by Amy Mason
From the Editor: Amy Mason works in the International Braille and Technology Center and frequently writes about and evaluates technology. Here is an in-depth review of techniques used by deaf-blind people to communicate with others. The piece is long, but this is information everyone needs to understand as we reach out to all blind citizens. Here is what she says:
Author's Note: This article is based heavily upon a presentation for the 2014 CSUN Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities by my friend and colleague Scott Davert and me. Scott is a deaf-blind technology teacher and an expert in the field. I wish to thank Scott for all of the information he shared, making that presentation and this article possible. His personal experiences with the technology in question and vast knowledge of the area of deaf-blind communications in general made both this article and the presentation far stronger than they otherwise would have been based only on my own research.
Deaf-blind communication can be a tricky topic to tackle, since there are a number of solutions which meet different needs for deaf-blind users. Some tools are intended for face-to-face communication, while others are meant for communication at a distance. Certain tools that will work for some users will be woefully inadequate for others. Deaf-blindness, like deafness or blindness alone, is measured on a spectrum. A person may be totally deaf, totally blind, low vision, hard of hearing, or any combination of these four states. Additionally, some deaf-blind individuals will have been deaf first and be familiar with alternative techniques which focus on vision, while others may have been blind first and are therefore more comfortable with solutions that rely on hearing. Deaf-blind people may also have other advantages or disadvantages that must be considered when choosing a solution, such as poor reading skills or a higher level of tech savviness. Therefore, the spectrum of needs which must be met by solutions for deaf-blind communication are quite broad.
In this article we will focus on technology-based solutions to deaf-blind communications which are specifically designed to facilitate face-to-face communications: their costs, potential benefits, and detriments. Other major methods of communication will be briefly touched upon in order to provide a clear picture of the landscape of deaf-blind communications at this time.
It is important to understand that a wide range and variety of tools for amplification and focusing of audio, such as hearing aids, loupes, and FM transmitter systems are available. However, the Access Technology Team is not sufficiently familiar with such devices to speak about them in detail. In the same vein magnification may be used to great effect by deaf-blind people with some residual vision, but these topics will not be discussed in detail except where they intersect with tools specifically intended to meet the communication needs of those who are deaf-blind or as ancillary add-ons to other services that are being used by this population already.
When considering any technological solution to a problem, it is always important to remember that nontechnical solutions also exist and that in some situations these solutions can be the best tools for the job. In the case of deaf-blind communication, the low-tech/no-tech tools on the table are communication cards and Support Service Providers. Since this article deals primarily with technical solutions, these options will be only briefly discussed.
A communication card is a simple Braille/print or large print card, usually laminated, which asks a specific question or requests assistance concerning a specific item or task. For instance, to get help in crossing a street, a user might lift a card which reads, "I am deaf-blind and need assistance to cross this street. If you can help, please tap me on the shoulder." Other cards might include the user's preferences for ordering coffee or determining on which track a train will be arriving. Simple question/answer pairs can be handled by sliding paper clips under the appropriate answer. Communication books are a collection of these cards that can be used by a deaf-blind user to meet common needs.
Communication cards are fairly inexpensive to create or purchase. They often meet the need of the user far more quickly and simply than more complex solutions, and, if damaged or lost, they can be easily and inexpensively replaced. However, they are limited by their linear nature. A user cannot carry on a long, complex, or detailed conversation or transaction with a communication card or booklet. However, for simple, often repeated tasks, they provide a fast and generally effective way for a user to get his or her needs across.
Support Service Providers (SSPs) are professionals who have been trained in skills such as tactile sign, close up visual sign, and other communication strategies. They work with deaf-blind people to gather visual and auditory information from the environment and often act as sighted guides. These people may—depending on the preferences, skills, and abilities of the deaf-blind person—provide close visual sign or tactile sign interpretation services, type messages to the user using another technological tool, or speak into an FM system or another amplification device. The advantages to this solution are that the deaf-blind person has a great deal of flexibility in receiving information about the environment from working with the SSP, and trained SSPs are capable of assisting with very complex or lengthy transactions. The major difficulties with this system include the fact that SSPs can be difficult to locate and expensive to hire. Furthermore, SSP assistance may not be desired for dealing with matters of a sensitive or personal nature.
Many deaf-blind people use computers to meet longer-distance communication needs. Some of the services regularly used include different IM [instant messaging] clients, SMS text messaging, Skype (for text chat or video in the case of low-vision users) or other video and text chatting services, and email with their preferred screen-access software, Braille display, or magnification package. The use of full-sized computers for face-to-face communications is somewhat limited, however.
