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We are delighted to present you with a business desk filled with informative and up-to-the-minute news clips. Check this page frequently to stay in the know and to read the insights and opinions of respected business experts and trend watchers.



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Friday, November 30, 2007

Hot tips for budding authors part two

Greetings everyone!  I'm Jayna Sheffield at the business desk and this evening I'd like to end this week by finishing off our hot tips for those budding authors.

Last Saturday Nov 24, we presented you with our first part.  Here now is our second part.

Budding authors should be very clear as to how they're going to market their book.  I.E, through their website, through a publisher, or through affiliate programs.

If you use your website to market your book, then you need to ensure that your website has the appropriate content to promote your book and that it can be easily reached by search engines.

Keywords are extremely important when ensuring that search engines can reach your website.

Use keywords that will drive traffic to your website.

Use the AIDA strategy to develop your website where AIDA stands for awareness, interest, detention and execution.

If you use affiliate programs to market your book, then make sure that you offer your affiliates a good and attractive incentive to want to sell your book.

You can also join affiliate programs that sell similar books to you and in this way you can also pull traffic to your website.

Do not sell more than one book per website unless you're selling related books.

The important thing to remember is that if you are depending on publishers to market your book, they can only do so much.  True it is that they can reach many more buyers than you but the returns from them are very small.

 

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

 

Permission Based E-mail Marketing

by Kim MacPherson

We've chosen this book because of its uniqueness, freshness, and ease with which the author presents her ideas.  We believe that this book belongs on the shelf of any library.

 

Total E-mail Marketing, Second Edition: Maximizing your results from integrated e-marketing (Emarketing Essentials)

by Dave Chaffey

Yet another book that is unique in its own way.  So many of us are deathly afraid to use email marketing but alas!  This author shows his readers how to use email marketing most affectively.

 

Untapped Wealth Discovered 2nd edition

By Jeff N Marquis and Kerry J Harrison

Yes indeed!  We've chosen this particular book because it too is very unique in its own way.  It shows the basic way to scout out lucrative opportunities in real markets. 

 

If you're seeking more ideas as to how to find those very real markets with real opportunities then please read 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 very happy weekend.  Don't shop too much!

How helping others can help you

Hi everyone!  I'm Heather DeMarco at the business desk and today I'd like to show you how helping others can help you. 
The Christmas season is here again and it's the time for us to help others.  I always enjoy this gift giving season because it allows me to give to those who are less fortunate.  In fact, we should not wait till Christmas to do this but we should be doing it all year round.  We have an article to share with you that will show how one person is doing this and I'll let our resident associate and expert Donna J Jodhan tell you a bit more. 
We are very fortunate to have Donna J Jodhan as part of our team and here is a person who despite her challenge as a blind woman is also helping others to help themselves.  Donna J Jodhan is a successful business consultant, writer/author, and Human Rights advocate.  Here now is Donna.
 
Thank you Heather and today I'd like to share an article with you about someone else who is helping others.  I hope you can see this article as a motivator. 
 

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.
 
If you'd like to learn more about Donna J Jodhan and her company then please visit www.sterlingcreations.ca.
 
At the business desk, I'm Heather DeMarco wishing you a pleasant weekend.
 
 
 
 

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Video game manufacturers seeking language professionals

Good day everyone!  I'm Jeff N Marquis at the business desk and on this very cold fall evening, I'm putting out a call for language professionals on behalf of those many video game developers. 
Christmas is just around the corner and maybe it is a bit too late for this year but there's next year and many years to come.  Video game developers have been doing very well for themselves for the past several years.  The video game industry continues to grow at a very fast clip but for the most part it's the English speaking world that has been benefiting from all of these action packed games.  The video game industry is now saying that it's time to change this.  Time to do something about making video games more available to those who do not speak English as their first language.  Pleas don't get me wrong.  There are many whose first language is not English that are playing video games.  However, video game developers are pushing for more and more games to be translated into multi languages.
Consequently they are now starting to seek the services of translators, transcribers, and multi lingual writers who can do the following:
Translate video games from English to other languages.
Transcribe digitized files to electronic format.
Write manuals in various other languages.
The video game industry is not going to go away anytime soon and as a matter of fact, not only are the younger ones demanding more and more video games.  Those in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s and up are getting in on the action.
There is a school of thought that there could be room for video game developers to develop games that reflect the cultures and customs of those countries whose first language is not English.  For example:  Developing games specifically for the Japanese market, for the Asian market, and for the Middle Eastern market. 
I'm not really telling you anything new, just bringing it more to the forefront.  So, if you're a language professional who is looking for new horizons, then why not check out this opportunity.
 
It's time now for our weekly news round-up for language professionals.  We're a bit thin on news items this week because of the Thanksgiving holiday week last week.
 
Interpreters and translators
By hesston64
This type of work often is done as a sideline by university professors; however, opportunities exist for well-established literary translators. As is the case with writers, finding a publisher and maintaining a network of contacts in ...
Hesston64 blog - http://hesston64.footyblogs.com
For more detail check out:
http://hesston64.footyblogs.com/2007/11/19/interpreters-and-translators/
 
JAK MOZNA POMOC?
Gazeta- Dziennik Polonii w Kanadzie - Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Airports need translators, this is 2007, we have been flying men to Mars and the moon for decades, yet we haven't thought of putting translators in airports ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.gazetagazeta.com/artman/publish/article_20506.shtml
 
If you'd like to check out more news items for language professionals then please visit www.translationpeople.com/free-useful-info.html and there you'll find a free weekly blog that is rich with news items for language professionals.  These news items are up to date and extremely valuable.
 
At the business desk, I'm Jeff N Marquis bidding you a pleasant evening.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Important news for important consumers

Good afternoon!  I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and it's time for our weekly feature for those very important consumers that so many companies are still not paying attention to. I urge both consumers and companies to read this weekly feature as there is something for all stakeholders here.
On the one hand, we are providing a very unique selection of news articles to consumers with special needs and on the other, we are helping companies to identify their competition as well as those very niche and hidden markets.
We thank everyone for all of their feedback.
Here now are our selections of the week.
 
Table of contents
 
November 28 2007
 
1 ICAT 2007 Conference highlights needs of disabled travellers
2 Apple Patent Application for Tactile Touchscreen Published
3 Next generation disability technology
4 Lawsuit alleges US Airways discriminated against blind passenger
5 Talking Braille: A new tool to teach blind children
6 GPS gadget designed to foil child snatchers "could also be used as a mobile guide dog"
7 Can a T Cell-Based Neuroprotective Vaccination Prevent Glaucoma Progression?
8 Blind Customers Demand a Voice in Cell Phones
9 Man creates computer game for the blind
 

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.
 
 
 
 
DailyTech.com
Monday, October 08, 2007
 
Apple Patent Application for Tactile Touchscreen Published
 
By Wolfgang Hansson
 
October 8, 2007 7:18 AM
 
Apple patent application outlines method of providing tactile feedback with a touchscreen
 
With the release of the iPhone, Apple brought multi-touch technology to the forefront. In March of 2006 Apple filed a patent application for a "Force Imaging Input Device and System" that appears to be meant to give tactile feel to touchscreen.
 
The patent application was published this week and outlines a touch pad that includes two sets of conductive traces separated by a spring membrane. Apple says when force is applied the spring membrane deforms, moving the two sets of traces closer together.
 
The patent application abstract goes on to say that the resulting change in mutual capacitance is used to generate and image indicative of the amount or intensity of force applies. The device says one or more inputs at the same time could be read.
 
The patent application describes a method where the amount of pressure applied to the touch pad would activate different commands or displays. One of the main complaints of the iPhone and most other touchscreen devices is that there is no tactile feedback to allow you to know when a button is touched or pressed.
 
Using the method described in this application, not only would tactile feedback be provided, but the traces that sense touch could activate one change and pressing the screen would activate another. This could be used to do things like change the color of a button when it is pressed, or initiate a vibration when the touch pad senses a touch to a button. When pushed, the tactile feedback would be there for the button press potentially alleviating the lack of tactile feel when operating a touch screen device.
 
 
 
 
BBC News, Scotland (UK)
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
 
Next generation disability technology
 
By Ian Hamilton, BBC Scotland 
 
Techshare is one of the largest disability technology conferences of its type in the UK.
 
Delegates from all over the world gathered in London's west end to debate all things technological - in the world of disability.
 
The hot topic this year was the digital revolution and whether disabled people were benefiting or being excluded from the digital world.
 
One of the areas highlighted in the conference was the advancement of specialist equipment and services.
 
For example: The Orion Web Box. This new piece of technology was developed by the Dutch company Specialist Radio.
 
The Web Box could change the web for people who have reading disabilities and the service user does not need a computer to access the internet.
 
It provides the listener with a potentially endless list of audio content from the web - internet radio, newspapers and talking books.
 
Half the size of a shoe box, it has a very simple operation.
 
With the touch of one button, the menu is read out to the user providing them with the simplest way to make a selection.
 
RELATED INTERNET LINKS
Royal National Institute of the Blind - Scotland
http://www.rnib.org.uk/xpedio/groups/public/documents/code/public_rnib003462.hcsp
 
 
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
 
 
 
Additional box
 
A broadband connection is essential, however, no computer is required.
 
At £280 not everyone could afford the Box but for those who are not confident with computers it may be the ideal option.
 
The conference also drew attention to the high number of disabled people missing out due to the lack of accessible technology and those who have not been accessing the new digital technology such as Audio Described Television.
 
This is when a separate audio track is broadcast giving commentary on what is happening on the screen when action is taking place.
 
Currently, you can only receive this if you are a Sky or a Virgin Media subscriber. Otherwise, you will have to buy a separate additional box to get this service.
 
If you have Freeview, this is a particular problem as an extra box to do this could cost upwards of £400.
 
However, under the digital switchover help scheme, the government has plans for a box for people with certain disabilities, those who are registered blind and partially sighted and those people aged over 75.
 
The Royal National Institute of the Blind has been heavily involved in setting the specification for the box which will carry audio description.
 
Audio description will be available via a single button, with other access features, including an improved remote control layout.
 
 
 

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.
 
 
 
 
SciDev.Net
Thursday, October 11, 2007
 
Talking Braille: A new tool to teach blind children
 
By Supriya Kumar
 
Learning Braille can be a formidable challenge in developing countries. Supriya Kumar profiles a new device that's addressing the task.
 
Imagine picking a hundred blind people at random from around the world. Chances are that 90 of them would come from developing countries. Of these 90, a large proportion would be living in poverty and only two would be literate.
 
At less than three per cent, the literacy rate among blind people in developing countries is extremely low, even in comparison with the low general literacy rate, which is 50 per cent in some countries.
 
Often, parents do not see the value in educating their blind children. Even if they do, children may not receive appropriate attention in traditional schools. Very few teachers are trained to teach Braille, a written language for the blind, in which letters are represented by a group of raised dots that are felt with fingertips.
 
But reading and writing Braille is important: it is very difficult to learn mathematics orally, and Braille is important for the economic independence of the blind.
 
So researchers in the United States have developed a Braille 'tutor', which tackles many of the issues faced by new Braille learners in the developing world.
 
The challenges of Braille
 
Braille is written using an array of different tools, depending on the available resources. In the developed world, Braille-writers use a six-key typewriter called a Brailler. At US$600 dollars, these fast and easy-to-use devices are too expensive for most in the developing world.
 
Children in developing countries use a slate and stylus - a writing utensil - to emboss Braille characters onto the back of thick paper. Embossing a mirror image from right to left on the back of the page ensures that what is written can be read from left to right when the page is right side up.
 
To be able to read and write Braille, children thus need to learn not just each letter in the Braille alphabet, but also its mirror image. Furthermore, feedback on whether they've written the characters correctly is delayed until the page is flipped over. The entire process presents a formidable challenge to young children learning to read and write.
 
Another challenge for learners arises from the fair amount of strength required to emboss dots onto thick paper using the stylus.
 
"Weaker students and small children have problems learning braille," says Gubbi Muktha, managing trustee of Mathru School for the Blind in Yelahanka, near Bangalore, India.
 
"The Braille slate itself is heavy for the weaker and smaller children. Holding it is another big problem. In addition to this, holding a stylus and putting pressure through it to get the print of the dot is even more difficult."
 
The electronic solution
 
Nidhi Kalra, of TechBridgeWorld - a venture of the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, United States - that aims to develop and implement technology to aid sustainable development around the world, decided to tackle some of these issues.
 
She asked Tom Lauwers, a fellow student at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, if he knew anyone who might be interested in building hardware that could be used with software she had written.
 
Lauwers jumped at the opportunity and together they decided to produce a robust, low-cost, low-power, electronic Braille tutor. They wanted it to be something that could be used for a long time, whose parts were available locally and could be replaced using local manpower.
 
Their tutor - an electronic slate and stylus - uses affordable electronics to track contact between the slate and stylus, and text-to-speech software to provide immediate, audio feedback.
 
Kalra and Lauwers are developing the first generation tutor in close collaboration with the students and teachers at the Mathru School for the Blind in India. When Kalra took the Braille tutor to Mathru for field tests in the summer of 2006, the response she got was overwhelmingly positive.
 
Interactive learning
 
Mathru is a residential school with 45 blind students and eight teachers, six of whom are blind themselves. Kalra found that after six weeks of using the Braille tutor, students who previously made frequent mistakes started writing noticeably faster, with almost no mistakes.
 
"Now the small children and weaker students of Mathru are happily learning Braille as it is easy and also fun learning," says Muktha.
 
Even students who were fluent in Braille enjoy using the tutor because of the audio feedback. Overall, Kalra found that students and teachers seemed to be writing much more.
 
Based on feedback from teachers and students at Mathru, Lauwers designed the tutor to feel like the slate the students are used to, by placing a cut-out of a normal plastic Braille slate over the top of two rows of Braille cells in the tutor.
 
The stylus is also a normal Braille stylus, connected to the tutor by a wire. In addition to two rows of 16 cells each, the tutor also has four buttons that can be programmed so the students can interact with the tutor.
 
For example, one button mutes the speaker so that advanced users can write without audio feedback; another button allows students to choose between writing right-to-left or left-to-right.
 
Each alphabet in English Braille is written as a set of six dots in a cell. The tutor feeds back on both the dot sequence and the letter that the sequence encodes, thereby reinforcing the sequence to the beginner.
 
Further, the tutor provides this audio feedback as soon as the writer touches the stylus to the slate, removing the need for strength that would be required to emboss paper.
 
The software for the tutor uses a digitised version of a Mathru teacher's voice for audio feedback, as the children - especially the younger ones - had difficulty understanding the American accent normally used in text-to-speech software.
 
The tutor can be tailored to address the specific needs of the student based on their level of fluency in Braille. The tutor can be adjusted to read out the position of the dots in the cell, the letter and - for students well-versed with the alphabet - just the final word or sentence they have written.
 
The tutor has also been useful in diagnosing students' problems with Braille. Mangala, a student at Mathru, always completely embossed all six dots of a Braille cell before she started using the Tutor, suggesting that she didn't understand the concept of Braille.
 
But the tutor showed she understood the concept; her mistake was that she wasn't moving from one cell to the next as she wrote the sequence of letters. So, for instance, she would emboss dots one and three of a cell for the letter 'k', and then, dots one, two, four and five of the same cell for the letter 'n'.
 
Her teachers, who are also blind, realised that this was the case because the tutor would read aloud the letters she was embossing.
 
Work is underway to produce the next generation of the tutor, which could be tested later this year.
 
Kalra found that students at Mathru were often scared of touching the original stylus because of the wire that connects it to the tutor, so in the new version of the tutor, the stylus interacts with the slate wirelessly.
 
Shivayogi Hiremath, an engineer who has undertaken a pilot project to produce six tutors locally in Bangalore, says that mass production in India will require some adjustments to the electronics design so that locally-available materials can be used.
 
"All details of hardware and software design will be made open-source. It should, therefore, be fairly easy to adjust the design if need be, in order to produce the tutor in large numbers," says Lauwers.
 
Hiremath and Anil Biradar, an IBM (International Business Machines Cooperation) employee in India, helped to get a US$1000 donation from IBM for the Mathru School, so they can continue to explore local production of the tutor.
 
For now, the Mathru School has three tutors, and is expecting to have some more available soon, thanks to the grant from IBM. Mathru also plans to introduce and encourage use of the tutor among potential users outside the school, once there are enough tutors available.
 
All too often, technology used in developing countries is not designed with the explicit needs of local people in mind. But the Braille tutor appears to be a case of technology from the 'bottom up'. The need for the Braille tutor existed, and Kalra and Lauwers are successfully providing the technology to address that need.
 
Supriya Kumar is a biologist and a freelance writer from Bombay, India, currently working towards a degree in public health at the University of Pittsburgh in the United States.
 
Related links:
TechBridgeWorld
http://www.techbridgeworld.org/
 
 
 
 

I C Newcastle (UK)
Sunday, October 14, 2007
 
GPS gadget designed to foil child snatchers "could also be used as a mobile guide dog"
 
By Phil Doherty, Sunday Sun
 
A GADGET that a scientist claimed helped him beat a speeding fine can also be used to keep youngsters safe from child snatchers, the Sunday Sun can reveal.
 
Inventor Doctor Phillip Tann said his device is so accurate it could be used to keep tabs on toddlers playing in a garden and track teenagers to their exact location.
 
Because of its higher accuracy than conventional global positional systems Dr Tann, claims it could also be used as a mobile "guide dog" to help blind people navigate around towns.
 
He said: "It is designed to make road travel more safe and help ease congestion, but it has myriad uses including child tracking.
 
"If you map out your house and garden boundary into the system it will tell you if your child leaves the boundary. If the child is moving faster than 10mph you'd know instantly that someone has taken them in a car and you could quickly raise the alarm.
 
"Older teenagers who borrow your car could be tracked from home if it was installed in the vehicle. But it can also be placed in a mobile phone and parents could also use it to make sure youngsters are where they claim to be."
 
Dr Tann claimed his device helped him escape a speeding fine after he was clocked by a police hand-held laser speed gun in Sunderland while driving through the city using the gadget to collect road data. According to Northumbria Police, he was travelling at 42mph in a 30mph zone.
 
However, he claims that his device shows he was only travelling at 29.177196mph.
 
He presented his evidence at a recent court hearing in Sunderland and pleaded not guilty.
 
The Crown Prosecution Service then dramatically dropped the case because, they said, the officer who had operated the speed gun had retired and refused to attend court.
 
Dr Tann, whose company Autopoietic Systems (Tann Ltd) is based in Birtley, Gateshead, got the idea for the device while working with BT to improve broadband connections.
 
He said that the internet acts like a superhighway and that the information moves through this network in packages much the same as cars travel along roads. It works by taking exact maps of roads and comparing that data to existing global positioning technology, which is only accurate within a 10 metre radius. The two sets of information are brought together to produce a more exact location finder.
 
The device records its location every half a metre and time taken between the two points and derives the speed from that.
 
That is then sent to a computer database which then tells the handset where it is.
 
Phillip added: "It can also be used by the police and other emergency services to plot routes that avoid heavy traffic and congestion. This works by having a database of all the roads that highlights danger spots such as around schools and where congestion is likely to occur at certain times of the day."
 
 

From: "BlindNews Mailing List" <BlindNews@GeoffAndWen.com>
 
Biocompare News
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
 
Can a T Cell-Based Neuroprotective Vaccination Prevent Glaucoma Progression?
 
By American Academy of Ophthalmology
 
Schwartz et al. recently demonstrated that a T cell-based vaccination, using synthetic antigens (glatiramer acetate, also known as Copolymer-1 or Cop-1) that cross-react weakly with retinal and optic nerve antigens, reduces the loss of retinal ganglion cells in a rat model of chronic glaucoma.1 This vaccine not only boosted the T-cell response, it did it without causing an autoimmune disease.
 
The vaccination did not prevent glaucoma, but it slowed its progression by controlling the local extracellular environment of the nerve and retina. In other words, vaccination created an environment more conducive to neuronal survival and helped the retinal ganglion cells withstand the stress.
 
Human studies are underway. If it is successful, this innovative approach would complement conventional glaucoma treatment.
 
REFEREENCE
 
1. Schwartz M. Modulating the immune system: a vaccine for glaucoma? Can J Ophthalmol. 2007;42(3):439-441.
 
 
(SOURCE)
 
 
 
 
Speech Technology Magazine
Monday, October 01, 2007
 
Blind Customers Demand a Voice in Cell Phones
 
By Leonard Klie
 
Blind and visually impaired customers have started legal action against the cell phone industry to improve cell phone accessibility with features like speech output for people who cannot read the phone's display screen.
 
In early August, 11 customers from Florida, Georgia, Colorado, California, and West Virginia filed complaints with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), asking for tighter enforcement of Section 225 of the Federal Communications Act, which requires phones to be accessible for people with disabilities. Complaints were filed against both cell phone carriers and manufacturers. Representatives of the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) filed similar complaints.
 
