Blind World Magazine

IVEO, Tiger Advantage Tactile Graphics, and Braille Embossers from Viewplus Make Pictures Speak.

The Fred's Head Companion.
Friday, May 19, 2006.

Professor John Gardner, a blind physicist from Oregon State University, founded ViewPlus in Corvallis, OR. After a dramatic turn of events left Dr. Gardner blind in mid-career, he was presented with a challenge: comfortably retire or develop the technology necessary to remain a prominent fixture of the academic community. With his naturally positive spirit and inquisitive mind, Dr. Gardner chose the latter, and ViewPlus was born. Dr. Gardner's research and development ranges from innovative hardware and software to revolutionary new ways of using Braille for math and science access.

Although ViewPlus distributes a myriad of software and hardware products like the Tiger Software Suite and the world's only Accessible Graphing Calculator, Dr. Gardner's premier hardware development is the ViewPlus embosser series. What makes the ViewPlus embossers series like no other braille printer in the world is they are all Powered by Tiger, ViewPlus' proprietary embosser technology. This allows ViewPlus embossers to interact with Windows software just like ink printers - creating a perfect tactile copy of exactly the same information - text, graphics, charts, etc. - just like an ink printer. The embossers even use different dot heights as colors get darker or lighter, just like an ink printer would use more or less ink. ViewPlus offers the only embossers with this seamless compatibility with mainstream Windows software.

The end users of ViewPlus products are mainly blind students in the K-12 and College/University level but the Company also serves a growing population of corporate and government clients with visually impaired employees. There are approximately 93,600 visually impaired or blind students and at least 1.5 million blind and visually impaired Americans using computers today.

The Chameleon

The Chameleon offers a way for the visually impaired to interact directly with graphical information using a proprietary touch pad and software. Instead of requiring sighted assistants to alter information and images to accommodate Braille labeling, visually impaired computer users can simply "print" an image and using Chameleon, touch areas of the graphic and while feeling the "visual" information, have text and other characteristics read out-loud through computer generated speech.

Want to raise some excitement? Add tactile graphics to your print-outs

ViewPlus Technologies has created a Windows printer that embosses text and graphics from any Windows application. Line and textured graphics are embossed with the Tiger, and text can easily be converted to Braille. According to info on the company's website: "Any competent computer user can create tables, diagrams, maps, math equations, and virtually any text for blind people."

The printer price includes the Tiger Advantage, power cord, Windows printer driver, ViewPlus screen fonts and corresponding dot pattern files, and the ViewPlus Braille Translator with its Duxbury translation engine.

Emprint: Braille Printer with Color HP Inkjet

Emprint is the first Braille printer that embosses Braille with the equivalent color ink. The ability to print Braille and ink in a single-pass will allow people with visual impairments and sighted people to communicate more effectively in the classroom and workplace.

As more Braille readers join the mainstream, the need for communication between sighted and blind people grows. Emprint allows Braille documents to be shared amongst sighted colleagues and teachers by printing the corresponding ink characters above or beside the Braille.

Anything that is seen on a computer screen is printed quickly in Braille and color ink, together or separately. People who are blind can print Braille for their personal use and an ink version for their sighted colleagues. Using a single printer saves them valuable workspace and money.

People with low-vision and others who may not read Braille can also use the tactile and ink features for better comprehension of spatial material. Adding color to a raised image makes materials, like tactile maps or diagrams, more engaging for low-vision and learning disabled students.

Emprint uses the familiar interface of Microsoft Office to create Braille and ink documents that can be printed in a single pass. Braille text can be printed in a wide variety of languages. Ink text can be printed in any size, color or font the user chooses. Tactile graphics, like maps and bar charts, are printed with raised lines and color ink. The height of raised lines and objects is determined by their visual equivalent: the darker the color or shade, the higher the relief in that area.

The ink cartridges and paper used in the printer can be found at any local office supply store. The types of paper can range from normal copy paper to traditional-weight Braille paper.

There are helpful samples of the printer's capabilities available on the company's web site. For additional information, use the contact info below.

IVEO (TM) Software Makes Pictures Speak

ViewPlus (R) Technologies released IVEO (TM) software to add audio labels to digital images to make learning more interesting and accessible.

Websites and textbooks are loaded with images and diagrams that can be difficult to interpret by people with learning and visual disabilities. IVEO (TM) allows pictures to be labeled with audio tags, making them more interactive and inclusive for the reader.

Different components of an image can be individually labeled with speaking tags in IVEO (TM). By navigating with a mouse or keyboard, one can hear the labels assigned to each part of a diagram or image, enhancing comprehension beyond use of vision alone.

For blind people as well as sighted tactile/kinesthetic (touch) learners, IVEO (TM) has an optional hardware component, called the IVEO (TM) Touchpad. Tactile printouts can be placed on the IVEO (TM) Touchpad to provide an alternative display of images on the computer screen. Users can then read printouts through a combination of sight and touch, receiving audio feedback as they explore the image.

It is easy to create IVEO (TM) documents. IVEO (TM) includes drawing, writing and editing tools for making tactile/audio/visual files like speaking maps and diagrams. Images can also be imported from most Windows programs as well as from clipart or bitmaps. The IVEO (TM) software package even includes a scanning and OCR feature for seamless importing of printed pictures and images.

The IVEO (TM) Creator software and IVEO (TM) Touchpad can be purchased separately or as a discounted set. The IVEO (TM) Viewer is also available as a free download to enable easy sharing of files made in the IVEO (TM) Creator software.

For more information on this, and other products from ViewPlus, please see the following:

ViewPlus Technologies, Inc.
1853 SW Airport Avenue
Corvallis, OR 97333
Phone: 541-754-4002
Fax: 541-738-6505

posted by Michael McCarty.

End of article.

Any further reproduction or distribution of this article in a format other than a specialized format, may be an infringement of copyright.

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