The one notable exception to the above statement is the Interpretype DBCS 2.0 package sold by Freedom Scientific and Interpretype. This package consists of a pair of laptop computers, a carrying case, a Focus 40 Blue Braille display, JAWS (installed on one computer), and the Interpretype software. These computers come already paired and set up to talk to one another, according to the documentation, though this has not been verified by the Access Technology Team. One machine is already loaded with JAWS and paired with the Focus. The two machines connect using a special USB cable, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi, and they can be used for face-to-face communications. Furthermore, the Wi-Fi connection can be used to connect up to one hundred unique clients with the Interpretype software installed, according to the Interpretype website.
The Interpretype system is quite powerful since it is based on a full Windows system; however, in order to use the package for face-to-face communications, the deaf-blind user must carry around a pair of computers and a Braille display. For anything but the longest sessions of face-to-face conversation, this seems like a lot of trouble, setup, and wait time for minimal payoff in comparison to other options on the market. Furthermore, nowhere in its promotional materials was there any mention of the specifications of the computers, other than to say that they are "full-featured." This solution may be beneficial if it is intended for semi-permanent placement, such as in an office or educational setting, but for portability it seems a very poor choice due to the need to carry so much equipment, wait for both machines to boot, and have a large enough area to set up and hold a conversation. Furthermore, since only one of the devices contains screen-access software, a deaf-blind owner of the system would have to go through the additional step of adding such software to the second machine in order to maintain her own equipment. The software can be purchased separately and added to a user's existing computer system if preferred. Pricing for Interpretype fluctuates depending on the options required by the user. Contact Interpretype for more information, including pricing.
Some deaf-blind users already own or would benefit from having access to an electronic Braille notetaker. These devices replicate the basic functionality of a personal data assistant (PDA) by providing functions such as a calendar, an address book, a calculator, basic note taking, and book reading. They may also offer instant messaging, email, basic web browsing, and other online services. Many of these devices can also be upgraded to offer GPS navigation. Because these devices are highly portable; can function as Braille displays for computers, phones, and tablets; and are often carried regularly by their users, they make ideal candidates for face-to-face applications.
FaceToFace PC Communicator is a software package installed on the user's PAC Mate and a Bluetooth enabled computer. The package allows the user to connect a PAC Mate to the computer using the included compact flash Bluetooth module. In the case of the PAC Mate and a computer, the computer is designated as a "server" and the PAC Mate is designated the "client." Once this is set up, the PAC Mate user is able to send messages between the PAC Mate and the computer. Two users with PAC Mates can also use this software to talk. When two PAC Mates are paired, one device needs to be set as the server, the other as the client, and the communication proceeds as above. This software allows the user to save conversations for later review. Furthermore, a user can create preset messages in order to send frequently used questions or statements easily and quickly.
Unless a user already owns a Mate and does not intend to upgrade soon, there are no compelling reasons to recommend this product. The PAC Mate is an older technology, missing many of the portability and hardware benefits of newer tools, and any system based upon it is going to be equally outdated. Due to the need for pre-installation of the FaceToFace software on the PC, a deaf-blind user would have to carry around not only the PAC Mate, but also a laptop for any impromptu communication sessions and would be limited to many of the space and time constraints that plague the use of the Interpretype. If, however, a user already owns a PAC Mate and wishes to add this functionality to it, the FaceToFace PC Communicator package can be obtained from Freedom Scientific for $495.
The Deaf-Blind Communicator (DBC) is a package built by HumanWare intended to offer a simple solution to the need for portable face-to-face communications. It consists of two pieces of hardware: an older Windows Mobile 6 cell phone with a full QWERTY keyboard and a BrailleNote mPower. These two devices are set up to communicate with one another over Bluetooth. When the phone is first turned on, it immediately boots into the communications software and offers a greeting message that explains that the owner of the system is deaf-blind. It then asks the recipient to take the cell phone and use it to communicate with him or her. The deaf-blind user reads messages on the mPower's Braille display and can reply to the sighted user by typing on the notetaker's keyboard (both Perkins and QWERTY are available), while the sighted participant uses the screen and keyboard of the cell phone to read and write messages to the deaf-blind person.