One of the complaints came from Tony Claive, a blind resident of Winter Park, Fla. "In order to access the features of the MotorolaQ, I had to make an additional out-of-pocket purchase of Mobile Speaks (a screen reader) to access the cell phone features," he said in his written statement. "While this phone is more accessible than the Katana with my add-on software, it was quite expensive, and I would not have purchased it if my previous phone was accessible. Being blind forced me to stretch my budget to the limits in order to have access to my cell phone's features."
 
Douglas Brooks of Winston, Ga., was another complainant. "I cannot text message, surf the Internet, or use the phone book," he noted. "Additionally, the numbers displayed on the keypad are too small for me to read, thus I have to use the voice recognition feature to call contacts in my phone book. This poses some limitations because I can only program in 10 names, yet I have many more contacts than this amount."
 
The most common complaints filed by blind and visually impaired cell phone users include:
 
 cell phones do not provide for audio output of information displayed on the screen;
 visual displays on most phones are hard to read;
 numeric and control keys are not easy to distinguish by touch;
 product manuals or phone bills are not available in braille, large print, or other formats they can read; and
 cell phones work with software to enable input for blind users, but the technology is expensive and not widely available.
 
"These complaints illustrate a market failure on the part of the cell phone industry to address accessibility," says Paul Schroeder, vice president of the Programs and Policy Group at the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). "While some companies have taken steps, consumers with vision loss have few good options for accessibility and almost no reliable information about accessibility."
 
The AFB did, however, single out AT&T as one company that has made great strides in accessibility for the blind. In July, the company announced plans to partner with Code Factory to offer two new products, Mobile Speak and Mobile Magnifier, for the blind and visually impaired. Mobile Speak is a screen reader with speech feedback in several languages and braille support for features like speed dialing, text messaging, a calendar, calculator, Internet browser, voice recorder, Microsoft Office applications, Media Player, phone/device settings, profiles, alarms, and ringtones. Mobile Magnifier is a full-screen magnification application. Both can be used with or without speech feedback.
 
"I am pleased to see that AT&T is showing real leadership on the accessibility front. Now more companies need to take the initiative," Schroeder says. "Given today's technological advancements-advertised constantly by cell phone carriers-it is particularly shameful that access features are not being made available. If AT&T can harness new technology to add features for people with vision loss, then all cell phone carriers and manufacturers can."
 
Jennifer Simpson, senior director of telecommunications policy at the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), a COAT affiliate, agrees. "Wireline, wireless, and VoIP companies and manufacturers are required to make services and products disability-accessible and usable," she says. "Companies scoff at federal law when they fail to design at the front end for the needs of people with all kinds of disabilities. We urge the industry to take more action now so that people with disabilities, including the growing population of seniors, can purchase wireless phones and services without becoming exasperated and frustrated by unusable phones and unresponsive customer service."
 
 
 
 
Reno Gazette Journal, Nevada USA
Saturday, October 13, 2007
 
Man creates computer game for the blind
 
By LENITA POWERS
 
Caption: Assistant professor Eelke Folmer sits next to his computer character in his office at the University of Nevada, Reno. Folmer is developing a virtual game for the blind that uses voice commands. ANDY BARRON/RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL
 
It began with an e-mail.
 
Eelke Folmer, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno, had created a Web site that offered solutions to people who ran into problems when they tried to play computer games.
 
"Then, one day, someone said, 'Hey, I'm a quadriplegic, and the things you are doing could help people with disabilities,'" Folmer said.
 
Not long after that, he joined the International Game Developers Association and became a member of its Game Accessibility special interest group.
 
While some people might dismiss the project as merely providing the disabled with a frivolous pastime, it's much more than that, said Michelle Hinn, head of the Game Accessibility group.
 
"Computer games can be a way of relieving stress, but for the disabled, it's also provides social interaction," said Hinn, an instructor of game design at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
 
Based on U.S Census Bureau statistics, about 10 percent of the population is disabled, she said.
 
Hinn said she gets numerous calls from doctors of patients, parents of children and families of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who are newly disabled.
 
"Computer games were something they really loved to do, but now they can't because they're missing a limb or they're quadriplegics or they've gone blind," Hinn said. "So, telling them there are games out there for them has worked almost like a miracle, but those games are rare and the availability is limited."
 
With the help of a $90,448 grant from the National Science Foundation, Folmer and graduate students David Carr and Bei Yuan are working to open the door to computer games for the disabled.
 
Their research focuses on developing a prototype that will allow blind players to use voice commands alone to navigate through the popular online 3-D virtual world "Second Life" and eventually interact with the other "residents" there.
 
"We just need to develop the right text output, and that is not a very easy problem to solve," Folmer said.
 
The world in "Second Life" is designed solely by its own residents, people from around the world who now number more than nine million, including the 30-year-old Folmer.
 
He has his own character -- or avatar as they're known in the game world -- that can talk with other residents, buy property, build a business or a home and visit places such as Paris to climb the Eiffel Tower.
 
Blind gamers will be able to press a button and a computer voice will provide information about their immediate surroundings, Folmer said.
 
"It would tell them, 'There are two avatars in front of you and a building to the north,'" he said. "You would classify what's around them based on its size and proximity to sketch (a mental) image for them."
 
A growing number of universities with virtual campuses online also have virtual auditoriums where people can attend lectures, so Folmer's research could have educational applications for the disabled. Under federal law, anyone with a disability must have access to such educational opportunities, he said.
 
While Folmer's research primarily targets the blind, he hopes it will convince major manufacturers to develop computer games that also can be used by players who are hearing impaired or have cognitive or physical disabilities.
 
It could be as easy as, for the hearing impaired, including closed captioning in every game, Folmer said.
 
"The game industry is very money-driven," said Folmer, who moved from the Netherlands to Edmonton, Alberta in Canada before joining the UNR faculty last year.
 
"When you try to sell your research, you really need to convince game developers they should make their games accessible to the disabled," he said. "And that's what we're trying to do first with 'Second Life.'"
 
Folmer and Hinn will be making the same pitch next week when they attend the Entertainment for All Expo in the Los Angles Convention Center.
 
The E for All Expo will be Thursday through Oct. 21 and attracts consumers, software developers, venture capitalists and entertainment industry representatives, including the big three: Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, Hinn said.
 
Her Gaming Accessibility group has been given a free booth at the Expo.
 
"My job is the mouthpiece, the evangelist yelling for recognition of the needs of gamers with disabilities," she said. "I can lobby the president of a company, but without people like Eelke, we don't have anything to show them. He is the programmer. He creates the solutions."
 
Help for gamers
 
You can visit University of Nevada, Reno associate professor Eelke Folmer's Web site that describes problems novice gamers, the elderly and the disabled face
when trying to play online games and offers solutions at
 
 
Game Accessibility
 
Visit the Game Accessibility special interest group's Web site at
 
 
E-mail Michelle Hinn, head of the Game Accessibility special interest group, at hinn@uiuc.edu
 
Download free prototype game
 
Click here for AudiOdyssey, an experimental computer game designed to be accessible to the visually impaired and mainstream gamers.
 
 
According to the Singapore-MIT Gambit Web site, "the user stars as Vinyl Scorcher, an up-and-coming DJ, on his quest to get club patrons dancing. Swinging the Nintendo Wii controller to the beat, Vinyl lays down the various component tracks of a song, and keeps the party jumping. If he does an especially good job, he can even freestyle! But beware: if dancers get too rowdy, they're likely to bump into the turntables, messing up Vinyl's tracks. Think you have what it takes?"
 
The Windows version of the game requires:
 
Windows 2000 Service Pack 4, Windows XP Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista
1.8 GHz Pentium-class processor or better
1GB of RAM
32MB video RAM For Wiimote play:
1 Nintendo Wiimote (Sensor Bar not used)
Bluetooth
 
 
If you're seeking additional info on consumers with special needs then please visit www.sterlingcreations.ca/magazine.html and there you'll find a wealth of articles and info that will keep you up to date with news for consumers with special needs.  This magazine is a free online monthly magazine and is yours for the taking.  You can download as many issues as you like.
 
At the business desk, I'm Kerry J Harrison wishing you a pleasant day.
 

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Important answers to important questions

Hello there!  I'm Matt Chadwick at the business desk and it's time for us to open up our email bag and answer some questions from our readers.  We thank you for sending in your queries and we apologize for not being able to answer everyone's questions.  However, we'll do our best.
 
Question from Shane Lawson:
Do you think that stress in the workplace is on the rise or is it even on the decline?
Answer:  From everything being said and printed these days, stress in the workplace is still on the rise.  People are complaining even more these days that they just don't have enough hours in the day to work at a fulltime job plus do the chores at home.  However, it appears that more and more employers are becoming aware of the dangers and hazards of stress in the workplace and several large corporations are starting to implement health care services for their employees.  I.E making on staff psychologists available to their employees, plus building gyms for them.
 
Question from Lidia Shanks:
With Christmas coming, I'm trying to find an idea for my kids to get involved in.  I mean, something that they can do to earn some pocket money?
Answer:  I saw something on TV a few days ago where someone in New York is offering her services to do gift wrapping for seniors and those who don't have time to wrap their own presents.  She says that she does quite well at this time of the year and she goes to their homes to do this or sometimes those who prefer it would drop off their gifts to be wrapped at her place.  Maybe you could look into this possibility if you feel that your kids are old enough to be good gift wrappers.
 
Question from Jay Gregson:
I'd like to know what you think about a falling US dollar and what type of business could benefit from this situation?
Answer:  I hope and pray that the US dollar would soon stop falling.  On the one hand a lower US dollar means that it is easier to export our goods and services.  However on the other hand, it becomes more expensive for us to import with a falling US dollar.  Our goods are becoming cheaper abroad but it is becoming more expensive to import goods.  With regard to what type of small business venture could benefit from this type of situation?  The first thing that comes to mind is an import/export business.  What you will need to do is to find countries that seek US goods and services and see if you are able to export to them and on the other side of the coin, you could work with other countries to import US goods.
 
I hope that these questions and answers have been of some value to you this week and i invite you to submit your questions to us at  info@untappedwealth.com.   If you'd like to learn more about other types of small businesses that you could venture into then please visit www.untappedwealth.com/business-strategies.html and there you'll find tons of business ideas.
 
At the business desk, I'm Matt Chadwick wishing you a pleasant evening.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Working from home gets a boost

Hey there!  I'm Alix Shadonnay at the business desk and I'd like to kick off the week by publishing an article that gives a boost to those who are either working from home or those who are contemplating working from home.
Hope you find this article of some use. 
 

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.
 
 
If you're seeking additional ideas to help you get started on your home business then please visit www.untappedwealth.com/business-strategies.html and there you'll find a wack of ideas to help you get started.
 
From the business desk, I'm alix Shadonnay wishing you a pleasant evening.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hot tips for budding authors

Hello there!  I'm Matt Chadwick at the business desk and I'd like to end this very short week with some hot tips for those budding authors.  Let me just say that I hope that everyone had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving. 

So, now for these hot tips and this is in answer to a question that we recently received from Melanie Bradley of New Jersey.  Melanie has kindly given us permission to use her name and she is seeking some tips on how to become an author.

First of all, it should be important to recognize that more and more persons are using the Internet as a way to become authors.  This is a very growing field but also extremely competitive.  However, it can be extremely satisfying.

It should be kept in mind that not too many persons make it as authors, and that if you're seeking to make a comfortable living as an author, you had better reconsider your thinking.  Not many people are as fortunate to write books that make it to the top.  However, many experts believe that if you follow some of the following suggestions, you could possibly find ways to be personally satisfied as well as make some money.

1 You can cut your publishing costs by utilising the services of one of the many self publishing publishers.  These publishers can publish your book for you at a reasonable costs and even help to print and market it for you on the Internet.  They utilise the print on demand process in order to cut their costs and they target most of the large bookstores.  However, you have to do a lot of the marketing for yourself.

2 You would need to develop a website to sell your own books as it is not a wise strategy to depend solely on the self publishing company to do it all for you.

3 If you are not sure as to which types of subjects to write about, then you should think of some of the following areas:  Books on self help, how to, inspiration, motivation, and books on unique types of topics and subjects.

4 If you plan on publishing a book, be sure to decide in your mind if you wish to publish a hard copy or an e copy.  In the case of an e copy, try not to make it any longer than 60 pages or else you might as well publish a hard copy.  Hard copy books are still much more popular than e books however e books are gaining in popularity.

There are many more tips that I can give you and we'll be doing so in part two of this topic next Saturday.

 

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

 

How to Use the Internet to Advertise, Promote and Market Your Business or Website with Little or No Money

by Bruce C. Brown

This book is a fantastic way to get started when it comes to learning how to use the Internet to your advantage.  There is so much out there to choose from but we chose this book because it is easy to read and simple to understand.

 

Farce to Force: Building Profitable E-Commerce Strategies

by Sarah McCue

We chose this book because again, it is easy to read, it is not difficult to understand, and the strategies make lots of sense both to the novice and to the savvy expert.

 

Untapped Wealth Discovered

By Jeff N Marquis and Kerry J Harrison

Yet another book that is meant both for the savvy expert as well as for the beginner.  This book is well written and has lots of value to impart. 

 

If you're seeking ways to get started in the booming world of small businesses 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 Matt Chadwick wishing you a pleasant fall weekend. 

Friday, November 23, 2007

Why not women as business professionals

Greetings everyone!  I'm Jayna Sheffield at the business desk and I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with all of the trimmings. 
It's the day after and time for shopping so I won't keep you too long.  Today our resident expert Donna J Jodhan has chosen an article which she hopes will spur women to pick up their imaginations, creativity, and motivation and start taking action.  Donna J Jodhan is a very successful business professional and author and she has done all of this despite being blind.  She's not with us today as she is busy shopping for bargains but she has left an article that she hopes will spur women to start thinking of becoming their very own business professionals and according to Donna herself, why not?  So, here it is.
 

AFB Accessworld, American Foundation for the Blind, USA
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
 
From Street Kid to CEO: An Interview with Mike Calvo
 
By Deborah Kendrick
 
From the latest issue of AFB Accessworld, at www.afb.org/aw
 
He was a kid on the streets in Miami, growing up in the center of gang life and the drug trade. Today, he describes himself as an entrepreneur, not ashamed that he is a high school dropout and proud that he is doing something to benefit a community that he did not know existed until he was well into his 20s--a community of like-minded, intelligent people who are blind, who enjoy the Internet and the power of technology as much as he does. As the only blind CEO among the most talked-about companies that provide screen access to people who are blind, Mike Calvo knows business and knows people. He is smart; articulate; and, most would say, hyper.
 
I caught up with him during a packed travel schedule this summer and learned about the man, the company, and past and future highlights of his product. Like many busy professionals, his hotel suite bore the signs of multitasking. The remains of his breakfast were carried away as we spoke, and his laptop on the desk chimed the arrival of new e-mail messages every little while, yet, he was relaxed, casual, and never interrupted our conversation for telephone calls or e-mail messages. He stopped only once to answer a knock at the door and to ask the representatives of another company if their meeting might be delayed an hour to give me more time. Calvo, a born storyteller, talks rapidly, and his language is colorful--in the sense of being peppered with slang and vernacular and filled with analogies and parables.
 
Caption: Mike Calvo accepting an award.
 
Calvo is the founder and CEO of Serotek Corporation, the company that launched the product formerly known as FreedomBox, a product that has evolved dramatically and is now called the System Access Mobile Network. A series of coincidences--or, as he calls them, moments when God chose to be anonymous--led him to a string of successful ventures and, ultimately, to develop a product that, although used by only a few hundred people five years ago, is now enjoying a virtual explosion in sales.
 
Love Affair with the Internet
 
Calvo's first foray into a product to benefit people who are blind was one that did not start out that way. As a teenager and young adult, Calvo says he did what every Latin kid (he is Cuban American) did on the streets of Miami. But a combination of marriage, religion, and a certain kind of growing up changed all that. In school and his early jobs, he recalled an unsettling assessment that he heard all too often from teachers and employers--a message of low expectations, the subtle reminder that he, as a person who is blind, should not aim too high. Unrealistic goals, he was told, would lead to disappointment. "I was a rebel without a cause," he said of himself in his early 20s. His response was to start his own company, a company that trained and placed over 400 people who are blind in competitive jobs with such corporate entities as Ryder Trucks, American Express, American Airlines, FedEx, and Marriott. His conviction that computers are a must for every person who is blind
  grew steadily more ardent, and, eventually, that certitude evolved into a love affair with the Internet. The Internet, Calvo came to believe, was the single force that could give people who are blind opportunities that are equal to those of sighted people.
 
In 1999, Calvo's best friend (a fellow high school dropout and successful entrepreneur) gave him an FM transmitter that allowed Calvo to listen to radio stations broadcast on his computer while he kept his wife company when she watched television. It was not long before Calvo's first Internet-related business venture, Radio Webcaster, was launched. With an FM transmitter connected to the computer, software to tune into thousands of radio stations, and an FM remote control that worked through walls, a person could listen to any radio station (or anything else on the computer) through any FM radio and do it from the comfort of the living room or patio.
 
Radio Webcaster was featured in Playboy magazine and, in 2000, was hailed by CNN as a flagship product of the new millennium. The way that the product was assembled and shipped provides an excellent example of Calvo's ability to form connections with a wide variety of people and then connect the dots, so to speak, to make these connections productive. The transmitters were built in Indiana, the FM remote controls came from California, and the software CDs were burned in Miami. Calvo's friend in a Mailboxes Etc. location received orders, assembled the various components of a Radio Webcaster package, and shipped them. Meanwhile, payment went to Calvo's bank account, and word was spreading not only among sighted Internet radio enthusiasts, but among the blind community, about this great new product.
 
"I started realizing that there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of blind people who were professionals, who were party animals, who smelled good, and dressed well," Calvo said. "They were people who were cool, and they had money to spend just like sighted people." Through electronic discussion groups, where people talked about audio, music, and assistive technology, and through his growing customer base, he realized that there were many blind people who saw things the way he did.
 
The Next Step
 
One good idea sparks another, and Calvo soon began dreaming about another product that he wanted to create. What he envisioned was, as he playfully described it, "A kind of AOL meets WebTV for blind people." In other words, whereas Radio Webcaster gave people who are blind a taste of the breadth of radio stations that are available through Internet connections, it did not give them the easy access to news, entertainment, shopping, instant messaging, and more that sighted people enjoyed with easily accessed commercial interfaces.
 
Once the idea was rooted in his brain, Calvo began to post to various electronic discussion groups to find the kind of collaboration he needed, and, as he put it, "This 20-year-old kid from Kansas, a typical geek who then spoke in three-word sentences, said he could do what I needed." That "kid" was Matt Campbell, and their relationship led to the development of software that, in January 2007, was demonstrated as the first access to Windows Vista for people who are blind.
 
"I write the road maps," Calvo explained, "but I don't know a lick of code. Matt is the one who makes the magic." Although Calvo lives in Orlando and Campbell lives in Kansas, the two are in constant contact, talking back and forth via Skype as though they were both zipping around in the same office space. "Sometimes it seems like I spend more time with Matt than with my wife and family," Calvo quipped. (Calvo has five children.)
 
The first FreedomBox product was designed with "technophobes" and people with limited dexterity in mind. The product was driven mainly by voice commands and offered an extensive web browser, providing instant access to e-mail, radio stations, news, entertainment, and instant messaging--in short, everything that sighted people with limited technical expertise were already enjoying.
 
Calvo recognized that this new business could not be operated alone and sought investors. One contact in the Minneapolis area led to another, and Serotek Corporation was formed. When the Serotek board involved Michael Fox, a consultant who specializes in business turnarounds, the company saw growth.
 
"Michael Fox polished me up, shaved me down, and taught me how to speak in the business world," Calvo said. (For AccessWorld readers who may remember hearing him on Internet radio programs back when Radio Webcaster was new, however, Calvo has clearly always had a decidedly engaging style and charming way of communicating his point.)
 
No Overnight Success
 
Sadly, as Calvo sees it, except for the few hundred early customers who discovered the first-generation FreedomBox, people who are blind were not quick to trust a product that did not cost much. (Access to the then FreedomBox Network--now SA Mobile Network--originally cost $99 a year or $9.95 a month.) Gradually, Calvo and Campbell started adding features of interest to more sophisticated users. The price was raised to $499, and sales increased exponentially.
 
When System Access became an integral part of the product--thus enabling a user who is blind to access such popular applications as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, some of the most serious--and savviest--blind computer users started paying close attention. With the software on a USB drive, a person could have access to the features of the network from any computer.
 
A lawsuit claiming trademark infringement inspired a change in the product's name this past June. The new name, SA Mobile Network, is, Calvo said, actually more reflective of where the product is headed. The latest development, called SA to Go <www.satogo.com>, affords computer users who are blind the opportunity to render any computer accessible simply by launching the <www.satogo.com> web site. The SA Mobile Network continues to evolve; blogging, podcasts, RSS feeds, and more have been added to its original smorgasbord of shopping, entertainment, and news, and more features are on the horizon.
 
In January 2007, Serotek demonstrated System Access with Windows Vista at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the same venue in which Microsoft rolled out Vista itself. The product will soon offer braille access and Java compatibility, Calvo said.
 
