource of info to you, we're going to do our utmost to answer your questions.  All questions will be taken from our email bag.
If you have any questions to be answered or if you have feedback to give,you are more than welcome to send your emails to info@untappedwealth.com.  We hope to generate great interest with this feature and to bring you answers of value.  So, without much ado, it's time for me to kick off our new feature.
 
Question: 
Do you think that our seniors population is being paid enough attention?  Are companies really making efforts to ensure that their needs are being accommodated?
Answer:
In my opinion, not really.  There are too many companies around who are still not very aware of the importance of fulfilling the needs and demands of seniors.  For example:
Many supermarket chains still do not offer delivery services to seniors and special needs consumers.  Ditto for pharmacy chains, and departmental stores.  Too many of these types of establishments are just too busy trying to cut cost let alone extend courtesy services to a growing number of consumers who by 2010 will make up about 60% of our entire North American population.  Hopefully though someone is listening and this trend will soon start to reverse itself.
 
Question: 
Can you give me some tips as to how to protect myself from credit card scams?
Answer:
Certainly!  Here are some top tips.
Never give out your credit card number over the phone to someone who claims to be calling on behalf of a financial company.
Never give out the last three digits of your credit card number to anyone over the phone.  These three digits are separate from the other digits on your credit card and can be found on the back of your credit card.
Each time you make a purchase with your credit card, be sure to ask for the copy of your customer receipt if it is not given to you by the store clerk.
Make sure that you shred all credit card receipts before throwing them away.  If you make the fatal mistake to throw them away without first shredding them, you run the high risk of identity thieves grabbing them out of the garbage!  Yes!  It's how those scary identity thieves work.
 
Question:
Are virtual offices on the rise?
Answer:
Definitely!  More and more small businesses are using the services of virtual offices to help them become more efficient at running their daily operations.  In addition, virtual offices help to give the appearance of legitimacy.  Virtual offices can provide such services as:
answering services, office administration assistance, can also provide you with fax services, a mailing address that you can use for sending and receiving of mails, can also provide you with conference room facilities, plus much more.
 
If you have any questions that you need answers to then please drop us an email at info@untappedwealth.com.
I'd like to end our feature  by giving you a place to visit if you're seeking top notch professional translation services.
 
 Are you looking for skilled and experienced translators/writers/researchers to help you craft your articles, blogs, business letters, emails, faxes, newsletters, and proposals in multi languages? 
Are you seeking skilled and experienced language coaches to help you learn the English language more quickly and efficiently?
Then you need to visit the folks at www.translationpeople.com.  Here you'll find a team that guarantees quick turn around, professional work, and total confidentiality.  Prices are extremely affordable and services are offered in English, Spanish, French, Cantonese, and Mandarin.
Check out the free useful information page while you're there and for absolutely free you can also tap into the latest trends and headlines.
 
 
At the business desk, I'm Kerry J Harrison wishing you a pleasant day.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Travel industry needs to pay more attention to some very important consumers or else!

Good day everyone!  I'm Jeff N Marquis at the business desk and I'd like to start the week by issuing a very stern and serious warning to the travel industry.  I hope that you are paying attention. 
Within the last year alone there have been several incidents concerning airlines not paying enough or appropriate attention to special needs consumers.  In Britain RyanAir has been called on the carpet a few times in recent times and this particular airline is now facing some heavy law suits from some special needs travelers who were treated inappropriately because of their disabilities.  Here in the United States, US Airways is now in hot water because of its treatment of a disabled passenger.  We also heard from a few passengers about an incident that took place a few months ago involving Caribbean airlines whereby this airline deserted one of its blind passengers at the airport and refused to take responsibility for their actions instead choosing to bribe the passenger to accept a menial sum of money for its lack of appropriate action. 
A few weeks ago we published an article about a hotel that was sued for its actions towards a guest and their guide dog and this type of problem seems to be increasing throughout the travel industry.
It's time for the travel industry to wake up and smell the roses.  Smell them and take action because if you don't you will find yourself facing some very weighted law suits.  I'm going to publish an article that backs up my opinion and I'll let you be the judge.
 
From: "BlindNews Mailing List" <BlindNews@GeoffAndWen.com>
 
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, USA
Thursday, October 11, 2007
 
Lawsuit alleges US Airways discriminated against blind passenger
 
By John Shiffman
 
October 11, 2007 5:30 PM
 
PHILADELPHIA - A blind Philadelphian has sued US Airways for discrimination, alleging that flight attendants ignored him after his plane landed here and that he injured his head when he tried to make it off the plane by himself.
 
In a lawsuit docketed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, singer-songwriter Wilson Charles, 28, charged that airline employees began treating him rudely in West Palm Beach, Fla., when he arrived for the Oct. 10, 2005, flight.
 
''It was really outrageous and inexcusable,'' said Charles' lawyer, Nessa B. Math.
 
Math said that it is obvious that Charles is blind because, among other things, he wears dark glasses and carries a walking stick. ''When someone is disabled, common decency would dictate that you give them what they need to be comfortable on an airplane,'' she said.
 
Charles said that US Airways personnel in West Palm Beach and Philadelphia ignored him and repeatedly shouted at him. ''Because I'm disabled, they treated me like I'm not even a person,'' he said.
 
A US Airways spokeswoman, Valerie Wunder, declined to comment.
 
Charles, who plays piano and write gospel songs, went to West Palm Beach to record a record. A native of Haiti, he was born legally blind. His left eye is useless and he can see only vague images in the other eye, he said.
 
When he purchased round-trip tickets online, Charles said, he requested and received ''priority customer'' status for boarding and exiting assistance. He said that he called US Airways several times to confirm this, and had no problems on the flight to Florida.
 
But on the return trip, Charles said, he arrived at the gate an hour early in West Palm Beach, where a gate agent told him he would have to wait until everyone else boarded.
 
''When I said, 'This is not right, I am disabled,' the US Airways guy started screaming at me. He said, 'Can't you see I'm busy?' I tried to protest and he said, 'If you say another word, I'm going to take you off this flight.'''
 
Eventually, gate agents put Charles in a seat toward the back of the plane, he said.
 
When the plane arrived in Philadelphia, Charles said, he was ignored again. When he tried to leave, he said, a US Airways employee screamed at him to sit down. When he decided to leave on his own, he said, his head hit the luggage rack, causing injuries to his eyes and head that required medical attention.
 
The lawsuit cites a federal law that Math said requires airlines to help disabled passengers board and exit planes. The suit alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, and negligence.
 
The suit does not seek a specified monetary claim, but does seek punitive damages. Typically, cases in federal court seek damages in excess of $75,000. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Bruce W. Kauffman.
 
Visit Philadelphia Online, the Inquirer's World Wide Web site, at http://www.philly.com/
 
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
 
If you'd like to learn more about how to treat special needs passengers and how you can avoid those potentially damaging law suits, then please read the following info.
 
Looking for ideas and opportunities to crack the over 50s market?  The baby boomer market?  The seniors market?  Other niche markets?
Are you seeking opportunities in markets that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe?
Are you having difficulty keeping abreast of important trends and news items because you're either too busy or don't know where to look?
Then you need to visit www.sterlingcreations.ca and there you'll find a suite of services that can help you to get where you want to go.
From writing to research, and translation to transcription.  There is even a free monthly online magazine that is crammed with very vital and valuable information.  You can even keep abreast of breaking trends and headlines for absolutely free.
Check it out at your convenience.
 
At the business desk, I'm Jeff N Marquis bidding you a pleasant evening.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Reduce your costs and increase your revenues with accessible websites

Hey there!  I'm Alix Shadonnay at the business desk and I'd like to end the weekend by giving you some very important tips when it comes to making your websites more accessible to those who are technically shy and those who do not work with newer and faster technology.  For believe it or not, there are still millions of persons globally who are unable to purchase or work with faster and newer technology because of such things as financial constraints, lack of high speed Internet connections in their areas, older and slower technology, plus much more.  In addition, there are millions of persons who are classified as technically shy because they either do not know how to access websites or they are afraid to do so.  So, let me now give you these few important tips.
Make your websites simple and uncluttered.
Write web content that is easy to understand because you need to keep in mind that more than half the world does not speak English as their first language.
Do not overload your website with fancy images because you need to remember that it takes more time to load websites with too many images.  In other words, the more images you have on your website, the longer it takes for visitors to load them.
Take the time to include the website requirements as set out in section 508 legislation.  This piece of legislation is extremely powerful and deals with ensuring that all Americans can access websites.  Failure to comply with this piece of legislation can lead to very stiff penalties and more than likely a trip to court to answer law suits from special needs consumers.  Just ask Target about this.
Finally, make sure that you imbed appropriate foreground and background color contrasts, font sizes, headings, and textual equivalents for images and icons.
It is a proven fact that accessible websites can help you to reduce internal and external costs, increase your revenues, and expand your database.  Follow these tips and you have a great chance to reduce costs by up to 50%, increase revenues by up to 45%, and expand your customer base by over 60%.  These are not my estimates but rather those of some very well known gurus of the day.
 
It's time now for book talk!  Our Amazon picks of the week.
 

Word of Mouse: The Marketing Power of Collaborative Filtering

by John Riedl, Joseph Konstan, and Eric Vrooman

I've chosen this book because it presents a fresh new approach to marketing.  So many of us tend to forget the good old technique of teamwork and this book does not.  I also like the play on words.

 

101 Ways to Promote Your Web Site: Filled with Proven Internet Marketing Tips, Tools, Techniques, and Resources to Increase Your Web Site Traffic

by C.A., Susan Sweeney

If you're looking for fresh new ideas to market your website then please read this book.  If you're seeking fresh approaches to driving traffic to your website then this book may be your answer.

 

Untapped Wealth Discovered

By Jeff N Marquis and Kerry J Harrison

This book also presents a fresh new approach to finding riches in niches.  The first edition gives some very fantastic ideas for retirees, professionals, and those seeking new opportunities.  The second edition expands the thought process to women, and focuses on stay at home moms, single parents, and women tired of the workplace. 

 

I'm going to leave you with some additional info to get you started on the path to creating your very own independence.

 

Are you tired of looking over your shoulder because you're so scared of being scammed out of your hard earned savings, your house, and your other assets?
Are you looking for ways to avoid those scams with their broken promises and get rich quick schemes?  Are you worried that one day soon someone is going to try and scam you out of your worldly possessions?  Do you know what you should be doing in order to combat those seedy scammers, identity thieves, and shady investors?
Now you can take advantage of some very potent info and daily updates plus more in order to help you stay healthy and sleep well at night.  All of this info is free for the taking and it will save you thousands of research hours, protect your savings and worldly possessions, and help you to make decisions that are safe, logical, and sound.  The experts at www.untappedwealth.com are offering you all of this at absolutely no cost because their philosophy is that if they help you then you will help others and we will become a safer and better country.  Check them out!  You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain!

 

At the business desk, I'm Alix Shadonnay wishing you a pleasant fall weekend.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Women need to gain more respect

Good evening!  I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and today I'd like to focus in on a very important topic that concerns the welfare of my women folk.  It's called women gaining more respect.
There was a time when women were really down in the dumps about themselves.  When they felt that everywhere they turned they were being barred from higher paying jobs, better careers, and more open opportunities in the business world.  There was a time when they used to feel that the glass ceiling was set very low for them and that their chances for rising above this so-called ceiling were not very good.  This glass ceiling certainly does exist but things have been improving steadily when it comes to women gaining more respect in the workplace.  Some may not agree with me, but this week our resident associate Donna J Jodhan would like to have the last word on this topic.  Donna is one of our resident experts and a very successful small business woman at that.  Not only is she a successful small business woman, but she is also a very successful author in her own right.  In addition, she runs a very successful consulting company, she helps to produce a free monthly online magazine, and she still has time to help us produce our daily blogs.  Donna J Jodhan is blind, but there are no barriers in her way.  Here now is Donna's comments of the week.
 
Thank you Kerry for that very humbling introduction.  To add to your comments:  As a blind woman who has been in business for myself for over 13 years, I have had to fight my way through many challenges in order to gain respect.  Both as a woman and as a blind person.  Often times people ask me which has been the most challenging for me.  Being a woman or being blind.  In answer to this i say both.  Being a woman is not easy when it comes to trying to make one's way in the business world but equally as challenging is being blind.  When people first meet me they look at my lack of sight and not my abilities.  I have to work extremely hard to convince them that despite the fact that I don't see much I can still think, can still hear, and can still dream things like anyone else. 
Being a woman however, comes with a set of different challenges.  I believe that it all has to do with attitude.  Much of society see women as persons who should be at home looking after the kids,  preparing meals for the family, and cleaning house.  In other words, a woman's place is in the home.  However, this attitude seems to be changing for the better as more and more of society is finally starting to recognize us for what we are.  Being a blind woman is not easy, but I believe that if I can do it then so can you.  So how about it!
 
If you'd like to learn more about Donna J Jodhan and her very successful company then please visit her at www.sterlingcreations.ca.  I'll leave you with a sample of what she does for a living.
 
They call themselves a "One Stop Writing Shop" and well they should.  There are not too many companies around at present that are able to do this and do it so well.  The experts call them unique!  They offer complete services that can help you do research, write, translate and transcribe your info into multi languages.  For absolutely free they can help you to keep abreast of important trends and news items if you're either too busy to search for them or you don't know where to find them.  They can help you to increase your revenues, reduce your costs, and expand your customer bases.  They can offer you a free online monthly magazine filled with info designed to help you keep abreast of market trends and consumer habits and articles that will point you in the right direction when it comes to finding opportunities that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe.
To learn more visit them at www.sterlingcreations.ca.
 
