Technology Resource List
Table of Contents
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation's largest and oldest organization of the blind, brings this Technology Resource List to you. Through our International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind (IBTC), we are constantly gathering information about Braille, speech and other blindness technology. This list is our way of sharing some of that information. It is advisable to purchase extended warranties and/or maintenance agreements for this specialized equipment. Most products are returned to a repair facility or the original manufacturer for repair. When it becomes necessary to service the large Braille embossers, a repair technician may need to come to your site. These repairs can be very costly, making the cost of extended warranties and maintenance agreements a good investment.
We have made every effort to list products and services that are accessible and usable by the blind.
Disclaimer: Note that prices listed are subject to change. Please contact the manufacturer or dealer for the latest pricing information.
We plan to update our website version of this Technology Resource List from time to time as new information becomes available. The print and Braille editions will be updated annually. Check out our web version for the latest information. We should say a few words about our International Braille and Technology Center (IBTC) for the Blind. The IBTC was established by the NFB in 1990 as a demonstration center for computer technology used by the blind in the United States. It provides free tours, hands-on demonstrations, and comparisons, evaluations, and consultations by telephone, letter, and electronic mail. You can contact the IBTC by using the information shown on the cover page of this Technology Resource List. Please contact us for an appointment. We welcome all visitors during regular office hours.
As a general resource on blindness, we encourage you to peruse the website of the NFB: http://www.nfb.org. This site’s depth and breadth of information has been of tremendous value to blind people throughout the world.The NFB also offers other resources via the internet. Simply point your browser to http://www.nfbnet.org and avail yourself of the rich variety of mailing lists, files, and other services available.
Braille notetakers are mobile information management systems. These devices use either a Braille or QWERTY keyboard for input and voice and/or refreshable Braille for output. Notetakers can be connected to other storage media such as compact flash cards, USB memory sticks, and SD (secure digital) cards to expand onboard memory storage capacity. They can be connected to desktop or laptop computers so that information can be transferred between devices.
BrailleNote Apex: Building on the success of previous BrailleNote products, the Apex slims down its form factor, while still packing in many features for mobile productivity. The BrailleNote Apex comes with a 32- or 18-cell Braille display and either a QWERTY or 8-dot Braille keyboard. The Apex is powered by the KeySoft operating system, and its application suite will provide a word processor, calendar, address list, book reader, media player, web browser, email client, database manager, scientific calculator, and more. The device features 8 GB of internal memory, 3 USB host ports (for connecting to other devices including USB flash drives), a USB client port (for connection and data transfer between a PC), built-in wireless networking (802.11B/G), Bluetooth, 10/100 Ethernet port, and a Secure Digital storage card slot; the unit also has a user-replaceable battery. Apex can be configured as a speech synthesizer or Braille display to support a screen access product on a computer. It can also be used as a Braille display for iOS devices. Optional add-ons are available including GPS solutions, a dictionary, and Nemeth Tutor. The Apex supports reading PDF files, and can open and read PowerPoint files. HumanWare. Price (Braille and QWERTY keyboards): 18-cell, $3,895; 32-cell $5,495.
Braille Plus 18: The Braille Plus 18 is based on the Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) operating system. This product was developed by APH in partnership with LevelStar, LLC. The features include: 18 cell Braille display with cursor routing keys, speech output, a 5 megapixel (MP) camera with flash, optical character recognition (OCR) software, GPS navigation, stereo recording and playback, document creation and note taking, calendar, clock, SD card slot, USB port, 3G wireless, Wi-Fi 8.11n, Bluetooth 2.1, text messaging, phone, speakerphone, TV output, and the playing of books and music. The book player supports Word, plain text, HTML, DAISY, and is compatible with Bookshare, Learning Ally, and NLS Digital Talking Books. The word processor can create, edit, and read documents in multiple formats and translate them to Braille. The email is compatible with POP3 and IMAP. The audio player is compatible with MP3, WAV, and OGG. American Printing House for the Blind. Price: $3,599.
Braille Sense: This line of notetakers is based on Windows CE technology. There are multiple models of this notetaker available. Software on all devices in this line includes file management, a word processor, a scheduler, email, a media player, digital audio recording, an internet browser, a DAISY player, and a scientific calculator. Furthermore, these devices can be used as Braille displays for computers or iOS devices. Optional multi-lingual dictionaries and GPS software are also available. The U2 is the newest and most powerful product in the line. It is offered with either a Perkins or QWERTY keyboard, 32 cells of Braille, 32 GB of internal storage, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 802.11B/G/N, 3 USB ports, a SDXC card slot, and internal GPS. The Perkins model also offers a small LCD screen. System events can be announced through speech, Braille, or vibration as appropriate. The Braille Sense U2 Mini has an 18-cell Braille display, Perkins keyboard, and smaller footprint than other models in this series. This device has the same internal specs as the larger U2. All models can open and read PDF, Excel, and Powerpoint files. HIMS. Price: Braille Sense U2 (Braille or QWERTY) $5,595. Braille Sense U2 Mini $3,995.
PAC Mate Omni: Two models are available as of this publication--the BX400 model with a Braille-style keyboard and QX400 with a QWERTY-style keyboard. A 20-cell or 40-cell Braille display can be purchased with either unit or added later. This Pocket PC based notetaker provides access to everyday Windows-based desktop data and the internet (if the user has an internet service provider). It uses a modified version of JAWS for pocket PC. The base unit comes with a carrying case and an AC adapter. For an additional charge, add-in modules are available, including a 56K modem, Bluetooth adaptor, or an Ethernet card modem. Office 2007 file types including Word 2007 and Excel 2007 are now supported. Users can read PowerPoint presentations, but they cannot be edited. Both the BX400 Omni and QX400 Omni are now equipped with 128 MB of internal flash so no data is lost if the battery runs flat. The battery will last over twenty hours. Freedom Scientific. Price: Models BX400 and QX400 without Braille display, $995. BX420, QX420 with removable 20-cell Braille display, $2,395; BX440, QX440 with removable 40-cell Braille display, $3,695.
Pronto: The Pronto is a line of notetakers developed by Baum with some unique features. The Pronto 40 has a 40-cell Braille display, user-interchangeable QWERTY keyboard, and Braille keyboard. The Pronto 18 has a small footprint, 18 Braille cells, and a Braille input keyboard. All of these devices include a compass and thermometer, as well as the standard notetaker features, including: notetaking/basic word processing, calendar, instant messaging (via MSN), POP3 email, internet, and DAISY reading support. The device is able to read and edit DOC, DOCX, BRL and TXT documents, and can read PDF files. Like most other modern notetakers, it also offers Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and LAN support. The 40 and the 18 can be used as an external Braille display for computers and iOS devices. Manufactured by Baum and distributed by Baum USA. Price: Pronto 40 $7,495; Pronto 18 $4,995.
VoiceNote Apex BT or VoiceNote Apex QT: Based on BrailleNote Apex technology, the VoiceNote is a speech-only notetaker. One version uses a Braille keyboard, and the other uses a computer-style keyboard. It can function as an external speech synthesizer when connected to a computer running appropriate screen access software. HumanWare. Price: Braille or QWERTY keyboard, $1,995.
Voice Sense: This notetaker is based on Windows CE technology. Hardware includes CompactFlash and Secure Digital storage slots, stereo speakers, microphone, headphone and external microphone jacks, USB 2.0 connections, wireless networking (802.11B/G), Bluetooth, and an FM radio receiver. The unit has 4 GB of internal flash storage. Software includes file management, a word processor, a scheduler, email, a media player, a digital audio recorder, an internet browser, a DAISY player, and a scientific calculator. The Voice Sense only comes with a QWERTY keyboard. The Voice Sense has a removable battery pack and does not require the return of the product for battery replacement. HIMS. Price: $1,495.
These embossers have the ability to produce Braille on small single-page documents up to large magazine- and book-style production documents. In order to produce Braille, you must have Braille translation software to convert an electronic document into Braille before the document can be embossed.
Note: Printing speeds, given as characters per second (CPS), are as reported by the manufacturers.
Note: New Enabling Technologies Company Braille embossers are equipped with USB and parallel connectors. Those who have an older model may purchase a USB-to-serial or USB-to-parallel adapter available from many electronics stores. Please consult your manufacturer before buying an adapter.
ATC Braille & Print: This print and Braille embosser uses single sheets of paper and can emboss at 100 CPS. In setup, it is otherwise almost identical to the Index Everest, so it is compact and has a Braille and print control panel. Irie-AT. Price: $5,995.
Bookmaker Braille Printer (also called Braille Bookmaker): This is a 50-pound 80 CPS interpoint Braille printer with built-in ET Speaks speech synthesizer, and a 512K-text buffer. The printer also has a multi-copy feature that enables it to output up to 99 copies of the same document. The menus are spoken, and the printer can be used as an external speech synthesizer. Enabling Technologies Company. Price: $9,995.
Braille Box: The Braille Box by Index is a fast, compact interpoint printer, running at 300 CPS or 900 pages per hour. Unlike most high capacity embossers, it uses sheet-fed paper. The tray will hold up to 400 pages at a time. The embosser has a print and Braille keypad, as well as speech feedback. The unit can be connected via serial or USB port, and is network ready. American Thermoform. Price: $14,995.
Braille Express 150: Weighing 50 pounds, the Braille Express is an interpoint Braille printer similar in design to the Braille Bookmaker. It runs at 150 CPS. The Braille Express is shipped with ET Speaks speech synthesizer included. Enabling Technologies Company. Price: $16,995.
BraillePlace: This is the fastest Braille embosser made by Enabling Technologies. Rated by the vendor at nearly 300 CPS for a 45-character line of standard Braille, this interpoint Braille embosser is designed to be a rugged, high-capacity embosser. Serial and parallel connections to the computer are supported, and speech is built in. The BraillePlace can produce Braille of varying sizes from jumbo Braille to petite, and it can print regular and high resolution Braille graphics. Enabling Technologies Company. Price: $42,995.
Braillo: Braillo interpoint printers emboss from 300 CPS to 650 CPS, depending on the model selected. Five models are available: the Braillo 300, the Braillo 600S, the Braillo 600SR, the Braillo 650 SF, and the Braillo 650SW. Models 300 and 600S are tractor-fed printers; models 600SR and 650SW print on a continuous roll of paper. The Braillo 300 embosses at 300 CPS, the Braillo 600 at 600 CPS and the 650SW embosses at 650 CPS. The Braillo 650 SF staples and folds output. Manufactured by Braillo Norway and distributed by the American Thermoform Corporation. Price: Braillo 300, $52,000; Braillo 600, $97,000; Braillo 600SR, $107,000; and Braillo 650SW, $117,000. Prices may fluctuate due to currency exchange rate.
BTec 100: The BTec 100 is a single-side, portable embosser. It embosses at 13 CPS and weighs 13 pounds. It can emboss in 6- or 8-dot Braille and embosses on cut sheet paper. The tray is capable of holding up to 20 sheets at a time, and the embosser is able to work with sheets of a size up to 11 x 11.5 inches. It offers both serial and USB connectivity and is compatible with all current versions of Duxbury, and other modern translation software. Manufactured by Blista-Brailletec. Sold in the United States by Enabling Technologies. Price: $3,995.
Cyclone: This embosser prints at 60 CPS at a maximum line length of 45 characters per line. It has the capability of producing graphics at either 12.5 or 17 dots per inch. The Cyclone weighs 21 pounds and uses tractor feed paper. Enabling Technologies. Price: $2,995.
4 Wave Professional: This production Braille embosser prints at 300 CPS. Weighing 339 pounds, this embosser uses four individual module units to emboss single- or double-sided Braille on continuous tractor-feed paper. It has Braille and print labels on the front panel, plus speech output. It connects to the PC via USB, TCP/IP, or parallel ports. Manufactured by Index Braille. Sold by the Brailler Depot. Price: $22,390.
ET Braille Printer: This interpoint embosser is rated at 60 CPS. It can print low- and high-resolution graphics, weighs 51 pounds, and has a portable desktop case. Enabling Technologies Company. Price: $3,995.
Index Basic D v4: This compact interpoint embosser uses tractor-feed paper and prints at an approximate speed of 100 CPS or 340 pages per hour. This embosser has the ability to switch between interpoint and single-sided embossing at the touch of a button. It has Braille and print labels on the front panel, plus speech output, Ethernet, USB, serial, and parallel ports. An optional desktop sound-enclosure cabinet is available for an additional cost. Manufactured by Index Braille. Sold by Irie-AT. Price: $3,150; Sound Enclosure Cabinet: $995; sound-deadening acoustic hood, $945.
