Blind World Magazine


New Software Automatically Converts Digital Documents to Talking Flash Format





September 27, 2005.
Business Wire.




Texthelp's Lexiflow Software Service Makes It Easy for Publishers to Comply with the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) Already Adopted by Five States


Assistive technology software publisher Texthelp Systems, Inc. announced the release of a new software program that converts textbook publishers' content to a new digital format. Texthelp's Lexiflow (patent pending) program is a set of tools that works with Adobe(R) Acrobat(R) to convert publishers' textbooks and other instructional materials saved in PDF format to an electronic "talking Flash" presentation. This new format enables schools to more easily provide the publishers' learning materials and to ensure that they are accessible by all students on both Macintosh(R) and Windows(R) platforms. The student experience includes viewing an exact representation of the original book with supporting highlighted text-to-speech using the highest quality voices.


In addition to talking Flash technology, Lexiflow also provides an output format that complies with the U.S. Department of Education's National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS). NIMAS is the emerging standard that guides the production and electronic distribution of digital versions of textbooks and other instructional materials so they can be more easily converted into accessible formats for students, such as braille. Five states -- Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kentucky and New York -- have already adopted NIMAS and require that electronic instructional materials purchased by their schools are provided in this format. California is also considering adoption, and Texthelp expects that many more states will soon adopt the standard.


A further advantage to publishers with Lexiflow is that the system provides a cost-effective, accessible solution, that includes royalty-free, high-quality voices and a simple cost per title licensing fee. Since PDF documents are created by textbook publishers for all written materials as a standard part of the publishing process, they do not have to change their normal procedures or do anything differently to convert documents with Lexiflow. They simply submit the documents to Texthelp and the conversion is handled securely for them. Lexiflow provides a secure conversion environment that cannot be copied. It is backwards compatible to multiple versions of Windows and Mac OS. Converted documents are returned to publishers as talking Flash presentations and NIMAS formatted files, ready to distribute to schools on CD-ROM, DVD or online.


"As publishers faced increasing demands from state Boards of Education for accessible electronic textbooks, Texthelp developed a tool to simplify the process for them," said Mark McCusker, chief executive officer. "Our new Lexiflow software turns ordinary textbooks into feature-rich Flash presentations that make the content enjoyable and accessible for all students without changing or slowing down the normal publishing cycle of the materials. Our extensive research into the needs of leading education publishers clearly identified a trend that is growing and creating a demand for our technology, which will accelerate as more states adopt NIMAS."


Features.


Lexiflow produces an exact representation of the publisher's original PDF and provides consistency to users through an identical experience on both Macintosh(R) and Windows(R) platforms. A key feature of the talking Flash presentations created by Lexiflow is speech with synchronized highlighting that enables students to follow along with the words onscreen as they are being spoken. It was independently proven that this feature provided a 7-percent increase in students' reading comprehension. The program offers multiple language support. It also offers "zoom" and "pan" control for visually impaired students as well as a word search feature and multiple page navigation.


Pricing, Availability and System Requirements.


Lexiflow is available now and can accommodate any PDF file. Texthelp handles all Lexiflow file conversions as a service to publishers. Turnaround time to convert an average 700-page textbook is approximately four to six weeks. Pricing is customized, based on the length and complexity of the material a publisher wants to convert. For sales information, customers can call Texthelp at 1-888-248-0652. More information about Lexiflow and other Texthelp products is available on http://www.texthelp.com. Additional information about NIMAS is available at http://nimas.cast.org.


http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2005/Sep/1186778.htm




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