Blind World Magazine

Now the Blind can access PDA's too.

December 14, 2005.
Canada NewsWire.

Walk through any airport, or coffee shop in a downtown location and you'll find business professionals using small handheld computer to organize their day, take notes, send and receive emails and surf the web. Until now, blind Canadians have had to rely on specially built devices to perform the same sorts of tasks, and because these devices were specialty items and not mass-produced, they were prohibitively expensive.

Today, Aroga, Canada's leading distributor of assistive technology for people with visual impairments is pleased to announce the availability of Mobile Speak Pocket, a software package that will now provide blind and visually impaired Canadians access to standard Pocket PC devices running Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, and Windows Mobile 5.0 software. This includes devices from major manufacturers such as HP, Dell, Fujitsu and Siemens.

Mobile Speak Pocket provides spoken feedback from the handheld computer's internal sound card, reading information from the device back to the user. Using the speech output users can access the same applications that a sighted user would utilize for email, web browsing, chatting with online friends, listening to audio or video files, recording or taking written notes, and many other tasks.

The software program was developed by Code Factory, a company founded in 1998 in Barcelona, Spain. Code Factory is a leading developer of software for people who are blind or visually impaired. In the past they have developed video games for the blind, and products that provide speech feedback for the menus of cellular phones.

Mobile Speak Pocket has been widely hailed in the visually impaired and blind community as a breakthrough.

"This is a tremendous step forward in terms of access to mainstream technology," said Steven Barclay, VP of Sales and Marketing for Aroga. "For years blind Canadians have had to rely on specialized devices to perform tasks that many of us take for granted. Not only will Mobile Speak Pocket reduce the cost to end-users, but this also is a major step forward in terms of what people will be able to do with these devices."

"Anyone can now go to their local electronics retailer, and pick up a compatible device. The software can be downloaded via an Internet connection and activated by a code which we can supply by email or telephone. This sort of instant access has never been available before for this kind of device."

The software will also continue to be developed and will ultimately be able to provide access to other types of software that run on these devices such as Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technologies. Blind users will be able to navigate throughout a city with the assistance of directions provided by their hand held device.

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