Either the notetaker can be left in Deaf-blind Communicator mode, which offers only the basic deaf-blind communication tools of the face-to-face application (SMS and TTY) functionality, or it can be set to a more advanced user mode, which allows the user to take advantage of the full range of software available to users of the BrailleNote, such as basic Internet browsing, email, notetaking, book reading, and personal management functions. This allows it to be very simple or more robust depending on the needs of the user.
Once again the DBC is unfortunately based heavily on outdated technology. With the exception of the DBC, a user can no longer purchase a BrailleNote mPower from HumanWare, and Windows Mobile 6 has not been relevant or widely available for several years. Since this system offers a truly portable design and a simple setup compared with many of the other tools on this list, it would be an excellent choice for users if the technology were not already so outdated. As time goes on, these devices will become harder and harder to maintain, repair, or replace, so those buying one now would be doing themselves a great disservice. This is expensive technology, and, if it cannot be expected to work and be maintained for at least the next several years, it is not a good solution. For more information or to purchase the Deaf-Blind Communicator, contact HumanWare. A system with eighteen Braille cells retails for $6,379, and one with thirty-two cells of Braille is $8,239.
HIMS, like HumanWare and Freedom Scientific, has also begun to offer its deaf-blind communications solutions. They are based upon the Braille Sense line of notetakers. However, unlike its competition, HIMS has chosen to offer the basic notetaker with a couple of relatively inexpensive add-ons and no specialty software.
The Braille Sense U2 and U2 Mini are the most recent Braille notetakers to come out of HIMS and are equipped with all of the software that a user would come to expect from a recent notetaker, but they also have some unique features that make them compelling options for deaf-blind users. First, each of these devices is equipped with a vibration motor in order to provide tactile feedback, which can replace system sounds for all important notifications on the device. Second, the Braille Sense with a thirty-two-cell display and Perkins-style keyboard includes a small, one-line LCD, which can be flipped to face away from the user, thus allowing a sighted user to view what is being written on the notetaker. The other devices in the line, as well as this device, can also be connected to a small USB-powered LCD visual display in order to offer the same functionality. Thus, with the addition of a Bluetooth or USB QWERTY keyboard, two users—one deaf-blind and reading the Braille display, the other sighted and using the LCD, or blind and using audio, or sighted and deaf—can take turns typing back and forth in the word processor of the Braille Sense in order to conduct face-to-face communication.
Like every other solution in this article, this solution has advantages and disadvantages. The greatest advantage is portability. The entire system consists of one Braille notetaker, a small QWERTY keyboard (which can be purchased from HIMS or other retailers as suits the individual), and a visual display that is about the size of a Snicker's candy bar. Reliability and relative ease of setup are also major advantages, since users are able to connect everything with wires if they so choose. Avoiding the fight with Bluetooth connectivity may suit some users very well and can speed initial setup of the conversation.
Unfortunately the very small screen of the notetaker and the close proximity of the built-in LCD screen on the Perkins style U2 can make reading the conversation less comfortable for the sighted participant. The fact that both users are navigating and manipulating the same document to review and read new content may also pose challenges until they get used to one another and find a method for sharing the visuals (in this case this includes Braille) since each will see only a single line of text at any given time.
All in all, this is a fairly simple solution to the problem of face-to-face communications and may suit some users very well. If it sounds like a good option, a user can contact HIMS Inc. to discuss different packages. Prices are as follows: 32-cell Braille Sense U2 with Perkins Keyboard, including a USB keyboard: $5,685; including a Bluetooth keyboard: $5,740; 32-cell Braille Sense U2 with QWERTY keyboard, including a USB LCD display and USB keyboard: $5,789; with Bluetooth keyboard: $5,844; 18-cell Braille Sense U2 Mini, including a USB LCD display and Bluetooth keyboard: $4,244. The LCD screen can be purchased by itself for users who already own a compatible HIMS notetaker for $99.
Apple's iOS devices are extremely powerful tools for users who are blind and deaf-blind. With VoiceOver screen-access software, Zoom magnifier, and support for Bluetooth Braille displays built into the platform, it has been widely adopted in education, professional, and personal environments. Due to the flexibility of the operating system, the size and portability of the devices, and the robust accessibility features, many apps in countless categories have been made accessible to deaf-blind users, including a number for both long distance and face-to-face communications.