Serotek Corporation and its SA Mobile Network are gaining momentum and recognition in the assistive technology arena, and Calvo is giddy with the news that the product he loves and uses every day is gaining popularity. But "at the end of the day," as he said, he is first and foremost an entrepreneur.
 
"I feel called to do what I'm doing right now," he said, "but my major interest is facilitating the needs of my customers. Right now my customers are blind consumers, and I wake up each day to facilitate customers who want to open their wallets and put their credit cards on the virtual counter."
 
LINKS: Related articles
The Liberty to Use a Computer: A Review of the FreedomBox by Deborah Kendrick
http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw070307
Who's Using the FreedomBox? by Deborah Kendrick
http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw070308
 
Read AFB Accessworld magazine at  www.afb.org/aw
 
If you'd like to learn more about Donna J Jodhan and her company 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 Jayna Sheffield.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wanted! Simultaneous translators

Good day everyone!  I'm Jeff N Marquis at the business desk and today I'm putting out a frantic call for simultaneous translators. 
For those of you who are not too familiar with the simultaneous translation profession, these are the translators that translate as people speak.  If you were to ever go to an international  conference, or to a conference that is held in a country that has more than one official language, you'll find that there are translators whose job it is to translate from one language into the other.  So for example, if you were to attend a conference in Canada, you will almost all of the time find that as persons give presentations in English, it is simultaneously translated into French and visa versa.  
I truly believe that as more and more conferences are held across the Internet, in boardrooms, and in halls and everywhere else, the need for simultaneous translators is only going to increase and I would even dare to predict that this demand is going to sky rocket.  Why do I feel this way?  For the following reasons:
More and more conferences these days are being made up of multi lingual participants and presenters.
More and more researchers, medical professionals, and legal minds are conferring on an international level.
More and more international conglomerates and corporations are collaborating on a global basis.
More and more global governments are coming together to try and find solutions to benefit everyone worldwide.
Do you get the picture?  Are you seeing what I'm seeing?  Simultaneous translators are wanted and needed in order to bridge the communications gap and they are badly needed to help spread info as it happens.  There used to be a time that if you attended a conference where both participants and presenters spoke more than one language or where their mother tongue was not the same, you'd have to wait for several days or even weeks before the translation would become available.  Not so anymore and this is not through choice.  The need to have info at one's fingertips is driving the insane demand for simultaneous translators and this is a profession that could indeed become very financially and personally satisfying and rewarding.  Please give it your due consideration. 
 
It's time now for our weekly news round-up for language professionals.
 
Translator
By Griffin(Griffin)
... translation piglat translator l & h power translator pro 8.00 copyrighting translation translation of lineman thiel into english hyroglyphics and translation mt manuchot hebrew translation bilingual translation job opportunities in ...
XANAX - http://sypiqipiq.blogspot.com/
For more detail check out:
https://www.blogger.com/blogin.g?blogspotURL=http%3A%2F%2Fsypiqipiq.blogspot.com%2F2007%2F11%2Ftranslator.html
 
California's scholastic caliber lags nationally
The UCLA Daily Bruin - Los Angeles,CA,USA
Specifically in the Chicana and Chicano communities, she said, there is a lack of appropriate resources, such as outreach to parents and translators. ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/2007/nov/13/californias-scholastic-caliber-lags-nationally/
 
Translation Centers
By CWP
Which would be fantastic, since all the centers complement one another nicely, overlapping in various ways that present the possibility for unique opportunities to work together. In this day and age, it's of utmost importance that we ...
Three Percent - article - http://www.rochester.edu/College/translation/threepercent/
For more detail check out:
http://www.rochester.edu/College/translation/threepercent/index.php?id=552
 
Foreign language key to success
VietNamNet Bridge - Hanoi,Vietnam
"Good English skills gives me opportunities and self confidence," said Bich Ngoc, who is working at a foreign-invested company. Thanks to her good English, ...
For more detail check out:
 

When Your Business Is Small You Must Appear to Be Big!
By stephanilupher
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 ...
wam stephani - http://my.vipublog.com/stephanilupher
For more detail check out:
http://my.vipublog.com/wp-signup.php?new=stephanilupher
 
Bridging the tech divide
Medill Reports - Washington,DC,USA
"Young people play a role as translators of technology," he said. Headquartered in Washington, the group has programs that span from Seattle to Istanbul. ...
For more detail check out:
  http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/washington/news.aspx?id=69771
 
Language Learning Solutions Rebrands as Avant Assessment
Market Wire (press release) - USA
"These factors are creating a tremendous need for a language-enabled workforce and qualified interpreters and translators across a range of fields. ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release.do?id=793367
 
DOD Missed Deadline for Registering Private Security Guards
InsideDefense (subscription) - Washington,DC,USA
15, 2007 -- Pentagon officials have missed a deadline for capturing information about all security contractors and translators working for the military in ...
or+Registering+Private+Security+Guards+(11152007_nov15d)>&CSTargetURL=http%3A%2F%2Fdefense.iwpnewsstand.com%2Fcs-protected%2Fcs_display_doc_01.asp&TVS=NOTOKEN
For more detail check out:
https://home.iwpnews.com/clickshare/authenticateUserSubscription.do?f=defense_2002.ask&docnum=11152007_nov15d&DOCID=DOD+Missed+Deadline+f
 
Lost: translation
Guardian Unlimited - UK
... the British Centre for Literary Translation, Amanda Hopkinson, the prime reason for publishers' "resistance" despite "opportunities for funding within ...
For more detail check out:
http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/generalfiction/story/0,,2212304,00.html
 
To learn more about other types of professions for those who are interested in languages as a career, please read the info below.
 
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, November 21, 2007

Important news for important consumers

Hi everyone!  I'm Heather DeMarco at the business desk and it's that time of the year again!  Thanksgiving is here once more and time for us to thank God for all of our blessings and for each other.
It's time for our weekly feature.  Our news round-up for consumers with special needs.  We hope you continue to enjoy this feature as much as we enjoy bringing it to you. 
This week we have a selection of articles from the worlds of technology and medicine.  Hope you find them of interest.
 
Table of contents
 
November 21 2007
 
1 ZappTek Updates iSpeak It (Macintosh) to Version 3.3.1
2 Shareware Report: SpeechSoft worth a listen
3 Library leads way in offering new technology for the blind
4Better traffic information for the blind
5 New tools to help the blind
6 LG Unveils 2nd Generation of Touch-Screen Phones
7 Swish new game is catching on
8 Scientists identify brain circuits used in sensation of touch
9 Researchers Develop Adaptive Technology for Visually Impaired Engineers
10 Why can't the phone makers build handsets for everybody?
 

 
PRmac.com
Saturday, October 06, 2007
 
ZappTek Updates iSpeak It (Macintosh) to Version 3.3.1
 
By Press Release
 
Winnipeg,  CA   Oct 06, 2007 in Software
 
[prMac.com] FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Winnipeg, Canada - October 3, 2007 - ZappTek is proud to announce its very popular file-to-audio tool, iSpeak It 3.2. Load Word, PDF, Pages, RTF, AppleWorks, Text, HTML documents or RSS feeds, and using the Mac's built-in text-to-speech capabilities, convert them into MP3/AAC tracks in iTunes. From there it's a quick sync to iPod or iPhone.
 
- Download RSS feeds and keep track of local weather with up-to-date forecasts.
- Download news articles from news.google.com and hear them on the way to/from work.
- Download driving directions and listen to them on iPod or iPhone.
 
Users may open any text document or select any text and load it via the Services menu. A toolbar provides easy access to all of the load menu options and the transferring of a document to iTunes.
 
iSpeak It 3.3.1 sports a number of enhancements:
* Adds the ability to include play/stop buttons in the iSpeak It toolbar so you can quickly start listening to your documents.
* Fixes PDF processing to correctly handle accented characters.
* Fixes a problem with the downloading of directions.
 
Minimum Requirements:
* Mac OS X version 10.4 or higher.
* Web Services require an Internet connection
* PDF processing requires pdftotext (free download)
 
Getting Started:
To install iSpeak It, drag it to your Applications folder or wherever you'd like to keep it. Before transferring any text, use the Speech panel in the System Preferences to select the voice to use during conversion. iSpeak It uses the voice and defined settings for all of its processing. Experiment with the voices to see which sounds best.
 
iSpeak It also provides advanced text replacement capabilities. There are a number of phrases that Mac Voices will not convert properly. iSpeak It can define rules that identify problem words and an appropriate (phonetically correct) replacement for them. It will even automatically apply the rules before transferring a document to iTunes.
 
Purchasing iSpeak It:
iSpeak 3.3.1 remains priced at $19.95 USD with free update for existing users of version 3.x. The iSpeak It trial allows for converting the first 1000 characters of any text. Users may purchase the bundle, which includes iPresent It and iPDA, for $44.95 USD; a $13 savings.
 
Users can purchase from within iSpeak It by selecting "Purchase iSpeak It..." in the application menu or visit
 
 
 
Based in Winnipeg, Canada, ZappTek was founded by Michael Zapp in 2002. Beginning with tools to bring calendar and note information into the Contact entries of the original iPod, ZappTek now provides a suite of applications to meet every need. These include iPDA for personal information management, iPresent It for giving presentations on the iPod, iSpeak It to convert documents into MP3/AAC audio tracks, and iPod Launcher to automate all of iPod activities. All Material and Software (C) 2002-2007 ZappTek / All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPod, the iPod logo, and iPhone are registered trademarks of Apple Computer in the U.S. and/or other countries.
 
###
 
 

Nashua Telegraph, NH, USA
Sunday, October 07, 2007
 
Shareware Report: SpeechSoft worth a listen
 
By Bill Dubie and Dave Sciuto
 
Published: Sunday, October 7, 2007
 
Face it: When you sit down at your PC, there's a lot to read, and not a lot of time. We review myriad Word documents weekly, and without Power Text to Speech Reader from 1SpeechSoft, the "World's Best Text To Speech Software," we'd be up to our ears in unread reports. Power Text to Speech Reader is an award-winning text-to-speech player that lets you listen to documents, e-mails or Web pages instead of reading on screen. It uses voice synthesis to create spoken audio from text with natural voices.
 
What we like most is that you can listen when you have the time. For example, you can listen on your PC or save text to MP3 or wave files for listening later. Even better, if you have a portable audio device you can take your text as MP3 files to the gym, in your car or anywhere you need to go. It can directly open Plain Text files , Microsoft Word files, PDF files, EMail files, Rich Text files, and HTML files. For Microsoft Internet Explorer users, Power Text to Speech Reader supplies a handy toolbar plug-in for Internet Explorer and for Microsoft Outlook supplies a handy toolbar plug-in for Outlook. Power Text to Speech Reader supports dozens of male, female, and robotic voices and more than 11 languages.
 
Power Text to Speech Reader can monitor Windows Clipboard and automatically process its contents. This feature makes it easy to read Web pages, e-mail messages, documents, and much more. Give it a listen.
 
Where to get it: www.1speechsoft.com/download. html.
 
Price: $29.95 registered.
 
System requirements: A PC running Windows XP or Windows Vista.
 
Bill Dubie and Dave Sciuto are industry columnists. They recommend strongly that you read the end-user license agreement on any software you download, as the program could contain spyware or other utilities you don't want on your computer.
 
 

Star Community Newspapers, TX, USA
Monday, October 01, 2007
 
Library leads way in offering new technology for the blind
 
By Ann Marie Shambaugh, Staff Writer
 
(Created: Monday, October 1, 2007 2:21 PM CDT) 
 
It looks like a PDA with a camera strapped to the back, but to a blind person it looks like mail, menus, and even money.
 
The Little Elm Public Library became the first in the country to purchase a Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader, a hand-held device that photographs words and reads them aloud in seconds. Any library cardholder may use the reader.
 
"We don't want [lack of] space to keep us from providing services," Library Director Tina Hager said. "We want to expand on the different services that we provide for all of the community."
 
The reader consists of a digital camera that takes a photograph of the text, topped with a PDA programmed with reading software for storage and settings. Users simply snap a picture of text, wait a few seconds, and listen as it is read to them. They can even save the reading and transfer files to a computer of Braille notetaker.
 
Tommy Craig, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas, spent several hours at the library Monday demonstrating how the reader works. He used it to read a calendar, a page in a book, and even to identify currency.
 
The first reader was developed by Ray Kurzweil in the 1970s, but at $55,000 and the size of a washing machine it was not a practical purchase. In 2003 Kurzweil contacted the National Federation of the Blind saying that technology had finally caught up to his idea, and a few years later the hand-held reader was born.
 
Developers have already improved the reader since its first release in July 2006, but Craig said he believes that the device is still in its primitive stages.
 
"At some point I would imagine technology will get to where we won't need a separate camera," he said. "We'll have a PDA with a high enough resolution camera built into it."
 
Craig said that within five years the reader may be able to describe a room, calculate how many people are in the room, and tell the user where there's an empty chair.
 
The K-NFB Reader costs $2,895, but it has dropped about $600 from its original price. Because it's tailored to such a small audience, certain costs cannot be distributed like they could be for mass-produced products.
 
"In the blindness area, if you sell 1,000 or 2,000 units of something, that's a successful product," Craig said. "It takes a lot more per unit to recover your cost of development."
 
Because many blind people face extra challenges in finding full-time employment, affording the reader can be even more difficult.
 
"The people who need it a lot of times can't afford it," he said. "So it's really important for libraries and agencies to be able to provide it."
 
Donations from the Little Elm Lions Club, the Friends of the Library, and the Caw Coo Parrot Head Club made the purchase of the K-NFB Reader possible.
 
Craig said he is thrilled that the Little Elm Public Library took the initiative to become the first in the country to offer this service to its patrons, which is in addition to a Braille collection of books.
 
"For a smaller library, it's pretty amazing that they have the commitment to do that," he said. "They should really be given some recognition for that."
 
 

The Norway Post, Norway
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
 
Better traffic information for the blind
 
By Rolleiv Solholm
 
The Norwegian Highway Department and the SINTEF research Group are hoping to introduce a new real time traffic information system for the blind and sight impared.
 
Tests have already been carried out in cooperation with the Association for the Blind.
 
The AKTA system is based on information via the mobile phone and the GPS system.
 
The buses must have a GPS based computer which keeps track of where the vehicle is at any given time, regardless of the official time schedule.
 
This system communicates with the blind person's mobile phone, which will give a spoken message when the bus is approaching the stop where he or she is waiting.
 
On the bus, the GPS will communicate to the passenger when the bus is approaching the desired stop, which has been pre-set before the trip began.
 
The system will also inform the driver that a passenger wants to get off at the stop.
 
This will give the sight impared easier access to public transport and at the same time help ensure that he or she doeas not get off at the wrong stop.
 
So far the tests have been carried out on the long distance route between Kristiansund and Aalesund, but the aim is to introduce the system nationwide.
 
(VG/SINTEF) 09.10.2007 06:10
 
 

MSN Video
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
 
New tools to help the blind
 
Oct9: Find out how blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer got help from Brainport, a new sensory substitution device.
 

(Video 5:27 on source page, autoplays, embedded Flash format)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Korea Times, South Korea
Thursday, October 04, 2007
 
LG Unveils 2nd Generation of Touch-Screen Phones
 
By Cho Jin-seo, Staff Reporter
 
Touch-sensitive screens come in handy when using ATMs or self-service ticket kiosks at cinemas. But when used in more delicate devices such as mobile phones, PDAs or laptop PCs, they tend to befuddle users. The smooth screen does not provide any physical sensation like that of pushing a button, thus making it hard to know that the right key is being pressed.
 
Recognizing this discomfort, phone makers are beginning to market devices that are more intuitive to use. The second generation of touch-screen phones is often combined with traditional technologies, such as a push-button keyboard or a vibration motor.
 
LG Electronics on Thursday unveiled its latest touch-screen phone named Voyager, setting sights on the U.S. market for the coming holiday season. It has a 2.8-inch touch-screen on the front, but also has a hidden QWERTY keypad underneath.
 
Another impressive feature of the Voyager is its vibration feedback. It gently vibrates when the screen is touched. Named Vibe Touch, the technology was also used in the Prada phone sold in South Korea.
 
``When you press the button, the screen gently quivers to let you know that you did press the button,'' LG spokesperson Song Geun-young said.
 
Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics are leaders in the touch screen field along with several other makers such as Apple. LG has especially focused on the ``haptic'' engineering, the study of the interface between human and device via the sense of touch, since last year.
 
The Vibe Touch is only the first step of LG's haptic technologies, and more advanced techniques are to be introduced later. According to media reports, the firm has already developed a smart vibration feature. For example, when one scrolls down the screen, the device flickers with tick sounds in accordance with the speed of the finger movement.
 
A touch screen is not a cutting-edge technology. Various types of touch-sensitive screens were developed in the 1960s and 1970s. But to implement it into more useful and intuitive forms for consumer electronics was the real challenge for engineers and marketers.
 
This year, Apple has rediscovered the potential of touch-screen technology in mobile phones such as the iPhone. The iPhone was the first to recognize multiple touches, which means it can handle more than one finger at the same time. By pinching or expanding two fingers on the display, for instance, users can zoom in or zoom out of the pictures shown on the screen.
 
No other companies have succeeded in introducing gadgets with the multi-touch feature yet due to the difficulties in developing software applications. But market watchers believe that the iPhone will act as a catalyst for touch-screen technology to flourish. According to market research firm iSuppli, touch-screen products are to jump from fewer than 200,000 units in 2006 to more than 21 million by 2012.
 
Like LG, Samsung also introduced a touch-screen phone with a sliding QWERTY keypad. Again, the essence of the product is the software. Samsung has developed a unique user-interface system called ``Croix,'' where the functions are lined up in the shape of a cross (croix in French) for easier navigation.
 
 
 

From: "BlindNews Mailing List" <BlindNews@GeoffAndWen.com>
 
Werribee, Hoppers Crossing Star, Australia
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
 
Swish new game is catching on
 
By Denise Deason
 
9th October 2007 11:05:45 AM
 
Caption: Gotcha . Margaret Pinder finds the ball in a game of swish at Geelong.
 
OKAY, sports fans. Who has heard of swish?
 
It's a game similar to table tennis played by visually impaired people - and it's growing in popularity.
 
The organisers, led by Brent Franklin, want to set up a playing group in Melbourne's western suburbs including Wyndham, Melton, Essendon and Footscray.
 
Groups are already operating in Kooyong, Geelong, Bendigo and Brisbane, and it is going to be promoted Australia-wide by next year.
 
Mr Franklin, 36, who has been blind since birth, loves playing swish and has won three Australian championships with his skill with the bat and ball.
 
The game is played with a ball that has a bell in it, so players can hear it coming, and the name comes from the sound the bat makes as it is dragged quickly across the table by the players.
 
"It actually makes a swishing sort of noise," he said.
 
"Swish . was invented by Ray Hanna in the 1950s for soldiers who had lost their sight in World War II and wanted to keep playing a sport.
 
"It's very empowering to play swish, and a great entertainment."
 
If you'd like to play swish, or can help with organising a players' group or venue, Mr Franklin can be contacted on 0412 704 749.
 
 
 
 
Eurekalert.org
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
 
Scientists identify brain circuits used in sensation of touch
 
Public release date: 10-Oct-2007
Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-3990
Emory University
 
The ability to tactually recognize fine spatial details, such as the raised dots used in braille, is especially important to those who are blind. With that in mind, a team of researchers has identified the neural circuitry that facilitates spatial discrimination through touch. Understanding this circuitry may lead to the creation of sensory-substitution devices, such as tactile maps for the visually impaired.
 
The findings appear in the Oct. 10 edition of The Journal of Neuroscience.
 
The research team, led by Krish Sathian, MD, PhD, professor of neurology in Emory University School of Medicine, included first author Randall Stilla, research MRI technologist at Emory, and Gopikrishna Deshpande, Stephen Laconte and Xiaoping Hu of the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory.
 
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers found heightened neural activity in a network of frontoparietal regions of the brain when people engaged in fine tactile spatial discrimination. Within this network, the levels of activity in two subregions of the right posteromedial parietal cortex--the right posterior intraparietal sulcus (pIPS) and the right precuneus--were predictive of individual participants' tactile sensitivities.
 
To determine which areas of the brain were involved in identifying fine spatial details, the researchers asked 22 volunteers to determine only by touch whether the central dot of three vertically arranged dots was offset to the left or to the right of the other two.
 
"Using their right index fingers, the subjects got to feel the dots for one second to determine in which direction the central dot was offset," says Dr. Sathian. "We also varied the amount the dot was offset from the other two, which allowed us to quantify people's sensitivity. In other words, we asked what is the minimal offset required to discriminate."
 
In a separate control task, the subjects were asked to determine how long they were touched by three perfectly aligned dots. Brain activity during that temporal task was contrasted with brain activity during the spatial task. The researchers found that different brain regions showed more activity during either spatial or temporal processing.
 
"What is interesting is that we found the most relevant areas of the brain for spatial processing are on the right side, the same side of the body that was used to feel the stimuli. This is the opposite side to the one that might be expected," says Randall Stilla.
 