Index Everest-D v4: This sturdy 28-pound desktop model is a high speed, 100 CPS, interpoint Braille embosser for normal cut-sheet paper. This embosser now handles magazine format. It has a Braille- and print-labeled front panel, speech feedback, USB, Ethernet and serial connections, and two options for cabinets to cut down on the noise of embossing Braille. Manufactured by Index Braille. Sold by Irie-AT. Price: $4,195; basic acoustic cabinet, $1,395; sound-deadening acoustic hood, $695.
Interpoint 55: Rated at 800 CPS, this interpoint high-speed embosser prints on a continuous roll of paper. It can also print sideways in magazine-style with double pages. Graphics printing is now also possible. N.V. Interpoint of Belgium. Price: Available upon request.
Juliet Classic Braille Printer: This is an interpoint embosser weighing 51 pounds in a desktop case. It is rated at 55 CPS when set for 56 characters per line (CPL) or 42 CPS when set at 42 CPL (a standard setting for Braille paper). Enabling Technologies Company. Price: $3,995.
Juliet Pro Braille Printer and Juliet Pro 60: The Juliet Pro prints at 55 CPS when using 56 CPL or 42 CPS at the standard Braille page line length of 42 CPL. The Juliet Pro 60 can print at 60 CPS when set to 40 CPL. Both printers are interpoint, weigh 51 pounds, have low- and high-resolution graphics capability, a desktop case, single-sheet or tractor-feed capability, and ET Speaks speech system (speaking printer settings as you enter them). The Juliet Pro can print on wider paper (56 CPL), whereas the Juliet Pro 60 cannot. Enabling Technologies Company. Price: both models, $4,495.
EmFuse Color Braille Station: The EmFuse is a combination print and Braille color printer. It can print on several different sizes (up to 12 x 18 inches) and thicknesses of paper, and can hold up to 2,350 sheets in its paper trays, which can be refilled during the printing process, if necessary. It produces interpoint Braille and graphics on both sides of the paper (both tactile and printed), and is rated at 400 CPS. It is capable of high-resolution tactile graphics. It has an Ethernet port to simplify networking, and comes with the Tiger Software Suite for creating documents. ViewPlus. Price: $49,995.
Phoenix: The Phoenix is a single-sided Braille and tactile graphics embosser which is capable of several common sizes of Braille, as well as high definition tactile graphics. The Phoenix uses tractor-fed paper, is capable of Braille production at 50 CPS and offers parallel and USB connections. Furthermore, it ships with the Firebird software suite (a proprietary Braille translation and tactile graphics package), although it will work with other translation packages as well. Enabling Technologies. Price: $4,995.
Romeo Attaché and Attaché Pro: Both of these small single-sided printers print at 15 CPS on 8.5 x 11 inches paper. The printers weigh less than 17 pounds, and can be carried in an optional carrying case. Three different computer connections are available: Centronics parallel, serial, and USB. The Pro version includes single-sheet tractors and the ET Speaks speech system. Enabling Technologies Company. Price: Romeo Attaché, $2,295; Attaché Pro, $2,495; optional carrying case, $94.95.
Romeo Pro 50: This is a rugged, single-sided Braille embossers that prints at 50 CPS, weighs 32 pounds, and has a hard plastic carrying case. The Romeo Pro 50 includes single-sheet tractors and the ET Speaks speech system. Enabling Technologies Company. Price: $2,995.
Romeo Pro-LE: Based on the Romeo Pro 50, this single-sided, 32-pound embosser is designed to handle the special requirements for the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped labels for the digital cartridges and mailing containers. There are two versions listed on the Enabling Technologies website, a 40-cell and a 24-cell version. It is highly recommended by the manufacturer to purchase the 40-cell version. This version handles up to 11 x 11½ inches paper size, and can be used for regular Braille production as well. Tractor-fed plastic embossables, standard Braille paper, and single sheet tractors are accommodated. Special firmware works with the Duxbury Braille Translator to produce Braille dots of various sizes to accommodate many labeling needs as well as standard Braille. Brailles up to 50 CPS, depending on the dot size selected. Operates with either USB, parallel, or serial connections to a computer. Enabling Technologies Company. Price: $3,995 for both versions.
Trident: This interpoint embosser can print double-sided Braille up to 45 characters per line. Its maximum embossing speed is 100 CPS. The Trident can emboss at either 12.5 or 17 DPI graphics. It weighs 21 pounds and works with tractor feed paper. Enabling Technologies. Price: $3,995.
The following devices are for manual Braille input entry for producing Braille onto paper.
Classic Perkins Braille Writer: This is the standard manual Braille typewriter with six keys and a space bar, plus backspace key and line space key. It has a rugged durable metal case and is designed for use over a long period of time. It takes up 15 inches of space, accommodates up to 11½ inch-wide paper, and includes margin stops and a bell to alert the user when the end of a line is reached. Three hundred thousand Braillers have been produced since their introduction in 1951. A refurbished Perkins Brailler is often a good buy. An electric model may be purchased for an additional cost. Accessories sold include a dust cover, several carrying cases, and key extensions for one-handed use. A Light Touch manual Braillewriter is a mechanical model that requires 40 percent less pressure on the keys. Perkins Products. Price: Classic model, $775; Electric/Blue Model, $995; Large Cell electric $1,050; Large Cell $795; Unimanual, $795.
Cosmo Braille Writer: The Cosmo Braille Writer is a quiet electronic Braille writer. The unit, which has a Perkins-style keyboard, can be used as a stand-alone Braille writer. It can also be used with a computer and the Duxbury Braille Translator, so that a sighted teacher or parent can follow along with the student. The Duxbury integration also means that electronic documents can be translated and embossed on the spot, and Braille can be input into Duxbury directly. The Cosmo is designed to be sturdy for classroom use. It has a spill-proof exterior and a removable, washable keyboard. Electronic Brailler LLC. Price: $2,495.
Next Generation Perkins Braille Writer: The Next Generation Perkins Brailler model uses 8½ inch-wide paper and is significantly lighter, with higher contrast keys than the Classic. Like the Classic, it has six keys and a space bar, plus backspace key and line space key. The case is hard plastic with some metal elements. Perkins Products. Price: Next Generation, $745.
Perkins Smart Brailler: Based on the Next Generation Braille Writer, this is a manual Perkins Brailler with a 4-inch “Smart” Module located above the Braille keys. This Braille Writer can be used in two ways: manually or using the “Smart” functions. The 4-inch Smart module is just above the Braille keys and operates on AC power or an internal battery. On the left side of the module are a set of four quick keys to toggle such items as the screen or speech on and off. The display can be set to display large print or simulated Braille dots as they are Brailled. Below the large print or simulated Braille on the display is a smaller-text representation of the entire line of Braille which has just been written to provide context for sighted teachers and helpers. The speech can be set to say characters, words, or lines as Braille is entered on the keyboard. The module can be tilted forward to gain access to the margins. Braille translation is provided by Duxbury Systems and the system uses the Acapela voices for synthetic speech. On the right side of the screen are six buttons including a menu button and four arrow keys surrounding a center enter key. These keys select menu options including a quick audio tour of the unit, a quick start function allowing for the immediate entry of Braille and options for setting up user accounts, changing voices, and storing or deleting files. Volume buttons are on the right side of the module, and a 1/8-inch mini headphone jack for privacy is located on the top right side of the module. Multiple user accounts can be set up with each account, each able to store individual text files. The main purpose for the Smart functions is for classroom or learning situations allowing both sighted and blind users to work together while a student learns to write Braille using the smart functions. There is a USB port for attaching thumb drives to store text files which can be sent to a printer. Files can also be printed directly from the unit when it is connected to a printer. In addition to the quick audio tour provided on the Brailler, users can obtain detailed instructions and find out what apps are available for the Braille Writer by visiting the website: www.smartBrailler.org. This Brailler was developed by Perkins Products in partnership with the American Printing House for the Blind. Perkins Products. Price: $2,195.
KGS BL-1000: This is a tabletop electronic Braille labeler that interfaces with a Windows-based computer via USB or RS-232 serial connection. The labeling tape is standard width, but you must use rolls of tape especially produced for this device. The unit ships with an extra roll of tape, an AC power adapter, and a software CD, as well as serial and USB cables. Contracted, uncontracted, and computer Braille can be produced using the label printing utility that comes on the software CD, or you can integrate the system with Duxbury Braille Translator. Manufactured by KGS Corporation. Sold in the United States by Enabling Technologies Company. Price: BL-1000, $1,995; extra roll of labeling tape, $17.
Mountbatten Brailler Pro: This device, geared towards the education market, can be used to take notes, or can function as a rudimentary Braille embosser, or as an electronic Braillewriter. Powered by a battery or by AC, the user can have optional forward and reverse translators (print to Braille or Braille to print) installed, and it can be connected to a standard computer keyboard. Users of the Perkins Brailler will find that this device generates Braille in a confusing way since it will punch each Braille dot separately. The music and Nemeth version of the device supports input in the Braille music and Nemeth codes. New devices have Bluetooth; many older units can be retrofitted with Bluetooth. The Mountbatten works with the MBMimic app for iOS. Manufactured by Quantum Technologies, distributed in the United States by HumanWare. Price: Mountbatten Writer (includes a two-year warranty), $2,750; Mountbatten Learning System – Music/Nemeth (includes a two-year warranty), $4,495.
A refreshable Braille display is a device that produces Braille dot patterns by electronically raising or lowering pins to display information displayed on a computer screen in Braille. In order to take advantage of the features of a refreshable Braille display, one must have compatible screen access software installed on a computer or mobile device. In some cases it may be necessary to download an independent driver, if no driver is packaged with the screen access software. Depending on the features of the display and the screen access software, Braille displays can be used with VoiceOver on the Mac, most Windows screen access packages, and screen access packages for some mobile devices including iOS and Android models. The compatibility described in this document is based on documentation from display and screen access package manufacturers, and is subject to change. Be sure that the screen access software you use supports the refreshable Braille display being considered. Vendors offer a number of different sizes of display. Models with 80 cells, due to their size, work best when users need to work with long lines of text. Models with 40- and 32-cell displays work well with laptops. A 40-cell display can be used to read the Braille files produced by NLS without lines wrapping. Smaller displays with 12, 14, 16 or 18 cells are intended for use with phones or other mobile devices. Braille displays contain many moving parts, consequently users should use a Braille display in a clean area with clean hands. The purchase of an extended service plan should be considered when purchasing a Braille display.
Active Braille: The Active Braille is a 40-cell Bluetooth-enabled portable Braille Display. Text information can be stored in the unit or transferred to a computer. Handy Tech Braille displays have a unique concave-shaped display, which is curved inward so that fingers rest at a slight angle for reading. Navigation buttons are located to the left and right sides of the display, and routing switches are above each cell. It also offers basic note-taking capabilities, though these are not enough to provide a complete note-taking solution. The feature that makes this display most unique is what the manufacturer calls “Active Tactile Control,” which allows the device to detect the location of the finger on the display. It will advance the display, or keep track of a reader’s speed and other reading statistics, accordingly. Compatible with Windows, Mac, and iOS. Produced by Handy Tech, sold by Triumph Technology. Price: $6,495.
ALVA BC640: This 40-cell refreshable Braille display is fairly slim from front to back. It has five thumb keys on the front of the display, a small directional pad, four further control buttons in front of the Braille display, and a pair of buttons flanking each side of the display. There are also 40 cursor routing buttons located directly below each Braille cell. The display is both Bluetooth- and USB-compatible. The Alva BC640 runs on a battery or it can draw power from the power supply included with the purchase. The BC640 is also offered with an optional Braille input keyboard for text editing and speakers for audio or speech synthesizer output called the Braille Audio Feature Pack. The Alva BC640 provides users with the ability to access applications on the computer wirelessly without using a regular QWERTY keyboard when equipped with the feature pack. Speech output from screen access software and audio from media files from the computer can be heard through the speakers on the unit itself, thus eliminating the need to have additional computer speakers. Users can perform text editing using contracted Braille via the Braille keyboard located on the unit. The display when paired with the feature pack also offers some rudimentary notetaking capabilities. Furthermore, it is possible to have the BC640 display “split” between two input devices, (one Bluetooth, the other USB) so a user could be reading information on both a computer and a smartphone, or two computers. Compatible with Mac, Windows, and iOS. Produced by Optelec, Sold by Irie AT. Prices: Display without the Braille Audio Feature Pack, $2,995; display with the Braille Audio Feature Pack, $3,595. Braille Audio Feature Pack: (to add to display) $600.