At the business desk, I'm Kerry J Harrison wishing you a very enjoyable fall weekend.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

ESL services in huge demand

Good day everyone!  I'm Jeff N Marquis at the business desk and this evening I'd like to put out an urgent call for ESL teachers and coaches.
For those of you who don't know what ESL means, it stands for English as a second language.  English is the official language of commerce around the world and this is not going to change any time soon.  So, we have hundreds of millions of persons around the world who are in desperate need of ESL teachers and coaches.  Let's look at this picture in a bit more detail.
First, we have practically millions of students and young adults in Asia who are practically screaming for ESL services as they strive to become more competitive on the global stage.  Next, we have hundreds of thousands of business professionals from Asia who are also bawling their heads off for ESL services because they too are trying to establish their global presence both on behalf of themselves as well as their companies.  Then we have those many global governments who are also screaming on behalf of their citizens as they attempt to establish their countries on the global stage.
Everyone is screaming!  Everyone is standing up and demanding ESL services for everyone else.  However, the last time that I did a quick survey and checked with some experts of the day, I found that despite the growing pandemonium for ESL services, there still seems  to be a woeful shortage of ESL coaches and teachers.  It appears that many suppliers of these types of services are still not aware that their skills are in acute shortage and that demand for their skills is ballooning.  As a matter of fact, many experts are predicting that if something is not done about rectifying the gap between demand and supply sooner rather than later, the situation could get very serious and even threaten to get out of hand.
So, to all of you ESL coaches and teachers, please pay close attention to this call.
 
Time now for our translation news round-up of the week.
 
CEC helps Taiwanese students to learn and experience quality ...
China Post - Taipei,Taiwan
If students and their parents see the right match, they can discuss the details of study abroad opportunities with local representatives. Translators are ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.chinapost.com.tw/supplement/2007/09/29/124646/CEC-helps.htm
 
Professional Literary Arabic Translation Services
By Blog Team(Blog Team)
Within past years modern electronic communication has created extensive business opportunities for freelance Arabic translators. They are able to reach clients from all over the world and perform their jobs at their own convenience. ...
Arabic Translation Services - http://arabic-translation-service.blogspot.com/
For more detail check out:
http://arabic-translation-service.blogspot.com/2007/09/professional-literary-arabic.html
 
Rosemary Egan lays a global foundation for city
Beaverton Valley Times - Portland,OR,USA
Even if visitors do not speak the language, translators and hosts go out of their way to make them comfortable. "They really do go all out and treat you ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.beavertonvalleytimes.com/news/story.php?story_id=119093566642613100
 
US Building Effort Blooms in Panjshir
Online - International News Network - Islamabad,Pakistan
... Army, Navy and Army Corps of Engineers, as well as representatives from USAID and the Departments of State and Agriculture, and several translators. ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.onlinenews.com.pk/details.php?id=118617
 
Starting Out
nebusiness.co.uk - UK
I come from an administration background, and also worked as a translations manager coordinating freelance translators. I realised that by pairing up my ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.nebusiness.co.uk/business-news/small-businesses-in-northeast/2007/10/02/starting-out-51140-19878586/
 
Facebook to be localized - Should we help them?
By Paula Góes
Don't get me wrong - I believe volunteering can be really healthy and enlightening, when you do it for the right reasons (and for the right people). If you want to volunteer as a translator, here are a two very good opportunities: ...
Translation League - http://leagueoftranslators.wordpress.com
For more detail check out:
http://leagueoftranslators.wordpress.com/2007/10/02/facebook-to-be-localised/
 
IMMIGRATION TO 1820
New York Post - New York,NY,USA
Africans, some of whom were translators and some of whom were slave crewmen, also came. When the Spanish set up their settlements and missions, ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.nypost.com/seven/10032007/news/cextra/immigration_to_1820.htm
 
I'd like to end my blog by guiding you to a very useful website that can help you to get started as an ESL coach.
 
Are you looking for skilled and experienced translators/writers/researchers to help you craft your articles, blogs, business letters, emails, faxes, newsletters, and proposals in multi languages? 
Are you seeking skilled and experienced language coaches to help you learn the English language more quickly and efficiently?
Then you need to visit the folks at www.translationpeople.com.  Here you'll find a team that guarantees quick turn around, professional work, and total confidentiality.  Prices are extremely affordable and services are offered in English, Spanish, French, Cantonese, and Mandarin.
Check out the free useful information page while you're there and for absolutely free you can also tap into the latest trends and headlines.
 
At the business desk, i'm Jeff N Marquis wishing you a pleasant evening.
 

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Important news for very important consumers

Hello there!  I'm Matt Chadwick at the business desk and it's time for our weekly feature. 
We'd like to thank everyone for their very positive feedback and we hope that this week's choices are of interest to you.  We continue to present this weekly feature because we are strongly committed to ensuring that special needs persons and other interested parties are kept abreast of exploding happenings in the world of technology. Special needs persons need to be kept up to date on as much breaking news as possible so that they can have a free choice as to what they use in order to make their lives more enriching and less frustrating.  We are committed to continuing this feature for as long as we continue to receive positive feedback.  So, without much ado, here's this week's selections.  If you'd like to read more about breaking news for special needs persons then I invite you to visit www.sterlingcreations.ca.  There you will find a free monthly online magazine.  Now for our selections. 
 
Table of contents
 
October 10 2007
 
1 Visually impaired develops CD to convert text to Braille
2 Research focuses on software programs for the visually impaired
3 TellMate Uses RFID to Help the Blind Recognize Objects
4 World Breaking Labor News - Birth of Talking Foods
5 Project Gutenberg's Anabasis
6 TVonics MFR-200: smallest, simplest to connect DVB-T set top box
7 HumanWare opening world for the blind
8 Producers of audio books seeking Spanish speakers
9 New 'tactile' Japanese TV
 

Express India
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
 
Visually impaired develops CD to convert text to Braille
 
By Manasi Saraf-Joshi
 
Pune, August 28: For a layman, a document in Braille most often does not signify much except a group of dots. This is exactly what prompted Satish Navale, himself a visually impaired, to design a Compact Disc (CD) that teaches a commoner the Braille language. The CD facilitates translation of the written word in books, newspaper articles and other documents to Braille.
 
"Being visually challenged, I could not read newspapers though I always wanted to. Therefore, I decided to come up with this CD, since technology is so fast paced today. The CD will help people like me read the daily newspaper at least," Navale said.
  
The idea to come up with the CD mainly sprang from the cost factor involved in printing Braille. "There are innumerable softwares which can convert simple text into Braille, but then printers that can print Braille are expensive," he said.
 
Conceptualised by Navale, his friend Ameya Bhusari provided the required technical support and the CD was created in 17 hours. "We were determined to make it," said Navale, a resident of Talegaon Dhamdhere, who is visually impaired by birth.
 
Braille language is primarily based on six dots on the right and left side and the CD teaches how to make use of these dots. It is available in the market and is priced at Rs 25.
 
 
http://cities.expressindia.com/local-news/fullstory.php?newsid=253308
 

The Towerlight, MD, USA
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
 
Research focuses on software programs for the visually impaired
 
By Daniel Gross
 
Towson professor helps blind
 
A Towson University professor's research is changing the way blind people use the Internet. Jonathan Lazar, professor and director of computer and information sciences, has been conducting research with the National Federation of the Blind to change Web design.
 
In Lazar's research, 100 blind or visually impaired Internet users volunteered to document all of the frustrations they encountered while using the World Wide Web.
 
This is one of the largest studies of blind computer users ever undertaken, according to Lazar.
 
"Most studies have only five to seven volunteers," he said.
 
Lazar found that the volunteers had many frustrating concerns.
 
"Most of the problems found for blind users were technically easy to solve," Lazar said. "Will it take a lot of time? Yes. But technically it is easy."
 
There are a number of software programs for blind people to use the Internet such as Jaws and Window-Eyes.
 
"These programs use audio technology and are known as screen readers," said Lazar. "They are strictly using audio."
 
These programs help users navigate Web sites by reading through all the material on the site. For example, when browsing through a Web site, while having a screen reader program on the computer, the program will read off whatever information is in the heading of the site and then list each of the following links to the user.
 
"Essentially it reads any text and backend code," said Lazar.
 
Lazar said that one of the problems with the Internet use among the blind stems from Web developer's faulty designs. He said that Web developer's leave out descriptions for each link that screen readers would normally speak
 
"Some pages are misleading, while others don't work at all," Lazar said.
 
The study found that the Web developers for many sites do not label links in a way that screen reader programs can easily communicate to a blind person.
 
Lazar said this is an easy fix to correct for those Web sites, but it does take time. For example, when tabbing to different links and boxes on a Web page, a computer user might highlight an image on the site, but instead of describing what the image is, it might say, "click here" when selected.
 
"This just doesn't do you any good," Lazar said.
 
He said it is all a matter of spreading awareness to the Web developers. Lazar, the NFB, and numerous other organizations are working toward training Web masters.
 
"We need the Web masters to spread the word," Lazar said.
 
Lazar said he hopes his conclusion of his research is working and that Web developers will see the need for better design and coding in Web sites.
 
"Not all are convinced that accessibility is important," Lazar said. "The key is informing people."
 
http://media.www.thetowerlight.com/media/storage/paper957/news/2007/08/27/News/Towson.Professor.Helps.Blind-2942970.shtml
 
 
 
TellMate Uses RFID to Help the Blind Recognize Objects
 
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
 
Users place passive HF tags on items and use a handheld device to record and play back identifying audio messages.
 
Aug. 17, 2007-The Braille system has become a ubiquitous tool for enabling the blind to read and write. However, S.J. Chin, founder of Singapore-based GaiShan Technology, thinks RFID could become a much richer, more powerful tool for those with visual impairments.
 
LINK:
http://www.gaishantech.com/
 
Chin has completed development of a system called TellMate, which employs passive RFID tags to help the blind identify objects they use in their daily lives but have difficulty recognizing, such as credit cards inside a wallet.
 
Some testers in Asia, Chin says, are using TellMate to help select which payment cards to pull from their wallets when paying for goods. Another tester, a massage therapist, is using the system as an occupational aid, with RFID labels attached to select bottles of scented massage oil, based on her client's preferences.
 
TellMate employs passive RFID tags to help the blind identify objects they use in their daily lives but have difficulty recognizing. 
 
The TellMate system uses 13.56 MHz ISO 15693-compliant tags. GaiShan sources these tags from NXP Semiconductors, working with Vanskee, an RFID converter in Singapore, to build the inlays into long-lasting paper or plastic labels with strong but reusable adhesive backings. The tags can be attached to objects, Chin says, then removed from those objects and placed onto others. The labels come in a variety of sizes.
 
Chin worked with SkyeTek, a Boulder, Colo., designer of RFID modules, to embed SkyeTek's ISO 15693-compliant reader into the TellMate handheld computer.
 
LINK:
http://www.skyetek.com/
 
The company also helped Chin develop the software application used to commission and read the tags.
 
The TellMate has three main RFID function buttons: one for recording a description of an object to which a tag is attached, one to play that recording and one to stop the playback. To identity an object-a credit card, for instance-a user would attach an RFID label to it, hold the handheld reader within 2 centimeters of the label, press the record button and speak a description of the object into the handheld.
 
Chin says users can record anything they'd like regarding an object. For instance, a user might record the card's issuing bank, its expiration date or its account number. To later identity that object, the user would hold the handheld within a couple centimeters of the object's tag (located via touch), then press the play button to hear the recording associated with the tag. Headphones can be used to keep the information from being broadcast aloud. The stop button can be pressed at any time during a recording if the user opts not to hear the full recording.
 
To recommission a tag, the user could place the tag on a different object and hit the record button, which would first play the message already associated with that tag, then allow the user to record a new message to replace the existing one.
 
"The whole idea behind the system is to enable the blind users to be as independent as possible," says Chin. He first conceived of the TellMate system, and decided to create GaiShan Technology, after working as an engineering consultant on an RFID-based industrial laundry application. There, tags were used to identity individual garments and link personnel to a usage history for each garment, and Chin realized they could be used to link much more information than would be possible through the use of Braille symbols.
 
Chin sees great potential in the TellMate as a tool for educating the blind. "Say that you have a map of the United States, and the name of each state is printed in Braille [at each state location]," he explains. "You could also add a tag to the map, so that a student would use Braille to identify the state, and then use the TellMate to read the tag and learn more information about that state, such as its population, or major cities, etc."
 
Chin plans to sell the TellMate system through retailers specializing in equipment for the blind in Asia, Europe and the United States. He says the system has been tested not only in Singapore, but also in other parts of Asia, as well as in the United States and Europe. Demand for the system has spread through a podcast, which one of the early testers created and posted on Web sites used by organizations for the blind on all three continents. Chin expects the system to become commercially available soon, retailing in the United States for roughly $500.
 
Other RFID-based systems have been developed around the world as aides for the blind. Chen says that what sets TellMate apart is that the handset is designed not just as a reader, but also as a more complete information system. The device includes a fully functional MP3 player and FM radio, and can be used to store voice recordings not related to specific tags. This last function enables users to keep a digital notebook of lists, observances and reminders. The device also offers a function that announces the time and date.
 
Awarea, a Seattle-based startup, launched an RFID system in downtown Seattle designed to trigger audio announcements on a range of topics, such as sales offered by local merchants and a bus's exact arrival time at a certain stop.
 
LINK:
http://www.awarea.com/
 
The system was tested by a number of blind residents (see RFID Brings Messages to Seattle Sidewalks).
 
LINK:
http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleview/1619/1/1/
 
Additionally, a researcher at Utah State University has developed an RFID-controlled robot designed to guide the blind through airports and other hard-to-navigate areas (see The Seeing-Eye Robot).
 
LINK:
http://www.rfidjournal.com/magazine/article/1553
 
(Source URL Below)
 
http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleview/3568/1/1/
World Breaking Labor News - Birth of Talking Foods
 
This historic, groundbreaking event is finally about to happen. The birth of talking foods is just a few months away and the video demonstration can be viewed at www.gourmetimpression.com.
 
Proud parent Rich Errera, inventor and CEO of Gourmet Impressions, Inc. is pleased to announce that Practical Enterprises, Inc. is now the official and exclusive Licensee to begin manufacturing and distributing his unique food embossing and impressing tools. In effect, many foods will now be able to speak their first words.
 