"We usually think of the left side of the brain as controlling the right side of the body, which is generally true. But more and more we are finding that the right side of the brain is particularly important in many types of sensory processing," adds Dr. Sathian.
 
Dr. Sathian's and Dr. Hu's laboratories also collaborated to determine the strength and direction of the connections between the areas of the brain that govern tactile spatial acuity (perception). Such collaboration, explains Dr. Hu, allows the application of cutting-edge image analysis methods to fundamental questions in neuroscience.
 
"We found that there are two pathways into the right posteromedial cortex that not only predict individuals' acuity but also predict the magnitude of neural activation," says Dr. Deshpande, who performed the connectivity analyses. "In better performers, the paths predicting acuity converge from the left somatosensory cortex and right frontal eye field (an attentional control center), onto the right pIPS. What's more, these paths are stronger during spatial discrimination than temporal discrimination."
 
The researchers are not yet sure why this particular neural pathway exists. Dr. Sathian suggests the signal patterns may be a combination of attentional, tactile, and visual processing reflecting the visualization of the spatial configurations. Future research, he says, will attempt to unravel the mechanisms underlying these different component processes.
 
This study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.
 
 

University of Arkansas, AR, USA
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
 
Researchers Develop Adaptive Technology for Visually Impaired Engineers
 
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - By adding features to commonly used chemical-engineering software packages, researchers at the University of Arkansas, the University of Akron and Chemstations Inc. have developed adaptive technology that allows blind or visually impaired students and working professionals to perform the essential functions of chemical-engineering process design.
 
The researchers system includes a screen overlay with tactiles, small objects embossed with patterns that represent various graphical-user-interface icons.
 
Led by Bob Beitle, professor of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas, the research team created a system that combines tactile, Braille-like representations that can be "read" by visually impaired chemical engineers. The system also includes an audio, screen-reading component and audible indicators of certain software functions. Researchers have also overcome a major obstacle associated with the user function of dragging and dropping or copying and pasting. A tablet computer with a customized overlay, a tablet pen functioning as a computer mouse, and alignment holes mapped to the tactile objects help facilitate the drag-and-drop function, which is the method that connects unit operations.
 
"We are far enough into this project for me say that we have significantly minimized the differences between visually impaired and sighted engineers who do process design," Beitle said. "While we haven't eliminated all differences, we have reached a point where a blind chemical engineer can conduct himself as any engineer by manipulating process-engineering software to achieve improvements or investigate alternatives."
 
The system has been extensively tested at a process-engineering firm by Noel Romey, a graduate student in the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering. Romey, who has been blind since birth, came to the university to study chemical engineering. Since May, he has tested the system by simulating and designing various chemical facilities. The extensive designs are used by clients of the design firm to improve manufacturing systems.
 
The teaching and practice of chemical-engineering design traditionally has had a strong visual component due to many visual tools that describe concepts and processes. This reality, combined with the fact that industry-specific software does not include any adaptive-technology features, means that professors and engineering professionals have little experience with visually impaired students, which may contribute to blind and visually impaired students avoiding the profession.
 
Beitle's team converted GUIs into TUIs. GUI stands for graphical user interface, which describes software that relies heavily on icons and visual tools to represent concepts, functions and processes. Of course, behind any GUI are codes programmed to execute various user commands, such as opening programs or dragging documents. To accommodate those who can't rely on visual cues, the researchers had to alter this visually dependent system into something that could be felt - a tactile user interface. Their system includes a TabletPC or CintiQ - personal computers/screens that simulate notepads - and a pen-based mouse. Most importantly, the system uses custom-made tactiles - small objects embossed with patterns that represent various GUI icons that symbolize parts, such as valves, pumps and reactors - and an overlay that is placed on the screen. The tactiles adhere to the overlay. Alignment holes on the tactiles allow users to place them at desired locations on the overlay and th
 us build process-flow diagrams. Tactile and graphical interfaces are the same size because when a tactile is clicked, the design is built on the computer screen under it.
 
In addition to the computer modifications, the research project has an equally important psychological component, one that Beitle thinks will help both sighted and visually impaired engineers. Whether in the classroom or at an engineering firm, engineers must work as a team on design projects. This reality made Beitle think about the importance of language and the verbal exchange of information between blind and sighted professionals. How can design team members convey technical information when a visual diagram cannot be relied upon?
 
To answer this question, Beitle and his design students collaborated with Douglas Behrend, professor and chair of the psychology department in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, and Rachel Schwartz, a psychology graduate student. Led by Schwartz and Behrend, who is an expert in cognitive and language development, the researchers studied individuals with different communication styles and measured the reliance on vague language, visual cues and gestures. When working with Romey, sighted students seemed to modify patterns of communication styles in ways that suggested they were considering the dynamics of working with a visually impaired colleague. Behrend said this may be explained by group members using metacognition, which psychologists broadly refer to as individuals' knowledge of and about their own and others' cognitive processes.
 
"This added dimension of this project will prepare sighted members of a design team to communicate effectively in a technical fashion with less reliance on visual cues," Beitle said.
 
###
 
Contact:
 
Bob Beitle, professor of chemical engineering, Louis Owen Professor of Green Chemical Process Design and Development, Ralph E. Martin department of chemical engineering
College of Engineering
(479) 575-7566, rbeitle@uark.edu
 
Douglas Behrend, professor and chair, department of psychology
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
(479) 575-4256, dbehrend@uark.edu
 
Matt McGowan, science and research communications officer
University Relations
(479) 575-4246, dmcgowa@uark.edu
 
 
 
 
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.
 
At the business desk, I'm Heather DeMarco wishing you a happy Thanksgiving with your families.  Enjoy your turkey.

Reaching some very hidden consumers

Good afternoon!  I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and I'm late this week.  I'd like to wish my fellow Americans a very happy Thanksgiving and I urge everyone to travel safely.
I'd like to draw your attention to a very hidden group of consumers that so many website developers and e commerce companies are not really paying attention to and if you're smart you'll use the article below to get a leg up on your competition.  I urge you to read the following article and use it to steal these consumers away from your competitors. 
 

PRweb.com (Press Release)
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
 
Accessibility Suite 8.0 Making Universal Design Affordable
 
By Premier Assistive Technology
 
Premier Assistive Technology announces the release of their latest 8.0 version of their leading edge Accessibility Suite, a comprehensive portfolio of applications to address a broad spectrum of literacy needs. Accessibility Suite version 8.0 is network friendly and Microsoft XP and Vista compliant, allowing for a quick and easy system migration to Vista. The Accessibility Suite 8.0 is available to schools in three different formats: Standalone Installer; an MSI Installer, which uses "pushed group" policies; and a Network Version running from a central server.
 
(PRWEB) November 7, 2007 -- It's Premier Assistive Technology's goal to provide the most cost-effective solutions for the literacy marketplace. Premier Assistive's progressive enterprise licensing model makes it possible for schools to provide the entire suite of literacy tools to all students, including "at risk", ESL, and general and special education students. Unlike other companies that charge for each individual physical site, Premier Assistive Technology's unlimited site license includes every computer owned by an organization, regardless of the location of each.
 
The true spirit of Universal Design for Learning is to create an environment that provides equal access to all students, regardless of their primary language or literacy challenges. ESL support has been a topic of discussion at many of Premier Assistive Technology's recent presentations. Premier Assistive Technology even includes its conceptual translation technology and Language Model Information Summarization in the Accessibility Suite 8.0 version.
 
The Accessibility Suite 8.0 contains the following products:
 
Universal Reader Plus©
Scan and Read Pro©
Ultimate Talking Dictionary©
PDF Magic Pro©
Text-To-Audio©
Talking Word Processor©
E-Text Reader©
Premier Predictor Pro©
PDF Equalizer ML©
Talking Calculator©
Magnify It©
Text Cloner Pro©
Scan and View©
Complete Reading System©
Talking Checkbook©
 
Premier Assistive Technology continues to be the leader in literacy technologies with innovative functionality not found anywhere else, such as:
 
PDF Equalizer ML - Opens and reads native PDF Files. No conversion to other accessible formats is required.
LMIS - Language Model Information Summarization. Quickly provides concise summarization based on language patterns rather than on document structure.
Translation - Conceptual translation to and from 8 different languages.
Talking Pointer - Simply point and Talking Pointer will read. Active cursor allows dynamic selection of menus, functions, buttons and web links for easy reading.
Video Podcasting - Quickly convert presentations and digital text to video podcasts.
Talking Word Prediction - Dynamic prompting for text as you type.
Talking Grammar Check - Comprehensive analysis of compositional style and grammatical rules.
And many more......
 
In the 21st century, all institutions are being faced with the accelerating evolution to digital curriculum. Adoption of digital literacy tools is quickly becoming an essential component of the strategy to address the literacy needs for all students.
 
Go to
 
 
to see how Premier Assistive's powerful and affordable technologies can help you address these challenges or contact us at:
 
Premier Assistive Technology
Executive Offices
1309 N. William St.
Joliet, IL 60435
Phone 815-927-7390
Fax 815-722-8802
 
Premier Assistive Canada
PO Box 875, STN A
Sydney, NS
B1P 6J4
Phone 902-482-4680
Fax 902-270-5224
 
###
 
If you'd like to expand your focus to include other hidden groups of potential consumers then please read the info 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 Kerry J Harrison wishing you a happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Important news for women in business

Greetings everyone!  I'm Jayna Sheffield at the business desk and today I'm shining the light on my fellow women in business.  This is our weekly feature as part of our commitment to motivate and help women to strive for the top in the business world. 
Too many women give up before they even start and this week our resident expert and associate Donna J Jodhan is going to share a very interesting article with you.  Donna J Jodhan has not allowed her blindness to hold her back.  As a woman of mixed race she faces countless barriers on a daily bases but Donna is determined to soldier on.  She is a very successful special needs business consultant, author, and advocate for the rights for the disabled.  Here now is Donna J Jodhan.
 
Thank you Jayna for those very kind words.  I'm just doing my job as anyone else would.  This week I'd like to motivate you with an article that I found recently.  I hope that helps to get you thinking.
Enjoy and please give us your feedback.  If you have any article to share that you feel will help to motivate women and others, then please send it along to info@untappedwealth.com.
Thank you. 
 
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
 
 
If you'd like to learn more about Donna J Jodhan's company then please read 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 hoping for you to be motivated today.

Important news for translators

Good day everyone!  I'm Jeff N Marquis at the business desk and it's time for our weekly feature for language professionals.  We thank you for all of your wonderful feedback and we will continue to strive to bring you the latest news and views for language professionals.
Before I do so, I have some tips for those of you who are not sure as to how to get started in your own translation business.
It's not very easy to get started as a translator let alone do it on your own.  There are basically two options to making money as a translator.
1 Work for yourself or
2 work for someone else.
However, so many persons and companies these days are looking for skilled translators and how are they supposed to obtain the necessary skills if they have just finished school without any work experience?  I say to this, look seriously at volunteering.  There are so many organizations who are just dying to offer volunteer positions and if you are willing, ready, and wanting to prove yourself, then give this path a good try.  We have several clients who started out by taking this path and today, they are all very successful translators.  It's how our associates at www.translationpeople started off.  For the first year they were volunteers to many organizations and they used this to build up their reputation and skills.  Today, they are extremely successful as a translation and language coaching company.
The Internet also makes it  very easy these days for translators to build their translation businesses and it's so easy for translators to advertise and promote their services in addition to putting up testimonials about themselves.
Food for thought.
 
Now for our news round-up of the week.
 
Writing Opportunities
By Novelist, lawyer, adventurer...(Novelist, lawyer, adventurer...)
Writers and translators from all fields are encouraged to apply for a residence lasting anywhere from one week to two months. Up to 20 writers per session--10 at a given time--live and write on the stunning 300 acre grounds and ...
Web Petals - http://webpetals.livejournal.com/
For more detail check out:
 http://webpetals.livejournal.com/202164.html
 
Keen's misguided cult of the professional
By Kristine
I see the role of journalists of the future more as that of curators, aggregators, translators, guides, which requires a particular skill set, a skill set that in some ways goes beyond that of a traditional journalist (I'll return to ...
Kristine Lowe - http://kristinelowe.blogs.com/kristine_lowe/
For more detail check out:
http://kristinelowe.blogs.com/kristine_lowe/2007/11/keens-misguided.html
 
JOB POST: On-Line Translators for Disability Focus
By andreashettle
While the long-term goal is to create an e-network of certified translators, the short-term objective is to create on-line specialized translation opportunities that will be complemented with continuing vocational training, allowing the ...
We Can Do - http://wecando.wordpress.com
For more detail check out:
http://wecando.wordpress.com/2007/11/05/job-post-on-line-translators-for-disability-focus/
 
Safety shoot honour for cameraman
Norfolk Eastern Daily Press - Norwich,England,UK
And it was a chance meeting with a firm of translators from Bangkok at this year's Offshore Europe exhibition, which Alan believes proved another catalyst ...
For more detail check out:
http://business.edp24.co.uk/story.aspx?brand=BIZOnline&category=Business&tBrand=BIZOnline&tCategory=homepage&itemid=NOED07%20Nov%202007%2009%3A10%3A46%3A117
 
United Way agencies seeking volunteers
The Republican - MassLive.com - Springfield,MA,USA
Preparers, greeters, translators and site coordinators all needed. Internal Revenue Service will train and certify all tax preparers beginning in December. ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.masslive.com/holyokeplus/republican/index.ssf?/base/news-3/1194423645131720.xml&coll=1
 
Taking care of business
Jackson Hole News - Jackson,WY,USA
When Barron asked the question, "What do you have to help facilitate American travelers," a frenzy of conversation between translators and officials ensued. ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.jacksonholenews.com/article.php?art_id=2392
 
IPv6? Fuggedaboutit, routing expert says
NetworkWorld.com - Southborough,MA,USA
I'm also starting to look more favorably on translators like NAT-PT than I used to; not because I like them, but because they are starting to look ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.networkworld.com/chat/archive/2007/110807-jeff-doyle-chat.html
 
Work at Home Jobs and Resources
By Thulasi Venkat(Thulasi Venkat)
There are plenty of opportunities available for work-from-home job hunters. Data entry, data conversion, content writing, reading e-mails, web designing, medical transcription, affiliate marketing, online surveys, translators, ...
Information On Jobs Articles and News - http://jobshub.blogspot.com/
For more detail check out:
http://jobshub.blogspot.com/2007/11/work-at-home-jobs-and-resources.html
 
If you'd like to learn more about our associates at www.translationpeople.com, 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 Jeff N Marquis wishing you a pleasant day.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Important news for important consumers

Good morning,
I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and I'm early this week with our weekly news for those very important consumers.  We continue to receive wonderful reviews on this particular feature and hope that you enjoy this week's selections of articles.  We also hope that these articles are helping to keep you updated on those medical and technological breakthroughs.
 
Table of contents
 
November 13 2007
 
1 The Trouble with Tiny Tactile Feedback
2 Google's web interfaces with screen readers
3 Do Screen Reader Developers Have The Skills To Design The Future?
4 AFB Review Pocket Hal and say "powerful and full-featured"
5Accessible Software for the Blind Musician
6 Target.com Faces Class Action Suit Over Accessibility
7 Online Conversion of Documents to Speech
8 7-128 Software Announces the Release of PERCEPTIONS Game Book, Specifically Designed for Blind and Visually Impaired Computer Game Enthusiasts
9 All-in-one gizmo for blind people
10 Wishing you and yours a haptic holiday
 

SensoryMetrics.com Blog
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
 
The Trouble with Tiny Tactile Feedback
 
By Jobe Roberts
 

Some product switches frustrate their users by being difficult to use because they lack tactile feedback. Did you turn it on? If you have to look at the switch to see if it's on or off, chances are it's missing that important haptic component. Feedback through touch is an important component that seems to be increasingly factored out of new electronic design (the iPhone only has a smooth surface). The new paradigm is 'touch plus see' for feedback. For the visually impaired the smooth screen touch interface probably isn't too bad if it at least supports 'touch plus hear' for feedback if not 'touch plus feel'.
 
Imagine the requirements list for the iPod on/off button design:
 
Must not be easily turned on/off when it's in your pocket.
Must be sleek and match the iPod's design.
Must not cost too much to make.
Must be easy to use.
Must clearly indicate when it's on or off.
 
Their solution isn't that bad. It does provide some tactile feedback, but it's only by the slimmest of margins. I struggle to interact with it (lack of long nails). This product was clearly aimed at a young audience and not at anyone that has difficulty seeing the button or using their fingers to move it.
 
Tiny haptic feedback is the norm with Apple buttons.  Take the on/off switch on the iMac, you push it, but you can hardly feel that you've done so. Same with the click on the wired mighty mouse, the difference between a click and not a click is barely noticeable via the sensation of touch.
 
Tags: haptic, tactile-feedback, Apple, switch
 
 
 
 
Blind Confidential (Blog)
Thursday, September 13, 2007
 
Google's web interfaces with screen readers
 
By Chris Hofstader
 
Since arriving in Massachusetts, I've had access to a wireless network but I do not have my father-in-law's password for what was his Comcast account and the huge ISP/Cable/Phone Company requires authentication to use its outgoing server and it doesn't permit anonymous rerouting to other SMTP servers. And, no, I cannot ask my father-in-law for his password as he died in March and hasn't spoken to me since.
 
Ordinarily, I write Blind Confidential in MS Word and use the "Send" item under the File menu to email the post to blogger.com. Once the Blogger for Word button bar stopped working, I found that the email approach, described to me first by Jeff Bishop (link to his Desert Skies blog above) in a phone conversation a few months ago, suited my needs better than anything else I could find. I understand that Word 2007 has some kind of interface for people who write blogs that sends information directly to the host but I only have Office 2003 on the laptop I brought with me up north and cannot comment on how well it works with a screen reader.
 
So, in order to stay in touch, post blog entries and communicate with people on my various research projects, I created a gmail account and also tried to use the blogger online interface. On this laptop, I have two Windows screen readers installed namely, JAWS and System Access so I cannot comment on HAL, Window-Eyes or any of the others.
 
When one goes into the gmail page with JAWS, they quickly learn that they cannot use the site unless they click on the link that reads, "If you are using a screen reader, click here for basic html," or something very similar. With System Access one can start using the site and the dynamic content is updated properly, tables are recognized as such and the links that JAWS reports as plain text actually work.
 
Even in the "basic html" interface, JAWS exhibits some peculiar problems. In the multi-line edit fields, when one tries to type a capital letter that is also one of the quick keys in the JAWS virtual buffer support, the leading screen reader announces that "This feature is only available when using the virtual buffer on the Internet." Oddly, this only happens the first time that any of the capital letters are typed in such an edit field per session. Thus, capital F, O, I, B and the other quick keys cause a temporary error when typing.
This isn't an enormous problem unless, like me, you type very quickly and, when you review your message later, you find that some words are missing their initial letter. Still, this is more of an annoyance than anything else and I'd assume that it would be an easy bug to fix.
 
Because I'm running Visual Studio a lot, I tend to also run JAWS as the scripts that Jamal Mazrui and the guys on the blind programming mailing list have written as a team, are so good that VS .Net works better with JAWS than any other screen reader/IDE combination out there that I have tried. [If you are interested in these scripts or any of Jamal's cool and highly accessible programs, go to his web site: http://www.empowermentzone.com or one of the other sites that provide ways to download this software.] I don't always feel like jumping from one screen reader to another just to read mail or send a
quick response to someone so I have grown kind of accustomed to using JAWS with gmail although I would prefer the System Access level of support.
 
The blogger interface also works better with System Access than with JAWS but it is not as smooth as the SA gmail support. Yesterday, as many of you noticed, my post "The RIM, RAM, SAM Scam" contained a bunch of garbage and two copies of the text I copied from MS Word and pasted into the blogger edit field. I don't know how or why this happened but, somehow, the text I copied from Word got combined with text in the JAWS virtual buffer and when I pasted it into the edit
field, it looked pretty crappy. I did the blog post right as my wife and I were running out the door to visit an old friend in Jamaica Plain so I didn't review the post and, given my luck with web interfaces lately, it, of course, came out miserably.
 
Generally, though, the screen readers I tried (more so in the JAWS case than SA) need to improve a bit before I would say that the gmail or blogger interfaces are truly usable. SA, as I state above, does an excellent job with gmail and performs adequately in blogger. JAWS requires that one use the blind guy ghetto "basic html" interface for gmail and works dreadfully in the blogger pages. I'm told that JAWS 9 is supposed to do revolutionary things on the Internet so I hope that when 9.0 is released, it does at least as well as System Access on pages built with AJAX that have a lot of dynamic content.
 
Mike Calvo wrote an interesting post on the "Who's to Blame" topic on the Serotek blog yesterday (http://www.serotek.com/blog). I recommend that BC readers check it out as I think he provides a more comprehensive discussion of the issue than any of the other blogs I've read recently.
 