On iOS, like the PC, many users will find benefit in a number of mainstream tools for communicating over long distances. These include texting applications, email, instant messaging software, and video-conferencing tools like FaceTime and Skype. Deaf-blind users also have a few unique options for face-to-face communications. Furthermore, outside the realm of interpersonal communications, deaf-blind users will also find many accessible apps for reading books, keeping up on news, social networking, entertainment, health, and productivity.
iOS is available on iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, and each of these may have advantages for certain users. Deaf-blind users with some usable vision may find that the larger screen of the iPad allows them to accomplish more visually than the smaller screens of the iPhone and iPod Touch. The iPod Touch is less expensive than other devices and may be a good choice for a device that is being shared regularly with strangers; and the iPhone, beyond telephone services, also offers GPS, mobile data, and vibration.
These advantages having been stated, it is important also to consider some of the disadvantages in using iOS as the user's primary platform for face-to-face and other communications, not necessarily to dissuade the user from iOS, but simply to ensure that he or she is aware of what to expect when using the device.
Trouble with Braille displays with iOS devices can pose significant frustration for deaf-blind communications. Because a user needs to use Bluetooth to connect the device, he or she may require assistance to pair or reconnect the Braille display with the iOS device initially. If a user cannot hear VoiceOver, there is no way to complete this task independently or repair a connection if something goes wrong. Second, typing Braille in iOS is subject to some challenging quirks. To illustrate: if a user is not a fast Braillist and has contractions turned on, he may find that iOS will automatically translate the word he is writing, whether or not it is complete. If the word to be written is "frustrate" and it takes some time for the deaf-blind person to enter the letter “u” following the “r”, the word will appear as “friendustrating.” Furthermore, if he attempts to fix a typo and does not place a letter sign in front of the character he adds to the end of a word, that character will be translated as though it was typed by itself. So, if a user types "hikd," erases the d, and forgets to enter a letter sign prior to typing an e to make the word "hike," he will find that the word is translated in iOS as "hikevery."
Another concern for users of iOS devices as face-to-face tools is that i-devices are quite small, mobile, and expensive. Unfortunately, iPads and iPhones are quite popular with thieves, and the deaf-blind user may be understandably disinclined to hand an expensive device to a stranger. This can be partially mitigated by using a case which keeps the iOS device on a retractable leash or tether. An example of one such product is the T-Reign ProLink Smartphone case, available on Amazon. This is not an endorsement of the specific case, but merely a suggestion to mitigate some of the concern of using an iOS device for face-to-face communications. Unfortunately, a foolproof method for protecting one's device does not exist, and this suggestion is simply one solution to such conundrums.
A third disadvantage to using an iOS device as a communications tool is that it may be more involved than a user needs or desires. For some users iOS may be overwhelmingly complex, and, although many users with practice come to appreciate the flexibility that is possible using these systems, it is important to point out that it will not be the right solution for everyone. Despite these concerns and those inherent in the options listed below, many deaf-blind users will find an iOS device an excellent tool for communications as well as access to information and other services.
Many users may find that all they need for impromptu face-to-face communications is their iOS device and a paired Bluetooth Braille display. The basic setup involves deaf-blind users' ensuring that the print keyboard is available on screen (or pairing a Bluetooth keyboard) at the same time that their Braille device is paired, opening a file in an application like Notes or another suitable writing program, typing a welcome message to the person they wish to communicate with, and handing that person the iOS device.
The primary advantage to this option is that, after a user has done some initial setup on the device, it is quite simple to implement and requires no training or purchases beyond the iOS device and Braille display that the deaf-blind person already owns. It is extremely portable and fairly easy to set up on the go. Furthermore, it can be used to facilitate communications with either blind or sighted people with little if any change to the setup. Finally, the user has a full record of the conversation saved in the device after its completion.
Unfortunately some limitations to this approach must be considered above and beyond those inherent in using the iOS platform for face-to-face communications. First, users may have difficulty explaining to the people they are communicating with how to type on an iOS device which has VoiceOver enabled. Because VoiceOver changes the way that gestures are interpreted, a sighted user who is unfamiliar may be unsure about how to proceed when using the phone while VoiceOver is enabled. One method that partially mitigates this concern came about with the advent of iOS 7. Initially a user could set the keyboard to a mode called "Touch Typing," which would allow a user to place a finger on the screen, and, when he or she lifted, it, the letter would be typed. The problem was that, until iOS 7, "Touch Typing" had a noticeable delay, which would cause quickly typed keystrokes to be rejected by the device. Although other parts of the phone will still be difficult to navigate for those unfamiliar with VoiceOver, the sighted person reading the display will now find it much easier to type on the screen. A second option which may suit some users is to offer the person they wish to communicate with a Bluetooth keyboard. This means the user has to carry one more piece of technology and ensure that it is ready to use, but it also makes many of the people the user wishes to communicate with more comfortable, especially if they are not tech savvy or if the conversation is expected to be long.