ALVA BC680: This 80-cell Braille display is built similarly to the BC640. Like the BC640 it includes the five front thumb keys, directional pad, four control buttons, cursor routing keys below each dot, and pair of panning buttons on each side of the display. Unlike the BC640 it does not support the Braille Audio Feature Pack, and therefore does not offer 6-key entry, notetaking, or audio. The split display feature can be enabled on this Braille display if a user wishes to use the display with two different devices simultaneously. It is compatible with iOS, Windows, and Mac. Produced by Optelec, Sold by Irie AT. Price: $7,995.
ALVA Comfort: This 40-cell display connects to any Windows computer or an iOS smartphone. It has full Braille entry plus control, windows, alt, and enter keys for maximum compatibility. Long range Bluetooth enables the display to operate from up to 300 feet away from the device. The display also contains 4 GB of internal storage for creating, editing, and reading notes and books. There is a copy of the NVDA screen reader stored on the display as well. Irie-AT. Price: $2,995
ALVA USB640: The USB640 is a simplified and stripped down version of the BC640. The build quality, Braille, and buttons are identical to the BC640; however it connects and is powered solely via USB. Furthermore, like the BC680 it is not compatible with the Braille Audio Feature pack. It is compatible with Windows and Mac screen access packages. Produced by Optelec, Sold by Irie AT. Price: $2,695
Basic Braille: The Basic Braille is a very simple narrow Braille display that comes in 40-, 64-, and 80-cell models. Unlike other HandyTech displays, the Basic Braille’s display is flat (like most other Braille devices). It has cursor routing keys above each Braille cell, and three buttons for controlling the device on each side of the display. It is powered by USB and available with optional Bluetooth. The Basic Braille can be paired with Windows, Mac, and (Bluetooth only) iOS screen access packages. Produced by Handy Tech. Sold by Triumph Technologies. Price: Basic Braille 40 $2,995; 40 (with Bluetooth), $2995; Basic Braille 64, $5,695; Basic Braille 80, $7,795; Optional Bluetooth for 64- and 80-cell displays, contact Triumph Technologies for cost.
Braille Edge: The Braille Edge is a portable 40-cell, Bluetooth/USB Braille display with forty cursor routing buttons, eight function keys (whose functions vary depending on what operating system is being used with the device), a full Perkins-style keyboard, two directional pads on each side of the keyboard, and left- and right-handed pairs of buttons for advancing or moving back through the text. The Bluetooth functionality is turned on and off via use of a physical switch on the side of the display. This device also offers some basic notetaker functionality, calculator, schedule manager, and built-in clock with alarms. Compatible with major screen access packages for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. HIMS. Price: $2,995.
Braille Pen: This is a Braille input device that comes in two different models. The Slim is not actually a Braille display, but is simply a Braille keyboard for Perkins-style input for mobile devices and computers. The Braille Pen 12 has these features and a 12-cell Braille display. The Braille Pen can connect to another machine via Bluetooth or USB and comes with a small carrying case. It runs on internal rechargeable batteries, and is small enough to fit into most purses, briefcases, and bags. This display supports screen access packages on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Manufactured by Harpo, sold in the U.S. by Triumph Technology. Price: Braille Pen Slim (No display), $295; Braille Pen 12, $995.
Braille Star: A 40-cell or 80-cell portable refreshable Braille display that can be used with a computer through USB, serial cable connection, or optional Bluetooth. Text information can be stored in the unit or transferred to a computer, as the display offers rudimentary notetaking capabilities, as well as file management, calendar, calculator, and clock. Handy Tech Braille displays have a unique concave display, which is curved inward so that fingers rest at a slight angle for reading. Navigation buttons are located to the left and right sides of the display and routing switches are above each cell. Below the Braille display on both models are additional keys for navigation and input. The Braille Star 80 has a sixteen-button keypad on the right side. The user may assign additional functions to these keys. A carrying case is provided. The Braille Star 40 operates approximately twenty hours on four user-replaceable batteries or AC power. A Braille Star 40 with Bluetooth can be used with iOS. All models of the Braille Star can also be used with Windows and OSX screen access software. Manufactured by Handy Tech. Sold by Triumph Technologies Price: 40 cells without Bluetooth, $5,490; 40 cells with Bluetooth, $5,990; 80 cells, $9,995.
Brailliant Second Generation: This lightweight portable Braille display connects via USB and has Bluetooth capability. It can be charged through the AC power adaptor or through the USB connection to a computer. There are three vertical navigation buttons on both sides of the unit and cursor routing buttons above each cell. It has “thumb keys” on the front of the unit, as well as an 8-dot Braille input keyboard. The Brailliant is compatible with screen access packages on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. Model numbers denote the number of Braille cells in the unit. Humanware. Price: Brailliant 32 Second Generation: $2,595; Brailliant 40 Second Generation: $2,995, Brailliant 80 Second Generation: $7,985.
Braillino: This display is similar to the Braille Star, but is smaller in size with 20 concave-style Braille cells. As with other Handy Tech displays, the Braille cells are tilted slightly forward for an ergonomic design. This Braille display will interface with many screen access packages operating under Symbian, OSX, Windows and iOS. It has Bluetooth for wireless connectivity. It has user-replaceable batteries and a USB port. Braillino has a calendar/clock, file editor, and calculator; and notes may be stored in the unit. Produced by Handy Tech. Sold by Triumph Technologies. Price: $3,495.
Easy Braille: This is a small portable Handy Tech Braille display with 40 Braille cells, and eight function keys which can be used for Braille input. The Easy Braille comes with USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Using Bluetooth, the unit can work with a PC at a distance of approximately thirty feet. It uses standard AAA batteries and comes with an AC power adapter. This display is compatible with screen access packages on Windows, Mac and iOS. Produced by Handy Tech. Sold by Triumph Technologies. Price: $3,995.
EasyLink Touch: This 12-cell, portable display is designed to work with Windows, Mac, and iOS. It has a Perkins keyboard for Braille input. What makes this display unique is that, rather than cursor routing buttons, there is a touch-sensitive area above each cell that works for cursor routing. Irie-AT. Price: $1,499.95
Focus Blue Braille Displays: The Focus Blue Braille displays are built for portability and versatility. Unlike the previous generation Focus displays, these displays no longer offer advance bars and “Whiz” wheels, but instead offer a number of different buttons and thumb keys for navigation. The top of the Focus Blue contains a Perkins-style keyboard above a Braille display with routing keys above each cell. A spacebar sits below the display. On each side of the display are two rocker switches for panning or moving through text. The front of the device contains several thumb keys for navigation. It is both Bluetooth and USB compatible, and works with iOS, Mac, and Windows screen access packages. The number in the model name denotes the number of Braille cells on the display. The displays also support switching between a paired Bluetooth device and one connected via USB on the fly. Freedom Scientific. Price: Focus 14 Blue, $1,295; Focus 40 Blue $2,795; Focus 80 Blue, $7,795.
Modular Evolution: With either 64 or 88 Braille cells, this Modular Braille display is the first to use the revolutionary Active Tactile Control (ATC) technology. Based on an earlier Handy Tech Braille model which had a complete QWERTY keyboard, the Modular Evolution is a desktop unit including a complete typewriter-style keyboard. No other keyboard is needed. The components are modular so the user can attach an additional numeric keypad, if desired. All connections are USB, and one connection is made to the computer. No extra cables are required. There are three USB connectors to connect other devices, and the unit has 4 MB of text storage capacity. It features an ergonomically designed, concave-shaped Braille display, which is the same display found on other Handy Tech models. ATC actually senses the location of the user's fingers on the Braille display and offers new and more efficient ways to use a PC. Produced by Handy Tech. Sold by Triumph Technologies. Price: Modular Evolution 64, $9,995; Modular Evolution 88, $12,995.
PAC Mate Portable Braille Display: This display is available in 20- and 40-cell models. It can be used with desktops and laptops when connected with a USB port. It has a pair of three-way Whiz Wheels for rapid navigation and dual-purpose cursor routing buttons. Programmable hot keys can be used when the display is attached to a Windows or Windows CE operating environment. The built-in VariBraille allows the user to adjust the intensity of the Braille dots. This display is compatible with Mac OSX and Windows Operating systems, as well as the Pac Mate Line of Notetakers. Freedom Scientific. Price: 20 cells, $1,395; 40 cells, $2,695.
Perkins Products Braille Display: This light-weight, portable Braille display features 40 or 80 cells. There are eight control keys, four on the front edge, and four on the top (two on either side of the line of Braille), used for navigation and limited control of screen access software. The Perkins connects to a computer with a USB cable or optional Bluetooth. These displays work with Mac, Windows and iOS (Bluetooth displays only). Manufactured by Nippon Telesoft, sold in the U.S. by Perkins Products. Price: Braille 40 Version 3 (USB only) $2295; Braille 40 Version 5 (Bluetooth, USB and extended battery) $2,595; Braille 80 (USB Only) $4,595.
Perkins Mini: The Perkins Mini is a 16-cell Braille display, which is built for portability. It has a full Perkins-style keyboard for text entry. The Braille display itself is flanked by panning buttons, and offers cursor routing keys above each cell. Below the display is a pair of navigation joysticks, and the space bar. The Mini comes with a Bluetooth dongle for computers, as well as a 2 GB MicroSD card for storing documents on the device. Like several other options on this list, the Mini offers some rudimentary notetaking features, as well as a basic calculator, clock, and book reader. It can be used with Bluetooth or USB, and is compatible with Windows, Mac, and iOS screen access packages. Manufactured by Nippon Telesoft, sold in the U.S. by Perkins Products. Price: $1,549.
RefreshaBraille 18: This is a small Braille input/output device for mobile phones, computers, and PDAs. It has a five-position joystick, eight Braille entry keys, two spacebars (set so that the user can choose to flip the orientation of the display), advance and reverse buttons on either side of the display, and 18 Braille cells with cursor routing buttons. It is a device that is built to be easily portable and to take up a minimum of space. The RefreshaBraille supports Mac OSX, Windows, iOS, and Android screen access solutions, as well as devices running TALKS and MobileSpeak. American Printing House for the Blind. Price: $1,695.
Vario Ultra: This Braille display from Baum comes in either 20- or 40-cell variations. It has several notetaker functions, including word processor, spreadsheet, and PDF viewers; an advanced calculator; and various timer functions. It can also pair with computers and mobile devices via Bluetooth, or connect with computers via USB, to act as a Braille display. The Vario Ultra can connect up to four Bluetooth devices and one USB device at the same time and switch between them with a keystroke. Baum USA. Price: Contact manufacturer for pricing. Extended warranties are available for $349 for the Vario Ultra 20 and $449 for the Vario Ultra 40 per year.
Braille translation software converts electronic files into Braille. At the date of this publication, Braille translation software is available for the Windows only.
Braille2000: This Braille transcription program supports the sharing of Braille files over the internet, simplifying the delivery of transcribed files between users. Additionally, multiple file formats including XML are supported. Add-ons, including a Braille-to-print interpreter, Math Feature, and a Children's Braille Grade Relaxer, are available for an additional cost. Computer Application Specialties Company. Multiple pricing options are available including a monthly subscription. Please contact manufacturer for further details.
Duxbury Braille Translator: This Braille translation software supports a wide range of embossers, multiple languages, and systems under Windows. It supports conversion of documents from popular word processing applications such as Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, and Open Office Writer, as well as from other sources such as Excel. It has extensive formatting capability including use of styles. Options include translation to contracted and uncontracted Braille, computer code, and the use of math codes. Math or scientific notation can be imported directly from Microsoft Word through Scientific Notebook and MathType. Windows 2000 through Windows 8 are supported. Duxbury Systems. Price: Duxbury for Windows, $595.
Louis Braille Translator: Louis is a free, open source Braille translator for the Mac. It supports forward and back translation, MathML to Nemeth, as well as advanced layout control. Braille files can also be embossed. The program is based off the LibLouis Braille translation library. Available from http://cucat.org/projects/louis/. Price: Free.