I still think that ATIA, the industry association for access technology companies, should try to coordinate an effort to develop a document that web developers can use to better understand what AT users will see, hear or feel when on their web sites. The precise design of user experience should probably remain in the hands of the AT companies as features like Quick Keys and others are issues on which these companies compete and I, for one, want the screen reader vendors to continue to try to innovate in order to beat each other at
the cash register. At the same time, though, I feel strongly that web developers should have a easy set of reference materials on which they can set expectations for how their pages will work with AT.
 
Mike Davies, the actual author of the blog post I accidentally attributed to someone else last week, said in a comment he posted that he would not like to have different expectations for behavior in different screen readers and that he would also not like putting a "best if read with screen reader X" statement on a web page as this would be bad for standards and guidelines and would likely muddy the waters of web accessibility. I believe this sort of thing is
inevitable whether the web sites state that they work better with one screen reader or another or leave such a statement off and let the users guess which AT might work best on which sites. I feel strongly that the AT companies should try to adhere to the user agent guidelines as closely as possible; sadly, though, I think that the leading screen reader vendors will do whatever best suits their business model rather than what best suits their users and rely on
companies like google to provide a blind guy ghetto "basic html" alternative to all of the cool new dynamic content that people who do not depend on AT can enjoy.
 
Afterward
 
As the easiest thing I could find to fix the "RIM, RAM, SAM Scam" article was to delete it and repost the entire thing, I also deleted the comments posted before I put the corrected version up. Will Pearson and Chairman Mal had sent in interesting comments and, if they read this, I hope they will repost their comments as I found them entertaining but I don't think they were online long enough for many others to see them
 
-- End
 
posted by BlindChristian at 11:06 AM
 
 
 
 
Blind Confidential (Blog)
Friday, September 21, 2007
 
Do Screen Reader Developers Have The Skills To Design The Future?
 
By Chris Hofstader
 
Friday, September 21, 2007
 
One of my research projects involves designing a user interface for delivering mathematical equations through an auditory system. I, therefore, find myself thinking a lot about human short term memory and the amount of information a typical student can retain while listening to their computer speak an equation. I also need to concern myself with techniques to deliver this information in a unambiguous manner, a task equal in difficulty to the short term memory issues and possibly more important as my users can review the equation with cursor keys to refresh their memory but would struggle to calculate the correct answers to problem sets if our system cannot properly disambiguate the information.
 
I have spent a lot of time over the past few years thinking about and working on models to improve the efficiency with which a person can use devices which expose their interface through audio. This obviously includes screen readers and other programs that people with vision impairment employ to more easily perform various tasks. I also concern myself with other applications for speech and audio user interfaces; namely, I study the application of auditory user interface concepts on mainstream devices and look for ways to leverage the
market size of consumer electronics as applied to access technology. Finally, my research includes looking into auditory interfaces for people who may have a temporary disability (motorists can only safely use one hand and no vision when driving, military personnel cannot take their eyes off of a target or their hands off of their weapon, etc.).
 
As I've documented throughout the history of Blind Confidential, I struggle badly with repetitive stress injuries and have started calling my form of RSI "Screen Reader Syndrome" because of the disproportionately large number of keystrokes that a person with vision impairment must use to achieve the same goal as a person with sight using the same software packages.
 
I have a very high level of respect for the software engineers who write screen reader software. I have met most, if not all, of the lead technical people at the various vision related software businesses and all have impressed me with their intellect and dedication to the work they do. Doug Geoffray and his team have built a really solid code base and continue to deliver relatively interesting upgrades on a steady schedule. Mike Hill, of Dolphin, has always impressed me as one of the smartest guys with whom I have discussed technical issues. Matt Campbell certainly deserves the title of hottest newcomer to the biz as he continuously creates interesting solutions to very difficult problems. Of all of the people working on different solutions for people with vision impairment, I know the least about Willy Walker, the Sun Microsystems lead developer on the orca screen reader, but I do find his answers to questions and the other information he sends to the orca mailing list to b
 e very useful. I've only tried NVDA and Thunder a couple of times and don't know any of the folks involved in their development so I will withhold comment
on them. I have met Travis at Apple who works on VoiceOver and he also seems like a very smart guy.
 
Of all of the people in the biz, I know Glen Gordon much better than the others as we talked on a near daily basis for six years. In the nearly 30 years since I started working on software professionally, I have enjoyed the privilege of working with a lot of really smart people on all sorts of interesting problems. Glen Gordon stands at the top of my list of truly great hackers along with Richard Stallman and many other really smart folks.
 
While Glen, Doug, Mike, Willy, Travis and Matt all have excellent technical skills, do they and their teams have the skills necessary to take the audio user interface paradigm to the next level, one in which people with vision impairment can use software with a level of efficiency similar to that of our sighted peers?
 
If we explore the skills most necessary to build the current generation screen readers, we find two major skill sets: really low level operating system hacks and taking information from API and DOM and organizing and presenting it in a manner that a person with vision impairment can use effectively. Peter Korn would argue that the operating system hacks insert a level of instability to the screen reader and to the entire system and he may well be right. At the same
time, gathering information from an API or DOM will miss information that an application developer neglected to code properly to conform to the API or DOM upon which the screen reader relies. Thus, the low level techniques might produce instability but can often deliver information unavailable to an API driven solution; meanwhile, screen readers that rely on API can provide really excellent information, including contexts and relationships that do not lend themselves too well to the screen "scraping" techniques. Obviously, both systems
have their strengths and their problems. As far as I know, all of the Windows based screen access programs use a hybrid of operating system hacks and API/DOM to collect information while orca and VoiceOver both rely entirely on API and DOM for their data.
 
In my six years at HJ/FS, I hired quite a number of people into software engineering jobs to work on JAWS, MAGic and our other programs. In virtually all cases, we looked for people who had at least some low level hacking experience because JAWS, like its Windows counterparts, uses a lot of operating system hacks to collect data with which it populates its off screen model (OSM) and MAGic, like all Windows magnifiers, must do some very delicate bit twiddling at the operating system level. Thus, we looked for programmers with a bit of silicon under their fingernails and a solid understanding of Windows
drivers and low level graphical functionality.
 
The last large step forward to improve the efficiency with which a screen reader user can hear information came with the introduction of the Speech and Sounds Manager in the JAWS 5.xx series. By using the Speech and Sounds Manager, one can cut down on the number of syllables they need to hear while also hearing a sound simultaneously with text read by their synthesizer which, depending upon the application which the user needs, can cut down on a substantial amount of time required to achieve a given goal. I know that Serotek System Access uses some sound augmentations when in a browser, that HPR did some of this in the past and I've heard people tell me of some now defunct screen readers doing a bit of this as well. No one, to my knowledge, though
has implemented a system nearly as comprehensive as the one in JAWS which one can use in many areas of their computer usage to deliver more than a single dimension of semantic information at any given instance.
 
Before Speech and Sounds Manager, JAWS defined the state of the art with its incredible collection of information augmentations gathered from various DOM in the Office suites and other applications that exposed a rich API. In most cases, these added data items did not appear anywhere on the screen but contained very useful information for users of these applications. For example, in the time prior to JAWS' adding DOM support and information augmentation to its support for Microsoft Excel, a person with a vision impairment could open and even edit Excel files but, especially when trying to read an Excel worksheet that someone else had made, they had to spend a lot of time poking around just to find which cells had data and what the row and column headers might say to identify what the value in the cell might mean. All of these initial augmentations were delivered in a textual format read by the speech synthesizer. Thus, JAWS users could learn more from and with a greater level
  of efficiency work with spreadsheets and other interesting applications.
 
These augmentations provided a screen reader user with a lot of extra semantic information about the document of interest. It cut down on the amount of time and keystrokes a user had to spend while working with said document as the augmentations provided them with a way of ignoring information that they had no interest in and for finding the items of greatest interest to them within a specific task.  In the years that have followed, most of the Dom based methods of improving efficiency through delivering additional meaning to the user
and the quick keys method of navigating a web page more rapidly than had previously been possible have been imitated by most other screen readers on all platforms. The Speech and Sounds Manager remains the only major method of increasing the semantically interesting information in any given amount of time that resides entirely in JAWS.
 
Unfortunately, I have not seen any truly innovative user interface improvements in any screen reader release since the JAWS 5.xx series. Certainly, Window-Eyes and System Access have added a large number of new features in each of their releases but, for the most part, they have been catching up to the 2003 releases of JAWS. Meanwhile, FS hasn't done much to raise the bar that its competitors must reach to catch up in the past three or four years.
 
In terms of innovation, FS seems to include incremental new features of little interest and the other screen reader vendors, on Windows, GNU/Linux and Macintosh, seem hell bent on creating a JAWS clone. In conversations both Will Pearson and I have had with people at various screen reader companies, the notion of increasing the number of semantic dimensions delivered to a screen reader user in a single instant has been called a "gimmick" and some individuals have told us that, "it can't be important, none of our users have asked for it."
 
Many years ago, when HJ still made JAWS, we commissioned a market research project to help us determine what our users actually wanted. One of the results most difficult for us to understand was the line that said that less than 2% of blind computer users wanted to use Excel. I recall discussing this with Eric Damery and we concluded that blind users would use Excel if it worked reasonably well with JAWS. Thus, although the market research told us that no one cared about a spreadsheet, we hired a contractor to write scripts for Excel,
I worked closely with the contractor on features and such and today, about eight years later, many people who use JAWS and most other screen readers also use a spreadsheet. Thus, the argument that "no one has requested a given feature" continues to be baseless as the majority of screen reader users don't know they want something until it shows up in their AT. It's a classic chicken and egg problem.
 
What user interface structures might help improve the efficiency with which a blink can interact with their computer? A number of different theorists and researchers could provide a lengthy list of ideas ranging from concepts like synthetic vision to 3D audio to a method with which a screen reader user can quickly move their attention from one conceptual group to another (the method which a sighted person employs unconsciously by moving their gaze. There are a fairly large number of other ideas bouncing around the research community but
absolutely none of the screen reader vendors seem to spend any time or effort seeking the next major step forward for their users.
 
At this time, I cannot blame these companies for their lack of enthusiasm for finding a more efficient user experience. Many of the products out there spend most of their time trying to catch up or jump past JAWS and, perhaps more to the point, none of these companies have people with the design skills to invent a model that will improve user efficiency.
 
Thus, the titular question of this article, do the screen reader vendors have people with the skills necessary to move the state of the art forward? I think not. I do think that all of the screen reader vendors act in good faith and believe they make the right decisions regarding user interface but, unfortunately, they do not have anyone on their staffs dedicated to studying such problems, suggesting and designing new UI metaphors and improving the efficiency of absorbing information delivered by a screen reader.
 
The missing skills can be a bit obscure. The first necessary skill would be in human computer interaction (HCI) with a strong background in non-visual interfaces. It would also be valuable to have people who understand cognitive psychology, learning theory, psycho-linguistics and other disciplines that can be applied to defining the next step in audio user interface design. Such people do exist and many have computer programming in their skill set as they
tend to demonstrate their models in software simulations.
 
Today, the only groups I am aware of who are exploring multi-dimensional audio interfaces for use by people with vision impairment are the people like David Greenwood who make really cool audio only real time action games. Shades of Doom, Greenwood's most famous title, plays up to 32 simultaneous sounds and a user can understand what is going and, react to the situation, kill the mutants
and save the world from the mad scientist. Obviously, the information delivered by a action/adventure game would differ substantially from that delivered by a screen reader in a word processor but Greenwood's work and that of the other audio game hackers proves that blinks can understand much more information than the single syllable or pause produced by a speech synthesizer.
 
Will the screen reader vendors try to move the state of the art forward? I certainly hope so. Audio user interfaces will start to appear in mainstream products. People with a number of smart appliances, blind or otherwise, will not want to look at a display every time they want to change the state of a device in their house. These people will want to issue verbal commands and receive audio feedback. These people will also expect their systems to function
very efficiently as a smart home and smart appliances that take longer than their predecessors to function will be rejected out of hand. The screen reader companies do have a lot of knowledge about blind users and their needs and, in my opinion, if they added people to their staffs who could help them develop systems that deliver richer information, they will find themselves on the cutting edge of design for non-visual interfaces for both people with disabilities and for the mainstream consumer.
 
-- End
 
posted by BlindChristian at 9:59 AM
 
 
 
 
Dolphin Computer Access
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
 
AFB Review Pocket Hal and say "powerful and full-featured"
 
AccessWorld Review gives the thumbs up
 
For several months the AFB's Access World has been testing and toying with Pocket Hal (our screen reader for the Pocket PC) and it is clear that Bradley Hodges has done his homework!
 
In this thorough review Bradley comments on the many aspects of accessing a Pocket PC including:-
 
Getting Started
Documentation
Navigation
Using Applications
Contacts
Web Browsing
 
With more comprehensive access, ability to adapt to programs, excellent manuals and technical support, Pocket Hal comes out on top . They didn't fail to mention that it is cheaper than its competitor, too.
 
"We think Pocket Hal is the more flexible and powerful program."
 
"Web Browsing - Pocket Hal worked well with Internet Explorer. Forms mode is used, as with desktop screen-reading programs. Navigation by arrows for all text and tabs from link to link was smooth."
 
"The Bottom Line - Pocket Hal is a powerful and full-featured screen-access program. It shares some important features with its full-size sibling. Customizable files that support specific applications are available for a number of third-party programs. In addition, the user or a distributor can customize the behavior of Pocket Hal to meet specific needs."
 
"If work or school require the use of a full-featured Pocket PC and you appreciate a comprehensive manual and are adventuresome, then Pocket Hal is most likely to be the top pick. It is obvious that the Pocket version of Hal is a close relative to the company's full-size Windows screen-access product. The ability to create and customize specific files to support third-party applications is an important feature for some individual situations."
 
LINK: Read the full Access World review.
http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw080503
 
LINK: Visit the Pocket Hal product pages.
http://www.yourdolphin.com/productdetail.asp?id=7
 
(Source)
 
 
 
 
The Fred's Head Companion
Monday, October 01, 2007
 
Accessible Software for the Blind Musician
 
By Michael McCarty
 
CakeTalking for SONAR
 
Since its introduction at a packed presentation during the 2000 CSUN conference in Los Angeles, CakeTalking has changed the lives of blind musicians from students who can now independently prepare and print their music theory assignments, to working professionals who produce entire album projects for clients who pay them a competitive hourly rate for their audio production services.
 
During that ground-breaking CSUN presentation, CakeTalking's creator, David Pinto, invited four of his blind students to show how they use Cakewalk's MIDI/Audio program with CakeTalking. In one short hour an enthusiastic audience witnessed the following:
 
A six-year-old girl recorded and orchestrated the Spinning Song for piano, french horns, flutes and percussion.
 
A college undergraduate recorded a melody and displayed it in staff notation.
 
An eighteen-year-old composed a theme for a news program including a fade for the announcer.
 
A fourteen-year-old recorded the piano, guitar and bass parts for her own song and then recorded herself singing the lead vocal and three harmony parts.
SONAR 6 is Cakewalk's most advanced MIDI/Audio program, and is used by professionals around the world. CakeTalking is an extensive set of scripts for the JAWS for Windows screen reader that makes SONAR 6 accessible. In the past, blind users had been creating sound recordings with Cakewalk's MIDI/Audio programs. However, reliable access and sensible instruction has been lacking, until now! CakeTalking gets you up and running and creating right away!
 
The key commands are intuitive and easy to learn.
 
Extensive online help and a separate 300 page tutorial direct you in recording, editing and even printing out your music. Online help is always just a key stroke away.
 
Customers are already using CakeTalking with SONAR 6 and JAWS to create everything from song demos to professional radio jingles and CDs for recording artists.
 
SibeliusSpeaking
 
SibeliusSpeaking delivers the power and flexibility of the excellent notation program, Sibelius, to the blind user. SibeliusSpeaking combines a set of sophisticated scripts for the JAWS for Windows screen reader with tutorial documents and superb online help.
 
Blind composers or arrangers can now independently transfer their creative musical ideas directly from their mind's ear to the printed page!
 
SibeliusSpeaking frees the blind composer to create music for all kinds of traditional or not-so-traditional ensembles, from string quartets, to jazz bands, symphony orchestras or (why not?) dueling tubas! You can print your music for any sighted person to read in the medium they recognize: conventional, staff notation.
 
With SibeliusSpeaking, you can learn to use Sibelius, one of the world's premiere notation tools. Enter notes from your PC's keyboard or with any MIDI (piano-style) musical keyboard attached to your PC's soundcard. Listen back to your composition and independently revise it until you're ready to print it up for your sighted teacher, colleague or student to read.
 
Click this link to learn about these programs from YesAccessible: http://www.yesaccessible.com.
 
Posted by Michael McCarty at 2:37 PM
 
 
 
 
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.
 
 
 
 
The Fred's Head Companion (APH)
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
 
Online Conversion of Documents to Speech
 
By Michael McCarty
 
SpokenText.net allows you to record PDF, Word, plain text, PowerPoint files, RSS news feeds, emails and web pages, and converts them to speech automatically. You can download your recording as an iPod book or mp3 file. And every member gets a personal podcast URL , which you can use to download recordings to iTunes or your iPod. You can also easily share your recordings on your web site or blog using SpokenText Badges or individual recording players. And best of all it's COMPLETELY FREE!
 
Click this link to visit
 
 
Posted by Michael McCarty at 1:05 PM
 
 
 
 
www.magnifiers.org
Saturday, October 06, 2007
 
7-128 Software Announces the Release of PERCEPTIONS Game Book
 
By Peter Verhoeven
 
7-128 Software Announces the Release of PERCEPTIONS Game Book, Specifically Designed for Blind and Visually Impaired Computer Game Enthusiasts
 
The Game Book is the engine that operates all 7-128 Simply Entertainment games. It comes pre-loaded with 4 games. All of the games in the PERCEPTIONS Game Book are blind and visually impaired accessible.
 
The PERCEPTIONS Game Book, and all BL (blind accessible) and VI (visually impaired accessible) rated Simply Entertainment games work with JAWS, and are self-voicing as well.
 
The Game Book and additional games can be downloaded from
 
 
or ordered on CD and shipped via US Mail.
 
 
 
 

BBC News, Technology (UK)
Friday, October 05, 2007
 
All-in-one gizmo for blind people
 
By Geoff Adams-Spink
Age & disability correspondent, BBC News website 
 
Caption: The TellMate can read a thousand labels using radio frequencies
 
A multi-purpose gadget for blind people that will enable them to listen to music and identify household items is under development.
 
The TellMate, designed by Singapore company, GaiShan Technology could soon be available in the UK.
 
It has a one gigabyte memory and can be used as a music player, radio, clock, talking book player, voice recorder and label reader.
 
The Mark 2 version of the TellMate will also be able to read SD cards.
 
Sound guide
 
The device is being imported into the UK by a Basingstoke-based fundraiser, Dave Chatten-Smith, but he is looking for another company to distribute it.
 
The TellMate is about the same size as a television remote control but with fewer buttons.
 
Mr Chatten-Smith believes that it will be of particular use as a scanner and label reader to help vision-impaired people identify items in the house or at work.
 
"You could label up your CDs, your DVDs, paperwork - there are even washable, waterproof labels so that you can identify your clothes," he told the BBC News website.
 
The TellMate uses RFID tags that can be attached to, for example, different food items in a kitchen cupboard.
 
Each label transmits a low-powered signal to the device which then plays the audio clip that has been recorded and associated with it.
 
The labels can be re-used by recording a new audio clip.
 
Up to a thousand labels can be read by the TellMate.
 
"As the labels are unpowered, you have to be in close proximity to them - about five or six centimetres away," explained Mr Chatten-Smith.
 
One of the partners of GaiShan Technology - the Singapore based company that developed the TellMate - has a vision impairment himself.
 
The new product has been extensively tested for the past 18 months.
 
Mr Chatten-Smith says that it will sell for around £250, and the SD card version should be available by the end of the year.
 
Although none of the functions of the TellMate is new, it is the first time that everything has been brought together in a single unit.
 
RELATED INTERNET LINKS
GaiShan Technology
http://www.gaishantech.com/products.htm
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
 
 
 
 
 
 
ComputerWorld.com
Thursday, November 08, 2007
 
Wishing you and yours a haptic holiday
 
By Mike Elgan
 
'Force feedback' game controller technology is shaking up the cell phone market. Can you feel it?
  
November 08, 2007 -- When playing Halo 3 on your Xbox 360, or other games on other consoles, your handheld game controller shakes and rumbles to coincide with on-screen explosions, crashes, gunshots and grenade detonations.
 
It's called haptics, or force feedback. In gaming and virtual reality, haptics boost realism by adding a third sense -- touch -- to augment vision and hearing.
 
A new generation of cell phones, as well as other gadgets, is introducing haptics. The purpose isn't to add realism, but to provide psychologically satisfying information about precisely when a button is pushed.
 
With cell phones, everyone wants minimized phone size but maximized screen size -- two features obviously at odds. New phones like Apple Inc.'s iPhone solve this quandary by dispensing with buttons altogether and allowing the screen to take over the whole surface of the device. Small device, big screen. Problem solved, right?
 