Miramar, FL (PRWEB) August 9, 2007 -- If foods could talk, what would they say? What would you want them to say? The birth of talking foods is only a few months away. Gourmet Impressions, Inc. has officially awarded Practical Enterprises, Inc. the exclusive worldwide Licensing rights to bring their food embossing and impressing tools to life.
 
These babies called The Roller and The Stamper are the only gadgets in the world that can enable anyone, anywhere to make foods talk. Just about any message, saying, logo or picture of one's desire can be personalized instantaneously as an embossment onto. or an impression into a vast variety of 40+ foods. Pizzas, ice creams, baked goods, deserts, fruits, vegetables, cookies, cheeses, and breads will be speaking, whispering, shouting, cooing, or even communicating in braille, depending upon one's moods , desires and passions.
 
Eat my words! You will soon experience tasty smiles from edible messages, the likes of which you've never consumed. The Culinary and Food Advertising Industries are about to be revolutionized with a new excitement and vigor, creating a fun, memorable experience for all. Every child, adult; rich or poor, every restaurant, kitchen; every country, town, hamlet and in every language will soon have much food for thought. Signature dishes will be just that, and on everyone's lips...literally.
 
Practical Enterprises is gearing up for final development, tooling, packaging and pricing to shortly begin global distribution. Subsequently, in the next few months they will be accepting all requests to pre-order to expedite shipments upon availability. Distribution channels of request for quantity discounts will also be considered.
 
Terri Phillips, Marketing Director (tphillips @ practicalent.com Phone: 510-779-6659 or 631-930-6014) urges all those interested in receiving more details as they develop and to be placed on the product availability list to immediately contact her. Be the first to be the talk of the town. Pass the food. Spread the word. 
 
http://pr-gb.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10987&Itemid=9
 

Project Gutenberg's Anabasis
 
By Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.
 
In October 2003, Project Gutenberg (PG) - the Web's first and largest online library of free electronic books - released a long-awaited DVD containing close to 10,000 of its titles. Since then, another 14,000 texts were added to its burgeoning archives. The Project spawned numerous other Web sites. Some of them - such as as the late lamented Blackmask - offer free downloads and sell their own DVD with mostly Project Gutenberg eBooks in multiple formats. Others provide free browsers and library applications specific to PG's content.
 
The man behind the Project - and, thus, the inventor of the ebook in 1971 - is Michael Hart.
 
Always available to preach the gospel of free content and its benefits, he responded to UPI's questions, joined by Greg Newby, Chief Executive of the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.
 
Q. In October 2003, you set a new target for Project Gutenberg of one million free ebooks by the year 2015. Are there so many books in the public domain? And what then?
 
Michael: Archimedes said, "give me a lever long enough, and I will move the world." Project Gutenberg (gutenberg.net) is just such a lever, enabling a single person to create something of immense value that is made available to millions of people. If we have reached a mere 1.5% of the world's population, we have already given away a trillion eBooks.
 
Project Gutenberg is a grass roots operation, never having had real funding or grants. For 30 years people said that we won't be around next year. When we started to get close to 10,000 eBooks, they finally stopped.
 
 There are lots of pretend eBook operations, but none of them produce all of their eBooks themselves, or have 10,000 of their own eBooks that can be read by virtually any text reader and word processor
 
The next big step, after we have reached a million eBooks, will be to translate each of them into as many as 100 languages, thus making them available to an even larger audience.
 
Regarding the number of titles in the public domain, during the 20th Century, there were many years in which over 50,000 books were published and the rate has been increasing throughout. Certainly there were a million titles published before 1923 that we can get our hands on, not to mention non-book items such as newspapers, magazines, brochures and advertisements, court records and other government documents, unpublished manuscripts and diaries, music, film, photographs, audio, and other art forms.
 
Greg: My calculation, based on the US Library of Congress' copyright renewal records, is that there are about 1 million books published from 1923 - 1964 that are demonstrably in the public domain. We are seeking to "discover" these items. The copyrights of only 10% of all published items are ever renewed.
 
Q. Libraries on CD-ROMs are at least a decade old. Why did Project Gutenberg wait until now to issue its own DVD?
 
Michael: Because there was always someone out there willing to do it for us. Because CD burners and DVD burners finally got so cost effective that we could afford to give away this kind of media. Because today you can't buy a computer off the shelf without a DVD drive. Until now, physical media could not compete on a cost effective basis with Internet downloads.
 
Greg: We have some volunteers willing to create CD and DVD images and we now distribute them. But we hope to find many other channels to distribute our content for free or for a small fee.
 
Q. Why don't simple scans or raw OCR (optical character recognition) output qualify as ebooks? What is the technological future of ebooks - is it Machine Translation and, if yes, why?
 
Michael: Book scanning is outsourced half way across the world and the results are shoddy and often cannot be used as input for OCR programs, to create a text file, for instance.
 
In contrast, once a true eBook is created, it has more value than a paper copy, because it can be copied ad infinitum, sent all over the world, even to a billion readers, and can be the basis for hundreds of new paper and eBook editions, all at virtually no cost.
 
Moreover, people are not interested in scans. Some Project Gutenberg sites each hand out 10 million eBooks per year - impossible with scanned images or full text eBooks due to their bandwidth-consuming oversize.
 
The "scanners" want to be the only source for "their" books, even when those books are in the public domain - and are willing to claim copyright on the public domain works of Project Gutenberg in the process. They deny themselves true access to the public.
 
Our Unlimited Distribution Model calls for everyone to have a library of 10,000 eBooks, stored on a single DVD that costs only $1. People find this appealing. There are perhaps 10,000 volunteers to create our kind of ebooks - against only a few hundred people, all paid, working to create libraries of scans.
 
Additionally, the huge scan files hold just a single book, are not searchable, cannot be copied, indexed, or cited by off the shelf applications, typos can't be corrected, and are not truly portable due to their size.
 
Project Gutenberg eBooks can be read in any manner the reader chooses - favorite fonts, margination, number of lines per page can all be modified. The reader becomes his or her own publisher. People with disabilities can use a speech engine to read the texts aloud. The visually challenged can change the font size. This is impossible to do with scans.
 
With CD burners available for under $15, and DVD burners for $100, with blank media so cheap - the cost of individual books becomes literally "too cheap to meter." And that is the whole point of the Project Gutenberg eBook library.
 
Greg: EBooks are editable and suitable for creating derivative works. They are not intended to be a depiction of a printed artifact, but a direct means of experiencing the author's writing. Today's best OCR still makes (on average) several errors per page of text, and requires human intervention to handle things like page headings and footnotes.
 
We plan to make PG's ebooks easily transformable among different digital formats - XML, HTML, PDF, Braille, audiobooks, TeX, RTF and others. Features - such as fonts, or background colors - will be selectable. Machine translation (MT) will be another of these "formats", but it is currently technologically premature and immature.
 
In cooperation with partner organizations in Europe and elsewhere, we hope to help to develop better MT software. We are supporting a project in Europe to augment MT with human translation, much as today's OCR must be helped by human proofreaders to achieve a low error rate.
 
Q. How would you suggest to balance the need to protect the intellectual property rights of authors and the need to disseminate knowledge?
 
Michael: The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in cahoots with commercial interests, leave no quarter for anyone, and seem to want permanent copyright.
 
How do you achieve balance with someone who wants it all?
 
Originally, copyright came about because the Stationers' Guild wanted to entrench their monopoly on the written word after it was shattered by the Gutenberg Press. Similarly, in the United States, every copyright extension has had the same purpose, to destroy the effectiveness of a new publishing technology.
 
The 1909 Copyright Act destroyed the reprint houses made possible by the new steam and electric presses. The 1976 Copyright Act was enacted merely to stifle the effect of the Xerox machine. The 1998 Copyright Act was a response to the effects of the Internet. When it is difficult to make copies, it is legal because only the rich can do it. As soon as it becomes easy enough for the masses to have copies it is made illegal!
 
Greg: Publishers and media houses are adept at appropriating the intellectual property rights of authors for their own profits. They are insensitive to the social contract of copyright that should result in the release of items to the public domain after a reasonable period. Life of the author + 70 years is not a reasonable period, neither is 95 or 120 years after the creation of the copyrighted work.
 
Only a fraction of the items currently under copyright are actually available, from anyone at any price. The only benefit accrues to media producers, who restrict the quantity of available prior materials so that their new material is more likely to be purchased.
 
Q. The commercial ebook industry is going through a bloodbath. Cracked versions of the newest books are available online. Do you believe that ebooks, by nature, should be free - or is there a place for commercial digital content?
 
Greg: I favor the development of a commercial eBook industry. Project Gutenberg should be seen as a benefit to that industry, not an adversary. Similarly, I see commercial eBooks as being able to benefit Project Gutenberg, simply by getting more people to read eBooks.
 
The industry is a victim of its own incompetence. They did not suffer from a lack of publicity or advertising, but from a lack of usability, standard formats, and sufficient content. They also adopted a crippling cost model that artificially keeps the price of a new hardcover at $20 or so, and a crippling industry model that necessitates enormous overhead to get their ever-decreasing catalog of items, printed on dead trees, delivered to shopping malls.
 
Fear of illicit copying (music and video) seems to dominate their thinking. At the same time, the leading organizations (the Author's Guild, the MPAA and the RIAA) are seeking to reduce the realm of fair use. Had these organizations embraced fair use, and introduced reasonable products at reasonable prices, they would not have needed to worry so much about piracy.
 
The failure of the eBook is the failure of the industries behind it, not the failure of the idea or lack of a market. I think it will take new thinkers, and new companies, to garner success.
 
Michael: Most of the bloodbath I have seen was among the commercial hardware eBook industry, people who wanted to control the reading habits of their customers, who did not want them to read anything that was not paid for and delivered by same commercial interests. When upgrades turn into downgrades to WIPOut access to public domain eBooks that used to be accessible before - that is a "Bad Thing."
 
The beauty, the purpose, of eBooks is to re-create the Gutenberg Press. Books whose replication and dissemination all over the world cost nothing, that require no deforestation, warehousing and shipping, that do not end up in the landfills of the world.
 
The purpose of eBooks is to create a library anyone can carry, weighing under one ounce per ten thousand volumes on standard writable DVDs, or one ounce per 25,000 books on double sided or double leveled DVDs. One kilo of these newer DVDs can hold 1,000,000 eBooks!
 
And I plan to have just such double sided DVDs to hand out for the holidays two years from now. . . .
 
Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Global Politician, Central Europe Review, PopMatters, Bellaonline, and eBookWeb, a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.
 
Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com
You can download 22 of his free ebooks in our bookstore
LINK:
http://globalpolitician.com/freebooks.asp
 
(source URL below)
 
http://globalpolitician.com/articledes.asp?ID=3344&cid=1&sid=112
 

Tech Digest (UK)
Friday, September 07, 2007
 
TVonics MFR-200: smallest, simplest to connect DVB-T set top box
  
TVonics has announced what it claims to be the world's smallest and easiest to connect DVB-T set top box.
 
It's the size of a matchbox, and connects via the standard aerial connector rather than requiring a SCART connection (there'd barely be room on the box). It's designed primarily for second TVs, those which lack SCART sockets, or where space is limited, and while an aerial connection could give a poorer quality signal than a SCART connection, it could prove useful for converting less important TVs around the home.
 
Once plugged in, it auto-scans for digital TV (Freeview) channels. The user simply tunes an unused TV channel into the box to view the channels.
 
Features include full MHEG5 1.06 digital text, 8 day EPG, DVB subtitles and audio description processing, and it comes with an ergonomic remote control handset.
 
It's more eco-friendly, too, consuming just 5W in use, and 2W in standby mode. It's also able to supply power to an active set top antenna, if required - could be useful for bedsits and other rooms where there's no access to an external aerial.
 
It will retail at £45 in the UK. No product image is available yet.
 
LINK: TVOnics
http://www.tvonics.com/
 
(Source URL below)
 
http://techdigest.tv/2007/09/tvonics_mfr200.html
 

New Zealand Herald
Monday, September 10, 2007
 
HumanWare opening world for the blind
 
By Peter Griffin 
 
Richard Mander is steering an ambitious expansion of HumanWare's product line-up.
 
Whatever way you look at it, the past two years have been a period of seismic change for Christchurch hi-tech darling HumanWare.
 
It was two years ago that the company's founder, Dr Russell Smith, a pioneer in technology to assist the blind, and his wife, Marian, boarded their Cessna 182 to fly home after a technology conference held by venture capitalist Jenny Morel.
 
Their plane crashed off the north Canterbury coast, killing the couple and leaving a company without the person who had steered its technology development since 1973.
 
Based a short drive out of central Christchurch, HumanWare is known worldwide for the BrailleNote, a mini-computer that allows blind people to access most of the tools a laptop user with 20-20 vision enjoys - word processing, email and web-surfing included.
 
The BrailleNote has been largely responsible for HumanWare claiming a 60 per cent share of the global market for assistive devices for the blind.
 
Blind children all around the world - the lucky ones, anyway - pick up a BrailleNote when they're between 10 and 12 years old. Many will stick with it for the rest of their lives, giving HumanWare a hugely loyal customer base and recurring revenue for years to come.
 
 But HumanWare is also playing in the much bigger and more competitive market for devices aimed at those with learning disabilities and the visually impaired - everything from digital magnifiers to talking-book players.
 
In HumanWare's small manufacturing plant in Christchurch, technicians assemble devices bound for Europe, Asia and the United States, on a just-in-time production line that's been radically overhauled since chief executive Richard Mander took the reins last March.
 
As the second anniversary of the plane crash passes, there's a sense that the company is finally able to move on.
 
A montage of photos in HumanWare's reception area shows Smith throughout the history of the company, originally called PulseData.
 
One black-and-white shot shows him demonstrating his Binaural Sensory Aid, a sonar system built into a pair of glasses to help the blind navigate using sound.
 