MegaDots: This program is a combination Braille translator and word processor. It imports and exports many file types including HTML and uses "Braille styles" to format. It also includes a spell checker, which can correct common errors that occur in scanned text. This is a DOS-based program which has been upgraded to work with Windows 7 (32-bit only), and can be started from the desktop. Because it is an older program, many of the menu commands may seem unfamiliar to long-time Windows users. Duxbury Systems. Price: $595. Complete MegaDots includes a customizable Braille translation option called Beginner Braille and MegaMath, $895.
ViewPlus Braille Translator: The ViewPlus Braille Translator, a part of the Tiger Software Suite, is designed to work with the Tiger line of embossers. It uses the Duxbury translation tables. ViewPlus Technologies. Price: Free license with purchase of an embosser. Tiger Software Suite can also be purchased separately for $295.
WINTRANS BT: WINTRANS BT is a free, open source Braille translation software based on the original NFBTRANS software package. It is able to translate plain text files into grade II Braille. It contains a Windows front-end for the software. No support is provided. Available as a free download from: http://empowermentzone.com/wbtsetup.exe. Price: Free.
Access to mathematics and scientific materials is handled in a variety of different ways. Depending on the needs of the user, whether they are working as a student or in a professional capacity, what level of interaction with the material they require, and even the nature of the work will determine the best type of tool for the occasion. Thus, this section encompasses many different models for accessing math and scientific data as well as creating accessible eBooks containing mathematic and scientific information.
LabQuest Logger Pro: The combination of the LabQuest hardware interface module with the Sci-Voice Software, and Logger Pro software allows blind students and professionals to independently carry out laboratory assignments for chemistry and physics using a variety of probes that are connected through a hardware interface module to a PC. The LoggerPro software, Sci-Voice Software manufactured by Independence Science, and the LabQuest interface module, manufactured by Vernier Software & Technology, LLC., form the heart of this system. The LabQuest module is connected to a PC using a USB cable. Various probes are subsequently connected to the LabQuest module. Probes are available for biology, chemistry, and physics. Note: If a school already uses a Labquest, the Sci-Voice Software can be added to the Labquest to make it a talking Labquest. Independence Science LLC provides all the necessary components including JAWS or Window-Eyes scripts that make it an accessible turnkey system. Users should work with Independence Science when adding components to ensure that the resulting system will be accessible. A short list of some of the probes is below. Independence Science LLC. Price: Logger Pro, $229; talking LabQuest, $1,494.00; Sci-Voice Software, $728.00; Window Eyes Software Download, $499.00; Temperature Probe, $29; pH Sensor, $79; Relative Humidity Sensor, $39; Scout Pro Scale (400 g) including USB connection kit, $442; Scout Pro USB Connection Kit, $95; Tactile Adaptation Kit, $249.
Math Window: This product consists of a magnetic board and magnetic tiles with large print or Nemeth math symbols. Blind students can arrange math equations linearly or vertically, similar to how equations are arranged visually. This product is available in a basic edition or with additional add-on kits. Wolf Products. Price: Math Window Braille Basic, $144.95; Math Window Braille Algebra Add-on Kit, $80.75; Math Window Braille Geometry Kit, $406.80; Math Window LP Basic Math (with Braille), $163.10; Math Window LP Algebra Add-On Kit (with Braille), $99.80; Math Window MC Basic Math (print only), $144.95; Math Window MC Algebra Add-On Kit (print only), $69.25; Math Window Tile Pallet (for tile storage), $68.10.
Multi Sensory Lab Gear Kit: This kit contains tactile plastic beakers, tactile- and Braille-labeled spring scales, notched plunger plastic syringes that can measure from 0.1 mL to 60 mL liquids, plastic jars, and an audio output thermometer that measures temperatures from freezing to boiling water. The kit has funnels of various sizes that facilitate pouring without spills, measuring cups, measuring spoons, chemical resistant plastic bottles for chemicals, droppers, and plastic stirring rods. The hot glue gun can be used to make tactile markings on the equipment. A CD containing suggested uses comes with each kit. MDW Educational Services Price: $249.
Orion TI84+ Accessible Graphing Calculator: This calculator is a Texas Instruments TI84+ Graphing calculator, with the addition of a module on the top edge which provides speech output of the calculator’s functions, equation results, and graphs. Additionally, audio representations of the graphs, as well as embossed Braille versions, can be created. American Printing House for the Blind. Price: $599.
Science Gear Kit: The Science Gear kit is targeted for students in grades K-6. The Science Gear kit contains numerous items including a talking thermometer, spring scale, graduated set of beakers with tactile markings, funnels, etc. MDW Educational Services. Price: $249.
Tactile Adaptation Kit: This kit contains an assortment of materials needed to make tactile representations of science, math etc. The kit contains sheets of different textured materials (with magnetic backing) that can be cut into shapes with scissors. Some of the other items include: magnetic letters and numbers, a magnetic board, a glue gun and glue sticks for making tactile marks, a tactile protractor and ruler, and a CD with many examples of how to use the kit. MDW Educational Services. Price: $249.
Audio Graphing Calculator: This software emulates the functions of handheld graphing calculators found in many classrooms. The software is self-voicing, meaning that menus and user input and program output are spoken without additional screen access software. Graphs can be presented to the user with audio tones and cues. Options to produce tactile output with the Tiger line of Braille embossers are also available. ViewPlus Technologies. Price: $295.
Infty: The Infty software is a package of three programs: InftyReader, InftyEditor, and ChattyInfty. Infty Reader is software specifically intended to read mathematical equations. It is used in conjunction with either InftyEditor or ChattyInfty. InftyReader accepts as input clean, clearly printed scanned black and white images scanned at either 400DPI or 600DPI. Alternatively, it can directly control a scanner connected to a PC. InftyReader uses specialized OCR software to recognize mathematical equations. It can output its results in any of the following formats: IML (an internal format for InftyEditor), LaTeX, HR-TeX (a special format intended for the blind), or XHTML (MathML). InftyReader will be most useful to sighted transcribers. Users should be prepared to cut and paste the final results into documents. ChattyInfty is a talking editor for working with the output of InftyReader. InftyEditor is an editor for working with the output of InftyReader. It will be most useful for transcribers. The LaTeX Install Kit is available free to assist with the install of the relevant LaTeX components. SAccessNet. Note that there is no U.S. distributor for Infty products; purchases must be made through the website. Price: InftyReader, $800 or $180 for a one-year license; ChattyInfty, $400 or $80 for a one-year license; InftyReader/ChattyInfty bundle, $1000; InftyEditor is free.
Marvel Math Standard and Pro: Marvel Math creates simple math tests (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division with or without remainders, and exponents are supported) with primarily human-recorded speech feedback. The Standard version is a single license, while the Pro edition is a server license for up to thirty-five machines. MarvelSoft. Price: Standard, $54.95; Pro, $129.95
MathDAISY: This software integrates into Microsoft Word 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2013. MathDAISY works with MathType and the Save-As-DAISY add-in. It is essential for creating DAISY books that contain math formulas. Design Science. Price: $179 ($97 academic pricing). A thirty-day free downloadable demo is available.
Math Flash: This is a self-voicing, math drill program. Exercises can be customized by students and teachers and provide great fun for blind children of all ages. The software does not require a screen access program. American Printing House for the Blind. Price: $24.
MathFlow: This tool for content creators is intended for editing and presenting math equations in science and math materials. MathFlow is available for a number of different environments. (Oxygen Editor, Arbortext Editor and Publishing Engine, XMetal Author and XMax; Mathflow Components can be used in custom environments.) The tool is built around MathML and can be used with EPUB, DAISY, NIMAS, and HTML5 among other standards. Design Science. Price: Named user licenses for the Style Editor, $97; Structure Editor $595.
MathPlayer: Available as a free download from Design Science, MathPlayer integrates into internet Explorer 6 and above. It renders math equations that are written using MathML on a website. A screen access software application is needed to hear what is on the screen. Using a refreshable Braille display, math equations are translated as computer Braille rather than in the Nemeth Braille math code. Design Science. Price: Free.
MathTalk/Scientific Notebook: This software package includes Scientific Notebook. Through voice recognition and speech output, this is a self-voicing application allowing one to independently input math equations. The program can provide verbal and Braille output of data that has been sent to the screen and provides nonvisual access to the functionality provided by Scientific Notebook. To take full advantage of this application, Dragon Naturally Speaking must be purchased. Metro Plex Voice Computing. Price: $275; Package including Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred, $475; Package including Dragon Naturally Speaking Pro, $875.
MathTrax: This library of interactive software combines mathematical analysis, graphing, and sonification to represent math and science information. The purpose of MathTrax is to dynamically generate accessible text descriptions of graphs to make data which is traditionally conveyed in visual graphs available to blind and visually impaired users. Students can create graphs by entering an equation, selecting an equation from a drop-down menu, entering raw data to be analyzed, or activating a physics simulation. MathTrax graphs the equations and provides descriptions of those graphs using text and sound. The curves currently described are first and second order equations in two variables (i.e., line, parabola, ellipse, hyperbola, circle, null set, single point, and two lines). Java-capable screen access programs can read the dynamic text descriptions and sonification makes the graphs accessible to blind students. NASA Learning Technologies. Price: Free.
MathType: MathType integrates into Microsoft Word 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 365 and a variety of other environments such as iWork, InDesign and Wordpress. For a complete list of compatible software, please check http://www.dessci.com/en/products/MathType/works_with.asp. MathType is the professional version of the Equation Editor in Microsoft Office. It is used to enter equations into Word. MathType also works with TeX and LaTeX. This allows blind users to enter equations into Word. Note that for those needing to produce DAISY books containing equations, MathDAISY is also required. Duxbury users translating Word documents containing equations created with MathType must run Duxbury software on a PC that also has MathType installed. Design Science. Price: $97 (academic pricing $57); a thirty-day free downloadable demo is available.
Money Talks: This is a self-voicing accessible budgeting application that can be used with popular screen access programs. This application has the capability of handling imported financial statements from checking, savings, and credit card accounts from a financial institution or financial data imported from other financial applications. Once the data is imported into the program, you can navigate among the columns and rows to learn more about a transaction and organize financial data into categories. American Printing House for the Blind. Price: Download, $39; CD-ROM, $49.
Quickbooks 2014 with Scripts: Intuit and My Blind Spot are working together to make Quickbooks 2014 and later accessible. The package consists of the latest version of Quickbooks Professional, Premiere, or Enterprise, plus specially developed JAWS or NVDA scripts. Only the core functions of Quickbooks are currently accessible, but this will be improving with future versions of Quickbooks and the scripts. Price: JAWS scripts start at $125, packages including a version of Quickbooks and the scripts start at $249. The NVDA add-on is free.
Accomplish Cash Manager: This is an accessible money management program produced by Accomplish Global. The Business version is sold in the U.S. by Triumph Technologies and comes with one year of support. Price: $500.
Scientific Notebook: This is a mainstream application utilized by both blind and sighted people to perform mathematical and graphing functions using a PC. Although menus and operation of the program are generally accessible with speech output, reviewing equations and graphic results with screen access software can be difficult. The program is used by Braille transcribers to import mathematics and graphing material into Duxbury for Braille translation. This software includes the ability import math equations correctly into the Duxbury Braille Translator which can then render them into Nemeth Braille code for refreshable Braille displays or hardcopy output. MacKichan Software, Inc. Price: General, $202; academic, $128; student, $79.
Print-reading hardware devices are stand-alone products consisting of a scanning bed or a digital camera to capture a picture of the printed material, optical character recognition (OCR) software, and text-to-speech software. Depending on the quality of the text, printed material is scanned and converted to spoken text.
