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Leasey And Other Products Half Off During Convention Season

Hartgen Consultancy is lining up some big discounts for convention season. Starting July 5, the Leasey add-on for Jaws along with other products including J-Dictate will be available for half off. You do not need to attend any of the conventions to receive this deal. Check the link on this post to learn more about these products. Deals end July 15.

Researchers to Demonstrate Their Solution for Cheaper Braille Displays at Chicago Haptics Conference

Stop us if you've heard this one before. A team of researchers are developing a multiline braille display that could dramatically reduce the cost and increase braille literacy. This isn't a rerun, rather another in a growing list of projects aiming to combat the fall of braille adoption in recent years. Sile O’Modhrain and Brent Gillespie, two researchers from the University of Michigan will present their findings at the World Haptics Conference in Chicago on Tuesday.

According to an article from the Economist, The screen of the device includes a grid of pins the diameter of Braille dots. Normally, the tops of these pins are flush with the screen’s surface. When needed, though, they can be pushed upwards to create patterns representing Braille symbols. This is possible because each pin rests on a silicone-rubber membrane that sits above a small cavity. The cavity is, in turn, connected to a tiny pneumatic line and valve. When air is blown through the valve into the cavity, the membrane balloons up, pushing the pin above the screen’s surface."

The researchers anticipate that a display the size of a tablet, with 26 lines of 40 cells each, could be sold for under $1,000.

The Optacon for your Tongue? $10,000 BrainPort V100 Approved by U.S. FDA

If you were waiting to drop $10,000 on a device which allows you to navigate using your tongue, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just made your dreams come true. The BrainPort V100 uses a camera mounted on a pair of sunglasses, a remote control, and a small square device that rests on the users tongue. After training, users can navigate hallways, read short words, and even play darts. The device was approved in Europe in 2013 and is now making its way stateside after the FDA approval. Here's a 2011 BBC article on the technology. Check the link on this post for more info.

Tyler Spivey has made it Possible to Play the Game Boy Title Pokémon Crystal with Speech

Tyler Spivey has done it again. Access to a popular text adventure on Game Boy may have been one of the last things that anyone thought was possible, but a new project has done just that. The Pokecrystal access project is a set of scripts which provide access to the game Pokémon Crystal using a Game Boy emulator and text-to-speech. As text is displayed on the screen, the scripts allow the user to read it, understand their surroundings, and play a game intended for a portable console. It's one of the few examples we've seen which gives access to a game on a mainstream gaming platform. Check the link on this post to get more details including a downloadable version that you can play.

How to Get JAWS, OpenBook, and MAGic for $200 Total at #NFB15

Freedom Scientific is offering an unprecedented deal on JAWS 16, OpenBook, and MAGic at the upcoming NFB convention in Orlando. Members can visit the exhibit hall to obtain a new license of JAWS version 16 for $75, a 92 percent savings. Deals on Jaws upgrades, OpenBook version 9, and the MAGic screen magnification suite are also available. The screen reading landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years with the rise in popularity and functionality of NVDA and AI Squared's free copy of Window-Eyes for users of Microsoft Office. The complete announcement is below.

Baum Continues Expansion with Imminent Launch of UK Office

Baum is continuing its strategy of opening regional sales offices, on the heels of its U.S. opening in 2014. BAUM Retec (UK) is slated to open on July 1 with Ian Bradburn at the helm. Ian is a former National Sales and Marketing Manager for Sight & Sound Technology and has more recently worked in the world of beef jerky. They're already on Twitter at @BAUMRetecUK. To gain some insight on what it's like when opening a new sales office, check out this interview with David Bradburn about the U.S. arm of Baum at CSUN in 2014. Thanks to Dave Williams for the tip.

Hims Blaze ET and Smart Beetle Now Shipping

Hims is now shipping two previously-announced products, the Blaze ET digital media player and the 14-cell Smart Beetle braille display. The Blaze ET is the second in the Blaze series and includes a numeric keypad for data entry, similar to the BookSense. In addition to the usual array of book and music playback options, it includes optical character recognition, a calculator, color identifier, and an optional dictionary. It's available now for $749. The Smart Beetle, which currently sells for $1,295,can connect to up to 6 devices at once (5 Bluetooth plus one USB and runs for up to 24 hours of continuous use. Both items are also available from our sister site, A T Guys

New Survey on Accessible Fitness Equipment

Efforts are continuing to determine the best solutions for making fitness equipment accessible, and a new survey seeks input to help guide further research. The survey is being conducted by the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and seeks both blind and sighted participants to complete a 10-15 minute survey on fitness equipment with electronic consoles. Check the link on this post to take the survey.

Survey Seeks Feedback on Remote Assistance Apps like Be My Eyes

The Institute for Visualization and Interactive Systems at the University of Stuttgart is seeking feedback on how blind and visually impaired individuals use remote assistance apps such as [Be My Eyes.]( They've created a short survey, which we've linked to on this post, intended for those who have used the service. This survey is not affiliated with the developers of the free Be My Eyes app.