"We put that display up in reception the day of the shareholder meeting. Russell died two years ago. It had a huge impact. Some of the staff had worked with him for 20 years," says Mander.
 
That shareholder meeting in May was held to seek approval for a major restructure of HumanWare's ownership. The result is that dozens of shareholders have been bought out by Australian investment firm Jolimont Capital and HumanWare's senior managers.
 
"A lot of the shareholders had been with us for a long time and put their money in a long time ago," says Mander.
 
"They wanted dividend payments; we wanted to reinvest in the company."
 
The investment is necessary to fund an ambitious expansion of HumanWare's product line-up.
 
The Business had to sign a non-disclosure agreement to set eyes on the more significant upcoming additions, but it's safe to say that one product in particular is set to capture global attention when it debuts in the run-up to Christmas.
 
In general terms, HumanWare's game plan for future growth involves adapting existing popular consumer electronics and business devices so the blind and sight-impaired can use them too.
 
That means a more intensive focus on software development for HumanWare, which had revenue of $58 million in the year to June last year.
 
A partnership it struck with Research in Motion, the company behind the wildly successful BlackBerry handheld computer, is a breakthrough deal for Mander's team and points the way forward. Early next year, HumanWare software which talks blind people through the BlackBerry's menus will be available for the phone-cum-email device.
 
"In the longer term it's about getting revenue out of software," says Mander, whose vision for HumanWare is that it becomes the company automatically associated with adapting popular products so they can be used by the blind or visually impaired.
 
"If we can have HumanWare inside the box, we'd be happy," he adds.
 
Mander spent seven years working at computer-maker Apple - he met his wife, Amanda, there when the two started at the company as interns on the same day.
 
The pair learned a great deal about so-called user-orientated design at Apple, much of which has rubbed off on HumanWare. Amanda Mander, working through her company Zanzara, was a design consultant to HumanWare before her husband came on board. In a bid to improve the look and feel of HumanWare products, the Manders drove a move to bring the industrial design of products in-house. "Up to six months ago, that was done externally," says Richard Mander.
 
HumanWare has also moved to bolster its R&D capability by underwriting an assistive technology research group in the University of Canterbury's fledgling UCi3 innovation centre.
 
A bare patch of land on the university campus indicates where UCi3 will take shape when construction begins next month. Funded by the Government to the tune of $9.7 million, UCi3 matched the public funding dollar for dollar through contributions from IBM, Hewlett Packard, HumanWare, Jade Software and Tait Electronics.
 
The idea is that postgraduate students and staff will collaborate on research projects with the tech sector, creating spin-off companies and intellectual property that generates income for its owners.
 
The resume of the man recently hired to lead the centre indicates exactly the direction the university is taking with UCi3. Dr Darin Graham hails from Canada where, as the president and chief executive of Communications and Information Ontario, he forged joint ventures between academic researchers and industry heavyweights like Research In Motion and Nortel.
 
"The Kiwi approach to innovation is very entrepreneurial," says Graham.
 
"For me, I think this could have huge impact not only for the university but the industry itself."
 
The centre has seven research themes, one of which is geospatial technology, led by another import, British scientist Dr David Parker.
 
 Parker's students may spend a good deal of their time tinkering with miniature planes assisted by the Model Aircraft Association, but the research has a serious - and commercial - focus.
 
The geospatial team works on image sensor and global-positioning technology, some of which can be mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles.
 
Parker rattles off the potential applications of the group's technology: testing water uptake in crops, finding lost people, atmospheric testing, setting up airborne communications networks in time of disasters.
 
Started with a $2 million investment from the Government and $900,000 from the Canterbury region, the geospatial group landed 11 commercial contracts worth more than $500,000 in its first nine months of operation, said Parker.
 
"We're attracting PhDs from around the world."
 
 Mander, for his part, hopes to attract some top engineering talent to the area of assistive technologies and HumanWare is working with the Christchurch City Council to set up the city as a test-bed for new assistive technologies. "There's no reason why New Zealand couldn't become a global centre for this type of thing."
 
Helping hand
 
* The BrailleNote is a mini-computer that allows blind people to access tools such as word processing, email and web-surfing.
 
* It has been largely responsible for HumanWare claiming a 60 per cent share of the global market for assistive devices for the blind.
 
* Blind children pick up a BrailleNote at 10-12 years of age, giving HumanWare a recurring revenue for years to come.
 
* HumanWare is also working on other devices such as digital magnifiers and talking book players.
 
 
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/author/story.cfm?a_id=18&objectid=10462132&pnum=0
 

> Miami Herald, Florida USA
Sunday, September 16, 2007
 
Producers of audio books seeking Spanish speakers
 
By BETH FEINSTEIN-BARTL
 
An organization for the blind that opened a new studio in Davie recently is looking for Spanish speakers to record talking books.
 
Speaking into the microphone, Ely Besalel read several passages aloud from the text placed in front of him.
 
An avid reader, Besalel put one of his favorite pastimes to good use by auditioning as a volunteer to create talking books for JBI International, formerly known as the Jewish Braille Institute.
 
The organization's South Florida branch opened a recording studio this summer at its library at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie to add more audio materials for its collection, distributed free to residents in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
 
Besalel will participate in its new bilingual effort, using Spanish-speaking volunteers to make tapes for the region's large Latin community.
 
Besalel, a Jewish, Colombian-born graphic designer from Hallandale Beach, said he is motivated to lend his voice because he has a family member with vision problems.
 
''What they're doing is a great idea,'' he said.
 
Organizers want more people like Besalel. As the local Spanish-speaking population continues to expand, the library is looking to accommodate their needs. People are being sought to lead talking-book discussion groups in Spanish, too, said Goldie Witrock, JBI's South Florida Region outreach coordinator.
 
Would-be readers must audition to determine whether they have good vocal quality.
 
For its Spanish materials, the library is seeking speakers with the proper accent and pronunciation, Witrock said.
 
So far, about 20 people have been tested. Besalel was among three Spanish speakers invited to return. Another five readers were selected to do recordings in English, Witrock said.
 
''We have to keep in mind the people listening are visually impaired, so we must be very particular about who we select as volunteers,'' Witrock said. ``We want to produce a high-quality piece of literature. That's our goal.''
 
All tapings made on the Posnack campus can be copied and sent to people of various faiths and ages served by JBI around the world, Witrock said.
 
The group, founded in 1931, provides books and magazine articles on general interest topics and Jewish subjects. The library in New York has materials in Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Romanian and Polish as well.
 
Making the audio books is like creating a bridge, said Abraham Savetman, a retired jeweler from Hallandale Beach who signed on as a Spanish-speaking reader.
 
''I think I can be of use,'' said Savetman, who is Jewish and was born in Argentina. ``I try to put myself in other people's shoes. If I could no longer read, this is the next best thing, to have someone read to you.''
 
Beatriz Swirsky of Sunrise is waiting for the results from her voice test in Spanish. Being a reader is a cause close to her heart, she said.
 
Her sister, who passed away three years ago in Mexico City, had macular degeneration. ''She adored reading,'' said Swirsky, a Jewish-born Mexican native. ``If she had audio books, it would have given her great enjoyment.''
 
Some of the talking books made at the studio could one day be distributed among the region's 15 talking-book discussion groups in Broward, with 210 blind and visually impaired participants. Another 25 groups with 376 people are conducted in Palm Beach County, Witrock said.
 
The meetings are free and conducted in English. But that is expected to change as the Spanish collection grows, she said.
 
''We're always willing to start new groups for any age,'' she said. ``Our goal is to enrich the lives of individuals who are blind, visually impaired, physically disabled or have reading disabilities. The organization offers them a way of continuing to read by using a different method.''
 
For information, call 954-689-0207 or 800-433-1530 or visit www.jbilibrary.org.
 
http://www.miamiherald.com/471/story/236971.html
 

Channel4.com (UK)
Friday, August 31, 2007
 
New 'tactile' Japanese TV
 
By Source: PA News
 
Japanese electronics manufacturer Sharp plans to start shipping a new touchscreen liquid crystal display with scanner functions for mobile electronic devices.
 
Osaka-based Sharp, known for its Aquos brand of LCD TVs, said that the new screen will be thinner and offer clearer, higher quality images than existing touchscreen displays.
 
The screen can respond to more than one touch at a time, allowing users to perform tasks by making tapping, pinching and squeezing motions with their fingers.
 
The product's thinness comes from the use of embedded optical sensors.
 
Documents such as business cards can be scanned when placed on top of the screen.
 
Sharp said it plans to begin sample shipments soon, with volume production to start next spring.
 
http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/science_technology/new+tactile+japanese+tv/746252
At the business desk, I'm Matt Chadwick wishing you a pleasant day.  

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Demand for small town businesses on the rise

Greetings everyone!  I'm Jayna Sheffield at the business desk and this evening I'd like to shine the spotlight on a very real and tangent trend that is presently sweeping our country.  It has been named the small town business idea trend and here's what's happening.
More and more small towns across the United States are encouraging their citizens to create and develop small town businesses and they are using them as models to develop medium sized companies.  Then they are pushing these medium sized companies to seek markets beyond the borders of America.  Not just beyond the borders but across the seas and continents.
Hundreds of thousands of small towns are encouraging their citizens to generate small town business ideas.  They are helping them to come up with ideas that would first serve the needs of their small towns. They are showing how to pounce on the demands of their fellow small towners and then use these demands to develop businesses that cater directly to consumer demands of small town folks.  Small town chambers of commerce are assisting interested parties to do such things as:  Listen to the demands of their markets, do their research, and then use business plans to map out their objectives.
 
These very bold initiatives are catching on like wild fire and the American government is watching with great interest to see what the outcome would be. 
The American governments very interested to make sure that these initiatives do catch on and that they grow into models that can be used to give birth to medium sized business giants.  According to several gurus, there needs to be a more balanced economy of large businesses, medium sized companies, and small businesses.  At the present time, there are not enough medium sized companies in our country  and consequently there is a very wide and unhealthy gap between large and small businesses.
So, enter the small town business trend and hopefully this trend can create some well needed medium sized companies.  You can read more about this trend plus more leading trends by visiting www.untappedwealth.com/business-strategies.html
 
If you're seeking more info on other types of business ideas then please read the info below.
 
How would you like to keep abreast of breaking headlines, latest trends, and up to the minute news and do it all for free?  How would you like to save yourself some precious time and energy by going to a website that offers you daily updates by some very hardworking experts and all of this at no cost to you?  Would you like to learn how to keep your assets safe and protected from the fast fingers of those unscrupulous scammers, identity thieves, and cyber pirates?
The experts at www.untappedwealth.com can show you how to obtain all of this plus much more and they are offering all of this for free because they are bound and determined to help you stay away from those get rich quick schemes, those scams with broken promises and smoking mirrors, and those pitfalls that could land you in endless trouble.  Their fingers are strategically placed on what's going on minute by minute around the world and they bring it to you as it happens.  Take advantage of their knowledge and experience and do it at no cost. 
 
At the business desk, i'm Jayna Sheffield wishing you a pleasant evening. 

Monday, October 08, 2007

Pay attention to the importance of special needs consumers

Hi everyone!  I'm Heather DeMarco at the business desk and I'd like to start by wishing our Canadian readers a very Happy thanksgiving.
I'd like to start the week by sharing an article with you about the continuing woes of Target.  It appears that Target is simply not listening to the demands of special needs consumers and legislation that has been passed by the American government.  I am afraid that if companies continue to blatantly ignore the demands of special needs consumers they are going to find themselves being dragged into court and not only that.  They will start to lose face with the American population as a whole, they will start to lose consumers, but more importantly they will have to face some very stiff penalties.  Come on Target!  Do the right thing and stop acting like fools!  For if you don't then much sooner than later you will start to feel it when your bottom lines starts shrinking.  The American people are closely watching and they are not naive.  they know what you're doing and they will take action if you don't smarten up.
Here now is the article.
 

Internetnews.com
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
 
Target.com Faces Class Action Suit Over Accessibility
 
By Nicholas Carlson
 
Target's tussle with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) over blind accessibility to Target.com just got tougher.
 
A federal district court judge in California yesterday certified an NFB lawsuit against Target as class-action. The suit charges Target with violating federal and California statutes by failing and refusing to make its Target.com accessible to the blind.
 
Target officials downplayed the suit's elevation to class-action status.
 
"We are disappointed that a class has been certified," a Target spokesperson told InternetNews.com in an e-mail. "Class certification is a procedural ruling only and in no way addresses the merit of the claims brought forward by the National Federation of the Blind."
 
Federal District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel also ruled yesterday that both the American Disability Act (ADA) and California's Unruh Civil Rights Act required Target.com to be accessible to the blind.
 
That's a significant development because Target.com only falls under the ADA because its a service of a bricks-and-mortar store, while California's Unruh Civil Rights Act applies to services provided by any and all e-commerce retailers, according to the plaintiffs' lawyer, Daniel F. Goldstein.
 
Added NFB President Marc Maurer in a statement, "This is a tremendous step forward for blind people throughout the country who for too long have been denied equal access to the Internet economy."
 
"All e-commerce businesses should take note of this decision and immediately take steps to open their doors to the blind," he said
 
Those steps, NFB spokesman Chris Danielsen told InternetNews.com, should include ensuring all site graphics are labeled for the text-to-speech screen readers used by blind Web surfers, offering audio alternatives to visual CAPTCHAs (define) and otherwise ensuring that everything on the site accessible by a mouse can be accessed by a keyboard.
 
Target, meanwhile, contends it already does all this and more.
 
"We believe that our Web site is fully accessible and complies with all applicable laws," a spokesperson said. "As our online business has evolved, we have made significant enhancements to improve the experience of our guests who use assistive [sic] technologies."
 
To prove their point, Target cites an internal NFB e-mail from Chris Danielsen.
 
In a copy of the e-mail obtained by InternetNews.com, dated Dec. 2, 2006 and addressed to NFB Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives James Gashel, Danielsen writes that "I wouldn't have believed it, but they have indeed made some rather drastic improvements."
 