ClearReader +: This compact, light (5.4 pounds) OCR device has a foldable camera arm and a handle for easy transportation. The tactile controls on the top of the unit drive the speed and volume of the text to speech, as well as simple navigation (Fwd/Rewind, Play/Pause, and Scan). Documents can be saved to USB or SD card. The Advance or Magnification Feature package adds a control panel so the unit can be used for magnification (with an external screen) and so the user can access the menu. Optelec. Price: ClearReader +, $1,995; ClearReader + Basic, (doesn’t include battery pack), $1795; ClearReader + Advanced, (includes Magnification Feature Pack), $2245
DocuScan Plus and Hover Cam: DocuScan Plus is an inexpensive cloud-based scanning system that will scan a variety of documents. Both Mac and PC users can use DocuScan Plus. PC users can download the software from www.docuscanplus.com, and Mac users can download the app from the Mac app store. Users should carefully read the help files before installing DocuScan Plus. The system is self-voicing and can read PDF files, as well as scanned documents. PC users cannot activate the next page button until the system is ready. PC users can optionally allow DocuScan Plus to install a 150 MB package on their PCs. DocuScan Plus then becomes a stand-alone application on that PC and an internet connection is not required for scanning. The HoverCam is an overhead camera-based scanner that connects to a PC or Mac with a USB cable. The HoverCam includes a built-in light. The HoverCam system also includes a rubber mat for orienting the camera and the documents to be scanned. The HoverCam scanner is intended to work with DocuScan Plus, and image capture is very fast. Serotek. Price: DocuScan Plus, $299.99; a monthly payment plan is also available; HoverCam, $499.
eClipse Ware: The eClipse Ware suite straddles the areas of DAISY reading and creation, print reading hardware and software, entertainment, and text conversion. Because the products are closely related, and each item includes elements of other items, without sharing a central component, they are listed in a single entry referenced in other sections.
eClipseReader: This self-voicing application is a DAISY and text reader designed for DAISY and audio formats (such as MP3, WMA, WAV, and OGG) and CDs. Bookmarking and note taking are supported, and the resulting study outline can be exported as text. A special Learning Ally version is available. IRTI. Price: Plus for Learning Ally, $84; Eye-Net, $59.
eClipseWriter: With this self-voicing software, the user can create DAISY books from a variety of formats (Doc, DocX, HTML, XML, RTF, TEXT, PDF, NIMAS Dtbook). Audio output formats include MP3, WMA, WAV, OGG, and ASF. The professional edition of this software incorporates OCR capability and can be connected to a HoverCam camera or flatbed scanner. The Pro version also incorporates the eClipseReader Eye-Net. IRTI. Price: eClipseWriter Student Teacher, $99; eClipseWriter Pro with Scanning OCR, $595; eClipseWriter Pro and HoverCam Kit, $895.
eClipseScan: This family of products breaks into two types. On the one hand, there are the stand-alone scanning/reading (and entertainment) systems. On the other hand, there are those products that require installation on a Windows PC to perform scanning, reading, and entertainment functions. All units come with a simple USB keypad for navigation. The Entertainment option adds a talking CD and DVD function, internet radio, and a DAISY book creation function. IRTI. Price: eClipseScan-PC Scan and Read Kit (requires installation on a PC; includes flatbed scanner, USB keypad, all entertainment functionality, but not the entertainment hardware), $995; eClipseScan-HoverCam Kit (requires installation on a PC; includes HoverCam, USB keypad, all entertainment functionality, but not the entertainment hardware), $1,195; eClipseScan Stick SpeedReader (stand-alone system with document scanner), $2,195; eClipseScan Stick Entertainment Center (stand-alone system with HoverCam ,and home theater PC hardware), $2,295; eClipseScan Scan and Read Entertainment Center (stand-alone system with flatbed scanner, Slim PC with DVD player and Built-in Stereo Speaker System), $1,695.
eClipseMedia-Server PC Software: This software breaks off the entertainment capabilities of the eClipseScan Entertainment Center and allows you to install it on an Windows XP, Vista, or 7 PC with the included DVD writer and player to have talking CD and DVD functions. IRTI. Price: $49.95.
EyeScan Reader: The EyeScan Reader line is Guerilla Technologies’ completely revamped line of scanner-based stand-alone OCR devices. The system is comprised of a scanner, computer, and keypad. Various models are available. The EyeScan is the simplest unit (it uses a three-key keypad), followed by the EyeScan Plus and the EyeScan Unlimited which have more keypad functions and add the ability to save twenty documents and, in the case of the Unlimited, an MP3 player and MP3 import and export capability. The Unlimited model also has the capacity to import and export text files. The EyeScan Low Vision provides enhanced text and picture magnification. Guerilla Technologies, Inc. Price: EyeScan Reader Basic, $1,995; EyeScan Reader Plus, $2,195; EyeScan Reader Unlimited, $2,495; EyeScan Reader Low Vision, $2,995; EyeSnap Reader Basic, $2,495.
EyeSnap Reader: This line of stand-alone reading systems is analogous to the EyeScan Reader series, but replaces the scanner with a camera. The system is comprised of a camera, computer, and keypad. Various models are available. The EyeSnap is the simplest unit (it uses a three-key keypad), followed by the EyeSnap Plus and the EyeSnap Unlimited which have more keypad functions and add the ability to save twenty documents and, in the case of the Unlimited, an MP3 player and MP3 and text file import and export capability. The EyeSnap Low Vision provides enhanced text and picture magnification. Guerilla Technologies, Inc. Price: EyeSnap Reader Basic, $2,495; EyeSnap Reader Plus, $2,695; EyeSnap Reader Unlimited, $2,995; EyeSnap Reader Low Vision, $3,495.
Eye-Pal: This product is ideal for bulk optical character recognition. It consists of a custom camera with a right-angle stand and OCR processing software. The product can scan both pages of a paperback book at once, allowing much faster completion of the scanning phase. Since a picture is taken with the book face up, the user can easily flip through pages and quickly scan a book even if doing it one page at a time. The included software is self-voicing but can be used with screen access software and with Kurzweil 1000. ABISee. Price: $1,275.
Eye-Pal Ace and Ace Plus: The Eye-Pal Ace offers optical character recognition and magnification in a portable format. Two cameras are built into a slightly overhanging ledge near the top of the device, eliminating the need for a camera arm. In a relatively small package, the Ace brings a ten-inch screen on which it shows the recognized text, and a quick and easy way to scan print and have it read back. The unit weighs 3.5 pounds, and has a built-in clock alarm. Files can be saved to the unit or to a USB drive. The Ace Plus adds the ability to download and read books from Bookshare, as well as the ability to set up an email account on the device to communicate with others. ABISee. Price: Ace, $2,445; Ace Plus, $2995.
Eye-Pal Reader: A foldable, light and completely stand-alone version of the Eye-Pal (listed above). The Eye-Pal reader provides text recognition in a simple, easy-to-use package. The unit responds to gesture commands. ABISee. Price: Eye-Pal Reader, $1,995.
Eye-Pal Read Out Loud: Like the Ace, the Eye-Pal ROL does optical character recognition portably, but without the magnification. It uses two cameras to take a picture, and will start reading in seconds. The unit weighs the same as the Ace, 3.5 pounds, and has a built-in clock alarm. Files can be saved to the unit or to a USB drive. ABISee. Price: $2,195.
Eye-Pal Solo: A completely stand-alone version of the Eye-Pal (listed above). The Solo allows users to perform rapid recognition of text without using a full-function computer. The Eye-Pal Solo LV is available which adds support for an external monitor and magnification of text. The Eye-Pal Solo can be controlled by hand gestures or an external keypad. ABISee. Price: Eye-Pal Solo, $1,995; Solo or LV Keypad, $119.
Ovation: This is a stand-alone, compact, flatbed scanner that will scan text and read it aloud. It includes speech and volume controls, storage for 500,000 pages at a time, and direct connection to the BrailleNote. Telesensory Corporation. Price: $3,395.
Poet Compact2: The Poet Compact2 is a stand-alone reading machine that comes in two versions. The Compact2 is designed to be as simple as possible, with just a scan button, pause button, and volume and speed controls. The Compact 2+ model adds a front panel with menu options, USB drive support, Braille display support, and a CD drive for playing DAISY and audio CDs. Baum USA. Price: Poet Compact2 $2,695; Poet Compact2+ $2,995.
RAVE II: RAVE packages a one-pound camera optimized for OCR with self-voicing software for OCR and magnification intended to run on a laptop to provide the user with a portable yet reliable method to process print. Basic and advanced modes of operation are available in the software, catering to both novice and power users. Guerilla Technologies, Inc. Price: RAVE II, $,1250; Optional Keypad, $299.
SARA (Scanning and Reading Appliance): The SARA is a stand-alone, text-to-speech, scanning and reading unit that consists of buttons for scanning and reading, menu options, and help keys. In addition to keys for navigation and selection, the user can define up to four keys for customization and personalization. Rocker buttons are along the front of the unit for volume and speech rate control. Files can only be saved to the hard drive or burned to CD via the built-in CD burner, and file names are recorded by the user via the internal microphone. For additional functionality, S-Video and VGA ports allow the user to connect a display screen, giving the user the ability to output or magnify text while being spoken. A camera-based version using the Pearl camera mounted on the SARA base is now available as the SARA CE. Freedom Scientific. Price: SARA, $2,395; SARA CE, $1,895;19-inch and 22-inch screens are available for purchase with either model.
Zoom-ex: Zoom-ex is a stand-alone camera on a stand that connects to a computer through the USB port. No external power or batteries are needed because the camera receives its power from the USB port. The unit will magnify documents and provides an OCR (optical character recognition) function to read the text of the page aloud. The unit performs OCR of a document very quickly. ZoomOffice software is required to run the camera, and provides magnification and OCR. Books can be scanned and saved on the computer to read later. Up to twenty pages per minute can be captured. ABISee Inc. Price: $1,775.
ZoomText Image Reader: ZoomText Image Reader is an OCR package that comes with a portable document camera (A3 and A4 sizes available) and a tactile mat to aid in placing documents for OCR. It includes both speech and magnification options for recognized text. Although it is a stand-alone product, it offers a fairly high level of integration with other Ai Squared products. Image Reader can be used on scanned documents and on-screen text and images of text; PDF reading and book reading modes are not currently implemented but are planned. The software is compatible with Windows XP (32-bit), Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. Ai Squared. Price for English only edition: Current ZoomText Magnifier/Reader Customers-Smaller A4 Camera, $499; Larger A3 Camera, $599; Non-ZoomText owners- A4 Camera, $749; A3 Camera, $849. Multilingual edition: Current ZoomText Magnifier/Reader Customers-Smaller A4 Camera, $599; Larger A3 Camera, $699; Non-ZoomText owners- A4 Camera, $849; A3 Camera, $949.
Print-reading software is an application that is installed on a desktop or laptop running Windows. The user must purchase a scanner in order to use the print-reading software. While most scanners are sufficient, be sure to consult the vendor to confirm that the scanner is supported.
eClipseWare: See entry in Print Reading Hardware.
iRead: Scans and recognizes text. iRead works either with your existing screen access product or the free NVDA screen reader. iRead boasts the ability to automatically recognize headings and create a table of contents to allow quick navigation in a document. Works with any TWAIN scanner on a Windows system. Triumph Technology. Price: software only, $500; bundled with Hovercam document scanner, $895.
KNFB Reader: This iPhone app scans printed documents using the iPhone’s camera and converts them to text using OCR. The app aids visually impaired users by providing a report of whether or not all four sides of the document are visible and how much the document is rotated, either clockwise or counterclockwise. Additionally, the app can recognize text from .pdf and .jpg files. Available from the Apple app store. Price: $99.99.
Kurzweil 1000: This is a Windows-based reading system designed to convert printed documents into speech. A screen access program is not required, as the software is self-voicing. Additional features include a dictionary, thesaurus, and text editor. A variety of speech synthesis options are available, including a choice of different voices for reading documents and system messages. A commercial scanner must be purchased separately. Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc., subsidiary of Cambium Learning Technologies. Price: $995.
OpenBook: This is a Windows-based system designed to read printed documents using a commercial scanner and convert them to synthesized speech. OpenBook now supports the Vocalizer Direct voices. Eloquence is also available, replacing the ViaVoice synthesizer. Windows Vista, and Windows 7 are supported. This program does not require screen access software inasmuch as it creates its own speech. It also contains other features such as a dictionary, thesaurus, and editor. Freedom Scientific. Price: $995; with Pearl camera, $1,790.
OBR (Optical Braille Recognition): This software allows the user to scan a Braille page and translate it into text. A printed version of the Braille document can be produced, and the document can be embossed by a supported Braille embosser. Neovision Industrial Vision Systems. Sold in the U.S. by Enablemart. Price: A4, $1,385; A3, $1,651.
Text Cloner Pro: This is a scanning package designed to work with your screen reader's own voice capabilities. It features a high-performance Optical Character Recognition (OCR) engine, as well as a built-in spell checker. One-touch functionality means all important tasks can be accomplished with a single keystroke. Text Cloner Pro includes support for multiple columns, spell checking text, and several additional features. Premier Literacy. Price: $99.95.