If a user chooses to build his or her own solution in this way, he or she may find some other tools beneficial. For instance, one can use iOS's built-in text shortcuts to create one’s own macros and preset commonly used phrases. To do this, the user can go to Settings, General, Keyboard, Add New Shortcut and follow the prompts to add the text he wishes to use, as well as the shortcut for implementing it. Second, some users have reported that the "Notes" app provided by Apple can become sluggish when used for longer conversations and recommend experimenting with other applications to find one that works better for lengthier documents. One that has been positively reviewed is AFB's AccessNote, which can be purchased for $19.99 in the app store and offers extra keyboard and Braille display shortcuts to improve note taking for blind iOS users.
HIMS Chat is a face-to-face communications solution offered by HIMS. It can be downloaded free in the iOS app store and is intended to be used with the HIMS Braille Sense or Braille Edge. Despite the fact that it is intended to work with the HIMS devices, it will also work with any other Braille display that the user owns.
HIMS Chat's main menu consists of several buttons: New Conversation, Greeting, Macros, Saved Chats, and Documentation. In Greeting, a user can set the message he or she wishes to use to open a conversation with the sighted user. It defaults to a basic message which explains that the user is deaf-blind and can communicate using the iOS device. The Macros tab also allows users to create a number of preset messages. Conversations can be saved, and the app seems like it would be a fairly good solution.
Unfortunately the HIMS app has one major flaw; it simply does not work reliably. In testing the app, we found that it would often lose focus and would leave the user somewhere other than the editing area. This meant that it was not always possible for the user texting with a Braille display to get a message typed. Macros also did not appear to work when tested. At times the Braille display would not match what was being spoken by VoiceOver, and it simply did not work as intended. Most frustratingly, the bones of a good face-to-face application are there, with support for lots of macros, an optional conversation history, easy-to-start operation, and a fairly straightforward interface. If HIMS were to iron out the bugs in the application, it would be an excellent tool, but, as it stands now, it's not worth the download.
The HumanWare Communicator is a face-to-face solution sold by HumanWare. Like HIMS Chat, it offers a programmable greeting and macros. When a deaf-blind user wishes to start a conversation, he or she can activate the New Conversation button. Once this is activated, the user feels the phone vibrate. At the same time it will be producing an audible ringing noise to attract the attention of the person to whom the deaf-blind user is handing the device. Once that person has touched a finger to the Okay button on the bottom of the screen, the communications window pops up. The deaf-blind user can then enter the message he or she wishes to communicate, using the Braille display, and the sighted user will see it appear on screen. Once the deaf-blind user has asked his or her question, the sighted user will be instructed to place a finger inside the text box to begin typing a reply. The keyboard will come up on-screen, and the sighted user is then able to type normally. Conversations can be saved for later perusal, and the app includes decent documentation.
HumanWare Communicator is relatively simple to set up; it offers large, eye-grabbing text for the opening message and tactile and audible indications that the deaf-blind user is attempting to begin a conversation. It has full support for up to one hundred macros (designated "me-00" through "me-99"). As such, it is a relatively powerful solution, with some nice features, which will be of benefit to many users.
It does have a few drawbacks to be aware of, however. First, although VoiceOver can read the characters on the on-screen keyboard, it is clearly meant to be used by a sighted correspondent, and using the application with a blind user who is sharing VoiceOver causes the app to misbehave rather badly, including missing input, unintentionally moving focus for the deaf-blind user, and toggling the on-screen keyboard unexpectedly.
Second, a bug introduced in iOS 7 causes the on-screen keyboard to pop up regularly when a blind user is using a Braille display. Since the keyboard covers the text area the blind user is typing in, one may find that he or she is not always able to read the text he or she is inputting or may find that the focus has shifted to the keyboard instead of moving to the Send button when attempting to navigate to it. This bug has been dealt with in iOS 7.1 and 7.1.1, but, for users who have not yet updated, it may be a concern.
The HumanWare Communicator can be purchased as a standalone app in the Apple app store or can be bundled with a package containing either a BrailleNote Apex or a Brailliant BI Braille display and an iPhone 5 or iPod Touch. Prices are as follows: HumanWare Communicator App only: $99; BrailleNote Apex (32 Braille Cells) Communicator package with an iPhone 5: $6,395; with an iPod Touch: $5,995; BrailleNote Apex (18 Braille Cells) with iPhone 5: $4,795; with iPod Touch: $4,395; Brailliant (40 Braille Cells) with iPhone 5: $3,895; with iPod Touch: $3,495; Brailliant (32 Braille Cells) with iPhone 5: $3,495; with iPod Touch: $3,095.