"I was able to purchase a compact disk, completing the checkout process with no major problems," Danielsen wrote.
 
Goldstein, lawyer for the NFB did not deny the e-mail's validity. But he said Target made those improvements only after the NFB filed suit.
 
Besides, he added, their improvements are not good enough.
 
"It's like going from an F to a C+, but the C+ ain't an A," Goldstein told InternetNews.com.
 
As for what's next, Target said it plans to request an immediate review of the ruling granting class certification, and added that it would continue to implement new technologies to enhance its Web site usability.
 
If you'd like to learn more about the meaning of accessibility and how to make your own website more accessible, then please read the short blurb below.
 
Looking for ideas and opportunities to crack the over 50s market?  The baby boomer market?  The seniors market?  Other niche markets?
Are you seeking opportunities in markets that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe?
Are you having difficulty keeping abreast of important trends and news items because you're either too busy or don't know where to look?
Then you need to visit www.sterlingcreations.ca and there you'll find a suite of services that can help you to get where you want to go.
From writing to research, and translation to transcription.  There is even a free monthly online magazine that is crammed with very vital and valuable information.  You can even keep abreast of breaking trends and headlines for absolutely free.
Check it out at your convenience.
 
At the business desk, I'm Heather DeMarco wishing you a pleasant day.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Important tips on email marketing

Hey there!  I'm Alix Shadonnay at the business desk and I'd like to end the week with some important tips for you.
So many persons are constantly emailing us with questions on ways to use emails to market their businesses.  In a world where over 70% of emails received each day is spam, it is awfully difficult to use emails to market.  However, there are a few tricks of the trade that I'd like to pass on to you when it comes to using emails to market your business.
First, it's extremely difficult to use emails to market your business.  However, there are some authors who seem to have found ways and you need to pay attention to our Amazon picks of the week.  This week I've especially chosen a book for you that speaks to the topic of using emails to market yourself and your business.
In light of this, I'm going to give you some home grown tips of our own that we've gathered for you.
Do not send emails with attachments of your newsletters, articles, or online magazines to unknown recipients.
Do not send emails with address of urls to unknown recipients.
If you send emails with your newsletters or articles to known recipients, then send it as word attachments instead of putting it in the body of the email.
When sending emails to anyone, be it known or unknown, make sure that your subject lines can be easily understood and that they are clear in meaning.
Do not send forwarded emails to unknown recipients.
If you are sending an email to multiple recipients, then it's best to BCC your email so that recipients won't be able to see each other's email addresses.  Many people get angry and concerned when their email addresses are displayed to others in emails that are sent to multiple persons.
That's it for us but please pay attention to our Amazon picks of the week and if you're seeking some interesting info to read on this fall weekend then take a minute to read the info following our Amazon picks.
 
It's time now for book talk!  Our Amazon picks of the week.
 

Papa Creigh Tells a Story: The Phat Phrogue

by Wm. Alyn

An extremely interesting novel with a story of wisdom to tell.  High recommended by many.  The author has done a magnificent job.

 

The E-Code: 33 Internet Superstars Reveal 43 Ways to Make Money Online Almost Instantly---Using Only Email

by Joe Vitale and Jo Han Mok

I've chosen this book in response to the many questions we get each week on how to use emails to market oneself and one's business and how to make money the email way.  I enjoyed reading this book and found it extremely insightful.
 
Untapped Wealth Discovered
By Jeff N Marquis and Kerry J Harrison
What more can I say about this book than already has been written.  Dynamite stuff for those women who are seeking new opportunities, and for anyone who is having difficulty identifying safe and rich opportunities.
 
Are you tired of looking over your shoulder because you're so scared of being scammed out of your hard earned savings, your house, and your other assets?
Are you looking for ways to avoid those scams with their broken promises and get rich quick schemes?  Are you worried that one day soon someone is going to try and scam you out of your worldly possessions?  Do you know what you should be doing in order to combat those seedy scammers, identity thieves, and shady investors?
Now you can take advantage of some very potent info and daily updates plus more in order to help you stay healthy and sleep well at night.  All of this info is free for the taking and it will save you thousands of research hours, protect your savings and worldly possessions, and help you to make decisions that are safe, logical, and sound.  The experts at www.untappedwealth.com are offering you all of this at absolutely no cost because their philosophy is that if they help you then you will help others and we will become a safer and better country.  Check them out!  You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain!
At the business desk, I'm Alix Shadonnay wishing you a pleasant weekend.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Important news for women

Good evening!  I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and it's time for our weekly feature on important news for women. 
In keeping with our commitment to help you stay out of the clutches of scammers with their empty scams, I'd like to touch on a very hairy topic today and that is how do women protect themselves from becoming victims of scams, identity theft, plus more.  First of all, I'd like my fellow women to start believing in themselves.  Most scammers usually start their operation by pouncing on those persons who don't have confidence in themselves and that's probably the case with most women.  They just don't feel that they can beat the odds when it comes to defeating those murky scammers.
Women need to stand up for themselves and start believing in themselves.  They need to start telling themselves that they can do it.  That they can overcome all odds.  That they can beat back any adversity thrown in their way.
I'd like to tell women that things can get better for them and that they can do whatever they set their minds to.  To that end, I'd like to share some very important news with them and that is:  There is a very tangent trend that is gathering steam across the United States these days and it all has to do with more and more women going into business for themselves.  If you'd like to read more then please visit www.untappedwealth.com/business-strategies.html and go to the small business ideas for woman link. 
Now I have a message for you from our resident associate Donna J Jodhan.
Hello, I'm Donna J Jodhan and in keeping with this week's theme, I'd like to impart a few words of wisdom on the subject of identity theft. 
More caution needs to be taken
 
With scammers and identity thieves becoming more and more aggressive at wanting to take ownership of our lives and our banking details, we need to become more and more aggressive at protecting ourselves from them. 
 
I don't believe that this scenario will ever change so it's time for us to get used to it.  Gone are the days when it was easier to trust others.  When we practically closed our eyes while doing business with family and friends.  There was a time when we could place blind trust in our business partners, in salesmen, and in independent insurance and financial agents.  Not anymore.
 
Scammers and identity thieves are on the rise and some of their favorite targets these days include seniors, special needs persons, women, and those who are vulnerable.  Their methods and strategies are becoming more and more sophisticated but that does not mean that we can't mount a solid and common sense defence against them.  We should consider things like:
 
Keep our social security cards, driver's licenses, banking and credit cards, and anything else with our photos safely tucked away from prying eyes.
Never give out our credit card numbers to anyone on the phone that we don't know.
Never give out the last three digits of our credit card number to anyone unless the person is an authorized person.
These last three digits can be found at the back of your credit card and are separate from the other 16 digits.
Do not give out personal info to anyone calling you on the phone.
Do not answer any emails that ask you to change your password on your online account.
Do not answer any emails from persons asking you to assist them in the transfer of money from their country to yours.  These emails typically are from persons asking you to accept money on their behalf so that they can transfer money from their country to your bank account.  They ask you to provide your bank account and they promise a hefty percentage of the transferred funds if you are naive enough to believe them.  If you go through with this transaction, they then clean out your account instead of transferring the preferred funds.
Never answer any survey by phone or by email that ask for personal info.
 
This list is by no means complete but you can use it to get a good start.  If you're determined to keep yourself and your assets safe and sound then you'll take action now.
 
If you'd like to know more about Donna's company then please read on.  Donna J Jodhan is a very successful business consultant.  She is blind but she has not allowed her blindness to hold her back.  She is one of the first blind persons in the world to obtain a Microsoft systems engineer certification and also one of the first blind persons in the world to obtain a Master's degree in business administration.  What a woman!  We are extremely delighted to have Donna as part of our team.  Here now is some info on Donna's very successful company.
 
They call themselves a "One Stop Writing Shop" and well they should.  There are not too many companies around at present that are able to do this and do it so well.  The experts call them unique!  They offer complete services that can help you do research, write, translate and transcribe your info into multi languages.  For absolutely free they can help you to keep abreast of important trends and news items if you're either too busy to search for them or you don't know where to find them.  They can help you to increase your revenues, reduce your costs, and expand your customer bases.  They can offer you a free online monthly magazine filled with info designed to help you keep abreast of market trends and consumer habits and articles that will point you in the right direction when it comes to finding opportunities that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe.
To learn more visit them at www.sterlingcreations.ca.
 
At the business desk, I'm Kerry J Harrison wishing you a pleasant weekend.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Not enough language coaches to go around

Good day everyone!  I'm Jeff N Marquis at the business desk and today I'd like to talk about a very acute shortage of language coaches.
Many people may not be giving this particular topic very much attention  but trust me when I tell you that there is a very acute shortage of language coaches and several global governments including America are most anxious to address and change this situation in a big hurry.  They are even willing to pay big bucks to those who have the skills to become good and professional language coaches.
So, what exactly is a language coach and who exactly is in bad need of language coaching services? 
In answer to the first question:  A language coach is one who has the teaching skills and ability to help someone to become more proficient in a second language when it comes to reading, writing, speaking, and making presentations.  For example, to help a person whose first language is not English to be able to read, write, speak, and present in English.  This would entail helping the person to read info presented in emails, faxes, articles, blogs, and newsletters and magazines plus more.  To help them to become proficient at speaking on the phone, carrying out face to face conversations, and presenting to groups.  To help them develop the necessary writing skills. 
In answer to the second question:  Those millions of business professionals traveling between North America and Asia.  These persons are seeking language coaches to help them become more proficient in the reading of, speaking of, and writing of those more popular Asian languages.  In like manner, those millions of business professionals traveling between Asia and North America are also seeking language coaches to help them become more proficient in the speaking of, reading, and writing of the English language.
This is not all.  Millions of Asian students are literally chomping at the bit to find language coaches to help them become more proficient in the English language and their respective governments are more than ready to pay for language coaching services.  Very, very interesting for anyone who is looking for a unique type of opportunity and the financial rewards could be very handsome. 
 
Time now for our translation news round-up of the week and we thank you much for your feedback on our new feature.
 
Kundapur: State-level Seminar, Workshop Held in City
Daijiworld.com - Mangalore,India
The trained and experienced translators will have no doubt a bright future opening a vast vista of employment opportunities, Gurudutt concluded.
For more detail check out:
http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=38254&n_tit=Kundapur%3A+State-level+Seminar%2C+Workshop+Held+in+City+
 
Translation & Interpreting Services
We can have your company website, brochures, product packaging and other documents translated to different languages for better marketing opportunities. We take pride in our professional and experienced translators who are well versed ...
Buy and Sell Philippines (Free... - http://www.sulit.com.ph/index.php/classifieds+directory/id/4/Business+Products+and+Services
For more detail check out:
http://www.sulit.com.ph/index.php/view+classifieds/id/73569/Translation+&+Interpreting+Services
 
Open Source Mission - Gospel Translations
By Every Square Inch(Every Square Inch)
Mass Collaboration - We want to enable translation through the mass collaboration of volunteer translators. We believe the Web 2.0 world has opened unique opportunities for collaboration through a community participatory model. ...
Every Square Inch - http://everysquareinch.blogspot.com/
For more detail check out:
http://everysquareinch.blogspot.com/2007/09/open-source-mission-gospel-translations.html
 
TRANSLATION, ARABIZATION AND COPYWRITING.
By Abduljalil Al-Juboory
Those of us in the business of communications, advertising and media – like editors and advertising copywriters – have a great responsibility as well as enormous opportunities as the world gets connected better and brands cut across ...
AJA Creative Media Consultants - http://ajacmc.wordpress.com
For more detail check out:
http://ajacmc.wordpress.com/2007/09/25/translation-arabization-and-copywriting/
 
Free English to Japanese Translator Easily translate between the English and japanese translator Japanese languages.Source: multiz.comDigital Manga, Inc.We have a lot of opportunities for experience and japanese translator advancement. ...
japanese translator - http://www.svyturys.org/japanese-translator/
For more detail check out:
http://www.buddahphunk.com/404/
 
French Affected by Plague, "Barbarism" of Bedouins
By David L. Boyle(Juan Cole)
If we return to the Decade Philosophique, which is not improbably, we shall have ample opportunities of shewing, with what contempt of truth its conductors treat the "enlightened people of France," and with what a daring disregard of ...
Napoleon's Egypt - http://napoleonsegypt.blogspot.com/
For more detail check out:
http://napoleonsegypt.blogspot.com/2007/09/french-affected-by-plague-barbarism-of.html
 
Do you hear the people sing? You soon might
China Internet Information Center| - China
"And our first task in China will be to find translators who can make the stories that we have already told in the West in English sound as real and true in ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.china.org.cn/english/culture/225879.htm
 
Houston Chronicle - United States
It will raise the visibility of public service in the eyes of our young people, and open opportunities for new, patriotic ways they can serve their country. ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/4264516.html
 
Open Source Mission - Translating Gospel Materials
By Every Square Inch(The Hedonese)
Mass Collaboration - We want to enable translation through the mass collaboration of volunteer translators. We believe the Web 2.0 world has opened unique opportunities for collaboration through a community participatory model. ...
The Agora - http://theagora.blogspot.com/
For more detail check out:
http://theagora.blogspot.com/2007/09/open-source-mission.html
 
Beef tour planned to Argentina, Brazil
Montana State University - United States
The tour is coordinated with local tour professionals and translators who understand beef cattle production in their regions, Peck said. ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwview.php?article=5164
 
Então e pq a Linguística?
Work as a translator or interpreter: Skilled translators and interpreters are needed everywhere, from government to hospitals to courts of law. For this line of work, a high level of proficiency in the relevant language(s) is necessary, ...
O Meu Espaço... - http://cantomsn.spaces.live.com/
For more detail check out:
http://cantomsn.spaces.live.com/Blog/cns!C556E4053BE00C0!194.entry
 
The Most Common Complaints about Translation Services
By Marian Marcinkowski Within past years modern electronic communication has created extensive business opportunities for freelance translators. They are able to reach clients from all over the world and perform their jobs at their own ...
verieewardle's Xanga - http://www.xanga.com/verieewardle
For more detail check out:
http://www.xanga.com/verieewardle/618447893/the-most-common-complaints-about-translation-services.html
If you'd like to learn more about the functions of language coaches then please read on.
Are you looking for experienced multi lingual translators and writers?
Experienced professionals who can help you to write and translate, proof read and edit, and research plus more?
Are you looking for professionals who can help you to write and speak flawless English?
Having problems getting that right someone to help you proof read, edit, and research the appropriate information?
Then you need to contact the staff at www.translationpeople.com.
You can even download free useful information updated weekly and at absolutely no cost you can also keep abreast of the latest trends and headlines updated daily.
 