BC Scan: This website provides access to a database of UPC codes for product identification. Barcodes can be scanned or manually keyed in. Through a partnership with Horizons for the Blind's Directions For Me, many products include additional information including instructions and nutritional information. A stand-alone program, BARF, allows the user to retrieve information without using their browser. A customized Metrologic barcode scanner is available that plugs into a computer's USB port and can scan the code into the website. AT guys. BC Scan website: (http://www.bcscan.com). Price: BARF software, Free; Customized Quantum Omnidirectional Bar Code Scanner for BC Scan, $149.00.
EyeNote: Produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, this free app recognizes U.S. currency and can announce the denomination via speech, tone, or vibration. Available in the Apple app store. Price: Free.
iBill: This keychain-sized reader quickly identifies printed currency and speaks, beeps, or vibrates the result to the user. Users can also plug in headphones for additional privacy. Orbit Research. Price: $119.
i.d. Mate: The i.d. Quest is one compact unit with the scanner included. It is a portable barcode reader with an omnidirectional scanner. Barcodes on packages, cans, bottles, boxes, playing cards, compact discs, prescription drugs, and almost anything that has a bar code can be scanned and read aloud. A database of products is stored on the device containing many commercial products. Updates can be downloaded via a mini USB port. For those products not in the database, a personalized description can be recorded and saved. A memo recording function is also available. It has an internal speaker, headphone jack, volume, and speed control. The unit is battery-powered or can run on AC power. Refurbished models of the i.d. Mate Summit are still sold, but the current unit is the i.d. Mate Quest. En-Vision America. Price: i.d. Mate Quest, $1,299.
LookTel Money Reader: This app uses the iPhone’s camera to identify many different currencies. Simply hold the bill in front of the iPhone’s camera, or place the bill on a table and hold the iPhone’s camera above it, to have the denomination read out. Available in the Apple app store. Price: $9.99
NoteTeller2: A portable bank-note reader that announces all U.S. currency, old and new, in either English or Spanish. A version of the NoteTeller is also available for deaf-blind individuals—meaning that vibrotactile indication is provided to identify specific currencies. Brytech, Inc. Price: $300.
OrCam: The OrCam is a pair of glasses with a portable module that can read text, recognize products, and more. Simply point at an object that you need read or identified, and OrCam will announce it. OrCam. Price: $3,500
EchoSense: EchoSense is a device which allows a remote assistant to assist a visually impaired person via a cell phone and a pair of glasses with an embedded camera. The remote assistant can see what the person is looking at and can have a conversation with the person. Price: $2,995. http://www.echo-sense.com/
ScripTalk: ScripTalk is a tag-based system, which uses a small station to recognize and read the pharmacy-created label on the medication. The label contains the basic prescription information (prescription name, dosage, prescribing doctor, etc.), as well as the patient package insert. The user can consult this information by hovering the labeled medication over the active ScripTalk station. Because the system uses text-to-speech, rather than using a recording, the user can navigate to information he or she wants to hear by using the buttons on the station. The ScripTalk requires that the pharmacy dispensing the medication have a ScripTalk station and ScripTalk software, so that the pharmacist can prepare the labels for the medication. The labels can be attached to any kind of container. En-Vision America. Price for the patient station: Free; please contact En-Vision America for pricing for the pharmacy system.
Deaf Blind Communicator: The DBC consists of a BrailleNote mPower (Braille or QWERTY keyboard models available) and a companion smartphone running DBC chat software. The product allows deaf-blind users to communicate in person, through SMS text messaging, or traditional TTY. The full features of the BrailleNote mPower can be activated to give the user a mobile computing platform, as well. HumanWare. Price (Braille or QWERTY keyboard) 18-cell Braille display, $6,379; 32-cell Braille display, $8,239.
Face to Face PC Communicator: This software allows a deaf-blind user to communicate, using a PAC Mate notetaker, with another person using a Bluetooth-equipped PC. Messages are displayed on both units. Quick-messages can be pre-programmed for easy recall. Text can be copied to the clipboard, and pasted into the Face to Face program. Face to Face comes with the software for the PAC Mate and PC and a compact flash Bluetooth card. Freedom Scientific. Price: $495.
HIMS Chat: HIMS Chat is an iOS app developed to connect to the HIMS line of notetakers and Braille displays in order to provide face-to-face communications for deaf-blind users. It allows users to save conversations for later perusal and the use of macros for commonly used phrases. Created by HIMS, available on the iOS App store. Price: Free.
HumanWare Communicator: The Humanware Communicator iOS app allows deaf-blind users of HumanWare’s BrailleNote Apex and Brailliant Braille displays to use them in combination with an iOS device for face-to-face communications. This application allows a user to save commonly used phrases for later use, as well as important conversations for later viewing. This app is available in the app store, or can be purchased in a bundle from HumanWare with an iPhone 5C, or an iPod Touch with a protective case and tether, and either a Brailliant or BrailleNote Apex. Created by Humanware. Sold in the iOS app store, or from Humanware. Price: App only $99; BrailleNote Apex 32/iPhone 5C, $6,395; BrailleNote Apex 32/iPod Touch, $5,995; BrailleNote Apex 18/iPhone 5C, $4,795; BrailleNote Apex 18/iPod Touch, $4,395; Brailliant 40/iPhone 5C, $3,895; Brailliant 32/iPhone 5C, $3,495; Brailliant 40/iPod Touch, $3,495; Brailliant 32/iPod Touch, $3,095.
Intele Modem: This device turns your computer into a TTY. It works with standard communication software on your computer. It automatically distinguishes between ASCII and Baudot calls. Ultratec, Inc. Price: $329.
Interpretype DBCS 2.0: 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 manufacturer. One computer is loaded with JAWS, and paired with the Focus. The computers are able to connect via a special USB cable, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi, and 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. Interpretype software can also be purchased for installation on the user’s own machines. Manufactured by Interpretype in partnership with Freedom Scientific. Distributed by Interpretype. Price: Contact Interpretype for more information.
Vibra Call: The Vibra Call system can transmit a signal from a Silent Call transmitter, and activates its vibrator with a predetermined output vibration for each type of transmitted signal. Silent Call Communications. Price: Depending on the selection of transmitters, prices vary from $545.50 to $652.
The low vision section, unlike the rest of this resource list, does not aim to be complete. There are enough digital magnifiers, for example, to fill a volume, and there is not enough difference between brands to make a full list worthwhile. As such, we have tried to give a few examples of different kinds of low vision technology, and hopefully give the consumer enough information to start on their search for which piece of equipment suits them best. Only electronic equipment and software aimed at enhancing the user’s ability to use a computer or mobile device is listed.
Magnification software is software that is installed on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device. It provides adjustable magnification of anything in the operating system environment (email, internet, word processor, etc.) and usually allows the user to change the colors and contrast as well. Many versions provide text-to-speech so that the user can rely on the speech to render longer text items in a browser, text editor, or other application. Magnification for mobile phones is discussed in the mobile phone section.
Note: Apple computers provide native screen magnification, as well as fully-fledged screen access software (VoiceOver). Visit http://www.apple.com/accessibility/macosx/vision.html for more detailed information. Zoom can be toggled on and off by pressing Command-F8. Inverted color and grayscale settings are also available.
MAGic: This is a powerful magnification program which integrates well with JAWS, using many of the same keystrokes. There are many options for customizing speech, magnification, color, and, if present, speech settings. MAGic is available with or without speech; versions with speech offer a choice of RealSpeak Solo or Eloquence. Citrix and Terminal Services support is available. MAGic can be used with all 32-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) or later and all 64-bit versions of Windows 7, 8, and Windows Server 2008. (32-bit XP users are able to purchase the current version of the software and download version 11, the last to support this operating system). Freedom Scientific. Price: MAGic Pro Scripting Edition (This is the only scriptable version of MAGic, and scripts produced for this version cannot be used with other versions of the software), $995; MAGic with Speech, $595; MAGic No Speech, $395.
SuperNova Magnifier/Reader Magnifier: SuperNova Magnifier/Reader Magnifier is a magnification program from the Dolphin product line. It provides basic magnification at login and has a variety of color, magnification, and speech options available once the user is logged in. It lets the user create hooked areas, fixed areas of the screen (such as the clock, weather, or news widgets, etc.) which remain magnified regardless of what other actions the user performs. The user can also set application-specific settings. Many functions are keystroke-driven. Scripting capability is integrated, and a library of scripts is available on the Dolphin site; scripts can also be encrypted. SuperNova Magnifier and Reader Magnifier run on Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. Version 13.03 is the last version to support Windows Vista. Dolphin Computer Access. Price: SuperNova Magnifier (no speech), $395; SuperNova Reader/Magnifier (with speech), $595.
ZoomText: ZoomText is a popular magnification program, available with and without speech, which presents a simple user interface to change magnification, color, contrast, and, if applicable, speech features. Dual monitor support is available for those wanting to use a larger screen area. In the versions with speech, the SpeakIt function reads any text the mouse points at; the App and DocReader automatically read documents and applications. Scripting capability is now available. The magnifier allows for full or partial magnification of text up to 16x. Features include enhanced screen colors, visible pointers and cursors, web link finder, and support for some PDF documents. ZoomText Camera can use any HD webcam to magnify hardcopy print items. The ZoomText Magnifier/Reader has additional features, such as screen access, automatic document reading, text navigation, and some special application support. ZoomText runs on Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and 7. Ai Squared. Price: ZoomText Magnifier (no speech), CD version, $399; USB version, $499; ZoomText Magnifier/Reader (with speech), CD version, $599; USB version, $699.
Zoomtext Mac: ZoomText Mac works with MacOS versions 10.7 and 10.8 (Lion and Mountain Lion). Note that the Mac hardware must meet additional requirements as listed on http://www.aisquared.com/zoomtextmac/more/system_requirements/. It offers magnification up to 36x, cursor and focus enhancements, and font smoothing, improving on Apple’s built in magnification. No speech function is available with this version, but it does run with VoiceOver. Ai Squared. $399.
Clearview+: The Clearview+ is a tabletop digital magnifier which will magnify up to 60-95x depending on the version. It has extremely simple controls, with one round control for the basic functions; it consists of a button in the center to change color settings/reading mode, and a dial around it to adjust the magnification. The on/off button is a small round button just above it. The other controls (brightness, etc.) are hidden under a small panel. The monitor is on an adjustable arm, allowing the user to reposition the screen to best advantage. The X-Y table has an electronic brake. The split screen model lets the user view computer and camera input on the same screen. Optelec. Price: Clearview+ 24 inch regular or TwinView PC Split Screen System, HD $3,395, True Color $3,195, Black&White $2,995; Clearview+ 18.5” widescreen ultra-flexible arm system, HD $2,795, True Color $2,595, Black&White $2,395; Clearview+ 19 inch widescreen ultra-flexible arm system, HD $2,995, True Color $2,795, Black&White $2,595; Clearview+ 22 inch widescreen ultra-flexible arm system, HD $3,195, True Color $2,995, Black&White $2,795; Clearview+ system for use with a personal computer, $2,570.
Journey: The Journey is a tabletop digital magnifier with three controls below the screen to control. The monitor can be folded back. The X-Y table has a manual brake. The Journey magnifies up to 50x or 55x depending on screen size. Magnisight. Price: 19-inch CCTV, $2,895.
Amigo: At a screen size of 6.5 inches, the Amigo is larger than most portable digital magnifiers, and offers an experience that is closer to that of a desktop magnifier. With a battery life of up to two hours, and magnification up to 14x, this unit is a good crossover option for consumers looking to get a little more out of their portable unit, or for those who travel frequently. The device comes with a writing stand. There is also a freeze-frame function, and the Amigo can be hooked up to a TV. Enhanced Vision. Price: $1,695.
Compact 5 HD: The Compact 5 HD is a purse-size portable digital magnifier with a High Definition display. It magnifies up to 18x and has a number of different color settings. The stand folds out to tilt the screen up for easier reading. Optelec. Price: $895.
Maggie: The tiny Maggie magnifier (2.0 x 3.5 x 0.5 inches, about the size of a credit card) magnifies between 4x and 11x, and has a freeze-image option. The unit has three lighting levels. With a three-inch screen and only a narrow frame, the Maggie maximizes the viewing area. Bierley. Price: $198.
