Braille Monitor November 1986
Bill Grimm (who is blind and who is President and founder of Computer Aids Corporation of Fort Wayne, Indiana) issued a press release dated July 15, 1986. Computer Aids Corporation issued a press release dated August 27, 1986. Both of these releases deal with computer technology which may be of use to the blind. The Monitor expresses no opinion concerning the technology which is described, but we thought it would be of interest to those readers who are knowledgeable about computers and computer technology. Here in their entirety are the two releases:
New Spreadsheet Software for the Blind
Uses Voice Output
Fort Wayne. Bill Grimm recently released a spreadsheet program designed to work with popular voice synthesizers. Known as "Rapsheet," the program is being made available as "shareware." Versions have been written for both the Apple and the IBM PC.
Grimm is President and founder of Computer Aids Corporation, a Fort Wayne, Indiana, based company that specializes in computer products for the blind and visually impaired. But Rapsheet is not a product of the company. Grimm explains, "I wrote this program for my own needs really, but I decided that it was good enough perhaps to be of value to others. It's a very simple program; certainly not Lotus 1-2-3, but it is functional, and if nothing else, it should be a good learning experience for those interested in getting involved with spreadsheets." Rapsheet can be passed around freely. The distribution disk contains a complete User's Manual, in addition to the actual software. Also, several financial models are given on the disk as examples. When you send a $35 donation directly to Grimm, he will send you the latest copy of the program, a print copy of the User's Manual, and a ninety-minute audiocassette tutorial. "In the tutorial I've tried briefly to touch on spreadsheet concepts and show how they are applied through the design of actual models," says Grimm. "The tape is especially important for those just getting started with spreadsheets."
Rapsheet can hold up to 132 labels, constants, and formulas with its six column by twenty-two-row matrix. Operations include addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, summation, and exponentiation. Models once created can be edited, printed, saved on disk, and later reloaded. Special voice features allow cell contents to be reviewed, individual rows to be reviewed, and columns to be read vertically. Rapsheet is constructed to work with popular voice synthesizers and screen-reader programs. This includes the TexTalker program from Street Electronics with either their Echo II Plus or the Cricket. On a PC, Rapsheet works with Screen-Talk and the PC Talking Program combined with virtually any popular synthesizer. The Apple version requires an eighty-column Apple IIe or Apple IIc.
Rapsheet can be obtained by contacting BAUD, a nationwide user's group for talking computer users. For duplication and mailing charges, $5 should be included with your order, and you must specify either the Apple or th IBM version. The addres s is: BAUD, 1158 Steward Avenue, Bethpage, New York 11714; (516)433-0171.
If you wish to make the $35 donation and receive the tape tutorial, send a check directly to Grimm along with a note specifying Apple or IBM. The address is: Bill Grimm, Post Office Box 10367, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46852.
New Solutions for PC Access
By the Visually Impaired
Fort Wayne, Indiana, August 27, 1986. Computer Aids Corporation announced the latest generation of screen-reading software for the IBM PC and compatible computers. Screen-Talk Pro includes a powerful macro capability that offers a solution to the problem of applications programs that write directly to the computer's video circuitry. Now programs such as Lotus 1-2-3, Word Perfect, DBase, Turbo-Lightning, and others can be set up with Screen-Talk Pro to provide a completely voice interactive environment for visually impaired users through the use of Screen-Talk Pro and an attached voice synthesizer. Keith O'Neil, National Marketing Director of Computer Aids, explains: "Intercepting screen output at the DOS level isn't enough anymore. Too many popular programs bypass the DOS screen service routines, and thereby the software hook that would attempt to share this output with the voice synthesizer." O'Neil goes on, "With Screen-Talk Pro a completely interactive environment can be established by adding those desired voice responses to the applications program's existing command set."
At a recent demonstration Bill Grimm, President of Computer Aids, illustrated this concept using Screen-Talk Pro with Lotus 1-2-3. Grimm said, "With Lotus the F5 key is used to move the cell pointer directly to any cell on the worksheet. When F5 is pressed, a prompt appears on line 2 of the screen asking for the address of the desired cell. What we can do is extend the function of F5 into a macro that will first give Lotus the F5 command, and then the Screen-Talk Pro command for reading the desired line on the screen." Grimm concludes, "The net effect is that by going through an application program and adding voice responses to the command set of the application we can simulate a totally voice-interactive environment."
In addition to this new facility for dealing with otherwise silent applications programs, Screen-Talk Pro has many other new capabilities. First, for the macro processing, Screen-Talk Pro comes bundled with ProKey, the popular macro processor from Rosesoft. Other new features include the ability to recognize all monochrome and color video attributes, a "find" command for locating video attributes, and other strings of characters on the screen (either forward or backward from the cursor), and a special pre-boot procedure for working with the non-DOS disks such as the InfoCom series of adventure games. Text can be reviewed by word, letter, screen, or up to 10 windows may be created to customize the review.
Screen-Talk Pro runs on an IBM PC and most compatible computers with at least 128K of RAM memory, and one 5-1/4 inch disk drive. Most popular voice synthesizers are supported, including Echo, Votrax, and DecTalk.
Computer Aids adds Screen-Talk Pro to an already well established line of computer-based products for the visually impaired community. The list includes Small-Talk, the talking lap computer; Word-Talk, for word processing; Braille Talk, for translating ASCII text into fully contracted Braille for embossing; and File-Talk, a new talking database manager for the Apple. Most of Computer Aids software products are available for both IBM and Apple computers.
Screen-Talk Pro is available for $395. For complete information call toll-free: 1-800-647-8255 or write: Computer Aids Corporation, 124 West Washington, Lower Arcade Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802.