At the business desk, I'm Jeff N Marquis wishing you a pleasant evening.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Important news for important consumers

Hello there!  I'm Matt Chadwick at the business desk and it's time for our weekly feature.  Important news for important consumers.  We are continuing to enjoy bringing these weekly features to you and we thank you much for your feedback both positive and negative.  For it's only through you that we can get better. 
Our objective is to ensure that you keep up to date with breaking news from the world of technology.  News and happenings that can only help you to become more in touch with what's going on.  In addition, we hope that those companies that are responsible for these break throughs, will be encouraged to send us more info on themselves.  We truly believe that our special needs consumers should be given every opportunity to know how they can benefit from break throughs and news of the day.  A special thanks to the hard working researchers at www.untappedwealth.com for assembling these articles.
So, enjoy our choices of articles for this week.
 
Table of contents
 
October 03 2007
 
1 Software firm taps Filipino to develop tools for the blind
2 Bluetooth technology offers breakthrough assistance to sight impaired
3 IBM Beats Microsoft Over the Head With Their Own Code
4 New law ends 'air prejudice' for good
5 Video Product Descriptions to Drive E-Commerce Revenue
6 Yahoo! Asked to Reasonably Accomodate the Blind by Adding Audio CAPTCHA
7 IBM and Excendia Join Forces to Deliver Speech-Enabled Mobility and Unified Communication Solutions
8 Blind and partially sighted women are challenging the public to see them in a different light
9 August Website Rankings of 100 Retailers
 

Software firm taps Filipino to develop tools for the blind
 
By Lawrence Casiraya
 
Last updated 06:31pm (Mla time) 08/21/2007
 
MANILA, Philippines -- A software firm based in Spain has tapped Filipino prodigy Roselle Ambubuyog to help develop and provide training on solutions that allow the blind and visually impaired to use the computer and mobile phones.
 
Ambubuyog, who has been blind since the age of 6, is product and support manager for Barcelona-based Code Factory.
 
The company specializes in "screen access" solutions, which basically works as text-to-speech technology that allows blind people to browse the Internet or send text messages.
 
"My job includes bridging our company's developers in Spain with beta testers from all over the world," Ambubuyog said in an interview.
 
She works remotely in the confines of her home in Novaliches, Quezon City, where she holds "office" and does things like making calls and sending email like any ordinary executive.
 
On the side, she spends time working with Resources for the Blind, a non-profit organization that administers computer training especially designed for the blind and visually impaired.
 
Resources for the Blind also acts as the local distributor for Code Factory solutions called collectively as Mobile Speak.
 
According to her, Code Factory is developing GPS solutions using the same text-to-speech principle but can also be useful when driving.
 
"GPS solutions help blind people travel more independently," she said, noting that today's screen access solutions work with smartphones that run either on the Windows Mobile or Symbian platform.
 
Her company also gets beta testers from the Philippines, but she admitted that access to available technology is prohibitive for Filipinos because licensing costs.
 
One solution, she noted, is to make the software available over the Web or package it in a CD or USB drive so users need not own a PC and can just go to an Internet café.
 
"The average blind Filipino does not even have a PC, much less afford software," she said. "We are looking at talking to Globe and Smart to find a way, for example, to make such solutions available on cell phones wherein users can pay for a specific period they are able to access text-to-speech functions."
 
Ambubuyog graduated summa cum laude and finished valedictorian at Ateneo de Manila in 2001 with a degree in Mathematics. She has received several citations local and abroad including the Heroes for Today award from Readers' Digest Asia.
 
"Technology plays a key role in making blind people more integrated in today's society. It's only a matter of introducing technology to them,"
 
 
http://technology.inquirer.net/infotech/infotech/view_article.php?article_id=83858
 

Bluetooth technology offers breakthrough assistance to sight impaired
 
Standing on a street corner one snowy Oakland evening, Priya Narasimhan watched a blind man struggle to catch a bus.
 
She felt inspired to help in some way.
 
So began Trinetra-the Sanskrit word for the powerful third eye of the Hindu god-an affordable, smartphone-enabled software that helps the visually impaired with daily activities. Still in the development stage, the technology uses Bluetooth-enabled cell phones to read barcode information to identify grocery store items. It also helps read bus schedules and determine currency.
 
Using this technology, a visually impaired person can shop for groceries without assistance and may distinguish between products in the refrigerator, Narashimha explains.  Using a bar code-reading pencil, the scanned product is sent via the wireless headset to an Internet-enabled cell phone. The phone communicates with a public database, which translates the bar code into a recognizable product name. The technology has unlimited implications for future technologies as well, she adds.
>arasimhan, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at CMU, is looking for a commercial partner. She plans to put it on the market early next year. "This hasn't let go of me, it has consumed my passion as we hope to get this in blind people's hands without a huge mark up."
 
rinetra and her company BeaconSys Inc. was personally financed with an additional $7,500 from the state-run Pennsylvania Cyber Security Commercialization Initiative. To join the mailing list for future product updates, click here.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Priya Narasimhan
Image courtesy of Priya Narasimhan
 
 
http://www.popcitymedia.com/timnews/blindtech0822.aspx
 

> IBM Beats Microsoft Over the Head With Their Own Code
 
bednarz writes
 
"IBM has added a twist to its new commitment to help OpenOffice.org battle Microsoft Office by donating code that was originally derived in part from a Microsoft-developed technology.
 
LINK:
http://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/091007-ibm-accessibility.html
 
IBM's iAccessible2, code-named Project Missouri, is a specification for technology used to help the visually impaired interact with Open Document Format (ODF)-compliant applications and was developed in part using Microsoft Active Accessibility (MAA). 'When the specification was donated to the Linux Foundation, Oracle, Sun, and SAP committed to help with future development. Mozilla is committed to incorporating it into its Firefox browser, and vendors GW Micro and Freedom Scientific will also use it in their own screen reader products. In addition, Project Missouri has won accolades from the American Association of People with Disabilities, the American Foundation for the Blind, and the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science.'"
 
Posted by Zonk on Tuesday September 11, @11:41AM
 
 
http://it.slashdot.org/it/07/09/11/155223.shtml
 

New law ends 'air prejudice' for good
 
By Chris Briddon
 
A landmark law, pioneered by Hounslow MEP Robert Evans, has come into force which will affect seven million disabled, blind and elderly people across the UK and Europe.
 
The regulations mean that passenger planes and holiday companies, including airlines like Ryanair, can no longer refuse to fly people on the basis of their disability.
 
Seven million passengers require assistance at airports across Europe every year, but until now risked being kicked off their flights at the last minute.
 
Horror stories have included: nine blind and partially sighted travellers being ejected from a Ryanair flight because there were too many disabled people on the plane.
 
A woman born without limbs who was told by an Air France employee that, "a torso cannot possibly fly on its own".
 
Passengers that have been charged by Stansted and Ryanair to hire wheelchairs to get from check-in to the departure gate.
 
Robert Evans MEP said:"It is incredible that people with reduced mobility have suffered neglect and maltreatment in airports as late as 2007. Some UK airports have put in place admirable measures to assist people, and I welcome these efforts, but voluntary agreements are not a proper substitute for the law".
 
"Travelling by air is now almost as common as by car, with up to half the population (30 million people) expected to fly at least once a year. With a large proportion of travel taking place inside Europe, it was vital this law be passed at the European level".
 
Additional regulations will come into force next year to ensure passengers requiring assistance are given a designated point of arrival, and will be provided a seamless service from check-in to the departure gate. Additionally, airport staff will have to undertake disability awareness training.
 
Elderly Hounslow resident, Syd Yates said:"I should be able to travel as freely as everybody else, regardless of my mobility requirements. Maltreatment on the basis of age or disability is disgusting and should be properly addressed. I am delighted that it is now illegal for this kind of discrimination to take place".
 
5:57pm Monday 20th August 2007
 
http://www.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk/mostpopular.var.1625908.mostviewed.new_law_ends_air_prejudice_for_good.php
 

Video Product Descriptions to Drive E-Commerce Revenue
 
By Written by EditorsChoice
 
ThanksDarling.com incorporates online video capability and discovers a better way to deliver targeted messages to its customers.
 
London, UK (PRWEB) August 2, 2007 -- E-Commerce experts agree that the lack of personal touch is a continuing barrier to online shopping for many people. ThanksDarling.com is addressing this challenge by providing videotaped product descriptions designed to help visitors feel more inclined to click the order button.
 
"At ThanksDarling.com we've found that online e-commerce videos grab and hold our customers' attention better than any other advertising medium we've tried so far," according to Janette Vince, Managing Director of Thanksdarling Ltd., a U.K.-based company offering unusual and one-of-a-kind gifts and experience day gifts through its website ThanksDarling.com.
 
"I firmly believe video advertisements will be the next big online marketing medium," Vince added. She points to Google's efforts at expanding its video searches as proof.
 
Online video capability is especially valuable for the visually impaired who oftentimes have trouble fully appreciating products they cannot see online. With online videotape they can now hear product and service descriptions.
 
To see and hear the difference TV style presentations make on a website offering visit
 
http://www.thanksdarling.com/video/thanksdarling-video.htm
 
Or for more information contact Janette Vince.
 
Contact:
 
Janette Vince, Managing Director
Thanksdarling Ltd.
Unit 3, Omega Works,
Roach Road,
Fish Island,
London
E3 2PD
Tel: 0870 606 66 66
Fax: 0870 241 46 96
Website: www.thanksdarling.com
 
 

Yahoo! Asked to Reasonably Accomodate the Blind by Adding Audio CAPTCHA
 
An online petition is being circulated worldwide asking Yahoo! to implement an audio alternative to their graphical CAPTCHA (visual verification) process so that the blind and visually impaired will be afforded the same level of access enjoyed by the sighted. All Internet users are asked to sign this petition and support the concept that the blind and visually impaired should be reasonably accomodated with respect to multifactor authentication and visual verification systems.
 
Tempe, AZ (PRWEB) August 3, 2007 -- An online petition is being circulated worldwide asking Yahoo! to implement an audio alternative to their graphical CAPTCHA (visual verification) process so that the blind and visually impaired will be afforded the same level of access enjoyed by the sighted. All Internet users are asked to sign this petition and support the concept that the blind and visually impaired should be reasonably accomodated with respect to multifactor authentication and visual verification systems.
 
All blind and sighted Internet users are requested to sign the Yahoo! Accessibility Improvement Petition at
 
http://BlindWebAccess.com
 
asking Yahoo! to make available an audio alternative to their CAPTCHA as a reasonable accomodation affording blind and visually impaired people the same access to the company's resources as that currently granted the sighted.
 
Right now, Yahoo!'s graphical visual verification prevents full independent access by the blind and visually impaired computer user to many of the company's services. Pictures can't be interpreted or automatically conveyed using Braille or speech access devices. Until an accessible alternative is made available, people with vision loss can't see the code to be entered into the box to be granted admission.
 
Signing the petition tells Yahoo! you want them to provide an alternative way for blind users to verify their human status. If you close your eyes, don't get caught by the CAPTCHA! Please visit www.BlindWebAccess.com and sign the Yahoo! Accessibility Improvement Petition today.
 
###
 
Contact Information 
DARRELL SHANDROW
Blind Access Journal
http://www.blindaccessjournal.com
602-903-3820
Darrell Shandrow
Yahoo! Accessibility Improvement Petition
http://blindwebaccess.com
480-966-0922 
 
http://pr-gb.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9658&Itemid=9
 

IBM and Excendia Join Forces to Deliver Speech-Enabled Mobility and Unified Communication Solutions
 
By Press Release
 
For immediate release: IBM AND EXCENDIA JOIN FORCES TO DELIVER SPEECH-ENABLED MOBILITY AND UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS SOLUTIONS
 
Quote!" It also for the first time gives visually impaired or dyslexic users the ability to send and receive emails. Now even the blind can enjoy the benefits of sending and receiving emails."
 
Integration of Excendia speech-enabled Virtual Assistant with IBM WebSphere Voice Server offers unprecedented hands-free, eyes-free mobility and unified communication solutions.
 
New York, NY - August 20, 2007 Excendia, a leading developer of speech-enabled unified communications and speech mobility solutions, announced today the availability of Excendia Virtual Assistant© on IBM WebSphere Voice Server. The solution provides mobile workers with hands-free, eyes-free access to their business information and office communications tools from any telephone as if they were sitting at their desk.
 
Using speech commands over any telephone, users of the solution can access and manage their phone calls, e-mails, appointments and contacts while on the road, driving or visiting customers. They can listen and reply to their e-mail messages, review and schedule appointments, call contacts by name or send them voice e-mails. Excendia uses the IBM WebSphere speech recognition and text-to-speech technologies to understand user voice commands and deliver text content over the phone.
 
We are excited about this new agreement between Excendia and IBM that combines Excendias speech-enabled UC and Mobility capabilities with WebSphere Voice Server to create new capabilities and solutions for customers, said Brian Garr, Program Director for Speech for IBM Software Group
 
"Excendia Virtual Assistant translates the openness of IP Telephony and speech technologies into real benefits for users," noted Gabor Barta, Vice-President, Sales and Business Development at Excendia. "It brings efficient mobility and time savings through a simple and affordable solution that can be configured for multi language, multi service and multi tenant use. In essence it turns any phone into your virtual office with a 24 X 7 personal assistant. It also for the first time gives visually impaired or dyslexic users the ability to send and receive emails. Now even the blind can enjoy the benefits of sending and receiving emails."
 