Well, it turns out that our brains miss the buttons. While typing away on cell phones, we feel the buttons press, click and push back. This mechanical feedback tells us with certainty that buttons were, in fact, pressed.
 
This holiday season is the first ever in which a variety of haptic phones is available for purchase. I'll tell you about the phones at the end of this column. First, let me tell you what's happening now in the world of haptic cell phones.
 
Haptics on steroids
 
The most exciting project in consumer haptics yet demonstrated is a project by Nokia Corp. called Haptikos. The project combines haptics with the actual physical depression and raising of parts of the screen.
 
The Haptikos prototype shows on-screen buttons, but when you press one, it "depresses" under your finger, and you both feel and hear a click.
 
Nokia is using a special screen with "piezo sensor pads" just below the surface. These pads can effect about 0.1 mm of movement of just a small part of the screen, enough for your brain to register button feedback.
 
A Nokia S60 device will reportedly be first to ship with Haptikos technology, probably some time next year.
 
Meanwhile, an Apple patent filing, titled "Keystroke tactility arrangement on a smooth touch surface," describes physical bumps and depressions in the screen itself similar in concept to the Haptikos project.
 
We can look forward to Haptikos-like devices next year. This year, all the haptic phones available use an immovable screen with haptic vibration feedback only.
 
Meet the haptic phones
 
If you live in the U.S. and want a haptic phone this year, I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that there are seven haptic phones available. The bad news is that five of them aren't available here. The U.S. handset market is chronically behind Europe and Asia, and, in the world of haptic phones, that fact couldn't be more stark. You can, however, buy an unlocked phone abroad or online and use it in America. Here are the European and Asian haptic phones not sold by U.S. carriers:
 
Samsung's Giorgio Armani
LG Prada
Samsung F700
Samsung SPH-M4650
LG KU990 Viewty
 
If you want to play it safe and buy directly from a U.S. carrier, you have two handsets available for the holiday buying season:
 
RAZR2 V8: The Motorola RAZR2 V8 phone has a 2-in. external display with haptic keys that shake very quickly (activating the silent vibration feature momentarily) so you know when you clicked one of the external buttons.
 
 
LG Voyager: Verizon Wireless will soon offer the LG Voyager, which is a feature-packed device with a 2.81-in. external touch screen. The screen's haptic system is what LG calls VibeTouch tactile feedback.
 
 
Haptic feedback is a very new addition to the constantly growing cell phone feature set. By next year, it will be standard on many high-end phones. In the meantime, if you want be way ahead of the trend, buy one of the new haptic phones now available.
 
Someday soon haptics will shake up the whole cell phone market. But for now, they can shake your fingers.
 
Mike Elgan writes about technology and global tech culture. Contact Mike at mike.elgan@elgan.com or his blog, The Raw Feed.
 
 
If you'd like to learn more about how you can reach those consumers with special needs then please read the info 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 Kerry J Harrison wishing you a great day.

Important answers to important questions

Hey there,
I'm Alix Shadonnay at the business desk and it's time for us to open up our email bag and answer some of your questions.  Due to popular demand, I'll be mentioning the names of those who have sent in their questions.  However, if you don't want to have your name mentioned, then that's okay too.  So, without much ado, here are this weeks questions and answers.
 
Question from Heather Kelly:
Can you tell me what are some of the most pet peeves in the workplace these days?
Answer:
Hi Heather, based on a recent survey, here are the major responses that those surveyed identified as the main peeves.  This survey was carried out about a year ago in the United States.
1  A person using speaker phone in their cubicles.
2  A cell phone with an irritating ring.
3  A person with a ringing cell in a meeting.
4  A person taking a break in your cubicle.
5  A person borrowing things off your desk like pens, etc without your permission.
6  A person using your phone without your permission.
7  A person with an irritating cough.
8  A person leaning over the wall of your cubicle to chat.
9  A person talking too loudly in their cubicle.
10 A person wearing strong perfume.
 
Question from Mark Baird:
As a budding translator, I'd like to know where I should be targeting my consumers.  I plan to translate from English to Spanish and visa versa.
Answer:
Hi Mark, there are practically hundreds of thousands of translation opportunities for you right here in the United States.  The Spanish-American population is the fastest growing in America today and their demands are increasing.  You may want to look towards the medical, legal, and commerce fields as persons in these areas are desperately seeking translators to help them bridge the communications gap.
 
Question from Christian Sarkoff:
I'd like to know if you feel that our US dollar is in trouble these days?  How long is our dollar going to suffer?
Answer:
Hi Christian, there's no telling how long this situation is going to continue for.  The US economy is in trouble these days because the housing market is in trouble and many families and individuals are having difficulty keeping up with their mortgage payments.  Consequently, this is having an effect on our dollar but that being said I notice that the US dollar seems to be a bit stronger within the last two days.  Hopefully, this situation will start to correct itself sooner than later.   
If you would like to make yourself more visible on the global scene and reach more consumers worldwide then you can take advantage of the info below.
 
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 Alix Shadonnay wishing you a pleasant day.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Some breaking news for cell phone users

Good afternoon,
I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and I'd like to start the week by sharing a very interesting article with you.  It's all about off the edge technology that is going to benefit those hundreds of millions of global users.  So read on.
 

PR Newswire, New York
Monday, November 05, 2007
 
SVOX Pico breathes life into cell phones in over 20 languages
 
SVOX Announces SVOX Pico, a Revolutionary New Hidden Markov Model-based Text-to-Speech Product for Mobile Phones
 
ZURICH, Switzerland, Nov. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Seeking to catalyze large- scale adoption of cell phones, SVOX AG CEO Volker Jantzen today announced SVOX Pico, a revolutionary Hidden Markov Model (HMM)-based text-to-speech product, to help people and businesses better embrace mobile speech technology. SVOX Pico is the first dedicated handset solution to complement the growing success of SVOX speech technology in the mobile market and help even more people use the benefits of hands-free mobile solutions.
 
"People expect to be able to do more and more with their cell phone," Volker Jantzen said. "We're building on our expertise across the globe to deliver speech user interface experiences that leverage the unique SVOX technology. With SVOX Pico we are opening new opportunities for cell phone users for a true hands-free, eyes-free access to information. SVOX puts an end to speech solutions that only lend themselves to one or two use cases. In contrast, SVOX Pico is designed to flexibly support a wide range of applications: navigation, location-based services, SMS, e-mail and screen reading as well as music content. Our TTS playback response time is very low and SVOX Pico produces voice output much faster than our competitor's TTS products. That's one of the reasons we are the navigation industry's most trusted speech solution partner."
 
Industry Shows Broad Support for SVOX Pico
 
"Success in the mobile space means integrating powerful speech solutions that enhance the cell phone user experience," said Eric Lehmann, CSO, SVOX. "By supporting mobile device companies in more than 20 languages, we are building upon our long and successful alliance with the mobile industry to provide people with a compelling embedded speech solution. Mobility is the future of business. The SVOX Pico platform as the core of a highly attractive user interface will enable this future. We are going to roll-out dozens of new languages in order to serve our mobile industry customers better and keep up with their incredible growth rate. Our language portfolio will consist of over 40 languages in 2009."
 
Available in 2008, SVOX Pico breathes life into cell phones in 20 plus languages.
 
 
Key benefits are natural, intelligible text-to-speech output supporting true hands-free, eyes-free user interaction with mobile devices. Low footprint (ca. 1 MB) and the modular SVOX software architecture support rapid integration and easy voice and language updates providing high quality TTS for the cost-sensitive mobile market. The unparalleled footprint / quality ratio is the breakthrough for speech technology in the mobile phone market.
 
 
If you're seeking some ideas for starting a new business 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 Kerry J Harrison wishing you a pleasant afternoon. 

Saturday, November 10, 2007

When your business is small you must appear to be big

Greetings everyone!  I'm Jayna Sheffield at the business desk and I'd like to end the week on a very interesting phrase.  I found this phrase in a blog this past week and I wanted to just touch on it.

"When your business is small, you must appear to be big."  In examining this phrase I find that true to form, many small businesses certainly do their darkness to live up to this.  They are just so afraid that medium sized and larger companies would not take them seriously if they found out that they were just a small splat in the pond.  There is this perception that small businesses are just too small to play with the bigger guys in the larger waters but in today's world this is becoming more and more of a thing of the past. 

The growth of small businesses has somehow managed to overtake that of larger businesses for the past two years and experts are openly predicting that this trend is going to continue for at least the next two decades.  Why are experts so optimistic about this?  Here are a few reasons.

More and more medium sized and larger companies are out sourcing their tasks to smaller competitors.  They are finding more economic to do so.

The American government is openly pushing for the development of the small business economy and to that end they are offering huge bonuses and incentives to small business owners to join the band wagon.

Many more people are choosing to become their own bosses because they are no longer enchanted with working for larger companies.  They are choosing to work from home, make their own schedules, and choose their clients.

The Internet is playing more and more of a part in helping to push the small business economy along and with nowhere to go but upward, small businesses now have a more than better chance of making inroads into the business world.  All this being said, what can a small business do in order to appear bigger?  Here are some tips for you.

Create a website with content that gives the appearance to the visitor that you're a small but solid company.  Create more than one website if you can and use these to advertise each other.  In other words, let each website advertise each other.

Get your clients to give you as many testimonials as you can.

Create a page that lists all of your clients and the type of work that you've done for them.

Use online merchant companies to help create legitimacy.  For example, display the name and logo of your choice of online merchant companies on your website.

Create a page with your commitment to confidentiality.

Try these out for starters and see how far you can get. 

 

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

 

What kids can do now--and all year long: Service Learning.(grades 6-8): An article from: Instructor (1990)

by Cathryn Berger Kaye

We've chosen this book because we really like this author.  Both parents and kids can benefit greatly from this author's knowledge and her book is just so easy to read and understand.

 

E-Marketing (4th Edition)

by Judy Strauss, Adel El-Ansary, and Raymond Frost

One can never get enough of reading when it comes to acquiring knowledge on e marketing and this book has a wealth of knowledge to offer its readers.

 

Untapped Wealth Discovered

By Jeff N Marquis and Kerry J Harrison

Yet another book with a mountain of knowledge to offer its readers.  There's lots to digest.  From how to find riches in niches to how to evaluate oneself before taking the big step to start a business.

 

Before I leave you I'd like to point you to a website that has lots to share with you.  Free info for the taking on how to protect yourself from scams, scammers, and get rich quick schemes.

 

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 Jayna Sheffield wishing you a pleasant weekend.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Big news for women in business

Hi everyone!  I'm Heather DeMarco at the business desk and it's time for our weekly feature as we shine the spotlight on women in business.
One of the main factors according to experts as to why so many women are afraid of going into business for themselves, is motivation.  In a recent survey published in the United States, it was identified that motivation is one of the main contributing factors as to why women seem to shy away from venturing into the small business world.  Many of those surveyed came outright and told their surveyors that they lacked the motivation to go forward and their lack of motivation stemmed from several underlying factors.  Motivation is one of the main causes of failure and is the difference between success and failure.  I'd like to pass the buck over to our resident expert and associate Donna J Jodhan who is going to try and motivate you today.  Donna J Jodhan is a very successful author, writer, and business consultant.  She owns her her own business, and despite being a blind woman of mixed race, she continues to defy the odds.  Here now is Donna.
Thank you Heather for your introduction.  I spend a lot of my personal motivating others and I'm constantly passing on spoken and written words of motivation to others.  It's what keeps me going and now I'd like to share an article with you that hopefully will motivate you to start thinking more about your own welfare because if you don't then don't depend on anyone else to do it.  I've chosen this article because the person in it has definitely defied the odds and is doing quite nicely despite his disability.
Here now is the article.
 

Billings Gazette, MT, USA
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
 
Blind laundry professional: Billings man finds a career despite his disability
 
By KTVQ in Billings
 
Oct 16, 2007 03:59 PM
White Cane Safety Day
 
If you've ever wondered how all those soiled linens and baskets of dirty laundry get clean at Billings nursing homes, It's not magic.  It's Mike Hegel.  But as far as this story is concerned he's about as close to magic as you can get.
 
We caught up with Hegel while on rounds for the St. John's Lutheran Nursing Home.  He travels room to room gathering soiled linens for the Home's laundry department.
"I pick these up and take 'em to laundry" says Hegel, on a mission to complete his rounds in a timely fashion. "This is it five days a week!"
 
Hegel was born blind. But since then he's had five major cataract surgeries to get him to where he is today. He is legally blind, and only able to make out large shapes and moving objects.  
"As years have progressed on my eyesight hasn't changed much" he says. The large tinted cataract lenses make his eyes difficult to see if you speak to him face to face. But the excitement of his job is clearly evident. "I can't drive...but i can sure do the laundry. You learn how to feel for things. Where it is, how to fold it" he says. "A couple weeks went by when i first started and it just seemed like yesterday's news"
 
Hegel has worked in the Laundry department at Saint John's since 1990.  He continues to amaze his co-workers with 20-20 vision.
 
"He takes two weeks vacation in the fall. He's never called in since I've been here" says co-worker Shirley McKenna. "In eight years he's never called in sick!"
 
"It's just been a blessing that I've been able to come this far" says Hegel.
The thought of staying in the dark doesn't interest Mike.  He considers himself a leader for vision impaired people everywhere.
 
He continues to fold towels and warm clothes from residents fresh out of the dryer. "If there's something you wanna do in life you can do it. As long as you put your mind to it"
 
He reaches the end of his clean laundry hamper, once piled up with clothing from St, John's residents.
 
Three neatly folded piles sit in front of Hegel. "You have to learn to be independent in life and learn to have a positive attitude about everything"
 
 
If you'd like to learn more about Donna's translation business then please read 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 great weekend.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Important news for language professionals

Hey there!  I'm Alix Shadonnay at the business desk and today I'd like to touch on a very tangent trend.  You can actually reach out and touch demand!  That's how potent it is.
It has to do with more business professionals seeking language professionals to help them become more proficient and efficient in the use of the English language.  There was a time when language professionals were the jokes of the town as other professions did not think that they were important enough to merit a second look.  That is now changing and business professionals are not the only ones seeking language professionals.  In future weeks we intend to tell you of other groups of professionals who are desperately hunting for the services of language professionals.
So, why are business professionals seeking the services of language professionals and doing it in droves?  There are a number of very important reasons and I'm going to give you a few to start with.
First, more and more business professionals are traveling from Asia to the West in search of opportunities both as reps of large and medium sized corporations and conglomerates and as reps of their own companies.  They do not speak English as their first language so they are seeking language coaches to help them to improve their reading, writing, and presentation skills in English.  They are seeking professional help to improve their emails, faxes, written proposals, marketing materials, etc. 
Second, they are seeking translators to translate their info from their native languages to English.  The materials that they are seeking to translate include marketing materials, brochures, resumes, proposals, plus more.
Third, they are seeking language writers to write their materials in language that is easy to understand, easy to read, simple, and in the style of the Western mode.
Fourth, they are seeking translators and language transcribers to translate and transcribe their videos, dss and wav files, DVDs, and other electronic and digital material.
Are you getting the picture as yet?  Do you see where I'm going with this?  It's a very bright future for language professionals and make no mistake about this.  Language professionals are no longer the hunters but the hunted and because of this the financial rewards are expected to improve greatly. 
 
It's time now for our weekly news round-up for language professionals. 
 
Czech Translator
By avbygpj854(avbygpj854)
Czech English Translator online english to czech translator antiquecars com free cellular plans and phones career opportunities magazine manufactured homes for sale in pa 8 mile i live at home in a trailor cellular phone refurshed us ...
Czech Translator - http://czech-translator-914.blogspot.com/
For more detail check out:
http://search-desc.ebay.com/czech-translator_W0QQ_trksidZm37QQcatrefZC6QQfromZR10QQftsZ2QQsacatZQ2d1QQsargnZQ2d1QQsaslcZ2QQsbrftogZ1QQsofocusZunknown
 
When Your Business Is Small You Must Appear to Be Big!
By demetrerodgers
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 ...
demetre rodgers - http://aziroet.com/demetrerodgers
For more detail check out:
http://aziroet.com/demetrerodgers/2007/10/27/when-your-business-is-small-you-must-appear-to-be-big/
 
Translation Without Tears
By been(been)
Meral Goksel, a sales manager for Kadin Hastaliklari has subsequently learned how to source, purchase and verify professional translations services. This in turn has opened up new global sales opportunities. ...
Sports-Fashion - http://bee-sport.blogspot.com/
For more detail check out:
http://bee-sport.blogspot.com/2007/10/translation-without-tears.html
 
Meetings captivate Mainers in Seoul
Bangor Daily News - Bangor,ME,USA
Many of the meetings require separate translators. One host, Chris Ahn, accompanied Chris Frank of Intelligent Spatial Technologies in Orono, ...
For more detail check out:
http://bangornews.com/news/t/news.aspx?articleid=155953&zoneid=500
 
Steape and ebookers.es Partner Up to Offer Talking Mobile Phrase Book
Newswire Today (press release) - London,UK
Steape produces mobile phone applications related to translation and travel. Steape provides brand owners with unique marketing opportunities and additional ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.newswiretoday.com/news/25436/
 
Speak Spanish Learning Opportunities
By admin
Translators need this knowledge, especially if they are working for police departments or housing authorities. If you work in a profession where you need to converse with a Spanish speaking client, you need to advance your speak Spanish ...
- http://www.learning-spanish-tips.com
For more detail check out:
http://www.learning-spanish-tips.com/37/speak-spanish-learning-opportunities/
 
Self-Sufficiency Counselor
... financial literacy training and/or education opportunities o Accompany clients to appointments, locate special resources for clients such as translators or interpreters o Maintain and update existing resources for clients o Assist ...
TANO - http://www.tano.org/en/rss
For more detail check out:
http://www.tano.org/en/j/?410
 
Afterthoughts (audience assessment, analysis, etc.)
By Brian Hinrichs(Brian Hinrichs)
Two work as translators, and one works for a cable television station. Of the four vocalists that performed at the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra tribute to His Majesty The King, a big event, two have degrees in business administration and ...
classicalive - http://classicalive.blogspot.com/
For more detail check out:
http://classicalive.blogspot.com/2007/10/afterthoughts-audience-assessment.html
 
Browning the Hebrew Bible: The Alexandria Link, part 3
By Christopher Heard
Hermann's notion of later translators muffing the Tanakh through linguistic ignorance is a theme that runs through the novel, and deserves a bit of attention here. Berry has Hermann describe Hebrew as "a highly inflected language. ...
Higgaion - http://www.heardworld.com/higgaion
For more detail check out:
http://www.heardworld.com/higgaion/?p=809
 
When Your Business Is Small You Must Appear to Be Big!
By irajbubel
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 ...
iraj bubel - http://irajbubel.lycosblogs.ca
For more detail check out:
http://irajbubel.lycosblogs.ca/2007/10/29/when-your-business-is-small-you-must-appear-to-be-big/
 
Program joins basic, career courses
Bellingham Herald - Bellingham,WA,USA
Russian and Spanish translators will be available. BELLINGHAM — When Bellingham resident Rachael Brown decided to attend Bellingham Technical College to ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.bellinghamherald.com/255/story/221722.html
 
Kids Joining Parent-Teacher Conferences
The Associated Press -
Schools also are increasingly offering baby-sitting during conferences, providing flexible scheduling and making translators available. ...
For more detail check out:
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gReRAEsepJMsW-5AOfYcP-IvRIagD8SL0DFO0
 
If you would like to meet a company that has made it big to the global stage then please read on.  This company continues to make continual splashes around the world.
 
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 Alix Shadonnay wishing you a pleasant day.
 

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Important news for important consumers

Good afternoon!  I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and it's time for our weekly feature.  Important news for consumers with special needs.
Each week at this time we bring you news from the world of technology, medicine, and health on up to date happenings as it pertains to consumers with special needs.  We thank you for your wonderful feedback and we hope you continue to enjoy our selections.  Here now are tis week's articles.  Join me at the end of this blog for some hot news on how you can increase your potential to reach more consumers around the world.
 
Table of contents
 
November 07 2007
 
1 Local Company Developing Technology to Help the Blind See Through Touch
2 Learning Office 2007 if you are visually impaired
3 Pre-Announcing the "Accessibility Kit for SharePoint" (AKS)
4 Free Microsoft Accessibility CDs
5 IBM Accessibility Internet Browser for Multimedia
6 Giorgio Armani's mobile phone - with a haptic user interface
7 AudioForBooks.com, Which Provides Visitors with Largest Online Audio Book Selection, Adds New Resources to Website
8Magnetic coil developed to wirelessly power artificial retina
9 A New Read on Digital Talking Books
10Accessible version of the AOL Web Suite impresses
 
 
 
 
WMTV Madison, WI, USA
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
 
Local Company Developing Technology to Help the Blind See Through Touch
 
By Dana Brueck
 
Reporter: Dana Brueck
Email Address: dbrueck@nbc15.com
 
A small Middleton company stands to make a big difference in the lives of the blind. It's developing a device to help people see through touch.
 
The company has a patent on the technology.
 