Ruby: The Ruby is a purse-sized portable magnifier. It magnifies up to 10x flat on the page and has five color presets; it also allows the user to freeze a frame. The handle of the unit folds back to form a stand, placing it at the optimal distance from the page. The screen is 4.3 inches. The buttons are high contrast and in primary colors to simplify use. The device has a rechargeable battery with up to two hours of continuous use. Freedom Scientific. Price: $545; HD version, $645.
Clearview+ Speech: This twenty-four-inch digital magnifier can toggle, with the touch screen, between the typical magnification functions and a full-page OCR function that reads the page out loud and tracks the words being read. The OCR page can also be magnified, though the view defaults to full page. All of the OCR functions are used through the touchscreen icons. Magnification mode works, as it does on the regular Clearview+, through the tactile controls on the X-Y tray. Optelec. Price: True Color model, $3,695; HD $3,895.
GPS systems are used to assist a blind person to find out about a city or particular location. A vehicle or pedestrian route can be created and interactively followed with a GPS. The system also provides directional information. A GPS system is not a replacement for a cane or a guide dog; however, it can be very useful in certain situations.
BlindSquare: This app provides information about businesses and street crossings around a given location. Additionally, the app can give the distance and direction to a selected location, as well as provide real-time updates as you travel. The app pulls data from Foursquare, as well as Open Street Maps. Available from the apple app store. Price: $29.99.
BrailleNote GPS: This system attaches to the BrailleNote Apex, PK, mPower, or VoiceNote. When in use, the user will have a GPS receiver either connected to a BrailleNote serial port or via Bluetooth for wireless connectivity. A GPS receiver, a pouch for the receiver, and maps stored on a 32 GB SD card can be obtained as a bundle. Developed by Sendero Group LLC, sold by HumanWare. Price: Software and receiver, $599.
Kapten Mobility GPS: The Kapten GPS provides spoken GPS directions for walking, driving, or public transportation, descriptions of the environs, and saved favorite locations. The user can use speech input or the tactile controls on the Kapten device. It also works as an MP3 and DAISY player, and will record voice memos. Kapsys. Irie AT. Price: $499.
Sense Nav: Sense Nav is the GPS package tailored for the HIMS BrailleSense line of notetakers. It works with a Bluetooth GPS receiver and the Braille Sense, Braille Sense Plus, OnHand, U2, or Voice Sense. Maps can either be stored on an SD card or in the unit's flash memory. The product is sold as a bundle including an SD card with all North America maps, as well as Holux Bluetooth GPS receiver. Developed by Sendero Group LLC, Sold by HIMS. Price: Software, $998; Software and Bluetooth GPS, $1,198; Bluetooth GPS receiver, contact HIMS for pricing.
Trekker Breeze: The Trekker Breeze is a stand-alone unit with nine tactually discernible buttons and a volume wheel. The device uses GPS signals to plot your position on a digital map stored on an SD card inserted into the unit. Speech output for GPS and battery status, location, points of interest, and landmarks can be heard through the unit's built-in speaker, headphones, or a clip-on speaker provided in the package. Maps for the United States are provided with your Breeze, and more can be purchased separately. A carrying case with a belt clip and a wrist strap, a shoulder strap, AC Adapter, companion CD, and a User Guide audio CD are also included. Humanware. Price: $699; Maps for additional countries are available on CD for $79.
Seeing Eye GPS: This iPhone app, developed in collaboration with The Seeing Eye and Sendero group, provides spoken turn-by-turn directions when navigating. It also provides announcements of nearby intersections along with descriptions, as well as nearby points of interest. Available from the Apple app store. Price: $9.99/month, $69.99/year, $129.99/three years.
Nearby Explorer: Developed by the American Printing House for the Blind, this app for Android provides descriptions of the local street network, turn-by-turn announcements when traveling a route, nearby points of interest, and more. The software will run on any device running Android 2.3 or later that has at least 3.7 GB of storage space available. Available from the Google Play store. Price: $99.00
AccessaPhone: The AccessaPhone software allows you to control a Voice over IP telephone (such as those found in many businesses). The software allows a user to dial their phone from the computer (entering the number or utilizing an address book that can be imported from Microsoft Outlook's contacts folder); transfer calls; initiate conference calling; place calls on hold and retrieve them; review lists of dialed, received, or missed calls; and check voicemail status. AccessaPhone also includes talking caller ID which verbalizes the name or number of a calling party. AccessaPhone is currently compatible with Broadsoft, Cisco, NEC, Siemens, Tadiran, and Toshiba phone systems. Tenacity. Price: $1,500 per license.
Accessible Event: A web application that can either be used on its own, or run in parallel with inaccessible conferencing solutions, AE allows a blind user to view documents displayed on a presenter's computer in an accessible format. Accessible Event can provide accessible presentations of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Internet Explorer, and other documents. Accessible Event is offered as a hosted or stand-alone solution. The stand-alone solution, Accessible Event Hotspot, is intended for conference facilities without internet access. Serotek. Price: $39.95 per month for a personal subscription, $89 per month for corporate subscriptions; day passes and annual subscriptions available.
Blind Tunes: A set of scripts for JAWS designed to complement the accessibility provided in iTunes. These scripts not only clean up areas of accessible, but not always user-friendly, sections of the interface such as apps management, but allow functions that were previously inaccessible (dragging and dropping multiple tracks into a playlist and quickly sorting tracks according to columns, for example) to be accessible from the keyboard. Blind Tunes (Do It Blind, LLC). Price: $9.99.
CakeTalking for SONAR Software: This software provides a set of customized configurations for the JAWS for Windows screen access program that makes it easier for a blind person to use Cakewalk, a music editing and recording program. Dancing Dots. Price: $349.
Digital Jukebox: Digital Jukebox is a self-voicing (using MarvelTalk, digitized human speech) music player and manager for Windows. It allows users to create playlists, organize tracks, rip CD’s, and export music to many portable MP3 players. Please note that this software is not compatible with iOS devices, or other MP3 players that do not appear as a mass storage device in Windows. MarvelSoft. Price: $49.99.
Directions for me: This website offers product information including nutritional information, cooking instructions, and other details on a variety of food and health and beauty products. http://www.directionsforme.org. Price: Free.
eClipseWare: See entry in Print Reading Hardware.
Executive Products Inc.: Executive Products Inc. manufactures a wide variety of high quality carrying cases for notetakers, Braille displays, phones, book players, etc. Some examples are listed. Executive Products Inc. Prices: NLS/BPH case for talking book player, $39.95; iPhone 6 pouch, $37.99; BrailleNote Apex case, $85.
GOODFEEL Braille Music Translator and GOODFEEL Lite: This software makes it possible to produce Braille music from musical files that have been created using other software. The Lite version transcribes only one format—vocal, keyboard, or instrumental. The basic version transcribes all three formats. GOODFEEL includes the Lime Aloud Package (see below). Scanning capability is built into both programs. Dancing Dots. Price: Basic package, $1,595; Lite, $995.
Ideal Group software: Ideal group’s Apps4Android division produces several apps for Android designed for the visually impaired. Price: Varies. http://www.apps4android.org/
J-Say Pro with Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional: Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional is a voice recognition program. J-Say is a package of scripts for JAWS that enables the coordinated use of Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional and JAWS for Windows. Next Generation Technology. Price: Dragon Naturally Speaking Professional; $599; J-Say; $827.50; digital only, $750. Contact Next Generation Technologies for combination pricing or multiple licenses.
Lime Aloud: Lime Aloud is a package consisting of Lime (a music notation program that allows for music creation and import from OCR, MusicXML, and other notation programs, and exports multiple formats), SharpEyes (musical score optical character recognition software), and JAWS scripts to allow blind musicians to import, create, and export music to GOODFEEL, to other notation software, and to print. Dancing Dots. Price: $749.
NFB-NEWSLINE®: NFB-NEWSLINE® is a free service which gives blind and other print-disabled individuals access to newspapers, magazines, retail circulars, and job and TV listings. Subscribers can access content on the phone, via the web, via email, and on digital talking book players or supported MP3 players. A dedicated app for iDevices is now also available, though users must register for the service first. National Federation of the Blind. Price: Free at www.nfbnewsline.org or through the iTunes App Store.
OneNote Blind: OneNote Blind is a set of JAWS scripts for providing access to Microsoft OneNote note taking application. This script allows blind users to create, read, manage, and navigate OneNote notebooks, sections, and pages. Users will also be able to import and export information to this program in a variety of formats including Word, PDF and plain text. OneNote 2007, 2010, and 2013 are presently supported. Do It Blind. Price: $49.99.
Perky Duck: Perky Duck is a basic Braille editor which allows for direct entry of Braille characters into a computer by allowing the keyboard to be used for 6-key entry. It does not contain formatting options. Instead, it acts as a Perkins Braille Writer Emulator for the PC. It is often used as a tool for practicing Braille input in educational environments. Users of the software should be aware that they will have to have a keyboard that supports N-Key Rollover functionality for the program to work correctly. Duxbury Systems. Price: Free.
Power Chord Braille Keyboard: The Power Chord is a USB 10-key, Perkins-style keyboard for use with a Windows or Mac computer. It comes with the Power Chord editor which is a simple self-voicing program which reads words and characters back to the user as they are typed on the keyboard. It can also be used for typing in traditional word processors and other applications. Touch Graphics. Price: $249.
Quality Quiz: Self-voicing quiz software which can be used by teachers to create, and administrate quizzes for their students. Teachers are able to write questions in a number of formats, including true/false, multiple choice, short answer, and essay. They are also able to randomize the order of quiz questions, and have the program automatically grade the machine-gradable questions. Students are able to take tests independently using the program’s built-in word processor, and as students work, they will encounter animated characters and vocal encouragement (digitized human speech) intended to keep them motivated during the test taking process. MarvelSoft. Price: Single User, $54.95. Network $129.95.
RhapsodyBlind: A set of scripts for JAWS providing functionality to the Rhapsody music service's Windows application. These scripts allow the user to access the music library, manage playlists, and use the Rhapsody store to add tracks to their library or purchase MP3s. Drag-and-drop is also supported, allowing users to create playlists from both locally saved music and music stored in the Rhapsody cloud. Rhapsody Blind (Do It Blind). Price: $9.99.
SCANACAN for Windows: This PC-based program comes with an omnidirectional barcode reader. It is designed to identify barcode labels for more than 84,000 grocery and 62,000 hardware items. The user can label a barcode that is not recognized. The program requires screen access software for Windows, and runs on XP systems; Windows Vista and 7 are not supported. Ferguson Enterprises. Price: $365.99; SCANACAN Professional Deluxe includes more extensive databases, $849.99; SCANACAN Professional Elite includes a cash drawer and receipt printer, $2,149.98.
Smart Globe: The Smart Globe is an educational globe of the world which speaks information about the locations touched with the included “SmartPen”. This information includes the names of countries, continents and bodies of water, as well as capitals and spoken languages. The globe’s data can be updated via a USB connection to a computer. It is produced by Oregon Scientific and available from Independent Living Aids Price: $129.25.
SoundTaxi Blind: SoundTaxi Blind is a set of JAWS scripts for SoundTaxi,(an audio and video file conversion package.) These scripts allow blind users to convert audio and video files to alternate formats, and transfer their files to iOS and other media players from their PC. Do It Blind. Price: Free.
Speaking Speller: Speaking Speller is a self-voicing educational software package intended to help students to improve their spelling. It offers a large list of included vocabulary words for grades two through ten that can be further customized by the teacher. This software also includes quiz-building features for instructors, and students are offered encouragement through animated characters and spoken feedback. MarvelSoft. Price: Single-User, $54.95; Network, $129.95.
Spotify Blind: This set of JAWS scripts provide access to the Spotify Music service. Users can search for and play music, as well as create playlists. Do It Blind. Price: $9.99.
Talking Rx: This is a pill bottle base with a recording function. It records up to sixty seconds-worth of instructions about the medication it contains (no other device needed for recording). To record, the pharmacist or caregiver presses the red button inside the base. The bottle message can be re-recorded as needed; the message is activated by the button on the side of the unit. Bottle bases come in two sizes, small (13/16 dram) and large (40/60 dram), and standard pill bottles will fit onto the base. The units use AG13 batteries, and come with the batteries installed. Millennium Compliance Corporation. Sold by Independent Living Aids. Price: small base, $24.95; large base: $26.95.
Talking Teacher: A bundle of MarvelSoft’s educational software. Marvel Math, Quality Quiz, Speaking Speller, and Talking Typing Teacher are included in this package. Please see individual entries for more information on each of these programs. (All programs are located in this section with the exception of Marvel Math which is in the Math and Science section of this technology resource list.) Marvelsoft. Price: Single User license, $204.95; network license, $654.95.