Excendia Virtual Assistant acts as a bridge between the user and her/his office messaging and telephone infrastructure to deliver new and unique services. In fact, Excendia uses the business data to make the phone intelligent, and uses the company phone to make corporate data accessible remotely.
 
"Excendia brings the kind of services that our corporate customers would love to offer to their executives and mobile sales force," said Stephen Dorsey, President and CEO of babyTEL, a leading VoIP service provider. "It's easy to install, easy to use, integrates well with VoIP and mail systems, and its accurate. Since we installed it at our offices, I'm using my time more effectively. I can process my emails, make calls, and review and schedule appointments while on the way to the office - all from a basic cell or office telephone. "
 
About IBM
IBM is the world's largest information technology company, with 90 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. IBM Software offers a wide range of middleware and operating systems for all types of computing platforms, allowing customers to take full advantage of the on demand era. The fastest way to get more information about IBM software is through the IBM Software home page at http://www.software.ibm.com
 
About Excendia
Excendia develops speech-enabled virtual assistants and unified communications software for mobile business people. Its products marketed under the Excendia© brand leverage the voice and data convergence to deliver next generation intelligent business communications. Excendia© is sold through a network of service providers and resellers around the globe. For more information, please call 1-866-EXCENDIA or 514-765-8484 or visit the web site at http://www.excendia.com.
 
# # #
 
For more information, contact:
Steve Tomasco
IBM
914-945-1655
stomasc@us.ibm.com
 
Gabor Barta
Excendia, Inc.
514-765-8480
gabor.barta@excendia.com
 
http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2007/08/17/2871272.htm
 

Blind and partially sighted women are challenging the public to see them in a different light
 
MCSC Ann Marie Houston: For one sight only! Diamonds and white dresses
 
BLIND and partially sighted women are challenging the public to see them in a different light.
 
Forget white sticks and think shimmering in white dresses and dazzling in diamonds.
 
That's exactly what Strabane woman Anne Marie Houston, Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) Project officer, will be donning at the launch of the new Derry office, which will service the West, including Tyrone, this Saturday evening.
 
She said, "A common perception of blind and visually impaired (VI) people is of self-conscious and low-achieving individuals who depend on others and are resigned to their fate. However, this is not the reality.
 
"Low expectations can dictate what we allow ourselves to be but local blind and visually impaired women invite you to challenge this misconception at the official Project Launch on Saturday.
 
"Last October RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind and Partially-Sighted People) opened its doors to the women of the West, making its services more accessible to those living beyond the Greater Belfast area.
 
The EASW Project (Employability and Skills for Women) aims to equip its members with the tools to successfully overcome the unique challenges they face as a result of their sight loss.
 
Offering confidence building, personal development, mentoring, IT training and volunteer placements.
 
Annmarie Houston, herself visually impaired, is passionately committed to introducing and supporting these women in furthering their careers and in developing a more positive attitude to their future. "
 
The Derry office, based at Magazine Street, is open to all women who consider themselves to have a sight problem. If you, a family member or someone you know feels limited by imperfect vision, all those involved with the project invite you to contact them, by phone, email or, better still, in person.
 
In recent months the project has provided support and training to around fifty women, who were either born with or later developed sight difficulties, enabling them to fulfil their true potential. Members are aged 16 to 65 and resident throughout the west, including Tyrone.
 
It's time to celebrate the achievements of all its members and to encourage more women and their families to avail of the services and support in the future.
 
Anne Marie adds, "These VIPs will be getting all glammed up to make an impact contrary to popular perception, appearing on the night dressed in white and diamonds - for one sight only!"
 
"Friends" a fantastic group from Strabane will be playing and a great night is promised to all.
 
For tickets (£20-dinner dance or £5-dance only) or any further information, please contact Annmarie on 71 366 060, Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm or via email: annmarie.houston@rnib.org.uk.
 
 
http://www.nwipp-newspapers.com/SC/free/311233222348543.php
> The Retail Bulletin (UK)
Friday, August 24, 2007
 
August Website Rankings of 100 Retailers
There have been many serious movers within the table of 100 retail websites tested this month, with Majestic maintaining its position at the head of the pack.
 
But this is something of an exception as the results show that most sites continue to score poorly.
 
Whereas Majestic scored a very creditable 8.56 out of 10 only four per cent of the rest of the sites tested scored above seven out of 10, which in the analysis undertaken is considered the minimum acceptable score. To put this in context a healthy 18 per cent of FTSE 100 sites scored above this threshold.
 
This comprehensive list of 100 sites, which includes not only the largest players but also some of the smaller specialist online merchants, has been created by The Retail Bulletin and specialist website testing company SiteMorse that used its automated testing of the first 125 pages of each retailer's site to generate a ranked table.
 
Among the major movers was Ann Summers that was plumb last in July but has moved up 29 places. It was only bettered by Woolworths that jumped 32 places to position 28. Of the fallers, Topshop was pretty dramatic with a decline from five in the table with a score of 7.15 to a lowly 47 with only 3.35 out of 10. The only retailer to perform worse was Hamleys that fell by a massive 56 places with its score deteriorating from 4.68 to only 1.54.
 
Gareth Jones, marketing director at SiteMorse, says he finds it surprising that some of the pure-play merchants perform so badly, with Amazon positioned at 88, Play.com 80, eBay 72 and Dell 58: "They have no other means of selling other than through their websites but all the big names are in the bottom quartile."
 
Another surprise to Jones is that 21 per cent of the 100 sites failed on the basic tests for accessibility (for visually impaired people), which compares with a failure by only four per cent of FTSE 100 sites. He says this effectively excludes a vast amount of potential retail business because it is estimated that £60 billion of spending power is in the hands of the four million people that suffer from some form of disability.
 
"It's bizarre that these retailers whose sole purpose is to sell goods choose to exclude people with this level of purchasing power. And by making their sites more accessible [to visually impaired people] it also tends to make them easier for everybody else to navigate," says Jones.
 
However, one good sign this month was that only Screwfix, Habitat and Gap could not be tested - either because they were not available or they are reliant on 'assistive' technology, which SiteMorse believes breaks the general "rules of accessibility" of internet sites.
 
(See source page for fully readable table)
 
1 ~ www.majestic.co.uk 8.56 ok 123 0.00%
2 + 2 www.next.co.uk 7.80 ok 1 16.00%
3 ~ direct.tesco.com 7.40 ok 3 0.00%
4 + 2 www.scssofas.co.uk 7.14 ok 134 0.00%
5 + 9 www.toysrus.co.uk 6.74 ok 4 4.80%
6 + 4 www.fenwick.co.uk 6.61 fail 55 0.00%
7 + 1 www.dfsonline.co.uk 6.58 ok 0 92.25%
8 - 1 www.hsamuel.co.uk 6.50 ok 137 0.00%
9 - 7 www.morrisons.co.uk 6.49 fail 29 1.92%
10 + 1 www.visionexpress.com 6.49 fail 236 6.35%
11 + 4 www.net-a-porter.com 6.46 ok 1 100.00%
12 - 3 www.bargainbooze.co.uk 6.46 ok 1 38.46%
13 excluded last time www.adams.co.uk 6.32 ok 6 0.00%
14 + 5 www.superdrug.com 6.14 ok 3 4.69%
15 - 3 www.bhs.co.uk 6.04 ok 527 10.24%
16 - 3 www.t-mobile.co.uk 5.84 ok 16 5.60%
17 - 1 www.nbrown.co.uk 5.69 fail 4 99.04%
18 ~ www.jdsports.co.uk 5.58 ok 4 100.00%
19 + 1 www.landofleather.co.uk 5.46 ok 5 38.61%
20 + 4 www.threshergroup.com 5.19 fail 12 40.82%
21 + 2 www.firebox.com 5.16 ok 8 51.20%
22 + 9 www.packardbell.co.uk 5.06 ok 32 89.08%
23 + 6 www.lakeland.co.uk 4.96 ok 273 32.56%
24 + 9 www.danda.co.uk 4.78 ok 155 0.80%
25 - 4 www.o2.co.uk 4.70 ok 156 0.00%
26 + 6 www.hollandandbarrett.com 4.62 ok 7 1.56%
27 - 1 www.johnlewis.com 4.60 ok 519 20.93%
28 + 32 www.woolworths.co.uk 4.44 ok 9 100.00%
29 - 2 www.jjbsports.com 4.39 fail 0 91.34%
30 - 13 www.directspecs.co.uk 4.36 ok 0 100.00%
31 + 3 www.wickes.co.uk 4.34 ok 10 3.88%
32 + 9 www.ikea.com 4.31 fail 49 51.59%
33 + 2 www.mandco.com 4.28 ok 1 100.00%
34 + 20 www.harveynichols.com 4.20 ok 65 28.00%
35 - 8 www.furniturevillage.co.uk 4.19 fail 4 100.00%
36 ~ www.houseoffraser.co.uk 4.16 ok 113 89.60%
37 + 2 www.figleaves.com 4.14 ok 259 100.00%
38 - 1 www.waterstones.com 4.10 ok 188 40.80%
39 + 19 www.lasenza.co.uk 4.04 ok 131 100.00%
40 - 18 www.game.co.uk 3.90 ok 26 70.87%
41 - 16 www.coop.co.uk 3.82 ok 8 10.94%
42 + 3 www.halfords.com 3.76 ok 36 27.20%
43 + 3 http://www.apple.com/itunes/ 3.56 ok 23 8.06%
44 + 7 www.asos.com 3.50 ok 621 100.00%
44 - 6 www.waitrose.com 3.50 ok 263 92.86%
46 + 3 www.freemans.com 3.37 fail 39 89.60%
47 - 42 www.topshop.co.uk 3.35 fail 258 0.79%
47 excluded last time www.debenhams.com 3.35 fail 266 2.40%
49 - 5 www.vodafone.co.uk 3.32 ok 126 98.43%
50 + 3 www.comet.co.uk 3.30 ok 81 11.90%
51 - 3 www.specsavers.co.uk 3.18 ok 5 17.46%
52 ~ www.asda.co.uk 3.13 fail 43 65.22%
53 + 6 www.disney.co.uk 3.12 ok 446 72.00%
54 + 23 www.focusdiy.co.uk 3.09 fail 18 97.66%
55 + 15 www.sainsburys.co.uk 3.06 ok 137 4.00%
56 + 28 www.virginmegastores.co.uk 3.02 ok 187 17.97%
57 - 15 www.lauraashley.com 2.93 fail 173 99.21%
58 - 2 www.littlewoods.com 2.88 ok 860 36.00%
59 + 31 www.euro.dell.com 2.88 ok 86 63.20%
60 - 17 www.qvcuk.com 2.66 ok 2346 59.52%
61 + 7 www.bordersstores.co.uk 2.66 ok 61 41.09%
62 - 1 www.homebase.co.uk 2.62 ok 958 40.00%
63 + 7 www.carphonewarehouse.com 2.60 ok 2680 98.40%
64 - 2 www.orange.co.uk 2.58 ok 7628 17.46%
65 - 1 www.marksandspencer.com 2.52 ok 2989 11.81%
66 + 29 www.annsummers.com 2.48 ok 118 98.40%
67 - 1 www.argos.co.uk 2.42 ok 207 58.27%
68 - 4 www.thorntons.co.uk 2.42 ok 174 100.00%
69 - 14 www.matalan.co.uk 2.41 fail 1471 73.64%
70 - 1 www.mothercare.com 2.28 ok 3052 66.14%
71 - 31 www.robertdyas.co.uk 2.27 fail 72 0.78%
72 - 16 www.phones4u.co.uk 2.26 ok 110 99.22%
72 - 22 www.ebay.co.uk 2.26 ok 168 93.65%
74 - 10 www.petsathome.com 2.20 ok 180 27.91%
75 + 15 www.harrods.com 2.16 ok 132 98.45%
76 - 9 www.hmv.co.uk 2.16 ok 180 17.83%
77 - 30 www.rosebys.com 2.05 fail 1363 100.00%
78 - 3 www.jessops.com 2.04 ok 46 0.00%
79 - 7 www.staples.co.uk 1.90 ok 387 100.00%
80 - 6 www.play.com 1.88 ok 92 100.00%
81 - 3 www.boots.com 1.83 fail 629 95.20%
82 - 6 www.goldsmiths.co.uk 1.76 ok 19 96.12%
83 - 10 www.blacks.co.uk 1.67 fail 6950 26.56%
84 ~ www.endless.com 1.62 ok 1198 100.00%
85 - 5 www.ebuyer.com 1.62 ok 1269 100.00%
86 - 56 www.hamleys.com 1.54 ok 253 99.21%
87 - 5 www.clintoncards.co.uk 1.40 ok 186 79.84%
88 - 4 www.amazon.co.uk 1.36 ok 740 100.00%
89 + 2 www.dixons.co.uk 1.30 ok 16 100.00%
90 + 3 www.jonesbootmaker.com 1.28 ok 128 100.00%
91 - 11 www.diy.com 1.25 fail 235 19.38%
92 ~ www.currys.co.uk 1.15 fail 46 89.84%
93 - 9 www.elc.co.uk 1.04 ok 1493 75.97%
94 - 10 www.pcworld.co.uk 0.94 ok 124 100.00%
95 - 14 www.maplin.co.uk 0.94 ok 1700 76.19%
96 - 13 www.whsmith.co.uk 0.92 ok 180 42.64%
97 - 3 www.oddbins.com 0.71 fail 714 96.09%
NA http://www.habitat.net/uk/ excluded
NA www.gap.com excluded
NA www.screwfix.com excluded
 
 
http://www.theretailbulletin.com/?tag=013c17ae3d8adf097f5ddd872096b8fe
At the business desk, i'm Matt Chadwick wishing you a very enjoyable evening.