A Janesville man who lost his sight decades ago was eager to put it to the test. He began last July and says the BrainPort could give him more control and independence.
 
"There's the putter over there so I think you just need to have it a little bit away from the grass to see it," Aimee Arnoldussen tells Roger Behm.
 
Behm golfs on a regular basis.
 
"I'm about 60 strokes per nine holes," he says.
 
But what makes his game remarkable is that he's been blind for 35 years.
 
"I haven't got a hole in one yet, but it's possible... "
 
This is the first time he's golfing with the gift of sight -- through his tongue.
 
"If I could have this every day, I'd be a whiz," he says.
 
Behm's using a vision substitution device known as a BrainPort. The prototype is the brainchild of a former UW professor who formed the Middleton company, Wicab, Inc.
 
"What we have is a tongue display and it has 611 little electrodes that act as pixels for your tongue so you feel a tingling on your tongue very similar to champagne bubbles," Arnoldussen says.
 
Cameras, mounted on the forehead, feed information to the tongue display.
 
"They capture the image and translate the image from a visual image to a tactile image presented on the tongue," Arnoldussen says.
 
The brain then interprets the information in black and white.
 
"You would appear as a shimmering object on my tongue. You'd be all, as I call it, white little dots," Behm says.
 
Behm suited up to demonstrate how it works.
 
"What we give them is a handheld controller where they can zoom in and out, in much the same way you do with your video camera."
Behm has some trouble pinpointing the putter but easily picks up the golf ball. He will have to wait for that hole in one but says he's seen enough to believe it can happen.
 
"It won't replace the guide dog or the white cane, but it would be a great mobility tool to assist us so we can go through crowded areas or outside ... I could see the difference between sidewalk and street, grass, and maybe see buildings oh there's a building," Behm says.
 
The company uses the technology in another device for balance impairment. Scientists say the BrainPort is at least a couple of years from hitting the market.
 
 
 
 
MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) Blog
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
 
Learning Office 2007 if you are visually impaired
 
By UK Academic Team
 
A few days ago we blogged about the Ultimate Steal for students, the deal where they can own Office 2007 for just £38.95 or pay £12.95 for a one year licence.
 
 
As you are no doubt aware, Office 2007 is different because it has been totally redesigned to be more intuitive with a ribbon replacing the old menu structure. While this is an exciting development for most of us it can be confusing for those with visual impairments who have learned keyboard shortcuts and are now wondering if they have to re-learn a new set of commands. Eileen Brown's blog post links to some useful answers and tutorials that will help your visually impaired students and colleagues.
 
 
Published Wednesday, September 19, 2007 9:53 AM by ukacademia
 
 
 
 
MSDN Sharepoint Products & Technologies (Blog)
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
 
Pre-Announcing the "Accessibility Kit for SharePoint" (AKS)
 
Wednesday, September 05, 2007 12:50 PM
 
Background
 
About a month ago on July 31st, HiSoftware issued a press release, announcing an agreement with Microsoft to develop the Accessibility Kit for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007. The kit will provide templates, master pages, controls and Web parts along with technical documentation to advance the accessibility of MOSS based web sites and applications for people with disabilities, especially those who are vision impaired.
 
All of the source code will be provided via the Microsoft Permissive License and will be available on CodePlex and/or another (more accessible) web site later this year for customers and other Microsoft partners to download, reuse, and extend. This e-mail provides more details about the announcement.
 
Overview
 
Microsoft has hired HiSoftware as a vendor to develop the Accessibility Kit for MOSS 2007, also known as Accessibility Kit for SharePoint or AKS. The decision was made primarily based on HiSoftware's in-depth expertise and broad industry experience in providing tools and services for improving software accessibility to the point of compliance with key industry and goverment standards and beyond. The contractual Statement of Work calls for HiSoftware to deliver a kit that can significantly reduce the time, knowledge, and effort required to implement a SharePoint-based web site that conforms to the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 Priority 1 and 2 checkpoints, which are collectively known as WCAG 1.0 AA. The AKS can also be used to address the exceptions that have been identified in the U.S. government's Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act's Voluntary Product Accessibility Template or VPAT documents for MOSS 2007. While most of our cu
 stomers find the improvements in accessibility (more info at Office Online) over previous versions of SharePoint to be adequate for their needs, a growing number has asked us to provide even more. The AKS is our near term response. Longer term, we plan to make significantly further improvements in accessibility in the next version of SharePoint, but we don't have any details to disclose at this time.
 
Approach
 
The AKS is being developed as a set of building blocks rather than an end-to-end solution. We expect many SharePoint partners to take various pieces of the kit and integrate them into their respective product or service offerings while some customers will integrate particular components of the kit into their SharePoint deployment processes. Furthermore, HiSoftware and Microsoft will jointly establish and nurture a community of SharePoint site designers and developers that's focused on accessibility advancement and standards compliance.
 
To ensure optimal prioritization and completeness of features and documentation, the AKS project team is planning to work with a small group of partners and customers in a private beta program that will kick off within the next couple of weeks. If you are very seriously interested, please contact Dana Simberkoff, VP of Business Development at HiSoftware, but be forewarned that the acceptance criteria will be quite stringent due to the aggressive timeline of the deliverables described below.
 
Deliverables
 
These deliverables were established based on customer and partner feedback that we've received thus far and prioritized based on the scenarios that would impact the most end users of a MOSS-based web site down to the least.
 
Milestone 1: AKS 1.0 Private Beta - ETA September 17, 2007
This initial milestone will provide a testable version of the kit that focuses on the web content publishing and authoring scenarios for Internet facing web sites as well as intranet portals.
 
Milestone 2: AKS 1.0 Release to Web - ETA October 29, 2007
This milestone will provide a production ready version of the kit that can be used in the implementation of live MOSS based web sites or portals.
 
Milestone 3: AKS 1.5 Update - ETA December 17, 2007
This milestone will provide accessibility improvements for advanced web content authoring and team collaboration scenarios.
 
Conclusion
 
The Microsoft product teams for Windows SharePoint Services, Office SharePoint Server, and Office SharePoint Designer are committed to improving accessibility and enabling everyone to utilize the power of SharePoint. More details about the AKS will be forthcoming as the project progresses over the next few months. In the meantime, if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns about accessibility, please post them in the SharePoint - Accessibility forum.
 
LINK:
 
 
SOURCE
 
 
 
 
Microsoft Small Business Community Blog
Sunday, September 16, 2007
 
Free Microsoft Accessibility CDs
 
By Eric Ligman
 

Do you have someone at your office or do any of your clients have anyone that could benefit from additional accessibility on their computer, such as making the computers more comfortable to see, hear and use?  If so, you may want to take advantage of the Free Microsoft Accessibility CDs offer from Microsoft that provides accessibility demos and tutorials for Windows Vista, Windows XP, Internet Explorer 6 and 7, and more accessibility resources.  the best part, this resource is free to you and your clients.  Head over the the Free Microsoft Accessibility CD order page and get one today.
 
LINK:
 
 
Thank you and have a wonderful day,
 
Eric Ligman
Microsoft US Senior Manager
Small Business Community Engagement
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.
 
 
 
 
IBM Alphaworks
Thursday, September 27, 2007
 
IBM Accessibility Internet Browser for Multimedia
 
A tool that enables multimedia content on the Internet to be enjoyed by people with visual impairments.
 
Date Posted: September 27, 2007
  
What is IBM Accessibility Internet Browser for Multimedia?
 
The use of multimedia content has increased dramatically over the last few years, but people with limited or no vision have not been able to fully enjoy the benefits of these advances. This new multimedia browsing accessibility tool provides people with visual impairments a level of control more comparable to a sighted person using a mouse. For example, while enjoying a streaming video, visually impaired people can now select the play button by simply pressing a predefined shortcut key instead of searching in the content for buttons that control the video.
 
Users can also adjust the volume of an individual source in order to identify and listen to different sound sources without losing track of the screen-reading software because of the sound of a video. If a content creator wants to provide a voice narrative for a video, he can write a text script as a piece of metadata; the tool adds the audio descriptions by using text-to-speech engines. Future plans for extending this technology include enabling flexible audio speed control and contributing this work to an open-source development project. Such contribution will accelerate development and adoption of tools that make Web-based multimedia content accessible to the visually impaired.
 
How does it work?
 
Usually, people with visual impairments browse Web pages using either screen-reading software (such as JAWS for Windows) or a voice-enabled browser (such as IBM® Home Page Reader). However, these tools cannot handle multimedia applications properly. Visually impaired users cannot see the multimedia control buttons that appear on a screen. In addition, the audio of a streaming video -- which automatically starts playing after the page is loaded -- interferes with the synthesized assistive voice generated from screen-reading software, a vital assistant for visually impaired users. Furthermore, most multimedia content operates only with a mouse rather than a keyboard, making it virtually impossible for visually impaired people to appreciate multimedia content.
 
IBM Accessibility Internet Browser for Multimedia is built on top of the Eclipse Rich Client Platform, and it works as a stand-alone application. After a user opens a Web page, the tool automatically analyzes the multimedia content embedded inside the page. Then the tool lets the users control the multimedia content -- letting them play, stop, or pause the videos, change the replay speed, adjust the volume, and so on -- by using simple predefined shortcut keys.
 
The tool also has a function for providing an alternative text-based interface for the content based on XML metadata. By using metadata, the tool can reorganize or simplify the original content and can provide additional information or navigation methods. Although someone must create the metadata manually, once created, the usability of the site is drastically improved. Usually, multimedia content is designed only for sighted users with mouse operations, so it is impossible or difficult to understand the visually rich content with a voice interface and or to control it by using a keyboard.
 
This tool also provides functions for adding audio descriptions to movies based on XML metadata by using text-to-speech engines. Audio descriptions are usually created by content creators as an additional sound track for a movie. For example, we are presently using an existing text-to-speech engine to add audio descriptions. Not only developers and creators, but also volunteers are able to add audio descriptions easily and cost-effectively.
 
The system can also provide additional information or navigation methods, thus allowing users to enjoy the content using their preferred methods.
 
The tool can work with JAWS screen reader by making it speak as well as it might work as a self-talking browser.
 
LINK TO DOWNLOAD PAGE
 
 
Downloadable file(s) available for IBM Accessibility Internet Browser for Multimedia.
 
Filename
aiBrowser.exe
File size
63988KB
Description
Installer for IBM Accessibility Internet Browser for Multimedia
 
About the technology author(s):
 
Hisashi "Himi" Miyashita has been with IBM Research at the Tokyo Research Laboratory since 2003. He works on XML processing, distributed computing, and accessibility. Mr. Miyashita has contributed many free software and open-source projects such as the Meadow project and the IIIMF project at OpenI18N WG.
 
Daisuke Sato joined the IBM Tokyo Research Laboratory in 2005. His research interests include human computer interaction, Web accessibility, and Web usability. Mr. Sato is a member of the Information Processing Society of Japan (IPSJ).
 
Shin Saito joined the IBM Tokyo Research Laboratory in 2001. His research interests include Web accessibility, Web usability, and static analysis of mark-up and programming languages. Mr. Saito is a member of the ACM and JSSST.
 
Takashi Itoh is an advisory software engineer at the IBM Tokyo Research Laboratory. He has many years of software development experience in a variety of IBM products, including operating systems, device drivers, speech synthesis, Eclipse tools for WebSphere, and Home Page Reader.
 
Kentarou Fukuda, Ph.D., joined the IBM Tokyo Research Laboratory in 2000. His research interests include Web accessibility, Web application development, and multimedia systems. Dr. Fukuda is a member of the Institute of Electronics, Information, and Communication Engineers (IEICE) and Information Processing Society of Japan (IPSJ).
 
Hironobu Takagi, Ph.D., joined the IBM Tokyo Research Laboratory in 2000. Since then, he has conducted research and development on nonvisual computer interfaces. Dr. Takagi is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), IPSJ, and JSSST.
 
Chieko Asakawa, Ph.D., is an IBM Distinguished Engineer. Since joining the Tokyo Research Laboratory in 1985, she has conducted research and development on nonvisual computer interfaces for the blind; these interfaces include the Home Page Reader (1997). Dr. Asakawa received recognition from the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare in 1999 and was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 2003. She is a member of the IBM Academy of Technology, ACM, IEICE, and IPSJ.
 
IBM is a trademark of IBM Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both.  Other company, product, or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. 
 
 
 
 
The Guardian Unlimited: Technology (UK)
Monday, September 24, 2007
 
Giorgio Armani's mobile phone - with a haptic user interface
 
Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani has announced a series of electronics products with Samsung
 
September 24, 2007 5:35 PM
 
It's not often a mobile phone is a hot story in Women's Wear Daily, but at the Milan Fashion Week, Italian designer Giorgio Armani has announced a mobile phone and other devices produced by South Korea's Samsung.
 
In a press release, Giorgio Armani, President and Chief Executive Officer of Giorgio Armani S.p.A. says:
 
"Today fashion has expanded to encompass our way of life, not just how we dress, but how we design our home, the hotels we stay in, the car we drive and the technology we buy. In fact, we make as much of a personal statement with the mobile phones that we carry or the televisions we have in our living rooms as we do with the shoes and bags we wear or the furnishings we chose to place in our homes. These are all lifestyle decisions, where design and performance are the criteria. Samsung has successfully anticipated the growing role for consumer electronics in our lives, while recognising the importance of self-expression in the development of its products."
 
It's a tiny credit card-sized device with a touch-sensitive 2.6inch QVGA screen, 3 megapixel camera and Bluetooth.
 
By adapting a haptical UI, users can feel an immediate mild vibration when they touch icons on the display. Being the size of a credit card and a mere 10.5 mm in thickness, the Giorgio Armani-Samsung Phone fits sensuously into a user's palm.
 
It sounds like an interesting phone but the cross-industry deal is not really surprising. Samsun's main rival, LG Electronics, has already combined with Prada, another Italian luxury goods designer, for a mobile phone.
 
Tip of the hat to Unwired View, which announced on September 13 that Samsung's SGH-P520 is the Armani Phone.
 
 
Also, ThisNext published the spec in July, where jfang commented: "Samsung's answer to the iPhone or LG Prada? Maybe... "
 
 
What Armani added remains to be seen....
 
 
 
 
PRweb.com (Press Release)
Sunday, September 30, 2007
 
AudioForBooks.com, Which Provides Visitors with Largest Online Audio Book Selection, Adds New Resources to Website
 
Audio book website pairs largest online selection of adult audio books and children's audio books with affordable membership options, new tips and tools, and support information to become the Net's most comprehensive audio book website.
 
Cardiff, Australia (PRWEB) September 30, 2007 -- It may still be in its infancy on the Net, but AudioForBooks.com is setting the pace by which other like sites follow, providing an arsenal of new tools and resources that, when added with the large selection of audio books and membership and download options, provides site visitors with a full experience.
 
Saving time, money and frustration by helping users quickly and easily tap into affordable used books on eBay, and linking directly to Apple.com where the Apple iPod and iPhone can be purchased with just a quick click of a mouse and used to listen to audio books on-the-go, AudioForBooks.com provides users with options that simply don't exist elsewhere on a single site.
 
Additionally, the expanded AudioForBooks.com blog has created a dialogue among users who can now share information about audio books and discuss titles, etc. from anywhere in the world. Also, the site's Article section continues to be updated regularly and now supplies engaging book reviews, information on Mp3 players, how to tips on downloading audio books and more, with new topics discussed frequently.
 
Site visitors will also be happy to find that they also have access to robust speech recognition software, which turns spoken words into written words, and the leading text-to-speech software, which reads emails, lengthy documents and reports, etc. to users in voices they choose.
 
Both software options can be counted on to address a variety of concerns, especially for those who may be unable to type or those who have visual problems and struggle with reading, or even those with little free time on their hands to respond to emails or type out needed reports.
 
Created by a busy professional looking for a single resource that he could turn for all his audio book needs, allowing him to listen to important business information and his favorite book titles as he commuted to and from the office and worked out at the gym, AudioForBooks.com offers unlimited access to a virtual library boasting more than 20,000 titles, along with the capabilities to download audio books instantly or choose to have audio books delivered directly to your front door - all for less than the cost of a single printed book.
 
About AudioForBooks.com:
Launched by an avid reader who understands that day-to-day demands make it a challenge to find time to read, AudioForBooks.com specializes in meeting audio book demands for children and adults alike, providing titles for all ages. The site is updated regularly and also provides an array of supporting tools and services, including news, book reviews, an article library, a member's blog and more.
 
 
 
 
Digital World Tokyo, Japan
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
 
Magnetic coil developed to wirelessly power artificial retina
 
A Japanese research team has made an important breakthrough in the wireless transmission of electricity that could allow blind people to see again without the need for a retina transplant.
 
The group from Tohoku University recently unveiled a prototype for an artificial retina that avoids the problem of cables hardwired into the head by drawing its power by electromagnetic induction from an external source.
 
 
While the retina itself is still on the drawing board, the power supply unit appears to be near completion. A battery supplies current to an induction coil embedded in the lens of a pair of glasses, which then transfers a charge to the circuit at the back of the eyeball that will eventually drive the artificial retina.
 
On the downside, the side effects of electricity flowing through the circuit and the voltage of the AC being of a high enough frequency run the risk of causing excessive heating inside the eye, which clearly isn't a good thing.
 
According to the researchers, they need to keep power consumption below 50mW to avoid crossing the 3°C danger line at which the eye can be damaged.
 
(Crossposted to Tech.co.uk)
 
 

Speech Technology Magazine
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
 
A New Read on Digital Talking Books
 
By John Oberteuffer
 
Recorded books for the blind first became available in the 1930s. Analog recordings created by volunteer readers were produced as 12-inch vinyl records-about 10 double-sides for the average book. This early production was expensive and time-consuming, so relatively few audio texts were available.
 
Today, digital hardware, synthetic speech software, and powerful standards for digital talking books (DTBs) have dramatically enhanced the accessibility of print-originated material. Many DTB titles, including fiction, non-fiction, and textbooks, are available through nonprofit organizations such as Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic and Benetech Bookshare.org. Serving plate-sized, long-playing records and bulky phonographs have been replaced by CD and solid-state memory media and players for talking books.
 
The content of many books, articles, and manuals is available as electronic text, enabling text-to-speech (TTS) software to read out the material on PCs. Works only available in print may be converted to electronic text using scanners with optical character recognition.
 
The Kurzweil Reading Machine, developed in the 1980s, allows virtually any printed text to be digitized and read out on a PC with TTS software. Screen reading interface software for PCs using TTS is widely available. A USB memory module offers TTS access to screen content that can plug into any PC.
 
The first widely available commercial synthetic speech was DECtalk, developed at MIT in the 1970s. Although it is still preferred by many visually disabled individuals for its high-speed speaking capability, a number of high-quality concatenative TTS engines, like AT&T's Natural Voice, are now available for screen readers. These systems piece together segments of human recorded speech. TTS systems for multiple languages with different voices have been developed for a variety of computing platforms.
 
Today's digital books are multimedia documents; content includes electronic text and recorded files. In addition to the evolution in hardware and software for these talking books, markup languages (MLs) that define their structure have been developed. The implementation of standard MLs offers a dramatic increase in the usability of DTBs. The ML standard for multimedia digital talking books is DAISY (Digital Accessible Information SYstem), which offers a highly functional, feature-rich format for published information.
 
The DAISY file may include audio files, a marked-up text, a synchronization file between audio and text, and a control file to navigate the published information. In addition, the ML metadata provides for explanations of content elements, like sidebars and images, and support for reading mathematical formulas.
 
DTB players and computer software provide button or keyboard control for a variety tasks. The text may be highlighted in sync with the audio (recorded or TTS), chapter titles may be listed, or the user may jump to a specific page or section in the document. Access to nonrecorded e-text information can be provided by TTS or Braille output.
 
Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004, the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) organized the creation of the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) format, a subset of the DAISY standards. This format is now required for all educational texts produced for state and local education agencies.
 
Accessibility using TTS and other modalities provided by this standard also benefits individuals with dyslexia. The physically disabled can also use the document navigation capabilities to move between sections or turn pages. For nondisabled individuals studying a foreign language, synchronized text and audio offers an additional aid to learning.
 
Another advantage of the NIMAS format is its potential for speech recognition-driven access to digital talking books. Speech command menus for chapter titles, indexed words, or page numbers can be easily generated from the metadata in the NIMAS file. Speech technology offers full eyes-free, hands-free voice access to these rich, standard-format, talking books.
 

John A. Oberteuffer is chairman of the advisory committee at Fonix Corp. and a member of the board of directors of AVIOS. He was the founder and editor of the speech industry newsletter ASRNews. He can be reached at jao@fonix.com
 
 

AOL Mail Blog
Sunday, September 30, 2007
 
Accessible version of the AOL Web Suite impresses
 
By Tae Kang
 
AOL tries hard to offer mail products that can be beneficial to the majority of the online users and one of the groups that is not forgotten is our visually impaired group.  The Basic version of the Web Suite (aka Accessible Version) helps visually impaired users by being screen reader friendly with a robust set of keyboard shortcuts.  A few months ago, I blogged about some of the most common shortcuts (email me if you'd like the full list-too long to post here).
 