Android is a particularly difficult platform to discuss, because no deaf-blind communication solutions at present are marketed specifically for it. Furthermore, BrailleBack, the Android Braille driver, is badly hampered and not robust enough to be used by people who would rely on it solely or primarily for interacting with the device. For the majority of deaf-blind users (at least those reliant on Braille), it is wisest to steer far clear of Android at this time. That said, there are some things about Android that might make it an appropriate option to consider for users with very specific needs.
Some deaf-blind people with enough vision to navigate a smartphone and few to no Braille skills might prefer an Android phone due to their ability to choose high-contrast or larger print launchers and make other customizations that are not possible on iOS devices. One such launcher is the "BIG Launcher," available for $10 from the Google Play Store. For more information on BIG Launcher, visit <http://biglauncher.com/>.
Looking again at the customization of Android as its primary advantage over iOS, a deaf-blind user might find that Mobile Accessibility from Code Factory on an Android device is a simpler solution than dealing with the full interface of either stock Android or iOS devices. With quite decent Braille support in its own apps, Mobile Accessibility might be a smartphone solution that would be less intimidating for users who are fluent in Braille, but not as technically fluent. Mobile Accessibility contains phone, SMS, "Where Am I," simple GPS information, web browsing, email, calendar, alarms, settings, and access to other applications installed on the device. Mobile Accessibility's Braille support is fairly easy to use and very consistent, however, it does not work outside the suite of bundled applications, so a deaf-blind user considering this solution is essentially restricted to these applications only.
Mobile Accessibility is sold by Code Factory and can be purchased from the Google Play store for $99. Some carriers subsidize the price of this application, so it is worth the user checking to see if their carrier is one that does. For more information on Mobile Accessibility visit <http://www.codefactory.es/en/products.asp?id=415>.
The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program is a pilot created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in order to meet the requirements of the Twenty-First Century Video and Communications Accessibility Act by ensuring that deaf-blind people have access to the Internet and other communications technology. The program provides up to $10 million a year to provide low-income deaf-blind people with access to hardware, software, and training solutions to ensure their ability to communicate. Many of the devices in this article, as well as others that may be of use, will be available to participants in the program. The pilot will be run through 2015, at which point a more permanent solution is expected to be implemented. The NDBP is managed by different entities in each state. More information, including the names of agencies managing the program, can be found at <www.iCanConnect.org>.
The solutions for deaf-blind communications in this article offer a number of different approaches to the fundamental question of deaf-blind communication. Which is right will need to be determined by each user. It is expected that a mixture of different solutions will best meet most users' needs. For many tasks a simple communication card might work; for others something more freeform, like many of the computer, iOS, and notetaker-based face-to-face packages, will suit, and for some the best solution may be working with an SSP. As with most alternative techniques, some experimentation on the part of the user will be the best way to determine a solution or set of solutions that will work.
Please feel free to contact the Access Technology Team of the National Federation of the Blind using the Technology Answer Line (410) 659-9314, extension 5, or email us at <[email protected]> if you have any further questions about the technologies discussed in this article or any other access technology solution for the blind.
Freedom Scientific, Blind/Low Vision Group; 11800 31st Court North, St. Petersburg, FL 33716-1805; Phone: (727) 803-8000; Toll-Free (800) 444-4443; Fax: (727) 803-8001; Tech support for all products: (727) 803-8600; Email: use Web form; Website: <http://www.freedomscientific.com>
HIMS, Inc.; 4616 W. Howard Lane, Suite 960, Austin, TX 78728; Toll-Free Phone: (888) 520-4467; Technical Support: (512) 837-2000; Fax: (512) 837-2000; Email: <[email protected]>; [email protected]; Website: <http://www.hims-inc.com>
Interpretype; 3301 Brighton-Henrietta Town Line Road, Suite 200, Rochester, New York 14623; Toll-Free: (877) 345-3182; Phone: (585) 272-1155; Fax/TTY: (585) 272-1434; Email: <[email protected]>; Website: <www.interpretype.com>
National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program; Phone (800) 825-4595; TTY (888) 320-2656; Email: use Web form; Website: <www.iCanConnect.org>