A very lucrative business opportunity for you

Greetings everyone!  I'm Jayna Sheffield at the business desk and this morning I'd like to point you in the right direction of a very new type of business opportunity.  You may be quite surprised at what I am going to tell you but if you're interested then here goes.
More and more persons are seeking printing services.  Companies to print their brochures, presentations, business cards, resumes, manuals, and so much more.  In addition, they are seeking graphics design services and this falls right into the laps of printing service companies. 
In today's world, it's no longer enough to print materials that are straight forward with nice words.  No!  everyone is seeking nice words and nice looking text with an edge.  Text that is well laid out, with snappy graphics and icons, and graphics that stand out.  More and more persons are realizing that in order to catch the attention of their customers and potential employers, they need to do it with a combination of crafty words and nifty graphics.
Enter printing service companies.  A business that is very well suited to small business and even medium sized companies.  You could think of it as a one stop printing shop where you offer end to end services.  Then why not throw in those translation services so that if persons want their stuff in foreign languages, then all you have to do is to translate the material into the desired language and bingo!  You can now print it but there is something about offering the translation end of things. 
This could potentially help you to stand out from your competition.  The key here is to offer printing services with an edge.  Yes, you print any and everything.  However, you also translate and print materials as well.  UPS has started to offer printing services and you should check out what they're offering.  In the meantime, I'll introduce you to a translation service that you may want to think of hooking up with.
Have fun!
 
Are you looking for skilled and experienced translators/writers/researchers to help you craft your articles, blogs, business letters, emails, faxes, newsletters, and proposals in multi languages? 
Are you seeking skilled and experienced language coaches to help you learn the English language more quickly and efficiently?
Then you need to visit the folks at www.translationpeople.com.  Here you'll find a team that guarantees quick turn around, professional work, and total confidentiality.  Prices are extremely affordable and services are offered in English, Spanish, French, Cantonese, and Mandarin.
Check out the free useful information page while you're there and for absolutely free you can also tap into the latest trends and headlines.
 
At the business desk, I'm Jayna Sheffield wishing you a pleasant day.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Travel industry in need of accessibility experts

Hi everyone!  I'm Heather DeMarco at the business desk and this evening I'd like to bring your attention to a very unique type of opportunity that is just waiting for you to snap it up.
This opportunity exists in the travel industry and it has to do with the demand for more accessibility experts and consultants to help this industry to become more friendly to those consumers who have special needs.  Within the last year we've seen several cases of various airlines and hotels being found guilty of not serving special needs consumers appropriately.  I truly believe that if these offenders expect to remain in business, they will have to change their tune in a hurry and start paying more close attention to the demands and needs of special needs travelers.  For if they don't, many global governments including the American government are going to come down hard on them. 
Recently, Ryanair in Britain was found guilty of mistreating a group of blind passengers and they were appropriately punished.  I'm going to publish an article that is presently making the rounds and it tells of a motel that was caught not treating a blind patron correctly.
I urge you to read this, and then put your thinking caps on.  For this could be the opportunity that you may just be seeking.  A unique opportunity in a very niche market to become a special needs and accessibility consultant to companies in the travel industry.  If you'd like to learn more about accessibility then read on.  After this, please read our article.
 
Looking for ideas and opportunities to crack the over 50s market?  The baby boomer market?  The seniors market?  Other niche markets?
Are you seeking opportunities in markets that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe?
Are you having difficulty keeping abreast of important trends and news items because you're either too busy or don't know where to look?
Then you need to visit www.sterlingcreations.ca and there you'll find a suite of services that can help you to get where you want to go.
From writing to research, and translation to transcription.  There is even a free monthly online magazine that is crammed with very vital and valuable information.  You can even keep abreast of breaking trends and headlines for absolutely free.
Check it out at your convenience.
 
Here now is the article that I referred to previously.
 
The Chattanoogan, Tennessee USA
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
 
Dalton Motel Agrees To Settlement In ADA Case
 
The manager of a Dalton, Ga., motel has agreed to a settlement of a complaint filed by a man who is legally blind, who said he was denied a room at the motel because he had a service animal.
 
Owners of the Travelodge in Dalton agreed to begin accepting service animals and to post a sign in the motel saying they are welcome. He also must send periodic compliance reports to the federal government.
 
In addition, the motel owner had to pay $5,000 to the man who was turned away as well as a $1,000 fine to the federal government.
 
Rupesh Sheth said the incident occurred Dec. 26, 2004, under former ownership. He said the Vishnu Krupa firm bought the motel in December 2006 and is renovating it. He said the former owners, Billal and Ali, L.L.C., were assessed the fines.
 
Here is the settlement agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act:
 
AMENDED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
 
BETWEEN
 
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
 
AND
 
BILLAL AND ALI, L.L.C., AND VISHNU KRUPA, INC.,
 
OWNERS AND OPERATORS OF TRAVELODGE, DALTON, GEORGIA
 
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT NUMBER 202-19-113
 
BACKGROUND
 
This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, with the United States Department of Justice against the owner and operator of the Travelodge Motel ("Motel"), located at 911 Market Street, Dalton, Georgia. The Complainant, a person who is legally blind, alleged that on or around December 26, 2004, the Motel refused service to him because he was accompanied by a service animal.
The Attorney General of the United States ("Attorney General") is authorized under section 308 of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12188, to investigate complaints and bring a civil action under title III in any situation where a pattern or practice of discrimination is believed to exist or where a matter of general public importance is raised.
The Motel is a place of lodging and, as such, is a place of public accommodation subject to the nondiscrimination requirements of title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(A); 28 C.F.R. § 36.104. Billal and Ali, L.L.C., owned and operated the Motel on or around December 26, 2004, and as such, was a public accommodation subject to the nondiscrimination requirements of title III of the ADA at the time the Complainant was refused service. 42 U.S.C. 12182; 28 C.F.R. § 36.104. Vishnu Krupa, Inc., currently owns and operates the Motel, and as such, is a public accommodation subject to the nondiscrimination requirements of title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. 12182; 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.
Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities by public accommodations. 42 U.S.C. § 12182; 28 C.F.R. Part 36. The ADA specifically requires that public accommodations make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures to permit the use of service animals by people with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(ii); 28 C.F.R. § 36.302(c).
An investigation by the United States substantiated the Complainant's allegation that the Motel refused to serve him because he was accompanied by a service animal and determined that the Motel's refusal to provide service to the Complainant violated the ADA.
 
PARTIES
 
The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America ("United States"), Billal and Ali, L.L.C., and Vishnu Krupa, Inc., (collectively, the "Parties"). The Parties have determined and agreed that Department of Justice complaint 202-19-113 can be resolved without litigation pursuant to the terms of this Settlement Agreement ("Agreement").
Vishnu Krupa, Inc., the current owner of the Motel, has modified its policies, practices, and procedures, as set out in this Agreement, to ensure that individuals with disabilities who use service animals have an opportunity to enjoy and benefit from the Motel's goods, services, facilities, and accommodations that is equal to that of others. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12182(a) - (b)(2)(A)(ii).
In consideration of the terms of this Agreement, the United States agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or filing a civil suit in this matter regarding the areas covered under the Remedial Action section of this Agreement, except as provided in the Enforcement and Implementation sections of the Agreement.
 
REMEDIAL ACTION
 
Consistent with the ADA, Vishnu Krupa, Inc.,will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of the Motel by excluding or providing unequal treatment to persons with disabilities who use service animals.
Vishnu Krupa, Inc., will adopt, maintain, implement, and enforce the policy attached hereto as Attachment A to this Agreement ("Service Animal Policy") on the treatment of customers using service animals. Within ten (10) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Vishnu Krupa, Inc., will provide a copy of the Service Animal Policy set forth in Attachment A to each of the employees of the Motel. Further, Vishnu Krupa, Inc., will post the Service Animal Policy in a conspicuous area of the Motel near the reception desk where employees and members of the public can see it.
Within ten (10) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Vishnu Krupa, Inc., shall post the following notice in a conspicuous place in the Motel lobby where it can be readily seen by members of the public:
"Persons with disabilities accompanied by service animals are welcome here at Travelodge - Dalton, Georgia."
 
The notice shall be printed using a plain, bold font that is 36 points or larger in size on a contrasting background. A copy of the required notice is attached hereto as Attachment B.
 
Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Vishnu Krupa, Inc., shall train all of its current employees regarding their obligations under the Service Animal Policy and under the ADA with respect to service animals so as to ensure that persons with disabilities accompanied by service animals have access to the Motel's services in a manner equal to that of persons without disabilities. Furthermore, during the life of the Agreement, employees hired by Vishnu Krupa, Inc., to work at the Motel shall be trained and informed of the Motel's service animal policy within 24 hours of first reporting to work.
Vishnu Krupa, Inc., shall promptly investigate all complaints it receives alleging that any individual accompanied by a service animal was denied access or otherwise treated in a manner inconsistent with the Service Animal Policy while a guest of the Motel. Vishnu Krupa, Inc., shall maintain records of such complaints, the investigation conducted, and actions taken, if any, in response to any such complaints. Vishnu Krupa, Inc., shall make such records available for inspection by the United States.
Within sixty (60) days of the effective date of this Agreement and every six months thereafter, Vishnu Krupa, Inc., shall submit a written report to the United States outlining its compliance with paragraphs 9-13 above. Such reports shall include a summary of complaints received, the results of any investigations conducted, and actions taken pursuant to paragraph 13 during the reporting period.
 
MONETARY RELIEF FOR THE COMPLAINANT
 
The ADA authorizes the Attorney General to seek a court award of compensatory damages on behalf of individuals aggrieved as the result of violations of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2)(B); 28 C.F.R. § 36.504(a)(2). Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Billal and Ali, L.L.C., the owner of the Motel at the time the Complainant was refused service, will compensate the Complainant in this matter by sending him a certified check payable to the Complainant in the amount of five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), via certified mail to the address provided by the United States. Billal and Ali, L.L.C., will simultaneously send a copy of the check and the accompanying letter to counsel for the United States.
In consideration for the compensatory damages set forth above, the United States agrees that within ten (10) days of its receipt of the Agreement signed by an authorized representative of Billal and Ali, L.L.C., it will obtain the Complainant's signature on the "Waiver and Release of Claim" form attached hereto as Attachment C. The United States will mail the original copy of the signed Waiver and Release of Claims form to Billal and Ali, L.L.C., within fifteen (15) days of receipt of same by the United States.
CIVIL PENALTY
 
The ADA also authorizes the Attorney General to seek a civil penalty as a result of violations of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2)(C); 28 C.F.R. § 36.504(a)(3). Within ten (10) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Billal and Ali, L.L.C., will issue a check or money order in the amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) payable to the United States Treasury as a civil penalty. Billal and Ali, L.L.C., will deliver the check or money order to counsel for the United States.
ENFORCEMENT
 
The United States may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the United States believes that this Agreement or any of its requirements have been violated, it may institute a civil action in Federal District Court to enforce this Agreement or the requirements of title III, following written notice to Vishnu Krupa, Inc., and Billal and Ali, L.L.C., of possible violations and a period of 30 days in which Vishnu Krupa, Inc., and Billal and Ali, L.L.C., have the opportunity to cure the alleged violations.
Failure by the United States to enforce this entire Agreement or any of its provisions or deadlines shall not be construed as a waiver of the right of the United States to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
IMPLEMENTATION
 
The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
This Agreement, including Attachments A, B, and C, constitutes the entire agreement between the Parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, will be enforceable under its provisions.
This Agreement is limited to the facts set forth above and does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal law.
This Agreement does not affect the continuing responsibility of Vishnu Krupa, Inc., and Billal and Ali, L.L.C., to comply with all aspects of title III of the ADA. In particular, title III imposes an obligation to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures, when the modifications are necessary to afford goods, services, and facilities to individuals with disabilities.
A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be made available to any person by Vishnu Krupa, Inc., Billal and Ali, L.L.C., or the United States on request.
This Agreement will remain in effect for three (3) years from the effective date of this Agreement.
This Agreement shall be binding on Vishnu Krupa, Inc., Billal and Ali, L.L.C., their successors in interest, their agents, and their employees. Vishnu Krupa, Inc., and Billal and Ali, L.L.C., have a duty to notify any and all successors in interest of this Agreement and the duties and responsibilities it imposes on Vishnu Krupa, Inc., and Billal and Ali, L.L.C. In the event Vishnu Krupa, Inc., seeks to transfer or assign all or part of its interest in the Motel, and the successor or assignee intends on carrying on the same or similar use of the facility, as a condition of sale Vishnu Krupa, Inc., shall obtain the written accession of the successor or assign to any obligations remaining under this Agreement for the remaining term of this Agreement.
The person signing this document for Vishnu Krupa, Inc., represents that he is authorized to bind Vishnu Krupa, Inc., to this Agreement, and the person signing this document for Billal and Ali, L.L.C., represents that he is authorized to bind Billal and Ali, L.L.C., to this Agreement.
 

FOR BILLAL AND ALI, L.L.C.: FOR THE UNITED STATES:
 
WAN J. KIM
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
 
 
 
BY:___________________________
 

BY:___________________________
 
KHALID JAVAID
Billal and Ali, L.L.C.
1 Saddlebrook Drive
Rome, Georgia 30161
(706) 376-0100
Dated: ______________________
 

FOR VISHNU KRUPA, INC.
Owner/Operator of the Travelodge
Motel of Dalton, Georgia
 
JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
JEANINE WORDEN, Deputy Chief
ELIZABETH BACON, Supervisory Attorney
SUSAN H. CRAWFORD, Investigator
Disability Rights Section - NYA
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20530-0005
(202) 307-1378
 
BY:
RAMESH SHETH
Vishnu Krupa, Inc.
911 Market Street
Dalton, Georgia 30720
 
Dated: July 27, 2007
 
At the business desk, I'm Heather DeMarco wishing you a pleasant evening.

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