Anyways, even more accessibility improvements are slated for inclusion next month but I wanted to share with you what one major organization had to say about the new Accessible Version of the Web Suite.  Curtis Chong is the President of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science and is a recognized expert on accessible technology.  Here's what he wrote to AOL:
 
"I must say that I am quite impressed with the work that has clearly been done to create the accessible Web-based AOL mail interface. After I played around with it a bit, I found that the keyboard shortcuts do work if you give them a chance to do so <grin>.
 
I admit that I have spent perhaps two hours working on this, but so far, I can find very little to criticize and much to be glad about. My instincts tell me that a lot of thought and work went into the design of the accessible interface. The design clearly demonstrates a strong understanding of how screen-access programs for the blind work, knowledge of the shortcuts they use to facilitate efficient navigation of Web pages, and a practical understanding of what blind people need and want in an e-mail system. I'm hard to impress, but I will tell you that this has impressed me.
 
Cordially,
Curtis Chong"
 
We hope our visually impaired friends are enjoying the new Basic Version of the Web Suite. 
 
Thank you all for choosing AOL.
 
Tae Kang
"The AOL Mail Blog Guy"
http://mailblog.aol.com
 
 
Here now is the news that I promised you earlier.
 
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 afternoon.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Important answers to important questions

Hello there!  I'm Matt Chadwick at the business desk and it's time for our weekly feature.  Question time from our readers.  This week we've drawn a few questions from our email bag and we'll do our best to provide satisfactory answers.
So, here goes.
 
Question:  Do you really believe that riches lie in niches?
Answer:  Most definitely.  In today's world where everyone is going after everything when it comes to marketing their products and services, the ones who are doing very well when it comes to discovering business opportunities are those who are able to carve niches.  True it is that niches are more difficult to find and that the market size in most cases is small, but the ability to reap greater revenues lies in the ability to satisfy less consumers more frequently.  Niche marketing is nothing new but it requires more patience, more research, more advertising, and more imagination.  The rewards are extremely gratifying. 
 
Question:  Do you really really think that the travel industry needs to bone up on its services to travelers with special needs?
Answer:  Based on recent law suits against certain airlines and hotels, yes.  We are dealing with a rapidly aging population and accordingly many of these aging consumers are becoming travelers with special needs.  The term travelers with special needs does not just apply to seniors, or those who are disabled.  It can also be applied to those traveling with young kids, those who are unwell, and practically anyone with a need other than the regular type of need.  The travel industry needs to take a long hard look at how they treat those with special needs or they are going to soon find themselves facing law suits from weary and tired travelers who are not longer willing to put up with excuses and second rated service.
 
Question:  Do you think that China is really a hot bed of opportunity for investors, translators, and anyone seeking new opportunities?
Answer:  Yes.  China is one of the fastest growing economies today and the Chinese government is bound and determined to throw its doors open for business.  Chinese consumers are demanding more, They are also traveling more now to the West to seek opportunities, and the Chinese government are desperate for translators, transcribers, and other language professionals to help them spread their information around the world.
 
If you have any questions that you need us to answer then please send your question to info@untappedwealth.com.  If you'd like to learn more about riches in niches, then please read the info posted 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 Matt Chadwick wishing you a pleasant day.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The coming crisis

Good day everyone!  I'm Jeff N Marquis at the business desk and I'd like to start the week on a very solemn note.  This blog is meant to give a wake up call to our agin baby boomers and children of aging parents.  Please read the following article.
 

Serotek Blog
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
 
The Coming Crisis
 
By Mike Calvo
 
Doom and Gloom! There, we got it out.
 
Actually this article is about hope and promise and a better life for everyone, but the background is not very encouraging. And without the background, the discussion doesn't make much sense.
 
Here's the basic premise. Vision loss and age are inextricably linked. There are eight million visually-impaired people in the U.S. and 80% are age fifty or greater. This shouldn't come as a big surprise. As we age our bodies deteriorate and the eyes are specifically vulnerable to diseases like:
 Macular degeneration
 Diabetic Retinopathy
 Glaucoma
 Cataracts
 Corneal opacity
 
The current assessment is that 800,000 people age 65 and older in the U.S. are totally blind. By 2015 it will be 1.5 million and by 2030 it will be 2.4 million.
 
The cause is simply the aging of the population. As the "Baby Boomers" hit retirement the graying population will increase dramatically and the prevalence of blindness will likewise increase. We can and are making great strides in attacking various causes of blindness, but we can't stop people from getting older.
 
Certainly everyone knows this "graying" is occurring. From AARP to Social Security there is a great deal of planning and marketing going on relative to the sharp growth anticipated among the nation's elderly. But there has not been a lot written about what this means to the nation's blind services structure. For the most part, and in most states, different organizations manage issues regarding the elderly and those pertaining to vocational rehab. But when it comes to dealing with the newly blind, many of the issues are the same and the resources in place are not sufficient to respond to the coming need.
 
As things stand today, seniors losing their vision are going to be hard-pressed to maintain their independence. And this is a real shame because today, with the availability of resources of all kinds over the Internet, there is no reason for a blind person not to live independently. The digital lifestyle means liberation for people with blindness and low vision and baby boomers, like no aging group before them, are well versed in its benefits. Yet the supporting agencies are not prepared to help them make this transition.
 
What are the benefits? Here's a list we've compiled:
 Community: individuals can interact and share information and experiences with other like-minded individuals at will
 Awareness: The Internet provides nearly instant access to news and information of all kinds. People using this source of information are significantly better informed and aware of world events than those who do not have access.
 Information: The Internet is the best single reference source for information of all kinds. With the aid of a search engine, a user can access the vast library of government publications plus an even larger library of private information sources. There are few, if any, subjects that cannot be successfully researched via the Internet.
 Employment: Computer usage is virtually essential for any meaningful employment in the modern world. Via the Internet, persons can not only be employed but often work from their homes.
 Entrepreneurial activities: The Internet makes it possible for any individual to sell goods and/or services to a worldwide market.
 Education: A computer and computer skills are essential for modern education. Via the Internet, a person can pursue a wide range of educational opportunities ranging from acquisition of technical skills to completing high school, to acquiring a bachelor's degree, master's degree, and/or Ph.D. from accredited online universities.
 Entertainment: Via the computer and Internet one can enjoy virtually any desired entertainment from described DVS's or downloads of popular movies to thousands of Internet radio channels, to games of all types, and all manner of hobby-related forums.
 Health services: Self-care, healthy living programs, health coaching and ask-the-doctor information is all available on the Web.
 Shopping: From necessities to luxuries, one can buy anything via the Web, all without leaving the comfort of one's home.
 Finance: Online banking, investing, loans - almost any financial activity can be carried out over the Web
 Creative arts: Writing and music are two creative activities that the blind can enjoy using digital technology.
 Counseling: Online support groups are available for a wide range of issues from grief-management to depression to cancer survival.
 Spiritual: Whatever your path, the Web has resources to support you ranging from virtually all conventional religions to a huge array of less conventional spiritual paths.
 
The simple ability to stay connected to family and friends via e-mail is enough to make being online worth it to most seniors. Add Internet-based telephone services like Skype and people can stay connected to loved ones around the world, for peanuts. But today, in the world of conventional assistive technology, it costs the elderly person (or the supporting agency) several thousand dollars and weeks or months of study - with all the necessary transportation - just to be able to send and receive e-mail. That's insane.
 
And it's unnecessary.
 
Nationwide, blind services organizations march lockstep to the beat of conventional screen reader technology. That is their sole solution to blind accessibility and no matter the situation they apply it. As the saying goes, "when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."
 
But as good as conventional screen readers are, they are without exception complex and difficult to learn. They are expensive and they require weeks or months of training to achieve proficiency. Once proficient, a blind person can do amazing things. But most elderly people or new users lack the core technical skills to master conventional screen readers and agencies lack the resources to purchase the high priced software and training required.
 
But in fact, for the cost of rehabilitating a single blind person with conventional screen reader technology, an agency can deliver full accessibility to four to six blind people who are not looking to become computer professionals. Assuming a conventional screen reader cost about $1,000 and requires about $3,000 in training for the user to achieve proficiency, Serotek's System Access Mobile cost $499 and a user can be trained in about two to ten hours. You do the math.
 
Moreover, using Serotek's RIM (Remote Incident Manager) or Remote Training and Support the user can be trained over the Internet, with no need to travel and take up class room space. The service agency can provide one-to-one, on-screen tutoring with the trainer and the student both working from the comfort and convenience of their own homes.
 
Logic would suggest that state agencies and local rehabilitation organizations would welcome tools like System Access Mobile and RIM with open arms. With them they can help more blind people for less money. How can they not be excited?
 
But logic doesn't take into account inertia. The entire organization is structured for conventional screen readers. That's how budgets are developed; that's where training skills are concentrated. There may even be a vague fear that if it is that easy to give newly blind people accessibility, training jobs will be in danger. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Even with the six-fold (or greater) multiplier effect that System Access delivers, the demand will continue to exceed the supply as the population ages.
 
Unfortunately, the person with the least say in this decision is the newly blind person. He or she basically gets what's he or she is given as decided by the professionals. The result is that people in need of accessibility tools are hugely underserved. A mere handful of blind people (perhaps eight to ten) end up with the ability to access the digital lifestyle out of every hundred or so who need accessibility help. And that is extraordinarily costly. A blind person without accessibility consumes far more resources in terms of personal care, medical care, social services, and welfare than a blind person with full access to the digital lifestyle. And, sadly, the person without access lives a much more enclosed life and is more apt to fall prey to depression. Without accessibility, blindness is a prison sentence; with it, it's a minor inconvenience.
 
There is, of course, no incentive for the producers of conventional screen reader technology to make their products less expensive and easier to learn. This isn't a "free market" where they must compete head-to-head against alternate solutions. Rather it's a captive market where the buyer has no choice. The in-place infrastructure has a bias towards maintaining the status quo, even at the expense of the nation's ever growing population of newly blind elderly people. We on the outside can call for a level playing field, where consumers can make their own informed choices, but those who have control of the playing field have no interest in making this a fair contest.
 
At Serotek we believe that when you can't win through evolution, it's time to start a revolution and we have one in the making. When an infrastructure does not serve the people it was created to serve, it's time to look for ways to make the infrastructure irrelevant. We have been pushing the technology envelope for six years and our latest product, System Access to Go, available directly over the Internet on demand, may be the catalyst for change.
 
We are working with a number of people who have the interest of the individual blind person at heart. We are close to making an announcement that we believe will simply change the way accessibility happens - to the benefit of all. We invite you to stay tuned. But in the meantime, don't hesitate to rock the boat. Change won't happen unless we work to make it happen. "Information without accessibility is tyranny!" Where the heck is that tea?
 
Posted by Mike Calvo at 6:51 AM
 
If you'd like to learn more about the meaning of accessibility and how vision loss can affect everyone then please read the info 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 Jeff N Marquis whishing you a pleasant day.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The continuing problem with call centers in India

Good day everyone!  I'm Jeff N Marquis at the business desk and I'd like to end the week on a very concerned note.
Yes, it's those call centers in India and I'm going to preach a bit here after receiving hundreds of emails from our readers re their frustrations, concerns, and downright annoyance.
It appears that some companies have heeded these concerns but the majority are still choosing to ignore the growing number of voices who are disapproving more and more about how these call centers are operating and the way in which their call takers are handling North American consumers.  I guess that this topic by now is very hackney but I'm going to voice my own concerns and those of our readers.
Let me spell them out again for anyone listening in.
First, we understand why so many companies have chosen to relocate their call centers to India.  Sure, it has lessened or reduced their overhead costs because they are paying their call takers in India next to nothing.  However, let's examine the quality of service being provided by these call takers so far away from home.  In short, the service is lousy!  Call takers in India are not well trained when it comes to product knowledge, they are unable to speak the English language very well, and they spend so much time on the phone getting their callers to repeat questions over and over again.
Then we have to put up with the brusque manners of these call takers.  They are very brusque, abrupt, and although they are trying to be helpful, nine out of 10 times they are more of an annoyance. 
Next we have them calling their targeted consumers at all strange hours of the day and this does not help.  I have been inundated with emails from our readers complaining of call takers from India calling them at all hours of the night.
When it comes to these call takers being able to locate employees at a company, forget it!  The other day, I call IBM asking to speak to my friend in Austin Texas.  The call taker in India had to be told where Austin was, where Texas was, and at the end of 10 frustrating minutes I gave up.
There are two very glaring concerns of the majority of our readers and these are:
First:  By having relocated their call centers to India, many companies have effectively taken away jobs from millions of low income earners across North America and those most affected are the disabled, single parents, retirees, and those who seek part-time employment.
Second, companies have not even bothered to train their new call takers when it comes to such things as product and service knowledge, customer service and support, and how to deal with the North American culture.
There's not much it seems that we can do to force these companies to bring their call centers back to North America as it appears that so many of them have relocated their centers in India so if we leave one company to go to another it would be the same thing.  All that we can probably do is to keep voicing our opinions and hope for the best.
Don't give up!  keep on letting them know how dissatisfied you are with this change.
 
Time now for book talk!  Our Amazon book picks of the week.
 

Contemporary Research in E-marketing

by Sandeep Krishnamurthy

I've chosen this book because I feel that one can never have too much info on how to go about the mountainous process of e marketing.  E marketing is here to stay and so readers of this book have a great chance to learn some very exciting concepts.

 

A Kids' Guide to Helping Others Read and Succeed: How to Take Action (Service Learning for A Kids)

by Cathryn Berger Kaye 

I've chosen this book because I know that parents are constantly on the lookout for books to help their kids become more self sufficient and more adaptable.  I really like this author.

 

Untapped Wealth Discovered

By Jeff N Marquis and Kerry J Harrison

Yes, I'm highlighting my own book this week because I'd like readers to know that we've written a book that contains some very important info re how to go about evaluating yourself before you take the big step towards opening your own business.

 

 

At the business desk, I'm Jeff N Marquis wishing you a pleasant weekend. 

 

Friday, November 02, 2007

A call for women to become small business owners

Greetings everyone!  I'm Jayna Sheffield at the business desk and it's time now for our feature of the week where we focus on women.
This week I'd like to introduce our resident expert and associate Donna J Jodhan to talk a wee bit about how to get motivated.  We are just so delighted to have Donna J Jodhan as part of our team as she has done and continues to do so much to motivate other women.  As a blind woman who has done it all, Donna is not prepared to quit.  She is a successful business consultant, company owner, and author.  Here now is Donna. 
Thank you Jayna for your very humbling compliments.  This week I'd like to share an article with you that I'm hoping will motivate you and light a fire under you to start thinking and acting to become your own boss.
Many people look at me as a blind woman and say that they don't know how I do it.  It's not easy but if you take a deep breath and take the plunge, you'd be surprised to see how easy things start to fall in place.  I'm hoping that this article will not only motivate women, but those who need a dose of motivation.  So, pleas read this.
 
Arizona Republic, AZ, USA
 
Blind entrepreneur nurtures honesty
 
 
It isn't easy starting up a business, let alone making it successful long term. There is money to raise, employees to hire, competitors to stave off.
 
Now imagine you are blind and you are trying to start a business. And not just any business, but a cafeteria that involves your ordering inventory, handling the payroll, paying the bills and, on top of it all, running the cash register.
 
That's what Mike Feeney does at the Desert Schools Federal Credit Union employee cafeteria at 48th and Washington streets in Phoenix.
 
He started the business more than two years ago through the Arizona Department of Economic Security's Business Enterprise Program, which helps visually impaired people set up vending businesses, mostly in state buildings.
 
"I manage and run it," said Feeney, 44, a diabetic who lost his eyesight 17 years ago.
 
"And when there is someone at the cash register, 98 percent of the time it is me."
 
The register has a voice module that tells him the total amount due on a transaction, but he has to trust the customers to tell him exactly what they are buying and the denominations of the bills they pay with.
 
"There is a huge trust factor," Feeney said.
 
"I say, 'Help me out. Count with me.' They trust me and I trust them."
 
 
http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/business/articles/0612biz-buzz0612.html
 
To learn more about Donna's company please visit www.sterlingcreations.ca.
At the business desk, I'm Jayna Sheffield wishing you a pleasant weekend.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Breaking news for language professionals

Hi everyone!  I'm Heather DeMarco at the business desk and today I'm filled with all kinds of news for translators and other language professionals. 
First, I'd like to share some news with you from an article that I found about the European Union.  Then I'll share our weekly news round-up for language professionals.
Enjoy!
 

Official Language of the European Commission
 
The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will
be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was
the other possibility.
 
As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English
spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase- in
plan that would become known as 'Euro-English'.
 
 
 
 
 

In the first year, 's' will replace the soft 'c'. Sertainly, this will
make the sivil servants jump with joy.
 
 
 
 
 

The hard 'c' will be dropped in favour of 'k'. This should klear up
konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.
 
 
 
 
 

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the
troublesome 'ph' will be replaced with 'f'. This will make words like
fotograf 20% shorter.
 
 
 
 
 

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted
to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.
 
 
 
 
 

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have
always ben a deterent to akurate speling.
 
 
 
 
 

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent 'e' in the languag
is disgrasf ul and it should go away.
 
 
 
 
 

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing 'th'
with 'z' and 'w' with 'v'.
 
 
 

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary 'o' kan be dropd from vords kontaining
'ou' and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.
 
 
 
 
 

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu
understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.
 
 
 
 
 

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze
forst plas.
 

If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.
sure sounds more like my yiddisha mama if you ask me.
Now for our news round-up of the week.
 
Evaluating a Spanish Translator Certification Program
By cornelischookang
In order to take advantage of all the opportunities brought about by an increase in Spanish speakers, those with a solid grasp of English and Spanish are taking advantage and looking for ways to become translators. ...
cornelis good time blog - http://cornelischookang.tiltblog.se
For more detail check out:
yhttp://cornelischookang.tiltblog.se/2007/10/21/evaluating-a-spanish-translator-certification-program/
 
Strong in mind and spirit
ChronicleHerald.ca - Halifax,Nova Scotia,Canada
... often through translators, as a motivational speaker during his travels. Locally, he works with the Options and Opportunities program of the Annapolis ...
For more detail check out:
http://thechronicleherald.ca/NovaScotia/973804.html
 
When Your Business Is Small You Must Appear to Be Big!
By hyacinthuberig
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 ...
the hyacinth uberig - http://hyacinthuberig.tiltblog.se
For more detail check out:
http://hyacinthuberig.tiltblog.se/2007/10/22/when-your-business-is-small-you-must-appear-to-be-big/
 
The Most Common Complaints about Translation Services
By starsdpshazell
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 ...
starsdps talks - http://ivg.pl/starsdpshazell
For more detail check out:
http://ivg.pl/starsdpshazell/2007/10/23/the-most-common-complaints-about-translation-services/
 
The Canada Council's Next 50 Years: Challenges, Opportunities ...
Government of Canada Newsroom (press release) - Ottawa,ON,Canada
... as well as $3.5 million in prizes and fellowships and $9.1 million in payments to writers, translators and illustrators under the Public Lending Right ...
For more detail check out:
http://news.gc.ca/web/view/en/index.jsp?articleid=356589&categoryid=1&category=News+Releases
 
THOROUGHBRED BEAT
Brisnet.com - USA
The Frenchman follows another Frenchman, Patrick Biancone, and the rider's French (Julien Leparoux), so there will be no need for any translators. ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.brisnet.com/cgi-bin/editorial/news/article.cgi?id=9611
 
Vacancies for 26th oct 2007
By admin
Must aim at a high standard of accuracy, consistency and faithfulness to the spirit, style and nuances of the original; observe the established terminology and usage; and ensure, as far as possible, consistency with other translators ...
Mashifta - http://mashifta.com
For more detail check out:
http://mashifta.com/?p=31
 
Challenges and Opportunities at the Canada Council...
By Magazines Canada(Magazines Canada)
Nearly $140 million was awarded in the form of grants, as well as $3.5 million in prizes and fellowships and $9.1 million in payments to writers, translators and illustrators under the Public Lending Right program, which compensates ...
The Shoestring - http://smallmagazines.blogspot.com/
For more detail check out:
http://smallmagazines.blogspot.com/2007/10/challenges-and-opportunities-at-canada.html
 
Network toons translate over borders
Variety - USA
We'd pose as their translators." Just a few years (and TV campaigns) later, London-based Jones says the success of Tokyoplastic "has been completely viral. ...
For more detail check out:
 http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117974751.html?categoryId=2817&cs=1
 
Clem Sunter: chairman, Anglo American Chairman's Fund
Moneyweb - Johannesburg,South Africa
It would be interesting to see some translators in the boardroom, in boardroom discussions - but how far away are the cultures of China with those of South ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.moneyweb.co.za/mw/view/mw/en/page55?oid=167884&sn=Detail
 
I'll end my blog by giving you some important news for those of you wishing to improve and enhance your global presence.
 
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 great day.
 

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