Talking Typer for Windows: This self-voicing program can be used as an aid for developing and improving typing skills. It does not require a screen access program. American Printing House for the Blind. Price: $79/individual; $89 with enhanced voicing; site licenses available.
Talking Typing Teacher: Digitized human speech (MarvelTalk) is used for menus, options, student accounts, each lesson or practice session, and the help desk. A text-to-speech synthesizer is used to read your name and play back text you type with the word processor. The program includes large type options. It runs on Windows 7, Vista, XP, ME, 2000, 98, or NT (Service Pack 4). MarvelSoft. Price: Single User License, $104.95; Network License, $404.95.
TypeAbility: This program makes use of the JAWS for Windows screen access software or MAGic screen magnification software to provide a typing tutor for children and adults. Pre-programmed lessons are included, but the ability to design lessons is also available for teachers. The program will provide feedback on a student's progress, as well as encouraging them along the way. In addition to traditional touch-typing, the program also offers support for one-handed typists, and Braille entry using the Power Chord Braille keyboard. YesAccessible! Price: $150 for a single installation; $400 for a 5-user site license; $600 for a 10-user site license; $775 for a 20-user site license; $925 for a 30-user site license; and $1025 for a 40-user license.
This section describes some available solutions for accessible mobile phones. The reader is advised to try out any system before purchasing it.
Android phones: Many Android phones now come with some accessibility features installed, though these vary depending on the phone and the version of the operating system. The official Google screen access product is called Talkback and it is gesture-based. As Google is constantly working to improve their software, devices with Android version 4.1-4.2 (Jelly Bean) and up offer the best accessibility options, including support for BrailleBack which allows the phone to be connected to a growing number of Bluetooth Braille displays. Not all applications included on the phone are accessible to users of TalkBack and BrailleBack. However, accessible software in many categories exists to replace the default apps. These features (and future updates) are most reliable on Google’s flagship phones such as those in the Nexus series. A variety of replacement and supplemental services are also available. For more detailed information please visit http://eyes-free.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/documentation/android_access/index.html. Price: Free.
Nexus 5: The Nexus 5 is Google’s flagship Android phone. It comes with the latest version of Android. Odin Mobile sells this phone preconfigured for accessibility. Price through Odin Mobile: $399 with instructional package; $359 without.
Blackberry ScreenReader: Blackberry’s screen access software, available for BlackBerry Curve 9220, 9320, 9350, 9360, and 9370 smartphones, is free to download and is designed to provide audible output of the visual information displayed on the screen of a BlackBerry® smartphone. The information included is largely limited to default applications, such as email, text messages, calling features and settings. Web browsing is not supported. Price: Free from http://us.blackberry.com/legal/accessibility.html.
iPhone: The iPhone 6 and 6+ are the latest iPhone models currently sold by AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, a growing number of smaller carriers (both pre-paid and contract based) and, of course, Apple. It is available in 16 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB models. The touch screen device is made accessible with VoiceOver for iPhone that provides specialized gestures tailored for allowing nonvisual access to the system. A zoom function and color inversion are also available for low vision customers. Prices for the phone are substantially lower when purchasing a qualifying wireless plan that includes iPhone data access. Apple Inc. Prices for the iPhone 6: With two-year contract, 16 GB, $199; 64 GB, $299; 128 GB, $399. Without contract, 16 GB, $649; 64 GB, $749; 128 GB, $849. Add $100 to all prices if purchasing the 6+.
Mobile Accessibility: Mobile Accessibility is an application for Android-based mobile phones. Mobile Accessibility provides a suite of eight applications: phone, contacts, SMS, alarm clock, calendar, email, web browser, and WhereAmI. Users can also access settings for Mobile Accessibility and a list of all the applications available on a phone. Mobile Accessibility provides both speech and Braille access to its own application suite. It does not make all applications accessible. Users must link their Android phones with a Google account and should also install the free applications: Brailleback, Kickback, Soundback, and Accessibility Preferences. A detailed user guide is available on the Code Factory site (http://codefactoryglobal.com/app-store/mobile-accessibility/). Users should check the Code Factory site for a current list of supported phones, as well as carriers that offer Mobile Accessibility at a discount. (At present, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all offer re-branded editions of this software with slightly varying capabilities at no charge to their customers.) A thirty-day demo is available. Another essential site and a good place for beginners is Android Access: http://www.androidaccess.net/. This site seeks to list all the accessible applications for Android. From the tools section, users can download a demo for Mobile Accessibility and other useful applications. Note that there is a demo version of Mobile Accessibility for both the UK and US. Code Factory. Price: $99.
Mobile Speak/Mobile Magnifier: Mobile Speak is a cross-platform screen access package for cellular telephones. One license allows the user to install one copy of Mobile Speak on one cell phone, whether it be a SmartPhone (Windows Mobile without touch screen), PocketPC (Windows Mobile with touch screen), or Symbian-based phone. The software provides access to aspects of the phone such as contacts, calendar, email, web browsing, call logs, and phone status information, such as battery level and signal strength. It also allows access to third-party applications such as Twitter, GPS, Skype, and others. Users can choose from a number of voices at initial purchase time or add additional voices for a fee later. Mobile Magnifier provides ten magnification levels, up to 6x, a choice of seven color schemes, and font smoothing. AT Guys. Price: $50 for Mobile Magnifier, $275 for MobileSpeak.
Narrator: Narrator is the screen reader built into Windows Phone 8.1 devices. As of this publication, it is still listed as a beta program on the support pages. Narrator provides access to most of the main applications on the phone, though applications built using Microsoft Silverlight do not work currently. Available on newer Windows Phone devices. Check with your carrier and/or phone manufacturer before purchasing. The Narrator support page is at: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/how-to/wp8/settings-and-personalization/use-narrator-on-my-phone. Price: Free.
Nokia Screen Reader: Nokia Screen Reader is Nokia’s free screen access software. Downloadable from the Nokia store, the app uses simple commands to access information about time, signal strength, connection status, etc. The app is based on Code Factory’s Mobile Speak, though it is simpler. Check http://codefactory.es/en/products.asp?id=425 for a current list of supported phones. Price: Free from the Nokia store (http://store.ovi.com/content/224364).
Talks and Zooms: Talks is a Symbian-based screen reader for various mobile phones. It provides access to phone functions such as calendar, contacts, call logs, email, and internet browsing. It also allows editing and reading of Quick Office files. Other third-party applications are also usable with Talks. The premium license includes DAISY-To-Go, a solution for playing audio files and DAISY format publications, and Zooms, Nuance's magnification solution. Zooms offers up to 16x magnification, as well as color inversion. Support for Braille displays is also available. Talks uses Eloquence Speech by default, but additional Nuance voices are available in a variety of languages. Sold by Beyond Sight. Price: $295.
Odin VI: This is a basic phone designed to be accessible to the visually impaired. It features large, tactually identifiable buttons, as well as voice readout of all functions. Odin Mobile. Price: $149.99
Carrier-specific accessible phones: Some carriers offer feature phones which have some level of accessibility. Usually, the main menus, phone, most settings, and sometimes text messaging will read. Two such phones currently available are the Samsung Gusto 3 from Verizon and the Kyocera Verve from Sprint. Check with your specific carrier for pricing and availability.
Screen access software allows a blind person to access the material on a computer screen. All Microsoft Windows operating systems: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 are accessible. Computers running OSX 10.4 (Tiger) or higher work with VoiceOver technology. Linux systems can be made accessible but require an experienced user to set up an accessible Linux system.
Cobra: This Windows screen access solution offers three versions: Braille and speech, magnification, and a professional version that combines both options. Cobra offers support for twelve languages, numerous Braille displays, and includes “Cobra Explorer,” a module that works on top of Internet Explorer and Firefox to offer a more optimized web surfing experience. Cobra also purports to have extensive support for Java applications. Cobra is produced by Baum Retec AG of Germany and distributed in the United States by Baum USA. Price: Cobra Braille and Speech, $749; Cobra Zoom, $649; Cobra Professional (Braille, speech, and magnification), $849.
Guide: Guide is a suite of self-voicing, self-magnifying applications for users who are looking for a simplified computing environment. It includes email; word processing; document scanning; podcast playback; internet radio; RSS reader; file manager; DVD, CD, and MP3 playback; CD and DVD creation; contact and appointment managers; and other tools. At an added cost, it is possible to purchase a computer system already pre-loaded with Guide. Developed by Dolphin. Sold by EVAS. Price: Guide Software Suite, $795; $1,295; Guide Value-Series Mini-Tower System, $2,395.
JAWS for Windows: This software provides speech and Braille access to the Windows operating system and a wide range of Windows applications. The installation process talks. JAWS comes with its own speech synthesizer and many other synthesizers are supported, as well as a wide variety of refreshable Braille displays. JAWS provides support for web applications that use the Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) standard. Also provided is a powerful scripting tool that can be used to improve access to many applications that initially may not be compatible with JAWS for Windows. JAWS 16 no longer has Windows XP support. Users of XP can download JAWS 15 from the Freedom Scientific site. Freedom Scientific. Price: JAWS Professional (for use in commercial/institutional settings) $1,095; add access for Remote Desktop, Terminal Server/Citrix: $200
JAWS Home User Edition: (JAWS Home User Edition is for anyone using JAWS in a personal, non-commercial setting, such as their home. It can be used on all versions of modern operating systems.) Freedom Scientific. Price: $895 .
NVDA: This free, open source screen access program works with the Windows operating system and a number of common applications. NVDA is built around accessibility standards designed for desktop and web applications, and works best with programs and sites that correctly observe them. This screen access package has extensive support for web applications that take advantage of the Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) standard to enhance the blind user's experience in the browser. NVDA comes with the eSpeak synthesizer, but SAPI-compliant voices can be substituted. NVDA. Price: Free.
SuperNova Screen Reader: SuperNova Screen Reader comes with its own software speech synthesizer, and supports a number of other speech synthesizers and refreshable Braille displays for Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. Dolphin Computer Access LLC. Price: $795; Unlock code only, $761; On Dolphin Pen, $890.
System Access: System Access allows a user basic screen access for many widely used Windows applications. System Access by default comes with Dectalk voices. For an additional per voice fee, two Real Speak voices or the Eloquence voices can be downloaded and installed. This program supports Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. A variety of hardware and software configurations are available to suit user needs. Options for remote access to a computer with speech are also available. Price: System Access can be purchased outright; alternatively, the user can get a monthly subscription. Prices vary depending on the package chosen. Please contact Serotek for current pricing information, or visit http://www.serotek.com/softwaresolutions. The AIR Foundation and Serotek now also offer System Access To Go, which gives free screen access to the internet via the website www.satogo.com.
SuperNova Access Suite: These programs are a combination of the SuperNova screen access program (see above) and the SuperNova screen magnification program. Supernova Access Suite provides speech, refreshable Braille, and enlarged screen access to Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. Dolphin Computer Access LLC. Price: Supernova Access Suite, $1,195; Unlock code only, $1161; On Dolphin Pen, $1,290.
Talking Toolbox: This self-voicing program is designed for the beginning computer user or someone who does not desire a lot of features. Using a combination of pre-recorded messages and synthesized speech, this program offers a word processor, a calculator, email, a calendar, an address list, and built-in help. Marvelsoft. Price: $79.95.
VoiceOver: This screen reading access application program ships with all of the Apple family of desktop and laptop computers running OSX 10.4 and later. VoiceOver is also included in all iPhone, iPod, and iPad models, as well as the Apple TV. VoiceOver works with most common applications for the Mac, and many of the apps available from the app store. Price: included in purchase of Apple product.
Window-Eyes Pro: Window-Eyes Pro supports nearly all Windows operating systems, including XP Home, XP Pro, Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. Window-Eyes Pro includes four software speech synthesizers and supports a range of Braille displays. The full list is available at http://www.gwmicro.com/Window-Eyes/Supported_Equipment/. GW Micro, Inc. Price: $895, or $39 a month. Window-Eyes is also available for free if you have a registered copy of Microsoft Office 2010 or later. The main differences are that users do not receive a physical CD, manual, etc., only SAPI and ESpeak for synthesizers, and there is no technical support included. All of these can be purchased, if desired. This version of Window-Eyes can be downloaded from: http://www.windoweyesforoffice.com/