NVDA 2015.2 Includes MathPlayer 4 and Excel Chart Support, Fixes Google Search Bug, More

Version 2015.2 of the free NVDA screen reader has been released. This version includes a variety of new features including enhanced support for charts in Microsoft Excel, support for the latest version of MathPlayer for reading mathematical equations, and a list of bug fixes including the errant echoing of characters in some search boxes such as on the Google website. The complete list of changes in this release is below.

Meet Canute, a Multiline Braille Display for the Masses that's Being Tested Now

There's been a lot of talk about multiline braille displays, but one group has created a set of working units that are in the hands of testers. Dubbed the Canute, the display was demonstrated by Bristol Braille Technology, a UK-Based nonprofit and hackspace which recently created the prototype. The display includes 4 lines of text containing 28 cells per line and costs 440 pounds, or roughly $686 U.S. dollars as of the time of this post. Their website hints at a possible 8-line version as well. It uses off-the-shelf components and is powered by a Raspberry Pie, an inexpensive ultraportable computer often used by tinkerers. The software powering the display is also open-source. Check out the press release below to learn more. Thanks to Dave Williams for the tip.

End of an Era: Duxbury Systems Officially Discontinues MegaDots Due to Lack of UEB Support

The transition to Unified English Braille has meant some tough decisions for companies who produce software that involves braille translation. To this end, Duxbury Systems has confirmed that their secondary transcription product, MegaDots, has been officially discontinued and is no longer being sold. MegaDots was originally produced by Raised Dot Computing, later Braille Planet, and was the chief competitor to Duxbury's own product until it was purchased in August of 1999. The interface and feature set of MegaDots had a loyal following, and Duxbury Systems continued to sell both products until the recent announcement. MegaDots does not support the UEB code, which will become the standard in the United States by 2016. Technical support will be available through July 4, 2016 and those who purchased MegaDots recently are being given the opportunity to transition to Duxbury. The complete message from their website is below.

NLS Bard App Now Available for Android

Android users can now join their iOS friends in reading books from the National Library Service. The BARD mobile app, which allows users to download and listen to audio books and magazines, is now available for Android. U.S. members with a valid National Library Service account can sign in with their current username and password after downloading the app from Google Play. We've linked to the app from this post.

HumanWare Quietly Ends BrailleNote mPower and PK Support; Software Keys No Longer Available

HumanWare has quietly endet most support for older BrailleNote units including the mPower and BrailleNote PK. As a side-effect of this change, BrailleNote mPower, Classic, and PK users who may have been eligible for updates are no longer able to download the software keys necessary to install these updates, meaning the updates are no longer available for installation. HumanWare has posted a disclaimer on the support pages for these older units, which we have reprinted below.

Humanware Releases Previously-announced Trekker Breeze Plus

HumanWare has released the previously-announced update to the Trekker Breeze handheld GPS system. The Breeze+ uses the same housing as the original and includes a greatly-improved GPS chip which should lead to better accuracy and quicker satellite acquisition time. Put simply, the locations and directions given by the unit should be much more on target than the original. New users can get the Breeze+ for $799 while existing users can pay $199 to upgrade their unit with the new hardware. You can learn more from our CSUN interview with Greg Stilson which includes a demo of the unit. The complete press release is below.

Breaking: You Can Now Binge Watch House of Cards on Netflix with Audio Description

Netflix continues to expand its library of content with audio description, which now includes all 3 seasons of the political drama House of Cards. This joins a growing roster of over 70 titles of both Netflix originals and programs from other networks which now includes described tracks. Marvel's Daredevil and Orange is the New Black are among the originals that were posted previously. In case you're new to Netflix and Audio Description, here's how to enable description on various platforms.

BrailleNote KeySoft 9.5 Brings Exam Mode, Internet Radio, UEB Enhancements

HumanWare has anounced the release of KeySoft 9.5, the latest free upgrade for the BrailleNote and VoiceNote Apex. This version includes the previously-announced exam mode feature which lets teachers lock parts of the unit such as the spell checker while taking tests. Also included are an Internet radio feature similar to that of the Victor Stream, some tools for converting math in Unified English Braille to print, and a Quick Notes feature. We've included the complete anouncement below.

Online Registration for ACB Convention in Dallas now Available

Registration is now open for the American Council of the Blind's 54th Annual Convention. This year's event will be held at the Sheraton Dallas from July 3-11. Online registration is available through June 25 and can be accessed from the link on this post.

Serotek Announces 3rd Generation of DocuScan Plus, Taking Upgrade Preorders for $149

Serotek has announced a major upgrade for its DocuScan Plus OCR product for Windows and Mac computers. The forthcoming third generation of the software will include a new scanning and OCR engine which will read documents in multiple languages, enhanced PDF support, enhanced integration with the iBlink Radio app, scanning of saved images, and Bookshare support among other improvements. Preorders for the upgrade are available now for $149 with an expected release in June. The complete Email release is below. Thanks to Prattik for the tip.

National Braille Press Updates Braille Spelling Dictionary for UEB

As preparation for the adoption of Unified English Braille continues, more resources are appearing to help people learn the new format. The new Braille Spelling Dictionary by Gregory Hurray includes 1,400 elementary level words in print, uncontracted braille, and contracted UEB braille all on the same page. it's a great tool for new braille users or those needing an introduction to UEB. It's available now for $15 from National Braille Press.

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